1349: Wappie

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 20m
May 23rd, 2021
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Executive Producers: Sir Baronet Dude Named Ben, william torres, Sir Liptonite, Tony Cabrera - NoAgendaShop.com, Baron Sir R Daniels, Andrea Johnson, Just Ben from Central Wisconsin, Taylor Counter, Sir Gary and Dame Christine Of Moon Gate, David Fugazzotto Duke of America's Heartland, Debi Cornyn, Seth Dubois, Sir Michael of 3rd World Southeast Asia, Heather Heim - HD Leadership Academy, Cameron Beck

Associate Executive Producers: Chris Ryan 8bitBeardCo, Lawrence Cornell, Sir Thomas of Great Bay

Cover Artist: Mike Riley


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NWO - Eurovision
Dinner last night no mask
Peacock really messed up Eurovision without campy commentary
Eurovision coglioni balls and Cazzo
UK zero points brexit
Scratch & Vax
The White House Is Hoping New Vaccine Partnership With Dating Apps Will Convince Singles To Get Their Shots '' Reason.com
Sun, 23 May 2021 11:44
In its latest political gamble, the Biden administration is hoping that the power of dating apps can be harnessed to slow the spread of infectious disease for once. On Friday, the White House announced it was partnering with online matchmaking companies to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Under this new plan, dating app and website users who've already received the vaccine, and are now on the prowl for a partner, will get special badges or "stickers" to signal their immunization status to prospective matches. To sweeten the pot, companies will also be offering free premium upgrades to the vaccinated in the form of "Super Likes" (Tinder), "SuperSwipes" (Bumble), and other means of boosting the visibility of one's profile.
Participating companies include Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, Badoo, BLK, Hinge, Chispa, Match, and Plenty of Fish.
"We believe that it's particularly important to reach young people where they are in an effort to get them vaccinated," said Andy Slavitt, one of Biden's COVID-19 advisers, at a briefing today, adding that the new dating app features will "help people meet people who have that universally attractive quality: They've been vaccinated from COVID-19."
The companies themselves are doing what they can to hype this new partnership. A press release from Tinder notes that mentions of vaccines on its app have increased 800 percent since the start of the pandemic. OkCupid has declared being vaccinated the new "tall, dark, and handsome" in a blog post. The company said that it will rely on users to self-certify that they've been vaccinated.
This dating app initiative from the White House is only the latest carrot being offered to those who've yet to take advantage of free COVID-19 vaccines.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced last week that the state would run a lottery to award five vaccinated adult residents $1 million each, paid for by federal COVID-19 relief funds. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is running similar sweepstakes with a maximum prize of $400,000. New York is topping them both with a vaccine lottery that will shower the winner with $5 million. Oregon announced its own vaccine lottery today, too.
Ohio health officials report that vaccinations are up 28 percent since the launch of its "Vax-a-Million" effort, according to CNN.
Other states are getting even more inventive. Throughout the month of May, New Jersey is running a "shot and a beer" campaign whereby Garden State residents can get a free beer at participating breweries by showing proof of vaccination. Beer and wine trade associations in Washington state plan to launch similar "pints for pokes" initiatives in June.
When considering the long list of things governments could be doing to get shots in arms, voluntary partnerships and positive incentives like the new dating app initiative or state-run lotteries seem relatively unobjectionable.
They're certainly better than mandated "vaccine passports" or legal requirements to get vaccinated. Nevertheless, it's hard not to see this latest initiative from the White House as a bit pushy and invasive.
COVID-19 vaccines are free and conveniently available to anyone who wants them. They've proven spectacularly effective at preventing deaths and serious symptoms from the disease.
People who have yet to get their shot are thus only endangering themselves. That might not be a wise choice, but it is a personal one. There should be a corresponding limit to how much effort the government devotes to encouraging the vaccine-hesitant/apathetic to protect themselves.
Actual OHIO Scratch & Vax numbers
New York announces $5M lottery entry for those who get vaccinated - CNET
Thu, 20 May 2021 21:54
Get a shot in some New York locations between May 24 and 28 for a chance to win $5 million.
Sarah Tew/CNET For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the
WHO website.
New Yorkers who get vaccinated between May 24 and May 28 at some locations across the state will be given a free lottery scratch-off ticket, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday. It's an effort to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 as demand slows. As of Thursday, around 63% of adult New Yorkers have received one dose, and 54% are fully vaccinated, Cuomo said.
The ticket is for a $5 million lottery, and will be given to adults aged 18 and up who get their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Read more: Free beer, doughnuts and $1 million: 13 reasons to get your COVID-19 vaccine
Here's where you can get a free scratch-off lottery ticket in New York:
Medgar Evers College - Carroll Building, BrooklynBay Eden Senior Center, BronxJavits Center, New York CityYork College, New York CitySUNY Stony Brook Innovation and Discovery Center, Long IslandState Fair Expo Center: NYS Fairgrounds, Syracuse New York National Guard Armory, Yonkers University at Buffalo South Campus, Buffalo SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Queensbury Rochester Dome Arena, Henrietta Maryland also announced its $2 million VaxCash Promotion on Thursday, which will divide a $2 million prize pool among 41 residents who get vaccinated. Daily drawings will reward someone who's been vaccinated at any point in the state with $40,000, starting May 25 until July 4. On the Fourth of July, one person will win $400,000.
"Get your shot for a shot to win," said Gov. Larry Hogan.
The state of Ohio similarly kicked off a program through which every adult who's gotten at least one dose of the vaccine will be entered into a $1 million lottery . There will be five weekly drawings, with the first winners being announced on May 26. New Jersey, meanwhile, is giving away free beer to people who get vaccinated at participating breweries during May.
Keep track of the coronavirus pandemic.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
NY Launches 'Vax & Scratch' Lottery, $5 Million Prize For COVID Vaccine Takers - Gothamist
Sun, 23 May 2021 11:40
To encourage more people to take COVID-19 vaccines, New York State is bringing in the big bucks via the New York Lottery.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that anyone who receives doses at any of the 10 state-run vaccination sites between May 24 and May 28 will get a "Vax & Scratch" lottery card. The first prize is $5 million, but participants will have a one-in-nine chance of winning various amounts, which start at $20.
"If you were undecided about getting a vaccine, or dubious about getting a vaccine, now you have this bonus," the governor said. "Everybody wins!"
arrow Vax & Scratch cards are at the 10 state-run vaccination sites NY Governor's office
As of Thursday, 62% of New York state residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 53% are fully vaccinated. (In New York City, 48% of eligible residents have had one dose, while 40% are fully vaccinated.) The urgency to get shots into arms is more acute now that the state has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions and hopes to recharge the economy.
Ohio has recorded a 53% week-over-week increase in vaccinations after Governor Mike DeWine announced five people could win $1 million each or a free ride to a state college in their "Vax-a-million" lottery program.
In order to improve access to vaccines even easier, the governor also announced that the state would set up clinics at New York airports, including Laguardia and JFK.
Caught Red-Handed: CDC Changes Test Thresholds To Virtually Eliminate New COVID Cases Among Vaxx'd | ZeroHedge
Sat, 22 May 2021 14:44
Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org,
New policies will artificially deflate ''breakthrough infections'' in the vaccinated, while the old rules continue to inflate case numbers in the unvaccinated.
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) is altering its practices of data logging and testing for ''Covid19'' in order to make it seem the experimental gene-therapy ''vaccines'' are effective at preventing the alleged disease.
They made no secret of this, announcing the policy changes on their website in late April/early May, (though naturally without admitting the fairly obvious motivation behind the change).
The trick is in their reporting of what they call ''breakthrough infections'' '' that is people who are fully ''vaccinated'' against Sars-Cov-2 infection, but get infected anyway.
Essentially, Covid19 has long been shown '' to those willing to pay attention '' to be an entirely created pandemic narrative built on two key factors:
False-positive tests. The unreliable PCR test can be manipulated into reporting a high number of false-positives by altering the cycle threshold (CT value)
Inflated Case-count. The incredibly broad definition of ''Covid case'', used all over the world, lists anyone who receives a positive test as a ''Covid19 case'', even if they never experienced any symptoms.
Without these two policies, there would never have been an appreciable pandemic at all, and now the CDC has enacted two policy changes which means they no longer apply to vaccinated people.
Firstly, they are lowering their CT value when testing samples from suspected ''breakthrough infections''.
From the CDC's instructions for state health authorities on handling ''possible breakthrough infections'' (uploaded to their website in late April):
For cases with a known RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) value, submit only specimens with Ct value '‰¤28 to CDC for sequencing. (Sequencing is not feasible with higher Ct values.)
Throughout the pandemic, CT values in excess of 35 have been the norm, with labs around the world going into the 40s.
Essentially labs were running as many cycles as necessary to achieve a positive result, despite experts warning that this was pointless (even Fauci himself said anything over 35 cycles is meaningless).
But NOW, and only for fully vaccinated people, the CDC will only accept samples achieved from 28 cycles or fewer. That can only be a deliberate decision in order to decrease the number of ''breakthrough infections'' being officially recorded.
Secondly, asymptomatic or mild infections will no longer be recorded as ''covid cases''.
That's right. Even if a sample collected at the low CT value of 28 can be sequenced into the virus alleged to cause Covid19, the CDC will no longer be keeping records of breakthrough infections that don't result in hospitalisation or death.
From their website:
As of May 1, 2021, CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause. This shift will help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance. Previous case counts, which were last updated on April 26, 2021, are available for reference only and will not be updated moving forward.
Just like that, being asymptomatic '' or having only minor symptoms '' will no longer count as a ''Covid case'' but only if you've been vaccinated.
The CDC has put new policies in place which effectively created a tiered system of diagnosis. Meaning, from now on, unvaccinated people will find it much easier to be diagnosed with Covid19 than vaccinated people.
Person A has not been vaccinated. They test positive for Covid using a PCR test at 40 cycles and, despite having no symptoms, they are officially a ''covid case''.
Person B has been vaccinated. They test positive at 28 cycles, and spend six weeks bedridden with a high fever. Because they never went into a hospital and didn't die they are NOT a Covid case.
Person C, who was also vaccinated, did die. After weeks in hospital with a high fever and respiratory problems. Only their positive PCR test was 29 cycles, so they're not officially a Covid case either.
The CDC is demonstrating the beauty of having a ''disease'' that can appear or disappear depending on how you measure it.
To be clear: If these new policies had been the global approach to ''Covid'' since December 2019, there would never have been a pandemic at all.
If you apply them only to the vaccinated, but keep the old rules for the unvaccinated, the only possible result can be that the official records show ''Covid'' is much more prevalent among the latter than the former.
This is a policy designed to continuously inflate one number, and systematically minimise the other.
What is that if not an obvious and deliberate act of deception?
Vaxxed or Masked
HIPAA is his vendor lock-in
OSHA Changes rules
Hey Adam,
Though you might find this interesting. It seems that OSHA is reversing its course on protecting employees from employer-mandated vaccinations, unless I'm reading this wrong.
Relative and Absolute Risk of Dying after vaccination
Covid News: New Cases in Nursing Homes Fall Dramatically After Vaccinations - The New York Times
Fri, 21 May 2021 20:04
Here's what you need to know: Vaccinations sharply cut the spread of the virus in U.S. nursing homes, study says.
Oregon tells businesses to check for the vaccination status of customers if they let them go maskless.
Scarred but resilient, New York City tiptoes toward normalcy.
More than 100 million J.&J. doses are on hold as U.S. regulators inspect them, an executive testifies.
Here's what the new rules in New York mean as the state reopens.
A vaccine maker in India signals it won't export doses before year's end, slowing aid to the world's poorest.
The Marigold nursing home in Washington, D.C., in April. Researchers said that the use of vaccinations appeared to protect nursing home residents who did not get immunized. Credit... Nate Palmer for The New York Times Nursing home residents, considered among the most vulnerable to Covid-19, appear to receive significant protection from vaccination, according to research published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In a letter to the editor, the researchers said that the use of vaccinations also appeared to protect nursing home residents who did not themselves get a shot. That finding suggests, researchers said, that unvaccinated residents benefit when others around them are immunized.
''These findings show the real-world effectiveness'' of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines ''in a vulnerable nursing home population,'' the researchers wrote.
The findings conform to recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the protective benefit of vaccination. The federal agency, in hoping to encourage widespread immunizations, has said that those who get inoculated face sharply reduced risk, but considerable risk remains for those who do not.
The nursing home population has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, with the virus spreading rapidly in close quarters among people with weakened immune systems. More than 132,000 U.S. nursing home residents have died during the pandemic, about one-third of all the country's deaths from Covid-19.
The study published on Wednesday drew from more than 20,000 residents of 280 nursing homes in 21 states. Of those, almost 4,000 were unvaccinated and the rest received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. About 70 percent had received two doses.
The study looked at residents of nursing homes that had received at least one dose as of Feb. 15 and anyone at the facilities present on the first day of their vaccination clinic who had not yet been vaccinated as of March 31.
After receiving a first dose, 4.5 percent of residents still contracted the virus, although most cases were asymptomatic, researchers wrote. Of those receiving the second dose, only 0.3 percent got the virus after 14 days.
The benefit carried over to those in the same nursing homes who did not get vaccinated. Their rate of infection dropped to 0.3 percent from 4.3 percent. For all groups, most infections were asymptomatic; and the rate of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections decreased over time.
''Robust vaccine coverage among residents and staff, together with the continued use of face masks and other infection-control measures, is likely to afford protection for a small number of unvaccinated residents,'' the researchers wrote.
'-- Matt Richtel
Tracking the Coronavirus 'ºUnited States 'ºUnited States On May 20 14-day changeNew cases29,701 ''36%New deaths654 ''14%World 'ºWorld On May 20 14-day changeNew cases636,014 ''23%New deaths12,828 ''6% Downtown Lake Oswego, Ore., in early April. Oregon is lifting its indoor mask mandate for people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Credit... Gillian Flaccus/Associated Press Oregon has lifted its mask mandate for people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but is requiring businesses, workplaces and houses of worship to verify the vaccination status of individuals before they enter buildings without a mask.
This statewide mandate, one of the first of its kind in the country, raised concerns that the procedure of verifying vaccinations could be too cumbersome for workers.
Many states have lifted mask requirements without requiring confirmation that individuals have been vaccinated after new federal guidance last week said vaccinated people could choose to go maskless in most cases. New York adopted that guidance on Wednesday, though businesses will be allowed to enforce stricter rules. Some Republican governors, like Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, have instead not only lifted mask rules but banned local governments from enforcing their own. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, also a Republican, issued an executive order last month prohibiting businesses from requiring vaccine documentation.
The notion of relying on the honor system, which some states and businesses have adopted, has raised its own questions. And business groups in Oregon expressed concerns that a mandate to check vaccination status could become '-- like mask enforcement '-- a difficult and potentially dangerous proposition for workers.
''We have serious concerns about the practicality of requiring business owners and workers to be the enforcer,'' said Nathaniel Brown, a spokesman for Oregon Business and Industry, which represents companies like Nike, as well as small businesses. ''We are hearing from retailers and small businesses who are concerned about putting their frontline workers in a potentially untenable position when dealing with customers.''
The Oregon Health Authority said in new guidance on Tuesday that effective immediately, businesses would be required to continue to enforce mask requirements unless they had established a policy to confirm proof of vaccination using a card or photo of one before individuals can enter the building without a mask.
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said last week that Oregonians who were fully vaccinated no longer needed to wear masks in most public settings, except in places like schools, public transit and health care settings.
But she quickly noted that businesses would have ''the option'' of lifting mask requirements only if they instituted verification. ''Some businesses may prefer to simply continue operating under the current guidance for now rather than worrying about vaccination status, and that's fine,'' she said.
A spokesman for Fred Meyer, a grocery store chain in the Pacific Northwest owned by Kroger, said that it would continue to require customers and employees to wear masks in its stores.
New York has created the Excelsior Pass, a digital proof of Covid-19 vaccination, which will be used at some sites like Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. Jen Psaki, President Biden's press secretary, reiterated on Monday that the federal government would not be issuing ''vaccine passports,'' the development of which she said should be left up to the private sector.
Charles Boyle, a spokesman for Governor Brown, said that ''businesses that do not want to implement vaccine verification can keep current health and safety measures in place, which includes masks and physical distancing for all individuals.''
Asked if businesses would face penalties for allowing customers to go maskless without checking their vaccination status, Mr. Boyle said that ''in the past year state agencies have issued fines for businesses that are out of compliance with health and safety guidance.''
'-- Bryan Pietsch
Credit... John Taggart for The New York Times
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From the Bronx to Staten Island, Chinatown to Fifth Avenue, in Michelin-starred restaurants and humble corner diners, hardware stores and funeral homes, New York moved gingerly toward reopening on Wednesday, with scenes of a remembered normalcy played out alongside those of caution.
It was a moment that so many people had hoped for, whether aloud over countless Zoom calls or in the frustrated silence of a line of shoppers outside a store. It was less a grand gala than a soft opening, a finish line at the end of a long race that no one wanted to be the first to cross.
New York shut down 423 days ago, on a Sunday night in March 2020 when it accounted for half the nation's coronavirus cases, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered all nonessential workers to stay home and indoors. The city has partially reopened in recent months, but Wednesday was the first day businesses were allowed to operate with fewer restrictions and at near capacity.
The new rules easing mask mandates and capacity limits were widely superseded by the personal comfort levels of millions of people. The reopening was messy and inconsistent and confusing '-- in short, it was New York City. Many business owners chose to continue requiring customers to wear masks, making Wednesday look and feel not all that different from Tuesday.
But the reopening was also cause for celebration. Julie Ross, 63, in the garden shade of the Museum of Modern Art, described the day in a word.
''Fabulous,'' she said. ''The streets feel more alive, a little bit. Right?''
The tentative first day arrived amid lowering restrictions in the region, with Connecticut and New Jersey rolling out similar plans, as case numbers continue to fall around the country and overseas. The European Union, looking ahead to summer's tourist season, agreed on Wednesday to reopen its borders to visitors who have been fully vaccinated or who are coming from a list of countries considered safe from a Covid-19 perspective. And yet, the virus continued to ravage India, which recorded 4,529 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the pandemic's highest single known daily death toll in any country so far.
The clashing good-news, bad-news headlines seemed to leave many New Yorkers disinclined to lower their guard '-- or their masks. Facial coverings were no longer a hard requirement, but many people were still wearing them, whether in the big-box stores and tiny boutiques of Manhattan or the shaded paths of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and they remained on the signs at the entrance of many stores like Victoria, selling clothing in the Bronx.
'-- Michael Wilson
Robert Kramer, the chief executive officer of Emergent BioSolutions, at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Credit... Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times The chief executive of Emergent BioSolutions, whose Baltimore plant ruined millions of coronavirus vaccine doses, disclosed for the first time on Wednesday that more than 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine are now on hold as regulators check them for possible contamination.
In more than three hours of testimony before a House subcommittee, the chief executive, Robert G. Kramer, calmly acknowledged unsanitary conditions, including mold and peeling paint, at the Baltimore plant. He conceded that Johnson & Johnson '-- not Emergent '-- had discovered contaminated doses, and he fended off aggressive questions from Democrats about his stock sales and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses for top company executives.
Emergent's Bayview Baltimore plant was forced to halt operations a month ago after contamination spoiled the equivalent of 15 million doses, but Mr. Kramer told lawmakers that he expected the facility to resume production ''in a matter of days.'' He said he took ''very seriously'' a report by federal regulators that revealed manufacturing deficiencies and accepted ''full responsibility.''
''No one is more disappointed than we are that we had to suspend our 24/7 manufacturing of new vaccine,'' Mr. Kramer told the panel, adding, ''I apologize for the failure of our controls.''
Mr. Kramer's appearance before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which has opened a broad inquiry into his company, offered the public its first glimpse of the men who run Emergent, a politically connected federal contractor that dominates a niche market in biodefense preparedness, with the U.S. government as its prime customer.
Testifying virtually, Mr. Kramer was joined by the firm's founder and executive chairman, Fuad El-Hibri, who over the past two decades has expanded Emergent from a small biotech outfit into a company with $1.5 billion in annual revenues. Executive compensation documents made public by the subcommittee show that the company's board praised Mr. El-Hibri, who cashed in stock shares and options worth more than $42 million last year, for ''leveraging his critical relationships with key customers, Congress and other stakeholders.''
Among those members of Congress is Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican and the top Republican on the House subcommittee. Federal campaign records show that since 2018, Mr. El-Hibri and his wife have donated more than $150,000 to groups affiliated with Mr. Scalise. The company's political action committee has given about $1.4 million over the past 10 years to members of both parties.
Mr. El-Hibri expressed contrition on Wednesday. ''The cross-contamination incident is unacceptable,'' he said, ''period.''
Mr. Kramer's estimate of 100 million doses on hold added 30 million to the number of Johnson & Johnson doses that are effectively quarantined because of regulatory concerns about contamination. Federal officials had previously estimated that the equivalent of about 70 million doses '-- most of that destined for domestic use '-- could not be released, pending tests for purity.
'-- Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Sharon LaFraniere
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of new York at a news conference at Radio City Music Hall on Monday. Credit... Mike Segar/Reuters Federal prosecutors have been looking into whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration granted special access to rapid coronavirus test results to his family and other influential individuals, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.
Investigators from the Eastern District of New York had been looking into how Mr. Cuomo's office handled data on Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes in the state. More recently, the investigation's focus has expanded, according to the people, to include questions surrounding a priority testing program that benefited Mr. Cuomo's close family members, including his brother, Chris Cuomo, in the early weeks of the pandemic.
Those who received special access to testing and fast results during that period also included Giorgio DeRosa, a top Albany lobbyist and the father of the governor's most senior aide, Melissa DeRosa, according to two people with knowledge of the tests who spoke to The New York Times.
The governor's office has not disputed that the governor's family and others received priority access to testing in the pandemic's early weeks. But the special treatment for Mr. Cuomo's family has lasted far longer than previously known, through at least last month, The Times found.
A spokesman for the Eastern District of New York declined to comment. The inquiries by federal prosecutors about special access to testing were reported by The Wall Street Journal.
'-- J. David Goodman
At Carmine's restaurant on the Upper West Side on Tuesday, plastic dividers were in between tables. Credit... James Estrin/The New York Times New York State is taking its biggest step yet toward normalcy, or a new version of it.
Starting Wednesday, 14 months after pandemic restrictions began, most businesses can return to 100 percent capacity if customers maintain six feet of distance. The biggest change will be seeing the faces of New Yorkers again: Vaccinated people in most cases no longer have to wear masks, indoors or outdoors, unless businesses mandate them.
Theaters and other large venues, including ballparks, can return to full capacity, up from one-third, if they require patrons to show proof of vaccination. House parties will be allowed: Up to 50 people can gather indoors in private homes.
''This is an exciting moment; this has been a dark, dark hellish year,'' Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday, after announcing the end of the mask mandate. ''But that was yesterday, and we are looking at a different tomorrow.''
But the reopening won't be a sudden return to prepandemic life. Many New Yorkers will prefer to keep wearing masks. And some restaurant owners, like Annie Shi of King, a small restaurant in the West Village, said that with distancing requirements, ''75 percent or 100 percent doesn't mean a whole lot.''
Sal Rao, the owner of Mama Rao's in Borough Park, Brooklyn, said that he and his staff '-- who all got vaccinated on one day, closing the restaurant to do it '-- will remain masked, but they will let patrons take off their masks on the honor system.
''We are going to let them come in and enjoy some of the privileges of being human again,'' Mr. Rao said.
Masks, following new federal guidance, will continue to be mandatory on public transit and in schools from prekindergarten to 12th grade, in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes and health care settings.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said on Wednesday morning that he planned to keep mask rules in place at city offices because there would be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people there, and that he planned to wear a mask in most cases out of an abundance of caution.
''When you're not sure, my personal advice is wear a mask,'' the mayor said, adding ''we've done it, for god's sakes, for a year, we can do it a little bit longer to finish the job.''
In the coming weeks, major venues like Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden will be opening or raising capacity at indoor concerts, shows and sporting events. Patrons will have to show either a paper vaccination card, the New York State digital Excelsior Pass or another digital form to enter or, in venues that allow unvaccinated attendees who test negative for the virus, to sit in vaccinated sections.
Restaurants will be allowed to place tables closer together to reach 100 percent capacity if five-foot-tall solid partitions are placed between them, Mr. Cuomo said. But some restaurants feel that using partitions compromises the dining experience, and Plexiglas can be expensive.
Mia Jacobs, a 23-year-old who lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said the reopening feels ''hopeful.'' She works in social media in the restaurant and hospitality industry, and said she hopes that with the lifting of restrictions, ''people will feel more encouraged to go to the restaurants they've been wanting to go to for an entire year.''
Even though she is fully vaccinated, Ms. Jacobs said she would probably continue to wear a mask, and that it would take time for her to get reacquainted with being surrounded by many people.
Mr. Cuomo said Wednesday that effective immediately that child care programs, and day and overnight camps, must conduct daily health screenings for all staff and visitors, including daily temperature checks. Unvaccinated people 2 and older must wear face masks unless they are eating, showering, swimming or sleeping, he said. Staff members who have not been vaccinated should stay six feet away from vaccinated staff, and each program or camp should have a capacity limit specific to their property that allows people to stay socially distanced.
Still, the lifting of restrictions meant to curb the spread of a virus that devastated the city comes as a welcome sign of New York's progress. Cases are plummeting as more New Yorkers get shots '-- about 43 percent of people in New York State are fully vaccinated, according to C.D.C. data. Nationally, about 38 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, as of Wednesday.
Mr. Rao, the restaurant owner, said ''it was tough'' doing temperature checks and contact tracing throughout the pandemic. ''I think we are over that now,'' he said. ''I hope to God this is over.''
'-- Bryan Pietsch, Sharon Otterman, Daniel E. Slotnik and Mihir Zaveri
People waiting to receive their second dose of Covishield vaccine in Kolkata, India, last week, which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Credit... Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters The vaccination woes of some of the world's poorest nations will continue as the Serum Institute of India, a crucial manufacturing pillar in the plan to supply two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to low-income countries, signaled that it would not be able to provide vaccines beyond India before the year's end.
The revelation, tucked into a statement by the vaccine manufacturing giant that attempted to deflect mounting criticism, was another setback for Covax, the global vaccine partnership for the poor. It is already more than 140 million doses behind schedule, and the Serum Institute's announcement suggested it was all but impossible to meet the goal of two billion doses by the end of the year.
The announcement once again underscored the glaring contrast of inequality: As some of the richer nations tout levels of vaccinations that allow them to reopen their society, most of the poorer nations have barely gotten a start.
''We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritize India,'' the Serum Institute of India said in the statement on Tuesday. ''We also hope to start delivering to Covax and other countries by the end of this year.''
The Serum Institute's manufacturing capacity is at the heart of Covax, run by a global alliance that includes the World Health Organization. The institute received hundreds of millions of dollars to expand its facilities and manufacture the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, licensed to it with the commitment that a large share would go to poor nations.
As part of its plan to have two billion doses by the end of the year, Covax has been counting on hundreds of millions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute, as well as hundreds of millions of a second vaccine being developed with an American company, Novavax.
After India's devastating second wave of coronavirus infections, the institute diverted all its manufacturing powers to domestic needs, falling behind on commitments to the Covax partnership as well as on bilateral commercial deals with many countries. The institute played down each delay as temporary. But Tuesday's statement makes clear it is unlikely to meet commitments before the end of the year.
So far, the Covax alliance has supplied only 65 million vaccines, spread across 124 countries, according to the World Health Organization. The W.H.O. said the global alliance was already 140 million doses behind and likely to miss another 50 million doses in June.
''Once the devastating outbreak in India recedes, we also need the Serum Institute of India to get back on track and catch up on its delivery commitments to Covax,'' said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the chief of W.H.O.
For its part, the Serum Institute has said its failure in international commitments has been due to the scale of the demand in India.
But India's vaccination drive has been slow and is facing shortages despite all of Serum's production capacity. Vaccinating a nation of 1.4 billion was always going to be a mammoth task that has been made more difficult by the government's mismanagement of the crisis.
India has administered about 180 million doses of vaccines, or only about 5 percent of the country's adult population. The vaccination rate has fallen to about 1.8 million doses a day, which means it would take the country more than three years to vaccinate 80 percent of its population.
'-- Sameer Yasir
Protesters performed during a demonstration by entertainment and cultural workers outside the occupied Od(C)on Theater in Paris last month. Credit... Stephane De Sakutin/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images While many cultural attractions in France were reopening on Wednesday as coronavirus restrictions were partially lifted, about a hundred state-funded theaters around the country remained under occupation by protesters, most of them actors, theater workers and students, forcing some institutions to cancel shows and raising worries of a prolonged crisis.
When the demonstrators first occupied theaters in Paris, Strasbourg and elsewhere several months ago, reopening theaters was one of their main demands, but now the protests may be keeping them closed. The anger has since coalesced around larger complaints that have pitted cultural workers against the French government, especially over an unpopular overhaul of unemployment benefits. The protesters, who worry that they will lose leverage and visibility if they move out, have vowed to continue their occupations.
The Od(C)on Theater in Paris, one of the main protest points, said this week that it had no choice but to cancel performances of ''The Glass Menagerie'' by Tennessee Williams, featuring Isabelle Huppert, as long as the 40 or so protesters continued to occupy the space day and night.
St(C)phane Braunschweig, the director of the theater, said in a statement on Tuesday that it was impossible to stage evening shows with adequate safety and sanitary conditions if the occupation continued, and that his offer to let the protesters occupy the theater during the daytime only had been rejected.
Last week, after the government announced new subsidies and measures to support cultural workers, Mr. Braunschweig and the directors of other large state-funded theaters in Lyon, Nice and in Marseille, where shows were canceled at the Cri(C)e Theater this week, had called for the occupations to end.
''The social struggle, whatever its legitimacy, cannot for us prevent the resumption of cultural life,'' they wrote in a joint statement.
Protesters at the Od(C)on accused the director of refusing to consider solutions that would let the occupation continue alongside performances.
''Management is trying to place the blame of the cancellation on us even though we are asking exactly the opposite,'' Denis Gravouil, a representative for the C.G.T. union, told reporters in front of the theater on Wednesday.
Mr. Gravouil noted that theaters were opening at below half capacity because of coronavirus restrictions, meaning that many actors and technicians still couldn't resume their jobs, and he said the government hadn't fully addressed the pandemic-related loss of income for many of them.
''We don't want to block shows, we want everyone to work,'' he said.
'-- Aurelien Breeden
A vaccination in Castrop-Rauxel, Germany, on Wednesday. Credit... Friedemann Vogel/EPA, via Shutterstock When a young woman showed up at Hamburg's giant Covid vaccination site last week, the city officials who check whether people are eligible were skeptical.
She was in her mid 20s; shots are being given mainly to those 60 and older. But she said she qualified for an exemption because she was caring for her infirm mother and produced a form to make her case. Without a signature from her mother, the form was invalid and the officials turned her away. But she returned quickly, a little too quickly, with the document signed.
This time she claimed to have a sister who was vaccinated for the same reason, but a spot check of inoculation records showed that to be false as well.
''She could not get out of here fast enough,'' said Martin Helfrich, a spokesman for the city who witnessed the scene.
Officials at the center have become adept at spotting people who are trying the most un-German of activities: cutting in line. At state-run sites like the one in Hamburg, those over 60, those with pre-existing conditions and frontline workers are allowed to get shots. But officials at the Hamburg center recently reported that roughly 2,000 ineligible people had sought shots in just one week, either because they did not understand the rules '-- or were trying to cheat.
In a country that prides itself on keeping order, the news was shocking enough to make national headlines.
Even Chancellor Angela Merkel waited her turn. She was vaccinated in April and only once people of her age bracket '-- she is 66 '-- were eligible. Ugur Sahin, the 55-year-old chief executive of BioNTech, the German company that designed the Pfizer vaccine, has said he will also wait his turn.
'-- Christopher F. Schuetze
Employees and customers wearing masks inside Jesus Barber Shop Beauty and Nails in the South Bronx. Credit... Desiree Rios for The New York Times New York City businesses, and the workers who make them run, have had to navigate shifting regulations from the city and state since the start of the pandemic. For many of those businesses, the struggle for safety was paired with the struggle for solvency.
Most of those regulations came to an end on Wednesday, when the state removed most capacity restrictions from businesses statewide and adopted federal guidelines that allow people who have been vaccinated to largely eschew masks, indoors and out, in most situations.
The reaction from many city dwellers was cautious, after more than a year in which the city's known virus death toll climbed to more than 33,000 people. Workers at many businesses around the five boroughs expressed similar reluctance to leap back into normal behavior.
Chris Polanco, 32, a clerk at Melrose Hardware in the Bronx, said he will keep his mask and the plastic curtain in front of the cash register, and would continue asking people to mask up in his store, offering masks to people who do not have them.
''You never know if they're vaccinated or not, unless they have their papers, and there are forgeries,'' Mr. Polanco said.
Caution also prevailed in much of the Corona neighborhood of Queens, one of the hardest-hit areas in the country.
Irene DeBenedittis owns Leo's Latticini, an Italian deli there. She said that even though she and her staff had been vaccinated she planned to keep requiring masks, as a courtesy and a precaution.
''I am a bit confused about the rules, and also concerned about the customer,'' Ms. DeBenedittis said. ''For now, we are keeping the mask on so we feel safe and our customers feel safe too.''
Representatives for far larger groups of workers also said they planned to move slowly.
Robert W. Newell Jr., the president of a union that represents 17,000 workers, mainly in supermarkets and food production, said, ''I've asked everyone to keep their masks on, at least for another couple of weeks.''
One of the city's largest employers, its municipal government, will also keep masks for now, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday morning.
Of course it is difficult to distinguish who has and has not been vaccinated. ''Vaccine passports'' like New York State's Excelsior Pass are not widely in use, and many consider a vaccine honor code flimsy. Even if proof of vaccination is bolstered somehow, it may be harder for individual business owners to enforce mask rules when they are no longer universal.
Rebecca Robertson, executive producer of the Park Avenue Armory, said the indoor performance venue would retain its strict masking policy for Wednesday's opening night performance of ''Afterwardsness,'' a modern dance piece in which patrons sit nine feet apart.
The venue plans to continue to require all audience members to wear masks for the foreseeable future.
Ms. Robertson noted that the state continues to strongly recommend masking when a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people are together indoors, which to her is just a shade below a requirement.
''If the government says to you it is strongly recommended, for us it's like a mandate,'' Ms. Robertson said.
Not all businesses were so hesitant '-- some have spurned the rules for much of the pandemic.
One of them is Mac's Public House, a Staten Island tavern that became a symbol of much of the borough's defiance to virus regulations when it refused to follow the governor's curfew and indoor dining bans last year.
The bar lost its liquor license and was told to close, but kept serving customers indoors, channeling the defiance that many Staten Islanders held for the regulations. Danny Presti, Mac's manager, was arrested twice, and the bar was finally closed down.
On Wednesday Mr. Presti seethed as nearby restaurants and bars reopened while Mac's remained padlocked.
''It's frustrating,'' Mr. Presti said. ''It's not like I was this lifelong criminal, it was all for businesses, bringing attention to the situation.''
Nate Schweber, Sharon Otterman, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura and Sadef Ali Kully contributed reporting.
'-- Daniel E. Slotnik
One of Emergent BioSolutions' plants in Baltimore last April. The biotech company awarded cash bonuses of up to $1.2 million to its top executives last year. Credit... Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Emergent BioSolutions, the biotech company whose Baltimore plant ruined millions of coronavirus vaccine doses, awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses to its top executives last year, and the company's board praised its founder and chairman for ''leveraging his critical relationships with key customers, Congress, and other stakeholders,'' according to documents released Wednesday by a House subcommittee.
The government, which awarded the firm a $628 million contract last year, has so far paid Emergent $271 million, even though U.S. regulators have yet to clear a single dose of vaccine produced at its manufacturing plant in Baltimore, according to the documents released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in advance of a hearing on Wednesday.
Production at the plant was halted a month ago after workers accidentally contaminated a batch of vaccine, forcing Emergent to discard the equivalent of up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine.
Records from an Emergent board of directors compensation meeting offer a rare glimpse inside a politically connected federal contractor whose business is built largely around a single customer: the United States government.
The documents reflect earlier reporting by The New York Times, including a series of confidential audits that highlighted repeated violations of manufacturing standards at the Baltimore plant, including failure to properly disinfect the plant and protect against contamination of vaccine batches. Another report in June 2020, by a top manufacturing expert for the federal government, warned that Emergent lacked trained staff and adequate systems for quality control.
Emergent's board gave top performance ratings to those in its leadership ranks, including the company's founder and chairman, Fuad El-Hibri, and its chief executive, Robert G. Kramer, who testified before the House panel. At the hearing, the chief executive of Emergent disclosed for the first time on Wednesday that more than 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine are now on hold as regulators check them for potential contamination, and apologized to members of Congress.
An Emergent spokesman, Matt Hartwig, said in a statement Wednesday morning that the company executives ''look forward to clarifying misconceptions and addressing concerns'' of members of Congress. ''We recognize that our role in helping the nation respond to, and hopefully end, the Covid-19 pandemic is a profound and unique responsibility, unlike any we have confronted before,'' he added.
The board lauded executives for their ''exemplary overall 2020 corporate performance including significantly outperforming revenue and earnings targets.''
Since 2018, Mr. El-Hibri and his wife, Nancy, have donated at least $150,000 to groups affiliated with the top Republican on the panel, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, as well as Mr. Scalise's campaigns. At least two other members of the subcommittee received donations during the 2020 election cycle from the company's political action committee, which has given about $1.4 million over the past 10 years to members of both parties.
Mr. Kramer received a $1.2 million cash bonus, the records show; the board found that he had ''significantly exceeded expectations.'' Three of the company's executive vice presidents received bonuses ranging from $445,000 to $462,000 each.
Sean Kirk, the executive responsible for overseeing development and manufacturing operations at all of Emergent's manufacturing sites, received a special bonus of $100,000 last year, over and above his regular bonus of $320,611, in recognition of his ''exceptional performance in 2020,'' and for significantly expanding the company's contract manufacturing capability to address Covid-19, the documents show. After the discovery that workers had accidentally contaminated a batch of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine with the virus used to produced another vaccine at the same plant, the company said Mr. Kirk had taken personal leave from his job.
Mr. El-Hibri, who was praised for leveraging his connections, cashed in stock worth $42 million last year, according to an investigation by The Times.
Over the past two decades, Emergent has grown from a fledgling biotech company into a firm with annual revenues that last year topped $1.5 billion. Much of its success has come from selling products aimed at thwarting a bioterrorist attack, including its anthrax vaccine, to the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation's emergency medical reserve.
The $628 million contract, awarded by the Trump administration nearly a year ago, was mostly to reserve space at Emergent's Baltimore plant for vaccine manufacturing. The contract was approved by a former Trump administration official, Dr. Robert Kadlec, who previously consulted for Emergent.
The documents show that Emergent retained Dr. Kadlec to serve as a consultant from 2012 through 2015, agreeing to pay him $120,000 annually over that three-year period. In return, Dr. Kadlec agreed to provide advice on ''international biosecurity and biodefense related issues to Emergent BioSolutions,'' including outreach to senior government officials in Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Dr. Kadlec has said that while he did not negotiate the contract, he did sign off on it. The documents also show that last August he recommended that Emergent be given a ''priority rating'' so that suppliers would give preference to its requests.
Rebecca R. Ruiz contributed reporting.
'-- Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Sharon LaFraniere
Tourists in Athens this month. New European rules for travelers could go into effect as early as next week. Credit... Louisa Gouliamaki/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images BRUSSELS '-- The European Union agreed on Wednesday to reopen its borders to visitors who have been fully vaccinated with an approved shot and to those coming from a list of countries considered safe from a coronavirus perspective, permitting broader travel just in time for the summer tourism season.
Ambassadors from the 27 member states of the European Union endorsed a plan that would allow visits from tourists and other nonessential travelers, who have been mostly barred from entering the bloc for more than a year.
The move has been seen as an economic imperative for tourism-dependent countries such as Greece and Spain, and it has been months in the works. Other E.U. nations that are less reliant on tourists for jobs and income, particularly in northern Europe, had been eager to maintain higher barriers for nonessential visitors to keep the coronavirus at bay. But they relented as vaccinations advanced and after they were promised the ability to reverse course if cases surge again.
The new rules are set to become formal policy next week after clearing some bureaucratic hurdles, and, depending on how well each country has prepared to welcome tourists, could be implemented immediately. Some countries, like Greece, have already said that they will remove testing and quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors. But most countries are likely to implement such changes more slowly and conservatively.
Under the E.U. plan, the bloc would accept visitors who have completed their immunization at least two weeks before their arrival, using one of the shots approved by its own regulator or by the World Health Organization. That covers the vaccines from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinopharm, according to a draft of the rules seen by The New York Times. That would open the door to immunized Americans, who have been receiving shots from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer.
Some experts recently cautioned that restarting international tourism could be premature.
Dr. Sarah Fortune, the chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that reopening areas to vaccinated tourists was a calculated risk.
''My doomsday scenario,'' she said, ''is a mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in a setting where there is high viral load and high viral transmission.''
Countries like Greece, Iceland and Croatia had opened to tourists from the United States and other countries before the bloc's announcement.
Greece, where hospitality and tourism make up a large portion of the economy, was especially intent on reopening. Incoming tourists have to be vaccinated or present a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before their arrival, but they do not have to quarantine.
''Unfortunately, after more than 10 years of economic hardship, tourism and food is our only industry,'' said Kostas Tzilialis, a co-owner and co-worker at a cafe and bookshop in Athens. ''We don't produce cars or machines. So we have to open our industry right now. Let's hope that people will be careful and the vaccines will protect us.''
European Union member states will retain the freedom to tweak these measures if they want to take a more conservative approach, meaning that some European countries could retain demands for negative PCR tests or quarantines for certain visitors.
The bloc will also maintain an emergency-brake option, a legal tool that will allow it to quickly snap back to more restrictive travel conditions if a threatening new variant or other Covid emergency emerges.
Paige McClanahan and Stephen Hiltner contributed reporting.
'-- Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Monika Pronczuk
People with breathing problems receiving free oxygen support in Delhi last month. Credit... Atul Loke for The New York Times India recorded 4,529 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the pandemic's highest single known daily death toll in any country so far, the authorities said on Wednesday, as the virus spread into the country's vast hinterlands.
The previous deadliest day for a single country was recorded in the United States in January, when 4,468 people died.
Many experts believe the true number of deaths and infections in India, a country of 1.4 billion people, is even higher, and evidence has emerged across the country of large numbers of people dying from Covid who have not been officially counted.
India reported 267,000 new cases on Tuesday, pushing the official case tally past 25 million, with more than 280,000 deaths.
While infections seem to be slowing down in some of India's urban centers, including New Delhi and Mumbai, the virus is spreading in the countryside. Testing there is limited, the medical infrastructure is woefully underfunded and overwhelmed, and some leaders have been trying to downplay the damage, sometimes even criminalizing cries for help.
Experts warn that a drop in new daily cases is likely to be a reflection of the success of urban lockdowns, and that the virus is still spreading elsewhere unchecked. Hospitals remain short of supplies, and the vaccination campaign has been slow. The death toll has remained over 4,000 for several days, suggesting that even if new infections are decreasing in urban centers, those infected earlier are dying.
The virus has taken a heavy toll on India's doctors and medical workers as well.
More than 1,000 doctors have died of Covid since the pandemic began last year. The rate of deaths has been much higher, and the age of victims often much younger, since the second wave of infections started this spring. More than 260 doctors have died since April, according to the Indian Medical Association.
'-- Mujib Mashal
9 Dating Apps Partner With White House in Latest Scheme to Boost Slumping Vaccine Rates ' Children's Health Defense
Sat, 22 May 2021 10:32
The federal government has previously partnered with NASCAR, the NFL, MLB, country music organizations, McDonalds, Uber and Lyft, AT&T, Instacart, Target, Trader Joe's and Chobani to make perks available exclusively to those who get the vaccine.
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The White House is partnering with nine popular dating apps to entice Americans to get vaccinated by offering special incentives to users who have received their COVID shot.
In an attempt to overcome vaccine hesitancy, Match, Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, Bumble and Badoo will give vaccinated users access to premium content and a host of perks including boosts, super likes and special stickers displayed on their profile that show that they have received their shot, Forbes reported.
Users will also be able to filter potential matches by vaccination status or book vaccination appointments through the apps. Promotional campaigns on the apps will launch in the coming weeks and run until the July 4 Independence Day holiday.
''Human connection is so vital for healthy lives '-- it's why I am so committed to this business,'' said Shar Dubey, CEO of Match Group. ''We are honored to work with the White House on increasing vaccinations across America, which will allow people to once again meet in person and engage in meaningful ways. This will make dating safer for everyone, everywhere.
For many users across Match Group's dating platforms, COVID vaccinations are seen as vital for singles to be able to date safely in person, the company said, adding that users this year have proactively posted about their vaccine status and view this as an important component of compatibility.
According to research from OKCupid, vaccinated users or those who plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more matches than people who don't,'' the White House told reporters in a fact sheet Thursday.
The White House's partnership with popular dating apps is its latest attempt to reach the vaccine hesitant as vaccination rates plateau.
Previously, the administration has partnered with NASCAR, the NFL, MLB, country music organizations, McDonalds, Uber and Lyft, AT&T, Instacart, Target, Trader Joe's, Chobani, rural organizations and social media companies, while targeting Black and Latino Americans through additional advertising.
Many states, including Ohio, New York and Maryland have offered million-dollar lottery drawings to incentivize residents to get vaccinated. Albertsons, Target, Raytheon, Jabil and AT&T have all offered financial incentives, free Lyft rides to vaccine appointments, or on-site clinics for employees and family members.
At Amazon, employees who show proof of vaccination receive an $80 bonus and new-hires receive $100 if they're vaccinated. Colleges are giving out a wide range of freebies '-- gift cards, T-shirts, free courses, housing and cash for students who show proof of COVID vaccination.
Some states, including New Jersey and Washington, are offering free alcohol to entice people to get their COVID shot. Budweiser is pouring free beer if you can prove your vaccine status.
On April 20, District of Columbia marijuana activists staged Joints for Jabs and handed out free joints outside the city's vaccination sites. On May 13, New Orleans gave vaccine recipients at one local clinic a free pound of crawfish.
Krispy Kreme is offering a free glazed doughnut to anyone who shows their COVID vaccinated record card.
McDonald's will promote COVID vaccine information on its coffee cups as part of its partnership with the White House. The fast-food chain announced it was redesigning its McCafe cups and delivery seal stickers to feature art from the national ''We Can Do This'' campaign, a slogan created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promote COVID vaccinations across America.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said thanks to the government's partnership with McDonalds, ''people will now be able to get trusted information about vaccines when they grab a cup of coffee or order a meal.''
How The Biden White House Learned To Stop Wearing Masks : NPR
Sat, 22 May 2021 15:54
The White House has held a couple bigger events this week following new guidance that fully vaccinated individuals don't need to wear masks or social distance. One such event was the signing of the Hate Crimes Act on Thursday. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images The White House has held a couple bigger events this week following new guidance that fully vaccinated individuals don't need to wear masks or social distance. One such event was the signing of the Hate Crimes Act on Thursday.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images What a difference a vaccine makes (that, and CDC guidance saying vaccinated people can safely do just about anything mask-free). At the Biden White House, which remained a COVID-cautious bubble longer than many corners of the country, it's like 2019 all over again, with large and largely mask-free events in the East Room both Thursday and Friday.
The White House is opening up as the rest of the country sorts through what the latest guidance means and how it applies to them. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people can be indoors or outdoors without masks, the mask rules still apply in some settings.
Critics, including some health care professionals, worry broadly that without requiring proof of protection, the swing in guidance could disincentivize vaccinations. Others worry children who are too young to be vaccinated could be left exposed if people who aren't vaccinated ditch their masks as well.
In the highly vaccinated bubble of the White House, though, the administration is embracing the guidance change.
President Biden honored Army Col. Ralph Puckett with the Medal of Honor at the White House on Friday. Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images President Biden honored Army Col. Ralph Puckett with the Medal of Honor at the White House on Friday.
Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images At a Medal of Honor ceremony for Korean War veteran Col. Ralph Puckett Jr., about 60 people were in the room. The 94-year-old Puckett stood without his walker as President Biden put the medal around his neck and moved in close to whisper in his ear.
Biden, who before the pandemic lingered on handshakes and was known as a close-talker, has seemingly returned to form, embracing mask-free freedom.
"Get the family up here, all of you, including the grandkids," Biden said, as more than a dozen family members piled on stage for a photo around a seated Puckett. Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in got down on one knee on either side of him as Biden directed family members to make sure everyone was visible in the shot.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and President Biden pose with Col. Ralph Puckett and his family during a Medal of honor ceremony at the White House on Friday. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images The scene was similar on Thursday, when 68 people were on-hand for a bill signing. Cabinet secretaries, senior aides and members of Congress milled about before the event, most without masks, putting arms around each other, laughing. It was a perfectly normal scene straight out of non-pandemic times and a stark contrast from the early days of the Biden administration.
Guests mingle before President Biden arrives to a signing ceremony for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images For the first 113 days or so, at the Biden White House, lecterns were wiped down between speakers, social distancing and double masking were the norm. They were so serious about avoiding large gatherings, staff would count how many people were in the room for a meeting, and often they'd gather via Zoom from neighboring offices. This continued even as the vast majority of staff got vaccinated.
It all changed, rather suddenly, when the CDC announced last week that fully vaccinated people could eschew their masks. White House aides were told via email shortly after the announcement that they were no longer required to wear masks in the office. The mood was celebratory, with newly visible smiles all around.
Since then, a White House that had been criticized for being slow to model the benefits of fully vaccinated life moved fast to embrace it.
"I can confirm we are a warm and fuzzy crew and we like to hug around here, but we were waiting for that to be allowed by CDC guidelines, which we certainly abide by," press secretary Jen Psaki said at Friday's press briefing.
White House staff tweeted from mask-free meetings that would have been conducted virtually just weeks earlier.
Vaccinated members of the press corps also dropped their masks in televised briefings. Psaki said Friday that "having more events with more people" and "welcoming back a full briefing room very soon" would all be part of returning to a new normal as an increasing share of the population gets vaccinated and COVID case numbers fall.
The maskless images from the White House were jarring for some Americans watching from home (and commenting on social media). CDC Director Rochelle Walensky acknowledged that the transition will take time during a press briefing on Friday.
"When we released our guidelines ... and the science said it was safe to do so, we also acknowledge that not everybody is going to feel like it's time to rip off their masks," she said.
Asked how the White House is tracking vaccinations among those who attend events at the White House or press briefings, Psaki said, "That's not the role we're going to play." She said the guidance from the CDC was about how people can protect themselves, and vaccinated people are protected from COVID-19, no mask needed.
"The real question is how will people who are not yet vaccinated protect themselves?" Psaki said.
Belgium's anti-lockdown 'Rambo' facing terrorism charges, TRACELESS for 5 days while several countries join manhunt efforts '-- RT World News
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:03
Hundreds of troops from Belgium, and beyond, have now thoroughly searched a vast area in the country where a fugitive soldier armed with highly dangerous weapons is believed to be hiding. However, no trace of him has been found.
A well-trained sniper from the Belgian army, Jurgen Conings, who has combat experience in several war zones including Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, disappeared on Monday. Having reportedly left life-threatening notes to several top officials, the 46-year-old man is believed to have taken several anti-tank missiles, a submachine gun and a handgun with an ability to pierce bulletproof vests from his unit's ammunition depot. He himself is believed to be wearing the vest.
Conings is now a ''terrorist suspect,'' according to Belgian media. The federal prosecutor's office has been investigating him for ''attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons in a terrorist context,'' the VRT broadcaster reported. Authorities also believe the suspect has not been ''acting on impulse,'' but is rather well-prepared.
Also on rt.com Belgium deploys military in manhunt for heavily armed 'far-right' soldier who decried life under 'politicians & virologists' Throughout the week, some 400 Belgian troops, from both the army and the police, have been rigorously searching the Hoge Kempen National Park in the Belgian province of Limburg. Helicopters, armored cars and trucks were deployed for the manhunt, while hundreds searched the nature reserve meter by meter equipped with thermal cameras. Forces from Germany and the Netherlands have been mobilized, as the area where Conings is believed to be hiding borders these countries. Dutch special units are also on standby on their side of the border in case the man tries to cross.
A number of mosques in the Limburg province have closed, local media reported, due to the heavily armed man's known far-right extremist views.
Police have been listening through phone calls and looking at CCTV camera footage, but Conings ''seems to be completely disconnected from the world,'' Belgium's VRT broadcaster reported. His girlfriend appealed to Conings on local television, asking him to ''make sure it stops'' and not to hurt anyone.
Earlier, a car belonging to the suspect was found. The military man, who had also been training other soldiers for foreign missions, has reportedly booby-trapped his vehicle with four rocket launchers inside. A grenade with a set of wires linking it to the car's doors are said to have been discovered. There have also been reports that Conings left his service medals on his parents' grave, with sources suggesting he did it on Tuesday.
Conings' girlfriend, Gwendy, is reported to be the one who alerted the authorities to her partner's disappearance on Monday. She reportedly discovered several letters left behind, with local media quoting Conings as writing he ''could no longer live in a society where politicians and virologists have taken everything away from us,'' so he ''would join the resistance and would not surrender.''
The trained soldier also reportedly made threatening notes to the country's Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder who is now under extra protection, VRT reported. ''You trained me to become who I am, I am now going to use that against you,'' the fugitive sniper reportedly wrote. He is also said to have threatened Belgium's chief virologist Marc Van Ranst, now in charge of anti-Covid measures, and has been seen in the vicinity of the official's home.
''He's been preparing for his action for days, and it turns out that he was effectively close to his target on Monday night, staying [near Van Ranst's house] for more than two hours,'' Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne said, as quoted by De Morgen.
According to Het Nieuwsblad, claiming to have seen Conings' letters, he wrote, ''I know that I will suddenly be the enemy of the state. They will look for me and find me after a while'... I don't care if I die or not, but then it will be my way.''
As of Saturday morning, no signs of Conings appear to have been found, and local media reported they had been moved further away from the command post. They also said a major column of military vehicles had left the area, with only a small police presence remaining, however it is yet unclear whether search efforts are being relocated.
Meanwhile, the evasive terrorist suspect has been gaining popularity on social media.
Facebook groups with thousands of members openly support Conings, while a petition has been launched on a popular platform to ''let Jurgen live.'' Belgium's Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden has criticized such sympathy. ''People who make him a hero, or a Rambo character or a movie hero, they are mistaken, I think,'' she said in an interview for local television, adding, ''That man is indeed dangerous and has very dangerous intentions.''
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Mask Psychosis: NYT Confirms The Liberal Mask Cult Is Here to Stay - Revolver
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:35
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All at once, the powers that be want Covid-19 to be finished. Mere weeks ago, the CDC wanted Americans to wear face masks almost everywhere they went. Now, masks are out. The CDC says people with vaccines no longer need to wear them. They've become optional in Virginia and in Andrew Cuomo's authoritarian bailiwick of New York. It's amazing what one month of really bad jobs numbers can do to the science.
Whatever its political shortcomings, the Biden administration wants the country reopened and things (mostly) back to normal so they can reap the political dividends of undoing the calamitous lockdowns that liberal ideology created in the first place.
There's just one problem: The regime's propaganda was too effective. Millions of loyal cattle are too traumatized to go back to their old way of life. In a recent poll conducted by The Hill, forty-two percent of registered voters and a majority of Democrats said that, regardless of advice from the CDC or other health officials, everybody should still wear masks outdoors no matter what:
For a great many on the left, if not an outright majority, mask mania has become a deeply personal commitment. Despite all the babbling for a year about ''trusting the science,'' when the official science says to stop wearing masks, millions of the Globalist American Empire's cattle are proving more loyal to masks than to science. In fact, as a recent MIT investigation discovered, vaccine and mask skeptics are more likely to have seriously weighed the science in question.
MIT researchers 'infiltrated' a Covid skeptics community a few months ago and found that skeptics place a high premium on data analysis and empiricism.
"Most fundamentally, the groups we studied believe that science is a process, and not an institution."https://t.co/jsoAG8G2VT pic.twitter.com/CpEvCKz2HK
'-- commie lee jones (@commieleejones) May 10, 2021
What is happening right now with masks isn't science. It's a new cult, created through a mix of political pressure and old-fashioned terror. This cult, created almost by accident, is now too entrenched and too powerful to be turned off by the people who created it.
Even now, step outside in New York City and more than half the passersby will be masked up, CDC and vaccination status be damned. A New York Times article released Monday profiled the sad story of Americans so mentally broken they plan to keep wearing masks, possibly forever.
Whenever Joe Glickman heads out for groceries, he places an N95 mask over his face and tugs a cloth mask on top of it. He then pulls on a pair of goggles.
He has used this safety protocol for the past 14 months. It did not change after he contracted the coronavirus last November. It didn't budge when, earlier this month, he became fully vaccinated. And even though President Biden said on Thursday that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear a mask, Mr. Glickman said he planned to stay the course.
In fact, he said, he plans to do his grocery run double-masked and goggled for at least the next five years. [New York Times]
The saddest thing of all about Glickman's routine is that it didn't even work. He still got the coronavirus (and presumably, like most Americans, was barely affected). Yet he doggedly persists in this hypochondriac religious ritual, and plans to keep at it for years to come.
According to the Times, Glickman and others like him are motivated by the existence of a ''sizable faction of vaccine holdouts.''
''I'm in no hurry; why should I be in a hurry?'' said Mr. Jones, who became fully vaccinated about a month and a half ago. Until New York City reaches a higher level of vaccination '-- just 40 percent are completely vaccinated '-- he believes it's too risky to unmask.
From a supposed science-based perspective, this is incoherent. The vaccine is supposed to render one immune to the virus; those who choose to forego the vaccine are only endangering themselves. Yet everywhere, America is flooded with vaccinated Americans who profess to live in terror of the unvaccinated amongst them.
I wear a mask that says "Fully Vaxxed and Ready to Party" with "Party" Xed out and below it "well, keep wearing a mask and social distance".
I don't trust strangers. I don't care if you tell me you're fully vaxxed. I don't trust you. And you shouldn't trust me. (But I am.) pic.twitter.com/FZU5wUbA5e
'-- Leslie JÅratė (She/Her/Hers) (@EsmereldaPea) May 13, 2021
I'm fully vaccinated. But I'm still wearing a mask
'-- Michael Rao (@Mikepike5Rao) May 17, 2021
Some acknowledge that the mask is simply an ideological totem. Like slapping a COEXIST bumper sticker on your Prius, the mask is a sign that one's ideology is regime-compliant.
I feel like this is something you can especially understand if you're in a very liberal area where 99% of the people you see are wearing masks.
'-- David Hogg (@davidhogg111) May 14, 2021
But for many mask zealots, the commitment to the mask is genuine. Last week, in concert with the CDC's revised guidance, Trader Joe's announced that it would no longer require masks inside its stores. The reaction of some customers online can only be accurately described as deranged.
36 % of Americans are fully vaccinated. 64 % are not. Unless TJ's demands vaccination credentials at the front door, most people who walk into the store will not have been vaccinated. Without mask requirement, it is no longer safe to shop at TJ's. Very bad idea.
'-- Bob Wainess (@human156) May 14, 2021
Yeah, I know. But for my kids safety, I'll go to the ones that keep the policy for as long as possible. Hopefully vax rates keep going up and infection rates keep going down by the time the last store caves.
'-- Annie 🇺🇸 '® (@AnnieK1221) May 14, 2021
Fascist appeasement.
'-- pjkool (@pjkool) May 14, 2021
The maskers of 2021, who no doubt fancy themselves supporters of ''The Science,'' have created a much more jumbled version of reality. In their moral universe, only masks guard against coronavirus, and the vaccine is entirely useless; receiving it is only a totem of whether one has sword allegiance to The Science or not. It might as well be a tattoo of Dr. Fauci's face.
This is about more than personal signaling. What we are seeing is nothing less than a government-induced psychic collapse inflicted on millions of people. For a year, America's ruling regime blasted non-stop propaganda at the public: Stay indoors, mask up, hide your children, self-isolate, get the vaccine (no matter what your age is), etc. The only acceptable normal activity was mass protest/rioting in support of BLM.
All of this was done cynically, from the very start, because wearing a mask outside was always pointless. As even The New York Times has admitted, the danger of outdoor coronavirus transmission has long been known to be almost non-existent. But the CDC went ahead and recommended it anyway, for months:
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines last month for mask wearing, it announced that ''less than 10 percent'' of Covid-19 transmission was occurring outdoors. Media organizations repeated the statistic, and it quickly became a standard description of the frequency of outdoor transmission.
That benchmark ''seems to be a huge exaggeration,'' as Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at the University of St. Andrews, said. In truth, the share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent, multiple epidemiologists told me. The rare outdoor transmission that has happened almost all seems to have involved crowded places or close conversation. Saying that less than 10 percent of Covid transmission occurs outdoors is akin to saying that sharks attack fewer than 20,000 swimmers a year. [New York Times]
In other words, the science was clear: Outdoor masks were pointless, and the CDC knew it long ago. But for a year, they decided it was useful to teach Americans otherwise.
Why did the CDC, the Biden Administration, and countless state and local governments create this cult in the first place? Above all, it was the need to exert control. The Globalist American Empire's claim to power is based on ''expertise,'' a supposed superiority in knowledge and merit that gives them the right to impose authoritarian diktats on the population (and, if necessary, prohibit public dissent as ''misinformation''). These are turbulent transformational times, and the mask mandates created a false sense of structure and competence, a sense that leaders had the slightest idea what they were doing and weren't just making everything up day to day.
In their bid to control the American public, America's health and safety autocrats stoked the Great Mask Panic. Masking became far more than a piece of health advice. It became a totemic device, a way to divide the good from evildoers.
This need to exert control is still present even now, as the Biden administration flails about trying to reopen the country and stimulate a stagflating economy. For instance, even as the CDC claims that masks are not needed indoors, the TSA is still demanding that Americans remain masked while flying for months to come:
Wearing a face mask will continue to be a requirement at airports, aboard commercial flights and on other public transportation across the country through the summer.
The federal mask mandate, which was set to expire on May 11, will remain in effect through Sept. 13, according to updated guidance issued by the Transportation Security Administration on Friday. [NPR]
What's the supposed ''scientific'' justification for this? There is none. Due to the nature of air circulation inside airplanes, the risk of contracting Covid while on a plane is substantially lower than the risk from almost any other indoor environment.
Airplane circulation (JAMA Network)
The image above dates to October of last year. The science has been available for months. But the airplane mask mandate staggers onward relentlessly, because maintaining it has nothing to do with public health. It's about projecting a sense of control over events and signaling through meaningless gestures. At this point, it may also be about keeping the peace as well. America's frequent-flier class are among the most susceptible to regime propaganda, and among the most fervent acolytes of the new mask cult. Reprogramming them into the new anti-mask narrative will take some time.
The Cult of the Mask reveals the nature of political power in America. Last year, the two great political constants from America's power institutions was mass Covid hysteria (in favor of masks and lockdowns) and massive public agitation for ''racial justice.'' These two causes were in direct conflict with one another, with only three things in common: Both justified stripping once-sacred rights from the American people, both concentrated even more power in the hands of the existing ruling class, and both were built on propaganda rather than reality.
Think about the foremost images of 2020. On the one hand, the BLM/Antifa rioter tearing down statues, looting stores, and terrorizing cities. On the other hand, the meek SWPL dutifully wearing his mask, isolating at home, perhaps refusing to go outside for months. Superficially, the two couldn't be more different: The height of rebellion versus the height of compliance. But think again. Both were actually demonstrating their dependence and fealty to our corrupt Regime.
BLM thought they were attacking the existing power structure, when in reality every powerful institution supported them. Mask cultists believe they were devotees of science, but the exact opposite was true; the only thing they were devoted to was the mask, and the regime. That's the common denominator in all of this: A regime desperate for power and a population of willing if unwitting slaves.
This whole saga shows that power in America doesn't rest with ''the people.'' In a mass democracy such as ours, power rests with those who control the levers of propaganda and mass psychology. Without the mass media apparatus' enthusiastic complicity the spectacle described above would not be possible.
The good news is that both the BLM riots and the anti-scientific mask mania show that this corrupt system is coming apart. The regime has shored up its power, but it has squandered the ultimate root of its authority, legitimacy. By enabling massive riots and suicidal anti-scientific Covid hysteria, the Globalist American Empire has showed that its power is incompatible with a functioning, thriving society. Instead, every consolidation by the regime forces it to reveal its underlying dysfunction.
This system will not be able to pose as a real ''democracy'' for long. Every day, filth becomes more and more visible, and collapse draws closer and closer. Soon, this broken regime will crumble completely, to be replaced by one worthy of the people it governs.
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Sweden Stops using PCR Tests - RNA from Viruses can be Detected for Months After Infection
Sun, 23 May 2021 10:48
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NHS COVID-19 app update blocked by Apple, Google over location privacy fears ' The Register
Sat, 22 May 2021 14:56
An update for the NHS's COVID-19 test-and-trace app for England has been blocked by both Apple and Google because it added the ability for users to store and share location data.
The arm of the National Health Service that developed the app signed an agreement with both tech giants that it would not gather location data through the software in order to protect people's privacy. The latest update, however, allows folks to share a log of places where they have checked-in as a way of warning other users.
Users of the app have been able to scan a QR code when entering a public location or venue such as a shop or restaurant '' many of which are required to display a sign with such a code '' but the data remained on the phone.
When local authorities identified a location as being a hotspot for COVID-19, it would be added to a central database, the mobile app would check to see if user has been near locations in the database, and if so, relay this to the user. The new update, however, would allow users to upload their location data if, for example, a user tested positive and wanted to alert others of where they had been. The update was timed to coincide with a relaxation of lockdown rules in the United Kingdom.
Apple and Google have both decided that this additional data sharing violates the agreement the NHS signed with them, however, and have blocked the new code from being rolled out to handsets. People are still able to download and use the old version.
The UK government's Department of Health has not explained how it managed to develop an entire update without realizing it would be blocked. An FAQ [PDF] written by Google and Apple last year stated clearly its COVID-19 notifications system for apps ''does not share location data from the user's device with the Public Health Authority, Apple, or Google.''
So trying to find a way around that policy decision was unlikely to be welcomed. In an update last week, the government announced the ''venue history sharing'' plan and described it as ''privacy-protecting.'' We were told:
Presumably the Department of Health thought that allowing the sharing to be opt-in and seeking (or pushing) for user action to share the data rather than automating it would be a way around the restriction.
The blunder, reported by the BBC here, reminds us of the UK government's earlier attempts to create an app that would allow data to be stored and shared by fudging a rarely used Bluetooth connectivity feature of the phones' operating systems: an approach that ultimately failed, and the NHS was forced to use special notification APIs set by the tech giants for COVID-19 apps.
It's tempting to view the blocking as another example of how tech companies are more powerful than governments thanks to their control of mobile operating systems on devices that billions of people carry around with them at all times. But in this case, the UK government did sign an agreement and it's not hard to see how the update would break it.
In the meantime, Scotland, for one, has come up with an alternative solution to gathering the same sort of data: it has created an entirely separate app called Check In Scotland that does the same thing but doesn't directly feed into its contact-tracing app called Protect Scotland. ®
EU reaches deal on approving COVID '²travel pass'²
Fri, 21 May 2021 11:40
An agreement between the European Parliament and EU member states paves the way for a "digital COVID certificate" that aims to make travel easier and revive the summer tourism season.
European Union lawmakers and member states on Thursday reached an agreement that would allow anyone in the bloc to obtain a digital proof of coronavirus vaccination status, COVID test results, or recovery from an infection.
Called "green certificates" by the European Commission, the travel pass is designed to allow restriction-free travel within the EU ahead of the busy summer tourist season.
''In a couple of weeks, we will have a unified European digital COVID certificate, which will be recognized all over the EU and will massively simplify cross-border traveling," said Jeroen Lenaers, MEP from the center-right European People's Party bloc, the largest in the European Parliament, which had spearheaded the initiative.
"It is a major success that we have prevented contradictory national procedures and certificates," he added.
How will the pass work?The travel pass will be a QR code on a smartphone or printed on paper.
By accepting the travel pass, member states agree to drop additional travel restrictions, such as further testing or quarantine, unless the measures are necessary.
"This is an important step towards restarting EU free movement as safely as possible, while providing clarity and certainty for our citizens," said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
France, Malta and the Netherlands will be the first EU countries to test out the scheme.
The pilot run involves making sure the digital authentication keys work properly, and the passes are interoperable across systems of different countries.
What held up the deal?The EPP said in a statement that negotiations between the Parliament and member states were complicated "because the Parliament wanted to make it easier for citizens to travel freely again, while the national governments wanted to preserve their national competencies."
As border controls are a national responsibility, EU member states had been reluctant to give up control.
Some also raised concerns about fairness, with only around 10% of EU citizens currently vaccinated, although that figure is now rising rapidly in much of the bloc.
The plan also called for tests to be provided free of charge, and the Commission eased member states' concerns by pledging to set aside '‚¬100 million ($122 million) to purchase COVID tests compatible with the certificates.
Thursday's agreement will still have to be approved at the next European Parliament plenary session set for June 7.
wmr/msh (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country PolandThe Polish government has begun to ease the recent lockdown rules, although some restrictions remain in place until further notice. Many tourist attractions will open again in the next few days and hotels follow from May 8. Restaurants will be allowed to serve food in outdoor areas from May 15, and indoor dining returns from May 29. Nightclubs, however, remain closed until further notice.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country Czech RepublicTravel to the Czech Republic for tourist reasons remains prohibited. After more than half a year, all retail stores are permitted to reopen on May 10. Masks may then be removed outdoors if a distance of two meters can be maintained. Restaurants and hotels, meanwhile, remain closed. Outdoor restaurants are to be allowed to open on May 17.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country FinlandThe Finnish government decided to extend the restrictions on entry into Finland until May 25. Restaurants are expected to reopen this month with limited seating and opening hours. In June the plan is to lift restrictions on public gatherings and allow travel from most other European countries. Travel for business reasons from outside the EU into Finland may be permitted from July.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country SwedenTravelers from most EU countries, and people travelling from non-EU countries who are exempted from the EU's entry ban, will have to show a negative COVID-19 test no older than 48 hours on arrival, or be turned away. These rules will apply until May 31. There is a ban on entry to Sweden from the UK, Denmark and Norway, apart from Swedish citizens and people who live or work in Sweden.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country DenmarkNon-essential tourist travel is still warned against but fully vaccinated people from EU countries '-- including tourists '-- can now enter Denmark. Unlike other travelers, they do not have to show a negative COVID test and they are not subject to testing and quarantine after arrival. Stores are open again in Denmark. Caf(C)s, restaurants and bars are allowed to serve customers outdoors again.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country SwitzerlandTravelers arriving by air must present a negative test no more than 72 hours old and only arrivals from risk areas have to quarantine. Hotels are open, as are museums, stores, theaters, cinemas, zoos and amusement parks. Food and drink can be served on restaurant terraces. Wearing masks is mandatory everywhere. There are no curfews. There are no special concessions for vaccinated persons.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country LuxembourgTravelers from EU and Schengen Area countries can enter Luxembourg without the need to present a negative COVID-19 test unless they arrive by air; since January 29 a negative test must be shown at boarding. Nonessential travel from most third countries is banned. Non-essential shops are open, but bars and restaurants are closed in Luxembourg and there is a curfew from 11 p.m.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country NorwayNorway's borders are closed to all but essential travel. A negative COVID-19 test result is required upon, entry while people from some countries have to take a test upon arrival. Everyone who does arrive in Norway has to register and quarantine for ten days. There are quarantine hotels at major entry points. Quarantine can be reduced to 7 days subject to 2 negative tests after arrival.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country TurkeyAll travelers aged 6 years and above have to show a negative PCR test result before they can enter Turkey and may be subject to health screening when they arrive. A passenger locator form has to be filled out. Until May 17 the country is in full lockdown, meaning residents have to stay indoors except for essential shopping trips and urgent medical treatment.
Restrictions on nonessential travel in Europe '-- country by country CroatiaCroatia is following a traffic light system for travel restrictions and anybody coming from an EU country on the "green list" can enter the country without any restrictions. That's providing they show no symptoms and haven't been in close proximity to an infected person. All other travelers have to show a negative COVID-19 test no older than 48 hours on arrival.
Author: Susan Bonney-Cox
Covid vaccine passports: Everything we know so far
Sun, 23 May 2021 13:37
In this photo illustration, a message saying "COVID-19 PCR test result has been verified, of Travel Pass app mobile application by IATA (International Air Transport Association) seen displayed on a smartphone screen in front of IATA logo.
Pavlo Gonchar | LightRocket | Getty Images
Italy, Iceland, Greece and Spain now allow or are opening their borders to people who've been vaccinated or who recently tested negative for Covid-19. The European Union has agreed to open its borders to more vaccinated tourists, including from the U.S.
The question is: How will individuals prove their vaccine or Covid status?
As of Wednesday, almost half of the total U.S. population had received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose. New Covid infections in the country continue to drop. As of Thursday, the seven-day average of daily new Covid infections is at its lowest level since June 22, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
That trend is helping people return to pre-pandemic activities '-- from concerts to indoor dining to live sporting events and even international travel. Vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or physically distance indoors or out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month.
Retailers like Walmart and Costco and hotel chains including Hyatt dropped their mask requirements for vaccinated customers this month, unless it's required in local rules. U.S. officials have said they are largely relying on people being honest about their vaccine status, and retailers and hotel chains have said they don't plan to check for a proof of a vaccine.
Officials in charge of overseeing international travel require more than the honor system. Federal officials require U.S.-bound international travelers, including U.S. citizens, to show proof of a negative Covid test result to board flights.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said DHS officials don't check passengers' Covid test results upon entry but '-- that is up to the airlines.
As airlines like United, Delta and American ramp up trans-Atlantic service, they are encouraging travelers to upload health documents online.
The travel industry has urged the Biden administration to create a set of standards for digital health credentials in an effort to lift travel restrictions that have devastated demand for leisure and business trips abroad for more than a year. The administration has said it will leave the task of developing digital health credentials up to the private sector. Federal officials also said they don't intend to keep a database of vaccination records; that will be left to states.
Enter digital health apps. Sometimes referred to as vaccine passports, several of these platforms are already in development and some in use, including partnerships with airlines and local governments.
Here is where things stand on vaccine passports in the U.S.:
What is a health passport?Digital health passports '-- also called vaccine passports '-- are platforms for smartphones that allow access to an individual's health data, such as Covid test results or vaccination status. Israel and Denmark have already made platforms available and other countries are working on their own.
When individuals are vaccinated in the U.S., they are given proof in the form of a CDC-issued card. Airlines, which don't want staff to have another piece of traveler information to check, are eyeing digitized versions that could easily be scanned.
Do I need one?The health passports are not mandatory but might become more useful as more countries and attractions reopen.
Countries that have recently opened or plan to open their borders to foreign tourists like Iceland and Greece say travelers must show proof that they are vaccinated against Covid-19 or proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test.
But so far, digital health certificates are not required.
"Certificates may be in paper or electronic format," Sveinn Gudmarsson, communications director at Iceland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, said by email. "Border control will evaluate whether a certificate is valid and will consult a representative of the Chief Epidemiologist [health care worker] as needed."
The U.S. since January has required all inbound travelers from abroad, including citizens, to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, even if they are vaccinated.
In California, venues can allow more people in if the establishment verifies that they have been vaccinated.
Who makes them?There are several platforms already out there. IBM has developed New York State's Excelsior Pass, which was tested at a New York Nets game in February. The app uses blockchain to communicate with state vaccination records or with health providers. The display shows a simple go or no-go sign, not the actual test result.
The International Air Transport Association, a trade group that represents nearly 300 airlines worldwide, has rolled out its own digital health passport. Singapore started accepting Covid-19 test results on that platform this month.
Some airlines like JetBlue Airways have announced trials of another digital health passport by The Commons Project Foundation, which is called Common Pass.
United Airlines recently said it would expand its own app to allow travelers to book Covid-19 test appointments online, results of which will upload automatically and let customers know whether they can travel to their destination.
The European Union and Israel are developing their own digital health certificates.
Why are they controversial?Digital health certificates have drummed up concerns over how secure customers' data will be with third-party apps communicating with databases containing sensitive health information. It has also raised concerns about inequality, since the platforms mainly work on individuals' smartphones.
The governors of Florida, Texas and Arizona have moved to stop businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from customers. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order last month that bans these certificates as a requirement to receive services and said that vaccinations are the choice of individuals not the government.
Even the World Health Organization said it is against requiring proof of a vaccine to enter another country "given the limited (although growing) evidence about the performance of vaccines in reducing transmission and the persistent inequity in the global vaccine distribution."
Will I need to verify vaccination forever?That is still unclear, just as it's not clear when other Covid-era rules like masks on planes or public transportation will last. Even the travel industry, one of the most devastated by the pandemic, has its reservations.
Willie Walsh, former CEO of British Airways' parent International Consolidated Airlines Group, and current director-general of IATA, has said he doesn't want proof of vaccines to become a permanent fixture.
"These are measures that may be necessary as temporary arrangements while we go through this crisis, but once we're through it, we want to see these restrictions permanently removed so people can get back to traveling as they experienced back in 2019," he said earlier this month.
-CNBC's Nate Rattner contributed to this article.
Ivermectin Scandal
Ivermectin Scandal
Black Fungus in India
In the past few weeks, thousands of black fungus cases have been reported across the country, with hundreds hospitalized and at least 90 dead. Two states have declared it an epidemic, and the central government has made it a notifiable disease.
Many of those being infected are coronavirus patients, or those who have recently recovered from Covid-19, whose immune systems have been weakened by the virus or who have underlying conditions -- most notably diabetes.
In the most severe cases, the infection "goes through the blood vessels into the brain," potentially causing loss of eyesight or creating a "gaping hole" in the face, he added. "If not controlled, not treated, it can have a mortality (rate) of anything from 20% to 50%."
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A History of Drug Advertising: The Evolving Roles of Consumers and Consumer Protection
Fri, 21 May 2021 11:47
Milbank Q. 2006 Dec; 84(4): 659''699.
University of Pittsburgh
Address correspondence to: Julie Donohue, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management, 130 DeSoto Street, Crabtree Hall A613, Pittsburgh, PA 15261 (email:
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AbstractDirect-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs in the United States is controversial. Underlying the debate are disagreements over the role of consumers in medical decision making, the appropriateness of consumers engaging in self-diagnosis, and the ethics of an industry promoting potentially dangerous drugs. Drug advertising and federal policy governing drug advertising have both responded to and reinforced changes in the consumer's role in health care and in the doctor-patient relationship over time. This article discusses the history of DTCA in the context of social movements to secure rights for health care patients and consumers, the modern trend toward consumer-oriented medicine, and the implications of DTCA and consumer-oriented medicine for contemporary health policy debates about improving the health care system.
Keywords: Direct-to-consumer advertising, patients, consumers, rights, consumerism, prescription drugs, regulation, Food and Drug Administration, pharmaceutical industry
American consumers are bombarded daily with advertisements for prescription drugs that treat high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, pain, erectile dysfunction, and a host of other conditions. While the majority of pharmaceutical promotional expenditures is still aimed at physicians, spending on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs increased dramatically from $166 million in 1993 to $4.2 billion in 2005 and now makes up nearly 40 percent of total pharmaceutical promotional spending (IMS Health 2006). Moreover, for some drugs, direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) makes up the bulk of promotional spending (Ma et al. 2003).
The increased use of mass media advertising for prescription drugs has been controversial. Opponents of DTCA argue that it misleads consumers into taking costly prescription drugs that they do not need and that in seeking to sell products, pharmaceutical marketers turn normal human experiences with things like hair loss or shyness into diseases (Angell 2004, 123''26; Mintzes 2002). Then, after the September 2004 withdrawal of Vioxx due to evidence of increased cardiovascular risk, critics called for at least a partial ban on DTCA (Saul 2005). In contrast, advocates of DTCA argue that prescription drug ads are an appropriate and highly valued source of information for empowering health care consumers (Bonaccorso and Sturchio 2002; Holmer 1999, 2002).
Underlying this policy debate are profound disagreements over the role of consumers in medical decision making, the appropriateness of consumers engaging in self-diagnosis, and the ethics of an industry promoting potentially dangerous drugs. Over the last three decades, important reforms of the health care system have secured patients' rights to information about treatment options (informed consent) and purchasing decisions. Some bioethicists and historians of the patients' and consumers' rights movements in health care have suggested that the pharmaceutical industry co-opted these movements by means of DTCA, disingenuously using the language of individual rights to support commercial activities (Halpern 2004; Rothman 2001). But these commentaries do not provide a historical perspective on how DTCA came about or what makes it so controversial despite recent expansions of the consumer's role in health care. Similarly, even though histories of DTCA and the regulation of drug advertising have been published (Palumbo and Mullins 2002; Pines 1999), they do not trace the changes in pharmaceutical advertising along with the evolution of the health care consumer. Bringing together the history of the patients' and consumers' rights movements in health care with the history of drug advertising and its regulation should further our understanding of (1) why the pharmaceutical industry, which for decades had focused its promotional efforts solely on physicians, began investing heavily in influencing consumers; (2) why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed DTCA to expand as it did; and (3) why some stakeholders see DTCA as threatening the doctor-patient relationship. While the evolution in the consumers' roles in health care was certainly not the only factor influencing the pharmaceutical industry or the FDA, I argue that it was nonetheless a necessary condition.
In the first section of this article, I define the terms patient and consumer and discuss the movements to bolster the rights of patients and consumers in medical care. Second, I trace the key points in the history of federal drug regulation. Over time, federal regulators have responded to and reinforced changes in the roles of patients and consumers, most notably in how they regulate drug labeling and advertising. The third section of the article follows DTCA from the early 1980s to the present and provides evidence of shifts in the views of consumer groups, physicians' organizations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the Food and Drug Administration during this period. These changing views reflect advances made by the patients' and consumers' rights movements as well as the current challenges facing them. I conclude by exploring the wider implications of DTCA and consumer movements for contemporary health policy debates over how to improve the quality of and access to health care.
Patients and Consumers and Their ''Rights'' to InformationThe central thesis of this article is that the pharmaceutical promotion of prescription drugs to consumers was made possible by the rise of consumer-oriented medicine following the social movements for patients' and consumers' rights. The term consumer-oriented has been used to describe everything from efforts to give individuals more responsibility for their health care expenditures (e.g., consumer-directed health plans) to initiatives to promote shared decision making between doctors and patients. Accordingly, I should explain what I mean by the terms patient, consumer, and consumer-oriented medicine (or consumerism).
My point of departure is Wendy Mariner's legal definition of consumers and patients (1998). According to her, consumers are buyers of goods and services. Although historically patients have also been buyers in that they have paid for some if not all of their health care, they were not considered consumers until recently. A patient is a recipient of a health care service (Mariner 1998). Some people use the term consumer to refer to the buying role (e.g., educating consumers about their health plan choices). Other people use the term as a substitute for patient because the latter term implies subservience to health care professionals, although no economic role is attached to the consumer in this usage.
Whereas the distinction between the terms patient and consumer is often blurred, the differences between the legal rights of patients and consumers are clearer. Furthermore, although entitlement to information is central to both the patients' and consumers' rights movements, the goals of providing this information are different. Mariner (1998) contends that the main tool of consumer protection laws is the disclosure of information in order to level the playing field between buyers and sellers (Mariner 1998). The rights of patients, she points out, developed outside the context of commercial markets, independently of health insurance, and without regard to the existence or source of payment for health care. Ordinarily a patient is in a relationship with a physician or other health care professional. Mariner (1998, 4) states that
the law of patients' rights does not seek to give patients and physicians equal medical knowledge. Instead the law accepts inequality and protects patients by imposing on physicians a fiduciary duty to use their skills only in the patients' best interest and provide services that meet professionally accepted standards. In contrast, businesses do not have fiduciary obligations to their consumers.
The goal of the patients' rights movement in the 1970s was to require health professionals to provide information to patients about their treatment options. In contrast, the goal of the consumers' rights movement in the 1990s was to require health insurance companies to provide information about benefits and policies. The first DTCA campaigns were launched in the early 1980s after the patients' rights movement had taken hold but before the era of consumer rights had begun. In effect, DTCA blends elements of both the patients' and consumers' rights movements, although I argue that it is partly an unintended consequence of these social movements; that is, it is a vehicle for pharmaceutical manufacturers to tell end users about their products. This seems to parallel efforts to secure consumers' rights, which ultimately aim to improve the functioning of markets.1 For DTCA to be effective (from the pharmaceutical industry's perspective), these ads must expand patients' knowledge and influence over medical decision making, which is ostensibly a major goal of patients' rights movements. However, as Mariner notes, patients' rights movements have focused on requiring health professionals to give patients information, not to help businesses market their products. Because of the unique history of prescription drugs and physicians' important role as intermediaries between drug manufacturers and patients for more than a half century, DTCA represents a challenge to physicians' roles as agents for their patients. Next I discuss how this physician agency relationship was created during the twentieth century through federal drug regulation.
Federal Drug RegulationI begin my account of federal drug regulation in the early twentieth century for two reasons. First, DTCA and other forms of pharmaceutical promotion are heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, as its authority to regulate advertising is closely related to its authority to approve prescription drugs, the primary means through which the FDA ensures public health and safety in the use of pharmaceuticals. The federal regulation of drugs began in 1906 and was expanded with three major pieces of legislation between 1938 and 1962. Because changes in the way that companies promoted drugs are closely tied to these expansions in regulatory authority, they warrant a brief explanation. Second, criticism of DTCA is related to the fact that the promoted products are available only by a doctor's prescription. Advertising for over-the-counter medicines, though prevalent, has not engendered the same level of controversy because they are considered safe for consumers' self-directed use. The modern distinction between over-the-counter and prescription medicines, which stems from legislation passed in the 1950s, is, therefore, a crucial part of the story.
The Context of Early Drug RegulationThe federal regulation of drugs began when only a few effective drugs were on the market, and patients usually chose the medication themselves (Shorter 1991). Then, in the early twentieth century, the clear roles of physicians as prescribers and pharmacists as dispensers were not as clearly distinct as they are today. At that time, consumers could obtain drugs by seeking a prescription from a doctor and filling it at a pharmacy, as they do now. State medical licensing laws, which were passed in the mid- to late nineteenth century, gave physicians the authority to write prescriptions. It is important to note, however, that a prescription was not required, so almost any drug that could be obtained with a prescription could also be obtained without one.2 Prescriptions, in other words, ''were a convenience to be used or not as the situation indicated'' (Temin 1980, 23). Furthermore, consumers could obtain a drug compounded by a pharmacist but did not need a doctor's prescription. Physicians were also in the business of dispensing drugs during this time, and thus a third and final way that consumers could obtain drugs was directly from a doctor. Thus doctors did not play the same gatekeeping role in drug consumption that they do today.
In the early twentieth century there were two classes of drugs. Those in the first group, which were later dubbed ''ethical'' drugs by the American Medical Association, were listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP). The USP is a compendium of standard drugs first established in 1820 by eleven physicians who met in Washington, D.C. Of the many drugs originally listed in the USP, only a few are still considered today to be ''effective'' and include digitalis, morphine, quinine, diphtheria antitoxin, aspirin, and ether (Temin 1980). The other class of drugs in the early twentieth century was patent or proprietary medicines, which were made of unknown ingredients under trademarked names (e.g., Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, Hamlin's Wizard Oil, Kick-a-poo Indian Sagwa, Warner's Safe Cure for Diabetes). The main ingredient of many of these tonics, salves, and bitters was water, plus in some products addictive substances such as alcohol or opium (Young 1961).
Manufacturers promoted these two classes of drugs very differently. Patent medicine makers were prolific advertisers, and at the turn of the century, ads for their products accounted for roughly half of newspapers' entire advertising income (Young 1961). These advertisements routinely made exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of their products and seldom disclosed their ingredients or risks. For instance, an advertisement for Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound claimed ''to cure entirely the worst form of female complaints, all ovarian troubles, Inflammation and Ulceration, Falling and Displacements. And the consequent spinal weakness, and it is particularly adapted to the change of life.''3
Although many of these advertising messages invoked positive images of doctors and the promise of new medical science, most pharmaceutical advertising still emphasized self-treatment. James Harvey Young (1961, 169) provides examples of how patent medicine advertisers differentiated their treatments from those of doctors:
Wherever regular physicians were weak, lo, there the nostrum maker was strong. Their therapy was brutal, his was mild. Their treatment was costly, his was cheap. Their procedures were mysterious, his were open. Their prescriptions were in Latin, his label could be read by all. Their attack on illness was temporizing, his was quick.
Ethical pharmaceuticals, in contrast, were not advertised to consumers in part because of the efforts of organized medicine. In 1905, the American Medical Association (AMA) established the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry, which set standards for drugs and then evaluated them (Young 1961). The council's goal was to steer patients toward using effective pharmaceutical preparations prescribed by physicians and to discourage their using ineffective, self-administered patent medicines. The AMA urged physicians not to prescribe, and medical journals not to run advertisements for, drugs that were ''advertised directly to the laity'' (Journal of the American Medical Association 1900). The AMA regarded self-medication as a threat to the medical profession. Therefore, by categorizing drugs advertised solely to physicians as ''ethical,'' the AMA created an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to focus their promotional efforts on physicians. At the heart of these efforts were the goals of reducing self-treatment and encouraging deference to professional medical judgment (Starr 1982).
The 1906 Pure Food and Drugs ActFederal drug regulation began in the Progressive Era, during which a new faith in the scientific enterprise and a belief in active, informed consumers reigned (Pescosolido and Martin 2004). The objective of the first federal drug legislation was not to discourage self-medication, as organized medicine wished to do, but to give consumers more information so that they could identify effective medicines (Temin 1980; Young 1981). The 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act also prohibited the interstate transport of unlawful food and drugs. The basis of this law rested on the regulation of product labeling rather than premarket approval, as would later be the case. Drugs, defined in accordance with the USP's standards of strength, quality, and purity, could not be sold in any other condition unless the specific variations from the standards were stated on the label. Also, no detail of a drug label could be false or misleading, and it had to list the presence and amount of eleven dangerous substances, including alcohol, heroin, and cocaine. But in 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Johnson that the 1906 act did not prohibit false therapeutic claims but only false and misleading statements about the ingredients or identity of a drug. The Sherley Amendment, which was passed by Congress in 1912, overruled the Supreme Court's ruling by prohibiting labeling medicines with false therapeutic claims intended to defraud the purchaser. It was difficult, however, for the federal government to prove intent to defraud, and so the advertising provisions of the 1906 act had little effect on the behavior of the patent medicine industry.
The 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic ActBy the 1930s, federal drug regulators had abandoned the belief that consumers, armed solely with information about a drug's ingredients, could safely self-medicate. Throughout the decade, FDA officials, supported by New Deal activists including newly founded consumer groups (e.g., the National Consumers League), tried to expand federal authority over drugs. After more than one hundred people died after taking a drug called elixir sulfanilamide, Congress passed the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) which required, for the first time, that drugs had to be proven safe and to receive the FDA's approval before they could be marketed. Opponents of the legislation claimed the act would abridge the sacred right of consumers to self-medicate (Jackson 1970). The FDCA also expanded the concept of drug ''labeling'' to include more than the drug's name and a list of ingredients. It stated that drug labeling must include adequate directions for use and that these directions had to appear on the package with ''conspicuousness and in terms such as to render it likely to be read and understood by the ordinary individual under customary conditions of purchase and use.'' These requirements for labeling are similar to those for what we would now refer to as ''over-the-counter'' (OTC) products more than to prescription drugs (Juhl 1998). However, the FDCA gave the FDA the authority to publish regulations exempting certain drugs from the labeling requirement, and in 1938 the FDA issued regulations stating that exempted drugs must include the warning ''Caution: to be used only by or on the prescription of a physician, dentist, or veterinarian,'' and the directions for use had to employ medical terminology that would not likely be understood by an ordinary person (Swann 1994). Neither the FDCA nor its accompanying regulations, however, define what drugs were to be available by prescription, nor do they clarify the distinction between prescription and OTC drugs.
Requiring Prescriptions: Durham Humphrey AmendmentsBefore 1951, the categorization of a drug as available by either prescription or OTC was left up to the manufacturers, although the FDA did require some drugs to be sold by prescription only (e.g., sulfa drugs in the 1930s) (Goodrich 1986; Juhl 1998). The lack of a clear distinction between prescription and OTC drugs led to confusion by both consumers and pharmacists and also variations in how drugs were categorized (Goodrich 1986). By 1941, FDA officials had identified more than twenty drugs or groups of drugs they considered too dangerous to sell except with a physician's prescription (Swann 1994). In 1951, Congress passed the Durham Humphrey Amendments to the FDCA, which created a statutory definition of prescription drugs to include those that ''because of [their] toxicity or other potentiality for harmful effect, or the method of [their] use, or the collateral measures necessary to [their] use, [they are] not safe for use except under the supervision of a practitioner licensed by law to administer such drug[s]'' (Public Law 82-215, 65 stat 648).
After the Durham Humphrey Amendments became law, more drugs were sold by prescription but did not carry the full product labeling that OTC drugs did. Instead, the primary purpose of the amendments was to avoid patient self-diagnosis and self-administration of complex and potentially harmful drugs (Kendellen 1985). Indeed, FDA officials viewed some drugs as potentially so dangerous that no amount of information provided to consumers would make self-medication safe. The labeling instead would be directed to pharmacists and physicians who in turn would provide information to the patient. Thus, a paradoxical situation developed in which potentially dangerous prescription drugs were dispensed to consumers with less accompanying information than OTC drugs carried (IOM 1979). The view of federal drug regulators that requiring prescriptions was an important means of protecting consumers coincided with the AMA's long-held objective of securing more control by physicians over the use of pharmaceuticals (Starr 1982; Temin 1980).
The Impact of Federal Policy on Pharmaceutical MarketingBetween 1938 and 1951, federal drug legislation and regulation had a significant impact on the market for drugs, and between 1929 and 1949, the amount of money that consumers spent on drugs prescribed by doctors rose from 32 to 57 percent. By 1969, prescription drugs made up 83 percent of consumer spending on pharmaceuticals (Temin 1980, 4). Finally, between 1939 and 1959, drug sales rose from $300 million to $2.3 billion, with prescription drugs accounting for all but approximately $4 million of the increase (Rehder 1965). Self-medication, which in the early twentieth century was widespread and viewed as a ''sacred right,'' now took a backseat to the pharmacological treatments guided by physicians after World War II.
Once drugs were made available only through a physician's prescription, the pharmaceutical companies stopped advertising directly to patients and instead channeled all their promotions to health professionals. By the 1960s, more than 90 percent of the pharmaceutical companies' spending on marketing was aimed at doctors (with the rest targeting pharmacists and hospitals), a complete reversal of the pattern thirty years earlier (Hilts 2003). Now the bulk of pharmaceutical promotional spending was on sales representatives called ''detail men,'' pharmaceutical sales representatives who visited physicians' offices, and on advertising in medical journals. Thus, federal regulation granted physicians authority not only over access to prescription drugs but over the dissemination of commercial drug information as well.
American physicians were deluged with pharmaceutical promotional materials. In 1958 the industry estimated that it had turned out 3,790,809,000 pages of paid advertising in medical journals, sent out 741,213,700 pieces of direct mail, and made up to 20 million calls by detail men to physicians and pharmacists (Harris 1964). The following passage from a study of detailing conducted in the early 1960s reveals physicians' reliance on detail men for information and the importance of personal relationships to the promotion of prescription drugs:
With growing competition from similar or virtually identical products manufactured by different companies, the importance of favorable interpersonal relationships has become increasingly important. '... This inference was underscored by the study's finding that 45 percent of the physicians indicated that a ''good'' detail man was more like a friend than a salesman.
The requirement that consumers obtain a prescription for most drugs came at a time when the medical profession was rising to a level of unprecedented autonomy and respect in American society (Starr 1982). Changes in medical education (e.g., establishing medical schools within universities, inserting a rigorous science base into the curriculum, and linking knowledge from laboratories to clinical practice) and scientific advances in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases increased the authority of medical professionals (Pescosolido and Martin 2004; Starr 1982). Physicians were given total control over medical training, medical decisions, and the ethical conduct of medical professionals (Pescosolido and Martin 2004).
The fact that pharmaceutical companies did not advertise prescription drugs to the public was consistent with the prevailing perception that patients were unable to make medical decisions on their own. After World War II, laypersons deferred to professional judgment to treat conditions that they previously would have treated by themselves. Social scientists writing about health care in the 1950s and 1960s portrayed medical consumers (referred to at the time solely as patients) as having little involvement in their health care, with sociologists describing them as ''dependent: needing and expecting to be taken care of by stronger, more 'adequate' persons'' (Parsons and Fox 1952, 32). Economist Kenneth Arrow (1963) portrayed the consumer of health care as uninformed and reliant on physicians to act as agents on his or her behalf. A major premise of Arrow's work was that health care markets were different primarily because of the asymmetry of information between physicians and their patients. Indeed, during this period, it was a common and accepted practice for physicians to withhold basic information from patients about their diagnosis and treatment (Rothman 1991).
Expanded Federal Regulation of Prescription DrugsWhen Congress expanded the federal government's regulatory authority over drugs in 1938 and 1951, it did not give the FDA authority over either over-the-counter or prescription drug advertising, because when it passed the Wheeler Lea Act in 1938, it gave jurisdiction over drug advertising to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Moreover, because physicians were deemed capable of evaluating the accuracy of drug advertising, ads in medical journals were specifically exempted from the FTC's regulatory authority (Chadduck 1972). So even though the FDA tried to regulate advertising through the FDCA's labeling provisions, its authority was limited. For example, the FDA regulated direct mail ads to doctors but not advertising in medical journals.
In 1959 pharmaceutical marketing practices became the focus of congressional hearings, in response to prescription drug advertisements aimed at physicians that made efficacy claims for which no evidence existed and rarely mentioned side effects. For example, ads for diabinese (chlorpropamide), an oral antidiabetic introduced by Chas. Pfizer & Co., Inc., in 1958, claimed an ''almost complete absence of unfavorable side effects,'' despite a report prepared for the company showing a 27 percent incidence of serious side effects, including jaundice (Ruge 1969). In addition, many observers argued that physicians were incapable of deciphering truth from fiction in drug advertisements (May 1961).
In the early 1960s, the serious birth defects resulting from the use of thalidomide in Europe hastened Congress's efforts to overhaul federal drug regulation. In 1962, it passed the Kefauver-Harris Amendments to the FDCA, which dramatically expanded the FDA's authority over prescription drugs by requiring that they be proved not only safe but also effective before being marketed. In order to receive FDA approval, the amendments also required drugs to meet a high standard of scientific evidence and transferred jurisdiction over the advertising of prescription drugs from the FTC to the FDA. In response to concerns for patients' safety and the misleading marketing practices of the 1950s, the FDA took a more proactive approach to regulating the advertising of prescription drugs than the FTC had (Terzian 1999). The FDCA's prescription drug''advertising provisions are relatively uncomplicated: they require prescription drug advertisements to contain the drug's established (or generic) name, the formula showing each ingredient, and a brief summary of the side effects, contraindications, and effectiveness. The detailed requirements for this summary were to be spelled out in regulations. In 1969 the FDA promulgated its final advertising regulations, which required advertisements to present a ''true statement of information in brief summary relating to side effects, contraindications, and effectiveness'' (FDA/DHHS 1969). Prescription drug advertisements also must present a ''fair balance'' between information about the drug's side effects and contraindications and information about its effectiveness. The regulations also describe how an advertisement could be considered false, unbalanced, or otherwise misleading.
Although the 1969 regulations did not mention prescription drug ads to the public, they contained two important provisions that later became relevant to DTCA. First, the regulations stated that advertisements broadcast through media such as radio, television, or telephone communications systems
shall include information relating to the major side effects and contraindications of the advertised drugs in the audio or audio and visual parts of the presentation, and unless adequate provision is made for dissemination of the approved or permitted package labeling in connection with the broadcast presentation, shall contain a brief summary of all necessary information related to side effects and contraindications. (italics added)
The meaning of ''adequate provision'' was unclear until 1997, when the FDA suggested ways in which pharmaceutical advertisements could meet the regulatory requirements, thus opening the door to broadcast DTCA. Second, the advertising regulations exempted some types of advertisements from the requirements. ''Reminder advertisements,'' which were designed for medical journals, contained only the name of the drug, and made ''no claims for the therapeutic safety or effectiveness of the drug,'' were specifically exempted from the FDA's requirements regarding the brief summary and fair balance of risks and benefits. Ads lacking a proprietary drug name also were exempted from the regulations. In the early 1990s, in order to circumvent the brief summary requirement, pharmaceutical manufacturers ran reminder ads and help-seeking ads that mentioned a disease or the name of a drug, but not both.
Informing the PatientThe FDA's authority over prescription drug advertising expanded during a time in which physicians had nearly complete control over medical practice and in which prescription drug advertising directed at the public did not exist. Rather, the advertising regulations were passed at a time when FDA officials were worried about patients' self-medication (Merrill 1973). But when the FDA tried to give consumers more information about prescription drugs by requiring special labeling for patients, they touched off a debate about the extent to which patients should be informed of the risks of taking a drug. In 1968, the FDA required the manufacturers of isoproterenol inhalers to provide a two-sentence warning on the package regarding a potential effect from excessive use of the inhalers (33 Federal Register 8812 [1968] codified at 21 C.F.R. § 201.305). In the 1970s the FDA also mandated a brief information leaflet for oral contraceptives (35 Federal Register [1970] codified at 21 C.F.R. § 310.501) and a few other drugs and devices.
The FDA also considered requiring patient package inserts (PPIs) on a widespread basis, owing in part to demands from the growing number of consumer groups (IOM 1979). Newly organized consumer groups such as the Health Research Group, formed under the auspices of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, urged the FDA to make available to consumers more information about the risks of prescription drugs. In 1975 several consumer organizations filed a petition with the FDA requesting that the agency require patient labeling for prescription drugs because of their concern that doctor-patient communication about drugs was inadequate (IOM 1979). After conducting its own research in the 1970s, the FDA likewise determined that physicians were not adequately informing consumers of the risks of prescription drugs and hoped that through the patient package inserts dispensed with the drugs, consumers would be better equipped to use prescription drugs more safely (Kendellen 1985; Morris 1977). The broadening of the PPI initiative from a limited requirement for a few classes of drugs between 1968 and 1970 to a broader consumer education initiative in the late 1970s reflected the change in the FDA's views regarding the need to inform patients about prescription drugs (IOM 1979).
In 1976 and in 1978, the FDA sponsored two symposia to solicit feedback on the PPI concept from consumer groups, professional societies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacist organizations, and other groups. Two arguments were offered in support of the PPI concept. The first pertained to making the use of drugs safer and more effective. The argument was that PPIs would help improve patients' compliance and reduce drug interactions and adverse drug events by ensuring that they used prescription drugs properly. The second argument justified PPIs on the basis of patients' rights to information relevant to decisions about their medical care. This idea, rooted in the values of egalitarianism and patients' autonomy, assumed that PPIs would enable patients to assume a greater role in medical decision making (IOM 1979). Some observers of the debate over PPIs viewed these two lines of argument as conflicting, because the purpose of educating patients was better communication and cooperation, whereas the notion of patients' rights created confrontation (Albert Jonsen, cited in IOM 1979).
In the late 1970s the FDA proposed a regulation that would eventually require PPIs for all prescription drugs, an action that was resisted by the pharmaceutical industry because of the PPI program's cost (Schmidt 1985). In 1979 the agency issued regulations requiring the inserts for ten classes of prescription drugs. In 1982, after the Reagan administration appointed a new commissioner to the FDA, it rescinded the 1979 regulation in favor of a plan under which pharmaceutical companies would voluntarily disseminate information on prescription drugs to consumers (Pines 1999).
The FDA's policy on patient package inserts during the 1970s provides an important backdrop for subsequent debates over DTCA and the role of consumers in prescription drug markets (Pines 1999). Some physicians' groups and the pharmaceutical industry vehemently opposed the mandatory PPIs and echoed a familiar theme of health reform debates: that PPIs interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and represented the government's intrusion into the practice of medicine (Kendellen 1985). But the effort to require PPIs, albeit unsuccessful, showed that consumer groups' efforts to improve product safety in other areas of the economy could be applied to health care as well. Indeed, the Health Research Group became one of the most vocal critics of the pharmaceutical industry, its marketing practices, and DTCA.
The juxtaposition of the debates over PPIs and DTCA reveals that the stakeholders in the FDA's regulation of prescription drugs had somewhat nuanced views regarding patient information and education. On the one hand, pharmaceutical manufacturers objected to patients' rights to information regarding mandatory PPIs but supported them regarding looser restrictions on DTCA. On the other hand, consumer groups like the Health Research Group supported PPIs as a way to give consumers a greater role in decisions about their treatment, although this same group later opposed efforts to loosen restrictions on DTCA.
Dawn of the Patients' Rights MovementThe 1970s also marked the beginning of the patients' rights movement, which sought certain legal protections for patients, in response to cases of abuse of human biomedical research subjects publicized in the 1960s (Katz 1972). In the 1970s, this movement expanded from research subjects to patients. In 1975, Karen Ann Quinlan, age twenty-one, fell into an unexplained coma and remained in a persistent vegetative state and on a respirator for several months. When Quinlan's father signed a release to permit her doctors to turn off the respirator, they refused. The medical consensus at the time of the Quinlan decision was that the traditional relationship among the physician, patient, and family should prevail over a detailed legal standard (Clark and Agrest 1975). But this case and others that followed imposed a formality on medical decisions (Rothman 1991). Ethics committees, a feature of most hospitals today, were first recommended after the New Jersey Supreme Court handed down the Quinlan decision (Stevens 1996).
The Quinlan case helped spur the ''right to die'' movement that emphasized patients' autonomy in medical decision making. A review of public opinion surveys on death and dying conducted between 1950 and 1995 found a dramatic change in the public's attitudes toward personal control over the quality of life and death. In 1950, only 34 percent of Americans thought physicians should be allowed to end the lives of patients with incurable diseases if they and their families requested it, but by 1977, this figure had risen to 60 percent and has remained stable since then (Blendon, Szalay, and Knox 1992). While physicians still maintained a great deal of control over medical care, the patients' rights movement led the public to question medical authority and created intermediaries to oversee doctors' actions (e.g., ethics committees).
Early DTC CampaignsThe debate over PPIs during the late 1970s raised the issue of consumers' awareness of prescription drugs, their uses, and their risks. In the early 1980s, some pharmaceutical marketers began rethinking the traditional models of promotion that relied solely on advertising to physicians. They began first with public relations techniques rather than paid advertising (Pines 1999). For example, soon after Syntex, an analgesic, was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1978, it became a topic of discussion on talk shows and its use quickly accelerated. As a result, some pharmaceutical companies began considering the risks and benefits of communicating directly with the public about their products (Smeeding 1990). Pfizer launched a public relations campaign in the early 1980s called Partners in Health Care, to increase awareness of underdiagnosed conditions such as diabetes, angina, arthritis, and hypertension. Although the ads did not mention any drugs by name, they prominently displayed Pfizer's name in the hope that consumers who visited their doctors might ask for one of the manufacturer's products for those conditions.
From the 1950s to the early 1980s, no pharmaceutical companies were running product-specific ads in the mass media. Then, two product-marketing campaigns broke with tradition and pursued a marketing strategy that depended on consumers' taking a more active role in prescribing decisions. In 1981, Boots pharmaceuticals used print and television ads to promote Rufen, a prescription pain reliever. The marketing strategy was to position Rufen as a cheaper alternative to the leading brand. In 1982, Merck and Dohme advertised its pneumonia vaccine, Pneumovax, to people over the age of sixty-five, after market research showed that only a small percentage of the patients who could benefit from the vaccine were receiving it (U.S. House of Representatives 1984).
Early DTC campaigns demonstrated the role that consumers could play in health care, acting as price-conscious consumers or talking with their physicians about a condition that might otherwise not be detected. These early campaigns also demonstrated the potential harm associated with consumer-directed promotion. When it launched a new antiarthritic drug called Oraflex in 1982, Eli Lilly and Company distributed 6,500 press kits, including file films and videotapes, to television networks and radio stations (Kolata 1983). Although they dispensed some cautionary information, the media emphasized that Oraflex might prevent the progression of arthritis, a claim that went beyond the approved product label. The use of this drug, which may have been more widespread because of the public relations campaign, resulted in a number of adverse drug events, and it was pulled from the market voluntarily by Eli Lilly only five months after it was introduced (Basara 1992).
FDA Calls for Voluntary Moratorium on DTCA, 1983''1985The FDA did not have an explicit policy regarding DTCA at the time of these early campaigns because there had been no mass media advertisements for prescription drugs when the 1969 regulations were promulgated. Initially, agency officials supported the concept of DTCA and had faith that the existing regulations for promotion to physicians would prevent any misleading advertisements directed at consumers (Altman 1982). But in 1983, the agency began to voice serious concerns about advertising prescription drugs to consumers. Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes asked the pharmaceutical industry to stop advertising drugs to the public. Concerns raised at the time were that DTCA would
lead patients to pressure physicians to prescribe unnecessary or un-indicated drugs, increase the price of drugs, confuse patients by leading them to believe that some minor difference represents a major therapeutic advance, potentiate the use of brand name products rather than cheaper, but equivalent generic drugs and foster increased drug taking in an already overmedicated society.
Furthermore, FDA Commissioner Hayes also voiced concern about the public's ability to evaluate ''the risk/benefit ratio of a drug'' (Kolata 1983). The FDA undertook a study of consumer perceptions of and behavior related to prescription drug advertising and found that consumers wanted more drug information but that it was difficult to communicate risk information through short television ads (FDA 1983; Morris et al. 1986a, 1986b).
In September 1985, the FDA rescinded the moratorium on DTCA advertising and required the advertisements to meet the same legal requirements as those directed at physicians (FDA/DHHS 1985). Public comments by the FDA commissioner suggested that agency officials did not believe that a widespread use of DTCA would result (U.S. House of Representatives 1984). These advertising provisions of the 1969 regulations created a de facto barrier to the broadcast advertising of prescription drugs that included both the name of the drug and its indication, because it was not feasible to air the entire brief summary in a short television commercial, so the few DTCA campaigns initiated in the 1980s used print media. The brief summary of the product label had become something that was ''neither brief nor a summary'' but a densely worded compilation of every risk carried by the drug written in highly technical terms (Feather 1997).
Critical Views of DTCAAn analysis of interest-group positions on DTCA in the early 1980s shows significant resistance to greater consumer control over prescription drug use, by physicians' organizations, consumer groups, and even many in the pharmaceutical industry. One of the recurrent themes in the early debates over DTCA was its potential to undermine physician authority (Lanier 1982). Surveys by the AMA found that an overwhelming majority of physicians were opposed to DTCA on television (84 percent in 1984 and 81 percent in 1988 opposed DTCA on television) (Harvey and Shubat 1989). In the early 1980s, the AMA, the American Society of Internal Medicine, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Society of Internal Medicine, and the American College of Physicians and other groups took positions against the DTCA of prescription drugs (AMA 1989; Cohen 1988; U.S. House of Representatives 1984). A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that DTCA ''may tend to undermine physician control over prescribing'' and that ''most lay people are ill equipped to evaluate the efficacy or toxicity of drugs'' (O'Brien 1982, 181).
Consumer groups also were firmly opposed to DTCA. Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the Health Research Group called for a ban on DTCA and renewed calls for patient package inserts (Consumer Reports 1984). Representatives from the Consumer Federation of America and the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) also spoke out against DTCA in the 1980s (Kolata 1983). Survey research conducted at this time showed that consumers considered physicians the primary decision makers with regard to prescription drugs and viewed the patient's role in drug utilization and as an evaluator of prescription drug advertising as quite limited. More than three-quarters of consumers disagreed with the statement that they could decide about using a drug, and 63 percent disagreed with the statement that patients could tell whether a prescription drug ad was misleading (Morris and Millstein 1984). But surveys conducted by the FDA in the early 1980s also revealed that consumers wanted more information about prescription drugs (Morris et al. 1986b).
In the early 1980s most pharmaceutical companies avoided DTCA of prescription drugs, according to a survey conducted in 1984 of pharmaceutical marketing executives (Cutrer and Pleil 1991). When Representative John Dingell, chairman of a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to several pharmaceutical company executives in 1984 asking for their views on DTCA, most of the responses were deeply critical of DTCA (see the excerpts of letters in Figure 1 ). Pharmaceutical executives argued that DTCA would hurt the doctor-patient relationship, confuse an unsophisticated public, and lead to higher drug costs. They thus recommended strict limits, if not an outright ban, on prescription drug advertising to the public. Their views indicate that in the early 1980s, the pharmaceutical industry wanted to work with rather than challenge the traditional doctor-patient relationship.
Challenges to Physicians' Autonomy and the Increased Appeal of DTCA to the Pharmaceutical IndustryAround 1990, changes in the health care system and in the pharmaceutical industry itself led the pharmaceutical industry's opinion of DTCA to change as well. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, employers assumed more aggressive roles in reining in health care costs (Schlesinger 2002). Escalating health insurance premiums combined with an economic recession in the early 1990s forced employers to begin reconsidering the merits of traditional fee-for-service insurance reimbursement (Reinhardt 1999). Evidence revealed a substantial variation in health care utilization and spending and confirmed that high spending was not correlated with better treatment outcomes. Employers thus turned to managed care plans, which controlled health care spending through supply-side mechanisms such as requiring utilization reviews, capitating provider payments, and engaging in selective contracting with providers, all of which challenged physicians' autonomy (Schlesinger 2002).
At the same time, the American public had been losing trust in physicians since the 1960s, mirroring the general weakening of trust in authority figures and institutions (Blendon and Benson 2001; Pescosolido, Tuch, and Martin 2001). In 1966, three-quarters of the American public had a great deal of confidence in leaders in medicine, but in 1990, less than one-quarter did. Using survey data from policy elites and the general public, Schlesinger (2002) argued that the decline in trust was driven by doubts about the efficacy of medical care and questions about whether physicians were acting as good agents for their patients, particularly when a physician's economic interests and the patient's interest conflicted.
New Financial ImperativesFrom the 1950s until the 1980s, pharmaceutical firms promoted their products by influencing a learned intermediary'--the physician. Accordingly, when the autonomy of physicians over the practice of medicine was threatened by consumers' distrust and the growth of new institutions like managed care plans and hospital formulary committees, new forms of promotion emerged (Kessler and Pines 1990). In the late 1980s, some pharmaceutical manufacturers, wary a few years earlier of upsetting doctors by advertising directly to consumers, began to view DTCA as an integral part of their marketing strategy. In the early 1980s, a handful of drug marketers employed indirect public relations tools to get the word out to the public about new drugs. By the end of the decade, several pharmaceutical manufacturers used paid advertising in its most visible and direct form to promote prescription drugs to consumers. Between 1985 and 1990, pharmaceutical marketers launched DTCA campaigns to promote at least twenty-four products directly to consumers (Scott-Levin 1992). DTCA thus became part of a broader trend in the pharmaceutical industry toward more spending on all forms of promotion and more aggressive marketing techniques (Feather 1997; Smeeding 1990).
Another trend that may have accelerated the trend toward DTC promotion is that many of the top-selling drugs switched from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC) status. Prescription drugs that advertised to consumers would therefore have the advantage of established brand recognition before being converted to OTC status (Ling, Berndt, and Kyle 2003). In addition, the increased use of DTCA in the early 1990s may have been related to the introduction of ''lifestyle'' drugs for which no market yet existed. For example, it would have been difficult for Upjohn to convince physicians to talk with their male patients about the prescription drug Rogaine, a hair restoration product, through traditional forms of promotion such as detailing (Ruby and Montagne 1991). The very existence of products like Rogaine'--products that focused more on improving the quality of life than on treating disease'--illustrates the consumer's growing importance in medical care at the time. Indeed, drugs advertised to consumers continue to be those requiring consumers to self-identify, either because physicians feel uncomfortable discussing the product (e.g., drugs that treat erectile dysfunction) or because a need for the product might not be detected in a primary care setting (e.g., drugs that treat depression) (Iizuka 2004).
Consumerism in Health CareIn addition to reacting to changes within the industry, pharmaceutical firms capitalized on a significant cultural change in the health care system that accelerated in the late 1980s, one that emphasized the consumer's role in medical decision making. Efforts in the 1970s to secure legal rights for patients to be informed about their treatment options set the stage for efforts in the mid-1990s to secure consumer rights in managed care (Rothman 2001). By the late 1990s a more diffuse change made possible by advances in information technology allowed patients and consumers to inform themselves and, as a consequence, become more involved in medical decision making, what I call consumerism.
By the late 1990s, several reforms of the health care system had been implemented, including changes in involuntary commitment laws, consent forms for surgery and other medical procedures, and stricter controls over human experimentation (Tomes 2001). The Patient Self-Determination Act, passed in 1989, required health care institutions to advise patients upon admission of their right to accept or refuse medical care and to execute an advance directive (Laine and Davidoff 1996). And in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensured patients' rights to privacy over their medical records.
Consumerism in health care did not end with the establishment of legal rights for patients, however. This new consumer power also was evident in the increasing number and political influence of disease-specific advocacy groups. In 2000, there were more than 3,100 disease-specific advocacy groups with at least some political involvement, many of which had been founded in the 1980s (Baumgartner and Jones 1993; Carpenter 2004). In 1996, citizen groups and not-for-profit advocacy organizations outnumbered hospitals and clinics by a factor of two to one in terms of the number of groups lobbying federal policymakers on health care issues (Baumgartner and Leech 1996). Health activism coalesced around stigmatized social groups (e.g., the mentally ill), and were created from existing constituencies (e.g., women, gays, consumer advocates) (Halpern 2004). These groups were successful in lobbying for increased research funding for diseases like HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and other conditions (Epstein 1996).
Consumer advocates also played an important role in the backlash against managed care (Peterson 1999). By the mid-1990s, managed care plans had gained a majority share in the private insurance market. In fact, state legislatures passed more than one thousand bills in the 1990s ''regulating'' managed care. The first wave of such legislation, led by providers, focused on removing plans' ability to use restrictive provider networks through ''any willing provider'' laws (Sorian and Feder 1999). But the emphasis soon shifted to consumers. Managed care regulation passed at the state level and debated at the federal level blended patient protections (e.g., length of stay requirements, benefit mandates) with consumer protections (e.g., insurance plan information disclosure and due process requirements) (Mariner 1998).
Important changes also were under way in the doctor-patient relationship through efforts to make medical care more ''patient centered.'' The editor of the New England Journal of Medicine wrote as early as 1983 that ''physicians must set aside their image of themselves as making life and death decisions alone and undertake instead the less glamorous and more time-consuming process of exploring optimal outcomes with the patient'' (Kassirer 1983, 900). Research on the impact of patients' adherence on clinical outcomes encouraged clinicians to abandon paternalistic approaches to patient care and adopt practice styles emphasizing the patient's participation in clinical decisions (Roter and Hall 1992).
A related trend was the greater use of complementary and alternative medicines (e.g., herbal medicine, vitamins and dietary supplements, chiropractics) in the 1990s. For example, the percentage of adults in the United States who used alternative medicine increased from 33.8 percent in 1990 to 42.1 percent in 1997 (Eisenberg et al. 1998) and remained stable between 1997 and 2002 (Tindle et al. 2005). Since the establishment of the AMA's first code of ethics, organized medicine had actively opposed alternative medicine (Kaptchuk and Miller 2005). But recently this opposition has given way to efforts to integrate alternative medicine into institutions of biomedicine, partly because of patients' demands for it. But in 1990 and 1997, less than 40 percent of the alternative therapies used were disclosed to a physician (Eisenberg et al. 1998), indicating that most consumers still viewed alternative medicine as self-treatment rather than a recommendation by their doctor.
Technological change also spurred an increase in health information seeking and self-treatment. In the mid-1990s, American society was at the start of a revolution in information technology that significantly expanded the number of consumers seeking health information and support from sources other than their physicians. By 2000, more than 26,000 websites were related to health, and roughly one-quarter of individuals using the Internet did so primarily to find information about health and health care (Haas-Wilson 2001). By March 2003, 66 percent of Internet users said they went online to look for health or other medical information (Fox and Fallows 2003). Surveys conducted in conjunction with the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that (1) people used the Internet to inform themselves about their health and carried that information with them to their doctors and that (2) when they presented this information to their doctors, they sometimes encountered resistance (Fox and Fallows 2003). As one consumer who responded to the survey summarized, ''Knowledge is power. It also helps me to feel prepared to talk with doctors and nurses. I know the terminology and the options'' (Fox and Fallows 2003, 16).
The convergence of these trends increased the amount of information available to consumers and their level of involvement in medical decision making. The expanding rights of patients, along with the more diffuse trend toward consumerism in health care, thereby made less salient any criticism of DTCA, often couched in terms of traditional norms of medical practice that emphasized physicians' authority.
Pressure on the FDA to Loosen Restrictions on AdvertisingPharmaceutical industry spending on DTCA rose from $55 million in 1991 to $363 million in 1995, reflecting the industry's calculation that the profits earned from pitching products directly to patients outweighed any loss of goodwill from a profession that for decades it had relied on to promote its products. This greater use of DTCA came at a time when the FDA was more actively enforcing advertising regulations and restricting new forms of promotion like video news releases, discussions of drug development with the investment community, and DTCA (Kessler and Pines 1990).
In November 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed David Kessler (both a physician and an attorney) as the head of the FDA. Kessler became one of the most active FDA commissioners in modern times. He tried to expand the FDA's authority to regulate the health claims made for dietary supplements and to regulate tobacco as a drug, but both efforts met with substantial political resistance and ultimately failed (Hilts 2003). Kessler was particularly interested in reining in prescription drug marketing, and he increased the resources devoted to the FDA division that oversees drug advertising (Kessler et al. 1994; Kessler and Pines 1990).
Significant counterregulatory pressures during the mid-1990s moderated the efforts to restrict drug promotion (Epstein 1996; Hilts 2003). In 1994, with the Republican Party's takeover of Congress, the FDA encountered conservative opposition on many fronts. House Speaker Newt Gingrich called the FDA the ''no. 1 job killer,'' charging that it discouraged innovation and prevented profitable products from coming to market (Hilts 2003, 196). Conservatives also charged that the FDA's new drug approval process placed so much emphasis on keeping potentially bad drugs off the market that it unnecessarily delayed the introduction of important therapeutic advances. This criticism was echoed by a new and vocal breed of consumer advocacy organization that urged the FDA to reconsider its standards for approving drugs to combat HIV/AIDS (Epstein 1996). A parallel criticism was leveled against the FDA's approach to regulating drug advertising. Some argued that the FDA was so heavily focused on prohibiting misleading advertising that it prevented valuable information about prescription drugs from reaching consumers and physicians (Keith 1992).
In this environment of greater consumer involvement in health care, increased spending on consumer-directed promotion of prescription drugs, and scrutiny of the FDA's regulation of advertising, the agency held hearings on DTCA (FDA/DHHS 1995b). Officials heard testimony from pharmaceutical and advertising industry representatives, consumer organizations, medical societies, and academics. The pharmaceutical industry sought clarification of the provision in the 1969 advertising regulations that obviated the need for broadcast advertisements to contain the brief summary of the approved product label when ''adequate provision'' was made for dissemination of the product labeling in conjunction with the advertisement (FDA/DHHS 1969). In 1995, roughly 15 percent of DTCA spending was for television advertising (Kreling, Mott, and Wiederholt 2001). In order to circumvent the brief summary requirement, pharmaceutical companies ran reminder or help-seeking advertisements, which either included the name of the drug or discussed a particular condition, but not both. Reminder ads, which were originally designed for physicians and medical journals, led to some confusion among consumers who did not know what condition the drug was supposed to treat.
Some people who testified at the hearings noted that consumers' involvement in health care had expanded dramatically since the first DTC ads were aired in the early 1980s (FDA/DHHS 1995a). Participants in the hearings pointed to two divergent approaches to communicating risk information to consumers. Advocates of the first model proposed by critics of DTCA believed that the best method of educating consumers about prescription drugs was through something akin to patient package inserts. This model assumed that consumers needed to be educated after the prescribing decision had been made and that the package insert would help make the product safer. Consumer groups like the Health Research Group, which focused on product safety, adhered to this view.
The other model of information dissemination, supported by representatives of the advertising and pharmaceutical industries, proposed replacing the brief summary with a general risk statement like ''prescription drugs could be harmful to your health and should not be taken without consulting a physician.'' Advocates of this view considered advertising as a way to get the consumer'--not the physician'--to initiate the conversation about a prescription drug and so wanted to give consumers information about a drug well before the prescribing and purchasing decisions were made. The brief summary requirement was therefore seen as a barrier to direct communication between the pharmaceutical manufacturer and the consumer.
By 1997, those FDA officials who were reluctant to open the floodgates to prescription drug advertising on television felt increased pressure from a variety of sources to ease the regulations and permit broadcast advertising (Feather 1997). In August, a few months after David Kessler left the FDA, the agency released the Draft Guidance for Industry: Consumer-Directed Broadcast Advertisements. It outlined the ways in which pharmaceutical manufacturers could meet the brief summary requirement in broadcast ads by clarifying the ways in which the product labeling could be adequately provided (FDA/DHHS 1997, 1999). Instead of airing the entire brief summary, the ads could refer consumers to (1) a toll-free telephone number, (2) print ads, (3) a website, and/or (4) their pharmacists or physicians, from whom they could obtain complete information about the product's risks and benefits. Consumers' confusion over the reminder ads for prescription drugs on television was a major factor behind the policy change (Woodcock 2003). Although whether the guidance was intended to loosen restrictions or to clarify existing provisions of advertising regulation has been debated, it nonetheless made broadcast advertisements of prescription drugs more feasible.
Contemporary Views of DTCAThe pharmaceutical industry quickly seized on the policy change, more than doubling its spending on television advertising from $310 million to $664 million between 1997 and 1998, with the total spending on DTCA advertising rising from $1.3 billion in 1998 to $3.3 billion in 2005 ( Figure 2 ). Pharmaceutical firms, which a little more than a decade earlier had feared the impact of DTCA on the doctor-patient relationship, now argued that prescription drug advertising empowered consumers. The president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America stated, ''Direct-to-consumer advertising is an excellent way to meet the growing demand for medical information, empowering consumers by educating them about health conditions and possible treatments'' (Holmer 1999, 380). The majority of spending on DTCA since the policy change has been for television advertising, and more than 80 percent of prescription drug ads in the 1990s promoted specific products rather than raising awareness of medical conditions.
Total U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry Spending on DTCA 1996''2005
In 1992, the AMA recognized consumers' more assertive role in their health care and altered its policy to support DTCA on a limited basis when such ads were in the patient's best interest and conformed to guidelines established by the FDA and the AMA (Borow 1993). But following the release of the draft guidance in 1997, the AMA sent a letter to the FDA expressing its concern about the potentially adverse impact of DTCA on the physician-patient relationship and the potentially negative public health and economic outcomes (Neilsen 2003). In 1999, the AMA established standards for appropriate consumer-directed advertisements. They state that DTC advertisements should focus on diseases rather than specific products and also that physicians should be concerned about advertisements, which ''do not refer patients to their physicians for more information, and do not identify the consumer population at risk by implying self-diagnosis and self-treatment'' (AMA 2000, 122). The AMA's rather ambivalent policy on DTCA highlights the difficult balance between supporting consumers' involvement in health care and maintaining control over medical decision making.
Recent surveys of physicians indicate that even though many still oppose the practice of DTCA in general, they also point to some positive effects. A survey of family physicians in 1997 found that 80 percent of physicians believed DTCA was not a good idea (Lipsky and Taylor 1997). More recently, however, in a 2002 survey of physicians conducted by the FDA, only 18 percent believed that DTC created problems with their interaction with a patient, and 41 percent said that DTC had beneficial effects on the interaction (Swasy 2003). These findings contrast with the nearly universal opposition to DTCA expressed in surveys of physicians in the 1980s.
Some consumer groups reacted negatively to the 1997 draft guidance for broadcast advertising (Sasich and Wolfe 1997). For example, the Health Research Group (HRG) argued that a sixty-second television commercial would not be adequate to convey risk information to consumers and that the FDA's policy left ''consumers naked in the viciously competitive marketplace for prescription drugs'' (Sasich and Wolfe 1997, 1). The group called for a moratorium on DTCA until the FDA could issue regulations specifically governing consumer-directed advertisements. In an editorial, HRG's director acknowledged consumers' desire for more information but differentiated between drug information provided for educational purposes and advertising:
During the past two decades, there has been an irreversible change in the nature of the doctor-patient relationship. Patients are seeking much more medical information and are actively participating in decisions affecting their health. Intruding into this trend has been the rise of direct-to-consumer promotion, which in its initial thrust, bypasses primary care doctors and other physicians. Although increased access by patients to accurate, objective information about tests to diagnose and drugs to treat illnesses is an important advance, confusion arises when commercially driven promotional information is represented as educational.
Other consumer groups, however, expressed more positive views about DTCA. After it held a roundtable on DTCA, the National Consumers League concluded that it was ''an effective vehicle that motivates consumers to seek information, especially from health care professionals'' (National Consumers League 1998). Its 2003 press release noted that ''critics attack such ads for provoking patients to ask their doctors for expensive drugs for which they may not have a medical need. But if these ads are encouraging dialogue of any nature between doctors and their patients, this can hardly be a bad thing'' (National Consumers League 2003).
Surveys suggest that DTCA affects consumers' behavior (Slaughter 2002/2003). In 2002, 98 percent of Americans reported that they had seen or heard an ad for prescription drugs. Of those who had seen an ad, 33 percent talked to their physician about the medicine. Thirty percent (or about 8 percent of total) of those who talked to their doctor asked for a prescription, and 79 percent of those who asked for a prescription (or about 5 percent of all Americans) had their request honored. Another survey found that roughly half of consumers who talked to their physician after seeing a DTCA ad were seeking treatment for the condition for the first time (Weissman et al. 2003). Moreover, surveys show that most consumers view DTC ads positively. Only one-quarter of consumers surveyed in 2002 believed that prescription drug ads should be limited to medical journals read by physicians (National Consumers League 2003).
A few years after the draft guidance FDA Commissioner Jane Henney, citing a survey conducted by the FDA, wrote that ''DTC prescription drug promotion offers public health benefits that may outweigh potential costs'' (Henney 2000, 2242). In a few short years, the agency changed its view of DTCA from being wary of ''opening the floodgates'' to television advertising to seeing a public health benefit from this form of promotion. This marks a dramatic shift in the view of DTCA among regulators trying to balance the traditional emphasis on preventing misleading advertising with the goal of providing consumers with more information about possible treatments. Even former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, who had opposed loosening the regulations to allow broadcast advertising throughout his term in office, recently recanted (Mishra 2002). Moreover, the director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research spoke at a public meeting on DTCA sponsored by the FDA on the relationship between DTCA and consumerism (Woodcock 2003, 18''19):
It was not until the time of HIV and cancer activism in the late 1980s that the concept of patient empowerment really took hold. And I think it is no coincidence that around that time we began to see, again, reemergence in the interest '... in direct-to-consumer advertising. Several other forces were also active at that time. First, outcomes researchers had shown that patient values and preferences could drive the choice of appropriate treatment. '... Second, the rise of managed care in many forms led patients to believe that the health care system could not always be completely relied upon to act in their best interest at all times. These forces have resulted in a shift in the general societal perception of who needs what information. And of the dynamics of medical decision making in general.
ConclusionThe last few decades have seen a dramatic transformation of the consumer's role in health care, and DTCA and the policy debate surrounding it relate directly to this transformation. The current period of consumer involvement in health care harkens back to the drug market in the early twentieth century when self-treatment was highly valued and most drug advertising was aimed directly at consumers. Physicians' authority over the prescribing of drugs has been directly challenged by DTC advertising campaigns urging consumers both to self-diagnose and to demand specific medications from their provider. We therefore are not likely to return to the days when consumers were effectively cut off from commercial information about prescription drugs, nor are pharmaceutical companies likely to abandon their focus on physicians, who still control access to prescription drugs.
By 2004, DTCA seemed to have weathered the deluge of criticism it encountered in the late 1990s. But Merck's withdrawal of Vioxx from the market renewed criticism of DTCA, and in 2005 the U.S. Senate majority leader, William Frist (a physician), called for a two-year voluntary moratorium on the use of DTCA for newly approved drugs (Saul 2005). In June 2005, Bristol Myers Squibb announced a one-year moratorium on DTCA for new product launches, and in 2004, Pfizer announced a voluntary moratorium on DTCA for Celebrex, its COX-2 inhibitor. In addition, the FDA is continuing its decades-long effort to improve the communication of drug risks and benefits to consumers. Because the FDA's authority is limited to approving drugs and it cannot decide the price purchasers will pay (as similar agencies in other countries can), the policy debate over DTCA is mostly limited to its effect on drugs' safety and effectiveness. The impact of DTCA, and related trends in medical consumerism, on health care costs receives less attention.
The history of consumerism and DTCA has important implications for other contemporary health policy debates. The first is that as bioethics historian David Rothman (2001, 261) wrote, ''When commerce joins with ideology, we have a powerful engine for promoting change.'' The pharmaceutical industry not only reacted to the trend toward consumer-oriented medicine but also reinforced this cultural shift with an onslaught of mass media advertising. The industry defined DTCA as a tool to enhance consumer choice and autonomy. Similarly, the industry has argued for consumer choice in prescription drug coverage policy in public insurance programs. Some state Medicaid policymakers have been reluctant to restrict access to costly psychotropic medications, in part because of vocal opposition from mental health consumer advocacy organizations. Borrowing the language of consumer empowerment and choice, pharmaceutical manufacturers, which have a clear financial incentive to remove any restrictions on the use of their products, have supported mental health consumer groups in opposing cost-control mechanisms (Harris 2003). But the industries' funding of consumer groups' advocacy efforts have called into question the authenticity of the consumers' perspective (Tomes 2006). Long-standing skepticism of medical research financed by the pharmaceutical industry has been joined by concerns about alliances between the pharmaceutical industry and consumer advocacy groups. Ethical issues surrounding these alliances have received less attention in the literature.
The image of consumers as highly educated, technology savvy, and assertive strongly influences the current reshaping of health insurance arrangements in the public and private sectors. In the last few years, the health insurance industry has adopted new benefit, network, medical management, and pricing policies in response to the demand from employers. These contemporary policies highlight the insurers' shift away from cost containment through supply-side mechanisms that try to influence physicians' behavior in favor of policies that focus on the consumer side of the health care market (Robinson 2004). Arguments in favor of shifting entitlement programs and employment-based health insurance away from defined benefit plans toward the use of medical savings account models will be more salient when accompanied by descriptions of informed consumers. Indeed, the term defined contribution health plan has been replaced with consumer-driven health care plan, implying that consumers exert considerable control over their insurance arrangements (Shearer 2004). Health plans and purchasers are relying less on supply-side cost control mechanisms like restrictive provider networks and are focusing more on altering consumers' behavior, arming them with information (at least in theory) and stronger financial incentives to make prudent purchasing decisions. The rhetoric of consumerism no doubt contributed to this transformation of the health insurance market.
Legal and cultural changes in health care brought about by the patients' and consumers' rights movements laid the groundwork for the DTCA of prescription drugs. DTCA was surely an unintended consequence of these social movements and may, paradoxically, serve to frustrate future efforts to protect patients and consumers. That is, by shifting the rights and responsibilities for financing health care from government and private purchasers toward individual consumers, we are reducing the opportunities for public discourse on what health services should be covered and for whom (Robinson 2005). Collective decisions about health care priority setting are being replaced by private health care choices. Interestingly, countries with national health systems that delegate technology assessment and priority setting to governments have chosen not to allow the DTCA of prescription drugs. In 2002, the European Parliament voted 494 to 42 to reject a proposal to allow DTCA. European consumer groups contended that allowing DTCA would ''lead to a US-style spiral of unsustainable health care spending'' (HAI/EPHA 2002). By arming consumers with more information about newer, more expensive treatments, the DTCA of prescription drugs and similar marketing efforts will likely foster continued resistance to centralized cost containment methods that explicitly limit the choices of consumers.
AcknowledgmentsThe author is grateful to Allan Brandt and Patricia Keenan for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article. In addition, I would like to thank Bradford Gray and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. All errors are my own.
Endnotes 1The economic literature does not agree on whether advertising serves to inform consumers, thereby improving the performance of the market, or to persuade consumers by altering their preferences, thereby undermining competition. For a discussion of these issues, see Hurwitz and Caves 1988.
2Narcotic drugs were a notable exception. Before federal drug regulation, some states required consumers to obtain prescriptions for narcotics or poisons. In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Act, which required consumers to obtain a prescription for narcotic drugs, but most other classes of drugs did not require a prescription until after 1951.
3Advertisement in an 1881 Salt Lake City newspaper obtained from Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health. See http://www.mum.org/MrsPink1.htm.
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Pharma Advertising
ED and Porn
From a Dad
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Did China Get Away with Creating a Pandemic? - Open The Magazine
Sat, 22 May 2021 14:34
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, much like a world war, has become a defining moment for the world. Our lives have profoundly changed since 2020. The pandemic-triggered economic and social disruptions have set in motion, as some early research indicates, higher rates of birth, divorce, obesity, depression, alcoholism, crime, bankruptcy, unemployment, domestic violence and suicide.
If another country, such as India, Japan or Brazil, had let a lethal virus escape from its territory and create a globally disruptive pandemic, it would today be in the international doghouse. But China thus far has escaped scot-free for unleashing the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to ravage large parts of the world.
After infecting people across the world, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), through one of its publications, cynically called it ''a rare example of a shared situation connecting every human being in the world.'' The CCP has even manipulated online discourse to enforce its narrative on the novel coronavirus. As The New York Times reported, it ''directed paid trolls to inundate social media with party-line blather and deployed security forces to muzzle unsanctioned voices.''
Not only has China managed to get away with spawning the greatest global health calamity of our time, it also has successfully stymied an independent and thorough investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 virus.
In fact, China has exploited the paralysing pandemic and the suffering wrought by the virus to make major economic gains. Not only has its economy boomed during the pandemic, its exports also have soared to a record high. In other words, the major socioeconomic disruptions in much of the world have worked to China's advantage.
Paraguay, for example, illustrates China's cynical attempts to exploit the hardship caused by its most infamous global export, the Covid-19 virus. On March 22nd, Paraguay disclosed that it had been offered Chinese vaccines in exchange for breaking diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Another example of Beijing seeking to weaponise a pandemic that it precipitated is Honduras, a Latin American nation like Paraguay.
Consider another odd fact: The terrible ravages of the pandemic are evident globally other than in the country of its birth. China ranks as the country least affected by the pandemic. It is a mystery as to how China has managed to stay largely unaffected by a virus that originated within its borders, even as neighbouring countries'--from Japan and South Korea to Nepal and India'--currently grapple with a Covid-19 surge.
From the start of the pandemic, China has systematically impeded international efforts to understand the true origins of the Covid-19 virus. Instead of coming clean on the virus' origins and providing answers that the world deserves, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 30th, expressing ''sincere sympathies'' on India's devastating second wave of Covid-19. It was a case of the victimiser country pretending to sympathise with the victim.
Authoritarian regimes rarely admit mistakes. If the virus did not originate in a lab and China was not guilty of any cover-up, wouldn't it be facilitating a transparent inquiry? China has done exactly the opposite. It has even refused to turn over the raw personalised health data from its first Covid-19 cases to the WHO
With its international clout, including at the World Health Organization (WHO), China has worked to stifle discussion on the origins of the virus. The international focus is not on the pandemic's genesis but on the threat posed by the virus' different variants, which have come to be identified with specific countries.
The Indian media too refer to the ''Indian variant,'' the ''Brazilian variant,'' the ''UK variant'' and the ''South African variant,'' but not to the original Chinese virus from Wuhan. In fact, it was Indians who nicknamed the B.1.617 strain as the ''Indian variant'' and as the ''double mutant'' (a term that scientifically makes no sense because the various variants of concern all contain more than a dozen mutations).
More broadly, the world is paying the price for China's cover-up and the WHO's mishandling of the pandemic's critical early stage. The WHO advised countries during the pandemic's initial phase against closing borders or mandating the wearing of masks'--measures that have since become central to stemming the spread of the disease.
As Covid-19 spread, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus dutifully used Chinese talking points and let China, as The New York Times said, ''take charge'' of the WHO's inquiry into the origins of the virus. By being too deferential to China throughout the crisis, the WHO provided cover to the actions of the world's largest autocracy in violating international norms.
For example, international regulations require countries to notify the WHO within 24 hours of the occurrence of a health emergency of potential international concern. After the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, WHO member states agreed to the establishment of a set of guidelines known as the International Health Regulations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (Photo: AP)Article 6 of these agreement obliges every state party, including China, to collect information on any ''public-health emergency of international concern within its territory'' and notify the WHO ''within 24 hours.'' Article 6 then states, ''Following a notification, a state party shall continue to communicate to the WHO timely, accurate and sufficiently detailed public-health information available to it on the notified event, where possible including case definitions, laboratory results, source and type of the risk, number of cases and deaths, conditions affecting the spread of the disease and the health measures employed; and report, when necessary, the difficulties faced and support needed in responding to the potential public health emergency of international concern.''
Yet China blatantly violated this rule. As an international panel appointed by Tedros acknowledged in its recent report, the WHO first learned of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan from Taiwan, from news articles, a public bulletin, and from an automated alert system that scans the internet for mentions of unexplained pneumonia.
China, instead of notifying the WHO, ''suppressed, falsified and obfuscated data and repressed advance warnings,'' as highlighted by Errol Patrick Mendes, a well-known, Canada-based international human-rights lawyer. As a result, the Covid-19 virus spread internationally and still remains a global menace. According to Oxford University chancellor Chris Patten, ''This is the CPC's coronavirus, not least because the party silenced brave Chinese doctors when they tried to blow the whistle on what was happening.''
The Wuhan Institute of Virology became the hub of international coronavirus research. Researchers experimented with RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified as the closest sample (96.2 per cent similar) to the Covid-19 virus
Yet, the Tedros-appointed ''independent'' panel, in its report released on May 12th, did not mention either China's flagrant violation of the international rule or how to enforce compliance in a future contingency. The report did not even make a passing reference to China's initial suppression of information on the Wuhan outbreak or its clampdown on whistleblowers who raised the alarm about the spread of the disease. Nor did it refer to China's unconscionable delay in releasing the virus' genetic information'--vital to help medical scientists elsewhere develop appropriate diagnostic tests and treatments to save lives.
In fact, the panel's report tacitly absolved both China and the WHO of responsibility for the pandemic. It even echoed Chinese disinformation: ''the virus may already have been in circulation outside China in the last months of 2019,'' it said. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate) co-chaired the 13-member panel, which included a retired Indian Administrative Service officer, Preeti Sudan, who served as health secretary until last year.
This panel shied away from unearthing the truth in the same way as the joint WHO-China probe into the origins of the pandemic. Through the Chinese participants, the Chinese government influenced the findings of the joint-probe report, which was released on March 30th. The 124-page report, written by a team of 17 Chinese scientists and 17 international experts, merely said China lacked the research to indicate how or when the virus began spreading.
'Bat Woman' Dr Shi Zhengli (left) in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Photo: Getty Images)Such has been Beijing's stonewalling that the WHO team seeking to study the virus' origins was allowed into China only in January 2021. Before admitting the WHO team, China systematically destroyed all incriminating evidence, according to a Japanese newsmagazine that accessed internal Chinese documents.
To make matters worse, the WHO team that went to China for the joint study lacked the expertise to investigate the possible lab origins of the virus. Its report was so patchy that even Tedros admitted that it failed to carefully sift evidence about a possible lab leak. Earlier, after coming under attack for his deference to Beijing, Tedros had pledged on November 30th, 2020, that, ''We want to know the origin and we will do everything to know the origin.''
Another factor has also aided China's cover-up of Covid-19's origins'--the US role. The Dr Anthony Fauci-led National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health financed dangerous lab research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) since 2014 to reengineer natural coronaviruses and make them more infectious for experiments. This was perhaps the most dangerous lab research ever conducted anywhere.
US President Joe Biden, for his part, frittered away the leverage his predecessor handed him to reform the WHO by rejoining that United Nations organisation on his first day in office. Biden's action came despite the fact that the WHO had taken no steps to separate itself from the malign influence of China or to cease being complicit in China's cover-up. America's rejoining of the WHO, as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in March, ''gave the Chinese a complete pass for the Wuhan virus'' and advertised American weakness.
After the WHO-rejoining decision, Biden signed a little-noticed presidential memorandum on January 26th that basically termed as racist any reference to the pandemic by the ''geographic location of its origin.'' The presidential memorandum directed that, ''Executive departments and agencies shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that official actions, documents and statements, including those that pertain to the Covid-19 pandemic, do not exhibit or contribute to racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.''
Consequently, the annual unclassified US intelligence report on threat assessment, released in April, was silent on the pandemic's Wuhan origin. That report is just one example.
Simply put, Biden's executive action ordering federal agencies to stop making references to the pandemic by the ''geographic location of its origin'' has made it an official US policy not to link the China-sourced virus to China. So, while there may be no more official US talk about where the virus came from or about the lab-leak theory, it is, strangely, still widely considered okay to refer to the variants by their geographic origin.
The Western media that objected to the Covid-19 virus being called the Wuhan or Chinese virus have been linking the new strains to the countries where they first arose. In other words, geographically labelling the original virus is racist but not its variants. The emergence of multiple variants of the original virus only underscores the mounting costs of China's cover-up, including preventing a transparent and thorough investigation of the pandemic's genesis.
Against this background, it is unlikely that Biden will call China out for its cover-up. China's coronavirus culpability may now be a proven fact, yet few world leaders have spoken up as clearly as Biden's predecessor Donald Trump did. Trump, for example, said on July 4th, 2020, ''China's secrecy, deception and cover-up allowed it to spread all over the world'--189 countries'--and China must be held fully accountable.''
US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Photo: Getty Images)Addressing the UN General Assembly on September 22nd, 2020, Trump declared that ''we must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.
In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world. China condemned my travel ban on their country, even as they cancelled domestic flights and locked citizens in their homes. The Chinese government and the World Health Organization'--which is virtually controlled by China'--falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease. The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.''
It is unlikely that US President Joe Biden will call China out for its cover-up. China's coronavirus culpability may now be a proven fact, yet few world leaders have spoken up as clearly as Biden's predecessor Donald Trump did
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has acknowledged that its researchers led by Dr Shi Zhengli, who was proud to be called the ''bat woman,'' were engaged in what is scientifically known as ''gain of function'' research. The term refers to the deliberate enhancement of the functions of natural viruses to make them more transmissible and more dangerous for experimental purposes.
There are several published papers by Chinese researchers about such ''gain of function'' research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Indeed, this institution became the hub of international coronavirus research before the pandemic erupted. Researchers there experimented with RaTG13, the bat coronavirus that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has identified as its closest sample (96.2 per cent similar) to the Covid-19 virus.
It is also an admitted fact that US taxpayer dollars partly financed the dangerous coronavirus research in Wuhan. As head of the NIAID, Dr Fauci played an important role in securing US federal grants for the coronavirus research in Wuhan. The money to the Wuhan institution was routed through the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, headed by British zoologist Peter Daszak.
After the pandemic flared, Dr Fauci and Dr Daszak, seeking to deflect attention from their potential culpability, took the lead in throwing cold water on the theory that the novel coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab. While repeatedly dismissing that theory, Fauci and Daszak hid their acute conflict of interest.
Donald Trump addresses the UN General Assembly, September 22, 2020Why did Dr Fauci funnel millions of dollars to a Chinese institution that the US government says was engaged in secret research for China's military? In a fact-sheet published on January 15th, the US State Department said that, despite the Wuhan Institute of Virology's claim to be a civilian institution, ''the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China's military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017. The United States and other donors who funded or collaborated on civilian research at the WIV have a right and obligation to determine whether any of our research funding was diverted to secret Chinese military projects at the WIV.''
The fact-sheet also declared that China has not ''demonstrably eliminated'' its bioweapon research in apparent breach of ''its clear obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention,'' which entered into force 46 years ago.
Dr Fauci, for his part, now claims that he has never supported ''gain of function'' research. This is contrary to his own published work.
Dr Fauci championed such research from the time it emerged in the scientific field. In a co-authored op-ed that first appeared in The Washington Post on December 30th, 2011, Dr Fauci declared that, ''much good can come from generating a potentially dangerous virus in the laboratory.'' (The newspaper's website has since changed the phrase ''much good can come'' to ''insights can come,'' although reprints of the op-ed elsewhere still show ''much good can come'...'') The op-ed cautioned that, ''Safeguarding against the potential accidental release or deliberate misuse of laboratory pathogens is imperative.'' Yet it is exactly this kind of dangerous lab research that the Dr Fauci-led NIAID financed at a lab in communist China since 2014.
The State Department's fact-sheet, while pointing out that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was researching viruses similar to the Covid-19 virus, said several researchers there became sick in autumn 2019 ''with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.''
Investigating the pandemic's genesis is critical for another reason'--this is not the first deadly disease to spread globally from China. China was the origin of earlier influenza epidemics, including, as Chinese scientists have acknowledged, the 1957 ''Asian flu,'' the 1968 ''Hong Kong flu'' and the 1977 ''Russian flu.'' According to new research, the 1918 ''Spanish flu'' that killed some 50 million people worldwide also originated in China.
Nor is the current pandemic the first case involving Chinese concealment of facts and samples. A Chinese coverup of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak in China triggered the world's first 21st-century pandemic. Getting to the bottom of how the Covid-19 pathogen flared and spread is essential for designing international rapid-response efforts to prevent a future local disease outbreak from spiralling into yet another pandemic.
However hard China may try, the theory that the Covid-19 virus escaped from a Wuhan lab refuses to go away. A leading American virologist, Dr Robert Redfield, who headed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, until January this year and had access to classified information, told CNN in March that ''the most likely aetiology of this pathogen'' is that it ''escaped'' from a lab in Wuhan.
Redfield said that, after escaping from the lab, the virus began transmitting in September-October 2019. One study, published in the journal Science, also found ''the period between mid-October and mid-November 2019'' to be ''the plausible interval when the first case'' of Covid-19 emerged in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.
In May, 18 scientists ''with relevant expertise'' declared in the journal Science that the lab-leak theory cannot be ruled out. They said, ''A proper investigation should be transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest.''
Earlier in March, another group of 26 respected international scientists and experts released an ''open letter'' describing the joint WHO-China study as fundamentally flawed and calling for a new, unrestricted investigation, including whether the virus leaked from a lab. They said the probe should be ''carried out by a truly independent team with no unresolved conflicts of interest and no full or partial control by any specific agenda or country.'' The United Nations General Assembly can vote to set up such an inquiry.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Wade's recent groundbreaking essay in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has helped renew attention on the lab-leak theory. This extract from the essay may explain why the US has shied away from exerting sustained pressure on China to come clean on the origins of a virus that has thus far killed nearly 3.5 million people officially and many more unofficially:
The US government shares a strange common interest with the Chinese authorities: Neither is keen on drawing attention to the fact that Shi's coronavirus work was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. One can imagine the behind-the-scenes conversation in which the Chinese government says, ''If this research was so dangerous, why did you fund it, and on our territory too?'' To which the US side might reply, ''Looks like it was you who let it escape. But do we really need to have this discussion in public?''
To be sure, no group of scientists has claimed that the Covid-19 virus was intentionally created as a bioweapon. However, a growing body of scientific opinion has come to believe that the virus' origin in a Wuhan lab, through accidental escape or accidental infection of lab employees or lab animals, is as likely as a naturally occurring spillover from wildlife to humans. According to the State Department's fact-sheet, ''Scientists in China have researched animal-derived coronaviruses under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure.''
Two aspects of the Covid-19 virus, in fact, strengthen the theory that it originated in a lab. The first is the fact that the virus, from the beginning, was already well adapted to indoor transmission.
As American biologist Bret Weinstein said on the Real Time with Bill Maher show, ''This virus attacks so many different tissues in the body, it does not seem natural. The fact that it does not, at least at the beginning did not seem to transmit outdoors nearly at all is very conspicuous. I mean, after all, most animals live outdoors. So, a virus that seems to be adapted to indoor transmission is a bit conspicuous.'' Outdoor Covid-19 transmission still remains rare.
The second aspect is the transmission efficiency of the virus. The virus, from the beginning, has been transmitting efficiently across all geographical and climatic zones, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender and age.
Dr Redfield, in the CNN interview, said a naturally occurring virus normally takes a while to figure out how to become ''more and more efficient'' in transmission. But a lab experimenter, he explained, would seek to make the virus grow better and more efficient in order to learn more about it. ''I have spent my life in virology. I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human, and at that moment in time, the virus'...became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission,'' Dr Redfield added.
As history attests, authoritarian regimes rarely admit mistakes. A highly repressive regime like the one in Beijing will certainly be loath to admit that a pandemic that has killed millions of people across the world resulted from its negligence and lax safety standards at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.If the virus did not originate in a lab and China was not guilty of any cover-up, wouldn't it be facilitating a transparent and independent inquiry by outside experts in order to clear the air with the rest of the world? China, however, has done exactly the opposite. It has even refused to turn over the raw personalized health data from its first Covid-19 cases to the WHO.
Furthermore, instead of giving outside investigators access to granular lab records, data and personnel so as to allow them to confidently evaluate the various hypotheses, Beijing has kept the Wuhan lab samples, records and research dossiers under lock and key. If the Chinese government did nothing wrong, why would it refuse to share raw data and grant complete, transparent access to the research facilities in Wuhan?
Let us be clear: Lab leaks have happened in the past. One example was the Soviet-era 1979 anthrax leak from Sverdlovsk, which Moscow admitted only in 1992 after the Soviet Union's disintegration. According to the State Department's fact-sheet, ''Accidental infections in labs have caused several previous virus outbreaks in China and elsewhere, including a 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people, killing one.''
Although knowing Covid-19's origins is critical to the prevention of future pandemics, China'--as an Associated Press investigation has revealed'--is ''strictly controlling all research into its origins, clamping down on some while actively promoting fringe theories that it could have come from outside China.'' The clampdown on all information has come from the CCP leadership.
The party's culture of secrecy and control resulted in the virus spreading worldwide from China. Through its unrivalled surveillance, censorship and propaganda systems, the CCP is able to construct and control a narrative. China's initial coronavirus cover-up relied on these systems, resulting in a local outbreak in Wuhan morphing into a still-raging global health calamity. The CCP's focus remains on preventing the truth from coming out.
But as former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently, ''every piece of evidence'' suggests that, despite China's cover-up of the pandemic's genesis, the Covid-19 virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab. He warned that the ''risk that something like this happens again from that laboratory or another Chinese laboratory is very real. They [China] are operating and conducting activities that are inconsistent with their capacity to secure those facilities. And the risk of bioweapons and bioterror emanating from this region is very real.''
The pandemic-caused infections, deaths and disruptions have driven negative views of China to new heights internationally, according to a Pew Research Centre survey. China has been trying to repair the damage to its reputation by pursuing ''vaccine diplomacy,'' just as it pushed ''mask diplomacy'' in the early stages of the pandemic. The Biden administration, unfortunately, has aided China's ''vaccine diplomacy'' by leaving developing nations in the lurch through its vaccine hoarding at home.
Still, China's persistent refusal to come clean, coupled with the rising international tide of distrust of that country, has helped fuel greater interest in investigating the pandemic's true genesis. An increasing number of international scientists have started to debate whether the pandemic occurred because of a lab leak in Wuhan. Fact-based scientists are fond of the aphorism, ''Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.''
China may believe that it has got away with creating the Covid-19 pandemic, as it did with spawning the SARS pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, marks a watershed in history that will continue to dog China. Thanks to Covid-19, many countries have learned hard lessons about China-dependent supply chains, and international attitudes towards Xi's regime have shifted.
Last year, Beijing aggressively denounced international voices calling for it to pay compensation for the pandemic-inflicted damage. These voices included the Trump administration, which said it was looking at ways of holding China financially responsible for the pandemic and the economic damage it has caused worldwide.
In 2021, no one is suggesting that China be sued for damages, largely because such action seems unrealistic. China's international power and clout are all too visible. Yet, with the pandemic still battering large parts of the world, China continues to incur immeasurable costs to its reputation and image. Those costs cumulatively would likely surpass any possible reparations claim against it.
In a karma-is-a-bitch way, China will indeed pay for spawning the pandemic.
About The Auth o r
Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and the author of two award-winning books on water: Water, Peace, and War and Water: Asia's New Battleground
Mice own Under
Australian Mice plague BOTG
ITM Adam,
Just a quick note about the Australian mouse plague you touched on in Ep 1349. These happen every
few years, so it's not uncommon. Rural media covers them, but the city-centric mainstream doesn't
bother covering them as they don't affect people living there. Until now now apparently. The NSW
plague seems to be spreading into Canberra, where all the politicians are, which is why it seems to
be getting media attention.
I was living in remote areas of South Australia between 2009 and 2012 and went through two mouse
plagues. They suck. Literally millions of mice appear out of nowhere and eat everything over a
period of weeks/months. Farmers spend millions on baits to protect their crops, but they generally
lose more than they save. The only thing that slows the plague it is either a hot summer so they
all die from the heat, or a decent winter, as enough of them freeze that it halts the population
It's tiring to have to constantly clean, so that your house doesn't stink of mouse excrement.
Waking in the middle of the night to find 50 having a party on your kitchen bench. Having to store
everything edible in airtight containers so the mice can't get to it. Driving along roads at night,
thinking leaves are blowing across the road, but no, you're running down hundreds of mice. In a
single water trap I was catching around 100 per day. It's extremely stressful, but there it nothing
anyone can do.
Thanks for your courage.
Australian Mice Flamethrower
I had relatives in the outback during a previous mice outbreak. They used a home made flamethrower to control them...
Sir capital Morgan
Dingo Fence - Wikipedia
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:03
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to searchLarge pest-exclusion fence in Australia
The Dingo Fence or Dog Fence is a pest-exclusion fence that was built in Australia during the 1880s and finished in 1885, to keep dingoes out of the relatively fertile south-east part of the continent (where they had largely been exterminated) and protect the sheep flocks of southern Queensland. It is one of the longest structures in the world. It stretches 5,614 kilometres (3,488 mi)[1] from Jimbour on the Darling Downs near Dalby through thousands of kilometres of arid land ending west of Eyre peninsula on cliffs of the Nullarbor Plain[2] above the Great Australian Bight[3] near Nundroo.[4] It has been partly successful, though dingoes can still be found in parts of the southern states. Although the fence has helped reduce losses of sheep to predators, this has been countered by holes in fences found in the 1990s through which dingo offspring have passed[2] and by increased pasture competition from rabbits and kangaroos.
Geography [ edit ] The 2,500 km (1,553 mi) section of the fence in Queensland is also known as the Great Barrier Fence or Wild Dog Barrier Fence 11. It is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Wild Dog Barrier Fence staff consists of 23 employees, including two-person teams that patrol a 300 km (186 mi) section of the fence once every week. There are depots at Quilpie and Roma.[5]
The Queensland Border Fence stretches for 394 km (245 mi) westwards along the border with New South Wales, into the Strzelecki Desert. The fence passes the point where the three states of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia meet (Cameron Corner). At this point, it connects with the South Australian Border Fence, which runs for 257 km (160 mi) southwards along the border with New South Wales,[6] these two sections are managed by the New South Wales Wild Dog Destruction Board.[7] It then joins a section known as the Dog Fence in South Australia, which is 2,225 km (1,383 mi) long.[1]
Physical design [ edit ] The fence varies in construction. Mostly it is made of 180 cm (6 ft) high wire mesh but some sections in South Australia comprise multi-strand electric fence.[8] The fence line on both sides is cleared to a 5 m (5 yd; 20 ft) width. Sheep and cattle stations in Australia protected by the fence are astoundingly large. While varying in size, some stations can be larger than small countries. One station alone in South Australia lost over 11,000 sheep in a year due to dingo attacks before the completion of the fence. As recently as 1991, one station lost 3000 sheep in a year[citation needed ]. Sheep farmers fought back by using poisoning, shooting, and eventually constructing the longest fence in the world. Aerial poison bait drops are still used today.
Parts of the Dingo Fence are lit at night by 86 mm (3.4 in) cold cathode fluorescent lamps which are alternately red and white. They are powered by long life batteries which are charged by photovoltaic cells during the day.[9] At minor and farm crossings, a series of gates allow vehicles to pass through the fence.[10] Where the fence intersects major roads and highways, cattle grids are used to allow high-speed vehicles through.
History [ edit ] A portion of the Dingo Fence in 1952 in Queensland
Dingo pups found just metres east of the Dingo Fence in 1976
The earliest pest exclusion fences in Australia were created to protect small plots of cropland from the predation by marsupials. In the 1860s and 1870s, introduced rabbit populations began to spread rapidly across southern Australia. By 1884, a rabbit-proof fence was built. Having been unsuccessful at keeping rabbits out, and more successful at keeping out pigs, kangaroos, emus and brumbies, and as more sheep farms were established, the interest for a dingo-proof barrier increased enough that government funds were being used to heighten and expand the fence. In 1930, an estimated 32,000 km of dog netting in Queensland alone was being used on top of rabbit fences. Prior to 1948, the idea of a Dingo Barrier Fence Scheme had not come into fruition as a statewide project for which annual maintenance and repair were kept. Since this time, there have been pushes to move away from a method of barrier-exclusion to complete extinction of the dingo and wild-dog cross-breeds. Poisoning the species with compound 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) baits has been seen as a much cheaper alternative than fence maintenance. A compromise in the form of the continued use of poison and the shortening of the fence from its previous length of over 8000 km has been made.
In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the dingo fence was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as an iconic "innovation and invention".[11]
Environmental impact [ edit ] Distribution map of Australian dingoes. The black line represents the Dingo Fence (after Fleming et al. 2001).
It seems that there are fewer kangaroos and emus on the northwestern side of the fence where the dingoes are, suggesting that the dingoes' presence reduces the populations of those animals.[12]It has also been suggested that the larger kangaroo populations inside the fence have been caused by the lack of dingo predation, and competition for food leads to lower sheep stocking rates than would be possible without the fence.
Believed to have been introduced into Australia by Aboriginals between 4,600 and 18,300 years ago,[13] the dingo's status as a native or introduced species in Australia has been a controversy. According to Dr. Mike Letnic, at the Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW, the dingo, as Australia's top predator, has an important role in maintaining the balance of nature and that reintroduced or existing dingo populations could increase biodiversity across more than 2 million square kilometres of Australia (Avolia 2009). Where dingoes had been exterminated, Dr. Letnic found increased abundances of introduced red foxes and herbivores, while small native mammals and grasses were lost. In 2011 the Liberal MP for Stuart, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, called for a $200 bounty on dingos.[14]
Although the fence has helped reduce the loss of sheep to predators, the exclusion of dingoes has allowed for increased pasture competition from rabbits, kangaroos and emus. Sheep are being lost to increasing numbers of feral dogs[citation needed ].
Drone and satellite technology have illustrated how removing dingos changes vegetation growth.[15]
See also [ edit ] Agricultural fencingRabbit-proof fenceSeparation barrierTemporary fencingGallery [ edit ] Dingo Barrier fence, near Bell, Queensland. 2018
Dingo Barrier fence crossing, near Bell, Queensland. 2018
Dingo Barrier fence sign, near Bell, Queensland, Australia. Sign on gate for stock adjacent to cattle grid. 2018
References [ edit ] ^ a b Downward, R.J.; Bromell, J.E. (March 1990). "The development of a policy for the management of dingo populations in South Australia". Proceedings of the Fourteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference 1990. University of Nebraska - Lincoln . Retrieved 31 August 2009 . ^ a b "Dingo numbers out of control: pastoralists". ABC News (Australia). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 October 2009 . Retrieved 2 November 2009 . ^ Helps, Y.L.M., Moller, J., Kowanko, I,. Harrison, J.E., O'Donnell, K. & de Crespigny, C. (October 2008). "Road Safety Grant Report 2008-01 - Aboriginal People Travelling Well: Issues of safety, transport and health" (PDF) . Australian Government - Department of Regional Development and Local Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011 . Retrieved 2 November 2009 . CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) ^ "South Australia's National Parks Guide" (PDF) . Government of South Australia - Department for Environment and Heritage. 2008''2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2009 . Retrieved 2 November 2009 . ^ Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (29 September 2005). "History of barrier fences in Queensland" (PDF) . Retrieved 31 August 2009 . ^ "Wild Dog Destruction Act 1921 - Sect 3 (updated)". New South Wales Consolidated Acts. Australasian Legal Information Institute. 6 July 2009. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011 . Retrieved 31 August 2009 . ^ Druce, Alex (31 May 2017). "Off the fence: Wild Dog Destruction Board resists LLS merger". The Land. North Richmond . Retrieved 28 February 2021 . ^ Yelland, Leith; Fraser, Patricia (2012). Holding the line: a history of the South Australian Dog Fence Board, 1947 to 2012 (PDF) . Adelaide: Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA. p. 53. ISBN 9781921399374. ^ News - JKL Components Corporation Archived 27 October 2005 at the Wayback Machine ^ Spennemann, Dirk HR. "Images of Warri Warri Gate". Flickr.com . Retrieved 12 September 2019 . ^ Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017 . Retrieved 24 May 2017 . ^ A. R. Pople, G. C. Grigg, S. C. Cairns, L. A. Beard and P. Alexander (2000). "Trends in the numbers of red kangaroos and emus on either side of the South Australian dingo fence: evidence for predator regulation?" (PDF) . Wildlife Research. 27 (3): 269 - 276. doi:10.1071/WR99030. CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) ^ ^ "$200 a head bounty for dingoes". The Advertiser . Retrieved 12 September 2019 . ^ "A Reminder of a Desert's Past, Before Dingo Removal" . Retrieved 16 April 2021 .
Noodle Gun
CRAZY! Google Launches 'Inclusive Language' Warnings for 'Offensive,' and 'Gendered' Words | Newsbusters
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:19
Google announced new warnings for Google Workspace to help users avoid so-called ''offensive'' and ''gendered'' words.
The company introduced its ''inclusive language'' warnings in Google Workspace apps at its I/O Developer conference on Tuesday. Javier Soltero, Vice President of Google Workspace, offered as an example the word ''chairman.''
The ''gendered'' word would trigger a warning that reads: ''This indicates gender. If you would like to choose gender inclusive phrasing consider: chair, chairperson.'' The feature, Soltero said, was designed to help users ''communicate effectively,'' and would, according to a Google Cloud blog, ''make [their] writing more impactful.''
The new warnings follow Google's recently updated ''Writing inclusive documentation,'' which advises developers to avoid ''ableist'' and gendered phrases even when clearly referring to tech development and not to people. The style guide recommended replacing ''crazy outliers in the data'' with ''baffling outliers in the data,'' ''cripples the service'' with ''slows down the service'' and ''man-hours'' with ''person-hours.''
The same guide offered a list of prohibited words and words to be used with caution. Gendered pronouns are to be avoided unless used to refer to ''a specific individual of known gender.'' Instead, Google recommends developers use incorrect grammar and refer to singular individuals with the plural pronouns ''they'' and ''their'' when gender is unknown.
Google similarly eliminated gendered pronouns from Gmail text suggestions, in 2018, according to Reuters. Reuters reported at the time that ''Google's technology will not suggest gender-based pronouns because the risk is too high that its 'Smart Compose' technology might predict someone's sex or gender identity incorrectly and offend users.'' Reuters admitted, however, that such instances account for fewer than one percent of ''Smart Compose'' suggestions.
Other tech companies have instituted similar warning labels and gender inclusion initiatives. Twitter, earlier this month, began a ''limited experiment'' which asks iOS users whether they ''want to revise'' their replies if ''potentially harmful or offensive'' content is detected. Just last week, Instagram introduced an array of pronouns users can add to their profiles. The list included absurd options like ''xe/xem/xyr, ze/hir/hirs, thon/thons, ey/em/eir and fae/faer/faers, and many more,'' according to People Magazine.
Google did not respond to MRC Free Speech America's request for comment at the time of publication.
Contact Google at (650) 253-000, or by mail to 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043, and demand that Big Tech stop censoring conservatives while allowing brazenly unscientific nonsense to be pushed. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.
Great Reset
Lumber prices - Russia Banning Timber Exports! Rare Knowledge Found.
I’d had enough of the media's “Muh Covid hurrrr lumber price” and decided to get to the bottom of this. Like I’m not a geneticist I’m also not a tree expert, this is just what I found out of curiosity.
Russia is the primary timber supplier to China. Banning fully in 2022 but the chilling effect on exports already in progress. China can’t import from Australia at this time because Australia has a tree pest in their timber China can’t afford to import this pest. New Zealand exports to China through the roof! Country is tiny + half the population humps a tree twice a day so that market has intrinsic limitations.
Meanwhile, China’s timber imports are at record highs.
TL;DR - Long as Russia, a vast land made of Tree sticks with an export ban, high lumber prices are likely here to stay.
Also, similar kinda thing going on with corn, China bought metric ass loads of ethanol and something like $3 billion in corn in May alone, in one week!
Flies and Maggots in 78704
Ok I’m in 78704, yeah yeah, but check this out, we have had a plague of flies every summer since
2019. I buy 8 packs of those hanging fly trap bags you put the water in with the bait that smells
like ripe road kill. They get maxed out on flies in about one week. I’d guess the capacity before
they get too disgusting and smell like pure ass is around 25,000 flies. It’s now warm enough that
the fly-apocalypse begins again.
I figured it out today. It’s the compost collection bins that went citywide in 2019. They put a
distributed maggot farming system all over the entire city.
This is similar to the rain barrels they distributed for free at some point in the past, it
predates my moving here. They are durable barrels and have lasted forever but they are designed to
be impossible to drain to the bottom. They put mosquito generation units all over the city!
These morons in public “service” should be forced to take a test on unintended consequences. Not
multiple choice. Answers limited to 12 words in a maximum of two sentences. Pass or fail determined
by hillbillies with a minimum of 1 sq-ft of visible scar tissue, including the scar tissue covered
by their beards. But that would be both racist and sexist (because they would all fail) so that
ain’t gonna happen.
Congrats on moving to Waco, fuck this fucking Austin shit, I’m so sick of it. I don’t know where we
are going but a long weekend trip to Utopia west of San Antonio a couple of years back does come to
mind as a place to investigate again.
Leaked Emails Show Crime App Citizen Is Testing On-Demand Security Force
Sun, 23 May 2021 11:17
Hacking. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard's podcast and reporting on the dark underbelly of the internet.
Crime and neighborhood watch app Citizen has ambitions to deploy private security workers to the scene of disturbances at the request of app users, according to leaked internal Citizen documents and Citizen sources.
The plans mark a dramatic expansion of Citizen's purview. It is currently an app where users report "incidents" in their neighborhoods and, based on those reports and police scanner transcriptions, the app sends "real-time safety alerts" to users about crime and other incidents happening near where a user is located. It is essentially a mapping app that allows users to both report and learn about crime (or what users of the app perceive to be crime) in their neighborhood. The introduction of in-person, private security forces drastically alters the service, and potential impact, that Citizen may offer in the future, and provides more context as to why a Citizen-branded vehicle has been spotted driving around Los Angeles. The news comes after Citizen offered a $30,000 bounty against a person it falsely accused of starting a wildfire.
"The broad master plan was to create a privatized secondary emergency response network," one former Citizen employee told Motherboard. Motherboard granted multiple sources anonymity to protect them from retaliation from the company.
"It's been something discussed for a while but I personally never expected it to make it this far," another Citizen source told Motherboard.
Do you work at Citizen? Do you have access to internal Citizen documents? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.
In short, the product, described as "security response" in internal emails, would have Citizen send a car with private security forces to an app user, according to the former employee. A private security company working with Citizen would provide the response staff, the former employee added. A second Citizen source confirmed this description of the service.
Citizen has been actively testing the program, with what the company describes as quick response times and instant communication between Citizen and security partners, according to the emails.
One of those companies, according to the emails, is well-known private security contractor Securitas. The email about the tests says that Securitas average response times have improved to around 20 minutes. In one case, a guard showed up in 10 minutes to escort a Citizen employee to get coffee in Los Angeles. One of the former employees also said Securitas was involved.
The email added that the user and agent experience needed to be improved, and that Citizen was reviewing the results with Securitas to make those improvements.
The email also names LAPS, or Los Angeles Professional Security. On Friday, Motherboard reported that Los Angeles Professional Security is linked to a Citizen-branded vehicle driving around Los Angeles. A Citizen spokesperson told Motherboard that the vehicle is part of a pilot program but declined to say exactly what that program consisted of. On its website, Los Angeles Professional Security describes itself as a "subscription law enforcement service." The internal Citizen email says the company is "an additional response partner."
Another image of the Citizen-branded car. Image: Twitter via Angel Carreras.
A Citizen spokesperson told Motherboard that "LAPS offers a personal rapid response service that we are testing internally with employees as a small test. For example, if someone would like an escort to walk them home late at night, they can request this service. We have spoken with various partners in designing this pilot project." The spokesperson did not address other questions from Motherboard about the content of the leaked emails.
One of the emails says that Citizen has pitched the security response service to the Los Angeles Police Department at a high level. The email claims the LAPD said the solution could be a game changer. The email adds that the LAPD has been overrun with property crime, and the agency has effectively thrown its hands up because they don't have enough officers on the street to respond to these sorts of calls. The LAPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Currently, Citizen offers a subscription product called "Protect," which costs $19.99 per month. Protect sends a user's location to a Citizen employee when it's turned on, can stream video to a "Protect agent" when activated using a safeword, and is pitched to users as a "digital bodyguard." Protect also advertises "Instant emergency response to your exact location," and says "Live monitoring means you never have to walk alone." It is not clear if the private security response would be tied to Protect or another service.
Securitas did not respond to a request for comment. Los Angeles Professional Security acknowledged a request for comment but did not provide a response in time for publication.
Experts have criticized Citizen, saying the app may lead people to report things that aren't crime and may foster racism.
"Honestly Citizen as an app simply doesn't need to exist and it's more and more apparent as the months go on that leadership is just a bunch of scum," the former employee said.
Subscribe to our cybersecurity podcast CYBER, here.
By signing up to the VICE newsletter you agree to receive electronic communications from VICE that may sometimes include advertisements or sponsored content.
GOP states ramp up legal battles against Biden's immigration policies | Fox News
Sun, 23 May 2021 11:27
Published May 22, 2021
Last Update 9 hrs ago
The Biden administration has rolled back a number of key Trump-era immigration policiesAs the Biden administration has been working rapidly to undo key Trump-era border and immigration policies and replace them with more liberal policies, Republican state attorneys general have been working just as hard to push back against what they see as illegal actions that could hurt Americans and put them in danger.
"As attorney general I have certain tools in my toolbox, and I have said I am going to do everything I can to enforce the rule of law and to protect hard-working American taxpayers," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in an interview with Fox News.
Arizona currently has multiples lanes of litigation it is pursuing on both legal and illegal immigration. One of those is a lawsuit, with Missouri, over the administration's narrowed interior enforcement guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
That guidance, issued in February, narrows enforcement priorities to recent border crossers, national security threats and "aggravated felons." While those outside of those categories are not ruled out from arrest or deportation, agents need pre-approval from superiors to arrest them.
That guidance for ICE was issued after Texas had sued the Biden administration over an initial plan to impose a 100-day moratorium on deportations. Texas won the lawsuit, and earlier this month the Biden administration announced it had abandoned the policy after the 100 day period had passed '' marking the first legal victory for the GOP states.
"This is a big win for Texas and the nation. It sends a clear message to the Biden administration that they will not be able to violate federal immigration law and endanger the lives of Texans," Texas AG Ken Paxton said in a statement last week. "This Administration's failed policies have only exacerbated the crisis at our southern border, and further exhausted the regular duties of our law enforcement officers."
"This is a big win for Texas and the nation. It sends a clear message to the Biden administration that they will not be able to violate federal immigration law and endanger the lives of Texans."
'-- Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, May 1, 2018. (Associated Press)
Having shot down the deportation moratorium, the states are now hoping to shut down other parts of the Biden immigration agenda '' including the ICE rules they say amounts to the same policy as the deportation moratorium. The new ICE guidance has coincided with a dramatic decrease of arrests and deportations and the discovery process triggered by the lawsuit led to the release of an email that showed that ICE officials predicted such a drop in arrests would occur.
Depositions beginAs part of that, the states have also been able to begin deposing officials, the first depositions of which were released this month -- including an ICE official saying that the reason for the narrowing of enforcement was not due to limited resources, as the administration had claimed.
Texas, Arizona and Missouri have also taken aim at the Biden administration's rollback of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) -- a Trump-era policy which kept migrants in Mexico as they awaited their hearings. Critics called it cruel and left migrants in danger, while supporters said it reduced the pull factors bringing migrants north.
That effort by the states has recently included filing a preliminary injunction and requesting the Supreme Court intervene in the lawsuit.
"We're asking the court to side with our office and issue a preliminary injunction, which would require the Biden Administration to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt told Fox News. "My office will never back down from fighting human trafficking and ensuring that all six million Missourians are safe."
"My office will never back down from fighting human trafficking and ensuring that all six million Missourians are safe."
'-- Eric Schmitt, Missouri attorney general
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2019. (Getty Images)
The claim by the states opposing the ICE guidance and the rollback of MPP is that they are not only illegal, but that they are fueling the crisis at the southern border and putting Americans in danger by either releasing, or keeping, criminal illegal immigrants on the streets. They also claim that it increases costs such as healthcare, education and public assistance in their states.
"Practically speaking, the result of what the Biden administration is doing, it is literally slashing the amount of people being deported, slashing amount of arrests and it literally means people that are dangerous, people who are felons are being released into our communities, so that is a threat to every neighborhood and every person," Brnovich said.
"People that are dangerous, people who are felons are being released into our communities, so that is a threat to every neighborhood and every person."
'-- Mark Brnovich, Arizona attorney general
Separately, a coalition of 11 Republican states have sought to intervene to defend the Trump-era public charge rule -- which barred green cards for legal immigrants on temporary visas deemed likely to be reliant on welfare. The rule was challenged in a lawsuit during the Trump administration. The lawsuit carried into the Biden administration, which has declined to defend the rule, arguing it "is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources."
Other lawsuitsMeanwhile, Texas has launched other lawsuits, including suing the administration for increasing the risk of COVID-19 by allowing thousands of migrants in, often in packed facilities.
"Instead of using the CDC's authority to prevent the introduction of covered aliens into the United States during a pandemic, Defendants have chosen to take courses of action that have resulted in the release of tens of thousands of aliens into Texas and the United States," the lawsuit says. "Absent this Court's intervention, such releases will continue for the foreseeable future."
Texas and Louisiana both sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier this month for its alleged refusal to take criminal illegal immigrants into custody, as part of the ICE interim guidance.
Arizona has also sued over the Biden administration's ending of border wall construction, claiming that the result has been environmental harm as hundreds of thousands of migrants make the journey and cause environmental damage on the way.
The legal push by Republican states is in many ways a flip side of what Democratic states did during the Trump administration -- launching numerous lawsuits against Trump-era policies, particularly on immigration. Those efforts regularly succeeded in gumming up the cogs of policy.
Brnovich says it is different this time, as this isn't about policy difference but legality over what he says is an effort by the Biden administration to unilaterally write the law.
"I start with the basic fundamental principle that the rule of law has to mean something, and if people don't like the law or don't like a policy, in this country we have elections you change leadership and you can change laws," he said. "But no person, and especially the president, is a king or dictator, they cant unilaterally write the law and I believe on a fundamental level that the Biden administration is literally disregarding the law, and there is a basic fundamental question of whether the President of the United States should be able to do that -- and we obviously think 'no.'"
The Purge
Voting Machines in Arizona Recount Should Be Replaced, Election Official Says - The New York Times
Fri, 21 May 2021 10:54
Politics | Voting Machines in Arizona Recount Should Be Replaced, Election Official Says https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/20/us/politics/arizona-recount-voting-machines.htmlThe Democratic secretary of state said she had ''grave concerns regarding the security and integrity'' of the machines that were examined to appease ardent backers of Donald J. Trump.
A contractor in Phoenix packed up the servers needed to recount ballots from November's presidential election. Credit... Courtney Pedroza for The New York Times May 20, 2021
Arizona's top elections official on Thursday urged the state's most populous county to replace hundreds of voting machines that have been examined as part of a Republican-backed review of the state's November election.
The request added fuel to charges by impartial election observers and voting rights advocates that the review, ordered in December by the Republicans who control the State Senate, had become a political sham.
In a letter to officials of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the elections official, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, said it was unclear whether companies hired to conduct the review had sufficiently safeguarded the equipment from tampering during their review of votes.
Ms. Hobbs, a Democrat, recommended that the county replace its 385 voting machines and nine vote tabulators because ''the lack of physical security and transparency means we cannot be certain who accessed the voting equipment and what might have been done to them.''
The advisory, in a letter to the county's board of supervisors, did not contend that the machines had been breached. But Ms. Hobbs wrote that she had ''grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines, given that the chain of custody, a critical security tenet, has been compromised.''
She added that she had first consulted experts at the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the national authority for election security issues.
A spokeswoman for the county elections department said county officials ''will not use any of the returned tabulation equipment unless the county, state and vendor are confident that there is no malicious hardware or software installed on the devices.''
If the county decides to scrap the machines, it is unclear who would be responsible for paying to replace them. The State Senate agreed to indemnify the county against financial losses resulting from the audit.
Republicans in the State Senate who ordered the review of the election said they wanted to reassure ardent backers of former President Donald J. Trump who refused to accept his narrow loss in Arizona. The review focused on Maricopa County, which produced two-thirds of the vote statewide.
Mr. Trump has asserted that the audit would confirm his claims that his election loss was because of fraud, a charge that virtually every election expert rejects. With no formal electoral authority, the review could not change the results in Arizona.
The audit was bombarded with charges of partisan bias after the State Senate hired a firm to manage the review whose top executive had spread baseless charges that Mr. Trump's loss in the state was a result of fraud. The criticism has only mounted after nonpartisan election observers and journalists documented repeated lapses in the review's process for recounting ballots.
U.S. seizes $90,000 from man who sold footage of U.S. Capitol riot | Reuters
Sun, 23 May 2021 11:43
Police release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
U.S. authorities have confiscated roughly $90,000 from a Utah man who sold footage of a woman being fatally shot during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, according to court filings.
Prosecutors also have filed additional criminal charges against the man, John Earle Sullivan, a self-described political activist who is accused of entering the Capitol building and participating in the riot, the filings unsealed on Thursday showed.
Sullivan now faces a total of eight criminal counts, including weapons charges, related to the riot. Sullivan's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors have charged more than 440 people in connection with the attack in which Trump supporters stormed the Capitol after he gave a speech to them repeating his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud. The mob smashed windows, fought police and sent lawmakers into hiding. Five people died.
Many participants, including Sullivan, posted their actions on social media. read more
According to the court filings, Sullivan portrayed himself as an independent journalist who was reporting on the chaos, but actually encouraged other participants to "burn" the building and engage in violence.
Sullivan recorded video of the confrontation between rioters and police just outside the U.S. House of Representatives chamber that included the shooting of protester Ashli Babbitt and, according to court filings, boasted to an unnamed witness that "my footage is worth like a million of dollars, millions of dollars."
Sullivan sold that footage to several news outlets for a total of $90,000, according to a seizure warrant. The news outlets were redacted from the warrant.
According to media reports, Sullivan participated in Black Lives Matter protests last year. Other Black Lives Matter activists in his home state have disavowed him.
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Out There
99942 Apophis - Wikipedia
Sat, 22 May 2021 14:41
99942 Apophis () is a near-Earth asteroid and potentially hazardous asteroid with a diameter of 370 metres (1,210 feet) that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 when initial observations indicated a probability up to 2.7% that it would hit Earth on April 13, 2029. Additional observations provided improved predictions that eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth in 2029. However, until 2006, a possibility remained that during the 2029 close encounter with Earth, Apophis would pass through a gravitational keyhole, a small region no more than about 800 metres ( 1 ' 2 mi) in diameter,[11][12] that would set up a future impact exactly seven years later on April 13, 2036. This possibility kept it at Level 1 on the Torino impact hazard scale until August 2006, when the probability that Apophis would pass through the keyhole was determined to be very small and Apophis's rating on the Torino scale was lowered to zero. By 2008, the keyhole had been determined to be less than 1 km wide.[11] During the short time when it had been of greatest concern, Apophis set the record for highest rating on the Torino scale, reaching level 4 on December 27, 2004.[13]
The diameter of Apophis is estimated to be approximately 370 metres (1,210 ft).[4] Preliminary observations by Goldstone radar in January 2013 effectively ruled out the possibility of an Earth impact by Apophis in 2036.[14] By May 6, 2013 (April 15, 2013, observation arc), the probability of an impact on April 13, 2036, had been eliminated.[4] Apophis will make two modest approaches to Earth in 2036, but even the planet Venus will come closer to Earth in 2036. On April 12, 2068, the nominal trajectory has Apophis 1.87 AU (280 million km) from Earth.[15] Entering March 2021, there were six asteroids with a more notable cumulative Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale than Apophis, though none of them has a Torino level greater than 0.[16][a] On average, an asteroid the size of Apophis (370 metres) can be expected to impact Earth once in about 80,000 years.[17] Observations in 2020 by the Subaru telescope have confirmed David Vokrouhlick½'s 2015 Yarkovsky effect predictions.[18] Goldstone radar observed Apophis March 3-11, 2021 helping to refine the orbit.[19] On March 25, 2021, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that Apophis has no chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years.[20][21] The uncertainty in the 2029 approach distance had been reduced from hundreds of kilometers to just a couple of kilometers[22] greatly enhancing knowledge of future approaches. It was removed from the Sentry Risk Table the next day.[23]
Discovery and naming Edit Apophis was discovered on June 19, 2004, by Roy A. Tucker, David J. Tholen, and Fabrizio Bernardi at the Kitt Peak National Observatory.[1] On December 21, 2004, Apophis passed 0.0964 AU (14.42 million km; 8.96 million mi) from Earth.[1] Precovery observations from March 15, 2004, were identified on December 27, and an improved orbit solution was computed.[25][26] Radar astrometry in January 2005 further refined its orbit solution.[27][28] The discovery was notable in that it was at a very low solar elongation (56°) and at very long range (1.1 AU). See diagram below:
Position of 99942 Apophis relative the
Earth and
Sun, compared to the positions of other
NEOs at the time of their discovery
[29]When first discovered, the object received the provisional designation 2004 MN4 , and early news and scientific articles naturally referred to it by that name. Once its orbit was sufficiently well calculated, it received the permanent number 99942 (on June 24, 2005). Receiving a permanent number made it eligible for naming by its discoverers, and they chose the name "Apophis" on July 19, 2005.[30] Apophis is the Greek name of Apep, an enemy of the Ancient Egyptian sun-god Ra. He is the Uncreator, an evil serpent that dwells in the eternal darkness of the Duat and tries to swallow Ra during his nightly passage. Apep is held at bay by Set, the Ancient Egyptian god of storms and the desert.
Tholen and Tucker, two of the co-discoverers of the asteroid, are reportedly fans of the television series Stargate SG-1. One of the show's persistent villains is an alien named Apophis. He is one of the principal threats to the existence of civilization on Earth through the first few seasons, thus likely why the asteroid was named after him. In the fictional world of the show, the alien's backstory was that he had lived on Earth during ancient times and had posed as a god, thereby giving rise to the myth of the Egyptian god of the same name.[30]
The mythological creature Apophis is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable (/Ë...pÉfɪs/). In contrast, the asteroid's name is generally accented on the second syllable (/ÉËpÉ'fɪs/) as the name was pronounced in the TV series.
Physical characteristics Edit Comparison between the best-fit convex and nonconvex shape models, and some of the available radar images of (99942) Apophis
Based upon the observed brightness, Apophis's diameter was initially estimated at 450 metres (1,480 ft); a more refined estimate based on spectroscopic observations at NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii by Binzel, Rivkin, Bus, and Tokunaga (2005) is 350 metres (1,150 ft). NASA's impact risk page lists the diameter at 330 metres (1,080 ft) and lists a mass of 4 — 10 10 kg based on an assumed density of 2.6 g/cm3.[4] The mass estimate is more approximate than the diameter estimate, but should be accurate to within a factor of three.[4] Apophis's surface composition probably matches that of LL chondrites.[31]
Based on Goldstone and Arecibo radar images taken in 2012''2013, Brozović et al. have estimated that Apophis is an elongated object 450'‰—'‰170 metres in size, and that it is bilobed (possibly a contact binary) with a relatively bright surface albedo of 0.35 ± 0.10 . Its rotation axis has an obliquity of ''59° against the ecliptic, which means that Apophis is a retrograde rotator.[3]
During the 2029 approach, Apophis's brightness will peak at magnitude 3.1,[32] easily visible to the naked eye if one knows where to look, with a maximum angular speed of 42° per hour. The maximum apparent angular diameter will be ~2 arcseconds, so that it will be barely resolved by ground-based telescopes not equipped with adaptive optics but very well resolved by those that are.[citation needed ] Due to the closeness of the approach, it is likely that tidal forces will alter Apophis's rotation axis. A partial resurfacing of the asteroid is possible, which might change its spectral class from a weathered Sq- to an unweathered Q-type.[3][31]
Orbit Edit Apophis has a low inclination orbit (3.3°) that varies from just outside the orbit of Venus (0.746 AU) to just outside the orbit of Earth (1.099 AU).[1] After the 2029 Earth approach the orbit will vary from just inside of Earth's to just inside of Mars.
Position uncertainty and increasing divergence[1]DateJPL SBDBnominal geocentricdistance (AU)uncertaintyregion(3-sigma)2029-04-130.0002541 AU (38.01 thousand km)±2.6 km[22]2036-03-270.309797 AU (46.3450 million km)±99 thousand km2051-04-190.041378 AU (6.1901 million km)±190 thousand km2066-09-160.069847 AU (10.4490 million km)±700 thousand km2116-04-120.023645 AU (3.5372 million km)±7 million km2029 close approach Edit The closest known approach of Apophis occurs at April 13, 2029 21:46 UT, when Apophis will pass Earth closer than geosynchronous communication satellites, but will come no closer than 31,600 kilometres (19,600 mi) above Earth's surface.[33] Using the April 2021 orbit solution which includes the Yarkovsky effect, the 3-sigma uncertainty region in the 2029 approach distance is about ±2.6 km.[22][1] The distance, a hair's breadth in astronomical terms, is five times the radius of the Earth, ten times closer than the Moon, and even closer than some man-made satellites.[34] It will be the closest asteroid of its size in recorded history. On that date, it will become as bright as magnitude 3.1[32] (visible to the naked eye from rural as well as darker suburban areas, visible with binoculars from most locations).[35] The close approach will be visible from Europe, Africa, and western Asia. During the approach, Earth will perturb Apophis from an Aten-class orbit with a semi-major axis of 0.92 AU to an Apollo-class orbit with a semi-major axis of 1.1 AU.[36] Perihelion will lift from 0.746 AU to 0.894 AU and aphelion will lift from 1.099 AU to 1.31 AU.
History of close approaches of large near-Earth objects since 1908'‰(A)
2036 approaches Edit In 2036 Apophis will approach the Earth at a third the distance of the Sun in both March and December.[1] Using the 2021 orbit solution, the Earth approach on March 27, 2036 will be no closer than 0.3095 AU (46.30 million km; 28.77 million mi; 120.4 LD), but more likely about 0.3100 AU (46.38 million km; 28.82 million mi).[1] The planet Venus will be closer to Earth at 0.2883 AU (43.13 million km; 26.80 million mi; 112.2 LD) on May 30, 2036.[38][b]
2051 approach Edit Around April 19''20, 2051 Apophis will pass about 0.04 AU (6.0 million km; 3.7 million mi) from Earth and it will be the first time since 2029 that Apophis has passed within 10 million km of Earth.[1]
2066/2068 Edit In the 2060s Apophis is expected to approach Earth in September 2066,[1][39] and then from February 2067 to December 2071 Apophis should remain further from Earth than the Sun is.[40] On April 12, 2068, JPL Horizons calculates that Apophis should be 1.868 ± 0.002 AU (279.45 ± 0.30 million km) from Earth,[41][15] making the asteroid much further than the Sun.
By 2116 the JPL Small-Body Database and NEODyS close approach data start to become divergent.[1][39] In April 2116 Apophis is expected to pass about 0.02 AU (3 million km) from Earth, but could pass as close as 0.0009 AU (130 thousand km; 0.35 LD).[1]
Sample galleryClose approach of Apophis on April 13, 2029, (as known in February 2005)[28]
The white bar indicates uncertainty in the range of positions (as known in February 2005)[28]
Sun · Earth · 99942 Apophis · Moon
Refinement of close approach predictions Edit Six months after discovery, and shortly after a close approach to Earth on December 21, 2004, the improved orbital estimates led to the prediction of a very close approach on April 13, 2029, by both NASA's automatic Sentry system and NEODyS, a similar automatic program run by the University of Pisa and the University of Valladolid. Subsequent observations decreased the uncertainty in Apophis's trajectory. The probability of an impact event in 2029 temporarily climbed, peaking at 2.7% (1 in 37) on December 27, 2004,[42][43] when the uncertainty region had shrunk to 83,000 km.[44] This probability, combined with its size, caused Apophis to be assessed at level 4 on the Torino scale[13] and 1.10 on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale, scales scientists use to represent how dangerous a given asteroid is to Earth. These are the highest values for which any object has been rated on either scale. The chance that there would be an impact in 2029 was eliminated by late December 27, 2004, as a result of a precovery image that extended the observation arc back to March 2004.[26] The danger of a 2036 passage was lowered to level 0 on the Torino scale in August 2006.[45] With a cumulative Palermo Scale rating of ''3.22,[4] the risk of impact from Apophis is less than one thousandth the background hazard level.[4]
2005 and 2011 observations Edit In July 2005, former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, as chairman of the B612 Foundation, formally asked NASA to investigate the possibility that the asteroid's post-2029 orbit could be in orbital resonance with Earth, which would increase the probability of future impacts. Schweickart also asked NASA to investigate whether a transponder should be placed on the asteroid to enable more accurate tracking of how its orbit is affected by the Yarkovsky effect.[46] On January 31, 2011, astronomers took the first new images of Apophis in more than 3 years.[47]
Illustration of a common trend where progressively reduced uncertainty regions result in an asteroid impact probability increasing followed by a sharp decrease
2013 refinement Edit The close approach in 2029 will substantially alter the object's orbit, prompting Jon Giorgini of JPL to say in 2011: "If we get radar ranging in 2013 [the next good opportunity], we should be able to predict the location of 2004 MN4 out to at least 2070."[48] Apophis passed within 0.0966 AU (14.45 million km; 8.98 million mi) of Earth in 2013, allowing astronomers to refine the trajectory for future close passes.[9][39][49] Just after the closest approach on January 9, 2013,[39] the asteroid peaked at an apparent magnitude of about 15.6.[50] The Goldstone radar observed Apophis during that approach from January 3 through January 17.[51] The Arecibo Observatory observed Apophis once it entered Arecibo's declination window after February 13, 2013.[51] The 2013 observations basically ruled out any chance of a 2036 impact.
A NASA assessment as of February 21, 2013, that did not use the January and February 2013 radar measurements gave an impact probability of 2.3 in a million for 2068.[52] As of May 6, 2013, using observations through April 15, 2013, the odds of an impact on April 12, 2068, as calculated by the JPL Sentry risk table had increased slightly to 3.9 in a million (1 in 256,000).[4]
2015 observations Edit As of January 2019, Apophis had not been observed since 2015, mostly because its orbit has kept it very near the Sun from the perspective of Earth. It was not further than 60 degrees from the Sun between April 2014 and December 2019. With the early 2015 observations, the April 12, 2068, impact probability was 6.7 in a million (1 in 150,000), and the asteroid had a cumulative 9 in a million (1 in 110,000) chance of impacting Earth before 2106.[53]
2020''21 observations Edit No observations of Apophis were made between January 2015 and February 2019, and then observations started occurring regularly in January 2020.[54] In March 2020, astronomers David Tholen and Davide Farnocchia measured the acceleration of Apophis due to the Yarkovsky effect for the first time, significantly improving the prediction of its orbit past the 2029 flyby. Tholen and Farnocchia found that the Yarkovsky effect caused Apophis to drift by about 170 meters per year.[55] In late 2020, Apophis approached the Earth again. It passed 0.11265 AU (16.852 million km; 43.84 LD) from Earth on March 6, 2021, brightening to +15 mag at the time. Radar observations of Apophis are planned at Goldstone in March 2021.[19] The asteroid has been observed by NEOWISE (in December 2020)[56] and by NEOSSat (in January 2021).[57][7]
Two occultations of bright stars by Apophis occurred in March 2021.[58] The first, on March 7, was successfully observed from the United States.[59][60] The second, which occurred on March 11, was predicted to be visible from central Europe.[58]
On 9 March 2021, using radar observations from Goldstone taken on 3-8 March and three positive detections of the stellar occultation on 7 March 2021,[61] Apophis became the asteroid with the most precisely measured Yarkovsky effect of all asteroids, at a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 186.4,[62][c] surpassing 101955 Bennu (SNR=181.6).[63]
The 2021 apparition is the last opportunity to observe Apophis before its 2029 flyby.[1] Using the January 20, 2021 orbit solution, the impact probability for April 12, 2068 was given as 2.6 in a million (1 in 380,000), and 4.5 in a million (1 in 220,000) cumulatively between 2056''2107.[4]
Asteroid 99942 Apophis '' radar observations 8-10 March 2021 (26 March 2021)
History of impact estimates Edit DateTimeStatus2004-12-23The original NASA report mentioned impact chances of "around 1 in 300" in 2029, which was widely reported in the media.[13] The actual NASA estimates at the time were 1 in 233; these resulted in a Torino scale rating of 2, the first time any asteroid had received a rating above 1.Later that day, based on a total of 64 observations, the estimates were changed to 1 in 62 (1.6%), resulting in an update to the initial report and an upgrade to a Torino scale rating of 4.2004-12-25The chances were first reported as 1 in 42 (2.4%) and later that day (based on 101 observations) as 1 in 45 (2.2%). At the same time, the asteroid's estimated diameter was lowered from 440 m to 390 m and its mass from 1.2—1011 kg to 8.3—1010 kg.2004-12-26Based on a total of 169 observations, the impact probability was still estimated as 1 in 45 (2.2%), the estimates for diameter and mass were lowered to 380 m and 7.5—1010 kg, respectively.2004-12-27Based on a total of 176 observations with an observation arc of 190 days, the impact probability was raised to 1 in 37 (2.7%)[43] with a line of variation (LOV) of only 83,000 km;[44] diameter was increased to 390 m, and mass to 7.9—1010 kg.Later that afternoon, a precovery increased the span of observations to 287 days, which eliminated the 2029 impact threat.[26] The cumulative impact probability was estimated to be around 0.004%, a risk lower than that of asteroid 2004 VD 17 , which once again became the greatest-risk object. A 2053 approach to Earth still poses a minor risk of impact, and Apophis was still rated at level one on the Torino scale for this orbit.2004-12-2812:23 GMTBased on a total of 139 observations, a value of one was given on the Torino scale for 2044-04-13.29 and 2053-04-13.51.2004-12-2901:10 GMTThe only pass rated 1 on the Torino scale was for 2053-04-13.51 based on 139 observations spanning 287.71 days (2004-Mar-15.1104 to 2004-Dec-27.8243). (As of February 2013[update] the 2053 risk is only 1 in 20 billion.)[4]19:18 GMTThis was still the case based upon 147 observations spanning 288.92 days (2004-Mar-15.1104 to 2004-Dec-29.02821), though the close encounters have changed and been reduced to 4 in total.2004-12-3013:46 GMTNo passes were rated above 0, based upon 157 observations spanning 289.33 days (2004-Mar-15.1104 to 2004-Dec-29.44434). The most dangerous pass was rated at 1 in 7,143,000.22:34 GMT157 observations spanning 289.33 days (2004-Mar-15.1104 to 2004-Dec-29.44434). One pass at 1 (Torino scale) 3 other passes.2005-01-0203:57 GMTObservations spanning 290.97 days (2004-Mar-15.1104 to 2004-Dec-31.07992) One pass at 1 (Torino scale) 19 other passes.2005-01-0314:49 GMTObservations spanning 292.72 days (2004-Mar-15.1104 to 2005-Jan-01.82787) One pass at 1 (Torino scale) 15 other passes.2005''01Extremely precise radar observations at Arecibo Observatory[27] refine the orbit further and show that the April 2029 close approach will occur at only 5.7 Earth radii,[28] approximately one-half the distance previously estimated.2005-02-06Apophis ( 2004 MN4 ) had a 1-in-13,000 chance of impacting in April 2036.[64]2005-08-07Radar observation[27] refines the orbit further and eliminates the possibility of an impact in 2035. Only the pass in 2036 remains at Torino scale 1 (with a 1-in-5,560 chance of impact).[65]2005''10It is predicted that Apophis will pass just below the altitude of geosynchronous satellites, which are at approximately 35,900 kilometres (22,300 mi).[66] Such a close approach by an asteroid of that size is estimated to occur every 800 years or so.[67]2006-05-06Radar observation at Arecibo Observatory[27] slightly lowered the Palermo scale rating, but the pass in 2036 remained at Torino scale 1[68] despite the impact probability dropping by a factor of four.2006-08-05Additional observations through 2006 resulted in Apophis being lowered to Torino scale 0.[45] (The impact probability was 1 in 45,000.)[45]2008-04Nico Marquardt published a research paper in which he calculated the probability of Apophis to collide with a geosynchronous satellite during its flyby on April 13, 2029, and the consequences of this event to the likelihood of an Earth-collision 2036. Afterwards, the German newspaper Bild published an article stating a 100 times higher probability of an Earth-collision in the year 2036 than Marquardt calculated.[69] Nearly all international press reported the news with false data caused by the review from Bild even though Marquardt denied.[70] This estimate was allegedly confirmed by ESA and NASA[71][69] but in an official statement,[72] NASA denied the wrong statement. The release went on to explain that since the angle of Apophis's approach to the Earth's equator means the asteroid will not travel through the belt of current equatorial geosynchronous satellites, there is currently no risk of collision; and the effect on Apophis's orbit of any such impact would be insignificant.2008-04-16NASA News Release 08-103 reaffirmed that its estimation of a 1-in-45,000 chance of impact in 2036 remained valid.[72]2009-04-29An animation is released[73] that shows how unmeasured physical parameters of Apophis bias the entire statistical uncertainty region. If Apophis is a retrograde rotator on the small, less-massive end of what is possible, the measurement uncertainty region will get pushed back such that the center of the distribution encounters Earth's orbit. This would result in an impact probability much higher than computed with the Standard Dynamical Model. Conversely, if Apophis is a small, less-massive prograde rotator, the uncertainty region is advanced along the orbit. Only the remote tails of the probability distribution could encounter Earth, producing a negligible impact probability.2009-10-07Refinements to the precovery images of Apophis by the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, the 90-inch Bok Telescope, and the Arecibo Observatory have generated a refined path that reduces the odds of an April 13, 2036, impact to about 1 in 250,000.[74]Criticism of older published impact probabilities rests on the fact that important physical parameters such as mass and spin that affect its precise trajectory have not yet been accurately measured and hence there are no associated probability distributions. The Standard Dynamical Model used for making predictions simplifies calculations by assuming Earth is a point mass; this can introduce up to 2.9 Earth radii of prediction error for the 2036 approach, and Earth's oblateness must be considered for the 2029 passage to predict a potential impact reliably.[67] Additional factors that can greatly influence the predicted motion in ways that depend on unknown details, are the spin of the asteroid,[75] its precise mass, the way it reflects and absorbs sunlight, radiates heat, and the gravitational pull of other asteroids passing nearby.[67] Small uncertainties in the masses and positions of the planets and Sun can cause up to 23 Earth radii of prediction error for Apophis by 2036.[67]2013-01A statistical impact risk analysis of the data up to this point calculated that the odds of the 2036 impact at 7.07 in a billion, effectively ruling it out. The same study looked at the odds of an impact in 2068, which were calculated at 2.27 in a million.[76] First appearance of Sentry virtual impactors that also include mid-October dates.[77]2013-01-09The European Space Agency (ESA) announced the Herschel Space Observatory made new thermal infrared observations of the asteroid as it approached Earth. The initial data shows the asteroid to be bigger than first estimated because it is now expected to be less reflective than originally thought.[9] The Herschel Space Observatory observations increased the diameter estimate by 20% from 270 to 325 metres, which translates into a 75% increase in the estimates of the asteroid's volume or mass.[9] Goldstone single-pixel observations of Apophis have ruled out the potential 2036 Earth impact.[14][78][79] Apophis will then come no closer than about 23 million kilometres (14 — 10 ^6 mi)'--and more likely miss us by something closer to 56 million kilometres (35 — 10 ^6 mi).[78] The radar astrometry is more precise than was expected.[78]2016-03-25The Sentry Risk Table assessed Apophis as having a 6.7-in-a-million (1-in-150,000) chance of impacting Earth in 2068, and a 9-in-a-million (1-in-110,000) cumulative chance of impacting Earth by 2105.[4]2020-03By taking observations of Apophis with the Subaru Telescope in January and March 2020, as well as remeasuring older observations using the new Gaia DR2 star catalog, astronomers positively detect the Yarkovsky effect on Apophis. The asteroid's position is found to shift by 170 meters per year. The Yarkovsky effect is the main source of uncertainty in impact probability estimates for this asteroid.[55]2021-01-20The Sentry Risk Table assessed Apophis as having a 2.6-in-a-million (1-in-380,000) chance of impacting Earth in 2068, and a 4.5-in-a-million (1-in-220,000) cumulative chance of impacting Earth by 2107.[4] The previous 2068 odds were 1-in-150,000.2021-03-1510:44JPL solution #207 using observations in 2020 and 2021 reduced the 3-sigma uncertainty region in the 2029 approach distance from ±700 km[80] to about ±2 km.[1]2021-03-2615:06Apophis was removed from the Sentry Risk Table and has no chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years.[23] Apophis was the 2,656th object to be removed from the Sentry Risk Table.Possible impact effects Edit The Sentry Risk Table estimates that Apophis would impact Earth with kinetic energy equivalent to 1,200 megatons of TNT.[4] The impacts that created Meteor Crater, Arizona about 50,000 years ago and the Tunguska event of 1908 are estimated to be between 3''10 megatons.[81] The biggest hydrogen bomb ever exploded, the Tsar Bomba, was around 50 megatons,[82] while the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was the equivalent of roughly 200 megatons.[83] In comparison, the Chicxulub impact has been estimated to have released about as much energy as 100,000,000 megatons (100 teratons).
The exact effects of any impact would vary based on the asteroid's composition, and the location and angle of impact. Any impact would be extremely detrimental to an area of thousands of square kilometres, but would be unlikely to have long-lasting global effects, such as the initiation of an impact winter.[citation needed ] Assuming Apophis is a 370-metre-wide (1,210 ft) stony asteroid with a density of 3,000 kg/m3, if it were to impact into sedimentary rock, Apophis would create a 5.1-kilometre (17,000 ft) impact crater.[17]
Expired 2036 path of risk Edit In 2008, the B612 Foundation made estimates of Apophis's path if a 2036 Earth impact were to occur, as part of an effort to develop viable deflection strategies.[84] The result was a narrow corridor a few kilometres wide, called the "path of risk", extending across southern Russia, across the north Pacific (relatively close to the coastlines of California and Mexico), then right between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, crossing northern Colombia and Venezuela, ending in the Atlantic, just before reaching Africa.[85] Using the computer simulation tool NEOSim, it was estimated that the hypothetical impact of Apophis in countries such as Colombia and Venezuela, which were in the path of risk, could have more than 10 million casualties.[86] A deep-water impact in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans would produce an incoherent short-range tsunami with a potential destructive radius (inundation height of >2 m) of roughly 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) for most of North America, Brazil and Africa, 3,000 km (1,900 mi) for Japan and 4,500 km (2,800 mi) for some areas in Hawaii.[87]
Potential space missions Edit Planetary Society competition Edit In 2007, The Planetary Society, a California-based space advocacy group, organized a $50,000 competition to design an uncrewed space probe that would 'shadow' Apophis for almost a year, taking measurements that would "determine whether it will impact Earth, thus helping governments decide whether to mount a deflection mission to alter its orbit". The society received 37 entries from 20 countries on 6 continents.
The commercial competition was won by a design called 'Foresight' created by SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc.[88] SpaceWorks proposed a simple orbiter with only two instruments and a radio beacon at a cost of ~US$140 million, launched aboard a Minotaur IV between 2012 and 2014, to arrive at Apophis five to ten months later. It would then rendezvous with, observe, and track the asteroid. Foresight would orbit the asteroid to gather data with a multi-spectral imager for one month. It would then leave orbit and fly in formation with Apophis around the Sun at a range of two kilometres (1.2 miles). The spacecraft would use laser ranging to the asteroid and radio tracking from Earth for ten months to accurately determine the asteroid's orbit and how it might change.
Pharos, the winning student entry, would be an orbiter with four science instruments (a multi-spectral imager, near-infrared spectrometer, laser rangefinder, and magnetometer) that would rendezvous with and track Apophis. Earth-based tracking of the spacecraft would then allow precise tracking of the asteroid. The Pharos spacecraft would also carry four instrumented probes that it would launch individually over the course of two weeks. Accelerometers and temperature sensors on the probes would measure the seismic effects of successive probe impacts, a creative way to explore the interior structure and dynamics of the asteroid.
Second place, for $10,000, went to a European team led by Deimos Space S.L. of Madrid, Spain, in cooperation with EADS Astrium, Friedrichshafen, Germany; University of Stuttgart, Germany; and University of Pisa, Italy. Juan L. Cano was principal investigator.
Another European team took home $5,000 for third place. Their team lead was EADS Astrium Ltd, United Kingdom, in conjunction with EADS Astrium SAS, France; IASF-Roma, INAF, Rome, Italy; Open University, UK; Rheinisches Institut f¼r Umweltforschung, Germany; Royal Observatory of Belgium; and Telespazio, Italy. The principal investigator was Paolo D'Arrigo.
Two teams tied for second place in the Student Category: Monash University, Clayton Campus, Australia, with Dilani Kahawala as principal investigator; and University of Michigan, with Jeremy Hollander as principal investigator. Each second-place team won $2,000. A team from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, under the leadership of Peter Weiss, received an honorable mention and $1,000 for the most innovative student proposal.
Planned Chinese mission Edit China plans an exploration fly-by mission to Apophis in 2022, several years prior to the close approach in 2029. This fly-by mission to Apophis is part of an asteroid exploration mission planned after China's Mars mission in 2022 currently in development, according to Ji Jianghui, a researcher at the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a member of the expert committee for scientific goal argumentation of deep space exploration in China. The whole mission will include exploration and close study of three asteroids by sending a probe to fly side by side with Apophis for a period to conduct close observation, and land on the asteroid 1996 FG3 to conduct in situ sampling analysis on the surface. The probe is also expected to conduct a fly-by of a third asteroid to be determined at a later time. The whole mission would last around six years, said Ji.[89]
Don Quijote mission Edit Apophis is one of two asteroids that were considered by the European Space Agency as the target of its Don Quijote mission concept to study the effects of impacting an asteroid.[90]
Potential OSIRIS-REx rendezvous Edit The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is expected to return a sample of Bennu to Earth in 2023. After ejecting the sample canister, the spacecraft can use its remaining fuel to target another body during an extended mission. Apophis is the only asteroid which the spacecraft could reach for a long-duration rendezvous, rather than a brief flyby. If the extension is approved, OSIRIS-REx would perform a rendezvous with Apophis in April 2029, a few days after the close approach to Earth. An application for the mission extension is expected in 2022.[91][92]
Proposed deflection strategies Edit Studies by NASA, ESA,[93] and various research groups in addition to the Planetary Society contest teams,[94] have described a number of proposals for deflecting Apophis or similar objects, including gravitational tractor, kinetic impact, and nuclear bomb methods.
On December 30, 2009, Anatoly Perminov, the director of the Russian Federal Space Agency, said in an interview that Roscosmos will also study designs for a possible deflection mission to Apophis.[95]
On August 16, 2011, researchers at China's Tsinghua University proposed launching a mission to knock Apophis onto a safer course using an impactor spacecraft in a retrograde orbit, steered and powered by a solar sail. Instead of moving the asteroid on its potential resonant return to Earth, Shengping Gong and his team believe the secret is shifting the asteroid away from entering the gravitational keyhole in the first place.[96]
On February 15, 2016, Sabit Saitgarayev, of the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau, announced intentions to use Russian ICBMs to target relatively small near-Earth objects. Although the report stated that likely targets would be between the 20 to 50 metres in size, it was also stated that 99942 Apophis would be an object subject to tests by the program.[97]
Popular culture Edit In Id Software's video game Rage, the back-story involves the asteroid colliding with Earth on August 23, 2029. The asteroid almost wipes out the human race and ushers in a post-apocalyptic age.[98]Type O Negative mentions this asteroid in the song "The Profit of Doom", from their album Dead Again.Enter Shikari mention the asteroid in the song "Zzzonked", from their album Common Dreads.The webcomic Homestuck features an ARG in which Apophis impacts the Earth.Notes Edit ^ Of the six asteroids with a riskier palermo scale rating than Apophis:(29075) 1950 DA and 101955 Bennu can not impact within the next 100 years.1979 XB and 2007 FT3 are lost short-arc objects that can not be recovered with targeted observations and await serendipitous survey observations.2000 SG344 and 2009 JF1 are less than 50 meters in diameter. ^ On January 8, 2022 Venus will be even closer to Earth at 0.2658 AU (39.76 million km; 24.71 million mi; 103.4 LD). ^ Using the 9 March 2021 solution, JPL gave the strength of the Yarkovsky effect as A 2 = '' 2.877 — 10 '' 14 AU/d 2 {\displaystyle A_{2}=-2.877\times 10^{-14}{\text{ AU/d}}^{2}} , with an uncertainty of 2.553 — 10 '' 16 AU/d 2 {\displaystyle 2.553\times 10^{-16}{\text{ AU/d}}^{2}} . The SNR, defined as the size of the signal divided by the uncertainty, is 2.877 — 10 '' 14 / 2.553 — 10 '' 16 = 186.4 {\displaystyle 2.877\times 10^{-14}/2.553\times 10^{-16}=186.4} . References Edit ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4)" (last observation: 2021-03-31; arc: 17.04 years; JPL #211 solution date: 2021-Apr-01) . Retrieved 10 April 2021 . ^ "Apophis". World History Encyclopedia . Retrieved 21 July 2020 . ^ a b c d e f Brozović, M.; Benner, L. A. M.; McMichael, J. G.; Giorgini, J. D.; et al. (15 January 2018). "Goldstone and Arecibo radar observations of (99942) Apophis in 2012''2013" (PDF) . Icarus. 300: 115''128. Bibcode:2018Icar..300..115B. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2017.08.032 . Retrieved 19 August 2018 . ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "99942 Apophis (2004 MN4) Earth Impact Risk Summary". NASA/JPL Center for NEO Studies. 19 January 2021. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013 . 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"Russia may send spacecraft to knock away asteroid". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on 2 January 2010 . Retrieved 31 December 2009 . ^ "China Reveals Solar Sail Plan To Prevent Apophis Hitting Earth in 2036". Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog. 18 August 2011. Archived from the original on 26 November 2011 . Retrieved 14 March 2021 . ^ Khoury, A. (15 February 2016). "Russia wants to target near-Earth objects with its ICBMs". TASS in foxnews.com . Retrieved 15 February 2016 . ^ Winegarner, T. (6 November 2019). "Rage Interview: We speak with id's Tim Willits about their new IP, Rage". Gamespot. External links Edit M¼ller, T. G.; Kiss, C.; Scheirich, P.; Pravec, P.; et al. (2014). "Thermal infrared observations of asteroid (99942) Apophis with Herschel". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 566: A22. arXiv:1404.5847 . Bibcode:2014A&A...566A..22M. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201423841. S2CID 119282830. Apophis AsteroidAsteroid Apophis orbit from recent observations, EPSC Abstracts Vol. 6, EPSC-DPS2011-1212, 2011, EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2011Diagrams and orbits of Apophis (Sormano Astronomical Observatory)Interactive 3D gravity simulation of Apophis's 2029 Earth flybyRisk assessment
Apophis Orbital Prediction Page at NASA JPL99942 Apophis page from NEODySMBPL '' Minor Body Priority List (technical List) at Sormano ObservatoryTECA '' Table of Asteroids Next Closest Approaches to the Earth at Sormano ObservatoryNASA
Possibility of an Earth Impact in 2029 Ruled Out for Asteroid 2004 MN4 (JPL)Radar Observations Refine the Future Motion of Asteroid 2004 MN4 (JPL)Animation explaining how impact risk is determined from Impact Probability99942 Apophis at the JPL Small-Body DatabaseClose approach · Discovery · Ephemeris · Orbit diagram · Orbital elements · Physical parameters
Rex 84 - Wikipedia
Sat, 22 May 2021 14:41
Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was a classified scenario and drill developed by the United States federal government to detain large numbers of United States citizens deemed to be "national security threats", in the event that the president declared a National Emergency. The plan was first revealed in detail in a major daily newspaper by reporter Alfonso Chardy in the July 5, 1987 edition of the Miami Herald. Possible reasons for such a roundup were reported to be widespread opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad, such as if the United States were to directly invade Central America.[1][2][3] To combat what the government perceived as "subversive activities", the plan also authorized the military to direct ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels, according to Professor Diana Reynolds.[4]
Existence of master military contingency plans (of which REX-84 was a part), "Operation Garden Plot" and a similar earlier exercise, "Lantern Spike", were originally revealed by journalist Ron Ridenhour, who summarized his findings in an article in CounterSpy.[5]
Transcripts from the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987 record the following dialogue between Congressman Jack Brooks, Oliver North's attorney Brendan Sullivan and Senator Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the joint Senate''House Committee:[6][7]
[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?
Brendan Sullivan [North's counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?
[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?
Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.
Inouye: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I'm certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.
Contingency plans by the US Government for rounding up people perceived by the government to be subversive or a threat to civil order have existed for many decades.[8] For example, from 1967 to 1971, the FBI kept a list of over 100,000 people to be rounded up as subversive, dubbed the "ADEX" list.[9]
See also Edit COINTELPROFEMAMain CoreMariel boatliftNo Fly ListNon-Detention ActNSPD-51Palmer RaidsPosse Comitatus ActTerrorist Screening DatabaseViolent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007References Edit See also "Martial Law Concerns," Congressman Jim McDermott, House of Representatives, March 11, 2003.
External links Edit Article by Frank Morales about Operation Garden Plot, the larger operation of which Rex 84 was a part. An edited version of this article appears in CovertAction Quarterly, #69 Spring/Summer 2000."Foundations are in place for martial law in the US," Ritt Goldstein, Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2002
Go Podcasting!
Apple launches an affiliate program for paid podcast subscriptions '' TechCrunch
Thu, 20 May 2021 20:17
Image Credits: TechCrunch
Apple last month unveiled its plans for paid podcast subscriptions in a newly redesigned Apple Podcasts app. Now, it's introducing a new program that will help podcast creators grow their subscriber base: affiliate marketing. The company's ''Apple Services Performance Partner Program,'' which already exists to help market other Apple services like Apple TV, Apple News, and Apple Books, is today expanding to include paid podcasts.
The new program '-- ''Apple Services Performance Partner Program for Apple Podcasts'' (whew!) '-- will be open to anyone, though the company believes it will make the most sense for publishers and creators who already have an audience and a number of marketing channels where they can share these new affiliate links. When users convert by clicking through one of the links and subscribe to a premium podcast, the partner will receive a one-time commission at 50% of the podcast subscription price, after the subscriber accumulates their first month of paid service.
So, for example, if a paid podcast was charging subscribers $5 per month, the commission would be $2.50. This commission would apply for every new subscriber that signed up through the affiliate channel, and there's no cap.
Podcast creators can also use the affiliate links to promote their own paid programs, which would allow them to generate incremental revenue.
While anyone can apply to join the affiliate program, there is an approval process involved. This is mainly about keeping spammers out of the program, and ensuring that those signing up do have at least some marketing channels where they can distribute the links. The sign-up form asks for specific criteria '-- like how many channels are available and how the partner intends to use them to promote the affiliate links, among other things.
The program will be made available to anyone in the 170 countries and regions where paid podcasts subscriptions are being made available.
Once approved and signed in, affiliate partners will gain access to an online dashboard where they can create links (i.e. shortened URLs) much like any other affiliate program. They can also create multiple URLs for an individual podcast to make it easier to track how well different channels are performing. The URLs can be posted on their own, tied to a ''Listen on Apple Podcasts'' badge, or can be made available as a QR code. The latter may make more sense when live events return, as it could be printed on signage or in flyers that were distributed during a live taping, for example. It could also be used in other sorts of advertising, including both print and digital.
Though premium podcasts already existed, until more recently that often involved paying a podcaster directly to access a private RSS feed. Smaller services like Stitcher also used subscriptions to provide paying customers with a series of perks, like ad-free listening and exclusive content. The new efforts by both Apple and Spotify are focused on wooing creators to their platforms, where they'll take a cut of the subscription revenues. Spotify is waiving its 5% fee for the first two years, while Apple is employing its usual model of 30% in year 1 that drops to 15% in year two.
While people can begin to enroll in the new affiliate program starting today, paid podcasts aren't actually launching until later this month, per Apple. When they do, those enrolled in the affilate program will be able to create links and begin earning commissions on subscriptions.
Starship Alves on Twitter: "Hey @adamcurry I volunteer to be the dude in the helicopter for the traffic report on the 10s. NA33 time is 3:10pm lol" / Twitter
Fri, 21 May 2021 20:22
Starship Alves : Hey @adamcurry I volunteer to be the dude in the helicopter for the traffic report on the 10s. NA33 time is 3:10pm lol
Fri May 21 19:27:18 +0000 2021
Freaked by cicada swarms? You could just stick a fork in 'em
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:03
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Federal prison guards who slept during Jeffrey Epstein suicide could dodge jail time - New York Daily News
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:20
Two federal correctional officers accused of sleeping on the job and browsing the internet the night Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself will dodge jail time under a proposed deal with prosecutors.
Tova Noel and Michael Thomas will complete 100 hours of community service and be under pretrial supervision for six months under the deferred prosecution agreement, which requires a judge's approval. Prosecutors notified the court of the deal in a Manhattan Federal Court filing late Friday.
Metropolitan Correctional Center guards Tova Noel (L) and Michael Thomas (R) leave Manhattan Federal Court Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 in the Manhattan, New York. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)
''After a thorough investigation, and based on the facts of this case and the personal circumstances of the defendants, the Government has determined that the interests of justice will best be served by deferring prosecution in this District,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lonergan wrote.
Under the deal, Noel and Thomas admit that they falsely filled out forms that they'd made rounds checking on inmates in the Special Housing Unit of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan the night of Aug. 9, 2019 into the following morning. Noel and Thomas were captured on surveillance video neglecting their duties the night Epstein hanged himself.
The correctional officers will also cooperate with a Justice Department Inspector General probe into the Epstein debacle.
''I hope that this leads to a larger conversation about how the entire criminal justice system can be improved for all,'' said Thomas' lawyer, Montell Figgins. Noel's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
The decision by prosecutors comes amid heightened scrutiny of MCC, which has faced criticism for harsh conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Manhattan Federal Judge Colleen McMahon said last month that MCC and a Brooklyn federal jail are ''run by morons.'' She slammed MCC for constantly changing leadership as it reels from crisis to crisis '' including the Epstein suicide.
Noel and Thomas had argued in court they were scapegoats for deep seated problems in the Bureau of Prisons. The charges against them further eroded morale among correctional officers at the understaffed jail.
Humanity Does Not Need Bill Gates ''§ Current Affairs
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:38
Bill Gates has long been one of the most powerful people in the world. For many years, he was the world's richest man, though he has lately rotated in the slot with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Since retiring from his position as Microsoft's CEO in 2000, Gates has become a celebrated figure in world philanthropy, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) spending astronomical sums on health and education initiatives. The BMGF is the largest private charitable foundation in the world, and spends more on global health each year than the World Health Organization (WHO) and many whole countries. (The BMGF is run jointly by the Gateses, though the effects of the couple's recently-announced divorce are unclear.)
Gates' new book on climate change has brought him applause from the mainstream press (Fortune even let him take over as editor for a day, the first time it has ever extended that privilege), although Gates himself has one of the biggest carbon footprints of any human being in the world. He lives in a 66,000 square foot mansion with 24 bathrooms that is worth $145 million, which he calls (seriously) ''Xanadu 2.0.'' It was built using half a million wood logs from 500-year-old trees. According to an academic study, just his prolific private jet time emitted 1,629 tons of carbon dioxide in 2017 alone.
This is why it is worth examining Gates' career and philanthropic work closely. His career shows the way ruthlessness and the pursuit of self-interest are far more important than ''innovation'' in making a person rich, but it also shows the problems of relying on Good Billionaires to address serious social problems. Since the time of steel baron Andrew Carnegie, tycoons have had a philosophy: you can make your money as ruthlessly as possible, as long as you do Philanthropy afterward. Gates is a latter-day Carnegie. He is one of the most ''benevolent'' among the uber-rich, having pledged to give most of his fortune away (nevertheless, it continues to grow) and devoting himself to health and climate change. And yet even he, the best of the bunch, embodies the fundamentally dysfunctional nature of wealth accumulation and philanthropy. The outsized influence of Gates on education policy has shown the problems that come with allowing billionaires to meddle in the democratic process. Gates' fortune came at the expense of the rest of us, and while his philanthropy has many positive effects, it ultimately reflects an undemocratic and unaccountable way of delivering benefits, and Gates himself can only be in the position he's in because we live in a deeply unjust world.
Gates KeeperWhy is Bill Gates rich? Why is he now in a position to make so many consequential decisions about public health and education? His towering cash hoard derives mainly from co-founding Microsoft the software giant, and then serving as its longtime CEO. Microsoft's big break came in 1980, when it was awarded the contract to produce an operating system for IBM's first mass-marketed personal computers. IBM is known as an obsolete has-been today, but at the time it was the gold standard for corporate information technology.
Notably, Microsoft was a tiny startup at the time it was hired by IBM to develop its operating system, and histories of the industry note that it's unclear how it was chosen for such an incredibly lucrative opportunity. Born William H. Gates III, the future CEO came from a wealthy and prominent family, his father the president of the state bar and his mother, Mary, a member of the University of Washington's governing Board of Regents. They counted Washington's Republican governor as a family friend. Mary Gates also sat on the board of the United Way, the prominent charity, along with John Opel, then-chairman of IBM. The New York Times noted that there is circumstantial evidence suggesting the Gates' family's pre-existing connection with the IBM chairman helped secure young William III the big break that would lead to his fortune. CNBC says that ''Mary saw an opportunity to help her son's fledgling company by speaking with Opel,'' after which Opel is said to have ''mentioned Mrs. Gates to other I.B.M. executives.'' At the time, IBM had been ''considering many software companies,'' but after Mary Gates' intervention, IBM ''took a chance by hiring Microsoft, then a small software firm.'' Thus, CNBC says, Mary Gates may have been ''instrumental in a deal that helped propel Microsoft into the big leagues.'' It is notable that often, when you examine billionaires' backgrounds, you find that their ''self-made'' success stories'--even if they include a certain amount of ''hard work'' and innovation'--were made possible by unearned privileges that meant they were not competing on an even playing field.
Bill Gates was extremely lucky to come of age when he did, because in the 1970s, an infant software industry was ripe territory for a budding monopolist. Software has to run on a computer's operating system, and the one with the most corporate users (due to its use on the IBM P.C.) naturally attracted more software developers of tools and games, which in turn made the Windows platform most attractive to other buyers, furthering its appeal for developers. This growth in the value of the platform as its user base increased, a form of ''network effects,'' meant other P.C. platforms were sidelined. Windows' worldwide market share exceeded an incredible 90 percent for decades on end.
One might be inclined to think'--and certainly, Bill Gates would say'--that Microsoft's dominance came about because it innovated superior products that people wanted. But Microsoft's modus operandi under Gates was to focus less on improving the quality of Microsoft products than on crushing the competition by any means necessary. Often, in Free Market Fantasyland, it is assumed that one company defeats another by offering the thing people want the most, and the entity that comes out of the dog-eat-dog Darwinist power struggle is clearly the one that had the best ideas and products. After all, if it didn't, people would simply buy from a competitor.
But this isn't how the world works. In fact, there are many ways a company can defeat upstart rivals even with an inferior product, especially once it has attracted substantial market share. Microsoft's techniques for maintaining dominance'--and increasing Gates' wealth mountain'--often involved stifling innovations, because Gates' goal wasn't to have everyone in the world using the best imaginable operating system. It was to have everyone in the world using his operating system. Microsoft became infamous for using its immovably dominant position to copy and steamroll upstart competitors and software innovators. In their book Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire, journalists James Wallace and Jim Erickson describe the company as ''notorious'' for its ''predatory pilfering.'' Microsoft would commonly approach a software or networking upstart and express guarded interest in collaborating or licensing its software for Windows. However, ''after Microsoft is given a glimpse of how the software works, it suddenly loses interest in the deal'--only to announce later that it has been working on surprisingly similar, but competing, software.'' And since it would come bundled with globally ubiquitous Windows updates, the Microsoft knockoff would completely close the market opening for the smaller firm.
The anti-competitive tactics were endless. Microsoft tried to make it as difficult as possible for people to install operating systems other than Windows, or to avoid paying for Windows by requiring P.C. vendors to include the operating system as a factory default. When another company put out a superior word processing program, Bill Gates used Microsoft's size to immediately undercut the company on price, so that the smaller competitor would fail. Microsoft intentionally made it difficult to run competitor products such as the Lotus spreadsheet program. Programmers on Microsoft's DOS operating system managed ''to code a few hidden bugs into DOS 2.0 that caused Lotus 1-2-3 to break down when it was loaded.'' An internal slogan at the time was ''DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run.''
Microsoft also waged war on the open source software movement, which developed software that granted users the right to change and distribute it. Steve Ballmer, who succeeded Gates as Microsoft's CEO, called the Linux operating system a ''cancer'' and ''communism.'' The company tried a ''fear, uncertainty, and doubt'' strategy, trying to convince consumers that alternatives to Microsoft were unknown and unproven (they were not). In an internal memorandum leaked in 1998, Microsoft ''reveal[ed] the particularly nasty 'tricks' [it] planned in its effort to contain the open source movement, and to prevent Linux in particular from cutting too deeply into its revenue.'' These tricks included ''implementing proprietary protocols to lock customers into Microsoft software'' and ''touting Microsoft software as offering lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than Linux, even though the documents showed that Microsoft itself found Linux to be the cheaper overall solution in many cases.'' An excerpt from the memo shows that Microsoft knew Linux was achieving superior performance, that the open source software model did not stifle innovation, and that Microsoft products could not compete on quality:
OSS [open source software] poses a direct, short-term revenue and platform threat to Microsoft, particularly in server space. Additionally, the intrinsic parallelism and free idea exchange in OSS has benefits that are not replicable with our current licensing model and therefore present a long term developer mindshare threat'... Recent case studies (the Internet) provide very dramatic evidence '... that commercial quality can be achieved / exceeded by OSS projects'... Linux and other OSS advocates are making a progressively more credible argument that OSS software is at least as robust '-- if not more '-- than commercial alternatives. The Internet provides an ideal, high-visibility showcase for the OSS world'... Linux has been deployed in mission critical, commercial environments with an excellent pool of public testimonials'... The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the collective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing.
Another internal Microsoft document, cited in the European Commission's ruling against the company in 2004, emphasizes that even though Windows is expensive and buggy, the company had succeeded in making sure it was just extremely difficult to switch to a different operating system. It refers to the company's API, or application programming interface, which determines how applications (like word processors or games) interact with other software, especially the operating system that runs the computer:
The Windows API is so broad, so deep, and so functional that most ISVs [Independent Software Vendors] would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different operating system instead. It is this switching cost that has given customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO [total cost of ownership], our lack of a sexy vision at times, and many other difficulties. ['...] Customers constantly evaluate other desktop platforms, [but] it would be so much work to move over that they hope we just improve Windows rather than force them to move. In short, without this exclusive franchise called the Windows API, we would have been dead a long time ago. [emphasis added]
Microsoft was also extremely litigious. Its philosophy on intellectual property rights can be summed up as: steal everyone else's innovations if you can get away with it, but sue the shit out of anyone who uses yours. Gates knew that his control of patents would make it impossible for small innovators to work outside the corporate system in the future, saying in 1991 that ''a future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose.'' Microsoft eventually revised its stance on open source software when it became clear it could not erode Microsoft's dominance. But Gates' aggressive use of intellectual property laws (i.e., getting the state to enforce restrictions on the use of ideas) is a thread that is consistent from his earliest days in the computer industry copyright and patent protections, saying without them there is no ''incentive to innovate.'' As Microsoft's own internal documents reveal, the successes of Linux showed that this was false. But it is certainly the case that without these laws, Gates himself would have had a harder time maintaining his market position, and thus his fortune.
Gates annoyed the burgeoning community of hackers and computer hobbyists early on with his ''Open Letter to Hobbyists'' in 1976, which demanded that amateur software developers stop ''stealing'' his ideas. The letter is an important document, because at the time, developers of computer software had a largely collaborative ethic, in which code, once written, was free for anyone to take and use. Gates' letter was met with an ''intensely negative'' reaction in the computer hobbyist community (the Southern California Computer Society threatened to sue him for branding them thieves), because since the 1960s ''a spirit of cooperation [had] pervaded computing.'' This was in part seen as ''consistent with Western scientific traditions'--and the academic and research settings where the Internet began'' and the ''earliest hackers were encouraged to build on the creations of their peers.''
Gates' ethic was never a collaborative, social one in which a community worked together to improve a collective asset. It was not the mindset of the scientist seeking knowledge. Instead it was antisocial and competitive'--the mindset of the capitalist. Gates believed in screwing the other guy to get ahead. His competitiveness was notorious; at chess ''he was such a bad loser he would sweep the pieces to the floor in anger.'' James Wallace and Jim Erickson's book Hard Drive recounts Gates saying, '''We're going to put Digital Research out of business,' slamming his fist into the palm of his other hand. He would issue a similar vow twice more during the next year'... promising to put MicroPro and Lotus out of business, each time emphasizing his promise by smashing his fist into his hand.'' Corporate historians observe that ''it was clearly not enough for Microsoft to beat the competition; Gates wanted to eliminate his opponents from the playing field.'' Gates' Microsoft tried to suppress negative coverage of its business practices. Company managers ''would blacklist journalists as a means of preventing negative coverage of the company's business practices.'' The company ''would list reporters on a whiteboard with the comments 'Okay,' 'Sketchy,' or 'Needs work.'''
Again, it is important to emphasize that this does not serve the public good. As open source advocate Eric S. Raymond wrote in commenting on Microsoft's model, ''for [the company] to win, the customer must lose.'' When research flows through universities and public institutions, what is produced will be (at least theoretically) in the interest of humankind as a whole. When it occurs through private companies seeking profit-maximization, it will only serve humankind to the extent that profit-maximization coincides with the good of all, which it often does not. Nicholas Petreley of the Linux Journal notes that Microsoft customers were hardly begging for it to be more expensive, for their choices to be reduced, and for Windows to ''cripple itself if the operating system detects a piece of hardware that might enable them to bypass DRM.'' But this was all good for Microsoft, so it's what the customers got.
The history of computing might have gone in quite a different direction if Bill Gates had not been involved. Open source software saves consumers money. Wikipedia, built on a collaborative model, is now vastly better than the Encyclopedia Britannica. If the Encyclopedia Britannica had run the Microsoft playbook early on, perhaps it could have ''knifed the baby.'' But nobody would be well-served by this except Britannica's owners. Some have compared a fully open source model to ''Coca-Cola Co. releasing its formula'' and indeed, tycoons like Gates would insist that if Coca-Cola's formula could be copied, there would be no incentive to innovate. But we can see how actually, the opposite is often true. If anyone could make a Coca-Cola, because the formula was public and free to use, we would swiftly see (as we did in software) endless new variations popping up as people were free to experiment and transform the formula. With Coca-Cola the only ones who can conduct R&D, ''innovations'' are driven by Coke's marketing strategies.
Gates vs. U.S. vs. MicrosoftThings came to a head for Microsoft during the so-called ''browser wars'' of the 1990s. Netscape'--derived from a browser called Mosaic developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana''Champaign'--was gaining market share, and Microsoft panicked. Its own web browser, Internet Explorer, was inferior, and people were switching. To preserve the dominance of the inferior product, Gates went on one of his ''jihads'' (his term). Microsoft tried to block Netscape or end its default status on every platform they could threaten or bribe, including Apple, AOL, and others. A Microsoft VP is alleged to have said that the company's goal was to ''cut off Netscape's air supply.'' Crucially, the company began bundling Explorer into Windows 95 and later updates to its ubiquitous system, and then went as far as requiring P.C. manufacturers to include their browser on desktops. Soon Netscape was driven from the market and later folded into AOL.
But these tactics crossed a line in even the famously weak U.S. anti-monopoly system. Under existing antitrust law, having a monopoly isn't necessarily illegal, depending on how you get it and what you do with it. The global Windows OS monopoly wasn't illegal, since it was gained through legitimate-looking economic forces like network effects. Microsoft didn't destroy Apple to get it, it just benefited from compatibility needs and the self-reinforcing economic logic of platforms. But using a monopoly's market power to actively crush competitors, as Microsoft did with Netscape, is ''monopolization'' and is against antitrust law, and by now Microsoft had enough enemies to make a stink, attracting first the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and then the Department of Justice (DOJ). When Microsoft's intransigence (and Gates' own arrogance) led negotiations nowhere, the DOJ charged Microsoft with monopolization.
The trial is a fascinating, grotesque odyssey, which because it went all the way to trial left a legacy of Microsoft internal emails'--always an exciting development for critical researchers. A repeated dynamic quickly emerged, with the company's executives and attorneys strongly denying any monopolistic intent, only to be directly undermined by their own emails. And despite the company's strenuous claims that bundling the Explorer software into the Windows OS was essential for it to work smoothly, the prosecution called as witness a slick software designer for Apple who laughed off the idea that they couldn't be separated and still perform well. Antitrust professor Andrew Gavil says that Microsoft ''spread the [Internet] Explorer code throughout the Windows code, so that if you tried to remove it, you would actually mess up all of Windows,'' even though ''there was no technical or business justification for writing it that way.'' Well, there was one business justification. It would help them win the browser wars and keep Bill Gates on top.
Histories of Microsoft show quite clearly that Gates was, and there is no more polite word for it, an asshole. Even sympathetic biographers Wallace and Erickson report ''childlike temper tantrums,'' and others report him ''throw[ing]things when angry.'' His co-founder and childhood friend Paul Allen revealed that Gates ''belittled and insulted subordinates,'' would ''prowl the company car park at weekends to check on who had come in to work,'' and would launch profanity-laden tirades at employees who displeased him. In a corporate hierarchy it is difficult for workers to fight back against this kind of abusive behavior'--Gates, after all, could fire them and drive them from the industry. In the company's early days, according to Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire, female Microsoft employees got together to complain to Gates that he was not paying overtime, and legally owed them back pay. When Gates refused to give them back pay, they filed a complaint with the state labor department. Hard Drive reports that Gates marched into the office of the perceived ringleader and screamed at her mercilessly (he was ''absolutely purple'' from ''screaming so much''). In tears, she quit the company.
Forward the FoundationYet in the last 20 years, Gates has turned around his reputation. The New York Times ''Dealbook'' section described how ''twenty years ago, people associated the name Gates with 'ruthless, predatory' monopolistic conduct.'' But:
[After] taking a public relations beating during [the antitrust] trial's early going in late 1998, the company started what was described at the time as a ''charm offensive'' aimed at improving its image'... Mr. Gates contributed $20.3 billion, or 71 percent of his total contributions to the foundation disclosed through 2012, during the 18 months between the start of the trial and the verdict.
A wealth manager cuts through the liberal feel-good bullshit: ''[Gates'] philanthropy has helped 'rebrand' his name.'' Tim Schwab of the Nation comments that Gates ''dramatically transform[ed] his reputation as one of the most cutthroat CEOs to one of the most admired people on earth.''
And it worked. A lot of people today forget that before his grandfatherly, charitable public image, Gates was such a notorious ruling-class bastard he became a Simpsons villain. Today people associate Gates as much with global benevolence as with any software company, and capitalism's defenders reliably cite the generosity of billionaires like Gates and Warren Buffett to argue that while they may be extremely wealthy, they use that power to do good.
On any inspection this argument completely faceplants. A feudal lord is not entitled to their power just because they hand out favors. Benevolent overlords are still overlords, and the argument that Doing Good justifies a position of power would legitimize any powerful ruling class jerk'--any king, dictator, or emperor'--as long as they used some of their power and resources for nice public works. The point is that these decisions have to come through some form of democratic process.
This is especially true because Bill Gates is in possession of money that would otherwise go to the public coffers. Microsoft has engaged in rampant tax dodging, and a highly critical report on the Gates Foundation from Global Justice now notes that ''it was reported that Microsoft was sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in US taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it was keeping offshore'' and it has used a ''complex web of interrelated foreign entities to facilitate international sales and reduce US and foreign tax.'' They fiddled the system, since ''despite the company undertaking most of its research in the US and generating US tax credits, profit rights to the intellectual property were largely located in foreign tax havens.'' But what of Gates and the Foundation? Well, it's worth observing that the Foundation operates with what is effectively a large public subsidy. Tim Schwab of the Nation'--whose name will recur, since he has produced some the best critical journalism on Gates and the Foundation'--says that money is exempt from tax because it belongs to a charity, and has to be seen as ''money that otherwise would have gone to the US Treasury to help build bridges, do medical research, or close the funding gap at the IRS (which has resulted in fewer audits of billionaires).'' As law professor Ray Madoff said to Schwab: ''when they get significant tax benefits, it's also our money.''
It is important to be skeptical of philanthropists in general, because it is quite easy and not even especially altruistic for a billionaire to be a philanthropist. Gates' personal wealth has only increased since he started the foundation. If he turned his 66,000 square foot mansion into public housing and gave away his entire fortune down to his last $40, it would be an impressive act. But spending money that does not affect one's living standard and does give one the feeling of doing good, and also comes with huge praise, requires no hard choices.
The Gates Foundation has been widely praised for its efforts to eradicate infectious diseases, though the Foundation's opacity means it is difficult to actually measure the impact that it has had. The Foundation often cites overall statistics about improvements in health, implicitly crediting itself, without it being clear how much their money in particular actually did. Nobody denies, however, that there are many positive initiatives around the world that have been aided by Gates' money. In fact, many argue that millions of lives may have been saved by organizations funded by Gates.
But it's also the case that much of the organization's wealth is (1) produced dubiously and (2) spent dubiously. In a five-year period, Schwab reported that the Foundation had earned $28.5 billion, while giving away $23.5 billion in charitable grants. Some of those earnings come from, for example, the profits of private prison companies. In 2002, the Foundation invested hundreds of millions of dollars in large pharmaceutical companies, meaning that the Foundation stands to benefit if it can help boost the profits of Big Pharma, and to lose if Big Pharma loses. The Foundation, when confronted with these dodgy means of enrichment, has rebuffed calls to divest from the prison-industrial complex and said that its investment fund ''is independently managed by a separate entity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust'' and that ''Foundation staff have no influence on the trust's investment decisions.'' But this won't wash. Setting up an independent organization to go make as much money as possible for you, and then plugging your eyes and ears about how it's done while imposing no ethical standards, is just as bad as making the decisions yourself.
Incredibly, the Foundation actually sometimes gives charitable grants to for-profit corporations. Schwab reports that it has given hundreds of millions of dollars ''to companies in which the foundation holds corporate stocks and bonds [such as Merck, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone, Sanofi, Ericsson, LG, Medtronic, Teva, and numerous start-ups]'... with the grants directed at projects like developing new drugs and health monitoring systems and creating mobile banking services.'' As an example, the company gave $4.8 million to communications giant Vodacom to help the company expand its for-profit money transfer service in Tanzania. Helping a telephone giant market itself to new clients in Africa is not the typical work of a charitable foundation, even if you accept the theory that selling someone a product counts as ''helping them.'' Schwab notes that the Foundation's donations are ''subsidizing [companies'] research costs, opening up markets for their products, and bankrolling their bottom lines in ways that, by and large, have never been publicly examined,'' even though it is taxpayer-subsidized! Linsey McGoey, a sociology professor and the author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy, says this is ''unprecedented'' and ''flabbergasting,'' and creates ''one of the most problematic precedents in the history of foundation giving by essentially opening the door for corporations to see themselves as deserving charity claimants at a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high.''
It can be difficult to find solid scrutiny of the Foundation, because, as a Vox report noted, so many people receive Gates money and stand to lose something if the Gates Foundation turns on them. The Foundation's heavy spending to ''support'' journalism raises similar concerns. Schwab, who has logged countless hours hunting down disturbing details about Gates and the Foundation, has shown that the Foundation's ties to U.S. media organizations, large and small, run deep. Schwab's work in the Columbia Journalism Review is invaluable. He reviewed almost 20,000 grants extended by the Foundation and found over $250 million going to journalism:
Recipients included news operations like the BBC, NBC, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, National Journal, The Guardian, Univision, Medium, the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, Gannett, Washington Monthly, Le Monde, and the Center for Investigative Reporting; charitable organizations affiliated with news outlets, like BBC Media Action and the New York Times' Neediest Cases Fund; media companies such as Participant, whose documentary Waiting for ''Superman'' supports Gates's agenda on charter schools; journalistic organizations such as the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the National Press Foundation, and International Center for Journalists; and a variety of other groups creating news content or working on journalism,
Small funding disclosures are common but inconsistent. (See, as an example, this Gates-sponsored Guardian op-ed called ''Child labour doesn't have to be exploitation '' it gave me life skills,'' a headline so appalling that the Guardian quietly changed it.)
The Gateses fund fact-checkers like Poynter, institutions like the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and ''educational, non-advocacy nonprofits'' like the American Press Institute. Often they fund reporting on education, which is eyebrow-raising in light of their outspoken support for charter schools. One journalist notes that ''If you are covering global health or education'... the chances that an organization [you are covering] is getting money from the Gates Foundation are very high because they basically blanket the whole world with their funding.'' Only some of the funding is publicly known, since the Foundation is required to disclose its grant recipients, but not recipients of contracts, which have included Vox.
The most menacing episode Schwab reports involved journalists for the Huffington Post who were covering the downsides of the Foundation's particular health funding priorities. These at times have steered world health toward areas the Foundation favors (like eradicating polio) and away from other important areas. During the HuffPo journalists' reporting,
'...the foundation went over their heads to seek an audience with their editors. Editors at both publications say this raised questions about Gates attempting to influence editorial direction on the stories'... the head of Gates's polio communications team'... made an unusual offer to the duo's editor, writing, 'We typically like to have a phone conversation with the editor of a publication employing freelancers we are engaging with, both to fully understand how we can help you with the specific project and to form a longer term relationship that could transcend the freelance assignment.
Not exactly a light touch! But incentives usually operate more subtly than this. Quite simply, it is difficult to honestly report on an institution if it is cutting you giant checks. There does not have to be direct Foundation approval of editorial content for there to be a serious problem here, which is that everyone in the organization knows that critical reporting might come at the price of losing financial support. Indeed, according to Global Justice Now's report, ''few of the news organisations that get BMGF money have produced any critical coverage of its project.'' This isn't proof that there are scandals being ignored, but it means we don't actually know whether the Foundation is actually spotless or is given a pass. It is not inconceivable that you might find yourself someday reading a story about a Gates-funded health project, written up in a newspaper that gets its health coverage underwritten by Gates, reported by a journalist who attended a Gates-funded journalism training program, citing data collected and analysed by scientists with grants from Gates.
Patron of ChartsIt's important that the Gates Foundation be scrutinized, because it (1) is extremely powerful and (2) does do nefarious things. This is seen clearly in its approach to U.S. ''education reform.'' Bill and Melinda Gates, like many rich people, love charter schools. Melinda has said openly that if the Gateses had their way ''you'd see a lot more charter schools. I'd love to see 20 percent charter schools in every state.'' They also believe in what we might call the Educational Reform Catechism, which is something like:
The central problem with public schools is bad teachers and the unions that protect them. We need to place teacher evaluation at the center of school reform efforts, so that good teachers are promoted and bad teachers are weeded out. Charter schools are an effective way to solve some of the problems of public schools, because they measure teacher performance and allow for Competition.To evaluate teachers we need new standards and new tests.This is crude, but no more crude than many of the public statements of Education Reformers. Gates himself, in a blog post on improving education, immediately cites two things above all others: charter schools and ''improv[ing] the way we train, measure, and reward effective teachers.'' The Gates Foundation's major education reform push ''bet big on teacher evaluation.'' Originally, as the case of Hillsborough County, Florida shows, the plan was somewhat ruthless:
The original proposal and a 2010 timeline called for the district to fire 5 percent of its teachers each year for poor performance. That would amount to more than 700 teachers. The thinking was they would be replaced by teachers who earned entry level wages, freeing up money to pay the bonuses for those at the top.
It was softened up over time. But the whole theory underlying the Gates reforms was off. Evaluating teachers based on student performance meant that teachers were ''reluctant to transfer to high-need schools.'' The Gates Foundation's half-billion dollar Effective Teacher Initiative was a complete failure in multiple places where it was tried: an in-depth evaluation commissioned by the Foundation itself showed that ''the results didn't just fail to achieve goals, but generally were null to negative across a variety of outcomes.'' Perhaps the worst part is that a stunning half-billion dollars was paid by schools themselves, and the Gates Foundation ended up causing public schools to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a program that was never going to work:
RAND reports that the Effective Teacher Initiative cost the participating schools $575 million between 2009 and 2016, with Gates contributing $212 million of that total. This tally doesn't include the staff time to conduct the requisite evaluations. Staff time totaled $73 million in 2014-15 alone (the only year RAND calculated it). That would suggest that the enormous time and effort required by the evaluation process translated into additional hundreds of millions in costs.
Hillsborough County school authorities felt they were left holding the bag, and saw the Gates Foundation as having alluded it would give far more money to the schools than it actually did.
This has not been the Foundation's only foray into education policy. It was also instrumental in swiftly pushing the controversial Common Core standards, which ''dozens of states adopt[ed] before the standards even existed, with little or no discussion.'' Progressive education activist and writer Diane Ravitch describes what happened with Common Core in scathing terms:
This is the closest thing to an educational coup in the history of the United States. Our education system is made up of about 14,000 local school districts; most education policy is set at the state level. But Bill Gates was able to underwrite a swift revolution. It happened so quickly that there was very little debate or discussion. Almost every consequential education group was funded by the Gates Foundation to study or promote the Common Core standards.
Of course, the big problem here is a lack of democracy. The best way to find out how to improve teaching is to ask teachers what they need and then give it to them. But Gates' ideology, the Education Reform Catechism, believes it knows the source of the problem'--and it is the teachers themselves. They need more evaluation. They need incentives. We can see how this is inevitably a top-down program, in which reforms are imposed on teachers instead of by teachers.
Interestingly, Gates was subjected to an unusually contentious interview in which he was asked about his outsized role in policy. Journalist Lyndsey Layton confronted Gates and made him squirm. It was clear he hadn't thought much about it:
Layton (L): Do you feel, you know the AFT [American Federation of Teachers] last week announced that they weren't going to take any more Gates money when it came to the Common Core. The assumption is there that they're somehow being bought by Gates, that they're not voicing their own honest opinions of the Core, that there's something compromising about it. So I wondered, are you concerned at all that you're becoming a liability here, or how do you answer those concerns? People think that you're the unelected school superintendent of the country.
Gates (G): [nine-second pause] Well certainly'... you've combined too many things there'... There's no connection between the AFT, AFT Innovation Fund, it's a, it was more about teacher evaluation where locals would apply for various things. Anyway, it's not, ahh'....
Later, the exchange continued:
L: Well, let me tell you what I'm hearing when I talk to people in education policy. The running joke is sooner or later, everybody works for Gates because when you look at the breadth of your funding, and in terms of the advocacy work for the Common Core, you funded on the left of the spectrum, on the right of the spectrum'--think tanks, districts, unions, business groups. It's a wide variety. It's harder to name groups that are in education that haven't received funding from Gates, than it is to name all the groups that have. So the suggestion is that because of that pervasive presence that you set the agenda, that it's harder to get contrasting views and to get real, honest debate because you are funding such a wide variety of actors in this field.
G: Boy, I, I, I guess we're not going to get to any substance, uh, here, I'm sorry. Ahh [four second pause] our advocacy money is a rounding error, okay? The K through 12 education is six hundred million years of money, a year that it spent and, trying to compute the R and D percentage of trying out new things'.... The, the Common Core, people side, and, you know, we don't, we don't fund, you know, some right wing groups that we fund, and you know, some left wing group. I don't know. I, I have no idea what you're talking about'... we, we don't'...
L: The American Enterprise Institute'...
G: We don't fund political groups. We're not'...
L: '...think tanks'...
G: '...we don't, like Heritage, CATO, people like that. Uhh'....
L: The American Enterprise Institute'...
G: That's some experts on educational policy.
L: Fordham'...
G: Say'...
L: Fordham, the Fordham Institute, to do their writing'....
G: These, these are not political things. These are things where people are trying to apply expertise to say, 'Is this a way of making education better?' But at the end of the day, I don't think wanting education to be better is a left wing or a right wing thing. And, so making sure there's as many experts, and, yes, some of them will have political'... we're doing evaluation.
(Transcription by Mercedes Schneider)
But of course, they are political things. Seemingly neutral technocracy always has an ideology. (Gates openly described his approach as ''technocratic.'') You're evaluating. But what you're evaluating depends on what your values are. What you think a ''good school'' is, and how it should run, depends on normative conceptions of education that cannot help but overlap with ''politics.''
Counterfeit BillsThe three-part Netflix documentary Inside Bill's Brain has a simple thesis: Bill Gates is a genius. He is not like you and me. He is a fascinating problem-solver dedicated to saving the world. The film features all sorts of people close to Gates praising his intellect and public-spiritedness. Inside Bill's Brain is directed by Davis Guggenheim, who also made the pro-charter school documentary Waiting For Superman (the film's production company received $2 million in Gates Foundation money). Guggenheim is clearly in awe of Gates, asking endless softball questions including asking about his favorite animal (dog) and food (burgers).
Inside Bill's Brain partly follows Gates' effort to ''reinvent the toilet'' in order to improve sanitation in developing countries. Gates speaks movingly of the completely unnecessary deaths that occur each year because of diseases that spread through human waste, and the urgency of preventing those deaths. But he also tells us that it would not be feasible to build conventional sewerage systems, because in a typical city it could cost $10 billion. Hence the ''Reinvent the Toilet'' challenge, which seeks to solve the problem by inventing an entirely new type of toilet that converts human waste into something sanitary.
The toilets that have been invented in response to the challenge are cool. If they can get the cost down, they might do a lot of good. But we also see here a problem with ''Bill's brain'' that recurs in his climate ideas: Gates believes in new technology as a solution to problems that already have solutions. It's just that the existing solutions would require the kind of transfer of wealth from rich to poor that he sees as unacceptable. In fact, we can come up with a set of rules about what kinds of solutions to social and economic problems are acceptable to Gates. The rules are:
It has to include InnovationIt should not be ''political'' It cannot in any way threaten Bill Gates' powerIt cannot violate intellectual property laws in a way that threatens the profits of large multinational corporationsIt is decided upon by Bill Gates rather than ordinary people Gates clearly loves new technology, but it means that boring projects like building infrastructure or strengthening public agencies are less interesting to him than solving a problem with a new invention. The head of the WHO's malaria research, Arata Kochi, at one point complained that the foundation was ''prioritizing only those methods that relied on new technology or developing new drugs,'' and thus ''stifling debate on the best ways to treat and combat malaria.''
The same focus on apolitical tech-based solutions that do not indict Gates personally is present in his new climate change book. Gates admits he is an ''imperfect messenger'' on climate change, but this is an understatement. Gates' personal carbon footprint, as mentioned earlier, is enormous. In a fascinating academic report by management economist Stefan G¶ssling, the air travel of various elite people and celebrities are roughly estimated based on social media posts. By evaluating the minimum amount of air travel necessary to account for celebrity post locations on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, flight reconstructions of varying completeness can be compared. And by considering the model of private plane used by each person and its known fuel efficiency, G¶ssling estimates the total private air emissions from Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and others. In a hilarious outcome for someone so often praised for his climate conscience, Gates had the very highest private plane emissions in the entire study'--as you might remember from earlier, this was a stunning 1,629 tons of CO2. The author notes this is in the neighborhood of 325 times the global average person's entire annual carbon footprint, although in his book Gates claims he will buy ''sustainable jet fuel'' going forward. The paper also includes reconstructions of where the famous and powerful people flew globally, showing world-encircling paths stretching thousands of miles, blasting out climate emissions high above our heads.
In his book, Gates claims to have divested from the fossil fuel industry in 2019, following in the footsteps of other billionaires, university endowments, and financial companies. Of course, with the industry in the doldrums since the oil price crashes of last year, this isn't quite the grand gesture it used to be. However, Schwab observes that while the Gates' personal wealth portfolio is private information, the Foundation's publicly-required disclosures include millions in direct investments in the oil industry itself, plus other major emitters like the auto and air travel industries, and construction.
Gates, while praising climate activists for drawing attention to the issue, is actually dismissive of the part of climate activism that includes environmental justice, rather than simply funding new technologies (like those developed by the nuclear power company he owns). In fact, Gates is wary of even acknowledging the politics of the climate issue. His book encourages people to get involved in politics, but, asked directly whether he felt he should have invested in the 2016 election, and thus kept a climate change-denying president out of office, he said that it is actually good to have Republicans in charge of climate policy sometimes. You know, for intellectual diversity.
This country needs changes of party. You can't have just Democrats in charge. It's not going to happen. And it's not good for the country. The Democrats do not think resources are finite. Resources are finite. I'm enough of a centrist to look at the Green New Deal and say, what world do you people live in that you're going to give everyone a job, and you stuck that in a climate bill? You must not be serious about climate. You must be singing the theme song of the Internationale and reading Marx. Do you want that party to be in charge forever? No, no'...
This is disgusting. Gates, having come around to seeing climate change as important only recently, and contributing far more than his fair share to the problem, is telling activists like the Sunrise Movement that they must not be serious about climate change because there is a jobs component to their giant infrastructure overhaul plan. This, he says, is communism and shows that Republicans should share power. Gates clearly has done no engagement whatsoever with the movement activists he is so contemptuous of, nor has he even read any of their literature. It is certainly true that today's activists increasingly want to change the political and economic system he sits at the top of, and it's understandable that he would want to direct the conversation away from the economic justice part of the activist agenda. But the idea that Republicans should have a role on climate policy because Democrats are proposing a bill that tries to fix multiple problems at once shows Gates is not actually serious about the politics of climate change. As Bill McKibben pointed out in his review of Gates' book, Gates says he believes in ambitious policies, but if Republicans get into power ''the chances for those ambitious climate policies would have been nil.''
Bill Gates is not the person you want in charge of policy, in part because Gates is driven by an ideology that does not allow interventions that threaten corporate profits. The Gates Foundation helped urge Oxford University to back off its pledge to give away the COVID vaccine it was developing, instead signing a deal with AstraZeneca that ''gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices.'' Gates defended this as coming from a concern with vaccine quality and safety, but we know that his belief in strict IP protections, and the ''incentive to innovate,'' is a deep part of his ideology. James Love, director of the NGO Knowledge Ecology International and a Gates critic, says that:
He uses his philanthropy to advance a pro-patent agenda on pharmaceutical drugs, even in countries that are really poor,'... Gates is sort of the right wing of the public-health movement. He's always trying to push things in a pro-'‹corporate direction. He's a big defender of the big drug companies. He's undermining a lot of things that are really necessary to make drugs affordable to people that are really poor. It's weird because he gives so much money to [fight] poverty, and yet he's the biggest obstacle on a lot of reforms.
Do people want this? How much of the world approves of Oxford's licensing decision? There is no way for the public to exercise veto power over what Gates chooses to do. Alexander Zaitchik, in an excellent expose for the New Republic, shows how Gates insistence on protecting pharmaceutical profits is ''reinforcing the system responsible for the very problems he claims to be trying to solve'' and throughout his health initiatives the ''through-line for Gates has been his unwavering commitment to drug companies' right to exclusive control over medical science and the markets for its products.'' With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in the developing world, this is monstrous.
There is one argument worth addressing here, which is that while having Bill Gates make important public health decisions may be non-ideal, governments are slow and self-interested. This means that if you want programs like the Gates Foundation's efforts to eradicate malaria and polio, it's good to have the ''nimble'' benevolent billionaire whose work doesn't have to be approved by a sluggish democracy. But this is a false choice. These are not the two possible worlds. What we need to do is not only eliminate the power of billionaires to control policy, but also ensure that the public sector works. It is not utopian to believe in a possible world in which there are non-sociopathic public institutions that are just as committed to making sure services are delivered quickly to those most in need around the world.
In fact, examining Gates should cause us to think hard about what alternatives look like. What could the computer revolution have looked like if Gates and his ilk hadn't tried to smother the open source movement and end collaborative computing culture? (Perhaps many more things would be run on the Wikipedia model.) How much wealth and power is too much? How do we ensure that the world's poorest are given justice without being dependent on Good Billionaires? To what extent are new technologies important compared with building strong public institutions? How do we get from where we are to where we want to be? We know that these questions are not easy. But we also know that the answer can't involve Bill Gates.
Bill Gates' career has two parts: the part in which he was monopolizing industries and destroying competitors' (often better) products and the part where he became a jet-setting billionaire philanthropist whose work is hard to hold accountable and who sometimes directly undermines the public good. It is frustrating, then, to see certain anti-Gates conspiracy theorists online, who hate Gates for the wrong reasons, falsely accusing him of absurd crimes like paralyzing thousands of children with vaccines. The BBC reports that in the COVID era, Gates has been the ''voodoo doll'' of conspiracies, which take various forms:
Some accuse him of leading a class of global elites. Others believe he is leading efforts to depopulate the world. Still more accuse him of making vaccines mandatory, or even attempting to implant microchips into people.
The problem is that one of these things is kind of true. Gates is not a Lizard Person, and his foundation has done some excellent work, but he is part of a small class of elites who are able to bypass democracy, and does embody many aspects of contemporary society that need to change. The decision of individual billionaires to be useful is better than pure self-regard, but ultimately billionaires should not exist in the first place. Bill Gates is richer than 140 different countries. This is too much concentrated wealth and power and it makes a farce of democracy. The question of how the huge resources of the modern world are used to meet our broad social needs should be decided on democratically, not by the whim of a rich person.
Let Gates jet off into the sunset.
China Insists Shaking Skyscraper is Safe as Building Continues to Wobble
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:45
A 1,000-foot skyscraper in southern China was evacuated for a second time in three days after occupants on different floors reported shaking, a local media outlet said on Thursday.
The landmark 72-story SEG Plaza in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was featured in scenes of mass panic on Tuesday after reports of shaking and swaying led hundreds to flee the vicinity, which is part of the Huaqiangbei shopping area in Futian District.
Chengdu-based news portal The Cover said occupants on floors 35, 55 and 60 reported renewed shaking at just after 12:30 p.m. local time on Thursday. The report, which carried short videos showing water sloshing around a teapot and fishbowl, said tenants were asked to evacuate.
After the initial incident on Tuesday, the municipal government said a preliminary safety inspection had determined the structure to be sound, but the precise cause of the wobbling was still being investigated.
The shaking was not linked to an earthquake as monitoring stations had not detected any seismic activity nearby, the notice said.
Store owners working in the top 10 floors at the SEG Electronics Market were allowed back into the building on Wednesday, as were staff employed in offices further up the high-rise, but customers continued to be kept out as a precaution.
Local media outlets said minor shaking was reported on the day as well, but no order was given to clear the building.
The U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, about 85 miles northwest of Shenzhen, has advised American citizens to avoid the building and its surrounding area. Its notice cited a "lack of risk assessment information."
On Wednesday, the Shenzhen government said an evaluation commissioned by the city's Housing and Construction Bureau found SEG Plaza's main structure to be safe. The skyscraper's vibration frequency, inclination and settlement were all within the standard range, and testing showed no anomalies.
The assessment was not able to identify the cause of the shaking.
Empty stalls inside SEG Electronics Market, which occupies the first 10 floors of SEG Plaza in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, after the skyscraper was evacuated following unexplained shaking and swaying on May 18, 2021.According to Wuhan's Jimu News, a leaked internal document listed three possible causes for the shaking: wind, the operations of two subway lines below the building, and temperature. The temperature variation this week was measured at 8 C (46.4 F) and may have affected the steel structure, the report said.
The provincial Department of Emergency Management, which confirmed the veracity of the document, told Jimu News that further evaluations were still ongoing.
On Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media website, the preliminary findings were met with skepticism, with many arguing that other skyscrapers are also subject to the same conditions.
Shenzhen's Emergency Management Bureau is yet to comment to Thursday's reports of shaking.
The 1,000-foot SEG Plaza skyscraper in Shenzhen, Guangdong, began allowing merchants and staff back inside on May 19, 2021, a day after shaking and swaying triggered widespread panic and an evacuation. STR/AFP via Getty Images
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VIDEO - Mayor Warren's husband pleads not guilty to drug, gun charges | WHEC.com
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:40
Granison's attorney John DeMarco says there are no lab reports, field tests, or supporting depositions to the accusatory documents he's been provided. A judge denied DeMarco's request to dismiss the charges against Granison. The assistant district attorney says these complaints only provide notice of the charges against him.
Granison was released on his own recognizance since bail is not allowed on these charges. His next court date is set for June 21 at 10 a.m. '-- the day before the mayoral Democratic primary in Rochester. Warren is seeking a third term in office.
State police and Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley held a press conference Thursday morning regarding the search warrant that was executed at Warren and Granison's home on Woodman Park Wednesday.
Click here for the latest developments from the press conference.
New York State Police Major Barry Chase confirmed troopers conducted a criminal investigation at the home of Warren and Granison. A source confirmed to News10NBC Wednesday night Granison was taken into custody.
State Police are currently conducting an investigation on Woodman Park. Street is currently blocked to traffic. More details to come. pic.twitter.com/kfQOOWrwsw
'-- Patrick Moussignac (@WHEC_Moussignac) May 19, 2021Reporter Patrick Moussignac saw what looked like evidence being removed from the home.
Some evidence being removed from home on Woodman Park. pic.twitter.com/HFRFvvyYAT
'-- Patrick Moussignac (@WHEC_Moussignac) May 19, 2021Several of Warren's neighbors stood and watched as police conducted their search of her home. Mel Brooks said he's known the Warren family for quite a while now.
''Sometimes I talk to her. Only time I talk to her is if she's out and around,'' Brooks said.
We asked Brooks how he felt about the search on her house.
''It doesn't make me feel good. I didn't want her to get in trouble or anything like that,'' Brooks said.
This latest incident has some people already talking.
''I think it's a black eye for the Mayor,'' Brooks said.
Warren was indicted in a campaign finance fraud case in October, but a representative for the Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley told the Associated Press that Wednesday's police activity at her home was not connected to that case.
Police arrived on the scene at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and left at around 6:30 p.m.
News10NBC later saw two men in handcuffs being taken from the New York State Police barracks on Scottsville Road. New York State Police said it is connected to the earlier search of Warren's home.
One of the men was wearing a white t-shirt and blue shorts.
Breaking: two men in handcuffs taken from the NYSP barracks. NYSP says this is connected to the search of the mayor's home this afternoon. Watch us follow the men in custody to the county jail on @news10nbc at 11. pic.twitter.com/p9DuXMNUTT
'-- Berkeley Brean (@whec_bbrean) May 20, 2021The man on the left coming out of the NYSP barracks tonight matches the man taken into custody at Mayor Warren's home this afternoon. @news10nbc pic.twitter.com/3hLJTbMoVG
'-- Berkeley Brean (@whec_bbrean) May 20, 2021News10NBC saw a man wearing the same clothes taken in handcuffs from the mayor's home Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier in the evening, state police told Berkeley Brean he would see two people in handcuffs, taken by troopers and that it was connected to the search warrant on the mayor's home.
That's exactly what he saw.
News10NBC had a team waiting for the car as it arrived at the Monroe County Jail. When two men in the back seat saw our camera, they ducked their heads below the windows.
Attorney John DeMarco came to the State Police Barracks Wednesday night. He told Brean he was not officially retained so he could not talk on the record.
This case adds another layer to a year of crisis for the mayor.
She was indicted in October on allegations she broke campaign finance rules. She has since acknowledged making errors in the handling and reporting of campaign contributions as she seeks a third term in office, and over the summer she faced calls to resign over her handling of the death of Daniel Prude.
The City of Rochester Director of Communications sent the following statement Wednesday night:
''The Mayor is just learning about the events that unfolded this afternoon and has no more information than the rest of the community. She hopes to learn more details this evening and will have a statement tomorrow.''
Mayoral candidate Malik Evans' campaign sent the following statement to News10NBC Wednesday night:
"We are aware of the situation at the mayor's house today. We are still learning details and believe it is not appropriate to comment at this time."
VIDEO - 'Nina' NHS Whistleblower
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:39
May 17, 2021
Support the Delingpod: https://www.subscribestar.com/jamesdelingpole
James talks to the receptionist of a large NHS medical practice. She tells him the true shocking story about adverse reactions to the 'jab'.
Please note - Nina's name has been changed and her voice has been altered to protect her identity
| Download( Loading )
VIDEO - (20) Musicman on Twitter: "Plasma is needed. But NOT from those vaccinated! https://t.co/hNLsOVrtul" / Twitter
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:37
Musicman : Plasma is needed. But NOT from those vaccinated! https://t.co/hNLsOVrtul
Wed May 19 03:39:42 +0000 2021
VeritasQuaesitor : @MusicManVA @FredSim69351984 1) I'm trying to find a source that confirms that the vaccine wipes out natural immuni'... https://t.co/1tTkMPvwsT
Sun May 23 11:52:36 +0000 2021
Al Batross : @MusicManVA @OPTV_media @TwitterSafety @TwitterSupport medical misinformation alert
Sat May 22 14:34:20 +0000 2021
VIDEO - (208) 4-year-old Syracuse boy vaccinated for Covid 19 - YouTube
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:34
VIDEO - Fed To Publish Report On US Digital Currency This Summer | ZeroHedge
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:31
In the immediate aftermath of the crypto crash, which made bitcoin and its peers the main talking point amid trading desks as well as the general public, with google searches for cryptocurrency hitting an all time high on Wednesday...
.. at 2pm today Fed Chair Powell reminded the peasantry that the Federal Reserve itself is planning on rolling out its own CBDC, i.e., a digital dollar, and announced that the Fed plans to publish this summer a discussion paper "that will explore the implications of fast-evolving technology for digital payments, with a particular focus on the possibility of issuing a U.S. central bank digital currency."
"As the central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve is charged with promoting monetary and financial stability and the safety and efficiency of the payment system," Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell said Thursday in a video message. "In pursuit of these core functions we have been carefully monitoring and adapting to the technological innovations now transforming the world of payments, finance, and banking."
''We are committed at the Federal Reserve to hearing a wide range of voices on this important issue before making any decision on whether and how to move forward with a U.S. CBDC,'' he said in a statement Thursday, referring to central bank digital currencies.
Powell also made it clear that he wants the Fed to play ''a leading role'' in the development of international standards. Central banks around the world - most notably the People's Bank of China - are moving ahead with digital currencies which could give them a head-start in how standards develop, according to Bloomberg. Indeed, the chart below shows the number of country CBDC projects by stage of development.
The announcement, which comes as China launches its own digital yuan which however has emerged as one giant flop, and during a week of intense volatility in cryptocurrencies, marks a shift in momentum on the CBDC topic at the Fed, which until now has mostly been a technological research project at its regional branch in Boston.
A key issue for Powell and other Fed officials is how such technology would fit into the current U.S. banking system, which already deals with electronic payments in a variety of ways. Critics of the current system say it locks out many low-income people and charges them fees for basic services that people with high account balances don't suffer. Digital currency accounts held by individuals could serve as a form of competition. Still, the banking system offers high protection for depositors, including insurance, that a less regulated system may not offer.
''Our key focus is on whether and how a CBDC could improve on an already safe, effective, dynamic, and efficient U.S. domestic payments system,'' Powell said adding that "it is important that any potential CBDC could serve as a complement to, and not a replacement of, cash and current private-sector digital forms of the dollar, such as deposits at commercial banks. The design of a CBDC would raise important monetary policy, financial stability, consumer protection, legal, and privacy considerations and will require careful thought and analysis'--including input from the public and elected officials."
Translation: the financial system is on the verge of collapse and only the ramming through of programmable digital dollars, which can be turned off and expire at the push of a button as well as devalue themselves under a negative rates environment, can save it. Oh, and in a sequel to FDR's Executive Order 6102, the government will confiscate all your physical cash (and precious metals) and replace it with digital bux.
Despite implicitly admitting that the digital currency revolution started by bitcoin has changed the world, and is about to change accepted money forever, Powell took the opportunity to bash true digital currencies. The Fed chair said that ''to date, cryptocurrencies have not served as a convenient way to make payments, given, among other factors, their swings in value.''
Which is news to anyone who bought crypto several years ago and held, or anyone for that matter who bought bitcoin prior to March: they have not only preserved their value but seen their wealth explode.
What was perhaps more notable was Powell's far more supportive view of stablecoins:
... coins tied to the value of the dollar or another currency'--known as ''stablecoins'''-- have emerged as a new way to make payments. These stablecoins aim to use new technologies in a way that has the potential to enhance payments efficiency, speed up settlement flows, and reduce end-user costs'--but they may also carry potential risks to those users and to the broader financial system. For example, although the value of a stablecoin may be tied to the value of a dollar, these coins may not come with the same protections as traditional means of payment, such as physical currency or the deposits in your bank account. Therefore, as stablecoins' use increases, so must our attention to the appropriate regulatory and oversight framework. This includes paying attention to private-sector payments innovators who are currently not within the traditional regulatory arrangements applied to banks, investment firms, and other financial intermediaries.
This comment from Powell is quite bullish for stablecoins such as Facebook's Diem, as well as Silvergate - the bank which the social network recently announced it would partner with in issuing the Facebook stablecoin, the DiemUSD.
As for Powell's expectations for the upcoming CBDC paper, he said it would represent a thoughtful process. "Irrespective of the conclusion we ultimately reach, we expect to play a leading role in developing international standards for CBDCs, engaging actively with central banks in other jurisdictions as well as regulators and supervisors here in the United States throughout that process.''
Powell's transcript below.
VIDEO - Consumers' First - Consumers' Research
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:13
Our mission at Consumers' Research is to increase the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers and to promote the freedom to act on that knowledge and understanding. With the Consumers First Initiative we will put corporations on notice '' It's time to start serving your customers and stop serving woke politicians.
Read about our launch here.
VIDEO - (208) Latest 'nonsense' from PETA on the mouse plague 'takes the cake' - YouTube
Sun, 23 May 2021 12:02
VIDEO - Eurovision 2021 live: UK suffers history-making defeat with zero points from jury and public
Sun, 23 May 2021 11:08
There are Eurovision defeats '' then there's the slow, public death the UK had to endure at today's 2021 Eurovision Song Contest.
The UK's entry, singer James Newman, watched on as the votes rolled in for his song, Embers '' or rather, they didn't.
Modern Eurovision voting is split into two categories: Each country's jury votes go first, with their public votes to follow.
It's an interesting process and often exposes a deep divide between the acts the juries prefer and those who appeal to the public (this year's winners, Italy, only leapt up the leaderboard to their winning position thanks to a massive public vote).
RELATED: All our coverage of the 2021 Eurovision Grand Final
Poor Newman ended the first round of jury voting as the only one of 26 acts to score zero points.
When time came to read out the public votes, the UK's were read first, and once again, Newman scored zero.
This shocking result means not one of the juries of Eurovision's 39 voting countries chose Embers among their 10 favourite songs of the final. Nor did Embers place in the top 10 of any country's public vote.
The likelihood of this double-zero placing happening had been deemed ''almost impossible'' since this new voting system was introduced in 2016 '' and indeed, it hadn't happened before today.
It made for brutal scenes inside the arena, as Newman put on a brave face and his fellow artists rallied around him.
''I honestly don't know what to say,'' BBC commentator Graham Norton said in voiceover as the UK's dismal result sank in:
Newman wasn't the only artist to feel a lack of love from the public this year: Germany, the Netherlands and Spain had all scored a handful of jury votes, but got precisely zero love from the public.
The UK has form in this area too, having previously scored the dreaded ''nul points'' under the old voting system back in 2003, when short-lived pop duo Jemini turned in an off-key performance of their song Cry Baby. It was the first English-language song in Eurovision history to receive no points.
Fans in the UK are posting through the heartbreak and wondering how it all went so wrong '' again '' for a country that's not short of brilliant pop stars:
Better luck next year, UK. It literally cannot get any worse.
VIDEO - Eurovision 2021: ALL FOUR ZERO POINTS!! (UK, Germany, Spain, Netherlands) - YouTube
Sun, 23 May 2021 10:58
VIDEO - Eurovision Song Contest on Twitter: "Italy is the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021! Watch @thisismaneskin's reaction! #Eurovision #OpenUp https://t.co/5Uoe4GgP7n" / Twitter
Sat, 22 May 2021 23:25
Eurovision Song Contest : Italy is the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021! Watch @thisismaneskin's reaction! #Eurovision #OpenUp https://t.co/5Uoe4GgP7n
Sat May 22 22:51:32 +0000 2021
VIDEO - When even the aides don't trust 'Aviator Joe', we can't have confidence in him 'leading the world' - YouTube
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:30
VIDEO - The Monetary Digital Reset Was Just Announced By The FED ( This Will Change Everything! ) - YouTube
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:15
VIDEO - (207) Definitely Not a Cult - YouTube
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:10
VIDEO - (207) Massive Computer Outage Causes Frustrating Delays At Airport Nationwide, Including LAX - YouTube
Sat, 22 May 2021 20:08
VIDEO - Marjorie Taylor Greene Compares House Mask Mandates To The Holocaust | Crooks and Liars
Sat, 22 May 2021 15:34
After calling Nancy Pelosi "mentally ill," Greene went on to say "we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star" and "taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany."
Let me get this straight. Because Nancy Pelosi wants to require masks on the House Floor, this is the same as the Nazis Final Solution?
Source: CNN
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, during an interview on a conservative podcast this week, compared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to continue to require members of the House to wear masks on the chamber floor to steps the Nazis took to control the Jewish population during the Holocaust.
Greene, in a conversation with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody Real America's Voice TV show "The Water Cooler," attacked Pelosi and accused her of being a hypocrite for asking GOP members to prove they have all been vaccinated before allowing members to be in the House chamber without a mask.
"You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany," Greene said. "And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about."
The American Jewish Congress had this to say:
You can never compare health-related restrictions with yellow stars, gas chambers & other Nazi atrocities.Such comparisons demean the Holocaust & contaminate American political speech.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene must immediately retract and apologize.https://t.co/pdU8H8h2tO
'-- American Jewish Congress (@AJCongress) May 21, 2021
Jake Tapper, also Jewish, was offended both by the repugnant Greene and the fake journalist on CBN.
MTG says Speaker Pelosi wanting Members of Congress to get vaccinated and if not to wear masks is ''exactly the type of abuse'' as murdering Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust and David Brody nods along. No follow up. pic.twitter.com/inXfD8UBiG
'-- Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 22, 2021
And Liz Cheney opines.
This is evil lunacy. https://t.co/xHeUgbx7wa
'-- Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) May 22, 2021
VIDEO - Covid vaccine status feature on NHS app reveals plans for domestic use - YouTube
Sat, 22 May 2021 14:46
VIDEO - BBC News (World) on Twitter: "No, your Covid vaccine isn't a magnet https://t.co/I4qtbMhN2Y https://t.co/0Qh40xxVeZ" / Twitter
Sat, 22 May 2021 10:53
BBC News (World) : No, your Covid vaccine isn't a magnet https://t.co/I4qtbMhN2Y https://t.co/0Qh40xxVeZ
Sat May 22 08:56:22 +0000 2021
Yoot Digme 🌠: @BBCWorld A Call to Protect the Nature!Thread:https://t.co/eivAsXYZZB
Sat May 22 10:50:21 +0000 2021
jordan87 : @BBCWorld Can I get a list of all the ingredients in this cocktail?
Sat May 22 10:50:19 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Tom Elliott on Twitter: "CNN's @donlemon: "The only party now that is operating in reality is the Democratic Party. The Republican Party is obsolete '... I'm not a political person. I'm a person who lives in reality. I'm a journalist." http
Fri, 21 May 2021 20:31
Tom Elliott : CNN's @donlemon: "The only party now that is operating in reality is the Democratic Party. The Republican Party is'... https://t.co/5XkB6tMYaZ
Fri May 21 12:26:12 +0000 2021
Wendy P : @tomselliott @donlemon As obsolete as media. Hmmm we are a powerful group and your time is coming.
Fri May 21 20:30:29 +0000 2021
Russell Snyder : @tomselliott @donlemon We are not going anywhere Donnie boy
Fri May 21 20:28:58 +0000 2021
geert van lantschoot : @tomselliott @benshapiro @donlemon Would this 'žJournalist 'ž understand the word oxymoron? ðŸ¤
Fri May 21 20:26:52 +0000 2021
Jahn Wick : @tomselliott @donlemon Hmmm, I'm a "journalist" too!
Fri May 21 20:25:07 +0000 2021
希æ'› : @tomselliott @donlemon CNN🤮🤮🤮
Fri May 21 20:24:41 +0000 2021
VIDEO - sobogus on Twitter: "@adamcurry @mediamonarchy The truth always wants to come out" / Twitter
Fri, 21 May 2021 20:28
sobogus : @adamcurry @mediamonarchy The truth always wants to come out https://t.co/URpUhJL3TQ
Fri May 21 16:22:48 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Mouse plague: Will it come to Sydney? Increase in snakes to follow
Fri, 21 May 2021 14:21
As the mouse plague continues to ravage western New South Wales, pest control experts have played down fears the rodents could roll over the mountains to Sydney '' but there's an ominous warning about what might come next. Footage of the mega-mischiefs of mice tearing through crops and infesting homes and vehicles in rural NSW have made headlines worldwide.
Farmers have estimated their losses of fodder and stored grain as worth up to $150,000 apiece, an especially hard blow coming as it did on the back of the best crop many have had for years after an extended drought.
A $50 million support package has been pledged by the NSW Government to help combat the mouse plague, which has seen some farmers' crop devastated. (Facebook / NSW Farmers)Favourable conditions that led to a bumper harvest are thought to be the same conditions that helped mouse populations thrive. (Facebook / Zinuru) There have been reports the mouse plague could continue pressing on, eventually even reaching Sydney after hitching a ride on food trucks.
However, Pestworks spokeswoman Anna told nine.com.au it was unlikely to be the case.
"This time of year, we do treat more rodent infestations," she said.
"But it spikes because it's a seasonal thing, they are coming indoors for warmth. I don't think there's a correlation."
Gerard Dallow from Sydney-based Micropest told nine.com.au that he had previously worked in South Australia's wheat belt area, where mouse infestations were a more frequent occurrence.
An increase in snakes is likely to follow the mouse plague. (9Now) "This is fairly normal for South Australia, it doesn't happen so much in NSW," he said.
"The mice aren't likely to leave the food sources and head into the city."
He said mouse numbers in regional NSW were likely to take a hit during winter '' and come summer-time, the mice would turn from predators to prey.
"After the mice, the snakes will follow," he said.
Essentially, a plague of snakes is set to follow the plague of mice.
Snakes are of course less damaging to crops and homes, but could still be a cause for concern for people.
The giant NSW mouse plague
Professor Karl Vernes, a senior lecturer in mammal ecology and conservation at the University of New England, previously told nine.com.au the mouse population was likely to diminish during colder months, but that it was "hard to know" when the plague would end.
"Mice are driven by the same constraints as other animals - food, shelter and resources," Professor Vernes said.
"If those things are there they will go on breeding."
Nine.com.au has contacted the CSIRO for comment.


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Dog Pharma ad with disclaimer.mp3
ABC GMA - anchor Whit Johnson - Fauci (1) - when can we declare an end to this pandemic (1min2sec).mp3
ABC GMA - anchor Whit Johnson - Fauci (2) - herd immunity (44sec).mp3
ABC GMA - anchor Whit Johnson - Fauci (3) - boosters (54sec).mp3
CBS Evening News - anchor Nikki Battiste - booster likely needed -clip of Fauci - twofer on offer a shot and a free meal (1min3sec).mp3
NBC Nightly News - anchor Miguel Almaguer - booster 8 to 12 months -clip of Albert Bourla (39sec).mp3
ABC America This Morning - anchor Mona Kosar Abdi - booster shots likely needed 8 to 12 months - vax lottery in OH working (21sec).mp3
NBC Nightly News - anchor Tom Costello - vax card needed to fly in US unlikely -negative to return -80 percent of world Level 4 Do Not Travel (1min17sec).mp3
ABC America This Morning - anchor Mona Kosar Abdi - $1600 bonus to forgo umemployment and return to work (32sec).mp3
BIDEN mumbling about world protection.mp3
BIDEN Ramble one.mp3
BIDEN rebuild gaza.mp3
canned wine NTD.mp3
Chicago Trib sold 2 NPR.mp3
Chicago Trib sold One NPR.mp3
COVID EU=America Herd Imm.mp3
COVID EU=America travel.mp3
COVID Fauci backtracking NPR.mp3
Covid incentives colorado.mp3
COVID on Mt Everest.mp3
COVID slapping kid.mp3
Dissedent in Dubai 2.mp3
Dissedent in Dubai ONE NTD.mp3
Epstein update guards.mp3
Fulton County rundown NTD.mp3
Fulton County rundown Podcst.mp3
Great Achievement ISO.mp3
IRS to Expand.mp3
lohmeier Hannity 2.mp3
lohmeier Hannity One.mp3
melber Chai trump blogger MSNBC.mp3
palestine update NPR.mp3
Pop ISO.mp3
Rutgers vaccine policy NTD.mp3
SC Open Carry Law NTD.mp3
Seattle Police quitting NTD.mp3
Vaccine incentives Georgia jail.mp3
awfully ISO.mp3
BIDEN 5u gaffe.mp3
BIDEN everyone wants the vaccine.mp3
BIDEN hate crime bill.mp3
Australia Mouse Plague o its way to Sidney.mp3
PETA is abgry about the mouse plague.mp3
Consumerresearch Woke Companies -2- Coca Cola.mp3
Consumerresearch Woke Companies -3- Nike.mp3
Consumerresearch Woke Companies -1- Amerrican Airlines.mp3
Eurovision UK Zero Points three in a row.mp3
Manenskin - Zitti E Buoni Eurovision Winner.mp3
Sharyl Attkissonwith 60 mins prod Ira Rosen Carter UFO files.mp3
NA Clip - dr drew public health vs science.mp3
New York Times Best Selling Author Michael Capuzzo Issues a Plea to Fellow Journalists FLCCC.mp3
People vaccinated can't donate convalescent plasma after.mp3
ABC America This Morning - anchor Mona Kosar Abdi - NY vax and scratch off lottery -more states more incentives (40sec).mp3
Dating apps vaccine package.mp3
Dating apps vaccine status with Molly Wood.mp3
Sadik Khan on 6 million londoners have received a dose of the virus.mp3
TikTok Girl for Kids THE SHOT.mp3
ABC America This Morning - anchor Mona Kosar Abdi - mask in school (1min11sec).mp3
  • 0:00
    Adam: They'll give you a little bit of Adam Curry Jhansi devora Sunday May 23 2021. This is your award winning chemo nation media assassination Episode 1349. This is no agenda celebrating. broadcasting live from opportunity zone 33 here in the frontier of Austin, Texas capital of the drone Star State. Good morning, everybody.
  • 0:23
    John: I'm Adam Curry and from Northern Silicon Valley where flying saucers are identified and Jhansi devorah.
  • 0:31
    Unknown: buzzkill.
  • 0:34
    Adam: Well, it happened again yesterday, john, my favorite event of the year. It's the big one. It's the one I live for the one that I almost hosted this year.
  • 0:43
    John: Your birthday,
  • 0:44
    Adam: the Eurovision Song Contest finals were last night. Yes. And the winner in a crazy horse race finish between Switzerland and France at the very last moment, Italy one with a throwback band from the 70s with leather bell bottom pants and everything, man and skin with citied wanting
  • 1:13
    to hear a little bit of how much as they were kicking onstage.
  • 1:22
    Anyway, so they won.
  • 1:24
    John: But holy Zee like a bad ZZ Top.
  • 1:29
    Adam: So I watched the whole show and there was a number of things I need to talk about because this of course, is a new world order globalist program. Remember it is the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • 1:42
    John: At the start, I have to ask a bunch of questions that know nothing about this. So let me ask you.
  • 1:47
    Adam: Exactly. We don't do this every year. I love it.
  • 1:51
    John: That's a euro vision. Yes.
  • 1:53
    Adam: to worry euro. Yes. Correct. Yes.
  • 1:56
    John: Now does that mean is in the Eurozone referring to the currency? Well, john, this
  • 2:02
    Adam: is very interesting. Because Europe, as everyone is addressing it last night Europe includes Israel, Azerbaijan, includes Malta, and maybe Malta. Malta party? Yeah, you can see that too. But it's always Israel is always the strange one. Azerbaijan. I come on, Australia. Oh,
  • 2:25
    John: wait. I think I'm figuring it out. So this refers to countries that use the Euro in some trading sense. Maybe they trade you know, exchange euros for shekels.
  • 2:37
    Adam: Now this goes back to gosh, it must be 60 years now, the European Broadcasting Union, which you could join as a non European member. So it's a it's a club and they share some satellite resources. A lot of it is basically countries that have a public Broadcast System. So these shows are produced by government with government money. Go these.
  • 3:01
    John: I thought this was a commercial enterprise. Oh,
  • 3:04
    Adam: no, no, this is all government money. This is
  • 3:06
    John: like PBS doing a music festival.
  • 3:10
    Adam: Yes, with a pledge drive
  • 3:13
    John: bag, all in the Red River Valley or something. And john cash would be the host. So here's,
  • 3:19
    Adam: here's how it works. I think they had 37 countries that all entered into they go through their national, there's a whole thing. Every country goes to their national awards. And then the winner of that goes to the finals. Now.
  • 3:34
    John: I still have more questions. Yes. happens every four years.
  • 3:37
    Adam: Now. It's every year.
  • 3:39
    John: It's like the Olympics, or maybe the World Cup every four years they do this? No, it's every year.
  • 3:43
    Adam: What what's the point? What do you mean? What's the point
  • 3:47
    John: toward these sorts of events supposed to be every four years is a big deal. Doom it when we have the Olympics every year that we're the World Cup every year? It doesn't make sense?
  • 3:56
    Adam: Well, I can't help you with that. We're all very happy with with a yearly occurrence,
  • 4:01
    John: an entity
  • 4:02
    Adam: now Okay, so the way they do the voting is you have professional judges in each country. And, of course,
  • 4:11
    John: but support what constitutes constitutes in the public, public broadcasting sense of the word. A professional judge,
  • 4:19
    Adam: typically a musician who had a big hit in the 60s or 70s, maybe in the 80s, who now sits on the board of some Performing Rights Organization.
  • 4:29
    John: Yeah. What is what what makes that I want to ask you this is serious question this part? What makes that person a professional judge?
  • 4:41
    Adam: I have no answer for you. I'm just telling you what it is. Of course, that person is not.
  • 4:45
    John: This is all subjective, and they call it something else then just like judge Oh, that's a good question. Random judge. I
  • 4:53
    Adam: think it's to make it look more important. However, that has changed in the past five years. And the way it works is you give out points one through eight. And then there's a 10 point and a 12. Point. And for God knows why this is, but it's historic. So there's no seven. I think there's no seven, there's no nine. But there's a 10 and a 12. And the big thing is the 12 points who, Which country do, do we give our 12 points to. And this, obviously in the past was very political beats the East Bloc countries giving stuff to their neighbors and then giving zero to Russia. The Dutch always giving the Belgian some the Belgians giving the Dutch the French not giving the Belgians any, you know, that kind of stuff. So now they changed it. So now that's only half of the score. And now the audience can call in and vote or vote on that Eurovision app. And their score is 50% of the of the final score.
  • 5:54
    John: So they first they sorted it, this sort of a gimmick, is what ended up getting boaty mcboatface. The winner of the contest in England and name of new ship.
  • 6:09
    Adam: That's why this show is so fantastic. Everything about it is wrong. Now, it was produced in in Rotterdam, so the Netherlands One Two years ago, of course, they had to skip a year. And I was obviously favorite to host the show this year. But they went in a different direction and they chose for hold
  • 6:31
    John: on back off. So you were did I recall something about you hosting this show?
  • 6:38
    Adam: Yeah, I was I'm perfect for it. I speak Dutch I speak English. I am handsome. I have Tourette's? I mean, I'm all in for these European events. Yeah, I'd be blinking My eyes were address if they told you if I if they asked me to no problem. Yeah. And but they chose a host who could sing. And I was very proud to sing. Yeah, and I could accompany myself on the theremin. I mean, they understand what it was. Yeah. So it was Ed Zilla, and Nishan Tao and john and then this new girl who I guess came from Instagram or something I didn't know her. Now the show itself was tech star. The show itself the production at 10 an absolute 10 whatever money this cost, it was all on the screen. It was slick. They had fantastic graphics package. The sound was great of course this is usually it's only the singers not the the bands aren't playing themselves.
  • 7:39
    John: What was was Taylor Swift there
  • 7:41
    Adam: no there were no celebrities in the past they've they brought Madonna on and done shit like that, which no one cared about. And the first 10 songs I thought were pretty darn good. I all of them had a hook in one form or the other. It wasn't your typical kind of bubblegummy shitty pop Eurotrash song. Some of them were later on and got a little worse. But in general, I was quite impressed with that. But here is the here's the problem. In the United Kingdom, they've they've only I think the last time they won was brotherhood of man kisses for me in 1976. And Ireland has won since then. I think Scotland has won and the UK is famous for not winning. And it's such a joke in the UK that for many years. Now the way this is produced, by the way is kind of like a it is an international event. So there's no voiceover during the transition between the acts, they have a cool little trailer showing who's coming up next and what country they're from. And then all the correspondents do their voiceovers for the TV shows back home. And this radio to DJ named Terry Wogan, and later was became Sir Terry Wogan. He started to drink and do the commentary for the BBC. And it became a cult thing. And he would just be ragging on it. And just with his dry humor, and Britain would always lose because they you know, they just they always send something that suck. And he passed away and then Graham Norton took over. And he did a fantastic job. And if you recall a few years back, there was some streaming outfit on Pluto TV or whatever that had like four gay guys doing commentary for the US and it was fantastic. It was it was spotless, they were campy, exactly what you need to do with this type of broadcast. Well, that's no more because peacock bought the rights. They geo blocked everything the YouTube feed every every feed you could find from this thing was geo blocked, and you could only get it on peacock. And they just aired it without any commentary. They completely
  • 9:47
    screwed the pooch they they lost an incredible opportunity to be get themselves on the map with something that people that would people would talk about. It would be funny. They ruined it.
  • 10:02
    John: Well, it's like a shaggy dog story you just told me Well,
  • 10:05
    Adam: I'm not quite done yet. Oh, no. So next year, the keeper and I are going to do the voiceover since peacock will not provide it. And we will synchronize that on no agenda speed.
  • 10:16
    John: geoblocked
  • 10:17
    Adam: No, nobody. You mean I can watch it on peacock. And we can just talk about it. I know DJ industry and people gitmo-nation can listen to our commentary.
  • 10:25
    John: Okay, I'm all in on that. Now. I don't want to be in on it. I mean, I want you to do that. Great.
  • 10:31
    Adam: Okay, so here's, here's the here's the food.
  • 10:34
    John: here's the kicker. Hey, that's the kicker, I just told you the kicker,
  • 10:38
    Adam: fine. Even though I'm so worried about doing something fun. I can prove if Leo can provide commentary on Apple unboxing. We can do this for people.
  • 10:47
    John: Oh, interesting point.
  • 10:48
    Adam: Thank you. I won't take legal advice from you. So they did all of the professional jury judges votes. And he had France at the top he had Switzerland. And you know, Italy, jumped in later when they got you know, just a crapload of the votes from from the public. So when they started this off, they start off and the UK had zero points from the professional justice. So no country had given the UK any points and mind you, Europe. So this is Brexit time. And here's how the votes came in for the UK from the public.
  • 11:32
    Unknown: We start with the country that has received the lowest number of points from the professional juries. And that is the United Kingdom. And we will grow up country by country until
  • 11:44
    we reach Switzerland, which is now in the league with the most points given by the tourists. Let's find out the winner of the
  • 11:52
    Eurovision Song Contest. 2020
  • 11:57
    Adam: By the way, 5000 people, no mask, no social distancing, nothing mentioned no vaccine crap. No. None of it in the hallway, which it was packed. It was just shoulder to shoulder. And as he just explained, we will begin with the country that is now in last place that is United Kingdom. And the United Kingdom gets from the public. Zero point. This guy he stands up to listen to the crowd. The crowd is loving. And now they're like cheering him on.
  • 12:40
    John: Zero. scam.
  • 12:43
    Adam: Zero point. Well, of course, instead, no one in Europe is going to vote for England. Like Screw you. You went?
  • 12:48
    John: I don't believe for a minute that not one single person. This is a public vote. Well, hold on, hold
  • 12:54
    Adam: on, hold on, hold on.
  • 12:55
    John: This makes no Hold on, hold
  • 12:56
    Adam: on. Hold on. It's not like he gets a million votes. It's points. So they take all the votes and then they divide them by whatever they have. And you come up with how many points and I think the max is, like 300 or 400 or something. Now, of course, they received some votes. But it turned into zero points. And the lowest for countries including the Netherlands also got 00 votes. And I'll tell you the Netherlands who got 13 points because they were third to last base there entrant with some some black group it the guy didn't and he didn't even look Indonesian or remotely one of the islands and he was saying that like a Black Lives Matter song about the slaves. It's no wonder you got no votes, a happy song. It's like it's almost like Oh, yes, a virtue signal will send these guys to the Song Festival to represent Holland, a country of water and flowers and cheese and wooden shoes and dikes Black Lives Matter.
  • 14:05
    John: Because that was a poor idea.
  • 14:10
    Adam: Anyway, and that was my report. That's all I got. But I did find it very important to mention this. Yeah, because we follow. We follow it we follow it. And now I want to I have a gripe. Oh, I cannot believe between the two of us, between any people who can reach out to us trolls, etc. that no one came up with the show title, scratch and Vax
  • 14:39
    John: caraway
  • 14:40
    Adam: scratching Vax
  • 14:42
    John: scratch in
  • 14:43
    Unknown: Vax in New York City, the
  • 14:45
    governor announced lottery scratch tickets for people who are vaccinated with a $5 million top prize.
  • 14:51
    Adam: Everybody wins you have a one in nine chance of winning the lottery. But you get the vaccine
  • 14:58
    Unknown: and vaccinated people in May Maryland now have a chance to win $40,000 every day for 40 days with a grand prize of $400,000.
  • 15:07
    John: Go out and get vaccinated for your chance to win a share of this $2 million. So remember Maryland
  • 15:14
    Adam: gets your shot
  • 15:15
    Unknown: for a shot to win in West Virginia. People 16 to 35 who get the shot can now register for a $100 savings bond. Or gift card man
  • 15:25
    Adam: oh man oh man. Oh man. America is a great country.
  • 15:29
    John: I've got to clip even, I think top some maybe tops and maybe not right this one vaccination incentives in Georgia.
  • 15:37
    Adam: Ooh, okay. What's going on there
  • 15:40
    Unknown: judges in two Georgia counties are offering some defendants reduced community service hours in exchange to COVID-19 vaccine. For members station w AP Christopher Austin has more
  • 15:53
    judges in Georgia's Northeastern Judicial Circuit are offering some people sentenced to community service the option of reducing that time with proof of vaccination. Court administrator Jason Stevenson says judges decide on a case by case basis when to offer this option and how many hours can be earned all our judges agree that every shot in the arm is a service to the community and
  • 16:15
    John: there's time going to the vaccine
  • 16:18
    Unknown: side and on and up transportation perhaps childcare taking time off of work. Stevenson says the county has not tracked how many defendants have taken the deal. According to the CDC, Dawson and Hall counties lag behind the state average for first doses administered
  • 16:32
    Adam: Well, I'm gonna give it to you. It's early in the show, but
  • 16:38
    John: that's crazy. They decided that it's crazy shot in the arm is community community service.
  • 16:45
    Adam: Oh, wow. Yeah, it's so
  • 16:48
    John: good. If you listen to that carefully, I have one more. There's COVID. net. So everyone's starting to virtue signal about this. The ones you played like include about three or four or five states. here's the here's a PBS NPR clip, but this COVID incentives. It's gotten so bad that this is pure vert, virtue signaling, as you're hearing this report about Colorado. They don't even know what you're gonna they're just they're just saying, hey, hey, hey, we're gonna do it to
  • 17:15
    Unknown: Colorado, you could soon cash in by getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Right now, box 31 is first with new details about a lottery drawing the state will soon offer hoping more people will roll up their sleeves for a shot. And it's not chump change. But the chance for you to win a whopping million bucks a million dollars would be great. I really would be Amy who's hanging at the park with her nursing pals is already fully vaccinated, along with about 42% of the state's population. That means 58% or some 3.3 million other people are not the state is hoping Money makes them change their mind. Everybody loves incentives. That's a big one. And it's not just a million, the state is set to offer a few $1,000 drawings as well. Fox 31 is told after the official announcement, people who get vaccinated will be able to sign up along with people who have already gotten their shots. retroactive working on the specifics, but it's looking at other states that have done the same, including Ohio, and it's maximillion lottery.
  • 18:20
    John: And what motivated me to actually push through uncom through is the $1 million prize.
  • 18:25
    Unknown: He's not alone. The Buckeye State says vaccine demand is up more than 50% since it announced 5 million in prize money. That cash is coming from federal COVID-19 grants. Colorado has not said where it's getting the money from but it's likely the same source all with the goal to get more people protected from COVID. You know,
  • 18:45
    Adam: this is a unique opportunity. This is unique. We can do all kinds of fun stuff. We can shame celebrities. Hey, hey Richard Branson. Hey, Ilan, you need to give up a seat to Mars for the Vax man, come on you What do you you against it? You're an anti vaxxer.
  • 19:03
    John: Actually, what you just suggested is incredibly subversive and a great idea.