NASA Won't Rename New Space Telescope Despite Anti-LGBTQ Controversy | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 18:09
Artist conception of the controversially named James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in just a few months. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope via FlickrNASA says they do not plan to rename the multi-billion-dollar James Webb Space Telescope, despite concerns from astronomers, the public and agency employees. James Webb, who was an influential administrator at NASA during the 1960s and 1970s, worked in the Truman administration as Undersecretary of State at a time when the department systematically discriminated against gay and lesbian employees. The controversy has many calling on NASA to rethink the name of the the $10 billion telescope, which is set to launch in December.
"At best, Webb's record is complicated," says Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a cosmologist at the University of New Hampshire, to NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce. Prescod-Weinstein, who co-authored an opinion article in Scientific American on the subject, says, ''And at worst, we're basically just sending this incredible instrument into the sky with the name of a homophobe on it, in my opinion."
Controversy over the telescope's name has circulated among professional and amateur astronomers for years, but its upcoming launch has thrust the issue into the public spotlight. In just a few months, the James Webb Space Telescope'--which is about 14 years behind schedule'--will find its home in the sun's orbit, where it will spend years monitoring the cosmos. The telescope will search for light from ancient galaxies, distant exoplanets, and gasses that might indicate the presence of life on other celestial bodies, reports George Dvorsky for Gizmodo.
The new space telescope will be NASA's succession to the pioneering Hubble Space Telescope, but its scientific potential is being overshadowed by its connotations. James Webb was Undersecretary of State during the ''Lavender Scare,'' an era barring homosexual people from government jobs. More than 1,200 people'--mostly astronomers and passionate enthusiasts'--have already signed a petition urging NASA to rename the telescope. According to the petition:
"[P]rior to serving as the NASA Administrator, Webb served as the Undersecretary of State during the purge of queer people from government service known as the ''Lavender Scare.'' Archival evidence clearly indicates that Webb was in high-level conversations regarding the creation of this policy and resulting actions."
NASA Administrator James Webb receiving a plaque from President Kennedy during Distinguished Service Ceremony in Washington, D.C. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope via FlickrThe petition points to evidence like the firing of NASA employee Clifford Norton, which happened under Webb's leadership. Norton was arrested for "gay activity," interrogated by the police, and questioned by NASA about his sexual activities. NASA fired Norton from his position for "immoral conduct" and for possessing personality traits that render him "unsuitable for further Government employment." Though there is no evidence that Webb knew about the incident at the time, Prescod-Weinstein says that doesn't exonerate him.
"Either he was a wildly incompetent administrator and didn't know that his head of security was interrogating employees in NASA facilities, or he knew exactly what was going on and he was, in some sense, party to overseeing the interrogation of someone for being gay,'' says Prescod-Weinstein to NPR.
NASA isn't a stranger to controversial naming choices. They once renamed an asteroid after learning that its original name had Nazi connotations, according to Futurism's Dan Robitzski. In 2020, NASA vowed to stop using racist names for various objects in space and announced the agency's commitment to "examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion."
The agency has yet to condemn Webb's actions. "We have found no evidence at this time that warrants changing the name of the James Webb Space Telescope," says NASA administrator Bill Nelson to NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce. NASA told NPR that they have looked into Webb's past actions, but have shared few specifics about the investigation.
Editor's Note, October 6, 2021: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that, while at NASA, James Webb participated in high level conversations regarding policies that contributed to the Lavender Scare. He was involved in these discussions when he was Undersecretary of State. The story has been edited to correct that fact.
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In Kenosha and beyond, guns become more common on US streets | WGN-TV
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 14:40
As Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in two killings that he said were self-defense, armed civilians patrolled the streets near the Wisconsin courthouse with guns in plain view.
In Georgia, testimony in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killers showed that armed patrols were commonplace in the neighborhood where Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was chased down by three white men and shot.
The two proceedings sent startling new signals about the boundaries of self-defense as more guns emerge from homes amid political and racial tensions and the advance of laws that ease permitting requirements and expand the allowable use of force.
Across much of the nation, it has become increasingly acceptable for Americans to walk the streets with firearms, either carried openly or legally concealed. In places that still forbid such behavior, prohibitions on possessing guns in public could soon change if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a New York law.
The new status quo for firearms outside the home was on prominent display last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Local resident Erick Jordan carried a rifle and holstered handgun near the courthouse where Rittenhouse was tried for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle during a protest last year.
''I got a job to do '-- protect these people. That's it,'' said Jordan, referring to speakers at a news conference that was held in the hours after the verdict.
Speakers included an uncle of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was paralyzed in a shooting by a white police officer that touched off tumultuous protests across the city in the summer of 2020.
''This is my town, my people,'' Jordan said. ''We don't agree on a lot of things, but we fight, we argue, we agree to disagree and go home safe, alive.''
''That's real self-defense.''
The comments were a counter punch to political figures on the right who welcomed the Rittenhouse verdict and condemned his prosecution.
Mark McCloskey, who pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor charges stemming from when he and his wife waved a rifle and a handgun at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their St. Louis home in 2020, said the verdict shows that people have a right to defend themselves from a ''mob.'' He currently is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri.
The verdict arrived as many states are expanding self-defense laws and loosening the rules for carrying guns in public. Both gun sales and gun violence have been on the rise.
At the same time, six more states this year removed requirements to get a permit to carry guns in public, the largest number in any single year, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In all, 30 states have enacted ''stand your ground'' laws, which remove a requirement to retreat from confrontations before using deadly force.
Wisconsin has a tougher standard for claiming self-defense, and Rittenhouse was able to show the jury that he reasonably believed his life was in danger and that the amount of force he used was appropriate.
Ryan Busse, a former firearms-industry executive who now supports moderate gun control as an author and consultant, said the case reinforced the normalization of military-style weapons on city and suburban streets.
''Reasonable gun owners are freaked out by this,'' he said. ''How is it that we see this and people are just like, 'There's a guy with an AR-15.' That happens in third-world countries.''
He highlighted that a lesser charge against Rittenhouse as a minor in possession of a dangerous weapon was dropped before the verdict.
''There's a facet of Wisconsin law that allows kids to take their hunting rifle out with their dad or uncle,'' Busse said. ''Well he's not hunting. '... The old gun culture is being used to cover up for this new, dangerous firearms culture.''
Gun-rights advocates seeking greater access to weapons and robust self-defense provisions argue that armed confrontations will remain rare.
Republicans including former President Donald Trump have been quick to applaud the verdict. They stand by Rittenhouse as a patriot who took a stand against lawlessness and exercised his Second Amendment rights.
Discord over the right to carry guns in public places spilled over into state legislatures in the aftermath of a 2020 plot to storm the Michigan Capitol, the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and other threats. States including Michigan and New Mexico this year banned guns at their capitols, while Montana and Utah shored up concealed-carry rights.
At the Supreme Court, justices are weighing the biggest guns case in more than a decade, a dispute over whether New York's gun permitting law violates the Second Amendment right to ''keep and bear arms.''
Defenders of the law say that striking it down would lead to more guns on the streets of cities, including New York and Los Angeles.
During oral arguments this month, justices also appeared to worry that a broad ruling might threaten gun restrictions on subways and at bars, stadiums and other gathering places.
New York's law has been in place since 1913. It says that to carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense, an applicant has to demonstrate an actual need for the weapon.
Red Brands and Blue Brands: Is Hyper-Partisanship Coming for Corporate America? - The New York Times
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 14:32
Major brands and chief executives have become increasingly entangled in social and political debates. Is more to come?
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at Yale's School of Management, said the climate of polarization ''is permanently part of the social context of business.'' Credit... Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times Nov. 23, 2021
This article is part of our latest DealBook special report on the trends that will shape the coming decades.
The year is 2041, and Starbucks has real competition. Black Rifle Coffee Company, the java brand favored by conservatives, has opened thousands of locations around the country.
Starbucks, whose longtime chief executive Howard Schultz pioneered a new wave of liberal corporate activism in the early part of the century, still dominates the coffee scene in college towns and blue-state urban centers. But Black Rifle Coffee, now publicly traded with a $250 billion valuation, is flourishing in suburbs across the country and in cities large and small across the Deep South and Mountain West.
Online, the partisan rift is equally wide. Facebook has become essentially a one-party site, a forum for conservatives '-- and occasionally for conspiracy theorists '-- to discuss the perils of immigration and excessive government regulation. Snapchat has become the go-to social network for liberals to share videos calling for voting reform and raising taxes for social programs.
Even clothes have become fully politicized in 2041. As Americans sought for evermore obvious ways to flaunt their tribal allegiances, two brands that were previously middle-of-the-pack retailers '-- Levi's and Wrangler '-- have become corporate juggernauts. At Democratic rallies around the country, the red Levi's logo is just as ubiquitous as red Make America Great Again hats were during the 2016 presidential campaign. In Republican strongholds, Wrangler jeans are as common as Nike shoes.
This imagined future is not as far-fetched as it may seem. In recent years, major brands have become increasingly entangled in social and political debates and chief executives have become spokespeople for causes on the right and left. With few indications that the country will become any less polarized in the years ahead, it is perhaps inevitable that corporate America, like the electorate itself, splits into red and blue brands.
''This is permanently part of the social context of business,'' said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at Yale's School of Management who has helped chief executives formulate their responses to hot-button issues. ''It's the job of C.E.O.s to elevate issues and explain how it matters to them.''
Brands have been tangled up with politics for decades of course. Pepsi and General Motors were among the companies to stop doing business in apartheid-era South Africa. IBM and Apple were among the first companies to offer benefits to same-sex couples in the 1990s. Yet for the most part, corporations did their best to steer clear of the culture wars.
The 2016 election of Donald J. Trump changed all that. Mr. Trump's positions on issues ranging from immigration to race relations to climate change forced companies to make their positions clear. Oftentimes, under pressure from employees and customers, corporations broke with the president. After Mr. Trump equivocated in his response to an outburst of white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va., for example, two advisory councils stacked with prominent business leaders disbanded, with many of them repudiating the president and his response.
Image Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman of PwC, said corporate leaders are trying to balance competing interests. Credit... Guerin Blask for The New York Times More than four years of this dynamic finally led many senior Republicans to begin pushing back against big business. This year, as companies rallied against restrictive new voting laws being advanced by Republicans around the country, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told chief executives to stay in their lane.
''My warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,'' he said in April. ''It's not what you're designed for. And don't be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of America's greatest political debates.''
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida posted a video in which he called companies speaking out against Republican laws ''woke corporate hypocrites.''
And Stephen Miller, an adviser to Mr. Trump, said on Twitter that big businesses were ''openly attacking sovereign U.S. states & the right of their citizens to secure their own elections,'' in what he called ''a corporate ambush on Democracy.''
There are some indications that executives are trying to disentangle themselves from politics. When Texas lawmakers passed a restrictive abortion law this summer, few corporations spoke out on either side of the debate. Google, which three years ago stopped work on a Pentagon contract after an employee uprising, is quietly back in the bidding for defense work. Such developments suggest that a hyperpartisan future may not be the inevitable outcome for corporate America.
Yet for every example of companies trying to moderate their affiliation with controversial issues, there are new instance of chief executives wading deeper into political scuffles.
Last year, Goya Foods became a political lightning rod after its chief executive, Robert Unanue, emerged as a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump. Some Latinos boycotted the brand, while Republicans rallied around it.
John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's International, was ousted from the pizza chain he founded after uttering a racial slur on a corporate conference call. He recently called his exit from the company he started ''a crucifixion,'' blaming the ''progressive elite left'' for his downfall.
Kenneth I. Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express and one of the Black business leaders who led the corporate response to a wave of restrictive voting rights laws this year, recently said that he was unmoved by calls for chief executives to stay out of politics and that he viewed it as his obligation to keep speaking out on issues he believed in.
''We can have partisan disagreement,'' he said. ''What we have to be aligned on as a country are what are the fundamental values and principles that we are going to stand for.''
Determining when to speak out and when to stay silent is one of the most fraught calculations for leaders these days. Keep quiet on a given issue, and impassioned employees and customers might accuse the company of callousness. Engage in a public debate about a partisan topic, and members of the opposing party may accuse the brand of playing politics.
''How do you determine what's important to your stakeholders?'' said Tim Ryan, the U.S. chairman of PwC, the accounting and consulting firm. ''They're trying to figure that out. What's important to my employees, customers and investors?''
Research shows that the public increasingly expects chief executives to speak out. Edelman, the public relations firm, routinely surveys people about the role of business in politics and this year found that 86 percent of respondents expect corporate leaders to publicly engage on major societal issues.
Yet as brands have found out all too often in recent years, doing so can lead to calls for boycotts, bruising battles on social media and distracted work forces.
When the Coca-Cola chief executive James Quincey waded into the debate about a new voting law in Georgia, no one was satisfied. Democrats who opposed the legislation accused Mr. Quincey of doing too little, too late; Republicans who supported the new law were enraged when he said anything at all.
Image Darren Walker, chief executive of the Ford Foundation, said corporations would become even more engaged as company boards and committees diversified. Credit... Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times It was the kind of no-win situation executives try to avoid at all costs, and yet Mr. Quincey had little choice but to engage. Even before he spoke up, protesters in Atlanta were calling on the company to engage and social media was abuzz with questions about what Coca-Cola, one of the city's main employers, would do.
And while many corporate boycotts fizzle after a few news cycles, consumers are increasingly willing to vote with their dollars. Almost two-thirds of consumers globally are willing to support or shun companies because of their positions on political or social issues, according to Edelman.
There is always a chance that the political waters will calm down, that the toxic partisanship gripping this country will abate, that Americans will find common cause in a new era of bipartisan comity. Should that unlikely development occur, corporations might be able to gracefully disentangle themselves from the red-hot debates about the big issues of the day.
More likely is a world where chief executives and the companies they lead are more and more often affiliated with one party or the other. When Mr. Trump ran for re-election, news sites feverishly tracked which executives were supporting his campaign, and which had sided with Joe Biden. In the months since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, research groups have tracked which companies are donating to Republicans who voted against certifying the Electoral College results.
Darren Walker, the chief executive of the Ford Foundation and a director at several major companies, said that the shape that the future of chief-executive activism takes may in some ways depend on who is in charge two decades from now. Greater diversity at the highest levels of the business world, Mr. Walker said, would almost certainly lead companies to take more forceful stands on issues that mattered to members of those communities.
''If 20 years from now the Fortune 500 has dozens of people of color and women as C.E.O.s,'' he said, ''if there are boards and committees that are diverse, I think it's a resounding yes that corporations will be more engaged.''
Jury holds pharmacies responsible for role in opioid crisis | AP News
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 13:16
CLEVELAND (AP) '-- CVS, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies recklessly distributed massive amounts of pain pills in two Ohio counties, a federal jury said Tuesday in a verdict that could set the tone for U.S. city and county governments that want to hold pharmacies accountable for their roles in the opioid crisis.
Lake and Trumbull counties blamed the three chain pharmacies for not stopping the flood of pills that caused hundreds of overdose deaths and cost each of the two counties about $1 billion, said their attorney, who in court compared the pharmacies' dispensing to a gumball machine.
How much the pharmacies must pay in damages will be decided in the spring by a federal judge.
It's the first time pharmacy companies completed a trial to defend themselves in a drug crisis that killed a half-million Americans over the past two decades.
The counties convinced the jury that the pharmacies played an outsized role in creating a public nuisance in the way they dispensed pain medication into their communities.
''The law requires pharmacies to be diligent in dealing drugs. This case should be a wake-up call that failure will not be accepted,'' said Mark Lanier, an attorney for the counties.
''The jury sounded a bell that should be heard through all pharmacies in America,'' Lanier said.
Attorneys for the pharmacy chains maintained they had policies to stem the flow of pills when their pharmacists had concerns and would notify authorities about suspicious orders from doctors. They also said it was doctors who controlled how many pills were prescribed for legitimate medical needs.
CVSHealth, Walgreen Co. and Walmart Inc. said they will appeal.
Walmart said in a statement that the counties' attorneys sued ''in search of deep pockets while ignoring the real causes of the opioid crisis '-- such as pill mill doctors, illegal drugs, and regulators asleep at the switch '-- and they wrongly claimed pharmacists must second-guess doctors in a way the law never intended and many federal and state health regulators say interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.''
Walgreen spokesperson Fraser Engerman characterized the case as an unsustainable effort ''to resolve the opioid crisis with an unprecedented expansion of public nuisance law.''
The company ''never manufactured or marketed opioids nor did we distribute them to the 'pill mills' and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis,'' Engerman said in a statement.
A statement from CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis noted: ''As plaintiffs' own experts testified, many factors have contributed to the opioid abuse issue, and solving this problem will require involvement from all stakeholders in our health care system and all members of our community.''
Two chains '-- Rite Aid and Giant Eagle '-- already had settled lawsuits with the two Ohio counties.
Lanier said during trial that the pharmacies were attempting to blame everyone but themselves.
The opioid crisis has overwhelmed courts, social services agencies and law enforcement in Ohio's blue-collar corner east of Cleveland, leaving behind heartbroken families and babies born to addicted mothers, Lanier told jurors.
Roughly 80 million prescription painkillers were dispensed in Trumbull County alone between 2012 and 2016 '-- equivalent to 400 for every resident. In Lake County, some 61 million pills were distributed during that period.
The rise in physicians prescribing pain medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone came as medical groups began recognizing that patients have the right to be treated for pain, Kaspar Stoffelmayr, an attorney for Walgreens, said at the opening of the trial.
The problem, he said, was ''pharmaceutical manufacturers tricked doctors into writing way too many pills.''
The counties said pharmacies should be the last line of defense to prevent the pills from getting into the wrong hands.
They didn't hire enough pharmacists and technicians or train them to stop that from happening and failed to implement systems that could flag suspicious orders, Lanier said.
The committee of lawyers for the local governments suing the drug industry in federal courts called Tuesday's verdict ''a milestone victory'' and ''overdue reckoning.''
''For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by law,'' the committee said in a statement. ''Instead, these companies responded by opening up more locations, flooding communities with pills, and facilitating the flow of opioids into an illegal, secondary market.''
The trial before U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland was part of a broader constellation of about 3,000 federal opioid lawsuits consolidated under the judge's supervision. Other cases are moving ahead in state courts.
Kevin Roy, chief public policy officer at Shatterproof, an organization that advocates for solutions to addiction, said the verdict could lead pharmacies to follow the path of major distribution companies and some drugmakers that have reached nationwide settlements of opioid cases worth billions. So far, no pharmacy has reached a nationwide settlement.
''It's a signal that the public, at least in select places, feels that there's been exposure and needs to be remedied,'' Roy said.
The government claims against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies hinge on state and local public nuisance laws.
Roy noted that courts haven't been consistent on whether those laws apply to such cases. ''There's been a variety of different decisions lately that should give us reason to be cautious about what this really means in the grand scheme,'' he said.
Two recent rulings went against the theory. More cases are heading toward rulings.
Trials against drugmakers in New York and distribution companies in Washington state are underway. A trial of claims against distribution companies in West Virginia wrapped up, but the judge hasn't given a verdict.
Earlier in November, a California judge ruled in favor of top drug manufacturers in a lawsuit with three counties and the city of Oakland. The judge said the governments hadn't proven that the pharmaceutical companies used deceptive marketing to increase unnecessary opioid prescriptions and create a public nuisance.
Also this month, Oklahoma's supreme court overturned a 2019 judgment for $465 million in a suit brought by the state against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.
Other lawsuits have resulted in big settlements or proposed settlements before trials were completed.
The jury's decision in Cleveland had little effect on the stock of CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, which all closed higher Tuesday on Wall Street.
Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this report.
Dozens of Ships Stuck in Arctic as Ice Freezes Early, Contradicting Global Warming Claims '' The Daily Sceptic
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 13:13
More than two dozen cargo vessels are stuck in Russia's Arctic ice, waiting for ice-breakers to come to their rescue, after an inaccurate forecast from the country's Met Office. The Telegraph has more.
Maritime traffic in the Northern Sea Route has been on the rise in recent years as rapidly warming winters reduce ice cover, and Russia invests in its Arctic ports in preparation for a further boom.
But this year several segments of the Northern Sea Route froze up about a fortnight earlier than usual, catching many ships unawares.
Alexei Likhachyov '' director general of Russia's state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom, which manages the country's nuclear-power fleet of ice-breakers '' said on Monday that the ships included vessels sailing under the flags of Hong Kong and Marshall Islands.
He blamed the Russian Met office for a forecast that failed to predict the early ice, in comments to local media.
Worth reading in full.
Worth remembering that Antarctica recently recorded its coldest six months on record.
UPDATE: Sham Jan 6th Committee Admits They Made Mistake On Subpoena
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 13:12
The Palmieri Report previously reported on the sham Jan 6th committee pushing a massive lie in their Bernie Kerik Subpoena.
Sham Jan 6th Committee Caught Pushing Massive Lie In Subpoena
Now, we have this.
The sham committee just admitted that they made the mistake.
This further proves this is nothing more than a witch hunt.
The Democrat-led congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots acknowledged Tuesday it made an error#JustTheNews @jsolomonReports https://t.co/qaDYOq7Gsx
'-- Just the News (@JustTheNews) November 24, 2021
From Just The News:
The Democrat-led congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots acknowledged Tuesday it made an error in a subpoena that falsely accused former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik of attending a secret meeting in Washington to allegedly discuss overturning the November 2020 election results on behalf of then-President Donald Trump.
The committee chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., acknowledged the mistake in a communication to Kerik's lawyer just hours after Just the News reported that Kerik could not have attended the meeting in Washington on Jan. 5 as alleged in the subpoena because he was in New York City for a family emergency, according to his own phone and tollbooth records.
The subpoena had attributed the allegation by footnote to a book by famed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, But the book actually made no such claim and did not even mention Kerik by name a single time in 482 pages, Woodward told Just the News on Monday night.
The subpoena also cited two Washington Post articles, which also did not claim Kerik attended such a meeting.
''In advance of our deposition of Mr. Kerik, we wanted to correct an error in the letter accompanying the subpoena that you accepted on his behalf,'' the committee wrote Attorney Tim Parlatore in a communication that did not address its footnote attributing the allegation to Woodward's book but instead focused on one of the Washington Post articles.
''That letter indicated that Mr. Kerik participated in a meeting at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021, citing a Washington Post article dated October 23, 2021. The Post reports that Mr. Kerik was at the Willard around January 6 and that, according to Mr. Kerik, his firm billed the Trump campaign more than $55,000 for rooms,'' the letter added. ''The article does not say that he was at the Willard Hotel on January 5th, specifically, as the Select Committee letter indicates. Nonetheless, the Select Committee still believes that Mr. Kerik has information about efforts to evaluate claims of election fraud and other matters relevant to its inquiry.''
The Palmieri Report is a Pro-America News Outlet founded by Jacob Palmieri. The Palmieri Report is dedicated to giving people the truth so that they can form their own informed political opinions. You can help us beat Big Tech by following us on GETTR , Telegram, and Rumble.
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Assisted death only for vaccinated, euthanasia association says '-- RT World News
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:40
Anyone wishing to be euthanized now has to first present proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid, as per the new guidelines issued by Germany's euthanasia association.
A statement put out by the Hamburg-based group on Friday reads ''assisted suicide and the preliminary examination of a patient's ability to make decisions freely implies physical closeness between people. However, that is precisely the precondition for the spread of Covid.''
In February 2020, Germany's top court overturned a ban on providing euthanasia as unconstitutional.
A number of German regions have put in place strict curbs, banning the unvaccinated from most public places. Across the country only recovered or inoculated people can enter restaurants, museums and similar venues, while those even with a negative Covid test cannot. Amid the surge in cases, the German states of Saxony and Bavaria have both cancelled all Christmas markets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her fellow party members on Monday that the current wave of Covid in Germany was worse than any previous one and called for stricter measures to contain it. The country's health minister, Jens Spahn, went even further, claiming that ''by the end of this winter everyone in Germany will either be vaccinated, recovered or dead.''
Those statements came as the seven-day infection rate per 100,000 people broke a new grim record on Wednesday, reaching the 404.5 mark, as reported by Germany's disease control and prevention authority, the Robert Koch Institute.
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WHO warns about unintended effect of vaccines '-- RT World News
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:36
The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief has warned vaccinated people to remain cautious when it comes to catching Covid-19 and not fall into a ''false sense of security.''
''In many countries and communities, we are concerned about the false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic and that people who are vaccinated do not need to take any other precautions,'' the WHO's director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Wednesday at a press conference on the Covid-19 crisis in Europe.
Tedros warned that ''no country or region is out of the woods'' and underlined the importance of making sure that the ''right measures are in place to avert the worst consequences of any future waves.'' He also called for proper sharing of the ''fruits of science.''
On Tuesday, the WHO starkly predicted that more than 2 million people might die of Covid-19 in Europe over the coming winter and that most of the countries could see their health systems overwhelmed by the surge.
In light of coronavirus numbers spiraling across the region, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) made the decision to change its previous stance on booster vaccines, now recommending them for all adults.
Austria has already entered a new national 10-day lockdown while other countries, including Germany, are mulling new restrictive measures and even mandatory vaccination. This week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel advisories telling Americans to avoid travel to Germany and Denmark due to the high-risk Covid situation.
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Aaron Rodgers Says His Toe Is Fractured, a Day After Referring to His Injury as 'Covid Toe' - WSJ
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:34
The Packers star quarterback addressed his toe injury Wednesday, saying he had never heard of the condition known as Covid Toe.
Updated Nov. 24, 2021 5:52 pm ETSince Aaron Rodgers returned to the field after testing positive for Covid-19, having sat out 10 days because he was unvaccinated, the star Green Bay Packers quarterback has been dealing with a mysterious and painful toe injury.
After previously describing it in vague terms as a ''Covid injury,'' Rodgers referred to his injury on Tuesday with the term ''Covid Toe,'' a medical condition that can arise from the body's response to the disease he had recently contracted.
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Since Aaron Rodgers returned to the field after testing positive for Covid-19, having sat out 10 days because he was unvaccinated, the star Green Bay Packers quarterback has been dealing with a mysterious and painful toe injury.
After previously describing it in vague terms as a ''Covid injury,'' Rodgers referred to his injury on Tuesday with the term ''Covid Toe,'' a medical condition that can arise from the body's response to the disease he had recently contracted.
On Wednesday, however, after The Wall Street Journal ran a story reflecting his remarks, he said he had never heard of ''Covid Toe'' and instead has a fractured toe.
''I mentioned yesterday that it's worse than a turf toe and it must be a bone issue,'' Rodgers said. ''I've never heard of Covid Toe before. I have no lesions on my feet.''
Rodgers on Tuesday made his regular appearance on the Pat McAfee show where, among other topics, he discussed the toe injury that has hobbled him since he returned to the field.
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''I didn't have any lingering effects, other than the Covid Toe,'' Rodgers said on the sports talk program.
''We did it, we got the f'--ing answer,'' responded McAfee, the host and a former NFL punter.
Rodgers, speaking Wednesday, said his comment was because of a joke by McAfee. He also showed his bare foot to the camera to show his toe.
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A spokesman for the Packers said they decline to comment on players' medical issues.
The controversy around Rodgers and Covid-19 began with previous comments about his vaccination status which were broadly criticized as misleading. Before the season, when he was asked if were vaccinated, he responded: ''Yeah, I'm immunized.'' He also appeared to be vaccinated because of his appearance at press conferences without a mask, as is required for unvaccinated players, according to the NFL's health and safety protocols.
But when Rodgers tested positive earlier in November, he was forced to sideline for 10 days'--the protocols for players who hadn't been fully vaccinated. That catalyzed a sharp backlash among critics who said he lied or misled the public about receiving one of the safe and effective vaccines approved in the U.S.
Initially, he vigorously defended himself. In Rodgers's first comments on the subject, he claimed he was immunized because of conversations with ''healers'' and dubbed himself a ''critical thinker'' while invoking civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
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He said he didn't lie, assailed the ''woke mob'' for attacking him and skewered the media for shaming unvaccinated athletes.
Later, he backtracked on that stance.
''''I made some comments that people might have felt were misleading,'' Rodgers said Nov. 9, the same day the NFL fined both him and the Packers for protocol violations. ''To anybody who felt misled by those comments, I take full responsibility for those comments.''
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Covid Toe is a casual name for something medically known as pernio or chilblains, which is a condition that causes symptoms such as discoloration and lesions. It can be extremely painful and turn the toes purple, and they're a sign of the body's strong immune response to the virus.
Recent research, including an October study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, has found that Covid Toes typically occur in younger patients who experience mild symptoms. The problem is that, when the body produces too much of a type of interferon, it can create other problems'--and produce Covid Toes.
''The way I would think about it is it's basically a side effect of how your own immune system is fighting the virus,'' said Esther Freeman, a doctor and principal investigator for the Covid-19 Dermatology Registry. ''It's part of our body's response to the response to the virus. It's almost too much of a good thing.''
Freeman, who's also an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, says the incidence rate of Covid Toes isn't precisely known. She also noted that the condition tends to occur one to four weeks after infection.
That timeline also neatly aligned with Rodgers' symptom profile. News of Rodgers' positive test first emerged on Nov. 3. After that sidelined him for 10 days, during which he missed a game, he returned to play the Packers' game against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 14. The day before that game, Rodgers was added to the team's injury report with a toe injury.
The injury was so problematic during the team's game last Sunday, a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, that Rodgers headed to the locker room before halftime to tend to the ailment. His backup, Jordan Love, took the final kneel-down ahead of the break. Rodgers, afterward, described it as ''very, very painful.''
''The best way to avoid Covid Toes is to get vaccinated,'' said Freeman, who couldn't speak to Rodgers or his condition specifically.
Rodgers, though, said Wednesday that he did not have Covid Toe. He said he suffered his injury during his quarantine while he was doing his own workouts and trying to ramp up his conditioning. He said he didn't know what it was until he got back in the team's facility and got X-rayed, but doesn't plan on missing time.
''It's all about pain management,'' he said.
Write to Andrew Beaton at email@example.com
'Contemptuous' Covid Bill passes within 24 hours amid opposition
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:28
Legislation that will curtail freedoms of hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated New Zealanders has been passed under urgency amid outrage from Opposition MPs that it has avoided normal levels of scrutiny.
The new laws will allow businesses and groups to introduce vaccination mandates among their staff ahead of the new Covid-19 Protection Framework starting in December.
Along with those already in force, including health and education workers, it means mandates will cover about 40 per cent of the workforce.
This framework, also known as the traffic light system, includes requirements for workforces deemed high risk to be vaccinated, including hospitality, events, gatherings, close-contact businesses and gyms.
Mandates and the ability of businesses to use them have wide parliamentary support, but the traffic light system and speed with which the legislation has been pushed through has drawn major criticism from all sides, with National, Act and Te PÄti MÄori all opposing.
Legislation has to be in place before the traffic light system comes into force, but passing it under urgency, which the Labour Government can do with its majority, also means it bypasses normal levels of scrutiny, including from select committees and public submissions.
National's Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop said it was one of the "most significant" Bills and yet would become law within 24 hours of being introduced.
"This is contemptuous of Parliament, contemptuous of the people of New Zealand, contemptuous of the rule of law," Bishop said during the third reading.
Labour also rejected a motion to have a post-enactment review of the law, which was supported by all other parties.
Bishop said he was unsure if the law would actually give the Government the powers it sought, potentially opening it up to legal challenges.
Bishop said it was not that some of the aspects were not justified - National generally supports mandates - but that the laws proposed needed more time and scrutiny, citing comments from Government legal advisors over the short timeframe .
Covid has been in the community since August, and since the elimination strategy failed the Government had no back-up plan, Bishop said.
He feared the "secretive" and "non-transparent" way the Bill was being rammed through could further fuel division.
"This Bill will backfire on the Government. It will not help."
Te PÄti MÄori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said it was a "cruel Bill" and "tramples on tikanga".
Ngarewa-Packer said they were concerned about a lack of consultation with MÄori and if it was consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Even Speaker Trevor Mallard criticised the use of urgency, particularly given the policy around the framework became public on October 15.
"The policy decisions, the drafting instructions, or an exposure draft of the bill could and should have been made public and preferably considered by a select committee, either through reference through the House or using committees' inquiry functions.
"The failure for that to occur is primarily the Government's responsibility.
"Urgency of this type used to be common. It isn't any more, for good reason; it resulted in bad law."
Introducing the Bill, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the measures were "justified given the situation that the pandemic and the public health response requires".
"They'll help us to better manage the public health risks that are caused by those who haven't been vaccinated, because the reality is, now, the key thing to bringing greater freedoms for us all is to encourage those people to be vaccinated."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government was not abusing its power by rushing through the Bill.
"Without these provisions we would not have the ability to ease restrictions and into the new framework."
On the lack of detail in the Bill, Ardern said they had used orders throughout the response as it allowed restrictions to be lowered more quickly than the full legislative process.
Among those criticising the Bill have been the Human Rights Commission and legal experts - Victoria University law and governance expert Dr Dean Knight calling it a "constitutional disgrace".
They were concerned about human rights implications and consistency with Te Tiriti, and called for mechanisms to review the legislation.
The Council for Civil Liberties has also called out the process, revealing the Government has refused to release advice it received around vaccination certificates until January.
"The failure to be open and straightforward with the public reflects poorly on a Government that likes to boast about high levels of public trust, and how transparent it is," chairman Thomas Beagle said.
Workers covered would need to have a first dose by December 3 and a second by January 17. Non-compliant businesses could be fined up to $15,000.
The changes will also require employers to give workers time off to get vaccinated, and a four-week notice period for those who lose their jobs because they were not vaccinated.
With still about 8 per cent of the eligible population yet to receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine, potentially hundreds of thousands of workers could be affected once the framework kicks in on December 3.
Polls have shown strong support for vaccine mandates, but have also shown confusion around the new traffic light system.
A tool to help clarify what work should be covered by vaccinated workers and for assessing when it is reasonable to require vaccination for other work has also been developed.
The four criteria, at least three of which must be met, are: the size of the workspace, how close people are to others, how long they are near to others, and whether they provide services to people vulnerable to Covid-19.
'THEY'RE KILLING US! THEY'RE KILLING OUR PEOPLE!" - Aboriginal Elder SCREAMS in Facebook Rant After Australian Military Reportedly Holds Down Her People, Shoots Them with Vaccine (VIDEO)
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:27
June Mills, an Aboriginal elder in northern Australia took to Facebook and recorded a disturbing video. Mills claims the Australian military is forcibly holding down aboriginal people and vaccinating them against their will. June Mills screams during her video in rage over the abuse by the Australian government on their native people.
June is an elder from the towns which these people were removed from speaking out, and is rightly ANGRY.
June Mills: The world needs to know what is going on, what is going on with our people. I'm hearing stories of people getting knocked down in the community, and apparently by the army, and forcefully vaccinated. And our brothers and sisters watching it. THEY'RE TRAUMATIZED! And we all are!
What play-to-earn games mean for the economy - and metaverse | World Economic Forum
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:25
Play-to-earn games could bring digital identity, assets, and ownership into players' hands as the gaming industry is becoming decentralized. This is how modern video games may introduce new paradigms that lend themselves to a wide variety of emerging digital environments and forms of value creation. These games are also spearheading a recent development: the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. This article is written by two university graduates. Surprised? Didn't think so. But what may be more intriguing is how we each paid our tuition. One followed a 'conventional' route: a combination of student loans, summer jobs and the good fortune of parental financial support. The other played video games.
Long before esports'--the industry of competitive video gaming'--was broadly recognized as a profession, popular play-to-earn PC games like 'Diablo II' (2000) or 'Runescape' (2001) created fully-fledged digital economies, in which the best players were able to make a living simply by being good at the game. Indeed, Moritz Baier-Lentz, one of your coauthors, was able to finance his undergraduate and graduate education by completing in game challenges and selling the resulting rewards for real money'--at some point, more successfully than any of the other 13 million active players worldwide.
However, the early 2000s were a 'Wild West' of digital assets, virtual ownership, and online identity'--and video game marketplaces and transactions were never fully legitimate and secure, making stories like this a case study in crafty individual entrepreneurialism more than a viable professional pursuit.
Enormous growth of gaming industry, built on centralized systems of valueToday, almost 3 billion people around the world play video games, and there is an entire infrastructure around professional gaming'-- one that has created significant opportunities and wealth for top players. The very best of them are considered athletes: employed as salaried team members, sharing in prize money at tournaments, and commanding lucrative sponsorship agreements. Others monetize live streams of themselves by playing games on viewership platforms like Twitch or YouTube Gaming.
Video games now represent a $336 billion industry, according to BITKRAFT Ventures, accounting for a wide spread of software, hardware, and intellectual property. As gaming has grown to become the world's largest media category ahead of linear TV, on demand entertainment, film, and music, certain characteristics have developed with it. Importantly, almost all game based economic activity is centralized, giving developers and publishers the rights to everything going on within their games. The business case for this is to capture the billions of dollars generated from the sale of in game content, digital items, and subscriptions'--but it also means that the vast majority of players themselves have few ways to share in the value without following the route of professionalization.
This historically custodial model of ownership and profitsharing has persisted as the industry has grown'--but it might be on the cusp of transformation, with the arrival of so-called 'play-to-earn' games. This type of video game allows players to 'truly' earn and own digital assets that they can then sell outside of the game at their own discretion.
Historical models for video game ownership like in Diablo II never allowed players to legally own their in-game assets such as hard-earned weaponry or armor.
Image: Diablo II Resurrected, Blizzard Entertainment
Play-to-earn could bring digital identity, assets, and ownership into players' handsIf individuals are to allocate serious time, attention, and personal investments to digital environments, establishing trust in the durability of their digital presence and goods'--as well as their economic robustness'--is paramount. Early implementations show that this is indeed achievable with blockchain technology, which, using cryptography, can ensure digital trust and a decentralized storage of value.
Blockchain is already being applied to a broad range of sectors from finance to art'--and video games are no exception. Play-to-earn games rely on blockchain technology, including in the form of non fungible tokens (or NFTs), as the foundation for value creation. An NFT is a digitally secured claim of ownership for a unique, non interchangeable digital asset. In practice, NFTs can take many shapes inside virtual worlds: characters, items, land, decorative personalization features such as digital clothing, and more. People 'earn' the most valuable items by playing the game very well, and can sell them for real-world money at their own terms.
The true innovation lies in the decentralized integrity and security of these digital items, which'--for the first time'--can transcend the traditional proprietary, custodial ownership and discretion of a company or even government. As an example, instead of relying on the permission or rules of publishers or other third parties, in game resources from play-to-earn games can be sold freely on marketplaces both inside and outside of the game.
Recently, countless examples of communities have sprung up, highlighting the potential of play-to-earn games in building a new economy. Most notably, a video game called 'Axie Infinity' shows that this is more than just a pipe dream. The popular play-to-earn environment, which advanced from 4,000 to 2 million daily active users within few months, has become especially popular in the Philippines and Venezuela. For players in countries like these in the Global South, the income they can earn inside this digital world is far more significant than what their local physical economy can offer.
In addition, ancillary 'scholarship platforms' like Yield Guild Games, which enable and educate players in emerging economies to participate in play-to-earn games, have attracted major investment and themselves become billion-dollar companies in a matter of months'--eclipsing many of the most popular video games in value. By globalizing the market for game based NFTs in this way, play-to-earn games and their surrounding platforms are examples of frictionless economic opportunity and meritocratic participation across geographies. It's 2021, and it seems that the world has never been flatter.
For now, it is worth noting that play-to-earn games do not inherently and fully eliminate the centralization found in games: they still require the authority of the publisher to define, issue and constrain the asset that eventually is traded as an NFT. Rather, the greatest promise of play-to-earn games is in their potential to decentralize marketplaces for the creation, ownership and exchange of digital assets, as well as the potential created when these marketplaces are connected to the traditional economy and fiat currencies'--allowing players to transfer their digital time, effort and earnings into disposable income in the physical world.
Owning and participating in core pieces of these new worlds brings great financial returns to those who believed; many of whom will be from emerging markets who were quick to move on the opportunities available.
For the players themselves, the play-to-earn model may represent a new and flexible way to make money. But beyond questions around financial reporting and taxation, it also reflects some of the perils associated with the digital economy, which risks creating ''humans as a service'': limited job security, precarious relationships between firms and employers, and a lack of social safety nets. Given that freelancers are already overrepresented in the creative economy, these will all be considerations that policymakers will have to take into account.
This is just the beginning: Play-to-earn gaming as the job board for the 'metaverse'While play-to-earn is still an emerging niche, it could redefine more than just the gaming landscape. In fact, we make the case that it has the potential to change how people interact with and perceive traditional socioeconomic structures like financial institutions, marketplaces, and governments. This is because play-to-earn games provide a proof of concept for a self-sovereign financial system, an open creator economy, and universal digital representation and ownership that lend themselves to a wide variety of emerging digital environments and forms of value creation.
In fact, it seems that play-to-earn games are spearheading a larger trend at play: the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. And with that, the emergence of the legendary 'metaverse''--which has been as much at the center to the recent academic debates as it has been the stuff of rejuvenated corporate agendas, most prominently that of Meta (n(C)e Facebook). Enticed by visual impressions drawn from Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel 'Snow Crash' or movies like 'Ready Player One', most discussions of the metaverse center around technical details, functional attributes, or end user implementations in the form of high fidelity 3D and extended reality headsets.
But instead, the metaverse may quite simply be the point in time for human society in which digital identity and assets are more meaningful than their physical counterparts. Through this lens, our transition to the metaverse becomes a socioeconomic shift as a consequence of technology and connectedness. As humans, we value objects and experiences we live in a world and a moment in time in which those objects have been assigned value by society. The metaverse marks the moment in time in which digital assets, experiences and relationships are assigned an even bigger value than our physical surroundings.
And for many people'--from the United States to Venezuela and the Philippines'--this transition may have just begun.
After Another Soccer Player Collapses on the Field, Former Pro and Sky News Sports Announcer Calls for Investigation
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:05
It is not unprecedented. Throughout history there have been sports players who suffered from multiple conditions who have ''collapsed'' on the field during practice and during live games. However, a recent article from the German newspaper, Berliner Zeitung has highlighted an ''unusually large'' increase in the number of these collapses recently, leading to much speculation.
The Free Thought Project looked in to how frequently players used to collapse or die during games. There are in fact several recorded collapses every year and even deaths. Doctors and experts usually attribute these to underlying conditions which have not been previously diagnosed. However, as Berliner Zeitung points out, the number of players who have collapsed in 2021 appears to be much higher than previous years.
In fact, if we look back over the last hundred years, 2021 appears to be the deadliest year on record for football players dying during gameplay. So far this year, 14 association footballers alone have died during gameplay. This is the highest amount of deaths by far, according to the chart listed here on Wikipedia.
While this number is high, when we zoom out and look at the list compiled by the German paper, these instances appear to be unusually large.
As Berliner Zeitung points out, emergency situations have come up again and again in the last few weeks and months:
Exactly what is causing this increase in deaths and sudden collapses is unknown.
German Newspaper Highlights: 'Unusually Large' Number of Soccer Players Who Have Collapsed Recently.
According to research by Dr. Yaffa Shir-Raz, there has been a ''5-fold increase in sudden cardiac deaths of FIFA players in 2021.''
As Shir-Raz points out:
''This figure is found to be statistically significant. In fact, there is no other year since 2001 where the difference between the number of observed cases of SCD/SUD and the expected number is statistically significant. In 2021 it is highly statistically significant and only likely to happen by chance about 2 in 1,000 times.''
The numbers are startling and yet no one appears to be looking into what's causing it. As no one looks into the reported increases in collapses and deaths, this week, yet another healthy young footballer collapsed during a game. Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck collapsed with no one around him during their game against Reading.
''I didn't see exactly what happened,'' Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic told BBC Radio Sheffield. ''One moment he fell down. It was a really complicated situation.''
The game was subsequently stopped for 10 minutes as paramedics rendered live-saving aid to Fleck on the field.
''He is conscious in hospital and he asked for the result. We hope everything will be OK with him.
''It's not easy for the players to focus on the moment after. Fortunately, the team is fighting well and we weren't scared of our weaknesses. We were fighting for the three points.''
''It's horrible whenever something like that happens on the pitch,'' goalscorer Bogle told BBC Radio Sheffield. ''The main thing tonight is that he's OK and that he's stable.
''It happens so quickly. You don't expect it, you expect to play a normal football match. You don't really think about those things going into games.''
After Fleck's collapse, former England and Southampton star and Sky News sports announcer Matt Le Tissier called for an immediate investigation.
Indeed, it seems rather odd that this isn't being reported on by more news outlets or being looked into by the respective health departments in these different countries.
Russia & Saudi Arabia respond to US oil move '-- RT Business News
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 11:59
OPEC and Russia are mulling a pause in the previously agreed on increase in oil production after Washington's announcement of the release of strategic crude reserves, media reports say.
According to the Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the talks, other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) do not see the pause as necessary. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are reportedly among the latter.
Saudi Arabia, the largest OPEC producer, and Russia have been at the helm of the effort to stabilize the oil supply on the global market during the Covid-19 pandemic recovery. OPEC, Russia, and a number of other oil-producing states struck a long-term deal earlier this year to boost their collective oil output by 400,000 barrels a day through next year, until they reach pre-pandemic production levels, which was slashed at the height of the pandemic to battle oversupply.
The US said on Tuesday it would release 50 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserves to curb rising gasoline prices, in a coordinated move with a number of other major oil consumers, including Japan, the UK, India, China, and South Korea. All of them, except for China, also announced the release of reserves at varying volumes. However, the plan is seen by some as an empty gesture, as its proposed volume equals roughly one day's worth of global demand for crude.
Washington's move came after repeated attempts to pressure OPEC and allies to increase production over the agreed to level. The group argued that it would result in oversupply, and has stuck to its plan so far.
OPEC+ agreed to meet monthly to assess the oil supply-demand correlation and adjust the output boost policy if necessary. They are scheduled to meet next week.
The US' efforts have not borne fruit so far. After slightly dropping on news of the release of reserves on Tuesday, oil resumed its upward trend. Brent crude was up 15 cents at $82.40 a barrel early on Thursday, while US crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate was also trading higher at $78.41 a barrel, as of 06:26 GMT.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
Head nurse in Slovenia '' Vials of vaccines 1, 2, 3 mean who will live and who will die '' World-Signals News
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 03:28
Head nurse in Slovenia '' Vials of vaccines 1, 2, 3 mean who will live and who will die They are trying their best to prevent the scandal in Slovenia from going out of the country, but here it is abroad.
A big scandal broke out in Slovenia soon and today everyone is talking about vaccination. The head nurse of the University Medical Center in Ljubljana, which takes care of receiving the vaccines and manages everything, has resigned. He went out in front of the cameras and showed the vials of liquids.
She showed people the codes on the labels, each containing 1, 2, or 3 digits in the code, and then explained the meaning of those numbers. Number 1 is placebo, saline. Number 2 is classical RNA. The number 3 is an RNA stick that contains the onco gene associated with the adenovirus, which contributes to the development of cancer. For these vials, number 3 says that people who receive it within 2 years will have soft tissue cancer.
She says she has personally witnessed the vaccination of all politicians and tycoons and all received liquid number 1.And that explains why the same character stabs all our politicians when they shoot for the media.
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New Botswana variant with 32 'horrific' mutations is the most evolved Covid strain EVER | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 01:33
British experts have sounded the alarm over a new Covid variant believed to have emerged in Botswana that is the most mutated version of the virus yet.
Only 10 cases of the strain, which could eventually be named 'Nu', have been detected so far.
But it has already been spotted in three countries, suggesting the variant is more widespread.
It carries 32 mutations, many of which suggest it is highly transmissible and vaccine-resistant, and has more alterations to its spike protein than any other variant.
Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, said it likely emerged in a lingering infection in an immunocompromised patient, possibly someone with undiagnosed AIDS.
Changes to the spike make it difficult for current jabs to fight off, because they train the immune system to recognise an older version of this part of the virus.
Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College who first picked up on its spread, described the variant's combination of mutations as 'horrific'.
He warned that B.1.1.529, its scientific name, had the potential to be 'worse than nearly anything else about' '-- including the world-dominant Delta strain.
Scientists told MailOnline, however, that its unprecedented number of mutations might work against it and make it 'unstable', preventing it from becoming widespread.
They said there was 'no need to be overly concerned' because there were no signs yet that it was spreading rapidly.
Three infections have been detected in Botswana to date and six in South Africa '-- where variant surveillance is more robust.
One case has also been spotted in a 36-year-old man in Hong Kong who recently returned from the continent.
There are no cases in Britain. But the UK Health Security Agency, which took over from Public Health England, said it was monitoring the situation closely.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said the variant was 'not seen as something that is an issue' for the UK at present.
The mutant variant has sparked concern because of its 'very extensive' set of mutations.
Professor Francois Balloux, a geneticist at University College London, said it was likely the variant would be much more able to dodge antibodies than Delta.
He told MailOnline: 'For the time being, it should be closely monitored.
'But there's no need to be overly concerned, unless it starts going up in frequency.'
He said its many mutations suggested it could have emerged during a lingering infection in an immunocompromised person, such as an AIDS patient.
What is the new 'Botswana' B.1.1.529 variant? Should I be concerned?
Britons should not be 'overly concerned' about the variant, scientists say.
Its mutations suggest it is better able to evade vaccine-induced antibodies and more transmissible than other variants.
But this is yet to be backed up by lab tests or real-world data.
Where have the cases been detected?
Ten cases have been detected so far.
There are three in Botswana, and six in South Africa.
A case has also been detected in Hong Kong in a 36-year-old man who had recently returned from the African continent.
No cases have been recorded in Britain to date. UK officials said they were monitoring the situation closely.
Can the strain dodge vaccine-induced immunity?
Scientists say the strains mutations suggest it is better able to dodge immunity from vaccines.
Some warned it 'looks like' it could be better at dodging jabs than all other variants, including the South African 'Beta' strain.
It carries mutations K417N and E484A, which are similar to those on the Beta variant that made it more jab resistant.
But it also has mutations N440K, found on Delta, and S477N, on the New York variant, that could also make it more resistant.
B.1.1.529 also carries mutations P681H and N679K which are 'rarely seen together' on a specific part of the spike protein.
In patients with weakened immune systems infections can linger for months because the body is unable to fight it off.
This gives the virus time to acquire mutations that allow it to get around the body's defences.
Scientists previously said the Kent 'Alpha' variant may have emerged in this way.
Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at Warwick Medical School, said it 'looks like' this mutant strain could be better at dodging vaccine-triggered immunity than other mutants based on its mutations.
But he added: 'It's always difficult to say just by looking at [mutations], and so much depends on how the immune system sees the change and responds.
'But it looks like just because of the severe load of [mutations] '-- some of which we know about quite a bit in terms of harming transmission '-- it looks like it might be slightly more qorrying than the South African variant.'
He said it was hard to tell whether the virus would be more transmissible than Delta at this stage.
Professor David Livermore, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, said the Botswana variant had sparked concern because of its 'very extensive' set of mutations.
He said: 'This increases the risk of vaccine escape, but doesn't prove that it will occur.
'Nor is the strain's infectiousness clear, and it too will be affected by the spike's structure.'
The Botswana variant carries mutations K417N and E484A that are similar to those on the South African 'Beta' variant that made it better able to dodge vaccines.
But it also has the N440K, found on Delta, and S477N, on the New York variant, which are also linked to antibody escape.
The variant also has mutations P681H and N679K which are 'rarely seen together' and could make it yet more jab resistant.
And the mutation N501Y that makes viruses more transmissible and was previously seen on the Kent 'Alpha' variant and Beta among others.
Other mutations it has include G446S, T478K, Q493K, G496S, Q498R and Y505H, although their significance is not yet clear.
Dr Meera Chand, from the UKHSA, said: 'The UK Health Security Agency, in partnership with scientific bodies across the globe, is constantly monitoring the status of SARS-CoV-2 variants as they emerge and develop worldwide.
'As it is in the nature of viruses to mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed.'
It comes as Covid cases continued to rise across the UK but deaths and hospitalisations still firmly trended downwards.
Another 43,676 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours, a rise of 14.1 per cent on the 38,263 confirmed positive cases last Wednesday.
Just 62 per 100,000 people in England would be hospitalised if they were exposed to Covid with no further restrictions put in place, according to research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It has the lowest expected admissions in Europe thanks to its successful booster rollout and high levels of prior infection
England would only suffer 35,000 Covid hospital admissions if EVERYONE caught virus right now England would only suffer 35,000 Covid hospitalisations if the entire population got infected right now compared to a quarter of a million in Germany, a study backed by several SAGE scientists has found.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) analysis suggests the NHS is unlikely to be overwhelmed by the virus even in the event of a major surge.
Researchers looked at vaccination rates and cumulative infection numbers in 18 countries in Europe to estimate levels of immunity and work out what would happen if everyone was suddenly exposed to the virus.
England would be the least affected in the hypothetical scenario with 34,720 admissions and 6,200 deaths. Even though the model only looked at England, there is nothing to suggest Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be hit harder.
There have been more than 500,000 Covid hospitalisations in England alone in the last 18 months, for comparison, with just over 140,000 dying with the virus.
The study estimated around 280,000 people in Germany would be hospitalised with the virus '-- the most of any country in Europe '-- while Romania would suffer around 150,000.
The researchers include Dr Rosanna Barnard, Dr Nick Davies and Dr Adam Kucharski '-- three members of SAGE whose modelling has been instrumental in Government policy during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 722 Britons infected with the virus sought NHS care on Saturday, the latest date figures are available for, marking a 7.3 per cent drop week-on-week.
And daily Covid fatalities fell by a quarter, with 149 people dying within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
Both measurements lag two to three weeks behind the trend in cases due to a delay between a person catching Covid and becoming severely unwell.
Cases have been trending upwards in the UK for the past fortnight after schools went back from the half-term break at the start of the month.
Infections are concentrated among younger age groups, while booster jabs are driving down cases among the over-60s.
A study by SAGE scientists found today England would only suffer 35,000 Covid hospitalisations if the entire population got infected right now compared to a quarter of a million in Germany.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) analysis suggested the NHS is unlikely to be overwhelmed by the virus even in the event of a major surge.
Researchers looked at vaccination rates and cumulative infection numbers in 18 countries in Europe to estimate levels of immunity and work out what would happen if everyone was suddenly exposed to the virus.
England would be the least affected in the hypothetical scenario with 34,720 admissions and 6,200 deaths.
Even though the model only looked at England, there is nothing to suggest Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be hit harder.
There have been more than 500,000 Covid hospitalisations in England alone in the last 18 months, for comparison, with just over 140,000 dying with the virus.
The study estimated around 280,000 people in Germany would be hospitalised with the virus '-- the most of any country in Europe '-- while Romania would suffer around 150,000.
The researchers include Dr Rosanna Barnard, Dr Nick Davies and Dr Adam Kucharski '-- three members of SAGE whose modelling has been instrumental in Government policy during the pandemic.
They said higher levels of prior infection and the success of the booster rollout in England meant the country is likely to be better protected than its neighbours this winter.
Britain was branded the 'sick man of Europe' this summer after it dropped all restrictions in England in July and saw cases spiral to as much as 50,000 a day. But experts now say opening up early allowed the country to frontload its cases, meaning more people now have immunity than in Europe.
Scientists also believe Britain's longer dosage gap between vaccines '-- 12 weeks compared to three weeks on the continent '-- has afforded Brits longer lasting immunity from jabs.
The Buttigieg presidential buzz has penetrated the White House - POLITICO
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 14:59
While Buttigieg says he's not contemplating the race to be Biden's successor, inside the West Wing, others are imagining it for him. His name is sometimes discussed by aides as a natural Democratic presidential nominee in 2028 '-- or 2024 if the president opts not to run.
''Nobody in the West Wing shuts that down,'' said one person with direct knowledge of the conversations. ''It's very open.''
The chatter has frustrated some staffers of color who see it as disrespectful to Kamala Harris '-- the first Black woman vice president '-- and think senior officials should tamp it down. Some of Buttigieg's former campaign staffers also question whether challenging Harris is feasible given how critical the Black vote is in any Democratic primary, and how Buttigieg struggled to attract those voters the last time around. But there is some existing infrastructure waiting in the wings.
The political action committee he formed in the aftermath of the presidential race, Win the Era, is mostly keeping quiet, but the website remains up and has been organizing occasional events including one on Nov. 15. Former campaign aides Maxwell Nunes and Michael Halle have been helping keep it afloat, according to filings and disbursement reports. Neither of them responded to messages.
As for the reports of an emerging rivalry with the vice president, Buttigieg said: ''We work extremely well with the vice president's team, and I'm proud to be part of the Biden-Harris team and this administration.''
The White House declined to comment.
Buttigieg is getting a taste of what life would be like selling a presidential agenda.
He was in Phoenix on Friday for a trio of events touting construction projects, including places that could benefit from the administration's newly minted infrastructure funding law, and addressing concerns about the supply chain. Arizona Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego all joined him for at least two of the meetings, and there was a lot of mutual praise.
Sinema, who has occasionally given the White House and progressives fits, seemed delighted to appear with Buttigieg at a round table at Mesa Community College where he sat between the two senators. ''Thanks for your leadership,'' in getting the infrastructure bill signed, Buttigieg said.
It was his first day on the road as a prominent face of the president's infrastructure package, a $550 billion legislative initiative he will help implement and sell to the public, with all the political implications that holds for the president.
''What excites me most is that we're going to have a lot of groundbreakings and eventually a lot of ribbon cuttings,'' he said of the year ahead.
While there is no election directly in sight, Buttigieg's initial on-the-ground efforts to promote the infrastructure deal had some familiar elements of his past campaigns. There were lots of news interviews, meet-and-greets with local electeds, die-hard fans in ''Pete'' shirts carrying copies of his book, a protester with a homophobic sign (''Booty Gay Go Away''), and people having trouble pronouncing his name (''Butt-Edge-Edge'' instead of ''Boot-Edge-Edge,'' as the emcee of one event kept pronouncing it).
There were also attempts at that folksy Midwestern humor that were part of his candidacy roughly two years ago. On the benefits of the infrastructure package, he told POLITICO ''this is literally as concrete as it gets.'' He noted how cold it was at the bill signing but said that the bipartisan package ''warmed my heart.''
But, at least atmospherically, there are differences from the 2020 primary too. People now referred to him as ''Secretary Mayor Pete,'' ''Mayor Secretary Pete,'' ''Secretary Pete,'' ''Mayor Pete,'' or the familiar ''Pete.'' For the uninitiated there was also a new documentary on Buttigieg's campaign that premiered on Amazon this month.
''I'm the second most famous mayor in my graduating class, and he's not even mayor'' anymore, laughed Gallego, who attended Harvard University as an undergrad with Buttigieg.
Buttigieg, who's seen the documentary about his 2020 run, said it brought back a lot of memories but demurred when asked if he thought the movie captured who he is. ''I don't even know how to assess a question like that, right? Because I'm just too close to all of those experiences,'' he said.
It was all an unusual scene for the usually mundane life of a Transportation secretary. But Buttigieg is not your typical Transportation secretary. He's the first openly gay cabinet Secretary to be Senate-confirmed and a new parent to two adopted kids who have become social media sensations, sometimes outpacing the president's posts in terms of engagement.
He's seemingly been at the center of political buzz ever since former President Barack Obama dubbed him one of the future stars of the Democratic Party in November 2016, which has also drawn scorn from older, more seasoned politicians who believe his rise would be impossible if he weren't a white man with a Harvard degree.
The current round of presidential speculation comes at a particularly consequential moment for Buttigieg. The Democratic Party is scouring for the next generation of leaders, even more so amid the persistent questions about whether Biden will decide to run for re-election. His aides insist that running again is his ''intention,'' as White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. But some Democrats see that language as equivocal.
At the same time, Buttigieg finds himself at the heart of the Biden administration's top priorities and main liabilities, which will likely have significant effects on his political future. He oversees parts of the supply chain that have been snarled by the Covid-19 pandemic, contributing to inflation and threatening many sectors of the economy.
Or as Senator Kelly, who's up for re-election in 2022, said Friday at a federal grant signing for a light rail project: ''With all the work we dumped on your desk here, you're gonna have the biggest job of any secretary of Transportation I think in decades, if not ever.''
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misstated that Buttigieg is the first openly gay person to be Senate-confirmed. He's the first openly gay cabinet Secretary.
US to Require Truckers Crossing US Borders to Be Vaccinated
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 14:45
The Biden Administration will require all truck drivers who cross US borders to be fully vaccinated. The mandate will go into effect on January 22 and will pertain to all essential travelers. The American Trucking Association has warned a vaccine mandate on truckers will have serious consequences. Loading Something is loading.
President Joe Biden will require all truck drivers who cross US land borders to be fully vaccinated by January 22, the administration planned to announce on Tuesday.
The mandate will apply to all essential, nonresident travelers crossing US land borders, including government and emergency response officials.
The decision comes at the same time that the US is facing major supply chain snags '-- including a shortage of truck drivers. The American Trucking Association warned earlier this month that vaccine mandates for truckers could worsen the supply-chain crisis.
"The US is already facing unprecedented supply chain disruptions and delays due to many factors, including significant labor shortages, production shutdowns, a shortage of raw materials, and pent-up consumer demand," the ATA said in a letter to the administration in October. "Our data shows that a vaccine mandate may very well further cripple the supply chain throughout the country by forcing up to 13% of drivers to leave the industry entirely," the group added.
A senior administration official said the new requirement, which the White House previewed in October, brings the rules for essential travelers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for leisure travelers, when the US reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals.
Essential travelers entering by ferry will also be required to be fully vaccinated by the same date, the official said. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.
The rules pertain to non-US nationals. American citizens and permanent residents may still enter the US regardless of their vaccination status, but face additional testing hurdles because officials believe they more easily contract and spread COVID-19 and in order to encourage them to get a shot.
The Biden administration pushed the requirement for essential travelers by more than two months from when it went into effect on November 8 to prevent disruptions, particularly among truck drivers who are vital to North American trade. While most cross-border traffic was shut down in the earliest days of the pandemic, essential travelers have been able to transit unimpeded.
The later deadline is beyond the point by which the Biden administration hopes to have large businesses require their employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly under an emergency regulation issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. That rule is now delayed by litigation, but the White House has encouraged businesses to implement their own mandates regardless of the federal requirement with the aim of boosting vaccination.
About 47 million adults in the US remain unvaccinated, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Do you work in the trucking industry? Reach out to the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Election Wizard on Twitter: "WATCH: The CEO of the American Trucking Associations says 37% of the association's drivers "not only said 'no,' but 'hell no'" to Biden's vaccine mandate. https://t.co/1qADEjc7n6" / Twitter
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 14:42
Election Wizard : WATCH: The CEO of the American Trucking Associations says 37% of the association's drivers "not only said 'no,' but'... https://t.co/z30u8XBDr2
Wed Nov 24 12:42:15 +0000 2021
CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC ignore NYT bombshell report on Hunter Biden's business deal with Chinese company | Fox News
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:43
Published November 23, 2021
Hunter Biden struck the deal while his father was vice presidentIt wasn't long ago that a New York Times bombshell about business ties between the president's son and a foreign entity would have received wall-to-wall coverage, but that was not the case with the paper's newest report about Hunter Biden.
According to the Times, an investment firm that counts Biden among its founders helped a Chinese company purchase one of the world's most lucrative cobalt mines from an American company while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president. This is renewing concerns about potential conflicts of interest and whether the now-current president had any knowledge about his son's business dealings, which he had previously denied.
HUNTER BIDEN'S FIRM HELPED CHINESE COMPANY PURCHASE RICH COBALT MINE IN $3.8 BILLION DEAL: REPORT
However, the stunning report published by the Times received zero coverage on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, according to transcripts.
The lack of scrutiny towards President Biden's son is nothing new. During the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election, the liberal networks famously avoided covering Hunter Biden's damning laptop that further shed light on his foreign business dealings.
CNN, specifically, spiked the Hunter Biden story as its top bosses were caught on leaked audiotapes saying "we're not going with" the bombshell first reported by the New York Post.
The New York Times report alleged Hunter Biden established the firm Bohai Harvest RST (BHR) Equity Investment Fund Management Company with two other Americans and some Chinese partners in 2013. The American members controlled 30 percent of the Shanghai-based operation and served on the board.
The company notably completed a deal in 2016 that saw a Congo cobalt and copper mine transfer from American company Freeport-McMoRan to Chinese outfit China Molybdenum for the sum of $2.65 billion.
CNN BOSS, POLITICAL DIRECTOR SPIKED HUNTER BIDEN CONTROVERSY, AUDIOTAPES REVEAL: 'WE'RE NOT RUNNING WITH' STORY
BHR served as a minority stakeholder to buy out around $1.14 billion of shares from Lundin Mining of Canada, who owned a portion of the Congo mine.
China Molybdenum then bought BHR's shares of the mine two years later, according to Hong Kong filings. The deal resulted in China Molybdenum owning 80% of the mine, with the remaining portion owned by Congo's state mining enterprise.
The Time reported that Biden controlled 10 percent of BHR through Skaneateles LLC, a company based in Washington.
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2020, file photo, President-elect Joe Biden, right, embraces his son Hunter Biden, left, in Wilmington, Del. Biden's son Hunter says he has learned from federal prosecutors that his tax affairs are under investigation. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Chris Clark, a lawyer for Biden, said he "no longer holds any interest, directly or indirectly, in either BHR or Skaneateles," and Chinese records indicated Biden was not a member on the board as of April 2020.
But Chinese business records reviewed by Fox News in April 2021 showed that Hunter Biden continued to hold a 10% stake in Chinese private equity firm Bohai Harvest RST Equity Investment Fund Management Co. through Hunter's company, Skaneateles LLC.
"He has been working to unwind his investment, but I would certainly point you '-- he's a private citizen," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at that time. "I would point you to him or his lawyers on the outside on any update."
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"We don't know Hunter Biden, nor are we aware of his involvement in BHR," Vincent Zhou, a spokesman for China Molybdenum, said in an email.
The deal was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon in January 2020.
Hunter Biden's business ties remain an item of intense scrutiny for the media, particularly his activity in China. President Biden particularly warned about China's growing dominance of cobalt as a stumbling block to America's attempts at shifting from petrol gas to electric cars, as cobalt is a key ingredient in electric car batteries.
Fox News' Peter Aitken contributed to this report.
Google employees sign manifesto against widened Covid vaccine mandate
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:41
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google
Anindito Mukherjee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Several hundred Google employees have signed and circulated a manifesto opposing the company's Covid vaccine mandate, posing the latest challenge for leadership as it approaches key deadlines for returning workers to offices in person.
The Biden administration has ordered U.S. companies with 100 or more workers to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19 by Jan. 4. In response, Google asked its more than 150,000 employees to upload their vaccination status to its internal systems by Dec. 3, whether they plan to come into the office or not, according to internal documents viewed by CNBC.
The company has also said that all employees who work directly or indirectly with government contracts must be vaccinated '-- even if they are working from home.
"Vaccines are key to our ability to enable a safe return to office for everyone and minimize the spread of Covid-19 in our communities," wrote Chris Rackow, Google VP of security, in an email sent near the end of October.
Rackow said the company was already implementing requirements, so the changes from Biden's executive order were "minimal." His email gave a deadline of Nov. 12 for employees to request exemptions for reasons such as religious beliefs or medical conditions and said that exceptions would be granted on a case-by-case basis.
The manifesto within Google, which has been signed by at least 600 Google employees, asks company leaders to retract the vaccine mandate and create a new one that is "inclusive of all Googlers," arguing leadership's decision will have outsize influence in corporate America. It also calls on employees to "oppose the mandate as a matter of principle" and tells employees to not let the policy alter their decision if they've already chosen not to get the Covid vaccine.
Although only a tiny portion of Google's overall workforce has signed the document, momentum could grow as the return-to-work deadline nears. Most of the company's employees are expected to return to physical offices three days a week starting Jan. 10.
The manifesto is also the latest example of how unusually outspoken Google's employees are. They have previously debated everything from government contracts to cafeteria food changes, sometimes spurring the company to change course. For instance, in 2018, the company did not renew a Pentagon contract to work on artificial intelligence after some employees complained it could be used for deadly purposes.
A spokesperson for Google said the company stands behind its policy: "As we've stated to all our employees and the author of this document, our vaccination requirements are one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running. We firmly stand behind our vaccination policy."
The mandate dilemmaVaccination is a dilemma not only for Google but for corporate America in general. The Covid-19 virus has contributed to 772,570 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins data. Despite vaccination's proven effectiveness in providing a high level of protection against hospitalization and death, the country is struggling to persuade the more than 60 million Americans who remain unvaccinated to get their first dose.
In July, CEO Sundar Pichai announced the company would require vaccinations for those returning to offices. In October, Pichai said that the San Francisco Bay Area offices, near its headquarters, are up to 30% filled, while the New York offices are seeing nearly half of employees back. He added at that time that employees who don't want to get vaccinated would be able to continue working remotely.
The company has taken other steps to persuade employees to get vaccinated as well. For instance, Joe Kava, vice president of data centers at Google, announced a $5,000 vaccination incentive spot bonus for U.S. data center employees, according to the manifesto.
In an email cited in the manifesto and viewed by CNBC, Google's vice president of global security, Chris Rackow, said that because of the company's work with the federal government, which "today encompasses products and services spanning Ads, Cloud Maps, Workspace and more," all employees working directly or indirectly with government contracts will require vaccinations '-- even if they are working from home. Frequent testing is "not a valid alternative," he added.
The authors of the manifesto strongly disagree.
"I believe that Sundar's Vaccine Mandate is deeply flawed," the manifesto says, calling company leadership "coercive" and "the antithesis of inclusion."
In a section titled "Respect the User," the authors write that the mandate of "barring unvaccinated Googlers from the office publicly and possibly embarrassingly exposes a private choice as it would be difficult for the Googler not to reveal why they cannot return."
The author also argues the mandate violates the company's principles of inclusiveness.
"Such Googlers may never feel comfortable expressing their true sentiments about a company health policy and other, unrelated sensitive topics. This results in silenced perspective and exacerbates the internal ideological 'echo chamber' which folks both inside and outside of Google have observed for years."
The manifesto also opposes Google having a record of employees' vaccination status.
"I do not believe Google should be privy to the health and medical history of Googlers and the vaccination status is no exception." Google has asked employees to upload their vaccination proof to Google's "environmental health and safety" team even if they already uploaded it to One Medical, one of Google's benefits providers, according to internal documentation.
The author then argues that the vaccine mandate may be the start of a slippery slope, paving the way for other intrusive measures '-- a common line of argument among people opposed to the mandates.
"It normalizes medical intervention compulsion not only for Covid-19 vaccination but for future vaccines and possibly even non-vaccine interventions by extension," the document says. "It justifies the principle of division and unequal treatment of Googlers based on their personal beliefs and decisions. The implications are chilling. Due to its presence as an industry leader, Google's mandate will influence companies around the world to consider these as acceptable tradeoffs."
The group has sent these concerns in an open letter to Google's chief health officer, Karen DeSalvo, the document states.
In Google's most recent all-hands meeting, called TGIF, some employees attempted to bring more attention to the vaccine question by getting fellow employees to "downvote" other questions in an internal system called Dory, according to an internal email chain viewed by CNBC. The goal was to ensure their questions would gain enough votes to qualify for executives to address them.
Google's health ambitionsThe pushback against vaccine mandates poses a new challenge for Google's leadership at a time when it is trying to target the health-care industry among its growing business ambitions '-- particularly for its cloud unit.
In August, Google disbanded its health unit as a formalized business unit for the health-care sector, and Dr. David Feinberg, who spent the past two years leading the search giant's health-care unit, left the company. Nonetheless, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian has routinely mentioned the health-care sector as a key focus area, and DeSalvo, an ex-Obama administrator whom Google hired as its first health chief in 2019, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in October that the tech giant is "still all in on health."
Google has tried to capitalize on the broader fight against Covid in several ways. In the first half of 2021, it spent nearly $30 million on at-home employee Covid tests from Cue Health, which went public in September at a $3 billion valuation. Shortly after, the company announced a separate partnership with Google's cloud unit to collect and analyze Covid data with hopes of predicting future variants. Google also teamed up with Apple for an opt-in contact tracing software in hopes of tracking the spread of the virus.
Bank of England sees CBDCs as a revolution for the future of money
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:40
In an event streamed live on Wednesday, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey and deputy governor for financial stability Sir Jon Cunliffe answered questions from lawmakers from the Economic Affairs Committee. When asked about the growth of innovation surrounding digital currencies in the country, Sir Cunliffe gave the following comment:
"It's quite difficult to predict how innovators will take money and actually use money going forward. But we are starting to see programmable money being used in the crypto world. And I would expect we would see a similar revolution in the functionality of money driven by technology."Sir Jon Cunliffe discussing CBDCs | Source: Parliamentlive.tv
The Bank of England is currently exploring options to implement a digital pound CBDC for retail payments. A task force behind the CBDC is also investigating the use of a digital pound for distributing payrolls, pensions, etc.
In supporting the initiative, Sir Cunliffe cites the rapidly declining use of cash in the United Kingdom in recent years '-- which was greatly accelerated by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic that discouraged physical contact in transactions. An estimated 30% of transactions in the country now occur via e-commerce.
When asked about the potential demand of a digital pound CBDC, Sir Cunliffe said:
"We've modeled a very prudent assumption, which is that basically 20% of [household and corporate transactional] deposits based in the banking system could move out of the banking system and into central bank digital money."Nevertheless, Sir Cunliffe admitted that the current state of crypto affairs could potentially threaten financial stability within the country. The market cap on cryptocurrencies has surged to $2.6 trillion in a very short time, with an estimated 95% of digital assets being unbanked and 5% consisting of stablecoins. On the opposite side of the Atlantic, the United States has less of a positive outlook, saying that regulated stablecoins designed by the private sector make CBDCs redundant.
Facebook fed violence, nudity posts to users with low digital literacy
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:39
Two years ago, Facebook researchers conducted a five-question survey designed to assess its users' digital literacy skills.
It tested users on how well they understood Facebook's app interface and terms like ''tagging'' someone on social media. Their score was the number of questions they answered correctly. The researchers then compared the users' scores to the types of content Facebook's algorithms fed them over a 30-day period.
They found that, on average, the users' scores nearly perfectly predicted the percentage of posts that appeared in their feeds containing graphic violence and borderline nudity. Users who answered none of the questions correctly saw 11.4% more nudity and 13.4% more graphic violence than users who correctly answered all five.
''This is super interesting,'' an employee commented on an internal post about the study. ''It's also super sobering to realize that the 'default' feed experience, so to speak, includes nudity + borderline content unless otherwise controlled.''
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In another study, Facebook researchers conducted dozens of in-depth interviews and in-home visits with 18 real people from one city who they'd identified as vulnerable users with low digital literacy skills. The upsetting posts that permeated these users' feeds, the study determined, caused them to disconnect from Facebook for long periods and exacerbated hardships they were already experiencing.
For instance, Facebook repeatedly showed a middle-aged Black woman posts about racial resentment and videos of people bullying children, threatening, and killing other people. A person who joined a Narcotics Anonymous Facebook group started seeing ads, recommendations, and posts about alcoholic beverages. Soon after another person started following coupon and savings pages, their feed became inundated with financial scams.
The studies are among several conducted by Facebook in recent years into the damaging effects of its platforms on people with low digital literacy skills, according to documents provided to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress by attorneys for Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee. A consortium of 17 news organizations, including USA TODAY, obtained redacted copies of them.
The studies concluded that Facebook's algorithms harmed people less conversant with technology by continually exposing them to disturbing content they didn't know how to avoid. Many of them did not know how to hide posts, unfollow pages, block friends, or report violating content. But the algorithms mistook their lack of negative feedback for approval and fed them more.
''Low-skilled users lack the abilities to cope with uncomfortable content, and instead mainly scroll past it, leaving the user with a bad experience and Facebook clueless of the user's preferences,'' one researcher wrote.
Only a small fraction of posts on Facebook '' less than one-tenth of one percent, according to company estimates '' show violating content, said Drew Pusateri, a spokesperson for Facebook's parent company, Meta. He also noted its research found users with low digital literacy on average saw less hate content. The research said this may be because users who view hate content tend to seek it out, and tech-savvy people may be better at locating it.
"As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on Facebook," Pusateri said. "The growth of people or advertisers using Facebook means nothing if our services aren't being used in ways that bring people closer together."
Facebook has spent over $5 billion this year on safety and security and dedicated 40,000 people to work on these issues, he said.
Facebook literacy: Who has trouble
Users with low digital literacy skills were significantly more likely to be older, people of color, lower-educated and of lower socioeconomic status, the studies found. They were also far more likely to live outside the U.S.
Between one-quarter and one-third of all Facebook users qualify as low-tech-skilled, the researchers estimated. That included roughly one-sixth of U.S. users and as many as half of the users in some ''emerging markets.''
"When you think about who's being harmed by the choices that Facebook and other platforms are making, it is those who have been who've been harmed in the past in structurally, historically, systemic kinds of ways," said Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, an advocacy group that aims to bridge the digital divide in part through digital literacy education.
"Whether it's a broadband service or a platform, we have to stop pretending that their interests completely align with those of individuals and community members," Siefer said. "If we keep pretending like they align, then we're going to be sorely disappointed again, again and again."
When Facebook researchers showed users in this demographic how to use functions like 'hide' and 'unfollow' to curate their feeds, they started using them regularly and their experiences improved significantly, the researchers found. Facebook also tested an ''Easy Hide'' button that quadrupled the number of posts people hid.
The researchers recommended Facebook undertake extensive education campaigns about these features, make them prominent, and stop showing users content from groups and pages they do not follow.
Facebook does not appear to have deployed Easy Hide. It has introduced other features, Pusateri said, including "Why am I seeing this post?" in 2019. That feature allows users to see how their previous interactions on the website shape its algorithms' decisions to prioritize specific posts in their feeds.
What is digital literacy?
The concept of digital literacy encompasses a broad range of skills necessary to use the internet safely, according to Facebook researchers. It covers functional skills online, like knowing how to create an account or adjust one's privacy settings, as well as basic reading and language skills and the ability to assess information as subjective, biased, or false.
The strongest predictor of users' digital literacy skills was the length of time they've been on the platform, a Facebook analysis found. Generally, lower-skilled users did not understand how content came to appear in their feeds or how to control it. They include people who may have been familiar with technology but still vulnerable to misinformation, hoaxes, and scams, like some teenagers.
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Amy VanDeVelde is the national technology program director for Connections, a branch of The Oasis Institute, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that teaches older adults digital literacy and cybersecurity skills. Connections offers two Facebook courses that teach people how to hide posts and change their privacy settings, among other features.
"Some of what I think is plaguing digital newcomers when they're getting to use Facebook is a kind of sensory overload," VanDeVelde said. "There are so many things to look at and so many options. They have no idea about what the algorithm does, how to turn off notifications, and how to report any content that they don't want."
A lot of older adults join Facebook to view photos of their grandchildren, get in touch with old friends and join support groups, VanDeVelde said. They don't always understand how their interactions on the platform can be used to take advantage of them.
Allan S.,who requested his full name not be published out of concerns for his online privacy, is an older Facebook user who enjoyed participating in nostalgic polls and quizzes when he first joined the website several years ago. It wasn't until he took a Connections course that he realized some polls asked for personal information, like his favorite subject in school, that could be used to reset his online account passwords through security questions.
"It's not as if you get on Facebook and all the sudden you know what you're doing," he told USA TODAY. "They don't come right out and tell you, 'You should do this, you shouldn't do that."
He described a recent incident that put in perspective how much information Facebook was collecting about people's private lives.
It's just amazing how this harmless little thing is not necessarily that harmless.
Allan S., an older Facebook user
On an online dating site, he had been chatting with a woman who did not provide her last name, he said. Nor did he provide his. They spoke once on the phone, and soon after, Facebook recommended he send her a friend request. Her Facebook profile showed her last name.
"To be perfectly honest, I felt very uncomfortable that, at that point, I had access to more about her than she wanted me to know," he said. "It's just amazing how this harmless little thing is not necessarily that harmless. It's not necessarily all that bad. But you can't use it without being careful."
Why some Facebook users have problems using the platform
Some of the problems facing these users are of the company's own making, the researchers found. For instance, people did not understand why Facebook was recommending content from pages they did not follow or like.
Users with lower digital literacy tended to heavily use Facebook's Watch, a curated feed of popular and viral videos. One study found Watch showed irrelevant and potentially uncomfortable content to these users, who provided little negative feedback.
Additionally, when random Facebook groups would invite users to join, Facebook's algorithms would include posts by the groups in the users' feeds while the invitations were pending. These posts confused and sometimes disturbed these users. One researcher remarked that the feature ''seems like a loophole in Facebook's policies.''
''(T)his may contribute to user's perception that their feed is a stream of unconnected content which they have little agency over,'' the researcher wrote.
The problems compounded for users less conversant with technology in countries Facebook classified as ''at-risk,'' including India, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Ethiopia, Russia and the Philippines, the research found. Users from Myanmar and some other countries tended to indiscriminately send and accept friend requests and join pages and groups, which are major vectors of divisive content and misinformation, one study found. Low-quality information, including about COVID-19, was also more prevalent in low-language-literacy regions.
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Facebook has added ''veracity cues'' to help users combat misinformation, but researchers found users with low tech skills '' particularly in other countries '' did not understand them or paid little attention to them. These users mistook virality as a barometer for trustworthiness, didn't notice verification badges and overlooked warning prompts designed to alert them to old and out-of-context photos in posts.
Facebook researchers criticized the neutral language in its warning prompts, saying it didn't arouse enough skepticism. Phrases like, ''This post includes a photo that was shared three years ago,'' for example, did little to deter users in some areas from clicking ''Share Anyway.''
Instead, researchers recommended Facebook use strong words like ''caution,'' ''misleading,'' and ''deceiving'' to convey seriousness and command attention. Facebook could also more direct to users about why certain posts raise suspicion, they said, such as by saying, ''Old photos can be misleading.''
But these recommendations ''come at odds with (CEO) Mark (Zuckerberg)'s latest guidance to keep our messaging neutral in tone and language choice in circumstances like these,'' where Facebook's algorithms may be imperfect at recognizing misleading content, one study from October 2020 noted.
Zuckerberg feared false positives, the study said, preferring to err on the side on and under-enforcement and nonjudgment. This frustrated some employees.
''(T)his will be a very tough pill to swallow internally,'' an employee commented on the study. ''At a gut level, letting borderline misinformation and bad-faith attacks at democracy/civility go unpunished feels like a moral affront.
''If this is really where Mark's head is at, I'd expect more and more internal values-based conflict in the coming years and months.''
Not Fucking Around Coalition - Wikipedia
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 04:28
US black nationalist paramilitary organization
Not Fucking Around CoalitionLeaderJohn Fitzgerald Johnson (Grand Master Jay)Foundation2017 ; 4 years ago ( 2017 ) CountryUnited StatesMotivesEstablished to protect, self-police, and educate Black communities on firearms and their constitutional rights Establishment of a separate Black nationActive regionsSouthern United StatesIdeologyBlack nationalismBlack separatismStatusActiveThe Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC) is a black nationalist militia group in the United States. The group advocates for black liberation and separatism. It has been described by news outlets as a ''Black militia''. It denies any connection to the Black Panther Party or Black Lives Matter.
Background and organization [ edit ] John Fitzgerald Johnson, also known as Grand Master Jay and John Jay Fitzgerald Johnson, claims leadership of the group and has stated that it is composed of "ex military shooters." Johnson served in the Virginia National Guard and the Army from 1989 to 2006, leaving at the rank of private. He was an independent candidate for U.S. president in 2016 and has stated: "We are a Black militia. We aren't protesters, we aren't demonstrators. We don't come to sing, we don't come to chant. That's not what we do." Furthermore, in the same interview, Johnson expressed Black Nationalist views, putting forth the view that the United States should either hand the state of Texas over to African-Americans so that they may form an independent country, or allow African-Americans to depart the United States to another country that would provide land upon which to form an independent nation. In April 2021 Johnson expanded on this notion, telling the Atlantic that the intention of the NFAC was to establish the "United Black Kemetic Nation", a strictly black ethno-state.
In 2019, Johnson told the Atlanta Black Star that the organization was formed to prevent another Greensboro Massacre.
Thomas Mockaitis, professor of history at DePaul University stated: "In one sense it (NFAC) echoes the Black Panthers but they are more heavily armed and more disciplined... So far, they've coordinated with police and avoided engaging with violence."
NFAC mandates that members have a concealed-carry permit or the ability to obtain one.
Activities [ edit ] The first reported appearance of NFAC members was a May 12, 2020, protest near Brunswick, Georgia, over the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery, though they were identified by local media as "Black Panthers".
Johnson stated that NFAC provided armed security for the sister of Rayshard Brooks at her request. NFAC escorted her to a rally in downtown Atlanta in late June.
On the Fourth of July, 2020, local media reported that about 100 to 200 mostly armed NFAC members marched through Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia, calling for the removal of the Confederate monument. Reuters reported the number of participants as "scores." The NFAC posted videos of the event and reported the number as 1,500. The Stone Mountain Memorial Association, which operates the park, stated that the protesters were peaceful and orderly. Johnson stated of the site, which is important to the Ku Klux Klan: "Our initial goal was to have a formation of our militia in Stone Mountain to send a message that as long as you're abolishing all these statues across the country, what about this one?" He also stated that the formation was a response to a threat by the KKK to start shooting black people at 8 pm on the Fourth of July, 2020. Johnson thus stated at the formation, "I want the heart of the Ku Klux Klan to hear me no matter where the fuck you are. I'm in your house. Where you at? You made a threat. We don't threaten."
On July 25, a local news outlet stated that "more than 300" members were gathered in Louisville, Kentucky to protest the lack of action against the officers responsible for the March killing of Breonna Taylor. The NFAC posted a video of the event on its official YouTube page, reporting the number of militia members registered and present as 3,500. On July 20, preceding the event, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisville Metro Council President David James had a phone conversation with Johnson, which the AG's office described as "productive". In response to the announced NFAC presence, about 50 armed Three Percenters counter-protested. Louisville police in riot gear helped to facilitate the maintenance of space between the groups. Three NFAC members were wounded during a negligent weapon discharge. The NFAC said that the discharge occurred when a person who was not yet admitted into the formation collapsed from heat exhaustion and fired her weapon into the ground. The weapon was an older shotgun that Johnson said would not have been approved for the formation. The shotgun projectiles hit the ground, then ricocheted and hit three people. Johnson reported that two of those hit were checked by medics and cleared to continue to participate in the formation.[better source needed ]
On October 3, over 400 members of the NFAC along with over 200 other armed protesters marched in downtown Lafayette, Louisiana. This demonstration was sparked after United States Representative Clay Higgins made threats against protesters who showed up armed regarding the shooting of Trayford Pellerin at the hands of police. Johnson along with other speakers gave speeches at the Parc San Souci, urging members to continue protesting. A protest attendee, not associated with the NFAC, was arrested after accidentally discharging a handgun. No one was injured. Afterwards, the group marched and left.
On November 2, Kansas City-based activist Keiajah Brooks announced via Twitter that she was under protection from the NFAC after multiple alleged instances of harassment committed by officers from the Kansas City Police Department. A week prior, she went viral online shortly after a video was released of her criticizing the local city commissioners for ''choosing profits over people'' as well as her push for the Police Chief Rick Smith to resign.
On December 3, Johnson was arrested by the FBI for allegedly aiming his rifle at police officers during protests about Breonna Taylor's killing. He was later federally indicted the following year on February 24, 2021, and awaits trial.
On June 23, 2021, former NFAC member Othal "Ozone" Wallace shot and critically wounded Daytona Beach Police Department Officer Jason Raynor in the head whilst he was conducting a "proactive patrol". He then attempted to disable the bodycam worn by the Officer.  3 days later, Wallace was arrested after police found out he was hiding at an alleged NFAC-affiliated property in DeKalb County, Georgia. According to Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young, four other people were at the said property, along with multiple firearms, multiple flashbangs, body armor, and ammunition. The NFAC stated Othal Wallace was terminated from the organization on January 21, 2021. They also said they were not affiliated with the property as reported, claiming that it was owned by another ex-NFAC member.
See also [ edit ] 2020''2021 United States racial unrest2020 George Floyd ProtestsReferences [ edit ] ^ "What Is the NFAC, and Who Is Grandmaster Jay?" . Retrieved October 4, 2020 . ^ a b c d Chavez, Nicole; Young, Ryan; Barajas, Angela (October 25, 2020). "An all-Black group is arming itself and demanding change. They are the NFAC". CNN. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021 . Retrieved November 8, 2020 . ^ Neil, Shane Paul (September 4, 2020). "What Is the NFAC, & Who Is Grandmaster Jay?". Complex . Retrieved November 24, 2020 . ^ Owen, Tess (October 28, 2020). " ' If You Attack Us, We Will Kill You': The Not Fucking Around Coalition Wants to Protect Black Americans". Vice News. Archived from the original on January 7, 2021 . Retrieved December 5, 2020 . ^ Shugerman, Emily; James, Gerry Seavo (July 25, 2020). "Three Injured as Rival Armed Militias Converge on Louisville". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on April 15, 2021 . Retrieved July 27, 2020 . ^ Blest, Paul (July 27, 2020). "Protests Against Police Brutality and Trump's Secret Police Are Exploding Across the U.S." Vice News. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021 . Retrieved July 27, 2020 . ^ "Black militia called 'Not F-king Around Coalition' demonstrates; angered at 'Black Panther' comparison". Law Enforcement Today. July 6, 2020 . Retrieved October 6, 2020 . ^ a b Ashley, Asia (July 6, 2020). "Local militia challenges White supremacy during Fourth of July march". The Champion. Archived from the original on June 2, 2021 . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . ^ a b Davis, Zuri (May 29, 2020). "Black Civilians Arm Themselves To Protest Racial Violence and Protect Black-Owned Businesses". Reason. Archived from the original on April 29, 2021 . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . ^ a b c Fearnow, Benjamin (July 5, 2020). "Armed Black Militia Challenges White Nationalists at Georgia's Stone Mountain Park". Newsweek . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . [better source needed ] ^ "New Black Nationalist Statement Supporting the Not Fucking Around Coalition". New Black Nationalism . Retrieved November 8, 2020 . ^ "Not Fucking Around Coalition". Globalsecurity.org. October 9, 2020. ^ a b Wood, Graeme (April 2, 2021). "A Black Army Rises to Fight the Racist Right". the Atlantic . Retrieved November 5, 2021 . ^ Savage, Niara (July 13, 2020). " ' Send a Message': Black Militia Leader Says Membership Skyrocketed After They Began Showing Up Where White Militias Protested with Little Challenge from Police". Atlanta Black Star. Archived from the original on May 1, 2021 . Retrieved October 28, 2020 . ^ "What Is the NFAC, and Who Is Grandmaster Jay?". Complex . Retrieved October 28, 2020 . ^ Gough, Lyndsey (May 9, 2020). "Hundreds gather to release balloons to honor Ahmaud Arbery's birthday". WTOC-TV. Archived from the original on June 3, 2021 . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . ^ a b King, Michael; Buchanan, Christopher (July 4, 2020). " ' I'm in your house': Armed group condemns systemic and overt racism, marches to Stone Mountain". WXIA-TV. Archived from the original on July 5, 2020 . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . ^ Gorman, Steve (July 5, 2020). "Predominantly Black armed protesters march through Confederate memorial park in Georgia". Reuters. Archived from the original on June 2, 2021 . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . ^ a b Martin S., Roland. "'Sending A Message' To White Supremacy: After Armed Black Militia Marched In GA, NFAC Founder Speaks." YouTube. Retrieved August 29, 2020. ^ Group of armed demonstrators enter Stone Mountain Park (video). WXIA-TV. July 4, 2020 . Retrieved August 29, 2020 '' via YouTube. ^ a b c Kenning, Chris; Bailey, Phillip M.; Gardner, Hayes; Eadens, Savannah; Tobin, Ben (July 25, 2020). "Opposing armed militias converge in Louisville, escalating tensions but avoiding violence" . The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021 . Retrieved August 29, 2020 . ^ "NFAC militia leader says Saturday's planned march is about 'justice for Breonna Taylor ' ". WDRB. July 24, 2020. Archived from the original on June 3, 2021 . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . ^ The Official Grandmaster Jay. "The NFAC March on Louisville Ky". YouTube. Retrieved Aug 27, 2020. ^ Tobin, Ben (July 21, 2020). "Daniel Cameron holds meeting on Breonna Taylor with Black militia leader". The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021 . Retrieved July 25, 2020 . ^ Woolston, Bryan (July 26, 2020). "Black armed protesters march in Kentucky demanding justice for Breonna Taylor". Reuters. Archived from the original on May 18, 2021 . Retrieved July 26, 2020 . ^ The Official Grand Master Jay. "NFAC Destroys Lies And False Reporting Of Louisville Formation." YouTube. Retrieved August 29, 2020. ^ "NFAC leader "disappointed" in Rep. Higgins after meeting canceled". KATC. October 1, 2020. Archived from the original on April 24, 2021 . Retrieved October 4, 2020 . ^ "Police: Accidental shots fired at downtown Lafayette protest". KLFY. October 3, 2020 . Retrieved October 29, 2021 . ^ Dodge, Victoria; Capps, Andrew (October 3, 2020). "NFAC march: Protest in Lafayette ends as organizers proclaim 'another successful demonstration ' " . The Daily Advertiser. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020 . Retrieved October 4, 2020 . ^ "Keiajah Brooks reveals she's now under NFAC protection". Revolt TV . Retrieved November 29, 2020 . ^ Vera, Amir; Riess, Rebekah (December 4, 2020). "Founder of all-Black armed activist group faces federal charge after FBI says he aimed a rifle at officers". CNN. Archived from the original on May 11, 2021 . Retrieved December 5, 2020 . ^ Dowd, Trone (December 4, 2020). "Leader of the Pro-Black 'NFAC' Militia Arrested and Charged by Feds". Vice News. Archived from the original on June 2, 2021 . Retrieved December 5, 2020 . ^ Kobin, Billy (February 25, 2021). "NFAC leader 'Grandmaster Jay' indicted on federal charges linked to Breonna Taylor protest". The Courier-Journal. ^ Mates, Thomas. "What is the NFAC? A look at Black militia group police say is connected to suspected shooter of Daytona officer". WKMG-TV . Retrieved June 26, 2021 . ^ Fernandez, Frank. "Daytona officer shooting suspect Othal Wallace captured: What we know". The Daytona Beach News-Journal . Retrieved June 26, 2021 . ^ Riess, Rebekah (June 26, 2021). "Man wanted for shooting Daytona Beach officer in the head captured near Atlanta". CNN. ^ Dowd, Trone; Owen, Tess. "Member of New Black Panther Splinter Group Suspected of Shooting Cop in Head". Vice News . Retrieved June 27, 2021 . External links [ edit ] The Many Lives of Grandmaster Jay by The Atlantic
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 03:21
Tiffany D. Cross is the host of MSNBC's The Cross Connection airing Saturdays from 10A-12P EST. She is the author of Say It Louder: Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy (Amistad/HarperCollins) and most recently served as a Resident Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics (Spring 2020). Her broad experience across media, politics, and policy includes more than two decades of navigating newsrooms and campaigns while engaging different constituencies on the ground. She previously served as the DC Bureau Chief of BET News and the Liaison to the Obama Administration for BET Networks where she covered Capitol Hill, produced political specials, and oversaw the daily operations of the news department. Tiffany cut her teeth in media at CNN where she worked as an Associate Producer covering Capitol Hill for the network's weekend show unit. She also previously served as a Field Producer for America's Most Wanted and Discovery Communications.
No stranger to the campaign trail, Tiffany not only covered campaigns but worked on them as well. She has lent her expertise to numerous local, state, and federal candidates as well as issue campaigns across the country. Serving as a senior advisor to one of the country's largest labor organizations, one of Tiffany's many tentacles was organizing all communities of color on both a local and national level. Using her media background, Tiffany has helped shape the narrative around issues, individuals, and ideologies.
Leaving the campaign stump, Tiffany transitioned from the control room to the green room when she co-founded The Beat DC, a national platform intersecting politics, policy, business, media, and people of color. With a readership comprising influencers across the country, Tiffany led a team that made the fast moving current affairs in a busy legislative climate digestible for the political connoisseur and novice alike. She quickly became a sought after voice in the progressive discourse and is a frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN, and SiriusXM.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Tiffany left at a young age and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. She attended Clark Atlanta University where she studied Mass Communications with an emphasis on radio, TV, and film. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.
John Fleck: Sheffield United midfielder 'conscious' when taken to hospital after collapse at Reading | Football News | Sky Sports
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 22:42
Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck was taken to hospital after collapsing on the pitch during their Championship match at Reading on Tuesday night.
Play was halted for almost 11 minutes, with Fleck receiving medical treatment and getting back to his feet with the aid of an oxygen mask before he was eventually stretchered off.
Fleck was conscious when taken to hospital for further checks.
"Concerning moments as urgent medical attention needed for John Fleck," Sheffield United said in their live updates on Twitter.
"Play is yet to restart but the Scottish midfielder is on his feet and receiving further medical care."
John Fleck leaves the field on a stretcher after receiving urgent medical care.Our thoughts are with you, Flecky! ''¤¸
'-- Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) November 23, 2021The club then added: "John Fleck leaves the field on a stretcher after receiving urgent medical care. Our thoughts are with you, Flecky!"
Sheffield United won 1-0 at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, with Jayden Bogle's second-half strike enough to see off Reading.
When asked about Fleck, Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic said: "He is in hospital, he is conscious and he asked for the result. Hopefully he we will be okay. He is safe, in good hands and we pray that everything will be okay."
The Blades' Twitter account added: "3 points for the Blades. More importantly, John Fleck was conscious when he left the stadium via the ambulance gate. We'll provide supporters with a further update once known. Get well soon, John."
Trial for Ahmaud Arbery's killing: Jury begins deliberations - The Washington Post
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 22:33
BRUNSWICK, Ga. '-- Jurors began deliberations just before noon Tuesday in the murder trial of the three men accused of killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery last year, a case that has stoked nationwide outrage and scrutiny of the justice system.
Judge Timothy Walmsley read jurors their instructions after prosecutors, calling part of defense attorneys' strategy ''offensive,'' made their final rebuttal to the defense's closing arguments. Prosecutors say that three White men '-- Travis McMichael, his son Greg McMichael and their neighbor William ''Roddie'' Bryan '-- pursued Arbery without justification, jumping to conclusions about a ''Black man running down the street'' and using their pickup trucks to trap him in their suburban Georgia neighborhood.
''This isn't the Wild West,'' prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said as she argued that the defendants acted as dangerous vigilantes on Feb. 23, 2020.
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Defense attorneys say the accused were concerned citizens who believed that Arbery was a burglar and never set out to hurt him. The men were trying to stop Arbery for the police, they said, when Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense during a struggle.
''It is going to take courage to set aside what you think and feel '... and to focus on the bare facts of this case,'' Jason Sheffield, an attorney for Travis McMichael, told jurors Monday.
Jurors heard over 10 days of testimony, including from police officers, neighbors and experts with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Last week, Travis McMichael took the stand, choking up at times as he said Arbery struck him and grabbed for his shotgun in the final seconds of the viral cellphone video '-- taken by Bryan '-- that triggered public condemnations when it surfaced in May 2020. The national attention and outrage pushed authorities to make arrests more than two months after the killing.
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Now many Americans are awaiting the verdict and the message they say it will send about racial justice and fairness in the justice system. The 12-member jury drew scrutiny even before testimony began when the defense struck all but one Black person from the final panel.
At one point, attorney Kevin Gough '-- who represents Bryan '-- objected to ''high-profile members of the African-American community,'' attending the trial in support of Arbery's family and asked they not be allowed in the courtroom on the grounds they were trying to influence the jury.
In an instance of his complaining about media coverage and public discussion of the case, he accused a ''woke left mob'' of influencing the proceedings.
Defense attorney Jason Sheffield on Nov. 22 argued that Travis McMichael feared for his life when he shot Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020. (Reuters)The cellphone shot by Bryan shows Arbery running down a road ahead of Bryan toward the McMichaels. Arbery passes their truck and then turns to run toward Travis McMichael. The truck obscures the men as a first shot is heard. Experts testified that Arbery was shot at point-blank range or nearly so.
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Laura Hogue, an attorney for Greg McMichael, used her closing argument to criticize Arbery for his actions in February 2020, saying he caused his own death because he ran away ''instead of facing the consequences'' and because he ''chose to fight.''
Hogue drew gasps in the courtroom Monday and caused Arbery's mother to briefly leave when she said that ''turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in khaki shorts, with no socks to cover his long dirty toenails,'' referring to the neighborhood where he was killed.
Dunikoski said Tuesday that Hogue's argument was ''standard, standard stuff'' faulting the victim.
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''I know you're not going buy into that,'' she told jurors. ''It's offensive.''
Defense says Ahmaud Arbery to blame for his death in murder trial's closing arguments
Dunikoski said Tuesday that people cannot claim self-defense if they are the ''initial unjustified aggressor,'' are committing felonies or provoke other people to protect themselves. She argued the accused did all three as they chased Arbery for five minutes through their neighborhood of Satilla Shores '-- less than two miles from Arbery's home.
''All he's done is run away from you,'' Dunikoski told Travis McMichael last week during cross-examination.
''Run past me, yes ma'am,'' Travis McMichael replied.
''And you pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at him,'' the prosecutor said.
The younger McMichael replied that he believed at that point ''this guy can be a threat and he is coming directly to me.''
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He said he raised the weapon first to warn Arbery off, drawing on de-escalation training from his time in the Coast Guard. Defense lawyers have emphasized that training in arguing that the McMichaels had ''probable cause'' to perform a citizen's arrest. They said neighborhood residents knew Arbery not as an avid jogger, but as the stranger who entered an under-construction home several times over a period of months, often at night, alarming them.
On Tuesday, the defense clashed with the prosecution on the meaning of a law central to the case '-- Georgia's old statute allowing citizen's arrests.
As Arbery trial draws to a close, Black Americans again ask if there will be justice
Georgia legislators significantly narrowed the citizen's arrest law in response to Arbery's death, and many criticized the old law as an outdated statute encouraging vigilantism. At the time of Arbery's killing, state law required that a private citizen have ''immediate knowledge'' of a crime or ''reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion'' of someone fleeing a felony offense.
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Attorneys for the defendants objected repeatedly and called for a mistrial as Dunikoski told the jury that a citizen's arrest is meant for ''emergency situations.'' She argued that such an arrest should be made only immediately following the offense or as the suspect flees directly afterward.
An attorney for the defense said Dunikoski was misrepresenting the law. The judge instructed the jury that a citizen's arrest must occur immediately after the offense or, in the case of felonies, ''during escape'' '-- which defense lawyers said allowed them to argue that the McMichaels and Bryan were apprehending a fleeing suspect for crimes that occurred before Feb. 23, 2020. Last week, defense attorney Bob Rubin had warned that accepting Dunikoski's view of the citizen's arrest law would amount to ''gutting'' the defense's case.
Walmsley rejected the mistrial request, one of many from the defense over the course of the trial. He said the prosecution and defense were allowed to argue different interpretations of the law.
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The McMichaels and Bryan are all charged as parties to aggravated assault, false imprisonment and two types of murder: malice murder, which requires intent to kill, and felony murder, in which someone commits a felony that causes a death. Dunikoski said all the defendants made Arbery's death possible, turning to a metaphor in her closing remarks.
Everyone on the winning Super Bowl team gets a ring, she said, from the quarterback to the guy on the bench.
''Everybody is involved,'' she said. ''Everybody's responsible.''
Knowles reported from Washington.
Opioids in Ohio: A jury says CVS, Walgreens and Walmart flooded counties with pills - The Washington Post
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 22:32
Three major retailers helped flood two Ohio counties with addictive opioids, a federal jury said Tuesday in a first-of-its-kind verdict that could serve as a possible indicator for thousands of cities and counties that blame the companies for part of the nation's opioid crisis.
Lake and Trumbull counties, which argued that the pharmacies did not stop mass quantities of opioid drugs from reaching the black market, said the decision was ''a milestone victory'' after a months-long federal trial against CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, which have denied wrongdoing. The three companies say they plan to appeal the verdict.
U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster in Cleveland is expected in the spring to decide how much the companies will pay the two counties, according to the counties' attorneys, who estimate the toll of the epidemic to cost about $1 billion for each of the counties. Other pharmacies, Rite Aid and Giant Eagle, previously settled with the counties for undisclosed sums.
Major pharmacies face first federal trial over role in nation's opioid crisis
''For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by law,'' the counties' legal team said in a statement. ''Instead, these companies responded by opening up more locations, flooding communities with pills, and facilitating the flow of opioids into an illegal, secondary market. The judgment today against Walmart, Walgreens and CVS represents the overdue reckoning for their complicity in creating a public nuisance.''
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The counties in a blue-collar, manufacturing-heavy region have argued that the companies created a public nuisance '-- a key legal argument that has faced recent pushback from two other courts in Oklahoma and California.
The judges ruled that the strategy in other cases against drug companies and pharmacies had stretched the law, which covers a mix of offenses against the community at large, such as disturbing a neighborhood with loud music or a foul stench.
Oklahoma Supreme Court overturns historic opioid ruling against J&J
In response to Tuesday's verdict, Walgreens said ''significant legal errors'' were committed by allowing the jury trial to proceed.
''The plaintiffs' attempt to resolve the opioid crisis with an unprecedented expansion of public nuisance law is misguided and unsustainable,'' spokesman Fraser Engerman wrote in a statement. ''We look forward to the opportunity to address these issues on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.''
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Walmart's representative said the company would appeal the verdict, citing an instance during the trial when a jury member brought in a flier about naloxone and was dismissed.
''But the simple facts are that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists; opioid medications are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacists; and our health care system depends on pharmacists to fill legitimate prescriptions that doctors deem necessary for their patients,'' CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis wrote in a statement.
The opioid files
The pharmacy chains have blamed drugmakers for marketing the addictive medications, and doctors for overprescribing, arguing that others were significantly responsible for the flood of legal opioids that were diverted to illegal use. But federal law puts a ''corresponding responsibility'' on the pharmacist to determine that a prescription he or she fills is for a legitimate medical purpose.
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In countless cases over the past 20 years, especially during the pill mill and Internet pharmacy era of the early 2000s, some druggists ignored that law by selling opioids, despite red flags that the drugs were being diverted to the black market.
At height of crisis, Walgreens handled nearly one in five of the most addictive opioids
After a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation, Walgreens agreed in 2013 to pay $80 million '-- a record settlement for the agency at the time '-- to resolve allegations about such diversion. CVS ultimately paid a $22 million penalty to the federal government, acknowledging that some of its retail stores ''dispensed certain controlled substances in a manner not fully consistent with their compliance obligations,'' according to a Justice Department news release issued in 2015.
In a span of eight years, 10 pharmacies dispensed nearly 49 million prescription pain pills to the two Ohio counties '-- enough to provide about a dozen doses to each man, woman and child who lived there every 12 months.
Covid in Scotland: Rise in pregnant women needing ICU treatment - BBC News
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 20:15
By Christopher SleightBBC Scotland news
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, The number of pregnant women needing intensive care has gone up despite overall ICU numbers going down
More than 20% of women admitted to intensive care for Covid-19 since May 2021 were pregnant or had recently given birth, a study has found.
A Scottish Intensive Care Audit Group report said 42 had been admitted since 18 May 2021, compared with 25 in the first two waves of the pandemic.
The number has gone up despite overall intensive care numbers reducing.
The Scottish government said vaccines were the best way to protect against the risks of Covid in pregnancy.
The Scottish Intensive Care Audit Group (SICAG) report found that no deaths of pregnant women following ICU treatment had been reported up to 19 September 2021.
The report counts pregnant women admitted to ICUs and women who were admitted within six weeks of giving birth. Admission to high dependency units, used for managing high risk pregnancies, were not included in the figures.
In the first two waves of the pandemic in Scotland, between 1 March 2020 and 17 May 2021, 1,850 Covid patients were admitted to ICU, according to SICAG.
Of this number, 630 were women and about 4% of them were pregnant or had recently given birth.
Since 18 May 2021, 189 women have required intensive care treatment for Covid-19 and 22.2% of them have been pregnant.
Dr Sarah Stock, a consultant in maternal and foetal medicine, said it was still uncertain what had caused the rise.
"It could be because a much lower proportion of pregnant women are vaccinated, or it could be because pregnant women are particularly susceptible to severe disease from the Delta variant that has predominated during the third wave - but we don't know for sure yet," she said.
But Dr Stock, who is co-leading a study into Covid-19 in pregnancy at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC Scotland there was "really strong evidence" that pregnant women were more likely than other women to be admitted to hospital and intensive care.
"We also know that although we've had no deaths in Scotland yet, data from around the world and in particular the United States has shown higher mortality rates with Covid-19 in pregnancy than in non-pregnant women," she said.
The consultant said there was also evidence Covid-19 led to higher premature birth rates and probably caused more stillbirths as well.
"Being pregnant affects your response to infections. We know that pregnant women are more susceptible to viruses - and this is probably what we're seeing with Covid-19."
The SICAG study's authors said they had found "very few" critical care admissions among pregnant women during the first and second waves of the pandemic.
The report continued: "Wave three has seen increased numbers of pregnant women being admitted to hospital with moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms requiring critical care.
"The majority of patients were pregnant on admission to critical care and 30% were admitted after delivery."
Most of the women lived in the most deprived areas of Scotland, the report added.
The report also found that none of the women who required treatment in intensive care were fully vaccinated at the time of admission.
A separate report by Public Health Scotland (PHS), published on 6 October, found vaccine take-up among pregnant women in Scotland was low across all age groups.
PHS estimates that of the 77,679 women who were pregnant between December 2020 and August 2021, about 18% received at least a first dose.
The over-40s have achieved the best level of vaccine coverage so far at 26.5%. The figure drops to 7% in the under-19s.
Although younger age groups were vaccinated later in the roll-out programme, general coverage in all age groups apart from 12-17 year olds in August was above 70%.
Dr Pat O'Brien, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said a number of factors could be influencing the increase in ICU admission figures.
For example, he said an increase in birth rates this year could lead to higher numbers in ICU, as a proportion of all pregnant women will always become severely ill from Covid-19.
But he told BBC Scotland the "key message" was for pregnant women to make sure they were vaccinated.
"There is still a significant number of pregnant women being admitted to ICU with Covid. That's obviously bad for the woman, but it's also bad for the baby," he said.
"All of this is preventable by a vaccine that is perfectly safe to take in pregnancy."
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Vaccination take-up among women is low across all age groups when compared with the rest of the population
A Scottish government spokesperson said: "It is clear from the report that unvaccinated people are considerably more likely to require ICU treatment, so it remains vital that everyone who is eligible takes up the offer of vaccination, as this will protect the NHS and save lives.
"This includes pregnant women, as vaccination is the best way of protecting against the risks of Covid in pregnancy."
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Investigation into spike in newborn baby deaths in Scotland - BBC News
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 20:15
Image source, Getty Images
A spike in the number of deaths of newborn babies in Scotland is to be investigated.
At least 21 babies under four weeks old died in September, a rate of 4.9 per 1,000 births.
Infant death rates vary widely from month to month, but the increase is larger than expected from chance alone.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) and other agencies will now look into whether the Covid pandemic or other factors could be behind the increase.
The average mortality rate among newborns is just over two per 1,000 births.
While all child deaths are investigated, the Herald newspaper reported that this wider inquiry was triggered when the mortality rate passed a "control" threshold, designed to pick up abnormal trends in infant deaths.
In a commentary on the figures, PHS says: "Exceeding the upper control limit indicates there is a higher likelihood that there are factors beyond random variation that may have contributed to the number of deaths."
PHS said there was "currently no indication of links between these deaths and Covid-19 infection" although the data will be examined further.
Dr Sarah Stock, an expert in maternal and fetal health at University of Edinburgh, said it was rare for newborn babies to become infected or seriously-ill with Covid but she said the virus could be having an impact in other ways.
"We know, for instance, that when pregnant women have Covid they can become seriously unwell, and in order to protect the mother and baby that can lead to pre-term deliveries," she said. "Pre-term delivery is the biggest driver of neonatal mortality.
"We also know that the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on health services and that could be having an impact."
PHS is now working with the Scottish National Neonatal Network , the Maternity and Children Quality Improvement Collaborative and the Scottish government to understand possible contributing factors.
Figures for the number of stillborn babies also increased in September but not beyond the upper warning or control limit.
Deaths of newborn babies have fallen steadily in recent decades with the mortality rate per 1,000 births dropping from double figures in the 1970s to 2.1 in 2020.
More on this story
New York Moves to Allow 800,000 Noncitizens to Vote in Local Elections - The New York Times
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 20:13
New York City will become the largest municipality in the country to allow legal residents to vote if the legislation is approved as expected in December.
Of the roughly 800,000 legal residents who could be granted the right to vote, 130,000 hail from the Dominican Republic. Credit... Anna Watts for The New York Times Nov. 23, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET
New York City lawmakers are poised to allow more than 800,000 New Yorkers who are green card holders or have the legal right to work in the United States to vote in municipal elections and for local ballot initiatives.
The bill, known as ''Our City, Our Vote,'' would make New York City the largest municipality in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.
The legislation, expected to be approved by the City Council on Dec. 9 by a veto-proof margin, comes as the country is dealing with a swath of new laws to impose voter restrictions, as well as the economic and demographic effects of a decline in immigration.
Voters in Alabama, Colorado and Florida passed ballot measures last year specifying that only U.S. citizens could vote. The states joined Arizona and North Dakota in specifying that noncitizens could not vote in state and local elections.
''It's important for the Democratic Party to look at New York City and see that when voting rights are being attacked, we are expanding voter participation,'' said Ydanis Rodriguez, a councilman who sponsored the bill and represents Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan.
The legislation, first introduced almost two years ago, is the culmination of more than a decade of work to gain local voting rights for some legal permanent residents. It also extends the right to those with work authorization, such as the so-called dreamers, recipients of a program known as DACA that shields young immigrants brought into the country illegally from deportation and allows them to live and work here.
It was once more common for noncitizens to have voting rights in the United States, but the provisions were repealed around the turn of the 20th century as more immigrants arrived and popular sentiment changed.
Until school boards were disbanded nearly two decades ago, New York City was among the places that allowed noncitizens to vote in school board elections, a right that exists in San Francisco. Several towns in Maryland and Vermont also grant noncitizens some municipal voting rights.
Of the estimated 808,000 adult New Yorkers who are lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, or have work authorization, about 130,000 are from the Dominican Republic; those from China represent another 117,500 people, according to the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. Those eligible must be residents of New York City for 30 days and otherwise eligible to vote under state law.
In spite of having a veto-proof majority of 34 out of 51 City Council members and the public advocate co-sponsoring the bill, the legislation has not moved forward until now partly because of concerns about its legality. Mayor Bill de Blasio has contended that the change ''has to be decided at state level, according to state law,'' during a recent appearance on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show.
The mayor also said he has ''mixed feelings'' about the bill because he feared that allowing noncitizens to vote might remove the incentive for people to become full citizens.
But the Council's legal staff, as well as voting rights experts, say that the bill is legal, and that no federal or state law bars New York City from expanding the right to vote in local elections.
''Any restrictions that are currently on the books really only apply to federal and state elections,'' said Anu Joshi, the vice president of policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella organization that represents hundreds of community-based immigrant and refugee groups.
Joshua A. Douglas, a professor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law who studies voting rights and election law, concurred, saying that nothing in the New York State Constitution expressly prevents noncitizens from voting. The state explicitly confers voting rights to citizens but does not deny those rights to noncitizens.
Eric Adams, the mayor-elect, has said he supports the legislation and believes that green card holders should have the right to participate in local elections.
If the legislation passes as expected, the New York City Board of Elections would issue a separate voter registration form for green card holders and other noncitizens who have the right to work. At the polls, those voters would fill out a ballot that only has New York City offices on it. The legislation calls for training poll workers and community education campaigns to ensure every voter receives the correct ballot.
The board has faced questions about its handling of elections in the past, most recently in June when it botched the rollout of the results of New York City's first use of ranked-choice voting.
New York's passage of voting rights for noncitizens is sure to set off a wave of reaction to both expand and restrict voting rights, Professor Douglas said.
''In the so-called blue states, we are moving toward expansion and that includes expansion of noncitizen voting,'' the professor said. ''In the so-called red places, you are moving toward more constrictions on the right to vote, which includes noncitizens. The whole world of voting rights has become one that is more polarized, even more than normal.''
Supporters of the bill maintain that it is important for New York City to expand municipal voting, given the large percentage of the city's population that resides legally in the country and pays taxes, but does not have citizenship and therefore cannot vote for local elected offices such as mayor, City Council, comptroller and public advocate.
Green card holders face difficult obstacles to becoming citizens, such as hefty fees and long application processing times. Rather than dissuade legal residents from becoming citizens, Mr. Rodriguez, the city councilman and a former green card holder who immigrated from the Dominican Republic and became a U.S. citizen in 2000, said that allowing legal residents to vote in local elections will induce more people to become citizens so that they can vote in federal elections.
Corey Johnson, the speaker of the City Council, said giving immigrants a ''voice in our local elections'' will ''add New York City to a resounding national movement.''
''Immigrants have always been vital to the city, and during Covid they risked their lives to keep the city moving,'' said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. ''This comes down to nook-and-cranny issues like trash and how the budget is spent. These are things our community members have strong opinions about.''
Woojung Park, 22, a DACA recipient, lives in Queens and is a student at Hunter College and an organizer at MinKwon Center for Community Action, a community organization in Flushing, Queens. Her parents, who brought her to the United States as an infant from South Korea, now run a nail salon in the Bronx.
The Asian American community in Flushing is facing a housing crisis, she said, with many people living in illegal or unsuitable living conditions, some of them in basements that flooded after Hurricane Ida. Flushing's residents are also contending with the lasting effects of a wave of xenophobia and hate crimes targeting Asian Americans during the pandemic.
''This would dramatically alter that and allow us to start to be politically active,'' Ms. Park said. ''Being able to support Asian Americans candidates would definitely change the political atmosphere in Flushing.''
What Is the Global Public-Private Partnership
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 19:19
The Global Public-Private Partnership (GPPP) is a world-wide network of stakeholder capitalists and their partners. This collective of stakeholders (the capitalists and their partners) comprises of global corporations (including central banks), philanthropic foundations (multi-billionaire philanthropists), policy think-tanks, governments (and their agencies), non-governmental organisations, selected academic & scientific institutions, global charities, the labour unions and other chosen ''thought leaders.''
The GPPP controls global finance and the world's economy. It sets world, national and local policy (via global governance) and then promotes those policies using the mainstream media (MSM) corporations who are also ''partners'' within the GPPP.
Often those policies are devised by the think-tanks before being adopted by governments, who are also GPPP partners. Government is the process of transforming GPPP global governance into hard policy, legislation and law.
Under our current model of Westphalian national sovereignty, the government of one nation cannot make legislation or law in another. However, through global governance, the GPPP create policy initiatives at the global level which then cascade down to people in every nation. This typically occurs via an intermediary policy distributor, such as the IMF or IPCC, and national government then enact the recommended policies.
The policy trajectory is set internationally by the authorised definition of problems and their prescribed solutions. Once the GPPP enforce the consensus internationally, the policy framework is set. The GPPP stakeholder partners then collaborate to ensure the desired policies are developed, implemented and enforced. This is the oft quoted ''international rules based system.''
In this way the GPPP control many nations at once without having to resort to legislation. This has the added advantage of making any legal challenge to the decisions made by the most senior partners in the GPPP (it is an authoritarian hierarchy) extremely difficult.
'' Click On Image To Enlarge ''The GPPP has traditionally been referenced in the context of public health and specifically in a number of United Nation's (UN) documents, including those from their agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO). In their 2005 document Connecting For Health, the WHO, in noting what the Millennium Development Goals meant for global health, revealed the emerging GPPP:
''These changes occurred in a world of revised expectations about the role of government: that the public sector has neither the financial nor the institutional resources to meet their challenges, and that a mix of public and private resources is required'...'...Building a global culture of security and cooperation is vital'....The beginnings of a global health infrastructure are already in place. Information and communication technologies have opened opportunities for change in health, with or without policy-makers leading the way'...'....Governments can create an enabling environment, and invest in equity, access and innovation.''
The revised role of governments meant that they were no longer leading the way. The traditional policy makers weren't making policy anymore, other GPPP partners were. National government had been relegated to creating the GPPP's enabling environment by taxing the public and increasing government borrowing debt.
This is a debt owed to the senior partners in the GPPP. They are also the beneficiaries of the loans and use this comically misnamed ''public investment'' to create markets for themselves and the wider the GPPP.
The researchers Buse & Walt 2000 offers a good official history of the development of the GPPP concept. They suggest it was a response to the growing disillusionment in the UN project as a whole and the emerging realisation that global corporations were increasingly key to policy implementation. This correlates to the development of the stakeholder capitalism concept, first popularised in the 1970's.
Buse & Walt outlined how GPPP's were designed to facilitate the participation of new breed of corporations. These entities had recognised the folly of their previously destructive business practices. They were ready to own their mistakes and make amends. They decided they would achieve this by partnering with government to solve global problems. These existential threats were defined by the GPPP and the selected scientists, academics and economists they funded.
The two researchers identified a key Davos address, delivered by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the WEF in 1998, as marking the transition to a GPPP based global governance model:
''The United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a 'quiet revolution'.. A fundamental shift has occurred. The United Nations once dealt only with governments. By now we know that peace and prosperity cannot be achieved without partnerships involving governments, international organizations, the business community and civil society.. The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world.''
Buse & Walt claimed that this signified the arrival of a new type of responsible global capitalism. As we shall see, that is not how the corporations viewed this arrangement. Indeed, Buse and Walt acknowledged why the GPPP was such an enticing prospect for the global giants of banking, industry, finance and commerce:
''Shifting ideologies and trends in globalization have highlighted the need for closer global governance, an issue for both private and public sectors. We suggest that at least some of the support for GPPPs stems from this recognition, and a desire on the part of the private sector to be part of global regulatory decision-making processes.''
The conflict of interest is obvious. We are simply expected to accept, without question, that global corporations are committed to putting humanitarian and environmental causes before profit. Supposedly, a GPPP led system of global governance is somehow beneficial for us.
Believing this requires a considerable degree of naivety. Many of the stakeholder corporations have been convicted, or publicly held accountable, for the crimes they have commited. These include war crimes. The apparent passive agreement of the political class that these ''partners'' should effectively set global policy, regulations and spending priorities seems like infantile credulity.
This naivety is, in itself, a charade. As many academics, economists, historians and researchers have pointed out, corporate influence, even dominance of the political system had been increasing for generations. Elected politicians have long-been the junior partners in this arrangement.
With the arrival of GPPP's we were witnessing the birth of the process to formalise this relationship, the creation of a cohesive world order. The politicians have simply stuck to the script ever since. They didn't write it.
It is important to understand the difference between government and governance in the global context. Government claims the right, perhaps through a quasi-democratic mandate, to set policy and decree legislation (law.)
The alleged western representative democracies, which aren't democracies at all, are a model of national government where elected representatives form the executive who enact legislation. For example, in the UK this is achieved through the parliamentary process.
Perhaps the closest thing to this form of national government on an international scale is the United Nations General Assembly. It has a tenuous claim to democratic accountability and can pass resolutions which, while they don't bind member states, can create ''new principles'' which may become international law when later applied by the International Court of Justice.
However, this isn't really world ''government.'' The UN lacks the authority to decree legislation and form law. The only way it's ''principles'' can become law is via judicial ruling. The non-judicial power to create law is reserved for governments and their legislative reach only extends to their own national borders.
Due to the often fraught relationships between national governments, world government starts to become impractical. With both the non binding nature of UN resolutions and the international jockeying for geopolitical and economic advantage, there isn't currently anything we could call a world government.
There is the additional problem of national and cultural identity. Most populations aren't ready for a distant, unelected world government. People generally want the political class to have more democratic accountability, not less.
The GPPP would certainly like to run a world government, but imposition by overt force is beyond their capability. Therefore, they have employed other means, such as deception and propaganda, to promote the notion of global governance.
Former Carter administration advisor and Trilateral Commission founder Zbigniew Brzezinski recognised how this approach would be easier to implement. In his 1970 book Between Two Ages: Americas Role In The Technetronic Era, he wrote:
''Though the objective of shaping a community of the developed nations is less ambitious than the goal of world government, it is more attainable.''
The last 30 years have seen numerous GPPP's form as the concept of global governance has evolved. A major turning point was the WEF's conspectus of multistakeholder governance. With their 2010 publication of Everybody's Business: Strengthening International Cooperation in a More Interdependent World, the WEF outlined the elements of GPPP stakeholder's form of global governance.
They established their Global Agenda Councils to deliberate and suggest policy covering practically every aspect of our existence. The WEF created a corresponding global governance body for every aspect of our society. From our values and economy, through to our security and public health, our welfare systems, consumption, access to water, food security, crime, our rights, sustainable development and the global financial and monetary system, nothing was left untouched.
The executive chairman of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, spelled out what the objective of global governance was:
''Our purpose has been to stimulate a strategic thought process among all stakeholders about ways in which international institutions and arrangements should be adapted to contemporary challenges.. the world's leading authorities have been working in interdisciplinary, multistakeholder Global Agenda Councils to identify gaps and deficiencies in international cooperation and to formulate specific proposals for improvement.. These discussions have run through the Forum's Regional Summits during 2009 as well as the Forum's recent Annual Meeting 2010 in Davos-Klosters, where many of the emerging proposals were tested with ministers, CEOs, heads of NGOs and trade unions, leading academics and other members of the Davos community.. The Global Redesign process has provided an informal working laboratory or marketplace for a number of good policy ideas and partnership opportunities.. We have sought to expand international governance discussions.. to take more pre-emptive and coordinated action on the full range of risks that have been accumulating in the international system.''
By 2010 the WEF had taken it upon themselves to begin the the Global Redesign process. They defined the international challenges and they proposed the solutions. Fortunately for the GPPP, their proposals meant more control and partnership opportunities for them. The WEF sought to spearhead the expansion of this international governance.
In just one example, in 2019 the UK Government announced its partnership with the WEF to develop future business, economic and industrial regulations. The UK government were committed to supporting a regulatory environment created by the global corporations who would then be regulated by the same regulations they had designed.
The WEF do not have an electoral mandate of any kind. None of us have any opportunity to influence or even question their judgments and yet they are working in partnership with our supposedly democratically elected governments, and other GPPP stakeholders, to redesign the planet we all live on.
Stakeholder capitalism lies at the heart of the GPPP. Essentially it usurps democratic government (or indeed government of any kind) by placing global corporations at the centre of decision making. Despite deriving authority from no one but themselves, the leaders of the GPPP assume their own modern interpretation of the ''divine right of kings'' and rule absolutely.
In January 2021 The WEF spoke about how they viewed Stakeholder Capitalism:
''The most important characteristic of the stakeholder model today is that the stakes of our system are now more clearly global.. What was once seen as externalities in national economic policy making and individual corporate decision making will now need to be incorporated or internalized in the operations of every government, company, community, and individual. The planet is.. the center of the global economic system, and its health should be optimized in the decisions made by all other stakeholders.''
The GPPP will oversee everything. Every government, all business, our so-called communities (where we live) and each of us individually. We are not the priority. The priority is the planet. Or so the WEF claim.
Centralised control of the entire planet, all its resources and everyone that lives on it is the core ethos of the GPPP. There is no need to interpret GPPP intentions, we don't have to read between the lines. It is stated plainly in the introduction to the WEF's Great Reset initiative:
''To improve the state of the world, the World Economic Forum is starting The Great Reset initiative.. The Covid-19 crisis.. is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making. The inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems ''from health and financial to energy and education '' are more exposed than ever.. Leaders find themselves at a historic crossroads.. As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons.''
It should be noted that the WEF are just one partner organisation among many in the GPPP. However, they have been perhaps the most influential in terms of public relations throughout the pseudopandemic. Contrary to the hopes of Buse & Walt, we see an emergent global, corporate dictatorship, not caring stewardship of the planet.
The GPPP will determine the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. There is no opportunity for any of us to participate in either their project or the subsequent formation of policy.
The WEF's Suggested Stakeholder Capitalism ModelWhile, in theory, governments do not have to implement GPPP policy, the reality is that they do. Global policies have been an increasing facet or our lives in the post WW2 era. The mechanism of translating GPPP policy initiatives, first into national and then regional and eventually local policy, can be clearly identified by looking at sustainable development.
In 1972 the privately funded, independent policy think-tank the Club of Rome (CoR) published the Limits of Growth. As we saw with the roll-out out of the pseudopandemic, the CoR used computer models to predict what they decreed were the complex problems faced by the entire planet: the ''world problematique.''
Their offered opinions derived from the commissioned work of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) system dynamic ''World3 model.'' This assumed global population would deplete natural resources and pollute the environment to the point where ''overshoot and collapse'' would inevitably occur.
This is not a scientific ''fact'' but rather a suggested scenario. So far, none of the predictions made have come to pass.
The scientific and statistical to-and-fro on the claims made in the Limits to Growth has been prolific. However, ignoring all doubts, the World3 model was firmly planted at the centre of the sustainable development policy environment.
In 1983 the Brundtland Commission was convened by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harland Brundlandt and then Secretary General of the UN Javier P(C)rez de Cu(C)llar. Both were Club of Rome members. Based upon the highly questionable assumptions in the World3 model, they set about uniting governments from around the world to pursue sustainable development policies.
In 1987 the Commission published the Brundtland Report, also known as Our Common Future. Central to the idea of sustainable development, outlined in the report, was population control (reduction.) This policy decision, to get rid of people, won international acclaim and awards for the authors.
The underlying assumptions for these policy proposals weren't publicly challenged at all. The academic and scientific debate raged but remained almost completely unreported. As far as the public knew, scientific assumption and speculation was a proven fact. It is now impossible to question these unproven assumptions and obviously inaccurate models without being accused of ''climate denial.''
This resulted in the Millenium Development Goals and eventually, in 2015, they gave way to the United Nation's full adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), In turn, these have been translated into government policy. For example, the UK government proudly announced their Net Zero policy commitment to sustainable development goals in 2019.
SDGs were already making an impact at the regional and local level in counties, cities, towns and boroughs across the UK. Nearly every council across the country has a ''sustainable development plan.''
Regardless of what you think about the global threats we may or may not face, the origin and the distribution pathway of the resultant policy is clear. A privately funded, globalist think-tank was the driver of a policy agenda which led to the creation of a global policy framework, adopted by governments the world over, which has impacted communities in nearly every corner of the Earth.
SDGs are just one among numerous examples of GPPP global governance in action. The elected politician's role in this process is negligible. They merely serve to implement and sell the policy to the public.
It doesn't matter who you elect, the policy trajectory is set at the global governance level. This is the dictatorial nature of the GPPP and nothing could be less democratic.
What Is The Global Public Private Partnership?
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UNITE POWER OF MARKETS WITH AUTHORITY OF UNIVERSAL VALUES, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES AT WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 19:19
30 January 1998
Press ReleaseSG/SM/6448 UNITE POWER OF MARKETS WITH AUTHORITY OF UNIVERSAL VALUES, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES AT WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 19980130 ADVANCE TEXT Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's address, entitled "Markets for a Better World", to be delivered tomorrow, 31 January, at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland:
I am pleased to be back in Davos and to be here again amongst all of you. I would like to extend my thanks to my good friend Klaus Schwab.
It has been said that the job of Secretary-General of the United Nations is very much akin to that of a company's chief executive officer. This is true, to some extent. The Member States can be thought of as the board of directors. The world's people are the shareholders. Development programmes and peacekeeping operations are our main stock in trade, though we have many other less well-known products.
But the comparison stops there. How would you react if your board members -- all 185 of them -- micro-managed your business, gave you conflicting mandates and denied you the resources needed to do your job? What would you do as head of a club whose leading members do not pay their dues? What would you think of corporate governance that does not permit borrowing to offset this funding crisis? So if you think of me as a chief executive officer, remember that I am also equal parts juggler and mendicant.
Despite all these built-in problems, the United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a "quiet revolution". We are becoming better equipped to face the challenges of a new global era. And we are in a stronger position to work with business and industry.
If reform was the dominant theme of my first year in office, the role of the private sector in economic development was a strong sub-theme. A fundamental shift has occurred. The United Nations once dealt only with governments. By now we know that peace and prosperity cannot be achieved without partnerships involving governments, international organizations, the
business community and civil society. In today's world, we depend on each other. The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world.
The United Nations system brings to this relationship three distinct advantages: universal values; a global perspective; and concrete programmes. I will turn first to our day-to-day operations. That work -- the work of the Secretariat, its funds and programmes, and the specialized agencies around the world -- contributes quietly but significantly to the smooth functioning of the global economy.
Economic interdependence among nations places a premium on frameworks and institutions. I am sure we would all prefer the rule of law over the law of the jungle. I am confident that we would choose sustainable gains, within a stable and predictable system, over an unstructured and unregulated global environment. We need rules of the road and norms to guide relations between individuals and communities. This is as true of the global village as it is of the village each of us may have come from.
Technical standard-setting, for example, in areas such as aviation, shipping and telecommunication, provides the very foundation for international transactions: the system's "soft infrastructure".
Our advocacy of human rights nurtures democracy and good governance, two essential weapons in the fight for human freedom and the battle against corruption.
Our efforts to eradicate poverty bring hope to those in despair and create new markets and new opportunities for growth.
Our peacekeeping and emergency relief operations in war-torn nations bring the stability needed to regain the path to long-term development.
Our untiring efforts to codify international law, and build societies based on the rule of law, also promote regulatory consistency and peaceful change. International law also has a strong preventive aspect: the Law of the Sea, for example, was put in place before the unbridled exploitation of the world's marine resources could occur.
We also promote private sector development and foreign direct investment.
We help countries to join the international trading system and enact business-friendly legislation. And we promote microfinance for women, small traders and entrepreneurs.
- 3 - Press Release SG/SM/6448 30 January 1998
Business has a compelling interest in the success of this work. Creating wealth, which is your expertise, and promoting human security in the broadest sense, the United Nations main concern, are mutually reinforcing goals. Thriving markets and human security go hand in hand; without one, we will not have the other. A world of hunger, poverty and injustice is one in which markets, peace and freedom will never take root.
A second contribution of the United Nations is that it approaches the challenges and problems of an interdependent world from a global perspective. Globalization has knitted us together and helped generate a sustained period of economic expansion.
But is economic integration enough to alleviate poverty and narrow the widening gap between rich and poor? How can we best integrate developing nations into the global economy and ensure that they participate as full partners? What attraction can markets hold for those who cannot afford to enter the marketplace?
Can markets solve the problems facing the environment? Can markets deal with the negative side effects of globalization: "problems without passports" such as increased trafficking in drugs, arms and people?
Can we find ways to cope with the kind of volatility we have seen in Asia and elsewhere, and minimize its impact on ordinary people? The poor and vulnerable are already suffering disproportionately. Could such turmoil spark social unrest or even threaten peace and stability?
Some of these dilemmas have been with us for several years now. Others are as new as this morning's headlines. All must be addressed on a global scale. Interdependence is a two-way process. What happens in developing countries affects the developed nations, and vice versa. There are winners and losers; victims and beneficiaries. There are people who have lifted themselves out of poverty, and others who remain mired in deprivation.
In short, as globalization advances, it is clear that a global marketplace can only work effectively if it is able to address its inherent shortcomings and contradictions. As I said here last year:
"Today, market capitalism has no major ideological rival. Its biggest threat is from within itself. If it cannot promote both prosperity and justice, it will not have succeeded."
This brings me to values. It is here that the United Nations is best known and most important.
- 4 - Press Release SG/SM/6448 30 January 1998
Every society, from Asia to the Americas, is the product of values, of shared bonds and ideals. Global society, if it is to flourish, must also work from shared norms and objectives. Fortunately, the basis of that common understanding already exists; it is found in the United Nations Charter.
Freedom, justice and the peaceful resolution of disputes; social progress and better standards of living; equality, tolerance and dignity; these are the universal values set out in the Charter. They define the true human interest.
They are also a pillar of the global economy. That is because markets are also a reflection of values. Markets do not function in a vacuum. Rather, they arise from a framework of rules and laws, and they respond to signals set by governments and other institutions.
Indeed, without rules governing property rights and contracts, without confidence based on the rule of law, without an overall sense of direction and a fair degree of equity and transparency, there could be no well-functioning markets, domestic or global. The United Nations system provides such a global framework -- an agreed set of standards and objectives that enjoy worldwide acceptance, and within which markets are able to function.
For all these reasons: because we work to fulfil a broad vision of human security; because of the assistance that we -- and sometimes only we -- provide; and because we promote a value system of time-tested legitimacy, I have no hesitation in declaring that a strong United Nations is good for business. We help create the environment within which you can function and succeed.
Ours is an era of internationalism, not isolationism. But not everyone realizes this. I need you, national leaders and innovators in your fields, to bring this message back home to your governments, your colleagues, your customers. Your voices can be especially influential among those who might still be looking inward.
The United Nations and the private sector have distinct strengths and roles, and we are still overcoming a legacy of suspicion. But if we are bold, we can bridge those differences and turn what have been fledgling arrangements of cooperation into an even stronger force.
Already we can boast of many examples of successful cooperation. The world's Rotary clubs, for example, backed strongly by the business community, have given more than $400 million to the World Health Organization's efforts to eradicate polio.
- 5 - Press Release SG/SM/6448 30 January 1998
We are defining collaborative projects with the International Chamber of Commerce. My good friend Ted Turner is placing vast resources behind an array of vital United Nations programmes.
And here in Davos, a new Business Consultative Group has been meeting to bring CEOs and international institutions together around one table with one purpose: to work together and to work cooperatively.
I can hardly imagine a corporation in the world today that cannot find some connection to the United Nations diverse agenda. That is particularly true of those that are represented here in Davos. I have the highest regard for your abilities, your power and your concern for human well-being. I know how much you have to offer.
The advent of a global economy may seem irresistible and inevitable. To many it has brought great riches and heralded a new age of possibility. To others it seems exclusionary, exploitative, intrusive and even destructive.
What we must remember is that globalization has not just happened; it has been the result of deliberate policy choices, many of them made in your own boardrooms, in conference halls such as this and through international cooperation at the United Nations.
Leaders of government and business continue to have choices. So let us choose to unite the power of markets with the authority of universal ideals. Let us choose to reconcile the creative forces of private entrepreneurship with the needs of the disadvantaged and the requirements of future generations. Let us ensure that prosperity reaches the poor. Let us choose an enlightened way forward towards our ultimate, shared goal: a global marketplace that is open to all and benefits all.
* *** *
For information media. Not an official record.
DOE Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Will Deliver For American Workers, Families and Usher in the Clean Energy Future | Department of Energy
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 16:04
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a long-overdue investment in our nation's infrastructure, workers, families, and competitiveness. A key piece in President Biden's Build Back Better agenda, the infrastructure deal includes more than $62 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to deliver a more equitable clean energy future for the American people by doing the following:
Investing in American manufacturing and workers. Expanding access to energy efficiency and clean energy for families, communities and businesses. Delivering reliable, clean, and affordable power to more Americans. Building the technologies of tomorrow through clean energy demonstrations. Investing in American Manufacturing and Workers Revitalizing domestic supply chains and America's manufacturing leadership
For too long we have ceded ground on manufacturing to our global competitors. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal's investments in clean energy technology supply chains will allow America to make the energy technologies of the future right here at home, boosting our competitiveness within a global clean energy market expected to reach $23 trillion by the end of the decade. These investments will create jobs up and down the supply chain'--especially manufacturing jobs and skills-matched opportunities for fossil fuel workers. The infrastructure deal will:
Invest more than $7 billion in the supply chain for batteries , which are essential to powering our economy with 24/7 clean, affordable, and resilient energy and transportation options. This will include producing critical minerals, sourcing materials for manufacturing, and even recycling critical materials without new extraction/mining. Provide an additional $1.5 billion for clean hydrogen manufacturing and advancing recycling RD&D. Create a new $750 million grant program to support advanced energy technology manufacturing projects in coal communities. Expand the authority of DOE's Loan Program Office (LPO) to invest in projects that increase the domestic supply of critical minerals and expand LPO programs that invest in manufacturing zero-carbon technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, trains, aircraft, and marine transportation. Investing in America's workforce
Investing in America's workers means investing in America's future. When combined with the Build Back Better Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will add an average of 1.5 million jobs per year , over the course of the decade, while accelerating America's path to full employment and increasing labor force participation. These jobs will be spread across every pocket of the country, and the vast majority will not require a college degree. The infrastructure deal will:
Require all construction workers on projects funded by the deal to be paid prevailing wages , according to the Davis-Bacon Act. Invest hundreds of millions in workforce development , giving workers in the electric grid, clean buildings, and industrial sectors access to training in cutting-edge technologies that will spur their careers in the years to come. Establish a multi-agency Energy Jobs Council to work with stakeholders and oversee the development and release of energy jobs and workforce data to inform decisions by governments, businesses, and other stakeholders at the national, state, and local level. Expanding Access to Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy for Families, Communities and Businesses Clean energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels in most parts of the country, and it keeps getting cheaper. Increasing access to clean energy will save families money'--and for lower-income households, who already spend up to 30% of their income on energy costs, those savings are essential. At the same time, more clean energy means less carbon and air pollution, which disproportionately harms lower-income communities, and especially communities of color. Greater clean energy capacity will offer these communities cleaner air, better health outcomes, and lower healthcare bills.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will turbo-charge clean energy deployment by funding several highly effective state and local programs that will spur projects that increase access to energy efficiency to save money for American families, businesses and communities, help achieve our clean energy goals and accelerate job growth. The infrastructure deal also expands existing DOE grant and loan programs to help states weatherize homes, increase energy efficiency, and expand clean generation. The infrastructure deal will:
Invest $3.5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program to increase energy efficiency, increase health and safety, and reduce energy costs for low-income households by hundreds of dollars every year. Invest $500 million to provide cleaner schools for our children and teachers by providing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities, along with a $5 billion EPA effort to replace thousands of polluting diesel school buses with electric buses. Together, these investments will reduce energy costs in our schools and improve teacher and student health by improving indoor air quality. Invest $550 million in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG) and $500 million in the State Energy Program to provide grants to communities, cities, states, U.S. territories, and Indian tribes to develop and implement clean energy programs and projects that will create jobs. Delivering Reliable, Clean, and Affordable Power to More Americans Bringing the electrical grid into the 21st century
Extreme weather events like the Dixie Wildfire, Hurricane Ida, and the 2021 Texas Freeze have made it clear that our existing energy infrastructure cannot endure the impacts of climate change. Modernizing and expanding the electricity grid will make our energy sector more resilient, while enabling the buildout of affordable, reliable, clean energy to support President Biden's goal of 100% clean power by 2035. The infrastructure deal will:
Provide $11 billion in grants for states, tribes, and utilities to enhance the resilience of the electric infrastructure against disruptive events such as extreme weather and cyber attacks. Establish a $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program for DOE to help develop nationally significant transmission lines, increase resilience by connecting regions of the country, and improve access to cheaper clean energy sources. Back a $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program, focusing on investments that improve the flexibility of the grid. These include upgrading existing transmission and distribution systems, and other actions, like deploying energy storage. Together, it will help the grid accommodate a new energy future where families and businesses often generate their own clean energy through microgrids and other distributed energy sources. Maintaining our existing clean generation fleet
Our nation already gets 27% of its power from decades-old nuclear and hydropower facilities. These are critical sources of clean power'--but as they get older and more expensive to maintain, we risk losing these major sources of pollution-free energy and good-paying jobs. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal provides funding to ensure that we can keep these clean energy sources online. The infrastructure deal will:
Allocate $6 billion for the Civilian Nuclear Credit program to prevent premature retirement of existing zero-carbon nuclear plants , helping to save thousands of good-paying union jobs across the country. The program is available for plants that would otherwise retire and are certified as safe to continue operations and prioritizes plants that use domestically produced fuel. Invest more than $700 million in existing hydropower facilities to improve efficiency, maintain dam safety, reduce environmental impacts, and ensure generators continue to provide emission-free electricity. Building the Technologies of Tomorrow through Clean Energy Demonstrations While the technologies needed to decarbonize most of our economy are both available and affordable thanks in part to decades of technology development led by DOE, further innovation is a critical component of meeting the President's goals of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035 and a net-zero-carbon economy by 2050. With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, America's scientists and researchers will have the resources they need to demonstrate these clean energy breakthroughs and prove them out at scale.
The infrastructure deal will:
Provide $21.5 billion in funding for clean energy demonstrations and research hubs focused on next generation technologies needed to achieve our goal of net-zero by 2050, including: $8 billion for clean hydrogen , which will turbo-charge our progress toward heavy trucking and industrial sectors that run without producing carbon pollution. More than $10 billion for carbon capture, direct air capture and industrial emission reduction , providing skills-matched opportunities for fossil fuel workers. $2.5 billion for advanced nuclear , which would provide 24/7 clean electricity and create good-paying jobs. $1 billion for demonstration projects in rural areas and $500 million for demonstration projects in economically hard-hit communities.
DOE Welcomes New Biden-Harris Appointees | Department of Energy
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 16:01
WASHINGTON, D.C. '-- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced new Biden-Harris Administration appointees that have joined the team to help combat climate change and build a more prosperous and equitable clean energy future. With these new hires, DOE appointees make up an historically diverse team with 59% women, 56% people of color, and 19% of staff identifying as LGBTQ+.
''We are thrilled to welcome another group of accomplished and driven leaders to our team who will help achieve our goal of a prosperous, equitable clean energy future for every American family,'' said Chief of Staff Tarak Shah. ''With the help of the investments from Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, our staff will continue the important work of powering clean energy innovation, building the foundation of a clean economy, and relentlessly pursuing climate change solutions that will create hope for future generations.''
New appointees and their roles are listed below:
Gina Coplon-Newfield, Chief of Staff, Office of Policy
Most recently, Gina Coplon-Newfield was the founding Director of Sierra Club's Clean Transportation for All Campaign. Previously, she ran campaigns and programs at Physicians for Human Rights, the US Campaign to Ban Landmines, and a Boston-based lead poisoning prevention initiative. She previously served on the Massachusetts Zero Emission Vehicle Commission. She earned a B.A. from Tufts University and a master's in Public Administration at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Miranda Dixon, Director of Advance, Office of Management
Miranda Dixon most recently she worked as an Event Producer for a woman-owned event firm and advanced trips for Vice President Kamala Harris. Prior to that, she spent three years as a traveling advance associate for the Obama White House and was the Advance Coordinator for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julin Castro. She was a Scheduler and Executive Assistant to a Member of Congress as well as a Special Assistant at the US Small Business Administration. Miranda obtained her bachelor's degree at the American University of Paris in Paris, France.
Mailinh McNicholas, Special Assistant, Office of Science
Mailinh McNicholas most recently served as a Staff Assistant at the White House. She previously worked as a Regional Organizing Director in South Florida during the 2020 general election on the Biden for President Campaign as a Field Organizer during the 2020 Presidential Primary. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, McNicholas graduated from the George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Communication.
Chad Smith, Deputy Press Secretary, Office of Public Affairs
Chad Smith was most recently a researcher in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. He served as deputy research director on President Biden's campaign and researcher in the Biden-Harris Transition Team's Office of General Counsel. Prior to joining the campaign, he was a researcher and editor at American Bridge 21st Century. A native of Port Orange, Florida, Smith started his career as a reporter at newspapers in his home state. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in political science from the University of Florida.
Kathy Zheng, Special Assistant, Office of Public Affairs
Kathy Zheng most recently worked as an Influencer Marketing Executive at BEN Group. Previously, she worked on the Biden-Harris campaign as a Paid Media Associate and NBCUniversal as a Communications Intern. She holds a B.A. in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of California, Riverside and an M.A. in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California.
Paxlovid: what we know about Pfizer's Covid-19 pill
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 15:04
Credit: Shutterstock.comOn the heels of Merck antiviral molnupiravir's UK approval, Pfizer has set out to get its own Covid-19 pill, Paxlovid, on the market. This week, the US drugmaker sought emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its novel antiviral candidate in individuals with mild-to-moderate Covid-19, who are at higher risk of hospitalisation or death.
Pfizer has also begun the process of seeking regulatory clearance in other countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, and plans to file additional applications.
How does Paxlovid work?Paxlovid is a combination of Pfizer's investigational antiviral PF-07321332 and a low dose of ritonavir, an antiretroviral medication traditionally used to treat HIV. The treatment disrupts the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in the body by binding to the 3CL-like protease, an enzyme crucial to the virus' function and reproduction.
According to an interim analysis, Paxlovid reduced the risk of Covid-19-associated hospitalisation or death by 89% in those who received treatment within three days of symptom onset. The drug was found to be so effective '' just 1% of patients who received Paxlovid were hospitalised through day 28 compared to 6.7% of placebo participants '' that its Phase II/III trial was ended early and regulatory submission to the FDA was filed sooner than expected. Moreover, while 10 deaths were reported on the placebo arm, none occurred among participants who received Paxlovid.
Like molnupiravir, Paxlovid is administered orally, meaning Covid-19 patients can take the drug at home in the early stages of infection. The hope is that new antivirals like those from Merck and Pfizer will allow people with mild or moderate cases of coronavirus to be treated sooner, preventing disease progression and help avoid hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Covid-19 drug competitionMerck's molnupiravir, the first approved pill for Covid-19, has been touted a potential game-changer ever since studies found it reduced hospitalisation and mortality risk by around 50%. But that doesn't mean Pfizer's antiviral offering won't have the edge in the market.
An interim analysis of molnupiravir's efficacy is promising, but the dramatic risk reduction reported by Pfizer indicates its pill could also prove a valuable weapon in governments' armoury against the pandemic.
In addition to being potentially more effective, Paxlovid may encounter less safety questions than its rival antiviral. Some experts have expressed concerns that molnupiravir's mechanism of action against Covid-19 '' mimicking RNA molecules to induce viral mutations'' could also introduce harmful mutations within human DNA. Paxlovid, a different type of antiviral known as a protease inhibitor, has shown no signs of ''mutagenic DNA interactions'', Pfizer has said.
Both Pfizer and Merck's pills are most beneficial when administered within five days of symptom onset.
Still, not all antiviral efforts have been successful. A Covid-19 antiviral pill jointly developed by Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals recently failed to meet its primary endpoint in a Phase II trial, and Atea has since announced the strategic partnership between the companies will be terminated.
It's not just antivirals that hold promise for the treatment of Covid-19. Drugmakers are also investigating monoclonal antibodies, which bind to specific antigens and instruct the immune system to destroy the virus.
Monoclonal antibody therapies from Eli Lilly, Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline have been granted US regulatory authorization for the treatment of Covid-19.However, the FDA revoked Lilly's authorisation for the monotherapy use of bamlanivimab'--one of the antibodies in the cocktail with etesevimab'--because it was ineffective against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.
While all three companies' antibody treatments have demonstrated good efficacy, they require a one-time intravenous administration, meaning antiviral pills '' which can be taken at home ''are significantly more convenient.
Who will have access to Paxlovid?In early November, and ahead of the drug's approval, the UK purchased 250,000 courses of Paxlovid. The US also has plans to secure a hefty supply and according to news reports, the Biden administration is set to buy 10 million courses of the pills.
Pfizer says it has entered into advance purchase agreements with several countries, including Israel '' but with wealthy countries eager to snap up supplies of the most promising Covid-19 treatments, there are concerns that poorer nations will be left behind as they were with coronavirus vaccines.
In efforts to expand global access to Paxlovid, Pfizer has signed an agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to allow generic manufacturers to provide copies of the drug to 95 low- and middle-income countries. The drugmaker has said the therapy will be offered through a tiered pricing model, which will see high- and upper-middle income nations pay more than lower-income countries, which will be charged a not-for-profit fee.
Despite this, Pfizer's purchase arrangements could still see some countries left without reliable access to Paxlovid. The company's deal with the MPP resembles that of Merck's, signed last month, which appears to leave most of Latin America and Caribbean behind.
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The Biden Administration's 100-Day Plan For Power Grid Cybersecurity
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:59
Power lines stretch into the distance over the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
ASSOCIATED PRESSReleased last week with impressive fanfare but relatively scant detail, the Biden administration's announcement that the Department of Energy and DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) would coordinate with our nation's electric utility industry to raise the bar on industrial control system cybersecurity in the utility industry, was nevertheless received with a significant amount of optimism by the cybersecurity community.
This 100-Day Plan, when viewed along with with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) December 17, 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to establish an incentive-based framework for utilities that voluntarily make cybersecurity investments that exceed the current mandatory Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Reliability Standards, and the forthcoming Department of Homeland Security's ''60-day sprint'' initiative focused on industrial control systems, signify a new and welcome trend in government support for critical infrastructure.
These are promising signs of acknowledgement that the overused ''public-private partnership'' term to jointly solve these kind of massive problems will only work by departing from the historical 'regulate and punish' model of government oversight that I experienced far too often when I served as the Chief Security Officer at the North American Reliability Corporation (NERC).
The 100-day plan's provision for active participation by electric utilities and others in a DOE Request for Information (RFI) on how to address supply chain cybersecurity heralds an opportunity for new innovation to address the growing global supply chain problem. Called a ''pilot of the Administration's broader cybersecurity initiative'' by National Security Council spokesperson Emily Home, the 100-day plan explicitly identifies industrial control system (ICS) and operational technology (OT), and will serve as a platform to eventually address other critical infrastructures as opposed to previous federal initiatives which generally lacked any specific technology focus.
In an industry where infrastructure and systems have historically been purchased while planning for decades of use and depreciation, older technology and systems have resulted in significant tech-debt across the electricity industry. Enhancing cybersecurity ''to increase visibility of threats in ICS and OT systems'' in older embedded technologies will likely never be possible until utility companies are able to recover the costs of those investments, which are strictly limited by regulators at both the federal and state levels. More awareness of these security gaps that quite literally affect the safety of our society should result in a closer look by the federal government with potential funding to mitigate the gaps.
If I were a technology leader in the utility industry today, I'd be looking at the 100-day plan as an opportunity to identify long needed infrastructure enhancements.
1. The 100-day plan calls for owners and operators of utilities to ''enhance their detection, mitigation and forensic capabilities.'' This will only be possible through new investment so CIO's, CISO's, and electric utility technology leaders should begin reviewing their current technology and identify potential solutions to achieve these capabilities.
2. The 100-day plan calls for utilities ''to identify and deploy technologies and systems that enable near real time situational awareness and response capabilities.'' In addition to looking at new technologies, CIO's and CISO's should review and update their security policies that govern organizational situational awareness and incident response.
3. The Department of Energy's request for information (RFI) is an unprecedented opportunity for the electric utility industry to provide direct input and collaborate with the government to shape the future of supply chain security.
The kind of public-private partnership identified in this 100-day plan is long-overdue. As Tim Roxey, one of the seers of cybersecurity in the electricity industry is fond of saying, ''We didn't know that what we were building 40 years ago was going to be called critical infrastructure or we would have planned better.'' Now is the opportunity to remedy that lack of planning.
Het CDA wil gebruikers xtc direct beboeten (en daarna een taakstraf geven) | RTL Nieuws
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:18
'Simpele oplossingen bestaan niet' 23 november 2021 04:54 Aangepast: 23 november 2021 08:10
Een festival, ter illustratie. Beeld (C) ANP Als het aan het CDA ligt worden gebruikers van harddrugs zoals xtc straks veel harder aangepakt. Nu wordt (C)(C)n pilletje gedoogd, maar de partij wil dat gebruikers van bijvoorbeeld xtc direct beboet worden. Als ze daarna nog eens gepakt worden met pilletjes moeten ze van het CDA een taakstraf krijgen.
Dat schrijft de partij vandaag in een nieuwe visie over de Nederlandse drugsaanpak. Hoewel harddrugs officieel verboden zijn, wordt bijvoorbeeld (C)(C)n xtc-pil gezien als bezit voor eigen gebruik en door de autoriteiten doorgaans gedoogd.
Vijf pillen gedoogdHet CDA stelt dat op het Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) het op zak hebben van vijf xtc-pillen zelfs gedoogd wordt, omdat 'het voor de politie niet haalbaar is om bij elk getroffen drugsbezit tot arrestatie over te gaan'.
Lees ook: Z"veel drugs op Brits festivalterrein, de vissen zijn er in gevaar
Volgens het CDA is het gedoogbeleid een van de redenen 'waarom Nederland in veel hogere mate last heeft (gekregen) van zware georganiseerde drugscriminaliteit ten opzichte van andere Europese landen'. In de visie staan talloze andere maatregelen die de partij wil nemen om te voorkomen dat Nederland een 'narcostaat' wordt.
'Rechtsstaat beschermen'"Simpele oplossingen bestaan niet", zegt CDA-Kamerlid Anne Kuik over de plannen. "Willen we de democratische rechtsstaat beter beschermen, dan mogen we geen middel ongebruikt laten om dit doel te bereiken."
De partij wil ook dat de maximale straffen voor de productie van en handel in harddrugs omhoog worden gebracht. Nu zijn de straffen hier nog lager dan in buurlanden.
Lees ook: Aanpak handel in synthetische drugs: invallen in Nederland en Belgi
Coffeeshops naar bedrijventerreinenDe partij spreekt van een 'strenge anti-maffiawetgeving naar Italiaans voorbeeld'. Daarnaast horen coffeeshops niet in het normale straatbeeld thuis, vindt het CDA. De partij wil coffeeshops daarom naar bedrijventerreinen verplaatsen. Ook wil het een teruggeeffonds om afgepakt geld te investeren in kwetsbare wijken.
Het is niet duidelijk of de voorstellen op een meerderheid in de Tweede Kamer kunnen rekenen. Coalitiepartner D66, met wie het CDA momenteel praat over een nieuw kabinet, heeft eerder duidelijk laten weten dat het drugs niet wil verbieden.
Lees ook: D66 Utrecht wil drugscriminaliteit bestrijden met xtc-shop
Altijd weten wat er speelt?Download de gratis RTL Nieuws-app en blijf op de hoogte.
I bought a half-kilowatt of solar energy for $9 in under 10 minutes - CNET
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:05
No solar panels on your roof? You probably can still access solar power.
Michael Duva/Getty Images Solar panels are out of financial reach for a lot of people. Solar energy, however, is more accessible. So, after writing about how relatively easy it is to claim renewable energy for your own personal use, I set out to get some solar power for myself.
It took about 10 minutes and cost me $9, and it's likely just as easy for you.
Utilities often offer green power pricing programs in which their customers can pay a bit of a premium to buy renewable energy. It's a relatively simple way to satisfy your desire to use renewable energy. At least 1 million utility customers bought renewable energy this way in 2020. Not all renewable energy is created the same, though, and it's worth a bit of digging to make sure your purchase is making a difference.
To be fair, I did my digging after the fact.
Buying solar power was quick and easyI live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and my electric provider is Consumers Energy. I knew it had renewable energy programs and, from my recent reporting, had a pretty good idea of how they were likely to work. So I headed to its website.
It took me four clicks to get to a subscription form for a program called Solar Gardens. Solar Gardens allows customers like me to subscribe to solar panels that Consumers Energy has built in Michigan.
For an extra (yes, extra) $9 each month on my bill, I could subscribe to half of a kilowatt of solar production. I would get a credit of about $4 back for the energy my portion of the array produced -- and for the satisfaction of using solar energy. Consumers Energy would also retire the renewable energy certificates on my behalf, which means I rightly get to say I used that energy. (I double-checked this with Consumers. The utility said that I get to claim the environmental benefits of the solar energy I'm paying for and that this energy doesn't cover its own renewable energy obligations under Michigan law.)
Solar production varies based on how much the sun shines. I bought a half-kilowatt block, which Consumers Energy told me is expected, on average, to generate about 750 kilowatt hours a year.
Consumers Energy says the average household would need 10 or 12 of the blocks to offset their annual energy cost. I use a lot less energy than the average household. Over the past 12 months, I used 4,376 kilowatt hours, so I would only need to buy six blocks to completely offset my energy use.
Next, I entered contact information and my service address. I certified that I was the account holder and that I had read the terms and conditions. (Truth: I had not.)
And that was it. I had bought some solar energy.
Video: Is there such a thing as dirty solar?
What does my utility do with my money?It felt a little weird to send extra money to my utility. I wanted to make sure my $9 a month is making a difference, even a small one.
A key concept in renewable energy is "additionality." If a purchase of renewable energy provides additionality, it supports the creation (or addition) of more renewable energy.
"Your subscription is going to allow us to add even more solar than we are planning today," said Sarah Nielsen, executive director of transportation, renewables and storage at Consumers Energy.
Technically, my $9 is going to refill a pot of money that Consumers Energy has used to build the solar energy I'm subscribed to. The utility said it will use my subscription fee to build new solar production ahead of schedule.
"What Solar Gardens does is allow our customers to say: I want to help us get there even faster," Nielsen said.
Green power pricing programs, where customers pay a premium for renewable energy, are required by Michigan law, in part to defray the cost of renewable energy for others. The utility also offers customers the ability to purchase renewable energy for an additional 1.4 cents per kilowatt hour. (I used 334 last month, so it would have cost $4.68.) About 18,000 Consumers Energy customers are part of a green power pricing program, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
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Not long ago, renewable energy was more expensive than energy generated by fossil fuels. The extra money from a green power pricing program could be used to pay for the more expensive renewable generation that otherwise wouldn't be built. That's additionality. Today renewable energy sources are often cheaper than fossil-fuel energy plants, meaning more and more utilities are adding renewable energy as part of their business as usual.
That throws a bit of a wrench into the idea of additionality.
"If they're going to build solar for all their new resources anyway, the idea of additionality just gets fuzzier," said Douglas Jester, managing partner at 5 Lakes Energy, a clean energy public policy consulting firm in Michigan.
Building solar energy faster than planned is still really significant for the planet. The United Nations has said the world needs to cut carbon emissions by about half by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050. And because carbon emissions accumulate in the atmosphere, reducing them earlier is important.
"To the extent that you're doing it earlier, you are reducing the accumulation that drives climate change," Jester said. "So that is a real benefit even though it's only that you're accelerating it by a few years."
Can you buy solar power without the panels?While the details of the plans differ, many utilities, especially the big ones, offer similarly simple ways to purchase renewable energy.
Nine out of the 10 largest in America offer some sort of green power pricing program, which allows you to pay a premium for renewable energy. Nearly every state has at least one utility offering green power pricing.
I checked in on a few. These programs were relatively easy to find online and seemed fairly simple to join, as quite a few people have found. Over a million customers bought renewable energy through a green power pricing program, according to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
If you're concerned about where your money goes, you can check for (the voluntary) Green-e Energy Certification or make sure your utility offers you that information.
Unless you're a large company (or using way more energy than I am), your extra contribution to supporting renewables won't be huge. But in my case, I'm achieving a few things.
I'm creating a tiny bit more demand for solar energy, helping fund new solar installations and doing something about my concern over climate change. Nine bucks a month might seem like a lot or a little. (And I do get some of that back on my bill.) But it's a place to start. And, I can rightfully say, I'm using solar energy, even without the panels.
Veteran WTIC-AM personality Ray Dunaway to retire after nearly three decades - Hartford Courant
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:00
Ray Dunaway, the morning radio personality who followed the legendary Bob Steele on WTIC-AM and won over listeners with a relaxed but informed conversational style, will retire from the radio station next month after 29 years.
''You just get tired of waking up,'' Dunaway said. ''You just do. I love the morning. I do. I wouldn't do any other shift, but the thing is, after a period of time, it's kind of like you've been there, done that. And I think it's time for somebody fresh to take a look at it.''
Dunaway, 72, said the decision to retire from the morning show, which airs weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., was entirely his own. His last show will be on Dec. 24.
Radio personality Ray Dunaway puts his feet up after concluding a broadcast of the morning show he has hosted since 1992. (Mark Mirko/The Hartford Courant)
His co-host, Brian Shactman, will continue to host the morning show, the station's parent company, Audacy, said.
Dunaway was hired to replace Steele in 1992, bringing with him more than two decades of radio experience elsewhere in the country.
Steele had a storied local broadcasting career spanning more than five decades, and Dunaway would be Steele's second replacement. Steele's immediate successor lasted just a year.
''The fact of the matter is, it was nerve-wracking because I had gone to Trinity [College] and my roommate used to listen to Bob religiously,'' Dunaway said. ''He was really good. It was a great responsibility taking over that job.''
Legendary Hartford radio personality Bob Steele was one of the highest rated radio hosts in the country for most of his 60-plus year career. (Stephen Dunn / Hartford Courant)
Quick acceptance wasn't a sure thing for Dunaway with the memory of Steele still fresh and dissatisfaction among some viewers about a move by WTIC to talk radio.
''Connecticut-ites weren't necessarily going to make that easy,'' recalled Gary Zenobi, then general manager of WTIC, who hired Dunaway. ''But he filled Bob Steele's shoes in a different way. Formats were changing. Ray was just perfect for that because he could hold a conversation not just about anything but with anyone.''
Dunaway's arrival also coincided with rapid changes in AM radio. WTIC's daytime music listeners were moving to FM radio, leaving AM stations like WTIC to carve out a different niche, which turned out to be talk radio.
Dunaway's popularity with listeners survived four ownership changes at WTIC and a relocation from One Financial Plaza, the ''Gold Building'' in downtown Hartford, to Farmington in the early 2000s.
A Peanuts comic is taped under a monitor in the studio of radio personality Ray Dunaway. (Mark Mirko/The Hartford Courant)
The tone of talk radio has turned more contentious and far less civil since Dunaway joined WTIC.
''It is polarizing, no doubt, but the good ones try to make it as fair as they possibly can,'' Dunaway said. ''You can have your point of view. There's nothing wrong with that, and you are able to share it.''
Dunaway said he worked earlier in his career with conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, who died in February. Dunaway said he considered Limbaugh someone who thought things through before expressing his opinions. Limbaugh would also become part of the weekday lineup on WTIC.
Dunaway said there now is pressure to mix it up whether it be on radio or television.
''The whole thing is fight-sell,'' Dunaway said. ''People like fights. It doesn't help anything. [Conservative intellectual] William F. Buckley wouldn't have survived today.''
Dunaway said he has strived to keep the morning show on the lighter side.
Gov. Ned Lamont visited the studios of WTIC in early 2020 on the anniversary of his first year in office to take calls on the morning show with Ray Dunaway and former co-host Joe D'Ambrosio. (STEPHEN DUNN / Special to the Courant)
One of this favorite interviews came in 1994 when then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton came on the air to push her husband's plan for health care reform.
Clinton jolted local listeners with the frank assessment that the plan might cost some jobs '-- paper-pushing jobs, as she called them '-- in Hartford. Some of those jobs, Dunaway said, were in buildings he could see from his studio on the 19th floor of the Gold Building.
Dunaway, according to a report in The Courant, observed the government didn't have a great track record of containing costs, asking, ''How can we trust you this time?''
When Dunaway arrived in downtown Hartford in 1992, he found a city changed vastly in appearance from when he attended Trinity two decades earlier. The 1980s building boom had given rise to skyscrapers like CityPlace and Goodwin Square.
But the early 1990s also was marked by economic recession and a bad after-taste from the Colonial Realty Co. collapse that cost ''Mom & Pop'' investors their life savings in a bigger-than-life fraud scheme.
The late Hartford Mayor Michael P. Peters, at left, was a frequent guest on Ray Dunaway's show. (PATRICK RAYCRAFT / HARTFORD COURANT)
Dunaway said the election of Hartford Mayor Michael P. Peters, the wisecracking firefighter, in 1993, started to turn things around. The two quickly became good friends and often ran into each other at the old Chuck's steakhouse in downtown Hartford. Peters, who died in 2009, was a frequent guest on Dunaway's show.
''Mike Peters got things done. ... He had no real political power, but through the force of his personality managed to get things done,'' Dunaway said. ''He changed the attitude, let's put it that way.''
That set the stage for big-ticket Hartford investments like the Connecticut Convention Center, Front Street '-- and more recently, the addition of thousands of apartments downtown, Dunaway said.
Dunaway started in radio at age 17 on a Topeka, Kansas, station before attending Trinity. It was at this station where Dunaway '-- born Goldsich '-- would get his professional name.
''I wanted be J. Michael Wilson or Ray Michael Wilson,'' Dunaway said. ''The guy at the station said, 'Nah, I don't like that name. Let's find another one.' So, he got the phone book and he said, 'Ray Rodriguez? How about Ray Dunaway?' I said, 'Sure.' I wanted the job.''
Later, Dunaway worked in Detroit, Dallas and Los Angeles before spending 15 years at KMBZ-AM in Kansas City, Missouri, as morning show host.
In Greater Hartford, Dunaway's popularity has drawn attention to philanthropic causes, one of the largest being the annual Salvation Army Holiday Store. Dunaway got involved soon after arriving in Hartford, broadcasting his shows daily from holiday-store locations each December.
The holiday store first started on Pratt Street in downtown Hartford and later moved to Avon and Glastonbury.
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Salvation Army Major Migdalia Lavenbein, area coordinator for Greater Hartford, said the holiday store has raised millions since Dunaway became involved.
''Even beyond the money, he has helped transform lives; we're not just talking about toys and food and monetary gifts,'' Lavenbein said. ''He has been in the business of helping people who were at the bottom. They've hit rock bottom, and he's helped lift people up and place them in a position where they have hope. You can't say that about everyone.''
Dunaway's last day at WTIC will be when the holiday store wraps up for the season on Christmas Eve.
And after that? Well, Dunaway said he has to figure out what retirement will be. He plans to stay in the area but do some traveling '-- and read. ''I love to read,'' he said.
One thing he is absolutely sure about, though is this: ''I just don't want to see another sunrise,'' Dunaway said, quickly adding, ''Now don't take that the wrong way.''
COP26 climate summit had record CO2 emissions; air travel main culprit
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 13:57
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Ant"nio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaks during the Global Climate Action High-level event.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, U.K., this year is projected to have a carbon footprint that roughly doubles that of the last global summit in 2019, according to a report by Arup, a London-based professional services firm.
The two-week COP26 climate summit, which ends on Friday, will emit about 102,500 tons of carbon dioxide '-- that's the equivalent of total average annual emissions for more than 8,000 U.K. residents.
About 60% of the summit emissions are estimated to come from international flights, while other large contributors include accommodations for delegates and participants, policing and security for the event, transportation to and from venues., and local energy, water, and waste management.
The event is set be the most carbon-intensive UN climate conference yet. The 2019 COP25 in Madrid, by comparison, emitted an estimated 51,101 tons of carbon dioxide and the 2015 COP21 in Paris emitted an estimated 43,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
Young protesters take part in the Fridays For Future rally in Glasgow, Scotland on November 5, 2021, during climate summit COP26.
Daniel Leal-Olivas | AFP | Getty Images
World leaders made a slew of climate pledges throughout the summit, including deals to phase out coal, cut methane emissions and end deforestation. Still, environmental activists have accused government ministers and corporations of so-called greenwashing and argued the commitments aren't adequate to address the scale of the climate crisis.
"The meeting in Glasgow is not supposed to be a demonstration of sustainable lifestyles, and it shouldn't be judged in those terms," Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said in a statement.
"But the failure to reach any meaningful agreement about limiting aviation's vast carbon emissions '-- at a conference where 60% of their emissions came from aviation, with a backing chorus of media outrage at the private jet hypocrisy of the elites '-- really highlights the lack of equity in these talks," Parr added.
The British government has vowed to deliver a climate-neutral conference and said it will implement a carbon offsetting strategy, including purchasing carbon credits and funding projects to replace electricity generated through fossil fuels with renewable energy.
White House Comms Chief of Staff Leaves in Second Big Biden Admin Resignation This Week
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 13:57
White House Communications Chief of Staff Emma Riley announced she's leaving for the Labor Department on Friday, marking the second high-profile Biden administration resignation this week.
"It was an honor and privilege to serve @POTUS and the American people at the @WhiteHouse. I'm excited to be moving down Pennsylvania Ave and traveling around the country with [Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh] and [the U.S. Department of Labor]," Riley tweeted.
Prior to joining the Biden administration in January, Riley served as a deputy communications director, regional communications director and press secretary for the Biden 2020 presidential campaign.
Riley's announcement came one day after the White House confirmed that Vice President Kamala Harris' communications director, Ashley Etienne, will be leaving her role in December amid reports of tension between key West Wing aides in the vice president's office.
Etienne's department was first reported by Vanity Fair. She previously worked as a senior adviser to the Biden campaign before she joined his administration this year.
The White House is seen in Washington, DC on November 15, 2021 ahead of a virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images"Ashley is a valued member of the vice president's team, who has worked tirelessly to advance the goals of this administration," a White House official said in a statement. "She is leaving the office in December to pursue other opportunities."
Both resignations come as Biden and Harris battle lackluster approval ratings, and leaks from insiders and former aides detailing dysfunction in Harris' office. Last week, sources from Harris' circle told CNN that the vice president is being sidelined after failing to adequately prepare for the role. The sources also said Harris' staff failed her and left her exposed.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the vice president, acknowledging her as a "key partner" to Biden.
"The President selected the vice president because'--to serve as his running mate'--because he felt she was exactly the person he wanted to have by his side to govern the country," Psaki told reporters at a press briefing on Monday.
House Democratic Whip. Rep James Clyburn dismissed reports that White House staffers were resigning due to turmoil in Harris' office.
"I'm always concerned when I read headlines that are not complimentary ... but headlines are headlines," he said on CNN. "People leave jobs all the time. I've been a part of transitions myself at the state level. And I know that within the first several months'--sometimes it takes a year'--that people may find out this is not exactly for me. So these things tend to happen."
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.
Obama receives largest ever gift from Jeff Bezos '-- RT USA News
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 13:47
Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos has given a $100 million gift to the Obama Foundation, which will finance its global leadership programs and see the plaza at their lavish Chicago presidential center named after a civil rights leader.
The foundation headed by former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said on Monday that Bezos' gift is the largest individual contribution they've received to date and is intended to ''help expand the scope of programming that reaches emerging leaders in the United States and around the world.''
The only string attached is that the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center, currently under construction in Chicago, be named after the late Congressman John Lewis, a 1960s civil rights activist.
''Freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can't think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of extraordinary decency and courage,'' Bezos said. ''I'm thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow's leaders.''
In naming the plaza after Lewis, the foundation wishes to ''change the paradigm'' about naming public places, traditionally named after the donors themselves. At the Obama Presidential Center, however, donors will have the option ''to honor and elevate the names of those who have fought for a more just and equitable world.''
In addition to this, the ''generous unrestricted gift'' from Bezos will fund other Obama Foundation activities, from the Global Leaders Program to Girls Opportunity Alliance and My Brother's Keeper, as well as the Hometown Fund intended to invest in Chicago's South Side, foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett explained.
Construction on the Obama Presidential Center '' which will not feature a traditional presidential library '' began in August. The 19-acre complex is expected to take four years to build, at a cost of around $830 million.
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Austria Imposes Lockdown Amid Europe's Covid Surge - The New York Times
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 11:28
Europe is again at the center of the pandemic, and amid vaccine resistance and protests, nations are imposing new rules and pressuring people to get inoculated.
Salzburg, Austria, on Monday. The country went into its fourth nationwide lockdown and will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory. Credit... Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times Nov. 22, 2021
BRUSSELS '-- Austria went into a major lockdown on Monday to try to break the strong fourth wave of Covid spreading across Europe, while the German health minister, Jens Spahn, warned that by the end of this winter ''just about everyone in Germany will probably be either vaccinated, recovered or dead.''
''Immunity will be reached,'' Mr. Spahn said at a Berlin news conference. ''The question is whether it's via vaccination or infection, and we explicitly recommend the path via vaccination.''
European governments are toughening their measures against Covid in the face of soaring infection rates '-- more than two million new cases each week, the most since the pandemic began '-- and popular resistance, with violent protests over the weekend in numerous countries.
Image Germany's acting health minister, Jens Spahn, arriving for a news conference in Berlin on Monday. Credit... Christian Mang/Reuters Tens of thousands of people protested official crackdowns and vaccine requirements in Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and Croatia, with scattered violence and police use of tear gas and water cannons. Some protesters were organized by far-right parties, but many were simply fed up with almost two years of intermittent state controls over their lives in the name of public health.
Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, where some of the worst protests erupted, called them an ''orgy of violence'' and said football hooligans were believed to have been involved.
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, defended the right to demonstrate. ''But what I will never accept is that idiots use sheer violence against the people who work for you and me every day to keep this country safe under the guise of: 'We are dissatisfied.' ''
Europe is once again the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for more than half the world's reported Covid deaths this month, according to the World Health Organization. The four countries with the world's highest rates of reported new cases in the past week are Austria and three that border it, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic; 27 of the top 29 are in Europe.
With vaccination rates lagging and winter approaching, more governments are ringing alarm bells.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told her Christian Democratic party on Monday that the situation is ''highly dramatic'' and that the latest surge is worse than anything Germany had suffered so far.
In what may be her last month as chancellor, as a new government is being formed, she warned that hospitals would soon be overwhelmed unless the fourth wave of the virus is broken, and called on Germany's 16 states to enforce even tighter restrictions to block the spread.
Germany, like many European countries, is at the same time pressing for citizens to get booster shots. But it faces a dwindling supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which was partly developed in the country.
While the European Medicines Agency is poised to approve the vaccine for use on children ages 5 to 11 this week, first doses for children are not scheduled to be delivered to European Union countries until Dec. 20, Mr. Spahn said.
On Thursday, 553,000 vaccines were administered in Germany in one day, a daily total not seen since early August. Three quarters of those shots were boosters, according to the health ministry.
Neighboring Austria on Monday began its fourth lockdown, one of the few in Western Europe since vaccines became widely available. Most stores, restaurants, sporting venues and cultural institutions shut, leaving the streets cold and quiet in the weeks before Christmas.
Image A closed restaurant in Salzburg. Credit... Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times The lockdown, which only allows people to leave home to go to work or to procure groceries or medicines, will last at least 10 days and as many as 20 and comes after months of struggling attempts to halt the contagion through widespread testing and partial restrictions.
Austria has also announced that vaccination will be compulsory as of Feb. 1 '-- the first Western country to take that step, and one of only a handful around the world. Some critics, including the editorial board of the Financial Times, have called it too high a price in terms of individual freedom, and a sign of political failure.
Opposition to the measures has been led in Austria by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-largest in Parliament, which has been amplifying conspiracy theories about the vaccines, spreading doubt about their effectiveness and promoting ivermectin, a drug typically used to treat parasitic worms, mostly in horses, that has repeatedly failed against the coronavirus in clinical trials.
Alexander Schallenberg, Austria's chancellor, said he originally had opposed compulsory vaccination, but ''we have too many political forces, flimsy vaccine skeptics and spreaders of fake news in this country.''
On Saturday, some 40,000 Austrians marched in Vienna to protest the new measures.
France presents a contrast, in that President Emmanuel Macron has used more suasion. Proof of vaccination or a recent negative test is required to patronize restaurants and cinemas, which has encouraged many reluctant French to get vaccinated without a national mandate. But anti-vaccination groups remain active in France, as well.
About 68 percent of Germans and 66 percent of Austrians have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and hospitals are mostly filled with those who have not been vaccinated at all. Early in the pandemic, scientists thought 70 to 80 percent vaccination might be enough for a population to reach ''herd immunity.'' But the virus is now so widespread, with new variants arising and some vaccinated people suffering ''breakthrough'' infections, that many experts say herd immunity is unattainable.
Image People lining up for vaccinations on Monday in Salzburg. Credit... Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times Vaccination rates in most of Western Europe are higher, but the levels in Eastern Europe are far lower '-- from 59 percent in the Czech Republic to 24 percent in Bulgaria.
Belgium is highly vaccinated, at 75 percent, but a rise in cases has caused the government to impose tighter restrictions, including more working from home and wider mandatory mask wearing. That prompted a protest in Brussels on Sunday of an estimated 35,000 people near the European Union headquarters. Some protesters threw stones and set fires, the police made more than 40 arrests, and three officers were hurt.
Alexander de Croo, the prime minister of Belgium, called the violence ''absolutely unacceptable.'' Like Mr. Rutte, he said Belgians were free to protest, but that ''the way in which some demonstrators behaved had nothing to do with freedom.'' He continued: ''It had nothing to do with whether vaccination was a good thing or not, this was criminal behavior.''
In Greece, the government said on Monday that unvaccinated people would be barred from indoor spaces, including restaurants, cinemas, museums and gyms. Vaccination certificates for those older than 60 will be valid for only seven months, with people then required to get booster shots to maintain validity.
In Slovakia, the country's prime minister, Eduard Heger, announced a ''lockdown for the unvaccinated'' from Monday. Slovakia and the Czech Republic banned unvaccinated people from restaurants, pubs, shopping malls, public events and stores, except for those selling essential goods.
The W.HO. chief for Europe, Hans Kluge, earlier this month blamed the region's woes on insufficient vaccination despite the availability of vaccines, and said that the continent could see half a million more deaths by February.
''We must change our tactics, from reacting to surges of Covid-19 to preventing them from happening in the first place,'' he said.
Image Shopping in Salzburg on Monday. Credit... Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times Melissa Eddy contributed reporting from Vienna and Christopher F. Schuetze from Berlin.
Families of Parkland shooting victims settle lawsuit with DOJ for about $130 million : NPR
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 04:59
A memorial is seen outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in honor of those killed during a 2018 mass shooting. Families of more than a dozen victims have reached a legal settlement with the Justice Department. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Joe Raedle/Getty Images A memorial is seen outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in honor of those killed during a 2018 mass shooting. Families of more than a dozen victims have reached a legal settlement with the Justice Department.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images Families of more than a dozen victims of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., have reached a settlement with the Justice Department to resolve their lawsuit over the FBI's failure to act on tips about the gunman.
In a joint court filing Monday, attorneys for the families and the department say they've reached an agreement to settle all the claims at issue in the case.
The document does not include a financial figure, but a person familiar with the talks says it totals around $130 million.
The shooting took place on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding at least 17 more.
In their lawsuit, the families accused the FBI of negligence. They say the bureau received tips about Cruz, including his amassing of weapons and his desire to shoot up a school, but agents failed to intervene and prevent the violence.
Weeks before the shooting, a tipster told the FBI that Cruz was "going to explode," and that he "was going to slip into a school and start shooting the place up."
"Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice," Kristina Infante, the lead attorney for the families, said in a statement.
In the court filing, the parties say they are working to finalize additional details before submitting it for final approval.
The Justice Department declined to comment beyond the filing.
Last month, Cruz pleaded guilty. He's still awaiting sentencing.
News of the Parkland settlement follows about a month after an $88 million DOJ settlement with the families of the 2015 Charleston, S.C., mass shooting.
Most secretive garda unit deployed to take on far right groups involved in anti-vaccine protests - Irish Mirror Online
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 01:19
The Garda's most secretive unit has been deployed to take on far right groups involved in anti-vaccine protests, it has emerged.
The Star has learned that the National Surveillance Unit has now been ordered to spy on the right-wing activists that are becoming more active all over Ireland '-- and more of a concern for Garda bosses.
''The NSU is full steam on them now,'' a source said last night. ''It's a major deployment.''
The NSU is a hush-hush Garda organisation that normally mounts undercover operations against major gangsters and terrorists '-- and the fact that they have been deployed shows just how seriously gardai are taking the threat from right-wingers.
The deployment comes as officers express concerns that right wing extremists have infiltrated anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protests that have taken root all over Ireland '-- and are using them to spread their racist and bigoted hate.
Gardai outside national broadcaster RTE in an attempt to manage anti-lockdown protests planned for St Patrick's Day (Image: Stephen Collins / Collins)The NSU '-- who go undercover to carry out secret physical and electronic surveillance of suspects '-- are understood to have begun targeting the right-wing groups in recent weeks.
That comes in the wake of increased far right activity in anti-vax and anti-lockdown groups '-- as well as the picketing of homes of senior politicians and journalists.
Sources say gardai believe many of the people who have been involved in the protests outside homes of figures, including Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, Sinn F(C)in leader Mary Lou McDonald and even Liveline presenter Joe Duffy, are not far-right '-- but that an increasing number are.
''Some people getting involved in the protest could not be described as far-right and would be aghast at being considered in that camp,'' a source said.
''But it is clear that right-wing extremists are involved in many of these protest groups.
''They are using them to build up their own profile and to increase support for their own views.''
And the involvement of the far right has led to a major Garda probe into the protests, as well as security reviews for senior ministers.
Earlier this month, Justice Minister Helen McEntee admitted that she has on occasion felt unsafe as a public representative and also confirmed that her department was reviewing security for senior politicians.
Members of the cabinet used to have armed Garda protection, but that was taken off them when the recession hit around 2010. However, it is now possible the threat will see it reintroduced.
The involvement of the NSU also comes a matter of months after The Star revealed that the head of Garda intelligence warned that far right groups were planning to target COVID-19 vaccination centres.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Howard, the boss of the Garda National Crime and Security Intelligence Service, issued the warning to all 14,500 members of the force '-- to warn them to be on the look-out for any suspicious activity around the more than 30 centres in the country.
Det Chief Supt Howard also warned in his intelligence bulletin that the same groups are planning attacks on 5G masts '-- with the threat is particularly severe in the counties around Dublin.
His bulletin to officers said there was significant intelligence that far right and anti lockdown extremists were planning what was described as ''direct action'' against COVID-19 vaccination centres '-- which includes criminal damage, the Garda term for an attack on property or a building.
The anti-terror Special Detective Unit has recently set up a team to gather intelligence on right wing hardliners, sources revealed.
In May last year, the same intelligence section sent out an order for local gardai patrol 5G mast sites all over Ireland, to prevent attacks.
Officers were told to regularly report back to command and control after their patrols '-- and notify command of any suspicious activity.
The warning followed at least three attacks on phone masts in separate parts of the country.
Read MoreRelated ArticlesFour men arrested after gardai discover 'cannabis growhouse' and seize drugs worth '¬208,000 in SligoRead MoreRelated ArticlesGarda Checkpoints: Drunk driver faces prison after being found nine times over limitIn one incident at the end of April 2020, arsonists attacked a communications mast in Cork '-- which they wrongly believed was 5G.
The mast, at Holyhill on the north side of the city close to the sprawling Apple site, actually transmitted 3G and 4G mobile phone signals.
But shortly before the attack, posters had appeared in the area condemning 5G '-- which campaigners say is a health risk.
Earlier, at the start of the same month, two masts in Letterkenny, Co Donegal were also set on fire.
Again, the bungling attackers are believed to have thought they were targeting 5G masts '-- when they were actually 3G and 4G, and one had been installed to improve connectivity to the town's hospital.
The NSU was so secretive that its existence was not even acknowledged by Garda HQ for decades.
In May 1998, one of its officers shot dead Real IRA man Ronan Mac Lochlainn as he and other terrorist held up a security van in Ashford, Co Wicklow.
NSU operatives have also been monitoring Islamic radicals in Ireland '-- as well as playing a leading role in carrying out surveillance of Daniel Kinahan's associates here and other serious criminals.
Read MoreRelated ArticlesGardai arrest three as locals describe 'mayhem' of student's Christmas Day in LimerickRead MoreRelated ArticlesGardai set up multiple checkpoints around small village in hunt for three masked men
Investigation launched into abnormal spike in newborn baby deaths in Scotland | HeraldScotland
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 23:34
AN investigation has been launched into a spike in deaths among newborn babies in Scotland.
Official figures reveal that 21 infants died during September within 28 days of birth, causing the neonatal mortality rate to breach an upper warning threshold known as the 'control limit' for the first time in at least four years.
Control and warning limits are designed to flag up to public health teams when neonatal, stillbirth or other infant deaths are occurring at unexpectedly high or low levels which may not be due to chance.
Concerns have previously been raised about the potential impact of Covid on maternity services and maternal wellbeing, but it is the first time since the pandemic began that neonatal deaths have been so abnormally above average.
The neonatal mortality rate in September, at 4.9 per 1000 live births, was significantly above average
Although the rate fluctuates month to month, the figure for September - at 4.9 per 1000 live births - is on a par with levels that were last typically seen in the late 1980s.
Public Health Scotland (PHS), which is one of the bodies currently investigating the spike, said the fact that the upper control limit has been exceeded "indicates there is a higher likelihood that there are factors beyond random variation that may have contributed to the number of deaths that occurred".
READ MORE: Hospital admissions for under-fives soar amid spike in RSV cases
PHS said it is working with the Scottish National Neonatal Network, the Maternity and Children Quality Improvement Collaborative and the Scottish Government "to understand any possible contributing factors to the most recent infant mortality patterns, and to incorporate findings into existing prevention and improvement work".
Monthly figures on neonatal death rates are only available up to July 2017, but previously peaked at 3.7 per 1000 lives births in March 2020.
Annual statistics on neonatal mortality published by the National Records of Scotland show that it has been in steady decline for decades, falling from an average of 4.7 per 1000 live births in 1986-1990 to 2.2 per 1000 by 2016-2020.
READ MORE: Covid admissions falling rapidly in the over-75s amid 'booster effect'
Worldwide, the most common causes of neonatal death are infection, prematurity, and suffocation, but factors such as smoking during pregnancy or disruption to early intervention services including health visiting and midwifery also increase the risk.
PHS notes on its website that it "is important to monitor the levels of stillbirth and infant mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic, as they may be influenced by maternal health and wellbeing, by how maternity services are provided, and how people seek and interact with care".
A&E attendances were particularly high during September in the under-five age group, partly due to a surge in cases of RSV infection
Covid cases spiked to their highest recorded rate in September among the 0-14 age group, but there were no known Covid deaths in infants under one during that period
There is currently no detail on the causes of death involving the 21 infants who died in September.
The period coincided with a surge in A&E attendances for children under five. The trend was largely blamed on an unseasonal spike in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which normally circulates in winter and can cause serious illness - especially in babies and toddlers.
It is clear, however, that none of the deaths were directly linked to Covid.
Since the pandemic began in Scotland, there has been only one recorded Covid death - in December 2020 - in a baby aged under one.
READ MORE: Pregnant women left exposed by mixed messages on vaccination
However, Dr Sarah Stock, an expert in maternal and foetal health at Edinburgh University, told the BBC that the virus could have led to an increase in infections in expectant mothers and premature deliveries as a result.
Data for Scotland has previously highlighted a lower uptake of Covid vaccines in pregnant women than women of the same age, and Scotland experienced record Covid rates in late August into early September.
Scotland saw a surge in Covid cases after schools returned and restrictions were lifted in August
Dr Stock said: "When pregnant women have Covid they can become seriously unwell, and in order to protect the mother and baby that can lead to pre-term deliveries.
"Pre-term delivery is the biggest driver of neonatal mortality.
"We also know that the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on health services and that could be having an impact."
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: ''Every death is a tragedy, and our thoughts are with everyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one.
''In 2020, Scotland recorded its lowest number of neonatal deaths. As the number of infant deaths is fortunately low, monthly mortality rates tend to fluctuate.
"We are working with PHS, the Scottish National Neonatal Network and the Maternity and Children Quality Improvement Collaborative to understand any possible contributing factors to ensure we continue to improve the care of the smallest and sickest babies in Scotland.''
Covid-19 Breakthrough Hospitalizations Concentrated Among Most Vulnerable - WSJ
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 14:52
A WSJ analysis of new data sharpens picture of who is likely to get serious infections after full vaccination, with age and underlying conditions key factors
Breakthrough cases of Covid-19 are hitting older people and those with underlying health conditions particularly hard, according to a new review of data by The Wall Street Journal that sharpens the picture of who remains at risk despite vaccinations.
State reporting is inconsistent but collectively shows there have been more than 1.89 million cases and at least 72,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths among fully vaccinated people in the U.S. this year, the Journal found.
Breakthrough cases of Covid-19 are hitting older people and those with underlying health conditions particularly hard, according to a new review of data by The Wall Street Journal that sharpens the picture of who remains at risk despite vaccinations.
State reporting is inconsistent but collectively shows there have been more than 1.89 million cases and at least 72,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths among fully vaccinated people in the U.S. this year, the Journal found.
State and federal data broadly show unvaccinated people are primarily driving pandemic numbers. Breakthrough infections, however, are making up a growing portion because of rising numbers of vaccinated people and waning immunity among people who got their shots early on, some states show.
Spotty U.S. data have clouded the view of just how many fully vaccinated people are getting Covid-19, landing in hospitals and dying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't publish a running tally on raw breakthrough numbers. The Journal reviewed medical-record data for a total of more than 21 million fully vaccinated people, and an array of state reports, to compile its analysis. In particular, people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney disease and compromised immune systems were at risk of serious outcomes from breakthrough cases, the data show.
Health agencies generally define fully vaccinated as two weeks beyond a second mRNA vaccine or a single Johnson & Johnson shot.
Tracking breakthroughs is an important part of protecting vulnerable people as the nation shifts to managing Covid-19 for the long term, according to public-health officials. The effort includes stepping up boosters and improving overall vaccine uptake, public-health experts say.
''You have to be humble in the face of Covid,'' said Sharon Balter, director of the division of communicable disease control and prevention for Los Angeles County's public-health department. Her agency reported in August that unvaccinated people were nearly five times more likely to get Covid-19 and about 29 times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated people.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that emergency room visits by vaccinated people age 65 and older were increasing. ''We want to reinforce the importance of people who are eligible getting boosted now,'' Dr. Walensky said.
These people are often vulnerable. Recent data from South Carolina show 79% of people hospitalized with breakthrough infections there had at least one existing health condition, such as diabetes. In the intensive-care unit, where hospitals treat the most severely ill patients, the percentage increased to 88%.
At the Medical University of South Carolina, nearly all fully vaccinated Covid-19 patients in the ICU have weak immune systems from prior health problems, said Andrew Goodwin, the section chief of critical care. The rest are elderly, which can also compromise the body's defense against illness.
Truveta Inc., a firm that aggregates hospitals' medical data for research, found among 1.7 million fully vaccinated people that those with diabetes, chronic lung disease and chronic kidney disease were about twice as likely to be hospitalized for breakthrough cases as vaccinated people without these conditions.
The likelihood of having a breakthrough infection was still low, though confirmed infections were more common for people with these illnesses. About 1.5% of roughly 110,000 people with chronic kidney disease had one, for example. But Truveta found about a quarter of breakthrough patients with chronic kidney disease wound up hospitalized. The likelihood of hospitalizations for people with breakthrough cases but without underlying health problems was about 7.5%.
Breakthrough deaths are hitting older people the hardest, amplifying a well-worn pandemic pattern. Exclusive data the Journal reviewed from the Epic Health Research Network, which analyzes data from the medical-record software company Epic Systems Corp., shows about 80% of breakthrough deaths among the vaccinated are in people ages 65 and older. The data included records for 19.5 million fully vaccinated people. Among all Covid-19 deaths this year, that age group represents closer to 69%, according to the CDC.
The Epic Health Research Network data also point to more severe breakthrough cases in the most vulnerable patients, who were identified using a federal measure of social and economic factors. ''This is magnifying underlying health disparities that we're seeing,'' said Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher Thomas Tsai, co-author of a study that found the most-vulnerable communities had twice the odds of hospitals with ICUs near capacity than the least-vulnerable areas, using the same federal measure.
Data sets differ in how they count Covid-19 hospitalizations. Epic Health Research Network researchers included people with confirmed cases who were admitted to hospitals for Covid-19, while Truveta included Covid-19 positive people who might be hospitalized for other reasons.
The CDC's breakthrough data reflect samples of the population from multiple sources, such as one network that collects data from 250 acute-care hospitals across 14 states and another that uses Department of Veterans Affairs records. The agency's data show higher rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths among the unvaccinated. Detailed reporting on breakthroughs by states is voluntary.
''CDC does not need to have data from all jurisdictions to be able to draw strong conclusions about disease trends,'' the agency said.
The Epic Health Research Network's cumulative data show about 1.2% of fully vaccinated people had a breakthrough case, similar to findings among states that publicize such data. The company also found a tipping point for breakthrough cases at about 20 to 22 weeks after people got their latest shot. Georgia found something similar while measuring the gap between when people became fully vaccinated and tested positive for Covid-19.
The findings seem to reflect factors including when vaccine effectiveness began to wane in many people and the rampant spread of the Delta variant in late summer, said Jackie Gerhart, a physician and vice president of clinical informatics at the Epic Health Research Network. Its data show breakthroughs climbed significantly during the Delta surge.
State officials have stressed that unvaccinated people remain at higher risk. In Vermont, which leads the states with 72% of its population fully vaccinated, unvaccinated people have recently made up roughly 70% of new cases, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said in an interview this month.
Authorities are concerned that vaccinated people are making up a bigger piece of the pie, however, and are urging boosters. On Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear noted that 16% of hospitalizations in that less-vaccinated state have been among fully vaccinated people since March 1. Last month the cumulative figure was 8.4%.
''Look at how these numbers have changed,'' he said. ''This is waning immunity.''
Write to Jon Kamp at email@example.com and Melanie Evans at Melanie.Evans@wsj.com
Kyle Rittenhouse posed with Proud Boys in Wisconsin bar, prosecutors say - The Washington Post
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 14:26
Shortly after pleading not guilty to murder and weapons charges earlier this month, Kyle Rittenhouse showed up at a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wis., clad in a T-shirt that said ''Free as F---,'' prosecutors said. Then the 18-year-old allegedly drank three beers, posed for photos with members of Proud Boys and flashed a ''white power'' hand sign.
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''The defendant's continued association with members of a group that prides itself on violence, and the use of their symbols, raises the significant possibility of future harm,'' prosecutors said in a motion.
The Anti-Defamation League said the "okay" hand sign is now a hate symbol. Here's what you need to know about the evolution of the gesture. (Adriana Usero, Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)An attorney representing Rittenhouse did not immediately return a message from The Washington Post late Wednesday. In court, his attorneys have argued Rittenhouse acted in self-defense in the shootings. The then-17-year-old told police he traveled to Kenosha, armed with a gun he purchased using a coronavirus relief stimulus check, to protect a car dealership and render first aid amid unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
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Far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, have rallied behind Rittenhouse, defending his actions and hailing him as a hero. President Trump refused to condemn the shooting and suggested Rittenhouse may have been defending himself.
Photos of Rittenhouse socializing with Proud Boys at Pudgy's Pub first surfaced on social media last week, the Kenosha News reported. Amid public outrage over the photos, police visited the bar and viewed security footage but determined Rittenhouse had not violated the terms of his bail or broken Wisconsin law, which allows adults under 21 to drink alcohol in bars if accompanied by a parent.
According to court records obtained by The Washington Post, Rittenhouse arrived at Pudgy's Pub with his mother on Jan. 5, about 90 minutes after he pleaded not guilty in a remote court hearing. He had been released from jail in November after posting a $2 million bond, which his former attorney John Pierce said was raised through ''Internet fundraising.'' Prosecutors noted neither Rittenhouse nor his family had to put up any property or money of their own as collateral for his release.
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Inside the bar, prosecutors said, several adults welcomed him and ''loudly serenaded'' the 18-year-old with a rendition of ''Proud of Your Boy,'' a song originally written for Disney's ''Aladdin'' that has in recent years been claimed as an anthem by the Proud Boys.
Then Rittenhouse posed for photos with the men, prosecutors said. Photos filed as evidence by the Kenosha prosecutors show the teenager flashing a hand sign that has been designated as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.
''In these photographs, the defendant and the other adult males flashed the 'OK' sign, which has been co-opted as a sign of 'white power' by known white supremacist groups,'' prosecutors said.
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In the motion filed Wednesday, prosecutors asked that Rittenhouse be banned from associating with members of any ''violent white supremacist groups,'' including the Proud Boys. Prosecutors noted his association with the group ''may serve to intimidate potential witnesses, who may be unwilling to testify in this case because they may fear that the defendant's associates will harm them or their families.''
The photos also showed Rittenhouse drinking beers inside the bar with several adults, including his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, the court filings said.
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Prosecutors asked a judge to restrict Rittenhouse from consuming alcohol as part of his bail conditions.
''The State of Wisconsin prohibits those under the age of 21 from possessing or consuming alcohol (with some limited exceptions) because underage drinkers are not mature enough to handle alcohol responsibly,'' prosecutors said. ''Furthermore, the consumption of alcohol increases the likelihood of violent criminal acts.''
The court has not set a time to consider the request from prosecutors. A final pretrial hearing in his case is scheduled for March 10, and jury selection is set to begin on March 29.
Abstract 10712: Mrna COVID Vaccines Dramatically Increase Endothelial Inflammatory Markers and ACS Risk as Measured by the PULS Cardiac Test: a Warning | Circulation
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 14:26
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, Vascular BiologySession Title: Damps, Infection and Cardiovascular Metabolism
Originally published 8 Nov 2021 Circulation. 2021;144:A10712
Our group has been using the PLUS Cardiac Test (GD Biosciences, Inc, Irvine, CA) a clinically validated measurement of multiple protein biomarkers which generates a score predicting the 5 yr risk (percentage chance) of a new Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS). The score is based on changes from the norm of multiple protein biomarkers including IL-16, a proinflammatory cytokine, soluble Fas, an inducer of apoptosis, and Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF)which serves as a marker for chemotaxis of T-cells into epithelium and cardiac tissue, among other markers. Elevation above the norm increases the PULS score, while decreases below the norm lowers the PULS score.The score has been measured every 3-6 months in our patient population for 8 years. Recently, with the advent of the mRNA COVID 19 vaccines (vac) by Moderna and Pfizer, dramatic changes in the PULS score became apparent in most patients.This report summarizes those results. A total of 566 pts, aged 28 to 97, M:F ratio 1:1 seen in a preventive cardiology practice had a new PULS test drawn from 2 to 10 weeks following the 2nd COVID shot and was compared to the previous PULS score drawn 3 to 5 months previously pre- shot. Baseline IL-16 increased from 35=/-20 above the norm to 82 =/- 75 above the norm post-vac; sFas increased from 22+/- 15 above the norm to 46=/-24 above the norm post-vac; HGF increased from 42+/-12 above the norm to 86+/-31 above the norm post-vac. These changes resulted in an increase of the PULS score from 11% 5 yr ACS risk to 25% 5 yr ACS risk. At the time of this report, these changes persist for at least 2.5 months post second dose of vac.We conclude that the mRNA vacs dramatically increase inflammation on the endothelium and T cell infiltration of cardiac muscle and may account for the observations of increased thrombosis, cardiomyopathy, and other vascular events following vaccination.
FootnotesAuthor Disclosures: For author disclosure information, please visit the AHA Scientific Sessions 2021 Online Program Planner and search for the abstract title.
Balloon Juice - Sunday Afternoon Open Thread: Goldbricking NFTs
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 13:41
Just moved 3 cans of Peace Iced Tea from the top to the middle rack in my fridge. I sold $2.99 worth of beverages today. Never stop grinding
'-- Baseball Boy #1 (@LizRummy) October 14, 2021
But it's not just self-delusion (or money laundering) '-- there's also scamming the (other) marks! Best explanation of this I've seen so far:
How to scam people with NTFS and how the IRS is going to ruin it: a beginners guide
'-- foone (@Foone) November 8, 2021
Extracts from the longer thread:
Step 1: you draw or have an algorithm create 100 images. You pay to have these coolminted into NTFS. They are, of course, not very valuable and you'd be unlikely to make money selling them. What a shame.
Step 2: you take out a loan and go to Bob. You say ''Can you buy this NTFS for me? You don't need to pay for it, I'm gonna hand you 5100$ and you just turn it into ethernet points and buy it. It's worth 5000$ so I'll let you keep the extra 100$''
Bob, of course, agrees.
So Bob buys your NTFS and you get 5000$ back (minus some overhead) , which you turn back into cash, which is of course outside of the EthernetPoints ecosystem.
You now go to Alice, and make her the same offer, but on a different NTFS in your batch. You up it to 6000$ this time. She buys it, you get the money, and all that was lost was some overhead fees and some payment to Alice to do this.
So after doing this for a while, you approach Mark and say ''hey look, I'm making these NTFS things and I've only got one left. If you look at how much they've sold for, it's 5000-10000$, and prices are going up. You can resell them anytime to get your money back.''
But for you, I'll give you a discount. You can have this mspaint squiggle for only 4000$. A bargain!
Mark isn't sure. This doesn't look like something that's valuable.
But you can point mark at the transaction history, perfectly preserved in the borkchan: you NTFSes have sold for 5000$ each, 10000$ each, resold for even more!
You've got a ''market cap'' of 5 million dollars!
Because what the borkchan doesn't know (and can't know) , is that you used the same money over and over again to purchase EthernetPoints, transfer it around, then cash it back out'...
This is an old type of scam, usually called a ''gold brick scam'', where the mark is sold something they think is valuable, but turns out not to be. Often you have someone pretending to be an expert, who helps convince the mark that it's valuable'...
And here is how the IRS is going to hopefully stop this:They're going to require reporting of these transactions. They're going to de-anonymize the big cash transactions, and what's worse, they're going to consider these things investments and tax you on them.
And now, you have a bunch of worthless NTFS that you were going to scam people with, and the IRS is going to say ''because that's something you could convert into cash, it's a taxable investment. And clearly it's worth 10,000$ as you say, because we can see the transactions too''
And you're going to pay taxes on it like it's actually worth the inflated amount you were claiming it was worth.
And this is going to destroy the profit potential in this scam, at least in the US. And while you could try to structure it so that all your transactions happen outside the US, I wouldn't try it. The IRS can see all of them, they're public on the borkchan'...
And as good as it is that the NTFS scam is hopefully about to mostly die, I don't think the new IRS rules will come into effect until 2023, so expect the NTFS shills to get fever pitched in the coming months.
'-- foone (@Foone) November 8, 2021
It's a pig in a poke scam except instead of a cat, you're getting asbestos.And you will not be entitled to compensation when you get mesothelioma.
'-- foone (@Foone) November 8, 2021
BTW, I am intentionally misspelling the name of the non tungable fokens. There are bots and people who keyword search, and I also want to pay them all due respect, specifically, none.
'-- foone (@Foone) November 8, 2021