1388: Sandwich Generation

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 29m
October 7th, 2021
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Executive Producers: John Bulger, Dame Julian, Duchess of Bastrop County, Sir Rick of the Purple Sage, Baronet Sir Dan the man, 'Sir-pents of the Padre Woods, Rob Maiatico, Sir Antonio of Madrid, Shifty of the Quay, The Potent Wizard, Baronette Patrick of the Pugner order

Associate Executive Producers: John Taylor, John M Adams, Darius Gandhi, Daniel Mioc

Cover Artist: Mountain Jay

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Woodstock
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Suggested chapter: Racial makeup - majority blacks on all shows. No asians or multiculti
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14:23
Suggested chapter: JCD is the James Cameron of the sinking titanic m5m
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16:07
Suggested chapter: Sen Edward Markey Democrat Message to Zuckerberg: Your days are over. Congress will take action against Fb
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16:39
Suggested chapter: Phoney baloney spook Fb 'whistleblower' Frances Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook's civic integrity team
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18:27
Suggested chapter: Suggested a 'Federal agency' be formed to POLICE face bag.. ie the internet
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22:08
Suggested chapter: Centre of Humane Technology funded by the Open Society Institute - scam a holes
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26:07
Suggested chapter: What they really wanted was to regulate the internet from day one
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38:32
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40:26
Suggested chapter: Lies: 'fb algos suppress clickbait and divisive stuff' on the feed
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41:30
Suggested chapter: JCD 70s 80s Internet goals: All libraries online. Precision targeted ads. Customised news.
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46:32
Suggested chapter: Gov has ordered google to provide word searches
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47:02
Suggested chapter: Will they push this to the ISP or protocol level so that you can't set up a server anymore
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47:24
Suggested chapter: Good news source called Torrentfreak.com
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47:34
Suggested chapter: VPN providers are being sued by movie makers for facilitating copyright infringement
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48:25
Suggested chapter: Decentralisation is solution to internet regulation / gov controls
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50:44
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51:52
Suggested chapter: Digital deletion opportunity during the outage. Like shredding documents
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55:31
Suggested chapter: bogus 'whistleblower' was part of team that censored Hunter Biden laptop story
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57:02
Suggested chapter: Massive hack of twitch, watching gamers. Top 10,000 highest earners 23.5k
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58:31
Suggested chapter: On twitch. In 24m they made $9.4 million
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Suggested chapter: Fauci at the Milken Institute: 2019 viral video. They plan rushing through a universal flu vaccine after a chinese flu outbreak
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Suggested chapter: Normally takes 10y to develop a vax. Chinese novel avain virus could provide an excuse to rush flu vax bypassing 10y of trials
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Suggested chapter: CDC director: The flu gonna pick up this year.
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1:12:21
Suggested chapter: Definition of immunity has changed.. Natural immunity has been erased and is now called 'Infection induced immunity'
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The 'Whistleblower'
Free speech doesn't scale
Whistleblower tobacco narrative legal smoking
So it's a PR operation in collaboration with the MSM to try to push laws to regulate social media companies. The Washington Free Beacon article says the law firm working with her is not only connected to Obama but also the Center for Humane Technology and that group is connected to the WEF, the co-founder Aza Raskin ("is a co-chairing member of the World Economic Forum's Global AI Council")
I've never watched the documentary The Social Dilemma but I remember you guys talking about it and John didn't like it and I don't remember exactly why.
The CHT seems to be always looking for a pretext to push laws to regulate the internet and target FB specifically for some reason and not Google, Tristan Harris' former boss. (apparently Harris wanted Google to use its influence to change the minds of its users to make them more 'ethical' or something.)
The specific change they're talking about is making sharing links more "difficult" by adding another click.
2 articles for the show notes:
"But Burton is now deeply integrated with an emerging infrastructure on the left comprised of individuals and organizations, including the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology, seeking to press Facebook to more aggressively police political content.
The Center for Humane Technology's "key advisers" also include Facebook cofounder and former New Republic owner Chris Hughes and is funded by left-wing charitable organizations including George Soros's Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation."
Mandates
Remember: It’s not your third shot… it’s your NEXT shot
VAERS
Vaccine administration is bad
1) The vaccine is light and temperature sensitive. At least two agencies I have contact with are storing the vaccine on the counter in clinics for up to 6 hours.
2) Providers have to navigate complex storage rules and I guarantee they’re not being stored at the appropriate temperature and may be rendered unusable before they’re ever drawn up.
3) Pfizer has to be mixed in a very specific way. They’re not doing it.
Exemption Document
Covid-19 Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the Literature
An examination of over 100 Covid-19 studies reveals that many relied on false assumptions that over-estimated the benefits and under-estimated the costs of lockdown. The most recent research has shown that lockdowns have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19 deaths. Generally speaking, the ineffectiveness stemmed from individual changes in behavior: either non-compliance or behavior that mimicked lockdowns. The limited effectiveness of lockdowns explains why, after more than one year, the unconditional cumulative Covid-19 deaths per million is not negatively correlated with the stringency of lockdown across countries. Using a method proposed by Professor Bryan Caplan along with estimates of lockdown benefits based on the econometric evidence, I calculate a number of cost/benefit ratios of lockdowns in terms of life-years saved. Using a mid-point estimate for costs and benefits, the reasonable estimate for Canada is a cost/benefit ratio of 141. It is possible that lockdown will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in modern history.
Covid Down Under
Victoria goes from Lockdown to Lockout
BTC GME APES
Yellen / IRS / $600 - why $600?
1. ten months ago
Billionaires are blaming the GameStop surge on Covid stimulus checks
Saturday 30 January
quote:
"Billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman has made similar comments about the stock surge. Mr Cooperman, who was convicted of insider trading in 2016, told CNBC on Thursday the $2,000 and $600 coronavirus aide checks were to blame for GameStop’s rocketing share price."
2. yesterday (+ video, 1 min.)
Yellen defends IRS rule requiring banks to report all transactions over $600
quote:
"Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is defending a Biden administration proposal that would require banks to report data to the Internal Revenue Service on transactions over $600, calling the collection of information “routine,” after taking heat for the idea that is widely seen as an unprecedented invasion of privacy."
Plandemic
Milken Video Actors
The first clip featured Michael Specter, a journalist from The New Yorker and also an adjunct professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Rick Bright, the director of HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
Climate Change
Farm to Fork: How the EU and the Davos Cabal Plan to Control Agriculture
Farm to Fork…
In May 2020 the EU Commission released its Farm to Fork Strategy. The official Brussels rhetoric makes it sound like a food nirvana is coming. They state, “The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the European Green Deal, aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly.” Wow, that sounds super.
They then get to the real agenda: “We need to redesign our food systems which today account for nearly one-third of global GHG (Green House Gas) emissions, consume large amounts of natural resources, result in biodiversity loss and negative health impacts…” This is a clever way of demonizing farmers and our food production as CO2 violators. The solution? “New technologies and scientific discoveries, combined with increasing public awareness and demand for sustainable food, will benefit all stakeholders.” What new technologies will be explained.
How do the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels plan to “redesign our food systems” to eliminate one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050? By forcing farmers to go bankrupt by demanding new costly inputs to production and radical new genetic manipulated patented plants with unproven safety. Above all they plan to lift the current de facto ban on gene-edited plant cultivation. For those who do not know, it is the same unproven risky technology used in the COVID-19 vaccines of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA gene-edited vaccines using CRISPR.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, says of the Farm to Fork Green Agenda, “Farmers will need to radically transform their production methods and make the best use of technological, digital, and space-based solutions to usher in the new agricultural transition.” So they plan a radical transformation. Already this sounds ominous.
To raise the share of pesticide-free organic farming to 25% of the EU total at the same time reducing chemical pesticide use by 30% by 2030 sounds great to the uninformed. Like the claims of Monsanto and the GMO industry that their GMO crops reduce need for pesticides, it is a lie. The EU is using this as bait to introduce a radical change in strict current EU rules for allowing approval of gene-edited plants and animals into agriculture. In their May 2020 document on Farm to Fork Green Deal, the EU states that the Commission is “carrying out a study which will look at the potential of new genomic techniques to improve sustainability along the food supply chain.” This means gene-editing, CRISPR/Cas9 genetic modification.
‘New Genomic Techniques’
In April this year, the EU Commission released that study on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). NGTs are producing gene-edited plants and even animals. The report claims that NGTs, “techniques to alter the genome of an organism, have the potential to contribute to a more sustainable food system as part of the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy.” The report calls for a “public debate” to change the strict EU laws on approval of GMO crops that require extensive testing and labelling of GMO crops.
China
Supply Chains
Supply chains are wrapped up in Hyperledger integration and its slow - Ethereum based apparently
Hyperledger collaborates with more than 250 member companies, including the world’s leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and technology.
Join your peers in helping build and shape the enterprise blockchain ecosystem.
Build Back Better
CIA
Fake Biden
The digital projection window of Biden’s White House set shows flowers in bloom in the Rose Garden
Biden and Yellen on the 'set' in Whitehouse WTF?
OTG
Twitch streamers earnings
The Purge
Build The Wall
Big Pharma
COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates: Hollywood Battle Lines Emerge – The Hollywood Reporter
STORIES
Eurosurveillance | Nosocomial outbreak caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant in a highly vaccinated population, Israel, July 2021
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 13:02
HomeEurosurveillanceVolume 26,Issue 39, 30/Sep/2021 Article Rapid communication Open Access
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2021.26.39.2100822
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Pnina Shitrit1,2,*, Neta S Zuckerman3,*, Orna Mor3,4, Bat-Sheva Gottesman2,5, Michal Chowers2,5 View Affiliations Hide Affiliations
Affiliations: 1Infection Control Unit, Meir Medical Center, Kfar Saba, Israel 2Sackler Medical School, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv Israel 3Central Virology Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel 4Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel 5Infectious Disease Unit, Meir Medical Center, Kfar Saba, Israel * These authors contributed equally to the article and share first authorship.
Correspondence: Michal Chowers chowersm post.tau.ac.il
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Abstract Full-Text Figures & Tables References (14) Supplementary Material Metrics/Cited By Related Content AbstractA nosocomial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant infected 42 patients, staff and family members; 39 were fully vaccinated. The attack rate was 10.6% (16/151) among exposed staff and reached 23.7% (23/97) among exposed patients in a highly vaccinated population, 16''26 weeks after vaccination (median: 25 weeks). All cases were linked and traced to one patient. Several transmissions occurred between individuals wearing face masks. Fourteen of 23 patients became severely sick or died, raising a question about possible waning immunity.
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Facebook responds to whistleblower testimony by asking to be regulated | The Week
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 13:01
Embattled tech giant Facebook has issued a response following former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen's damning testimony before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Previously, Haugen leaked internal documents to both Congress and The Wall Street Journal, which then became the basis for the Facebook Files investigation published by the latter.
Haugen worked at the company "for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives '-- and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question," wrote Facebook's director of policy communications in a statement following the hearing.
And although the company does not agree with her "characterization of the many issues she testified about," Facebook agrees with Haugen on one thing '-- it's time for Congress "to begin to create standard rules for the internet."
The brief statement did, however, receive some criticism for its attempt to discredit Haugen, with one person even calling the response "utterly misguided."
Talk about a rough couple of days.
COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates: Hollywood Battle Lines Emerge '' The Hollywood Reporter
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:25
In August, a high-profile actor was on the set of a film when he came down with COVID-19 and was hospitalized. The star, known to the cast and crew as being dismissive of vaccines and masks, was said to be unvaccinated. The film shut down for three weeks, but not before more than a dozen crewmembers got sick, sources say. Ultimately, the stoppage resulted in a seven-figure hit for the production company. The Hollywood Reporter is withholding the actor's name because he didn't flout any specific protocol on the project. The actor's rep declined to comment.
Though Hollywood might appear unified when it comes to embracing such COVID-19 preventive measures as vaccines, the reality is more divided, mirroring the broader American population, where 44 percent are not fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. In the film and TV industry, there are no universal vaccine mandates in place, allowing for individual producers to determine whether those in Zone A '-- typically the project's main actors, who cannot wear a mask because of storylines, as well as key crewmembers '-- require proof of vaccination.
That wiggle room has resulted in a number of productions descending into chaos, as was the case on Paramount+'s The Offer, which shut down production in late July due to a Zone A COVID-19 positive. That positive person was publicly identified as a series star who was said to be unvaccinated. Sources tell THR that the stoppage resulted in a $6 million loss for the limited series about the making of The Godfather. (A Paramount+ rep counters that the figure was below $6 million.)
George Clooney calls it a ''crazy'' situation that some of his brethren are eschewing the COVID-19 vaccine. ''It's stupid. And it's stupid because every generation in our country for more than a lifetime has been asked to sacrifice something for the safety of their fellow man '-- get shot, fight Nazis,'' he says. ''All that anyone's being asked here is to get a shot in the arm and put on a mask. Grow up. Get something done.''
From studio backlots to agency conference rooms, the vaccine debate is dividing Hollywood just as the delta variant keeps up its destructive path. While vaccine skeptics are far less likely to voice their opinions publicly, plenty of industry holdouts remain. A number of performers, from Rob Schneider (now shooting Netflix's Home Team) to Letitia Wright (filming Marvel's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) have shared anti-vaccine positions on social media. In Wright's case, a set source says she has espoused similar views about the COVID-19 vaccines on the Atlanta production. The British actress quietly parted ways with her entire U.S. team of representatives in the wake of a backlash over posting a controversial anti-vaccine video in December.
Disney, the studio behind Black Panther, will begin rolling out a sticker system on all of its new productions in mid-October that requires visible proof of COVID-19 vaccination status, as stipulated in a return-to-work agreement between AMPTP and Hollywood's unions. Those in Zone A who are fully vaccinated will have a wristband. Those who are not, will not. (Anything already shooting is not covered.)
NBCUniversal recently found itself in an awkward standoff with Sean Penn. The Oscar-winning actor left the set of the Watergate-era limited series Gaslit in July and said he wouldn't return until every member of the production was vaccinated. But NBCUniversal, which already had imposed the strictest requirements possible according to on-set protocols established in September 2020 by an agreement between the AMPTP and the unions, only requires Zone A members to be fully vaccinated. Penn came back about two months later. His return was considered a compromise. (Only Gaslit's Zone A members were required to be vaccinated, but an NBCUniversal spokesperson says there is currently an all-zone mandate until production wraps.)
Penn, whose CORE organization was instrumental in supplying widespread COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution across Los Angeles County, also stuck his neck out while promoting his MGM film Flag Day and requested that unvaccinated moviegoers skip the cinemas. ''Stay home until you are convinced of these very clearly safe vaccines,'' Penn told THR, adding: ''We've normalized this notion of radical libertarianism, and it really is a violation of the idea of interconnectedness.''
Some actors have learned to coexist amid a murky landscape, in which some colleagues continue to avoid the jab. ''Each individual has his or her own rights. We aren't in control of anyone's body, only that person is,'' says Black-ish star Anthony Anderson. ''I'm vaccinated because I have preexisting conditions as a Type 2 diabetic, so I wanted to make sure that I did whatever I could to stave off this pandemic and COVID. But I'm not here to judge anyone on what they should do with their body. I can only govern what I'm doing with mine. As long as they respect me, I respect them. And as long as we keep our 6-foot distance and wear a mask, then we can interact and do what we want to do. But it's not my place to police anyone.''
Productions aren't the only Hollywood battlefield; social circles are also facing turmoil. THR learned of an instance that saw an A-lister cut ties with a beloved yoga instructor who refused the vaccine. The star had highly recommended the guru and facilitated introductions to a cadre of fellow insiders, some of whom are said to have ended the relationship as well to protect loved ones with vulnerable conditions.
And while many companies have instituted vaccine mandates for the return to work, the full picture isn't yet clear as many are still working from home. Still, some are angry about what they see from a distance. ''There are definitely people who have refused to get vaccinated, and they were putting the safety and health of their co-workers in jeopardy,'' the agency partner says. ''We've encountered a few, but people are now getting to the point where they've woken up to the reality that non-vaccinated people are the ones causing chaos and making others sick. Nobody wants to work in an environment where that is a possibility, and you are not fully protected.''
For now, Hollywood decisionmakers seeking to implement blanket COVID-19 vaccination requirements have their hands tied. The AMPTP-Hollywood's union protocols will remain in effect until Oct. 31. Furthermore, many productions feature actors and actresses under the age of 12, who are not yet approved to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
But some actors like Giancarlo Esposito are hoping that the unvaccinated simply avoid sets while the delta variant rages. ''If you don't want to vaccinate, go to a small island and sequester yourself,'' the Mandalorian and Better Call Saul actor says. ''[Otherwise] you're saying 'Fuck you' to all you other human beings. We all have to do it if we want to live. I don't understand how people don't vaccinate. For me, I've lost dear friends, so I know it's real. Not only in Europe but in America, friends who were completely healthy and uncompromised. The vaccine is the answer. I'm not downing anyone who doesn't want to vaccinate. Don't work. Go ride it out somewhere where you're not going to compromise anyone else if you get it.''
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
Oct. 6, 12:25 pm Updated to include a comment from an NBCUniversal spokesperson regarding its COVID-19 safety protocols on Gaslit.
WHO recommends broad rollout of world's first malaria vaccine
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:22
T he World Health Organization, acting on the advice of its scientific advisers, announced Wednesday that it would recommend a broad rollout of a much-needed malaria vaccine, saying pilot testing had shown that it was safe and could be effectively deployed in remote and rural settings.
The decision, which was announced by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, marks a landmark moment in the fight against malaria, for which no other vaccines exist. The disease killed roughly 400,000 people in 2019 '-- the most recent year for which statistics are available '-- mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. The biggest toll is on young children; an estimated 279,000 children under the age of 5 died from malaria in 2019.
''As some of you may know, I started my career as a malaria researcher, and I longed for the day that we would have an effective vaccine against this ancient and terrible disease,'' Tedros said during a news conference from Geneva. ''Today is that day, an historic day.''
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He said he believed the vaccine '-- the first for a human parasite '-- would save tens of thousands of lives.
The vaccine, known as RTS,S and developed by GSK, is given in four doses. The complexity of delivering a four-dose regimen in low-resource settings had raised concerns about how useful the vaccine could be in the real world. For that reason, the WHO's vaccine advisers previously recommended the vaccine be used first in a pilot program. That program began in 2019, with Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi deploying the vaccine.
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All three countries gave the first three shots of the vaccine at monthly intervals starting at either 5 or 6 months of age, with the last given 18 months or so after the first '-- around a child's second birthday. While the initial doses are given at the time other vaccines are administered, the last is not. It was feared that in remote and rural settings, parents might not bring their children back in for a final dose of the vaccine, limiting the vaccine's usefulness.
Another fear was that parents might assume the vaccine, which only offers partial protection, was more potent than it actually is and as a result, might let down their guard on other malaria prevention measures such as having children sleep under a treated bed net.
Tedros said the pilot program confirmed that the vaccine can be effectively delivered through child health clinics and that community demand for the vaccine is strong. More than 800,000 children have already received the vaccine.
Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said the vaccine ''offers a glimmer of hope for the continent.''
The pilot programs also laid to rest some safety concerns about the vaccine that had arisen during the clinical trials for RTS,S, said Kate O'Brien, director of WHO's department of immunization, vaccines, and biologicals.
Those studies raised questions about whether increased rates of meningitis, cerebral malaria, and an overall increase in deaths among girls were seen in children who had received the vaccines. The trials did not conclude that these concerns were real '-- the trial investigators felt the signals were due to chance, not causation. But having given the vaccine to more than 800,000 children, it is now clear there is no link, O'Brien said.
It will be up to member countries to carry out implementation of the rollout. And funding will need to be raised to help them do so, said Pedro Alonso, head of WHO's global malaria program.
While the vaccine does not offer full protection against malaria '-- and indeed is not as effective as vaccines against many childhood diseases such as measles or rubella '-- even partial protection can have a big impact on the burden of malaria. WHO experts noted that children who live in countries where the parasite circulates can contract it multiple times a year.
Being repeatedly sick stunts children's development, said Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization. The SAGE, as it is known, was one of the expert groups advising the WHO on the RTS,S decision.
Clinical trials of RTS,S suggested where used, the vaccine reduces the risk of contracting malaria by 40% and the risk of being admitted to hospital for severe malaria '-- a development that carries a high risk of death '-- by 30%. The pilot program confirmed that effectiveness in the field, said Pedro Alonso, director of WHO's Global Malaria Program.
Dyann Wirth, who chairs WHO's Malaria Policy Advisory Group said the world needs more and better malaria vaccines. But Wirth, an immunologist at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the decision to proceed with broad use of RTS,S could help spur development of next-generation vaccines.
Development of the vaccine took 30 years of work involving GSK and a network of African research centers with support from the Seattle-based nongovernmental global health agency PATH, as well as funding for late-stage development of the vaccine from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
''It has been a long road, and is extremely exciting to finally be able to say that RTS,S could soon be available '' alongside other malaria interventions '' to more children across Africa,'' Ashley Birkett, head of malaria vaccine development for PATH, told STAT via email.
COVID-19: New drug combo may combat coronavirus infection
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:21
Share on Pinterest Researchers have been testing several drug combinations to fight off SARS-Cov-2 infection. Daniel Grizelj/Getty ImagesThere is an urgent need for effective and readily available antiviral therapies to treat COVID-19.A new study has found that a drug combination involving the antivirals interferon-alpha (IFN-α) and nafamostat effectively combatted SARS-CoV-2 infection.The drug combination inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in cell culture and animal studies at lower concentrations than the individual drugs.The higher efficacy of the IFN-α-nafamostat combination at lower concentrations may help reduce side effects and improve patient outcomes.The drug combination produces its antiviral effect by inhibiting a host enzyme instead of a viral protein, potentially reducing the risk of drug resistance.Although high-income nations have achieved high vaccination rates, the unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has left low-income countries struggling to immunize their populations. This disparity in access to vaccines is highlighted by the fact that only 2.3% of individuals in low-income countries have received at least a single dose of the vaccine.
Until vaccines become available to the rest of the global population, effective antiviral treatments against COVID-19 could help reduce fatalities and even hospitalizations. Furthermore, antiviral treatments could play a pivotal role in the pandemic, especially in the event of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants resistant to vaccines.
Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
Although the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) has approved some antiviral treatments, these treatments have several shortcomings. These limitations include the need for intravenous administration, limited availability, high costs, and therapeutic effects confined to a narrow time window.
A recent study published in the journalViruses shows that a combination of two antiviral drugs, interferon-alpha (IFN-α) and nafamostat, was effective in combating SARS-CoV-2 infection.
''Here, we demonstrated that combinations of IFN-α with nafamostat appear to be effective for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 in cell culture and small animals. Moreover, the combinational therapies required lower drug concentrations than monotherapies, reducing side effects,'' said the study's lead author Dr. Denis Kainov, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
''Therefore, development of IFN-based combinations may lead to practical therapeutic options, especially for newly diagnosed SARS-CoV-2 positive [people] who have yet to develop severe disease.''
In contrast to the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines, antiviral treatments tested against COVID-19 have shown limited success so far.
Currently available treatments, such as remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies, are effective only during the early stages of COVID-19. Furthermore, there is mixed evidence about the effectiveness of remdesivir, whereas monoclonal antibodies have shown limited efficacy against new SARS-CoV-2 variants.
The limited success of single-drug therapies, also known as monotherapies, in treating people with COVID-19 has led researchers to use a combination of these drugs.
Combination therapies have been deployed against various infectious diseases due to their similar or better efficacy against the infectious agent at lower doses than the individual drugs. In other words, using two or more drugs can produce a synergistic effect, where the effect of the drug combination is greater than the sum of the effect produced by the individual drugs.
The use of lower drug doses in combination therapies can result in milder and fewer side effects. In addition, combination therapies can also reduce the risk of the emergence of drug-resistant variants.
Previous human studies had suggested that IFN-α alone and nafamostat in combination with another antiviral could be effective in treating COVID-19.
Consequently, the researchers investigated the antiviral effects of the IFN-α-nafamostat combination against SARS-CoV-2.
Interferons, including IFN-α, belong to a class of signaling molecules called cytokines that immune cells release during a viral infection.
During a SARS-CoV-2 infection, IFN-α helps recruit immune cells to the lungs and activate them, contributing to the antiviral response. IFN-α also stimulates the secretion of other cytokines that amplify the immune response, thus limiting SARS-CoV-2 replication.
In the present study, the researchers used pegylated IFN-α, a chemically modified form of IFN-α that lasts longer in the body than the unmodified form. Pegylated IFN-α, sold under the brand name Pegasys, is used in combination with other antivirals to treat hepatitis B and C.
On the other hand, nafamostat is a drug used for the treatment of acute pancreatitis and as an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots.
''Of all drugs with potency data from laboratory studies using human cell lines against SARS-CoV-2, nafamostat appears to be the most potent and may be the only drug where blood concentrations almost always exceed levels required to stop the virus from replicating. It is also likely that nafamostat will reach high levels in the lungs where the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes so many of its problems. Nafamostat also has a favorable safety profile,'' explained Dr. Kainov.
Dr. Kainov continued, ''The anti-blood-clotting properties of nafamostat may be a further potential advantage of this drug as micro clots in the vascular system can be complications of COVID-19. Nafamostat has been clinically studied in small case series of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and there are few planned randomized controlled trials.''
The researchers first compared the efficacy of the Pegasys-nafamostat combination with the drugs as monotherapies in laboratory cultures of human lung cells. They measured the ability of the drug combination and the individual drugs to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication and prevent the death of the cultured human lung cells due to the infection.
The Pegasys-nafamostat combination had comparable efficacy against the virus at low concentrations as the individual drugs at much higher concentrations.
The researchers then tested the combination in hamsters inoculated with SARS-CoV-2. Three days of treatment with the combination resulted in significantly lower viral RNA levels in the lungs than untreated hamsters in the control group.
The Pegasys-nafamostat combination had an additive effect on viral RNA levels. In other words, this effect of the combination treatment on viral mRNA levels was approximately close to the sum of the effect expected with the two individual drugs.
Combination therapy with Pegasys and nafamostat also resulted in increased expression of genes encoding cytokines involved in the antiviral response.
The researchers also investigated the potential mechanism for the synergistic effects of the Pegasys-nafamostat combination. Their previous research had shown that IFN-α increases the expression of the Serpin E1 gene in human cells.
Furthermore, other studies have shown that both nafamostat and Serpin E1 inhibit the expression of the enzyme transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), which plays a critical role in viral replication.
Hence, the researchers investigated whether the inhibition of TMPRSS2 mediated the synergistic actions of the Pegasys-nafamostat combination.
Similar to the previous experiment, the researchers treated SARS-CoV-2-inoculated hamsters with a combination of Pegasys, nafamostat, and a Serpin E1 inhibitor for 3 days. The inclusion of the Serpin E1 inhibitor eliminated the impact of Pegasys, inhibiting viral RNA levels in the lungs to a similar extent as nafamostat alone.
These results indicate that the activation of Serpin E1 plays a central role in mediating the antiviral effects of Pegasys. Moreover, these results suggest that the inhibition of TMPRSS2 possibly mediated the synergistic effects of Pegasys and nafamostat.
Identifying TMPRSS2 inhibition as the potential mechanism for synergistic effects of the Pegasys-nafamostat combination could lead to the development of other drug combinations that target this enzyme.
Significantly, SARS-CoV-2 and certain influenza viruses rely on TMPRSS2 for entry into human cells. Since the antiviral effects of the Pegasys-nafamostat combination are due to the inhibition of a host or human protein, it might reduce the likelihood of the emergence of drug-resistant variants.
This is unlike the action of other antiviral drugs that target viral proteins. Antiviral drugs that target viral proteins are more likely to result in drug resistance due to mutations in the viral protein.
Dr. Jordan Feld, a clinical scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, told Medical News Today:
''The concept is certainly attractive in that this approach would likely be effective irrespective of the viral sequence, which is quite relevant with the continuing emergence of new variants of concern. That being said, it would be helpful to confirm the mechanism somewhat more convincingly and to understand how specific the mechanism is.''
''Usually, resistance is not an issue with interferons because of the multi-pronged attack that interferon drives. However, if the antiviral effect, in this case, is very specific to TMPRSS2 activity, it is possible that resistance could emerge. Given that both drugs can be given to people, it would certainly be reasonable to consider a pilot trial of this combination,'' Dr. Feld continued.
Dr. Kainov indicated that they intend to conduct clinical trials involving the drug combination in the future.
For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.
COVID-19 rapid test kits recalled over false positives - Axios
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 10:55
Sign up for our daily briefingMake your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.Catch up on the day's biggest business storiesSubscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day's business news and trends and why they matterStay on top of the latest market trendsSubscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.Sports news worthy of your timeBinge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.Tech news worthy of your timeGet our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.Get the inside storiesGet an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everydayCatch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everydayWant a daily digest of the top Denver news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios DenverWant a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des MoinesWant a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin CitiesWant a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa BayWant a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios CharlotteWant a daily digest of the top Nashville news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.Sign up for Axios NW ArkansasStay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reportersEllume at-home tests being made. Photo: Patrick Hamilton/AFP
Ellume, an Australian company that makes at-home COVID-19 tests, is voluntarily recalling test kits sent to retailers and the Department of Defense due to concerns over false positives, the company announced in a statement.
Why it matters: In September, manufacturers warned that the U.S. was weeks away from the production levels needed for President Biden's plan of mass-scale rapid COVID-19 testing.
The U.S. has been far more cautious than other countries about rapid, at-home testing, AP notes.By the numbers: About 427,000 test kits have been impacted, according to ABC News.
195,000 of those kits were unused and eligible for a recall. The remaining kits led to 42,000 positive results and as many as a quarter of the results may have been false positives, Ellume CEO Dr. Sean Parsons said, per the New York Times. What they're saying: "We recognize that this incident may have shaken the confidence of some of those who trusted Ellume to help them manage their health and to take back a bit of control of their lives during this pandemic." Parsons said in a statement.
"We have learned from this experience, we have implemented additional controls to ensure our product meets our high quality standards and we are going to do everything in our power to regain your trust," Parsons added.
Governors Unveil Plan To End Biden's Border Crisis: 'We're Not Going To Sit Around While Biden Refuses To Act' | The Daily Wire
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 10:53
Ten Republican governors gathered in Mission, Texas, on Wednesday where they unveiled a 10-point plan to end Democrat President Joe Biden's border crisis.
The event comes as the administration has faced catastrophic levels of illegal immigration on the U.S. southern border. Many directly blame Biden for the crisis, saying that his policies and messaging has created enormous incentive for migrants to illegally enter the U.S.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was joined at the press conference by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.
The governors released the following 10-point plan to end Biden's border crisis:
Continue Title 42 public health restrictions: The Biden Administration should continue to invoke Title 42 to refuse entry to individuals coming into the country due to the COVID-19 public health risk, which was initially issued by the previous administration. Title 42 currently expels approximately 44% of apprehensions. In July, more than 18% of migrant families and 20% of unaccompanied minors tested positive for COVID-19 upon being released from Border Patrol custody. Reports estimate that the Biden Administration has placed approximately 40,000 COVID-19 positive migrants into American cities.Fully reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols: The Biden Administration should comply with recent federal court rulings and fully reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) established by the prior administration, which require asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await their court hearing outside of the United States, serving as a deterrent to cross. Upon taking office, President Biden issued a directive to terminate the MPP, and although litigation may continue, the Biden Administration should halt any attempts to appeal and fully reinstate the policy.Finish securing the border: The Biden Administration should reopen construction contracts to continue building the border wall and invest in infrastructure and technology, such as lights, sensors, or access roads, to complete the border security system. Upon taking office, President Biden terminated the national emergency at the border, stopped all border construction, and redirected funds to build the wall.End catch and release: The Biden Administration should end the Obama-era policy of catching and releasing apprehended migrants into U.S. cities along the South Texas border, leaving illegal immigrants paroled and able to travel anywhere in the country. Upon taking office, President Biden issued an Executive Order reinstating catch and release policies that incentivize illegal immigration and make deportation laws difficult to enforce.Clear the judicial backlog: The Biden Administration should dedicate additional judges and resources to our U.S. immigration courts to end the growing backlog and expedite court appearances for illegal migrants. Reports indicate backlogged cases total more than 1 million, the most ever.Resume the deportation of all criminals: The Biden Administration should enforce all deportation laws of criminally convicted illegal aliens. Upon taking office, President Biden issued an Executive Order ordering the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize only the deportation of aggravated felons, gang members, or terrorists, leaving other criminals to remain in the United States.Dedicate federal resources to eradicate human trafficking and drug trafficking: Due to the rapid increase of cartel activity, the Biden Administration should dedicate additional resources to eradicate the surge in human trafficking and drug trafficking, arrest offenders, support victims, and get dangerous drugs'--like fentanyl and methamphetamine'--off our streets.Re-enter all agreements with our Northern Triangle partners and Mexico: President Biden should re-enter the prior administration's agreement with the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) and Mexico. The countries agreed to enforce their respective borders, fix their asylum systems, and receive migrants seeking asylum before they journey north to the United States. Upon taking office, President Biden issued an Executive Order terminating the agreements.Send a clear message to potential migrants: President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Biden Administration officials at every level should state clearly and unequivocally that our country's borders are not open and that migrants seeking economic opportunity should not attempt to abuse or misuse the asylum process. Prior to and after taking office, President Biden blatantly encouraged illegal immigrants to come to the United States.Deploy more federal law enforcement officers: Due to overwhelming needs at the border, the Biden Administration should deploy more and provide greater resources to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Due to a lack of federal resources, Arizona and Texas have had to initiate an Emergency Management Assistance Compact to request law enforcement resources directly from states, receiving offers from eight states, to arrest and detain illegal trespassers.''The Biden Administration's open border policies have led to complete chaos at the southern border, and pose a threat to the safety of Texans and all Americans,'' said Governor Abbott. ''Texas has stepped up to keep our communities safe and mitigate this crisis ourselves, and our efforts have been made stronger by the support and assistance of governors from across the nation. I thank the state governors who are here with me today for their support and for visiting the border to see firsthand the ramifications of President Biden's disastrous policies. Together, we are sending a strong message to the Biden Administration that we will not tolerate their refusal to secure the border '-- and we will continue to do whatever it takes to keep our communities safe.''
''We're not going to sit around while Biden refuses to act,'' said Governor Ducey. ''We've tried to meet with the president and be part of the solution, but he refuses. No, worse '-- he ignores us, just like he's ignoring the border and the well-being of the American people. If the president won't meet with us, then we'll share our policy ideas today. Hopefully he will hear our solutions and begin to act.''
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Top Secret CIA Cable Admits "Dozens" Of Agents Abroad Are Being Captured, Killed | ZeroHedge
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 10:52
It was revealed this week in a bombshell New York Times report that the CIA has raised the alarm with all its overseas stations and officers that an unusually high number of US informants are being captured and executed abroad. There are "dozens" of such instances, according to an agency memo.
The report is an incredibly rare instance of the media getting hold of a fresh, very recent highly classified memo that's also sure to be embarrassing for the agency. "The message, in an unusual top-secret cable, said that the CIA's counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised," the NYT writes.
"Although brief, the cable laid out the specific number of agents executed by rival intelligence agencies '-- a closely held detail that counterintelligence officials typically do not share in such cables."
Image: AFP/Getty The cable warned its officers across the globe against put "mission over security" - which it strongly suggested was a key cause that's leading to poor tradecraft, putting agents at risk. "Agents" in this context means foreign and local assets recruited by the CIA to spy in their home countries, a dangerous endeavor which puts all the risk on the foreign person (and their family) who feeds sensitive information to their CIA handler.
The cable also cited the growing capabilities and awareness on the part of foreign and rival agencies of US intelligence's methods. According to the NY Times synopsis of what's in the top secret memo:
The cable highlighted the struggle the spy agency is having as it works to recruit spies around the world in difficult operating environments. In recent years, adversarial intelligence services in countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan have been hunting down the CIA's sources and in some cases turning them into double agents.
Especially the growing biometric technology deployed by China is seen as a serious problem for maintaining local assets' cover.
The report continues by spelling out, "The large number of compromised informants in recent years also demonstrated the growing prowess of other countries in employing innovations like biometric scans, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and hacking tools to track the movements of CIA officers in order to discover their sources."
Pakistani intelligence very effective at hunting down CIA sources and flipping them into double agents, according to this must-read NYT reporting on a secret agency cable.https://t.co/X0zYIsVw7Z
'-- Rupert Stone (@RupertStone83) October 5, 2021Though this wasn't addressed in the cable, there's also the possibility of leaks and the question of double-agents gaining compromising material, further exposing other assets.
The NY Times report further quotes former CIA operatives who described a somewhat flawed internal system and bureaucracy that's set up to reward ambition but not recognize when officers prudently exercise restraint. Promotions are often handed out to operatives who recruit the most agents abroad.
One former CIA operative, Douglas London, told The Times, "No one at the end of the day is being held responsible when things go south with an agent." But of course in general it remains that few if anyone are ever held accountable for failures when it comes to Washington's massive national security state bureaucracy.
Farm to Fork: How the EU and the Davos Cabal Plan to Control Agriculture
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 10:42
Image Attribution: CC-BY-4.0: (C) European Union 2019 '' Source: EP". (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Image Original Attribution & Link: By European Parliament from EU - Hearing of Frans Timmermans (the Netherlands) - Executive Vice President-Designate - European Green Deal, CC BY 2.0, LINK By F. William Engdahl 29 September 2021 Whenever we hear the word ''sustainable'' we would be well-advised to take a critical look behind the nice sounding words. In the case of the globalist Agenda 2030 with its 17 sustainable goals by 2030, the one for creating a ''sustainable agriculture'', when looked at closely, will destroy a huge part of EU agriculture production and drive already rising global prices for food far higher. The EU Commission calls their Green Deal for food the cute title, ''Farm to Fork.'' It is being backed by Klaus Schwab's omnipresent World Economic Forum and their Great Reset.
Keep in mind that sustainable as defined by the UN and Davos World Economic Forum means achieving Zero Carbon emissions by 2050. Yet there is no scientific study independently proving that CO2 is endangering our planet by creating global warming. Only myriads of dubious, well-funded computer models. The harmless gas is essential to all human, animal and all plant life. Now the European Union Commission is pushing a top-down radical agenda on the agriculture heart of the world's second most important food producer as part of its ill-conceived EU Green Deal. If implemented as is likely, it will cause drastic reduction in crop outputs, a severe reduction in meat protein and, perhaps most dangerous, an overturning of current EU law regulating new gene-edited crops, or GMO.2. That will have global consequences.
Farm to Fork'...
In May 2020 the EU Commission released its Farm to Fork Strategy. The official Brussels rhetoric makes it sound like a food nirvana is coming. They state, ''The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the European Green Deal, aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly.'' Wow, that sounds super.
They then get to the real agenda: ''We need to redesign our food systems which today account for nearly one-third of global GHG (Green House Gas) emissions, consume large amounts of natural resources, result in biodiversity loss and negative health impacts'...'' This is a clever way of demonizing farmers and our food production as CO2 violators. The solution? ''New technologies and scientific discoveries, combined with increasing public awareness and demand for sustainable food, will benefit all stakeholders.'' What new technologies will be explained.
How do the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels plan to ''redesign our food systems'' to eliminate one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050? By forcing farmers to go bankrupt by demanding new costly inputs to production and radical new genetic manipulated patented plants with unproven safety. Above all they plan to lift the current de facto ban on gene-edited plant cultivation. For those who do not know, it is the same unproven risky technology used in the COVID-19 vaccines of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA gene-edited vaccines using CRISPR.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, says of the Farm to Fork Green Agenda, ''Farmers will need to radically transform their production methods and make the best use of technological, digital, and space-based solutions to usher in the new agricultural transition.'' So they plan a radical transformation. Already this sounds ominous.
To raise the share of pesticide-free organic farming to 25% of the EU total at the same time reducing chemical pesticide use by 30% by 2030 sounds great to the uninformed. Like the claims of Monsanto and the GMO industry that their GMO crops reduce need for pesticides, it is a lie. The EU is using this as bait to introduce a radical change in strict current EU rules for allowing approval of gene-edited plants and animals into agriculture. In their May 2020 document on Farm to Fork Green Deal, the EU states that the Commission is ''carrying out a study which will look at the potential of new genomic techniques to improve sustainability along the food supply chain.'' This means gene-editing, CRISPR/Cas9 genetic modification.
'New Genomic Techniques'
In April this year, the EU Commission released that study on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). NGTs are producing gene-edited plants and even animals. The report claims that NGTs, ''techniques to alter the genome of an organism, have the potential to contribute to a more sustainable food system as part of the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy.'' The report calls for a ''public debate'' to change the strict EU laws on approval of GMO crops that require extensive testing and labelling of GMO crops.
That law from 2001 has successfully restricted use of GMO across the EU in contrast with the USA where unregulated GMOs are dominant for key crops. In 2018 the European Court of Justice, the EU court, ruled that Gene-edited crops should be subject to the same stringent regulations as first-generation genetically modified (GMO) organisms. The key to the Davos and EU Farm to Fork Agenda is a radical reduction in pesticides to be replaced by gene-edited crops allegedly able to replace pesticides.
The EU Commission, in cahoots with Bayer-Monsanto and others of the GMO agribusiness lobby, are working hard to remove that court restriction. Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said of their April EU study, ''The study we publish today concludes that New Genomic Techniques can promote the sustainability of agricultural production, in line with the objectives of our Farm to Fork Strategy.'' New Genomic Techniques is the euphemism for gene-edited crops.
EU Vice President responsible for the Green Deal, Franz Timmermans, has openly admitted the lure of promising huge cuts in pesticides, implying it will come from abolishing restrictions on gene-editing. He told a recent EU Green Week conference that the EU aims to give farmers the tools to adopt precision agriculture and to leverage scientific discoveries to optimize seeds: ''That's how we limit our dependency on pesticides.'' Precision agriculture and scientific discoveries to optimize seeds is Brussels doublespeak for massive introduction of unregulated gene-editing. He continued, ''Going to ecological farming doesn't mean we all have to munch on grass and live in caves, we need to use the latest technology to get us there.'' That means gene-editing CRISPR.
Translated into plain English, the heart of Farm to Fork is the planned overturning of the 2018 ECJ court ruling that treats CRISPR gene-edited plants or animals under the same strict ''precautionary principle'' rules for GMO. With no restrictions, gene-editing companies like Bayer-Monsanto will be free to introduce experimental and unproven genetically altered plants and animals into our diet with no labelling.
Such a gene-edit-free regime already exists in the USA where the USDA and regulators allow CRISPR gene-edited soy oil, mushrooms that don't brown, wheat with more fiber, better-producing tomatoes, herbicide-tolerant canola and rice that doesn't absorb soil pollution as it grows. Gene-edited US projects on fish and animals include such dubious ones as cows that only have male calves, using CRISPR; Pigs that don't need castration; hornless dairy cows and growth-enhanced catfish using CRISPR to develop catfish with more muscle cells. It makes the mouth water'...
CRISPR Risks Huge, Rewards Not
The major lobbying push to remove EU regulations on gene-edited crops or animals is coming from Bayer-Monsanto and the other GMO agribusiness giants including Syngenta, BASF, and DowDupont's Corteva. In November 2020 Liam Condon, the President of Bayer-Monsanto crop science division told a Bayer Future of Farming conference, that Bayer is lobbying ''very strongly'' to change the EU's GMO regulations to exempt gene editing. Condon said, ''[We are] promoting very strongly that regulations should catch up with technology and allow this technology to be used, [not only] for the benefit of Europeans, but also for the benefit of others all over the world who look to Europe for regulations.'' Condon called gene editing and CRISPR technology an ''amazing breakthrough'' that would allow agriculture to be more sustainable. What he omitted was that deregulating gene-edited crops will allow Bayer-Monsanto and other major GMO companies to charge farmers for their patented ''sustainable'' seeds.
Gene-editing of plants or animals is not at all risk-free as claimed. The technology is not at all precise or controlled and often has unpredicted outcomes such as unintended genetic alteration, even the inadvertent addition of foreign DNA from other species, or even entire foreign genes, into the genome of gene-edited organisms.
This is still a new experimental technology. Its advocates such as Bayer-Monsanto claim that gene editing of plants is precise. Yet investigation finds that far from proven. Dr. Allison K Wilson of The Bioscience Resource Project, states, ''plant gene editing methods are also prone to introducing UTs (Unintended Traits or genetic damage)'...new evidence from both animals and plants indicates that gene editing itself can result in unintended mutations at or near the target site. These include the insertion of vector, bacterial, and other superfluous DNA, and the unintended introduction of large DNA deletions and rearrangements.''
These are not minor flaws that can be ignored. Wilson concludes, ''plant gene editing outcomes are imprecise and unpredictable, and that, depending on the combination of techniques used, gene editing can be highly mutagenic. While in theory it might someday be possible to create a GM crop that meets the broad requirements of sustainable agriculture, in practice this seems highly unlikely to ever happen.''
According to an analysis of the EU Farm to Fork strategy by Global Ag Media, ''the effect of these strategies will be an unprecedented reduction of EU production capacity and of its farmers' income. All sectors show declines in production of 5% to 15%, with the livestock sectors being the most heavily impacted'... Meanwhile, whatever the scenario, production prices show a net increase of around 10% with a negative impact for most farmers' incomes. '' The EU farmers' union, Copa-Cogeca warns the policy will result in an unprecedented reduction in agriculture capacity. But that's the real intent of ''sustainable agriculture.''
Davos and EU Farm to Fork
The radical EU Farm to Form Green agenda finds its echo in the Davos World Economic Forum which already in 2014 promoted what it called, ''Enabling Trade: From Farm to Fork.'' A January 2018 WEF report states, ''Gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas could provide a way to achieve multi-trait improvements, producing a step change in productivity while improving the drought resistance and nutritional content of food. '' This was done together with McKinsey & Co as part of the WEF Food Security and Agriculture Initiatives and their Great Reset. WEF Forum Partners include Bayer, Syngenta, BASF. According to the WEF website, ''The World Economic Forum at its Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2020 brought together leaders from industry and business with Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans to explore how to catalyze the European Green Deal.'' Bayer's Liam Condon was also there as was the head of Syngenta and BASF.
If the EU agriculture sector is brought into the gene-edited GMO regime and its production radically reduced as a consequence, it will drive ever greater food shortages around the world. This is the Davos plan along with their COVID-19 eugenics Great Reset agenda. Calling it Farm to Fork makes it sound harmless. It clearly is not.
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''
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CIA admits its informants were executed by Iran and China after communications system was breached | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:41
The CIA has admitted that too many informants are being killed, captured or turned in a top secret memo to their spies across the world.
The unusual cable, sent to all CIA stations and bases, said the counterintelligence mission center had analyzed dozens of cases over the last several years.
The memo gave an exact number of informants killed, classified information not usually shared in such cables, according to the New York Times.
Former officials have also disclosed that China and Iran cracked the agency's classified communications system, or 'covcom', and executed informants in those networks while others had to be extracted and resettled.
The memo reprimands spies for poor tradecraft, being overly trusting of sources, underestimating foreign intelligence agencies and 'putting mission over security' by moving too fast and not paying enough attention to potential risks.
Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan have had success in hunting down informants in recent years - and in some cases turning them into double agents.
In Iran and China, some intelligence officials believe that Americans provided information to the adversarial agencies that could have helped expose informants.
The rival counterintelligence agencies are utilizing biometric scans, facial recognition, AI and hacking tools to track CIA officers to discover their sources.
The CIA admitted that their informants were executed by both Iran and China after a top secret memo revealed that too many are being captured and killed
It cited Iran, China, Pakistan and Russia as nations that have been going after American spies and turning them into double agents, if not killing them
The CIA has been pre-occupied over the last two decades with terrorist threats and Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
But old-fashioned intelligence collection is now once again central to the CIA's mission as tension grows with China and Russia.
Monica Elfriede Witt, an ex-Air Force sergeant who defected to Iran, was indicted on a charge of giving up information to Tehran in 2019. The Iranians leveraged her knowledge only once they determined that she could be trusted.
In 2019, former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee was sentenced to 19 years in prison for providing secrets to the Chinese government, which they then used to arrest and execute at least 20 of his fellow agents.
US officials suspect China shared the information Lee gave them to Russia, who used it to expose, arrest and kill American spies.
Those findings led the CIA to temporarily shut down human spying in China and reevaluate how it communicates with intelligence assets worldwide.
Lee was charged with possessing classified information but not as a spy because officials had a lack of proof and would not wanted to air any evidence they have in a public courtroom, according to NBC News.
In 2020, Iranian forces executed Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, a man accused of reporting on the movements of that nation's forces in Syria on behalf of the United States and Israel.
He was also accused of spying on Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian national hero who was killed in a drone strike by the US earlier in 2020.
Mousavi-Majd, a former translator, was found guilty by Iran of receiving money from both the CIA and Israeli intelligence's Mossad.
'No one at the end of the day is being held responsible when things go south with an agent,' said Douglas London, a former agency operative.
'Sometimes there are things beyond our control but there are also occasions of sloppiness and neglect and people in senior positions are never held responsible.'
Monica Elfriede Witt (pictured above), an ex-Air Force sergeant who defected to Iran, was indicted on a charge of giving up information to Tehran in 2019
In 2019, former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee (pictured above) was sentenced to 19 years in prison for providing secrets to the Chinese government, which they then used to arrest and execute at least 20 of his fellow agents
In 2020, Iranian forces executed Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd (pictured above), a man accused of reporting on the movements of that nation's forces in Syria on behalf of the United States and Israel
Returning to greater intelligence gathering is a high-level objective for the agency, especially as Congress turns it's focus away from the Middle East and closer to Russia and China
Returning to greater intelligence gathering is a high-level objective for the agency, especially as Congress turns it's focus away from the Middle East and closer to Russia and China.
The agency will also look to learn more about the Pakistan's ties to the Taliban now that the American-back government in Afghanistan has collapsed.
Officials said the messages are a way of pushing intelligence officers to become more serious about counterintelligence.
A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment on the memo.
Full article: Covid-19 Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the Literature
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:33
1. IntroductionIn March 2020 countries around the world, including the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., deployed various forms of lockdown that dragged on for over a year in many jurisdictions and show signs of returning in the fall of 2021 under the threat of new Covid-19 variants. This response to the pandemic has dominated not only the daily lives of ordinary people, but also the economic reality within which most businesses have been forced to operate. Lockdowns and the reactions to them, have had consequences for consumer demands, supply chains, profitability, and the redistribution of wealth. The average citizen and business person has had to trust that such a blunt and destructive policy tool was justified in the face of a novel viral pandemic.
The public and business trust has been necessary because most people have limited or no access to the immense research response to the Covid-19 pandemic '-- with estimates of over 40,000 related papers produced in one year. Even with access, most people lack the time or training to decipher the complex and often conflicting reports. Thus, although the research covers every imaginable aspect of Covid-19, and despite the explosion of knowledge regarding the virus, the human reactions to it, and the consequences of these reactions, the average person and corporate executive remains unaware of most of it.
The public and business trust has also been reinforced by the one-sided, incomplete, and almost unchanging ubiquitous media, public health, and political response to the pandemic. With respect to lockdown policies, many political jurisdictions have repeated the same spring 2020 programs in 2021, ignoring what has been learned in the meantime. Often public announcements were made that were inconsistent with basic Covid-19 facts that were easy to find, if you knew where to look. Furthermore, when research results contrary to the official government response were shared on social media, they were often pulled from these platforms, making access to the full research picture generally unavailable to an average citizen. As a result, for most citizens and business people the public media and official public health news conferences have been the only source of Covid-19 information.
At the same time, over the course of the pandemic, general information about the virus, transmissions, deaths, and lockdowns across different jurisdictions has become available on various platforms. On the surface, it appears that lockdowns are not necessary for viral waves of deaths and cases to end. Nor does it appear that there was ever any widespread over-utilization of hospitals, especially in locations with little or no lockdown. Furthermore, casual observation shows that jurisdictions with lockdowns often did not avoid large waves of cases and deaths. In many ways, the virus seemed to progress independently of lockdown policy. Thus, on the one hand citizens and business people have been asked, in a blind trust, to go along with drastic and unprecedented lockdowns; while on the other hand, becoming aware of apparent inconsistencies. How is a reasonable person to think about all of this?
This review of a segment of the Covid-19 literature is intended to give some broader access to the academic research and issues around the common response of lockdown, and to help provide an understanding of these issues to both access government lockdown policy and understand the general information they are receiving. The focus is to critically assess the cost/benefit studies that have been written over the past sixteen months on lockdown policies related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The review covers over 100 different academic studies, along with related Covid-19 data sites. I have sought out studies that (i) dealt with matters of 'lockdown' either directly or indirectly, and (ii) were related directly or indirectly to issues relevant to the costs or benefits of lockdown.
The term 'lockdown' is used to generically refer to state actions that imposed various forms of non-pharmaceutical interventions. That is, it is used to include mandatory state-enforced closing of non-essential business, education, recreation, and spiritual facilities; mask and social distancing orders; stay-in-place orders; and restrictions on private social gatherings.
'Lockdown' does not refer to cases of 'isolation,' where a country was able to engage in an early and sufficient border closure that prevented trans-border transmission, followed by a mandated lockdown that eliminated the virus in the domestic population, which was then followed by perpetual isolation until the population is fully vaccinated. This strategy was adopted by a number of island countries like New Zealand.1 Here I will only consider lockdown as it took place in most of the world; that is, within a country where the virus became established.
The report begins with an examination of four critical assumptions often made within the context of estimating benefits and costs. Understanding these assumptions explains why early studies claimed that the benefits of lockdown were so high, and also explains why the predictions of those studies turned out to be false. Then I examine the major cost/benefit studies in roughly chronological order, and focus on the critical factor in these studies: distinguishing between mandated and voluntary changes in behavior. Preliminary work on the costs of lockdown is reviewed, and finally a simple cost/benefit methodology is used to generate several cost/benefit ratios of lockdown for my home country of Canada. In no scenario does lockdown pass a cost/benefit test; indeed, the most reasonable estimates suggest that lockdown is a great policy disaster.
2. Cost benefit studiesWhen it comes to the question of choosing any type of public policy, the Nobel prize winner Ronald Coase put it best:
It would clearly be desirable if the only actions performed were those in which what was gained was worth more than what was lost. But in choosing between social arrangements within the context of which individual decisions are made, we have to bear in mind that a change in the existing system which will lead to an improvement in some decisions may well lead to a worsening of others. In devising and choosing between social arrangements we should have regard for the total effect.
[Coase p. 44, 1960 ]
Coase was making two points. The first should be obvious: policy decisions should be made based on both costs and benefits. To focus on one side of the issue and consider only costs or only benefits necessarily leads to a mistaken policy. The second point is more subtle: an attempt to achieve a particular benefit through one mechanism might lead to an exacerbation of the costs. There are multiple methods to achieve a goal, but the cost consequences might be different for each method. At the end of the day, choosing the optimal policy requires a 'regard for the total effect.'2
Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been no public evidence that governments around the world have considered both the benefit and cost sides of their policy decisions. To my knowledge, no government has provided any formal cost/benefit analysis of their actions. Indeed, the steady press conferences and news releases almost entirely focus on one single feature of the disease. Although the focus of government announcements has changed over the year, from 'flattening the curve', number of Covid-19 deaths, number of Covid19 cases, hospital capacity, and variant transmissions (especially the delta variant), there has seldom been any official mention of the costs of the actions taken to address these concerns.
Economists and other social scientists have been attracted to the policy issues regarding Covid-19. Economists in particular, given their training in modeling human behavior and testing those models with real world data, have written hundreds of papers that deal with both the costs and the benefits of lockdown.
Here, aside from going through some of the theoretical issues, I provide a summary of the major findings.
2.1. Issues in determining lockdown benefitsMost of the 'action' in the early cost/benefit studies came from the benefit side. That is, many early studies reported enormous benefits to lockdown, and little attention was given to the particulars of lockdown costs. The claims of extremely high benefits, however, were almost entirely theoretical and sensitive to model assumptions. It is important to understand these theoretical issues and how they manifested in determining Covid-19 lockdown benefits.3
2.1.1. The counterfactual number of cases/deathsThe argument for lockdown benefits is intuitive. If a new virus enters an unknowing population with no immunity and spreads exponentially, causing an overwhelming of hospitals and subsequent large numbers of deaths, then a physical, government mandated, intervention that isolates people and slows down the transmission of the virus can reduce the spike of infections, allow hospitals to cope given their capacity constraints, postpone deaths, and possibly reduce deaths until a vaccine can be created. Lockdown is a formal, state-mandated 'one size fits all' version of the social norm 'keep your distance from people who are sick.'4
If lockdown reduces the transmission of the virus, the natural question to ask is 'by how much?' In other words, 'but for the lockdown' what would the level of infection/transmission/deaths be? What is the counterfactual to lockdowns?
Within the field of epidemiology it is common to model disease through what is called a SIR model.5 Although these models can vary in many ways, they all model virus progression through a population in a mechanical fashion. One key parameter is the basic reproduction number, Rt which indicates the expected number of secondary infections in a vulnerable population generated by a single given infection. Cases of the virus explode exponentially when the Rt > 1, and then collapse as herd immunity is reached and the virus recedes to an endemic state (Rt '‰ 1). Lockdowns are often interpreted as a means of effectively altering the reproduction number.
Early in the pandemic the Neil Ferguson et al. ( 2020 ) model appeared to drive many lockdown decisions and was widely covered in the media. Figure 1 reproduces a key figure of that paper (Table 2, p. 8), and shows the results of various types of lockdown on occupied ICU beds. The symmetry, smoothness, and orderly appearance of the functions is a result of the mechanical nature of the model. This type of figure is found, in one form or another, in most papers based on a SIR model.
Covid-19 Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the LiteraturePublished online:29 September 2021
Figure 1. ICU predictions in ICL model.
Figure 1. ICU predictions in ICL model.
In Figure 1 the black 'do nothing' line is the counterfactual, while the other lines are various types of lockdowns. The harsher the lockdown, the 'flatter' the case load, with the blue line being the strongest lockdown. The difference between the black line and another line is the benefit of that particular lockdown in terms of cases delayed. Clearly the exponential growth of the 'do nothing' counterfactual leads to enormous differences, and makes lockdown look better.
The ICL model made dire predictions that saturated media coverage in the first wave of the pandemic. Table 1 shows some death predictions for four countries. Column (i) contains Ferguson et al.'s predictions for an unmitigated, no lockdown pandemic. In the U.S., close to 2.2 million people were predicted to die by the end of July 30, 2020. Column (ii) is the Ferguson et al. prediction with full lockdown, based on a reproduction number of 2.4.6 Column (iii) is the actual cumulative deaths as of July 30, 2020. The U.K., U.S., and Canada all had lockdowns in the spring of 2020, and so the appropriate comparison is between columns (ii) and (iii). Column (iv) takes the ratio of these two columns and shows that the Ferguson et al. model was spectacularly wrong; off by factors of 5.88 to 14.71. Sweden had minimal restrictions, and so depending if actual deaths are compared to column (i) or (ii), the error ratio is either 11.56 or 5.30; either way, the model missed for Sweden as well.
Covid-19 Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the LiteraturePublished online:29 September 2021
Table 1. Predicted and actual deaths.
Given the prediction that lockdowns would lower deaths by one-half, the authors made a dramatic recommendation: 'We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time. The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound.' (Ferguson et al. 2020 , p. 16). In retrospect it is remarkable that such a conclusion was drawn. The authors recognized that the 'social and economic effects' would be 'profound,' and that the predictions were based on the 'unlikely' behavioral assumption that there would be no change to individual reactions to the virus. However, given the large counterfactual numbers, presumably they felt no lockdown cost could justify remaining open.
Problems with the ICL model were pointed out immediately: i) the reproduction number (Rt) of 2.4 was too high; ii) the assumed infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.9% was too high and not age dependent; iii) hospital capacity was assumed fixed and unchangeable; and iv) individuals in the model were assumed to not change behavior in the face of a new virus.7 All of these assumptions have the effect of over-estimating the counterfactual number of cases, transmissions, and deaths.8
2.1.2. The exogenous behavior assumptionA major reason for the failure of SIR models to predict actual cases and deaths is because they assume no individual in the model ever changes behavior.9 The implication of ignoring individual responses to a viral threat are dramatic. Atkeson ( 2021 ) used a standard SIR model (with exogenous behavior) that included seasonal effects and the introduction of a more contagious variant in December 2020 to forecast daily U.S. deaths out to July 2023. The results of this standard model were typical: the model made apocalyptic predictions on deaths that were off by a factor of twelve by the summer of 2020. However, he then used the same model with a simple behavioral adjustment that allowed individuals to change behavior in light of the value of Rt. The new forecast of daily deaths based on this single addition completely changed the model's predictive power. The model now tracked the actual progression of the daily deaths very closely. In correspondence with Atkeson he provided his explanation for this result:
The intuition for this result is simple. If new infections and daily deaths from the disease grow too high, people take costly efforts to avoid interaction and thus slow disease spread. Likewise, if the prevalence of the disease falls toward zero, then the demand for costly disease prevention efforts also falls towards zero, and so the disease will come back unless the population has already achieved herd immunity measured at pre-pandemic levels of behavior.
Whether Atkeson ( 2021 ) has correctly modeled the Covid-19 virus is not at issue. Nor is it the case that the assumption of exogenous behavior is the only failing of the SIR model.10 The point is, there is a dramatic change in predicted behavior once human reactions are included. Voluntary changes in behavior are optimal for the individual given their health circumstances, and therefore are likely to have large effects on cases and mortality. On the other hand, the blunt instrument of lockdown has little impact on mortality for those who have voluntarily locked down on their own, and likewise little impact on mortality for those who have not locked down but are either immune or unlikely to die given their age and health status. A model lacking endogenous individual adjustment then, radically over-estimates the number of daily deaths, and this is a common problem in many cost/benefit studies.
The fact that individuals privately and voluntarily respond to risks has two important implications. First, it influences how any counterfactual outcome is understood with respect to the lockdown. When no voluntary response is assumed, models predict exponential caseloads and deaths without lockdowns. If lockdowns are imposed and cases coincidently fall, the actual number of cases is then compared to a counterfactual that never would have happened.11 Therefore, not accounting for rational, voluntary individual responses within a SIR model drastically over-states any benefit from lockdown.12
Second, any empirical work that considers only the total change in outcomes and does not attempt to separate the mandated effect from the voluntary effect, will necessarily attribute all of the change in outcome to the mandated lockdown. Once again, this will over-estimate the effect, and quite likely by an order of magnitude.
Individuals change behavior for two reasons. They voluntarily respond to the threat of a virus, and they react to mandated lockdowns.13 Both channels of behavior create a total effect. It is important for lockdown empirical work to distinguish between the two channels of behavior to determine how much behavior changed because of mandated lockdowns and how much because of voluntary changes.14
2.1.3. The assumed value of lifeAll economic cost/benefit studies of Covid-19, either directly or indirectly, utilize some method to estimate the number of cases, infections, or deaths as the virus progresses through the population over time. Counting cases and deaths, however, is only half the process. To estimate benefits and compare them to costs economists assign a dollar value to the change in outcomes. If lockdown benefits are in terms of the number of deaths delayed, then a value to these lives must be used.15
Economic value is based on the idea of maximum sacrifice. Thus, when it comes to the value of an individual's life, this value is determined by the actual individual. In practice, what is measured is the marginal value to extend one's life a little bit by reducing some type of harm, and then use this to determine a total value of life. This measure, developed in the 1960s by Thomas Schelling, is called 'The Value of a Statistical Life' (VSL), and is widely used in policy work. The VSL is estimated by observing individual marginal tradeoffs. Thus, if someone pays $1000 to reduce the chance of death by 1/10,000 over the next year, then this implies a value of life of $10,000,000. One problem with using the VSL for estimating the benefits of saving lives through lockdown is that it measures the total value of life based on a marginal value. Thus, using a VSL (which is based on observing ordinary people not at the point of death) as a measure of the value of a life of someone about to die, is likely to provide an over-estimate of the value of the life.16
In many Covid-19 cost/benefit studies, however, there is another more serious problem with how the VSL is used. Namely, it is often assumed that i) the VSL is independent of age, and ii) that the VSL is equal to around $10,000,000. Both of these claims are not true.17
Hammitt (pp. 10''12) surveys the literature on VSL estimates and shows that all studies reject the idea that the VSL is constant over the life-cycle. For example, one age based VSL estimate from Robinson, et al. ( 2020 ) is shown in Figure 2.
Covid-19 Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the LiteraturePublished online:29 September 2021
Figure 2. Age related estimates of VSL.
Figure 2. Age related estimates of VSL.
To assume that the VSL is constant implies that individuals are indifferent between living one more day or eighty more years. Figure 2 shows more reasonable estimates, with the value of a child being seven times the value of an 85'‰year old. The VSL of $2,000,000 for an 85'‰year old is based on the assumption that life expectancy is still ten years. For someone who is 85, in poor health with multiple serious illnesses, the VSL would be much lower.18
Assuming a VSL of $10,000,000 creates a strong bias in the conclusion of many early cost/benefit studies. Since those over age sixty make up a minority of the population, but account for the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths, the use of a constant and large VSL leads to a vast over-estimate of the benefits of lockdown.
Consider the ICL case applied to the US. That model predicted 2.2 million Covid- 19 deaths by June without lockdown. If each life lost was worth $10,000,000, then the benefit of lockdown would be $22 trillion dollars. In 2019'‰US GDP was $21.4 trillion dollars. At this estimate of death and VSL, it would make sense to shut down (not just lockdown) 100% of the US economy for an entire year!19
2.2. An issue with lockdown costs2.2.1. Comparing apples to orangesThe final theoretical issue relates to what costs are compared to benefits. As noted, when considering the value of lockdown the VSL is used to determine the value of lives saved. The VSL is based on preferences, as it should be, and so the VSL is a dollar measure of the utility an individual receives from living. Most notably, the VSL is not a measure of how productive an individual is in terms of the dollar value of goods and services they produce. An infant is valuable, as is a retired senior citizen, but neither produces any market goods and services.
In contrast, it is common in cost/benefit studies to only use lost GDP as the measure for the cost of lockdown. That is, the reduced value of goods and services caused by lockdown is the only cost of the lockdown considered. For example, US GDP over 2020 fell by 3.5%.20 If 100% of the fall in GDP (approximately $770 billion) is attributed to the lockdown (that is, the virus directly had no effect on production), then compared to the presumed '22 trillion' dollar savings in lives, lockdown seems like an excellent policy.
This type of comparison, however, is entirely inappropriate. The VSL is based on the utility of life, and therefore, the costs of lockdown must also be based on the lost utility of lockdown. It has been understood from the very beginning of the pandemic that lockdown caused a broad range of costs through lost civil liberty, lost social contact, lost educational opportunities, lost medical preventions and procedures, increased domestic violence, increased anxiety and mental suffering, and increased deaths due to despair and inability to receive medical attention. If the value of lockdown is measured in utility, then the costs of lockdown must be measured in the same fashion. Excluding the value of lost non-market goods (goods not measured by GDP) grossly under-estimates the cost of lockdown.
To point out the distinction, assume that instead of using the VSL to measure the value of a life, the gain in GDP was used to measure the benefits of lockdown. Since the large majority of those who died of Covid-19 were retired, elderly, and sick they generally did not contribute to GDP.21 Hence, using a GDP only measure for a cost and benefit study would imply virtually no benefits to lockdowns and massive costs. This conclusion would be inappropriate, but at least it compares apples to apples.
2.3. Reviewing lockdown cost/benefit studies2.3.1. Early theoretical cost/benefit studiesGenerally, the earliest cost/benefit studies done in spring 2020 suffered from each of the theoretical assumptions outlined above; assumptions that were either known, or turned out to be, incorrect, and which biased the results in favor of lockdown.22 There were few empirical studies done in the earliest stages of the pandemic, but those that were done often relied on mechanical SIR models for counterfactuals, and had very limited data to work with. At the very beginning of the pandemic 'studies' were mostly casual, and simply guessed that benefits were likely greater than costs.23
By the late spring academic articles appeared that contained the same sentiments. Consider Thunstr¶m, et al. ( 2020 ) who concluded that:
'... social distancing likely generates net social benefits. In our benchmark case, which we view as the most plausible case among those we examined, the present value of net benefits from social distancing amount to $5.16 trillion.
The Thunstr¶m, et al. article assumed that there was no private voluntary response to the virus, Rt = 2.4, the VSL=$10M, there was a fixed and unchanging hospital capacity, the IFR reached 1.5% at capacity, and costs only entailed a 6.2% fall in GDP. These assumptions generated $12.4'‰T in the value of 1.24'‰M lives saved, and $7.21'‰T in lost GDP. As noted above, every one of these assumptions biased the model in favor of lockdown benefits and against lockdown costs.
To see how sensitive the Thunstr¶m, et al. conclusion is, consider making just one change: using the Robinson et al. age-dependent VSL numbers rather than the constant VSL of $10'‰M. Now the 1.24'‰M lives only have a value of $5.54'‰T, and lockdown has a negative value of $-1.66'‰T. One realistic change in assumptions flipped the cost/benefit conclusion.24
2.3.2. April''June: Early challenging resultsMany of the early theoretical studies received wide media attention, no doubt triggered by the exceptional claims made about deaths and costs. However, even in the early months of April, May, and June 2020 challenges to the sudden conventional wisdom on both the theoretical and empirical front were common.25
On April 27, 2020, three economists at the University of Chicago published 'Some basic economics of Covid-19 policy' (Mulligan, Murphy, and Topel). The title is very informative. Understanding optimal policy goes back to recognizing that total benefits and costs must be compared (and comparable), and that efforts to increase benefits involve costs. They pointed out what was mentioned above: the VSL is not constant, nor is it appropriate to consider trading off 'lives for GDP.':
The VSL for very old individuals is lower because they have fewer years of re- maining life to lose, and because they are in generally poorer health than younger people. The value of a statistical life is a powerful tool because it allows us to assess some fundamental trade-offs between health and other aspects of people's lives. It is critical to remember that the trade-off here is not between 'lives' and GDP '-- it is the trade-off between two things that people themselves value: health and other aspects of their lives.
Mulligan et al. go on to note that it is improper to consider models in which the individuals do not respond to the presence of a virus: 'The fact that individuals put great value on their own health and longevity means that there are strong individual incentives to engage in self-protection.' They also note: (i) that isolation and suppression of the disease delays the development of herd immunity, which ultimately is the way a society comes out of a pandemic; (ii) that since a vaccine takes time to develop, approve, and deliver, the costs of lockdown must be projected out over the entire period; and (iii) that policy must evolve with new information.
Mulligan et al. use an average VSL of $4.2'‰M, and given their calculations, a one year lockdown reduced net wealth 'even ignoring other long-run costs from reduced values of human and physical capital and any intrinsic value of reduced civil liberties.' They claimed that with the given knowledge of the time, 'that broad lockdowns make the most sense when the level of infection is high. In the language of economists, the marginal product of mandatory social distancing is greatest when there are many infected individuals circulating.' In other words, stay-at-home orders make little sense when the fraction of the population infected is less than 1''2% as it was in many places around the world.
Other studies in the early spring provided better empirical evidence about the virus. Lewis et al. ( 2020 ) found that there was a 6.19% fall in quarter GDP growth, and that this was attributed to the response to the virus (ie. lockdowns were having negative market consequences). Coibion et al. ( 2020 ) found that average individual income losses over the first wave in the U.S. were between $5000''$33,000. Ravindran and Manisha ( 2020 ) was an early paper showing that jurisdictions with lockdown saw in increase in violence against women.
Very early in the pandemic it was clear that predictions based on basic SIR models were wrong, and a major factor was the assumed infection fatality rate (IFR). Levin et al. ( 2020 , but available in July 2020) was one example of an early meta-analysis that brought together a number of smaller studies from around the world to estimate the IFR. They found that the IFR for Covid-19 was extremely age-specific. Children and younger adults have a very low IFR, and this increases with age, and dramatically increases after age 70. They estimated that at age 55 the IFR is 0.4%, but by age 85 it is 14%. Thus, although younger people were bearing the costs of reduced employment and education, any benefits of lockdown were received by much older cohorts.
These months also saw the first empirical studies on lockdown effects at the state level, with mixed results. Friedson et al. ( 2020 ) was an early study of shelter-in-place regulations, and found that in California this policy reduced cases by between 125''219 per 100,000 population, but each death delayed cost 400 jobs. Dhaval, Friedson, Matsuzawa, McNichols, et al. ( 2020 ) looked at a natural experiment in Texas where there was variation across the state in the timing of lockdowns. They found that urban lockdowns reduced cases by 19''26%, but that there was no overall effect at the state level. Lin and Meissner ( 2020 ), was one of the first empirical studies that showed that the lockdown effect was minimal and that lower workplace interactions invoked larger residential activity. They also found that common shocks across the
U.S. had a larger effect than local lockdown shocks.26 Chaudhry et al. ( 2020 ), examining the fifty most infected countries and exploiting the timing and degree of interventions, found no relation between border closures, full lockdowns, and testing on Covid-19 mortality.
Despite the mixed results, one early empirical paper on lockdown was widely cited and heavily influential: Flaxman et al. ( 2020 ) claimed lockdowns saved 3 million lives in Europe. This paper looked at lockdowns across 11 European countries in the spring of 2020. It inferred transmission rates based on observed deaths, assumed homogeneity across the countries, and critically assumed that the reproduction number R(t) only changed because of the immediate response to the mandated lockdown. They concluded that (p. 260):
In our analysis, we find that only the effect of lockdown is identifiable, and that it has a substantial effect (81% (75''87%) reduction in Rt). Taking into account country-specific effects, the effect size of lockdown remains large across all coun- tries
The Flaxman et al. paper received criticism on a number of fronts: they assumed homogeneous populations, they lumped vastly different country policies into single indicator variables, and they assumed exogenous human behavior.27 Homburg and Kuhbandner ( 2020 ), focus on the fact that Rt, by definition within a fixed population, must decline over time as recovered individuals are no longer susceptible to infection. However, Flaxman et al. assumed that the reproduction number was fixed at Rt = R0 up until the moment of lockdown, at which point it changed to a new fixed level. This forced the model to put all of the explanatory power on the lockdown indicator variable and grossly exaggerated the effect of lockdown. Homburg and Kuhbandner conclude that ''... the results of Flaxman et al. are artifacts of an inappropriate model.'28
Despite the modeling issues and structural econometric tricks, one other feature of Flaxman et al. needs to be highlighted: the problem of attributing the 'total' effect on transmission to lockdown, and not breaking down the channels by which an effect might have happened. Flaxman et al. state that 'Our parametric form of Rt assumes that changes in Rt are an immediate response to interventions rather than gradual changes in behaviour, '...'. This means that the only interpretation possible for the empirical results is that lockdown mattered. Thus, even if the estimated effect was true, it raised the question: was it caused by the mandated lockdown or voluntary individual reactions to the virus?29
2.3.4. Four stylized facts about covid-19Atkeson et al.'s ( 2020 ) paper 'Four Stylized Facts About Covid-19' was a watershed result that appeared six months into the pandemic. Using data from 23 countries and all U.S. states that had experienced at least 1000 cumulative deaths up to July 2020, it discovered important features of the progression of the virus across countries that cast serious doubt that any forms of lockdown had a significant large impact on transmission and death rates.
In particular, they found that across all of the jurisdictions there was an initial high variance in the daily death and transmission rates, but that this ended very rapidly. After 20''30'‰days of the 25th death the growth rate in deaths fell to close to zero, and the transmission rate hovered around one.30 Not only did Atkeson et al. find a dramatic drop and stability of the death and transmission rates, but the spread in these rates across jurisdictions was very narrow. That is, across all jurisdictions, after 20''30'‰days the virus reached a steady state where each infected person transmmited the virus to one other person, and the number of daily deaths from the virus became constant over time.
This finding contrasted with all of the early local, small sample, studies that found any effects of lockdown on cases and deaths. Across all jurisdictions the progression of the virus was the same, despite wide ranging differences in the degree and type of lockdown. In their words:
Our finding in Fact 1 that early declines in the transmission rate of COVID- 19 were nearly universal worldwide suggest that the role of region-specific NPI's implemented in this early phase of the pandemic is likely overstated Our findings in Fact 2 and Fact 3 further raise doubt about the importance in NPI's (lockdown policies in particular) in accounting for the evolution of COVID-19 transmission rates over time and across locations. Many of the regions in our sample that instigated lockdown policies early on in their local epidemic, removed them later on in our estimation period, or have have not relied on mandated NPI's much at all. Yet, effective reproduction numbers in all regions have continued to remain low relative to initial levels indicating that the removal of lockdown policies has had little effect on transmission rates.
[pp. 15''16]
Atkeson et al. speculated on three reasons for their findings. First, unlike the assumptions made in the SIR models, individuals do not ignore risks, and when a virus enters a population people take mitigating or risky actions based on their own assessments of that risk.31 Second, again in contrast to the classic SIR model where individuals uniformly interact with each other, actual human networks are limited and this can limit the spread of the virus after a short period. Finally, like other pandemics, there may be natural forces associated with Covid-19 that explain the rapid move to a steady state death and transmission rate.
Each of these reasons suggest that the early correlative findings between lockdowns and cases were not causal linkages. At best the early findings have to be considered with caution. As noted above, Atkeson ( 2021 ) continued pandemic modeling shows the critical importance of including seasonality, lockdown fatigue, and behavioral responses to the virus.
2.3.5. Voluntary versus mandated lockdown channelsAs the summer and fall of 2020 progressed Covid-19 research continued as academics studied finer details based on new data and modeling refinements. Perhaps most significantly a number of papers found strong evidence that changes in human behavior significantly affected the progression of the virus, and that this channel was more important than mandated lockdowns for altering the number of cases, transmission rates, and deaths.
Bj¸rnskov ( 2021 ) exploited cross-country variation in European lockdown policy and found that (p. 7):
Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended.
Eichenbaum, de Matos, et al. ( 2020 ) showed that elderly people in particular are more likely to reduce spending, time away from home, and the consumption of goods likely to involve high contact with other people. Hunt et al. ( 2020 ) exploited the variation in stay-at-home orders across the U.S. and found that lockdowns had only modest effects on Covid-19 transmission rates. Rather, they found that
'...most social distancing is driven by voluntary responses. Moreover, we show that neither policy nor rates of voluntary social distancing explain a meaningful share of geographic variation. The most important predictors of which cities were hardest hit by the pandemic are exogenous characteristics such as population and density.
Large urban centers got hit harder by the virus, but consistent with the Atkeson et al. ( 2020 ) finding, the transmission rate of the virus depended on endogenous individual responses.32
Goolsbee and Syverson ( 2020 ), using cellular phone location records, found that voluntary 'self-lockdown' explained most of the enormous change in behavior in the spring, and that they 'do not find evidence of large temporal or spatial shifting in response to shelter-in-place policies' (p. 12).
There are, by my count, over twenty studies that distinguish between voluntary and mandated lockdown effects. Although they vary in terms of data, locations, methods, and authors, all of them find that mandated lockdowns have only marginal effects and that voluntary changes in behavior explain large parts of the changes in cases, transmissions, and deaths. Consider the following:
This observational study, using a generalized phenomenological method based on official daily deaths records only, shows that full lockdown policies of France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom haven't had the expected effects in the evolution of theCOVID-19 epidemic. Our results show a general decay trend in the growth rates and reproduction numbers two to three weeks before the full lock- down policies would be expected to have visible effects. Comparison of pre and post lockdown observations reveals a counter-intuitive slowdown in the decay of the epidemic after lockdown.
[Meunier, p. 6, May 2020 , emphasis added]
Lockdowns are overall effective at curbing the spread of the disease and at reducing deaths (after about 30 days). But the harsher is not the better: partial lockdowns are as effective as stricter ones, but at a lower cost.
[Bonardi et al., June 2020 , emphasis added]
We test and find wanting the popular notions that lockdowns with their attendant social distancing and various other NPIs confer protection.
[Nell, et al., July 2020, emphasis added]
'... our analysis shows that people voluntarily reduce their visits to workplace, retails, grocery stores, and limit their use of public transit when they receive information on a higher number of new cases and deaths. This suggests that individuals make decisions to voluntarily limit their contact with others in response to greater transmission risks, leading to an important feedback mechanism that affects future cases and deaths. Model simulations that ignore this voluntary behavioral response to information on transmission risks would over-predict the future number of cases and deaths.
[Chernozhukov et al. p. 52, 2021 , emphasis added.33]
Lockdowns are ineffective at reducing Covid-19 deaths. Variation amongst counties in the United States, where over one-fifth had no lockdown, shows no impact of lockdowns. Specifically, one cannot reject the hypothesis of zero difference in deaths between lockdown and non-lockdown counties.
[Gibson, p. 8, November 2020 , emphasis added]
These findings of the relative importance of voluntary responses relative to mandated lockdowns have continued to be confirmed.34 A study by Bendavid et al. ( 2021 ) that distinguished between strong and weak lockdown countries concluded:35
In the framework of this analysis, there is no evidence that more restrictive non- pharmaceutical interventions ('lockdowns') contributed substantially to bending the curve of new cases in England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain or the United States in early 2020. By comparing the effectiveness of NPIs on case growth rates in countries that implemented more restrictive measures with those that implemented less restrictive measures, the evidence points away from indicating that [more restrictive] NPIs provided additional meaningful ben- efit above and beyond [light restrictive] NPIs. While modest decreases in daily growth (under 30%) cannot be excluded in a few countries, the possibility of large decreases in daily growth due to [more restrictive] NPIs is incompatible with the accumulated data.
emphasis added
A reasonable conclusion to draw from the sum of lockdown findings on mortality is that a small reduction (benefit) cannot be ruled out for early and light levels of lockdown restrictions. There is almost no consistent evidence that strong levels of lockdown have a beneficial effect, and given the large levels of statistical noise in most studies, a zero (or even negative) effect cannot be ruled out. Maybe lockdowns have a marginal effect, but maybe they do not; a reasonable range of the decline in Covid-19 mortality is 0''20%.
2.4. The costs of lockdownResearch on the cost of lockdowns has lagged that of the benefits, and even still is incomplete and piecemeal because there are several critical issues which will take time to sort out. First, lockdown costs depend on the expectations people have on how long they will last. These expectations have been constantly changing as lockdowns have been repeatedly extended from an initial two weeks to over sixteen months. Second, many costs will manifest over time, and estimates of these costs can not been done yet. Third, without lockdowns there still would have been negative consequences from the virus itself, and these must be separated from the costs of the lockdown reaction. Fourth, lockdowns take place in the context of other countries and there are general equilibrium and feedback effects that require sorting out. Finally, it is still unknown how permanent many of the effects will be.
2.4.1. Lost GDPThese issues have meant that all estimates of lockdown costs to date in cost/benefit studies have been limited and unsatisfactory. For example, Miles et al. provides a good discussion of cost estimation issues, but then settles on using different scenarios of lost GDP in the U.K. as a cost estimate. There is no question that lost GDP from lockdown is a cost. Lockdowns that close non-essential businesses, supply chains, and various service sector activities, must reduce the production of goods and services. Since these goods and services are valued, this loss is an obvious cost of lockdown.
Measures of GDP losses over the year abound. Miles et al.have different scenario losses attributed to lockdown that range from £200B '' £550B for the U.K.
In terms of actual losses, Sweden had a'‰'''‰7.4% change in the second quarter of 2020, compared to ''13.9% change for the EU in the same time period (Eurostat, 2021 ). If we used Sweden (which had GDP fall 2.8% over the year) as a lockdown counterfactual, then perhaps one half of the EU fall in GDP could be contributed to lockdowns.36 Applying this to a country like Canada, that experienced about an 11% fall in the second quarter GDP and overall a 5.1% fall in GDP, then Canada's lockdown cost about $89 billion dollars.37
When considering losses of GDP, it is important to note that these losses have not been evenly distributed. Canada, like most countries, borrowed to finance lockdown transfer payments, which transfers the debt burden to younger generations. Furthermore, GDP losses vary across industries. In Canada, for example, retail sales experienced a drop of 30% in the second quarter of 2020, but then mostly recovered. Full-service dining sales, on the other hand, dropped by 80% in the second quarter, but by the end of the year were still down 52%. Finally, international flights fell by an enormous 90% in the second quarter, and remained there for the rest of the year.38
As noted earlier in section II.B, only using GDP losses as a measure of lockdown costs grossly under-estimates the costs. Despite this, it is often the case that studies with this methodology still find that costs of lockdown exceed any benefits. For example, Miles et al. find that costs exceed benefits for every one of their forty scenarios '-- even though they use the over-estimated Ferguson et al. counterfactual of lives saved. In other words, despite under-estimating the costs and over-estimating the benefits (and only for the first three months of lockdown) they still concluded:
We find that the costs of the three-month lockdown in the UK are likely to have been high relative to benefits, so that a continuation of severe restrictions is un- likely to be warranted.
[p. R75, August 2020]
2.4.2. Other costsFrom the beginning it has been recognized that costs involved both the lost goods and services from shutting down economic activity and the lost utility from restricting individual freedoms. Over the course of the year the list of costs beyond lost GDP has increased, and the reach of lockdowns in terms of suffering has turned out to be nuanced and long. Many of the costs will not be known for years as they work out in reduced graduation rates, increased structural unemployment, reduced future earnings, permanent changes to the workforce and organization of businesses, reduced social capital, and reduced long run health status. Here I provide a short list of some of the findings arrived at thus far.
Lost educational opportunities. Lost, delayed, or poor education leads to reduced human capital that has life long negative consequences.39 Not only has lockdown reduced educational opportunities for the young, the distribution of the effects is not equal. Bonal and Gonz'alez ( 2020 ), find that children in low income families, with poor access to online resources, suffer more than others.
Additional effects of school closures.40 Closing schools creates isolation for children, which is known to increase the risk of mental health conditions.41
Agostinelli et al. ( 2020 ) showed that school closures hurt students from low income families more. Baron et al. ( 2020 ) reported that school closures inhibit the reporting of child abuse. Green et al. ( 2020 ), using Canadian data found that closing schools and having children learn from home meant that parents reduced labor force participation. Lewis, et al. ( 2021 ) provide an extensive list of literature on the harm school closures have had on children and conclude: 'School closures have been implemented internationally with insufficient evidence for their role in minimising covid-19 transmission and insufficient consideration of the harms to children.'42
Perhaps the most startling education finding was from Christakis et al. ( 2020 ), who estimated the linkage between school, lost educational attainment, and life expectancy. Over the course of just the first wave of the pandemic their point estimate on the estimated effect of school closures on life expectancy was 13.8 million lost years of life. To put this in context, the average age of Covid-19 death in the US is about 75. A healthy 75 year old American has a 12 year life expectancy. Thus, the 13.8 million lost life years translates into 1,150,000 75 year old deaths. These lost life years were over the first wave of the pandemic, and are more than twice the number of all U.S. Covid-19 deaths in the first year.
Increased deaths expected from unemployment. Life expectancy depends on wealth levels.43 McIntyre and Lee ( 2020 ) predict between 418''2114 excess suicides in Canada based on increased unemployment over the pandemic year. Bianchi et al. ( 2020 ), using time-series data on unemployment, life expectancy, and mortality, estimate the effect of Covid-19 unemployment shocks on future deaths. They find that for the U.S. over the next 15 years unemployment shocks caused by the lockdown reaction will increase deaths by 800,000. These deaths will disproportionately effect women and African-Americans. Since the authors do not distinguish between the effect of the pandemic and lockdowns, not all of the deaths can be attributed to lockdown. However, the link between lockdowns and unemployment is well established.
Increased deaths from overdoses and other deaths of despair. Lockdowns disrupt illegal drug channels, often resulting in a more contaminated drug supply. Lockdowns also increase human isolation, leading to increased depression and suicides.44 As early has June 2020, Jia et al. reported substantial increases in depression, stress, and anxiety were linked to lockdown. Mulligan ( 2020 ) found that over the course of 2020 across the U.S. deaths of despair increased between 10''60%. Killgore et al. ( 2020 ) found that the number of people with thoughts of suicide in the U.S. states with lockdown increased with each passing month, but remained stable in states without lockdown.
Increased domestic violence. Chalfin et al. ( 2021 ) found that much of the increased domestic violence is related to increased alcohol which increased during lockdown.45
Lost non-Covid-19 medical service. In the spring lockdown hospitals cancelled scheduled appointments for screenings and treatments (e.g. London et al. 2020 ; Garcia et al. 2020 ), this created fear among individuals who required emergency treatments and, ironically, although emergency calls for treatment often fell, things like deaths from Cardiac ar- rest increased (e.g. Holland et al. 2020 ). Woolf et al. ( 2020 ) estimate that in the U.S. about 1/3 of the excess deaths over 2020 are not Covid-19 deaths. Maringe et al. ( 2020 ) estimate that approximately 60,000 years of lost life will result in England from increased cancer deaths resulting from suspended screenings. (see also Lai 2020 ). These results are supported by Williams et al. ( 2021 ) who find that during the first wave of the pandemic in England and Wales the non-Covid-19 related excess mortality caused by lockdowns 'more than offset' any decrease in Covid-19 deaths attributed to lockdown.46
The opportunity costs of lockdown are widespread across societies, and everyone has faced some type of lockdown consequence. These costs are often non-market and in the future, making them difficult for third parties to measure. They are also unevenly distributed onto the young and the poor who have been unable to mitigate the consequences of lockdown. These characteristics contribute to the lack of attention given to them, and stand in sharp contrast to Covid-19 case loads and deaths that are measured, highly concentrated, and widely reported.
In light of the nature and measurement problems associated with the costs of lockdown, as of July 2021 no true, standard, cost benefit study has been conducted. All efforts have rested on assumptions and guesses of things not yet known. It will still take time for a systematic, ground-up, attempt to determine the total lost quality of life brought about by lockdown. Even though such studies do not exist, there is still weight to the economic logic that, with negligible benefits and obvious high costs, lockdown is an inefficient policy.
3. An alternative cost/benefit methodologyProfessor Caplan ( 2020 ) has suggested a thought experiment that provides a solution for the cost measurement issue. Rather than attempt to measure a long list of costs and add them up, Caplan proposes a method that exploits our willingness to pay to avoid the harms of lockdown. If lockdown imposed net costs of $1000 on a person, then that person would be willing to pay up to $1000 to avoid lockdown. Caplan, however, poses the matter in terms of time rather than dollars. His (paraphrased) thought experiment is the following:
Suppose you could either live a year of life in the COVID era with lockdowns (e.g. like what happened in the U.K.), or 12-X months with the virus but no lockdowns (e.g. like what happened in Sweden or Florida). What value of X would make the AVERAGE person indifferent?
Professor Caplan's thought experiment addresses the total costs of all covid prevention as perceived by each person living under it, and therefore is an appropriate utility based cost measure to hold up against the value of lives saved through lockdown: X is the number of months a person is willing to pay to avoid lockdowns, other things equal. To make this more explicit, let y0 be the set of behaviors one would engage in during the Covid-19 pandemic year without lockdown (Swedish case), and y1 be the set of behaviors engaged in with actual lockdown (UK case). Let U (y0, 12'‰'''‰Xmonths) be the utility of the former, and U (y1, 12'‰months) be the utility of the latter. Professor Caplan is asking: what value of X makes the two utilities equal?
For any random individual, X could take on a wide range of values. For some this past year has been horrific, and perhaps they would have preferred it never happened. Perhaps they suffered violence or abuse that was fueled by frustration and alcohol while locked down during a long stay-at-home order. Or perhaps they lost a business, a major career opportunity, or struggled over a long period of unemployment and induced depression. For these people, X equals 12 '-- they would have paid 12'‰months of their life to have avoided this past year. Others might have been willing to pay even more. For the vast majority of populations, Covid-19 was not a serious health risk. Lockdowns provided no benefits and only costs. Thus, for the vast majority, X likely takes on a value in the order of a few months.
On the other hand, consider the case of an elderly person in relatively poor health. Such a person, as we know from the research done on voluntary responses, will very likely isolate and lockdown voluntarily. Mandated lockdowns impose no marginal costs on them, and as a result, this person would set X'‰='‰0. That is, they would pay nothing to have avoided mandated lockdowns. There are others for whom lockdown was also just a minor inconvenience. Those who are professional and have no children at home; who have access to Amazon, Zoom, and the internet; who live in a large house with a garden, dislike travel (and travelers), and have poorer health are also likely to pay very little to avoid lockdown. These folks might be willing to sacrifice only a week or two (e.g. X = .25) to avoid lockdown.
The question is: how many months would be sacrificed on average? Professor Caplan argues that X'‰='‰2'‰months is a conservative estimate. That is, on average, two months would be sacrificed to have avoided lockdown. For the sake of demonstration, I will use this value of two months, in the context of Canada, to calculate the costs of lockdown.
As of March 2021 the pandemic had lasted one year, and by assumption the average Canadian had lost two months of normal life due to lockdown. The population of Canada is 37.7 million people, which means that 6,283,333'‰years of life were lost due to Canada's lockdown policy. This number of years can be converted into 'lives' using average life expectancy.
The average age of reported Covid-19 deaths in Canada over the first year of the pandemic was 80.47 In Canada an average 80'‰year old has a life expectancy of 9.79'‰years.48 This means that the 6,283,333 million years of lost life is equivalent to the deaths of 643,513 80'‰year olds.49 As of March 22, 2021 Canada had a total of 22,716 deaths due to Covid-19 (or 222,389 lost years of life).
The question is, however, how many lost years of life would have resulted from Covid-19 deaths if there had been no lockdown? Within the econometric evidence, one of the highest counterfactual upper bounds on the number of Covid-19 deaths was found by Chernozhukov et al. (p. 51) at 50%; that is, deaths would have been, at most, 50% higher had there been no lockdown.50 Given that most of the literature finds a zero effect of lockdowns on deaths, perhaps a mid-point estimate between zero and the Chernozhukov et al. upper bound would be a 20% increase in the number of deaths. In the table below I will calculate benefits for both scenarios.
Therefore, in the two cases of an increase of 20% or 50% in deaths with no lockdown, Canada would have experienced an additional 4543 or 11,358 deaths. Meaning there would have been additional 44,430 or 111,081'‰years of lost life due to Covid-19 deaths. The benefit of lockdown, therefore, was the avoidance of these extra years of lost life. As noted, the cost of lockdown was 6,283,333'‰years of lost life, and therefore, the cost/benefit ratio of lockdown is 141 (6,283,333/44,430) or 56 (6,283,333/111,081).
Table 2 below shows nine different cost-benefit ratios using the same procedure, but with different assumptions. In terms of lockdown costs the table considers two extremes. The first is that X = .5 or two weeks. In other words, lockdowns were little more than an inconvenience for the average Canadian. The second is that X'‰='‰5, in which case the average Canadian was willing to sacrifice almost half of a year to avoid lockdowns. In terms of the benefits of lockdown the table uses three cases: the 20% mid-point estimate, the 50% upper bound, and the apocalyptic values of the Ferguson et al., Imperial College of London (ICL) model.51 All three of these benefit estimates are on the high side, and so the cost/benefit ratios are conservative.
Covid-19 Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the LiteraturePublished online:29 September 2021
Table 2. Cost/benefit ratios.
The cost/benefit ratios based on the Ferguson et al. model are presented only to show that even under that nonsense scenario lockdown is a failure as a policy by cost/benefit standards. The review of the literature suggests that lives saved likely ranged between 0-20% of actual deaths. Thus, even under the assumption that lockdowns were little more than a minor inconvenience on average (X = .5), the costs were at least thirty-five times higher than the benefits. The reasonable conservative case is that the cost/benefit ratio is around 141, which means that by any cost/benefit standard, lockdown has been a public policy disaster.
This analysis only considers the number of years of lost life. A proper cost/benefit analysis would consider the value of these lost years. As noted above, the value of life is not constant across age. Since the life years lost to Covid-19 deaths were mostly among those older than 60, and since the years of lost life because of lockdown have mostly been among the young, adjusting the above cost/benefit ratios for the value of life will make lockdown an even worse policy.52
4. ConclusionAfter more than a year of gathering aggregate data, a puzzle has emerged. Lockdowns were brought on with claims that they were effective and the only means of dealing with the pandemic. However, across many different jurisdictions this relationship does not hold when looking at the raw data.
A casual examination of lockdown intensity and the number of cumulative deaths attributed to Covid-19 across jurisdictions shows no obvious relationship.53 Indeed, often the least intensive locations had equal or better performance. For example, using the OurWorldInData stringency index (SI) as a measure of lockdown, Pakistan (SI: 50), Finland (SI: 52), and Bulgaria (SI: 50) had similar degrees of lockdown, but the cumulative deaths per million were 61, 141, and 1023. Peru (SI: 83) and the U.K. (SI: 78) had some of the most stringent lockdowns, but also experienced some of the largest cumulative deaths per million: 1475 and 1868.54
Using information from OurWorldInData, the cumulative deaths per million on March 28, 2021 in North America were 1351 and for the European Union 1368. Sweden had light restrictions, but cumulative deaths were 1327; while the UK had heavy lockdowns and 1868 cumulative deaths per million. This stands in sharp contrast to the dire predictions that were made about Sweden in the first six months of the pandemic.55
Similar findings arise when comparing various US states. Florida and California were often compared because they are similar in terms of size and latitude, but had different lockdown policies. Florida locked down in the spring but then started lifting restrictions, on September 25th, 2020 all restrictions were lifted. California has had various mandates throughout 2020, but in early December issued a stay-at-home order that remained in place until January 25th, 2021.56 However, the cumulative deaths per 100,000 people are practically indistinguishable: 152 for Florida and 143 for California.57
It is easy to find counter examples when using unconditional counts on deaths across different jurisdictions. That is, one can find cases where lockdown states had fewer deaths per million than some non-lockdown states (e.g. Ireland and Germany had high stringency indexes and below average deaths per million). However, it remains the case that lockdown is not associated with fewer deaths per million, but (likely) more.58
These unconditional observation puzzles are resolved by the research done over the past year. The preconceived success of lockdowns was driven by theoretical models that were based on assumptions that were unrealistic and often false. The lack of any clear and large lockdown effect is because there isn't one to be found.
The consideration of any policy must consider all costs and all benefits of that policy. All estimates of costs and benefits depend on various assumptions of parameters and structural model forms, and many of the studies examined (especially the early ones) relied on assumptions that were false, and which tended to over-estimate the benefits and under-estimate the costs of lockdown. As a result, most of the early cost/benefit studies arrived at conclusions that were refuted later by data, and which rendered their cost/benefit findings incorrect.
Advances in models and data over the past year have showed that lockdowns have had, at best, a marginal effect on the number of Covid-19 deaths. Generally speaking, the ineffectiveness of lockdown stems from voluntary changes in behavior. Lockdown jurisdictions were not able to prevent non-compliance, and non-lockdown jurisdictions benefited from voluntary changes in behavior that mimicked lockdowns.
Using a cost/benefit method proposed by Professor Bryan Caplan the most reasonable cost/benefit ratio of lockdowns in terms of life-years saved in Canada is 141. However, given their limited effectiveness, lockdowns still fail under extremely conservative estimates of costs. Furthermore, if the fall of 2021 results in many cases resulting from the more transmissible delta variant among a shrinking number of unvaccinated people, then the expected benefits of lockdown policies become even smaller. Lockdowns are not just an inefficient policy, they must rank as one of the greatest peacetime policy disasters of all time.
1 Other island countries with this strategy include many Pacific island nations (like Samoa and Tonga), Caribbean islands (like Cuba and Jamaica), and Iceland.
2 It has been a sad irony that Covid-19 policy has not been driven by economics, the discipline that specializes in the study of costs and benefits, but by epidemiologists who have 'no expertise in weighing health benefits against other costs' (Boettke and Powell 2021 , p. 1092). For example, Miles et al. ( 2020 ) provide an excellent economic assessment of the first pandemic wave in Europe. They pointed out the need to consider all costs and benefits, and recognized that the costs of widespread severe restrictions likely exceeded costs. They also pointed out that economics suggests using more targeted measures to deal with the particular effects of Covid-19. Unfortunately, lockdown proponents have often portrayed arguments like this as a type of 'moral bankruptcy.'
3 The vast majority of studies have focused on cases and deaths, and so that is what is dealt with here. Issues of 'long-covid' and other non-mortality costs that might be reduced by lockdown are not addressed. See Kniesner and Sullivan ( 2020 ) for a discussion of non-fatal Covid-19 outcomes.
4 It has become a stylized fact that lockdown was successful during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918''1919. However, Barro ( 2020 ), showed early on in this pandemic that school closures, prohibitions on public gatherings, and isolation orders had no significant effect on overall mortality during the second wave of the great 1918''1919 pandemic. It is also the case that prior to Covid-19 the WHO was opposed to widespread border and school closures, stay at home orders, and lockdowns.
5 This model depends on number of people susceptible (S), infectious (I), or recovered (R).
6 This was the lowest value considered. Other predictions used values as high as 3.3, with considerably more deaths predicted.
7 Estimates of the IFR have continued to fall over the year. Ioannidis ( 2020 ) estimated that the median IFR was 0.27% across 51 locations around the world. He noted that this IFR was 'much lower than estimates made earlier in the pandemic' (p.1). Ioannidis ( 2021 ) later estimated the average global IFR at 0.15%.
8 There are many forms of SIRs models, and the exact channel by which the virus mechanically progresses varies across studies. For example, Ambikapathy and Krishnamurthy ( 2020 ) model the exponential viral growth using a system of differential equations that mimic a SIR model. Given the assumed parameters in the model, lockdowns inhibit the transmission rates and produce a predicted benefit. See also Sj¶din et al. 2020 , or Liu et al. May 2020 for other examples of mechanical virus models. One problem with SIR models that is not addressed here is their sensitivity to model specification. Chin et al. ( 2021 ) show that the original SIR models used by the ICL were ''... non-robust and highly sensitive to model specification, assumptions and data employed to fit models.' (p. 102).
9 The notion that epidemiological models should contain endogenous human behavior was explained in a classic paper by Philipson ( 2000 ). This feature is common in economic models of Covid-19. For example Farboodi et al. ( 2020 ) and Luther ( 2020 ) found that individual responses to the virus were substantial and happened before lockdowns were mandated. Leeson and Rouanet ( 2021 ) point out the various ways this endogenous response self-limits the externality of infection, which reduces the presumed rationale for lockdowns in the first place.
10 The effects of lockdown on transmission turned out to be much more nuanced. For example, Mulligan ( 2021 ) found that workplaces quickly adopted safety protocols, making them safer places than households where people were locked down. Social networks, patterns of immunity, population age distributions, and the like all played large roles in transmissions and interfered with the naive lockdown predictions.
11 An example of this is found in Hsiang et al. ( 2020 ), who use the pre-lockdown growth rates of the virus in their calculation of the counterfactual trajectory of new cases. This ignores the fact that transmission and infection rates vary over time, and that a major reason for this variation is voluntary changes in behavior.
12 The use of these models has continued into 2021 with respect to covid-19 variants. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, stated on February 2, 2021 that the new variant would cause a 'hurricane' of new cases, and 'The fact is that the surge that is likely to occur with this new variant from England is going to happen in the next six to fourteen weeks. And, if we see that happen, which my forty-five years in the trenches tell me we will, we are going to see something like we have not seen yet in this country '...'. Quoted from https://nationalinterest.org/blog/coronavirus/health-expert-prepare-category-5-coronavirus-hurricane-177476. According to OurWorldInData, on February 2, 2021 there were 428 cases per million (cpm) people in the U.S. Six weeks later on March 14 there were 163 cpm; fourteen weeks later on May 4 there were 145 cpm. Cases did not rise to unprecedented hurricane levels, but rather fell by more than two times. By late August cases were up to 258 cpm, but due to a different (delta) variant and behavior changes caused by vaccinations.
13 Furthermore, these two responses are inter-related:
The endogenous behavioral response '... may also limit the effectiveness of efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A lockdown, for example, that does not end the pandemic may suppress disease prevalence temporarily only to encourage behavior that leads the disease to become just as prevalent as before the lockdown.
[Leeson and Rouanet, p. 1111, 2021 ]
14 For example, if only 10% of change in cases is caused by mandated lockdown and 90% is caused by voluntary changes in behavior, then attributing all of the effect to lockdown over-estimates the lockdown effect by nine times. The less important mandated lockdowns are, the greater the over-estimation. This issue was publicly known as early as April 2020. Abouk ( 2020 ) examined differences in policies across the U.S. and separated out the voluntary effect. He noted (p. 2):
While there is strong evidence for reduced social contact in the US, not all of these reductions can be attributed to NPIs: mobility data show that people in most states had already started to reduce the time they spend outside their homes before any NPI was implemented.
He found that stay-at-home orders had a substantial effect on confirmed cases, but business and school closures, along with bans of large gatherings did not.
15 Many object to the assignment of a number to the value of a life. To do so, however, makes it impossible to compare the costs and benefits of a policy decision. Arguing that assigning values to lives is immoral has been one method used to prevent the policy discussions from using cost/benefit analysis.
16 The major alternative to using VSL is a 'quality of life adjusted years' (QALY), which takes into account the health status of the individual. Given the age and health of most people who died of Covid-19, the QALY produces a value of life generally lower than the VSL. I ignore the debate over which method is more appropriate since most cost/benefit studies used the VSL; however, see Miles et al. for an example of the use of QALY in a Covid-19 study.
17 See Hammitt ( 2020 ) for an excellent discussion of the VSL and descriptions of how it varies with age.
18 It has been understood for some time that those dying of Covid-19 have comorbidities. Accord- ing to the March 17, 2021 CDC weekly update (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covidweekly/index.htm#ExcessDeaths) only 6% of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to Covid-19 alone. The average number of comorbidities of those who died was 3.8. Thus, even assigning a VSL of $2,000,000 for individuals with multiple comorbidities is too high.
19 The absurdity of such a conclusion points to the problem of using a marginal value of life to estimate a total value. If the entire economy of the US was actually closed for one year, the total loss of life would be in the hundreds of millions.
20 Taken from Bureau of Economic Analysis: https://www.bea.gov/news/2021/.
21 As of March 2021, 95.9% of deaths were to individuals over age 60, and 69.1% of deaths were to individuals over 80. Source: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html.
22 I ignore the issue of 'homogeneity' in SIR models (the idea that everyone in the model is the same) because most empirical work ignored it. However, this is another significant shortcoming of many models. Acemoglu et al., as early as May 2020 , produced a SIR model where there were three different age cohorts, with age-increasing risks from Covid-19. Not too surprisingly, in such a model a uniform, blanket lockdown is not optimal. By June of 2020 models started appearing where individuals could differ in many characteristics like transmissibility, locations, ages, occupations, etc. Both Ellison ( 2020 ), and Akbarpour et al. ( 2020 ) showed that introducing heterogeneity resulted in herd immunity being reached much faster, and which raised the costs of blanket lockdowns.
23 See for example, this March 23, 2020 article: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/a-covid-cost-benefit-analysis/which assumed lockdown saved one million lives all valued at $9M each, and made no guess at costs, but concluded 'I still think the benefits will easily prevail'...'. Another article from March 31, 2020 (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/modelers-weigh-value-lives-and-lockdown-costs-put-price-covid-19), assumed a constant value of life of $9.5M, and a loss of GDP caused by lockdown of 22%, argued that 'even a yearlong lockdown makes economic sense.'
24 Almost all of the cost/benefits studies I found from the early spring suffered from the problems of using a standard SIR model to estimate the counterfactual, constant and high VSL, high transmission and infection fatality rates, and costs based on GDP. These include Eichenbaum et al. ( 2020 ), Bethune and Korinek ( 2020 ), Jones et al. ( 2020 ), Baker et al. ( 2020 ), Bloom et al. ( 2020 ), Hall et al. ( 2020 ), Basili and Nicita ( 2020 ), and Cutler and Summers ( 2020 ). An interesting example is Rowthorn and Maciejowski ( 2020 ). Although it came out later in the summer, it still used a basic SIR model in its cost/benefit analysis. What makes it interesting is that the authors recognized how critical the VSL number was. When a life is worth £2m, then only a lockdown of 5.3 weeks was justifiable. When the VSL is £10m it still only justified a 10 week lockdown.
25 These challenges came from professionals in public health as well as economics. Rangel et al. ( 2020 ) pointed out very early that narrow models that only focused on a few outcomes would lead to terrible public health outcomes.
26 Other early studies showing that lockdown reduced cases include Born et al. ( 2020 ), Courtemanche et al. ( 2020 ), Dehning et al. ( 2020 ), and Hannah et al. ( 2020 ) and Dhaval, Friedson, Matsuzawa, and Sabia ( 2020 ). Most of the early studies are based on modeling exercises, which again, depend critically on the model's counterfactual prediction. An exception was Banerjee and Nayak ( 2020 ) who looked at county level mobility data in the U.S. and did a difference-in-difference analysis between counties with and without lockdown. They found a positive effect of lockdown, but their data only spanned February 1 '' March 31 2020, and over this period most of the states without mandated lockdowns had almost no infections. Hence there is a serious endogeneity problem with the cross-section analysis. That is, the lack of response is being attributed to the absence of lockdown, when it likely reflects the absence of the virus.
27 Even Flaxman et al. recognize the problem of exogenous behavior: 'We do not account for changes in behaviour; in reality, even in the absence of government interventions we would expect Rt to decrease and therefore would overestimate deaths in the no-intervention model.'
28 Lewis (2020), and Lemoine ( 2020 ) both write devastating critiques of the Flaxman et al. paper. In analyzing the Flaxman et al. supplementary material these two critiques also point out that the study's findings related to Sweden refute the study's conclusion.
29 Ibarra-Vega ( 2020 ) uses a similar approach where the counterfactual number of in- fections is determined by a SIR model with exogenous behavior, and then shows that in such an imaginary model lockdowns are effective.
30 Evidence that the virus was not exponentially out of control was available very early on. Harris ( 2020 ) shows that after one month the case load was flattening in NY.
31 See Eksin, Paarporn, and Weitz ( 2019 ) for a study of the effect of human behavior on the progression of disease. Adding behavioral responses to SIR models in economics goes back at least to Philipson and Posner ( 1993 ). It is not a new idea. Dhaval, Friedson, Matsuzawa, Sabia, et al. ( 2020 ) had shown early on that in the context of a large political rally local individuals recognized the increased risk of transmission and adjusted their behavior to mitigate this risk, leading to no change in transmission rates.
32 Gupta et al. ( 2020 ) survey the literature on social distancing and claim that mandates have an effect, but the volunteer response is larger.
33 This paper, which is likely the most sophisticated econometric causal study, found that lockdowns have a direct effect on cases and mortality. However, in a detailed analysis and replication Lemoine ( 2021 ) found that none of their results were robust.
34 Using a natural experiment methodology in Denmark, Kepp and Bj¸rnskov (2020) find that 'efficient infection surveillance and voluntary compliance make full lockdowns unnecessary.' A different type of study is Savaris et al. ( 2021 ) that uses mobility data to identify time spent at home, and looked at over 3700 pairwise jurisdictional comparisons, they found ''... no evidence that the number of deaths/million is reduced by staying at home.' Most notably, they were not studying lockdown stay-at-home orders, but actual stay-at-home behaviors. Elenev et al. 2021 ) show that people in neighboring jurisdictions voluntarily respond to stay at home orders elsewhere. Berry et al. ( 2021 , p. 1) found that 'shelter-in-place orders had no detectable health benefits, only modest effects on behavior, and small but adverse effects on the economy. '... Many people had already changed their behaviors '...'.
35 This paper received a number of critical letters and comments to the journal. The authors responded in Bendavid et al. ( 2021 ), showing that the criticisms were invalid. They conclude in their reply:
Given their many uncontestable harms to health and society, we believe that the extant literature does not provide strong support for their [NPI] effectiveness at reducing case spread, and should be subjected to careful, critical and rigorous evaluation. If the benefits of such measures are negligible (or worse), their perpetuation may be, on balance, detrimental to the health of the public. p. 3.
36 Sweden's GDP growth taken from: https://tradingeconomics.com/sweden/gdp-growth.
37 Canada's GDP levels are from: https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/gdp.
38 Data taken from Statistics Canada's economic dashboard: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-607-x/71-607-x2020009-eng.htm.
39 The role of education in the formation of human capital and its importance for individual well being and economic growth is well established in economics. See Becker ( 1994 ) for a classic treatment.
40 Although not a research study, a Unicef bulletin contains a long list of lockdown and school closures on children. These include: lost days of education (especially for early education), food insecurity, lost access to health care, increased stress, increased risk of abuse at home, poorer infant and maternity care, failure to receive regular vaccinations, and increased mental health issues. See https://downloads.unicef.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Unicef-UK-Children-In-Lockdown-Coronavirus-Impacts-Snapshot.pdf
41 Loades et al. ( 2020 ) survey 80 studies related to isolation and children and conclude ''... increased the risk of depression, and possibly anxiety at the time at which loneliness was measured'...'.
42 For other effects of closing schools see also Fuchs-Schndeln et al. ( 2020 ), or Buonsenso et al. ( 2020 ).
43 See Roelfs et al. ( 2011 ) and references that show this relationship has been understood for some time. Lindo ( 2011 ) also shows that unemployment contributes to higher infant death.
44 This channel has been known for some time. See Steptoe et al. ( 2013 ) and references, or Holt-Lunstad et al. ( 2015 ) who showed that physical isolation and social loneliness increased mortality. The CDC reported in August 2020 (Czeisler et al. ( 2020 ) that there were elevated mental health conditions brought on by the pandemic, and Newlove-Delgado et al. ( 2021 ) found that lockdown contributed to increased mental health problems among U.K. youth and that this problem was most serious among young women.
45 Awareness about the effect of lockdown on violence against women was available as early as March 2020 when the WHO released a statement: https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/emergencies/COVID-19-VAW-full-text.pdf. Binge drinking is strongly associated with stay at home orders (Weerakoon et al. ( 2021 ).)
46 See also Agrawal et al. ( 2021 ) for similar findings of increased excess deaths, using data from 43 countries and all US states. Other effects range from increased major amputations, longer wait list times, fewer organ transplants (Manara et al. ( 2020 )). Many primary care appointments switched to telephone and online appointments, which are often inferior substitutes for in-person treatments.
47 https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html
48 https://knoema.com/atlas/Canada/topics/Demographics/Age/Life-expectancy-at-age-80-years
49 The life expectancy of a 25 year old Canadian is 55.2 years, so the 6.3m lost life years is the equivalent of losing 114,130 25 year olds
50 This upper bound was not statistically significant, and Lemoine ( 2021 ) later showed that it was not robust.
51 As noted in Table 1, the Ferguson et al. model predicted that lockdowns saved 134,054 lives (266, 741-132, 687) until the end of July 2020, which was presumably to be the end of the pandemic.
52 Lally ( 2021 ) performs a cost benefit study for New Zealand and compares the cost per QALY to estimates of lost GDP and other costs of lockdown. He concludes these costs ''... to be at least 13 times the generally employed figure of $62,000 for health interventions in New Zealand; the lockdowns were therefore not justified.'
53 Whether these deaths were actually caused by Covid-19 is an important matter, but one that I have not dealt with in this paper.
54 All numbers from OurWorldInData are as of March 28, 2021. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid- stringency-index
55 Gardner, et al. ( 2020 ), claimed the following about Sweden: 'This individual-based modelling project predicts that with the current mitigation approach approximately 96,000 deaths (95% CI 52,000 to 183,000) can be expected before 1 July, 2020.' The original ICL model, Report 12 (appendix) also predicted 90,157 deaths in Sweden by the end of July, 2020. On March 28, 2021 the total number of deaths in Sweden was 13,402. Klein et al. ( 2020 ) pointed out 16 different factors for Sweden compared to other Nordic countries that explained their worse experience with the virus. The most important factor was the 'dry tinder' situation; that is, Sweden had a light flu season in the year prior to Covid-19 which meant that it had a large number of elderly people who would have normally died in the previous year. The lower excess deaths in 2019 was then made up by the higher than average excess deaths in the spring of 2020. Overall, the excess deaths for Sweden in 2020 was just 1.5% higher than average. Source: https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/excess-mortality-across-countries-in-2020/ This dry tinder effect accounted between 25''50% of the difference in death rates across the Nordic countries.
56 See John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center for lockdown information: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/state-timeline/.
57 Texas, which removed all lockdown restrictions on March 10, 2021, is another very public case. The reaction to opening up was overwhelmingly negative: the California Governor called it 'absolutely reckless,' Dr. Fauci said 'It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,' and President Joe Biden said it was 'a big mistake' and the result of 'Neanderthal thinking.' However, cases and deaths continued to fall after the removal of lockdown restrictions.
58 Simply regressing cumulative deaths per million on lockdown stringency across the 36 countries available with information from OurWorldInData, produces:
Cum.Death/M =352.66+10.64(0.80) (1.59)
where the t-statistic is in the parentheses. The small positive correlation is the wrong sign for lockdown efficacy and is not statistically significant. One should not put too much stock in such a simple cross section regression, my point is only that a simple correlation isn't found.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal - Connecticut ' OpenSecrets
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:31
$1,699,775
grand total of contributions Richard Blumenthal has reported in the current election cycle.Number of Contributions from Individuals (of $200 or more): 1,097
RankContributorTotalIndividualsPACs1Microsoft Corp$15,701$15,701$02Granite Telecom$15,000$15,000$03Crawford Group$12,800$2,800$10,0004Yale University$11,996$11,996$05Lone Pine Capital$11,200$11,200$06Centene Corp$10,018$18$10,0007Freepoint Commodities$10,000$10,000$08Harvard University$9,805$9,805$09Foster & Foster$9,550$9,550$010Oracle Corp$9,066$2,066$7,00011McGuireWoods LLP$9,000$5,500$3,50012Samsung Group$7,925$5,425$2,50013R&D Dynamics Corp$7,600$7,600$014Marriott International$6,705$6,705$015Sea Research Foundation$6,000$6,000$016News Corp$6,000$0$6,00017Pfizer Inc$5,965$1,165$4,80018Wachtell, Lipton et al $5,725$5,725$019Starwood Capital Group$5,700$5,700$020Alternative Investment Group$5,600$5,600$0*registrants, or active lobbying firm
These tables list the top donors to candidates in the 2015 - 2020 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate , rather the money came from the organizations' PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
Why (and How) We Use Donors' Employer/Occupation Information
The organizations listed as "Top Contributors" reached this list for one of two reasons: either they gave through a political action committee sponsored by the organization, or individuals connected with the organization contributed directly to the candidate.
Under federal law, all contributions over $200 must be itemized and the donor's occupation and employer must be requested and disclosed, if provided. OpenSecrets uses that employer/occupation information to identify the donor's economic interest. We do this in two ways:
First, we apply a code to the contribution, identifying the industry. Totals for industries (and larger economic sectors) can be seen in each candidate and race profile, and in the Industry Profile section of the OpenSecrets website. Second, we standardize the name of the donor's employer. If enough contributions came in from people connected with that same employer, the organization's name winds up on the Top Contributor list. Of course, it is impossible to know either the economic interest that made each individual contribution possible or the motivation for each individual giver. However, the patterns of contributions provide critical information for voters, researchers and others. That is why Congress mandated that candidates and political parties request employer information from contributors and publicly report it when the contributor provides it.
In some cases, a cluster of contributions from the same organization may indicate a concerted effort by that organization to "bundle" contributions to the candidate. In other cases'--both with private companies and with government agencies, non-profits and educational institutions'--the reason for the contributions may be completely unrelated to the organization.
Showing these clusters of contributions from people associated with particular organizations provides a valuable'--and unique'--way of understanding where a candidate is getting his or her financial support. Knowing those groups is also useful after the election, as issues come before Congress and the administration that may affect those organizations and their industries.
METHODOLOGY
The figures profiled here include money from two sources: These contributors were either the sponsors of a PAC that gave to the politician, or they were listed as an individual donor's employer. Donors who give more than $200 to any federal candidate, PAC or party committee must list their occupation and employer. Based on that information, the donor is given an economic code. These totals are conservative, as not all of the individual contributions have yet been classified by OpenSecrets.
In cases where two or more people from the same family contributed, the income-earner's occupation/employer is assigned to all non-wage earning family members. If, for instance, Henry Jones lists his employer as First National Bank, his wife Matilda lists "Homemaker" and 12-year old Tammy shows up as "Student," OpenSecrets would identify all their contributions as being related to the "First National Bank" since that's the source of the family's income.
Although individual contributions are generally categorized based on the donor's occupation/employer, in some cases individuals may be classified instead as ideological donors. A contribution to a candidate may be given an ideological code, rather than an economic code, if the contributor gives to an ideological political action committee AND the candidate has received money from PACs representing that same ideological interest.
NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2015 - 2020 election cycle and based onFederal Election Commission data released electronically on March 22, 2021. ("Help! The numbers don't add up...")
WHY DON'T THE NUMBERS ADD UP?Sometimes it's hard to make apple-to-apple comparisons across some of the pages in a candidate's profile. Here's why:
Summary numbers - specifically "Total Raised and Spent" and "PAC/Individual Split" - are based on summary reports filed by the candidates with the Federal Election Commission. All other numbers in these profiles ("Quality of Disclosure," "Geography" and "Special Interests") are derived from detailed FEC reports that itemize all contributions of $200 or more.
There is also a time lag in posting the information. While summary numbers are reported almost immediately by the FEC -- and listed quickly on OpenSecrets -- processing and analyzing the detailed records takes much longer. For that reason, summary numbers are usually higher (and more current) than the numbers based on detailed records.
HOW CURRENT ARE THESE FIGURES?The figures in these profiles are taken from databases uploaded by the FEC to the internet on the first day of every month. Those databases are only as current as the FEC has been able to compile by that date (see the note above about lag times for data entry).
OpenSecrets updates figures for "Total Raised and Spent" and for "PAC/Individual Split" a few days after the first of the month. The remaining figures - based on detailed contribution data - is updated by OpenSecrets after the 20th of every month. This gives us time to analyze the contributions and categorize them by industry and interest group.
Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit OpenSecrets. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact OpenSecrets: info[at]crp.org
Brandon Silverman, the founder and CEO of the Facebook-owned analytics tool CrowdTangle, is leaving the company; team members were reassigned several months ago (Alex Heath/The Verge)
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:25
Mediagazer presents the day's must-read media news on a single page.
The media business is in tumult: from the production side tothe distribution side, new technologies are upending the industry.Keeping up with these changes is time-consuming, as essential media coverageis scattered across numerous web sites at any given moment.
Mediagazer simplifies this task by organizing the key coverage in one place.We've combined sophisticated automated aggregation technologies withdirect editorial input from knowledgeable human editorsto present the one indispensable narrative of an industry in transition.
Texas man sentenced to 15 months in prison for spreading COVID-19 hoax on Facebook - CBS News
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:24
A man who perpetuated a COVID-19 hoax on Facebook last year has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Christopher Charles Perez was found guilty on two counts, which criminalize false information and hoaxes related to biological weapons, the Justice Department announced this week.
Authorities say that in April 2020, the 40-year-old Perez posted two false, threatening messages on Facebook, claiming he paid someone infected with COVID-19 to lick items at a grocery store in San Antonio to scare people away. A screenshot of the post was sent to Southwest Texas Fusion Center (SWTFC). SWTFC contacted the the FBI office in San Antonio.
After further investigation, it was determined Perez's threat was false '' he did not pay anyone to intentionally spread COVID-19. Perez also admitted his post was false.
"Those who would threaten to use COVID-19 as a weapon against others will be held accountable for their actions, even if the threat was a hoax," FBI San Antonio Division Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs said in a statement. "Perez's actions were knowingly designed to spread fear and panic and today's sentencing illustrates the seriousness of this crime. The FBI would like to thank our law enforcement partners for their help in this case."
In addition to his 15-month sentence, Perez was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
The investigation was conducted by FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with Weapons of Mass Destruction personnel.
During the pandemic, hoaxes like Perez's post have run rampant on many social media platforms, which have responded by ramping up their efforts to combat the spread of misinformation.
Facebook says it has deleted over 20 million false posts and shut down the accounts of 3,000 repeat offenders. The company says it has also put warning labels on 190 million questionable posts and promoted factual vaccine information.
However, a Wall Street Journal report last month described how Facebook's algorithms allegedly push divisive content, because it promotes user engagement. In a "60 Minutes" interview this week, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen said the social media platform changed its algorithm in 2018 to promote "what it calls meaningful social interactions" through "engagement-based rankings."
She said that content that gets engaged with '' such as reactions, comments, and shares '' gets wider distribution.
Haugen quit Facebook on her own accord and left with thousands of pages of internal research and communications that she shared with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She testified in front of a Senate subcommittee this week.
More Caitlin O'Kane Caitlin O'Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.
Sweden Suspends MODERNA For Those Under 30...
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:22
COPENHAGEN, Denmark '-- Swedish health authorities on Wednesday suspended the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for those ages 30 and under, saying the move was done out of precaution.
The reason for the pausing is ''signals of an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium'' '-- the double-walled sac containing the heart and the roots of the main vessels, Sweden's Public Health Agency said in a statement. ''The risk of being affected is very small.''
Anders Tegnell, Sweden's chief epidemiologist, said they ''follow the situation closely and act quickly to ensure that vaccinations against COVID-19 are always as safe as possible and at the same time provide effective protection'' against the disease.
In July, the European Medicines Agency recommended authorizing Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 17, the first time the shot has been authorized for people under 18.
Moderna's vaccine was given the green light for use in anyone 18 and over across the 27-nation European Union in January. It has also been licensed in countries including Britain, Canada and the U.S., but so far its use hasn't been extended to children. To date, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the only one approved for children under 18 in Europe and North America.
Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency takes part in a digital news conference updating on the coronavirus pandemic situation, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday March 11, 2021. APHundreds of millions of Moderna doses already have been administered to adults. In a study of more than 3,700 children ages 12 to 17, the vaccine triggered the same signs of immune protection, and no COVID-19 diagnoses arose in the vaccinated group compared with four cases among those given dummy shots.
Sore arms, headache and fatigue were the most common side effects in the young vaccine recipients, the same ones as for adults.
U.S. and European regulators caution, however, that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear linked to a rare reaction in teenagers and young adults '-- chest pain and heart inflammation.
The Swedish health authorities said that the heart symptoms ''usually go away on their own,'' but they must be assessed by a doctor. The conditions are most common among young men, in connection with, for example, viral infections such as COVID-19. In 2019, approximately 300 people under the age of 30 were treated in hospital with myocarditis.
In this file photo taken on December 24, 2020 a person unpacks a special refrigerated box of Moderna Covid-19 at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. AFP via Getty ImagesData point to an increased incidence also in connection with vaccination against COVID-19, mainly in adolescents and young adults and mainly in boys and men.
New preliminary Nordic analyzes indicate that the connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna's vaccine, especially after the second dose, the agency said.
''The increase in risk is seen within four weeks after the vaccination, mainly within the first two weeks,'' it said.
In Denmark, people under the age of 18 won't be offered the Moderna vaccine out of precaution, the Danish Health Authority said Wednesday. It said that data, collected from four Nordic countries, show that there is a suspicion of an increased risk of heart inflammation when vaccinated with Moderna shots, although the number of cases of heart inflammation remains very low.
State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Swedish Public Health Agency listens during a press conference updating on the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) situation, on October 13, 2020, in Stockholm, Sweden. TT News Agency/AFP via Getty ImaThe Swedish agency said the vaccine from Pfizer is recommended for these age groups instead. Its decision to suspend the Moderna vaccine is valid until Dec. 1.
The preliminary data from the Nordic study have been sent to the European Medicines Agency's adverse reaction committee and will now be assessed.
The study was conducted by Denmark's Statens Serum Institut '-- a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus in the country '-- the Medical Products Agency in Sweden, the National Institute of Public Health in Norway and the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Finland. The final results were expected in about a month, the Danish official said.
In this June 9, 2020 file photo, Sweden's State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden speaks during a news conference, in Stockholm, Sweden. APIn Denmark, children and young people ages 12-17 have primarily been invited to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech.
''Based on the precautionary principle, we will in future only invite children and young people to receive this vaccine, not least in view of the fact that it is for this vaccine that the largest amount of data from use exists for children and young people, especially from the USA and Israel, said Bolette Soeborg of the government health agency.
Was Spanish Flu Caused by Vaccines? - henrymakow.com
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:22
A pandemic is an efficient way to get rid of "useless eaters" without destroying property.
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 infected 500 million people, 20% of the world's population and killed over 60 million people. This is roughly three times as many people as were killed and maimed in World War One, and is comparable to WWII losses. Yet this modern plague has slipped down the memory hole. Why?
Was it a deliberate ploy by the Illuminati to finish the job WWI began?
This repost is inspired by this article: The Spanish Flu- Only the Vaccinated Died
Also, Vaccines were used and may have been a factor. And also US Vaccines Caused Spanish Flu
After the war, Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller told his CIA interrogator that the Spanish Flu was caused by a "double blow" virus. Could the first blow "which attacked the immune system" have actually been a vaccine? The Spanish Flu began at Fort Riley after a massive vaccine experiment.
Mueller: "I am not a doctor, you understand, but the 'double-blow' referred to a virus, or actually a pair of them that worked like a prize fighter. The first blow attacked the immune system and made the victim susceptible, fatally so, to the second blow which was a form of pneumonia...[Schreiber told me] a British scientist actually developed it...Now you see why such things are insanity. These things can alter themselves and what starts out as a limited thing can change into something really terrible."
Was Spanish Flu (1918) Deliberate Genocide?
(Updated from Dec 14, 2006)
By Henry Makow Ph.D.
In 1948, Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo, told his CIA Interrogator that the influenza pandemic of 1918-19, the most devastating plague in human history, was man-made.
Mueller said the flu started as an US army bacteriological warfare experiment that somehow infected US army ranks at Camp Riley KS in March 1918, and spread around the world. He says that it "got out of control" but we cannot discount the horrible possibility that the "Spanish Flu" was a deliberate elite depopulation measure. Researchers have found connections between it and the "Bird Flu."
It was called the Spanish Flu because the first human case was identified there. Understandably there was panic worldwide, as influenza was not discovered until 1933, so the mystery ailment was rather frightening.
According to Wikipedia: "In the U.S., about 28% of the population suffered, and 500,000 to 675,000 died. In Britain 200,000 died; in France more than 400,000. Entire villages perished in Alaska and southern Africa. In Australia, an estimated 10,000 people died and in the Fiji Islands, 14% of the population died during only two weeks, and in Western Samoa 22%. An estimated 17 million died in India, about 5% of India's population. In the Indian Army, almost 22% of troops who caught the disease died of it."
"Indeed, symptoms in 1918 were so unusual that initially influenza was misdiagnosed as dengue, cholera, or typhoid. One observer wrote, "One of the most striking of the complications was hemorrhage from mucous membranes, especially from the nose, stomach, and intestine. Bleeding from the ears and petechial hemorrhages in the skin also occurred. ...Another unusual feature of this pandemic was that it mostly killed young adults, with 99% of pandemic influenza deaths occurring in people under 65 and more-than-half in young adults 20 to 40 years old. This is unusual since influenza is normally most deadly to the very young (under age 2) and the very old (over age 70). "
MUELLER'S SOURCE At a 1944 Nazi bacteriological warfare conference in Berlin, General Walter Schreiber, Chief of the Medical Corps of the German Army told Mueller that he had spent two months in the US in 1927 conferring with his counterparts. They told him that the "so-called double blow virus" (i.e. Spanish Flu) was developed and used during the 1914 war.
"But," according to Mueller, left, "it got out of control and instead of killing the Germans who had surrendered by then, it turned back on you, and nearly everybody else." ("Gestapo Chief: The 1948 CIA Interrogation of Heinrich Mueller" Vol. 2 by Gregory Douglas, p. 106)
James Kronthal, the CIA Bern Station Chief asked Mueller to explain "double blow virus."
Mueller: "I am not a doctor, you understand, but the 'double-blow' referred to a virus, or actually a pair of them that worked like a prize fighter. The first blow attacked the immune system and made the victim susceptible, fatally so, to the second blow which was a form of pneumonia...[Schreiber told me] a British scientist actually developed it...Now you see why such things are insanity. These things can alter themselves and what starts out as a limited thing can change into something really terrible."
The subject of the Spanish Flu arose in the context of a discussion of typhus. The Nazis deliberately introduced typhus into Russian POW camps and, along with starvation, killed about three million men. The typhus spread to Auschwitz and other concentration camps with Russian and Polish POWS.
In the context of the Cold War, Mueller says: "If Stalin invades Europe...a little disease here and there would wipe out Stalin's hoards and leave everything intact. Besides, a small bottle of germs is so much cheaper than an atom bomb, isn't it? Why you could hold more soldiers in your hand than Stalin could possibly command and you don't have to feed them, clothes them or supply them with munitions. On the other hand, the threat of war...does wonders... for the economy." (108)
Is Mueller credible? In my opinion he is. Gregory Douglas apparently is a pseudonym for his nephew with whom he left his papers. Normally a hoax would not run to thousands of pages. The Interrogation is 800 pages. The Memoirs are 250 pages. The microfilmed Archive apparently covers 850,000 pages. Finally, the material I have read is incredibly well informed, consistent and full of plausible revelations .
(left, Flu fashion)
CONCLUSION
The Illuminati have made no secret of its desire to decrease the world population. (See Alan Stang, Population Extermination: How Will it be Done? )
It's possible that World War One was a disappointment in terms of the numbers killed. Whether the "Spanish Flu" was deliberate or not, we cannot say. But apparently the US Army has a record of experimenting with drugs/chemicals/bacteria on unwary soldiers. Did such an experiment get "out of control" at Fort Riley? Or was that its purpose in the first place?
-----
Related -
Related- Israeli Study Claims Coronavirus 8x more Lethal for Vaccinated
-----------Spanish Flu was Bioterror Attack on Humanity
See also "Hitler's Gestapo Chief Became Top Truman Advisor"
See also "The Influenza Pandemic of 1918"
Another view-- Vaccines Responsible for Swine Flu
http://educate-yourself.org/cn/spanishfluvaccineconnection09dec06.shtml
Actually 90,000 and that Each Infected Person In Turn Infects 14.
First Comment from George (Jan 28. 2020)
"The vaccines used to address virus are the real threat."
Biological weapons are limited to a very important factor: they must have very low secondary communicability. The so-called Spanish flu, which may very well have been a biological warfare weapon, failed that basic requirement. New candidates for ideal bio-warfare weapons include anthrax, hantavirus, ebola, and others.
My personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that the real weapon will not be the disease, but mandatory vaccinations. Those vaccinations will not be blind, but color-coded on a social credit score akin to that of China. Red code will be for immediate termination. Green would be for friends of the system. Yellow would be for problem people who are drains on the system due to alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic criminality, and even old age and excessive drains on the pension system.
Vaccinations designed to kill fairly quickly but not immediately, including Alzheimer-inducing special mixtures, could do the trick without excessive uproar. Blue coding would be for people who can fix your car, build houses, do electrical work, etc., and whose thoughts do not extend beyond sports and porn. Naturally they would be allowed to live unless they turned yellow, or, very unlikely, red. The cull cannot be indiscriminate. It will be pinpoint in its precision... or should I say needlepoint?
Incidentally, there were a suspicious number of deaths of microbiologists in 2001, suggesting that there may have been some plan to use biological warfare as part of the 9/11 coup, and an attempt to silence possible troublemakers in advance. Anthrax did indeed play a role initially, but faded out of the picture.
In the original 2006 article, Heinrich Mueller does say the Spanish Flu was a "double blow virus" which first weakens the immune system. This is what critics say the covid vaccines do.
Lars Vilks: Muhammad cartoonist killed in traffic collision - BBC News
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 17:26
Image source, EPA
Image caption, Lars Vilks was under police protection because of his 2007 image of the Prophet Muhammad as a dogSwedish artist Lars Vilks, who sketched the Prophet Muhammad's head on a dog's body, has died in a traffic accident.
Vilks was reported to be travelling in a civilian police vehicle which collided with a truck near the town of Markaryd in southern Sweden.
Investigators said the collision, which also killed two police bodyguards, showed no signs of foul play.
The 75-year-old artist had been living under police protection after receiving death threats over the cartoon.
The cartoon, published in 2007, offended many Muslims who regard visual representation of the Prophet as blasphemous. It came a year after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet.
Image source, Reuters
Image caption, It is currently unclear what caused the accidentAfter the accident, a large fire broke out and a number of emergency vehicles attended the scene. The driver of the truck was injured and taken to hospital, where he was questioned by investigators.
A statement from police said it was still unclear how the collision occurred, but initially there was nothing to suggest that anyone else was involved.
"This is being investigated like any other road accident. Because two policemen were involved, an investigation has been assigned to a special section of the prosecutor's office," a police spokesperson told news agency AFP, adding that there was no suspicion of foul play.
One eyewitness told the Aftonbladet newspaper that the car Vilks was thought to be in seemed to lose control and came over to his side of the motorway at high speed. The truck in front did not have time to swerve and then they collided with a loud bang at "incredible speed", he told the newspaper.
Stefan Sinteus, chief of the South Sweden regional investigation unit, told a press conference that officers were attempting to determine why the car had swerved off the road.
"We don't know yet the reason why the bodyguard car was on the wrong side of the road," he said. "But we're talking to witnesses, we have found remnants of tyres on the E4 road before the accident so we're looking into the possibility that it could have been a tyre explosion or something similar."
Media caption, Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks says he that was probably the target of the attack in the cafe in CopenhagenVilks made headlines around the world after his 2007 cartoon caused outrage, leading then Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to meet ambassadors from 22 Muslim countries in an attempt to defuse the situation.
Shortly afterwards, al-Qaeda in Iraq offered a $100,000 (£73,692) reward for his murder.
In 2015, Vilks attended a debate on free speech that was targeted in a gun attack in Copenhagen. He said he was probably the target of the attack, which killed a film director.
But police said on Monday there had been no new threats made against him recently.
Although he is most famous for his sketch of Muhammad as a dog, Vilks was an artist and activist who often worked with paint or created installations.
One of his creations was a sculpture made of driftwood in a nature reserve in southern Sweden which he erected without permission and which triggered a lengthy legal battle.
Kyrsten Sinema Bathroom Protest Was Justified
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 17:23
Image: Manuel Balce Ceneta (AP)
The effectiveness of certain kinds of protest will always be up for debate. From violent altercations to boycotts, sit-ins and marches, each method has some history of success and failure that differs among participants, observers, and the object of the protestors' scorn. So naturally, a group of activists pursuing Senator Kyrsten Sinema around the Arizona State University campus over the weekend and'--controversially, somehow'--briefly following Sinema into a public restroom to note that their family members were deported'--is bound to prompt some pearl-clutching.
On Sunday, social justice organization Living United for Change in Arizona uploaded a video of activists asking Sinema to defend her opposition to President Biden's Build Back Better Act, an ambitious package which promises additional covid-19 relief, an extension of the Child Tax Credit, the creation of millions of clean-energy jobs, the revitalization of the nation's infrastructure, universal preschool, free community college, an extension of covid-19 economic relief, and more. The Biden administration intends to pay for the multi-trillion dollar bill by making wealthy Americans and corporations pay higher taxes.
Democrats at large support the bill, but two Senate Democrats, in particular, are busy holding up any significant advancements: Conservative Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sinema of Arizona.
The two have been in lockstep, opposing any modicum of progress since Biden entered office and insisting that means testing and smaller budgets suffice in solving decades-old problems and systemic inequities. But it's Sinema's unique brand of amused aloofness that grates in a way that Manchin's inherent stubbornness does not.
It's no wonder her constituents'--who don't understand what the fuck she's doing any better than the rest of us '--are piping mad. Mad enough to pester her after she finished teaching a class at ASU.
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LUCHA's video shows a group of activists waiting outside Sinema's classroom. When she emerges, they ask if they could talk to her briefly about the importance of the Build Back Better plan.
''Actually, I'm heading out,'' she says, scurrying away from them and heading to a large bathroom with multiple stalls. A couple of members follow her inside.
''We knocked on doors for you to get you elected,'' says an activist named Blanca. ''And just how we got you elected, we can get you out of office if you don't support what you promised us.''
Cue the sounds of toilets flushing.
The Build Back Better agenda also provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a point that hit close to home for Blanca. In the video, Blanca tells Sinema that she was brought to the United States as a child, and that her parents were deported in 2010. Her grandfather recently died in Mexico, but Blanca couldn't go to her funeral due to her immigration status.
''There's millions of undocumented people just like me who share the same story or even worse... because of SB1070 and because of anti-immigrant legislation,'' Blanca said. ''We need to hold you accountable to what you told us, what you promised us that you were going to pass when we knocked on doors for you. It's not right.''
But apparently, the only thing ''not right'' was following Sinema into the bathroom.
Fox News, predictably, published a headline asserting that Sinema was being ''stalked.'' Right-wing goons Jack Posobiec responded to LUCHA's video by tagging the FBI. NBC's Senior Capitol Hill Correspondent Garret Haake tweeted , ''If you think this will be effective in moving Sinema, ask yourself when the last time was that you took unsolicited advice from a stranger in a bathroom.'' It's clear he's never been in a woman's club bathroom. And even The Nation's justice correspondent, Elie Mystal, insisted , ''There is absolutely no upside to protesting people while they're in the bathroom.''
Then there's Sinema's take: In a statement, she described the incident as ''not a legitimate protest.''
''It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings...and filming students in a restroom,'' Sinema said.
Given these reactions, one would think that an angry activist kicked open the bathroom door while Sinema was taking a massive dump. Instead, they just sort of stood around in a public space, politely but firmly demanding that Sinema to do the job they elected her to do. Even President Biden was seemingly unimpressed by all the whining, telling reporters during a Monday press conference that ''It happens to everybody... it's part of the process.''
He's right. And for all the pearl-clutching, few are providing a more effective and safe alternative to what these activists did. They told Sinema, to her face'--and through a door'--that she was failing them and why. There was no violence, no rude language, nothing. Just a few constituents following their representative into a large bathroom to air their grievances. What should they have done instead? Call her office and direct their ire through a receptionist like surely countless Americans do each day? Write her a letter she won't read? Vote her into office again and hope that, this time, she'll deign them important enough to listen to?
But maybe it's easier to act like a public bathroom is a sacred place than criticize the fact that Sinema decided to hide from her voters like a coward.
Meanwhile, publications will likely continue to busy themselves marveling at the ease in which Sinema refuses to back down from her convoluted principles . But outside of the beltway bullshit, voters who saw her as the lesser of any number of Arizona evils in the voting booth have to contend with the fact that they might as well have stayed home and let her Republican competitor win. At this juncture , it's hard to see much of a difference.
Carlos Watson resigns from NPR board | Current
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 17:06
Carlos Watson, co-founder and CEO of Ozy Media, resigned from his position on the NPR board of directors Friday.
''I have accepted his resignation on behalf of the Board,'' NPR board Chair LaFontaine Oliver said in a statement. ''Mr. Watson's resignation is effective as of today.''
Watson resigned prior to a meeting of the board's governance committee, which planned to consider his future on the board, according to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik.
Watson and his media company came under scrutiny Sunday after the New York Times reported that Ozy COO and co-founder Samir Rao impersonated a YouTube executive during a February meeting with Goldman Sachs. At the time Ozy was seeking a $40 million investment from the firm. Watson told the Times that Rao had experienced a ''mental health crisis'' and had returned to work after taking time off. The piece, by media columnist Ben Smith, also questioned Ozy Media's audience claims.
The company's board did not investigate the incident, according to the Times, but later hired a law firm to scrutinize the company's business practices, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Watson pushed back on Smith's reporting, calling it a ''hitjob'' and an ethical breach. He said Smith, a former editor-in-chief at BuzzFeed News, had been more involved in acquisition talks between Ozy and BuzzFeed than Smith had disclosed in his Times column. Watson criticized Smith for omitting audience data, such as Ozy's claim of having a ''social reach of more than 35 million.''
Follow-up reporting by CNN on Thursday revealed workplace culture issues at Ozy Media and a ''pervasive trend of staffers being worked to the point of exhaustion or worse.'' CNBC also reported that Watson ''lied'' about the investor status of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne when he appeared on the cable network two years ago.
Since publication of the Times story, one of Ozy Media's early investors surrendered its shares, and board Chair Marc Lasry resigned.
Watson joined the NPR board in 2016 and was re-elected in May to a second three-year term that was to begin in November.
Watson has hosted three PBS series. Breaking Big, half-hour documentaries produced by Ozy Media in 2018, explored how influential artists, media personalities and innovators achieved success. Third Rail With Ozy, a prime-time debate series, aired in 2017. Point Taken, a 2016 production of Boston's GBH, tested a debate-show format with late-night audiences.
This story has been updated with details about the PBS programs that Watson has hosted.
Facebook bans QAnon across its platforms
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 16:47
Facebook said Tuesday that it is banning all QAnon accounts from its platforms, a significant escalation over its previous actions and one of the broadest rules the social media giant has put in place in its history.
Facebook said the change is an update on the policy it created in August that initially only removed accounts related to the QAnon conspiracy theory that discussed violence, which resulted in the termination of 1,500 pages, groups and profiles.
A company spokesperson said the enforcement, which started Tuesday, will ''bring to parity what we've been doing on other pieces of policy with regard to militarized social movements,'' such as militia and terror groups that repeatedly call for violence.
''Starting today, we will remove Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon. We're starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks,'' Facebook wrote in a press release. ''Our Dangerous Organizations Operations team will continue to enforce this policy and proactively detect content for removal instead of relying on user reports.''
The spokesperson said the company believed it needed to limit the ''ability of QAnon and Militarized Social Movements to operate and organize on our platform.''
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that grew out of the fringes of the internet and posits that high-profile Democrats and Hollywood celebrities are members of a child-eating cabal that is being secretly taken down by President Donald Trump, and that members of this fictitious cabal will soon be marched to their execution. The conspiracy theory relies on posts from Q, an anonymous user of the extremist message board 8kun, which was formerly called 8chan, who has been wrongly predicting the roundup of prominent Democrats since October 2017.
The Facebook spokesperson said the company is ''not going after individual posts,'' but whole accounts that spread the conspiracy theory, which has been tied to acts of violence.
QAnon accounts have become centralized hubs for coordinated disinformation campaigns in the last several weeks. Before last Tuesday's debate, QAnon accounts pushed the conspiracy theory that former Vice President Joe Biden was secretly wearing an earpiece before the debate even began.
In the last week, the QAnon community has pushed the conspiracy theory that Trump is not sick with the coronavirus, but carrying out secret missions in a fictitious war that has been predicted by QAnon followers.
Generally, QAnon accounts are also spreaders of coronavirus disinformation, as many followers do not believe the virus exists or that it's as deadly as scientists say.
''We have to think about the QAnon networks as the rails upon which misinformation is driven,'' said Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. ''Every account, event and page are tracks where disinformation can be spread. so it is imperative that Facebook dismantle their infrastructure. Without Facebook, they are not rendered inert, but it will make it more difficult to quickly spread disinformation.''
''Of course, this all could have been done sooner, before Q factions aligned with militia groups and anti-vaxxers, to curtail the spread of medical misinformation and the mobilization of vigilante groups,'' Donovan said.
With the new and complete ban, Facebook faces new hurdles to identifying accounts and enforcement. Reacting to the partial ban in August, QAnon groups and followers shifted tactics to evade moderation, dropping explicit references to Q, and ''camouflaging'' QAnon content under hashtags ostensibly about protecting children.
Ben Collins covers disinformation, extremism and the internet for NBC News.
Brandy Zadrozny is a senior reporter for NBC News. She covers misinformation, extremism and the internet.
VigiAccess
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 16:39
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Exclusive: Government Secretly Orders Google To Identify Anyone Who Searched A Sexual Assault Victim's Name, Address And Telephone Number
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 15:58
There are fears the government is secretly ordering Google to provide information on innocent users who typed in certain search terms.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images The U.S. government is secretly ordering Google to provide data on anyone typing in certain search terms, an accidentally unsealed court document shows. There are fears such ''keyword warrants'' threaten to implicate innocent Web users in serious crimes and are more common than previously thought. In 2019, federal investigators in Wisconsin were hunting men they believed had participated in the trafficking and sexual abuse of a minor. She had gone missing that year but had emerged claiming to have been kidnapped and sexually assaulted, according to a search warrant reviewed by Forbes. In an attempt to chase down the perpetrators, investigators turned to Google, asking the tech giant to provide information on anyone who had searched for the victim's name, two spellings of her mother's name and her address over 16 days across the year. After being asked to provide all relevant Google accounts and IP addresses of those who made the searches, Google responded with data in mid-2020, though the court documents do not reveal how many users had their data sent to the government.
It's a rare example of a so-called keyword warrant and, with the number of search terms included, the broadest on record. (See the update below for other, potentially even broader warrants.) Before this latest case, only two keyword warrants had been made public. One revealed in 2020 asked for anyone who had searched for the address of an arson victim who was a witness in the government's racketeering case against singer R Kelly. Another, detailed in 2017, revealed that a Minnesota judge signed off on a warrant asking Google to provide information on anyone who searched a fraud victim's name from within the city of Edina, where the crime took place.
While Google deals with thousands of such orders every year, the keyword warrant is one of the more contentious. In many cases, the government will already have a specific Google account that they want information on and have proof it's linked to a crime. But search term orders are effectively fishing expeditions, hoping to ensnare possible suspects whose identities the government does not know. It's not dissimilar to so-called geofence warrants, where investigators ask Google to provide information on anyone within the location of a crime scene at a given time.
''As with all law enforcement requests, we have a rigorous process that is designed to protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement,'' a Google spokesperson said.
The latest case shows Google is continuing to comply with such controversial requests, despite concerns over their legality and the potential to implicate innocent people who happened to search for the relevant terms. From the government's perspective in Wisconsin, the scope of the warrant should have been limited enough to avoid the latter: the number of people searching for the specific names, address and phone number in the given time frame was likely to be low. But privacy experts are concerned about the precedent set by such warrants and the potential for any such order to be a breach of Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches. There are also concerns about First Amendment freedom of speech issues, given the potential to cause anxiety amongst Google users that their identities could be handed to the government because of what they searched for.
''Trawling through Google's search history database enables police to identify people merely based on what they might have been thinking about, for whatever reason, at some point in the past. This is a virtual dragnet through the public's interests, beliefs, opinions, values and friendships, akin to mind reading powered by the Google time machine,'' said Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ''This never-before-possible technique threatens First Amendment interests and will inevitably sweep up innocent people, especially if the keyword terms are not unique and the time frame not precise. To make matters worse, police are currently doing this in secret, which insulates the practice from public debate and regulation.''
The Wisconsin case was supposed to have remained secret, too. The warrant only came to light because it was accidentally unsealed by the Justice Department in September. Forbes reviewed the document before it was sealed again and is neither publishing it nor providing full details of the case to protect the identities of the victim and her family. The investigation is ongoing, two years after the crimes occurred, and the DOJ didn't comment on whether or not any charges had been filed.
Forbes was able to identify one other, previously unreported keyword warrant in the Northern District of California in December 2020, though its existence was only noted in a court docket. It also has the potential to be broad. The order, currently under seal, is titled ''Application by the United States for a Search Warrant for Google Accounts Associated with Six Search Terms and Four Search Dates.''
There's more that the government can get with such requests than simple Google account identities and IP addresses. In Wisconsin, the government was hopeful Google could also provide ''CookieIDs'' belonging to any users who made the searches. These CookieIDs ''are identifiers that are used to group together all searches conducted from a given machine, for a certain time period. Such information allows investigators to ascertain, even when the user is not logged into a Google account, whether the same individual may have conducted multiple pertinent searches,'' the government wrote.
There was another disturbing aspect to the search warrant: the government had published the kidnapping victim's name, her Facebook profile (now no longer accessible), her phone number and address, a potential breach of a minor's privacy. The government has now sealed the document, though was only alerted to the leak after Forbes emailed the Justice Department for comment. That mistake'--of revealing the identity of minor victims of sexual abuse in court documents'--has become a common one in recent years. As in the latest case, the FBI and DHS have been seen choosing pseudonyms and acronyms for victims, but then publishing their full Facebook profile link, which contains the name of the minor.
UPDATE: After publication, Jennifer Lynch, surveillance litigation director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), highlighted three other Google keyword warrants that were used in the investigation into serial Austin bombings in 2018, which resulted in the deaths of two people.
Not widely discussed at the time, the orders appear even broader than the one above, asking for IP addresses and Google account information of individuals who searched for various addresses and some terms associated with bomb making, such as ''low explosives'' and ''pipe bomb.'' Similar orders were served on Microsoft and Yahoo for their respective search engines.
As for what data the tech companies gave to investigators, that information remains under seal.
You can read the orders on Google here, here and here. The Microsoft and Yahoo orders can be found here and here.
"Pandora Papers": The Left-Wing Media are a Tool for Soros and They're Too Dumb to Notice
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 15:55
The Washington Post, the Guardian and 150 other news outlets have obtained access to 11.9 million ''confidential files'' on offshore bank accounts and companies in 200 countries, melodramatically dubbed ''the Pandora Papers'', the next in a series of illegal hacks released to damage certain companies and high-profile figures after the ''Panama Papers'' and ''Paradise Papers'', among others.
Once again, the entire operation is a carefully coordinated media campaign waged for shady purposes by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), an NGO founded and funded by George Soros and the Open Society Foundations (2017: $400,000; 2018: $1.5 million; 2019: $25,000).
ICIJ was founded by the Open Society funded Center for Public Integrity 1997 and has formally been independent since 2017. According to InfluenceWatch, ''the Center for Public Integrity has received contributions from a number of left-leaning foundation funders including the Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network Fund, Foundation to Promote Open Society, Knight Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation.''
While the ''Pandora Papers'' have so far produced little evidence of any real crimes being committed, the real question is, when will international finance authorities start examining the dubious way Soros-tied NGOs, media and ''investigative journalists'' manipulate markets with spurious allegations that rarely lead to any criminal convictions?
TRENDING: It Begins: Federal Investigators Are Issuing Warrants for Google to Turn Over Anyone Typing in Certain Search Terms
In ''Secret Empires'', corruption expert Peter Schweizer (''Clinton Cash'') documents how Soros and other Obama loyalists like Tom Steyer and Marty Nesbitt parlayed their advance knowledge of Obama policy into millions in revenue. In 2009, for example, George Soros started investing $1.1 billion in ''green'' and ''climate change'' NGOs to push for tougher policy on coal and oil drilling, while at the same time shorting the affected companies and later buying them for pennies on the dollar.
When Donald Trump was unexpectedly elected President in 2016, George Soros not only lost approx. $1 billion, he also lost his exclusive access to the White House, which he has been fighting tooth and nail ever since to regain. In the meantime, however, he may have needed an alternate method of manipulating markets and reaping profits '' conceivably, this may be how the idea of using illegal hacks and the Open Society network of ''investigative journalists'', left-wing media and ''research collectives'' was born.
A series of data dumps were thus foist upon the world as sensational news stories '' ''Swiss Leaks'', ''Lux Leaks'', the ''Panama Papers'' and ''Paradise Papers'' '' usually with very little actual criminal activity behind them. Thus, the biggest victim of the so-called ''Paradise Papers'' was Apple Computer, which stood accused of tax evasion, which it denied, stating it had paid $35 billion in taxes in the time period concerned. In July 2020, Apple Computer was completely exonerated of the spurious claims by the Court of the European Union '' not that anybody took any notice. The damage was already done.
In 2020, Soros-tied NGOs were investing massively in order to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump, perhaps raising the need for more cash in the run-up to the election. Coincidentally, on Sept. 21, 2020, ICIJ reporters Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier dropped the so-called FinCen Files, accusing Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank of shady ties to shifty characters. (Obermayer and Obermaier are also behind the plot to bring down the patriotic Austrian government 2019, and the ICIJ Pegasus Spy Software attacks on conervative governments worldwide.)
Share prices of the banks concerned tanked approx. 5% the next market day, allowing any hedge fund which happened to have any foreknowledge of the ''explosive revelations'' to reap a handy profit. Throughout 2020, investment firm Blackrock had taken a series of short positions in Deutsche Bank, for example. Little has come of the allegedly nefarious dealings of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank since then.
Now that the key German elections are over, the Soros-tied media network lost no time in hyping their next data dump, the ''Pandora Papers'', while conspicuously failing to reveal exactly what foreknowledge Soros-related investment funds had of the upcoming ''bombshell'' allegations.
The so-called ''investigative journalists'' involved in exposing the ''secrets of the global elite'' of course neglect to ever examine the offshore banking practices of Soros Fund, Quantum Fund and other OSF-tied funds all located in tax shelters like Panama, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands, or the practice of laundering money through tax-exempt NGOs which are then used to influence public policy and destroy entire companies and industries.
The number of children seeking urgent behavioral health care at Connecticut Children's has tripled since the summer, forcing families to wait hours on end for an emergency department bed - Hartford Courant
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 15:11
Connecticut Children's Medical Center is struggling to manage a surge in children showing up to its emergency department seeking urgent behavioral health care. In the past few weeks, the number of children in need of such care has tripled in comparison to what it was over the summer, forcing families in crisis to wait in hallways for hours on end before obtaining a bed for their child.
The overburdened emergency department has drawn the attention of the state Department of Public Health, which has been working with the Hartford hospital on how to transfer patients at least 16 years old to other hospitals in the state.
On Monday evening, Dr. James E. Shmerling, the president and chief executive officer of Children's, said that there were about 43 children in ''Zone C'' of the hospital's emergency department, the area for children seeking behavioral health care, including for suicidal ideation, self-harm and other mental health conditions. At one point last week, there were as many as 47 children in Zone C.
Over the summer, there were typically about 15 or 16 children in Zone C '-- a third of the current volume.
''This is our COVID surge,'' Shmerling said.
Currently, there are only 11 beds in Zone C, although the hospital has added additional areas for about a dozen other children, for a total capacity of about 20 to 25 children, Shmerling said. But over the past month, the number of children in Zone C has ranged from 30 to 50, according to hospital spokesperson Monica Buchanan.
''A lot of these children are on stretchers and there's no physical space right now, other than in the hallway,'' Shmerling said. ''That's unfortunately the status.''
After the initial wait to obtain a bed in the emergency department, children who require inpatient psychiatric care must then wait even longer for an available bed at another institution, since Children's does not have any licensed psychiatric beds. Often that wait lasts days, sometimes as long as a week.
That's what happened to a pair of Connecticut parents who realized last week that their child was self-harming and seriously contemplating suicide. They rushed to Children's '-- only to spend eight hours sitting on plastic chairs before their child was given a bed in Zone C.
In this 2019 file photo, Dr. Steven Rogers, medical director of behavioral health for Connecticut Children's Medical Center, stands outside a room in Zone C of the hospital for behavioral and mental health patients. The room is purposely stripped to ensure the safety of patients who may try to harm themselves. (STEPHEN DUNN/Special to Hartford Magazine)
Three days passed until a pediatric psychiatrist visited their child and informed the family that ''it would take 7-8 days for a bed to open in a psychiatric hospital,'' one of the parents, who asked to remain anonymous to protect their child, wrote in an email.
''Being stuck in the emergency unit of CCMC means that our child is receiving no treatment of any kind even though we came here for a potentially life-threatening situation,'' the parent said.
Children's has hired more than 100 people this year alone to work in Zone C, Shmerling said, but the larger issue is not one of staff '-- but of space. The hospital has seen a significant rise in its volume of patients seeking medical and surgical care, which means that there are no extra beds or any ''flex space'' to offset the surge in demand for behavioral health care.
''We're having a medical and surgical surge, and a behavioral health surge at the same time,'' he said. ''We can handle a medical, surgical surge, but we're at a breaking point with the behavioral health.''
The hospital plans to build 15 medical psychiatric beds, but Shmerling said that it would take 12 to 18 months before they become operational.
''It'll help us in the long run but it won't help us tonight,'' he said.
Six months ago, pediatric mental health providers, who reported that they were already severely overburdened, warned that they expected to see an even greater surge in demand for care in the fall, as children returned to school.
For many children, the profound disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic '-- from remote learning to reduced social contact '-- significantly exacerbated, or led to the emergence of, experiences of anxiety and depression. And while for some children, this fall offered a return to the familiar routines of in-person learning, for others, it brought yet another destabilizing change.
''Especially for kids who have anxiety, their preferred methods of coping is avoidance,'' Dr. Ruby Lekwauwa, a child adolescent psychiatrist at the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital, told the Courant in May. ''They've had six, seven, eight months of not having to deal with their peers, not having to deal with their teachers, and the idea of having to go back to school is a huge, huge obstacle and a source of a lot of stress for them.''
During the summer, when the number of children arriving at the Children's emergency department for behavioral health services dropped to around 15 or 16 on a given day, the rate of children showing increased risk of suicide also declined.
All children ages 10 and older who visit the emergency department at Children's for any reason undergo a suicide risk screening. Usually about 16% of children show signs of increased risk of suicide, but that rate rose steadily over the course of the pandemic, to 22% this past January and up to 25% by March. Then it began to decline, to 21% in April and May, 19% by June, 14% by July and 15% by August.
That metric is typically at its lowest point during the summer, when children are not in school. And while the hospital does not yet have data for September, that proportion will likely rise again given the high demand for behavioral health services that Children's has seen in the past month.
Attempting to reduce the volume of patients in its emergency department, Children's is working with the state Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Hospital Association to potentially transfer older patients '-- those who are 16 to 18 years old '-- to hospitals with more capacity. Each week, there are about 30 patients in that age group in the Children's emergency department, Shmerling said.
Chris Boyle, a DPH spokesperson, confirmed Monday that the agency and the CHA are ''in discussions to provide support to Connecticut Children's with the diversion of behavioral health patients ages 16 and older to hospitals with appropriate psychiatric services.'' The Department of Public Health also sent a representative to Children's over the weekend to assess the situation in the emergency department.
While other hospitals are often similarly overburdened, some have offered to take in a few of those older patients, Shmerling said, including, recently, Stamford Hospital '-- nearly 80 miles away.
''If we can just reduce the demand for the older patients that might have better alternatives, that takes the pressure off us so we can take care of the younger kids,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the parents who rushed their child to Children's last week are still spending 24 hours a day in Zone C, waiting for an inpatient psychiatric bed to open up. They know that every day that they wait further exacerbates an already traumatic situation. Their child is confined to ''an enclosed space that is not intended to serve as a hospital room, without the possibility of walking or moving around,'' according to one of the parents.
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But they have no other options.
''If we take our child home we lose the 'privilege' of getting our child the treatment that is needed because our child would lose the ability to get admitted to a psychiatric hospital,'' the parent wrote.
If you are in Connecticut and experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 211 or text ''CT'' or ''HELLO'' to 741741. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Connecticut's domestic violence hotline is 888-774-2900. Residents looking for more information on youth suicide prevention and mental health can read the CDC's COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit, and visit www.preventsuicidect.org or gizmo4mentalhealth.org.
Workers at all of Kellogg's U.S. cereal plants go on strike
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:36
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) '-- Work at all of the Kellogg Company's U.S. cereal plants came to a halt Tuesday as roughly 1,400 workers went on strike, but it wasn't immediately clear how much the supply of Frosted Flakes or any of the company's other iconic brands would be disrupted.
The strike includes plants in Omaha, Nebraska Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee.
The union and the Battle Creek-based company have been at an impasse at the bargaining table for more than a year, said Daniel Osborn, president of the local union in Omaha. The dispute involves an assortment of pay and benefit issues such as the loss premium health care, holiday and vacation pay and reduced retirement benefits
''The company continues to threaten to send additional jobs to Mexico if workers do not accept outrageous proposals that take away protections that workers have had for decades,'' said Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
The threat to move work to Mexico doesn't sit well with Osborn.
''A lot of Americans probably don't have too much issue with the Nike or Under Armor hats being made elsewhere or even our vehicles, but when they start manufacturing our food down where they are out of the FDA control and OSHA control, I have a huge problem with that,'' Osborn said.
The company insists that its offer is fair and would increase wages and benefits for its employees that it said made an average of $120,000 a year last year.
''We are disappointed by the union's decision to strike. Kellogg provides compensation and benefits for our U.S. ready to eat cereal employees that are among the industry's best,'' Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said in a statement.
Osborn said he expects the company to try to bring non-union workers into the plants at some point this week to try to resume operations and maintain the supply of its products.
The company acknowledged that it is ''implementing contingency plans'' to limit supply disruptions for consumers.
The plants have all continued to operate throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but Osborn said that for much of that time workers were putting in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to keep up production while so many people were out because of the virus.
''The level we were working at is unsustainable,'' Osborn said.
Kellogg's workers aren't the first food workers to strike during the pandemic.
Earlier this summer, more than 600 workers at a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, walked off the job to protest working conditions during the pandemic, including forced overtime. That strike ended in July when workers ratified a new contract.
Workers at Nabisco plants in five states went on strike in August to protest plans by Nabisco's parent, Mondelez International, to move some work to Mexico, among other issues, according to the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which also represents the Kellogg's workers. That strike ended last month when workers ratified a new contract.
___
Associated Press writer Dee-Ann Durbin contributed to this report from Detroit.
The entirety of Twitch has reportedly been leaked | VGC
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:26
An anonymous hacker claims to have leaked the entirety of Twitch, including its source code and user payout information.
The user posted a 125GB torrent link to 4chan on Wednesday, stating that the leak was intended to ''foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space'' because ''their community is a disgusting toxic cesspool''.
VGC can verify that the files mentioned on 4chan are publicly available to download as described by the anonymous hacker.
One anonymous company source told VGC that the leaked data is legitimate, including the source code for the Amazon-owned streaming platform.
Internally, Twitch is aware of the breach, the source said, and it's believed that the data was obtained as recently as Monday. We've requested comment from Twitch and will update this story when it replies.
The leaked Twitch data reportedly includes:
The entirety of Twitch's source code with comment history ''going back to its early beginnings''Creator payout reports from 2019Mobile, desktop and console Twitch clientsProprietary SDKs and internal AWS services used by Twitch''Every other property that Twitch owns'' including IGDB and CurseForgeAn unreleased Steam competitor, codenamed Vapor, from Amazon Game StudiosTwitch internal 'red teaming' tools (designed to improve security by having staff pretend to be hackers)Some Twitter users have started making their way through the 125GB of information that has leaked, with one claiming that the torrent also includes encrypted passwords, and recommending that users enable two-factor authentication to be safe.
If you have a Twitch account, it's recommended that you also turn on two-factor authentication, which ensures that even if your password is compromised, you still need your phone to prove your identity using either SMS or an authenticator app.
To turn on two-factor identification:
log on to Twitch, click your avatar and choose Settingsgo to Security and Privacy, then scroll down to the Security settingchoose Edit Two-Factor Authentication to see if it's already activated. If not, follow the instructions to turn it on (you'll need your phone)The torrent also reportedly includes Unity code for a game called Vapeworld, which appears to be chat software based on Amazon's unreleased Steam competitor Vapor.
Meanwhile, Vapor, the codename for an alleged in-development Steam competitor, is claimed to integrate many of Twitch's features into a bespoke game store.
Finally, the leaked documents allegedly show that popular streamers such as Shroud, Nickmercs and DrLupo have earned millions from working with the popular streaming platform.
What it doesn't include is money that streamers have earned outside of Twitter, including merchandise, YouTube revenue, sponsorships and external donations.
Despite this caveat, the list shows that 81 Twitch streamers have been paid more than $1 million by Twitch since August 2019.
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The anonymous leaker has stated that this is just the first part of the content due to be leaked, but hasn't stated what they plan to also release.
Twitch has regularly found itself under fire from creators and users who feel the site doesn't take enough action against problematic members of the Twitch community.
Last month a group of Twitch streamers called on other channels and viewers to boycott the site for 24 hours as a response to hate raids.
VGC has not downloaded the entire torrent but can confirm it does contain 125GB of dataOn the same day as the campaign was initially announced, Twitch posted a thread on Twitter explaining that it was attempting to stop hate raids but that it was not ''a simple fix''.
''No one should have to experience malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for,'' it stated. ''This is not the community we want on Twitch, and we want you to know we are working hard to make Twitch a safer place for creators.
''Hate spam attacks are the result of highly motivated bad actors, and do not have a simple fix. Your reports have helped us take action '' we've been continually updating our sitewide banned word filters to help prevent variations on hateful slurs, and removing bots when identified.
''We've been building channel-level ban evasion detection and account improvements to combat this malicious behaviour for months. However, as we work on solutions, bad actors work in parallel to find ways around them '' which is why we can't always share details.''
COVID-19: 'Hybrid immunity' may give us 'edge' over the coronavirus
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:22
Share on Pinterest New research shows that a combination of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection and the first dose of an mRNA vaccine confers exceptional immunity to new variants of the coronavirus. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty ImagesResearch suggests that people who have had COVID-19 and later receive the first dose of an mRNA vaccine develop exceptional immunity against a wide range of variants of the virus.These individuals could even have some protection against similar viruses that may jump from animals to humans to cause future pandemics.In people who have not had a natural SARS-CoV-2 infection, a third jab, or ''booster,'' may provide similarly broad protection.Almost 2 years after COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, a growing body of evidence suggests that the human immune system of some individuals '-- with the help of vaccines '-- has gained the upper hand against the virus.
Several studies have found that people who recover from the infection and later receive the first dose of an mRNA vaccine develop strong immunity against a wide range of variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Furthermore, these individuals appear to have good protection against related coronaviruses that could cause future outbreaks.
Scientists have used the term ''hybrid'' immunity to refer to the immune-strengthening effect of exposure to infection followed by vaccination. They have drawn this metaphor from genetics. In plants, for example, when the offspring of two breeds grow more strongly than either parent, this is known as ''hybrid vigor.''
In people who have never had COVID-19, a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine may also provide hybrid immunity against variants of SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses.
Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
In one of the most recent studies, scientists created a virus that contained 20 naturally occurring mutations of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which is the protein that the virus uses to break into cells.
The spike proteins were resistant to antibodies belonging to unvaccinated people who had recovered from COVID-19 and to antibodies from people who had been vaccinated but never had COVID-19.
Remarkably, however, antibodies from individuals who had recovered from COVID-19 and were subsequently vaccinated neutralized these spike proteins.
These antibodies were also highly effective against six SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, including Delta and Beta. In addition, they neutralized several viruses in the same family of coronaviruses, known as sarbecoviruses, that usually infect bats and pangolins.
Antibodies from these individuals also neutralized SARS-CoV-1, which is the coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak 20 years ago.
The paper was originally available as a preprint, but it now appears in Nature.
One of the authors, the virologist Prof. Paul Bieniasz, has conducted several studies of hybrid immunity with his colleagues at Rockefeller University in New York.
He notes that hybrid immunity develops in people who had COVID-19 early in the pandemic and are then vaccinated 6''12 months later.
''While SARS-CoV-2 infection itself is thought to be quite short-lived, it is likely that some viral proteins and possibly even some infected cells persist, perhaps even for months,'' he says.
He explains that this gives the immune system the chance to optimize and diversify its antibodies to recognize a wide range of variants. Vaccination then boosts the levels of these antibodies. He adds:
''One could reasonably predict that these individuals would be quite well-protected against most, and perhaps all, of the SARS-CoV-2 variants that we are likely to see in the foreseeable future.''
Another study, which appears in Science, found that in people who had recovered from COVID-19, a single dose of an mRNA vaccine boosted their levels of neutralizing antibodies against all variants of concern by up to 1,000-fold.
The authors conclude that their study highlights the importance of vaccinating people who have had COVID-19 in order to give them immunity to new variants.
In an accompanying comment article, the virologist Prof. Shane Crotty, Ph.D., from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, CA, writes that a type of immune cell called a memory B cell is responsible for hybrid immunity.
These cells remember past encounters with a particular viral infection and generate the same antibodies when they encounter the same infection again.
However, they also create a range of mutated versions of this antibody, which Prof. Crotty calls ''a stockpile of immunological variants.'' These anticipate future infections with different versions of the same virus.
''These diverse memory B cells, created in response to the original infection, appear to be preemptive guesses by the immune system as to what viral variants may emerge in the future,'' he writes.
People who have never had COVID-19 also benefit from this effect following vaccination, though to a lesser extent.
Another study that monitored the immunity of such individuals for 6 months after their second dose of an mRNA vaccine found that their antibody levels waned. However, their memory B cells recognized the Alpha, Beta, and Delta variants, and these cells increased in number 3''6 months after vaccination.
''The same antibody can actually detect, and presumably neutralize, the Alpha variant, the Beta variant, and, very likely, the Delta variant as well,'' says senior author Prof. E. John Wherry, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.
All the same, people who recover from COVID-19 and later have a first dose of a vaccine have stronger immunity than they would otherwise. This is because their immune system recognizes all 25 proteins that make up a SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In contrast, an mRNA vaccine only encodes a single protein '-- namely, the spike. Therefore, following vaccination, immune systems that have never encountered the virus itself only learn to recognize this protein and variants of it.
Prof. Wherry believes that in such cases, a booster dose of a vaccine will promote further evolution of these antibodies to provide stronger protection against variants.
The unpublished study, by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, is available on the preprint server BioRxiv.
''Based on all these findings, it looks like the immune system is eventually going to have the edge over this virus,'' says Prof. Bieniasz.
''And if we're lucky, SARS-CoV-2 will eventually fall into that category of viruses that gives us only a mild cold.''
What about related viruses that may jump from animals to humans to cause future pandemics, though? Can scientists develop a vaccine that protects against these as well as SARS-CoV-2?
The best approach may be to develop a vaccine that targets SARS and use it in conjunction with a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.
Researchers led by the National University of Singapore reached this conclusion after finding that people in Singapore who recovered from SARS many years ago and recently received the Pfizer mRNA vaccine develop the strongest immunity against a broad range of sarbecoviruses.
Their antibodies neutralize not only SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern but also sarbecoviruses in bats and pangolins that have the potential to infect humans.
The study features in the New England Journal of Medicine.
''These findings show the feasibility of a pan-sarbecovirus vaccine strategy,'' they write.
Their research suggests that a SARS vaccine may be a better candidate to protect against future sarbecovirus pandemics than a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.
They found that people who had recovered from SARS and later received the Pfizer vaccine had better protection against sarbecoviruses than people who had recovered from COVID-19.
''This group of recovered COVID-19 patients vaccinated with mRNA certainly have high levels of antibodies against COVID based on published work and our own data,'' co-author Prof. David Lye of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore told Medical News Today.
''[B]ut they won't be broadly neutralizing as demonstrated in our study against SARS and [viruses originating in] the rat and pangolin,'' he added.
He told MNT that he and his colleagues are urging biotech companies to accelerate their development of SARS vaccines.
For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.
Swedish Mohammed cartoonist died: Accident or assassination? - Disclose.tv
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:21
The Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks (75) died in a traffic accident. The artist had been under police protection for years because he drew the Islamic prophet Mohammed as a dog.
Vilks's car collided with a truck driving in the opposite direction. The vehicle was driving on the E4 motorway near the town of Markaryd in southern Sweden on Sunday afternoon.
According to the publisher Expressen, the artist's car slammed against the guardrail before colliding with the truck. The driver of the truck was hospitalized.
''That the person we wanted to protect and two colleagues were killed in this tragedy is incredible and very sad.''
Head of the regional policeThe Swedish Minister of Culture Amanda Lind (41) also commented on the accident on Twitter. She described the incident as ''extremely tragic'' and explained that the artist had to renounce his freedom since 2010 because he made use of his freedom of expression and developed artistically.
''It is so incredibly sad that it has to end this way,'' wrote Lind on Twitter.
Oerh¶rt tragiskt med trafikolyckan i Markaryd d¤r konstn¤ren Lars Vilks och tv¥ poliser omkommit. Lars Vilks som sedan 2010 tvingats leva i ofrihet p¥ grund av att han gjort bruk av sin yttrandefrihet och sin konstn¤rliga frihet. S¥ outs¤gligt sorgligt att det skulle sluta s¥h¤r.
'-- Amanda Lind (@amandalind_) October 3, 2021Lars Vilks has repeatedly dealt with Islamist-motivated attacksThe cartoonist was known for his portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog. A Swedish newspaper published one of his drawings for the first time in August 2007, which sparked international outrage.
The artist received death threats from Islamist extremists and various state governments intervened on the subject. The publication of the pictures was officially condemned by Iran and Pakistan.
An Iraqi group of the Al-Qaeda terror network also came forward and announced via video that they had put a bounty of $100,000 dollars on the Swede.
From then on, the doctor of art history lived under police protection and repeatedly found himself a target for attacks. In 2014, the American Colleen LaRose (58), known in the media as ''Jihad Jane'', was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison for planning a murder attempt on Vilks.
The former professor was also almost murdered on February 14, 2015, in Copenhagen when a 22-year-old Dane with Palestinian roots attacked him at an event about freedom of expression. The perpetrator injured five police officers and killed a filmmaker and a Jewish security guard before the officers shot him in front of his home.
The authorities are investigating the accident ''like any other traffic accident'' and have ruled out a crime or a terror attack for now.
What We Learned from the Facebook Whistleblower Hearing - The New York Times
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 21:52
Key Updates: Key takeaways from Facebook's whistle-blower hearing.
Whistleblower discusses how Instagram may lead teenagers to eating disorders.
Parents sound off on testimony about the harms of Facebook and Instagram.
Oct. 5, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ET By Ryan Mac
Image Senator Marsha Blackburn and Senator Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday. Credit... Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images In a virtual news conference immediately after the hearing Tuesday, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee heaped praise on their witness.
''I have rarely if ever seen or heard as credible or compelling a witness on an issue so difficult or challenging,'' Mr. Blumenthal said of Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager who testified. ''Francis Haugen wants to fix Facebook, not burn it to the ground.''
Their defense of Ms. Haugen, who filed a whistle-blower complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission claiming the social media giant withheld material information from shareholders regarding topics as varied as teen mental health and human trafficking on the platform, comes as Facebook's public relations team has sought to undermine her credibility.
''Today, a Senate Commerce subcommittee held a hearing with a former product manager at Facebook who worked for the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives '-- and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question,'' read a statement from a Facebook spokeswoman, Lena Pietsch.
Mr. Blumenthal acknowledged that Ms. Haugen may not have worked in certain areas, but supplemented that with thousands of pages of documents she copied from the company before leaving. ''She came armed,'' he said.
Ms. Blackburn commended the witness and her preparation, noting that she was ''there at the table by herself'' with no need for notes. There was ''no, 'we will get back to you,''' she said, an allusion to past congressional appearances by Facebook executives including Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, that required follow-up answers after a hearing concluded.
Mr. Blumenthal also asked Mr. Zuckerberg to appear before the Senate commerce committee if he believed there were any inaccuracies in Ms. Haugen's testimony. While he called the use of a subpoena on the billionaire technology executive ''premature,'' he noted that Mr. Zuckerberg has a ''public responsibility to answer these questions.''
''Mark Zuckerberg may be one of the richest people in the history of the world,'' Mr. Blumenthal said. ''But today Frances Haugen showed that one person can stand up to that kind of power and make a difference.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 2:10 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 2:10 p.m. ET By Mike Isaac
Image The Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. Credit... Jason Henry for The New York Times Over the past few weeks, as the public has seen more of the whistle-blower's information come to light, the reaction inside of the social network from its employees has been decidedly mixed. That was especially prevalent on Tuesday morning, when Frances Haugen, the former Facebook employee and whistle-blower, came to Capitol Hill to explain her reasons for coming forward.
Some employees were frustrated with what they viewed as a vengeful ex-employee, taking out her frustrations on the company. Some of the current Facebook employees I follow on Twitter have signaled their anger in the form of ''subtweets'' '-- passive aggressive notes that are indirect grumblings about the whistle-blower.
I have also spoken to many people inside the company's research and site integrity departments who believe that while it is difficult to undergo such intense public scrutiny, making this research public is ultimately a positive thing for Facebook. It allows the company to work through some of its problems '-- and allow for public scrutiny of those issues '-- instead of hiding the information inside internal systems.
That, it seems, was Ms. Haugen's goal. She maintained that she still believes Facebook and social media in general can be a force for good '-- if, that is, companies can make the changes necessary for it to be so.
Videotranscript
transcript
'We Can Do Better,' Facebook Whistle-Blower SaysFrances Haugen, a former product manager at the company, spent hours detailing to lawmakers how the social network harmed young people. Facebook disagreed with her testimony, but said new rules for the internet were long overdue.Yesterday, we saw Facebook get taken off the internet. I don't know why it went down, and I know that for more than five hours, Facebook wasn't used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies. It also means that millions of small businesses weren't able to reach potential customers, and countless photos of new babies weren't joyously celebrated by family and friends around the world. I believe in the potential of Facebook. We can have social media we enjoy that connects us without tearing our democracy '-- apart our democracy '-- putting our children in danger and sowing ethnic violence around the world. We can do better. I have worked as a product manager at large tech companies since 2006, including Google, Pinterest, Yelp and Facebook. My job has largely focused on algorithmic products like Google Plus Search and recommendation systems like the one that powers the Facebook news feed. Having worked on four different types of social networks, I understand how complex and nuanced these problems are. However, the choices being made inside of Facebook are disastrous for our children, for our public safety, for our privacy and for our democracy. And that is why we must demand Facebook make changes. During my time at Facebook, first working as the lead product manager for civic misinformation, and later on counter-espionage, I saw Facebook repeatedly encounter conflicts between its own profits and our safety. Facebook consistently resolves these conflicts in favor of its own profits. The result has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats and more combat. In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people. This is not simply a matter of certain social media users being angry or unstable, or about one side being radicalized against the other. It is about Facebook choosing to grow at all costs, becoming an almost trillion-dollar company by buying its profits with our safety.
Frances Haugen, a former product manager at the company, spent hours detailing to lawmakers how the social network harmed young people. Facebook disagreed with her testimony, but said new rules for the internet were long overdue. Credit Credit... T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times The hearing with Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistle-blower, covered plenty of ground '-- and in a more in-depth way than at previous congressional hearings with executives of the social network. That may be because Ms. Haugen, 37, a product manager who worked at Facebook for two years before leaving in May, appeared to speak more freely.
Here are three main takeaways from the day:
Republican and Democratic lawmakers are united on taking action to stop the harms caused to teenagers on Facebook. Citing internal research brought to light by Ms. Haugen, lawmakers discussed how Facebook knew the harm that apps such as Instagram were causing to teens. Several senators discussed bills they have proposed that would add safety provisions for young users.
At one point, Ms. Haugen suggested something even more radical: Increasing the minimum age for any person using social media to 17 years old from 13 years old.
Lawmakers have gotten smarter about tech. Lawmakers in the hearing explored the role that Facebook's algorithms play in amplifying problematic content, and the way in which the company consistently tweaks its algorithm to choose one type of content over another.
That's far more sophisticated than the kinds of questions lawmakers have previously asked about Facebook. (Remember when, a few years ago, some lawmakers didn't know how the company made money?) And while past hearings have focused on specific issues such as speech online or whether a certain individual or idea should be banned from the platforms, the discussion in Tuesday's hearing was broader and touched on many facets of the active role that Facebook plays in the pieces of content that it promotes.
That was buttressed by Ms. Haugen's candor. She used knowledge of Facebook's technology to explain how the algorithms work in layman's language, and started a nuanced discussion on what lawmakers could do going forward.
Facebook is sitting on an even larger mountain of internal research. The thousands of documents provided by Ms. Haugen to lawmakers are likely just the tip of the iceberg. In her testimony, she encouraged lawmakers to demand more documents and internal research from Facebook, stating that it was only through complete transparency that Congress could hope to understand and eventually regulate social media.
Ms. Haugen also hinted that there was more to come from her. During the hearing, she mentioned that she was speaking to a separate congressional committee on how Facebook has understaffed critical security teams that monitor whether countries were using the platform to spy on one another and run disinformation campaigns. She said the company was failing to adequately protect against threats emerging from China, Iran, Russia and other countries.
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:56 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:56 p.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
And Facebook spokeswoman Lena Pietsch responds to the hearing: ''Today, a Senate Commerce subcommittee held a hearing with a former product manager at Facebook who worked for the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives -- and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question. We don't agree with her characterization of the many issues she testified about. Despite all this, we agree on one thing; it's time to begin to create standard rules for the internet. It's been 25 years since the rules for the internet have been updated, and instead of expecting the industry to make societal decisions that belong to legislators, it is time for Congress to act.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:39 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:39 p.m. ET Kevin Roose
writes about technology, business and culture
I can't imagine Facebook is happy with how this hearing went. Ms. Haugen came across as credible and persuasive, and the lawmakers did an unusually good job sticking to the topic at hand and asking relevant questions. (There was no distracting viral moment la ''will you commit to ending finsta?'')
So, what now? Ms. Haugen has presented damning evidence that Facebook knew more about the harms it was causing than it let on publicly, but it's up to lawmakers to turn that evidence into regulations that address the specific issues she raised. It's hard to be optimistic on that front, given Congress's record on tech regulation. Still, Ms. Haugen has given them a lot to work with, and I imagine she won't be the last Facebook whistleblower to come forward. If Congress fails to regulate Facebook effectively now, it won't be because of a lack of evidence.
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:30 p.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
A correction to my earlier post: Senator Blumenthal was relaying the concerns from one of his constituent's daughters, not his own. Here's what that person told Mr. Blumenthal:
''I'm in tears right now watching your interaction with Frances Haugen. My 15-year-old daughter loved her body at 14. Was on Instagram constantly and maybe posting too much. Suddenly she started hating her body and her body dysmorphia, now anorexia, and was in deep, deep trouble before we found treatment. I fear she will never be the same.''
Image Credit... Drew Angerer/Getty Images Oct. 5, 2021, 1:29 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:29 p.m. ET By Ryan Mac
Image Friends exchanging Instagram QR codes. Credit... Jasmine Clarke for The New York Times There are some technical terms being thrown around at Tuesday's hearing with the Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen. Here's a primer on what the former Facebook product manager and the senators are discussing:
Engagement-based ranking: Facebook and other social media platforms use engagement-based ranking to determine which content they believe is most relevant to users' interests. After taking into account a post's likes, shares and comments, as well as a user's past interactions with similar content, the algorithms powering someone's Twitter feed or Facebook's news feed will place posts in front of that person. This is in contrast to a chronological ranking that simply is based on when content was posted or sent.
Meaningful social interactions (M.S.I.): In 2018, Facebook overhauled its news feed algorithm to prioritize interactions, such as comments and likes, between friends and family. The idea was to give more weight to the posts and engagements of people that Facebook thought were closest to users. In her testimony, Ms. Haugen argued that the change toward M.S.I. made Facebook an angrier social platform, and created an environment that encouraged polarization, misinformation, and shocking content.
Instagram for Kids: This is an informal name for a planned photo-sharing app for children under the age of 13. Last month, Instagram announced it was pausing the development of this product after uproar from an article in The Wall Street Journal showing that the company knew its products could harm teens' mental health.
Image One key document surfaced by Ms. Haugen showed that researchers at Facebook found that Instagram can damage teen's mental health and body image. Credit... T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times One thing appears to have united Republican and Democratic lawmakers in this hearing: the research that whistle-blower Frances Haugen brought to light about the negative impact Instagram has on teenagers.
One of the key documents surfaced by Ms. Haugen showed that Facebook researchers who studied teenagers over the past three years found that Instagram could damage their mental health and body image, especially among girls. The document stated that Instagram exacerbated body image issues for teen girls already experiencing those feelings.
During her testimony, Ms. Haugen said teens on Instagram constantly compared themselves to polished accounts where people use professional hair and makeup. Many of the accounts also used Photoshop, the software that can make photos look better, to portray an unrealistic standard of beauty, she said. Despite reporting feeling ''worse'' after viewing those accounts, teenagers often felt compelled to keep following them, she added.
In a congressional hearing last Thursday, Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, had said the documents were ''not bombshell research.'' She was widely criticized for that comment, especially after the office of Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, conducted its own research on teenagers and Instagram ahead of that hearing.
In Mr. Blumenthal's experiment, he created a ''finsta,'' or fake account, and posed as a 13-year-old girl. Then with the fake account, Mr. Blumenthal's team ''followed a few easily findable accounts associated with extreme dieting and eating disorders,'' he said at last week's hearing.
Within a day, Mr. Blumenthal said, Instagram was recommending accounts that promoted self-injury and eating disorders. ''That is the perfect storm that Instagram has fostered and created,'' he said.
''I have to be thin'' and ''eternally starved'' were the names of some accounts that Instagram promoted to Mr. Blumenthal's fake teen account, he said. All promoted extreme dieting.
Instagram said the accounts violated their rules and shouldn't have been allowed on the platform.
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:25 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:25 p.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
And on that note, the hearing is over. A powerful day for the Facebook whistleblower on Capitol Hill, and a difficult one for the Menlo Park tech giant.
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:24 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:24 p.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
An emotional moment for Senator Blumenthal. With tears in his eyes, Mr. Blumenthal recounted to the hearing the real-world impact Instagram has had on a daughter of one of his constituents, who struggled with eating disorders herself.
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:22 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:22 p.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
We're moving into hour three of Ms. Haugen's testimony and she hasn't shown any signs of flagging. Confident, poised and accurate, for my money she is one of the most impressive critics of Facebook I've seen appear on Capitol Hill.
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:18 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:18 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
Facebook's public relations account just tweeted for the first time this morning. It wanted you to know that ''creating Instagram videos just got even easier.'' Unsurprisingly, there was nothing about the hearing.
Image Some parents questioned their choices to allow their young children to have social media accounts. Others blamed the platforms for harmful content. Credit... Matthew Abbott for The New York Times The testimony on Tuesday from Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager-turned-whistle-blower, about how Facebook and Instagram can be addictive and harmful to children, set off anger among parents online.
Some parents questioned their own complicity in allowing their young children to have social media accounts. Others blamed the platforms for harmful content.
Some Twitter users wrote that they had seen firsthand how social media platforms like Instagram had led to body image issues for their children and to bullying. Many said they were not surprised by some of Ms. Haugen's revelations and had suspected that social media was bad for teenagers all along.
Others said they were rethinking allowing their children to create social media accounts and to interact with others online, often unattended, at a young age. Facebook was not concerned with the well-being of children, some argued, so the onus was on parents to protect their children.
One Twitter user, Joe Pratt, wrote that there was ''no question'' Facebook and Instagram ''cause harm to teenagers.''
''My daughter is 12, she is not on these apps. Parents seriously, don't let your kids on these apps,'' he wrote. Mr. Pratt confirmed with The New York Times that he is a parent.
No question @instagram and @Facebook cause harm to teenagers, more specifically teenage girls. My daughter is 12, she is not on these apps. Parents seriously, don't let your kids on these apps.
'-- Joe Pratt (@CoachJoePratt) October 5, 2021Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat of Connecticut who leads the subcommittee that questioned Ms. Haugen, also shared the experience of a parent who lives in his state.
''I'm in tears right now watching your interaction with Frances Haugen,'' Mr. Blumenthal said during the hearing, quoting his constituent, who had sent him a text message. ''My 15-year-old daughter loved her body at 14. Was on Instagram constantly and maybe posting too much. Suddenly she started hating her body and her body dysmorphia, now anorexia, and was in deep, deep trouble before we found treatment. I fear she will never be the same.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
Ms. Haugen said she was surprised to see a New York Times story about how the company was using its own News Feed to attempt to sway public opinion about the company. You can read that story about ''Project Amplify'' here.
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:02 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:02 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
Senator Blackburn invited Facebook to come testify under oath about its research on teens, following Facebook spokesman Andy Stone's tweet that Ms. Haugen did not have expertise in testifying on certain matters.
Image Credit... Pool photo by Drew Angerer Oct. 5, 2021, 1:01 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 1:01 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
We're a few hours in (but who's keeping track?) and Ms. Haugen just underlined her opposition to breaking up Facebook. The systems will ''continue to be dangerous even if they're broken up," she said. This is part of reason why she hasn't shared her documents with the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating the company for antitrust.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:46 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:46 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
And if there are more insiders willing to speak out, talk to us!
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:45 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:45 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
Interesting move by Mr. Blumenthal to take a moment to commend Ms. Haugen and make a plea for other whistleblowers to come forward. ''There are people working for Facebook that wish they had the opportunity and courage to come forward as you have,'' he said. Will we see more insiders speak out?
Image Credit... T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times Oct. 5, 2021, 12:44 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:44 p.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
I think what Ms. Haugen is saying about company-wide incentives is key. She said Facebook ''did the best it could'' in acting on types of harmful content that shouldn't be on the network. But she also said the entire company is organized around making sure people keep coming back to the platform. ''People will choose the more addictive option '-- engagement-based ranking,'' she said. That means bonuses, promotions and climbing inside of the organization is largely based on graphs going up and to the right '-- even if Facebook protests that isn't the case.
In effect, a change to what content performs well on Facebook means an overhaul of how its corporate structure works, from the top down. It might be an indictment of how *all* tech works, chasing growth over well-being over time.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:43 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:43 p.m. ET Sheera Frenkel
covers technology
Ms. Haugen just mentioned that she is speaking to a different Senate committee about the problems surrounding Facebook's surveillance of cyber espionage. Like the other problems she has raised, she seemed to be suggesting that they are understaffed and can't monitor what countries like Iran, China and Russia are doing on the platform. Seems like there is more to come from Ms. Haugen!
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:35 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:35 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
Over the last few weeks, Facebook has challenged the internal research unveiled by Ms. Haugen on Instagram and teen mental health. The company has said that its findings actually showed that its photo-sharing app improved teenagers' body image in some situations. Ms. Haugen just pushed back, noting that if this was the case, we would be in ''a golden age'' of teenage mental health.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:34 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:34 p.m. ET By Cecilia Kang
Image Senator John Thune of South Dakota was among the lawmakers questioning Frances Haugen on Tuesday. Credit... T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times Lawmakers have come a long way in their understanding of technology. In the hearing, members of the Senate consumer protection subcommittee homed in on how Facebook's algorithms and systems were designed to promote the most extreme content.
''Facebook exploited teens using powerful algorithms to amplify their insecurities,'' Senator Richard Blumenthal, the chairman of the subcommittee holding Tuesday's hearing, said.
Senator John Thune, a Republican of South Dakota, asked Frances Haugen, the whistle-blower testifying, to explain how ''engagement-based ranking'' works, the technology that gets users to return and engage more frequently on the platform. Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican of Tennessee, asked how Facebook handled data of under-aged users, even after their accounts were closed.
Mr. Blumenthal's office created a dummy Instagram account of a 13-year-old who expressed interest in losing weight. Instagram pushed the account to harmful content related to eating disorders.
''That's how Instagram's algorithms work, and push teens into darker and darker places,'' he said.
Lawmakers' questions and comments are starkly different from those of years past.
In April 2018, Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican of Utah who is now retired, asked Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, how Facebook made money. The chief executive quipped ''Senator, we run ads,'' a comment that became an internet meme on how Congress is woefully behind on technology and unable to oversee the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley.
Mr. Hatch's question was taken out of context, but since then, the public has lamented the vast gulf in expertise between Washington and the technology sector.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:34 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:34 p.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
I appreciate the language Ms. Haugen has been using, almost like she has been consoling an entity that has gotten in over its head. Speaking to Facebook in the abstract, she said ''you can declare moral bankruptcy, you can admit you did something wrong. And we can more forward.''
''They need to admit they did something wrong, and they need help to solve these problems.'' Powerful stuff.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:28 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:28 p.m. ET Sheera Frenkel
covers technology
In her answers, Ms. Haugen has consistently provided lawmakers with a roadmap for next steps. She has cited research they can demand from Facebook, and has suggested paths forward on regulation. If the Senators follow her guidance, this has the potential to be one of the most impactful Congressional hearings we have seen on Big Tech.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:27 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:27 p.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican from Texas, asked Ms. Haugen about political ''censorship'' on the platform, a frequent conservative complaint during Congressional hearings about social media. Ms. Haugen turned the conversation toward algorithmic ranking on the social network, and Mr. Cruz was not as aggressive as he normally is on the topic.
Image Credit... Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc., via Getty Images Oct. 5, 2021, 12:15 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:15 p.m. ET Sheera Frenkel
covers technology
The hearing has resumed. Senator John Hickenlooper opened questioning by talking about what regulation could look like.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:04 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:04 p.m. ET Sheera Frenkel
covers technology
This hearing has been the most in-depth discussion we have ever heard in Congress about social media. Even for journalists like us who follow every twist and turn of Facebook closely, this has been an illuminating discussion of how decisions made at the core of the company's products lead to problems we see across the platform.
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:04 p.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 12:04 p.m. ET Sheera Frenkel
covers technology
Also: So many zingers!
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
The hearing has been surprisingly cordial. Past hearings about social media have featured lawmakers who sometimes end up arguing with witnesses. Senators from both sides have seemed genuinely interested in what Ms. Haugen has had to share and there's been little grandstanding -- so far.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:50 a.m. ET Sheera Frenkel
covers technology
Senators have referenced the series of articles published by The Wall Street Journal starting last month, largely based on documents brought to light by Ms. Haugen, which kicked off this entire conversation. The series highlighted how Facebook made decisions that fostered hate speech and misinformation, knew that its products were harmful to teens and studied how drug cartels and human traffickers used the platform to conduct business.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:47 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:47 a.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
And now time for a short break from questioning. The senators had to leave briefly to attend a vote.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:21 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:21 a.m. ET By Sheera Frenkel
Image Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifying on Tuesday. Credit... Drew Angerer/Getty Images One standout from this hearing so far is how Frances Haugen, the whistle-blower who once worked at Facebook, is using her insider knowledge of the social network to provide new insights that few outsiders have heard before.
Ms. Haugen, citing the internal documents that she provided to lawmakers, stressed how the problems with the social network lay with Facebook's algorithms and the decisions the company made as to what people see on the platform. Ms. Haugen said that lawmakers had to demand more transparency from Facebook into its algorithms and internal metrics if they hoped to understand and regulate it.
''We can afford nothing less than full transparency,'' she said. ''As long as Facebook is operating in the shadows and hiding its research from public scrutiny, it is unaccountable.''
She also gave insight into Facebook's internal problems. Constant scandals had left the Silicon Valley company understaffed because many people had quit, she said, and it was struggling to hire enough new employees.
Ultimately, Facebook's ownership structure was also an issue, she said. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, holds a disproportionate amount of control over the company as he owns more than 55 percent of its voting shares.
''There is nobody currently holding Zuckerberg accountable but himself,'' Ms. Haugen said. ''The buck stops with Mark.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:21 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:21 a.m. ET Kevin Roose
writes about technology, business and culture
Ms. Haugen suggested a change to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that protects platforms from being held legally liable for content posted by their users. Specifically, she said she would recommend exempting platform decisions about algorithms from Section 230 protections -- so that Facebook and other apps could be sued for their choices about how to rank content in users' feeds.
Her suggestion mirrored a bill, the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, that was introduced recently by two Democratic members of Congress, which would exempt platform decisions about algorithms from Section 230's protections.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:20 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:20 a.m. ET Ryan Mac
covers tech accountability
While the subcommittee hearing was billed as one about ''protecting kids online,'' the senators have peppered Ms. Haugen with a variety of questions that have taken the discussion to topics like the Jan. 6th insurrection, the algorithms behind Facebook's ''meaningful social interactions,'' and ethnic violence in Ethiopia. Teen safety on Instagram seemed like a bipartisan issue to unite lawmakers, but it's clear there is interest in much of what Ms. Haugen revealed well beyond that.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:20 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:20 a.m. ET The New York Times
Videotranscript
transcript
A Safer Social Media 'Is Possible,' Facebook Whistle-Blower SaysFrances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, told senators that there were solutions to problems seen across social media platforms and that a safer, free-speech-respecting, more enjoyable social media was possible.Facebook wants you to believe that the problems we're talking about are unsolvable. They want you to believe in false choices. They want you to believe that you must choose between a Facebook full of divisive and extreme content or losing one of the most important values our country was founded upon: free speech. They must choose between public oversight of Facebook's choices and your personal privacy. But to be able to share fun photos of your kids with old friends, you must also be inundated with anger-driven virality. They want you to believe that this is just part of the deal. I am here today to tell you that's not true. These problems are solvable. A safer, free-speech respecting, more enjoyable social media is possible.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, told senators that there were solutions to problems seen across social media platforms and that a safer, free-speech-respecting, more enjoyable social media was possible. Credit Credit... T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, is testifying before a Senate subcommittee. Below is an excerpt from her opening statement at the hearing.
Facebook wants you to believe that the problems we're talking about are unsolvable. They want you to believe in false choices. They want you to believe that you must choose between a Facebook full of divisive and extreme content or losing one of the most important values our country was founded upon: free speech. That you must choose between public oversight of Facebook's choices and your personal privacy. That to be able to share fun photos of your kids with old friends, you must also be inundated with anger-driven virality. They want you to believe that this is just part of the deal. I am here today to tell you that's not true. These problems are solvable. A safer, free-speech-respecting, more enjoyable social media is possible.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:16 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:16 a.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
To be clear, when Ms. Haugen said ''Facebook understands'' something about its platform and decides not to act, that decision ultimately rests with Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive and chairman of the company. As she noted earlier in the hearing, Facebook's share structure gives him ultimate voting power over the company and its direction.
Image Credit... Drew Angerer/Getty Images Oct. 5, 2021, 11:11 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:11 a.m. ET By Ryan Mac
Image Senator Marsha Blackburn spoke at a Senate hearing on children's online safety and mental health last week. Credit... Patrick Semansky/Associated Press In her opening remarks at a Senate subcommittee hearing with a Facebook whistle-blower on Tuesday, Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee made a stunning allegation.
''News broke yesterday that the private data of over 1.5 billion '-- that's right, 1.5 billion '-- Facebook users is being sold on a hacking forum,'' Ms. Blackburn, the subcommittee's ranking Republican member, said. ''That's its biggest data breach to date.''
The problem is that the breach that Ms. Blackburn referenced is largely unverified, and possibly fake. The claim comes from an anonymous account on a forum that, according to Vice, obtained access to the database from a supposed company called ''X2Emails.'' The anonymous post, from Sept. 22, promised ''scraped'' data on ''more than 1.5b Database of Facebook'' consisting of users' email addresses, locations, phone numbers, and other identifying information.
Some news outlets reported on the breach as fact, but there is no proof yet of a hack. Aric Toler, a researcher with Bellingcat, an investigative journalism group, pointed out that someone claimed to have paid for the supposedly hacked information and found out that it was a scam.
''Maybe it's real, but no reason to breathlessly report it like this,'' he wrote.
This tweet is based on a two-week-old thread on RaidForums. In that same thread, someone recently posted that they paid the OP for this alleged data and was scammed.Maybe it's real, but no reason to breathlessly report it like this. https://t.co/nat3VosMqd
'-- Aric Toler (@AricToler) October 4, 2021Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, said, ''We're investigating this claim and have sent a takedown request to the forum that's advertising the alleged data.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:11 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:11 a.m. ET Kevin Roose
writes about technology, business and culture
Ms. Haugen talked about the dangers of ''engagement-based ranking,'' which is a fancy way of describing the ways that Facebook, and other social platforms, use algorithms to prioritize posts based on how many likes, shares and comments they generate. She contrasted it with iMessage, Apple's text messaging platform, which ranks messages chronologically, in order of when they arrived. And she said that in addition to boosting harmful, hyper-engaging content in the U.S., Facebook's engagement-based ranking system is ''literally fanning ethnic violence'' in places like Ethiopia.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:09 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:09 a.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
Facebook has begun to push back on Ms. Haugen's testimony -- in real time. Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, tweeted that the witness ''did not work on child safety or Instagram or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook.'' We'll see how far that goes to challenge the testimony.
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:03 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 11:03 a.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
Despite being battered by lawmakers all morning, Facebook seems unaffected. Since the hearing began, its share price has risen 2 percent to roughly $332 and continues to push upward.
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:57 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:57 a.m. ET Kevin Roose
writes about technology, business and culture
Senator Amy Klobuchar made a reference to Mr. Zuckerberg's recent sailing trip, which he documented in a video on his Facebook page. It was the third or fourth angry mention of sailing so far today. (Free communications advice to billionaires: Next time your company is under fire from regulators, maybe choose a more modest hobby.)
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:55 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:55 a.m. ET By Cecilia Kang
Image Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Amy Klobuchar with Frances Huagen on Tuesday. Credit... Pool photo by Drew Angerer Practically every lawmaker in Washington says that Facebook needs to be regulated.
But how? That's where opinions vary widely.
The last major internet law was adopted more than 30 years ago. And legislators struggle with new laws that can protect users '-- including teenagers '-- that don't also curb free expression. For decades, U.S. legislators have debated data privacy laws, which exist in Europe and several states, but have not agreed on a federal regulation.
The greatest activity is coming from antitrust enforcement, with cases to break up Facebook and Google winding through courts. President Biden's new team of antitrust enforcers, led by Lina Khan at the Federal Trade Commission, promises to hobble the dominant power of Amazon, Facebook and Google to solve broader problems of poor labor conditions, income inequality and climate change.
''I do think Congress can get something done on antitrust and tech,'' said Paul Gallant, an analyst at Cowen research. ''But I'm not seeing anything that suggests they'll act on content moderation, which people actually care a lot more about.''
The whistle-blower at the center of Tuesday's hearing, Frances Haugen, is expected to push for laws that address algorithmic amplification of harmful content. Such laws could force companies like Facebook to share with academics and the public data on how their ranking systems for content work and how hate speech spreads on the sites. One bill already proposed by Representative Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California, would give the F.T.C. more authority to regulate behavioral advertising, Facebook's core business model.
''The severity of this crisis demands that we break out of previous regulatory frames,'' Ms. Haugen said in written testimony submitted ahead of the hearing. ''A critical starting point for effective regulation is transparency: full access to data for research not directed by Facebook.''
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat of Minnesota, said she would ask how algorithms promote harmful and divisive content and if Facebook's security efforts fell far too short during the capitol riots.
''As chair of the rules committee, I am also particularly interested in hearing from her about whether she thinks Facebook did enough to warn law enforcement and the public about January 6th and whether Facebook removed election misinformation safeguards because it was costing the company financially.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:54 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:54 a.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
Part of what I'm finding so valuable in Ms. Haugen's testimony is how easily she seems to be swatting down many of Facebook's standard defenses. One particular reference to Facebook claiming it can't find underage kids on the platform because they lie about their age when they sign up was easily knocked down; Ms. Haugen said the company can do its standard analyses that it carries out on other types of audiences on the platform. It just chooses not to do so. It is rare to see this kind of inside knowledge of Facebook.
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:48 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:48 a.m. ET Kevin Roose
writes about technology, business and culture
In response to a question from Mr. Blumenthal about whether Mark Zuckerberg is responsible for Facebook's algorithms, Ms. Haugen made a subtle point about Facebook's famously data-driven culture, saying that while Mr. Zuckerberg is ultimately in control, the company often relies on testing and data about what users prefer to guide its decisions. At Facebook, she said, ''the metrics make the decision.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:41 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:41 a.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
One thing Ms. Haugen keeps noting is how she still believes in Facebook as a platform, and that it can still be used as a force for good. I don't really hear that very often from people outside of the company. It's usually a ''burn it all down'' approach to social media and decrying it is a net negative for the world. For what it's worth, folks inside of Facebook have long maintained that it does more good than it does ill in the world. (No empirical data to that effect that I've seen, though.)
Image Credit... Pool photo by Drew Angerer Oct. 5, 2021, 10:39 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:39 a.m. ET Cecilia Kang
covers technology and regulation
Ms. Haugen explained why she leaked the documents. They proved that Facebook ''has repeatedly misled the public'' about the safety of children, the accuracy of artificial intelligence systems, and Facebook's spread of divisive and extreme messages. ''I came forward because I believe that every human being deserves the dignity of the truth,'' she said.
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:36 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:36 a.m. ET Sheera Frenkel
covers technology
Ms. Haugen's experience and her work in Silicon Valley are what distinguishes her as a witness today. As she said in her opening testimony, ''Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what is happening inside.'' Ms. Haugen has come as an insider and brought thousands of internal documents to bolster her case.
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET By Erin Woo
Image Documents that a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, provided to The Wall Street Journal showed that Instagram made body-image issues worse for one in three teenage girls. Credit... Lisa Maree Williams for The New York Times Annie Zhu got an Instagram account during her freshman year of high school. At first, she curated her profile carefully, showing off different outfits and looks. She followed body positivity and body neutrality accounts. But she still sometimes compared herself with others, and ''it can make me feel bad,'' she said.
So when she recently listened to a podcast revealing how Facebook's research concluded that Instagram, which it owns, was toxic for teenage girls, she said, the findings ''didn't surprise me at all.''
''In my past experiences, it has been a huge struggle,'' Ms. Zhu, an 18-year-old Stanford University freshman, said in an interview.
Among young people, the idea that Instagram can hurt someone's self-image is widely discussed. Ms. Zhu said she and her friends talked about how social interactions on Instagram felt inauthentic. Some friends have deleted the app because they didn't think it was contributing positively to their lives, she added. She said she now used Instagram largely as a messaging system and rarely posted on it.
''If you ask a young person, it's something you deal with on a daily basis,'' said Vicki Harrison, who directs the Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing at Stanford. ''You don't need this research to tell you this.''
Ms. Harrison works with the GoodforMEdia project, a peer mentoring initiative for older teenagers and young adults to share experiences and advice on using social media. Teenagers she works with have told her that Instagram is often the hardest platform for them because of how polished users' social media profiles are.
Their experiences were echoed in Facebook's internal research. Documents that a whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, provided to The Wall Street Journal showed that Instagram made body-image issues worse for one in three teenage girls.
Facebook has responded that the research did not show a causal link and that a majority of teenage girls experiencing body-image issues reported that Instagram either made their body image better or had no impact.
Iris Tsouris, a freshman at Yale University, said Instagram had worsened her body image issues. While she follows some body positivity accounts, that kind of content doesn't show up in the algorithm-curated posts on her Instagram Explore page '-- where she instead sees posts about replacing meals with iced coffee.
Facebook's research was ''not at all'' eye-opening to her, she said.
''It perpetuates negative self-image in people, stuff that might feed into eating disorders,'' Ms. Tsouris, 18, said. ''I've definitely seen people impacted by jealousy or the fear of missing out.''
Still, some teenagers said they were glad the research was out, even if they were not sure what it would change.
''The fact that Facebook knows is important,'' said Claire Turney, 18, a freshman at the University of Virginia who attended high school with Ms. Tsouris. ''That they know that it is destructive and they continue to market it to teenage girls is a little messy in my opinion, but that's capitalism.''
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:35 a.m. ET By Sheera Frenkel
Image Senator Richard Blumenthal, center, and Senator Marsha Blackburn, left, at a hearing last week on children's online safety and mental health. Credit... Patrick Semansky/Associated Press The Senate Commerce committee has been preparing for this hearing for weeks, with the two top members huddling with their aides and Facebook policy experts to prepare their lines of questioning.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat of Connecticut who chairs the Senate commerce subcommittee on consumer protections, said in a tweet that he had been speaking with the whistle-blower testifying on Tuesday, Frances Haugen, in the lead-up to the hearing.
''From her first visit with my office, I've admired her backbone & bravery in revealing terrible truths about one of the world's most powerful, implacable corporate giants,'' Mr. Blumenthal wrote. ''Facebook's actions make clear that we cannot trust it to police itself. We must consider stronger oversight, effective protections for children, & tools for parents, among the needed reforms.''
Senator Marsha Blackburn, the top Republican on the committee, said that she has been combing over the documents provided by Ms. Haugen.
In her prepared remarks ahead of the hearing, Senator Blackburn said that Facebook was ''running scared.''
''They know that '-- in their words '-- 'young adults are less active and less engaged on Facebook' and that they are running out of teens to add to Instagram,'' she said, adding that Congress' role was to provide oversight to Facebook. ''By shining a light on Mr. Zuckerberg and company's conduct, we will help hold them accountable.''
Last week, the same committee held a hearing with Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, in which they accused the company of using the ''big tobacco'' playbook by hiding research that suggested that their products introduced hate speech, misinformation and other harms through its platform.
The committee also includes Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat of Minnesota, who recently proposed legislation that would hold Facebook accountable for Covid-19 misinformation, and Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat of Massachusetts, who last week reintroduced legislation to provide more protection to young people online.
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:33 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:33 a.m. ET Kevin Roose
writes about technology, business and culture
Senator Roger Wicker, the Republican from Mississippi, said ''the children of America are hooked'' on Facebook's apps. It's a popular talking point, but it's interesting to contrast the image of an irresistible, addictive Facebook with the internal research Ms. Haugen provided, which showed that teens were abandoning Facebook (and, to a lesser extent, Instagram) at a rate that alarmed the company's executives.
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:32 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:32 a.m. ET Mike Isaac
covers technology companies
Frances Haugen has started testifying. She says that Facebook will continue to put its ''astronomical profits before people,'' and that congressional intervention is needed. No mincing of words there.
Image Credit... Pool photo by Jabin Botsford Oct. 5, 2021, 10:17 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 10:17 a.m. ET By Ryan Mac
Image Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, with Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, have not publicly addressed a whistle-blower's disclosures. Credit... Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Hours before ''60 Minutes'' broadcast an interview on Sunday with a whistle-blower who has roiled Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, posted a video online.
The 38-second clip featured him and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, sailing. The footage, which was taken with new Facebook glasses that can record video, made no reference to the weekslong scandal that has engulfed the company after the whistle-blower leaked documents showing that the social network had studied and understood the harmful effects of its products.
Since The Wall Street Journal started publishing articles based on that leaked information last month, Mr. Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, have said nothing publicly about the revelations. Instead, Facebook's responses have featured Nick Clegg, the vice president of global affairs, and Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, among others.
That has led lawmakers and others to question: Where are Facebook's top two leaders?
Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg are deliberately avoiding public comment on the leaked documents, people with knowledge of the matter previously told The New York Times. That way, the executives can avoid negative press and appear to be above the fray, they said.
For months, Facebook has had an internal plan to separate Mr. Zuckerberg from the company's crises. Instead, his public communications and posts have been focused on product announcements and his plans for the ''metaverse,'' where people maintain some sense of continuity through all the different digital worlds they inhabit.
Ms. Sandberg, too, has focused on other topics in her public communications. She recently added a post about small businesses in the United Arab Emirates to her Facebook page.
Mr. Zuckerberg deviated from that strategy only recently.
On Monday, he posted about a worldwide outage of the social network and its apps, which lasted more than five hours. ''Sorry for the disruption today '-- I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about,'' he wrote.
Oct. 5, 2021, 9:23 a.m. ET
Oct. 5, 2021, 9:23 a.m. ET The New York Times
Videotranscript
transcript
Facebook Products 'Weaken Our Democracy,' Whistle-Blower SaysFrances Haugen, a former product manager for Facebook, testified during a Senate hearing, accusing the company of knowing its platforms are harmful and putting profits before safety.I am here today because I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy. The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed. They won't solve this crisis without your help. The severity of this crisis demands that we break out of our previous regulatory frames. Facebook wants to trick you into thinking that privacy protections or changes to Section 230 alone will be sufficient. While important, these will not get to the core of the issue, which is that no one truly understands the destructive choices made by Facebook except Facebook.
Frances Haugen, a former product manager for Facebook, testified during a Senate hearing, accusing the company of knowing its platforms are harmful and putting profits before safety. Credit Credit... Pool photo by Matt McClain Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, will appear before a Senate hearing on Tuesday to push for more regulation of Facebook. Below is an excerpt from the opening statement of her written testimony.
My name is Frances Haugen. I used to work at Facebook and joined because I think Facebook has the potential to bring out the best in us. But I am here today because I believe that Facebook's products harm children, stoke division, weaken our democracy and much more. The company's leadership knows ways to make Facebook and Instagram safer and won't make the necessary changes because they have put their immense profits before people. Congressional action is needed. They cannot solve this crisis without your help. I believe that social media has the potential to enrich our lives and our society. We can have social media we enjoy '-- one that brings out the best in humanity. The internet has enabled people around the world to receive and share information and ideas in ways never conceived of before. And while the internet has the power to connect an increasingly globalized society, without careful and responsible development, the internet can harm as much as it helps.
Anti-Gun Mayor Avoids Felony Gun Charge, Prison Thanks To Plea Deal '' Bearing Arms
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 21:41
Rochester, New York Mayor Lovely Warren will not be going to trial on charges of illegal possession of a weapon after all, despite the fact that police discovered unregistered firearms in her home and a grand jury indicted both her and her husband on felony weapons and child endangerment charges back in July.
Warren, who's repeatedly demanded more gun control laws during her time in office, palled around with Moms Demand Action' Shannon Watts, and praised the New York SAFE Act, won't be subject to the act's mandatory prison sentence for illegally possessing a firearm thanks to a sweetheart plea deal cut with local prosecutors.
Lovely Warren, the embattled Democratic mayor of Rochester, N.Y., agreed to resign on Monday as part of a plea deal on several state criminal charges, capping a swift and staggering fall for a politician once considered a rising star in the state Democratic Party.
The plea deal, in Monroe County court, resolves two separate state cases against Ms. Warren: one arising from campaign finance violations and another that included gun and child-endangerment charges that Ms. Warren and her estranged husband faced.
Ms. Warren's resignation is effective Dec. 1, just a month before she would have left office, having lost a June primary for a third term to Malik Evans, a city councilman.
Yep, you read that correctly. Despite multiple felony charges, the only consequences for her actions is having to leave office four weeks earlier than she intended.
Calli Marianetti, a spokeswoman for Sandra Doorley, the Monroe County district attorney, said that as part of a plea deal with Ms. Warren, the gun and child endangerment charges would no longer be pursued.
In a statement, Ms. Doorley said that the resolution of the charges facing Ms. Warren '-- and those facing two fellow defendants, her campaign treasurer and Rochester's finance director '-- was ''fair and just based on the nature of their crimes.''
''This is an important step in our larger efforts in promoting ethical elections in our state,'' said Ms. Doorley, a Republican.
Is it really? Because from where I'm sitting, this looks more like an anti-gun politician getting away with breaking the state's gun control laws with no consequences other than having to clean out her office a few weeks earlier than she'd planned.
Look, if the Monroe County D.A. wants to establish a formal policy that states her office will not prosecute felony gun possession cases absent a crime of violence, I'd be okay with that. But that's not what's happening here. If you're not politically connected or powerful, the odds are that if you get caught with an unregistered firearm in Rochester, you're going to be facing prison time. If you're the mayor, on the other hand, you get a slap on the wrist and a kiss on the cheek and told not to do it again.
Laws are supposed to apply equally to all, but clearly that's not the case when it comes to gun control and anti-gun politicians in New York. Many gun owners in the state have been railing against the SAFE Act since disgraced governor Andrew Cuomo (another New York politician who managed to avoid legal consequences for his misdeeds) signed the package of anti-gun legislation into law back in 2013, and I know they'd be happy to see the law repealed in its entirety. But as long as the law is on the books it should be enforced equally, and it appears that the powers that be have decided that the SAFE Act simply doesn't apply to those with the proper political pedigree.
I can't say I'm shocked by this turn of events, but I am appalled. Public officials shouldn't get a pass when it comes to New York's gun control laws, but thanks to Warren's plea deal it's now crystal clear that there are two tiers of ''justice''; one for the powerful and connected, and one for everyone else.
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Dr Augustine Fou - Independent Ad Fraud Researcher on Twitter: "overheard on IR call "when SPOT says 21% or 22% of users ''engaged'' with podcast content, what does engagement mean? "MAU who have consumed podcast content for greater than zero millisecon
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 21:34
Dr Augustine Fou - Independent Ad Fraud Researcher : overheard on IR call "when SPOT says 21% or 22% of users ''engaged'' with podcast content, what does engagement me'... https://t.co/98SrCIjti2
Sat Dec 05 22:36:16 +0000 2020
Justice Department Addresses Violent Threats Against School Officials and Teachers | OPA | Department of Justice
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 19:38
Citing an increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation's public schools, today Attorney General Merrick B. Garland directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys' Offices to meet in the next 30 days with federal, state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement leaders to discuss strategies for addressing this disturbing trend. These sessions will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response by law enforcement.
''Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values,'' wrote Attorney General Garland. ''Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.''
According to the Attorney General's memorandum, the Justice Department will launch a series of additional efforts in the coming days designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel. Those efforts are expected to include the creation of a task force, consisting of representatives from the department's Criminal Division, National Security Division, Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service and the Office of Justice Programs, to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes, and ways to assist state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement where threats of violence may not constitute federal crimes.
The Justice Department will also create specialized training and guidance for local school boards and school administrators. This training will help school board members and other potential victims understand the type of behavior that constitutes threats, how to report threatening conduct to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, and how to capture and preserve evidence of threatening conduct to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.
Threats of violence against school board members, officials, and workers in our nation's public schools can be reported by the public to the FBI's National Threat Operations Center (NTOC) via its national tip line (1-800-CALL-FBI) and online through the FBI website (http://fbi.gov/tips). To ensure that threats are communicated to the appropriate authorities, NTOC will direct credible threats to FBI field offices, for coordination with the U.S. Attorney's Office and law enforcement partners as appropriate. Reporting threats of violence through NTOC will help the federal government identify increased threats in specific jurisdictions as well as coordinated widespread efforts to intimidate educators and education workers.
Trillion-dollar platinum coin could be minted at the last minute - Axios
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 19:30
A trillion-dollar platinum coin could be minted "within hours of the Treasury Secretary's decision to do so," Philip Diehl, former director of the United States Mint, tells Axios.
Why it matters: Congressional solutions to the debt-ceiling problem could take weeks to implement, especially if the reconciliation process is used '-- and time is running out. In case of emergency, a trillion-dollar coin could be deployed to bridge any gap between the money running out and the debt ceiling being raised.
How it works: The U.S. Mint, which Diehl ran from 1994 to 2000, already produces a one-ounce Platinum Eagle and has no shortage of platinum blanks already in stock.
Producing a trillion-dollar Eagle would require only the denomination to be changed. "This could be quickly executed on the existing plaster mold of the Platinum Eagle," says Diehl. Then an automated process would transfer the new design to a plastic resin mold.Even if Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, has no intention of minting such a coin, there is no reason for her not to quietly instruct the Mint director to take those steps a day or two in advance.
At that point, a coin could be struck in minutes at the West Point mint. Even if it then needed to be physically deposited at the New York Fed, that's only a short helicopter ride away."Voila, we'd have bought ourselves the equivalent of a trillion-dollar increase in the debt limit, without any impact on inflation," says Diehl.
Ordering deadly drugs from China is easy
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 11:39
This Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, image shows a portion of a webpage offering the powerful opioid carfentanil for sale by the Shanghai Bohua Fine Chemical Co. Carfentanil is a controlled substance in the U.S., where it can be used legally to immobilize large animals like elephants. But it is not controlled in China, the top source of fentanyl-related compounds that end up in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (AP Photo)
This Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, image shows a portion of a webpage offering the powerful opioid carfentanil for sale by the Shanghai Bohua Fine Chemical Co. Carfentanil is a controlled substance in the U.S., where it can be used legally to immobilize large animals like elephants. But it is not controlled in China, the top source of fentanyl-related compounds that end up in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (AP Photo)
SHANGHAI (AP) '-- A few thousand dollars, a few minutes and a decent internet connection are all it takes to source carfentanil online from multiple Chinese vendors.
Two Associated Press reporters, working independently, documented multiple offers from the companies listed below to export carfentanil, a substance so toxic it has been researched as a chemical weapon and described as a terrorist threat.
These are not your typical drug barons. Many come off as solicitous business owners, starting emails with ''Hi, dear,'' and writing scrupulous follow-up notes to drum up sales. They sent price lists and photos of their merchandise, and promoted their wares, in English, on major business-to-business websites.
Carfentanil '-- whose median October price from the companies below was $3,700 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) '--is banned from general use in the United States, where it is suspected in hundreds of overdoses . Fentanyl, acetylfentanyl and alpha-PVP are controlled substances in both China and the U.S. Many vendors also bragged openly about their ability to circumvent customs authorities around the world.
The companies' cheery let's-do-business attitude changed when the AP followed up with questions about the legality of the sales.
The AP did not actually order any of these products, nor test to see if they were genuine.
___
BENTON PHARMACY CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl, to France, U.K., Europe generally.
The pitch: ''We have fentanyl, good quality,''a saleswoman called Caroline said in an email, adding that she'd just gotten a two kilogram order.
Later, Caroline told the AP she was ''shocked'' to hear the AP had evidence of illicit substances on offer. ''Our company has always respected China's relevant business regulations, our company has never sold the products you mentioned.''
___
WILLIAMS PHARMACY
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl. No destination specified.
The pitch: ''Contraband will be professionally packaged and parcel will be enhanced with appropriate stealth measures,'' Williams promised in an email.
Asked for comment by the AP, Williams Pharmacy responded with unpublishable invective, offering no further explanation.
___
APEX SPECIAL CHEMICAL MEDICINE TRADE CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl. No destination specified.
The company pulled its product listings from the Korean business-to-business platform EC21.com after being contacted by the AP, but another company called Okkijeyhhd Plc registered with EC21 on Oct. 23. It had the same contact email as Apex and an identical listing for carfentanil. Requests for comment were not returned.
''Carfentanil is 10000 times more potent than m.o.r.p.h.i.n.e and 5000 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade (100% pure) h.e.r.o.i.n according to the illicit drug conversion table that issued by China Food and Drug Administration,'' the company said in its product listings.
At least five other vendors, most of which registered on EC21 in October, shared a non-functional phone number with Okkijeyhhd: Ujehhdfb Plc, Theydhhhne Plc, Okegdtsgdbfn Plc, Jhdncbvn Intl and Lkdheeed Plc, which advertised a cornucopia of misspelled drugs for sale.
___
SHIYAN FURUIYANG BIOLOGICAL TECHNOLOGY CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl, acetylfentanyl, alpha-PVP to U.S.
The pitch: Clients ''say fentanyl is the most fantastic,'' a saleswoman called Susie said by email.
Contacted later by the AP on Skype, another saleswoman, Cathy, said, ''You did such a great job to get evidence, you can just report it.'' Then she quickly changed her profile from a photo of a studious-looking Chinese woman holding a child to a dish of snow-white powder.
___
JILIN TELY IMPORT AND EXPORT CO.
For sale: Carfentanil to Canada, Australia.
After being named in AP's Oct. 7 article, Jilin's website vanished and the company said it had never actually produced carfentanil.
___
HEBEI YAQIANG BIOLOGICAL TECHNOLOGY CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, acetylfentanyl, fentanyl to U.S, Belgium, France.
The pitch: ''We usually ship with hiding in other products and all reached,'' the company said by email.
Contacted by the AP on a Skype chat, a woman named Lisa insisted Hebei Yaqiang only sells legal products: ''if u want to buy. we can provide but if you have other purpose. am sorry. i am busy.''
___
YUNTU CHEMICAL CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, acetylfentanyl to U.S., Canada.
A Yuntu representative hung up the phone when contacted by the AP and did not reply to emails seeking comment. Soon after, the company's website vanished. Reached later on Skype, a company representative who called herself Mary declined to offer carfentanil again.
___
IAMCOR BIOTECH CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl to U.S., Canada
The pitch: ''Dear, we use our special way to send you. We ensure you can get it,'' a woman who identified herself as Megan said in an email
Told later by AP that it had evidence of offers for illicit sales, she replied, ''Really? How come I don't know about this?'' Then she stopped answering questions.
___
HUNAN PROVINCE WAYNICK BIOLOGICAL TECHNOLOGY CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, acetylfentanyl, fentanyl to U.S.
Contacted by the AP, Waynick said it listed these products to ''attract clients'' but doesn't actually sell them. ''The real products are substitutes,'' the company said in an email. ''The substitutes are all legal products in China. You can do any investigation.''
___
SHANGHAI KAIWODUN BIOCHEMICAL CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, acetylfentanyl to U.S.
The company did not respond to the AP's requests for comment.
___
SHANXI JINWEI TECHNOLOGY CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl, acetylfentanyl, alpha-PVP, to U.S., Belgium, Germany, Europe generally.
The company did not respond to requests for comment from the AP.
___
SHANGHAI GOLDEN TIME BIOLOGICAL TECHNOLOGY CO.
For sale: Carfentanil to U.K.
The company didn't respond to AP requests for comment.
___
HEBEI MORUI CHEMICAL CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl, acetylfentanyl, a-PVP to U.S., Canada, France, Belgium.
Morui denied offering the products.
___
SHANGHAI HONG TAI CHEMICAL CO.
For sale: Carfentanil, fentanyl to U.S., France, Europe generally.
The company denied making the offers. ''China does not produce illegal products,'' a representative said by email.
___
SHANGHAI BOHUA FINE CHEMICAL CO.
For sale: Carfentanil to Germany, France, U.K.
Asked by the AP about offers to sell carfentanil, the company replied in an email, ''I do not know what you're talking about.''
___
Satter reported from Paris. Associated Press researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.
___
Follow Kinetz on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ekinetz and Satter at http://twitter.com/razhael
"It's Going To Be Painful" - Scandal-Hit Ozy Media Reverses Decision To Shut Down | ZeroHedge
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 04:35
Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,
Ozy Media, the embattled digital media company that last week said it would be shutting down in the wake of a scandal, is now reversing course and will continue to operate, according to its chief, who called the prior announcement premature.
Carlos Watson, CEO of Ozy, announced the dramatic pivot in an Oct. 4 interview on CNBC's Squawk Box, during which he acknowledged scope for improvement and hoped the company would emerge revitalized from recent controversy.
''As embarrassing as it may sometimes feel to do, I realize that we were premature,'' Watson said of last week's decision to shut down, adding that ''good conversations'' over the weekend with investors and advertisers prompted the turnabout.
The company last week announced it would suspend operations and move ahead with an orderly wind-down after damning media coverage of deceitful practices, including overstating audience numbers and an Ozy staffer posing as a YouTube executive.
The company's board of directors said in an Oct. 1 statement that, ''with the heaviest of hearts that we must announce today that we are closing Ozy's doors.''
Watson, in an Oct. 1 letter to company investors that was cited by Axios, touched on the fallout from the controversy.
''As you know, Ozy has been materially and adversely affected by recent events. After considering all alternatives and input from many of you, we have determined that ceasing operations and beginning the process of winding down the company with an eye toward preservation of value is in the best interest of all stakeholders.''
Those announcements came on the heels of an expose by The New York Times, which claimed that Ozy co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Samir Rao pretended to be a YouTube executive on a conference call with Goldman several months ago as the investment bank was closing in on a $40 million investment in the media company.
After the misrepresentation came to light, Watson apologized, attributing the incident to a mental health crisis.
Watson co-founded Ozy in 2013 with Rao. Both are Harvard graduates and both at one point worked for Goldman Sachs.
Ozy produces left-leaning podcasts, television series, and events. In his Monday interview on CNBC, Watson said, ''We have lots of things we have to do to improve, but I very genuinely feel like we have a meaningful, transformational voice.''
Company officials didn't immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
As Axios reports, it's unlikely that Watson will get many third-party networks to distribute the shows, given reporting that suggested Watson lied to people he booked for interviews about where his shows were being distributed.
"We'll be creative, we have to be," Watson said when asked about this dichotomy.
"I think we have to have conversations. I think we have to regain trust. It is going to be painful for me."
"Some people will slam the door in my face."
He also said the company plans to launch a new podcast by the end of this quarter, but declined to offer details.
Francis Collins to step down as NIH director
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 04:22
NIH Director Francis Collins. | Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins plans to announce his resignation on Tuesday after nearly three decades at the agency, including 12 years at the helm, three sources tell POLITICO.
The 71-year-old physician-geneticist led the agency under three consecutive presidents '-- making him the first presidentially appointed NIH director to serve in more than one administration and the longest-serving NIH director.
AdvertisementHis departure had been in the works for some time, one person familiar said. Officials from NIH, the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Collins has been on the front lines urging Americans to wear masks and get vaccinated. While Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, became the most visible advocate for the administration's vaccination efforts, the Biden administration has increasingly put Collins on network shows to urge vaccinations and defend the booster strategy.
''This is the way it ought to be," Collins said about the Food and Drug Administration's decision late last month to limit boosters to certain vulnerable populations for now, despite the Biden administration's pledge that boosters would launch broadly by Sept. 20. "Science sort of playing out in a very transparent way, looking at the data coming from multiple places, our country, other countries, and trying to make the best decision for right now," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, hailed Collins' contributions to biomedical science, writing on Twitter, "I am saddened to see him stepping down, want to express the deepest appreciation for decades of leadership."
AdvertisementRaised on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley, Collins became fascinated by the emerging field of genetics after undergraduate studies in chemistry at the University of Virginia and graduate work at Yale. He enrolled in the medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then went on to posts at Yale and the University of Michigan, eventually identifying genes for cystic fibrosis and other disorders.
Collins has spoken at length about his conversion from atheism to Christianity and penned a book in 2006 called ''The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.'' A year later, he founded The BioLogos Foundation, a group that aims to reconcile religion and science and argues that God created the world through evolution.
In 2009, he left the organization after President Barack Obama nominated him to lead the NIH and was sworn in after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
During his tenure, Collins had drawn the ire of anti-abortion groups that opposed his support of using fetal tissue in medical research, but emerged politically unscathed. An immensely popular figure on Capitol Hill, Collins has also made efforts to reach out to the religious community throughout his career, which continued during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Advertisement''For somebody who's a believer, this is what you could call an answer to prayer,'' he told Religion News Service last month, in reference to the coronavirus vaccine. ''If we've all been praying to God to somehow deliver us from this terrible pandemic, and what happens is these vaccines get developed that are safe and effective, well, why wouldn't you want to say, 'Thank you, God' and roll up your sleeve?''
In 2017, then-President Donald Trump asked Collins to stay on as NIH director, as did President Joe Biden after taking the White House in 2020.
Before that, he directed the National Human Genome Research Institute and oversaw the international project to map the human genome, which was completed in 2003. The work led President George W. Bush to award Collins with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
''This monumental advance in scientific knowledge has begun to unlock some of the great mysteries of human life and has created the potential to develop treatments and cures for some of the most serious diseases,'' the White House said at the time.
Adam Cancryn contributed to this report.
ERCOT Mothballed Resources Return to Year-round Ops
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 02:10
Three generating units with 226 MW of capacity, previously mothballed on a seasonal basis, are returning to year-round service in the ERCOT market.
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IATSE Vote Results in Authorization to Call a Strike - dot.LA
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 18:54
Harrison WeberDo you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely by downloading Signal on a non-work device: +1 917 434 4978.
Harrison is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. They previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find them on Twitter: @harrisonweber. Send tips on L.A. deals to harrison@dot.la. Pronouns: they/them.
Ratcheting up the stakes in an already tense labor battle, members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) have voted to authorize union President Matthew Loeb to call a strike, the group announced Monday.
The decision could lead to the most significant industry walkout since World War II, should negotiations with a powerful trade group remain deadlocked.
53,411 behind-the-scenes workers in entertainment participated in the vote, and greater than 98% of those voters supported the strike authorization, the union announced. "The members have spoken loud and clear," said Loeb in a press release. "This vote is about the quality of life as well as the health and safety of those who work in the film and television industry."
"Every single local that voted far exceeded the 75% threshold for strike authorization," John Lindley, president of the International Cinematographers Guild said on Monday. "We are now scheduled to return to the table tomorrow, October 5th, to hear from the employers."
The vote will be used as a bargaining chip in ongoing talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Disney, Apple, AT&T and other giants in entertainment and tech.
It comes as the rise of streaming has ramped up the tech industry's influence in Hollywood, ensuring that Amazon and Netflix have a seat at the bargaining table alongside major studios such as Sony Pictures and Paramount.
IATSE consists of camera technicians, editors, makeup artists, location managers and a host of other workers in entertainment. In negotiations for a new contract '-- also known as a basic agreement '-- IATSE representatives have pressed for "meals and breaks during the day; rest periods between shifts and on the weekends; a living wage for the lowest-paid people; and some appropriate adjustments to new media [streaming] based on its maturity," Loeb said recently.
But talks have stalled for weeks on a number of issues, from raising the wage floor to funding IATSE members' pensions through a greater cut of streaming profits.
While IATSE has yet to declare a strike, the AMPTP warned last month that a walkout would "have a devastating impact on the industry and inevitably will result in thousands of IATSE members losing their income, failing to qualify for health insurance benefits, jeopardizing funding for the pension plan and disrupting production."
US-abandoned Bagram base reportedly operational for first time in two months, as rumors swirl of Chinese military presence '-- RT World News
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:48
Bagram Airfield, once the linchpin of the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, is said to be powered and serving planes again. A foreign force is rumored to be involved, with fingers pointed at China, which denied eyeing the base.
A photo shared on social media purportedly shows the base on Sunday night with its floodlights on. There are claims that several planes have landed at and taken off from the airfield in recent hours. If confirmed, it would be the first time Bagram had served aircraft in almost 50 days, marking a significant development.
The base was abandoned by US troops in early July as the Pentagon prepared for the withdrawal of most of its troops from Afghanistan. It had been intended that the Afghan national government would maintain it, but the regime's subsequent collapse in August put Bagram in the hands of the Taliban.
There are doubts that the militant movement has the expertise to fully run the base or even has the need for it, so it's presumed that the resumption of air traffic signifies a foreign power is involved. Fingers were immediately pointed at China as Bagram's likely new operator, despite Beijing previously having stated it had no intention of deploying troops to Afghanistan.
Also on rt.com 'To this day I can't sleep': Moazzam Begg, tortured in Bagram and Gitmo, talks to RT after 20-year US war in Afghanistan ends In early September, an Indian newspaper claimed Taliban leaders were in talks with Pakistan and China over the future of Afghanistan's air bases, and that Bagram had been slated to be handed over to Chinese operators. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin dismissed the report as ''purely fake news.''
On Sunday, the Taliban denied there was any Chinese military presence at Bagram. Some reports speculated that the base might have been lit overnight as a security precaution due to some fighting that was going on in the area.
The decision to abandon Bagram Airfield is a thorny issue for the Biden administration. Republican critics say the US military should have kept it and used it for the evacuation of troops and allies from Afghanistan, rather than relying on Kabul International Airport.
Also on rt.com WATCH: Senator rips top diplomat after he admits he doesn't know if US drone strike killed Afghan aid worker or ISIS-K terrorist Senior Pentagon officials rejected the reasoning, saying that securing Bagram and the 25-mile (40km) stretch of land separating it from the Afghan capital would have required significantly more troops than the limit of 650 it was aiming at. This would have violated the withdrawal agreement the US struck with the Taliban under President Donald Trump, making the soldiers ready targets for militant attacks.
A Chinese takeover of the base, which became a symbol of the two-decade US military occupation of Afghanistan, had been predicted by Nikki Haley, the Trump-era US ambassador to the UN. Speaking to Fox News, she claimed Beijing would ''make a move for Bagram'' as part of a wider strategy to ''use Pakistan to get stronger to go against India.''
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Israel tightens COVID 'green pass' rules, sparking protest
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:44
JERUSALEM (AP) '-- Israel restricted its COVID Green Pass on Sunday to allow only those who have received a vaccine booster dose or recently recuperated from coronavirus to enter indoor venues. The new criteria mean that nearly 2 million people will lose their vaccination passport in the coming days.
Israel is the first country to make a booster shot a requirement for its digital vaccination passport. The move is widely seen as a step to encourage booster vaccination among those who have yet to receive a third dose.
Under the new guidelines, people must have received a booster shot to be eligible for a green pass. Those who have received two vaccine doses, and those who have recovered from coronavirus, will be issued passes valid for six months after the date of their vaccination or recovery.
The government's advisory cabinet on coronavirus was set to convene Sunday to discuss existing restrictions and guidelines.
Technical problems hamstrung the Health Ministry's rollout of the updated green pass as millions of Israelis tried to reissue digital documentation that would allow entry to shops, restaurants, cultural events, gyms and other indoor venues.
Scores of Israelis staged demonstrations around the country in protest of the green pass system, with convoys of cars clogging morning commutes as many Israelis returned to work Sunday after September's Jewish High Holidays. Opponents of the system said it is a form of forced vaccination.
''We are totally against any forced vaccinations, or any forced medications, and we are totally against doing anything to our children and grandchildren that we don't agree with,'' said Sarah Felt, who protested along the main highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Israel raced out of the gate early this year to vaccinate most of its adult population after striking a deal with Pfizer to trade medical data in exchange for a steady supply of doses.
This summer Israel launched an aggressive booster campaign to shore up waning vaccine efficacy in its population. Over 60% of Israel's population has received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and nearly 3.5 million of Israel's 9.3 million citizens have received a booster dose of the vaccine. But at least 2 million more have received just two doses, and many will lose the privileges bestowed by the green pass.
Recent months have seen a surge in new cases of coronavirus in Israel. As of Sunday, over 70% of the 588 serious coronavirus cases in Israeli hospitals were unvaccinated individuals, according to Health Ministry data.
The ministry issued a statement Sunday morning that because of heavy traffic on its green pass website and app, previously existing certificates would be valid in the coming few days.
Jessica Wilson Obituary (1983 - 2021) - Seattle, WA - The Oregonian
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:41
Jessica Berg Wilson
Oct. 29, 1983 - Sept. 7, 2021
Jessica Berg Wilson, 37, of Seattle, Wash., passed away unexpectedly Sept. 7, 2021 from COVID-19 Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) surrounded by her loving family. Jessica was an exceptionally healthy and vibrant 37-year-old young mother with no underlying health conditions.
Jessica was born Oct. 29, 1983 to Arthur and Gwen Berg in Portland, Ore. She attended Riverdale Grade School, graduated from Jesuit High School in 2002, and earned a B.A. from Oregon State University in 2007. After college, she had a successful professional career in human resource management and devoted her free time to numerous volunteer causes. She met Tom, her loving husband, in 2009 and they wed in 2012, going on to have two daughters, Bridget (5) and Clara (3).
Jessica fully embraced motherhood, sharing her passion for life with her daughters. Jessica's motherly commitment was intense, with unwavering determination to nurture her children to be confident, humble, responsible, and to have concern and compassion for others with high morals built on Faith.
Jessica's greatest passion was to be the best mother possible for Bridget and Clara. Nothing would stand in her way to be present in their lives. During the last weeks of her life, however, the world turned dark with heavy-handed vaccine mandates. Local and state governments were determined to strip away her right to consult her wisdom and enjoy her freedom. She had been vehemently opposed to taking the vaccine, knowing she was in good health and of a young age and thus not at risk for serious illness. In her mind, the known and unknown risks of the unproven vaccine were more of a threat. But, slowly, day by day, her freedom to choose was stripped away. Her passion to be actively involved in her children's education'--which included being a Room Mom'--was, once again, blocked by government mandate. Ultimately, those who closed doors and separated mothers from their children prevailed. It cost Jessica her life. It cost her children the loving embrace of their caring mother. And it cost her husband the sacred love of his devoted wife. It cost God's Kingdom on earth a very special soul who was just making her love felt in the hearts of so many.
Along with being a superb mother, Jessica was a devoted and supportive wife and created a beautiful, serene home for her family to thrive in while establishing her family in the wonderful Laurelhurst and Assumption-St. Bridget communities of Seattle. Jessica and Tom were a remarkable team who prioritized family values and morals, and their Catholic Faith.
She was known best for her grace, wisdom, wit, sense of humor, conscientiousness, her tireless work ethic, her pride in her family, and her loving nature. Throughout her life she loved to travel and made many trips to Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America, the Oregon Coast and Black Butte Ranch yet she always valued who she was with more than where she was. In personality Jessica was elegant and composed. Drama in attitude was not her way. She was a rock and guidepost, armed with natural problem-solving skills and intuitiveness for those who were fortunate to have her in their lives. During the inevitable crises in her life and of those she knew she would say "let's figure it out" thereby giving confidence and direction in uncertain times. Loyal and protective, she was the best of all confidants while offering the lightness of her intrinsic humor.
Within her altruistic regard for others, she held a special concern for the welfare of mothers and children in need. With this in mind, in lieu of flowers the family requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider donating to a charitable organization that was near and dear to Jessica's heart. Sacred Heart Shelter for Families donation link:
https://tinyurl.com/jessbwLeft to cherish her memory are husband, Tom Wilson; her daughters, Bridget and Clara; her parents, Arthur Berg and Gwen Berg; her sister, Elizabeth Berg; and brother, John Berg; many extended family members, and a large friend group and community.
Services have been held.
Guestbook at:
harveyfuneral.comPlease sign the online guest book at
www.oregonlive.com/obitsPublished by The Oregonian from Oct. 1 to Oct. 3, 2021.
An Armor Conspired: the Global Shipping Freeze '' AIER
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:36
Despite numerous personal shortcomings, Jim Morrison of The Doors regularly evinced considerable writing talents. In the poem-song Horse Latitudes, he describes the conditions under which stalled galleons would, drifting listlessly at certain latitudes, jettison cargo so as to make their craft more susceptible to the slightest winds. The lyrics begin as follows:
When the still sea conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted currents
Breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
Cargo vessels no longer raise sails or require wind to fill them, but doldrum-like conditions are rapidly manifesting near ports all over the world. Last week,
[s]ixty-one vessels were anchored offshore on Thursday [September 23rd] waiting to unload cargo as the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach'...In addition to the anchored ships, 29 were adrift up to 20 miles offshore, meaning they were so far from the coast that their anchors could not reach the ocean floor.
And in the east on Sunday, September 26th,
[The] Port of New York and New Jersey appears to be facing similar issues as West coast ports'...Around 24 cargo ships and oil tankers [were] stuck waiting to dock off the coast of Long Island, New York'...As of 9pm local time Saturday, the ships appeared to have been stuck in place for hours.
Explanations for the increasing delays include slow loading/unloading times, rising costs of shipping, and capital shortages. All of those explanations are correct but incomplete and insufficiently descriptive. To uncover the root causes and trace their evolution, we must go back to the very beginning.
Nominal RigiditiesFirst, the foundations. While bottlenecks are occurring everywhere, at present US ports are disproportionately affected. Docking locations along US coasts are among the slowest in the world: not because of size or technological capacity but collective bargaining hindrances. As Dominic Pino recently wrote,
Why are our ports so far behind? Not because we don't spend enough on infrastructure, as the Biden administration would have you believe. The federal government could spend a quadrillion dollars on ports, and it wouldn't change the contracts with the longshoreman unions that prevent ports from operating 24/7 (as they do in Asia) and send labor costs through the roof. (Lincicome finds that union dockworkers on the West Coast make an average of $171,000 a year plus free healthcare.) The unions also fight automation at American ports today, ''just as they fought containerized shipping and computers decades before that.''
Before the public hysterics, lockdowns, and stay-at-home orders, and even before the first offloading was delayed, nominal rigidities had ossified US port operations and made them particularly vulnerable to even the slightest kinks in supply chains.
Where It BeganAs is well documented by now, the effects of nonpharmaceutical interventions sent measures of economic activity plummeting throughout the second quarter of 2020. Unemployment skyrocketed to levels not seen since the Great Depression. The US government countered with stimulus payments via the CARES Act (March 2020), the Consolidated Appropriations Act (December 2020), and the American Rescue Plan (March 2021). Although state governors adopted independent pandemic postures, the spectrum of stringency ran a gambit from less to more binding as exemplified by Florida and North Dakota versus Hawaii and California.
The sudden strangulation of in-person commercial activity, coupled with weeks to months of veritable isolation at home, with trillions of dollars being mailed out led to a consumption binge. This was both well documented and empirically verifiable. Where in normal circumstances modern US consumers tend to purchase services more than goods, the circumstances arising of isolation at home for prolonged periods led to a decisive shift toward purchasing goods: electronics, furniture, exercise equipment, home improvement items, and so on.
US GDP (quarterly, chained 2012 dollars, 2019 '' present)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP) It is in the sudden, stimulus-fueled rise in demand falling upon decreasing supply where, in summer and fall of 2020, strains began to wend their way through shipping processes.
Intermodal TransportIntermodal transport has its roots in the growth of trade in the 19th century, but like so much of what makes the modern world ''tick,'' it goes mostly unobserved and almost entirely unappreciated. The standardization of shipping containers in such a way that they can move from trucks to ships to aircraft, barges, and trains with a minimum of effort is a feat of technology and international coordination.
US Personal Consumption Expenditures, Chain Type Price Index (2016 '' present)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP) Throughout the fall of 2020 and winter of 2021, the US economy was expanding out of the artificial recession imposed in the spring and early summer of 2020. (It bears noting that even in the latter part of 2020 certain US states were still restricting movement, limiting gatherings, and fining employers.) This expansion of activity resulted in the first episodes witnessing a shortage of shipping containers in February 2021.
The Ever Given and the SuezOn Tuesday, March 23, 2021, the Ever Given''a 1,300 foot, 200,000 tonne container ship carrying over 18,000 containers''became lodged in the Suez Canal. (The canal has closed a handful of times.) The blockage is believed to have occurred when the combination of an uncommonly strong gust of wind and preoccupied guidance led to the fore of the ship running aground, wedging it across the canal at an angle.
In this one development, some 12% of global trade was held up for 6 days: just under $10B dollars worth of goods and over one million barrels of oil. When the ship was finally freed, shipping journal Lloyd's List estimated that some 450 ships were waiting to traverse the canal.
The damage associated with the accident includes the numerous and uncountable cost of delays, the estimated reduction of annual global trade growth (0.2 to 0.4 percentage points), and the leap in the cost of chartering vessels to go around the Horn of Africa (47%). But also, the role that the Suez blockage played in making each of the subsequent transportation snags all the more severe.
Shipping Containers DwindleAt this point, the combination of rising demand and slowing sea traffic began revealing itself in a paucity of available shipping containers.
Intermodal transport, which contemplates the use of standardized containers that readily transfer between air, sea, rail, and highway conveyance, is perhaps the most underappreciated factor in the globalized economy. Standard dimensions permit planning and maximizing capacity in advance, giving logisticians the ability to capitalize upon changes in the course of shipment. The ability to move a container from train to aircraft to ship results in efficient lading, which has contributed to lower costs and faster delivery times.
The global shipping container inventory tends toward a rough equilibrium state which takes into account surges in demand; the containers tend to last about 12 years, and are produced at a rate generally matching their retirement of some 6 to 8% per year. The greatest and most predictable surge of use occurs between September and December as retailers stock inventories in anticipation of the Thanksgiving to New Year's surge in consumption.
But by the early spring of 2021, with containers filling rapidly in response to Covid-related demand (both lockdowns and reopenings) and additional stimulus payments, available containers and container space became scarcer. Dwindling supply, predictably, was signaled by worldwide container prices. There are markets for newly built shipping containers as well as exchanges where used containers can be acquired. Between early and late 2020, new shipping container prices rose from roughly $1,800 to $2,500 CEU; but roughly one month after the week-long Suez blockage the first of several spikes was witnessed.
The price for a new container is now $3,500 per cost equivalent unit (CEU, a measure of the value of a container as a multiple of a 20-foot dry cargo unit)'...[while] recent price gains have been more extreme in the used container market. Container xChange reported that the price of used containers in China has nearly doubled from $1,299 per CEU in November [2020] to $2,521 in March [2021].
As to why production of new containers didn't ramp up to meet surging demand, there are several perspectives. If the elevated demand was expected to be temporary, it's possible that container firms didn't see the point in increasing output. Another view holds that a rare opportunity to earn outsized profits in a normally staid business was capitalized upon by the producing firms.
Baltic Dry Index (2015 '' present)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP) Yantian ClosesIn late May 2021 Yantian, a Chinese port about 50 miles north of Hong Kong shut owing to a number of Covid infections among dockworkers. Authorities halted operations for almost a week, which at a daily operating capacity of 30,000 20-foot containers per day, created a tremendous backlog. The ripple effect saw not only a pileup of unsent goods at that port, but the rerouting of Yantian-bound container ships to other ports straining capacity, creating further delays, and tying up more containers. By Thursday, June 17th,
[t]he congestion in Yantian ha[d] spilled over to other container ports in Guangdong, including Shekou, Chiwan, and Nansha'...The domino effect is creating a huge problem for the world's shipping industry'...As of Thursday, more than 50 container vessels were waiting to dock in Guangdong's Outer Pearl River Delta'...[But] the snag in operations in Yantian alone is concerning [delaying] more than the total volume of freight impacted by the six-day closure of the Suez Canal in March.
The price associated with shipping goods spiked, with the cost of sending 40-foot containers from Shanghai to Rotterdam increasing over 500% to $11,000 or more. The breach of the $10,000 rate marked a turning point; and it was at this point that, en masse, major shipping companies began alerting their clients of substantial delays, rising costs associated with routing changes, and higher prices associated with acquiring containers. Firms dependent upon ocean shipping began to do something they had been unaccustomed to: considering, and in some cases seizing upon, the newly-developed cost savings associated with air and rail transport.
Containers and Ships VanishAs container availability dissipated and warehouses near ports overflowed, some shipping firms chose to use the scant containers in their possession as makeshift storage space on docks and truck/rail terminals. And by June 2021,
Indian exporters to North America and Europe [were] complaining that the wait times to find a shipping container [could] stretch as long as three weeks. British exporters say the shortage [had] delayed shipments to east Asia for up to two months. And in the meantime, container prices'...nearly doubled.
On June 14th, Home Depot supply chain managers
realized that it was time to charter its own vessel. ''We have a ship that's solely going to be ours and it's just going to go back and forth'...100% dedicated to Home Depot,'' Chief Operating Officer Ted Decker said'...The company [had] been reduced to bringing in items by air'...as domestic demand surge[d].
Brokerage prices for short- and long-term charters began to surge. Whether awakened to this possibility by the Atlanta-based retailer or having arrived at the same conclusion independently, over the following weeks Walmart, Ikea, and scores of other large firms entered the private charter market.
Pallets Join ContainersAll this was soon accompanied with a new problem deriving from yet another pandemic policy side effect: a pallet deficiency. The price of lumber had, owing to the effect of stay-at-home orders on sawmills and home improvement projects owing to lockdowns, surged roughly five-fold between January 2020 and May 2021. (By one account, an estimated 46% of US hardwood lumber production goes toward pallets.)
Front-month lumber futures price (Jan 2020 '' May 2021)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP) In fact, the international shipment of certain types of goods requires being seated upon pallets within shipping containers. Unbeknownst to materially all the world not familiar with the nuance of international trade, pallets are, just like the shipping containers they are regularly coupled with, nothing short of an integral cog:
Companies'...have literally designed products around pallets'...There is a whole science of ''pallet cube optimization,'' a kind of Tetris for packaging; and an associated engineering filled with analyses of ''pallet overhang'' (stacking cartons so they hang over the edge of the pallet, resulting in losses of carton strength) and efforts to reduce ''pallet gaps'' (too much spacing between deck boards). The ''pallet loading problem,''''or the question of how to fit the most boxes onto a single pallet''is a common operations research thought exercise.
And as reported on ShipLilly, a shipping and logistics blog on June 9th, 2021,
The cost of raw lumber has doubled and sometimes nearly quadrupled. Lumber price increments have exponential impacts on the cost of manufacturing wood pallets. Manufacturers are passing on these costs by way of increased asking prices'...If pallets are available, a buyer can expect to pay 400% more.
Hastily-improvised workarounds swing into action, including repairing old pallets, building new pallets from discarded lumber, new loading schemes, and employing alternative means of elevating cargo, including plastic or concrete. This incidentally, put the shipping industry in direct competition with agricultural interests, as transporting produce is also dependent upon pallet availability and prices.
Ningbo ClosesIt is yet too early to call what occurred in mid-August 2021 the capstone event, but for now that appellation suffices.
With the detection of a single Covid infection among workers''a worker reported to be 34-years-old, fully vaccinated, and asymptomatic''a large portion of China's massive Ningbo-Zhoushan Port closed for nearly two weeks. The impact of the partial shutdown of the third largest port in the world not only derailed the slow recovery from the Yantian cessation, but
stretched across the Pacific Ocean to Long Beach port in Los Angeles, where more than 30 ships were waiting to get into port to offload'...elsewhere in Southeast Asia, anchored ships off Vietnam's largest two ports rose to six above the median.
WCI Composite Container Freight Benchmark Rate (per 40-foot, 2010 '' present)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP) Necessity being not only mother but father, sibling, master, and servant to invention, creative solutions poured forth from the private sector. Large and small firms began chartering smaller ships to fit into smaller, less congested ports. And many corporate logistical programs, including that of Peloton, began dividing shipments into optimized shipping categories among train, truck, air, and sea routes. And on the demand side, retailers began stockpiling: withholding goods from store shelves and online listings in anticipation of the coming holiday season. (Amazon's decision to purchase 11 Boeing 767s earlier this year looks sagacious in retrospect.)
Early in the pandemic, it was noted that the impact of lockdowns would be proportionately more devastating for smaller firms. And as such, that consolidation and concentration''the frequent target of the very same left political thought that drove nonpharmaceutical interventions''were likely outcomes. And that is indeed the case arising of these secondary and tertiary effects.
[S]upply chain snags are likely to add dominance to big-box retailers while cutting out smaller companies that don't have the extra funds to charter their own vessels or ship via cargo planes. ''Whenever we have a constrained supply like this it's always the big dogs that win,'' Douglas Kent, executive vice president of strategy and alliances at the Association of Supply Chain Management [said]. ''The smaller firms just don't have the capital to keep up. They're already in survival mode. They're going to have to pass on these costs to customers and risk losing out to big-box retailers that can absorb these costs themselves. As a result we will likely see the shuttering of more companies due to these ongoing issues.''
Predictably, container carriers are seeing a windfall. The same 40-foot container which cost, at most, $2,000 to ship goods from Asia to the US will now cost $25,000 if the exporting firm has guaranteed (or the importing firm paid for) on-time delivery. In 2020, the shipping industry earned an estimated $15 billion in profit; this year, the number is likely to top $100 billion.
Ongoing Port CongestionThroughout September 2021 ports all over the United States have been experiencing record ship delays. By September 11th, the logjam at the Los Angeles ports exceeded 50 ships carrying as much cargo as was previously seen in a month. After peaking at 73 ships on Sunday, September 19th, half a week later there were still 62 ships waiting to dock and offload. That's up from an average of zero to one (on a particularly busy day), pre-Covid. And among them were craft and crew that had been waiting for as long as three weeks.
Drewry Hong Kong to Los Angeles Container Rate (40-foot, 2015 '' present)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP) Yet even addressing the rigidities and stickiness discussed in an earlier section''maximum daily/weekly work hours and wages set by long-standing collective bargaining agreements''is mostly unhelpful, owing to the vast number of moving parts in the international supply chain.
[L]onger hours do little to address the backlog when truckers and warehouse operators have not similarly extended their hours. It's not optimal for truckers to pick up their loads at night, especially when they'd have to find alternative places to store the goods [as] warehouses are not open at night.
Additionally, broader labor shortages arising from the payment of Federal unemployment bonuses have been impacting every link in the international logistical chain. ''Many companies,'' Business Insider reported, ''have fewer workers [now] than before the pandemic started but face significantly more work due to the boom in demand for goods.''
The Armor Yet ConspiresAs of last week the spot rate for container rates was up 731% over the average of the past five years. As shipping cancellations have risen amid rapid changes in logistical plans, some ocean shipping firms are now requiring full payment up front, adding yet another level of difficulty to an increasingly intractable state of affairs. Amid this, retailers are attempting to stock up for the end-of-year holidays. Predictions regarding a return to normalcy range from 2022 to as late as 2023. Companies including Nike have already warned that certain products are likely to be unavailable before the holiday season.
The effect of blow after blow to global trade on the availability of goods is most visible in the following graph.
Manufacturing and Trade Inventory/Sales Ratio (2015 '' present)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP) Three observations may be made: first, that for some years, the ratio of business inventories to sales in manufacturing, retail, and wholesale trade has been fairly steady. Second: when Covid initially struck, the ensuing policies resulted in the ratio of business inventories to sales rocketing to all-time highs. (Which is to say: goods piled high as consumption plummeted.) And finally, consumption soon soared as people at home began spending, fueled by boredom and stimulus payments. Businesses have reopened and many have kept up with demand, but the ongoing problems of shipping described heretofore have led the inventory-to-sales ratio dropping to all-time lows.
This week it was reported that the fourth largest port in the US, in Savannah, GA, 20 ships are now delayed. ''Dwell times'' '' the time elapsing between containers arriving at the port and departing by truck or train '' have increased from four to as long as twelve days. Globally, a host of other quandaries potentially lie ahead. Typhoons, a shortage of truck drivers in Europe, government responses to new outbreaks of Delta and subsequent Covid variants all threaten to worsen the shipping crisis from where it currently stands.
CTS Average Global Container Price Index (Jan 2016 '' July 2021)
(Source: Bloomberg Finance, LP)There is an unavoidable price for the ceaseless avalanche of goods and services falling around us: it is exposure to an arrant, inherent level of complexity. Only the coordination of a superabundant array of prices, timing, capacity, and information keeps the globally-integrated supply chain functioning. A single, small misstep or error increases the likelihood of subsequent problems at every juncture in the process. The ''two weeks to flatten the curve'' decision along with other shortsighted, unnecessary (and, as it turns out, ineffective) policy options has generated countless knock-on effects. Those now include shortages of shipping containers, long and increasing port delays, a growing scarcity of essential supply chain components, insufficient labor, higher prices, and a mounting undersupply of final goods. While it may prove hyperbolic, for the first time this week the description of a ''global transport system collapse'' was employed.
Science and engineering have brought about an era in which doldrums no longer vex modern day mariners. Owing to innovation and entrepreneurship, there are no longer horse latitudes where payloads are dumped overboard by desperate crews. Yet those conditions have reemerged, borne not of nature but of power, mindlessly exercised. The idea that an economy could be indiscriminately shut down and turned back on without far-reaching consequences, as if a light switch or lawn mower, is utterly damnable. It could only come from the mind of an individual, or body of individuals, with no understanding of or consideration for the extraordinary interdependence of the productive sector.
Peter C. EarlePeter C. Earle is an economist and writer who joined AIER in 2018. Prior to that he spent over 20 years as a trader and analyst at a number of securities firms and hedge funds in the New York metropolitan area, as well as running a gaming and cryptocurrency consultancy.
His research focuses on financial markets, cryptocurrencies, monetary policy-related issues, the economics of games, and problems in economic measurement. He has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, CNBC, Grant's Interest Rate Observer, NPR, and in numerous other media outlets and publications.
Pete holds an MA in Applied Economics from American University, an MBA (Finance), and a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Follow him on Twitter.
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Nurse fatally shoots co-worker at Philadelphia hospital :: WRAL.com
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:33
By The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA '-- A nurse at a Philadelphia hospital fatally shot his co-worker early Monday morning, fled the scene and was shot in a gunfight with police that wounded two officers, authorities said.
The 55-year-old nurse was wearing scrubs when he shot his co-worker on the ninth floor of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital just after midnight, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at a news conference.
The co-worker, a 43-year-old man who was a certified nursing assistant, was later pronounced dead. It was unclear what sparked the shooting and investigators were looking into the histories of both men, Outlaw said. Police believe the shooting was targeted.
After the shooting, the gunman left the hospital in a U-Haul box truck. A short time later, four officers were alerted to the suspect's location by a passerby near a school. Officers observed him wearing body armor, and he had several weapons including a rifle and a semi-automatic handgun, Outlaw said.
The gunman opened fire on the officers, and all four fired back, the commissioner said. Two officers were struck '-- one suffered an elbow wound that will require surgery while the other was grazed on the nose. The suspect was shot in the upper body and neck, and was in critical condition but expected to survive. The officers' wounds weren't considered life-threatening.
A Crew Strike Would Shut Down Hollywood. Big Tech Has Everything to Do With It
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:12
Harrison WeberDo you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely by downloading Signal on a non-work device: +1 917 434 4978.
Harrison is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. They previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find them on Twitter: @harrisonweber. Send tips on L.A. deals to harrison@dot.la. Pronouns: they/them.
As giants like Apple, Netflix and Disney spend big on streaming content and fight for subscribers, their apps are supplanting theaters, premium cable, reruns and even the humble DVD box set.
The shake up was evident at the 2021 Emmy Awards, where streaming services swept the top categories with shows that included "The Crown" and "Ted Lasso." But as Scarlett Johansson made clear in a just-settled lawsuit against Disney, Hollywood's transformation is also upending the way talent gets paid '-- and that's hitting everyone from the A-list actors to the technicians who haul 50-pound cameras on their backs.
The issue could even grind Hollywood production to a halt, as streaming's rise and the pandemic flare tensions across the industry. What happens next hinges on how a crucial labor battle plays out in the coming days and weeks between behind-the-scenes workers and some of the most powerful corporations on the planet.
Big Tech and the Strike Authorization VoteThe union behind the workers who operate cameras, dress actors, build sets and clean toilets '-- the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) '-- will vote over the weekend on whether to authorize a strike amid protracted contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Some of the biggest names in tech, including Apple, Netflix and Amazon (which bought MGM), have a seat at the table alongside AMPTP's major studios. That means their lawyers sit opposite of IATSE union members in negotiations over pay and working conditions.
"We are united in demanding more humane working conditions across the industry, including reasonable rest during and between workdays and on the weekend, equitable pay on streaming productions, and a livable wage floor," said IATSE President Matt Loeb earlier this month, alluding to the reports of grueling 14-hour workdays faced by crews.
IATSE wants to boost what they're paid for streaming projects, some of which are still discounted from the "basic rates" that traditional film and television projects pay. The union also wants streaming providers to pay higher residual rates to fund their healthcare and pension. The terms under negotiation were established more than a decade ago, when beaming original content to your laptop was an experiment of uncertain profitability.
But those discounted rates are still in play today, "even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters," according to IATSE. The streaming rates outlined in current contracts reportedly made it possible for Apple, a $2.3 trillion company, to trim behind-the-scenes workers' paychecks. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
"AMPTP says that they do not want to be forced to pay our pension plan fair residuals on streaming because it is an 'experiment' (their words). An unproven revenue stream. Which, lmao, maybe they didn't watch the Emmys," Ian Edwards, a digital imaging technician in IATSE Local 600, told dot.LA in a direct message.
Working on a streaming show like "'The Mandalorian' as an experimental streaming property, can be much harder than working on 'Two and a Half Men' on stage, which pays proper residuals," said Andy Kennedy-Derkay, 2nd assistant cameraperson and IATSE member. "It's just ludicrous to think of things this way '' as if we are shooting a web series, when we are making the most expensive television shows ever produced." Current streaming residuals are "infinitesimally small in comparison to the purchase of a DVD," he said in a call with dot.LA.
'Critical' ConditionIATSE workers depend on those shrinking residuals to fund their pension, which is nearing "critical" condition under federal law, according to Deadline. It's currently 68.9% funded, and as residuals from DVDs and other secondary markets decline, streaming giants do not appear interested in picking up the slack.
"One of the issues with streaming is there really isn't that natural second market there," Todd Holmes, assistant professor of entertainment media management at California State University, Northridge, said in a call with dot.LA. "So in terms of residuals, there's really not a structure set in place right now for people that are members of IATSE to get any kind of money, because a lot of these things are Netflix originals. That's a problem," Holmes added.
If a film goes straight to Netflix and stays there, how would residuals even work?
"The data is there," said Holmes. "Netflix and everything, they keep their information very much under lock and key, but they have access to that information. They know, certainly, the number of streams and they have a lot of consumer data, so there are ways to determine the residuals. It's just so far the AMPTP, they haven't wanted to include that in part of the equation."
AMPTP said last week that it is "committed to reaching an agreement at the bargaining table that balances the needs of both parties and will keep the industry working."
The trade group warned that a strike would jeopardize two crucial elements of the negotiations: workers' health care and retirement, telling Deadline: "A strike will have a devastating impact on the industry and inevitably will result in thousands of IATSE members losing their income, failing to qualify for health insurance benefits, jeopardizing funding for the pension plan and disrupting production."
A number of factors are contributing to IATSE's leverage over the major studios, including the growing demand for streaming and a production backlog caused by the pandemic. The union also has support from more than 100 members of Congress, as well as celebrities like Seth Rogan, Cynthia Nixon and LeVar Burton.
Between October 1 and October 3, members will vote on whether to allow IATSE President Loeb to call a strike. The results of the vote will be announced the following day. If workers authorize a strike, the vote will be used as a bargaining chip in the ongoing talks. It's not clear how long a strike would last if one is called.
"Do I think it'll work? Yeah I think it'll work. And I think that in all likelihood when push comes to shove, if they decide to allow us to strike, they are going to get a wake-up call of what a powerful union can do and I think it will blow up in their face," said Kennedy-Derkay.
"We're used to going through hard times," he added. "Crew members go through hard times every time they accept a job. The people who work for 70 hours a week for eight months, who don't see their families, whose health and mental well being crumbles '-- they make incredible films and television and they show up every single day and give their 100% to craft the vision of the people they're collaborating with. We know how to grind. We would much rather grind at a stage than at a picket line. But I have tremendous confidence that we will stand strong."
House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda - PA House of Representatives
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:09
Subscribe to receive notifications of new Co-Sponsorship Memos circulated House of Representatives Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular SessionMEMORANDUM For far too long, the public debate around abortion, contraception and related reproductive matters has thrust government into the center of restrictions on the bodily autonomy of women and girls. Rarely is there a meaningful dialogue around public policy focusing on the personal responsibility of cisgender men in this sphere. The rights of cisgender men have always been paramount in our society with little focus on their responsibility as inseminators to change their behaviors for the good of their partners, families, and society at large. As we head toward climax on this heated discourse around this delicate matter, we should come together to address it with surgical precision. We must also commit to mending the social fabric being sliced up by bitter acrimony. In order to improve public health outcomes and release sweet justice into our households and bedrooms, we must wrap our love of individual liberty in the moral imperative of greater personal responsibility and acknowledge men's essential role in procreation. Therefore, I will be introducing legislation that will require all inseminators to undergo vasectomies within 6 weeks from having their third child or 40th birthday, whichever comes first. Further, this legislation will allow Pennsylvanians to take civil action for unwanted pregnancies against inseminators who wrongfully conceive a child with them. This legislation will also empower Pennsylvanians to enforce this new law by offering a $10,000 reward for reporting to the proper authorities those scofflaws who have not complied with this statute within the allotted timeframe. As long as state legislatures continue to restrict the reproductive rights of cis women, trans men and non-binary people, there should be laws that address the responsibility of men who impregnate them. Thus, my bill will also codify ''wrongful conception'' to include when a person has demonstrated negligence toward preventing conception during intercourse. What's good for the goose is good for the gander! In the spirit of this popular axiom, I encourage my colleagues to take a gander at this forthcoming bill that seeks to end this egregiously gendered double standard for the benefit of all individuals, our families and our great commonwealth.
COVID-19 Enterprise Fraud Construct Timeline: Major Dates, Events, Entities & Legislation '' Political moonshine
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 14:52
This timeline is extracted from a larger one, contains most of the relevant major dates, events, entities and legislation for the COVID-19 enterprise fraud construct, and contains links to the sourced and cited work in evidence. The search function can help to sift those articles.
It is sourced with original work that includes links to cited sources.
It is a COVID linear chronology with the purpose of demonstrating evidenced events and patterns of events.
It will continue to be updated over time.
Timeline & UpdatesCurrent entries : 105
First edition : 29 Sep 21
Last updated : 03 Oct 21
May2002
Bush: Appoints Algerian-born director of NIHDr. Elias Zerhouni is appointed director of NIH & establishes the architecture of the medical infrastructure needed to deliver the construct [''pandemic'']SOURCE
2003
Bush: New BSAT programFollowing the Anthrax scare in the aftermath of 9/11, Bush launched the BSAT program to control dual use pathogens [conventional & bio-WMD] like SARSSOURCE
2005
SARS established as the preferred bio-WMDPatent filings indicate SARS is the preferred bio-WMD by researchers, scientists & corporationsSOURCE
2006
Congress Responds to Zerhouni Congress authorized and funded [NIH Common Fund, NIH Reform Act of 2006] ''cross-cutting programs'' that extend to the list of the 37 hospitals [not yet identified] that provide bulk COVID dataSOURCE
May2006
Bush: DHS Council/National Strategy for Pandemic InfluenzaBush establishes blueprint for influenza pandemicSOURCE
02 December2008
US biosecurity rules re-write beginsWorld at Risk '' the report of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism (WMD Commission) '' recommended a comprehensive review of U.S. biosecuritySOURCE
09 January2009
Bush: Executive Order 13486Transition period EO that will permit Obama to revamp US biosecuritySOURCESOURCE
23 October2009
Obama: US biosecurity rules rewritePer EO 13486 & on 23 Oct 09, the Working Group on Strengthening the Biosecurity of the U.S., which was the hand-picked cohort charged with determining the revamped U.S. biosecurity system, released its reportSOURCE
23 March2010
ACA/Obamacare becomes lawACA becomes law extending on Zerhouni's foundation to deliver the architecture of the medical infrastructure needed to deliver the pandemicSOURCESOURCESOURCE
02 July2010
Obama: Executive Order 13546Created the lane for recommendations from FESAP regarding dual-use BSAT pathogensSOURCE
13 July2011
SARS removed from BSAT listFESAP responds to EO 13546 to remove SARS from the list of dual-use BSAT pathogens [permitting SARS to be worked on (GOF) covertly]SOURCE
October2013
$1.5 billion Biden deal with CEFC China Energy CompanyVice President Joe Biden flew Hunter Biden to China where he secured a $1.5b private equity deal with Chairman Ye of the CEFC; CEFC being the economic arm of One Belt, One Road doctrine; earnings set to begin in 2017 once out of officeSOURCE
17 October2014
Obama: Pushes back against internal whistleblowers on GOFObama White House issues a statement to push back on gain of function assertionsSOURCE
2015
Obama: Exception to fund gain of function work, $3.7 millionObama makes exception to US policy to fund [Fauci/NIH] GOF work in China/WIV [EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak]SOURCESOURCESOURCESOURCE
May2015
China releases Made in China 2025 PlanExtending from Belt, Road, China introduces it policy intentions to dominate the US/worldSOURCESOURCE
29 October2015
DHS/''Monaco Memo''DHS Secretary Lisa Monaco issues biosecurity stand-down at all US biocontainment facilities & GOF work was extracted for export to WIV/ChinaSOURCE
12 February2016
Peter Daszak/EcoHealth Alliance 2015 statement on SARS-CoV-2 as a bio-WMDMedia reports on Daszak's 2015 statement collaborating with Fauci/China to develop SARS-CoV-2 as a bio-WMD [funding conduit Fauci>WIV]SOURCE
13 March2016
Obama: Presidential transition law augmented to insert pandemic preparednessPublic Law 114-136 to change presidential transition law permitting insertion of pandemic construct [13 Jan 17 during presidential transition meetings]SOURCE
06 MAY2016
Obama: Executive Order on presidential transition law Amended transition law to create the White House Transition Coordinating Council permitting the viral construct insert during presidential transition meetingsSOURCESOURCE
11 July2016
CEPI founded by The World Economic Forum in DavosCoalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations [Gates/Soros] appoint chairmanSOURCESOURCESOURCE
28 July2016
Brennan Documents: Obama approved ''Russia'' investigationCIA/John Brennan notes document Obama's approval of Clinton Campaign design to target Trump with fraudulent ''Russia'' narrativeSOURCE
08 November2016
Trump electedHillary Clinton's anticipated victory undone by legitimate election result
2016
Biden's income in 2016$396,456 [standard of comparison for income 2017-2019 below]SOURCE
05 January2017
Obama: Authorizes ''Russian'' investigationAn Obama holdover meeting [Biden, Comey, Yates, Rice] authorizes Trump ''Russian'' investigation, ''by the book''SOURCE
11 January2017
Fauci: ''Surprise disease outbreak''Georgetown University '' Fauci states publicly that Trump administration will face a ''surprise disease outbreak''SOURCE
13 January2017
Pandemic construct insertedMost important date in contemporary US history
Flynn/Russia story leaked followed by presidential transition meetings '' EO leveraged & construct inserted into Trump Administration by Obama's transition teamSOURCE
20 January2017
Trump inauguratedPresident Trump is inaugurated, peaceful transfer of power
February2017
China's MIC 2025 timeline merger for dominanceThe Made in China 2025 plan & the broader ''pandemic'' timelines fully merge in February 2017 creating domains for China to leverage COVID to displace the US economically, politically & militarily beginning in late 2019 [outbreak]SOURCE
13 May2017
Evidence of Biden's 10% deal from Hunter Biden/CEFCTony Bobulinski email [Sinohawk, Rosemont Seneca, etc.] emerges evidencing 10% earnings for Joe BidenSOURCE
17 May2017
Mueller investigation openedSpecial Counsel Mueller is appointed to conduct ''Russian'' [plus] investigationSOURCE
23 May2017
Tedros installed at the WHOSuccession law changed for 1st time since 1947 for China to install Tedros by secret electronic vote precluding nations from seeing how other nations voted; first non-physician & bureaucrat to lead the WHOSOURCESOURCE
June2017
World Bank creates ''pandemic bonds''Bonds created to fund the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) seeking to mitigate pandemic exposure with privatizationSOURCE
01 July2017
Tedros begins tenure at WHOInstalled by China, non-physician & bureaucrat Tedros [communist] begins tenure at WHO serving as a Chinese proxySOURCE
11 November2017
Mueller closes investigationMueller announces closing of special counsel investigationSOURCE
04 December2017
Obama: Concludes shadow trip to meet with world leadersObama trip to shadow Trump meetings with world leaders: China, India, France, Italy, Iran [Shadow Government diplomacy]SOURCE
2017
Soros liquidates $18 billion into NGOsGeorge Soros liquidated $18 billion of personal wealth and sending it to his broad network of NGOs that are a primary interface for the private-public relationship exploitedSOURCE
2017
WITS Spreadsheets evidence purchase of ''COVID'' supplies 2 years before ''COVID'' existedWITS spreadsheets provided by a consulted epidemiologist evidence ''COVID'' existing in 2017 before the 27 Dec 19 outbreak or the 11 Feb 20 creation of ''COVID'' as a nameSOURCE
2017
Biden's income 2017-2019$16,596,979*Up from $365k in 2016*4086.34% increase*1295.45% average annual increaseSOURCESOURCE
16 April2019
Evidence: Schiff, Cummings & Waters sign MOU to attack Trump with House committee authorityEvidence emerges from Jim Jordan indicating House committee Chairmen Schiff, Cummings [deceased] & Waters agreed to attack Trump umbrealla with committee authority [subpoena power]; noting Nadler [House Judiciary Committee (impeachment function) is peculiarly absent & that Pelosi transferred impeachment oversight from Nader to Schiff's Intelligence Committee [HPSCI] extra-constitutionally; further noting that the broader continuum is a function of the Intelligence CommunitySOURCESOURCESOURCESOURCESOURCE
October2019
SARS Outbreak: FBI documents outbreak October 2019 [not known to public]13 Nov 19 FBI Tactical Intelligence Report documents outbreak in China in October 2019 but FBI declined to advise DOD of national defense/security threatsSOURCESOURCE
18 October2019
Event 201Johns Hopkins, The World Economic Forum & the Gates Foundation conduct pandemic trial runSOURCESOURCE
25 October2019
Biden: Public statement saying Trump not ready for ''pandemic''Joe Biden posted to Twitter saying about Trump administration, ''We are not prepared for pandemic'' [2 months & 2 days before outbreak]SOURCE
17 November2019
Backdated first SARS outbreak date [hasn't occurred yet on timeline]Original outbreak date revised from 27 Dec 19 backwards to 17 Nov 19SOURCE
01 December2019
COVID Harvesting Season/Peak Flu Season 1 beginsThe CDC marks 01 Dec as the beginning of annual peak flu & runs it for 2 months; it's the primary co-morbidity harvesting reservoir & data driver for enterprise fraudSOURCE
05 December2019
Articles of Impeachment authorized by House SpeakerHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi authorizes impeachment articlesSOURCE
13 December2019
Articles of Impeachment passes Judiciary CommitteeHouse Judiciary Committee passes Articles of ImpeachmentSOURCE
18 December2019
House votes to impeachThe full House votes to impeach TrumpSOURCE
[Up to] 27 Dec2019
73 preexisting US patent filings for SARS-CoV-2 before 27 Dec 19U.S. patent law & filings evidence 73 existing patents for SARS-CoV-2 [gene sequence] on file at the US Patent Office before the initial outbreak; SARS-CoV-2 has been in the public domain for over 2 decades & there's nothing ''novel'' [new] about itSOURCE
27 December2019
SARS Outbreak: First legacy media reportLegacy media reports on SARS outbreak in China for first time; 2 immediate indicators of concern '' 1) Friday release of story, 2) release situated between Christmas & New Years [public preoccupied & distracted with multiple major holidays]SOURCE
2019
Biden's income 2017-2019$16,596,979*Up from $365k in 2016*4086.34% increase*1295.45% average annual increaseSOURCESOURCE
05 January2020
WHO continues stand-down recommending no travel restrictionsIn stand-down, the WHO [China] advises continued recommendation not to restrict travel; WHO specifically advises this for travel in/out of ChinaSOURCE
10 January2020
WHO revises positions on COVID, still no travel restrictionsThe WHO [China] implements upper-respiratory type mitigations and maintains position to not issue travel [or trade]restrictions specifically for China SOURCE
14 January2020
WHO declares concerns for COVID transmissionWHO [China] issues advisement about the concern of human-to-human transmissionSOURCE
15 January2020
Pelosi transfers impeachment from Nadler/Judiciary to HPSCI/Schiff/Intelligence CommunityAs impeachment managers are named for the upcoming trial, Pelosi diverges from Constitutional practices to permit Schiff & the Intelligence Committee to control impeachmentSOURCESOURCE
16 January2020
Articles of Impeachment transmitted & received for Senate trialPelosi transmits the AOIs [15th] to the Senate for Trump's trialSOURCE
17 January2020
CDC begins screening air passengersCDC & Fauci et al issue & begin mitigations for air travel passengers [China]SOURCE
20 January2020
First documented US SARS caseProvidence Regional Medical Center Everett, WASOURCE
20 January2020
Fauci: Announces vaccine effortsFauci announces NIH is ''already working on'' the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus; setting the vaccine vector for fraud; drawing a line Trump wasn't expected to cross [Operation Warp Speed]; making for peculiar timing given the conventional & much longer timeline for vaccine development for supposedly ''novel'' [new] disease outbreaks [fraud indicator evidenced by patents]SOURCESOURCE
21 January2020
Senate votes on impeachment trial rulesSenates votes to approve rules for impeachment trialSOURCE
21 January2020
China applies for Remdesivir patentChina applies for a Chinese patent on Gilead's Remdesivir for treating the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)SOURCE
23 January2020
WHO says ''too early'' for global health emergencyThe WHO [China] continues to stand-down on COVID saying it's too early to declare a global health emergencySOURCE
23 January2020
Impeachment trial beginsSenate impeachment trial beginsSOURCE
24 January2020
WHO recommends travel & other restrictions for COVIDThe WHO [China] advises that ''measures to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease should be implemented, without unnecessary restrictions of international traffic; advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this event;'' conflicting with Chinese GOF work on SARS-CoV-2 & existing US patents evidenceSOURCE
27 January2020
WHO issues formal travel restrictionsThe WHO [China] issues formal travel restrictions for COVID-19SOURCE
28 January2020
Trump's impeachment defense rests, WHO revises position on outbreakAs the deflection point construct to usher-in COVID, impeachment unravels on House managers & WHO redefines its position on pandemic; it's evident that the fraudulent impeachment has failed & will wind-down while the reaction is for the reciprocating COVID construct to be further entrenched by China's proxy, Tedros/WHOSOURCE
29 January2020
Coronavirus Task Force createdThe Criminal Enterprise [RICO] receives internal leadership with the creation of the Pence/Fauci/Birx Task Force [will become the usurper of Title II Executive authority]SOURCE
30 January2020
WHO classifies COVID as PHEIC WHO [China] issues advisement classifying COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International ConcernSOURCESOURCE
05 February2020
Impeachment acquittalPresident Trump is acquittedSOURCE
08 February2020
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo places US governors & official on noticeSecretary of State Pompeo public statement on China's/CCP's evaluation of governors, politicians, officials, university personnel etc. for favorable status; Pompeo places them on notice [or if Pompeo is compromised & tainted, he's warning them]SOURCE
09 February2020
Remdesivir [Gilead Sciences] becomes first successful COVID treatmentGilead Sciences' Remdesivir is the first reported successful treatment for COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2, ''Cui bono?''SOURCE
11 February2020
''COVID-19'' moniker assigned to SARS-CoV-2 outbreak''COVID-19'' is created & assigned to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak for the first time despite evidence of US & other nations' ''COVID'' supply orders dating back to 2017SOURCE
11 February2020
WHO revises travel restrictions per PHEICThe WHO [China] revises international travel restrictions per PHEIC towards ''containment''SOURCESOURCE
06 March2020
Trump signs $8.3 billion COVID billTrump signs bill to allocate $8.3 billion to fight COVID triggering the opening of a full spectrum of portals for enterprise fraud [as do all other funding & grant initiatives] SOURCE
10 March2020
US Army & Gilead Sciences [Remdesivir] sign contractThe US Army signs a large contract with Gilead Sciences to acquire Remdesivir, an experimental treatment that would prove to be harmful when misapplied; another fraud portal is openedSOURCESOURCE
11 March2020
China leverages WHO/Tedros proxy for pandemic declaration to trigger usurpation of Title II Executive authorityChina leverages its WHO/Tedros proxy to declare SARS outbreak a pandemic triggering US COG laws, drawing into conflict ''presidential competence'' & triggering the US mechanism to permit the usurpation of President Trump's Title II Executive authoritySOURCESOURCE
13 March2020
Criminal Enterprise declares national emergency & usurps Title II Executive AuthorityChina assumes proxy control of the US government
''Presidential competence'' drawn into conflict [Stafford Act] causing compulsory deference to the Criminal Enterprise [The Task Force, RICO] & Trump's Title II Executive authority is usurped by the Enterprise.; China is now in proxy control of the US federal government in 8 essential domains [see COG slides at bottom of timeline]SOURCESOURCE
15 March2020
FEMA & COG active All 50 states were contacted through FEMA to coordinate ''federally-supported, state-led efforts'' to end coronavirus reflecting COG; further bends federalism back against Americans as the enforcement mechanism for the enterprise fraud constructSOURCE
19 March2020
President places FEMA, Pence/Task force to take COVID lead & Lock-downs BeginTrump assigns COVID lead [full culpability] to FEMA, Pence/Fauci/Task Force [Criminal Enterprise] as US begins to ''flatten the curve'' with lock-downs; Americans begin learning ''new normal''SOURCE
02 April2020
Fauci: Calls for nationwide lock-downSOURCE
Spring 2020
COVID Harvesting Season/Peak Flu Season 1 endsThe CDC marks 01 Dec as the beginning of annual peak flu & runs it for 2 months; it's the primary co-morbidity harvesting reservoir & data driver for enterprise fraud; seasonal die-off occurs roughly every spring-summerSOURCE
13 April2020
Trump Compartmentalizes COVIDTrump compartmentalizes all culpability for COIVD in the Pence/Fauci Criminal Enterprise in a significant press conference; Fauci required to correct the record stating that all mitigation & guideline requests were approved by Trump immediately upon requestSOURCE
Mid-April2020
Mid-April shift 2020The CDC/WHO [Criminal Enterprise] moved away from the benchmark measurement of [declining at that time] mortality to fictional ''new cases'' to bridge to the next data reservoir/next peak flu seasonSOURCESOURCE
28 April2020
1st Internal whistleblower from the WIV/China arrives in the US '' YanChinese scientist Li-Men Yan lands at LAX where she was promptly interviewed by an FBI agent who then followed her to New York; later cooperating with the Trump administrationSOURCE
15 May2020
Trump: Announces Operation Warp SpeedTrump announces Operation Warp Speed crossing a line drawn by the Criminal Enterprise which it expected him not to cross resetting/impacting the broader timeline by responding before the electionSOURCESOURCE
26 August2020
CDC: Bulk data revision 1CDC revised away 94% of sole-cause mortality data citing an average of 2.6 underlying co-morbidities; only 6% of data was left valid reverting 2020 back to a statistically unremarkable flu season comporting with valid CDC mortality data [2020 only 12th deadliest year in last 12 years]SOURCE
08 October2020
China purchased Dominion Voting SystemsChina purchased Dominion Voting when it acquired Staple Street Capital via UBS/HSBC providing access/portals to real-time, outside election interference capable of remotely changing votes to determine election outcomes SOURCE
12 October2020
Trump: ''We caught them all''Trump publicly states that the criminality began before his election (in 2015) and that ''it's a disgrace and we caught 'em.'' We caught them and we caught them cold'...it's a beautiful thing.''SOURCE
22 October2020
Biden: Promise of a ''Dark Winter''During the last presidential debate, Biden promised a ''Dark Winter''SOURCE
03 November2020
2020 ElectionThe election is stolen and Joe Biden is installed.SOURCE[Archive link for Nov 20]
30 November2020
Fauci: Begins pivot out of COVID to benefit incoming BidenAnalysis & evidence that Fauci was beginning the pivot out of COVID at the beginning of peak-flu providing for an exact & precise political prediction later confirmed with empirical data on 20 Jan 21 [inauguration day] & further on March 2021 upon receipt of additional COVID dataSOURCE
01 December2020
COVID Harvesting Season/Peak Flu Season 2 beginsThe CDC marks 01 Dec as the beginning of annual peak flu & runs it for 2 months; it's the primary co-morbidity harvesting reservoir & data driver for enterprise fraudSOURCE
01 December2020
Barr: Denies election theft evidenceAG Bill Barr refuses to take action on election theft evidenceSOURCE
15 January2021
Trump: Announces Operation Warp Speed delivers early resultsOperation Warp Speed delivers best early vaccination rate of the G20 SOURCE
20 January2021
WHO revises cycle thresholds within 1 hour of Biden inaugurationWithin an hour of Biden's inauguration the WHO/Tedros [China's proxy] revised cycle thresholds for RT-PCR testing back to conventional levels confirming the 30 Nov 20 political prediction & further evidenced empirically in March 2021; will cause significant drop in COVID cases per predictionSOURCE
February2021
India & Seychelles: Exemplars of testing/vaccine dynamicIsrael similarly continues into fall with Delta variant
India & Seychelles emerge as exemplars showing expanded testing & vaccination produces expanded ''new cases'' data; Israel continuing the trend into Fall 2021 by means of the Delta variant/vaccination requirementsSOURCESOURCE
Mid-February2021
2nd Internal Chinese whistleblower arrives in US '' DongChinese Vice Minister of State Security Dong Jingwei, defected vis-a-vis Hong Kong and he brought with him a tranche of evidentiary documents relative to SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemicSOURCE
11 March2021
China announces 14th 5-Year PlanChina's CCP announces overarching strategy for the next five to fifteen years to accelerate China's rise by becoming an innovation superpower, technologically independent of the West and dominating global tech; expanding on Belt, Road & MIC 2025SOURCESOURCE
Spring2021
COVID Harvesting Season/Peak Flu Season 2 endsThe CDC marks 01 Dec as the beginning of annual peak flu & runs it for 2 months; it's the primary co-morbidity harvesting reservoir & data driver for enterprise fraud; seasonal die-off occurs roughly every spring-summerSOURCE
Spring2021
Mid-April shift 2021The 2021 mid-April shift leverages the Delta variant [and others] to construct COVID data & bridge across the seasonal die-off period [spring, summer] from peak flu 2020 to peak flu 2021 [peak flu season is the primary data reservoir for harvesting]SOURCESOURCE
12 May2021
CDC: Bulk data revision 2CDC revised away 95% of sole-cause mortality data citing an average of 4.0 underlying co-morbidities; only 5% of data was valid reverting 2021 back to a statistically unremarkable flu seasonSOURCE
18 May2021
Chinese professor confirms US war with ChinaChinese professor Chen Ping confirms our position that the US has been at war and since lost to China in 2020SOURCE
17 June2021
Biden commits $3 billion to antiviral medicationsBiden administration announces allocation of $3 billion from the 'Save America Plan' to invest in antiviral medications relative to the COVID-19 construct for perpetual enterprise fraud; opens another enterprise fraud portalSOURCE
24 August2021
CDC confirms success of Operation Warp speedVaccines prevented up to 140,000 COVID-19 deaths in U.S.SOURCESOURCE
01 December2021
COVID Harvesting Season/Peak Flu Season 3 beginsThe CDC marks 01 Dec as the beginning of annual peak flu & runs it for 2 months; it's the primary co-morbidity harvesting reservoir & data driver for enterprise fraudSOURCE
Spring2022
COVID Harvesting Season/Peak Flu Season 3 endsThe CDC marks 01 Dec as the beginning of annual peak flu & runs it for 2 months; it's the primary co-morbidity harvesting reservoir & data driver for enterprise fraud; seasonal die-off occurs roughly every spring-summerSOURCE
01 December2022
COVID Harvesting Season/Peak Flu Season 4 beginsThe CDC marks 01 Dec as the beginning of annual peak flu & runs it for 2 months; it's the primary co-morbidity harvesting reservoir & data driver for enterprise fraud; seasonal die-off occurs roughly every spring-summerSOURCE
???
How much longer will Americans tolerate being forced onto this continuum? Take a stand and rise.SOURCE: Look within
To further understand this timeline relative to COVID-19 as a construct for enterprise fraud and to examine continuity of government considerations, consider these graphics.
The Enterprise Fraud ConstructCompartmentalizing and Disaggregating CulpabilityContinuity of GovernmentVideoPeter Daszak/EcoHealth Alliance in 2016.
'Where did the flu go?'' from spring 2021.
Biden during the campaign in 2020.
The presidential debates in 2020.
'The Fear of the Unknown' from spring 2020.
'Shadow Government' from spring 2020.
-End-
Leaked 'Pandora' records show how the powerful shield assets - ABC News
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 13:26
A new report sheds light on how world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires and others have used offshore accounts to shield assets collectively worth trillions of dollars over the past quarter-century
By
MICHAEL LIEDTKE and JONATHAN MATTISE Associated Press
October 4, 2021, 6:40 AM ET
' 7 min read
A new report sheds light on how world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires and others have used offshore accounts to shield assets collectively worth trillions of dollars over the past quarter-century.
The report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It's being dubbed the ''Pandora Papers'' because the findings shed light on the previously hidden dealings of the elite and the corrupt.
Hundreds of politicians, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 firms located around the world.
The more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include Jordan's King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso, and associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The billionaires called out in the report include Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak and Robert T. Brockman, the former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds.
Many of the accounts were designed to evade taxes and conceal assets for other shady reasons, according to the report.
''The new data leak must be a wake-up call,'' said Sven Giegold, a Green party lawmaker in the European Parliament. ''Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We need to expand and sharpen the countermeasures now.''
Oxfam International, a British consortium of charities, applauded the Pandora Papers for exposing brazen examples of greed that deprived countries of tax revenue that could be used to finance programs and projects for the greater good.
''This is where our missing hospitals are," Oxfam said in a statement. ''This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is 'no money' to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-COVID recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look."
The Pandora Papers are a follow-up to a similar project released in 2016 called the ''Panama Papers" compiled by the same journalistic group.
The latest bombshell is even more expansive, relying on nearly 3 terabytes of data '-- the equivalent of roughly 750,000 photos on a smartphone '-- leaked from 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions in the world. The records date back to the 1970s, but most of the files span from 1996 to 2020.
In contrast, the Panama Papers culled through 2.6 terabytes of data leaked by one now-defunct law firm called Mossack Fonseca that was located in the country that inspired that project's nickname.
The latest investigation dug into accounts registered in familiar offshore havens, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize. But some of the secret accounts were also scattered around in trusts set up in the U.S., including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.
The investigation found advisers helped Abdullah, the king of Jordan, set up at least three dozen shell companies from 1995 to 2017, helping the monarch buy 14 homes worth more than $106 million in the U.S. and the U.K. One was a $23 million California ocean-view property bought in 2017 through a British Virgin Islands company. The advisers were identified as an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands.
Abdullah denied any impropriety in a comment Monday by the Royal Palace, citing security needs for keeping the transactions quiet and saying no public funds were used.
The details are an embarrassing blow to Abdullah, whose government was engulfed in scandal this year when his half brother, former Crown Prince Hamzah, accused the ''ruling system'' of corruption and incompetence. The king claimed he was the victim of a ''malicious plot,'' placed his half brother under house arrest and put two former close aides on trial.
U.K attorneys for Abdullah said he isn't required to pay taxes under his country's law and hasn't misused public funds. The attorneys also said most of the companies and properties are not connected to the king or no longer exist, though they declined to provide details.
Blair, U.K. prime minister from 1997 to 2007, became the owner of an $8.8 million Victorian building in 2017 by buying a British Virgin Islands company that held the property, and the building now hosts the law firm of his wife, Cherie Blair, according to the the investigation. The two bought the company from the family of Bahrain's industry and tourism minister, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani. Buying the company shares instead of the London building saved the Blairs more than $400,000 in property taxes, the investigation found.
The Blairs and the al-Zayanis both said they didn't initially know the other party was involved in the deal, the probe found. Cherie Blair said her husband wasn't involved in the purchase, which she said was meant to bring ''the company and the building back into the U.K. tax and regulatory regime.'' She also said she did not want to own a British Virgin Islands company and that the ''seller for their own purposes only wanted to sell the company,'' which is now closed.
A lawyer for the al-Zayanis said they complied with U.K. laws.
Khan, the Pakistani prime minister, is not accused of any wrongdoing. But members of his inner circle, including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, are accused of hiding millions of dollars in wealth in secret companies or trusts, according to the journalists' findings.
In a tweet, Khan vowed to recover the ''ill-gotten gains'' and said his government will look into all citizens mentioned in the documents and take action, if needed.
The consortium of journalists revealed Putin's image-maker and chief executive of Russia's leading TV station, Konstantin Ernst, got a discount to buy and develop Soviet-era cinemas and surrounding property in Moscow after he directed the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Ernst told the organization the deal wasn't secret and denied suggestions he was given special treatment.
In 2009, Babis, the Czech prime minister, put $22 million into shell companies to buy a chateau property in a hilltop village in Mougins, France, near Cannes, the investigation found. The shell companies and the chateau were not disclosed in Babis' required asset declarations, according to documents obtained by the journalism group's Czech partner, Investigace.cz.
A real estate group owned indirectly by Babis bought the Monaco company that owned the chateau in 2018, the probe found.
Babis has denied any wrongdoing.
''I don't own any offshore, I don't own any property in France, and all the money I loaned then I got back,'' he told the Czech public television on Monday. ''Let the police investigate that.''
Babis said the report was meant to harm him ahead of the Czech Republic parliamentary election being held on Friday and Saturday.
''It's nasty, false accusations that are meant to influence the election. That's all,'' he said.
The Czech police's organized crime unit said it would launch an investigation into the report.
'--'--'--
Liedtke reported from San Ramon, California, and Mattise reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press writers Karel Janicek in the Czech Republic, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Josef Federman in Jerusalem, John Rice in Mexico City, Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Felicia Fonseca in Phoenix contributed to this report.
Pandora Papers: South Dakota Rivals Offshore Tax Havens for Financial Secrecy
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 04:20
Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock South Dakota is sheltering assets from individuals previously accused of financial crimes, the new Pandora Papers say. "South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy," the Washington Post reported. The documents reveal that $360 billion in customer assets are sitting in trusts in South Dakota. See more stories on Insider's business page. Financial secrecy laws in South Dakota have made the state a prime location for foreigners who want to conceal and protect their assets, with tens of millions of dollars tied to people accused of financial crimes and human rights abuses, according to newly public documents.
The Pandora Papers, leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), explores the secretive offshore system the wealthy and power use to shield their money. The millions of pages of documents were shared with media partners including the Guardian, BBC Panorama, Le Monde, and the Washington Post.
The documents reveal that $360 billion in customer assets are sitting in trusts in South Dakota. Over the years, state lawmakers in South Dakota have approved legislation drafted by trust industry insiders, protecting their customers' finances and adding additional benefits, according to the ICIJ. Over the last decade, the total dollar in these accounts has quadrupled from $57.3 billion.
"South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy," the Washington Post reported.
In 2019, for example, family members of the former vice president of the Dominican Republic, who once led one of the largest sugar producers in the country, finalized several trusts in South Dakota. The trusts held personal wealth and shares of the company, which has stood accused of human rights and labor abuses, including illegally bulldozing houses of impoverished families to expand plantations.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with a population of less than 200,000, hosts tens of millions of dollars in trusts belonging to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing, the Post reports.
South Dakota is so appealing to the ultra-rich because they want the best security, the best income, and the lowest costs, the newspaper says.
The state's laws have moved to allow for more financial security to protect asset holders, the Guardian explains. In a normal bank, the government taxes the interest earned by the account. Even if that money is protected from taxes it can still be lost through a divorce or legal proceedings.
However, in South Dakota, all assets are protected from any civil claims, the Guardian reports. Assets are not protected from criminal investigation. Because the state has no income tax, no inheritance tax, and no capital gains tax, finances there are also sheltered from the government, the outlet said.
81 of the offshore accounts detailed in the Pandora Papers are in South Dakota, making it the state in the US with the largest number of trusts from the report, according to the ICIJ.
"Trusts set up in South Dakota and many other U.S. states remain cloaked in secrecy, despite enactment this year of the federal Corporate Transparency Act, which makes it harder for owners of certain types of companies to hide their identities," the ICIJ said.
The news outlets involved are expected to publish more details from the Pandora Papers in the coming days.
ALL CLIPS
VIDEO - Ex-Austin mayors, billionaire activist George Soros add political muscle to Prop A fight | KXAN Austin
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 14:28
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- Three former Austin mayors and a Democratic billionaire activist have waded into the political battle over Proposition A.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Save Austin Now '-- the political action committee pushing the ballot measure '-- announced former mayors Lee Leffingwell, Lee Cooke and Ron Mullen have thrown their support behind the proposition, alongside current Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly.
If passed, Prop A would add hundreds of officers to Austin's police department by requiring a ratio of two officers for every 1,000 residents. As KXAN has reported, the cost could land between $271.5 million and $598.9 million over five years, according to a memo from the city's chief financial officer.
''There is nothing wrong with having too many police officers, but there is a lot wrong with having too few,'' Leffingwell said.
Opponents believe the passage of Prop A could lead to funding cuts within the fire department, along with parks, pools, and libraries.
Last week, Democratic billionaire and activist George Soros donated $500,000 to anti-proposition Equity PAC, the group behind the 'No Way on Prop A' campaign. The contribution was made through Soros' Open Society Policy Center, according to financial records.
His money, along with a $200,000 donation from the Fairness Project and $120,383 in other contributions reported in a recent campaign filing, means Equity PAC and 'No Way on Prop A' have $820,383 headed into the Nov. 2 election. Save Austin Now has raised $731,732, according to its most recent filing.
''The 115 organizations against Prop A comprise one of the largest and most diverse groups in the history of Austin politics, in addition to a growing list of 38 current and former elected officials,'' said Laura Hernandez Holmes, campaign manager for 'No Way on Prop A.'
Last week, the Austin Firefighters Association announced it would not support Prop A, saying the Austin Police Department is fully funded and already has the money to hire hundreds of more officers.
VIDEO - White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing | C-SPAN.org
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 14:15
October 6, 2021 2021-10-06T20:26:12-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/2e3/20211006150410012_hd.jpg The White House COVID-19 Response Team gave an update on federal efforts to combat the pandemic. Topics included an expansion of testing options, COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, and therapeutics.The White House COVID-19 Response Team gave an update on federal efforts to combat the pandemic. Topics included an expansion of testing options, COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, and therapeutics.
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VIDEO - E A on Twitter: "'...@adamcurry'(C) '...@joerogan'(C) that protection didn't work well'.... https://t.co/D5PvBlIwSP" / Twitter
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 12:24
E A : '...@adamcurry'(C) '...@joerogan'(C) that protection didn't work well'.... https://t.co/D5PvBlIwSP
Thu Oct 07 11:41:05 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Biden exposed as clueless by John Kerry, 'The Five' reacts - YouTube
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:35
VIDEO - Doctors Spreading COVID-19 Misinformation Should Have Licenses Revoked, Medical Board Says | Here & Now
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:02
A doctor with a stethoscope. (Getty Images) Correction: In the audio version of this story, we referred to Dr. Joseph Mercola as one of the founders of America's Frontline Doctors. Dr. Mercola is not affiliated with that group. We regret the error.
It's one thing when your barber or the guy at a hardware store announces that vaccines don't work or that 5G causes COVID-19. But what if the person spreading misinformation about a deadly virus is a doctor?
It's rare '-- but it's happening. Among the most prolific spreaders are a group called America's Frontline Doctors. The organization is small, but the audiences it attracts are outsized.
Now the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is taking action with a recommendation that medical professionals who spread coronavirus misinformation have their medical licenses revoked or suspended.
Host Robin Young discusses the issue with Humayun Chaudhry, FSMB's president, who says the consequences of spreading misinformation can be fatal.
This segment aired on September 24, 2021.
VIDEO - CDC director warns the U.S. is at risk of a severe flu season this year
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 03:59
Published Wed, Oct 6 2021 3:47 PM EDTUpdated 4 Hours Ago
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CDC influenza experts are concerned that the United States could be at risk for a severe flu season this year, Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned Wednesday.That's because the U.S. population may now have reduced immunity against influenza after flu cases reached an all-time low last year, she said.Walensky urged Americans to get vaccinated for both Covid and the flu.Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the FY 2022 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on May 19, 2021 in Washington,DC.
Jim Lo Scalzo | AFP | Getty Images
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention influenza experts are concerned that the United States could be at risk for a severe flu season this year, Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned Wednesday.
That's because the U.S. population may now have reduced immunity against influenza after seasonal flu cases reached an all-time low last year when large parts of the nation were shut down, Walensky told reporters during a White House press briefing.
During the 2020-2021 flu season, there were very few flu cases, "largely because of masking and physical distancing and other prevention measures put in place for the Covid-19 pandemic," she said.
There were around 2,000 flu cases last influenza season, according to data reported to the CDC. By comparison, the 2019-2020 flu season saw an estimated 35 million cases, according to the agency.
Walensky urged Americans to get shots for both Covid and the flu, saying vaccinations are not just important for ending the pandemic but also preventing other infectious diseases. An increase in flu infections this winter could put an additional burden on the nation's health-care system, increasing stress on health care workers who are already fighting a high number of hospitalizations due to Covid, she said.
About 69,000 Americans are currently in inpatient beds with Covid, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
"We continue to see many hospitals and intensive care units across the country at full capacity," Walensky said. "Each year in the United States, influenza can claim between 12,000 and 52,000 lives and result in 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations."
She said it is safe and effective to get vaccines for Covid and the flu at the same time.
"We need as many people as possible to be vaccinated for influenza, so that we can provide protection for those who are at most risk, such as adults who are over 65, those of any age who have chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, and children, especially under five who are at risk of severe complications from the flu," she said.
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VIDEO - Clown World Today ðŸ¤ðŸŒŽ on Twitter: "ðŸ¤ðŸŒŽ ''The US should be more like Canada'' and require vaccine passports for air and interstate travel. ''look, you can stay unvaccinated if you want, but you're not going to be able to travel to se
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 00:07
Clown World Today ðŸ¤ðŸŒŽ : ðŸ¤ðŸŒŽ ''The US should be more like Canada'' and require vaccine passports for air and interstate travel.''look, you can'... https://t.co/FBqCoVzLd3
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VIDEO - CBS Chicago Special Report: Why I Carjack; Teens Tell All '' CBS Chicago
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:34
By Irika Sargent and Carol Thompson
CHICAGO (CBS) '-- Chicago faces a carjacking crisis.
READ MORE: Huntley H.S. Dismissal Postponed, Building Placed On 'Hold In Place' Lockdown As Police Investigate 'Potential Safety Concern'The city is on pace to top last year's numbers. You've heard from victims of those crimes. You've heard from police and community leaders trying to prevent those crimes.
But, for the first time you're hearing from some of the youngest carjackers committing those crimes. They talk about why they do it, how they do it and what it will take to get them to stop.
Three teens sat down with CBS 2's Irika Sargent for a candid conversation.
We're giving them a voice, not to glamorize to take advantage of them, but to understand why they do it. Could what they say help you stay safe?
'David' is 14 years old.
''If they fight back, I drag them out of the car and get in,'' he said.
'Nicole' is 16 with a long list of carjackings on her record.
''I'd say like six. I don't know. I don't count. (laughs)''
The Crimes
There could be hundreds of teens in Chicago looking for their next victims. We know from Chicago Police data CBS 2 received through a public records request that police arrested 50 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 for carjacking. That was in the first four months of this year.
'David' had not been arrested when we talked with him over the summer. He told us he didn't have any regrets after committing his first carjacking.
Anyone anywhere can be carjacked. It's happening in dark alleys, busy parking lots, even steps away from your front door.
Victims described their carjackers: ''I could just feel her hands around my neck.'' And '''...leaned over into the car and put the gun to my head.'' And '''...put a gun to my chest and said, 'If you move, I'll kill you'.''
We've been tracking a surge in carjackings for two years with many victims shocked at the age of their attackers.
The wife of a man shot dead when teens couldn't figure out how to drive his car said through tears, ''I want my husband back. It's the worst day of my life.''
The daughter of an Army veteran beaten to death by teens said, ''It makes no sense to me.''
Chicago Police have expanded its carjacking task force twice already this year. However, without much success. Through the end of September, CPD has made arrests in just 73 of 1,203 carjackings. That's an under 6% arrest rate.
The arrest data reveals 54% of those arrested for carjackings (January through April) were 17 years old or younger.
Until now, you haven't heard from young carjackers on what motivates them to commit these crimes, how they choose their targets and if anything will make them stop.
CBS 2 set up a room to speak with the three teens. CBS 2 set it up in a way that we wouldn't see them, and they wouldn't see each other. Nothing else was off the table.
'David' is 14 Years Old
Sargent: ''What drew you to it?''
'David': ''The game. GTA.''
GTA is the longstanding, popular video game, Grand Theft Auto.
'David': ''If you don't got a car on there, you can just take the car from people. It looked fun. I wanted to do it.''
Sargent: ''Take me back that first time.''
'David': ''Me and my friends, three of us, we was walking and I told 'em 'Let's take a car.' We saw a man and we just ran and stuck him up and got in the car and drove off.''
Sargent: ''Did he seem scared, shocked to see someone so young doing it?''
'David': ''Yeah.''
Sargent: ''Would you say that it was easy?''
'David': ''Yes.''
He says getting the gun was also simple.
'David': ''People on Facebook and stuff. They sell guns.''
Sargent: ''So you were able to buy a weapon off Facebook?''
'David': ''Yes.''
Sargent: ''And do you find a lot of kids your age do that?''
'David': ''Yes.''
'Nicole' is 16 Years Old
'Nicole' carjacks for different reasons.
'Nicole': ''I had some place to go and I didn't have a way there. Sometimes I even sell a car, like get a car just to get money.''
She says being a girl works in her favor.
'Nicole': ''They wouldn't probably expect a younger aged female to be out here carjacking.''
Sargent: ''What kind of weapons do you use when you commit a carjacking?''
'Nicole': ''A knife.''
Nicole has been arrested before. But, after a short stay in juvenile detention, she was back out and back to carjacking.
Sargent: ''Is this something that you still are doing?''
'Nicole': ''Yes.''
READ MORE: 21-Year-Old Man Shot While Driving, Crashes Into Tree And Lou Malnati's Restaurant In North CenterThe Community
''In my mind there is no child that is irredeemable,'' says Tyrone Muhammad.
He spent 21 years in prison for murder. And, before that as a teenager he says ''I did the drive-by. I did the carjacking,'' Muhammad said.
Now he runs a mentoring group called Ex-Cons for Community & Social Change (ECCSC). The goal? To stop teens from landing behind bars, using his own life as a cautionary tale. Does mentoring work?
''If you don't replace their activity with something constructive., where they can see themselves making a living, then you'll never fix this problem,'' Muhammad said.
And there's a lot of work to be done.
CBS2 has been tracking carjackings in Chicago. With 1,203 carjackings so far in 2021, this year is on track to top last year's number of 1,414.
These two years together have already netted more carjackings than the pervious three years combined. 2,617 compared to 2,307. Nearly every neighborhood has been hit.
The five hardest hit communities so far this year:
Austin, 93Garfield Park, 75North Lawndale, 75Humboldt Park, 47South Shore, 44'Nicole' often targets the Loop where there have been 11 carjackings this year. That's two more than last year.
Sargent: ''What about that area makes it a prime spot?''
'Nicole' says it's all about how people act, ''They will think that it's like more safer for them'...like they don't have to worry about nobody running up on them.''
Sargent: ''Have you ever hurt someone?''
'Nicole': ''No. No. It hasn't got that far.''
Though, she admits it can quickly escalate.
Sargent: ''People are losing their lives because of this. People are paralyzed because of this. Do you think of the victims?''
'Nicole': ''I want to say yeah. But like in that moment you might not be thinking.''
Remote Learning Impact
With the increased carjackings over the past two years, could remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic be partially to blame?
'Nicole' says, ''I would sometimes go to school and sometimes I won't. If I'm feeling it or not.''
She adds, ''If I was like doing the in-person school, then it would be less of me like thinking to go carjack somebody.''
'David' says he also didn't take remote learning '''...that serious.'' He says he was ''bored.'' And, had more time on his hands to commit a carjacking.
And, recently released first day attendance numbers from Chicago Public Schools back up what 'Nicole' and 'David' said.
For the 2020-2021 school year, first day attendance was 84%. Last year, CPS started the school year remote learning. First day attendance numbers dropped 10% drop from previous years.
'Chris', 19 Years Old
'Chris', now 19, committed his first carjacking at 15. His sights set on areas like the north side and ''Neighborhoods that have low crime rate but like wealthy people,'' he said.
He also tracks the police, looking for gaps in service, ''Which area is the slowest on police cars coming around.''
Chris said he has carjacked drivers just to ride around the city. But there's another deadly reason. What he calls hot cars are often used in drive-by shootings.
Sargent: ''Has there been a time when you used a hot car for retaliation with an enemy or gang-related?''
'Chris': ''That's touchy topic. I have been in a situation where a hot car was involved.''
Chris said he recently stopped carjacking. His mother discovered what he was doing and kicked him out. He also became a father.
''She told me get yourself together and you'll be able to be here for your son. That's what really changed me,'' he said.
The Past and The Future
'Nicole' and 'David' said their families were unfortunate examples.
''Seeing my brothers go in and out of jail for this type of stuff,'' said 'Nicole'.
''I got family members that are also doing the same thing,'' said 'David'. He says that played a role in him carjacking.
Muhammad tries to change teens' paths by getting them jobs at construction sites, partnering with local businesses, pastors and legislators. But is that enough to make kids like 'David' and 'Nicole' successful?
''Absolutely not. Not without right mentors being positioned. 'Cuz the moment those young people are interrupted by feelings, anger, frustration with life they'll go back to what they know,'' said Muhammad.
While David' and 'Nicole' haven't reached a point where they want to stop carjacking, they still talk of big dreams.
'Nicole' wants to be a doctor. ''Working in UIC Hospital or something. Taking care of people or saving lives,'' she said. What does she say to people who are skeptical? How would she show them she wants to change? ''Graduate high school and go to college,'' she said.
'David' wants to own his own car dealership and feels he can accomplish that.
Reverend Robin Hood knows stories of kids like these well. He mentors teen carjackers and often partners with Muhammad.
''They're not mature enough to see the whole picture, like we would love for them to do. They don't see they can kill somebody. They don't see, they can go to jail the rest of their life,'' said Rev. Hood.
But, at this point, many don't agree with that. They want them locked up and they won't have sympathy for even the youngest children when they come with such a serious threat.
'David': ''See, I won't shoot them. If they fight back, I like, drag them out of the car and get in extra fast.''
Sargent: It's just having that thrill again that's what would make you do it again?
'David': ''Yeah.''
This is not the end of the conversation. It's a multi-layered issue with a lot of opinions. CBS 2 is committed in the coming weeks to exploring the complexities of this surge in carjackings and specifically those carjackings committed by teenagers like 'David', 'Nicole' and 'Chris'.
MORE NEWS: Police, Ald. Matt Martin To Hold Virtual Community Meeting Next Week In Wake Of 3 Rolling Gunfire, Shootout Incidents In North Center AreaYou can also watch an in-depth discussion on Facebook about this story with Irika Sargent and Erin Moriarty from CBS News' 48 Hours here.
VIDEO - WATCH: Facebook Whistleblower to Testify Before Congress
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 20:27
October 5, 2021 2021-10-05T19:59:56-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/07f/20211005202531001_hd.jpg Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified at a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection hearing on the business practices and decisions of the social media company, and how to protect children online with privacy regulations. Ms. Haugen said that as long as Facebook is hiding its research from public scrutiny, it would be unaccountable, and that congressional action is needed. Lawmakers' questions to the witness focused on how Facebook targets children and uses algorithms to promote content that the company knows is harmful.Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified at a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection hearing on the business practices'... read more
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified at a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection hearing on the business practices and decisions of the social media company, and how to protect children online with privacy regulations. Ms. Haugen said that as long as Facebook is hiding its research from public scrutiny, it would be unaccountable, and that congressional action is needed. Lawmakers' questions to the witness focused on how Facebook targets children and uses algorithms to promote content that the company knows is harmful. close
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People in this videoMore People Hosting OrganizationSenate Commerce, Science,and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data SecuritySenate Commerce, Science,and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security Featured Clips from This Video 10:28 AM Whistleblower Frances Haugen Calls on Congress to Regulate FacebookFormer Facebook Product Manager Frances Haugen calls on Congress to regulate the social media platform, saying the'...
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VIDEO - Ex-Austin mayors, billionaire activist George Soros add political muscle to Prop A fight | KXAN Austin
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 19:29
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- Three former Austin mayors and a Democratic billionaire activist have waded into the political battle over Proposition A.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Save Austin Now '-- the political action committee pushing the ballot measure '-- announced former mayors Lee Leffingwell, Lee Cooke and Ron Mullen have thrown their support behind the proposition, alongside current Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly.
If passed, Prop A would add hundreds of officers to Austin's police department by requiring a ratio of two officers for every 1,000 residents. As KXAN has reported, the cost could land between $271.5 million and $598.9 million over five years, according to a memo from the city's chief financial officer.
''There is nothing wrong with having too many police officers, but there is a lot wrong with having too few,'' Leffingwell said.
Opponents believe the passage of Prop A could lead to funding cuts within the fire department, along with parks, pools, and libraries.
Last week, Democratic billionaire and activist George Soros donated $500,000 to anti-proposition Equity PAC, the group behind the 'No Way on Prop A' campaign. The contribution was made through Soros' Open Society Policy Center, according to financial records.
His money, along with a $200,000 donation from the Fairness Project and $120,383 in other contributions reported in a recent campaign filing, means Equity PAC and 'No Way on Prop A' have $820,383 headed into the Nov. 2 election. Save Austin Now has raised $731,732, according to its most recent filing.
''The 115 organizations against Prop A comprise one of the largest and most diverse groups in the history of Austin politics, in addition to a growing list of 38 current and former elected officials,'' said Laura Hernandez Holmes, campaign manager for 'No Way on Prop A.'
Last week, the Austin Firefighters Association announced it would not support Prop A, saying the Austin Police Department is fully funded and already has the money to hire hundreds of more officers.
VIDEO - Facebook Seeking Government Action For Information Control
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 17:04
Live EP 2637-6PM FAKE FACEBOOK "WHISTLEBLOWER" IS A PSYOP TO BRING MORE GOVERNMENT CONTROLThe Pete Santilli Show - LIVE Show
VIDEO - Feminist Lawyer Calls Dave Sexist as Vaccine Mandate Debate Gets Heated | POLITICS | Rubin Report - YouTube
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 17:03
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Therapeutically administered ribonucleoside analogue MK-4482/EIDD-2801 blocks SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets | Nature Microbiology
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 16:27
AbstractThe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on human health1. Widespread community transmission has triggered stringent distancing measures with severe socio-economic consequences. Gaining control of the pandemic will depend on the interruption of transmission chains until vaccine-induced or naturally acquired protective herd immunity arises. However, approved antiviral treatments such as remdesivir and reconvalescent serum cannot be delivered orally2,3, making them poorly suitable for transmission control. We previously reported the development of an orally efficacious ribonucleoside analogue inhibitor of influenza viruses, MK-4482/EIDD-2801 (refs. 4,5), that was repurposed for use against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and is currently in phase II/III clinical trials (NCT04405570 and NCT04405739). Here, we explored the efficacy of therapeutically administered MK-4482/EIDD-2801 to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 infection and block transmission in the ferret model, given that ferrets and related members of the weasel genus transmit the virus efficiently with minimal clinical signs6,7,8,9, which resembles the spread in the human young-adult population. We demonstrate high SARS-CoV-2 burden in nasal tissues and secretions, which coincided with efficient transmission through direct contact. Therapeutic treatment of infected animals with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 twice a day significantly reduced the SARS-CoV-2 load in the upper respiratory tract and completely suppressed spread to untreated contact animals. This study identified oral MK-4482/EIDD-2801 as a promising antiviral countermeasure to break SARS-CoV-2 community transmission chains.
MainMK-4482/EIDD-2801 is the orally available pro-drug of the nucleoside analogue N4-hydroxycytidine (NHC), which has shown potent anti-influenza virus activity in mice, guinea pigs, ferrets and human airway epithelium organoids4,10,11. Acting through the induction of error catastrophe in virus replication4,12, NHC has broad-spectrum anti-RNA virus activity. In addition to ameliorating acute disease, we have demonstrated in a guinea pig transmission model that NHC effectively blocks the spread of influenza virus from infected animals to untreated contact animals11.
Several mouse models of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection have been developed, some of which were also employed to confirm the in vivo efficacy of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against betacoronaviruses13. However, human SARS-CoV-2 cannot productively infect mice without viral adaptation or introduction of human ACE2 into transgenic animals, and none of the mouse models support transmission to uninfected mice14. Spill-back of SARS-CoV-2 to farmed minks, subsequent large-scale mink-to-mink transmission and, in some cases, zoonotic transmission back to humans revealed efficient viral spread among members of the weasel genus without previous adaptation6,7,8,9. Although mink farms reported elevated animal mortality and gastrointestinal and respiratory clinical signs15, outbreak follow-up revealed continued intra-colony spread for extended periods of time9, suggesting that the acute clinical signs in the majority of infected animals may be mild. These mink field reports corroborated results obtained with experimentally infected ferrets showing that mustelids of the weasel genus transmit SARS-CoV-2 efficiently without strong clinical disease manifestation16,17. As this presentation of SARS-CoV-2 infection resembles the experience of frequently asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 spread in the human young-adult population18, ferrets represent a relevant model species to assess therapeutic impact on SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
To first validate host invasion and tissue tropism of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets, we inoculated animals intranasally with either 1'‰—'‰104 or 1'‰—'‰105'‰plaque-forming units (p.f.u.)'--low- and high-inoculum group, respectively'--of SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolate 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 per animal. The shed virus burden was monitored daily over a period of 10'‰d. The virus load in the upper and lower respiratory tract was determined for two animals from each inoculum group on days four and ten after infection, respectively.
Virus release from the upper respiratory tract peaked three days after infection and was undetectable by day seven in the animals of the high-inoculum group (Fig. 1a and Supplementary Table 1). Infection of animals in the low-inoculum group was less efficient. The shedding profiles correlated closely with the infectious particle load in nasal turbinates; a heavy virus tissue burden in the high-inoculum group was present on day four, which decreased substantially by approximately four orders of magnitude by day ten (Fig. 1b and Supplementary Table 2).
Fig. 1: SARS-CoV-2 infects the upper respiratory tract of ferrets.Ferrets (n'‰='‰4 biologically independent animals) were intranasally inoculated with either 1'‰—'‰104 or 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020. a, Virus titre in nasal lavages collected daily. LOD, limit of detection. b''f, At 4 and 10'‰d post infection, two ferrets from each group were killed and the infection was characterized. b, Number of infectious virus particles in the nasal turbinates. c, Viral RNA was present in the nasal turbinates of all of the infected ferrets. d, Number of viral RNA copies, determined using quantitative PCR with reverse transcription (RT''qPCR), in select organs extracted from infected ferrets 4 or 10'‰d after infection. Two lung lobes (right (R.) and left (L.) cranial) per animal; SI, small intestine; LI, large intestine. e, Detection of 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 RNA in rectal swabs of ferrets inoculated with 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. RNA was extracted from the rectal swabs and the absolute copy numbers were determined using RT''qPCR. f, Body weight of ferrets, measured daily and expressed as a percentage of their weight at day 0. g, CBC analysis, performed every second day. No noticeable differences were detected for any of the parameters tested, including total white blood cells (WBCs), lymphocytes, neutrophils and platelets. The shaded green areas represent the range of normal Vetscan HM5 laboratory values. h''l, Select interferon and cytokine responses in PBMCs harvested every two days after infection. Analysis by RT''qPCR relative to day 0 for animals infected with 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020. h,i, The infected ferrets displayed elevated expression of ifn-β (h) and ifn-Î" (i). j, Only some animals had moderately elevated levels of il-6. k,l, The interferon-stimulated genes mx1 (k; P'‰='‰0.0192 on day 4) and isg15 (l; P'‰='‰0.009 and P'‰<'‰0.0001 on days 2 and 4, respectively) showed a sharp peak on day 4 after infection. The number of independent biological repeats (n, individual animals) is shown for each subpanel. Statistical analysis was performed using a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Dunnett's post-hoc multiple comparison test. Symbols represent independent biological repeats (individual animals), lines connect the group mean'‰±'‰s.d. (a,e''l) and bar graphs show the mean (b''d).
Source data
Infection with a low concentration of inoculum resulted in low virus loads in the turbinates on day 4 and undetectable burden thereafter. However, quantitation of viral RNA copy numbers in the turbinates using RT''qPCR revealed the continued presence of moderate (approximately 104'‰copies'‰g''1 tissue) to high ('‰¥107'‰copies'‰g''1 tissue) virus loads in the groups with low and high inoculums, respectively (Fig. 1c and Supplementary Table 3). Irrespective of the inoculum concentration, no infectious particles were detected in bronchoalveolar lavages or lung tissue samples (Extended Data Fig. 1). Several organ samples (lungs, heart, kidneys and liver) were also RT''qPCR-negative on both days 4 and 10 (Fig. 1d), confirming inefficient infection of the ferret lower respiratory tract and limited systemic host invasion. Only the small and large intestine samples were PCR-positive on day 4 after infection, and rectal swabs showed continued low-grade shedding of viral genetic material (Fig. 1e and Supplementary Table 4).
The animals in the high-inoculum group experienced a transient drop in body weight that reached a low plateau on days 5''6 after infection but recovered fully by the end of the study (Fig. 1f and Supplementary Table 5). One animal in the low-inoculum group showed a gradual slight reduction in body weight until the end of the study (day 10). No other clinical signs, such as fever or respiratory discharge, were noted. The complete blood counts (CBCs) taken every second day revealed no significant deterioration from the normal range in the overall white-blood-cell counts as well as lymphocyte, neutrophil and platelet populations of either inoculum group (Fig. 1g and Supplementary Table 6). The relative expression levels of type I and II interferon in the ferret peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) sampled at 48-h intervals reached a plateau approximately 3'‰d after infection and stayed moderately elevated until the end of the study (Fig. 1h,i and Supplementary Table 7). IL-6 levels were moderately elevated in some animals but these changes did not reach statistical significance (Fig. 1j). However, we noted a prominent expression peak of select interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) with antiviral effector function (MX1 and ISG15) 4'‰d after infection, followed by a return to baseline expression by the end of the study (Fig. 1k,l).
Before in vivo efficacy evaluation, we validated the potency of NHC against the SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolate 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 in cell culture (Fig. 2a). Four-parameter variable slope regression modelling of the dose-response data revealed 50 and 90% effective concentrations (EC50 and EC90, respectively) of approximately 3.4'‰µM and 5.4'‰µM, respectively, which is within an approximately sixfold range of potency data reported for other human betacoronaviruses19. Based on these results, ferrets were infected with 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. per animal in the subsequent MK-4482/EIDD-2801 efficacy tests and the levels of infectious virions in nasal lavages were determined twice daily (Fig. 2b). The viral burden in respiratory tissues was assessed 4'‰d after infection. In all treatment experiments, MK-4482/EIDD-2801 was administered twice a day (b.i.d.) through oral gavage. Dosing commenced 12'‰h after infection at 5 or 15'‰mg'‰kg''1'‰body weight, or 36'‰h after infection at 15'‰mg'‰kg''1. The titres of shed virus in the nasal lavages were equivalent in all MK-4482/EIDD-2801 groups and vehicle-treated controls at the time of the first treatment (12'‰h after infection), indicating uniform inoculation of all animals in the study (Fig. 2c and Extended Data Fig. 2a). Initiation of therapy at the 12-h time point resulted in a significant reduction (P'‰<'‰0.001) of the shed virus load within 12'‰h, independently of the MK-4482/EIDD-2801 dose administered, and infectious particles became undetectable within 24'‰h of the start of treatment. When first administered at the peak of virus shedding (36'‰h after infection), MK-4482/EIDD-2801 completely suppressed the release of infectious virions into nasal lavages within a slightly longer period of 36'‰h, whereas the vehicle control animals continued to shed infectious particles until the study end.
Fig. 2: Therapeutic MK-4482/EIDD-2801 is orally efficacious against SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets.a, Dose-response inhibition test of NHC against SARS-CoV-2 in Vero E6 cells (multiplicity of infection of 0.1'‰p.f.u. per cell; n'‰='‰3 biologically independent experiments). The effective concentrations (EC50 and EC90, shown with the upper 95% confidence interval limit in parenthesis) were derived from four-parameter variable slope regression modelling. b, Schematic of the therapeutic efficacy study. Ferrets (n'‰='‰3 biologically independent animals) were infected intranasally with 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 and either gavaged with vehicle or treated b.i.d. with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 commencing 12 (5'‰mg'‰kg''1 and 15'‰mg'‰kg''1) or 36'‰h (15'‰mg'‰kg''1) after infection. Nasal lavages were collected twice a day and blood was collected every other day. Yellow circles represent SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2-infected source animals. c, Viral titres of the nasal lavages of the infected ferrets from b. Treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 significantly reduced the virus titres within 12'‰h of dosing onset in all treatment groups. Statistical analysis was performed using a two-way ANOVA with Dunnett's multiple comparison post-hoc test. d,e, Infectious particle (d) and viral RNA copy (e) numbers in the nasal turbinates of infected ferrets extracted 4'‰d after infection. Statistical analysis was performed using a one-way ANOVA with Dunnett's multiple comparison post-hoc test. c''e, P values are shown; NS, not significant; p.i., post infection. The number of independent biological repeats is shown for each panel. Symbols represent independent biological repeats (individual animals), lines connect the group mean'‰±'‰s.d. (a,c) and bar graphs show the mean'‰±'‰s.d. (d,e).
Source data
Only the vehicle-treated animals carried detectable virus burden in their nasal turbinates 3.5'‰d after infection (Fig. 2d and Extended Data Fig. 2b), indicating that MK-4482/EIDD-2801 had silenced all SARS-CoV-2 replication. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was still detectable in the nasal tissues extracted from animals in all groups, albeit significantly reduced (P'‰='‰0.0089 and 0.0081 for the 5 and 15'‰mg'‰kg''1 MK-4482/EIDD-2801 groups, respectively) in the treated animals versus the vehicle controls (Fig. 2e and Extended Data Fig. 2c). The animals in the 12-h therapeutic groups showed a significant reduction (P'‰'‰¤'‰0.044) in effector ISG expression compared with the vehicle-treated animals, although no significant differences in relative interferon and IL-6 induction were observed (Extended Data Fig. 3a''f).
These results demonstrate the oral efficacy of therapeutic administration of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against acute SARS-CoV-2 infection in the ferret model. Consistent with our previous pharmacokinetic and toxicology work-up of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 in ferrets, treatment did not cause any phenotypically overt adverse effects, and the white-blood-cell and platelet counts of the drug-experienced animals remained within the normal range (Extended Data Fig. 4).
SARS-CoV-2 shedding into the upper respiratory tract of ferrets establishes conditions for the productive spread from the infected source to uninfected contact animals16,17. To assess transmission efficiency, we co-housed intranasally infected source animals with two uninfected contact animals each for a period of 3'‰d, starting 30'‰h after the inoculation of the source animal (Fig. 3a). Nasal lavages and rectal swabs were obtained daily from all of the animals and blood was sampled at the start of the study and on days four and eight after the original infection. The viral burden and RNA copy numbers in the respiratory tissues were determined at the end of the co-housing phase (source animals) and at study termination (contact animals).
Fig. 3: Therapeutic oral treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 prevents contact transmission.a, Schematic of the contact transmission study. Two groups of source ferrets (n'‰='‰3 biologically independent animals each) were infected with 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 and received MK-4482/EIDD-2801 treatment (5'‰mg'‰kg''1'‰b.i.d.) or vehicle starting 12'‰h after infection. At 30'‰h after infection, each source ferret was co-housed with two uninfected untreated contact ferrets. The source animals were euthanized after 3'‰d, and the contact ferrets were isolated and monitored for 4'‰d. Nasal lavages and rectal swabs were collected once a day and blood was sampled at 0, 4 and 8'‰d post infection. b, Source ferrets treated with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 had significantly lower virus titres than the vehicle animals 12'‰h after treatment commencement (P'‰='‰0.0003). The contacts of the vehicle-treated sources began to shed 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 within 20'‰h of co-housing. No virus could be detected in the untreated contacts of the source ferrets treated with MK-4482/EIDD-2801. Statistical analysis was performed using a two-way ANOVA with Sidak's multiple comparison post-hoc test; P values are shown. c,d, Infectious particle (c) and viral RNA copy (d) numbers in the nasal turbinates of the source and contact ferrets from b extracted 4 and 8'‰d after the start of the study, respectively. Statistical analysis was performed using a one-way ANOVA with Sidak's multiple comparison post-hoc test (c, P'‰<'‰0.0001 for intergroup comparison of contact animals; d, P'‰='‰0.0002 and P'‰<'‰0.0001 for intergroup comparisons of the source and contract animals, respectively). e,f, Viral RNA copy number in the small (SI) and large (LI) intestine (e), and rectal swabs (f). The samples from the source ferrets treated with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 and their contacts were PCR-negative for viral RNA. Statistical analysis was performed using a one-way (e) or two-way (f) ANOVA with Sidak's multiple comparison post-hoc test. The samples being compared in the post-hoc tests (c''f) have been colour-coded black or red for the vehicle-treated source and contact ferrets, respectively. The number of independent biological repeats is shown for each panel. P values are shown. Symbols represent independent biological repeats (individual animals), lines connect the group mean'‰±'‰s.d. (b,f) and bar graphs show the mean'‰±'‰s.d. (c''e).
Source data
Infectious particles first emerged in the nasal lavages of some contact animals 24'‰h after the start of co-housing (Fig. 3b and Supplementary Table 8). By the end of the co-housing phase, all contact animals were infected and approached the peak virus-replication phase, demonstrating that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among ferrets is rapid and highly efficient.
A second cohort of source animals inoculated in parallel with SARS-CoV-2 received oral MK-4482/EIDD-2801 at a dose of 5'‰mg'‰kg''1'‰body weight, administered b.i.d. starting 12'‰h after infection. Productive infection of these animals was validated by the titres of SARS-CoV-2 in the nasal lavages 1'‰d after infection (Fig. 3b), which very closely matched those seen in the initial efficacy tests (Fig. 2c). Although we also co-housed the treated source animals with two untreated contacts each for nearly 3'‰d, no infectious SARS-CoV-2 particles were detected in any of the series of nasal lavages obtained from these contacts throughout the study or in any of the nasal turbinates sampled from the contact animal at end of the study (Fig. 3c and Supplementary Table 9).
The nasal turbinates extracted from the contacts of the vehicle-treated source animals contained high copy numbers of viral RNA, underscoring successful host invasion after transmission (Fig. 3d and Supplementary Table 10). Consistent with our earlier observations, the turbinates of the treated source animals harboured moderate-to-high ('‰¥105'‰copies'‰g''1 tissue) levels of viral RNA, although infectious particles could not be detected. In contrast, all respiratory tissues of the contacts co-housed with the source animals treated with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 remained SARS-CoV-2-genome free, indicating an absence of any low-grade virus replication that could have hypothetically progressed in these animals below the detection level of infectious particles (Fig. 3e,f and Supplementary Tables 11,12). Furthermore, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was present at low copy numbers in the intestinal tissue samples and rectal swabs of the vehicle source animals as well as their contacts but undetectable in the MK-4482/EIDD-2801-treated source group and co-housed contact animals.
Phylogenetic analysis of outbreaks in mink farms revealed prolonged intra-colony circulation and zoonotic mink-to-human transmission9, leading us to select ferrets'--members of the weasel genus closely related to minks'--as a SARS-CoV-2 transmission model. We noted that the experimental infection of ferrets was strongly dependent on the amount of viral inoculum used. Productive host invasion was only observed after intranasal delivery of 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. SARS-CoV-2. The shed SARS-CoV-2 load in ferret nasal lavages, a core virological marker of a transmission model, showed good cross-study consistency. Our experiments returned peak shed virus titres of 1'‰—'‰103''1'‰—'‰104'‰p.f.u.'‰ml''1, closely resembling the ferret lavage titres found in two previous studies, which reported up to 1'‰—'‰104'‰p.f.u.'‰ml''1 (ref. 20) and 1'‰—'‰103'‰median tissue culture infectious dose'‰ml''1 (ref. 21) in nasal lavages, respectively.
Natural infection through direct contact was highly efficient, possibly reflecting the prolonged exposure of contact to source animals in a confined space. However, nearly all contacts started to shed virus within less than 24'‰h after the beginning of co-housing. This timeline indicates that transmission must have occurred shortly after the introduction of contact to the source animals, despite the fact that the shed viral titres of the source animals were only 1'‰—'‰103'‰p.f.u.'‰ml''1 nasal lavage in this disease period. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between ferrets through the air has recently been demonstrated22. Our results underscore that natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 through large droplets, aerosols and/or fomites is highly productive.
MK-4482/EIDD-2801 is currently being tested in advanced multi-centre clinical trials, which were launched after the successful completion of phase I safety trials (that is, NCT04392219). Although the dosages applied in these studies and human pharmacokinetic data have not yet been disclosed, Merck & Co. have revealed23 that NHC reached levels in human blood that were safe and exceeded antiviral concentrations against SARS-CoV-2 in primary human airway epithelia cultures (NHC EC90 of approximately 0.5''1'‰Î¼M; ref. 13). Our pharmacokinetic profiles for MK-4482/EIDD-2801 revealed that NHC plasma concentrations '‰¥0.5'‰Î¼M at trough (12'‰h after dosing based on a b.i.d. regimen) are reached after oral doses of approximately 130 and 10'‰mg'‰kg''1 were administered to cynomolgus macaques and ferrets, respectively4. These calculations drove our decision to dose ferrets with the 5'‰mg'‰kg''1 dose used in this study, which represents a conservative estimate of a safe human-dose equivalent based on all of the available information. Underscoring the high broad-spectrum antiviral potential of the drug, 5'‰mg'‰kg''1 is also close to the lowest efficacious dose of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses in ferrets4,10.
Closely resembling our previous experience with influenza therapy4,10, MK-4482/EIDD-2801 was well tolerated and orally efficacious against SARS-CoV-2, reducing the upper respiratory virus load to below the detection level within 24'‰h of the first drug administration when therapy was initiated after the onset of virus shedding and by nearly two orders of magnitude when first administered at the peak of virus replication. Similarly, viral genetic material was undetectable in the gastrointestinal samples of the treated animals, which is consistent with previous observations of a sustained presence of the biologically active triphosphate form of NHC in all soft tissue, except liver, in different species4,12,24.
Importantly, treatment suppressed all transmission to the untreated direct contacts despite a prolonged direct proximity of the source and contact animals as well as detectable virus shedding from the source animals at the beginning of the co-housing phase. This complete block may indicate a bottom threshold of the shed SARS-CoV-2 load for successful spread. In addition, the genome integrity of some EIDD-2801-experienced virions shed from the treated animals may have been only partially compromised. Rather than being chain-terminating when incorporated by the viral polymerase, NHC undergoes spontaneous tautomeric interconversions, leading to base pairing either as cytosine or uracil25. The resulting randomly positioned transition mutations induce viral error catastrophe26, causing a collapse of the virus population. This mechanism of antiviral activity of NHC was demonstrated for alphaviruses12, pneumoviruses11 and orthomyxoviruses4, and confirmed to equally apply to betacoronaviruses19 and specifically SARS-CoVs13. In our study, a limited presence of the analogue in the viral genomes generated shortly after the start of treatment may have had a greater impact on natural invasion of an immune-competent host in vivo than on virus replication in type I interferon-deficient cultured cells such as the Vero E6 used for titration27. This view is consistent with the frequent observation (such as in ref. 28) that many mutant viruses can be propagated in cell culture but are attenuated in vivo and incapable of productive host invasion.
Consistent with the conserved antiviral mechanism of action of NHC across diverse viral targets, several previous attempts to induce robust resistance to the compound in alphaviruses12, orthomyxoviruses4 and betacoronaviruses19 were unsuccessful, indicating a high genetic barrier against viral escape. For betacoronaviruses specifically, a very moderate twofold increase in the EC90 concentration was reported after 30 passages in the presence of inhibitor19. Given that these mutations delayed viral replication and thus posed a fitness penalty, it is unlikely that clinical use of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 will result in the emergence of pre-existing resistance in circulating virus populations or trigger the appearance of viral variants with enhanced pathogenicity.
Our previous studies with influenza viruses in ferrets4 and guinea pigs11 furthermore demonstrate that the antiviral efficacy and transmission block by MK-4482/EIDD-2801 are not host-species restricted. A virological study of hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) revealed that the average load of SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies detected in human sputum during the peak phase of infection is 7.0'‰—'‰106'‰copies'‰ml''1 (maximum of 2.35'‰—'‰109'‰copies'‰ml''1)29. Attempts at virus isolation from human patients were generally unsuccessful when the samples contained <1'‰—'‰106'‰RNA copies'‰ml''1. In ferrets, we found peak shedding titres of 1'‰—'‰103''1'‰—'‰104'‰p.f.u.'‰ml''1 in the nasal lavages and an earlier study reported that SARS-CoV-2 concentrations of up to 1'‰—'‰104'‰p.f.u.'‰ml''1 ferret nasal lavage correlates to up to 1'‰—'‰108'‰viral RNA copies'‰ml''1 (ref. 20). These comparisons suggest that the peak viral RNA copy load in ferret nasal lavages recapitulates that seen in human sputum. At present, the tissue distribution and antiviral efficacy of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 in humans are still unknown. If ferret-based inhibition data of SARS-CoV-2 transmission are predictive of the effect in humans, however, patients with COVID-19 could become non-infectious within 24''36'‰h after the onset of oral treatment. Treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801, in particular when initiated early after infection, thus has the potential to provide threefold benefits: it may mitigate the risk of progression to severe disease and accelerate recovery, ease the emotional and socio-economic toll associated with mandatory prolonged isolation and aid in rapidly silencing local outbreaks.
MethodsStudy designFerrets (Mustela putorius furo) were used as an in vivo model to examine the efficacy of therapeutically administered oral MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against SARS-CoV-2 infection and virus transmission to uninfected contact animals. Viruses were administered to source animals through intranasal inoculation and the virus loads in nasal lavages and rectal swabs were monitored periodically as well as in respiratory tissues and a subset of organs 4 or 10'‰d after exposure. The virus titres were determined based on plaque assays and viral RNA copy numbers; blood samples were subjected to CBC analysis and RT''qPCR quantitation of the expression levels of select cytokine and innate antiviral effectors.
Cells and virusesVero E6 cells were obtained from the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC CRLK-1586) and cultured in DMEM medium supplemented with 7.5% heat-inactivated fetal bovine serum (FBS) at 37'‰°C with 5% CO2. SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020) was propagated using Vero E6 cells supplemented with 2% FBS. The virus stocks were stored at ''80'‰°C and titres were determined by plaque assay. Vero E6 cells were authenticated by morphology and susceptibility to virus infection, and routinely checked for bacterial and mycoplasma contamination at intervals of 6'‰months.
Virus yield reduction assayVero E6 cells were seeded in 12-well plates (3'‰—'‰105'‰cells per well) 24'‰h before infection. The cells were infected using a multiplicity of infection of 0.1'‰p.f.u. per cell. SARS-CoV-2 was allowed to adsorb for 1'‰h at 37'‰°C. Subsequently, the virus inoculum was removed and the cells were overlaid with medium containing threefold serial dilutions of NHC (50''0.68'‰µM) in DMEM supplemented with 2% FBS. The infected cells were incubated with compound for 48'‰h at 37'‰°C, followed by virus titration by plaque assay. The EC50 and EC90 concentrations were calculated using four-parameter variable slope regression modelling.
Plaque assaySamples were serially diluted (tenfold dilutions starting at a 1:10 initial dilution) in DMEM medium supplemented with 2% FBS containing Antibiotic-Antimycotic (Gibco). The serial dilutions were added to Vero E6 cells seeded in 12-well plates at 3'‰—'‰105'‰cells per well 24'‰h previously. The virus was allowed to adsorb for 1'‰h at 37'‰°C. Subsequently, the inoculum was removed and the cells were overlaid with 1.2% Avicel (FMC BioPolymer) in DMEM and incubated for 3'‰d at 37'‰°C with 5% CO2. The Avicel was removed and the cells were washed once with PBS, fixed with 10% neutral buffered formalin and plaques were visualized using 1% crystal violet.
Establishing the infectious doseFemale ferrets (6''10'‰months of age) were purchased from Triple F Farms. The ferrets were rested for 1'‰week following arrival, and then randomly assigned to groups and housed individually in ventilated negative-pressure cages in an ABSL-3 facility. To establish a suitable inoculum for the efficacy and transmission studies, the ferrets (n'‰='‰4) were inoculated intranasally with 1'‰—'‰104 and 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 in 1'‰ml (0.5'‰ml per nare). The ferrets were anaesthetized with dexmedetomidine/ketamine before inoculation. Nasal lavages were performed on non-anaesthetized animals once a day using 1'‰ml PBS containing twofold concentrated Antibiotic-Antimycotic (Gibco). The nasal lavage fluids were stored at ''80'‰°C until virus titration through plaque assays on Vero E6 cells. For blood sampling, the ferrets were anaesthetized with dexmedetomidine and approximately 0.5'‰ml blood was drawn from the anterior vena cava. A Vetscan HM5 (Abaxis) was used to perform CBCs in accordance with the manufacturer's protocol. Rectal swabs were performed every 2'‰d. Groups of two ferrets were killed 4 and 10'‰d post infection and their organs were harvested to determine the virus titres and presence of viral RNA in different tissues.
AnimalsThe group sizes were three ferrets per condition for all animal experiments. A power calculation (P'‰<'‰0.05; 80% power) predicted that this sample size was sufficient to detect a difference of 1.19'‰log10'‰p.f.u.'‰ml''1 in virus titre in ferret nasal lavages. As no statistically informative reference datasets for the SARS-CoV-2 ferret model were available at the start of the study, we based this prospective calculation on our experience with a canine distemper virus ferret infection model that has shown a cumulative s.d. of 0.32 in our laboratory. In the transmission experiments, the ferrets were co-housed at a ratio of one source to two contact animals, three co-housing sets per condition. Incoming animals were randomly assigned to the different study groups; no blinding of investigators was performed.
In vivo efficacy of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 in ferretsThe groups of ferrets were inoculated with 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 in 1'‰ml (0.5'‰ml per nare). At 12'‰h after infection, three groups of ferrets were treated b.i.d. with vehicle (1% methylcellulose) or MK-4482/EIDD-2801 at a dosage of 5 or 15'‰mg'‰kg''1, respectively. At 36'‰h after infection, a fourth group of ferrets began receiving b.i.d. treatment with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 at a dose of 15'‰mg'‰kg''1. The compound was administered via oral gavage in 1% methylcellulose. After the start of treatment, b.i.d. dosing was continued until 4'‰d after infection. Nasal lavages were performed on all of the ferrets every 12'‰h. Blood samples were obtained every 2'‰d after infection and stored in K2-EDTA tubes (Sarstedt CB 300). CBC analysis was performed on each blood sample in accordance with the manufacturer's protocols. After the CBC analysis, the red blood cells were lysed with ACK buffer (150'‰mM NH4Cl, 10'‰mM KHCO3 and 0.01'‰mM EDTA pH'‰7.4) and the PBMCs were harvested and stored at ''80'‰°C in RNAlater until further RT''qPCR analysis was performed. All of the ferrets were euthanized 4'‰d after infection and their organs were harvested to determine the virus titres and presence of viral RNA in different tissues.
Contact transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in ferretsA group of six source ferrets, which were housed individually, were inoculated intranasally with 1'‰—'‰105'‰p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020. Twelve hours after infection, the source ferrets were split into two groups (n'‰='‰3 each) receiving vehicle or MK-4482/EIDD-2801 treatment at a dose of 5'‰mg'‰kg''1 b.i.d. by oral gavage. At 30'‰h post infection, each source ferret was co-housed with two uninfected and untreated contact ferrets. The ferrets were co-housed until 96'‰h after infection, when the source ferrets were euthanized and the contact animals were housed individually. The contact animals were monitored for 4'‰d after separation from the source ferrets and then killed. Nasal lavages and rectal swabs were performed on all of the ferrets every 24'‰h. Blood samples were collected at 0, 4 and 8'‰d after the source ferret infection. For all ferrets, organs were harvested to determine the virus titres and the presence of viral RNA in different tissues.
Titration of SARS-CoV-2 in tissue extractsFor virus titration, the organs were weighed and homogenized in PBS. The homogenates were centrifuged at 2,000g for 5'‰min at 4'‰°C. The clarified supernatants were harvested and used in subsequent plaque assays. For detection of viral RNA, the harvested organs were stored in RNAlater at ''80'‰°C. The tissues were ground and the total RNA was extracted using an RNeasy mini kit (Qiagen). RNA was extracted from the rectal swabs using a ZR viral RNA kit (Zymo Research) in accordance with the manufacturer's protocols.
SARS-CoV-2 RNA copy numbersDetection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA was performed using the nCoV_IP2 primer''probe set (National Reference Center for Respiratory Viruses, Institut Pasteur) targeting the SARS-CoV-2 RdRp gene. An Applied Biosystems 7500 real-time PCR system using the StepOnePlus real-time PCR system was used to perform the RT''qPCR reactions. TaqMan fast virus 1-step master mix (Thermo Fisher Scientific) was used in combination with the nCoV_IP2 primer''probe set to detect viral RNA. To quantitate the RNA copy numbers, a standard curve was created using a PCR fragment (nucleotides 12669''14146 of the SARS-CoV-2 genome) generated from viral complementary DNA using the nCoV_IP2 forward primer and the nCoV_IP4 reverse primer. The RNA values were normalized to the weights of the tissues used.
Systemic interferon and cytokine profilingThe relative expression of interferon, ISGs and cytokines was determined by real-time PCR analysis. RNA was extracted from PBMCs that were harvested at various time points after infection. Complementary DNA was reverse transcribed with SuperScript III (Invitrogen) using oligo-dT primers and analysed by real-time PCR using Fast SYBR Green master mix (Applied Biosystems). The signals were normalized to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase messenger RNA, analysed using the comparative threshold cycle (Î--Î--Ct) method and expressed relative to day 0 of infection for each respective animal. The sequences of the primers used for the analyses are shown in Supplementary Table 13.
Statistics and reproducibilityThe Microsoft Excel (versions 16.42 and 16.43) and GraphPad Prism (version 8.4.3) software packages were used for most of the data collection and analysis, respectively. Reverse transcription RT''qPCR data were collected and analysed using the StepOnePlus (version 2.1; Applied Biosystems) software package. The final figures were assembled using Adobe Illustrator (version CS6). One- or two-way ANOVAs with Dunnett's, Tukey's or Sidak's multiple comparisons post-hoc tests without further adjustments were used to evaluate statistical significance when more than two groups were compared or datasets contained two independent variables, respectively. The specific statistical test applied to individual studies is specified in the figure legends. The Source Data files summarize the statistical analyses (effect size, degrees of freedom and P values) of the respective datasets. Effect sizes between groups in the ANOVAs were calculated as η2'‰='‰(SSeffect)'‰/'‰(SStotal) for one-way ANOVA and ω2'‰='‰(SSeffect'‰'''‰(dfeffect)(MSerror))'‰/'‰MSerror'‰+'‰SStotal for two-way ANOVA; SSeffect, sum of squares for the effect; SStotal, sum of squares for total; dfeffect, degrees of freedom for the effect; MSerror, mean squared error. To determine the antiviral potency and cytotoxicity, the effective concentrations were calculated from dose-response datasets through four-parameter variable slope regression modelling; the values have been expressed with 95% confidence intervals when possible. A biological repeat refers to measurements taken from distinct samples, and the results obtained for each individual biological repeat are shown in the figures along with the exact size (n, number) of biologically independent samples, animals or independent experiments. The measure of the centre (connecting lines and columns) is the mean throughout. The error bars represent the s.d. throughout. For all experiments, the statistical significance level α was set to <0.05; exact P values are shown in individual graphs or Supplementary Tables wherever possible.
Ethics statementAll animal work was performed in compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health and the Animal Welfare Act Code of Federal Regulations. Experiments with SARS-CoV-2 involving ferrets were approved by the Georgia State Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee under protocol A20031. All experiments using infectious SARS-CoV-2 were approved by the Georgia State Institutional Biosafety Committee under protocol B20016 and performed in BSL-3/ABSL-3 facilities at the Georgia State University.
Reporting SummaryFurther information on research design is available in the Nature Research Reporting Summary linked to this article.
Data availabilityAll of the data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article. Source data are provided with this paper.
Code availabilityThis study does not use custom codes. All of the commercial computer codes and algorithms used are specified in the Methods section.
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AcknowledgementsWe thank M. Kumar for providing an aliquot of 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 stock, members of the GSU High Containment Core and the Department for Animal Research for support, and J. Sourimant and A. L. Hammond for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported, in part, by Public Health Service grant nos AI071002 (to R.K.P.) and AI141222 (to R.K.P.) from the NIH/NIAID. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and interpretation or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Author informationAuthor notes These authors contributed equally: Robert M. Cox, Josef D. Wolf.
AffiliationsInstitute for Biomedical Sciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA
Robert M. Cox, Josef D. Wolf & Richard K. Plemper
ContributionsR.M.C. and J.D.W. performed the virus-stock preparations; animal inoculations; sampling and necropsies; contributed to the experiment design, data analysis and presentation; and edited the manuscript. R.M.C. performed all of the RT''qPCR experiments and analyses. J.D.W. performed all of the CBC analyses. R.K.P. conceived, designed and coordinated the study; conceived and designed experiments; contributed to the animal inoculations and necropsies; contributed to data analysis and presentation; and wrote the manuscript.
Corresponding authorCorrespondence to Richard K. Plemper.
Ethics declarations Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing interests.
Additional informationPeer review statement Nature Microbiology thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.
Publisher's note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Extended dataExtended Data Fig. 1 SARS-CoV-2 does not progress to the ferret lower respiratory tract.Ferrets were inoculated intranasally with 1'‰—'‰104 (blue) or 1'‰—'‰105 p.f.u. (black) of 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020. a, Analysis of bronchioalveolar lavages (BALF) and four lung lobes (right (R.) and left (L.) cranial and caudal) per ferret. BALF and tissues samples were harvested 4 (n'‰='‰2 biologically independent animals) and 10 (n'‰='‰2 biologically independent animals) days after infection. The number of independent biological repeats is shown. Symbols represent independent biological repeats (individual animals).
Source data
Extended Data Fig. 2 Experimental means and intergroup comparison of in vivo efficacy study results of MK-4482/EIDD-2801 in SARS-CoV-2-infected ferrets.a, Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 titres in nasal lavages of SARS-CoV-2 infected ferrets treated with different doses and dosing regimens. Mean virus titres ± SD are shown for different study days (days pI). LOD was 10 p.f.u. (a-b). Samples below LOD were plotted as 9 p.f.u. b, SARS-CoV-2 titres in nasal turbinates of ferrets from (a). Mean virus titres ± SD are shown. L.O.D. was 10 p.f.u. (a-b). c, Viral RNA detected in nasal turbinates of ferrets from (a). Mean RNA copy numbers ± SD are shown. Statistical significance was determined between different treatment groups. LOD was 1 RNA copy, samples below LOD were plotted as 1 RNA copy. Statistical analysis was performed by two-way (a) or one-way (b-c) ANOVA with Tukey's multiple comparison post-hoc test. P values are shown. (*) denotes samples where one or two repeats were below LOD. (**) denotes all three repeats for at least one dosing group were below LOD.
Source data
Extended Data Fig. 3 Interferon induction and cytokine profiling of SARS-CoV-2 ferrets treated with MK-4482/EIDD-2801.Ferrets (n'‰='‰3 biologically independent animals) were infected intranasally with 1'‰—'‰105 p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 and either gavaged with vehicle (black (a-f)) or treated b.i.d. with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 commencing 12 (5'‰mg/kg (blue (a-f)) and 15'‰mg/kg (orange (a-f)) or 36-hours (15'‰mg/kg; red (a-f)) after infection. a-f, Selected interferon and cytokine expression levels in PBMCs relative to day 0. Blood samples of animals treated with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 or vehicle as specified were collected every two days after infection and PBMCs analysed by RT-qPCR. Statistical analysis of changes relative to day 0 by two-way ANOVA with Dunnett's post-hoc multiple comparison test. The number of independent biological repeats (n; individual animals) is shown. In all panels, symbols represent independent biological repeats (individual animals), lines connect group means ± SD.
Source data
Extended Data Fig. 4 Complete blood count of SARS-CoV-2 ferrets treated with MK-4482/EIDD-2801.Ferrets (n'‰='‰3 biologically independent animals) were infected intranasally with 1'‰—'‰105 p.f.u. 2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020 and either gavaged with vehicle (black (a-f)) or treated b.i.d. with MK-4482/EIDD-2801 commencing 12 (5'‰mg/kg (blue (a-f)) and 15'‰mg/kg (orange (a-f)) or 36-hours (15'‰mg/kg; red (a-f)) after infection. a-d, Blood samples were collected every two days after infection and complete blood counts determined. No abnormal values were observed in all parameters tested, including total WBCs (a), lymphocytes (b), neutrophils (c), and platelets (d). The shaded green areas represent normal Vetscan HM5 lab values. The number of independent biological repeats (n; individual animals) is shown for each subpanel. Symbols represent independent biological repeats (individual animals), lines connect group means ± SD.
Source data
Supplementary informationAbout this articleCite this articleCox, R.M., Wolf, J.D. & Plemper, R.K. Therapeutically administered ribonucleoside analogue MK-4482/EIDD-2801 blocks SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets. Nat Microbiol 6, 11''18 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-020-00835-2
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Received : 03 November 2020
Accepted : 18 November 2020
Published : 03 December 2020
Issue Date : January 2021
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-020-00835-2
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VIDEO - User Clip: Fauci & Bright - Universal Flu Vax Scenario for mRNA Vax & COVID | C-SPAN.org
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November 1, 2019 | Clip Of Universal Flu Vaccine This clip, title, and description were not created by C-SPAN.2019-11-01T16:16:42-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/ae6/20191101164555002_hd.jpg Fauci & Bright - Universal Flu Vax Scenario for mRNA Vax & COVIDFauci & Bright - Universal Flu Vax Scenario for mRNA Vax & COVID
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VIDEO - Ingrezza Commercial (2021) - YouTube
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:17
VIDEO - Trillion Dollar Bill - The Simpsons - YouTube
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 14:06
VIDEO - SEC Chair Gensler: A Ban on Crypto Would Be 'Up to Congress' '-- CoinDesk
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 02:39
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler told Congress on Tuesday that the SEC has no plans to ban crypto.
When asked by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), a longtime crypto supporter and member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, if the SEC had any plans to follow China's lead in banning cryptocurrency in favor of a prospective central bank digital currency (CBDC), Gensler said, ''No, that would be up to Congress.''
Gensler's assertion that the SEC does not plan to ban crypto mirrors similar remarks made by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last week, when the central bank head told the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed had ''no plans to ban'' the $2.2 trillion asset class.
Questions from Congress about the SEC's efforts to regulate crypto come amid a growing debate on Capitol Hill about how the industry and its various parts, including exchanges and stablecoins, should be regulated.
During Tuesday's four-hour hearing, Gensler fielded questions about cryptocurrency, stablecoins, the regulation of exchanges and decentralized finance (DeFi).
Gensler mostly reiterated his previous thoughts on crypto regulation including the need for exchanges to ''come in and register'' with the SEC, the potential systemic risk posed by stablecoins and the need for them to be subject to increased regulation, and that ''most'' cryptocurrencies fall under the definition of a security.
However, Gensler also expanded on his understanding of the SEC's authority to regulate the crypto industry.
When asked by Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) to provide ''guidance'' on the topic of crypto regulation, Gensler reiterated his previous position that crypto exchanges need to register with the SEC but added that decentralized exchanges (DEXs) would also be subject to regulations.
''Even in decentralized platforms '' so-called DeFi platforms '' there is a centralized protocol. And though they don't take custody in the same way [as centralized exchanges], I think those are the places that we can get the maximum amount of public policy.''
Gensler also expanded on his stance on stablecoins, which he has previously called the ''poker chips'' at the crypto ''casino.'' Gensler doubled down on his poker chip analogy during his response to several questions, adding that he viewed stablecoins as a systemic risk to the economy.
''The $125 billion of stablecoins we have right now are like poker chips at a casino,'' Genser said. ''I do think that if this continues to grow '' and it's grown about tenfold in the last year '' it can present those systemic wide risks.''
The statement comes a day after CoinDesk first reported that USDC stablecoin issuer Circle was served with an ''investigative subpoena'' from the SEC's Enforcement Division in July.
The price of bitcoin, already up on the day, appeared to jump further on Gensler's comments, rising to as high as $51,678.20. In recent trading, the price of the leading cryptocurrency was at $51,329.82, up 4.59% in the last 24 hours.
UPDATE (Oct. 5, 20:57 UTC): Adds further Gensler remarks, bitcoin price action.
Cheyenne Ligon
Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy.
Subscribe to State of Crypto, our weekly newsletter on policy impact.
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VIDEO - 'You Sir, Are The One Ignoring Science': Rand Paul Battles Becerra Over COVID-19 Rules - YouTube
Wed, 06 Oct 2021 02:22
VIDEO - The Recount on Twitter: "Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) says there's ''no chance'' he will mandate vaccines for schoolchildren. @MargBrennan: Why? You mandate measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio '... Justice: Margaret, you know, you don't have t
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 19:46
The Recount : Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) says there's ''no chance'' he will mandate vaccines for schoolchildren.@MargBrennan: Why? Y'... https://t.co/jXkjOYvZAS
Mon Oct 04 14:45:45 +0000 2021
Something Clever : @therecount @margbrennan God, that shit-eating southern ''charm'' is annoying.
Mon Oct 04 19:44:45 +0000 2021
((MRW))🇺🇸 : @therecount @margbrennan This is unconscionable.
Mon Oct 04 19:43:47 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Clare Shortt on Twitter: "@viewspotnz @adamcurry , it's hard to get these as it's against my policy to listen to her, I would have no teeth left." / Twitter
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 17:49
Clare Shortt : @viewspotnz @adamcurry , it's hard to get these as it's against my policy to listen to her, I would have no teeth left.
Mon Oct 04 16:23:43 +0000 2021
VIDEO - 'Absolutely outrageous': All-male netball team beats girls in state tournament - YouTube
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:54
VIDEO - Pathetic: White House Dubs "We Love Joe!" Chant in Video of Congressional Ballgame Appearance to Make Biden Seem Popular
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:46
In an apparent effort to counter the nationwide trend of ''F*** Joe Biden!'' chants at sporting events around the nation, the White House released a video Sunday morning of Joe Biden's visit to the Congressional baseball game in Washington, D.C. last Wednesday night that opens with overdubbed girlish voices chanting ''We love Joe!'' as Biden entered Nationals Park.
In contrast to the thunderous ''We love Trump!'' chants by thousands of supporters at President Trump's rallies, the Biden cheers sound like a handful of female White House staffers recorded in a studio. Hear for yourself.
''I stopped by the congressional baseball game this week to see some friends. They don't let former Senators play '' but I think I still have a few home runs in me.''
TRENDING: "Tell Your Son to Stop Tweeting about Me" - Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Insults Trump and His Family
I stopped by the congressional baseball game this week to see some friends. They don't let former Senators play '' but I think I still have a few home runs in me. pic.twitter.com/onQdCV2Bqq
'-- President Biden (@POTUS) October 3, 2021
Biden was actually greeted by a mix of boos and cheers by the partisan crowd of Republicans and Democrats at the game.
Biden booed at Nationals Stadium during the Congressional baseball game pic.twitter.com/DlAN8e1U06
'-- Jewish Deplorable (@TrumpJew2) September 30, 2021
The Daily Mail reported that some on the Democrat side of the stadium chanted ''We love Joe.''
As Biden entered the ballpark Wednesday night, the Republican side of the stadium greeted Biden with boos. Democrats yelled 'We Love Joe' and 'Build Back Better,' his agenda's slogan.
Biden huddled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Democratic dugout, before walking across the field to greet Republican lawmakers.
The president left before the end of the game, which saw Republicans win 13-12, while Pelosi was seen furiously speaking on the phone throughout.
A C-SPAN video clip shows Biden's entering to boos and cheers and an indistinguishable chant that doesn't sound like the girls' voices in the White House video.
Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are in the house at the congressional baseball game pic.twitter.com/ae2dkVpzwZ
'-- Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 29, 2021
Video of a sporting event crowd chanting ''We love Trump!'' last month. No dubbing needed.
VIDEO - (16) Breaking911 on Twitter: "DR. FAUCI ON VACCINE MANDATES: ''There comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision for the greater good of society." https://t.co/LCkPLOFlqy" / Twitter
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:33
Breaking911 : DR. FAUCI ON VACCINE MANDATES:''There comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual r'... https://t.co/kg9z4hljVr
Sun Oct 03 18:59:42 +0000 2021
Levin : @Breaking911 Fake dr. faushit https://t.co/ZjUIVUQ1Qq
Mon Oct 04 15:33:31 +0000 2021
David Rudow : @Breaking911 Pound Sand, little shrew...
Mon Oct 04 15:33:07 +0000 2021
npc_1449 : @Breaking911 🖕 Fauci.
Mon Oct 04 15:30:15 +0000 2021
John Sullivan : @Breaking911 https://t.co/IfB0gmUn27
Mon Oct 04 15:29:43 +0000 2021
VIDEO - COVID-19 pill replacing vaccine is 'a false narrative': Dr. Fauci | ABC News - YouTube
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:26
VIDEO - (16) Acyn on Twitter: "Molly: We still have people in the south dying in large numbers because they refuse to take the vaccine and I think it's because people like Joe Rogan see these anti-vaxxers as easy marks'... https://t.co/bKSOW3575G" / Twit
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:16
Acyn : Molly: We still have people in the south dying in large numbers because they refuse to take the vaccine and I think'... https://t.co/ype6L3vbIo
Sat Oct 02 21:51:08 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Critical Race Theory | Full Measure
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 15:07
Today, the fight over Critical Race Theory. You've probably heard some states are trying to outlaw its teaching in school. But even where it's not officially part of the curriculum, it can be creeping into education in a way that supporters say is righteous but opponents claim is racist. And no place is the debate hotter than in Loudoun County, Virginia.
A June school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia erupts in shouting and scuffles. It's emblematic of simmering tensions across the country.
Dick Black/Meeting attendee: Critical Race Theory is a theory that says white children are demons, hate them.
Glenn Zeisler/Meeting attendee: This garbage shouldn't be being taught to our children. This is indoctrination.
Loudoun County, Virginia, an hour outside of Washington D.C., is the wealthiest county in the U.S. Minorities number close to half of the population and, together, outnumber whites at school.
Democrats recently flipped the county board of supervisors and the school board.
With that political shift came efforts to promote Critical Race Theory and silence the opposition. A movement so aggressive, it triggered what may be the only criminal investigation of its kind in America.
Sheriff Mike Chapman: This is weird. I mean, we've always dealt with criminal law.
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman's agency headed up the criminal probe involving Critical Race Theory.
Sheriff Chapman: I've never seen such a politically-charged concerns come up in law enforcement like they have over the past year.
Before we get to the specifics of the criminal investigation, it helps to know how the two camps divide.
Supporters of Critical Race Theory claim white racism is embedded in American institutions, and some go so far as to blame whites for poverty and crime in black communities.
Opponents claim Critical Race Theory is inherently racist, teaching people to judge by skin color: all whites are oppressors, all blacks are victims.
Jackie Vonwodke/Meeting attendee: It's time to look at history and look at everything that happened. Not just the white man's version of what happened.
Alicia Royer/ Meeting attendee: It is flat out racism and it needs to be kicked out of the schools.
Since 2019, Loudoun County schools have spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars related to Critical Race Theory, according to the sheriff's investigation. Much of the cash has gone to the ''Equity Collaborative,'' a group that seeks to expose and eliminate ''the dominant (male, White, heterosexual) ideology'' and teaches tenets like ''Whiteness as property'' and ''Permanence of racism.''
One contract for work included ''Coaching support for [Loudoun County school] leaders focused on ''Critical Race Theory Development'' at $625 an hour. Another contract was for six remote sessions for a high school principal at a cost of $24,000.
It was all largely under the radar until last March when this recording of a virtual advanced high school English course went viral.
Teacher: And that's all you see, two people?
A Loudoun County teacher asks students to describe this photo but doesn't like one student's non-racial response.
Student: Just two people chillin.
Teacher: I think you are being intentionally coy about what this is a picture of.
Student: Are you trying to get me to say there are two different races?
Teacher: Yes, I am asking you to say that.
Student: Well, at the end of the day, wouldn't that just be feeding into the problem of looking at race instead of just acknowledging them as two normal people?
Teacher: No, it's not. Because you can't not look at, you can't look at the people and not acknowledge that there are racial differences, right?
Before long, the dispute over Critical Race Theory boiled over into a criminal matter centered on the actions of a private Facebook group called ''Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County.''
Sheriff Chapman: There was an active effort on the part of the people that were part of this Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun county to target people that didn't agree with them.
The Facebook group suggested getting a ''list'' of Critical Race Theory opponents.
''We need moles to infiltrate their groups'' using ''fake user profiles,'' writes one member. Another advocates for ''hackers who can shut down their websites or direct them to pro-[Critical Race Theory]pagesexpose these people publicly''
Sheriff Chapman: That's really where that complaint came in. And that's when we started looking into like, "Do we have a crime here? Are these folks being targeted?''. And I couldn't really go to my Commonwealth Attorney because she was part of this group. I couldn't even get legal advice from our-
Sharyl: She was part of which group?
Sheriff Chapman: She was part of the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County that was looking to go after, in lack of a better term, the people that disagreed with what they believed in.
In an unexpected development, the woman who would be responsible for prosecuting any crimes committed was part of the Facebook group in question. Buta Biberaj was elected as Loudoun County's Commonwealth Attorney in 2019, after liberal billionaire activist George Soros funded almost her entire campaign.
Besides Biberaj, Sheriff Chapman says the investigation revealed other notables in the controversial Facebook group: Local city and county officials, teachers and 6 members of the school board.
Scott Ziegler is Loudoun County school superintendent.
Sharyl: There were school board members and teachers on this Facebook group that were pressing the notion of Critical Race Theory for the schools.
Dr. Scott Ziegler: I'm not familiar with the group, so I wouldn't comment on it. We have been saying loudly and clearly for months that Loudoun County public schools does not teach Critical Race Theory. It's not part of our curriculum.
Sharyl: Do you support or oppose it?
Ziegler: I don't have any thoughts on really Critical Race Theory at all. Critical Race Theory is an academic endeavor that is reserved for law school. And so it's not a topic that we talk about. It's sad, because Critical Race Theory has been turned into this curse word, if you will, that encompasses things that it was never intended to encompass.
Sharyl: There is a receipt, as you know, like an invoice, that shows Loudoun County hired the Equity Collaborative. And it specifically says on there, ''Critical Race Theory development discussions with staff.'' What is that about?
Ziegler: For an administrator to look at something from a purely academic standard is appropriate. And so, they enlisted the help of the Equity Collaborative to help them explore that topic as part of their own professional development.
Sharyl: With taxpayer money?
Ziegler: Well, with taxpayer money. But of course it's with taxpayer money, we're a tax-funded school board. That's not evidence of indoctrination, that's not evidence of implementation. That's evidence of exploration. So, we can explore a lot of ideas and we take the ones that are helpful, and we reject the ones that are not.
Whatever the case, educators and activists across the country are actively endorsing tenets of Critical Race Theory. More than half of U.S. states have restricted teaching Critical Race Theory or related themes.
Sharyl: Why do you think Critical Race Theory has become, as you said, a curse word, such a visceral reaction for so many parents?
Ziegler: So, I think it's been the politicization of equity work and the unfair broadening and application of that term Critical Race Theory.
Loudoun County's criminal investigation into the Facebook group took months. Sheriff Chapman says he consulted outside lawyers and even the FBI.
Chapman: We looked into threats, we looked into harassment, we looked into what the elements of all those different crimes would be and whether or not they met the thresholds. But nothing really rose to the level of, or met the threshold, of what we needed to do any kind of a criminal charge on this.
As for Biberaj, the prosecutor who belongs to the Facebook group, she told us the purpose of the group was ''as a support to promote anti-racism,'' and that she ''stands in support of equity and inclusion and stands against racism in any form.'' If there had been a criminal charge, she says, her office would have determined if there was any conflict of interest in leading the prosecution.
That case may be closed. But the national dispute over Critical Race Theory remains wide open.
Michael Rivera/Meeting attendee: I don't need my 13-year-old being taught that'-- he happens to be white because I'm in a mixed race marriage'-- that he's an oppressor and his little black friend is oppressed and now he's into awkward conversations with his friends.
Jackie Vonwodke/Meeting attendee: The position's been made pretty clear that public schools are not teaching critical race theory. But honestly, if they were it would be okay with me.
Crowd at meeting chanting: Shame on you, shame on you.
Sharyl (on-camera): One member of the Loudoun County school board is set to appear in court in the coming days to defend herself from a citizen's petition that got enough votes to remove her. And in Guilford, Connecticut, a landslide victory in a Republican primary for five anti-critical race theory parents who crushed three incumbents school board candidates and will face a slate of Democrats and Independents in November.
VIDEO - La Quinta Columna on more on Black-Eyed Babies (Pandemic Babies) - ORWELL CITY
Mon, 04 Oct 2021 03:22
September 28, 2021
As promised, La Quinta Columna shares more videos of newborns whose parents were inoculated between December 2020 and January 2021. Babies also known as Pandemic Babies or, more recently, Black-Eyed Babies.
In addition to the syndromic features they present, what is most striking about them are their black eyes and their accelerated aging.
Ricardo Delgado and Dr. Jos(C) Luis Sevillanos comment on this in the following video brought to you by Orwell City.
Ricardo Delgado: As promised, I'll show you the video of these births... children whose parents were vaccinated at the end of December 2020 and the beginning of January 2021. Before conception, logically, before pregnancy and childbirth.
So, what we're seeing is that these children have sort of a syndromic effect. They have several characteristic features, such as the blackish color of the eyes when they're usually light when they are born. Then they acquire the color they're going to have when the retina and the iris are formed.
But let's proceed to see the images, and you judge according to what you see.
Well, the truth is that the music isn't the most suitable. If these images are legit... You'll have to choose them carefully. It's true that we're getting more and more of these videos, though.
It's as if there was premature aging. And, physical qualities that should be seen at a year or a year and a bit, these babies already express them at very early ages, such as attempts to crawl at 2 weeks. Things that aren't normal. Apart from those black eyes, which is not exactly normal.
We have shown, in the beginning, a video a bit worrying on the subject of the 'black eyes,' as they call the children born in 2021. Babies born after the previous vaccination of the parents. And what you see... Well. As we say, we're taking these cases 'with a pinch of salt,' until we have more material to give more credibility to the subject.
But what we observe is as if there were an aging or premature development in them. Children of 3 months can walk, for example, when the normal is from... I think the closest month that I have seen is nine or ten. Something like that.
Dr. Sevillano: Before 14 months, more or less. It has to be 12 or 14 months old to start walking. But well, they can do that from 9 or 10 months or so.
Ricardo Delgado: Crawling at two weeks, for example. That's not normal, isn't it?
Dr. Sevillano: That's not normal. No. No. No.
Some children are advanced. But the eyes, indeed, attract a lot of attention. And it's necessary to observe everything related to these children to know what kind of children are being born after vaccination.
It's that... this has to be stopped earlier.
If you have comments or information for La Quinta Columna, t hen you can refer to their official website. Follow them on their official channels on Telegram , Instagram , Youtube and Twitch . If you want to contact directly, send them a message to: tutoronline@hotmail.es . Don't worry about the language barrier, they understand English and French . Remember that Orwell City is not affiliated with La Quinta Columna . This is a website dedicated to gathering important information that this team of researchers delivers (and also from the many others from the Spanish-speaking world who are doing a great job in unmasking the plandemic).Orwell City summarizes, transcribes, translates, edits and subtitules videos so that everyone can learn about the shocking discovery they have made about the true content of the vaccination vials.
If you like my articles and the videos you find here and, if you can and feel like it, you can make a small donation. Your support is always more than appreciated.
Follow Orwell City on Telegram. Thank you for reading!
'--Orwellito.

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