Cover for No Agenda Show 1348: Belching Freon
May 20th, 2021 • 3h 14m

1348: Belching Freon


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

Vaxxed or Masked
Mask mandates might be going away, but don't ditch yours just yet - STAT
Mon, 17 May 2021 19:03
F ully vaccinated people are exhaling this weekend, ditching masks and easing up on social distancing, per the latest Covid-19 guidance put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new advice marks a significant milestone in the nation's effort to stamp out the disease, and signals the beginning of a return to normalcy. But scientists say there are good reasons not to toss out your mask stash just yet.
''It's important to not see this change as a signal that this means that the pandemic is over or that there is no capacity for policy reversals in the future,'' said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Given the incredible efficacy of the vaccines '-- in particular the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines '-- and the impact they're having on bringing down Covid cases, it makes sense to give immunized people something back, he said. And in light of recent vaccination slowdowns, it could provide an extra incentive to anyone who is eligible but still holding off. But Hanage said the policy shift is as much about the changing weather as it is about vaccines.
''It's a reflection of how much of a better place we're in now than we were, but it's a reflection too of the decreased transmission we expect to see over the summer months,'' he said. And that means that people should prepare for Covid restrictions to be revisited in the fall, especially given uncertainties around how emerging variants will impact vaccines' effectiveness in preventing disease spread. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine in particular, said Hanage, appears to be less effective at blocking transmission.
''There is a certain advantage to normalizing behaviors, like mask-wearing, that are going to be useful if we encounter any sort of bumps in the road in terms of variants or a serious seasonal effect,'' he said.
Aerosol scientists like Linsey Marr, at Virginia Tech, point out that adopting a culture of occasional mask-wearing could have benefits that extend beyond the pandemic. ''Not only does a mask help with COVID-19, but it also helps with other respiratory viruses, particulate air pollution, and pollen,'' she told STAT via email. Colder, drier air brings with it the risks of other respiratory infections, including colds and the flu. With the world hunkering down last winter, most of those diseases declined drastically. Some disease modelers are predicting that could portend more severe flu seasons in the future. Masks would help mitigate those risks. (So would getting your flu shot.)
The CDC's updated guidance advises vaccinated people that they can drop the masks in all outdoor and indoor settings, with the exception of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons and jails, and planes, trains, and any other form of public transportation. But citizens are still subject to local masking requirements. Governors in about half of U.S. states had already lifted mask mandates. More are expected to expire at the end of this month.
Marr, for her part, was surprised the CDC's move to unmasking came so soon. Not because the science isn't solid, but because it's such an abrupt shift. ''I think it would have made more sense to give people and businesses advance warning,'' she wrote. ''So that those who have not had a chance to get vaccinated have time to get fully vaccinated before the change.'' That includes the millions of 12- to 15-year-olds who only became eligible to receive Pfizer's vaccine last week.
At least for now, children under the age of 12 don't have access to any vaccine, so they will still be at risk of infection. So will millions of cancer patients, those with chronic illness, and other immunocompromised individuals '-- Covid-19 vaccines either aren't recommended, or they just don't work very well. Mask requirements made it easier for them to navigate public spaces with confidence that any contagious people they might encounter had at least a few layers of material strapped to their faces blocking the majority of infectious aerosols from flooding their shared air.
''For Covid, because it's mostly respiratory transmission, the mask is what does the job when you're closer to other people,'' said Ann Petru, a pediatric infectious disease physician at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif. Although kids tend to tolerate Covid-19 infections better than adults, the risk of bad outcomes is not zero. More than 300 have died, and roughly 15,000 have been hospitalized '-- far more than in a typical flu season. She worries that the honor system will allow unvaccinated adults to seize the opportunity to go mask-free, making indoor spaces where infectious aerosols can accumulate that much riskier for vulnerable individuals.
''A global statement for all of society is going to be overinterpreted by the wrong groups and then there will be more cases because people are not going to be protecting themselves as well,'' said Petru. ''So I don't think it's time to throw masks away in any kind of social scene where you're indoors with others.''
Megan MolteniScience Writer
Megan Molteni is a science writer for STAT, covering genomic medicine, neuroscience, and reproductive tech.
OSHA Imposes New Guidance For Employer-Required COVID-19 Vaccines | 2021-05-03 | Engineering News-Record
Tue, 18 May 2021 16:38
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Freedom Pass
E.U. to reopen borders to travelers with accepted vaccines - The Washington Post
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:07
BRUSSELS '-- The European Union has agreed to open its borders to vaccinated Americans and others, after more than a year in which travel into the bloc has been severely restricted, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The decision represents a formal turning point away from the eerie, economy-sapping status quo of the coronavirus pandemic, when major cities in the 27-nation bloc have been empty of tourists.
Officials said the reopening could take effect within days of final approval, which will come this week or next. But sign-off is not in doubt after ambassadors agreed to the plan on Wednesday.
''Today, E.U. ambassadors agreed to update the approach to travel from outside the European Union,'' European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand told reporters. The European Council ''now recommends that member states ease some restrictions, in particular for those vaccinated with an E.U.-authorized vaccine.''
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That means all the coronavirus vaccines available in the United States would be greenlighted, but vaccines manufactured in Russia and China would not be. The E.U. guidance is not binding, so some countries could choose to be more or less restrictive than the bloc as a whole.
A day at the Colosseum, with the custodians who have it all to themselves
Another matter that still needs to be sorted out: Some E.U. countries require quarantines of all new arrivals, regardless of vaccination status. Belgium and France, for instance, require seven days. But European policymakers are working on a plan to sweep away those rules. A full proposal is expected as soon as Friday, though it could take several weeks to implement.
Britain, which is no longer a member of the E.U., has a separate set of rules, with no special treatment yet for vaccinated travelers. A traffic-light system sets out requirements based on the risk presented by different countries. Americans can travel there, but they must quarantine for at least five days.
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Europe's vaccination campaign has lagged behind those of the United States and Britain, although it has picked up speed recently. Some officials have been reluctant to grant privileges to vaccinated foreigners that were unavailable to large portions of their own unvaccinated populations. But that worry is diminishing by the day, as the E.U. pace is now faster than that in the United States.
Europe's vaccine campaign is accelerating. It expects to match the U.S. by July.
A third of E.U. residents have now received at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to 48 percent of U.S. residents. The E.U. percentage is where the United States was six weeks ago.
Within the E.U., Mediterranean countries have pushed hardest to find a way to reopen. Greece, Italy and Spain all depend heavily on tourism and that saw their economies contract more than their northern neighbors during the pandemic.
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Greece decided it couldn't wait and last month opened to Americans and residents of dozens of other countries, even while lockdown restrictions limited its appeal as a destination.
Some people in tourist-dependent countries now say the coordinated E.U. plan is welcome, but it may come somewhat late, making it hard to salvage the initial months of the travel season.
''The actual expectations so far are pretty low'' that 2021 will resemble something normal, said Luigi Panella, 47, a limousine driver who deals mostly with British and American clients along Italy's Amalfi Coast.
Massimo Pasqualetti, 45, who co-operates a food and wine tour group in Tuscany, said interest in his company is just beginning to pick up, although it is only 10 percent of what it used to be. Across Tuscany, he said he's starting to notice the first trickle of tourists.
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''A month ago, we saw nothing. Nothing was moving,'' Pasqualetti said. ''But we are suddenly more optimistic than before.''
He said his income collapsed last year, and the business survived only because he and his partner began offering online-based cooking classes: everybody in their own kitchen, around the world, cooking Tuscan ragu and pasta.
''Our aim, this whole time, has been, 'Let's survive, let's survive,' '' he said. ''I think we are going to survive.''
As part of the same decision on Wednesday, the E.U. plans to expand a list of countries deemed to have the pandemic under sufficient control, such that people can travel from there regardless of their vaccination status. The new criteria for the list would still be tight enough that it would exclude the United States, although the country could conceivably make the cut sometime in June if cases continue to decline at their current pace.
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The E.U. will also implement what it is calling an emergency brake '-- an automatic halt to travel from countries where cases are spiking, in an effort to hold back more dangerous variants of the coronavirus.
E.U. countries are separately trying to streamline travel inside the bloc, which is stymied by a patchwork of rules about quarantines, tests and vaccines. Progress on what are officially known as ''green certificates,'' but informally understood as ''covid passports,'' could be announced as soon as Friday. The goal is for Europeans to be able to prove they are vaccinated, have a recent negative coronavirus test or have recently had the disease and are unlikely to spread it. European Union officials hope the program will be operational by mid-June, and that it will reduce quarantining and testing requirements.
Since individual countries will still be able to set their own rules about what they require from aspiring visitors, it is possible that some of the more cautious ones will still ask vaccinated travelers to quarantine. But those kinds of rules will probably start dropping away as the E.U. adapts its rules to diminishing fears that vaccinated travelers could still spread the virus.
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Wednesday's decision ''gradually opens safe travel from and to the EU,'' tweeted Ylva Johansson, the top E.U. official charged with home affairs.
Harlan reported from Rome. Quentin Ari¨s in Brussels contributed to this report.
E.U. unveils vaccine passport plan to enable summer travel
E.U. proposal would allow vaccinated American tourists by the end of June
7 European countries Americans can travel to right now
Elites Worried: COVID Cases in India Plummet After Government Promotes Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine Use
Mon, 17 May 2021 18:11
Coronavirus cases are plummeting in India thanks to new rules that promote Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to its massive population.
Of course, the WHO and pharmaceutical companies are having fits. This is despite the fact that lives are being saved.
The COVID Blog reported:
India has received the baton for title of COVID Capitol of the World after China, Italy and the United States held it for much of last year.
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The world second-most populace country after China had fewer than 138,000 total active COVID cases in early February 2021. That's the lowest figure since January 2020. India active COVID cases sit around 3.6 million today, according to the India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Mainstream media are blaming the massive spike on a ''scary, mutant variant'' called B.1.617'...
'...The India health ministry updated its guidelines on April 28 for quarantines, treating the asymptomatic and those with mild symptoms of COVID-19. The agency now says that asymptomatic patients should ''consider Tab Ivermec tin (200 mcg/kg once a day, to be taken empty stomac h) for 3 to 5 days.'' Caregivers of patients in quarantine are instructed to ''take Hydrox ychloroquine prophylaxis as per protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer.'' See the full document here.
There are 292 studies (219 are peer-reviewed) proving the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as both a treatment and prophylaxis against COVID-19. Ivermectin has 93 studies (54 peer-reviewed) showing its effectiveness as treatment and prophylaxis against COVID-19. Despite the now-indisputable fact that these drugs essentially kill COVID-19 within hours or days, the Bill Gates-funded World Health Organization (WHO) and big pharma are having fits over India's new guidelines and the results.
And now the COVID cases are plummeting.
Via Worldometers.
And the active cases in India are also plummeting.
Of course, this will not make any headlines.
WHO Removes Remdesivir From List of COVID-19 Medicines - World News Broadcasting Corporation
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:42
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that it has suspended Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir, which was touted as COVID-19 treatment, from its prequalification list'--- an official list of medicines used as a benchmark for procurement by developing countries.
In an emailed response to news agency Reuters, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said,''Yes we have suspended it from the PQ (prequalification list). The suspension is a signal to countries that WHO, in compliance with the treatment guidelines, does not recommend countries procure the drug for COVID
Earlier on Friday, the WHO had warned that the antiviral drug remdesivir should not be used to treat COVID patients, no matter how ill they are as there is no evidence it works
FLCCC Alliance Statement on the Irregular Actions of Public Health Agencies and the Widespread Disinformation Campaign Against Ivermectin | FLCCC | Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance
Thu, 20 May 2021 13:13
Awareness of ivermectin's efficacy and its adoption by physicians worldwide to successfully treat COVID-19 have grown exponentially over the past several months. Oddly, however, even as the clinical trials data and successful ivermectin treatment experiences continue to mount, so too have the criticisms and outright recommendations against the use of ivermectin by the vast majority, though not all, of public health agencies (PHA), concentrated largely in North America and Europe.
The Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) and other ivermectin researchers have repeatedly offered expert analyses to respectfully correct and rebut the PHA recommendations, based on our deep study and rapidly accumulated expertise ''in the field'' on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19. These rebuttals were publicized and provided to international media for the education of providers and patients across the world. Our most recent response to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and others recommendation against use can be found on the FLCCC website here .
In February 2021, the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD), an international meeting of physicians, researchers, specialists, and patients, followed a guideline development process consistent with the WHO standard. It reached a consensus recommendation that ivermectin, a verifiably safe and widely available oral medicine, be immediately deployed early and globally. The BIRD group's recommendation rested in part on numerous, well-documented studies reporting that ivermectin use reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19 by over 90% and mortality by 68% to 91%.
A similar conclusion has also been reached by an increasing number of expert groups from the United K ingdom (UK) , Italy , Spain , United States (US) , and a group from Japan headed by the Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of Ivermectin, Professor Satoshi Omura. Focused rebuttals that are backed by voluminous research and data have been shared with PHAs over the past months. These include the WHO and many individual members of its guideline development group (GDG), the FDA, and the NIH. However, these PHAs continue to ignore or disingenuously manipulate the data to reach unsupportable recommendations against ivermectin treatment. We are forced to publicly expose what we believe can only be described as a ''disinformation'' campaign astonishingly waged with full cooperation of those authorities whose mission is to maintain the integrity of scientific research and protect public health.
The following accounting and analysis of the WHO ivermectin panel's highly irregular and inexplicable analysis of the ivermectin evidence supports but one rational explanation: the GDG Panel had a predetermined, nonscientific objective, which is to recommend against ivermectin. This is despite the overwhelming evidence by respected experts calling for its immediate use to stem the pandemic. Additionally, there appears to be a wider effort to employ what are commonly described as ''disinformation tactics'' in an attempt to counter or suppress any criticism of the irregular activity of the WHO panel.
The WHO Ivermectin Guideline Conflicts with the NIH Recommendation
The FLCCC Alliance is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization made up of renowned, highly published, world-expert clinician-researchers whose sole mission over the past year has been to develop and disseminate the most effective treatment protocols for COVID-19. In the past six months, much of this effort has been centered on disseminating knowledge of our identification of significant randomized, observational, and epidemiologic studies consistently demonstrating the powerful efficacy of ivermectin in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Our manuscript detailing the depth and breadth of this evidence passed a rigorous peer review by senior scientists at the U.S Food and Drug Administration and Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Recently published, our study concludes that, based on the totality of the evidence of efficacy and safety, ivermectin should be immediately deployed to prevent and treat COVID-19 worldwide.
The first ''red flag'' is the conflict between the March 31, 2021, WHO Ivermectin Panel's ''against'' recommendation and the NIH's earlier recommendation from February 12th of a more supportive neutral recommendation based on a lower amount of supportive evidence of ivermectin's efficacy at that time.
Two flawed lines of analysis by the WHO appear to account for this inconsistent result:
The WHO arbitrarily and severely limited the extent and diversity of study designs considered (e.g., retrospective observational controlled trials (OCT), prospective OCTs, epidemiological, quasi-randomized, randomized, placebo-controlled, etc.). The WHO mischaracterized the overall quality of the trial data to undermine the included studies. The Severely Limited Extent and Diversity of Ivermectin Data Considered by the WHO's Ivermectin Panel
The WHO Ivermectin Panel arbitrarily included only a narrow selection of the available medical studies that their research team had been instructed to collect when formulating their recommendation, with virtually no explanation why they excluded such a voluminous amount of supportive medical evidence. This was made obvious at the outset due to the following:
No pre-established protocol for data exclusion was published, which is a clear departure from standard practice in guideline development. The exclusions departed from the WHO's own original search protocol it required of Unitaid's ivermectin research, which collected a much wider array of randomized controlled trials (RCT). Key Ivermectin Trial Data Excluded from Analysis
The WHO excluded all ''quasi-randomized'' RCTs from consideration (two excluded trials with over 200 patients that reported reductions in mortality). The WHO excluded all RCTs where ivermectin was compared to or given with other medications. Two such trials with over 750 patients reported reductions in mortality. The WHO excluded from consideration 7 of the 23 available ivermectin RCT results. Such irregularities skewed the proper assessment of important outcomes in at least the following ways: Mortality Assessment WHO Review: Excluded multiple RCTs such that only 31 total trials deaths occurred; despite this artificially meager sample, an estimate of up to a 91% reduction in the risk of death was found.[1] Compared to the BIRD Review: Included 13 RCTs with 107 deaths observed and found a 2.5% mortality with ivermectin vs. 8.9% in controls; estimated reduction in risk of death=68%; highly statistically significant, (p=.007). Assessment of Impacts on Viral Clearance WHO Review: 6 RCTs, 625 patients. The Panel avoided mention of the important finding of a strong dose-response in regard to this outcome. This action in (i) is indefensible given that their Unitaid research team found that among 13 RCTs, 10 of the 13 reported statistically significant reductions in time to viral clearance, with larger reductions with multiday dosing than single-day, consistent with a profound dose-response relationship.[2] Adverse Effects WHO: Only included 3 RCTs studying this outcome. Although no statistical significance was found, the slight imbalance in this limited sample allowed the panel to repeatedly document concerns for ''harm'' with ivermectin treatment. Compare (a) to the WHO's prior safety analysis in their 2018 Application for Inclusion of Ivermectin onto Essential Medicines List for Indication of Scabie s: ''Over one billion doses have been given in large-scale prevention programs.'' '' Adverse events associated with ivermectin treatment. are primarily minor and transient .''[3] The WHO excluded all RCTs studying the prevention of COVID-19 with ivermectin, without supporting rationale. Three RCTs including almost 800 patients found an over 90% reduction in the risk of infection when ivermectin is taken preventively.[4] The WHO excluded observational controlled trials (OCT), with 14 studies of ivermectin. These included thousands of patients, including those employing propensity matching, a technique shown to lead to similar accuracy as RCTs. One large, propensity-matched OCT from the US found that ivermectin treatment was associated with a large decrease in mortality. A summary analysis of the combined data from the 14 available ivermectin OCTs found a large and statistically significant decrease in mortality. The WHO excluded numerous published and posted epidemiologic studies, despite requesting and receiving a presentation of the results from one leading epidemiologic research team. These studies found: In numerous cities and regions with population-wide ivermectin distribution campaigns, large decreases in both excess deaths and COVID-19 case fatality rates were measured immediately following the campaigns. Countries with pre-existing ivermectin prophylaxis campaigns against parasites demonstrate significantly lower COVID-19 case counts and deaths compared to neighboring countries without such campaigns. Assessment of the Quality of the Evidence Base by WHO Guideline Group
The numerous above actions minimizing the extent of the evidence base were then compounded by the below efforts to minimize the quality of the evidence base :
The WHO mischaracterized the overall quality of the included trials as ''low'' to ''very low,'' conflicting with numerous independent expert research group findings:
An international expert guideline group independently reviewed the BIRD proceeding and instead found the overall quality of trials to be ''moderate.'' The WHO's own Unitaid systematic review team currently grade the overall quality as ''moderate.'' The WHO graded the largest trial it included to support a negative assessment of ivermectin's mortality impacts as ''low risk of bias.'' A large number of expert reviewers have graded that same trial as ''high risk of bias,'' detailed in an open letter signed by over 100 independent physicians. We must emphasize this critical fact: If the WHO had more accurately assessed the quality of evidence as ''moderate certainty,'' consistent with the multiple independent research teams above, ivermectin would instead become the standard of care worldwide, similar to what occurred after the dexamethasone evidence finding decreased mortality was graded as moderate quality, which then led to its immediate global adoption in the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19 in July of 2020.[5]
Further, The WHO's own guideline protocol stipulates that quality assessments should be upgraded when there is the following:
a large magnitude of effect (despite their data estimating a survival benefit of 81%, the low number of studies and events included allowed them to dismiss this finding as ''very low certainty'') or; evidence of a dose-response relationship. The WHO shockingly omits the well-publicized reports by their Unitaid research team of a powerful dose-response relationship with viral clearance. In sum, the WHO's recommendation that ''ivermectin not be used outside clinical trials'' is based entirely upon:
the dismissal of large amounts of trial data; the inaccurate downgrading of evidence quality; and the deliberate omission of a dose-response relationship with viral clearance. Consequently, these actions formed the basis of their ability to avoid a recommendation for immediate global use.
Even more surprising is that based on their ''very low certainty'' finding, the panel goes on to ''infer'' that '' most patients would be reluctant to use a medication for which the evidence left high uncertainty regarding effects on outcomes they consider important.''
This statement is insupportable in light of the above actions. No patient could ever rationally consent to a trial in which they were acutely ill and would be subject to the possibility of receiving a placebo, once informed of: the large amount of relevant and positive trials that the WHO removed from consideration, their avoidance of reporting a large dose-response relationship, and their widely contradicted ''very low certainty'' grading of large mortality benefits. Such a trial would result in a historic ethical research violation, causing both a widespread loss of life and a resultant loss of trust in PHAs and research institutions for decades to come.
The many methods employed by the WHO to distort the evidence base and arrive at a non-recommendation are made even more suspicious and questionable by the following:
The WHO GDG did not hold a vote on the use of ivermectin. This highly irregular decision was purportedly based on the Ivermectin Panel's ''consensus on evidence certainty.'' Unitaid Sponsors allegedly inserted multiple limitations and weakened the conclusions in the preprint, systematic review manuscript by the Unitaid research team, which has recently led to formal charges of scientific misconduct. Recent WHO whistleblower complaints of external influences in other WHO Covid reports , as well as attempts by massive external funding organizations to increase their influence in formulating WHO policies. The finding of marked differences in the evidence bases used to support prior WHO/BIRD guideline recommendations for ivermectin in other diseases: WHO: Approved ivermectin in the treatment of scabies based on 10 RCTs that included only 852 patients, despite it being inferior to the standard of care. FDA: Approved ivermectin in the treatment of strongyloidiasis based on 5 RCTs that included only 591 patients. BIRD: Approved ivermectin in March, 2021, for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 based on 21 RCTs and 2,741 patients. Conclusion
As expert clinician-researchers in society, we are firmly committed to ensuring that public health p olicy decisions derive from scientific data. Disturbingly, a fter extensive analysis of the recent WHO ivermectin guideline recommendation, we could not arrive at a credible scientific rationale to explain the numerous irregular, arbitrary, and inconsistent behaviors documented above. Further, after consultation with numerous physicians, guideline reviewers, legal experts, and veteran PHA scientists, we identified two major socio-political-economic forces that serve as the main barrier influences preventing ivermectin's incorporation into public health policy in major parts of the world. They are:
1) the modern structure and function of what we will describe as ''Big Science'' and;
2) the presence of an active ''Political-Economic Disinformation Campaign.''
''Big Science''
Also known as '' Big RCT Fundamentalism ,'' Big Science reflects a dramatic shift in the practice of modern evidence-based medicine (EBM). Beginning before COVID, it has since rapidly evolved into the current system that more tightly meshes the entities of ''Big Pharma,'' ''Big PHA's/Academic Health Centers'' (AMC), ''Big Journals,'' ''Big Media,'' and ''Big Social Media'' into the public health system's efforts at guiding patient care, research and policy.
The structure and function of ''Big Science'' in COVID-19 is most simply represented as follows:
Only arbitrarily defined, ''large, well-designed'' RCTs (Big RCT), generally conducted on North American or European shores, can ''prove'' the efficacy of a medicine. Only Big Pharma/Big PHA/AMCs have the resources/infrastructure to conduct Big-RCTs. (Many equate Big PHA/AMC with Big Pharma, given the funding source of the former.) Only Big RCTs by Big Pharma or Big PHA/AMC can publish study findings in high-impact, high-income country medical journals (Big Journals). Only medicines supported by Big Journal publications are deemed to have ''sufficient evidence'' and ''proven efficacy'' to then be recommended by Big PHAs. Only medicines recommended by Big PHAs are covered by ''Big Media'' or escape censorship on ''Big Social Media.'' Conversely, repurposed, off-patient medications such as ivermectin do not attract Big PHA or Big Pharma sponsors to conduct the mandatory Big RCT. Given this structural handicap, many effective medicines including ivermectin are consequently incapable of ever meeting Big PHA standards for approval in such a system. In the case of ivermectin, it is then considered, first by Big PHAs, then throughout Big Media and Big Social media, to be ''unproven'' given it lacks ''sufficient evidence'' and is thus heavily censored from public discussion and awareness. Mentions of ivermectin on Big Social Media led to the removal of a popular Facebook group (''Ivermectin MD Team'' with over 10,000 followers). Additionally, all YouTube videos mentioning ivermectin in treatment of Covid-19 were removed or demonetized, as well as Twitter pages locked. Further, in Big Media, even the most credentialed independent and expert groups who recommend ivermectin based on a large body of irrefutable evidence are labeled as ''controversial'' and purveyors of ''medical misinformation .''
A health system structured to function in this manner is clearly vulnerable to and overly influenced by entities with financial interests. Further, in Covid, such systems have evolved into rigidly operating via top-down edicts and widespread censoring. This allows little ability for emerging scientific developments not funded by Big Pharma to be disseminated from within the system or through media or social media until years later when, and if, a Big RCT is completed. This barrier has presented as an enduring horror throughout the pandemic given the widespread loss of life caused by the systematic withholding of numerous rapidly identified, safe and effective, repurposed medicines for fear of using ''unproven therapies'' without ''sufficient evidence'' for use. Alternatively, and for the first time in many physicians' careers, those who seek to treat their patients with such therapies, based on their professional interpretation of the existing evidence are restricted by their employers issuing edicts ''from above.'' They are then forced to follow protocols that rely predominantly on pharmaceutically engineered therapeutics.
It must be recognized that distinct from ''regulatory'' agencies such as the FDA, whose system often relies upon the primary importance of a ''Big RCT,'' stronger foundations used by PHAs are available. One of the long-standing tenets of modern evidence-based medicine is that the highest form of medical evidence is a ''systematic review and meta-analysis'' of RCTs and not a sole Big RCT. Disturbingly, not one of the Big PHAs mention this established principle or their long-standing reliance on such evidence-based practices for issuing recommendations. In the case of ivermectin, they willfully ignore the multiple published expert meta-analyses of ivermectin RCTs, including almost two dozen trials and thousands of patients, reporting consistent reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance.
These improvements are found consistently and repeatedly, no matter the RCT design, size, or quality, and from varied centers and countries throughout the world. All studies were done without any identified conflict of interest with the vast majority of double-blind, single-blind, quasi-randomized, open-label, standard of care comparison, combination therapy comparisons, etc., reporting benefits. Satoshi Omura, Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of ivermectin, wrote in his team's recent review paper that '' the probability of this judgement on ivermectin's superior clinical performance being false is estimated to be 1 in 4 trillion .'' This supports our public warnings against further ''placebo-controlled trials'' given the near absolute certainty of harm to research subjects included in a placebo Big RCT.
Conversely, despite sitting atop the highest form of medical evidence , many non-regulatory Big PHAs around the world cry out for a Big RCT. This is while avoiding the issuance of even one of the several ''weaker'' recommendation options available to them in the setting of a low-cost, widely available medicine with an unparalleled safety profile and a constantly surging humanitarian crisis, even in the interim . Insufficient evidence , unproven '-- these are comments from WHO, NIH, Europe's EMA, South Africa's SAPHRA, France's ANSM, United Kingdom's MHRA, and Australia's TGA.
Most disturbing to contemplate is our estimation that if the use of penicillin in bacterial infection were to have been tested in these same numbers and types of trials in the 1940s, the graphical display of benefits would look nearly identical to those found with ivermectin. Further, the U.S Cures Act of 2016, ''specifically designed to accelerate and bring new innovations and advances faster and more efficiently to the patients who need them'' emphasized the importance of using various forms of ''real-world evidence'' data to aid in regulatory decision-making. We can find no evidence of an organized effort to examine the more than 14, often large OCTs that show evidence of the substantial beneficial use of ivermectin. Further, no PHA has cited the numerous convincing epidemiological analyses that find rapidly falling case fatality rates following ivermectin distribution campaigns.
With the lack of a credible explanation for the absence of even a weak recommendation for ivermectin in the setting of widespread increased death rates from COVID-19, numerous citizens have speculated that this can only be explained by the presence of an active disinformation campaign by entities with nonscientific and largely financial objectives dependant on the non-recognition of ivermectin's efficacy. We explore the near certainty of this occurring below.
Active Political-Economic ''Disinformation'' Campaign
''Disinformation'' campaigns, best described in the article, '' The Disinformation Playbook ,'' are initiated when independent science interferes with or opposes the interests of corporations or policymakers. Although thankfully rare, in certain cases these entities will actively seek to manipulate science and distort the truth about scientific findings that imperil their profit or policy objectives. First developed by the tobacco industry decades ago, these deceptive tactics include the following;
The Fake: Conduct counterfeit science and try to pass it off as legitimate research. The Blitz: Harass scientists speaking out with results inconvenient for industry. The Diversion: Manufacture uncertainty about science where little or none exists. The Screen: Buy credibility through alliances with academia/professional societies. The Fix: Manipulate government processes to influence policy inappropriately. Numerous examples of the above disinformation tactics by corporations and policymakers, particularly within the pharmaceutical industry, have been documented:
Georgia Pacific publishing ''fake science'' on the dangers of asbestos (The Fake) Merck manipulating the science around the drug Vioxx (The Fake) The NFL intimidating and discrediting scientists reporting link between football and Traumatic Brain Injury (The Blitz) GlaxoSmithKline silencing scientist s exposing the dangers of Avandia (The Blitz) American Chemistry Council sows uncertainty about formaldehyde risks (The Diversion) Purdue Pharma partners with academic centers to hide dangers of opioids (The Screen) Pfizer pressures FDA to downplay risk of animal drug causing high arsenic (The Fix) Most worrisome is that ivermectin appears to be up against one of the largest financial and global policy oppositions in modern history, including but not limited to:
Numerous Big Pharma companies and sovereign nations selling billions of vaccine doses. Scale of market for vaccines now exponentially increasing due to the developing market for ''booster shots'' against rapidly appearing variants. Big Pharma now promising investors to employ price hikes on vaccines as COVID-19 passes from a ''pandemic'' to an ''endemic.'' Concerns of numerous Big Pharma and Big PHA's that if ivermectin is approved as effective treatment for COVID-19, EUAs for all vaccines would be revoked. Disinformation: FDA posted notices overstating the dangers of ivermectin and against use of ivermectin ; despite not having reviewed the trials data. Disinformation: WHO Panel dismisses/ignores most of available evidence base. Disinformation: WHO Panel avoids bringing ivermectin evidence to a vote. Disinformation: Unitaid sponsor influences writing of manuscript conclusions. Disinformation: EMA erroneously claims effective concentrations are unattainable. Numerous Big Pharma/Big PHA concerns that ivermectin's potential as an alternative to vaccines may increase vaccine hesitancy and disrupt mass vaccination rollouts. Opponents include large philanthropic sponsors with global vaccination goals. Disinformation: WHO Panel does not review ivermectin prevention trials. Numerous Big Pharma company investments in novel, engineered therapies (i.e., oral antivirals by Merck and Pfizer and Gilead) directly compete with ivermectin. Disinformation: Merck places a post on their website , without scientific supporting evidence or named scientist authors that: ''No evidence of either a mechanism of action, clinical efficacy or safety in COVID-19 exists.'' Disinformation: A Merck managing director argues against use in the Philippines by stating: ''The levels of evidence do not come up to standards.'' Big Pharma company's (Astra-Zeneca) investment into a long-acting antibody product for prevention and treatment of COVID-19, which competes with ivermectin. Numerous Big Pharma's monoclonal antibody products that compete with ivermectin. Big Pharma's Remdesivir demand would rapidly decline once hospitalizations were to decrease after ivermectin approval. Based on the lack of a rational explanation for the above actions by WHO, Merck, FDA, and Unitaid, we conclude that they result from an active disinformation campaign, executed both through the PHA's, media and the WHO Guideline group recommendations. As highly published researchers, we find the allegations of scientific misconduct in the writing of the WHO/United research team's meta-analysis manuscript to be deeply disturbing. It clearly represents a disinformation tactic with an intent to distort and diminish the reporting of a large magnitude benefit on mortality among many hundreds of patients. Further, Merck's demonstrably and blatantly false statements against ivermectin deserve no further discussion. It is yet another entry into the disturbing historical record of actions committed by a Big Pharma entity with the primary intent of protecting profit at the expense of the welfare of global citizens.
For These Compelling and Irrefutable Reasons, The FLCCC Makes a Call to Action
This call to action is no longer just to health authorities, but to citizens everywhere to fight back against these disinformation tactics. We find the advice of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to be an excellent guide to action in this regard:
Global Citizens
Share the playbook with your social media networks when you see new examples like those outlined above. Set the record straight. When you see someone spreading disinformation on a topic, counter it. There are millions around the world who either have studied the data or have experience with the potent efficacy of ivermectin in COVID-19. It is important to correct false assertions. Consider divesting your retirement funds and other investments from companies engaging in disinformation. Fellow Scientists
Become a UCS Network Watchdog to help track and resist attacks on science. If a governmental or NGO scientist , report actions that diminish their role in policymaking. Media
Avoid false equivalencies that distort scientific consensus. Correct the record when scientific information is misrepresented, particularly by Big PHA/Big Pharma. Report abuses of science in government. As an expert group of ivermectin researchers, we are unsure of what else to offer in order to correct or counteract this misrepresentation of an important drug. Our belief is that, of the above actions, the most effective counter to the disinformation campaign would be that a whistleblower become active from within WHO, the FDA, the NIH, Merck, or Unitaid. This moment in history demands a man or woman with the courage and conviction to step forward. Urgently.
In both the interests of humanity and to motivate and inspire such a citizen of the world, we leave you with the words of Albert Einstein: '' The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them and do nothing. ''
[1]Special emphasis must be placed on this decision; selecting only trials where very few deaths occurred. (n.b., the number of events observed within trials is a primary criterion for judging the ''certainty of evidence''). This action provides almost the entire basis for the panel's assessment of a ''very low certainty of evidence.'' It is in effect, a ''smoking gun,'' one of the many actions above demonstrating that the primary objective of the Panel was to recommend against use of ivermectin. [2]This omission is the second most important action allowing the panel to find a ''very low certainty of evidence,'' given that, per WHO protocol, if a dose-response relationship is found, the certainty of evidence must be upgraded. [3] Special emphasis must be placed on the harm of excluding trials data supporting ivermectin in the prevention of COVID-19. If the preventive efficacy of ivermectin were to be known or accepted, this would allow deployment in regions without vaccines. [4] British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) panel (2021). The BIRD Recommendation on the Use of Ivermectin for COVID-19. Full report. [5]The FLCCC Alliance recommended, as well as gave U.S. Senate testimony in support of, the use of corticosteroids in COVID-19 months before this announcement, during the prolonged period when all PHAs recommended against its use
The Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance
Pierre Kory, MD Keith Berkowitz, MD Paul E. Marik, MD Fred Wagshul, MD Umberto Meduri, MDScott Mitchell, MBChB Joseph Varon, MD Eivind Vinjevoll, MD Jose Iglesias, DO
Vaccine Hesitancy
Deadly Chemicals in Moderna vaccine
Love the show, and I am a couple of shows behind, so I don't know if you saw this. Our state released the ingredients of the Moderna Vaccine, and the third ingredient down is something called SM-102, which according to MSDS sheets, is not for human or animal use. It does take a large does to kill you, but if you look at the MSDS sheets, reproduce harm is clearly visible, as is damage to the kindeys, central nervous system, liver and respiratory system. I know John was an air pollution guy, so I'm hoping he can look at the MSDS sheet, maybe I am reading it wrong. Either way, I just thought I should bring it to the shows attention. Thanks for all you do!
Absolute risk reduction from vaccines
AstraZeneca: 1.3%
Pfizer / BioNTech_Group: 0.84%
Moderna: 1.2%
J&J: 1.2%
Gamaleya/Sputnik V: 0.84%
COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness—the elephant (not) in the room
"Although the RRR considers only participants who could benefit from the vaccine, the absolute risk reduction (ARR), which is the difference between attack rates with and without a vaccine, considers the whole population. ARRs tend to be ignored because they give a much less impressive effect size than RRRs: 1·3% for the AstraZeneca–Oxford, 1·2% for the Moderna–NIH, 1·2% for the J&J, 0·93% for the Gamaleya, and 0·84% for the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccines."
HIV/AIDS vaccine: Why don't we have one after 37 years, when we have several for COVID-19 after a few months?
Tue, 18 May 2021 15:29
Smallpox has been eradicated from the face of the Earth following a highly effective, worldwide vaccination campaign. Paralytic poliomyelitis is no longer a problem in the U.S. because of development and use of effective vaccines against the poliovirus. In current times, millions of lives have been saved because of rapid deployment of effective vaccines against COVID-19. And yet, it has been 37 years since HIV was discovered as the cause of AIDS, and there is no vaccine. Here I will describe the difficulties facing development of an effective vaccine against HIV/AIDS.
I am a professor of pathology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. My laboratory is credited with the discovery of the monkey virus called SIV, or simian immunodeficiency virus. SIV is the close monkey relative of the virus that causes AIDS in humans '' HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. My research has contributed importantly to the understanding of the mechanisms by which HIV causes disease and to vaccine development efforts.
Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the difficulty of finding a vaccine for HIV/AIDS in 2017. HIV vaccine development efforts have come up shortVaccines have unquestionably been society's most potent weapon against viral diseases of medical importance. When the new disease AIDS burst onto the scene in the early 1980s and the virus that caused it was discovered in 1983-84, it was only natural to think that the research community would be able to develop a vaccine for it.
At a now famous press conference in 1984 announcing HIV as the cause of AIDS, then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler predicted that a vaccine would be available in two years. Well, it is now 37 years later and there is no vaccine. The rapidity of COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution puts the lack of an HIV vaccine in stark contrast. The problem is not failure of government. The problem is not lack of spending. The difficulty lies in the HIV virus itself. In particular, this includes the remarkable HIV strain diversity and the immune evasion strategies of the virus.
So far there have been five large-scale Phase 3 vaccine efficacy trials against HIV, each at a cost of over US$100 million. The first three of these failed quite convincingly; no protection against acquisition of HIV infection, no lowering of viral loads in those who did become infected. In fact, in the third of these trials, the STEP trial, there was a statistically significant higher frequency of infection in individuals who had been vaccinated.
The fourth trial, the controversial Thai RV144 trial, initially reported a marginal degree of successful protection against the acquisition of HIV infection among vaccinated individuals. However, a subsequent statistical analysis reported that there was less than a 78% chance that the protection against acquisition was real.
A fifth vaccine trial, the HVTN 702 trial, was ordered to confirm and extend the results of the RV144 trial. The HVTN702 trial was halted early because of futility. No protection against acquisition. No lowering of viral load. Ouch.
The complexity of HIVWhat is the problem? The biological properties that HIV has evolved make development of a successful vaccine very, very difficult. What are those properties?
First and foremost is the continuous unrelenting virus replication. Once HIV gets its foot in the door, it's ''gotcha.'' Many vaccines do not protect absolutely against the acquisition of an infection, but they are able to severely limit the replication of the virus and any illness that might result. For a vaccine to be effective against HIV, it will likely need to provide an absolute sterilizing barrier and not just limit viral replication.
HIV has evolved an ability to generate and to tolerate many mutations in its genetic information. The consequence of this is an enormous amount of variation among strains of the virus not only from one individual to another but even within a single individual. Let's use influenza for a comparison. Everyone knows that people need to get revaccinated against influenza virus each season because of season-to-season variability in the influenza strain that is circulating. Well, the variability of HIV within a single infected individual exceeds the entire worldwide sequence variability in the influenza virus during an entire season.
What are we going to put into a vaccine to cover this extent of strain variability?
HIV has also evolved an incredible ability to shield itself from recognition by antibodies. Enveloped viruses such as coronaviruses and herpes viruses encode a structure on their surface that each virus uses to gain entry into a cell. This structure is called a ''glycoprotein,'' meaning that it is composed of both sugars and protein. But the HIV envelope glycoprotein is extreme. It is the most heavily sugared protein of all viruses in all 22 families. More than half the weight is sugar. And the virus has figured out a way, meaning the virus has evolved by natural selection, to use these sugars as shields to protect itself from recognition by antibodies that the infected host is trying to make. The host cell adds these sugars and then views them as self.
These properties have important consequences relevant for vaccine development efforts. The antibodies that an HIV-infected person makes typically have only very weak neutralizing activity against the virus. Furthermore, these antibodies are very strain-specific; they will neutralize the strain with which the individual is infected but not the thousands and thousands of other strains circulating in the population. Researchers know how to elicit antibodies that will neutralize one strain, but not antibodies with an ability to protect against the thousands and thousands of strains circulating in the population. That's a major problem for vaccine development efforts.
HIV is continually evolving within a single infected individual to stay one step ahead of the immune responses. The host elicits a particular immune response that attacks the virus. This puts selective pressure on the virus, and through natural selection a mutated virus variant appears that is no longer recognized by the individual's immune system. The result is continuous unrelenting viral replication.
[Understand new developments in science, health and technology, each week. Subscribe to The Conversation's science newsletter.]
So, should we researchers give up? No, we shouldn't. One approach researchers are trying in animal models in a couple of laboratories is to use herpes viruses as vectors to deliver the AIDS virus proteins. The herpes virus family is of the ''persistent'' category. Once infected with a herpes virus, you are infected for life. And immune responses persist not just as memory but in a continually active fashion. Success of this approach, however, will still depend on figuring out how to elicit the breadth of immune responses that will allow coverage against the vast complexity of HIV sequences circulating in the population.
Another approach is to go after protective immunity from a different angle. Although the vast majority of HIV-infected individuals make antibodies with weak, strain-specific neutralizing activity, some rare individuals do make antibodies with potent neutralizing activity against a broad range of HIV isolates. These antibodies are rare and highly unusual, but we scientists do have them in our possession.
Also, scientists have recently figured out a way to achieve protective levels of these antibodies for life from a single administration. For life! This delivery depends on a viral vector, a vector called adeno-associated virus. When the vector is administered to muscle, muscle cells become factories that continuously produce the potent broadly neutralizing antibodies. Researchers have recently documented continuous production for six and a half years in a monkey.
We are making progress. We must not give up.
Employees at plant that ruined millions of J&J Covid vaccine doses failed to shower, change clothes
Wed, 19 May 2021 18:05
Employees work in a lab at Emergent Biosolutions on February 8, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Michael Robinson Chavez | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Some employees at the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore failed to shower or change clothes, which is required when working in the factory and it likely played a role in ruining millions of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 doses, according to a memo released Wednesday by a key House committee.
Inspections of the Bayview facility conducted last year also flagged problems with mold, poor disinfection of plant equipment and inadequate training of employees, staff for the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said in the memo. The committee is holding a hearing Wednesday examining the biopharmaceutical company's role in ruining the J&J shots.
Even though inspectors found poor conditions at the plant, top executives were awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses last year and were praised by the company's board for their leadership, according to other documents released by the committee.
Emergent CEO Robert Kramer received a $1.2 million bonus last year, according to one document, while three other executives received payments of more than $400,000.
The U.S. government awarded the company a $628 million contract last year to help make coronavirus vaccines.
Emergent did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.
The hearing Wednesday comes more than a month after the Biden administration put J&J in charge of the Baltimore plant after U.S. officials learned that Emergent, a federal contractor that had been making key ingredients for J&J and AstraZeneca, cross-contaminated ingredients for the two shots.
During the hearing, Kramer said the FDA is holding over 100 million J&J Covid-19 vaccine doses for further testing.
"There are a significant number of doses that we've manufactured. Again, we manufacture the bulk drug substances," Kramer told lawmakers. "It has been reported in a number of news agencies that there are probably over 100 million doses of the J&J vaccine that we've manufactured that are now being evaluated by the FDA for potential release and availability."
An inspection by the Food and Drug Administration later found the plant was unsanitary and unsuitable to manufacture the shots. In a 13-page report, inspectors wrote that the facility used to manufacture the vaccine was "not maintained in a clean and sanitary condition" and was "not of suitable size, design, and location to facilitate cleaning, maintenance, and proper operations."
FDA inspectors said paint was observed to be peeling in multiple areas and walls were damaged that could impact Emergent's "ability to adequately clean and disinfect." They also noted that employees did not follow standard operating procedures in handling waste or vaccine manufacturing materials to ensure they weren't contaminated.
The facility has not been authorized by the FDA to manufacture or distribute Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine, and none of the doses manufactured at the plant have been distributed for use in the United States. Emergent has agreed to pause production of materials until the issues the FDA identified are resolved.
Emergent said at the time it was committed to working with the FDA and J&J to fix the problems.
"While we are never satisfied to see shortcomings in our manufacturing facilities or process, they are correctable and we will take swift action to remedy them," it said in a statement on April 21.
Denmark Races to Dig Up the Millions of Dead Mink It Just Killed
Mon, 17 May 2021 20:00
A truck unloads dead mink into a ditch as members of Danish health authorities assisted by members of the Danish Armed Forces bury the animals in a military area near Holstebro, Denmark on November 9, 2020. Image: MORTEN STRICKER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images
Denmark is digging up mass graves containing the bodies of millions of dead mink after a report from the country's environmental agency warned that they could contaminate local groundwater.
Last year, Danish officials reported that minks were infecting humans with a mutated COVID-19 strain, leading to harsh containment measures and the eventual decision to cull Denmark's entire 17 million mink population in November of 2020. Denmark has one of the largest mink industries in the world, with the country exporting the mammal's fur to high-fashion companies and coat manufacturers.
Ever since the government's decision to kill the minks, however, just about everything seems to have been gone wrong.
First, Danish officials culled the animals illegally, leading to the eventual resignation of former Minister of Agriculture Mogens Jensen and calls for the entire government to resign.
Then, millions of minks were hastily buried in mass graves that were not actually deep enough. Overtime, the gases released from the decaying bodies meant that some deceased mink resurfaced, in what daily national newspaper Berlingske described as ''zombie mink rising from the grave.''
After locals complained of foul smells and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the bodies will pollute local groundwater in two to three years, Danish parliamentarians agreed to remove them in December, but work only just started last week.
''The disposal of the minks did not go optimally,'' Rasmus Prehn, Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries told the daily German newspaper Tagesschau. ''Ideally, they would have been incinerated straight away, but we had capacity issues and chose the disposal option instead.''
''I think many wish this could have been avoided,'' Prehn continued. ''But that's what we decided at the time, and that decision came under a lot of pressure.
After the operation has concluded, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration plans to set up treatment plants for the water in the area. Meanwhile, the excavated mink bodies will be incinerated. In total, the operation is expected to last two months.
But for local residents it seems like things will only be getting worse in the immediate future, with officials warning of a ''major odor nuisance'' as the mammals are dug up.
The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Magnetic vaxx test
I have tested vials of Janssen (J&J), Pfizer, Moderna and the Diluent (mixes with Pfizer to dilute it). None of these are magnetized or affected by a household magnet.
Lab or Bat
Why the Covid-19 'Lab Leak Theory" Needs Another Look | Medium
Wed, 19 May 2021 17:30
In early spring 2020, I reported an article for The New York Times on which I put the tentative headline: ''New Coronavirus Is 'Clearly Not a Lab Leak,' Scientists Say.''
It never ran.
For two reasons.
The chief one was that inside the Times, we were sharply divided. My colleagues who cover national security were being assured by their Trump administration sources '-- albeit anonymously and with no hard evidence '-- that it was a lab leak and the Chinese were covering it up. We science reporters were hearing from virologists and zoologists '-- on the record and in great detail '-- that the odds were overwhelming that it was not a lab leak but an animal spillover.
Frankly, the scientists had more credibility.
The other reason my story never ran was that it was 4,000 words long and full of expressions like ''polybasic cleavage site,'' ''RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene'' and ''O-linked glycan shields.'' Editors would open it, their eyeballs would bleed, and they would close it and find something else to do.
(Back then, editors blanched even at ''spike protein'' and ''receptor binding domain,'' but we've all had a crash course in virology this year, haven't we?)
Although it never ran, others like it did elsewhere. The experts all agreed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not a deliberate weaponization of a previously known virus and that it had no obvious signs of lab manipulation (more details below). They noted that blood sampling showed that brief ''spillovers'' of animal viruses into humans happen often without causing large outbreaks.
Therefore, they argued, the odds were that this was another virus that got lucky, like SARS and MERS and the 2009 pandemic flu: it had dwelled long enough inside a civet or camel or pig or something to infect human-like cells, and then had hit the big city.
For about a year, that was the general wisdom among science writers. The ''lab-leak theory'' migrated back to the far right where it had started '-- championed by the folks who brought us Pizzagate, the Plandemic, Kung Flu, Q-Anon, Stop the Steal, and the January 6 Capitol invasion. It was tarred by the fact that everyone backing it seemed to hate not just Democrats and the Chinese Communist Party, but even the Chinese themselves. It spawned racist rumors like ''Chinese labs sell their dead experimental animals in food markets.''
China retorting to Trump administration nonsense with nonsense of its own '-- such as suggesting that U.S. military officers planted the virus during a visit to Wuhan in October 2019 '-- did not help.
And now to the present day.
Two weeks ago, my former New York Times science news colleague Nicholas Wade wrote an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (and on Medium) arguing that the lab-leak theory deserves a harder look.
It has since been sent to me a dozen times with notes asking ''What do you think?''
My first reaction was dismissive, even though I very much respect Nick as a journalist. (Some of his work is controversial and he can be cranky, but who am I to criticize anyone on those grounds?) I covered the pandemic from its earliest days and I disagreed with his retelling of how the leak-vs.-spillover debate began.
Also, I was offended by some aspects, such as his attacks on Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, both of whom I have known for years; I know both are dedicated to saving lives, and they have always told me the truth '-- or what they honestly believed to be the truth at the time, because evidence sometimes changes. They are now both getting death threats, and that is repulsive.
The N.I.H.-funded EcoHealth Alliance does not do dangerous lab research; it doesn't even have a lab. It hunts for dangerous viruses in the field; its zoologists teach people how to safely gather samples from bats, birds, chimpanzees and other creatures fortified with claws, teeth, beaks, muscles and pathogens.
That's work I consider as essential as staffing the radar stations that watch for missiles coming over the North Pole. The Trump administration was insane to cut off funding for it. You need to know what's coming at you. Actually cooking up novel threats is a different matter, of which more below.
I was also bothered by Nick quoting Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To my mind, after being warned about the virus by his Chinese counterpart in the first week of January, Dr. Redfield failed to shout from the rooftops and move mountains '-- and now 600,000 Americans are dead. He also raised the specter of a flu-Covid ''twindemic'' that turned out to be virological alarmism.
The deeper I read into the papers and articles Nick cited, the clearer it became how much new information had trickled out in the last year. Not new to the most intense and well-educated followers of this topic, but new to the greater public debate. I include articles like this, this, this, this and this by Yuri Deigin, Rossana Segretto, Milton Leitenberg, Josh Rogin, Nicholson Baker and others.
And more and and more scientists feel misled.
I now agree with Nick's central conclusion: We still do not know the source of this awful pandemic. We may never know. But the argument that it could have leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or a sister lab in Wuhan has become considerably stronger than it was a year ago, when the screaming was so loud that it drowned out serious discussion.
And China's lack of candor is disturbing. It denies access to the institute's lab logs and whatever messages were swapped during its own investigations, took down 2018 statements critical of lab biosecurity protocols, retaliated against Australia for advocating an open investigation and sharply restricted the W.H.O. investigators.
Calls for a better probe are mounting. Last week, 18 biologists, including leading and outspoken experts on this pandemic like the Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch and Yale immunologist Akiko Iwasaki, published a letter in Science calling for a new investigation and demanding that Chinese labs and public health agencies open their records to outside scrutiny.
To my mind, China could be forgiven for its standoffishness in early 2020. It was busy fighting its own pandemic. And if China had, say, arrogantly offered to teach the American C.D.C. how to investigate America's killer hamburgers '-- the equivalent of the way the Trump administration spoke to China back then '-- we would have snubbed them too.
But now, 17 months later, China is persistently acting like a nation hiding something.
Also worrying: the hunt for the spillover theory's smoking gun '-- a very closely related natural virus in a human or an animal '-- has gone on for over a year. Success would mean big prizes for the discoverer '-- especially from the Chinese government, which could say ''See??''
And yet '-- zip. That doesn't mean it won't be found. But by now we might have expected at least some smoking shell casings.
I had been skeptical of the ''lab leak'' theory because animal spillover is such an obvious answer. Genetics has proven that almost every disease mankind has faced jumped from animals: bubonic plague from rodents, measles probably from cows, whooping cough maybe from dogs, and so on.
Also, the leak idea was just too conveniently conspiratorial.
I've covered several pandemics and studied others and one element is consistent: they start in utter confusion that defies any sense that an evil genius at work. Doctors know something's wrong, but aren't sure what. That was true when American veterans started dying of pneumonia after a 1976 convention (Legionnaire's disease); when the Bronx Zoo's birds started dropping dead in 1999 (West Nile virus); when young nurses fell ill in Mexico City in 2009 (swine flu); when camel butchers died in Saudi Arabia (MERS); and when Brazilian babies were born with shrunken heads (Zika).
This pandemic's opening days were also shrouded in fog, and yes, there was a government coverup. But it was outed immediately and it didn't emanate from Beijing.
In late December 2019, doctors at hospitals near the Huanan Seafood Market began seeing a strange viral pneumonia they couldn't identify. On Dec. 30, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued a warning.
It was quickly picked by disease-alert websites like FluTrackers and ProMED; the W.H.O. put out an alert the next day. The New York Times wrote its first article on January 6, from Beijing; I started helping my China colleagues soon after.
By that time, one coverup had been underway for a week. Wuhan's politically ambitious mayor, Zhou Xianwang, was eager to protect the local party congress he had scheduled for January and the pot-luck dinner for 40,000 Wuhanese he hoped would get him into the Guinness Book of Records.
On January 1, his police silenced the nervous doctors. The Hainan Seafood Market was closed and hosed down.
That was the equivalent of trampling a crime scene. The market's wild game sellers '-- who might have had the infected animal, if there was one '-- scattered. Any live animals or fresh meat probably went to other markets or into the trash. Customers disappeared. The chance to use the market as the hub of a good epidemiological investigation was lost.
At the same time, other events occurred that looked like coverups, but maybe weren't. As soon as it was clear that the threat was a dangerous new coronavirus, the local health commission and then the national one ordered diagnostic and genetics labs to destroy their samples or surrender them to high-level biosecurity labs. Most labs chose incineration '-- another crime scene wrecked.
That smacked of coverup, and was treated as such by the Trump administration, but it's actually standard safety procedure to prevent outbreaks. Our C.D.C. gave the same order in 2014 when it realized that hospital labs had samples from Ebola patients being treated in Dallas and Omaha. ''We told the labs in Texas and Nebraska to destroy them or send them to Fort Detrick,'' Dr. Pierre E. Rollin, who recently retired from the C.D.C after 26 years of fighting global outbreaks, told me. ''You can call that a cover-up, but it was a public health decision.''
During those first days in Wuhan, a major misconception circulated '-- that the virus did not spread easily between people. The W.H.O. repeated it, so did we. But that was not necessarily deliberate misinformation. With the market closed, the epicenter had scattered a few dozen cases across a city of 11 million. Very few PCR tests existed, and it was the height of flu season. At such times, it's hard to know who infected whom with what.
Also, I don't believe the image of China as a Teflon pyramid with Xi Jinping at the apex, the evil emperor who sees every sparrow that falls. It's like other big countries, even totalitarian ones: messy, with competing scientists and petty bureaucrats. Its flaws often become public despite Beijing's rigid control of the internet.
Each day back then, the rumors got more bizarre. Some scientists claimed the virus had snake genes. Others said it was part H.I.V., triggering claims that it was a bio-weapon.
Some of that fog of war lifted after Beijing sent Dr. Zhong Nanshan, the country's renowned epidemiologist, to Wuhan to demand the truth. On January 20th, Dr. Zhong warned on national TV that the virus was spreading rapidly and that outsiders should stay away. On January 23, Wuhan was cut off from the world, Mayor Xian apologized, and China launched its brutal but amazingly successful effort to crush its epidemic.
The first article I know of blaming the Wuhan Institute of Virology ran on January 26 in the Washington Times, a conservative paper founded by the Unification Church. It seemed based on two elements '-- the lab was in the same city (albeit nine miles from the market), and a brief, speculative quote from an Israeli biowarfare expert, Dany Shoham.
''Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development in Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese BW alignment,'' the paper quoted Dr. Shoham as saying. Any work on biological weapons would be ''definitely covert,'' he added.
When I reached Dr. Shoham by telephone later, he spoke very cautiously. He had not been misquoted, he said, but he emphasized that he had never said that deadly virus came from that lab. He had said only that it ''was possible'' that such a virus could have come from such a lab.
But the rumor was off and running.
Then, on February 3 '-- a week later '-- scientists from that Institute produced what smelled like a smoking gun.
They published an article on Nature's open-access website saying one of the hundreds of coronaviruses gathered from bat caves that was in their freezers was a 96.2 percent match to SARS-CoV-2.
They called it RaTG13 (indicating a Rhinolophus affinis horseshoe bat captured in Tong Guan cave in Yunnan in 2013).
For conspiracy theorists, that was the clincher '-- if the lab had a 96 percent match, it must have leaked the killer.
But many of the world's top virologists leapt to say ''Not so fast.''
Coronaviruses mutate slowly, so a 4 percent mismatch in the 30,000 base pairs of the two viruses meant RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 had diverged maybe 40 years ago, evolutionary geneticists said.
On February 16, as rumors swirled, five of the world's top virologists got together to publish a letter on explaining why animal origin was more likely.
The letter, titled ''The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,'' was later republished in the journal Nature.
Its basic argument was that any lab trying to make a super-dangerous virus would start with the backbone of one already known to be pretty dangerous, like 2002 SARS. This new virus was so different from SARS, especially in its receptor binding domain '-- the crucial bit where the spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor on the surface of a human cell '-- that logically no one would have chosen it.
The binding domain was much closer to one that had been recently found in pangolin viruses, so it was likely the pandemic virus had jumped from bats to an animal '-- perhaps pangolins but not necessarily.
Also, the new virus had a cleavage site unlike those in related coronaviruses. (After binding to a cell, the spike has to ''cleave'' or split open, to meld with the surface and inject its RNA.) The new virus's cleavage site was an unusual set of amino acids in an unusual spot on the genome. Such unexpected choices seemed more likely to happen during the constant random evolution that goes on in nature rather than the logic-driven ''let's try this next'' methods of a lab.
Also the virus's spikes had ''glycans'' which act as shields to protect them from antibodies. A virus sunbathing in a friendly lab cell culture wouldn't need to evolve shields, while a virus constantly fighting off immune system attacks because it was evolving inside an animal would, they argued.
Therefore, they concluded, ''we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.''
The paper's first author, Kristian G. Andersen of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, is still vigorously defending the paper's basic premise '-- that an animal origin is by far the most likely.
But other eminent virologists, including at least one of his co-authors, are wavering.
During the uproar that ensued after the institute revealed that the RaTG13 strain was in its freezers, Dr. Daszak argued that merely having a virus in a frozen fecal pellet meant little. Infections take place only when viruses are warmed up and growing in cell cultures or animals.
Dr. Daszak had worked for years with Dr. Shi Zheng-li, the ''Bat Woman'' who now runs the Wuhan institute. His zoologists and field veterinarians had taught her bat-sampling '-- a dangerous practice even in caves with tourists in bathing suits wandering around.
Freezers contain hundreds of viruses. It is too expensive to fully sequence all of them and impossible to grow them all out in cell culture, he explained. So labs create a set of ''bookmarks.'' They sequence one short gene, called RdRP, that seldom mutates and keep a list of their RdRPs. Sometimes they post their lists to a public database like GISAID or Genbank.
Since the world had previously been looking only for relatives of the dangerous 2002 SARS or MERS, he said, labs would care only if a virus' RdRP gene closely matched those.
''If it doesn't, it's of no interest, so you pop it back in the freezer,'' he said.
Later, if a new dangerous virus turns up, labs can check their bookmarks for a match, thaw that one out and sequence all of it. That was why RaTG13 was found so quickly, he said. Ditto for pangolin virus sequences found in the freezers of the South China Agricultural University.
Because there were no viruses with closer RdRP matches either in public databanks or in a private Wuhan Institute list of 630 unposted RdRP genes he had seen, he said, the Wuhan lab presumably held nothing closer than a 40-year-distant relative of the killer virus.
''Believe me, if there had been, no one would have kept that a secret,'' he said to me more than a year ago. ''It would be a huge discovery. We'd be over the moon.''
Dr. Shi herself later told Scientific American that, when news of the new virus erupted, her first fear was that it had come from her institute. She did not sleep for days, she said, until she had finished checking her lab's logs and assured herself that it had not.
Since then, though, more has come to light about the work done by Dr. Shi's teams.
The most startling bit of information was that, rather than ''finding'' RaTG13 in her freezers in February, Dr. Shi had worked with it since at least 2016, but under a different name, RaBtCoV/4991.
RaBtCoV/4991 had not been gathered at random but from a mineshaft in which miners digging bat guano got pneumonia, some fatally. Dr. Shi's lab sequenced enough of it to be able to say it was the most ''SARS-like'' of the viruses from that investigation.
There were arguments over whether the miners died of fungal pneumonia, viral pneumonia or both, but that link made it a likely suspect for any lab wanting to explore dangerous viruses. Not mentioning her previous work with it was troubling.
Also, Dr. Shi was trained by Ralph S. Baric of the University of North Carolina in building ''chimera'' viruses '-- taking, for example, the spike protein from a new virus and splicing it to the backbone of a known one like SARS. He invented ''no-see-um'' techniques that left no trace of the splice.
(Interestingly, Dr. Baric is one of the signers of the letter to Science demanding a more thorough investigation of all Wuhan labs.)
Then, to see if the new chimeras could infect people, they were tested against human airway cells and ''humanized'' mice '-- mice bred to have human ACE-2 receptors on their organs.
There is debate over whether this is truly ''gain of function'' research. Some argue that gain of function strictly involves taking a virus already known to endanger humans and trying to make it more lethal or more transmissible.
So Dr. Fauci was answering truthfully in his bitter exchange with Senator Rand Paul on May 11.
But many other scientists feel this is a distinction without a difference. They feel that building any new virus from suspect parts and then seeing if it infects humans is just as risky.
Like nuclear bomb testing, the need for ''gain of function'' research is hotly contested.
Proponents argue that it is the only way to stay ahead of epidemics: in a world full of emerging diseases, if you can figure out which pathogens are only a few amino acids tweaks shy of disaster, you can develop and stockpile vaccines and antibodies against them.
Opponents say that, noble as that goal may be, it is inherently too dangerous to pursue by building Frankensteins and poking them to see how strong they are.
Despite constantly rising biosafety levels, viruses we already know to be lethal, from smallpox to SARS, have repeatedly broken loose by accident.
Most leaks infect or kill just a few people before they are stopped by isolation and/or vaccination. But not all: scientists now believe that the H1N1 seasonal flu that killed thousands every year from 1977 to 2009 was influenza research gone feral. The strain first appeared in eastern Russia in 1977 and its genes were initially identical to a 1950 strain; that could have happened only if it had been in a freezer for 27 years. It also initially behaved as if it had been deliberately attenuated, or weakened. So scientists suspect it was a Russian effort to make a vaccine against a possible return of the 1918 flu. And then, they theorize, the vaccine virus, insufficiently weakened, began spreading.
Also, Dr. Shi's teams had done work on inserting cleavage sites into viruses and seeing if that enhanced their ability to infect human cells.
All this raises a disturbing possibility: What if some Wuhan scientist '-- someone in Dr. Shi's lab or perhaps at the Wuhan Center for Disease Control right near the market, or possibly some military scientist she trained but could not control '-- did something like take the likely suspect virus RaBtCoV/4991 and use it as the ''backbone'' for a set of chimeras with different receptor binding domains? What if that scientist was trying in 2019 to attach binding domains from viruses recently found in dying pangolins seized from wildlife smugglers in southern China? What if someone got tempted to add a cleavage site to see if that supercharged it?
What if various such chimeras were passaged through cultures of human cells or humanized mice? Wouldn't that speed up mutations into forms likely to infect humans even faster than nature can? Wouldn't that mean that something that looked like the current pandemic strain could emerge, polybasic cleavage sites, O-linked glycans and all?
And what if someone doing that work in a less secure lab than should have been permitted got infected before catching the subway home?
It's a lot of ifs, and it's pure speculation, which has been going on since mid-last year.
Jon Cohen of Science magazine put essentially these very questions to Dr. Shi back in August, 2020.
She said no such work took place in her lab, and that the RaBtCoV/4991 virus had only been sequenced, not isolated or grown out as a virus before the sample was used up. Everyone in her lab had tested negative for antibodies to SARS-like coronaviruses so there was no evidence of an outbreak inside, she said. And she had been assured through regular conversations with other Wuhan labs that that they had no leaks either.
Doubts have been raised about that, including the question: since Covid-19 was racing through Wuhan in early 2020, how likely would it be that no one in her lab tested antibody-positive? Wouldn't some have gotten infected outside?
Ultimately, much of the debate comes down to this: Is Dr. Shi telling the whole truth? And even if she is, are all her similarly skilled colleagues in Wuhan? Are they being allowed to do so by their government '-- which has a history of silencing scientists?
Chinese scientists were allowed to interact with W.H.O. investigators only in a very tightly controlled way and very little of the report was devoted to the lab leak theory, which it all but dismissed.
Opening up the 2019 logs of every lab in Wuhan and the 2019''2020 emails between scientists and health officials would go a long way to restoring trust.
And the failure to discover any wild viruses that look like evolutionary intermediate steps on the way to SARS-Cov-2 is troubling.
So virologists are feeling more doubts.
Nick Wade quoted David Baltimore, who won the 1975 Nobel Prize for his work with viruses, as saying the specific amino acid sequences in the cleavage site made ''a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin.'' (This has prompted a complex debate among evolutionary geneticists over which specific rungs on the RNA-DNA ladder are statistically most likely to appear in a bat virus.)
I spoke about Nick's article last week with Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, the renowned Columbia University virus hunter who was one of the five co-authors on the seminal ''proximal origin'' paper.
He favored a natural origin theory, he said, in part because he had assumed that all the Wuhan Institute's 2019 work with SARS-like viruses had been done in its top-level BSL-4 lab, which was cleared to operate in 2017. (State Department cables from 2018 raised questions about how well-run the lab was.)
But later he learned of studies with Dr. Shi's name on them showing that work he considers dangerous had been done in level BSL-2 labs, which he considers highly porous to leaks, not just in 2016, but in 2020.
''That's screwed up,'' he said. ''It shouldn't have happened. People should not be looking at bat viruses in BSL-2 labs. My view has changed.''
That is still not, as he pointed out, direct evidence of a lab leak. There is no proof of a leak.
But the Occam's Razor argument '-- what's the likeliest explanation, animal or lab? '-- keeps shifting in the direction of the latter.
The hardest evidence that it was an animal is still what it was early last year: On January 1, right after the market was closed down, and then again on January 12, Huazhong Agricultural University and Dr. Shi's Institute gathered almost 600 samples from the block-long warren of shuttered stalls.
Of those swabs, about six percent were positive for the virus, according to Xinhua, China's state news agency. Most came from the western end, where the wildlife was sold. And most, Dr. Shi said, were from spots near or below floor level '-- the handles of roll down steel shutters and the drains over the floor gutters.
Finding virus in six percent of surface samples was more than might be expected even in a hospital during flu season, Trevor Bedford, an evolutionary geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle who does flu studies told me last year.
And the most logical explanation for finding that much virus on the floor and in the drains, he speculated, was not coughing humans. It was the blood of a butchered animal being sloshed around as the market was hosed out.
Yes, there were cases in early December with no connection to that market, but that's not impossible. Livestock is shipped in batches, Wuhan has other live markets. Also, viruses are known to create ''stuttering chains of transmission'' as they become more transmissible. We've seen the rise of increasingly transmissible variants this year and we know this virus alternates between rare transmission and superspreading.
And the wildlife trade is not some dinky smuggling operation. As the W.H.O. report detailed, there are large farms in China raising civets, badgers and other formerly wild animals for food. A bat virus could have raced through them, adapting itself to more human-like animals, the same way the human virus raced through Dutch mink farms.
Also, farmers all over Asia enter caves to dig bat guano for garden fertilizer. A study Dr. Daszak's alliance did on villagers living near caves found that three percent had antibodies to bat viruses. That translates to up 7 million inhabitants of rural southeast Asia potentially catching such viruses each year. There may be many small outbreaks that die out without spreading far. Ebola did that at least 19 times we know of between 1976 and 2014, the year the virus reached a big city for the first time.
So there we are. All we have so far is speculation, and all the explanations are unsatisfactory.
The whole thing may just be a cold case, and stay that way forever. But there are more embers left to sift. The whole world, China included, needs a hard answer, whoever is to blame '-- so we can prevent this from happening again.
*The title is from the 1964 film ''Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb,'' which is about human lies and safety failures '-- and ends with clips of atomic weapons tests depicted as the real thing. Not that I think the pandemic is funny. But neither is nuclear war.
Shut Up Slave!
COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act Passes Congress, Heads To Biden : NPR
Wed, 19 May 2021 03:01
Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, speaks about the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act ahead of its passage at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, speaks about the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act ahead of its passage at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday to address the increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, clearing the legislation for President Biden to sign.
The COVID''19 Hate Crimes Act passed by a 364-62 vote; all 62 votes against the bill were from Republicans. The Senate approved the legislation last month.
A rise in COVID-19 cases, the first instances of which were reported in China, has been linked to an increase in attacks on Asian Americans. Democrats have pointed to former President Donald Trump's frequent use of racist phrases such as "kung flu" to describe the coronavirus as a link to the increase in anti-Asian sentiment.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, instructs the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19.
The bill also would expand efforts to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels, including providing online reporting resources that are available in multiple languages.
Speaking on the House floor ahead of the vote, Meng recalled how over the past year, the Asian American community has faced an "additional pandemic: the virus of hate and bigotry."
"The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a necessary step to confront the second pandemic of racism and discrimination. We cannot mend what we do not measure," she said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised the bill as "important legislation to address a grave and growing crisis."
"The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill will strengthen our defenses against any anti-AAPI violence, speeding our response to hate crime, supporting state and local governments as they improve reporting, and ensuring that they have crimes information and it's more accessible to the Asian American communities," she said on the floor.
The legislation passed the Senate last month with a rare bipartisan vote of 94-1. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri voted against the measure.
Ahead of the bill's final passage Tuesday, Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, applauded the Senate for its "almost unheard of showing of bipartisan support."
"It shows just how much the near-daily tragedies of anti-Asian violence have shocked our nation into action," Chu said at a press conference with Democrats involved with the legislation.
Meng reassured the Asian American and Pacific Islander community that after a year of "pain and struggle," Congress is taking action.
"Those of Asian descent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19, and as a result, Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on and even set on fire and killed," she said at the morning news conference. "The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks. Asian Americans are tired of living in fear and being frightened about their kids or elderly parents going outside."
The community experienced a dramatic spike in the number of hate crimes in the past year. The organization Stop AAPI Hate documented 6,603 hate incidents from March 2020 to March 2021, and leaders said the true number is much higher as many attacks go unreported. Community-led programs in major cities have grown to help Asian American and Pacific Islander residents commute safely.
Chu noted the heavy toll that the rise in hate crimes has had on the mental health of the community.
"What is it like to open up the newspaper every day and see that yet another Asian American has been assaulted, attacked and even killed?" she asked. "You start to think, well, will I be next?"
In a statement, Varun Nikore, executive director of the AAPI Victory Alliance, said the "legislation represents a first step in the right direction as we work to restore trust and end Asian hate crimes."
Biden has previously called on Congress to pass the legislation and is expected to sign it swiftly into law.
The Great Reset
WOW! Biden Caught Fake Driving -- Someone Else Is Steering Vehicle -- It Was All a Stunt! -- VIDEO and PICS
Wed, 19 May 2021 18:25
78-year-old Joe Biden traveled to Dearborn, Michigan on Tuesday to visit the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center.
Biden promoted his highly unpopular $2 trillion infrastructure bill that has nothing to do with the infrastructure that includes $174 billion to develop electric vehicles.
At one point Joe Biden repeated the lie that his ''great grandpop'' was a coal miner.
Biden also tripped over his tongue and jumbled his words.
Following his speech, the declining septuagenarian was put in an electric vehicle where he pretended to be driving.This was all a show by his handlers to make Joe Biden look like he's in charge.
TRENDING: WOW! Biden Caught Fake Driving -- Someone Else Is Steering Vehicle -- It Was All a Stunt! -- VIDEO and PICS
Here is the interior of an electric Ford F-150 Pickup Truck.
And here is another photo of the interior of the F-150.
The model Joe Biden was ''driving'' has two steering wheels.
Here is the F-150 Model Joe Biden was ''driving'' that clearly has two steering wheels.
Joe wasn't driving.
Let's face it '-- Would you want to sit in a car with Joe Biden behind the wheel?
Notice at the end that Joe Biden is turning the wheel to the right but the car is not turning.It was all a stunt.
COVID-19 vaccines have spawned nine new billionaires: campaign group
Thu, 20 May 2021 10:52
Profits from Covid-19 jabs have created at least nine new billionaires, a campaign group says.
Profits from COVID-19 jabs have helped at least nine people become billionaires, a campaign group said Thursday, calling for an end to pharmaceutical corporations' "monopoly control" on vaccine technology.
"Between them, the nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion (15.8 billion euros), enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times," The People's Vaccine Alliance said in a statement.
The alliance, a network of organisations and activists campaigning for an end to property rights and patents for inoculations, said its figures were based on the Forbes Rich List data.
"These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines," said Anna Marriott from charity Oxfam, which is part of the alliance.
In addition to the new mega-rich, eight existing billionaires have seen their combined wealth increase by $32.2 billion thanks to the vaccine rollout, the alliance said.
Topping the list of new vaccine billionaires were the CEO of Moderna Stephane Bancel, and his BioNTech counterpart Ugur Sahin.
Three other neobillionaires are co-founders of the Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics.
The research comes ahead of the G20 Global Health Summit on Friday, which has been a lightning rod for growing calls to temporarily remove intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines.
Proponents say doing so would boost production in developing countries and address the dramatic inequity in access.
The United States, as well as influential figures like Pope Francis, back the idea of a global waiver on patent protections.
At a Paris summit seeking to boost financing in Africa amid the pandemic on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the removal of "all these constraints in terms of intellectual property which blocks the production of certain types of vaccines".
The European Commission said Wednesday it would be a "constructive" voice in WTO talks on the issue.
"The highly effective vaccines we have are thanks to massive amounts of taxpayers' money so it can't be fair that private individuals are cashing in while hundreds of millions face second and third waves completely unprotected," said Heidi Chow, Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager at Global Justice Now, which helped analyse the billionaire data.
"As thousands of people die each day in India, it is utterly repugnant... to put the interests of the billionaire owners of Big Pharma ahead of the desperate needs of millions," she added.
Manufacturers have stressed that patent protection is not the limiting factor in ramping up vaccine production.
They say a wide range of issues'--from the set up of manufacturing sites, to the sourcing of raw materials, to the availability of qualified personnel'--are holding up the manufacturing process.
(C) 2021 AFP
UK 'faces labour shortage' as Covid and Brexit fuel exodus of overseas workers | Economics | The Guardian
Mon, 17 May 2021 08:57
Britain's employers are struggling to hire staff as lockdown lifts amid an exodus of overseas workers caused by the Covid pandemic and Brexit, industry figures reveal.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the recruitment firm Adecco, employers plan to hire at the fastest rate in eight years, led by the reopening of the hospitality and retail sectors as pandemic restrictions are relaxed in England and Wales on Monday.
However, in a sign of growing pressures in the jobs market amid rapid growth in consumer spending, the professional body for HR and people development said there had been a sharp decline in the numbers of EU workers, fuelling the risk of labour shortages.
Separate figures from Adzuna showed rapid growth in hiring, with almost 1m vacancies listed on the jobs website, up 18% on six weeks ago amid a rise in jobs in hotels, restaurants and in the events and leisure sector. But it warned there had been a steep decline in overseas jobseeker interest.
The jobs website, which is tracked by government officials for early warning signs from the labour market, found the number of overseas job searches from western Europe and North America had halved '' a decline of about 250,000 '' since February 2020, just before Covid-19 spread to the UK.
It said the decline was being led in particular by overseas interest in typically lower-paid service-led sectors, while some towns and cities have up to 20 jobs on offer per jobseeker. According to the research, Maidstone in Kent is the hardest place to hire, followed by Manchester, Cambridge and Oxford.
Andrew Hunter, a co-founder of the job search engine, said: ''There is hot competition for staff, with many hospitality and retail workers having left the industry to look for more secure work after the ups and downs of the last year.
''There are also far fewer foreign workers seeking employment in the UK, with overseas interest in UK jobs more than halving from before the pandemic, hitting these industries hard. UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps.''
The emerging evidence of labour shortages in the UK comes as US employers also struggle to recruit staff, with jobseekers put off hospitality jobs in particular due to low wages, safety concerns and harassment from customers over Covid safety measures.
Business leaders have warned that a lack of overseas workers after lockdown would put a ''handbrake on the recovery'', with as many as 1.3 million estimated to have left the UK since late 2019 as many returned to their country of birth to see through the pandemic at home.
Gerwyn Davies, a senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: ''New limits to the supply of unskilled migrant labour and the switch to new ways of working presents many employers with an incentive to review job quality.''
According to the CIPD survey of more than 1,000 UK employers, the balance of employers expecting to add jobs, versus those planning to cut them, was 27% for the second quarter of 2021, up from 11% in the first three months of the year. It said this was the highest level since February 2013.
Unemployment in the UK has stabilised in recent months, helped by the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September, after the fastest rise in redundancies on record in late 2020 when Rishi Sunak sought to scrap the wage support scheme.
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The Bank of England expects the jobless rate to peak at almost 5.5% after furlough ends, lower than initial fears of a rerun of the 1980s when unemployment surged close to 12%. Unemployment stood at 4% before the pandemic struck, representing about 1.3 million people.
Davies said firms ought to respond to the ''emerging threat of recruitment difficulties'' by improving their employment conditions, such as training opportunities and the right balance of flexibility and security.
''By offering better-quality jobs, employers will be in a better position to attract and retain the staff they need, particularly in sectors that have traditionally relied on EU workers, the supply of which has fallen sharply,'' he said.
Biden to waive sanctions on firm building Russian pipeline into Germany: report - TheBlaze
Tue, 18 May 2021 23:44
The Biden administration is planning to waive sanctions against the company in charge of building the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia into Germany, according to a new report.
What are the details?Axios reported Tuesday that according to two sources briefed on the matter, the State Department is set to submit its 90-day report to Congress detailing which entities linked to Nord Stream 2 "deserve sanctions."
"The State Department will also acknowledge the corporate entity in charge of the project '-- Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO, the Putin crony and former East German intelligence officer Matthias Warnig '-- are engaged in sanctionable activity," the outlet noted, adding, "However, the State Department will waive the applications of those sanctions, citing U.S. national interests."
The move would be an about-face from former President Donald Trump's position on the pipeline, but it would also appear to go against Secretary of State Antony Blinken's declaration during his confirmation hearing that he was "determined to do whatever we can to prevent that completion" of the project.
The Hill pointed out that the "completion of the pipeline would allow fuel from Russia to bypass Ukraine to reach Europe, undermining the nation's connection to western Europe."
In order to stop the project '-- which is 95% complete and could be finished this summer '-- the Biden administration has determined they would need to sanction German citizens, a move they are not willing to make because of the damage it could cause to U.S.-German relations.
How are people reacting?Reactions to the news were mixed on social media.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted, "This is genuinely a huge gift to Putin: Biden is waiving sanctions which will effectively allow Germany to buy natural gas from the Russian pipeline. Trump spent years trying to sabotage this deal: crucial to Russian interests. Biden is allowing it."
"Good," one person replied. "Sanctioning Europe for where it buys its gas is insane."
Greenwald responded, "Of course. But so was the four-year narrative that Putin controlled Trump, especially given Trump's argument that Germany should buy natural gas from the US, not Russia, given NATO expenditures to protect Germany. But the media didn't care."
Another individual weighing in on the Axios article wrote, "Wait, wasn't Trump supposed to have been the Russian agent?"
Someone else tweeted," I agree with [Biden] revoking the sanctions," leading another to reply, "So does Vladimir."
Biden damages NATO with his extraordinary Nord Stream 2 gift to Vladimir Putin
Wed, 19 May 2021 02:50
O n one of the most important measures of American leadership against Vladimir Putin's aggression, President Joe Biden is now weaker than former President Donald Trump.
That must be our incontrovertible assessment if Axios's reporting on Tuesday is accurate. After all, Jonathan Swan reports that Biden has decided to waive sanctions on a German company involved in completing the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. Absurdly, the Biden administration will sanction Russian ships involved in the pipeline's concluding construction but not the actual company involved in it. This is apparently because Biden believes that sanctioning the pipeline out of existence will cause more harm with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government than it will accrue benefits to NATO and European security.
It is manifestly the wrong assessment. More than that, it is yet more proof that Biden's tough-on-Putin rhetoric is basically just that: rhetoric. Most of the media will ignore this truth, of course. But Biden's decision here is a great gift to Putin.
Consider four specific concerns.
First, Nord Stream 2 will give Putin the means of Europe's long-term energy dependence on Russia. That will allow Putin to leverage European political appeasement in return for Russia's provision of cold winter energy supplies. It will thus weaken the American-led international order. It is an order centered on democratic sovereignty, free trade, and the advancement of basic human rights. It will be of particular concern to NATO allies on Russia's border '-- notably Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These are governments, it should be noted, that actually spend 2% of their GDP on defense.
Second, Nord Stream 2 will deny Ukraine access to billions of dollars in annual energy transit funds by displacing energy supplies from Ukrainian pipelines. For a country under escalating Russian military pressure, Biden's action represents a clear betrayal. There are proposals to mitigate the costs on Ukraine in this regard. The scholar Rachel Rizzo has offered some good ones, but I fear that Germany will ultimately renege on any obligations it now makes.
Third, Biden's decision fits with other recent actions, which reflect obvious weakness toward Putin. Notable, here, include Biden's begging of Putin for a summit and his pathetic abandonment last week of a U.S. company to pay $5 million ransom to hackers. Hackers, it should be said, who are almost certainly operating under the supervision of Russia's FSB intelligence service.
Finally, there's the point that Germany has done nothing to deserve this gift. Biden should have sanctioned Nord Stream 2 in the hope of Merkel's replacement by the impressive Annalena Baerbock in Germany's September elections. The facts of Merkel's record toward critical U.S. interests are clear.
The chancellor is a de facto Chinese Communist Party saint, one who has broken her pledge to reach the basic 2%-of-GDP NATO defense spending target, and who gives free reign to Russian GRU chemical weapons facilities on her soil. This later point won't look terribly good for Biden when he finally has to admit that the GRU has been destroying the nervous systems of American patriots around the world.
Put simply, Biden might say the right things about NATO. He might even do some of the right things. But actions such as this are great gifts to Putin. If this is Biden being tough on the ex-KGB man, I hope we never have to learn what Biden's weakness is.
Magneto Genetics
Superparamagnetic nanoparticle delivery of DNA vaccine - PubMed
Sun, 16 May 2021 22:17
doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0410-5_12. Affiliations
Affiliation 1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, 3800, Australia. PMID: 24715289 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0410-5_12 Item in Clipboard
Fatin Nawwab Al-Deen et al. Methods Mol Biol . 2014 .
doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0410-5_12. Affiliation 1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, 3800, Australia. PMID: 24715289 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0410-5_12 Item in Clipboard
Abstract The efficiency of delivery of DNA vaccines is often relatively low compared to protein vaccines. The use of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) to deliver genes via magnetofection shows promise in improving the efficiency of gene delivery both in vitro and in vivo. In particular, the duration for gene transfection especially for in vitro application can be significantly reduced by magnetofection compared to the time required to achieve high gene transfection with standard protocols. SPIONs that have been rendered stable in physiological conditions can be used as both therapeutic and diagnostic agents due to their unique magnetic characteristics. Valuable features of iron oxide nanoparticles in bioapplications include a tight control over their size distribution, magnetic properties of these particles, and the ability to carry particular biomolecules to specific targets. The internalization and half-life of the particles within the body depend upon the method of synthesis. Numerous synthesis methods have been used to produce magnetic nanoparticles for bioapplications with different sizes and surface charges. The most common method for synthesizing nanometer-sized magnetite Fe3O4 particles in solution is by chemical coprecipitation of iron salts. The coprecipitation method is an effective technique for preparing a stable aqueous dispersions of iron oxide nanoparticles. We describe the production of Fe3O4-based SPIONs with high magnetization values (70 emu/g) under 15 kOe of the applied magnetic field at room temperature, with 0.01 emu/g remanence via a coprecipitation method in the presence of trisodium citrate as a stabilizer. Naked SPIONs often lack sufficient stability, hydrophilicity, and the capacity to be functionalized. In order to overcome these limitations, polycationic polymer was anchored on the surface of freshly prepared SPIONs by a direct electrostatic attraction between the negatively charged SPIONs (due to the presence of carboxylic groups) and the positively charged polymer. Polyethylenimine was chosen to modify the surface of SPIONs to assist the delivery of plasmid DNA into mammalian cells due to the polymer's extensive buffering capacity through the "proton sponge" effect.
Similar articles Superparamagnetic nanoparticles for effective delivery of malaria DNA vaccine. Al-Deen FN, Ho J, Selomulya C, Ma C, Coppel R. Al-Deen FN, et al. Langmuir. 2011 Apr 5;27(7):3703-12. doi: 10.1021/la104479c. Epub 2011 Mar 1. Langmuir. 2011. PMID: 21361304
Polyethyleneimine-associated polycaprolactone-Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as a gene delivery vector. Kim MC, Lin MM, Sohn Y, Kim JJ, Kang BS, Kim DK. Kim MC, et al. J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2017 Jan;105(1):145-154. doi: 10.1002/jbm.b.33519. Epub 2015 Oct 6. J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2017. PMID: 26443109
Magnetofection: a reproducible method for gene delivery to melanoma cells. Prosen L, Prijic S, Music B, Lavrencak J, Cemazar M, Sersa G. Prosen L, et al. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:209452. doi: 10.1155/2013/209452. Epub 2013 Jun 3. Biomed Res Int. 2013. PMID: 23862136 Free PMC article.
Recent advances in superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) for in vitro and in vivo cancer nanotheranostics. Kandasamy G, Maity D. Kandasamy G, et al. Int J Pharm. 2015 Dec 30;496(2):191-218. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2015.10.058. Epub 2015 Oct 28. Int J Pharm. 2015. PMID: 26520409 Review.
Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles: magnetic nanoplatforms as drug carriers. Wahajuddin, Arora S. Wahajuddin, et al. Int J Nanomedicine. 2012;7:3445-71. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S30320. Epub 2012 Jul 6. Int J Nanomedicine. 2012. PMID: 22848170 Free PMC article. Review.
Cited by 1 article Nanoparticle systems for cancer vaccine. Wen R, Umeano AC, Kou Y, Xu J, Farooqi AA. Wen R, et al. Nanomedicine (Lond). 2019 Mar;14(5):627-648. doi: 10.2217/nnm-2018-0147. Epub 2019 Feb 26. Nanomedicine (Lond). 2019. PMID: 30806568 Free PMC article. Review.
Genetically engineered 'Magneto' protein remotely controls brain and behaviour | Science | The Guardian
Tue, 18 May 2021 10:39
Show caption The toroidal magnetic chamber (Tokamak) of the Joint European Torus (JET) at the Culham Science Centre. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Neurophilosophy''Badass'' new method uses a magnetised protein to activate brain cells rapidly, reversibly, and non-invasively
Researchers in the United States have developed a new method for controlling the brain circuits associated with complex animal behaviours, using genetic engineering to create a magnetised protein that activates specific groups of nerve cells from a distance.
Understanding how the brain generates behaviour is one of the ultimate goals of neuroscience '' and one of its most difficult questions. In recent years, researchers have developed a number of methods that enable them to remotely control specified groups of neurons and to probe the workings of neuronal circuits.
The most powerful of these is a method called optogenetics, which enables researchers to switch populations of related neurons on or off on a millisecond-by-millisecond timescale with pulses of laser light. Another recently developed method, called chemogenetics, uses engineered proteins that are activated by designer drugs and can be targeted to specific cell types.
Although powerful, both of these methods have drawbacks. Optogenetics is invasive, requiring insertion of optical fibres that deliver the light pulses into the brain and, furthermore, the extent to which the light penetrates the dense brain tissue is severely limited. Chemogenetic approaches overcome both of these limitations, but typically induce biochemical reactions that take several seconds to activate nerve cells.
Remote control of brain activity with heated nanoparticles The new technique, developed in Ali G¼ler's lab at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and described in an advance online publication in the journal Nature Neuroscience, is not only non-invasive, but can also activate neurons rapidly and reversibly.
Several earlier studies have shown that nerve cell proteins which are activated by heat and mechanical pressure can be genetically engineered so that they become sensitive to radio waves and magnetic fields, by attaching them to an iron-storing protein called ferritin, or to inorganic paramagnetic particles. These methods represent an important advance '' they have, for example, already been used to regulate blood glucose levels in mice '' but involve multiple components which have to be introduced separately.
The new technique builds on this earlier work, and is based on a protein called TRPV4, which is sensitive to both temperature and stretching forces. These stimuli open its central pore, allowing electrical current to flow through the cell membrane; this evokes nervous impulses that travel into the spinal cord and then up to the brain.
G¼ler and his colleagues reasoned that magnetic torque (or rotating) forces might activate TRPV4 by tugging open its central pore, and so they used genetic engineering to fuse the protein to the paramagnetic region of ferritin, together with short DNA sequences that signal cells to transport proteins to the nerve cell membrane and insert them into it.
In vivo manipulation of zebrafish behavior using Magneto. Zebrafish larvae exhibit coiling behaviour in response to localized magnetic fields. From Wheeler et al (2016). When they introduced this genetic construct into human embryonic kidney cells growing in Petri dishes, the cells synthesized the 'Magneto' protein and inserted it into their membrane. Application of a magnetic field activated the engineered TRPV1 protein, as evidenced by transient increases in calcium ion concentration within the cells, which were detected with a fluorescence microscope.
Next, the researchers inserted the Magneto DNA sequence into the genome of a virus, together with the gene encoding green fluorescent protein, and regulatory DNA sequences that cause the construct to be expressed only in specified types of neurons. They then injected the virus into the brains of mice, targeting the entorhinal cortex, and dissected the animals' brains to identify the cells that emitted green fluorescence. Using microelectrodes, they then showed that applying a magnetic field to the brain slices activated Magneto so that the cells produce nervous impulses.
To determine whether Magneto can be used to manipulate neuronal activity in live animals, they injected Magneto into zebrafish larvae, targeting neurons in the trunk and tail that normally control an escape response. They then placed the zebrafish larvae into a specially-built magnetised aquarium, and found that exposure to a magnetic field induced coiling manouvres similar to those that occur during the escape response. (This experiment involved a total of nine zebrafish larvae, and subsequent analyses revealed that each larva contained about 5 neurons expressing Magneto.)
Researchers read and write brain activity with light In one final experiment, the researchers injected Magneto into the striatum of freely behaving mice, a deep brain structure containing dopamine-producing neurons that are involved in reward and motivation, and then placed the animals into an apparatus split into magnetised a non-magnetised sections. Mice expressing Magneto spent far more time in the magnetised areas than mice that did not, because activation of the protein caused the striatal neurons expressing it to release dopamine, so that the mice found being in those areas rewarding. This shows that Magneto can remotely control the firing of neurons deep within the brain, and also control complex behaviours.
Neuroscientist Steve Ramirez of Harvard University, who uses optogenetics to manipulate memories in the brains of mice, says the study is ''badass''.
''Previous attempts [using magnets to control neuronal activity] needed multiple components for the system to work '' injecting magnetic particles, injecting a virus that expresses a heat-sensitive channel, [or] head-fixing the animal so that a coil could induce changes in magnetism,'' he explains. ''The problem with having a multi-component system is that there's so much room for each individual piece to break down.''
''This system is a single, elegant virus that can be injected anywhere in the brain, which makes it technically easier and less likely for moving bells and whistles to break down,'' he adds, ''and their behavioral equipment was cleverly designed to contain magnets where appropriate so that the animals could be freely moving around.''
'Magnetogenetics' is therefore an important addition to neuroscientists' tool box, which will undoubtedly be developed further, and provide researchers with new ways of studying brain development and function.
Reference Wheeler, M. A., et al. (2016). Genetically targeted magnetic control of the nervous system. Nat. Neurosci., DOI: 10.1038/nn.4265 [Abstract]
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Audubon CEO steps down amid internal turmoil
Last November, POLITICO reported that Audubon was facing a series of workplace complaints, including an internal survey that showed widespread staff dissatisfaction, especially among workers of color and the LGBTQ community.
Yarnold's handling of the survey, including allegedly asking for the names of participants, led to the resignation of one senior diversity officer. Another left earlier last year, claiming she was forced out.
Those events coincided with two rounds of layoffs, one last June and another on Earth Day last April. More than 100 Audubon staff members were let go, though the group has since said many of those were at nature centers that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some staff members have been rehired, the group has said.
ADVOCACY: Audubon CEO steps down amid internal turmoil -- Wednesday, April 21, 2021 --
Tue, 18 May 2021 17:12
ADVOCACY Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E News reporter Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2021National Audubon Society CEO David Yarnold is stepping down. Photo credit:Dennis Van Tine/ZUMA Press/Newscom
National Audubon Society CEO David Yarnold is stepping down. Dennis Van Tine/ZUMA Press/Newscom
National Audubon Society CEO David Yarnold will be stepping down next month, the organization announced, citing "cultural issues that have come to light" as the group faced botched diversity training, two rounds of layoffs and a burgeoning staff unionizing effort over the last year.
Board chair Maggie Walker applauded Yarnold for increasing the leading conservation group's membership from 350,000 to "well over 2 million" and boosting its fundraising during his 11-year tenure at the group.
But Walker quickly pivoted to underlying problems within Audubon.
"As we have met with and listened to a significant number of our staff in recent months, we have heard their messages that there is much we can do to improve our organizational culture," Walker said in a statement.
"We have a highly committed staff and a grassroots network that is second to none, and the board believes it's critical that this organization has the right plan and leadership to fulfill its mission and live up to its values for the long term."
Yarnold, a former journalist, came under fire last year as Audubon, like other major environmental groups, confronted a history of race, diversity and equity problems after the murder of George Floyd (Greenwire, June 5, 2020).
Audubon announced Yarnold's departure about an hour after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for Floyd's murder.
Last November, POLITICO reported that Audubon was facing a series of workplace complaints, including an internal survey that showed widespread staff dissatisfaction, especially among workers of color and the LGBTQ community.
Yarnold's handling of the survey, including allegedly asking for the names of participants, led to the resignation of one senior diversity officer. Another left earlier last year, claiming she was forced out.
Those events coincided with two rounds of layoffs, one last June and another on Earth Day last April. More than 100 Audubon staff members were let go, though the group has since said many of those were at nature centers that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some staff members have been rehired, the group has said.
Those events appeared to have led to an effort among the staff to unionize under an "Audubon for All" banner.
But Audubon faced new criticism after hiring a firm notorious for its union-busting practices, Littler Mendelson PC (Greenwire, March 17).
Yarnold made reference to those challenges in a statement yesterday.
"Audubon's nonpartisan base and its geographic breadth '-- from Latin America to the Boreal Forest '-- brings with it unique opportunities among conservation NGOs," he said. "And that includes helping to lead America's conservation organizations to change their priorities and fully reflect a commitment to the hard work of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging."
Audubon has said that it has boosted its diversity, equity and inclusion program, led by Jamaal Nelson, whom the organization recently appointed to work on those issues.
Staff members told E&E News, in a statement, that they will continue to forge ahead with forming the union.
"A union will be a source of support and stability for staff as we navigate leadership changes ahead at Audubon," they said. "A union will allow staff to do the jobs they love in protecting birds and the places they need. Our union isn't about any individual member or leader, but about making Audubon better together."
Green 2.0, a nonprofit dedicated to diversity in the environmental movement, said Yarnold's departure "opens the door for opportunity."
"Environmental organizations cannot operate with impunity '-- they're responsible for the organizational culture," Green 2.0 Executive Director Andr(C)s Jimenez said in a statement. "For too long, boards have looked the other way as executive leaders have ignored or directly perpetuated racism and discrimination against staff of color."
Jimenez called for "institutional change" and said, "It shouldn't take staff of color advocating for their safety and personal well-being for such change to happen."
Yarnold will step down May 14.
He will be succeeded on an interim basis by Elizabeth Gray, the group's new president and chief conservation officer. Gray joined the group last month from the Nature Conservancy, where she was the global managing director for climate.
Gray is the first female president in Audubon's 115-year history.
Twitter: @GreenwireJeremy Email: We thought you might.Request a trial now.Get access to our comprehensive, daily coverage of energy and environmental politics and policy.
WNYC Fires Bob Garfield, Co-Host of 'On the Media' - The New York Times
Wed, 19 May 2021 17:32
Media | WNYC Fires Bob Garfield, Co-Host of 'On the Media' York Public Radio, which owns WNYC, said Mr. Garfield had violated its anti-bullying policy. Mr. Garfield said he had yelled and that ''the provocation was extraordinary and simply shocking.''
Bob Garfield, left, and Brooke Gladstone, the co-hosts of WNYC's ''On the Media,'' in 2005. Credit... Richard Drew/Associated Press Published May 17, 2021 Updated May 19, 2021, 12:19 p.m. ET
Bob Garfield, a longtime co-host of WNYC's popular program ''On the Media,'' has been fired after two separate investigations found he had violated an anti-bullying policy, New York Public Radio, which owns WNYC, said on Monday.
Mr. Garfield's employment was terminated ''as a result of a pattern of behavior that violated N.Y.P.R.'s anti-bullying policy,'' a spokeswoman said in a statement.
''This decision was made following a recent investigation conducted by an outside investigator that found that he had violated the policy,'' she said. He had been disciplined and warned after an investigation in 2020, ''which also found that he had violated the policy,'' she added.
In an email on Monday, Mr. Garfield said he was not yet able to speak fully about the circumstances surrounding his firing but defended his behavior as yelling.
Nearly three years ago, an investigation into the workplace culture at New York Public Radio and WNYC was conducted after a series of misconduct accusations against on-air personalities. While it did not identify ''systemic'' harassment, the investigation found that incidents of bullying and harassment were not reported to senior management out of fear of reprisals and a lack of faith in the system.
In December 2017, two longtime hosts, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, were fired after complaints of inappropriate behavior, and a former host of ''The Takeaway,'' John Hockenberry, was accused of sexual harassment. The handling of the allegations contributed to the downfall of Laura R. Walker, the longtime president and chief executive of New York Public Radio, who stepped down in March 2019.
Mr. Garfield co-hosted ''On the Media'' for 20 years. He also wrote a column for Advertising Age for 25 years until 2010 and hosted the podcasts ''The Genius Dialogues,'' in 2017, and ''Lexicon Valley'' before that.
''I was fired not for 'bullying' per se but for yelling at two meetings,'' he wrote in the email. ''In both cases, as will be clear eventually, the provocation was extraordinary and simply shocking.''
He said last year's investigation was in regard to yelling that ''involved gross insubordination under production pressure.''
''In time, the full story will emerge '... and it is really scary,'' Mr. Garfield said. ''This is tragic.''
''On the Media'' examines how the news media operates and what impact the news has. It won a Peabody Award in 2004 and now airs to millions of listeners across 421 public radio stations.
WNYC's chief content officer, Andrew Golis, told the staff in an email on Monday that the show would continue with Brooke Gladstone, Mr. Garfield's co-host and the managing editor of the show, at the helm.
''I know this is significant news for our N.Y.P.R. community,'' Mr. Golis said in the email, which was viewed by The New York Times. ''Bob has been a part of the organization for two decades, and 'On the Media' is an invaluable companion to listeners around the country both on-air and online. It's a show we're proud to support, and a team we're proud to have as colleagues.''
Matt Siegel, 'Matty in the Morning' radio host, storms off the air after being warned about Demi Lovato comments
Wed, 19 May 2021 20:21
(C) Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe Matt Siegel talked during the "Matty in the Morning" radio show on Kiss 108. Matt Siegel, a fixture on Boston radio for 40 years as the host of the ''Matty in the Morning'' show on Kiss 108 FM, abruptly signed off Wednesday after being told to ''stop talking'' about pop star Demi Lovato's announcement that they are non-binary.
It's not clear if the dramatic mic drop, which stunned listeners and sponsors, marks the end of ''Matty in the Morning.'' Reached Wednesday, WXKS-FM general manager Alan Chartrand seemed to downplay the controversy, saying ''everything is going to be fine.''
But when asked via text if he'll be back on the air Thursday, Siegel replied, ''No.''
At issue Wednesday were comments Siegel made while discussing the announcement by Lovato that the singer now identifies as non-binary and as such would be changing their pronouns. Siegel said his boss at iHeartMedia, which owns WXKS-FM, called and told him to ''stop talking about what I've been talking about.''
''I was going against the 'woke thing,' okay?'' Siegel said, according to a recording of the segment uploaded to YouTube. ''Against the Demi Lovatos of the world and all that kind of stuff.''
Siegel said he'd received a similar call prior to the November presidential election when he was criticizing Donald Trump.
''This is why I got rich, okay?'' Siegel said Wednesday. ''Because I told it like it is to my listeners for 40 bleepin' years. They pulled the plug on me and they said 'you cannot talk about what you're talking about.' ... If I'm left wing and I go anti-Trump, I get in trouble, and today I was anti-wokeness and I can't do that.''
He added that he's now barred from being ''a funny comic, telling it like it is about what he's thinking.''
So, Siegel said, he was ''ending my portion of the radio show right now. ... I just want to say, I love my listeners ... and it's been a hell of a run, but I think it's coming to an end.''
He reiterated that he's being muzzled by the station. ''It's a joke, the whole binary thing,'' he said. ''I don't care what Demi Lovato does. But now we have to worry about 'you might offend someone.' ... Basically what they want me to do is to be, you know, a lightweight show.''
He concluded his rant by saying, ''they said shut up Matt, stop talking, well, I hope you're happy because I just stopped talking. Matty out.''
Chartrand said he planned to meet with Siegel Wednesday afternoon and hoped to resolve the issue.
''He threatens (to quit) all the time in a joking kind of way,'' said Chartrand. ''This isn't the first time he's threatened this would be the last show.''
Siegel told in a phone interview after Wednesday's show that ''I'm against her binary thing; I think she's a troubled woman and a lot of young people are taking her seriously and it bothers me,'' stressing that ''of course, it's a comedy show, so I did it in the context of jokes.''
Though he called Lovato a ''woman,'' non-binary people do not identify as either gender and pronouns such as ''her'' do not accurately describe them; they is the preferred pronoun.
''We were having fun with it, and my boss called up and said that I'd crossed the line and they didn't want me talking about it anymore,'' Siegel told ''I responded by saying, 'If I can't talk about what I'm thinking at this point in my career, I don't want to be on the radio anymore.'''
However, he also told that after talking with his superiors Wednesday, he believes that despite what he said on air in the morning, he'll remain with the station.
Siegel's departure quickly reverberated across the Internet, with one person tweeting, ''Gonna need my Matty in the Morning pals to debrief with me immediately.''
Siegel launched his show in 1981 and said in January during a 40-year celebration that his run had surpassed his expectations by a long shot. The morning show also features Siegel's longtime sidekicks Billy Costa and Lisa Donovan.
''In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would see this day,'' Siegel said in a statement at the time. ''I am forever grateful to my wonderful radio team, the great company I work for and the terrific people of Boston.''
Then-Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh in January declared ''Matty in the Morning Day'' while Governor Charlie Baker issued a citation honoring Siegel, according to a prior statement from the station.
''Good morning everybody, today's my 40th anniversary and my team's done all these wonderful things and a lot of nice people have called in, I'm overwhelmed, I love you guys,'' Siegel said during the January anniversary show. ''Part of being able to do this act, this radio show is me being a wise guy, when you're kind of a wise guy... you put yourself down... so this is overwhelming and I love you guys.''
This is a breaking news story that will be updated. Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report and Jeremiah Manion of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Charlie McKenna contributed.
Latino Reporter Blasts Chicago Mayor's Reported Decision Not To Do Interviews With White Journalists | The Daily Wire
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:01
Gregory Pratt, a Latino reporter for the Chicago Tribune, is pushing back against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's recent reported decision to not provide white journalists with one-on-one interviews.
Pratt responded to a tweet from a NBC 5 reporter Mary Ann Ahern that said, ''As [Lightfoot] reaches her two year midway point as mayor, her spokeswoman says Lightfoot is granting 1 on 1 interviews '' only to Black or Brown journalists.''
Pratt responded, ''I am a Latino reporter [at Chicago Tribune] whose interview request was granted for today. However, I asked the mayor's office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled. Politicians don't get to choose who covers them.''
I am a Latino reporter @chicagotribune whose interview request was granted for today. However, I asked the mayor's office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled. Politicians don't get to choose who covers them.
'-- Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) May 19, 2021
Ahern told The Hill , ''Absolutely, they told me only Black and brown journalists are getting one-on-one interviews.''
She said that she was first informed of the policy by Lightfoot's communications director, Kate LeFurgy, on Tuesday.
''[LeFurgy] said three out of six reporters covering City Hall are people of color and not a single one is a woman of color, while white reporters get the vast majority of access all year long,'' Ahern said.
''I think it's outrageous for an elected official to choose who will ask questions,'' Ahern added. ''And it's even more outrageous when it's based on the color of their skin.''
As reported by The Daily Wire, local reporters began confirming the alleged racial requirement of Lightfoot's office after Ahern's original tweet.
Chicago PBS news anchor Paris Schultz responded: ''I was told the same thing.''
As '...@chicagosmayor'(C) reaches her two year midway point as mayor, her spokeswoman says Lightfoot is granting 1 on 1 interviews '' only to Black or Brown journalists
'-- Mary Ann Ahern (@MaryAnnAhernNBC) May 18, 2021
Australian political commentator Rita Panahi responded to the allegations by writing on Twitter: ''More 'anti-racist' racism. Almost amusing how regressive race-obsession is celebrated among the Left.''
More "anti-racist" racism. Almost amusing how regressive race-obsession is celebrated among the Left.
'-- Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) May 19, 2021
Chicago PBS political reporter Heather Cherone said that she could ''confirm'' what Ahern was alleging.
I can confirm, alderman
'-- Heather Cherone (@HeatherCherone) May 18, 2021
''Racism in the name of wokeism is still racism,'' another commentator said . Another added, ''So wouldn't that make her a racist?''
Progressive writer Zaid Jilani wrote: ''Is she going to do some kinda DNA test to assure she upholds this rule?''
Is she going to do some kinda DNA test to assure she upholds this rule?
'-- Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) May 19, 2021
Fox News reported , ''It is unclear when such a practice was enacted and if it only applies to local reporters, particularly after her MSNBC appearance with Stephanie Ruhle on Monday.''
Lightfoot seemed to respond to the allegations in a Twitter thread on Wednesday, writing, ''I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many. That isn't just in City Hall. It's a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.''
She went on to say, ''Diversity and inclusion is imperative across all institutions including media. In order to progress we must change. This is exactly why I'm being intentional about prioritizing media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city.
''This is an imbalance that needs to change. Chicago is a world-class city. Our local media should reflect the multiple cultures that comprise it.''
''We must be intentional about doing better. I believed that when running for office. I stand on this belief now. It's time for the newsrooms to do better and build teams that reflect the make-up of our city.''
I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many. That isn't just in City Hall.
It's a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.
'-- Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 19, 2021
The Chicago Mayor's office reportedly gave a statement to Fox News reiterating Lightfoot's comments.
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University Rescinds Offer Of Tenure To Creator Of 1619 Project, Report Says | The Daily Wire
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:02
According to a new report, the University of North Carolina, which had planned to offer tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the harshly-criticized 1619 Project, has rescinded the offer, instead choosing to offer her a five-year term as a professor starting July 1, with the option of being reviewed for tenure.
UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media had made the offer of tenure to Hannah-Jones, according to NCPolicyWatch. The school offered the position of Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism; after the decision to rescind the offer of tenure, Susan King, dean of UNC Hussman, complained, ''It's disappointing, it's not what we wanted and I am afraid it will have a chilling effect.''
NCPolicyWatch reported that the process of offering Hannah-Jones tenure passed easily through various steps until the decision reached the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, which ''reviews and approves tenure applications,'' NCPolicyWatch stated. The board eschewed giving approval for the prospective tenure.
''Not all Knight Chair professors are tenured,'' NCPolicyWatch noted, adding, ''But since UNC began working with the foundation in 1980, all of those teaching at the flagship Chapel Hill campus have been. Fixed-term positions, like the one now being offered to Hannah-Jones, do not need board approval.''
A UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees member told Policy Watch, ''This is a very political thing. The university and the board of trustees and the Board of Governors and the legislature have all been getting pressure since this thing was first announced last month. There have been people writing letters and making calls, for and against. But I will leave it to you which is carrying more weight.''
NCPolicyWatch seemingly attributed the failure of the university to grant tenure to ''conservative groups'' with ''direct ties to the Republican-dominated UNC Board of Governors.'' The aforementioned Board of Trustees member said that conservative interests would prefer that every person hired to the faculty be vetted by each school's board of trustees. The member said, ''This is a high profile hiring decision and the last thing anyone should want is us going to the Board of Governors with this and they disagree. That is not going to be good for anybody. That is when negative things are going to happen.''
King said of Hannah-Jones, ''She represents the best of our alumni and the best of the business. I don't want to get into a food fight. I want to make sure that our students have the opportunity to have someone of her caliber here and to learn from her. I think our faculty do as well. I realize this is a fraught era in the state. When I heard that the chancellor and the provost wanted to move to this, it was better than having a battle royale about the theory of academic freedom.'' She added, ''Our job is to expose our students to the great issues of our time. This is a fraught time and a time of racial reckoning.''
The 1619 Project has come under withering criticism for its perspective on American history. Many historians have questioned its accuracy and its attempt to undermine the salutary and historic effects of the American founding. Among them is James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning ''Battle Cry of Freedom,'' widely regarded as the authoritative account of the Civil War.
He stated: ''I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history.''
MacPherson said of Hannah-Jones' statement in her essay that ''anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country,'' ''the idea that racism is a permanent condition, well that's just not true. And it also doesn't account for the countervailing tendencies in American history as well. Because opposition to slavery, and opposition to racism, has also been an important theme in American history.''
Gordon Wood, professor emeritus at Brown University and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book ''The Radicalism of the American Revolution,'' as well as ''Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789''1815,'' and many books and articles on the colonial period and the American Revolution, was asked about The 1619 Project and Hannah-Jones' essay. Wood stated:
I read the first essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones, which alleges that the Revolution occurred primarily because of the Americans' desire to save their slaves. She claims the British were on the warpath against the slave trade and slavery and that rebellion was the only hope for American slavery. This made the American Revolution out to be like the Civil War, where the South seceded to save and protect slavery, and that the Americans 70 years earlier revolted to protect their institution of slavery. I just couldn't believe this.
I was surprised, as many other people were, by the scope of this thing, especially since it's going to become the basis for high school education and has the authority of the New York Times behind it, and yet it is so wrong in so many ways.
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The Purge
Michael Flynn Statement
Who’s in control right now?
Financial Biden. Everything else The Military. The Military does not accept orders from Biden. He’s not allowed in The Pentagon. They continue to follow mission orders from Trump before he left office. And they’re making their own decisions.The National Guard is controlled by State Governors. The U.S. Military is under the Command of a legitimate President. Biden’s Secretary of Defense has zero say in what is happening. Milley is out of the loop. He has conflicts of interest and is excluded from some operations.
Why America Needs a January 6 Commission - The Bulwark
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:06
Everyone knows what happened on January 6, 2021: The United States Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who hoped to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden's 2020 victory. Explaining why it happened is much harder, which is why America needs a January 6 Commission.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his opposition to such an investigation on Tuesday. He is concerned that a 1/6 commission would be ''duplicative'' of current law enforcement efforts and ''potentially counterproductive.'' This is nonsense. To date, at least 440 individuals have been arrested on charges related to the insurrection. Earlier this year Donald Trump was impeached by the House for his role in inciting the riot. Several congressional committees have looked at (or are currently looking at) various security and enforcement issues related to the attack.
None of these efforts, however, has universal jurisdiction to comprehensively evaluate the attack from a 360-degree perspective. And this full and complete picture is exactly the information that must be collected and made publicly available if future attacks on our elections'--both in terms of disinformation and physical force'--are to be prevented.
The first reason why we need a January 6 Commission is that only an independent commission tasked with investigating the events can document the full and complete picture of why the insurrection happened.
But the second reason is arguably more important: the threat is ongoing.
Former President Trump has still not conceded the 2020 election. He continues to stoke conspiracies about a rigged election. He and his allies continue to organize their efforts both on a state and national level, united under false claims about the 2020 election. He has even gone so far as to suggest that the election could still be overturned. Here's one of his recent pronouncements:
If a thief robs a jewelry store of all of its diamonds (the 2020 Presidential Election), the diamonds must be returned.
Just because something is stupid doesn't mean it can't also be dangerous. At this moment, Republican state legislatures across the country are promoting voting restrictions based on the notion widespread voter fraud occurred in the last election. Election officials in Georgia and Arizona are mired in made-up election audit scandals. Trump is expected to resume his rallies this summer and one can reasonably anticipate his grievances over the 2020 election will continue to be a major theme.
A bipartisan commission, with support from Republicans and Democrats both inside and outside Washington, might be our last best hope in terms of establishing any kind of baseline of truth about the 2020 presidential election before the next contests get underway.
A commission should divide its investigations into two periods: ''before'' and ''during'''--meaning the time period from Election Day 2020 through January 5, and then on January 6.
It's easy to forget the wild weeks after the election. From Election Day through the Georgia run-off races on January 5, Trump and his allies mounted an all-out media war to cast doubts on the presidential election, complemented by dozens of bogus, losing lawsuits, and conspiracy-laden press appearances by his various lawyers and surrogates.
On Trump's behalf, a number of MAGA-aligned organizations and activists engaged in ''Stop the Steal'' efforts to advocate for recounts and audits. Behind closed doors, Trump pressured Georgia officials to recount the state election results and find enough new ballots to secure his victory. Trump associates spun foreign ballot conspiracies. Trump reportedly held meetings about commandeering ballot machines for his lawyers to investigate. Trump is also said to have discussed the possibility of declaring martial law with his advisors.
This flurry of activity, both inside and outside the White House, contributed to the wild and chaotic atmosphere that existed on January 6. Determining what factors influenced his supporters is necessary if Congress wants to prevent future attacks.
When it comes to January 6, those who organized and participated in the pre-insurrection rally headlined by Trump deserve special scrutiny. That event served a critical organizing purpose for the mob. And those who helped summon thousands of people to Washington that day bear some responsibility and have a duty to testify to everything they knew that could have boosted and or provided cover for the violent actors.
On the official side, the fact that it took the Trump administration more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to secure the Capitol is confusing and has not been sufficiently explained. There are many discrepancies in the timeline of events provided in testimony to Congress from high-ranking Trump administration and law enforcement officials that must be resolved. Moreover, the contents of Trump's communications that day remain largely secret, although many people have information about his state of mind at that time and could explain his resistance to providing Congress much-needed security help in a timely manner.
A vote on the commission is expected in the House Wednesday; it is likely to pass with some Republican support. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that he is ''undecided'' if the bill should advance.
No one should be surprised that elected Republicans are not, as a class, eager to support the commission. For some, such as House Minority Leader McCarthy and the people who spoke at the January 6 rally, a vote for the commission is a vote to investigate themselves. If anything, their opposition is further evidence of the need for an independent investigation. These elected officials must be made to explain their roles in the events that preceded the riot and what they saw, heard, and said during the riot.
Could a January 6 commission really happen? And if so, could it really contribute meaningfully toward fixing our dangerous politics?
Seven Senate Republicans voted to convict Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection. Surely 10 votes can be found to produce a report to ensure another one will never take place.
And, while it may prove difficult to get witnesses such as McCarthy to testify, this wouldn't be akin to former Trump officials dodging subpoenas from Congress. Subpoenas sent by persons who are authorized by federal legislation signed by the president tend to get more compliance. Don't think there aren't people who were in and around the Trump White House who may be eager to share what they observed, either.
Give the January 6 Commission its chance. Our democracy may very well depend on it.
US warns extremists may strike as virus restrictions ease
Sun, 16 May 2021 20:46
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- A national terrorism alert issued Friday warns that violent extremists may take advantage of the easing of pandemic restrictions to conduct attacks.
The alert does not cite any specific threats. But it warns of potential danger from an increasingly complex and volatile mix that includes domestic terrorists inspired by various grievances, racial or ethnic hatred and influences from abroad.
Those threats were exacerbated by COVID-19, which spawned conspiracy theories and deepened anger at the government in some quarters over the shutdown of the economy. As virus conditions improve, the alert says new dangers loom.
''Violent extremists may seek to exploit the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions across the United States to conduct attacks against a broader range of targets after previous public capacity limits reduced opportunities for lethal attacks,'' the bulletin said.
Without naming any specific potential targets, it notes that, historically, extremists motivated by racial and ethnic hatred have targeted religious institutions and businesses or gatherings.
The National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security is an extension of one issued earlier this year in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. That alert was expiring Saturday.
It reflects a sense of anxiety over domestic extremists, particularly those motivated by racial and ethnic hatred, that has been building for months, even under the previous administration, with repeated warnings from DHS and the Justice Department.
Concern over the domestic extremists has to a certain degree eclipsed the focus on foreign terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State, though the alert warns that both groups still try to inspire homegrown attacks.
Added to the mix are adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran, which the alert says are amplifying conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19 and calls for violence against people of Asian descent.
''Today's terrorism-related threat landscape is more complex, more dynamic, and more diversified than it was several years ago,'' DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in releasing the new bulletin.
Both Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland testified to a Senate committee this week that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists pose the greatest domestic threat to the country at the moment.
The new alert expires Aug. 13. The national terrorism bulletin issued in January warned of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may have emboldened extremists and set the stage for additional attacks.
That sentiment is still present, with the latest alert noting online calls for violence against politicians, law enforcement, and government buildings. ''Many of the threats outlined in today's bulletin persist from the long shadow cast by the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,'' said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
DHS and the FBI are providing guidance and other assistance to state and local law enforcement organizations to deal with the threat.
DHS has also established a new domestic terrorism branch within its Office of Intelligence and Analysis and has directed state and local governments to use 7.5% of annual grant money issued by the agency to deal with the threat.
This story has been updated to correct that a national terrorism bulletin issued in January was expiring Saturday, not Aug. 13.
Act Blue emailing about Tucker
Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson is now the #1 most-watched host in cable news -- and he’s going to get someone killed.(1)
As he’s gained in popularity, Carlson’s racist and anti-science rhetoric has gotten more out of control. Just last week, Carlson claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine has killed thousands of people, which is a blatant lie.(2) Even though his team - and likely he himself -- are vaccinated, Carlson is convincing his millions of viewers not to get the shot, putting their lives at risk.(3)
Fox News must dump Tucker Carlson, and the only way that will happen is if it becomes too painful for the network to keep him. Courage California has joined a coalition of organizations pressuring advertisers to dump Fox unless they dump Carlson, and we’re launching our campaign right now.
Will you donate to help convince Fox to dump Tucker Carlson?
Carlson has been spreading lies for months about the vaccines, mask-wearing, and any other recommendation made by the Biden administration. But it’s not just the coronavirus that Carlson is lying about to rally his base.
In mid-April, he endorsed “replacement theory” -- the white supremacist idea that California is specifically letting in immigrants to replace white people as majority voters.(4)
He has said that the people who rioted at the Capitol Building weren’t white supremacists, despite all evidence to the contrary. He accused immigrants of polluting waterways. The list goes on and on.(5,6)
This rhetoric doesn’t just engage his viewership -- it incites violence.
Two weeks ago, Carlson encouraged his viewers to confront people wearing masks.(7) And then two Asian women were attacked with a hammer in New York and a storeowner was stabbed in Washington over masks.(8,9)
A former FBI agent was clear: "Carlson is moving viewers passively consuming his propaganda to having them act on it — against their neighbors.”(10) We can’t let that continue.
Tucker Carlson must go.
Will you donate to Courage California and help push Fox to dump Tucker Carlson?
Yours in the fight for our democracy,
Irene, along with Angela, Annie, Caitlin, Deepthi, Jay, Lindsay, LisaMarie, Molly, Raquel, and Scottie (the Courage team)
Like what we do? Chip in to help fund the fight for a more progressive nation. Or find us on Facebook or Twitter.
Arizona Senate president says 2020 recount will proceed, despite angry objections from Maricopa County officials - The Washington Post
Wed, 19 May 2021 07:06
Workers examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on May 8. (Courtney Pedroza for The Washington Post)
The Republican president of the Arizona Senate said Tuesday that an audit of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County being conducted by private contractors will go forward, despite furious pushback from local GOP officials, who this week called the process a ''sham'' that is harming democracy.
At a meeting to discuss the recount of nearly 2.1 million ballots, Senate President Karen Fann said the process is necessary to answer constituent questions and bemoaned the county's unwillingness to work with the contractors hired by the state Senate.
''Let's get this thing done and get our questions answered and get it out to the public and let everybody know that our next election will be 100 percent safe and secure,'' Fann said.
The audit is being led by a Florida company called Cyber Ninjas, whose chief executive has previously promoted claims that the election was fraudulent. The process has been widely criticized as haphazard and insecure by election experts.
Watch more!
More than six months after the 2020 presidential election, Arizona Senate Republicans are leading an audit of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County. (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)On Monday, the county's GOP-majority board of supervisors jointly called for the audit to be closed, saying it was promoting false theories about the election and defaming local officials who ran the November election.
''Our state has become a laughingstock,'' the county officials wrote in their letter. ''Worse, this 'audit' is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic.''
'Our democracy is imperiled': Maricopa County officials decry 2020 recount as a sham and call on Arizona Republicans to end the process
Fann had asked the county to send representatives to the meeting Tuesday to answer questions about what she termed ''serious issues'' with the vote that had been raised by Cyber Ninjas, but Maricopa County officials refused to participate.
Fann repeated Tuesday her assertion that the goal of the audit is not to re-litigate President Biden's victory in Arizona, but instead to look for ways to improve the state's elections in the future.
''That is our sole purpose,'' she said Tuesday.
But that argument has been undercut by former president Donald Trump, who has issued numerous statements arguing that the Arizona audit is the first step to proving that the election was ''stolen'' and called for similar audits elsewhere.
Republicans in Arizona have been deeply split over the recount. Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who certified Biden's victory last year, has said he believes the state's elections are a model for the nation. State and federal judges have previously rejected allegations of fraud in November, and two past audits, as well as a partial hand recount, have reconfirmed the results in Maricopa County, where Biden won by more than two points.
But the state GOP, as well as state legislators and members of Congress, have backed some of Trump's claims, and Fann agreed to spend $150,000 in taxpayer money to fund the new recount. It is also being funded by private donations being raised nationally from Trump supporters.
Michigan judge dismisses lawsuit seeking new audit of Antrim County vote, one of the last remaining 2020 legal challenges
The recount began in late April, after the Senate used a legislative subpoena to seize voting machines and ballots from Maricopa and move them to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.
Audit officials have said they have so far counted about 500,000 ballots '-- about a fourth of the total '-- but paused this week because local high schools had booked the coliseum for graduation ceremonies.
The process is expected to restart next week, and Cyber Ninjas chief executive Doug Logan told Fann on Tuesday that he now estimates they will complete the count by the end of June.
Election observers have said the recount process is inconsistent and lacks security measures, noting that ballots and computers had been left unattended and that the contractors have used shifting methods to handle ballots. The audit has been widely pilloried for using tactics such as UV lights to examine the paper on which the ballots were printed.
With county officials absent from Tuesday's meeting, Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen, the chairman of the state Senate's Judiciary Committee, used the time to question audit officials, including Logan and former secretary of state Ken Bennett, who is acting as the Senate's liaison to the process.
Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in Arizona recount, according to secretary of state
The audit officials told the senators that they had resolved a major concern that had been seized upon by Trump '-- a claim that county officials had deleted files from a server before turning it over to the Senate for review.
On Tuesday, Ben Cotton, founder of CyFir, the company hired to examine the voting software, said that in fact he had ''recovered'' files that they had been seeking.
County officials had been especially angered by the accusation, which initially came in a tweet from the audit's official account accusing them of engaging in ''spoliation of evidence'' '-- potentially a criminal act.
Their distress grew when Trump issued a statement last week alleging that ''entire Database of Maricopa County as been DELETED!'' and adding: ''This is illegal.''
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, had called Trump's accusation ''unhinged'' and ''false.''
Throughout Tuesday's meeting, Maricopa County's official Twitter account responded to Fann's claims with sharp rejoinders.
After Cotton said that he had now located the files the county had been accused of deleting, the account posted: ''Just want to underscore that AZ Senate's @ArizonaAudit account accused Maricopa County of deleting files- which would be a crime- then a day after our technical letter explained they were just looking in the wrong place- all of a sudden 'auditors' have recovered the files.''
Morning Zoo
Morning Zoo, we need an intern on the spectrum
Climate Crisis
Pope Francis Meets With John Kerry, Marking Change in Post-Trump Vatican-US Relations
Mon, 17 May 2021 19:24
Pope Francis bids farewell to then-Secretary of State John Kerry as he departs from Washington en route to New York City in Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on Sept. 24, 2015. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
VATICAN'--Pope Francis met with John Kerry, climate envoy for the Biden administration, on May 14 after a closed-door conference on ''Dreaming of a Better Restart'' for the global economy.
Kerry is one of the first U.S. officials to meet with Pope Francis since the COVID-19 pandemic began and the first among members of the Biden administration.
Pope Francis had reportedly refused to meet with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in September 2020, after Pompeo issued a scathing critique of the Vatican's China policies prior to his attending a conference on religious freedom sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
The Vatican's recent human rights record in China may be related to its negotiations with Beijing about the status of the Catholic Church. Reports regarding the ongoing and secretive Sino''Vatican deal'--including statements from leading experts on the matter, such as Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong'--include allegations that the agreement includes Vatican silence on Chinese religious and socio-political persecution.
Recent testimony by Kerry before the House Foreign Relations Committee contrasts strongly with the position of the Trump administration. For instance, Kerry said that while the Biden administration acknowledged concerning links between the manufacture of solar panels and Chinese slave labor from persecuted groups '-- such as the Uyghurs '-- its policy was that ''climate is existential'' and ''China has got to be part of the solution.''
In an interview with Vatican News following his meeting with Pope Francis, Kerry explained why it was important for him to meet with the papal head, saying: ''The pope is one of the great voices of reason and compelling moral authority on the subject of the climate crisis.
''He's been extraordinary in the eloquence of his call on people to step up and be reasonable and to live out our responsibility as human beings in caring for God's creation. Because he is above politics and outside of the hurly-burly of day-to-day, national conflict, etc. I think he can sort of shake people a little bit and bring them to the table with a better sense of our common obligation.''
The conference that Kerry attended included high-level world economic leaders, but was closed to the public and the press.
Topics of discussion, according to a booklet released by the sponsoring Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, included ''Debt Relief for Developing Countries and International and Fiscal Architecture'' and ''Climate Change and Sustainable and Fair Energy and Food System Transformation.''
Discussions were led by economic and banking leaders, including Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, who is known for his support of population control as a solution to end extreme poverty.
Scientists say mammals can breathe through their butts in emergencies - CNET
Wed, 19 May 2021 00:00
Scientists demonstrated anal respiration using pigs and rodents.
Cell Press You've probably heard that too much sitting can kill you, but there's another reason that getting off your ass could one day help save your life.
Scientists in Japan have demonstrated that mammals can absorb oxygen through the anus in the case of a medical emergency.
"The rectum has a mesh of fine blood vessels just beneath the surface of its lining, which means that drugs administered through the anus are readily absorbed into the bloodstream," explained researcher Ryo Okabe from Tokyo Medical and Dental University, in a statement. "This made us wonder whether oxygen could also be delivered into the bloodstream in the same way."
From the lab to your inbox. Get the latest science stories from CNET every week.
Okabe and a team from TMDU experimented with mice, pigs and rats by depriving the mammals of oxygen and then essentially giving them oxygen-rich enemas in both liquid and gas form. Both methods succeeded in introducing oxygen to the animals' circulatory system. With a little assistance, the mammals were essentially breathing through their butts.
The research was inspired in part by the knowledge that some other species, including loaches, catfish, sea cucumbers and orb-weaving spiders can absorb oxygen through their backside parts.
"This is a provocative idea and those first encountering it will express astonishment," Dr. Caleb Kelly, a clinical fellow at Yale not involved with the study, wrote in a column for the journal Med that accompanied the Japanese researchers' paper in the journal last week.
Based on the fact that loaches have intestinal respiration under hypoxic conditions, the efficacy of the EVA method was examined in mammals such as mice and pigs. The EVA method may be effective for patients with respiratory failure.
Institute of Research,TMDU Though it's hard not to snicker at the approach, the researchers say an alternate way of introducing oxygen to the body could save lives when dealing with respiratory failure from illnesses including pneumonia and even COVID-19.
"The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is overwhelming the clinical need for ventilators and artificial lungs, resulting in a critical shortage of available devices, and endangering patients' lives worldwide," said co-author Takanori Takebe. "The level of arterial oxygenation provided by our ventilation system, if scaled for human application, is likely sufficient to treat patients with severe respiratory failure, potentially providing life-saving oxygenation."
Takebe cautioned that potential side effects and safety concerns "need to be thoroughly evaluated in humans."
The researchers plan to take those steps next, and if all goes well, the approach could be a breath of fresh air introduced to the least fresh of orifices.
Kelly added that if the method, known as Enteral ventilation via anus (EVA), "ultimately reaches the intensive care unit, (it) will be marked by historians as a key scientific contribution."
Yes, your iPhone is taking 'invisible' pictures of you | WGN-TV
Thu, 20 May 2021 13:18
by: Reem Ikram , Nexstar Media Wire
May 18, 2021 / 05:12 AM CDT / Updated:
May 18, 2021 / 10:51 AM CDTBERLIN, GERMANY '' SEPTEMBER 16: A visitor tries out an Apple iPhone 7 on the first day of sales of the new phone at the Berlin Apple store on September 16, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
(KTVX) '-- A video showing a mobile device snapping infrared images of an iPhone user is circulating around the internet and is catching many by surprise.
In the TikTok shared by user Brie Thomason, a digital camera using an infrared lens is seen filming an iPhone user observing his home screen. As the iPhone user stares at the device, Thomason's digital camera captures the iPhone snapping multiple infrared images every five to 10 seconds.
Since the video was uploaded to social media on May 8, it has garnered over 230,000 likes and over 18,000 shares, alarming some and catching many off guard.
While this discovery may cause some users to panic, Apple says this is actually just an aspect of the iPhone that allows users to control their face ID and Animoji (the animated emoji function).
According to Apple, this feature is available on iPhone X and later and iPad Pro models with the A12X Bionic chip.
The company says this feature is part of the new 'TrueDepth IR camera.' This camera, housed in the black notch at the top of the display, includes a number of high-tech components such as a 'flood illuminator,' infrared (IR) camera and an infrared emitter.
Officials say as an iPhone is used, it emits 30,000 infrared dots in a known pattern when a face is detected, enabling the iPhone X to generate a 3D map of a user's face. According to the team, this TrueDepth IR camera can also do this fast enough to support the creation of 3D motion data as well.
So, yes, your iPhone is essentially taking ''invisible'' photos of you, but not for the reasons you would think.
A new tip line invites anyone to name and shame companies for dark pattern designs | TechCrunch
Wed, 19 May 2021 20:32
You may not be familiar with the term ''dark patterns'' but the manipulative design phenomenon is ubiquitous in the apps and services we use every day.
Dark patterns nudge consumers to make choices that enrich companies, usually at their own expense. That can look like misleading wording that leads someone to sign their personal data away or a hidden button that results in a renewed subscription they'd probably rather cancel.
If you run across a sketchy dark pattern design, you can now report it on, a dedicated site hosted by Consumer Reports. The new tip line is a joint project from the EFF, PEN America, Consumer Reports and Access Now, among other digital rights advocates.
Collecting dark pattern reports is an effort that could actually have teeth now, thanks to new laws taking aim at the manipulative design practice.
In March, California modified its landmark privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), to ban dark patterns in tech's own backyard. ''These protections ensure that consumers will not be confused or misled when seeking to exercise their data privacy rights,'' California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said of the new regulations.
Even Congress is worried about dark patterns. In 2019, a bipartisan bill called the DETOUR Act sought to outlaw user interfaces ''obscuring, subverting, or impairing user autonomy'' for large companies with more than 100 million users. While that legislation didn't go anywhere, coercive design choices are one of the many concerns that lawmakers have on their radar as they seek to implement new federal regulations for big tech companies.
Ever run into a bunch of contradictory checkboxes that try to trick you into signing up for someone's email list? That's a dark pattern.
'-- Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) April 9, 2019
For the tip line's creators, flagging concerns for the regulators shaping tech policy is a priority. ''If we want to stop dark patterns on the internet and beyond, we first have to assess what's out there, and then use these examples to influence policymakers and lawmakers,'' EFF Designer Shirin Mori said.
''We hope the Dark Patterns Tip Line will help us move towards more fair, equitable, and accessible technology products and services for everyone.''
Austin's elite funded $1.9M campaign to reinstate homeless camping ban
Mon, 17 May 2021 18:35
Financial support for Proposition B '-- the ballot initiative that targeted Austin's poorest residents by reinstating a criminal ban against camping in public '-- included contributions from many of the city's wealthiest residents and business leaders.
An examination of campaign finance records revealed Save Austin Now '-- the political action committee behind the successful push to bring back the ban '-- tapped into the wallets of dozens of local millionaires and billionaireswith financial stakes in the city's economic success.
In total, Save Austin Now raised $1.9 million in support of Prop B '-- the second largest amount ever in a city of Austin election. It received about 4,100 donations. Of them, 71 were for $5,000 or more and 47 for $10,000 or more.
That money funded robust efforts to communicate with voters ahead of the May 1 election during a time leaders for the opposition fundraising group say they struggled to do the same because of limited resources. Among the pro-Prop B expenditures from the money raised '-- advertisement space on 29 billboards.
With four weeks to go before early voting opened April 19, the anti-prop B group Homes Not Handcuffs had raised just $23,000 in monetary and in-kind donations '-- $415,000 shy of Save Austin Now's total at the time.
Save Austin Now raised an additional $819,000 by the next reporting deadline, eight days before election day. It picked up $655,000 the rest of the way.
"There were enough progressive voters for us to win if we could have reached them," said Heidi Sloan, a former congressional candidate who served as treasurer for Homes Not Handcuffs. "Fundraising was a really limiting factor for us."
Homeless camping ban:Here's how different areas in Austin voted to reinstate
In an off-year election in which one-fourth of registered voters submitted a ballot, Proposition B passed by more than 24,000 votes, 57% to 42%. It came two years after the Austin City Council voted to repeal the camping ban by a 9-2 vote, a decision based on their belief that it would be wrong to penalize people who cannot afford housing since shelters were full.
The ban went back into effect Tuesday, beginning with a 30-day grace period, during which city staff and the Austin Police Department will provide education on the new law and give verbal warnings but hold off on issuing written warnings and citations.
In approving the measure, voters also agreed to more restrictivelaws on panhandling and sitting and lying in public.
Outraising Project Connect, but not Uber and LyftSave Austin Now's fundraising success upstaged the then-record $1.2 million Mayor Steve Adler raised for his campaign in 2014 and the $1.5 million Mobility for All raised in support of the 2020 mass transit initiative Project Connect.
After the early lag, Homes Not Handcuffs ended up raising a total of $198,000. Its largest donor: Adler. He contributed $10,516.
The only fundraising effort in an Austin election that exceeded that of Save Austin Now came in 2016, when Uber and Lyft spent $10.3 million out of their own pockets in a failed attempt to overturn a city law requiring fingerprint background checks for drivers.
"Fundraising was the single most important component to our victory," Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak said.
Camping ban takes effec:Why didn't Austin have a better plan to house homeless?
Mackowiak, the Travis County Republican Party leader, said the immense amount of money underscored the furor of residents and businesses owners as areas where they live, work and play became dotted with tent encampments.
"I believe there was a civic purpose, a truly civic purpose, by everyone who donated to our effort," he said.
Save Austin Now received 20 contributions of at least $20,000. They came from 15 donors. It was the first time nine of them had contributed financially in an Austin election, records show. Two others contributed for the second time after donating last year to Fight For Austin '-- another PAC Mackowiak helped organize prior to the November election to support conservative candidates in races targeting incumbent council members over public safety and social issues, including homelessness.
David Butts, a local political consultant, said Save Austin Now benefited not only from fundraising but also from ugly incidents leading up to the election that portrayed the homeless population in a negative light.
Among them: fires that spread from encampments to the historic Buford Tower downtown and shut down multiple lanes of highway at Interstate 35 and East Ben White Boulevard.
"Those were like TV ads to thousands of people," Butts said.
Epstein's donationThe big-money donors who supported bringing back the camping ban included Austin billionaire software investor Joe Liemandt, who gave $50,000 in his first contribution in a city election in five years; a management company led by Austin FC co-founder and owner Eddie Margain, which gave $10,000; and the Austin Police Association PAC, which donated $36,000 over two transactions.
The police association PAC gave $27,000 on April 22, the same day it received $30,000 from Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein. Four days later, it contributed $9,000 more.
In a text message to the American-Statesman, Epstein said he did not make the donation to the police association with the purpose of routing it to Save Austin Now.
Valencia Escobar, treasurer for the Austin Police Association PAC, said she could not immediately comment when reached by phone late Friday.
If Epstein did use the police union PAC to funnel that donation, the transaction might have been unlawful for both of them.
Under the Texas election code, the police union PAC would not have been able to make a payment on behalf of Epstein unless it disclosed it in writing so that Save Austin Now could make a proper disclosure. According to records the Statesman checked, that did not appear to happen. Likewise, Epstein would not have been permitted to authorize such a transaction under state election code.
Campaign finance lawyer Roger Borgelt said the transaction raises suspicion but any evidence of wrongdoing is merely circumstantial. "It's not a case that I believe the ethics commission would find a violation," Borgelt said, "and it's certainly not a case you could take to criminal prosecution."
Lawyer Doug Ray arrived at a similar conclusion. "It may look suspicious, but I can't tell you whether there was an agreement or not. The burden would be on the person claiming there was an agreement. If you have no email, if you have no recorded phone call, if you have no third party saying 'I overheard them' ... those kind of cases are typically almost impossible to make."
Epstein said this was not the first time he made a donation to the police association.
The Statesman tried to verify that claim but campaign records do not show any other donations Epstein contributed to the police union. Since 2008, he has given money to more than 100 other local and statewide committees and candidates.
'We're going to lose tourists'The Statesman reached out to more than a dozen of the largest donors to Save Austin Now to learn of the motivations behind their giving.
Three of them responded: former Greater Austin Crime Commission President David Roche, a retired commercial real estate agent who gave $15,000; Central Texas auto dealer Benny Boyd, who gave $30,000; and Dallas billionaire Robert Rowling, a major supporter of Texas Republicans who made his first foray into Austin politics and donated $50,000 through his holding company.
With a net worth of $3.9 billion according to Forbes, Rowling is tied for the state's 20th wealthiest resident with the widow of the late Houston Texans owner Bob McNair.
Rowling reinvested family oil money into the purchase of Omni Hotels & Resorts. He owns two properties in Austin '-- one downtown, another in the Barton Creek area '-- and he said he fears the city's tourism industry will be harmed if the homelessness problem escalates and scares away visitors as he believes it has in San Francisco.
Rowling also owns an Omni property in San Francisco.
"That was my first exposure to what can happen to a city when they don't control this," he said. "We're going to lose tourists in Austin. That's the motivation for the contribution."
Austin's tourism industry has largely been untested by the homelessness crisis because the COVID-19 pandemic arrived eight months after the camping ban was lifted and prompted officials to cancel events that would've attracted swarms of visitors.
Rowling is a major player in Texas politics: In 2020, he gave a combined $357,000 to Republican candidates and committees. That included $100,000 each to the Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund and the Texas Latino Conservatives PAC.
His concerns about Austin turning into San Francisco mirror those of donor Joe Lonsdale, an entrepreneur who moved his venture firm to Austin from the Bay Area six months ago. In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal at that time, Lonsdale cited an erosion of public safety in San Francisco among his reasons for leaving.
"Three of my colleagues' wives have been harassed and chased by derelicts in San Francisco's streets, which are littered with needles and human waste," he wrote. "My wife is afraid to walk around the city with our young daughters."
Lonsdale made two contributions to Save Austin Now totaling $65,000.
Boyd, the automobile dealer, said he became concerned about the unsheltered homelessness problem not long after he and his wife moved into a condo in downtown Austin last summer.
"The city just went from being one of the most beautiful cities in the United States to one of the dirtiest," he said. "Everywhere you look, trash, tents. It just drove me crazy."
Roche, the former crime commission president, said an accumulation of violent incidents involving homeless people prompted him to donate. They included the strangulation and sexual assault of University of Texas student Haruka Weiser in 2016, the sexual assault of a female runner on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail in 2017, and the stabbing attack that killed a Freebirds World Burrito employee in 2020.
"All of those instances told me I had to do something," Roche said.
He added that he has spent more money supporting homeless people than he did supporting Save Austin Now. He gave $25,000 to the local nonprofit Foundation Communities, which owns and operates affordable housing communities in Austin and North Texas. The director, Walter Moreau, confirmed Roche's donation, which he made in installments from 2014 to 2016.
The biggest contributor to Save Austin Now, with three donations totaling $200,000, was University of Texas supporter Phil Canfield.
Public records show Canfield moved to Austin in 2020 and registered to vote in October.
The business honors program at UT is named after him, a designation that came after Canfield and his wife, Mary Beth, donated $20 million to the school in 2018.
Donating $148,000 '-- second most to Canfield '-- was Danielle Royston, a longtime Austin resident involved in cloud-based technology. This was the first time she contributed financially in a city election, records show.
Notable $10,000 donors were the Alamo PAC, which is associated with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and McWhinney Real Estate, a Colorado developer building a Hyatt hotel in downtown Austin.
Those donating $50,000 included PayPal co-founder Luke Nosek, whose Austin venture capital firm Gigafund invested in Elon Musk's SpaceX and The Boring Company. Gigafund co-founder Stephen Oskoui also contributed $50,000.
Need for reform?Butts, the political consultant, said the presence of large donations to Save Austin Now suggests to him the city needs to make it easier for nonwealthy residents to fund elections.
An effort that would have done that by giving registered voters up to two $25 vouchers to contribute to the campaigns of local candidates was defeated May 1. The vouchers would have gone to candidates for mayor or city council, not for ballot initiatives like Prop B.
Story continues below.
Sloan, of Homes Not Handcuffs, said the fundraising disparity in this election to her screams for the need for stronger state restrictions on wealthy business owners whose financial interests can be at odds with the interests of people experiencing homelessness. She spoke about the importance of better wages and work conditions for rank-and-file workers to prevent them from going broke and entering into homelessness.
"We are striving to protect the most exploited, those who have been pushed out of that economic system," she said. "Folks want to continue to drive down wages because they have a stake in the game."
Sloan said the money raised by Save Austin Now could have made a greater impact had it gone to housing instead of the election.
That effort to criminalize public camping raised more money than the now-abandoned effort led by the Austin Chamber of Commerce to acquire and operate a 300-bed tent shelter. The chamber's nonprofit raised just $1.4 million of a $14 million two-year goal.
VIEW MAP: 45 potential city-owned Austin homeless camping sites | KXAN Austin
Wed, 19 May 2021 03:05
Jacqulyn Powell and Russell Falcon
9 hours ago
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- The City of Austin has identified 45 city-owned areas to possibly turn into designated camps for people experiencing homelessness.
The move comes after the reinstatement of Austin's citywide camping ban, which went back into effect May 11 after voters approved Proposition B in May 1's election.
The city stressed this list is preliminary and is only a ''snapshot'' of the sites where it has done an initial analysis. ''The list will most certainly change,'' a City of Austin spokesman wrote, including having some removed and others added.
Here's the initial list of the spots being considered:
Walter E. Long 11455 Decker Lake RoadJohn Trevino 9501 FM 969Walnut Creek Sports Park '-- 7800 Johnny Morris RoadGiven Recreation Center '-- 3811 East 12th StreetFleet Service Yard '-- 8401 Johnny Morris RoadColony Park land3511 Manor RoadTannehill LaneOnion Creek Metro North7720 ½ Kellam Road5400 East William Cannon, Decommissioned WWTPFM 812 at FM 973Eco-Park at FM 973West Slaughter Lane and 8908-8916-9006 Cullen RoadParque Zaragoza Recreation Center '-- 2609 Gonzales StreetSouth Austin Recreation Center '-- 1100 Cumberland RoadRoy G. Guerrero '-- 400 Grove Boulevard6700 Bolm Road District ParkJohnny Degollado Pavilion at Edward Rendon Park4800 '' 4906 Bolm RoadLevander Loop1311 Tillery StreetGus Garcia '-- 1201 East Rundberg Lane7211 North I-357309 North I-35Mary Moore Searight '-- 907 West Slaughter LaneLakeline Neighborhood Park12101 Anderson Mill Road10900 FM 2222 (WWT)Commons Ford Park '-- 614 North Commons Ford RoadWalnut Creek/HavensNorthwest Recreation CenterSir Swante Palm Neighborhood Park '-- East Third StreetDuncan Park '-- 900 West Ninth StreetSand Beach Park on West Cesar Chavez StreetPatterson Park '-- 4200 Brookview RoadBull Creek Park '-- Lakewood DriveRyan Drive WarehouseCircle CDick Nichols '-- 8011 Beckett Road11800 FM 18269513 Circle Drive4905 Convict Hill RoadNorwood TractAustin Recreation CenterCity staff reviewed more than 70 city-owned properties to be considered for encampments. A City of Austin spokesman says they will continue analyzing them and will present the City Council with an update in June.
''The sites identified in today's presentation to Mayor and Council are preliminary locations. The lists we have provided are only a snapshot of the sites where we have done the initial analysis that Council requested. These sites are not final and the list will most certainly change. Some locations may come off, and others may be added, as part of an ongoing examination of potential sites. Staff will continue analyzing properties and will work to present Council with an update in June.''
City of Austin spokespersonCity Manager Spencer Cronk was directed to share the list owned by the city or partner organizations on Friday, but city staff said those sites would be discussed on Tuesday instead.
Given their first look at the city's list so far, council members had mixed reactions in Tuesday's meeting.
''I'm right now not confident about the ones that are on this list, right now, but I hope that we can get our heads together,'' said council member Paige Ellis.
Ellis and others have concerns about wildfire and flooding risks in some spots. They also worry about placing the homeless in busy parks.
City Manager Spencer Cronk said he'll work with council members to look for other potential properties.
''We're going to be following up with each of you individually to look at other potential sites in your district,'' he told the council. ''Those may not be city-owned properties, but maybe you have a relationship with a private land owner.''
Cronk said the city would also consider partnering with entities interested in helping or even look to other jurisdictions for potential sites.
City leaders have not decided how many different sites they might choose to use as encampments. City staff members say each two acre plot could house about 50 people, and a four acre plot, 100.
Austin Police Department Lt. Lawrence Davis, who is overseeing the implementation of the camping ban, says having designated encampments will help make it easier to keep people safe and provide continuing resources.
''That's going to make it exponentially more prudent and responsible when we have a location for them to go,'' Davis said. ''So when I tell you, 'Hey, you have to vacate this spot,' I want to be humane enough to tell you, 'Here's a safe space where you can go.''
The City of Austin says any location chosen would have electricity and water service, restrooms, hygiene stations, showers, adequate lighting and perimeter fencing where appropriate. It says the initial round of site analysis has been completed using the following criteria:
Minimum size: 2 acres to serve 50 people, or 4 acres for 100 peopleAccess to water and electricity service (and/or cost to establish, if known)Existing lightingTerrain suitabilityFlood riskWildfire riskProximity to a fire hydrantEnvironmental sensitivity of land (i.e. habitat or preserve)Expansion capacityAvailability for two-year temporary usePresence of shaded areasAccess to public transportationProximity to critical retail and servicesProximity to schoolsPotential disruption to existing public services or development plans
Inside Apple's Compromises in China: A Times Investigation - The New York Times
Wed, 19 May 2021 07:18
GUIYANG, China '-- On the outskirts of this city in a poor, mountainous province in southwestern China, men in hard hats recently put the finishing touches on a white building a quarter-mile long with few windows and a tall surrounding wall. There was little sign of its purpose, apart from the flags of Apple and China flying out front, side by side.
Inside, Apple was preparing to store the personal data of its Chinese customers on computer servers run by a state-owned Chinese firm.
Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, has said the data is safe. But at the data center in Guiyang, which Apple hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the Chinese government.
Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they're meant to secure.
Internal Apple documents reviewed by The New York Times, interviews with 17 current and former Apple employees and four security experts, and new filings made in a court case in the United States last week provide rare insight into the compromises Mr. Cook has made to do business in China. They offer an extensive inside look '-- many aspects of which have never been reported before '-- at how Apple has given in to escalating demands from the Chinese authorities.
Two decades ago, as Apple's operations chief, Mr. Cook spearheaded the company's entrance into China, a move that helped make Apple the most valuable company in the world and made him the heir apparent to Steve Jobs. Apple now assembles nearly all of its products and earns a fifth of its revenue in the China region. But just as Mr. Cook figured out how to make China work for Apple, China is making Apple work for the Chinese government.
Mr. Cook often talks about Apple's commitment to civil liberties and privacy. But to stay on the right side of Chinese regulators, his company has put the data of its Chinese customers at risk and has aided government censorship in the Chinese version of its App Store. After Chinese employees complained, it even dropped the ''Designed by Apple in California'' slogan from the backs of iPhones.
Image The entrance to Apple's new data center, which the company hoped to complete next month. Credit... Keith Bradsher/The New York Times China's leader, Xi Jinping, is increasing his demands on Western companies, and Mr. Cook has resisted those demands on a number of occasions. But he ultimately approved the plans to store customer data on Chinese servers and to aggressively censor apps, according to interviews with current and former Apple employees.
''Apple has become a cog in the censorship machine that presents a government-controlled version of the internet,'' said Nicholas Bequelin, Asia director for Amnesty International, the human rights group. ''If you look at the behavior of the Chinese government, you don't see any resistance from Apple '-- no history of standing up for the principles that Apple claims to be so attached to.''
While both the Trump and Biden administrations have taken a tougher line toward China, Apple's courtship of the Chinese government shows a disconnect between politicians in Washington and America's wealthiest company.
Mr. Cook has been on a charm offensive in China, making frequent, statesmanlike visits and meeting with top leaders. On one trip in 2019, he toured the Forbidden City, met with a start-up and posted about the trip on the Chinese social platform Weibo.
Behind the scenes, Apple has constructed a bureaucracy that has become a powerful tool in China's vast censorship operation. It proactively censors its Chinese App Store, relying on software and employees to flag and block apps that Apple managers worry could run afoul of Chinese officials, according to interviews and court documents.
A Times analysis found that tens of thousands of apps have disappeared from Apple's Chinese App Store over the past several years, more than previously known, including foreign news outlets, gay dating services and encrypted messaging apps. It also blocked tools for organizing pro-democracy protests and skirting internet restrictions, as well as apps about the Dalai Lama.
Image President Xi Jinping of China, lower left, greeting Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, in 2015. Mr. Cook has made frequent, statesmanlike visits to China. Credit... Associated Press And in its data centers, Apple's compromises have made it nearly impossible for the company to stop the Chinese government from gaining access to the emails, photos, documents, contacts and locations of millions of Chinese residents, according to the security experts and Apple engineers.
The company said in a statement that it followed the laws in China and did everything it could to keep the data of customers safe. ''We have never compromised the security of our users or their data in China or anywhere we operate,'' the company said.
An Apple spokesman said that the company still controlled the keys that protect the data of its Chinese customers and that Apple used its most advanced encryption technology in China '-- more advanced than what it used in other countries.
Apple added that it removed apps only to comply with Chinese laws. ''These decisions are not always easy, and we may not agree with the laws that shape them,'' the company said. ''But our priority remains creating the best user experience without violating the rules we are obligated to follow.''
Mr. Cook declined an interview for this article. In public appearances, he has said that while he often disagrees with China's laws, the world is better off with Apple in China.
''Your choice is: Do you participate? Or do you stand on the sideline and yell at how things should be?'' he said at a conference in China in 2017. ''My own view very strongly is: You show up and you participate. You get in the arena, because nothing ever changes from the sideline.''
No Plan BIn 2014, Apple hired Doug Guthrie, the departing dean of the George Washington University business school, to help the company navigate China, a country he had spent decades studying.
One of his first research projects was Apple's Chinese supply chain, which involved millions of workers, thousands of plants and hundreds of suppliers. The Chinese government made that operation possible by spending billions of dollars to pave roads, recruit workers, and construct factories, power plants and employee housing.
Mr. Guthrie concluded that no other country could offer the scale, skills, infrastructure and government assistance that Apple required. Chinese workers assemble nearly every iPhone, iPad and Mac. Apple brings in $55 billion a year from the region, far more than any other American company makes in China.
''This business model only really fits and works in China,'' Mr. Guthrie said in an interview. ''But then you're married to China.''
Image Apple hired Doug Guthrie in 2014 to help the company navigate China. At the time, the country was starting to pass laws that gave the government greater leverage over Apple. Credit... Erin Kirkland for The New York Times The Chinese government was starting to pass laws that gave the country greater leverage over Apple, and Mr. Guthrie said he believed Mr. Xi would soon start seeking concessions. Apple, he realized, had no Plan B.
''For Chinese authorities, this is no longer about, 'How much money are you pouring into China?' This is about, 'What are you giving back?''' Mr. Guthrie said.
Mr. Guthrie delivered his warning to Mr. Cook's top deputies, including Phil Schiller, a longtime marketing chief; Eddy Cue, head of internet software and services; Lisa Jackson, the company's government affairs chief; and Jeff Williams, its operations chief, who is widely viewed as Mr. Cook's right-hand man.
As Mr. Guthrie was delivering his warnings, Apple set about keeping the Chinese government happy. Part of that effort was new research and development centers in China. But those R&D centers complicated Apple's image as a California company. At a summit for its new Chinese engineers and designers, Apple showed a video that ended with a phrase that Apple had been inscribing on the backs of iPhones for years: ''Designed by Apple in California.''
The Chinese employees were angered, according to Mr. Guthrie and another person in the room. If the products were designed in California, they shouted, then what were they doing in China?
''The statement was deeply offensive to them,'' said Mr. Guthrie, who left Apple in 2019 to return to his home in Michigan. ''They were just furious.''
The next iPhone didn't include the phrase.
'Golden Gate'In November 2016, China approved a law requiring that all ''personal information and important data'' that is collected in China be kept in China.
It was bad news for Apple, which had staked its reputation on keeping customers' data safe. While Apple regularly responded to court orders for access to customer data, Mr. Cook had rebuffed the F.B.I. after it demanded Apple's help breaking into an iPhone belonging to a terrorist involved in the killing of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. Now the Chinese government had an even broader request.
Other companies faced a similar dilemma in China, but Apple was uniquely exposed because of its high profile and acute dependence on the country.
Apple's iCloud service allows customers to store some of their most sensitive data '-- things like personal contacts, photos and emails '-- in the company's data centers. The service can back up everything stored on an iPhone or Mac computer, and can reveal the current location of a user's Apple devices. Most of that data for Chinese customers was stored on servers outside China.
Image Apple's new data center in the Inner Mongolia region of China. Credit... Cnes/Airbus, via Google Earth Apple's China team warned Mr. Cook that China could shut down iCloud in the country if it did not comply with the new cybersecurity law. So Mr. Cook agreed to move the personal data of his Chinese customers to the servers of a Chinese state-owned company. That led to a project known inside Apple as ''Golden Gate.''
Apple encrypts customers' private data in its iCloud service. But for most of that information, Apple also has the digital keys to unlock that encryption.
The location of the keys to the data of Chinese customers was a sticking point in talks between Apple and Chinese officials, two people close to the deliberations said. Apple wanted to keep them in the United States; the Chinese officials wanted them in China.
The cybersecurity law went into effect in June 2017. In an initial agreement between Apple and Chinese officials, the location of the keys was left intentionally vague, one person said.
But eight months later, the encryption keys were headed to China. That surprised at least two Apple executives who worked on the initial negotiations and who said the move could jeopardize customers' data. It is unclear what led to the change.
Documents reviewed by The Times do not show that the Chinese government has gained access to the data. They only indicate that Apple has made compromises that make it easier for the government to do so.
An unusual arrangementWith the keys in China, the government has two avenues to the data, security experts said: demand it '-- or take it without asking.
The Chinese government regularly demands data from Chinese companies, often for law-enforcement investigations. Chinese law requires the companies to comply.
U.S. law has long prohibited American companies from turning over data to Chinese law enforcement. But Apple and the Chinese government have made an unusual arrangement to get around American laws.
In China, Apple has ceded legal ownership of its customers' data to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data, or GCBD, a company owned by the government of Guizhou Province, whose capital is Guiyang. Apple recently required its Chinese customers to accept new iCloud terms and conditions that list GCBD as the service provider and Apple as ''an additional party.'' Apple told customers the change was to ''improve iCloud services in China mainland and comply with Chinese regulations.''
The terms and conditions included a new provision that does not appear in other countries: ''Apple and GCBD will have access to all data that you store on this service'' and can share that data ''between each other under applicable law.''
Under the new setup, Chinese authorities ask GCBD '-- not Apple '-- for Apple customers' data, Apple said. Apple believes that gives it a legal shield from American law, according to a person who helped create the arrangement. GCBD declined to answer questions about its Apple partnership.
In the three years before China's cybersecurity law went into effect, Apple never provided the contents of a user's iCloud account to the Chinese authorities and challenged 42 Chinese government requests for such data, according to statistics released by the company. Apple said it challenged those requests because they were illegal under U.S. law.
In the three years after the law kicked in, Apple said it provided the contents of an undisclosed number of iCloud accounts to the government in nine cases and challenged just three government requests.
Image An extensive complex of apartments and town homes is being built across the street from Apple's data center in Guiyang. Credit... Keith Bradsher/The New York Times Apple still appears to provide far more data to U.S. law enforcement. Over that same period, from 2013 through June 2020, Apple said it turned over the contents of iCloud accounts to U.S. authorities in 10,781 separate cases.
Chinese officials say their cybersecurity law is intended to protect Chinese residents' data from foreign governments. People close to Apple suggested that the Chinese authorities often don't need Apple's data, and thus demand it less often, because they already surveil their citizens in myriad other ways.
But the iCloud data in China is vulnerable to the Chinese government because Apple made a series of compromises to meet the authorities' demands, according to dozens of pages of internal Apple documents on the planned design and security of the Chinese iCloud system, which were reviewed for The Times by an Apple engineer and four independent security researchers.
The documents show that GCBD employees would have physical control over the servers, while Apple employees would largely monitor the operation from outside the country. The security experts said that arrangement alone represented a threat that no engineer could solve.
''Chinese intelligence has physical control over your hardware '-- that's basically a threat level you can't let it get to,'' said Matthew D. Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University.
Apple said it designed the iCloud security ''in such a way that only Apple has control of the encryption keys.''
The documents also show that Apple is using different encryption technology in China than elsewhere in the world, contradicting what Mr. Cook suggested in a 2018 interview.
The digital keys that can decrypt iCloud data are usually stored on specialized devices, called hardware security modules, that are made by Thales, a French technology company. But China would not approve the use of the Thales devices, according to two employees. So Apple created new devices to store the keys in China.
The documents, from early 2020, indicated that Apple had planned to base the new devices on an older version of iOS, the software underpinning iPhones, which is among the most targeted systems by hackers. Apple also planned to use low-cost hardware originally designed for the Apple TV. That alarmed the security researchers.
But Apple said that the documents included outdated information and that its Chinese data centers ''feature our very latest and most sophisticated protections,'' which would eventually be used in other countries.
The Chinese government must approve any encryption technology that Apple uses in China, according to two current Apple employees.
Image People waiting in line last year for the opening of a new Apple Store in Beijing. The company earns a fifth of its revenue in the China region. Credit... Kevin Frayer/Getty Images ''The Chinese are serial iPhone breakers,'' said Ross J. Anderson, a University of Cambridge cybersecurity researcher who reviewed the documents. ''I'm convinced that they will have the ability to break into the servers.''
Apple has tried to isolate the Chinese servers from the rest of its iCloud network, according to the documents. The Chinese network would be ''established, managed, and monitored separately from all other networks, with no means of traversing to other networks out of country.'' Two Apple engineers said the measure was to prevent security breaches in China from spreading to the rest of Apple's data centers.
Apple said that it sequestered the Chinese data centers because they are, in effect, owned by the Chinese government, and Apple keeps all third parties disconnected from its internal network.
In Cupertino, Calif., Apple engineers have been racing to finish designs for the new Chinese iCloud. In a presentation to some engineers last year, according to slides viewed by The Times, managers made clear that the stakes were high.
''There will be immense pressure to get it done. We agreed to this timeline three years ago,'' said one slide. ''Important people put their reputations on the line. iCloud needs influential friends in China.''
The documents showed that Apple's deadline to start storing data in the new Chinese data centers was June 2021.
'China hide process'In early 2018, Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire, was spending much of his time in Manhattan trying to broadcast his claims of corruption inside the Communist Party. His latest effort was an iPhone app in China that delivered those claims.
Before his app even became available on iPhones, the Chinese government was trying to block it. Shortly after Mr. Guo applied to the App Store, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the government's internet regulator, told Apple it wanted the app rejected. It was unclear how the officials knew about it.
Those events and the chain reaction they set off inside Apple were laid out in court documents last week in a wrongful-termination case against the company. The documents and interviews shine a light on a bureaucracy inside Apple designed to censor and block apps, often proactively, to appease the Chinese government.
On Feb. 4, 2018, shortly after the Chinese authorities demanded that Mr. Guo's app be rejected, an Apple manager emailed a colleague with a question: Did Mr. Guo belong on Apple's ''China sensitivities list,'' along with the likes of Falun Gong '-- the Chinese spiritual movement '-- and the Dalai Lama?
The colleague replied that Mr. Guo probably should be on the list, given that he had been spreading unverifiable defamatory stories about Chinese officials. She suggested that the question be elevated to Apple's ''executive review board,'' a group of executives who decide the trickiest App Store issues, including top deputies to Mr. Cook.
Two weeks later, the board said Mr. Guo belonged on Apple's China blacklist. Apple employees added his name to the company's internal ''Chinese App Store Removal wiki page,'' according to the documents, as well as a software program that would automatically tag any apps that mentioned him.
Image Guo Wengui, an exiled critic of China's government, in 2017. Apple said it had removed his iPhone app in China because it had determined it was illegal there. Credit... James Estrin/The New York Times Six months later, Mr. Guo submitted his app again, with changes to elude Apple's software. Trieu Pham, an app reviewer in Cupertino, was assigned the app. He didn't find anything that violated Apple's rules. On Aug. 2, he approved it.
Three weeks later, Trystan Kosmynka, Apple's app review chief, sent an email to several managers at 2:32 a.m. The subject line was ''Hot: Guo.'' The Chinese government had spotted Mr. Guo's new app, and Mr. Kosmynka wanted to know how it had gotten published.
''This app and any Guo Wengui app cannot be on the China store,'' he wrote, according to the emails filed in the court case. ''Can we put the necessary pieces in place to prevent that ASAP.''
Apple pulled the app and began investigating. A resulting report said the app was published because the ''China hide process was not followed,'' according to court documents. It said that Mr. Pham, the app reviewer, should have sent the app to Apple's Chinese language specialists, who had been trained on which topics to block in the Chinese App Store, including Mr. Guo.
When Apple managers questioned Mr. Pham, he told them the app didn't violate any policies. The managers responded that the app criticized the Chinese government, Mr. Pham said in court documents, and that this was enough for rejection.
Six months later, Apple fired Mr. Pham. In response, he sued the company, accusing it of pushing him out to appease the Chinese government.
Apple said it removed Mr. Guo's app in China because it had determined it was illegal there. Apple said it fired Mr. Pham because of poor performance.
Mr. Guo's media outlets have a history of peddling misinformation. The exact nature of the apps in the 2018 case was unclear, though court documents said they discussed Chinese Communist Party corruption.
Phillip Shoemaker, who ran Apple's App Store from 2009 to 2016, said in an interview that Apple lawyers in China gave his team a list of topics that couldn't appear in apps in the country, including Tiananmen Square and independence for Tibet and Taiwan. He said Apple's policy was matter-of-fact: If the lawyers believed a topic was off-limits in China, then Apple would remove it there.
On Chinese iPhones, Apple forbids apps about the Dalai Lama while hosting those from the Chinese paramilitary group accused of detaining and abusing Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group in China.
The company has also helped China spread its view of the world. Chinese iPhones censor the emoji of the Taiwanese flag, and their maps suggest Taiwan is part of China. For a time, simply typing the word ''Taiwan'' could make an iPhone crash, according to Patrick Wardle, a former hacker at the National Security Agency.
Sometimes, Mr. Shoemaker said, he was awakened in the middle of the night with demands from the Chinese government to remove an app. If the app appeared to mention the banned topics, he would remove it, but he would send more complicated cases to senior executives, including Mr. Cue and Mr. Schiller.
Apple resisted an order from the Chinese government in 2012 to remove The Times's apps. But five years later, it ultimately did. Mr. Cook approved the decision, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Apple recently began disclosing how often governments demand that it remove apps. In the two years ending June 2020, the most recent data available, Apple said it approved 91 percent of the Chinese government's app-takedown requests, removing 1,217 apps.
In every other country combined over that period, Apple approved 40 percent of requests, removing 253 apps. Apple said that most of the apps it removed for the Chinese government were related to gambling or pornography or were operating without a government license, such as loan services and livestreaming apps.
Yet a Times analysis of Chinese app data suggests those disclosures represent a fraction of the apps that Apple has blocked in China. Since 2017, roughly 55,000 active apps have disappeared from Apple's App Store in China, according to a Times analysis of data compiled by Sensor Tower, an app data firm. Most of those apps have remained available in other countries.
More than 35,000 of those apps were games, which in China must get approval from regulators. The remaining 20,000 cut across a wide range of categories. Apps that mapped users' runs, edited selfies or taught sexual positions were removed. So were apps that allowed users to message privately, share documents and browse websites the Chinese government had blocked. More than 600 news apps also disappeared.
Apple disputed those figures, saying that some developers remove their own apps from China. Apple said that since 2017, it had taken down 70 news apps in response to Chinese government demands.
The discrepancy between Apple's disclosures and the Times analysis is in part because Apple is removing apps before China's internet censors even complain. Apple does not disclose such takedowns in its statistics.
Mr. Shoemaker said he and his team rationalized removing apps by framing them as simply enforcing a country's laws. Similar steps were taken in places like Saudi Arabia and Russia, he said. ''At the same time, we didn't want to get hauled up in front of the Senate to talk about why we're quote 'censoring apps in China,''' he said. ''It was a tightrope we had to walk.''
Raymond Zhong reported from Guiyang. Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Guiyang.
13-year-olds can now trade stocks...
Tue, 18 May 2021 23:47
Companies are increasingly chasing next-gen consumers: America's youth.
What's new: Fidelity today said 13- to 17-year-olds can trade stocks using an account in teens' full control once it's opened by a guardian. It's an industry first '-- and other brokers could follow.
Why it matters: Kids are a lucrative market given how much younger they are developing online habits (something the pandemic has only made worse).
What they're saying: "It's basically hook 'em as young as you can, period," says Jim Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a children's advocacy group that's called for more regulations on this front.
"They market to kids and teens because a) you hook them at a young age and b) you get their parents." It's happening across a slew of industries.
Media companies like Netflix and ViacomCBS are pouring millions of dollars into content for kids. The New York Times is testing kid-friendly digital subscriptions. 44 state attorneys general urged Facebook to drop plans for a version of Instagram for those under 13. (It already has the controversial Messenger Kids.)One toy retailer now "lets kids as young as 3 years old shop for gifts ... without requiring further signoff from an adult," the Wall Street Journal reported this week.The big picture: For decades, there's been caution around what is too dangerous to be marketed to kids (think cigarettes and toy guns). But the line between what should and shouldn't be off-limits is getting blurrier.
What to watch: Big Tech's reputation for getting kids onto its platforms is the source of bipartisan ire. One concern: These companies have fallen short on privacy for adult users '-- the same will happen for children.
"Unfortunately, when it comes to putting children ahead of their profits, Big Tech always fails," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said at a congressional hearing on children's online privacy today. Of note: Fidelity says there are guardrails to ensure trading teens '-- who can't trade on margin '-- are supervised.
Guardians must agree to receive activity statements, plus they can sign up for alerts on all transactions, a spokesperson says.
Wells Fargo: US bank to start trading in Bitcoin - BBC News
Wed, 19 May 2021 18:21
2 hours ago
Image source, Getty Images
Another major US bank is set to start trading in Bitcoin, despite recent steep falls in the cryptocurrency,
Wells Fargo said on Wednesday it would introduce professionally-managed funds for its more wealthy clients.
In a report, its investment institute said the risks associated with digital currencies meant it would favour "qualified investors".
It came as the price of Bitcoin fell 22% after China said it was imposing fresh curbs on the cryptocurrency.
It took the value of the digital coin below $34,000 (£24,030) for the first time in three months on Wednesday, spurring a sell-off of other digital currencies.
In a report titled "The investment rationale for cryptocurrencies", the Wells Fargo Investment Institute (WFII) said it views digital coins as an alternative investment.
"WFII believes that cryptocurrencies have gained stability and viability as assets, but the risks lead us to favour investment exposure only for qualified investors, and even then through professionally managed funds," it said.
It is the latest in a series of big US banks to start trading in Bitcoin as the cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream.
In March, investment bank Morgan Stanley became the first big American financial institution to offer wealth management clients with a "high-risk tolerance" access to Bitcoin funds.
JPMorgan Chase is also preparing to let some select clients invest in actively-managed funds for the first time, the trade publication Coindesk reported in April.
Bitcoin fell on Wednesday after China decided to ban financial institutions and payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions.
It also warned investors against speculative crypto trading.
Bitcoin had already suffered sharp falls last week after Elon Musk said he would no longer accept payments for Tesla cars in the currency.
Ministry of Truthiness
With AT&T's WarnerMedia-Discovery deal, Jeff Zucker poised for a comeback
Tue, 18 May 2021 23:50
Jeff Zucker spent last year in a box.
Heading into 2020, the CNN president was considered the top internal candidate to take over as chief executive of AT&T's WarnerMedia, according to several company insiders. It would be a major promotion to the top of one of the biggest media companies in the business, overseeing a portfolio that included Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, as well as the cable news channel he had stewarded.
Instead, in April of that year, AT&T handed the reins to Jason Kilar, a former Hulu CEO and Amazon alumnus eager to disrupt the legacy media business and go all-in on streaming.
Zucker, the one-time CEO of NBCUniversal and a legacy media veteran, found himself reporting to Kilar, a tech executive who had little experience with the preoccupations of cable news and legacy television (NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News). Zucker chafed at AT&T's decision, which took away some of his control over personnel. He and Kilar merely tolerated one another, four sources with knowledge of their dynamic said.
Through the press and public statements, Zucker sent signals to AT&T CEO John Stankey that he might leave if Kilar tried too hard to flex his muscle.
"The industry is changing, our company is changing, so I have a lot to think about," he said in a town hall in October. Articles in The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair depicted Zucker as a man with one foot out the door.
Then, during a staff call on Feb. 4, Zucker said it out loud: "I am going to stay at CNN through the end of this year. I am going to stay and finish my current contract, which ... will keep me here until the end of this year. At that point, I do expect to move on."
What Kilar didn't know then '-- and wouldn't know until a few days ago '-- is that the very same month that Zucker announced his intention to step down, an effort had begun that is almost certain to put Kilar out of his job and open the door for Zucker to keep control of CNN and more.
Zucker and Discovery CEO David Zaslav did not respond to requests for interviews; WarnerMedia declined a request to interview Kilar.
On Feb. 13, Zaslav sent an email to Stankey inviting him to discuss a possible WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, two sources with knowledge of the matter confirmed. Zucker and Zaslav have been friends for decades, golf together often and own houses near each other in the Hamptons.
Nathaniel Brown, a spokesperson for Discovery, said Zucker was not made aware of the deal prior to the announcement, but two sources who know the two men said it was highly improbable that Zaslav wouldn't have brought his close friend in on a plan that so directly affected him, and may have done so as early as February.
"Stuff happens in the Hamptons and on the golf course," said one veteran media executive who knows both men.
On Monday, Zaslav and Stankey announced that WarnerMedia would be spun off from AT&T and merge with Discovery, forming a new company that would be run by Zaslav.
Now, the talk at the highest levels of WarnerMedia and CNN is not so much over whether Zucker will stay or go, but rather what position he might have in Zaslav's new company: global chairman of news and sports? Chief content officer?
Meanwhile, Kilar is negotiating his exit from a company that, until this weekend, he believed he would be running for years. On Friday, just two days before news of the impending merger broke, The Wall Street Journal published a profile about Kilar that made no mention of what was to come. Two people with knowledge of the matter said AT&T gave him the green light to proceed with the profile, even as Stankey and Zaslav were hashing out the terms of a merger that would force his exit.
One high-ranking AT&T employee said, ''This just goes to show you, never f--- with Jeff Zucker.''
Dylan Byers Dylan Byers is a senior media reporter for NBC News based in Los Angeles.
Thursday, May 13 Scoreboard: Fox News Has Top 3 Shows in Total Viewers, Top 5 in A25-54 Demo | TVNewser
Wed, 19 May 2021 00:50
By A.J. Katz on May. 14, 2021 - 5:36 PM
25-54 Demographic (Live+SD x 1,000)
Total Day: FNC: 284 | CNN: 206 | MSNBC: 146Prime: FNC: 467 | CNN: 264 | MSNBC: 255
FNC:CNN:MSNBC:4PMYourWorld:234Tapper:230Wallace:1445PMFive:395Tapper:235Wallace:'--6PMBaier: 282Blitzer:270Melber:1527PMPrimetime:292Burnett:228Reid:1658PMCarlson:512Cooper:241Hayes:1769PMHannity:448Cuomo:268Maddow:36310PMIngraham:441Lemon:282 O'Donnell: 27711PMGutfeld:409Lemon:206Williams:190Total Viewers (Live+SD x 1,000)
Total Day: FNC: 1.658 | CNN: 756 | MSNBC: 1.157Prime: FNC: 2.742 | CNN: 1.073 | MSNBC: 2.039
FNC:CNN:MSNBC:4PMYourWorld:1.347Tapper:894Wallace:1.3465PMFive:2.744Tapper:854Wallace:'---6PMBaier: 1.958Blitzer:867Melber:1.3537PMPrimetime:1.909Burnett:965Reid:1.3548PMCarlson:3.198Cooper:1.109Hayes:1.5759PMHannity:2.762Cuomo:1.129Maddow:2.70110PMIngraham:2.268Lemon:979O'Donnell:1.83911PMGutfeld!:1.771Lemon:697Williams:1.460
Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: "It's hard to overstate how severely the audience for MSNBC has collapsed with Trump gone. For the key demographic of 25-54, they barely can get 150,000 to watch even their prime time shows (outside of Maddow). More people watc
Wed, 19 May 2021 00:51
Glenn Greenwald : It's hard to overstate how severely the audience for MSNBC has collapsed with Trump gone. For the key demographic o'...
Mon May 17 13:05:34 +0000 2021
NBCUniversal Is Acting as Power Broker Between Celebrities and Advertisers - WSJ
Thu, 20 May 2021 13:30
Wayfair Inc. spent two years courting Kelly Clarkson as a spokeswoman before it was able to clinch the deal thanks to an unusual middleman: Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal.
The media company, which produces the syndicated program ''The Kelly Clarkson Show'' and often features the singer and TV personality on its popular morning show ''Today,'' played an important role in connecting the online home-goods retailer with Ms. Clarkson, according to the companies.
NBCU's involvement ultimately led to an extensive Wayfair ad campaign featuring the star, ad buys across various NBCU properties and a new ''Kelly Clarkson Home'' product line sold by Wayfair, the companies said.
The retailer, which struck its deal with Ms. Clarkson in 2019, extended it this year and is in talks with NBCU about making ad commitments for the fall TV season, said Courtney Lawrie, Wayfair's global head of brand and integrated growth marketing.
NBCU aims to play a similar liaison role between other celebrities and brands, a move that comes as ratings for traditional TV keep falling.
Ms. Clarkson will be among the talent at NBCU's annual ad sales presentation on Monday, part of the spring ritual known as the upfront, in which advertisers commit to buying commercials for fall programming. In addition to tapping celebrities to promote shows, as is the industry norm, NBCU plans to showcase a strategy of featuring stars across several channels, with the goal of connecting them with brands for broad ad deals.
In addition to the broadcast flagship NBC, NBCU channels include Bravo, USA, E! and MSNBC. The company introduced a streaming service, Peacock, last year.
Another celebrity NBCU is focusing on is musician Meghan Trainor. Ms. Trainor was tapped to help develop and star in a show on NBC, a project that is still in the works, and appear on other channels as opportunities arise. The company said last week that she would host the coming show ''Top Chef Family Style'' on Peacock.
TV networks historically have been formulaic in their approach to selling ad time and brand appearances tied to specific programming and time slots, said Josh Feldman, chief marketing officer for NBCU advertising sales and partnerships. ''We're looking at talent holistically across the portfolio and the way we can bring things to life,'' he said.
The strategy reflects a movement toward fewer, longer-term TV ad deals as the continuing decline of traditional TV ratings pressures networks to think up new options for advertisers.
Marketers, meanwhile, are looking for new ways to get in front of consumers as they watch less traditional TV.
''Each year, we're looking for new innovative streams to reach customers,'' said Wayfair's Ms. Lawrie. Since the company made its first upfront ad commitment with NBCU in 2018, it has increased its investments with the media company and evolved beyond a ''spots and dots approach,'' she said, referring to one-off ad buys and simple custom arrangements like product placements.
Other major media companies with TV properties, such as Walt Disney Co. , ViacomCBS Inc. and Fox Corp., are also presenting their programming to buyers through virtual upfront presentations this week, and are expected to point to their ability to use data and help advertisers reach specific audiences across their traditional and streaming properties.
While NBCU is still selling ads against its programming in traditional one-year agreements, the company is pushing for deals that are more likely to stretch beyond a year.
''If you had to look at media in general, and you know you're going to have less GRPs on linear TV, it leads you to that idea of you're going to have fewer bigger partnerships overall,'' said Mark Marshall, president of advertising sales and partnerships at NBCU. GRPs, or gross ratings points, are a common measure of TV viewing used for buying and selling ads.
The company is using technology to help facilitate more of those longer tie-ups. NBCU more than a year ago created a tool called the Talent Room that recommends specific celebrities for paid partnerships and ad buys based on advertisers' criteria, such as the audience they are trying to reach and their budgets.
''We're approaching deal-making, especially with talent, in a very different way,'' Mr. Feldman said.
Corrections & Amplifications Kelly Clarkson makes appearances on NBC's ''Today.'' An earlier version of this article incorrectly said NBCUniversal often features Ms. Clarkson on ''The View.'' ''The View'' airs on ABC. Corrected on May 17.
Write to Alexandra Bruell at
Out There
Pentagon UFO videos - Wikipedia
Thu, 20 May 2021 12:38
Cockpit instrumentation display videos from US Navy jets, widely publicized as UFOs
The Pentagon UFO videos are selected visual recordings of cockpit instrumentation displays from United States Navy fighter jets based aboard aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2004, 2014 and 2015. The three grainy, black and white videos, widely characterized as officially documenting UFOs, were the subject of extensive coverage in the media in 2017. The Pentagon later addressed and officially released the videos in 2020 (13 years after the first of the videos were leaked to the public in 2007).[1]
Publicity surrounding the videos has prompted a number of explanations, including drones or unidentified terrestrial aircraft, anomalous or artefactual instrument readings, physical observational phenomena (e.g., parallax), human observational and interpretive error, and, as is typical in the context of such incidents, extraordinary speculations of alien spacecraft.[2]
Background [ edit ] On November 14, 2004, fighter pilot Commander David Fravor of the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group investigated radar indications of a possible target off the coast of southern California.[3][4][5][6] Fravor said the operator had told him that the USS Princeton (CG-59), part of the strike group, had been tracking unusual aircraft for two weeks prior to the incident. The aircraft would appear at 80,000ft before descending rapidly toward the sea, and stopping at 20,000ft and hovering.[3] Fravor reported that he saw an object, white and oval, hovering above an ocean disturbance. He estimated that the object was about forty feet long.[6][3] Fravor and another pilot, Alex Dietrich, said in an interview that a total of four people (two pilots and two weapons systems officer in the backseats of two airplanes) witnessed the object for about 5 minutes.[7] When Fravor spiraled down to get closer to the object, the object ascended, mirroring the trajectory of Fravor's airplane, until the object disappeared.[7] A second wave of fighters, including pilot Lieutenant Commander Chad Underwood, took off from Nimitz to investigate.[8] Unlike Fravor, Underwood's fighter was equipped with an advanced infrared camera (FLIR).[8] Underwood recorded the FLIR video, and coined the description "Tic Tac" to describe the infrared image, but did not himself see any unusual object.[8]
During 2014''2015, fighter pilots associated with the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group were operating off the East Coast when they recorded the GIMBAL and GOFAST videos while reporting instrument detections of unknown aerial objects which the pilots were unable to identify.[9][10]
Release of videos [ edit ] On December 16, 2017, The New York Times reported on the incidents and published three videos, termed ''FLIR,'' ''GIMBAL,'' and ''GOFAST'' purporting to show encounters by jets from Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt with unusually shaped, fast-moving aircraft. The reports became subject to "fevered speculation by UFO investigators."[11] Those stories have been criticized by journalism professor Keith Kloor as "a curious narrative that appears to be driven by thinly-sourced and slanted reporting." According to Kloor, "Cursory attention has been given to the most likely, prosaic explanations. Instead, the coverage has, for the most part, taken a quizzical, mysterious frame that plays off the catchy 'UFO' tag in the headline."[12]
The videos, featuring cockpit display data and infrared imagery along with audio of communications between the pursuing pilots, were initially provided to the press by Luis Elizondo, the former head of Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, the Department of Defense's investigation. Elizondo had resigned from the Pentagon in October 2017 to protest government secrecy and opposition to the investigation, stating in a resignation letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis that the program was not being taken seriously.[13] According to Wired magazine, a copy of one of the videos had been online in a UFO forum since at least 2007.[14] In September 2019, a Pentagon spokeswoman confirmed that the released videos were made by naval aviators and that they are "part of a larger issue of an increased number of training range incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena in recent years."[15] On April 27, 2020, the Pentagon formally released the three videos.[1][16][17][18]
In February 2020, the United States Navy confirmed that, in response to inquiries, intelligence briefings presented by naval intelligence officials have been provided to members of Congress.[19][20][21][22]
Potential explanations [ edit ] As of 2020, the aerial phenomena recorded from the Nimitz and Roosevelt events are characterized by the Department of Defense as "unidentified".[23][24] Widespread media attention to these events has motivated theories and speculations from private individuals and groups about the underlying explanation(s), including those focused upon pseudoscientific topics such as ufology. Regarding the pseudoscientific explanations, writer Matthew Gault stated that these events "reflect the same pattern that's played out dozens of times before. Someone sees something strange in the sky ... and the public jumps to an illogical conclusion."[2]
Because of parallax, perceived differences in motion can be interpreted as being due either to faster speeds or closer distances. In this animation, assuming that all the objects are stationary and that the observer is moving gives an illusion of considerable differences in distance between the three scenes. However, the animation only shows three different overlapping outlines moving at different speeds.
Mundane, non-pseudoscientific explanations include instrument or software malfunction/anomaly/artifact,[25][26] human observational illusion (e.g., parallax) or interpretive error,[9][27][28][29] or common aircraft (e.g., a passenger airliner) or aerial device (e.g., weather balloon), with the science writer Mick West stating that one of the reported objects in these incidents is "most likely...a relatively slow-moving object like a bird or a balloon," and that "the jet filming it is moving fast, so this creates an illusion of speed against the ocean."[23][24] West stated that the GIMBAL video can be explained as footage of a distant plane with the apparent rotation actually being the glare in the IR camera rotating.[2]
Following the congressional intelligence briefings and in order to encourage pilots to flag disturbances that "have been occurring regularly since 2014," the US Navy announced it had updated the way pilots were to formally report unexplained aerial observations.[16] Commenting on these updated guidelines, a spokesman for the deputy Chief of Naval Operations said, "The intent of the message to the fleet is to provide updated guidance on reporting procedures for suspected intrusions into our airspace."[9] Regarding the new guidelines, the spokesman said that one possible explanation for the increase in reported intrusions could be the rise in availability of unmanned aerial systems such as quadrocopters.[16]
The former chairman and current ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Marco Rubio, said that he fears the UFOs in the videos may be Chinese or Russian technology.[30]
Retired Admiral Gary Roughead, who commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets before serving as Chief of Naval Operations from 2007 to 2011, said in 2020 that in his time, "most of the assessments were inconclusive" as to what these videos showed. In the context of a lecture on China's 21st century military strategy, Roughead commented that development of unmanned autonomous aircraft that had the capability to be used as submersible military assets was a priority of the US, as well as other nations such as China and Russia.[31]
In popular culture [ edit ] The videos were featured in Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation, a 2019 History Channel series executive produced by Tom DeLonge.[11]On October 19, 2019, an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience featured the videos and interviewed Fravor.[8]2019 videos [ edit ] In April 2021, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough confirmed that publicly-available footage of an unidentified triangular object in the sky had been taken by Navy personnel aboard USS Russell in 2019.[32][33] Skeptic Mick West suggested the image was the result of an optical effect called a bokeh which can make light sources appear triangular or pyramidal.[34] The Pentagon also confirmed photos of objects described as "sphere", "acorn" and "metallic blimp".[35]
The following month, Gough further confirmed a second video had been recorded by Navy personnel and is under review by the UAP Task Force. The video, recorded on July 15, 2019 aboard the USS Omaha, purportedly shows a spherical object flying over the ocean as seen through an infrared camera at night, moving rapidly across the screen before stopping and easing down into the water.[36][37][38][39]
See also [ edit ] Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification ProgramUnidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task ForceReferences [ edit ] ^ a b "Statement by the Department of Defense on the Release of Historical Navy Videos". U.S. Department of Defense . Retrieved 2020-04-28 . ^ a b c Gault, Matthew (2020-05-06). "The Skeptic's Guide to the Pentagon's UFO Videos". Vice. Vice Media LLC. ^ a b c Cooper, Helene; Kean, Leslie; Blumenthal, Ralph (2017-12-16). "2 Navy Airmen and an Object That 'Accelerated Like Nothing I've Ever Seen ' ". The New York Times Co . Retrieved 2020-05-14 . ^ Bender, Bryan (December 16, 2017). "The Pentagon's Secret Search for UFOs". Politico . Retrieved December 17, 2017 . ^ Mellon, Christopher (March 9, 2018). "The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn't the Pentagon care?". The Washington Post . Retrieved March 12, 2018 . ^ a b Finucane, Martin (January 16, 2018). "This former Navy pilot, who once chased a UFO, says we should take them seriously". Boston Globe . Retrieved February 7, 2018 . ^ a b "UFOs regularly spotted in restricted U.S. airspace, report on the phenomena due next month". CBS 60 minutes . Retrieved May 18, 2021 . ^ a b c d Phelan, Matthew (19 December 2019). "Navy Pilot Who Filmed the 'Tic Tac' UFO Speaks: 'It Wasn't Behaving by the Normal Laws of Physics ' ". New York Magazine . Retrieved 21 December 2019 . ^ a b c Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (2019-05-26). " ' Wow, What Is That?' Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-02-24 . ^ McMillan, Tim (2020-01-17). "The Tale of the Tape: The Long, Bizarre Saga of the Navy's UFO Video". Popular Mechanics . Retrieved 2020-02-24 . ^ a b Eghigian, Greg. "The Year of UFOs". Air & Space Magazine, February 2020 . Retrieved 18 May 2020 . ^ Kloor, Keith. "Will The New York Times Ever Stop Reporting on UFOs?". Wired . Retrieved 18 May 2020 . ^ Hart, Benjamin (December 16, 2017). "Reports: The Pentagon Spent Millions on UFO Research". New York Magazine . Retrieved December 17, 2017 . ^ Scoles, Sarah. "What Is Up With Those Pentagon UFO Videos?". Wired . Retrieved 18 February 2021 . ^ Taylor, Derrick Bryson (2019-09-26). "How Blink-182's Tom DeLonge Became a U.F.O. Researcher". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-03-27 . ^ a b c Epstein, Kayla. "Those UFO videos are real, the Navy says, but please stop saying 'UFO ' ". Washington Post . Retrieved 2020-02-25 . ^ "Navy Confirms Existence of 'Unidentified' Flying Objects Seen in Leaked Footage". Time . Retrieved 2020-02-25 . ^ "Yep, those are UFOs, Navy says about 3 videos of strange sightings". NBC News . Retrieved 2020-02-25 . ^ Bender, Bryan. "U.S. Navy drafting new guidelines for reporting UFOs". POLITICO . Retrieved 2020-03-26 . ^ Bender, Bryan (2019-06-19). "Senators get classified briefing on UFO sightings". POLITICO . Retrieved 2020-02-24 . ^ "Congress receive classified briefing on 'UFO encounters with US navy ' ". The Independent. 2019-06-20 . Retrieved 2020-02-24 . ^ McMillan, Tim (2020-02-14). "Inside the Pentagon's Secret UFO Program". Popular Mechanics . Retrieved 2020-02-25 . ^ a b Kooser, Amanda (2020-04-27). "The Pentagon releases three classified 'UFO' videos filmed by US Navy". cnet. CBS Interactive Inc . Retrieved 2020-05-15 . ^ a b Kooser, Amanda (2018-03-14). "UFO caught on video? Skeptics weigh in on weird footage". cnet. CBS Interactive Inc . Retrieved 2020-05-15 . ^ April 2020, Mindy Weisberger 28. " ' UFO' videos declassified by US Navy". . Retrieved 2020-05-04 . ^ Kreidler, Marc (2018-05-01). "Navy Pilot's 2004 UFO: A Comedy of Errors | Skeptical Inquirer". Archived from the original on 2020-07-07 . Retrieved 2020-02-15 . ^ Plait, Phil (2020-05-01). "So, those Navy videos showing UFOs? I'm not saying it's not aliens, but it's not aliens". SYFY Wirs. SYFY . Retrieved 2020-05-15 . ^ Lincoln, Don (June 21, 2019). "Why pilots are seeing UFOs". CNN . Retrieved 24 March 2020 . ^ Overbye, Dennis (December 29, 2017). "U.F.O.s: Is This All There Is?". The New York Times . Retrieved December 31, 2017 . ^ "Marco Rubio Hopes UFOs Are Aliens, Not Chinese Planes". 20 July 2020. ^ Cox, Billy (2020-01-15). "Former Navy Admiral Says UFO Analyses 'Inconclusive ' ". Sarasota Herald-Tribune, on . Retrieved 2020-08-20 . ^ CNN, Chandelis Duster. "Defense Department confirms leaked video of unidentified aerial phenomena is real". CNN. ^ "Pentagon confirms leaked video of UFO 'buzzing' Navy warships is genuine". The Independent. April 13, 2021. ^ "Pentagon Confirms That Leaked Video Is Part of UFO Investigation". Futurism. ^ "Pentagon confirms leaked photos and video of UFOs are legitimate". the Guardian. April 16, 2021. ^ "Leaked video appears to show UFO plunging under water off California". Global News. ^ "Leaked Navy video appears to show UFO off California". NBC News. ^ Hanks, Micah (May 14, 2021). "Pentagon Confirms Leaked Video Showing "Transmedium" UFO is Authentic". The Debrief. ^ "Newly leaked video shows a UFO disappear into the water - CNN Video" '' via External links [ edit ] US Naval Air Systems Command FOIA Reading Room (containing FLIR.mp4, GOFAST.wmv, and Gimbal.wmv videos)
Andrew Cuomo Was Paid $5.1 Million for Covid-19 Memoir, Tax Filings Show - WSJ
Thu, 20 May 2021 13:23
New York governor donated $500,000 of proceeds from book to charity, according to tax filings
Updated May 17, 2021 6:08 pm ETNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expects to be paid $5.1 million for a book published last year about his role responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to tax and financial disclosure documents filed on Monday.
The Democratic governor was paid $3.12 million in 2020 for ''American Crisis,'' which was published in October by Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Mr. Cuomo is owed an additional $2 million in coming years, state officials said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expects to be paid $5.1 million for a book published last year about his role responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to tax and financial disclosure documents filed on Monday.
The Democratic governor was paid $3.12 million in 2020 for ''American Crisis,'' which was published in October by Crown, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Mr. Cuomo is owed an additional $2 million in coming years, state officials said.
The governor's net income from the book in 2020 was roughly $1.5 million, according to tax returns that his aides made available for journalists to review. He donated $500,000 from the book's proceeds to the United Way of New York State to assist with Covid relief and vaccination efforts, according to a letter from his accountant that was provided by the state.
Senior aides to the governor reviewed a draft of the book manuscript during weekend sessions at the Executive Mansion this summer and a state employee printed a copy of a manuscript using an office printer, people familiar with the matter said. Democrats who control the state Assembly are looking into the production of the book as part of an impeachment investigation of the governor's conduct, legislators have said. The state attorney general's office is also investigating the matter, a spokeswoman previously confirmed.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, previously said that Mr. Cuomo's aides volunteered to work on the project and ''to the extent an aide printed out a document, it appears incidental.'' Mr. Azzopardi has said the inquiry by Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, was ''just the furthering of a political pile-on.''
Republican party leaders and some Democratic lawmakers have criticized the governor for profiting from the pandemic, of which New York state was an early epicenter. More than 40,000 New York state residents have died from Covid-19 since it was first detected in the state in March 2020, state officials said.
Mr. Cuomo has said his memoir was meant to offer lessons on how to respond to the ongoing pandemic. Neither he nor Penguin Random House have previously disclosed the financial terms of his publishing contract. Representatives of Penguin Random House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The governor's total income for 2020 was $3.7 million, including the book proceeds; his $217,736 state salary; $48,761 of dividends and $428,429 of capital gains, according to his tax return.
Mr. Cuomo also directed the remaining proceeds from the book into a trust fund to be split evenly for his three adult daughters. Mr. Azzopardi said the governor's daughters ''worked with the governor during this pandemic and did what he calls 'tireless and effective work for all New Yorkers' and gave him 'the strength and love to make it through the crisis every day.'''
Republican State Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy said the book deal was disgusting.
''Every cent of that money and more should be donated to the families of his victims. His grotesque actions throughout this pandemic have made him a national disgrace,'' Mr. Langworthy said in a statement.
In response to Republican criticism, Mr. Azzopardi said the governor ''worked night and day to try to save lives and lead New York out of this crisis.''
Write to Jimmy Vielkind at
HBO Max to launch $10-a-month tier with ads first week of June - CNET
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:06
HBO Max streams everything on HBO's regular channel plus extra shows, movies and originals.
WarnerMedia HBO Max 's cheaper, ad-supported tier will cost $10 a month and launch in the first week of June, WarnerMedia said Wednesday. It'll come the week after -- possibly just days after -- HBO Max premieres its Friends reunion special on May 27, one of the service's most highly anticipated titles that's been delayed by a year because of the pandemic.
But anyone subscribed to the cheaper tier is expected to be locked out from watching any of the big-screen Warner Bros. movies that HBO Max starts streaming the same day they hit theaters. That means anyone wanting to stream In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Dune or The Matrix 4 will have to level up to HBO Max's standard, $15-a-month, ad-free tier.
The new tier is called simply HBO Max With Ads, and the company said it's committed to having the least amount of commercials of all ad-based streaming services.
It'll include unconventional ad formats, like ads that show up only when you pause whatever you're watching. HBO Max also plans for ads to show up in what it's calling a brand block, when a single brand is the only one running ads on a block of content, as well as advertising that shows up as you browse or search for something to watch, called branded discovery.
These nontraditional ad formats are important for HBO Max. The HBO brand and its programming has always leaned into the liberation from standard ad-breaks -- and the creative freedom that allows. Not all programming on HBO Max originates with HBO; the service has licensed shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory to watch there too. But HBO Max has touted itself as having the kind of premium, sometimes-edgy programming that people have long associated with HBO itself.
Programs created without advertising in the equation don't have ad-breaks built into their structure, and they also have more liberty to dive into edgier subjects and situations. That makes unconventional formats more crucial for Max than other ad-supported streamers, to avoid interrupting viewers in annoying ways and to keep brands from worrying that their marketing will be put next to something that isn't "brand safe."
HBO Max launched a year ago as another splashy new service in the so-called streaming wars , a year-and-a-half period when media and technology giants rolled out their own, big-budget services to take on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and the like. Just like Disney Plus , Apple TV Plus and NBCUniversal's Peacock , HBO Max hopes its particular mix of shows, movies and originals will hook you on its vision for TV's future. But these corporate rivalries also affect how many services you must use -- and pay for -- to watch your favorite shows and movies online.
After a bumpy launch a year ago, HBO Max appears to be hitting a stride. This year, all year, it's streaming all Warner Bros.' new movies at no extra charge the same day each film hits US cinemas. Those big-name flicks, plus buzzy originals like the so-called Snyder Cut of Justice League and a Friends reunion special , have attracted more interest in Max. But a new megadeal that owner AT&T selling off its media operations and merging them with Discovery means the future shape of HBO Max may be different than it is now.
Entertain your brain with the coolest news from streaming to superheroes, memes to video games.
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Caitlyn Jenner Accused Of 'Blatant Transphobia' For Posting Meme Mocking Rachel Levine | The Daily Wire
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:03
California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner was met with furious backlash from a fellow famous transgender individual after reposting a meme from Donald Trump Jr. mocking the looks of Assistant Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.
''It seems to hold true no matter what!!!! Conservative girls are just better looking'... maybe that's why the libs are always outraged for no reason,'' Trump Jr. wrote along with a meme contrasting Levine's appearance next to Jenner in a dress on a red carpet.
Jenner later deleted the post, but gossip blogger Perez Hilton took a screenshot and reposted it. In response, ''Transparent'' star Alexandra Billings, who is also transgender, blasted Jenner on Instagram and accused the former Olympian of ''blatant transphobia.''
''Reposting @donaldjtrumpjr pic says volumes about both your self hatred and your blatant transphobia,'' Billings wrote. ''I know this rage. I lived with it for years and it is still a cacophony of voices that haunt me. But I am not running for a public office and I am not a self proclaimed 'role model.' You're in a spiral of spiritual chaos and your search for admiration and public approval is just as transparent as your egocentric, pseudo-Republican, rich, white, privileged lifestyle you flaunt, pretending to be some sort of everyday citizen caring about everyday events.''
''With your private airplane hanger full of lies and your million dollar shoes, you have as much in common with us, as we do with you. It isn't your Transness people are bothered by, it's your behavior as a human, Caitlyn. Your profound need to be liked is sadly backfiring,'' Billings continued. ''You are fearful of both yourself and any kind of newness and you navigate with a well of anger in your heart that is deeply disturbing. And apparent to all of us.''
''You have no regard for human kind and no space for the knowledge of it,'' Billings went on. ''You are fearful of both yourself and any kind of newness and you navigate with a well of anger in your heart that is deeply disturbing. And apparent to all of us. But again, I see it because I know it.''
''I cannot tell you those terrible voices will ever go away, they haven't for me, but every day that I am able to navigate that ache of self harm born of my own denial of my divine light, I am just a little bit freer,'' Billings said. ''Free yourself, Caitlyn. By doing that, you may set the greatest example of your life. And that might turn out to be the most beautiful way you can serve both our state and our community.''
Related: 'Very Complex': Dr. Rachel Levine Dodges Sen. Paul's Question About Sex Changes For Children
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Thu, 20 May 2021 10:45
This story was spotted and passed along to me by quite a few people, so thank you to all of you who did so. Normally a story such as this would not catch the eye of so many people, nor, in turn would they pass it along to me. So what's going on? What's the context here?
Well, as one might guess, it's the planscamdemic, and more specifically, reports beginning to come out about the strange effects of the quackcines. Specifically, in addition to all the reports of various types of adverse reactions to these brews, from blood clots to rashes, swelling, paralysis (Eric Clapton - yes, you read that correctly - Eric Clapton had experience with that reaction) and reactions that look for all intents and purposes like a kind of palsy, with the shaking and twitching associated with Parkinson's disease.
However, the adverse reaction report to emerge in recent days is perhaps the weirdest and strangest, and at first I declined to comment about it because - well - it's really strange: some people have reported that magnets can cling to the area where they received the jab. Yes, you read that correctly: magnets cling to the area where they were injected.
I must be honest, I was at first very suspicious of the story, and part of me still is.
Until I started receiving the following story from some readers here:
Genetically engineered 'Magneto' protein remotely controls brain and behaviour
In this article we read this:
Researchers in the United States have developed a new method for controlling the brain circuits associated with complex animal behaviours, using genetic engineering to create a magnetised protein that activates specific groups of nerve cells from a distance.
Several earlier studies have shown that nerve cell proteins which are activated by heat and mechanical pressure can be genetically engineered so that they become sensitive to radio waves and magnetic fields, by attaching them to an iron-storing protein called ferritin, or to inorganic paramagnetic particles. These methods represent an important advance '' they have, for example, already been used to regulate blood glucose levels in mice '' but involve multiple components which have to be introduced separately.
The new technique builds on this earlier work, and is based on a protein called TRPV4, which is sensitive to both temperature and stretching forces. These stimuli open its central pore, allowing electrical current to flow through the cell membrane; this evokes nervous impulses that travel into the spinal cord and then up to the brain.
G¼ler and his colleagues reasoned that magnetic torque (or rotating) forces might activate TRPV4 by tugging open its central pore, and so they used genetic engineering to fuse the protein to the paramagnetic region of ferritin, together with short DNA sequences that signal cells to transport proteins to the nerve cell membrane and insert them into it.
Next, the researchers inserted the Magneto DNA sequence into the genome of a virus, together with the gene encoding green fluorescent protein, and regulatory DNA sequences that cause the construct to be expressed only in specified types of neurons. They then injected the virus into the brains of mice, targeting the entorhinal cortex, and dissected the animals' brains to identify the cells that emitted green fluorescence. Using microelectrodes, they then showed that applying a magnetic field to the brain slices activated Magneto so that the cells produce nervous impulses.
'Magnetogenetics' is therefore an important addition to neuroscientists' tool box, which will undoubtedly be developed further, and provide researchers with new ways of studying brain development and function. (Boldface emphasis added)
"Magnetogenetics"... let that term sink in for a moment.
So the question is, are the "quackcines" unintentionally, or worse deliberately, incorporating such technology? I don't know, but it's worth noting that among the adverse reactions and warnings from certain segments of the medical community are warnings about creating prion diseases and other neurophysiological effects, and the occasional report about behavioural changes in some recipients.
And just think, folks, we're only just getting started...
See you on the flip side...
Could Magnetic Hydrogel Explain the COVID Vax Magnet Phenomenon?
Thu, 20 May 2021 10:43
Could Magnetic Hydrogel Explain the COVID Vax Magnet Phenomenon? Thu 9:24 am +00:00, 20 May 2021 posted by Weaver
Could advances in magnetic hydrogel explain the COVID vax magnet phenomenon, especially since studies admit it could be magnetically activated and remotely controlled via the Smart Grid?
by Makia Freeman The Freedom Articles
Could advances in magnetic hydrogel be the reason for the bizarre COVID vax magnet phenomenon?
This sensation is becoming very well documented, with numerous COVID vaxxed people worldwide demonstrating on video that a magnet will stick on their arm at the injection site, but nowhere else on their body. has released another compilation, this time a 47-minute version with people of all ages and cultures showing what happens.
It represents overwhelming evidence that this is a real occurrence, despite what desperate debunkers and vaccine apologists claim, although vaccine apologists isn't a good term for them, since this chemical cocktail injection is a non-vaccine.
In some videos, people take the very same magnet off their arm and stick it right back on their fridge where it stays. Metallic nanoparticles is a good guess to explain what could be happening.
This article will look specifically at advances in magnetic hydrogel and whether that could explain the phenomenon (for those unfamiliar with this, check out my earlier article on hydrogel).
Magnetic Hydrogel FormationAs a starting point, let's define the word hydrogel: '' a network of crosslinked polymer chains that are hydrophilic, sometimes found as a colloidal gel in which water is the dispersion medium.
A three-dimensional solid results from the hydrophilic polymer chains being held together by cross-links. ''
This military article I have quoted before states that the hydrogel being developed (by Profusa with the help of DARPA) would be composed of 2 parts '' ''polymer chains'' and ''an electronic component.'' Electronics almost always or always contain metal.
A March 2020 study entitled Recent Advances on Magnetic Sensitive Hydrogels in Tissue Engineering goes into great depth analyzing how magnetic hydrogels (that are made using iron oxide-based particles and different types of hydrogel matrices) are being used in biomedical applications for tissue engineering (r egenerative medicine that repairs damaged body tissue ).
They are apparently a suitable substance due to their biocompatibility, controlled architectures and ''smart response to magnetic field remotely'' which is a giveaway that they biosensors which can be remotely controlled via the Smart Grid.
The technology in the public arena is already quite advanced, which means the real tech hidden away in compartmentalized military programs is far, far advanced. The report states:
''Hydrogels have been conducted into the biomedical application to provide a tunable three-dimensional scaffold for cell adhesion, migration, and/or differentiation, and they could also be designed as the platform for the controlled release of cytokines and drugs in tissue engineering and drug delivery '...
Recently, magnetically responsive hydrogel, as one kind of smart hydrogels, has been introduced into biomedical applications in improving the biological activities of cells, tissues, or organs. This is mainly attributed to its magnetic responsiveness to external magnetic field '...
Magnetic hydrogels are made of composite materials that possess biocompatibility, biodegradation, and magnetic responsiveness.''
Image credit: Frontiers, from the study ''Recent Advances on Magnetic Sensitive Hydrogels in Tissue Engineering''
Like any technology, it could be used for good or evil, and this study is exclusively focused on how it could be used for good, i.e. for tissue regeneration. However nothing is said about how this advances the transhumanism agenda.
The study ends with a note of caution:
''In addition, more attention should be taken into consideration in evaluating the magnetic hydrogels' pharmacokinetics/toxicokinetics, metabolism, biodegradation in vivo, and so on, which are of great significance in the applications of tissue engineering.''
Magnetic Hydrogel Smart TransformersAn article published December last year on entitled Magnetically controlled, hydrogel-based smart transformers describes another study being done on magnetic hydrogel.
In this study, the Chinese research team attempted to show proof of concept for a remote controlled transformer (the children's toy) based on a shape memory hydrogel system.
They embedded magnetite (Fe3O4, a type of iron oxide) and magnetic nanoparticles into a double network polymer structure containing gelatin. They used magnetism and light to remotely change the shape of the hydrogel. The report states:
''The reversible coil-triple-helix transformation of the gelatin constituent imbued the hydrogel with shape memory and self-healing properties, while the magnetite nanoparticles gave photothermal heating and magnetic manipulation functions to deform the hydrogel for navigation in a magnetic field.
The team could then restore the deformed shape via shape recovery using light irradiation. Zhang et al. remotely controlled the shape-memory processes through magnetically driven actuation and light-assisted shape memory.''
The following quote shows how they control the shape and movement of the hydrogel. What implications are there for those who have the hydrogel inside of them '' and how they can literally be remotely controlled '' given this is all about controlling robots?
''Magnetic nanoparticles are effective additives to introduce remotely controlled non-contact actuation. When hydrogels are illuminated with near-infrared (NIR) light, these magnetic nanoparticles will continuously convert light into heat, causing the hydrogel to be heated.
This will cause reversible deformation of the hydrogel for applications as freely moving soft robots '... The team also used the interaction between permanent magnets and the constituent magnetite nanoparticles of the HG-Fe3O4 hydrogel to guide the construct for directional navigation.
Using the hydrogel, they showed how magnet-induced directional navigation could guide a soft transformer through a maze.
Such experimental concepts have potential for a range of applications as soft carriers to transport cargo for drug delivery and release in biomedicine.''
Jim Stone's Theory: Nanobots Are Stealing Iron from the BloodJim Stone was to my knowledge the first to break this story. His theory is worth considering.
He is saying that whatever is being injected is either strongly metallic or generating an intense magnetic field '' enough to attract an average fridge magnet when the vaccine needle tip is very small.
How could that tiny amount of fluid in the COVID non-vaccine be magnetic enough to attract a magnet through human skin?
He thinks the injection contains nanobots which harvest or steal hemoglobin (a type of iron oxide) from the blood in order to construct something.
This is quite possible, given that the first study quoted above discussed that magnetic hydrogel was composed of iron oxide-based particles. Jim writes on his site:
''I think whatever was in the vax that is magnetic was some sort of self replicating nano tech, (a chip was not injected) it was instead a nanotech with a bunch of nanobots that are building structures in the arm at the injection site that are magnetic. The needles being used for the vax are too small for an ID chip and an ID chip, even at full size, probably would not be enough to attract a magnet.
If they are going to have nanobots build a magnetic structure in the body, those nanobots have to work with whatever the body has available to do it with. The only readily available source of magnetic metal in the body is hemoglobin in the blood, where a nano tech device could get iron to build something with. I don't think a shot alone that was only 1CC or less could have made people THAT magnetic. They are VERY magnetic. which means whatever is under their skin making that happen had to come from their own bodies if a magnet will stick to it right through their skin.
At first I figured it might just be the shot and that you'd need a neodymium magnet to see the effect. But ordinary ceramic magnets and flexible refrigerator magnets also work, and they work with force, often over an area 4 inches square. It is not a fringe effect. Something serious is going on with this, that involves the body being instructed to build something that is either metallic or emits a magnetic field.
WHAT IF all the blood clots are happening because the shot released a bunch of nanobots, which attacked the blood to steal it's hemoglobin so they could build something at the injection site? I BET that's not a ''what if''.''
Final ThoughtsIn a recent interview with Alex Newman, Dr. Carrie Madej discusses how the nanotechnology embedded in these COVID non-vaccines has the potential to be an on demand drug delivery system.
''On demand'' means something has to trigger it to work, so the question is: what will trigger it? pH? A certain frequency? 5G? EMF?
Whatever this metallic or magnetic substance is under the skin, it is certainly some kind of biosensor that is designed to receive and transmit signals.
We are living in truly historical times, and may be witnessing the conversion en masse of millions or perhaps even billions of people into Human 2.0 '' transhumans '' with synthetic technology embedded inside of them.
The way things are going, it will be the first such embedded technology, and not the last.
Read the full article at The Freedom Articles.
Austin feeling the pinch as semiconductor chip shortage drags on |
Thu, 20 May 2021 10:27
Austin is home to some major chip manufacturers, but none around the world can catch up with the demand for semiconductor chips.
AUSTIN, Texas '-- Experts call the semiconductor chip shortage the result of a perfect storm.
Some major chip manufacturers call Austin home, including Samsung, NXP and Applied Materials. A combination of the coronavirus pandemic, the Texas winter storms, a drought in Taiwan, a factory fire in Japan and tariffs from China have caused a shortage of chips most did not see coming.
"You couldn't you couldn't think of these ingredients in the last two or three years and probably timed it sequentially to hit where we are today as far as what the what the market shortage is," Mark Pollard, the chief operating officer of Astute Electronics, said.
Pollard helps connect companies who have excess semiconductor chips with those who need them. Right now, the supplies have dried up and everyone needs chips.
"Now you've got governments getting involved saying we're going to invest in foundries because it's a matter of national security," Pollard said. "We never want to be without our own raw material to make the components that go into warfighting systems, defense satellites and everything down to cellphones and 5G, which is also sucking up demand as well as that comes online."
According to Pollard, semiconductor chips are the fourth-most traded good across the world every day, behind only crude oil, refined oil and vehicles. Coincidentally, the shortage has also led to vehicle prices jumping.
Semiconductor chips are in nearly all modern technology from phones and laptops to the F-35 used by the U.S. military.
"We found after COVID-19 that we were very dependent and vulnerable to supply chains coming out of China when it came to medical supplies, to rare earth minerals, but most importantly, advanced semiconductor chips," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin), said.
McCaul and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) filed legislation called the CHIPS for America Act.
"Just like we became energy independent, we have to be chips independent, semiconductor independent," McCaul said. "It will be a $50 billion Department of Commerce grant program, which is highly significant, along with an investment tax credit, which will then incentivize these manufacturers to break the supply chains out of vulnerable areas in the world and bring them back to the United States."
McCaul added this money would be separate from the $50 billion already set aside by President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan.
"We have some resources in North America, not nearly enough," Pollard said. "A disproportionate amount of silicon comes from Taiwan and China. That's well documented. The EU is even more vulnerable. They have no foundries, so they have zero reliance on themselves for that."
Pollard said the $50 billion from President Biden's plan is a good start, but the demand for silicon will be constant and growing..
As the demand grows, so does the academic interest in the industry.
"The semiconductor industry is very large and diverse, so if people want to work in it, there's many jobs," Dr. Alberto Quinonez, department chair of engineering technology at Austin Community College, said.
Quinonez's department works with manufacturing companies for apprenticeship partnerships, connecting students with internships and jobs in the semiconductor and manufacturing industry.
"We started that in 2019. Currently we have about 12," Quinonez said.
Quinonez agrees with Pollard that the industry is in a unique bind.
"There's just been a perfect storm, if you will," Quinonez said. "The pandemic caused people to work from home, right, and to do online work and classes, which means that more people need things like tablets and webcams and laptops and a lot of technology, including the the technology to provide the Wi-Fi."
Pollard can't predict exactly when the shortage will end, but knows it won't be anytime soon.
"The impacts are going to be felt for at least two years," Pollard said. "Oftentimes the semiconductor supply chain is six to 12 months before you actually see that product in the consumer market and getting in the hands of the person that's actually using that device."
The coronavirus variant first detected in India is now in North Texas
Thu, 20 May 2021 09:05
By Anna Kuchment
5:44 PM on May 19, 2021 CDT
Two cases of a coronavirus variant that has spread catastrophically in India have been detected in the Dallas area for the first time, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.
The virus, which the World Health Organization dubbed a variant of concern last week, appears to be more contagious than older coronavirus variants. It also carries mutations that help it evade human antibodies, although early testing shows that vaccines remain effective against it.
The samples were picked up by UT Southwestern researchers, who began to genetically analyze samples from coronavirus patients earlier this year.
The two Dallas-area cases have no recent travel history, said a Dallas County spokesperson. No further information was available about the patients at press time.
''The presence of these variants emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated to help protect yourself, because these variants are increasingly showing that they're able to spread more easily,'' said Dr. James Cutrell, an infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern.
The variant, dubbed B.1.617.2, was first identified in India in December. Since then, it has become a dominant source of infection in the country, although it's unclear to what extent the virus is driving the pandemic compared to other factors such as large gatherings and low vaccination rates.
The B.1.617.2 variant has also spread rapidly in the United Kingdom, threatening to derail that country's planned June 21 reopening. British officials said they would have more data on the variant's transmissibility in the coming days.
Its spread in the U.K. has U.S. experts on alert. They say B.1.617.2 may follow a similar trajectory to B.1.1.7, the variant first detected in the U.K. last year. The B.1.1.7 variant is now the dominant source of coronavirus infections in the U.S. and the U.K.
''If you look at the B.1.1.7 variant, basically what transpired in the U.S. was more or less identical to what transpired in the U.K.,'' said Dr. James Musser of Houston Methodist Hospital, whose team has sequenced and analyzed thousands of coronavirus samples.
His team has detected seven cases of variants first identified in India, including B.1.617.2 and the closely related sub-lineage B.1.617.1 in his Houston hospital system since March. He said it's too early to know whether the family of variants would become more dominant.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, B.1.617.2 accounts for around 1% of all coronavirus cases in the U.S.
The arrival of the B.1.617 family of variants highlights the importance of genetic sequencing, which the CDC has been working to scale up in the U.S., experts said.
Because variants have different rates of transmission, identifying them early is important for accurate disease modeling and projections, which in turn helps health care officials better prepare for possible surges.
''One of the things that we'll be watching very closely over the next week, the next month, is: Does this variant remain in the minority, or does it start to overtake some of the other variants and become more dominant?'' said Cutrell. ''If we see that, then that's the way that we pick up on clues that there's something different about this virus in terms of how easily it's spread.''
VIDEO - Jimmy Kimmel Rips Network TV During Disney Upfront: 'We're All Screwed' '' The Hollywood Reporter
Thu, 20 May 2021 12:13
Jimmy Kimmel roasted the post-pandemic broadcast television landscape at Disney's annual upfront presentation Tuesday.
The late night host delivered a searing stand-up routine during the company's streaming event to advertisers in which he mocked the traditional broadcast networks, including ABC, as well as ripped Disney+ and Amazon.
Here are some of the best jokes from Kimmel's monologue:
'' We're here to tell you what our plan to avoid extinction is. '... More people contracted blood clots from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine than are currently watching network TV.''
''Things are so desperate, we've had to resort to doing the right thing: i nclusion. We want ABC, Disney, FX, Hulu, Freeform, ESPN and Nat Geo to be a safe space where anyone, no matter what their racial or ethnic background, their gender or sexual orientation, '... can bring their stories to die.''
''And what do you do when you want to bring more people of color under the tent? You sign a long-term deal with the NHL '-- ' White People on Ice!' After 17 years, the NHL is back on ABC and ESPN. At long last, America's fourth-favorite sport returns to its fifth-favorite network.''
''[You were told] ABC is number one, which is a bunch of number two. When sports programming is excluded from the ratings, ABC is at or near the top of the heap. And if you exclude all the murders, John Wayne Gacy was a world-class party clown.''
''Here at ABC we have two kinds of shows: canceled, and 'I didn't know that was still on.' The good news is we have some very funny new shows. The bad news is they're all dramas.''
'' The Wonder Years is back. Our programming strategy is like an old person with a computer that's not working: Shut it down and hope it reboots. This version of The Wonder Years follows a middle-class Black family in the late 1960s. And if you don't buy ads on it, we're going to tell everyone you're racist.''
''Speaking of racist, CBS '... is once again calling themselves the 'most watched network.' Being the 'most watched network' is like being the best-selling fax machine.''
''NBC is planning to move forward with the Olympics this summer, even if they have to kill every last person in Japan to do it. Why doesn't NBC just move the Olympics to Chicago like they do every other show?''
''NBC has a new drama called La Brea, which is an epic adventure that begins when a massive sinkhole opens in the middle of Los Angeles '' killing all of NBC's comedy pilots.''
''Instead they have two full nights of [Law & Order producer] Dick Wolf. At ABC, we don't have a Dick Wolf. We don't have dick. When you've got a name like 'Dick Wolf,' it pretty much guarantees you'll be in charge of stuff. It's like being named Cock Tigernuts. You're just going to win.''
''Fox might have come up the single worst idea of the year. It's called The Big Leap. This is a dramedy about a reality TV dance show following a group of diverse underdogs putting on a modern, hip version of Swan Lake. That show won't make it to the end of this sentence. Here's a tip: If you have to describe something as 'hip,' it isn't.''
''[Networks] need to stop trying to be cool. We're like a grandpa in skinny jeans. We're not cool. Isn't there something to be said for dying with dignity? Somehow, with everyone stuck in their house and nothing to do but watch TV for the past 14 months, we still managed to lose ratings!''
''Disney+ has been a huge success for this company. It's more than just a streaming service, it's a childcare provider. It's a nanny that costs $8 a month. And you don't have to worry about your husband fucking Disney+. At Disney+, we are making something truly special, something that has not been made here in a very long time: money. L et's call ABC what it really is: Disney Minus.''
''Amazon Prime, these motherfuckers at Amazon, they're spending $465 million on one season of Lord of the Rings. $465 million for a season! Usually to get that much money from Jeff Bezos you have to divorce him.''
'' You know how much we spent on The Bachelor this year? Eighty bucks for the whole season. We bought a case of wine and a Costco-sized box of rubbers, and that was it.''
''We're all screwed. My kids don't even know what commercials are. I'm sorry to tell you this, but when we go on vacation and put on Cartoon Network or something, they're like, 'Why is this woman doing laundry in the middle of our show?' We're a dying breed, but we're dying together.''
''Until [next year]: Give us your money, we're Disney, we're going to get it one way or another. Or how about this: Give us your money or we'll kill Baby Yoda.''
The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host has delivered a media roast during ABC's upfront for years, and it's typically considered a highlight of the New York-based conference. This year, network presentations have been conducted online for the second year in a row because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
VIDEO - (192) Mouse plague across New South Wales now reaching 'horrific proportions' - YouTube
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:20
VIDEO - Tulsa Health Department discovers error in over 1,000 Pfizer doses
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:19
TULSA COUNTY, Okla. '-- Tulsa Health Department officials announced Tuesday a cold storage error was discovered in 1,150 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The doses were "inadvertently administered" at vaccination clinics at James O. Goodwin Health Center, Central Regional Health Center, Sand Springs Health Center, and North Regional Health and Wellness Center from May 3, 2021 through May `17, 2021.
''Clinic staff performing routine vaccine inventory identified a portion of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that had been stored in the freezer for longer than the recommended time frame," Tulsa Health Department Chief Operating Officer Reggie Ivey said.
Ivey said the Pfizer vaccine can remain in freezer storage at temperatures from -13 degrees to 5 degrees for up to two weeks. He said the affected doses were left in ultra cold storage from 13 to 28 days.
Tulsa Health officials told media in a virtual press conference, Tuesday, frozen and refrigerated doses are monitored daily with a "data-logging thermometer." They said an outside security company also oversees the doses to ensure they remain in the accepted temperature range.
After consultation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, THD officials are asking the 1,150 affected people to schedule appointments for a third, repeat dose for complete protection against the virus.
''The individuals will receive a total of three doses to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID," THD Clinical Services Manager Dr. Ellen Niemitalo said.
''We understand that this may be upsetting and inconvenient for those affected individuals and we want to ensure them that there are no more increased risks to them," Ivey said.
Ivey said the repeat dose should be administered as soon as possible in the opposite arm. He said there are no known risks from a third Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose.
He also said, in accordance with CDC recommendation, those who received a defected first dose should get wait to get their last dose 21 days after the repeat dose. He said the CDC advises against pregnant woman receiving a third dose due to lack of data.
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VIDEO - WATCH: Trailer For New Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey Project Released | The Daily Wire
Thu, 20 May 2021 11:04
According to reporting by Page Six, Prince Harry is set to reveal new information in another upcoming project with Oprah Winfrey.
The Duke of Sussex worked with Winfrey on his new mental health docs-series, ''The Me You Can't See,'' which premieres on AppleTV+ on Friday.
In the trailer for the new show, Winfrey, speaking with Harry, says, ''All over the world, people are in some kind of mental, psychological, emotional pain. '... Being able to say, 'This is what happened to me,' is crucial.'''
Harry says, ''To make that decision to receive help is not a sign of weakness. In today's world, more than ever, it is a sign of strength.''
Celebrities involved in the show, including Glenn Close and Lady Gaga, are also shown in the trailer. ''I don't tell this story for my own self-service. I've been through it and people need help,'' Lady Gaga, who is called her given name, Stefani, says in the video. In an emotional moment, Gaga can be seen saying, ''I just froze, and I just '--''
The trailer also portrays a young Harry standing next to his father as his mother's casket passes him on the day of her funeral.
The promotion for the series comes after the prince discussed his family history in a podcast interview with actor Dax Shepard last week and was widely panned for calling the First Amendment ''bonkers.''
The Daily Wire reported that while speaking on the Armchair Expert podcast , Prince Harry said he moved to the United States to break a cycle of ''genetic pain and suffering'' in his own family.
''He's treated me the way that he was treated,'' Harry said of his father, Prince Charles, in the conversation. ''There's a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway. We as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say, 'You know what? That happened to me. I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to you.'''
Harry reportedly also appeared to suggest that the Queen herself was guilty of being complicit in the abuse.
''I never saw it. I never knew about it. And then suddenly I started to piece it all together and go, 'Okay, so this is where he went to school. This is what happened. I know this bit about his life,'' Harry said of his father. ''I also know that's connected to his parents. So that means that he's treated me the way that he was treated, which means how can I change that for my own kids?''
''Once I started doing therapy,'' Harry said, ''it was like the bubble was burst. I plucked my head out of the sand and gave it a good shake off and I was like, 'You're in this position of privilege, stop complaining and stop thinking you want something different '-- make this different, because you can't get out. How are you going to do these things differently? How are you going to make your mum proud and use this platform to really affect change?'''
''I've got so much I want to say about the First Amendment as I sort of understand it, but it is bonkers,'' Harry told the podcast. ''I don't want to start going down the First Amendment route because that's a huge subject and one which I don't understand because I've only been here a short time. But, you can find a loophole in anything. You can capitalize or exploit what's not said rather than uphold what is said.''
Watch the trailer below:
T he Daily Wire is one of America's fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member .
VIDEO - (192) Dr. Fauci talks about vaccine passports - YouTube
Thu, 20 May 2021 10:58
VIDEO - VIEW MAP: 45 potential city-owned Austin homeless camping sites | KXAN Austin
Thu, 20 May 2021 10:24
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- The City of Austin has identified 45 city-owned areas to possibly turn into designated camps for people experiencing homelessness.
The move comes after the reinstatement of Austin's citywide camping ban, which went back into effect May 11 after voters approved Proposition B in May 1's election.
The city stressed this list is preliminary and is only a ''snapshot'' of the sites where it has done an initial analysis. ''The list will most certainly change,'' a City of Austin spokesman wrote, including having some removed and others added.
Here's the initial list of the spots being considered:
Walter E. Long 11455 Decker Lake RoadJohn Trevino 9501 FM 969Walnut Creek Sports Park '-- 7800 Johnny Morris RoadGiven Recreation Center '-- 3811 East 12th StreetFleet Service Yard '-- 8401 Johnny Morris RoadColony Park land3511 Manor RoadTannehill LaneOnion Creek Metro North7720 ½ Kellam Road5400 East William Cannon, Decommissioned WWTPFM 812 at FM 973Eco-Park at FM 973West Slaughter Lane and 8908-8916-9006 Cullen RoadParque Zaragoza Recreation Center '-- 2609 Gonzales StreetSouth Austin Recreation Center '-- 1100 Cumberland RoadRoy G. Guerrero '-- 400 Grove Boulevard6700 Bolm Road District ParkJohnny Degollado Pavilion at Edward Rendon Park4800 '' 4906 Bolm RoadLevander Loop1311 Tillery StreetGus Garcia '-- 1201 East Rundberg Lane7211 North I-357309 North I-35Mary Moore Searight '-- 907 West Slaughter LaneLakeline Neighborhood Park12101 Anderson Mill Road10900 FM 2222 (WWT)Commons Ford Park '-- 614 North Commons Ford RoadWalnut Creek/HavensNorthwest Recreation CenterSir Swante Palm Neighborhood Park '-- East Third StreetDuncan Park '-- 900 West Ninth StreetSand Beach Park on West Cesar Chavez StreetPatterson Park '-- 4200 Brookview RoadBull Creek Park '-- Lakewood DriveRyan Drive WarehouseCircle CDick Nichols '-- 8011 Beckett Road11800 FM 18269513 Circle Drive4905 Convict Hill RoadNorwood TractAustin Recreation CenterCity staff reviewed more than 70 city-owned properties to be considered for encampments. A City of Austin spokesman says they will continue analyzing them and will present the City Council with an update in June.
''The sites identified in today's presentation to Mayor and Council are preliminary locations. The lists we have provided are only a snapshot of the sites where we have done the initial analysis that Council requested. These sites are not final and the list will most certainly change. Some locations may come off, and others may be added, as part of an ongoing examination of potential sites. Staff will continue analyzing properties and will work to present Council with an update in June.''
City of Austin spokespersonCity Manager Spencer Cronk was directed to share the list owned by the city or partner organizations on Friday, but city staff said those sites would be discussed on Tuesday instead.
Given their first look at the city's list so far, council members had mixed reactions in Tuesday's meeting.
''I'm right now not confident about the ones that are on this list, right now, but I hope that we can get our heads together,'' said council member Paige Ellis.
Ellis and others have concerns about wildfire and flooding risks in some spots. They also worry about placing the homeless in busy parks.
City Manager Spencer Cronk said he'll work with council members to look for other potential properties.
''We're going to be following up with each of you individually to look at other potential sites in your district,'' he told the council. ''Those may not be city-owned properties, but maybe you have a relationship with a private land owner.''
Cronk said the city would also consider partnering with entities interested in helping or even look to other jurisdictions for potential sites.
City leaders have not decided how many different sites they might choose to use as encampments. City staff members say each two acre plot could house about 50 people, and a four acre plot, 100.
Austin Police Department Lt. Lawrence Davis, who is overseeing the implementation of the camping ban, says having designated encampments will help make it easier to keep people safe and provide continuing resources.
''That's going to make it exponentially more prudent and responsible when we have a location for them to go,'' Davis said. ''So when I tell you, 'Hey, you have to vacate this spot,' I want to be humane enough to tell you, 'Here's a safe space where you can go.''
The City of Austin says any location chosen would have electricity and water service, restrooms, hygiene stations, showers, adequate lighting and perimeter fencing where appropriate. It says the initial round of site analysis has been completed using the following criteria:
Minimum size: 2 acres to serve 50 people, or 4 acres for 100 peopleAccess to water and electricity service (and/or cost to establish, if known)Existing lightingTerrain suitabilityFlood riskWildfire riskProximity to a fire hydrantEnvironmental sensitivity of land (i.e. habitat or preserve)Expansion capacityAvailability for two-year temporary usePresence of shaded areasAccess to public transportationProximity to critical retail and servicesProximity to schoolsPotential disruption to existing public services or development plans
VIDEO - 'š'¸Kapitein Alwin 'JustABuzz' on Twitter: "@adamcurry this kiddo is a boss! It's all nonessence!ðŸ" / Twitter
Thu, 20 May 2021 10:08
'š'¸Kapitein Alwin 'JustABuzz' : @adamcurry this kiddo is a boss! It's all nonessence!🁠
Thu May 20 10:05:26 +0000 2021
VIDEO - (8) tsar becket adams on Twitter: "Ronald Reagan, 77, versus Joe Biden, 78." / Twitter
Wed, 19 May 2021 20:34
tsar becket adams : Ronald Reagan, 77, versus Joe Biden, 78.
Wed May 19 19:51:16 +0000 2021
VIDEO - (191) A cyber attack with COVID like characteristics - YouTube
Wed, 19 May 2021 17:46
VIDEO - Proud Father of My Two Sons: "Red Cross Plasma is needed. But NOT from those v'..." - No Agenda Social
Wed, 19 May 2021 17:03
FollowRed CrossPlasma is needed. But NOT from those vaccinated
@ adam
@ Foneguy89 @ adam they said the vaccine WIPES OUT covid antibodies if you already had them? How's that work?
@ Foneguy89 It is too delicious to believe, my friends. Sciencey Science!!!!
VIDEO - (5) Jack Posobiec on Twitter: "BREAKING: Joe Biden snaps at Coast Guard grads for not clapping for him" / Twitter
Wed, 19 May 2021 16:56
Jack Posobiec : BREAKING: Joe Biden snaps at Coast Guard grads for not clapping for him
Wed May 19 16:23:52 +0000 2021
Aaron Meatman : @JackPosobiec "Breaking" is a clip from a 2008 commencement speech?
Wed May 19 16:55:48 +0000 2021
DependableDan : @JackPosobiec He's turning into Jeb!
Wed May 19 16:55:37 +0000 2021
arlun : @JackPosobiec @theoldgumtree
Wed May 19 16:55:33 +0000 2021
Gustavopt : @JackPosobiec ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚
Wed May 19 16:55:18 +0000 2021
Mark Riedel : @JackPosobiec He's not a very likeable person
Wed May 19 16:54:59 +0000 2021
Satoshi_Rabit : @JackPosobiec
Wed May 19 16:54:50 +0000 2021
JustDan : @JackPosobiec he's so needy and insecure. lol
Wed May 19 16:54:45 +0000 2021
The Enigma Frank Castle (Preacher) ðŸ...… : @JackPosobiec At least he didn't call them ''dumb bastards'' like he did to the US Army
Wed May 19 16:54:40 +0000 2021
J㽸 🇺🇸 : @JackPosobiec ''Please clap''
Wed May 19 16:54:35 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Data as an instrument of coloniality - YouTube
Wed, 19 May 2021 07:00
VIDEO - 'Some Things I Just Can't Tell You on Air': Barack Obama Laughs Off UFO Sightings Authenticity - Sputnik International
Tue, 18 May 2021 23:59
US23:25 GMT 18.05.2021Get short URL
Sputnik International
Daria Bedenko. Sputnik International
You can hardly find a US president that would be willing to expose everything about what he - or the US government - knows about alleged UFO sightings or trails. One can just drop intriguing hints, like a former US president, Donald Trump did, or play coy, like POTUS 44, Barack Obama.
Former US President Barack Obama, during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, teased the audience about secrets of alleged US government documents on UFO sightings, saying that, while he has "nothing to report to you today", there are still some things that are not fully clear, even to the government.
''When it comes to aliens, there are some things I just can't tell you on air,'' Obama said, responding to a question from the show's bandleader, Reggie Watts, about "them aliens". "Look, the truth is that when I came into office I asked. I was like, 'All right, is there the lab somewhere where we're keeping the alien specimens and spaceships?' They did a little bit of research '.... and the answer was 'No'''.The former president noted that "there's footage and records of objects in the skies that we don't know exactly what they are".
''We can't explain how they moved, their trajectory '... they did not have an easily explainable pattern", Obama said.His comments come as whispers swirl around a forthcoming report by the Pentagon Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), which will amass all of the information that the US military has about UFO sightings. The report is expected to be unveiled on 1 June.
Observers continue to grin at how US presidents tend to play coy when it comes to questions of alien life. This is not the first time Obama laughed off such questions, as earlier, in a conversation with another TV host, Stephen Colbert, the former president responded with "Can't tell you, sorry".
Trump, however, was more prone to teasing and hinting that he might know something about UFOs, smiling and promising to "take a good, strong look" into the existence of extraterrestrial life.
VIDEO-PBS Journalist Implies That Ending Mask Mandates Is Racist
Tue, 18 May 2021 23:38
Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,
During a White House press briefing, a PBS journalist suggested that ending mask mandates was racist.
Yes, really.
Last week, the CDC disappointed face diaper extremists by lifting restrictions on mask wearing in numerous settings.
This prompted a massive backlash from those who have adopted the face covering as a kind of cult symbol, with a PBS journalist attempting to argue that not masking up will lead to the deaths of more black people.
''The CDC guidelines on masks is putting front line workers and especially people of color at risk and they're calling for the CDC to reverse that, what's the White House's stance on'...people of color (being) at risk,'' said the journalist.
Leftists continue to be infuriated that mask mandates are ending because for the past year, they've been able to use them as a justification to ostracize and publicly shame conservatives, while the entire time claiming masks ''aren't political.''
Despite the CDC's advice, authorities throughout liberal states are refusing to fully lift the mandates while zealots like AOC are insisting they will continue to mask up.
Meanwhile, two months after lifting its mask mandate, Texas recorded zero COVID deaths, the first time that has happened since data began to be collected.
Today Texas reported:* 0 Covid related deaths--the only time that's happened since data was tracked in March, 2020.
* the fewest Covid cases in over 13 months
* the lowest 7-day Covid positivity rate ever
* the lowest Covid hospitalizations in 11 months.
Thanks, Texans!
'-- Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 17, 2021Even after the pandemic ends, those who have cemented mask wearing as a signal of virtue, compliance and political obedience will fight tooth and nail to keep the mandates in place under any flimsy justification.
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In the age of mass Silicon Valley censorship It is crucial that we stay in touch. I need you to sign up for my free newsletter here. Support my sponsor '' Turbo Force '' a supercharged boost of clean energy without the comedown. Also, I urgently need your financial support here.
VIDEO - (187) 'There is an 'absurd story' emerging from Oxford University - YouTube
Tue, 18 May 2021 23:13
VIDEO - The Post Millennial on Twitter: "A 10-year-old slams his school's mask mandate: "All this seems unfair, and it doesn't make sense."" / Twitter
Tue, 18 May 2021 21:43
The Post Millennial : A 10-year-old slams his school's mask mandate: "All this seems unfair, and it doesn't make sense."
Tue May 18 20:03:18 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Major Chicken Shortage Hits U.S., Posing Big Opportunity for Plant-based Meat Manufacturers
Tue, 18 May 2021 18:41
Welcome to Thomas Insights '-- every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date on what's happening in industry. Sign up here to get the day's top stories delivered straight to your inbox.
Welcome to the Thomas Index Report for the week of May 17th.
A few weeks ago, we talked about how recent delays in the glass jar supply chain led to a delay in pickle packaging, which caused a subsequent delay in the debut of Burger King's new chicken sandwich. While that's just one example of the effects of the jar shortage, it illustrates how a single wrinkle in the supply chain can cause a chain reaction of issues.
Sorry to all of the fast food fans out there, but I have some more bad news '-- it looks like pickles aren't the only element of that popular sandwich that's in short supply. This new problem affects Popeyes, KFC, McDonalds, and other popular chains.
Seeing a theme here? We're currently experiencing a nationwide shortage of chicken.
That's right, the ubiquitous staple of the American table has apparently become so popular that meat suppliers can't keep up with surging demand. Chicken has been the most popular meat in the United States since the 90s, but we haven't seen shortages like this in recent memory.
So what's ruffling the feathers of this critical supply chain today?
First, a surge in popularity is driving continued demand, fueled by popular fast food offerings and the ease of cooking chicken at home. Second, the major winter storm in Texas a few months ago hindered operations for major processing plants, like Tyson. And third, COVID-19 led to plant closures, worker shortages, and logistical challenges that caused unpredictability in the supply chain.
It's been a seemingly non-stop barrage of supply chain issues in the face of skyrocketing demand and popularity, essentially creating a perfect storm to drive prices higher than usual. According to The Wall Street Journal, the price of some cuts of chicken have doubled over the last year and are 50% higher than the average price of the meat over the past 10 years.
On the platform, searches for meat packing and processing equipment have increased 60% year over year, and spikes over the past few weeks have been even more substantial. But while suppliers are quickly scaling up operations with new equipment, it will take time to get production underway and products delivered to your local grocery store or restaurant. For example, last month, Tyson opened its first new plant in 25 years, a $425 million chicken processing facility located in Tennessee, but it's not expected to be fully staffed until 2023.
And as we approach Memorial Day weekend, which is often recognized as the unofficial start of the summer season, pressure on the already strained supply chain is expected to worsen. Based on historical demand, chicken sales are strongest during grilling season. So what should Americans plan to put on the grill for future dinners?
Enter meat alternatives.
Judging by the recent flurry in merger and acquisition activity in the plant-based meat sector, alt meat is quickly gaining traction. In fact, the plant based food and beverage sector is expected to reach $32.3 billion by 2027, an increase of more than $20 billion in only 8 years. In the shorter term, Nielsen data says that grocery store sales of alternative meat products rose 264% over the past two months, much faster than growth pre-COVID. While chicken is apparently the hardest meat to replicate with plant proteins, new chicken alternatives are expected to debut this summer.
I'm Tony Uphoff, and this is the Thomas Index Report.
Top 10 Categories with Month over Month GrowthBrick: 4406%Printing Services: 3420%Steam Traps: 2800%Microscopes: 2600%Aerosols: 2550%Rings: 2390%Lifts: 2310%Coolers: 2108%Oxygen Concentrators: 2048%Plumbing Contractors: 2034%Check out other recent Thomas Index Report videos: Why Are Fence Materials So Hard to Find and Installation Timelines Delayed?Why Is Lumber So Expensive Right Now?How Did Glass Jar Shortages Delay Burger King's New Chicken Sandwich Launch?Building Material Sourcing Jumps 176% As Construction Season Quickly Approaches, But Builders Are WorriedQ1 Sourcing Trends Reveal Cautiously Optimistic Shift in Industrial Priorities; Steel, PCB Searches Increasing Image Credit: Thomas Index Report
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VIDEO - (6) Tim Meads on Twitter: "Great job by @theamgreatness and @julie_kelly2 for finding this video through some investigative reporting, rather than just accepting the Government-media complex's story about Jan. 6." / Twitt
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Liddle' Dev Nunes Conscience : @TimMeadsUSA @julie_kelly2 @theamgreatness Lol. We all saw what they did.
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Cupcakes = Fraud : @TimMeadsUSA @theamgreatness @julie_kelly2 Invitation not insurrection
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David Cousins : @TimMeadsUSA @julie_kelly2 @theamgreatness I hope the American people see this and that all the truth comes out and'...
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Righton : @TimMeadsUSA @theamgreatness @julie_kelly2 Should be seen !!!!!
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Righton : @TimMeadsUSA @theamgreatness @julie_kelly2 Watch please !!!!
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Happiness ðŸ' : @TimMeadsUSA @theamgreatness @julie_kelly2 The January 6, 2021 chaos at Capitol Hill was STAGED! Democrats paid th'...
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TH : @TimMeadsUSA @julie_kelly2 @theamgreatness This video is very important.
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VIDEO - JD2983 'š on Twitter: "Moneysocket is simplest to explain by just showing it work. Connect an app and drive micropayments without browser plugins and making everything a node. Check it out 👇 FF @moneysocket #Bitcoin #micropayments #LightningNe
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VIDEO - 5 Austin-area Juiceland locations close, limit hours amid workers strike | KXAN Austin
Tue, 18 May 2021 03:36
UPDATE 5 p.m. Monday
The Juiceland Workers Rights group announced the end of an initial meeting with Juiceland officials at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Additional statements regarding strike actions and meeting happenings will be provided later this evening.
A second meeting between the workers and Juiceland officials is scheduled for Friday, per the Instagram announcement.
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- Four Juiceland shops are closed and one is running on limited operations in Austin amid an ongoing strike between workers and company leaders.
Juiceland's Domain Northside, Saltillo Plaza, Mueller and Balcones locations are closed Monday, according to both the company's website and each shop's respective answering machine. The 29th & Guadalupe shop is running on limited hours Monday from 9 a.m. '' 4 p.m.
The closed and limited hour locations were listed on the Instagram account Juiceland Workers Rights as operational changes affiliated with the strike. Monday's hour changes follow an initial list of shops closed or running on limited hours published on Sunday.
The account, launched on Sunday, details an ongoing dispute between some workers and Juiceland officials over wages and alleged accounts of racism and sexism within the company.
''For too long the juiceland (sic) production facility workers have endured unsanitary, rough working conditions, and no hazard pay during the pandemic,'' read an Instagram statement posted Sunday. ''As a result, we have made a list of demands and are currently not working as we negotiate with juiceland (sic).''
Juiceland Workers Rights has not yet responded to an interview request by KXAN regarding current worker conditions and alleged mistreatment. We will update this story if a response is received.
Negotiation demands include a starting pay increase to $17 an hour, heightened sanitation measures and improved workplace conditions and $50 monthly bonuses for employees who worked throughout the pandemic as a form of hazard pay. Other demands include worker-led managerial evaluations and transparency in workers' pay and management salaries.
Juiceland Workers Rights launched a GoFundMe on Sunday to help support workers impacted by the strike-driven closures and limited shop hours. More than $4,600 of a total $8,000 goal has been raised as of noon on Monday.
A meeting between Juiceland officials, drivers and workers was scheduled for Monday morning, according to an Instagram post. Details following that meeting were not yet available at the time of publishing.
In a May 16 statement, Juiceland representatives said they have increased wages to a ''guaranteed $15/hr'' beginning Sunday. Officials defined the guaranteed $15 per hour as the starting amount employees will make, after tips per pay cycle are factored in.
''In a perfect business world, we would not be making this commitment until we could stabilize our operational costs and heal more fully from our losses incurred due to the pandemic,'' the statement read. ''We still have shops closed and have to cover those costs, along with stores operating with lower sales than previous years.''
An updated statement published on Juiceland's Instagram account Monday addressed alleged ''discrimination and safety issues. In the statement, Juiceland officials said the company began drafting a diversity, equity and inclusion tactical plan in March ''as a lens through which we view every decision the business has to make.''
''Discrimination and safety issues must be addressed appropriately as a business,'' the Monday statement read, adding, ''We are truly committed to addressing unacceptable behavior that has been reported and encourage anyone to report any experiences of this nature to HR immediately.''
Officials said additional feedback methods will be implemented for employees to access, infrastructure improvements are scheduled for a 2021 completion and officials will add further ''employee education about evaluation and pay raise cadence.''
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VIDEO - (183) Bill Gates was told to step down from Microsoft board over alleged affair: Report - YouTube
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VIDEO - Andr(C) 🌸 on Twitter: "@EatlovePray11 Hier een iets uitgebreidere versie:" / Twitter
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Andr(C) 🌸 : @EatlovePray11 Hier een iets uitgebreidere versie:
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VIDEO - (1) 60 Minutes on Twitter: "''I don't know who's building it, who's got the technology, who's got the brains. But there's something out there that was better than our airplane,'' says fmr. Navy pilot David Fravor about his experience with a UFO
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VIDEO - WE BROKE CHARACTER -UFOs regularly spotted in restricted U.S. airspace, report on the phenomena due next month - 60 Minutes - CBS News
Mon, 17 May 2021 08:48
We have tackled many strange stories on 60 Minutes, but perhaps none like this. It's the story of the U.S. government's grudging acknowledgment of unidentified aerial phenomena'-- UAP'--more commonly known as UFOs. After decades of public denial the Pentagon now admits there's something out there, and the U.S. Senate wants to know what it is. The intelligence committee has ordered the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense to deliver a report on the mysterious sightings by next month.
Bill Whitaker: So what you are telling me is that UFOs, unidentified flying objects, are real?
Lue Elizondo: Bill, I think we're beyond that already. The government has already stated for the record that they're real. I'm not telling you that. The United States government is telling you that.
Luis Elizondo spent 20 years running military intelligence operations worldwide: in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Guantanamo. He hadn't given UFOs a second thought until 2008. That's when he was asked to join something at the Pentagon called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or "AATIP."
Lue ElizondoLue Elizondo: The mission of AATIP was quite simple. It was to collect and analyze information involving anomalous aerial vehicles, what I guess in the vernacular you call them UFOs. We call them UAPs.
Bill Whitaker: You know how this sounds? It sounds nutty, wacky.
Lue Elizondo: Look, Bill, I'm not, I'm not telling you that, that it doesn't sound wacky. What I'm telling you, it's real. The question is, what is it? What are its intentions? What are its capabilities?
Buried away in the Pentagon, AATIP was part of a $22 million program sponsored by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to investigate UFOs. When Elizondo took over in 2010 he focused on the national security implications of unidentified aerial phenomena documented by U.S. service members.
Lue Elizondo: Imagine a technology that can do 6-to-700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar and that can fly through air and water and possibly space. And oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth's gravity. That's precisely what we're seeing.
Elizondo tells us AATIP was a loose-knit mix of scientists, electro-optical engineers, avionics and intelligence experts, often working part time. They combed through data and records, and analyzed videos like this.
A Navy aircrew struggles to lock onto a fast-moving object off the U.S. Atlantic Coast in 2015.
Recently released images may not convince ufo skeptics, but the pentagon admits it doesn't know what in the world this is or this or this.
Bill Whitaker: So what do you say to the skeptics? It's refracted light. Weather balloons. A rocket being launched. Venus.
Lue Elizondo: In some cases there are simple explanations for what people are witnessing. But there are some that, that are not. We're not just simply jumping to a conclusion that's saying, "Oh, that's a UAP out there." We're going through our due diligence. Is it some sort of new type of cruise missile technology that China has developed? Is it some sort of high-altitude balloon that's conducting reconnaissance? Ultimately when you have exhausted all those what ifs and you're still left with the fact that this is in our airspace and it's real, that's when it becomes compelling, and that's when it becomes problematic.
Former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves calls whatever is out there a security risk. He told us his F/A-18F squadron began seeing UAPs hovering over restricted airspace southeast of Virginia Beach in 2014 when they updated their jet's radar, making it possible to zero in with infrared targeting cameras.
Ryan GravesBill Whitaker: So you're seeing it both with the radar and with the infrared. And that tells you that there is something out there?
Ryan Graves: Pretty hard to spoof that.
These photographs were taken in 2019 in the same area. The Pentagon confirms these are images of objects it can't identify. Lieutenant Graves told us pilots training off the Atlantic Coast see things like that all the time.
Ryan Graves: Every day. Every day for at least a couple years.
Bill Whitaker: Wait a minute, every day for a couple of years?
Ryan Graves: Uh-huh.
Ryan Graves: I don't see an exhaust plume.
Including this one '' off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida in 2015, captured on a targeting camera by members of Graves' squadron.
Soundbites from pilots: Look at that thing, it's rotating! My gosh! They're all going against the wind, the wind's 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing dude!
Bill Whitaker: You can sorta hear the surprise in their voices.
Ryan Graves: You certainly can. They seem to have broke character a bit and were just kind of amazed at what they were seeing.
Bill Whitaker: What do you think when you see something like this?
Ryan Graves: This is a difficult one to explain. You have rotation, you have high altitudes. You have propulsion, right? I don't know. I don't know what it is, frankly.
He told us pilots speculate they are one of three things: secret U.S. technology, an adversary's spy vehicle, or something otherworldly.
Ryan Graves: I would say, you know, the highest probability is it's a threat observation program.
Bill Whitaker: Could it be Russian or Chinese technology?
Ryan Graves: I don't see why not.
Bill Whitaker: Are you alarmed?
Ryan Graves: I am worried, frankly. You know, if these were tactical jets from another country that were hangin' out up there, it would be a massive issue. But because it looks slightly different, we're not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We're happy to just ignore the fact that these are out there, watching us every day.
The government has ignored it - at least publicly - since closing its project "Blue Book" investigation in 1969. But that began to change after an incident off Southern California in 2004, which was documented by radar, by camera, and four naval aviators. We spoke to two of them: David Fravor, a graduate of the Top Gun naval flight school and commander of the F/A-18F squadron on the USS Nimitz; and flying at his wing, Lieutenant Alex Dietrich, who has never spoken publicly about the encounter.
Alex Dietrich and Dave FravorAlex Dietrich: I never wanted to be on national TV, no offense.
Bill Whitaker: So why are you doing this?
Alex Dietrich: Because I was in a government aircraft, because I was on the clock. And so I feel a responsibility to s-- to share what I can. And it is unclassified.
It was November 2004 and the USS Nimitz carrier strike group was training about 100 miles southwest of San Diego. For a week, the advanced new radar on a nearby ship, the USS Princeton, had detected what operators called "multiple anomalous aerial vehicles" over the horizon, descending 80,000 feet in less than a second. On November 14, Fravor and Dietrich, each with a weapons systems officer in the backseat, were diverted to investigate. They found an area of roiling whitewater the size of a 737 in an otherwise calm, blue sea.
Dave Fravor: So as we're looking at this, her back-seater says, "Hey, Skipper, do you..." And about that got out, I said, "Dude, do you, do you see that thing down there?" And we saw this little white Tic Tac-looking object. And it's just kind of moving above the whitewater area.
As Deitrich circled above - Fravor went in for a closer look.
Bill Whitaker: So you're sort of spiraling down?
Dave Fravor: Yep. The Tic Tac's still pointing north-south, it goes, click, and just turns abruptly. And starts mirroring me. So as I'm coming down, it starts coming up.
Bill Whitaker: So it's mimicking your moves?
Dave Fravor: Yeah, it was aware we were there.
He said it was about the size of his F/A-18F, with no markings, no wings, no exhaust plumes.
Dave Fravor: I want to see how close I can get. So I go like this. And it's climbing still. And when it gets right in front of me, it just disappears.
Bill Whitaker: Disappears?
Dave Fravor: Disappears. Like, gone.
It had sped off.
Bill Whitaker: What are you thinking?
Alex Dietrich: So your mind tries to make sense of it. I'm gonna categorize this as maybe a helicopter or maybe a drone. And when it disappeared. I mean it was just'...
Bill Whitaker: Did your back-seaters see this too?
Alex Dietrich: Yeah.
Dave Fravor: Oh yeah. There was four of us in the airplanes literally watching this thing for roughly about five minutes.
Seconds later, the Princeton reacquired the target. 60 miles away. Another crew managed to briefly lock onto it with a targeting camera before it zipped off again.
Alex Dietrich: You know, I think that over beers, we've sort of said, "Hey man, if I saw this solo, I don't know that I would have come back and said anything," because it sounds so crazy when I say it.
Bill Whitaker: You understand that reaction?
Dave Fravor: I do. I've had some people tell me, you know, "When you say that, you can sound crazy." I'll be hon-- I'm not a UFO guy.
Bill Whitaker: But from what I hear you guys saying, there's something?
Alex Dietrich: Yes.
Dave Fravor: Oh there's, there's definitely something that'... I don't know who's building it, who's got the technology, who's got the brains. But there's, there's something out there that was better than our airplane.
The aircrew filed reports. Then like the mysterious flying object, the Nimitz encounter disappeared. Nothing was said or done officially for five years, until Lue Elizondo came across the story and investigated.
Lue Elizondo: We spend millions of dollars in training these pilots. And they are seeing something that they can't explain. Furthermore, that informations being backed up on electro optical data, like gun camera footage. And by radar data. Now, to me, that's compelling.
Chris MellonInside the Pentagon his findings were met with skepticism. AATIP's funding was eliminated in 2012, but Elizondo says he and a handful of others kept the mission alive until finally, frustrated, he quit the Pentagon in 2017, but not before getting these three videos declassified and then things took a stranger turn.
Chris Mellon: I tried to help my colleague, Lue Elizondo, elevate the issue in the department and actually get it to the Secretary of Defense.
Christopher Mellon served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush and had access to top secret government programs.
Chris Mellon: So it's not us, that's one thing we know.
Bill Whitaker: We know that?
Chris Mellon: I can say that with a very high degree of confidence in part because of the positions I held in the department, and I know the process.
Mellon says he grew concerned nothing was being done about UAPs, so he decided to do something. In 2017, as a private citizen, he surreptitiously acquired the three Navy videos Elizondo had declassified and leaked them to the New York Times.
Chris Mellon: It's bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda.
He joined forces with now civilian Lue Elizondo and they started to tell their story to anybody who would listen: to newspapers, the History Channel, to members of Congress.
Chris Mellon: We knew and understood that you had to go to the public, get the public interested to get Congress interested, to then circle back to the Defense Department and get them to start taking a look at it.
And now it is. This past August the Pentagon resurrected AATIP, it's now called the UAP task force; service members now are encouraged to report strange encounters; and the Senate wants answers.
Marco Rubio: Anything that enters an airspace that's not supposed to be there is a threat.
After receiving classified briefings on UAPs, Senator Marco Rubio called for a detailed analysis. This past December, while he was still head of the intelligence committee, he asked the director of national intelligence and the Pentagon to present Congress an unclassified report by next month.
Bill Whitaker: This is a bizarre issue. The Pentagon and other branches of the military have a long history of sort of dismissing this. What makes you think that this time's gonna be different?
Marco Rubio: We're gonna find out when we get that report. You know, there's a stigma on Capitol Hill. I mean, some of my colleagues are very interested in this topic and some kinda, you know, giggle when you bring it up. But I don't think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to a very fundamental question.
Bill Whitaker: What do you want us to do about this?
Marco Rubio: I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously. I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in. That there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn't.
Produced by Graham Messick. Associate producer, Jack Weingart. Broadcast associate, Emilio Almonte. Edited by Craig Crawford.
(C) 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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