1305: Palin Pardon

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 14m
December 20th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Baron Crack of all of Arizona and Cabo San Lucas Mexico, Sir Kevin of the Irrigated Rice Fields, Anonymous, John Pacifici, Sir Dodd of The Pears, Sir Chris of Carmel-By-The-Sea, Sir Render, Sir Keith Saarloos, The Knight and Bacchus of the Santa Ynez Valley, Andrew Golway

Associate Executive Producers: Baron Ed LeBouthillier, Emily H, Jake Long, Sir Rotorhead, Craig Connett Jr, Inge de Jong, John DeLeon, Dayl Flack

Cover Artist: John Fletcher


Start of Show
“Put up with a lot” - UK
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Herr Fauci on Sesame Street!
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WHO does not recommend lockdowns
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Start of first donations segment
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End of 1st donation segment
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end of 1st donation section.
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Stephen Colbert's job
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Colbert: "Dr. Jill"
PBS NewsHour: Last Episode of Shields and Brooks
Lyin Bo Jiden
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Start of 2nd donations segment
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end of 2nd donation and meet up section.
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Coca-Cola Retires 200 Brands
Sarah Palin: "Julian Assange deserves a pardon"
Covid Christmas
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Suggest a new chapter
Devil Storm
Acting Pentagon chief halts Biden transition briefings - Axios
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:11
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation with the transition of President-elect Biden, shocking officials across the Defense Department, senior administration officials tell Axios.
Behind the scenes: A top Biden official was unaware of the directive. Administration officials left open the possibility cooperation would resume after a holiday pause. The officials were unsure what prompted Miller's action, or whether President Trump approved.
Why it matters: Miller's move, which stunned officials throughout the Pentagon, was the biggest eruption yet of animus and mistrust toward the Biden team from the top level of the Trump administration.
What happened: Meetings between President Trump's team and the Biden team are going on throughout the government, after a delayed start as the administration dragged its feet on officially recognizing Biden as president-elect.
Then on Thursday night, Miller '-- who was appointed Nov. 9, when Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper right after the election '-- ordered officials throughout the building to cancel scheduled transition meetings.Pentagon official response: A senior Defense Department official sought to downplay the move, calling it "a simple delay of the last few scheduled meetings until after the new year."
"We had fewer than two dozen remaining meetings on the schedule today and next week," the official said, adding that "the DoD staff working the meetings were overwhelmed by the number of meetings.""These same senior leaders needed to do their day jobs and were being consumed by transition activities. ... With the holidays we are taking a knee for two weeks. We are still committed to a productive transition."
Trump Discussed Naming Campaign Lawyer as Special Counsel on Election Fraud - The New York Times
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 19:13
Politics | Trump Discussed Naming Campaign Lawyer as Special Counsel on Election Fraud",e+="
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President Trump has been in contact with Sidney Powell in recent days, despite the fact that the campaign last month sought to distance itself from her as she aired baseless claims about Dominion Voting Systems machines. Credit... Samuel Corum for The New York Times Dec. 19, 2020, 12:34 p.m. ET President Trump on Friday discussed making Sidney Powell, who as a lawyer for his campaign team unleashed a series of conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States, a special counsel investigating voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion.
It was unclear if Mr. Trump will move ahead with such a plan.
Most of his advisers opposed the idea, two of the people briefed on the discussion said, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, who in recent days sought to have the Department of Homeland Security join the campaign's efforts to overturn Mr. Trump's loss in the election.
Mr. Giuliani joined the discussion by phone, while Ms. Powell was at the White House for a meeting that became raucous at times, according to one of the people briefed on what took place. Other administration officials drifted in and out of the meeting, two of the people briefed said, and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, pushed back on the ideas being proposed.
Ms. Powell accused other Trump advisers of being quitters, according to the people briefed.
But the idea that Mr. Trump would try to install Ms. Powell in a position to investigate the outcome sent shock waves through the president's circle. She has repeatedly claimed there was widespread fraud, but several lawsuits she filed related to election fraud have been tossed out of court.
Mr. Trump has been in contact with Ms. Powell in recent days, despite the fact that the campaign last month sought to distance itself from her as she aired wild and baseless claims about Dominion Voting Systems machines, which were used in some states, somehow being connected to a Venezuelan plot to control the election.
Dominion officials have demanded that Ms. Powell retract her claims.
Since the election, Mr. Trump had pushed the outgoing attorney general, William P. Barr, to appoint a special counsel to look into election fraud, as well as one to investigate Hunter Biden, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s son. Mr. Barr, people briefed on the matter, has been unwilling to do what Mr. Trump wanted.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have been pushing for data as evidence of widespread election fraud, a claim that Mr. Barr rejected publicly weeks ago.
Part of the White House meeting on Friday night was a discussion about an executive order to take control of voting machines to examine them, according to one of the people briefed.
Mr. Giuliani has separately pressed the Department of Homeland Security to seize possession of voting machines as part of a push to overturn the results of the election, three people familiar with the discussion said. Mr. Giuliani was told the department does not have the authority to do such a thing.
Trump promises 'wild' protest in DC on Jan. 6, the day Congress to count electoral votes
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 21:38
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House on Thanksgiving on November 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump had earlier made the traditional call to members of the military stationed abroad thro '...
President Trump on Saturday promised a "wild" protest in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, as he continued to deny that he lost the election.
"Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election," he tweeted. "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
Jan. 6 is the day Congress will meet to accept the presidential election results. President-elect Joe Biden won the election, and presidential electors cast their votes last week in the Electoral College.
But Trump and his campaign have disputed the results and launched numerous legal challenges, although nearly all of them have failed. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court shot down a Texas lawsuit trying to nullify millions of votes in key swing states.
Roughly four dozen lawsuits by the Trump campaign and allies to upend the election results over the past six weeks have been tossed out by state and federal judges.
Trump's legal team has said it intends to continue mounting legal challenges, but experts say there is little chance of success.
On Saturday, Trump linked to a report by Peter Navarro that claims without evidence that the amount of election fraud was sufficient to swing the election.
Some Trump allies have planned to call for a debate in the House when the election results are received. However, those plans were dealt a blow when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked his Republican colleagues in the Senate not to contest the election results on Jan. 6, when a joint session of Congress formally accepts the count.
McConnell's move could effectively end any hopes of a last-minute reprieve for the president. A majority of both chambers of Congress (including the Democratic-controlled House) would be needed to upend the election results.
Meanwhile, Trump has been critical of those in his party who have accepted Biden's victory.
After McConnell recognized Biden as president-elect in a Tuesday speech on the floor of the Senate, Trump responded by calling on him and other Republicans to "get tougher."
".@senatemajldr and Republican Senators have to get tougher, or you won't have a Republican Party anymore. We won the Presidential Election, by a lot. FIGHT FOR IT. Don't let them take it away!" Trump charged on Twitter.
Trump, who lost by more than 7 million votes, has also taken aim at a number of other Republicans over their stance on the election -- including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.
Fox News' Paul Steinhauser and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.
Donald J. Trump on Twitter: "He didn't win the Election. He lost all 6 Swing States, by a lot. They then dumped hundreds of thousands of votes in each one, and got caught. Now Republican politicians have to fight so that their great victory is not stole
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 00:44
Donald J. Trump : He didn't win the Election. He lost all 6 Swing States, by a lot. They then dumped hundreds of thousands of votes i'... https://t.co/8KE4yG70Wk
Sat Dec 19 14:41:03 +0000 2020
Save NN : @realDonaldTrump You keep repeating the same shit on a daily basis. Go find another country to grift in.
Sun Dec 20 00:44:06 +0000 2020
China Says EU Investment Deal in Final Stage, Hails Progress - Bloomberg
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:01
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CHINA SUPPLY CHAIN - CISA Updates Alert and Releases Supplemental Guidance on Emergency Directive for SolarWinds Orion Compromise | CISA
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 21:30
CISA has updated AA20-352A: Advanced Persistent Threat Compromise of Government Agencies, Critical Infrastructure, and Private Sector Organizations, originally released December 17. This update states that CISA has evidence of, and is currently investigating, initial access vectors in addition to those attributed to the SolarWinds Orion supply chain compromise. This update also provides new mitigation guidance and revises the indicators of compromise table; it also includes a downloadable STIX file of the IOCs.
In addition, CISA has released supplemental guidance to Emergency Directive (ED) 21-01, providing new information on affected versions, new guidance for agencies using third-party service providers, and additional clarity on required actions.
CISA encourages users and administrators to review the following resources for additional information on the SolarWinds Orion compromise.
CISA Emergency Directive 21-01 - Supplemental Guidance v.1CISA Emergency Directive 21-01: Mitigate SolarWinds Orion Code CompromiseCISA Activity Alert AA20-352A: Advanced Persistent Threat Compromise of Government Agencies, Critical Infrastructure, and Private Sector Organizations This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.
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IT'S WAR: Communist China successfully infiltrated vaccine giants Pfizer, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline as part of ''unrestricted warfare'' to defeat the US military and conquer North America '' NaturalNews.com
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:17
(Natural News) We now have confirmation from multiple sources that the newly-leaked database of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) loyalists includes the names and details of 123 individuals who have successfully infiltrated the vaccine industry, attaining employment at vaccine giants Pfizer, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline '-- corporations that are manufacturing coronavirus vaccines for U.S. civilian and military use.
The Epoch Times, which has strong ties to Chinese dissidents who are able to confirm such information, now reports:
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a global coalition of lawmakers, obtained the database from an unidentified Chinese dissident, then shared the material with four media organizations, according to a Dec. 12 report by British newspaper The Mail on Dec. 13, which obtained the list and reviewed it.
The Mail found that major aerospace companies Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Boeing have employed hundreds of CCP members. Additionally, Pfizer and British drugmaker AstraZeneca employed a total of 123 Party members. British automaker Jaguar Land Rover also employed CCP members.
Members of the CCP, ''swear oath to 'guard Party secrets, be loyal to the Party, work hard, fight for communism throughout my life'...and never betray the Party''' reports the UK Daily Mail.
CCP loyalists routinely steal corporate secrets and compromise the security and integrity of corporations that might compete against Chinese interests. Also according to the UK Daily Mail, ''there were more than 600 party members across 19 branches working at the British banks HSBC and Standard Chartered in 2016.''
The CCP created the coronavirus bioweapon, and we believe that the CCP used its spies to infiltrate and compromise vaccine manufacturers in order to turn coronavirus vaccines into ''second wave'' bioweapons that will injure or kill very large numbers of people who take the vaccines.
This also means that individuals who are pushing vaccine mandates are playing right into the hands of communist China '-- which has sworn to destroy the United States of America through ''unrestricted warfare'' '-- and are themselves engaged in acts of criminal treason against the United States.
How many CCP loyalists work in Big Tech?So far, only 8,192 names have been publicly released of the nearly 2 million CCP loyalists whose names are on the full list. We have not yet seen how many CCP loyalists are working with the tech giants such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. However, we already know that Facebook deliberately hired communist Chinese software experts to design its ''hate speech engineering'' algorithm that censors U.S. citizens who defend the Constitution or President Trump.
In other words, Big Tech deliberately recruits communist Chinese to build more advanced censorship algorithms to censor Americans, and then Big Tech deploys these algorithms to bury all evidence of election theft that was also carried out via China-owned Dominion Voting Systems. What we are describing here is a massive, international criminal conspiracy to overthrow the United States of America.
This is why all the CEOs of Big Tech must face arrest, prosecution and public executions if found guilty of treason.
From the UK Daily Mail:
Writing in The Mail on Sunday today, former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith says: 'This investigation proves that members of the Chinese Communist Party are now spread around the globe, with members working for some of the world's most important multinational corporations, academic institutions and our own diplomatic services.
Communist China, in other words, has infiltrated Western nations, corporations and governments. The hour is already late. Communist China also owns Dominion Voting Systems and used the rigged systems to recently try to steal the U.S. election and install their puppet candidate (Joe Biden) as the U.S. President.
The entire Biden crime family is deeply compromised by communist China, and CCP loyalists have also successfully infiltrated Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce.
Now the software ''glitch'' about the Boeing 737-Max makes more sense, doesn't it?
Don't forget, either, that Joe Biden held priority meetings with the very same vaccine makers who have been infiltrated by the CCP. What do you suppose they discussed?
US Army General Perna announces ''Vaccine D-Day,'' using CCP-influenced vaccines to declare, ''the beginning of the end'' for AmericaSuddenly Operation Warp Speed makes even more sense. US Army Gen. Perna and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper chose China-connected vaccine companies to supply millions of vaccine doses that would be administered to harm U.S. military personnel. As we have previously covered in daily Situation Update podcasts, one of the groups being targeted for these priority vaccines is cyber warfare soldiers.
Gen. Perna has publicly declared that vaccines will be rolled out across the military as a ''Vaccine D-Day,'' further claiming the vaccines will be ''the beginning of the end'' for America. This makes perfect sense when you consider how these black hat operators in the DoD are already aligned with China and have been exploited to distribute a dangerous, even deadly vaccines manufactured by corporations with ties to communist China. (The DoD is split. There are anti-America, pro-China ''black hat'' forces inside the DoD, but also pro-America, pro-Trump ''white hat'' forces. A civil war is under way in the Pentagon'...)
See the full announcement here:
China has long had a goal of the complete destruction of the United States of America, and the CCP can't accomplish that goal unless they can first cause widespread casualties and deaths among military personnel, after which a land invasion via Canada will be much easier to accomplish.
As bombshell documents released in the last two days have stunningly revealed, Canada's treasonous prime minister Justin Trudeau allowed Canada's military to help train communist Chinese soldiers in winter warfare tactics, all in preparation for a land invasion of the United States. This places Trudeau in the ''enemy combatant'' category, and as I will be covering in tomorrow's Situation Update, President Trump is preparing to drop huge economic and trade sanctions on Canada in response to Canada's betrayal.
See this important interview with JR Nyquist to understand China's grand plan to destroy the United States, invade North America and conquer the continent through the mass extermination of all who oppose them:
Thus, China's infiltration of the vaccine manufacturers was necessary to cause mass casualties across US troops, while Canada's prime minister would allow China to use Canada as an invasion staging area to threaten the United States from the North. With Big Tech and Big Media also completely controlled by communist China, no American would be allowed to speak about the invasion taking place, and those who posted videos or photos of the wartime invasions would, of course, be blacklisted and deplatformed.
China's ''total war'' on America is now fully revealedThe truth is now obvious: China planned a multi-faceted assault on America using rigged voting machines, toxic vaccines, land invasion plans and corporate infiltration, all while controlling tech and media in order to completely overthrow the United States of America and claim North America for the CCP.
As I have stated in today's Situation Update, we are now living in an active war zone, while China-controlled Democrat governors have taken millions of Americans prisoner, turning them into POWs in their own homes, via weaponized covid-19 lockdowns that make no scientific or medical sense whatsoever.
These are acts of war against the American people, and the Democrats are almost universally corrupted and compromised by communist China.
This is why I repeat my call to arrest, prosecute and execute all treasonous Americans who are proven to be working for communist China to undermine the United States of America.
President Trump appears to be on the verge of invoking the Insurrection Act and deploying Special Operations Forces (SOF) to carry out mass arrests of treasonous operatives across America. Military tribunals are probably not far behind, and here's what Gen. Michael Flynn said just today (via Maria Bartiromo / Fox Business):
Sidney Powell right now has four lawsuits pending at the Supreme Court'... we have conclusive evidence of foreign interference in our election'... , I think that the President of the United States has to trigger his executive order of 2018, and probably appoint a special counsel to look into all this'... because we have serious, serious foreign influence problems with this Dominion voting machine.
And Sidney Powell added to the intrigue in a recent interview with Lou Dobbs, saying:
We know that 400 million dollars of money came into Smartmatic from China only a few weeks before the election, that there are George Soros connections to the entire endeavor'... Frankly, our national security agency and defense intelligence agency need to be all over this immediately. The evidence is overwhelming and extremely troubling that this has been going on and didn't just start this year.
Listen to my Dec. 13th Situation Update for the latest bombshell news, and check the Health Ranger Report channel on Brighteon.com mid-day each day for a new update:
Report: Disney Chairman Bob Iger Interested in Becoming Biden's Ambassador to China
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 15:42
Bob Iger, chairman of the Walt Disney Co., has expressed interest in becoming ambassador to China under Joe Biden, reportedly making overtures to people in the president-elect's team about the plum diplomatic post.
But the possible appointment is already drawing criticism as a weak choice given Disney's history of appeasement to China's Communist dictatorship.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Bob Iger has reached out to Biden's transition team to communicate his interest in the ambassadorship, according to anonymous sources ''familiar with the matter.'' The newspaper noted that Biden gave $500,000 to the Biden Victory Fund as well as a combined $85,100 towards efforts to elect Democrats in Congress.
Former Dreamworks and Quibi boss Jeffrey Katzenberg also put in a good word for Iger, telling the Biden transition team that he would make a good ambassador to China, according to the Journal.
Presidents have traditionally rewarded big-ticket donors with ambassadorships. On top of that, Iger's long-running business relationship with Chinese president Xi Jinping could serve as a potential bonus to seal the deal.
But Bob Iger also presents major drawbacks in light of Disney's past failure to stand up to China's Communist rulers.
Iger came under fire last year for refusing to condemn China's crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. Under his leadership, Disney forbade ESPN journalists from addressing any discussion of the relationship between China and Hong Kong. The decision came after the controversy involving Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who tweeted support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.
Disney has invested heavily in China, with theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The studio also relies on the Chinese box office to help its blockbuster movies turn a profit. As a result, Iger has developed close ties to China's Communist Party leaders.
The Journal noted that Iger first met Xi during a trip to China during which Disney apologized for releasing the 1997 Martin Scorsese movie Kundun, a biopic of the Dalai Lama. The movie angered Chinese leaders for its negative depiction of Chairman Mao Tse-tung and for scenes showing Chinese troops slaughtering Tibetans.
Iger's tenure as Disney chairman is set to expire next year. The Hollywood executive was rumored to be mulling a presidential run during the last election cycle but he ultimately opted to stay out of the race.
Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at dng@breitbart.com
FedNow FreedomPass
What is Really New in Fintech '' IMF Blog
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 04:23
By Arnoud Boot, Peter Hoffmann, Luc Laeven, Lev Ratnovski
The financial industry is undergoing rapid technological change. Traditional banks face competition from online start-ups with no physical branches. Social media and other digital platforms are expanding into payments and credit. The increase in demand for digital services triggered by COVID-19 is turbo-charging this transformation. The confluence we are witnessing is driving fintech innovation and raises important questions. What are the transformative aspects of recent financial innovation that can uproot finance as we know it? Which new policy challenges will the transformation of finance bring?
Fintech's potential to reach out to over a billion unbanked people around the world, and the changes in the financial system structure that this can induce, can be revolutionary.
Recent IMF and ECB staff research distinguishes two areas of financial innovation. One is information: new tools to collect and analyse data on customers, for example for determining creditworthiness. Another is communication: new approaches to customer relationships and the distribution of financial products. We argue that each dimension contains some transformative components.
New types of information
The most transformative information innovation is the increase in use of new types of data coming from the digital footprint of customers' various online activities'--mainly for credit-worthiness analysis.
Credit scoring using so-called hard information (income, employment time, assets and debts) is nothing new. Typically, the more data is available, the more accurate is the assessment. But this method has two problems. First, hard information tends to be ''procyclical'': it boosts credit expansion in good times but exacerbates contraction during downturns.
The second and most complex problem is that certain kinds of people, like new entrepreneurs, innovators and many informal workers might not have enough hard data available. Even a well-paid expatriate moving to the United States can be caught in the conundrum of not getting a credit card for lack of credit record, and not having a credit record for lack of credit cards.
Fintech resolves the dilemma by tapping various nonfinancial data: the type of browser and hardware used to access the internet, the history of online searches and purchases. Recent research documents that, once powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, these alternative data sources are often superior than traditional credit assessment methods, and can advance financial inclusion, by, for example, enabling more credit to informal workers and households and firms in rural areas.
New communication channels
Communication innovation is driven by the variety of digital platforms in social media, mobile communication, and online shopping that have penetrated much of consumers' everyday lives, thus increasing their digital footprint and the available data. Platforms like Amazon, Facebook or Alibaba incorporate more and more financial services into their ecosystems, enabling the rise of new specialized providers that compete with banks in payments, asset management, and financial information provision.
Technology again boosts an existing trend. The shift from in-person bank branch visits to remote, online communication generally improves customer convenience and makes financial intermediation more cost-efficient. It also boosts geographic competition among banks, which can now service more distant customers.
The effects of digital transformation are powerful for the financial sector, already the industry most heavily reliant on computers. That is compounded by the doubling in use of online banking having in the past two decades in the European Union's 15 largest economies. And with usage at 50 percent on average, it still has significant room to grow.
Policy challenges
That growth potential ensures that digital innovation in information and communication is bound to deepen even further and give rise to new priorities in several policy areas. Prudential regulation faces perhaps the most substantial challenges. Regulators need to assess the operational risks of new lending technologies and business models facing their first real-life stress test during the COVID-19 downturn.
Other risks also loom large: more cybersecurity risks (financial institutions and customers using more online services creates potential new opportunities for criminals), and regulatory arbitrage (tailoring business models to reduce regulatory oversight). To address all these challenges, regulatory agencies need to ensure that their expertise matches that of the industry'--something historically difficult that may become even harder as more talent enters the financial technology sphere and the pace of innovation accelerates.
The environment for monetary policy will change too. The procyclical bias of hard information (exacerbating up- and downswings) might require central bankers to be more ''countercyclical,'' (i.e., potentially overcompensate with stimulating or cooling measures stronger than actual economic developments would warrant). New monetary policy transmission channels will need to be fully understood. And, as new players make banks less relevant for the financial system, central banks may need to adjust their monetary policy implementation toolbox, potentially allowing nonbanks access to liquidity lines and incorporating them in their operations.
Other critical areas include competition policy, to address the monopolistic tendencies of large digital platforms, related to network effects and the natural tendency to converge to a few large platforms; and data policies to ensure consumer privacy and efficient and safe collection, processing, and exchange of data.
Overall, while much of the technological progress in finance is evolutionary, its pace is accelerating fast. Fintech's potential to reach out to over a billion unbanked people around the world, and the changes in the financial system structure that this can induce, can be revolutionary.
Governments should follow and carefully support the technological transition in finance. It is important to adjust policies accordingly and stay ahead of the curve.
Arnoud Boot is professor of finance at the University of Amsterdam, Peter Hoffmann and Luc Laeven are economists with the European Central Bank, and Lev Ratnovski is an economist with the IMF (currently on leave) seconded to the European Central Bank. The blog is based on an IMF Working Paper, ''Financial Intermediation and Technology: What's Old, What's New?'' published in August 2020.
IMF researchers propose to have AI use ONLINE history to determine credit rating, in name of 'inclusion' '-- RT World News
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 15:12
Traditional data used for credit scoring could be replaced by AI-powered processes based on online search and purchase histories to better reach a billion-plus ''unbanked people'' globally, a group of IMF researchers has proposed.
Using non-financial data such as ''the type of browser and hardware used to access the internet," or "the history of online searches and purchases,'' which is then fed into technology powered by AI and machine learning, could ''advance financial inclusion, by, for example, enabling more credit to informal workers and households and firms in rural areas,'' write Arnoud Boot, Peter Hoffmann, Luc Laeven and Lev Ratnovski in a post on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) blog.
The authors argue these ''alternative data sources are often superior than traditional credit assessment methods,'' which tend to boost credit expansion during booms and shrink it during busts. Moreover, they say, traditional credit data is not available for ''certain kinds of people, like new entrepreneurs, innovators and many informal workers,'' and even well-off immigrants to the US.
Their AI-powered credit score based on web searches is just one of the proposals in the paper, which argues the Covid-19 pandemic is ''turbo-charging'' the technological transformation of the financial industry and looks at how the IMF can ''get ahead'' of the problems that might create.
Boot is a professor of finance at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Hoffman and Laeven are economists with the European Central Bank, where Ratnovski has been seconded from his job as an IMF economist. In other words, these are very serious finance people and their proposal isn't meant in jest. They just don't seem to be familiar with the ''when I die, delete my internet history'' meme.
a fantastic example of people who have an idea that is perhaps well intentioned but incredibly foolish and relies vaguely on the black box of Machine Learning to implement. can basically watch the car crash happen in slow motion before it starts. https://t.co/idr9AbffIp
'-- Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) December 18, 2020Highlighted by Gizmodo on Friday, the proposal was met with alarm and derision by the US commentariat. New York Times opinion writer Charlie Warzel called it a ''a fantastic example of people who have an idea that is perhaps well intentioned but incredibly foolish'' and compared it to a slow-motion car wreck
Other responses compared the IMF proposal to a pitch for an episode of the dystopian series 'Black Mirror', and joked that perhaps people should start running searches such as ''Why am I so great with money?'' and ''I <3 the IMF.'' Then there were those who worried that letting AI make lending decisions would be '' what else? '' racist.
OMG no. It's not the black box that's the (only) problem, it's that it will just enable more pernicious forms of discrimination. BIPOC face more than enough financial discrimination as it is.
'-- Zo McLaren, PhD (@ZoeMcLaren) December 18, 2020The IMF proposal was also panned as yet another attempt to expand control by globalist institutions, along the lines of the World Economic Forum-proposed 'Great Reset' using the pandemic as a pretext.
Need more proof the overlords want to control us by all means necessary?Read the article, they even try to make it sound it's a noble endeavor: https://t.co/m0Qg9HdjSU
'-- Noor Bin Ladin (@NoorBinLadin) December 18, 2020Last month, a Deutsche Bank monthly featured a proposal by another researcher to tax people working from home in order to subsidize those who can't, as well as the infrastructure sitting unused during the pandemic. In the same publication, the same researcher also authored a proposal to reimagine Western cities by abolishing zoning regulations.
Also on rt.com Working from home? You need to be TAXED for the privilege, Deutsche Bank proposes Like this story? Share it with a friend!
Should We Use Search History for Credit Scores? IMF Says Yes
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 15:13
Photo: Philippe Huguen (Getty Images)With more services than ever collecting your data, it's easy to start asking why anyone should care about most of it. This is why. Because people start having ideas like this.
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In a new blog post for the International Monetary Fund, four researchers presented their findings from a working paper that examines the current relationship between finance and tech as well as its potential future. Gazing into their crystal ball, the researchers see the possibility of using the data from your browsing, search, and purchase history to create a more accurate mechanism for determining the credit rating of an individual or business. They believe that this approach could result in greater lending to borrowers who would potentially be denied by traditional financial institutions.
At its heart, the paper is trying to wrestle with the dawning notion that the institutional banking system is facing a serious threat from tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple. The researchers identify two key areas in which this is true: Tech companies have greater access to soft-information, and messaging platforms can take the place of the physical locations that banks rely on for meeting with customers.
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The concept of using your web history to inform credit ratings is framed around the notion that lenders rely on hard-data that might obscure the worthiness of a borrower or paint an unnecessarily dire picture during hard times. Citing soft-data points like ''the type of browser and hardware used to access the internet, the history of online searches and purchases'' that could be incorporated into evaluating a borrower, the researchers believe that when a lender has a more intimate relationship with the potential client's history, they might be more willing to cut them some slack.
''Banks tend to cushion credit terms for their long-term customers during downturns,'' the paper's authors write. This is because they have a history and relationship with the customer. Now, imagine the kind of intimate history that Facebook could have with a borrower and suddenly its digital cash initiative starts to make more sense.
But how would all this data be incorporated into credit ratings? Machine learning, of course. It's black boxes all the way down.
The researchers acknowledge that there will be privacy and policy concerns related to incorporating this kind of soft-data into credit analysis. And they do little to explain how this might work in practice. The paper isn't long, and it's worth a read just to wrap your mind around some of the notions of fintech's future and why everyone seems to want in on the payments game.
As it is, getting the really fine soft-data points would probably require companies like Facebook and Apple to loosen up their standards on linking unencrypted information with individual accounts. How they might share information would other institutions would be its own can of worms. And while the researchers sound bullish on the advantages that tech companies have over banks, they cite business-to-business lending as a game that traditional institutions continue to dominate. ''This may change, however, due to the rise of cloud computing, which may enable large technology firms to create B2B ecosystems that include large corporate customers,'' they write.
Yes, the idea of every move you make online feeding into your credit score is creepy. It may not even be possible in the near future. The IMF researchers stress that ''governments should follow and carefully support the technological transition in finance. It is important to adjust policies accordingly and stay ahead of the curve.'' When's the last time a government did any of that?
Republicans, Democrats reach compromise over Covid-19 stimulus package
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 11:57
Published Sun, Dec 20 2020 1:25 AM EST
Updated Sun, Dec 20 2020 1:31 AM EST
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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 16, 2020.
Erin Scott | Reuters
Senior lawmakers reached a compromise over the Federal Reserve's emergency lending powers late Saturday night, overcoming a major hurdle that prevented Congress from completing a $900 billion coronavirus relief package earlier in the week, according to multiple sources.
A last-minute roadblock emerged on Friday as Democrats accused Republicans, namely Pennsylvania's Sen. Pat Toomey, of attempting to encumber the incoming Biden administration by cutting off the Federal Reserve's emergency lending abilities created by the CARES Act meant to protect the already battered economy.
"Now that Democrats have agreed to a version of Sen. Toomey's important language, we can begin closing out the rest of the package to deliver much-needed relief to families, workers, and businesses," a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told NBC News.
Compromise language is being finalized and any open items are expected to be worked out overnight, according to two aides.
A spokesperson for Toomey called the agreement an "unqualified victory for taxpayers."
"Senate Republicans achieved all four of our objectives regarding the CARES Act Federal Reserve lending programs," Toomey spokesperson Steve Kelly said.
"This agreement rescinds more than $429 billion in unused CARES Act funds; definitively ends the CARES Act lending facilities by Dec. 31, 2020, stops these facilities from being restarted, and forbids them from being duplicated without congressional approval. This agreement will preserve Fed independence and prevent Democrats from hijacking these programs for political and social policy purposes," Kelly added.
Congressional leaders settled on a framework midweek that was expected to include a $300 federal unemployment bonus, a new round of direct payments, small business funding and money to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.
The House had already advised votes as early as 1 p.m. Sunday.
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Vaccines and such
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announces $250 million COVID vaccine commitment - ABC News
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:00
"This will be seared in the memory of this generation," Gates told ABC News.
December 10, 2020, 11:50 PM
' 8 min read
Bill Gates has warned about the need to prepare for a pandemic for years. Since the novel coronavirus swept across the country in March, the billionaire has put his money where his mouth is.
''This will be seared in the memory of this generation, hopefully enough, to invest, to be more ready next time. Hopefully to invest more in all these infectious diseases that are still a huge problem,'' Gates told ABC News.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's headquarters campus is pictured in this aerial photograph in Seattle, Aug. 21, 2012.
Watch ''The Shot: Race for the Vaccine,'' a one-hour special edition of ''20/20,'' airing Monday, Dec. 14, on ABC at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new $250 million commitment on Thursday, adding to the foundation's total investment to $1.75 billion into combating COVID-19 through vaccine development and distribution.
''The plan is coming together to get this vaccine out. So, you know, it's a tragedy, but there's a lot of heroes in the process of getting it to end,'' said Gates.
Gates, who had invested in the vaccine technology in 2015, emphasized the importance of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines ending this pandemic and potentially ones to come in the future.
A researcher works on a COVID-19 vaccine in a lab run by Moderna Inc, in an undated photograph.
''Well, your immune system is kind of magic. If it sees a foreign shape once, then it says, 'Wow, if I ever see that again, I am going to react very quickly,' and so that it doesn't cause a problem,'' said Gates.
''With mRNA, we actually give instructions to your cells to make them build part of the virus,'' said Gates, who said that the immune system kicks in to help inoculate against the virus.
The U.K. was the first country to authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and began distributing it to first-wave participants on Dec. 8.
The U.S. is likely not far behind on authorizing emergency use and beginning to distribute a that COVID-19 vaccine. On Dec. 10, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel held a hearing on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Alex Azar, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services secretary, offered ABC News an optimistic look the vaccine authorization process.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference at the White House, Nov. 20, 2020.
"If things are on track, the advisory committee goes well, I believe we could see FDA authorization within days," Azar told ABC News on Dec. 6.
Gates said that citizens in other countries may not be as lucky and could potentially be left behind amid the rush to manufacture, obtain and distribute the vaccines.
''Well, there are many countries that have no vaccine factories at all, and it doesn't make any sense that their citizens wouldn't get any protection,'' said Gates. ''We want to end the disease everywhere, so we're not constantly having these re-infections. And if anyone cares about equity, they should not want the vaccines only to go to the rich people or the rich countries.''
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Dec. 9 that stated the U.S. would only share its vaccine doses after "all Americans who choose to be vaccinated" are able to.
People wear protective face masks as they walk in Times Square in New York on Dec. 10, 2020.
Gates said that he was hopeful other billionaires will step up to help fill the global gaps in vaccine distribution.
''I always think we could do more, we should give more, give smarter,'' he told ABC News. ''I hope in the future people are even more generous.''
Although vaccine authorization and distribution is imminent, the U.S. saw its deadliest week since the beginning of the pandemic this week, with 15,578 deaths -- roughly the equivalent to 92 deaths every hour, ABC News reported.
In less than a week alone, the U.S. has reported 1.4 million new cases.
Gates said he hopes what the U.S. has done and learned during the coronavirus pandemic will help mitigate the next global disease outbreak.
''Well, you know, just the way people have come together on this. Science, caring about other people,'' he said. ''I'm very hopeful the way we get out of this disaster sets a model for innovation and cooperation.''
ABC News' Adam Kelsey and Adia Robinson contributed to this report.
Belgian secretary of state accidentally reveals EU vaccine prices '' POLITICO
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 14:27
The EU's vaccine prices were '-- for a short time and by accident '-- finally made public.
Belgium's Budget State Secretary Eva De Bleeker on Thursday tweeted a table with the price of each vaccine purchased by the EU and how much Belgium will spend in total on the vaccines, according to Belgian news site HLN. The tweet has since been deleted, but the outlet published a screenshot.
The European Commission has said it cannot disclose the prices paid for each coronavirus vaccine, citing commercial confidentiality agreements.
Civil society groups, MEPs and health advocates have been calling for months for the Commission to reveal how much the EU is paying, arguing that deals involving taxpayer funds should have greater transparency.
The Commission signed deals with six producers and completed exploratory talks with a seventh on Thursday. Countries will place their orders individually for each vaccine.
According to the screenshot published by HLN, the EU is spending between '‚¬1.78 and $18 per coronavirus vaccine. The price per dose listed for each of the six vaccines was as follows:
Oxford/AstraZeneca: '‚¬1.78Johnson & Johnson, $8.50 Sanofi/GSK: '‚¬7.56BioNTech/Pfizer: '‚¬12 CureVac: '‚¬10 Moderna: $18 Belgium will purchase more than 33 million vaccines for a total of '‚¬279 million.
De Bleeker said that publication of the price breakdown was ''a mistake on the part of the communications team,'' according to HLN.
In reaction to questions by opposition MPs about the potential consequences of the violation of confidentiality, De Bleeker said the blunder would not ''endanger anything'' concerning Belgium's access to vaccines.
According to HLN, the European Commission said: ''We will not comment on what happened in Belgium, but the prices of the vaccines are confidential.''
CORRECTION: This story has been amended to correct the spelling of Eva De Bleeker.
This article is part of POLITICO's premium policy service: Pro HealthCare. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.
The wealthy scramble to get the COVID-19 vaccine - Los Angeles Times
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 17:10
They're offering tens of thousands of dollars in cash, making their personal assistants pester doctors every day, and asking whether a five-figure donation to a hospital would help them jump the line.
The COVID-19 vaccine is here '-- and so are the wealthy people who want it first.
''We get hundreds of calls every single day,'' said Dr. Ehsan Ali, who runs Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor. His clients, who include Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, pay between $2,000 and $10,000 a year for personalized care. ''This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients.''
With the first doses in short supply, California has laid out a strict order of vaccinations based on need and risk: Healthcare workers and nursing home residents, then essential workers and those with chronic health conditions, then, finally, everyone else.
But to those with power, money and influence, rules can always be bent. California's stern messaging about serving the neediest first hasn't stopped the rich from trying to leap ahead of teachers, farmworkers and firefighters.
Dr. Jeff Toll, who has admitting privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the first hospitals to stock the vaccine, recalled a patient asking: ''If I donate $25,000 to Cedars, would that help me get in line?''' Toll said no.
Watchdogs have been warning that the COVID-19 vaccine's initial scarcity could create a thriving black market, particularly if well-connected people in the healthcare industry skim off a few doses here and there for friends, family or the highest bidder.
But getting earlier access to the shot may not even require much backroom deal-making. Some wealthy patients may get the shots sooner than the average person because they're members of exclusive healthcare groups that offer the kind of high-quality, primary care most Americans can't afford.
Those patients are already on waiting lists with concierge doctors who charge as much as $25,000 a year for 24-hour access to top-notch care, which includes working to get their clients vaccinated as soon as it's available.
Concierge practices are fielding frantic, repeated phone calls from well-heeled clients and their assistants. They're busy assembling lengthy patient files with medical histories and potential COVID-19 risks.
And they're snapping up expensive, ultra-low temperature freezers, which are in short supply, to store the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which must be kept at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Doctors in boutique practices say they'll adhere to public health guidelines in determining who gets priority. But being on a waiting list at a practice that has special freezers and other high-quality resources means you're already near the front of the line once the supply opens up.
Some boutique practices have already applied to California health officials for approval to store and administer the vaccine at a time when the typical primary care doctor has little idea when and how their patients will get access to the shots.
''As soon as we heard about the vaccine coming to market, we started looking for freezers,'' said Andrew Olanow, co-founder of Sollis Health, a concierge practice with clinics in New York, the Hamptons and Beverly Hills.
Six weeks ago, Sollis Health placed an order for six ultra-low temperature freezers at about $5,000 each. They're due to arrive next month.
After Sollis reserved their freezers, he said, several ''larger governmental orders'' sucked up much of the remaining supply, meaning wait times will be longer for clinics just ordering now.
Representatives for Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccine is expected to be authorized this week, said doctors and private citizens cannot buy doses from them yet. The U.S. government is controlling the allocation of doses to all 50 states.
Until the vaccine is available to nongovernmental buyers, concierge doctors are in the unusual position of telling their demanding patients that, for now, they will just have to wait.
That hasn't stopped patients from trying.
''People are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars,'' said Toll, the doctor with admitting privileges at Cedars-Sinai. His private concierge practice in Los Angeles starts at $5,000 a year and can go as high as $25,000.
Doctors fielding these kinds of requests, he said, have to be comfortable telling rich, powerful people ''no,'' similar to when they ask for inappropriate medications. Toll tells his patients that those designated as most at-risk by public health officials should get it first.
''We're governed by the Hippocratic oath, the responsibility to provide care for the people who need it most,'' said Dr. Abe Malkin, the founder of Concierge MD LA, a house-call medical service that charges up to $750 per month. ''But at the same time, there's obviously going to be gray areas based on individual patients' needs.''
Guidelines that prioritize people who work in essential industries, have underlying health conditions, or are older than 65 are massive gray areas. In California alone, nearly 12 million people '-- two-thirds of the state workforce '-- work in essential industries.
That ambiguity creates opportunities for the well-connected to argue that an underlying health condition or a C-suite level position at an essential company should push them toward the front of the line, said Glenn Ellis, a bioethicist and a visiting scholar at Tuskegee University.
''With enough money and influence, you can make a convincing argument about anything,'' Ellis said. But unlike lobbying for a better table at a restaurant or a better seat at a Broadway show, he said, taking a vaccine dose that was meant for an essential worker could cost someone their health or their life.
The pattern is familiar in a state where Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley executives are accustomed to getting their way. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who made his own blunder by dining without a mask at The French Laundry in Napa Valley, has warned that California will be ''very aggressive in making sure that those with means, those with influence, are not crowding out those that are most deserving of the vaccines.''
''Those that think they can get ahead of the line and those that think because they have resources or they have relationships that will allow them to do it ... we also will be monitoring that very, very closely,'' Newsom said.
Alison Bateman-House, an assistant professor of medical ethics at NYU, said not everyone plying their connections for a shot is doing it out of purely selfish motivation. Some people ''are not a top priority for vaccination, but have what they consider to be a pressing need,'' she said, including the families of immuno-compromised relatives who may otherwise wait months to be immunized.
''Every system has a weak link somewhere, and I'm sure someone is going to find it and someone's going to exploit it,'' Bateman-House said. ''The question is: Where's that weak link going to be, and how quickly will it be identified and stopped?''
Taryn Vian, a health sector anti-corruption expert who teaches at the University of San Francisco, said powerful people could gain early access to the vaccine not by using bribery or coercion, but through more subtle means, like making requests to similarly powerful friends.
A friend of the leader of a pharmaceutical company, medical distributor, hospital or nursing home could ask if there are any extra doses available, and the leader could ask their assistant to see if they could help. The assistant might then interpret the request as a demand to misappropriate a dose, Vian explained.
''V.I.P. treatment is very common'' in the healthcare industry, Vian said.
That's already happening in California, doctors say, particularly in the entertainment world. Celebrities and executives aren't badgering their doctors themselves but are instructing their assistants to find out how they can get better treatment.
''Their people are calling me literally every day,'' said one doctor who requested anonymity to speak frankly about their clients, many of whom work in Hollywood. ''They don't want to wait. They want to know how they can get it more quickly.''
CDC confirms COVID-19 vaccine allergic reactions, issues new guidance
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 03:35
LOS ANGELES - The CDC said Saturday that it learned of severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, and now recommends if a person has ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine," then they "should not get that specific vaccine."
This does not mean that everyone with bad allergies is barred from getting it.
"CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications'--such as allergies to food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex'--may still get vaccinated," the CDC writes on its website.
"People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions, or who might have a milder [sic] allergy to vaccines (no anaphylaxis)'--may also still get vaccinated."
RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information
If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines, then the CDC recommends consulting your doctor about whether or not you should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Despite the new warning, adverse reactions to the vaccine have been exceedingly rare, as there have been just six allergic reactions recorded out of 272,000 shots given.
All six of the allergic reactions occurred within the recommended observation window, which is 30 minutes for people with a history of severe allergic reactions, and 15 minutes for everyone else.
Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska, reported this week that two employees had allergic reactions roughly 10 minutes after getting the shot.
Health care workers knew to be on the lookout for allergic reactions after the United Kingdom reported two similar cases with the Pfizer vaccine last week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Vaccine Whistleblower Brandy Vaughan Found Dead Inside Her Own Home as Police Open Investigation
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 04:18
by GreatGameIndia.com
Vaccine whistleblower Brandy Vaughan, a former sales executive for the pharmaceutical company Merck and the founder of learntherisk.org, a website dedicated to educating people on the risks associated with vaccines, was found dead in her home beside her nine-year-old son on December 8.
On Monday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office announced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
Vaughan was a vocal activist against the hazards of vaccines who founded California nonprofit Learn the Risk. On her Facebook page, she described herself as a
''former pharmaceutical insider on a mission to create a healthier world one person at a time by educating on the real risks of pharma drugs and vaccines.''
When working in the pharma industry, Brandy sold Vioxx, a painkiller that was found to double the risk of stroke and heart attacks, according to her Learn the Risk bio.
The painkiller was eventually later taken off the market.
''From that experience, I realized that just because something is on the market doesn't mean it's safe,'' Brandy said.
''Much of what we are told by the healthcare industry just simply isn't the truth.''
She then spent eight years living in Europe where she saw how healthcare is done very differently from the US.
''Upon returning to the States with a vaccine-free son, she was bullied at a pediatrician's office when she asked questions that every parent should ask like, What are the ingredients in these vaccines?'' her bio reads.
''How come children in other countries are healthier, but receive far fewer vaccines?''
Vaughan is reported to have died of ''gallbladder complications,'' although the source of the report has not been cited, nor has it shared the specific cause of the complications (such as a gallbladder rupture).
Soon after learning of her death, a friend of Vaughn's, Erin Elizabeth, shared screenshots of a Facebook post Vaughan had written in December of 2019, in which she assured readers that she was not suicidal and did not take any drugs that would cause her to die suddenly.
''The post I wish I didn't have to write'.... But given certain tragedies over the last couple of years, I feel it's absolutely necessary to post these ten facts'... please screenshot this for the record,'' wrote Vaughan.
''I have a huge mission in this life. Even when they make it very difficult and scary, I would NEVER take my own life. Period,'' she continued.
Referring to her son, Vaughan wrote, ''Bastien means everything to me and I would NEVER leave him. Period. She added that she hadn't taken pharmaceuticals for ten years. ''In other words, I'm not on anything that could kill me unexpectedly or suddenly,'' she wrote.
''If something were to happen to me, it's foul play and you know exactly who and why '-- given my work and mission in this life,'' she continued.
Elizabeth also shared a screenshot of a text she received from Vaughan in which she expressed worry about being poisoned and apparently referenced the death of Dr. Ben Johnson, M.D., D.O., NMD in January of 2019.
''So odd! I worry sometimes about poisoning. Was Dr. Ben ever married? Lived alone? Sorry for all the questions. I'm just so upset about this, especially since he wasn't even taking on the vaccine issue but mammograms, which one would think was a 'safer' issue.''
Vaughan, who used to work as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Merck, explained how she got started as an activist exposing the dangers of vaccines and pharmaceutical industry in a video shared in 2015. She begins by revealing that she used to represent Merck's drug Vioxx.
''When it came out that Merck had falsified safety data and Vioxx actually had twice the increase in heart attacks and strokes [for] people taking it, it really made me realize that there was a lot of corruption behind the scenes and that just because a drug is on the market doesn't mean it's safe,'' Vaughan said in the video.
Part of what she discovered is that aluminum is a major adjuvant in vaccines, which was another big ''red flag'' for her. When her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, the doctor found high levels of aluminum in her tissues. He told her that the aluminum found in traditional deodorant was linked to breast cancer.
Vaughan went on to found Learn The Risk, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, ''in response to one of the nation's first mandatory vaccination for education laws '-- SB277 in California,'' according to her website. SB277, which was signed into law in 2015, ''barred parents from citing their personal beliefs as a reason for not vaccinating their children'' for school.
It was when Vaughan returned from a rally protesting SB277 in Sacramento that she first began to experience acts of intimidation, she explained in a video shared in 2015.
She described how she came home from Sacramento to find a key to her house, which she had previously hidden in her bushes, out on her doorstep. ''That day I had my locks changed and I installed a $3,000 alarm system two days later,'' said Vaughan.
She was later informed by her alarm company that someone had set off her alarm at 3:45 in the morning and immediately disarmed it with the master code, which Vaughan said no one had but her. Whoever entered proceeded to walk down her hallway, setting off the monitor sensor, and opened and shut her dining room window before leaving the house at 3:49 a.m.
Vaughan described how only days later, she found her computer moved from its hiding place above her microwave to the middle of her kitchen floor. After leaving town for a couple of weeks, she returned with a friend to find her ladder, which she had kept in her garage, just outside a bedroom window of her house '-- the only window with the blinds kept open. A neighbor informed her that she hadn't seen the ladder there the day before.
Only days after that, she found a duck figurine on one of her outdoor tables.
''When I talked to the security experts, I said, I don't understand the duck. And then it came to me that I had been on my phone having a lot of conversations [with] people asking me, are you staying at your house? What are you going to do? And I use the term repeatedly: I'm not staying at my house. I feel like a sitting duck, because they can get in at any time.''
''So that was actually quite disturbing to come home to. It's just a clear message that, again, they are watching me.''
''It's quite scary. After all these intimidation tactics it's very hard to feel safe and secure, but I am not gonna go away '-- I mean I'm not gonna be silenced, because these are important issues, and we need to expose what's really going on behind the mandatory vaccination bills.''
''I hope that we can continue this fight. We may have lost the battle but we still have a war to win,'' Vaughan concluded.
In her 2019 Facebook post, Vaughan wrote, ''If something were to happen to me, I have arranged for a close group of my friends to start a GoFundMe to hire a team of private investigators to figure out all the details.''
''There have been many on this mission or a similar one that have been killed and it's time this b'--'--- stopped. The darkness cannot win.''
A GoFundMe page was launched following her death to go towards ''Brandy's wishes'' including legal action, a memorial/funeral and to help fund the LearnTheRisk platform.
Read the Full Article at GreatGameIndia.com.
Mysterious Death of Vaccine Safety Advocate Brandy Vaughn, + C0VlD Censorship with Dr. Scott Jensenby Ben Swann
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Unmasking Who is Behind the Plandemic and Rioting to Usher in the New World Order
Leaving a lucrative career as a nephrologist (kidney doctor), Dr. Suzanne Humphries is now free to actually help cure people.
In this autobiography she explains why good doctors are constrained within the current corrupt medical system from practicing real, ethical medicine.
One of the sane voices when it comes to examining the science behind modern-day vaccines, no pro-vaccine extremist doctors have ever dared to debate her in public.
Book '' The Vaccine Court , by Wayne Rohde '' 240 pages''The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program''FREE Shipping Available!ORDER HERE!Published on December 18, 2020
What is the new Covid strain '' and will vaccines work against it? | Coronavirus | The Guardian
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 11:54
Show caption Variant VUI-202012/01 has caused a rapid rise in cases in London and south-east England Photograph: AP
CoronavirusSat 19 Dec 2020 12.37 EST
Viruses mutate all the time. Most of the new variants die out. Sometimes they spread without altering the virus's behaviour. Very occasionally, they trigger dramatic changes.
And the question now facing scientists is straightforward: does variant VUI-202012/01 fall into this last category? Does it represent an increased health risk? Or has its recent rapid spread through southern England occurred because it has arisen in people who are infecting a lot of other people, possibly because they are ignoring Covid-19 restrictions?
These key questions, debated last week after health secretary Matt Hancock revealed the existence of the new variant, were answered firmly yesterday, by the government's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty.
''As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the south-east,'' he announced, ''the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) now considers that the new strain can spread more quickly. We have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding.''
These analyses will involve scientists growing the new strain in laboratories, studying its antibody responses and testing its cross-reactions with Covid-19 vaccines. In addition, health officials are now carrying out random sequencing of samples from positive cases across the country in order to survey its spread through the nation and to build up regional maps of its prevalence. This will take at least two weeks.
The appearance of the new variant is alarming '' though it should be noted that there have been several previous mutations of Covid-19. Last month, the Danish government culled millions of mink after it emerged that hundreds of Covid-19 cases were associated with Sars-CoV-2 variants carried by farmed mink. And in October, analyses suggested a coronavirus variant that originated in Spanish farm workers spread rapidly through Europe and accounted for most UK cases.
Last month millions of mink were culled in Denmark after the appearance of a Sars-CoV-2 variant. Photograph: Ritzau Scanpix/Reuters In neither case was it found that these variants increased transmission of the disease. However, it is now clear that this not the case for variant VUI-202012/01. What scientists must now tackle are concerns about the impact of the new variant '' in particular whether it will lead to an increase in cases of severe Covid illness or actually result in fewer cases. The other big issue is whether the new variant will be able to bypass the protection offered by the Covid-19 vaccines now being administered across Britain.
''If the new variant was going to have a big impact on disease severity, we would have seen that by now,'' said Ewan Birney, deputy director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and joint director of its European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge.
''Hospital cases as a proportion of numbers of infections would have either rocketed or dropped dramatically. Neither has happened, so we can conclude that the impact on numbers of severe cases is likely to be modest: slightly more or slightly fewer.''
In addition, Birney said the vaccines have been tested with many variants of the virus circulating. ''So there is every reason to think that the vaccines will still work against this new strain, though obviously that needs to be tested thoroughly.''
Exactly where the variant first appeared is not known. It may simply be that Britain's extremely robust virus surveillance system spotted it before other nations did. ''However, it is just as likely that the mutations that created this variant occurred in the UK and that is why we have seen it first,'' added Birney.
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Ministry of Tuthiness
COVID-19 has had no impact on death rates in B.C. long term care homes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:42
Image Credit: Pikist
October 02, 2020 - 6:30 AM
While the dozens of COVID-19 deaths in long term care homes in B.C. have been tragic, statistics from the Ministry of Health show there's been no real increase in deaths compared to other years.
For the first half of this year, until the end of June, there were 34,734 people living in publicly funded long term care beds, according to Ministry of Health statistics.
So far this year, 4,787 have died, a mortality rate of 13.78 per cent. While that's up a bit from last year (13.48 per cent) and 2018 (13.72 per cent) it's actually down from the 14.2 per cent rate in 2017.
The numbers suggest COVID-19 may have replaced other causes of death among the 166 residents who died in care facilities from the disease '-- not added.
''The populations in long term care, most of them are in the last couple of years of their lives,'' B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie told iNFOnews.ca. She said between 21 and 25 per cent of long term care beds ''turn over'' each year. Most of those are due to people dying.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control lists 166 of B.C.'s 229 COVID-19 deaths as of Sept. 24, as being in care facilities, which includes long term care as well as acute care and independent living.
While B.C.'s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has no doubt kept those numbers at bay, some people are expecting that one side effect may soon enter the equation, if it hasn't already '-- restrictions on visitors to long term care residents.
Many family members from across B.C. have described dramatic weight loss because family members haven't been allowed in as essential visitors to help feed and care for the residents.
READ MORE: B.C. woman pushed to the breaking point dealing with husband's 'unacceptable' long-term care
Others have talked about the mental anguish suffered by residents who are largely confined to their rooms.
READ MORE: It's too late for this pandemic isolated long-term care patient but his wife fights on for others
But the reality is that we may never know the true impact of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown.
''It's going to be difficult to capture, the way you've got people moving through, if someone's dying eight weeks prematurely,'' Mackenzie said. ''There are a lot of moving parts here and we're not going to be able to form, with data, the picture completely. Or, if we are able to, it's going to be looking back on it from a further distance.''
One of those leading the charge to open care homes up to more visitors is Brenda Brophy, one of the administrators of the Families for Change '' Stories from Longterm Care Facebook group that organized a rally at the provincial Legislature that drew about 75 protesters earlier this week.
She argued that the data to June 30 does not truly reflect what's happening since the deterioration of residents' health is a long, gradual process that will more likely show up in more recent data.
Her 100-year-old mother dropped from 33 kilograms in March to a bit over 29 in the first three months of the lockdown. Brophy has now taken her home to live with her.
''By the time I saw my mom on June 8, she was like a skeleton,'' Brophy said. ''I hadn't noticed that over video chats. If I had not seen her and realized, she might have been one of those statistics just from simply starving to death.''
The protesters want Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to allow more essential visitors to help with feeding and other care along with more social visits, which are now limited to one family member per resident and can be for as little as 30 minutes once a week.
Mackenzie is conducting a survey that will try to capture an accurate picture of what is happening in care homes during the lockdown. With more than 13,000 respondents it should show any changes that death statistics alone do not reflect.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor . You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
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News from (C) iNFOnews, 2020
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:47
During the regular weekly COVID-19 update to the Grand County Board of Health/Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock made a definitive statement protesting the state of Colorado's reporting of COVID-19-related deaths in Grand County.
''It's not right,'' stated Bock, ''I believe we do need to stand up, and we do need to get these numbers corrected. And that's what I'm trying to do.''
Bock earlier pointed out a discrepancy between the Grand County COVID-19 dashboard and that of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. As of Tuesday morning, Grand County's online dashboard reported a single COVID-caused death and one other death of an individual who died with COVID-19 but not because of the infectious disease. The CDPHE COVID-19 data dashboard reported five COVID-19 deaths in Grand County.
Bock, an elected official, clarified publicly that, since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there has only been one Grand County resident to die because of COVID-19 infection. She reported an additional two individuals who have died with COVID-19 but from other causes.
Bock read a prepared letter, noting that ''The State says that Grand County has five COVID deaths. In researching the numbers, I found the state is counting two deaths that died of gunshot wounds as COVID deaths [referencing the recent murder-suicide victims from Fraser].
''When I questioned the numbers,'' the Coroner continued, ''the response I got was 'if they died in the 30 days of their positive test, they are counted as a death among a COVID case.'
''Although the decedents did test positive for COVID, that is not what they died from. The two cases were autopsied, and the cause of death was listed as 'blunt force Injuries due to a gunshot wound.' Nowhere did the pathologist say COVID was the cause of death.''I believe that this is false and very misleading,'' concluded Bock. ''If we want the public to trust and believe the information being released, we need to make sure it is accurate.
''I realize in the scope of things that Grand County's numbers are small. Although these numbers are small this 'error' creates a 40% increase in our death total. That is not an insignificant amount. How many cases like this does it take to inflate the numbers?''My job as Grand County Coroner is to make sure the information reported is correct. At this time, the Grand County dashboard does not have this listed on their site. I am working with the State to try to get these numbers removed.''
Grand County Public Health Director Brene Belew-LaDue noted that the State's reporting method is standard protocol and that all information was then reviewed by the State and the US Center for Disease Control.
''It might be the process, but it's not right,'' responded Bock, ''and I strongly stand against that. I have been talking to other Coroners throughout the state and they have been telling me that they've had motor vehicle accidents listed as COVID deaths. It's no different than my gunshot wounds being listed as COVID deaths, and it's not right.''
Covid-19 Precautions Are Thwarting the Flu - WSJ
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:08
As the coronavirus rages across the U.S., the country has so far blunted the impact of influenza and other seasonal respiratory viruses.
U.S. laboratories are finding significantly fewer flu cases among tested patients so far this year, compared with previous flu seasons, thanks to efforts to stamp out Covid-19.
''We are seeing very low levels of influenza so far,'' said Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between mask wearing, social distancing, and measures such as bar closures, ''all of those things are impacting influenza,'' he said.
Clinical laboratories tested 22,474 patient samples, mostly nasal swabs, for influenza during the week ended Dec. 5, and only 40, or 0.2%, came back positive, according to data from the CDC. During the same period last year, more than 11% of over 41,000 samples were positive.
The number of positive flu samples at U.S. public health labs is also lower than in years past, according to the CDC data. These labs are currently processing more patient samples than in previous years because of the explosion of testing for Covid-19.
A less severe flu season is a welcome development during an out-of-control pandemic, say health authorities, who earlier in the year feared that a potentially dangerous collision between the coronavirus and the seasonal flu would overrun doctors' offices and emergency rooms. Doctors and public health officials urged Americans to get flu shots, and laboratories moved to prepare to distinguish whether feverish, coughing patients have influenza or Covid-19.
In the Southern Hemisphere, Covid-19 precautions practically wiped out the flu this year, offering hope for a lighter flu season in the U.S. and Europe. It wasn't certain whether the season in the U.S. would follow suit, but influenza's spread in the country appears to be following a similar pattern.
Flu-related hospitalizations are also down. There haven't been enough lab-confirmed hospitalizations to meet the CDC's threshold for beginning to report such data, Dr. Jernigan said. The threshold is 300 hospitalizations. Normally, the U.S. would have passed that mark by now.
''There are a lot of available databanks we have access to, and right now they're all telling us the same story,'' said Jeffrey Kahn, the chief of infectious diseases at the Dallas-based Children's Health hospital system. ''There's very little activity.''
A lower number of flu-related hospitalizations is good news for hospitals, public health authorities say, many of which are stretched with Covid-19 patients.
''If you can have increased bed capacity in your hospital because fewer people are getting sick from the flu, that helps you,'' said Imelda Dacones, president and chief executive officer of Northwest Permanente medical group. A lighter flu season also means fewer doctor's office visits, so physicians can conserve resources for more severe illnesses or other medical issues, Dr. Dacones said.
Other seasonal viruses have also taken a hit this year, public health authorities say. In September through November of 2019, Children's Health saw 892 cases of RSV, a common respiratory virus that usually infects children. During that same period in 2020, the system reported a single case.
Flu cases over the same period dropped too, from 722 cases in 2019 to four in 2020.
''That is just astonishing to me,'' Dr. Kahn added. ''The top priority right now is to get this pandemic under control. By doing that, we're also having a profound effect on some of these other viruses.'' The lower rates are another sign that Covid-19 mitigation measures are helping to beat back Covid-19 as well, Dr. Kahn says.
The flu season is still in its beginning stages and case rates could change in the coming months, health experts say, especially if people start to drop precautionary measures. Health authorities are still urging people to get flu shots this year. The last time the numbers were comparatively low at this point in the year was during the 2011-12 flu season, which had an increase in cases in late January but remained mild overall, Dr. Jernigan said.
As of early November, roughly 49% of U.S. adults had been vaccinated for the flu this year, up slightly from the 44% who got flu shots over the same period a year ago, according to the CDC.
''The best thing we can hope for is that people get vaccinated, they'll continue to adhere to mitigations requested, and therefore flu will be kept down as much as it can for the rest of the season,'' Dr. Jernigan said.
'--Anthony DeBarros contributed to this article.
Write to Brianna Abbott at brianna.abbott@wsj.com
Leah Remini Slams Tom Cruise's COVID Safety Rant, Says ''It's For Public Relations Reasons Only'
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 13:15
Cruise received widespread support after getting angry at people on the set of "Mission: Impossible 7" who didn't follow COVID safety guidelines
Ross A. Lincoln | December 18, 2020 @ 9:33 PM
In an open letter published Wednesday on the website The Underground Bunker, Leah Remini differed strongly with the largely positive reaction people had to Tom Cruise's recent caught-on-tape rant about COVID safety measures. Instead, the actress argued that the outburst was an example of what she claims is Cruise's ''abusive'' personality, and argued that his behavior connects back to the Church of Scientology of which she is one of the most prominent critics.
''The Church of Scientology has done more than any other religious institution in promoting COVID-19 prevention actions''throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Long before ''stay at home'' directives, the Church took aggressive actions to prevent the spread of the virus. The Church's leader acted well ahead of the curve,'' a representative of the Church of Scientology said in a statement. ''Remini is an unreliable source who attacks Scientology for publicity and money''as she herself has admitted.''
On Tuesday, audio secretly recorded on the set of the latest ''Mission: Impossible'' film, in which Cruise screamed at the London-based film crew for breaking COVID-19 protocols. In his tirade, Cruise (who also serves a producer on the film) reminds them that what they're doing on set is a model that Hollywood is looking up to '-- and that they better not screw things up. If the leak was intended to damage Cruise's public reputation, it had the opposite effect as a ton of people in and out of Hollywood agreed with him. We are, after all, in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 Americans.
Also Read: Tom Cruise's On-Set COVID Meltdown Wins Surprise Praise: 'THIS. IS. GODDAMN. BEAUTIFUL.'
Remini however disparaged the comments as a publicity effort, which she claimed is practice associated with Scientology. Remini said also that the rant was a reflection of what she says is her personal experience with Cruise rather than something connected to the pandemic, and reiterated a familiar list of accusations of wrongdoing against Cruise and the leadership of Scientology. Cruise and the Church have consistently denied all accusations of wrongdoing.
Representatives for Cruise did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.
Also Read: George Clooney Says Tom Cruise Is 'Not Wrong' in COVID Rant, But He 'Wouldn't Have Done it That Big'
Read Remini's essay here.
The Washington Post on Twitter: "Every time you listen to Bing Crosby's ''White Christmas,'' about five people have died from the coronavirus between the beginning and the end of the song. https://t.co/Rpuc9mDsuz" / Twitter
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 00:27
The Washington Post : Every time you listen to Bing Crosby's ''White Christmas,'' about five people have died from the coronavirus between'... https://t.co/bmxtPvlhJn
Sat Dec 19 14:57:46 +0000 2020
Your Libertarian Pal : @washingtonpost Fauci says stop playing that song!
Sun Dec 20 00:27:20 +0000 2020
🇺🇸 ðŸ...… Frizz : @washingtonpost https://t.co/48Xa1nmNbB
Sun Dec 20 00:27:16 +0000 2020
''Œ Linda Taylor ðŸŽðŸ‡ºðŸ‡¸ : @washingtonpost The Austere Coronavirus
Sun Dec 20 00:27:10 +0000 2020
''Œaka: President-Elect Doctah Muad - Dib 🇺🇸 ''Œ : @washingtonpost More babies are aborted in less time.
Sun Dec 20 00:27:06 +0000 2020
ColdWarKid 🇺🇸 : @washingtonpost I take pleasure in knowing when you wake up Christmas morning and on New Year's Day, Donald Trump w'... https://t.co/VUYhcgDaDZ
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jason miller : @washingtonpost So, eventually we are all going to die. Eventually.... of something.....
Sun Dec 20 00:26:39 +0000 2020
U.K. Imposes Harsher Lockdown on London, Citing New Version of Virus - The New York Times
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 00:49
The variant is up to 70 percent more transmissible than earlier versions, officials said, though some scientists are skeptical. People in southeast England, including London, were told to stay at home.
Prime Minster Boris Johnson announced a wholesale lockdown of London and southeast England on Saturday. Credit... Andrew Testa for The New York Times Dec. 19, 2020 Updated 6:53 p.m. ET LONDON '-- Alarmed by a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson abruptly reversed course on Saturday and imposed a wholesale lockdown on London and most of England's southeast, banning Christmas-season gatherings beyond individual households.
The decision, which Mr. Johnson announced after an emergency meeting of his cabinet, came after the government got new evidence of a variant first detected several weeks ago in Southeast England, which the prime minister asserted was as much as 70 percent more transmissible than previous versions.
The new measures, which take effect on Sunday, are designed, in effect, to cut off the capital and its surrounding counties from the rest of England. They are the most severe measures the British government has taken since it imposed a lockdown on the country back in March, and reflect a fear that the new variant could supercharge the transmission of the virus as winter takes hold.
''When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense,'' a somber Mr. Johnson said on Saturday. ''We have to act on information as we have it, because this is now spreading very fast.''
Viral mutations are not uncommon, and British officials said this variant had been detected in a handful of other countries, without naming them. But the government's medical experts expressed alarm about its apparent infectiousness, noting that it now accounts for more than 60 percent of the new infections reported in London.
Other scientists cautioned that the rapid spread of the variant did not necessarily mean that it was more transmissible, which can only be determined with certainty through laboratory experiments and other kinds of analysis. Its prevalence, they said, could be a result of other factors.
Whatever the characteristics of the mutation, it is clear that Britain faces an escalating crisis, even as it rolls out a mass vaccination program. Nationwide, the pace of new infections has nearly doubled in less than two weeks, leaping past most of western Europe, though it remains well below the per capita rate in the United States.
Image ''When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense,'' a somber Mr. Johnson said at a Saturday afternoon news conference. Credit... Pool photo by Toby Melville Public health experts said the new variant reinforced the urgency to tighten restrictions to try to eliminate the virus altogether, since new mutations are a recurring phenomenon.
''Elimination is more and more optimal,'' said Devi Sridhar, head of the global public health program at the University of Edinburgh. ''More virus circulating means more variants and mutations.''
Mr. Johnson's abrupt reversal came after a cabinet subcommittee meeting on Friday, in which members of the government's scientific advisory panel presented evidence that new infections had nearly doubled in London in the last week, and that the new variant accounted for a majority of those cases.
The government's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said there was no evidence that this version of the virus was more lethal or more resistant to vaccines than others. But Dr. Vallance, a physician and medical researcher, said scientists had identified 23 changes in the new variant, an unusually large number, including several in the part of the virus that binds it to other cells. That, he said, could increase its transmissibility.
Faster transmission would mean more cases, which would lead to more hospitalizations and fatalities. The government said it had notified the World Health Organization about the prevalence of the new variant.
''This virus spreads more easily,'' Dr. Vallance said, as he flanked Mr. Johnson, ''and therefore more measures are needed to keep it under control.''
The new lockdown zone includes all of Greater London and much of the surrounding southeast of the country, a densely populated area encompassing nearly 20 million people, a third of England's population. The restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks, and will be reviewed on Dec. 30.
Image Shopping in Oxford Circus in London last week. The new lockdown will apply to nearly 20 million people, a third of England's population. Credit... Andrew Testa for The New York Times The government told people to stay at home except for urgent travel, medical appointments and outdoor exercise. Those outside the zone were advised not to travel into it, and those inside will not be permitted to travel outside overnight. Foreign travel is strongly discouraged. Nonessential shops will close, as will gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and nail salons.
Though Mr. Johnson said only a few days ago that it would be ''inhuman'' to cancel Christmas, that will be the practical effect for much of the country. A plan to allow up to three households to meet together over the holiday will be scrapped in London and the southeast, with no mixing permitted at all.
Elsewhere, three households will be allowed to gather, but only on Christmas Day, and not for the extended five-day period once promised.
Mr. Johnson's announcement was an admission that England's existing system of restrictions, under which the country was divided into three ''tiers'' with different rules, had not been sufficient to control the spread of the virus. The newly announced lockdown will constitute a new, and tougher, fourth tier.
Mr. Johnson has the legal authority to tighten rules on his own, and there is no plan to recall Parliament. But the announcement provoked an immediate backlash from opposition leaders, and even members of his own Conservative Party.
''Millions of families across the country are going to be heartbroken by this news, having their Christmas plans ripped up,'' Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, told the BBC. ''I'm really frustrated because I raised this with the prime minister on Wednesday and he dismissed that and went on to tell people to have a 'merry little Christmas' only three days later to rip up their plans.''
Mark Harper, who chairs a group of Conservative lawmakers who have been critical of lockdown measures, said, ''These changes must also be put to a vote in the Commons at the earliest opportunity, even if that means a recall of the House.''
Image A closed cafe in central London last week, after the city entered Tier 3 restrictions. Credit... Andrew Testa for The New York Times The coronavirus has mutated many times since it first emerged in China in 2019, according to epidemiologists. On Friday, South Africa reported it had identified a variant that it said was driving a new wave of infections there. Scientists said it was different from the one identified in Britain.
Most of these variants are not significant or widespread. But as the number of people who have been infected '-- and, presumably, have developed some immunity '-- increases, the pressure on the pathogen to mutate also increases. Some of the new variants can be more transmissible or lead to more severe illness than earlier versions of the virus.
For months, Mr. Johnson has struggled to balance his response to the virus with pressure not to further damage the economy. At times, he has lagged other European leaders in imposing restrictions. At other moments, he has appeared to resist the advice of his own government's scientific advisers.
Britain reported 27,052 new cases and 534 deaths on Saturday. The country's death toll from the pandemic is the highest in Europe. Mr. Johnson pointed to the rollout of a vaccine, which Britain approved and began administering ahead of other Western countries, as a ray of hope. He said 350,000 people in the country had received a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is a two-shot regimen.
But as the economy has languished, lockdowns have become politically fraught. When the government placed Manchester, Liverpool and other northern cities, where the infection rates were higher, in a more restrictive tier, local officials complained that they were being unfairly targeted. Life in London, they noted, remained mostly unchanged.
Last week, amid signs that London had become a new hot spot, Mr. Johnson placed the capital and most of the southeast in Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions. But he clung to his promise of a Christmas reprieve from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27, even as he implored people to keep family gatherings brief and small.
''Have yourself a merry little Christmas,'' Mr. Johnson said last week, announcing the half measures, ''but this year alas, preferably a very little Christmas.''
With the draconian restrictions announced on Saturday, Christmas gatherings in England will become smaller still.
Benedict Carey and Matt Apuzzo contributed reporting.
Dutch government bans UK flights over new virus strain
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 04:01
The new strain, which is up to 70% more infectious, is causing alarm across Europe. The WHO confirmed it is in close contact with UK health officials over the variant. Follow DW for the latest COVID-19 developments.
Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, among others, will not be receiving passengers from the UK for the rest of the year
The Dutch government has put a stop to all passenger flights entering from the UK after finding a case in the Netherlands of a new coronavirus strain that has been circulating around Britain.
The ban, which starts at 6 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Sunday and lasts until at least January 1, came just hours after Britain announced a stay-at-home order for the south of England, including London, to slow the more infectious variant.
"An infectious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect," the Dutch Health Ministry said in a statement.
The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, said it "recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements."
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Cabinet said that other forms of transport were still under review.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed it is in close contact with British officials over the new variant.
"They'll continue to share info & results of their analysis & ongoing studies. We'll update Member States & public as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant & any implications," the WHO tweeted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said early scientific data suggests the new coronavirus strain is up to 70% more infectious.
Asia-PacificThailand has reported its highest daily tally of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 548 new infections across the country. Most of the new cases are connected with an outbreak at a wholesale seafood market on the outskirts of the capital, Bangkok.
South Korea has also reported a record daily high, with 1,097 new cases, the country's Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Australia is tightening its restrictions in Sydney, as of midnight on Sunday, in an effort to quell a recent cluster of cases in the country's most populous city.
Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of the state of New South Wales, told reporters that 30 more infections had been detected in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 68 since a fresh outbreak was detected three days ago. The area began a four-day lockdown on Saturday night.
AmericasThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was paying close attention to reports of allergic reactions to the coronavirus vaccination program and made recommendations on how people with histories of allergies should proceed.
Anyone who had a severe reaction should not get the second dose, the CDC said, defining severe as needing the medication epinephrine or having to go to hospital for treatment.
Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine has become the second pharmaceutical firm to receive the US Food and Drug Administration's authorization for emergency use after BioNTech-Pfizer. The US is the world's hardest-hit nation, with more than 3,000 coronavirus deaths a day.
Canada has surpassed 500,000 cases, according to official figures, recording a 25% increase over the last two weeks.
The government of Ontario province announced this weekend an extension of lockdown measures in Toronto and much of the region until January 4.
"COVID-19 is spreading among people of all ages, with high infection rates across all age groups," Canada's chief medical officer Theresa Tam said.
jsi/nm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Trump now has real reason to be worried - Alternet.org
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 12:26
President Donald J. Trump is joined by United States Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Cabinet members and White House senior advisers, as he meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He Thursday, April 4, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House, following continued U.S.''China trade talks. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
I have been chronicling the atrocities of the Trump era almost daily for five years and I'm exhausted. I don't think I'm alone. One of Trump's most insidious talents is to dominate the spotlight to such an extent that you can't look away even if you want to. He's everywhere. There is just so much, more than we can fully absorb, so we just keep watching, waiting for the spectacle to end, paralyzed and psychically drained.
And now it's almost over.
Aside from some short appearances in the press room to declare himself the winner, a couple of desultory interviews with friendly cable news hosts, one low energy rally in Georgia and the extended, puerile whine of his Twitter account, Donald Trump has been blessedly out of sight for most of the past five weeks. There's been no chopper talk, no televised Cabinet meetings with sycophantic tributes to his greatness, no crude insults toward reporters, nothing.
If one didn't know better, one might assume that the president is ashamed because he lost the election and doesn't want to face the public. But that would be wrong. If there's one thing we know, it's that Donald Trump has no shame.
We don't know if Trump will fire more people, pardon himself and his family, start a war or simply continue to sit in the White House raging against his enemies and tweeting out lies about the election but the fact is that this long national acid trip is winding down at long last. Unfortunately, the hangover is going to be titanic. Unless the nation sobers up quickly and takes action, we may never recover.
The good news is that we are seeing signs of life in the U.S. Congress in this regard.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, gave notice this week that his committee intends to pursue the subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn. You will recall that McGahn was not allowed to testify before Congress on the basis of a novel legal concept called "absolute immunity" which, if allowed to stand, would render congressional oversight practically impotent.
So while Democrats continue to pursue the subpoena as a means to push back against a legal principle that attempts to usurp their oversight powers, they will undoubtedly follow up on just what happened with all of that obstruction of justice Trump committed. They may not be able to sanction Trump for it, but they need to build the record '-- after all, this guy may try to bust his way back into power in four years.
Meanwhile, we have also learned that the Manhattan District Attorney and the New York Attorney General's cases are proceeding apace. These cases are beyond the scope of any federal pardon, as you know, so Trump may be seeing the inside of a courtroom whether he pardons himself or not.
But is any of that enough? It can't be, particularly when the New York Times and Politico reported earlier in the week something so shocking that it would be a crime not to investigate it.
Two political appointees at the CDC admitted that they had been instructed to slant pandemic advice according to guidance from people such as Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway. And it's now quite clear that the administration did adopt a herd immunity strategy to deal with the pandemic and lied about it. One incompetent adviser actually wrote "we want them infected" in an email.
We knew this, sort of. Trump had been quoted early in the pandemic wondering why we didn't just let it "wash over the country" which Dr. Fauci, the head of infectious diseases at the National Institute of Health, explained would result in a horrible death toll. Still, Trump clung to that notion and ended up hiring a radiologist he first saw on Fox News, Dr. Scott Atlas, who promoted the concept. These new reports show the extent to which this policy filtered through the government and negatively affected the response. It was a conscious decision. Now over 300,000 people are dead and counting, many of whom might be alive today if Donald Trump were not the president of the United States when a pandemic hit our shores.
The Atlantic's James Fallows took a look at the problem of accountability for what's happened and I think his ideas for how to deal with it make a lot of sense. He suggests that the Biden White House steer clear of most of that work except for the important job of trying to make the executive branch work properly again. Obviously, he should remain hands-off any criminal investigations that might come through the Department of Justice, his only obligation there would be to appoint someone with credibility and integrity to handle whatever cases may already be percolating. So that leaves the Democrats, who control the congressional committees in the House, to create a Good Cop'--Bad Cop dynamic between Biden and Nadler which might just be effective if the Democrats stay strong and don't react to bad faith caterwauling from the Republicans.
Fallows also believes that Biden should appoint three commissions, which I think are vital and I really hope that someone in the administration is listening.
The first would be a commission to look at the pandemic response. This won't be the last time we face such a crisis and this one was so much worse than it should have been. The country needs to know how it happened and understand how to ensure it doesn't happen again.
The second commission Fallows recommends would look into the cases of family separation at the border, with an immediate task to find the children and then document meticulously exactly how such a program came to be implemented. As Fallows points out, this didn't happen by executive fiat. There was complicity at all levels and it has to be exposed and dealt with. This grotesque policy is right up there with the pandemic in terms of sheer cruelty.
And finally, Biden needs to appoint a commission to investigate the Trump administration's assault on democracy itself. He didn't invent it, of course, but he's taken it to a level that is in danger of permanently damaging our election system and people's faith in their democracy. And he's done so on the basis of crude lies and propaganda.
Biden doesn't have to be personally involved in any of this. He can stay above the fray and concentrate on doing the job he was hired to do. But these commissions would go a long way toward reassuring the majority of Americans who are still shell-shocked by what has happened in these four years that at least there will be a public airing and permanent record of what went wrong. Most people are hungry for the truth and while I doubt Trump's followers will want to hear it, we need the truth for the history books. At some point, their children or grandchildren may want to know what really happened.
A death every 33 seconds - The Washington Post
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 14:23
It's hard to resist the sense that the slowly growing number of deaths in the United States each day is a tragedy of world-shaping proportions. For all of the efforts by some to diminish the death toll and to shrug at the steadily expanding saturation of American hospital beds, our country is losing an American every 33 seconds to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that emerged last year.
Every time you listen to Bing Crosby's ''White Christmas,'' about five people have died of the virus between the beginning and the end of the song.
What's emerged over the past three months has done so slowly. On Sept. 12, the number of new cases began to increase, rising from about 34,000 new cases a day to, at this point, more than 219,000. The number of deaths from covid-19 has similarly ballooned, rising from 728 to nearly 2,600 a day.
By now, the pattern is familiar. People feel sick and get a test. It comes back positive. Some of them end up seeking treatment at a hospital. Some of them then die. There are gaps between those events: Someone who tests positive today may not die for several weeks. But the link is clear. People contract the virus. Some of them take a turn for the worse. Some of them don't survive.
At St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, the ICU is full, the main lobby has become a makeshift covid ward, and patients spill out into the parking lot. (The Washington Post)The spread of the virus is more pervasive now than it has been at any prior point in the pandemic, but that doesn't mean it's evenly distributed. In some states, the surge in new cases hasn't necessarily overloaded hospitals. In others, like California, government data show how the increase in new cases is rapidly choking the ability of health-care systems to accommodate it.
In every state but Kentucky, more intensive care unit beds are in use than were in use three months ago.
Nationally, the picture has varied depending on the scale at which you consider it. The average number of new cases each day has been more than 200,000 for more than a week and continues to slowly climb. The number of new hospitalizations, as recorded by the COVID Tracking Project, is exceeding 4,000 each day. At some point, that hits a chokepoint: You can't keep admitting people to the hospital if there's no space to do so. But the number of hospital beds in use nationally, both regular and intensive care, continues to rise. Since Sept. 12, the number of ICU beds in use climbed from an estimated 69 percent to 79 percent.
Again, some of those hospitalizations eventually become deaths. Each of the key metrics '-- new cases, hospitalizations, new deaths '-- has followed the same curve over the past three months. The only differences are how long each surge took and how high it went.
Since the third surge in new cases began in mid-September, there's been a consistent connection between the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths. The average number of new deaths on a day has consistently been about 1.8 percent of new cases 26 days prior and about 2.3 percent of hospitalizations 10 days earlier. There have been fluctuations, but those patterns have held '-- as they have for months.
What this means is that we have a sense of what's likely looming. If we extrapolate outward from the current figures, we see that we might expect to see an average of as many as 3,900 deaths per day by Jan. 12, using the per-case ratio '-- or, at least, continue to see about 2,600 deaths per day through the end of the month.
We can anticipate a similar death toll at least through the end of the year. By Dec. 31, the United States will be home to 340,000 fewer Americans than it would have been if covid-19 had not emerged in our country.
Bio Security State
Health insurers' debt has reached highest point in a decade
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 13:33
Debt issued by publicly traded health insurers has soared over the past decade as the companies have looked to the bond market to raise money for large-scale mergers and acquisitions.
Combined short and long-term debt among nine publicly traded insurers reached its highest point in at least 10 years at $115.5 billion in 2018 compared with $24.8 billion in 2009, according to a recent report by credit rating agency AM Best.
"A lot of this debt is related to the M&A wars that have been occurring over the past few years '-- sort of an arms race if you will," explained Jason Hopper, an associate director at AM Best.
He added that just two insurers '-- Cigna Corp. and UnitedHealth Group '-- account for two-thirds of the debt issued by publicly traded insurers.
Cigna raised capital by issuing bonds to buy pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts for $67 billion in 2018 while UnitedHealth closed its $4.3 billion deal with DaVita Medical Group this year and picked up PBM Catamaran in 2015. The analysis did not include the large CVS-Aetna deal.
Insurers have opted to issue bonds to fund their mergers and acquisitions instead of using equity because of the historically low interest rates, analysts said. Deep Banerjee of rating agency S&P Global added that insurance companies have also issued more debt as their business mix changes and they wade into care delivery.
"More and more of especially the larger public insurers are no longer just health insurance companies," Banerjee explained. "Part of the debt goes toward running or managing the providers that they own."
Insurers' debt-to-capital ratios have also increased, driven by the rise in debt obligations. Among the nine insurers in the AM Best analysis, the aggregate debt-to-capital ratio rose to 43% at end of 2018 from 33% in the first quarter of 2009.
While there are no hard and fast rules as to how much debt is too much, AM Best's Hopper indicated the ratings agency would put pressure on a company if its debt-to-capital ratio topped 60%, and Banerjee said he would be concerned with a ratio of over 50%. Ratings agencies may downgrade insurers with high amounts of debt, which could in turn make it harder for those companies to borrow money at the lowest rates.
But generally, the biggest publicly traded insurers are generating more earnings today and have been able to handle the debt that they've raised. Brad Ellis, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, explained that insurers are increasingly able to predict their costs and price their premiums correctly, which has helped stabilize their earnings over time. Ellis said Fitch analyzes the ability of a company to handle its debt obligations on a case by case basis.
"A company like UnitedHealth Group that has increased debt repeatedly to make acquisitions has a lot of credibility in both their willingness and ability to pay that debt down. What they say they are going to do to the public and to us, they do," Ellis said. "So when a company has been able to do that and has done it, we are much more comfortable with the company's financial leverage."
Analysts said insurers will likely continue to issue bonds to refinance older debt with higher interest rates, and companies may raise capital for small acquisitions. But beyond the already announced merger between Centene Corp. and WellCare Health plans, which would be financed by a mix of debt and equity, analysts doubted insurers will be issuing large amounts of debt to fund another mega-merger any time soon.
"It doesn't appear as though most of them are hungry to add a lot more leverage to their balance sheet," Ellis said.
Secret Santa
Anonymous donor pays layaway bills for nearly 100 Walmart customers
Thu, 17 Dec 2020 21:21
China Says EU Investment Deal in Final Stage, Hails Progress - Bloomberg
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:01
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US cybersecurity agency warns of 'grave' threat from hack
Thu, 17 Dec 2020 21:37
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- Federal authorities expressed increased alarm Thursday about an intrusion into U.S. and other computer systems around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russian hackers. The nation's cybersecurity agency warned of a ''grave'' risk to government and private networks.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in its most detailed comments yet that the intrusion had compromised federal agencies as well as ''critical infrastructure'' in a sophisticated attack that was hard to detect and will be difficult to undo.
CISA did not say which agencies or infrastructure had been breached or what information taken in an attack that it previously said appeared to have begun in March.
''This threat actor has demonstrated sophistication and complex tradecraft in these intrusions,'' the agency said in its unusual alert. ''CISA expects that removing the threat actor from compromised environments will be highly complex and challenging.''
The hack, if authorities can indeed prove it was carried out by a nation such as Russia as experts believe, creates a fresh foreign policy problem for President Donald Trump in his final days in office.
Trump, whose administration has been criticized for eliminating a White House cybersecurity adviser and downplaying Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, has made no public statements about the breach.
President-elect Joe Biden said he would make cybersecurity a top priority of his administration, but that stronger defenses are not enough.
''We need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyberattacks in the first place,'' he said. ''We will do that by, among other things, imposing substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks, including in coordination with our allies and partners.''
The cybersecurity agency previously said the perpetrators had used network management software from Texas-based SolarWinds t o infiltrate computer networks. Its new alert said the attackers may have used other methods, as well.
Over the weekend, amid reports that the Treasury and Commerce departments were breached, CISA directed all civilian agencies of the federal government to remove SolarWinds from their servers. The cybersecurity agencies of Britain and Ireland issued similar alerts.
A U.S. official previously told The Associated Press that Russia-based hackers were suspected, but neither CISA nor the FBI has publicly said who is believed be responsible. Asked whether Russia was behind the attack, the official said: ''We believe so. We haven't said that publicly yet because it isn't 100% confirmed.''
Another U.S. official, speaking Thursday on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that is under investigation, said the hack was severe and extremely damaging although the administration was not yet ready to publicly blame anyone for it.
''This is looking like it's the worst hacking case in the history of America,'' the official said. ''They got into everything.''
The official said the administration is working on the assumption that most, if not all, government agencies were compromised but the extent of the damage was not yet known.
The intentions of the perpetrators appear to be espionage and gathering valuable information rather than destruction, according to security experts and former government officials . If so, they are now remarkably well situated.
Thomas Bossert, a former Trump Homeland Security adviser, said in an opinion article in The New York Times that the U.S. should now act as if the Russian government had gained control of the networks it has penetrated. ''The actual and perceived control of so many important networks could easily be used to undermine public and consumer trust in data, written communications and services,'' he wrote.''
Members of Congress said they feared that taxpayers' personal information could have been exposed because the IRS is part of Treasury, which used SolarWinds software.
Tom Kellermann, cybersecurity strategy chief of the software company VMware, said the hackers are now ''omniscient to the operations'' of federal agencies they've infiltrated ''and there is viable concern that they might leverage destructive attacks within these agencies'' in reaction to U.S. response.
CISA officials did not respond to questions and so it was unclear what it meant by a ''grave threat'' or by critical infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security, its parent agency, defines such infrastructure as any ''vital'' assets to the U.S. or its economy, a broad category that could include power plants and financial institutions.
Among the business sectors scrambling to protect their systems and assess potential theft of information are defense contractors, technology companies and providers of telecommunications and the electric grid.
A group led by CEOs in the electric power industry said it held a ''situational awareness call'' earlier this week to help electric companies and public power utilities identify whether the compromise posed a threat to their networks.
And dozens of smaller institutions that seemed to have little data of interest to foreign spies were nonetheless forced to respond to the hack.
The Helix Water District, which provides drinking water to the suburbs of San Diego, California, said it provided a patch to its SolarWinds software after it got an advisory the IT company sent out about the hack to about 33,000 customers Sunday.
''While we do utilize SolarWinds, we are not aware of any district impacts from the security breach,'' said Michelle Curtis, a spokesperson for the water district.
With contributions from Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Washington, Matt O'Brien in Providence, Rhode Island and Frank Bajak in Boston.
Nuclear weapons agency breached amid massive cyber onslaught - POLITICO
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:44
The hackers have been able to do more damage at FERC than the other agencies, and officials there have evidence of highly malicious activity, the officials said, but did not elaborate.
The officials said that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which has been helping to manage the federal response to the broad hacking campaign, indicated to FERC this week that CISA was overwhelmed and might not be able to allocate the necessary resources to respond. DOE will therefore be allocating extra resources to FERC to help investigate the hack, even though FERC is a semi-autonomous agency, the officials said.
Several top officials from CISA, including its former director Christopher Krebs, have either been pushed out by the Trump administration or resigned in recent weeks.
Federal investigators have been combing through networks in recent days to determine what hackers had been able to access and/or steal, and officials at DOE still don't know whether the attackers were able to access anything, the people said, noting that the investigation is ongoing and they may not know the full extent of the damage ''for weeks.''
Shaylyn Hynes, a DOE spokesperson, said that an ongoing investigation into the hack has found that the perpetrators did not get into critical defense systems.
"At this point, the investigation has found that the malware has been isolated to business networks only, and has not impacted the mission essential national security functions of the department, including the National Nuclear Security Administration," Hynes said in a statement. "When DOE identified vulnerable software, immediate action was taken to mitigate the risk, and all software identified as being vulnerable to this attack was disconnected from the DOE network.''
The attack on DOE is the clearest sign yet that the hackers were able to access the networks belonging to a core part of the U.S. national security enterprise. The hackers are believed to have gained access to the federal agencies' networks by compromising the software company SolarWinds, which sells IT management products to hundreds of government and private-sector clients.
DOE officials were planning on Thursday to notify the House and Senate Energy committees, House and Senate Energy and Water Development subcommittees, House and Senate Armed Services committees, and the New Mexico and Washington State delegations of the breach, the officials said.
CISA, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged the ''ongoing'' cybersecurity campaign in a joint statement released on Wednesday, saying that they had only become aware of the incident in recent days.
''This is a developing situation, and while we continue to work to understand the full extent of this campaign, we know this compromise has affected networks within the federal government,'' the statement read. The U.S. government has not blamed any particular actor for the hacks yet, but cybersecurity experts have said the activity bears the hallmarks of Russia's intelligence services.
NNSA is responsible for managing the nation's nuclear weapons, and while it gets the least attention, it takes up the vast majority of DOE's budget. Similarly, the Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs conduct atomic research related to both civil nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The Office of Secure Transportation is tasked with moving enriched uranium and other materials critical for maintaining the nuclear stockpile.
Hackers may have been casting too wide a net when they targeted DOE's Richland Field Office, whose primary responsibility is overseeing the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state. During World War II and the Cold War, the U.S. produced two- thirds of its plutonium there, but the site hasn't been active since 1971.
The attack on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may have been an effort to disrupt the nation's bulk electric grid. FERC doesn't directly manage any power flows, but it does store sensitive data on the grid that could be used to identify the most disruptive locations for future attacks.
Suspected Russian hack on U.S. is much worse than first feared
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:33
The scale of a sophisticated cyberattack on the U.S. government that was unearthed this week is much bigger than first anticipated.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a summary Thursday that the threat "poses a grave risk to the federal government."
It added that "state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations" are also at risk.
CISA believes the attack began at least as early as March. Since then, multiple government agencies have reportedly been targeted by the hackers, with confirmation from the Energy and Commerce departments so far.
"This threat actor has demonstrated sophistication and complex tradecraft in these intrusions," CISA said. "Removing the threat actor from compromised environments will be highly complex and challenging."
Russia accusedCISA has not said who it thinks is the "advanced persistent threat actor" behind the "significant and ongoing" campaign, but many experts are pointing to Russia.
"The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate," former Trump Homeland Security Advisor Thomas Bossert said in a piece for The New York Times on Thursday. "The Russians have had access to a considerable number of important and sensitive networks for six to nine months."
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the accusations, according to the Tass news agency.
"Even if it is true there have been some attacks over many months and the Americans managed to do nothing about them, possibly it is wrong to groundlessly blame Russians right away," he told Tass. "We have nothing to do with this."
The Russian Embassy in London did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.
The FBI said Wednesday it is "investigating and gathering intelligence in order to attribute, pursue, and disrupt the responsible threat actors."
At this stage, it's not clear what the hackers have done beyond accessing top-secret government networks and monitoring data.
Hackers also accessed systems at the National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, according to the Politico news site, citing officials familiar with the matter.
SolarWinds backdoorCISA said those behind the attack used network management software made by SolarWinds, a Texas-headquartered IT firm, to breach the government networks.
As many as 18,000 SolarWinds Orion customers downloaded a software update that contained a backdoor, which the hackers used to gain access to the networks.
CISA issued an "emergency directive" this week instructing federal civilian agencies to "immediately disconnect or power down affected SolarWinds Orion products from their network."
But the perpetrators may have used other means to access the networks. CISA said Thursday is investigating "evidence of additional access vectors, other than the SolarWinds Orion platform."
Microsoft customers targetedMicrosoft was hacked in connection with the attack on SolarWinds' widely used management software, Reuters reported Thursday.
Like with the cyberattack of SolarWinds, hackers infiltrated Microsoft products and then went after others, Reuters said, citing people familiar with the matter.
"We have been actively looking for indicators of this actor and can confirm that we detected malicious SolarWinds binaries in our environment, which we isolated and removed. We have not found evidence of access to production services or customer data," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement shared with CNBC.
"Our investigations, which are ongoing, have found absolutely no indications that our systems were used to attack others," they added.
Microsoft said that more than 40 client organizations were compromised in the attack.
"While roughly 80% of these customers are located in the United States, this work so far has also identified victims in seven additional countries," Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog.
"This includes Canada and Mexico in North America; Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom in Europe; and Israel and the UAE in the Middle East. It's certain that the number and location of victims will keep growing."
Smith added that "this is not espionage as usual" and "while governments have spied on each other for centuries, the recent attackers used a technique that has put at risk the technology supply chain for the broader economy."
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden pledged Thursday to make cybersecurity a key area of focus for his administration.
"A good defense isn't enough; We need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyberattacks in the first place," Biden said in a statement issued by his transition team.
"We will do that by, among other things, imposing substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks, including in coordination with our allies and partners. Our adversaries should know that, as President, I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation."
President Donald Trump, who has been silent about the hacking, threatened on Thursday to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes money to help prevent such cyberattacks.
$286M Of SolarWinds Stock Sold Before CEO, Hack Disclosures
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 23:14
SolarWinds majority owners Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo sold $286 million of stock just before the company announced a new CEO and disclosed a cyberattack.
The private equity firms disposed of more than 13 million SolarWinds stock shares at $21.97 per share on Dec. 7, two days before the IT infrastructure management firm announced Pulse Secure's Sudhakar Ramakrishna as its next CEO. Four days after that, SolarWinds disclosed that it had experienced a highly sophisticated, manual supply chain attack on certain versions of its Orion network monitoring product.
SolarWinds' stock is now trading at $18.46, nearly 16 percent lower than what Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo sold their shares for. Silver Lake sold 5.8 percent of its stake in publicly held SolarWinds for $157.5 million, while Thoma Bravo also sold 5.8 percent of its somewhat smaller stake in SolarWinds for $128.3 million. The stock sales were first reported late Tuesday evening by The Washington Post.
[Related: Microsoft's Role In SolarWinds Breach Comes Under Scrutiny]
''Thoma Bravo and Silver Lake were not aware of this potential cyberattack at SolarWinds prior to entering into a private placement to a single institutional investor on 12/7,'' the companies said in a joint statement. The private equity firms didn't respond to questions from CRN about whether they knew Ramakrishna had been selected as SolarWinds' next CEO at the time they sold $286 million of stock.
Representatives from Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo make up a majority of SolarWinds' 11-member board, and owned more than three-quarters of SolarWinds' outstanding shares as of April, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Silver Lake is represented by Michael Bingle, Kenneth Hao and Mike Widmann, while Thoma Bravo is represented by Seth Boro, Michael Hoffman and James Lines.
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) spent $315 million to take a 5 percent stake in SolarWinds, acquiring some of the shares previously owned by Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo, SolarWinds disclosed Dec. 9 in the press release announcing Ramakrishna as CEO. SolarWinds declined to comment, while CPP Investments and the SEC didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
FireEye disclosed Dec. 8 that it was breached in a state-sponsored attack designed to gain information on some of the company's government customers. FireEye determined by Friday that some SolarWinds Orion updates had been corrupted and contacted the company shortly thereafter, The Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter. SolarWinds has not said when it learned of the breach.
This was the largest sale of SolarWinds stock for Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo since the company went public in October 2018, according to The Washington Post. In all of 2019, Silver Lake sold about $140 million of SolarWinds stock while Thoma Bravo sold about $110 million of SolarWinds stock, The Post reported.
SolarWinds was founded in 1999 and conducted its first initial public offering (IPO) in May 2009, and spent nearly seven years being traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Then in February 2016, Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo took SolarWinds private following a $4.5 billion purchase of the company. SolarWinds was privately held for just 32 months before going through its second IPO in late 2018.
SolarWinds got into the solution provider business in May 2013 through its purchase of N-able to better service MSPs who support SMB clients. Then in June 2016, SolarWinds bought N-able competitor LogicNow and brought the two remote monitoring and management (RMM) rivals together under the SolarWinds MSP banner.
While hackers over the past two years have taken advantage of the tools MSPs rely on to manage customer IT systems, the tools compromised in this breach do not appear to be linked to SolarWinds' MSP business. The Orion platform supports SolarWinds' longtime IT infrastructure management business and isn't connected to the more recently assembled SolarWinds MSP business.
SolarWinds MSP said it isn't aware of any impact to its remote monitoring and management (RMM), N-Central and associated products from the attack on Orion, President John Pagliuca said in a security advisory posted Sunday evening. Pagliuca would take over as SolarWinds MSP CEO if the proposed spin-off of the business into a standalone company that has been under consideration for months happens.
As Trump remains silent, SolarWinds hack increasingly looks like act of war - Axios
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 00:42
A Trump administration official tells Axios that the cyberattack on the U.S. government and corporate America, apparently by Russia, is looking worse by the day '-- and secrets may still be being stolen in ways not yet discovered.
The big picture: "We still don't know the bottom of the well," the official said. Stunningly, the breach goes back to at least March, and continued all through the election. The U.S. government didn't sound the alarm until this Sunday. Damage assessment could take months.
Microsoft President Brad Smith told the N.Y. Times that at least 40 companies, government agencies and think tanks had been infiltrated.
The hack is known to have breached the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Treasury, Commerce, and Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration '-- plus the National Institutes of Health.8 countries: Microsoft, which has helped respond to the breach, said in a statement that 80% of its 40 customers known to have been targeted are in the U.S., plus others in U.K., Israel, UAE, Canada, Mexico, Belgium and Spain.In unusually vivid language for a bureaucracy, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of Homeland Security, said yesterday that the intruder "demonstrated sophistication and complex tradecraft."
The agency said the breach "poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations."If this had been a physical attack on America's secrets, we could be at war.
Imagine if during the Cold War, the Soviet Union had broken into a building in Washington and walked out with correspondence, budgets and more.Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC: "It's pretty hard to distinguish this from an act of aggression that rises to the level of an attack that qualifies as war. ... [T]his is as destructive and broad scale an engagement with our military systems, our intelligence systems as has happened in my lifetime."The gravity wasn't immediately apparent because this wasn't the "cyber Pearl Harbor" that experts have warned about: No one took out a power grid, or stole a bunch of money or destabilized the markets.
Instead, it's more like someone has been walking in and out of your house for months, and you don't really know what they took.And they may have built a secret door. "For someone to have access that long, who's this sophisticated, it's pretty likely they built other ways to get in that are hard to find," one official told me. What's next: President Trump has stayed silent on the hack, meaning that President-elect Biden's overflowing in-box now includes Russian reprisal, damage mitigation and future deterrence.
Promising to impose "substantial costs" on the perpetrator, Biden said in a statement that his administration "will make cybersecurity a top priority": "I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation."
Pompeo Says Russia Was Behind Cyberattack on U.S. - The New York Times
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 13:11
U.S. | Pompeo Says Russia Was Behind Cyberattack on U.S.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is the first member of the Trump administration to publicly link the Kremlin to the hacking of dozens of government and private systems.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the White House last week. In an interview on the Mark Levin Show, Mr. Pompeo called the attack a ''very significant effort.'' Credit... Oliver Contreras for The New York Times Dec. 19, 2020 Updated 8:10 a.m. ET Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday it was clear that Russia was behind the widespread hacking of government systems that officials this week called ''a grave risk'' to the United States.
Mr. Pompeo is the first member of the Trump administration to publicly link the Kremlin to the cyberattack, which used a variety of sophisticated tools to infiltrate dozens of government and private systems, including nuclear laboratories and the Pentagon, Treasury and Commerce Departments.
''I think it's the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,'' Mr. Pompeo said in an interview on ''The Mark Levin Show.''
''This was a very significant effort,'' he said, adding that ''we're still unpacking precisely what it is.''
President Trump has yet to address the attack, which has been underway since spring and was detected by the private sector only a few weeks ago. Until Friday, Mr. Pompeo had played down the episode as one of the many daily attacks on the federal government.
But intelligence agencies have told Congress that they believe it was carried out by the S.V.R., an elite Russian intelligence agency.
As evidence of the attack's scope piled up this week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency sent out an urgent warning on Thursday that the hackers had ''demonstrated an ability to exploit software supply chains and shown significant knowledge of Windows networks.''
The agency added that it was likely that some of the attackers' tactics, techniques and procedures had ''not yet been discovered.'' Investigators say it could take months to unravel the extent to which American networks and the technology supply chain have been compromised.
Microsoft said it had identified 40 companies, government agencies and think tanks that the hackers had infiltrated. Nearly half are private technology firms, Microsoft said, many of them cybersecurity firms, like FireEye, that are charged with securing vast sections of the public and private sector.
''There are more nongovernmental victims than there are governmental victims, with a big focus on I.T. companies, especially in the security industry,'' Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, said in an interview on Thursday.
FireEye was the first to inform the government that the hackers had infected the periodic software updates issued by a company called SolarWinds since at least March. SolarWinds makes critical network monitoring software used by the government, hundreds of Fortune 500 companies and firms that oversee critical infrastructure, including the power grid.
The national security adviser, Robert C. O'Brien, cut short a trip to the Middle East and Europe on Tuesday and returned to Washington to run crisis meetings to assess the situation. The F.B.I., the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence formed an urgent response group, the Cyber Unified Coordination Group, to coordinate the government's responses to what the agencies called a ''significant and ongoing cybersecurity campaign.''
The Russians have denied any involvement. The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly I. Antonov, said Wednesday that there were ''unfounded attempts by the U.S. media to blame Russia'' for the recent cyberattacks.
According to a person briefed on the attack, the S.V.R. hackers sought to hide their tracks by using American internet addresses that allowed them to conduct attacks from computers in the very city '-- or appearing so '-- in which their victims were based. They created special bits of code intended to avoid detection by American warning systems and timed their intrusions not to raise suspicions.
The attacks, said the person briefed on the matter, shows that the weak point for the American government computer networks remains administrative systems, particularly ones that have a number of private companies working under contract.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Thursday that his administration would impose ''substantial costs'' on those responsible.
''A good defense isn't enough; we need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyberattacks in the first place,'' Mr. Biden said, adding, ''I will not stand idly by in the face of cyberassaults on our nation.''
Investigators and other officials say they believe the goal of the Russian attack was traditional espionage, the sort the National Security Agency and other agencies regularly conduct on foreign networks. But the extent and depth of the hacking raise concerns that hackers could ultimately use their access to shutter American systems, corrupt or destroy data, or take command of computer systems that run industrial processes. So far, though, there has been no evidence of that happening.
Across federal agencies, the private sector and the utility companies that oversee the power grid, forensic investigators were still trying to unravel the extent of the compromise. But security teams say the relief some felt that they did not use the compromised systems turned to panic on Thursday, as they learned other third-party applications may have been compromised.
Inside federal agencies and the private sector, investigators say they have been stymied by classifications and a siloed approach to information sharing.
''We have forgotten the lessons of 9/11,'' Mr. Smith said. ''It has not been a great week for information sharing and it turns companies like Microsoft into a sheep dog trying to get these federal agencies to come together into a single place and share what they know.''
Reporting was contributed by David E. Sanger, Nicole Perlroth, Eric Schmitt and Julian Barnes.
Donald J. Trump on Twitter: "The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is,
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 21:36
Donald J. Trump : The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is'... https://t.co/EZtljGasQL
Sat Dec 19 16:30:11 +0000 2020
Cheryl : @realDonaldTrump Yeah, well, we know your word isn't worth anything, so pardon me for not believing you.
Sat Dec 19 21:36:37 +0000 2020
Close to 200 organizations allegedly hacked by Russia: cybersecurity firm | TheHill
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 12:00
Close to 200 organizations were hacked by Russia as part of the cybersecurity attack on SolarWinds, a third party software contractor, that has compromised multiple government agencies, Bloomberg News reported .
Massachusetts-based cyber security firm Recorded Future identified 198 people that were hacked by a malicious update, threat analyst Allan Lisa told the news outlet.
Three people familiar with the inquiry told Bloomberg the hack further compromised at least 200 victims by attempting to move in their computer networks or gain user credentials.
About 18,000 SolarWinds customers received the malicious update, according to Bloomberg. Of that number, more than 1,000 experienced a malicious code ping that gave hackers further access to sensitive networks.
The identities of the victims were not provided to Bloomberg, and the number is expected to grow as the the investigation continues.
The firm said in a statement to The Hill that it used open source datasets and information provided by the security researcher community to "identify a likely partial list of organizations affected by the SolarWinds backdoor."
It added that "work across the industry remains ongoing" to obtain a fuller picture.
The statement added that it's not able to determine exactly how many or which organizations were affected.
However, it said that the number of affected organizations will likely be smaller than those that installed the malicious software.
A SolarWinds spokesperson told The Hill that it "continues collaborating closely with our customers, security professionals, law enforcement and intelligence communities across the globe to determine the responsible parties for this attack and whether the attack against us and our customers was directed by a foreign government, and to gather all relevant and accurate information to assist the community."
The analysis comes as America grapples with the fallout of the hack, which some have suggested could have amounted to an act of war . The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency said this week that the attack posed a "grave risk" to government and private sector organizations.
Reuters first reported last Sunday that the Treasury Department and an agency in the Commerce Department were compromised as part of the breach into SolarWinds. The Washington Post later reported that Russian military intelligence unit "Cozy Bear" was allegedly behind the attack.
During an interview on "The Mark Levin Show" Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in the activity."
Yet President Trump downplayed the hack on Saturday, questioning whether the Russia was really behind the cyber attack, saying on Twitter that "everything is well under control."
"Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!)," Trump tweeted.
Multiple government agencies were reported to have been compromised over the past week, including the State Department, Department of Defense and agencies within the Department of Energy .
Updated 10:53 p.m.
Drain the Swamp
Jeffrey Epstein's Alleged Pimp Jean-Luc Brunel Nabbed Boarding Flight to Africa
Thu, 17 Dec 2020 21:36
Jean-Luc Brunel, a French modeling agent and close ally and alleged pimp to late sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, is in custody in Paris after attempting to board a flight to Dakar in Senegal. Paris prosecutors say he was taken into custody for rape, sexual assault against minors, sexual harassment, criminal conspiracy and trafficking in human beings, according to Le Parisien newspaper.
Brunel, who has been accused in the U.S. of rape and procuring young girls for Epstein, has not been seen since Epstein's death in a Manhattan prison in August 2019 but has been in France. Back in August, Paris Match reported that he was last seen in public in July of 2019 at a party at the Paris Country Club'--an upscale, members-only establishment outside the French capital. Brunel also reportedly planned to write a tell-all in the hopes of exonerating himself, but the project was abandoned. He and his lawyer even approached a crisis communications expert at one point, but the expert refused the contract.
Brunel's name appeared more than 15 times on flight logs for Epstein's private jet, and he visited Epstein close to 70 times when the financier was in jail in Florida for procuring an underage girl for prostitution.
In message logs from Epstein's Palm Beach home'--where Brunel was a frequent guest, according to Epstein employees'--the French agent left cryptic messages that appeared to refer to young girls. In one note, Brunel reported that he ''just did a good one'--18 years'' who told him ''I love Jeffrey.'' In another message to Epstein, Brunel stressed that ''he has a teacher for you to teach how to speak Russian ... She is 2x8 years old not blonde. Lessons are free and you can have 1st today if you call.''
''I had lost faith and I thought he's being protected and nothing is going to happen but finally he's facing charges and they are really serious charges ... I was crying but they were tears of joy. ''
'-- Thysia Huisman, a Dutch former model who accused Brunel of drugging her and raping her
In August 2019, French prosecutors launched an inquiry into Brunel, who founded Karin Models and MC2 Model Management, which led to Wednesday's arrest.
''It's incredible. I didn't expect it all,'' Thysia Huisman, a Dutch former model who accused Brunel of drugging her and raping her when she was 18, told The Daily Beast. Huisman reported Brunel to the French police in September 2019 after Epstein's arrest.
''Brunel raped me in 1991. He drugged me and raped me and I never came forward as I was ashamed,'' she said. '' After Epstein's arrest I felt I had to come forward.''
After Epstein was arrested and Brunel became a person of interest Huisman reported him even though the case was past the statute of limitations. ''But I reported it in the hopes other women would come forward, and then 11 other women came forward but they were all past the statute of limitations.''
Frustrated, Huisman then went to the French authorities earlier this year. ''I called the French police this year asking why isn't anyone working on it and why is he walking round in Paris like nothing is happening, but the police said you have to be patient we are trying to make a case that will stick,'' she said, adding that she felt Brunel was tipped off and en route to Dakar because Senegal doesn't have an extradition treaty with France.
''I had lost faith and I thought he's being protected and nothing is going to happen but finally he's facing charges and they are really serious charges,'' she said. ''I was crying but they were tears of joy. Someone has to pinch me it's really overwhelming. We have to see what happens next. If there is going to be a trial I'm going to go there 100 percent and if they require my testimony of course I will give evidence. I didn't come forward for nothing.''
Huismann's book Close Up details meeting Brunel in Paris when she was 18 and Brunel invited her to Paris. ''I met Epstein through Brunel,'' she said. ''I stayed at Brunel's place in Paris and at night there were parties with older business friends of his and young, very young models and one night he gave me a drink and said we had to celebrate the start of my career in Paris.''
Fifteen minutes later, she said she knew something was wrong. ''I started to feel really strange and woozy and nauseous and not myself and then he took me to his bedroom and I couldn't even fight him and he raped me,'' she told The Daily Beast. ''I woke up the next day and the only thing I thought of was I had to escape his house and I took the first train out of Paris to Brussels and I never came back to Paris until last year when I went back to speak to the police and they took it really seriously.''
Huismann spent four and a half hours telling Paris police what happened. ''I had to go into all the details and relive it which was really heavy,'' she said. ''For all these years I had tried to forget but in your memory you have a lot of details especially from that night.''
Lisa Bloom, who represents Epstein victims, told The Daily Beast that ''one of the seven Jeffrey Epstein sexual assault victims I represent has alleged in our litigation that Jean-Luc Brunel trafficked her to Epstein...This took place in 2009, after Epstein's criminal conviction. We are very pleased that at long last Mr. Brunel is being brought to justice.''
Brunel said through lawyer last year he would answer questions about his relationship with Epstein. His lawyers denied that he was ''on the run'' and that he denies all allegations of impropriety. The DOJ officially declined to comment on whether they were independently investigating Brunel in their ongoing probe of Epstein and his associates in the U.S.
Lawyer David Boies, whose firm has represented Epstein's victims, noted, ''Jeffrey Epstein did not act alone. Today's arrest of Jean Luc Brunel is another important step in bringing to justice the men and women who participated in Epstein's international sex trafficking ring. This could not have happened without the courage and commitment of Epstein's survivors, and the dedication of prosecutors around the world.''
Brunel has also denied any business relationship with Epstein, who was allegedly the silent ''E'' in MC2 (referring to the theory of relativity). But Brunel did admit in court documents that the rich sex offender did extend him a $1 million line of credit to invest in a new business with Elite Models, registered at the address of Epstein's investment firm in New York. The Department of Justice officially declined to comment on Brunel's arrest and its ongoing Epstein probe.
''The victims have long awaited the arrest of Jean-Luc Brunel,'' said Anne-Claire Lejeune, a lawyer representing several of Brunel's alleged victims. ''They welcome this custody with relief, and confidence in the legal consequences that will be given. Their word finally takes on a meaning.''
With reporting from Erin Zaleski, Pilar Melendez, and Spencer Ackerman.
France detains ex-associate of Jeffrey Epstein over sex crime accusations | The Times of Israel
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:55
PARIS '-- Prominent French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, a former close associate of disgraced American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, has been detained in France on accusations of sex crimes, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Brunel was detained on Wednesday on accusations of rape, sexual assault of minors, human trafficking and being part of a criminal conspiracy, Paris prosecutors told AFP.
He was detained at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport as he was about to take a plane to Senegal, a source close to the case added.
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Epstein, who was arrested in New York in July on charges of trafficking underage girls for sex, was found hanged in his New York jail cell on August 10, 2019, while awaiting trial over abuses involving girls at his Palm Beach home and on his private island in the Caribbean.
Jeffrey Epstein, March 28, 2017. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
His ownership of an apartment in an upmarket Paris district and allegations from women who say they were abused in France prompted French prosecutors to open their own criminal probe in August.
The investigation opened by France into Epstein's activities has focused on Brunel, who was accused in American court documents of rape and of procuring young girls for his friend.
''The victims have long awaited the arrest of Jean-Luc Brunel. They welcome his detention with relief and with confidence in the legal process,'' said lawyer Anne-Claire Lejeune, who represents several victims.
''This is huge news. I am crying with joy,'' said Thysia Huisman, a former Dutch model who says she was ''drugged and raped'' by Brunel at the age of 18.
The detention at the airport of Brunel ends over a year of uncertainty and mystery over his whereabouts.
A man walks his dog next to an apartment building owned by Jeffrey Epstein in the 16th district in Paris, August 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Brunel's lawyer in October 2019 said he vehemently rejected allegations made in the press but denied his client was on the run, insisting he was available for questioning.
French police last year raided the offices of Karin Models, an agency founded by Brunel, and searched Epstein's luxury Paris home not far from the Arc de Triomphe.
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Steal the Vote
MI Sec of State Official Caught On Video Telling Volunteers To Count "Multiple Ballots with the very Same Signature" During "Audit" Of Votes In Antrim County
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 21:36
Constitutional Attorney Matthew DePerno is an American hero. Two weeks ago, Michigan 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin A Elsenheimer agreed to allow Mr. DePerno's client, William Bailey, and a highly skilled team of IT experts to perform a forensic examination on 16 of the Dominion voting machines in Antrim County. On Monday, Judge Elsenheimer agreed to allow the results of the forensic examination to be released to the public. The results were damning.
After the forensic examination of 16 Dominion Voting machines in Antrim, Co., MI, Allied Security Operations Group has concluded that the Dominion Voting machines were assigned a 68.05% error rate. DePerno explained that when ballots are put through the machine, a whopping 68.05% error rate means that 68.05% of the ballots are sent for bulk adjudication, which means they collect the ballots in a folder. ''The ballots are sent somewhere where people in another location can change the vote,'' DePerno explained. The allowable election error rate established by the Federal Election Commission guidelines is 1 in 250,000 ballots or .0008%.
Based on the Allied Security Operations report, Constitutional Attorney Matthew DePerno states: ''we conclude that The Dominion Voting System should not be used in Michigan. We further conclude that the results of Antrim County should not have been certified.
The stunning report was widely criticized by the Democrat Party mainstream media and by the dishonest Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
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Following the bombshell findings by Mr. DePerno and his team of IT experts, a ''risk-limited audit'' was ordered by Sec. of State Benson. Constitutional Attorney Matt DePerno was invited to observe the ''risk-limiting audit'' of Antrim County's vote that took place yesterday in the Kearney Twp. hall in Bellaire, MI., where 6 officials from the Secretary of State continuously walked around the room observing and correcting the counters who dared to stray from their objectives.
According to Verified Voting: The risk-limiting audit process can be conducted on any set of paper ballots that has a record of the number of ballots cast, how they are stored, and how to retrieve any particular ballot (ballot manifest). For an RLA to meaningfully support confidence in the reported election outcome, the standard is higher, and requires the following:
Paper ballots preferably marked by hand and supplemented with a ballot marking device for those who need to use one.A deliberate and intentional step for a voter to check the paper ballot for accuracy before casting the ballot (voter verification).
Rigorous ballot accounting and a properly maintained chain of custody of the ballots.
If photographic evidence proves seals on the Dominion voting machines were broken on November 27, how can a ''properly maintained chain of custody of ballots'' be assured. The answer is, it can't.
Before her so-called audit was completed, Sec of State Benson explained the purpose of the ''risk limited audit'' to the media while ensuring the integrity of the elections in Michigan:
''While we know the machine tabulators functioned properly in Antrim, we are conducting this audit to assure the public of what countless officials from both parties at the federal, state and local levels have already confirmed '' that this was the most secure election in our nation's history and the certified results are an accurate reflection of the will of the voters,'' adding, ''It is time for Michigan, and the nation to once and for all dismiss the meritless disinformation campaign that seeks to undermine the integrity of our election and move forward in support of our collective democracy.''
Mr. DePerno, who acted as an observer to the ''risk-limited audit,'' doesn't agree with Ms. Benson about the integrity of Michigan's election and has provided us with video and photographic evidence to prove that he was again able to debunk her statement about the ''most secure election in our nation's history.''
The first video provided by Matthew DePerno shows a bin of ballots from Mancelona Township, Precinct #1. The bin was delivered to three of the 20 bi-partisan volunteers that included several Antrim Co. city clerks who agreed to assist with the ''risk-limited audit.''
Inside the bin, tabulated ballots were mixed in with ballots that were never tabulated, and several blank ballots were mixed in as well. Mr. DePerno referred to the bin of ballots as ''an absolute mess!'' On December 16, we reported about photographs taken at Mancelona Township's Precinct #1 on November 27, 2020, that showed both of the security seals on the Dominion Voting machine were missing.
The second video was taken at a table where ballots were being counted in Helena Twp. The volunteers can be seen questioning why there were fewer ballots in the bin than the original number that was recorded in the previous recount? Shortly after asking the question, a male SOS official approached the table with a bag marked ''spoiled ballots'' and told them to count them. ATtorney Matt DePerno witnessed the unidentified male SOS rep pulling the ''spoiled ballot bag out of the bin and delivering it to the volunteers who were ''auditing'' the ballots. DePerno also witnessed the SOS official telling them to add the ''spoiled ballots'' to the count.
The third video was taken at a table where the ballots from Central Lake Twp. were being counted. In the video, a male counter can be seen questioning ''multiple ballots with the same signature.'' According to Matthew DePerno, 138 ballots had write-in-votes where the penmanship was exactly the same.
In the video below, the SOS official can be seen demanding that the counters ignore what they believe is voter fraud and count the ballots.
''We need to do the counts because if we don't have the counts, then we can't move forward. And we understand that there is a concern with this precinct'--but this is not a time for you to be investigating right now.''
''Did you find something else?'' the male counter asks.
''No,'' she replies, adding, ''So, you need to move forward with the audit, so we can get the numbers, so we can see how many ballots are here.''
The female counter asks, ''So when we're done with the audit, there's still the opportunity to challenge the fact that we have multiple ballots with the very same signature?'' she asks.
''I don't know if 'challenge' is the right word,'' the SOS official says.
''But we're challenging'--'' the volunteer says.
The male volunteer tells the SOS, ''We'll go ahead and count the ballots moving forward, but we will separate out, and count those'-- there's going to be an asterisk, saying 'these ballots have the same signature.'''
''And again, we know that you have a concern with this precinct,'' she tells them, explaining, ''That's not your role at this very moment,'' as she continues to push for them to ignore the multiple matching signatures and only count the ballots.
''What I need you to do right now is finish the audit,'' she tells them again. Both of the volunteers explain that they are going to make a note of the ballots, to which the SOS official replies, ''Again, that is not the process.''
The SOS official implores them to continue to count the presidential ballots.
At no point does the SOS official assure them that the issue of the multiple potentially fraudulent ballots will be addressed, but instead demands that they count them as if they were all legitimate ballots.
In this video, the SOS official can be seen telling the volunteers who are objecting to adding the ballots in question to the vote total, ''This is not an investigation right now!''
On December 16, one day after Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos testified in front of the MI Senate Oversight Committee, Mr. DePerno contacted us to say Poulos was incorrect in his statement that the ballots were securely stored. In fact, Mr. Derno provided us with photos showing seals were broken on one of the tabulators. DePerno explained, ''In Central Lake, the lock that protects the side data port where you can insert a thumb drive in order to perform a software upgrade, that could change the program, was missing.'' He explains, ''The missing lock gives the ability of any person, including a voter to change the Dominion Voting machine program.''Mr. DePerno explained to us that once the seals are broken, and the lock is removed, the integrity of the machines has been compromised. ''It definitely showed that someone had accessed the inside of the tabulator, and it no longer represents a secure voting platform,'' DePerno said.
The bin (or box) seen in the image below is where the ballots are stored. DePerno explained, ''If you remove the tape, it gives you the ability to separate the tabulator from the box that contains the ballots.''
The photo below shows the stack of ballots in Central Lake that were cast for Joe Biden. The ballots that are pulled forward are all ballots that the counters pulled forward after objecting to the legitimacy of the ballots.
Mr. DePerno was stunned by the number of blank ballots that were mixed in with actual ballots, saying that he believes he observed more blank ballots in the recount than there are registered voters in Antrim County.
DePerno told us, ''The guidelines from RLA were not followed. What they did yesterday was not an audit under those guidelines. It was a hand recount of the presidential race only and failed to address many of the problems with down-ballot races. Members of the public who assisted in the hand recount were not allowed to ask any questions or question any ballots. This hand recount also failed to address any of the glaring problems from the erroneous counts conducted on November 3 and November 6. Yesterday was nothing more than political theatre designed to allow the Secretary of State to again publish the same false narrative to the Michigan voters. Yesterday, when the people conducting the count dared ask questions, they were shut down.''
DePerno's forensic and photographic evidence should be enough to call the entire Michigan election into question. Will the media or the courts care, or have we now entered a period in our nation's history where we have officially become a Banana Republica after decades of Republicans ignoring the corruption of our media and our judicial system.
Suspicious? Dominion warned memory cards might need to be prematurely removed from voting machines | Just The News
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 21:34
Dominion Voting Systems issued a warning to Georgia officials prior to the 2020 election that memory cards might need to be removed from vote tabulation machines prior to the end of the election to deal with a limitation in its system, according to records obtained by Just the News through an open-records request.
Officials acknowledged Thursday at least 36 memory cards had to be prematurely removed from vote tabulating machines in the Atlanta area that had reached counting limits. The cards were stored in a locked cabinet until polls closed, officials said.
Dominion, which has fiercely defended its technology since Election Day, issued the "customer advisory" on Oct. 26, according to a "bulletin" sent to county election officials from Georgia Elections Division Director Chris Harvey. The memo was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from Just the News to Fulton County, home to Atlanta, Georgia's largest city.
"Dominion Voting released a customer advisory yesterday stating that when an ImageCast Precinct (ICP) Tabulator reaches approximately 10,000 ballots cast for a single election, a message will appear that reads, 'Maximum Ballot Capacity Reached'," Harvey wrote in the memo.
Harvey directed officials to follow one of two policies outlined by Dominion "if [they] believe that a single ICP will reach 10,000 ballots cast." One of those was a directive to "remove the original memory cards from the tabulator that has reached or is nearing maximum capacity" and install new memory cards into it.
Harvey's memo directed officials to refrain from closing the polls on the cards "until 7:00 p.m. on Election Night" and to "store the memory cards securely."
In attached instructions coming directly from Dominion, the company as part of that protocol directed workers to "remove the original memory cards and for store [sic] tabulation at the appropriate time." Those instructions do not mention anything about secure storage.
The Secretary of State's office declined to comment on the state's implementation of Dominion's memory card directives, though the office said it had gone to significant lengths to ensure the integrity of both Dominion's machines and the election in general.
An official with Dominion, meanwhile, on Thursday evening gave a statement via email through Fulton County spokeswoman Regina Waller.
"Due to the amount of races that were on the November 2020 ballot and the large number of early voting polling sites that we have in Fulton County, the Dominion ICX scanner had the memory to hold ballot images of about 5,000 ballots," the official said. "After my staff and I did the test to confirm that the max was 5,000 ballots, we consulted upper management and made the determination that we would swap out memory cards at 3,000 ballots. We swapped out memory cards 36 times during the early voting period.
"For security, each set of memory cards was placed in a secure memory card bag that was locked and sealed and then placed in a locked cabinet," the official continued. "The memory cards were locked in the cabinet until election night after the polls closed at 7pm. At this time the cabinet was unlocked, the seals were broken on each bag and each memory card was uploaded into the Election Management System for tabulation."
Waller did not immediately respond when asked who exactly had given that statement, nor why Fulton County's machines apparently only had the capability to handle half the ballot capacity as had the tabulators mentioned in Harvey's memo.
The recently revealed directive throws new light on memory card-related controversies that have arisen in Georgia since the 2020 election last month.
In Walton County, Ga., officials discovered a memory card with nearly 300 votes on it several weeks after the election.
Around the same time, officials discovered a memory card with a similar number of votes in Douglas County.
In Fayette County, authorities found a memory card with over 2,700 votes on it, while in Floyd County officials found one memory card with 2,600 votes uncounted.
This was the first year that Georgia used Dominion to implement and process its elections. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced in 2019 that the state had selected Dominion as its voting vendor. Raffensperger in that announcement described the firm as a "security-focused tech company."
In addition to the card-removal protocol, Dominion in its Oct. 26 advisory also offered election officials the opportunity to add more tabulators to their election setups rather than deploy new memory cards on original tabulators. That approach was the "preferred" option in Georgia, according to Harvey's memo.
The Establishment Strikes Back - The American Prospect
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 22:31
Committee assignments are one of the least eye-catching parts of politics, but they're also one of the most important ways in which actual political power is wielded. Certain committees in the House, like Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Appropriations, have outsized influence and money power. (They are often called the ''money'' committees, not just because they're where the action is but because members can earn lots of money in campaign contributions from industries with business before them.)
Deliberations over the next several days will be extremely important for progressives in the House, as they angle to lock down seats on these powerful committees for their members. To that end, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was expected to secure a prized position on the Energy and Commerce Committee, a seat vacated by outgoing New Yorker Eliot Engel. Among other issues, the committee has jurisdiction over health care and climate change issues, a natural for a congresswoman who has championed Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
Ocasio-Cortez was expected to cruise comfortably to the position. She was the first to raise her hand for the seat, and she won the backing of dean of the New York delegation Rep. Jerry Nadler. But last week, as Politico reported, Long Islander Kathleen Rice made an out-of-nowhere, last-second bid for the seat, interrupting the process. Rep. Rice is a backbencher from the party's right flank who, in 2018, refused to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Without the support of Nadler, and with the famous opposition of Steering Committee leader Pelosi, Rice's attempt didn't seem to be serious.
More from Alexander Sammon
But in a surprise, last-second Steering Committee meeting on exclusive committee assignments Thursday, which was scheduled at 10 p.m. the night before, centrist Democrats put on a show of support for Rice and against AOC, in what looks to have been a process-defying attempt to keep AOC out of the seat. Fellow New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries came out in support of Rice, contra Nadler, as did Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).
Most vocal in his opposition to Ocasio-Cortez's candidacy was Texas's Henry Cuellar, the caucus's most conservative member. After Ocasio-Cortez was nominated and seconded, Cuellar opposed, commenting: ''I'm taking into account who pays their dues and who doesn't work against other members whether in primaries or in other contexts,'' according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. After Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) called for a vote on the two candidates came an unusual outcome: Rice crushed AOC 46-13.
Many of the representatives that came out most forcefully against Ocasio-Cortez have close ties to oil and gas.
A similar situation existed with the Energy and Commerce Committee seat vacated by incoming New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujan. That seat was expected to go to progressive Texan Sylvia Garcia, but was contested by her moderate colleague from Texas, Lizzie Fletcher. Garcia, the other priority for progressives in Energy and Commerce, was left off the slate without even a vote. Fletcher, who has a troubling track record on unions, got endorsed by Pelosi. The Texas AFL-CIO famously came out against Fletcher's candidacy for Congress, and declined to endorse her even against a Republican incumbent.
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The result is both a resounding and surprising defeat for progressives, who just days ago had no reason to believe both Ocasio-Cortez and Garcia would be left off the committee, or even that this would be settled this week.
Many of the representatives who came out most forcefully against Ocasio-Cortez have close ties to oil and gas, especially Cuellar. But perhaps more important was Cuellar's personal opposition to AOC, as evidenced by his statement. Ocasio-Cortez backed Cuellar's primary challenger, 27-year-old progressive Jessica Cisneros, in March's primary. Cuellar won narrowly, with backing from the Koch political network and some last-minute campaigning from Speaker Pelosi herself, despite the fact that Cuellar regularly votes against the Democratic caucus and has routinely fundraised for Republicans. According to multiple people familiar with the proceedings, Ocasio-Cortez's recent interview with The Intercept, where she said Speaker Pelosi needed to go, though there was no one to replace her, loomed over the proceedings.
Rice's triumph is especially surprising, given that she is not known to be well liked within the caucus. She made powerful enemies of Pelosi and Nadler, and was shut out of a much-desired spot on the House Judiciary Committee just two years ago, because of her refusal to back Pelosi's speakership in 2018. It's unclear how her selection might influence her vote this time around. AOC, meanwhile, voted for Pelosi's speakership.
It's not the first time Ocasio-Cortez has been frozen out of Energy and Commerce. In 2018, she made a play for a vacant seat, only to be turned away on the grounds that it couldn't go to a freshman. It was given to sophomore Tom Suozzi instead.
Sylvia Garcia, meanwhile, was expected to be a priority for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, given that the seat was once held by Lujan, a Latino. But in a meeting last week, it was Cuellar who again voiced opposition, leading some to believe that the seat would not be filled by a representative from the state at all.
There are plenty of committee assignments left to be announced, and progressives did win a handful of priority appointments on the money committees. New York Rep. Ritchie Torres got a spot on Financial Services, and Adriano Espaillat made it onto Appropriations. But the treatment of AOC and Garcia looks like a shot across the bow that will have progressives on high alert. If other committee assignments go this way, it will become an open question as to whether a newly united progressive bloc will oppose Pelosi's speakership come January 3.
This story has been updated to clarify the nature of a report on fracking co-authored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).
December 18, 2020
10:41 AM
Titania McGrath on Twitter: "IMPORTANT THREAD 🧵👇 Many people scoff at my progressive ideas and predictions. But eventually, they *always* come true. So I thought I'd start compiling a list of every time I was ahead of the curve..." / Twitter
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 03:58
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Sun Dec 20 03:15:48 +0000 2020
Green New Dill
Was there ever life on Venus? | World Economic Forum
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:52
The planet Venus once likely had surface temperatures similar to present-day Earth, recent modelling has revealed. It probably also had oceans, rain, perhaps snow, maybe continents and plate tectonics. But Venus's climate was permanently altered when catastrophic volcanic eruptions released vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Could Venus's fate hold stark lessons for us here on Earth? We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of 450'ƒ (the temperature of an oven's self-cleaning cycle) and an atmosphere dominated by carbon dioxide (96 per cent) with a density 90 times that of Earth's.
Venus is a very strange place, totally uninhabitable, except perhaps in the clouds some 60 kilometres up where the recent discovery of phosphine may suggest floating microbial life. But the surface is totally inhospitable.
However, Venus once likely had an Earth-like climate. According to recent climate modelling, for much of its history Venus had surface temperatures similar to present day Earth. It likely also had oceans, rain, perhaps snow, maybe continents and plate tectonics, and even more speculatively, perhaps even surface life.
Less than one billion years ago, the climate dramatically changed due to a runaway greenhouse effect. It can be speculated that an intensive period of volcanism pumped enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to cause this great climate change event that evaporated the oceans and caused the end of the water cycle.
Evidence of change
This hypothesis from the climate modellers inspired Sara Khawja, a master's student in my group (co-supervised with geoscientist Claire Samson), to look for evidence in Venusian rocks for this proposed climatic change event.
Since the early 1990s, my Carleton University research team '-- and more recently my Siberian team at Tomsk State University '-- have been mapping and interpreting the geological and tectonic history of Earth's remarkable sister planet.
Soviet Venera and Vega missions of the 1970s and 1980s did land on Venus and take pictures and evaluated the composition of the rocks, before the landers failed due to the high temperature and pressure. However, our most comprehensive view of the surface of Venus has been provided by NASA's Magellan spacecraft in the early 1990s, which used radar to see through the dense cloud layer and produce detailed images of more than 98 per cent of Venus's surface.
Ancient rocks
Our search for geological evidence of the great climate change event led us to focus on the oldest type of rocks on Venus, called tesserae, which have a complex appearance suggestive of a long, complicated geological history. We thought that these oldest rocks had the best chance of preserving evidence of water erosion, which is a such an important process on Earth and should have occurred on Venus prior to the great climate change event.
Given poor resolution altitude data, we used an indirect technique to try to recognize ancient river valleys. We demonstrated that younger lava flows from the surrounding volcanic plains had filled valleys in the margins of tesserae.
To our astonishment these tesserae valley patterns were very similar to river flow patterns on Earth, leading to our suggestion that these tesserae valleys were formed by river erosion during a time with Earth-like climatic conditions. My Venus research groups at Carleton and Tomsk State universities are studying the post-tesserae lava flows for any geological evidence of the transition to extremely hot conditions.
A portion of Alpha Regio, a topographic upland on the surface of Venus.
Image: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA
Earth analogies
In order to understand how volcanism on Venus could produce such a change in climate, we can look to Earth history for analogues. We can find analogies in super-eruptions like the last eruption at Yellowstone that occurred 630,000 years.
But such volcanism is small compared to large igneous provinces (LIPs) that occur approximately every 20-30 million years. These eruption events can release enough carbon dioxide to cause catastrophic climate change on Earth, including mass extinctions. To give you a sense of scale, consider that the smallest LIPs produce enough magma to cover all of Canada to a depth of about 10 metres. The largest known LIP produced enough magma that would have covered an area the size of Canada to a depth of nearly eight kilometres.
The LIP analogues on Venus include individual volcanoes that are up to 500 kilometres across, extensive lava channels that reach up to 7,000 kilometres long, and there are also associated rift systems '-- where the crust is pulling apart '-- up to 10,000 kilometres long.
If LIP-style volcanism was the cause of the great climate change event on Venus, then could similar climate change happen on Earth? We can imagine a scenario many millions of years in the future when multiple LIPs randomly occurring at the same time could cause Earth to have such runaway climate change leading to conditions like present-day Venus.
License and Republishing
World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.
Written by
Richard Ernst, Scientist-in-Residence, Earth Sciences, Carleton University
This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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Planned Harvard balloon test stirs solar geoengineering unease
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 04:17
An early experiment toward using sun-dimming technology to cool global warming has opponents fearing a slippery slope toward engineering the climate(Removes typo in paragraph 11)
By Alister Doyle
OSLO, Dec 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Harvard University scientists plan to fly a test balloon above Sweden next year to help advance research into dimming sunlight to cool the Earth, alarming environmentalists opposed to solar geoengineering.
Open-air research into spraying tiny, sun-reflecting particles into the stratosphere, to offset global warming, has been stalled for years by controversies - including that it could discourage needed cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
In a small step, the Swedish Space Corporation agreed this week to help Harvard researchers launch a balloon near the Arctic town of Kiruna next June. It would carry a gondola with 600 kg of scientific equipment 20 km (12 miles) high.
"There are very many real concerns" about the risks of climate change and solar geoengineering, said David Keith, who is involved in the project and is a professor of applied physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
"Understanding them requires a range of activities including experiments," said Keith, who is also a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
The unmanned flight had originally been planned for the United States but was moved, partly because of U.S. restrictions caused by coronavirus.
The flight, which requires approval from a Harvard project advisory committee, will test how to manoeuvre the balloon and check communications equipment and other systems. It would not release any particles into the stratosphere.
Still, if successful, it could be a step towards an experiment, perhaps in the autumn of 2021 or spring of 2022, to release a tiny amount '' up to 2 kg - of non-toxic calcium carbonate dust into the atmosphere, Keith said.
Studying that material's effects on high-altitude sunlight could help advance understand of how solar geoengineering might work.
But opponents see the Swedish balloon as a step on a slippery slope towards engineering the climate with an artificial sunshade - something with potentially large and hard-to-predict risks, such as shifts in global rain patterns.
"There is no merit in this test except to enable the next step. You can't test the trigger of a bomb and say 'This can't possibly do any harm'," said Niclas H¤llstr¶m, director of the Swedish green think-tank WhatNext?
"Swedish society is increasingly calling for real, immediate solutions to climate change," he said - such as a rapid transformation away from fossil fuels and toward a zero-carbon society.
He said the Harvard project "represents the polar opposite", as it could create the impression that continuing use of fossil fuels is possible.
Lili Fuhr, head of the international environmental policy division at the Heinrich B¶ll Foundation in Germany, also said the plan was "crossing an important political red line."
"They don't want to stop at this small experiment. The reason is to get bigger experiments," she said.
She and H¤llstr¶m said the plan would violate a global 2010 moratorium on geoengineering under the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity.
That non-binding moratorium, however, allows exemptions for small-scale scientific research studies.
Officials of the Harvard project, the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), said they did not believe it needed any special approval from Sweden for the flight.
SCoPEx said about 300 similar stratospheric balloons were launched worldwide in 2019. Backers of SCoPEx include Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Anni Bolenius, spokeswoman for the Swedish Space Corporation, also said "We comply with all applicable international and national legislations."
Janos Pasztor, executive director of the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative, praised the openness of the Harvard step-by-step approach.
"Let's not exaggerate and over-react on the critical negative side," he urged, saying the Swedish test could help society debate and understand the urgency of addressing climate change.
The Carnegie project says it is impartial about the potential use of climate-altering technologies but wants to ensure robust governance.
Proponents of solar geoengineering, also known as solar radiation modification, say deployment of the technology could be a shortcut to slow a rise in global temperatures that is stoking more heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and rising sea levels as billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.
But opponents fear that it could undermine commitments to act under the 2015 Paris climate agreement and could have unwanted side-effects.
It would also, for instance, do nothing to slow a build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is turning the world's oceans increasingly acidic.
Keith said that it made sense to study solar geoengineering.
"There is a long history of people doing research on things that were socially unpopular at the time that we now see as important," he said, such as birth control.
Read more:
Proposal for U.N. to study climate-cooling technologies rejected
Governments seek U.N. scrutiny of technologies to cool the climate
As climate risks rise, scientists call for rules on solar geoengineering
(Reporting by Alister Doyle ; editing by Laurie Goering : (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Russia Gate
Declassified Strzok Texts: FBI Spied On Fox News, Recorded Phone Call Between Fox VP And Papadopoulos
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:53
New text messages released Thursday show FBI officials spied on a Fox News executive over the course of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation that targeted President Donald Trump as a secret Russian agent who illegally stole the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016. The FBI surveilled and recorded a phone call between former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and an unnamed vice president at Fox News, according to a text message sent to fired former FBI official Peter Strzok just weeks before Trump was inaugurated as president in 2017.
Agents were targeting former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, who later pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents during the Russian collusion investigation. The FBI used the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, as a legal pretext to investigate and spy on Papadopoulos, as well as former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and former Trump affiliate Carter Page.
''I know you're not point on this anymore, but [George Papadopoulos] got a call from the VP at Fox News yesterday, who advised that the government was conducting 'checks' on him a few months back,'' an unidentified individual whose name is redacted in the report texted to Strzok on January 12, 2017. ''I haven't listed to the exact audio, but I'm guess[ing] that's the FARA checks that we did with DOJ on our 4 main guys; especially given the article that you pushed yesterday.''
Neither the individual who sent the message to Strzok nor the Fox News executive was named in any of the text messages released on Thursday by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. Strzok was fired from the FBI in 2018 after text messages surfaced showing that he used the Russia collusion investigations as an ''insurance policy'' to get rid of Trump in the event he became president. The FBI named its investigation of Papadopoulos ''Crossfire Typhoon.''
Because the Obama DOJ never received a warrant to spy on Papadopoulos, it is likely that the FBI used a so-called National Security Letter to spy on Papadopoulos and Fox News. By using a National Security Letter, a demand sent to telecommunications firms to provide communications information about a specific federal target, Obama's DOJ and FBI were able to avoid legal requirements to receive a court-approved warrant to secretly spy on an American citizen.
Papadopoulos did not respond to The Federalist's request for details about the phone call.
The Obama administration previously targeted former Fox News Washington Correspondent James Rosen in 2010, falsely claiming the Fox reporter was a potential terrorist co-conspirator in order to track Rosen's movements, telephone records, and personal e-mails. According to Fox News, the Obama White House even seized records containing the phone numbers of Rosen's parents over the course of the federal inquisition into Rosen. The Obama DOJ falsely accused Rosen of violating the Espionage Act, suggesting that he was a traitor to the United States in order to get access to his phone calls and e-mails.
Although members of the corporate media repeatedly claimed that Trump's criticism of journalists on Twitter constituted a violent attack on the First Amendment and the free press, no corporate media outlets have criticized the Obama administration for secretly recording phone calls with a cable news network executive without even bothering to seek a warrant.
AG Bill Barr says CIA did NOT 'spy' on Donald Trump's campaign
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 14:54
By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S. Political Editor For Dailymail.com 23:21 18 Dec 2020, updated 23:32 18 Dec 2020
'The CIA stayed in its lane,' Barr said in an interviewSaid Durham probe will focus on FBI's role in crossfire hurricane probeDefended overriding prosecutors to seek lighter sentence for Roger Stone Also defends decision not to publicly reveal Hunter Biden probe Trump ousted Barr this week; his term ends before Christmas Attorney general Barr is reflecting on the calls he made that benefitted President Trump and a few that didn't in his final days in office '' as he said the CIA didn't stray beyond its international spy brief in 2016.
Barr told the Wall Street Journal he was suspicious that CIA agents '' who are barred from spying on Americans '' had spied on President Trump's campaign. The president repeatedly alleged publicly he was spied on.
But according to Barr, it didn't happen. 'The CIA stayed in its lane,' he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.
Attorney General William Barr defended his tenure in an interview during his final days in officeBefore his controversial decision to designate U.S. attorney John Durham to probe the origins of the Russia probe, Barr concluded he didn't 'see any sign of improper CIA activity' or 'foreign government activity before July 2016,' he told the paper.
The Durham probe is focused on alleged FBI misconduct. It's work continues, and in a protected fashion thanks in part to Barr's decision to designate Durham as a special counsel '' something he did not reveal until after the election.
The probe has a narrow focus on 'the conduct of Crossfire Hurricane, the small group at the FBI that was most involved in that,' he said, in reference to the Russia probe, 'the activities of certain private actors.'
To date only one person, an FBI lawyer, has been charged, despite the president's public push for action before the election.
Democrats accuse Barr of acting like President Trump's personal lawyer Barr said the CIA 'stayed in its lane' and didn't spy on Trump. He said U.S. Attorney John Durham's probe was narrowly focused Barr said US Attorney John Durham's probe was narrowly focused Barr defended the decision to overrule career prosecutors on Roger Stone's sentencingDemocrats have accused Barr of acting like Trump's personal lawyer, and he defended a range of his decisions. On Monday, Trump announced that Barr was resigning, and the ouster followed public and private fuming by Trump about Barr.
The initial 2017 time the FBI interviewed Flynn in the Russia probe had 'no legitimate investigative basis,' said Barr. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents during the White House talk. On Thursday, he called for Trump to impose martial law and rerun elections in states he lost - weeks after Trump gave him a presidential pardon.
Barr called the case 'entirely bogus. 'It was analogous right now to DOJ prosecuting the person Biden named as his national security adviser for communication with a foreign government.'
The person Flynn lied about communicating with was then Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The topic was sanctions the Obama administration imposed for election hacking. U.S. officials think Russia is behind a massive hack only discovered this week involving the Pentagon and even U.S. nuclear programs.
Barr defended his decision to overrule career prosecutors '' some of whom quit '' over prosecuting Trump associate Roger Stone. He said he didn't 'go looking' to get involved in the case, which Trump tweeted about repeatedly.
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But he bristled that special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors 'wanted a penalty for him that was unprecedented and outlandish.'
'I wasn't going to have the department seek such a harsh penalty,' he said. After the switch, Stone got a much lighter sentence '' and Trump ended up commuting it.
He also defended his decision not to publicly reveal a probe into Hunter Biden. Revelations that he had done so preceded coincided with his ouster.
DOJ guidelines prohibit public actions that might interfere in an election.
Barr said there are 'damn good reason for the rule.' He added: 'Think about the power it would give the federal bureaucracy. The standard for investigating someone is low. So just gin up an investigation, make it public, affect every election.'
Barr also dismissed the Mueller probe, and brushed off evidence showing Trump campaign contacts with Russians, such as a Trump tower meeting to get 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton, and Stone's claims that he had a channel of communications with WikiLeaks, which U.S. intelligence believe is a conduit for Russian intelligence.
'Of course the Russians did bad things in the election,' said Barr. 'But the idea that this was done with the collusion of the Trump campaign'--there was never any evidence. It was entirely made up,' said Barr.
Freedom of Speech!
Woke folk, beware! Freedom of speech includes the right to offend, say judges in landmark ruling | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:54
Judges have insisted that freedom of speech includes the 'right to offend' in a landmark ruling which could help to turn the tide on 'woke' intolerance after a feminist who called a transgender woman a 'pig in a wig' and a 'man' was cleared.
Presiding over a case in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby said: 'Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.'
They added that 'free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another'. The judgment from two senior members of the judiciary will set a precedent for future cases involving freedom of speech.
The ruling has emerged only now, but came in the successful appeal decided last week in favour of mother-of-two Kate Scottow, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, after she had been found guilty under the 2003 Communications Act earlier in the year.
Miss Scottow told The Daily Telegraph: 'It was necessary to enshrine one of the most fundamental rights of every living being in a democratic society '' the right to freedom of speech that is now routinely attacked...' But Miss Hayden said: 'This is... a kick in the teeth to the entire LGBT community.'
The ruling has emerged only now, but came in the successful appeal decided last week in favour of mother-of-two Ms Scottow (right), from Hitchin in Hertfordshire. She was accused of describing Stephanie Hayden (pictured left), a transgender woman, as a 'pig in a wig' alongside a number of offensive and upsetting tweets
Presiding over a case in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby said: 'Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.' Pictured, supporters of Kate Scottow protesting outside court earlier this year
Presiding over a case in the UK's Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Bean (left) and Mr Justice Warby (right) said: 'Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.'
Ms Hayden (pictured) had insisted Ms Scottow was bound by law to refer to her as a woman. She argued that the defendant was guilty of 'harassment' and had 'misgendered' her just 'to annoy people like me'
Miss Scottow was arrested in 2018 and taken from her children and into custody after referring to trans woman Stefanie Hayden as a man, a 'racist' and a 'pig in the wig'. Miss Hayden, 47, reported the online remarks to police.
She had been arrested by three police officers in 2019 at her home in Pirton near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in front of her daughter, 10, and son, 20 months. Boris Johnson later called it an abuse of power.
In February this year radical feminist Miss Scottow, 40, was handed a two-year conditional discharge, and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation, with district judge Margaret Dodds telling her: 'Your comments contributed nothing to a debate. We teach children to be kind to each other and not to call each other names in the playground.'
But, overturning the decision, Mr Justice Warby explained that the relevant parts of the Communications Act 'were not intended by Parliament to criminalise forms of expression, the content of which is no worse than annoying or inconvenient in nature'.
Mr Justice Warby also suggested that the prosecution had been an 'unjustified state interference with free speech'.
Lord Justice Bean said the appeal illustrated the need for decision-makers in the criminal justice system to have regard to issues of freedom of speech.
The two appeal judges, who outlined their reasoning in a written ruling published on Wednesday, said prosecutors had not obtained 'all the contextual material for the offending messages', and had presented the case in a 'somewhat disorderly way' at the trial.
Mrs Scottow's arrest came after a complaint by transgender activist Stephanie Hayden (left). Boris Johnson said at the time that sending three officers to deal with the case and holding Ms Scottow for seven hours was an 'abuse of manpower' at a time when violent crime is increasing
Female prisoner who was sexually assaulted bidding to ban trans inmates from women's jails In 2019, HMP Downview became the first UK prison to have a dedicated wing for transgender inmates. It was introduced after a trans prisoner at a different jail assaulted two other female inmates [File photo]
A female prisoner who was sexually assaulted by a trans inmate has launched a challenge against the policy of keeping such offenders in women's prisons, it emerged last month.
She was attacked by an inmate who identified as female but had not had reassignment surgery.
The trans woman had convictions for serious sexual offences.
Yet the offender was still put in a women's jail, Downview in Surrey.
A judicial review will seek to overturn government policy which allows men who have been awarded a gender recognition certificate from being housed in female prisons.
The landmark case will argue the Government is breaching equality law.
It will focus on trans women inmates who have committed sexual or violent crime.
Activist Miss Hayden, who began medically transitioning in 2007 and was given a gender recognition certificate in 2018, won a landmark case at the High Court in April last year when website Mumsnet was forced to reveal the identity of an anonymous user who had been accused of bullying her online.
In February Ms Scottow, 39, was found guilty of persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and anxiety to Stephanie Hayden, 48, between September 2018 and last May.
The 'radical feminist' was accused of deliberately 'misgendering' Ms Hayden by referring to her as 'he' or 'him' during a period of 'significant online abuse'.
Throughout the trial her supporters gathered outside St Albans Magistrates' Court to protest the verdict, chanting 'pig in a wig' and 'he's a man - go on prosecute me'.
Holding banners which read 'we love free speech', the mob tied scarves in the Suffragettes' purple, green, and white to lampposts outside the courthouse.
But Ms Hayden argued the defendant was guilty of 'harassment' and had 'misgendered' her 'to annoy people like me', adding: 'It's calculated to violate my dignity as a woman.'
Trumpeting her Gender Recognition Certificate, the complainant told the court how Ms Scottow was bound by law to refer to her as a woman. Ms Scottow was handed a two-year conditional discharge, and was ordered by the court to pay £1,000 compensation within six months.
But now after a successful appeal the prosecution has been quashed.
In a separate incident Father Ted creator Graham Linehan was given a verbal harassment warning by West Yorkshire Police after Miss Hayden reported him for referring to her by previous names and pronouns on Twitter in 2018.
Police faced a backlash for phoning a 74-year-old woman to warn her that her online posts about gender identity had offended transgender people.
Former local journalist Margaret Nelson wrote in her blog that if a transgender person's body was dissected post-mortem, 'his or her sex would be obvious to a student or pathologist'.
But she was later contacted by Suffolk Police, who woke her with a morning phone call, telling her the comments had provoked complaints from members of the trans community.
Exfiltrating Data from Air-Gapped Computers via Wi-Fi Signals (Without Wi-Fi Hardware)
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:58
A security researcher has demonstrated that sensitive data could be exfiltrated from air-gapped computers via a novel technique that leverages Wi-Fi signals as a covert channel'--surprisingly, without requiring the presence of Wi-Fi hardware on the targeted systems.
Dubbed "AIR-FI," the attack hinges on deploying a specially designed malware in a compromised system that exploits "DDR SDRAM buses to generate electromagnetic emissions in the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi bands" and transmitting information atop these frequencies that can then be intercepted and decoded by nearby Wi-Fi capable devices such as smartphones, laptops, and IoT devices before sending the data to remote servers controlled by an attacker.
The findings were published today in a paper titled "AIR-FI: Generating Covert Wi-Fi Signals from Air-Gapped Computers" by Dr. Mordechai Guri, the head of R&D at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Cyber-Security Research Center, Israel.
"The AIR-FI attack [...] does not require Wi-Fi related hardware in the air-gapped computers," Dr. Guri outlined.
"Instead, an attacker can exploit the DDR SDRAM buses to generate electromagnetic emissions in the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi bands and encode binary data on top of it."
Dr. Guri, earlier this May, also demonstrated POWER-SUPPLaY, a separate mechanism that allows the malware to exploit a computer's power supply unit (PSU) to play sounds and use it as an out-of-band, secondary speaker to leak data.
Air-gapped computers '-- machines with no network interfaces '-- are considered a necessity in environments where sensitive data is involved in an attempt to reduce the risk of data leakage.
Thus in order to carry out attacks against such systems, it is often essential that the transmitting and receiving machines be located in close physical proximity to one another and that they are infected with the appropriate malware to establish the communication link.
But AIR-FI is unique in that the method neither relies on a Wi-Fi transmitter to generate signals nor requires kernel drivers, special privileges such as root, or access to hardware resources to transmit the data.
What's more, the covert channel works even from within an isolated virtual machine and has an endless list of Wi-Fi enabled devices that can be hacked by an attacker to act as a potential receiver.
The kill chain in itself consists of an air-gapped computer onto which the malware is deployed via social engineering lures, self-propagating worms such as Agent.BTZ, tampered USB flash drives, or even with the help of malicious insiders.
It also requires infecting Wi-Fi capable devices co-located in the air-gapped network by compromising the firmware of the Wi-Fi chips to install malware capable of detecting and decoding the AIR-FI transmission and exfiltrating the data over the Internet.
With this setup in place, the malware on the target system collects the relevant data (e.g., confidential documents, credentials, encryption keys), which is then encoded and transmitted in the Wi-Fi band at 2.4 GHz frequency using the electromagnetic emissions generated from the DDR SDRAM buses used to exchange data between the CPU and the memory, thus defeating air-gap isolation.
To generate the Wi-Fi signals, the attack makes use of the data bus (or memory bus) to emit electromagnetic radiation at a frequency correlated to the DDR memory module and the memory read/write operations executed by processes currently running in the system.
AIR-FI was evaluated using four types of workstations with different RAM and hardware configurations as well as a software-defined radio (SDR) and a USB Wi-Fi network adapter that functioned as the receiver, finding that the covert channel can be effectively maintained at distances up to several meters from air-gapped computers and achieving bit rates ranging from 1 to 100 bit/sec, depending on the type and mode of receiver used.
If anything, the new research is yet another reminder that electromagnetic, acoustic, thermal, and optical components continue to be lucrative vectors to mount sophisticated exfiltration attacks against air-gapped facilities.
As a countermeasure, Dr. Guri proposes zone protections to safeguard against electromagnetic attacks, enabling intrusion detection systems to monitor and inspect for processes that perform intensive memory transfer operations, jamming the signals, and using Faraday shields to block the covert channel.
The AIR-FI malware shows "how attackers can exfiltrate data from air-gapped computers to a nearby Wi-Fi receiver via Wi-Fi signals," he added.
"Modern IT environments are equipped with many types of Wi-Fi capable devices: smartphones, laptops, IoT devices, sensors, embedded systems, and smart watches, and other wearables devices. The attacker can potentially hack such equipment to receive the AIR-FI transmissions from air-gapped computers."
Executive Order Promoting Redemption of Savings Bonds | The White House
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 06:25
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. Since 1935, the Department of the Treasury (Department) has issued savings bonds to the American public. Backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government, these bonds are extremely safe investments that were designed to be accessible even to inexperienced investors. Indeed, over the years, savings bonds have proved to be a popular birthday or graduation gift, helping introduce younger Americans to the rewards of investing in our country's future. Among other things, savings bonds provided the United States with a critical source of financing during World War II.
By law, savings bonds never expire, and there is no deadline for owners to redeem them. It is currently estimated that more than 75 million matured savings bonds, issued as far back as 1935, remain unredeemed. The total value of these unredeemed savings bonds is approximately $27 billion.
Above and beyond any legal requirements applicable to savings bonds, the Department should take all appropriate action to make sure that those Americans who invested in the future success of their country have the opportunity to receive the remuneration to which they are lawfully entitled. Under my Administration, the Department has already undertaken significant measures to reunite matured savings bonds with their rightful owners. For example, the Department in 2019 released an online tool known as ''Treasury Hunt'' to help individuals determine if they are the owners of matured unredeemed savings bonds. This order is the next step in ensuring that owners of matured savings bonds have a full opportunity to redeem their bonds.
Sec. 2. Updating Records. The Department shall work to digitize and make electronically searchable sufficient information to identify the registered owner of any matured unredeemed savings bond, including the name and registered address of such owner and of any registered beneficiaries. In particular, the Department shall complete its ongoing pilot project to assess the feasibility and cost of digitizing and making these records searchable and accessible, which is being carried out in conjunction with multiple vendors, before the end of calendar year 2020. If the pilot project is successful, a vendor shall be selected to begin digitizing savings bond records. When digitizing records, the Department shall, to the extent feasible, focus first on the bond-issuance years that represent the highest percentage of matured unredeemed debt.
Sec. 3. Information Accessibility. Within 30 days of beginning to receive data from the digitization of records described in section 2 of this order, the Department shall incorporate into the data accessible through Treasury Hunt information collected from the digitized records, in a secure manner and consistent with applicable law, including the Privacy Act. The Department shall work to ensure that this information can be used through Treasury Hunt to help individuals determine if they are the owners of matured unredeemed savings bonds.
Sec. 4. Customer Research. The Department shall conduct customer research to determine why individuals do not redeem savings bonds upon maturity, any barriers individuals encounter when they do attempt to redeem their bonds, and the feasibility of modifying redemption methods or developing alternative redemption methods in order to mitigate, overcome, or avoid any such barriers.
Sec. 5. Collaboration with States. The Department shall engage with States and State associations to obtain additional data and information to help the Department identify owners of unredeemed bonds, to learn best practices employed by the States regarding the redemption of mature bonds, and to encourage the States to add direct links to Treasury Hunt to States' unclaimed property websites or other appropriate State publications or information portals.
Sec. 6. Public Reporting. Within 6 months of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Treasury shall publish a report on actions and initiatives undertaken by the Department to implement this order.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,December 18, 2020.
Space Force
Pence announces that Space Force personnel will be called guardians - CNNPolitics
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 04:39
By Jason Hoffman and Caroline Kelly, CNN
Updated 9:06 PM EST, Fri December 18, 2020
(CNN) Vice President Mike Pence announced Friday that members of the Space Force military service will be called guardians.
"We just returned from the Oval Office and so it is my honor, on behalf of the President of the United States, to announce that henceforth, the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as guardians," Pence said at an event celebrating the Space Force's first year.
The move marks another foundational element of the Space Force, as it was designated last December, making it the newest military service and the first new service since the US Air Force came into being in 1947. The Space Force was partly established to address concerns about threats to US satellites, which are critical to military operations and commercial business.
The Space Force tweeted Friday that the name announcement came "after a yearlong process that produced hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public."
"Guardians is a name with a long history in space operations, tracing back to the original command motto of Air Force Space Command in 1983, 'Guardians of the High Frontier,'" the service continued, adding that "the name Guardians connects our proud heritage and culture to the important mission we execute 24/7, protecting the people and interest of the U.S. and its allies."
Pence opened his remarks on Friday by bringing greetings from President Donald Trump, calling him the "founder of the United States Space Force" who has "been an enthusiast" of the service since he conceived of the idea.
Trump had no other events on his schedule that conflicted with this event taking place on White House grounds, so it's not clear why he didn't attend, though the public schedule doesn't include all of the President's activities. The White House did not respond to CNN's inquiry as to why Trump didn't participate in the event.
The vice president said the Space Force has grown stronger by the day since it was founded, and praised Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond for his work leading the service. Pence also noted that Col. Mike Hopkins, currently aboard the International Space Station, transferred from the Air Force to the Space Force earlier on Friday.
The term "guardians" isn't the only Space Force reveal that the vice president has made in recent days. Pence also announced earlier this month that Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base will be renamed Space Force stations.
"Today we make history, with the first two installations in the history of the United States Space force to bear the name of this new branch of the service," Pence said at Cape Canaveral at the time.
The two bases will now be referred to as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base.
CNN's Jim Acosta, Ashley Strickland and Allie Malloy contributed to this report.
Seth Rich
VIDEO - Grand County Coroner Raises Concern On Deaths Among COVID Cases '' CBS Denver
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 14:44
UPDATE: CBS4 Mountain Newsroom reporter Jamie Leary interviewed Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock following the publication of this story. To read that full story, click here.
GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) '' The Grand County coroner is calling attention to the way the state health department is classifying some deaths. The coroner, Brenda Bock, says two of their five deaths related to COVID-19 were people who died of gunshot wounds.
(credit: UCHealth)
Bock says because they tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 30 days, they were classified as ''deaths among cases.''
''It's absurd that they would even put that on there,'' she said. ''Would you want to go to a county that has really high death numbers? Would you want to go visit that county because they are contagious. You know I might get it, and I could die if all of a sudden one county has a high death count. We don't have it, and we don't need those numbers inflated.''
The state health department says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires them to report people who've died with COVID-19 in their systems because it's crucial for public health surveillance.
Colorado provides death data related to COVID-19 in two ways:
Deaths due to COVID-19:This is based on CDC coding of death certificates where COVID-19 is listed as the cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death.Deaths among COVID-19 cases:This reflects people who died with COVID-19, but COVID-19 may not have been the cause of death listed on the death certificate.CDPHE explains that they are required to report deaths among COVID-19 cases to the CDC.
''This information is required by the CDC and is crucial for public health surveillance, as it provides more information about disease transmission and can help identify risk factors among all deaths across populations,'' stated CDPHE on its Frequently Asked Questions page.
Danielle Chavira Comments (15)
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 14:32
VIDEO-Canada Proud on Twitter: "Did you ever think you would see this happening in Canada? ðŸ¤--🇨ðŸ‡... https://t.co/s4Pc03Fvs4" / Twitter
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 13:27
Canada Proud : Did you ever think you would see this happening in Canada? ðŸ¤--🇨ðŸ‡... https://t.co/s4Pc03Fvs4
Sat Dec 19 17:13:12 +0000 2020
Jason Martin : @WeAreCanProud @MarcPatrone Because it's a pandemic and there are rules. I don't feel at all bad for some idiot tha'... https://t.co/JzXieuSgU2
Sun Dec 20 13:27:24 +0000 2020
Susanne K. Guenther : @WeAreCanProud When will our #Canadian #Police begin using Deescalation tactics? This authoritarian shouting only makes things worse.
Sun Dec 20 13:00:51 +0000 2020
Ave Ventum : @WeAreCanProud Things are serious. Police violence with soaked minds of hatred all around the world. The values '‹'‹o'... https://t.co/c8rMWnocEi
Sun Dec 20 12:27:41 +0000 2020
Roy Oakes : @WeAreCanProud Stop with the false narrative there is enough of this bad journalism going on as it is. The guy refu'... https://t.co/Ne3JehvAbZ
Sun Dec 20 12:15:43 +0000 2020
Andrew Allan : @WeAreCanProud @drbairdonline Welcome to your new normal, nazis out in force to "keep you safe". Subhumans.
Sun Dec 20 12:03:07 +0000 2020
PaulF : @WeAreCanProud This is the future of Canada under the rule of Justin Trudeau. It is absolutely disgusting to watch'... https://t.co/Bw2HO9zgKf
Sun Dec 20 11:57:44 +0000 2020
Harleylady : @WeAreCanProud ACAB we live in a CPP POLICE STATE in 🇨ðŸ‡...
Sun Dec 20 11:54:20 +0000 2020
hassan : @WeAreCanProud This is expected when feminists become police officers
Sun Dec 20 11:31:32 +0000 2020
MiLiTiKiLaLa : @WeAreCanProud On the ground..... Got to degrade you and feel powerful...Perverse
Sun Dec 20 09:31:19 +0000 2020
Sun Dec 20 09:29:10 +0000 2020
celticwicca : @WeAreCanProud All cops worldwide have turned into narzis.
Sun Dec 20 09:22:16 +0000 2020
Dr Chancer : @WeAreCanProud Why was he stood talking to the dogs?..... He could just skated away!
Sun Dec 20 09:05:44 +0000 2020
VIDEO-General sorry for 'miscommunication' over vaccine shipments
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 12:38
The Army general in charge of getting COVID-19 vaccines across the United States apologized on Saturday for ''miscommunication'' with states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages of distribution.
''I failed. I'm adjusting. I am fixing and we will move forward from there,'' Gen. Gustave Perna told reporters in a telephone briefing.
Perna's remarks came a day after a second vaccine was added in the fight against COVID-19, which has killed more than 312,000 people in the U.S. Governors in more than a dozen states have said the federal government has told them that next week's shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be less than originally projected.
Perna acknowledged the criticism and accepted blame.
''I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication,'' he said. ''I know that's not done much these days. But I am responsible. ... This is a Herculean effort and we are not perfect.''
The general said he made mistakes by citing numbers of doses that he believed would be ready.
''I am the one who approved forecast sheets. I'm the one who approved allocations,'' Perna said. ''There is no problem with the process. There is no problem with the Pfizer vaccine. There is no problem with the Moderna vaccine.''
There's a distinction between manufactured vaccine and doses that are ready to be released. The finished product must undergo ''rigorous quality control and sterility tests,'' which can take up to a month, the Department of Health and Human Services said.
The Food and Drug Administration then must receive a certificate of analysis 48 hours before the manufacturer ships a batch, the government said.
Perna said the government now is on track to get approximately 20 million doses to states by the first week of January, a combination of the newly approved Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Perna said 2.9 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses have been delivered to states so far.
In Michigan, where the Pfizer vaccine is produced, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday accused the White House of ''slow-walking the process.'' Michigan is due 60,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in its second allotment, down from an anticipated 84,825.
''We have Michigan hospitals and nursing homes ready to administer this vaccine,'' she said.
VIDEO-Lockdowns Intentionally Reducing Population & Crushing Economy | Armstrong Economics
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 04:27
Dr. David Nabarro has been vocal about the dangers of lockdowns as people have been dying of heart attacks, cancer, and other issues because they have been denied healthcare all because of COVID. On the other hand, he has been clearly under pressure to rephrase his warnings.
Nabarro has qualified his statements insisting he does not advocate the opposite. He did not recant what he said but qualified that he is not advocating the abandonment of all measures.
It was Bill Gates calling for a national lockdown in the United States, which would have devasted the entire economy and seems to be his goal. His investments were all directed at ''GREEN,'' which even included the end of meat production because they claim cattle is the #2 cause of CO2 and global warming.
Look at Bill Gates and how he is always erratically waving his hands. This clip is taken from Psychology Today. When someone is constantly waving their hands erratically in this manner, it is typically a sign of dishonesty in business and in law.
Gates has been an advocate of reducing the world population. He has been obsessed with this idea which was instilled in him by his father. It is interesting how it is the inequality of wealth that Klaus Schwab and his World Economic Forum insistence must come to an end, but not for him and his buddies.
Schwab insisted he is working with Gates, yet this is hypocritical of his argument that we must give up our wealth and own nothing'' but they need their wealth to keep the sheep in pens.
I find it terribly offensive that BigTech, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, and others are all pushing this Great Reset, which is looking more and more like a deliberate effort to reduce the population and ushering in Communism 3.0. This is a blend of feudalism where the super-rich become our overlords and the 1% and small businesses are to be the modern-day eradicated bourgeoisie. It is no longer the 1% '-- it is the 0.005% we should worry about!
VIDEO-Heated Oval Office meeting included talk of special counsel, martial law as Trump advisers clash - CNNPolitics
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 03:52
By Kevin Liptak and Pamela Brown, CNN
Updated 6:55 PM EST, Sat December 19, 2020
(CNN) President Donald Trump convened a heated meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, including lawyer Sidney Powell and her client, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, two people familiar with the matter said, describing a session that began as an impromptu gathering but devolved and eventually broke out into screaming matches at certain points as some of Trump's aides pushed back on Powell and Flynn's more outrageous suggestions about overturning the election.
Flynn had suggested earlier this week that Trump could invoke martial law as part of his efforts to overturn the election that he lost to President-elect Joe Biden -- an idea that arose again during the meeting in the Oval Office, one of the people said. It wasn't clear whether Trump endorsed the idea, but others in the room forcefully pushed back and shot it down.
The meeting was first reported by the New York Times.
White House aides who participated in the meeting, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and counsel Pat Cipollone, also pushed back intensely on the suggestion of naming Powell as a special counsel to investigate voter fraud allegations Trump's own administration has dismissed (or, as seems more feasible, hiring her in the administration for some kind of investigatory role). Powell has focused her conspiracies on voting machines and has floated the notion of having a special counsel inspect the machines for flaws.
Another idea floated in the meeting was an executive order that would permit the government to access voting machines to inspect them.
One person described the meeting as "ugly" as Powell and Flynn accused others of abandoning the President as he works to overturn the results of the election.
"It was heated -- people were really fighting it out in the Oval, really forceful about it," one of the sources said.
One of the sources described an escalating sense of concern among Trump's aides, even those who have weathered his previous controversies, about what steps he might take next as his term comes to an end.
Shortly after that meeting, Trump's campaign staff received a memo from the campaign legal team on Saturday instructing them to preserve all documents related to Dominion Voting Systems and Powell in anticipation of potential litigation by the company against the pro-Trump attorney.
The memo, viewed by CNN, references a letter Dominion sent to Powell this week demanding she publicly retract her accusations and instructs campaign staff not to alter, destroy or discard records that could be relevant.
A serious internal divide has formed within Trump's campaign following the election with tensions at their highest between the campaign's general counsel, Matt Morgan, who sent the memo Saturday, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Though the campaign once distanced itself from Powell, Trump has been urging other people to fight like she has, according to multiple people familiar with his remarks. He has asked for more people making her arguments, which are often baseless and filled with conspiracy theories, on television.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.
Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.
VIDEO-Suburban Hospital Temporarily Pauses Vaccinations 'Out of Abundance of Caution' Following Adverse Reactions '' NBC Chicago
Sun, 20 Dec 2020 00:26
A suburban hospital temporarily suspended coronavirus vaccinations Friday after four team members experienced adverse reactions.
Since Thursday, Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville said four people who received the COVID-19 vaccine experienced tingling and elevated heartrate shortly after the injection.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily pausing vaccinations at Condell, which will allow us time to better understand what may have caused these reactions," the health center said in a statement.
Advocate Aurora Health reminded that the four people who experienced the adverse reactions account for fewer than 0.15% of the approximately 3,000 individuals who have so far received vaccinations throughout their health system.
The health center said as of Friday, three team members are at home and "doing well," while one person is receiving additional treatment.
"Reactions are an expected side effect of vaccination. We are encouraged by our team members who are eager to get the vaccine to help protect themselves and others and bring an end to this pandemic," Advocate Aurora Health said.
Advocate Aurora Health has eight other vaccination locations in Illinois and three in Wisconsin, all of which are continuing vaccinations as planned.
VIDEO-Suburban Hospital Temporarily Pauses Vaccinations 'Out of Abundance of Caution' Following Adverse Reactions '' NBC Chicago
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 22:12
A suburban hospital temporarily suspended coronavirus vaccinations Friday after four team members experienced adverse reactions.
Since Thursday, Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville said four people who received the COVID-19 vaccine experienced tingling and elevated heartrate shortly after the injection.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily pausing vaccinations at Condell, which will allow us time to better understand what may have caused these reactions," the health center said in a statement.
Advocate Aurora Health reminded that the four people who experienced the adverse reactions account for fewer than 0.15% of the approximately 3,000 individuals who have so far received vaccinations throughout their health system.
The health center said as of Friday, three team members are at home and "doing well," while one person is receiving additional treatment.
"Reactions are an expected side effect of vaccination. We are encouraged by our team members who are eager to get the vaccine to help protect themselves and others and bring an end to this pandemic," Advocate Aurora Health said.
Advocate Aurora Health has eight other vaccination locations in Illinois and three in Wisconsin, all of which are continuing vaccinations as planned.
VIDEO-Cardinal Burke: Forces of the 'Great Reset' have used COVID to advance 'evil agenda' - YouTube
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 22:07
VIDEO-Dear Black America - YouTube
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 15:44
VIDEO-Section4 - Predictions 2021 with Scott Galloway.mp4
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 06:17
VIDEO-Tension rises between Pentagon and Biden transition team over meetings - CNNPolitics
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 23:19
By Jeff Zeleny, Ryan Browne and Sarah Mucha, CNN
Updated 3:43 PM EST, Fri December 18, 2020
(CNN) President-elect Joe Biden's transition team said Friday that they did not agree to a two-week break in critical transfer-of-power discussions with Pentagon officials, despite an assertion from the acting Defense Secretary that both sides had agreed to take such a "holiday pause."
"There was no mutually agreed upon holiday break," Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition, told reporters Friday. "In fact, we think it's important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period, as there's no time to spare."
Tensions between the Pentagon and the Biden transition spilled into public view once again on Friday after the acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, said the incoming Biden team had agreed to a two-week holiday break in previously scheduled transition talks at the Pentagon.
Miller's announcement also acknowledged that the Pentagon had postponed a series of meetings with the Biden transition team that had been scheduled for Friday, saying that those meetings would be rescheduled after the supposed holiday break.
'Agreed upon'A Department of Defense spokesperson said that the Pentagon was "working to reschedule approximately 20 interviews with 40 officials until after January 1."
A US defense official said that there were fewer planned meetings over the next two weeks, saying that there had only been six briefings scheduled for next week.
The Biden team learned of the delay on Thursday, Abraham said in a briefing call with reporters, where he urged Pentagon officials to resume the meetings and information-sharing critical to national security and continuity of government.
"In terms of when meetings will resume, meetings and requests for information, which are substantively interchangeable, it's our hope and expectation that that will happen immediately," Abraham said.
Defense officials told CNN that the Pentagon is trying to reschedule the meetings after "an agreed-upon two-week break between the two transition teams," but officials on the Biden transition team said they had believed the Pentagon briefings would resume soon, after being stopped without much explanation at some point Thursday.
In a statement Friday, Miller denied a report that the Pentagon was canceling or declining meetings with Biden's transition team.
Earlier this month, defense officials disputed reports, including from CNN, that the department was placing unnecessary hurdles on coordinating meetings between the President-elect's team and the Defense Department, blaming the Biden transition team for not adhering to the agreed upon process for scheduling meetings.
Miller said in his statement that, "after the mutually-agreed upon holiday pause, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today."
Officials with the Biden transition team said they had believed the meetings would resume sometime soon after Thursday's cessation and were unaware Friday morning that the day's meetings had been canceled.
Defense officials said the cancellation, first reported by Axios, was due in part to prioritizing work related to planning for the possibility of a government shutdown at midnight. One of the officials said that the Pentagon's response to the coronavirus pandemic and the recent cyber attacks on the US government also prompted the postponement.
The officials said meetings should resume, but that might not happen until after the holidays.
In his statement, Miller said that he remains committed to a "full and transparent transition."
VIDEO-KT McFarland Explains Why the Intelligence Report on the Election Is Being Delayed
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:41
Yesterday the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced a report about foreign interference in the 2020 election will be delayed. Reportedly, there is a dispute about how much influence China had in the outcome.
"to submit the IC's classified assessment on foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. elections. The IC has received relevant reporting since the election and a number of agencies have not finished coordinating on the product." (2/3)
'-- Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) December 16, 2020"The DNI is committed to providing this report to our customers expeditiously.'' (3/3)
'-- Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) December 16, 2020During an interview with Fox News Wednesday night, former White House Deputy National Security Advisor KT McFarland gave her assessment about why the report is being delayed.
"That's [the delay] pretty significant. What that means is there's not uniform agreement within the intelligence community about whether there was or wasn't Chinese influence and how much there was or wasn't. I think you've got to assume that at least one part of our intelligence community thinks that there was major interference which is why there's debate over this," McFarland said. "Now, I suspect that when the report comes out, you know they always want to make these things sound like everybody agrees, well chances are not everybody does agree on this and what kind of influence and what kind of interruption it was. Was it something to do with cyber attacks? Was it something to do with the balloting? Was it something to do with influence peddling? Was it something to do with bots and kind of stirring the pot? All those things are a range of issues and I'm assuming these reason this is delayed because there's probably something pretty explosive in there."
The report must be eventually published by law and is expected before January 20, 2021.
VIDEO-The French Laundry got more than $2.4M in PPP funding; 17x more than average Bay Area restaurants - ABC7 San Francisco
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:40
NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- The luxury restaurant where
Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were notoriously spotted dining during a COVID-19 surge, reportedly received millions in PPP funding.
Yountville's highly acclaimed French Laundry received multiple loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, totaling more than $2.4 million, according to an ABC7 analysis of newly-released data from the Small Business Administration.
The French Laundry received two loans that were both approved on April 30, 2020. According to the SBA, the first loan was for more than $2.2 million to retain 163 employees. The second loan was for $194,656 to retain five employees.
RELATED: Companies founded by Newsom collectively get nearly $3 million in PPP loans, data showsABC7's analysis found the company received 17 times more than what the average Bay Area restaurant received.
"That's a lot of money. But, what can I do about it?" said Dennis Berkowitz, former owner of San Mateo restaurant Vault 164.
Berkowitz struggled to get around $318,000 to retain roughly 50 employees. The loan amount wasn't enough to sustain his business, and he was forced to sell the restaurant in July.
"I've had a 40-year run in the restaurant business, so I consider myself fortunate," he said. "I really feel bad for the next generation of restaurateurs because they're screwed."
VIDEO: Small business owners react after companies founded by Gov. Newsom receive nearly $3M in PPP loansThe I-Team analyzed thousands of California loans released by the SBA that show wealthier, big businesses are often getting access to loans before small mom and pop owners. Out of all the approved loans in California, 91 percent of larger restaurants with 300 or more employees got their loan approved in April versus only 52 percent of smaller restaurants with 100 or fewer employees.
At the French Laundry, you can reserve an exclusive outdoor culinary dining experience starting at $450 per person or a White Truffle and Caviar dinner for $1,200 per person, according to reservation services online.
The company's website states the 1,600 square foot building is owned by celebrity chef Thomas Keller. Keller approached 60 investors to launch the restaurant back in 1994.
App users: For a better experience, click here to view the graph in a new window.
ABC7 reached out to the French Laundry multiple times for comment and to confirm how many employees the company was able to keep on payroll for each loan. We have yet to hear back.
French Laundry is one of at least seven Bay Area restaurants with two or three Michelin stars that also received PPP loans, according to the SBA. The list of the other six restaurants include: Saison, Acquerello, Benu, Atelier, and Californios Restaurant Group.
RELATED: SF mayor attended French Laundry birthday dinner 1 day after Gov. NewsomVal Cantu of Californios received around a $214,597 to retain 10 to 14 people.
"We're still trying to figure out how to spend it correctly," said Cantu. "Which has and continues to be cloudy."
Cantu told ABC7 the confusion stems from how frequent the SBA's rules were changing during the beginning of the process.
"Whether the PPP will be forgivable...we'll see, I'm not sure if it will be," he said.
Cantu admitted the restaurant benefited from having an accountant to help with the loan application.
"It was definitely a scary process," he said.
RELATED: Gov. Newsom says he shouldn't have attended birthday party at French Laundry amid COVID-19 surgeTheresa Pasion, owner of the Mission's La Palma, agreed. Although, like other family-owned small businesses, she didn't have in-house financial help.
"It was very intimidating, the application process," she said. "As soon as you look at it, you have questions. Anything you fill out wrong you are liable for."
Laurie Aaronson is a financial consultant serving hundreds of restaurants across the Bay Area. For the past seven months, she has focused on helping her clients qualify for PPP funding.
Laurie: "Clearly those who had established banking relationships with banks that chose to participate at least in the early stages...those who had access to financial advisors, accountants, and attorneys to make sense of the application received the loans."
Stephanie: "From your perspective, what needs to change to make access to funding more equitable?"
Laurie: "I think the Fintech companies are going to be key, because I think they leveled the playing field a lot in the late stages in the last round of PPP."
Fintech companies, or in other words, online banking companies, helped bridge the gap when bigger banks couldn't process a high volume of loans.
Kabbage is one example. More than 90 percent of the company's applicants have 10 or fewer employees. The company has been touted for prioritizing community banks serving small businesses in non-urban areas. For example, their average loan size was around $28,000 - nearly four times less than the national average PPP loan size of $107,000.
"In the late stages in the second round of PPP many banks just shut their doors, Fintech companies stepped in and provided a lot of those loans," said Aaronson.
See all Bay Area companies that received loans in the table below:
App users: For a better experience, click here to view the graph in a new window.Copyright (C) 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-The Cyberpandemic has Begun: SolarWinds + FireEye - Anything can happen now - YouTube
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:26
VIDEO-OOPS! CNN Reporter SLIPS and may have just Revealed EXACTLY What the Plan Has Been ALL ALONG - YouTube
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 14:14
VIDEO+Shocking BC Covid Numbers
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:42
10 rumbles
Rumble '-- December 10, 2020 BC Update: According to Bonnie Henry, only 2 people out of 587 (that is all BC Covid deaths) have died of Covid OUTSIDE of Long Term Care Homes. 2! And for this, we are shutting down our economy. It is far past time, that reporters start asking Dr. Henry some serious, hard questions, instead of fawning over her shoes or her outfits. Media, DO YOUR JOB!
... and disable advertisements! No kidding :)
VIDEO-China's 'fun' with trade sanctions is 'biting them where it hurts' - YouTube
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 13:38
VIDEO-Joe Biden claims 'foul play' while defending son Hunter but says he's 'not concerned' | Fox News
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 05:39
Published December 17, 2020
Last Update an hour ago
The president-elect said he will be able to look past personal attacks on his son while in officePresident-elect Joe Biden defended his son Hunter Biden amid an ongoing investigation into the younger Biden's taxes.
During an interview with Stephen Colbert airing Thursday night, Biden sat alongside his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and expressed "confidence" in his son.
"I think it's kind of foul play, but look, it is what it is and he's a grown man, he is the smartest man I know '' I mean from a pure intellectual capacity '' and as long as he's good, we're good," Joe Biden said.
The Biden transition team clarified that Biden was not referring to the investigation as "foul play," but rather to Republicans who have used Hunter Biden's business dealings to go after him personally for months.
When Colbert asked how he would handle attacks from Republicans, Biden said he would be willing to work with critics because it's what's best for the country.
The Delaware U.S. Attorney is investigating Hunter Biden's taxes '' a probe that has been ongoing since 2018 but was only recently publicly disclosed.
Hunter Biden has a complex network of international business dealings.
His involvement with Ukranian energy company Burisma in 2014 has come under intense scrutiny, and was a repeated target of President Trump during his campaign for the 2020 presidency.
The younger Biden was paid $50,000 per month to serve on the board of Burisma, sparking concerns about the perceptions of a conflict of interest given the fact that his father was involved in U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
Hunter Biden also has connections to Chinese and Russian nationals that have raised eyebrows.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told Fox News on Thursday that he believed Joe Biden would not interfere in the Hunter Biden investigation when he assumes the White House in January, because he "believes in the rule of law."
VIDEO-DNI Ratcliffe Refuses to Sign Off on Elections Report Until Intel Officials Include Damning info on China's Attempts to Influence Election -- Deep State Hiding the Facts
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 04:54
Newsmax correspondent Emerald Robinson on Thursday reported Ratcliffe is refusing to sign off on the report until the intel officials include the damning information on China and its attempt to influence the 2020 election.
Emerald Robinson, ''We've heard from sources that there is raw intelligence that is pretty damning and much more expansive on the efforts of China implemented in order to counter a possibility that there would be a Trump second term'... The fact that Ratcliffe is waiting for that to be included is that there is a portion of the intelligence community that is refusing to sign off or to conduct a detrimental assessment of China and its efforts.
VIDEO-South Park no internet - YouTube
Thu, 17 Dec 2020 21:45
VIDEO-Lauren Windsor on Twitter: "BREAKING: Defying McConnell, Sen-elect Tuberville suggests he will challenge Electoral College, while stumping in Georgia https://t.co/1z5wJ2ajVP" / Twitter
Thu, 17 Dec 2020 21:34
Lauren Windsor : BREAKING: Defying McConnell, Sen-elect Tuberville suggests he will challenge Electoral College, while stumping in G'... https://t.co/KeEcFOot5e
Thu Dec 17 14:38:39 +0000 2020
jay sea : @lawindsor is this the night of the living dead ..?
Thu Dec 17 21:34:28 +0000 2020
President-elect Christian : @lawindsor Patriot !!!!!!!
Thu Dec 17 21:33:37 +0000 2020
Crimson witch : @lawindsor Then he doesn't get seated, if he believes election was rigged.
Thu Dec 17 21:33:33 +0000 2020
Rhea Sulzycki : @lawindsor This is the dumb jock. Right?
Thu Dec 17 21:33:32 +0000 2020
Dean Johns : @lawindsor Does he even know the Electoral College is?
Thu Dec 17 21:33:26 +0000 2020
SI Chi : @lawindsor @meiselasb Idiot
Thu Dec 17 21:32:43 +0000 2020
Jeb : @lawindsor This from the idiot who can't name the 3 branches of government accurately.
Thu Dec 17 21:32:40 +0000 2020
Barbara Jones : @lawindsor Wouldn't this turn over his election? How can it be rigged for one election but not another?
Thu Dec 17 21:32:37 +0000 2020
Lauree : @lawindsor god have mercy
Thu Dec 17 21:30:48 +0000 2020
CheetoManHater : @lawindsor 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬
Thu Dec 17 21:30:28 +0000 2020
#100Years#19thAmendment : @lawindsor Who's going to tell him that it's not an actual college?
Thu Dec 17 21:29:19 +0000 2020
Gavin Blair : @lawindsor @ReallyAmerican1 Whatever.
Thu Dec 17 21:27:44 +0000 2020
Donmarse 🎧 🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺 : @lawindsor I know that House and Senate have to agree but is there anyway for Pence to throw a wrench into the process?
Thu Dec 17 21:27:21 +0000 2020
Susan Brown : @lawindsor HOW on earth did this fucker get elected?
Thu Dec 17 21:27:07 +0000 2020
DoodleMom FLIP GEORGIA SENATE BLUE : @lawindsor The guy who couldn't name the three branches of government.
Thu Dec 17 21:25:22 +0000 2020
Jeff Milam : @lawindsor He needs to go back to football. He's way out of his league ðŸ
Thu Dec 17 21:25:18 +0000 2020
Mag : @lawindsor Good!!
Thu Dec 17 21:24:59 +0000 2020
Dr. A Roberts,Ph.D. : @lawindsor Dear Georgia, you can make this guy irrelevant by voting for Warnock and Ossoff!
Thu Dec 17 21:24:30 +0000 2020
Robert : @lawindsor He's not too bright that one
Thu Dec 17 21:24:28 +0000 2020
LJJ : @lawindsor He was a crappy coach too!!
Thu Dec 17 21:23:48 +0000 2020
NotesInTheMargin 🇺🇸 : @lawindsor Anyone have a Bingo card on how quickly this guy starts amassing ethics violations?
Thu Dec 17 21:23:28 +0000 2020
N. Gauthier : @lawindsor Can people in Alabama explain why they voted out the guy who prosecuted KKK members for a dumbass who ha'... https://t.co/276tgLOQRP
Thu Dec 17 21:23:28 +0000 2020
RyNo : @lawindsor Then we must look into his own election results... only thing that seems fair.
Thu Dec 17 21:22:36 +0000 2020
Todd Cunningham : @lawindsor Alabama Sen. Tommy Tubberville deciding to buck the Electoral College vote is not Phi Beta Kappa. Somebo'... https://t.co/d2ya7dJDiX
Thu Dec 17 21:22:21 +0000 2020


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All Clips

Bo Jiden Gaff Obama reduced the auto industry.mp3
BJo Cancels Christmas.mp3
PBS Saturday Newshour headline Mutated UK coronavirus cannot continue with Christmas as planned (32sec).mp3
Cardinal Burke - Forces of the Great Reset have used COVID to advance evil agenda.mp3
China running out of Coal thanks to dispute with Australia over tarriffs.mp3
China Yell.wav
chiners yell.wav
KT McFarland - Intel assessment delay suggests explosive findings - China Threat.mp3
Patrick Byrne on Chinese Assassins Mace to conquer USA.mp3
Pompeo - Protect Their Freedoms ISO.mp3
Pompeo at Georgia Tech on CCP Influences on Campus - PROTECT Thier Freedoms!.mp3
Axios fang fang report swalwell - fang fang breath bad bad.mp3
Heated Oval Office meeting included talk of special counsel, martial law as Trump advisers clash.mp3
Sen-elect Tuberville on roberts and riots.mp3
Brolf with William Cohen - Tension rises between Pentagon and Biden transition team over meetings.mp3
Binney explains voting machine Glitches.mp3
Bill Gates Davos 2017 on Pandemics Dark Winter etc etc RNA.mp3
Dr. Elizabeth Mumper on Amygdala.mp3
climate change is back.mp3
coca cola retires brands.mp3
COLBERT Jill Biden on Doctoate stops Joe short.mp3
COLBERT Joes Foundational story.mp3
Covid testing wait times.mp3
COVID Two vaccines now good 3 NBC.mp3
COVID Two vaccines now good part 2 NBC.mp3
COVID Two vaccines now good part one NBC.mp3
COVID Two vaccinesWTF clip from 3.mp3
dead bodies ISO.mp3
Doses ISO.mp3
END of Shields and Brooks.mp3
go under ISO.mp3
Irishness ISO.mp3
Lightfoot and the video NBC.mp3
litany on t4est types NBC.mp3
Pompao says Russia did it.mp3
President MIA NBC.mp3
Sarah Palin pushes for Addange pardon.mp3
Shields dumb commentPBS.mp3
Stephen Colberts says what his job is.mp3
Trump Census plan underway.mp3
UGH Live stream shopping NBC.mp3
Aid package explained by Taibbi.mp3
Brooks on Shield crying again PBS.mp3
Grand County Coroner Raises Concern On Deaths Among COVID Cases.mp3
NewsDay Austraila Tik Tok vaccine awareness campaign ran by UN called Halo (2min30sec).mp3
Scott Lobaido Judge J-Staten Island.mp3
WHO Dr. David Nabarro Says NO to lockdowns.mp3
BC Covid deaths only TWO that weren't in elderly care.mp3
CA lockdown 33 million.mp3
CNN Brianna Keilar plays fox news clip mashup on coronavirus and calls them doorknobs (1min42sec).mp3
Klaus Schwab warns again of CYBER PANDEMIC.mp3
Guardians is new Space Force Name.mp3
CNN Seasame Street special Sanjay Gupta saying vaccine doesnt hurt honestly then later just being honest here (41sec).mp3
Fauci says don't take the vaccine if you are alergic FDA revisions.mp3
Flu Shot Quad Match.mp3
General Perna is sorry for miscommunication over vaccine shipments.mp3
Santa Claus is good to go - Dr Fauci says he vaccinated Father Christmas.mp3
Santa Clause is Good To GO Fauci ISO.mp3
They haven't yet been able to show whether the vaccine prevents infection - - Ontario Associate Medical Officer, Dr. Yaffe.mp3
CNN Seasame Street special Fauci answers kids question about when they can get vaccinated (1min17sec).mp3
  • 0:00
    Get out of London people. Adam Curry jobs he divorce December
  • 0:05
    20 2020 this is your award winning combination media
  • 0:08
    assassination Episode 105 This is no agenda. canceling Father
  • 0:14
    Christmas and broadcasting live from opportunity's own 33 here
  • 0:18
    in the frontier of Austin, Texas capital of the drone star
  • 0:21
    states. In the morning, everybody. I'm Adam Curry, from
  • 0:24
    Northern Silicon Valley, we've decided to call everything a pod
  • 0:29
    and Justin Guevara.
  • 0:34
    This will not stand please, then swept under, you're on the wrong
  • 0:39
    side of history. I am on the wrong side of history. And the
  • 0:42
    more I bitched about it, the more people throw it in my face.
  • 0:47
    And just say, hey, how was your pod? Just you're reminding me of
  • 0:51
    the era when they started complaining about mp3 ease.
  • 0:55
    Exactly. These are bad don't use them. It's horrible for the
  • 0:58
    music industry. Every kid in the world went but that sounds like
  • 1:04
    you know what they were before that. Do you remember when mp3
  • 1:08
    first came out? And we of course we're probably already Boomer
  • 1:12
    ish. When that happened, this was around 90. I mean, when it
  • 1:16
    really became popular, I would say just the end of the 90s when
  • 1:20
    the replays I first discovered them when they first became
  • 1:23
    popular because I had a friend who was doing my web work. Your
  • 1:27
    was your web.
  • 1:29
    Web web. He he was a DJ Mm hmm. And all the DJs were into you
  • 1:38
    know the this because they needed to do the drumsticks they
  • 1:42
    needed the tracks. Yeah. And so he turned me on to the whole
  • 1:44
    thing it was at the time I think it was around 94 key It was a
  • 1:50
    phenomenon only amongst certain college kids. Right The ones who
  • 1:55
    had pipe and had Napster
  • 1:57
    no beef, this is pre Napster. Okay, but not much before
  • 2:00
    Napster because Napster came along around 9999. Yeah.
  • 2:06
    Napster is late. I mean, this was early, but it was nobody
  • 2:09
    knew anything about it. It was just a underground underground
  • 2:12
    thing until the RA. Ra came out and bitch about some little
  • 2:17
    device that one of the companies brought out right. Oh, there was
  • 2:20
    the reo. Probably. It might have been the real Yeah. Well, my
  • 2:24
    point was going to be Do you recall? How do you and I
  • 2:27
    certainly would listen to an mp3 and go How can you listen to
  • 2:31
    this crap? It's horribly compressed. It doesn't sound
  • 2:34
    good at all. You remember that?
  • 2:39
    You know, I was on the I never. I always.
  • 2:44
    I always downloaded 192 or higher. So they sounded pretty
  • 2:48
    decent. Yeah, and I wasn't of the of the ilk that bitched and
  • 2:52
    moaned and complained, there are people who want to take it to
  • 2:55
    that extreme. There were people who said the same thing about
  • 2:58
  • 3:01
    There were people who said it was too good, and that you
  • 3:04
    needed that vinyl compression that comes with another group.
  • 3:07
    But I was
  • 3:09
    I was in that group.
  • 3:12
    There was a large group of people that said the original
  • 3:14
    CDs did not have the tonal components that they were
  • 3:18
    looking for. And it turned out that there was actually some
  • 3:22
    truth to that.
  • 3:25
    They changed the DAC and a lot of the CD players. Yeah, that's
  • 3:28
    true. I remember that. I just recall, like saying, Wow, in
  • 3:32
    fact, it didn't bother me. But I always thought to myself, okay,
  • 3:36
    this really opens up possibilities, because we had no
  • 3:39
    bandwidth at the time. The whole problem, we didn't have disk
  • 3:42
    drives big enough to hold lossless audio formats. It
  • 3:46
    wasn't convenient. And I just remember to myself thinking
  • 3:50
    self, people will put up with a lot. So you can you could serve
  • 3:54
    up all kinds of crap quality eventually, I think your brain
  • 3:57
    just fills in the missing bits. We've probably become trained to
  • 4:01
    expand the actual quality of an mp3 into something that sounds
  • 4:05
    better to you ever. Did you ever listen to a record by Gary us
  • 4:09
    bonds? Yeah, sure. Well, I mean, if you could put up with that.
  • 4:16
    We used to listen to radio nordsee International on medium
  • 4:21
  • 4:23
    And we thought it was great. You haven't lived until you've heard
  • 4:26
    till you've heard the the who on 538 kilo cycles.
  • 4:33
    So the people are people will put up with a lot and that's
  • 4:37
    apparent in the United Kingdom. Christmas is canceled in the UK.
  • 4:43
    We cannot continue with Christmas.
  • 4:48
    We cannot continue it was all over the news. The US media love
  • 4:54
    talking about this story. In the United Kingdom. A new variant of
  • 4:57
    the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly and today
  • 5:00
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions for
  • 5:02
    areas in Britain southeast, including London. He urged all
  • 5:06
    residents to stay home for the upcoming Christmas holiday. It
  • 5:10
    is with a very heavy heart. I must tell you we cannot continue
  • 5:13
    with Christmas as planned. The variant has turned up in several
  • 5:18
    other countries and mutations are not unusual. British
  • 5:21
    officials say this variant does not appear to be deadlier, but
  • 5:25
    it does spread more rapidly. Man I'm gonna call some major shifts
  • 5:30
    on this. This makes no sense.
  • 5:34
    This new variant we touched on it briefly on Thursday. But come
  • 5:39
    on. There's been talk of different strains for months.
  • 5:43
    It's never an issue. Nothing's happened. And nothing to see
  • 5:45
    here. Don't look at it. Now we got to cancel Christmas. Oh,
  • 5:50
    yeah. Because of this string, man. And they they brought this
  • 5:52
    out at five o'clock in the afternoon with the deadline by
  • 5:55
    midnight, people went crazy trying to get up north anywhere
  • 6:00
    anywhere out of the out of the central, central east part of
  • 6:04
    the country to just avoid being locked in your home. Get out of
  • 6:10
    London, PayPal. And here's the crazy thing the Netherlands just
  • 6:14
    announced I'm sure other EU EU member states will follow.
  • 6:18
    They're stopping all flights from and to the United Kingdom.
  • 6:23
    Besides this being one of the last economic hopeful little
  • 6:27
    jobs, they could keep open and regular. Because all the UK
  • 6:31
    companies have headquarters have EU headquarters in Amsterdam.
  • 6:36
    And of course, you know, when there's intellectual property
  • 6:39
    rights involved, there's no taxation in the Netherlands. So
  • 6:43
    that's why there's a lot of travel back and forth. Now that
  • 6:46
    had to stop just shut it down. Shut it down for five weeks.
  • 6:49
    However, you can still take the ferry. How does that work?
  • 6:55
    So only the ferry is better because you get to be in close
  • 6:58
    quarters with more people who are playing longer time who are
  • 7:01
    throwing up around you that doesn't seem like that, like
  • 7:04
    anything contagious, could fly around. So I was thinking what
  • 7:09
    what is going on? And then it hit me that it's very possible
  • 7:14
    that this is to cover up for the Brexit deadline deadline, which
  • 7:18
    clearly is going to be missed.
  • 7:25
    What do you think? Interesting.
  • 7:28
    I like that theory. Because if there was no Corona it would be
  • 7:32
    had do Brexit if he had locked down because you know, this is
  • 7:35
    more important people are dying by the variant by the variant to
  • 7:39
    the variant of 70% more infected.
  • 7:44
    Now, it may have something to do with the current state of the EU
  • 7:48
    or the progress of the great reset in general.
  • 7:54
    China, this is from December 17 said talks with the European
  • 7:57
    Union on the bilateral investment deal are in the final
  • 8:01
    stages citing progress between negotiators they push for an
  • 8:04
    agreement before a year end deadline so this is I it's
  • 8:09
    unclear I mean bilateral investment for sure the EU is
  • 8:15
    going to be taking Chinese money that that that's what that
  • 8:17
    sounds like to me. I don't know what they're going to do in
  • 8:19
    return. But I'm thinking the EU, the EU would have a better
  • 8:25
    position if they could somehow bring the UK in on the deal and
  • 8:30
    that's why it's all not final yet and we're getting close
  • 8:33
    final stages. Don't you think that those two could be
  • 8:35
    connected? Possibly.
  • 8:37
    Well, any of this stuff could be connected but I think the I
  • 8:40
    think the Brexit issue has got definitely has something to do
  • 8:44
    with this.
  • 8:46
    Yeah, that people would be losing their mind if if there
  • 8:49
    was no Coronavirus and, and the Brexit, which is I think it's
  • 8:52
    the 23rd it has to be done. Yes, yeah. It's just no way I don't
  • 8:58
    say it's not that we're not we're surprised we're befuddled.
  • 9:01
    We're like stunned. Um,
  • 9:05
    well, I think a lot of people would be they don't hear this
  • 9:09
    kind of talk too often. You only hear that on the best podcast in
  • 9:12
    the universe.
  • 9:15
    So let's update everybody on the vaccine. It's been a it's been a
  • 9:19
    very interesting rollout with nurses fainting of fake needles
  • 9:24
    being used and admitted, the fainting nurse was a classic and
  • 9:29
    now so they have an explanation for this.
  • 9:32
    She's apparently the fainting nurse, the one who you put front
  • 9:37
    and center in front of the press. To receive the first
  • 9:42
    injection in your hospital or in your state. I can't recall
  • 9:45
    exactly what it was. You're going to put her who were now
  • 9:50
    reading suffers from a medical condition that she faints when
  • 9:55
    she feels pain
  • 9:58
    well, or at the drop
  • 10:00
    Have a hat? Is that is, is that? Does that make any sense?
  • 10:06
    Yeah, it makes sense if you're a bonehead AI is just crazy.
  • 10:14
    Okay, so so what's happening now is we have a lot of different
  • 10:19
    powers at play and I'm not sure if we can we're going to try and
  • 10:21
    figure them out.
  • 10:24
    So first of all, any negative story about the pharmaceutical
  • 10:27
    industry on television always has to be analyzed because this
  • 10:31
    is the main bread and butter of the media is the pharma
  • 10:34
    advertisers. So what I'm seeing mainly and maybe you see more of
  • 10:40
    the network stuff what I'm seeing mainly is local stories
  • 10:43
    that you know, gain a lot of traction because it's something
  • 10:46
    happening like that with a nurse but then you see that the the
  • 10:50
    national m five m making a big deal of this. No, they tend to
  • 10:55
    do the
  • 10:58
    yak, yak yak, a bad thing happened. But a lot of good
  • 11:01
    things happens of style, which means that they keep the bad
  • 11:05
    thing in there because they're still not getting enough money.
  • 11:09
    Still shilling? Well, we have to figure out who the winners is,
  • 11:12
    who's going to be the clear winner who's going to get enough
  • 11:15
    negative press we already have Madonna coming in with a with a
  • 11:19
    advantage advantage. No freezing necessary.
  • 11:24
    Well, then there you got the Johnson and Johnson one coming
  • 11:27
    up the rear Yes. Is that how it's administered, and enemy and
  • 11:32
    we do have some official notifications. Fauci
  • 11:37
    had to come out and talk about people with allergic reactions,
  • 11:42
    because there's just too many local stories bubbling to the
  • 11:45
    top and people are all over this. People want to feel that
  • 11:49
    this vaccine is safe. And just like not understanding how many
  • 11:53
    people die on a daily basis in the world or in your country in
  • 11:57
    the United States. They don't really know that a percentage of
  • 12:01
    vaccine takers get sick, some die, bad stuff happens. But now
  • 12:08
    they everybody expects a 100% science based thing that works
  • 12:13
    and doesn't kill you.
  • 12:15
    Well, of course they did. But the and even with the with the
  • 12:19
    knowledge, we've even heard from several producers that I think
  • 12:23
    it's the propylene glycol, that is in the, in the vaccine that
  • 12:28
    people can have a severe reaction to that.
  • 12:31
    And so Fauci had to, had to come up with some new messaging. If
  • 12:35
    you have a history of a severe allergic reaction, you should
  • 12:39
    either not take this vaccine, or if you do take it, take it in
  • 12:45
    the context of a place where if you do develop an allergic
  • 12:49
    reaction, it could be readily and effectively treated. This
  • 12:53
    also comes after two medical workers in Alaska suffered
  • 12:57
    reactions to the same vaccine, one of them had a serious
  • 13:01
    allergic reaction. Now that's why the FDA is revising its
  • 13:05
    allergic reaction guidelines to essentially do what exactly what
  • 13:08
    Dr. Fauci said, if you get this vaccine, if you're either
  • 13:12
    concerned about an allergic reaction, or you have had one in
  • 13:15
    the past, they want to make sure that you're close enough to
  • 13:17
    emergency treatment centers, just in case I didn't quite
  • 13:21
    understand the the tag on that report, is she saying, If you
  • 13:26
    suffer from allergic reactions, you should follow the new
  • 13:29
    guidance and probably not get it. Or she's saying make sure
  • 13:33
    you get it in a hospital. So when you get an anaphylaxis
  • 13:36
    shock, like an epi pen, you didn't quite understand because
  • 13:40
    this is a great way out.
  • 13:42
    This is a great way out of this thing I needed I have an
  • 13:44
    exemption. I'm allergic,
  • 13:48
    didn't go to a hospital where they have an epi pen at the
  • 13:51
  • 13:53
    Exactly what I think they're doing. And even in the
  • 13:57
    Scandinavia, they've kind of figured out that even if you get
  • 14:01
    the vaccine, life really isn't going back to normal. They
  • 14:05
    haven't yet been able to show whether it prevents infection.
  • 14:08
    So even if somebody gets vaccinated, they may they may
  • 14:13
    have an asymptomatic infection. So they could still be
  • 14:16
    infectious to others we're still going to learn and it may be
  • 14:19
    that that not is not the case, but currently we don't have that
  • 14:22
    evidence. So even when somebody is vaccinated, they need to