1372: Grope Line

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 58m
August 12th, 2021
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Executive Producers: Dame Julian, Duchess of Bastrop County, Martin McCauley, Sir Me-how of Schamberki son of Jan, Sir Cutuzov, Stephen Deane, sinead visconti, Seneca Brown, Dr. Jonathan Boom, CN Marchand, Baron Finch, Jay Cole, Sebastien Guite, Josh Cox aka Sir Thoth of Thalhalla, Brian Williams , Sir KC9YJM, Green Knight of Hams; Baron of the Ionosphere; Order of Broke Knights, Christie Bentley, Baroness Sarah Ruppert

Associate Executive Producers: Ron Pepper, Christopher Hubbard, Amy Mullin, Dame Rachel, Daniel Evans, Sir Teetse, Red Citabira, Sir North to South, Sean Schweizer, Sir Principles of the spineless twatts

Cover Artist: Comic Strip Blogger


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The Script - Redux
Texas Gov. Abbott seeks out-of-state help against COVID-19
Gov. Greg Abbott appealed for out-of-state help to fight the third wave of COVID-19 in Texas while two more of the state's largest school districts announced mask mandates in defiance of the governor.
Abbott's request Monday came as a county-owned hospital in Houston raised tents to accommodate their COVID-19 overflow. Private hospitals in the county already were requiring their staff to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Meantime, the Dallas and Austin school districts announced Monday that they would require students and staff to wear face masks. The Houston school district already announced a mask mandate for its students and staff later this week if its board approves.
The highly contagious delta variant is fueling the wave.
The Republican governor has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to find additional medical staff from beyond the state's borders as the delta wave began to overwhelm its present staffing resources. He also has sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association to request that hospitals postpone all elective medical procedures voluntarily.
Florida & child hospitalization -- the fear campaign Mike Z.
The bottom line is: so far the hospitals aren't running out of bed despite the increase in C-19 *associated* hospitalizations.
the Hospitalizations are a correlation in the database: people in the hospital *with* a Positive PCR result.
In lots of places (and it looks like it's often the case) that classification doesn't make the distinction between in the hospital because you clearly have Covid or in the hospital for something else but with a Positive PCR. All of them are put in the same category.
Here's an example in the UK: 56% got their Positive PCR at the hospital and they can't say which proportion had covid and those who only had a Positive result but didn't have the disease
another example: 40% of children hospitalized in two hospitals in CA didn't have the disease, they just had a Positive PCR
New Research Suggests Number of Kids Hospitalized for COVID Is Overcounted
"these studies underscore the importance of clearly distinguishing between children hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 found on universal testing versus those hospitalized for COVID-19 disease."
And the child hospitalization numbers are nothing compared to older people but there's a fear campaign to get the kids doublevaxxed.
Here an ER Dr in FL is lied to the naive suckers who take what she wrote at face value without checking. She's an activist pushing a narrative on social media. An amateur fact checker replied:
"I just got off the phone with "May", who handles scheduling for North Shore Medical Center, which is one of the hospitals where Dr. Solenkova works
They are NOT out of beds. Not out of ICU beds. Encouraged me to come in if I needed to be admitted."
someone made a good point:
"Funny how it's always some political activist doctor, reporting at second hand, and never, say...a hospital administrator "
Have you seen hospital administrators going in panic mode?
This guy here shows a graph taken from the AZDHS showing total hospitalizations in Arizona. There's an increase in C-19 *associated* hospitalizations but hospitals aren't running out of beds.
They've been at 90% since December.
The emperor has no cure
The vaccinated need to step back.
They are the lucky ones. Everyone knows, JUST LIKE COVID, that a percentage will die.
Respect the hesitancy and bravery of this who do.
Austin curbside and VAX paper + ID inside
Boots on Ground Nursing Home WV
Hey Adam,
I wish to remain anonymous but thought I would share this with you for the show. I work for a healthcare company in WV that mainly owns and manages a large number of nursing homes across the state as well as some other smaller lines of business. Our centers suddenly changed all our covid testing back around the first of the year which was easy to predict because of the rollout of covid vaccines. We were told we just had a bunch of stock of antigen tests that we wanted to use up. To my knowledge we no longer use PCR. HMM.... Magically our number went down facilities opened up and all is well.
Then this past week we learned of an outbreak in one of our centers. Surprisingly our COO divulged that almost all of the outbreak in the residents were people who got vaccinated. I am glad I had my camera turned off on this company wide zoom call because the face I made would have not bode well for myself. As they blathered on about taking the jab and how they were glad these people got it I could only shake my head.
These people are still encouraging us to take it almost in the same breath as they tell us it doesn't work. They are good people but it's easy to see things aren't adding up. I'm not a conspiracy theory nut or anti vax guy as some might say but I'm not drinking the Kool aid.
Thanks for all you do and keep up the good work. I just pray something miraculous happens and this insanity stops.
Climate Change
Great Reset
This vaccine is being used to collapse the health care system and push universal healthcare
Canada hospital budgeting messed up by COVID
Hey, Adam, here’s an anecdote that I’d like you to keep anonymous if you mention it. This was brought to my attention last week and I thought it was an interesting anecdote to share. My consultancy helps Canadian hospitals with budget planning. We have access to general ledger and statistical data. We call it hire and fire data (usually considering the mix of RPN’s vs RN’s).
Last week a large Canadian hospital reached out to my consultancy and asked if we could eliminate their 2020 data from all calculations. The reason is because one of the key metrics they measure is how many nursing hours are spent on a single patient each day, which could be any combination of one or more nurses helping a single patient.
In 2020, this hospital’s nursing hours per patient day doubled!
The reason was COVID. Since the hospitals were empty, they had tons of nurses and very few patients, especially in the ICU where many nurse/patient are needed. This causes a budgeting problem because of our public health system. Every year hospitals want to show that they were very efficient and then plead their case for more money. COVID caused every hospital to look really IN-efficient completely breaking the funding/begging model.
Budget season is upon us and we are expecting that more and more hospitals will be asking us to eliminate 2020 from their budget planning. I will update you when I find out how this plays out.
The Way the Senate Melted Down Over Crypto Is Very Revealing
Who is a Broker (mainly de-fi)
Vivek fundamental flaw. We have choice. Mastodon
Transpower Warns Of More Emergency Outage
Looks like they don’t even need a “hack” in NZ to shutdown the grid.
And Jacinda wants 5 million electric cars. Not sure how they are going to manage this. Imagine even
half of them being connected to the grid to charge.
These power “outages” do seem to be a global agenda. Fortunately I have diesel generation, solar
and batteries being installed as we speak.
quebec staring rolling blackouts with government run hydro-Qc
Thank you john for the keyboard you invented.
also, starting august 12th in Laval Qc from 12h30 to 14h01 (01?? for some reason) we lose power. My neighbor's cousin loses her power at... 14h01 also in Laval but next "sector"... but waiting for confirmation (anything i can send)... but (and as a nogenda listner a little bit butthurt i did not associate this) my own mom said: it sounds a lot like what you bitch about with enron and power outages, texas, all that crap...
*look of pride in my face* see... I'm not THAT crazy!
so... bad news, we are getting rolling blackouts to sell power from a government owned, privately "directed" power company. and you thought you're OIL comapnies were gonna rule! SUCKERS!
said the slave,
Big Tech
Build Back Better
Opinion | South Africa Is Falling Apart
After Jacob Zuma, the country’s former president, was arrested on July 7 — to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt of court — his supporters and allies vowed to make the country ungovernable. Coordinating a campaign of economic sabotage through WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter and other social networks, they succeeded.
Under investigation: Twelve masterminds planned and executed insurrection on social media, then lost control after looting spree
“These are people with experience of running operations,” said Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa at a briefing on Wednesday. News24 reported that Zuma’s leading spymaster and the former ambassador to Japan, Thulani Dlomo, is one of 12 ringleaders being investigated by the police’s Crime Intelligence and by state intelligence as being the architects of a political campaign of which they have lost control.
Transpower Warns Of More Emergency Outage
Looks like they don’t even need a “hack” in NZ to shutdown the grid.
And Jacinda wants 5 million electric cars. Not sure how they are going to manage this. Imagine even
half of them being connected to the grid to charge.
These power “outages” do seem to be a global agenda. Fortunately I have diesel generation, solar
and batteries being installed as we speak.
quebec staring rolling blackouts with government run hydro-Qc
Thank you john for the keyboard you invented.
also, starting august 12th in Laval Qc from 12h30 to 14h01 (01?? for some reason) we lose power. My neighbor's cousin loses her power at... 14h01 also in Laval but next "sector"... but waiting for confirmation (anything i can send)... but (and as a nogenda listner a little bit butthurt i did not associate this) my own mom said: it sounds a lot like what you bitch about with enron and power outages, texas, all that crap...
*look of pride in my face* see... I'm not THAT crazy!
so... bad news, we are getting rolling blackouts to sell power from a government owned, privately "directed" power company. and you thought you're OIL comapnies were gonna rule! SUCKERS!
said the slave,
Noodle Gun
The Purge
Dog are People Too
Faraday Suits
The link below is a legitimate product made for hunting. Adam's Friend Joe Rogan wears them while hunting. The HECS suit is designed to block your body's Electromagnetic Signature. a number of apex predators can detect electrical fields, like Bears, Wolves and Sharks. It probably works against direct energy weapons too.
2:19 Faraday cage effect explained by Forrest Galante
China Partly Shuts World's Third-Busiest Port, Risking Trade
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 13:19
(Bloomberg) -- China partly shut the world's third-busiest container port after a worker became infected with Covid, threatening more damage to already fragile supply chains and global trade as a key shopping season nears.
All inbound and outbound container services at Meishan terminal in Ningbo-Zhoushan port were halted Wednesday until further notice due to a ''system disruption,'' according to a statement from the port. An employee tested positive for coronavirus, the eastern Chinese city's government said.
The closed terminal accounts for about 25% of container cargo through the port, calculates security consultant GardaWorld, which said ''the suspension could severely impact cargo handling and shipping.'' Germany's Hapag-Lloyd AG said there will be a delay in sailings.
This is the second recent shutdown of a Chinese port due to the coronavirus, after the closure of Yantian port in Shenzhen from late May for about a month. That led goods to back up in factories and storage yards and also likely lifted soaring freight rates, which are at record levels and a source of inflation.
The fear is that this new disruption will further strain shipping and supplies of goods, dampening growth and driving up prices. An extended shuttering at Ningbo could be especially painful for the world economy because seaborne trade usually rises toward the end of the year as companies ship Christmas and holiday products.
(C) Bloomberg Uncontained Price Rises Terminal users can click on the chart to see underlying data
''There may be far-reaching downstream consequences going into Black Friday and holiday shopping seasons'' and the next 24 hours will determine whether there is a large outbreak or not, said Josh Brazil, vice president of marketing at project44, a supply-chain intelligence firm. ''One of the few givens in 2021 is endemic delays, and the fact that conditions can change almost overnight.''
In addition to the closed terminal, containers for shipment through the other terminals in the port will likely slow. The port will now only accept containers within two days of a ship's estimated arrival time, according to a statement from shipping and logistics firm CMA CGM SA.
(C) Bloomberg Another Port Shut Terminal users can click on the chart to see underlying data
Video: Navigating Through China's Markets (Bloomberg)
Navigating Through China's Markets
The biggest exports through Ningbo in the first half of this year were electronic goods, textiles and low and high-end manufactured goods, according to the city's Customs Bureau. Top imports included crude oil, electronics, raw chemicals and agricultural products.
Speaking about the outbreak, Hugo De Stoop, CEO of oil shipper Euronav NV said ''there will be an impact on China's oil demand, but the length of the impact is unclear.''
For port outbreaks ''the Chinese authorities are very very strict. When they find a case they will be very quick to shutdown, isolate the workers, isolate the coworkers who have had contact with that specific worker and then reopen as quickly as possible,'' he told Bloomberg Television Thursday, adding that this strictness in dealing with outbreaks can disrupt markets.
All the close contacts of the infected worker have been identified and are in quarantine, according to Ningbo City's statement. A port spokesman who declined to give his name said there was no new information when contacted Thursday.
(C) Bloomberg Views of Ningbo Container Port Ahead of the China International Import Expo The Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan in Ningbo in 2018.
Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
The port was the third busiest globally in terms of container shipments in 2020 and the second busiest in China after Shanghai, according to maritime publication Lloyd's List.
The discovery of the port worker that tested positive for Covid-19 shows that virus-prevention measures in Ningbo City still has loopholes, the local government said in a statement on its website Thursday, which urged officials to implement quarantines, disinfection and close affected areas to prevent the virus' spread.
(Updates with more details of trade through port in eighth paragraph.)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
(C)2021 Bloomberg L.P.
How Can I Be A Better Hunter? | The Best Hunting Camo Clothing
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 13:13
Get your own HECS® suit today and discover the difference The Best Hunting Apparel
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We won't promise that wearing HECS® hunting camouflage clothing and hunting gear will make you a better hunter, but we can get you closer to wildlife without being detected. When you wear our apparel for hunting you can get up to 75 percent closer to your prey, thereby reducing the stress and impact you have on the animals as well as the environment. HECS® technology provides a more natural interaction and experience.
How Does HECS® Camo Clothing Work?
HECS® fabrics are lightweight, breathable, and durable. Our conductive and interlocking carbon fiber grid is woven directly into all our clothing and is specifically designed to block your electrical energy radiation, making it the best hunting camo on the market. Our camouflage apparel is perfect for hunting during any season, and we carry:
Deer hunting camoElk hunting camoDuck hunting camo Turkey hunting camo Wild boar hunting camoAnd more! The Use of EMR (electromagnetic radiation) Blocking Garments Reduces the Ability of Animals to Detect a Human Subject
Animals have an uncanny ability to detect the proximity of humans. This study explores the hypothesis that animals sense EMR (electromagnetic radiation) emissions produced by the human body. The behavior of three species of animals (cattle, horses and mule deer) was observed while interacting with a human subject, both with and without EMR (electromagnetic radiation) blocking garments. The results of this study found that the use of EMR blocking garments allows humans to approach 69 to 75 percent closer to mule deer than without their use. The results also show that the use of EMR blocking garments is more effective when the human subject remains motionless. Overall, the study finds that using EMR blocking garments makes a human significantly less detectable by animals.
EMR Meter Test With and Without HECS®A simple meter can prove that you give off an electrical energy field. There's a device known as a Trifield Natural EM Meter, which measures (in microteslas) the amount of electromagnetic energy you give off.
HECS® holds 5 issued U.S. patents and multiple foreign patents. Our technology has been proven effective and has been fully vetted by experts since 2010.
If your heart is beating and your muscles are moving, you need a HECS®Muscle movements produces an electrical energy radiation that animals are capable of detecting. HECS® is the only technology available that blocks your energy, preventing wildlife from sensing your presence.
HECS® technology uses a highly conductive and interlocking carbon fiber grid specifically designed to block your electrical energy radiation. This grid is woven directly into all HECS® fabrics and is lightweight, breathable, and durable.
What REALLY happened to dead Midazolam exposer Wayne Smith? A tribute and background by Jacqui Deevoy '' David Icke
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 12:26
What REALLY happened to dead Midazolam exposer Wayne Smith? A tribute by Jacqui Deevoy
I first stumbled across Wayne Smith in the summer of 2020.
I'd been approached by a man who'd told me that one of his relatives had been murdered in hospital: he wanted me, as a journalist, to get his story published. To cut a long story short, whilst investigating, I found Wayne on Twitter (handle: @socializedmedi1).
Wayne's elderly father George had been killed in 2013, at home, by a visiting NHS nurse with an overdose of a drug called Midazolam. While Wayne was out of the room, she injected his dad with a lethal dose of the killer drug, a drug used in the US in executions. After explaining to Wayne that she'd given the shot to ease George's suffering, the nurse promptly left. Minutes later, Wayne's dad was dead.
Through his grief, Wayne tried to work out what had happened. In his mind, it was clear his dad had been murdered. He tried to track down the nurse but she was nowhere to be found. He went to the police but they weren't interested.
Seven years on, he was still desperately looking for a platform '... he wanted his voice to be heard. I said I'd try to get his story into a national newspaper. I pitched and failed.
By May 2021, I had spoken to 20 people who'd been through similar experiences to Wayne. They too wanted their stories heard. I went to the papers '' to no avail. The story was big now '' I'd discovered that a new end of life care pathway had been introduced at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, a new government directive, which instructed NHS staff how to treat people dying from the deadly virus. The protocol was identical to that of the Liverpool Care Pathway, which had been abandoned in 2014 after it was deemed to be inhumane. But it was back, under a new name (the Gold Standard Framework) and it '' a combination of starvation, dehydration and killer 'cocktails' of morphine and Midazolam '' was being used to cull the elderly. And Wayne had all the proof '' the evidence needed to not only get a lot of the so-called elite in trouble but perhaps to bring down the government. Wayne had proof of democide: had the people of Britain got wind of that, things might have taken a new and very different turn.
On June 4 th 2021, Wayne appeared '' with five other people, myself included '' on an internet news show called Right Now. It was seen by millions and made a huge and definite impact on all who watched it.
Shortly afterwards, I was invited to make a documentary with film company Ickonic: Wayne Smith was immediately booked in to appear. With eight years of research into the euthanasia he knew was happening in UK hospitals, care homes and hospices '' and in some cases, like his dad's, at home '' this highly knowledgeable man knew what he was talking about. He understood law, and government policies and medicine; he could quote dates, facts and statistics from memory and could speak eloquently on the subject he'd clearly spent thousands of hours researching. It had become his life's work and his ultimate aim was to expose the barbaric protocol being implemented and to bring an end to it.
Once he'd agreed to be part of the documentary, Wayne and I talked on the phone and exchanged WhatsApp messages regularly. He loved to chat and was so passionate about what he was doing that it was sometimes hard to get him off the phone! That's why it was strange when one day in late July I realised that I hadn't heard from Wayne for a while '...
I checked my WhatsApp messages to him: he hadn't responded to the last three '' on July 10 th , 15 th and 20 th . I called a mutual friend. He'd had no response from him for a couple of weeks. Over the following few days, the messages between me and the mutual friend were peppered with ''heard anything from Wayne?'' and by the 24th we both reluctantly admitted that we had a bad feeling. We brushed it aside over the weekend but on the 27 th I decided to call the police. I knew in my heart that something terrible had happened.
The police called me back on July 28th and confirmed my worst fear: Wayne had been found dead at his home in Chichester, West Sussex on the Saturday '' July 25 th . The police officer I spoke to '' PC Bateup '' said Wayne had died of Covid and that he'd had symptoms. He then added ''I hear he was a Covid denier.'' I know it's hard to hear a smirk but I sure as hell heard one at that moment. (It would have been useful if the police constable had let me know when and where Wayne had been tested instead of making a snidey remark like that but he wasn't forthcoming with that particular information.)
I was left reeling and baffled. Wayne would have said something if he'd been ill. He was supposed to be meeting me to discuss his part in the documentary on Monday 2 nd August, and he'd have definitely called if he'd been feeling rough prior to that.
I checked his Twitter account and was surprised to see hundreds of retweets, the last being on July 20 th . That jarred with me. As far as I knew, Wayne wasn't a big retweeter '' he was a man on a mission with important stuff to share. He wrote his own tweets. I scrolled back but couldn't find any of his tweets at all. Two friends of his called to tell me that, in private message conversations, Wayne's comments had completely disappeared, leaving a one-sided written chat, making it look, as one of the friends said ''as if I was talking to myself''. That was odd.
In recent months, Wayne had been liaising with doctors, lawyers, NHS executives and government officials about his findings: he was in possession of documents and information that may well have posed a threat to those involved in the implementation of end of life 'care' pathways. He was making great headway.
I left it a day or so before announcing his death on social media. By then, I was feeling decidedly uncomfortable about his sudden and untimely demise. Friends Wayne had never mentioned got in touch with me. One was Dr. Mark Jones (who had met Wayne a few times and had interviewed him for a video which has now been seen by thousands) who, after speaking to me, called the police to find out more about Wayne's passing. Having 'Dr.' in front of his name served him well '' he gleaned more information than I did, with the police disclosing that Wayne was to be cremated on August 4 th and giving him the number for the coroner's office. Dr. Jones then suggested to the council that the cremation be delayed and, amazingly, they agreed. He then contacted the coroner's office and demanded an autopsy.
I spoke to Sussex police several times since making my initial report on July 27th. According to them, they were 'called to the scene' on July 25th, after two friends of Wayne alerted them.
Wayne was found dead in the house and was confirmed as 'life extinct' at 3pm. It was agreed that he'd probably died the previous day '' on July 24 th , the day the bad feeling had kicked in. The police officer '' PC Banks '' confirmed to me on the phone on August 2nd that Wayne had died of Covid. The coroner's officer '' Vanessa Tiller '' said that he'd had a positive covid test.
There were 28 Covid deaths in the UK on the day Wayne was found dead: it would appear Wayne was one of them.
Had Wayne been in a grave, he'd have been turning in it. He'd always maintained that the pandemic was a 'scamdemic' and didn't trust the government narrative of Covid. There's no way he'd have willingly had a test. Had he developed symptoms of anything resembling the flu or pneumonia, he'd have said he had a bad cold '' or a case of 'man flu' perhaps.
On August 5 th , Dr. Jones and I formally requested an autopsy. We also want a burial '' not a cremation '' for our friend and comrade Wayne. We've been told that he had no close family so it's down to his friends to do the right thing. The right thing would be to find out what really happened to him and to make sure no foul play was involved.
Wayne wouldn't be bothered about any kind of flashy send-off '' all he'd want is for truth and justice to prevail and for those who had faith in him to carry on where he left off. That's what he would have wanted. And that's what his friends are going to do.
RIP, Wayne Smith (1960 '' 2021).
The OUTRAGEOUS response of the West Sussex 'coroner' about the strange death of Wayne Smith. They say he died of 'Covid' (he clearly didn't) because they took a swab AFTER his death and it tested positive with a test not testing for the 'virus'. These people are a JOKE '' a very, very sick one
'Ice Cream Machine Broke': Lawsuit Details McFlurry Machine Manufacturer's Desperate Attempts To Keep Its 'Repair Racket' | The Daily Wire
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 12:13
A lawsuit details the efforts of Taylor Company '-- the firm that manufactures McDonald's ice cream machines '-- to maintain its monopoly over repairs.
Two years ago, a startup called Kytch created a device that circumvents the need for franchise owners to solicit help from Taylor repairmen '-- who, according to the lawsuit, are notoriously slow.
Kytch's lawsuit alleges:
For almost two decades, it appeared that Taylor's broken machines would never be fixed. Until a small California tech startup called Kytch, Inc. cracked the code in April 2019. During product testing and development, Kytch used a proprietary combination of hardware, software and machine learning to demystify the finicky machines.
Kytch soon uncovered a repair racket whereby Taylor designed flawed code that caused the machines to malfunction. Whether Taylor intentionally designed these flaws or merely did not care enough to ensure bug-free code will become clear during discovery. Either way, Taylor's web of partners profited millions in repair fees for the malfunctions that it manufactured.
In response, Taylor made several attempts to obtain Kytch devices.
Because Kytch Solution reduces the need for Taylor service technicians to repair the machines, Kytch's leadership was not surprised when Taylor attempted to obtain the Kytch Solution. First, one of Taylor's distribution managers tried to purchase a device, but Kytch's security protocol flagged and blocked the purchase. Then, a lawyer employed by Taylor's outside counsel attempted to purchase the Kytch solution. Kytch blocked the second attempt. After that, two private investigators associated with Taylor used aliases and dummy email addresses to get their hands on the device. Once again, Kytch canceled the orders.
The lawsuit alleges that after the unsuccessful attempts, Taylor solicited Tyler Gamble '-- a leading McDonald's franchisee '-- to acquire a Kytch device.
On July 30, however, Kytch was granted a temporary restraining order against Taylor by a California judge. Taylor was forced to turn over any Kytch devices in its possession and is now restricted from using information potentially gleaned from its dissection of the machines.
''We are optimistic that the truth will prevail,'' Kytch co-founder Melissa Nelson told Vice . ''It's disgusting that such lengths were taken to steal our trade secrets, destroy our business, and to stand in the way of modernizing kitchens. Kytch is just a small piece of the broader right-to-repair movement. But our case makes clear that it's past time to end shady business practices that create hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary repair fees from 'certified' technicians.''
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Jordan Peterson Releases ''Bitcoin: The Future of Money?'' | Bitcoin Magazine: Bitcoin News, Articles, Charts, and Guides
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 12:03
Jordan Peterson Released A Podcast Episode About Bitcoin, Becoming The Latest Public Intellectual To Share His Thoughts.
Popular Canadian Psychologist, Professor, writer and youtuber Jordan Peterson released a podcast episode about Bitcoin. The much-anticipated episode, called ''Bitcoin: The Future of Money?'' was recorded on 13 May 2021, but wasn't released until just this week.
The episode is an hour and a half of in-depth technical, philosophical and economic conversation about Bitcoin between the author Dr. Peterson and notable bitcoiners John Vallis, Der Gigi, Richard James, and Robert Breedlove.
During the episode the Dr. Peterson delivered many takes that demonstrated a strong understanding of Bitcoin's fundamental principles:
''It's a very interesting idea that Bitcoin provides an incorruptible language of value, preferable to gold.''
Outside of his trademark some-what meandering, though well-spoken pontification on disparate topics, Dr. Peterson consistently asked direct questions about Bitcoin to Gigi and Richard James. Using their answers to better frame his arguments and narrow the scope of his typically broad understanding.
In the episode, Peterson often assimilated his guests' points of view, frequently repeating key traits of Bitcoin back to them as a means of tracking his own comprehension:
''So [Bitcoin] is completely transparent. It's completely distributed. There's no centralized authority. It can't be cracked. It can't be stolen. It doesn't inflate. It can't be inflated. It isn't subject to any form of overt administrative control.''
On the ethical enlightenment that can come as a result of the low time preference lifestyle that Bitcoin promotes, Peterson concluded:
''The very act of Bitcoin sanctifying the sovereignty of the individual is actually tilting individuals towards doing something good rather than something bad. It's not just neutral as Gigi was laying out, there's an intrinsic ethic to Bitcoin that is more likely to tilt it in a positive direction.''
Popular Thinkers & BitcoinDuring the episode Peterson demonstrated not only a strong preliminary understanding of Bitcoin, but an eagerness to be corrected while displaying an interest in learning more. This comes as a marked contrast to other public intellectuals (most recently Elon Musk) who, when pressed by the Bitcoin community, often fail to display adequately sufficient depth of understanding or to signal an ongoing and growing curiosity, traits so often found in and celebrated by Bitcoin maximalists.While discussing Musk's misguided comments on Bitcoin's energy consumption, Peterson said:
''What should happen is that whatever energy is expended in the production of Bitcoin and the maintenance of the system should be more than recouped by the increased efficiency of every system that uses Bitcoin as a transactional device. And so there'll be a net energy gain not a net energy loss if you calculated it across the entire system. And so it's a mistake just to look at the cost of generating Bitcoin in the absence of considering the efficiencies that bitcoin would produce.''
Peterson's frequently shared online lectures brush over just about every topic imaginable. Infamously, he sometimes finds himself the subject and center of controversy for his thoughts, but the freedom to explore ideas without censorship is a big part of the Bitcoin Ethos.Although such a public and multi-disciplinary figure is a welcome contribution to the community, and it will be worthwhile to watch his thoughts on Bitcoin develop, it is important as a decentralized network not to put any single thinker on a pedestal.
Opinion | The Way the Senate Melted Down Over Crypto Is Very Revealing - The New York Times
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 12:01
Ezra Klein
Aug. 12, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET
Credit... d3sign, via Getty Images For months, there's been a debate over what should count as infrastructure. Roads and bridges, sure. But what about preschool and health insurance and child care? Democrats say yes, Republicans say no. With the exception of broadband access, however, there's been almost no discussion of the infrastructure underpinning the digital economy. But right at the end, that changed, when a meltdown over crypto regulation almost derailed the bipartisan infrastructure bill's passage in the Senate.
I'm going to try to do a few things here. First, I want to explain why crypto matters, even if you think Bitcoin is just goldbuggery for nerds. The technology is evolving to be much more than a digital currency, and Silicon Valley sees it as the digital infrastructure atop which the next internet will be built. Then I want to trace the fight that consumed the final days of the bill, because this was just an early skirmish in what will be a much longer campaign.
''Crypto started in 2009 with Bitcoin,'' Fred Ehrsam, the co-founder of both Coinbase and Paradigm, a crypto-focused investment firm, told me. ''Many people still relate to it as a speculative phenomenon focused around digital money. That was certainly true for the first few years of crypto's existence. But now we're moving far beyond that.''
Ehrsam described crypto as having three distinct phases. In the first phase, the technology was used to develop digitally native currencies '-- Bitcoin, Ether, Dogecoin and so on. The cryptocurrency market is now worth around $2 trillion, which is astonishing given that it didn't exist in 2008.
Here's where it gets complicated. The currencies play a dual role in crypto. They are, in the first place, currencies, and people buy and sell and trade them '-- and occasionally use them to buy and sell and trade goods. But they're also the way crypto networks pay for development and upkeep: You get bits of cryptocurrency for adding to the system, and that makes the massive, decentralized computing forces these networks need possible.
There's a dark side to this: The promise of unlocking bits of cryptocurrency by solving computationally intensive math problems, coupled with the need to log every transaction on countless different computers, is driving the disastrous energy consumption that has made some of the crypto networks into a climate threat. According to Digiconomist, Bitcoin and Ethereum together consume about as much electric energy annually as Indonesia. (One way you know the infrastructure bill is not a climate bill is that it completely ignores crypto's energy use.)
What's more, the proof of concept for these innovations was, and often still is, illegal activity. The point of a crypto transaction is that it's ''trustless'' '-- it's secure even when you don't know or trust the other parties. That's made crypto currencies a favored medium for money laundering, illegal purchases and ransomware. To be fair, criminals are often early adopters of new technologies, so crypto's association with crime will likely abate as the technology matures. But part of that evolution might require the kinds of regulation that the crypto community currently fears, as has been true with other technologies.
The Future of Crypto Isn't Currency. It's Ownership. Once you have crypto networks up and running, with currencies pulling in users, you can build all kinds of things on top of them. So the second phase of crypto has followed from the first: Now that there really is digital money, where anyone can verify the transactions, shouldn't there be truly digital financial services, built around contracts anyone can write, enforced by code rather than banks or law?
That's the theory behind decentralized finance, or ''DeFi.'' The hope is you can replace financial intermediaries like banks and title insurers with self-executing contracts built atop the various crypto network ledgers. According to some estimates, there are about $100 billion worth of assets being held in DeFi applications right now, up from almost nothing just four years ago. ''I think we're one-tenth of one-percent into the development of DeFi,'' Ehrsam told me.
But it's the third phase when crypto advocates become most starry-eyed: They believe crypto is the basis for a better internet, what some now call Web 3.0.
Think about it this way: The internet we have allows for the easy transfer of information. We costlessly swap copies of news articles, music files, video games, porn, GIFs, tweets and much more. The internet is, famously, good at making information nearly free. But for precisely that reason, it is terrible at making information expensive, which it sometimes needs to be. What the internet is missing, in particular, are ways to verify identity, ownership and authenticity '-- the exact things that make it possible for creators to get paid for their work (for more on this, I highly recommend Steven Johnson's article ''Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble'').
That's one reason the riches of the web haven't been more widely shared: You get rich selling access to the internet or by building companies that add convenience and features to the internet. So Facebook got rich by building a proprietary infrastructure for identity and Spotify created a service in which artists could eke out payment from works that were otherwise just being pirated. The actual creators who make the internet worth visiting are forced to accept the exploitative, ever-changing terms of digital middlemen.
This is the problem that the technology behind crypto solves, at least in theory: If the original internet let you easily copy information, the next internet will let you easily trade ownership of digital goods. Crypto lets you make digital goods scarce, which increases their value; it lets you prove ownership, which allows you to buy and sell them; and it makes digital identities verifiable, as that's merely information you own. Together, they unlock the potential for a true economy for digital goods, where creators actually get rewarded for what they make. I will admit to some skepticism that this is how it'll play out, as many of the financiers funding crypto also founded and sit on the boards of the companies that set the terms of today's internet, but we'll see.
To the extent this new economy for digital goods is visible now, it's in the strange, frothy market for NFTs '-- non-fungible tokens, like the digital art being sold for tens of millions of dollars. But as people begin to spend more and more time in online ''metaverses'' '-- yes, all these sentences are as weird to write as they are to read '-- we're going to see an explosion of online economies with goods and services that no one can currently predict. The key words there, however, are ''going to.'' These are nascent technologies. Regulating them would be, in the eyes of the crypto community, disastrous. And some in Congress agree. Which brings us to the fight over the infrastructure bill.
Who Trusts the Treasury Department? ''Let's recognize if we gathered all 100 senators in this chamber and asked them to stand up and articulate two sentences defining what in the hell a cryptocurrency is, that you would not get greater than five who could answer that question,'' Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said on Monday. His point was simple: Congress doesn't understand crypto, so it shouldn't regulate it.
I'll be generous and say Cruz has this one half right. Congress doesn't have the expertise to directly regulate the crypto markets, but then, Congress isn't proposing to directly regulate the crypto markets. It's empowering the Treasury Department to do so. Tucked inside the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill is a provision reinforcing the Treasury Department's authority to force tax compliance from the ''brokers'' who are part of those transactions. This was a rare bit of tax policy members of both parties could agree on. It was added to the legislation by Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, and backed by the Biden administration.
''The tax enforcement agenda the president has put forward is focused on '-- and this is basic '-- having people pay the taxes that are owed under current law,'' David Kamin, a deputy director of the National Economic Council, told me. ''Disproportionately, there is evasion when it comes to those at the top, often because their sources of income are more opaque.'' And no market is more opaque right now than the crypto markets.
Portman's proposal gave the Treasury Department broad authority to define ''brokers'' in the crypto markets, and compel them to issue 1099s and comply with the tax code. The proposal was too broad, in the eyes of the crypto community, which mounted a furious lobbying effort against it. ''I don't know how Treasury will use that authority,'' said Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, a pro-crypto advocacy group. ''I fear they'll use it in a way that has unintended consequences because they don't understand the technology.''
Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, Senator Cynthia Lummis, a Wyoming Republican, and Senator Patrick Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, agreed, and fought to sharply narrow who could be defined as a broker. ''If 20 years ago everyone would've come in with all this inept regulation, you would have lost some of the real opportunities to have the internet grow and prosper,'' Wyden told me. ''I think the same thing is true here.''
But many in Washington, far from feeling like they're regulating crypto networks too soon, think they're entering, if anything, too late. ''We spent, to my memory, no time on crypto at the White House from 2009 to 2017,'' Jason Furman, who led President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers during his second term, told me. ''I'm sure there were conversations happening within Treasury and within the regulators, but virtually nothing came out of them. So Washington is really behind in dealing with this industry.''
The Financial Crisis Shaped Crypto. It Also Shaped Crypto's Regulators. For all the gauzy stories of what crypto could become, there's the simple reality of what it mostly is right now: A financial market in which highly volatile assets are traded, where scams and hacks and broken promises abound, and with DeFi, where complex derivatives and financial instruments are being invented and swapped. One worry many in the government have is that these markets are thriving through the avoidance of taxes and regulations.
This is a story we've seen before: Amazon got an early advantage by dodging sales taxes for years, and Uber and Lyft evaded transportation and labor regulations until they got powerful enough to essentially rewrite those rules themselves. But there are particular dangers to financial instruments designed to skirt oversight. Anyone who lived through the 2008 financial crisis knows the threat of shadow banking sectors.
''It is untenable to allow an unregulated, unlicensed derivatives market to compete, side-by-side, with a fully regulated and licensed derivatives market,'' Dan Berkovitz, the commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said in a June speech. ''In addition to the absence of market safeguards and customer protections in the unregulated market, it is unfair to impose the obligations, restrictions, and costs of regulation upon some market participants while permitting their unregulated competitors to operate wholly free of such obligations, restrictions, and costs.''
Still, when I talked to staffers at the Treasury Department, they seemed a bit shellshocked by the past week. To them, the mobilization against Portman's language was a bizarre overreaction to a modest provision that would be followed by a multiyear rule-making process, where the crypto industry would have plenty of say. The language of the bill was expansive not because the Treasury Department want to force everyone who touches a blockchain to produce a 1099, but because they don't want to prejudge how the crypto networks were structured. Crypto advocates keep saying that they shouldn't be regulated until they're better understood, but that's precisely, from the Treasury Department's point of view, why Congress shouldn't tie its hands before it can go through a full regulatory process.
Of course, the crypto world saw the effort differently. ''The language was overbroad, and it still is,'' Katie Haun, a co-chair of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz's crypto fund, told me. ''It could be read to encompass software developers and miners. A possible reading '-- and where there's a possible reading, it chills activity '-- is whether, on every transaction, you'd have to make a filing. Treasury says that's not what they were intending to capture, but that left uncertainty, and uncertainty chills innovation, and moves it offshore.''
The oddity of reporting this story is that everyone, on all sides, swears they want the same things. All the people I spoke to in the crypto universe agreed that there needed to be tax compliance, they just didn't want to see software developers or blockchain miners caught up in an I.R.S. dragnet. All the people I spoke to on the government side said they were just trying to get the information necessary for tax compliance, and that they had no intention of bothering software developers and blockchain miners who weren't actually brokering transactions.
I am, of course, being a bit purposefully naive here. The truth is that there's some mixture of misunderstanding, mistrust and regulatory jockeying on all sides. The crypto industry wants to be lightly regulated and undertaxed, just like every industry does, and many of its key players are deeply hostile to the government '-- the genesis of the technology, after all, is an effort to wrest the control of currencies away from governments, even if the money flooding into the sector has ensured that crypto will be intimately entwined with governments.
The federal government, for its part, wants broad authority, in part because it believes that carve-outs will be used for tax and regulatory avoidance. It fears a future in which crypto is big enough to pose risks to the financial system, and it doesn't have the tools or reporting to see and manage those risks, just as was true in the derivatives markets in 2007.
There is an irony in this. The cryptocurrency boom was partly a reaction to the collapse in trust toward governments that followed the financial crisis. But that same sector is now going to be scrutinized by governments that, after the financial crisis, have become much more skeptical of young whiz kids who are making wild profits off new, highly complex and volatile assets and financial instruments.
''You have to ask yourself: Do you think, in general, finance is an area that's over or underregulated?'' Furman told me. ''Are you more concerned all sorts of cool products don't exist because of regulation or are you worried people are being ripped off and taken advantage of? I know which side of that I'm on.''
The bill ultimately passed the Senate with the crypto language unchanged. There was a compromise proposal that both sides supported, but for procedural reasons too inane to go into here, it needed unanimous consent, and Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, blocked it in order to try to get $50 billion in unrelated defense spending added to the bill. Shelby failed, but he took the crypto compromise down with him. As I've said before: The Senate is a ridiculous institution, run by ridiculous rules. But this is the beginning of what will be, for better and worse, a long relationship between the government and the crypto community. After all, this was just about tax compliance. How to track and minimize financial risk in the crypto markets is going to be much harder, but that fight is still to come.
''What I like about the infrastructure bill is this showed a recognition on the part of the 67 senators who voted for the bill that crypto is here to stay,'' Haun told me. ''This is an industry that's maturing. It's not in the shadows.''
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White House's OPEC blame masks bad US energy policy | Fox Business
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 11:45
The White House is trying to blame OPEC Plus Russia for rising gas prices after the Biden administration hamstrung U.S. oil producers with policies that hampered domestic oil and gasoline production.
With prices at the pump sitting at seven-year highs, $3.18 per gallon, per AAA, the pressure mounts on the administration, which noted OPEC's July agreement to raise production by 400,000 barrels was "simply not enough at a critical moment in the global recovery."
Ticker Security Last Change Change % USO UNITED STATES OIL FUND L.P. 48.30 +0.62 +1.30% "President Biden has made clear that he wants Americans to have access to affordable and reliable energy, including at the pump. Although we are not a party to OPEC, the United States will always speak to international partners regarding issues of significance that affect our national economic and security affairs, in public and private. We are engaging with relevant OPEC+ members on the importance of competitive markets in setting prices. Competitive energy markets will ensure reliable and stable energy supplies, and OPEC+ must do more to support the recovery," wrote National Security adviser Jake Sullivan.
There is no doubt that tight oil supplies are one of the reasons why gasoline prices have gone up and that is putting the economic recovery at risk, but it is the Biden administration's policies, not OPEC, that are to blame.
How can OPEC Plus be the reason for high energy prices when U.S. energy concerns are not producing as much oil as they did before the pandemic? To blame OPEC is very hypocritical of the administration because this is the same administration that has canceled the Keystone Pipeline, put drilling moratoriums on federal lands, and has discouraged investment in oil and gas production and pipelines at home.
He discouraged U.S. oil and gas production by rejoining the Paris climate accords and vowed to make "the most aggressive" carbon cut the U.S. can make. He also said he sought to end all so-called fossil-fuel subsidies and that is causing oil and gas investment to look elsewhere.
U.S. energy production that had soared over 13 million barrels a day under the Trump administration has fallen to just 11.2 million barrels a day, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA reduced its outlook for oil production going forward as well only getting to 11.8 million barrels all of next year. That is because U.S. producers are pulling back on investment because of the Biden administration's energy and climate policies.
Why doesn't the Biden administration call on U.S. energy producers to raise output? U.S. energy producers should be able to build back better. They are the cleanest and most efficient producers on the face of the earth and could create high-paying U.S. union jobs. The Biden administration outsourced our oil and gas production to foreign countries and now it is complaining that other countries are not doing enough to fill the void from the pullback from U.S. energy producers.
The Biden administration now seems to be admitting that its policies have allowed OPEC plus Russia to have much influence on U.S. gasoline prices and our economy. It was the Biden administration that gave it that power. Under Biden and stricter rules, we not only have less oil production but also less refining capacity and are more dependent on gasoline imports from other countries. USA oil exports have plummeted in recent weeks and we are becoming more dependent on oil imports. That is also going to add to our trade deficit that was brought down in large measure by U.S. energy exports.
The Biden energy policy has been a failure. It's failed the American people. It's failed American businesses. It's failed union oil workers. Hopefully, this OPEC plea for more oil will be a wake-up call for the administration. It should start to realize that the best energy producer in the world is a U.S. energy oil and gas producer. The Biden administration should work with them not against them. I'd much rather work with U.S. energy companies than have to beg OPEC and Russia for more oil. Let U.S. energy and gas companies do their job and reduce our dependence on OPEC plus oil once and for all.
Phil Flynn is senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. He is one of the world's leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets. His precise and timely forecasts have come to be in great demand by industry and media worldwide and his impressive career goes back almost three decades, gaining attention with his market calls and energetic personality as writer of The Energy Report. You can contact Phil by phone at (888) 264-5665 or by email at pflynn@pricegroup.com.
Texas Governor Asks for COVID Help After Royally F--king Up Pandemic Response | Vanity Fair
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 11:36
As you've probably heard by now, Texas governor Greg Abbott has spent the last year and change doing everything in his power to turn his state into a COVID-infested hellhole. And lately, he's been successful! Ranking in the bottom third of vaccinations in the country, Texas recorded almost 17,000 new cases on Saturday, a single-day figure not seen since February, according to The Wall Street Journal. Hospitalizations have almost doubled every two weeks since the start of summer. Austin officials warned of a coming ''catastrophe'' on Monday. Patients in Houston have been transferred out of the city, with one being sent to North Dakota. At least 53 hospitals have run out of ICU beds, with others quickly dwindling. ''This surge is by far the fastest and most aggressive that we've seen,'' Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County's health authority, said last week. ''ICU staff are seeing a younger population in our hospitals. Patients in the ICU are sicker and stay in the hospital longer than with prior surges, putting more strain on hospital resources.''
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Things are so bad, in fact, that Abbott has asked that hospitals postpone all elective medical procedures voluntarily, and on Monday, directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to find additional medical staff outside the state as the delta variant overwhelms local medical resources. But apparently they're not yet bad enough for him to reverse his idiotic stance on masking and other public health measures, or rethink the order he signed making it illegal for other officials to enforce them.
Per the Associated Press:
The governor is taking action short of lifting his emergency order banning county and local government entities from requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing to lower the COVID-19 risk. Abbott has said repeatedly that Texans have the information and intelligence to make their own decisions on what steps to take to protect their health and the health of those around them.
Meantime, one of Houston's two county-owned hospitals was pitching tents to accommodate its COVID-19 overflow. Harris Health System and Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in northeastern Houston added nearly 2,000 square feet of medical tents in the hope of taking control of the anticipated increase in patient volume and keep staff and non-COVID-19 patients safe.
The hospitals don't have enough ICU beds, they're pitching tents and shipping people out of state, but ask people to wear masks? What are you, nuts? In related news, Texas does not appear to be scrapping its insane new guidance for schools, which as a reminder says that:
Schools need not conduct contact tracingSchools do not need to let parents know if a student has tested positive for the virusParents can still send their kids to school even if they've come in contact with an infected personOn the bright side, Abbott has made time to catch up on extracurricular activities:
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As you've probably heard by now, Texas governor Greg Abbott has spent the last year and change doing everything in his power to turn his state into a COVID-infested hellhole. And lately, he's been successful! Ranking in the bottom third of vaccinations in the country, Texas recorded almost 17,000 new cases on Saturday, a single-day figure not seen since February, according to The Wall Street Journal. Hospitalizations have almost doubled every two weeks since the start of summer. Austin officials warned of a coming ''catastrophe'' on Monday. Patients in Houston have been transferred out of the city, with one being sent to North Dakota. At least 53 hospitals have run out of ICU beds, with others quickly dwindling. ''This surge is by far the fastest and most aggressive that we've seen,'' Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County's health authority, said last week. ''ICU staff are seeing a younger population in our hospitals. Patients in the ICU are sicker and stay in the hospital longer than with prior surges, putting more strain on hospital resources.''
Schools need not conduct contact tracingSchools do not need to let parents know if a student has tested positive for the virusParents can still send their kids to school even if they've come in contact with an infected personhttps://twitter.com/therecount/status/1424890740304490500More Great Stories From Vanity Fair You have read all of your free articles for this month.
Suspected saline switch sparks vaccine stir in Germany | Reuters
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 11:20
BERLIN, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Authorities in northern Germany appealed to thousands of people on Tuesday to get another shot of COVID-19 vaccine after a police investigation found that a Red Cross nurse may have injected them with a saline solution.
The nurse is suspected of injecting salt solution into people's arms instead of genuine doses at a vaccination centre in Friesland - a rural district near the North Sea coast - in the early spring.
"I am totally shocked by this episode," Sven Ambrosy, a local councillor, said on Facebook as local authorities issued the call to around 8,600 residents who may have been affected.
While saline solution is harmless, most people who got vaccinated in Germany in March and April - when the suspected switch took place - are elderly people at high risk of catching the potentially fatal viral disease.
People arrive to receive a vaccine against COVID-19 at a centre at in Dresden, Germany, July 29, 2021. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel/File PhotoPolice investigator Peter Beer, speaking earlier at a news conference covered by German media, said that based on witness statements there was "a reasonable suspicion of danger".
The motive of the nurse, who was not named, was not clear but she had aired sceptical views about vaccines in social media posts, police investigators said.
It was not immediately clear whether the suspect had been arrested or charged in the case, which according to broadcaster NDR has been handed to a special unit that investigates politically motivated crimes.
Local police declined to comment outside of normal working hours.
Reporting by Douglas BusvineEditing by Mark Heinrich
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Cryptocurrency theft: Hackers steal $600 million in Poly Network hack
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 04:06
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More than $600 million was stolen in what is likely to be one of the biggest cryptocurrency thefts ever.Hackers exploited a vulnerability in Poly Network, a platform that looks to connect different blockchains so that they can work together.In a strange turn of events Wednesday, hackers returned almost half of the funds they stole.Andrew Brookes | Cultura | Getty Images
Hackers have returned nearly half of the $600 million they stole in what's likely to be one of the biggest cryptocurrency thefts ever.
The cybercriminals exploited a vulnerability in Poly Network, a platform that looks to connect different blockchains so that they can work together.
Poly Network disclosed the attack Tuesday and asked to establish communication with the hackers, urging them to "return the hacked assets."
A blockchain is a ledger of activities upon which various cryptocurrencies are based. Each digital coin has its own blockchain and they're different from each other. Poly Network claims to be able to make these various blockchains work with each other.
Poly Network is a decentralized finance platform. DeFi is a broad term encompassing financial applications based on blockchain technology that looks to cut out intermediaries '-- such as brokerages and exchanges. Hence, it's dubbed decentralized.
Proponents say this can make financial applications such as lending or borrowing more efficient and cheaper.
"The amount of money you hacked is the biggest in defi history," Poly Network said in a tweet.
Hackers start to return the fundsIn a strange turn of events Wednesday, the hackers began returning some of the funds they stole.
They sent a message to Poly Network embedded in a cryptocurrency transaction saying they were "ready to return" the funds. The DeFi platform responded requesting the money be sent to three crypto addresses.
As of 7 a.m. London time, more than $4.8 million had been returned to the Poly Network addresses. By 11 a.m. ET, about $258 million had been sent back.
"I think this demonstrates that even if you can steal cryptoassets, laundering them and cashing out is extremely difficult, due to the transparency of the blockchain and the use of blockchain analytics," Tom Robinson, chief scientist of blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, said via email.
"In this case the hacker concluded that the safest option was just to return the stolen assets."
Once the hackers stole the money, they began to send it to various other cryptocurrency addresses. Researchers at security company SlowMist said a total of more than $610 million worth of cryptocurrency was transferred to three addresses.
SlowMist said in a tweet that its researchers had "grasped the attacker's mailbox, IP, and device fingerprints" and are "tracking possible identity clues related to the Poly Network attacker."
The researchers concluded that the theft was "likely to be a long-planned, organized and prepared attack."
Poly Network urged cryptocurrency exchanges to "blacklist tokens" coming from the addresses that were linked to the hackers.
About $33 million of Tether that was part of the theft has been frozen, according to the stablecoin's issuer.
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of major cryptocurrency exchange Binance, said he was aware of the attack.
He said Binance is "coordinating with all our security partners to proactively help," but that "there are no guarantees."
"We will take legal actions and we urge the hackers to return the assets," Poly Network said on Twitter.
DeFi hacks on the riseDeFi has become a key target for attacks.
Since the start of the year until July, DeFi-related hacks totaled $361 million '-- an increase of nearly three times from all of 2020, according to cryptocurrency compliance company CipherTrace.
DeFi-related fraud is also on the rise. In the first seven months of the year, it accounted for 54% of total crypto fraud volume versus 3% for all of last year.
Opinion | South Africa Is Falling Apart - The New York Times
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 03:43
Guest Essay
July 28, 2021
A man fired a handgun in the air in the Vosloorus township of South Africa to disperse suspected looters on July 14. The events of the past weeks demonstrated a bleak truth about the country. Credit... Guillem Sartorio/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images By William Shoki
Mr. Shoki is a South African journalist who writes extensively about the country's politics and society.
JOHANNESBURG '-- In the past few weeks, South Africa was gripped by the biggest explosion of unrest in decades. Shopping malls and warehouses were looted, supply trucks attacked and businesses destroyed. At least 337 people died.
Initially, as families loaded up on consumer goods they would otherwise be unable to afford, the tumult seemed like an organic expression of popular discontent. After all, with unemployment over 30 percent, hunger widespread and inequality spiraling, there's ample cause for anger. But far from a spontaneous social revolt, the rioting seems to have been politically orchestrated.
After Jacob Zuma, the country's former president, was arrested on July 7 '-- to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt of court '-- his supporters and allies vowed to make the country ungovernable. Coordinating a campaign of economic sabotage through WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter and other social networks, they succeeded.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has since sought to calm the country, suggesting the worst is over. But it doesn't feel that way. In fact, the events of the past weeks have demonstrated a bleak truth about the country. The deep rot of South Africa's social and political order '-- rife with racial tension, communal mistrust, injustice and corruption '-- is now on full display. The rainbow nation, supposed beacon of reconciliation, is falling apart.
At the heart of the discord is the ruling African National Congress. In the 27 years since it steered South Africa to democracy, it has carried the hopes of millions of South Africans. Drawing on its reputation as the party of liberation, it has strong support and remains electorally unassailable. But it has now become squarely a source of division. A devastating battle for its soul is underway, with the country as the battlefield.
Driving the conflict are the forces loyal to Mr. Zuma, mostly composed of disgraced politicians who seek to be returned to their former positions of privilege. Though the A.N.C. always promoted the rise of a Black elite, Mr. Zuma's presidency, beginning in 2009, changed the focus: The state, rather than the market, became the main site for opportunity and enrichment. A spurious ideology of ''Radical Economic Transformation,'' spun as a radical challenge to South Africa's white-dominated private sector, provided rhetorical cover for corruption and patronage. Now removed from power, the beneficiaries of Mr. Zuma's rule are determined to wreak havoc.
Image President Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to root out corruption have been mixed at best. Credit... Rogan Ward/Reuters Image Forces loyal to Jacob Zuma, the former president, are driving the conflict. Credit... Shiraaz Mohamed/Associated Press In their sights is Mr. Ramaphosa, who rose to power in 2018 on an anti-corruption platform. His efforts to root out endemic graft in his party '-- and by extension, the South African state '-- have been mixed at best. Before the drama of Mr. Zuma's arrest, the country was stunned by the news that Zweli Mkhize, the well-liked health minister, played a role in awarding a contract worth $10 million to a communications company run by two associates. Though Mr. Ramaphosa recently escalated his anti-corruption push '-- not least by suspending the A.N.C.'s secretary general this year '-- Mr. Mkhize's example underlines how widespread the looting of state resources has been. It's clearly not just a case of bad apples. The batch is rotten.
And yet no political force looks able to hold the A.N.C. to account. The two major opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, have retired any ambitions of becoming mass parties capable of challenging the A.N.C. After some years of growth as the anti-Zuma opposition, the Democratic Alliance has doubled down on its identity as a party of white liberals; the Economic Freedom Fighters has reduced itself to an extension of Mr. Zuma's faction of the A.N.C. Tellingly, in his last days as a free man, Mr. Zuma was flanked by Dali Mpofu, a former national chair of the E.F.F.
In the absence of effective opposition, the A.N.C. is coming apart at the seams. Never a party of ideology, it has always been a broad coalition united in opposition to minority rule. Since the end of apartheid, it has struggled to develop a stable political identity. Given the party's enduring popularity, the challenge is less regaining public credibility than finding internal coherence. But until another party rivals the A.N.C., we can expect it to rest on its laurels. That spells a future of more factional strife and poor governance, at great cost to the country.
The president, for his part, is using the unrest's aftermath as an opportunity to rebuild. As one of the key negotiators of South Africa's liberal Constitution, Mr. Ramaphosa hopes to tap into the spirit of that time '-- a moment also marked by violence, when things felt equally on a knife's edge. But these reserves are low. Back then, at the end of apartheid, the promise of democracy filled many with hope. Now, after nearly three decades of things remaining mostly the same, many people just feel despair.
An uneasy calm has settled. How long it lasts is anyone's guess. Yet the past few weeks have conclusively dispelled many illusions about the country, none more so than the myth of South African exceptionalism '-- of a South Africa more peaceful than its African neighbors, more developed and with a future that bends inevitably toward good and triumph. The reality, as we await the next outbreak of violence, is much uglier.
Under investigation: Twelve masterminds planned and exe...
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 03:41
Suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frikkie Kapp) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | Former special ops boss Thulani 'Silence' Dlomo. (Photo: www.min-on.org)
South Africa suffered an insurrection attempt this week with two provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, disabled and national fuel and food supply lines disrupted. It is the first such campaign organised and orchestrated on social media and shows the potency of the medium. Just over 38 million South Africans are now on the internet and 25 million of us are on social media. More than 70 people have died, at least 1,354 people have been arrested and 12 ringleaders are being investigated for a political campaign that has spiralled out of the control of its firestarters.
The first arson ''protests'' at the weekend, in which 35 trucks were torched on the N3, which links Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal and is South Africa's food and fuel route, started the darkest week of anarchy in the country's recent history. Information has now emerged that this was planned by intelligence operatives and other cadres loyal to Jacob Zuma. The former president is jailed at the Estcourt Correctional Centre for contempt of court and his loyalists want him out.
''These are people with experience of running operations,'' said Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa at a briefing on Wednesday. News24 reported that Zuma's leading spymaster and the former ambassador to Japan, Thulani Dlomo, is one of 12 ringleaders being investigated by the police's Crime Intelligence and by state intelligence as being the architects of a political campaign of which they have lost control.
The SA National Defence Force contingent deployed to end the violence was on Wednesday increased to 25,000 soldiers as the government battled to bring the situation under control: overnight, 208 more incidents of looting were reported '' 52 in Gauteng and 156 in KwaZulu-Natal.
While Gauteng appears to be coming under control, the looting in Durban is being live-streamed as police prove either unable or unwilling to control the mayhem, which Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said had already cost the port city R15-billion in the week following Zuma's jailing.
The insurrection was organised on social media once the 12 masterminds had crafted the strategy of chaos, according to senior ANC and intelligence sources who were interviewed by Daily Maverick on condition of anonymity. The chat messages in the graphic below have been filtered off social media and reportedly come from groups on WhatsApp and Telegram where the insurrectionists organised.
The common theory now is that the truck burnings were relatively easy to organise because of the long tail of renegade MK groups (organised in new movements) active in the sector. They have been campaigning against foreign truck drivers and are regarded as being behind arson attacks on truckers for at least the past three years. Police have promised to clamp down but have not substantially dealt with the killings of more than 200 truckers since 2018.
In November 2020, two truckers died and 30 trucks were set alight in anti-foreign driver campaigns allegedly by the All Truck Drivers Forum.
From the N3 campaign, the plan was to attack symbols of ''White Monopoly Capital'', which explains the looting of warehouses and more than 200 malls. Specific chains were targeted.
Social media messages (such as these above) reveal what was discussed at the ANC National Executive Committee meeting at the weekend and which sources in intelligence have confirmed are part of the data pile being analysed to find the ringleaders.
''We issue a stern warning to those circulating inflammatory messages on various social media platforms which are aimed at inciting violence and disregard of the law,'' said the Cabinet security cluster in a statement on Tuesday. The Cabinet has asked the platform companies to track these messages and to take them down. The police cyber-crimes unit is also investigating the use of social media in incitement and as a key facet of the insurrection.
These social posters above harvested from Twitter and other platforms show the political genesis of the looting and protest campaign '' and its insurrectionary characteristics. They reveal that shutdowns were initially organised in ANC colours and that the release of Zuma is still a key demand. One of the messages tells organisers not to wear ANC colours.
While the looting campaign has appeared to be organic and leaderless, an intelligence document seen by Daily Maverick says the organisers may have worked through disgruntled ward councillors and other local ANC leaders. KwaZulu-Natal is the most divided of the ANC provinces. Neither KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala nor Mayor Kaunda have been able to condemn the mayhem without adding the rider that they do not agree with Zuma's jailing and support a presidential pardon for him.
Social media accounts used by the so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction of the ANC are high-fiving the worst violence and keep appending posts demanding Zuma's release to these. One of the social cards shows the early advertisement of a ''Rampahosa must fall'' march on July 30, which seems to be the ultimate outcome of the protests: to displace the current establishment of the ANC with the RET grouping. Daily Maverick was unable to confirm whether or not this march will go ahead.
This grouping has revealed its desperation with the campaign of violence that knee-capped South Africa. A reformed National Prosecuting Authority has put key players like suspended Secretary-General Ace Magashule on the defensive as he faces Free State-related corruption charges in court in August. The ANC itself has put its own reform into top gear. In the past week, it has suspended RET spokesperson Carl Niehaus, Mpumalanga leader Michael Ngrayi Ngwenya and on Wednesday suspended the Eastern Cape renegade politician, Andile Lungisa.
The RET feeder and funder networks have been disabled by the revelations at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture '' the institution whose work has turned up the heat so much that it has catalysed what some are calling an ''attempted coup'' this week. The insurgency or riots reveal the potency of social media as an organising tool. For a population of 59.67-million people, South Africa has 100.6 million mobile connections '' people have multiple SIM cards.
There are now 38.19 million internet users in the country, according to the Ornico SA Social Media Landscape Report released in June, and 25 million of those are active social media users.
So, it's no surprise that the protests and looting are likely to have been organised on WhatsApp (or Telegram, which is preferred by political cadres) and then amplified on Facebook and Twitter. But social media is also being used to stage a counter-rebellion of the good.
Communities are organising themselves into watch-patrols and clean-up teams to seize the upper hand from the organisers of a campaign that has halted the optimistic momentum of South Africa's vaccine drive and which threatens the green shoots of economic recovery from the devastating Covid-19 campaign. DM
See this interactive map below '' you can click on the red hot spots for specific details of the areas, and can zoom in using your mouse.
These hotspots have been collated from reports of violence between Friday, 9 July, and Wednesday, 14 July 2021, and represent key areas of violence rather than all instances. They are not exhaustive and instances of violence continue to be reported. On Wednesday, 14 July, at 4.30pm, Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said 52 incidents of violence in Gauteng and 156 incidents in KwaZulu-Natal had been reported overnight. (Collated by Greg Nicolson and Karabo Mafolo in collaboration with data from the Institute for Security Studies)
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Biden's infrastructure bill is chock-full of anti-white racism
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 03:34
By Betsy McCaughey
August 11, 2021 | 7:08pm
The infrastructure bill the Senate passed Tuesday discriminates against white people at every turn.
Americans are enthusiastic about spending money on physical infrastructure '-- bridges, roads, broadband. But this racist bill hands out jobs and contracts and locates projects based on race, not merit. Minority businesses and neighborhoods hold the inside track. If you're white, you're low priority.
The bill includes grants to install solar or wind technologies and generate jobs in areas decimated by closing coal mines or coal-fired electric plants. Here's the catch: When contractors bid, the bill says minority-owned businesses will get selected first. Bad news for small-time white contractors in depressed areas.
The same is true for the bill's proposals to improve traffic patterns in cities. Contractors and subcontractors get priority only if they're owned by minorities or women. White male business owners can take a hike.
Americans should be outraged '-- but not surprised. After all, Biden's American Rescue Plan Act, passed in March, also put into place an ugly system of discrimination against whites. It offered debt relief to black farmers, but not white farmers. Another provision offered billions in aid to minority-owned and women-owned restaurants, but told struggling restaurants owners who happened to be white men that they had to go to the back of the line.
President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill is full of discrimination. AP Photo/Susan WalshThe injustice was obvious. White male farmers and restaurant owners sued, claiming the anti-white provisions are unconstitutional. So far, these challengers are winning. In every case, federal judges have halted the race-based programs in the American Rescue Plan Act until the challengers have their day in court. Politico reported last week that Biden's Justice Department may fold without a fight on the black-farmer debt-relief cases, because the law isn't on the administration's side.
The infrastructure hides discriminatory policies behind popular public work projects. EPA/JUSTIN LANEYou would think Democrats and the Biden White House would get the message. Instead, they're doubling down on rigging legislation and divvying up taxpayer dollars to benefit minorities and shortchange whites.
Chances are high the infrastructure bill's hodge-podge of anti-white discrimination will be struck down by federal courts. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution bars government from trying to even the score by discriminating against whites and in favor of minorities. The justices warned against creating ''a patchwork of racial preferences based on statistical generalizations'' to correct past injustices. That's precisely what this infrastructure bill does.
The bill's backers would have you believe that obsolete airports, dilapidated public works and deteriorating roads and public spaces are evidence of racial injustice. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) rails that ''our infrastructure is racist'' and calls on the Congress to pass a bill that ''puts the needs of underserved and disadvantaged communities at the fore.''
That's code for minority communities. But the truth is, there are plenty of poor white people in this country, too, and poor, predominantly white communities that could benefit from a bold federal infrastructure initiative. Race and ethnicity should have nothing to do with it. Locate the projects and put the funds where the economic need is greatest, regardless of race.
Rep. Yvette Clarke claims that ''our infrastructure is racist.'' Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Green New Deal NetworkWest Virginia has the lowest average income in the nation and ranks 46th in Internet connectivity. Maine ranks 36 out of 50 states for income, and 34th in broadband connectivity. People in these states could really benefit from federal broadband assistance. Here's the hitch: The infrastructure bill tilts the grant scale in favor of states with high minority and non-English speaking populations, instead of considering only economic need and existing broadband capacity. Because Maine and West Virginia are 94 percent white, they'll get less.
Polls show that Americans favor fixing roads, bridges, tunnels and airports. They know that good infrastructure promotes economic growth. But they've been kept in the dark about the fine print in the bill. Under the guise of upgrading the nation, the bill unfairly treats whites like second-class citizens.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.
Masks again required in Dallas County schools, businesses under new mandate from Judge Clay Jenkins
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 22:26
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Masks will once again be required in schools, businesses and county buildings, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced Wednesday.
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This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Masks will once again be required in schools, businesses and county buildings, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced Wednesday.
His new executive order comes after a Dallas district judge issued a temporary restraining order late Tuesday that restricts enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on mask mandates and as school districts and local governments across the state line up to defy the governor's order.
The new masking mandate goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, and requires the following:
Masks must be worn by all teachers, staff, students and visitors to child care centers and Pre-K through 12th grade schools in Dallas County. Dallas ISD already said they'd require masks and other districts have followed suit. Schools may also develop further requirements including social distancing in classrooms. All ''commercial entities in Dallas County providing goods or services directly to the public,'' the order mandates, must develop a health and safety policy that includes mask wearing indoors. This includes retail stories, bars and restaurants, but also many offices and other businesses, Jenkins said. Signs stating the policy must be visible and posted near the door of a business. A fine of up to $1,000 may be issued for businesses that violate the order. Masks are required in all Dallas County buildings. Masks are not required in private homes, but are strongly encouraged for anyone 2 years old or older in general public spaces. No penalty will be enforced. Jenkins said he worked with school superintendents, restaurant, bar and retail owners and more when crafting the order.
''Your personal freedom is important to me and to you, but your personal freedom doesn't come to harming your neighbors,'' Jenkins said. ''I'm hopeful that we will turn the tide somewhat with these orders.''
Jenkins has said that masking is necessary to help slow the spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus as cases skyrocket and hospitals quickly run out of beds. The county announced over 3,000 new cases in three-day totals yesterday. UT Southwestern Medical Center predicts the county will reach more than 2,000 cases a day and 1,500-plus hospitalized patients by late August.
Jenkins first issued mask orders in April 2020, a month after coronavirus cases first started popping up in Dallas County and elsewhere. At that time, orders also included lockdown and occupancy limits. Jenkins said that CDC guidance has changed and is not recommending such drastic action, but that the order could change.
''You may see more orders, you may see changes,'' Jenkins said. ''It's a small price to pay to protect our children and public health.''
Public health experts say the new variant is especially concerning for children under 12 years old who cannot get the vaccine. As classes start back up for the school year, only two pediatric ICU beds were available Tuesday in all of North Texas.
Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD have defied the governor's order, saying they will require masks. A Bexar County judge issued another restraining order, allowing the county and city of San Antonio to require masks in government-owned buildings and schools.
Immediately following Jenkins' announcement, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Richardson, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville and Lancaster school districts confirmed they would enforce a mask mandate. Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa already announced earlier this week that DISD would enforce its own mask requirement.
''Although we are four independent school districts, our families and communities regularly engage and interact with one another. One community's health and well-being are interdependent with the neighboring communities,'' the superintendents of Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville and Lancaster wrote in a statement. ''We believe this emergency order aligns with our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our communities.''
Representatives from Coppell, Highland Park, Garland and Sunnyvale ISDs indicated their districts were still working through the decision, not committing to the order or against it yet.
''At this time, Sunnyvale ISD will meet with legal counsel to fully understand the scope of this situation so that we can make the best decision for our students, teachers and families,'' spokeswoman Emily White said via text.
A spokesperson from Irving ISD did not respond to a question about mask requirements immediately.
In a message to families, Richardson officials acknowledged how quickly the mask rules were evolving.
''This situation continues to change, and the potential for additional legal action may change the situation again in the coming days or weeks,'' they wrote. ''For now, masks will be required.''
Jenkins' similar order is the result of a win in the courts late Tuesday as part of a suit between Jenkins and Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch, who was escorted from a commissioners court meeting last week for not wearing a mask. Koch sued Jenkins for violating Abbott's order, who in turn sued the governor.
A Dallas County judge heard arguments from Jenkins' and Abbott's attorneys Tuesday, before deciding that the governor's executive order precluding local mask mandates was ''not [a] necessary action to combat the pandemic.''
''The citizens of Dallas County have and will continue to be damaged and injured by Governor Abbott's conduct,'' the order reads. ''Judge Jenkins cannot be precluded from implementing the mitigation strategies he believes are sound, reliable, and backed by scientific evidence.''
A hearing on whether the temporary order should become a permanent injunction is scheduled for Aug. 24. Jenkins' lawyers said Wednesday they expected there wouldn't be a challenge to the order until then.
Attorney General Ken Paxton told conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch on Wednesday he plans to appeal the Dallas judge's decision to the Texas Supreme Court, and hopes to get a ruling later this week or early next on whether Jenkins' order can stand.
He and Abbott have dug in on the ban on mandates, saying it should be up to individual Texans to choose to wear a mask '-- although Abbott has repeatedly encouraged people to do so.
''[Jenkins] can't just make up laws and choose laws that he doesn't like,'' Paxton said on Loesch's radio show. ''He may get liberal judges in Dallas County to do as he asks, but ultimately I think we have a Texas Supreme Court that will follow the law.''
Reporters Emily Donaldson, Talia Richman and Corbett Smith contributed to this report.
Jen Psaki is mocked for saying Taliban should consider their role in the international community | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 21:51
With the Taliban making rapid advances across Afghanistan, the White House tried a new tack on Wednesday as it defended President Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. troops: Appeal to the Taliban's better nature.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said there was no getting away from the fact that Afghan government forces were struggling, but added: 'The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community.'
It was part of a strategy designed to nudge them to the negotiating table.
But the immediate impact at home was a wave of ridicule.
'Psaki won't be able to tempt them to civility with a seat on the Human Rights Council or expect them to show up to a global warming get-together with Greta Thunberg,' said Jim Carafano, national security expert at the Heritage Foundation.
'This is an administration acting like a deer in the headlights on this issue.'
Commentators on social media were quick to mock Psaki's comments, saying it was unrealistic to think the Taliban would suddenly change course after years of conflict and abuse
Others joined in on Twitter.
'They want to lead the UN, solve climate change and win a Nobel,' wrote author Bruno Macaes.
Her comments came as reports surfaced of Taliban fighters going door-to-door and forcibly marrying girls as young as 12 as they seized swaths of Afghanistan from government forces.
The United Nations reported that more than 1000 civilians have been killed in the past month and the International Committee of the Red Cross says it has treated more than four thousand people since the start of the month.
A slew of commentators said that after ruling the country under the harshest vision of Sharia law, harboring al-Qaeda as Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks and keeping Afghanistan in a perpetual state of war, the Taliban had probably already made up their mind about their role.
But the jokes came with a more serious point: With troops coming home, Washington was losing its leverage.
'Why fight the Taliban when we can lecture them instead,' said Elliot Kaufman of the Wall Street Journal.
And Carafano added that it was naive to think the Taliban needed the approval of the international community.
'First of all, for years they have demonstrated they can get all the funding, support they need from sponsors, illegal activity etcetera, he said.
'They don't need the Davos crowd.
'Further, the Taliban want a close medieval society that they control, and they certainly don't want Afghans to have access to the outside world.'
Psaki's comments, he added, reflected how the administration had simply got Afghanistan wrong.
Afghans inspect damaged shops after fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan, on Sunday
About 30,000 families have been displaced due to govt and Taliban clashes in the northern provinces. Some have arrived in Kabul where they are camping in public parks
Psaki has repeatedly issued warnings from the White House briefing room as officials tell the Taliban they risk international isolation if they do not commit to peace talks in Doha, Qatar
The Taliban's rapid advance has seen them take control of almost two thirds of the country since President Biden announced the withdrawal of all remaining U.S. troops
The Taliban have surprised many observers with the pace of their advance since Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of August.
U.S. officials insist the best hope of a lasting settlement is that government forces can bring the insurgency to a stalemate, so that the Taliban have no option but to take peace talks seriously.
But so far negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government remain stalled.
Instead Taliban fighters have seized district after district, and city after city, triggering a string of warnings that they are committing human rights abuses.
They captured three more provincial capitals and an army base on Wednesday. They now hold about two thirds of the war-torn nation.
The U.N. is warning of an impending civilian catastrophe and says it has reports of possible war crimes.
Meanwhile, Biden is under intense pressure to defend his decision for such a rapid withdrawal.
On Tuesday he urged Afghans to come together in the fight and added: 'But I do not regret my decision.'
Against that backdrop, the U.S. is trying to persuade the Taliban to commit to stalled peace talks in Qatar and consider its international future.
Washington's envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived there on Monday with a message that they faced isolation if they took power through a campaign of violence.
And on Friday, the White House added its voice to calls for the Taliban to halt their offensive when Psaki urged them to 'strongly consider' the peace talks.
On Wednesday, Psaki said Khalilzad had delivered his message.
'And I know that Ambassador Khalilzad made comments when he was at the political negotiations yesterday making clear that the international community is going to watch closely how the Taliban behaves,' she said.
'They have a range of tools in their arsenal as well to take steps should they choose.'
Does the Covid-19 vaccine affect women's periods? '-- Quartz
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 18:17
There is one potential side effect of Covid-19 vaccines that has been reported consistently, and just as consistently ignored: changes to the menstrual cycles.
Women noticed a broad range of changes in their periods. In some cases, they were earlier, heavier, and more painful, while in others they were lighter and delayed. Others still experienced a mix of these changes, while a large percentage of women observed no changes, or didn't report them. The reported changes typically affect one or just a couple of cycles.
These kinds of reports have been coming up since the beginning of the vaccine rollout, prompting health authorities in the US and abroad to address them'--typically to reassure women the vaccines present no risks for fertility, or to highlight the absence of a clear connection between the vaccine and any changes in periods.
These changes are still left out of the possible side effect warning, but the reports have finally pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to at least look into the issue, so it can confirm the potential side effect.
Why aren't period changes listed in the vaccine side effects?According to the US Food and Drug Administration as well as Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson'--the three authorized vaccine manufacturers in the US'--women's consistent reports of period irregularities following the vaccine don't represent evidence that those irregularities exist.
This is at least in part due to the nature of periods, which can be irregular for many reasons, and the little actual understanding we still have about the ways specific factors affect them. In order to identify whether the vaccine alters periods, and how, researchers would need to track them before and after the vaccine is administered, and be able to control for all the other factors'--such as stress, nutrition, medications, immunological status'--that might change it.
Or, one could listen to the many thousands of women who know their periods and say the vaccine has, in some ways, affected it. This is what researchers Kate Clancy of the University of Illinois and Katharine Lee of Washington University are doing. The two are documenting reports of period changes in a study, and have so far received 140,000 reports.
The researchers told NPR they received accounts from trans men on gender-affirming therapy hormones and women in menopause who experienced period-like bleeding after the vaccine, despite not having had a period in a long time'--sometimes years.
Are period changes after the vaccine worrisome?The CDC, too, is finally searching its vaccine safety database for reports of menstrual changes to try and identify how the vaccine might impact one's period. Finding a link and sharing the information with women who are getting the vaccine would help prepare them for a potentially unpleasant side effect, and prevent unnecessary concerns.
But beyond the annoyance, discomfort, and, in some cases, pain typically associated with periods'--whether affected by vaccines or otherwise'--there is no reason to fear that the impact of vaccines on periods might be a sign of anything concerning.
In fact, while acknowledging the reports of altered periods, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists continues to strongly recommend getting the vaccine, irrespective of period cycles.
Some doctors note that the changes might slightly affect the chances of getting pregnant during the cycles that have been disrupted. But this shouldn't be reason enough to forgo the vaccine, as contracting Covid-19 infection while pregnant gravely increases the risk of severe infection and even death.
Is mutual masturbation the safest sex during COVID-19? | Play Safe
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 17:08
Let's start by saying that the only truly safe sex to be having right now is solo sex. But, if you've decided that sex with other people is something you simply can't live without'....then say hello to mutual masturbation.One method of mutual masturbation is the act of pleasuring yourself in front of a partner. Whilst some people consider mutual stimulation (hand jobs, fingering etc) as mutual masturbation, what we're talking about here involves no contact with the other person.
With COVID-19 spreading via respiratory drops, any sex aside from solo sex definitely carries risk due to the close proximity of another person. But, masturbating with a partner '' as long as you keep your distance '' is the next best thing.
The benefits of masturbating with a partnerAs well as reducing your risk of getting COVID-19, masturbating with a partner is risk-free when it comes to STIs and unwanted pregnancies. Now that's what we call a win-winYou take away the pressure. No more worrying about the other person, but instead, you get to focus on your own pleasureYou'll also learn a lot about what your partner likes simply by watching and learning. What better way to get prepared for when sex is back on the table?How to enjoy masturbating with a partner safelyMake sure you're both feeling well, and symptom-freeTalk about your expectations upfront and set the rules that work for youKeep your distance '' a minimum of 1.5 metres at all timesIf you're sharing sex toys make sure that you keep them clean by following these rulesConsider wearing masks to minimise the risk of COVID-19 even further, or even take the fun onlineDo you have any COVID-19 related sexual health questions? Ask Nurse Nettie '' it's free and confidential. Or, why not get involved in the conversation over on the Play Safe forum?
Confused about the do's and don'ts during COVID-19? Here's all you need to know on dating, safe sex, STI testing and wellbeing.
Transpower Warns Of More Emergency Outages | Newsroom
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 17:05
* Minister in last-ditch bid to avert another grid emergency from 5.30pm* Genesis Energy had dormant generators at Tokaanu and Huntly* Power generators couldn't/wouldn't meet Transpower pleas for more* Electricity Authority announces work on longterm security of supply
ANALYSIS: Transpower says it doesn't have enough generating capacity available on Tuesday evening, and could be forced to issue another Grid Emergency Notice like the one that cut power to thousands of homes last night.
Energy Minister Megan Woods talked to Transpower chief executive Alison Andrew on Monday night, then held a crisis meeting with electricity network operator Transpower and the Electricity Authority this morning.
"Obviously, New Zealanders not having power on the coldest night of the year is not something that we find acceptable," she said. "New Zealanders have a right to expect that on a cold night, their power will stay on and they'll be able to keep the lights on and heat themselves."
"There may still be a case that this could have been prevented.... Even if it really was a peak on an extremely cold night, it is still not good enough that we were not able to warm our homes."'' Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister
Woods told media she had written to generator companies seeking assurance that every available generation unit would be switched on. It appeared that had not been not the case in the outages 12 hours earlier.
Genesis Energy had shut down its Tongariro hydro plant at Tokaanu because its intake screens got blocked by weed, in gale force winds. And despite 12 hours of pleas from Transpower, it had not ramped up the Huntly power plant's third turbine '' usually a key backstop when all else fails. "I want reassurances from Genesis that we're not going to see maintenance issues like that occur again," Woods said.
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Transpower declared a ''grid emergency'' at 7pm Monday, and asked distribution companies to reduce load on their networks '' the first such crisis in 10 years. It came after 24 hours of escalating notices to generators, asking in vain that they bring more power online.
At least 20,000 households lost power entirely as high winds brought down lines and cold weather saw power use surge beyond generation capacity, Transpower said. And for nearly two hours, different power retailers turned to different tools in their kits. Some were able to turn off hot water directly; some reduced voltage; some were forced to resort to targeted or rolling blackouts. Parts of Whangārei, Auckland, Taupō, Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Kāpiti Coast and Wellington were affected.
For those that had power, wholesale prices soared above $300,000 per megawatt hour. Some of that was passed on to consumers on the spot market.
Wholesale electricity prices soared early on Monday evening. Image: EM6WEL Networks, which supplies the Waikato, had posted on Facebook warning customers to expect rolling outages. ''As a precautionary measure, all medically dependent customers are advised to action their back-up plans or go to Waikato Hospital if required.''
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she could not be confident that all the available generation capacity had come online. "And that is a critical question," she said. "There may still be a case that this could have been prevented. We need to know as quickly as possible whether that was the case, because it means that we can target our solution.
"What happened was not good enough, even if it really was a peak on an extremely cold night, it is still not good enough that we were not able to warm our homes."
Genesis Energy said it had not turned on its third back-up coal-fuelled unit at Huntly, as it could not have predicted it would be needed '' until suddenly the country lost Tokaanu and much of the wind power from the grid. Photo: Lynn GrievesonGenesis Energy defended its dormant generation capacity, saying the market conditions had been highly unusual. The outages had been the product of a number of factors that coincided with a significant spike in peak evening electricity demand due to the cold snap being experienced across the country, a spokesperson said.
"Adverse weather conditions reduced our North Island generation capacity at both Tokaanu, where gale force winds earlier in the day pushed weed into the intake, and then a sudden decline in wind in the evening that affected central North Island wind generation '' including Waipipi wind farm."
She said the issues at Tokaanu should soon be resolved, as weather conditions improve and demand falls to more normal levels.
"There was no third Rankine operating as there was sufficient generation capacity available to the market, prior to the loss of generation at Tokaanu and sudden decline in wind generation that coincided with peak demand."'' Genesis Energy
The usual two 250MW coal-fired Rankine units were pumping power into the market at full capacity.
"There was no third Rankine operating as there was sufficient generation capacity available to the market, prior to the loss of generation at Tokaanu and sudden decline in wind generation that coincided with peak demand," she said.
"A Rankine unit takes several hours to become operational and would not have met demand during last night's peak in the circumstances."
Genesis Energy says gale force winds earlier in the day had pushed weed into the intake of the Tongariro hydro plant at Tokaanu, forcing the company to shut it down. Photo: Ulrich Lange/CCBut Transpower had issued its first customer notice early on Monday morning, then followed up with increasingly urgent requests for more generation. And on Tuesday, the grid operator is again pleading for generators to step up to meet demand, saying national residual generation is less than 200 MW again.
There's no likelihood of Transpower lifting the customer notice that it issued at 9.18am Tuesday: "This notice will not be updated unless conditions worsen and a WRN or GEN notice is required."
Shortly before issuing that customer notice on Tuesday morning, Transpower general manager Dr Stephen Jay said insufficient generation had coincided with record demand of around 7,100MW, between 6pm and 6:30pm the previous evening.
''We apologise to everyone who was affected last night," he said. "It is fair to expect electricity to be there for people when they need it most, especially on one of the coldest nights of the winter."
Transpower would work with the generation companies to understand why there was not enough electricity last night, to avoid a repeat.
''With the widespread cold weather, we had been looking ahead to the evening peak throughout the day,'' he explains. ''We expected things to be tight due to some major generating units being unavailable and signalled to the market that other generation was required, and that demand should be voluntarily reduced where possible.
''Unfortunately, this is what came to pass. The prompt action of local lines companies and others in reducing demand helped keep the system in balance and prevented even wider problems. Problems such as last night are very rare indeed and we will now be working with the sector to do all we can to avoid a repeat.''
Woods has set up a coordination team to liaise through the emerging crisis.
The brown-outs and black-outs coincided with the publication at 8pm of the sixth report from the International Panel on Climate Change.
It concludes many of the impacts of our lifestyle, industry and agriculture are now largely irreversible. We can save ourselves, but the seas will keep rising and the glaciers will keep melting for centuries.
So it was little surprise that critics of the Government's climate change response leapt on last night's outages as if they were an indictment. "This Government has declared a climate emergency, waged war on energy sources it doesn't like, and tried subsidising those it does like, but at the end of the day comes night, and there is not enough energy," said ACT's energy spokesperson Simon Court.
Energy Resources Aotearoa (previously named the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association) claimed this showed the crucial importance of natural gas as a back-up, to keep the lights on and save people's lives. Chief executive John Carnegie said: "Renewable energy is great but it can't cope with current demand on a cold night."
Carnegie is right to an extent; we don't yet have sufficient renewables for when our greatest demand collides with our lowest supply; the hydro lakes are still refilling from the lows of earlier this year.
But Genesis has been running gas and coal turbines all year, at great expense to the consumer. They too have proved insufficient.
The power crisis also coincides with the announcement on Tuesday morning of an Electricity Authority project looking at how to ensure the electricity system remains secure and resilient as it evolves over the coming decades.
A big part of the answer is not about increasing supply. It's about managing demand. That will be especially challenging, because some of the easy wins the Climate Change Commission had hoped for, like the closure of the Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter and the Taranaki's Methanex plant, now look further away. And with the move from petroleum to electric cars, there will be greater pressure on the grid to charge those cars.
The particular challenges with renewables, that tend to be highlighted by the likes of Carnegie, the petroleum lobby, and Genesis boss Marc England, is that their power is hard to store. When the wind blows, the wind turbines crank up. When it's sunny, the solar panels generate power. When there's water in the lakes, the hydro turbines spin.
"People on the spot market '' and there are quite a few of them '' will have been badly hit."'' Bryan Leyland, consulting engineer
The Government is pinning some of its hopes on the $4b Onslow pumped hydro storage project, to smooth over the dry years. But domestic and commercial batteries are also getting cheaper and more capacious with every year that goes by.
And businesses and households can manage their drain on the grid by timing their use for times when there is most power '' and conveniently, when that power is cheapest.
Consulting energy engineer Bryan Leyland said there should have been enough spare capacity designed into the electricity generation network to allow it to keeping running when one or two big units were unavailable.
"But nobody has designed this system '' it's left to the vagaries of the market," he told Newsroom. "We don't have anybody responsible for keeping the lights on."
Indeed, it could have been worse: the wind had not dropped away entirely. The North Island's wind farms had kept contributing more than 200MW to the grid.
He said power prices had soared last night, and some of that had been passed on to consumers on the spot market. "People on the spot market '' and there are quite a few of them '' will have been badly hit."
So who is to blame? Notably, Transpower has apologised. And the generation companies have been asked to explain themselves to Minister Woods.
But Leyland looked to a third party, the Electricity Authority. "They note the problems once a year," he said, "but they should have been warning everyone far more stridently that the system was running out of reserve capacity."
"It has refused to contemplate the possibility that the market does not suit New Zealand conditions, and that all the generators have been behaving in line with the motivations our market provides them."
He said the Authority should buy an insurance policy every winter, charging consumers then inviting generators to bid to stockpile coal or gas for the eventuality of a dry year. At present, he said, the market provided them no incentive to buy in expensive fuel they might not need. "In this market, if they all look after their selfish interests, then we will always be at risk of a shortage."
"A goal of 100 percent renewable electricity generation represents a material increase in renewables, such as wind and solar generation, over current levels. This presents new challenges to the operation of and investment in the electricity system, and to maintaining a secure, reliable and resilient electricity supply."'' James Tipping, Electricity Authority
Announcing the Electricity Authority project, its chief strategy officer James Tipping said the work supported New Zealand's commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and the Government's aspiration to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
"The Climate Change Commission's final advice calls for large increases in electrification, including in transport and process heat," Tipping said. "A goal of 100 percent renewable electricity generation represents a material increase in renewables, such as wind and solar generation, over current levels.
"This presents new challenges to the operation of and investment in the electricity system, and to maintaining a secure, reliable and resilient electricity supply."
Tipping said electricity systems worldwide, including New Zealand, had been designed on the assumption that a material proportion of generation came from fossil fuels. Supporting services to keep the power system stable were typically provided by a range of long-established technologies.
"Moving towards 100 percent renewables in New Zealand, and the uptake of new technology, present opportunities for other technologies to provide the system services that have been supplied predominantly by hydro generation and supported by fossil fuels, particularly when insufficient hydro is available."
"The electricity market's design must support investment in and operation of the most appropriate technology for providing these services, while ensuring security and resilience of supply."
He said the Authority had commissioned advice from Transpower as the system operator to identify how the national power system might evolve, and what changes would be needed to the services that supported electricity system stability.
Florida Health Department Claims CDC Released Incorrect COVID Numbers
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 17:02
Beat Big Tech: Join Our New Telegram Channel!Follow us on GETTRFollow us on RumbleBiden's CDC is under fire.
According to the CDC, Florida had 28,317 new COVID cases on Sunday.
Florida reported a record-breaking 28,317 new cases of COVID-19 for Sunday to the CDC. https://t.co/IZwsEfZGKG
'-- WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) August 9, 2021
Of course, the media ran with this to smear Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R).
Now, we have this.
According to the Florida Department of Health, the CDC is not telling the truth.
They said that the CDC counted multiple days into one day.
They said that they hoped the record would be corrected.
The number of cases @CDCgov released for Florida today is incorrect. They combined MULTIPLE days into one. We anticipate CDC will correct the record. https://t.co/NjjUmIgM9h
'-- Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) August 10, 2021
Wrong. @cdcgov combined multiple days of data. We anticipate a correction. Please correct this story to ensure accurate reporting to your audiences. https://t.co/5IIDg0rjq2
'-- Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) August 10, 2021
John Cardillo, a former NYPD cop, pointed out something interesting.
He said that he believed that the CDC is knowingly lying about Florida's COVID numbers.
Biden Admin's CDC is now, I believe, knowingly lying about FL's COVID numbers.
They're terrified of DeSantis. https://t.co/G4rjTPX9w8
'-- John Cardillo (@johncardillo) August 10, 2021
Once we get the official numbers we will update with those numbers.
Is the CDC lying to hurt DeSantis?
This is not accurate. Florida follows CDC guidelines reporting cases Monday through Friday, other than holidays. Consequently, each Monday or Tuesday, there will be two or three days of data reported at a time. When data is published, it is attributed evenly to the previous days. https://t.co/NjjUmIgM9h
'-- Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) August 10, 2021
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The Extinction Clock
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 17:01
November 8, 201980% of Emperor penguins will be extinct by 2100 without Paris Agreement.
See QuoteFrom The Australian (AAP), quote: "University of Canterbury scientist Michelle LaRue, co-author of a new study, says current rates of climate change will imperil the emperor penguin. [...] 'If global climate keeps warming at the current rate, we expect emperor penguins in Antarctica to experience an 86 per cent decline by the year 2100,' the paper's lead author, seabird ecologist Stephanie Jenouvrier said. [...] Should the world hold to 1.5 degree warming - the goal of the Paris Agreement; the centrepiece UN accord aimed at reducing emissions - emperor penguin populations are forecast to slide by 19 per cent".Related: The Paris Agreement objectives will likely halt future declines of emperor penguins, from Global Change Biology (November 7, 2019).December 31, 2099Not yet. May 10, 2019Increasing natural disasters, drought and heatwaves (The Australia Institute).
See QuoteFrom the Dawson Climate Assessment report (page 1), quote: "Unless strong action is taken on climate change, by 2070, well within our children's lifetime, the electorate of Dawson is projected to experience: Up to 25 percent increase in evaporation, Up to 50 percent reduction in rainfall, Up to 100 percent increase in heatwave days per year, Increasing fire risk, A 90-130 percent increase in the frequency of droughts and floods".
December 31, 2069Not yet. May 18, 1978Within a lifetime, humans might be living in the next ice age.
See QuoteNarrated by Leonard Nimoy, from the "In Search Of" TV series (season 2, episode 23), quote: "Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way. According to recent evidence, it could come sooner than anyone had expected. At weather stations in the far north, temperatures have been dropping for thirty years. Seacoasts, long free of summer ice are now blocked year-round. According to some climatologists, within a lifetime, we might be living in the next ice age".Note: The average human lifetime is roughly 79 years.
May 18, 2057Not yet. Febuary 23, 2020'Planet will be uninhabitable for billions of people' by 2050 without change, claims former Australian PM, Malcolm Turnbull.
See QuoteFrom Twitter, quote: "Watching @InsidersABC- hands wringing about 'how do we get to net zero by 2050?' Bottom line is if we don't get there the planet will be uninhabitable for billions of people. How do we get there? Answer is plain: [...] Reverse deforestation, reforest wherever possible. A decade ago the ''how'' was hard to see and very expensive relative to BAU [Business As Usual]. Now we can see a feasible, affordable route to net zero - the alternative is catastrophic. [...] The consequences of this transition: a habitable planet, cheaper energy, more economic growth and jobs. Regions? Most of the renewable investment is in the regions. To get there above all we need a coherent integration of climate and energy policy."
December 31, 2049Not yet. January 30, 2020Melbourne 'at risk' of running out of fresh water by 2050.
See QuoteFrom 3AW, quote: "Melbourne will be at risk of running out of fresh water by the year 2050, with the Victorian capital rated fifth among 85 world cities tipped to be worst affected by climate change in a new report. Nestpick's 2050 climate change city index says Melbourne will be drastically impacted, including the greatest increase in 'water stress'. 'It certainly stacks up with what the climate science is showing will happen, if you don't do anything about it,' Jono La Nauze, CEO of Environment Victoria, told Tom Elliott".Related: 2050 Climate Change City Index report (January 30, 2020).December 31, 2049Not yet. October 29, 2019Rising seas could leave coastal cities underwater 'by 2050', reigniting 'armed conflict' and 'likelihood of terrorism'.
See QuoteFrom the New York Times, quote: "Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world's great coastal cities. [...] The new research shows that some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury. [...] Southern Vietnam could all but disappear. [...] In Thailand, more than 10 percent of citizens now live on land that is likely to be inundated by 2050 [...] In Shanghai, one of Asia's most important economic engines, water threatens to consume the heart of the city and many other cities around it. [...] much of Mumbai, India's financial capital and one of the largest cities in the world, is at risk of being wiped out. [...] Alexandria, Egypt, founded by Alexander the Great around 330 B.C., could be lost to rising waters. [...] Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, could be mostly underwater [...] Further loss of land to rising waters there 'threatens to drive further social and political instability in the region, which could reignite armed conflict and increase the likelihood of terrorism,' said General Castellaw, who is now on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security".Related: New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, from Nature Communications.December 31, 2049Not yet. September 30, 20191-2 feet of sea-level rise in the Seattle area (Center for Climate Integrity).
See QuoteFrom the Seattle Times, quote: "Coastal flooding will increase as sea levels rise, and extreme events like hurricanes and storm surges will become more common and more severe. The diversity and numbers of marine fish and wildlife will decline due to warming water, shrinking habitats and dying coral reefs. [...] Local forecasters estimate 1-2 feet of sea-level rise in the Seattle area by 2050, and the Center for Climate Integrity estimates that Washington state will need to build more than 1,600 miles of sea walls at a cost of $24 billion to help deal with rising waters".
December 31, 2049Not yet. November 15, 2019Arctic Ocean to be ice-free by 2044.
See QuoteFrom Phys.org (Science X), quote: "But according to a new study by UCLA climate scientists, human-caused climate change is on track to make the Arctic Ocean functionally ice-free for part of each year starting sometime between 2044 and 2067".Related: An emergent constraint on future Arctic sea-ice albedo feedback, from Nature Communications (November 11, 2019).December 31, 2043Not yet. December 6, 2020'Snowy UK winters could become thing of the past', according to the BBC.
See QuoteFrom the BBC, quote: "It is one of a series of projections about how UK's climate could change, shared with BBC Panorama. It suggests by the 2040s most of southern England could no longer see sub-zero days. By the 2060s only high ground and northern Scotland are still likely to experience such cold days. [...] The average coldest day in the UK over the past three decades was -4.3 Celsius. If emissions continue to accelerate, leading to a global temperature rise of 4C, then the average coldest day in the UK would remain above 0 Celsius across most of the country throughout winter. Even if global emissions are reduced dramatically and world temperatures rise by 2C, the average coldest day in the UK is likely be 0 Celsius. [...] 'The rate and nature of the climate change that we're seeing is unprecedented,' says Dr Mark McCarthy of the Met Office's National Climate Information Centre".
December 31, 2039Not yet. November 20, 2019'It's now or never to avert catastrophe', according to The Guardian.
See QuoteFrom The Guardian, quote: "Disastrous global heating will soon become irrevocable '' but despite politicians' inaction millions are taking to the streets to fight the planet's fever. [...] But the climate crisis doesn't work like that. If we don't solve it soon, we will never solve it, because we will pass a series of irrevocable tipping points '' and we're clearly now approaching those deadlines. [...] Under the most plausible scenario, they wrote, 'even if we peak in 2020 reducing emissions to zero within 20 years will be required,' and that is an ungodly steep slope. But if we wait past 2020 it's not a slope at all '' it's just a cliff, and we fall off it".
December 31, 2039Not yet. October 25, 2019U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change.
See QuoteFrom Motherboard (Vice), quote: "According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes".Related: Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army report (August 1, 2019).August 1, 2039Not yet. December 20, 2009Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035.
See QuoteFrom the MSNBC documentary, Future Earth 2025, quote: "Scientists predict the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, as a warming planet leads to both evaporation and melting of the ice".
December 31, 2034Not yet. April 16, 1970Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century.
See QuoteFrom The Boston Globe (page 18), quote: "Air pollution may obliterate the sun and cause a new ice age in the first third of the next century if population continues to grow and the earth's resources are consumed at the present rate, a pollution expert predicted yesterday".
March 31, 2033Not yet. July 27, 2019Carbon dioxide budget to 'run out' in 12 years, says Greta Thunberg® (16 year old activist).
See QuoteIn a speech made to the Paris National Assembly, quote: "There is no middle ground when it comes to the climate and ecological emergency. Of course you could argue that we should go for a more risky pathway, such as the alternative of 580 gigatons of CO2 from January 1st 2018, which gives us a 50/50 percent chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees. That amount of carbon dioxide will run out in about 12 years of current business as usual".
July 27, 2031Not yet. January 21, 2019'The world is going to end', says Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
See QuoteQuote: "We're, like, the world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change".
January 21, 2031Not yet. December 16, 2019Australian Senator, Richard Di Natale (Australian Greens) says we have 11 years to 'prevent the worst of the climate crisis'.
See QuoteFrom Twitter, quote: "We only have 11 years for global action to prevent the worst of the #climatecrisis. Australia's just wasted another precious year. Instead of agreeing to greater ambition, we spent #COP25 fighting to use our dodgy accounting tricks".
December 16, 2030Not yet. June 13, 2019This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook.
See QuoteFrom essay 28, quote: "In October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning: enact urgent measures to limit global warming within the next twelve years or irrevocably deplete the ecosystems that sustain human life on Earth".
October 31, 2030Not yet. October 8, 201812 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN. Delegates 'hugging' & 'in tears'.
See QuoteFrom The Guardian, quote: "The world's leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. [...] according to the 1.5C study, which was launched after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries in Incheon in South Korea that saw delegates hugging one another, with some in tears".
October 8, 2030Not yet. November 26, 2019Global emissions need to be cut to stop 'deadly & catastrophic heatwaves, storms & pollution', according to UNEP.
See QuoteFrom The UNEP, quote: "UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report warns that unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. [...] Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution".
December 31, 2029Not yet. November 3, 2009Snows of Mount Kilimanjaro 'to disappear in 20 years'.
See QuoteFrom The Telegraph (UK), quote: "More than 85 per cent of the ice that covered the three peaks of Africa's highest mountain has disappeared in the last 100 years and the rest is melting at such a rate it will be gone by 2030. [...] Their research shows that the melting is the worst in more than 11,000 years, when the ice was formed and is uncovering layers of dust not seen for thousands of years. It has even unlocked radioactive fallout from the American 1951-52 'Ivy' atomic tests that were embedded in the ice".
December 31, 2029Not yet. November 20, 2019Major cities going underwater, 'increased drought', & 'millions of climate refugees', says Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
See QuoteFrom the MSNBC Democratic presidential primary debate of November 2019, quote: "We don't have decades. What the scientists are telling us, if we don't get our act together within the next eight or nine years, we're talking about cities all over the world, major cities going underwater. We're talking about increased drought. We're talking about increased extreme weather disturbances. The United Nations is telling us that in the years to come, there are going to be hundreds of millions of climate refugees causing national security issues all over the world".
November 20, 2028Not yet. January 21, 2020Carbon dioxide budget to 'run out' in 8 years, says Greta Thunberg® (17 year old activist).
See QuoteFrom CNBC, quote: "Speaking during a panel session entitled 'Forging a Sustainable Path Towards a Common Future,' the 17-year-old cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2018 as she delivered remarks to a packed audience. The IPCC report states the remaining carbon budget would need to fall below 570 gigatons of carbon dioxide in the coming years if the world is to have a 67% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 'With today's emissions levels, the remaining budget is gone in less than eight years,' Thunberg said. 'These aren't anyone's views. This is the science.'".
January 21, 2028Not yet. September, 2019We must achieve zero emissions in 8 years, says Climate Clock.
See QuoteFrom Climate Clock science page, quote: "The Climate Clock shows two numbers. The first, in red, is a timer, counting down how long it will take, at current rates of emissions, to burn through our 'carbon budget' '-- the amount of CO2 that can still be released into the atmosphere while limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This is our deadline, the time we have left to take decisive action to keep warming under the 1.5°C threshold. The second number, in green, is tracking the growing % of the world's energy currently supplied from renewable sources. This is our lifeline. Simply put, we need to get our lifeline to 100% before our deadline reaches 0".Note: We're only displaying the carbon budget timer from the Climate Clock.
January 1, 2028Not yet. November 27, 201610 years before climate change results in human extinction, says Emeritus Prof. Guy McPherson (
See QuoteFrom Stuff News (NZ), quote: "That's right. The University of Arizona emeritus professor says in 10 years, humans will cease to exist. Abrupt rises in temperature have us on course for the sixth mass extinction - similar to one that happened about 252 million years ago that culminated in the 'great dying'. [...] 'If you have been given a terminal diagnosis, and I believe we have as a species, then how do we act as individuals towards those around us?'".
November 27, 2026Not yet. January 8, 2020Climate will 'reshape global, national and local politics', claims former Australian MP, Wayne Swann (Labor).
See QuoteFrom Twitter, quote: "In the next five to ten years climate is going to completely reshape global, national and local politics [...] Deniers in the Coalition think they are arguing with Labor about climate. They are arguing with an even more formidable foe: the laws of physics.".
January 8, 2025Not yet. October 15, 2019Australian MP, Mark Butler (Labor) moves motion to declare a 'climate emergency' in Federal Parliament.
See QuoteFrom a notice of motion to the House of Representatives, quote: "...efforts to cut greenhouse admissions need to be strengthened to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts; [...] failing to meet the goals of the Paris Accords would have unprecedented and devastating environmental, economic, societal and health impacts for Australia".Note: The motion did not contain a specific date, however the motion referred to Parris Accords, which has INDC goals for set 2025 and 2030.December 31, 2024Not yet. April 18, 2003Crash course towards massive species extinction, says Defenders of Wildlife.
See QuoteNina Fascione, Vice President for Field Conservation Programs at Defenders of Wildlife, quote: "Frankly, it looks like we're on a crash course towards massive species extinctions in the next 20 years [...] We could lose one-fifth or 20% of our species within the next two decades. That's a very short amount of time".
April 18, 2023
Not yet.
July 9, 1971U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming.
See QuoteFrom The Washington Post, quote: "The world could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts. [...] 'In the next 50 years,' the fine dust man constantly puts into the atmosphere by fossil fuel-burning could screen out so much sunlight that the average temperature could drop by six degrees".
July 31, 2021No. July 24, 201918 months to take action, says Prince Charles.
See QuoteFrom the BBC, quote: "'I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival,' said Prince Charles, speaking at a reception for Commonwealth foreign ministers recently".
January 24, 2021No. October 14, 2013Climate Catastrophe Will Hit Tropics Around 2020.
See QuoteFrom the HuffPost, quote: "The first study to integrate all prior scientific research in order to project approximately when climate change will produce permanent catastrophic consequences has been accepted and will soon be published in the scientific journal Nature, and it finds that things will start going haywire in the tropics at around the year 2020, and in our part of the world at around 2047. [...] Nature shares with Science and PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) the distinction of being tied as the world's three most prestigious scientific journals, and an article is not published in these journals unless it has undergone extremely rigorous scientific peer-revue; so, climate-change deniers will have no professional credibility in attacking this study [...] None of this is science fiction; all of it is science fact".
December 31, 2020No. December 20, 2009Hoover dam to be a 'dry hole by 2021'.
See QuoteFrom the MSNBC documentary, Future Earth 2025, quote: "As water levels drop, by 2017 hoover dam will no longer provide drinking water to Las Vegas, Tucson, and San Diego. And it stops generating electricity to Los Angeles. And if nothing is done, the reservoir will be a dry hole by 2021".Related: Lake Mead Water Level at December 31, 2020.December 31, 2020No. September 18, 1995'[IPCC] Scientists Say Earth's Warming Could Set Off Wide Disruptions'.
See QuoteFrom the New York Times, quote: "At the most likely rate of rise, some experts say, most of the beaches on the East Coast of the United States would be gone in 25 years. They are already disappearing at an average of 2 to 3 feet a year.".
September 18, 2020No. June 28, 20173 'years left to stop dangerous climate change'.
See QuoteFrom The Guardian, quote: "... But while temperatures have risen, global carbon dioxide emissions have stayed broadly flat for the past three years. This gives hope that the worst effects of climate change '' devastating droughts, floods, heatwaves and irreversible sea level rises '' may be avoided, according to a letter published in the journal Nature this week. [...] The authors, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, argue that the next three years will be crucial. [...] Johan Rockstr¶m of the Stockholm Resilience Centre said: 'We have been blessed by a remarkably resilient planet over the past 100 years, able to absorb most of our climate abuse. Now we have reached the end of this era, and need to bend the global curve of emissions immediately, to avoid unmanageable outcomes for our modern world'".
June 28, 2020No. September 5, 2012'End of Australian snow' by 2020.
See QuoteFrom GriffthNews, quote: "Griffith's Associate Professor Catherine Pickering has researched the effects of declining snow cover and hotter summers on the Australian Alps. [...] 'We've predicted by 2020 to lose something like 60% of the snow cover of the Australian Alps,' she said. [...] 'In a few years the amount of water that ski resorts will need to make snow is going to exceed the amount of water that's used by Canberra. And it looks like we are heading back towards dry conditions, so where will they get the water?'".Related: 15 Day Snow Forecast for June 2020.June 6, 2020No. March 20, 2000Rare snowfalls will 'cause chaos in 20 years time', humanity will be 'unprepared'.
See QuoteFrom The Independent, quote: "Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. 'We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time,' he said".
March 20, 2020No. June 29, 2017Four years to save the Earth: 2020 is the deadline...
See QuoteFrom the Daily Mail (UK), quote: "A world that heats up beyond that threshold will face a crescendo of devastating impacts ranging from deadly heatwaves to mass migration caused by rising seas, the experts warned in a commentary published in the science journal Nature. With 1.0 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming so far, ice sheets that could lift oceans by a dozen metres are melting more quickly, coral reefs are dying from heat stress, and ever more damaging storm surges are hammering coastal communities. [...] 'There is a long way to go to decarbonise the world economy,' according to the commentary signed by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, three top climate scientists, and two sustainability experts from the business sector. 'When it comes to climate, timing is everything,' they wrote. The authors called on leaders set to gather at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8 to highlight 2020 as a make-or-break point for taking action".
December 31, 2019No. June 12, 2017Alpine glaciers 'gone' by 2020.
See QuoteDecember 31, 2019No. November, 2011Possible 'adverse health impacts in Australia from climate change' by 2020.
See QuoteFrom Climate Commission's 'The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health' report, quote: "We need to act now. Decisions we make from now to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change health risks that our children and grandchildren will experience. The longer we wait, the more serious the consequences. [...] Figure 8: Possible timeline of some future adverse health impacts in Australia from climate change". Graphic showing: "Extreme weather events: deaths, hospital admissions, mental health disorders", "Dengue fever", and "Gastroenteritis" to increase from 2010 to 2019 cited from an unpublished article by McMichael in 2011.Related: Dengue fever virtually eradicated from Far North Queensland, scientists say, from the ABC.December 31, 2019No. January 18, 2007Snowdon, Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountains, and the Cambrian Mountains will be 'snow-free by 2020'.
See QuoteFrom The Independent, quote: "But Snowdon may lose its snow cover within 13 years as a result of climate change, Welsh scientists say. [...] Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) disclosed that this winter's accumulation is the lowest since records began 14 years ago. With only a couple of snowfalls this winter, the total depths measured are way down on previous years and, if the trend continues, any kind of the cover could disappear by 2020 [...] Lembit Opik, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Wales and the MP for Montgomeryshire, said: 'Snow-capped Snowdon has been an iconic Welsh image for centuries. It is shocking to think that in just 14 years, snow on this great mountain could become nothing but a permanent and distant memory.' The CCW predicts that the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountains and the Cambrian Mountains will also be snow-free by 2020".Related: Snowdonia Mountains Winter Season 2019- 20.December 31, 2019No. February 21, 2004President warned 'climate change will destroy us'.
See QuoteFrom The Guardian, quote: "Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters. [...] major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world".Related: Pentagon-sponsored climate report sparks hullabaloo in Europe, from SFGate.Related: Climate Alarmists Misrepresent Pentagon Report, from the Fraser Institute.December 31, 2019No. October 16, 200910 year window before climate change is a threat to national security, says Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass).
See QuoteFrom the HuffPost, quote: "Scientists tell us we have a 10-year window - if even that - before catastrophic climate change becomes inevitable and irreversible. The threat is real, and time is not on our side. [...] Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013. Not in 2050, but four years from now. [...] Make no mistake: catastrophic climate change represents a threat to human security, global stability, and - yes - even to American national security".
October 16, 2019No. September 26, 1988Maldives to be flooded within 30 years.
See QuoteFrom the Canberra Times (page 6), quote: "A gradual rise in average sea level is threatening to completely cover this Indian Ocean nation of 1196 small islands within the next 30 years, according to authorities".
December 31, 2018No. August 21, 2016Arctic summers ice-free by 2017.
See QuoteFrom The Guardian, quote: "There is a clear trend down to zero for summer cover. [...] Next year or the year after that, I think it will be free of ice in summer and by that I mean the central Arctic will be ice-free. You will be able to cross over the north pole by ship. There will still be about a million square kilometres of ice in the Arctic in summer but it will be packed into various nooks and crannies...".Related: Arctic sea ice reaches second lowest minimum in satellite record, from the NSIDC.August 21, 2017No. December 20, 2009Hoover dam will not longer provide drinking water or electricity.
See QuoteFrom the MSNBC documentary, Future Earth 2025, quote: "As water levels drop, by 2017 hoover dam will no longer provide drinking water to Las Vegas, Tucson, and San Diego. And it stops generating electricity to Los Angeles. And if nothing is done, the reservoir will be a dry hole by ...".
December 31, 2016No. January 30, 2007'No snows' on Mount Kilimanjaro by 2017, according to Al Gore.
See QuoteFrom CBS News, quote: "Within a decade, there will be no more snows on Mount Kilimanjaro. The same heat that evaporates more moisture into the air pulls it out of the soil, and this can be very damaging for farmers and people who depend on the land for their livelihood".Note: A similar claim was also made in the An Inconvenient Truth film.Related: Snows of Kilimanjaro defy global warming predictions, from MassLive (2019).December 31, 2016No. August 1, 2008100 months to save the world, a 'Green New Deal' needed.
See QuoteDecember 1, 2016No. September 17, 2012Expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within 4 years.
See QuoteFrom The Guardian, quote: "One of the world's leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years. In what he calls a 'global disaster' now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for 'urgent' consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures".
September 17, 2016No. September 14, 200610 years 'left to act in time', according to NASA scientist James Hansen.
See QuoteFrom MSNBC (Reuters/AP), quote: "A leading U.S. climate researcher says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe. [...] 'I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most,' [James] Hansen said Wednesday at the Climate Change Research Conference in California's state capital".
September 14, 2016No. May 24, 200610 years before the world reachs a point of no return, according to Al Gore.
See QuoteAs the writer/host of the An Inconvenient Truth film, Al Gore said that humanity had only 10 years left before the world would reach a point of no return.
May 24, 2016No. July 24, 2013Arctic to be ice-free in 2 years, and create a 'methane catastrophe'.
See QuoteFrom The Guardian, quote: "...the ice in September will be gone in a very short while, perhaps by 2015. In subsequent years, the ice-free window will widen, to 2-3 months, then 4-5 months etc, and the trends suggest that within 20 years time we may have six ice-free months per year. [...] The loss of sea ice leads to seabed warming, which leads to offshore permafrost melt, which leads to methane release, which leads to enhanced warming, which leads to even more rapid uncovering of seabed".
July 24, 2015No. June 2, 20096 years before passing 'point of no return'.
See QuoteFrom the ABC TV special, Earth 2100, quote: "2015 is only six years away, but many experts say that if the world has not reached an agreement to massively reduce greenhouse gases by then, we could pass a point of no return".
December 31, 2014No. December 4, 2009'5 years to save world says Australia's chief scientist', Prof. Penny Sackett (
See QuoteFrom the Herald Sun, quote: "The planet has just five years to avoid disastrous global warming, says the Federal Government's chief scientist. [...] She said her role was as an adviser to the Government and not a commentator on public policy, but she did not deny her appointment a year ago was a political one. [...] The professor said even if all the world stopped producing carbon dioxide immediately, temperature increases of 1.3C were unavoidable. If the earth's temperature rose 2C, she warned, there would be risks that were 'difficult and dangerous'".Related: On the day this prediction was added, Prof. Penny Sackett blocked the Extinction Clock Twitter account.December 4, 2014No. June 10, 2013Arctic Ocean to be ice-free by 2014.
See QuoteFrom Sierra Club Canada, Paul Beckwith (Ph.D student), quote: "I have become even more confident about my prediction of total Arctic sea ice destruction in 2013. [...] I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how any sea ice will be left after this year's summer 'melt season'.I acknowledge that my sea ice-collapse timeframe is considered 'out-there' when compared to mainstream climate models... [...] I really hope I'm wrong folks but I just don't see it any other way".
December 31, 2013No. August 18, 2011Arctic summers ice-free 'early as 2013'.
See QuoteFrom a 350.org science factsheet, quote: "It is melting so fast that scientists now believe the Arctic could have no ice in the summertime as early as 2013, which is 80 years ahead of what had been predicted just a few years ago".
December 31, 2012No. December 12, 2007Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013'.
See QuoteFrom the BBC, quote: "Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007, [...] So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative".
December 31, 2012No. December 12, 2007Arctic to be ice-free 'by 2012'.
See QuoteFrom StarNews Online (AP), quote: "...'The Arctic is screaming,' said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo. [...] This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: 'At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions'".
December 31, 2011No. May 1, 200850 million climate refugees by 2010, according to UNEP.
See QuoteFrom the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library, quote: "Fifty million climate refugees by 2010".
December 31, 2009No. October 19, 2009'50 days to save the world' according to British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown (Labour Party).
See QuoteFrom the BBC, quote: "Gordon Brown said negotiators had 50 days to save the world from global warming and break the 'impasse'. [...] The costs of failing to tackle the issue would be greater than the impact of both world wars and the Great Depression combined, the prime minister said".
December 8, 2009No. March, 2008Adelaide 'may run out of water by early 2009', says Prof. Tim Flannery (
See QuoteFrom a Jetstar in-flight article (page 11), quote: "The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009".
March 31, 2009No. April 27, 2008Arctic summers ice-free 'in 2008'.
See QuoteFrom the ABC News, quote: "You know when climate change is biting hard when instead of a vast expanse of snow the North Pole is a vast expanse of water. This year, for the first time, Arctic scientists are preparing for that possibility".
August 31, 2008No. May 3, 2007Brisbane and Adelaide to 'run out of water', says Prof. Tim Flannery (
See QuoteFrom the Australian Financial Review: "Environmental researcher Tim Flannery has warned that Brisbane and Adelaide ... could run out of water by year's end. He said the country was facing a 'catastrophic' situation".
December 31, 2007No. March 20, 2000Snowfalls 'now just a thing of the past', children won't know what snow is.
See QuoteFrom The Independent, quote: "Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives. [...] According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become 'a very rare and exciting event'. 'Children just aren't going to know what snow is,' he said".Related: 2005 United Kingdom snow events, from Wikipedia.December 21, 2005No. July 17, 1954Arctic Ocean to be ice-free by 2004.
See QuoteFrom the The Argus (AAP), quote: "The ice-packed Arctic Ocean might become navigable in another 25 or 50 years if the present 'warming-up' tendency of the Polar region continued".
July 17, 2004No. April, 1970Global Cooling by 2000, according to Emeritus Prof. Kenneth Watt (UC Davis)
See QuoteIn relation to the first Earth Day event, quote: "The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age".
April 1, 2000No. April, 1970Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years, says George Wald (
See QuoteIn relation to the first Earth Day event, quote: "Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind".
April 1, 2000No. June 30, 1989U.N. predicts disaster if global warming not checked by 2000.
See QuoteFrom The Associated Press (AP), quote: "A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000".
December 31, 1999No. May 18, 1972Arctic Ocean to be ice-free by 2000.
See QuoteFrom The Tuscaloosa News, Washington (AP), quote: "Arctic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2,000".
December 31, 1999No. March 7, 1956Global peak oil by 2000.
See QuoteFrom Forbes, quote: "Hubbert projected that the global peak in crude oil production would occur around the year 2000 at 34 million bpd [barrels per day]. In reality, crude oil production in 2000 was more than twice as high at about 75 million bpd. Further, while conventional crude oil production did flatten around 2005, more than a decade later there is no evidence that it has begun to decline".Related: Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels, by M. King Hubbert.December 31, 1999No. April, 197025 years before 75% to 80% of all living animals become extinct.
See QuoteSen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look magazine, quote: "Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct".
December 31, 1994No. February, 1989Running out of landfill space, says EPA.
See QuoteJ. Winston Porter, from the Solid Waste Dilemma: An Agenda for Action report (executive summary), quote: "But we're running out of space to bury it in existing landfills; more than one third of the nation's landfills will be full within the next few years and many cities are unable to find enough acceptable sites for new landfills or new combustors".Related: Three Myths about Trash (Mises Institute).February 28, 1994No. September 26, 1988Drinking water to 'dry up' in the Maldives.
See QuoteFrom the Canberra Times (page 6), quote: "But the end of the Maldives and its people could come sooner if drinking water supplies dry up by 1992, as predicted".
December 31, 1991No. During 1974Peak ozone depletion increasing skin cancer rates by 1990.
See QuoteFrom a United Press International (UPI) report, quote: "estimates report that ozone destruction would not reach its peak until about 1990 [...] ozone destruction will result in an additional 8,000 cases of skin cancer by 1990 and at least one prediction that incidence of skin cancer could be much higher".Related: Canstat: A digest of facts and figures on cancer (November 2007).December 31, 1989No. August 10, 1969Everyone will be vaporized, according to Paul Ehrlich (
See QuoteFrom The New York Times (page 53), quote: "We must realize that unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years".
December 31, 1988No. April 1, 1970Population will completely outstrip food supply, says Paul Ehrlich (
See QuoteFrom Mademoiselle magazine, quote: "Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years".
April 1, 1980No. June 24, 1974New Ice Age, 'no indication of reversing', causing droughts and affecting grain-exporting countries.
See QuoteFrom Time magazine, quote: "the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. [...] satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. [...] Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. [...] Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend. [...] But there is a peril more immediate than the prospect of another ice age. [...] Even if temperature and rainfall patterns change only slightly in the near future in one or more of the three major grain-exporting countries-the U.S., Canada and Australia -global food stores would be sharply reduced [...] Warns [Kenneth] Hare: 'I don't believe that the world's present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row'".
December 31, 1975No. October 6, 1970See QuoteFrom the Redlands Daily Facts (page 3), quote: "America will be subject to water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980".Related: Simon-Ehrlich wager.December 31, 1973No.
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The Role of the State in the Transfer of Value from Main Street to Wall Street: US Single'Family Housing after the Financial Crisis - Christophers - - Antipode - Wiley Online Library
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:46
AbstractAfter 2007, many US households suffered significant financial losses when their mortgages were foreclosed upon and homes repossessed. Much of this lost value ended up in the hands of institutional investors who bought repossessed homes at the bottom of the market. Using the case of the biggest such investor, Blackstone, as an exemplar, this article argues that the state was implicated in this value transfer in several crucial ways: its failure to better assist distressed borrowers ensured the availability of large numbers of homes for investors to buy; it privileged such investors over other categories of potential buyer; and its taking of action to support recovery of the housing market coincided with such investors beginning to buy at scale. The article draws on the critical macro-finance literature to conceptualise the state's role in terms of the ''de-risking'' of financial markets that are increasingly integral to contemporary social and economic governance.
IntroductionOne of the many significant developments within the US urban-economic landscape in the wake of the global financial crisis was the emergence of what was effectively a new institutional-investor asset class: single-family (as opposed to multi-family) rental housing. To be sure, much of the country's single-family housing stock had long circulated within the rental sector; its being rented was not per se new, although the proportion being rented did now grow (Pfeiffer et al. 2020 ). What was new, rather, was the make-up of the community of landlord-owners. Historically, single-family landlords were typically small, ''mom-and-pop'' operations, owning a handful of properties at most. But after the crisis, large financial investors such as private-equity firms began for the first time to acquire single-family homes on a significant scale, focusing predominantly on foreclosed properties. One estimate suggested that by 2018, perhaps as many as 300,000 such homes had been purchased by major investors (Amherst Capital 2018 :2). Single-family rental (SFR) was now a bona fide asset class, one that has received increasing attention within geography and related disciplines (e.g. Christophers 2021a ; Colburn et al. 2020 ; Fields 2018 ; Immergluck and Law 2014 ).
The growth of this asset class from out of the rubble of the financial crisis represented a vast transfer of value. Foreclosures peaked in 2010; house prices bottomed out in mid-2012 (see Figure 1); and it was then, when homes'--including those repossessed from distressed homeowners'--were at their cheapest, that institutional investors began buying in earnest (Amherst Capital 2018 :3). Midway through the following year, the Blackstone Group, the biggest investor in SFR and the main investor-subject of this article, indicated just how cheaply it was able to buy: to that point, it had acquired c. 25,000 homes, paying an average of $153,000 for properties with an estimated average 2006 value of $303,000 (Blackstone 2013 :12).
S&P/Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index, 2000''2019 (source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)
Blackstone exited the SFR business in 2019, selling its final shares in the company it had established in 2012 to buy and let houses, called Invitation Homes.1 Blackstone's eventual profit on the venture was estimated at over $3.5 billion (Dezember 2019 ). The profit is easy to explain: by 2019, house prices had recovered to far above their pre-crisis peak (Figure 1), thus inflating the value of the Invitation Homes portfolio. It was a classic investor coup: buying low and selling high. But of course, the flip-side to Blackstone having bought at the bottom and sold out once prices improved was a massive cohort of former owner-occupiers who by contrast had bought at or near the top and sold out'--or, in a majority of cases, been sold out by their mortgage holders'--at or near the bottom, and seen their equity eviscerated in the process. In other words, the money that Blackstone made from this investment initiative was effectively money that foreclosed-upon or otherwise distressed households had lost. It did not materialise out of thin air: this, rather, was a transfer of value from one set of hands to another. Call et al. ( 2014 :10) managed to identify some of the losing hands. Examining a sample of 108 homes acquired by Invitation Homes in Atlanta, they found that the 77 of these that were formerly owned by individuals (as opposed to companies) had originally been bought by those individuals for a cumulative $7.4 million but had been picked up by Invitation Homes for a cumulative $4.2 million. The individuals' loss would be Invitation Homes' and Blackstone's eventual gain as the market swung in its favour. The fact that many foreclosed-upon households would end up renting homes back from Blackstone, or from other such institutional investors that had benefited from their misfortune, rubbed salt into the wound.
The present article is concerned with one critical component of the SFR story: the role of the state in enabling the aforementioned value transfer, a role that was fundamental and multifaceted. The state underwrote investor gains and homeowners' commensurate losses in three main ways. First, it was the state's failure to come meaningfully to the aid of financially distressed homeowners that ensured that large volumes of distressed assets were available for purchase by investors in the first place; the relevant assets included not just homes themselves but also mortgages that could (and in many cases, did) enable investors to take control of the mortgaged property. Second, the state put large investors in a privileged position relative to other possible buyers when it came to the purchase of those assets, and furthermore enabled them to make those purchases on distinctly favourable terms. And third, around the time that large investors began buying single-family homes at scale, the state intervened in financial markets in such a way as to more-or-less guarantee house-price inflation and thus capital gains.
The existing literature on SFR has certainly addressed the role of the state. But pertinent studies cover only one or another aspect of that role. Thus, drawing on and extending the accounts of, for example, Immergluck ( 2015 ) on the inadequacy of the state response to borrower distress and Fields ( 2018 ) on the state's support for investor acquisition of single-family dwellings, and combining this synthesis of the secondary literature with analysis of original primary materials (e.g. annual reports, financial statements, securities filings, and government agency documents), this article aims to paint a more unified picture of the state's ubiquitous involvement in the processes occasioning investors' multi-billion-dollar profits'--showing that without the state's support, profits on such a scale would have been unthinkable.
Furthermore, existing studies of SFR'--and indeed of similar post-crisis transfers of value from distressed homeowners to institutional investors in other territories'--typically go no further than identifying (aspects of) the state's role. Limited consideration has been given to attempting to understand in conceptual terms why the state acted in the ways it did'--what its actions might suggest, for instance, about the relation between the state and finance capital in times of crisis.
To the extent that the state's role has been considered analytically, explanations tend to alight on the finance sector's instrumental power'--its ability to shape political decision-making through lobbying. No doubt there is considerable purchase in this. But this article seeks to add an additional, theoretical, explanatory layer. To do so it draws on recent conceptual work within ''critical macro-finance'' (Gabor 2020 ). The central insight here is that recent decades have seen the growing entanglement of states and financial markets. States not only borrow in the markets. They increasingly act and govern through the markets, in areas ranging from monetary policy to climate policy and, not least in the US itself, housing policy. This makes the state reliant on markets' robustness and liquidity, resulting in policies that consistently prioritise market ''de-risking''. Such de-risking occurs through both the guaranteeing of systemic liabilities in times of crisis and the enabling of the creation of new asset classes as markets emerge from crisis. The various US state actions that facilitated the value transfer examined in this article represent, the article suggests, a case in point.
In developing these arguments about the state's role, the article refers in particular to Blackstone and its post-crisis investment activities. Blackstone was by no means the only large investment institution to acquire substantial amounts of distressed US single-family stock in the period beginning around 2012, and to benefit from the state's interventions. But it was, by some margin, the biggest operator (Amherst Capital 2018 ). Arrowing in on Blackstone's experience allows us to put flesh'--numbers relating to profits, homes, loans and the like'--on the bones of the argument, without in any way suggesting that Blackstone's experience was representative of institutional investors more generally (cf. Colburn et al. 2020 ).
The article begins by looking at the existing literature on the role of the state in the post-financial crisis transfer of housing'--and value'--from households to investors both in the US and overseas, and by considering how critical macro-finance might inform our understanding of this phenomenon. The three following sections examine, respectively, the three main ways in which the state buttressed that value transfer in the US.
Single-Family Rental, the State, and Critical Macro-FinanceA decade after large financial institutions began investing widely in distressed US single-family housing, a growing stream of research on the topic by geographers, planners and urban scholars means that we now have a good understanding of it. We know what types of investment firm have been most active, and the types of strategies and business models they have employed (Christophers 2021b ; Colburn et al. 2020 ; Immergluck and Law 2014 ; Mallach 2014 ). We know how they have financed their investments (Fields 2018 ) and how they have utilised digital technologies in both selecting properties to acquire and then managing them as rental assets (Fields 2019 ). We know what types of neighbourhoods investors have been particularly active in (Charles 2020a , 2020b ). And we know that in some areas, at least, such investors are associated with higher rates of tenant eviction than other types of landlord-owner (Akers and Seymour 2018 ; Raymond et al. 2018 ).
We are also beginning to appreciate how important a role various arms of the US state have played in facilitating the transfer of single-family homes and associated economic value from distressed homeowners to the investment institutions in question. Two aspects of this role have been illuminated'--both of which will be addressed in depth in subsequent sections of this article. First, Blackstone and other big investors were only able to cheaply acquire large volumes of distressed housing stock because so many homeowners had been foreclosed upon, and this, in turn, had occurred in part because the state failed to provide substantive support'--especially to minority and lower-income households in neighbourhoods most rapidly and extensively engulfed by the foreclosure crisis (Immergluck 2015 ). Second, the state sold government-owned foreclosed homes directly to institutional investors (Fields 2018 ), which, as we shall see, was important not so much in terms of those homes per se'--which were relatively few in number'--but for the effect that this had of legitimising investor acquisition of foreclosed homes more generally. The state also sold to institutional investors large numbers of distressed, government-owned single-family home-loans, many of which would themselves subsequently be foreclosed upon (Greenburg 2017 ).2
Nor was it only in the US, researchers have shown, that, in the wake of the financial crisis, the state acted in ways that served to enable the transfer of homes and value from distressed households to investment institutions. Most attention in non-US contexts has been given to what Beswick et al. ( 2016 :322,324) referred to as ''state programmes to recapitalise banks through buying up and selling on toxic debts and assets'', with many such assets being housing-related (i.e., homes or home loans) and with the sales occurring ''almost exclusively to US private equity firms and hedge funds''. Byrne ( 2016 ) examined such post-crisis programmes in Ireland and Spain; Alexandri and Janoschka ( 2018 ) in Greece and Spain. But there were other ways, too, in which non-US states smoothed or hastened the transfer of housing-related assets and asset value to investors. In the Spanish context, for example, Yrigoy ( 2020 ) highlighted how banking regulation incentivised lenders to foreclose on delinquent borrowers.
Yet while research has thus begun to highlight the crucial role of the state, relatively little attention has been given to trying to understand this role in theoretical terms. That is to say, do we have a theoretical framework that helps us understand why in the US'--but not only there'--the state acted after the financial crisis in ways that repeatedly redounded to the benefit of institutional investors rather than the households whose homes such investors acquired? Immergluck ( 2015 ) explains the inadequacy of the US government's response to households' foreclosure crisis in terms of structural obstacles (e.g., a dysfunctional loan-servicing industry), conflicting objectives among state agencies, and an inhospitable political climate. Fields ( 2018 :126) ascribes the state's support for SFR'--including the sale of government-owned foreclosed homes to institutional investors'--to its concern ''with restoring housing's role in capital circulation''. More broadly, the critical literature on post-crisis, housing-related value transfers from households to investors in both the US and overseas indexes the political power of the finance sector: a power that, in the US context, Harvey ( 2010 :11) evocatively captured with his idea of ''the party of Wall Street''. But if all such explanations undoubtedly disclose important realities, they arguably fail to provide'--individually or collectively'--a conceptual framework that can adequately account for the consistency of state action across all three areas of intervention examined in this article.
One framework that can potentially help in this regard is the emerging field of ''critical macro-finance'' (Gabor 2020 ), which is explicitly concerned with the relations between states, finance and crisis. This framework can be boiled down to a central premise and related postulate. The premise is that financial markets have become increasingly integral to the mechanisms whereby states manage economic and social life. The postulate is that, in times of crisis in particular, states therefore act in ways designed above all to stabilise market infrastructures; they ''de-risk'' markets because they depend upon markets to govern. Let us take the premise and the postulate in turn.
It is widely recognised that contemporary financial capitalism ''has evolved around market-based finance, anchored in changing practices for producing liquidity'' (Gabor 2020 :46). What has been less often appreciated, at least until recently, is that governments ''do not just govern private financial markets through rules and regulations'' (Braun and Gabor 2020 :243). They are ''active participants in the financial markets'' (Wang 2020 :190), and such participation extends well beyond governments' role as sovereign borrowers. Most importantly, they participate in markets, or actively ''use'' markets, precisely as governments'--that is, as institutions engaging in social and economic governance. The implication is that financial markets often ''provide the governance infrastructure through which public actors seek to govern'' (Braun and Gabor 2020 :243).
The quintessential example of this phenomenon is monetary policy, the administrative components of which today are arguably less material than the market-based components: open-market operations, whereby central banks buy and sell securities on the open market, are pivotal to the implementation and transmission of monetary policy. It is true, as Braun and Gabor ( 2020 :246) concede, that ''not all parts of the state rely on financial markets as governance infrastructures in equal measure''. But it is definitely not only in the realm of monetary policy that market operations undergird the state's governance of economy and society. Climate policy, for instance, is in significant part conducted via markets (e.g. Christophers 2017 ). And, in the US perhaps more than anywhere else, so too is the policy regime with which we are primarily concerned in this article'--namely, housing policy. The seminal account of the US state's longstanding use of financial markets to manage the domestic housing system'--and indeed, through it, US society more broadly'--is Quinn's ( 2019 ) American Bonds. Market-based housing policy, Quinn ( 2019 :14) writes, is part-and-parcel of ''America's complex style of statecraft''. The state's fingerprints are everywhere: the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is the world's largest mortgage insurer; the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not only dominant players in the secondary mortgage market'--they effectively built it. US state officials have long been ''creative and consequential market participants''.
Scholars of critical macro-finance argue that all of this renders the state intimately beholden to markets'--Gabor ( 2021 :436) invokes ''the infrastructural dependence of the state on finance'--and thus the infrastructural power of the latter'''--and that this dependence has especially important ramifications in times of crisis. If, as Braun and Gabor ( 2020 :245) maintain, the ''effectiveness of market-based agency'' relies on ''deep and liquid markets for money and securities'', then protecting market depth and liquidity is essential. This has two sides: shoring-up systemically important liabilities on the one hand and, on the other, abetting the construction of significant new asset classes, the latter being required ''to fill growing balance sheets '... [to] attract the trillions of dollars held by global institutional investors'' (Gabor 2020 :48).3
Gabor refers to this two-part state imperative as one of ''de-risking'': reducing financial institutions' liability-exposure risk by acting as lenders or market-makers of last resort; and reducing such institutions' asset-investment risk by ensuring asset ''bankability''. Crisis management represents, on this reading, ''a form of political struggle over institutional changes necessary to stabilise the plumbing of market-based finance'' (Gabor 2020 :47). As crises progress, the state's emphasis typically shifts from safeguarding liabilities to encouraging asset creation. Only by examining and understanding states' infrastructural entanglement with various financial markets and the institutions that operate in them'--rather than with reference to, say, the finance sector's instrumental power'--are we able to explain why, in times of crisis, the state backstops some markets, assets and liabilities, but not others.
America For SaleWhen the subprime mortgage crisis struck the financial system in 2007, the US housing market was already in freefall, and was dragging millions of households down with it. By the end of 2008, house prices nationwide had fallen around 20% from their peak, with falls of more than 30% in the major urban regions of California and Florida and of upwards of 40% in cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas. More and more homes were missing mortgage payments; and a larger and larger proportion of those who defaulted'--some 80% in California and Florida'--were ending up in foreclosure. At more than three million, the number of US foreclosure filings issued during 2008 was up approximately 80% on 2007 and 225% on 2006 (Christie 2009 ). A full-scale socio-economic disaster was in the making.
Responsibility for dealing with this disaster fell principally to the government of Barack Obama, who took office in January 2009. Obama's signature scheme for addressing mortgaged-homeowner distress and helping to keep people in their homes, announced the month following his inauguration, was the Treasury's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). In theory, HAMP incentivised lenders to reduce the monthly payments of qualifying borrowers, primarily by reducing interest rates, but also, if necessary, by delaying'--or even forbearing'--payment of the loan principal. It had a counterpart scheme in the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which, introduced the following month by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), was designed to enable underwater and near-underwater homeowners to refinance onto lower interest rates.
To say that these two schemes did not live up to their promise of enabling a significant number of households at risk of foreclosure to avoid that eventuality would be an understatement. They largely failed. The ''small 'carrots''' (Immergluck 2015 :58) that HAMP offered to banks to modify delinquent loans were outweighed by the incentives to go ahead and foreclose. Obama had pledged that HAMP would assist three to four million homeowners to modify their loans and thereby avoid foreclosure. ''Almost seven years later'', Dayen ( 2015 ) wrote shortly before HAMP was wound up, ''less than one million have received ongoing assistance; nearly one in three [of these] re-defaulted after receiving inadequate modifications; and six million families lost their homes over the same time period''.
HARP was somewhat more successful, but not, notably, in helping ''the most vulnerable families and neighbourhoods'' (Immergluck 2015 :73). Insofar as HARP's design and effectiveness improved over time, it disproportionately benefited homes in distress in the later stages of the foreclosure crisis from 2012 onwards, and these, as Immergluck ( 2015 ) has shown, were mainly middle-class, white households. Minority and lower-income families, a larger percentage of which had subprime loans, had been quicker to fall into default, and thus needed assistance precisely in the period'--2008 through 2010'--when the federal programs were most inadequate. By the time HARP became more fit for purpose, it was already ''too late for '... inner-city and predominantly minority neighbourhoods hit hardest by the crisis'', which after 2011, ''while still struggling, had moved past their peak levels of foreclosure'' (Immergluck 2015 :60).
The federal interventions' overall failure, needless to say, was a foundational component of the development from around 2012 of the SFR asset class. As the New York Times ( 2013 ) perceptively editorialised, the emergence of Blackstone and other investment firms as major landlords was structurally enabled by ''the continued failure of public policy to deal with the housing bust '... As a result, a glut of cheap homes and a ready supply of renters are available for Wall Street's taking''. Investors enjoyed substantial transactional efficiency in buying homes that lenders had foreclosed upon because such homes were generally sold in bulk at periodic auctions held at the courthouse of the relevant county. Cash-rich buyers such as Blackstone's Invitation Homes could attend auctions and buy up a large of number of homes in one swoop. ''The ample supply of properties for sale at foreclosure auctions'', Mills et al. ( 2019 :409) noted, ''provided a unique opportunity for buy-to-rent investors to purchase large numbers of properties at distressed prices''.
To be sure, there were, as Immergluck ( 2015 ) has argued, significant structural and political obstacles to a more beneficial federal response to the foreclosure crisis, which ultimately saw almost 5% of American adults, or around ten million people, lose their homes (Martin and Niedt 2015 ). But equally certainly, more forceful and effective methods to meaningfully encourage helpful loan modifications could have been employed. Immergluck ( 2015 :58), along with many others, has pointed in particular to the missed opportunity of so-called bankruptcy cramdown'--legislation allowing for the reduction of remaining loan-principal balances in bankruptcy proceedings'--together with bigger penalties for loan servicers not following HAMP guidelines.
Not only, furthermore, did policies nominally designed to assist distressed homeowners generally not do so; but they often ended up actively helping America's banks instead. Through trial loan modifications, in particular, HAMP licensed lenders to extend default periods and in the meantime extract even more cash from distressed borrowers'--in the form for instance of late fees and back payments'--before the inevitable foreclosure axe was brought down. In significant measure, HAMP became, as Dayen ( 2015 ) put it, ''a predatory lending scheme rather than an aid program''.
In his own account of how the government handled the foreclosure crisis, Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner ( 2014 :265), conceded that HAMP and associated policies was always going to be a less productive and more circumscribed program for distressed homeowners than many campaigners'--not to mention the homeowners concerned'--had hoped for. He and his Treasury colleagues had come to the view that it would not be ''a fair or economically effective use of taxpayer resources'' to pursue what he rather patronisingly called ''the grand plans floating around for universal mortgage refinancing or widespread principal reductions''; the ''economic bang for the buck'' would be too limited. One individual to have received early evidence of the hostility of Obama's team to more substantive measures to limit homeowner foreclosure was the economist (and former Federal Reserve vice-chairman) Alan Blinder: when in 2008 he presented to Democratic leaders his own grand plan, namely for a modern version of the Depression-era Home Owners' Loan Corporation, Blinder was ''laughed out of court'' (cited in Glantz 2019 :26).
But Geithner's account was, at best, selective. A fuller story emerged in the account of the crisis period provided by Neil Barofsky, a lawyer who had been given the job of overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)'--the first main plank of the US government's response to the financial crisis, signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2008, and into which HAMP would in due course be folded. Barofsky recalled his deputy, Kevin Puvalowski, saying to him one day in regard to HAMP: ''The only ones benefiting from this debacle are the banks'' (Barofsky 2012 :156). With time, the two men would come to see that this was no accident: HAMP benefitted banks more than homeowners, Barofsky and Puvalowski concluded, because that was the Treasury's intention. And Geithner effectively had admitted as much.
The occasion was a meeting in the fall of 2009 attended not only by Barofsky but by Elizabeth Warren'--a future candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and at the time the chair of another TARP oversight body, the Congressional Oversight Panel. Warren, Barofsky wrote of the meeting, had ''grilled'' Geithner about HAMP, and, under the barrage, Geithner ''finally blurted out, 'We estimate that they can handle ten million foreclosures, over time', referring to the banks. 'This program will help foam the runway for them''' (Barofsky 2012 :156).
''A lightbulb went on for me'', Barofsky (
:156''157) continued. ''Elizabeth had been challenging Geithner on how the program was going to help home owners, and he had responded by citing how it would help the
banks''. That, in other words, was what, for the Treasury, HAMP was primarily about. If foreclosures were to come too thick and fast, the banks would be overwhelmed. So they had to be delayed, and the foreclosure crisis stretched out, thus giving the banks more time to absorb housing-related losses. HAMP borrowers would ''foam the runway'' for distressed banks in need of a safe landing. Warren recounted the same story in her own 2014 book,
A Fighting Chance'--which, of course, was precisely what so many distressed homeowners had been denied:
There it was: the Treasury foreclosure program was intended to foam the runway to protect against a crash landing by the banks. Millions of people were getting tossed out on the street, but the secretary of the Treasury believed the government's most important job was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks. Oh Lord. What do you say to such a thing? (Warren 2014 :118)
If there was one moment during those years of crisis management that symbolised the US government's prioritisation of Wall Street over Main Street, then this was it.
Of course, HAMP was only a small element of the broader support that the US state provided to the finance sector during and in the immediate wake of the financial crisis. If the state largely failed to help homeowners with their liabilities, it manifestly and famously proved both willing and able to help Wall Street with its. It did so in three main ways. One'--the provision of liquidity through quantitative easing'--will be discussed later in the article. A brief recap of the two others is in order here, because understanding how and why the state supported the finance sector is essential to explaining why it did not similarly support Main Street (thus crystallising large numbers of distressed property assets for Blackstone and the like to buy up). As we will see, critical macro-finance is instructive in this regard.
First, there were equity bailouts. True enough, not all distressed US financial institutions were rescued by the state; many failed. But, Lehman Brothers aside, no big, systemically important institutions were allowed to go under. The state stepped in to rescue them. The first major entities to be saved, in September 2008, were the government-sponsored (but at that stage, privately owned and publicly traded) mortgage-securitising enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were effectively nationalised. A little over a year later, the country's nine largest banks received a capital injection from the government totalling $125 billion (Tooze 2018 :197).
Second, the Federal Reserve (''Fed'') lent finance-sector actors enormous sums, essentially providing them with new liabilities to help extinguish existing liabilities, thus ensuring that the latter did not sink them. Through a veritable alphabet soup of lending mechanisms, of which the most important in terms of amounts disbursed were the Primary Dealer Credit Facility ($9.0 trillion), the Term Auction Facility ($3.8 trillion) and the Term Securities Lending Facility ($1.9 trillion), the Fed loaned financial institutions (excluding foreign central banks) over $16 trillion between 2007 and 2010, not including assistance to specific institutions outside of these formal facilities (Felkerson 2011 ).
Drawing on critical macro-finance, we can explain the state's contrasting approaches to homeowner debts and finance-sector debts in terms of the difference between systemic and non-systemic liabilities. Homeowners' loans were not, or were not considered to be, systemically important. Defaults would not cause market-destabilising runs on banks'--not, at any rate, if HAMP successfully foamed the runway for the latter, spreading foreclosures out sufficiently across the months and years. Banks' liabilities, however, were viewed as systemically important. To fund the growth of their balance sheets in the years leading up to the crisis, the banks that subsequently borrowed trillions of dollars from the Fed had taken on trillions of dollars of short-term debt obligations that unarguably did threaten market stability (Acharya and –nc¼ 2013 :297), most importantly in the form of two types of instrument collateralised by financial securities of various kinds'--namely, asset-backed commercial paper and repos. Viewed in their capacity as liability holders and from the perspective specifically of a state deeply invested in financial-market durability, homeowners were small enough to fail, while banks were too big to be allowed to do so (cf. Christophers and Niedt 2016 ).
At the Front of the QueueInvitation Homes' acquisition of single-family homes was concentrated in the latter months of 2012 and in 2013. During that relatively short window, when at one point it was buying more than $100 million worth of homes every week, it bought up nearly 40,000 dwellings'--equivalent to about 80% of the homes in its portfolio when it listed on the stock market as a real-estate investment trust in 2017. Many of those 40,000 homes were acquired from lenders who had foreclosed on homeowners in mortgage default; and much of this buying from lenders occurred at foreclosure auctions.
The state was not directly involved in this. And yet in multiple ways it shaped the processes whereby lenders disposed of distressed single-family stock. Two such ways demonstrably favoured large investor-buyers such as Blackstone.
Firstly, the state actively legitimated the large-scale SFR model adopted by Blackstone and others. Prior to the financial crisis, that model did not exist: even as the US rental market contained in the region of 10 million single-family homes, few landlords owned more than a handful of dwellings and none owned more than 1,000 (Glantz 2019 :143). During 2011''12, however, in an object lesson in the fashioning of new asset classes described by critical macro-finance, the Fed performed crucial discursive work in making conceivable and creditable large investor-owned portfolios such as Blackstone would subsequently build: it gave the model a seal of approval. Both Elizabeth Duke ( 2011 ), a Fed governor, and Ben Bernanke ( 2012 ), the Fed chair, publicly made the case for converting foreclosed homes into investor-owned rental properties. And this paved the way for the FHFA to effect just such a conversion with foreclosed homes owned by Fannie Mae, which in 2008 had been taken into government conservatorship: seven pools of Fannie homes were sold to large investors in 2012. The numbers of homes were small, but as Mari ( 2020 ) has noted, the message was more important than the transactions themselves. Actively enabling institutional-investor single-family-rental by auctioning off some of its own stock ''gave the government's imprimatur to the concept''.
Secondly, financial policymaking undertaken during the crisis years put large investors such as Blackstone in pole position to beat out the competition when it came to buying foreclosed homes from lenders. It did so by creating a distinctly un-level playing-field. On the one hand, the unconventional monetary policy known as quantitative easing (QE) dramatically lowered borrowing costs for financial institutions. The significance of this for a firm such as Blackstone cannot be overstated. Not for nothing is Blackstone's modus operandi often labelled ''leveraged buyouts''. Leverage'--that is, borrowing'--is at the heart of its business model, a key source of its reputedly superior returns. In a ratio typical of Blackstone's portfolio companies, Invitation Homes was funded approximately three-quarters with debt, and just one-quarter with equity (Invitation Homes 2017 :63). In substantially lowering its cost of capital, QE enabled Invitation Homes to bid more aggressively for properties than it would otherwise have been able.4
Meanwhile, the state's financial policymaking made things more, not less, difficult for institutional investors' main class of competing bidder at foreclosure auctions: namely, ordinary households. With a loosening of mortgage lending standards in the early 2000s having been widely identified as a key factor in causing the financial crisis, the US government from 2008 onwards applied pressure to lenders to retighten those standards'--to demand of borrowers higher down-payments and higher credit scores. Unsurprisingly, this shrunk the population of potential homebuyers. Already by mid-2011, a dearth of mortgage credit was, Morgan Stanley ( 2011 :4) reported, ''severely hindering'' home-buying by potential owner-occupier households. In 2012, home-purchase lending to Whites was 41% lower than it had been in 2001; for Blacks, the most affected group, it was 55% lower (Goodman et al. 2014 ). In other words, not only was it the case that financing was considerably cheaper for the likes of Blackstone than for prospective owner-occupiers, which in and of itself gave the former an advantage; but for many in the latter group, financing was simply not available, at any cost. This cleared the way for investors such as Blackstone to dominate the acquisition of lender-owned distressed stock; and it was government policymaking that had established this advantage.
While Invitation Homes was acquiring single-family homes directly (that is, by purchasing the homes themselves), another Blackstone portfolio company was acquiring them indirectly'--by purchasing distressed mortgages, and then, if and when borrowers defaulted, by frequently taking possession of the dwellings to which those mortgages applied. The company in question was the Florida-based Bayview Asset Management. Blackstone bought a 46% stake in Bayview in 2008, giving it the power to approve or veto strategic decisions made by Bayview's board. Immediately upon buying into Bayview, Blackstone made $2 billion available to it to buy bundles of ailing mortgage assets (Sender 2008 ). Bayview remained a Blackstone portfolio company for a decade, during which time it bought tens of thousands of delinquent loans.
The state's role in enabling Blackstone's acquisition of single-family homes'--and on highly favourable terms'--was much more hands-on and direct in the case of Bayview than of Invitation Homes. The reason is simply stated: many of the soured mortgages that Bayview acquired whilst a Blackstone portfolio company were acquired from the government.
The financial crisis had seen the aggregation of large numbers of distressed residential mortgages within several different federal-government domains. One was the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were effectively nationalised when taken into government conservatorship. These companies acquire mortgages in the secondary market. Some they securitise and sell on; others they retain on their balance sheets. Many of those they retain defaulted during the crisis. Of those deemed unmodifiable, some, as we already know, were foreclosed upon'--the seven pools of foreclosed Fannie homes auctioned by the FHFA in 2012 came from this source. Other delinquent mortgages considered unmodifiable, however, the GSEs looked to sell.
A second key federal institution holding distressed mortgages by dint of the crisis was the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). During the 1990s and 2000s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of HUD, had insured increasing numbers of risky loans, many of which went into default when the crisis struck. When default occurred and could not be relatively harmoniously resolved, there were three main possible outcomes. One was that the lender foreclosed, HUD paid out on the insurance, and the property itself became HUD's to sell. The second possible outcome was that the lender modified the loan in such a way as to help the borrower avoid foreclosure; HUD, which favoured this outcome, provided lenders with insurance benefits to finance such modifications. The third and final outcome was that the lender assigned the loan to HUD for it to sell, with HUD paying off the lender's insurance claim in recompense. This is the outcome that concerns us here; HUD pursued it where loan modifications by the lender proved unsuccessful, as a last recourse to avoid the otherwise inevitable foreclosure. As we will see, HUD wagered that the entities to which it sold these assigned loans would be more likely to enable delinquent borrowers to keep their homes than the original lenders had been.
In what follows, our focus will be on loan sales by HUD rather than the GSEs. As it happens, the sale programs were of very similar magnitude: both entailed the disposal of between 110,000 and 120,000 delinquent mortgages during the decade following the GSEs' nationalisation in 2008. Both programs, furthermore, saw loans being sold overwhelmingly to private-equity groups and other institutional investors. And yet, for reasons that remain unclear (to this author, at any rate), Blackstone'--via Bayview'--was a prodigious buyer of loans from HUD but only a very modest buyer from the GSEs. Of the 117,446 non-performing loans with an aggregate unpaid principal balance of around $22 billion sold by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2014 and mid-2019, Bayview bought just 953, worth a paltry $202.5 million, in two pools sold by Freddie'--less than 1% of the total. By way of comparison, Goldman Sachs, the biggest single buyer, purchased over 20,000 GSE loans, worth $3.8 billion (FHFA 2019 ).
HUD's disposal operation began life in 2010 as the Single Family Loan Sale Program (SFLS'--all the mortgages were on single-family residential units), which saw the sale of 2,055 loans (HUD 2016 :5). In mid-2012, SFLS become DASP'--the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program'--and the pace of disposals greatly accelerated, a further 108,709 HUD loans, with an aggregate outstanding balance of $18.4 billion, being sold by the end of 2016. All the SFLS/DASP loans were highly delinquent, averaging two-and-a-half years of missed payments (HUD 2020a :1).
Bayview was comfortably the single largest purchaser from HUD. It bought 567 of the SFLS loans5 and no fewer than 31,213 of the DASP loans (HUD 2020a :8), giving a grand total of 31,780 mortgage assets, equating to a share of HUD disposals of just under 30%. Back in 2009, Blackstone's chief executive, Stephen Schwarzman, had announced that Bayview had ''a solid track record of facilitating loan modifications and workouts'' for distressed borrowers and that, by investing in the company, Blackstone would be ''helping strapped home owners stay in their homes'' (Blackstone 2009 :16). But the reality, at least where the HUD mortgages were concerned, turned out to be very different. As of February 2020, 25,797 of the 31,213 DASP loans that Bayview had acquired had a known status outcome. In as many as six out of every ten such cases (15,592), Bayview had taken possession of the borrower's home, either by foreclosing, or, less commonly, by virtue of the borrower providing a deed in lieu of foreclosure'--that is, conveying the property to Bayview to satisfy the delinquent loan (HUD 2020b ). Indeed, Goldstein ( 2015 ) suggested that Bayview and the other major investor-buyers of HUD loans ultimately proved ''even less helpful '... in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers'' than had been the banks who originally assigned the loans to HUD.
Three particular aspects of DASP policy are crucial to our account of the US state's post-financial-crisis underwriting of the transfer of value from distressed homeowners to Blackstone and other investors. First, in selling those delinquent loans, HUD explicitly prioritised such investors. The fact that the loans were sold in large pools made it very difficult for organisations other than such deep-pocketed for-profit buyers to compete, not least not-for-profit groups and community development organisations, which, despite their efforts to acquire the loans in order to endeavour to assist distressed mortgagors, won auctions for only around 1% of the total debt sold off (Gittelsohn et al. 2014 ). HUD, as Greenburg ( 2017 :890) has remarked, put private-equity investors firmly ''in the driver's seat''. It was an archetypal example of what Gabor ( 2021 ) refers to as the state ''escorting'' institutional investors into new asset classes.
Second, HUD sold the loans at substantial discounts to face value'--ordinarily for just 50''70% of the unpaid principal balance. These prices were, as Greenburg ( 2017 :917) noted, ''dramatically lower'' than the market values of the underlying properties as assessed by HUD itself'--typically 20''30% lower. Sometimes, the discounts even exceeded the upper end of these ranges. In December 2013, for example, HUD auctioned off 13,661 loans with a cumulative unpaid balance of $2.6 billion, and where the aggregate market value of the underlying homes was estimated to be $2.0 billion (the mortgages, in other words, were deeply underwater). Of the 14 pools into which these loans were divided for the purposes of the auction, Bayview acquired no fewer than six, accounting for more than half of the individual loans that were for sale. The $641 million it paid in total for the 7,731 mortgages that these six pools contained represented discounts of, respectively, 32% to the estimated aggregate market value of the mortgaged properties ($944 million), and fully 56% to the aggregate unpaid principal balance on those loans ($1.46 billion) (HUD 2013 ).
Third and finally, the loans sold by HUD came largely unencumbered by obligations to treat the distressed homeowner generously; they were, in the terminology of critical macro-finance, suitably ''de-risked''. Not only did sale of the loans strip them of the original borrower protections associated with FHA insurance, including HUD's guidelines regulating lenders' loss mitigation options. But only very limited requirements were imposed on the loans' purchasers, the most substantive of which was the stipulation that, absent extenuating circumstances, the loans could not be foreclosed upon for six months (extended to 12 months in 2015). The theory was that the generous discounts afforded to Bayview and other acquirers would provide them with scope to avoid foreclosure and to instead provide the affordable loan modifications not forthcoming from the original lenders. ''HUD essentially believed'', wrote Greenburg ( 2017 :920), that ''the new lenders, after purchasing the loans for a price significantly lower than the unpaid principal during the bidding process, might be willing to agree to principal reductions''.
This was an approach of striking naivety. Notably, it seemed to disregard precedent specifically in the resolution of home loans soured by the subprime crisis and sitting on the government's own books. In 2008, the government had taken effective ownership of large numbers of delinquent mortgages not only by nationalising the GSEs, but also, inter alia, when IndyMac, a California-based lender, failed, and was taken into conservatorship by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. In the case of IndyMac, as (later) with HUD, the government sold the loan assets to investors, namely a group of high-net-worth individuals led by Steven Mnuchin, formerly of Goldman and later to become Treasury Secretary under President Trump. Then, too, the sale, closed in 2009, was at a substantial discount to asset value, coming with a generous loss-share agreement for good measure. And then, too, the government failed to impose checks that might meaningfully disincentivise foreclosure (Glantz 2019 :78): having bought IndyMac, the investor team proceeded swiftly to take possession of tens of thousands of borrowers' Californian homes, earning Mnuchin the moniker of ''foreclosure king'' (Kolhatkar 2020 ). The lesson, clearly, was not learned. But if selling de-risked mortgage assets to investors like Blackstone was arguably na¯ve, it was also, of course, an approach perfectly aligned with the contemporary state's imperative of cultivating new asset classes circulating in deep and liquid financial markets.
Market SupportThe third and last key area of government intervention driving Blackstone's profits on its investment in US single-family housing was one we have briefly touched upon already: monetary policy. As noted, quantitative easing (QE) benefited Blackstone by markedly lowering the cost of the debt that it used to finance the purchase of residential-property assets. But, as we shall now see, it benefited Blackstone and other SFR investors in another crucial way, too.
Initiated by Bernanke in 2009, QE saw the Fed provide a vast quantum of cheap liquidity to the financial markets through the purchase, mainly from banks, of various types of financial securities. It came in three stages. Under QE1 (2009''10), the Fed mainly bought mortgage-backed securities (MBS), albeit only those issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two GSEs, which by that point had of course been nationalised. Under QE2 (2010''12), the Fed mainly bought Treasury securities. Under QE3 (2012''14), it resumed its buying of GSE-issued MBS.
As Tooze ( 2018 :370''371) has observed, QE from the start had two principal objectives. One was simply to keep banks afloat with cash, as a supplement to the vast pool of emergency loan capital that, as we saw earlier, the Fed had been dispensing to the finance sector since 2007: ''For every billion dollars' worth of securities the Fed purchased, it credited an account with a corresponding amount of dollars''. The other primary objective was to absorb the maturity mismatch with which the banks were widely afflicted: they had been borrowing short-term (especially via repos and asset-backed commercial paper) and investing long-term (not least in mortgage-backed securities); the Fed took the long-term asset onto its balance sheet, providing immediate liquidity in return.
But by the later months of 2010, a third worry was in the air: housing. The number of home sales nationwide had recovered somewhat in 2009 after hitting rock bottom in 2008, but sales numbers fell again in 2010. Given the importance of a robust and dynamic housing market not just to the US economy more broadly but to a state long reliant on using the market for housing finance to implement housing and social policy (Quinn 2019 ), this troubled policymakers, even as they recognised the importance of the tighter lending standards discussed earlier. Thus, as Tooze ( 2018 :366) noted, US monetary policy would henceforth be shaped not just by the two aforementioned goals, or indeed the general continuing sluggishness of US and global economic recovery, but also by concern for a US housing market that was ''still in shock''.
While QE2 was not specifically designed to help stimulate the housing market, QE3, commenced in September 2012, partly was. Not for nothing did the Fed resume buying mortgage securities. It announced that it would be buying vast quantities: a minimum of $40 billion per month to begin with, lifted to a minimum commitment of $85 billion per month from December of the same year. One of the key objectives was clear. ''The use of MBS'', wrote Jensen ( 2012 ), ''is an attempt to further lower the mortgage rate''. Or as Lange and Schnurr ( 2012 ) put it, even more explicitly: ''The Federal Reserve's new economic stimulus plan involves printing vast sums of money to help people buy homes'' (emphasis added).
The Fed's support for the housing market via QE3 was essentially unconditional and open-ended. Unlike the cases of QE1 and QE2, there would be no maximum amount or time limit. Hence the nickname it was given: ''QE Infinity''. ''The indefinite time period'', noted Jensen ( 2012 ), ''is an attempt to avoid the situation where the market receives a boost, then crashes at the end of the program''. In other words, what the Fed was saying was that it was in it for the long haul. It was not giving the economy and the housing market a one-off shot; it was going to provide, if necessary, permanent support. Echoing the famous words of Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, Bernanke ( 2015 :563) would recall in his memoirs that, with QE3, the Fed was indeed declaring ''we would do whatever it takes'''--all he neglected was to add, ''not least to ensure the housing market recovers''.
And it worked. The market did recover. Home sales numbers increased again. And, having bottomed out in mid-2012, so also, fuelled by QE3, did home prices (Figure 1). In committing in mid to late 2012 to not let things deteriorate any further under any circumstances, the Fed effectively put a floor under the housing market, indicating that from that point on the only way was up. It was a floor that Blackstone would enthusiastically stand upon. The beginning of Invitation Homes' most intense period of buying of single-family homes coincided precisely with the commencement of QE3. While it is impossible to say to what extent the latter prompted the former, it seems unlikely that Blackstone was ignorant of how significant for the housing market the implementation of QE3 would be. And whatever the degree of influence of the Fed's monetary-policy experiment on Blackstone's thinking, it plainly had a profound influence on Blackstone's profits: as US house prices soared in the years following 2012, so, inexorably, did the value both of Invitation Homes' portfolio and of Blackstone's shareholding.
What is striking, of course, is exactly how the Fed inserted that floor under the housing market. It did not do so by providing assistance to the legion struggling homeowners (to say nothing of those who had already been ejected from the market). As one of its own, Carlos Garriga ( 2012 ) of the St. Louis Fed, wrote at the time: ''The Fed's QE3 policy may do little to help the 23 percent of homeowners (11.1 million) who are currently underwater'--owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth''. Rather, to the extent that the Fed was aiming to help existing homeowners, QE3 targeted those more fortuitously positioned'--''it could'', Garriga continued, ''allow the remaining 77 percent (48.3 million) with positive equity and stable jobs to refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates '... This support should stimulate consumption spending and house prices could increase''. And Garriga added a prophetic addendum: ''QE3 should also provide funding for renters or investors to purchase part of the existing stock of homes'' (emphasis added). As we now know, it did exactly that, or at least, for investors it did. In any event, Garriga's intervention made clear one thing above all else: that QE3 was fundamentally about support for the housing market, not for households per se, and still less for those households who actually needed support. In this, QE3'--much like HAMP and the government's foreclosure-prevention program more widely, which, as Immergluck ( 2015 :73) observed, ''no doubt helped '... [in] saving the housing market as a whole'''--was emblematically a project of critical macro-finance's market-backstopping, market-dependent state.
Having responded rationally to Bernanke's signal and, beginning in the final months of 2012, ploughed vast resources into the US single-family market comfortable in the knowledge that the Fed now backed that market, Stephen Schwarzman led Blackstone to a stellar 2013. By December, Blackstone's share price had nearly doubled since the beginning of the year. That month, at a Goldman Sachs-hosted conference, Schwarzman lauded the propitious market conditions that QE3 had generated. ''Overall'', Schwarzman said, ''this is a very good set of circumstances for us and I anticipate that is going to continue for some period of time'' (cited in Gara 2013 ). And so, Schwarzman continued, he had personally thanked the man behind QE3. ''I saw him last Thursday'', Schwarzman said of Bernanke, ''and I thanked him''. That, said Schwarzman, is what you do ''when you have a year like this in finance''. Blackstone's long-time leader can be'--and has been'--accused of many things, but failing to show gratitude to those most responsible for his and his firm's financial success is not one of them.
ConclusionIn October 2014, about a year after Schwarzman had thanked him for making Blackstone so successful, and shortly after he had stepped down from his position as Fed chair, Ben Bernanke went into his local bank to try to refinance his mortgage'--Bernanke had come to central banking not from Wall Street but from the more humble origins of academia. His bank turned him down. ''I think it's entirely possible'', the event led Bernanke to wryly reflect, that in tightening lending criteria in the wake of the financial crisis, the country's banks ''may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions'' (cited in Campbell and Woellert 2014 ).
But Bernanke did not need to worry about refinancing for long. Six months later, it was announced that he would take on senior advisory roles with both Citadel, one of the world's largest asset managers, and PIMCO, another leading global investment management firm (Ablan 2015 ). Whereas banks' refusal to refinance home loans had seen millions of other US households lose their homes (including to investors such as Blackstone), for Bernanke such refusal represented nothing more than an amusing anecdote to be trotted out on the after-dinner speaking circuit. And if there was a certain irony in Bernanke having had his refinancing application turned down, there was no irony in him now taking institutional investors' coin. Consider all he had done for them; they, like Schwarzman had, were now simply paying their dues. They would pay those dues to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, too. Geithner left the Obama administration in January 2013; in March 2014, he became the president and managing director of Warburg Pincus, one of the world's premier private-equity firms (Banerjee and Katz 2013 ). It would not have been a surprise to see Geithner move instead to Blackstone itself, with which he had long had close links: the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who in 2003 recruited Geithner to the position of bank president (a position he held until moving to the Treasury) was Peter Peterson, also chairman of Blackstone; and the man Geithner promoted in 2010 to head up the Treasury's new Capital Markets and Housing Finance division, where the government's inadequate foreclosure-prevention policies were distilled, was Matt Kabaker, an ex-Blackstone managing director (Solomon 2010 ).
Yet it was not just Geithner, or Bernanke, or even primarily them, that failed distressed US homeowners during the foreclosure crisis and facilitated the transfer of so much value from them to Wall Street. On entering office in 2009, President Obama seemingly had an unprecedented opportunity to release the US political economy from Wall Street's vice-like grip. His Republican opponent for the presidency, John McCain, had seen his campaign undermined by journalists asking how many homes he owned (he could not remember) while many ordinary Americans were losing the one house they did have; the banking system was in meltdown; Obama had zero complicity in the build-up to the crisis; he had a Democrat majority in the House and the Senate'--indeed, Congress, to say nothing of the US population at large, was in principle dead-set against any measures that would benefit the banks; he had, in other words, on the face of things, a free-hands, two-year run. But he failed.
Now, there is no doubt that Obama could have done some things differently: for instance, he did not have to put a Wall Street insider, which is what Geithner was, in charge of the Treasury; he could have introduced bankruptcy-cramdown legislation; and more. But to understand what Obama and those working with him could and could not have done about Wall Street's grip on the economy, it is necessary to understand the nature of that grip. The crucial insight of the critical macro-finance literature has been to show that the power of the finance sector is not only instrumental: it is not just about lobbying and revolving-doors. It is also infrastructural. Financial institutions enjoy power vis- -vis the state because it is increasingly through financial markets themselves that the state pursues certain important policy objectives. If markets constitute an infrastructure of governance, safeguarding markets in times of economic crisis takes on a significance that the state diminishes at no small risk, not least to itself; and to one degree or another, safeguarding markets always entails backstopping those institutions holding the systemically important assets and liabilities circulating in those markets.
None of this is to say that states are impotent or that the power of finance is unassailable. But states' freedom of action with regards to finance today is clearly constrained by the extent to which the state and state-policymaking has itself become operationally entangled with market mechanisms. The key question'--and one to which the critical macro-finance literature has yet to offer a satisfactory answer'--is by how much state action is thereby constrained. Whatever the answer, the actions taken by the US state in the wake of the financial crisis and which resulted in a vast quantum of value being transferred from distressed mortgaged households to the institutional investors that bought their homes were all actions consonant with the strategic prioritisation of de-risking markets and maintaining their depth and liquidity: that is, with stabilising, in Gabor's ( 2020 ) terms, the ''plumbing'' of market-based finance. If this reading is correct, one obvious implication is that reducing the power of finance'--and making any crisis-resolution mechanisms enacted in the context of future crises less likely to result in the types of value redistribution examined in this article'--would require undoing the state's deep infrastructural entanglements with finance as much as tackling finance's more overt instrumental influence.
AcknowledgementsMany thanks to the anonymous referees and the editor for helpful guidance on this article. I am responsible for any remaining errors of fact or interpretation.
Endnotes 1 In 2020, Blackstone dipped its toes back into the SFR sector, taking a minority stake in Tricon Residential, which owns around 23,000 US single-family rental homes. And as this article was going to press in June 2021, it re-entered the sector in more emphatic fashion, by striking a deal to wholly acquire Home Partners of America, which has around 17,000 SFR homes. The present article's analysis of Blackstone's SFR activities, however, is concentrated solely on the period up until its exit from Invitation Homes in 2019. 2 Charles ( 2020a ) argues that the value transfer from households to investors was also ''state-sponsored'' inasmuch as investors frequently established investment vehicles benefiting from ''highly favourable'' tax treatment (specifically, real-estate investment trusts, or REITs) to house their SFR businesses'--drawing on a similar argument by Waldron ( 2018 ) in the Irish context. The present article does not discuss the significance (or otherwise) of investors' REIT status, however. For one thing, the article is focused on actions taken by the state after the financial crisis; America's REIT statutes are longstanding, dating to the 1960s. Furthermore, while a REIT is indeed itself largely exempt from income tax, its shareholders are not: all dividends received are taxable, and in the US a minimum of 90% of a REIT's taxable income must be distributed as dividends. Although the US's REIT provisions certainly impacted the ultimate distribution of the value transferred from households to investors, this author's view is that they neither substantively enabled that transfer nor materially influenced its scale. 3 Acharya and –nc¼ ( 2013 :297) define systemically important liabilities as ''those liabilities of highly leveraged entities that are assets of other highly leveraged entities and therefore, when faced with haircuts in case of default, would trigger runs on other entities''. 4 For an extended discussion of this point, see Christophers ( 2021a ). 5 Figures collated from the HUD sale results summaries at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/comp/asset/sfam/sfls. References
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Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards worry college officials
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:32
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) '-- As the delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the United States, a growing number of colleges and universities are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students to attend in-person classes. But the new mandate has opened the door for those opposed to getting the vaccine to cheat the system, according to interviews with students, education and law enforcement officials.
Both faculty and students at dozens of schools interviewed by The Associated Press say they are concerned about how easy it is to get fake vaccine cards.
Across the internet, a cottage industry has sprung up to accommodate people who say they won't get vaccinated for either personal or religious reasons.
An Instagram account with the username ''vaccinationcards'' sells laminated COVID-19 vaccination cards for $25 each. A user on the encrypted messaging app, Telegram, offers ''COVID-19 Vaccine Cards Certificates,'' for as much as $200 apiece.
An increasing number of inquiries to these sites and similar ones appear to be from those who are trying to get fake vaccination cards for college.
A Reddit user commented on a thread about falsifying COVID-19 vaccination cards, saying, in part, ''I need one, too, for college. I refuse to be a guinea pig.''
On Twitter, one user with more than 70,000 followers tweeted, ''My daughter bought 2 fake ID's online for $50 while in college. Shipped from China. Anyone have the link for vaccine cards?''
According to a tally by The Chronicle of Higher Education, at least 675 colleges and universities now require proof of COVID-19 inoculations. The process to confirm vaccination at many schools can be as simple as uploading a picture of the vaccine card to the student's portal.
In Nashville, Vanderbilt University places a hold on a student's course registration until their vaccine record has been verified unless they have an approved medical accommodation or religious exemption.
The University of Michigan says it has a system in place to confirm employee and student vaccinations. A spokesman for the college told the AP the school has not encountered any problems so far with students forging their COVID-19 vaccination record cards.
But Benjamin Mason Meier, a global health policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, questions how institutions can verify those records.
''The United States, unlike most countries which have electronic systems in place, is basing its vaccination on a flimsy paper card,'' he said.
Meier tweeted last week that he spoke with several students who were worried about the accessibility of fraudulent vaccine cards and that they knew a fellow student who had submitted one to the university.
''There need to be policies in place for accountability to make sure that every student is operating in the collective interest of the entire campus,'' he said.
In a statement to the AP, UNC said it conducts periodic verification of documents and that lying about vaccination status or falsifying documents is a violation of the university's COVID-19 community standards and may result in disciplinary action.
''It's important to note that UNC-Chapel Hill has not found any instances of a student uploading a fake vaccine card. Those claims are simply hearsay at this point,'' the school said.
But other university staff and faculty have expressed their concern over the alleged forgery of vaccine cards. Rebecca Williams, a research associate at UNC's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, said while she is concerned by these claims, she isn't surprised.
''This is why I think the development of a reliable national digital vaccine passport app is very important for the sake of all the organizations and businesses that want to require proof of vaccination for employees, students, or business patrons,'' Williams said.
The AP spoke with several students across the country who did not want to be identified but said they were aware of attempts to obtain fake cards.
Some school officials acknowledge that a foolproof system is impossible.
''As with anything that potentially requires a certification, there is the possibility for an individual to falsify documentation,'' said Michael Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the chancellor's office at California State University. The school system, which is the largest in the nation, oversees about 486,000 students each year on 23 campuses.
Dr. Sarah Van Orman, the chief health officer at the University of Southern California and COVID-19 task force member for the American College Health Association, said college campuses are especially challenging environments to control the spread of COVID-19 since tens of thousands of students move into campus from all over the world. But even if students falsify their vaccination status, it may have limited impact, she said.
''I think that the numbers of students who would do that would be so very small that it wouldn't affect our kind of ability to get good community immunity,'' Orman said.
In March, the concern over fake COVID-19 vaccination cards prompted the FBI to issue a joint statement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging people not to buy, create or sell fabricated vaccine cards.
The unauthorized use of the seal of an official government agency such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a federal crime that carries a possible fine and a maximum of five years in prison.
In April, a bipartisan coalition of 47 state attorneys general sent a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, Shopify and eBay to take down ads or links selling the bogus cards.
Many of the sites have blacklisted keywords related to fake cards, but places to buy the documents are still popping up on messaging apps, chat forums and the dark web.
Sellers on websites such as Counterfeit Center, Jimmy Black Market, and Buy Express Documents list COVID-19 vaccine cards, certificates and passports for sale, some costing '‚¬400 Euros or about $473.49.
An advertisement on the website Buy Real Fake Passport reads vendors can produce fake vaccination cards by the thousands, if not tens of thousands, based on the demand.
''It is hiding under our noses. If you want it, you can find it out,'' said Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of scam-detecting software Fakespot. ''If we are seeing signs where things like Lollapalooza and other festivals are getting fake cards to gain entrance, the trend is just going to continue into these universities.''
In July, the U.S. Department of Justice announced its first federal criminal fraud prosecution involving a fake COVID-19 immunization and vaccination card scheme. Juli A. Mazi, 41, a naturopathic physician in Napa, California, was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters.
Court documents allege she sold fake vaccination cards to customers that appeared to show that they had received Moderna vaccines. In some cases, the documents show Mazi herself filled out the cards, writing her own name, and purported Moderna ''lot numbers'' for a vaccine she had not in fact administered. For other customers, she provided blank CDC COVID-19 vaccination record cards and told each customer to write that she had administered a Moderna vaccine with a specified lot number.
Requiring vaccinations to attend class at colleges and universities has become a contentious political issue in some states. Public colleges in at least 13 states including Ohio, Utah, Tennessee and Florida cannot legally require COVID-19 vaccinations due to state legislation, but private institutions in those same states can.
Among the states introducing and passing bills barring educational institutions from mandating COVID-19 vaccines, infringement on individual rights or liberties is often cited as the main concern.
But according to a statement released by the American College Health Association and other educational organizations, these restrictions impede on universities' abilities to operate fully and safely.
''The science of good public health has gotten lost in some of the decisions that have been made in some places,'' Orman said. ''It has not always been held up by our political leaders.''
Some college students have taken to social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok to voice their outrage over other students possessing fraudulent vaccine cards.
Maliha Reza, an electrical engineering student at Pennsylvania State University, said it is mind-boggling that students would pay for fake vaccination cards when they could get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
''I'm angry about that, like there is more anger than I could describe right now,'' Reza said. ''It's dumb considering the vaccine is free and it is accessible across the country.''
Roselyn Romero is an intern on the Associated Press Global Investigative team. The internship is funded by the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting. Follow Romero at https://www.twitter.com/roselyn_romero
Contact AP's global investigative team at Investigative@ap.org or https://www.ap.org/tips/
The Remains Of A Warrior Found In Finland May Have Had Klinefelter Syndrome : NPR
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:24
A reconstruction drawing of the Suontaka grave from 1,000 years ago and that is now thought to be the final resting place of a nonbinary warrior. Veronika Paschenko/University of Turku hide caption
toggle caption Veronika Paschenko/University of Turku A reconstruction drawing of the Suontaka grave from 1,000 years ago and that is now thought to be the final resting place of a nonbinary warrior.
Veronika Paschenko/University of Turku Analysis of ancient DNA found in Finland has unveiled a surprise a century later '' the remains of an early medieval warrior thought to be female may have been nonbinary.
The new findings challenge previous ideas about gender roles and expression and suggest that nonbinary people were valued and respected members of their communities, researchers concluded in their study, published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Archaeology,
The findings are a reminder that "biology does not directly dictate a person's self-identity," said Ulla Moilanen, the study's lead author and an archaeologist at Finland's University of Turku.
Archaeologists first discovered the grave in 1968. Located in Suontaka Vesitorninm¤ki, southern Finland, the remains were buried alongside a sword and jewelry such as brooches and found in fragments of woolen clothes '-- which were "a typical feminine costume of the era," the researchers said.
But the use of DNA analysis decades later found chromosomes that didn't match what's expected for males or females. The researchers '-- based in Finland and Germany '-- concluded that the buried person likely had Klinefelter syndrome and was anatomically male.
Females are typically born with two X chromosomes (XX) and males are born with one X and one Y chromosome (XY). Males born with Klinefelter syndrome are born with an extra X chromosome (XXY), according to the United Kingdom's National Health Service.
The syndrome affects about 1 in 660 males. Those with Klinefelter may have low levels of testosterone, a smaller penis, undescended testes, enlarged breasts and infertility. Many people aren't diagnosed until they are older and test their fertility levels; others are never diagnosed.
In their findings, the researchers noted that the remains were "badly damaged" and that they only had a small sample to test. But through the use of modeling, they said they "found overwhelming evidence that the genetic data of the Suontaka individual most closely resemble an XXY karyotype."
The honorable way the warrior was buried led researchers to conclude that the remains were of "a respected person whose gender identity may well have been non-binary."
"If the characteristics of the Klinefelter syndrome have been evident on the person, they might not have been considered strictly a female or a male in the Early Middle Ages community," Moilanen said. "The abundant collection of objects buried in the grave is proof that the person was not only accepted but also valued and respected."
The new research indicates that even in an "ultra-masculine environment of early medieval Scandinavia" where men with "feminine social roles and [who] dressed in feminine clothing were disrespected and considered shameful," there may have been individuals who did not fit gender norms and were still admired, the researchers concluded.
Other archaeologists and historians not involved in these new findings told Livescience they found the work exciting, as it calls attention to conversations surrounding gender, bodies and identity.
"It is a well-researched study of an interesting burial," said Leszek Gardela, a researcher at the National Museum of Denmark. "It demonstrates that early medieval societies had very nuanced approaches to and understandings of gender identities."
Dr. Dan Stock's Presentation to the Mt. Vernon School Board in Indiana Over The Futility of Mask Mandates and Covid-19 Protocols
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:07
On Friday, August 7th Dr. Dan Stock addressed the Mt. Vernon School Board in Indiana over the futility of mask mandates and Covid-19 protocols in most schools.  SO, what happened after Dr. Stock spoke? Let's just say, his speech had an impact. The school board "tabled" their plans and will "contemplate" what Dr. Stock said and make a decision by August 16th. If you would like transcripts of his speech click HERE. If you want to stay in touch with Dr. Daniel Stock and be added to his newsletter email, send an email  to medicalfreedom4all@protonmail.com requesting to be added. In his presentation, he references a flash drive he gave the school board members to review with all of the scientific literature he referenced.  Click on the links to access the following studies. 1. SARS-CoV2-Transmission Among Marine Recruits during Quarantine.  READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  2. Longitudinal analysis shows durable and broad immune memory after SARS-CoV-2 infection with persisting antibody responses and memory B and T cells.  READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  3. Vitamin D for prevention of respiratory tract infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis.  READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  4. Facemasks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  5. CDC assessment of non-pharmaceutical influenza methods. 6. Federalist cases/mortality mask comparison7. Heritage Foundation Study - In fact, mask use during the pandemic has been recommended by The Heritage Foundation’s Coronavirus Commission guidelines. However, our findings do suggest that public health strategies relying predominantly on mask mandates are inadequate, and thus other initiatives, in addition to mask wearing, should have been a component of policies aimed to limit the spread of the disease. 8. Declaration of Great Barrington- The Great Barrington Declaration- As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. Over 60,000 medical experts have signed this declaration. 9. Covid-19 Breakthrough Infections in Vaccinated Health Care Workers. READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  10. Calcifediol Treatment and Hospital Mortality Due to COVID-19: A Cohort Study READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  11. Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children. READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  12. Calcifediol treatment and COVID-19-related outcomes READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  13. "Effect of calcifediol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study. READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  14. Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  15. Community Use Of Face Masks And COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  16. Face-Masks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis17. Infection Fatality Ratios for COVID-19 Among Non-Institutionalized Persons 12 and Older: Results of a Random-Sample Prevalence Study READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  18. Open Schools, COVID-19, and Child and Teacher Morbidity in Sweden. READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  19. Face-Masks to prevent transmission of influenza virus: a systematic review  READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  20. Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gathering- Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021 READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  21. Short term, high-dose vitamin D supplementation for COVID-19 disease: a randomized, placebo-controlled, study READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  22. Rapid Expert Consultation on the Effectiveness of Fabric Masks for the COVID-19 Pandemic (April 8, 2020)  READ THE PDF STUDY HERE.  Other Locations of this video:You can watch his 6 minute presentation before the school board  HERE on Facebook or  HERE on youtube (15:20 mark) HERE on Rumble. 
TV: 14 Israelis who got 3rd shot later infected with COVID-19 | The Times of Israel
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:01
Fourteen Israelis have been diagnosed with COVID-19 despite having been inoculated with a third COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to Health Ministry data reported by Channel 12 news on Sunday.
According to the network, two of those infected after receiving the booster shot have been hospitalized.
It was not immediately clear whether the 14 contracted the virus before or after receiving the booster. Such sporadic instances would not be enough for medical officials to draw conclusions as to the third dose's general effectiveness in fighting off the Delta variant of the disease.
Eleven of the 14 cases were over the age of 60, and the remaining three were immunocompromised individuals under 60, the network said. The two that were hospitalized were over 60.
Some 420,000 Israelis have been administered a third booster shot so far, in a drive that began last week.
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termsMeanwhile, in a Sunday meeting, government ministers fought over the prospect of a nationwide lockdown during the upcoming High Holiday period amid surging COVID-19 cases, according to leaks published on Hebrew-language media.
Reports on Channels 12 and 13 and elsewhere said Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, who has courted controversy by calling plans to vaccinate students in schools a ''crime,'' said during the cabinet meeting that the option of a lockdown must be ''taken off the agenda.''
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid (L) attend a cabinet meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on August 8, 2021. (Ohad Zwigenberg/POOL via Flash90)
She said such talk was leading to economic instability and ''people are anxious for'... their livelihood,'' the reports said. ''We have seen the charts '-- it doesn't matter whether countries imposed lockdown or not, the morbidity charts look the same.''
Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern concurred: ''We need to eliminate the word 'lockdown' from our lexicon. We are causing people to live under threat.''
Hamad Amar, a minister in the Finance Ministry, noted that Australia is currently in its eighth lockdown yet cases are still on the rise, claiming that ''lockdown isn't a solution.''
Other ministers emphasized the need for a lockdown and the importance of talking publicly about a lockdown before imposing one.
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)
''I also don't think we should intimidate the public, but the truth is that reality is frightening,'' Public Security Minister Omer Barlev reportedly said. ''The worst situation is not to mention the word 'lockdown' and then in four weeks come to a lockdown.
''We need to tell the truth '-- it's in the hands of the public,'' Barlev added, apparently meaning that increased public awareness and care for health regulations could stave off a closure.
Also in Sunday's meeting, Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen was reported to join ministers' protests against excluding synagogues from new restrictions on gatherings under the revived Green Pass system.
Starting Sunday, gatherings of any size, indoors and out, are limited to those who have been vaccinated, recovered from the virus, or who present a negative COVID test. While the plan originally included synagogues and other houses of worship, these were eventually exempted in prayer services with fewer than 50 participants.
''It hurt to read about the coronavirus cabinet's decision to exclude synagogues from the Green Pass. As if we did not learn a lesson from the previous waves,'' Cohen said. ''There is no justification for this exception. It has also led in the past to the deaths of dozens if not hundreds of people who visited synagogues, and this also greatly harms social solidarity,'' she added.
Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo responded to Cohen by saying the move was a legal instruction, and not a political decision. The exemption of religious services stemmed from an agreement between Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri, who had raised concerns over clamping religious freedom by effectively barring the unvaccinated from communal prayer.
When Cohen asked Shlomo to provide a document instructing the exemption of synagogues, he said there wasn't one.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, right, and Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen in Jerusalem, July 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett then reportedly broke up the argument and said the issue of synagogues would be examined ''in a smaller forum,'' likely referring to the coronavirus cabinet, a forum of ministers whose portfolios deal directly with the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry released new figures Sunday morning showing a continued rise in serious coronavirus cases, with 21 new patients on Saturday bringing the total number to 348, up from 257 on Thursday.
An additional 2,886 people were diagnosed with the virus Saturday at a positive test rate of 3.83 percent, bringing the total number of cases in Israel since the start of the pandemic to 898,433.
Israel's virus death toll is now at 6,535, with 16 fatalities recorded over the weekend.
The ministry said that out of Israel's population of some 9.3 million, over 5.8 million have received at least one vaccine dose, nearly 5.4 million have gotten two and over 420,000 have been administered a third booster shot.
Over one million Israelis eligible for the vaccine have not yet received a single dose, according to the Health Ministry.
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli reportedly suggested during Sunday's meeting that health maintenance organizations should preemptively schedule vaccination appointments for those who haven't yet received their COVID-19 shots.
Bennett, as well as Health Minister Horowitz, expressed interest in the proposal, and it will be examined by the latter's office, reports said.
Israelis present vaccination certificates at the entrance of the Kadosh Cafe in Jerusalem, August 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Ministers on Thursday approved significantly expanding restrictions on gatherings under the Green Pass system, which will now extend to hotels, restaurants and gyms. Gatherings of any size, indoors and out, are also now limited to those who have been vaccinated, recovered from the virus, or who present a negative COVID test.
Channel 12 reported on Friday that Health Ministry officials have indicated that a lockdown would be necessary if and when Israel reaches 600 to 700 seriously ill patients.
''The coronavirus will be here for many years and there will be many more variants, and we need to learn to live with it,'' Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman reportedly said at Sunday's meeting.
The ocean is about to flip a switch that could permanently disrupt life on Earth: study | Salon.com
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 15:42
A massive Atlantic Ocean current system, which affects climate, sea levels and weather systems around the world, may be about to be fatally disrupted.
A new report in the journal Nature Climate Change describes how a series of Atlantic Ocean currents have reached "an almost complete loss of stability over the last century" as the planet continues to warm. The report, authored by Dr. Niklas Boers, specifically analyzes data on ocean temperature and salinity to demonstrate that their circulation has weakened over the past few decades. If current trends continue unabated, they may slow to a dangerous level or even shut down entirely.
The series of currents in question is known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC for short. The current system is sometimes likened to a series of conveyer belts: one "belt" flows north with warm water that, upon reaching the northern Atlantic, cools and evaporates, in the process increasing the salinity of water in that region. The saltier water becomes colder and heavier, sinking and flowing south to create a second "belt." Those two currents are in turn connected by other oceanic features in the Southern Ocean, the Labrador Sea and the Nordic Sea.
The study reinforces earlier scientific studies which found the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation system to be at its weakest in 1,600 years.
This so-called conveyer belt system has been in place for thousands of years or more, and ocean life is adapted to its rhythms. Indeed, AMOC, which scientists believe can slow down or turn off abruptly when temperatures increase, is also vital to maintaining humanity's way of life. If it shuts down, temperature will plummet in Europe while the number of storms increases; changing weather conditions will lead to food shortages in South America, India and Western Africa; and rising sea levels along the North American eastern seaboard will force millions to flee their homes. Considering that AMOC is already starting to decline, this is a serious threat that could radically alter our planet in a matter of mere decades.
"This decline may be associated with an almost complete loss of stability over the course of the last century, and the AMOC could be close to a critical transition to its weak circulation mode," the analysis explains.
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This is not the first troubling news which has emerged about AMOC. In February another study disclosed that AMOC could be weakened by 34% to 45% by the end of the century as Arctic ice and the Greenland Ice Sheet continue to melt. The new report, however, increases the growing sense of scientific alarm about AMOC's integrity.
"This work provides provides additional support for our earlier work in the same journal Nature Climate Change suggesting that a climate change-induced slowdown of the ocean 'conveyer belt' circulation already underway, decades ahead of schedule, yet another reminder that uncertainty is not our friend," Dr. Michael E. Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, wrote to Salon. "There are surprises in store, and they are likely to be unpleasant ones, when it comes to the climate crisis."
Cristian Proistosescu, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois''Urbana-Champaign who studies climate dynamics and global warming consequences, was more measured in his assessment.
"If the worst-case scenario comes to pass '-- and that's a big if '-- we can certainly expect to see dramatic changes in climate in the far north of Europe," Proistosescu told Salon by email. He described a world in which Scandinavian winters are no longer mild, where precipitation patterns shift as far south as central Africa and in which other meteorological patterns alter radically. The worst case scenarios may be "somewhat unlikely," he added, noting that the majority of updated climate models predict a gradual deterioration over the 21st century rather than an abrupt showdown.
"The data we have is too short to say with any real confidence whether the collapse of the North Atlantic Overturning Circulation is truly imminent," Proistosescu concluded. "The question for me is how risk-averse should we be in the face of uncertainty, and how much do we want to avoid a high cost''low probability worst-case scenario? Given the how high the costs would be, we should be fairly risk averse."
Not every climate expert is impressed with the new study's conclusions. Kevin Trenberth, who is part of the Climate Analysis Section at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Salon by email that the new report is "a bunch of total BS. They do not refer to any of our publications about the Atlantic and what is going on there and they get it all wrong." He added that based on "the best and longe[st] record than they have, the N[orth] Atlantic is dominated by natural variability and they can not say anything about the longer term changes."
American atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira also warned against overstating the situation with AMOC. He wrote to Salon that "it should also be noted that paleo-climate data indicates that a shut-down of the North Atlantic circulation may have more widespread consequences than is predicted by the climate models." The problem is that even our most sophisticated climate models do not contain enough details to be able to anticipate with certainty what is going to happen in our climate system.
Like Proistosescu, Caldeira urged erring on the side of being safe. "In this case, uncertainty means risk, and, because effects of our CO2 emissions are effectively irreversible, this risk should motivate a high degree of caution," he concluded.
Reminder of Nationwide Emergency Alert Test on Aug. 11 | Federal Communications Commission
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 15:40
Full Title: Public Safety And Homeland Security Bureau Issues Reminder Of Upcoming Nationwide Test Of The Emergency Alert System And Opt-In Wireless Emergency Alerts On August 11, 2021 Document Type(s): Public Notice Bureau(s): Public Safety and Homeland Security Description:Reminder to participants of the nationwide Emergency Alert System and opt-in Wireless Emergency Alert test, including EAS filing requirements and noting Bureau's accessibility efforts
DA/FCC #: DA-21-955 Docket/RM: 15-91, 15-94 Document Dates Released On: Aug 5, 2021 Issued On: Aug 5, 2021 Contact: Rosemary Cabral at 418-0662, email: Rosemary.Cabral@fcc.gov or Christina Clearwater at (202) 418-1893, email: Christina.Clearwater@fcc.gov Media Contact: Rochelle Cohen at (202) 48-1162, email: Rochelle.Cohen@fcc.gov
Batman's sidekick Robin comes out as bisexual in DC Comic's latest book | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 15:31
One of DC Comics' most beloved superhero characters has come out as bisexual.
In the newly-released installment of 'Batman: Urban Legends,' the Caped Crusader's longtime sidekick Robin, a.k.a Tim Drake, agrees to go on a date with a male character named Bernard Dowd, teasing his LGBTQ status.
Tim/Robin has a 'lightbulb moment' when fighting alongside Bernard during a brawl, eventually rescuing Bernard in the process.
Fans of the comic welcomed the revelation saying they suspected Drake may be bisexual or gay for years.
In the newly-released installment of 'Batman: Urban Legends,' the Caped Crusader's longtime sidekick Robin, a.k.a Tim Drake, (pictured) agrees to go on a date with a male character named Bernard Dowd, teasing his LGBTQ status.
In the latest issue, Tim/Robin has a 'lightbulb moment' when fighting alongside Bernard during a brawl, eventually rescuing Bernard in the process
The superhero later pays Bernard a visit at his apartment, but not before psyching himself up.
'It's OK, Tim. You got this,' Drake's says before ringing Bernard's door.
'I'm really glad you got home okay. I was relieved. And I've been doing a lot of thinking, about that night. And I '-- I don't know what it meant to me. Not yet. But I'd like to figure it out,' Drake continues.
Bernard responds with a smile saying, 'I was hoping you would. Tim Drake '... do you want to go on a date with me?'
The episode ends with a cliffhanger, as Drake answers Bernard's request with, 'Yeah, yeah, I think I want that.'
Although agreeing to go on a date with someone of the same sex doesn't automatically make you bisexual, devout fans continuously speculated over Drake's sexual orientation since the character was first introduced in 1940.
Although agreeing to go on a date with someone of the same sex doesn't automatically make you bisexual, devout fans have continuously speculated over Drake's sexual orientation for years
'Crazy thing, I saw Tim DRAKE coming out, years ago.. congrats to DC for making it a reality,' one fan wrote on Twitter.
'Crazy thing, I saw Tim DRAKE coming out, years ago.. congrats to DC for making it a reality,' one fan wrote on Twitter.
Fans also highlighted that Drake was once dating a character named Stephanie and has dated female characters in the past.
The comic's writer Meghan Fitzman explained to Polygon that she's not deliberately putting a label on the character's feelings just yet, saying, 'I wanted to pay tribute to the fact that sexuality is a journey.
'To be clear, his feelings for Stephanie have been/are 100 percent real, as are his feelings for Bernard. However, Tim is still figuring himself out. I don't think he has the language for it all'... yet,' she added.
Once the news broke, fans of the comic immediately began showing their support for the superhero's LGBTQ storyline.
'Love the art and the dialog is pretty well written. Interested in seeing where this is going,' one fan commented.
'Absolutely love this!' commented another.
This isn't the first comic to introduce an LGBTQ superhero.
In March, Marvel revealed their first openly-gay Captain America character, Aaron Fischer, which is debuted during Pride Month this past year.
Fischer is a youth advocate that was included in the 'United States of Captain America' comic book miniseries which was released on June 2.
'Aaron is inspired by heroes of the queer community: activists, leaders, and everyday folks pushing for a better life,' creator Aaron Trujillo told Entertainment Weekly.
'He stands for the oppressed, and the forgotten,' Trujillo added. 'I hope his debut story resonates with readers, and helps inspire the next generation of heroes.'
In addition to Fischer, Ayo (Black Panther), Valkyrie (Thor: Ragnarok) and Harley Quinn are superhero characters apart of the LGBTQ community.
They're called the Good Club - and they want to save the world | New York | The Guardian
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 14:54
It is the most elite club in the world. Ordinary people need not apply. Indeed there is no way to ask to join. You simply have to be very, very rich and very, very generous. On a global scale.
This is the Good Club, the name given to the tiny global elite of billionaire philanthropists who recently held their first and highly secretive meeting in the heart of New York City.
The names of some of the members are familiar figures: Bill Gates, George Soros, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, David Rockefeller and Ted Turner. But there are others, too, like business giants Eli and Edythe Broad, who are equally wealthy but less well known. All told, its members are worth $125bn.
The meeting - called by Gates, Buffett and Rockefeller - was held in response to the global economic downturn and the numerous health and environmental crises that are plaguing the globe. It was, in some ways, a summit to save the world.
No wonder that when news of the secret meeting leaked, via the seemingly unusual source of an Irish-American website, it sent shock waves through the worlds of philanthropy, development aid and even diplomacy. "It is really unprecedented. It is the first time a group of donors of this level of wealth has met like that behind closed doors in what is in essence a billionaires' club," said Ian Wilhelm, senior writer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy magazine.
The existence of the Good Club has struck many as a two-edged sword. On one hand, they represent a new golden age of philanthropy, harking back to the early 20th century when the likes of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Carnegie became famous for their good works. Yet the reach and power of the Good Club are truly new. Its members control vast wealth - and with that wealth comes huge power that could reshape nations according to their will. Few doubt the good intentions of Gates and Winfrey and their kind. They have already improved the lives of millions of poor people across the developing world. But can the richest people on earth actually save the planet?
The President's House of Rockefeller University is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The university's private campus, full of lush green trees, lies behind guarded entrances and a metal fence. It overlooks the East River, only a few blocks away from the United Nations.
It was here, at 3pm on 5 May, that the Good Club gathered. The university's chancellor, Sir Paul Nurse, was out of town but, at the request of David Rockefeller, had allowed the club to meet at his plush official residence. The president's house is frequently used for university events, but rarely can it have played host to such a powerful conclave. "The fact that they pulled this off, meeting in the middle of New York City, is just absolutely amazing," said Niall O'Dowd, an Irish journalist who broke the story on the website irishcentral.com.
For six hours, the assembled billionaires discussed the crises facing the world. Each was allowed to speak for 15 minutes. The topics focused on education, emergency relief, government reform, the expected depth of the economic crisis and global health issues such as overpopulation and disease. One of the themes was new ways to get ordinary people to donate small amounts to global issues. Sources say Gates was the most impressive speaker, while Turner was the most outspoken. "He tried to dominate, which I think annoyed some of the others," said one source. Winfrey, meanwhile, was said to have been in a contemplative, listening mood.
That the group should have met at all is indicative of the radical ways in which philanthropy has changed over the past two decades. The main force behind that change is Gates and his decision to donate almost all his fortune to bettering the world. Unlike the great philanthropists of former ages, Gates is young enough and active enough to take a full hands-on role in his philanthropy and craft it after his own ideas. That example has been followed by others, most notably Soros, Turner and Buffett. Indeed, this new form of philanthropy, where retired elite businessmen try to change the world, has even been dubbed "Billanthropy" after Gates. Another description is "philanthro-capitalism".
Yet the implications of the development of philanthro-capitalism are profound. It was fitting that the Good Club was meeting near the UN. The club members' extreme wealth makes it as powerful as some of the nations with seats inside that august chamber.
Proponents of philanthro-capitalism would argue that they are also more effective in doing good for ordinary people. Indeed the club's members have given away about $70bn in the past 12 years. That is far beyond what many individual countries can afford to do with their own social policies and aid budgets.
"They have assets that rival the social spending budgets of many countries," said Professor Paul Schervish, director of Boston College's Centre on Wealth and Philanthropy.
There is little doubt that members of the Good Club have done amazing work. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with a current endowment of more than $30bn, is the biggest philanthropic organisation ever. Just one of its projects, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, is estimated by the WHO to have prevented 3.4 million deaths in just eight years.
The Soros Foundation has done valuable work setting up democratic institutions and independent media across the former Soviet bloc. These titans of philanthropy have also started a trend among the slightly less wealthy. While Gates's and Soros's efforts bestride the world, major philanthropists have emerged in specific regions like India or Latin America funding their own pet ideas and projects. Gayle Peterson, co-founder of Headwaters Group Philanthropic Services, recently gave advice to a businessman who wanted to set up a foundation to give away $280m annually in south-east Asia. "He told us: I want to be just like Bill Gates," she said.
But there is a potential downside to the growth of these "¼ber donors", especially if the whims of individuals start to take precedence over the expertise of professionals.
The strange truth is that giving away billions of dollars is difficult and fraught with risk. There can be waste, mismanagement and poor investment. At the same time it can actually do harm. "If you are putting enormous amounts of money into a community that can't cope with it, then you can implode that community," Peterson said.
Others are even more outspoken at the growing dominance of a tiny handful of billionaires in the development sector. "The problem with any Good Club is that all the people might not be 'good'. Or at least not 'good' in universal definitions," said Louise Uwacu, the Rwandan-born founder of the Canadian education charity Positivision.
There is also the issue of accountability. Even the most repressive of national governments is on some level beholden to its own people, or has the capacity to change and reform under popular pressure. But who votes for the Good Club?
Such sceptical sentiments might spring from the Good Club's decision to meet in such secrecy in New York. In many ways that was understandable. All its members are sensitive about privacy because of their unique mixes of fame and wealth. The covert nature of the discussion also allowed them to speak freely about sensitive issues. "I think they just wanted to be able to be candid. The secrecy allowed that," said Wilhelm.
But some people are crying conspiracy. The cloak-and-dagger aspect of the meeting has prompted some to accuse the Good Club of being a sort of Bilderberg Group for philanthropy, with an equally nefarious agenda of global power politics. That idea has particular power on the Christian right of America, which has reacted angrily to the idea that the club discussed birth control and overpopulation. Experts in the philanthropy field think that this negative image can be countered by more openness for future Good Club meetings.
"If they do hold more meetings, and every indication is that they will, I think people would want them to be more public. After all, they can make decisions that affect millions of peoples' lives," said Wilhelm.
That is true. If the members of the Good Club wish to wield their undoubted power, they may have to get used to the idea of doing it more openly.
The American tradition of great donorsBill GatesThe co-founder of Microsoft is the biggest philanthropist the world has ever seen. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,he controls more than $30bn in assets - not bad for a computer geek from Seattle. Often ranked as the world's richest man, he has donated virtually his entire fortune to philanthropy, focusing on combating diseases in the developing world.
Henry FordAs well as being the father of the US car industry and the inventor of the modern production line, Ford has been a major force in philanthropy. He made a vast fortune and left virtually all of it to the Ford Foundation, which by 2007 had more than $13bn in assets.
George SorosHungarian-born Soros is a hugely successful US currency speculator and financier. But he is also well known for his philanthropic works. Focusing on political democratisation and creating an independent media, he has funded projects mainly in the former Soviet republics. A political liberal, he is also a funder of the Centre for American Progress.
Andrew CarnegieThis Scottish-born American industrialist made a huge fortune in steel and industry at the end of the 19th century. He devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy, especially education, founding libraries, museums and universities in Britain and America. He wrote of the responsibilities of the wealthy in two books, Triumphant Democracy and the Gospel of Wealth.
John D RockefellerThe man whose name became a byword for unimaginable wealth made his fortune in oil. Often regarded as the richest person in history, Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life in effective retirement, setting up various foundations and funding philanthropic causes. His special interests were in the fields of science and medicine.
Vaccines & The Law - America's Frontline Doctors
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 14:44
The law is clear. An experimental vaccine cannot be mandated. We want you to be armed with resources to advocate for yourself and your loved ones. Here is a letter template to utilize related to your employer or school attempting to mandate the Covid-19 experimental vaccine candidates. Please edit the portion in red, specific to you, and distribute. Send to principals, superintendents, department of education officials, managers, corporate officers, etc. Put everyone on notice! Send on your own or unite with others' signatures in support of your movement. Informed and united people are truly the greatest threat to tyranny!
Response to Banks Banning Conservatives in US & UK
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 14:35
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Big Banks Unleash Widespread Cancel Culture on US & UK patriots For National Release | Aug. 9, 2021(Raleigh, NC) ALIPAC.us responds to the news that Nigel Farage's former Brexit Party in the United Kingdom, now renamed the Reform Party, joins American conservative groups like GAB and ALIPAC as victims of big bank cancel culture.William Gheen of ALIPAC.us responded to the news that big bank cancel culture has gone international..."As most in the media remain silent in the face of these political purges by big banks, we expect to see many more victims have their civil rights violated. The goal of this form of tyranny is to terrorize, censor, and silence the opponents of globalism and socialism, and those who react to it with silence welcome more of it! No media outlet, blogger, candidate, party, individual or group is safe from this tyranny of the banks."A Breitbart report on NewsWars indicates...--Metro Bank has informed the Reform UK by letter that ''after careful consideration, we are unable to continue to act as your bankers.''Former Member of European Parliament (MEP) and current Reform UK leader Richard Tice accused the bank of making the decision ''based on politics'' and told The Telegraph that he fears for the viability of the party if they fail to secure alternative banking services. Tice, who took over as leader of the party from Brexit champion Nigel Farage, said of Metro Bank's decision: ''It is absolutely outrageous.'' --America's 6th largest bank Truist, a new merger between BB&T and Suntrust, sent US Groups ALIPAC and GAB identical letters in July canceling their bank accounts as an act of political intolerance. ALIPAC believes this may be the beginning of a global Social Credit System emanating from Communist China. It is likely there are many more, as of yet unknown, targets of the Truist political purge.Will media silence allow this new control tool to become as endemic and damaging to Democracy as Big Tech censorship?For more information about how big banks are trying to wipe out conservative groups and free speech in the US and UK by canceling banking access, please visit www.ALIPAC.us.###Last edited by ALIPAC; 08-09-2021 at 05:23 PM .But they can "act" as Bankers for millions of illegal aliens in our country?That is in violation of Federal Immigration & Visa Laws "aiding and abetting" illegal aliens by enabling them to have bank accounts and loans. Many are buying property and cars, or have business loans. This practice needs to be halted.Time for some action to investigate the legality of this.All bank account holders, who are in this country illegally, should have their bank accounts terminated, closed out, and issue them a check.TO BECOME AN AMERICAN YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR VALUES ...NOT YOUR LOCATION STAY HOME AND BUILD AMERICA ON YOUR SOIL
Debank the Right: Rebranded Brexit Party Has Bank Account Closed Down Image Credits: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.
By Breitbart Monday, August 09, 2021 Nigel Farage's former Brexit Party, which has been rebranded following departure from the European Union as the Reform Party, has had its bank account shut down. Metro Bank has informed the Reform UK by letter that ''after careful consideration, we are unable to continue to act as your bankers''. Former Member of European Parliament (MEP) and current Reform UK leader Richard Tice accused the bank of making the decision ''based on politics'' and told The Telegraphthat he fears for the viability of the party if they fail to secure alternative banking services. Tice, who took over as leader of the party from Brexit champion Nigel Farage, said of Metro Bank's decision: ''It is absolutely outrageous.'' He added: ''We are fifth in the polls. It's not like we're some extremist zealots. We got 300,000 votes in the May elections. ''If we believe that we're a proper functioning democracy, then new disrupters need to be able to operate. You can't operate if you don't have a bank account that you can pay bills with.'' The bank claimed that the decision to close the account was made after it was determined not to be ''commercially viable'' and claimed that their business is ''politically neutral''.https://www.newswars.com/debank-the-...t-closed-down/Similar Threads Replies: Last Post: 01-12-2013, 04:55 AM
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All the Ways Spotify Tracks You'--and How to Stop It | WIRED
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 14:17
Facebook and Google are the web's biggest advertising powerhouses. But Spotify has ambitions to rival them. And it has all the data it needs to do just that.
Each day hundreds of millions of people use Spotify on their phones, tablets, and desktops'--most often remaining logged in as they move from one device to the next. With each track played, playlist created, and podcast listened to, we all feed more information into Spotify's big data machine. More than 100 billion data points are created every day.
Each one gives Spotify a little more information about our lives. ''Spotify has a crazy amount of data about us,'' says Bryan Barletta, author of Sounds Profitable, a newsletter about audio and podcast advertising. ''We've always known that what you listen to, how you listen to it, and the activities you do around listening to it are some of the most intimate things that we do. '‹'‹They are doing some really clever things in audio.''
Spotify knows the value of this data and uses it to help drive the advertising it sells. ''These real-time, personal insights go beyond demographics and device IDs alone to reveal our audience's moods, mindsets, tastes, and behaviors,'' Spotify's advertising materials say. Of Spotify's 365 million monthly users, 165 million of them subscribe to not listen to ads. The other 200 million put up with them. So how much does Spotify really know, and how can you limit its data collection?
What Spotify Knows About You
Everything you do in Spotify's web player and desktop and mobile apps is tracked. Every tap, song start, playlist listen, search, shuffle, and pause is logged. Spotify knows that you started playing Lizzo's ''Truth Hurts'' at 23:03, listened to it for one minute, then searched for ''break up'' and listened to the entire four hours and 52 minutes of the ''ANGRY BREAKUP PLAYLIST'' without any pauses.
All this behavioral data can be mined by Spotify'--and it can be deeply revealing. Back in 2015, when Spotify had just 15 million paying subscribers, one executive said it collects an ''enormous amount of data on what people are listening to, where, and in what context. It really gives us insight into what these people are doing.''
The music you listen to mirrors how you feel, who you're with, and what you're doing. To make the most of this, Spotify has invested heavily in data science and has even used people's listening habits in its advertising. "Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton Soundtrack 5,376 times this year, can you get us tickets?" read one ad from 2017.
This granularity can be lucrative for companies wanting to target people with attention-grabbing ads. Based on your behavior, Spotify comes up with ''inferences'' that are meant to reflect your interests and preferences. ''What's interesting is that the data from the paid users, who are not listening to podcasts, they might never hear an ad in Spotify, but they power that logic engine,'' Barletta says. ''They're a control group.''
But that's not the only data Spotify gets. If you really want to know what Spotify knows about you, then you need to read its privacy policy, which runs to 4,500 words. ''I think they can use much clearer language,'' says Pat Walshe, a data protection and privacy consultant who has researched Spotify's use of data. ''They can be more concise, they can lay it out better.''
Broadly, the rest of the data Spotify has about you is information you give it when you're creating an account. You can tell it your username, email, phone number, date of birth, gender, street address, and country. If you pay, you'll also give it your billing information. The company's privacy policy also says it can get cookie data, IP addresses, the type of device you're using, your browser type, your operating system, and information about some devices on your Wi-Fi network.
It can also get ''motion-generated or orientation-generated mobile sensor data'' from your device's accelerometer or gyroscope. If you use its ''Hey Spotify'' voice controls, then it can also access these recordings.
Spotify can get extra information about you from other companies and services. If you log in with Facebook, for instance, it can ''import your information'' from there, including a Facebook user ID. Other ''technical service partners'' provide Spotify with data that puts IP addresses onto maps to know what city and state you're in.
Spotify's Ad Machine
The data that Spotify collects is not uncommon'--other apps and services you use collect a lot more. But Barletta says the ''most powerful thing'' about Spotify is that it feels a lot more private than Facebook or other social media platforms, because you're feeding its algorithms in a different way. ''You can't upload anything, you can't have conversations,'' he says. You are not sharing photos, videos, or messages. But, despite this, Spotify still knows how you think and feel.
It's this behavioral data that helps Spotify go big on personalization. Its privacy policy says it can use your data for personalization, troubleshooting, developing new features and technology, marketing and advertising, research, and for other legal reasons. Many of these personalization features are likely to involve systems that recommend new music and playlists to you.
But there's also Spotify's advertising business'--something that's increasingly linked to its burgeoning podcast empire. The company's privacy policy says it works with ''advertising partners'' to share data and work out what your ''interests or preferences'' are. ''We may obtain certain data about you, such as cookie id, mobile device id, or email address, and inferences about your interests and preferences from certain advertisers and advertising partners that allow us to deliver more relevant ads and measure their effectiveness,'' it says. The more ''relevant'' an ad is, the more likely it is to attract a higher price.
Spotify's advertising documents show how ads can be targeted at your mood and what you are doing. Like electronica? Brands can target ads at the genre. But if you're into folk, the ads probably won't be the same. Listening to a ''romance'' playlist on a Friday night? The ads may be very different to your Sunday morning ''road trip'' playlist.
Spotify can also sell ads based on what you're doing'--these are called real-time context ads. Spotify lists 10 different situations you may be in: chill, dinner, gaming, party, travel, cooking, focus, holidays, study, or workout. It even offers advice for pushing ads to millennials in these contexts. That's all on top of other common advertising categories, such as being a parent, someone who is interested in health and fitness, or being an Android user.
What You Can Do About It
There are a few steps you can take to limit how Spotify uses and collects your data'--but not that many. ''There are things that I think they could do much better,'' Walshe says. There could be more transparency about how Spotify uses data and prompts that can ''nudge people'' about privacy options, he says. This could include Spotify introducing privacy checkups where people can review their settings.
But what can you do now? One thing to consider is listening in a Private Session. By default all your Spotify listening can be seen by people who are following you. One way to stop this is by opting to listen privately'--but the setting needs to be turned on each time you use Spotify. To turn it on when you are using a phone or tablet, tap Home, Settings, scroll to Social, and find the Private session toggle. On desktop it's a little easier: You can do it by clicking the down arrow in the top right corner and clicking Private session.
While this mode stops people who follow you from seeing what you're listening to, it doesn't necessarily stop Spotify from logging that data. Spotify says what you listen to in a private session ''may not influence'' the music recommendations it makes. Walshe questions why there isn't an option to make all Spotify sessions private automatically. ''Privacy should be the default setting,'' he says. (Spotify did not acknowledge or reply to a request for comment.)
Spotify's desktop app has one main privacy setting, although it is buried within its various menus. Click your username in the top right of the app, click Settings, scroll down to Show advanced settings, and click again. From here you can start blocking ''all cookies for this installation of the Spotify desktop app.'' Also within the desktop app's settings you can choose whether you want new playlists to be made public, if you want to share your listening activity on Spotify, and change notification settings. Individual playlists can also be hidden by navigating to them and selecting the options to remove them from your profile or make them private.
The majority of Spotify's privacy controls are accessed on the web through your Account page. Here you can turn off highly targeted advertising. Head to the Account option, Privacy settings, and then change the setting for Tailored ads. ''If you opt out, we will still show you ads based on your Spotify registration information and your real-time usage of Spotify but they will be less tailored to you,'' Spotify's settings explain. You'll still get the same number of ads, though.
While you're looking at the Privacy settings, you should also turn off Facebook data'--this will stop Spotify using any data, other than login information, that has been shared from Facebook. The same page also allows you to download some of your Spotify data'--including logs of your searches, playlists, streaming history, voice commands you've made, and what Spotify thinks you're interested in.
Within Spotify's settings on the web you can also see what apps have access to your Spotify account and remove those that don't need it. For instance, you may need to disconnect an old Alexa speaker you used to use with Spotify. You can also remove access for Spotify's AdGenerator tool.
Another thing to consider, if you're listening to Spotify on the web, is using a privacy browser that will limit the use of third-party cookies (scores of third parties are fed your Spotify data through cookies). On iOS you can also stop Spotify'--and all other apps'--tracking your behavior as you move around your phone by changing your ad tracking transparency settings. Ultimately, it's impossible to use Spotify without it processing your personal data. ''To delete that personal data, you need to close your account,'' Spotify's settings say.
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Billionaire-backed mining firm to seek electric vehicle metals in Greenland | Reuters
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 09:28
Areas of Greenland are seen from an aerial helicopter tour near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, May 20, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS
COPENHAGEN, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Mineral exploration company KoBold Metals, backed by billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, has signed an agreement with London-listed Bluejay Mining (JAY.L) to search in Greenland for critical materials used in electric vehicles.
KoBold, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to hunt for raw materials, will pay $15 million in exploration funding for the Disko-Nuussuaq project on Greenland's west coast in exchange for a 51% stake in the project, Bluejay said in a statement.
Shares in BlueJay traded 26% higher on the news.
The license holds metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum and the funding will cover evaluation and initial drilling.
KoBold is a privately-held company whose principal investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate and technology fund backed by Microsoft (MSFT.O) co-founder Bill Gates, Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg, Amazon (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos, and Ray Dalio, founder of the world's largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.
Other KoBold investors include Silicon Valley venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz and Norwegian state-controlled energy company Equinor.
BlueJay said previous studies found the area in western Greenland has similarities to the geology of Russia's Norilsk region, a main producer of nickel and palladium.
"This agreement is transformative for Bluejay," said the comany's CEO Bo Steensgaard. "We are delighted to have a partner at the pinnacle of technical innovation for new exploration methods, backed by some of the most successful investors in the world."
(Corrects 5th paragraph to reflect that Breakthrough Energy Ventures is an investor in KoBold, not an owner)
Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-PedersenEditing by David Holmes
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Wild U.S. deer found with coronavirus antibodies
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 18:34
New research suggests white-tailed deer are encountering the coronavirus in the wild, a possible spillover from human infections.
Photograph by Ben Hasty, MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty ImagesPlease be respectful of copyright. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Animals Coronavirus Coverage A new study detected coronavirus antibodies in 40 percent of deer tested this year. Here's why that matters.
By Dina Fine Maron
Published August 2, 2021
' 7 min read
White-tailed deer, a species found in every U.S. state except Alaska, appear to be contracting the coronavirus in the wild, according to the first study to search for evidence of an outbreak in wild deer.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) analyzed blood samples from more than 600 deer in Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania over the past decade, and they discovered that 152 wild deer, 40 percent of the deer tested from January through March 2021, had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Another three deer from January 2020 also had antibodies.
Their presence means that deer likely had encountered the virus and then fought it off. The animals didn't appear sick, so they probably had asymptomatic infections, the agency says. Roughly 30 million white-tailed deer live in the U.S.
''The risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is considered low,'' the USDA told National Geographic in a statement. Still, the results may suggest that ''a secondary reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 has been established in wildlife in the U.S.'' says J¼ergen Richt, a veterinarian and director of the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at Kansas State University who was not involved in the USDA's work. If the virus is circulating in other species, it could continue to evolve, perhaps in ways that make it more severe or transmissible, undermining efforts to slow the pandemic.
At present there's no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is having any detrimental effect on deer. And for humans, our infinitely greater problem is spread from other humans.
By Daniel Bausch zoonotic diseases expert
Earlier this year, researchers established that deer are susceptible to the virus when infected in the lab'--and that they can pass the virus to each other. But scientists didn't know until now if infections were occurring in nature. The only species with lab results indicating that they had contracted the virus in the wild had been mink, though cats, dogs, otters, lions, tigers, snow leopards, gorillas, and a cougar have all had outbreaks in captivity or in zoos. (Learn more about efforts to vaccinate some of these animals.)
The new USDA report was posted on a preprint website, which means it hasn't yet been peer-reviewed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn't respond to request for comment.
Human transmission''At present there's no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is having any detrimental effect on deer. And for humans, our infinitely greater problem is spread from other humans,'' says Daniel Bausch, a Switzerland-based zoonotic diseases expert and the director of emerging threats and global health security at the nonprofit FIND, which works to develop tests for poverty-related diseases.
The USDA says the risk to people who hunt white-tailed deer is not high. Though researchers posit the virus may have originally jumped from animal to human at a wet market in China, where wild animals were slaughtered and sold for food, differences in food preparation procedures matter.
There's ''no evidence that you can get COVID-19 by eating [contaminated] food, including wild hunted game meat,'' the USDA says. The department is not issuing new guidance, pointing instead to existing government recommendations on good hygiene when processing animals, which include properly cooking and storing meat, and cleaning and disinfecting all knives, surfaces, and equipment.
Exactly how deer may have been exposed to the virus remains uncertain, though researchers suspect they were infected by humans. ''Multiple activities could bring deer into contact with people, including captive cervid operations, field research, conservation work, wildlife tourism, wildlife rehabilitation, supplemental feeding, and hunting,'' the USDA researchers wrote. Other possibilities include that they contracted it through contaminated wastewater or from exposure to other infected species like mink.
Researchers also don't know if the deer are passing the virus among themselves or to other species.
Widening the netThere's a chance that the deer didn't have SARS-CoV-2 at all, Bausch says; another explanation is that the USDA's tests detected antibodies for other coronaviruses, a phenomenon known as cross-reactivity.
The USDA says that's unlikely. Researchers used a commercially available SARS-CoV-2 antibody screening test that has been highly accurate with other species. The USDA also helped rule out the chances of cross-reactivity by testing a subset of the samples using a second type of antibody test even more specific to SARS-CoV-2. That second test's results mirrored the earlier findings, suggesting that the tests were truly picking up SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, the USDA told National Geographic in a statement.
Pre-pandemic blood samples from deer also shore up the results: If the tests were just detecting antibodies for other coronaviruses, antibody levels in deer likely would be similar in samples taken both before and during the pandemic. Yet when the researchers tested 239 samples collected before January 2020 from a slightly wider pool that also included deer from New Jersey, they had only one positive test'--from 2019. (The USDA says that the single outlier was almost certainly a false positive since it had a very low level of antibodies. Richt says that the USDA's false-positive conclusion sounds reasonable.)
Bausch says that performing the two types of tests gives him greater confidence in the results. Still, it's always possible that cross-reactivity is an issue. ''There are many coronaviruses that circulate in animals and likely many that we've yet to discover,'' he says. The most definitive ways to rule out cross-reactivity, he says, would be to isolate a virus on cell culture'--perhaps by testing respiratory secretions from deer'--but that would require finding a deer when it had an active coronavirus infection.
Exposure to the virus seemed to vary widely by location, the researchers found. Of the four states, Michigan had the largest percentage of deer with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies'--67 percent. That was followed by Pennsylvania with 44 percent, New York with 31 percent, and Illinois with 7 percent of samples showing antibodies. The deer with coronavirus antibodies were also concentrated in specific counties, the USDA writes, ''with nearly half of the 32 counties sampled showing no evidence'' of coronavirus exposure, the study says.
''These results emphasize the need for continued and expanded wildlife surveillance to determine the significance of SARS-CoV-2 in free-ranging deer,'' the USDA says. Now, the researchers wrote, it's also important to look for the virus in predators and scavengers that may eat deer.
NSA Awards Secret $10 Billion Contract to Amazon - Nextgov
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 18:24
The National Security Agency has awarded a secret cloud computing contract worth up to $10 billion to Amazon Web Services, Nextgov has learned.
The contract is already being challenged. Tech giant Microsoft filed a bid protest on July 21 with the Government Accountability Office two weeks after being notified by the NSA that it had selected AWS for the contract.
The contract's code name is ''WildandStormy,'' according to protest filings, and it represents the second multibillion-dollar cloud contract the U.S. intelligence community'--made up of 17 agencies, including the NSA'--has awarded in the past year.
In November, the CIA awarded its C2E contract, potentially worth tens of billions of dollars, to five companies'--AWS, Microsoft, Google, Oracle and IBM'--that will compete for specific task orders for certain intelligence needs.
Details on the NSA's newly awarded cloud contract are sparse, but the acquisition appears to be part of the NSA's attempt to modernize its primary classified data repository, the Intelligence Community GovCloud.
For the better part of a decade, the NSA has moved its data, including signals intelligence and other foreign surveillance and intelligence information it ingests from multiple repositories around the globe, into this internally operated data lake analysts from the NSA and other IC agencies can run queries and perform analytics against.
In 2020, intelligence officials signaled an intent to bring in a commercial cloud provider to meet demands caused by exponential data growth and massive processing and analytics requirements that are challenging the NSA's ability to scale. The effort, called the Hybrid Compute Initiative, would effectively move the NSA's crown jewel intelligence data from its own servers to servers operated by a commercial cloud provider.
Another win for Amazon
Amazon Web Services is parent company Amazon's most profitable business unit, and while industry analysts consider it the market leader in cloud computing, it is also the dominant cloud provider among federal agencies, the Defense Department and the intelligence community. AWS first inked a $600 million cloud contract with the CIA called C2S in 2013, through which it provided cloud services to the CIA and sister intelligence agencies, including the NSA. Last year, AWS secured at least a portion of the CIA's multibillion-follow-on C2E contract. Microsoft twice won the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract over AWS, but Defense officials cancelled that contract in July after years of litigation.
''[The NSA's award] just reiterates that Amazon is still the cloud provider to beat across the federal government,'' said Chris Cornillie, an analyst at Bloomberg Government. ''Microsoft has come a long way and made it a two way horse race in government, but Amazon was forming relationships and gathering security certifications a decade ago and Microsoft is still playing catch-up.''
AWS referred questions to the NSA.
"NSA recently awarded a contract for cloud computing services to support the Agency. The unsuccessful offeror has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. The Agency will respond to the protest in accordance with appropriate federal regulations," an NSA spokesperson told Nextgov.
In a statement to Nextgov, Microsoft confirmed its protest.
"Based on the decision we are filing an administrative protest via the Government Accountability Office. We are exercising our legal rights and will do so carefully and responsibly," a Microsoft spokesperson told Nextgov.
The Government Accountability Office is expected to issue a decision on Microsoft's protest by Oct. 29.
Editor's note: This story was updated to include a comment from the NSA.
Google slashing pay for work-from-home employees by up to 25%
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 18:12
By Theo Wayt
August 10, 2021 | 10:19am
Google has rolled out a new internal calculator to explain potential pay cuts to employees who choose to work remotely, according to a new report.
And it suggests the company plans to penalize its suburban staffers over employees who work remotely from cities where Google offices are located, according to Reuters.
Screenshots of the calculator show, for example, that Google employees who previously commuted an hour to Google's Manhattan offices from nearby Stamford, Conn., would see their salaries slashed by 15 percent if they choose to continue working from home.
By contrast, ''Googlers'' who live within NYC's five boroughs and choose to work from home permanently would not see their pay slashed at all.
Screenshots obtained by Reuters showed 5 percent and 10 percent differences for commuters living in the Seattle, Boston and San Francisco areas.
Google is slashing pay by up to 25% for some employees who choose to work remotely forever. SOPA Images/LightRocket via GettGoogle employees who move even farther away from the company's offices have been warned they could face even harsher pay cuts. A worker who left San Francisco for Lake Tahoe, another expensive area of California, would have their pay cut by a whopping 25 percent.
That would mean an employee with a $150,000 salary would suddenly make less than $112,000 per year.
A Google employee who previously commuted the hour from Stamford, Conn., to Manhattan before the pandemic would see their salary slashed by 15 percent if they choose to continue working from home after the pandemic. Michael M. Santiago/Getty ImageThe calculator states it uses US Census Bureau metropolitan statistical areas, or CBSAs. Stamford, Conn., for example, is not in New York City's CBSA, even though many people who live there work in New York.
News of the Google tool comes amid a broader debate at tech companies about remote work and compensation.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have all warned employees who plan to leave expensive cities like New York and San Francisco that their pay will be slashed '-- while smaller tech companies like Reddit and Zillow say they'll pay the same regardless of where employees live.
Jake Rosenfeld, a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis who researches pay determination, said Google's pay structure raises alarms about who will feel the impacts most acutely, including families.
''What's clear is that Google doesn't have to do this,'' Rosenfeld told Reuters. ''Google has paid these workers at 100 percent of their prior wage, by definition. So it's not like they can't afford to pay their workers who choose to work remotely the same that they are used to receiving.''
Google, which has about 140,000 employees worldwide, took in $61.9 billion in revenue during the second quarter of this year alone.
The company did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Post and did not address the Stamford commuter issue in a statement to Reuters.
''Our compensation packages have always been determined by location, and we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from,'' a Google spokesperson told Reuters.
With Post wires
Fundstrat says bitcoin is headed to $100,000 by year-end as a trading rule kicks in
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 18:09
In this photo illustration a Bitcoin logo seen displayed on a smartphone with stock market percentages in the background.
Omar Marques | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images
Bitcoin's price broke $46,000 on Monday '' its highest level since the middle of May '' and Fundstrat Global Advisors believes the digital coin could soar to $100,000 by year-end.
Utah 'Black Lives Matter' Leader Steps Down, Leaves State After Post About U.S. Flag
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 18:06
The president of the Black Lives Matter Utah Chapter announced Sunday that she is resigning from her post due to death threats pouring in over a controversial social media post about the American Flag.
Lex Scott, who was also the president of the Utah Black History Museum until Sunday, said in a Facebook post in the BLM Utah Chapter group that she has "received death threats like a flood" since posting commentary about the meaning of the American flag under the account for BLM Utah Chapter, which is not connected to Black Lives Matter National.
An incident involving an individual trying to climb over her fence prompted Scott to move her family to safety.
"This is not new. The only new thing was when someone attempted to climb over my fence and instead of defending myself, I relaxed my body and told myself that I wished they would hurry and get it over with. I did not even want to fight back. The exhaustion of being on defense had worn on me," Scott said in the Sunday Facebook post.
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In the commentary Scott posted about the meaning of the American flag on July 4, she argued that for Black Americans, the flag is a warning that the person(s) flying it has hostile feelings toward people of color.
"When we Black Americans see this flag we know the person flying it is not safe to be around. When we see this flag we know the person flying it is a racist. When we see this flag we know that the person flying it lives in a different America than we do. When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred," the post read.
Scott said she had no regrets about the post and that "some of us live in a different America...we really do. We don't have the same experience as the people who are flying that [flag]."
Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters (L) confront each other during the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 7, 2020. GEORGE FREY / AFP/Getty ImagesEnsuing outrage over the Facebook post elicited a public response from Utah NAACP and Governor Spencer Cox.
"I think our flag stands against racism. I said I refuse to let white supremacists take away what that flag stands for and I refuse to let Lex Scott take away what that flag stands for," Cox told local ABC affiliate ABC4.
Neither BLM Utah Chapter, Scott nor the Utah Black History museum responded immediately to Newsweek's requests for comment. According to Scott's post, Rae Duckworth is now the President of BLM Utah and Mario Mathis has assumed her position as president of the Utah Black History. She praised them both, calling Duckworth the "answer to many of my prayers" and Mathis an "amazing person."
Scott did not reveal where her family was relocating but said in the Sunday Facebook post that they were moving to a majority Black city.
"The massive security procedures that became a part of daily life. Moving my daughter's bedroom to avoid a pipe bomb being thrown through her window," Scott said. "This is not life. And my family should not have to live that."
New ''Glowworm attack'' recovers audio from devices' power LEDs '' Ars Technica
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 18:03
This three-minute video outlines how Glowworm works and gives examples of optically recovered audio.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have demonstrated a novel way to spy on electronic conversations. A new paper released today outlines a novel passive form of the TEMPEST attack called Glowworm, which converts minute fluctuations in the intensity of power LEDs on speakers and USB hubs back into the audio signals that caused those fluctuations.
The Cyber@BGU team'--consisting of Ben Nassi, Yaron Pirutin, Tomer Gator, Boris Zadov, and Professor Yuval Elovici'--analyzed a broad array of widely used consumer devices including smart speakers, simple PC speakers, and USB hubs. The team found that the devices' power indicator LEDs were generally influenced perceptibly by audio signals fed through the attached speakers.
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Although the fluctuations in LED signal strength generally aren't perceptible to the naked eye, they're strong enough to be read with a photodiode coupled to a simple optical telescope. The slight flickering of power LED output due to changes in voltage as the speakers consume electrical current are converted into an electrical signal by the photodiode; the electrical signal can then be run through a simple Analog/Digital Converter (ADC) and played back directly.
A novel passive approachWith sufficient knowledge of electronics, the idea that a device's supposedly solidly lit LEDs will "leak" information about what it's doing is straightforward. But to the best of our knowledge, the Cyber@BGU team is the first to both publish the idea and prove that it works empirically.
The strongest features of the Glowworm attack are its novelty and its passivity. Since the approach requires absolutely no active signaling, it would be immune to any sort of electronic countermeasure sweep. And for the moment, a potential target seems unlikely to either expect or deliberately defend against Glowworm'--although that might change once the team's paper is presented later this year at the CCS 21 security conference.
The attack's complete passivity distinguishes it from similar approaches'--a laser microphone can pick up audio from the vibrations on a window pane. But defenders can potentially spot the attack using smoke or vapor'--particularly if they know the likely frequency ranges an attacker might use.
Glowworm requires no unexpected signal leakage or intrusion even while actively in use, unlike "The Thing." The Thing was a Soviet gift to the US Ambassador in Moscow, which both required "illumination" and broadcast a clear signal while illuminated. It was a carved wooden copy of the US Great Seal, and it contained a resonator that, if lit up with a radio signal at a certain frequency ("illuminating" it), would then broadcast a clear audio signal via radio. The actual device was completely passive; it worked a lot like modern RFID chips (the things that squawk when you leave the electronics store with purchases the clerk forgot to mark as purchased).
Accidental defenseDespite Glowworm's ability to spy on targets without revealing itself, it's not something most people will need to worry much about. Unlike the listening devices we mentioned in the section above, Glowworm doesn't interact with actual audio at all'--only with a side effect of electronic devices that produce audio.
This means that, for example, a Glowworm attack used successfully to spy on a conference call would not capture the audio of those actually in the room'--only of the remote participants whose voices are played over the conference room audio system.
The need for a clean line of sight is another issue that means that most targets will be defended from Glowworm entirely by accident. Getting a clean line of sight to a windowpane for a laser microphone is one thing'--but getting a clean line of sight to the power LEDs on a computer speaker is another entirely.
Humans generally prefer to face windows themselves for the view and have the LEDs on devices face them. This leaves the LEDs obscured from a potential Glowworm attack. Defenses against simple lip-reading'--like curtains or drapes'--are also effective hedges against Glowworm, even if the targets don't actually know Glowworm might be a problem.
Finally, there's currently no real risk of a Glowworm "replay" attack using video that includes shots of vulnerable LEDs. A close-range, 4k at 60 fps video might just barely capture the drop in a dubstep banger'--but it won't usefully recover human speech, which centers between 85Hz-255Hz for vowel sounds and 2KHz-4KHz for consonants.
Turning out the lightsAlthough Glowworm is practically limited by its need for clear line of sight to the LEDs, it works at significant distance. The researchers recovered intelligible audio at 35 meters'--and in the case of adjoining office buildings with mostly glass facades, it would be quite difficult to detect.
For potential targets, the simplest fix is very simple indeed'--just make sure that none of your devices has a window-facing LED. Particularly paranoid defenders can also mitigate the attack by placing opaque tape over any LED indicators that might be influenced by audio playback.
On the manufacturer's side, defeating Glowworm leakage would also be relatively uncomplicated'--rather than directly coupling a device's LEDs to the power line, the LED might be coupled via an opamp or GPIO port of an integrated microcontroller. Alternatively (and perhaps more cheaply), relatively low-powered devices could damp power supply fluctuations by connecting a capacitor in parallel to the LED, acting as a low-pass filter.
For those interested in further details of both Glowworm and its effective mitigation, we recommend visiting the researchers' website, which includes a link to the full 16-page white paper.
TheRebelTheGOAT on Twitter: "Mike Lindell c.s.are hosting a Cyber Security Elections Symposium from 10-12 August(live and rerun for diff timezones)w/data supposed to basically proof the voting machines were hacked by the CCP @langefrans @adamcurry @robert
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 16:20
TheRebelTheGOAT : Mike Lindell c.s.are hosting a Cyber Security Elections Symposium from 10-12 August(live and rerun for diff timezon'... https://t.co/CxfTORSkGq
Tue Aug 10 14:12:28 +0000 2021
Apple will reject demands to use CSAM system for surveillance
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 21:15
Published Mon, Aug 9 2021 3:13 PM EDTUpdated 2 Hours Ago
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Apple defended its new system to scan iCloud for illegal child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) on Monday.Apple reiterated that its tech is more private than the systems companies like Google and Microsoft have used for years to eliminate illegal child abuse images on its servers.Apple said in a document posted to its website on Sunday night that governments cannot force Apple to add non-CSAM images to its system, addressing one major question with the implementation.Steve Proehl | Corbis Unreleased | Getty Images
Apple defended its new system to scan iCloud for illegal child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) on Monday during an ongoing controversy over whether the system reduces Apple user privacy and could be used by governments to surveil citizens.
Last week, Apple announced it has started testing a system that uses sophisticated cryptography to identify when users upload collections of known child pornography to its cloud storage service. It says it can do this without learning about the contents of a user's photos stored on its servers.
Apple reiterated on Monday that its system is more private than those used by companies like Google and Microsoft because its system uses both its servers and software running on iPhones.
Privacy advocates and technology commentators are worried Apple's new system, which includes software that will be installed on people's iPhones through an iOS update, could be expanded in some countries through new laws to check for other types of images, like photos with political content, instead of just child pornography.
Apple said in a document posted to its website on Sunday governments cannot force it to add non-CSAM images to a hash list, or the file of numbers that correspond to known child abuse images Apple will distribute to iPhones to enable the system.
"Apple will refuse any such demands. Apple's CSAM detection capability is built solely to detect known CSAM images stored in iCloud Photos that have been identified by experts at NCMEC and other child safety groups," Apple said in the document. "We have faced demands to build and deploy government-mandated changes that degrade the privacy of users before, and have steadfastly refused those demands. We will continue to refuse them in the future."
It continued: "Let us be clear, this technology is limited to detecting CSAM stored in iCloud and we will not accede to any government's request to expand it."
Some cryptographers are worried about what could happen if a country like China were to pass a law saying the system has to also include politically sensitive images. Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously said that the company follows laws in every country where it conducts business.
Companies in the U.S. are required to report CSAM to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and face fines up to $300,000 when they discover illegal images and don't report them.
A reputation for privacyApple's reputation for defending privacy has been cultivated for years through its actions and marketing. In 2016, Apple faced off against the FBI in court to protect the integrity of its on-device encryption systems in the investigation of a mass shooter.
But Apple has also faced significant pressure from law enforcement officials about the possibility of criminals "going dark," or using privacy tools and encryption to prevent messages or other information from being within the reach of law enforcement.
The controversy over Apple's new system, and whether it's surveilling users, threatens Apple's public reputation for building secure and private devices, which the company has used to break into new markets in personal finance and healthcare.
Critics are concerned the system will partially operate on an iPhone, instead of only scanning photos that have been uploaded to the company's servers. Apple's competitors typically only scan photos stored on their servers.
"It's truly disappointing that Apple got so hung up on its particular vision of privacy that it ended up betraying the fulcrum of user control: being able to trust that your device is truly yours," technology commentator Ben Thompson wrote in a newsletter on Monday.
Apple continues to defend its systems as a genuine improvement that protects children and will reduce the amount of CSAM being created while still protecting iPhone user privacy.
Apple said its system is significantly stronger and more private than previous systems by every privacy metric the company tracks and that it went out of its way to build a better system to detect these illegal images.
Unlike current systems, which run in the cloud and can't be inspected by security researchers, Apple's system can be inspected through its distribution in iOS, an Apple representative said. By moving some processing onto the user's device, the company can derive stronger privacy properties, such as the ability to find CSAM matches without running software on Apple servers that check every single photo.
Apple said on Monday its system doesn't scan private photo libraries that haven't been uploaded to iCloud.
Apple also confirmed it will process photos that have already been uploaded to iCloud. The changes will roll out through an iPhone update later this year, after which users will be alerted that Apple is beginning to check photos stores on iCloud against a list of fingerprints that correspond to known CSAM, Apple said.
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5 Takeaways From the U.N. Climate Report - The New York Times
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 21:13
Climate | 5 takeaways from the major new U.N. climate report. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/09/climate/un-climate-report-takeaways.html The burning of fossil fuels is behind rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Credit... Kacper Pempel/Reuters Aug. 9, 2021 Updated 2:54 p.m. ET On Monday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific body convened by the United Nations, released a major new report concluding that the world cannot avoid some devastating impacts of climate change, but that there is still a narrow window to keep the devastation from getting even worse.
The report, based on the analysis of more than 14,000 studies, is the clearest and most comprehensive summary yet of the physical science of climate change. It lays out what the climate was like in the past, what it's like now and what it will be like for decades to come. And it shows how humans can affect future climate through actions they take '-- or don't take '-- now to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
Here are five takeaways from the report:
Human influence has unequivocally warmed the planet. This report is the sixth assessment of climate science by the U.N. group, and unlike previous reports, this one dispenses with any doubt about who or what is responsible for global warming. ''It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,'' the report says in its very first finding.
Observed increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1750 can be directly tied to human activity, largely the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels as the world became industrialized. Those emissions have increased greatly over time and continue today, as the world grows even warmer. And the impacts are being felt in every region of the world.
Climate science is getting better and more precise. One of the reasons the report can conclude without a doubt that humans are responsible for global warming is that climate research has greatly improved, even in the eight years since the previous U.N. report was released.
There is much more observational data '-- temperature measurements and other data from instruments on land, in the oceans and in space '-- that reduce uncertainty as to what is occurring. The improvement is especially noticeable in some less affluent parts of the world that historically had little capacity for collecting climate data.
Computer models that simulate the climate have also greatly improved, and there is more computer power to run these simulations faster so that they can be repeated over and over. These improvements, plus the ability to plug more and better data into the models, give scientists more confidence that their models are correctly forecasting future climate.
In the last decade great strides have been made in attribution research, which seeks to examine possible links between climate change and specific extreme events like heat waves and heavy rains. Research teams can now quickly analyze an event and determine whether warming made it more or less likely to have occurred, adding to overall confidence in the nature of climate change.
We are locked into 30 years of worsening climate impacts no matter what the world does. The world has already warmed about 1.1 degree Celsius (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 19th century. The report concludes that humans have put so much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that this warming will continue at least until the middle of the century, even if nations take immediate steps today to sharply cut emissions.
That means some of the noticeable effects the world is seeing now '-- like extreme droughts, severe heat waves and catastrophic downpours and flooding '-- will continue to worsen for at least the next 30 years.
Some other impacts will continue for far longer. The enormous ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica will continue to melt at least through the end of the century. Global sea level will continue to rise for at least 2,000 years.
Image An iceberg off the coast of Greenland. Credit... Jonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Climate changes are happening rapidly. The report found that the some of the changes are greater than they've ever been compared with previous periods of time ranging from centuries to many millenniums.
Concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for example, is greater than at any time in the past two million years. The extent of late-summer sea ice in the Arctic is lower than it's been any time in the past 1,000 years.
But the report also found that changes are happening more quickly now than even in the much more recent past. The rate of sea level rise has roughly doubled since 2006. Each of the past four decades have been successively warmer than the previous one. Heat waves on land have become significantly hotter since 1950 and marine heat waves '-- bursts of extreme heat in the ocean that can kill marine life '-- have doubled in frequency in the past four decades.
There is still a window in which humans can alter the climate path. The report laid out five climate futures, in which humans take varying steps to reduce the emissions that cause warming. Under all of them, the world will reach 1.5 degrees '-- the more ambitious of the targets set by the Paris climate change agreement in 2015 '-- by 2040 or sooner.
Under most of the scenarios discussed in the report, warming will continue well beyond 2040, through the remainder of the century. In the worst cases, where the world does little to reduce emissions, temperatures by 2100 could be 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5.5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. That would have catastrophic consequences.
But the report shows that aggressive, rapid and widespread emissions cuts, beginning now, could limit the warming beyond 2050. In the most optimistic scenario, reaching ''net zero'' emissions could even bring warming back slightly under 1.5 degrees Celsius in the second half of the century.
Such a scenario would be a mammoth and expensive undertaking for the world. It would also require a level of political will that most governments have so far been unable to muster.
Doctors in the US have been told they will lose their license if they say anything negative about the Covid-19 injections '' Daily Expose
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 18:50
Breaking NewsWhen doctors receive their medical license, they must pronounce their intellectual devotion and allegiance to the vaccine industry and its myriad of false narratives. Any healthcare professional who dares question ''the science'' risks losing their medical license. Any doctor who speaks out-of-line against forceful vaccine propaganda could be stripped of their title; their career destroyed; their reputation smeared.
On July 29th, 2021, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) in the US warned all healthcare professionals that they could lose their medical license if they create or spread what is deemed to be Covid-19 vaccine ''misinformation''.
The FSMB represents every medical board across the United States and will now use their authority to gag doctors and control their practice. When the organisation spots what it deems to be ''Covid-19 vaccine misinformation'' in interviews, medical literature, recorded discussions or social media posts, they will punish the doctor and refer them for disciplinary action with their respective state medical board.
If a doctor divulges the risks of the vaccines, and the benefits of natural immunity, he could be targeted by the FSMB. If a doctor provides informed consent, immune system solutions or treatment paths, his medical license could be suspended or revoked.
Doctors will no longer be allowed to say anything that could ''sow distrust'' about the Covid-19 injections, and they won't be allowed to collect their own data, share information with other doctors, make observations, or draw their own conclusions. They will also no longer be allowed to speak out in interviews with the media, unless the interview promotes vaccines.
Doctors will no longer be allowed to speak about the medical issues caused by the vaccines, and will inevitably file fewer vaccine injury reports. The US reporting system has been flooded with vaccine injury reports in 2021, with hundreds of thousands of serious injuries and tens of thousands of wrongful death reports due to the experimental Covid-19 injections.
Healthcare professionals will no longer be allowed to speak up on social media, in their private medical practice, or on their own personal website. Even Dr. Joseph Mercola, has submitted to the threat and stated he will remove 25 years of research from his website, and delete any new work within 48 hours.
Dr MercolaThe FSMB asserts that physicians who generate and spread Covid-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.
''Due to their specialised knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore have a powerful platform in society, whether they recognise it or not.''
''They also have an ethical and professional responsibility to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients and must share information that is factual, scientifically grounded and consensus-driven for the betterment of public health.''
The FSMB is now just another enforcement arm of the vaccine industry, controlling the speech of doctors and determining what the facts are. In this way, the vaccine industry treats doctors as unintelligible puppets who must spout out fraudulent narratives about immunity and health.
This subservience to the vaccine industry is exacerbated by a federal government that claims ''Covid-19 vaccine misinformation is killing people.'' The federal government has now admitted that they and the Surgeon General work with social media platforms to eliminate information that contradicts the narrative they are attempting to push.
In truth, health care professionals are being threatened to abandon their conscience and their medical ethics. Basic medical principles such as informed consent are now considered ''Covid-19 vaccine misinformation'', if that information leads a patient to decide that a vaccine is not right for them.
The FSMB is now violating the Nuremberg Code, disregarding the science of natural immunity and using censorship to coerce and intimidate countless people to comply with what has become a medical tyranny.
Categories: Breaking News, Did You Know?, Latest News, World News
Modern software development is cancer
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 16:29
Modern software development is cancer
Updated: March 17, 2017
Wait. Before you say clickbait, let's focus on the definition of cancer. It is a group of diseases involvingabnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Now, let's replacediseases and cell growth with words like software and industry.
In the past 15 years or so, ever since the first software bubble was burst and developers realized they neededa new way of making easy money, there's been an alarming and unchecked trend in the growth of softwarelanguages and development disciplines, all designed to support and sustain themselves. A living organism withunprecedented spread. Cancer.
How this article was born While testing Fedora 25, I had my first taste of Wayland, and it was when I visited the official page and read themanifesto that it dawned on me. Here we had a new framework, created to make it easier for those developing itto develop it. What. Previously, a very much similar platter of emotions erupted in my being while fiddlingwith systemd and trying tosolve problems that were created by, guess, systemd, a complicated pile of code with no other purpose otherthan to be a complicated pile of code that no one can debug, but it is more enjoyable for those who likewriting Python to write Python or some similar nonsense.
Firefox, the same thing. We have a browser that is doing everything to make itself into a different browser.And now, it is changing its very fiber, the extensions mechanism, so that we get a new framework of extensionsthat is completely incompatible with the old one, plus it's going to alienate all the existing users. Oh yes,users. Supposedly the target audience who should benefit from all these software games. No, not anymore.
Windows 10, Linux Mint 18.1Serena, more triggers for my battered, weary soul. New stuff that is coming out to replace old stuff,except it's crippled, it takes a bunch of years to reach the level of maturity of the old software, and thenit's axed again, a new crippled version is released, and the cycle begins again. The list is endless.
Somewhere in the past 15 years, it all went wrong.
Why this is horrible The purpose of technology, software included, is to make lives easier, more productive, safer, more enjoyable.A means to an end, not the end. Anything we use is there to help us satisfy primal needs.
For instance, a browser is a portal unto knowledge and entertainment. This piece of software is designed to getus to webpages quickly and efficiently, display them correctly, and also prevent unwarranted installation ofnew software on our systems. That's all. Nothing more. But no. If you look across the board, this is not whatyou get. Sure, there's a strong commercial element, of course, but most of it stems from the fact that browsersrequire strong development and would-be new features that no one truly wants.
This is a classic case of an organism that needs to feed so it can get better so it can feed some more. But ifyou think carefully, browsers do not need half the features they have, and they have been added and developedonly because people who write software want to make sure they have a job security and extra control.
Wayland, same story. And the argument for its existence is meaningless. On the server side, 99% of the time youdon't need the graphical environment at all, so this has nothing to do with the vast industry out there. In thehome setup, the old framework was doing well, and from the user perspective, things were just fine. Normalpeople don't know or care what powers their box. And that's a sign of an excellent product. It's transparent.
Now though, we have Wayland - and Mir - and for years, we will be in a state of beta limbo until developersfinish playing, if ever, after which they will find another excuse to create another framework and start again,treating the entire world as one big sandbox for their own amusement and profit. Or maybe just amusement. Afterall, when writing code is your passion, your job and your goal, you don't ever really finish, do you.
The same can be said of the init systems in Linux, like systemd. In a nutshell, the system should start quicklyand get into a working session. We had this in 2010 or so, with boot times down to mere 10 seconds using init. No flaws, nobugs. Even in the commercial sphere, working with init, I do not recall any major problems.
Then, suddenly, we have this new binary diarrhea with a hundred million modules, and for the past five years,this unstable, half-baked, undebuggable nonsense is the backbone of most Linux distros. The invasive andpervasive nature of the systemd framework has also affected the stability of the user space, the very thing itshould never have touched, and pretty much all problems with the quality of the Linux desktop nicely coincidewith the introduction of systemd. The development continues, of course, and for no good reason than trying toreach the level of stability, maturity and functionality that we had half a decade ago. Someone landedthemselves a lot of monthly pay checks by writing complex code to solve a problem that did not exist.
More components than the kernel itself, and then some.
And this trend is prevalent across the industry. All the new software frameworks are horribly complex. All theorchestration mechanisms are a garbage fest of functions and buzzwords, without any focus on the end mission.You start with something like containers, but they are so complex, they need a governor. So you end up with anabstraction mechanism, but the network layer sucks, or it is immature. So someone else develops asoftware-based virtual network framework. Then, three more companies create their own orchestration tools, andthere's too much fragmentation. This calls for a new framework that will manage all these others. All becausethe initial implementation is lousy. This is a classic case of parasitic behavior. In fact, modern softwaredevelopment can be summed thusly:
Let's solve a problem that does not exist.
Buzzwords & Bullshit Like Sense & Sensibility, only better. Of course, this whole dot-com - or should I say dot-io - softwaremania is so profitable that everyone jumped the bandwagon, it's a bullet train now traveling at 1,450 km/h, andeveryone is clinging dearly and fiercely, lest their profits perish. This has also led to a tide of moronsflocking to the software world, and now they have specialwords and phrases to impress other morons into buying into this digital religion.
The most special word used by morons. Rather than releasing software once a year or so, companies now have arapid release cycle, and they supposedly adhere to this agile model, to distinguish themselves from thewould-be legacy dinosaurs. This leads to a quick increment in versions numbers and much reduced quality.
But that's the thing - having lots of versions creates an impression of ACTIVITY, and this is exactly like theMinistry for Administrative Affairs in Yes, Minister, Season 2, Episode 1, The Compassionate Society, ahospital with no patients but tons of administrative staff. Time index 17 minutes 54 seconds. Pure gold:
Of course, the agile model does not really work for 90% of companies, because they think it's about speed. Theyforget the fine details like assigning their best people to work on these products, the need forself-discipline, a high level of autonomy, and of course, being able to create software products withreasonable milestones. But as long as they are agile, they are untouchable. Because they are agile. Agile, youhear!
Someone thought it would be good to reign in the code monkeys and stop them from making the operationsunbearable. Basically, version control and configuration management, with system administrators in charge ofthe servers. Except they spend all of their time writing code and debugging it rather than administeringservers. A beautiful paradox.
A synonym for Agile + DevOps. If you hear someone say this, ask them if they use TDD and then tell them youprefer OpenTTD and laugh (or unplug one of their seven monitors).
Glorified CSV files because someone did not like XML.
The favorite buzzword used by management to describe something they have no idea what it does and how it works.But it supposed to mean - you are an idiot, you cannot code, here, use this line here, and when it runs, itwill retrieve something from a server somewhere. In other words, quite often, HTML commands encapsulated inbullshit.
Someone wrote shitty code, so someone wrote more code to manage shitty code in a less shitty way. An excellentway of making huge money. The most profitable way of being perceived as savvy, especially in the cloud space.
Internet of Things (IoT)
This is the most genius invention EVAR. Basically, you embed a tiny Web server into everything (most likelyLinux), and then you use "API" to connect to it, so you can control things digitally. The wisdom of thisconcept is that it will feed the entire post-2000 bubble for another 20-30 years at least, so we need not faceanother revolution just yet. The IoT reality will create jobs for roughly a hundred million developers in thenext few decades and bring in shitloads of cash to those who do it right.
Software developers must not touch product There's your root of the problem. When you get people with absolute zero social and marketing skills tell theworld what the end product should be like. When you let software developers define the final state, your worldlooks like one big debugger session. This is so stupid and pointless that watching reality TV feels like inventing calculus.
This is why you have a hundred pointless programming languages out there, which serve no higher purpose than tomake whoever is writing a piece of software somewhere feel more comfortable in their chair. The user is anuisance, and usage patterns are invented to justify software decisions.
A great example is the tabs-on-top shit. This goes against basichuman thinking, reading logic, and of course, UI hierarchy, but when you get Star Wars fans dictating howthings should look, this is what you end up with.
If anything, software products - good software products - should be designed by people who have no formalcompute science education, perhaps even no tech skills. You want them to focus on human needs and how peopleinteract with things. Not through the eyes of a cook, who sees buttons and fields and forms as ingredients totheir next pay check, but through the eyes of a human who seeks to solve a problem and satisfy a primal need.
Instead, more and more companies are losing control of their products by letting their developers go public.The reason is, Google and Microsoft and Facebook were created by nerds, so everyone thinks that if they putsomeone high on the spectrum in front of a camera or perhaps let them design software that they will end upbeing this multi-billion-dollar conglomerate. Except that's not how it works.
Essentially, people who write code are just glorified digital welders. They need to connect bits and pieces oftext written in an arcane way so that they do something useful and noble. When you let software methodologybecome your modus operandi, bad things happen. Let's go back to Firefox, and then we shall talk some more aboutLinux, both of which are dear to me.
Firefox is a browser. A portal of information and entertainment. Sometime in 2011, Mozilla decided to changeFirefox to be more like Chrome. Guess what? In 2017, Firefox has about 50% less market share than it did in2011. Because why go for a clone when you can have the original?
Furthermore, in these six years, Mozilla introduced software-driven changes, like tabs-on-top crap (each tab isa separate process supposedly, who gives a shit), rapid release cycles, several pointless features that serve no human need, and now they are also going tochange the extensions mechanism for a new one, again because the OLD ONE IS TOO COMPLEX AND DIFFICULT TO CODEOR SOMETHING.
Image courtesy, memegenerator.net, DreamWorks SKG.
Rather than forcing their special snowflakes to work hard and create a SEAMLESS product, they will do exactlythe opposite. They will destroy the old framework, put in place a new and undefined one, 99% of all extensionswill die, and even more people will abandon the browser, because add-ons are the chief reason why people stickwith Firefox. This is so obvious, but not when you pleasure yourself to GOLANG.
What should have been done - whip the developers into submission, force them to create a backward-compatibleframework that supports everything, and make backend changes that do not affect the user in any way. That's howproduct-driven development is done. Instead, you have developers talking about WebExtensions - notice thestupid naming convention - and API and hashtag, and we have a new lowercase logo, we're cool and modern. Didyou read about the new Mozilla logo?
Look at reasons for the change - a nod to URL language. What? If I had asked my granddad about URL language, hewould haven given me a brick and sent me to play in the minefield, but not before hitting me on the headwith it for talking nonsense.
Back to WebExtensions, you have developers talking crap on how this will be done. No. I don't want to readtechnobabble. I don't care. What I do care is that when I launch my browser, my PRIMAL NEEDS are satisfied. Ifa code change disrupts my usage model, it's shitty code. I don't care if someone needs to spend 100 years in abasement fixing this, it's not my problem. P.S. If you're wondering, what will happen is, Firefox will loseeven more market share, because once extensions stop working, there will be even less incentive for loyal usersto stay with a browser that is trying to ape Chrome.
Linux. Ah well. What is there to say about Linux. Everything. Same functionality, 10 different programs. 10different forks and spoons, created so someone can write code when they feel like it. New audio and videoframeworks that are bloated and complex and self-serving. More bugs, more crashes, reduced performance, reducedbattery life. That's the end result of software-driven development. Because for developers, this is a lovelyand colorful playground. This is what they breathe and live. For end users, it's a nightmare designed byamateurs.
PulseAudio? Is my sound any better? No. Shit. Wayland? Are my graphics any better? No. Shit. Systemd? Is mysystem more stable and/or boots faster? No. Shit. And the list goes on and on and on and on.
Windows 10. Half-baked releases. I didn't pay money for a half-baked crap you will complete in 2 years. I don'tneed a system settings menu that will be equivalent to the ControlPanel in 6 months when I had the perfectly sane and functional Control Panel in Windows 7/8 years ago.
This whole thing of releasing lots of small things often may impress cretins with their double-digit IQ, but at the end of the day, if we ignore all the glamor and drama of shiny open-space offices, pool tables, free soda, and other hi-tech crap, nothing fundamental changes except more misery and complication for end users, who have no choice.
Luckily, it's so easy to placate cretins - just give them shiny things that make it easier to watch videos,both the SFW and NSFW flavors, and swipable screens full of big icons the likes of which they use in the filmIdiocracy. That's why this software-driven nonsense can survive.
Basic needs In the end, we need to go to basic needs. And then, realize how everything is very simple. Why did smartphonessucceed? Because they allowed a common person to do the same things they did on the PC cheaper and faster. Nothigh-end stuff that we geeks love, but the ordinary mail/pr0n/music activities of the average user. Why didtablets not succeed? Because they tried to fulfill the roles of a laptop and smartphone at the same time andnever quite nailed it.
For that matter, netbooks fall into the same category, as I've already explained in my article on the future of computing, and where I also mentioned the high-end PC going strong. Whichthey are, once again, because people need power. In that same article, I also talked about Firefox not dying ordeclining or whatever - this was just before they completely changed their focus and approach and ruined it.Basic needs.
And when you look at the world of technology through these lenses, you realize that software is irrelevant.Linux desktop is meaningless but Android is the king of the mobile. Microsoft rules the desktop and yet itstruggles on the phone. So it's not software. It's the usage model. It's what sort of basic needs they cansatisfy.
So if you ever wonder why software developers should not be allowed to do anything more than just write code,look at successful products and try to figure out what the common denominator is in terms of underlying code.There isn't any. Software is entirely replaceable, and must be completely transparent.
That's your one measurement of success of good code. Take any product, say a Linux desktop. Then take one froma year ago. Can you still do the same things and workloads, or do you need to ask yourselves things like whichdistro, version, kernel, environment, library, or such? No, since you cannot decouple code from the usagemodel, you know it's pointless and it needs to be deleted. This is true for pretty much any major product andframework that's come out in Linux in the past five years.
It's not about the age of the software and how suitable it is to the modern era, either. Most of the criticalstuff runs on operating systems designed decades ago still being written in programming languages from the 70s.It's just the whole IoT nonsense where all the fuss is. The useless stuff really.
It's not about making it easier for developers - because you may naively think they will then have more time tofix user problems. No. Because if their code is problematic, they can just not do it in the first place andsave all the time there is. Once they 'nail' it with one half-polished product, they will get bored and startworking on another beta project. A living organism needs to sustain itself and grow, remember? And when thegrowth is uncontrolled, well.
Conclusion Kids fresh out of university - or college - may be impressed by this brave new world of chaos and programminglanguages, but at the end of the day, it's about the user. If you go to a carpenter and ask for a piece offurniture, they should build it for you. The analogy for software development is, they will convince you that abed is better than a chair, and how it is easier for the code people to build and support a chair. That doesnot fly.
Every day, I spend hours sitting in front of a computer, doing all sorts of things. A non-insignificant portionof my precious time is spent fretting, wondering when my browser, office suite, desktop environment, or eventhe operating system itself will suddenly stop working, because some software developer decided they are bored.I don't know if people in the olden age felt this way with their trains, radios, coaches, or whatever, but Idoubt it. This Year 2000 kindergarten bullshit needs to stop. Once software development fades into the quietbackground it deserves, and companies re-focus on the user, we will see an upsurge in creativity, quality, andfun.
When I go to a restaurant, I don't want to know what the staff is doing with my food. I'm paying for theservice and ignorance. And I expect the same from software. I'm paying, I'm the boss. It's time the softwareindustry started serving its boss, the user.
Radio-icoon Frits Spits gaat nachtprogramma maken
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 16:27
Home Nieuws Radio-icoon Frits Spits gaat nachtprogramma makenFrits Spits presenteert vanaf vandaag een nieuw nachtprogramma, De slapelozen, om 2 uur 's nachts.
In vijf opeenvolgende zomernachten gaat Spits nachtbrakers wakker houden met muziek en gesprekken.
Twee jaar geleden werd Frits Spits door de Spreekbuis.nl #RADIO100 verkozen tot (C)(C)n van de belangrijkste radiomaker van de eeuw.
IPCC: Humans to blame for climate change
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 16:27
Summary The massive UN report finds abatement measures can work, but the damage is already unprecedented.
by: Daniel GraeberA damning report released August 9 by a UN climate body IPCC finds limiting greenhouse gas emissions could help curb the impact of ''human-induced global warming.''''It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,'' the report read. &ldqu...
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Physical activity and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 related mortality in South Korea: a nationwide cohort study - PubMed
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 15:46
. 2021 Jul 22;bjsports-2021-104203. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104203. Online ahead of print. Seung Won Lee 1 , Jinhee Lee 2 , Sung Yong Moon 3 , Hyun Young Jin 3 , Jee Myung Yang 4 , Shuji Ogino 5 6 , Mingyang Song 5 , Sung Hwi Hong 7 , Ramy Abou Ghayda 8 , Andreas Kronbichler 9 , Ai Koyanagi 10 11 , Louis Jacob 10 12 13 , Elena Dragioti 14 , Lee Smith 15 , Edward Giovannucci 5 16 17 , I-Min Lee 5 18 , Dong Hoon Lee 17 , Keum Hwa Lee 19 , Youn Ho Shin 20 , So Young Kim 21 , Min Seo Kim 22 , Hong-Hee Won 22 , Ulf Ekelund 23 24 , Jae Il Shin 25 , Dong Keon Yon 26 Affiliations
Affiliations 1 Department of Data Science, Sejong University College of Software Convergence, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of) yonkkang@gmail.com lsw2920@gmail.com shinji@yuhs.ac. 2 Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea (the Republic of). 3 Department of Data Science, Sejong University College of Software Convergence, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 4 Department of Ophthalmology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 5 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 6 Program in MPE Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 7 Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 8 Urology Institute, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. 9 Deparment of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. 10 Research and Development Unit, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Deu, CIBERSAM, Barcelona, Spain. 11 Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Pg. Lluis Companys, Barcelona, Spain. 12 Centro de Investigaci"n Biom(C)dica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), Madrid, Spain. 13 Faculty of Medicine, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France. 14 Pain and Rehabilitation Centre and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Link¶ping University, Linkoping, Sweden. 15 The Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK. 16 Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 17 Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 18 Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 19 Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 20 Department of Pediatrics, CHA Gangnam Medical Center, CHA University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 21 Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University School of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea (the Republic of). 22 Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Sciences and Technology (SAIHST), Sungkyunkwan University, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 23 Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo, Norway. 24 Department of Chronic Diseases and Ageing, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. 25 Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of) yonkkang@gmail.com lsw2920@gmail.com shinji@yuhs.ac. 26 Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of) yonkkang@gmail.com lsw2920@gmail.com shinji@yuhs.ac. PMID: 34301715 PMCID: PMC8300550 DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104203 Free PMC article Item in Clipboard
Seung Won Lee et al. Br J Sports Med . 2021 .
Free PMC article
. 2021 Jul 22;bjsports-2021-104203. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104203. Online ahead of print. Authors Seung Won Lee 1 , Jinhee Lee 2 , Sung Yong Moon 3 , Hyun Young Jin 3 , Jee Myung Yang 4 , Shuji Ogino 5 6 , Mingyang Song 5 , Sung Hwi Hong 7 , Ramy Abou Ghayda 8 , Andreas Kronbichler 9 , Ai Koyanagi 10 11 , Louis Jacob 10 12 13 , Elena Dragioti 14 , Lee Smith 15 , Edward Giovannucci 5 16 17 , I-Min Lee 5 18 , Dong Hoon Lee 17 , Keum Hwa Lee 19 , Youn Ho Shin 20 , So Young Kim 21 , Min Seo Kim 22 , Hong-Hee Won 22 , Ulf Ekelund 23 24 , Jae Il Shin 25 , Dong Keon Yon 26 Affiliations 1 Department of Data Science, Sejong University College of Software Convergence, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of) yonkkang@gmail.com lsw2920@gmail.com shinji@yuhs.ac. 2 Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine, Wonju, Korea (the Republic of). 3 Department of Data Science, Sejong University College of Software Convergence, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 4 Department of Ophthalmology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 5 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 6 Program in MPE Molecular Pathological Epidemiology, Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 7 Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 8 Urology Institute, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. 9 Deparment of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. 10 Research and Development Unit, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Deu, CIBERSAM, Barcelona, Spain. 11 Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Pg. Lluis Companys, Barcelona, Spain. 12 Centro de Investigaci"n Biom(C)dica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), Madrid, Spain. 13 Faculty of Medicine, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France. 14 Pain and Rehabilitation Centre and Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Link¶ping University, Linkoping, Sweden. 15 The Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK. 16 Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 17 Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 18 Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 19 Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 20 Department of Pediatrics, CHA Gangnam Medical Center, CHA University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 21 Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University School of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea (the Republic of). 22 Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Sciences and Technology (SAIHST), Sungkyunkwan University, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of). 23 Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo, Norway. 24 Department of Chronic Diseases and Ageing, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. 25 Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of) yonkkang@gmail.com lsw2920@gmail.com shinji@yuhs.ac. 26 Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of) yonkkang@gmail.com lsw2920@gmail.com shinji@yuhs.ac. PMID: 34301715 PMCID: PMC8300550 DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104203 Item in Clipboard
Abstract Purpose: To determine the potential associations between physical activity and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe illness from COVID-19 and COVID-19 related death using a nationwide cohort from South Korea.
Methods: Data regarding 212 768 Korean adults (age '‰¥20 years), who tested for SARS-CoV-2, from 1 January 2020 to 30 May 2020, were obtained from the National Health Insurance Service of South Korea and further linked with the national general health examination from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019 to assess physical activity levels. SARS-CoV-2 positivity, severe COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 related death were the main outcomes. The observation period was between 1 January 2020 and 31 July 2020.
Results: Out of 76 395 participants who completed the general health examination and were tested for SARS-CoV-2, 2295 (3.0%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2, 446 (0.58%) had severe illness from COVID-19 and 45 (0.059%) died from COVID-19. Adults who engaged in both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities according to the 2018 physical activity guidelines had a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection (2.6% vs 3.1%; adjusted relative risk (aRR), 0.85; 95% CI 0.72 to 0.96), severe COVID-19 illness (0.35% vs 0.66%; aRR 0.42; 95% CI 0.19 to 0.91) and COVID-19 related death (0.02% vs 0.08%; aRR 0.24; 95% CI 0.05 to 0.99) than those who engaged in insufficient aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. Furthermore, the recommended range of metabolic equivalent task (MET; 500-1000 MET min/week) was associated with the maximum beneficial effect size for reduced risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection (aRR 0.78; 95% CI 0.66 to 0.92), severe COVID-19 illness (aRR 0.62; 95% CI 0.43 to 0.90) and COVID-19 related death (aRR 0.17; 95% CI 0.07 to 0.98). Similar patterns of association were observed in different sensitivity analyses.
Conclusion: Adults who engaged in the recommended levels of physical activity were associated with a decreased likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 related death. Our findings suggest that engaging in physical activity has substantial public health value and demonstrates potential benefits to combat COVID-19.
Keywords: COVID-19; physical activity.
(C) Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.
Conflict of interest statement Competing interests: None declared.
Figures Figure 1
Participant profile in all cohort.
Figure 1
Participant profile in all cohort.
Figure 1 Participant profile in all cohort.
Figure 2
Directed acyclic graph demonstrating the'...
Figure 2
Directed acyclic graph demonstrating the implicitly assumed causal association between physical activity ('exposure')'...
Figure 2 Directed acyclic graph demonstrating the implicitly assumed causal association between physical activity ('exposure') and risk of COVID-19 ('outcome') in the Korean nationwide cohort before matching. Confounders, potential mediators and exposure''outcome associations are indicated. BMI, body mass index; BP, blood pressure; CCI, Charlson comorbidity index; CVD, cardiovascular disease; GFR, glomerular filtration rate; TB, tuberculosis.
Figure 3
Association between physical activity according'...
Figure 3
Association between physical activity according to 2018 physical activity guidelines for Americans and'...
Figure 3 Association between physical activity according to 2018 physical activity guidelines for Americans and SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 related death in cohort A. (A) Association between physical activity according to MET score and SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 related death in cohort C (B) and cohort D (C). The level of physical activity was categorised into four: (1) inactive (0 MET min/week), (2) insufficiently active (0''
References Lee SW, Yang JM, Yoo IK, et al. . Proton pump inhibitors and the risk of severe COVID-19: a post-hoc analysis from the Korean nationwide cohort. Gut 2020. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2020-323672. [Epub ahead of print: 10 Dec 2020]. - DOI - PubMed Lee SW, Yang JM, Moon SY, et al. . Association between mental illness and COVID-19 susceptibility and clinical outcomes in South Korea: a nationwide cohort study. Lancet Psychiatry 2020;7:1025''31.10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30421-1 - DOI - PMC - PubMed Lee SW, Ha EK, Yeniova Abdullah –zg¼r, et al. . Severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 associated with proton pump inhibitors: a nationwide cohort study with propensity score matching. Gut 2021;70:76''84.10.1136/gutjnl-2020-322248 - DOI - PubMed Haas EJ, Angulo FJ, McLaughlin JM, et al. . Impact and effectiveness of mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, and deaths following a nationwide vaccination campaign in Israel: an observational study using national surveillance data. Lancet 2021;397:1819''29.10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00947-8 - DOI - PMC - PubMed Yang JM, Koh HY, Moon SY, et al. . Allergic disorders and susceptibility to and severity of COVID-19: A nationwide cohort study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2020;146:790''8.10.1016/j.jaci.2020.08.008 - DOI - PMC - PubMed
Vaccine sceptic, 46, dies of Covid after warning 'anyone with similar thoughts' to get jab | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 15:36
Removal firm boss Brian Lynch, 46, warned others to get the vaccine from his intensive care bed just before dying from Covid-19
A vaccine sceptic who warned others from his intensive care bed not to delay getting the jab like him has died from coronavirus.
Removal firm boss Brian Lynch, 46, said he was not an anti-vaxxer, but wanted more long-term scientific data before getting the jab.
He was admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital on July 7 and spent weeks in intensive care, during which he vowed to friends he would get the vaccine if he recovered.
In a Facebook post from his ICU bed Mr Lynch said he felt 'the most frightened he had ever been' and admitted he 'thought it was the vulnerable and the elderly who got hospitalised'.
But Mr Lynch, of Blackburn, Lancashire, was later placed in a medically-induced coma and died with his family and wife Gina by his side on July 31.
Mr Lynch's death is the latest in a series of vaccine sceptics and anti-vaxxers who have died after refusing to receive the jab this year.
His death also comes as:
Coronavirus cases increased in the UK for the third time in a row with Department of Health bosses declaring a further 27,429 infections; The number of people dying with Covid decreased to 39 today - a decrease of 40 per cent; Figures showed 130,320 people who have tested positive have now lost their life to the virus since the start of the pandemic; Scientists claimed Britain will not need another lockdown to stop a third Covid wave;SAGE member Professor Neil Ferguson said he now believes the pandemic is something the UK will be able to manage with vaccines rather than 'crisis measures'.Close family friend Nicky Ashton had organised a pub fundraiser prior to the tragedy to support Mr Lynch ahead of his return home, and the event went ahead as planned on August 1.
Devastated Nicky said: 'Brian would have wanted the day to go ahead.
'We filled the pub inside and out - the day turned into a celebration full of love, tears and lots of talk and fond memories of Brian.
'Most of Blackburn followed his story over the three weeks that Brian was in a coma and almost everyone you spoke to knew of his fight.
'He really was one of the best people who would help anyone out and he will be missed so much .'
In a Facebook post on July 7, Mr Lynch explained how he 'wasn't feeling well' so decided to take a PCR test, 'despite what I think about testing and Covid vaccines.'
His wife, Gina Lynch, also contracted Covid-19 at the same time and was able to recover from her mild illness at home.
He wrote: 'I sent off for a PCR test more in the interests of my family, friends and business customers. It came back positive.
'I'll be honest, I thought it was the vulnerable and the elderly who got hospitalised.
Brian Lynch, who wanted to wait for more data before getting the vaccine, pictured before he fell ill with Covid-19
Mr Lynch was admitted to The Royal Blackburn Hospital, Lancashire and died after weeks of being treated on the intensive care unit
Mr Lynch said he felt 'the most frightened he had ever been' and admitted he 'thought it was the vulnerable and the elderly who got hospitalised'
'Well, as I found out the hard way, my oxygen levels went down to 52 per cent and I could not get my breath.
'It's the most frightened I've ever been and I felt like I was being suffocated in my own body.
'I'm now on ICU in Blackburn and been on a ventilator since I arrived trying to strengthen my lungs up and get my oxygen levels back up.
'To anyone that may have similar sort of thoughts to this (as) I had, I just have to say this - I hope it doesn't get you.'
Mr Lynch went on to say that he had been put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit, and took a selfie from his hospital bed.
Mr Lynch urged others from his hospital bed to get the vaccination via his social media posts
He said he was determined to strengthen his lungs before saying 'hopefully I'll be out soon'.
A few days later on July 12 he wrote: 'Well been awake since 4.45am, woke up coughing fit again, just managed to calm down after nearly an hour.
'This Covid cough really is brutal can't wait for it to dissipate. Can't catch ya breath with it, just takes all your energy.'
Mr Lynch's funeral will now be held at Pleasington Crematorium on August 13 at 1.30pm, but Covid-19 restrictions mean seats are limited.
However, the service can be listened to from outside the crematorium and it will be live streamed at the Havelock marquee.
The procession will pass the Havelock Inn pub, where everyone will be given the opportunity to pay their respects.
People will also be encouraged to wear the colour green and let off green smoke flares, a colour synonymous with Mr Lynch.
Mr Lynch's death come just weeks after volunteer carer Glenn Barrett, 51, who is believed to have caught Covid-19 while watching England play Croatia in the Euro 2020 told nurses he wished he had been vaccinated before his death.
Mr Barrett died in the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby on July 13, 2021 after battling the virus for three weeks.
His relatives said that he had not taken the opportunity to be vaccinated but his last words to nurses and doctors before he was placed in an induced coma were 'I wish I had.'
The carer's cousin, Ken Meech, who regarded Mr Barrett as a 'big brother', later urged members of the public to get vaccinated.
He said Mr Barrett had his 'worries and reasons' for not having the jab as he had no spleen and immune system issues.
Last month, self-confessed vaccine sceptic Matthew Keenan who said 'if he could turn back time he would' after he was admitted to hospital with Covid died with the virus at the age of 34.
Mr Keenan, who was placed in an induced coma in a bid to save his life, told friends that he 'wished he had his jab' after he was hospitalised at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Dr Leanne Cheyne, a respiratory consultant at the West Yorkshire hospital, shared a photo of him in an oxygen mask and hooked up to a ventilator as he fought for his life.
Urging others to 'grab a jab', she wrote: 'Matthew has agreed for me to share his story. 34, footie coach & dad. Self-confessed vaccine skeptic until he caught Covid. If he could turn back time he would. Our sickest patients are unvaccinated and under 40. Matthew is fighting for his life.. save yours.'
Mr Keenan, who was described as the 'life of the party', shared an image of his positive Covid lateral flow test on July 2. He said that the symptoms made him feel like he had been 'hit by a truck' after suffering from a fever and feeling 'freezing and red hot'.
But it was later confirmed that Mr Keenan, who was described as the 'kindest man' by his friend Billy Brown, had died with the virus.
This month David Parker, 56, an anti-vaxxer nightclub boss also died of Covid-19 after mocking people for getting the 'experimental' vaccine and warning of a 'big pharma' conspiracy in hundreds of Facebook messages.
Mr Parker passed away at Darlington Memorial Hospital in County Durham on Monday despite having no underlying health conditions.
He had contracted the virus just weeks after condemning the vaccine and pharmaceutical companies in social media posts.
The family of Mr Parker, who spent a decade working as the manager of Club Louis in North Yorkshire, are said to now be urging everyone to get the jab.
Glenn Barrett (pictured), from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, 51, who died in the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby on July 13, 2021 after contracting Covid-19, told nurses he wished he had been vaccinated before his death
Matthew Keenan told friends that he 'wished he had his jab' after he was hospitalised at Bradford Royal Infirmary and placed in an induced coma in a bid to save his life
David Parker (pictured above), 56, contracted the virus and died at Darlington Memorial Hospital in County Durham on Monday, despite having no underlying health conditions
John Eyers, 42, had been climbing the Welsh mountains and wild camping one month before his death from Covid last week
In August, John Eyers, 42, a construction expert from Southport, Merseyside, also died of Covid-19 after refusing the vaccine.
Mr Eyers had been climbing the Welsh mountains and wild camping one month before his death last week, which came exactly four weeks after he tested positive.
His twin sister Jenny McCann from London said he was the 'fittest, healthiest person I know' and had thought he would only have a 'mild illness' if he contracted coronavirus, adding that he had a 'belief in his own immortality'.
Mrs McCann said that Mr Eyers had 'no underlying health conditions' but did also state that he had asthma.
Before going onto a ventilator in hospital, Mr Eyers told his consultant that he wished he had been vaccinated .
He died in intensive care after suffering from an infection and organ failure, leaving behind a daughter aged 19.
It comes as the latest government figures today revealed coronavirus cases have increased for the third day in a row, with Department of Health bosses declaring a further 27,429 infections, a increase of 12 per cent on last Sunday's figure of 27,429.
The number of people dying with the virus has decreased to 39 - a decrease of 40 per cent from 65 last Sunday.
Hospital admissions fell to 742 as of Tuesday, a 18.6 per cent decrease from the 912 people hospitalised in the previous week.
SAGE estimates the R rate '-- which shows how quickly the virus is spreading '-- is between 0.8 and 1.1. It means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 11 other people
The rate is lowest in the North East and Yorkshire, as well as the North West, with both areas having a rate of around 0.7 to 1
Britain's total infections have now risen up to 6,069,362, while 130,320 people who have tested positive have lost their life to the virus since the start of the pandemic.
No10's top scientists also claimed the R rate '-- which shows how quickly the coronavirus is spreading '-- has dipped below one for the first time in 12 weeks. The UK Health Security Agency said the reproduction rate is between 0.8 and 1.1. For comparison, last week's figure stood at between 1.1 and 1.4.
It comes after scientists claimed Britain will not need another lockdown to stop another Covid wave overwhelming the NHS this winter after official data showed the outbreak is shrinking.
The Office for National Statistics claimed 722,300 people were infected on any given day in the seven-day spell ending July 31 '-- the equivalent of one in 75 people. This marked a 15 per cent drop on the week before, when the toll was upwards of 850,000.
And SAGE member Professor Neil Ferguson '-- who's grim modelling led to the first lockdown '-- said he now believes the pandemic is something the UK will be able to manage with vaccines rather than 'crisis measures'.
Covid cases increase for third day in row: Infections rise 12% to 27,429 as deaths drop 40% from 65 to 39 Coronavirus cases have increased for the third day in a row with Department of Health bosses today declaring a further 27,429 infections, a increase of 12 per cent on last Sunday's figure of 27,429.
The number of people dying with the virus has decreased to 39 - a decrease of 40 per cent from 65 last Sunday.
Hospital admissions fell to 742 as of Tuesday, a 18.6 per cent decrease from the 912 people hospitalised in the previous week.
Britain's total infections have now risen up to 6,069,362, while 130,320 people who have tested positive have lost their life to the virus since the start of the pandemic.
It comes after scientists claimed Britain will not need another lockdown to stop another Covid wave overwhelming the NHS this winter after official data showed the outbreak is shrinking.
The Office for National Statistics claimed 722,300 people were infected on any given day in the seven-day spell ending July 31 '-- the equivalent of one in 75 people. This marked a 15 per cent drop on the week before, when the toll was upwards of 850,000.
And SAGE member 'Professor Lockdown' Neil Ferguson '-- who's grim modelling led to the first lockdown '-- said he now believes the pandemic is something the UK will be able to manage with vaccines rather than 'crisis measures'.
He told The Times: 'I think it's unlikely we will need a new lockdown or even social distancing measures of the type we've had so far.'
Fellow Government scientific advisor Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, agreed, saying he believes the national health service will most likely be able to cope with the numbers of cases expected in the winter.
He said: 'I suspect we won't have to [impose any more]. The pinch point has always been pressure on the NHS and though it will be awkward for the NHS, so there will be pressure, I very much doubt they won't be able to cope.'
But Boris Johnson has pressed ahead with plans to reintroduce restrictions by authorising contingency plans for 'firebreak lockdowns' should the NHS be overwhelmed cases by the end of the year.
Sources within Whitehall yesterday confirmed the government is prepared for 'local, regional or national' lockdowns in order to protect the health service from being swamped and reaching breaking point with cases.
The i reports the Prime Minister has given the green light to plans for 'firebreak lockdowns' should Covid cases cripple the NHS later this year.
Although scientists remain confident of the efficacy of Britain's vaccines, Whitehall sources say fears persist over surging flu infections, a potential NHS staffing crisis and a rise in positive infections.
The senior Downing Street source said: 'The Government believes it has got to grips with the pandemic following the vaccine rollout
'Barring a new vaccine-beating strain, fears over a rise in infections similar to that seen last autumn are actually outweighed by other issues like an NHS staffing crisis and the likely resurgence in flu infections, and other respiratory diseases.
'On top of Covid infections, these factors could tip the NHS back to the brink and force more lockdowns.'
It is understood that any subsequent lockdown would resemble the nation's four-week 'firebreak' lockdown during November 2020.
The return of draconian restrictions would likely be short and during 'school holidays and over Christmas', the source adds.
Britain's Covid outbreak is still flattening off, according to official statistics that dismissed hopes that the worst of the third wave was over.
Department of Health bosses posted another 31,808 cases on Friday, up seven per cent on the 29,622 recorded last week.
The number of victims dying with the virus - a measure which lags weeks behind infections - also increased by 35.3 per cent, jumping from 71 last week to 92.
But hospital admissions, which always turn before fatalities, continue to fall. There were 778 people hospitalised with Covid on Monday, down 16.2 per cent on the previous week.
The figures come as leading scientists warn achieving herd immunity against Covid is looking ever-increasingly impossible, with neither vaccines nor natural infections triggering 'perfect' protection.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, said immunity against SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes Covid - is likely to be short-lived.
But separate official data offered a glimmer of hope, revealing England's shrinking Covid outbreak towards the end of July was real and marked the first time cases had genuinely fallen since the third wave took off.
No10's top scientists claimed the R rate '-- which shows how quickly the coronavirus is spreading '-- has dipped below one for the first time in 12 weeks. The UK Health Security Agency said the reproduction rate is between 0.8 and 1.1. For comparison, last week's figure stood at between 1.1 and 1.4.
American Airlines - Serious Airline Delays Will Only Get Worse With Climate Change | Fintech Zoom - World Finance
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 15:17
American Airlines '' Serious Airline Delays Will Only Get Worse With Climate Change
Photo: Brandon Bell (Getty Images)
As my husband drove me to the San Antonio airport in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning, streaks of lightning dappled the sky so regularly that I thought I was still dreaming. We pulled into the departure lanes to find a startling number of people curled up outside, asleep, while the baggage check line snaked through Terminal B with an intensity I've never seen so early in the morning. Normally, you'd expect the first flight of the morning to be packed with business travelers. Instead, these were haggard families, tired couples, and disheveled folks still wearing their work clothes. I didn't think twice; with no luggage to check, I breezed through the TSA checkpoint.
It wasn't until I boarded my flight to Dallas/Fort Worth that I found out what had happened. Ours was the first flight to the Texas hub in over 14 hours. Uncharacteristic tornadoes and severe thunderstorms had wracked the northern part of the state, grounding hundreds of planes and causing hundreds of others to be diverted. People had waited in American Airlines queues for hours trying to get rebooked on a different flight, or to get a refund, or to be directed to a hotel, or to just get a coupon for a compensated snack. When we arrived in Dallas, the crews that were supposed to have been delivered on a previous flight hadn't made it, exacerbating an already difficult employee shortage. We sat our gate for a half an hour, waiting for an available gate agent to come open the door.
I've had my fair share of shitty flights and unexpected weather delays in my day, but the Dallas situation was especially concerning. Friends in the area said they lost count of how many tornadoes they either were warned about or had seen spiraling up in the clouds.
''I've never seen anything like it,'' one Dallas native said, shaking her head. ''It totally disrupted DFW.''
''Same in Houston, too,'' another Texan piped up. She'd had the misfortune of having a layover delayed there because of the weather.
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And this isn't anything new. '' Unprecedented weather '' has been the culprit of delays all year long as air travel recovers from its post-COVID slump. So, increasing numbers of severe storms in places that previously didn't see that kind of weather, or rapidly spreading wildfires, or rising seas, or extreme heat can result in your flights being cancelled more frequently than you might be used to. We're even likely to start facing more stringent weight regulations on flights because hotter weather means less dense air, which means planes need to be going faster to take off, which means we'll end up shaving weight.
Or, as Airport Technology put it:
'...The other half [of the changes to air travel], which tends to be less openly discussed, is adapting airports and the commercial aviation sector as a whole to the environmental consequences of climate change.
These impacts include a greater frequency of delayed and cancelled flights due to more severe weather conditions and changing wind patterns; damage to key airport infrastructure as a result of higher summer temperatures; and flooding of runways and taxiways from increased precipitation and the impact of sea-level rises, some degree of which looks inevitable at this point.
The article further states that it's difficult to prepare for or mitigate disaster when many of these weather patterns strike with little warning or evolve much differently than expected. And if things continue on this path, climate-related disruptions are going to be as regular a part of air travel as overpriced airport food.
American Airlines '' Serious Airline Delays Will Only Get Worse With Climate Change
Why Instagram's creatives are angry about its move to video | Instagram | The Guardian
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 14:02
Show caption Illustration by Philip Lay.
InstagramThe social media platform was once a favourite of artists and photographers, but a shift towards TikTok-type videos and shopping could leave them looking for a new home online
In late July, hobbyist photographer and self-proclaimed ''sunrise hunter'' Sam Binding conducted an experiment. After visiting Somerset Lavender Farm to catch the sun peeking over the purple blossoms, the 40-year-old from Bristol uploaded the results to both Instagram and Twitter. Two days later, he used the apps' built-in analytics tools to assess the impact of his shots. On Instagram, a total of 5,595 people saw his post '' just over half of his 11,000 followers. On Twitter, his post was seen by 5,611 people, despite the fact he has just 333 followers on the site.
This confirmed Binding's hunch that although most people believe that Instagram is a place to share photos and Twitter is a place to share words, that may no longer be the case. When it launched in 2010, Instagram courted the artistic community, inviting respected designers to be among its initial users and naming its very first filter X-Pro II, after an analogue photo-developing technique. In her 2020 book No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, technology reporter Sarah Frier documents how Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom wanted Instagram to be an outlet for artists (in a high-school essay, Systrom wrote that he liked how photography could ''inspire others to look at the world in a new way'').
Instagram head Adam Mosseri: 'The number one reason people say that they use Instagram is to be entertained.' Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Wired But Facebook bought Instagram in 2012. Systrom departed as CEO in 2018. And three weeks before Binding uploaded his lavender pics, the new head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, posted a video to his personal social media accounts. ''I want to start by saying we're no longer a photo-sharing app.''
Click on Instagram today and you will still see plenty of photos, but you'll also be confronted with a carousel of short, vertical videos (known as ''Reels'') as well as the more-than-occasional ad. In his video, Mosseri explained that ''the number one reason people say that they use Instagram in research is to be entertained'' and the app was going to ''lean into that trend'' by experimenting with video. Citing TikTok and YouTube as competition, Mosseri said Instagram would ''embrace video'' and users could expect a number of changes in the coming months.
The move has the artistic community seeing Pantone 032. Though there's no way of knowing how many artists, architects and photographers have left the app, many are at least threatening to. Liverpool photographer and musician Reuben Wu tweeted ''Ok thx bye Instagram!'' on hearing the news (at the time of writing, he and his 264,000 followers remain on the app). Sara Tasker, an Instagram and creative business coach and author of Hashtag Authentic: Finding Creativity and Building a Community on Instagram and Beyond, says her inbox was ''immediately flooded'' with creatives ''terrified that this meant they would be left behind''. The 37-year-old says video is time-consuming, has a steeper learning curve and can be a challenge for those who are self-conscious in front of the camera.
''The idea that they have to dance for their audience '' literally '' just to make sales or have their art seen is a kick in the teeth to those who have been sharing and connecting on these platforms for years,'' says Tasker, who has more than 220,000 followers on her @me_and_orla account.
Sara Tasker: 'The idea that they have to dance for their audience '' literally '' just to make sales or have their art seen is a kick in the teeth.' Photograph: @me_and_orla/Instagram Binding started sharing sunset photos on his account @sambinding around five years ago and he now sells pictures to those who message him on the site. But over the past year, Instagram has begun showing his posts to 30-50% fewer people and he's consequently made fewer sales. (In November 2020, Instagram altered its layout to highlight Reels and its Shopping features.)
''I can see why everyone's starting to panic about their accounts because you're going from hitting 500 likes on a photo back down to 100,'' Binding says. ''I know a lot of photographers have taken breaks from using Instagram because they start thinking maybe their photos aren't good enough.''
Artist and photographer Nick Waplington is also troubled by changes at Instagram, which he has used for 10 years. The 56-year-old has 18,000 followers on his @nickwaplington account, through which he regularly sells limited edition artworks and monographs. ''I'm not going to start dancing around holding my photographs,'' he says. ''I'll probably go back to using it as a personal account now.''
Like Binding, Waplington's reach has recently decreased: ''I used to put on 100-200 new followers every month and that's ended,'' he says. Also, like Binding, Waplington has been driven to experiment. He recently uploaded a photo of model Kendall Jenner that he lifted from the web. ''It really went nuts. I got the most likes and the most reach that I'd ever had. They showed it to everyone.''
Photos of women in underwear or bikinis were 54% more likely to appear on the Instagram news feed than other photos In 2020, the non-profit research organisation AlgorithmWatch conducted a similar experiment. In partnership with the European Data Journalism Network, it analysed 2,400 images and found that photos of women in underwear or bikinis were 54% more likely to appear on the Instagram news feed than other photos, while images of food and landscapes were 60% less likely to be shown. While the experiment was small, relying on the feeds of 26 volunteers, the researchers concluded that ''refusing to show body parts dramatically curtails one's audience'' on Instagram. In a June 2021 blog post, Mosseri outlined how users can influence what they see by muting accounts or clicking ''Not Interested'' on particular posts.
Though Waplington isn't going to delete the app, he finds the recent changes ''demoralising''. ''Do they really want someone like me to be posting pictures of celebrities downloaded from the internet to increase your reach instead of posting my art?'' he says. A day after we speak in late July, he emails to say his latest post earned his ''lowest ever reach and likes''.
Nick Waplington: 'Do they really want someone like me to be posting pictures of celebrities downloaded from the internet to increase your reach instead of posting my art?' Photograph: @nickwaplington/Instagram Ironically, Mosseri started his announcement video by claiming that Instagram wants to empower creators to ''make a living'' on the site, but both Binding and Waplington have seen sales suffer. Perhaps this highlights the difference between ''creators'' and ''creatives''. In April, writer and Washington University media professor Ian Bogost argued that ''a creator is someone whose work is wholly circumscribed by a platform''. While creators make content that can only exist within a certain app, many creatives simply put their offline art online. To put it another way: Instagram's creators can only exist on Instagram, Instagram's creatives can go elsewhere.
''There seems to be a mass exodus to Twitter now,'' Binding says. VSCO, a photo app reminiscent of early Instagram, is popular with Gen-Z and currently has around 40 million monthly users, meaning it's well placed to attract Instagram migrants. Artists are also turning to social media sites such as Artfol, ArtStation and Bubblehouse, which are all specifically designed for creatives to showcase their work. This isn't the first time Instagram has angered the artistic community '' in 2019, American artist Betty Tompkins was temporarily blocked after she shared her explicit photorealist work Fuck Painting #1, leading hundreds of people and the galleries that host her work to complain to the site. (Instagram has a long-held reputation for censoring artistic nudity, which is ironic in light of AlgorithmWatch's discovery of the bikini bias.)
Instagram is sacrificing longevity and real human connection for happy shareholders and panicked, short-term gain Taaryn Brench is a 32-year-old illustrator and designer from Leeds who has recently turned to sites such as Designers of Colour to showcase her work. ''In terms of getting your work seen on Instagram, it's tanked a lot over the past couple of years. You hear people talking about fighting the algorithm but that's a job in itself,'' she says (she has around 3,000 followers on her account @taaryn_b). ''I think we should as artists be looking elsewhere and not relying solely on Instagram.'' She says people are moving back to their personal websites and blogs (Waplington resumed directly collecting fan and follower email addresses last year).
Still, Brench admits she feels ''a bit chained'' to Instagram and doesn't want to completely quit the site because of the community there (she mentors young artists via the app). Waplington also values the community on the site. ''I've been making art photography for a long time and you would go away for four or five years and exist in this vacuum while you made a new piece of work,'' he says. ''For a line of work where it's very insular, suddenly you were able to talk to people on a daily basis.''
And yet, like many in the artistic community, Brench says Instagram has negatively affected her work '' and her attitude to her work '' over the years. ''I drew some pictures of some cats and I'm not even a cat person whatsoever '' I actually hate cats. But I posted it on Instagram and I knew it would do really well,'' she says. The post did do well. ''But then I thought, 'That's not me.'''
So, this time next year, will Instagram be solely a video and shopping app, full of dancing creators and celebrities flogging merchandise but devoid of artists and designers sharing their latest work? It's likely that many artists will stay on the app and adapt '' Binding, for one, says he doesn't mind creating videos '' and it's possible that Instagram will change its stance. After all, Facebook has found, time and time again, that copying competitors isn't a quick and easy path to success '' last year, it shutdown it's two-year-old TikTok clone Lasso, which never earned more than 80,000 daily active users on Android.
Taaryn Brench: 'You hear people talking about fighting the algorithm but that's a job in itself.' Photograph: @taaryn_b/Instagram And, of course, video and art aren't mutually exclusive '' although cats may continue to reign supreme. At the moment, the most popular post tagged #artist on TikTok is a coloured pencil drawing of a kitten that has accumulated 14.5m likes.
Whatever happens next, it's clear that Instagram isn't the app it used to be. Instagram expert Tasker says it once nurtured creators with workshops, parties and even surprise gifts such as photobooks and calendars, which she says is no longer the case. Instagram employs people who curate content for its own official account so it arguably fosters talent in that way '' its latest post highlights the work of trans activist and spoken word poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal.
In an emailed statement, a Facebook company spokesperson wrote: ''We're inspired by the millions of creatives using Instagram to express themselves, create businesses and communities every day. We began as a photo-sharing app and will always be a platform for visual storytelling, no matter its format.'' They went on to say that Instagram users shape culture and the app is ''constantly developing new formats and tools to help people express themselves''.
Tasker first found Instagram seven years ago when ''lonely and lost'' on maternity leave; she was delighted to be connected to others who ''found beauty in the way the light shone on their kitchen table in the early dawn'' and ''spotted the same tangle of wildflowers in the pavement cracks that would catch my eye''. Now she fears Instagram execs are ''sacrificing longevity and real human connection for happy shareholders and panicked, short-term gain''.
While she feels that creatives will remain on Instagram (''there isn't anywhere else online right now that has the same range and depth of creatives in its daily active user base''), she misses the place it used to be. ''Open the app now and you're grabbed by flashy images, videos, dancing teenagers and curated performances tailored, algorithmically, to hotwire all of your brain's most basic likes,'' she says. ''It's entertaining, there's no doubt, but it's seldom mindful. I miss that morning routine of quiet, considered and consistent inspiration.''
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Informed consent disclosure to vaccine trial subjects of risk of COVID'19 vaccines worsening clinical disease
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 04:12
Int J Clin Pract. 2021 Mar; 75(3): e13795.
Timothy Cardozo1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, NYU Langone Health, New YorkNY, USA,
Ronald Veazey2Division of Comparative Pathology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, Tulane National Primate Research Center, CovingtonLA, USA,
1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, NYU Langone Health, New YorkNY, USA,
2Division of Comparative Pathology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, Tulane National Primate Research Center, CovingtonLA, USA,
Corresponding author.
*CorrespondenceTimothy Cardozo, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, NYU Langone Health, 550 First Avenue, MSB 222, New York, NY 10016, USA.
gro.cmuyn@10todrac , Copyright (C) 2020 The Authors.
International Journal of Clinical PracticeThis is an open access article under the terms of the
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
This article has been
cited by other articles in PMC.
Data Availability StatementAll data referenced in this report have been published in peer'reviewed literature or are available on the World Wide Web/Internet at the URL's indicated in the References section. Therefore, all data referenced in this report are publicly available in widely available data repositories.
AbstractAims of the studyPatient comprehension is a critical part of meeting medical ethics standards of informed consent in study designs. The aim of the study was to determine if sufficient literature exists to require clinicians to disclose the specific risk that COVID'19 vaccines could worsen disease upon exposure to challenge or circulating virus.
Methods used to conduct the studyPublished literature was reviewed to identify preclinical and clinical evidence that COVID'19 vaccines could worsen disease upon exposure to challenge or circulating virus. Clinical trial protocols for COVID'19 vaccines were reviewed to determine if risks were properly disclosed.
Results of the studyCOVID'19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralising antibodies may sensitise vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated. Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern: that vaccines designed empirically using the traditional approach (consisting of the unmodified or minimally modified coronavirus viral spike to elicit neutralising antibodies), be they composed of protein, viral vector, DNA or RNA and irrespective of delivery method, may worsen COVID'19 disease via antibody'dependent enhancement (ADE). This risk is sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID'19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials.
Conclusions drawn from the study and clinical implicationsThe specific and significant COVID'19 risk of ADE should have been and should be prominently and independently disclosed to research subjects currently in vaccine trials, as well as those being recruited for the trials and future patients after vaccine approval, in order to meet the medical ethics standard of patient comprehension for informed consent.
1.'ƒTHE RISK OF ADE IN COVID'19 VACCINES IS NON'THEORETICAL AND COMPELLINGVaccine'elicited enhancement of disease was previously observed in human subjects with vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), dengue virus and measles.1 Vaccine'elicited enhancement of disease was also observed with the SARS and MERS viruses and with feline coronavirus, which are closely related to SARS'CoV'2, the causative pathogen of COVID'19 disease. The immune mechanisms of this enhancement have invariably involved antibodies, from direct antibody'dependent enhancement, to immune complex formation by antibodies, albeit accompanied by various coordinated cellular responses, such as Th2 T'cell skewing.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Notably, both neutralising and non'neutralising antibodies have been implicated. A recent study revealed IgG'mediated acute lung injury in vivo in macaques infected with SARS that correlated with a vaccine'elicited, neutralising antibody response.8 Inflammation and tissue damage in the lung in this animal model recapitulated the inflammation and tissue damage in the lungs of SARS'infected patients who succumbed to the disease. The time course was also similar, with the worst damage occurring in delayed fashion in synchrony with ramping up of the immune response. Remarkably, neutralising antibodies controlled the virus in the animal, but then would precipitate a severe, tissue'damaging, inflammatory response in the lung. This is a similar profile to immune complex'mediated disease seen with RSV vaccines in the past, wherein vaccinees succumbed to fatal enhanced RSV disease because of the formation of antibody'virus immune complexes that precipitated harmful, inflammatory immune responses. It is also similar to the clinical course of COVID'19 patients, in whom severe COVID'19 disease is associated with the development of anti'SARS'CoV'2 serum antibodies,9 with titres correlating directly with the severity of disease.10 Conversely, subjects who recover quickly may have low or no anti'SARS'CoV'2 serum antibodies.11
The elicitation of antibodies, specifically neutralising antibodies, is the goal of nearly every current SARS'CoV'2 vaccine candidate. The prior evidence that vaccine'elicited, antibody'dependent enhancement (ADE) of disease is likely to occur to some degree with COVID'19 vaccines is vertically consistent from controlled SARS studies in primates to clinical observations in SARS and COVID'19. Thus, a finite, non'theoretical risk is evident in the medical literature that vaccine candidates composed of the SARS'CoV'2 viral spike and eliciting anti'SARS'CoV'2 antibodies, be they neutralising or not, place vaccinees at higher risk for more severe COVID'19 disease when they encounter circulating viruses. Indeed, studies in mice of prior SARS vaccines revealed this exact phenotype, with four human vaccine candidates eliciting neutralising antibodies and protecting against SARS challenge, but viral re'challenge of thus vaccinated animals resulting in immunopathologic lung disease.5 Independently, SARS/MERS vaccine candidates, commonly exhibited ADE associated with high inflammatory morbidity in preclinical models, obstructing their advancement to the clinic.4, 12 SARS ADE of both disease in non'human primates and viral infection of cells in vitro was clearly mapped to specific antibody'targeted SARS viral spike epitopes.6 This phenomenon was consistent across a variety of vaccine platforms, including DNA, vector primes and virus'like particles (VLP), irrespective of inoculation method (oral, intramuscular, subcutaneous, etc). An unknown variable is how long this tissue damage lasts, possibly resulting in permanent morbidity (eg, diabetes from pancreatic damage7).
Current data on COVID'19 vaccines is limited, but does not so far reveal evidence of ADE of disease. Non'human primate studies of Moderna's mRNA'1273 vaccine showed excellent protection, with no detectable immunopathology.13 Phase 1 trials of several vaccines have not reported any immunopathology in subjects administered the candidate vaccines. However, these subjects were unlikely to have yet encountered circulating virus.14 Nevertheless, all preclinical studies to date have been performed with the Wuhan or closely related strains of the virus, while a mutant D614G virus is now the most prevalent circulating form. Several observations suggest that this alternative form may be antigenically distinct from the Wuhan derived strain, not so much in composition, but in conformation of the viral spike and exposure of neutralisation epitopes.15, 16, 17, 18 Similarly, Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of vaccine candidates have only been designed around immunogenicity as an efficacy end point and have not been designed to capture exposure of subjects to circulating virus after vaccination, which is when ADE/immunopathology is designed to occur. Thus, the absence of ADE evidence in COVID'19 vaccine data so far does not absolve investigators from disclosing the risk of enhanced disease to vaccine trial participants, and it remains a realistic, non'theoretical risk to the subjects.
2.'ƒCHALLENGES TO INFORMED CONSENT FOR COVID'19 VACCINE STUDIESInformed consent procedures for vaccine trials commonly include disclosure of very minor risks such as injection site reactions, rare risks from past, unrelated vaccines/viruses, such as Guillain'Barre syndrome for swine flu (interest in which is likely behind the interest in Astra Zeneca's recent vaccine transverse myelitis event) and generic statements about the risk of idiosyncratic systemic adverse events and death. Specific risks to research participants derived from biological mechanism are rarely included, often because of ambiguity about their applicability.19
Signed consent forms from the COVID'19 vaccine trials are not publicly available because of privacy concerns. They also vary from clinical site to clinical site, and sample consent forms on which they are based are not required to be disclosed until after the trial is over, if at all. However, these consent forms are usually very similar in content to the ''Risks to participants'' section of the trial protocols, which have been released publicly by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for their COVID'19 vaccine trials (20 & Supplement). As these three vaccines are representative of the diversity of vaccines being tested, it is very likely that the consent form inferred from these protocols is similar or identical to those from any and all of the vaccine trials currently underway. All three protocols mention the risk of disease enhancement by the vaccine, but all three list this risk last or next to last in the list of risks, after risks from the Ad26'Cov2 vector, adenovirus vectors in general, risks of vaccination in general, risks for pregnancy and birth control (which are said to be ''unknown''), risks of blood draws and risks from collection of nasal swab samples (for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine), after allergy, fainting, local site injection reaction, general systemic adverse reactions and laboratory abnormalities for the Moderna vaccine and after local site injection reactions and general systemic adverse events for the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, both Moderna and Johnson and Johnson term the risk of vaccine'elicited disease enhancement as ''theoretical.'' Finally, in citing the risk, Pfizer and Moderna note prior evidence of vaccine'elicited disease enhancement with RSV and dengue, as well as feline coronavirus (Pfizer) and measles (Moderna), however, SARS and MERS are not mentioned. Johnson and Johnson discusses SARS and MERS, but make an unusual scientific argument that vaccine'elicited disease enhancement is because of non'neutralising antibodies and Th2'skewed cellular responses and that Ad26 vaccination does not exhibit this profile.Blank consent forms for AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson are also available online at https://restoringtrials.org/2020/09/18/covid19trialprotocolandstudydocs/, and while the AstraZeneca form clearly discloses the specific risk of ADE, the disclosure is listed last among risks only in an attached information sheet. In all, the evidence from the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson protocols for their COVID'19 vaccine trials and the sample consent forms, when contrasted with the evidence for antibody'dependent enhancement of disease presented by this report and widely available to any skilled practitioner in the field, establishes that patient comprehension of the specific risk that receiving the COVID'19 vaccine could convert a subject from someone who experiences mild disease to someone who experiences severe disease, lasting morbidity or even death is unlikely to be achieved by the informed consent procedures planned for these clinical trials.
Medical ethics standards required that, given the extent of evidence in the medical literature reviewed above, the risk of ADE should be clearly and emphatically distinguished in the informed consent from risks observed rarely as well as the more obvious risk of lack of efficacy, which is unrelated to the specific risk of ADE. Based on the published literature, it should have been obvious to any skilled medical practitioner in 2019 that there is a significant risk to vaccine research subjects that they may experience severe disease once vaccinated, while they might only have experienced a mild, self'limited disease if not vaccinated. The consent should also clearly distinguish the specific risk of worsened COVID'19 disease from generic statements about risk of death and generic risk of lack of efficacy of the vaccine.
3.'ƒCONCLUSIONGiven the strong evidence that ADE is a non'theoretical and compelling risk for COVID'19 vaccines and the ''laundry list'' nature of informed consents, disclosure of the specific risk of worsened COVID'19 disease from vaccination calls for a specific, separate, informed consent form and demonstration of patient comprehension in order to meet medical ethics standards. The informed consent process for ongoing COVID'19 vaccine trials does not appear to meet this standard. While the COVID'19 global health emergency justifies accelerated vaccine trials of candidates with known liabilities, such an acceleration is not inconsistent with additional attention paid to heightened informed consent procedures specific to COVID'19 vaccine risks.
DISCLOSUREThe authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONSTC and RV conceived this commentary. TC wrote the manuscript. RV edited and approved the manuscript.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSSupported by NIH award R21AI157604 (to TC).
DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENTAll data referenced in this report have been published in peer'reviewed literature or are available on the World Wide Web/Internet at the URL's indicated in the References section. Therefore, all data referenced in this report are publicly available in widely available data repositories.
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New York Times reporter faces backlash over 'sophisticated, vaccinated crowd' comments about Obama party | Fox News
Mon, 09 Aug 2021 03:59
Published August 08, 2021
Last Update 4 hrs ago
The reporter addressed the criticism in a Twitter postA New York Times reporter received backlash on social media after making a comment on another network that critics believe dismissed concerns about former President Obama's star-studded maskless birthday party over the weekend.
New York Times White House Correspondent Annie Karni discussed the controversy surrounding Obama's much-criticized Martha's Vineyard celebration where he was seen not wearing a mask and used the term "sophisticated" crowd, saying that the guests were "following all the safety precautions."
The clip sparked outrage on social media including from journalist Glenn Greenwald who wondered aloud why more people weren't concerned about the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus at Obama's party.
"A NYT reporter on CNN justifying Obama's huge maskless birthday bash because he only invited "a sophisticated, vaccinated crowd" is about as emblematic of liberal discourse as it gets," Greenwald tweeted. "What happened to all the concerns about vaccinated people passing Delta to the unvaccinated?"
"Of course viruses don't attack sophisticated people, Muffy!" attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon tweeted.
"Someone really should inform Annie Karni what certain parts of Hollywood thinks of vaccines," The Spectator contributor Stephen L. Miller tweeted.
Karni attempted to clarify the clip saying the word "sophisticated" was a direct quote from one of the residents she spoke to and that she was simply conveying the beliefs that some people on the island had.
"Watch the full clip," Karni tweeted. "The Q was, what do people on the island think of the party? The A was me summarizing views of ppl I spoke with: some are upset, + others think the concerns about it are overblown. 'Sophisticated crowd' was from a quote in the story."
Obama had said that his party, which was originally going to entertain over 500 people, was "scaled back" due to the spread of the delta variant. However, the president was widely panned on social media after images from the party surfaced showing a massive tent and photos of maskless attendees.
Philip Morris Heats Up Race for Vectura With $1.4 Billion Bid - Bloomberg
Sun, 08 Aug 2021 22:30
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Military Arrests Bill Gates - Real Raw News
Sun, 08 Aug 2021 12:36
The U.S. military on Tuesday arrested Microsoft founder Bill Gates, charging the socially awkward misfit with child trafficking and other unspeakable crimes against America and its people.
Sources within the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps told Real Raw News that the military had spent months trying to find Gates, but the elusive billionaire had used his wealth and Deep State contacts to elude capture, somehow keeping a step ahead of the military's manhunt.
But on Tuesday, July 27, Gates slipped up, and U.S. Marines were able to apprehend him at a property he secretly owned in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The charges against Gates cover a broad spectrum. He purportedly coerced the FDA into issuing emergency authorization on Covid-19 vaccines, knowing that the potentially dangerous pharmaceutical cocktail would not only endanger recipients but also scramble human DNA. JAG is also investigating whether vaccines contain synthetic nanoparticles manufactured by Microsoft and Swedish biotech company Biohax International. The military alleges that Gates stood to profit massively from vaccine sales. Gates, who has previously denied having a financial stake in the vaccines, earned at least $10 billion from the joint sales of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, according to JAG documents. JAG is holding Gates partly responsible for the deaths of 7,000 American citizens who died within 72 hours of receiving the drug.
Moreover, the military has charged Gates with masterminding a child trafficking ring, which he ran with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. As reported by RRN on 20 May, U.S. Navy Seals operating under JAG authority stormed Gates' 492-acre ranch in northwest Wyoming and discovered a subterranean bunker where children had been temporarily housed prior to being sold into slavery. An SD card recovered at the scene showed a young girl in pajamas handcuffed to a bed and crying out for her mother. Off camera, a maniacal Gates could be heard encouraging the child to dress in high heels and lingerie so she could better please her ''new mommy and daddy.''
That evidence, taken in tandem with Gates' vaccine fraud, prompted the military to launch a global manhunt for the socially awkward but ruthlessly dangerous nerd.
Sources told RRN that Gates' wife Melinda played a crucial role in his arrest.
''Initially she was reluctant to fully cooperate, because she felt that knowledge of her involvement might jeopardize the fortune she aims to get from the divorce settlement, most of which has not been paid. But JAG has evidence proving that she had knowledge of the child trafficking and told her she'd be charged alongside Bill if she didn't cooperate. It turned out that Bill had been spamming her with enciphered emails only she could decode. He wanted to reconcile. The military used that to its advantage,'' our source said.
Melinda finally answered him, our source added, and agreed to a meeting. She told Bill to name the time and place. In response, Bill Gates suggested a house he had owned in Myrtle Beach. Although the military had been conducting surveillance on all known Gates-owned properties, the Myrtle Beach house had escaped military notice, because Gates had purchased it under an alias.
When Gates showed up, the Marines were waiting, our source said.
He was taken into custody and is currently being detained at an unknown location pending transportation to Guantanamo Bay, our source added.
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New Identity Authentication Requirement for Unemployment Spreads Across the Country
Sun, 08 Aug 2021 12:29
Pennsylvania now requires individuals filing for unemployment compensation to prove their identity before receiving payments.
In an effort to prevent fraudulent claims which have plagued the online unemployment system, Pennsylvania has hired ID.me, a McLean, Virginia-based company, to authenticate users.
Since 2020, some 27 states have hired ID.me for unemployment verification, including Pennsylvania, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
''We are also now under contract with an additional two states. ID.me Spokesman Nicholas Michael told The Epoch Times. ''Our federal partners include the Department of Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration.''
Unemployment applicants in these states must submit to a new, more invasive level of vetting to receive payments.
ID.me's online authentication process begins with a request for permission to use details from the user's credit profile and other public sources. Soon after that, the system requires users to consent to ID.me collecting their Social Security number and biometric data. The user cannot continue the process or receive unemployment without consenting.
The fine print explains ID.me may collect facial biometrics and voiceprints.
Users upload an image of a driver's license or passport, and a current ''selfie'' image taken with their smartphone. In some cases, a video selfie is used.
''We use these images to create a facial geometry or faceprint which we use for purposes of identity verification and to prevent the fraudulent creation of multiple accounts in a fraudulent manner,'' the agreement explains.
Users may also be required to call ID.me and leave a voice recording that is used to create a voiceprint. ''We use this voiceprint for identity verification and to prevent the creation of multiple ID.me accounts in a fraudulent manner,'' the agreement explains.
Collecting Biometric DataID.me stores a user's biometric data for use up to seven and a half years after they stop using the service, the agreement says. Users may ask ID.me to delete their biometric data, but the company may decline the request in some cases.
''ID.me will never share your biometric data with a third party except to protect you or others from identity theft,'' the consent agreement says.
However, the agreement also says ID.me can share biometric data with its clients such as the Department of Labor and Industry to process unemployment claims, plus third-party service providers and ''other third parties where permitted by law, to enforce the terms, to comply with legal obligations or applicable, to respond to legal process (such as a subpoena, warrant or civil discovery request), to cooperate with law enforcement agencies concerning conduct or activity that we reasonably and in good faith believes may violate federal, state, or local law, and to prevent harm, loss or injury to others.''
Batches of digital files containing the personal information of each person authenticated by ID.me are regularly sent to the state. The files contain an individual's full name, email address, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, street address, city, state, postal code, gender, and a unique identifier.
ID.me tracks the IP address, town, and time when users interact with the company.
Where Is the Information Going?''It's overbroad and absurd considering the limited purpose the verification is supposed to further,'' Jeff Schott, a labor and civil rights attorney at the Scaringi Law Firm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told The Epoch Times. ''To me, it's wrong because you are entitled to those benefits and you have to agree to their terms, which exceed what is needed for the purpose for ID verification.''
Schott says the law firm has fielded numerous calls about ID.me from Pennsylvanians applying for unemployment. The complaints generally fall into one of two categories.
Some are people who are not computer savvy and through the pandemic, have been laid off for the first time in their lives. They need help navigating ID.me and worry about submitting to facial recognition and handing their Social Security number over to a third-party company.
''They want to know and where all this information is going and where it is stored,'' Schott said. ''Since COVID, people are more in tune with government intrusion in their lives, for obvious reasons.''
Other folks are calling the law firm complaining ID.me rejected them, even though their information was legitimate.
If there is a problem, ID.me says cases will be handled on a video conference by a ''trusted referee,'' but Schott said some clients have told him that the video conference never happened, others told him ID.me's trusted referees seemed more hostile than helpful, acting as if they were speaking with a fraudster instead of helping them solve the problem.
About 90 percent of people verify their identity through the automated process in about five minutes, Michael said. Applicants' selfie photo or video is compared to the photo on their passport or driver's license through facial recognition.
''If the individual takes a blurry, or cut off image of their face three times, or uploads documents that have issues, we offer a live video chat session'--similar to a Zoom call'--with a live agent,'' Michael said. ''The individual can finish the verification process that way. No one is blocked by this step.''
People who do not have a presence in records, are recent immigrants, or have no credit history have difficulty proving their identity online, he said.
''ID.me is the only vendor in the country that offers identity verification through a video chat with one of our trusted referees,'' Michael said.
Pennsylvania first engaged with ID.me through an $800,000, one-year contract to authenticate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance applicants from September 2020-September 2021.
In late July, Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry informed applicants of regular (not pandemic-related) unemployment that they are required to verify their identity through ID.me to start or continue receiving payments.
There is likely another contract to cover this new service but the Department of Labor and Industry was unable to produce it or say how much it is paying ID.me.
Labor and Industry Spokeswoman Sarah DeSantis told The Epoch Times ID.me is subcontracted through Geographic Solutions, the company that manages the state's online unemployment system, which was recently updated. But Geographic Solutions spokesman Donald Silver told The Epoch Times the contract is between ID.me and the state.
''We'll have to defer to Pennsylvania L&I for information about the contract,'' ID.me Spokesman Nicholas Michael said.
Ultimately, neither ID.me nor the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would provide a contract or disclose the cost of this service.
Beth Brelje
Freelance Reporter
New Identity Authentication Requirement For Unemployment Spreads Across The Country | ZeroHedge
Sun, 08 Aug 2021 11:39
Authored by Beth Brelje via The Epoch Times,
Pennsylvania now requires individuals filing for unemployment compensation to prove their identity before receiving payments.
In an effort to prevent fraudulent claims which have plagued the online unemployment system, Pennsylvania has hired ID.me, a McLean, Virginia-based company, to authenticate users.
Since 2020, some 27 states have hired ID.me for unemployment verification, including Pennsylvania, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
''We are also now under contract with an additional two states. ID.me Spokesman Nicholas Michael told The Epoch Times.
''Our federal partners include the Department of Veterans Affairs and Social Security Administration.''
Unemployment applicants in these states must submit to a new, more invasive level of vetting to receive payments.
ID.me's online authentication process begins with a request for permission to use details from the user's credit profile and other public sources. Soon after that, the system requires users to consent to ID.me collecting their Social Security number and biometric data. The user cannot continue the process or receive unemployment without consenting.
The fine print explains ID.me may collect facial biometrics and voiceprints.
Users upload an image of a driver's license or passport, and a current ''selfie'' image taken with their smartphone. In some cases, a video selfie is used.
''We use these images to create a facial geometry or faceprint which we use for purposes of identity verification and to prevent the fraudulent creation of multiple accounts in a fraudulent manner,'' the agreement explains.
Users may also be required to call ID.me and leave a voice recording that is used to create a voiceprint. ''We use this voiceprint for identity verification and to prevent the creation of multiple ID.me accounts in a fraudulent manner,'' the agreement explains.
Collecting Biometric DataID.me stores a user's biometric data for use up to seven and a half years after they stop using the service, the agreement says. Users may ask ID.me to delete their biometric data, but the company may decline the request in some cases.
''ID.me will never share your biometric data with a third party except to protect you or others from identity theft,'' the consent agreement says.
However, the agreement also says ID.me can share biometric data with its clients such as the Department of Labor and Industry to process unemployment claims, plus third-party service providers and ''other third parties where permitted by law, to enforce the terms, to comply with legal obligations or applicable, to respond to legal process (such as a subpoena, warrant or civil discovery request), to cooperate with law enforcement agencies concerning conduct or activity that we reasonably and in good faith believes may violate federal, state, or local law, and to prevent harm, loss or injury to others.''
Batches of digital files containing the personal information of each person authenticated by ID.me are regularly sent to the state. The files contain an individual's full name, email address, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, street address, city, state, postal code, gender, and a unique identifier.
ID.me tracks the IP address, town, and time when users interact with the company.
Where Is the Information Going?''It's overbroad and absurd considering the limited purpose the verification is supposed to further,'' Jeff Schott, a labor and civil rights attorney at the Scaringi Law Firm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told The Epoch Times.
''To me, it's wrong because you are entitled to those benefits and you have to agree to their terms, which exceed what is needed for the purpose for ID verification.''
Schott says the law firm has fielded numerous calls about ID.me from Pennsylvanians applying for unemployment. The complaints generally fall into one of two categories.
Some are people who are not computer savvy and through the pandemic, have been laid off for the first time in their lives. They need help navigating ID.me and worry about submitting to facial recognition and handing their Social Security number over to a third-party company.
''They want to know and where all this information is going and where it is stored,'' Schott said.
''Since COVID, people are more in tune with government intrusion in their lives, for obvious reasons.''
Other folks are calling the law firm complaining ID.me rejected them, even though their information was legitimate.
If there is a problem, ID.me says cases will be handled on a video conference by a ''trusted referee,'' but Schott said some clients have told him that the video conference never happened, others told him ID.me's trusted referees seemed more hostile than helpful, acting as if they were speaking with a fraudster instead of helping them solve the problem.
About 90 percent of people verify their identity through the automated process in about five minutes, Michael said. Applicants' selfie photo or video is compared to the photo on their passport or driver's license through facial recognition.
''If the individual takes a blurry, or cut off image of their face three times, or uploads documents that have issues, we offer a live video chat session'--similar to a Zoom call'--with a live agent,'' Michael said. ''The individual can finish the verification process that way. No one is blocked by this step.''
People who do not have a presence in records, are recent immigrants, or have no credit history have difficulty proving their identity online, he said.
''ID.me is the only vendor in the country that offers identity verification through a video chat with one of our trusted referees,'' Michael said.
Pennsylvania first engaged with ID.me through an $800,000, one-year contract to authenticate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance applicants from September 2020-September 2021.
In late July, Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry informed applicants of regular (not pandemic-related) unemployment that they are required to verify their identity through ID.me to start or continue receiving payments.
There is likely another contract to cover this new service but the Department of Labor and Industry was unable to produce it or say how much it is paying ID.me.
Labor and Industry Spokeswoman Sarah DeSantis told The Epoch Times ID.me is subcontracted through Geographic Solutions, the company that manages the state's online unemployment system, which was recently updated. But Geographic Solutions spokesman Donald Silver told The Epoch Times the contract is between ID.me and the state.
''We'll have to defer to Pennsylvania L&I for information about the contract,'' ID.me Spokesman Nicholas Michael said.
Ultimately, neither ID.me nor the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would provide a contract or disclose the cost of this service.
Obama's birthday party guests leave early because of traffic 'sh-- show' | Fox News
Sun, 08 Aug 2021 11:37
Published August 08, 2021
The party's original guest list of nearly 500 people had been reduced to only "friends and close family" after an outbreak of COVID-19's Delta variantCelebrity guests have begun leaving former President Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard "scaled-down" birthday bash, creating a "s''t show" of traffic congestion on the resort island.
Singer John Legend, model wife Chrissy Teigen, and rapper Takeoff were seen leaving the ex-president's 29-acre Oak Bluffs seaside property just before midnight by a Post photographer.
Legend was heard performing for the crowd Saturday evening, and the Migos MC was also rumored to have taken the raised stage set up on the sprawling estate.
In between musical acts, a DJ was heard playing "Ain't Nobody" by Chaka Khan, in honor of the 60-year-old man of the hour.
A fleet of taxis were seen driving into the Obama residence to take party staff home, and a handful of SUVs possibly containing stars were also seen departing the shindig.
A local Massachusetts police officer could be heard describing the vehicle situation in the town of 4,500 as a "s''t show" on his radio as the party began to wind down, according to the photog.
The party's original guest list of nearly 500 people, in addition to 200 staff members, had been reduced earlier this week to only "friends and close family" after an outbreak of COVID-19's Delta variant in nearby Cape Cod.
The 11th-hour decision '-- which led to the reported disinvites of former adviser David Axelrod and comics David Letterman, Larry David and Conan O'Brien '-- followed a report by The Post, which cited a source as saying the former president was creating a public health nightmare by trying to get 700 people to the island.
Still, there was plenty of star power in attendance with Jay-Z, Beyonc(C), Steven Spielberg, Bradley Cooper, Don Cheadle, Erykah Badu, Steven Colbert and John Kerry photographed arriving for the party.
Other guests included Bruce Springsteen, Tom and Rita Hanks, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union, Eddie Vedder, and Questlove, who was slated to perform.
Earlier in the day, the stars turned heads in the sleepy enclave, as the Hanks were spotted browsing through a bookshop in nearby Edgartown, where Legend and Teigen were also seen shopping.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was spotted having lunch at the Winnetu Resort in Edgartown '-- where Spielberg was also seen taking selfies with fans '-- after she reportedly did not make the cut for the new streamlined guestlist.
The Democrat's office did not immediately respond to the New York Post's request to clarify why she was on Martha's Vineyard.
NBC sees 'worst case scenario' as Olympics ratings plunge amid 'woke' protests | Fox News
Sun, 08 Aug 2021 11:34
Published August 07, 2021
Experts have pointed to woke, anti-U.S. protests from American athletes as part of the lack of interestNBC is giving advertisers who bought airtime during the Tokyo Olympics extra commercials due to underwhelming ratings for this year's 2020 Olympic Games, fueled by a pandemic-weary population and backlash against woke athletes protesting the U.S. flag and national anthem.
NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua insisted to the Associated Press that the network would still make money on the 2020 Olympics '' but left out details about how much.
NBC's primetime coverage of the Tokyo Olympics on July 26 averaged 14.7 million viewers -- for a 49% drop compared to the equivalent night from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and 53% less than the 2012 London Olympics. The opening ceremonies saw their lowest viewership since 1988.
United States' Megan Rapinoe kneels prior to the women's bronze medal soccer match against Australia at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Kashima, Japan. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Variety senior TV editor Brian Steinberg wrote that the drop has spurred "advertiser anxiety" which hasn't been eased by the news that legendary American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from team competition and fan favorite Naomi Osaka was eliminated from the tennis medal competition.
He quoted a media buying executive who said the early viewership numbers "clearly are not what NBC, our agency or our clients were looking for" from costly investment.
"When you look at the numbers, it's hard to be pleased with them," Andy Billings, director of the sports communications program at the University of Alabama, told the AP. "It's probably NBC's worst-case scenario, but it's probably a worst-case scenario that they would have been able to predict months ago."
Viewership has lagged behind the Rio coverage by roughly half on numerous nights of this year's competition.
EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 26: Gwendolyn Berry celebrates finishing third in the Women's Hammer Throw final on day nine of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 26, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
And woke protests by American athletes condemning the U.S. or national anthem have done little to attract new viewers while alienating Republican spectators, according to Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey. The lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic have also taken a toll.
Last week, the university published a poll that found a third fewer Americans were interested in watching the games '' a whopping 43% of respondents said they had little interest in watching compared to just 16% who had a lot.
And while 55% of Americans felt it was a good idea to hold the postponed 2020 Games this year, 36% said it wasn't.
"The Olympic spirit is a bit dampened this year," Murray said. "The delay from last year and lack of spectators have taken the edge off the typical anticipation and excitement for this event. But the emergence of Black Lives Matter in the sports world has also led to a backlash among some Americans."
United States' Kevin Durant (7) celebrates after their win in the men's basketball gold medal game against France at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Not all athletes have protested the flag. The woke women's soccer team had to settle for bronze last week, but the U.S. men's basketball team took gold and star Kevin Durant derided media critics by telling one to "act like you're American."
And U.S. wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock wrapped herself in the flag and declared "I love representing the U.S., I freaking love living here," after becoming the first female Black American wrestler to win Olympic gold.
But images of other athletes protesting the flag and the anthem haven't helped bring back alienated viewers.
USA's Tamyra Marianna Stock Mensah celebrates her gold medal victory against Nigeria's Blessing Oborududu in their women's freestyle 68kg wrestling final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Just over half of the Republicans who said they weren't interested cited the political protests, and the same percentage of Democrats blamed the effects of the pandemic '' small crowds and less competition.
And the university also quoted independents as opposing the protests.
"The people we sent over aren't representing the country," one Maryland man, identified as an independent in his 40s, told the pollsters. "They're kneeling at the flag."
He wasn't the only one who felt that way.
"I don't want to see virtue signaling," a 45-year-old New Jersey woman, also an independent, said. "Be a proud American."
The decline in TV viewers doesn't tell the entire story '' more people are watching online and via streaming platforms, where advertising revenue is significantly lower.
Fox News' Brian Flood and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO - ANU students isolating as Canberra enters week-long lockdown with four Covid cases reported | Australian Capital Territory (ACT) | The Guardian
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 13:23
Students across eight residential halls at the Australian National University have been told to isolate as a Covid outbreak in Canberra threatens to spread into student accommodation.
The ACT outbreak grew on Thursday to four cases after the initial case, a man in his 20s, sparked the listing of 14 exposure sites including popular nightclubs and bars over the weekend. Three of his close contacts have also tested positive.
Late on Thursday, the ANU announced that close contacts of a Covid case had been identified at several halls on its campus. The contacts were getting tested and would self-isolate, the university said.
Every other resident across eight of its student halls is considered a secondary contact.
''As an additional precaution, we have instructed all residents in these residences to self-isolate until they are told otherwise,'' a university spokesperson said. ''We are undertaking these measures to assist ACT Health with their contact tracing and to keep everyone safe.''
The halls told to isolate were Burton and Garran Hall, Wright Hall, Ursula Lodge (Laurus Wing), John XXIII, Kinloch Lodge, Lena Karmel Lodge, Wamburun Hall, and Warrumbul Lodge.
The news comes after the ACT reported its first locally transmitted case in more than a year on Thursday and quickly ordered a territory-wide lockdown.
The chief minister, Andrew Barr, announced the seven-day lockdown from 5pm after ACT authorities detected Covid fragments in wastewater late on Wednesday night and identified the first positive case.
''This is the most serious public health risk that we have faced in the territory this year,'' Barr said on Thursday.
Kerryn Coleman, the chief health officer, said the source of the first case was unknown at this stage, adding to health authorities' concerns. She said she suspected the case was the Delta variant and originated in Sydney, but that had not yet been confirmed.
''Right now we have no source or link for this case,'' she said. ''This is one of the reasons why we are going into a lockdown for the next seven days.
''We conducted an intense investigation looking back through the days that we thought he was exposed to identify where this has come from. We are getting the whole genomic sequencing and [should] have that by lunchtime tomorrow.''
Masks will again be mandated in the ACT and general retail will be closed.
Hospitality venues will only be able to operate takeaway services, and residents can only leave their homes for essential reasons, including for healthcare, groceries, supplies and up to one hour of outdoor exercise.
Essential employees will also be allowed to leave their homes.
Parents are being told that if they can keep their kids at home, they must. Public schools will be open only for kids of essential workers, vulnerable residents or those who cannot otherwise have their children at home.
''The virus only transmits when people move around and come into contact with each other, so the objective here is to reduce the movement of people and to reduce the transmission potential of this outbreak,'' Barr said. ''That is why we are going into a lockdown.''
Contact tracing has so far identified 14 potential exposure sites, including city nightclubs, a Pentecostal church and a popular discount retail centre.
People who attended those sites over the weekend are being asked to get tested and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.
The man had been using Canberra's check-in app ''religiously'', authorities said.
A new testing centre will be set up near Canberra airport and capacity at the two existing testing sites will be expanded.
''We have said throughout the outbreak in greater Sydney that we would act quickly and decisively,'' an ACT government statement said.
''We have seen that a short and immediate lockdown limits the potential spread of the virus, and is the best path to avoiding longer and more damaging lockdowns.''
The ACT has higher vaccination rates than the national average, particularly among older age cohorts. Barr said those high vaccination rates would aid the response.
''That does help, but at the moment we have a first dose rate of over 50%, and a fully vaccinated population around 27-27.5%,'' he said. ''That is still nowhere near where we need to be.''
Customers stand in long lines at a Coles supermarket in Canberra on Thursday as the ACT prepares for a seven-day Covid lockdown. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAPThe ACT has not recorded a locally transmitted Covid case since two people returned from Melbourne on 8 July 2020, passing it on to three others. The last recorded locally transmitted case was on 10 July 2020, and Canberra has experienced only one five-week lockdown '' in April last year.
The ability to keep Covid-19 out of the territory, which at some points has been surrounded by locally transmitted cases, has surprised and impressed public health experts.
Even Barr himself has conceded the territory's fortunes were in some part down to luck. In the first weeks of the Delta outbreak in NSW, tens of thousands of people in the ACT declared they had been in greater Sydney.
A mask mandate was introduced briefly on 28 June, but was relaxed on 9 July, when no cases emerged.
Barr said he'd been ''pleasantly surprised'' at the lack of Covid-19 in Canberra.
''That's a combination of good management and good luck. Luck can turn, though,'' Barr said earlier this year.
The ACT has since strictly limited movement between affected areas in NSW and Canberra.
But it has also been considering whether to implement a regional bubble with nearby regions of NSW, which were not affected by Covid-19. Asked whether he should have acted earlier on such a bubble, Barr said: ''If the thought was that you could somehow have a perfectly sealed Canberra bubble, that was never possible,'' he said.
''So that is why we planned for this scenario '... as I have said countless times when asked that question, it would not, and will never provide absolute protection against a virus of this kind.''
The ACT government released a Covid roadmap last month to serve as a guiding document for how it will deal with outbreaks.
The document says the ACT will generally enter what it describes as a ''pause and assess'' phase when cases emerged.
VIDEO - Lockdowns in China: locals cry for help; Chinese officials seal residents' doors shut - YouTube
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 12:18
VIDEO - Call to #CancelACL Music Festival arises as Austin-area COVID-19 cases surge | KXAN Austin
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 03:58
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- As ICU beds at hospitals in the Austin-Travis County area reach capacity and new COVID-19 cases skyrocket, the safety of resuming some of Texas' biggest-ticket entertainment events is causing concern.
The sold-out 2021 Austin City Limits Music Festival is set to be held October 1-10 in Austin's Zilker Park. While that's still two months away, a group called Cancel ACL Fest is now calling for the world-famous ''ACL'' to axe its in-person events.
A Change.org petition has 100 signatures as on Tuesday evening. The petition homepage reads, in part: ''Due to Governor Abbott's laws against vaccine passports and mask mandates, it is no longer safe to have this event. ACL has no plans to even discuss canceling. For the public safety of all that live in Austin, it's best to cancel the festival.''
On Monday, Austin City Limits Radio announced it would postpone its Blues on the Green live music shows scheduled for August 10 and 11. Music legend Stevie Nicks dropped out of the ACL Music Festival lineup on Tuesday, citing health concerns.
As of Tuesday evening, there are 2,820 active COVID-19 cases in Austin-Travis County. There are currently 569 people hospitalized, 188 patients in the ICU, and 128 people on ventilators. The area is also under Stage 5 COVID-19-risk, which recommends stricter social activities for those who are partially and/or unvaccinated.
Slide to the right to see the recommendations for vaccinated people, slide left to see them for partially or unvaccinated peopleOn Tuesday, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said there were only two available ICU beds in the 11-county region. Moreover, between July 26 and August 9, at least 759 people were admitted to local hospitals '-- the highest rate since January.
Austin City Limits' website indicates that guests must follow all posted safety instructions when they attend the festival but that attendees assume ''an inherent risk of exposure'' and shoulder all risks when they attend.
The author of the Cancel ACL Fest petition goes on to say, ''The pandemic is not over yet, the virus is still mutating. We must do all that we can to stop this super spreader event. Many people without vaccines will be able to attend, many people will become ill. We must ACT NOW!''
KXAN has reached out to Austin City Limits for comment.
VIDEO - Cats and Dogs Top List of COVID-19 Infected Animals in US '' NBC Bay Area
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 03:56
"If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself," warns the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of tracking and reporting COVID-19 in animals across the country.
The agency's advice: "Call your veterinarian and let them know you have been sick with COVID-19."
Through mid-July, USDA data shows that cats and dogs account for nearly 80% of animal infections in the U.S. '' 182 out of a total 217 cases. That total excludes minks, which have suffered thousands of deaths from COVID-19 at mink farms across the country. The chart below notes that 17 "mink premises" have had outbreaks during the pandemic.
Aside from house pets, USDA's Animal Health Program has found the SARS-Cov-2 virus in several types of big cats, otters and non-human primates. In the U.S. and worldwide, the animal species hit hardest by the pandemic is the mink. Denmark euthanized 17 million minks last November when researchers discovered the virus had spread from humans to the minks '' and then back to humans. The virus apparently mutated in the large mink farm population and then found its way back to workers handling the animals.
Getty ImagesIn this Oct. 9, 2020, file photo, Minks are seen at a farm in Gjol, northern Denmark. When they discovered a Covid-19 outbreak in Minks, Danish health officials euthanized healthy and infected minks to make sure the infection didn't spread.
The state of Utah reported nearly 10,000 mink deaths from COVID-19 last fall, which raises the concern: can the virus find an animal host, rearrange itself into a new variant and then spread to other animals and humans?
We know that sometimes cats may be able to get severe disease and die from the infection, but it's very rare.
Dr. Jane Sykes, professor of medicine and epidemiology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine''There is some evidence experimentally that when you infect cats, they can transmit it to other cats,'' said Dr. Jane Sykes, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the UC Davis Veterinary Hospital.
Once infected, Sykes said cats can shed virus.
''That potentially could get transmitted, so there's still the potential, but there's no evidence right now that animals are an important source of infection for humans," Sykes said.
The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine sees more than 60,000 patients each year and has more than 125 board-certified veterinarians and 115 residents.
The main concern, for now, is infected humans will make their pets sick. Research shows cats catching the virus at higher rates.
''One of the reasons why cats may be more susceptible is they often are very close to people's faces when they're sleeping in beds with people,'' said Sykes.
"It's common for animals to get infected in households that have Covid" said Dr. Jane Sykes, professor of veterinary medicine at UC Davis.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland euthanized one cat because it became very sick with COVID-19, but recent studies show the vast majority of infected cats and dogs have mild symptoms or none at all.
At the Plant and Animal Health Agency in Surrey, England, scientists found that an animal's vulnerability to the virus may depend on the presence of ACE2 receptors, which are the proteins that allow the coronavirus to infect a cell. The location of these receptors in the animal's body and how many there are seem to play a major role in how sick an animal gets with COVID-19. Minks have the receptors in their lower respiratory tract, while cats have fewer receptors distributed higher up in their breathing system.
''The important point is this infection is spreading from people to the animals, not animals back to people,'' said Sykes.
But since viruses can mutate quickly, a new variant, whether it comes from animals or people, can change everything.
What if a variant arises that is a lot more infectious for people's companion animals?
Dr. Jane Sykes, professor of medicine and epidemiology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine''I think the concern would be what if a variant arises that is a lot more infectious for peoples' companion animals, and that can be transmitted back to people,'' said Sykes.
Canadian scientists at Ontario Veterinary College found that dogs infected with Covid-19 tended to have mild symptoms.
Right now, there's no evidence the delta variant can spread to animals and back to people, but Sykes says it's crucial scientists continue to keep a close eye on any variants and their impact on all animals.
For CDC guidance on how to treat a pet if you suspect they have contracted COVID-19, click here.
VIDEO - Dr Lord Sir Dan of C, PHD, BA Hons, Gold Medalist on Twitter: "''We are trying to protect the vaccinated.'' Lol - I thought the vaccine was supposed to do that! https://t.co/UXbc6RKpK6" / Twitter
Thu, 12 Aug 2021 00:27
Dr Lord Sir Dan of C, PHD, BA Hons, Gold Medalist : ''We are trying to protect the vaccinated.''Lol - I thought the vaccine was supposed to do that!https://t.co/UXbc6RKpK6
Tue Aug 10 17:13:13 +0000 2021
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Wed Aug 11 23:30:20 +0000 2021
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VIDEO - 'US citizen has no right to free speech?' State Dept spokesperson grilled over Snowden - YouTube
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 21:07
VIDEO - Unearthed video shows a naked Hunter Biden claiming Russian drug dealers stole his laptop | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 20:43
Hunter Biden claimed Russians stole another one of his laptops for blackmail while he was close to overdosing in a Las Vegas hotel room, DailyMail.com can reveal.
The alleged incident would mean Hunter lost a total of three computers - the first abandoned at a Delaware computer store and the second seized by federal agents - each likely to hold sensitive information on President Joe Biden and the embarrassing pictures, videos and communications of his son.
The third laptop still appears to be missing '' and was taken by Russian drug dealers after they partied with Hunter in Vegas, he told a prostitute in a conversation caught on camera.
After filming himself having sex with the woman using his laptop in January 2019, Hunter left the camera rolling as he recounted a Vegas bender in which he spent '18 days going round from penthouse suite to penthouse suite,' sometimes costing $10,000 a night.
'I spent f***ing crazy amounts of money,' Hunter said. 'I was with these guys. The one guy was, not like you anyway'... each night he'd be like 'there's going to be so many people here, crazy f***ing party' and each night it's nobody.'
Hunter Biden claims Russian drug dealers stole another one of his laptops for blackmail while he was close to overdosing in a Vegas hotel room in 2018. Video obtained by DailyMail.com shows Hunter with a naked hooker in 2019, explaining how he believed his laptop was stolen
After filming himself having sex with the woman using his laptop in January 2019, Hunter left the camera rolling as he recounted a Vegas bender in which he spent '18 days going round from penthouse suite to penthouse suite,' sometimes costing $10,000 a night
Throughout the video Hunter and the unidentified hooker appear to be doing drugs off the bedside table
Hunter said it was after that debauched night he realized his computer was missing. 'I think he's the one that stole my computer,' he said
The alleged incident would mean Hunter lost a total of three computers, each likely to hold sensitive information on President Joe Biden
Hunter's claims raise the possibility that he was targeted as a vulnerable conduit to Joe Biden as part of a foreign intelligence operation.
His 2015 Macbook Pro became infamous after he abandoned it at a Delaware computer store two years ago.
DailyMail.com obtained a copy of its hard drive, commissioned experts who verified its authenticity, and exposed evidence of shocking corruption and illegal activity in its contents.
Hunter's claims raise the possibility that he was targeted as a vulnerable conduit to Joe Biden as part of a foreign intelligence operation
A second laptop belonging to the president's son was reportedly seized by federal agents when they raided the office of his friend, disgraced psychiatrist Keith Ablow, last year.
Two sources told NBC that the DEA found the device when executing a search warrant on Ablow's Massachusetts office after he was accused of professional misconduct and had his medical license suspended.
Ablow has not been charged with a crime and the laptop was returned to Hunter's lawyer.
Hunter described how his third laptop was 'stolen' one night during the summer 2018 bender when he almost overdosed on drugs.
'I went out to the hot tub by myself, which hangs over the edge of the f***ing top floor, with glass, it's ridiculous.
'And so I'm sitting there and that's the last I remember. And I don't ever pass out, ever.
'I wake up and the only people that are there are Miguel, the guy frantically running round gathering things up, ok '' and Miguel, and Pierce, this guy, his friend.
'They had kicked everybody out. And they had cleaned up the entire place, everything ok? And they were getting ready to leave, and I woke up. And there was this Russian 35-year-old, really nice, pure brunette.
'She refused to leave and they wouldn't call an ambulance. And they didn't know whether I was dead or not, at first.'
Hunter said it was after that debauched night he realized his computer was missing.
'I think he's the one that stole my computer. I think the three of them, the three guys that were like a little group. The dealer and his two guys, I took them everywhere. F***ing everywhere, crazy out of your mind sh**.'
The laptops contain embarrassing pictures, videos and communications of the president's son. 'They have videos of me doing this,' he said, referring to the filmed sex he just finished. 'They have videos of me doing crazy f***ing sex f***ing, you know'
The president's son told the prostitute that the allegedly stolen laptop was also full of compromising sex videos.
'They have videos of me doing this,' he said, referring to the filmed sex he just finished. 'They have videos of me doing crazy f***ing sex f***ing, you know.
'My computer, I had taken tons of like, just left like that cam on. And he would always put in a passcode and all that, you know what I mean? It was f***ing crazy sh**. And somebody stole it during that period of time. He did all this kind of like pretend search and sh**.
The prostitute asked Hunter if he was worried the Russian alleged thieves would try to 'blackmail' him.
Hunter replied: 'Yeah in some way yeah.'
'My dad [inaudible] running for president,' he told her in a hushed voice. 'He is. I talk about it all the time.
'If they do, he also knows I make like a gazillion dollars.'
Hunter appeared to be dismayed that if the video was sold by the alleged thieves to porn or news companies he would be unable to cash in on the explicit videos himself.
In the video Hunter, seen Sunday with his wife Melissa Cohen and their one-year-old son Beau Jr., appeared dismayed that if the video was sold by the alleged thieves to porn or news companies he would be unable to cash in on the explicit videos himself
'I'm worried he gets the money up front and maybe it doesn't do a million dollars, maybe it does three. Maybe nobody wants to see me naked,' he said.
'Maybe it's 'news interest' and because my dad's a public figure they say 'we don't have to pay you anything because you're of interest in regular news.'
'I think you should just beat him to the punch,' the prostitute replied. 'I think you should release your own video.'
Photos on the laptop hard drive obtained by DailyMail.com include pictures of a woman's Russian passport, and photos of Hunter topless pulling the woman's brunette hair while she kneels on a bed.
Other photos show the woman and three young men driving to Hunter's former Hollywood Hills rented home, drinking and partying by the pool, and two women naked with Hunter by the pool.
It is unclear whether the Russian woman and the three men are the same people Hunter accused of stealing his laptop.
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF HUNTER BIDEN'S LAPTOP CONFESSION TO A HOOKER Hunter : 'You know what I just thought of something. When I was in California [inaudible] before I met you. I was with these guys. The one guy was, not like you anyway.
'Primarily my source, ok? And I spent fu**ing crazy amounts of money. I went to Las Vegas and he said it would be one day. I made him promise me it would be one day. I hate Las Vegas.
'And so literally after 18 days going round from penthouse suite to penthouse suite [inaudible] four different hotels, and thousands of dollars. I didn't even know. He had my credit card, he said we got half off, I was like great. Then I found out it was $10,000 a night. I'm like what.
'And each night he'd be like 'there's going to be so many people here, crazy fu**ing party' and each night it's nobody.
'Hold on I'm peeing.
'And so that's when I went into the pool. Into the tub. In the hot tub, above, in Palms that hangs over the side [Inaudible] more than I usually do, way more than that [inaudible]
'And I went out to the hot tub by myself, which hangs over the edge of the fu**ing top floor, with glass, it's ridiculous.
'And so I'm sitting there and that's the last I remember. And I don't ever pass out, ever.
'I wake up and the only people that are there are Miguel, the guy frantically running round gathering things up, ok '' and Miguel, and Pierce, this guy, his friend.
'So anyway, and they had kicked everybody out. And they had cleaned up the entire place, everything ok? And they were getting ready to leave, and I woke up. And there was this Russian 35-year-old, really nice, pure brunette.
'[Inaudible] I don't know how long. She refused to leave until they '' she refused to leave and they wouldn't call an ambulance. And they didn't know whether I was dead or not, at first.
Hooker : ' They couldn't just come over and check [inaudible]'
Hunter : 'They checked to see if I was breathing. When I finally showed signs of breath, at first I wasn't breathing, I was in the fu**ing pool face down, they don't know how long.
'And she told me that they don't, they were like 'we thought we'd get everybody out, because you know we didn't want, if we had to call, we didn't want everybody'...' And she went no. They demanded that [inaudible]
'Two months before'... [inaudible]
Hooker : 'Continue with the story please.'
Hunter : 'Anyway my computer, I had taken tons of like, just left like that cam on. And he would always put in a passcode and all that, you know what I mean? It was fu**ing crazy sh*t. And somebody stole it during that period of time. He did all this kind of like pretend search and sh*t.
'The last thing he sent me was $2,000 worth of stuff in an Uber and he sent me a [inaudible] with the Uber, and I had to send the money to a cash app or something....just waiting
Hooker : '...In Las Vegas [inaudible]'
Hunter : 'I think he's the one that stole my computer. I think the three of them, the three guys that were like a little, like group. The dealer and his two guys, I took them everywhere. Fu**ing everywhere, crazy out of your mind sh*t.
'The Russian [inaudible] she'd walk out with a fu**ing bathing suit in her hand.
'They have videos of me doing this. They have videos of me doing crazy fu**ing sex fu**ing, you know.
Hooker : 'How long ago did this happen?'
Hunter : 'Summer.'
Hooker : 'So it would have been out already if they-'
Hunter : 'No no no, because my dad [inaudible] running for president. He is, he is, he is. I talk about it all the time. If they do, he also knows I make like a gazillion dollars.'
Hooker : 'They'd try to blackmail you?'
Hunter : 'Yeah in some way yeah.'
VIDEO - 'Certainly inappropriate': Gainesville High School teacher scrutinized for social media post
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:50
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A Facebook post by a Gainesville High School teacher said students not wearing masks in his class will be treated differently than other students.
RELATED STORY: DeSantis considering withholding salaries of school district officials who mandate masks
Among comments written in the post, Joe Waddell said he will give extra credit to students wearing face masks and force students without masks to sit in the back of the class.
Facebook Post (WCJB)In Alachua County, only students with a signed doctor's note will be allowed not to wear masks. District Spokesperson Jackie Johnson tells us the post is ''certainly inappropriate.'' The school's principal is addressing the matter with Waddell.
Copyright 2021 WCJB. All rights reserved. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
VIDEO - Revealing Covid - Full Length
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:41
MalenyFreeThinkers Published August 6, 2021 17,215 Views 92 rumbles
Rumble '-- Revealing Covid - A presentation made by a retired medical doctor with 30 years experience as a medical practitioner.
1. The Origins of the Covid Virus2. The PCR Test3. The Epidemiology of Covid 194. Vaccine Technologies5. Actions you can take
Associated links:https://www.openvaers.com/covid-data/mortalityhttps://www.couriermail.com.au..../lifestyle/qweekend/
8m57sMaking a CAKE of a Hairbrush with 100% Edible HairSideserf Cake Studio
14sDog poses for video with ball hanging out of his mouthgoldenboymacky
9sHusky imitates siren after hearing ambulance drive byWilliesiberianhusky
18sSweet pups do perfect circle for treatsSamsonAndFriends
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30sOrphaned howler monkey is such a messy eaterNataliaCara
2m49sFriendly humpback whale gives woman the experience of a lifetimeWildCreatures
6sAdorable 2-year-old gives savage response to mom's questionworkingwithmonolids
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15sBaby busts out some hilariously epic dance movesBeltranemm
VIDEO - Psaki uses 'Gen Z' TikTok influencer Benny Drama to push shots in arms | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:37
In a bid to promote Covid-19 vaccines among young people, the White House has recruited Gen Z TikTok influencers, one who dropped another spoof video on Monday.
Benito Skinner, a comedian whose TikTok handle is @bennydrama7 and boasts over 845,000 followers, posted a video Monday which featured 'A day in my life as a White House intern <3,' after the trend popular on the social media app.
The video was also posted to Instagram and Twitter.
Skinner, flashing long white nails and dressed in a multi-patterned suit as he talks on the phone, says 'One sec, Democracy is calling, see you daddy.'
In another moment, he walks down the hallway shouting, 'We did it, Joe,' imitating the viral clip of Vice President Kamala Harris calling President Biden to say the same thing after their White House win.
In another, Skinner enters White House press secretary Jen Psaki's office 'Jenny, I booked you a nail appointment love,' he says. 'I didn't tell you to do that,' Psaki says. 'It's called initiative,' Skinner says.
Benito Skinner, above, whose TikTok handle is @bennydrama7 and boasts over 845,000 followers, posted a comedic video Monday which featured 'A day in my life as a White House intern <3,'
Skinner, above, boasts over 845,000 followers on TikTok alone
In another moment, he walks down the hallway shouting, 'We did it, Joe,' imitating the viral clip of Vice President Kamala Harris calling President Biden to say the same thing after their White House win
In another, Skinner enters White House press secretary Jen Psaki's office 'Jenny, I booked you a nail appointment love. 'I didn't tell you to do that,' Psaki, above, responds
Later in the clip, Psaki tells Skinner: 'We've come a long way in our fight against this virus. We've vaccinated 160 million Americans-- are you getting this all down?'
In another shot where Skinner is seated with his feet up on the desk, he says, 'We need to get shots in the arms of every single American.'
The video was filmed on July 20, a White House official told DailyMail.com, before mask requirements were reinstated. The official said Skinner 'cares deeply' about getting people vaccinated and has a huge reach with Gen Z.
Skinner is set to post more photos from his White House visit on Tuesday as he continues to highlight vaccinations.
'Is Olivia Rodrigo still here?' Skinner asks at one point.
In July Psaki invited the 18-year-old pop sensation up to the podium to brief the media on the importance of vaccines ahead of her meeting with President Biden and Dr. Fauci.
The video drew some jeering on social media.
Next they're going to waterboard you till you get vaccinated, though there's no way that would be worse than watching this!!!' Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter.
'I've had my vaccine and I regret my decision,' one Twitter user replied. 'This video gave me breakthrough Covid,' replied another.
Rodrigo's appearance at the White House had been another effort to utilize social media power to reach Gen Z.
Rodrigo boasts a weighty 25 million followers across her TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram and has earned quite the star status in recent months following the viral success of her debut single, Driver's License, which she followed up with the release of her number one album, Sour, earlier this year.
'First I want to say I am beyond honored and humbled to be here today to help spread the message about the importance of COVID vaccinations,' she said.
'I am in awe of the work that President Biden and Dr. Fauci have done and I am happy to help them by supporting this important initiative.'
The TikTok was released the same day as Psaki was featured in a glowing Vogue profile, where the press secretary describes how she hates to be called 'nice.'
'It is like nails on a chalkboard,' she said. 'And it still happens. I was introduced to a foreign delegation in the hallway the other day as 'This is Jen. You may have seen her do the briefings. She's a really nice person.' I'm like, really? You can't think of a better description?'
She called the word 'sexist and a little diminishing,' adding 'it's also this desire to put people in a box. Yes, sometimes I'm friendly and joyful, and sometimes I'm tough, and sometimes I'm straightforward.'
VIDEO - Alan Moore on Magic - YouTube
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:31
VIDEO - "Herd immunity is not a possibility" | Professor Andrew Pollard - dir. of Oxford Vaccination Group
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 16:06
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VIDEO - Fauci: I know people like their freedom but mandates should be done.
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 15:49
TrumpWonByALotBIGLY Published August 10, 2021 4,230 Views 12 rumbles
Rumble '-- Fauci goes full nazi.
21sFauci Says Mandates Should Be Done Despite People Need Personal Liberties.!!Top Viral Media
1m04sDr. Fauci: ''...mandates should be done.''pray4america
20sObama speech saying people should surrender their rights.Frankietweb
1m32sInteresting facts people should know...This & That
5m41sPeople should be judged by their actions, not by their racekeeparkansaslegal
43sDr Fauci said people SHOULD NOT be wearing masks.LynnArizona
1m01sFauci Says Vaccinated People Should Wear Masks to Stay SafeTerrence K Williams
59s7 - Should Fauci be ProsecutedRepublic Keeper
2m31sFauci Flips AGAIN And Says People Should Double MaskDinesh D'Souza
1m16sTony Fauci Should Be Very WorriedBannons War Room
VIDEO - Mike Lindell Cyber Symposium - Col. Phil Waldron "Your Wake Up Call"
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 14:59
Rumble '-- The opening video from Mike Lindell's Cyber Symposium featuring Col. Phil Waldron.
VIDEO - 'It's really out of date': Austin mayor responds to police staffing petition | kvue.com
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 14:32
Save Austin Now announced last week that the City of Austin has certified its petition to put an initiative on the November ballot related to police staffing.
AUSTIN, Texas '-- Funding and staffing for the Austin Police Department continue to be hot-button issues in Austin. Last week, political action committee Save Austin Now announced that the City of Austin has certified its petition to put an initiative on the November ballot related to police staffing.
If passed, the proposed ordinance would require a minimum of two police officers per 1,000 population and it would require an additional 40 hours of post-cadet class training hours per year.
But not everyone is on Save Austin Now's side, including Austin Mayor Steve Adler. During an interview on KVUE Daybreak Monday morning, the mayor discussed why he's against the PAC's initiative and responded to a comment Save Austin Now's co-founder Matt Mackowiak made about him during an interview with KVUE.
You can find a transcript of that portion of Adler's interview with KVUE's Yvonne Nava below:
Yvonne Nava: "While that initial [City budget] proposal also included more funding for the Austin Police Department, ultimately Austin's voters could decide to make their own changes to the department through Save Austin Now's certified petition. It aims to boost police staffing, set up training for officers, among other things. So, you're against this measure. Can you explain to us why?
Austin Mayor Steve Adler: "Well, because our police chief is against it. He has said '' the main issue in this petition is adopting a permanent staffing plan for police that our police chief does not support. It's really out of date, if it was ever appropriate. It would require a budget increase of $150 to $300 million over a five-year period of time. And with a 3.5% cap on our budgets now, this part of our budget would grow faster than the overall budget.
There's no way to accomplish it without either raising taxes or cutting programs like fire, EMS, or libraries or parks. It's just a standard that I'm not sure there's anybody that supports it other than the police union and the folks that tried to gather the signatures for the petition."
Nava: And staying with that subject: Last week, we spoke with Save Austin Now's co-founder Matt Mackowiak about this petition, the reason behind it. And Mr. Mackowiak said Austin has never been less safe as it is today and that he mentioned you particularly. So, if you could take a listen to this and then I'd like to get your comment afterwards. But let's take a listen.
[Clip with Mackowiak plays. Mackowiak says, "Keep in mind, our mayor has said he believes he wants to get to a day where we have no police at all. He said that publicly. That is a ridiculous statement. We have to ensure we have adequate police staffing and adequate training for our police department to ensure that our communities are safe."]
Nava: How do you respond to that?
Adler: "Well, like so much of this stuff I think that this chair of the Republican Party is saying now, that's absolutely not true. I've never said that. Police play a really important function in our city, and we need to support our police. And I, and I do. That's not what this petition is about. This petition is about a staffing level for police that goes beyond anything that '' that almost everybody thinks is in any way reasonable.
It's really important to our community, which is one of the safest big cities in the country '' I know this looking at the data. Cities across the country are trying to reach the kind of numbers that we have in Austin. Crime is going up to Austin, it's going up in cities across the country. And our policies are not responsible for the increases across the country. We think there's something that's related to the pandemic. But we have work to do there. But it is not a question of having a permanent staffing level that would break our budget."
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thehardhatintellectual : Newsom not doing so hot 🂠https://t.co/LcTx2jJOSZ
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Oliraf : @MelanieMusey The fact is we don't like you.
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dailybisquit : @MelanieMusey This isn't fearThis is Narcissistic AngerðŸºðŸº
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Olivia : @MelanieMusey Texans don't pay state income tax.
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Stuart : @MelanieMusey Sounds pissed and with such a huge surplus in cash, it seems to me that some of that should be going back to the taxpayers!!
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AntonyThothlightworker : @MelanieMusey @ScottAdamsSays So coherent
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Tired of Being Tired : @MelanieMusey Guess Gav doesn't know that Texas doesn't have state income tax.
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Tinker ðŸ‘"🏽''‚¸ ن : @MelanieMusey He sounds like Biden.
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JWright : @MelanieMusey Jerk #RecallGavinNewsom
Wed Aug 11 13:30:05 +0000 2021
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