U.S. Used a Special Hellfire Missile in Afghanistan Airstrike on Islamic State - WSJ
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 12:03
WASHINGTON'--The Pentagon used a special Hellfire missile that packs no explosives to strike Islamic State militants in Afghanistan on Saturday in retaliation for a suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport last week, according to two U.S. officials.
The airstrike, carried out by a Reaper drone flown from the Persian Gulf region, killed two militants associated with the Afghanistan offshoot of the Islamic State extremist group, and injured a third individual.
The Pentagon declined to release the identities of any of the individuals targeted. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Kabul airport attack that killed 13 American troops and nearly 200 Afghan civilians.
The missile used by the U.S. in the airstrike, called an R9X, is inert. Instead of exploding, the weapon ejects a halo of six large blades stowed inside the skin of the missile, which deploy at the last minute to shred the target of the strike, allowing military commanders to pinpoint their target and reduce the possibility for civilian casualties.
The use of the special Hellfire missile, which inside the military is referred to colloquially as ''the flying Ginsu,'' recalling the popular knives sold on TV infomercials in the 1970s, hadn't been disclosed. The weapon also has been dubbed the ''ninja bomb.''
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At the strike site in Nangarhar, Rahamunullah, a neighbor said three people were killed and four others wounded, including a woman, contradicting the Pentagon's assessment.
The strike appeared to cause limited damage to a house. Video from the scene viewed by The Wall Street Journal showed a small blast hole outside the home next to a fire-charred auto rickshaw. The walls were pockmarked with shrapnel, and the windows of the building had been blown out. Clothes, sandals and furniture were tossed around the rooms.
The Pentagon declined to say whether there were multiple strikes, but characterized the operation as a single mission, leaving open the possibility that multiple strikes occurred, including one using the R9X missile.
The strike, in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, was in retaliation for the Kabul airport attack, and President Biden said Saturday more such strikes were likely. Pentagon officials wouldn't specify how the militants targeted were connected to the airport attack, or whether they were involved in planning a future attack. Other officials said they were associated with both.
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Mr. Biden said there was a likelihood of another attack from Islamic State in the coming hours as the U.S. military attempts to evacuate as many Americans and Afghans as possible.
The Pentagon has said it is planning to stick to the Aug. 31 deadline, when all U.S. personnel and military forces are to be withdrawn from inside the country.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the existence of the special missile in 2019. It carries an inert warhead and is designed to plunge through the tops of cars and buildings to reach its target, while causing minimal harm to nearby property and individuals.
The U.S. government had never publicly acknowledged the weapon's existence. A number of officials have described the missile and its use to the Journal.
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The weapon is known to have been used in February 2017 to kill an Egyptian national in Syria serving as al Qaeda's No. 2 and in January 2019 in Yemen to kill a man accused by the U.S. of being behind the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in a Yemeni port.
U.S. Special Operations forces used it again last year in northwest Syria to kill the de facto leader of the local al Qaeda branch, the New York Times reported at the time.
'--Dion Nissenbaum contributed to this article.
Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com and Warren P. Strobel at Warren.Strobel@wsj.com
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What Death? The Glaringly Obvious Secondary Endpoint Error on the COMIRNATY Label - by Covid1984 Unmasked - Covid1984's Newsletter
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 11:40
On August 23rd the FDA released the label for the new BLA granted to Pfizer for its COMIRNATY vaccine that states on page 18 in Table 6 there was only 1 ''First Severe COVID-19 Occurrence'' based on the FDA's predefined criteria for evaluating this secondary endpoint. In the same table it says that there were 0 according to the CDC criteria.
Source: COMIRNATY Package Insert, page 18, Table 6
Note that Pfizer is presenting data on patients 7 days after dose 2 in the above graph. Just to make my point absolutely clear, I want to point out that Pfizer is still essentially reporting that same 1 case in everyone who got the drug after dose 1 as well in the recent presentation of a pre-print of their 6 month follow up:
Source: SUPPLEMENTARY APPENDIX to Six Month Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine, Page 15, Table S6
This table from the supplementary appendix corresponds to the first column of the table in the package insert which is based on the pre-defined FDA protocol, not the CDC definition. If you move the timeframe back to the first dose, Pfizer still is reporting only one severe COVID-19 case. Basically there are only 7 cases that were identified in the placebo group prior to the week after dose 2, and according to Pfizer none were in the vaccine group. Note also that this table contains more patients and events since it includes ages 12 and up, while the label only addresses the formal BLA approved ages of 16 and up.
Also note that all patients were included whether they had evidence of prior exposure to COVID-19 or not in the first table, which is not consistent with the originally defined secondary endpoint which was supposed to focus on those without exposure to COVID-19 as can be seen in the analysis as it was supposed to appear in the panel briefing document on the earlier, less complete, in Table 11:
Source: VRBPAC 12/10/2020 Briefing Document, page 31, Tables 11 and 12
You can see in Table 11 that it says ''without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection'' on the original secondary analysis, just like the primary analysis. Table 12 is where they add in patients with with evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection to get 1 versus 4 instead of 1 versus 3. This is a side point, I just wanted you to notice how the FDA let them change how they displayed their secondary efficacy endpoint to very slightly boost the results in their favor in the final BLA. That was utterly unnecessary, unusual, and if they were going to do that, why not at least do it with more data as it was presented on page 31 in the original briefing document.
The CDC criteria was not even put in the original briefing document, as you can see, because that is not what the FDA told them to look for. The sponsor did bring this data up at the FDA Panel Meeting because they were desperate to make the data look better because they missed their original secondary endpoint at the first analysis presented to the panel. I have to admit, I like that criteria better as well as a hospitalization is a better indication of severe disease than a pulse oximeter reading of below 93 and a high heart rate. The FDA probably had a problem with a hospitalization being subjective, and I can see that point of view as well. An ICU admission is a lot less ambiguous - that is not just severe, but a critical COVID-19 case.
That is not my main point. I am just trying to demonstrate here more evidence of how the FDA was bending over backwards to accommodate Pfizer. I rarely see this, but it has been a while admittedly since I listened to my last panel meeting.
I just want to establish if you look at all the data, both on the label and in the 6-month follow up that they are claiming according to the FDA criteria, only 1 person had severe COVID-19, and that was both at dose 1, and 7 days after dose 2, with and without evidence of prior infection. It is not like there is an event that is missing because you went from dose 1 to 7 days after dose 2 as an out for what I am about to show you.
The problem is, based on other published reports of the data if they are also to be believed, this cannot possibly be true. The number severe COVID-19 cases in the secondary endpoint has to be at least 2, under the FDA criteria, not 1.
We know from the document submitted to the FDA Advisory panel in December that there was one ''first severe COVID-19 occurrence'' in the vaccine arm as can be seen on page 31, Table 11 of that document (shown above). Of this particular case, it was said right above this table on the prior page, ''The vaccine recipient who had severe COVID-19 disease met the severe case definition because oxygen saturation at the COVID-19 illness visit was 93% on room air. The subject was not hospitalized, did not seek further medical care, and did not have risk factors for severe disease.''
You can see it for yourself here:
Source: VRBPAC 12/10/2020 Briefing Document, page 30, Severe COVID-19 Cases.
So this patient clearly did not die, and would be consistent with the one patient shown on the FDA label that was not classified as severe COVID-19 as per the CDC standards.
A death on the other hand, would be considered ''severe'' by both criteria. And just in case there is any doubt on that, here is the footnotes to the tables I showed you above that explain both the predefined FDA criteria for severe COVID-19 and the CDC criteria:
Source: COMIRNATY Package Insert, page 18, Footnotes to Table 6
Death is listed clearly under both criteria as the last bullet point under each heading. So if you have a COVID-19 patient, that dies as a result of the condition, that person has to be counted as a severe COVID-19 case. I would not think anyone would have to even say that. A death is about as severe as it gets. But, apparently not for Pfizer investigators'...
And a COVID-19 death is exactly what we have in the vaccine group when you look at the pre-print for the 6 month followup data from Pfizer. On the supplementary tables on page 12, Table S4, ''Reported Cause of Death'' in the vaccine arm there is exactly one ''COVID-19 pneumonia'' listed as cause of death. Interestingly enough, there are two cases of ''COVID-19'' listed as a cause of death for the placebo arm.
Look for yourself in the table below:
Source: SUPPLEMENTARY APPENDIX to Six Month Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine, Page 12, Table S4
Please note that Table S4 above says to ''to Unblinding'' and the Table 6 on the label says ''During the Placebo-Controlled Follow-up.'' I am trying to figure out any artful use of words that Pfizer might try to come up with and explain this away. But to most people ''unblinding'' is the exact end date of the ''placebo-controlled follow-up.'' The best case the FDA has in my opinion is to claim the death happened from dose 1 to 7 days after dose 2 and it was Pfizer that lied in its six-month report, and not the FDA. That is an explanation I would not be buying though given (1) Pfizer itself lied showing the data itself was not sound to begin with and (2) in December they had 21,314 evaluable patients in the first report (see Table 12) with that same 1 adverse event and there were no COVID-19 deaths reported in either arm at the time. So most of their total 21,926 patients in the vaccine arm (COMIRNATY Package Insert, page 12), were already past the second dose without a death, and I imagine there are things like protocol violations and other such exclusions that account for a large part of the small remaining difference. I am just not buying it.
A COVID-19 pneumonia death is a COVID-19 death regardless of what is on the certificate. If I wanted to be cynical I might say that Pfizer intentionally had this listed as a ''COVID-19 pneumonia'' death instead of a ''COVID-19'' death because they somehow think that way it would not count as a ''COVID-19 death'' and thus not need to be included in the severe COVID-19 cases. However, you would not expect the FDA or any independent arbiter to let them get away with that. If a person dies as a result of COVID-19, that is a COVID-19 death. End of story, you would think.
However, ignore this very ''COVID-19 pneumonia'' death is exactly what they did! The pulse ox case and the ''COVID-19 pneumonia death'' equals 2 severe COVID-19 cases total, not one as per FDA criteria and one for CDC criteria, not the zero reported.
Severe COVID-19 was a pre-defined secondary endpoint of the trial; see page 30 of the FDA panel briefing document: ''The secondary efficacy endpoints evaluate the VE of BNT162b2 for the prevention of COVID-19 disease from 14 days after Dose 2 and based on the CDC's definition of COVID-19 disease from 7 and 14 days after Dose 2.'' The secondary and primary endpoints literally should get the most scrutiny of all the data submitted since those are the most important pre-specified endpoints. Teams of people within the FDA are supposed to be given the job of scrubbing through this data to make sure it is accurate.
It is just unbelievable to me that given any normal review, a mistake that is as OBVIOUS as this one could be made if an ACTUAL REVIEW were undertaken by the FDA to make sure Pfizer was not fudging the data.
And this is based on the data we actually have! How many mistakes are there if we got to see the full data set the FDA presumably has access to?
How many of the 6,947 events in the vaccine arm (4,396 in ages 16-55 plus 2,551 in 56 and older, see page 12 of the label) should have been labeled ''severe'' but were not because Pfizer was trying to minimize the severity of the effects?
How many of the 262 severe adverse events listed in the pre-print (page 11, table S3) should have been labeled serious, because Pfizer did not consider them appropriately disabling to normal lives? Why do we not see number of severe adverse events on the label at all?!
Did Pfizer even use the normally accepted definitions for ''severe'' vs. ''serious'' you would expect in an FDA study? I would love to be on a panel and ask them specific questions about how they would grade certain adverse events like this one and many of the other horror stories that social media is looking to scrub from the internet. I would not even be totally shocked if they did not even classify something like this as ''severe'' given a ''death'' is not even ''severe'' in the minds of the Pfizer investigators.
If they underreported at least one severe COVID-19 cases, are there other ways that Pfizer avoiding reporting to boost the difference between treatment and placebo arms?
In the first report to the FDA panel, there two ''suspected COVID-19'' hospitalizations, both in the vaccinated group that tested RT-PCR negative, which is exactly what you might expect if a virus mutates, as the PCR primers test were designed against the RNA genetic code of very specific strains of COVID-19.
Source: VRBPAC 12/10/2020 Briefing Document, page 42, Suspected COVID-19 Cases
These two potential COVID-19 cases appeared as adverse events instead of severe COVID-19 as per the CDC criteria (it is not clear if they would meet the protocol criteria), and to be fair, one probably is just a reaction to the vaccine; but that is almost a worse outcome from the manufacturer's perspective.
I am quite curious to know if there were other severe suspected COVID-19 cases or hospitalizations that were not listed due to a RT-PCR negative test at 6 months like there were on the interim report given to VRBPAC in December. That information is not on the label, and it would be quite interesting to know in terms of real world efficacy. I have another article I plan to write on that very subject, and it is something I am shocked no one else has looked at since the original briefing document came out in December 2020 because this was one of the first things that stuck out in my mind.
The Credibility of the FDA Irreparably Tarnished
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to be an independent mediator of data generated by manufacturers in registration studies. After all, every drug company has a financial incentive to doctor the numbers in order to gain approval of a medicine.
But this does not always happen. Sometimes agency decisions are driven by political considerations given drug companies give lots of money to politicians of both parties.
Don't believe me. Listen to the testimony of Dr. David J. Graham who spoke before Congress on this issue in 2004 after spending 20 years with the FDA talking about drugs that should have never been approved.
This was not a shock to me, because I was told the same thing by a consultant who focused on FDA issues in 2002. I was told that George W. Bush was furious Imclone's first BLA was turned down despite a poorly done trial, and that his administration exerted pressure on the agency to approve other drugs after this.
I had also seen drugs that should not have been approved prior to that. I told my parents not to take COX-2s in November 2001 right after seeing the original medical review document on Bextra; the medical reviewer expressed concerns with the 7-fold increase in thromboembolic events despite naproxen given in both arms (which Merck falsely speculated was cardioprotective in their trials) of a high dose sub-study. It should have never been approved, and it was only 3 years later both Bextra and Vioxx were taken off the market.
Aside from corporate profits for large political donors, having a pharmaceutical approved might even align with certain government goals, such as more control over people using a Nazi-like scheme of vaccine passports to control the movement and ability of people to conduct commerce.
It is like someone literally read about the ''666'' in the book of Revelations and thought, ''Man this is a good idea! We could control everyone that way. How do we get them to accept it? Scare them into thinking they are all going to die despite a general population mortality risk of only 0.009% over the course of Pfizer's study''
Indeed that appears to be the only reason to rush this BLA. The drug is widely available, and the FDA is letting public health officials get away with deceptive marketing campaigns that would SLAPPED DOWN hard if a pharmaceutical or supplement company sold things that way. ''X number of unvaccinated people died in X area this week. It did not have to be this way!'' when Pfizer has not even generated the data to show it has an impact on deaths (deaths were actually higher by 1 in the vaccine arm as you can see above in Table S4).
It was the legal push-backs against employers mandating an experimental vaccine that clearly affected the timing of this approval. This did not meet the normal standards for a vaccine approval, not by a long shot, and everyone knows it. The FDA should have taken their time to do things correctly, and not make obvious errors that make is clear to everyone this was a political decision. And Pfizer should not have rushed to cross everyone over so as to prevent there being any control group to truly be able to objectively assess both long term safety and efficacy. All remaining followup data is not just as anecdotal and unscientific as the VAERS data that the scientific community loves to discount.
And this was not even the first time this happened with this vaccine. The vaccine never even met the minimal standards set forth in the October 22, 2020 meeting for an EUA. The FDA also allowed Pfizer to define a primary that was not a realistic measure of the use of the product. Unfortunately for them, that same choice on the severe COVID-19 secondary endpoint came back to bite them, or I should say should have come back to bite them if the FDA were being objective on the original EUA. The FDA panel in December never had a substantive discussion of the primary two risks of this vaccine (1) the pathogenic priming / immune enhancement that prevented a safe vaccine from ever even progressing into humans for the related SARS-CoV1 virus despite the better part of two decades of research and (2) the long term safety of a completely novel set of vaccines that have never been used in large numbers of healthy patients before. I plan on putting up future articles on each item mentioned in this paragraph because they deserve their own discussions.
The FDA spent most of time discussing how to continue the follow up given Pfizer told the panel they would be prospectively contacting patients telling them they had a right to get the vaccine when the EUA was approved and available for their age/risk group.
What the FDA panelists should have done at that point was was say, ''There is a substantive public interest in knowing the exact and safety and efficacy profile of this vaccine. Based on the limited number severe COVID-19 cases in the placebo arm as per the pre-specified secondary endpoint (exactly 3 in the placebo arm, see Table 11 above) and there being no deaths in the trial data we have seen, there is no justification for an EUA because a randomized controlled trial is showing the estimates of COVID-19 morbidity presented to the FDA panel by government authorities are too high by almost an order of magnitude and the overall mortality risk from this disease is relatively minimal. This is not that pressing of a public health risk relative to the dangers from the mass use of therapeutic treament with an unknown long term safety and efficacy profile. This is especially true given the fact Pfizer is admitting that if we grant the EUA, it will basically prevent us from having blinded long term follow up data to actually answer the questions of whether the risks outweight the benefits.'' As promised, the data now is completely unblinded due to massive crossover. Now, we will never have good randomized long term safety and efficacy data on this vaccine. Any safety or efficacy data will be difficult to characterize because there is no control group to assess the unvaccinated.
The most intelligent comment on the subject was by one reviewer who told Pfizer that it is in your best interest that the follow-up continue blinded because the number of cases prevented would increase relative to short term side effects (improving the risk reward calculus), you can show how durable the response is. Then people will feel less hesitant to get the vaccine with real randomized long term data, without getting the (correct) impression, this was rushed to market.
And with the publication of the 6 month data, we now know, based on the data we have (we never got the final severe adverse event data in the label), that the absolute difference in severe adverse events over baseline for the vaccine was more than 3 times the absolute difference in baseline for severe COVID-19 cases. And, at the end of the day, that is what you care about '' the number of severe events prevented is more than the severe adverse reactions. But your odds of an adverse severe outcome are actually 41.6% worse if taking the vaccine based on the data in the 6 month preprint but hidden from the label! And, the difference seen in the trial highly statistically significant by my math.
It should be the burden of the manufacturer to prove the opposite, a statistically significant benefit in severe disease prevented over severe adverse events, and if the only sample shows a 41.6% increase in severe outcomes over placebo, an approval should not even be contemplated.
Some people would argue that severe adverse events are not the same as severe COVD-19. That is true. But how do you know which is more severe? A non-serious pulse oximeter reading of 92 with no ICU or hospital visit can be considered ''severe'' from the protocols set forth in the study. And that would be ''severe,'' not serious. Would you rather have that or 5 months and counting of your life with constant pain worse than you have ever had like Sally Kirkland right after her second jab? I would rather survive the ICU with critical COVID-19 than have a permanent vaccine injury like that. Some would probably prefer death over constant pain! An injury does not have to be ''serious'' or ''life-threatening'' to make life unbearable.
How would Pfizer label this? Given everything I have seen from Pfizer, if I were a betting man I would say ''severe adverse event'' not ''serious'' because it is not life threatening and it is in their best interest to most diminish any real life impairment that could potentially be considered ''serious'' under an FDA standard definition. After all, they apparently never even intended to disclose severe adverse events on the label since that information still is missing. It thus to their advantage to have a bias towards ''severe'' over ''serious.'' And we still do not know the final number on ''severe adverse events,'' only the data presented in the recent pre-print which was not complete based on updated data on total adverse events from the label.
This is why trust in the FDA is crucial. We are supposed to rely on our public health officials to hold these people accountable. Just based on the information we have on severe events without detail, objectively this drug should have never been approved '' the important treatment effect was too low, allowing severe adverse events to outnumber severe COVID-19 cases and the absolute numbers of death to be higher in the vaccine arm. And that is before we even talk about long term follow up data and pathogenic priming fears given what we know about attempts at creating vaccines in SARS and MERS.
Given the fact that the FDA let Pfizer publish what appears to be blatantly false data on its secondary endpoint on the label, no one should have any confidence that any of this data has not been thoroughly massaged by Pfizer with no push-back from reviewers.
Until we have 100% transparency into the data (particularly all the adverse events), a truly independent assessment thereof, and the proper long term follow up necessary for a treatment given to healthy patients to prevent an observed COVID-19 death rate of 0.009% over 4.3 months, no one should trust this vaccine, only that it was intentionally rushed through the process with no objective analysis or adherence to normal scientific procedures.
This is not Ebola. 0.009% is not a death rate that scares me. What scares me is what I am not being told and what the true motives are for going through this fear mongering charade, not supported by the randomized controlled data we have.
When government authorities make Alex Jones look like a genius by spreading what is obvious disinformation and implementing the same heavy-handed policies he predicted they would do for years, it is no surprise that people have taken all sorts of crazy anti-vaccine stories (including some people saying viruses do not even exist at all!) and they become credible in the eyes of the scientific illiterate. The scientific community and an overly biased media with their big tech enablers have no one to blame but themselves for the fact up to half the population are distrusting much of what they say while they often spread scientific misinformation and uncollaborated conspiracy theories as if it has to be true.
Mazda shuts down plants as cargo flights from Shanghai dry up - FreightWaves
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 11:38
(Updated Aug. 27, 10:30 A.M. ET, with new dates for Mazda plant idling.)
Cargo operations continue to deteriorate at Shanghai Pudong International Airport after the detection of another COVID case, as a key terminal operator functions with a skeleton crew and freighter airlines cancel more flights, logistics industry professionals say.
Many freight forwarders have stopped accepting bookings for Shanghai and are trying to divert flights under their contractual control to other airports, some of which have their own pandemic restrictions in place, adding to transit times.
Difficulty moving exports out of China's main cargo airport comes as peak shipping season for back-to-school and holiday products kicks in, but the ripple effects are widespread. Mazda Motor Corp. this week said it has suspended operations at Japanese manufacturing plants in Hiroshima and Hofu until the end of the month due to the uncertainty about the resumption of air cargo services.
Flexport, a freight management company based in San Francisco, planned to resume a dedicated charter flight operated by Atlas Air this weekend after securing one of the few remaining ramp slots at the cargo terminal, but it got yanked Thursday morning after the positive test, said Neel Jones Shah, the global head of air cargo.
Shanghai International Airport Services, which handles ground operations for major cargo carriers such as Air China, Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific, has now isolated its entire staff on the freighter side of the airport, he said.
Flexport contracts with Atlas Air (NASDAQ: AAWW) for three weekly cargo flights from Shanghai to Los Angeles. It has shifted two of the flights to Hong Kong and is trucking the freight there while implementing contingency plans for September.
''This is not a couple-of-days sort of event. We feel that this cycle could repeat itself,'' Jones Shah said in an interview.
Shanghai export rates are up, but not as much for lighter weight priced by volume, logistics specialists say. (For more information about SONAR click here)SIAS partially locked down its terminal last Friday after several positive COVID tests among its workforce. The capacity reduction exacerbated scaled-down work levels at several airports as China copes with a resurgence of COVID-19. Cargo efficiency at Shanghai Pudong airport (PVG) was already severely degraded by a ''7+7+7'' policy under which airport personnel work for seven days, quarantine in a hotel for a week and quarantine at home for a week. All-cargo airlines canceled hundreds of flights to avoid lengthy loading delays that jeopardized the loss of pilots using up their duty hours and being subject to strict Chinese quarantine rules. Some flights have left without cargo.
China's zero-tolerance policy over COVID led to similar closures of major port terminals in Shenzhen and Ningbo this summer.
Freighter flights paused
Freight forwarder EFL Global said in a market update for customers that 80% of flights from PVG were canceled this week and that it expects 50% will be scrubbed over the next two weeks '-- but that was before the latest COVID case was detected.
Qatar Airways, Air Bridge Cargo and Polar Air Cargo, a joint venture between Atlas Air and DHL Express, have diverted shipments to Guangzhou, Zhengzhou and Shenzhen Bao'an airports, Everstream Analytics said in a report. American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) and Air Canada (TSX: AC) have canceled passenger freighters to Shanghai, according to their cargo websites. Etihad Airlines and Lufthansa Cargo have also canceled all flights departing from the airport, but a Cathay Pacific spokesperson on Wednesday said the carrier has resumed most freighter operations.
China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines had previously canceled many U.S.-bound flights from PVG due to the operational impact of COVID protocols.
Flexport, in response to the mounting congestion early this month, embargoed freight from the U.S. to Shanghai flying on its reserved Atlas freighters to minimize the risk of export cargo not being loaded in time. It notified customers in a message that transit times from Shanghai to the U.S. have been extended five to seven days by the ground delays. EU destinations are delayed two to three days.
C.H. Robinson, a major U.S. forwarder, has ''put into high gear'' several [truck] linehauls into Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong and re-routed a dedicated Air Canada charter flight to Hong Kong to keep freight moving, said Matt Castle, vice president of air cargo.
Shippers were already wrestling with limited aircraft supply prior to the new outbreaks.
Airfreight capacity has been in a deficit since the pandemic started last year, but temporarily decreased further this month when some carriers took advantage of the European holiday season and lower demand to put aircraft through major maintenance cycles they had postponed because of the nonstop business, Castle added.
(Source: Freightos)Freightos, a digital booking platform for international shipping, says rates from PVG to the U.S. have jumped 15% to 25% in the past week, double the level from a year ago, because of the aircraft supply shortage. Spot rates have increased 12% to 15% to European destinations. Freight buyers say they are paying $10.50 per kilogram, or more, for dense freight and expect airfreight out of China will soon approach $15 to $20 per kilogram, although lighter freight priced with a volumetric formula is less. The last '-- and only time in memory '-- rates were that high was in May 2020 when passenger airlines completely grounded flights at the same time governments and hospitals were placing emergency orders of COVID medical gear.
SIAS, jointly owned by the Shanghai Airport Authority, Air China and a couple of ground handlers, has not indicated when cargo operations will fully resume, but extensive freight backlogs at the terminal and shipper facilities mean bottlenecks are likely to persist for at least a couple of weeks after the return to normalcy.
Everstream Analytics advised shippers to use airlines still operating out of PVG such as Cargolux, Nippon Cargo, ANA, Kalitta Air and SF Express, which rely on unaffected ground handlers. Many carriers, however, are booked solid and may not have the space for new customers.
Jones Shah, a former cargo chief at Delta Air Lines said he can't count on a quick turnaround in Shanghai.
''You have to give your customers stability. You have to tell them what the plan is for the next two weeks, or four weeks. And whatever the plan is, people want to see a plan. They want to know that we're not just operating at the edge of chaos all the time.
''We can't control COVID, we can't control how many people might test positive. And running your business hoping and praying that people don't test positive is not going to work,'' he said.
Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.
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Netherland #2 in Delta resistance
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 11:26
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2014 Isla Vista killings - Wikipedia
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 10:43
The 2014 Isla Vista killings were a series of deadly misogynistic terror attacks in Isla Vista, California. On the evening of May 23, 22-year old Elliot Rodgerkilled six people and injured fourteen others '' by gunshot, stabbing and vehicle ramming '' near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and then killed himself.
Rodger stabbed three men to death in his apartment, apparently one by one on their arrival. About three hours later he drove to a sorority house, and after failing to get inside shot three women outside, two of whom died. He next drove past a nearby deli and shot to death a male student inside. He then began to drive through Isla Vista, shooting and wounding several pedestrians from his car and striking several others with his car. He exchanged gunfire with police twice, and was injured in the hip. After his car crashed into a parked vehicle, he was found dead inside with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Before driving to the sorority house, Rodger uploaded a video to YouTube titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution", in which he outlined his planned attack and his motives. He explained that he wanted to punish women for rejecting him, and sexually active men because he envied them. He also emailed a lengthy autobiographical manuscript to acquaintances, his therapist, and family members; the document appeared on the Internet and became widely known as his manifesto. In it, he described his childhood, family conflicts, frustration over his inability to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women, his contempt for couples (particularly interracial couples) and his plans for what he described as "retribution".
The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at the Hague has described the killings as an act of misogynist terrorism.
Perpetrator Edit Elliot Oliver Robertson Rodger (July 24, 1991 '' May 23, 2014) was the perpetrator of the 2014 Isla Vista killings.
Early life Edit Elliot Oliver Robertson Rodger was an English-born American college student. Born in London, England, he moved to the United States with his parents at age five. He was raised in Los Angeles. His father is British filmmaker Peter Rodger, his paternal grandfather photo-journalist George Rodger. His mother is a Malaysian Chinese research assistant for a film company. A younger sister was born before his parents divorced. After his father remarried, Peter and his second wife Soumaya Akaaboune, a Moroccan actress with whom Elliot had a strained relationship, had a son together.
Rodger attended Crespi Carmelite High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Encino, Los Angeles, and then Taft High School in Woodland Hills. He graduated from Independence Continuation High School in Lake Balboa in 2009, and briefly attended Los Angeles Pierce College and Moorpark College before moving to Isla Vista in 2011. He attended Santa Barbara City College; in his manifesto he said that he dropped out of his classes in February 2012; after the killings the school said he had no longer been taking classes.
Mental health and social problems Edit According to his family's attorney and a family friend, Rodger had seen multiple therapists since he was eight years old, but the attorney said he had never been formally diagnosed with a mental illness. He was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, an autism spectrum disorder, in 2007.
By the ninth grade, Rodger was "increasingly bullied", and wrote later that he "cried by [himself] at school every day"; at this time he developed an obsession with the multiplayer-online game World of Warcraft, which dominated his life for most of his teenage years, and briefly into his 20s. At Crespi Carmelite High he was bullied; in one incident his head was taped to a desk while he was asleep. According to Rodger, in 2012, "the one friend [he] had in the whole world who truly understood [him] ... said he didn't want to be friends anymore" without offering any reason. Rodger had a YouTube account, and a blog titled "Elliot Rodger's Official Blog", through which he expressed loneliness and rejection. He wrote that he had been prescribed risperidone but refused to take it, stating, "After researching this medication, I found that it was the absolute wrong thing for me to take."
After turning 18, Rodger began rejecting mental health care and became increasingly isolated. He said that he was unable to make friends, although acquaintances said that he rebuffed their attempts to be friendly. Family friend Dale Launer said that he counseled Rodger on approaching women, but that Rodger did not follow the advice; Launer also commented that when he met Rodger at eight or nine, "I could see then that there was something wrong with him ... looking back now he strikes me as someone who was broken from the moment of conception."
Early incidents Edit In 2011, Rodger threw coffee on a couple he was jealous of;: 87 in another incident, he splashed coffee on two girls for not smiling at him.: 100 In 2012 Rodger used a Super Soaker filled with orange juice to spray a group playing kickball at Girsh Park.: 106''107 
Referring to an incident in July 2013, Rodger wrote that after being mocked at a party he tried but failed to shove some girls over a ten-foot ledge; instead other boys pushed him over and his ankle was injured. When he went back for his sunglasses he was again mocked, and beaten. A neighbor saw Rodger come home crying and vowing to kill the men involved and then himself. He wrote in his manifesto that the incident was the final trigger for his planning the attack.
In January 2014, Rodger accused Cheng Yuan Hong, one of his roommates, of stealing some candles; Hong pleaded guilty to petty theft. On April 30, Rodger's parents contacted police after becoming alarmed by his behavior and YouTube videos.: 134  Sheriff's deputies who visited Rodger determined that he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health commitment; Rodger had told them he had a "misunderstanding" with his parents.
Manifesto and online posts Edit Rodger emailed his 107,000-word manifesto, My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger, to 34 people,: 7 including his therapist, Charles Sophy, his parents and other family, former teachers, and childhood friends. In it he said he'd originally sought to carry out an attack on Halloween of 2013, but reconsidered because he thought there would be too many police present.: 110
In his last YouTube video, "Elliot Rodger's Retribution", Rodger complained of being rejected by women and envying sexually active men, and described his planned attack and the motives behind it. In the video, he says:
Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity, against all of you. For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I've been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection, and sex and love to other men but never to me.I'm 22 years old and I'm still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl. I've been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I'm still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime, because ... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.
He wrote in My Twisted World that being of mixed race made him "different from the normal fully white kids". On one online forum, he said that he opposed interracial dating and made several racist posts regarding African-American, Hispanic, South Asian and East Asian people, stating that seeing men of these ethnic groups socializing with white women "makes you want to quit life".: 87  In one online post, Rodger wrote:
Full Asian men are disgustingly ugly and white girls would never go for you. You're just butthurt that you were born as an Asian piece of shit, so you lash out by linking these fake pictures. You even admit that you wish you were half white. You'll never be half-white and you'll never fulfill your dream of marrying a white woman. I suggest you jump off a bridge.
In his manifesto, Rodger made a racist comment regarding another boy, outlining some of his plans:
How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves.: 84 On the day before the Day of Retribution, I will start the First Phase of my vengeance: Silently killing as many people as I can around Isla Vista by luring them into my apartment through some form of trickery.
A "War on Women" was the second phase of his plan:
The Second Phase will take place on the Day of Retribution itself, just before the climactic massacre ... My War on Women ... I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.
Rodger stated in his manifesto that, in his ideal world, he would "quarantine all [women] in concentration camps. At these camps, the vast majority of the female population will be deliberately starved to death. That would be an efficient and fitting way to kill them all off ... I would have an enormous tower built just for myself ... and gleefully watch them all die.": 136 He also dreamed of "a pure world, [where] the man's mind can develop to greater heights than ever before. Future generations will live their lives free of having to worry about the barbarity of sex and women, which will enable them to expand their intelligence and advance the human race to a state of perfect civilization.": 137 He said that he planned to kill his half-brother and stepmother, but was not mentally prepared to kill his father.
Preparations Edit In September 2012, Rodger visited a shooting range to practice firing handguns. In November, he purchased his first handgun, a Glock 34 pistol, in Goleta, choosing it as "an efficient and highly accurate weapon". In early 2013, Rodger bought two additional handguns, both SIG Sauer P226 pistols, writing that they were "of a much higher quality than the Glock" and "a lot more efficient". He purchased the weapons legally in Oxnard and Burbank, California.
Rodger claimed: 104 to have saved at least $6,000, which was given to him by his parents and grandmothers, in order to purchase the weapons and supplies for the attacks. Gun law experts in California have said that there was nothing in Rodger's known history that prevented him from making legal firearm purchases.
Attacks Edit Rodger began his attacks at his apartment on Seville Road, where he killed three men by stabbing them multiple times. Bloodstains later found in the building's hallway suggest that Rodger had attacked one or more of his victims as they entered; a bloody bath towel and paper towels in the bathroom suggest Rodger had attempted to clean the hallway. The men's positions suggested that each was killed separately as he entered. Two of the victims were confirmed to be Rodger's roommates according to an apartment lease, while police were investigating whether the third was also a resident or visiting the apartment on the night of the killings.[a]
After the stabbings, Rodger purchased coffee at a coffee shop. At around 8:30 p.m., he was seen working on his laptop in his car in the parking lot of his apartment building. He uploaded his "Retribution" video at 9:17 and sent his manifesto e-mail at 9:18. After receiving a copy of the manifesto, Rodger's therapist phoned his mother, who '' finding the "Retribution" video on Rodger's YouTube channel '' contacted Rodger's father. In separate cars, his parents left Los Angeles for Santa Barbara, calling Isla Vista police en route.
Rodger drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house at Embarcadero del Norte and Segovia Road near UCSB,[b] where he knocked on the front door for a few minutes then began shooting people nearby. Two women were killed and a third was injured. Rodger began driving again. He fired into an unoccupied coffee shop on Pardall Road, then several times into a delicatessen; a man was struck seven times and killed.
Rodger drove south on Embarcadero del Norte on the wrong side of the street, striking a pedestrian and firing at two people on the sidewalk, missing them. He shot a couple exiting a pizzeria and a female cyclist. He drove south on El Embarcadero and shot at and missed a woman, turned east on Del Playa Drive, and made a U-turn to drive west. He then exchanged fire with a sheriff's deputy responding to a telephone report, and struck two pedestrians.
Turning north on Camino del Sur, Rodger shot and wounded three people at Sabado Tarde Street, and struck a skateboarder and two cyclists with his car. Turning east on Sabado Tarde, he struck another skateboarder with his car and shot two other men at the intersection with Camino Pescadero. On Sabado Tarde near Little Acorn Park, Rodger exchanged gunfire with three sheriff's deputies, and was shot in the hip. Pursued by police, he turned south a second time onto El Embarcadero, then west again on Del Playa. He struck a cyclist, then crashed on the north sidewalk just east of the intersection of Del Playa and Camino Pescadero.
At 9:35, police found Rodger dead inside his car from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. In the car were three pistols, knives, six empty ten-round magazines, and 548 rounds of unspent ammunition.
Victims Edit All six murder victims were students at UCSB. The men killed at Rodger's apartment were George Chen (Chinese: é"å¬æ²>> ; pinyin: Ch(C)n Qiozh¬ ), 19; Chengyuan "James" Hong (Chinese: æ´ªæå
; pinyin: H"ng Ch(C)ngyun ), 20; and Weihan "David" Wang (Chinese: çåæ¼ ; pinyin: Wng WÄih n ), 20. The three who died from gunshot wounds were Katherine Breann Cooper, 22; Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20; and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss, 19. Cooper and Weiss were the women killed outside the Alpha Phi sorority house, while Michaels-Martinez was the victim inside the Isla Vista Deli Mart.
Fourteen other people were injured; seven from gunshot wounds and seven by blunt trauma sustained when Rodger struck them with his vehicle. Eleven of the injured were taken to hospitals. Seven went to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where two were admitted in serious condition, one in fair condition, and two others in good condition, and one patient was released on the same day. The remaining four injured were taken to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, where they were all treated and released.
Aftermath Edit Gun control and mental health Edit The attacks renewed calls for gun control and improvements in the US health care system, with Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal saying,
A year and half ago it seemed like we were on the verge of, potentially, legislation that would stop the madness and end the insanity that has killed too many young people, thousands, tens of thousands since Sandy Hook. I hope, I really, sincerely hope that this tragedy, this unimaginable, unspeakable tragedy, will provide impetus to bring back measures that would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who are severely troubled or deranged like this young man was.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein blamed the National Rifle Association's "stranglehold" on gun laws for the attack and said "shame on us" in Congress for failing to do something about it. Pennsylvania Congressman Timothy F. Murphy, a clinical psychologist, said his bipartisan mental health overhaul would be a solution and urged Congress to pass it.
Richard Martinez, the father of victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez, gave a speech in which he placed the blame of the attacks on "craven, irresponsible" politicians and the National Rifle Association. Martinez later urged the public to join him in "demanding immediate action" from members of Congress regarding gun control. He also expressed his sympathy towards Rodger's parents.
Doris A. Fuller, the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, said that California law permitted emergency psychiatric evaluations of potentially dangerous individuals through provisions, but such actions were never enabled during the initial police investigation of Rodger. She said,
Once again, we are grieving over deaths and devastation caused by a young man who was sending up red flags for danger that failed to produce intervention in time to avert tragedy. In this case, the red flags were so big the killer's parents had called police ... and yet the system failed.
Some California lawmakers called for an investigation into the deputies' contact with Rodger on April 30, at which time the California gun ownership database reflected the fact that Rodger had bought at least two handguns. Deputies did not check the database, nor did they view the YouTube videos that had prompted Rodger's parents to contact them. In September 2014 California legislators passed a "red flag law" to enable judges to have guns seized from persons who are a danger to themselves or to others.
Misogyny Edit The attack sparked discussion of broader issues of violence against women and misogyny. Rodger frequented online forums such as PUAHate and ForeverAlone, where he and other men posted misogynistic statements, and described himself online as an "incel" '' a member of an online subculture based around its members' perceived inability to find a romantic or sexual partner. Rodger wrote that after purchasing his first gun he "felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who's the alpha male now, bitches? I thought to myself, regarding all of the girls who've looked down on me in the past." He also described his plan to invade a sorority house, writing, "I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls I've desired so much. They have all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man." According to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at the Hague, the attacks were an act of misogynist terrorism.
Writer Mary Elizabeth Williams objected to Rodger being labeled the "virgin killer", saying that implies that "one possible cause of male aggression is a lack of female sexual acquiescence". Amanda Hess, writing for Slate, argued that although Rodger killed more men than women, his motivations were misogynistic because his reason for hating the men he attacked was that he thought they stole the women he felt entitled to. Writing for Reason, Cathy Young countered with "that seems like a good example of stretching the concept into meaninglessness '' or turning it into unfalsifiable quasi-religious dogma" and wrote that Rodger also wrote many hateful messages about other men.
In Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny feminist academic Kate Manne analyzed the many arguments presented by Young, Heather Mac Donald, and other media commentators to the effect that Rodger could not have been a misogynist because (among other reasons) he was sexually attracted to women, his hateful rhetoric was ultimately the result of mental illness, Rodger loved his mother and hence did not evince a psychological hatred of all women, and he murdered more men than women as an example of a no true Scotsman fallacy. In contrast to a narrow definition of misogyny requiring generalized hatred of women with few (or no) exceptions, similar to the virulent antisemitism of Nazi Germany, Manne argued that in practice misogynists tend to selectively target women based on real or imagined violations of patriarchal norms, and that an excessively narrow conception of misogyny "threaten[s] to deprive women of a suitable name for a potentially potent problem facing them."
Following the attacks, some on Twitter used the #NotAllMen hashtag to express that not all men are misogynistic and not all men commit murder. Others criticized use of this hashtag, as it was considered to derail from discussion of the issue of violence against women. Someone created the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen on May 24 to express the idea that all women experience misogyny and sexism.
In some incel communities, it is common for posts to glorify violence by self-identified incels. Rodger is the most frequently referenced, with incels often referring to him as their "saint" and sharing memes in which his face has been superimposed onto paintings of Christian icons. Some incels consider him to be the true progenitor of today's online incel communities. It is common to see references to "E.R." in incel forums, and mass violence by incels is regularly referred to as "going E.R." Rodger has been referenced by the perpetrators or suspected perpetrators of several other mass killings. For example, Alek Minassian, who killed 10 and injured 16 in Toronto, Canada, posted on Facebook before the murders: "Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!"
Controversy over publication of Rodger's videos and manifesto Edit Several news networks limited the use of the "Retribution" video posted by Rodger for fear of triggering copycat crimes. The New Statesman posited that the manifesto may influence a "new generation of 'involuntary celibates'".
Memorial services Edit Students and community members gathered at Anisq'Oyo Park in Isla Vista on the evening of May 24 for a candlelight memorial to remember the victims. 20,000 people attended a memorial service at UCSB's Harder Stadium on May 27. On May 23, 2015, the first anniversary of the attacks, hundreds of people gathered at UCSB for a candlelight vigil commemorating the six slain victims. The mother of George Chen made a speech at the event.
In popular culture Edit "Holden's Manifesto", an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is based on this event.Elliot Rodger was mentioned several times in the Criminal Minds episode "Alpha Male".See also Edit List of mass shootings in the United StatesList of rampage killers in the United StatesThor Nis Christiansen, a serial killer targeting young women residing in the same area from 1976 to 1977Notes Edit ^ A law enforcement source stated that Weihan Wang was visiting the apartment at the time of the killings, but other sources say that Wang shared the same apartment as Cheng Yuan Hong and George Chen, who were his friends. They said he had made plans to move into another apartment prior to his death due to Rodger playing loud music in the middle of the night. Hong also made similar plans to move out of the apartment, telling friends he was worried for his safety. ^ In his "Retribution" video, Rodger said he would enter the "hottest sorority house of UCSB" and kill every woman inside. In his manifesto, he had identified that sorority as Alpha Phi.: 132 References Edit ^ "Elliot Rodger manifesto outlines plans for Santa Barbara attack". The Sydney Morning Herald. May 25, 2014. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014 . Retrieved July 2, 2014 . ^ a b Dorell, Oren; Welch, William M. (May 26, 2014). "Police identify Calif. shooting suspect as Elliot Rodger". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014 . Retrieved July 2, 2014 . ^ a b c d e Lovett, Ian; Nagourney, Adam (June 15, 2014). "Video rant, then deadly rampage in California town". The New York Times (published May 24, 2014). Archived from the original on June 25, 2014 . Retrieved July 1, 2014 . ^ a b c Candea, Ben; Mohney, Gillian (May 24, 2014). 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More than 350 self-isolating in South Island after virus found in wastewater
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 10:30
Covid-19 has again been detected in Christchurch's wastewater for a third day as the number of contacts to the Delta outbreak grows to more than 350 in the South Island.
The Government announced another day with no cases of the virus in the South Island today and 70 additional cases in the community.
But it was revealed Covid-19 has been detected in Christchurch's wastewater again.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said a further sample collected on Wednesday was processed today and has returned a positive result.
This result, as revealed yesterday, is consistent with virus shedding from at least three cases in MIQ facilities in the city. However, further testing is underway from a range of sites in Christchurch.
The virus was also detected in samples collected from the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bromley on August 21 and 23 after previous negative results.
Meanwhile, as of 8am yesterday, 358 individuals are currently isolating in the South Island.
The majority of these, 193, are in Canterbury. There are 109 in Otago and Southland, 36 in the Nelson Marlborough area, 13 in South Canterbury and 7 on the West Coast.
The spokesperson said they expect the numbers of identified contacts to continue to rise across the coming days.
The map shown by Jacinda Ardern on Monday, showing how spread out contacts of cases were around New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
On Monday, 120 South Island contacts were identified, so that number appears to be steadily growing.
Cabinet will today decide whether to change the alert level 4 restrictions in place until 11.59pm tonight for the country, aside from Auckland. New Zealand's biggest city is in lockdown until 11.59pm on Tuesday, with the strong likelihood this will extend.
Experts are urging a few more days in lockdown across the country as part of a "cautious approach" to containing the Delta outbreak.
Epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker said there was still a risk the virus could be incubating outside Auckland and Wellington.
Truck Drivers Vow to Shut Down All Major Highways in Massive Anti-COVID Lockdown Protest
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 10:29
A group of truck drivers furious about public health restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic has vowed to protest by shutting down all major highways in Australia next week.
Plans to protest vaccine mandates and other restrictions by blocking highways in and out of every Australian state on Tuesday, August 31, were first detailed in a viral video featuring a man who identified himself as a truck driver on Monday, according to Daily Mail Australia.
The man urged Australians to stock up on groceries and other supplies before the protest disrupts the supply chain. Several other truckers have since made their own videos pledging to take part in the effort to "shut down the country."
"It's on. The truckies are doing it," the truck driver says in the original video. "The truckies are going to shut down the country. What that means is you need to go shopping now, get what you can for the next week or two, load your fridge, freezers."
A group of Australian truck drivers are vowing to "shut down" the country over COVID-19 restrictions. This undated file photo shows a truck on an unidentified road at sunset. Apriori1/Getty"The truckies are coming and they are going to pull this country down," he added. "We are all going to do it together and remove this s*** government."
The driver goes on to promote COVID-19 and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories in the video, mentioning Dr. Anthony Fauci and falsely claiming that the Pfizer vaccine is "poison."
At least some of the other truckers vowing to take part in the protest also appear to be anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists, with videos showing different drivers echoing the claim that vaccines are "poison."
The drivers are upset about new restrictions that are set to go into effect at the end of the month, requiring truck drivers to be vaccinated or get tested for COVID-19 to enter other states.
Several of the videos feature foul-mouthed rants from the drivers vowing that they will refuse to follow the restrictions and are willing to paralyze the country in an attempt to force a policy reversal.
"I ain't taking your f***ing poison, b****," truck driver Chris Serang says in one video. "So you can shove it up your v***...and f*** right off."
Woolworths, Australia's largest supermarket chain, said it was "aware of the situation and monitoring it closely." It is unclear how many truck drivers plan to take part in the protest.
Some drivers may take steps to stop authorities from towing their trucks as they block highways. A like-minded American truck driver shared a video suggesting that the Australians modify their trucks by removing parts needed for towing.
A separate strike that could involve as many as 7,000 trucks is set to take place in Australia on Friday. The strike, planned due to a labor dispute between transportation company The Toll Group and drivers, is not directly related to COVID-19 restrictions.
Newsweek reached out to the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C. for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
Record Plastic Prices May Go "Stratospheric" As Hurricane Approaches Gulf Coast | ZeroHedge
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 10:23
Tropical Storm Ida has strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane, making landfall on Isla de la Juventud, the second-largest Cuban island. The hurricane is expected to strike Louisiana late Sunday or early Monday.
At 1315 ET, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicated Ida was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane. NHC said the storm has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
1:15 PM EDT: Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that #Ida has strengthened to a hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. Tropical storm conditions are occurring on Cayo Largo, Cuba https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/aYXq5lRDq1
'-- National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 27, 2021Ahead of Ida's arrival, offshore oil and natural gas explorers are shuttering platforms and evacuating workers as per SOP. There's also concern that the hurricane could disrupt major chemical plants along the Gulf Coast that may send record plastic prices to "stratospheric" levels.
Ida could strike parts of the central Gulf Coast as a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) on Sunday evening or Monday. Landfall projections are currently for Louisiana.
The rapid intensification from Tropical Depression 9 to Tropical Storm Ida to Hurricane Ida occurred in about a day.
Already, Bloomberg data shows about 1.3 million barrels per day of U.S. Gulf Coast production capacity has been halted. Here's the list so far of offshore rigs and their capacity in barrels per day taken offline:
BPAtlantis, 200,000 b/dMad Dog, 100,000 b/dNa Kika, 130,000 b/dThunder Horse, 250,000 b/dShellTurritella (including Stones field) 50,000 boe/d (at peak)Mars, 60,000 boe/dOlympus, 100,000 boe/dAppomattox, 175,000 boe/dUrsa, 150,000 boe/dEquinorTitan, 2,000 boe/d (producing rate in the second quarter)BHPShenzi, 100,000 b/d and 50 mmcf/d gasWith more than a million barrels per day of Gulf of Mexico output offline, this could place upward pressure on crude futures at a time when prices have fallen 5% over the past month.
Another concern is assets onshore such as chemical plants, operated by Exxon., Dow and others which are located in the hurricane's path. These plants produce polypropylene, high-density polyethylene, and PVC. Readers may recall plastic prices soared after the Arctic blast in February severely damaged pipes at chemical plants across the Gulf Coast.
Polypropylene is found in anything from plastic parts for machinery and equipment and even fibers and textiles. Any disruption to these plants because of weather-related issues could cause shortages and send prices even higher.
"Long-term outages induced by tropical weather could fuel stratospheric price rises that downstream supply chains and consumers cannot easily afford," Jeremy Pafford, head of North America market development at data provider ICIS, said. "With the majority of U.S. commodity plastic resin capacity stationed on the Texas and Louisiana coasts, one devastating hit could bring months' worth of polyethylene, polypropylene and/or polystyrene shortages."
The US economy is already facing unprecedented pressure from frozen supply chains and record shortages: could yet another unexpected price spike be the straw that finally breaks the middle class' back?
Pentagon drone strike KILLS man believed to be mastermind behind Kabul airport bombing | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 10:13
The Pentagon has said a drone strike killed two ISIS 'planners and facilitators' in Afghanistan, updating an earlier statement that said just one jihadists had been killed.
Major General William Taylor said 'two high profile ISIS targets were killed and one was wounded and we know of zero civilian casualties' in the Joe Biden-approved strike in Nangahar province.
The retaliatory strike was launched a day after an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up outside the walls of Kabul airport, killing more than 170 people, including 13 U.S. soldiers.
But Pentagon spokesman John Kirby refused to identify the ISIS members and would not describe their specific roles.
'They were ISIS-K planners and facilitators and that's enough reason there alone. I will not speak to the details of these individuals or what their specific roles might be but as the general said we have the means to carry out over the horizon counter-terror capabilities and we will defend ourselves,' Kirby told a reporter.
The airstrike came after Biden declared that the perpetrators of the attack would be 'hunted down and made to pay.'
The speed with which the U.S. military retaliated reflected its close monitoring of IS and years of experience in targeting extremists in remote parts of the world. But it also shows the limits of U.S. power to eliminate extremist threats, which some believe will have more freedom of movement in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is in power.
British top brass today warned that the threat of ISIS-K, the branch of Islamic State active in Afghanistan, now reached as far as the UK and said there could be further terror attacks before the last troops leave Kabul.
It comes as Britain's rescue operation today came to a close, with the last civilian flight taking off from Kabul and leaving up to 150 Britons and more than 1,000 Afghans under Taliban rule.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed on Saturday that the final rescue flight as part of Operation Pitting left overnight. All remaining RAF jets leaving Kabul will be carrying military and diplomatic personnel.
Britain's last flight with military and official personnel is expected to land later today ahead of the Tuesday withdrawal deadline agreed by the U.S. and the Taliban.
Gen. Sir Nick Carter said: 'We should be holding our breath and thinking really hard of that last aeroplane.'
U.S. troops now face a 'very difficult' few days acting as the 'rear guard' to the withdrawal, he added.
'I think our American allies are going to be very challenged because the threat from ISIS-K has not gone away and of course there are still lots of desperate Afghans trying to get out,' Sir Nick said.
General Sir Richard Barrons warned that ISIS now posed a threat which reached beyond Afghanistan to the UK.
'What [the suicide bombing] does do is illustrate that Isis-K is a risk to the United Kingdom, here at home, and to our interests abroad,' the general said.
'We're going to find common cause with the US, and indeed I think the Taliban, in bearing down on this terrible organisation for as long as it takes to neuter them.'
The MoD said last night that 14,543 people had now been extracted from Kabul since August 13, a mix of Afghan and British nationals, and that now the focus would turn to getting diplomats and service personnel out.
Some 8,000 of those were Afghans and their families under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme, which applies to those who helped the UK and are at risk of persecution by the Taliban.
As Britain's 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan draws to a close:
Among the dead in Thursday's suicide blast was Muhammad Niazi, a British Afghan who had travelled from London to help get his family inside the airport, according to the BBC; Boris Johnson appeared to take a swipe at Joe Biden, saying the timing of the pull-out was 'not the one that this country would have chosen'; The PM said the scenes in Afghanistan after the bombing were 'extremely difficult and extremely horrible'; Ex-Royal Marine turned animal rescuer Pen Farthing could be the last British civilian to leave Kabul airport; A Pentagon spokesman admitted thousands of Islamic State terrorists had been released by the Taliban from US prisons in Afghanistan; US officials warned they feared more attempted terror attacks before all Western troops leave ahead of Tuesday's deadline; Defence Secretary Ben Wallace criticised Foreign Office officials who left documents identifying vulnerable Afghan workers strewn on the floor of the British Embassy; It emerged that the Taliban now have access to biometric devices containing the names and details '' including fingerprints '' of Afghans who have helped US forces; Major General William Taylor (pictured) said 'two high profile ISIS targets were killed and one was wounded and we know of zero civilian casualties' in the Joe Biden-approved strike in Nangahar province
An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles is pictured flying over southern Afghanistan in 2015. On Friday night the Pentagon said an ISIS-K fighter had been killed by a drone
Pictured: Afghan collaborators, their families, Spanish soldiers and members of the embassy board a Spanish military plane as part of their evacuation, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 27, 2021
Pictured: An Afghan man hands his child to a British Paratrooper assigned to 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment while a member of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division conducts security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug 26, 2021
It wasn't clear if the individual killed in Saturday's drone strike was involved specifically in the Thursday suicide blast outside the gates of the Kabul airport, where crowds of Afghans were desperately trying to get in as part of the ongoing evacuation from the country after the Taliban's rapid takeover.
A reaper drone, which took off from the Middle East, struck the militant who was in a car with an Islamic State associate. Both are believed to have been killed, an official said.
A resident of the eastern city of Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, said he heard several explosions around midnight on Friday.
'Today we checked and heard it was an air strike that hit a civilian house,' Sayed Ekram said, adding he had no information about casualties.
It was not clear if the blasts were caused by a US drone strike.
A senior Taliban commander said some ISIS-K members had been arrested in connection with the Kabul attack. He said: 'They are being interrogated by our intelligence team.'
Earlier on Friday evening the US once again warned its citizens to get away from the vicinity of Kabul airport.
'US citizens who are at the Abbey gate, East gate, North gate or the New Ministry of Interior gate now should leave immediately,' the State Department warned.
A similar warning was issued in the early hours of Thursday, before the suicide attack was launched.
British troops were seen securing the perimeter outside the Baron Hotel, near the Abbey Gate in Kabul on Thursday following the bombing
Pictured left: Muhammad Niazi, a British Afghan who travelled there from London to help his family. Pictured right: One of Mr Niazi's daughters. As of last night, his wife, youngest child and eldest daughter were still missing, according to the broadcaster, with his brother and survivor of the blast - Abdul Hamid - saying 'I saw some children in the river'
A U.S. Air Force plane is seen taking off from Kabul airport on Friday as evacuations continued
Victims of Thursday's attack at Kabul airport are taken to hospital after a suicide bomber struck
The chaotic scenes at Kabul airport - seen on Wednesday, with Afghans waving their papers at soldiers in a desperate bid to get out - were known to be a tempting target for ISIS-K
The airstrike fulfilled a vow Biden made to the US on Thursday when he said the perpetrators of the attack would not be able to hide.
'We will hunt you down and make you pay,' he said.
Pentagon leaders told reporters on Friday that they were prepared for whatever retaliatory action the president ordered.
'We have options there right now,' said Major General Hank Taylor of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.
Thursday's bombing did not surprise analysts, who warned repeatedly about the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant '-- Khorasan Province, known as ISIS-K.
ISIS announced its expansion to the Khorasan region in 2015, which historically encompasses parts of modern day Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
'Every day we're on the ground is another day that we know ISIS-K seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians,' said Biden on Tuesday, speaking from the White House.
'We are currently on pace to finish by August 31. The sooner we finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.'
In the early hours of Thursday, before the mid afternoon blast, the American, British and Australian intelligence agencies all issued urgent warnings for their citizens to get away from the airport.
A member of the Afghan security forces is seen holding the black and white Islamic State flag in the Afghan city of Jalalabad in August 2020, after ISIS-K launched a 20-hour gun battle to attack the air field and storm a prison, releasing their fighters. On Thursday ISIS-K killed 13 U.S. soldiers and 170 Afghans
Joe Biden is seen on Thursday evening speaking about the bombing at Kabul airport earlier in the day. He vowed to hunt down and punish those responsible
ISIS-K is not allied with the Taliban, and, not bound by its agreements with Washington, poses a fresh and deeply worrying threat.
The group first emerged in 2014 as a splinter from another terror group, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) '-- often known simply as the Pakistani Taliban.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies say that many of ISIS-K's top leadership came from the TTP '-- among them spokesman Sheikh Maqbool, and their first emir, Hafiz Saeed Khan.
Khan, a Pakistani citizen, established an early stronghold in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province '-- on the border with Pakistan.
In 2015 ISIS-K's formation was officially announced by ISIS's leadership in Iraq and Syria, and the terror network's headquarters have funneled money into their Afghan outpost.
The US State Department designated ISIS-K as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation on January 14, 2016. Khan was killed by a US airstrike in July 2016, and his three successors all suffered the same fate.
ISIS-K's current leader is believed to be Shahab al-Muhajir, also known as Sanaullah. A United Nations report, published in February this year, said that he took over in June 2020.
'The communiqu(C) announcing the appointment, written in Arabic and translated into Pashto, referred to al-Muhajir as an experienced military leader and one of the 'urban lions' of ISIL-K in Kabul who had been involved in guerrilla operations and the planning of suicide and complex attacks,' the U.N. said.
Al-Muhajir reports to ISIS's leader, an Iraqi by the name of Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi - who took over when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in October 2019.
ISIS-K published this photo in an effort to project unity and strength just days before hundreds of fighters admitted defeat and surrendered
Al-Mawla is the current leader of ISIS, having taken over from Baghdadi, who died in 2019
ISIS-K has encouraged international attacks, but is not believed to be operating beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The group released congratulatory videos after the 2016 Islamic State inspired attacks in Orlando, Florida, and Magnanville, France, and subsequently released additional footage pleading for further lone-wolf attacks in the West.
ISIS-K saw its grip on northern Afghanistan loosened in 2018, and was severely challenged in its heartland in 2019.
The group lost most of the territory it controlled, in eastern Afghanistan, following offensives from the Taliban, the U.S. and Afghan forces.
In March 2020, General Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testified before Congress that the U.S. had worked with the Taliban to attack ISIS-K.
'Over the last several months in eastern Afghanistan, we've watched the Taliban compress and crush ISIS presence on the ground in southern Nangarhar province '-- and they've been very effective doing that,' McKenzie said.
'It was a bloody mess, but they did it. In fact, ISIS really now no longer holds ground in Nangarhar province.'
Asked directly if the Taliban had any U.S. assistance, he answered: 'There was very limited support from us '' and I would characterize that as very limited support.'
CSIS published a map in 2019 showing the concentration of jihadist activity in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas, shown in yellow, where ISIS-K has its stronghold
A close-up of the area in 2019 showing ISIS-K and other jihadi activities
A Department of Defense report from December 2020 said: 'ISIS-K suffered setbacks when a combination of Taliban, Resolute Support, and ANDSF operations forced the loss of its remaining strongholds in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces in 2019.'
The authors warned that ISIS-K still had the ability to launch devastating attacks in Kabul, despite its 'operational capacity' being 'severely degraded.'
The report states that the campaigns against ISIS-K in 2019 weakened its grip on the region.
'Since mid-2019, ISIS-K has taken a less active role in the management of regional ISIS networks following the creation of ISIS-K branches in Pakistan and India,' the report says.
'Its ability to enable or inspire external attacks outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan has been limited.
'Although ISIS continues to develop connections to other networks outside of Afghanistan, it is operationally limited to South and Central Asia.
'There has been no evidence that large numbers of Taliban have defected to ISIS-K in the aftermath of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement.'
ISIS fighters are pictured training in Kunar province in Afghanistan in December 2017
The aftermath of an ISIS-K attack at the University of Kabul is seen in November 2020, with Afghan journalists documenting the scene
By 2020, however, ISIS-K had recovered sufficiently to launch a series of attacks across Afghanistan.
In May 2020, the group attacked a maternity ward in Kabul, killing more than two dozen civilians.
That same day, ISIS-K also carried out a separate attack on a funeral in Nangarhar province, killing more than 30 people.
In August 2020, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for a multi-day complex attack targeting Jalalabad Airfield and a prison on the base.
ISIS-K fighters used a Kamikaze driver to blast open the prison walls, and enable fighters on foot to breach the defenses.
A 20-hour gun battle left 29 people dead and officials scrambling to recapture hundreds of prisoners, including many from the Islamic State and the Taliban.
And three months later, on November 2, 2020, two ISIS-K gunmen stormed Kabul University, killing 18 students, one administrator, and one Afghan soldier, and wounding 28 others.
In May 2021 ISIS-K bombed a girls' school in Kabul, killing 90. A car bomb was detonated in front of the school, and as students rushed out, two more bombs were set off.
The attack took place in a Hazara-dominated area, home to a mostly Shiite group that has been frequent targets of Islamic State attacks.
A burnt-out car is seen in front of Jalalabad prison in Afghanistan after ISIS-K attacked in August 2020
Injured people are put onto stretchers following an ISIS-K bombing of a funeral in Jalalabad in May 2020
The U.S. estimates that ISIS-K currently numbers around 2,000 fighters - down from its peak of 5,000.
The Taliban reportedly executed an ISIS-K leader this month.
'This is indeed part of the ebb and flow of the jihad,' said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, at the time of the U.N. report in February.
'ISKP appeals to the most radical elements of the jihadists, and its penchant for extreme violence without concern for civilian casualties attracts a significant number of followers.'
And, he told Voice of America, their number may grow if the Taliban rule disappoints hardliners.
'They are able to replenish some losses from disaffected Afghan and Pakistani Taliban members, as well as from the pool of radicals in Afghanistan and Pakistan,' he said.
An elementary school teacher took off her mask for a read-aloud. Within days, half her class was positive for delta.
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 09:34
Student Winston Wallace, 9, raises his hand in class at iPrep Academy on the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, in Miami. Schools in Miami-Dade County opened Monday with a strict mask mandate to guard against coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
The Marin County, Calif. elementary school had been conscientious about following covid-19 protocols. Masks were required indoors, desks were spaced six feet apart, and the students kept socially distant. But the delta variant found an opening anyway.
On May 19, one teacher, who was not vaccinated against the coronavirus, began feeling fatigued and had some nasal congestion. She dismissed it as allergies and powered through. While she was usually masked, she made an exception for story time so she could read to the class.
By the time she learned she was positive for the coronavirus two days later, half her class of 24 had been infected - nearly all of them in the two rows closest to her desk - and the outbreak had spread to other classes, siblings and parents, including some who were fully vaccinated.
''The mask was off only momentarily, not an entire day or hours. We want to make the point that this is not the teacher's fault - everyone lets their guard down - but the thing is delta takes advantage of slippage from any kind of protective measures,'' Tracy Lam-Hine, an epidemiologist for the county, said in an interview.
The case study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and highlighted by CDC director Rochelle Walensky during a briefing on Friday, highlights the potential danger for children under the age of 12 - the only group in the United States ineligible for coronavirus vaccines as a hyper-infectious variant tears across the country.
The seating chart at the Marin elementary school where 27 became infected with the delta variant of the coronavirus. Children who sat closest to the teacher, were more likely to test positive. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigative report)
Just this month in Brevard County, Fla., 1,623 children were infected and more than 8,000 students were quarantined. And in the Atlanta area, thousands of positive cases were confirmed in schools with 23,000 students and staff have been quarantined. The situation has turned the nation's schools into ideological battlegrounds - with one angry parent ripping off a mask from a teacher's face in a Texas school this month, and parents both for and against masks filing lawsuits against their children's school districts.
Without concerted efforts to curb delta's transmission, things are likely to get worse in coming months. A simulation posted this month by a CDC-funded lab predicted that in elementary schools without either masks or regular testing, 75% of children might be infected with the coronavirus in the first three months.
The delta variant-fueled surge has put new pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccine for younger children as soon as possible. It has thrown school reopening plans into disarray, with some officials scrambling to impose vaccines mandates for staff, as well as universal mask mandates. And it has frightened and bewildered many parents, unsure how to protect their kids.
''It's hard to put our heads around this,'' Julie Swann, an expert in mathematical modeling at North Carolina State University who leads the team that published the school transmission study and a mother to a 10-year-old. ''As parents, we are having to wrestle with these really hard notions of expected risk.''
"As parents, we are having to wrestle with these really hard notions of expected risk," says Julie Swann, who leads one of six modeling teams funded by CDC to forecast covid-19 infections. and also has a 10-year-old son. Photo for The Washington Post by Eamon Queeney.
Vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 had been widely expected to be available in the early fall, but to the surprise of many, federal regulators asked vaccine companies in late July to double the number of trial participants to include several thousand more children. The FDA is seeking to better understand the vaccines' link to a rare but potentially serious inflammation of the heart muscle known as myocarditis and pericarditis that has predominantly affected younger males, and to learn whether it might affect younger children as well.
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and vaccine makers have indicated that the expansion of the pediatric testing means a vaccine for younger children is unlikely before the end of the year, or perhaps even early 2022.
That forecast has spurred alarm among some public officials and health providers, with more than 180,000 new child covid-19 cases confirmed in the week ending Aug. 19 - an up to 20-fold increase over weeks in June when summer breaks began.
This week, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called on regulators to expedite approval for 5- to 11-year-olds. ''Getting our children vaccinated is critical to giving parents greater peace of mind, but we are being told approval is still months away,'' he said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians warned that ''the risk for severe and long-lasting impacts on health outcomes in unvaccinated children is increasing.''
And the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged the FDA to use a two-month follow-up time frame for safety studies rather than six months, which would ''significantly hinder the ability to reduce the spread of the hyper infectious covid-19 delta variant among this age group.''
''In our view, the rise of the delta variant changes the risk-benefit analysis for authorizing vaccines in children,'' AAP President Lee Savio Beers wrote in a letter, urging the agency to make the shots available for younger children ''as swiftly as possible.''
The FDA said it could not comment on its discussions with manufacturers but stressed that it is working to ''ensure the number of participants in clinical trials are of adequate size to evaluate a product's safety and effectiveness in the intended population.''
The knowns and unknownsThe fourth wave of the coronavirus is hitting children and families faster and harder than before, raising new questions for doctors and researchers.
In Southern states, pediatric ICUs are at or near capacity with record numbers of severely ill children. They include newborns just weeks or months old and previously healthy children - almost unheard of in previous waves - reinforcing the idea that this is a virus that can strike anyone.
''Is it that we have more cases overall and this is a more transmissible virus? Or is it something about delta? It's too early to tell, and if anyone is making assumptions, they are not basing it on rigorous data, as there are not rigorous data,'' said Adrienne Randolph, a researcher at Boston Children's Hospital who is leading a nationwide study on covid-19 in children. ''However my colleagues in ICUs have reported many more severe cases.''
Doctors are also speculating about anecdotal reports of unvaccinated young parents getting seriously ill, and what that might say about transmission in families. In Arkansas just outside Little Rock, Tate Ezzi, 44, and his pregnant wife Christine, 39, parents to five young children, have been urging the vaccine-wary to re-evaluate their stance since both were hospitalized and she lost the pregnancy after attending a birthday party at a skating rink. In Texas, Lydia Rodriguez, 42, died this month of covid-19, two weeks after her husband Lawrence's death from the same disease, orphaning their four children. And in Florida, a 52-year-old mother died and the father was still in the hospital as of this week.
A recent technical paper out of Britain suggested the delta variant does not cause more serious illness than its predecessors, but the analysis did not specifically break out children. David Rubin, a researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who has been studying U.S. hospitalization data, said that in recent weeks, 1,200 to 1,400 children were inpatients at the peak, and while those numbers may be large, the rate of hospitalization remains the same as in the past at 0.8 to 0.9 percent.
''What you are seeing is many more kids are getting covid now because our country is open, and they are being exposed,'' he said.
What is indisputable is that the virus can spread like wildfire in settings where children are unmasked and unvaccinated, such as schools and homes. And there are fresh worries about the impact the initial dose of exposure may play in disease severity for parents and caregivers, who may be more vulnerable to severe illness.
One early paper, published in August 2020 in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that the viral load of some children in the first two days of symptoms could be higher than in severely ill adults, implying a high degree of potential infectiousness. Another found that the virus was detectable for a mean of 6.7 days in infected children - whether or not they had symptoms. More recently, researchers found that people are testing positive for the delta variant at a peak of 3.71 days after exposure, as compared with five to six days for previous variants - showing the illness can hit very quickly.
An important new study published in JAMA Pediatrics on Aug. 16 found that infants and young children appeared to spread the coronavirus more aggressively than those in their early teens '-- likely because of how they and their caretakers interact.
Researchers note that babies cannot cover coughs or wash their hands themselves, and they require more touching. Preschoolers and early elementary children may be more likely to be in close contact with each other, whether it's whispering during circle time, holding hands in the hallways or wrestling at recess.
''Our interactions with young children are physically very different than [with] others, even in the same family,'' Randolph said. ''You hold them and cuddle them, and they are usually not masked.''
Julie Swann, right, head of the Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University, looks over the work of doctoral student Yiwei Zhang. Photo for The Washington Post by Eamon Queeney.
'Parents in California are freaking out'Swann, the North Carolina mom and scientist, set out to try to simulate what could happen with so many children mixing in one building breathing the same air. As part of one of six CDC-funded simulation groups that are designed to help local school officials make decisions, she teamed up with Pinar Keskinocak, a systems engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and others to look at transmission over time.
Many of the assumptions they made were conservative based on the extent of spread in many parts of the United States today. They assumed that when school began, there were already a few kids and teachers with asymptomatic infections, that masking might drop the infections by 50%, and that in elementary schools, most of the children were vulnerable to the virus. Each week, they imported one new case, which they imagined might come from a sibling, or perhaps from a student who had been at soccer practice, church or with another community group.
They used a transmission rate of four - which means that each infected person would spread it to four others, a number that is lower than the six to seven some studies have estimated for the delta variant, but which they felt was reasonable given that children are only in school for part of the day.
The models showed that more than 75% of susceptible students - meaning those who were not vaccinated, or who had previous immunity due to natural infection - would become infected within three months. With masking, the infection rate would decrease to 50% for elementary schools, 35% for middle schools and 24% for high schools, based on average vaccination rates. Testing further drops infections to 22%, 16%, and 13%.
''Parents in California are freaking out that my model shows that, even with masks, there would be a lot of infections,'' Swann said.
But she also emphasizes that ''we have an incomplete picture of what's happening,'' and different communities have widely different levels of susceptibility based on vaccination rates and levels of natural immunity. She also said she has had to remind herself that the relative risk of coronavirus complications in children is low.
In this Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, file photo, teacher Vanessa Rosario greets students outside of iPrep Academy on the first day of school, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
Pressure on the FDAWith more than 80 million children and adolescents in the United States, public health officials and researchers believe the pandemic will not end until coronavirus vaccines are approved for all ages.
The FDA's rollout of the vaccines for adults occurred in record time, but there are additional steps involved for children, and for good reason. Younger children's immune systems tend to be more robust and vary greatly in size - think of a 5-year old versus a 15-year-old.
Medical historians point to cautionary tales about rushed approvals: In the 1960s, thousands of children in the United States who got a vaccine developed atypical measles, which resulted in lung inflammation that often sent them to the hospital. That vaccine was later recalled. And several years ago in the Philippines, a school-based program for dengue fever had to be stopped after the drugmaker discovered it could lead to more severe illness in some children.
Clinical trials typically involve looking separately at children in various age groups, moving from oldest to youngest - ages 16 and up, 12 to 15, 5 to11, and under 5. Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is currently available for those 12 and above], and the Moderna vaccine, for those 16 and older.
Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatrics and population health at Stanford who heads the AAP committee on infectious diseases, said one big challenge for the 5-to-11-year-old group right now has to do with titrating down the dose. This isn't necessary for all vaccines, she said, but it is something that is being studied for the messenger-RNA shots.
The cardiac complication in some adolescents and young adults after receiving the second shot has been well publicized. But Maldonado, an investigator on the Pfizer vaccine trials for children, said the issue is so rare that adding a few thousand more children to the studies is unlikely to provide insight, and that you'd probably need to add millions to be able to identify those patients with the reaction. She said researchers have not seen signals of other concerning side effects, and she and her colleagues were not informed the FDA's authorization might be delayed - until they heard it from the media.
''If there had been a valid reason to slow down the authorization, we want to understand that,'' she said. ''But based on what we've seen and heard there's no specific other issue.''
Julie Morita, a vaccine expert who was on the Biden transition team on covid and a former member of the Advisory Council on Infection Protocols for the CDC, said that as the delta variant has surged, the calculus for public health officials should change.
''If delta wasn't making children sick and hospitalizing them, it might make sense to take more time to look at the safety profile,'' said Morita, executive vice president for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. ''But when you have a virus that is surging, expediency may become more important.''
The outbreak at the school in Marin County is the first delta case in young children published by the CDC in the United States. Epidemiologist Lam-Hine remembers that as the cases mounted, he and his colleagues commented how ''this strain is really different'' - even before they had confirmed it was delta.
Among the most puzzling aspects, he said, is how the virus jumped from the initial class to a second class three grades apart, where six children also tested positive. The school, which has 205 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, had taken multiple measures to combat viral spread. All the classrooms contained portable air filters, and doors and windows were kept open. The two rooms in question were separated by a large courtyard, which had been blocked by lunch tables with yellow tape on them.
The students in the two classes did not seem to share siblings, carpools, sports teams, or other extracurricular activities, he said. Yet sequencing showed their virus was genetically indistinguishable. Perhaps, Lam-Hine speculated, the kids had passed each other in the hallway, or had some other close contact.
The contact tracing team also found five additional people in the community who had infections with the same virus, but were unable to find a link with the school cases.
The findings included some good news: While more than 80 percent of the infected children, or 22 out of 27, had symptoms such as fevers, coughs, headaches and sore throats, none was hospitalized. And the county saw no obvious further spread. Lam-Hine speculated the county's mask compliance and vaccination rate - the highest in the state - made the difference.
''This is not a story about a teacher and her class,'' he said. ''It's about the need for all of us to be super vigilant.''
Anti-vaccine influencer permanently suspended by Twitter | Washington Examiner
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 09:28
An anti-vaccine influencer who has drawn ire from Dr. Anthony Fauci has been permanently suspended from Twitter.
Alex Berenson, an author who downplayed the severity of COVID-19 and questioned vaccines, lockdowns, and other protocols, was permanently suspended from the platform for "repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation rules ," a Twitter spokesperson told the Washington Examiner.
Berenson confirmed his suspension, saying the tweet that prompted his removal from the platform was "entirely accurate."
"It doesn't stop infection. Or transmission," the tweet said of vaccines. "Don't think of it as a vaccine. Think of it '-- at best '-- as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS."
SUSPENDED, BANNED, AND DELETED: CENSORSHIP WAR BETWEEN BIG TECH AND REPUBLICANS, IN THEIR OWN WORDS
The suspension of Berenson was criticized by some on the Right.
"Alex Berenson has been a courageous voice of reason throughout the pandemic. As a result he has been censored. During his suspension on Twitter, you can find him on Substack, http://alexberenson.substack.com . He provides a valuable counter perspective to the group-think mainstream media," Sen. Ron Johnson tweeted .
Others applauded his removal, with Matthew Cortland, a senior fellow at Data for Progress, writing that it took Twitter "far, far too long to remove" Berenson and "that unconscionable delay harmed us all." Public health officials have repeatedly said the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the two-dose Pfizer vaccine was granted full approval by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.
Berenson drew criticism from Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief adviser on infectious diseases, for a speech delivered to the Conservative Political Action Conference in which the anti-vaccine influencer accused the U.S. government of attempting to "sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated."
"I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it's a good thing for people not to try and save their lives," Fauci said on CNN's State of the Union in July, calling the crowd's reaction to Berenson's remarks "horrifying."
Berenson previously argued he experienced Big Tech censorship in June 2020 when Amazon attempted to halt sales of his book, Unreported Truths About COVID-19 And Lockdowns Part 1: Introductions and Death Counts and Estimates, which the retailer said did not comply with the company's guidelines.
Amazon then reversed course , which Berenson then celebrated, writing, "WOW WOW WOW" and thanking all who spoke out against the censorship.
The notion that Big Tech platforms have been censoring dissenting voices has made headlines since former President Donald Trump was deplatformed following the Jan. 6. Capitol Hill attack. Twitter, Facebook, and others said Trump's words and actions preceding the attack incited violence and warranted removal.
While Trump's Facebook account may be reinstated someday, the company's independent Oversight Board announced in May that the ban would temporarily remain in place. On June 4, the board determined the ban would remain in place for at least two years.
Trump has retaliated, filing lawsuits last month against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and demanding "an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing, and canceling that you know so well." On Tuesday, Trump announced he was seeking a preliminary injunction in the case, which alleged a violation of the First Amendment via cooperation between tech companies and the U.S. government.
In recent months, Big Tech has cracked down on misinformation pertaining to COVID-19, but the White House has argued that bans from one platform should translate to other websites.
"You shouldn't be banned from one platform and not others for providing misinformation out there," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing last month.
Psaki also said the Biden administration is flagging coronavirus misinformation in accord with a warning from Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on "health misinformation."
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
The United States has seen approximately 38.7 million cases of COVID-19, with 634,157 deaths attributed to the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 173 million people, or 52.1% of the U.S. population, are fully vaccinated against the virus, the CDC added.
Pfizer Made $11.3B in Covid Vaccine Revenue in Half of 2021
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 09:19
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Pfizer's revenue boomed as a result of its Covid-19 vaccine, and the company reported $10.5 billion in net income in the first half of 2021 '-- up $3.6 billion more from the same period in 2020. And according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets, the company reported $11.3 billion in revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021 alone.
An SEC filing also noted that ''12% and 14% of total revenues for the three and six month'' periods in 2021 came from the U.S. government and were spent ''primarily'' on the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Covid-19 vaccine has provided more revenue than any other Pfizer vaccine on the market, Open Secrets noted.
Pfizer has experienced a large revenue jump in all its vaccine programs '-- $14.1 billion in the first half of 2021, compared to just $2.9 billion in the first half of 2020, prior to the Covid vaccine receiving emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Open Secrets noted that as Pfizer's revenue increased, so did its lobbying efforts.
''In 2020, Pfizer spent $13.2 million on its lobbying efforts '-- that's up from $11 million in 2019 and the most the company has spent on lobbying since 2009 during the debate over the Affordable Care Act,'' the article states, noting that the company focused much of their lobbying in early 2020 on the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the FDA recently granting full approval to the Pfizer Covid vaccine and authorizing a third dose for immunocompromised individuals '-- with the expectation that further approval may come as soon as Labor Day weekend '-- Pfizer is likely to see a continued increase increase in profits.
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CDC's 'woke' new language guide proposes replacing 'dehumanizing' words like ELDERLY | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 08:52
CDC's 'woke' new language guide proposes replacing 'dehumanizing' words like inmate, poor and ELDERLY The guide includes a list of guiding principles and preferred terms to use rather than seemingly dehumanizing onesThe guide asks health communicators and medical professionals to 'consider how racism and other forms of discrimination unfairly disadvantage people' Most of the recommendations are structured to read such as 'a person with disabilities' rather than describing someone as 'disabled' The CDC has even asked for 'smokers' to be referred to as 'people who smoke' By Adam Schrader For Dailymail.Com
Published: 02:14 EDT, 29 August 2021 | Updated: 03:42 EDT, 29 August 2021
A new guide on 'inclusive communication' by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote 'health equity' has published a long list of words and phrases such as elderly, smokers and poor for les 'dehumanizing' language.
The guide includes a list of guiding principles and preferred terms to use rather than seemingly dehumanizing ones such as 'poor' and 'elderly' to foster 'an ongoing shift toward non-stigmatizing language.'
'Long-standing systemic social and health inequities ... have put some population groups at increased risk of getting sick, having overall poor health, and having worse outcomes when they do get sick,' the guide reads.
'Avoid perpetuating these inequities in communication.'
Some of the categories in the new CDC language guide are seen
The guide asks health communicators and medical professionals to 'consider how racism and other forms of discrimination unfairly disadvantage people and lead to social and health inequities.'
'Language in communication products should reflect and speak to the needs of people in the audience of focus,' the CDC website reads.
The guide provides lists of words in multiple categories to avoid using, and suggests replacements to use in their stead.
Most of the recommendations are structured to read such as 'a person with disabilities' rather than describing someone as 'disabled.'
In the disability category, the CDC also recommends avoiding the use of 'differently abled', 'afflicted' and 'handicapped.'
And instead of calling someone 'elderly' or a 'senior,' the CDC recommends using the terms 'older adults' or 'elders.'
For drug and substance abuse terms, the CDC guide recommends avoiding the terms 'drug-users/addicts/drug abusers' or 'alcoholics/abusers.'
Instead, the CDC prefers that they be called terms such as 'persons with substance use disorder' or 'persons with alcohol use disorder' - or even 'persons in recovery from substance use/alcohol disorder.'
The CDC has even asked for 'smokers' to be referred to as 'people who smoke.'
Meanwhile, poor people should be referred to as 'people with lower incomes' or 'people experiencing poverty.'
And instead of 'homeless people' or 'transient people,' the CDC recommends referring to them as 'people experiencing homelessness' or 'persons who are not securely housed.'
The CDC has recommended avoiding words such as 'mentally ill' and 'crazy' and 'insane' while also avoiding using words such as 'asylum' in reference to mental hospitals and facilities.
The guide even includes a category for immigration, recommending that medical professionals avoid using such terms as 'illegals', 'illegal immigrants.' and 'illegal aliens.'
Instead, the CDC prefers dropping the word 'illegal' from the description or using terms like 'people with undocumented status' or 'foreign-born persons.'
When it comes to crime, the CDC recommends avoiding terms like 'inmate' and 'prisoner' and 'criminal.' Instead, the agency prefers terms like 'people who are incarcerated' or 'people who were formerly incarcerated.'
The guide also has lengthy categories on topics such as how to refer to people who identify as LGBTQ or people of other races and ethnicities.
A new guide on 'inclusive communication' has been published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to promote 'health equity'. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle
The CDC recommends avoiding terms like 'inmate' and 'prisoner' and 'criminal.' Instead, the agency prefers terms like 'people who are incarcerated'
For drug and substance abuse terms, the CDC guide recommends avoiding the terms 'drug-users/addicts/drug abusers' or 'alcoholics/abusers'
Spike Lee reediting 9/11 docuseries after backlash for including conspiracy theorists - The Washington Post
Sun, 29 Aug 2021 07:14
Spike Lee announced he would be reediting an episode of his new HBO documentary series about New York City amid criticism over his decision to feature 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
''I'm Back In The Editing Room And Looking At The Eighth And Final Chapter Of NYC EPICENTERS 9/11'--2021½,'' he wrote in a statement shared Wednesday afternoon with members of the media. ''I Respectfully Ask You To Hold Your Judgement Until You See The FINAL CUT.''
''NYC Epicenters 9/11'--2021½'' premiered Sunday and will air two episodes each week until its finale on Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Produced and directed by one of the city's most prolific filmmakers, the series explores the resilience of New Yorkers and how they have grappled over the past two decades with the effects of landmark events like 9/11 and the coronavirus pandemic.
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In the original cut, Lee reportedly allotted a significant portion of the eighth episode to interrogating why the twin towers collapsed as they did '-- even interviewing members of the conspiracy-theorist group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, including founder Richard Gage. Asked about his decision to include these theories in the series, Lee told the New York Times, ''I mean, I got questions.''
''And I hope that maybe the legacy of this documentary is that Congress holds a hearing, a congressional hearing about 9/11,'' he said.
Pushed to expand upon whether that meant the filmmaker didn't accept the official explanation for the collapse '-- which a years-long investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology attributed to fires weakening the floors and already impacted steel support columns '-- Lee said, ''The amount of heat that it takes to make steel melt, that temperature's not reached.''
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''And then the juxtaposition of the way Building 7 fell to the ground '-- when you put it next to other building collapses that were demolitions, it's like you're looking at the same thing,'' he continued. ''But people going to make up their own mind. My approach is put the information in the movie and let people decide for themselves. I respect the intelligence of the audience.''
Lee's comments sparked backlash as they circulated online this week, given that, as Variety's Caroline Framke wrote of the series, he seemed to be ''in clear agreement with the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth calling for a new investigation.'' Although the original cut of the episode also included an interview with Shyam Sunder, who led 200 technical experts in conducting the NIST investigation over a three-year period, some critics argued Lee's approach seemed to grant equal weight to the conspiracy theorists' perspectives.
''Lee and HBO are offering Gage and his conspiracy theories the biggest and most mainstream platform they've ever had, pointing their viewers directly toward a bog of heinously dangerous ideas,'' wrote Slate's Jeremy Stahl. ''Like other conspiracy theorists, Gage doesn't just stick to 9/11, and if Lee's viewers follow Gage down the rabbit hole, they likely won't, either.''
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Representatives for HBO haven't yet returned The Washington Post's request for comment on criticism of the original cut of the final episode.
Opinion: Spike Lee's flirtation with 9/11 trutherism isn't a surprise. But it should be a warning.
This isn't the first time Lee has nodded toward a conspiracy claim. In a 2005 interview with CNN, ahead of his HBO documentary ''When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts'' about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Lee said: ''I don't put anything past the United States government. I don't find it too far-fetched that they tried to displace all the Black people out of New Orleans.''
In the Times interview, Lee grouped potential backlash to ''NYC Epicenters 9/11'--2021½'' with criticism he has received for his previous work.
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''People have called me a racist for 'Do the Right Thing.' People said in 'Mo' Better Blues' I was antisemitic. 'She's Gotta Have It,' that was misogynist,'' he said. ''People are going to just think what they think. And you know what? I'm still here, going on four decades of filmmaking.''
Amazon Web Services disables ISIS propaganda website it had hosted since April | The Seattle Times
Sat, 28 Aug 2021 23:18
Amazon late Friday disabled a website used by a propaganda arm of the Islamic State that celebrated the suicide bombing that killed at least 170 people in Kabul on Thursday after The Washington Post reported the extremists relied on the company's technology to promote extremism.
Nida-e-Haqq, an Islamic State media group that distributes Islamist content in the Urdu language, had been using the company's dominant cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services, to host its content, despite company policies against working with terror groups.
Some of that content included messages about the Islamic State-Khorasan offshoot that claimed responsibility for the lethal attack, said Rita Katz, executive director of SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism and discovered the link with Amazon Web Services. Urdu is widely spoken in neighboring Pakistan and occasionally in Afghanistan itself.
The Nida-e-Haqq app on Thursday carried what it claimed was an image of the bomber wrapped in a suicide vest ahead of a blast whose victims included 13 U.S. service members, further marring the American pullout from the nation after nearly 20 years of war.
''(F)ollowing an investigation, we have disabled a website that was linked to this app as it was in violation of the AWS Acceptable Use Policy,'' Amazon spokesman Casey McGee said in an emailed statement late Friday after The Post reported on SITE's findings.
That policy bars customers from, among other practices, using the cloud-computing service ''to threaten, incite, promote, or actively encourage violence, terrorism, or other serious harm.''
The source code for the app, Katz said, shows it draws words and images from a website for the Islamic State propaganda arm. That website, whose content is password protected and could not be directly reviewed by The Washington Post, was hosted by Amazon Web Services since April, according to online domain records.
''It's just mind-blowing that even after all these years, ISIS could still find a way to exploit a hosting company like Amazon,'' Katz said. ''Of course, we should presume that ISIS will always be searching for ways to bypass security protocols, but this app isn't even trying to stay low-key. It is blatantly filled with official ISIS claims, media and logos of ISIS' media arms, clear as day. This app was clearly created to keep ISIS' message and content alive and distributed online '... It is clear that the stakes of keeping such content offline is no less major than in past years.''
Amazon, like most American technology companies, has policies prohibiting Islamist terror groups from using its services. (Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Amazon took a stand in January against Parler, a social media site popular with supporters of former president Donald Trump, severing ties over the site's failure to adequately monitor hate speech and calls for violence related to the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol. The move knocked Parler offline for weeks and sharpened political debate over the power of tech companies to determine what appears online.
But enforcement of the policy appears to have failed in the case of Nida-e-Haqq.
One reason may be that Amazon hasn't often proactively policed the content of customers '-- many of which run widely used commercial websites such as Airbnb, Yelp and Netflix. Rather, its Trust & Safety team, which has fewer than 100 workers, acts only on complaints received.
Despite the size of that team, Amazon is the dominant provider of cloud infrastructure services, which let customers rent data storage and processing capabilities over the web instead of running their own data centers. AWS, which competes against Microsoft and Google, held 41% of the global market in 2020, according to the market research firm Gartner.
This story was originally published at washingtonpost.com.
Read it here.
If You Have iPhone 12, Your Heart Could Be At Risk, FDA Warns | Best Life
Sat, 28 Aug 2021 10:19
The novelty of all the things your iPhone can do may have worn off years ago, but there's no denying how convenient it can make everyday life. Your phone has even become a popular way to monitor your health and stay on top of certain medical conditions. But according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there's also a chance that your trusty iPhone could be putting your heart health at risk. Read on to see what the agency's latest research found.
RELATED: If You See This on Your iPhone, Don't Click It, Experts Warn.
ShutterstockIn a press briefing released on Aug. 25, the FDA announced that the results of a recent study it conducted showed that high-powered magnets used in certain devices could create interference with implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. In their research, the team tested all models of the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6, finding that they could trigger implants into a potentially dangerous situation.
"Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising the public that some newer consumer electronic devices, such as certain cell phones and smartwatches, have high field strength magnets capable of placing medical devices in their 'magnet mode,'" the agency wrote. "These magnets can affect normal operations of the medical device until the magnetic field is moved."
ShutterstockThe agency clarified in its statement that mounting evidence from researchers had led them to conduct their own study on the potential effects of the iPhone 12 on cardiac implants. "Ensuring the safety of our nation's medical devices is a cornerstone of our consumer protection mission, especially as technology continues to advance," Jeff Shuren, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the statement. "As part of this work, the agency reviewed recently published articles describing the possibility that certain newer cell phones, smartwatches, and other consumer electronics with high field strength magnets may temporarily affect the normal operation of implanted electronic medical devices, such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. Based on our review, we decided to conduct our own testing to confirm and help inform appropriate recommendations for patients and consumers."
To examine the potential impact smartphones could have, researchers tested all models of the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6 against a Medtronic implantable cardiac device (ICD) at different distances. The results upheld previous research, finding that the Apple devices could trigger the ICD into "magnet mode" when placed within six inches of the implant.
RELATED: Apple Just Released This Warning About the Latest iPhones.
iStockThe results have led the FDA to provide doctors and patients with more information about the potential complication. "We believe the risk to patients is low and the agency is not aware of any adverse events associated with this issue at this time," Shuren said in the statement. "However, the number of consumer electronics with strong magnets is expected to increase over time."
The agency recommends that anyone with concerns should book some time to speak with their doctor. "We recommend people with implanted medical devices talk with their health care provider to ensure they understand this potential risk and the proper techniques for safe use. The FDA will continue to monitor the effects of consumer electronics on the safe operation of implanted medical devices," Shuren said.
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iStockThe most recent FDA research comes as part of a long string of studies, including one conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) published in June. In a small study testing the iPhone 12's effects on pacemakers and defibrillators, results found that 11 out of 14 devices experienced interference after placing the smartphone close to devices that were both "in vivo" and "ex vivo"'--meaning implanted in a patient and recently unboxed, respectively.
As a result, the AHA reminded the public that there are certain ways to use your devices to keep your heart safe. "The American Heart Association and manufacturers of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators have long recommended that cell phones be used in the ear opposite the side of the body of an implanted device and that the cell phones be kept at least 10 cm away from the device, therefore not in a shirt or coat pocket on the same side as the cardiac device," Mark A. Estes, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship Program at the Heart and Vascular Institute of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in the statement.
RELATED: If You're Charging Your iPhone Like This, Apple Says Stop Immediately.
Restaurants grapple with vaccine mandates in tight labor market
Sat, 28 Aug 2021 10:18
To mandate, or not to mandate?
That's the question facing down restaurant owners and operators during one of the most challenging hiring environments in decades. The Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, opening the door for workplaces to opt to require workers to have the shot. But between enhanced unemployment benefits, hesitancy surrounding Covid, child-care hurdles and more, the industry is already facing a shortage of available workers and adding a vaccine mandate to the picture could cut both ways.
Big players in the industry have mostly remained silent on vaccine mandates for restaurant staff. McDonald's recently pushed back its return-to-office date to Oct. 11 and said it will require its U.S. corporate workforce to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 27, with exemptions for religious or medical reasons permitted.
Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung told CNBC this week after the FDA's approval that the company was looking to get feedback from employees and had not yet made a decision on mandating the shot, but was in "active talks" on the topic. The company has been encouraging employees to get the vaccine, Hartung said, adding he was hopeful the FDA approval might help those on the fence to take the step to get inoculated.
In New York City, restaurant workers need to have at least one dose of Covid vaccination under Mayor Bill de Blasio's Key to NYC Pass program, which began this month and will be enforced on Sept. 13. Philippe Massoud, owner and chef at Ilili and Ilili Box, said that the mandate was not an issue for most of his staff. But he lost two, possibly three, workers who did not want to get vaccinated, and is short about 20 workers overall due to the labor crunch.
"Certainly, it's exacerbating the situation," he said of workers leaving over the mandate. "We hope they'll change their mind down the line. '... In addition to all that you're dealing with the surge of the delta variant, which also creates its own complexity. So, we're getting hit a bit from everywhere."
In Austin, Texas, restaurateur Eric Silverstein owns The Peached Tortilla and Fat City, and said some 95% of his workforce is vaccinated. The company has encouraged vaccinations, paying workers $30 to get the shot and setting it up through its human resources department, but he stopped short of requiring workers to be vaccinated.
"We had such a high participation rate in voluntarily getting the vaccine, I did not feel we had to mandate it," he said, adding that all workers are wearing masks at his restaurants indoors.
But for those who choose not to get the vaccine, there are consequences.
"If you do come down with Covid as a breakthrough case, even though you're vaccinated, we pay you for your time off work so you don't have to come in and get other people sick. However, if you are not vaccinated, we don't offer that," he said.
The labor crunch did not factor into his decision regarding the vaccine policy, Silverstein said.
But for some, it is hard to separate the labor issue from thinking about whether to mandate vaccinations for workers.
David Barr owns 44 franchise locations of KFC and Capriotti's Sandwich Shop in Alabama and Georgia. While he has concerns over mandating from a legal standpoint as a small business owner, he's also considering what such a requirement might mean for staffing.
"We've decided to encourage, versus mandate, vaccinations," Barr said. "Both because of the tight labor force today '-- we don't desire to lose potentially another 20 to 30% of our employees '-- and just from a policy standpoint of looking to D.C. or the statehouse as to what the policy should be regarding vaccines."
'Jeopardy!' host Mayim Bialik gets renewed criticism for her vaccine stance and brain supplement ads - The Washington Post
Sat, 28 Aug 2021 10:10
This past October, actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik released a YouTube video in which she told viewers that she was going to do something she hadn't done in 30 years: Get a vaccine. Specifically, vaccines for the coronavirus and flu.
''Now you might be saying, 'Hey wait a second, Dr. Mayim Bialik, you don't believe in vaccines. You're one of those anti-vaxxers! I know it because I read it online,' '' Bialik said in a jovial tone, waving her hand dismissively. ''Well folks, let's finally talk about it.''
Bialik was referring to the many headlines that have appeared since her 2012 parenting book revealed her two sons were not on the ''typical'' vaccine schedule '-- and when she has offered quotes such as one to People magazine in 2009, saying ''we are a non-vaccinating family.'' While Bialik has long fought back against the anti-vaccine label, this video was the most in-depth defense yet. ''I have never once said that vaccines are not valuable, not useful or not necessary '-- because they are,'' she said, adding her children did receive some vaccinations, which she delayed for reasons she doesn't want to share publicly.
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But her comments are making the rounds once again as Bialik is suddenly in a bigger spotlight in 2021 than anyone could have predicted. Bialik, who drew rave reviews when she guest-hosted ''Jeopardy!'' earlier this year, was tapped on Aug. 11 as the host for the show's prime-time specials and spinoffs alongside executive producer Mike Richards as the daily syndicated host. When Richards was forced to step down days later after the revelation of his offensive comments on his former podcast, Sony Pictures Television announced that Bialik would fill in and film 15 episodes this week as executives continue their search for a permanent host.
Now that Bialik is officially embedded in a legendary television institution, ''Jeopardy!'' fans and social media users are digging into her past: Her 2017 New York Times op-ed about disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein that was criticized for victim-blaming, or her book that promoted the hotly debated attachment parenting philosophy (''Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way'').
When Richards was originally involved in the host search process, he said that social media response would play a role, but not a particularly big one '-- after all, plenty of the ''Jeopardy!'' core audience does not spend a lot of time on Twitter. But that appears to be changing, as the online backlash with Richards was too overwhelming for Sony executives to ignore.
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''Everybody cares about it, whether you're 'Jeopardy!' or 'Big Brother.' That's our world today,'' said Marc Berman, who runs the website Programming Insider. ''The world has changed '-- it's not just about watching a television show. It's about people interacting.''
Two of Bialik's stances drawing the most ire are her quotes on vaccines and her role as a ''science ambassador'' for Neuriva, an over-the-counter supplement marketed as a way to improve brain health, which has been slammed as pseudoscience. Bialik, who rose to fame as the starring role in the 1990s NBC sitcom ''Blossom'' and then CBS's monster hit ''The Big Bang Theory,'' also earned her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007.
''Neuriva is backed by real science and vetted by a real neuroscientist: Me! I really am. Check your phone,'' Bialik cheerfully says in one of the commercials, adding the supplement helps with everything from memory to concentration. ''Don't trust your brain to any old supplement '-- trust the one backed by America's favorite neuroscientist. Again, that's me!''
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Bialik's partnership was announced in March, though the following month, Bloomberg Law reported that as part of a false advertising class action settlement, Neuriva manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser agreed to swap marketing language that the supplement was clinically or science ''proven'' with terms such as clinically or science ''tested.'' In the wake of Bialik's ''Jeopardy!'' announcement, social media users have also started sharing a Psychology Today article from 2020 that called Neuriva ''snake oil'' and ''pseudoscience nonsense.'' A representative for Neuriva did not return a request for comment.
James Russell Bateman, a behavioral neurologist, said clinical scientists often ''recoil'' at these products because they haven't been tested fully in humans '-- and companies make claims about them that aren't required to be true. They just include a warning label and note that supplements are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
''I see a lot of folks coming in who are desperate '-- cognitive decline in older adults is terrifying to them. They're worried about Alzheimer's and losing memory,'' said Bateman, an assistant professor at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. ''It's a vulnerable population who are willing to pay money for something that may not have much in the way of benefits.''
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There's ''always a kernel of scientific truth'' in these types of supplements, Bateman said, such as the fact that Neuriva contains the ''coffee cherry extract,'' which increases levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). One problem is that while that has been tested in mice '-- studies have sometimes shown it helps them go through mazes more quickly '-- it's unclear if it leads to improved cognitive skills in humans, or even increases levels of BDNF in the brain.
But when a celebrity with scientific credentials endorses such a product, it can make an impact. ''It gives a veil of legitimacy to something like this '-- I would say that there's quite a difference between having a basic science background and having done lab work, and then being able to translate that lab work into human trials,'' Bateman said. ''There's a big chasm there.''
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Bialik's publicist had no comment on her association with Neuriva, though in regards to her past comments on vaccines, said the actress and her sons are all fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and ''she believes in the science behind vaccines and medicine.'' A Sony spokesperson declined to comment on the backlash against Bialik, but pointed to a previous release that stated they are thrilled to have the actress on board.
Despite Bialik's explanation in her October video, in which she said it was ''disturbing'' that people won't get a coronavirus vaccine, some have still criticized her for vocalizing her wariness about vaccines in general. ''Now, do I think we give way too many vaccines in this country compared to when I was a vaccinated child? Yes,'' she said, and added that there is a ''tremendous profit'' made from vaccines and ''the medical community often operate[s] from a place of fear in order to make money.''
In other words, look for these issues to continuously arise on social media as Bialik takes the stage on ''Jeopardy!'' once again this fall. Given the late Alex Trebek's saintly reputation, and the fact that ''Jeopardy!'' is beloved for celebrating facts and knowledge, it's no surprise that Bialik's questionable statements are drawing fire.
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''If you're looking for a host to fill in for the one of a kind Alex Trebek, that nobody could match, nobody could top, your standard is so high here,'' Berman said. ''You have to check out everybody very carefully.''
BOMBSHELL UK data destroys entire premise for vaccine push - by Chris Waldburger - Chris Waldburger
Sat, 28 Aug 2021 09:30
This is an absolute game-changer.
The UK government just reported the following data, tucked away in their report on variants of concern:
Less than a third of delta variant deaths are in the unvaccinated.
Let me say that another way - two-thirds of Delta deaths in the UK are in the jabbed.
To be specific:
From the 1st of February to the 2nd of August, the UK recorded 742 Delta deaths (yes, the dreaded Delta has not taken that much life).
Out of the 742 deaths, 402 were fully vaccinated. 79 had received one shot. Only 253 were unvaccinated.
The report is here.
But this is the crucial page. Look at the bottom line.
Again, 402 deaths out of 47 008 cases in vaccinated; 253 deaths out of 151 054 cases in unvaccinated. If you get covid having been vaccinated, according to this data, you are much more likely to die than if you were not vaccinated!
Obviously some allowance must be made for more elderly people being vaccinated, but not enough to change the bottom line: this vaccine is not nearly as effective as advertised.
And with all its unknowns, and a much higher adverse reporting number than all other vaccines combined, a complete recalibration of global policy is the only moral option.
Countries around the world, as months pass since vaccinations, are experiencing a surge in vaccinated deaths and hospitalizations. 60% of hospitalizations in Israel are fully vaccinated patients. (Hence the mad rush for untested boosters.)
The powers that be will not admit there is something terribly wrong. They will not acknowledge the clear science that people with natural immunity, and the young and healthy, do not need to take the risks of these injections. Read this very important piece on natural immunity. Reliable studies showing the superiority of natural immunity are just ignored by our overlords.
Instead they will jab and jab and jab again. The vaccine passports will be renewable every six months. Countries are ordering up to 8 shots per citizen. The masks will not go away. Israel, the pre-eminent vaxxed nation, is in lockdown.
The report also made one other important admission:
In other words, getting vaccinated to protect others is not true!
This is NOT a sterilising vaccine that stops diseases like polio or hepatitis using live virus. This is for you alone. Which means, as experts like Martin Kulldorff, biostatistician, epidemiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, have long said, it makes zero sense to vaccinate the young and healthy.
We are dealing with a world-historical error, and in fact a global assault on young bodies.
To be clear, I make no advice to anybody about taking the vaccine or not. I may well have decided to take it if I were in a risk category, or if I knew I did not have to wear a mask or get tested after taking a single shot. Your decision should be guided by consulting with a doctor, informed consent, and your own conscience.
And you should ask yourself why there is no explanation for the hundreds of thousands of women experiencing menstrual changes after the shot, or the way vaccines are being mandated at the same time they are under investigation for unknown risks.
What I will say categorically is that you will have to answer one day, in this life or the next, for where you stood on the issue of mandating medicine for the healthy without informed consent, on giving cover for governments to shove things down kids' noses, and locking down all that makes life worthwhile. Where were you when kids' freedoms were stolen from them? I doubt there will be much forgiveness from that generation.
Every time somebody posts a meme mocking vaccine hesitance, not only do they alienate the hesitant, and radicalize them, they implicitly endorse a new police state in which a liberal government like Australia feels empowered to pepper spray kids in the face for not wearing a mask that has not been conclusively shown to prevent viral transmission.
For crying out loud, this what even the World Health Organization admits about masks:
The vaccines will not end these measures, especially in countries with low vaccination rates. They cannot, unless these governments admit their massive errors. Their booster shot push makes this unlikely.
Finally, why does the media not even report on governmental data? Why am I reporting this stuff?
I have no idea, but it is truly sinister.
Ask yourself why the media will not even mention the fact that this 23-year-old Irish footballer below, in perfect health, received a vaccine three days before dropping dead:
God have mercy.
Afghanistan live updates: U.S. launches strike on ISIS-K - The Washington Post
Sat, 28 Aug 2021 09:14
The U.S. military carried out a drone strike on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on Friday, the first retaliatory action following an attack at Kabul airport that killed 13 American service members and at least 170 other people.
The terrorist group, known as Islamic State-Khorasan or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the Thursday airport bombing, and President Biden told the extremists that U.S. forces would ''hunt you down and make you pay.''
''The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangahar Province of Afghanistan,'' said Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a U.S. military spokesman. ''Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties.''
The strike came as the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned Americans of ongoing security threats at the capital's airport and urged them to ''leave immediately.''
Authorities are notifying families of the 13 service members who were killed in Thursday's attack. These are some of their names. The Taliban has requested that the United States keep a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan beyond the Aug. 31 withdrawal of U.S. military forces, the State Department said. As NATO allies end their evacuations, thousands of Afghan interpreters, embassy staffers and drivers are being left behind. Two British nationals killed in Islamic State attack at Kabul airportTwo British nationals and the child of another British national were killed in the suicide bombing that tore through crowds outside the Kabul airport, Britain's top diplomat said Friday.
''I was deeply saddened to learn that two British nationals and the child of another British national were killed by yesterday's terror attack, with two more injured,'' Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.
''These were innocent people and it is a tragedy that as they sought to bring their loved ones to safety in the UK they were murdered by cowardly terrorists,'' he said. ''Yesterday's despicable attack underlines the dangers facing those in Afghanistan and reinforces why we are doing all we can to get people out.''
The blast targeting the airport while evacuations were underway killed 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghans seeking to flee a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. A local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
''We will not turn our backs on those who look to us in their hour of need, and we will never be cowed by terrorists,'' Raab said in the statement.
Earlier Friday, however, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that the country's evacuation mission in Afghanistan was about to end.
''We will process the people that we've brought with us, the 1,000 people approximately in the airfield now,'' he told British media. ''But overall the main processing is now closed and we have a matter of hours.''
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The story of an Afghan man who fell from the skyAs the Taliban encircled Kabul on Aug. 15, Fada Mohammad told his family about what he'd seen on Facebook: Canada and the United States were airlifting anyone who wanted to leave out of the Kabul airport.
But if Fada wanted to go himself, recalled his father, Payanda Mohammad, he didn't mention it.
The young dentist never reached either country. The next day, he didn't make it beyond a rooftop four miles from Kabul airport, where his body was found after he plunged from a U.S. military plane as it took off '-- one of the most tragic and indelible images in the final chapter of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
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'So alone': As NATO countries end airlifts, interpreters, embassy staffers and drivers are left behindBERLIN '-- Thousands of Afghans who put their lives at risk to work with the United States' NATO allies have been left behind as the military evacuations wrap up, and they hunker down in fear over Taliban reprisals.
Britain became the latest nation to announce an end to its airlifts on Friday, as British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC radio that evacuations would end in hours. The British military has airlifted nearly 14,000 people out over the past two weeks, but ''the sad fact is that not every single one will get out,'' he said, with up to 1,100 eligible Afghans who ''didn't make it.''
Other countries fell further short of their targets. Germany, whose last soldiers flew out of Afghanistan on Thursday evening, said it had rescued around 4,000 Afghans '-- far shy of the 10,000 people it had identified as at risk.
The troop departures marked a new phase of uncertainty and fear for those who worked side-by-side with everyone from foreign troops to aid workers to project coordinators. While the United States is continuing airlifts, it is focusing on its own Afghan partners and stranded citizens.
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Study: Fully Vaccinated Healthcare Workers Carry 251 Times Viral Load, Pose Threat to Unvaccinated Patients, Co-Workers ' Children's Health Defense
Sat, 28 Aug 2021 07:15
A preprint paper by the prestigious Oxford University Clinical Research Group, published Aug. 10 in The Lancet, found vaccinated individuals carry 251 times the load of COVID-19 viruses in their nostrils compared to the unvaccinated.
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A groundbreaking preprint paper by the prestigious Oxford University Clinical Research Group, published Aug. 10 in The Lancet, includes alarming findings devastating to the COVID vaccine rollout.
The study found vaccinated individuals carry 251 times the load of COVID-19 viruses in their nostrils compared to the unvaccinated.
While moderating the symptoms of infection, the jab allows vaccinated individuals to carry unusually high viral loads without becoming ill at first, potentially transforming them into presymptomatic superspreaders.
This phenomenon may be the source of the shocking post-vaccination surges in heavily vaccinated populations globally.
The paper's authors, Chau et al, demonstrated widespread vaccine failure and transmission under tightly controlled circumstances in a hospital lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.
The scientists studied healthcare workers who were unable to leave the hospital for two weeks. The data showed that fully vaccinated workers '-- about two months after injection with the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (AZD1222) '-- acquired, carried and presumably transmitted the Delta variant to their vaccinated colleagues.
They almost certainly also passed the Delta infection to susceptible unvaccinated people, including their patients. Sequencing of strains confirmed the workers transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to one another.
This is consistent with the observations in the U.S. from Farinholt and colleagues , and congruent with comments by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conceding COVID-19 vaccines have failed to stop transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
On Feb. 11, the World Health Organization indicated the AZD1222 vaccine efficacy of 63.09% against the development of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. The conclusions of the Chau paper support the warnings by leading medical experts that the partial, non-sterilizing immunity from the three notoriously ''leaky'' COVID-19 vaccines allow carriage of 251 times the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 as compared to samples from the pre-vaccination era in 2020.
Thus, we have a key piece to the puzzle explaining why the Delta outbreak is so formidable '-- fully vaccinated are participating as COVID-19 patients and acting as powerful Typhoid Mary-style super-spreaders of the infection.
Vaccinated individuals are blasting out concentrated viral explosions into their communities and fueling new COVID surges. Vaccinated healthcare workers are almost certainly infecting their coworkers and patients, causing horrendous collateral damage.
Continued vaccination will only make this problem worse, particularly among frontline doctors and nurses workers who are caring for vulnerable patients.
Health systems should drop vaccine mandates immediately, take stock of COVID-19 recovered workers who are robustly immune to Delta and consider the ramifications of their current vaccinated healthcare workers as potential threats to high risk patients and coworkers.
CLARIFICATION: The comparison of viral load between vaccinated and unvaccinated (pre-vaccine era) as reported in the Chau et al. 2021 Lancet preprint is between two different variants of SARS-CoV-2. Dr. McCullough states directly that samples were compared to those ''from the pre-vaccination era of 2020.'' Thus, differences between these two groups aren't a result of vaccination status alone. In two additional preprint scientific publications (Riemersma et al. 2021, Chia et al. 2021), comparable viral loads of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 are reported among vaccinated and unvaccinated patients. However, this itself is an indictment of vaccine efficacy as both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals possess the ability to spread the Delta variant. Simply stated, COVID vaccines have failed to stop transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children's Health Defense.
Names Of U.S. Troops Killed In Kabul Terror Attacks Released | Across America, US Patch
Fri, 27 Aug 2021 23:11
Skip to main contentRylee McCollum (right) of Bondurant, Wyoming, was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, in Afghanistan, according to his sister, Roice McCollum. (Regi Stone via AP) It's Saturday, Aug. 28. We're beginning to learn the names of the 13 U.S. service members killed in Thursday's terror attack on Kabul, Afghanistan. American forces are pressing ahead with the evacuation from the Kabul airport, working under heightened security as intelligence agencies warn of additional terror attacks.
Here are some of the other stories we'll tell you about:
A Florida judge rules that Gov. Ron DeSantis' mask mandate ban is unconstitutional. Al Capone's favorite handgun and other personal items are up for auction by his granddaughters, who describe the ruthless mobster as a loving, dedicated family man. A livestock dewormer can still kill you if you use it to treat or prevent COVID-19. With President Joe Biden's Tuesday deadline to airlift and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the next few days "will be our most dangerous period to date" in the evacuation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
Find out what's happening in Across America with free, real-time updates from Patch. Navy Corpsman Max Soviak, a 2017 graduate of Edison Local Schools in northeast Ohio, was among 13 U.S. service members killed in Thursday's terror attack in Kabul, one of the deadliest attacks since U.S.-led forces entered Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago. >> Ohio Navy Medic Killed In Afghanistan Terrorist Attack, via Cleveland Patch
The names of service members killed '-- 11 Marines, one Navy sailor and an Army soldier '-- are coming out as Gold Star families are notified. Among the those killed are:
Find out what's happening in Across America with free, real-time updates from Patch. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Jackson, WyomingMarine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Missouri Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, of Berlin Heights, Ohio Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Riverside County, California Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California Patch will update this story as more names are added. >> Expectant Father Among 13 U.S. Service Members Killed In Kabul, via Across America Patch
Families Win In FloridaA Florida judge dealt a blow to unrelenting Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, ruling in a lawsuit filed by several parents and Tampa Bay attorneys that the governor's executive order banning mask mandates in schools is unconstitutional.
Because no statewide emergency declaration was in place when he signed the mask mandate ban, DeSantis exceeded his authority, the judge ruled. >> Families Win; FL Governor Loses School Mask Lawsuit, via St. Pete, Florida, Patch
Again: You. Are. Not. A. Cow.Patch told you last week about a confounding tweet from the Food and Drug Administration telling people not to use the livestock dewormer Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, "You are not a horse," the agency said. "You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."
Farm supply businesses in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, can't keep Ivermectin on the shelves. People buy it in large and small quantities, and as one retail person told Patch, "they never say why they are buying it, but we know."
One again, taking this can kill you. >> Holy Cow! Tuscaloosa Business Report Run On Livestock Dewormer, via Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Patch
Al Capone's Top GunMob boss Al Capone was known as "Public Enemy No 1," but his three granddaughters remember him as a loving, dedicated family man with a soft side the general public doesn't know.
They're auctioning off some of the Prohibition-era gangster's personal items, including diamond-encrusted jewelry with his initials, family photographs and his favorite handgun. >> Al Capone's Favorite Gun Among Treasures Granddaughters Offer At Auction, via Chicago Patch
Diane Capone displays a photo of her father, Albert "Sonny" Capone, and her grandfather, the ruthless mob boss Al Capone. (AP photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Around 'The Patch'Sirhan Sirhan Wins Parole: For the first time in decades, no one challenged parole for Sirhan Sirhan, who had been sentenced to life in prison for assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, via Los Angeles Patch.
"I Have a Dream" Revisited: On the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, voting rights marches are taking place in multiple U.S. cities Saturday, via Across America Patch.
Ida Upgraded To Hurricane: Hurricane Ida, upgraded to a Category 1 storm on Friday, could hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday as a major hurricane, via Houston, Texas, Patch.
Bodies In The Back Yard: Two brothers living in fetid conditions told police in Lyons, Illinois, they buried their mother and sister in the back yard to avoid costs and pandemic-related restrictions, via LaGrange Patch.
Cop Shoots Puppy: A Colorado couple is suing the Loveland Police Department and the city after a police officer shot their 14-month-old puppy in 2019, via Boulder, Colorado, Patch.
Good News Fix: A collection of 13 good news stories from Patch editors, including a 14-year-old who played with Green Day, a 13-year-old who's beginning his sophomore year as an aerospace engineering major at Georgia Tech, and a coach's inspiring words to his Little League World Series team, via Across America Patch.
Caleb Anderson, 13, is a college sophomore studying aerospace engineering. (Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech) Find Your PatchPatch is in more than 1,000 communities across America. Find your community and see what's happening outside your front door.
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The Afghanistan Debacle, Zalmay Khalilzad and The Great Reset
Fri, 27 Aug 2021 13:39
The Afghanistan Debacle, Zalmay Khalilzad and The Great Reset By F. William Engdahl19 August 2021 Image: Attribution: Credit: US State Department photo by Ron Przysucha / US representative Zalmay Khalilzad (left) and Taliban representative Abdul Ghani Baradar (right) sign the agreement in Doha, Qatar on February 29, 2020 / Public Domain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zalmay_Khalilzad#/media/File:Secretary_Pompeo_Participates_in_a_Signing_Ceremony_in_Doha_(49601220548).jpg
Much of the world is shocked by the apparent incompetence of the Biden Administration in the human and geopolitical catastrophe that is unfolding in Afghanistan. While Biden speaks out of both sides of his pre-scripted mouth, stating that everyone else is to blame than his decisions, then stating ''the buck stops here,'' only adds to the impression that the once sole-superpower is in terminal collapse. Could it be that this is all part of a long-term strategy to end the nation state in preparation for the global totalitarian model sometimes called the Great Reset by the Davos cabal? The 40 year history of the Afghan US war and the Afghani Pashtun who shaped the policy until today is revealing.
The airwaves of mainstream media across the globe are filled with questions of military incompetence or intelligence failure or both. It is worthwhile to examine the role of the Biden Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the State Department, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad. For the one figure who has shaped strategic US foreign policy since 1984 in the Administration of Bush Sr., and has been US Ambassador to both Afghanistan and to Iraq at key times during the US wars there, as well as the key figure in the present debacle, astonishingly little media attention has been given the 70-year old Afghan-born operative.
The Shadowy Khalilzad
Khalilzad, an ethnic Pashtun born and raised in Afghanistan until High School, is arguably the key actor in the unfolding Afghan drama, beginning with the time he was the architect of the radical transformation under Bush Jr of US strategic doctrine to ''preventive wars.'' He was involved in every step of the US policy in Afghanistan from CIA training Taliban Mujihideen Islamists (organization banned in Russia) in the 1980's to the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to the Doha deal with the Taliban and the current disastrous collapse.
The May 8 1992 New York Times reported on a leaked Pentagon draft ,later called the Wolfowitz Doctrine after the Pentagon official under then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. Paul Wolfowitz had been charged by Cheney with drafting a new US global military posture following the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to the Times leak, the document argued that, ''the US must become the world's single superpower and must take aggressive action to prevent competing nations'--even allies such as Germany and Japan'--from challenging US economic and military supremacy.'' It further stated, ''We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.'' It was de facto a declaration of unilateral imperialism.
At the time Zalmay Khalilzad worked under Wolfowitz as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning, where he was tasked with drafting the new doctrine, working with Wolfowitz and outside consultants, including Khalilzad's doctorate professor at the University of Chicago, RAND neo-conservative ''godfather'', Alfred Wohlstetter. Wolfowitz had also studied at Chicago under Wohlstetter. This group became the core of the so-called neo-conservative warhawks. Khalilzad once said Cheney personally credited the young Afghani for the strategy document, allegedly telling Khalilzad, ''You've discovered a new rationale for our role in the world.'' That ''discovery'' was to transform America's role in the world in a disastrous way.
Khalilzad's highly controversial policy proposal, while it was later deleted from the published document by the Bush White House, reappeared a decade later as the Bush Doctrine under Bush Jr., also known as ''preventive wars'' and was used to justify the US invasions of Afghanistan and later Iraq.
Bush jr., whose Vice President was Dick Cheney, initiated the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001,urged on by his Afghan adviser, Zalmay Khalilzad, using the excuse that Osama bin Laden, the alleged architect of the 911 attacks, was hiding under protection of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, so the Taliban must be punished. In May, 2001, some four months before 911, Bush National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice had named Khalilzad as ''Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Gulf, Southwest Asia and Other Regional Issues.'' The ''other regional issues'' was to become huge.
Khalilzad had headed the Bush-Cheney Transition team for the Department of Defense. His influence twenty yearas ago was enormous and largely hidden from public view. Former Khalilzad boss Wolfowitz was Number Two at the Bush Jr. Pentagon and former Khalilzad consulting client, Don Rumsfeld was Defense Secretary.
Bush declared war against the Taliban regime for refusing to extradite the Saudi Jihadist Bin Laden. There was no UN role, no debate in Congress. It was the new US doctrine from Khalilzad and Wolfowitz and their neo-con cabal, that might makes right. Here began the 20-year US debacle in Afghanistan that never should have begun in any sane world of rule by law.
The origins of the Taliban come out of the CIA project, initiated by Carter Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1979, of recruiting and arming radical Islamists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Saudi Arabia, to wage irregular warfare against the Soviet Red Army then in Afghanistan. The CIA code-named it Operation Cyclone and it lasted ten years until the Red Army withdrew in 1989. A Saudi-CIA asset, Osama bin Laden, had been brought into Pakistan to work with the Pakistani ISI intelligence to draw money and Jihadists from the Arab states into the war. A significant number of radicalized Afghan Pashtun students called Taliban or ''seekers'' were recruited from radical madrasses, some in Pakistan where the ISI protected them. That CIA war became the longest and most costly CIA operation in its history. By 1984 Khalilzad was in the middle of it all, as US State Department Afghan specialist.
During the latter part of the 1980's CIA war in Afghanistan, working with radical Islamist Mujahideen and Taliban mercenaries, Khalilzad emerged as the most influential US policy figure on Afghanistan. By 1988 Khalilzad had become the State Department's ''special advisor'' on Afghanistan under former CIA head, George Bush Sr. In that post he was the one who dealt directly with the Mujahideen, including the Taliban.
By then he had become close to Jimmy Carter's Afghan war strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Joining the US State Department in 1984 after teaching at Brzezinski's Columbia University, Khalilzad became Executive Director of the influential Friends of Afghanistan lobby where Brzezinski and Kissinger associate, Lawrence Eagleburger were members. The Friends of Afghanistan, with USAID money, lobbied Congress for major US support to the Mujahideen. Khalilzad also successfully lobbied to give advanced US Stinger missiles to the Mujahideen. During this period Khalilzad had dealings with the Mujahideen, Taliban, Osama bin Laden and what came to become Al Qaeda (a terrorist organization banned in Russia).
In the George W. Bush Administration, Khalilzad was named Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan in early 2002, and was directly responsible for installing CIA asset Hamid Karzai as Afghan president in 2002.Hamid's brother, warlord of the country's largest opium province, Kandahar, was paid by the CIA at least since 2001. Khalilzad was clearly aware.
Khalilzad himself had reportedly been ''selected'' by CIA recruiter, Thomas E. Gouttierre, when Zalmay was an AFS exchange High School student in Ceres, California in the 1960s. Goutttierre headed the CIA-financed Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. That would explain his later career rise to extraordinary influence in US Afghan policy and beyond.
Notably, the disgraced current Afghan ''President in flight,'' Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the American-appointed ''co-president'' of Afghanistan, was a classmate of Khalilzad in the early 1970s as an undergraduate at the American University of Beirut, as were both of their future wives. Small world.
By 1996 following several years of civil war among the rival factions of the CIA-backed Mujahideen the Taliban, backed by Pakistan's ISI, took control of Kabul. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan by 1996 was a direct consequence of Khalilzad's arming and backing of the Mujahideen in the 1980s, including of Osama bin Laden. It was no accident or miscalculation. The CIA was in the business of weaponizing political Islam and Khalilzad was and is a key player in that. Khalilzad served as board member of the Afghanistan Foundation during the Clinton years, which advocated that the Taliban join forces with the anti-Taliban Mujahideen resistance groups.
During the end of the Clinton Presidency Khalilzad played a key role in shaping the military agenda of the next President with his role in the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), together with Cheney, Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush and others who played key policy roles in the George W. Bush presidency. After the 911 attacks in 2001 Khalilzad orchestrated the Bush war against Taliban in Afghanistan and became Bush Envoy to Afghanistan. By November 2003 Khalilzad was US Ambassador to Afghanistan where his hand-picked President,Karzai, was installed. In February 2004 Ambassador Khalilzad welcomed US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and a Brigadier General Lloyd Austin in Kabul. Austin knows Khalilzad.
By December 2002 Bush had appointed Khalilzad to be Ambassador at Large for Free Iraqis to coordinate ''preparations for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.'' Khalilzad and his PNAC neocon cronies had advocated a war to topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein since the late 1990s, well before 911. Two years later after the US war against Iraq began, Khalilzad was made Ambassador to Iraq. No one person has been more responsible for the rise of radical Islam terror groups from Taliban to Al Qaeda in those two countries than Zalmay Khalilzad.
No ''Intelligence Failure''
In 2018 Khalilzad was recommended by US Secretary of State and former CIA head Mike Pompeo, to be US ''Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation'' for the Trump Administration. There was no hint of reconciliation from Khalilzad or Taliban. Here the wily Khalilzad entered into exclusive US-Taliban talks with their exiled envoys in Doha Qatar, the pro-Taliban Gulf state that houses leading Muslim Brotherhoods figures as well as Taliban. Qatar is reportedly a major money source for the Taliban.
Khalilzad successfully pressed Pakistan to release the co-founder of Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the key strategist of the Taliban victory in 1996, so that Baradar could lead the talks with Khalilzad in Doha. Then-President Trump reportedly approved that Khalilzad would negotiate in Doha solely with the Taliban, without the Kabul regime present. Baradar signed the February 2020 ''deal'' negotiated by Khalilzad and Taliban, the so-called Doha Agreement, in which the US and NATO agreed to a total withdrawal, but without any Taliban power-sharing agreement with the Kabul Ghani government, as Taliban refused to recognize them. Khalilzad told the New York Times of his deal that Taliban had committed to ''do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.''
This was highly dubious and Khalilzad knew it, as Taliban and Al Qaeda have been intimately linked since the 1980s arrival of Osama bin Laden in Afghanstan. The current leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is reportedly alive and in Taliban safe haven inside Afghanistan. In short, this is the ''deal'' Khalilzad struck with the Taliban for then-President Trump, a deal which was accepted by the Biden Administration with only a minor change stating initially that September 11, 2021 be the date of final US pullout. Talk about symbolism.
The fall of Afghanistan was not the result of an ''intelligence failure'' by the CIA or a military mis-calculation by Secretary Austin and the Pentagon. Both knew, as did Khalilzad, what they were doing. When Austin approved the secret dark-of-night abandonment of the strategic Bagram Airbase, largest US military base in Afghanistan, on July 4, without notifying the Kabul government, it made clear to the US-trained Afghan army that the US would give them no more air cover. The US even stopped paying them months ago, collapsing morale further. This was no accident. It was all deliberate and Zalmay Khalilzad was central to all. In the 1980s his role helped create the 1996 Taliban takeover, in 2001 the Taliban destruction, and now in 2021 the Taliban restoration.
The real gainer in this insanity is the globalist agenda of so-called Davos ''Great Reset'' cabal who are using it to destroy the global influence of the United States, as Biden domestically destroys the economy from within. No nation, not Taiwan, not Japan, not Philippines, not India or even Australia, nor any other nation hoping for US protection in the future will be able to trust Washington to hold its promises. The fall of Kabul is the end of the American Century. Little wonder the China media is filled with schadenfreude and jubilation as the discuss Silk Road deals with the Taliban.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine''New Eastern Outlook''
U.S. officials provided Taliban with names of Americans, Afghan allies to evacuate
Fri, 27 Aug 2021 10:52
The decision to provide specific names to the Taliban, which has a history of brutally murdering Afghans who collaborated with the U.S. and other coalition forces during the conflict, has angered lawmakers and military officials. | Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/U.S. Air Force via AP
U.S. officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to grant entry into the militant-controlled outer perimeter of the city's airport, a choice that's prompted outrage behind the scenes from lawmakers and military officials.
The move, detailed to POLITICO by three U.S. and congressional officials, was designed to expedite the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan as chaos erupted in Afghanistan's capital city last week after the Taliban seized control of the country. It also came as the Biden administration has been relying on the Taliban for security outside the airport.
AdvertisementSince the fall of Kabul in mid-August, nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated, most of whom had to pass through the Taliban's many checkpoints. But the decision to provide specific names to the Taliban, which has a history of brutally murdering Afghans who collaborated with the U.S. and other coalition forces during the conflict, has angered lawmakers and military officials.
''Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,'' said one defense official, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. ''It's just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.''
Asked about POLITICO's reporting during a Thursday news conference, President Joe Biden said he wasn't sure there were such lists, but also didn't deny that sometimes the U.S. hands over names to the Taliban.
"There have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this, for example, this bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through," he said. "So, yes there have been occasions like that. To the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred and they have been let through.
Advertisement"I can't tell you with any certitude that there's actually been a list of names," he added. "There may have been. But I know of no circumstance. It doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, that here's the names of 12 people, they're coming, let them through. It could very well have happened."
NSC spokesperson Emily Horne added: ''It is unfortunate that the White House was not asked for comment or explanation on such a serious issue. Had Politico asked us we would have given the same answer the President shared with the nation today: that in limited cases we have shared information with the Taliban that has successfully facilitated evacuations from Kabul.''
A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command declined to comment.
The list issue came up during a classified briefing on Capitol Hill this week, which turned contentious after top Biden administration officials defended their close coordination with the Taliban. Biden officials contended that it was the best way to keep Americans and Afghans safe and prevent a shooting war between Taliban fighters and the thousands of U.S. troops stationed at the airport.
AdvertisementAfter the fall of Kabul, in the earliest days of the evacuation, the joint U.S. military and diplomatic coordination team at the airport provided the Taliban with a list of people the U.S. aimed to evacuate. Those names included Afghans who served alongside the U.S. during the 20-year war and sought special immigrant visas to America. U.S. citizens, dual nationals and lawful permanent residents were also listed.
''They had to do that because of the security situation the White House created by allowing the Taliban to control everything outside the airport,'' one U.S. official said.
But after thousands of visa applicants arrived at the airport, overwhelming the capacity of the U.S. to process them, the State Department changed course '-- asking the applicants not to come to the airport and instead requesting they wait until they were cleared for entry. From then on, the list fed to the Taliban didn't include those Afghan names.
As of Aug. 25, only U.S. passport and green card holders were being accepted as eligible for evacuation, the defense official said.
Still, that U.S. officials handed over a list of Afghan allies and American citizens and residents shows the extent to which they outsourced security of the airport's outer perimeter to the Taliban. The Taliban has gone door-to-door in search of Afghan interpreters and others who helped U.S. and Western forces.
In written and verbal communications, Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, head of U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan, have referred to the Taliban as ''our Afghan partners,'' according to two defense officials.
The Biden administration has been coordinating the evacuation effort and airport security with the Taliban, which is running the checkpoints outside the airport's outer perimeter. Officials have been ''in daily communication'' with Taliban commanders about who to let in, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters this week.
The news comes just hours after two Islamic State terrorist attacks rocked the area just outside the airport, killing at least four U.S. Marines and wounding dozens more. A number of Afghans were also killed in the bombings.
AdvertisementAfter the attacks, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) appeared to criticize the Biden administration's strategy of coordinating with the Taliban, writing in a statement: ''As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can't trust the Taliban with Americans' security.''
1.6m Moderna doses withdrawn in Japan over contamination - Nikkei Asia
Fri, 27 Aug 2021 10:49
The Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 was cleared in May for emergency use in Japan. (C) Reuters YUMIKO URASAKI and YUKO NOMURA, Nikkei staff writers August 26, 2021 04:48 JSTUpdated on August 26, 2021 15:22 JST | JapanTOKYO/ NEW YORK -- About 1.6 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine have been taken out of use in Japan because of contamination reported in some vials, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said early Thursday.
Several vaccination centers have reported that vaccine vials contained foreign matter, according to an announcement from the ministry, which added it will seek to minimize the impact of the withdrawal on the country's inoculation program.
The ministry said later in the day that the substance that had been mixed in may have been metal. "It's a substance that reacts to magnets," a ministry official said. "It could be metal."
Takeda Pharmaceutical handles distribution of the U.S.-developed Moderna vaccine in Japan.
Nasdaq-listed Moderna confirmed receiving "several complaints of particulate matter" in vaccine vials distributed in Japan but said it had found "no safety or efficacy issues" related to these reports.
"The company is investigating the reports and remains committed to working transparently and expeditiously with its partner, Takeda, and regulators to address any potential concerns," a Moderna spokesperson told Nikkei, saying the drugmaker believed a "manufacturing issue" at a plant in Spain was the cause.
The vaccine lot in question and two adjacent lots have been put on hold "out of an abundance of caution," the spokesperson said.
The Japanese ministry has not halted the use of Moderna vaccines in other batches, deeming them safe.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Thursday afternoon that he had instructed the ministry to look into the case with safety as the top priority, adding he had received reports that the withdrawal "won't have a significant impact on the country's vaccination campaign."
The Moderna vaccine was granted emergency-use authorization in Japan in May.
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Joe Rogan told millions of young men to be skeptical about coronavirus vaccines - The Washington Post
Fri, 27 Aug 2021 07:46
On the April 23 episode of his wildly popular podcast, host Joe Rogan said, ''If you're, like, 21 years old, and you say to me, 'Should I get vaccinated?' I'll go 'No.'''
After an outcry, Rogan said he is not ''an anti-vaxx person'' and ''I'm not a doctor, I'm a '... moron,'' cautioning listeners that his show is meant to entertain and not to provide medical advice.
Rogan's listeners, however, may have already come to accept some of the anti-science claims made on his program. Rogan's most recent vaccine comments are hardly the only controversial things that have been said on his show. For example, he has hosted guests such as Alex Jones of Infowars who have promoted coronavirus misinformation on his show.
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All that could harm U.S. efforts to reach herd immunity, or the point at which so many Americans are immune that the virus can no longer spread. That's true especially among younger Americans, whom public health outreach efforts have largely ignored.
Why care what Joe Rogan says?
Rogan is not a niche YouTuber with a fringe audience. He is a podcasting juggernaut. His podcast, ''The Joe Rogan Experience,'' is the most popular podcast on Spotify, itself one of the most popular audio platforms available. With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, Rogan reaches nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. He's especially popular among young, mostly White male listeners and has been credited with launching Andrew Yang's political career.
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It's possible that few Rogan listeners plan to act on his medical advice. But for the past year, we have been polling demographically representative samples of Americans about various topics, including their willingness to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Our data suggests that Rogan's comments have an influence.
No, the pandemic didn't sink populism. It might have helped it.
We conducted demographically representative surveys once every two months, beginning in April 2020 and ending in February 2021, via Lucid Theorem's online opt-in sampling service. Each survey sampled about 1,000 Americans, with the exception of the February 2021 survey, which sampled about 1,500. Lucid Theorem uses quota sampling to produce samples that resemble the U.S. adult population with respect to age, gender identity, racial identity, household income, educational attainment, political partisanship and geographic region. To account for any remaining deviations between the sample and U.S. adult population, we weight responses to U.S. census benchmarks on age, gender, race, household income and educational attainment. Each survey asked respondents to report whether they were ''very likely,'' ''somewhat likely,'' ''not too likely'' or ''not likely at all'' to be vaccinated against the coronavirus once a vaccine became widely available.
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With this information, we scored respondents as more vaccine hesitant '-- meaning, intending to forgo a vaccine '-- if they indicated that they were ''not too likely'' or ''not likely at all'' to receive a vaccine. In the study's February wave, those who said they already been vaccinated were scored as not hesitant. We also asked respondents to report how frequently, in the previous month, they had watched or listened to dozens of different programs. In our analysis, we compare the effects of Rogan listenership with how frequently respondents watch ''local news'' and ''national news'' broadcasts and listen to programs such as ''The Daily'' (a popular podcast) and NPR (on the radio).
Respondents could indicate that they watched or listened ''never,'' ''just once or twice,'' ''about once a week'' or ''almost every day.'' We considered respondents to be regular viewers or listeners of each program if they reported watching or listening to each program at least once a week that month. We also asked respondents about such information as their political partisanship, attitudes toward scientific experts and personal demographics.
The majority of Americans support 'Bidenomics.' The pandemic changed minds significantly.
Rogan listeners are skeptical about the vaccine
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Even after accounting for a wide range of well-studied social, political and demographic factors that influence intentions to vaccinate against the coronavirus, regular Rogan listeners '-- who made up 22 percent of our sample '-- were significantly less likely to intend to vaccinate than those who do not regularly listen.
However, we only found this pattern after the first round of federal government emergency-use approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the study's December and February waves. This coincides with when Rogan began to talk more '-- and skeptically '-- about the vaccines. For example, in January 2021, he said he may not receive a shot. That came after he moved from California to Texas to get ''more freedom,'' while disparaging people who wear masks. Shortly afterward, he posed maskless while meeting the Texas governor.
In short, Rogan repeatedly spread dubious coronavirus-related information. In December 2020, regular Rogan listeners' intentions to vaccinate were 15 percentage points lower than those of non-listeners. By February 2021, they were 18 percentage points lower, both statistically significant effects.
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That's also noticeably different than for listeners of comparable radio programs and podcasts. Regular NPR radio and ''The Daily'' podcast listeners, for example, were statistically neither more or less likely to intend to vaccinate throughout the duration of the study and in some survey waves were even significantly more likely than non-listeners to intend to vaccinate. For example, in December 2020, NPR and ''The Daily'' listeners' intentions to vaccinate were respectively 18 and 19 percentage points higher than those of non-listeners.
The 'Dr. Rogan' experience?
Our data is correlational. We cannot determine that listening to Rogan causes someone to become skeptical about the vaccine; people who are skeptical about the vaccine may be more likely to listen to Rogan. But we can conclude that Rogan's audience is more likely to hesitate to get the vaccine, compared with listeners of our set of other podcasts and radio programs.
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This finding is consistent with the idea that Rogan listeners may be heeding his and his guests' nonexpert medical advice. As someone who is able to garner a truly massive audience in a very fragmented media landscape, Rogan's voice becomes very important '-- both because he is influential and because his influence is often ignored by researchers and public health planners who tend to focus on legacy and social media.
The challenge of detecting misinformation in podcasting
Fri, 27 Aug 2021 07:45
A podcast studio stands on a table at the Medientage Mitteldeutschland. (Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa)Confronted by viral conspiracy theories, climate change denialism, extremist movements, and anti-democratic groups (among others) feeding off false information online, social media platforms have taken steps in recent years to curtail the spread of misinformation. But even as tech companies have come under pressure to crack down on misinformation, one key avenue of information distribution in the digital economy'--podcasting'--has escaped significant scrutiny, despite the massive scale of the podcast ecosystem.
Nearly 116 million Americans'--or around 41%'--listen to podcasts monthly, but only recently have podcasters begun to receive scrutiny for their role in spreading misleading or false content. When Joe Rogan'--perhaps the world's most popular podcaster'--questioned in April the relative risks of COVID-19 vaccines for young people, he came under intense criticism. Rogan quickly backtracked, telling his more than 11 million listeners that he had been a ''moron.'' But that retraction may have been too late, as there remains a strong correlation between listeners of the Joe Rogan Experience and vaccine hesitance.
Unfortunately, the spread of misinformation in podcasts appears to be common. In a preliminary analysis of more than 8,000 episodes of popular political podcasts, approximately one-tenth includes potentially false information. Due to the way podcasts are distributed, however, addressing the problem will require a different approach than in other sectors of the tech industry, one that combines broad infrastructure changes and a fundamental rethinking of the role of the listener in content moderation.
A perfect misinformation storm
The term ''podcasts'' was first coined in 2004 to describe an emerging trend in audio that allowed consumers to subscribe to and play serial content at any time through an MP3-style device, like an iPod. Podcasts evolved from talk radio broadcasting conventions, but instead of relying on terrestrial or digital radio, the medium's early adopters published through RSS feeds that users could subscribe to directly to access content. This open-sourced RSS architecture helped to eliminate programming regulations and content volume restrictions tied to available airtime. Producers no longer required transmitters, licenses, or access to studios in order to broadcast. In this medium, ''anyone can be a publisher, anyone can be a broadcaster,'' as one of its pioneers put it. Today, 57% of Americans, or approximately 162 million people, have ever listened to a podcast, compared to 11% a decade ago.
Given the wide and growing reach of podcasts, as well as their potential for spreading misinformation, why has this space largely escaped content moderation debates? There are four reasons why this might be the case.
Although podcasts have much in common with social media platforms, the relationship between publisher and audience more closely resembles traditional media platforms like radio or television. On Twitter and Facebook many people can publish content, and many people can directly respond to that content, often in real time. In the podcasting ecosystem, the relationship between publisher and audience is far different: Anyone can publish content, but the audience cannot respond directly to it, reducing the ability of the crowd to fact check misinformation like they might on Twitter. This means that as with social media, the gatekeepers determining who gets to share content are all but eliminated in the podcasting ecosystem, but unlike social media platforms, there is no immediate potential for public debate.
Additionally, the nature of the medium makes it far more difficult to monitor potentially misleading content. Much of the recent research to quantify the effects of misinformation utilizes a URL-based strategy to identify low-quality domains posted on social media platforms. The audio-based nature of the podcasting medium represents a hurdle to this approach. Spoken word content can be analyzed using natural language processing techniques, but it is often prohibitively expensive to transcribe hours upon hours of content. Once a set of podcast episodes are in an analyzable form, finding misinformation within that corpus is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. False information can be buried within huge amounts of transcript text and easily missed. This makes podcasting an ideal tool to inject false or misleading information into mainstream discourse while going undetected.
The limited attention paid to podcasts by researchers and policymakers may be a result of misperceptions of the medium. Those investigating misinformation may perceive the podcasting space as less of a problem with respect to the spread of misinformation because, unlike other social media platforms, it is more difficult for content from a podcast to travel rapidly across the information ecosystem and go viral. This perception fails to consider some podcasts' massive audiences and that falsehoods spread through this medium can still be harmful'--even if they don't go viral in the usual meaning of the word. Indeed, the intimate relationship between a podcaster and her audience may mean that the audience will be more likely to believe untruths.
A final reason that the podcasting space may have escaped content moderation debates lies in the potential misperception of podcasts as not widely used and elite-driven'--home to prestige shows like Serial or This American Life. As early as 2005, academics and observers predicted that the podcasting space was unsustainable or a ''dying'' industry in search of a sustainable business model. These predictions have since been proven wrong. Podcast ad revenue is expected to hit $1 billion this year. With more than 2 million shows and 54 million episodes, podcasts have firmly arrived in the mainstream.
The potential for misinformation to go largely unchecked on podcasts is clear. But what is the scale of this problem? To explore that question, I recently examined more than 8,000 episodes of popular political podcasts. By using machine learning and natural language processing to match transcriptions of the podcasts with a fact-checking database of false or misleading political claims, I found that more than one-tenth of the episodes shared potentially false information. These flagged episodes have collectively received more than 100 million views, likes, or comments.
This false content spans a wide range of topics in U.S. politics, from immigration (e.g., the idea that most DACA recipients are ''hardened criminals'') to elections (e.g., that ''eight Iowa counties have more adults registered to vote than voting age adults living'') to abortion (e.g., that Democrats ''position on abortion is now so extreme that they don't mind executing babies after birth''). These sharing patterns often spike around key political events, such as the 2020 election, and have become more common over time.
The research project is ongoing and will expand to cover both more podcasts and more types of misinformation, including claims that have been linked to foreign influence operations. But for now, these early results indicate that popular political podcasts are serving as an important vector for the proliferation of misinformation.
Based on my preliminary research, the spread of false material via podcasts represents an underappreciated problem that will require infrastructure-level changes distinct from content moderation policies already in place on social media platforms. Unlike other forms of media in the iPhone age, podcasts are more difficult to moderate due to limitations with respect to audience engagement and the nature of podcast distribution mechanisms.
Consider the role of the consumer in policing content. Like Facebook or Twitter, podcast distributors largely rely on the ''crowd'' to identify objectionable content, but the process for reporting this material as a listener is not straightforward. Apple's podcasting app allows users to report concerns about episodes, but the reporting tool only provides a limited number of concerns to choose from, none of which encompass false or misleading content. Where Apple does specify guidelines about inaccurate or misleading content, these largely relate to podcast metadata and copyright issues. At present, Spotify provides no obvious way for users to report issues with specific episodes and only vaguely delineates content that is prohibited on the platform.
The decisions made by Apple and Spotify ultimately have downstream effects across the industry. Most of the smaller players in the field lack the financial resources to carry out extensive content moderation and look to larger companies like Apple and Spotify to determine what should be removed. In making it difficult (or all but impossible) for users to report misinformation, Spotify and Apple effectively remove the crowd from helping curb the spread of false or misleading content. Tackling misinformation in podcasts may require reincorporating the audience in some capacity'--from enabling users to comment or leave reviews on specific episodes to further experimenting with ways to transform podcasting into a conversation between the creator and the audience.
From an infrastructure perspective, the nature of the RSS feed, which is open-sourced and accessible by design, represents a significant hurdle for content moderation. For example, Apple's podcasting app'--one of the most widely used apps for streaming episodes'--aggregates content across thousands of approved RSS feeds. Once Apple approves a feed, it does not control the content added to these feeds. Although Apple can remove the RSS feed from its platform, some smaller platforms allow any content on an RSS feed to be played through their services, making it easy for listeners to access a removed podcast elsewhere. As a result, a content moderation decision at one platform, like removing a single episode urging listeners not to get a COVID vaccine, may not affect its availability via other platforms. Addressing the moderation of misleading material instead requires a fundamental rethinking of the broader podcast infrastructure.
This latter infrastructure-level change will be difficult to implement but is fundamental to addressing the risks associated with the spread of misinformation. The spread of online misinformation has already demonstrated its ability to undermine deliberative democracies, and podcasts represent an underappreciated avenue through which such information proliferates. Internationally, misinformation shared via podcasts may resonate with and be amplified by foreign actors intent on sowing discord in U.S. politics. As a first step, it is critical to understand the scope of this problem in order to identify appropriate policy solutions to address the spread of misinformation within the unique contours of the podcasting space.
Valerie Wirtschafter is a senior data analyst in the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies Initiative at the Brookings Institution and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
For this preliminary analysis, I rely on Politifact's fact-checked assessments, but in future iterations of this project, I will likely expand this to include other fact-checking websites.
Apple and Facebook provide financial support to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit organization devoted to rigorous, independent, in-depth public policy research.
Brexit: UK worker shortages could cancel Christmas - CNN
Thu, 26 Aug 2021 21:28
By Charles Riley and Lauren Gunn, CNN Business
Updated 4:25 PM EDT, Thu August 26, 2021
London(CNN Business) UK food producers and supermarkets are warning that empty shelves could persist through the year-end holiday season unless the government acts to ease a shortage of workers and truck drivers caused by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.
McDonald's ( MCD ) has already been forced to take milkshakes off its menu in the United Kingdom and Nando's has closed 45 restaurants because it was running out of its signature dish peri peri chicken. But suppliers are warning of further disruption that means Brits may have to go without holiday staples such as turkey and pigs in blankets when they celebrate the first Christmas after Brexit took full effect.
National chicken production has already been cut back by 10%, according to the British Poultry Council, which says that 16% of industry jobs are not currently filled. Christmas turkey production will be slashed by a fifth, the industry group estimates.
"When you don't have people, you have a problem '-- and this is something we are seeing across the whole supply chain. The labor crisis is a Brexit issue, and one that has been widely reported across the food and drink sector," Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said in a statement.
Supermarkets are warning that shortages could worsen ahead of the crucial holiday shopping period. Richard Walker, the managing director of supermarket chain Iceland, told BBC Radio on Wednesday that stores are already running short of some products including bread and soft drinks. Meanwhile, the chain is struggling to build stock needed for the peak season.
"The shortages consumers are seeing from the likes of Nando's and McDonald's in recent days and weeks highlight the immense impact this [truck driver shortage] is having on businesses," Walker said in a statement. "The real worry is that time is quickly running out as we approach the extremely busy Christmas period, during which a strong supply chain is vital for everyone."
Other grocery chains are in a similar position. Supermarket giant Tesco ( TSCDY ) said Thursday that it's suffering from pockets of low availability across a number of products, while rival Co-op said it was recruiting up to 3,000 temporary workers to help keep its shelves stocked.
"The shortages are at a worse level than at any time I have seen," Co-op CEO Steve Murrells told UK newspaper The Times.
Industry groups have blamed worker shortages on a tight labor market and an exodus of EU nationals from truck driving, farming and food processing jobs. The Road Haulage Association says the United Kingdom is short around 100,000 truck drivers, 20,000 of whom are EU nationals that left the country after Brexit.
A woman shops in an ASDA store on July 23, 2021 in Cardiff, United Kingdom.
Global supply chains are under enormous pressure from coronavirus fallout. And in recent months, staff shortages in Britain were exacerbated by rules that required people to isolate if they came into contact with someone who had been infected with the coronavirus. Those rules have since been scrapped but the problem isn't going away.
Meatpacking plants are suffering from staff shortages of roughly 14%, according to the British Meat Processors Association. Nick Allen, the group's CEO, told the BBC last week that the industry has "lost more and more labor back to Europe" following Brexit, and it's now running six weeks behind on producing pigs in blankets '-- or sausages wrapped in bacon '-- for Christmas meals.
"We have a highly resilient food supply chain and well-established ways of working with the food sector to address food supply chain disruptions," a UK government spokesperson said in a statement.
No easy fixEmployers have been unable to hire replacement workers from the European Union because of tighter immigration rules brought in by the UK government following Brexit. Instead, some companies including Tesco ( TSCDF ) are offering signing bonuses of £1,000 ($1,375) to drivers.
But that may not attract enough workers in a labor market with a record 1 million job openings and an unemployment rate under 5%. Walker, from the supermarket Iceland, said the government has made the truck driver shortage worse by leaving the profession off a "skilled worker" list that would allow for more immigration.
"This is caused by the government's failure to appreciate the importance of [truck] drivers and the work they do for us. But even if they were immediately added, it would take four to six weeks because they need to get a right to work [document] and have a PCR [coronavirus] test, a place to live '-- they need to be recruited. So it's not a light switch that will happen overnight," he told BBC Radio.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, has called on the government to rapidly increase the number of driving tests taking place for truck drivers, provide temporary visas to EU workers and change how driver training is funded.
Griffiths, from the British Poultry Council, said the government should also extend a program for seasonal agricultural workers to the meat sector.
"Our asks are clear and they provide government a way out of this problem. If that means relaxing immigration rules or accepting regulatory alignment with the EU, then these are the steps that must be taken to put British food on the road to recovery," he said.
The UK government has announced some measures to increase the number of driving tests for truck drivers. But a spokesperson for the government said that "most of the solutions" will be driven by industry.
"We want to see employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labor from abroad and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work," the spokesperson added.
Collapsed Miami condo had extensive corrosion: report | Fox News
Thu, 26 Aug 2021 21:21
Published August 26, 2021
The video shows extensive corrosion where one column met the Surfside building's foundationMIAMI (AP) '-- Video released by a team of federal investigators shows more evidence of extensive corrosion and overcrowded concrete reinforcement in a Miami-area condominium that collapsed in June, killing 98 people.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology also announced Wednesday it will conduct a five-pronged investigation into the Champlain Towers South collapse, which will be led by Judith Mitrani-Reiser. She is a Cuban-born engineer who grew up in Miami.
"We are going into this with an open mind and will examine all hypotheses that might explain what caused this collapse," Mitrani-Reiser said. "Having a team with experience across a variety of disciplines, including structural and geotechnical engineering, materials, evidence collection, modeling and more, will ensure a thorough investigation."
This aerial image shows an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed three days earlier, resulting in fatalities and many people still unaccounted for, in Surfside, Fla., Sunday, June 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
The video shows densely packed steel reinforcement in various sections of the building, along with extensive corrosion where one column met the building's foundation.
MIAMI BUILDING COLLAPSE: FEDERAL OVERSIGHT TEAM NAMES INVESTIGATORS
"The corrosion on the bottom of that column is astronomical," Dawn Lehman, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Washington, told the Miami Herald. She said that amount of corrosion should have been obvious and documented as part of the 40-year inspection that was ongoing when the building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed June 24.
"If there's that amount of corrosion, this should have been fixed," she said.
CHAMPLAIN TOWERS IN SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: WHAT TO KNOW
The images show beams, walls and columns that appear to be overcrowded with steel reinforcement, which suggests potential weaknesses, she explained.
"There is no reason there should be that kind of bar congestion," Lehman said.
Search and rescue personnel remove remains on a stretcher as they work atop the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo building where scores of people remain missing more than a week after it partially collapsed, Friday, July 2, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
The risk posed by "congested" vertical rebar in columns would have been even worse in spots where the rebar overlapped, which is known as "lap splice" regions, Abieyuwa Aghayere, a Drexel University engineering researcher who also reviewed the video, told the newspaper.
While it's already congested with rebar, at the splice regions, it would have been "even further congested," Aghayere told the Herald.
MIAMI BUILDING COLLAPSE: ATTORNEYS, EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON CAUSES
He said he was struck by how "powdery" and white the concrete in columns appeared in the newly released video. Stone-like aggregates used to strengthen concrete during construction typically remain visible but they were not in the images from the collapse site.
"The white color just stuns me," Aghayere told the newspaper. He added that instead of seeing aggregate material mixed into the concrete, "it's just homogenous," which is likely indication of saltwater damage.
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He said it is impossible to tell from just the images whether the concrete used in original construction was weaker than the designs called for, or whether the apparent weakness was due to damage over time.
"It doesn't look like normal concrete to me. What's going on?" Aghayere said.
Executives warn of growing container ship shortages
Thu, 26 Aug 2021 19:01
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For months the world's largest shipping groups have grappled with container shortages and a lack of berths in ports, as seesawing demand and Covid-19 heaped pressure on global logistics. Now another shortage is occupying the industry's attention: that of the ships themselves.
Executives have warned that, despite a recent surge in orders for new vessels, the availability of container ships is likely to remain strained in coming years given soaring demand for their services and the complexity of retooling fleets for environmental reasons.
Xavier Destriau, chief financial officer of Israel's Zim, one the world's largest shipping groups, said that the tight supply of vessels posed ''a potential major threat'' given that many companies have hesitated until this year to order new capacity, while many old ships are overdue for scrapping.
''We are looking at the potential risk of pressure on supply in terms of vessels,'' he said. ''We're talking three, four or five years along the line.''
His warning was echoed by Andi Case, chief executive of Clarksons, the world's largest shipping broker, who said the number of shipyards globally had dropped by two-thirds since 2007 to about 115. ''We are miles off oversupplying the fleet,'' he said.
Those shipyards still in operation have received a deluge of orders after container shipping groups raked in unprecedented profits over 2020-21, after surging demand for goods spurred a meteoric rise in freight rates from the second half of last year.
Shipping groups have ordered vessels capable of carrying 3.2m 20-foot containers so far in 2021, the most in the year to date on record, according to Clarksons Research, its analytics arm.
But there are concerns this will still not be nearly enough to meet global demand. New orders are equivalent to 20 per cent of the current fleet's capacity '-- up from around 10 per cent in 2019, but far below the 60 per cent level in 2007.
A vessel shortage raises the prospect of persistently high freight costs, albeit lower than current exorbitant levels. The industry had been plagued by the opposite problem in the past decade with a glut of vessels straining profitability, leading to the collapse of South Korea's Hanjin Shipping and forcing consolidation.
Some industry figures still privately express concerns about over-ordering, despite the increase in global demand, pointing to the shortage of container equipment and infrastructure bottlenecks as more pressing issues. But a lack of extra capacity would mean supply chains are even more vulnerable to one-off disruptions such as the Chinese port closures that have roiled global trade this year.
Another reason for industry hesitancy is over the type of vessels to order given incoming environmental regulation.
Global rules on energy efficiency that come in from 2023 have spurred interested in liquefied natural gas-powered ships, but orders have been stuck at the same percentage of total orders since October 2019.
LNG reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about a quarter compared with traditional fuels but it is controversial because it locks in substantial emissions for 25 years. Environmental activists believe the industry needs to make a more radical leap to clean fuels such as green ammonia or hydrogen.
Maersk, the world's largest container shipping group, has shied away from ordering LNG-powered vessels because of technological and regulatory uncertainty.
But Destriau and Case argue shipping companies should embrace LNG and act now to reduce emissions rather than waiting for new technologies to arrive. Zim has signed long-term charter agreements for 20 LNG-fuelled vessels this year.
''Is it OK to wait 10 years to say 'maybe by then hydrogen will be ready'?'' said Case. ''The drive should be to eradicate the heavy fuel oil-powered ships.''