VIDEO - (68) True Name' by Mastercard - YouTube
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:36
VIDEO - (68) BITCOIN CRASHES! China Has It In for Crypto - YouTube
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:29
VIDEO - (68) Greta Thunberg X Fat Boy Slim - Right Here, Right Now - YouTube
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:19
VIDEO - (68) Make-a-wish will only grant certain wishes to fully vaccinated wish kids - YouTube
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:11
VIDEO - Sydney enters 14-day 'harsh' Covid lockdown'... '' CITIZEN FREE PRESS
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 11:26
This ''two weeks'' will become another year'...
They should take a hint from the folks at Coober Pedy
Mike Hunt from Beaver Falls
Get used to the lockdowns mates! Your commie chink masters will have their filthy nose picking fingers up all your asses soon.
It must suck living on an island with nowhere to run.
I thought the Nazi Gestapo Tyrants were gunned down in the last war?! Your SS gubment loves you into your grave mate! What are you prepared to do?
We are done with COVID fear porn. People have the choice whether to get vaccinated or to accept the risk of getting COVID. No more lockdowns, no more masks.
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Enough with the Covid BS. Tell your Communist leaders to F off.
Vote Up 10 Vote Down Reply
There goes the TP down under again'...
I demand the government administer covid anal swabs for all liberals immediately!
Vote Up 12 Vote Down Reply
Shoot! They'll gladly swab themselves and all their friends! It'd be a party for them
The first, second, third and 4th lockdowns worked perfectly, so why object to a 5th?
Vote Up 23 Vote Down Reply
I thought this thread was about Sidney Powell when I first saw the title.
If China says you have to lockdown I guess you have to follow their orders.
I Got Friends In Safe Spaces
Did the lockdowns work previously? No? Why do them again?
DID YOU THINK SOCIOPATH POLITICIANS WERE GOING TO LET THIS GO?
They are literally destroying families and businesses and trampling on basic human rights in the name of a virus which virtually everyone infected SURVIVES. Shame.
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Just the tip honey'... I promise.
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''You won't get pregnant if i put it in your other hole''
For a lockdown to work, safety measures in all parts of the world at large need to exceed Wuhan Biolab's level 4 safety measures, which failed.
Do the authorities really think the whole world will achieve level 4+ safety?
It's just two weeks. It's just a mask. It's just a shot.
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It's like deja vu all over again'...
It's just trillions of spike proteins infesting your vital organs.
This is a country where they run PSA messages on TV telling people not to sleep in the street.
Saw the headline and thought it was Sidney Powell.
The old lockdowns didn't work, what makes the local atrocities (spelling intentional) think this time will be better, or are they just sadistic and need to be removed?
Doubling down on Stoopid.
Those Ausie pissies gave their guns away a long time ago.
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There are still a lot of guns in Australia.
Only in the hands of the criminals'...
TRUMP WON BY 30 MILION VOTES
What a bunch of nonsense. Revolt, unite !
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Is there a scorpion vaccine for Aborigines too? Are the bushmen locked down?Good God mate, we sell sheep for wool and people for vaccine profit margins'...
This shows either the deep corruption or deep stupidity of the Australian government. The suspected ''virus'' of Covid-19 has NEVER been isolated. They have not identified the virus, so how could a ''varient'' be identified ? Total BS. ð
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The delta variant is proven to be deadly by Science from India
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If you can't trust science from India, who can you trust?
Mike Hunt from Beaver Falls
See what happens when you give up your guns????? Let that be a lesson for the WORLD to see.I love Aussies! They should and most likely will come to the US'...the largest tax paying populace will GTFO!'...Oppressive governments need to be punished'....HARSHLY. '...Its the only language they understand.
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What's the point of getting a vaccine if the government will still put you under house arrest? Just askin'
Vote Up 26 Vote Down Reply
What's the point of any of it, really?
Need to face truth. All population must eventually reach natural herd immunity. Either quickly as in Sweden, or drag it out over years. This virus will escape the covid medical device jab, as it's a leaky treatment that allow virus to replicate in vivo and spread. Natural immunity does not. Natural immunity targets all parts of the viral particle.The enormous long term costs of shut downs will force Australia's government to open and allow for natural immunity. But how long and at what cost to the citizens????
Can you say Ivermectin?
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Apparently NOT in Australia'...'....idiots.
It wont take that long to soften up the pussies in AU.
Stop getting tested. Most are inaccurate anyway.
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I guess that's a lot if you have the unrealistic goal of zero
Casedemic. They can leave to shop or work. No political protests, of course, conveniently.
Mike Hunt from Beaver Falls
Australia is just a bunch of dumb ass drunks who will soon fall under the power of Xi Jinping and his dog eating nose picking CCP s#itbags.
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At least they have a legitimate Government '' we don't.
Watch Sky News Australia on YouTube. You'll find they are a HELL of a lot smarter than the people in our media!
There's going to come a time when people are just gunna start Ceausescu-ing these leaders.What a complete and total crock of hooey.
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Excellent adjective creation Kit. I was thinking of that guy the other day and how he probably thought he'd escape unscathed as do the current crop of wannabe dictators.
That pic above is spot on!
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Actually more accurate would be a Karen in the pic with a mask on lecturing the non-masker that she's putting the obese woman's health at risk.
Bet they regret that entire ''Let's surrender our weapons and our Rights'' thingy from 1997'...
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Australia is a big threat to the CCP. So close to China, presents a big threat. Best lock them down before they cause trouble. Especially with the planned Taiwan invasion.
They learned nothing from the Swedes.This has zero to do with health.
Punishment from their CCP overlords.
Vote Up 11 Vote Down Reply
VIDEO - Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $230 million to settle New York opioid claim - CBS News
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 10:06
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $230 million to New York state to settle claims that the pharmaceutical giant helped fuel the opioid crisis, Attorney General Letitia James said on Saturday.
The drugmaker also agreed to permanently end the manufacturing and distribution of opioids across New York and the rest of the nation, James said in a statement announcing the settlement.
The company "helped fuel this fire, but today they're committing to leaving the opioid business - not only in New York, but across the entire country," she said.
The deal involving a lawsuit brought by James in 2019 removes Johnson & Johnson from a trial that is slated to begin next week on Long Island - part of a slew of litigation over an epidemic linked to nearly 500,000 deaths over the last two decades.
Click here to view related media. click to expand
In its own statement on Saturday, Johnson & Johnson downplayed the attorney general's announcement. It said the settlement involved two prescription painkillers - developed by a subsidiary and accounting for less than 1% of the market - that are already no longer sold in the U.S.
The settlement was "not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company," Johnson & Johnson said. It added that its actions "relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible."
The settlement was the latest development in the complicated universe of opioid-related lawsuits across the U.S. that has drawn comparisons to the multistate litigation against tobacco companies in the 1990s. It reflects a path being taken by some big drug companies that see settling as in their best interests, in part because that route would likely not cost as much as losing in court repeatedly.
Johnson & Johnson - along with distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson - made public last year that they were offering a total of $26 billion over 18 years to settle all the cases they face, with the money going to abate the crisis.
VIDEO - Disclose.tv ð¨ on Twitter: "NEW - Janice McAfee, the widow of Antivirus creator John McAfee blames U.S. authorities for his death, says he was not suicidal. https://t.co/pNHxJkdgWk" / Twitter
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 00:44
Disclose.tv ð¨ : NEW - Janice McAfee, the widow of Antivirus creator John McAfee blames U.S. authorities for his death, says he was'... https://t.co/FrtL64RRAh
Fri Jun 25 17:56:49 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Verum Bellator on Twitter: "UK'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE: WE HAVEN'T INFECTED ENOUGH OF THE POPULATION ð"ð... '' https://t.co/OCk4E8aKVd" / Twitter
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 20:38
Verum Bellator : UK'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE: WE HAVEN'T INFECTED ENOUGH OF THE POPULATION ð"ð... '' https://t.co/OCk4E8aKVd
Fri Jun 25 12:04:16 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Anti Lockdown Protest - London | 26/6/21 - YouTube
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 13:05
VIDEO - Bloomberg Quicktake on Twitter: "The head of the WHO warned the delta variant is ''the most transmissible of the variants identified so far'' and has spread in at least 85 countries https://t.co/VByQEhXziQ https://t.co/aitS2oYqXW" / Twitter
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 05:03
Bloomberg Quicktake : The head of the WHO warned the delta variant is ''the most transmissible of the variants identified so far'' and has'... https://t.co/xoreDFrH5X
Sat Jun 26 04:28:03 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Zero N.J. Deaths, WHO Warns of Delta's Surge: Virus Update - Bloomberg
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 05:03
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VIDEO - MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid Went On A Bizarre Transphobic Tirade Against Chelsea Manning Last Night
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 23:02
For all their cagey and self-proclaimed sympathy after decades of neglect, DADT and DOMA, it's truly a wonder that liberals have been able to fashion themselves into die-hard friends of the LGBTQ community almost overnight. (Of course, that's not what really happened, liberals only truly went to bat for LGBTQ folks after two things occurred: (1) some well-heeled members of the community turned themselves into gay ATMs for the Democratic Party and then threatened to pull the plug; (2) President Obama was relentlessly mocked by activists for opposing marriage equality.)
Enter: MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid, Democratic pundit, host of AM Joy and all-around bloviator on things she probably shouldn't.
Last night, in a string of tweets '-- that for some reason have yet to be deleted '-- Reid decided to use Chelsea Manning as a foil to make some sort of point about President Donald Trump's proposed transgender military ban.
Her first salvo was classic concern trolling. Reid pretended to care about an unnamed CNN guest using Chelsea Manning as an excuse to support the ban. Then it got ugly''and how''quick.
Let's dissect this without mincing words.
Joy-Ann Reid is using gender dysphoria as a pathology to account for Chelsea Manning's principled and heroic actions.
Reid suggests Manning would have been ''less volatile and vulnerable'' if she'd had earlier access to reassignment surgery. By this, Reid means maybe Manning would have been okay with the brutality of the U.S. military's operations in Iraq. That's gross and insulting. Manning's agency is removed, U.S. crimes are excused, and Manning's desire to live her life as she sees fit is turned into some kind of illness.
Sensing that her horrific point hadn't been made quite clear enough, Reid dug in. Here's another shot:
Of course, no decent person would follow up the above statement with a sentence that begins with the word ''but'', but, well'...here's the chaser:
Here, Reid is peddling whole-cloth-created (and non-existent as a matter of record) sympathy for how Manning was treated by the U.S. military. Recall, Manning's treatment while under custody was formally described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as ''cruel, inhuman and degrading.'' That same report asserted Manning's treatment under the Obama administration may have even risen to the level of torture itself. The report was issued in 2012.
Around the same time Manning was being almost-maybe tortured, Reid attacked her. The liberal favorite dead-gendered Manning and first articulated the argument rehashed last night, describing her as a ''a guy seeking anarchy as a salve for his own personal, psychological torment'' because of her gender dysphoria and sexuality. In that same blog post, Reid characterized Manning's turmoil as ''TMI''.
So, in one sense, none of this is new. Joy-Ann Reid has been an open, Manning-hating transphobic bigot for awhile. She's just now awkwardly attempting to spin her transphobia into some sort of Twitter win against the Trump administration. So, yeah, go ahead and count longtime observers as entirely not surprised.
But Reid's decision to weaponize Chelsea Manning''a person she once thoroughly demonized''by turning Manning's desire to transition into some kind of sickness that made her deliver evidence of war crimes and other unseemly behavior by the U.S. government over to Wikileaks is sad and pathetic even by her own standards.
Respect-your-betters liberal paternalism knows no bounds. At long last, chattering class libs will be prying shards of human bones from their teeth as they lecture others on dignity and restraint. Joy-Ann Reid is only symptomatic of this trend generally and liberal transphobia in particular, of course, and shouldn't merely apologize: she should delete her account.
[image via screengrab]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
VIDEO - Starship Alves on Twitter: "@Babylon_Beaver @adamcurry #ClipOfTheDay" / Twitter
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 22:07
Starship Alves : @Babylon_Beaver @adamcurry #ClipOfTheDay
Fri Jun 25 21:34:00 +0000 2021
VIDEO - W4nkÎrDAO on Twitter: "@ZaidZamanHamid @adamcurry, you might like this" / Twitter
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 20:28
W4nkÎrDAO : @ZaidZamanHamid @adamcurry, you might like this
Fri Jun 25 20:10:30 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Global Famine: Why? Bioengineered Tiny Humans for a Zero Carbon Future - YouTube
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 16:24
VIDEO - Daily Caller on Twitter: "BIDEN: "It's awful hard as well to get Latinx vaccinated... Why? They're worried they'll be vaccinated and deported." https://t.co/gt2mcuAGB2" / Twitter
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 16:21
Daily Caller : BIDEN: "It's awful hard as well to get Latinx vaccinated... Why? They're worried they'll be vaccinated and deported'... https://t.co/h4V6jO34sP
Thu Jun 24 21:59:01 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Austin joins federal partnership to prevent summer gun violence
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 15:44
President Biden is announcing new steps to control gun violence as crime surges in the nation's cities. The White House says homicides rose 30 percent last year, a trend the president called unacceptable. (File image of 6th Street in Downtown Austin: CBS Austin)
President Biden is announcing new steps to control gun violence as crime surges in the nation's cities. The White House says homicides rose 30 percent last year, a trend the president called unacceptable.
The partnership launched Wednesday is unique because money from the federal government often comes with specific instructions on what to do with it. This time the feds are asking local governments to innovate and come up with a community violence intervention that works for them.
Here in Austin, the mass shooting on Sixth Street a dozen days ago is pushing the issue of violent crime to the forefront. Recently addressing Austin's newest class of police cadets, Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon explains, ''What we're seeing is an increase in gun crime, in gun violence.''
With a long, hot summer ahead, the White House just announced a new plan to reduce violence.
And Austin's shooting was just one of several across America that weekend in this surge. With a long, hot summer ahead, the White House just announced a new plan to reduce violence. The comprehensive plan includes the following strategies:
Stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence by cracking down on gun sellers trying to evade federal laws.Support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to help address summer violent crime.Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions.That's where Austin comes in. The White House says Austin is among 15 metros across the country putting some of their American Rescue Plan money behind local efforts to curb gun violence. Austin Mayor Steve Adler adds, ''And I fully expect the federal government to make some additional funding and resources available to the 15 cities so that we're able to develop new practices and new ways of keeping cities safer."
ALSO | One dead, one wounded in double shooting in East Austin
But money doesn't appear to be the silver bullet to win this battle. Adler says, ''There are cities like Houston that have put a lot more money into hiring more officers yet they're dealing with the same challenge we are."
What the feds get out of this new crime-fighting effort is personal knowledge of the problems on the streets. Shani Buggs is an associate professor at UC-Davis and a gun violence expert. She says, ''People that are most impacted by gun violence have solutions to the problem. They know what is needed to repair the harms, to heal individuals and families."
VIDEO - U.S. Companies Making N95 Masks For COVID Struggle As Cheap Chinese Masks Return : NPR
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 13:38
A machine makes masks in a medical-equipment factory in the U.S. on Feb. 15. When an N95 respirator shortage left hospitals scrambling in 2020, U.S. manufacturers stepped in. Now, some of those companies are struggling to sell their masks. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images A machine makes masks in a medical-equipment factory in the U.S. on Feb. 15. When an N95 respirator shortage left hospitals scrambling in 2020, U.S. manufacturers stepped in. Now, some of those companies are struggling to sell their masks.
Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images A year after several American businesses sprang up to manufacture much-needed masks and N95 respirators within U.S. borders, many of those businesses are now on the brink of financial collapse, shutting down production and laying off workers.
The nationwide vaccination campaign, combined with an influx of cheaper, Chinese-made masks and N95 respirators, has dramatically cut into the companies' sales and undermined their prices.
And while some call it a normal consequence of a free market, a few business owners say they feel abandoned by the same government that relied on them to help save American lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is not only a matter of national security but of national pride," a group of them wrote last month in a letter to President Biden asking for government help.
Last year, dozens of companies like Armbrust American answered the nation's call for more domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Using its own resources and without government assistance, Armbrust purchased a facility near Austin, Texas, bought machinery, hired over a hundred workers, applied for a complicated and lengthy certification and started manufacturing.
"We started at the height of the pandemic really, in April, and very, very quickly, in about six months, we were able to scale up to producing about a million masks per day. And today we produce both surgical and N95-style masks," said Lloyd Armbrust, the founder and CEO.
Business was doing well, until the mass vaccination effort dramatically reduced demand for masks. Now, Armbrust predicts he can keep going for another four months at most, before completely shuttering the plant. "We are down to a skeleton crew on the alternate shifts and just barely a full crew on the main shift," he said.
At the beginning of this year, Armbrust and 27 other small-business mask manufacturers formed the American Mask Manufacturer's Association (AMMA).
"Let me put this in perspective: We have 28 members who are going to go out of business in the next 60 to 90 days, and when they go out of business, it's not like we turn off the lights and mothball these machines. We send them to the dump. That capacity that we created goes away," Armbrust said. Already five of the AMMA members have stopped production, he said.
These recent entrants into the mask-manufacturing industry are not the only companies cutting back on production, laying off workers and fighting for a share of a market long dominated by foreign-made products.
A worker at a Honeywell factory in Phoenix works on N95 respirators on May 5, 2020. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images A worker at a Honeywell factory in Phoenix works on N95 respirators on May 5, 2020.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images Before the pandemic began, about 10 American companies were actively making N95 respirators, according to Anne Miller, executive director of the nonprofit ProjectN95, a national clearinghouse for PPE founded in 2020. Larger companies such as Honeywell and 3M also manufactured N95s in factories abroad. All told, fewer than 10% of the N95 respirators used in the U.S. were manufactured domestically, according to industry experts.
In early 2020, China, the world's largest manufacturer of masks, was also fighting the pandemic and nationalized its manufacturing. The U.S. market, which depended mostly on masks from China, was essentially cut out.
"China, realizing that they have a crisis on their hands, restricted the export of all masks to the United States," said Robert Handfield, a professor of supply chain management at North Carolina State University. So, while those companies were still producing, he says, they were forbidden by the Chinese government from shipping the masks to the United States.
To add to the problem, even U.S. companies such as Honeywell and 3M, which manufactured predominantly abroad, faced restrictions. "3M was unable to get shipments from its own factories in China back to the United States because the exports were being prevented by the Chinese government from leaving the country," Handfield said. The inability to get masks from abroad led to shortages domestically that put the U.S. in a precarious position.
The dependency on China and other foreign countries was nothing new, recalled Mike Bowen, executive vice president of Prestige Ameritech, one of the oldest domestic manufacturers of masks in the United States.
In 2009, during the H1N1 pandemic, Prestige Ameritech stepped up production to meet the growing domestic need.
Before the pandemic, larger companies such as Honeywell and 3M manufactured N95 respirators in factories abroad. All told, fewer than 10% of the N95 respirators used in the U.S. were manufactured domestically, according to industry experts. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Before the pandemic, larger companies such as Honeywell and 3M manufactured N95 respirators in factories abroad. All told, fewer than 10% of the N95 respirators used in the U.S. were manufactured domestically, according to industry experts.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images "Last time we were stupid," Bowen said. "We believed everyone when they said they would stay with us. ... We're buying a factory, we're building more machines, we're hiring people, but you got to stay with us. And everybody said they would, but they didn't."
As soon as the health scare was over, the market dried up. The aftermath was harsh '-- laid-off workers, financial losses '-- but he survived.
This time, Bowen tried to be more careful.
"It's like people want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to have the cheapest prices '-- they want China prices '-- but then they want American manufacturers to bail them out when they can't get their Chinese products. That doesn't work," Bowen said. For comparison, one N95 respirator costs about 25 cents to manufacture in China. Producing the same product in the U.S. can cost more than double.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Bowen's company was slammed with new orders. His facility uses primarily domestically sourced raw materials, so he stepped up again. He ramped up production to meet the growing demand, adding more machines and increasing his labor force more than threefold.
Now, much cheaper masks from abroad have reentered the market yet again, as China has lifted export embargoes, competing directly against masks made in America. Bowen has six machines sitting idle in his factory.
"They want to have the cheapest prices '-- they want China prices '-- but then they want American manufacturers to bail them out when they can't get their Chinese products. That doesn't work," Mike Bowen, executive vice president of Prestige Ameritech, told NPR. Tom Pennington/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Tom Pennington/Getty Images "They want to have the cheapest prices '-- they want China prices '-- but then they want American manufacturers to bail them out when they can't get their Chinese products. That doesn't work," Mike Bowen, executive vice president of Prestige Ameritech, told NPR.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images Susanne Gerson is the executive vice president of the Louis M. Gerson Co. in Middleboro, Mass. Much like Bowen, Gerson has been in the business for years. "We've been in business for approximately 60 years, and we've been making N95 respirators since about 1985. So we're a very experienced respiratory manufacturer," she said.
When the pandemic started, Gerson said she started receiving calls personally from doctors in Massachusetts.
"I actually had people crying when I would talk to them on the phone that they didn't know what to do '-- women doctors who were pregnant and they weren't being provided any protection," she said.
The company made a decision to reconfigure its business from making masks for industrial workers to making masks for health care workers, doubling the workforce on the floor and modifying the facility.
"I think people outside of manufacturing don't understand what it takes to produce a product where we're the most critical part of this whole process and yet we're the most ignored," she said.
"We have not had to lay off people, but if things don't clear up in the pipeline and we don't get some of this confusion addressed, we don't know what's going to happen," she added.
Gerson, like Bowen and others, is calling on the Biden administration to stop the influx of Chinese products.
"We ramped up our capacity to such a level based on what we thought were commitments from new customers and people saying, 'No, we're going to need product,' and being told this by the government and by everyone. And then it's just like, poof, they're not sure," she said.
A New England Patriots jet arrives at Boston Logan International Airport on April 1, 2020, with a massive shipment of N95 respirators from China to be used in Boston and New York. When the pandemic started, Susanne Gerson, executive vice president of a mask manufacturer in Massachusetts, said she began receiving calls personally from doctors in the state looking for personal protective equipment. Jim Davis/Boston Globe via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Jim Davis/Boston Globe via Getty Images A New England Patriots jet arrives at Boston Logan International Airport on April 1, 2020, with a massive shipment of N95 respirators from China to be used in Boston and New York. When the pandemic started, Susanne Gerson, executive vice president of a mask manufacturer in Massachusetts, said she began receiving calls personally from doctors in the state looking for personal protective equipment.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe via Getty Images Gerson is also calling for more clarity around the emergency use authorization that allowed for the reuse of masks, a response to severe shortages that no longer exist.
"We are required to put that on our packaging by the FDA when we make a respirator '-- that it's a single-use product. And yet my understanding is they are still being used ... oftentimes I think what the hospital is doing is they're putting the other mask over the N95 as a way of trying to keep it clean. But it wasn't designed like that," she said.
Larger manufacturers have faced consequences from the shifting market as well.
Honeywell recently announced that it is shutting down production of N95 respirators at two facilities, in Smithfield, R.I., and Phoenix, laying off more than 1,000 workers. But the company says it has made permanent changes to its structure that would allow for a faster ramp-up next time there is a need. "While we have closed some of our manual operations efforts at two facilities, we are maintaining the automated lines to continue to fulfill orders and can ramp back up as needed," said Honeywell company spokesperson Eric Krantz.
Asking for change
The foreign-dependence vulnerability is something both the White House and members of Congress are well aware of.
Rep. Anna Eshoo has represented California's 18th Congressional District, near San Jose, for nearly three decades. She also chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health.
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, speaks to the media following a hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2020. Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, speaks to the media following a hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2020.
Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images "Shame on us that we found ourselves in the position that we were in, especially at the height of the pandemic and the risk that our health care workers had to take and did take," said Eshoo, a Democrat who has often spoken against foreign dependence on commodities, such as PPE and pharmaceuticals, and lack of domestic manufacturing.
"This is a warped picture of America," she said. "We can do so much better."
The White House says it is working on a strategy for a more resilient pandemic supply chain. And recent legislation signed by the president included $10 billion for investments in additional manufacturing capacity, extended contracts for PPE and more.
Armbrust, like other members of the AMMA, said he knew he took a risk.
"I made a stupid decision, because I'm an entrepreneur and I cared about our country and bringing this strategic manufacturing back," he said. "A bunch of people made bad decisions personally to do something that was right at the time, and that to me is the American spirit."
VIDEO - Who Do We Hold Responsible For Infecting 881 Secret Service Employees? | Crooks and Liars
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 13:02
Nearly 900 Secret Service employees tested positive for COVID-19 in one year. So why did the DHS IG reportedly block a proposed inquiry into how the agency handled the threat of COVID-19 to agents protecting high-level officials? https://t.co/QxuwCgADCq
'-- Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) June 23, 2021
I've been working on a story on how the Trump Campaign spread COVID-19 with their rallies. There is evidence of actions Trump knowingly took that endangered his staff and Secret Service employees. Public health laws were broken, people got sick & died. I believe there needs to be an investigation by state Attorneys General and prosecution for violations. But'... as someone pointed out to me on Twitter:
This is an great point and one that I've been thinking about how to solve. Who else can be held responsible for intentionally spreading COVID in addition to Trump?
In the excellent podcasts by Noel Casler, he points out that Trump knows how to avoid responsibility. Casler describes how Trump is ALWAYS one level removed from being held accountable. in Episode 15, 15:40 he talks about how Keith Schiller protected Trump. Then at 19 :03 he explains how Trump hires NYPD guys because they can flash a badge and get anyone out of trouble, it's an unwritten rule of white privilege.
Noel Casler Podcast Episode 15 is out now ð--¥ pic.twitter.com/FD3G3SyweZ
'-- NoelCaslerComedy (@CaslerNoel) June 14, 2021
Keith Schiller, deputy assistant to the president and director of Oval Office operations Image from: NBC News Screen Cap Casler doesn't think Trump will go to prison. Ever. In Episode 16 at 6:00 he talks about how people knew Trump was a sexual predator for decades and he got away with it because he was a wealthy white man and nobody wanted to ruffle feathers. The company might be bankrupted but if no one can bust him for his violent sexual assaults, rape and sex trafficking they aren't going to send him to jail for tax fraud.
His description of Keith Schiller and what he did for Trump reminded me of something Carol Leonnig said on her book tour. Trump took Tony Oranto, the head of his Secret Service detail, and made him Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of his campaign rallies. He has since returned to the Secret Service.
Then it occured to me, Trump used Tony Oranto like he used Keith Schiller.Oranto knows what happened and who ordered it. He can be compelled to testify. He can be held accountable for illegal actions that he did on behalf of Trump, just like Michael Cohen. Trump might end up being unindicted co-conspirator 1 again, but at least someone will be held accountable for the willful spreading of COVD-19.
Who could be responsible for actions that lead to 881 infected Secret Service employees? Investigate Trump's Deputy Chief of Staff, Tony Ornato.Tony Oranto, Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of his campaign rallies Image from: National Geographic Channel U.S. Secret Service: On The Frontline
It might not just be Oranto, Carol Leonnig in her Book Zero Fail talked about how Trump's senior protective detail agents told Secret Service officers and agents to take off their masks at Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey Golf Club.
In Andy Slavitt's new book Preventable, he said Trump knowingly endangered staffer and his Secret Service personnel.Andy Slavitt, Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response "<br />
From my research it appears to me that one or more individuals in the Trump Campaign either intentionally obstructed testing, willfully delayed reporting, or delayed testing. I can make a case for Oranto, but a real investigation is needed.
Oranto would have enormous power over the President's campaign staff and over current Secret Service agents. In addition, cities and counties ALWAYS defer to the Secret Service when it comes to security and who is allowed around the President. In Tulsa they put the Secret Service in charge of coordinating contact tracing. Did they follow the laws of Oklahoma about immediate reporting? The public can't know, but IT IS discoverable by the right agencies.
CREW report Nearly 900 Secret Service employees got COVID Image from: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Good news! Remember when wearing masks indoors WAS required, but the public at Trump's Bedminster golf club didn't? I just learned the Secret Service were told not to wear masks. Will @RepMalinowski @RepJoshG @RepDonaldPayne @DHSgov committee investigate?@johnsb01 @MatthewArco https://t.co/6LLLDxgaIf pic.twitter.com/JbuBS6zUPL
'-- Spocko (@spockosbrain) May 27, 2021
In a July 1, 2020 story Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig wrote about health care workers doing the testing in Tulsa being told not to test some people vs others and delaying test reporting. Who was giving the orders? Did they follow OSDH rules on IMMEDIATE reporting of results? Why were people suspected of being infected NOT tested?
In the aftermath, some Secret Service agents returning from the Tulsa trip were directed not to get tested until Wednesday, days after the rally, an instruction that was given without explanation and which some agents found perplexing, according to two people familiar with the instructions. In wake of Trump's Tulsa rally, his campaign is still contending with the fallout,
July 1, 2020 by Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig
Based on my conversations and emails with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Tulsa's Department of Health and public health experts, this is a violation of Oklahoma's Title 63. Public Health and Safety statutes. Specifically, under §63-6103, The Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act, the word IMMEDIATELY is used as it applies to reporting,
Mike Hunter, Oklahoma Attorney General @Okla_OAGI think this warrants an investigation by Mike Hunter, the Oklahoma Attorney General. Based on Dawsey's & Leonnig's reporting there is evidence of intentional obstruction and delays, so who orders and investigation?
Will a Republican governor in a Red State order an investigation into the Trump campaign for possible violations of public health laws? I've seen how reluctant states are to prosecute people for willfully breaking public health laws. In Florida Gov. DeSantis is PARDONING people before they even go to court!
The good news is that since this involves Secret Service employees, it warrants an investigation at the Federal level. I've identified who can do this Chairman Bennie Thompson on the DHS committee. Plus the @HomelandDems are already looking into the violation of COVID-19 protocols at ICE.
Great news! Chairman @BennieGThompson: Will there also be an investigation into the Secret Service's violations of COVID-19 requirements at Trump's Bedminster Golf Club, located in @RepMalinowski district? Here's @CarolLeonnig reporting violations on 5/24.https://t.co/QzCL8vtyYW https://t.co/5aPt14ceL1 pic.twitter.com/v8fOylC3rm
'-- Spocko (@spockosbrain) May 27, 2021
This is not just a Tulsa issue. The Trump Campaign did this all across the country. They even did it in D.C. when they blocked serious contact tracing from the White House Rose garden event. The Trump people SERIOUSLY didn't want any investigations. Look at how they blocked an inquiry via the DHS inspector General. Image from: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
WHY NO PROSECUTIONS?I've found other law breaking and public health violations at Trump's rally during my research, but so far I haven't found any prosecutions. I've listed a number of the reasons why in my piece here: Honor the #COVID19 dead, then prosecute their killers
Here's the deal, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, @HealthyOklahoma, CAN know the details and Mike Hunter Oklahoma Attorney General can investigate. @Okla_OAG But will they?
The Trump people violate norms and don't tell the truth unless they are under oath. The Trump Campaign's failure to comply with the Oklahoma law and EOs should have led to criminal charges or civil damages, but they didn't.
40 Percent of U.S. COVID Deaths Could Have Been Averted If It Weren't for Trump:
We have definitive proof that people got sick and died because of Trump's rallies. I have links to the studies. But when I bring them up, i'm greeted with all the reasons that it is impossible to hold Trump (or anyone) responsible.
The spreading of COVID was not an unstoppable act of nature like a hurricane. People got infected because of deliberate actions taken by human beings.
Noel Casler points out that Trump's methods of lying, obstructing, delaying and blaming others has worked for him his entire life. It's working for him on this. So what can be done?
Let's say the investigation found out that people acted on their own based on what they thought Trump wanted. Prosecute those who knowly violated public health laws. Maybe it wasn't Tony Ornato giving all the orders, maybe it was Brad Parscale, maybe it was someone in Secret Service management. The point is we HAVE the ability to know who did this. What we need is a plan to act. In June 17 of 2020 Dr. Bruce Dart was talking to the Tulsa City Council. said,
My heart's hurting knowing what's coming 2 weeks from now. It's coming and we are not going to be able to stop it. Dr. Bruce Dart, Executive Director, Tulsa Health Department
Contact Rep. @BennieGThompson Chairman of DHS oversight committee to start an investigation.
VIDEO - Rufio on Twitter: "@The_Real_Fly @adamcurry" / Twitter
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 04:31
Rufio : @The_Real_Fly @adamcurry
Fri Jun 25 03:05:13 +0000 2021
Rutte draait helemaal door: ''Orbn is schaamteloos. We moeten hem op de knien krijgen'' '' De Dagelijkse Standaard
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 14:08
Als je wilt weten hoe totaal doorgedraaid Mark Rutte tegenwoordig is hoef je alleen maar even te lezen wat hij vandaag zei bij aankomst bij de EU-top. Want, zei hij tegen het aanwezige perskorps, ''Orbn is schaamteloos. We moeten hem op de knien krijgen.'' Wat een bizarre uitspraak over een democratisch gekozen leider van een democratisch EU-land.
Dit soort uitspraken zijn echt ongekend en overduidelijk bewijs dat de macht Mark Rutte naar het hoofd is gestegen. In het verleden hoorden we dit soort dingen over genocideplegende dictators in het Midden-Oosten. Maar nu worden ze gewoon gezegd over democratisch gekozen leiders van democratische EU-landen. En waarom? Omdat ze in de ogen van Mark ''Woke, Woker Wokest'' Rutte niet Woke genoeg zijn.
De impertinentie hiervan, de schaamteloosheid, is echt ongelooflijk. Je kunt een leider van een mede-EU-land (C)cht niet zo behandelen. Dit is wanstaltig.
Maar Rutte doet het toch. Want Rutte erkent geen grenzen aan de macht meer; niet voor zichzelf in eigen land, en dus ook niet internationaal, voor zichzelf (C)n voor de EU.
Forum voor Democratie heeft terecht woedend gereageerd op deze Hongarijehaat van Rutte. ''De man van de toeslagenaffaire, de Ruttedoctrine, de strafrechtelijke vervolging van 'n oppositie-Kamerlid en de volledige uitholling van de Nederlandse democratie heeft Viktor Orbn niets te zeggen over schaamteloosheid. Een toontje lager en wat meer respect graag,'' stelt de partij in een tweet.
De man van de toeslagenaffaire, de Ruttedoctrine, de strafrechtelijke vervolging van 'n oppositie-Kamerlid en de volledige uitholling van de Nederlandse democratie heeft Viktor Orbn niets te zeggen over schaamteloosheid. Een toontje lager en wat meer respect, graag. #Rutte #FVD https://t.co/I2QL9CHkHC
'-- Forum voor Democratie (@fvdemocratie) June 24, 2021
Ook Geert Wilders is witheet. ''Ik hoop dat ze Nederland uit de EU zetten,'' aldus de PVV-leider. ''En ik hoop dat wij Rutte Nederland uitzetten.''
Een oproep van de redactie: door de coronacrisis heeft DDS het, net als veel andere websites, ontzettend lastig. Wij willen alles gratis leesbaar houden voor iedereen, waardoor we voor onze inkomsten afhankelijk zijn van reclame. Maar bedrijven hebben financile zorgen, en hebben dus niet veel te makken. Daar merken wij de gevolgen ook van. Vandaar onze omroep aan u, onze lezers: steun ons alsjeblieft! Via het betrouwbare Nederlandse BackMe-systeem kunt u maandelijks "f eenmalig doneren. Doe dat alstublieft, en help DDS in de lucht te blijven!
Dit is echt bizar en onacceptabel dat een Nederlandse premier een democratisch gekozen leider van een ander Europees land zo wanstaltig behandelt. Maar Rutte denkt dat het volk"men normaal is. Ongekend.
EU leaders blast Viktor Orbn over anti-LGBT bill during tense and at times emotional summit | Euronews
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 14:04
In a very tense, and at times emotional, European summit, EU leaders joined forces against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbn over his government's new anti-LGBT law, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte going as far as suggesting Hungary should leave the bloc if it doesn't agree with the EU's core values.
Last week, the Hungarian parliament passed a new law that bans the portrayal of homosexuality and sex reassignment in school education material and TV programmes addressed to people under 18 years of age.
The Hungarian government argues the law primarily targets paedophilia, but the conflation between the LGBT community and paedophiles has been harshly denounced by human rights experts and civil society for perpetuating damaging stereotypes.
Controversy has been raging for the past few days across Europe, even spilling over into the Euro 2020. In Brussels, the European Commission has already taken the first step towards legal action in order to prevent the legislation from entering into force.
The issue was forcefully put on the EU summit's agenda after a group of 17 EU leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, signed a joint letter in defense of the LGBT+ community. The text was deliberately published mere hours before the meeting in order to influence the conversation.
It was the first time that LGBT+ rights took centre stage in the European Council.
The issue led to an "in-depth and at times even emotional debate", according to an EU official. Leaders came together to raise concerns and objections to the Hungarian law and had a chance to listen to Viktor Orbn's explanations, which didn't suffice to satisfy them.
Only Poland showed support for Orbn, while Slovakia chose not to speak up, Euronews understands. The other EU leaders took the floor, leaving the Hungarian premier isolated and corralled.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte, a long-time critic of Viktor Orbn, struck a defiant note in line with the comments he made right before the summit, when he suggested that if Hungary goes ahead with the law "then as far as I am concerned, then there is nothing left for them in the EU".
"The goal is to force Hungary to its knees regarding this issue. They have to understand that they are either part of the European Union and the community of shared values we are," Rutte said, noting that if the European Union forgets about fundamental rights, it will be nothing but a trading bloc with a common currency.
Luxembourg's PM Xavier Bettel, the only openly gay EU leader, called on his colleagues to fight intolerance with intolerance.
"You have to know we have a lot of young people who commit suicide because they don't accept themselves how they are and so, to be nationally blamed, to be considered not normal; to be considered a danger for young people, it's not realising that being gay is not a choice, but being intolerant is a choice and I will stay intolerant to intolerance and this will be my fight today," Bettel said.
European Council President Charles Michel said the conversation was "difficult" but "necessary" and "crucial". European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it "intense and very frank" as well as "factual and very personal".
"Yesterday, most of us were clear that the new Hungarian law goes against our values," she said on Friday. "We will protect all our citizens, wherever they live in the union and whomever they love."
"It's not acceptable that those who don't accept EU values are part of the European Union," said Portuguese PM Ant"nio Costa. Portugal currently holds the EU's rotating six-month presidency.
"No one is a member of the EU because it's forced to. We all said we wanted to join," Costa added in reference to Viktor Orbn's past comments comparing the EU with the Soviet Union.
The fraught atmosphere reflects the growing exasperation and outrage that has been building up in recent years against Viktor Orbn, who is a self-declared champion of "illiberal democracy".
The new anti-LGBT law appears to have touched a nerve, especially among Western countries, who feel more comfortable blasting the Hungarian leader after his party Fidesz quit the European People's Party (EPP) earlier this year due to disagreements around the rule of law.
Angela Merkel, the most powerful figure in the European Council, and her CDU party belong to the EPP and had been previously accused of protecting Orbn while Hungarian democracy deteriorated. However, the exit from the EPP group has left Orbn more exposed to criticism and retaliation, as Thursday's meeting demonstrated.
Leaders have no intention of toning down the fight and are determined to continue pressing until Orbn reverses course and withdraws the law, Euronews understands.
All eyes are now on the European Commission which, as guardian of the treaties, has the power to take action when EU law and EU values are threatened. Besides opening a formal infringement procedure - which is all but guaranteed if the controversial law enters into force - the executive could activate a brand new conditionality mechanism that links EU funds with respect for the rule of law.
The system was established last year after leaders agreed on a landmark '¬750-billion recovery fund, which, combined with the bloc's annual budget, will comprise almost '¬2 trillion over the next years.
A majority of EU governments and Members of the European Parliament want to ensure that the countries that benefit from this boost in EU funds comply with EU law.
Using the mechanism, the Commission can recommend cutting or freezing EU payments to a member state suspected of breaching EU law. After that, the Council will have one month to vote on the Commission's recommendations, which could be approved by qualified majority.
Merkel-Macron's proposal rejectedThe other big development of the evening was an outright rejection to the proposal by the French and German governments to restart summit meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The short-lived idea, unveiled by President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hours before the summit, failed to gather enough support, despite the momentum gained after US President Joe Biden's highly publicised meeting with President Putin in Geneva.
"It is not enough that the American president speaks to the Russian president. The European Union must also create different formats of discussion [with Moscow]," Angela Merkel said Thursday.
"Conflicts can be better resolved, as we have seen with the US President, when people talk to each other," she later added on arrival in Brussels.
But the Baltic States, Poland and other Russia-sceptic member states were vehemently opposed to resuming dialogue with the Russian leader and didn't appreciate the abrupt proposal made by Paris and Berlin. They argued the time was not right for rapprochement because Moscow is stepping up aggressive actions against EU countries.
At the end of the day, their opposition proved impossible to overcome and both Markel and Macron had to give up, offering a rare rebuke to the German-French alliance. According to one senior EU diplomat, Belgium and Denmark said the project had arrived too late.
"Yesterday, the European Council rejected the proposal to reset relations with Russia and the idea of the meeting at the highest level without withdrawal from the aggressive policy towards the EU and its neighbours," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday morning.
President Macron had previously said that dialogue was necessary for the "stability of the European continent", noting that they would not give up any of their "values" or "interests" in the process.
The reversal in approach by France and Germany had been received well by the Kremlin, with Putin's spokesperson describing it as "positive".
The only possibility left after the summit is a potential meeting between President Putin and the presidents of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the European Council, Charles Michel, similar to how both met with President Joe Biden during his visit to Brussels.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday that such meeting between would not "bother" him, but he added that he himself, as a member of the European Council, would not be participating in any meeting with the longtime Russian premier.
KriÅjÄnis KariÅÅ, Prime Minister of Latvia, told reporters in Brussels that for any such meeting to happen, Moscow must first demonstrate some good faith.
"The concern that as I have as Prime Minister of Latvia, is that if we want to open up dialogue as European leaders with Russia, we need certain steps also coming from the Russian direction."
Just last week, Poland was hit by a large-scale cyber-attack, which it says originated in Russia, adding to Warsaw's long list of reasons not to begin cooperating with Moscow again.
Referring to this attack, Morawiecki said that the type of dialogue proposed by France and Germany would only be possible if Russia stopped its "aggressive politics".
"Starting any direct dialogue at the highest political level is only possible in a situation where there's an actual de-escalation and actual withdrawal from the aggressive politics," Morawiecki said. "It's an unequivocal situation for us. When we see hybrid attacks on our neighbours, on us, in the context of the last cyber-attack...it is difficult to start a dialogue at the highest level."
Paris and Berlin say cooperation is possible with Moscow, identifying climate change, energy, health, the fight against terrorism and organised crime, as areas where the EU and Russia can work together.
Mark Lane '' Audio Books, Best Sellers, Author Bio | Audible.com
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 13:55
BiographyMark LaneTV and Radio Broadcaster, Author, Charities' Ambassador. Extremely creative, productive and with a unique perspective on life, landscape design, gardening, art history, architecture, lifestyle, health, wellbeing and disability, Mark Lane has led a remarkable life. He has gained recognition as a first-class landscape designer, being the UK's first garden designer in a wheelchair, as well as the first BBC gardening presenter in a wheelchair.Mark Lane, TV broadcaster of the award winning BBC Gardeners' World, is also a presenter for BBC Gardeners' World Live and the Royal Horticultural Society's Flower Shows '' Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace, Chatsworth, Tatton. BBC Gardeners' World is one of the handful of factual TV programmes with a long pedigree of 50 years, viewed by a staggering 3 million people on a weekly basis, in the UK alone. Mark: ''I'm here in a wheelchair and I can do these things. First and foremost I am a presenter, who just happens to be in a chair, but if I can be an inspiration to other people, then all the better for it.''Mark graduated from University College London in Art History with B.A. (Hons). He went on to become the Publishing Director for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Managing Editor for the leading international Arts publisher Thames & Hudson.In 2001 Mark was in a car accident and had to have operations on his spine, which were complicated by him being born with spina bifida. Following a long rehabilitation period Mark studied garden design through an Open Learning course and has gone on to become the first recognised UK garden designer in a wheelchair.WRITINGA prolific writer, Mark has been in BBC Gardeners' World magazine, the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) journal The Garden, Which? Gardening, Landscape & Urban Design magazine, The Guardian newspaper, the Daily Mail newspaper, Daily Express newspaper, Sunday Express newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, the Wealden Times magazine, Pro Landscaper, Kent Life and Surrey Homes, Life magazines, Conservation News, Waitrose Weekend, Enable Active magazine, RNOH magazine, Irish Examiner, Somerset County Gazette, Garden News, Darlington and Stockton Times, Irish News, Canterbury INDEX magazine, House Beautiful, House & Garden, and the Press Association.Mark also has a regular gardening column in Platinum magazine and Waitrose Weekend. Please contact Mark on 01227 722 172 /email@example.com
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Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:37
Acceptance Street:A sign of acceptance at a landmark intersection. Christopher and Gay is more than just an intersection. It's always been the ''Main Street'' of LGBTQIA+ New York. As the site of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, Christopher Street is seen as the birthplace of the gay rights movement and has hosted countless parades, protests and celebrations in support of the gay rights movement. And two years ago, we partnered with the NYC Human Rights Commission to celebrate the evolution of the movement with an evolution of the intersection: Acceptance Street.
The National Guard Just Simulated A Cyberattack That Brought Down Utilities Nationwide
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:15
National Guardsmen just completed a two-week training exercise which saw them respond to a simulated cyberattack that took out critical utilities across the United States. The exercises have become an annual event, but this year took on even more significance after coming on the heels of several major ransomware and cyber attacks that crippled large parts of American infrastructure in recent months.
The exercises were part of the seventh Cyber Yankee, an training event that brings together guardsmen from throughout the New England region to test their responses against simulated cyberattacks. This year's exercises simulated a cyber attack that targeted utilities on the West Coast before spreading east across the United States towards New England. In addition to offering hands-on training on how to respond to active cyberattacks, the exercise was also intended to build cyber defense collaboration between the National Guard and private sector partners, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and U.S. Cyber Command, among others.
Marine Forces Reserve/LCpl Mitchell Collyer
Marine Forces Reserve and Army National Guard personnel taking part in Cyber Yankee 2021.
''We do it in an exercise environment so that when it does happen, we've already got those relationships established not just from a National Guard but from all of our critical infrastructure, our federal, local, state partners,'' said Maj. Ryan Miler, state cyber operations officer for the Connecticut Army National Guard. ''We've established those lines of communication and then it's that much easier to get together and respond.''
This year's Cyber Yankee saw the annual exercise's first use of the new Cyber 9-Line system developed by U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). Cyber 9-Line offers National Guard cyber units a template of questions that allow them to quickly communicate the specifics of a suspected cyberattack up the chain of command to USCYBERCOM. Once CYBERCOM has that information from Cyber 9-Line, it can then more quickly and efficiently diagnose that attack and offer information back to the reporting unit, who can then share that intel among affected local governments and industry partners. ''The Cyber 9-Line is still in its infancy, but after standing up this program a few months ago, we have already [seen an impact],'' said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Pacini, CNMF Future Operations Deputy Chief in a USCYBERCOM press release last year. ''Ultimately, the goal is to provide mutual support to each other.'' The Cyber 9-Line questionnaire is similar to other nine-line formats used by U.S. armed forces for requests such as medical evacuation or close air support.
A USCYBERCOM slide detailing the questions the Cyber 9-Line tool poses.
Lt. Col. Cameron Sprague, Chief Information Officer for the Connecticut Air National Guard and deputy exercise director for this year's Cyber Yankee, said that the simulated cyberattacks were designed to be as realistic and complex as possible in order to prepare for the types of incidents becoming more and more common across the country:
It's really hard to do an exercise like this effectively. Many cyber exercises involve activities that resemble a game of capture the flag, which are too easy and aren't necessarily applicable to real-world crises. Operating effectively in incident response environment is really hard. That's what a lot of teams first take away when they're walking through this is how we're actually going to do an incident response plan. That's the big point of this.
Exercise leaders said that the teams conducting mock attacks offered the National Guard an opportunity to have a better idea what to expect in the event of actual cyber attacks and ransomware operations. If you know how your enemies conduct attacks, you can be better prepared to defend against them.
Last year's Cyber Yankee exercises saw over 200 guardsmen come together to combat various cyber threats. The guardsmen were divided into four Blue Teams tasked with responding to simulated cyberattacks, a Red Cell which conducted those attacks, and a White Cell which ''regulated and assessed event operations.''
U.S. Army Col. Woody Groton, who directed last year's Cyber Yankee, said in 2020 that the exercise is designed to pit guardsmen against the same types of cyber threats currently faced by U.S.-based companies and infrastructure:
Cybersecurity, especially in critical infrastructure and state government, is a huge issue right now. You can see it in the news every day. Ransomware attacks are on the rise; loss of data, loss of intellectual property. It's hard to keep up with the adversary. We've also, in the last several years, seen significant uptick in cyberattacks and attempted cyberattacks against the electrical industry and water. By training on this ahead of time, we're better prepared in case of an actual incident.
Marine Forces Reserve/LCpl Mitchell Collyer
Marines address visitors during Cyber Yankee 2021.
Cyber attacks on civilian infrastructure have taken precedence as a national security concern in recent years as they have become more common and crippling. A ransomware attack shut down the United States' largest fuel pipeline in May 2021, leading to fuel shortages on some parts of the East Coast. Officials for Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline eventually paid close to $5 million in ransom to end the cyberattack, of which the FBI was later able to recover some 85% in the form of cryptocurrency.
A similar ransomware cyberattack followed on the heels of the Colonial Pipeline attack in June 2021, this time against the world's largest meat processing company. It's not just large private sector entities who are under attack, however, as ransomware attacks against local governments and institutions are increasing at an alarming rate across the US. In one example, a National Guard unit in Louisiana thwarted a cyberattack on government offices in 2020 that was suspected to have originated from North Korea and possibly have been related to elections in that state.
While many of these attacks have been reported to have perpetrated by criminal organizations rather than state actors, many fingers have been pointed in the direction of the Russian government. Some attacks have even been presumed to have originated directly from Russian intelligence services, such as the 2020 cyberattack on the information technology management company SolarWinds which led to breaches of servers owned by U.S. government entities and private companies alike. Russia denied any involvement in that attack.
''I can assure you that we are raising this through the highest levels of the U.S. government,'' White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in the wake of the meat processing ransomware attack in June. ''The president certainly believes that President Putin has a role to play in stopping and preventing these attacks.''
Biden and Putin meeting in Geneva in June 2021
Cyberattacks and ransomware plots took center stage at the recent summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. Biden reportedly gave Putin a list of 16 critical American infrastructure sectors that White House wants Russia to accept as ''off limits'' from cyberattacks, including energy and water utilities. Putin, meanwhile, said Russia had nothing to do with the Colonial Pipeline attack and instead claimed the United States is responsible for most of the world's cyberattacks.
The White House recently announced that it would elevate ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorist attacks and would create a new task force to allow various government agencies at multiple levels to coordinate information sharing and responses to cyberattacks. "It's a specialized process to ensure we track all ransomware cases regardless of where it may be referred in this country, so you can make the connections between actors and work your way up to disrupt the whole chain," said John Carlin, principle associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. The Biden administration signed an Executive Order in May 2021 aimed at strengthening and modernizing cybersecurity defenses throughout the federal government including the intelligence community and Department of Defense.
As recent events have shown, cyber attacks don't have to disable missile defense systems or satellites to inflict damage and cause major disruptions. Cyberattacks on private companies like Colonial Pipeline can do just as much harm by interrupting fuel supply operations, while a ransomware attack on a commercial electrical utility companies could no doubt cause massive damage as the basic sustainment and public safety systems the nation depends upon daily go dark. We can likely expect exercises like Cyber Yankee to ramp up and become more complex as the cyber threat continues to proliferate and the U.S. government finds more ways to mitigate and defend against it.
Contact the author: Brett@TheDrive.com'
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US-China tech war: AI, semiconductors get quasi-military commanders as 'supply chain chiefs' to boost self-sufficiency | South China Morning Post
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:10
Tech / Tech War Local governments in China have taken to appointing 'supply chain chiefs' to oversee hi-tech industries such as artificial intelligence and semiconductorsThe effort has not been officially endorsed by Beijing, but President Xi Jinping's adviser Liu He was recently put in charge of national chip developmentTopic |
US-China tech war E3B1C256-BFCB-4CEF-88A6-1DCCD7666635
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Published: 6:00pm, 26 Jun, 2021
Updated: 6:01pm, 26 Jun, 2021
Why you can trust SCMP
First the Great Reset, and Now Happytalism - Tessa Fights Robots
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 12:07
Here is the analytical article I've been promising forever (with huge thanks to Mary Otto-Chang who pointed me in this direction and who has been researching this topic for a while.)
Before I go into the article'.... I can really use some kindness and unfortunately, I need to do another fundraiser. Anyone who is already donating to me, thank you from the bottom of my heart! If you can donate something, or monthly, you will make my day big time.
A screenshot of illienglobal.com/, linked in the imageThis story is about happytalism. Due to the vast amount of information, this is part one of the series.
''Happytalism'' is a very tricky word that hasn't gotten much attention yet'--but we may start hearing about it shortly.
It's a branding term that sweetly refers to the same transhumanist framework of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Great Reset (where real estate ownership is concentrated, where living beings are reduced to ''digital twins'' managed through the blockchain, and where we ''own nothing'' and eat bugs).
''Happytalism'' is a piece of marketing language that lives together with ''green and sustainable development,'' ''racial equity,'' ''inclusivity, ''climate justice,'' ''building back better,'' and so on.
Speaking of bugs, I can't resist.
For context, please keep in mind that in 2019, the United Nations signed a broad and unpublicized agreement with the World Economic Forum on strategic cooperation on a number of issues, and 4IR is listed as one of the areas of said cooperation. On a tangent, I would also like to point out a detail that is easy to miss. Where the agreement talks about health, it mentions cooperation on antimicrobial resistance. It so happens that according to the World Economic Forum, they expect antimicrobial resistance to become a major threat that will greatly exceed the dangers of the coronavirus. It is also notable that the entire western health response to the coronavirus has strongly pushed for measures that reduce natural immunity, discourage the use of vitamins, and promote overuse of sanitizers, which is thought to lead to antimicrobial resistance (you can check the thread below).
Before we get to happytalism proper, please take a look at this mind-boggling United Nation article and video. For starters, here's this bit where indigenous children sing about, I am sorry, the ''new world order.'' This song is also a part of the official United Nations video below. (The comments on the video are disabled.)
[While you are at it, please check out the sweet, sincere message by the well-known altruist and environmentalist, Prince Charles, who does not at all own any framework for a new economic system (at around 2:24). And if you have the heart for it, check out the WTF skit on potty training for the unwashed heathen (at 39:41).]
Notably, the story and the video were originally posted on the subdomain of the United Nations website that has to do with the SDGs (''sustainable development goals''), a program that is ears-deep in the World Economic Forum's agenda toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Great Reset).
Okay, so the children sang a strange song about the coronavirus and the ''new world order,'' the latter known of course to be a funny phrase, whispered by crazy people as they go about ''the elites'' and adjust the tinfoil hats on their heads. I personally don't use this phrase because you can't get very far with it, even though... oh never mind. But my good manners do not change the fact that the phrase was coined and popularized not by crazy tinfoil hat wearers but by some of the most influential people of the western world (the proverbial ''elites''), such as, for example, Henry Kissinger, and that's just in the recent era.
A bit of a philosophical thought process: Are there elites? Are we all on the same level when it comes to being able to control national and global cashflows, wars, the media and the politicians? How insane is it to presume that those in power might have selfish ideas about the world, and what it should be, and where it should go? Is it insane to posit that in their heads, they might not relate to the rest of us as much as we would like, and might possess less respect for our opinions and interests than we may hope? Is it insane to speculate that powerful people might be talking to each other privately to promote their shared interests (while also competing with each other on their level)? Has it never happened? Never-ever? Not even an oil war? Not even a crusade or a secret treaty? Not even an American corporation profiting from the Nazi concentration camps? Not even an alphabet agency protecting Nazi researchers and secretly shipping them to the U.S. to continue unethical experiments? Not even a drug manufacturer doing experiments on disadvantaged children in New York?
Is it insane to think that the special interests of today's, um, elites, seemingly include converging biological life and digital artifacts (and I don't care if this is their own insane idea or an insane idea suggested by their highly paid advisors'--but the notion of it is officially official and featured on government websites in Canada and in the UK'--while still undeniably insane.) And is it crazy to think think that someone out there seems very interested in establishing a, hopefully, all-planetary system of control and management of every living thing and every mineral on Earth, a system controlled by a few hundred or thousand particularly ambitious and wealthy individuals, and managed by AI? Aren't they themselves promoting this idea through the media and NGOs? Here is also very lavishly funded'--and allegedly very miserable in real life'--Ray Kurzweil'--and his crazy singularity.
And what structures are there in place to ensure that modern western citizens are immune from being eventually'--or soon'--treated by the super wealthy the way the indigenous were treated by various European missionaries and their royal masters? What if digital colonialism is really a thing in the heads of the ''elites,'' just like traditional colonialism was a thing that drove the rulers of the past? On a side note, please google the 1974 Kissinger report that, among other things, brags about incentivizing Indian men to get a vasectomy). That's that about tinfoil hats. Life is complex and multi-faceted but people do conspire, and they do it all the time, so the notion that they could be conspiring today is not that crazy. Also, please see the SoftBank founder talking about his 300-year plan.
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Speaking of ''long-range plans made in secret,'' here is a wonderful article by Steven Newcomb, titled, ''On Conspiracy.'' (I owe the ''long-range plans made in secret'' phrase to him as well.) Steven looks at it from an indigenous perspective. It turns out that back in the day, Thomas Jefferson wrote, ''Our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us as citizens of the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi. The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves.''
A screenshot from happytalism.world, linked in the imageA screenshot from happytalism.world, linked in the image Share
And now, please meet actual ''happytalism,'' Jayme Illien, and Happiness for All,'' an initiative that claims the participation of the United Nations and aims to install literally a ''New World Order'' based on ''happiness.'' Before I say anything else, I want to first say that Jayme Illien seems like a very opportunistic man with deep ties to the alphabets and a possible a broken childhood, and that his direct association with the UN in the context of that specific project is officially disputed. The United Nations has officially denied their relationship to his project, while at the same time promoting similar initiatives. That said, opportunistic folks play a significant role in human history, and he seems to be hustling really hard while having powerful connections.Here is an archived version of the now deleted Wikipedia article about him.
Here is an archived version of a Business Insider story about Illien that has since been deleted. It gives a lot of insight into his line of work. It talks about him being a United Nations representative for Economists for Peace and Security, and also about this:
[''In 2011, Illien Global Public Benefit Corporation launched a multi-year campaign to move happiness to the top of the international policy agenda forever. In 2012, Illien Global approached the United Nations about creating the new global day, the International Day of Happiness, now celebrated worldwide every March 20. With the support and leadership of ambassadors from all over the world '' including the Kingdom of Bhutan, which measures Gross National Happiness instead of GDP '' Illien Global was able to gain the endorsement of the President of the General Assembly and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to bring a new UN resolution to the General Assembly that would create the new global day, the International Day of Happiness.'' (source)]
When it comes to Jayme Illien, he has A LOT of websites, some are well-developed and presentable, some are completely raw and full of placeholder images and text, and some keep interestingly changing over time. In fact, in one of his interviews, Jayme Illien has changed his name as well. His Facebook has not been updated since 2018.If you look at illienglobal.com, it's all digital ecosystems, smart cities, and blockchain, all the favorite things of the 4IR dreamers, wrapped in ''green and sustainable'' language for the busy and the gullible.
In his own words, ''For 35 years, Illien Global' has been dedicated to working with governments, intergovernmental organizations, global financial institutions, the technology sector, global leaders, academia, civil society, and the broader private sector to advance the human condition, invest in the future, and promote Happiness for All'.'' (source).
Also in own words, ''In 2011, Illien Global launched the Happiness for All' Initiative at the United Nations, leading Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon to call for a new economic paradigm based on 'Gross Global Happiness.'''
(Gross Global Happiness is its own thing. It looks like in part, the people promoting it really believe that they are doing something good; however, it was also true of various missionaries of the past who created suffering in the name of their ideology.)
Here is more on the International Day of Happiness:
Illien's ''United Nations New World Order'' website has been scrubbed.
But the archived version says, ''The United Nations New World Order Project is a global, high-level initiative founded in 2008 to advance a new economic paradigm, a new political order, and more broadly, a new world order for humankind, which achieves the UN's Global Goals for Sustainable Development by 2030, and the happiness, well-being, and freedom of all life on Earth by 2050.''
The United Nations has denied their affiliation with this website. The webpage where they said it seems to be gone, but here is the archived version.
''And just to note that over the weekend, I've been receiving a lot of questions from different journalists about a website for a something called the United Nations New World Order project. I just want to state and say this very clearly that this project and website is in no way sanctioned by the United Nations.'' (from the May 27, 2020 daily briefing by St(C)phane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General).
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And then, there is Luis Gallard who also claims to be a founder of Happytalism.
Gallard's web presence is far more polished than Illien's. In his own words, he is the Founder & President of the World Happiness Foundation and World Happiness Fest (the original link is not available), the author of ''Happytalism and The Exponentials of Happiness,'' and the Director of the Gross Global Happiness program at the United Nations University for Peace. He is also associated with the World Happiness Academy. All the projects are very fuzzy and look like there is good money behind them.Here is a video of both of them talking about Happytalism. To make it more interesting, in this online meeting, Jayme Illien goes by ''Jayme Lilienthal.''
And finally, remember the notorious World Economic Forum's proposition that went, ''You'll own nothing, and you'll be happy''?Well, well, well'... here is another guy who wrote a book called, ''Happytalism,'' and guess what, buried among various sweet words, there's de-prioritizing income as a value, which seems to me like a very nice and elusive way to say that after all, ''you'll own nothing and you'll be happy.'' Add to that the trend toward very lucrative impact investment programs for ''mental health,'' and also money arbitrarily generated by the government (because they can) and then given to private entities to ''solve problems,'' and we have a robust feudal economy where the majority own nothing and play the role of unhappy bodies need to be made happy through government-funded impact investment programs, implemented by private companies. Nice, right? (By the way, here's from Happytalism.world in 2018, ''Taking on Mental Illness Is Fiscally Sound and Morally Necessary''). And yes, the author of the book could be a mere opportunist who chose to write a trendy book, much like the opportunists in the Soviet Union pontificated ad nauseam about non-existent communist ideals. But'... I don't know'... am I being silly not trusting these people with my happiness?
There's lots more to say about the act of hijacking ''good'' language to sell whatever one wants to sell, but the article is getting too long. So I would like to end this story with the interview with Mary Otto-Chang, in case you missed it earlier. She is wonderful.
Links and references
Reactions from NC State's no-contest ruling in CWS due to COVID-19
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 11:47
Much of the Wolfpack was asleep on the East Coast when NC State baseball's season came to a bitter end at 1:10 a.m CT, following an already disheartening day in Omaha.
The NCAA announced early Saturday morning the 1 p.m. College World Series game between Vanderbilt and NC State would be ruled a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols.
"The NCAA and the committee regret that NC State's student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to continue in the championship in which they earned the right to participate," the NCAA said in a statement.
NC State athletics director Boo Corrigan released a statement Saturday morning and said the last 24 hours have been "extremely difficult" for everyone involved.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes and staff will always be our unwavering priority. The timing of this is simply devastating for everyone involved, but it doesn't diminish their incredible accomplishments this season," Corrigan said.
Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho shared his distaste with the decision to announce a decision at the time the NCAA did.
"The #NCAA declaring NC State unable to play thus advancing Vanderbilt to the #CWS finals, is trash. Doing so at 2:15am on the east coast is low even for the NCAA," he tweeted.
COVID delay:How Vanderbilt baseball maintained focus through NC State's COVID delay
The announcement comes after Vanderbilt defeated shorthanded NC State 3-1, who played Friday with nine position players and four pitchers '-- all the Wolfpack had available.
"This team was one win away from its first-ever trip to the Finals," D1Baseball co-editor Aaron Fitt tweeted. "To have it end with a ''no contest'' is just excruciating."
The cancellation of NC State's baseball season brings sour memories of past NCAA Championship runs cut short due to COVID-19 in the past year '-- VCU men's basketball and Notre Dame hockey to name a few.
According to D1Baseball.com, two NC State players, who were not vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Per COVID-19 protocol, the entire roster was tested and four came back positive. These four positive tests were from vaccinated individuals present in the dugout Friday.
Following Friday night's game, NC State baseball coach Elliott Avent said it wasn't his place to tell his players to get vaccinated.
''My job is to teach them baseball, make sure they get an education and keep them on the right track forward,'' Avent said. ''But I don't try to indoctrinate my kids with my values or my opinions. Obviously, we talk about a lot of things, but these are young men that can make their own decisions. And that's what they did.''
Highlights:Vanderbilt vs. NC State baseball video highlights, score Friday at College World Series
After the NCAA dropped its decision early Saturday morning, Mississippi State's Tanner Allen tweeted his sympathy for the Wolfpack, shortly after the Bulldogs fell 8-5 to Texas on Friday.
"I can't even imagine what they are going through right now. Worked their whole lives for a chance at a National Championship and in a blink of an eye it's gone," Allen tweeted. "Has to be the most helpless feeling in the world!"
CBS Sports analyst Danny Kanell mirrored Allen's sentiment.
"Players who had one season canceled already- now a magical run canceled. Ripped out of their grasp by something out of their control. Gutted," he said.
Further more, WBIR-TV reporter David Schiele thought of how the Wolfpack would feel when they woke up.
"The news they're going to wake up to...smh. Wow," he said.
The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach called the situation embarrassing on the NCAA's part.
"The NCAA owes everybody involved in this embarrassing and disappointing ordeal much more of an explanation than this," she said.
She added, "The same thing happened with VCU at March Madness. The NCAA was silent about what happened and what triggered the no-contest. It is their policy and they are the ones working with local health departments. Explain it. It's not a HIPAA violation to explain what happened."
WFLA political reporter Evan Donovan said NC State's outcome in the College World Series was "tragically avoidable."
Kanell later tweeted at the NCAA, criticizing its game day protocol.
"You won't let NC State players continue to play but you'll allow 23,000 untested, unvaccinated, and potential unmasked fans attend??? What about player safety? Oh wait'...that's not truly what your protocols are about are they?" he said.
With NC State ruled out of the College World Series, Vanderbilt advanced to the final and will play either Texas or Mississippi State following Saturday's winner-take-all game.
Daniella Medina is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.
Why biologists like Carl Bergstrom are warning that social media is a risk to humanity - Vox
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 11:44
Social media has drastically restructured the way we communicate in an incredibly short period of time. We can discover, ''Like,'' click on, and share information faster than ever before, guided by algorithms most of us don't quite understand.
And while some social scientists, journalists, and activists have been raising concerns about how this is affecting our democracy, mental health, and relationships, we haven't seen biologists and ecologists weighing in as much.
That's changed with a new paper published in the prestigious science journal PNAS earlier this month, titled ''Stewardship of global collective behavior.''
Seventeen researchers who specialize in widely different fields, from climate science to philosophy, make the case that academics should treat the study of technology's large-scale impact on society as a ''crisis discipline.'' A crisis discipline is a field in which scientists across different fields work quickly to address an urgent societal problem '-- like how conservation biology tries to protect endangered species or climate science research aims to stop global warming.
The paper argues that our lack of understanding about the collective behavioral effects of new technology is a danger to democracy and scientific progress. For example, the paper says that tech companies have ''fumbled their way through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, unable to stem the 'infodemic' of misinformation'' that has hindered widespread acceptance of masks and vaccines. The authors warn that if left misunderstood and unchecked, we could see unintended consequences of new technology contributing to phenomena such as ''election tampering, disease, violent extremism, famine, racism, and war.''
It's a grave warning and call to action by an unusually diverse swath of scholars across disciplines '-- and their collaboration indicates how concerned they are.
Recode spoke with the lead author of the paper, Joe Bak-Coleman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public'¨, as well as co-author Carl Bergstrom, a biology professor at the University of Washington, to better understand this call for a paradigm shift in how scientists study the technology we use every day.
The two interviews have been combined and lightly edited for length and clarity.
Shirin GhaffaryYou tweeted that this paper is one of the most important ones you've published yet. Why?
Carl BergstromMy original background is in infectious disease epidemiology, respiratory viruses. And so I was able to do some stuff that's reasonably important during Covid. What I'm doing there is really filling in the details in a well-established framework. So it's more, you know, dotting the i's and crossing the t's.
And I think what's really important about this paper is that it's not doing that at all. It's saying, ''Here's a massive problem, and the way to conceptualize it, that is critically important for the future. ''
And, you know, it's suggesting an alarm going off upstairs. It's a call to arms. It's saying, ''Hey, we've got to solve this problem, and we don't have a lot of time.''
Shirin GhaffaryAnd what is that problem? What are you sounding the alarm bell on?
Carl BergstromMy sense is that social media in particular '-- as well as a broader range of internet technologies, including algorithmically driven search and click-based advertising '-- have changed the way that people get information and form opinions about the world.
''There's no reason why good information will rise to the top of any ecosystem we've designed'' '--Carl Bergstrom
And they seem to have done so in a manner that makes people particularly vulnerable to the spread of misinformation and disinformation.
Just as one example: A paper '-- a poorly done research paper '-- can come out suggesting that hydroxychloroquine might be a treatment for Covid. And in a matter of days, you have world leaders promoting it, and people struggling to get [this medicine], and it being no longer available to people who need it for treatment of other conditions. Which is actually a serious health problem.
So you can have these bits of misinformation that explode at unprecedented velocity in ways that they wouldn't have prior to this information ecosystem.
[Now], you can create large communities of people that hold constellations of beliefs that are not grounded in reality, such as [the conspiracy theory] QAnon. You can have ideas like anti-vaccination ideas spread in new ways. You can create polarization in new ways.
And [you can] create an information environment where misinformation seems to spread organically. And also [these communities can] be extremely vulnerable to targeted disinformation. We don't even know the scope of that yet.
Joe Bak-ColemanThe question we were trying to answer was, ''What can we infer about the course of society at scale, given what we know about complex systems?''
It's kind of how we use mice models or flies to understand neuroscience. Part of this came back to animal societies '-- namely groups '-- to understand what they tell us about collective behavior in general, but also complex systems more broadly.
So our goal is to take that perspective and then look at human society with that. And one of the things about complex systems is they have a finite limit to perturbation. If you disturb them too much, they change. And they often tend to fail catastrophically, unexpectedly, without warning.
We see this in financial markets '-- all of a sudden, they crash out of nowhere.
Carl BergstromMy hope is very much that this [paper] will sort of galvanize people. The issues that are in this paper are ones that people have been thinking about from many, many different fields. It's not like these are new issues entirely.
It's rather that I think this paper will hopefully really highlight the magnitude of what's happened and the urgency of fixing it. Hopefully, it'll galvanize some kind of transdisciplinary collaborations.
So it's important because it says this needs to be a crisis discipline, this is something that we don't understand. We don't have a theory for how all of these changes are affecting the way that people come to form their beliefs and opinions, and then use those to make decisions. And yet, that's all changing. It's happening. ...
There's a misperception that we're saying, ''Exposure to ads is bad '-- that's causing the harm.'' That's not what we're saying. Exposure to ads may or may not be bad. What we're concerned about is the fact that this information ecosystem has developed to optimize something orthogonal to things that we think are extremely important, like being concerned about the veracity of information or the effect of information on human well-being, on democracy, on health, on the ecosystem.
Those issues are just being left to sort themselves out, without a whole lot of thought or guidance around them.
That puts it in this crisis discipline space. It's like climate science where you don't have time to sit down and work out everything definitively. This paper is essentially saying something quite similar '-- that we don't have time to wait. We need to start addressing these problems now.
Shirin GhaffaryWhat do you say to the people who think this is not really a crisis and argue that people had similar concerns when the printing press came out that now seem alarmist?
Carl BergstromWell, with the printing press, I would push back. The printing press came out and upended history. We're still recovering from the capacity that the printing press gave to Martin Luther. The printing press radically changed the political landscape in Europe. And, you know, depending on whose histories you go by, you had decades if not centuries of war [after it was introduced].
So, did we somehow recover? Sure we did. Would it have been better to do it in a stewarded way? I don't know. Maybe. These major transitions in information technology often cause collateral damage. We tend to hope that they also bring about a tremendous amount of good as we move toward human knowledge and all of that. But even the fact that you've survived doesn't mean that it's not worth thinking about how to get through it smoothly.
It reminds me of one of the least intelligent critiques of the [Covid-19] vaccines that we're using now: ''We didn't have vaccines during the Black Death plague. And we're still here.'' We are, but it took out a third of the population of Europe.
Shirin GhaffaryRight, so there is pain and suffering that happened with all those transformational technologies as well.
Carl BergstromYeah. So I think it's important to recognize that. It's still possible to mitigate harm as you go through a transformation, even if you know you're going to be fine. I also don't think it's completely obvious that we are going to be fine on the other end.
One of the really key messages of the paper is that there tends to be this general trust that everything will work out, that people will eventually learn to screen sources of information, that the market will take care of it.
And I think one of the things that the paper is saying is that we've got no particular reason to think that that's right. There's no reason why good information will rise to the top of any ecosystem we've designed. So we're very concerned about that.
Shirin GhaffaryOne important defense of social media is that Facebook and Twitter can be places where people share new ideas that are not mainstream that end up being right. Sometimes media gatekeepers can get things wrong and social media can allow better information to come out. For example, some people like Zeynep Tufekci were sounding the alarm on the pandemic early, largely on Twitter, back in February 2020, far ahead of the CDC and most journalists.
Carl BergstromYeah, to look at the net, you have to look at the net influence of the system, right? If somebody on social media has things right but if the net influence on social media is to promote anti-vaccination sentiment in the United States to the point that we're not going to be able to reach herd immunity, it doesn't let social media off the hook. ...
I was enormously optimistic about the internet in the '90s. [I thought] this really was going to remove the gatekeepers and allow people who did not have financial, social, and political capital to get their stories out there.
And it's certainly possible for all that to be true and for the concerns that we express in our paper to also be correct.
Joe Bak-ColemanDemocratizing information has had profound effects, especially for marginalized, underrepresented communities. It gives them the ability to rally online, have a platform, and have a voice. And that is fantastic. At the same time, we have things like genocide of Rohingya Muslims and an insurrection at the Capitol happening as well. And I hope that it's a false statement to say we have to have those growing pains to have the benefits.
Shirin GhaffaryHow much do we know about whether [misinformation] has increased in the past year or five years, 10 years, and by how much?
Carl BergstromThat's one of the real challenges that we're facing, actually, is that we don't have a lot of information. We need to figure out how, to what degree, people have been exposed to misinformation, to what degree is that influencing subsequent online behavior. All of this information is held exclusively by the tech companies that are running these platforms.
[Editor's note: Most major social media companies work with academics who research their platforms' effects on society, but the companies restrict and control how much information researchers can use.]
Shirin GhaffaryWhat does treating the impact of social media as a crisis discipline mean?
Carl BergstromFor me, a crisis discipline is a situation where you don't have all of the information that you need to know exactly what to do, but you don't have time to wait to figure it out.
This was the situation with Covid in February or March 2020. We're definitely in that position with global climate change. We've got better models than we did 20 years ago, but we still don't have a complete description of how that system works. And yet, we certainly don't have time to wait around and figure all that out.
And here, I think that the speed with which social media, combined with a whole number of other things, has led to very widespread disinformation '-- [that] here in the United States [is] causing major political upheaval '-- is striking. How many more elections do you think we have before things get substantially worse?
So there are these super-hard problems that take radical transdisciplinary work. We need to figure out how to come together and talk about all that. But at the same time, we have to be taking actions.
Shirin GhaffaryHow do you respond to the chicken-and-egg argument? You hear defenders of technology say, ''We're just seeing real-world polarization reflected online,'' but there's no proof that the internet is causing polarization.
Carl BergstromThis should be a familiar argument. This is what Big Tobacco used, right? This is Merchants of Doubt stuff. They said, ''Well, you know, yeah, sure, lung cancer rates are going up, especially among smokers '-- but there's no proof it's been caused by that.''
And now we're hearing the same thing about misinformation: ''Yeah, sure, there's a lot of misinformation online, but it doesn't change anyone's behavior.'' But then all of a sudden you got a guy in a loincloth with buffalo horns running around the Capitol building.
Shirin GhaffaryThe paper calls for people to more urgently understand the impacts of these new rapid advancements in communication technology in the past 15 years. Do you think that this isn't being addressed enough by academic scientists, government leaders, or companies?
Joe Bak-ColemanThere's been a lot of work that's been done here, and I don't think we're trying to reinvent that wheel at all. But I think what we're really trying to do is just highlight the need for urgent action and draw these parallels to climate change and to conservation biology, where they've been dealing with really similar problems. And the way they've structured themselves, like climate change now involves everything from chemists to ecologists. And I think social science tends to be fairly fragmented in subdisciplines, without a lot of connection between them. And trying to bring that together was a major goal of this paper.
Shirin GhaffaryI'm biased to be very aware of this problem because my job is to report on social media, but it feels like there is a lot of fear and concern about social media's impact. Misinformation, phone addiction '-- these seem to be issues that everyday people worry about. Why do you think there still isn't enough attention on this?
Carl BergstromWhen I talk to people about social media, yes, there's a lot of concern, there's a lot of negativity, and then there's bias by being a parent as well. But the focus is often on the individual-level effects. So it's, ''My kids are developing negative issues around self-esteem because of the way that Instagram is structured to get 'Likes' for being perfect and showing more of your body.''
But there's less talk about the entire large-scale structural changes that this is inducing. So what we're saying is, we really want people to look at the large-scale structural changes that these technologies are driving in society.
Delta: WHO urges fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks as variant spreads
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 11:21
People wear face masks in Central Park on April 10, 2021 in New York City.
Noam Galai | Getty Images
The World Health Organization on Friday urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks, social distance and practice other Covid-19 pandemic safety measures as the highly contagious delta variant spreads rapidly across the globe.
"People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves," Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a news briefing from the agency's Geneva headquarters.
"Vaccine alone won't stop community transmission," Simao added. "People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene ... the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you're vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing."
The health organization's comments come as some countries, including the United States, have largely done away with masks and pandemic-related restrictions as the Covid vaccines have helped drive down the number of new infections and deaths.
The number of new infections in the U.S. has held steady over the last week at an average of 11,659 new cases per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Still, new infections have been plummeting over the last several months.
WHO officials said they are asking fully vaccinated people to continue to "play it safe" because a large portion of the world remains unvaccinated and highly contagious variants, like delta, are spreading in many countries, spurring outbreaks.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that about half of adults infected in an outbreak of the delta variant in Israel were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, prompting the government there to reimpose an indoor mask requirement and other measures.
"Yes, you can reduce some measures and different countries have different recommendations in that regard. But there's still the need for caution," Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO's director-general, said at the briefing. "As we are seeing, there are new variants emerging."
The WHO said last week that delta is becoming the dominant variant of the disease worldwide.
WHO officials have said the variant, first found in India but now in at least 92 countries, is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain yet, and it will "pick off" the most vulnerable people, especially in places with low Covid vaccination rates.
They said there were reports that the delta variant also causes more severe symptoms, but that more research is needed to confirm those conclusions. Still, there are signs the delta strain could provoke different symptoms than other variants.
It has the potential "to be more lethal because it's more efficient in the way it transmits between humans and it will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized and potentially die," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said Monday.
In the U.S., President Joe Biden said Covid deaths nationwide will continue to rise due to the spread of the "dangerous" delta variant, calling it a "serious concern."
He warned that Americans who are still unvaccinated are especially at risk.
"Six hundred thousand-plus Americans have died, and with this delta variant you know there's going to be others as well. You know it's going to happen. We've got to get young people vaccinated," Biden said Thursday at a community center in Raleigh, North Carolina
Dave Llorens on Twitter: "We just got quoted $20K for a shipping container. We usually pay $3K" / Twitter
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 10:26
Dave Llorens : We just got quoted $20K for a shipping container. We usually pay $3K
Fri Jun 25 18:35:04 +0000 2021
ð¸ð>> El Hodlocache #FreeYellow ð®'¸ð--ð'ðº : @davellorens Bitcoin miners bought up all the shipping container supply for moving their gear.
Sun Jun 27 10:21:41 +0000 2021
Carlos Matos : @davellorens This an upside to the expensive Jones Act hulls that ply coasting trades.
Sun Jun 27 10:20:35 +0000 2021
Leon VI : @davellorens @PrestonPysh Same here but also with no containers available and longer leadtimes
Sun Jun 27 10:19:28 +0000 2021
john latham : @davellorens @BarrySilbert Check out SHIBA INU! Trending everywhere. Get in before the price skyrockets #SHIBARMY
Sun Jun 27 10:17:12 +0000 2021
Leo Romeo : @davellorens Thanks for sharing. Great thread - serious question and not politically ideological '... does anyone else'... https://t.co/HVoJoEDrBw
Sun Jun 27 10:10:09 +0000 2021
Piriyathep K : @davellorens https://t.co/roVMzm1Gpo
Sun Jun 27 10:02:22 +0000 2021
Izem/ : @davellorens It's been brutal. We need wet freight ports
Sun Jun 27 10:01:03 +0000 2021
ryptoe : @davellorens @pierre_crypt0 Prices everywhere are not sustainable because people will just not pay it. Buyers will run out simple as that.
Sun Jun 27 09:59:21 +0000 2021
pandatron : @davellorens Welcome to chinese invented artificial demand in logistics, i will not be surprised if it goes really bad around christmas.
Sun Jun 27 09:59:16 +0000 2021
Dietmar : @davellorens Looks like ccp like managing of the economy doesn't work out that well. Huge misslocation of recourses'... https://t.co/VwgLwFSBIX
Sun Jun 27 09:37:34 +0000 2021
Arlich : @davellorens market prices are going to be terrible in september'... people are not ready and not realizing
Sun Jun 27 09:32:24 +0000 2021
Graeve : @davellorens Check out @eqifi_finance the first DeFi project powered by a Regulated and Licensed Bank (EQIBank). Wi'... https://t.co/BV8SrPDILI
Sun Jun 27 09:32:23 +0000 2021
Toon Robberechts : @davellorens Bitcoin fixes this
Sun Jun 27 09:24:41 +0000 2021
Vicent : @davellorens Please try to understand it!ðð--https://t.co/vHT0PZ5TjtTwitter@SnowCrashArmyð...https://t.co/zjchlJmqfc'... https://t.co/0f4oIC1SL6
Sun Jun 27 09:06:53 +0000 2021
crypto_hodl_UK : @davellorens I do overseas removals and haven't heard of any sea container problems but maybe the U.K. is ok for now
Sun Jun 27 08:59:32 +0000 2021
swicky wreet : @davellorens Inflation is the next phase, hold on guy's things are about to get much worse.
Sun Jun 27 08:55:49 +0000 2021
Marie Rhodes : @davellorens Wanna learn how to make passive income?19 year Olds buying their dream cars making 6 figures in a mon'... https://t.co/PZB1mfXzwJ
Sun Jun 27 08:47:39 +0000 2021
Bobby : @davellorens Lol. It all started with that Suez Canal blockade ''accident''
Sun Jun 27 08:47:13 +0000 2021
Ghost Protocol : @davellorens Same to UK. First they put prices for Chinese New Year, then up due to pandemic then up nite due to S'... https://t.co/ZOlMcURYDP
Sun Jun 27 08:40:25 +0000 2021
Hoge Coin : @davellorens Covid inflation strikes again
Sun Jun 27 08:35:12 +0000 2021
Arvind K : @davellorens @indradeepkhan Chinese stranglehold on LAC & economy
Sun Jun 27 08:35:02 +0000 2021
JoJo : @davellorens howly fookballs. That is some next level inflation mate.
Sun Jun 27 08:30:59 +0000 2021
Disclose.tv ð¨ on Twitter: "NEW - Former Home Secretary, former Managing Director of Deutsche Bank, and ex-JP Morgan adviser Sajid Javid appointed as Health Secretary after the resignation of Matt Hancock. https://t.co/zlOi7PvjLl" / Twitter
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 10:22
Disclose.tv ð¨ : NEW - Former Home Secretary, former Managing Director of Deutsche Bank, and ex-JP Morgan adviser Sajid Javid appoin'... https://t.co/KBWPVSUUmD
Sat Jun 26 22:13:07 +0000 2021
CDC Advisory Committee Presentation on Risk of Myocarditis From mRNA Vaccines 'Flawed' ' Children's Health Defense
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 10:16
On June 23, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC met to discuss ongoing reports of myocarditis in young people, particularly young men, after the second dose of mRNA vaccines. However, the purpose of weighing those harms and benefits contained misleading statements and data.
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On June 23, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) met to discuss ongoing reports of myocarditis in young people, particularly young men, after the second dose of mRNA vaccines.
In light of these recent reports, the committee was charged with weighing potential harms and benefits associated with second doses of mRNA vaccines.
Despite the importance and gravity of the topic, and the high level at which this discussion was taking place, the presentation given to the committee for the purpose of weighing those harms and benefits was fundamentally flawed.
''Clinical presentation of myocarditis cases following vaccination has been distinct, occurring most often within one week after dose two, with chest pain as the most common presentation,'' said Dr. Grace Lee, co-chair of VaST.https://t.co/1CYufBl3yd
'-- Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) June 23, 2021
While misleading statements and data can be found throughout the slidedeck, we will focus on two slides which are most relevant to the decision that was facing ACIP on June 23.
The first of these two slides, below, claims to evaluate the ''benefits and risks after dose 2,'' presenting what appears to be ''COVID-19-Associated Hospitalizations Prevented'' by dose 2, against ''Cases of Myocarditis'' which would be expected to be caused by dose 2.
The second of these slides, below, presents ''Predicted cases prevented versus myocarditis cases per million second dose vaccinations.''
The presentation contains much flawed analysis and misleading framings of data. But above all, despite the fact that these slides purport to weigh risks versus benefits of ''dose 2'' of mRNA vaccines, this analysis assumes that single doses of mRNA vaccines have 0% effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 associated hospitalization, despite the fact that original Phase 3 trials found high single-dose effectiveness even at preventing infection, and real-world data has confirmed high effectiveness of single doses at preventing hospitalizations, including against recent variants of SARS-CoV-2.
In particular, the counterfactual used for the analysis given for this presentation was not delaying second doses in certain age groups or even forgoing them altogether, but suspending all vaccinations in this age group, including for children with conditions placing them at elevated risk of severe outcomes and death, for a period of 4 months all of which exhibit rates of deaths and hospitalization comparable to May.
ACIP cannot do its duty if it does not even address the question before it, which was, most immediately: ''do the benefits versus harms of second doses of mRNA vaccines favor giving second doses in younger age groups at this time?''
Answering this question requires understanding not the difference between vaccinating kids and not vaccinating them, but between giving second doses and not giving second doses. The titles of these slides notwithstanding, these slides do not present any data pertinent to that question.
It is possible, however, to reconstruct what a more careful balancing of harms and benefits might look like. The first change we will make is simply to incorporate an analysis of the benefit of a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 hospitalization.
This was recently estimated at 83% against the alpha variant, and 92% against the more recent delta variant, by Public Health England. We will conservatively assume a single-dose effectiveness of 83% against hospitalization for this illustration, versus a two-dose effectiveness of 95%. With these assumptions, the first slide shown earlier appears quite different:
Fewer hospitalizations are avoided in this re-analysis, which only attributes to dose 2 those avoided hospitalizations which would not already have been avoided by dose 1.After this change, the balance of benefits versus harms is much more delicate, with more cases of hospitalization expected from vaccine-induced myocarditis in 12''17 year olds (even lumping boys and girls together) than COVID-19 associated hospitalizations prevented.
We will consider one further change. The case rate shown on the right-hand side of this figure represents the rate at which CDC-confirmed cases of myocarditis have been recorded through voluntary reporting systems. It is natural to expect this to be an underestimate. Indeed, Israel reported rates of myocarditis between 1 in 3000 and 1 in 6000 in 16''24 year olds, with higher rates among 16''19 year olds than 20''24 year olds.
This is roughly 5 times higher than the rate of CDC confirmed myocarditis cases detected through voluntary reporting. If we use Israel rates as a proxy for expected myocarditis rates, we obtain the following comparison (simply by inflating by a factor of 5 the CDC-confirmed rate in each age group up to 29).
In this re-analysis, we compare COVID-19-associated hospitalizations avoided by the 2nd dose, to rates of myocarditis which would be expected at rates seen in Israel.In this analysis the harms versus benefits of the second dose appear unfavorable for ages under 25. This is true even though:
This analysis segregates by age only, ignoring gender, previous COVID-19 infection or health risk factors.It still uses May hospitalization rates as the baseline expectation for the next 4 months.It does not account for the fact that according to the CDC's own analysis, 45% of COVID-19 associated hospitalizations in adolescents reported to COVID-NET (which is the source for hospitalization data in this figure) have primary causes other than COVID-19.The harms versus benefits are particularly bad for 12''17 year olds, as is illustrated if we modify the second CDC slide from above under the assumption that a single dose of mRNA vaccine has 83% VE against severe outcomes, and use rates of myocarditis from Israel as the upper estimate on the number of myocarditis rates (the lower estimates remain unchanged here):
When we account for the marginal benefit of the 2nd dose beyond the 1st dose, rather than attributing all the benefits of vaccination to the 2nd dose, the balancing of harms and benefits appears much more unfavorable in teens.Note that more than 95% of myocarditis cases detected by the CDC resulted in hospitalization '-- it seems very likely that second doses of mRNA vaccines will cause more hospitalizations than they will prevent in 12''17 year old boys, and whether that is also true for women will depend heavily on the rate at which the CDC is undercounting myocarditis cases.
In the meantime, note that this balance would look even more unfavorable for second doses if it was restricted to healthy children without health factors placing them at elevated risk for severe disease.
In the meantime, the mortality rate of vaccine-associated myocarditis cases remains uncertain. Under questioning during the meeting, Matthew Oster reported that for myocarditis unrelated to COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines, mortality rates are estimated in the range of 4%''9% in the literature.
Fortunately, it seems likely that the rate is not so high for vaccine or COVID-19 associated myocarditis. But the rate is likely not zero, and the CDC is already investigating one possible death associated with a second dose of Pfizer vaccine in a 13 year old, over a time period where no deaths would be expected to be avoided from second doses of mRNA vaccines in this age group.
Originally published by Medium.
Global supply chain squeeze, soaring costs threaten solar energy boom | Reuters
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 10:12
LOS ANGELES/SHANGHAI/BEIJING June 9 (Reuters) - Global solar power developers are slowing down project installations because of a surge in costs for components, labor, and freight as the world economy bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic, according to industry executives and analysts interviewed by Reuters.
The situation suggests slower growth for the zero-emissions solar energy industry at a time world governments are trying to ramp up their efforts to fight climate change, and marks a reversal for the sector after a decade of falling costs.
It also reflects yet another industry shaken up by the supply chain bottlenecks that have developed in the recovery from the coronavirus health crisis, which has businesses from electronics manufacturers to home improvement retailers experiencing huge delays in shipping along with soaring costs.
"The narrative is shifting," S&P Global Platts clean energy analyst Bruno Brunetti said in an interview, citing the costs inflation.
Among the biggest headwinds for solar is a tripling in prices for steel, a key component in racks that hold solar panels, and polysilicon, the raw material used in panels.
Soaring shipping freight rates along with higher costs for fuel, copper and labor are also pinching project costs, company executives said.
Research firm IHS Markit warned last week that its global solar installation forecast for the year could slide to 156 gigawatts from a current projection of 181 GW if price pressures do not ease.
Wall Street has also punished the sector in recent weeks, sending the MAC Global Solar index (.SUNIDX) down 24% this year after it tripled in 2020.
Project developers in the United States, the No. 2 solar market behind China, told Reuters they are struggling to price projects for 2022 given the lack of clarity on how long price spikes will last.
Solar engineering, procurement and construction firm Swinerton Renewable Energy said some of its customers have also put "soft holds" on projects slated to start later this year while they wait to see if prices trend down.
"We've just become accustomed to such a low cost energy source," said George Hershman, Swinerton's president. "Like anything it's hard to accept that you're going to start to pay more."
Contract prices for solar were already up 15% in the United States in the first quarter compared with last year due to higher interconnection and permitting costs, according to a quarterly index by LevelTen Energy.
U.S. panel manufacturer First Solar Inc (FSLR.O) told investors in April that congestion at American ports was holding up its module shipments from Asia.
And a U.S. maker of solar mounting systems, Array Technologies Inc (ARRY.O), withdrew its forecast for the year last month due to steel and freight costs.
In Europe, some projects that do not have strict timelines for when they need to begin delivering power are being delayed, according to executives and analysts.
"The situation has not resolved itself because prices have stayed high, so those who have capacity to wait are still waiting," said Jose Nunez, chief financial officer of Spanish solar tracker maker Soltec Power Holdings SA (SOLPW.MC). Nunez said Soltec was seeing project delays in all of the markets it serves.
Supply constraints could put upward pressure on relatively stable European solar prices later this year as companies seek to preserve profit margins that are already razor thin, according to LevelTen.
In China, the world's top solar product maker, producers are already raising prices to protect margins, leading to slower orders.
According to three solar panel makers in China polled by Reuters, prices for panels are up 20-40% in the past year, following the surge in costs for polysilicon, the raw material for solar cells and panels.
"We have to manufacture the product, but on the other hand, if the price is too high, the project developers want to wait," Jack Xiao, marketing director at BeyondSun Holdings, a panel maker that exports 60% of its products, said.
A state-backed solar cell factory manager who asked not to be named told Reuters that output has dropped because customers are reluctant to fulfill orders at current prices.
China's Canadian Solar Inc (CSIQ.O), a top panel producer, said last month that its product prices were up 10% in the first quarter from the previous three month period, an increase it plans to pass on to customers.
''We will continue to take price up, and we're willing to give up some volume in order to protect margins,'' Yan Zhuang, president of the company's module making division, said on a conference call with investors last month.
Additional reporting by Isla Binnie in Madrid and Emily Chow in Shanghai; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Marguerita Choy
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Austin Police chief applicants include women of color with big city experience
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 09:48
Three women of color with leadership experience have applied to be the next chief of the Austin Police Department, bringing a level of diversity to the candidate pool that was lacking in an earlier review of applicants.
In total, 44 candidates applied by the unofficial deadline of June 7.
More: Meet all 44 candidates to be Austin's next police chief
The American-Statesman reported the names of 25 of the candidates earlier this month after obtaining their applications through a public records request. None of those applicants were women.
More: Hopefuls for Austin police chief include interim boss Chacon, 2 applicants with controversial pasts
The details on the remaining 19 candidates, who all submitted their applications after the first open records request was made, were obtained through a subsequent request. The Statesman received those names Friday.
The candidates include:
Celeste Murphy, Atlanta police deputy chief.
Mirtha Ramos, chief in DeKalb County, Ga., which is near Atlanta and home to 750,000 residents.
Emada Tingirides, Los Angeles police deputy chief.
The three women are among the most accomplished candidates to apply for the job, having risen to top leadership positions in some of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country.
It remains to be seen if any of them will advance in the search, which is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks based on a timeline laid out recently by Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano.
A consultant the city hired to assist with the search was expected to review r(C)sum(C)s and send some of them along to city leadership for consideration. From there, Arellano will narrow the list to about six candidates for initial screening. The top two or three will be brought in for final interviews in late July or early August.
Only one woman has been an Austin police chief
Austin has had only one woman serve as police chief: Elizabeth Watson, who led the department from 1992 to 1997. Cathy Ellison was interim chief in 2006, becoming the first and only Black chief or interim chief in Austin's history. She served in that role until the next year when Art Acevedo took over and became the city's first Hispanic chief.
If Austin hires a woman to lead the department, it would be joining a trend in major U.S. cities. Recent chief hires in Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Ky., and Philadelphia have been of women.
Murphy has been with the Atlanta Police Department since 1997 and has been a deputy chief since January 2020. She leads the community services division and, prior to that, she managed more than 900 patrol officers as deputy chief of field operations.
In her application, Murphy said that during the COVID-19 pandemic she initiated a series of virtual meetings with other female officers to discuss struggles of being a woman in a male-dominated field.
Tingirides has been with the Los Angeles Police Department for 26 years and was promoted to deputy chief in August 2020, leading the newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau.
In her cover letter, she touts her work over 10 years in establishing a "relationship-based policing concept" that she said strengthened the relationship between community members and law enforcement.
"My work and experience have positively changed the relationship between the police and the Watts community of Los Angeles while at the same time greatly reducing violent crime and officer involved shootings," she wrote. "I know that Austin is looking to implement a similar policing concept. I want to be the Austin chief of police and implement the changes I have successfully implemented in Los Angeles."
Ramos was at the Miami-Dade Police Department prior to arriving in DeKalb County in 2019.
She studied the state of policing in Austin, noting in her cover letter that her experience working with diverse groups of people will allow her to assist in the city's reimagining public safety process that began after last year's racial injustice protests.
That process led to a number of recommendations from local activists to reinvest money into low-income and minority communities by eliminating certain functions performed by the Austin Police Department and also removing other functions from police control.
In the police chief search, those activists are likely to side with candidates who can best communicate a plan to strengthen relationships with communities of color by cutting down on what they view as policing that targets minority neighborhoods.
A racial breakdown of 139,000 traffic stops made in 2019 showed that although Black people represented less than 8% of Austin's population, they accounted for 14% of stops and 25% of searches that resulted from a stop. The report was co-published by the city's Office of Police Oversight, Office of Innovation, and Equity Office.
Ramos signed off her application with her intention, if hired, to lead the department "on the path of progressive police service delivery."
Others who applied during this wave of applications included Wichita, Kan., Chief Gordon Ramsay, Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery Moore and former Oakland, Calif., Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who was fired in February 2020 after months of tension with an independent citizens board.
Kirkpatrick claimed in a lawsuit the reason for her firing was because she exposed corruption in the police commission.
Interim chief also applies
Austin interim Chief Joseph Chacon also applied in early June, as he had earlier confirmed to the Statesman.
In his cover letter, Chacon wrote that he is committed to reimagining public safety efforts, and he also addressed his role as an internal candidate during a time when many in the community have demanded sweeping changes in the department.
Chacon has been the interim chief since March, replacing Brian Manley, who stepped down amid calls for his job from activists and some Austin council members.
"Recognizing that there are countless opportunities for positive change, I acknowledge that there will be hesitancy in considering an internal candidate and offer the following," Chacon wrote. "I come to the table with a wealth of law enforcement knowledge, established local relationships, and a well documented history. I am a life-long learner and am constantly working to enhance my knowledge through conversation and research. I am comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. I believe that a police agency's ability to safely and effectively work with a community, develop and maintain neighborhood partnerships, respond to calls for service, and combat chronic and emerging crime problems is impacted by the levels of trust and legitimacy felt by the individuals served."
Three women of color with leadership experience have applied to be the next chief of the Austin Police Department, bringing a level of diversity to the candidate pool that was lacking in an earlier review of applicants.
In total, 44 candidates applied by the unofficial deadline of June 7.
More: Meet all 44 candidates to be Austin's next police chief
The American-Statesman reported the names of 25 of the candidates earlier this month after obtaining their applications through a public records request. None of those applicants were women.
More: Hopefuls for Austin police chief include interim boss Chacon, 2 applicants with controversial pasts
The details on the remaining 19 candidates, who all submitted their applications after the first open records request was made, were obtained through a subsequent request. The Statesman received those names Friday.
Degrees of Difference Rewards | Reliant Energy
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 03:46
Reliant wants to reward you for saving energy! When electricity demand is high, the Degrees of Difference program will use your thermostat to help you conserve energy and potentially save you money. Joining either program below is free and easy!
Join the Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats programGet a $25 bill credit 1 just for joining the Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program.2
How it works:When electricity demand is high, your smart thermostat will notify you of a conservation event and automatically adjust to help you conserve without lifting a finger. Rest assured, you're always in control and can change the temperature at any time.
Join the Degrees of Difference with manual thermostats programJoin the manual thermostats program3 and receive bill credits of $0.60 per kWh for using less electricity than normal during specified reduction periods.4
How it works:We'll notify you when peak energy usage days are expected and ask you to reduce your usage. Make small changes like adjusting your thermostat and holding off high-usage appliances to conserve energy.
What is the Reliant Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program?
During periods of high electricity demand, a participating smart thermostat will automatically tweak temperatures no more than 4 degrees to balance energy savings and comfort. Degrees of Difference events can last up to 4 hours, but you can change the temperature on your thermostat at any time.
How does the Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program work?
When electricity demand is anticipated to be high, your smart thermostat automatically adjusts a few degrees to decrease your AC runtime and conserve energy. This is known as a Degrees of Difference event. This small change is good for you, your wallet, and the local community.
To participate, you must connect your eligible smart thermostat to Wi-Fi and sign up for the Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program using the links above. Once you do, your smart thermostat and its app will let you know when a Degrees of Difference event starts.
During a Degrees of Difference event, your thermostat will automatically adjust temperatures to save electricity while keeping you comfortable. But you can choose to change the temperature and opt out of that particular event at any time.
What is required to participate in the Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program?
An eligible smart thermostat from Google Nest, Honeywell Home, or Emerson Sensi is required to participate in the Reliant Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program along with Wi-Fi and an active account with your smart thermostat's app.
If you have more than one eligible thermostat, you can enroll each one to participate in Degrees of Difference events.
Eligible smart thermostats include:
Nest Learning Thermostat (all generations) Nest Thermostat Nest Thermostat E Honeywell
VisionPRO 8000 with RedLINK Gateway VisionPRO 8000 Smart 9000 Smart Prestige IAQ Wi-Fi FocusPRO 6000 Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Wi-Fi 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat Wi-Fi 9000 You must set up your thermostat using the free Honeywell Total Connect Comfort app in order to register your device in the Degrees of Difference program.
Sensi Smart Thermostat Sensi Touch Smart Thermostat What should I expect when a Degrees of Difference event occurs?
Depending on your thermostat, notifications may appear on your thermostat and in its mobile app when a Degrees of Difference event is in progress. During the event, your smart thermostat will adjust your target temperature by no more than 4 degrees. You can override these automatic adjustments at any time if you choose. Your thermostat will return to its regular schedule after the Degrees of Difference event has ended.
Does Reliant sell smart thermostats?
How long does a Degrees of Difference event last?
A Degrees of Difference event can last up to 4 hours.
How do I know that a Degrees of Difference event is taking place?
Depending on your thermostat, notifications may appear on the thermostat or in its mobile app when a Degrees of Difference event is in progress.
Google Nest: A gold gear icon will appear on the display of your Google Nest thermostat and your Nest app to let you know that an energy event is now taking place.
Honeywell: You will receive an Energy Savings Event notification in the Total Connect Comfort app to let you know that an energy event is taking place.
Emerson Sensi: On the Sensi thermostat, if you're currently in an event, you'll see "Active Savings Event" on the thermostat display, along with the time that event will end. The same information is available in the Sensi app.
How do I opt out of a Degrees of Difference event?
You can override the modified temperatures at any point by changing the temperature directly on your smart thermostat or in its app. Your thermostat will keep the temperatures you set and then return to your regular schedule.
Do Degrees of Difference events happen all year long?
They will only occur between May and October, when periods of high electricity demand are more likely. You can always opt out of the event by changing the temperature on your thermostat.
Will participation in the Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program affect my enrollment in my current Reliant plan?
Your participation in the Degrees of Difference with smart thermostats program does not affect your current Reliant electricity plan.
What is Reliant Degrees of Difference with manual thermostats program?
The Reliant Degrees of Difference with manual thermostats program allows customers to earn Degrees of Difference bill credits by using less electricity during requested periods of high demand on the electric grid.
How does the Degrees of Difference program work?
Reliant will use email to communicate essential program information to you. The Degrees of Difference program will alert you to upcoming periods of high electricity demand so you can reduce your usage. During these high-demand hours, simply adjust your thermostat and hold off on high-usage activities like running the dishwasher, washer, dryer or pool pump, and you can earn Degrees of Difference bill credits.
Will enrollment in the Degrees of Difference with manual thermostats program affect my enrollment in my current Reliant plan?
Your participation doesn't affect your current Reliant electricity plan.
How do you determine my usage reduction?
We review your usage during the requested reduction hours and compare it to previous weekdays to establish your typical usage. Reliant will determine your usage reduction by comparing actual kWh usage during the hours of the requested reduction to your typical usage for that time of day. This typical usage is the average usage at that time over the prior five weekdays. If this method shows a reduction of 1 kWh or more, you will receive a Degrees of Difference bill credit of $0.60 per kWh for using less electricity than normal during high demand hours.
Why can't Reliant send the event notification earlier than one day in advance?
We send a request for usage reduction when we anticipate that demand for electricity will be high compared to the amount of available generation. The situations that cause Reliant to request customers to reduce usage are typically unexpected (for example, a significant change in the weather forecast or an unplanned outage of generation), so we usually have only one day of advance notice. This means we can't send an event notice two or three days before an event, because we cannot tell that far in advance that a usage reduction will be needed.
When will I receive the bill credit?
The bill credit will appear on your Reliant account within two billing cycles.
What is required to participate in the Degrees of Difference with manual thermostats program?
No special thermostat or equipment is required other than a smart meter.
How will I know if I'll receive a bill credit for reducing my usage?
A few days after the requested reduction period, you'll receive an email summarizing the usage reduction amount and any bill credit that you earned.
What are some ways I can reduce my electricity usage during a Degrees of Difference event?
Here are a few ways to reduce your usage:
In the hour prior to the requested reduction period, you can precool (in summer) or preheat (in winter if you have electric heat) your home by adjusting the thermostat temperature to maintain comfort. During the requested reduction period, adjust your thermostat setting by four degrees. If you have a swimming pool, turn off the pool pump during the reduction period. Postpone using your washer or dryer until after the reduction period. During a reduction period, use a microwave oven '-- which is a lower-electricity usage appliance '-- instead of a stovetop or conventional electric oven.
BREAKING: Donald Trump joins YouTube alternative Rumble | The Post Millennial
Sun, 27 Jun 2021 00:50
Former President Donald Trump has created an official and verified Rumble account on the video-sharing platform, the pro-free speech alternative to YouTube.
The only video uploaded by Trump to date is a placeholder for the live feed of his upcoming remarks at the first post-presidential rally sponsored by Save America, which begins at 7:00 p.m. EST.
Trump's event held outside Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday evening marks the first campaign-style rally since leaving the White House. The former Republican commander-in-chief is slated to speak in Wellington at the Trump-branded rally, similar in nature to the signature gatherings that propelled Trump into the presidency in 2016 and that he held during the 2020 re-election run.
According to Rumble's website, the streaming service provides video creators a way host, manage, distribute, and create feeds while monetizing content.
Rumble has become YouTube's greatest competitor as the conservative and free speech revolt against Big Tech censorship continues to grow.
YouTube has suppressed, de-platformed, and demonetized conservative creators, including high-profile battles with popular users such as Steven Crowder, who was removed from the site's partner program. YouTube says it will lift the ban against Trump "when the risk of violence decreases," which is an indefinite charge given that there is no risk of violence as alleged.
Rumble had 1.6 million members at the third quarter of 2020 and 31.9 million for the first quarter of 2021. Rumble has also attracted PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel as an investor and conservative firebrand Dan Bongino as part-owner.
Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. has an account on Rumble and has since used the platform to blast President Joe Biden's failing "Build Back Better" plan amid gas shortages, the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack, and the recent "disastrous" jobs report. He has also slammed Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) for failing to understand how the stock market works in relation to the recent GameStop/Reddit saga.
The former president was exiled across social media in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6. Trump has been reacting to media developments on his own Twitter-style blog where he broadcasts thoughts to the world.
The interface itself comes equipped with options to share posts to Big Tech giants Facebook where he remains banned.
Stonewall said to 'coerce' public bodies with Top 100 Index to lobby for sex and gender law change | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 18:46
Diversity charity Stonewall has been accused of using its exclusive diversity rankings to 'coerce' public bodies into lobbying for changes to sex and gender laws.
Stonewall is facing a backlash as documents revealed the organisation may be strong arming employers in return for higher places on its exclusive Top 100 Employers list
The LGBT charity is facing a backlash after documents reportedly revealed the organisation may be strong arming employers in return for higher places on its exclusive Top 100 Employers list.
The Times reports the diversity charity is using its rankings to 'lobby on their behalf' - rewarding those who follow Stonewall's gender policies and punishing those who do not.
And former founding member of the group Simon Fanshawe has slammed the charity: '[The index] started out as a way of helping employers ensure their lesbian and gay staff were well looked after.
'But what it has turned into now sounds more like coercion - a way of coercing employers in their language and structure, instead of encouraging them to embrace the different needs of their LGBT staff.'
The diversity charity is accused of using its rankings to 'lobby on their behalf' - rewarding those who follow Stonewall's gender policies and punishing those who do not. [Stock image]
The Scottish Government is said to have been encouraged to campaign for sex and gender law changes in return for a higher Stonewall ranking. Above: Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, pictured at Pride Glasgow
Stonewall says its rankings - which use the Workplace Equality Index referred to as the UK's 'leading benchmark tool for LGBT inclusion' - provide a list of the 'best employers for LGBT people'.
More than 500 public bodies, from NHS trusts to the Scottish government, applied to be listed on the charity's exclusive index last year.
These bodies must complete a 31-page form that questions social media use, HR policies and inclusion measures which can take months to complete.
The public bodies that have been 'coerced' by Stonewall's workplace diversity scheme Stonewall has been accused of 'coercing' employers by using its Top 100 Employers index to lobby for new sex and gender law in the UK.
So who are some of the public bodies who have applied to be part of the charity's exclusive rankings?
The Scottish Government
Nicola Sturgeon's administration offered up elected ministers' social media activity, as well as mooting possible changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 as part of its previous applications.
Nicola Sturgeon poses at Glasgow Pride
It failed to crack the top 100 rankings in 2020, placing 127th.
Central London Community Heathcare Trust
The NHS body, which cares for more than 2million people in the capital, was told by Stonewall to remove references to 'mother' and replace it with 'pregnant employee' or 'birthing parent'.
Intellectual Property Office
The IPO soared 80 places in the index to 13th after appearing in a 2018 Stonewall advert that urged people to fill in self-identification forms as part of a government consultation.
The organisation denied influencing the consultation and said it does not take part in 'lobbying activity'.
Welsh council Rhondda Cynon Taf
South Wales council Rhondda Cynon Taf was praised and moved into the Top 100 rankings after the public body removed gendered language from its HR policies.
The London council, whose Labour mayor Philip Glanville was the first in the borough to convert a same-sex civil partnership in 2014, was penalised in its 'role models' section in its application.
But new documents reveal the lengths these organisations go to in order to satisfy Stonewall's rigid requirements - including offering screenshots of employees social media posts and promising changes to internal inclusion policies.
Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish government is one of many high profile diversity applicants - who are said to have sent details of Pride events attended by the First Minister and examples of dissenting colleagues being muzzled in internal communications.
Legal changes to the Gender Recognition Act were also mooted as part of earlier applications, although Holyrood plummeted out of the top 100 rankings in Stonewall's 2020 index.
Outspoken critics have also slammed Stonewall's attempt to impose its own interpretations of sex and gender on employers.
Kate Lee, a former Stonewall volunteer who lobbied MPs for gay marriage rights, told the Times: 'It [the index] is a Ponzi scheme.
'They have invented an idea [gender identity] which they are imposing on others without their consent. You don't get acceptance by demanding compliance. Gay people are getting sick of it.'
Stonewall told MailOnline that organisations on their Top 100 Employers list are rewarded for their 'impressive work towards becoming a more inclusive workplace.'
A spokesperson for the charity said:
'Our Workplace Equality Index is a robust benchmarking tool which offers a free and voluntary way for all organisations to reflect on their own LGBTQ+ inclusion journey.
'All of the organisations who place on our Top 100 Employers list gain their ranking based on their impressive work towards becoming a more inclusive workplace, which is marked against thorough and standardised criteria.
'It is completely normal and appropriate for national charities to engage with public sector organisations to support them in making their workplaces inclusive for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer staff, and we're proud to help over 850 organisations in this work through our Diversity Champions programme.
'We're confident that the advice that we give to organisations is robust and helps to create inclusive and safe environments for everyone.
'All our guidance on the Equality Act is based on the Equality and Human Rights Commission's Equality Act Code of Practice, which was recently reaffirmed in the High Court.'
Government bodies and NHS organisations have also tried to place among the Top 100 in recent years.
Central London Community Health NHS Trust was reportedly asked to replace the word 'mother' with 'birthing parent' or 'pregnant employee' in order to receive a better ranking.
The body, which cares for more than two million patients across the capital, was also told to ensure its social media accounts 'clearly shows support for LGBT equality'.
The Trust ranked 339th in the charity's Top 100 employers of 2020.
In 2018, the Intellectual Property Office faced a barrage of questions after appearing in a Stonewall advert that urged people to complete gender self-identification forms as part of a Government consultation.
Members of the public pondered why the IPO, a government body, was taking a stance on a politicised debate.
When Stonewall revealed its Top 100 employers of 2019, the IPO had soared up to 13th place in its rankings - moving up 80 positions on the previous year.
The charity reportedly reserved special praise for the IPO's very 'public support for reform to the Gender Recognition Act' and its social media use that showed a 'commitment to LGBT equality'.
A spokesperson for the IPO told the Times it denied influencing the consultation and said it does not take part in 'lobbying activity'.
Councils across England and Wales have also clamoured to be a part of Stonewall's list, with some going as far as removing all gendered language from its policies.
Rhondda Cynon Taf, the only Welsh council to make the top 100 last year, was praised for removing 'gendered pronouns' such as 'mother' on its application.
Central London Community Health NHS Trust was asked to replace the word 'mother' with 'birthing parent' or 'pregnant employee' in its application. The Trust ranked 339th last year
Hackney Council, whose Labour mayor Philip Glanville was the first in the borough to convert a same-sex civil partnership in 2014, was penalised in its 'role models' section and told to include transgender leaders.
Chair of Sex Matters and barrister Naomi Cunningham, told The Times: 'Stonewall sells its Workplace Equality Index as a scheme to help organisations comply with equality law.
'But what it offers is lobbying '-- it presents its own highly contentious understanding of what the law should be presented as 'training' on what the law is.
'It tells organisations to treat anyone who identifies as the opposite sex as if they have changed sex, and are therefore automatically entitled to use spaces such as toilets, changing rooms and showers that others rely on for privacy.
'That's not the law.'
Alex Berenson on Twitter: "1/ THIS IS NOT OKAY. @cdcgov just posted its myocarditis/pericarditis update. They are now admitting that post-second dose risk in people under 25 could be over 200x the background rate (and that's not accounting for underrepo
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 18:18
Alex Berenson : 1/ THIS IS NOT OKAY.@cdcgov just posted its myocarditis/pericarditis update. They are now admitting that post-sec'... https://t.co/IiUmUqQpVp
Wed Jun 23 15:25:02 +0000 2021
Monetary Policy vs. Fiscal Policy: What's the Difference?
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 14:44
Monetary Policy vs. Fiscal Policy: An Overview Monetary policy and fiscal policy refer to the two most widely recognized tools used to influence a nation's economic activity. Monetary policy is primarily concerned with the management of interest rates and the total supply of money in circulation and is generally carried out by central banks, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve.>> >> Fiscal policy is a collective term for the taxing and spending actions of governments. In the United States, the national fiscal policy is determined by the executive and legislative branches of the government.
Key TakeawaysBoth monetary and fiscal policy are macroeconomic tools used to manage or stimulate the economy.Monetary policy addresses interest rates and the supply of money in circulation, and it is generally managed by a central bank.Fiscal policy addresses taxation and government spending, and it is generally determined by government legislation.Monetary policy and fiscal policy together have great influence over a nation's economy, its businesses, and its consumers. Monetary Policy Central banks typically have used monetary policy to either stimulate an economy or to check its growth. By incentivizing individuals and businesses to borrow and spend, the monetary policy aims to spur economic activity. Conversely, by restricting spending and incentivizing savings, monetary policy can act as a brake on inflation and other issues associated with an overheated economy.
The Federal Reserve, also known as the "Fed," frequently has used three different policy tools to influence the economy: open market operations, changing reserve requirements for banks and setting the discount rate. Open market operations are carried out on a daily basis when the Fed buys and sells U.S. government bonds to either inject money into the economy or pull money out of circulation.>> >> By setting the reserve ratio, or the percentage of deposits that banks are required to keep in reserve, the Fed directly influences the amount of money created when banks make loans. The Fed also can target changes in the discount rate (the interest rate it charges on loans it makes to financial institutions), which is intended to impact short-term interest rates across the entire economy.
Monetary policy is more of a blunt tool in terms of expanding and contracting the money supply to influence inflation and growth and it has less impact on the real economy. For example, the Fed was aggressive during the Great Depression. Its actions prevented deflation and economic collapse but did not generate significant economic growth to reverse the lost output and jobs.
Expansionary monetary policy can have limited effects on growth by increasing asset prices and lowering the costs of borrowing, making companies more profitable.
Monetary policy seeks to spark economic activity, while fiscal policy seeks to address either total spending, the total composition of spending, or both.
Fiscal Policy Generally speaking, the aim of most government fiscal policies is to target the total level of spending, the total composition of spending, or both in an economy. The two most widely used means of affecting fiscal policy are changes in government spending policies or in government tax policies.
If a government believes there is not enough business activity in an economy, it can increase the amount of money it spends, often referred to as stimulus spending. If there are not enough tax receipts to pay for the spending increases, governments borrow money by issuing debt securities such as government bonds and, in the process, accumulate debt. This is referred to as deficit spending.
In comparing the two, fiscal policy generally has a greater impact on consumers than monetary policy, as it can lead to increased employment and income.
By increasing taxes, governments pull money out of the economy and slow business activity. Typically, fiscal policy is used when the government seeks to stimulate the economy. It might lower taxes or offer tax rebates in an effort to encourage economic growth. Influencing economic outcomes via fiscal policy is one of the core tenets of Keynesian economics.
When a government spends money or changes tax policy, it must choose where to spend or what to tax. In doing so, government fiscal policy can target specific communities, industries, investments, or commodities to either favor or discourage production'--sometimes, its actions are based on considerations that are not entirely economic. For this reason, fiscal policy often is hotly debated among economists and political observers.
Essentially, it is targeting aggregate demand. Companies also benefit as they see increased revenues. However, if the economy is near full capacity, expansionary fiscal policy risks sparking inflation. This inflation eats away at the margins of certain corporations in competitive industries that may not be able to easily pass on costs to customers; it also eats away at the funds of people on a fixed income.
The Bottom Line Both fiscal and monetary policy play a large role in managing the economy and both have direct and indirect impacts on personal and household finances. Fiscal policy involves tax and spending decisions set by the government, and will impact individuals' tax bill or provide them with employment from government projects. Monetary policy is set by the central bank and can boost consumer spending through lower interest rates that make borrowing cheaper on everything from credit cards to mortgages.
Justice Department Sues Georgia Over Its New Voting Law : NPR
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 14:05
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division speaks during a news conference Friday announcing a lawsuit against the state of Georgia for its new voting law. Attorney General Merrick Garland is at right. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division speaks during a news conference Friday announcing a lawsuit against the state of Georgia for its new voting law. Attorney General Merrick Garland is at right.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the U.S. Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over its new voting law, saying that the controversial measure is intended to restrict ballot access to Black voters.
"Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia's election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act," Garland said at a news conference.
The lawsuit marks the first major action from the Biden administration to combat a series of new restrictive voting measures passed by Republican-led state legislatures. And it came on the eighth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to gut another key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act, Section 5.
Garland noted that Georgia experienced record voter turnout and participation in the 2020 election cycle.
In March, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 202, a 98-page omnibus measure that makes sweeping changes to the state's absentee voting rules, adds new voter identification mandates and nearly cuts in half the amount of time for voters to request a mail-in ballot. It also expands early voting access for most counties and formally codifies Sunday voting hours as optional.
The legislation outlaws passing out food or drinks to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or too close to voters waiting in line, a provision that Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who heads the department's Civil Rights Division, highlighted at the press conference.
"Historically, minority voters in Georgia have been disproportionately more likely to wait in long lines to vote in person on Election Day," she said. "Given those long and protracted wait times, civic groups, including churches, have at times provided food and water to voters in line to make their wait more comfortable. As we allege in our complaint, this needless ban was passed with unlawful discriminatory intent."
Clarke also said the Georgia Legislature passed the bill through "a rushed process that departed from normal practice and procedure."
"The version of the bill that passed the state Senate ... was three pages long. Days later, the bill ballooned into over 90 pages in the House. The House held less than two hours of floor debate on the newly inflated SB 202 before Gov. Kemp signed it into law the same day," she said. "These legislative actions occurred at a time when the Black population in Georgia continues to steadily increase, and after a historic election that saw record voter turnout across the state, particularly for absentee voting, which Black voters are now more likely to use than white voters."
Garland said the lawsuit is the first of "many steps" the department is taking to protect the right to vote for all eligible voters. He said the Civil Rights Division will continue to examine voting laws that other states have passed.
"We will not hesitate to act," Garland said.
The Justice Department announced this month it would vigorously defend voting rights. Garland said that the department will double the number of voter enfranchisement lawyers and focus attention on litigation related to voting rights.
In response to the filing, Kemp said the lawsuit is "born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia's Election Integrity Act from the start."
"[Biden and his allies] are weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out their far-left agenda that undermines election integrity and empowers federal government overreach in our democracy," he said in a statement.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another Republican who notably defended the state's administration of the 2020 election, said in a statement he "looks forward to ... beating [the administration] in court."
Garland's announcement comes just days after Senate Republicans united to block Democrats' attempts to pass sweeping voting rights legislation.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., tweeted his approval of the lawsuit shortly after the announcement Friday.
"If Republicans think the fight for voting rights ended with their filibuster of the For the People Act, they are sorely mistaken," he wrote. "Glad to see the Biden Administration is joining this effort. We must protect our democracy."
The Republican National Committee also linked the failed Senate vote to the Department of Justice's lawsuit.
"After failing to sell the partisan federal election takeover known as H.R. 1 to the American people, Joe Biden is now weaponizing the Justice Department to attack election integrity," RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
How Pandemic Savings Threaten the Economic Recovery - The Atlantic
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 13:57
For two generations, economists and other custodians of financial propriety have chastised Americans for not saving enough. Getting the public to pay attention took a pandemic. Facing a real possibility that COVID-19 and the resulting economic havoc might leave them unable to pay their mortgages and feed their families, moderate- and middle-income Americans began saving as much as they could'--and are now socking away now perhaps too much to support a healthy expansion for the U.S. economy as a whole. From April through June last year, Americans put away an astonishing 25.8 percent of their disposable income, compared with 7.3 percent over the same months in 2019. From March 2020 to April 2021, the personal saving rate averaged 18.7 percent'--the highest rate for so long a period since World War II.
As the pandemic recedes, the economy faces a serious new challenge. The personal-saving rate remains high: 14.9 percent in April and 12.4 percent in May. With large unemployment benefits and waves of free cash now starting to recede in the country's rearview mirror, the continuation of that high level of personal savings threaten a strong expansion into 2022 and 2023.
Annie Lowrey: Workers should have the power to say 'no'
To avoid an anemic recovery like the one that set the stage for Donald Trump's election in 2016, either personal-saving rates should come down or Congress should approve a lot of additional federal spending to make up for the shortfall. And if it's the latter, lawmakers should be prepared to finance those expenditures by raising revenues from companies and their investors, whose incomes and consumer spending won't be significantly affected by new taxes.
Because a dollar saved is a dollar unspent, any sudden, enormous jump in personal savings would normally devastate consumer spending and economic growth. Fortunately, both the Trump and Biden administrations managed to get the economics of the pandemic right: The United States averted a sustained economic catastrophe by pumping up people's incomes with emergency payouts while saving rates were soaring.
By my calculations, Americans who lost their job during the pandemic have received more than $600 billion in added benefits, and the three rounds of government checks put about $900 billion in the pockets of 90 percent of American households, whether their members were unemployed or not, from April 2020 to March 2021. So, despite the massive drain on economic demand from over-the-top savings, GDP and total employment nose-dived only during the second quarter of last year, when much of the economy abruptly shut down.
On top of the massive government transfers, people's sky-high additional saving has also drawn on the fact that most Americans' paychecks kept growing despite the pandemic. Monthly personal-income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show that Americans' total wage and salary earnings have risen month after month since last spring. In November, total wage and salary income in the United States exceeded its pre-pandemic level. This is remarkable, given that in recent months the number of Americans with a job remains lower than pre-pandemic levels. But for people who remained employed, wages and salaries kept growing through the pandemic; median hourly wages have risen at an average annualized rate of at least 3.3 percent every month since March 2020. These gains are not limited to the most privileged workers. In fact, people with a high-school diploma or less, minorities, women, and people living in rural areas have all seen their hourly median earnings increase at an annualized rate of at least 3 percent throughout the pandemic.
The final result is that even with GDP and job numbers cratering in the second quarter of 2020 and the highest saving rates in 75 years, the growth in personal incomes from all sources'--including checks from the government'--accelerated a lot during the pandemic. Total personal income increased by $1.4 trillion, or 7.6 percent, from March 2020 to February 2021, when the country finally began to squelch COVID-19. Those income gains far outpaced the 4.4 percent average annual income growth from 2015 to 2019.
To be sure, GDP expanded at a 6.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year, its best quarterly performance in 18 years. However, this strong growth was propelled by the second and third rounds of government checks and the two extensions of the expanded jobless benefits.
Some warning signs are already evident in the latest data. Gains in total wage and salary income have slowed since late last year. This slowdown happened even as unemployed Americans found new jobs in increasing numbers. Another worrisome sign: The latest data for May show personal income down 2 percent and consumer spending flat.
To head off a lackluster expansion, something will have to change. The large ongoing infrastructure investments proposed by the Biden administration would do the job. They should provide decent stimulus for job and income gains as well as higher productivity for the long term'--just what the U.S. economy needs.
Read: Bidenomics is really something new
This solution does come with a caveat. A recovery buoyed by large public investments also will depend on convincing financial markets that Washington will cover the new, ongoing costs. Otherwise, interest rates will increase'--rising sharply if higher inflation persists'--and so weaken the expansion. But corporations and their shareholders can carry the burden of those costs without undermining consumer spending and growth in any meaningful way. Investors can also afford it: On June 25, 2020, the S&P 500 closed at 3,083.76; precisely one year later, it closed at 4,280.70. Investors have gained 39 percent over the past 12 months'--more than 10 times the rate of increase in median wages and salaries.
Support for healthy growth also could come from people simply deciding to save less and spend down some of the personal savings they have amassed since March 2020. During World War II, Americans saved an average of 22.5 percent of their disposable income; once the war ended, the rate fell, to 11.8 percent in 1946 and 6.3 percent in 1947. It could happen again if Millennials, Generation Xers, and the Boomers still in the workforce behave as their grandparents and great-grandparents did 75 years ago.
The most likely scenario is that personal-saving rates will come down but remain abnormally high. In that case, the government can try to nudge people to spend more and save less'--and help the climate in the bargain. For example, Congress could extend the tax credit for solar panels for a few years and expand it to include all home improvements that save energy. Congress also could provide a tax credit for purchasing any electric vehicle during the next two years.
Annie Lowrey: Stop worrying about budget deficits
But is a slower economy a reasonable price to pay to boost the savings of moderate- and middle-income Americans? In the first quarter of 2021, the net assets of the bottom half of all households totaled $2.6 trillion'--57 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2019. Similarly, the net assets of the next 40 percent of American households totaled $36.5 trillion in the first quarter of this year'--20 percent more than two years earlier. But maintaining high savings comes with a caveat, because a slower economic expansion also means slower income growth for most people, which would affect their net wealth.
It's awkward for a card-carrying economist to urge people to save less. But Americans of late have been saving not to finance their kids' education or their own retirement; they've been saving as a precaution against the possibility that the pandemic might ravage their lifestyle. All of that saving didn't capsize the economy only because Washington stepped in with checks for nearly everybody. Because those are ending now, along with the worst of the pandemic, Americans can support a strong economy by saving only for their future needs and not out of fear. And if the government steps up with some additional spending, the result will be strong economic growth and healthy income gains'--which also happen to be the preconditions for higher savings in normal times.
Tesla to 'recall' nearly 300,000 China-made Model 3 and Model Y vehicles
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 12:41
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Chinese regulators said on Saturday Tesla would 'recall' nearly 300,000 China-made and imported Model 3 and Model Y cars for an online software update related to assisted driving.Owners are not required to return their vehicles, as it would be a remote online software 'recall.' Visitors looking at a China-made Tesla Model Y electric vehicle at the Auto Shanghai 2021 show in Shanghai, China, on April 27, 2021.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Chinese regulators said on Saturday Tesla would 'recall' nearly 300,000 China-made and imported Model 3 and Model Y cars for an online software update related to assisted driving, with owners not required to return their vehicles.
The State Administration for Market Regulation said on its website that the move is linked to an assisted driving function in the electric cars, which can currently be activated by drivers accidentally, causing sudden acceleration.
The remote online software 'recall' '-- a first for Tesla cars built in China '-- covers 249,855 China-made Model 3 and Model Y cars, and 35,665 imported Model 3 sedans.
Tesla, now making Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport-utility vehicles in Shanghai, sold 33,463 China-made electric cars in May, according to industry data.
Sydney lockdown: Australia's biggest city heading into two-week hard lockdown to contain Delta coronavirus outbreak - CNN
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 12:37
(CNN) Sydney will enter a hard two-week lockdown on Saturday night local time as authorities try to contain a fast-spreading outbreak of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant in Australia's largest city, the state leader said.
More than a million people in downtown Sydney and the city's eastern suburbs were already under lockdown due to the outbreak, but health authorities said they needed to expand that after more Covid-19 cases were recorded, with exposure sites increasing beyond the initial areas of concern.
The lockdown, announced by New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian, will also include the regions of Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong, which surround Sydney.
The curbs on Sydney, home to more than 5 million people, are the latest in a streak of short but hard lockdowns that have been imposed in Australia's cities in recent months to fight small outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Court Rules Facebook Can Be Liable for Sex Trafficking Recruitment
Sat, 26 Jun 2021 04:59
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that Facebook can be held liable for sex trafficking recruitment. Facebook argued that it should not be held liable because it is shielded by Section 230. A recent report found most online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases in 2020 was on Facebook. Loading Something is loading.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Facebook can be held liable for sex traffickers that use its platform to recruit and prey on child victims.
As the Houston Chronicle reported, the ruling followed three local lawsuits involving teenage victims who had met their traffickers through Facebook's messaging tools. The plaintiffs said Facebook was negligent and did not attempt to key sex trafficking off its technology.
Facebook has argued that it is shielded by the protections of Section 230 '-- part of an internet law that states online platforms are not liable for what people post on their services '-- and should therefore not be held responsible for what is posted on its platform.
But the Texas Supreme Court said Section 230 doesn't mean Facebook can operate as a "lawless no-man's-land," as the Chronicle reported.
"Holding internet platforms accountable for the words or actions of their users is one thing, and the federal precedent uniformly dictates that section 230 does not allow it," the majority of the court said, per the Chronicle. "Holding internet platforms accountable for their own misdeeds is quite another thing. This is particularly the case for human trafficking."
Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider's request or comment.
Section 230 has become the focus of conversations surrounding moderation on internet platforms. Many have called for tech companies to be treated as publishers, since news outlets are alternatively held liable for what they post online.
Online recruitment for sex trafficking victims has surged over the years, and a recent report from the Human Trafficking Institute found that most online recruitment in active cases last year occurred on Facebook.
"The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites," Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros told CBS News earlier this month. "Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims in active sex trafficking cases."
Did John McAfee Hide Files at Collapsed Miami Building? | Snopes.com
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 22:37
On June 24, 2021, software pioneer John McAfee was found dead in his prison cell, hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the United States to face various charges of tax evasion. After news broke, a number of conspiracy theories started to circulate online. Some claimed, for instance, that McAfee's ''$WHACKD'' tattoo indicated that the software pioneer did not take his own life. (You can read more about the tattoo here.) Some social media users also attempted to use McAfee's death to turn a tragic incident '-- the collapse of a condo near Miami Beach, Florida, that has left at least four people dead and more than a hundred more missing '-- into a conspiracy theory.
On Twitter, an image supposedly showing a message McAfee posted on June 8, 2021, was circulated with claims that Champlain Towers had been intentionally demolished to destroy files McAfee had hidden there. This claim was also attached to another message that claimed McAfee's alleged son, Pat McAfee, had an office at this building.
There is no evidence to support these claims.
The above-displayed tweet does not appear on McAfee's timeline and appears to have been doctored. And while McAfee previously claimed that he had fathered 47 children, there are very few details to back up this assertion. Regardless, there doesn't appear to be any record of John McAfee having a son named ''Pat McAfee.'' The person of this name who may be most familiar to American audiences, sports analyst Pat McAfee, is not McAfee's son and has already confirmed on Twitter that he does not have a condo in Florida.
We were unable to find any record of the above-displayed alleged tweet, which reads ''If anything ever happens to me, please know that 31TB of files I have are located on hard drives in my condo near 88th Street and Collins Avenue Just north of Miami Beach,'' on McAfee's Twitter timeline. We were also unable to find any retweets or quote tweets of this message directing back to a deleted link.
It's also highly unlikely that this message was posted and subsequently deleted from McAfee's account. Not only is there no trace of the original URL, but after McAfee's death, social media users archived hundreds of tweets that had been posted by McAfee, presumably because they thought the account could be deleted. We looked over those tweets on Archive.is and found no record of a message from McAfee saying that he hid files in the building that collapsed in Florida.
It should also be noted that there's no reason at present to suggest that the building in Surfside, Florida was intentionally ''demolished.'' While an exact cause has not yet been determined, officials noted that there was no evidence of foul play.
The Miami Herald reported on one possible cause for the building's collapse:
Greg Batista, a professional engineer from Davie who specializes in concrete repair projects, said that after watching the Surfside condo tower collapsing to rubble in online videos, one potential structural flaw jumped out at him.
''Concrete spalling.'' Here's what it means.
Batista said that when salt water seeps into porous concrete, it causes the reinforced steel rods known as rebar in the support beams to rust and expand. In turn, the expansion breaks up the concrete and that weakens the beams.
As of this writing, the only connection between McAfee's death and the building collapse in Florida is that they both took place in June 2021. McAfee did not tweet that he was storing files in the building, and the claim that his alleged son ''Pat McAffee'' owned a condo in the building appears to have been conjured out of thin air.
Hacker Reveals Smart Meters Are Spilling Secrets About Texas Snowstorm
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 21:57
Power companies across Texas have refused to disclose which areas of the state were exempt from controlled blackouts after a devastating snowstorm crippled the power grid in February'--but one hacker has found that smart meters, the electrical devices on the sides of homes and businesses that monitor energy consumption, are quietly broadcasting data that could be used to determine what infrastructure may have been protected.
In the days following the historic freeze, companies tied to the state's privately-run grid were met with pressing questions from citizens and lawmakers alike over how it was decided who would and who wouldn't be plunged into darkness.
A Dallas-based hardware hacker and security researcher known as Hash first noticed one such refusal in early March from Austin Energy, a publicly-owned utility provider in the Texas capital.
Hash Austin Energy has continually argued that disclosing what infrastructure it allowed to remain operational, such as hospitals and 911 call centers, could make the city and by extension its more than 1 million residents vulnerable to cyberattacks.
''We are not able to provide that information since it's protected critical infrastructure information,'' Austin Energy spokeswoman Calily Bien told the Austin American-Statesman at the time.
Yet Hash, who has been reverse-engineering the inner-workings of smart meters since 2016, says the argument contains one major flaw: Smart meters used by Austin Energy and other power companies throughout Texas quietly emit data that shows how long businesses and residences have gone since their last power outage. Such information could potentially reveal whose power was shut off and whose wasn't.
Hash's discovery was made following extensive analysis of smart meters produced by Landis+Gyr, a multinational corporation that develops both smart meters and related software for electricity and gas utilities.
Hash From his home workshop, complete with an array of smart meter components purchased from eBay, Hash spent weeks in the wake of the snowstorm collecting, analyzing, and deciphering the data streams that travel across the massive smart meter network blanketing Dallas.
Hash noticed a sudden change in the data values given off by the smart meters in his neighborhood as power was being restored following the snowstorm. Analyzing the data further, Hash determined that the readings represented the number of seconds each smart meter had been operating since coming back online.
Many utility providers offer customers access to smart phone apps that detail their home's power usage statistics, including any periods when no electricity was used. Several days after the power to his mother's home was restored, Hash compared the data from the app to the data being broadcasted by the smart meter on the home. The uptime listed by the smart meter, a little over five days, matched perfectly down to the minute with the amount of time that had passed since the power at his mother's home came back on.
In a technique known as war driving, Hash'--complete with a laptop in the passenger seat and antennas on the hood of his vehicle'--reproduced his findings on a larger scale in late May. Driving along a 30-mile stretch of U.S. Route 75 from Dallas to the city of McKinney, Hash was able to siphon data off of more than 7,000 smart meters operated by Oncor, the largest energy delivery company in the state. Like Austin Energy, Oncor, which has also declined to release outage data from the snowstorm, uses smart meters produced by Landis+Gyr.
Video posted by Hash to YouTube shows the data from the drive laid out over Google Maps. Represented by red dots, each smart meter operated by Oncor reveals how many days have passed since its last outage as well as its GPS coordinates and unique meter ID. The higher off the ground the dot is, the longer the smart meter has gone without a significant power interruption.
One smart meter highlighted by Hash, which appears to be connected to a Chase Bank, had been running continuously for 1,783 days, or nearly five years, as of late May. The uptime listed by other smart meters clearly showed that they had last regained power in the aftermath of the snowstorm.
Hash's own experience during the catastrophic weather event, which may have killed four to five times more people than the 151 deaths acknowledged by the state, is what ultimately prompted him to bring his discovery forward.
''I seriously wondered whether it was going to be Armageddon around here as we froze inside my house,'' Hash told the Daily Dot. ''It definitely scared me and made me realize that no one cares more about my well being than me.''
An armageddon-like scenario was much closer than many realized at the time. A March report from the Wall Street Journal revealed that the electric grid ''came within five minutes of a complete collapse'' after backup generators designed to revive it were knocked out of commission. Such a catastrophe, according to grid operators, ''could have caused weeks or even months of outages.''
Hash In a statement to the Daily Dot, a representative with Oncor declined to address Hash's findings and instead defended the company's smart meters as ''safe, secure and encrypted.''
''We take a proactive approach to data security and have a dedicated team of experts continuously monitoring and ready to address any possible issues,'' the spokesperson said. ''We also work closely with leading information technology experts to develop best practices and ensure safe and secure services for our customers.''
Being just one man, Hash has only been able to capture smart meter data across a small portion of Dallas, representing only a fraction of the information many are seeking throughout the state. Hash's meter-scanning techniques also only apply to devices being operated by a handful of power companies using products from Landis+Gyr. And as new power outages occur, information broadcasted by the smart meters about their uptime no longer reflect the time period from the snowstorm. Nonetheless, Hash says his ongoing work raises serious questions given the refusal by both private and public groups to provide outage data'--especially in light of allegations that minority populations were more likely to experience power loss regardless of income.
A recent study published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Colorado School of Mines, and University of Massachusetts-Amherst asserted that minority areas were over four times as likely to suffer from an energy blackout than white-majority areas.
''Income status of areas did not appear to be a strong factor in the share of blackouts'...'' the study stated. ''The presence of hospitals or police and fire stations'--critical facilities'--in a CBG [Census block group] reduces the chances of blackouts by around 0%-6%, a small difference that does not otherwise explain the disparity among communities.''
Matthew T Rader (CC-BY-SA) When asked by the Daily Dot for access to outage data, Austin Energy once again stated that its information was exempt from public disclosure due to ''security concerns.'' The company also claimed that its smart meter network was ''not open to the public'' when presented with Hash's analysis.
''We understand the security landscape is getting more complicated and therefore, we're continually looking at areas where we can provide additional security measures,'' the spokesperson said. ''Creating a smarter, safer grid is always at the forefront of our operations.''
Hash argues that the corporate secrecy surrounding smart meters, which discourages ethical security researchers such as himself from probing the devices for vulnerabilities, makes the public significantly less safe.
With malicious hackers breaching everything from fuel pipelines to water treatment facilities, Hash fears a day when smart meters become the next piece of critical infrastructure to be targeted by brazen ransomware gangs.
Hash ''I think people expect companies to do the right thing but forget the right thing to them is shareholder value,'' Hash said. ''If we want a secure system that's resilient against attack then it must be openly attacked, otherwise nothing will be done.''
Landis+Gyr, the company which designed the smart meters used by Austin Energy, Oncor, and countless other power providers across the globe, did not respond to repeated inquiries from the Daily Dot.
Hash is now encouraging his fellow hardware hackers to take an interest in smart meters as well, publishing a wiki online that details how his discoveries were made. And although power companies are remaining tight-lipped, Hash says he is increasingly being contacted by both former and current power company employees regarding his analysis.
Continuing his work, Hash is now analyzing the smart meter mechanism responsible for remotely disconnecting a home's power. If vulnerable, Hash warns, such a discovery in the wrong hands could potentially lead to devastating outcomes similar to those seen during the snowstorm.
This week's top technology stories
Chris Abraham on Twitter: "Crossing fingers! Anyone (besides the FBI) go grab em? https://t.co/giq4AjwfKJ" / Twitter
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 20:16
Chris Abraham : Crossing fingers! Anyone (besides the FBI) go grab em? https://t.co/giq4AjwfKJ
Fri Jun 25 19:46:46 +0000 2021
Delta Variant Outbreak in Israel Infects Vaccinated Adults - WSJ
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 15:26
Government reimposes indoor mask requirement in light of preliminary findings
Updated June 25, 2021 9:15 am ETTEL AVIV'--About half of adults infected in an outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Israel were fully inoculated with the Pfizer Inc. vaccine, prompting the government to reimpose an indoor mask requirement and other measures to contain the highly transmissible strain.
Preliminary findings by Israeli health officials suggest about 90% of the new infections were caused by the Delta variant, according to Ran Balicer, who leads an expert advisory panel on Covid-19 for the government. Around half of the adults who were infected...
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TEL AVIV'--About half of adults infected in an outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Israel were fully inoculated with the Pfizer Inc. vaccine, prompting the government to reimpose an indoor mask requirement and other measures to contain the highly transmissible strain.
Preliminary findings by Israeli health officials suggest about 90% of the new infections were caused by the Delta variant, according to Ran Balicer, who leads an expert advisory panel on Covid-19 for the government. Around half of the adults who were infected were fully vaccinated, he said. Israel is now reassessing its Covid-19 regulations after moving to open up its society and economy after multiple lockdowns last year.
''The entrance of the delta variant has changed the transition dynamics,'' said Prof. Balicer, who is also the chief innovation officer for Israel's largest health-management organization, Clalit.
The Delta variant, which first emerged in India in late 2020 and is also known as B.1.617.2, has now been detected in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., public-health experts expect it to soon become the dominant strain.
Israeli health officials are optimistic that even if the variant does spread, evidence from countries such as the U.K. show the vaccine will prevent a large increase in severe illness and hospitalizations that plagued the country's health system in previous outbreaks.
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The number of cases in Israel is relatively low by global standards. New cases of Covid-19 rose to over 200 on Thursday from around 10 a day for most of June.
Those exempt from the mask requirement included children under seven, people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask or two workers that work regularly together. The government had canceled the indoor mask requirement 10 days ago and dropped most other preventive measures after running one of the world's fastest vaccination campaigns. More than 85% of Israeli adults have been inoculated with two doses of the vaccine that was developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE .
Israel was an early test case for the effectiveness of the vaccine after outbreaks last year at one point gave it one of the world's highest per-capita infection rates. Since the start of the pandemic, 840,522 of the country's 9.3 millions citizens have been infected, of which 6,429 died.
The latest spike in infections was first identified among schoolchildren in a town in central Israel earlier this week, but has quickly spread geographically and to other groups of the population. The government earlier this week recommended that all 12- to 15-year-olds be vaccinated to protect against the Delta variant.
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Israeli health officials said the highly contagious strain had likely entered the country through its main international airport near Tel Aviv, where a system meant to vet every new arrival through testing was overloaded in recent days amid a surge in foreign travel.
On Wednesday, the government delayed allowing foreign nationals to enter into the country for tourism from July 1 to Aug. 1 and reimposed a mask requirement inside airports.
''Our goal at the moment, first and foremost, is to safeguard the citizens of Israel from the Delta variant that is running amok in the world,'' Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday.
Corrections & Amplifications About half of adults infected in an outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Israel were fully inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said about half of people infected in the outbreak were fully inoculated. (Corrected on June 25)
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Supreme Court sides with teen in speech case over Snapchat outburst - POLITICO
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 15:11
''F--- school, f----softball, f--- cheer, f---everything,'' Levy wrote in her 2017 message, which prompted a one-year suspension from the cheerleading program.
Writing for the nearly unanimous court, Justice Stephen Breyer said the Mahanoy Area School District went too far in trying to punish Levy for the fairly mundane, if crude, post.
''We can find no evidence in the record of the sort of 'substantial disruption' of a school activity or a threatened harm to the rights of others that might justify the school's action,'' Breyer wrote. ''Rather, the record shows that discussion of the matter took, at most, 5 to 10 minutes of an Algebra class 'for just a couple of days' and that some members of the cheerleading team were 'upset' about the content of [Levy's] Snapchats.''
The court explicitly declined to issue ''a broad, highly general rule'' or bright-line test, but Breyer said it would be dangerous to give schools unfettered permission to police student speech both on and off campus.
''Courts must be more skeptical of a school's efforts to regulate off-campus speech, for doing so may mean the student cannot engage in that kind of speech at all. When it comes to political or religious speech that occurs outside school or a school program or activity, the school will have a heavy burden to justify intervention,'' Breyer added.
With some liberals wary that overly broad speech protections could allow for intimidation of students who are members of racial minorities, or LGBTQ, Breyer suggested that educators can take action against some off-campus speech.
The Bill Clinton appointee included on that list: ''serious or severe bullying or harassment targeting particular individuals; threats aimed at teachers or other students; the failure to follow rules concerning lessons, the writing of papers, the use of computers, or participation in other online school activities; and breaches of school security devices, including material maintained within school computers.''
Justice Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenter. He argued that Breyer's opinion ignored precedent and was too vague to provide guidance for future cases.
''The Court's foundation is untethered from anything stable, and courts (and schools) will almost certainly be at a loss as to what exactly the Court's opinion today means,'' Thomas warned.
During oral arguments in April, Justice Brett Kavanaugh '-- an ardent sports fan and longtime girls' basketball coach '-- sounded anguished about the school's decision to kick Levy out of cheerleading for a year over a fleeting outburst. He said it is hard to overestimate the significance to a youngster of not making a varsity team.
''It's so important to their lives,'' Kavanaugh said. ''Coaches sweat the cuts, and it guts coaches to have to cut kids who are on the bubble. '... A year suspension just seems excessive to me.''
However, Thomas' dissent Wednesday suggested that the justices' view that the school overreacted colored the court's judgment.
''The discipline here '-- a 1-year suspension from the team '-- may strike some as disproportionate,'' the George H.W. Bush appointee wrote. ''But that does not matter for our purposes.''
''Disproportionate discipline 'can be challenged by parents in the political process,''' Thomas added. ''But the majority and the parties provide no textual or historical evidence to suggest that federal courts generally can police the proportionality of school disciplinary decisions in the name of the First Amendment.''
While all the justices but Thomas joined Breyer's opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion that Justice Neil Gorsuch joined.
Alito's opinion repeatedly inveighed against granting schools permission to impose a ''heckler's veto,'' by invoking the hurt feelings of other students to justify punishing speech on or off campus.
''Speech cannot be suppressed just because it expresses thoughts or sentiments that others find upsetting,'' Alito wrote.
The school district had asked the high court to reverse an appeals court decision in favor of Levy. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the school violated Levy's First Amendment right to free speech because the landmark 1969 ruling on K-12 student expression, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, does not give officials power to regulate speech that occurs off campus and outside of school programs.
The nation's second largest teachers union and education groups representing school boards, principals and superintendents, in an amicus brief, had urged the high court to side with the school district. The groups wanted justices to ''reaffirm that the nation's public schools retain the authority to discipline students, as warranted, for off campus student speech that threatens to interfere improperly with school operations.''
They argued that the 3rd Circuit's ''stark line between off-campus and on-campus speech is untenable'' because of social media. They also pointed at the past year of online classes across the country due to the pandemic.
The National School Board Association, which represents more than 90,000 school board members across the country, touted the decision as a win for schools. In the decision, the high court clarified that schools do have some ability to regulate off-campus speech and didn't take the hard-line approach as the circuit court did, said Francisco Negron, NSBA's chief legal officer in an interview. School districts were most concerned over whether they would have the ability to control online bullying or harassment that happens off campus.
''The Third Circuit had really curtailed what schools understood to be the boundaries of Tinker,'' Negron said.
''In this case, what the court said is that there are certain circumstances where the school district can and is authorized to regulate off campus speech,'' he added. ''There is no sort of bright line between off campus and off campus speech.''
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten also lauded the opinion, saying ''the court made a wise decision in favor of the student.''
''While off-campus speech by students can be the subject of discipline when threats or bullying are involved, there must be a higher standard when the speech occurs outside of school,'' she said.
Drug firms giving MPs 'hidden' funding, research shows | Pharmaceuticals industry | The Guardian
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 13:38
Drug companies are giving groups of MPs and peers that campaign on health issues hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in ''hidden'' funding that could hand them ''undue influence'', research has found.
The pharmaceutical industry has built up a ''hidden web of policy influence'' over dozens of all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) at Westminster by making hundreds of ''non-transparent'' payments to them, as part of the industry's wider effort to lobby those in power, researchers claim.
The findings raise questions about the independence of APPGs, the voluntary special interest cross-party groups of members of both houses of parliament that seek to influence ministers and government departments through reports, inquiries and meetings at Westminster.
Fifty-eight APPGs focusing on different aspects of health received 468 payments totalling just under £2.2m in direct and indirect funding from pharmaceutical firms between 2012 and 2018, academics from the University of Bath found. APPGs receive no money from parliament to support their activities, which often involve ministers being questioned and being sent reports.
''In the context of health-related APPGs, payments from the pharmaceutical industry represent institutional conflicts of interest as they create circumstances where the primary interest, policymaking in the interests of public health, is at risk of being unduly influenced by he secondary interest, the pharmaceutical industry's goal of maximising profits'', the authors conclude, in a paper published on Thursday evening in the medical journal PLOS One.
Drug companies can use their close relationship with APPGs to contribute to their inquiries, argue for policies that favour their commercial interests and have that reflected in reports, all without the public knowing about those links, according to Emily Rickard and Dr Piotr Ozieranski, from Bath University's department of social and policy sciences.
They uncovered the long history of funding by examining parliament's register of APPGs and drug company payment disclosure reports. Both sources contain information about big pharma's funding of APPGs, and also its financing of health charities, which often act as the secretariat for APPGs. But the details given were often vague, incomplete and hard to understand, the authors said.
Their research found:
16 health-related APPGs received 168 payments from 35 drug firms worth £1.2m in 2012-18 '' one-sixth of their total funding
Two APPGs, on health and cancer, accepted more than £600,000 in that time
50 health-focused APPGs received almost another £1m in 304 payments from patient organisations or health charities, which themselves take sums of money from big pharma
''We are not attacking any APPG or alleging any impropriety. However, there is a dilemma. The APPGs are a key part of policymaking and it is clear that corporate money is entering the APPG bloodstream'', Rickard and Ozieranski told the Guardian.
''Something must be done to mitigate against potential influence which normal citizens or NGOs won't be able to exert.''
The revelations led to calls for greater openness about where APPG funding comes from.
''APPGs have an important role to play in holding the government to account and shaping policy by bringing together voices from across the political spectrum and from a range of stakeholders'', said Dr John Chisholm, the chair of the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee.
''However, it is vitally important that there is full transparency around who is behind these groups and what is driving their calls for change. This is especially important for the development of health policy, which must be underpinned by the principle of improving the health of the population, and not risk being swayed by other conflicting interests.''
Justin Madders, a shadow health minister, said: ''It is hugely concerning if big pharma and other vested interests are using the cover of these groups, which were set up with the best of intentions, to circumvent the normal rules on probity and transparency.
''There is a need for clearer rules on funding and conflicts of interest to ensure important health issues are not used as a vehicle to push private interests.''
But Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, a Labour peer and the treasurer of the all-party parliamentary health group, countered that APPGs' lack of funding from parliament left them reliant on external organisations.
''APPGs need a lot of support to be run effectively. There is no funding available so its inevitable that outside organisations are asked to fund'', he said.
''In these circumstances it is an imperative on the parliamentarians who serve as honorary officers to make sure that financial sponsors do not improperly influence the outcome of APPG work.
''That is certainly the case with the APPG on health, where the sponsors come nowhere near our decisions on programmes.''
'Huge victory': Judge names members of Fulton election board in lawsuit; ballot audit will proceed | Just The News
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 13:25
The Facts Inside Our Reporter's NotebookAn order handed down by a Georgia judge today named several individual members of a county elections board as respondents in an election-related lawsuit, clearing the way for an intensive audit of 2020 absentee ballots in Georgia's largest county.
Superior Court Judge Brian Amero in a Thursday ruling dismissed several claims brought against governmental entities of Fulton County on sovereign immunity grounds, but he allowed the five members of Fulton County's Board of Registration and Elections to be named in the suit.
"Sovereign immunity" is a legal doctrine that holds that governmental parties are protected from many or most forms of lawsuits. In Amero's ruling, he notes that Georgia law stipulates that ''no suit alleging violations of due process or equal protection rights under the Georgia Constitution, that seek declaratory or injunctive relief, may be initiated against either the state or county,'' barring a waiver from the state legislature or the state constitution.
Yet even as he dismissed the government parties in the suit, Amero subsequently moved to add the five members of Fulton's elections board as parties pursuant to a request from the petitioners in the case.
Bob Cheeley, an Atlanta-area lawyer serving as the lead attorney for two of the petitioners, told Just the News that the filing will help the complainants "get an audit and get to the truth" and that the audit will move forward following the decision.
''This is a huge victory for everyone who wants to get to the truth about the way in which Fulton County mishandled the absentee ballot count,'' he said on Thursday evening.
Fulton County did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday evening.
Forget BMI '' here's the new formula to measure health
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 12:51
At some point, you'll probably have worked out your BMI. Body mass index, calculated by dividing your weight in kg by your height in metres squared, is the formula used by the NHS to diagnose obesity, and by clinicians and researchers to predict a person's risk of all manner of health conditions, from anorexia to diabetes and Covid.
But is it doing more harm than good? A large body of research now suggests it is an outdated and ineffective way to measure how your weight affects your health. In April, the Women and Equalities Committee called for BMI to be scrapped, describing it as a ''dangerous'' obesity strategy which triggers eating disorders, and has led to ''a rise in body image anxiety''. Many experts argue that it is a blunt tool, a rough guide which is flawed by the fact it does not distinguish between fat and muscle '' so while useful in epidemiological research, on an individual level it can see healthy people misdiagnosed as overweight or obese, and vice versa.
It's now widely established that body shape, and particularly how big your waist is, is a strong predictor of health problems. A new metric to measure obesity called ABSI (a body shape index) '' which takes into account age, sex, weight, height and waist circumference '' is looking like a more effective tool. In May, a study by the Universities of Glasgow and Newcastle, found that measuring ABSI alongside BMI was a better predictor of people's risk of bowel, lung and liver cancer.
I've long been suspicious of BMI, as someone whose weight dances a kilo either side of what it considers ''normal'' and ''overweight''. Being in the overweight category never felt accurate to me: I've got a narrow-ish waist and an above average amount of muscle from vigorous exercise since my days of rowing at university.
My BMI is currently 25.1, which is classed as overweight, but according to ABSI I am in fine fettle. I type my numbers into an online calculator and score 0.067, which puts me in the healthiest category, with a ''very low'' risk of health complications resulting from excess body fat.
From the beginning, BMI was never intended to be a way to measure a healthy weight. It was invented by a mathematician in the mid-19th century as a way to describe the growth spurts that happen after birth and puberty.
ABSI, on the other hand, was designed from the outset as a way to predict disease risk. Its inclusion of waist circumference is important because while research suggests that fat on your bottom or thighs may be neutral or even beneficial for health, fat around your middle is more dangerous, and is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes, dementia and heart disease.
Studies have shown that ABSI is much better at predicting the risk of diseases and early death than either BMI or just waist circumference alone.
Including your waist circumference not only helps to estimate where you store fat, but also your ratio of fat to muscle. For example, if your weight remains the same, but you start lifting weights and building muscle, then your waist size is likely to drop as you lose fat from around your middle. However, your BMI would remain the same, despite you becoming healthier. ''If a man has really strong muscle then they might have a high weight, so their BMI might say they are obese but actually they're really healthy in the amount of fat [they carry] and where they carry it,'' says Dr Mengmeng Ji, an obesity researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
A 2008 study by the Mayo Clinic looked at the height, weight and body fat percentages of a group of more than13,000 people, to determine how well BMI diagnosed obesity as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO): having over 35 per cent body fat for women, or 25 per cent for men.
While 31 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men in the study were classed as obese by their BMI, more than twice that number were obese by their proportion of body fat. In other words: BMI only managed to spot half of the obese people in the study, and gave the other half a false sense of security about the state of their health. Researchers concluded that the accuracy of BMI is limited ''particularly for individuals in the intermediate BMI ranges''. In short: it is very accurate for those at the high end of the spectrum, but in the middle it's a lot patchier. ''BMI is a crude measure for fat distribution, which is more related to actual obesity,'' says Ji.
The study also found that the accuracy of BMI is worse as you get older '' you may stay the same weight as when you were young, but with less muscle and more fat.
Another study published in 2016 compared 40,000 people's BMIs with specific measurements of health such as insulin resistance, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Nearly half of those whose BMIs diagnosed them as overweight were metabolically healthy by those measures.
Critics also point out that BMI was designed and validated mainly on white men, and body compositions and corresponding thresholds for disease risk can vary according to gender and ethnicity. For example, for people with South Asian heritage, a healthy BMI is considered as between 18.5 and 23, rather than up to 25 for people with a European background.
There are problems, too, in the way that BMI is applied. The report from the Women and Equalities Committee found that health problems in overweight and obese people are often not investigated or diagnosed as well as the same complaint in a ''normal'' weight person, with doctors too often simply blaming problems on their size. They also found issues with how GPs use BMI to diagnose eating disorders, with some patients told that they were too heavy to get help '' an illogical and dangerous thing to tell someone with anorexia or bulimia.
Ji says she expects BMI to dwindle and ABSI to get more popular, though she says that the latter is still not perfect: ''If you really want to use a number to show health or excessive fat you still need to use a machine to detect fat percentage and specifically where it is,'' she says.
Sir David Haslam, a GP, obesity expert, and former chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, agrees that any one index will never be enough to measure someone's state of health. ''ABSI is edging forward from just plain and simple BMI, but nevertheless I object to a number telling me how healthy my patient is when there's so much more to consider,'' he says.
He says that while a BMI of 24 might put someone in the ''normal'' category, he looks out for other symptoms like being pale or short of breath, which could be markers of poor metabolic health. ''What you actually need to do is assess someone with your eyeballs,'' he says.
''It's the person in front of you that matters'', he says. ''Patients object to just being a number.''
The new way to tell if you're overweightTo calculate your ABSI, a good online calculator can be found at: fatcalc.com/absi
For a more basic reading, you can measure your waist with a tape measure. According to the British Heart Foundation, a healthy waist circumference is 31.5in or less for women or 37in or below for men, whatever your age. For men from South Asian, Chinese, Japanese or Afro-Caribbean heritage, this should be 35.4in or less. Be aware that this doesn't take your height into account, so it won't be as accurate if you are very tall or very short.
Florida condo collapse: Death toll rises, 159 missing - Chicago Tribune
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 12:41
SURFSIDE, FLA. '-- Officials say there are still 159 people unaccounted for after the partial collapse of a beachside building in Florida.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava noted Friday that rescue officials were still searching for survivors from the condo building collapse in Surfside, saying that a search and rescue mission was ongoing.
Raide Jadallah, an assistant Miami-Dade County fire chief, said rescue operations continued throughout the night. He said that 130 firefighters are working at the site.
Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said they are working with the medical examiner's office to identify the four victims.
The Champlain Towers South drew people from around the globe to enjoy life on South Florida's Atlantic Coast, some for a night, some to live. A couple from Argentina and their young daughter. A beloved retired Miami-area teacher and his wife. Orthodox Jews from Russia. Israelis. The sister of Paraguay's first lady. Others from South America.
Much of the Champlain's beach side sheared off for unknown reasons, pancaking into a pile of concrete and metal more than 30 feet (10 meters) high.
Three bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight, bringing the death toll to four, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on ''Good Morning America'' Friday. Officials feared that number could skyrocket. Eleven injuries were reported, with four people treated at hospitals.
''These are very difficult times, and things are going to get more difficult as we move forward,'' Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said.
Fire Rescue personnel and others worked through the night in hopes of finding survivors.
State Sen. Jason Pizzo of Miami Beach told the Miami Herald he watched as tactical teams of six worked early Friday to sift through the debris. He said he saw one body taken in a yellow body bag and another that was marked. They were taken to a homicide unit tent that was set up along the beach.
Many people remained at the reunification center set up near the collapse site early Friday morning, awaiting results of DNA swabs that could help identify victims.
Officials said no cause for the collapse has been determined.
Video of the collapse showed the center of the building appearing to tumble down first and a section nearest to the ocean teetering and coming down seconds later, as a huge dust cloud swallowed the neighborhood.
About half the building's roughly 130 units were affected, and rescuers pulled at least 35 people from the wreckage in the first hours after the collapse.
Television video early Friday showed crews still fighting flareups of fires on the rubble piles. Intermittent rain over South Florida is also hampering the search.
Jadallah said that while listening devices placed on and in the wreckage had picked up no voices, they had detected possible banging noises, giving rescuers hope some are alive. Rescuers were tunneling into the wreckage from below, going through the building's underground parking garage.
Personal belongings were evidence of shattered lives amid the wreckage of the Champlain, which was built in 1981 in Surfside, a small suburb north of Miami Beach. A children's bunk bed perched precariously on a top floor, bent but intact and apparently inches from falling into the rubble. A comforter lay on the edge of a lower floor. Televisions. Computers. Chairs.
Argentines Dr. Andres Galfrascoli, his husband, Fabian Nu±ez, and their 6-year-old daughter, Sofia, had spent Wednesday night there at an apartment belonging to a friend, Nicolas Fernandez.
Galfrascoli, a Buenos Aires plastic surgeon, and Nu±ez, a theater producer and accountant, had come to Florida to get away from a COVID-19 resurgence in Argentina and its strict lockdowns. They had worked hard to adopt Sofia, Fernandez said.
''Of all days, they chose the worst to stay there,'' Fernandez said. ''I hope it's not the case, but if they die like this, that would be so unfair.''
They weren't the only South Americans missing. Foreign ministries and consulates of four countries said 22 nationals were missing in the collapse: nine from Argentina, six from Paraguay, four from Venezuela and three from Uruguay.
The Paraguayans included Sophia L"pez Moreira '-- the sister of first lady Silvana Abdo and sister-in-law of President Mario Abdo Bentez '-- and her family.
Israeli media said the country's consul general in Miami, Maor Elbaz, believes that 20 citizens of that country are missing.
Also missing was Arnie Notkin, a retired Miami-area elementary school physical education teacher, and his wife, Myriam. They lived on the third floor.
''Everyone's been posting, 'Oh my God, he was my coach,''' said Fortuna Smukler, a friend who turned to Facebook in hopes of finding someone who would report them safe.
''They were also such happy, joyful people. He always had a story to tell, and she always spoke so kindly of my mother,'' Smukler said. ''Originally there were rumors that he had been found, but it was a case of mistaken identity. It would be a miracle if they're found alive.''
Associated Press writers Tim Reynolds and Ian Mader in Miami; Freida Frisaro and Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale; Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; and R.J. Rico in Atlanta contributed to this report.
National Guard is preparing for a major cyber attack that would bring down utilities across the US | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 12:09
The National Guard has been preparing for a major cyber attack that would bring down utilities across the US, after the hack of the Colonial Pipeline brought the nation's fuel supply to its knees.
Troops from across the New England region practiced tackling a massive simulated breach across critical infrastructure sectors including power, water and gas during a two-week training exercise this month.
The exercise involved a situation where a huge cyber attack targeted utilities on the West Coast before moving east across the country.
Much like in a real-life scenario, National Guardsmen worked alongside government agencies - including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and US Cyber Command - as well as private sector utility partners to respond to the crisis.
While the crisis was a simulation this time round, such an attack is looking increasingly possible.
A series of recent, devastating attacks have sent warning signs about the risk cybersecurity breaches can bring to national infrastructure.
When the Colonial Pipeline was targeted by hackers in May, it was forced to shut its entire network carrying 45 percent of all fuel to the East Coast, sparking a national fuel crisis that sent gas prices soaring.
Weeks later, the food supply chain was dealt a blow when hackers led to the four-day closures of plants belonging to America's largest beef supplier JBS.
The National Guard has been preparing for a major cyber attack that would bring down utilities across the US, after the hack of the Colonial Pipeline brought the nation's fuel supply to its knees. Pictured the two-week training exercise
Troops from across the New England region practiced tackling a massive simulated breach across critical infrastructure sectors including power, water and gas during the Cyber Yankee Event (above)
The Cyber Yankee event, which has been held for the last seven years and was carried out in Camp Edwards, Cape Cod, tested the ability of the National Guard cyber units to respond to a real-life cyberattack and trained them to collaborate with government and industry partners.
Troops were divided into Blue Teams - Guardsmen and industry partners who played their own roles responding to cybersecurity breaches - and Red Teams - Marines and Marine Reservists who posed as the threat actors.
Industry and government partners joined the exercise remotely due to the pandemic.
The exercise involved practicing using the new Cyber 9-Line tool where National Guard units in individual states can pass intel on potential threats to the centralized Cyber Command.
Similarly, the Cyber Command can alert state units about threats.
Maj. Michael Frank, cyber warfare officer for DCO-IDM company bravo, 6th Communications Battalion, told C4ISRNET that authorities must understand how the attackers work to be able to defend from them.
'In order to be effective defenders of a network, you need to know what the adversary TTPs [tactics, techniques and procedures] are,' he said.
'Doing cyber threat emulation here and actually going through the steps of OCO [offensive cyber operations] and going through what we would expect an adversary to be doing to us, we have a better idea of how to defend our networks.
'For them to get a chance to do it from this side is hugely valuable.'
This year marked the first year the gas pipeline sector was involved in the exercise - coming just weeks after the Colonial Pipeline attack (pictured the Colonial Pipeline Co. Pelham junction and tank farm in Pelham, Alabama)
An Exxon station in DC is seen out of gas in May after the cyberattack crippled the biggest fuel pipeline in the country
Lt. Col. Cameron Sprague, J6 and CIO for the Connecticut Air National Guard and deputy exercise director for Cyber Yankee, told C4ISRNET it is difficult to run an exercise that is true to life.
'Operating effectively in incident response environment is really hard,' he said.
'That's what a lot of teams first take away when they're walking through this is how we're actually going to do an incident response plan.
'That's the big point of this. That's why a lot of them come back year after year.'
Maj. Ryan Miler, state cyber operations officer for the Connecticut Army National Guard, told the outlet that one of the key aims for the exercise is to build trust between the private companies, the state National Guards and the various government agencies.
'We do it in an exercise environment so that when it does happen, we've already got those relationships established not just from a National Guard but from all of our critical infrastructure, our federal, local, state partners,' Miller said.
'We've established those lines of communication and then it's that much easier to get together and respond.'
The exercise involved practicing using the new Cyber 9-Line tool where National Guard units in individual states can pass intel on potential threats to the centralized Cyber Command
Marines address visitors during Cyber Yankee 21 on Camp Edwards in Massachusetts. The exercise involved a situation where a huge cyber attack targeted utilities on the West Coast before moving east across the country
Guardsmen worked alongside government agencies - including the FBI - as well as private sector utility partners to respond to the crisis
Each year, additional partners are brought on board to join the event.
This marked the first year the gas pipeline sector was involved - coming just weeks after the Colonial Pipeline attack.
The pipeline was taken offline on May 7 in the attack, halting 2.5 million barrels per day of fuel shipments along the line running from Texas to New Jersey.
The hack sparked concerns of a national fuel crisis with thousands of gas stations running out of fuel and motorists racing to fill up their cars, pushing the national average price of gas past $3 for the first time since 2014.
Officials said the hack was the most disruptive cyberattack on energy infrastructure in American history.
The blame was leveled at criminal cybergroup DarkSide - which is believed to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe with ties to Russia.
Colonial Pipeline shelled out almost $5million to DarkSide to get its pipeline back online as soon as possible.
Cybersecurity was a major talking point between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit last week (pictured)
Just weeks later, JBS fell victim to an attack, forcing it to shut down its computer servers, suspending meat production systems at its US plants for four days.
US officials are now vowing to ramp up the nation's defense against cybercriminals with the White House announcing the creation of a new inter-agency taskforce to better coordinate its response to attacks.
Cybersecurity was a major talking point between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit last week.
Biden told Putin that certain critical infrastructure should be 'off-limits' to cyberattacks.
Putin denied that Russia was behind recent hacking attacks.
The FBI has also put cybersecurity high on its agenda with its fiscal year 2022 budget proposal including an additional $40million for cybersecurity investigations.
It also includes another $15million to help the FBI improve its own cybersecurity.
Modern America & some of its so-called 'democratic' allies have turned into 'liberal-totalitarian' states, claims Russia's top spy '-- RT Russia & Former Soviet Union
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 12:08
The US and some other Western nations held up as ''models of liberal democracy'' are rapidly turning into totalitarian regimes reminiscent of the Soviet Union, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service has claimed.
Speaking on Thursday at the Moscow Conference on International Security, Sergey Naryshkin claimed that there are ''almost all signs of a totalitarian dictatorship'' in some Western countries, including a ''monopoly on the media,'' the ''police nature of the state,'' and the ''irremovability of oligarchic elites.''
''It is astonishing to see how the West is trying to divide our diverse world into two completely artificial camps '' a supposedly democratic one and a supposedly authoritarian one,'' Naryshkin said, noting Russia, China, and Iran have been placed into the second camp, along with NATO ally Turkey and, on some issues, EU member state Poland.
Also on rt.com Like the 'Gerasimov Doctrine' it spawned, it's time to retire the concept of 'Russia Watching' ''The US and other so-called models of liberal democracy seem not to notice that they themselves are rapidly turning into a liberal-totalitarian regime,'' the chief spook said.
According to Naryshkin, the West's imposition of ideological attitudes is somewhat reminiscent of the history of the late Soviet Union, in that it doesn't even believe the values it tries to project abroad.
However, the head spy pointed to the US-Russia summit in Switzerland earlier this month as a potential turning point, noting that he hopes the West will be able to use ''the spirit of Geneva to try to build a safer and fairer world.''
Also on rt.com The nuclear doctrine: Army chief Gerasimov explains that Moscow reserves right to fire nukes if enemies use them against Russia Naryshkin's belief that the West is attempting to split the world into 'democratic' and 'authoritarian' echoes a statement made by Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu at the same conference on Wednesday.
''Today, a new trend is coming to the fore,'' Shoygu said. ''The formation of global coalitions, the division of the world into 'friends' and 'strangers.'''
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Nanny State Bans Porsche from Selling New 911 with Manual Transmission
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 12:07
Commentary Brett Kershaw June 22, 2021 at 5:03pm If you are a Porsche fan living in California and happened to order this year's 911 GT3 six-speed manual option, your voluntary transaction has been nullified.
''The seven-speed PDK gearbox will be the only transmission offered in California with the 911 GT3,'' Porsche announced in a news release, according to Car and Driver.
Its six-speed manual option is outlawed.
The prohibition stems from California's drive-by noise test. While the automatic passes, the manual fails '-- but not because of the car's inherent noise level. Instead, the state employs a flawed testing method.
California's Code of Regulations stipulates that each vehicle must pass a test produced by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The testing methods are intricate, measuring a vehicle's highest noise level by size, horsepower, peak acceleration rate and gearing.
Manual transmissions are required to trigger full-throttle, while automatic transmissions are forbidden to operate under the same condition.
In the case of the GT3 six-speed, the test's guidelines require it to run full-throttle nearly to redline in third gear, while the automatic must test in first gear. In the end, the microphone chip which measures drive-by noise registers the same engines and exhaust systems as different.
What is this regulatory nonsense?
The bureaucratic dribble, according to Car and Driver, was most recently revised in 1998, leaving Porsche's car on the island of misfit toys. Despite there being a new set of SAE standards available, California has yet to update its regulatory requirements.
Should California update its regulations?
Yes: 98% (348 Votes)
No: 2% (8 Votes)
Some will be quick to remind you that suburbia is safer when it is quiet. Should we simply ignore the fact that these regulations are ill-reasoned?
The situation would be easy to shrug off if it were simply an unfortunate consequence for Porsche. But the outright folly of California's bureaucratic overlords obstructs a person's prerogative to engage in a voluntary transaction on the basis of a methodological error.
A threat to liberty anywhere is an affront to liberty everywhere, even when it only restricts one's ability to acquire an automobile with a manual transmission.
To the dismay of those who prescribe value to human liberty, advocating for it as a preeminent ideal may appear to boil down to nothing more than a proclamation of ''I do what I want.''
This is not the tack defenders of liberty should take.
Government regulations are merely an extension of the state's legal authority, but they are often drawn on arbitrary grounds by specialists and ''experts'' who do not act in the interests of the American people. Government agents are not tasked with defending life and liberty; they are tasked with manifesting the government's role in people's lives.
This theme encompasses the entire government and its prescribed role in society.
Governmental paternalism is a form of state coercion, consisting of policies and practices that restrict liberty and infantilize the population. The burden of dependency is shifted from the individual and community to the state, cementing the divide between ruler and ruled.
For Porsche and the car-loving Californian, government paternalism is apparent under the guise of outdated automotive testing guidelines.
Californians ought to reject these guidelines and admonish a government that dictates what they can and cannot buy.
SummaryMore Biographical Information Recent Posts ContactBrett Kershaw is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. A graduate of Virginia Tech with bachelor of arts degrees in political science and history, he is a published author who often studies political philosophy and political history.
Brett Kershaw is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. A graduate of Virginia Tech with bachelor of arts degrees in political science and history, he is a published author who often studies political philosophy and political history.
Amazon is acquiring a podcast hosting and monetization platform - The Verge
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 11:38
Amazon Music is getting more serious about its podcast endeavors. Today, the company announced that it's acquiring Art19, a major podcast hosting and monetization platform for an undisclosed sum. This means Amazon will now have a hand in hosting podcasters' shows as well as selling ads against them because Art19 operates an ad marketplace that targets and inserts ads into programming. An Amazon Music spokesperson says nothing will immediately change on the Art19 platform.
This is a major step for Amazon as it looks to take on a bigger role in the podcasting world. Amazon Music only started offering podcasts in September last year, as did Audible in October. But in the time since, Amazon Music has acquired Wondery, one of the last major independent podcast networks. Today's acquisition gives it a fuller role in the industry. Not only will it make content through Wondery and distribute shows through its app, but now, Amazon can host those podcasts, as well as third parties', and sell ads against them. This gives Amazon even more data about what's happening both inside and outside its app. (Amazon Music already sells audio ads, so Art19's business might complement that work.)
We've seen this same scenario already play out with Spotify. The company started out making content-based acquisitions, like that of Gimlet Media and Parcast, but then acquired Megaphone, an Art19 competitor. In that case, Spotify has focused on bringing a proprietary ad-serving technology to the platform, called Streaming Ad Insertion, in order to encourage podcasters to move over to the hosting service and take advantage of its ad marketplace. Other companies in the space have also taken a similar position. iHeartMedia acquired Triton Digital, and SXM Media acquired Midroll, an ad-serving marketplace and platform, in July. As we said in February, the podcasting business isn't only about the flashy exclusive content deals, but who can sell and monetize shows.
Update June 24th, 9:11PM ET: Updated to reflect a spokesperson's response to a request for comment.
FBI agent arrested in Ascension, accused of child sex crimes in multiple parishes
Fri, 25 Jun 2021 04:35
PRAIRIEVILLE - State police arrested an FBI agent living in Ascension Parish after a months-long investigation uncovered years' worth of sex crimes involving both adult and child victims across multiple parishes.
Louisiana State Police identified the suspect as 51-year-old David Harris, an agent with the FBI's New Orleans Field Office.
The investigation began back in February when the agency received complaints from multiple victims across Louisiana alleging sexual abuse by Harris. LSP said the allegations dated back as far as 2016.
The investigation resulted in arrest warrants out of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Orleans parishes.
Harris was arrested and booked into the Ascension jail Thursday on charges of aggravated crimes against nature and indecent behavior with children under the age of 13. Upon his release, he will be booked in Orleans and East Baton Rouge for his other charges, which include sexual battery and attempted third-degree rape, obscenity, aggravated crimes against nature, indecent behavior with juveniles, and witness intimidation.
New Scientist on Twitter: "GPS cyberattack falsely placed UK warship near Russian naval base https://t.co/u8JuJAZyct https://t.co/HzWP2iKJ9E" / Twitter
Thu, 24 Jun 2021 20:14
New Scientist : GPS cyberattack falsely placed UK warship near Russian naval base https://t.co/u8JuJAZyct https://t.co/HzWP2iKJ9E
Thu Jun 24 11:10:38 +0000 2021