1303: Redneck Red Herring

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 26m
December 13th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Alexander Pellegrino, Sandra Walker, Emily Ball, Mike O'Reilley, Charles Wearn, Keith Saarloos, Martijn van den Enden

Associate Executive Producers: Chisel Distinctly, Keith Larson, Mike Salmon, Baron Dirty Dick Bangs of DC

Cover Artist: Tante Neel


Start of Show
Hunter Did Nothing Wrong Supercut
Anonymous Producer, notsure
Kamala Harris' Job Title confusion
Anonymous Producer, Bitbox
Ezra Levant Rebel News
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Alex Jones Jericho Rally
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
COVID Discussion
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Kary Banks Mullis - No Fauci
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Australia's attempt at an attenuated vaccine
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Start of first donations segment
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Tina the Keeper Explanation
Anonymous Producer, Smitty16
End of 1st donations segment
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Start of 2nd donations segment and meetups pitch
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
End of 2nd donations segment and meetups pitch
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Trump as Hitler
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
"I bet you do." -Dvorak
Anonymous Producer, Anonymous Producer
Suggest a new chapter
Defeated Producers
I learned from Mark Levin that all three Trump appointees voted against taking up the Texas case. There's no point in voting ever again, In Hawaii your vote doesn't count anyway and the same is now true in Colorado. The systemic election fraud is here to stay. The Democratic Republic under Constitutional Law is a myth. The country is now run by a radical leftist totalitarian state. Truth never matters to the Deep State. There is little difference between the US government and the CCP.
It wasn't Trump who lost the election. It was honest American citizens who wanted fair and honest government.. I actually predicted this would happen the day the American Front Line Doctors website was unlawfully taken down the day after they put it up by the Deep State. It had scientific studies that showed HCQ was effective. Had HCQ been widely used the death rate for the virus would have been reduced by 50% or better.
Trump was taken out because he was neither Republicon or Demonrat. He was a champion of the average American and the Deep State could not tolerate that. Trump won the true popular vote. Biden won the counterfeit and deceased or non-identifiable person machine generated vote. Kamala Harris will be a miserable president. She won nothing, not even a single primary. She is just another casting call girl who landed a big role in the greatest fiction ever told.
Devil Storm
I'm a senior officer in the US Army and currently assigned to the 82nd ABN Division. You referenced the "Devil Storm" training exercise that was being held by our 2 Brigade Combat Team (BCT) here at Ft Bragg. This is a quarterly event held by each of our BCTs.
There was an announcement from the 2 BCT Public Affairs Officer on their Facebook page with the title "a storm is coming." This announcement was poorly timed and taken out of context obviously.
No one in the operational Army is planning anything nefarious at this time. Doesn't mean it couldn't happen, and for now we are all focused on our readiness status and training. Nothing more.
Love the show and hope you and John continue your great work.
Thank you
Traitor Trading Cards of govenors
The Pence Play
Bush v Gore, where the US Supreme Court waded into the subject of a state's handling of elections, is considered one of the weakest of Supreme Court precedents. Many constitutional experts have said it would be unlikely for Supreme Court to ever want to revisit a situation where an election hangs on the decisions of unelected judges. Today the US Supreme Court reiterated they do not want to position themselves as the role of kingmaker, no matter how indirectly. So be it.
But what this means in practical terms is that whatever happens as a result of a legislative process--NO MATTER HOW UNORTHODOX OR UNUSUAL--will be allowed to stand. Nobody will be able to run to court for relief because it will be denied.
Remember those memes about Mike Pence pulling out an extra box of electors from under a table? It could literally happen and Democrats would have no recourse because the Supreme Court will not get involved. But we obviously aren't going to cheat like dirty stinking Democrats so what else could Pence do?
What about rejecting electors from states with pending allegations of fraud? What about deciding in his role as President of the Senate to hold a simple majority vote of whether alternate slates of electors should be allowed? What about allowing a motion to delay the counting of electors a month so the truth about Biden corruption plays out?
The potential is now limitless because no matter what Mike Pence does, the US Supreme Court has signaled that Article III (the courts) will not get involved in Article II (legislative) affairs surrounding an election.
So ultimately, the future of this country will be in the hands of Mike Pence. If so many electors are set aside that it becomes impossible for either candidate to reach 270, then it falls back to the House to vote by state delegation where there are currently 27 Republican legislatures and 23 Democrat.
Mike Pence has proven to be one of Trump's most loyal and faithful supporters. I believe if there is anything that can be done to right this injustice, Pence will have both the courage and conviction to do it.
Pope Francis zero emissions tweet
The current pandemic and climate change affect above all the lives of the poor. We must promote a culture that places at its center human dignity and the common good. For this reason the Holy See joins in the objective of net zero emission
Kamala Harris has not yet given up her Senate seat
Michael Bay Songbird COVID-23 movie is a piece of shit
President does marine one fly by over liberty park in DC
Car Wash Hoax %50 'deep clean'
Biden brother in law Steve Owens is part owner of dominion through Staple Street Capital
Fox going after Biden because DEMS want him out
Cameltoe’s ’ husband was a partner in Lord Mark Malloch-Brown’s firm which is the biggest foreign law firm
Shot in the arm metaphor - appease the Christians!
ITM, Adam,
(First name only if read, please)
I'm shortly into the Thursday show and you mention Joe's continuous mention of administering a shot "into the arms" of American's and how you think it is not the best phrasing to keep dropping in speeches.
I agree, it seems very aggressive, but I think there is a reason. I think this is a push to calm the conservative Christian community that is always on the lookout for Biblical End Times, the Anti-Christ, etc. The Dems and elites know they need to get pastoral buy in to dupe as many people as possible into getting this thing and they need to stay as far away from the scary Mark Of The Beast as possible.
Revelation 13: 16 - 18 (New International Version)
16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
Reiterating a shot in the arm is a signal to conservative Christian's that "Hey, it's just your arm, not your hand or forehead. We plan on restricting freedom subject to getting this and we have already restricted your religion, and I know there is a way to calculate 666 to associate with me, but C'mon, Man! We aren't the antichrist or anything... it's the ARM, you can get this thing."
I imagine we will keep hearing an emphasis on the arm (until they decide hand or face is better for scanning the microdots they implant with this thing lol).
Fox desperately distancing themselves from “mainstream media” (CHINA)
DNC Had Fang Fang on the payroll
Israeli Aliens story is a book promo
Eshed's account is shared in greater detail in a book called "The Universe Beyond the Horizon — conversations with Professor Haim Eshed" by Hagar Yanai.
Michigan Northern Lights from Reid
Yes, the northern lights reach Michigan, in the upper peninsula, people who were born and raised in the U.P. are known as yoopers, people born and raised below the bridge (lower peninsula) are known as trolls. And if you actually receive and read this e-mail, please put out a message for the masses... sauna is pronounced "sow-nah" not "saw-nah." It's a Finish word and with the large Finish immigrant population here, it's drives not only me, but everyone else around here nuts. Attached below are a few photos (not mine) or the northern lights via Michigan. P.s. still a douche, will donate when feasible.
Erectile dysfunction drug 'mix up' with depression medication causes nationwide product recall | Fox News
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 15:42
A Tennessee-based pharmaceutical company announced Wednesday that it is ''voluntarily recalling'' two drugs '' one that treats erectile dysfunction, the other depression '' after a ''product mix-up'' that resulted in the medications being "inadvertently packaged together" when they were bottled at a third-party facility.
AvKARE, which is headquartered in Pulaski, Tenn., is recalling one lot of Sildenafil 100 mg tablets and one lot of Trazodone 100mg tablets to the consumer level, the company said in an announcement reposted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website.
Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra, which is a PDE-5 inhibitor, and is used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and is packaged in 100-count bottles, the company said.
The recalled medications were "inadvertently packaged together." (FDA)
Unintentional consumption of Sildenafil may pose serious health risks to consumers with underlying medical issues, according to AvKARE. For example, Sildenafil may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs, such as nitroglycerin, lowering blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease often take nitrates.
The company said Trazodone hydrochloride is indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder and packaged in 1,000- count bottles.
The impacted products were distributed nationwide. (FDA)
Unintended intake of Trazodone may result in adverse health consequences, such as somnolence/sedation, dizziness, constipation and blurred vision '' all adverse events that may be more concerning in elderly patients due to a subsequent increased risk for falls and driving impairment, according to AvKARE.
The affected lots of Sildenafil 100 mg Tablet -- Lot 36884 with an expiration date of 03/2022 -- and Trazodone Hydrochloride 100 mg Tablet -- Lot 36783 with an expiration date of 06/2022 '' ''were distributed to our distributors and wholesalers, and then further distributed nationwide,'' the company said.
AvKARE said it has notified distributors and consumers of the error. (FDA)
AvKARE added that it ''notified its distributors and customers and is arranging for return of all recalled product of the listed lots.''
At the time the press release was published Wednesday, AvKARE had not received any reports of adverse events related to this recall.
As of Wednesday, no adverse reactions related to the recall had been reported. (FDA)
It advised any consumer who believes they have experienced any problems related to taking these drugs to contact their physician or health care provider. Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of this product may be reported to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.
VIDEO-Major leak 'exposes' members and 'lifts the lid' on the Chinese Communist Party | Sky News Australia
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:57
A major leak containing a register with the details of nearly two million CCP members has occurred '' exposing members who are now working all over the world, while also lifting the lid on how the party operates under Xi Jinping, says Sharri Markson. Ms Markson said the leak is a register with the details of Communist Party members, including their names, party position, birthday, national ID number and ethnicity. ''It is believed to be the first leak of its kind in the world,'' the Sky News host said. ''What's amazing about this database is not just that it exposes people who are members of the communist party, and who are now living and working all over the world, from Australia to the US to the UK,'' Ms Markson said. ''But it's amazing because it lifts the lid on how the party operates under President and Chairman Xi Jinping''. Ms Markson said the leak demonstrates party branches are embedded in some of the world's biggest companies and even inside government agencies. ''Communist party branches have been set up inside western companies, allowing the infiltration of those companies by CCP members - who, if called on, are answerable directly to the communist party, to the Chairman, the president himself,'' she said. ''Along with the personal identifying details of 1.95 million communist party members, mostly from Shanghai, there are also the details of 79,000 communist party branches, many of them inside companies''. Ms Markson said the leak is a significant security breach likely to embarrass Xi Jinping. ''It is also going to embarrass some global companies who appear to have no plan in place to protect their intellectual property from theft. From economic espionage,'' she said. Ms Markson said the data was extracted from a Shanghai server by Chinese dissidents, whistleblowers, in April 2016, who have been using it for counter-intelligence purposes. ''It was then leaked in mid-September to the newly-formed international bi-partisan group, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China- and that group is made up of 150 legislators around the world.''It was then provided to an international consortium of four media organisations, The Australian, The Sunday Mail in the UK, De Standaard in Belgium and a Swedish editor, to analyse over the past two months, and that's what we've done". Ms Markson said it, ''is worth noting that there's no suggestion that these members have committed espionage - but the concern is over whether Australia or these companies knew of the CCP members and if so have any steps been taken to protect their data and people''.
VIDEO-Anonymous donor gives nearly $65K to cover layaway items at Bristol Walmart | WJHL | Tri-Cities News & Weather
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:39
BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) '-- An anonymous person donated nearly $65,000 to pay off all layaway items at the Walmart in Bristol, Tennessee.
Walmart says the $64,995.51 donation that was made on Monday was enough to cover the store's entire layaway balance.
:I got a notification on my email that my layaway had been paid for,'' said shopper Lloyd Leonard. ''And I thought 'well that's kind of weird.''
Leonard was informed by management that the anonymous donation had covered his layaway fees.
''She said yeah somebody came in this morning at 6 o'clock and paid everybody's layaway,'' Leonard said. ''But he wants me to tell you that he loves you, God bless you and Merry Christmas.''
April Hilliard was another shopper whose layaway was paid off. She said she was overcome by the gesture.
''And she said 'honey, your layaway is paid in full and he said Merry Christmas and he loves you,''' Hilliard said. ''The emotional type that I am, I just broke. I just started crying.''
''It's especially touching when customers pay off others' layaways during the holiday season and serves as another example of the generosity our customers show year-round,'' Store Manager Kris Light said in a statement. ''We're honored to play a small role in these acts of kindness and we love seeing the joy it brings to our customers this time of year.''
According to the company, the anonymous donor wanted to positively affect as many people as possible.
''That restores my faith,'' Hilliard said. ''It's like a Christmas miracle. He's Santa, that's what he is. He's a Santa to everyone here.''
Latest stories:
VIDEO-Veritas News Feed on Twitter: "CBS show ''The Neighborhood'' indoctrinating kids to BLM-Marxist anti-white ideology..keep your kids away from this type of garbage.. https://t.co/DvsNzm8diZ" / Twitter
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:29
Veritas News Feed : CBS show ''The Neighborhood'' indoctrinating kids to BLM-Marxist anti-white ideology..keep your kids away from this t'... https://t.co/YsYm1NTTxO
Fri Dec 11 11:15:43 +0000 2020
Tom Doyle : @veritasnewsfeed @krezmien @CBS #BoycottCBS This one is incredibly easy patriots.
Sun Dec 13 12:41:36 +0000 2020
🇺🇸NC Patriot KP🇺🇸 : @veritasnewsfeed I'm good up until she throws out the BLM BS. Geez!
Sun Dec 13 12:37:39 +0000 2020
President-Elect Gator : @veritasnewsfeed Disgusting brainwashing
Sun Dec 13 11:17:35 +0000 2020
President Elect - Lee Braaten : @veritasnewsfeed Actually cbs - you're more likely to get shot of you're white... Buy don't let facts get in the way
Sun Dec 13 10:39:07 +0000 2020
Kyle S : @veritasnewsfeed No kids are watching network sitcoms 🤣🤣 I think they're safe
Sun Dec 13 09:15:48 +0000 2020
Lisa : @veritasnewsfeed I'm so sick of Hollywood thinking they are the authority on teaching us anything, Its their fault'... https://t.co/UPHsTYH7LC
Sun Dec 13 08:56:58 +0000 2020
Lola : @veritasnewsfeed This bullshit!!
Sun Dec 13 08:03:39 +0000 2020
American Guy : @veritasnewsfeed TV is trash. Hollywood sucks and they too stupid to realize nobody cares what they think
Sun Dec 13 08:02:27 +0000 2020
VIDEO-#FIGHTBACK on Twitter: "1/2 🚨 China fired the first shot of WWlll on American soil. The US military in response dropped a 30,000lb bunker buster in Michigan and Maine killing 50,000 Chinese soldiers out of 750,000 Any1 in these areas that heard o
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:06
#FIGHTBACK : 1/2 🚨 China fired the first shot of WWlll on American soil. The US military in response dropped a 30,000lb bunker b'... https://t.co/Cp7XmCRaGb
Fri Dec 11 07:33:10 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Fox News Conspired to Overthrow Trump, MyPillow CEO Tells 'Stop the Steal' March
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:06
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ally of President Donald Trump, accused Fox News of conspiring to overthrow Trump at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington D.C.
Thousands of demonstrators marched down the Capitol a day after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by Texas aimed at reversing Trump's defeat in four battleground states'--Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin'--that voted for President-elect Joe Biden. The country's highest court on Friday evening refused to hear the case filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the latest blow to the president's legal efforts to stay in office.
"We cannot give up ever on this," Lindell told the pro-Trump crowd Saturday afternoon. "This is a spiritual warfare in our country and in the world."
He also called Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud "real," saying "it's of epic proportions that this election was stolen."
Michael Lindell, CEO of MyPillow Inc., speaks during a COVID-19 press conference at the White House on March 30, 2020. Mandel Ngan/GettyLindell claimed that Fox News helped Democrats steal the election. "They were going for everything. They were going to take everything we had," he said. "Why do you think Fox declared Arizona with only 14 percent of the vote in? They already knew what they did! They were in on it!"
"I'm serious, they had to be on it!" Lindell concluded. "They should all go to prison when they are found out."
Newsweek reached out to Fox News for comment.
Lindell's remarks come one week after he insisted on Fox News that Trump will remain president. "I want the word to get out that Donald Trump will be our president for the next four years," he said during an interview with the network, before adding that he was 100 percent sure of it.
Meanwhile, MAGA supporters, once aligned with the GOP, turned on their party for allegedly not doing enough to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election.
"Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!" a crowd at the rally chanted.
The president and his allies had sold the Texas lawsuit as "the big one" that would finally deliver a second Trump term. But with the Electoral College set to officially confirm President-elect Joe Biden's win, their latest failed legal effort appeared to have marked the end of the road for Trump's 2020 campaign.
On Saturday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Brett Ludwig ruled that Trump's lawsuit seeking to overturn Biden's win in Wisconsin had no merit.
Trump has alleged that a stolen election caused his loss to Biden. But so far, the contents and claims of the president's lawsuits have been narrower, lacking in evidence and routinely tossed out of court.
VIDEO-How the new RNA technology is used to create the COVID-19 vaccines
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:59
The COVID-19 vaccine is using new technology that has never been used before in traditional vaccines. Here's how an mRNA vaccine works.
VIDEO-Hawley: Joe Biden has questions to answer about federal probe into Hunter | Fox News
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:40
In an interview Thursday on "America's Newsroom," Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said President-elect Joe Biden has questions to answer about the federal investigation into his son Hunter's tax dealings and any U.S. attorneys working on the case must remain in their positions once Biden is inaugurated.
Hawley also discussed his proposal for direct relief to working families if Congress could not pass a coronavirus stimulus bill in the coming days.
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY: We need to get to the bottom of what exactly has gone on here with Hunter Biden. And by the way, I hope an apology will be forthcoming from the Biden campaign and from Facebook and Twitter and all these people who censored the New York Post. Turns out, guess what? The New York Post was right. Hunter Biden is under investigation for money laundering, for tax fraud, and it involves his Chinese business dealings. I want to know is Joe Biden involved? What did the vice president know? We know that Hunter was traveling to China on a government plane in order to try to seek out business. Now he's under investigation for federal crimes for this. What did Joe Biden know and when did he know it? He needs to answer questions.
If Joe Biden is sworn in as president at the end of January, the United States Attorneys who are spearheading these investigations must remain in office. There is no doubt there cannot be a transition of anybody who is working on this case. It's too high-profile, it's too important, it involves federal crimes. It involves the vice president, at least indirectly. And if he is going to become the president, if that happens at the end of January, this investigation must go forward, and everyone involved with it must remain in place, and the details of all of it must be made public. I say again, the idea that Joe Biden has nothing to do with this and we should just take his word that he never talked to Hunter about his business dealings? We know that's not true. The laptop emails make clear that that's not true. There's going to be a lot of questions that need to be answered here.
The Homeland Security Committee on which I sit ... We issued a report about Hunter Biden's business dealings. The mainstream media dismissed it. They were wrong. We were right. We're going to make sure these questions get answered and the investigation goes forward.
The most important thing that Congress can do is to send direct assistance checks to every working family who needs them. $1,200 for individuals. $2,400 for couples, and $500 for every kid. That's what we did back in March. Every senator voted for it. The president is the one who led the charge for it. He supports that again. That's what we should do. Here is what I'm going to do. If Congress cannot agree in the next couple of days, today I'm introducing a bill for direct payments to working families. I will go to the floor and ask for an up-or-down vote on direct assistance to families.
VIDEO-CNN's Jim Acosta ROASTS Trump Over Supreme Court Texas Decision: 'The Kraken Has Croaked'
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:38
CNN Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta declared, while reporting on White House reaction to the Supreme Court's rejection of the Texas lawsuit challenging the election, that ''The Kraken has croaked.''
On Friday night's edition of Anderson Cooper 360, host Anderson Cooper talked about the news that the Supreme Court rejected the Trump-supported Texas lawsuit that sought to overturn election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin '-- essentially in unanimous fashion.
''Any response yet from the president or his team?'' Cooper asked Acosta.
Acosta said the White House press office was referring questions to the Trump campaign, but said that ''talking to a Trump advisor earlier this evening, when I asked this advisor, is this when the president gives it up and finally concedes and moves on with his life, this adviser said 'No way.' And earlier today, the same advisor was saying that nobody inside, just about nobody inside the president's team of advisers thought that this was going to turn out any other way. They just did not think the Supreme Court would do this, and now we see what the president wants to do next.''
''We know obviously he is not going to give it up, but he is running out of options, obviously very quickly,'' Acosta said, then added ''The far right like to refer to these legal challenges as the Kraken, but the Kraken has croaked.''
''But the president may be out of options, but he's not out of the opportunity to raise money, which seems to be at the heart of a lot of this,'' Cooper said, eliciting agreement from Acosta.
''That's right, there is no shortage, apparently, of Trump-friendly lawyers who will beclown themselves in this fashion,'' Acosta said, and predicted that until the House certifies the election on January 6, ''there is a window of fundraising opportunity for the president to continue this disinformation for dollars campaign.''
Watch the clip above via CNN.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]
VIDEO-Austin City Hall goes green Saturday night. Here's why | kvue.com
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:22
Austin City Hall won't be the only green-lit building. Landmark buildings in London, Paris, Tokyo and other cities around the world will be green Saturday night.
AUSTIN, Texas '-- Austin City Hall is going green '' literally.
On Saturday night, the City of Austin will bathe City Hall in green light "as a show of solidarity with cities across the globe in reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement," which was negotiated five years ago Saturday.
Landmark buildings in cities like London, Paris and Tokyo will also be cast in green light on the opening day of the Climate Ambition Summit 2020, co-hosted by the United Kingdom's Conference of the Parties 26th Meeting (COP26), the United Nations and the governments of Chile, France and Italy.
"Mayors are leading the fight against climate change worldwide. Most of climate change mitigation happens at the local level," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. "Austin is committed to doing its part under the Paris Accord because our community supports climate action '' it's who we are. Lighting green city halls across the globe (like ours tonight) is a great symbol of our collective action."
"Our city is deeply committed to taking aggressive action on climate change, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with other cities today," City Manager Spencer Cronk said.
You can learn about the City's climate change mitigation strategies here.
According to the City, Austin is also part of the Race to Zero campaign, "a global effort to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, investors and regions ahead of COP26, to strength contributions to the Paris Agreement."
WATCH: Travis County's Climate Action Plan mirrors the Paris Climate Agreement
VIDEO-🇺🇲JohnJohn-Q17🇺🇲 on Twitter: "🇺🇲ARMY NAVY GAME - THE ROCKET AT WESTPOINT - WE ARE READY TO GO.🇺🇲 https://t.co/OYHXmte8I5" / Twitter
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 02:46
🇺🇲JohnJohn-Q17🇺🇲 : 🇺🇲ARMY NAVY GAME - THE ROCKET AT WESTPOINT - WE ARE READY TO GO.🇺🇲 https://t.co/OYHXmte8I5
Sat Dec 12 20:22:45 +0000 2020
oscar ugarte ordo±ez : @JFKjrQ Desgraciados IMPERIALISTAS ...han creado su superioridad en base a los cadveres ,lagrimas y sufrimiento de'... https://t.co/XRVIZz4apg
Sun Dec 13 02:28:26 +0000 2020
Sun Dec 13 02:10:03 +0000 2020
Sun Dec 13 02:09:39 +0000 2020
Esther Leigh Cupstid : @JFKjrQ I LOVE IT''¤¸
Sun Dec 13 02:08:30 +0000 2020
Sherry : @JFKjrQ Our President looks wonderful
Sun Dec 13 01:47:40 +0000 2020
Brian M. Davis : @JFKjrQ #ArmyStrong All day long...been dialing in my CX4 Storm 🎯
Sun Dec 13 01:03:22 +0000 2020
Yajaira Palma : @JFKjrQ Belloooooo...I love!!
Sun Dec 13 00:51:37 +0000 2020
Modestly Arrogant : @JFKjrQ @Digital53174879 They love our President.
Sun Dec 13 00:41:59 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Trump does 'crowd flyover' in Marine One (raw)'... '' CITIZEN FREE PRESS
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 23:16
Posted by Kane on December 12, 2020 1:23 pmNEWS JUNKIES -- CHECK OUT OUR HOMEPAGE
Very nice crowd in Washington DC today for the president
Trump does flyover aboard Marine One on his way to Army Navy game'...
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2020
Tweeted by President trump in the last 30 minutes.
President @realDonaldTrump flies over Freedom Plaza in Marine One, before heading north to West Point for the #ArmyNavyGame.
THANK YOU, PATRIOTS''¤¸ðŸ‡ºðŸ‡¸ðŸ...… pic.twitter.com/cczbTXBSN4
'-- Dan Scavino🇺🇸ðŸ...… (@DanScavino) December 12, 2020
Dan Scavino's twitter feed'...
Tweets by DanScavino
Citizen Free Press is the homepage for real America. Drudge Report has abandoned conservatives.
We update headlines 18 hours per day, 7 days per week!
News Junkies '-- Bookmark our home page, and try not to get addicted'...
VIDEO-Kayleigh quick hit on Texas'... '' CITIZEN FREE PRESS
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 23:14
I found an interesting comment over at ZH today. I still read ZH and sometimes the comments'...depending on the subject matter'...although I don't post there.
A poster with the name ''dustinthewind'' gave a brief snyopsis of Martin Armstrong's predictions for the future. I think Armstrong may be EXTREMELY ACCURATE.
He was responding to: ''Which begs the question: if an entire political faction needed to sacrifice all its principles, all its values and all its morality to get rid of Trump'... what exactly was the point of getting rid of Trump?''
''That's easy! It was to implement the World Economic Forum's Great Reset, their New Green Communist World Order and Agenda 2030. Trump was the lasting western leader not to have signed onto their agenda. The Saudis and for that matter the whole Middle East and North Africa have not realized the extent of the World Economic Forum's war on fossil fuels and the continuing lockdowns to destroy the world economies and then implement their Great Reset and New Green Communist World Order. Destroying mass transit, airlines, leisure and hospitality, cruise industry, destination locations like Vegas, Caribbean, beaches, etc., the combustible engine, etc. all of this means less fuel consumption and far less revenues for those oil producing countries. Russian has already turned their back on Europe and Kerry as Climate Czar will end up starting a war with Russia and Biden with China as he has said during his campaign he will use ALL the US resources to bring China to its knees and sign onto the Great Reset. China, Russia, Iran, parts of Asia and many of their trading partners refuse to sign onto this agenda giving up sovereignty to the UN and controlled by unelected bureaucrats exactly like the EU where all members have already done so and controlled by Brussels. The UN will now control the US and implement the WEF Agenda 2030 with control of the military and its nukes. The WEF needed to remove Trump at all costs as their goal was if the US fell the other countries will fall into line and if not they have control of the military which would be unleashed which is why they betrayed Trump. This is the Pentagon's wet dream. China, Russia, etc. realize they are fighting for their very survival and will not simply roll over as both have lived thru communism and have no desire to return nor to destroy their economies with the Green Agenda as they are dependent on fossil fuels as users or producers. The WEF cannot implement their one world government and destroy the fossil fuel industry and ''rebuild'' going Green with China, Russia, etc. not signing on. Both see the Paris Climate Accord as a way not only to cap their growth but to destroy their economies as we are seeing now thru out the west and the US with the lockdowns. Biden will sign executive orders and force the whole US to comply as part of the WEF agenda is to destroy the US economy and remove their Superpower status which we are seeing now unfold as the economy goes straight downhill. The models at Armstrong Economics forecast the WEF will fail but destroy western culture and their economies before being stopped as the Great Reset will simply push the country on a death spiral. Also forecast we enter into a Great Depression in 2022 which will simply be devastating and Civil War a high probability. Also forecast starting in 2021/22 are the Monetary, Sovereign Debt and Pension Crisis all rolled onto one as they attempt to implement their Great Reset by cancelling private and sovereign debt and Stakeholder Economics which will collapse financial markets as bond and equity markets are no longer necessary, roll out MMT and UBI replacing former incomes and pensions as no government pension is sustainable. Shortages in everything will continue especially food with prices rising as they continue to destroy whole supply chains and businesses especially small and medium sized and many large business with only a few allowed to survive and stay open as again we are seeing now in socialist controlled states. If you understand the whole agenda it becomes clear why they are forcing homelessness, food lines, destruction of businesses and job losses and destroying the population both financially and psychologically. This will only get worse as we move into the future. The forecast in 2028 is the start of the real collapse of the US and this is when everything goes south and lasts 4.3 years to 2032 and from there to 2038 is the breakup of the US. Even Doug Casey has been forecasting this as the country is permanently divided and trust in elections, government and fellow Americans are now gone. Their Great Reset will result in economic destruction. As the US and the west implodes upon itself from their own policies and the economic war with China, Russia, etc.The forecast is also that post 2032 China becomes the world's financial center as massive taxes, draconian controls, failure of the Great Reset has capital fleeing from west to east. China and its partners simply contracts less than the US and the west as they the once mighty Empire falls. The WEF goal of destroying everything and then ''rebuilding'' Green will simply cause destruction and Schwab's Forth Industrial Revolution will never happen!''
VIDEO-Gov. Greg Abbott on Oracle, companies moving headquarters to Texas
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 22:51
Published Fri, Dec 11 2020 6:42 PM EST
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"I have been on the phone on a weekly basis with CEOs across the country, and it's not just California," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told CNBC.On Friday, Oracle became the latest company to announce it was moving its headquarters to Texas.Businesses are "looking for a state that gives them the independence, the autonomy and the freedom to chart their own course," the Republican added.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told CNBC on Friday that the number of companies deciding to move their headquarters to the Lone Star State has accelerated due in part to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Republican governor's comments came shortly after it was reported that software giant Oracle is moving its corporate center from Redwood City, California, in Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas. Hewlett Packard Enterprise also said earlier this month it is moving its headquarters to Houston from San Jose, California. Earlier this fall, real estate giant CBRE officially shifted its HQ from Los Angeles to Dallas.
"I have been on the phone on a weekly basis with CEOs across the country, and it's not just California," Abbott said on "Fast Money," referencing his meeting last month with officials from the Nasdaq. "We're working across the board because the times of Covid have exposed a lot. They've exposed ... that you really don't have to be in Manhattan, for example, in order to be involved in the trading business or the investment business."
In addition to the pandemic demonstrating the feasibility of more widespread remote work, Abbott said there are other characteristics attracting companies to Texas. "Cost of business means a lot. No income tax means a lot, but also the freedom to operate without the heavy hand of regulation means a lot," he said.
"This has turned into an absolute tidal wave," Abbott added, while noting many companies such as Oracle already had a presence in Texas before their official announcements. "They are looking for a state that gives them the independence, the autonomy and the freedom to chart their own course."
Abbott also pointed to Texas' relationship with Elon Musk, the chief executive of electric-vehicle maker Tesla and SpaceX, as evidence of the state's growing appeal to business leaders.
Musk has personally moved from California to Texas, and earlier this year, Tesla announced it had chosen a site near Austin to build its next U.S. factory. SpaceX also has a growing facility in Boca Chica, Texas, along the Gulf Coast. "Elon is elated to be here," Abbott said, adding the two men "talk on virtually a weekly basis."
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VIDEO-USPS Worker SPEAKS - "I'm not a Trump or Biden Supporter...I know something Wrong happened here." - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 20:34
VIDEO-New Zealand declares a climate change emergency | World news | The Guardian
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 20:21
New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025, in what the prime minister Jacinda Ardern called ''one of the greatest challenges of our time''.
A motion tabled in parliament on Wednesday recognised ''the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health through flooding, sea level rise, and wildfire''.
Thirty-two other nations have formally acknowledged the global crisis by declaring a climate emergency.
The motion acknowledged the ''alarming trend in species decline and global biodiversity'' including the decline in New Zealand's indigenous biodiversity. The declaration of a climate emergency was supported by the Green Party and Māori Party and opposed by the National and Act parties.
Speaking in parliament after its introduction, Ardern said the country must ''act with urgency''.
''This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now,'' she said.
''It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope.''
Ardern said the government sector will be required to buy only electric or hybrid vehicles, the fleet will be reduced over time by 20% and all 200 coal-fired boilers used in the public service's buildings will be phased out.
The motion also calls for recognition of the ''significant progress on meeting the challenge'' by the country through signing the Paris Agreement and passing the Zero Carbon Act 2019, which commits New Zealand to reducing emissions.
That legislation '' which sets up a Climate Change Commission tasked with putting the country on a path to net zero emissions by 2050 '' made New Zealand one of few countries to have a zero-emissions goal enshrined in law.
But experts says the country is well behind on changes needed. The lack of action was ''embarrassing'' and had become ''untenable'', University of Canterbury political science professor Bronwyn Hayward said last week. ''The irony is, even under [President] Trump, the US is going to have made better per-capita reductions than we have.''
Writing in The Conversation, Robert McLachlan, a professor of applied mathematics at Massey University, said New Zealand was yet to make emissions reductions. Of 43 industrialised countries, New Zealand is among 12 that have seen net emissions increase between 1990 and 2018.
This is despite strong statements from the prime minister, such as this when the Zero Carbon Act was passed in November last year: ''[New Zealand is] on the right side of history. I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time.''
Wednesday's declaration also said the government will ''demonstrate what is possible to other sectors of the economy by reducing the government's own emissions and becoming a carbon-neutral government by 2025''.
But opposition parties have described the move as a publicity stunt, with the National Party leader, Judith Collins, calling it ''virtue signalling''.
''We think it's all very well to declare an emergency but there's no proper plan in place as to how to deal with it,'' Collins told Radio New Zealand.
As an example, she pointed to the government's fleet of more than 15,000 vehicles, of which only about 10% are electric.
New Zealand contributes just 0.17% of global emissions but that is high for its size, placing it 17th out of 32 OECD countries. Its net emissions have risen by 60% in the past two decades.
The nation's biggest source of CO2 emissions is road transport but most greenhouse gases stem from agriculture.
New Zealand's pledges have been seen internationally as less than required and the second-term Labour government is yet to introduce carbon-cutting policies that would put the country on track to meet its emission targets.
VIDEO-Bugle Sound Effects | Soundsnap
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 20:09
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VIDEO-Army Bugle Call Reveille - Sound Effect - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 20:07
VIDEO-Leigh Dundas On The Effect Of A 2018 Trump Executive Order On The 2020 Presidential Election - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 19:49
VIDEO-Anonymous customer covers $65,000 of layaway items at Tennessee Walmart
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:38
Skip to contentSecret Santa: Anonymous customer covers $65,000 of Walmart layaway items
By: Jared Leone, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated: December 10, 2020 - 9:32 AM
BRISTOL, Tenn. '-- An anonymous shopper spread some holiday joy at a Tennessee Walmart, paying off $65,000 in layaway items.
The manager at the Bristol store said the customer wanted to impact as many people as possible and Monday paid $64,995.51, which covers the store's entire layaway balance, WJHL reported.
''It's especially touching when customers pay off others' layaways during the holiday season and serves as another example of the generosity our customers show year-round,'' store manager Kris Light said in a statement. ''We're honored to play a small role in these acts of kindness and we love seeing the joy it brings to our customers this time of year.''
(C) 2020 Cox Media Group
VIDEO-Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine hit by hackers - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:26
NEW VIDEO '-- Car plows thru Black Lies Matter protest in Manhattan'... Multiple Agitators Hurt'... '' CITIZEN FREE PRESS
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:05
Posted by Kane on December 12, 2020 3:12 amNEWS JUNKIES -- CHECK OUT OUR HOMEPAGE
JUST IN '' Several people injured as a vehicle drives into #Manhattan #BlackLivesMatter protest. A witness video shows that protesters slowed the vehicle down and tried to open the doors of the car.pic.twitter.com/cOjvK1Ohzi
'-- Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) December 11, 2020
At 1:37 you see BLM agitators banging on the windows and trying to open the doors.
LIVE in NYC: At least 6 people injured after being struck by car at BLM protest.
NYPD is asking people to avoid area of 3rd Avenue & 39 Avenue in Manhattan.
More to come.pic.twitter.com/yS4utKM6Gk
'-- The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) December 11, 2020
Driver arrested'...
I don't know all the details, but this was the arrest after multiple #protesters were run down by a car in #MurrayHill just a little while ago. The neighborhood is filled w/cops right now @nytimes @NY1 pic.twitter.com/nOL1H2aArO
'-- dina regine (@dinaregine) December 11, 2020
VIDEO-General Flynn wants to know where the Durham report is - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:51
VIDEO-Roger Cohen on Twitter: "Bloomberg: Xi Jinping ''is not a dictator.'' I disagree. https://t.co/Z4vsoOnF3Q" / Twitter
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:32
Roger Cohen : Bloomberg: Xi Jinping ''is not a dictator.'' I disagree. https://t.co/Z4vsoOnF3Q
Sun Dec 01 13:07:24 +0000 2019
Claudio : @NYTimesCohen Wrong words but the message Is clear and correct. It Is realism: "comunist" government in Russia didn'... https://t.co/1SRMhqJvl3
Sat Dec 12 09:11:43 +0000 2020
ðŸ'§Zulutron : @NYTimesCohen He really doesn't have a grip on reality! Xi is a dictator as he has destroyed even the old communist'... https://t.co/5TGTYjHBhP
Sat Dec 12 00:09:34 +0000 2020
Bilderst¼rmer : @NYTimesCohen ''... no government survives against the will of the majority of the people ...'' ...Amazing ... he i'... https://t.co/rUtW0XNg4V
Fri Dec 11 20:31:50 +0000 2020
Michael S. Falk, CFA, CRC : @NYTimesCohen Dictators need to provide just enough to keep the population "relaxed"; this doesn't change their dic'... https://t.co/tUyYVcD8yk
Fri Dec 11 18:29:11 +0000 2020
Ilaria 🇮🇹ITALEXIT🇮🇹 : @NYTimesCohen @MaxFerrari Bloomberg 🤠#StopChina ''Œ
Fri Dec 11 17:33:17 +0000 2020
Thomas Schmall : @NYTimesCohen Bloomberg News has censored articles critical of China before. He simply has to protect his business'... https://t.co/NEf5hoEQty
Fri Dec 11 16:36:04 +0000 2020
Arthur Ridley : @NYTimesCohen This dissolves any respect I had for @MikeBloomberg
Fri Dec 11 15:39:48 +0000 2020
Nom de Plume : @NYTimesCohen ''All told, mainland China accounts for 1 percent of Bloomberg LP's revenue and Hong Kong for another'... https://t.co/yJAeVlK6nA
Fri Dec 11 14:23:08 +0000 2020
Ritchie Diggs : @NYTimesCohen Many here know nothing about political realism. You have this broad application of 'dictator' where B'... https://t.co/d7OYAFS9MT
Fri Dec 11 12:49:54 +0000 2020
K. : @NYTimesCohen @donweinland His employee had been just detained by Beijing.
Fri Dec 11 12:37:19 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Ezra Levant joins Tucker Carlson: Trudeau trained Chinese troops in Canada - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:30
VIDEO-Overview of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA technology - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:19
VIDEO-ARIRANG NEWS [FULL]: 12 U.S. military bases returns to S. Korea - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:02
VIDEO-China bashes Korean TV show for exposing Taiwanese flag. Where did they get the video? - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:30
VIDEO-Former Post Office sub-postmasters have convictions over IT scandal quashed - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:28
VIDEO-India farmers' protests: Why you should care about thousands of people protesting - CNN
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 14:05
(CNN) Farmers in India have reached a stalemate with the government over its proposed amendments to laws the farmers feel will ravage their livelihoods and create an opportunity for large, private companies to enter and exploit the entire agriculture sector.
The laws directly impact the farmers in India, but they could also have a significant impact to consumers globally, who rely on India for many key items such as turmeric, chili and ginger.
To fight against three laws passed in September, farmers from all across the country have been protesting for days just outside New Delhi -- despite the capital being a hotspot for Covid-19 in a country that has already reported more than 9.4 million cases.
More than half of India's working population comes from the agricultural sector, according to India's most recent Census in 2011. From 2018-2019, the average Indian farmer earned 10,329 rupees (about $140) per month, according to data from a Hindustan Times analysis. Of these 263.1 million workers, many solely rely on farming to put food on their own table and roof over their head.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh arrived by tractors and on foot in New Delhi last month where they blocked roads and set up makeshift camps, according to protest leaders. Some slept on the road or in their tractors, and several places of worship offered protesters food.
It affects your pantryThe protests haven't been exclusive to India.
People around the world have been protesting to show support and stand with the farmers because the protests are about "the people who feed all of us" and their fair treatment, said Simran Jeet Singh, a scholar of religion and history currently teaching at Union Seminary and a Stephen M. Keller Term Member for the Council on Foreign Relations.
"The pandemic has shown us that there are two economies," he said. "Essential workers across the world are suffering. The farmers in India represent all of them, and their resistance to unjust legislation that privileges the uber-wealthy corporations is a resistance that speaks to so many of us all over the world."
India is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices -- producing about 68% of the world's spices, according to Spices Board India, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India.
In 2019, the top 10 importers of Indian spices were the US, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Thailand, UK, UAE, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, data shows.
Items like pepper, cardamom, chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, garlic, curry powder and fennel are among the exports.
India is the leading exporter of Basmati rice and world's largest milk producer to the global market, according to India's Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, with the main production happening in states like Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi -- where the farmers are also protesting.
The country is also the world's second-largest producer of rice, wheat and other cereals, ranking second in fruits and vegetable production in the world just under China.
Herbs and medicine go hand-in-hand for those practicing homeopathy or Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu system of medicine based on the idea of balance within your body, built on the foundation of herbal treatment, yoga and breathing.
At times, ginger is served for arthritis and digestion, cinnamon to boost circulation and lower blood sugar, and fenugreek to fight infection -- all top exports of the country.
India is home to thousands of plants but 7,500 of them are known and used for medicinal uses, according to data from the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. The same data says approximately 25% of drugs are derived from plants.
It affects your closetChances are something in your closet was made in India -- and that's because India is the world's leading producer of cotton, surpassing China, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
"Although yields in India are well below the global average, cotton area in India dwarfs that of any other country, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the world total," the department said.
What do the laws say?For decades, the Indian government has offered guaranteed prices to farmers for certain crops, creating a stable guide to make decisions and investments for the following crop cycle.
Under the previous laws, farmers had to sell their goods at an auction at their state's Agricultural Produce Market Committee. A government-agreed minimum price was set for items and the auction was regulated by restrictions on who could buy along with price caps on essentials.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the new laws give farmers a chance to decide their own prices and sell directly to private businesses, like grocery chains, cutting the middle man, who in this case, is the state's Agricultural Produce Market Committee.
Farmers argue Modi's new laws help big companies drive down prices. While farmers could sell crops at higher prices if the demand is there, conversely, they could struggle to meet the minimum price in years when there is too much supply in the market.
"In the past, when Indian agricultural workers have protested for fair prices and working conditions, the Indian government has responded with violent crackdowns that include documented torture, human rights abuses, and extrajudicial killings," Simran Singh said.
"It is critical that, in this moment of peaceful protest, we keep our eyes trained on India's response, and ensure that they do not again resort to repressive tactics as a way to thwart free speech and protest."
Voices on the groundPolice attempted to block demonstrators from entering New Delhi when protests first began -- they fired tear gas and water cannons, after protesters pelted police officers with stones and damaged public property, according to Manoj Yadav, a senior police official from Haryana.
From France, Germany, California, New York, Texas, Canada, Netherlands and London -- people have shown up in solidarity over the last two weeks.
As a Sikh Punjabi woman, the fight for Ramanpreet Kaur in New York is about her "grandparents and parents who have lived through so many hardships and kept the farming culture alive in our families to provide for us."
"Even if you don't feel a personal connection to India or the farmers out there like many of us do, as a human being who lives on earth you should be concerned about exploitation of the people who feed you everyday," she said.
Ramanpreet Kaur demonstrated on December 5 in Queens, New York and estimates around 150 others joined her.
Manveer Singh said he feels the impact of India's new laws all the way in Vancouver, Canada, through his cousins in Punjab who still farm today.
"The entire world should care about this issue, because in a globalized society we are all connected," he said. "Everything from turmeric to Basmati comes from Indian farmers."
Manveer Singh joined a demonstartion on December 5 outside the Indian consulate in downtown Vancouver.
"And above personal interests, we need to value human beings over corporations. That in itself is the central ethos of what has become one of the biggest protests in human history."
Rajbir Singh, from Amsterdam, said farming has always been the only way his family has made money -- and for some of them, it still is.
Protests in front of the Den Haag in front of the Indian Embassy on Tuesday, December 8.
"For me to see that all Indian farmers now indirectly have to work for these big corporations is unacceptable," he said. "That's why I am protesting and urge the rest of the farming communities in the world to stand with the Indian farmers."
What happens now and how to helpOn Wednesday, Indian farmers rejected the government's proposed amendments, according to an Indian farmers union.
Darshan Pal, President of the Krantikari Kisan Union, a farmer's union said protests will intensify and farmers plan to block the highway between New Delhi to Jaipur, the capital of western Rajasthan state, on December 12, which will lead up to a nationwide protest by December 14, with calls to gather outside the regional offices of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Organizations like Khalsa Aid, an international humanitarian relief group, has a team on the ground working with protest organizers.
Sahaita, a volunteer-based humanitarian non-profit, is collecting monetary donations to help families affected.
And cultural clothing brands, like Reignfull and ZHK Designs, are donating profits from their merchandise and art to organizations focused on rendering aid.
CNN's Julia Hollingsworth, Swati Gupta, Esha Mitra and Manveena Suri contributed to this report.
VIDEO-R.I.P ex-Merck rep Brandy Vaughn found dead |
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 02:57
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JoinedJun 25, 2014Messages5 Two days after warning people about the dangers of vaccines, ex-Merck rep is found dead. May this brave women rest in peace, and hopefully the ultimate sacrifice she made will not be in vain.
JoinedNov 22, 2017Messages2,184 This is tragic and extremely shady. Thanks for bringing it up, I wouldn't have known about it otherwise.I'm reading up on her ''Learn The Risk'' project. RIP. At the very least she contributed something worthwhile in her life, which is more than most people can claim.
''It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.'' - Frederick Douglass personal blog @ bananasandsand.com youtube handle: dbo514 JoinedJun 13, 2019Messages869 damn. apparently she posted this recently
AttachmentsD5221F79-D75E-4B92-AD47-DC298B998A49.jpeg144.1 KB · Views: 27
JoinedNov 22, 2017Messages2,184 damn. apparently she posted this recently
Dec. 1, 2019?
This is chilling. We truly are at the mercy of these monsters.
''It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.'' - Frederick Douglass personal blog @ bananasandsand.com youtube handle: dbo514 JoinedJun 29, 2015Messages1,321 Another brave and courageous one they rubbed out. Sad
JoinedJun 13, 2019Messages869 Dec. 1, 2019?This is chilling. We truly are at the mercy of these monsters.
yea that's the correct date, I checked elsewhere.
hopefully RFK Jr makes a post about her, people deserve to know. also, it's become increasingly clear why Ray has stayed so private over the years and doesn't show his face much. it's a risky profession to challenge cash cows
JoinedNov 22, 2017Messages2,184 yea that's the correct date, I checked elsewhere.hopefully RFK Jr makes a post about her, people deserve to know. also, it's become increasingly clear why Ray has stayed so private over the years and doesn't show his face much. it's a risky profession to challenge cash cows
Yeah. Ray is doing it right. He's not dumb he wants to live.
In this 2015 she goes over threats and intimidation:
''It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.'' - Frederick Douglass personal blog @ bananasandsand.com youtube handle: dbo514
VIDEO-Why a University of Michigan professor voted 'No' on Pfizer's COVID vaccine
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 02:56
Sign up for our NewslettersLatest NewsVirologist says 2 more months of research would answer questionsANN ARBOR, Mich. '' The University of Michigan's Dr. A. Oveta Fuller specializes in immunology and microbiology.
The FDA advisory committee that recommended the Pfizer vaccine largely agreed it was safe and effective. 17 members voted for it and four voted against it.
One of those No votes came from Oveta, a virologist and viral pathogen researcher. She said she was concerned about the vaccine's long-term impact.
''Because we are in a COVID pandemic and because so many lives are affected and because the public needs to understand so they know what to do,'' Oveta said. ''I felt like this is a lot. A heavy responsibility. It is very sobering and that's how I take it.''
It's not a lack of confidence in the research, it's that she believes some specific questions about the risks did not get answered. She said more data would be help her be certain that she has done her due diligence.
As a researcher and an expert in how viruses behave, she still had questions on the table in terms autoimmunity and hyper immunity. She just wanted a bit more research to answer a few more questions before creating a full path to wide acceptance by the masses.
''I am a great advocate for vaccines. I'm a virologist by training, I think viruses are amazing. I teach them. I study them. I engage the community about them,'' Oveta said. ''I think vaccines are a major way that we can stop or prevent infections but 'a stitch in time saves nine.'''
She said it would be better to release the vaccine gradually instead of going almost directly from the study to being given to millions of people.
RELATED: Michigan officials: COVID vaccine to be distributed in 4 phases, prioritize frontline workers
Oveta said she believes just two more months of controlled studies would answer some of those specific questions.
You can watch the full interview with Dr. A. Oveta Fuller in the video below.
View more: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 hospitalization data trends
More: Tracking coronavirus cases, outbreaks in Michigan schools
Copyright 2020 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.
About the Authors:Grant Hermes Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.
Dane Kelly Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.
VIDEO-Media Goes 'Coup-Coup' Over Trump Challenges '' Hide Hunter (Again) Wacky MOLE - YouTube
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 02:46
VIDEO-RUBIO - Eric Swalwell's Relationship with Chinese Spy Shows FBI's Double Standard
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 21:17
"It was never Russia and the republicans, it was the democrats and China." Kayleigh McEnany
"It was never Russia and the republicans, it was the democrats and China." Kayleigh McEnany NationPosted by Charlie Staff - 12.10.20
California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell insists that he has done nothing wrong since the release of information pertaining to his relationship with a young woman allegedly spying for China.
Swalwell cut off contact with the spy when he was given a defensive briefing from the FBI, which brings to question, why didn't they spy on Swalwell the way they did on Trump?
NY Post reports:
Fang Fang, a k a Christine Fang, got close to several politicians, especially in the Bay Area, from 2011 to 2015, only to abruptly leave the country as the FBI was closing in. US officials believe China's Ministry of State Security, its main civilian spy agency, sent her here to collect intelligence and gain influence with up-and-coming politicians.
Since Democrats dominate Bay Area politics, she focused on officials such as Swalwell, starting when he was a Dublin city councilman and continuing after he won election to Congress in 2012. She turned out to have a good eye for talent: The congressman became a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2015, getting the lead role in the subcommittee on CIA oversight.
Axios reports Fang had sexual relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors; Swalwell won't say whether he slept with the honeytrap. He interacted with her at a number of public events over the years, and she was a fundraising bundler for his 2014 re-election campaign. She even helped place an intern in his office.
But then the FBI, in the midst of a counterintelligence probe into Fang's activities, briefed him in 2015, and he cut all ties (though his father and brother remain Facebook friends with her).
Swalwell seems to be more upset about the leak then the fact that China targeted him. He also claims this is payback for his work trying to impeach Trump.
Swalwell pushed every Russian-collusion conspiracy theory he could find for years and yet no one connected to the president was found to have colluded with Russia. In fact the Durham investigation made top FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, plead guilty to altering a document that was then used to obtain a secret FISA application and warrant to spy on a person working for the Trump campaign.
Biden's Transition Co-Chair Hosted Hunter Biden-Linked Chinese Group at Obama White House The Chinese Entrepreneur Club (CEC) has years of chummy history with BidenThe Chinese Entrepreneur Club (CEC), also referred to as the ''richest club'' in the People's Republic of China has years of chummy history with Biden. Emails published this week by Peter Schweizer of Breitbart News and president of the Government Accountability Institute identify a clear role Hunter Biden and his business associate Devon Archer played in getting the Chinese group into the White House, first in 2011.
November of 2011, then-deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Jeff Zients hosted the Chinese group after ''a colleague of Archer's reached out to suggest there was an opportunity to gain 'outstanding new clients'' reports Breitbart. According to the email, Archer was told the CEC group was unable to secure meetings with high-ranking Obama administration officials during their November trip to D.C.
Enter Biden associate, Archer to the rescue. ''Although it is unclear exactly what transpired after the emails reached Archer, only nine days later, on November 14, 2011, the CEC had secured its meeting at the Obama White House'' according to Breitbart. ''Administration records indicate that a delegation of 30 CEC members received a tour of the White House and met with then-Commerce Secretary John Bryson.''
That's not all. According to members of the Chinese delegation, they also ''met privately with Hunter Biden's father, then-Vice President Joe Biden.'' In 2014, Zients was appointed to lead the National Economic Council under Obama's administration. Zients held the position until the end of Obama's presidential term in 2017.
At the time of Zients' meeting with the CEC, then-vice president Joe Biden was ''playing a lead role in the Obama administration's policy towards Beijing'' according to Breitbart. Additionally, ''just that past May, Biden had taken part in talks between the U.S. and China on how to improve 'strategic and economic' relations.''
''Since leaving office, Zients appears to have kept in close contact with the Bidens. In September, Biden appointed him to co-chair the presidential transition task force, which will be responsible for staffing a potential Biden White House'' reports Breitbart.
Chinese Military was Invited to Train in Canada by TrudeauChina's People's Liberation Party (PLA) was invited by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send their troops for cold weather training at CFB Petawawa in Ontario Canada.
Rebel News received a 34-page classified document from the Trudeau government they labeled the ''The China Files'' which show that Trudeau was angry at the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) when they cancelled training after China kidnapped Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
Other revelations in the China Files as reported by Rebel news are:
* Disgraced cabinet minister Catherine McKenna jetted to China for a three-day conference just months after the two Michaels were taken hostage
* Trudeau sent nearly 200 CAF personnel to Wuhan in October of 2019 to participate in the Military World Games, a propaganda bonanza for China diplomatic reports that China is using its ''belt and road'' negotiations to demand that countries drop human rights complaints if they want trade deals
* Chinese censorship of Twitter use
* Chinese use of a smartphone app to track Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang
* Bureaucrats bizarre protocol of referring to accused fraudster and Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou as ''Ms. Meng'', but refusing to even mention the two Michaels by name
The China Files show that Trudeau's submissive approach to China isn't just his personal obsession'-- it's the official policy of his entire government and it has deeply infected Canada's civil service, too. Trudeau's right-hand man, Ian Shugart, was tasked with silencing the CAF's legitimate concerns about China, and forcing our military to continue acting as if China, not the U.S., was our most important ally.
It looks like Democrats in America aren't the only ones with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The progressive left internationally are quick to sell their soul and their country to the CCP.
VIDEO-Ask The Experts (Covid-19 Vaccine) - Now Banned on YouTube and Facebook
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 15:22
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VIDEO-Maddow Praises Heroic Journalists Taking On Trump: 'We've Never Been More Vital'
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:42
MSNBC hack Rachel Maddow is praising the role of journalists this week for being "heroic" in their fight against President Donald Trump the last few years.
Download the FREE TrendingPolitics Mobile App so you never miss a Trump story
sponsorDuring an interview on the ''Late Show With Stephen Colbert,'' Maddow said members of the media ''have never been more vital'' to American culture.
The nauseous exchange began when Colbert gushed of Maddow's ability to take ''parts of the story '... and show you how the engine works'' before asking how Trump's administration changed her outlook on the profession.
''You have consumed a lot of the poison of what the administration, this present administration is trying to sell to the American people and the world. How do you think that has affected the way you approach reporting the news?'' Colbert asked.
''It might have changed what I am able to digest and how,'' Maddow replied. ''I feel like this was '-- I mean this is a great time to be in the news business because we've never been more vital. Just to learn these basic rules again that if we didn't know them before, you know, don't listen to what they're saying. Just watch what they're doing. Don't '-- don't take at face value something you get from a government official because a government official is saying it.''
Maddow then added, however, that presumptive President-elect Joe Biden is primed to have a mundane and uncontroversial White House tenure.
''It's been weird [covering Mr. Trump] and I think [it] has unwired a lot of us in the business in a way,'' she continued. ''I'm really looking forward to Biden being boring. I mean, he sort of promised to be boring.''
Maddow and Colbert aren't "journalists," but ventriloquist dummies for the leftists who support their hypotheticals and show based on nothing.
Apparently, facts don't matter to them and they don't understand the basis for why this election has caused such deep rifts across the country.
***Help Us TAKE DOWN The Liberal Media With Our TRUMP News Mobile App!***
It's also bizarre that there weren't any jokes at all about Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or even Joe Biden.
Instead, they congratulated themselves on being so "heroic" while smearing Trump and anyone who dares to support him.
VIDEO-CNN on Twitter: ""We as a nation need to continue to wear the mask, to keep the physical distance, to avoid crowds. We're not through with this just because we're starting a vaccine program." - Dr. Anthony Fauci on protecting against Covid-19 while
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:37
CNN : "We as a nation need to continue to wear the mask, to keep the physical distance, to avoid crowds. We're not throug'... https://t.co/uIkH1p7DqL
Fri Dec 11 04:35:00 +0000 2020
VIDEO-VIDEO: Media Done with 'Unity,' Want 'Trump Apologists' Jailed | Newsbusters
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:32
December 10th, 2020 9:17 AM
Since the November 3 election, many TV journalists have begun issuing ugly calls for vengeance and ''accountability'' against not just President Trump himself, but also his administration, and even his supporters.
Evidently some journalists found the last four years so intolerable that a looming Biden Presidency has made them bitter, sore winners. Just a day after the election was held, MSNBC political analyst Jason Johnson had this advice for Biden: ''You cannot come into this White House with the idea that these people [Republicans] aren't the enemy. They are.''
That same week, media commentator and former Navy Officer Malcolm Nance had this to say on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher about the Americans who voted for Trump: ''These people have revealed themselves for the racists for the racists that they are, for the tribalists that they are.''
Over the course of several evenings in mid-November, CNN's Chris Cuomo issued a series of threats and warnings against so-called ''enablers'' of President Trump. On November 11, he declared: ''Shame on them. A wax museum is less cold-blooded than these people are. And let them know, they are going to lose way more than this election.''
Just five days later, Cuomo offered this rebuttal to those who had accused him of ''targeting'' political opponents: ''Yeah. You are being targeted. But not because you're victims '-- because you're victimizing the rest of us.''
On November 27, former ESPN and MSNBC host Keith Olbermann wished for enough Trump administration people in prison ''that they can hold reunions, and birthday parties.'' He continued:
''We want the prisons so filled with Trumps, and Trump flunkies, and Trump apologists, and Trump enablers, that we have to convert Trump buildings into new God-damned Trump prisons.''
It seems the calls for unity are over. To see some of the media's most venomous calls for retribution against Trump supporters, watch the video below (LANGUAGE WARNING):
NewsBusters Reader,
The media are hard at work weaving a web of confusion, misinformation, and conspiracy surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
At MRC's NewsBusters, we cut through the hypocrisy and expose the media's bias, bringing the truth to the American people'--but without you, our efforts can only go so far.
The media is using whatever crisis it can to swing the upcoming election'--they have an agenda and the truth is not part of it.
This is why NewsBusters, a program of the MRC, exists. To take on the liberal media, expose their toxic bias, and stop them in their tracks. We are part of the only organization purely dedicated to this critical mission and we need your help to fuel this fight.
Donate today to help NewsBusters continue to document and expose liberal media bias. $25 a month goes a long way in the fight for a free and fair media.
And now, thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can make up to a $300 gift to the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of your choice and use it as a tax deduction on your 2020 taxes, even if you take the standard deduction on your returns.
- The NewsBusters Team
DONATE Connect
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VIDEO-Disgusting CNN: Trump Is the Equivalent of Slave States for Challenging Election | Newsbusters
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:31
December 10th, 2020 10:02 AM
CNN getting bored by all the shopworn Trump/Hitler analogies? Searching for a new metaphor with which to attack the president?
On this morning's New Day, co-host John Berman strained logic and analogy beyond the breaking point by claiming that in joining the Texas lawsuit challenging election results in other states, President Trump has somehow made himself . . . the equivalent of the secessionist slave states in the Civil War!
In his statement announcing his joining of the lawsuit, the president said that the country "is deeply divided in ways that it arguably has not been seen since the election of 1860."
Berman took Trump's statement and ran. According to his tortured logic, since the 1860 division was caused by slave states opposing Lincoln's election, Biden, ipso facto, is the modern-day Lincoln, and Trump, in opposing Biden's election, is the equivalent of the secessionist slave states.
Here's the quote:
The president's filing with the Supreme Court states, quote, "Our country is deeply divided in ways that it arguably has not been seen since the election of 1860." So leave aside the circular logic of decrying division when he is the one stoking it. But that reference to the election of 1860. You know why the country was divided by that election? Because Abraham Lincoln won, fairly, and slave states were pissed about that, and they seceded, and there was a Civil War.
So by the reasoning of the president's crack legal team, Joe Biden is Abraham Lincoln here, the guy who won, fairly, and the president is the slave states, the ones who seceded and then the Civil War. That's who Donald Trump is relating to this morning, as 3,000 new coronavirus deaths were reported overnight.
Berman came back to this screed at the end of the 7 AM hour and repeated it. The absurdity of his assertion is obvious. President Trump cited 1860 as a chronological marker. And indeed, it's also obvious that the country is more deeply divided than it has been in a very long time.
But the reasons for the division have absolutely nothing to do with slavery. Instead, the country is divided over the deeply differing visions for America offered by a Republican president and legislators, and that of a Democrat party veering ever-further left.
To exploit the President's historical reference to brand him the equivalent of secessionist slave states is nothing more than an absurd slur perpetrated by Berman/CNN.
This, apparently, is becoming a daily thing on CNN. On Wednesday's New Day, analyst John Avlon compared Trump to the Confederacy. There's no depths too low for CNN to dredge.
CNN's absurd equation of President Trump with the secessionist slave states in the Civil War was sponsored in part by Dell, Mercedes, and Proctor & Gamble, maker of Oil of Olay. Contact them at the Conservatives Fight Back link to let them know what you think of their sponsorship of CNN's absurd slur of President Trump.
Here's the transcript.
CNNNew Day12/10/206:00 am ET
JOHN BERMAN: The president tries to undermine democracy, and seems to identify with insurrection. The president has joined a lawsuit from the attorney general of Texas, himself under federal investigation, to try to overturn the results of the election he lost.
The president's filing with the Supreme Court states, quote, "Our country is deeply divided in ways that it arguably has not been seen since the election of 1860."
So leave aside the circular logic of decrying division when he is the one stoking it. But that reference to the election of 1860. You know why the country was divided by that election? Because Abraham Lincoln won, fairly, and slave states were pissed about that, and they seceded, and there was a Civil War.
So by the reasoning of the president's crack legal team, Joe Biden is Abraham Lincoln here, the guy who won, fairly, and the president is the slave states, the ones who seceded and then the Civil War. That's who Donald Trump is relating to this morning, as 3,000 new coronavirus deaths were reported overnight.
NewsBusters Reader,
The media are hard at work weaving a web of confusion, misinformation, and conspiracy surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
At MRC's NewsBusters, we cut through the hypocrisy and expose the media's bias, bringing the truth to the American people'--but without you, our efforts can only go so far.
The media is using whatever crisis it can to swing the upcoming election'--they have an agenda and the truth is not part of it.
This is why NewsBusters, a program of the MRC, exists. To take on the liberal media, expose their toxic bias, and stop them in their tracks. We are part of the only organization purely dedicated to this critical mission and we need your help to fuel this fight.
Donate today to help NewsBusters continue to document and expose liberal media bias. $25 a month goes a long way in the fight for a free and fair media.
And now, thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can make up to a $300 gift to the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of your choice and use it as a tax deduction on your 2020 taxes, even if you take the standard deduction on your returns.
- The NewsBusters Team
DONATE Connect
Sign up for our NB Daily newsletter to receive the latest media bias analysis.
VIDEO-Austin's top doctor: Stage 5 restrictions could trigger curfew | KXAN Austin
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 13:51
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- Austin's top doctor said Thursday a curfew is among the possibilities if rising COVID-19 hospitalization numbers trigger stricter local guidelines.
Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told Travis County commissioners right now, most modeling projections have our area moving from Stage 4 to Stage 5 guidelines by the end of the month. He added that depending on the rate of new hospital admissions, moving to Stage 5 could even be considered sometime next week.
Projections can change with the community's behavior, Escott said. He asked the community again to commit to social distancing, wear masks and avoid holiday travel.
''We simply can't take the risk of having a substantial catastrophic surge,'' he said.
Austin Public Health reports 54 new patients were admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 on Thursday.That increases the seven-day average to 40 per day, the highest it has been since July.
Under current guidelines, health officials would not move our area to Stage 5 until that seven-day average moves to 50 new hospital admissions per day.
Our area has never been under Stage 5, but context is important. Last month, the city lowered the Stage 4 and 5 thresholds over concerns of not having enough hospital staff. In July, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 hospitalizations reached 75.
Along with a curfew, Escott said Stage 5 recommendations could include eliminating afterschool activities or discouraging dining in at restaurants.
As far as restrictions go, the city and county have limited authority. For example, business openings and closures are determined at the state level.
In October, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said capacity limits on businesses would only change if 15% of hospital patients had COVID-19.
The Austin-Travis County area has not hit that threshold, but cities like El Paso, Amarillo, Abilene, Laredo, Midland, Lubbock, Dallas-Fort Worth and Waco have.
VIDEO-Australian vaccine cancelled after 'false positive' HIV tests | Sky News Australia
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 01:10
University of Queensland's potential coronavirus vaccine with biotech company CSL has been abandoned after multiple trial participants returned false positive HIV test results. Their vaccine was one of four which the Morrison government had entered into a deal with '' marking a blow to Australia's potential pool of vaccine options.The deal was terminated days after the government was informed about the issue on Monday.By Thursday, National Cabinet decided to scrap the use of the vaccine.More than 200 participants took part in the trial with several returning the false positive HIV test results.The University of Queensland-CSL vaccine uses a small component derived from HIV which is unable to infect people or replicate but can initiate a response in the body that can interfere in the screening process and return a false positive. A source told the Sydney Morning Herald the people were not at risk.The decision to scrap the deal was out of an abundance of caution.
VIDEO-Staten Island pub owner holds press conference in front of his bar - YouTube
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 23:59
VIDEO-'That Was Offensive': Harris Faulkner Calls Out Marie Harf For Taking 'Shot' Against Show - AIR.TV
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 22:16
'That Was Offensive': Harris Faulkner Calls Out Marie Harf For Taking 'Shot' Against Show
Dec 10, 2020 02:51
Metropolitan Police counter-terror chief Neil Basu calls for action on coronavirus anti-vaxxers | Evening Standard
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 15:26
Britain's top counter-terrorism officer today called for a nationwide debate on the introduction of new laws to punish people who spread anti-vaccination conspiracy theories.
Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said that there should be a discussion about whether it is ''the correct thing for society to allow'' people to spread ''misinformation that could cost people's lives'' as he responded to concern that false claims online could undermine the take up of Covid-19 vaccines.
Mr Basu stopped short of endorsing the idea of a new law but his intervention will strengthen pressure on ministers to act against conspiracy theorists making false claims about the vaccines.
''There is a debate for society to have about free speech and responsibility and people who are spreading misinformation that could cost people's lives... whether that is the correct thing for this society to allow to happen,'' said Mr Basu.
Officials said that one reason for Mr Basu's concern was that Islamist and far-Right groups were using false claims about coronavirus to radicalise followers.
Labour has also called for action, saying that emergency legislation should be introduced to allow fines and criminal penalties for social media firms that refuse to take down false material about Covid-19 vaccines.
Ministers insist they are already taking the problem seriously and point to a commitment from Facebook, Twitter and Google to label or remove content identified as misleading.
Mr Basu's comments came as Counter Terrorism Policing launched a campaign to persuade family and friends to raise the alarm if they suspect young people are becoming radicalised.
The move is prompted by fears that some vulnerable people are having reduced contact with teachers, health staff, social workers or others who might normally spot signs of danger. Officers want loved ones to use a confidential helpline, 0800 011 3764, to report signs of radicalisation. An ''ACT Early'' website '-- actearly.uk '-- has also been set up.
Police disclosed today that the number of Londoners aged 19 or under who have been referred to the Prevent counter-extremism scheme has risen by a fifth in the past year.
Psychedelics Replace Pot as the New Favorite Edgy Investment - Bloomberg
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 14:38
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Georgia Havoc Raises New Doubts on Pricey Voting Machines - The New York Times
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 14:01
Poll workers were unable to sync voting machines and had to hand out provisional ballots on Tuesday at Coan Park Recreation Center in Atlanta. Credit... Audra Melton for The New York Times As Georgia elections officials prepared to roll out an over $100 million high-tech voting system last year, good-government groups, a federal judge and election-security experts warned of its perils. The new system, they argued, was too convoluted, too expensive, too big '-- and was still insecure.
They said the state would regret purchasing the machines. On Tuesday, that admonition appeared prescient.
A cascade of problems caused block-long lines across Georgia, as primary voters stood for hours while poll workers waited for equipment to be delivered or struggled to activate the system's components. Locations ran out of provisional ballots. Many people, seeing no possible option to exercise their right to vote, simply left the lines.
With partisans on both sides hurling blame for the meltdown, elections experts said there were too many moving parts to place the onus for Georgia's election chaos on any single one.
''The problem seems to have been a perfect storm (overused metaphor, but apt here) of new equipment, hasty training and a crush of tasks associated with both getting the mail ballots out the door and processed AND with running an in-person voting operation,'' Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in an email.
Even so, in an election year in which the coronavirus pandemic and an extremely polarized political arena are testing the very act of voting as perhaps never before, all of those factors coalesced in a voting system '-- essentially a series of interlocking digital devices '-- that some experts have described as dizzying in its complexity.
Warnings, and problems, notwithstanding, a number of jurisdictions have recently embraced such systems, drawn by the allure of an expensive shiny new toy.
In Georgia, the system's purchase was authorized by the State Legislature in 2019 amid heavy lobbying by several vendors, including the winning bidder, Dominion Voting Systems, a Colorado-based company that is one of the nation's largest suppliers of election systems. Georgia had been under pressure to replace its older election machines since 2017, even before widespread claims of voter suppression emerged in the 2018 governor's race.
Criticisms of the systems are not unique to Dominion's, but are aimed at the entire class of touch-screen systems known as ''new generation ballot-marking devices,'' which are produced by several vendors.
In some cases on Tuesday, the new machines required too much extra power for aging polling locations, blowing fuses and never powering on. In others, workers who were still being trained just days before the election struggled with setup. Some polling places never even received the machines until the morning of the election.
Jonathan Banes, who served as a precinct captain at Cross Keys High School in suburban DeKalb County, outside Atlanta, said the voting machines failed to work as workers tried to boot them up beginning at 5:30 a.m. Poll workers ultimately had to call in a technician to fix them.
''I still don't know what it was, whether it was the PIN authorization, the physical card itself which is inserted into the machine to access the admin portal to manage the functions of the device, or what,'' Mr. Banes said. The technician who came to the school fixed the problem but never explained what the problem was, he said.
Mr. Banes, who is 29, was operating with only four poll workers but should have had a dozen '-- many of the older workers feared contracting Covid-19 '-- and only two of those who came had been trained, he said.
The training in February ''was more of an introductory course, if you can call it that,'' he said. ''We didn't go into troubleshoot scenarios or how to deal with technical issues like this or have scenarios where voters cast ballots.'' An online refresher training was held several weeks ago, he said.
Image Voters waited for hours to vote at Fulton County's Park Tavern precinct in Atlanta on Tuesday. Credit... Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock The electronic poll books, also new, were plagued by freezing software and user error.
Kay Stimson, the director of government relations for Dominion, said the company would be doing a ''deep dive'' into what happened, but maintained that the issues did not involve equipment problems on a large scale.
Ms. Stimson said the company had to replace only 20 components for about 30,000 machines. ''That's a very low number for a statewide voting system rollout across 159 counties,'' she said.
Many of the problems, she said, involved difficulties activating voter verification cards '-- which are inserted into the machines to start voting.
The potential for problems with the new system was somewhat well known from the state's small-scale test in the 2019 elections, when a software glitch in the electronic poll books caused delays in most of the six counties where the test took place.
''A lot of people saw this coming, this meltdown, months in advance,'' said Andrew Appel, a computer scientist at Princeton who studies voting machines.
Calling it ''way too complex,'' Marilyn Marks, the executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, which had argued for a slower rollout of the equipment, described the technology as a ''Rube Goldberg contraption with way more components than are needed.''
The promise of the new system, in part, was that it would be able to provide a variety of customized options '-- ballots in different languages, audio ballots for the visually impaired and the like. Yet it has not only proved hard to use in the early going; it is also something of a long and winding digital road to the same end as the old hand-marking systems '-- a marked ballot fed into a scanner.
In the new systems, voters begin the process by checking in at an electronic poll book, maintained on a digital tablet. There, the voter verification card with a microchip in it is programmed with the voter's information. The card is then brought over to a big touch-screen tablet and inserted into a reader to display the voter's ballot. After making the selections on the touch screen, the voter clicks ''print ballot.'' Then the paper receipt is brought over to the digital scanner, where the voter drops it off.
''There are a lot more things that can go wrong,'' Dr. Appel said. ''Even if you're computer savvy, think of how many devices are involved.''
A federal judge presiding over 2017 litigation about Georgia's voting machines, Amy Totenberg, had ruled that the state's old system was grossly outdated. But last August she expressed concern that the state would not be able to put the new system in place this year, calling it a ''mammoth undertaking.''
Among groups that warned against the new system were the right-leaning good government group FreedomWorks and the bipartisan National Election Defense Coalition.
In a joint letter to Georgia lawmakers in December 2018, the organizations predicted long lines at polling places, saying the systems ''amount to nothing more than a boondoggle for the vendors and an enormous waste of taxpayers' dollars.''
Not only is the system more complex than those using hand-marked ballots, it costs far more.
Some experts point to benefits in the systems.
''I'm not against hand-marked paper ballots, but I think one of the things that's missing from this conversation is that there are very valid reasons to come down on the side of ballot-marking devices,'' said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a nonprofit in Washington. He pointed to their usefulness for people with disabilities '-- the machines can play audio of the voting choices for visually impaired voters, for example.
The machines can also tailor ballots on the touch screens for voters from various precincts, negating the need for printing multiple ballots for local elections.
In comments this week, Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, whose office was in charge of the procurement, blamed poor preparation at the county level for most of the problems.
Image Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, blamed poor preparation at the county level for most of Tuesday's election problems. Credit... Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press Dominion Voting Systems is considered one of the ''big three'' in election equipment manufacturing. The company makes a range of devices that are used in states and counties around the country.
Dominion's Democracy 5.5 system, the one used in Georgia, was approved by the National Elections Assistance Commission in 2018. The next year, it failed certification in Texas.
While some Democrats in the Georgia Legislature had opposed the purchase of this type of system, there is some evidence that heavy lobbying and sales tactics have played a role in their adoption in Georgia and elsewhere.
''The companies are pushing these because they make more money on them,'' Dr. Appel said.
Georgia records list eight registered lobbyists for Dominion.
One of them is Lewis Abit Massey, a former Georgia secretary of state who once ran for governor. Another, Jared Thomas, once served as chief of staff for Brian Kemp, the current governor.
Ms. Stimson denied that her company's marketing was overly aggressive, adding that it had hired lobbyists in Georgia to ensure a fair process. ''Our marketing budget is quite low,'' she said.
Another major vendor that competed for the contract was Election Systems & Software, the biggest of the election equipment companies. It employed so many Georgia power brokers that the connections merited a graphic on a site operated by Fair Fight, the voting rights organization formed by Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 election for governor.
The ''ballot marking'' systems in other states have caused problems in elections for the past few years, often from a combination of user error, lack of training, infrastructure challenges and the occasional software issue.
Multiple counties in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, rolled out a similar machine in the 2019 off-year elections. Called the ExpressVote XL, it was manufactured by Election Systems & Software.
The initial rollout in 2019 proved problematic. In Northhampton County, an election for a local judge returned faulty results, with the Democratic candidate receiving just 164 votes out of 55,000 ballots. Voters also complained of extremely glitchy touch screens.
An investigation by the county found that the errors ''were the result of a human error in formatting the ballot,'' and that the touch-screen issues were because ''some machines had been configured improperly at the factory prior to delivery to Northampton County.''
In Philadelphia, election officials reported performance issues with machines in more than 40 percent of locations in 2019, according to a report by Reuters.
Katina Granger, a spokeswoman for Election Systems & Software, pointed to the successful 2019 election in Delaware using the company's ExpressVote XL technology and denied there had been widespread problems in Pennsylvania.
Georgia's decision to adopt the technology in 2019 and roll it out this year was such a bold plan that it warranted a write-up in November in the trade journal Government Technology, which said the ''swift transition had raised eyebrows.'' The publication quoted a Colorado elections official who marveled at the state's speed in adopting the new system.
Like Princeton's Dr. Appel, Duncan Buell, a professor of computer science at the University of South Carolina, argued for the hand-marked ballots.
''If you look at this as a system analysis problem, all of this argues that you want the system to be as simple as possible,'' Dr. Buell said. ''Things are going to go wrong.''
How the Supreme Court Doomed the US & the West | Armstrong Economics
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:42
I have been warning that those in Washington DO NOT like outsiders. Only 106 republicans out of 196 joined Texas demonstrating that behind the curtain, nearly 50% of republican politicians prefer Trump to leave because he is not one of them. The Supreme Court avoided ruling claiming Texas had no standing which is completely false. Not giving a decision, either way, will propel civil unrest as each side claims they are right. Already people in Texas are talking about secession might be the answer for pro-Trump states. This time, we are approaching the break up of the United States and it may indeed be the only solution. No side has the right to oppress the other and the Supreme Court will NOT defend the people or the Constitution. The rule of law was the foundation of civilization, and refusing to comply with that duty condemns the nation to oblivion.
The Supreme Court has NO DISCRETION whatsoever to deny the petition and I do not say that as being supportive of the action . The only way to settle this dispute is to rule then both sides would have no choice but to settle down. This way, the election will always be in dispute. Biden got more votes in each of these swing states than Hillary or Obama which was NOT the case in any other state. This is indicative of fraud and it should have been addressed yes or no. This election was STOLEN not be Biden, but by an international agenda which has taken over the entire West and they needed Trump removed. Just look at the Agenda 2030 coming from Klaus Schwab and you will see the real future we face. This is the man who is destroying the future of civilization, will fail in his Marxist dreams, and will leave the West in shambles as the financial capital migrates to China.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL ON ITS FACEThe Judiciary Act of 1925 held that the Supreme Court would have the discretion to select what it wants to hear in direct violation of the Constitution, which has NEVER been addressed. The Constitution ONLY established the Supreme Court as part of a tripartite government and the separation of powers as laid out as essential to constrain tyranny by Montesquieu, who was also the inspiration for the Second Amendment which was to keep citizens armed rather than maintain standing armies to prevent war.
As such, the lower courts were created ONLY by statute under Congress and could just as easily be shut down. The only court required by the Constitution is the Supreme Court and every Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States are required to take two oaths before they may execute the duties of their appointed office '' (1) the Constitutional Oath to defend it and (2) the Judicial Oath.
Therefore, anyone can see on its face that the Judiciary Act of 1925 is unconstitutional for it violates their oath to defend the constitution when they have the discretion to not hear cases. Previously, the Supreme Court ruled and ignored this time when it defined ''discretion'' by saying ''the term 'discretion' denotes the absence of a hard and fast rule.'' Langnes v Green , 282 US 531, 541 (1931). This means that those in power do not have to obey any law, even the Constitution. The Supreme Court also said, ''it is obvious that discretion does not exist where there is no power to act except in one way.'' Jones v SEC , 298 US 1, 18 (1936). When judges and politicians claim discretion, they claim to be ABOVE the law of men.
Now, turning to the Texas lawsuit, I agree with Justices Alito and Thomas that the court had ''no discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction.''
Article III, Section II of the Constitution establishes the jurisdiction (legal ability to hear a case) of the Supreme Court. The Court has original jurisdiction (a case is tried before the Court) over certain cases, e.g., suits between two or more states and/or cases involving ambassadors and other public ministers.
This case squarely fell within the original jurisdiction since it was a case ''between two or more states'' and therefore, this denial was in itself unconstitutional relying on the discretion granted illegally by the Judiciary Act of 1925. Obviously, the majority of the court simply did not want to get into this election dispute. Like Dread Scott, which tried to avoid the issue of slavery by ruling that blacks had no rights under the Constitution to avoid ruling which led to the Civil War, the Supreme Court has once again condemned the country to Civil War for is the Democrats try to implement the Agenda 2030, they will unleash violence no different than the Russian revolution. Klaus Schwab knows this will lead to revolution and has flipped to claiming if his agenda is NOT adopted there will be a revolution from the BLM movement he helped to inspire.
The Merits of the Texas SuitTexas SCt suit
The Texas lawsuit turned on the Electoral College Clause.
''Constitutional BackgroundThe Electors Clause requires that each State ''shall appoint'' its Presidential Electors ''in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.'' U.S. CONST. art. II, § 1, cl. 2
As set forth in the Complaint, executive and judicial officials made significant changes to the legislatively defined election laws in the Defendant States. '... Taken together, these non-legislative changes did away with statutory ballot-security measures for absentee and mail-in ballots such as signature verification, witness requirements, and statutorily authorized secure ballot drop-off locations''
There is no doubt that they had an argument and that it fell squarely within the Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Alito and Thomas recognized that. The fact that the other 7 justices denied cert merely shows they did not want to rule on this matter which is an exercise of discretion that has now doomed the USA to continuing violence. In doing so, they have violated the civil right of the entire nation and condemned the world to the ruthless tyranny coming out of the World Economic Forum. Based upon information and belief, this entire ''Build Back Better'' movement has been designed by the marketing firm Edelman which already appears to be pushing this new world order and is also in a partnership with the World Economic Forum.
Here you have John Kerry claiming there is no return to normal because what existed before didn't work despite the fact that even black unemployment was at a historic low. It didn't work because the people voted for Trump instead of a career politician. Economically, the economy was booming until they started their attack using this virus.
Then you have Boris Johnson stating he will retrain adults for the new economy confirming he is deliberately using the lockdowns to destroy the economy for this New Green World Order of Schwab!
Five Heads of States/Government are all preaching Build Back Better '' French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari '' 32 speakers from 23 countries, including civil society leaders, ministers, high-level representatives from OECD, IMF and World Bank, and 1,000 live viewers from 100+ countries.
There is nothing left for doubt that this entire Agenda 2030 amounts to the take over of the United States. While many questioned Biden's mental capacity to be president, this has NEVER been a contest between Trump v Biden. This has really been Trump v Schwab. This entire agenda of Schwab who is behind this power grab to hand it to the United Nations has been so well organized and Trump has been so outnumbered as not merely just Europe and Canada against him, but the United Nations, World Bank, IMF, and Schwab's World Economic Forum. This is Schwab pushing his new version of Marxism. They are using the lockdowns NOT for a virus, but for climate change.
Schwab and crew have bought the media which is always left and this is why we have fake news. There is no way they will allow any comment to the contrary. This is the overthrow of everything and we are not entitled to put this to a vote. They are simply engaging in tyranny with a smile. This is the end of democracy for we are not smart enough to even vote.
This is not simply Communism where you will own nothing, this is feudalism for the super-rich will retain their wealth which is why Big Tech has been pushing their agenda to get rid of Trump.
WHY EVERYONE HAS STANDING IN A CIVIL RIGHTS CLASS ACTIONIn the Supreme Court decision Bush v Gore 531 U.S. 98 (2000), it did raise the equal protection problem with different election procedures nationally. The court held Per Curiam:
Despite violating the Fourteenth Amendment by using disparate vote-counting procedures in different counties, Florida did not need to complete a recount in the 2000 presidential election because it could not be accomplished in a constitutionally valid way within the time limit set by federal law for resolving these controversies.
There were indications that the Court recognized the need for nationwide electoral reform under Due Process and the Equal Protection Clause. How states do their own elections do not impact other states. However, election anyone federally impacts the rights of everyone. Looking at the lower courts, at least one federal court has suggested that the courts could order a new election. In 1976, an Eastern District Court in New York heard a case, Donohue v. Board of Elections of State of NY, 435 F. Supp. 957 (E.D.N.Y. 1976), where it was alleged that voter fraud in several urban locations took place not unlike what we see right now. In that decision, the court maintained that federal courts had a role to play in ensuring free and fair presidential elections. It held:
''It is difficult to imagine a more damaging blow to public confidence in the electoral process than the election of a President whose margin of victory was provided by fraudulent registration or voting, ballot-stuffing or other illegal means.''
Interestingly, the court didn't find sufficient evidence that voter fraud had altered the outcome, or even occurred at all. Still, experts disagree about whether courts can order presidential elections to be held again. If there is a violation of rules that would change the election outcome, then the courts would be compelled to act and federally this is why Texas is suing Pennsylvania. Now 17 other states are joining Texas v Pennsylvania. What Pennsylvania and Georgia for that matter do to try to prevent recounts impacts the Equal Protection of the Law and Due Process rights of everyone else in the entire country.
ELECTION VIOLATED OUR CIVIL RIGHTSWithin the Legal Code Title 18, Section 241, it has been an important statutory tool in election crime prosecutions. It has long been held to apply only to schemes to corrupt elections for federal office. It has been applied to stuffing a ballot box with forged ballots, United States v. Saylor , 322 U.S. 385 (1944); United States v. Mosley , 238 U.S. 383 (1915) as well as preventing the official count of ballots in primary elections, United States v. Classic , 313 U.S. 299 (1941), which may come in handy in this election. This means private suites can be filed claiming that interfering with the ballots is a civil rights violation to all in the country.
Destroying voter registration applications is also applicable ( United States v. Haynes , Nos. 91-5979, 91-6076, 1992 WL 296782, at *1 (6th Cir. Oct. 15, 1992)), as well as destroying ballots ( United States v. Townsley , 843 F.2d 1070, 1073''75 (8th Cir. 1988)).
Anyone who exploits the infirmities of elderly or handicapped people by casting absentee ballots in their names is also a violation of civil rights, United States v. Morado , 454 F.2d 167, 171 (5th Cir. 1972), just as anyone who illegally register voters and cast absentee ballots in their names, United States v. Weston , 417 F.2d 181, 182''85 (4th Cir. 1969).
Anyone who threatens injury, threaten, or intimidate a voter in the exercise of his right to vote is also a serious actionable issue under this statute, Fields v. United States , 228 F.2d 544 (4thCir. 1955). This even extends to someone who impersonates qualified voters, Crolich v. United States , 196 F.2d 879, 879 (5th Cir. 1952).
BREAKING: YouTube censors prominent political commentator Scott Adams | The Post Millennial
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:37
As the big tech tyrants tighten their grip, join us for more free speech at Parler'--the anti-censorship social media platform.
YouTube has deleted a Scott Adams video after they deemed it violates their "spam, deceptive practices and scams policy. The video covered the Swalwell Chinese spy story, as well as Biden's COVID plan.
Adams tweeted the entire email he receive from YouTube. He captioned, "Google (YouTube) just shut me down. The video they deleted is no different from all of my other content. I assume they'll come for the other videos soon."
Google (YouTube) just shut me down. The video they deleted is no different from all of my other content. I assume they'll come for the other videos soon. pic.twitter.com/T9QolOZ1Jr
'-- Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) December 11, 2020This censorship is not exclusive to Adams, as big tech has been recently ramping up their efforts to censor certain individuals online. Figures like Bret Weinstein have also been recently censored, but by Facebook.
It remains to be seen whether YouTube will restore the deleted content, and remove the strike that Scott Adams' channel is likely slapped with.
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Will A Small County In Northern Michigan Be The Key To Overturning The Nation's Election Results? America Should Find Out On Monday
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:34
The untold story of a battle to reveal the truth about Dominion voting machines is brewing in Michigan, and not surprisingly, it's getting very little coverage by the mainstream media.In a solidly red county in northern Michigan where Trump banners, flags, and yard signs can be found in almost every front yard, voters woke up to discover Joe Biden had walloped President Trump, only to find out shortly later that Dominion voting machines flipped thousands of votes cast for Trump to his Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The media called it a ''glitch'' and blamed it on human error.
Earlier this week, we reported about the lawsuit filed by Matthew DePerno of DePerno Law on behalf of Central Lake resident William Bailey. In addition to thousands of votes that were flipped from President Trump to Democrat candidate Joe Biden, Bailey was concerned about ballots that were re-run through the Dominion tabulator machine after a 262-262 tie on a vote a ballot initiative that would allow a marijuana establishment to be located within the Village of Central Lake.
While ballots were being inserted into the machine, 3 of the ballots were destroyed and were not placed through the tabulator. At the conclusion of the recount by the tabulating machine and with three fewer votes, the result was 262-261, and the initiative passed. Of course, this result could only be possible after 3 of the ballots were destroyed.
Two more unexplainable vote counts in Antrim County also left voters stunned by the unexplainable outcome of the vote result by Dominion. In Central Lake's School Board election, 742 votes were added to the total after a recount on November 6. (First image below)
Dominion's vote totals showed 663 people voted in a district where there were only 6 eligible voters and only 3 of those 6 actually voted. Somehow, Dominion added 660 additional votes to the final tally. (Second image)
''Based on all the allegation of fraud, statutory violations, and other misconduct,'' DePerno wrote, ''it is necessary to immediately permit the plaintiff to take a forensic image of the 22 precinct tabulators, thumb drives, related software, the Clerk's ''master tabulator,'' and conduct an investigation of those images, after which a manual recount of the election results and independent audit of the November 3 election may be ordered to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the election.''
In his lawsuit, Matthew DePerno claims that based on the evidence they have provided to the court that Dominion Voting Systems ''committed material fraud or error in this election so that the outcome of the election was affected.''
At 5:30 PM on Friday, December 4, 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin A. Elsenheimer granted permission to William Bailey and his team of IT experts to conduct a forensic study of the 16 Dominion voting machines, tabulators, thumb drives, related software, and the Clerk's ''master tabulator.'' In his court order, Bailey was also granted the ability to conduct an independent investigation of the images they obtained in their examination.
Matthew DePerno was able to quickly assemble a team of seven highly trained forensic IT experts who agreed to arrive the next day (Saturday) to conduct the forensic examination.
After 8 hours, the collection was complete. With 16 CF cards (similar to SIM cards), 16 thumb drives, and forensic images of the Dominion voting machines in hand, the IT team was escorted to the local Antrim County Airport by two Antrim County Sheriff vehicles, where they boarded their jet plane with evidence in hand.
DePerno waited patiently for the results of the forensic examination of the Dominion voting machines to arrive. While he was waiting for the results, Michigan's radical Attorney General Dana Nessel who won her election after bragging she was the best candidate for the job because she didn't have a penis, added Michigan's far-left, dishonest Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to the lawsuit as a defendant on Wednesday.
On Friday, Constitutional Attorney Matthew DePerno, who is now in possession of the initial preliminary results of the forensic examination of the Dominion voting machine, 16 CV data cards, and 16 thumb drives from the Dominion machines, filed an emergency order asking Judge Kevin Elsenheimer to lift the protective order prohibiting him from sharing the results of the inspection, calling it a matter of ''national security.'' In his emergency motion, DePerno reminds the judge that time is of the essence, as the deadline for electors to vote for the next President is Monday, December 14, 2020.
In his order, Deperno states that Secretary of State Benson has refused to permit a forensic examination of the Dominion software, presumably because she is fearful of violating the Licensing agreement with Dominion. DePerno points out that the agreement produced by Antrim County was not signed and that they have not been able to verify that the contract was actually signed.
DePerno asked for the preliminary results of the election to be released to the people of Antrim Co, of the State of MI, of the USA, and to the President and Vice President of the United States, as well as Chad Wolf, Sec. of Homeland Security and DNI John Ratcliff.
In his emergency order, DePerno argues that the protective order placed on sharing the forensic examination results was to prevent the plaintiff from reverse engineering Dominion's software for malicious purposes. DePerno argues that his plaintiff, Mr. Bailey, and his IT team have no intention of reverse-engineering the software for malicious purposes. Mr. DePerno adds, ''the public interest weighs in favor of granting the Plaintiff's preliminary injunction.'' He explains, ''The Court believes that confirming the accuracy, integrity, and security of the electoral process is a greater public interest at this juncture than the potential misuse of reverse engineering data.''
Later today, Attorney Matthew DePerno received word that 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin A Elseneheimer would hear his case. Curiously, DePerno, who filed the emergency motion, found out about the hearing when he saw an article published by the far-left Detroit Free Press at 2:13 PM. DePerno then received an email from Antrim County attorney Haider Kazim at 2:50 PM and received notice directly from the Court at 3:02 PM. According to DePerno, the hearing will take place at 8:30 AM EST on Monday.
Donald Trump's Presidency Will End On The Day Of A Comet, A Meteor Shower And A Total Eclipse Of The Sun
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:32
U.S.President Donald Trump puts on special glasses to look at the Solar Eclipse on the Truman ... [+] Balcony at the White House on August 21, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Getty ImagesIt will be no ordinary Monday. In the early hours of December 14, 2020 the year's biggest and most impressive meteor shower will strike'--the Geminids. A few hours later a darkness will come to the day as a rare total eclipse of the Sun occurs.
Observers in the path of totality in South America are hoping for a glimpse of the Sun's corona, but they'll also be looking for green flashes of Geminids meteors in the twilight, and possibly also a comet close to the spectacle.
''It's also a day we will see Joe Biden officially confirmed as President of the United States,'' said Jay Pasachoff, Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, Massachusetts, who's witnessed 35 total solar eclipses and 72 solar eclipses of all types. ''Maybe it takes a total eclipse of the Sun to make that official.''
MORE FROM FORBES A 'Bizarre' Trillion-Dollar Asteroid Worth More Than Our Planet Is Now Aligned With The Earth And Sun By Jamie Carter Delve into the dates and it gets even odder because December 14, 2020 is exactly halfway between two ''Great American Eclipses,'' which are extremely rare events.
To be clear, there's nothing auspicious or suspicious about any of this'--it's a celestial story of a randomly bright-ish comet, a debris trail from a giant asteroid and the Saros cycle'--but it's nevertheless interesting to note that total solar eclipses are a recurring theme in North America at the moment.
That includes politics.
MORE FROM FORBES A Spectacularly Rare 'Christmas Star' Is Coming In December As Two Worlds Align After Sunset By Jamie Carter Donald Trump has history with solar eclipses. Back on August 21, 2017 during the ''Great American Eclipse'' he was photographed looking at an 81% partial solar eclipse without safety glasses, risking solar retinopathy retinal damage. The photo was slightly unfair since the full video of the event shows his and his family and cabinet looking at the eclipse through solar eclipse glasses, with Trump stealing an extra glance without the glasses. It was a photo of the latter that went viral.
Joe Biden'--who has a dwarf planet named after him dating from his time as Vice-President'--will see his forthcoming term in office book-ended by something even better than the ''Great American Eclipse'''--a ''Greater North American Eclipse.''
On April 8, 2024 the Moon's shadow will move across Mexico, the US and Canada, bringing a maximum of 4 minutes 28 seconds totality to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
MORE FROM FORBES 50 Million People May Gather For The 'Greater American Eclipse,' The Most Watched Event Ever By Jamie Carter Now comes the weird part. The halfway point between August 21, 2017 and April 8, 2024 is '... December 14, 2020. The same day of another total solar eclipse, albeit not visible in North America.
These celestial coincidences aside, most eclipse-chasers are either getting excited about what's about to happen on December 14, or else they're licking their wounds after canceling travel plans because of COVID-19.
Those that make it to Chile and Argentina will experience totality as the Moon blocks the Sun and may see the comet or a ''shooting star'' during the darkness of the day.
MORE FROM FORBES 2020 Needs A Dramatic End, Right? This Is How A 'Beaver Moon' Will Countdown To A Jaw-Dropping Sight By Jamie Carter Discovered September by Nicolas Erasmus, an astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory, Comet C/2020 S3 (Erasmus) will be just 11º from the Sun and Moon during totality. It may not be bright enough, but there's a chance.
In the early hours of Monday, December 14, 2020 the Geminid meteor shower will strike. A predictable annual event, the year's most powerful meteor shower will see up to 150 multicoloured ''shooting stars'' per hour visible to anyone under a clear, dark sky. It's best seen from the northern hemisphere, but some meteors are visible in the southern hemisphere.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
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Walmart to administer coronavirus vaccines following FDA approval | Fox Business
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:08
Retail giant Walmart plans to administer coronavirus vaccines following approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company announced this week.
It plans to enter into agreements with the federal government to distribute the vaccine upon its approval, Walmart Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Van Gilder said in a news release.
Walmart is preparing some 5,000 of its Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies to receive the doses when available; "including making sure we have freezers in all our pharmacies, as well as dry ice to handle any requirements for storing the vaccine," Van Gilder said in the statement.
The retailer is also "entering into agreements with states to be able to support vaccinations where needed, whether that is in our pharmacies or long-term care facilities where the states determine they need our help."
Health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities have been recommended by an independent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel to receive the vaccine first, with many states expected to follow these recommendations.
"The federal government will allocate the vaccine to states, and states will determine who should receive the first doses of the vaccine and when. Walmart will not have any say in who can receive the vaccine, but we are ready to support states once they do," the company said.
The U.S. government has agreed to buy some 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the first to seek emergency approval from the FDA. An FDA advisory panel voted Thursday to endorse the jab, clearing the way for FDA leaders to authorize emergency mass distribution amid an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases across the country.
That FDA approval came Friday night.
Other pharmacies across the country, including CVS Health Corp and Walgreens Boot Alliance, have entered into similar agreements with the U.S. government to distribute the vaccine.
Disney World will stop digitally adding face masks on ride photos
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:05
Disney World will no longer be digitally adding face masks onto guests' faces in ride photos, the company said.
Florida's Disney World reopened with new COVID-19 restrictions in July, one of which included wearing a face covering at all times except while eating or swimming. Park visitors who chose to not wear a mask while riding on attractions did not receive PhotoPass photos taken on the rides.
However, Walt Disney World News picked up on a private Dec. 6 Facebook group post noting that the theme park had begun digitally adding masks to riders' faces after the fact.
In a photo posted on Facebook from Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur ride, there is a group of four people up front and two in the back row. The woman in the back row has a black face mask over her face that appears to have been digitally added on.
"Got all of our photo pass photos from yesterday except Dinosaur. Just finally got it and you can see Disney has already started digitally adding masks so everyone can still get their photos," the user captioned the post. "The woman behind us apparently wasn't wearing hers."
Since theme park-goers could be on a ride with people outside their group, if someone slipped their mask off covertly on the ride and were captured in the group photo, no one could get that photo. The digitally-added masks allowed for those in the photo properly wearing their face masks to get the photos.
In the comments underthe digitally imposed mask photo on Facebook, one person said she was glad Disney was adding masks because "it's not fair to other people that want the picture and can't get it because of someone else."
But another member of the groupdefended the woman who was digitally masked in the photo, saying she might not necessarily be an anti-masker.
"It looks like her mask fell off one ear and is hanging on her other ear," the commenter said, noting that Dinosaur is such a "bumpy" attraction that it might have caused her face covering to fall off.
In any event,Disney World says it will not be digitizing face masks over guests' faces any longer.
"In response to guest requests, we tested modifying some ride photos. We are no longer doing this and continue to expect guests to wear face coverings except when actively eating or drinking while stationary," Disney said in a statement provided by spokesperson Jacquee Wahler.
It's unclear whether photos with maskless riders will still be unavailable for purchase.
Less than two weeks after its Florida parks reopened, Disney World updated its policy to close some mask loopholes.
In addition to face masks, Disney World requires visitors to undergo a temperature check on arrival and observe social distancing guidance. Attractions that involve person-to-person contact or interactive activities remain closed. More frequent cleanings take place throughout the park, and visitors and employees are encouraged to wash their hands.
Coronavirus cases have surged in Florida since Disney World announced its reopening plans in late May. The state had more than 1 million cases as of Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard, up from 360,000 in July.
Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, remains closed. In October, the state announced that large parks with 15,000+ capacity cannot reopen until the infection rate in their counties drops to minimum levels. A few small theme parks were allowed to reopen at the time.
But due to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in December, California has initiated regional stay-at-home orders, causing many businesses that had been open to close again. This includes Disney's retail and dining areas such as Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street.
So thankful': Disney World donates $20,000 in wishing well coins to homeless charity
Pfizer ved ikke, om vaccinerede kan smitte andre - TV 2
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 13:04
Danskerne slipper ikke for at holde afstand, b...re mundbind og bruge h¥ndsprit, selvom man har modtaget en vaccine, siger professor Jens Lundgren.
Danskerne kan forh¥bentlig se frem til at blive vaccineret mod coronavirus i begyndelsen af det nye ¥r.
Men selv med en vaccine i kroppen, kan danskerne ikke tillade sig at opf¸re sig som i tiden f¸r coronapandemien.
Det vides nemlig endnu ikke med sikkerhed, om vaccinerede mod coronavirus kan smitte andre.
Det oplyser Anne Bloch Thomsen, der er medicinsk direkt¸r ved l...gemiddelproducenten Pfizer, til TV 2.
- Det er et sp¸rgsm¥l, vi fortsat unders¸ger. Vores fase 3-studie har unders¸gt, om vaccinekandidaten forebygger sygdom, lyder det.
S¥ l...nge der er et h¸jt smittetryk i Danmark, vil det v...re smart ikke at blive udsat for smitte
Jens Lundgren, professor i infektionsmedicin ved K¸benhavns UniversitetProfessor: Skal ikke ...ndre corona-adf...rdPfizer og BioNTech har i udarbejdelsen af deres vaccine ikke unders¸gt, om en vaccineret person kan give smitte videre til andre.
Dette er if¸lge flere eksperter normal praksis i forbindelse med produktionen af vacciner.
Danskerne slipper alts¥ ikke umiddelbart for at holde afstand, b...re mundbind og bruge h¥ndsprit, selvom man er blevet vaccineret, siger Jens Lundgren, der er professor i infektionsmedicin ved K¸benhavns Universitet.
De udsatte grupper, der er f¸rst til at blive vaccineret herhjemme, b¸r derfor forts...tte deres adf...rd som tidligere under coronapandemien, da smittetrykket stadig m¥ formodes at v...re h¸jt i Danmark i begyndelsen af 2021.
- Vi kan for det f¸rste ikke v...re sikre p¥, at vaccinen beskytter alle. Og s¥ l...nge der er et h¸jt smittetryk i Danmark, vil det v...re smart ikke at blive udsat for smitte, siger Jens Lundgren.
Beskytter 95 procentFase 3-studier har vist, at Pfizer-vaccinen er omkring 95 procent effektiv i forhold til at kunne forebygge sygdommen covid-19 sammenlignet med en gruppe, der fik placebo.
If¸lge Anne Bloch Thomsen vil Pfizer forts...tte med at indsamle effektivitets- og sikkerhedsdata i to ¥r endnu, oplyser direkt¸ren til TV 2.
Jens Lundgren venter, at forskerne i den kommende uge vil blive klogere p¥ coronavaccinernes virkning.
For 17. december er det nemlig forventningen, at der kommer resultater fra vaccinekandidaten fra Modernas fase tre-studie, som benytter samme teknologi som Pfizer og BioNTech.
- Det kan give brugbar viden, for vi f¥r viden fra dobbelt s¥ mange fors¸gspersoner, siger Jens Lundgren.
Danskere kan ses frem til vacciner i 2021Coronavaccinen fra selskaberne Pfizer og BioNTech er endnu ikke godkendt som l...gemiddel i Danmark.
Storbritannien, Canada og USA har som de f¸rste lande udstedt en n¸dgodkendelse til vaccinen henholdsvis 8., 10. og 11. december.
Senest 29. december skal vaccinen fra den amerikanske og tyske virksomhed evalueres af Det Europ...iske L...gemiddelagentur (EMA).
Bliver vaccinen godkendt, kan den efter planen blive uddelt til de f¸rste danskere i l¸bet af januar 2021.
No drinking for two months after COVID-19 vaccine, Russia says
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:59
December 9, 2020 | 12:49am | Updated December 9, 2020 | 1:27pm
Russian officials are warning citizens to avoid alcohol for two months after receiving the country's COVID-19 vaccine '-- tough-to-swallow news for one of the world's heaviest-drinking countries.
The warning came from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who said in an interview that Russians will have to observe extra precautions during the 42 days it takes for the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to become effective.
''[Russians] will have to refrain from visiting crowded places, wear face masks, use sanitizers, minimize contacts and refrain from drinking alcohol or taking immunosuppressant drugs,'' Golikova told TASS News Agency.
Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia's consumer safety watchdog, echoed the sentiments in an interview with Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda, as reported in the Moscow Times.
A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine injection in Moscow, Russia. CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock''It's a strain on the body. If we want to stay healthy and have a strong immune response, don't drink alcohol,'' she said.
According to the World Health Organization, Russia is the fourth-largest consumer of alcohol per person in the world. The average Russian consumes 15.1 liters (almost 4 gallons) of alcohol a year, according to the agency.
Russia's efforts to vaccinate its population began in earnest over the weekend in Moscow. Health authorities in the country estimate that 100,000 people have already been inoculated.
''By the end of the week, all regions of the country will join this campaign,'' Golikova said.
Russian health officials say the Sputnik V vaccine is over 90 percent effective, but reports say medical workers who have taken the shot have come down with COVID-19. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly refused to take it.
Western experts have expressed skepticism at the speed at which the purported vaccine was developed and Russia hasn't provided any data to back up its claims for the shot.
Russia has recorded 2.4 million coronavirus cases, as well as over 42,000 deaths from the disease.
Australia Scraps Covid-19 Vaccine That Produced H.I.V. False Positives - The New York Times
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:57
Of the dozens of coronavirus vaccines being tested worldwide, the one under development at the University of Queensland was the first to be abandoned.
Australia Scraps Coronavirus VaccinePrime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia on Friday canceled a large order of a developed coronavirus vaccine after not having the approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the country's drug regulator.''The advice that we have received, and the National Security Committee of Cabinet met this week and made the final decision yesterday, is that the University of Queensland vaccine will not be able to proceed based on the scientific advice, and that will no longer feature as part of Australia's vaccine plan. And the decision we've taken should give Australians great assurance that we are proceeding carefully. We are moving swiftly, but not with any undue haste here. At the end of the day, the Therapeutic Goods Administration like with any vaccine in Australia, it must have their tick-off '-- without the tick, there's no jab when it comes to vaccines in this country. That is true for the Covid-19 vaccine, as it is true for any other vaccine that is administered here in Australia.'' ''Clearly, the discontinuation of Q vaccine by mutual agreement, it was likely to be a promising vaccine. It was likely to work. But we knew that we didn't want to have any issues with confidence, and this false positive test may have caused some confusion and lack of confidence. But it was a very, very good technology. It was looking like it was going to make antibodies, and it probably would have worked very well as a vaccine.''
Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia on Friday canceled a large order of a developed coronavirus vaccine after not having the approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the country's drug regulator. Credit Credit... James Ross/AAP, via Reuters Australia on Friday canceled a roughly $750 million plan for a large order of a locally developed coronavirus vaccine after the inoculation produced false positive test results for H.I.V. in some volunteers participating in a trial study.
Of the dozens of coronavirus vaccines being tested worldwide, the Australian one was the first to be abandoned. While its developers said the experimental vaccine had appeared to be safe and effective, the false positives risked undermining trust in the effort to vaccinate the public.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said that his government would compensate for the loss of 51 million doses it had planned to buy from the Australian consortium in part by increasing orders of vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Novavax. The government has said it plans to begin inoculating citizens by March.
''We can't have any issues with confidence,'' he told reporters, ''and we are as a nation now, with a good portfolio of vaccines, able to make these decisions to best protect the Australian people.''
The Australian setback showed the missteps that can inevitably occur when scientists, during a pandemic that has killed more than 1.5 million people, rush to condense the usual yearslong process to develop vaccines into a matter of months.
But just as the Australian scientists made their announcement, the fruits of that race became clearer. The United States moved a step closer to issuing its first approval for a Covid-19 vaccine, as a panel of experts who advise the Food and Drug Administration endorsed a Pfizer vaccine that is already in use in Britain.
The trouble that arose with the Australian vaccine, developed by the University of Queensland and the biotech company CSL, was related to its use of two fragments of a protein found in H.I.V.
The protein formed part of a molecular ''clamp'' that researchers placed on the spikes that surround the coronavirus and allow it to enter healthy cells. The clamp stabilizes the spikes, allowing the immune system to respond more effectively to the vaccine.
The use of the H.I.V. protein posed no risk of infecting the volunteers with that virus, the researchers said. But the clamp generated the production of antibodies recognized by H.I.V. tests at higher levels than the scientists had expected.
Because H.I.V. tests could not be rapidly re-engineered to account for this, the researchers decided to abandon development of the vaccine. Proceeding could have led to widespread anxiety among Australians that the vaccine could cause AIDS.
Early experiments on hamsters showed that the vaccine protected them from the coronavirus. When Phase 1 trials on humans began in July, the 216 volunteers were ''fully informed of the possibility of a partial immune response'' to the clamp, the University of Queensland and CSL said in a statement on Friday.
The mistake, said John P. Moore, an immunologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, was an ''honest error'' that cost money, not human lives.
''I'm sure a lot of people are very embarrassed by it,'' Professor Moore said. ''It's not great to be associated with a mistake like this. But when you're running at 90 miles an hour, sometimes you trip.''
The Coronavirus Outbreak 'ºWords to Know About TestingConfused by the terms about coronavirus testing? Let us help:
Antibody: A protein produced by the immune system that can recognize and attach precisely to specific kinds of viruses, bacteria, or other invaders.Antibody test/serology test: A test that detects antibodies specific to the coronavirus. Antibodies begin to appear in the blood about a week after the coronavirus has infected the body. Because antibodies take so long to develop, an antibody test can't reliably diagnose an ongoing infection. But it can identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus in the past.Antigen test: This test detects bits of coronavirus proteins called antigens. Antigen tests are fast, taking as little as five minutes, but are less accurate than tests that detect genetic material from the virus.Coronavirus: Any virus that belongs to the Orthocoronavirinae family of viruses. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is known as SARS-CoV-2. Covid-19: The disease caused by the new coronavirus. The name is short for coronavirus disease 2019.Isolation and quarantine: Isolation is the separation of people who know they are sick with a contagious disease from those who are not sick. Quarantine refers to restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a virus.Nasopharyngeal swab: A long, flexible stick, tipped with a soft swab, that is inserted deep into the nose to get samples from the space where the nasal cavity meets the throat. Samples for coronavirus tests can also be collected with swabs that do not go as deep into the nose '-- sometimes called nasal swabs '-- or oral or throat swabs.Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): Scientists use PCR to make millions of copies of genetic material in a sample. Tests that use PCR enable researchers to detect the coronavirus even when it is scarce.Viral load: The amount of virus in a person's body. In people infected by the coronavirus, the viral load may peak before they start to show symptoms, if symptoms appear at all.The University of Queensland vaccine was one of several under development that contain a coronavirus protein that prompts a response from the immune system. Protein-based vaccines have a longer track record than some of the newer approaches used by competing coronavirus vaccines, such as those based on viral genes or so-called adenoviruses.
Prominent protein-based vaccines include one made by the Maryland-based Novavax, which is in Phase 3 trials, and another from Clover Biopharmaceuticals of China that is in Phase 1 trials.
In the case of the Australian vaccine, it was found to produce a strong immune response and caused no serious side effects in the Phase 1 trial, according to the scientists' statement. But proceeding with the vaccine trial would have required ''significant changes'' in longstanding H.I.V. testing procedures, they said.
''Doing so would set back development by another 12 or so months, and while this is a tough decision to take, the urgent need for a vaccine has to be everyone's priority,'' Paul Young, a virologist at the university who helped lead the vaccine effort, said in the statement. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday afternoon.
Australia's health minister, Greg Hunt, told reporters that the country still had access to 140 million units of coronavirus vaccines '-- more than enough to cover its population of about 25 million people.
''This is the scientific process working,'' Mr. Hunt said. ''It's the planning process working. It's an honest explanation of some of the challenges we've had.''
Carl Zimmer contributed reporting.
Powell Asks Supreme Court to Immediately Order States Decertify Election Results
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:50
Attorney Sidney Powell is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately intervene in her lawsuits challenging the integrity and outcome of the 2020 elections in four states.
In an announcement on Friday, Powell said she had filed emergency requests to the nation's top court, asking the justices to order officials in Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona to immediately de-certify their 2020 election results and to prevent the states' presidential electors from casting votes in the electoral college.
An emergency filing is also anticipated for her Wisconsin case. The filings aim to maintain the status quo in the states in order to give the Supreme Court time to consider the allegations presented in her lawsuits.
''These cases raise constitutional issues and prove massive fraud . Our plaintiffs have standing ' WeThePeople' will not allow rigged elections,'' she said in a Twitter statement on Friday.
The briefs have indicated that Powell's legal teams are preparing to file a petition for a writ of certiorari'--or a request'--asking the high court to review lower courts' rulings that dismissed her lawsuits in the four states that were dubbed ''the kraken.'' The lawyers have filed appeals to each states' respective circuit courts but due to looming deadlines, the teams will file a simultaneous appeal to the top court.
Each state's presidential electors are expected to meet on Dec. 14 and cast their electoral college vote.
Provisional ballots are seen in a postal service tray at the Gwinnett County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections offices in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Nov. 7, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)Her announcement came on the same day the Supreme Court rejected Texas's request to sue four battleground states'--Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin'--over allegations that they violated the constitution and treated voters unfairly in their handling of the 2020 general election.
The top court opined that Texas did not have the legal standing'--or right'--to sue under the Constitution because it had not shown a valid interest to intervene in how other states handle their elections. Although two of the nine justices said they would have granted the request, they said they would have also denied other injunctive relief.
The briefs filed in Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona present similar arguments and all ask the justices to immediately act in blocking the finalization of the certification process or to alternatively reverse the district courts' orders against Powell's clients.
Powell's team argues that the lawsuits are part of an effort to '' expose and reverse an unprecedent multi- state conspiracy to steal the 2020 General Election.'' Plaintiffs have been characterized as ''conspiracy theorists'' by Democrat politicians and activists who are ignoring the many eyewitnesses, whistleblowers, and expert witnesses who are coming forward with accounts of potential fraud and other evidence, the lawyers argue.
''The 2020 General Election was tainted by unconstitutional election fraud on a scale that has never been seen before'--at least not in America,'' the lawyers allege.
'' Hundreds of thousands if not millions of illegal, fraudulent, ineligible, or purely fictitious ballots were cast for Biden (along with hundreds of thousands of Trump votes that were intentionally destroyed, lost or switched to Biden), changing the outcome from a Biden loss to a Biden 'win,''' the filing alleges.
The lawyers alleged in many of the cases that election officials changed election rules without going through the state legislature; with loopholes enabling intentionally or unintentionally fraudulent processes to be introduced by poll workers, the voting software Dominion, and potentially third parties.
''While no decision of this Court can repair the fractures in our society, only a fair and open inquiry that allows the truth to be discovered can do so, for it is the truth that will set us free,'' the lawyers wrote in the Georgia brief.
''Conversely, closing down any inquiry into the merits of the unconstitutional and illegal conduct in this election would be a slap in the face to many millions of Americans who believe it was a stolen election. Our common bonds require answers on the merits, not procedural evasion.''
It Looks Like Hunter 'Forgot' to Report This Huge Payday from Burisma on His Taxes
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:39
NBC News of all places is reporting on an email that Hunter Biden received in 2017 from Eric Schwerin, then president of Rosemont Seneca Partners. The email makes mention of some $400,000 Hunter Biden received from Burisma Holdings and failed to report on his tax returns. Apparently, the mainstream media no longer thinks the emails are "Russian disinformation" now that the election is over.
''In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,'' says the email dated Jan. 16, 2017.
The email goes on to note that Hunter Biden, who is now the subject of a federal tax probe, netted more than $1.2 million for the year. The earnings include the $400,000 from Burisma as well as income from Rosemont Seneca Advisors and a legal firm.
The email was made available by Rudy Giuliani's attorney Robert Costello. Costello has said he was given a copy of one of Hunter Biden's hard drives from the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware.
NBC News did not have access to the full drive. It is not known what, if any, action Hunter Biden took in response to the email.
The Biden-Harris transition team revealed earlier this week that Hunter Biden was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation centered around his tax returns. In response to the news, Joe Biden said he's proud of his son.
Joe Biden has come to count on his liberal allies in the mainstream media and Big Tech suppressing damaging news for him, but that may be changing now that protecting Biden is no longer about stopping a second Trump term. Let's face it. The media would love to call Kamala president.
Election was stolen using "Automated Test Decks" of pre-filled Biden ballot stacks that were fed into Dominion machines multiple times after Election Day
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:37
Election was stolen using "Automated Test Decks" of pre-filled Biden ballot stacks that were fed into Dominion machines multiple times after Election Day
By ljdevon // 2020-12-11
In the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election, Democrats were determined to remove Trump from office by any means necessary. Their biggest obstacle was their own cognitively-deficient, low-energy candidate. Their candidate was a career politician, a mumbling, kneeling punching bag. The Democrats knew they would never have the full support of the American people. Their candidate could hardly speak or even draw a crowd. This is why Democrats planned one of the most brazen acts of war against the US - rigging the election.Now we're finding out exactly how the Democrats were able to erase Donald Trump's large lead across multiple swing states. The election was stolen for Biden using "
Automated Test Decks" of pre-filled Biden ballot stacks that were fed into Dominion voting machines multiple times after election day.
Democrat operatives used Dominion's ''Test Decks'' to run multiple, pre-filled Biden ballots after election dayAt approximately 10:30 pm on election night, Georgia's election officials did something completely unprecedented: They stopped the vote count and told poll watchers to go home early. Overnight, these corrupt Democrats fed automated test decks into Dominion voting machines. The act was caught on tape at the State Farm Arena in Fulton County, Georgia where the ballot count was taking place. Over eighteen thousand fraudulent votes were pushed through the tabulators after everyone (election observers and the press) was forced to leave. This improbable Biden ballot dump, observed in Fulton County, corresponds with this
smoking gun video evidence that shows Democrats pushing fraudulent ballots through the Dominion machines in the middle of the night. The video shows how the 12:18am Biden ballot dump handed Democrats an improbable 98 percent vote haul out of 23,487 votes!This evidence also corresponds to eye-witness testimony (recorded in sworn affidavits) testifying that there were thousands of ''pristine sheets'' fed into the system after hours. These crisp ballots had ''no creases'' and a ''bubble selection perfectly made'' out for Biden in advance.This fraudulent ballot stuffing is made possible thanks to Dominion voting systems. One of the first red flags of election fraud was that Biden over-performed by five percent on Dominion machines, compared to all other voting machines used in the 2020 election. Dominion was deployed for every single county in Georgia for the 2020 election, despite warnings about their potential for fraud. Now we know why Biden over-performed with Dominion.In Dominion's user manual, there are instructions that openly permit fraud. Dominion allows a feature called ''automated test decks'' that are not currently part of U.S. EAC certification. These test decks can be generated automatically for a specific candidate ''using the EMS Test Deck application.'' This feature allowed Democrats to print thousands of pre-filled ballots on demand. These pre-filled test decks were easily brought into existence and their origin concealed by using the names and addresses of unknowing, non-participating Democrat voters. A signature match and forensic audit would find that thousands of Biden votes were actually pre-filled test decks with no envelope or signature to match.
Dominion's user manual states:
The Automated Test Deck Generator creates comprehensive test decks for efficient and easy logic and accuracy testing. Using the election project database, a deck of vote marked ballots is randomly generated to provide the highest assurance of system accuracy. When scanned these automated test deck ballots create known outcomes that can be compared with the tabulated results, providing verification of both the quality of the printed ballots as well as the complete accuracy of each tabulator.Using these machines, a Democrat operative can then "generate test ballots (test decks), either manually from unmarked ballots or automatically using the EMS Test Deck application with a predetermined voting pattern and expected result totals."
Number of fraudulent ballots found in Georgia is enough to swing election ten times overIn Georgia: At least 2,056 felons voted illegally. There were 66,248 kids under eighteen who voted illegally. There were 2,423 who voted with no voter registration at all. There were 1,043 voters who illegally used a PO Box. 4,926 voted past the registration date. 10,315 dead voters participated. Election officials also identified 395 people who voted in two states. A stunning 15,700 votes were from people who had moved out of the state. An additional 40,279 votes were from people who changed counties in Georgia and didn't re-register to vote.If these votes are rightfully removed, then Biden cannot claim a victory in Georgia (because his so-called margin of victory is only 12,670 votes). The state legislature must take account of these fraudulent votes and the corrupt Democrat schemes that defrauded Trump's victory in the state. The state legislator must now
ignore the fraudulent popular vote and send their own slate of Electors to the Electoral College.To help out with election integrity, support
Sources include:TheKyleBecker.substack.comTwitter.comTwitter.comNaturalNews.com
EXCLUSIVE: Sidney Powell Confirms She's Filed Two Cases Tonight, Is Filing Two More Tomorrow - National File
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:35
Former federal prosecutor and Trump adjacent lawyer Sidney Powell confirmed to National File that she and her team have filed two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court pertaining to the election Friday evening, and plan to file an additional pair of cases on Saturday.In a message sent to National File by Sidney Powell's team, the determined attorney said the following:
''Make sure people know we are filing two more cases tomorrow and filed two tonight in which our plaintiffs have standing.''
Powell confirmed on Twitter that the cases filed on Friday involve Georgia and Michigan, and the two filed on Saturday will involve Arizona and Wisconsin.
''Pay attention! We made emergency filings in #SupremeCourt for #Georgia and #Michigan. Will be filing #Arizona #Wisconsin shortly. These cases raise constitutional issues and prove massive #fraud. Our plaintiffs have standing #standing #WeThePeople will not allow rigged elections,'' Powell wrote.
Pay attention! We made emergency filings in #SupremeCourt tonight for #Georgia & #Michigan. Will be filing #Arizona #Wisconsin shortly. These cases raise constitutional issues and prove massive #fraud.Our plaintiffs have #standing #WeThePeople will not allow #rigged elections https://t.co/AfvQ3h40u0
'-- Sidney Powell 🇺🇸'­'­'­ (@SidneyPowell1) December 12, 2020
The Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas against Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin WHICH alleged Constitutional violations, including illegally altering legislated election laws and treating voters unequally, stating that ''Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.''
Despite Friday's ruling, however, multiple paths to contesting the media's stated outcome in the 2020 presidential election remain available to the Trump legal team, including the fact that the ruling itself was determined by a technicality, as well as the viability of the coming lawsuits filed by Powell before state and federal Supreme Courts.
State legislatures could also direct their electoral college votes to whoever they choose, and Congress could overturn the election using the 12th Amendment.
The Trump campaign and President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have pledged to continue fighting to expose what the campaign has presented evidence that suggests was a fundamentally flawed election.
CONFIRMED: Dominion voting machines in Georgia were remotely controlled during election... foreign interference now a FACT
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:35
CONFIRMED: Dominion voting machines in Georgia were remotely controlled during election... foreign interference now a FACT
More confirmation has emerged to show that Dominion Voting Systems machines in Georgia were, in fact, connected to the internet and communicating with third parties on election night.Contradicting what Dominion spokesman Michael Steel falsely claimed on Nov. 22, expert witness Col. Phil Waldron told Rudy Giuliani during more recent questioning that Dominion machines were designed with "many access points to the internet.""These machines
are connected to the internet," Waldron stated. "Dominion user manual instructs how. Server traffic showed connections."Steel, on the other hand, told
Fox News the exact opposite. When asked if a poll worker could use a USB thumb drive to add or remove votes from a candidate, Steel claimed that vote tabulators do not have such access because Dominion machines do not connect to the internet."It's not physically possible to do what they're describing," he reiterated, adding that an algorithm was not used to alter the "weight" of votes in favor of Joe Biden.
Michael Steel is a lackey of neocon Jeb BushIt was later revealed that Steel is nothing but a lackey of neocon and failed presidential wannabe Jeb Bush, which explains his hawking of
the lie that Dominion machines are completely safe and secure.We now know that Dominion machines in Georgia were remotely accessed and controlled on election night via their Chinese-made modems. This is probably also true of Dominion machines in other states.Susan Voyles, a Georgia poll manager, also told the Georgia senate that Dominion machines were remotely accessed by third party groups such as Indivisible Organizers, a far-left organization linked to Barack Obama that endorsed Joe Biden.The essence of what took place is that individuals working on Team Biden's election theft operation remotely accessed the ballot marking devices in Dominion machines and fixed them to produce a Biden "win."Getting to the bottom of the election heist is a big endeavor. To aid in the fight, visit
attorney Sidney Powell's Defending the Republic website.
There's no way Georgia legitimately elected Joe BidenGeorgia is in a whole lot of hot water right now on numerous fronts. Gov. Brian Kemp (R), we
recently learned, is complicit in a massive Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) money laundering scheme along with California Gov. Gavin Newsom.Georgia Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger (R) also made himself
a target by conducting a fraudulent "recount" and "audit" of the state's election ballots, reproducing the same fake results as the first time they were counted.Georgia is a mess, in other words, and that mess seems to be getting worse by the day. The state would seem to be full of deep state traitors, many of them "Republicans," whose evil deeds are finally now coming to light.Georgia not only conducted a fraudulent election, but it also helped promulgate lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to sell more masks and other "personal protective equipment" (PPE). The devil really has come down to Georgia, it would appear."There was a water main break! (OK, there wasn't)," wrote one commenter at
The Gateway Pundit about Georgia's lies. "Dominion machines can't be connected to the internet! (OK, they can). "Republican observers were not removed! (OK, they were). Joe Biden won the election! (OK, no he didn't). See the pattern?"Another called on patriots everywhere to pray for the allegations of Democrat vote fraud to receive a fair trial."This may be the last chance to defeat Democrat vote fraud peacefully," this same commenter added, noting that the time to stop the steal is now.More of the latest news about election fraud can be found at
Sources for this article include:TheGatewayPundit.comNaturalNews.comNaturalNews.comDefendingtheRepublic.orgNaturalNews.com
Merkel Orders Germany Into Hard Lockdown as Infections Swell - Bloomberg
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:21
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Boris Johnson tells shops to stockpile, no-deal Brexit deadline looms - Business Insider
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 12:20
Getty UK supermarkets have been told to stockpile food and essential goods as Britain heads towards a no-deal Brexit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to talk with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday to decide whether their trade talks have a future. Johnson said on Friday that it was "very, very likely" talks would fail. British ports are already experiencing congestion and delays due to stockpiling ahead of a no-deal Brexit. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Boris Johnson's government has told UK supermarkets to start stockpiling food and other essential goods with just hours to go until the EU's deadline for a Brexit trade deal.
The UK Prime Minister is due to speak with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday lunchtime when they will decide whether or not a deal is feasible before Britain is due to leave EU trading rules on December 31.
On Friday, Johnson said it was "very, very likely" that Britain would fail to strike a trade deal before January.
As negotiations continued over the weekend, ministers in Johnson's government have told UK supermarkets to start stockpiling goods due to expected shortages caused by a no-deal Brexit, the Sunday Times reported.
"There was a conversation a week ago when ministers said prepare for no-deal. This weekend the message is that it's no-deal," a senior consultant to one of the biggest supermarkets told the paper.
The UK could experience shortages of vegetables and other goods it sources heavily from Europe for months to come, the Sunday Times reported, with prices for consumers likely to soar due to newly-imposed EU tariffs.
UK shops are already experiencing shortages and delays due to congestion at ports caused by Brexit stockpiling.
Representatives from the UK toy industry told Business Insider this week that many popular children's toys will be unavailable to consumers this Christmas because of the delays.
The British Retail Consortium's Andrew Opie told Insider that at some ports, "we have seen a huge surge in demand for space which has created delays and hundreds of thousands of pounds in congestion charges for unloading goods."
"Retailers now face higher costs than ever before, with some seeing 25% week-on-week rises for shipping.
"While these rates continue to rise, and the disruption at ports and in shipping continues, retailers face significant challenges with the import of some items ahead of Christmas."
Asked if there would be shortages of medicines and other essential supplies, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that the National Health Service was stockpiling but added that "there may be shifts" in supplies.
However, he insisted that reports of shortages in supermarkets would not come to pass.
"We're not going to see shelves running bare or any of the scaremongering stories we've heard," Raab told Times Radio.
Getty British ports and freight companies are already reporting long delays and tailbacks on either side of the English Channel due to companies stockpiling supplies ahead of Britain's exit from the Brexit transition period.The disruption is due to hit the UK economy hard after a year of economic pain triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson's government is preparing to spend billions on propping up UK industries in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Sunday Telegraph reports.
Farming, fishing, and car manufacturers are expected to be especially badly hit by Britain's sudden exit from the European single market.
Both sides remain gloomy about prospects of a breakthrough in talks on Sunday.
A senior UK government source said 0n Saturday evening that "talks continue in Brussels, but remain very difficult."
They added: "The Prime Minister's position remains the same: any deal must be fair and respect the principles of sovereignty and control."
Dominic Raab told the BBC that there was a "very high bar" for talks to continue beyond Sunday.
"What really matters is the political will," Raab told The Andrew Marr Show, adding that the EU needed to make a significant shift on the issues of fishing rights and the terms of the UK's access to the European single market.
Ireland's Taoiseach Michael Martin told Marr that both the UK and EU need to make a deal.
"A no-deal would be very bad news for all of us," he said
"It would be an appalling failure of statecraft if we are not able to get a deal over the line."
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Another Billionaire Wall Street Legend Has Changed His Tune On Bitcoin
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 05:44
Dec 12, 2020, 05:40am EST | | 2,875 views
Billy Bambrough Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. I write about how bitcoin, crypto and blockchain can change the world.
Bitcoin's reputation as digital gold has surged this year, helped by the contrast created through huge central bank money printing intended to offset the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The bitcoin price, currently bouncing around $18,000 per bitcoin, has climbed back to its late-2017 all-time highs'--up more than double from January.
Now, after warning last month that bitcoin could soon be ''outlawed,'' Ray Dalio, the legendary billionaire founder and co-chairman of the world's biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, has admitted bitcoin's now established itself as a ''gold-like asset alternative.''
MORE FROM FORBES Why 2021 Is Set To Be Even Bigger For Bitcoin By Billy Bambrough banks on Wall Street and high-profile investors increasingly look to bitcoin as an alternative to gold.
AFP via Getty Images
''I think that bitcoin (and some other digital currencies) have over the last ten years established themselves as interesting gold-like asset alternatives, with similarities and differences to gold and other limited-supply, mobile (unlike real estate) storeholds of wealth,'' Dalio posted to social news website Reddit in response to a question asking whether bitcoin could help combat the U.S. wealth inequality that may have been exacerbated by central bank stimulus measures.
Dalio, who famously branded bitcoin a ''bubble'' in 2017, appears to have changed his mind on whether bitcoin can act as a store of value.
''[Bitcoin's] not an effective storehold of wealth because it has volatility to it, unlike gold,'' Dalio said in a September 2017 CNBC interview, just before bitcoin's huge end of year boom and subsequent bust. The bitcoin price soared to around $20,000 in late 2017 after beginning the year at under $1,000. The price crashed back to around $3,000 in 2018.
Dalio, posting in a Reddit so-called ''ask me anything'' Q&A session this week, advised investors to diversify their portfolios with assets that are ''limited supply, that are mobile, and that are storeholds of wealth,'' adding: ''Not enough people do that.''
''As [for] bitcoin relative to gold, I have a strong preference for holding those things which central banks are going to want to hold and exchange value in when they are trying to transact,'' Dalio wrote.
MORE FROM FORBES Another Crypto Skeptic Suddenly Flips To Bitcoin-But Adds A Stark Warning By Billy Bambrough 12 months, climbing back to its late-2017 all-time highs of around $20,000 per bitcoin.
As recently as January of this year, Dalio was still unconvinced of bitcoin's ability to act as a store of value.
''There's two purposes of money, a medium of exchange and a storehold of wealth, and bitcoin is not effective in either of those cases now,'' he said, speaking at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switerzland.
Last month, there were signs Dalio might be softening his stance on bitcoin, posting to Twitter that he ''might be missing something about bitcoin.''
''I can't imagine central banks, big institutional investors, businesses or multinational companies using it,'' Dalio added via Twitter. ''If I'm wrong about these things I would love to be corrected.''
Since then, U.S. business intelligence firm MicroStrategy MSTR has increased it bitcoin holdings to over $1 billion and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance has bought $100 million of bitcoin for its general investment account.
Dalio, who's thought to have a personal fortune of almost $17 billion, according to Forbes estimates, is the latest big-name investor to name bitcoin as a potential investment.
Wall Street legend Bill Miller said he ''strongly'' recommends bitcoin in November, shortly followed by billionaire U.S. investor Stanley Druckenmiller, who revealed he now owns some bitcoin'--saying he's ''warmed up to'' the cryptocurrency as a store of value.
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Twitter. I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world. As the founding editor of Verdict.co.uk I reported
'... Read More I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world. As the founding editor of Verdict.co.uk I reported on how technology is changing business, political trends, and the latest culture and lifestyle. I have covered the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrency since 2012 and have charted its emergence as a niche technology into the greatest threat to the established financial system the world has ever seen and the most important new technology since the internet itself. I have worked and written for CityAM, the Financial Times, and the New Statesman, amongst others. Follow me on Twitter @billybambrough or email me on billyATbillybambrough.com.Disclosure: I occasionally hold some small amount of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
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It's Official: Crypto on Front Page of US Tax Return - Decrypt
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 05:13
Back in August, the IRS released a draft of Form 1040 '--its individual income tax return'--for the tax year 2020, which moved a crucial question about cryptocurrency right to the top of the first page. And with the release of the 2020 Form 1040 on the IRS's website, that change has been made official.
There was no announcement, but cached versions of the IRS's Form 1040 landing page show that the site was directing visitors to the 2019 version of the form as recently as December 10.
When US taxpayers filing as individuals confront their 2020 income taxes, they'll now be asked, ''At any time during 2020, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?''
The change marks a significant update from last year's individual income tax form, which only included the crypto question on Schedule 1, a 1040 supplement that taxpayers have to request separately. This year, though, all US taxpayers must disclose their crypto transactions.
Shehan Chandrasekara, a tax expert at the software company CoinTracker, told Decrypt that the new placement of the question ''shows how seriously the IRS is looking into the crypto tax reporting issues going forward.''
Conveniently for long-term crypto holders, simply hanging onto your crypto doesn't actually count as ''receiv[ing], sell[ing], send[ing], exchang[ing], or otherwise acquir[ing'' virtual currency, according to IRS guidelines.
A revised draft of Form 1040, released in October, contained explanatory language about what might be sufficient reason for taxpayers to check the ''yes'' box: examples included ''a sale of virtual currency,'' and ''the receipt or transfer of virtual currency for free (without providing any consideration), including from an air-drop or hard fork.''
The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.
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Ghislaine Maxwell to offer $30M bail, admit she's married: reports
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 05:11
By Lia Eustachewich
December 11, 2020 | 11:15am
Ghislaine Maxwell will propose a nearly $30 million bail package in hopes of getting sprung from a Brooklyn lockup '-- and will finally admit she's a married woman, according to reports.
The accused Jeffrey Epstein madam is expected to go to court in the coming days in a bid to be freed before Christmas, the Telegraph first reported.
Roughly $25 million of the hefty package will be backed by Maxwell's rumored husband, tech CEO Scott Borgerson '-- whose identity the British heiress refused to reveal at an initial bail hearing over the summer.
The upcoming bail application will be the first time Maxwell will publicly acknowledge she is married, ABC News reported.
Friends told the Telegraph that Borgerson is devastated that Maxwell has remained jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since her July arrest on sex abuse charges.
Some $5 million of the bail amount will come from Maxwell's brothers, Kevin and Ian Maxwell.
The 58-year-old daughter of disgraced media titan Robert Maxwell will request to be let out on house arrest and will agree to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, the Telegraph said.
Ghislaine Maxwell Corredor99/ MediaPunch
She will also waive her rights to seek extradition from the UK and France, where she holds citizenship in addition to the US, ABC News reported.
At the July hearing, Manhattan federal Judge Alison Nathan refused to release Maxwell on $5 million bail and home confinement after prosecutors argued that she was purposely cagey about her finances.
Maxwell's lawyers revealed they were ready to ask for bail a second time in a Nov. 25 letter, court papers show.
They requested a closed-door hearing to keep secret the identities of the co-signers of the bond, saying ''they are legitimately afraid if their identities become public, they will be subjected to the same relentless media scrutiny and threats that Ms. Maxwell has experienced for more than a year.''
Maxwell is charged in a six-count indictment with recruiting and grooming girls and young women to be sexually abused by her and Epstein. She has pleaded not guilty.
A courtroom sketch of Ghislaine Maxwell. REUTERSA date for her bail hearing has not yet been set.
Austin's groundbreaking social contract is first of its kind in nation - CultureMap Austin
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 05:01
During its meeting on Thursday, December 10, the Austin City Council issued a groundbreaking directive to the city manager: write a social contract for Austin. The council has tasked City Manager Spencer Cronk to work with the city's Joint Inclusion Committee to write the document, which is to be presented to the council by June 1, 2021.
"A global pandemic and racial unrest have led this nation and communities across the country to an inflection point; and ... despite the polarization playing out on the national stage, the Austin community strives to rise above," reads the resolution.
This resolution is the first of its kind in the nation, according to those who worked on the initiative.
The contract should reflect values shared by the people of Austin, reads the resolution. Those values are outlined as:
Be respectfulListen to understandAct with good intentionsSupport ideas with evidence and experienceDisagree without being disagreeableCritique the idea not the personInvite wonderAustin's social contract would not be a legal document, but rather serve as a "written agreement outlining a community's core values and instructs the direction of laws, regulations, policies, contracts, culture and more."
"The recommendations in this resolution are an important step to give our city a shared compass '-- rooted in equity '-- that leads us toward our north star: A city where everyone can reach their full potential," said David Smith, CEO at United Way for Greater Austin.
Compassion 2020 is part of a nationwide campaign that was spearheaded locally by United Way for Greater Austin and Citizen Discourse, an Austin-based company focused on community development. Leading the effort on the city council was Councilmember Natasha Harper-Madison, who wrote the resolution. Mayor Steve Adler and councilmembers Jimmy Flannigan, Ann Kitchen, and Pio Renteria co-sponsored.
"The historic challenges we've faced in 2020 set in deep relief the drastic inequities that have grown virtually unchecked in Austin," said Harper-Madison in a release. "I'm proud that, as a community, we have united to say, 'Enough is enough.'"
"We know now where we want to go as a city, and the only challenge now is to figure out how to get there," Harper-Madison continued. "You can't spell 'compassionate' without 'compass.'"
Prince Andrew's sex slave alibi blown apart by bombshell report
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 04:47
By Isabel Vincent
December 12, 2020 | 1:40pm
Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell pose for a picture. MediaPunch/BACKGRID
Prince Andrew's alibi that he was at a pizza restaurant with his daughter on the same day he is accused of being with an alleged Jeffrey Epstein sex slave does not hold water, according to a bombshell news report.
But the report in the Daily Mail also found holes in the story of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the woman who claims she was trafficked by convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his former gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell to have sex with the royal in 2001.
No one can apparently corroborate the prince's explanation that he took his daughter, Princess Beatrice, to a Pizza Express restaurant outside London on March 10, 2001, for a party, according to the report. The outlet found Andrew had booked a home manicure on the afternoon he says he dropped the then 12-year-old at the party in Surrey.
Roberts Giuffre claims she had sex with Andrew at Maxwell's London home after a night of clubbing on that date. The prince's royal bodyguard, who accompanied him that evening, is now dead, according to the newspaper.
The Pizza Express alibi prompted widespread ridicule when the prince brought it up during an embarrassing interview with the BBC last year.
Prince Andrew Chris Radburn/ReutersThe Daily Mail report also questioned some of the main tenets of Roberts Giuffre's account of her night with Andrew, in which she claims they had sex in the bathtub of Maxwell's home. The newspaper found the bathtub is too small to accommodate two people.
Prince Andrew has fiercely denied he had sex with Roberts Giuffre.
Brexit: EU offer 'unacceptable' as trade talks continue - BBC News
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 04:44
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen met in Brussels on Wednesday Post-Brexit trade talks have entered their final day with negotiations continuing into the night in a last-ditch effort to make a breakthrough.
Both sides have warned they are unlikely to reach an agreement.
The terms offered by the European Union continue to be "unacceptable" to the UK, according to a government source.
Boris Johnson is expected to speak with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen later - they agreed on the Sunday deadline earlier this week.
The source said: "The prime minister will leave no stone unturned in this process, but he is absolutely clear: any agreement must be fair and respect the fundamental position that the UK will be a sovereign nation in three weeks' time."
What are the sticking points in Brexit trade talks? What are the UK and EU doing to prepare for no deal? What happens if there's no trade deal?The main sticking point in the talks is how close the UK should stick to EU economic rules in the future.
The EU is determined to prevent the UK from gaining what it sees as an unfair advantage of having tariff-free access to its markets, while setting its own standards on products, employment rights and business subsidies.
Fishing rights is another major area of disagreement, with the EU warning that without access to UK waters for EU fleets, UK fishermen will no longer get special access to EU markets to sell their goods.
But the UK argues that what goes on in its own waters, and its wider business rules, should be under its control as a sovereign country.
The government confirmed on Saturday that no-deal preparations had seen Royal Navy vessels prepared to tackle "threats of illegal fishing" in UK waters.
Outlining the steps taken to prepare for all Brexit eventualities, a UK government spokesman said: "We've run live exercises moving fresh produce and fish across the border, and scrambled naval vessels to respond to threats of illegal fishing in our soon-to-be sovereign waters."
The two sides also disagree on whether the European Court of Justice should settle future UK-EU trade disputes.
It is not clear how any decision to abandon the talks will be made public and there is a chance political leaders will decide to continue negotiations beyond Sunday, BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly said.
The basics Brexit happened but rules didn't change at once: The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, but leaders needed time to negotiate a deal for life afterwards - they got 11 months. Talks are happening: The UK and the EU have until 31 December 2020 to agree a trade deal as well as other things, such as fishing rights.If there is no deal: Border checks and taxes will be introduced for goods travelling between the UK and the EU. But deal or no deal, we will still see changes. What happens next with Brexit?
Meanwhile, the National Farmers' Union have warned there will be "significant disruption" to the sector if the UK fails to reach a trade deal with the EU.
The EU is the largest trading partner for British farmers - but without a deal by the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, farmers could lose free access to the bloc "overnight", the union said.
Elsewhere, Labour warned that staffing levels in the government's tax and customs agency had barely been scaled up since the Brexit vote, despite widespread customs changes expected even if the UK is able to secure a deal.
The party said its analysis suggested the number of UK customs officials had been boosted by just 16, despite a pledge from ministers in 2018 to recruit between 3,000 and 5,000 extra officials.
Video caption Johnson: No-deal Brexit now "very, very likely" This weekend's deadline was set by Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, after months of talks failed to achieve an agreement.
Mr Johnson said the EU needed to make a "big change" over the main sticking points on fishing rights and business competition rules, while Mrs von der Leyen said no deal was the most probable end to "difficult" talks.
The EU has rejected Mr Johnson's request to bypass the European Commission and speak directly to French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Angela Merkel about the unresolved issues.
According to EU officials, he was told discussions could only take place through the bloc's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
Speaking on Friday, the PM said a no-deal Brexit was now "very, very likely" and that planning for that outcome was ramping up.
Mrs von der Leyen told reporters that the two sides were still "apart on fundamental issues".
SIMPLE GUIDE: What happens next with Brexit? TRAVEL RULES: How your holidays will change in 2021 NO DEAL: What happens if these talks fail? BREXIT: Seven things that will change on 1 January
Tens of Thousands Rally in Washington to Demand Election Integrity
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 02:48
WASHINGTON'--Tens of thousands of people converged at the Capitol and the Supreme Court on Saturday'--amidst blaring musical horns, red, white, and blue apparel, and waving American flags'--to take part in rallies calling for greater transparency in the 2020 election.
People traveled to Washington from all over the country to show their support for President Donald Trump. Many there expressed that the election process was handled improperly and is fraudulent. Some are optimistic that the tide will turn, including some high-profile supporters.
''Courts do not decide who the next president of the United States will be,'' said former national security adviser Michael Flynn. ''There are paths that are still in play.''
''We are in a crucible moment in the history of the United States of America,'' he added.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected Texas' bid to challenge the 2020 election results in four battleground states. Justices opined that the Lone Star State lacked legal standing'--or capability'--to sue under the Constitution because it has not shown a valid interest to intervene in how other states handle their elections.
''We're only asking to just show us a little transparency,'' said Flynn, who spoke outside the Supreme Court and later at Freedom Plaza. ''Why not recount? Why not look at the signatures, Why not look inside these [voting] machines. Why not? what are they afraid of?''
Flynn called himself a ''product of an unjust system'' and said the current battle for the election ''is about the fabric of the constitution of the United States of America.''
Trump on Nov. 25 pardoned Flynn after a yearslong case relating to the Russia investigation. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about speaking to a Russian diplomat during Trump's 2016 transition period. But Flynn, a retired three-star general, withdrew his plea before sentencing.
Different events, marches, and rallies took place throughout the day, starting from 9:30 a.m. Participants often shouted ''Stop the Steal,'' a common slogan among Trump supporters, and also the name of some of the grassroots movement organizing the event.
The barrage of rallies came before the Dec. 14 deadline for the Electoral College vote.
At around noon, Trump flew over Freedom Plaza in Marine One as he headed north to West Point to attend the annual Army-Navy game.
''Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn't know about this, but I'll be seeing them!'' Trump said in a Twitter post in the morning.
Sebastian Gorka, who served as deputy assistant and strategist to Trump in 2017, said what's at stake is more than just a single election.
''If we don't stop the theft of this election then we will never ever have a free and transparent election again in America,'' he told The Epoch Times. ''There is a rot at the core of American institutions and it's up to us to make a difference.''
Gorka, who spoke at Freedom Plaza, said he believes the state legislatures now play the largest and most significant role.
''The constitution is clear: it's not CNN, it's not governors, it's not the Supreme Court. It is the state Houses in America,'' he said. ''The state Houses cannot certify a clearly fraudulent election.''
Several legal challenges are underway that contest the results of the election. Attorney Lin Wood has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court asking the justices to review his case that argues Georgia's 2020 presidential election was ''unlawful.''
His request to the nation's top court was filed on Tuesday shortly after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a decision to dismiss his case due to the lack of legal standing to bring the case. The Supreme Court docketed Wood's petition for a writ of certiorari'--the request to review the case'--on Friday.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an appeal by the Trump campaign over a challenge to the result of the presidential election recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties.
Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones, a pro-Trump Democrat, urged his colleagues in the state legislature to take a stand.
''They need to support a free, fair, and transparent election,'' Jones told The Epoch Times at Freedom Plaza. ''They need to be vocal about it. It's not about certification. It's about rectification.''
Georgia on Dec. 7 re-certified its election results for Democratic nominee Joe Biden following a recount, although Coffee County said it can't certify its results after the second statewide recount because it wasn't able to duplicate the official result on its voting machines.
''I call on the secretary of state [of Georgia] to get it right, and we need to go into a special session as well,'' Jones said.
Mike Lindell, founder and CEO of MyPillow, implored people to stand up and speak out about their concerns about the election.
''We need to get the word out today that this fraud is real,'' Lindell told The Epoch Times at Freedom Plaza.
''We're in a spiritual battle, this country.''
He urged people to not lose hope after the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday, saying there are several other legal cases going ahead aimed at disputing the election results in battleground states. ''Everyone's going to see it. The whole world is going to see it,'' Lindell said, referring to the evidence of election fraud produced in these lawsuits.
Republican Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator who hosted the first public hearing regarding election integrity, told The Epoch Times that his office has heard from thousands of people across Pennsylvania about various election irregularities, such as being denied entry to polling places and being told that they mailed-in a ballot when they didn't.
Mastriano said the Republican Party as a whole needs more courage going forward: ''We're on the side of righteousness, and we need to fight forward politically, and not just roll over.''
But he has faith that the tide is turning.
''We're seeing courage rising. And it's not too late. It's never too late,'' Mastriano said.
With reporting by Charlotte Cuthbertson
Feds Slap Hunter Biden With Subpoena For Foreign Business Records: Report | The Daily Caller
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 02:44
Federal prosecutors subpoenaed Hunter Biden on Tuesday for records for his business dealings with more than two dozen entities, including Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings and companies based in China, the Associated Press reported.
Biden announced on Wednesday through his father's transition team that his attorney had been notified that he was the target of an investigation into his ''tax affairs.''
The younger Biden did not disclose any other details of the investigation in his statement. A source familiar with the probe told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the investigation started in 2018, before Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign.
According to the Associated Press, the subpoena, issued through the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware, seeks records related to Burisma Holdings and Chinese companies that are not named in the report.
Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma Holdings in April 2014, months after his father had taken over as the Obama administration's chief liaison to the Ukrainian government. (RELATED: DOJ Probe Of Hunter Biden Is More Extensive Than He Let On, And Could Involve His Chinese Business Deals)
Burisma executives were at the time seeking to expand the company's business outside of Ukraine. They also hoped to quash various investigations into Burisma's owner, Mykola Zlochevesky, who was under investigation for bribery.
President-elect Joe Biden embraces his son Hunter Biden after addressing the nation from the Chase Center November 07, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)
Burisma paid Hunter Biden and his business partner, Devon Archer, more than $80,000 per month as board members.
Biden also consulted for CEFC China Energy, a major Chinese energy firm whose chairman had suspected links to the People's Liberation Army.
A Senate report released on Sept. 23 revealed that CEFC wired Biden nearly $6 million from August 2017 to September 2018. The report said that U.S. banking regulators flagged some of the wire payments for potential criminal activity.
The Republican senators who released the report said that Biden's financial dealings raised ''criminal financial, counterintelligence and extortion concerns.''
The president-elect has refused to answer questions from reporters about the investigation of his son.
''I'm proud of my son,'' he said Friday when a reporter asked if he believes Hunter Biden had committed any crimes.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.
Saturn, Jupiter to conjoin as 'double planet' for the first time in nearly 1,000 years | Just The News
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 23:40
Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest planets in the Solar System, will conjoin very closely near Christmas this month, putting on an astral show that hasn't been seen on Earth for roughly a millennium.
The two planets on Dec. 21 will appear closer together in the sky than at any time in the last 800 years.
Alignments of the two planets are relatively rare as far as astronomical events go, but the last time Saturn and Jupiter were this close was in March of 1226, Rice University astronomer Patrick Hartigan told the Daily Mail.
Legendary astronomer Johannes Kepler speculated in the 17th century that the ''Star of Bethlehem'' that reportedly guided the Three Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus Christ may have been a similar conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
Evidence Stats on the 2020 Election | Here Is The Evidence
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 23:25
Ballots Touched By Admissible Anomalies
Courts Blocked an Evidentiary Hearing
1. Witnesses in past contested elections
2. The Court or Election Board's response:
FL Presidential 2000:
MO 78th District 2016:
NC 9th District 2018:
NY 22nd District 2020:
GA Presidential 2020:
MI Presidential 2020:
PA Presidential 2020:
FL Presidential 2000:
MO 78th District 2016:
NC 9th District 2018:
NY 22nd District 2020:
GA Presidential 2020:
MI Presidential 2020:
PA Presidential 2020:
4. Witness testimony accounts for upwards of 90% of evidence in evidentiary hearings.
5. No election contest in American history has had 923 citizens stake their personal freedom on sworn testimony to attest to irregularities and legal issues.
6. When an election lawsuit is dismissed, it is blocked from having an evidentiary hearing, thus preventing the evidence from being presented in a court of law.
7. Georgia did have two recounts that used similar procedures to the original count and did not address the legal issues brought by fact witnesses, nor follow the U.S. Election Assistance Commission guidelines.
4. The altered Ballot Integrity Procedures reduced the rate of illegal ballots caught by Officials this election.
5. With the same Ballot Integrity Procedures as 2018, swing states would have found upwards of 30x more illegal ballots.
6. Vice President Biden's margin of victory in 4 swing states appears to rely on the altered Ballot Integrity Procedures these states enacted for this election.
7. Vice President Biden would not maintain his victory in 2 (possibly 4) swing states if the Ballot Integrity Procedures were the same as 2018.
8. A court in Arizon had two handwriting expert witnesses evaluated the signatures on 100 random absentee ballots.
9. The Republican expert witness found 6% of signatures on the 100 ballots where problematic.
10. The Democrat expert witness found 9% of signatures on the 100 ballots where problematic.
11. Vice President Biden would likely not maintain his victory in Arizona if the Ballot Integrity Procedures had caught the estimated problematic ballots.
Biden's Arizona Margin of Victory vs. Estimated Problematic Absentee Ballots
Zodiac Killer cipher is cracked after eluding sleuths for 51 years '' Ars Technica
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 22:50
Enlarge / Composite drawings of the Zodiac Killer.
Getty Images
A coded message sent by a brutal serial killer who has never been caught has been cracked more than 51 years after it was sent.
The male suspect, known as the Zodiac Killer, killed at least five people and attempted to kill at least two more in Northern California in 1968 and 1969. In the first three attacks, he targeted couples. The first two murder victims were high school students who were parked in a car on their first date. In attacks on the other two couples, he managed to kill the women, but the men survived. A male San Francisco cab driver was the last known victim.
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During the murder spree, the Zodiac Killer sent media outlets a series of letters taking credit for the slayings. To prove the authenticity of the claims, the letters included unreleased details and evidence from the crime scenes.
In August 1969, following the murders of three of the five known victims, the Zodiac Killer sent three almost identical letters to three Bay Area newspapers. Each letter also included one-third of a 408-symbol cryptogram that the suspect said would reveal his identity. The killer demanded the papers publish the letters in full or he would kill again.
A week after the letters were sent, a couple in Salinas, California, cracked the cipher. The Zodiac Killer, the plaintext revealed, said he was collecting slaves for the afterlife and that he wouldn't disclose his identity because doing so would interfere with those plans.
In November 1969, after killing the remaining two known victims, the Zodiac Killer sent a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle that included a new puzzle. The cryptogram was known as the Z-340, or simply the 340, because it contained 340 characters in it. The full image of the cryptogram appears below:
Ever since then, both amateur and professional cryptographers, including those working for the FBI, have worked to crack the cipher. It wasn't until this week that an international team solved it.
''The cipher had been unsolved for so long, it had a huge target on its back, and I felt like it was a challenge that had a chance of being solved,'' Dave Oranchak, one of the three men who cracked the encoded message, said by email. ''It was an exciting project to work on, and it was on many people's 'top unsolved ciphers of all time' lists.''
The full text of the cracked cipher reads:
The decoded message squares with much of what is already known about the case. The mention of the TV show and gas chambers refers to a call made to a talk show on KGO-TV a month earlier, in which someone claiming to be the Zodiac Killer said: ''I need help. I'm sick. I don't want to go to the gas chamber.'' In other communications, the killer used the same misspelling for the word ''paradise.'' And of course, there were earlier references to collecting slaves for the afterlife.
The FBI in San Francisco has since confirmed that the team has correctly solved the cryptogram. In a statement issued on Friday, the agency wrote:
The FBI is aware that a cipher attributed to the Zodiac Killer was recently solved by private citizens. The Zodiac Killer case remains an ongoing investigation for the FBI San Francisco division and our local law enforcement partners. The Zodiac Killer terrorized multiple communities across Northern California and even though decades have gone by, we continue to seek justice for the victims of these brutal crimes. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, and out of respect for the victims and their families, we will not be providing further comment at this time.
Oranchak, a 46-year-old software developer in Virginia, said the 340 is what's known as a transposition cipher. Most ciphers used today by computers rely on mathematics to scramble messages. Transposition ciphers, by contrast, are largely relics from the past that use rules to rearrange the characters or groups of characters in the message.
Transposition ciphers rearrange messages in a wide variety of ways. A common way is by rearranging columns of a message. The message in the 340 was probably rearranged by manipulating triangular sections cut from messages written into rectangles. Oranchak and his colleagues developed an app that helped him and his colleagues unravel the puzzle.
In the video below, Oranchak provides a much more detailed explanation of the cipher and how he and his colleagues cracked it.
Let's Crack Zodiac - Episode 5 - The 340 Is Solved!
Oranchak said he has been working on and off on solving the 340 since 2006. The other two men on the team are Sam Blake, an applied mathematician who lives in Australia, and Jarl Van Eycke, a warehouse operator in Belgium. Van Eycke is also the software developer behind the AZdecrypt, a code-breaking app that was inspired by his drive to crack the 340.
Attorney: Michigan Vote Flip Happened Due to Computer Program, Not Human Error
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 21:38
An attorney in a Michigan election case on Friday said that an infamous vote flip happened because of a computer program, not human error.
''Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said it happened by human error. We discovered that's not true, that's a lie. It didn't happen by human error. It happened by a computer program called Dominion Voting System[s],'' Matthew DePerno said on Newsmax.
DePerno is representing plaintiff William Bailey in a lawsuit against Antrim County. Bailey noted that the county initially reported Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden winning the county by more than 2,000 votes over President Donald Trump, but later changed the results to show Trump received nearly 4,000 more votes than Biden.
Officials claimed what happened was due to a human error, after initially suggesting it was in part because of a software issue.
DePerno said that through the lawsuit, his team was able to get access to the Dominion Voting Systems program. They went earlier this month and retrieved 16 thumb drives and 16 data cards, as well as the forensic image of the actual tabulation machine in the Antrim County clerk office.
''My team has been running analysis through that forensic image since Sunday,'' he said.
A judge last week ordered Antrim County to preserve and protect all records regarding vote tabulation, to not turn on the Dominion tabulator, and to not connect the tabulator to the Internet. He also ruled that the plaintiff could take forensic images from the tabulator and investigate the image, thumb drives, and software.
DePerno on Friday filed an emergency motion with the Antrim County Circuit Court, asking them to lift a protective order so that his team can release the results of the forensic examination to the public.
Benson's office didn't respond to a request for comment. DePerno didn't respond to a request for more information. Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy declined to comment.
The office of Benson, a Democrat, released a statement earlier this week urging voters to ''be wary of false claims.''
''On Sunday, individuals with no apparent technical expertise in election technology were permitted to gather images of Dominion voting equipment in Antrim County. While the information they gathered is subject to a court-issued protective order, the Michigan Department of State warns voters to be wary of the claims that the group may make in coming days. Members of the group have previously made false statements, shared fake documents, and made baseless claims about the election that have been widely debunked and rejected in multiple courts,'' the office stated, without sharing any examples.
In a separate statement, a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said no information regarding the inspection of Dominion machines has been made available to Nessel or Benson.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks in Detroit, Mich., on Aug. 18, 2020. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)Dominion, a producer of election equipment and software, has said what happened in Antrim County ''was due to user error.'' Dominion offered this week to testify before the Michigan state Senate about its operations and machines.
The examination in Antrim County has been hyped by President Donald Trump's lawyers, who have traveled around the country testifying about election irregularities and presenting experts to back up their allegations.
''This is really important '... because we have an independent team that is there that has gotten all of this imaging, and they spent about eight hours yesterday doing that forensic audit,'' Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis said this week.
Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, who is overseeing the case, ruled Thursday that Benson could intervene. Benson argued that she had supervisory control over the Antrim County election clerk's office, saying that she had an interest in any audits being done.
Assistant Attorney General Heather Meingast told The Detroit News that the imaging was done by the Allied Security Operations Group and a resident of the Village of Central Lake. Allied, based in Washington, didn't respond to a query.
''We'd like to know more about what was obtained, what the intent is for the use of the images obtained,'' Meingast said.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.
Lawyer to judge: Release results of voting equipment exam in Antrim
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 21:19
LANSING '-- A judge is expected to hold a hearing Monday morning on a lawyer's request to lift a protective order shielding the results of a court-ordered examination of voting equipment in Antrim County '-- a county that President Donald Trump easily won, but where his legal team is alleging irregularities.
Portage attorney Matthew DePerno filed an emergency motion Friday with 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer, claiming he has "received initial preliminary results which are important for the public, the U.S. government and the Michigan Legislature to review and understand," and are "an issue of national security."
It's the latest bizarre twist in a saga that began with an election night error in how the county compiled and reported its unofficial election results. County Clerk Sheryl Guy, a Republican, has claimed responsibility for an error that resulted in Democrat Joe Biden initially appearing to have won the northern Michigan County.
State and county officials and an election security expert from the University of Michigan have all said the Dominion Voting Systems tabulators and related election software in Antrim functioned the way it should have. But Guy made a mistake when she updated ballot information in Antrim after learning the name of a candidate in one township had been omitted. Because she only updated information in the one affected township, instead of updating the information in all precincts across the county, there was a mismatch when results from various precincts were combined to compile the unofficial results, causing numbers to be transposed and reported inaccurately, officials have said.
The results were corrected during the county canvass, conducted by two Republican and two Democratic board members, and the official county results show Trump defeating Biden by nearly 4,000 votes, with just over 16,000 votes cast for president.
But DePerno, who has said he is not working for but is "happy to cooperate" with the Trump campaign, has claimed in court filings that the tabulators are compromised.
Deperno's client, county resident William Bailey, cited the initial reporting errors when he filed his lawsuit Nov. 23. But in agreeing to allow "forensic imaging" of 22 Dominion voting machines in a Dec. 4 order, Elsenheimer cited a close result in a village proposal to allow a marijuana dispensary. Bailey alleged that three ballots were damaged during the county's retabulation, resulting in the proposal passing by one vote, rather than being defeated in a tie vote, the order said.
When he issued the order, Elsenheimer included a protective order "restricting use, distribution or manipulation of the forensic images and/or other information gleaned" without first getting his approval.
It is that order that DePerno now wants lifted.
More:State of Michigan moves to intervene in Antrim County lawsuit alleging voter fraud
More:Trump attorney: 'Our team' examining Antrim voting equipment after judge issued order
The Trump campaign, after a series of court setbacks in Michigan and other battleground states around the nation, is running out of judicial options to discredit or seek to overturn the Nov. 3 election, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear a case brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes.
Despite that, DePerno said in an interview with Newsmax Friday that he has contacted Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, and asked him to have the Legislature approve a Republican slate of Michigan electors, "based on what we think we have found," in Antrim.
The Electoral College is set to convene Monday at the Capitol in Lansing and at state capitals around the country.
The examination of the Antrim voting equipment was conducted Sunday by a team from Allied Security Operations Group, a Dallas-area cybersecurity firm whose representatives have put forward inaccurate and flawed testimony and analyses in support of lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign and its allies.
Russell James Ramsland Jr., a cybersecurity analyst and former Republican congressional candidate who is identified in multiple media reports as an officer of ASOG, swore an inaccurate affidavit in at least one such case and gave flawed analyses of voter turnout in the Nov. 3 election.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Joshua Merritt, a witness code-named "Spyder" in court filings submitted by former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, is not a military "electronic intelligence analyst," as described in court filings, but a veteran who only worked as a student trainee with the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion; he spent the bulk of his decade in the U.S. Army as a wheeled vehicle mechanic, and said he became involved in the Powell litigation through Ramsland. In 2017, Merritt joined ASOG, where Ramsland says he is part of the management team, according to The Post.
Elsenheimer allowed Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to intervene in the Antrim case Thursday, through the Attorney General's Office.
"What we know, and has been previously explained on numerous occasions, is that a human error by the Antrim County clerk prompted results to be reported incorrectly," said Benson spokesman Jake Rollow. "Reporting errors are common, have no impact on tabulation, and are always caught and corrected in the county canvass if not before, as was the case in Antrim County."
Representatives of Dominion, whose equipment is used in most Michigan counties and in states around the nation, have agreed to testify before the Michigan Legislature Tuesday or Wednesday.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.
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Trump's Legal Team Considering Alternate Options After Supreme Court Rejects Texas Election Suit
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 21:00
Attorneys on President Donald Trump's legal team, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, shared on Friday that the team is considering filing separate lawsuits to district courts in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of a lawsuit from Texas to challenge the 2020 election results in four battleground states. The two attorneys also called for courage from the courts to allow hearings on the lawsuits.
Justices on the nation's highest court late Friday denied the Lone Star state's request to sue Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. They opined that Texas lacked legal standing'--or capability'--to sue under the Constitution because it has not shown a valid interest to intervene in how other states handle their elections.
In an interview with Newsmax, Giuliani called the court's decision a ''terrible terrible mistake.''
''Basically the courts are saying they want to stay out of this, they don't want to give us a hearing, they don't want the American people to hear the facts,'' the former New York City mayor said. ''These facts will remain an open sore in our history unless they get resolved. They need to be heard they need to be aired and somebody needs to make a decision on whether they're true or false. And some courts are going to have to have the courage to make that decision.''
''The case wasn't rejected on the merits the case was rejected on standing,'' Giuliani said. ''The answer to that is to bring the case now to the district court by the president by some of electors alleging the same facts where there would be standing and therefore get a hearing.''
''There's nothing that prevents us from filing these cases immediately in the district court, in which the president would have standing,'' he continued. ''Some of the electors would have standing in that their constitutional rights have been violated.''
President Donald Trump lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Nov. 19, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)Ellis, a Trump campaign senior legal adviser, told Newsmax that there is still a ''line of attack.''
''The mayor said that we've contemplated filing this as separate lawsuit in district court because obviously the president himself would have standing. It's amazing to think that these other states, these voters who are disenfranchised, wouldn't,'' she said.
She signaled that the team still has time up until Jan. 6 when Congress officially counts the Electoral College votes.
''That date in January. That's the date of ultimate significance. And the Supreme Court has recognized that,'' she said. ''We still have time, the state legislatures still have time to do the right thing. They can inquire, they can hold hearings, they can reclaim their delegates, and they should and I hope that now all of the evidence we have brought forth in these hearings will give them the inspiration and courage that they need to act.''
President Donald Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis speaks to media while flanked by Trump lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (L) and attorney Sidney Powell, at a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Nov. 19, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)Ellis said that what has transpired is ''a moral failure'' across all three branches of government.
''First you have the executive branch. The problem there is that they changed the rules. We know that, we have the clear evidence that shows that,'' she said. ''Then the state legislators'--there are significant number of them in the swing states that want to do the right thing, they want to exercise their Article II authority, but it's been leadership that's refusing to do the constitutionally appropriate thing.''
She called the Supreme Court's decision one that appears to be ''on a political whim.''
''How they could pass on this I think is shocking. I think it's morally outrageous,'' she said.
''I think that regardless of the outcome here we're going to continue to do the right thing,'' Ellis added. ''President Trump is courageous, he is standing for truth, the Constitution, election integrity, and it is always a fight that is worth fighting.''
Giuliani stressed the need for the courts to hear evidence filed by lawsuits challenging election results.
''These facts need to be heard,'' he said. ''Because this kind of voter fraud can continue to go on if it is not nipped in the bud. If we don't stand up to it, if we allow the big media, the big tech, the Democrat politicians, and the Washington elite'--if we allow them to roll over this, it's going to get worse and worse and worse.
''This is the worst in our history so far, and it's got to be stopped. And I think the only person who has the courage to stand up to it is Donald Trump. We're not finished, believe me.''
Texas's suit filed on Dec. 8 alleged that the defendant states of Georgia, Michigan ,Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, had illegally changed election laws in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Electors Clause, which allegedly resulted in voting irregularities and opened up the potential for fraud due to ballot integrity protections under state law having been removed.
The president has a number of ongoing legal challenges in state and federal courts, some of which are making their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Several lawsuits filed by third parties and attorney Sidney Powell are also proceeding through the judicial system.
Democrat Joe Biden has declared victory in the presidential election and media outlets have been referring to him as ''president-elect.'' The Epoch Times won't declare a winner of the 2020 presidential election until all results are certified and any legal challenges are resolved.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.
The association between statewide vaping prevalence and COVID-19 - ScienceDirect
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 20:25
Highlights'Statewide vaping prevalence was significantly associated with COVID-19 cases on a state level.
'Statewide vaping prevalence was significantly associated with COVID-19 death on a state level.
'This study emphasizes the importance of studying the susceptibility of current vapers to COVID-19 cases and death.
AbstractExisting literature indicated electronic cigarette users (vapers) have impaired immune response that might increase vulnerability to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and death. However, whether vapers are more susceptible to COVID-19 is unknown.
Using integrated data in each US state from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), United States Census Bureau and the 1Point3Acres.com website, generalized estimating equation (GEE) models with negative binomial distribution assumption and log link functions were used to examine the association of statewide e-cigarette use prevalence with number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the US on a state level from January 21, 2020 to April 25, 2020.
The weighted proportion of vapers who used e-cigarettes every day or some days ranged from 2.86% to 6.42% for US states. Statistically significant associations were observed between the weighted proportion of vapers and number of COVID-19 cases as well as COVID-19 deaths in the US after adjusting for the weighted proportion of smokers and other significant covariates in the GEE models. With every one percent increase in weighted proportion of vapers in each state, the number of COVID-19 cases increase by 0.3139 (95% CI: 0.0554''0.5723) and the number of COVID-19 deaths increase by 0.3730 (95% CI: 0.0815''0.6646) in log scale in each US state.
The positive associations between the proportion of vapers and the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in each US state in this ecological study suggest an increased susceptibility of vapers to COVID-19 on a state level and warrants further investigation.
View Abstract (C) 2020 Published by Elsevier Inc.
Researchers Find Nationwide Links Between Vaping and COVID-19 | URMC Newsroom
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 20:23
States with more vapers had larger numbers of daily coronavirus cases and deaths in the early weeks of the pandemic '-- with New York state as a hot spot, according to an analysis by the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Led by Dongmei Li, Ph.D., an expert in biostatistics at URMC, the study adds to growing national data that links vaping and the coronavirus. Although the current analysis does not provide a direct cause-and-effect between the two, it raises more concerns about vaping, which has also been linked to outbreaks of other illnesses and deaths from the chemicals in vaping products.
The journal Preventive Medicine Reports published Li's findings.
''As the country comes to grips with behaviors that may raise or lower risks of contracting COVID-19,'' Li said, ''our study supports the possibility that vaping increases the risk.''
Li and her team analyzed integrated population data in each U.S. state from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS annually surveys about 400,000 Americans on health habits and risks. For this project, researchers focused on vaping data. They also gathered coronavirus cases and deaths from CDC data and other reliable sources, and then used statistical models to examine the prevalence of e-cigarette use and coronavirus infections from Jan. 21, 2020 to April 25, 2020.
The study also found that less education played a role in the number of infections. States with a higher proportion of residents without a high school degree, for example, had higher coronavirus death rates.
New York state was at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic early in 2020. Li's study showed that the prevalence of vaping in New York was nearly 5 percent of the population, and the coronavirus incidence rate was nearly 148 per 10,000 people '-- much higher than many other states in the U.S.
Vaping might also be a means of spreading the coronavirus, Li suggested.
Droplets of virus can escape through the e-cigarette aerosols, or individuals may spread an infection through saliva when they share vaping devices. Contact tracers in Indiana, for example, discovered that several Purdue University students were infected after sharing vaping devices. Locally, Li said, it's possible that high school and college students who vape may be at higher risk of infecting themselves and others.
A flurry of other recent studies has warned of the dangers of vaping during the pandemic. For example, the URMC and others reported that vapers and smokers seem to have an abundance of a protein receptor known as ACE2 that acts as a gateway to the virus; and that teenagers and young adults who vape are at substantial risk of coronavirus. Li also recently published a study in the journal PLoS One, showing a link between vaping and cognitive complaints, such as difficulty concentrating and making decisions, in U.S. adults.
Li's vaping and coronavirus study is co-authored by Daniel Croft, M.D., Deborah Ossip, Ph.D., and Zidian Xie, Ph.D., and was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products. Li is an associate professor of Clinical and Translational Research at the UR Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
EXCLUSIVE: Biden Cabinet Picks Welcomed Chinese Communist Conference for Group Boasting 'Private Briefings' With U.S. Officials
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 20:11
The Committee of 100 '' which hosts conferences alongside the Chinese Communist Party and has been praised by Xi Jinping '' boasts of ''private briefings'' with U.S. government officials and involvement from U.S. politicians including nominated Biden administration cabinet secretaries and advisers.The group, the brainchild of noted Chinese Communist Party appeaser Henry Kissinger, routinely holds conferences to boost political and economic ties between China and the U.S.
The Committee of 100, however, appears to leverage its membership, which consists of prominent Chinese and American nationals, to connect Americans with the Chinese Communist Party.
Prominently displayed on the group's ''mission and history'' page are pictures of group members posing with current and former leaders of the Chinese Communist Party including Xi Jinping:
From the Committee of 100 websiteThe current leader of the Chinese Communist Party praised the group's efforts in 2015, describing the committee along with other members of the pro-China lobby as ''friendly'' towards the Chinese Communist Party and deserving of his ''heartfelt gratitude'':
As a Chinese saying goes, the fire burns high when everyone brings wood to it. It is the loving care and hard work of the national governments, local authorities, friendly organizations and people from all walks of life in both countries that have made China-US relations flourish. In particular, the National Committee on US-China Relations, the US-China Business Council, the US-China Policy Foundation, the US Chamber of Commerce, the China General Chamber of Commerce-USA, the Committee of 100, the Brookings Institution and many other friendly groups and individuals have made untiring efforts over the years to promote friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries and brought the relationship to this far. Let me pay high tribute and express my heartfelt gratitude to all the local governments, social organizations, universities, think tanks and people from all sectors of society who have dedicated themselves to the cause of China-US friendship.
In addition to conferences, often featuring high-level Chinese government officials, the group also conducts ''private briefings on Capitol Hill on important U.S.-China topics'':
Since April 2015 C100 has organized 6 private educational briefings on Capitol Hill on important U.S.-China topics, engaging nearly 300 congressional participants in the nation's capital, including current members of Congress, former members of Congress, members of the diplomatic community, and senior congressional staff in both the House and the Senate. ['...] The long-term goal is to build a consistent and systematic presence on Capitol Hill and enhance C100's long-term capacity to engage with leading policymakers on issues critical to our dual mission.
The Committee of 100 has also seen its members visit China to attend ''private meetings with several prominent Chinese leaders'' such as Chinese Culture Minister Cai Wu.
The group leads ''annual delegations from the U.S. to meet with top political and business leaders in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei,'' and has held meetings with top tier Chinese Communist leadership.
The organization's most recent conference, which featured former Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Zhaoxing Li and Ambassador to the U.S. Wenzhong Zhou, saw speakers argue for closer ties between the two countries. Speakers emphasized how ''decoupling is not a sustainable direction'' and that the U.S. and China need to ''work with each other.''
In the same year, responding to an abundance of Department of Justice (DOJ) indictments against Chinese Communist Party-linked researchers swiping intellectual property and failing to disclose their foreign ties, the committee held a summit on ''the challenges facing Chinese American Researchers'' undermining the DOJ's findings.
CA Rep. Ted. Lieu speaking on panel.''With rising concerns of Chinese espionage in the United States and escalating tensions between the U.S. and China, Chinese Americans, especially those in science and research, have felt increasingly scrutinized by employers, colleagues, and prosecutors. These issues have had a chilling impact, not only on individual scientists and researchers, but also on universities, research institutions, and businesses,'' a summary noted.
Judy Chu, who has been repeatedly pictured with a recently-exposed Chinese Communist Party intelligence operative, spoke at the event along with Adam Schiff.
Conference promo material.Another 2019 event counted Joe Biden adviser Lawrence Summers as the opening keynote speaker along with Max Baucus, an Obama-era China Ambassador and close Biden friend exposed by The National Pulse for leveraging his credentials to consult on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party-owned Bank of China also served as a sponsor of the event.
Baucus pictured at conference.In 2016, the conference, which counted Chinese state-run media outlet China Daily as a sponsor, boasted of its ''support'' from representatives including Biden's Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, two representatives targeted by a Chinese spy as recently revealed by Axios, and Chinese Communist Party officials.
Becerra's lauding letter to the conference.Among other ''participating organizations'' at the conference were additional Chinese state-run media outlets such as CCTV America, Xinhua, and People's Daily as well as Obama's Department of Commerce and Alibaba. Never Trump Republicans such as Cory Gardner and Mark Kirk also offered support for the event.
Alibaba praising conference.The 2015 conference featured similar sponsors along with official branches of the Chinese government including the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States and the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Shanghai Municipal People's Government. Another sponsor was China-based Wanxiang, a firm with a long track record of corruption, frequently adding connected individuals to its rolodex, as Peter Schweizer points out in Secret Empires:
It has also collected powerful political friends on both sides of the aisle, by putting them and their family members on the payroll. Along the way, it has skated past federal regulations and avoided sanctions for doing business in North Korea that have plagued other companies. It offers a powerful illustration of how politically connected firms make members of the American political class wealthy while getting special treatment in the United States.
The latest revelations will add fuel to the already raging concerns in Washington, D.C. that Joe Biden's team and the wider Democratic Party are compromised by leading Chinese Communist Party members.
NJ Rep. Pascrell tells Pelosi not to seat Republican House members who signed Texas election lawsuit
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 19:42
NEW YORK '-- New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell believes the Supreme Court rejecting a Texas lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 election in four battleground states Friday is not enough for the Republican members and members-elect of Congress.
Pascrell, who serves the Garden State's 9th District (parts of Bergen and Passaic counties), wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren saying that she should refuse to seat 126 Republicans who effectively endorsed the suit.
"I'm demanding that the 126 Republicans who have endorsed a malignant lawsuit to overturn the will of the people and undermine our democracy not be seated in Congress," Pascrell said in a statement Friday.
You can read the entire letter here.
Pascrell cites Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution in the letter, which "gives each chamber of Congress the ultimate authority to decide their membership."
"Stated simply, men and women who would act to tear the United States government apart cannot serve as members of Congress," Pascrell writes, adding that they were attempting to make President Trump "an unelected dictator" by endorsing the lawsuit.
The Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit backed by President Donald Trump to overturn Joe Biden's election victory, ending a desperate attempt to get legal issues rejected by state and federal judges before the nation's highest court and subvert the will of voters Friday.
The high court's order was a stark repudiation of a legal claim that was widely regarded as dubious, yet embraced by the president, 19 Republican state attorneys general and 126 House Republicans.
Trump had insisted the court would find the ''wisdom'' and ''courage'' to adopt his baseless position that the election was the product of widespread fraud and should be overturned.
But the nation's highest court emphatically disagreed.
Stark County to get new Dominion voting machines.
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 19:38
CANTON After about three years of shopping around for new voting machines, the Stark County Board of Elections finally found a deal that it likes.
And the machines will work very similarly to the touch screen machines many Stark County voters have become accustomed to using the past 15 years.
Voters are expected to start using the machines in the May 4, 2021 primary.
"You put the card in the bottom versus the side. It's very similar," said Regine Johnson, the deputy director of the Stark County Board of Elections. "It looks slightly different. The legs are slightly different. The way the paper trail is shown is slightly different. So there will be things that people have to get used to. But it's not a huge change."
Following the recommendation of staff, the board voted 4-0 Wednesday afternoon to purchase 1,450 Dominion ImageCast X Kit Prime VVPAT touch screen voting machines that each cost $3,500, four high-speed $25,000 optical ballot scanners with more memory capacity, $11,560 ballot printers, a $17,000 server that tabulates votes and a long list of other election equipment. The optical ballot scanners are used to scan absentee mail ballots, provisional ballots and ballots cast at polling locations by voters who don't want to use touch-screen machines.
The total cost of the equipment is $6.45 million.
However, the Stark County commissioners will only have to pick up $1.47 million of the cost.
"It's an extraordinarily good deal," said Johnson.
The state is covering $3.27 million of the cost as part of a state program to help counties upgrade their voting machines. The deadline to purchase the equipment and get the state funding was the end of next year. The vendor Dominion Voting Systems also is offering a trade-in credit of $1.71 million. The Stark County of Elections will turn over to Dominion its 15-year-old touch-screen voting machines, which originally were sold in 2005 by what was Diebold-Accuvote-TSX machines. Diebold later spun off its voting machine unit, and Dominion later bought the assets.
Secrest said one main difference is the new machines use encrypted USB flash drives while the old TSX machines used memory cards.
Fifteen-year-old machines
The old voting machines the county has aren't the original ones it purchased and debuted in 2005. Many of those machines, purchased for $3.9 million in 2005 with federal funds, were permanently damaged when the roof at the Board of Elections former downtown Canton location collapsed during an April 2013 rainstorm. The board rented and then bought refurbished 2005 models to replace all of the old ones. The cost before insurance proceeds and a rental credit was $840,000.
Travis Secrest, an administration assistant for the Stark County Board of Elections, said the board had to purchase new machines. Board staff were having a more difficult time finding replacement parts for the old machines. And they were no longer covered by a warranty or updated software support.
Secrest said the new machines will come with a warranty. The board chose to stick with touchscreen machines because voters, poll workers and board staff were used to them.
And Johnson said the quoted price includes Dominion providing for training of staff in how to use the new machines.
The alternatives were voters filling out optical scan ballots by filling bubbles with pens and then inserting the ballot into a machine, or making selections on a touchscreen, pressing a button to print the ballot and then inserting that ballot into another machine so it could be scanned. Other companies' touch screen voting machines cost more and the companies were not offering a trade-in credit, Secrest said.
Johnson said voting with touchscreen machines is faster than other types of machines as a machine can reject an optical scan ballot, resulting in a delay. She said waits of consistently less than 5 minutes would not have been possible without touchscreen machines with an apparent record number of Stark County residents, 38,957,voting in-person early from Oct. 6 to Nov. 2 at the Board of Elections.
Johnson said state law requires all voting machines to have a paper backup. So voters, like with the old system, still will check their votes on the screen against a paper printout behind a clear plastic partition.
The Stark County commissioners have set aside millions of dollars to purchase the machines.
Not wishing to use new voting machines in a high-turnout presidential election, the board put off the purchase until after the 2020 election. Secrest said the result was Dominion offering the $1.71 million trade-in credit, which it had not offered in 2019 or earlier in 2020.
Defending Dominion
Without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, Stark County Board of Elections Member Bill Cline said the board members are well aware of the unproven allegations Trump's campaign has made saying that Dominion voting machines in other states were manipulated to favor President-elect Joe Biden.
Cline, who is a Republican, said in the video conference meeting, "The public needs to be assured that there has been no verifiable proof if you will. No substance to those allegations. They're just allegations. We have been provided information from not only Dominion but in the public media sources that have examined this at length all of the way from the Attorney General of the United States, Mr. (William) Barr who has concluded there is no evidence to support these theories. And then most recently these accusations have been fully explored and vetted by the Wall Street Journal. There's just no substance to it."
Cline added, "This Dominion system is entirely credible. It's not vulnerable. And what (some have) been reading in some places and in some parts of the press and the Internet have no basis in fact."
Board Chairman Samuel Ferruccio, a Democrat, said, "We've been doing business with this company (Dominion) for several years and have had no problems with the machine and equipment. ... It's been a bipartisan review of the system, the new system over a period of several months. And it's really disconcerting to me to hear or read what I'm reading around the country ... It's a slap in the face to all of the elections officials across the country who are doing their job in a bipartisan fashion and doing the hard work to make our elections fair and safe and reliable. It's just a shame. I'm happy with this particular company, They've done a great job, and they've always been real responsive to any of our needs."
Johnson, a Democrat, said, "There are so many safeguards in this system. People have no idea how many safeguards there are in this system at each stage of the way."
Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or robert.wang@cantonrep.com.
Utah school turns away students who did not participate in 'Test to Stay' COVID-19 testing | KSL.com
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:37
Matthew Sartori, Google Maps
By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - Dec. 9, 2020 at 2:32 p.m. KEARNS '-- Students from some 20 Kearns High School families who did not undergo COVID-19 testing during the "Test to Stay" pilot conducted earlier this week were turned away from the school Wednesday morning, Granite School District officials confirmed.
The school, in conjunction with the Utah Department of Health and the Salt Lake County Health Department, tested 1,080 students and staff on Monday and Tuesday, about 70% of the student body. Eleven people tested positive and were instructed to isolate at home.
The school district notified families in advance by multiple emails, texts and telephone calls that students who declined testing or parents or guardians who could not be reached to ask for their consent for the pilot would not be admitted to the school starting Wednesday or until they could present a negative test result, said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley.
There was "not a ton of pushback but obviously 20 families is pretty significant in terms of that many kids trying to show up today and go to school like it's a regular day," he said.
Families were referred to the Maverik Center for free rapid antigen testing and remote instruction is available for students until the start of winter break, Horsley said.
Obviously 20 families is pretty significant in terms of that many kids trying to show up today and go to school like it's a regular day.''Ben Horsley, Granite School District spokesman
Student testing is available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, said Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp. The rapid antigen testing is "exclusively for K through 12" and not the general population, he said.
Horsley said the pilot used the same secure database that holds testing data of Utah high school students who participate in state-sanctioned athletics or activities. Kearns High School administrators were able to run a report of students who underwent testing to verify their participation.
The pilot was one of the first in the state and nation. Davis School District's Syracuse High School also participated, testing 68% of students, although more had initially indicated they would undergo the tests.
Testing at Syracuse High School revealed 19 positive tests, which was in addition to 27 people associated with the Davis District school who had tested positive for the virus within the past two weeks. State health officials recommend taking additional steps to curb transmission of the virus once there are 15 confirmed cases.
The school shifted to online learning starting Wednesday through Dec. 18. Winter break starts Dec. 21.
Rapid antigen tests were used at both schools. The tests can produce results within 15 minutes. The test requires a swab of a lower nostril, which is applied to a test card which can detect the presence of proteins found on or within the novel coronavirus.
— Related LinksRelated Stories Marjorie Cortez More stories you may be interested in
Twitch revises hateful conduct and harassment policy | GamesIndustry.biz
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:29
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Twitch today updated its harassment policy, announcing a number of new rules that will go into effect on January 22.
"We know that many people on Twitch -- particularly women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Indigenous, and people of color -- unfortunately continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online, including on our service," the company said in introducing the revisions.
"Not only is this blatantly unacceptable, it also undermines the community we're building on Twitch and threatens the long-term viability of streaming as a career for everyone who wishes to pursue it."
While the guidelines are now updated, they will not be enforced before January 22, which Twitch said was intended to give users time to learn the new rules.
"We issue policy updates to improve community safety, not to be punitive. Given that there's a lot of new detail in this policy update, we felt it was essential to give the community time to read, process, and ask questions about them. This additional time will allow us to address common points of confusion and prevent Creators and their communities from accidentally running afoul."
The new policy will not be retroactively applied to content already on the site, so violations around new rules will essentially be grandfathered in
People will not be given warnings in the interim about content that is acceptable now but would be a violation come January 22.
Additionally, the new policy will not be retroactively applied to content already on the site, so violations around new rules will essentially be grandfathered in.
The new policy expands on the company's harassment guidelines with a number of specific behaviors that will be banned, adding a new section to detail what constitutes sexual harassment under the policy.
While sexual harassment was formerly one point mentioned on a list of prohibited harassment activities, it now has its own section, with Twitch saying it has "adopted a much lower tolerance for objectifying or harassing behavior."
Specifically, Twitch is banning unwanted advances, asking for nudes, objectifying statements, repeated comments about a person's attractiveness, and discussing a desire to perform graphic sex acts on a public figure.
Furthermore, Twitch has committed to moderating those who offer revenge porn, share leaked nudes of someone without consent, use a person's physical appearance or clothing to describe them as sexually immoral, suggesting that a person used sexual favors to make their channel popular or avoid being banned, or repeatedly targeting people with terms like "whore" or "virgin."
As for general harassment, Twitch now expressly forbids users from encouraging people to DDoS or swat others, "claiming that the victim of a well-documented violent tragedy is a crisis actor, or is lying," or inciting people to dogpile someone's social media accounts outside of Twitch.
On that note, Twitch's policy is more specifically holding streamers accountable for the actions of their audience.
"You are expected to use channel moderators and the tools we provide, such as AutoMod, chat timeouts and bans, to mitigate hateful conduct and harassment in your channel," the new rules state. "Not using the provided tools to moderate hateful conduct appearing on your channel will lead to a suspension."
Other new actions specifically prohibited include "glorifying, endorsing, or expressing approval of a person's past or current traumatic events," telling a victim of violent crime that they deserved to be harmed, and prank calling "legitimate businesses or private persons."
When harassment is based on identity like race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual identity, Twitch elevates it to hateful conduct. The new policy expands the list of protected identities to include caste, color, and immigration status, and goes into greater detail on actions that would be considered crossing the line.
Twitch said it has always banned hate speech and hate symbols, but now it's explicitly banning hate groups, members of hate groups, and those who would share their propaganda. (In October, a feature we ran with current and former Twitch employees accusing the company of a litany of misdeeds included one early employee recalling Twitch CEO Emmett Shear insisting that the platform be neutral to the point where the Ku Klux Klan could stream on it so long as they adhered to terms of service.)
Other things now specifically prohibited include the use of "black/brown/yellow/redface" unless it's being used in an explicitly educational context. Twitch said the Confederate flag was added to the list of hate symbols that can't be displayed "given its historic and symbolic association with slavery and white supremacist groups in the US," and people lionizing slavery -- for example, by referring to it as "the glory days of America" -- should also be moderated.
Twitch is also now forbidding the malicious use of emotes to harass people, and racial slurs are similarly not allowed, except in music, or when singing along to music, or when used in an empowering way or as a term of endearment when the intent is clear.
Twitch also added prohibitions on describing people in protected identity groups as greedy, unintelligent, inferior, unclean, or likening them to parasites, pests or diseases. Cartoons mocking victims of hate crime are specifically forbidden, as are genocide/holocaust denial, intentionally misgendering someone, and endorsing sexual orientation conversion therapy.
"This is another step toward recognizing our safety visions for Twitch," the company said. "We do recognize we still have a lot of work to do, and we are committed to investing the necessary time and resources to get this right."
BLM says Biden-Harris have been silent on meeting request
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:17
December 11, 2020 | 10:32am | Updated December 11, 2020 | 11:52am
Enlarge Image President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Black Lives Matter is putting the forthcoming Biden-Harris administration on notice for failing to respond to a meeting request from the group.
The activists say they were also excluded from a Tuesday meeting between the president- and vice president-elect, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond and several civil rights groups.
''On the night of the Biden Harris victory, BLM sent a letter requesting a meeting,'' the movement wrote Wednesday on its Instagram.
The post includes a graphic stating ''It has been '... 32 days since we've requested a meeting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We've heard no response.''
''Black life cannot wait,'' the group said. ''Creating thriving conditions for Black communities in the 21st century cannot be put on pause.''
The post continued, ''As the organization leading the largest global social justice movement, we demand a seat at the table. To ignore us '-- and the 64,000 of you who have signed our petition '-- is to ignore our generation's most pressing demands for transformative justice. @joebiden @kamalaharris we are waiting.''
BLM called on its 4 million Instagram followers to let the Biden-Harris team ''know you're waiting too.''
Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Protesters participate in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in June.
Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images
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At the meeting Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden promised leaders of prominent civil rights groups that his administration would prioritize racial justice and form a diverse cabinet that can tackle those issues.
The two-hour virtual meeting, which was closed to press, included Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Richmond, who will join the Biden administration as a senior adviser.
With Post wires
Hunter probe compounds Biden's attorney general dilemmas
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:17
Hunter Biden at a conference. | Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Usher's New Look Foundation
Joe Biden's Justice Department-to-be has a Hunter Biden problem.
The ongoing federal investigation into the president-elect's son is already fueling debate among DOJ veterans about extraordinary steps Joe Biden's yet-to-be-named attorney general may have to take to insulate the department from the appearance of political bias.
AdvertisementIn addition to the Hunter investigation, Joe Biden's attorney general will confront tricky questions about how to handle lingering probes of President Donald Trump and his associates, as well as navigate the landmines left by the outgoing administration '-- including a special counsel probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
In interviews, the former DOJ officials say not all of Biden's short-listers are equally equipped to handle that thorny dynamic. And they say Biden's pick may want to consider changes to how the department handles politically sensitive cases more broadly to reestablish the department's independence after years of erosion under Trump. And that pick has to have the credibility to do so.
''Make believe this is Watergate,'' said Nick Akerman, a former federal prosecutor involved in the Nixon-era prosecutions. ''Find the person everybody is going to agree is above reproach, no one's going to second guess their decisions or the integrity of their decisions. It's time to take the real hard politics out of the department.''
Biden's choice isn't that simple, though. He needs to pick a top prosecutor who can make credible decisions on the lingering investigations that relate to Trump or his associates while also choosing someone who can lead on the issue that has most animated the Democratic base '-- and large swaths of the country '-- since the killing of George Floyd: racial justice. And, most importantly, he needs to find someone who can win Senate confirmation, a calculation that could hinge on whether Democrats prevail in two Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5.
AdvertisementOne potential remedy for what many DOJ vets see as the abuses of the Trump era could be deploying special counsels to cabin off politically sensitive cases. That could allow a Biden administration to boast that it is doing everything possible to ensure that law enforcement decisions are shielded from political influence.
But not everyone is convinced it's a good idea. Many prosecutors believe there has already been too much use of such extraordinary measures and that the strong presumption should be that investigations and prosecutions can be handled through regular channels, with guidance from ethics officials and recusals when necessary.
''It should be very, very rare,'' said Ronald Weich, who fielded numerous requests for special counsels as the Justice Department's liaison to Congress under President Barack Obama. ''Republican Justice Departments investigate Republicans and Democratic Justice Departments investigate Democrats. ... People in the department think that investigations should occur without regard to politics and, therefore, a special counsel appointment should almost never be necessary.''
This week's confirmation of a federal criminal investigation into one of Biden's close family members is also prompting a fresh look at which of the potential attorney general nominees might be required to recuse from the Hunter Biden probe, as well as other high-profile investigations such as Special Counsel John Durham's investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
AdvertisementFormer deputy attorney general Sally Yates, for example, a top contender for the top job under Biden, was involved in various aspects of the Russia probe and could require recusal from at least some of the Durham inquiry's elements, although the full contours of his work remains murky.
''Certainly, the Russia investigation was underway when Sally was first deputy attorney general then acting AG. To me, that doesn't preclude her coming back and overseeing something tangential to that involvement,'' said Weich, now dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law. ''If it was something that involved her or [an assistant] and one of those people was implicated in the Durham thing, she could recuse and the deputy attorney general would take it.''
Biden's other short-listers, former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and U.S. appeals court judge Merrick Garland wouldn't arrive with the same issues but also offer less DOJ experience than Yates, who spent 27 years at the department before being fired by Trump in early 2017.
Jones, however, has been repeatedly described as a close family friend of President-elect Biden, raising the possibility the outgoing senator could be pressured to recuse from the Hunter Biden probe and any future investigations into Joe Biden or his family.
DOJ veterans say recusals due to friendships are relatively rare. They note that Sessions' recusal from the Trump-Russia probe was deemed mandatory due to Sessions' role in the 2016 Trump campaign and not to a more general sense he might favor Trump or Trump allies due to personal affinity. (As it turned out, the relationship with Trump quickly grew cold.)
Jones' allies say he's aware of the political vicissitudes that can affect the department. One of Jones' past clients, former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, has long claimed he was the victim of a politically motivated prosecution that led to him spending five years in prison on corruption charges.
''He felt that I was being singled out and targeted and, to use his words, not to investigate a crime but to try and go find a crime to attach to an individual. I do think he has an understanding of how the Department of Justice can be politicized. I saw it firsthand,'' Siegelman said in an interview.
''I have a great deal of admiration for Joe Biden and believe he'll select a good attorney general,'' the former governor said. ''I'm sure there will be a place for Doug Jones, whether it's attorney general or some other spot.''
AdvertisementIn Siegelman's view, new leadership alone won't be sufficient to depoliticize the department. He contends major changes are needed to federal criminal rules, including lifting prosecutors' immunity from lawsuits and making the grand jury process more adversarial.
People close to the confirmation process see Patrick as a less likely choice than Jones or Yates, but one who would bring years of experience as DOJ's civil rights chief during the Clinton era while helping Biden diversify his Cabinet. Patrick, the second elected Black governor in American history, has been a longtime ally of former President Barack Obama but lacks the personal ties to Biden that could complicate investigative decisions.
''He has navigated countless landmines of conflicts, ethical challenges, and I think he has the bandwidth to handle these politically thick waters,'' said Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor who handled cases in the Tax Division while Patrick ran the civil rights division. ''He's able to put the rope through that needle '-- criminal justice reform, police pattern and practice investigations, he's able to do that with some credibility because he headed the civil rights division. '... He's the type of person who can juggle all those demands.''
Several of the AG hopefuls could also face questions about recusals prompted by their connections to legal clients. Yates would likely face a 2-year recusal from cases involving clients of the Atlanta-based law firm where she became a partner after leaving DOJ in 2017, King & Spalding. That recusal can sometimes be waived, but rarely when an officeholder worked directly for the client in question.
Jones was in private practice in Birmingham for a decade and a half before he ran for Senate in 2017. The three years that have passed since then would likely minimize the number of conflict issues for him relating to former clients.
As debate swirls about the AG contenders, Republicans are demanding that Attorney General William Barr name new special counsels in order to ensure that ongoing inquiries '-- such as the Delaware investigation of Hunter Biden's taxes '-- aren't prematurely shut down by Joe Biden appointees. GOP lawmakers have also demanded a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate what they say are election irregularities, despite Barr's recent comments indicating that no such irregularities had been found. Republicans have also demanded that the federal prosecutors leading the Hunter Biden probe be retained into the new president's tenure.
The Biden transition has not indicated how it intends to handle any of these delicate matters, but his nominee for the post will be instructive.
Of course, the attorney general job requires Senate confirmation, so whoever Biden picks is sure to face questions from Republicans about how he or she would handle the Hunter Biden probe, the Durham investigation and other sensitive matters.
AdvertisementDemocrats pushed numerous Trump appointees on similar issues during their confirmation hearings, although they rarely gave ground. Sessions agreed to recuse himself from matters relating to Clinton's email practices and the Clinton Foundation, although he ultimately farmed some of those inquiries out to the U.S. Attorney in Utah, John Huber. No charges were ever brought.
Sessions also incurred Trump's enduring wrath by recusing from the Russia investigation in March of 2017, contributing to a series of events that resulted in then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein naming former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel for the Trump-Russia probe in May of that year.
One way to give the Hunter Biden probe a measure of independence, short of a full-scale special counsel, would be for Biden to leave the prosecutor currently overseeing the inquiry, U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss, in his post into the new administration even as other U.S. attorneys are typically asked to resign.
That would adhere to a precedent Attorney General Eric Holder followed in 2009, allowing the George W. Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, George Holding, to stay on for two and a half years to see through an ongoing investigation into former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) over nearly $1 million in funds used to support a woman he fathered a child with, Rielle Hunter.
Weich noted that while Holding was allowed to remain, Attorney General Eric Holder recused himself from the probe, citing work he'd done vetting Edwards as a potential vice presidential pick.
Whether the Edwards precedent is something to be emulated as a way to insulate the department from politics is open to some debate. Days after Edwards' indictment in 2011, Holding resigned and announced a bid for Congress as a Republican. He won the race and served four terms in the House before deciding not to run for reelection this year.
At Edwards' trial the following year, the jury deadlocked on five of six counts, acquitting Edwards on the sixth. Press reports said most of the jurors found the evidence weak and favored acquittal. The Justice Department quickly announced that the case would not be retried.
Weiss' situation is not entirely parallel to Holding's. Weiss has been a federal prosecutor for 13 years, while Holding had a shorter track record at the U.S. Attorney's Office '-- just four years '-- before taking it over in 2006.
AdvertisementOne former Trump Justice Department appointee told POLITICO he hopes that the naming of special counsels does not become something spurred by political concerns or retribution.
''I hope we are not in a tit-for-tat place on this,'' said the former official, who asked not to be named. ''We should not call for these kinds of special counsel investigations for political purposes, and when we do it becomes too easy to make it tit-for-tat.''
Joe Biden may be the new president-elect '-- but with President Donald Trump continuing to challenge the results and Senate control up still up for grabs, the story of the election is far from over.
Chinese Military Bases in The Caribbean?
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:08
Of concern to US security interests is China's seaport expansion project at Kingston, Jamaica, as well as at Freeport, Bahamas, China's possible new base of operations 90 miles off the US coast. The projects are an opportunity for Chinese Communist Party intelligence operatives to suborn the sovereignty of Caribbean countries by luring them into "debt trap" economic dependency on China. Sri Lanka's inability to pay back loans for Beijing's modernization of the port of Hambantota (pictured) has resulted in the South Asian country's effective loss of the port. (Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP via Getty Images)
China's Communist Party (CCP) seems to be implementing a multidimensional strategy in the Caribbean, reaping economic, political and potentially military gains a few miles offshore the United States. China's ultimate objective of its Caribbean strategy may well be to confront the US, not only with its presence near the mainland US, but also with a situation analogous to America's military presence in the region of the South China Sea. There, China created new islands in the sea, pledged not to militarize them, then went and militarized them.
It is important to remember that China also promised Hong Kong autonomy until 2047, then, in 2020, jumped the gun by 27 years. "Hong Kong will be another communist-run city under China's strict control," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in July. China is clearly not a government that honors its agreements.
The CCP leadership has also been launching a diplomatic effort in the Caribbean with the goal of delegitimizing the state of Taiwan, while encouraging regional countries to open relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Chinese shipments of military and police equipment to several Caribbean states could be developing into beachheads for future People's Liberation Army (PLA) "advisory groups" in the Western Hemisphere. China's construction projects already include the modernization of airports and seaports, which could increase Chinese geopolitical and military influence in the region. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe already is on record expressing China's willingness to deepen military cooperation with Caribbean countries.
Additionally, China has been investing considerable revenue in the economies of the hemisphere's anti-American Caribbean socialist states of Cuba and Venezuela. China's establishment of a Caribbean Belt and Road Sector is an opportunity for CCP intelligence operatives to suborn the sovereignty of Caribbean countries by luring these societies into "debt trap" economic dependency on China. In Sri Lanka, for instance, the country's inability to pay back its Chinese creditors for Beijing's modernization of the port of Hambantota has resulted in the South Asian country's effective loss of the port.
China's Caribbean offensive so far includes a "medical diplomacy" initiative that is providing Latin America, but especially the region's island states, with face masks, personal protective gowns and gloves, ventilators, ambulances, and pharmaceuticals. This May, China convened a video-link conference on the COVID-19 virus at the vice-ministerial level with the nine Caribbean countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing: Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
China's dominant role as a world leader in the production of pharmaceuticals and medical devices is, as presumably intended, enabling the Chinese to garner considerable good will in the region. China has already delivered 30,000 virus test kits to Jamaica and at least 100,000 protective masks to Cuba as well as about 100 ventilators to the Dominican Republic. China also has built hospitals in Dominica, St. Kitts, Barbados and Trinidad, as well as a children's hospital in Jamaica. Throughout the COVID-19 virus epidemic, China has also donated medical supplies to around 15 Caribbean states.
Chinese investors are plowing millions of dollars into tourist-oriented construction projects. China's state-supported construction enterprises are building hotel resorts in the Bahamas, Guyana and Barbados. Of more concern to US security interests is the ongoing seaport expansion project in the already commercially important port at Kingston, Jamaica, as well as the port at Freeport, Bahamas, China's possible new base of operations 90 miles off the US coast.
Other Chinese-sponsored port projects are underway at Cuba's ports of Santiago and Mariel, as well as Guyana's port of Berbice. Another Chinese construction project that deserves scrutiny for its implication for US national security is China's modernization of Guyana's Cheddi Jagan international airport. Once the site of US Air Force military operations during World War II, with its runway of over 10,000 feet, it is capable of hosting Chinese military jet aircraft. However, disagreements over the terms of the original contract signed in 2011 are a source of tension between the Chinese contractor and the usually pro-Chinese Guyanese government. China also has an interest in regional access to raw materials such as bauxite from Jamaica, and offshore oil near Guyana.
The Chinese regime is effectively employing "soft power" by way of propagating anti-US diplomacy through China's regional ambassadors and Confucius Institutes. Particularly active in this regard is Liu Quan, the China's Ambassador to Suriname. China's propaganda arm has established approximately 10 of its 45 pro-Communist Confucius Institutes in the region, in Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. These institutes propagate the same ideological pro-Chinese Communist Party, anti-Taiwan line. Additionally, the Confucius Institute in Suriname, home to one of the largest number of overseas Chinese of any country in the region, may also be attempting to recruit agents
In 2018, the Dominican Republic revoked its diplomatic ties to Taiwan, presumably to take advantage of the economic opportunities that relations with China might bring.
China's military agenda in the Caribbean region includes the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, which has donated Chinese Y-12 transport aircraft to Guyana. PLA military aid continues to arrive in Jamaica. Chinese-produced motorcycles have been exported to West Indian police forces in Trinidad and Tobago, and police cars to Guyana. Moreover, selected military officers from virtually every Caribbean country continue to receive training at Chinese military academies.
Were China to establish a beachhead in the Caribbean, the US could be faced with a dark replay of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. China could insist that the US reduce, or entirely withdraw, its considerable military force structure in the Western Pacific Ocean, in exchange for a draw-down of PLA assets in the Caribbean -- or any other bargain it dreamed up.
US policymakers need seriously to address Communist China's aggressive expansionist policies in the Caribbean. The US should not permit the PLA Air Force or the PLA Navy to establish bases that could interfere with American freedom of navigation, both for commerce and for military convoys re-supplying NATO allies in the event of a military crisis. The US can ill afford any Chinese drive to place under threat any Western Hemisphere country, much less the United States.
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
(C) 2020 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Sidney Powell 🇺🇸'­'­'­ on Twitter: "Pay attention! We made emergency filings in #SupremeCourt tonight for #Georgia & #Michigan. Will be filing #Arizona #Wisconsin shortly. These cases raise constitutional issues and prove massive #fraud. Our
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:08
Sidney Powell 🇺🇸'­'­'­ : Pay attention! We made emergency filings in #SupremeCourt tonight for #Georgia & #Michigan. Will be filing #Arizona'... https://t.co/bIfor4iqLw
Sat Dec 12 03:17:34 +0000 2020
Southland town blanketed in snow in December as icy blast hits | Newshub
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:40
Snow in December is "unseasonable" but not unheard of, according to Metservice. Photo credit: Supplied/Matt CoffeyThe top of Southland is getting a taste of a white Christmas as snow blankets certain areas on Friday.
Photos posted on Facebook show the small town of Garston covered in snow. It is only 10°C in the small settlement today but Metservice warns it feels more like 7°C.
Metservice meteorologist Tahlia Crabtree said higher alpine areas in that region are expected to get light snowfall for the rest of the day.
"We are forecasting a dusting of snow into the evening."
She said that while it is "unseasonable" for it to snow in December, it's not unheard of.
"It is unseasonable but given New Zealand's climate we do get snow during summer."
But it's not looking like the snow will last. Crabtree said Garston looks set to have a "relatively settled" lead up to Christmas.
"It's hard to say if there will be another very cold event before Christmas but it's looking like the weather is going to remain settled."
Garston in Southland. Photo credit: Supplied/Matt CoffeyPhotos of the snowfall were posted on the South Proud NZ Facebook page with the caption: "Garston having a bit of a snow day today! So much for Summer huh?"
People were delighted by the rare snow with many joking it was reflective of summer in New Zealand.
Others were excited at the idea of a snowy Christmas.
Garston in Southland. Photo credit: Supplied/Matt Coffey"It looks good, maybe a white Xmas coming up??" one person questioned.
The Southland region is rainy and cloudy today with heavy rain in the evening and strong southwesterlies, according to Metservice.
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China's vaccine gambit | Science
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:38
With its global campaign to test and promote COVID-19 vaccines, China aims to win friends and cut deals.
Science 's COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation
Beijing-based Sinovac, which makes a COVID-19 vaccine from inactivated virus, has efficacy trials underway in Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia'--but not in China.
PHOTO: REUTERS/THOMAS PETERThe first people in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine were not part of a clinical trial. No TV stations or newspapers covered the historic event. No company issued a statement.
On 29 February, less than 2 months after the world awakened to the threat of the new disease, virologist Chen Wei, a major general in China's army, and six military scientists on her team stood in front of a Chinese Communist Party flag and received injections of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Chen, a national hero for her work on Ebola vaccines, had come to the initial center of the pandemic, Wuhan, with her group from the Academy of Medical Military Sciences, in part to help make the candidate vaccine with pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics. Commentators inside and outside of China later questioned whether the event, which received wide play on social media, was real. No less than People's Daily, the Communist Party's main newspaper, labeled a photo of Chen receiving the vaccine as ''#FAKENEWS.'' But Hou Li-Hua, a researcher at the academy who works on the vaccine project, says it was ''true news'''--an attempt to protect the scientists in the hard-hit city.
In the United States, the Trump administration's $10.8 billion Operation Warp Speed accelerated vaccine R&D faster than many researchers thought possible, specifically for the U.S. population. But an equally massive effort has unfolded in China. CanSino and two other Chinese companies'--one owned by the government, the other working closely with its regulatory agency'--are investing substantial resources, testing four candidates in tens of thousands of volunteers around the world. They are likely only days or weeks away from announcing the outcomes of efficacy trials, just behind the encouraging early results recently announced by a brace of companies and institutions outside China.
But the low profile of those historic first injections, the military collaboration with a ''private'' company, and the ethically fraught decision to start with vaccinations outside of a clinical trial telegraphed that aside from the similar scale and speed, China's vaccine effort is following a very different course from those in the United States and Europe. Most leading Western vaccines rely on sexy technologies such as genetically engineered viral vectors, designer proteins, and snippets of RNA. Three of China's leading vaccine candidates use an unfashionable stalwart: the whole inactivated virus, an approach that dates back to the first successful flu vaccine in the 1930s.
CREDITS: (GRAPHIC) N. DESAI/SCIENCE; (DATA) WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION; CLINICALTRIALS.GOV; CHINESE CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRY; WCG CENTERWATCHAnd China's vaccine effort is cursed by the country's dramatic success with aggressive public health measures to stop the spread of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, including forced isolation of cases and testing of entire cities. Whereas the raging pandemic in the United States has enabled trials there to quickly deliver signals of efficacy, ''China crushed the coronavirus epidemic early, so they lost the opportunity to test the efficacy of their vaccines there,'' says epidemiologist Ray Yip, who closely follows COVID-19 vaccine development as an adviser to Bill Gates. ''If they had plenty of cases in China, they could have finished an efficacy trial ahead of other people.''
So China's vaccine developers have gone abroad. Although the United States has shut them out of Operation Warp Speed, they have brokered deals with 14 other countries on five continents. They have mounted massive trials in the Arab world'--and given candidate vaccines to top government officials there'--and navigated toxic politics in Brazil, where the pandemic is raging fiercely, to test a vaccine and explore producing it there.
But China isn't just seeking promising venues for clinical trials. Not urgently needing the vaccines at home to fight a virus it has largely quashed, it is playing a global game by pledging to send any proven vaccine to countries that are conducting trials for its candidates, or to share the technologies behind them. ''They know they don't need a vaccine to contain the epidemic in China,'' Yip says. ''They can take their sweet time.''
Yanzhong Huang, a global health specialist at both Seton Hall University and the Council on Foreign Relations, says the country is ''actually using the vaccine to promote the diplomacy of foreign policy objectives.'' This ''vaccine diplomacy'' he says, contrasts starkly with Warp Speed's ''vaccine nationalism'' and aims to ''fill in the void left by the United States.''
''It is a very carefully executed and carefully thought out strategy,'' says Stephen Morrison, who directs the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. ''A strategic goal of the Chinese government is to achieve hegemonic influence in the bioeconomy within the next decade.''
At home, too, attitudes toward vaccines contrast with those in the United States and Europe, where mistrust is high, Morrison says. To the consternation of vaccine experts overseas, hundreds of thousands of people in China have already lined up to receive the experimental vaccines'--even before their value and safety have been proved. ''There has not been a collapse of faith and trust in science and in the state,'' Morrison says. ''There's less fear about where this is all going.''
THE SPEED AT WHICH Chen and her colleagues were able to get those first shots is all the more remarkable given that CanSino was arguably slow off the mark.
Although some COVID-19 vaccinemakers launched their projects the day after the sequence for SARS-CoV-2 became public on 10 January, CanSino CEO Yu Xuefeng had reservations. ''We started to look into it in the middle of January, but there was a hesitation,'' he says. COVID-19, Yu worried, might be a blip, like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus-caused disease, which alarmed the world in 2003. Companies and governments poured resources into developing vaccines, but the disease disappeared a year later.
Originally from China, Yu completed his Ph.D. in microbiology at McGill University in Canada in 1997, and then stayed, working on vaccines for nearly 9 years at a Sanofi Pasteur branch there. He co-founded CanSino'--a portmanteau of Canada and China'--in 2009. A team led by Major General Chen back in China helped develop its only previous product to receive approval: an Ebola vaccine based on a widespread and largely harmless virus known as adenovirus 5 (Ad5), into which they stitched a gene for the surface protein of the Ebola virus.
Yu and his team considered making a COVID-19 vaccine with messenger RNA (mRNA) for the new coronavirus' surface protein, called spike'--the innovative approach taken by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, the ''winner'' of the race to report preliminary efficacy data. But CanSino decided to go with what it knew, using the Ad5 vector to carry the spike gene. ''I thought that's the quickest and the mature way of developing a new vaccine,'' Yu says.
In just 1 month, CanSino's candidate was ready to be given to Chen and her team, and on 16 March the company launched the world's first COVID-19 vaccine trial, in Wuhan, to test its safety and ability to provoke immune responses. CanSino had beaten Moderna, which has an mRNA candidate, by 8 hours'--though a world transfixed by the vaccine race among Western companies paid little attention.
The Chinese company CanSino Biologics had the first COVID-19 vaccine to enter clinical trials, and by April had already progressed to a phase II study in Wuhan.
PHOTO: TPG/GETTY IMAGESSeveral U.S. and European contenders, including AstraZeneca, have also adopted adenoviruses to carry the spike protein, some opting for an Ad5 vector similar to CanSino's, despite several concerns about the approach. In 2007, two disastrous efficacy trials of an Ad5-based AIDS vaccine found that'--for still-debated reasons'--it actually raised the risk of HIV infection. The other worry is that preexisting immunity to Ad5 can attack the vector, which could explain why, in early trials, the CanSino vaccine elicited a weaker-than-expected antibody response. ''We do see there's some impact,'' Yu concedes, ''but it's not black and white.'' (The AstraZeneca vaccine's preliminary efficacy data suggest immunity against its adenovirus vector may have compromised that candidate's performance, as well.)
The two other Chinese players, Sinovac Biotech and China National Biotec Group (CNBG)'--a subsidiary of one of the world's largest vaccinemakers, the state-owned Sinopharm'--are taking a different approach: vaccinating people with the whole, ''killed'' virus. This requires no sophisticated protein or RNA design or genetic engineering: Scientists simply inactivate the virus with a chemical (beta propiolactone) and mix it with an adjuvant (alum) that effectively puts the immune system on full alert by irritating it. In theory, such vaccines can produce broader antibody and T cell responses, because they contain the full set of viral proteins, rather than a single one such as spike. And unlike mRNA vaccines, which have to be stored at subzero temperatures, inactivated viruses require no more than ordinary refrigeration.
But many scientists view inactivated virus vaccines as outmoded, difficult to make in high volume, and potentially dangerous. Warp Speed outright rejected the approach. ''I really don't think the inactivated vaccine is a good idea,'' says Moncef Slaoui, scientific head of Warp Speed.
A major worry is that inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccines might trigger more severe illness, known as ''enhanced respiratory disease,'' in immunized people who do get infected. Basically, if a vaccine triggers ineffective antibodies, they can form immune complexes that clog the lungs. This occurred with a vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus given to children in the 1960s, and in animal experiments with vaccines against SARS and another coronavirus disease, Middle East respiratory syndrome. The prospect of growing large batches of virus before killing it also poses challenges; twice in the past 5 years, live poliovirus has escaped from European plants making inactivated virus vaccines for that disease.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (left), prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, on 3 November received a COVID-19 vaccine from CanSino Biologics.
PHOTO: WAM/HANDOUT VIA REUTERSBut inactivated virus vaccines, unlike mRNA and other technologies handsomely supported by Warp Speed, have a solid track record. ''There are lots of different ways that vaccines are made, and it's great that innovation is occurring alongside tried-and-true approaches,'' says Nicole Lurie, a strategic adviser to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) who formerly served as U.S. assistant secretary for preparedness and response. ''Inactivated vaccines are one of several tried and true approaches.'' Meng Weining, a senior director at Sinovac, says the company compared the inactivated approach'--which it already uses to make six vaccines'--with two other strategies in animal models. ''The inactivated whole virus vaccine gave a much, much better result,'' Meng says.
Although it is easier, in theory, to produce mRNA in vast quantities than it is to grow the virus on a similar scale, vaccine experts say producing the inactivated virus vaccines is unlikely to be a hurdle. CNBG, for example, has ''enormous resources: 10,000 employees and scientists, huge manufacturing capability,'' says Nicholas Jackson, who heads CEPI's China office and previously worked on vaccine R&D at Pfizer. ''They are a very competent beast.'' And, crucially for China's vaccine diplomacy, many other countries have manufacturers that have produced inactivated virus vaccines for decades.
In Brazil, Sinovac's vaccine is caught in a battle between President Jair Bolsonaro and S£o Paulo's governor, Jo£o Doria. The mask says, ''No vaccine! Oust Doria.''
PHOTO: REUTERS/AMANDA PEROBELLIIf China's COVID-19 vaccines work, manufacturers say they could turn out 1.5 billion doses in total next year. And countries that cannot access vaccines bankrolled by Warp Speed'--especially countries that hosted China's efficacy trials'--might have a more secure vaccine supply.
THE PRIME MINISTER of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on 3 November tweeted a photo of himself in Dubai, the right sleeve of his kandura rolled high, being injected with a CNBG COVID-19 vaccine. ''We wish everyone safety and great health, and we are proud of our teams who have worked relentlessly to make the vaccine available in the UAE,'' Al Maktoum wrote. Two of the country's top ministers had received the vaccine 3 weeks earlier.
UAE has become the cornerstone of CNBG's efficacy trials and is following China's controversial lead in allowing people to receive the vaccine outside of clinical trials.
In a video conference on 23 June that linked UAE and China, health officials, ambassadors, and CNBG executives sat at long tables in rooms decorated with each country's flags and celebrated their decision to stage an efficacy trial together. The trial has since expanded to Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan and hopes to recruit 45,000 people.
CNBG says it came to UAE to test its two whole virus vaccines'--similar inactivated preparations made by two independent, and even competitive, laboratories'--because the high SARS-CoV-2 infection rate there should speed an efficacy signal. But diplomacy and commerce also drove the decision. UAE's enormous foreign workforce means trial participants come from 125 different countries. ''If you can prove these vaccines work in UAE,'' Huang says, ''that means everybody in the world would think that the vaccine would work in their countries, too.''
China may be hoping for a public relations (PR) benefit as well: UAE and many of the other collaborating countries have large Muslim populations, which Huang says could help mitigate human rights complaints about China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. ''They certainly don't want to have more enemies overseas,'' he says.
Huang adds that through its array of overseas trials, China hopes to build goodwill for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive investment in infrastructure in more than 100 countries to increase trade. Critics have charged that the BRI is ''debt-trap'' diplomacy that's a form of neocolonialism. ''China wants to work with these countries and prioritize them to have the vaccine because I think they believe this is going to facilitate the implementation of the BRI,'' he says.
China's vaccine diplomacy has not always gone smoothly. On 9 November, after Brazil suspended a trial of Sinovac's vaccine following the death of a participant, President Jair Bolsonaro took to Facebook. ''Morte, invalidez, anomalia,'' he wrote, quoting from a Brazilian health agency that had listed possible reasons for the suspension: death, disability, genetic anomalies. Bolsonaro's message was clear: This Chinese vaccine, CoronaVac, was dangerous.
''Many people were really taken aback because of that post,'' says Esper Kallas, who heads the vaccine trial site at the University of S£o Paulo that the participant had joined. ''He was celebrating the failure of a vaccine.'' For Bolsonaro, it was a PR victory over his arch political rival, the governor of S£o Paulo, who backed the CoronaVac trial. The president was also delighting in an apparent setback for China, which Bolsonaro, like his ally, U.S. President Donald Trump, has criticized relentlessly.
It turned out the participant died from a drug overdose. His death had nothing to do with CoronaVac, and the efficacy trial quickly resumed.
China chose to navigate Brazil's daunting politics because with an out-of-control pandemic'--it is third in the world in total infections, with more than 100,000 new cases every week'--the country is a magnet for vaccine testing and is desperate for vaccines. S£o Paulo state in September committed $90 million to Sinovac for 46 million doses. (This, notably, is 10 times cheaper than what the U.S. government is paying for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, which appear to be powerfully effective.) And Brazil could augment the supply by making vaccine itself: Sinovac says it may transfer its technology to the Butantan Institute, a major vaccine manufacturer in S£o Paulo, a collaboration that Meng describes as a ''win-win.''
China has had warmer receptions in other countries. Turkey in September launched a 13,000-person efficacy trial of Sinovac's vaccine. Serhat 'nal, who heads the Hacettepe University Vaccine Institute'--which is similar to Butantan'--and is on the scientific board of the Ministry of Health, says Turkey has ''a good infrastructure for the phase III studies'' and, unlike the United States and much of Europe, welcomed a Chinese vaccinemaker.
The three Chinese manufacturers also have large efficacy trials planned or underway in Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile (see map, above). It's a good strategy, 'nal says. ''When you do the phase III in different countries, it's more transparent, it's more trustworthy,'' he says.
As much as vaccine diplomacy and the ''soft power game'' influence where the Chinese vaccinemakers cut deals for efficacy trials, they are also driven by capitalism, says Yip, who for 4 years headed the China office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ''Everybody's clamoring for some COVID vaccine,'' he says. ''They all want to tell their people we have secured some vaccine for you.'' And Chinese companies aim to profit by supplying it.
IT'S A SAFE BET that one or more of China's overseas trials will announce efficacy data any day. The results so far for other vaccines have fed a growing sense that many of the candidates will wallop what is, from a vaccine's point of view, a somewhat wimpy virus. But China is not waiting for the phase III results before widely using its vaccines at home. Its regulators appear to be satisfied with animal studies, combined with the minimal safety and immune response data from phase I and II trials. In June, CanSino received an emergency use authorization to vaccinate the military, and since then both Sinovac and CNBG have received green lights to vaccinate large populations outside of clinical trials.
With the pandemic vanquished at home, China is vaccinating its people as insurance'--often, against a dangerously infected world. CanSino's Yu says ''thousands'' of troops on peacekeeping missions have received his company's vaccine before traveling to places that have a high burden of COVID-19. CNBG says ''hundreds of thousands'' of people in China have received its vaccines. ''By doing this, we are able to build an immune barrier among specific groups of people like healthcare workers, pandemic prevention personnel, and border inspection personnel,'' the company explained in its written replies to Science. Vaccination is ''completely voluntary with informed consent,'' CNBG stresses. What's more, ''We did not receive a single case report of severe adverse reaction, and no infections reported for vaccinees working in high risk areas.''
Sinovac's Meng says ''more than 90%'' of the company's employees have received its vaccine because they are considered a high-risk group; he received it because he travels overseas. (According to China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 155 million Chinese people traveled overseas in 2019, and 145 million tourists visited the country.) In October, the company began to sell its vaccine'--$60 for two doses'--in Yiwu, a city in Zhejiang province.
Yip says the government was even considering vaccinating all of Beijing after a COVID-19 outbreak there in June. Yip says officials ''already had written the guidelines''; if more than 500 cases had surfaced, ''they would shoot up everybody in Beijing with the vaccine.'' In the end, contact tracing, testing, and isolation of infected people limited the outbreak to 335 cases.
Morrison says the Chinese government has clearly ''decided at the highest levels'' that it's worth the gamble to create ''facts on the ground'' and gain a global marketing advantage by having the first COVID-19 vaccines in wide use. ''It's high risk and it's potentially high gain,'' he says.
But what if harm does occur? ''You shouldn't apply the rules of peacetime during the war. Our lives are turned upside down,'' says Yip, who lives part-time in Beijing.
IF ITS VACCINE GAMBLE succeeds, China's image will gain a boost both at home and abroad. ''They have reputational problems, internal and external,'' Morrison says.
In May, China's President Xi Jinping told the World Health Assembly, which governs the World Health Organization (WHO), that the country would make its COVID-19 vaccines ''a global public good,'' a somewhat vague declaration that had many China watchers scratching their heads. But then China followed up on this commitment in October by joining the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, an effort led by WHO, CEPI, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to make sure that any products proved safe and effective quickly reach rich and poor countries alike.
Although joining COVAX arguably gives China an insurance policy to obtain vaccines if its own candidates fail, Morrison says it's primarily a diplomatic move. COVAX hasn't received support from the United States or Russia, and China sees that it ''could have a controlling influence over a major international mechanism.'' In addition, says Alexandra Phelan, a lawyer at Georgetown University's Center for Global Health Science and Security who specializes in China, ''It is a good act of a global citizen to support this effort.''
If a Chinese-made vaccine proves safe and effective, it could help people forget that the pandemic started there and how badly the government responded at first, Morrison says. And at home, it could brighten the image of China's vaccinemakers. Chinese citizens have reeled from a series of scandals over the past decade that include ineffective diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccines; improper records for a rabies vaccine; and sales of an expired polio vaccine.
In something of a twist, Yip says China's middle class may prefer a vaccine from a reputable foreign company. ''Their level of confidence in Chinese-made vaccines is quite low because of all the repeated scandals,'' he says. AstraZeneca and Pfizer have agreements to produce their products with Chinese manufacturers. ''They will outsell the CNBG, Sinovac, and CanSino [vaccines] by 10 to one'--and they will charge 10 times more,'' Yip predicts.
A successful Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine that has been scrutinized by outside regulators would reassure the domestic market, Phelan says. ''There's a lot of domestic ground to make up.''
In Brazil, Kallas says a similar dilemma could play out if Butantan, as hoped, starts to make Sinovac's CoronaVac. ''There is a saying here that the neighbor's chicken is always the most tasty,'' Kallas says. ''We have this perception that everything we do is not as good as the imported thing.''
But for now, Brazil is embracing the Chinese vaccine. With cases surging, the arrival of a mere 120,000 doses of CoronaVac on 19 November became a big news story. The bias against China is little more than a farright political ''contamination,'' Kallas says, and most Brazilians see CoronaVac as ''a viable option.''
''I'd take it, no questions asked'--this is a no-brainer,'' he adds. ''The Pfizer and Moderna news was taken as a relief, but the problem is that both these vaccines are not in Brazil's grasp.''
In Brazil, as in much of the world, China's warp speed vaccines may still, in the most meaningful way, come in first.
Low-cost measurement of face mask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech | Science Advances
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:32
AbstractMandates for mask use in public during the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, worsened by global shortage of commercial supplies, have led to widespread use of homemade masks and mask alternatives. It is assumed that wearing such masks reduces the likelihood for an infected person to spread the disease, but many of these mask designs have not been tested in practice. We have demonstrated a simple optical measurement method to evaluate the efficacy of masks to reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech. In proof-of-principle studies, we compared a variety of commonly available mask types and observed that some mask types approach the performance of standard surgical masks, while some mask alternatives, such as neck gaiters or bandanas, offer very little protection. Our measurement setup is inexpensive and can be built and operated by nonexperts, allowing for rapid evaluation of mask performance during speech, sneezing, or coughing.
INTRODUCTIONThe global spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in early 2020 has substantially increased the demand for face masks around the world while stimulating research about their efficacy. Here, we adapt a recently demonstrated optical imaging approach (1, 2) and highlight stark differences in the effectiveness of different masks and mask alternatives to suppress the spread of respiratory droplets during regular speech.
In general, the term ''face mask'' governs a wide range of protective equipment with the primary function of reducing the transmission of particles or droplets. The most common application in modern medicine is to provide protection to the wearer (e.g., first responders), but surgical face masks were originally introduced to protect surrounding persons from the wearer, such as protecting patients with open wounds against infectious agents from the surgical team (3) or the persons surrounding a tuberculosis patient from contracting the disease via airborne droplets (4). This latter role has been embraced by multiple governments and regulatory agencies (5), since patients with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic but contagious for many days (6). The premise of protection from infected persons wearing a mask is simple: Wearing a face mask will reduce the spread of respiratory droplets containing viruses. Recent studies suggest that wearing face masks reduces the spread of COVID-19 on a population level and consequently blunts the growth of the epidemic curve (7, 8). Still, determining mask efficacy is a complex topic that is still an active field of research [see, for example, (9)], made even more complicated because the infection pathways for COVID-19 are not yet fully understood and are complicated by many factors such as the route of transmission, correct fit and usage of masks, and environmental variables. From a public policy perspective, shortages in supply for surgical face masks and N95 respirators, as well as concerns about their side effects and the discomfort of prolonged use (10), have led to public use of a variety of solutions that are generally less restrictive (such as homemade cotton masks or bandanas) but usually of unknown efficacy. While some textiles used for mask fabrication have been characterized (11), the performance of actual masks in a practical setting needs to be considered. The work we report here describes a measurement method that can be used to improve evaluation to guide mask selection and purchase decisions.
A schematic and demonstration image are shown in Fig. 1. In brief, an operator wears a face mask and speaks into the direction of an expanded laser beam inside a dark enclosure. Droplets that propagate through the laser beam scatter light, which is recorded with a cell phone camera. A simple computer algorithm is used to count the droplets in the video. The required hardware for these measurements is commonly available; suitable lasers and optical components are accessible in hundreds of research laboratories or can be purchased for less than $200, and a standard cell phone camera can serve as a recording device. The experimental setup is simple and can easily be built and operated by nonexperts.
Fig. 1 Schematic of the experimental setup.A laser beam is expanded vertically by a cylindrical lens and shined through slits in the enclosure. The camera is located at the back of the box, with a hole for the speaker in the front. The inset shows scattering for water particles from a spray bottle with the front of the box removed. Photo credit: Martin Fischer, Duke University.
Below, we describe the measurement method and demonstrate its capabilities for mask testing. In this application, we do not attempt a comprehensive survey of all possible mask designs or a systematic study of all use cases. We merely demonstrated our method on a variety of commonly available masks and mask alternatives with one speaker, and a subset of these masks were tested with four speakers. Even from these limited demonstration studies, important general characteristics can be extracted by performing a relative comparison between different face masks and their transmission of droplets.
RESULTSWe tested 14 commonly available masks or mask alternatives, one patch of mask material, and a professionally fit-tested N95 mask (see Fig. 2 and Table 1 for details). For reference, we recorded control trials where the speaker wore no protective mask or covering. Each test was performed with the same protocol. The camera was used to record a video of approximately 40 s length to record droplets emitted while speaking. The first 10 s of the video serve as baseline. In the next 10 s, the mask wearer repeated the sentence ''Stay healthy, people'' five times (speech), after which the camera continued to record for an additional 20 s (observation). For each mask and for the control trial, this protocol was repeated 10 times. We used a computer algorithm (see Materials and Methods) to count the number of particles within each video.
Fig. 2 Pictures of face masks under investigation.We tested 14 different face masks or mask alternatives and one mask material. Photo credit: Emma Fischer, Duke University. For photos showing the masks as actually worn, see fig. S8 (Supplementary Materials).
Table 1 Face masks under investigation.This table lists the investigated face masks, mask alternatives, and mask material (masks are depicted in Fig. 2). Masks marked with an asterisk (*) were tested by four speakers; all others were tested by one speaker.
The results of our mask study is depicted in Fig. 3A, where we show the relative droplet count for each tested mask. Data displayed with solid dots represent the outcome of the same speaker testing all masks; the points and error bars represent the mean value and distribution SD, respectively, of the total droplet count normalized to the control trial (no mask). For this speaker's control trial, the absolute droplet count was about 960. A graph with a corresponding logarithmic scale can be found in fig. S1. Data in Fig. 3A shown with a hollow circle represent an average over four different speakers wearing the same type of masks (surgical, cotton5, and bandana); the values and error bars represent the mean value and SD of the average relative droplet count from all four speakers. The additional speakers' reference counts for the control trial (no mask) were about 200, with similar fractional variance to the main speaker (see fig. S2 for details).
Fig. 3 Droplet transmission through face masks.(A) Relative droplet transmission through the corresponding mask. Each solid data point represents the mean and SD over 10 trials for the same mask, normalized to the control trial (no mask), and tested by one speaker. Hollow data points are the mean and SDs of the relative counts over four speakers. A plot with a logarithmic scale is shown in fig. S1. The numbers on the x-axis labels correspond to the mask numbers in Fig. 2 and Table 1. (B) The time evolution of the droplet count (left axis) is shown for representative examples, marked with the corresponding color in (A): no mask (green), bandana (red), cotton mask (orange), and surgical (blue, not visible on this scale). The cumulative droplet count for these cases is also shown (right axis). t, time.
We measured a droplet transmission fraction ranging from below 0.1% (fitted N95 mask) to 110% (neck gaiter, see discussion below) relative to the control trials. In Fig. 3B, the time evolution of detected droplets is shown for four representative examples (surgical, cotton5, bandana, and the control trial) tested by the first speaker'--the data for all tested masks are shown in fig. S3. Solid curves indicate the droplet transmission rate over time. For the control trial (green curve), the five distinct peaks correspond to the five repetitions of the operator speaking. In the case of speaking through a mask, there is a physical barrier, which results in a reduction of transmitted droplets and a significant delay between speaking and detecting particles. In effect, the mask acts as a temporal low-pass filter, smoothens the droplet rate over time, and reduces the overall transmission. For the bandana (red curve), the droplet rate is merely reduced by a factor of 2, and the repetitions of the speech are still noticeable. The effect of the cotton mask (orange curve) is much stronger. The speech pattern is no longer recognizable, and most of the droplets, compared to the control trial, are removed. The curve for the surgical mask is not visible on this scale. The shaded areas for all curves display the cumulative particle count over time: The lower the curve, the more droplets are blocked by the mask. Figure 3B shows the droplet count for the four masks measured by one speaker; fig. S4 shows the data for all four speakers using identical masks.
We noticed that speaking through some masks (particularly the neck gaiter) seemed to disperse the largest droplets into a multitude of smaller droplets (see fig. S5), which explains the apparent increase in droplet count relative to no mask in that case. Considering that smaller particles are airborne longer than large droplets (larger droplets sink faster), the use of such a mask might be counterproductive. Furthermore, the performance of the valved N95 mask is likely affected by the exhalation valve, which opens for strong outwards airflow. While the valve does not compromise the protection of the wearer, it can decrease the protection of persons surrounding the wearer. In comparison, the performance of the fitted, non-valved N95 mask was far superior.
DISCUSSIONThe experimental setup is very straightforward to implement, and the required hardware and software are ubiquitous or easily acquired. However, this simplicity does go along with some limitations that are discussed here, along with routes for possible improvements and future studies. Again, we want to note that the mask tests performed here (one speaker for all masks and four speakers for selected masks) should serve only as a demonstration. Intersubject variations are to be expected, for example, because of differences in physiology, mask fit, head position, speech pattern, and such.
A first limitation is that our experimental implementation samples only a small part of the enclosure, and hence, some droplets that are transmitted through the masks might not be registered in the laser beam. Similarly, the face of the speaker is positioned with respect to the speaker hole by aligning the forehead and chin to the box. The physiology of each speaker is different, resulting in variations of the position of the mouth relative to the light sheet. Hence, the droplet count reflects only a portion of all droplets, but as we perform the experiment with the same initial conditions for all masks, the relative performance of the masks can be compared. A speaker hole that is sealed around the face would prevent the undetected escape of particles and ease comparison between different speakers.
Second, the use of a cell phone camera poses certain limitations on detection sensitivity, i.e., the smallest recognizable droplet size. To estimate the sensitivity, we consider the light that is scattered by droplets passing through the laser beam. The amount of light scattered into the camera direction depends on the wavelength of light, the refractive index of the droplet, and its size (and shape). To estimate the light scattering of droplets into the camera as a function of their diameter, we used the Python package PyMieScatt (12), which is an implementation of the Lorenz-Mie theory [see (13) for a review]. The result is visualized in Fig. 4. Figure 4A shows an example of the scattering distribution for a 532-nm light scattered from a droplet of 5 μm diameter and a refractive index of water (n = 1.33). In this example, the particle size is substantially bigger than the wavelength of the light (the so-called Mie regime). Almost all the light is scattered into the forward direction (0°) and very little into the direction of the camera (indicated by the shaded green cone around 90°). For the given camera acceptance angle, we display in Fig. 4B the estimated number of photons per frame scattered into the cell phone camera aperture as a function of particle diameter. By illuminating the camera directly with an attenuated laser beam of known power, we determine the detection sensitivity. A minimum of about 75 photons (on a single camera pixel) or about 960 photons (spread over several pixels) per frame were required for the camera to detect a droplet (for details on the detection characterization, see the Supplementary Materials). Both detection thresholds are indicated by horizontal black lines and the red shaded area in Fig. 4B. The more conservative detection threshold corresponds to a minimum detectable droplet size of 0.5 μm. The main limitation is the low collection efficiency of our small camera aperture'--we currently capture only 0.01% of the full solid angle. An increased collection efficiency is possible with a larger relay lens in front of the camera, but this would come at the cost of a reduced field of view.
Fig. 4 Light scattering properties.(A) Angle distribution (scattering phase function) for light scattered by a water droplet of 5 μm diameter for illumination with green laser light. Note the logarithmic radial scale. 0° is the forward direction, and 180° is the backward direction. The camera records at around 90°, indicated by the green segment (not to scale). (B) Calculated number of photons recorded by the camera in one frame as a function of the droplet diameter. The red shaded area and the two solid lines indicate the detection thresholds of the camera. For ideal conditions (all photons impinge on a single pixel), the camera requires at least about 75 photons per frame corresponding to a droplet diameter of 0.1 μm; for photons distributed over multiple pixels, the threshold is around 960 photons and corresponds to a diameter of 0.5 μm.
Third, the use of a single cell phone camera also limits the achievable size resolution (currently 120 μm per pixel), given the large field of view that is required to image as many droplets as possible. This makes it unfeasible to directly measure the size of small (aerosol) droplets in our setup. However, while we cannot measure the size of droplets at or below the pixel resolution, we can still detect and count the smaller droplets, down to the sensitivity limit described above. For very large particles, the limited dynamic range of the camera also poses a challenge for determining the size, since pixels easily saturate and hence distort the shape of the recorded droplet. We want to point out that neither the limited pixel resolution nor the saturation affect the particle counts presented in Fig. 3. Choosing a higher quality camera and a smaller field of view, combined with a funnel setup to guide droplets toward the imaging area, would reduce the minimum observable size, so would approaches that use camera arrays to improve resolution without sacrificing sensitivity or field of view (14). Keeping in mind these sizing limitations, we can still estimate the size distribution for the larger droplets (see fig. S5 for a qualitative size plot), which presents some interesting observations such as the neck gaiter performance mentioned earlier.
We should point out that our experiments differ in several ways from the traditional methods for mask validation, such as filtration efficiency of latex particles. As is apparent from the neck gaiter study, liquid filtration (and subsequent particle size reduction) is more relevant than solid filtration. In addition, our method could inform attempts to improve training on proper mask use and help validate approaches to make existing masks reusable.
In summary, our measurements provide a quick and cost-effective way to estimate the efficacy of masks for retaining droplets emitted during speech for droplet sizes larger than 0.5 μm. Our proof-of-principle experiments only involved a small number of speakers, but our setup can serve as a base for future studies with a larger cohort of speakers and checks of mask performance under a variety of conditions that affect the droplet emission rate, like different speakers, volume of speech (15), speech patterns (16), and other effects. This method can also test masks under other conditions, like coughing or sneezing. Improvements to the setup can increase sensitivity, yet testing efficiency during regular breathing will likely require complementing measurements with a conventional particle sizer. A further area of interest is the comparison of mask performance between solid particles and droplets, motivated by the observed liquid droplet breakup in the neck gaiter and mask saturation by droplets, necessitating exchange in regular clinical practice.
MATERIALS AND METHODSThe optical setup we used was recently used to demonstrate expulsion of liquid droplets during speech and for characterization of droplet residence times in air (1, 2). A schematic of the setup is shown in Fig. 1. In short, a light sheet was shined through an enclosure, where light scattering from particles traversing the light sheet was detected with the camera. To form the light sheet, a cylindrical lens transformed a green laser beam into an elliptical profile, which was directed through the enclosure. The laser source was a scientific pump laser (Millennia, Spectra-Physics; power, 2 W; wavelength, 532 nm), but suitable green lasers of similar powers are available for less than U.S. $100; the scientific lasers have better specifications (higher beam pointing and intensity stability, better beam profile), but these advantages are irrelevant in this application. The light sheet at the center of the enclosure had a thickness of 4.4 mm and a vertical size of 78 mm (Gaussian 1/e2 intensity beam widths). The enclosure (length by width by height: 30 cm by 30 cm by 35 cm) was constructed out of (or lined with) black material to minimize stray light. The sides of the box had slits for entry and exit of the light sheet. The front of the box had an 18-cm-diameter hole for the speaker, large enough for a person wearing a mask to speak into the box but small enough to prevent the face (or mask) from reaching the light sheet. To clear droplets from the box between experiments, laminar air from a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter was continuously fed into the box from above through a duct with a cross section of 25 cm by 25 cm. The supplied air was being expelled through the light sheet slits and the speaker hole. A slight positive pressure in the box cleared droplets and prevented dust from entering into the box from outside. On the back of the box, a cell phone (Samsung Galaxy S9) was mounted at a distance of 20 cm from the light sheet. Using the Android application ''open camera,'' the frame size was set to 1920 — 1080 pixels, the focal distance was set to 20 cm, the exposure time was set to 1/50 s, and the frame rate was set to 30/s. At this focal distance, each camera pixel recorded an area of 120 μm by 120 μm at the position of the light sheet.
For each trial, the camera recorded scattered light from particles in the laser beam before the speech (~10 s), during speech (~10 s), and for a period of droplet clearing (~20 s). The speech consisted of five repetitions of the phrase ''Stay healthy, people,'' spoken by a male test person with a strong voice but without shouting. Each trial was repeated 10 times, and the speaker drank a sip of water in between to avoid dehydration. Furthermore, for the masks that showed substantial amounts of detected particles (knitted, cotton, neck gaiter, and bandana), we conducted additional tests by repeatedly puffing air from a bulb through the masks, rather than speech from an experimenter. These control trials with air puffs confirmed that we recorded droplets emitted by the speaker, not dust from the masks.
The goal of the analysis is to compare the efficacy of different masks by estimating the total transmitted droplet count. Toward this end, we need to identify droplets in the video and discriminate between droplets and background or noise. For convenience, analysis of the videos was performed with ''Mathematica'' (Wolfram Research), but use of a commercial package does not pose any general restriction, since almost every high-level programming language (e.g., Python) offers the same functionality. From all videos, we removed a weak background that originated from the light sheet itself and from stray light and diffuse reflections from the experimenter's face. We then binarized all frames with a common threshold that discriminates between scattered light from droplets and background signal and/or noise. Then, a feature detection algorithm is applied to each frame, which returns the center-of-mass positions and major axis and minor axis length of the best-fit ellipse for every droplet. Note that the major and minor axes returned by the algorithm are not a direct measure of the droplet size but a measurement of the amount of light scattered by the particle into the camera aperture (binary diameter). Furthermore, the major axis length is increased owing to particle motion during the camera exposure time. Because of the small dynamic range of the camera (8-bit), most droplets saturate the camera. However, the axis lengths returned by the algorithm can still be used for a qualitative droplet size estimation: A bigger droplet scatters more light than a smaller droplet. This insight is important to interpret the result of the neck gaiter. The neck gaiter has a larger transmission (110%; see Fig. 3A) than the control trial. We attribute this increase to the neck gaiter dispersing larger droplets into several smaller droplets, therefore increasing the droplet count. The histogram of the binary diameter for the neck gaiter supports this theory (see fig. S5).
If a droplet passes through the light sheet in a time shorter than the inverse frame rate, it will appear only in a single video frame. However, if the droplet spends more time in the light sheet, the droplet will appear in multiple frames. To avoid double counting droplets in consecutive frames, we use a basic algorithm to distinguish between single-frame particles and multiframe trajectories. The algorithm compares the distance between droplets in consecutive frames and assigns two droplets to a trajectory if their distance is smaller than a threshold value or counts them as individual droplets if their distance is larger than the threshold. The threshold value was empirically chosen to be 40 pixels. An example result of the algorithm is shown in fig. S6, which shows a projection of 10 consecutive frames. Every droplet recognized by the algorithm is highlighted by an ellipsoid, labeled with the frame number. Droplets that belong to the same trajectory are highlighted in the same color.
View/request a protocol for this paper from Bio-protocol.
REFERENCES AND NOTES'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µAdvice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19, WHO Reference Number: WHO/2019-nCov/IPC_Masks/2020.4 (World Health Organization, 2020).
'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µ'†µG. Gouesbet, G. Gr(C)han, Generalized Lorenz-Mie Theories (Springer International Publishing, ed. 2, 2017).
'†µL. Zhong, P. Konda, M. Harfouche, R. Horstmeyer, Imaging and Applied Optics (Optical Society of America, 2019).
'†µ'†µAcknowledgments: We thank Mathias Fischer for providing the sketch in
Fig. 1 and S. Eriksson and J. Lindale for valuable discussions.
Funding: This project has been made possible in part by grant number 2019-198099 from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative DAF, an advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and internal funding from Duke University through the Advanced Light Imaging and Spectroscopy (ALIS) facility.
Author contributions: M.C.F. and E.P.F. performed the experiments, D.G. performed the data analysis, I.H. and E.W. procured the masks, and W.S.W. provided expertise. M.C.F supervised the project. All authors were involved in data interpretation and manuscript preparation.
Competing interests: A U.S. provisional patent application has been filed by Duke University on 12 June 2020. The authors of the current manuscript are identical to the inventors on the patent application. The patent information is as follows: Title: ''Optical Method to Test Efficacy of Face Masks''; inventors: M.C.F., E.P.F., D.G., W.S.W., I.H., and E.W.; application number: 63/038331. The authors declare that they have no other competing interests.
Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors. All raw movie files are freely available at the Duke Research Data Repository at
Copyright (C) 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).
2020: The year of the great reset, Wealth & Investing - THE BUSINESS TIMES
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:30
Regrettable events notwithstanding, the year deserves to be recognised for being the harbinger of change that will mark this decade
THE year 2020 has been much maligned as one we want to forget. The regrettable events of the year notwithstanding, the year deserves to be recognised for being the harbinger of change and the trigger for the great reset that will mark this decade.
The final weeks of this momentous year has been marked by a welcome boost to market sentiment, riding on the tail of a slew of recent positive vaccine developments; easing uncertainty over the US presidential election outcomes and rising expectations of a US fiscal package.
Our view is that 2021 will be a year of economic recovery, despite near-term headwinds from surging new Covid-19 cases in some parts of the world and waning global economic momentum. Global central banks remain committed to ultra-loose monetary policy and continued fiscal support for the nascent recovery.
These reflationary forces form a conducive backdrop, but investors will need to recognise the new realities caused by significant resets in three key areas.
Economic reset: Beyond shots in the arm
Breakthroughs in vaccine developments against Covid-19 and fast-tracked approvals in countries such as the UK have powered capital markets and risky assets to record levels since early November.
The capital market is not an honest mirror of today's reality, but reflects an alternate reality viewed through lenses of investor expectations.
With cumulative vaccine manufacturing capacity of an estimated eight billion doses by end-2021, the unprecedented global race by pharmaceutical firms, various positive results at trials, government support and the willingness of regulators to reduce red-tape and fast-track approvals, optimism appears justified.
Vaccines and government policies are mere shots in the arm for the world economy and markets.
The dark reality is this. Will the headline gross domestic product (GDP) growth figures and record stock market valuations mask the uneven nature of this recovery, and will the massive stimulus packages filter down to improve livelihoods?
Structural unemployment due to the obsolescence of entire industries or a shift in business models is a real and present threat, once the fast-forward button has been pressed.
The onus on governments around the world will be to recalibrate economic models to respond to the transformative impact of 2020.
Geo-political reset: China & Asia's ascent
The rise of Asia, driven by China, is one of the most powerful forces reshaping the world economy and geopolitics today. China's rapid rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic puts it in pole position to lead the global economic recovery with over 8 per cent growth in 2021.
The country's bruising experience over the past four years during the Trump administration over US tariffs and restrictions on its technology sector has accelerated its pursuit of self-sufficiency in key sectors.
Emphasis in its 14th Five-Year Plan on quality growth, innovation, market reform and its "dual-circulation" strategy bode well for industry pillars that support clean and renewable energy, domestic consumption, high-end industrials, Internet and "new infrastructure".
China's strategic intent to crack open its gates to international investors (which started 20 years ago) saw a renewed sense of urgency in 2020.
This was ostensibly sparked by a confluence of factors including escalating US-China relations, and rising hurdles in Chinese companies' access to US capital markets.
Liberalisation of foreign ownership requirements of financial institutions and access to China capital markets were announced this year.
Chinese government bonds (CGBs) will likely be added to the benchmark FTSE World Government Bond Index (WGBI) starting October 2021, and estimated buying by global bond fund managers who track the index is around US$120 billion of CGBs.
Linkages to China via Stock Connect and Bond Connect were extended to Wealth Management Connect, a cross-boundary wealth management connect pilot scheme, for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).
Individual residents of GBA cities can invest Southbound in eligible wealth management products distributed by HK and Macao banks, while a reciprocal Northbound channel allows HK and Macao residents with designated investment accounts to invest in wealth management products from China banks.
Watershed year for ESG
2020 was a wake-up call for the world to address the climate crisis, which is a known unknown for the world.
To stabilise global temperatures and avoid the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that net carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to zero by around 2050.
Successful and rapid decarbonisation of the world economy can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century - the ultimate target of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The shift that institutional investors have made into sustainable and environmental, social & governance (ESG) investing will likely gather momentum in the wealth management area, with tailwinds from intergenerational wealth transfer in wealth management and the regulatory impetus that has commenced in Europe.
The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (2019) reported assets under management (AUM) of over US$30 trillion, managed according to responsible investment criteria worldwide in 2018.
Today, next-generation and millennial investors are more inclined to allocate investments with ESG considerations.
Our Sustainability Made Simple report, which was developed in partnership with EY, cited a 2019 survey which revealed that millennial investors' interest in social impact investing had risen to 95 per cent, a 9 per cent increase from 2017.
Investment implications: The zero fix
As we move into 2021, broad-based economic recovery, supportive macro policies, weaker US dollar and a lower rate environment support our risk-on asset allocation decision. We are overweight on equities, particularly in Asia ex-Japan on positive fundamental and technical factors.
Investment opportunities in beneficiaries of structural shifts accelerated by the pandemic (such as digitalisation innovation and online consumption) remain attractive, as well as companies exposed to a cyclical recovery and resumption of economic activity on positive vaccine developments.
We have been overweight on emerging markets (EM) fixed income in 2020 and remain positive on Asian high yield with a preference for China credit, which is supported by valuations and the relative weight of China in credit benchmarks.
With interest rates pinned at ultra-low levels, we see limited capacity for nominal government bonds to offer a buffer against sharp drawdowns in risk assets within portfolios. Investors will need to seek alternative ways to increase portfolio resilience, including allocating to precious metals, hedge funds, private equity, and private debt.
While income expectations need to be reset lower, we expect the hunt for yield to drive demand for emerging market high-yield bonds, selected Singapore real estate investment trusts (Reits), and steady dividend payers in equities. Overall, we emphasise maintaining a well-diversified portfolio with adequate cash buffers, focused on strong equity fundamentals and sound credit quality in bonds.
Finally, the rising severity of the climate crisis and ESG considerations by investors will prompt interest in sustainable investing.
Intensifying efforts by governments worldwide to enforce sustainable economic reforms and enhance incentives for decarbonisation will benefit industries and companies that support decarbonisation efforts and focus on generating profits with an eye on its purpose.
The writer is the chief investment officer and head of portfolio management and research office at Bank of Singapore
Australia Scraps Vaccine After HIV False Positives
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:10
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) '-- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that his government won't rush approval of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine because he wants people to have confidence in the product.
His comments come as Australian researchers said they were abandoning their own potential vaccine because it produced false positive results to HIV tests.
Morrison said Australia was in a different position to Britain, which has given emergency approval to the Pfizer roll out, and the United States, where a government advisory panel has endorsed the Pfizer vaccine.
''We want to ensure that Australians '' and I think all of us feel very strongly this way '-- have '... absolute full confidence that when it gets the tick, they can get the jab,'' Morrison said.
''They can make that decision for themselves and for their families confidently,'' he added.
Australia has 47 active COVID-19 cases, with 36 of those people in hospitals. The pandemic has claimed 908 lives in Australia.
UK Requires 'Resuscitation Facilities' at Corona Vaccine Centres After Allergic Reactions https://t.co/tFXLaNE3ab
'-- Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 9, 2020
Australia ''has a front-row seat'' observing the roll out in Britain and the United States and would learn from the overseas experiences, particularly through a data-sharing agreement with London, Morrison said.
The government expects the Australian regulator to approve the vaccine produced jointly by Pfizer and BioNTech by late January. The Australian roll out was expected to be underway by March.
Australia has an agreement for 10 million Pfizer doses and will have an option to buy more for its 26 million people if supplies allow.
Australian researchers announced Friday they had abandoned development of a potential vaccine because the false positive results to HIV tests undermined public confidence.
The University of Queensland state vaccine that was to be manufactured at Australian biopharmaceutical company CSL's Melbourne headquarters had proven safe and produced a ''robust response'' to COVID-19 during Phase One trials, researchers said in a statement
But the researchers and the government had agreed not to proceed further because of the false positive HIV result due to a protein contained in the potential vaccine.
''All the evidence suggested it would be an effective vaccine, but we cannot risk public confidence. We just can't,'' Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy told reporters.
Under an agreement with the Australian government, 51 million University of Queensland vaccine doses manufactured by CSL were to be available to Australians from the middle of 2021.
It was one of five potential vaccines on which the Australian government had signed contracts with developers in deals worth 3.3 billion Australian dollars ($2.4 billion).
Its failure was a major blow to Australian vaccination plans to become self-sufficient.
Only one other, the University of Oxford vaccine, would be manufactured in Australia. It would be produced by CSL in partnership with British-Swedish multinational biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
As a result of the Queensland candidate´s failure, Australia plans to increase its planned production and purchase of AstraZeneca vaccine from 33.8 million to 53.8 million doses and its order for Maryland-based Novavax´s vaccine from 40 million to 51 million doses, Morrison said.
Murphy said the increase in government´s order for the potential AstraZeneca vaccine would mean that Australia could manufacture enough doses for its entire population.
''Onshore manufacturing is a very precious thing in terms of getting good access over the course of next year,'' Murphy said.
Morrison was speaking after his first face-to-face meeting with Australian state leaders since the pandemic began.
The so-called National Cabinet has been meeting at least once a month since March via video because of the infection risk and pandemic bans on travel across some state borders.
But the risk and pandemic restrictions have been largely relaxed across the country with the dwindling number of cases.
Only Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan did not attend the National Cabinet meeting in the national capital Canberra in person to avoid contact with his South Australian counterpart Steven Marshall.
South Australians are banned from Western Australia and McGowan would have had to go into quarantine for two weeks on his return home if he had been in the same room as someone who had recently visited South Australia.
The Western Australia-South Australia border will open on Saturday to travellers who are willing to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine in the western state, which last recorded a case of community transmission of the virus on April 11.
Pfizer Vaccine Docs Hacked by Cyber-attackers at EU Medicines Agency https://t.co/WlnaCdaFhc
'-- Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 10, 2020
Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London
Australia Cancels COVID Vaccine Trial Over 'Unexpected' False Positives For HIV
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:08
The Australian government has canceled further development of a COVID-19 vaccine after several trial participants had false positive tests for HIV. The vaccine was being developed by the University of Queensland, while Australian biotech company CSL Limited had been under contract to provide 51 million doses. The vaccine had been on schedule for mid-2021, with phase two and three clinical trials due to commence in December.
On Friday, however, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the "University of Queensland vaccine will not be able to proceed based on the scientific advice, and that will no longer feature as part of Australia's vaccine plan," adding "I think the decision we've made today should give Australians great assurance that we are proceeding carefully, we are moving swiftly, but not with any undue haste here."
"Our processes will not be compromised. At the end of the day, the Therapeutic Goods Administration '' like with any vaccine in Australia '' must give their tick-off. Without the tick, there's no jab when it comes to vaccines in this country. That is true for the Covid-19 vaccine, as it is true for any other vaccine that is administered here in Australia," Morrison added.
The vaccine was one of four secured by the Australian government, which will now turn its focus to the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as Pfizer's.
The Government will now look to the AstraZeneca vaccine for Australians.
'-- 10 News First (@10NewsFirst) December 10, 2020CSL said in a Friday statement that "following consultation with the Australian government, CSL will not progress the vaccine candidate to phase 2/3 clinical trials."
According to Australia's 10 News, the decision to drop the University of Queensland vaccine was over fears that the false positive results would scare Australians away from the vaccine, despite the fact that patients had not actually contracted the disease.
The now-canceled vaxx focused on the COVID-19 "spike protein" using 'molecular clamp technology' to lock the protein into a shape which the human immune system can identify and neutralize. To ensure an immune response, the clamp chosen to trick the immune system into attacking includes two fragments of a protein found in HIV, which by themselves do not pose a threat.
Trial participants were advised of the possibility that vaccine-induced HIV antibodies might be detected as a result, but it was nonetheless unexpected. Subsequent HIV tests provided definitive negative results in the trial participants.
While the HIV tests were false positives and there was no risk to the trial participants, significant changes would need to be made to well-established HIV testing procedures to accommodate rollout of this vaccine, the researchers said. The Phase 1 trial will continue, where further analysis of the data will show how long the antibodies persist. -The Guardian
Professor Paul Young, co-lead researcher on the vaccine, said that it would be possible to re-engineer it to avoid false positives but there wasn't enough time. "Doing so would set back development by another 12 or so months, and while this is a tough decision to take, the urgent need for a vaccine has to be everyone's priority," he said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said that while the HIV test results were false, "the scientific advice is that the risk to vaccine confidence was the principal issue here."
Australia, meanwhile, has secured contracts for 140 million doses of vaccine, "one of the highest ratios of vaccine purchases and availability to population in the world" according to Hunt, who added "What we can do is vaccinate our population twice over."
Australia Cancels Order for CSL Vaccine as Trial Stumbles - Bloomberg
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:08
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Want to See the Future of Digital Health Tools? Look to Germany.
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 16:01
A new law will make it easier to introduce and determine the benefits of new tools. Perhaps its most important provisions are its formalization of ''prescribable applications,'' which include standard software, SaaS, and mobile as well as browser-based apps, and the creation of the Fast-Track Process, an accelerated regulatory path for companies to take their digital health applications to market. With at least 50 apps currently already in the Fast-Track process and hundreds expected over the coming years from manufacturers worldwide, evaluation studies will create a wealth of data on how digital tools for remote patient care work in practice, which other payers and health systems can learn from. They will also be valuable in convincing health care providers '-- for whom evidence is of paramount importance '-- of the value of digital tools, both generally and in particular use cases.
In late 2019, Germany's parliament passed the Digital Healthcare Act (Digitale-Versorgung-Gesetz, or DVG) '-- an ambitious law designed to catalyze the digital transformation of the German health care system, which has historically been a laggard in that area among peer countries. It is already leading to meaningful changes and will be a boon to the development and evaluation of digital health tools as well as the generation of insights into the value they create.
In the immediate wake of the DVG's passage, the Covid-19 pandemic has further underscored the need for safe and effective digital tools to support remote patient monitoring and care delivery worldwide. The timely introduction of the DVG means that Germany is poised to set an example for other countries in seeing what works (and what does not) in the adoption and diffusion of digital technologies for improving patient outcomes.
Perhaps the DVG's most important provisions are its formalization of ''prescribable applications'' (Digitale Gesundheitsanwendungen, or DiGA), which include standard software, SaaS, and mobile as well as browser-based apps, and the creation of the Fast-Track Process, an accelerated regulatory path for companies to take their digital health applications to market. Following a streamlined review, an app can be added to a central registry of apps that can be prescribed by physicians and psychotherapists and will be reimbursed by all of Germany's statutory health insurance providers, which cover 90% of the population, or roughly 73 million individuals. The Fast-Track Process is run by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut f¼r Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte, or BfArM), which plays many of the same roles in Germany that the FDA does in the United States); BfArM also maintains the DiGA registry. The first five apps have already been added to the registry and offer support for patients to manage conditions including tinnitus, obesity, agoraphobia, osteoarthritis, and insomnia.
Insight CenterDVG promises to provide a standard care environment for manufacturers of new digital health tools to evaluate pricing strategies and understand how digital health applications fit into health care practice and patients' everyday routines. The importance of such a major country mandating that all insurers have to pay for digital health apps is hard to overstate. (In the United States and other countries, it's still unclear to manufacturers of digital health products who will pay for their offering.)
Entry to this market by digital health firms is, of course, not without legal and regulatory barriers. In order to be listed and remain in the DiGA registry and qualify for reimbursement by health insurers, an app must fulfill various requirements. These include data protection, information security, interoperability, and preliminary data on the benefits that the app provides. Furthermore, the app must already be CE-certified as medical products in one of the EU's two lowest-risk classes (I or IIa).
If an app fulfills these requirements and provides evidence of its benefit (''positive care effects'' associated with use), it can be listed directly. Otherwise, the app must demonstrate evidence of its benefits within 12 months of being added to the registry. This may be the demonstration of either a medical benefit (such as reduced duration of a disease) or patient-related improvements to structure and process of the health care system (such as an increase in patient adherence to a treatment program or improved health literacy). This incremental approach will prove especially valuable for smaller firms and startups, which frequently lack the funding to develop a certified medical product, deal with regulatory proceedings, and fund a large-scale scientific evaluation upfront.
With at least 50 apps currently already in the Fast-Track process and hundreds expected over the coming years from manufacturers worldwide, evaluation studies will create a wealth of data on how digital tools for remote patient care work in practice, which other payers and health systems can learn from. They will also be valuable in convincing health care providers '-- for whom evidence is of paramount importance '-- of the value of digital tools, both generally and in particular use cases.
So what should health care decision-makers be looking out for? In addition to the evidence of digital health apps' benefits, it will be important to see how they stack up in terms of their acceptance by both the medical community and patients as a new element of standard care. If payers in the United States and other countries see that digital tools generate value, they may be more open to paying for them or be better able to articulate under what circumstances such products would be paid for.
The use of real world data for studying digital health apps will likely present both a challenge and an opportunity. (The FDA defines real world data as ''data relating to patient health status and/or the delivery of health care routinely collected from a variety of sources'' such as electronic health records, medical claims and billing data, data from product and disease registries, and patient-generated data.) Its use will be a challenge because the gold standard for regulatory decisions about new health care products has historically been data from randomized controlled trials. In contrast, in evaluating digital health apps, Germany's regulatory framework paves the way for the use of real world evidence (the clinical evidence regarding the usage and potential benefits or risks of a medical product derived from analysis of real world data). Regulators such as the FDA have acknowledged the increasingly important role that real world data and evidence are already beginning to play in clinical studies, coverage decisions, and ongoing product monitoring, although best practices for manufacturers are only beginning to be established.
However, the opportunity to learn a great deal and to do so quickly and on an ongoing basis is an exciting feature of using real world evidence that cannot be provided by traditional randomized controlled trials. This represents a major opportunity for all health care decision makers '-- clinicians, regulators, policy makers, payers, product firms, and patients '-- to make more informed and more nimble decisions regarding which products to use and when. Moreover, the German system's performance-based reimbursement provides incentives to assess digital tools on an ongoing basis, which will generate data far beyond the one-time results derived from traditional studies.
In the longer term, digital apps' prices will be determined by their clinical performance, with real world evidence expected to play a key role in demonstrating effectiveness.
As Germany evaluates new digital tools, it will inevitably spur the generation of a wealth of evidence that will shape the post-Covid-19 digital health ecosystem worldwide. We believe Germany's approach can be a model for other Western health care systems that are looking to open up their systems for digital innovation.
More Than 2 Dozen Texas Places Have 'Negro' In Their Names Despite A 1991 Law : NPR
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:57
A map of Texas is displayed on a parking spot at the Old Glory Memorial in El Paso, Texas, last year. Adria Malcolm/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Adria Malcolm/Bloomberg via Getty Images A map of Texas is displayed on a parking spot at the Old Glory Memorial in El Paso, Texas, last year.
Adria Malcolm/Bloomberg via Getty Images Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET
Editor's note: This is a story about the pervasive nature of racial insensitivity in America and how it persists to this day, and contains terms some might find offensive.
In 1991, Texas passed a law to remove the word "Negro" from its place names. But today, over two dozen geographic places in the state '-- think creeks, valleys and other small features '-- still have the word in their names.
That's because the federal government blocked the name changes.
In almost 30 years, only one of the places mentioned in the bill has been renamed, according to an NPR review. And the most vocal advocates of this law weren't aware the changes had never been made until NPR contacted them earlier this year.
Rodney Ellis, a Harris County commissioner and the bill's sponsor in 1991, said it is time to make sure these place names are changed for good.
"After the George Floyd incident in particular, we're in an era of racial reckoning. We're looking at a lot of wrongs that we just ignored and oftentimes perpetrated for decades, for centuries," Ellis said, referring to the death of Black man at the hands of police in May that tipped off nationwide protests.
"We're really trying to see what we can do to be more inclusive and make everybody feel a part of the fabric of America. And that's why it's important to get rid of those old racially offensive terms."
Why weren't the names changed?
Scattered across the state, there are places named "Negro Bend," "Negro Hollow" and "Negrohead Bluff," among others. The 1991 bill sought to ban the word from all Texas geographic features, listing 19 examples.
The places were to be renamed after African Americans who made significant contributions to the state.
But the federal board in charge said no.
It turns out that states do not have the authority to officially rename their geographic features. That authority lies with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which is part of the Department of Interior.
The state submitted proposals for each of the places it identified. But the proposals were rejected because they did not have a historical connection to the geography they would name, USBGN researcher Jennifer Runyon said.
And there was no evidence of county support or input, she said, which the board takes seriously when renaming features.
"We spent a lot of time reaching out to the counties," she said, "and a lot of them said, 'No, don't change those names. And we were not consulted.' "
One by one, each proposal was dismissed.
And the board didn't revisit them. It doesn't seek out names to change '-- it simply reacts to proposals, Runyon said.
That isn't acceptable, said Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe, one of the most vocal and active supporters of the legislation before it was passed.
"Negro is still offensive. It's outrageous," he said. "Offensive names have no place in the public domain."
He said many of the places were named haphazardly with racist overtones. Those names don't carry historic value either, he added.
Bledsoe, who spent years advocating against these place names, did not know the changes were never made.
He and Ellis both thought that once then-Texas Gov. Ann Richards signed the bill into law in 1991, the issue was resolved, until NPR contacted them for this story.
Harris County, where Ellis lives and works, houses Negrohead Lake. The lake was listed in the bill, but the federal board rejected the plan to rename it because the board "did not observe any evidence that there was any local involvement in the renaming process."
He said he's making it a priority now to push to get the names changed.
"We are writing to express our serious concerns with the numerous racially offensive names of creeks, rivers, cliffs and other geographic features in Texas," Ellis and state Rep. Ron Reynolds said in a Nov. 16 letter to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Geographic Names Committee.
"Given the current moment in our history and our collective efforts to reconcile a racist past, now is the time to change these names and I hope that we can work with both of your offices to do so," the two stated in the letter.
By early December, Ellis' office has not received a response, but both departments confirmed that they received the email.
A transportation department spokesperson said the department will research the bill and set up a meeting with Ellis and Reynolds at another date.
'A sign of disrespect'
The term "Negro" has a complicated history. The way Black communities identify '' and the way the U.S. government identifies them '' has shifted over time. While it was once used as a common descriptor in the U.S., many people today find the term antiquated and offensive.
Using the word "Negro" for place names like these isn't appropriate, said Minkah Makalani, an associate professor of African and African Diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
"It's an outdated word that didn't really identify anything. And so if you think about the history of the enslavement of Africans in the Americas, it is part of the process of stripping away history," Makalani said.
"From my perspective, to maintain for place names the word Negro '-- it could be a sign of disrespect," he added. "It could be a sign of wanting to maintain a set of relationships from a bygone era."
Ellis said he believed the place names today could cause divisions in the community and promote outdated and prejudiced views.
He considers the term in today's context to be a slur.
Approved name changes
Only one of the 19 places mentioned in the 1991 bill was eventually changed to the proposed name. That didn't happen until 2018, according to federal records.
In Montgomery County, a property developer requested that the legislature's name change be made official. The federal board honored his request and Negro Pond became Emancipation Pond.
The board has granted other similar small-scale requests. One of the more alarming examples in the state was an area located in northwest Texas named Dead Negro Draw.
The board approved a proposal in April this year from Garza County Judge Lee Norman to rename the area Buffalo Soldier Draw.
Runyon, from the federal board, said this proposal went through easily because it had historical context and came from the county judge.
The process can be straightforward, if local communities put forward the proposals, Runyon said.
A federal push to change many place names?
Across the U.S., there are at least 600 geographic features with "Negro" in the names, according to a search on U.S. Geological Survey's website. It's worth noting that "negro" is the Spanish word for the color black, and some of these do not appear to have a racial meaning. And some are structures still bearing segregation-era names, such as historical schools.
There are 26 places in Texas listed on the federal database with the term in their names, not counting names that are in Spanish.
There are also at least 800 places with the term Squaw, and dozens with Asian pejoratives, a search of the USGS website shows.
"It's past time to change many of these offensive names," U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland told NPR. "All visitors to our public lands deserve to feel welcome."
The Democrat from New Mexico introduced a bill called the Reconciliation in Place Names Act in the House at the end of September to address racially offensive names. The bill calls for the "review and revise offensive names of Federal land units" and for an advisory board to be established.
She said these place names effectively "restrict access to certain groups of people."
Her bill says the federal board's current process "[is] time-consuming, lacks transparency and public involvement, and fails to address the scope and breadth of inappropriate place names." It proposes a more proactive approach, seeking out and changing these names without the need for a proposal.
There's a precedent for widespread name changes in the U.S. The board changed all mentions of the N-word in geographic place names to Negro in 1963 and substituted Japanese for the racial slur "Jap" in 1974.
Ellis said he was pleased to see Haaland's bill emerge. He said if it hadn't, he would have worked to get similar legislation introduced.
"To change the name would mean we're moving away from those racially offensive terms," he said, "that were a throwback to our dark prejudiced racist pasts."
Reese Oxner is an intern on NPR's News Desk.
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Hunter Biden raked in $6m over nine months from his Chinese business dealings | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:08
Hunter Biden raked in $6m over nine months from his Chinese business dealings according to a timeline of his affairs which goes into unprecedented detail.
Joe Biden's son was involved with a series of transactions which were flagged for 'potential financial criminal activity', a Senate report has revealed.
The money included a $5m payment from a Chinese energy company with ties to the Communist party and $1m for work with an associate who was later jailed for bribery.
The payments began days after Hunter sent his infamous email to one associate in 2017 talking about money for 'the big guy' and deals for 'me and my family'.
The report concludes that Hunter's business associates were 'linked to the Communist government and the People's Liberation Army'.
It states: 'Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow'.
The report prepared by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, which was first reported by Fox News, comes as Hunter revealed that authorities in Delaware are investigating his tax affairs.
Hunter Biden raked in $6m over nine months from his Chinese business dealings according to a timeline of his affairs which goes into unprecedented detail
Joe Biden's son was involved with a series of transactions which were flagged for 'potential financial criminal activity', a Senate report has revealed
He said that he was convinced he acted 'legally' but the inquiry is one of many legal investigations into his affairs.
According to Politico, federal prosecutors in Washington and New York are also looking into possible securities fraud and money laundering by the troubled 50-year-old, who has battled drug and alcohol addiction.
The Senate report focuses on Hunter's work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects.
CEFC's founder and former chairman Ye Jianming gave Hunter a 2.8-carat diamond after a business meeting in Miami, CNN has reported.
2015: The start of Hunter and CEFC's relationship
The Senate report timeline starts in 2015 when Hunter's relationship with Ye and associate Gongwen Dong began - while his father was still Vice President
The report states: 'Ye's connections to the Communist government are extensive and ... Ye was also financially connected to Vice President Biden's brother, James Biden.
'Thus, there exists a vast web of corporate connections and financial transactions between and among the Biden family and Chinese nationals'.
CEFC's founder and former chairman Ye Jianming (pictured) gave Hunter a 2.8-carat diamond after a business meeting in Miami, CNN has reported
The Senate report timeline starts in 2015 when Hunter's relationship with Ye and associate Gongwen Dong began - while his father was still Vice President The report states: 'Ye's connections to the Communist government are extensive and ... Ye was also financially connected to Vice President Biden's brother, James Biden. 'Thus, there exists a vast web of corporate connections and financial transactions between and among the Biden family and Chinese nationals'
April 2016: Hunter sets up a new business
Hunter incorporated his business Hudson West III which would prove to be the main route for payments from China.
At some point later the ownership was divided between Hunter's law firm Owasco PC and Coldharbour Capital LLC, each with a 50% stake.
The ownership of Coldharbour was split between two individuals, Mervyn Yan and Tian Zhang, but it has a business address identified as the address of Gongwen, suggesting closer ties than would appear.
Gongwen was a signer on one of Hunter West III's checking accounts, which suggests at one point he was 'associated with Hudson West III's bank accounts and finances'.
The Biden-Harris transition team put out a statement Wednesday from Hunter Biden and President-elect Joe Biden, in which Hunter Biden revealed he was under federal investigation for his taxes
May 2017: Emails show Hunter arranging a deal
Previous reports in the New York Post based on emails found on Hunter's laptop have identified this period as crucial in his negotiations for a deal with CEFC.
One report stated that on May 13 2017 James Gilliar of the international consulting firm J2cR sent Hunter an email which identified the President-elect's son as 'Chair / Vice Chair depending on agreement with CEFC'.
The email was titled 'expectations' and appeared to be agreeing terms to compensate Hunter.
The deal listed '10 Jim' and '10 held by H for the big guy?' - neither party was identified but Hunter's critics have speculated it was his father.
An August 2nd 2017 email chain involving Biden worked out further terms.
Biden wrote: 'The chairman (Ye) changed that deal after we me[t] in MIAMI TO A MUCH MORE LASTING AND LUCRATIVE ARRANGEMENT to create a holding company 50% percent (sic]) owned by ME and 50% owned by him.
'Consulting fees is one piece of our income stream but the reason this proposal by the chairman was so much more interesting to me and my family is that we would also be partners inn (sic) the equity and profits of the JV's (joint venture's) investments'.
August 2017: The money begins to flow
On August 4th, CEFC Infrastructure Investment (US) LLC, a subsidiary of Ye's company, sent $100,000 to Owasco, Hunter's law company.
On August 8th the same subsidiary sent $5m to Hudson West III.
The report stated: 'These funds may have originated from a loan issued from the account of a company called Northern International Capital Holdings, a Hong Kong-based investment company identified at one time as a 'substantial shareholder' in CEFC International Limited along with Ye. It is unclear whether Hunter Biden was half-owner of Hudson West III at that time'.
The same day Hudson West III began sending 'frequent payments' to Owasco, his law firm.
The payments continued for more than a year and were described as 'consulting fees', the report said, and totalled $4,790,375.25.
Target: Hunter Biden said Wednesday that he was the subject of a federal investigation into his taxes. The probe was started in 2018 but paused for the election
September 8 2017: Credit cards issued - and spending spree begins
CEFC announced a $9.1bn deal to buy a stake in Russian state-owned energy company Rosneft.
That same day Hunter opened a line of credit with Gongwen under the name of his business, Hudson West III.
Hunter Biden, his uncle James Biden and James Biden's wife, Sara Biden were approved as 'authorized users of credit cards associated with the account'.
That same day they spent more than $100,000 on airline tickets, technology products and hotel rooms, transactions that were flagged for 'potential financial criminal activity', the report said.
Hunter moves money to his uncle James Biden
The report says that during this period there were large sums of money moved between Hunter and James Biden.
From August 14th 2017 to August 3rd 2018, $1.4m was moved from Owasco to James Biden's Lion Hall Group consulting firm.
March 22 2018: Hunter gets another $1m
The next important date for Hunter was March 22nd 2018 when he was paid $1m for work related to Patrick Ho Chi Ping.
He ran an organization backed by CEFC and was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for paying millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Chad and Uganda.
The $1m was transferred from Hudson West to Owasco with the memo line: 'Dr Patrick Ho Chi Ping Representation'.
The report states: 'These transactions illustrate the financial connections between Gongwen Dong's Hudson West III, Ye Jianming's CEFC, and Hunter Biden's Owasco'.
It states: 'Sara Biden told the bank that she would not provide any supporting documentation, and she also refused to provide additional information to more clearly explain the activity.
'Consequently, the bank submitted the account for closure'.
January to October 2018: Vast sums for office expenses for James Biden
Another finding by the report was that Hudson West III sent more than $76,000 directly to James Biden's company from January to October 2018.
The significant sums were labeled 'office expense and reimbursement'.
Vice president's son was well-known to be seeking business deals in China. He traveled there in 2013 on Air Force Two and introduced his father to a business partner, Jonathan Li. In 2017, after his father left office, he pursued a relationship with Ye Jianming
Ye Jianming
Chairman and founder of CEFC China Energy, 43. A wunderkind of the Chinese energy world. Gave Hunter a diamond in 2017 as they pursued a business relationship. But in November 2017 company was accused of bribery in Africa by the DOJ, and in March 2018 he was arrested in China, reportedly on the orders of Xi Jinping. Has not been seen or heard from since but a prosecution in 2018 saw a senior Communist leader accused of taking bribes from him
Zang Jian Jun
Senior executive at CEFC and also a senior figure in the China Chamber of International Commerce
Tony Bobulinski
Penn State wrestler and Navy veteran turned-California businessman, 48, who appears to have done other business in China. Unclear how he and Gilliar know each other. Other business ventures include an investment in a Chinese men's clothing company called VLOV
Rob Walker
Bill Clinton administration official who is now co-founder of a technology-focused private equity firm, Pilot Growth. His wife Betsy Massey Walker was Jill Biden's assistant when she was Second Lady
James Gilliar
British-born 56-year-old businessman based in the Czech Republic. Set up jc2r, the company which is in the emails, in 2015. It is no longer active. Gilliar appears to breed race horses with his wife, Erika and appears to also be an adviser to a holding company run by the leader of Abu Dhabi's son
James Biden
Joe Biden's younger brother and a serial entrepreneur who has long faced claims of profiting from his brother's political career. He and Hunter were in business together in 2006 when they bought investment firm Paradigm Global Advisors which they unwound in 2010 after connections to a Ponzi fraudster emerged
The Chairman and The Big Guy
Said to be Joe Biden in many of the text exchanges although Hunter's messages do not state this directly
Sinister sounds: podcasts are becoming the new medium of misinformation | Podcasting | The Guardian
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 14:31
Show caption Joe Rogan has given a platform to far-right figures and conspiracy theories on his very popular podcast. Photograph: Greg Allen/REX/Shutterstock
PodcastingWhile social networks are clamping down on dangerous content, podcasting is giving it a largely unmoderated platform
Ariel Bogle
Fri 11 Dec 2020 14.00 EST
In the drawn-out aftermath of the US election, Amelia's* dad was losing faith in Fox News. Why wasn't it covering more allegations of voter fraud, he asked. The network was ''a joke''.
And so he turned to alternative sources of information: podcasts like Bannon's War Room, hosted by alt-right figure Steve Bannon, which regularly broadcasts baseless claims about ballot dumps and illegal voters. And an old favourite of his, the rightwing Catholic podcast The Taylor Marshall Show.
In the US, Australia and across the Anglosphere, people regularly spend hours with strangers talking directly into their ears. Around one third of Australian news consumers are reported to be podcast listeners, and indications are that numbers have grown during the pandemic.
Yet the role of podcasts in the information ecosystem has gone largely unexamined. While alt-right figures have been increasingly chased off Facebook and Twitter, podcasting is shaping up as the next arena where the fight over questionable or dangerous content will play out. However, the problem of how to moderate audio content is proving thorny.
Take Bannon's War Room. A November episode of the show was removed from YouTube due to Bannon's violent comments about the leader of the United States' pandemic response, Dr Anthony Fauci, and the FBI director, Christopher Wray: ''I'd put the heads on pikes, right,'' Bannon said. ''I'd put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats.''
But the episode remains accessible on Google Podcasts, which is owned by the same company. And while Bannon was booted off Twitter for the comments and the show appears to have been removed from Spotify, you can still find it on Apple Podcasts and Pocket Casts.
The more Amelia's dad plugged into Bannon's podcast, the more reluctant he was to wear a mask outside '' although Amelia, a student from the US state of Georgia, could sometimes still pressure him to wear one.
''Listening to Steve Bannon and spending more time on Facebook because he's had more time at home due to the pandemic, all of that has shifted him to the right,'' she says. ''It's more extreme than I expected '' than I've ever seen him before.''
Part of the 'disinformation pipeline' Apps such as Apple and Google Podcasts ''are significant gatekeepers'' of what kind of audio content reaches our ears, says Evelyn Douek, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, although they function more as directories for organising and discovering shows than as social networking platforms, and have varying degrees of oversight and control.
A Google spokesperson said Google Podcasts indexes audio available on the web much like Google Search. ''This can include topics and ideas that may be controversial,'' she said. ''Google Podcasts ... only removes podcasts from its index in very rare circumstances, largely guided by local law.''
Podcasts can serve as ''an entry point and a point of legitimation'' for unfounded claims, says Dr Sarah Roberts, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and a moderation expert.
''The net effect is not only to put fake, bogus and debunked claims into the larger public conversation, but to shift the needle entirely on the public's attention and areas of concern,'' she says.
Disinformation and scapegoating: how America's far right is responding to coronavirus As podcasting grows in stature and revenue, its disinformation problem can't be ignored. ''Too many [podcast platforms] have not done the work around content moderation of their bread-and-butter material,'' Roberts says. ''This will undoubtedly serve as a new area of liability.''
Most podcast platforms already have content policies. Apple Podcasts prohibits the promotion of violence. Spotify bans content that incites hatred based on race or gender identity, among other things. But the adequacy of these policies, not to mention if, or how, they are enforced, remains opaque '' especially if the problematic content is espoused by a program guest rather than the host.
It can also be difficult to measure the reach and impact of podcasts that traffic in political or health conspiracies, compared with a Facebook post or a tweet. The tools of swift amplification '' the like, comment or retweet '' aren't quite there.
And programs don't remain in just one place. Like Bannon's War Room, many podcasts also exist as YouTube videos '' in Australia, YouTube is reportedly the most popular podcast platform '' or are hosted on external websites. All of which helps make them another part of the disinformation pipeline.
Having fringe views presented on a major podcast app provides an illusion of authority. But while many of the major podcast platforms do commission programs, much of their content is essentially created by any third party with a mic '' and potentially goes unscrutinised.
Spotify removed four podcasts that promoted the QAnon conspiracy in October after a report from Media Matters, but it's still possible to find shows that deliver QAnon content to listeners on the app, as well as on Apple and Google Podcasts.
Providing 'a pedestal' for questionable views If there is a centre to the fight over podcast moderation, it is The Joe Rogan Experience. Spotify signed the popular podcast, hosted by a former UFC commentator and comedian, in an exclusive deal this year.
Before he joined Spotify, Rogan interviewed far-right figures such as Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos '' who have been banned from YouTube and Facebook respectively for hate speech '' and arguably gave others a big break.
Kish*, a medical worker in Australia, started listening to the show when Rogan still broadcast from what seemed to be his home office. It was intimate, a bit transgressive. ''I felt like the third wheel being able to listen to his conversations he would have with his friends,'' he said.
But he became more critical of how Rogan treated health issues, especially when he thought the show was giving guests ''a pedestal to sell their snake oil''.
''The whole Covid issue really pushed it over the edge,'' he says.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Kish appreciated it when Rogan hosted a respected epidemiologist who spoke about ''simple ways of how to stay safe and outlined how this virus could be devastating to the world''.
But it wasn't long before the narrative changed. ''I feel like it all went out the window when Rogan started speaking out against mask wearers '... [and] against the government for the lockdowns to control and mitigate the spread of the virus.''
During the pandemic, one of Rogan's guests suggested the virus may have been ''enhanced'' and escaped from a lab, and another, the Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, claimed without evidence that hospitals were reporting patients as having Covid-19 for financial gain.
Podcasting's Netflix moment: the global battle for domination In September, Rogan apologised on Instagram for parroting the conspiracy theory that antifa activists were responsible for the wildfires on the US west coast. Perhaps most notoriously, Rogan hosted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for a sprawling three hours in October.
Jones, whose own show had been kicked off Spotify in 2018 under its hate speech policy (it was also removed from Facebook, Apple and YouTube), was given space to broadcast a stream of consciousness about everything from climate change to vaccines, with minimal fact checking.
In the aftermath, as reported by BuzzFeed, Spotify said it would not ban ''specific individuals'' from being guests on other people's shows. The platform, primarily known for music streaming, clearly didn't want to set an interventionist precedent as it made a play for podcasting.
So what should be done? Despite his criticism of Rogan, Kish doesn't think Rogan's show should be moderated or removed, though he says it should be scrutinised. He likes the way Twitter labels tweets by public figures as misinformation, but is unsure where we should draw the line.
''If he still somehow found his content to be moderated, I think the free publicity it would bring to his podcast and notoriety can only contribute to more listeners,'' Kish says of Rogan.
In Amelia's view, removing shows that traffic in disinformation might work, at least for her dad. ''If it wasn't available on YouTube or the Apple Podcast store, or if people weren't posting these videos on Facebook in snippets, then I don't think he would have found it,'' she said. ''I don't think he would have gone to the length of seeking it out.''
But better and more moderation is only a partial answer to a more difficult question. The appeal of Bannon's podcast to Amelia's father arises not only out of his politics, she says, but a loss of trust in public officials and media, and above all, the isolation.
The informality and intimacy of his preferred shows are both their appeal and danger '' the way they talk right to you, tell you what you want to hear.
''For my dad, I think podcasts have tried to fill that void of human interaction,'' she said.
* Surnames have been withheld to protect privacy
Ariel Bogle is a journalist and analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who researches online disinformation.
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Software giant Oracle moving corporate HQ to Austin
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 14:06
Kara Carlson, Lori Hawkins and Bob Sechler | Austin American-Statesman | 5:58 pm CST December 11, 2020
In another win for Central Texas' surging technology sector, software giant Oracle confirmed Friday that it is moving its corporate headquarters from Silicon Valley to Austin.
''Oracle is implementing a more flexible employee work location policy and has changed its Corporate Headquarters from Redwood City, California to Austin, Texas. We believe these moves best position Oracle for growth and provide our personnel with more flexibility about where and how they work,'' the company said in a written statement.
Oracle, the second-largest software company in the world, did not immediately provide a timeline for the formal move, or say how many jobs it might bring to Austin. Oracle's current Austin workforce is estimated at about 2,500 people, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
"While some states are driving away businesses with high taxes and heavy-handed regulations, we continue to see a tidal wave of companies like Oracle moving to Texas thanks to our friendly business climate, low taxes, and the best workforce in the nation," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a written statement.
Abbott's office said the state didn't provide any financial incentives to encourage Oracle's move to Texas.
"Welcome home, Oracle! Austin yet again contributing to economic development in Texas," Austin Mayor Steve Adler wrote on Twitter.
Laura Huffman, president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, called the news a huge ''holiday present for Austin,'' saying the chamber has worked with Oracle in the past but didn't learn about its relocation plans until the company announced the move Friday afternoon.
''I think obviously we can expect to see new jobs in Austin,'' Huffman said. ''Whether or not the chief executive moves to Austin, I think that remains to be seen. But generally, when people announce headquarters, there are a lot of core functions for these large businesses'' that come with them.
The move by Oracle comes on the heels of the July news that Tesla would build a $1.1 billion Austin area manufacturing facility that could employ as many as 5,000 people. It also follows announcements in the past three years of expansion plans by Apple and other technology companies.
Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said Austin is likely to continue to be among the top destinations for technology companies leaving the Silicon Valley, a trend that has increased in recent months amid the pandemic: ''This is a clear trend of more tech stars moving out of the Valley to other locations.
''Austin's front and center. Tesla's led the charge. And it's really becoming a core technology hub, because of the engineering community and a lot of the startups that have succeeded in Austin over the last decade, with many of them coming in at Dell,'' Ives said. ''Austin's really become the Goldilocks location for companies moving out of the Valley."
Austin economist Angelos Angelou called the Oracle news "a huge development for Austin's future."
"It follows the recruitment of Apple and Tesla and other companies that are really going to guarantee Austin a decade of significant growth, the likes of which we've never seen before," he said.
While tech giants '-- including Facebook, Google and Amazon '-- have expanded in Central Texas, for a company to move its corporate headquarters here "is a huge boost to the region's global reputation as a high-tech center," Angelou said.
Oracle relocating to Austin "puts us ahead of the game, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be followed by others. The business climate in Texas compared to California as well as our highly skilled tech talent will keep them coming," he said.
Even if Oracle doesn't move hundreds of workers to Austin immediately, the company will concentrate its hiring future here, resulting in a wave of new talent. Some of those workers will eventually leave to start their own companies, fostering a new wave of startups, he said.
"No matter how many jobs they bring here, it's the corporate headquarters and that's a marquee event," Angelou said. "From an economic development standpoint, this is really fantastic news that's beyond anyone's imagination."
Amber Gunst, CEO of the Austin Technology Council, said Oracle's decision is a big win for Austin.
''This move is a great win for Austin and the incredible team Oracle has built in our community,'' Gunst said in a written statement. ''The level of executive talent that will join the local campus will have a significant influence not only on the growth of Oracle employees, but to other leaders and companies in the tech community through mentorship, sponsorship, and thought leadership,''
Business-friendly policies in Texas helped encourage Oracle to make the move, said Patrick Moorhead, a technology analyst and founder of Austin-based consulting firm Moor Insights and Strategy.
"Texas has fostered a jobs-friendly environment with lower taxes, lower cost of living and less red tape to create and run businesses. California, on the other hand, is headed in a different direction. When you add in an educated Austin population base, the city is a natural destination," Moorhead said.
Moorhead said he also expected the move would result in additional jobs coming to Austin.
"I believe this will translate to increased Austin headcount for Oracle. At a minimum, we will see more HQ staff move to Austin from California," he said.
Waco-based economist Ray Perryman said that as an industry leader, "the fact that Oracle has chosen to headquarter in Austin is further indication of the area's continued emergence and establishment as a center for multiple technologies."
The advantages of an Austin location in terms of the quality of the workforce and business climate "are hard to beat," he said.
"The location will ultimately offer opportunities for Texans across a spectrum of job types, both onsite once the pandemic is dealt with and remotely," Perryman said. "It will also create synergies for additional activity."
Oracle already has a significant presence in Austin. In 2018 it opened a five-story, 560,000-square-feet campus overlooking Lady Bird Lake in Southeast Austin.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the time that facility opened, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison said he expects the corporate campus in Austin to grow to as large as 10,000 employees.
"We have big plans," Ellison told the crowd in 2018. "We have a handful of hubs in the United States, and Austin is one of the key places we want to be because that's where we think our people want to be."
Oracle's sleek Austin campus was designed to attract recent college graduates. It includes outdoor terraces with views of downtown, a fitness center, "huddle rooms" and a "tech bar" to give employees the ability to get their computers and devices repaired quickly.
Along with its original land purchase, Oracle bought a new apartment complex, called Azul, just steps from its new office building as a housing option for its employees. The apartment acquisition marked the first time Oracle bought an apartment building on an Oracle campus.
The campus, an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, is expected to be transformative for a part of town along East Riverside Drive that is rapidly gentrifying with hundreds of new luxury housing units.
Oracle in recent years has worked to attract young talent as it shifted its focus to the cloud and built hubs for those sales groups.
Employees in the Austin campus's first phases were working mainly in sales-oriented jobs for its cloud services, a business unit Oracle has expanded globally. The jobs include direct selling, lead qualification, prospecting and technical support.
Here's what we know about the Casey Goodson Jr. fatal police shooting - CNN
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 13:58
By Christina Maxouris, CNN
Updated 6:26 AM EST, Sat December 12, 2020
(CNN) A Franklin County Sheriff's Office deputy was in Columbus, Ohio, on December 4 looking for violent offenders. Instead, he fatally shot Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man, who had no criminal background, according to a family attorney, and was not the target of any investigation.
Goodson's mother says he was shot as he tried entering his home after returning from the dentist and Subway, a quick stop he made to get sandwiches for his 5-year-old brother and 72-year-old grandmother. The two found Goodson lying on the ground, family attorney Sean Walton told CNN.
"My grandson just got shot in the back when he come in the house," Goodson's grandmother told a 911 operator.
"He went to the dentist or somewhere and came home," she later said. "All I know is there's a bunch of gunfire. He's not a bad kid. He doesn't have a police record. He works. I don't know what happened."
Goodson had put his keys into his door before he was shot and fell into the kitchen, Walton said. Hours after the shooting, his keys remained hanging on the door, the attorney added, "a reminder to his family of how close he was to safety," the attorney said.
The shooting is the latest in a series in recent years involving young Black men and teens in a city that has grappled with racial inequalities for generations. Over the summer, Columbus also saw demonstrations after George Floyd's death, during which protesters clashed with police, who fired rubber bullets and pepper spray. Demonstrations in response to Goodson's death are scheduled to take place over the weekend.
The Columbus Division of Police is handling the investigation into the shooting and the US Attorney's Office in Southern Ohio has opened a civil rights investigation. Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan on Thursday vowed for an "independent, meticulous, unbiased investigation with a singular focus: getting to the truth of what happened to Casey Goodson and why."
But more than a week after the shooting, many questions remain. Here's what we know so far.
The moments before the shooting Goodson was an Ohio concealed carry permit holder and was legally armed at the time of the shooting, police said. He was not alleged to have committed any crimes, Walton said. A review of court records did not show more than minor traffic-related offenses.
Jason Meade, the sheriff's deputy who shot Goodson, was working for the US Marshal's fugitive task force looking for violent offenders at the time. But Goodson was not the person being sought by the task force, police said.
Authorities have provided vague details about the moments prior to the shooting, but it's still unclear what led to the interaction between the two and what exactly that interaction looked like.
During the task force operation in Columbus, Meade reported seeing a man with a gun and was investigating the situation when reportedly there was a verbal exchange prior to the shooting, Columbus police previously said.
An attorney for Meade says Goodson pointed a gun at the deputy prior to the shooting, adding "there has been confirmation that our client gave verbal commands for Mr. Goodson to drop the gun."
Police have said no other officers witnessed the shooting, there have been no civilian eyewitnesses identified and there is no body camera footage because Franklin County Sheriff's task force officers aren't issued body cameras. Meade's attorney, Mark Collins, also noted no eyewitnesses have been identified.
Attorneys for Goodson's family said in their own news release "neither the City of Columbus nor any other investigatory agency has alleged that Casey Goodson pointed a gun before Meade pulled the trigger."
"With Meade's statement issued nearly one full week after he killed Casey, it is critical to note that this is a classic defense often claimed by police after they shoot and kill someone," they said. "It is also critical to remember that often the evidence does not support these claims."
Peter Tobin, US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, said last Friday the fugitive task force was wrapping up an unrelated investigation when a deputy saw a man "driving down the street waving a gun." The man was confronted by the deputy and "allegedly started to pull a gun and the officer fired," Tobin previously told reporters. He added the shooting appeared justified but would be investigated.
There were concerns of a predetermined outcomeGoddson's family attorneys criticized Columbus authorities Thursday, saying they proceeded "through their investigation" with the assumption in mind that Goodson's shooting was justified.
"Casey was treated as a criminal. Not only Casey but his family were treated as suspects. They were treated as criminals," family attorney Sarah Gelsomino said.
The responding officers, she added, "brought with them their bias against Casey, and in favor of Meade."
She added the way that the scene "was processed that day is essential."
In a series of tweets Friday, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in the week since the shooting, he has heard "over and over that statements made last Friday indicated the outcome of the investigation was predetermined."
"That is not the case," Ginther wrote. "US Marshal Pete Tobin said it appeared the shooting was justified. He was wrong to make a statement, and his words were inappropriate, uninformed and damaged the public's trust in the investigation."
The mayor added local and federal authorities are "committed to following the evidence, getting to the truth and providing answers to Mr. Goodson's family and the community."
What the autopsy foundThe Franklin County Coroner's Office said this week Goodson's manner of death was a homicide.
An autopsy that was performed Tuesday found the preliminary cause of death to be "multiple gunshot wounds to the torso."
The coroner's office does not specify where on the torso the wounds are located. A full report will be released in 12 to 14 weeks, the office said, adding it is still "awaiting medical records as well as the toxicology report."
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation did not accept caseOn Monday, Columbus Police attempted to turn over the investigation to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the state agency that typically investigates police-involved shootings.
But the BCI said it would not be able to accept the case.
"We received a referral to take a three-day old officer-involved shooting case. Not knowing all the reasons as to why so much time has passed before the case was referred to BCI, we cannot accept this case," a spokesperson for the Attorney General's office said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the BCI has a memorandum of understanding with Columbus Police that says the state agency should be the first call after a police shooting.
"BCI is the first call because we cannot be the subject matter experts unless we're on scene from the beginning to document the evidence of what happened from the start," Yost said in a Monday statement. "Three days later after the crime scene has been dismantled and the witness(es) have all dispersed does not work."
But Columbus police said the chief's interest in having the BCI involved was "based solely on reassuring the public of maximum independence in the investigation of this tragedy."
CNN's Melissa Alonso, Rebekah Riess, Laurie Ure and Peter Nickeas contributed to this report.
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Luciferin - Wikipedia
Sat, 12 Dec 2020 04:58
Luciferin (from the Latin lucifer, "light-bearer") is a generic term for the light-emitting compound found in organisms that generate bioluminescence. Luciferins typically undergo an enzyme-catalyzed reaction with molecular oxygen. The resulting transformation, which usually involves splitting off a molecular fragment, produces an excited state intermediate that emits light upon decaying to its ground state. The term may refer to molecules that are substrates for both luciferases and photoproteins.[1]
Types Edit Luciferins are a class of small-molecule substrates that react with oxygen in the presence of a luciferase (an enzyme) to release energy in the form of light. It is not known just how many types of luciferins there are, but some of the better-studied compounds are listed below.
Because of the chemical diversity of luciferins, there is no clear unifying mechanism of action, except that all require molecular oxygen,[2] which provides the needed energy.[3] The variety of luciferins and luciferases, their diverse reaction mechanisms and the scattered phylogenetic distribution indicate that many of them have arisen independently in the course of evolution.[2]
Firefly Edit This structure of firefly luciferin is reversed (left to right) from the space-filling model shown above
Firefly luciferin is the luciferin found in many Lampyridae species. It is the substrate of beetle luciferases (EC responsible for the characteristic yellow light emission from fireflies, though can cross-react to produce light with related enzymes from non-luminous species.[4] The chemistry is unusual, as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is required for light emission, in addition to molecular oxygen.[5]
Snail Edit Latia luciferin is, in terms of chemistry, (E)-2-methyl-4-(2,6,6-trimethyl-1-cyclohex-1-yl)-1-buten-1-ol formate and is from the freshwater snail Latia neritoides.[6]
Bacterial Edit Bacterial luciferin (FMN)
Bacterial luciferin is two-component system consisting of flavin mononucleotide and a fatty aldehyde found in bioluminescent bacteria.
Coelenterazine Edit Coelenterazine is found in radiolarians, ctenophores, cnidarians, squid, brittle stars, copepods, chaetognaths, fish, and shrimp. It is the prosthetic group in the protein aequorin responsible for the blue light emission.[7]
Dinoflagellate Edit Luciferin of dinoflagellates (R = H) resp. of euphausiid shrimps (R = OH). The latter is also called
Component F.
Dinoflagellate luciferin is a chlorophyll derivative (i. e. a tetrapyrrole) and is found in some dinoflagellates, which are often responsible for the phenomenon of nighttime glowing waves (historically this was called phosphorescence, but is a misleading term). A very similar type of luciferin is found in some types of euphausiid shrimp.[8]
Vargulin Edit Vargulin (cypridinluciferin)
Vargulin is found in certain ostracods and deep-sea fish, to be specific, Poricthys. Like the compound coelenterazine, it is an imidazopyrazinone and emits primarily blue light in the animals.
Fungi Edit Foxfire is the bioluminescence created by some species of fungi present in decaying wood. While there may be multiple different luciferins within the kingdom of fungi, 3-hydroxy hispidin was determined to be the luciferin in the fruiting bodies of several species of fungi, including Neonothopanus nambi, Omphalotus olearius, Omphalotus nidiformis, and Panellus stipticus.[9]
References Edit ^ Hastings JW (1996). "Chemistries and colors of bioluminescent reactions: a review". Gene. 173 (1 Spec No): 5''11. doi:10.1016/0378-1119(95)00676-1. PMID 8707056. ^ a b Hastings JW (1983). "Biological diversity, chemical mechanisms, and the evolutionary origins of bioluminescent systems". J. Mol. Evol. 19 (5): 309''21. Bibcode:1983JMolE..19..309H. doi:10.1007/BF02101634. PMID 6358519. S2CID 875590. ^ Schmidt-Rohr, K. (2020). "Oxygen Is the High-Energy Molecule Powering Complex Multicellular Life: Fundamental Corrections to Traditional Bioenergetics'' ACS Omega 5: 2221-2233. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.9b03352 ^ Viviani, V.R., Bechara, E.J.H. (1996). "Larval Tenebrio molitor (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) Fat Body Extracts Catalyze Firefly D-Luciferin-and ATP-Dependent Chemiluminescence: A Luciferase-like Enzyme". Photochemistry and Photobiology. 63 (6): 713''718. doi:10.1111/j.1751-1097.1996.tb09620.x. S2CID 83498776. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) ^ Green A, McElroy WD (October 1956). "Function of adenosine triphosphate in the activation of luciferin". Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 64 (2): 257''71. doi:10.1016/0003-9861(56)90268-5. PMID 13363432. ^ EC ORENZA: a database of ORphan ENZyme Activities, accessed 27 November 2009. ^ Shimomura O, Johnson FH (April 1975). "Chemical nature of bioluminescence systems in coelenterates". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 72 (4): 1546''49. Bibcode:1975PNAS...72.1546S. doi:10.1073/pnas.72.4.1546. PMC 432574 . PMID 236561. ^ Dunlap, JC; Hastings, JW; Shimomura, O (1980). "Crossreactivity between the light-emitting systems of distantly related organisms: Novel type of light-emitting compound". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 77 (3): 1394''97. Bibcode:1980PNAS...77.1394D. doi:10.1073/pnas.77.3.1394. PMC 348501 . PMID 16592787. ^ Purtov KV, Petushkov VN, Baranov MS, Mineev KS, Rodionova NS, Kaskova ZM, Tsarkova AS, Petunin AI, Bondar VS, Rodicheva EK, Medvedeva SE, Oba Y, Arseniev AS, Lukyanov S, Gitelson JI, Yampolsky IV (2015). "The Chemical Basis of Fungal Bioluminescence". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 54 (28): 8124''8128. doi:10.1002/anie.201501779. PMID 26094784. External links Edit "Major luciferin types". The Bioluminescence Web Page. University of California, Santa Barbara. 2009-01-09 . Retrieved 2009-03-06 .
London warned to be on alert for Christmas terror attack as probes into extremist plotting reaches record high | Evening Standard
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 23:50
Londoners are being warned to be on the alert to thwart a potential pre-Christmas terror attack as the country's top counter-terrorism officer revealed that investigations into extremist plotting have reached a new record high.
Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he feared that the public might become complacent as London faces the risk of being moved into Tier 3 restrictions which are likely to reduce the number of crowded spaces and venues that terrorists might strike.
But he said that the danger still remained because of online radicalisation during the coronavirus lockdowns and the continued threat of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
He said that meant that there was a severe risk of ''self-initiated'' attacks by extremists, including some radicalised within weeks, over the coming weeks.
He added that the attack on Streatham High Road earlier this year, in which two people were injured before the freed terror convict Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police. had shown how terrorists could target less obvious locations.
Mr Basu said tip offs from friends and family who were likely to be best placed to spot changes in behaviour were particularly critical.
He said this included using the ACT Early website - www.actearly.uk - set up to give an extra reporting and advice route to anyone worried about a person they know.
But he urged Londoners to also be on the lookout for anyone who appeared to be conducting reconnaissance or who is showing other signs that might indicate terrorist intent, such as carrying an inappropriately large backpack or scouting security at a prominent location.
''We don't want people to become complacent,'' Mr Basu told the Standard, pointing out that the recent attacks in France and Austria had occurred on the eve of those countries imposing tighter coronavirus restrictions.
''We are at a severe threat level, meaning an attack is highly likely and we are there for a reason. In the last two weeks we reached a historic high in the number of investigations that we are dealing with so it's well over 800.
London Bridge and Borough Market terrorist attackPolice and paramedics treat an injured person
Daniel Sorabji/AFP/Getty Images
A woman is helped to an ambulance at London Bridge
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Armed police at London Bridge
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Emergency personnel tend to wounded on London Bridge
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Debris and abandoned cars remain on London Bridge
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People walking down Borough High Street
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Armed Police officers on London Bridge
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People flee along Borough High Street
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Police officers outside the Barrowboy and Banker Public House on Borough High Street
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Shocked onlookers in Borough High Street
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Police sniffer dogs on London Bridge
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Armed Police talk to members of the public outside London Bridge Hospital
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People run down Borough High Street
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A helicopter lands on London Bridge
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An armed officer on London Bridge
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Police officers on Borough High Street
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Emergency personnel on London Bridge
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Armed police on Borough High Street
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Armed Police officer looks through his weapon on London Bridge
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People run along Borough High Street
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Police at the scene on Southwark Bridge
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A paramedic rushes to the scene
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An armed officer on London Bridge
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A paramedic at the scene
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Armed police on Borough High Street
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Emergency personnel on London Bridge
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Police officers outside the Barrowboy and Banker Public House on Borough High Street
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People are lead to safety away from London Bridge
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''Depending where London ends up, I think people could be in danger of being complacent because they think a lack of crowded spaces or publicly accessible spaces means that the opportunity is less and the threat is lower.
''But Streatham High Road proved that it isn't just the iconic locations like Oxford Street that make the difference. If a terrorist wants to commit a terrorist offence they will.''
Mr Basu said the isolation that people had experienced during the coronavirus pandemic had heightened the threat of some becoming radicalised online out of sight of teachers, health staff, police or others who might normally have spotted changing behaviour.
Warning about ''self-initiating'' terrorists, he added: ''They are the greatest threat. The people who are inspiring and radicalising themselves through online extremism.
''We've had ten months of self-isolation and anyone who is malleable or suggestable to this sort of stuff is going to have seen a growth in it over the last ten months and is probably going to be more anchored to it than they ever have been before.
Streatham terror attack - In picturesPolice are dealing with an incident in Streatham
Andy Bullemor
Police officers conduct a search of a bail hostel in south London
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A woman reacts near to the scene where a man was shot and killed by armed police
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Forensic officers at the scene following the terror attack in Streatham High Road
Police cordon off a property in Streatham
Forensic officers outside a property on Leigham Court Road, Streatham
Police activity at the scene following the terror attack in Streatham High Road
Police officers look under a bus as they work at the scene of Sunday's terror stabbing attack in the Streatham area of south London
Forensics investigate the scene of the terror attack on Monday morning
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Armed police at the scene in Streatham High Road
Police officers at the scene after a man was shot by armed police
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Forensics investigate the scene of the terror attack on Monday morning
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Armed police officer on Streatham High Road
Forensics investigate the scene of the terror attack on Monday morning
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Police officers guard a cordon on Streatham High Road, at the junction of Prentis Road
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Forensics investigate the scene
Nigel Howard
Police officers at the scene after a man was shot by armed police
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Armed police at the scene in Streatham High Road
Items left on the pavement at the scene in Streatham High Road
Police secure the area in Streatham
Forensics investigate the scene
Nigel Howard
''It is a great mechanism for online grooming. Many of these radicalisers are not the people committing the offences, they are getting a vessel to do that for them, and I'm concerned that those vulnerable people have been more exposed. So there may be less opportunity in terms of crowded spaces but that's no reason to be complacent.''
Mr Basu said that police had already stepped up their patrols in response and also wanted to encourage businesses to ensure that they were prepared to cope in the event of a terrorist attack through measures such as lockdown or evacuation procedures.
He said the ''run, hide, tell'' message that police advise people to follow in the event of an incident should also be communicated to staff by employers and also urged the public to assist by reporting concerns.
''If it raises the hairs on the back of your neck, that's good enough for me. All terrorists do hostile reconnaissance. Long before an attack happens they will have been doing some planning and that's what we want people to be looking out for,'' he said.
New on the COVID-19 Front Lines: Children May Be Driving the Pandemic After All - DER SPIEGEL
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 23:12
Schoolchildren wearing facemasks in Dortmund
Foto:'‚Ina Fassbender / afp
If you've ever heard teenagers chattering away and laughing during the breaks, or seen them crowd into a supermarket; if you've ever experienced the chaotic running and roughhousing of schoolchildren at recess '' you might be surprised that things have gone so comparatively well at schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
As recently as the end of October, the science journal Nature published a data survey that came to an apparently reassuring conclusion: "Data gathered worldwide are increasingly suggesting that schools are not hot spots for coronavirus infections," and further, that schools could "reopen safely when community transmission is low."
That, though, has since changed.
Such "community transmission" has become quite high in many parts of Germany and the effect of the current "lockdown light" has been disappointingly minimal. Case numbers have stagnated at a high level, while in some regions they have continued climbing at an alarming rate. What are the reasons? Where are people contracting the infections? Is transmission only occurring in shops, which have remained open this fall in contrast to the spring lockdown? Or is transmission actually transpiring in schools, after all?
Because of the persistently high number of cases, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has this week called for a strict lockdown before Christmas '' including the closure of schools as quickly as possible. Chancellor Angela Merkel likewise pleaded with the state governors to send children into the Christmas break early and extend the holidays.
From the perspective of epidemiologists, that would, indeed, be a sensible move. Evidence is provided by a still unpublished analysis of a widespread testing campaign at schools in Austria, which found that SARS-CoV-2 affects just as many students as teachers.
"Schools are not islands of serenity," says study leader Michael Wagner, a professor of microbiology at the University of Vienna. Leaving them open is "a significant risk." He argues, though, that such closures should be accompanied by "honest communication about the effects it would have on the development of infections" and that it will only work "if the rest of the population does its part by avoiding many activities with a higher risk of infection."
Close EncountersResearchers and epidemiologists have long underestimated the role played by children in the spread of the novel coronavirus. One reason is that they rarely display any symptoms and are thus tested much less often than adults. It also seems to be the case, as a paper recently published in Science concluded, that children under the age of 12 don't contract the virus as easily as adults. But it is thought that this increased resistance to SARS-CoV-2 is balanced out by their behavior '' their many, close social encounters.
One piece of evidence is offered by the recent analysis of a British survey, according to which the virus is primarily spreading in one demographic group. It found that even as infections are rising in all age groups, the positive rate is highest among children and secondary school students.
Given that children are frequently asymptomatic, it is difficult to know if their infections are identified as often as they are among adults. Might children, in fact, be mini-superspreaders running around without so much as a sore throat as they pass the virus on to classmates, parents and siblings? Could they play the same role in the coronavirus pandemic as they do in flu season, when they are the primary spreaders?
"Children reflect the infection levels they are surrounded by," says microbiologist Wagner. But because they are so often asymptomatic, they are "severely undertested," leading him to believe that there is a rather significant number of unreported cases. To find out, Wagner joined other scientists from universities in Graz, Linz and Innsbruck to launch a far-reaching school study in late summer. Their findings thus far. "Schoolchildren under the age of 14 are infected at a rate similar to teachers," says Wagner.
Since the end of September, the Austrian researchers have paid visits to more than 240 schools. There goal is to perform as many tests as they can at regular intervals throughout the entire schoolyear. They hope to test up to 15,000 children between the ages of six and 15 in addition to 1,200 teachers to establish a representative sample size. Over time, Wagner hopes, the study will reveal the true extent of viral spread in schools.
Unreported CasesTo simplify the procedure, the researchers aren't inserting elongated swabs through their subjects' noses to the back of their throats. They are having them gargle instead, for an entire minute with five milliliters of a salt solution, which is then spit into a sample cup. It is a much more child-friendly approach, the validity of which Wagner's team has evaluated, though the results of that evaluation have not yet been published.
The samples are then tested for SARS-CoV-2 using several standard PCR tests. An analysis of the initial samples, taken in November, revealed a positive rate of 0.4 percent among those tested at random. Which means that hundreds of schoolchildren and teachers in Austrian schools could be infected without knowing it.
But Wagner's study doesn't just demonstrate that the number of unreported cases among children and their teachers is relatively high. The mass tests also show that younger children are by no means exempt from infection by SARS-CoV-2. Indeed, there was no significant difference to infection rates among adults. Furthermore, schools in poorer areas were found to have 3.5 times as many positive results as elsewhere, which is consistent with generally higher infection rates in lower income neighborhoods. People in such neighborhoods frequently live closer together and have jobs that don't allow them to work from home.
A study involving more than 11,000 children in the German state of Bavaria also found a significant number of unreported cases among children and teenagers. Infection numbers in this demographic could be up to six times higher than the official total listed by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's leading public health establishment. The research team, led by Anette-Gabriele Ziegler of the Helmholtz Center in Munich, tested blood samples for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
Flying Below the RadarAll of these findings have cast doubt on the idea that children are less susceptible than teenagers. And they have shown that almost half of infected children show no symptoms. Meanwhile, an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States found that asymptomatic cases are potentially responsible for more than half of all infections.
Very young children, meanwhile, have also long flown below the radar, even if Berlin virologist Christian Drosten discovered back in spring that they aren't immune to SARS-CoV-2 either. His tests found a viral load in the throats of young children that was similar to other age groups. The German tabloid Bild blasted his findings as "grossly inaccurate," an appraisal for which the paper was reprimanded by the German Press Council for its disparagement of the study. Drosten, as it turns out, was right.
A study in the U.S. recently found even more dramatic results. Health experts in Chicago compared three age groups with each other: children under five, five to 17-year-olds and 17 to 65-year-olds. Surprisingly, they found that the youngest test subjects carried 10 to 100-times the viral load in their throats than older subjects.
What had been unclear, though, is the degree to which children infect others, even though they show no symptoms. How should they spread the virus if they aren't coughing and don't have a runny nose? Plus, their lungs are smaller, meaning they don't emit as many aerosols with each breath.
"Of course, it's the case that the virus is carried into schools. And that it is then carried back out again."
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute
Apparently, they spread the infection when they cough or sneeze due to other maladies they may have. Young children catch between six and 10 colds a year, on average '' up to five times more often than their parents or grandparents. According to a survey analysis performed by pediatrician Petra Zimmermann at the Fribourg Canton Hospital in Switzerland, fully eight of 10 children infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus also had other infections at the same time.
A case study in Salt Lake County in the U.S. also discovered that daycare children are quite efficient at spreading the virus. According to the findings, 12 young children who were infected with the coronavirus passed it on to at least a quarter of their contacts outside of the daycare center, including parents and siblings. One of the adults had to be hospitalized.
In an additional example from a city in Poland, two weeks after daycare centers were opened following a lockdown, eight young children contracted the virus and passed it along to three siblings, eight mothers and fathers and one grandparent. Those findings come from an infection chain tracing study performed by medical professional Magdalena Okarska-Napierała of the University Hospital in Warsaw.
Triggering the Second WaveSuch analyses are retrospective, highlighting what happened in the past in order to derive lessons for the future and to determine the degree to which children are drivers of the pandemic. What they cannot tell us is whether children will pass the virus on to grandma and grandpa over the Christmas holidays.
A so-called prospective study, which followed the spread of the virus in 101 households in Nashville, Tennessee, and Marshfield, Wisconsin, from April to September, likewise implicated the children. The survey found that they were quietly responsible for bringing the virus into their homes. Despite the fact that they had no symptoms, they infected just as many people as did adults in other households who were proven carriers of the virus.
Such clusters tend to be the product of a single contagious person, as a study at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine shows. Of 100 infections studied, 80 of them could be traced back to just a small handful of people '' likely no more than 10.
And clusters also have an enormous impact in schools. When children in Montr(C)al went back to school following a lockdown, case numbers spiked. Soon, there were more cases in schools than there were in companies or among caregivers. The president of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease in Qu(C)bec said: "Schools were decisively involved in triggering the second wave in Qu(C)bec."
In Germany, meanwhile, Hamburg experienced the largest school outbreak of the coronavirus the country has yet seen in November. Almost 100 of the 550 students and school employees tested in the neighborhood of Veddel were positive. Fully 32 of the 74 teachers had contracted SARS-CoV-2.
"Of course, it's the case that the virus is carried into schools," says RKI head Lothar Wieler. "And that it is then carried back out again."
In England, the incidence rate fell after the fall break. And Scottish researchers analyzed all anti-corona measures in 131 countries in a large modelling study. The R number, one way to measure the spread of infections, began falling once large events were banned and contacts were limited.
But they only plunged significantly once schools were closed.
Icon: Der Spiegel
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Fri, 11 Dec 2020 22:29
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Reps. Gabbard and Mullin Introduce Bill to Ensure Title IX Protections for Women and Girls in Sports | Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 21:20
Washington, DC '--Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) introduced H.R.8932, the Protect Women's Sports Act. Given the average difference in abilities conferred by biological sex, this bill would clarify Title IX protections for female athletes is based on biological sex. ''Title IX was a historic provision championed by Hawai'i's own Congresswoman Patsy Mink in order to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports. It led to a generational shift that impacted countless women, creating life-changing opportunities for girls and women that never existed before. However, Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes. Our legislation protects Title IX's original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex,'' said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard . ''It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.''
''Title IX was designed to give women and girls an equal chance to succeed, including in sports. Allowing biological males to compete in women's sports diminishes that equality and takes away from the original intent of Title IX. As the father of three girls involved in athletics, I want them to be able to compete on a level playing field. I am proud to lead this bill that will safeguard the integrity of women's sports and ensure female athletes can compete fairly,'' said Rep. Markwayne Mullin .
Background: Since its creation, Title IX has been confronted by various challenges, often resulting in nuanced or situational solutions to the circumstances. This has included considering the fairness of an individual of one sex to play on a team designated for another sex when no such team is available to the individual, such as women's field hockey or men's football. This bill protects the sex-based intention of Title IX protections by reaffirming the biological sex-based distinctions between men and women in athletics.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai'i's Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the HawaiÊ>>i State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the HawaiÊ>>i Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major in the Army Reserves. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard... Follow Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on social media:
BREAKING: Pennsylvania House of Representatives Join Texas in Their Lawsuit Against Key Swing States
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 20:23
Posted December 10, 2020 in
Politics Edited by: CollinRugg
On Tuesday morning, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton revealed that the state of Texas filed a massive lawsuit against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for exploiting ''the COVID-19 pandemic to justify ignoring federal and state election laws and unlawfully enacting last-minute changes, thus skewing the results of the 2020 General Election.''
In the couple days following the announcement, dozens of other states have joined Texas in their lawsuit. On Thursday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives joined the case as well.
sponsor"PA Speaker of the House, Bryan Cutler was joined by PA House majority leader, Kerry Benninghoff in filing an amici curiae brief AGAINST the State of Pennsylvania and in favor of Texas' application for relief," reported New York attorney Joe Nierman.
Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano also broke the news that 24 Pennsylvania Senators had joined the case as well.
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"Honored to be among the 24 PA Senators that are part of the amicus in support of the Texas case going before the US Supreme Court," he said.
The Texas lawsuit was brought forward by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said: ''Trust in the integrity of our election processes is sacrosanct and binds our citizenry and the States in this Union together. Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election. The states violated statutes enacted by their duly elected legislatures, thereby violating the Constitution.''
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''By ignoring both state and federal law, these states have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens' vote, but of Texas and every other state that held lawful elections,'' Paxton added. ''Their failure to abide by the rule of law casts a dark shadow of doubt over the outcome of the entire election. We now ask that the Supreme Court step in to correct this egregious error.''
The lawsuit states that ''certain officials in the Defendant States presented the pandemic as the justification for ignoring state laws regarding absentee and mail-in voting.'' The lawsuit goes onto say that the election was ''less secure'' in the Defendant States.
The lawsuit continues:
This case presents a question of law: Did the Defendant States violate the Electors Clause by taking non-legislative actions to change the election rules that would govern the appointment of presidential electors? These non-legislative changes to the Defendant States' election laws facilitated the casting and counting of ballots in violation of state law, which, in turn, violated the Electors Clause of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution. By these unlawful acts, the Defendant States have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens' vote, but their actions have also debased the votes of citizens in Plaintiff State and other States that remained loyal to the Constitution.
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''Elections for federal office must comport with federal constitutional standards. For presidential elections, each state must appoint its electors to the electoral college in a manner that complies with the Constitution,'' Paxton said. ''The Electors Clause requirement that only state legislatures may set the rules governing the appointment of electors and elections and cannot be delegated to local officials. The majority of the rushed decisions, made by local officials, were not approved by the state legislatures, thereby circumventing the Constitution.''
The lawsuit goes onto say:
Without Defendant States' combined 72 electoral votes, President Trump presumably has 232 electoral votes, and former Vice President Biden presumably has 234. Thus, Defendant States' electors will determine the outcome of the election. Alternatively, if Defendant States are unable to certify 37 or more electors, neither candidate will have a majority in the Electoral College, in which case the election would devolve to the U.S. House of Representatives under the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
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What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!
Is This Why The Media Is Suddenly Reporting On Hunter Biden's Corruption?
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 20:22
Authored by Andrea Widburg via AmericanThinker.com,
In the world of Democrat politics, there are no coincidences. With that principle in mind, it's possible to understand why Democrat media outlets are suddenly reporting about Hunter Biden's corruption, a story that spills over onto his father. The first is to get ahead of potential breaking news about Hunter's imminent arrest. The second theory is the one Monica Showalter advanced: The leftists used Biden to attain the White House (or so they believe) and are now ready to get rid of him. Having a criminal son may be just what the Obama/Harris camp needs to make that happen. And if there's any doubt about this theory, an article in The New York Times seems to lay it to rest.
We conservatives remember how, in October, the media and the tech tyrants conspired to block any reports about Hunter Biden, whether those reports were the Senate Intelligence Committee's findings about the $3.5 million Hunter received from the wife of a Russian politician, or the shocking details of political corruption, drug addiction, and sexual debauchery contained on his hard drive.
Well, to ordinary people, these stories were shocking. To the media and the tech tyrants, these stories were potential dangers to Joe Biden's candidacy. They had to be stopped '' and stopped they were. Twitter and Facebook, the two biggest social media tech tyrants, refused to allow any reports to circulate and banned people, including President Trump's press secretary, from their platforms when they refused to bow down to this censorship.
News outlets derided the reports about the Biden family's corrupt dealings, all of which implicated Joe Biden as the man who pimped out his addled son for huge sums of money, as non-stories. That's not an exaggeration. It's explicitly what NPR's public editor said:
Likewise, CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who's served as a shill for every tyrannical regime on earth, insisted that, because she was a real ''journalist,'' it was not her job to investigate stories. Instead, it was only her job to determine whether the results of other people's investigations met her standards. The Hunter Biden story did not:
Of all the media deceit and propagndizing disseminated in the lead-up to the election to justify their refusal to report on the Hunter Biden documents -- despite knowing they were genuine and not from Russia -- this on CNN from @camanpour may be the most amazing: pic.twitter.com/mkI4Jtd4SN
'-- Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 10, 2020When President Trump tried to bring the story to Americans' attention during the first presidential debate, Biden snapped back that it was Russian disinformation, a lie that the media and tech tyrants enthusiastically disseminated
Joe Biden cited the Politico story with former intelligence officials saying the Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation during the second debate.Turns out, Hunter's business dealings with China had been under investigation since 2018.
Nice work @NatashaBertrand pic.twitter.com/HZnqJ0xmCz
'-- Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 10, 2020Suddenly, though, the media is releasing information about the criminal investigations into not both Hunter Biden and Joe's brother, James Biden. As the above tweet notes, these investigations have been ongoing for years. We also know that a sizable number of voters would have passed over Biden for Trump had they known about Biden family corruption. So, what gives? Why are Hunter and, by extension, Joe himself, suddenly fair game?
It could be that bad things are about to come down from the FBI. After all, Trump did promise that ''a lot of big things'' will happen soon. The sudden flurry of reports about the Bidens could just be the Democrats' way of getting ahead of the story so that, if Hunter is shown doing the perp walk, they can say that it's ''old news.''
However, it's equally likely that the Democrats are making plans to get Biden out of office as quickly as possible '' or perhaps, sideline him before he's even sworn in (assuming, of course, that Biden hangs onto that president-elect title). As Monica Showalter pointed out on Thursday, Biden is not making leftists happy. He's filling his possible administration with corporate insiders, he wants a former military officer to head the defense department, and he's continuing to show a very rapid cognitive decline. He's offering Clinton-era politics with a side of dementia and that is not what the hard left side of the party wants.
In any event, the goal, always, was to get Kamala into the White House. It didn't and doesn't matter that the voters don't like her -- as demonstrated by the fact that even her home state of California didn't like her and her early retreat from the primaries. What matters is that she, unlike both Hillary and Joe, is Barack Obama's true third term.
Harris is as hard left as they come and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain power. While Joe Biden, despite his corruption and his shift to the hard left, still cherishes some residual notions about the Constitution, Kamala is not hindered by such old-fashioned ideas:
FLASHBACK: Kamala Harris laughs when Joe Biden brings up the fact that the Constitution would prevent the President from taking Executive Action to confiscate guns.I wonder how they both feel about this issue now. pic.twitter.com/33NjAnL5Ic
'-- Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 13, 2020With Americans at large finally learning that Hunter Biden and James Biden are crooked and that Joe is the big, corrupt tree from which these rotten apples fell, there's going to be lots of pressure on Joe to retire as quickly as is politely possible. It's The New York Times that gives the game away. On Thursday, it published a positively wistful article entitled ''Investigation of His Son Is Likely to Hang Over Biden as He Takes Office: Unless the Trump Justice Department clears Hunter Biden, the new president will confront the prospect of his own administration handling an inquiry that could expose his son to criminal prosecution.'' The opening paragraph, speaks of Biden in a ''no-win situation'' that could be ''politically and legally perilous,'' and the report continues in that vein. The subtext is clear: Leave. Leave now.
Joe served his purpose by being the bland front person for a full leftist assault on the White House. Now it's time for him to go. And while his handlers may reward him for a job well done with the pleasure of the inauguration, you can be sure that they'll pressure him to do what he promised to do, which is to invent a respectable disease and quit ASAP.
Hartes Geld on Twitter: "WOW! 🍠Im –sterreichischen Parlament wird eine #Cola live im Staats-TV positiv auf #Corona getestet! Die Bunten br¼llen sich vor rger die Seele aus dem Leib. Ich brech' weg! 🂠Hey: Dr. Osten, #Merkel & Co: Da kommen
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 17:20
Hartes Geld : WOW! ðŸIm –sterreichischen Parlament wird eine #Cola live im Staats-TV positiv auf #Corona getestet!Die Bunten br¼'... https://t.co/0VvbX6jRZP
Thu Dec 10 22:20:38 +0000 2020
Jacob : @Hartes_Geld Ich musste legit nur 1 minute unter #Cola sein, um solche "Erkenntnisse" zu sehen und sie gleich wiede'... https://t.co/93SDFhIN8C
Fri Dec 11 17:19:44 +0000 2020
Anti Hass Im Netz ðŸ"¸'ðŸŒ 🌍🇪🇺 #光å¾(C)é...港æ‚ä>>£é'(C)命 : @Hartes_Geld Muss die #Cola jetzt in #Quarantaene ?
Fri Dec 11 16:59:30 +0000 2020
sekan : @Hartes_Geld Kola bile pozitif cıktı bizim pozitif §Ä±kmazda normal bir şeyi merak ediyorum hastande milet niye ¶l ¼yor
Fri Dec 11 16:50:16 +0000 2020
Dr. Dupsky : @Hartes_Geld Die einzigen was hier herausgebr¼llt wird ist ihre und die Dummheit dieses FDP Hanswurst.
Fri Dec 11 16:45:01 +0000 2020
Lucas : @Hartes_Geld @eintrachthoney
Fri Dec 11 16:42:43 +0000 2020
bum luie : @Hartes_Geld The CDC itself says the rapid covid kits are 64-90% false positive So why are we locked down why fac'... https://t.co/QV6W4AJuBf
Fri Dec 11 16:42:22 +0000 2020
Cleopatra : @Hartes_Geld Viele danke ðŸ
Fri Dec 11 16:30:19 +0000 2020
wwwoman - keep distance, stay away from crowds : @Hartes_Geld OMG, armes –sterreich!Wer solch denkbefreite Parlamentarier hat, braucht keine Feinde! ðŸ¹
Fri Dec 11 16:30:03 +0000 2020
Paule Bott : @Hartes_Geld Jo geh, I brich zamm! Konima vuast¶in, dass's de Buntn schier z'reiŸt ðŸ‚Bei die Deitschn das¶iwe Schm¤'... https://t.co/x8MMmlQS8U
Fri Dec 11 16:22:02 +0000 2020
Tomas Aquinas (Crantius Colto) 🇧🇪🇪🇺ðŸ‡(C)🇪 : @Hartes_Geld Wenn man nat¼rlich dumm ist, mag einem das wie eine Sensation vorkommen. Alle, die nicht dumm sind, ha'... https://t.co/iamMQyHMCN
Fri Dec 11 16:21:49 +0000 2020
Ulf : @Hartes_Geld Die einzige Frage die da aufkommt ist: warst Du schon immer so dumm?
Fri Dec 11 16:08:45 +0000 2020
alan woodward : @Hartes_Geld Translate this?
Fri Dec 11 16:00:41 +0000 2020
Franken Manfred Alberto : @Hartes_Geld Waaauw geweldig zouden ze in 2e kamer ook moeten ðŸ
Fri Dec 11 15:46:57 +0000 2020
Serdar Dirican : @Hartes_Geld @cgfuzuli Hocam Almanca bilmiyorum, Kolaya test mi yapmışlar ne diyor burada?
Fri Dec 11 15:44:28 +0000 2020
maxitwatttr : @Hartes_Geld @querdenken711 #Querdenken
Fri Dec 11 15:43:05 +0000 2020
Chengiz : @Hartes_Geld That Coke should have worn a masq.ðŸðŸ¤'ðŸš
Fri Dec 11 15:33:25 +0000 2020
👑Peter will go on! 👑 In Libera Patria : @Hartes_Geld Wat goeeeeeeeed
Fri Dec 11 15:30:01 +0000 2020
Faktenchecker : @Hartes_Geld Faktenchecker, abseits meiner Qualit¤t ..zerm¼beln sich schon seit Tagen den Kopf wie sie aus dieser N'... https://t.co/5J2tCUI2pt
Fri Dec 11 15:28:41 +0000 2020
Faktenchecker : @Hartes_Geld In Polen war es der Fruchtsaft, woanders die Papaya , in –sterreich die Cola.
Fri Dec 11 15:20:48 +0000 2020
Stupidity Is A Sin ( New Bio ) 'š 'š 'š : @Hartes_Geld DIT IS GENIAAL....! #HUGODEJONGEKANNIKS...@hugodejongeVoor jou, schatje...Je hebt weer iets verprut'... https://t.co/i0UxcCklpH
Fri Dec 11 15:20:08 +0000 2020
Herr B¤rt ðŸ'¬ bleibt wieder zu 🏠: @Hartes_Geld ja, vor allem die Frage, wie einige Ihr Cola trinken https://t.co/5on3fNcW6O
Fri Dec 11 15:19:02 +0000 2020
Duc_Ingo : @Hartes_Geld Wo ScheiŸe drin ist, kann auch nur ScheiŸe rauskommen, gell Du Schwurbler...
Fri Dec 11 14:56:40 +0000 2020
Deirdre : @Hartes_Geld Diese verbrecher m¼ssen sofort das parlement verlassen..samt RKI.
Fri Dec 11 14:48:56 +0000 2020
JJ : @Hartes_Geld Die Frage ist, ob es eine gute Idee ist, dass man Chemie in der Schule abw¤hlen darf.
Fri Dec 11 14:38:47 +0000 2020
Nein? Doch?! Ohhhh! : @Hartes_Geld https://t.co/TcUGuctSmB
Fri Dec 11 14:36:04 +0000 2020
MacHeath : @Hartes_Geld @AfD_Bayern WOW! FP– und AfD dumm wie ein Vierpfundbrot#geistigeVerm¼llung #afdgehoertnichtzudeutschland
Fri Dec 11 14:24:01 +0000 2020
That Homeless Guy (Gman) : @Hartes_Geld Hey @hugodejonge, Kunnen we dit ook in Nederland even proberen?@thierrybaudet gewoon doen🤪'... https://t.co/mWlyApJHHh
Fri Dec 11 14:15:37 +0000 2020
MacHeath : @Hartes_Geld welche Fragen?https://t.co/WoLX7TmWil
Fri Dec 11 14:05:33 +0000 2020
KlapperstrauŸ : @Hartes_Geld Die Frage, die du dir stellen solltest, ist, ob du nicht lieber aufh¶ren solltest, Lack zu saufen, du'... https://t.co/aH1OIxIo6a
Fri Dec 11 14:04:56 +0000 2020
That Homeless Guy (Gman) : @Hartes_Geld I just had a cola before watching this, I'm corona positive now? 🤣🤣🤣
Fri Dec 11 14:01:03 +0000 2020
robil libor : @Hartes_Geld Wieso kommen da noch ein paar Fragen hinzu? Macht mal auf einen Schwangerschaftstest Nagellackentferner statt Pisse ...
Fri Dec 11 13:57:15 +0000 2020
TheDeacon1972🇪🇺ðŸ‡(C)🇪#GGUltras : @Hartes_Geld @AfD_HD https://t.co/YxWkhbZRHE
Fri Dec 11 13:54:55 +0000 2020
Covid: China asks cabin crew to wear nappies to reduce virus risk - BBC News
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:39
Published duration 11 hours ago
image copyright Getty Images
image caption The airline industry has been struggling to rebound from the pandemicChina's aviation regulator has recommended cabin crew wear disposable nappies and avoid using the toilet to cut the risk of Covid-19 infection.
The advice on nappies is in a section on personal protective equipment in new guidelines for airlines.
The regulator said the recommendation applied to charter flights to high-risk Covid-19 destinations.
Globally, airlines and airports have been making big changes to how they operate to get passengers flying again.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China laid out its advice in a new 49-page set of guidelines for airlines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The recommendation on nappies applies to charter flights to and from places where infections exceed 500 in every one million people.
media caption Flying is a very different experience in the age of coronavirusIt comes on top of the advice for cabin crew to wear medical masks, disposable gloves, caps, goggles, disposable protective clothing and shoe coverings.
Flight crew are also advised to wear a range of protective gear, but not nappies.
The global aviation industry has been struggling to rebound from the pandemic's debilitating impact on travel.
New measures being put in place for flights differ by country. Some require airlines to leave at least one seat empty between passengers, others have made masks mandatory for the duration of flights.
'Under the rug:' Sexual misconduct shakes FBI's senior ranks
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:25
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- An assistant FBI director retired after he was accused of drunkenly groping a female subordinate in a stairwell. Another senior FBI official left after he was found to have sexually harassed eight employees. Yet another high-ranking FBI agent retired after he was accused of blackmailing a young employee into sexual encounters.
An Associated Press investigation has identified at least six sexual misconduct allegations involving senior FBI officials over the past five years, including two new claims brought this week by women who say they were sexually assaulted by ranking agents.
Each of the accused FBI officials appears to have avoided discipline, the AP found, and several were quietly transferred or retired, keeping their full pensions and benefits even when probes substantiated the sexual misconduct claims against them.
Beyond that, federal law enforcement officials are afforded anonymity even after the disciplinary process runs its course, allowing them to land on their feet in the private sector or even remain in law enforcement.
''They're sweeping it under the rug,'' said a former FBI analyst who alleges in a new federal lawsuit that a supervisory special agent licked her face and groped her at a colleague's farewell party in 2017. She ended up leaving the FBI and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
''As the premier law enforcement organization that the FBI holds itself out to be, it's very disheartening when they allow people they know are criminals to retire and pursue careers in law enforcement-related fields,'' said the woman, who asked to be identified in this story only by her first name, Becky.
The AP's count does not include the growing number of high-level FBI supervisors who have failed to report romantic relationships with subordinates in recent years '-- a pattern that has alarmed investigators with the Office of Inspector General and raised questions about bureau policy.
The recurring sexual misconduct has drawn the attention of Congress and advocacy groups, which have called for whistleblower protections for rank-and-file FBI employees and for an outside entity to review the bureau's disciplinary cases.
''They need a #MeToo moment,'' said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has been critical of the treatment of women in the male-dominated FBI.
''It's repugnant, and it underscores the fact that the FBI and many of our institutions are still good ol'-boy networks,'' Speier said. ''It doesn't surprise me that, in terms of sexual assault and sexual harassment, they are still in the Dark Ages.''
In a statement, the FBI said it ''maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment'' and that claims against supervisors have resulted in them being removed from their positions while cases are investigated and adjudicated.
It added that severe cases can result in criminal charges and that the FBI's internal disciplinary process assesses, among other factors, ''the credibility of the allegations, the severity of the conduct, and the rank and position of the individuals involved.''
The AP review of court records, Office of Inspector General reports and interviews with federal law enforcement officials identified at least six allegations against senior officials, including an assistant director and special agents in charge of entire field offices, that ranged from unwanted touching and sexual advances to coercion.
None appears to have been disciplined, but another sexual misconduct allegation identified in the AP review of a rank-and-file agent resulted in him losing his security clearance.
The FBI, with more than 35,000 employees, keeps a notoriously tight lid on such allegations. The last time the Office of Inspector General did an extensive probe of sexual misconduct within the FBI, it tallied 343 ''offenses'' from fiscal years 2009 to 2012, including three instances of ''videotaping undressed women without consent.''
The latest claims come months after a 17th woman joined a federal lawsuit alleging systemic sexual harassment at the FBI's training academy in Quantico, Virginia. That class-action case claims male FBI instructors made ''sexually charged'' comments about women needing to ''take their birth control to control their moods,'' inviting women trainees over to their homes and openly disparaging them.
In one of the new lawsuits filed Wednesday, a former FBI employee identified only as ''Jane Doe'' alleged a special agent in charge in 2016 retired without discipline and opened a law firm even after he ''imprisoned, tortured, harassed, blackmailed, stalked and manipulated'' her into having several ''non-consensual sexual encounters,'' including one in which he forced himself on her in a car. The AP is withholding the name and location of the accused special agent to protect the woman's identity.
''It is the policy and practice of the FBI and its OIG to allow senior executives accused of sexual assault to quietly retire with full benefits without prosecution,'' the woman's attorney, David J. Shaffer, alleges in the lawsuit.
One such case involved Roger C. Stanton, who before his abrupt retirement served as assistant director of the Insider Threat Office, a division at Washington headquarters tasked with rooting out leakers and safeguarding national security information.
According to an Inspector General's report concluded this year and obtained by AP through a public records request, Stanton was accused of drunkenly driving a female subordinate home following an after-work happy hour. The woman told investigators that once inside a stairwell of her apartment building, Stanton wrapped his arm around her waist and ''moved his hand down onto her bottom'' before she was able to get away and hustle up the stairs.
After Stanton left, he called the woman 15 times on her FBI phone and sent her what investigators described as ''garbled text'' complaining that he could not find his vehicle. The heavily redacted report does not say when the incident happened.
Stanton disputed the woman's account and told investigators he ''did not intend to do anything'' and only placed his arm around her because of the ''narrowness'' of the stairs. But Stanton acknowledged he was ''very embarrassed by this event'' and ''assistant directors should not be putting themselves in these situations.''
Stanton retired in late 2018 after the investigation determined he sexually harassed the woman and sought an improper relationship. He did not respond to requests for comment from AP.
Earlier this year, the Inspector General found that the special agent in charge of the Albany, New York, office, James N. Hendricks, sexually harassed eight subordinates at the FBI.
Hendricks also was not named in the OIG report despite its findings. He was first identified in September by the Albany Times Union. One current and one former colleague of Hendricks confirmed his role in the case to AP.
Hendricks now writes a law enforcement blog in which he touts his FBI accolades but makes no mention of the misconduct allegations. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Becky, the former analyst, told AP she once believed FBI's ''organizational values and mission aligned with how I was raised.'' But she was disabused of that notion after reporting to management that Charles Dick, a supervisory special agent at the FBI Training Academy at the time, sexually assaulted her at a farewell party.
Becky told AP her assailant had threatened her at least two times before. ''Once while we were waiting for the director he said, 'I'm going to touch your ass. You know it's going to happen.'''
''His boorish behavior was well known,'' she added. ''He was getting away with everything.''
In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Becky accused the former agent of wrapping his arm around her chest while posing for a photograph and ''reaching under her and simulating'' penetration of her ''with his fingers through her jeans.''
Dick denied the charges and was acquitted in state court in Virginia by a judge who ruled it ''wholly incredible'' that Becky would ''stand there and take it and not say anything,'' according to a transcript of the proceeding. Dick retired from the FBI months before the Inspector General followed up on Becky's internal complaint, Becky alleged in her lawsuit, adding she faced retaliation for coming forward.
''It's much easier to suffer in isolation than it is to go public,'' she told AP. ''But if I don't report it, I'm complicit in the cultural and institutionalized cover-up of this sort of behavior.''
AP reporter Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
Baltic News Network '' News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia >> Activist detained in Latvia for fake COVID-19 news put under arrest
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:51
Photo: Unsplash
On Thursday, 10 December, Riga City Latgale Suburb Court decided to put activist ValentÄns Jeremejevs, who was previously detained by authorities for spreading false news related to COVID-19, under arrest.
He does have time until 10 January to pay EUR 50 000 in bail to be released, however, as LETA was told by the court.
The other person detained in this criminal case was applied with a security measure not associated with deprivation of freedom, LETA was told by State Police Public Relations Office. Police did not reveal the name of this person but LETA is aware it is paramedic from Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital Marina Kornatovska.
On Wednesday, 9 December, Latvia's State Police detained Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital (RAKUS) paramedic Marina Kornatovska and activist ValentÄns Jeremejevs over fake news about COVID-19, according to information from LETA.
State Police representative Gita Gžibovska affirms that the Cyber Crimes Enforcement Union has detained a man and a woman in relation to a criminal process regarding fake news posted on Facebook about COVID-19 infection.
Fake news was related to public health risks, and had caused a public resonance, confusion over legality and was aimed against epidemiological safety.
The criminal process was launched in accordance with the section of the Criminal Law on hooliganism.
This crime is punishable with deprivation of freedom of up to two years, community service or fine.
The investigation continues. In the interest of the investigation, police do not provide more detailed information. The law states that it is possible to detain a person for up to 48 hours. If necessary, security measures may be applied, with the most severe one being an arrest. The decision on application of an arrest is made by a court of justice.
LTV programme Panorāma reported last week that the video posted by scandalous activist ValentÄns Jeremejevs>> had caused a wide public resonance. This video contained a number of previously heard conspiracy theories about COVID-19. In this video some of the theories were presented by a person presented as a doctor and employee of RAKUS.
In the more than half an hour long video paramedic Marina Kornatovska referenced the classic conspiracy tale '' COVID-19 is made-up, statistics about infected people is fabricated, overloading of hospitals is a myth, the unconfirmed vaccines are actually deadly. The paramedic went as far as to say doctors intentionally make things worse for patients suffering from pneumonia.
The treatment provided for pneumonia patients has a suspicious and confusing treatment algorithm. I can see a different clinical picture, but I have a suspicion that it's not because of the increased virus activity, but because of what is done with patients during treatment,>> said the paramedic. According to him, experiments are underway to find a way to kill people faster or create an impression that patients have been healed.
A day prior the woman had spread an audio file with other made-up facts '' that a hospital for COVID-19 patients will be set up in ĶÄpsala and the upcoming vaccines will be deadly.
Kornatovska is a paramedic '' an assistant doctor at RAKUS Toxicology and Sepsis Clinic, where COVID-19 patients are put.
Covid Loves Everyone. Keep Covid Out.
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:41
I love life! Going to all the places, doing all the things and spreading the fun to everyone. Bring me to your next get-together, I'd love to meet your friends and family.
I'm the biggest newsmaker of 2020. Make me even more viral.
You already know what I love. Time to tell you what really crumbles my cookies.
Take it off and come close, I have a secret... I hate masks.
I hate the smell of this stuff. Plus, sanitizers kill germs. Ask yourself: are you a cold-blooded killer?
Two metres, six feet, one ski-length'...however you measure it, I hate it.
I'm super tech challenged, so yeah, I won't be coming to your virtual party.
Nobody travels like me, I'm the ultimate globetrotter. So if you're planning any flights or road trips, I might just tag along.
It breaks my heart when people ghost me for two weeks. I meet them, and they avoid me like the plague.
Sure I'll go to the clinic, but only if we can stop for ice cream and groceries and to try on some clothes.
From Edmonton to East Timor, Covid's made a name for himself as an international love bug. Poor or rich, young or old, healthy or not, he isn't picky.
GRANNY She's so small and sweet, I could just eat her up.
GRANDPA Enjoy his war stories while you still can.
COUSINS Extended family? Extended suffering.
SIBLINGS You've been sharing all your life. Why stop now?
MOM She gave you birth. The least you could give her is Covid.
DAD I'll take more than just a chip off the old block.
BFFS One less birthday to remember.
WIVES 'Til Covid do us part.
HUSBANDS You'll only see the man of your dreams, in your dreams.
LITTLE ONES Twinkle twinkle little star, oh how vulnerable you are.
MOMMIES-TO-BE I've got serious pregnancy cravings.
Flatten the curve. Spread awareness. Not Covid.
''When your dog licks your face, it could be giving you COVID-19. And pink eye.''
Myth or Fact
''When your dog licks your face, it could be giving you COVID-19. And pink eye.''
Myth or Fact
There's no evidence your pets can give you COVID-19, but tons of evidence '¨they love you.
''Watch where your mail comes from'--it could be a special delivery of COVID-19''
Myth or Fact
''Watch where your mail comes from'--it could be a special delivery of COVID-19''
Myth or Fact
There's no proof COVID-19 spreads through the mail, but you should still shop online and local whenever you can.
''Oregano oil, apple cider vinegar and crystals ward off COVID-19''
Myth or Fact
''Oregano oil, apple cider vinegar and crystals ward off COVID-19''
Myth or Fact
COVID-19 laughs at these.
''Travel abroad = bad. Travel throughout Canada = good.''
Myth or Fact
''Travel abroad = bad. Travel throughout Canada = good.''
Myth or Fact
You know, COVID-19's still a thing beyond our borders, provincial and otherwise.
''Plan a summer vacay, this will all blow over by then.''
Myth or Fact
''Plan a summer vacay, this will all blow over by then.''
Myth or Fact
Who knows? Until a vaccine is widely available, nobody.
So do the guidelines and information around COVID-19 safety.
For the latest from Dr. Hinshaw:
Official guidelines and safety protocols:
Government of Alberta support programs for those most affected:
Michigan State University students must have flu vaccine to be on campus in spring, president says - mlive.com
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:37
The Beaumont Memorial Tower on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. MLive.com MLive.com
EAST LANSING, MI '-- Students at Michigan State University are required to have a flu vaccine if they want to be on campus next semester.
Students will be asked to verify if they have received the vaccine before coming to campus in January, MSU President Samuel L. Stanley said in a message to the campus community Thursday, Dec. 10. The move comes as another measure to protect the public health, Stanley said.
In October, Stanley announced that students would be required to participate in MSU's COVID-19 Early Detection Program, and saliva testing will be available Jan. 4. Faculty and staff, as well as students living off campus, are encouraged to participate in the program, Stanley said.
MSU is also asking students to quarantine for at least 10 to 14 days before coming back to campus. Students should remain at their local residences and leave only for ''life-sustaining activities, such as seeking medical care, purchasing food or groceries or exercising outdoors,'' Stanley said.
All of those measures give Stanley and his administration confidence that the MSU community will be able to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.
''As we close out 2020, I hope you will continue to do your part to protect yourself, your friends and loved ones '-- whether you are in the East Lansing area or have returned home for the holiday season,'' Stanley said.
MSU's spring semester, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 11 for undergraduate students, will feature more in-person classes and students on campus. Approximately 2,500 additional single-occupancy residence hall spaces are available to students who want or need to live on campus next semester, Stanley previously said.
With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extending her most recent executive order to Dec. 20, it's unclear if she will further extend the order beyond that date, Stanley said. The university is going to remain flexible and continue adapting its plans as necessary, according to Stanley.
More information can be found here.
No spring break, more in-person classes coming for Michigan State University students
As some schools went remote, Northern Michigan University pushed ahead with in-person classes
2-year, on-campus living requirement back at Michigan State University
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Former Special Forces Officer Warns of Color Revolution Tactics Used Against Trump
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:16
Color revolution tactics that have been used against foreign leaders are now being used by President Donald Trump's opponents to oust him, a former special forces officer has warned.
''A color revolution is a tactic to affect regime change,'' the officer, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Epoch Times. ''What I see happening is a Marxist insurgency that's using a color revolution to affect regime change.''
The 2019 Transition Integrity Project, according to the officer, is an indicator that the events of this year's presidential election were ''transparently orchestrated'' by ''Marxist elements within the Democratic Party and their Marxist allies in foreign governments.''
''It may not have fallen out just as they wanted, because anytime you carry out an operation like this, the enemy will get a vote. But the plan was we will not concede the election. The goal here was never the presidency,'' the officer said. ''The goal of the opposition was to fundamentally change the country. They are attacking the efficacy of the Constitution.''
To achieve their goal, the anti-Trump opposition focused their main effort on affecting the election, the officer said.
Some of the most notable color revolutions took place amid turmoil sparked by disputed elections. In 2004, mass protests in Ukraine following allegations of a fraudulent presidential election, which initially showed pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovych as the winner, led to a new vote won by Viktor Yushchenko, the candidate backed by the European Union and the United States.
The officer said the tactics used by the anti-Trump opposition can be found in the Special Forces' guide for overthrowing a government.
''What you're getting from me, this is supported in all older unconventional warfare doctrines,'' the officer said. ''You could go to our manuals and pull from them the information I'm telling you. This isn't from someone who's a rabid Trump supporter. This is what's happening.''
The officer then talked about how President Barack Obama used his eight years in office to ''seed his political allies all through the institutions,'' created an ''underground'' or ''shadow government'' supported by legacy media and rioters.
''With the president being unable to get his own people into the administration, we effectively had a third administration of Obama,'' the officer said. ''So we come to what we have today: The underground are the elements within the government. We saw how they opposed the president, how they tried the impeachment.''
''The press is the auxiliary on the outside. The only thing we're missing is a real guerrilla force, and we would be mistaken to think that's just Antifa or Black Lives Matter. There are professional revolutionaries within those movements.''
Black Lives Matter power grab sets off internal revolt
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 14:08
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, shown in 2018, has been the subject of pushback from local leaders. | Amy Harris/Invision/AP
The Black Lives Matter movement is buckling under the strain of its own success, with tensions rising between local chapters and national leaders over the group's goals, direction '-- and money.
From the beginning, Black Lives Matter was a grassroots effort, born in the streets with no central hierarchy. The idea: to keep power concentrated in the hands of its members, the people.
AdvertisementThat's changing. After a summer of protests that made Black Lives Matter a household name, those atop the movement are making a series of moves to alter its power structure: organizing a political action committee, forming corporate partnerships, adding a third organizing arm and demanding an audience with President-elect Joe Biden.
The moves have triggered mutiny in the ranks. Ten local chapters are severing ties with the Black Lives Matter Global Network, as the national leadership is known. They are furious that Patrisse Cullors, its remaining co-founder, assumed the role of executive director of the group and made these decisions without their input. That's a move, that, to some, signaled a rebuke of its ''leaderful'' structure, which gave every member an equal say and kept anyone '-- including a founder '-- from overreaching.
The operations of Black Lives Matter have always been opaque, with thousands of members and dozens of affiliates. Two of its three co-founders are no longer affiliated with the movement '-- even as they continue to represent Black Lives Matter on TV. Local Black Lives Matter activists say national leaders cut them off from funding and decision-making, leaving them broke and taking the movement in a direction with which they fundamentally disagree. And as the Black Lives Matter movement grows in influence, with millions in donations and celebrity endorsements, local organizers argue they're the ones in the streets pushing for change '-- and they're not getting their due.
''There's been intentional erasure,'' of local activists, said Sheri Dickerson, lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City. ''People assume that that money is distributed to local chapters. That is not the case. People also assume that when actions are made, that national [leadership] has the support and agreement from this collective that what they're saying is representative of us. And that's certainly not the case.''
AdvertisementThe fallout follows an all-too familiar trajectory of other grassroots movements. And how its leaders respond to the call for accountability could have major implications for Black Lives Matter's long-term influence '-- just as an administration potentially more sympathetic to its goals comes into power.
With Cullors at its helm, Black Lives Matter this year positioned itself as a new leader in activism and politics at the forefront of the national reckoning on race. After forming the PAC, which helped fund its ad campaigns to mobilize Black voters, it formalized its third arm, Black Lives Matter Grassroots, to focus entirely on activism.
But the spotlight on these changes is now exposing fractures in its operation and leadership structure as its ground troops go public with their complaints.
''We became chapters of Black Lives Matter as radical Black organizers embracing a collective vision for Black people engaging in the protracted struggle for our lives against police terrorism,'' 10 local chapters wrote in an open letter last week. ''With a willingness to do hard work that would put us at risk, we expected that the central organizational entity '... would support us chapters in our efforts to build communally.''
AdvertisementThe 10 chapters that signed the letter, the self-proclaimed #BLM10, laid out a half-dozen points of contention and long-standing grievances. Cullors is chief among their complaints, they said, arguing she made a power grab when she appointed herself executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
They also said there's a lack of transparency over money the movement has raised and how chapters can access it. Since Black Lives Matter formed in 2013, the chapters complained they've received scant financial support, despite repeated promises.
Members have brought this up as early as 2016 and frustrated chapters planned to go public with their grievances months ago. But they were encouraged to wait and discuss the issues with Cullors privately. Those discussions were not productive, they say.
A man holds up a "Black Lives Matter" banner as thousands celebrate Joe Biden's win over President Donald Trump near the White House on Nov. 7. | Evan Semones/POLITICO
''We didn't have an opportunity to agree to discuss. Nothing,'' said Yahn(C) Ndgo, a lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Philadelphia. ''So then we ask questions, and we are told no answers.''
Cullors declined comment. But representatives with the Black Lives Matter Global Network disputed the #BLM10's complaints in an emailed statement, arguing most of the quarreling chapters are not formally affiliated with the global network. Instead, they say, the #BLM10 are using the Black Lives Matter name in a bid for credibility and money. And because of its funding structure, the network is limited by how much it can give local chapters.
''Chapters that are a part of BLM Grassroots joined a unity pledge that laid out a set of organizing principles,'' the statement reads, adding that most of the #BLM10 declined to sign on. ''Regardless of their affiliation, we know these groups will continue to do good and necessary work in their communities.''
Black Lives Matters co-founders Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, who are no longer affiliated with the global network, and representatives from the Movement for Black Lives declined to comment for this story. Garza is now principal of the Black Futures Lab, a think tank that studies Black political power.
''It's exceedingly hard to hold movements together''Things came to a head this year when the confluence of several crises '-- the coronavirus, systemic racism and economic turmoil '-- highlighted both the gravity of the work that Black Lives Matter does and discrepancies in its execution. By the end of June, the Black Lives Matter Global Network had raised more than $13 million in donations and cemented its role as a political power and organizing force. But local organizers said they saw little or no money and were forced to crowdfund to stay afloat. Some organizers say they were barely able to afford gas or housing.
Advertisement''What [supporters] see is national folks talking about trying to get a meeting with Biden, while kids are literally outside of my door asking for food,'' said April Goggans, lead organizer with Black Lives Matter D.C.
If this dynamic sounds familiar, that's because it is, said Omar Wasow, a political science professor at Princeton University, who studies protest movements.
"It's almost a truism that movements will [fracture] over time," Wasow said. "It's exceedingly hard to hold movements together over the long haul."
Activist organizations often split along factions as members disagree about how to advocate for change, Wasow said. Typically, they disagree about whether it's more effective to work within the system or continue to agitate from the outside. And Black movement leaders from different groups have been at odds over reforms even earlier this year.
Campaign Zero, a racial justice group focused on ending police violence, was widely criticized by a number of Black Lives Matter activists for advocating for solutions they felt didn't move the needle far enough on police reform. Its #8CantWait campaign, which called for an eight-step approach to ending police violence, took a lot of heat for calling for measures that were tried and failed, while relying on shoddy data to underline them. The Campaign Zero team, originally led by Johnetta Elzie, DeRay McKesson, Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Samuel Sinyangwe, later issued a public apology for rushing out the campaign so quickly. Cunningham later resigned from Campaign Zero.
Which is to say, the splintering of Black Lives Matter is no anomaly.
''I've seen it play out on gender lines. I've seen it played out on class lines. I've seen it play out on the national-versus-local lines,'' said Justin Hansford, executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University, who helped lead protests in Ferguson in the wake of Mike Brown's death.
''And this seems to be the last of those dynamics playing out within the organization itself.''
''I'm not begging Biden''This is not the first time Black Lives Matter faced internal conflict. The Black Lives Matter Global Network and Movement for Black Lives are made up of thousands of organizers and dozens of associated organizing groups. While united in their main goals, getting consensus on key decisions has been tricky, particularly as the audience for their work has grown exponentially along with the appetite for solutions to the issues they are fighting.
AdvertisementKeeping track of new developments within the Black Lives Matter movement can be confusing even for insiders. Its structure purportedly gave organizers equal say in decision-making. But ultimately, that sowed confusion about who was formally affiliated with the movement and therefore eligible for funds raised by the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
This frustrated a number of longtime Black Lives Matter members. It's what prompted leaders from stronghold chapters like Washington, Chicago and Philadelphia to sign the letter. They say they didn't receive guidance or support from the movement they helped build, despite voicing their concerns as early as 2016.
''From the first time somebody said the word Black Lives Matter, there was confusion because there was always this idea that the decision of who gets credit was a political one,'' Hansford said. ''All throughout the movement, there's always been a question of who gets credit and following that, who gets the reward.''
In July, affiliate chapters were invited to apply for funding the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation received in the form of unrestricted, multiyear grants up to $500,000. But the #BLM10 say it wasn't clear which chapters were ''legitimate'' affiliates. As a result, few qualified for help. That stoked tensions within the ranks, particularly as public opinion toward Black Lives Matter began to slip.
They also disagreed with the new focus on national politics over local fights for police reform. There was ''absolutely no way'' they would have agreed with those decisions if local chapters were consulted, they said.
''That being a central message and a central focus for the entire nation? Absolutely not something that we would have been aligned with,'' Ndgo said, referencing the ''protest to the polls'' messaging that Cullors was amplifying ahead of November.
Tensions also flared among some organizers when Cullors '-- along with Garza and Tometi, made the rounds on cable TV.
''Chapters who we know, who we've been working with, who '... do this work, have not been acknowledged or supported, yet you will find them talked about either on stage or in interviews on TV,'' Goggans said. ''They might as well just be pictures on a fundraising brochure '-- we all might as well be.''
AdvertisementThere was also a disconnect around the scope and focus of Black Lives Matter's organizing. While chapters focused on police accountability and funding '-- a largely local debate that has gained national attention '-- they were unaware that leaders of the global network had shifted their efforts.
''I'm not begging Biden, or Harris, for any type of sit-down or meeting,'' said Chanelle Helm, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Louisville. ''I'm trying to get my mayor out of his seat, because he keeps doing the same shit he's doing.''
Three other chapters in the Black Lives Matter's Southern region are unaffiliated with the #BLM10 but support their complaints. In a letter shared with POLITICO, they said the restructuring of the Black Lives Matter organization reflects ''a growing gap'' between the chapters and national leadership.
The disaffected chapters are no longer affiliated with the Black Lives Matter Global Network, they said, but they will continue the work they've been doing for years. And, they said, they will continue to work under the Black Lives Matter banner.
''This is our name, we've worked for it. And I feel that chapters have really honored that name and made it strong,'' said Amika Tendaji, a lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago.
Dickerson, of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma City, cited the famous scene from ''What's Love Got to Do With It,'' when Tina Turner tells Ike Turner the only thing she wants from him in their divorce is her name.
''People recognize our power within our communities,'' she said. ''We're not a brand. We are a revolution.''
Filed Under: Joe Biden, Joe Biden 2020, Racism, African-Americans, Bobby Rush, Protests, Black Lives Matter, DeRay Mckesson, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, The Fifty, Patrisse Cullors
How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies - POLITICO Magazine
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 13:30
SAN FRANCISCO'--In the fall of 1989, during the Cold War's wan and washed-out final months, the Berlin Wall was crumbling'--and so was San Francisco. The powerful Loma Prieta earthquake, the most destructive to hit the region in more than 80 years, felled entire apartment buildings. Freeway overpasses shuddered and collapsed, swallowing cars like a sandpit. Sixty-three people were killed and thousands injured. And local Soviet spies, just like many other denizens of the Bay Area, applied for their share of the nearly $3.5 billion in relief funds allocated by President George H.W. Bush.
FBI counterintelligence saw an opening, recalled Rick Smith, who worked on the Bureau's San Francisco-based Soviet squad from 1972 to 1992. When they discovered that a known Soviet spy, operating under diplomatic cover, had filed a claim, Smith and several other bureau officials posed as federal employees disbursing relief funds to meet with the spy. The goal was to compromise him with repeated payments, then to turn him. ''We can offer your full claim,'' Smith told the man. ''Come meet us again.'' He agreed.
But the second time, the suspected intel officer wasn't alone. FBI surveillance teams reported that he was being accompanied by a Russian diplomat known to the FBI as the head of Soviet counterintelligence in San Francisco. The operation, Smith knew, was over'--the presence of the Soviet spy boss meant that the FBI's target had reported the meeting to his superiors'--but they had to go through with the meeting anyway. The two Soviet intelligence operatives walked into the office room. The undercover FBI agents, who knew the whole affair had turned farcical, greeted the Soviet counterintelligence chief.
''What,'' he replied, ''You didn't expect me to come?''
We tend to think of espionage in the United States as an East Coast phenomenon: shadowy foreign spies working out of embassies in Washington, or at missions to the United Nations in New York; dead drops in suburban Virginia woodlands, and surreptitious meetings on park benches in Manhattan's gray dusk.
But foreign spies have been showing up uninvited to San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a very long time. According to former U.S. intelligence officials, that's true today more than ever. In fact, they warn'--especially because of increasing Russian and Chinese aggressiveness, and the local concentration of world-leading science and technology firms'--there's a full-on epidemic of espionage on the West Coast right now. And even more worrisome, many of its targets are unprepared to deal with the growing threat.
Fog overtakes the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. | Getty Images
Unlike on the East Coast, foreign intel operations here aren't as focused on the hunt for diplomatic secrets, political intelligence or war plans. The open, experimental, cosmopolitan work and business culture of Silicon Valley in particular has encouraged a newer, ''softer,'' ''nontraditional'' type of espionage, said former intelligence officials'--efforts that mostly target trade secrets and technology. ''It's a very subtle form of intelligence collection that is more business connected and oriented,'' one told me. But this economic espionage is also ubiquitous. Spies ''are very much part of the everyday environment'' here, said this person. Another former intelligence official told me that, at one point recently, a full 20 percent of all the FBI's active counterintelligence-related intellectual property cases had originated in the Bay Area. (The FBI declined to comment for this story.)
Political espionage happens here, too. China, for example, is certainly out to steal U.S. technology secrets, noted former intelligence officials, but it also is heavily invested in traditional political intelligence gathering, influence and perception-management operations in California. Former intelligence officials told me that Chinese intelligence once recruited a staff member at a California office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the source reported back to China about local politics. (A spokesperson for Feinstein said the office doesn't comment on personnel matters or investigations, but noted that no Feinstein staffer in California has ever had a security clearance.) At the Aspen Security Forum last week, FBI director Chris Wray acknowledged the threat Chinese spying in particular poses, saying, ''China from a counterintelligence perspective represents the broadest, most pervasive, most threatening challenge we face as a country.''
Making it even more complicated, said multiple former U.S. intel officials, many foreign intel ''collectors'' in the Bay Area are not spies in the traditional sense of the term. They aren't based out of embassies or consulates, and may be associated with a state-owned business or research institute rather than an intelligence agency. Chinese officials, in particular, often cajole or outright threaten Chinese nationals (or U.S. citizens with family members in China) working or studying locally to provide them with valuable technological information.
''You get into situations where you have really good, really bright, conscientious people, twisted by their home government,'' said a chief security officer at a major cloud storage company that maintains sensitive government contracts. U.S.-based Chinese employees of this company have had Chinese government officials attempt to ''leverage'' these individuals' family members in China, this person told me. The company now requires employees working on certain projects to be U.S. citizens.
As Silicon Valley continues to take over the world, the local spy war will only get hotter'--and the consequences will resonate far beyond Northern California.
And yet, it's not clear that the Bay Area'--historically famous for its liberalism, and now infamous for its madcap capitalism'--is prepared to handle this escalation and these new tactics. Tech firms, especially start-ups, lack incentives to report potential espionage to U.S. officials; and businesses and universities are often ignorant about the espionage threat, or so attuned to local political sensitivities they may fear being accused of stereotyping if they attempt to institute more stringent defensive security and screening measures.
As Silicon Valley continues to take over the world, the local spy war will only get hotter'--and the consequences will resonate far beyond Northern California. This story is based on extensive conversations with more than half a dozen former intelligence community officials with direct knowledge of, or experience with, U.S. counterintelligence activities in the Bay Area. All requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters more openly. A few other individuals, all of whom worked counterintelligence in the Bay Area from the early 1970s through the mid-2000s, agreed to be interviewed on the record.
As one former senior intelligence official put it: ''San Francisco is a trailblazer'--you see the changes there in foreign counterintelligence first. Trends emerge there.'' If we want to understand a world where Russia and China are ramping up their spy games against the United States, then we need to pay attention to what's happening in San Francisco.
Russian intelligence has had an intensive interest in San Francisco stretching back to the beginning of the Cold War. In those days, the Russians were primarily gathering information on local military installations, said former officials, including the Presidio, the strategically located former military base set on a wind-swept northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
Since then, Russian operations have become bolder, with one notable exception: the immediate post-Cold War period. ''The only time there was a collective sigh regarding Russia, like maybe things have changed, was under Gorbachev,'' said LaRae Quy, who worked on Russian and Chinese counterintelligence in the Bay Area from 1985 to 2002. ''We even put in a big 'Going Out Of Business' sign in the Palo Alto squad room.''
But this optimism quickly faded when Putin was elected in 2000, recalled Quy, who retired in 2006. ''Russia has been steadily escalating since then.''
As the Bay Area transformed itself into a tech hub, Russia adapted its efforts accordingly, with Russian spies increasingly focused on obtaining information on valuable, sensitive or potentially dual-use technologies'--those with both civilian and military applications'--being developed or financed by companies or venture-capital firms based in the region. Russia's espionage activities have traditionally been centered on its San Francisco Consulate, which was forcibly closed by the Trump administration in early September 2017.
But even with the consulate shuttered, there are alternative vehicles for Russian intelligence-gathering in Silicon Valley. One potential mechanism, said three former intelligence officials, is Rusnano USA, the sole U.S. subsidiary of Rusnano, a Russian government-owned venture capital firm primarily focused on nanotechnology. Rusnano USA, which was founded in 2011, is located in Menlo Park, near Stanford University. ''Some of the [potential intelligence-gathering] activities Rusnano USA was involved in were not only related to the acquisition of technology, but also inserting people into venture capital groups, in developing those relationships in Silicon Valley that allowed them to get their tentacles into everything,'' one former intelligence official told me. ''And Rusnano USA was kind of the mechanism for that.''
A visitor at Rusnano's exhibit at the 2017 Moscow International Open Innovations Forum. | AP
Rusnano's interests, said this former official, have extended to technology with both civilian and potential military applications. U.S. intelligence officials were very concerned about contacts between Rusnano USA employees and suspected Russian intelligence officers based at Russia's San Francisco Consulate and elsewhere, this person said. ''The Russians treated [Rusnano USA] as an intelligence platform, from which they launched operations,'' said another former U.S. intelligence official. (Rusnano USA and the Russian Embassy in Washington, did not respond to requests for comment.)
Russia also employs older, tried-and-true methods locally. Intel officials have suspected that Russian spies were enlisting local high-end Russian and Eastern European prostitutes, in a classic Russian ''honeypot'' maneuver, to gather information from (and on) Bay Area tech and venture-capital executives. Sex workers targeting executives at high-end bars and nightclubs such as the Rosewood Sand Hill, an ultra-luxury hotel located near many of Silicon Valley's top financial firms'--infamous for its raucous, hook-up oriented Thursday nights'--the Redwood Room, a tony bar located in the Clift Hotel in downtown San Francisco, and other spots have been identified as potentially reporting back to Russian intel officers, said another former official. ''If I were a Russian intelligence officer, and I knew that these high-end girls were dragging CEOs of major companies back to their rooms, I'd be paying them for info too,'' said this person. ''It's that whole idea of concentric rings: You don't need to be on the inside, you just need somebody on the inside that you have access to.''
Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election has given Putin's regime an outsized role in the national conversation on espionage. But talk to former intel officials, and many will say that China poses an equal, if not greater, long-term threat. ''The Chinese just have vast resources,'' said Kathleen Puckett, who worked counterintelligence in the Bay Area from 1979 to 2007. ''They have all the time in the world, and all the patience in the world. Which is what you need more than anything.'' (China's Embassy in Washington, did not respond to requests for comment.)
Because of California's economic and political importance, as well as its large, well-established, and influential (C)migr(C) and Chinese-American communities, the People's Republic places great weight on its intelligence activities here, said multiple former intelligence officials. Indeed, two told me that California is the only U.S. state to which the Ministry of State Security'--China's main foreign intelligence agency'--has had a dedicated unit, focused on political intelligence and influence operations. (China has had a similar unit for Washington.)
And if California is elevated among Chinese interests, San Francisco is like ''nirvana'' to the MSS, said one former official, because of the potential to target community leaders and local politicians who may later become mayors, governors or congressmen. Their efforts are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
Sometimes these recruitment efforts have been successful. According to four former intelligence officials, in the 2000s, a staffer in Senator Dianne Feinstein's San Francisco field office was reporting back to the MSS. While this person, who was a liaison to the local Chinese community, was fired, charges were never filed against him. (One former official reasoned this was because the staffer was providing political intelligence and not classified information'--making prosecution far more difficult.) The suspected informant was ''run'' by officials based at China's San Francisco Consulate, said another former intelligence official. The spy's handler ''probably got an award back in China'' for his work, noted this former official, dryly.
Or take the case of Rose Pak. Pak, who died in September 2016, was for decades one of San Francisco's preeminent political power brokers. Though she never held elective office, she was famous for making and unmaking mayors, city councilmen (or ''supervisors,'' as they're known in San Francisco), and pushing city contracts to her allies and constituents in Chinatown.
Rose Pak poses for a photo at San Francisco's Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 2003. | AP
According to four former intelligence officials, there were widespread concerns that Pak had been co-opted by Chinese intelligence, and was wielding influence over San Francisco politics in ways purposefully beneficial to the Chinese government. Another worry, U.S. officials said, was Pak's role in organizing numerous junkets to China, sometimes led by Pak in person and attended (often multiple times) by many prominent Bay Area politicians, including former San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who died while in office in 2017. Political junkets are used by Chinese intelligence for surveillance (''every single hotel room is bugged,'' one former official told me) and collection purposes, as well as for spotting and assessing potential recruits, said former intel officials. (There is no indication that Pak herself participated in, or had knowledge of, specific intelligence-gathering efforts.) Concerns about Pak's links to the Chinese Communist Party occasionally percolated into local political debate, but the intelligence community's identification of Pak as a likely agent of influence for Beijing is being reported here for the first time.
Occasionally, Chinese intelligence activities in San Francisco burst into plain view. Consider the story'--and it is an incredible one, also told here for the first time'--of the 2008 Olympic Torch Run. San Francisco was the only U.S. city to host the Olympic torch as it made its way, tortuously, to Beijing. And Chinese officials were very concerned about disruptions to the run by protesters, as well as in managing the image China projected to the rest of the world in the run-up to the games.
So they decided to leave nothing to chance. According to three former intelligence officials, Chinese MSS and Ministry of Public Security (MPS) officers flew in to San Francisco from abroad for the occasion, joining suspected MSS officers based in the Bay Area. (At the time, the diplomat responsible for Overseas Chinese Affairs at China's San Francisco Consulate was a suspected MSS officer, said two of these former officials.) U.S. officials watched as Chinese intelligence officers filmed Tibetan monks on their march across the Golden Gate Bridge, and known Chinese spies surveilled a pro-Tibet rally downtown featuring Desmond Tutu and Richard Gere. Chinese spies also recorded participants in a Falun Gong rally in Union Square, and shot footage of protestors at the torch run itself.
Most brazenly, said former intelligence agents, Chinese officials bussed in 6,000-8,000 J-Visa holding students'--threatening them with the loss of Chinese government funding'--from across California to disrupt Falun Gong, Tibetan, Uighur and pro-democracy protesters. (They even provided these students with a box lunch.) ''I'm not sure they would have pulled out these stops in any other city, but San Francisco is special'' to China, said a former senior U.S. official.
At an April 2008 rally for the Olympic torch, a young supporter of China (right) yells at pro-Tibet demonstrators. | AP
Counterintelligence officers possessed advance knowledge about some aspects of this operation and observed Chinese intelligence officers, who often wore earpieces connected to a radio, managing the movements of counterprotesters, directing blocs of pro-PRC students to intimidate, disrupt and overwhelm anti-Beijing protesters across the parade route. Chinese intelligence officers would ''communicate with each other, and say, 'We've got three Tibetan monks about to do a reading on Pier 39'--I need you to move bloc A and bloc B to that location so we can drown them out,''' recalled another former official. ''So they'd move these groups around to prevent any protests along the Embarcadero.''
''We got pissed off,'' said the same former intelligence official, because the Chinese ''were interfering with the free expression of opinion'' at the torch relay'--their operation was, in essence, an effort by a hostile foreign intelligence service to forcibly suppress First Amendment activities in a major American city.
Disagreements between the FBI and the State Department, which counseled a more restrained approach, prevented U.S. intelligence personnel from interfering directly in Chinese activities during the torch run itself, said this former intel official. (The State Department said it does not comment on intelligence matters.) The same source noted that U.S. intelligence officials did, however, pass information about the torch run to their Australian counterparts'--the torch was later scheduled to pass through Canberra'--which denied visas to some of the Chinese intelligence officers responsible for the melee in San Francisco.
Chinese intelligence has long focused on surveilling, and attempting to control, Chinese nationals studying abroad. One well-documented mechanism for this effort has been the use of Chinese Students and Scholars Associations groups on university campuses. The connectivity between individual campus CSSAs and local Chinese diplomatic facilities varies. Some groups are unreceptive to the intercession or influence of Chinese government officials, but many consider themselves to be under the direct ''guidance'' of their local consulate or embassy, receiving funds from these institutions. ''Intelligence officers in diplomatic facilities are the primary point of contact for students in CSSAs,'' said one former official.
But some of these links between these student groups and Chinese officials are covert, and even coercive. In one case in the mid-2000s in the Midwest, a student affiliated with a CSSA reported another Chinese student's contact with the FBI to an MSS officer operating under diplomatic cover in Chicago, said a former intelligence official. The student was quickly flown out of the country. And, roughly half a decade ago in the Bay Area, counterintelligence officials believed that a graduate student affiliated with the Berkeley CSSA was working for the MSS, and reporting on the activities of other Chinese students on campus, said another former official.
When it comes to economic espionage in particular, Chinese intelligence employs a more decentralized strategy than Russia does, former intelligence officials told me. China draws from a much larger population pool to achieve its objectives'--using opportunistic businessmen, ardent nationalists, students, travelers and others alike. One former intelligence official likened China's approach to an ''Oklahoma land rush'''--an attempt to grab as much targeted proprietary technology or IP as possible, as quickly as possible, through as many channels as possible.
Chinese intelligence also undertakes very intentional efforts to recruit insiders placed within organizations whose technologies they are interested in, said the same former intelligence official. ''They are very good at softly recruiting people, and taking advantage of vulnerabilities'''--including via threats'--''and they are very patient in putting different parts of it together. We've seen them repeatedly save money and time that the U.S. spends on research and development.''
The July 2018 arrest of Silicon Valley-based Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang, who allegedly stole proprietary information about Apple's self-driving car program to benefit his new employer, a China-based competitor, appears to fit this pattern. (Zhang was charged with theft of trade secrets and has not been accused of any espionage-related crimes. He maintains his innocence.)
China ''[puts] all their efforts into espionage, and get everything for free,'' said Kathleen Puckett, a former longtime counterintelligence officer in the Bay Area.
The case of Walter Liew, a Bay Area local who was found guilty in 2014 of selling a highly valuable proprietary pigmentation formula owned by DuPont to a state-owned Chinese conglomerate, is a clearer example.
Liew was found guilty of violating the Economic Espionage Act, a landmark 1996 federal law that strengthened penalties for trade theft benefiting a foreign government. San Francisco has played an outsized role in cases involving this law. In fact, the first conviction under the act occurred in San Francisco, in 2006; as did the first sentencing under the law, in 2008; as did the first jury conviction'--of Liew himself'--in 2014. All three cases involved China.
The Chinese have pursued this strategy ''brilliantly'' for years, said Puckett. ''They put all their efforts into espionage, and get everything for free.''
Chinese cyberespionage operations have also targeted a number of Silicon Valley-based technology giants. During a number of attacks, two former intelligence officials told me, Chinese intelligence immediately sought the files of U.S. companies' legal counsel or other legal documentation, to access Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants or National Security Letters previously issued to these institutions. In other words, the paramount Chinese interest was finding out the extent of the U.S. officials' knowledge about China's own intelligence operatives'--and in adjusting their behavior accordingly. ''If in fact the person in question was Chinese intelligence,'' said this former official, ''they could then alter their approach.'' This strategy began being observed during a hack of Google, said two former officials, that occurred about a decade ago.
While China and Russia demand the lion's share of counterintelligence resources in the Bay Area, a number of friendly intelligence services are also active in Silicon Valley, said former intelligence officials. South Korea, according to one, has become ''formidable'' in the realm of economic espionage, with particular sophistication in cyberespionage. U.S. officials have had to issue ''stern warnings'' to South Korea to ''stop hacking'' within the United States, said this person. (The South Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not respond to requests for comment.)
Israel is also active in the Bay Area'--but it's complicated. According to one former intelligence official, Israel has ''a culture that facilitates and encourages acquisition of targeted companies'''--in other words, it will use information it has gathered locally to cajole or incentivize private Israeli firms to purchase specific start-ups or other Silicon Valley-based tech companies. Throughout the 2000s, said former officials, French intelligence employed a similar strategy.
In an email response, a spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., wrote that ''the allegations are totally untrue and downright ridiculous. Israel does not conduct espionage in the United States.'' A spokesperson for the French Embassy declined to comment.
There is disagreement, however, within the U.S. intelligence community about the amount of resources that should be devoted to what is, in essence, a ''soft'' form of spying by U.S. allies. ''I get they try to get advantages from economic espionage,'' said another former senior intelligence official, ''but is French espionage worth that much emotional discharge, given what the Russians are up to?''
There's another big challenge to doing counterintelligence work in the Bay Area, say these officials: getting the cooperation of local private-sector actors, especially in tech. Indeed, said former intelligence officials, not only do many cases of economic espionage not reach the prosecution stage here, they often go unreported entirely.
This has been a longstanding source of friction in the Valley. ''The biggest problem we had'--really, seriously'--with a lot of these companies is that they wouldn't prosecute,'' said Larae Quy, the former Palo Alto-based FBI counterintelligence agent who retired in 2006. ''They would have an employee sell technology to, say, the Russians or the Chinese, and rather than let their stockholders or investors know about it, they just let it walk. So, we've caught the guy, or we have information and we'd like to take it to the next level, and they don't want to push it because of the bad press that gets out. It's the most frustrating thing in the world.''
Silicon Valley firms continue to downplay, or outright conceal, the extent to which the theft of trade secrets and other acts of economic espionage occur, said multiple former officials. ''Coming forward and saying you didn't have controls in place'--that totally impacts shareholder or investor value,'' noted one former intelligence official. ''Especially when you're dealing with startups or mid-level companies that are looking for funding, that's a big deal. You're basically announcing to the world, especially if you're potentially going forward with a public trial, that you were not able to protect your information.''
The open, start-up culture in the Bay Area has also complicated U.S. counterintelligence efforts, said former officials, because Russian and Chinese operatives have an easier time infiltrating organizations without any security systems or hierarchies in place. These services like penetrating young companies and start-ups, noted one former official, because ''it's always better to get in at the ground floor'' when seeking to pilfer valuable information or technology.
The exorbitant cost of living in Silicon Valley, however, means that opportunities for tech employees'--and potential spies or co-optees'--to ''get in at the ground floor'' are becoming increasingly uncommon. The tech industry, chasing talent and lower overhead, is now spread more widely across the country than ever before. And this diffusion will create new vulnerabilities. Consequently, places like Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Boulder, Colorado'--both midsized cities with thriving tech industries'--will likely see an uptick in counterintelligence cases. (One former intelligence official noted that the FBI's office in Austin, Texas, has built up its counterintelligence capacities.)
But spies will never leave Silicon Valley. As the region's global clout grows, so will its magnet-like attraction for the world's spooks. As one former U.S. intelligence official put it, spies are pulled toward the Bay Area ''like moths to the light.'' And the region will help define the struggle for global preeminence'--especially between the United States and China'--for decades to come.
While Eric Swalwell Was Sleeping With a Chinese Spy Adam Schiff Put Him in Charge of CIA Oversight
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 13:21
When newly elected California representative Eric Swalwell arrived in Washington, DC, in January 2013, he brought three things with him: a reputation as someone to watch, having bumped off ossified 20-term Democrat incumbent Pete Stark in the primary; a crap ton of ambition; and a Chinese spy he was banging.
According to media reports, the spy, Fang ''Christine'' Fang, latched onto Swalwell around 2011 when he was a new city councilor for Dublin, California. She became a bundler for his campaign in addition to other services performed. Swalwell let her place at least one intern in his congressional office; as a freshman, he was slotted onto the Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee where Democrat Bennie Thompson was ranking member at the time.
In 2014, Swalwell was reelected. Now part of the new anti-American majority in the House, he moved over to serve under the sociopathic buddy of sexual predator and major Democrat donor Ed Buck, Adam Schiff. Schiff put him in charge of the oversight committee for the CIA.
Sometime in 2015, Christine Fang decamped for China. Swalwell claims the FBI gave him a protective briefing on their suspicions that she was a Chinese agent and that he either cut ties with her or he continued to help the FBI in its inquiries. Swalwell seems a little confused. Strangely, both his father and brother continued to ''friend'' Fang on Facebook. Now, Facebook is blocked by the Chinese government. You can access it by breaking the law and using ways to circumvent the blockage'...or, if you are a Chinese spook, you will get professional assistance in being visible on Facebook. Why would the father and brother be Facebook friends with the woman their brother/son was humping? Your guess is as good as mine, but any series of guesses has to include the high probability that Swalwell remained in contact with her via their Facebook accounts.
Apropos of nothing:
Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington's intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.
But there was no disagreement about the damage. From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.'s sources. According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building '-- a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A.
This is the issue.
Did the FBI brief Adam Schiff on the high probability that Eric Swalwell was deeply compromised? Did Adam Schiff pass along the warning to ranking member Devin Nunes? Did Adam Schiff warn the committee about the possible problem? The answers to the latter two seem to be no. I can't imagine a situation in which an FBI briefing to a single Republican would have remained secret for five years had Schiff kept Swalwell in charge of CIA oversight.
The Federalist tried to pin Schiff down and got nowhere.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff did not respond to The Federalist's questions about Intelligence Committee member and California Rep. Eric Swalwell's position on the committee in light of recent news revealing Swalwell's connections with a suspected Chinese spy.
When asked whether Swalwell's position on the House Intelligence Committee would be tainted or compromised by his relationship with Christine Fang, a suspected spy for communist China, Swalwell's office did not reply as of press time. According to a new report by Axios, Fang leveraged her position and connections in California's Bay Area for years to gather intelligence on Democrat politicians and government officials.
Schiff's office also did not respond when asked if he previously knew about Swalwell's involvement with Fang or if he was briefed about Swalwell's relationship with Fang.
What is looking more and more likely at this point is, assuming that Swalwell is telling the truth about the FBI briefing, is that Schiff was also briefed and made the decision not to inform his colleagues or House leadership that Swalwell was deeply compromised. He elected to leave Swalwell in a position where he would be privy to the progress of the FBI's damage control operation in China.
The other alternative, which is just as likely, is that the same FBI counterintelligence operation that let allowed this woman to boink basically any available Democrat politician never picked up on the fact that she was a Chinese agent at all, and Swalwell is just lying.
Trump Officials Reviewing DOD Support To CIA - Defense One
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 13:00
In the final six weeks of President Trump's administration, political appointees at the Pentagon are reviewing the Pentagon's support to the CIA, including the use of counterterrorism operators detailed to a division of the agency that has been involved in some of the most high-profile clandestine counterterrorism missions in the last two decades.
The idea is to determine whether Defense Department personnel ''detailed'' to the spy agency should instead be used for missions related to competition with Russia and China, rather than counterterrorism, according to multiple former and current administration and military officials.
Critics see a potentially dangerous effort to yank critical Defense Department support to agency efforts in terrorism hotspots across the globe.
Few details on the scope of the review process, including how broad it is, were available on Wednesday. Two sources familiar with the matter said that Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller has sent a letter to CIA Director Gina Haspel saying that a longstanding arrangement offering DOD support to the agency is in jeopardy.
The review is the pet project of Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick, one of several top-level political appointees assigned to acting roles in the Pentagon in the wake of Trump's Election Day loss. Several of those officials, including Cohen-Watnick, are seen as Trump loyalists.
At least on the surface, the goal of the review is part of a larger policy debate about the role special operations force should or can play in what the Defense Department terms ''competition'' with Russia and China. In 2018, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis rolled out a national defense strategy announcing that the United States would prioritize so-called near-peer competitors over the counterterrorism missions of the last 20 years. The strategy was embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike, but the precise role of special operators in this new paradigm has remained a point of debate and academic study.
Some former officials fiercely question the utility of what they see as an effort to curtail the Defense Department's counterterrorism support to the agency.
''I think it's fair for the DOD to say, 'I'd like some of our detailees to be involved in these higher-level missions' '-- and they are '-- but it's going to be very few, because there's very few involved in those missions anyway,'' said one former administration official. ''If they go, 'We don't want to help you with the CT missions' '-- well, somebody has to do it.''
The Defense Department provides a variety of kinds of support to the agency around the globe, including vital logistics assistance and a backbone of physical security in Afghanistan and other active combat zones.
''Other departments and agencies don't need to be as large because DoD supports a ton of other functions across government,'' said one former military official. ''Imagine all the additional resources the CIA would need if they couldn't rely on DOD for support!''
The Pentagon also routinely lends special operations forces to the agency's Special Activities Center to be used in clandestine or covert operations that the United States doesn't want to publicly claim. The military detailees officially come under CIA authority, and become ''a permanent houseguest,'' the former administration official said. The division provides support to both CIA and Defense Department operations, often working alongside local partner forces in places like Afghanistan.
Those who believe the review is laying the groundwork to snip DOD's counterterrorism detailees to the SAC worry that it could endanger the remaining CIA officers still active in combat zones from which the U.S. military is withdrawing '-- at least until President-elect Joe Biden comes into office on Jan. 20.
''It's basically going to ask the CIA to carry the burden for two-and-a-half months and pull the rug out from under them at the same time,'' said the former official. ''If they start dying in Afghanistan, this is going to be a big deal.''
No decisions have yet been made, and some officials say that view is alarmist.
But rumors surrounding the review have burned through the Pentagon in a moment of profound upheaval in the E-Ring. At least some counterterrorism officials feared at one point '-- incorrectly '-- that the authorization for the counterterrorism detail program would not be renewed as normal this month, hinting at the degree of anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the murky initiative.
That three-year authorization has since been signed, but the broader review of Defense Department support to the agency is ongoing.
How did the University of Queensland/CSL vaccine fail due to 'false positive' HIV tests? A vaccine expert explains
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 12:38
Australia's hopes of producing a locally developed COVID-19 vaccine have been dashed with news today the University of Queensland/CSL vaccine would not proceed to further clinical trials.
However, unlike news about the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine earlier this week, there were no safety concerns with the UQ/CSL vaccine.
According to a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) earlier today, CSL said participants in the phase 1 trial received ''false positive'' results to HIV tests. They were not infected with HIV, nor did the vaccine contain the entire HIV virus.
Rather, the vaccine's signature ''molecular clamp'' technology was formulated with parts of an HIV protein. When injected, these prompted the production of antibodies that were picked up in a range of HIV tests. In other words, if the vaccine had been widely rolled out, this could lead many people to think they had HIV when they didn't.
The news prompted the federal government to announce it had cancelled its agreement to supply the UQ/CSL vaccine, which was always contingent on successfully completing clinical trials.
Instead, the government will supply more doses of other vaccines, including 20 million extra doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to be made by CSL.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the first COVID vaccine with published peer-reviewed results from phase 3 clinical trials, a significant milestone.
Read more: The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the first to publish peer-reviewed efficacy results. Here's what they tell us '-- and what they don't
As well as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, existing arrangements are in place to supply Australians with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax vaccines, should they prove safe and effective. That's as well as vaccines available under the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX agreement.
Read more: Australia's just signed up for a shot at 9 COVID-19 vaccines. Here's what to expect
How could a COVID vaccine lead to a positive HIV test?The UQ/CSL vaccine uses ''molecular clamp'' technology to present the coronavirus spike protein in the best orientation to elicit an immune response. In other words, the molecular clamp stops the spike protein from ''wobbling about''. This more stable presentation is more likely to lead to a protective immune response.
The molecular clamp in UQ's vaccine contains part of an HIV protein, a string of 80 amino acids. By itself, this is harmless and cannot cause an HIV infection or AIDS.
But there was always a theoretical possibility that once injected as part of the vaccine formulation, people's immune systems would recognise it as ''foreign'' and raise antibodies against it. Until now, the research team thought the chance of that happening was low. And in its ASX statement CSL said people in the 216-person trial were fully informed of this possibility.
However, from what we've heard today, it's clear that people's immune systems did recognise the HIV protein fragment in the molecular clamp.
Had we rolled out this vaccine on a wider scale, we would have seen many more ''false positive'' HIV tests. This would have meant unnecessary anxiety while people sought further clarification about their HIV status.
It would also have undermined the public's confidence in the COVID vaccination program. You have to have the public on board. So by acting early to clearly communicate concerns, the researchers have acted appropriately. And this should reinforce the public's confidence in Australia's COVID vaccination program, due to start from March 2021.
Read more: What will Australia's COVID vaccination program look like? 4 key questions answered
Is this the end of UQ's 'molecular clamp' technology?This particular molecular clamp is unique to UQ. So while this particular type will not be used for future vaccines, it's likely the researchers will investigate and modify it to reduce the chance of any further HIV cross-reactivity.
I certainly don't think it's the end of this technology.
Read more: From adenoviruses to RNA: the pros and cons of different COVID vaccine technologies
So where does this leave us?We've known all along that not all COVID-19 vaccines in early clinical trials would be successful. Safety issues or a lack of protection will halt some. But in this case, we had something different '-- a complication that would lead people to believe they had HIV when they didn't, undermining people's confidence in the COVID vaccine program.
That's why it's still important to pursue a broad portfolio of vaccine approaches and technologies. We don't want to put all our eggs in one basket.
It's also important to remember that even though the UQ/CSL vaccine will not proceed to late-stage clinical trials, phase 1 trials will continue, with results submitted for peer review in due course. That means researchers can analyse the results in more detail.
Time Person of the Year: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris - CNN
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 04:47
By Kerry Flynn, CNN Business
Updated 11:17 PM EST, Thu December 10, 2020
New York(CNN Business) Time magazine has named Joe Biden and Kamala Harris 2020's Person of the Year.
The two made history on November 7 when they beat Donald Trump in a bitter election that put him in a small club of presidents who served only one term. Harris on that day became the country's first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.
"For changing the American story, for showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are TIME's 2020 Person of the Year," wrote Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was named Businessperson of the Year. The video chat service spiked in popularity amid a health crisis that forced people to work and learn from home.
In the category of Guardians of the Year, Time named activists Assa Traor(C), Porche Bennett-Bey and racial-justice organizers; frontline health workers fighting the pandemic; and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Time magazine's tradition of singling out an especially influential person started in 1927, launching as Man of the Year. The name was later changed to Person of the Year, which is bestowed on an individual, a group, a movement or an idea that had the most influence in the past year. In 2006, Time named "You" as Person of the Year to recognize the millions of people who contribute to content on the internet. Not everyone who made the cut wielded positive influence. Adolf Hitler, for example, was Man of the Year in 1938. In 2019, Time picked young climate activist, Greta Thunberg.
The shortlist unveiled earlier Thursday was a clear reflection of the year's most dramatic events. Biden, Trump, Frontline Health Care Workers and Dr. Fauci and the Movement for Racial Justice were all major characters in a tumultuous year that included a deadly pandemic, social unrest over racial injustices and a contentious election.
NBA star LeBron James was named Athlete of the Year and Korean pop group BTS was Entertainer of the Year, both of which were revealed on NBC's "Today" show Thursday morning. The Person of the Year was introduced in a special prime time broadcast on the network, marking the first time that NBC has partnered with the magazine's Emmy-winning Time Studios on coverage of this scale for Person of the Year.
Actors Issa Rae and Matthew McConaughey kicked off the hour-long, star-studded event that included appearances by Vanessa Bryant, John Cena, Yo Yo Ma, BTS and H.E.R. Bruce Springsteen presented the Person of the Year.
Time expanded its Person of the Year franchise last year by introducing four additional categories including Businessperson of the Year. The decision came after Salesforce ( CRM ) CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff bought Time in 2018 from magazine conglomerate Meredith Corp ( MDP ) , which had acquired Time Inc. in 2017.
Time's cover for Athlete of the Year features a painting of LeBron James by 14-year-old Tyler Gordon
The TV event is the third such broadcast partnership for Time Studios this year. In place of its annual TIME100 gala, Time revealed its list of the 100 most influential people in September with a TV special on ABC. Last week, Time named its first-ever Kid of the Year on a TV special that aired on Nickelodeon and CBS.
Center for Strategic and International Studies - Wikipedia
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 04:44
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a think tank based in Washington, D.C., in the United States.[5] CSIS was founded as the "Center for Strategic and International Studies" of Georgetown University in 1962. The center conducts policy studies and strategic analyses of political, economic and security issues throughout the world, with a specific focus on issues concerning international relations, trade, technology, finance, energy and geostrategy.[6]
Center for Strategic and International StudiesAbbreviationCSISMottoProviding strategic insights and bipartisan policy solutions to decisionmakersFormation1962 ; 58 years ago ( 1962 ) TypeForeign policy think tank52-1501082[1]Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[2]Headquarters1616 Rhode Island Avenue NWLocationCoordinates 38°54'²07'"N 77°02'²31'"W >> / >> 38.90194°N 77.04194°W >> / 38.90194; -77.04194 Coordinates: 38°54'²07'"N 77°02'²31'"W >> / >> 38.90194°N 77.04194°W >> / 38.90194; -77.04194 John J. Hamre[3]Thomas J. Pritzker[4]AffiliationsGeorgetown University (1962''1987)Revenue (2014)
$43,431,720[1]Expenses (2014) $38,935,803[1]Endowment$12,522,632[1]Employees (2014)
354[1]Volunteers (2014)
274[1]Website CSIS.org In the University of Pennsylvania's 2019 Global Go To Think Tanks Report, CSIS is ranked the number one think tank in the United States across all fields, the "Top Defense and National Security Think Tank" in the world, and the 4th best think tank in the world overall.[7][8] CSIS has been named the number one think tank for Defense and National Security for the past seven years, and has been declared the 'Center of Excellence'.[8]
Since its founding, CSIS "has been dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world", according to its website.[9] CSIS is officially a bipartisan think tank with scholars that represent varying points of view across the political spectrum. The think tank is known for inviting well-known foreign policy and public service officials from the U.S. Congress and the executive branch, including those affiliated with either the Democratic or the Republican Party as well as foreign officials of varying political backgrounds. It has been labeled a "centrist" think tank by U.S. News & World Report.[10]
The center hosts the Statesmen's Forum, a bipartisan venue for international leaders to present their views. Past speakers have included UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.[11] The center also conducts the CSIS-Schieffer School Dialogues, a series of discussions hosted by Bob Schieffer, of CBS News, in addition to the Global Security Forum, with keynote addresses by Defense Department officials including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.[12]
History Edit 1960s Edit The center was founded in 1962 [13] by Admiral Arleigh Burke and Ambassador David Manker Abshire,[14] originally as part of Georgetown University. It officially opened its doors on September 4, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The original office was located one block away from Georgetown's campus in a small brick townhouse located at 1316 36th Street. The first professional staff member hired was Richard V. Allen who later served in the Reagan administration.[15]
At a conference held in the Hall of Nations at Georgetown in January 1963,[16] the center developed its blueprint for its intellectual agenda. The book that emerged from the conference, National Security: Political, Military and Economic Strategies in the Decade Ahead, was more than one thousand pages long. The book set out a framework for discussing national security and defined areas of agreement and disagreement within the Washington foreign policy community during the Cold War. The book argued for a strategic perspective on global affairs and also defined a school of thought within international relations studies for that period. The practitioners of this school of thought subsequently made their way to the pinnacles of U.S. policymaking, particularly during the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.
1970''1989 Edit By the mid to late 1970s, many scholars who worked at the center had found their way to senior positions in government in the Department of State or Department of Defense. When Henry Kissinger retired from his position as U.S. Secretary of State in 1977,[19] Harvard University declined to offer him a professorship. He decided to teach part-time at Georgetown's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service[20] and to make CSIS the base for his Washington operations, over offers to teach at Yale, Penn, Columbia and Oxford.[21] He still maintains an office suite at CSIS and continues to work as counselor to CSIS and as a trustee. Kissinger's decision to become affiliated with the Washington-based institution attracted more public attention for the center than virtually any event in the preceding fifteen years.
Following Kissinger's involvement, other cabinet-level officials also made CSIS at least a part-time base of operations. Such senior officials as James Schlesinger, Bill Brock, Admiral William J. Crowe and Harold Brown joined CSIS in the late 1970s. When Zbigniew Brzezinski joined the center in 1981 after the end of the Carter administration, he worked on issues related to the Soviet Union and Poland's transition to a market economy. The arrangements for these senior government officials allowed them to write, lecture and consult with media and business firms and are typical of the way CSIS can incorporate high-level policymakers when they leave government. During the 1970s and 1980s, a myriad of think tanks either expanded operations or emerged in Washington representing a range of ideological positions and specialized policy interests.[24] For senior government officials, there was a move away from accepting formal arrangements with universities toward the freedom and influence a think tank could provide.
Some of Georgetown University's professors criticized CSIS staff members for giving academically unsupported assessments of foreign policy issues during public interviews.[25] Donations to Georgetown University decreased because of its association with CSIS.[citation needed ] A special committee studied the friction, and its report stated that CSIS was more focused on the media than to scholarly research and recommended that CSIS be formally separated from Georgetown University.[25] On 17 October 1986, Georgetown University's board of directors voted to sever all ties with CSIS.[25]
Center for Strategic and International Studies was incorporated in the District of Columbia on December 29, 1986,[26] and the formal affiliation between Georgetown and CSIS ended on July 1, 1987.
The Center became an incorporated nonprofit organization to raise its endowment and expand its programs to focus on emerging regions of the world. The work of the trustees and counselors with the Center after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1980s left CSIS in a unique position to develop the nation's foreign policy with the United States as the world's sole superpower. It signified a degree of institutional maturation and prestige that the founders had not imagined when they founded the center in the early 1960s.
1989''present Edit After the end of the Cold War, there emerged a suspicion in Washington that the United States was not well equipped as it ought to be to compete in the international economy. This outlook drove CSIS to set up a project in 1990 that, to some, seemed remote from traditional strategic and international concerns. The idea that America should focus at its problems at home to strengthen its role abroad evolved into the Commission on the Strengthening of America, chaired by Senator Sam Nunn and Senator Pete Domenici.
David Abshire saw the commission as a way to examine and improve upon economic policy, coming to the conclusion that the White House should reorganize the Executive Office of the President to include a National Economic Council with a national economic adviser on the model of the National Security Council. This new focus on economic policy led CSIS to increase its research focus on international economics and issues concerning the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank as well as global health and the environmental and societal effects of climate change. These issues merged into CSIS's mission to complement its traditional focus on international security issues. Into the present day, CSIS has been dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world, according to the CSIS website.[9]
In 2013, CSIS moved from its K Street headquarters to a new location on Rhode Island Avenue in Washington, D.C. The new building cost $100 million to build and has a studio for media interviews and room to host conferences, events, lectures and discussions. The building is located in Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle neighborhood and will earn LEED Platinum Certification.[30][31][32]
H. Andrew Schwartz, a senior vice president at CSIS, in 2015 was quoted describing the organization's "number one goal" as "hav[ing] impact on policy."[33] Defending the organization from claims that it had inappropriately engaged in lobbying on behalf of U.S. defense contractors, CEO John Hamre was quoted in 2016 as saying, "We strongly believe in our model of seeking solutions to some of our country's most difficult problems.... We gather stakeholders, vet ideas, find areas of agreement and highlight areas of disagreement."[31]
Programs and events Edit Office of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in
Washington, D.C. The headquarters is located in the
DuPont Circle neighborhood near many other well-known think tanks.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has experts focused on various regions of the world and on topics that are important to international relations. The subjects include: Defense and Security, Economic Development and Reconstruction, Energy and Climate Change, Global Health, Global Trends and Forecasting, Governance, Human Rights, Technology, Trans-National Threats, and Trade and Economics. Regions include Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Russia and Eurasia, and South Asia.
CSIS undertakes numerous programs and projects each with its own unique missions and interests. For example, the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group[34] provides research into the defense industry on behalf of government and corporate customers. The Global Health Policy Center[35] focuses on U.S. engagements in HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, and other high priorities, especially their intersection with U.S. national security interests. CSIS also has several endowed chairs in economics, Chinese studies, and other subjects.
CSIS has often provided a platform for high-profile figures to make important statements about international relations issues. For example, in September 2019, former National Security Advisor John Bolton delivered his first speech since leaving office at CSIS, and used the opportunity to be highly critical of US policy towards North Korea.[36]
In 2012, CSIS hosted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she delivered a keynote address on "U.S. Strategic Engagement with North Africa in an Era of Change," that addressed the security of embassies in the wake of the 2012 Benghazi attack.[37]
Annually, the Center hosts more than 400 major events and hosts over 18,000 guests. In 2013, CSIS had over 180,000 webcast attendees. Recent CSIS speaker events have included the following: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson, Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser, former U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.
CSIS hosts more than 350 students and professionals every year for variety of seminars and programming.[38] CSIS also offers a master program in international relations in collaboration with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.[39]
Publications Edit CSIS regularly publishes books, reports, newsletters, and commentaries targeted at decision makers in policy, government, business, and academia. Primarily it publishes the work of its experts in a specific topic or area of focus in global affairs.
CSIS publishes the following:
The Washington Quarterly, CSIS's flagship journal of international affairs that chronicles the "strategic global changes and their impact on public policy.[40]Critical Questions in which experts affiliated with the think tank provide quick answers to news questions posed international events. For example, Ambassador Karl Inderfurth might answer questions regarding India''United States relations.The Freeman Report Newsletter, a foreign policy periodical, focusing on economics and international security in Asia and China since the 1970s.New Perspectives in Foreign Policy, a journal for young professionals in international affairs.CSIS scholars have published op-eds in The New York Times,[41] The Wall Street Journal,[42] The Financial Times,[43] Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs and The Washington Post. CSIS experts were quoted or cited thousands of times by the print and online press and appeared frequently in major newswires like the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Presse and Bloomberg News. They have also appeared in online media such as The Huffington Post[44] and Summit News,[45] WSJ Live and were regular guests on the PBS NewsHour, NPR's Morning Edition and other policy-focused interview shows such as the Charlie Rose Show.[11]
CSIS also has its own YouTube channel,[46] which regularly posts short videos and infographics about the think tank's work.
Notable scholars Edit Current Edit Victor Cha, Senior Adviser and Korea ChairAnthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in StrategyBonnie S. Glaser, Senior Advisor for Asia, and Director, China Power ProjectMichael Green, Japan ChairSeth Jones, Harold Brown Chair, and Senior Advisor, International Security ProgramIain King, UK Visiting Fellow, Europe ProgramAndrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia ProgramJames Andrew Lewis, Director and Senior Fellow, Technology and Public Policy ProgramClark A. Murdock, Director, Project on Nuclear IssuesSean O'Keefe, Distinguished Senior AdviserDaniel F. Runde, William A. Schreyer Chair and Director, Project on Prosperity and DevelopmentSue Mi Terry, Senior Fellow for the Korea ChairJuan Zarate, Senior Adviser, Transnational Threats Project and Homeland Security and Counterterrorism ProgramPast Edit Madeleine AlbrightEhud BarakTony BlinkenArnaud de BorchgraveKurt M. CampbellJames E. CartwrightMary DeRosaRaymond F. DuBoisMichele FlournoyKarl-Theodor zu GuttenbergFred IkleAmb. Rick InderfurthJames L. JonesMichael LedeenWalter LaqueurRobert MosbacherArmand Peschard-SverdrupRebecca KatzLeadership and staff Edit The Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Thomas J. Pritzker, chairman and CEO of The Pritzker Organization.[47] He is also executive chairman of Hyatt Hotels Corporation and serves on the board of directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.[48] Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre has been the president and chief executive officer of CSIS since April 2000.[49]
The board of trustees includes many former senior government officials including Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, William Cohen, George Argyros and Brent Scowcroft.[50]
The board also includes major U.S. corporate business leaders as well as prominent figures in the fields of finance, oil & gas, private equity, real estate, academia and media.
CSIS' 220 full-time staff[14] and its large network of affiliated scholars conduct to develop policy proposals and initiatives that address current issues in international relations. In 2012, CSIS had a staff of 63 program staffers, 73 scholars and 80 interns. The center also worked with 241 affiliate advisors and fellows as well as 202 advisory board members and senior counselors.[11]
Henry Kissinger leads a 2011 discussion on
China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
CSIS has broadened its reach into public policy analysis under the leadership of Hamre and Nunn. The Department of Defense, as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, commissioned CSIS to conduct an independent assessment of U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific Region.[51] Also, in May 2009, President Barack Obama thanked the CSIS bipartisan Commission on Cybersecurity for its help in developing the Obama administration's policies on cyber warfare.[52] The center has also been highly influential in the creation of the White House's foreign policy. "For the last four years, every Friday afternoon, I've asked my staff to prepare me a reading binder for the weekend," said National Security Advisor Tom Donilon "The task is to go out and try to find the most interesting things that they can find with respect to national security issues [and] almost every week, there are products from CSIS."[53] Within the intelligence community, CSIS is known for having "some of the most insightful analysis and innovative ideas for strengthening our national security," according to CIA Director John Brennan.[54]
Funding Edit For fiscal year 2013, CSIS had an operating revenue of US$32.3 million. The sources were 32% corporate, 29% foundation, 19% government, 9% individuals, 5% endowment, and 6% other. CSIS had operating expenses of US$32.2 million for 2013 '-- 78% for programs, 16% for administration, and 6% for development.[55]
In September 2014, The New York Times reported that the United Arab Emirates had donated a sum greater than $1 million to the organization. Additionally, CSIS has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Japan through the government-funded Japan External Trade Organization, as well as from Norway. After being contacted by the Times, CSIS released a list of foreign state donors, listing 13 governments including those of Germany and China.[56] The Center for Strategic and International Studies CSIS lists major funding from defense contractors such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and General Atomics.[57]
Board of Trustees Edit Source:[58]
CSIS leadership
Sam Nunn, CSIS Chairman and former United States Senator from GeorgiaKenneth Langone, CSIS Vice Chair, Co-Founder and Board Member of The Home DepotNational security
Henry A. Kissinger, Counselor and Trustee, CSIS and former United States Secretary of State and United States National Security AdvisorZbigniew Brzezinski, Counselor and Trustee, CSIS and former United States National Security AdvisorRichard L. Armitage, President, Armitage International and former United States Deputy Secretary of StateBrent Scowcroft, President, the Scowcroft Group, United States Air Force Lieutenant General (ret.) and former United States National Security AdvisorJames L. Jones, United States Marine Corps General (ret.) and former United States National Security AdvisorWilliam S. Cohen, former United States Secretary of Defense and United States Senator from MaineHarold Brown, Former United States Secretary of DefensePublic service
Sue M. Cobb, Principal, Cobb Partners, LLC and former U.S. Ambassador to JamaicaBill Frist, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and United States Senator from TennesseeWilliam E. Brock, former United States Secretary of Labor, United States Trade Representative and United States Senator from TennesseeHenrietta H. Fore, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Carla Anderson Hills, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, United States Trade Representative and current Chairwoman, The Council on Foreign RelationsJames R. Schlesinger, former Director of Central Intelligence, United States Secretary of Defense and Secretary of EnergyBusiness & non-profit
George Argyros, Chairman and CEO, Arnel & Affiliates and former United States Ambassador to SpainOthman Benjelloun, BMCE BankCarlos Bulgheroni, CEO BridasLester Crown, Chairman, Henry Crown and Company, Investor in General DynamicsDr. Helene D. Gayle, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative; President Emeriti, CARE USA[59]Maurice R. Greenberg, Former Chairman and CEO, American International GroupJohn B. Hess, Chairman and CEO, Hess CorporationRay Lee Hunt, Hunt Consolidated EnergyKazuo Inamori, Founder, Kyocera Corporation and KDDI Corporation, Chairman, Japan AirlinesE. Neville Isdell, Former Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola CompanyMuhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola CompanyJames McNerney, Chairman and CEO, The Boeing CompanyDonald B. Marron, Founder, Lightyear Capital and Data Resources Inc.Thomas Pritzker, The Pritzker Organization and Executive Chairman, Hyatt Hotels CorporationFelix Rohatyn, Former Managing Director, Lazard and former United States Ambassador to FranceRex W. Tillerson, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil CorporationRomesh Wadhwani, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Symphony Technology GroupAcademia
Joseph Nye, University Distinguished Service Professor, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard UniversityCitations Edit ^ a b c d e f "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Guidestar. September 30, 2015. ^ "Center for Strategic and International Studies Inc." Exempt Organizations Select Check. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 29 June 2017. ^ "John J. Hamre". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 29 June 2017. ^ "Thomas J. Pritzker". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 29 June 2017. ^ "Company Overview of Center for Strategic and International Studies, Inc". Bloomberg . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ "The Center for Strategic and International Studies". Charitynavigator.org. March 1, 2018 . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ "CSIS Named Number One Think Tank in the United States". SU News . Retrieved February 12, 2020 . ^ a b "Global Go To Think Tanks Report". University of Pennsylvania . Retrieved February 5, 2020 . ^ a b "About Us - Center for Strategic and International Studies". csis.org. ^ "Think Tank Employees". U.S. News & World Report . Retrieved October 2, 2013 . ^ a b c "CSIS Annual Report 2012" (PDF) . Center for Strategic and International Studies . Retrieved October 1, 2013 . ^ "Global Security Forum". Center for Strategic and International Studies . Retrieved October 2, 2013 . ^ "Center for Strategic and International Studies". Crunchbase . Retrieved June 11, 2018 . ^ a b "The Center for Strategic and International Studies". charitynavigator.org. March 1, 2018 . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ Smith, James Allen (1993). Strategic Calling: The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1962''1992. The Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 17. ISBN 9780892062379 . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ Abshire, David (2018). The Statesman: Reflections on a Life Guided by Civility, Strategic Leadership, and the Lessons of History (p. 64). Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781538109229 . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ "Henry Kissinger Biography". biography.com . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ "Kissinger agrees to instruct undergrads at Georgetown". Columbia Spectator. June 9, 1977 . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ "A Harvard-Henry Kissinger D(C)tente?". Harvard Magazine. March 28, 2012 . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ "Think Tanks" (PDF) . Dictionary of American History, 3rd Edition . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ a b c Jordan, Mary. "GU Severs Ties With Think Tank: Center's Academics, Conservatism Cited". The Washington Post. 18 October 1986. p. B1. ^ "Center for Strategic and International Studies Inc". Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Government of the District of Columbia. Retrieved 29 June 2017. ^ "A look at CSIS's new $100 million building". The Washington Post . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ a b Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke (August 7, 2016). "How Think Tanks Amplify Corporate America's Influence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved September 6, 2016 . ^ "CSIS to Break Ground for New Headquarters at 1616 Rhode Island Ave | Center for Strategic and International Studies". www.csis.org . Retrieved September 6, 2016 . ^ Bennett, Amanda (October 5, 2015). "Are think tanks obsolete?". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286 . Retrieved September 6, 2016 . ^ "Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group - Center for Strategic and International Studies". csis.org. ^ "Center for Strategic and International Studies". www.smartglobalhealth.org. ^ "John Bolton says what he finally thinks about Trump's North Korea policy - Bolton slams Trump in his first public comments since leaving the White House". Vox. September 30, 2019 . Retrieved December 18, 2019 . ^ "John Bolton finally says what he really thinks about Trump's North Korea policy - Bolton slams Trump in his first public remarks since leaving the White House". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012 . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ "Educational Programs at CSIS | Center for Strategic and International Studies". www.csis.org . Retrieved February 12, 2020 . ^ "Maxwell partners with think tank to establish master's degree program tailored to working professionals". The Daily Orange - The Independent Student Newspaper of Syracuse, New York. October 23, 2017 . Retrieved February 12, 2020 . ^ "Washington Quarterly". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Archived from the original on October 1, 2013 . Retrieved October 2, 2013 . ^ "In Syria, America Loses if Either Side Wins". The New York Times . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ "Obama Cancels Asia Trip, Leaving More Space for China". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ "UK Vote on Syria Leaves Obama All But Alone on Military Action". The Financial Times . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ "CSIS in the Huffington Post". Huffington Post . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ "New Report Finds Islamic Terrorism in Europe Has Increased by 725 Per Cent" . Retrieved September 15, 2019 . ^ https://www.youtube.com/user/csisdc ^ "Thomas J. Pritzker J.D". Bloomberg . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ CSIS website ^ "John J. Hamre". Bloomberg . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ "Board of Trustees". CSIS.org . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ "Statement of Senators Levin, McCain and Webb on CSIS Report". Office of Senator Carl Levin. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013 . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ "Remarks By The President On Securing Our Nation's Cyber Infrastructure". WhiteHouse.gov. The White House . Retrieved October 3, 2013 . ^ "Obama's Asia Strategy: U.S. NSA Donilon Statement CSIS". Guam Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013 . Retrieved October 3, 2013 . ^ "ORemarks by John O. Brennan". The White House . Retrieved October 7, 2013 . ^ "Financial Information". CSIS . Retrieved November 14, 2014 . ^ Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke; Confessore, Nicholas (September 6, 2014). "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks". The New York Times . Retrieved January 31, 2015 . ^ "Corporation and Trade Association Donors". Center for Strategic and International Studies . Retrieved July 5, 2019 . ^ "Board of Trustees". Center for Strategic and International Studies . Retrieved October 1, 2013 . ^ Board of Directors list, Care USA webpage. Retrieved 2016-12-13. Cited works Edit Abshire, David M.; Allen, Richard V. (1963). National Security: Political, Military and Economic Strategies in the Decade Ahead . Hoover Institution. ISBN 978-0817913113. Smith, James Allen (1993). Strategic Calling: The Center for Strategic and International Studies 1962''1992. The Center for Strategic and International Studies. ISBN 0-89206-237-1. External links Edit Official website
U.S. Supreme Court declines to change Wisconsin's voting rules
Fri, 11 Dec 2020 01:10
MADISON - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Wisconsin's voting laws Monday, rejecting an effort to require the counting of absentee ballots that are sent back to election officials on or just before Election Day.
The court's 5-3 ruling means that absentee ballots will be counted only if they are in the hands of municipal clerks by the time polls close on Nov. 3.
The justices determined the courts shouldn't be the ones to decide the election rules amid the coronavirus pandemic that is surging in Wisconsin and across the world.
"The Constitution provides that state legislatures '-- not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials '-- bear primary responsibility for setting election rules," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion.
In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan gave that notion short shrift, noting Wisconsin's Republican-run Legislature hasn't met since April. Extending the deadline for absentee ballots should have been allowed, she wrote.
"On the scales of both constitutional justice and electoral accuracy, protecting the right to vote in a health crisis outweighs conforming to a deadline created in safer days," Kagan wrote.
Wisconsin 2020 election guide:How to vote and what to know about the ballot
After the decision came out, election officials emphasized a message they have been hammering on for months '-- voters should return their absentee ballots as soon as they can.
"If you're planning to mail your ballot back, you should mail it back as soon as possible," said a statement from Meagan Wolfe, the director of the state Elections Commission.
Both sides were awaiting the decision anxiously because Wisconsin is a battleground in the presidential campaign. President Donald Trump won the state narrowly in 2016 but has consistently trailed Democratic nominee Joe Biden in polls this fall.
Democrats, their allies and nonpartisan groups argued the state law requiring absentee ballots to be returned by Election Day should be loosened because of the pandemic and a slowing of mail. They wanted ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted.
Republicans fought the rules, arguing the courts shouldn't change election rules even in the face of a pandemic that is keeping many people in their homes.
U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison agreed last month with those who sued, but a panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago reversed Conley's decision in a 2-1 ruling this month.
The high court's decision upholding the appeals ruling came less than an hour before the U.S. Senate confirmed Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She replaces Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month.
The decision is the end of the road for the case and means voters will have to adhere to long-standing rules in an election that is expected to have a record level of mail voting.
The district court ruling also would have given people more time to use an online portal to register to vote and allowed poll workers to serve in any community, not just ones in the counties where they reside. But the Supreme Court, like the appeals panel, rejected those changes to election rules as well.
The decision was reached by the court's conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh. In dissent were its liberals, Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
Gorsuch wrote that leaving decisions about how to conduct elections during the pandemic would lead to a "Babel of decrees" and that lawmakers were better positioned to make judgments about what to do.
"Last-minute changes to longstanding election rules risk other problems too, inviting confusion and chaos and eroding public confidence in electoral outcomes," he wrote. "No one doubts that conducting a national election amid a pandemic poses serious challenges. But none of that means individual judges may improvise with their own election rules in place of those the people's representatives have adopted."
But Kagan warned that some voters won't get to cast ballots because of Monday's decision.
"Today, mail ballots often travel at a snail's pace, and the elderly and ill put themselves in peril if they go to the polls," she wrote. "So citizens '-- thousands and thousands of them '-- who have followed all the State's rules still cannot cast a successful vote."
The decision comes amid a widening of the pandemic. The state reported Monday that more than 200,000 Wisconsinites have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. Nearly 1,800 have died, including 10 recorded on Monday.
Democrats had hoped the justices might have seen the case differently because they allowed absentee ballots that were postmarked by election Day to be counted in Wisconsin's April election for state Supreme Court.
About 80,000 additional votes were counted for that election because absentee ballots postmarked by election day were counted, rather than just those received by election day.
Hundreds of election lawsuits have been filed around the country, mostly because of the pandemic and the expansion of mail voting. Cases are headed to the Supreme Court over how absentee ballots are distributed, delivered and counted as Trump rails against the practice.
In one recent 5-3 ruling, the court blocked a judge's ruling that would have allowed curbside voting in Alabama.
That decision came just days after a 4-4 tie among the justices allowed a decision to stand that allowed ballots in Pennsylvania to be counted even if they arrived after Election Day.
In the Pennsylvania case, Roberts sided with the liberals. He wrote Monday that he voted the other way in the Wisconsin case because the lower court ruling came from a federal judge, not a state court, as it did in the Pennsylvania case.
Richard Wolf of USA TODAY contributed to this report.
Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.
The Seeds of Hunter Biden's Current Legal Woes Were Found on His Laptop
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 23:04
The Justice Department's announcement on Wednesday that it was investigating Hunter Biden, for what he deemed to be ''tax affairs,'' took root several years ago with a much broader inquiry that included possible money laundering, according to a report by CNN.
That inquiry reportedly fizzled, leading instead to a probe on tax matters that is now being led by the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware. But evidence of the larger probe was apparent in the markings on a series of documents that were made public'--but went largely unnoticed'--in the days leading up to the November election, according to two individuals familiar with the matter.
Hunter Biden's business dealings were always a ripe target for President Donald Trump and his allies. But they became the primary focus of their attacks after the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, claimed in the election's closing weeks to have obtained a copy of the younger Biden's laptop from a computer repairman in Delaware named John Paul MacIsaac. According to MacIsaac, Biden had dropped off several devices at the store in 2019 for repair. MacIsaac told The Daily Beast that Biden never returned and that he eventually turned the devices over to the FBI for fear of his personal safety.
MacIsaac also said he copied the contents of one of the laptops for Giuliani. And, sure enough, those contents quickly made their way to conservative media personalities and outlets. Giuliani and others, including Steve Bannon, appeared on network television, stirring conspiracy theories and pushing unsubstantiated claims about Hunter's overseas business dealings.
One of the main outlets pushing emails and pictures from the hard drive was the New York Post. And for one of its stories, the paper published what appeared to be federal law enforcement documents given to MacIsaac in return for his handing over the Biden laptops.
One of those documents'--from the FBI'-- included a case number that had the code associated with an ongoing federal money laundering investigation in Delaware, according to several law enforcement officials who reviewed the document. Another document'--one with a grand jury subpoena number'--appeared to show the initials of two assistant U.S. attorneys linked to the Wilmington, Delaware, office.
At the time, law enforcement officials in the state would not confirm or deny the existence of such a probe and individuals associated with the Biden team also rebuffed inquiries from The Daily Beast about the existence of such a probe.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment on what they called an ongoing probe. It is unclear if federal investigators are relying on the contents of the laptop as part of their probe.
According to CNN, federal authorities at the FBI and the IRS Criminal Investigation Agency have been working with prosecutors in Delaware to investigate Biden's business dealings in foreign countries, primarily in China, and that the probe started back in 2018. One of the lines of inquiry probed by DOJ was a 2.8-carat diamond Hunter received during a business meeting with a Chinese oil and gas conglomerate executive. According to those two individuals familiar, the contents of one of Biden's laptops deal extensively with Biden's work in China. One of those sources said a recording of Hunter speaking about the Chinese executive who gifted the ring, Ye Jianming, is on the device. Biden has previously said publicly that he did not keep the diamond.
The New York Times reported that ''the money-laundering aspect of the inquiry appears to have died out'' but that ''investigators with the Internal Revenue Service continued to examine Mr. Biden's taxes.'' Hunter Biden had owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes in addition to facing credit card debt and two mortgages. The IRS issued a lien on him and his estranged wife for $112,805 in unpaid taxes from 2015.
In anticipation of the announcement of an investigation, the Biden presidential transition team put out a statement on Wednesday under Hunter Biden's name.
''I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,'' it read. ''I take this matter very seriously, but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisers.''
Those close to the transition subsequently insisted to reporters that the investigation was ''not related'' to the allegations leveled against Hunter Biden during the presidential campaign. But that explanation appears to leave off the origins of the probe into the younger Biden, which overlapped with his attempts to partner with a Chinese energy and finance company called CEFC China Energy and which seem evident in those FBI documents from his laptop.
Pressed on the discrepancies in the statement, a transition spokesperson declined to speak on the record.
The announcement of the investigation on Wednesday all but guarantees that the elder Biden will become president while the Justice Department is investigating his son. And it could complicate both his efforts to reform that department'--amid widespread worry that it has been used by Trump as a tool for carrying out political vendettas'--as well as the start of his time in office.
The president-elect's team has bristled at the notion that Hunter Biden's exploits are material to their agenda. And, for that reason, they have had a pushmi-pullyu approach to discussing questions about him with the press. Speaking on CNN shortly after the transition's statement was released, reporter Evan P(C)rez said that he and colleague Pamela Brown had been in contact with Hunter Biden's legal team since Monday about the investigation. The attorneys, P(C)rez said, told CNN that they would get back to them but instead released the brisk statement from the transition instead.
The Biden transition would not confirm whether the notification to Hunter Biden's legal team by the U.S. attorney's office was a request for information or a target notification'--the means by which the federal government informs individuals that they are targets for potential criminal prosecution. The statement released by the transition gives the impression that the Department of Justice did not make any requests of Hunter Biden, but rather simply notified his team of the investigation's existence.
''Target letters are basically, 'We have you, come talk if you'd like to make it worse,''' a federal law enforcement official familiar with the distinction told The Daily Beast.
Smoking gun email emerges in Facebook antitrust case
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 22:07
By Keith Griffith and Tim Stickings For Dailymail.com 17:07 10 Dec 2020, updated 18:06 10 Dec 2020
Antitrust suit cites key email from 2011 by unnamed Facebook executiveHe argues Facebook should delay privacy changes until competition dies downEmail illustrates the core of the government's argument in the landmark case Forty-six states and the Federal Trade Commission filed lawsuits on WednesdayThe suits accuse Facebook of monopoly abuse and seek to split the company upThey specifically target deals to buy Instagram and WhatsApp as illegalFacebook bought Instagram for $1B in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014 for $19BIt amounts to the largest antitrust challenge that Facebook has ever facedFacebook blasted the litigation as 'revisionist history' and vowed to fight backThe company points out that the FTC approved its acquisitions at the time A 'smoking gun' email has emerged that illustrates the government's core case in its landmark antitrust suits against Facebook, but Wall Street analysts doubt that the case will succeed in forcing the company to spin off Instagram and WhatsApp.
In lawsuits filed on Wednesday by 46 states and federal regulators, the government accuses Facebook of illegally acquiring its competitors in a 'predatory' manner in order to dominate the market.
Because U.S. antitrust law hinges on demonstrating harm to the consumer, typically in the form of higher prices, the government faces an uphill battle in showing how users of Facebook's free product have suffered from a lack of competition.
In a novel approach, the lawsuits argue that Facebook, which in its early days made elaborate vows to protect the privacy of user data, grew lax about privacy specifically in response to the lack of competition, gobbling up more and more data that it monetized by selling targeted ads.
A series of emails from 2011 quoted in the states' complaint illustrate this argument. Google had just launched its social media product Google+, prompting Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to warn, 'For the first time, we have real competition and consumers have real choice'... we will have to be better to win.'
A 'smoking gun' email has emerged that illustrates the government's core case in its landmark antitrust suits against Facebook. Above, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pictured COO Sheryl Sandberg (above) warned in 2011: 'For the first time, we have real competition and consumers have real choice'... we will have to be better to win' Key emails quoted in the antitrust suit show how Facebook executives planned to hold off on making unpopular changes until the competitive threat from Google+ began to 'die down' Click here to resize this module
At the time, Facebook was considering a product change that would prevent users from untagging themselves in photos posted by others - a change the company knew would be unpopular, but which would give it a richer set of user data.
One unnamed Facebook executive responded to the proposal in an email, writing, 'IF ever there was a time to AVOID controversy, it would be when the world is comparing our offerings to G+,' and recommended delaying any controversial changes 'until the direct competitive comparisons begin to die down.'
Ultimately, Facebook dialed back a number of its planned changes, and in particular continued to allow users to 'untag' themselves in photos, according to the complaint.
The government plans to argue this shows how competition spurred Facebook to protect user privacy - and conversely, how a lack of competition encouraged the company to grow lax about privacy concerns when users have few alternatives.
Facebook's General Counsel Jennifer Newstead argues the opposite, saying that the company achieved dominance in social media precisely because it perfected its product and attended to the concerns of users.
'People and small businesses don't choose to use Facebook's free services and advertising because they have to, they use them because our apps and services deliver the most value,' she told DailyMail.com in a statement.
Facebook's value has grown from around $70billion to more than $700billion in the period in which officials claim the company has been illegally running a monopolyMeanwhile, prominent analysts have cast doubt on whether the government will succeed in its bid to force Facebook to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp.
'We're talking about acquisitions that are six or eight years old and it will be difficult for a court to order divestitures of many years ago,' Seth Bloom of Bloom Strategic Counsel told Reuters.
Bloom said the complaints against Facebook are 'significantly weaker' than the DOJ's recent antitrust lawsuit against Google.
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said in a note that he is 'skeptical that the FTC will prevail' in forcing a breakup as it would be hard to prove that Facebook 'precluded competition.'
He noted, however, that there is 'certainly merit to the FTC's allegations that Facebook has strengthened its competitive position' through the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions.
'Consumers do not appear to be harmed' by Facebook's acquisitions, said KeyBanc and the firm fails to see why a multiyear breakup process should take place. The firm says the suits 'will likely be resolved with another fine and additional scrutiny on future M&A.'
Experts agree that the complaints against Facebook presage a protracted legal battle that could drag on for years before reaching a definitive conclusion.
The complaints on Wednesday accuse Facebook of buying up rivals, focusing specifically on its previous acquisitions of photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014.
'For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,' said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who spearheaded the suit filed by 46 states.
'Facebook targets competitors with a 'buy or bury' approach: if they refuse to be bought out, Facebook tries to squeeze every bit of oxygen out of the room for these companies,' her office said.
The coalition of 46 states, Washington DC and Guam has called on judges to rule that Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram were illegal.
The Federal Trade Commission filed its own lawsuit, accusing Facebook of 'squelching' the threat from WhatsApp and Instagram - an attitude reflected in a 2008 email by Zuckerberg which said 'it is better to buy than compete'.
The action by both Democratic and Republican officials highlights the growing political consensus to hold Big Tech accountable, and comes weeks after the Department of Justice launched a suit against Google which accused the $1trillion firm of using its market power to fend off rivals.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief Jack Dorsey were both hauled in for a highly-politicized Senate hearing last month, and Donald Trump has feuded with both firms over alleged bias and the fact-checking of his posts.
The federal lawsuit comes just weeks before Trump leaves office to be replaced by Joe Biden, who was less combative about Big Tech during the campaign.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Facebook's general counsel Jennifer Newstead blasted the litigation, calling it 'revisionist history.'
'Antitrust laws exist to protect consumers and promote innovation, not to punish successful businesses,' she said. 'Instagram and WhatsApp became the incredible products they are today because Facebook invested billions of dollars, and years of innovation and expertise, to develop new features and better experiences for the millions who enjoy those products.'
New lawsuits from 46 states and the FTC accuse Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of anti-competitive conduct and seek to break up the companyThe 123-page lawsuit filed by 46 US states describes Facebook's alleged efforts to 'buy or bury the competition' to maintain its social media monopoly.
Here are some of the allegations in the lawsuit, which Facebook has vowed to contest:
Early years: Facebook 'hones its tactics to avoid competition' Facebook enjoyed meteoric early growth by out-competing other websites such as Myspace. But Zuckerberg and his colleagues had already 'honed some tactics' to 'extinguish or impede' their rivals, the lawsuit claims.
In 2009, Facebook made an 'aggressive overture' to FriendFeed, an aggregator which pulled together content from various social media sites. Fearing that Twitter was about to acquire the company, Facebook bought it out.
One Facebook employee who had described FriendFeed as 'the company I fear most' expressed the sentiment in an email that 'we can just buy them'.
In 2010, Facebook bought a Malaysian company called Octazen which provided contact details for potential users.
Facebook was already licensing the company's services, but when it turned out Twitter was doing the same, attention turned to how Facebook could 'deprive rivals and potential rivals of this important resource', the lawsuit claims.
A Facebook executive said that 'an acquisition could be interesting if for a few million we could slow some competitors down for a quarter or so'. Once Facebook bought the firm, it 'terminated all third-party access to Octazen'.
'The wrath of Mark': Zuckerberg buys out 'really scary' Instagram The lawsuit says that Facebook 'increasingly took anticompetitive steps to maintain its monopoly' from about 2012, after it had seen off the short-lived threat from Google Plus.
By this time, Facebook bosses were becoming 'frightened' at how other firms were moving ahead in the mobile world, it is claimed. Zuckerberg said it was 'really scary' that Facebook was 'very behind' Instagram, telling colleagues they 'might want to consider paying a lot of money' for it.
Asked by his chief financial officer about the motivations for the buyout, Zuckerberg said it was a mixture of wanting to 'neutralize a potential competitor' and 'integrate their products with ours in order to improve our service'.
Instagram's CEO Kevin Systrom apparently feared that Zuckerberg would 'go into destroy mode' if he refused the deal, adding: 'I don't think we'll ever escape the wrath of Mark... it just depends how long we avoid it'.
In April 2012, Facebook bought out Instagram for $1billion, allowing it to discontinue its own Facebook Camera app.
'Rather than responding to the threat with innovative product development, Facebook simply eliminated Instagram through acquisition,' the lawsuit charges.
WhatsApp is bought out for a massive $19billion fee that 'shocked and surprised' Facebook staff Facebook faced a 'unique threat' to its monopoly from the rise of online messaging services which allowed people to avoid SMS charges and exchange better-quality pictures, the lawsuit says.
By 2013, WhatsApp had surpassed Facebook Messenger with 12.2billion messages sent on the platform every day.
One Facebook executive allegedly said they were 'super-paranoid' about the threat from WhatsApp, while Zuckerberg believed it 'had the potential to enter Facebook's core market and erode its monopoly power'.
When Facebook bought out WhatsApp for $19billion in 2014, there was said to be 'shock and surprise' among Facebook's own staff at how much they had paid.
The 'only rationale' for this, the lawsuit claims, was the 'elimination of a potential competitor poised to mount a major challenge to Facebook's monopoly'.
Once the buyout was complete, Facebook changed WhatsApp's terms of service and privacy policy by combining user data with its other products.
This led to a reduction of consumer choice by 'eliminating a viable, competitive, privacy-focused option,' it is alleged.
Facebook shares fell steadily on Wednesday as news of the pending lawsuit began to spread, and they opened down again on Thursday morning New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, led the coalition of 46 states, plus DC and Guam, in the lawsuit seeking to split up Facebook How century-old antitrust laws could break up Facebook The lawsuit filed by 46 attorneys general is based on two century-old antitrust laws which were seen as hallmarks of the Progressive Era and once used to break up oil and railroad monopolies.
The Sherman Act of 1890 was used by President Theodore Roosevelt in his 'trust-busting' drive in the early 20th century, while the Clayton Act of 1914 strengthened the anti-monopoly laws.
Standard Oil, the American Tobacco Company and the Northern Securities railroad company were among the companies broken up by federal action in those years.
Today, the laws are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, while state attorneys general can also bring lawsuits under the federal laws.
In some investigations, a 'state attorney general may cooperate with federal authorities', the FTC says.
In 1998, the federal government sued Microsoft under the antitrust laws, a case which ended in a settlement.
The new case filed by the 46 states accuses Facebook of 'unlawful monopoly maintenance' in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act.
This makes it illegal to 'monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several states, or with foreign nations'.
The legal filing also alleges that the purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram are unlawful under Section 7 of the Clayton Act.
This prohibits mergers and acquisitions where the effect 'may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly'.
The Facebook filing filing calls for the 'divestiture' of what it calls 'illegally acquired businesses' from the social media giant.
Buying firms and shutting them down to 'keep them out of reach of rivals'In 2012, Facebook bought out Glancee, a 'social discovery' app which helped its users to meet people with similar interests in their area.
Facebook 'acquired Glancee and simultaneously shut the app down, terminating services to Glancee's 50,000 users,' the lawsuit says.
In a similar case, Facebook bought out the music video app EyeGroove in 2016 'upon learning that Twitter and Snapchat were interested', then shut it down.
All of this served to 'extinguish competitive threats' and keep the apps 'out of the reach of another firm that could develop the asset,' the lawsuit claims.
'The result is less competition, less investment, less innovation, and fewer choices for users and advertisers,' it says.
Facebook 'flexes its muscles' against Vine within hours of its launch In some cases, instead of buying out its rivals, Facebook 'turned to an arsenal of exclusionary tactics' to maintain its monopoly, it is alleged.
One of these cases involved Vine, the six-second video app which was acquired by Twitter before it was launched to the public.
Within hours of the official launch, Facebook executives were already discussing plans to 'flex its muscles' against Twitter, the lawsuit says.
Facebook executive Justin Osofsky described how the app initially allowed people to find fellow Vine users that they were friends with on Facebook.
'Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today,' Osofsky said.
'Yup, go for it,' Zuckerberg is said to have replied 'decisively'.
How Facebook 'abused its control' of the Find Friends feature to 'hurt potential rivals' In its early years, Facebook developed tools that allowed other apps to install a Facebook 'like' button, a Find Friends feature and other tools on their own sites.
The lawsuit claims that Facebook has used this as a 'tool to monitor, leverage, and harm' potential rivals by stripping them of access to these features.
This allows Facebook to 'degrade' potential rivals by denying them access - stopping users from 'bringing their friend list' to a new app, and creating a 'sudden loss of functionality' which made rival apps appear 'buggy', it is claimed.
In 2011, Facebook moved to stop 'competing social platforms' from using its tools, helping it to fend off the threat from Google Plus.
The Vine manoeuvre was one example of this, according to the lawsuit, which also accuses Facebook of cutting off Path's access to the Find Friends feature because it saw the messaging service as a 'potential substitute for Facebook'.
All of this meant that 'Facebook abused its control of [these features] to hurt potential rivals at users' expense,' the lawsuit alleges.
Zuckerberg is seen in 2013 touting Facebook's acquisition of Instagram. Facebook is accused of illegally acquired potential competitors in a predatory manner to dominate the marketFacebook's share price fell during the day on Wednesday as news of the impending lawsuit trickled out, and opened down again on Thursday.
Newstead, the Facebook lawyer, vowed the company would vigorously defend against the lawsuits, and pointed out that the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp had been cleared by the FTC at the time they were consummated.
'The government now wants a do-over, sending a chilling warning to American business that no sale is ever final,' she said.
The FTC suit was filed in coordination with James and the other state attorneys general. Attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota did not join the lawsuit.
'For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,' said New York Attorney General James, a Democrat.
'Instead of competing on the merits, Facebook used its power to suppress competition so it could take advantage of users and make billions by converting personal data into a cash cow,' she said.
Facebook's two most utilized strategies were to acquire smaller rivals and potential rivals before they could threaten Facebook's dominance and to 'suffocate and squash' third-party developers that Facebook invited to utilize its platform, the AG's office said.
The bipartisan backing marks a rare moment of agreement between the Trump administration and Democrats, some of whom have advocated breaking up both Google and Facebook.
Trump has also demanded that Congress repeal the so-called Section 230 protections which shield Twitter and Facebook from content liability.
His demands are a battle cry for conservatives who say they are treated unfairly by Twitter and Facebook, which have both added warning labels to misleading statements by the president and others.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany warned last week that the president might veto a defense bill unless Congress repeals Section 230.
'Twitter has become a publisher, choosing to fact-check content,' she said. 'And when you're a publisher, there are certain responsibilities with that and you should not be immune from liability.'
President Donald Trump has feuded with social media giants during his term in office, accusing them of biasThe FTC's 53-page lawsuit is also seeking to break up Facebook.
The agency's five commissioners currently include three Republicans and two Democrats. Two of the three Republicans, Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson, voted against the Facebook lawsuit.
'Facebook's actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition,' said Ian Conner, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition in a statement.
'Our aim is to roll back Facebook's anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive,' he added.
The FTC's filing makes similar accusations to the states' lawsuit, focusing on the sales of WhatsApp and Instagram as well as Facebook's 'anticompetitive' use of functions such as Find Friends and the 'like' button.
Facebook's purchase of Instagram came as it was 'struggling to provide a strong user experience' on smartphones, having been designed for desktops.
Zuckerberg warned that 'we need to track this closely', according to the lawsuit, while other executives 'watched Instagram's emergence with mounting anxiety'.
The lawsuit says Zuckerberg acknowledged wanting to 'neutralize a potential competitor', saying it would be hard for another rival to match Instagram's success.
Facebook eventually bought Instagram for $1billion, paying a 'premium' to reflect the 'significant threat that Instagram posed to Facebook's monopoly'.
'By acquiring Instagram, Facebook neutralized Instagram as an independent competitor to Facebook,' the lawsuit says.
On the Instagram acquisition, the states' suit alleges that Zuckerberg admitted, in early 2012, that Facebook was 'very behind' Instagram and a better strategy would be 'to consider paying a lot of money' for the photo-sharing app in an effort to 'neutralize a potential competitor.'
Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion, despite the company having no revenue and valuing itself at only $500 million, according to the complaint.
Zuckerberg offered Instagram's owners double the valuation that Instagram came up with even though Zuckerberg previously told a Facebook investor that the initial $500 million value as 'crazy,' the complaint states.
'A significant portion of the purchase price was a premium paid to remove a competitive threat from the market,' the complaint says of the Instagram acquisition.
A demonstrator joins others outside of the San Francisco home of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month to protest what they say is Facebook spreading disinformationThe lawsuit also focuses on Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp in 2014, which at the time was the largest acquisition of a venture-backed startup ever.
The suit alleges that Facebook feared WhatsApp, a messaging service with some 400 million global users at the time, would erode its monopoly power.
In 2013, Zuckerberg wrote that WhatsApp or similar products posed 'the biggest competitive threat we face as a business,' according to the complaint.
The whopping $19 billion price tag that Facebook paid for WhatsApp was well above the price Zuckerberg had recommended just a few months earlier, the lawsuit claims.
One Facebook employee, while conceding that WhatsApp's rapid growth made it a valuable company, said the price 'sounds insane,' according to the complaint.
The lawsuits argue that the only rationale for the price of the deal was to eliminate a competitive threat, and accuses Facebook of breaking its promise to regulators that it would not combine user data across the two services.
The suit asks the court to restrain Facebook from making further acquisitions valued at or in excess of $10 million without advance notice to the plaintiff states.
It also asks the court for 'any additional relief it determines is appropriate,' including the divestiture or restructuring of 'illegally acquired companies.'
In separate moves, the Justice Department also sued Google in October, accusing the internet giant of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.
The suits mark the government's most significant antitrust actions since its historic case against Microsoft two decades ago, which ended in a settlement.
Amazon and Apple also have been under investigation in Congress and by federal authorities for alleged anticompetitive conduct.
Facebook's full statement in response to the antitrust suits Jennifer Newstead, Facebook's Vice President and General Counsel, told DailyMail.com in a statement:
'This is revisionist history. Antitrust laws exist to protect consumers and promote innovation, not to punish successful businesses.
'Instagram and WhatsApp became the incredible products they are today because Facebook invested billions of dollars, and years of innovation and expertise, to develop new features and better experiences for the millions who enjoy those products.
'The most important fact in this case, which the Commission does not mention in its 53-page complaint, is that it cleared these acquisitions years ago. The government now wants a do-over, sending a chilling warning to American business that no sale is ever final.
'People and small businesses don't choose to use Facebook's free services and advertising because they have to, they use them because our apps and services deliver the most value. We are going to vigorously defend people's ability to continue making that choice.'
Sexual Misconduct Shakes FBI's Senior Ranks
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 21:42
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Justice Department's interest in Hunter Biden covered more than taxes - POLITICO
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 21:41
Hunter Biden has faced recent tax problems. In July, the District of Columbia levied a $453,000 lien against him for unpaid state taxes, which he quickly satisfied, according to D.C. tax records accessed through the database service Nexis. | Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images
The federal investigation into President-elect Joe Biden's son Hunter has been more extensive than a statement from Hunter Biden indicates, according to a person with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.
On Wednesday, Hunter Biden said he had been contacted about a tax investigation out of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware.
In addition to Delaware, the securities fraud unit in the Southern District of New York also scrutinized Hunter Biden's finances, according to the person with direct knowledge of the investigation. The person said that, as of early last year, investigators in Delaware and Washington were also probing potential money laundering and Hunter Biden's foreign ties. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
In addition to the probe into Hunter Biden, federal authorities in the Western District of Pennsylvania are conducting a criminal investigation of a hospital business in which Joe Biden's brother James was involved. Federal officials have asked questions about James Biden's role in the business, according to a second person with direct knowledge of that investigation, who said it remains ongoing.
There is no indication that Joe Biden himself is under investigation, but if the cases remain open when Joe Biden takes office, they could complicate his presidency, and shine an unflattering light on his relatives' dealings, which often seek to capitalize on the Biden family's political connections.
''I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors,'' Hunter Biden said in a statement. Neither Biden's transition nor George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter and James Biden, immediately responded to requests for comment.
The Biden-Harris transition, which had previously denied any awareness of federal probes into Hunter's business dealings, struck a defensive note in a statement accompanying Hunter's.
"President-elect Biden is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger," the transition team said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Biden pledged that his relatives would avoid conflicts of interest. ''My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict, with inappropriate distance from the presidency and government,'' he said.
But the existence of probes involving the president-elect's son and a business with ties to his brother present a new set of challenges for the incoming administration.
Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert in government ethics, said that under longstanding post-Watergate norms, communications between the Justice Department and the White House concerning criminal investigations should be strictly limited. Clark said that Attorney General William Barr has eroded those norms, and that any ongoing investigation of Biden's relatives should prompt the next leader of the Justice Department to reaffirm them.
''It would be important for some internal messaging in the Justice Department to underline the Justice Department's independence,'' Clark said. ''What Biden and a Biden DOJ need to do is emphasize that Biden will not interject himself in specific DOJ investigations.''
Joe Biden has chosen the officials who will be at the center of his administration's Covid-19 response.
The investigation of Hunter Biden has dealt primarily with his financial ties to foreign figures and businesses, according to the person familiar with it. In a standard practice for tax investigations, the Tax Division at Main Justice in Washington has also been involved in the probe, the person said.
In recent years, Hunter Biden has served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, whose founder faced allegations of corruption, and did legal work for Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romainian businessman accused of corruption.
Hunter Biden has also pursued deals with Chinese oil magnate Ye Jianming and an associate of Ye's, Patrick Ho. In 2018, Ho was convicted in the Southern District of New York of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over his attempts to bribe government officials in Chad and Uganda.
Another business partner of Hunter Biden's, Devon Archer, was convicted in 2018 in the Southern District of New York on unrelated fraud charges. Bank records showing foreign payments to Hunter Biden surfaced as a part of that case.
After a judge overturned Archer's conviction in late 2018 (an appeals court reinstated the conviction last month), prosecutors in the SDNY securities fraud unit revisited Archer's case and began last year to scrutinize those foreign payments to Hunter Biden, looking for signs of money laundering, according to the person with firsthand knowledge of the investigation. But after conferring with prosecutors in Delaware, whose investigation was already well underway and acknowledged Wednesday by Hunter Biden, prosecutors in the SDNY securities fraud unit ceased their probing without opening a separate, formal investigation, the person said.
Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec declined to comment, as did spokespeople for the SDNY and Delaware U.S. Attorney's Offices.
Hunter Biden has also faced recent tax problems. In July, the District of Columbia levied a $453,000 lien against him for unpaid state taxes, which he quickly satisfied, according to D.C. tax records accessed through the database service Nexis. The lien was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
FBI agents, meanwhile, have been asking about James Biden's dealings with the hospital company Americore Health, an operator of rural hospitals, as part of an investigation based out of the Western District of Pennsylvania, according to the person with direct knowledge of that investigation.
In late January, FBI agents raided an Americore hospital in Ellwood City, Pa., and carted off boxes. The raid, which has been previously reported, followed crippling dysfunction at the hospital.
Americore, which is in bankruptcy, has faced allegations of mismanagement unrelated to James Biden, and it is not clear whether his activities are a focus of the investigation.
The exact nature of James Biden's involvement with Americore is also disputed.
POLITICO previously reported that he briefly had an office at the company's Florida headquarters in 2018. A business card identifying him as a ''principal'' of Americore was entered into court records in a civil case in Tennessee, but he has disputed that he is a principal of the company.
Former business contacts of James Biden's have said that he invoked his powerful older brother's name and influence in the course of his involvement with Americore, though he has disputed their accounts.
A Biden campaign official previously told POLITICO that Joe Biden has never discussed Americore with his brother or expressed support for the business.
Americore's founder, Grant White, attended a September 2017 fundraiser for the Beau Biden Foundation that Joe Biden was present for. The two men met at the event, according to a former Americore executive. The Biden campaign previously told POLITICO that any interaction between Joe Biden and White would have been perfunctory.
The Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general's office is also involved in the investigation of Americore Health, according to the person familiar with the situation. Spokespeople for the HHS IG's office and for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania both declined to comment.
Previous presidents have taken a variety of approaches to dealing with federal investigations related to their family members. Richard Nixon was criticized for instructing his Attorney General, John Mitchell, to wiretap his brother Donald in order to keep tabs on Donald's dubious business dealings. Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, agreed to be questioned under oath as part of an investigation of his brother Billy's relationship with the government of Libya.
Joe Biden may be the new president-elect '-- but with President Donald Trump continuing to challenge the results and Senate control up still up for grabs, the story of the election is far from over.
EXCLUSIVE: YouTube Employs Chinese Communist 'State Secrecy Bureau' Software Engineers
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 21:41
YouTube '' the Google-owned video platform making headlines for vowing to censor all content flagging ''election fraud or errors'' '' employs software engineers with ties to the Chinese Communist Party, The National Pulse can reveal.A host of software engineers for the platform have formerly worked for Chinese Communist Party-run institutions, raising the question as to why a revolving door exists between YouTube and the China-based universities.
A software engineer for the video platform since May of 2019,Tai Jinjiang, previously worked as a project manager for Guanghzou Shian Technology.
Jinjiang detailed his work for the China-based firm as playing a ''major role in successful PLA certification of ShiAn terminal by Ministry of Public Security, State Secrecy Bureau, and IT Evaluation Center.''
In other words, Jinjiang led software efforts on behalf of the PLA '' appearing to reference China's People's Liberation Army '' and a host of Chinese government-led intelligence bodies. What's more, he notes he ''garnered numerous staff awards for excellent performance.''
Jinjiang's job description.Additionally, Xiao Chen '' who lists himself as a software engineer at YouTube since November of 2020 '' previously served as a Research Assistant at Sun Yat-Sen University.
The university '' which recently dispatched a researcher to the U.S. who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over ties to China '' has also seen its Supercomputing Center on the U.S. government's entity list since 2015 '' a ''list of people and companies the U.S. government deems a national security risk.''
Chen's employment history.Another software engineer, Xifei Huang, has worked at YouTube since February 2014 despite previously working as a Developer for Beijing-based Peking University.
Huang's employment history.Peking University '' which has also seen its researchers sentenced by the FBI for stealing intellectual property and failing to disclose Chinese Communist Party ties '' is funded and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The university also counts former and current party apparatchiks among its leadership, including its leader: a former head of the country's spy agency's Beijing branch.
Fan Yang, another YouTube software engineer since April 2017, interned for China Telecom, labeled by the U.S. Department of Defense as collaborating with the Chinese military for over two decades.
Yang later served as a research assistant at Fudan University, which recently cut ''freedom of thought'' from its charter under Chinese Communist Party demands. During Yang's Fudan stint, five Chinese military-linked hackers based out of Fudan University were indicted for stealing U.S. secrets.
Yang's employment history.The unearthed ties cast YouTube's decision to ban all content disputing a victory for Joe Biden '' the Chinese Communist Party's preferred candidate '' in an interesting light. It similarly calls into question reports of YouTube automatically deleting Chinese-language phrases critical of the Chinese Communist Party, which the platformer attributed to ''an error in our enforcement systems.''
The revelations also add to a growing list of American tech corporates hiring Chinese Communist Party-linked individuals including Facebook and Twitter. Twitter appointed Dr. Fei-Fei Li as an advisor despite her attendance at several Chinese Communist Party-backed conferences and cooperation with a ''leading artificial intelligence research body at Tsinghua University, a prestigious Chinese academic institution that also conducts AI research for the Chinese military.''
Natalie Winters Natalie Winters is a Senior Reporter at the National Pulse and producer of The National Pulse TV show.
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Opinion | There's Still a Loaded Weapon Lying Around in Our Election System - The New York Times
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 21:32
State legislatures are still a threat to appointing electors contrary to the will of their voters.
By Richard H. Pildes
Mr. Pildes is an author of the casebook ''The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process.''
Dec. 10, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET Credit... Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images The 2020 election revealed longstanding fractures in the foundation of our system for conducting presidential elections. Before these lead to an earthquake in a subsequent presidential election, we need to shore up that foundation.
The single most dangerous threat the election exposed was the prospect of legislatures directly appointing a state's electors and overriding the vote of the people in that state. No state legislature has attempted to do this since at least the Civil War. But in the run-up to the 2020 election, this seemed the most likely means that might circumvent the voters and subvert the election. This concern has been proven warranted: After the Trump campaign's postelection lawsuits failed around the country, its strategy was precisely to get state legislatures in key swing states to appoint the electors themselves.
Indeed, President Trump continues to pursue that strategy even now '-- he reportedly twice called the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in recent days '-- despite these states having legally certified Joe Biden as the winner of their state's popular vote.
There is no legal basis for what the president is urging, but it calls attention to a previously obscure provision in federal election law. This provision, known as the ''failed election'' provision, lies around like a loaded weapon. It is the only place in federal law that identifies circumstances in which, even after a popular vote for president has been taken, a state legislature has the power to step in and appoint electors.
The ''failed election'' provision traces back to the Presidential Election Day Act, first enacted in 1845. That act, after specifying the date for the presidential election, goes on to provide: ''Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.''
The act, however, does not define what it means for an election to have ''failed.'' Nor does past practice give any more determinate meaning to this term; this provision has never been invoked, at least since the closely related federal Electoral Count Act was passed in 1887. But the little-known history of the act reveals that one major purpose for it is now anachronistic, and the act needs to be modernized to reflect the limited purposes for which it might remain relevant today.
When Congress was creating the Presidential Election Day Act, the ''failed election'' provision was added at the insistence of representatives from New Hampshire and Virginia. At the time, New Hampshire required that a candidate had to receive a majority of all votes cast to be elected. A candidate who finished first but with only a plurality of the vote was not elected. The backup process in New Hampshire, as in other states that similarly required a ''majority of votes'' to win, was either that the legislature would appoint the office holder or that a second election would be held. Thus, these states would not be able to choose their presidential electors on Election Day, whenever no candidate received a ''majority'' of the votes '-- which would happen with third-party candidates on the ballot. When the bill was next debated, the House responded by adding the ''failed election'' provision now found in current law.
The history of why federal election law includes this ''failed election'' provision is part of the story of how democracy was understood early in American history. Many state constitutions initially included these ''majority'' vote provisions. This reflected the link between democracy and ''majority rule'' as that was understood early on. But as experience with democratic elections developed, states soon discovered that many elections involved a candidate winning a plurality, but not a majority, of the votes. That would trigger a backup provision in state laws '-- a provision that provided either that the election would be held repeatedly until someone received a majority of votes, or that the legislature was empowered to bypass an election and appoint the officeholder (the current Georgia Senate runoff elections are a remnant of this history).
That first alternative sometimes led to farcical situations. At least one congressional seat remained vacant for an entire two-year term because, despite repeated elections, no candidate ever received a majority of the vote. Similarly, the New Hampshire Legislature appointed eight governors in the 50 years leading up to the state's switch to a plurality provision in 1912. As these experiences mounted and democratic understandings matured, nearly all states replaced their ''majority vote'' requirements with ''plurality vote'' ones. The adoption of these ''plurality vote'' rules eliminated a major reason for the ''failed election'' provision. Two different, contemporary purposes might still warrant retaining a version of this provision, but if so, the provision needs to be rewritten to address these two specific situations in safer, narrowly defined terms.
First, a natural disaster or similar event might make it temporarily impossible for a state to vote on general Election Day. But in many contexts, states will be able to recover from these disasters quickly enough to hold the election within a week. State laws, enacted in advance, should provide for these foreseeable emergencies. Federal law, in turn, should permit a state to choose its electors after Election Day in this rare circumstance when it is impossible for a state to hold elections on Election Day.
Second, it is possible a state might not be able to certify its vote before the date the Electoral College must vote, which would risk depriving the state of its vote. That could happen if unresolved litigation raises legitimate challenges and the judicial process cannot be finished in time to certify a winner before the electors must vote. Leaving open a small window to account for this rare possibility might be necessary, but the scope of this power must be extremely limited. Indeed, one strategy of the Trump campaign was to exploit this possibility by dragging out court cases long enough for state legislatures to ''have'' to step in.
One way to reduce this risk is to push back the Electoral College vote until late December or even early January. There are trade-offs in doing that, but we need to recognize that, since 2000, litigation over a close election has become inevitable. This year's cases were insubstantial, which enabled prompt resolution, but more credible cases will take longer to resolve. Moving back the date of the Electoral College vote permits more time to complete any legitimate court proceedings before a legislature could claim the state's election had ''failed.'' On top of that, the law should make clear that the legislatures lose any power once a state has certified its vote.
The American people, not state legislatures, should choose the president. The ''failed election'' provision, which lies around as one of the greatest threats to that principle, was created in significant part for reasons that no longer apply. To preserve the integrity of presidential elections, Congress needs to modernize that provision and define clearly the extremely limited, highly unlikely circumstances in which it might ever legitimately come into play.
Richard H. Pildes is a professor at New York University's School of Law and an author of the casebook ''The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process.''
Chinese Wind Farm in Texas Raises Eyebrows
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 21:20
Wind turbines tower over a building on a farm in Colorado City, Texas, on Jan. 21, 2016. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The Trump administration will not block a Chinese-owned company from building a wind farm in Texas near the Air Force's largest pilot training base, a person familiar with the decision told Foreign Policy, allowing a project to move forward that lawmakers fear could be used to spy on American troops, disrupt flight routes, and give Beijing a foothold in the U.S. electrical grid.
The decision comes after an analysis from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a panel of different federal agencies that examines the impact of foreign investments in the United States, found that the wind farm does not currently pose a national security concern. But GH America Energy, the U.S. unit of a Chinese firm, must still mitigate the impact of wind turbines that could interfere with low-level flight training routes at Laughlin Air Force Base. Those plans are currently under review in a separate process led by the Air Force and the Defense Department's Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse.
For years the Trump administration has been on a collision course with China over trade, geopolitics, and, now, the coronavirus pandemic. Amid a groundswell of anti-China sentiment in Washington, top administration officials have begun hammering other countries, including close allies, for allowing Chinese investment in their critical infrastructure and other industries relevant to national security.
Now, the prospect of turbines cropping up at the Blue Hills Wind development, just a few dozen miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and the limestone bedrock of the Edwards Plateau, has brought the U.S. competition with China to an unlikely place: the small town of Del Rio, Texas, home to Laughlin and a dryland paradise for nature lovers and hunters that boasts ancient rock art dating back before the days of the Egyptian pharaohs.
Chinese-Owned Wind Farm Proposed Near U.S. Military Base
The project would put wind turbines at the Blue Hills Wind development, just a few dozen miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and near Laughlin Air Force Base.
The developer, GH America Energy, a subsidiary of Guanghui Energy Company, a firm owned by a former Chinese army officer and the richest person in China's embattled Xinjiang province, declined requests to comment for this story. A Treasury Department spokeswoman declined to comment, citing policy preventing the agency from talking publicly about individual CFIUS cases.
Under CFIUS law, the United States can put the project under review at any time if there are new developments at the site, or if the Chinese-owned company does not notify it of changes. In the meantime, members of Congress and local officials fear the foreign company could interfere with the air base, sully the pristine wilderness, burrow into the electrical grid, or even use the project as a platform for Chinese government-directed espionage.
''Why this location and why this project?'' Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who represents a district that stretches westward across Texas from San Antonio toward El Paso and includes the project, told Foreign Policy. ''Why are we allowing a Chinese company to do that in the U.S.? A former U.S. general would not be able to do this kind of project in China.''
Members of the 48th Rescue Squadron from Arizona participate in an exercise near Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas in this undated photograph. Some have expressed concern that a proposed Chinese-owned wind farm near the Texas military base could be a national security risk. Master Sgt. Heather Cabral/U.S. Air Force
That is a question that's bedeviled military officials, local leaders, activists, and lawmakers who have tracked this case for two years. The problem of wind farms popping up near military flight routes isn't new: Then-Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast had been dealing with the issue for more than a decade when in November 2017 he took over the Air Force's San Antonio-based Education and Training Command, which oversees Laughlin. But while Kwast believed the military's improving technology could prevent wind-powered turbines from messing with radar signals, when he learned that a Chinese company was buying up acreage near Laughlin Air Force Base just a year into his tenure, it alerted him to a potential national security risk.
''It triggered alarms the first time that we got evidence of Chinese money,'' said Kwast, who is now retired. ''If the electricity stops or the water stops flowing, those bases stop operating.''
Even more puzzling, the business case for the new venture didn't make much sense to Kwast and local officials. How would the property'--which lawmakers and county advocates say is in the middle of nowhere and did not have significant road access at the time'--be able to turn a profit?
The Del Rio community also began to get worried. Local leaders were intent on salvaging Air Force training routes that could be jeopardized by the construction of large wind turbines. Laughlin graduates more than 350 student pilots each year, according to a 2018 release , and its flight routes are critical to the area's economy. The base contributed $2 billion to the state's economy last year, and it indirectly or directly provides more than 10,000 jobs, estimates from the Texas comptroller's office show.
But the forces that let Guanghui buy up the acreage near Laughlin and Del Rio have been brewing for more than two decades. Project developers love the lack of red tape; foreign buyers have come to love the Texas's deregulatory swagger and loose rules on property purchases. (The state's land is about 95 percent privately owned.) The federal government has some legal authorities in place to review and block foreign investments over national security concerns, such as the CFIUS process.
In Texas, however, there's a high bar for authorities to step in and stop development on wind farms. Ever since the Texas legislature put in place a 1999 mandate calling on the state's utilities to get more power from renewable sources, it's been hard to stop these ventures from going forward.
''On the state and federal level there are no regulations regarding the development of these wind farms,'' said Jack Hession, a senior vice president at Madison Government Affairs, a Washington lobbying shop that is representing the Del Rio community, told Foreign Policy . ''There's no way to deny it as it was purchased. The proposal to do a wind farm was a viable option for the owner.''
The issue first came to the attention of local officials in early 2018, after Guanghui purchased properties including nine ranches under the name of Brazos Highland Properties LP, environmentalists say, a holding company controlled by the firm. The company proposed building 50 to 130 wind turbines that could reach up to 700 feet above ground level, according to estimates that local officials provided to the Trump administration.
Beyond the geopolitics and national security concerns, the project has also riled up local environmentalists who worry that the wind farm could despoil prime clear waters cherished by boaters, nature lovers, and hunters from across the state.
''Hunters from Houston, Dallas, they don't want to be looking at tall turbines and watching red lights blinking on the horizon all night,'' said Randy Nunns, a landowner and the president of the board of the Devils River Conservancy, a local environmental advocacy group that has opposed the wind farm.
A portion of the Amistad National Recreation Area, outside Del Rio in Val Verde County, Texas, is pictured in 2014. Local environmental advocates worry that the wind farm could harm the area's pristine aquifers and migratory routes for eagles, bats, and butterflies. Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images
For now, Guanghui appears to have assuaged'--just barely'--concerns that were its biggest potential hurdle other than CFIUS, the Air Force's requirement to clear turbines from the proposed low-level training route, Hession said, though he cautioned there is no deal or agreement in place. An Air Force spokesperson told Foreign Policy that an agreement has not been finalized but is currently under review by both the service and the Pentagon's Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse.
That hasn't fully satisfied local officials or Congress, though, who fear that the worst is yet to come as Guanghui eyes further development of wind and solar projects in the area that could encroach upon flight routes.
Letters obtained by Foreign Policy show that by February, a Val Verde County judge and Del Rio's mayor had told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett that the project posed long-term challenges to flight training operations at Laughlin.
''Our greatest concern is the long-term implications this will have on the Air Force's mission of pilot training not with a single application, but rather a cumulative strategy that cannot be evaluated in the first filing,'' County Judge Lewis G. Owens Jr. and Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano wrote to Mnuchin in February. ''We believe that this project and all future projects of a similar nature will result in unacceptable risk to national security of the United States.''
Lawmakers who might normally welcome foreign investment with open arms are also looking askance at the project. Leading the charge has been Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, who traveled to Laughlin Air Force Base in February and raised concerns that the project poses a potential threat of Chinese espionage.
''Sen. Cruz is particularly concerned by the threat of a Chinese-owned company erecting wind farms near Laughlin. China has demonstrated a willingness to invest billions of dollars in specific, targeted economic initiatives through private companies to expand the global reach of their security and espionage capabilities,'' a spokesperson for Cruz told Foreign Policy . ''Not only will these wind farms near Laughlin affect training routes, they could also risk our national security.''
Sun Guangxin, the founder of the Guanghui Energy Company'--which has purchased nine ranches in Val Verde County, Texas'--is a former Chinese military officer and one of the largest landowners in China's Xinjiang province. Imaginechina via AP Images
In recent years, Chinese companies have jumped headlong into the Texas energy market, despite worsening political relations between Washington and Beijing. Chinese turbine-makers sparked a political row a decade ago when they sought to use Obama-era recovery funds to build a wind farm there. Another Chinese company began constructing Rattlesnake Wind Farm in Brady, Texas, in 2017, and one Chinese firm snapped up shale assets in the oil-rich Permian Basin, a trend experts figure could continue with plunging oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But it's not just any company buying up land at the Carma, Palmer, and Morningstar ranches, among the nine ranches Guanghui has purchased in Val Verde County. When Rep. Hurd's staff began looking into Sun Guangxin, the founder of the Guanghui Energy Company, they quickly learned he was a former People's Liberation Army officer and one of the largest landowners in China's Xinjiang province, the current site of a sweeping campaign by Beijing to intern around 1 million ethnic Uighur minorities under the guise of a counterterrorism operation.
Sun first made his mark buying up swaths of formerly state-owned real estate in Xinjiang after leaving the Chinese military, through which he participated in the 1979 invasion of Vietnam, according to the South China Morning Post . The firm outwardly advertises its connections to the Chinese Communist Party on its website.
President Donald Trump told Axios this week that he had held out on enacting Treasury sanctions against Chinese officials involved in the internment camps in order to secure a trade deal with Beijing, but under a law signed this month, the White House could impose penalties on Chinese Communist Party members involved in the camps. Daniel Hoffman, a former high-ranking CIA official, urged Congress in an op-ed for Fox News to determine whether Sun or his associates should face sanctions for possible abuses of Uighurs.
The Trump administration had already raised questions about Guanghui's investors engaging in a pattern of double-dealing in American business. In 2018, the U.S. Trade Representative published a report that accused Evergrande Group, the largest minority shareholder in Guanghui and run by one of the richest people in China, of attempting to steal intellectual property from a California-based startup.
Just as Congress, fretful that China could use telecommunications companies as a Trojan horse in the development of 5G mobile networks, is pushing to ban companies like Huawei, there are concerns that Chinese firms with government and military connections could pose a threat to the electricity grid.
''We don't want to have that same concern when it comes to our grid, right?'' Hurd told Foreign Policy . ''So should another foreign-owned entity be able to put power on the grid which means they're controlling some of that power right now? I think the answer is no.''
''Why this location and why this project?'' said U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, who represents a district that stretches westward across Texas from San Antonio toward El Paso and includes the project. ''Why are we allowing a Chinese company to do that in the U.S.? A former U.S. general would not be able to do this kind of project in China.'' Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
U.S. intelligence agencies have harbored concerns about China breaking into the grid with backdoor hacks for the better part of a decade. Then-National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers told Congress in November 2014 that malicious hackers could potentially target the grid by breaking into industrial control systems undergirding power networks and critical infrastructure, instructing turbines to go offline.
In May, Trump took a step to curtail possible manipulation of the power grid, signing an executive order that would ban acquisitions of electrical equipment built by ''foreign adversaries.'' The Energy Department has until the end of September to determine which countries the United States will designate as adversaries under the order.
But lawmakers are still worried that Chinese companies like Guanghui buying up wind farms, giving them inroads into Texas's electrical grid, could allow them another lever to manipulate and overload the system.
''Would they be able to manipulate the industrial control systems on their side? Obviously, because they would they would own that,'' said Hurd. ''Is there a way that by being connected to [the] electrical grid, that you would be able to overload that grid?''
Asked if he was worried that foreign companies controlling swaths of the electrical grid could be capable of triggering statewide outages, Hurd, a former CIA officer, did not hesitate to answer. ''100 percent,'' he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with members of Congress and administration officials to discuss the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act at the White House in Washington on Aug. 23, 2018. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Top U.S. officials have also raised alarm bells about Chinese energy investments in the past if the projects were too close to U.S. military installations, for fear of exposing the bases to electronic surveillance or other forms of espionage. President Barack Obama in 2012 blocked a Chinese-owned firm from pursuing a wind farm close to a naval test facility in Oregon, citing national security concerns.
The Obama administration had a ready-made authority to intervene in that case, nearly a decade ago, under long-standing CFIUS rules that give the president the ability to block foreign acquisitions of U.S. businesses, known as ''brownfield investments,'' on national security grounds. The U.S. military trains pilots for electronic warfare aircraft and tests drones at the site, in Eastern Oregon near the Columbia River.
U.S. presidents have only used CFIUS six times to stop foreign transactions since the body was founded in 1975, but Obama and Trump have combined to stop five of those purchases in the past decade, with Trump most recently using a presidential order in March to force a Chinese company to divest interests in the cloud-based hotel management firm StayNTouch.
Since then, Congress has given the Trump administration stronger powers to protect American companies from foreign acquisitions, especially in the tech sector, as the White House has pledged to crack down on foreign investment'--particularly from China. In 2018, Trump signed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act as part of the Pentagon's annual authorizing bill. That law gives CFIUS new authority to probe foreign investments in undeveloped land near U.S. government buildings and military bases, such as the Chinese-owned wind farm development near Laughlin Air Force Base.
''We're putting a lot of safeguards in, and we're doing a lot of things against foreign acquisition of property, and especially where they're near sensitive military installations,'' Trump said during a roundtable to roll out the law in August 2018.
The new law has chagrined free-traders, who say that the reforms give CFIUS too much power to squash private foreign investments without stopping takeovers in larger sectors of the U.S. economy. The number of yearly CFIUS notices had already more than tripled between 2009 and 2017.
What's more, any decision CFIUS makes is extremely difficult for companies to try to overturn, said David Mortlock, a former White House and State Department sanctions official and now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. ''There really is very little ability to challenge CFIUS's national security determinations,'' he said.
''The statute itself protects CFIUS's decisions from judicial intervention,'' he added. ''But also the fact that they're based on national security risks of foreign investments, the administration's discretion is at its zenith and courts are very unlikely to intervene in such a decision.''
But even with the beefed-up protections, veteran national security experts are worried that there's not enough being done to stop powerful Chinese companies like Guanghui from passing along information about U.S. utilities to the nation's army.
''Something as large as this project down in Del Rio and particularly given the fact that it's linked to the power grid in the U.S. could not be going on without PLA involvement,'' said James Olson, a former CIA chief of counterintelligence and now a professor at Texas A&M University.
''Disrupting electronic activities of all kinds giving them a potential platform in the vicinity of the military base is not something the PLA would overlook,'' he said.
A bald eagle is pictured in Val Verde County, Texas. Courtesy of Beverly Iverson
It took more than a year of lobbying from local officials and environmental advocates and to get a meeting with Sun, the Guanghui chief. Local conservationists had been blindsided when the French-owned Rocksprings Val Verde wind farm popped up in the county without warning in March 2017. They were determined not to be dealt another blow that could harm the area's pristine aquifers and migratory routes for eagles, bats, and butterflies.
In fact, it took a lot of digging to find out that the Chinese-owned company was involved at all. When Brazos Highland Properties LP began buying up 140,000 acres of land in the county, the only reporting that advocates from the nearby Devils River Conservancy could find on it was through Val Verde County's property appraisal search.
''It was very cloak and dagger-esque,'' said Julie Lewey, the executive director of the Devils River Conservancy. ''We didn't know it was Chinese, we didn't know anything. We just knew they were planning to build wind farms.''
Lewey and her team only knew that a wind farm was in the works because another company had registered turbines on one Brazos-owned ranch with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a nonprofit that manages most of the state's power grid.
It was only when the conservancy backed a bill in the Texas legislature that would have given the state's Parks and Wildlife Department authority oversight on wind farm siting that representatives from GH America Energy'--the U.S. subsidiary'--showed up in Austin to oppose it. The bill died in committee.
Lewey, the Laughlin base commander, and county commissioners were finally invited to meet Sun, introduced to the group as ''Chairman Sun,'' at his ranch in July 2019. But after they were escorted past the gates to his home in a large caravan, they found that the conversation didn't get to the big issues.
''It was about 95 percent a social meeting,'' Lewey said. ''Not a whole lot of business concerns were brought up there.''
Conservationists have had several follow-up meetings with company representatives, but they aren't convinced they are being heard. ''They have listened to us,'' she said. ''I don't know if they've heard us. But they've listened to us.''
Turbines are pictured at a wind farm in Taft, Texas, on March 27, 2015. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Questions over Guanghui exemplify broader concerns about Chinese investment in foreign countries. Given how centralized China's entire governing model is, it's difficult to tell in a Chinese business venture where purely business interests end, and geopolitical interests begin.
''This gets to a larger debate about China's economic system itself, about the division between the state and private sector,'' said Ashley Feng, an expert on China's economy at the Center for a New American Security. ''Are Chinese private firms that are going abroad and acquiring technology and companies and land, are they actually acting independently from the state? That's a blurred line.''
Others place China's U.S. acquisitions alongside their stated plans to attain dominance in emerging high-tech industries by 2025, setting up a much more zero-sum competition.
''This is an economic war,'' Kwast, the former Air Force commander , said of Chinese thinking driving investments in the United States. ''China is looking to invest in anything that can give them a competitive advantage on anything. They want to win this economic war without firing a shot.''
How Andrew Cuomo's Executive Order Trapped My 89-Year-Old Mother in COVID Limbo for Weeks
Thu, 10 Dec 2020 21:17
On March 25 of this annus horribilis, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients. Infections spread like wildfire and thousands died.
On May 10, the governor reversed himself with a revised order that prohibited nursing homes from readmitting residents hospitalized for COVID-19 unless they had two negative PCR tests. The old order quietly disappeared from the website. You need to go to the Internet Archive to find it.
My 89-year-old widowed mother suffers from dementia and is cared for in the Memory Unit of a wonderful continuing care retirement community on Long Island where she and my father had lived independently for many years. On November 21, she tested positive for COVID-19. Because she was running a low-grade fever they quite properly rushed her to the hospital. I was sure she was a goner.
The next day, her fever cleared. She has been asymptomatic and in excellent physical condition ever since. It has been 18 days and counting yet she is still trapped in the hospital's COVID ward even though she requires no medical care. Why?
Her PCR tests keep coming back positive, even though the experts at the Centers for Disease Control as well as the doctors at the hospital where she is being held prisoner are confident that she is not contagious. Why? Because of Governor Cuomo's inflexible order, which recognizes no other criteria but a PCR test of dubious clinical value more than ten days after symptoms clear.
Mom now not only has dementia but is going insane. I speak with her four times a day via the Alexa Echo Show video unit I had installed in her room. Every call is the same.
''Where am I? Why am I here? When can I go home? I want to die.''
After days of fighting my way up the chain of command, I finally found a responsible hospital administrator willing to speak the truth to me. I will refrain from publishing his name for his own protection. He told me that he has ''tons'' of asymptomatic patients across his hospital system occupying expensive and badly needed hospital beds who cannot be released to rehab or nursing homes because their PCR tests are still coming back positive. Some for months.
Every doctor in the hospital realizes that these patients are neither sick nor contagious. Every medical expert knows that PCR tests are highly prone to trigger on tiny fragments of residual RNA even when there is no communicable disease present.
Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, recently explained this phenomenon to the New York Times.
''We've been using one type of data for everything, and that is just plus or minus '-- that's all,'' Dr. Mina said. ''We're using that for clinical diagnostics, for public health, for policy decision-making.''
But yes-no isn't good enough, he added. It's the amount of virus that should dictate the infected patient's next steps. ''It's really irresponsible, I think, to forgo the recognition that this is a quantitative issue,'' Dr. Mina said.
The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.
Unfortunately, Cuomo's executive order prevents these people from being discharged. And they are piling up. This is not good science. It is not even good politics. It is madness.
And it's the result of turning our medical system over to one-size-fits-all executive orders issued by frantic politicians trying to manage their media image. This is a sure way to make any crisis worse.


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