1404: Flub Meister

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 13m
December 2nd, 2021
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Executive Producers: Joe Weil, Sir Mike of Axe Head Watchmakers, Liberator of Michigans 9th Congressional District, Sir Realist of the Muddle, Jon Nunley, Lady Mountain Jay, Chap Williams

Associate Executive Producers: LanVy Nguyen, Sir Sean, Black Knight of the Dudes Named Ben, Joseph Salahshour

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

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Start of Show
Woodstock
19:26
Suggested chapter: Dr. Collin. Shapeshifts to boost up harmless variant
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22:54
Suggested chapter: Tuning up, retool, get boosted: other meaning in gangster street talk
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24:21
Suggested chapter: Moderna data integrety
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25:48
Suggested chapter: Meta data solution software company founded bij DeVries who died mysteriously
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30:11
Suggested chapter: Vaccins have only ‘emergency use authorisation’ if there is no treatment. Ivermectin
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40:00
Suggested chapter: Hitler, Hitler, Hitler!
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40:45
Suggested chapter: Eindhoven public speakers dutch accent
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59:22
Suggested chapter: Travelicious family trucks around Africa and reports covid not there
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1:00:01
Suggested chapter: Wouter van Diepen on insta travelicious family
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1:02:33
Suggested chapter: Guadaloupe Martinique. after violent mandate protests: gained more autonomy
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1:05:21
Suggested chapter: Samsung builds vaccine passport built in phone
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1:05:33
Suggested chapter: The commins project non profit funded by rockefeller
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1:07:36
Suggested chapter: 3x3
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1:13:59
Suggested chapter: Alec Baldwin shooting accident. Weird voice and music commercial.
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1:18:44
Suggested chapter: Troll count
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1:51:29
Suggested chapter: End of 1st donation segment
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1:59:11
Suggested chapter: Financial report from SCI: Profits increased from funerals, excess deaths
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2:11:57
Suggested chapter: Missisippi abortion ‘my body my choice’.... change words for vax
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2:16:15
Suggested chapter: Ghislaine Maxwell trial update: FAA "accidentally" releases 700 Epstein flights
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2:24:02
Suggested chapter: 3 staffers left vice presidents. Conspiracy prediction about Clinton
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2:31:33
Suggested chapter: dr Oz nations favorite docter turns republican
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2:31:48
Suggested chapter: Dr Oz favorite tv docter now runs for US senate says Washington was wrong to take our freedom
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2:57:42
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3:09:17
Suggested chapter: Omicron song
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Moderna Trial Data Questions
God Save The Queen
China
China to take over Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport for default on debt repayment.
China has rejected Uganda's request to re-negotiate toxic clauses in the $200m loan picked six years ago for the Airport expansion.
The Airport is the only Intl Airport in the country.
OTG
FBI can Access WhatsApp & iMessage Data in REAL TIME
An unclassified document shows the FBI can harvest data legally and with relative ease from private WhatsApp and iMessage chats. The details were first revealed in January and apparently swept under the rug until a Rolling Stones reveal this week.
It suggests that Big Tech even helps the FBI snoop further if required.
WhatsApp produces metadata including contact lists, message time and identities fresh every 15 mins - if handed a surveillance request by law enforcement - while Apple declined to implement end-to-end encryption after agencies pressured them... as it would interfere with surveillance.
Telegram has you nice and safe though! The platform legally only has to provide your registration date - the least amount of data compared to all other major messaging apps.
Omicron
delta omicron = media control
Africa BOTG Report
Hi There mister Curry,
Here a boots on the ground report from Africa. I am a big time fan (&Ducebag) and listener from your show. We are a permanent traveling family with my wife and 3 kids of 1,3,5 years. While driving my wife does her things on insta@thetraveliciousfamily and I am listening to you show! Last 2 years traveling was challenging but of course there are always countries open. Last year we were in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia with a overlander truck and after visiting Iceland / Costa Rica / Curacao we are back in East Africa. Right now we are traveling through Tanzania, Kenia, Uganda and are now heading to Rwanda in a overlander truck.
I know Africa pretty good and I can tell you they are not busy with Corona at all. The Omnicron thing is not in the news here and nobody is really bothered about it, also because compared to malaria,Denge and Yellow fever it’s not really lethal.
For a unjabbed and pretty skeptical corona person Tanzania was the best country. There where no mask at all nor vaccine mandates, nobody is talking about it. We visited a hospital for our son and the doctors didn’t have mask or gloves and just shaked your hand! Really surreal but also really relaxed!
Keep up the good work
And if colleague know how to pronounce my name right I will donate right away!!!
Wouter van Diepen
thetraveliciousfamily
Is Aladdin running the Omicron volatility?
Fauci's Tongue
CIA knows this means 'bullshit' - spitting out the lie
VAERS
Mandates
No Vax, No Medical Care
Hey Adam,
My sister sent me a disturbing text yesterday. Her newborn had scratched
her eye, so she called her town’s eye doctor and she explained what
happened, so they told her that she could come in right away and to make
sure she brings her vaccination card. So she said, oh, I’m not vaccinated,
and their response was, “the doctor is only seeing vaccinated patients.” We
live in CT, which of course is a liberal state, but it’s just scary. What’s
worse is, my sister has already had COVID, so she probably has natural
immunity. It’s really sad that doctors aren’t looking at the science, but
rather letting the fear get to them.
Thanks for providing us with an awesome show week after week! You and John
are the best.
- Robin
80 House Republicans Help Pass Bill to Fund Federal Vax Database
According to the bill, also called H. R. 550, the government would provide $400 million in taxpayer dollars to fund “immunization system data modernization and expansion,” a system otherwise defined as “a confidential, population-based, computerized database that records immunization doses administered by any health care provider to persons within the geographic area covered by that database.”
The text specifically outlines an expansion of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Department capabilities and the ability for state and local health departments, as well as public and private health care providers, to share health data with the federal government.
In a statement, the bill’s main sponsor, Democrat Rep. Ann Kuster (NH), said the system would be used to “remind patients when they are due for a recommended vaccine” and identify areas with low vaccination rates to “ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.” Notably, the bill has four Republican co-sponsors: Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), James Baird (R-IN), David McKinley (R-WV), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Not one Democrat voted in opposition to the bill.
Lockdowns
Dutch Cost-Benefit Analysis Done During Lockdown Concluded, “The Costs Are Disproportionately High” – The Daily Sceptic
According to Dutch newspaper Het Parool, documents obtained via freedom of information request show that the Ministry of Economic Affairs carried out a cost-benefit analysis in March/April of 2020. (Hat tip to Michael Senger for bringing the Dutch newspaper article to my attention.)
The FOI request was apparently made by a 66 year old lockdown sceptic by the name of Jan van der Zanden, who just assumed the Ministry of Economic Affairs would have tried to gauge the costs and benefits.
What did the Ministry conclude? In short, that the costs of lockdown far outweighed the benefits.
They assumed that one year of lockdown would prevent the loss of about 100,000 QALYs (quality-adjusted life years). And they attached a value of €80,000 to each QALY, which is the typical upper limit applied in analyses of this kind. Hence the expected benefits of lockdown were €8 billion.
As to costs, they projected an economic contraction of €40 billion, a loss of €25 billion due to the cessation of regular healthcare, plus a loss of €5 billion due to the “psychological consequences” of lockdown. Total expected costs were therefore €70 billion – almost nine times greater than the benefits.
Pfizer Marketing
The New Six Week Cycle
War Game
Color Revolutions
BBB
Climate Change
Opioids
War on Food
Meat Cutter Mitch Answers
John you are mostly correct!
Chuck and other large muscle groups have numerous cut options. For
starters, we do not bill by the hour...we bill by the POUND. Thus, we
technically make less on a more complex cut. That said, if you order a side
of beef/hog from a producer make sure you call in your order to the
producer...I am dumbfounded how many people lazily receive a standard cut
which is easiest for us.
Within chuck, I know of the flat iron steak, Denver steaks, Terras Major
(fake filet mignon), and our personal favorite...the chuckeye steak. Always
always ask for chuckeye steaks as the are the few inches before the
official ribeye steak and get ground (or traded out by your hungry cutter).
This is another well kept secret. Many of the deli cuts sold up front such
as brisket and sirloin come from our idiot customers who can't do math. We
trade eighty percent USDA ground beef pound for pound for USDA cuts that
customers don't want. This means you're paying say brisket or sirloin price
for fattier ground beef. I've even seen people grind quality marbled ribeye
and new York strip...
Meat is Good for you,
Mitch
Michigan School Shooting
Why are there never shootings in home schooling groups?
Michigan Shooting was possibly planned
I am sure you are both well aware of the school shooting on Tuesday in Oxford Michigan. Twitter being the place it is had things posted by the kids from the
shooters social media accounts that were all troublesome.
This is a link to tweets containing post from his since deleted social media account that were supposedly reported to the school before the shooting happened,
including a countdown clock to the time he was going to start shooting.
https://twitter.com/PoliticsForAlI/status/1465952619822788610?s=20
A lot of students refused to go to school that day because they had saw the postings or had heard about them. Here is a mom being interviewed talking about her
son's refusal to go to school that day
https://twitter.com/thetnholler/status/1465780040344518666?s=21
This is another interview that I would have clipped but the whole context of it kind of matters. It's a mom and her son talking about him not going to school that
day, other online threats. Supposedly the shooter's parents where in the school before the shooting for a meeting with school officials. Nothing has been said at
to why they had the meeting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1wSbquXyiM
This video is of the shooter trying to act like a cop to get in to a locked classroom. The kids don't fall for it
https://twitter.com/zuzanryan/status/1465836778972233729?s=20
Here is a time coded video of the country sheriff that infers the kids were lying about reporting the incident. Goes for about 10 or 20 seconds about that.
https://youtu.be/SaXBDnkrI_Q?t=1004
And here is our "wonderful" Governor's video she put out in response to the shooting that she calls a "gun violence public health crisis". She is just "super"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLyc45uDEAk
Sorry for the long read, but thought I'd pass along multiple things to cover some bases
As always thanks for the show and all the great work.
SirNetNed
Epstein
BLM LGBBTQQIAAPK+ Noodle Boy
Smith Mundt?
STORIES
Buttigieg: Families who buy electric vehicles 'never have to worry about gas prices again' | TheHill
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 15:53
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Pete ButtigiegFeehery: Why Democrats are now historically unpopular Harris, Buttigieg to promote infrastructure law in Charlotte 'Fox & Friends Weekend' hosts suggest new variant meant to distract from Biden's struggles MORE stressed in a new interview that families who buy electric vehicles (EVs) "never have to worry about gas prices again."
While speaking on MSNBC's "The Sunday Show With Jonathan Capehart," Buttigieg noted that Democrats' proposed social spending package includes incentives to make it more affordable to buy an electric vehicle.
Buttigieg said that families would essentially have a "$12,500 discount" in transportation costs, adding that "families who own that vehicle will never have to worry about gas prices again."
"The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV are often rural residents who have the most distances to drive, who burn the most gas, and underserved urban residents in areas where there are higher gas prices and lower income," Buttigieg said.
"They would gain the most by having that vehicle. These are the very residents who have not always been connected to electric vehicles that are viewed as kind of a luxury item," he added.
"If we can make the electric vehicle less expensive for everybody, more people can take advantage, and we'll be selling more American-made EVs, which means in time they'll become less expensive to make and to buy for everybody," Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg's comments come after the Department of Energy announced last week that it would release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to control rising gas prices.
Recent polls have shown that the Transportation secretary has high favorability and name recognition amid speculation he may once again make a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024.
The Democrats' spending package, the Build Back Better Act, recently passed the House and is expected to be taken up in the Senate soon.
Covid News: Pfizer to Seek Approval for Boosters for 16- and 17-Year-Olds - The New York Times
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 15:50
Image Keidy Ventura, 17, received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in West New York, N.J., in April. Credit... Seth Wenig/Associated Press Pfizer and BioNTech are expected this week to apply for regulatory approval for a booster shot of their coronavirus vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds, according to people familiar with the company's plans. If approved, the shot would be the first booster available to people under 18.
The Food and Drug Administration could authorize extra shots within roughly a week, the people said.
The move would come as President Biden seeks to reassure the nation about Omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus. On Monday, he called the variant ''a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.''
''I'm sparing no effort, removing all roadblocks to keep the American people safe,'' Mr. Biden said at the White House.
The news of Pfizer's plans was first reported by The Washington Post.
The new variant has yet to be detected in the United States, and scientists have not determined how much of a threat it will pose. Vaccine manufacturers are racing to figure out whether their existing products will work against it or whether modified vaccines will be required.
About 10 days ago, federal health agencies authorized booster shots of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for everyone 18 and older. That opened up eligibility for extra injections to tens of millions more fully vaccinated adults. All adults who were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a single shot, were already eligible for a booster.
Last month's regulatory moves simplified eligibility and formally allowed a practice already in place in numerous states. Multiple governors had already offered boosters to everyone 18 and older ahead of the holidays.
Asked about the plan to request broader access, a Pfizer spokeswoman said the company would provide an update when available.
'-- Sharon LaFraniere
Image The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and booster shots were administered in Rosemead, Calif., on Sunday. Credit... Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Prompted by growing concerns about the Omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday said that all American adults ''should'' get booster doses of the available coronavirus vaccines.
Adults aged 18 and older should get a booster shot when they are six months past the initial immunization with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two months after the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the agency said.
The C.D.C. had previously said that Americans over age 50, as well as those ages 18 and older living in long-term care facilities, ''should'' get booster shots while all other adults ''may'' decide to do so based on their individual risk.The shift in language signals a growing concern about Omicron, despite the limited information available about the variant.
Scientists do not yet know whether vaccines will continue to protect people from Omicron. The variant contains many mutations that suggest the shots may be less effective against Omicron than against other variants, though evidence to support those fears has yet to be established.
Dozens of labs worldwide are now trying to assess exactly how much less effective the vaccines might be. They are not expected to have results for at least two weeks.
''Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant,'' Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the C.D.C., said in a statement.
''I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well.''
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna plan to test whether booster shots of their vaccines will bolster the immune system enough to fend off the new variant. The boosters have been shown to raise antibody levels significantly. Those antibodies may not be able to neutralize Omicron entirely, but having more antibodies is generally beneficial, experts have said.
Dr. Walensky also urged Americans to get tested for the virus if they develop symptoms, and to practice prevention strategies known to limit transmission of the virus.
In just the week after it was first detected, the Omicron variant has been spotted in at least 16 countries. The variant has about 50 mutations, including more than 30 in the spike, a viral protein on its surface that the vaccines train the body to recognize and attack.
'-- Apoorva Mandavilli
Videotranscript
transcript
Biden Urges Vaccinations Amid Omicron Variant ConcernsPresident Biden called the new Omicron coronavirus variant ''a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,'' and urged Americans to get vaccinations and booster shots. The variant has not yet been detected in the United States.The very day the World Health Organization identified the new variant, I took immediate steps to restrict travel from countries in Southern Africa. But while we have that travel restrictions can slow the speed of Omicron, it cannot prevent it. But here's what it does. It gives us time, gives us time to take more actions, to move quicker, to make sure people understand you have to get your vaccine. You have to get the shot. You have to get the booster. The '-- sooner or later, we're going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States. We'll have to face this new threat just as we faced those that come before it. This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic. We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists, and we're learning more every single day. And we'll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion. In the event '-- hopefully unlikely '-- that updated vaccinations or boosters are needed to respond to this new variant, we will accelerate their development and deployment with every available tool. I want to reiterate: Dr. Fauci believes that the current vaccines provide at least some protection against the new variant and the boosters strengthen that protection, significantly. We do not yet believe that additional measures will be needed, but so that we are prepared if needed, my team is already working with officials at Pfizer and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters if needed.
President Biden called the new Omicron coronavirus variant ''a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,'' and urged Americans to get vaccinations and booster shots. The variant has not yet been detected in the United States. Credit Credit... Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times President Biden sought to reassure the nation on Monday about the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus as crucial questions about it remain, telling Americans that the variant is ''a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,'' and that his administration was working with vaccine manufacturers to modify vaccines and booster shots should that prove necessary.
''We're throwing everything we have at this virus, tracking it from every angle,'' Mr. Biden said at the White House, adding, ''I'm sparing no effort, removing all roadblocks to keep the American people safe.''
The president is expected to visit the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, and said he would outline ''a strategy for how we are going to fight Covid this winter, not with shutdowns or with lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more.'' The variant has yet to be detected in the United States.
Mr. Biden has already restricted travel from eight nations, including South Africa, a move that experts said would buy the United States time in determining how to respond. But it will likely be a week, possibly two weeks, before experts know more about the new variant. It has mutations that scientists fear could make it more infectious and less susceptible to vaccines, though evidence to support those fears has yet to be established.
Despite significant questions about the variant itself '-- including whether it causes mild or severe disease '-- countries around the world have rushed to defend against its spread, with a cascade of border closures and travel restrictions that recalled the earliest days of the pandemic.
Mr. Biden was elected on a promise to bring the pandemic under control '-- a task that is proving easier said than done. Viruses are dedicated to ensuring their own survival, and that is especially true of the virus that causes Covid-19. Just as Mr. Biden was about to declare ''independence from the virus'' on the July 4 holiday, the Delta variant swept across the United States, causing another wave of hospitalizations and deaths.
Now there is Omicron, discovered in southern Africa and designated by the World Health Organization on Friday as a ''variant of concern,'' popping up just as the holiday travel season gets underway.
Mr. Biden is trying to project calm and keep the country from panicking while also ensuring that Americans get vaccinated and take other precautions, including masking and social distancing. He was joined at the White House by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, who said that current P.C.R. tests were able to detect the new variant.
The emergence of the new variant is also increasing pressure on Mr. Biden and his administration to do more to share vaccines with the rest of the world.
South Africa, whose scientists detected the variant, has fully vaccinated only 24 percent of its population, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. It has a better vaccination rate than most countries on the continent, but has asked vaccine makers to stop sending doses: It is having trouble getting shots into arms, in part because of distribution bottlenecks and in part because many people are hesitant to take them.
Elsewhere in Africa, the vaccination rate is much lower, and in some countries, even health care workers have had trouble getting their shots. The W.H.O. reported last week that just 27 percent of health workers in Africa had been fully vaccinated.
The Biden administration has pledged to donate more than a billion vaccine doses to other nations, and so far it has shipped 275 million doses to 110 countries. The president said, as he has in the past, that the United States has donated more doses than any other nation. He implored other foreign leaders to increase their donations.
''Now we need the rest of the world to step as well,'' he said.
But activists and some global health experts said the administration needed to move faster, arguing that vaccine inequities were the reason for the emergence of the variant.
''This is precisely what experts have been predicting was going to happen '-- that the extraordinary inequities and gaps between low-income countries and high-income countries creates this massive vulnerability, and it's going to continue to generate these dangerous variants,'' said J. Stephen Morrison, a global health expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. ''That point is glaringly obvious, and it's painful.''
Mr. Biden's top health advisers, including Dr. Fauci, spent much of the holiday weekend consulting with their South African counterparts.
Dr. Fauci told the president that it would take approximately two weeks to learn more about the variant's transmissibility and severity, but that ''he continues to believe that existing vaccines are likely to provide a degree of protection against severe cases'' of Covid, according to a statement from the White House.
Alexandra E. Petri contributed reporting.
'-- Sheryl Gay Stolberg
Image A registered nurse led a rally outside MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center in August to protest coronavirus vaccine mandates. Credit... Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register, via Associated Press A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked the Biden administration's coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers in the 10 states that had filed a lawsuit against the government this month.
The mandate requires all 17 million health care workers in Medicare- and Medicaid-certified medical facilities, which receive government funding, to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Jan. 4.
The injunction, issued by Judge Matthew Schelp of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, prevents the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from enforcing the mandate while the case is in court.
The judge said in his ruling that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of the case in part because Congress had not granted the agency authority to issue a vaccine mandate.
''C.M.S. seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans,'' wrote Judge Schelp, who was nominated by President Donald J. Trump. ''Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism.''
The lawsuit was filed by the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It said that by prompting health care workers to leave their jobs if they did not want to get vaccinated, the mandate could ''exacerbate an alarming shortage of health care workers, particularly in rural communities, that has already reached a boiling point.''
Judge Schelp's ruling is the second setback this month for the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.
A three-judge panel in New Orleans affirmed a federal appeals court's decision to temporarily block a requirement that companies with at least 100 employees test their unvaccinated workers weekly beginning in January. The judges said the mere existence of the regulation had resulted in ''untold economic upheaval in recent months.''
''The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions,'' wrote Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, a Trump appointee.
'-- Giulia Heyward
Videotranscript
transcript
Omicron Demonstrates Need for Global Covid Response, W.H.O. SaysDr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said the new Omicron coronavirus variant underlined a need for better global pandemic cooperation, and that the current system ''disincentives'' countries from alerting new threats.If there is one thing we have learned, it's that no region, no country, no community and no individual is safe until we are all safe. The emergence of the highly mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is. South Africa and Botswana should be thanked for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant, not penalized. Indeed, Omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics. Our current system disincentives countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores. We don't yet know whether Omicron is associated with more transmission, more severe disease, more risk of reinfections or more risk of evading vaccines. Scientists at W.H.O. and around the world are working urgently to answer these questions.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said the new Omicron coronavirus variant underlined a need for better global pandemic cooperation, and that the current system ''disincentives'' countries from alerting new threats. Credit Credit... James Gourley/EPA, via Shutterstock The World Health Organization warned on Monday that the global risk posed by the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus was ''very high.'' And despite significant questions about the variant's possible effects, countries around the world rushed to defend against its spread, with a cascade of border closures and travel restrictions that recalled the earliest days of the pandemic.
Scotland, Portugal and Spain identified new cases of the highly mutated variant with officials in eastern Germany reporting an Omicron infection in a 39-year-old infected man who had not been to South Africa or anywhere outside of Germany.
More countries responded by restricting travel, with Japan joining Israel and Morocco in banning all foreign visitors, even as scientists cautioned that the extent of the threat posed by Omicron remained unknown '-- and as the patchwork of travel measures were so far proving unable to stop its spread.
In a technical briefing note to member countries, the W.H.O. urged national authorities to step up surveillance, testing and vaccinations, reinforcing the key findings that led its technical advisers on Friday to label Omicron a ''variant of concern.''
The agency warned that the variant's ''high number of mutations'' '-- including up to 32 variations in the spike protein '-- meant that ''there could be future surges of Covid-19, which could have severe consequences.''
Experts including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a top adviser to President Biden, have said that it could be two weeks or longer before more information about the variant's transmissibility, and the severity of illness it causes, is available. So far, scientists believe that Omicron's mutations could allow it to spread more easily than prior versions of the virus, but that existing vaccines are likely to offer protection from severe illness and death.
Still, the makers of the two most effective vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, were preparing to reformulate their shots if necessary. And some countries, including Britain, were preparing to expand booster programs to protect more people.
The W.H.O. stressed the need for countries to accelerate vaccinations as rapidly as possible, particularly for vulnerable populations and for those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. It also called on health authorities to strengthen surveillance and field investigations, including community testing, to better determine Omicron's characteristics.
The recommendation underscored that the steps taken by some countries to wind down testing and tracing capacity in recent months '-- as the pandemic appeared to be receding thanks to rising vaccination rates '-- are moving in the wrong direction.
''Testing and tracing remains fundamental to managing this pandemic and really understanding what you're dealing with,'' said Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the agency. ''We're asking all countries to really look for this variant, to look if people who have got it are ending up in hospital and if people who are fully vaccinated are ending up in hospital.''
The briefing note adds that P.C.R. tests are an efficient tool for detecting the new variant because they do not require as long a wait for an outcome as genetic sequencing tests that require laboratory capacity not available in all countries.
''It's very good news,'' Ms. Harris said. ''You can much more quickly spot who's got it.''
But while the agency had previously cautioned against imposing travel bans, the briefing note took a more flexible line, calling for a ''risk-based approach'' to travel restrictions that could include modified testing and quarantine requirements. The agency said it would issue more detailed travel advice in the coming days.
At the same time, W.H.O. member states were beginning a three-day meeting of the World Health Assembly to discuss a global agreement on how to deal with pandemics, a deal long pushed by the agency to address weaknesses in the response to Covid-19. The European Union has argued for a treaty that would require greater information sharing and vaccine equity, but the United States has sought to keep open the option of an agreement that would not be legally binding.
'-- Nick Cumming-Bruce
Image Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma in February. Earlier this month Mr. Stitt asked that guardsmen in the state not be required to get vaccinated. Credit... Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press The Defense Department has rejected an attempt by the governor of Oklahoma to exclude the state's National Guard from a federal vaccine mandate.
On Monday Lloyd J. Austin III, the secretary of Defense, sent a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt that said the troops must comply with the requirement for all service branches.
The letter, which was widely expected, sets the stage for Guardmembers in the state to lose their jobs should they refuse.
''One could elect not to take the vaccine, of course,'' John Kirby, a spokesman for Mr. Austin, said on Monday, ''but then you would be putting at jeopardy your ability to stay in the National Guard.''
Earlier this month, the newly appointed head of the National Guard in Oklahoma said that troops would not be required to get vaccinated. The policy defies a Pentagon directive that makes vaccination mandatory for all troops, including the National Guard, by deadlines set by each service branch.
Mr. Kirby said that Guardmembers who refuse to get the shots will be ''denied training opportunities,'' and potentially ''that would then lead to no longer being able to serve in the National Guard.'' Guard troops are under the authority of the governor unless federally deployed, but Pentagon officials insist that does not obviate the federal vaccine requirement.
In Oklahoma, 89 percent of airmen in the Guard have been vaccinated, while only 40 percent of Army guardsmen have had shots.
Roughly 97 percent of the 1.3 million active-duty service members in the United States have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
''The secretary reiterated that he wants them to keep that press up to get as many people vaccinated as possible,'' Mr. Kirby said, describing a meeting Mr. Austin had with all the service secretaries.
'-- Jennifer Steinhauer
Image A technician works in a laboratory at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in Durban, South Africa. Credit... Joao Silva/The New York Times The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has alarmed many scientists because of the sheer number of genetic mutations it carries '-- about 50 in all, including at least 26 that are unique to it. But more does not necessarily mean worse: Mutations sometimes work together to make a virus more fearsome, but they may also cancel one another out.
''In principle, mutations can also work against each other,'' said Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. ''However, in this case evolutionary selection is more likely to lead to the spread of a new variant with favorable than unfavorable combinations of mutations.''
Still, this phenomenon, called epistasis, is why scientists are reluctant to speculate on Omicron's attributes, even though individual mutations in the variant are associated with greater transmissibility or with an ability to dodge the body's immune defenses.
''It is important to get a sense of the full virus,'' said Penny Moore, a virologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa.
Dr. Moore's team is among dozens worldwide trying to understand whether current vaccines will work against Omicron. The researchers are creating artificial versions of the virus that contain all of Omicron's mutations, rather than making judgments based on a subset of mutations.
It's a lesson researchers learned last year, when the Beta variant emerged in South Africa. They estimated that variant's ability to evade immunity based on one particular mutation, E484K. But Beta also had two other mutations that turned out to affect sensitivity to vaccines.
''The combination of those three mutations was more resistance than a virus that contained only E484K,'' Dr. Moore said. Studying the single mutation ''turned out to be misleading.''
Omicron carries a mutation called N501Y, which is thought to allow the virus to bind to human cells more tightly. This mutation was also present in the Alpha variant and was linked to its contagiousness.
''Nonetheless, it ended up being Delta, which doesn't have that particular mutation, that was more even more transmissible than Alpha,'' Dr. Bloom said. ''That's because Delta had other mutations that enhance transmissibility.''
A variant's contagiousness depends on how well the virus binds to receptors on human cells, but also on the stability of the virus, where in the airways it replicates and how much of it is exhaled.
Omicron has a cluster of mutations that are all linked to tighter binding to human cells. ''But acting together, they might have a somewhat different effect,'' Dr. Bloom said. For that reason, he added, he cannot predict how the variant will act in the body.
That will require laboratory studies, which are underway across the globe.
'-- Apoorva Mandavilli
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South African Scientists Advise Against Panic Over Omicron VariantSouth African health officials said that while they need more data to be sure, existing precautions and treatments seem to be effective against the new coronavirus variant.''There is just no basis for some of the leaders of countries which have imposed these restrictions on traveling for us in South Africa, and other countries in southern Africa. There is no basis for South Africans to panic. We've been here before. We still have to understand, led by our scientists, such as the transmissibility of this virus, those that matter which our scientists and epidemiologists are working on, whether there's any age differentiation in terms of its transmissibility and illness, whether there is increased reinfection for those who have already been infected before, and including also breakthrough infections for those who are those of us who are already vaccinated.'' ''In terms of clinical presentation, there's not enough data yet. We've seen some anecdotal information. We've seen clinicians commenting, but you have to understand that patients coming into a clinical setting are biased in terms of their severity, and what we are seeing. What we are seeing is anecdotal information suggest similar presenting illnesses, mainly in younger people for obvious reasons, and that younger people are less vaccinated. So you will see more cases there. But we simply do not have, you know, sound reliable data on the clinical presentation, but we have no red flags that have been raised, so far.''
South African health officials said that while they need more data to be sure, existing precautions and treatments seem to be effective against the new coronavirus variant. Credit Credit... Jerome Delay/Associated Press South African health officials urged the public on Monday not to panic over the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which appears to be driving a new wave of cases in the country.
It is still too soon, they said, to make solid assessments of whether Omicron has a higher rate of transmission or will cause more hospitalizations or severe illness.
''We simply do not have sound, reliable data on the clinical presentation,'' said Salim Abdool Karim, a leading epidemiologist and H.I.V./AIDS researcher who is part of the country's public health response to the coronavirus pandemic. ''But we have no red flags that have been raised so far.''
Scientists are racing to understand the effect of the cluster of mutations seen in the Omicron variant. Still, comparing its mutations with those of other ''variants of concern'' identified by the World Health Organization suggests that Omicron can be expected to have enhanced transmissibility and some level of immune escape, Mr. Karim said.
7''day average
3,797
Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.
The concern in South Africa was prompted in part by a sudden increase in the country's test positivity rate, which rose to nearly 10 percent from 1 percent, according to data released by South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
The increase largely stems from cases in Gauteng Province, a densely populated economic hub that is home to Johannesburg, said Michelle Groome, head of public health surveillance and response at the institute. But based on the data, the number of new recorded cases is still lower in South Africa, relative to its population, than in many European countries.
The country's administrative capital, Pretoria, where 219 people are hospitalized with Covid, is at the center of the new wave, according to data from the institute. But scientists do not yet know how many of these hospitalizations were a direct result of Omicron.
While new hospital admissions are still relatively low, there has been a ''steep rise'' over the past two weeks, said Waasila Jassat, a public health specialist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
The rate of fatalities has not increased, Ms. Jassat said. While new cases were highest among people under 35, hospitalizations were more common among people over 65 and very young children.
Existing coronavirus treatments seemed to be effective against Omicron, Mr. Karim said, though there was not enough data yet on the efficacy of monoclonal antibodies, which are rarely used to treat Covid-19 in South Africa.
It is also still too early to know whether the potency of the variant warrants tightened precautions like travel bans, scientists said.
In a separate briefing on Sunday, Botswana's health minister, Edwin Dikoloti, said that most of the 19 Omicron cases that have been detected in his country were ''imported,'' and that the first four were diplomats who had already left the country.
He criticized early references to Omicron as the ''Botswana variant,'' saying that ''detection was treated as origination.''
Mr. Dikoloti said that new coronavirus cases had been declining in Botswana, and that ''the emergence of this variant'' threatened ''to reverse all gains that we have made over the months.''
'-- Lynsey Chutel
Image Justice Stephen G. Breyer did not refer the case to the full Supreme Court. Credit... Erin Schaff/The New York Times Justice Stephen G. Breyer turned away an emergency application on Monday from workers at a hospital chain in Massachusetts who objected to its requirement that they be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Justice Breyer did not ask for a response to the application or refer it to the full Supreme Court, and he gave no reasons for his ruling. Those were all signs that he viewed the legal question in the case as insubstantial.
The plaintiffs, employees of Mass General Brigham, objected to the hospital chain's decision not to grant them religious or medical exemptions to the vaccine mandate, saying that the decision violated federal anti-discrimination laws. They sought an injunction that would allow them to continue to work.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Boston, unanimously rejected the workers' request, saying that an injunction was not the proper remedy. If the workers were right, the court said, they would receive compensation at the conclusion of their lawsuit.
''Money damages would adequately resolve all of the alleged harms,'' Judge Sandra L. Lynch wrote for the panel. ''Moreover, as the deadline for being vaccinated has passed, the appellants cannot point to an 'impossible choice' as a special factor here; they have already made their choices.''
The Supreme Court has previously rejected challenges to vaccination requirements from health care workers in Maine, students at Indiana University and personnel in New York City's school system. Two challenges from health care workers in New York are pending.
'-- Adam Liptak
Image Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, in September. Credit... Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, told lawmakers on Tuesday that inflation is likely to last well into next year and that the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus creates more uncertainty around the economic outlook.
The remarks by Mr. Powell, who is testifying before the Senate Banking Committee alongside Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, conveyed a sense of wariness at a time when price increases are running at their fastest pace in three decades.
''It is difficult to predict the persistence and effects of supply constraints, but it now appears that factors pushing inflation upward will linger well into next year,'' Mr. Powell said. ''In addition, with the rapid improvement in the labor market, slack is diminishing, and wages are rising at a brisk pace.''
''I think the risk of higher inflation has increased,'' he said.
Mr. Powell also addressed the new variant, which governments and scientists are racing to assess and contain.
''The recent rise in Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation,'' Mr. Powell said. ''Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people's willingness to work in person, which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions.''
Ms. Yellen said she expected the economy to continue to strengthen but noted that the path of the recovery depends on the pandemic.
''Of course, the progress of our economic recovery can't be separated from our progress against the pandemic, and I know that we're all following the news about the Omicron variant,'' Ms. Yellen said, adding that vaccines continue to be a crucial tool. ''We're still waiting for more data, but what remains true is that our best protection against the virus is the vaccine.''
The Treasury secretary also urged lawmakers to raise or suspend the nation's borrowing cap next month. Ms. Yellen has said that the United States could be unable to pay its bills sometime after Dec. 15. At that point, Social Security checks and military paychecks could be delayed and the country would face a deep recession.
''I cannot overstate how critical it is that Congress address this issue,'' Ms. Yellen said. ''America must pay its bills on time and in full. If we do not, we will eviscerate our current recovery.''
Much is unknown about the new variant of the coronavirus, but it represents something Fed officials worry about: The possibility that the pandemic will continue to flare up, shutting down factories, roiling supply lines and keeping the economy out of balance. If that happens, as it did with the Delta variant earlier this summer and fall, it could perpetuate high prices.
Inflation has surged in 2021 as strong consumer demand has crashed into the barrier of limited supply. Production line closures, port pileups and parts shortages have kept goods from getting onto shelves and to customers, prompting companies to charge more. At the same time, a dearth of labor in certain industries caused by virus wariness and pandemic-related child-care shortages has been pushing up wages and prices for some services.
It's too early to know if the new virus strain will contribute to those trends, making inflation last longer than it otherwise would. But the new variant strikes at a delicate moment for monetary policy.
Central bankers are slowing their bond-purchase program, a move that should give them more flexibility to raise interest rates '-- their more traditional and powerful tool for stoking the economy '-- if doing so should prove necessary next year.
Several Fed officials have signaled that they may speed up their so-called bond-buying ''taper'' given how high and how stubborn inflation is proving. Many economists think officials could announce a plan to do so at their meeting in December.
But if the coronavirus again hits the economy, it could make such a decision '-- and the timing and pace of eventual rate increases '-- more challenging.
That's because the Fed balances two goals, controlling inflation and stoking employment, when it sets its policy. A faster and fuller removal of help for the economy might slow down price gains by weighing down demand, but it would likely slow business expansions and hiring in the process.
Mr. Powell, whom President Biden plans to reappoint for a second term as Fed chair, told lawmakers that the Fed is ''committed to our price-stability goal.''
''We will use our tools both to support the economy and a strong labor market and to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched,'' Mr. Powell said, after once again acknowledging that the Fed realizes ''high inflation imposes significant burdens, especially on those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation.''
On Monday, Mr. Biden called Omicron ''a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,'' and his press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters that she was not aware of any projections by the administration's economic team for how the variant might affect hiring, growth and inflation. ''It is something obviously we will continue to assess,'' she said.
'-- Jeanna Smialek and Alan Rappeport
Image Commuters in London on Monday. The government will mandate masks on public transportation and in stores. Credit... Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock Britain expanded its vaccine booster program to all adults on Monday, stepping up its response to the newly discovered Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The government also announced two new cases of the variant in England, just hours after Scotland said that six cases had been detected there and that contact tracing was being conducted. Nationally, Britain has identified 11 cases.
Scottish officials said that some of the six people infected had not traveled recently '-- suggesting community transmission in the country '-- but that there was no evidence of ''sustained or widespread'' transmission. All of the infected individuals are in isolation, and none have been hospitalized, said Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new mask mandates and testing requirements for travelers to Britain. While the government has not ordered people to work from home where possible, or mandated the use of vaccine passports or masks in English restaurants, officials have not ruled out the possibility.
Jonathan Van-Tam, Britain's deputy chief medical officer, said that while there was still a high level of uncertainty about the variant, the country would expand the vaccine program right away.
''We don't know what's going to happen next,'' Mr. Van-Tam said, noting that it could take scientists weeks to better understand the variant. ''But whilst we wait for the mist to clear on what this concerning variant actually means, there is no time to delay. It's our opportunity to get ahead, and vaccine boosting is the thing we can do most effectively while we wait for that mist to clear.''
7''day average
43,023
Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.
The British government was widely criticized for a sluggish response to the Delta variant earlier this year, and its reaction to the Omicron variant came markedly quicker.
Britain's vaccine advisory board, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, advised everyone ages 18 to 39 to get a booster shot; previously, people 40 and over were eligible. It reduced the required waiting period between the initial vaccine series and the booster from five months to three.
The board also said children ages 12 to 15 could receive a booster shot and recommended that those who are severely immunocompromised receive a fourth dose.
The Education Department has advised students in England ages 11 and up to wear face masks in communal areas beginning Monday.
Ms. Sturgeon said she and the leader of Wales, Mark Drakeford, had written to Mr. Johnson to demand that all travelers to Britain be required to take a coronavirus test on the second and eighth day after their arrival, and that they be required to isolate for that whole period. Under the most recent guidance, arrivals will only have to take a test on the second day.
Ms. Sturgeon and Mr. Drakeford have also called for a joint meeting of the British government's top emergency committee, Cobra, to better coordinate the response to the new variant.
There are no plans for further restrictions on regional travel, Ms. Sturgeon said, but that could change.
''I still hope, really fervently hope, to be having a normal Christmas with my family,'' she said. ''Can I say that with 100 percent certainty? No, but that's what I hope, and that's what I think we should all be hopeful for.''
Unlike many countries in Europe, Britain has had relatively few restrictions in place since the summer, and the government has repeatedly said there are no plans for another lockdown.
Speaking in front of Parliament on Monday, the British health secretary, Sajid Javid, reinforced that philosophy. If Omicron proved to be ''no more dangerous'' than the Delta variant currently dominant in Britain, he said, then ''we wouldn't keep measures in place for a day longer than necessary.''
'-- Megan Specia and Cora Engelbrecht
Global markets steadied on Monday, with stocks on Wall Street and oil prices gaining, as investors contemplated more carefully the knowns and unknowns of a new Covid-19 variant.
The S&P 500 rose 1.3 percent, rebounding from a 2.3 percent drop on Friday. That was its worst day since February and came after initial news of the discovery in southern Africa of the new variant, called Omicron. The World Health Organization labeled it a ''variant of concern,'' its most serious category.
Shares of companies in industries that had been bouncing back in recent months, like airlines and other travel firms, took big hits as governments reintroduced limits on movement across borders. Oil prices plunged on concerns about the economic toll of potential restrictions, while government bond yields fell amid an investor flight to the relative safety of sovereign debt.
On Monday, with quick answers about the threat from Omicron hard to come by, investors seemed less focused on potential disaster, and some of Friday's moves were undone. While the new variant might turn out to be more contagious and vaccine resistant, it could also prove to be less dangerous to the health of the vaccinated or previously infected. Scientists haven't come to firm conclusions, and it could take up to two weeks before the tests of current vaccines on the new variant have results. And Covid-related stock market drops are getting milder and shorter.
When the virus first emerged in early 2020, the S&P 500 fell for a month and a half before recovering. In October 2020, a resurgence of cases led to a drop of 5.6 percent over a few days, but markets had rebounded within a week. In July of this year, the emergence of the Delta variant triggered a one-day slide of 1.6 percent that was recouped within a few days.
''We don't know how dangerous it is to health, though early reports that it isn't very dangerous, while downplayed by the cautious experts, are very seductive,'' Kit Juckes, a strategist at Soci(C)t(C) G(C)n(C)rale, wrote in a note to clients. ''Against that backdrop, some of Friday's madness has been reversed, but only part of it.''
Stocks in Europe also rose on Monday, with the Stoxx Europe 600 closing 0.7 percent higher. The FTSE 100 in Britain rose 0.9 percent, while stock indexes in France and Spain were also higher.
Futures of the two major oil benchmarks, Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate, gained 1 percent and 2.6 percent. With crude oil rebounding, shares of energy companies also climbed. Enphase Energy was up 3.8 percent, while Diamondback Energy gained about 2.3 percent.
Government bond yields also climbed. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose 4 basis points, or 0.04 percentage points, to 1.52 percent. On Friday, the yield had dropped 16 basis points, the steepest one-day fall since late March 2020. Concerns over newly imposed travel restrictions mostly eased on Monday, with travel and leisure stocks trading higher as President Biden said on Monday that the administration's plan to combat Covid in the winter did not does not include ''shutdowns or lockdowns,'' and would instead rely on more testing, vaccinations and boosters.Royal Caribbean Group rose 2.8 percent on Monday, while Norwegian Cruise Line was up 0.8 percent. Shares of United Airlines also rose. Moderna, the vaccine maker, rallied more than 10 percent.
Not every market rebounded, however. With Japan sealing its borders just days after reopening to short-term business travelers and international students, shares in Asia tumbled. The Nikkei 225 fell 1.6 percent, while stocks in Hong Kong fell 1 percent.
Carlos Tejada and Stephen Gandel contributed reporting.
'-- Eshe Nelson and Coral Murphy Marcos
Image A passenger whose flight to Dubai was cancelled spoke to staff at O.R. Tambo International Airport, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday. Credit... Joao Silva/The New York Times United Nations Secretary-General Ant"nio Guterres and a top South African health official on Monday accused the United States and other rich countries of contributing to the neglect and isolation of Africa by imposing travel bans intended to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
Many of the steps taken to contain Omicron, which was first identified last week by researchers in South Africa, have been aimed at travelers from that region, drawing accusations that Western countries were discriminating against an area that has already been beset by vaccine shortages caused by the hoarding of doses by wealthy nations.
Over the weekend, a handful of countries including the United States and the European Union imposed restrictions. On Monday, several others joined in, including Japan, Israel and Morocco, even as scientists cautioned that the threat posed by Omicron remained unknown and experts debated the effectiveness of such actions in the past.
''I am now deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries due to new COVID-19 travel restrictions,'' Mr. Guterres said in a statement on Monday during an emergency meeting to coordinate the international response.
Mr. Guterres said he has ''long warned'' that low vaccinations rates, caused, in part, by the failure of rich countries to subsidize an effective mass vaccination campaign in Africa, made the continent a ''breeding ground'' for the spread of virus mutations that would, in turn, afflict wealthier nations in Europe and North America.
''The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available in Africa '-- and they should not be penalized for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world,'' he added.
South Africa's health minister, Joe Phaahla, told reporters on Monday that he delivered a blunt message to the U.S. health and human services secretary, Xavier Becerra, when the two men spoke ahead of the special session of the World Health Assembly on Monday.
''What you can do is to say to your president and your government that the travel bans are not helping us, they're just making things more difficult,'' Mr. Phaahla said.
South Africa's number of daily infections '-- 2,828 on Friday '-- was a fraction of case counts in other countries.
Yet just over 10 percent of people across the continent of Africa have received one dose of a vaccine, compared with 64 percent in North America and 62 percent in Europe.
On Monday, President Biden and his aides pushed back against the claim that the U.S. ban was intended to punish or marginalize the country, or the continent.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters on Monday, said that South Africa had rejected offers from the United States to increase vaccine shipments because the country's health officials were struggling to overcome the reluctance of its citizens.
When pressed on the travel ban, Ms. Psaki said administration officials had determined that the ''hundreds, if not thousands of cases'' in South Africa warranted such restrictions, while the smaller number of cases in Europe did not warrant similar steps. At least not yet.
''The objective here is not to punish, it is to protect the American people,'' said Ms. Psaki.
When a reporter reminded her that Mr. Biden had accused former President Donald J. Trump of xenophobia for imposing similar restrictions in early 2020, she replied that Mr. Biden was responding to a ''xenophobic tweet'' by Mr. Trump and not the use of such restrictions when appropriate.
'-- Glenn Thrush and Nick Cumming-Bruce
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N.Y.C. Officials Reinforce Indoor Mask GuidanceMayor Bill de Blasio of New York said the city was ''doubling down'' on its current advice that all residents wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. He also extended the city's vaccine mandate to all child care workers.''There are no Omicron cases here in New York City at this moment. It is very likely there will be, but there are no cases at this moment. But nonetheless we are preparing to take action, and our entire focus, once again, is going to be on vaccination.'' ''I am also issuing a commissioner's advisory strongly recommending that all New Yorkers wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting, like at your grocery or in building lobbies, offices and retail stores. This includes those that are vaccinated and those who've had Covid-19. Higher quality masks like KN-95s or KF-94s can offer an additional layer of protection, and masks are still required for everyone in public transit, health care settings, schools and congregate settings.'' ''We're doubling down on it, basically. We had given that advice a long time ago. Obviously, things had gotten a lot better, and it's not surprising if people had started to change their habits. It's time to re-up that advisory and make it very, very clear this is a smart thing to do at this point. Today, we're announcing an additional vaccine mandate related to child care programs. This is for child care and early intervention programs citywide, a total impact reaching 102,000 employees of these programs. These are all over the five boroughs. There are 90,000 employees who are in child care programs; 12,000 in early intervention programs. So again, 102,000 total. We're putting this mandate in place with a deadline of Dec. 20 for all those employees to get vaccinated.''
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said the city was ''doubling down'' on its current advice that all residents wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. He also extended the city's vaccine mandate to all child care workers. Credit Credit... Jason Szenes/EPA, via Shutterstock With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus appearing likely to be detected in New York City any day now, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that he was strengthening the city health department's standing advice that New Yorkers '-- both vaccinated and unvaccinated '-- wear masks in indoor public settings.
''We're doubling down on it, basically,'' Mr. de Blasio said. ''It's time to re-up that advisory and make it very, very clear this is a smart thing to do at this point.''
Masks are already required aboard mass transit and in hospitals and schools, but Mr. de Blasio stopped short of making them mandatory in all indoor public spaces. He said that indoor dining would continue as before, with vaccinations required for guests, and that the city's plans for a New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square would still move forward.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear masks in public indoor settings wherever there are high rates of community transmission. All of New York City and its suburbs are in that category.
Separately, Mr. de Blasio said on Monday that he would expand New York City's vaccine mandate to encompass all workers in child care settings and in the city's early intervention program, which serves children who are lagging developmentally. The mandate will affect 102,000 workers, who will need to have received at least one dose of a vaccine by Dec. 20. Mr. de Blasio said the mandate extension had been in the works before the discovery of the new variant.
Broadly, the mayor and his advisers struck a vigilant but non-alarmist tone as officials worldwide awaited data showing how readily the Omicron variant spreads, whether it causes more severe illness and how well vaccines protect against it. Evidence to support fears over its possible threat has yet to be established.
No Omicron cases have been identified anywhere in the United States, where the Delta variant remains dominant. Genetic sequencing is required to confirm which variant of the virus a patient has; New York City sequences samples from hundreds of cases a week for that purpose.
''I fully expect it to arrive,'' Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said Monday, adding that the state was monitoring the situation and that the Omicron variant had already been detected in Ontario, which she said could see from her home. ''We have some ways to defend against this. We are not defenseless like we were one year ago.''
She noted that a recent executive order goes into effect on Friday, allowing hospitals with limited capacity to pause nonessential and non-urgent procedures. She also encouraged New Yorkers to get vaccinated, to get boosters, to get tested and to wear masks.
There is no statewide mask mandate for the general public, but masks are required in certain areas, regardless of vaccination status, such as inside child care facilities. Ms. Hochul voiced support for county officials who have reinstated mask mandates indoors, regardless of vaccination status, such as in Erie County.
''I encourage other leaders to do the same,'' Ms. Hochul said. ''That is something that takes courage, it's not always the most popular thing to do in certain areas of the state.''
State health officials requested that labs across the state immediately notify the health department if they detect the Omicron variant.
''Covid is going to be with us for the rest of our lives,'' said Dr. Mitchell Katz, the chief executive of New York City Health and Hospitals. ''It's not going anywhere, and it's all about how we learn to live with this virus. And so far, the data do not suggest that this variant is more harmful in terms of hospitalization or in terms of serious illness.''
'-- Dana Rubinstein and Lola Fadulu
Image A soccer game in Portugal between Belenenses and Benfica over the weekend was abandoned after a virus outbreak. It was later revealed that some of those cases were of the Omicron variant. Credit... Antonio Cotrim/EPA, via Shutterstock Portugal on Monday said it had identified 13 cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, all tied to Belenenses, a soccer club that was forced to take part in a top-flight game over the weekend that was abandoned while in progress.
The country's national health institute said that the 13 people were isolating and that they were all players or staff members of Belenenses, which fielded a depleted team of only nine players against Benfica on Saturday after reporting a coronavirus outbreak.
The institute also confirmed that one of the 13 people was a player who had recently returned to Portugal from South Africa, whose scientists helped identify Omicron. Benfica's players will be tested for the virus, the country's general health director, Gra§a Freitas, told the local TSF radio station.
Later in the day, Spain announced its first case of the Omicron variant, contracted by a person who traveled over the weekend from South Africa. The patient, a 51-year-old man, has been quarantined at the Gregorio Mara±"n hospital in Madrid since Sunday following a trip from South Africa with a stopover in Amsterdam, according to the regional government in the capital. Officials said in statement that the man is showing only mild symptoms of the illness.
7''day average
3,118
Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.
Before the game on Saturday, as many as 17 players and staff members of the Belenenses club tested positive for the virus, although it was unclear at the time whether those cases involved the new variant. The Belenenses players sought to have the game canceled, but officials reportedly told them that it had to go on.
Separately, Portugal's health authorities said they were tracing more than 200 passengers who had arrived in Portugal on Saturday from Maputo, Mozambique. At least two people on the flight had tested positive for the virus, but the authorities said it was too early to confirm whether these were Omicron cases.
Portugal on Monday began suspending all flights to and from Mozambique, which is a former Portuguese colony and shares a border with South Africa, over concerns about the new variant.
'-- Raphael Minder
Image Wearing masks at a mall entrance in Beijing on Monday. Credit... Thomas Peter/Reuters Even before concerns about the new Omicron variant arose, China had refused calls to loosen its border restrictions, which are among the strictest in the world.
Now Chinese researchers are offering data to support the government's decision to maintain its extreme ''zero Covid'' strategy.
A recent study published on the country's Center for Disease Control and Prevention website found that China could face more than 630,000 coronavirus cases a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance prevention measures and lifted curbs on travel, in the way that some Western countries have.
That would be more than five times as many as the total number of cases reported in China, which has a population of 1.4 billion, in the years since the virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, according to a New York Times database. Such an outbreak would put a huge strain on the country's resources, including its hospital system, said the report, which was published before the World Health Organization labeled Omicron a ''variant of concern.''
The authors of the report, who are scholars at Peking University in Beijing, wrote that the findings ''raised a clear warning'' that the country was not ready to open up.
''More efficient vaccinations or more specific treatment, preferably the combination of both, are needed before entry-exit quarantine measures and other Covid-19 response strategies in China can be safely lifted,'' they wrote.
While China has vaccinated more than 75 percent of its population, questions have been raised about the efficacy of the country's homegrown vaccines.
The Beijing government has staked much of its political legitimacy on controlling the virus better than other countries. The strategy, so far, has worked: China has reported fewer than 5,000 deaths since the pandemic began and has managed to quickly tame sporadic outbreaks through severe, and sometimes impractical, measures. On Monday, China reported just 21 locally transmitted cases, most of which were reported in the northern region of Inner Mongolia.
7''day average
62
Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.
While some critics have warned that China's approach could be unsustainable and counterproductive, growing concerns about the new Omicron variant now make it even more unlikely that Beijing will ease its restrictions, which include at least two weeks of mandatory quarantine for visitors as well as snap lockdowns and mass testing campaigns in areas where the virus is detected.
Dr. Zhang Wenhong, one of China's top infectious disease experts, said on Sunday that the country's comprehensive approach to fighting the virus made it well placed to confront the evolving threat.
''If we can cope with the Delta variant, we can also cope with Omicron,'' Dr. Zhang wrote on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform.
'-- Amy Chang Chien and Amy Qin
Image A laboratory at the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in Durban, South Africa. Credit... Joao Silva/The New York Times As nations severed air links from southern Africa amid fears of another global surge of the coronavirus, scientists scrambled on Sunday to gather data on the new Omicron variant, its capabilities and '-- perhaps most important '-- how effectively the current vaccines will protect against it.
The early findings are a mixed picture. The variant may be more transmissible and better able to evade the body's immune responses, both to vaccination and to natural infection, than prior versions of the virus, experts said in interviews.
The vaccines may well continue to ward off severe illness and death, although booster doses may be needed to protect most people. Still, the makers of the two most effective vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are preparing to reformulate their shots if necessary.
''We really need to be vigilant about this new variant and preparing for it,'' said Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Even as scientists began vigorous scrutiny of the new variant, countries around the world curtailed travel to and from nations in southern Africa, where Omicron was first identified. Despite the restrictions, the virus has been found in a half-dozen European countries, including the United Kingdom, as well as Australia, Israel and Hong Kong.
Already, Omicron accounts for most of the 2,300 new daily cases in the province of Gauteng, South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday. Nationally, new infections have more than tripled in the past week, and test positivity has increased to 9 percent from 2 percent.
Scientists have reacted more quickly to Omicron than to any other variant. In just 36 hours from the first signs of trouble in South Africa on Tuesday, researchers analyzed samples from 100 infected patients, collated the data and alerted the world, said Tulio de Oliveira, a geneticist at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in Durban.
Within an hour of the first alarm, scientists in South Africa also rushed to test Covid vaccines against the new variant. Now, dozens of teams worldwide '-- including researchers at Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna '-- have joined the chase.
They won't know the results for two weeks, at the earliest. But the mutations that Omicron carries suggest that the vaccines most likely will be less effective, to some unknown degree, than they were against any previous variant.
'-- Apoorva Mandavilli
Image Ayano Hirose has not been able to see her fianc(C) in person for the past 19 months, since he left Japan for his native Indonesia. Credit... Shiho Fukada for The New York Times In announcing on Monday that its borders would be closed to travelers from everywhere, Japan adopted a familiar tactic. The country has barred tourists since early in the coronavirus pandemic, even as most of the rest of the world started to travel again.
And it had only tentatively opened this month to business travelers and students, despite recording the highest vaccination rate among the world's large wealthy democracies and after seeing its coronavirus caseloads plunge by 99 percent since August.
Now, as the doors slam shut again, Japan provides a sobering case study of the human and economic cost of those closed borders. Over the many months that Japan has been isolated, thousands of life plans have been suspended, leaving couples, students, academic researchers and workers in limbo.
Video ''It's best to be extra cautious when dealing with the risk of a mysterious virus,'' Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan said as he reversed a recent move to reopen the country's borders to short-term business travelers and international students. Credit Credit... Philip Fong/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Ayano Hirose has not been able to see her fianc(C), Dery Nanda Prayoga, in person for the past 19 months, since he left Japan for his native Indonesia, just two weeks after her parents blessed their marriage plans. The couple has made do with multiple daily video calls. When they run out of things to talk about, they play billiards on Facebook Messenger or watch Japanese variety shows together online.
''We don't want to suffer in pain at the thought of not being able to reunite in the near future,'' said Ms. Hirose, 21, who has written letters to the foreign and justice ministries asking for an exemption to allow Mr. Dery to come to Japan. ''So we will think positively and continue to hold out hope.''
'-- Motoko Rich and Hikari Hida
Image Czech President Milos Zeman, right, separated with a transparent wall after testing positive for the coronavirus, appoints Petr Fiala as Czech Prime Minister at the Lany Manor house, near Prague, Czech Republic on Sunday. Credit... Pool photo by Vondrous Roman President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, appointed the country's new prime minister on Sunday while sitting inside a transparent cube.
Mr. Zeman, 77, was discharged from a hospital in Prague on Saturday and is currently required to isolate. He rolled in a wheelchair into the clear box, pushed by a worker wearing a full protective suit, in order to appoint Petr Fiala as prime minister. He was originally scheduled to take that step on Friday but the event was delayed after he tested positive.
If it had happened two years ago, the sight of a world leader confined to a cube might have been considerable cause for alarm, but on Sunday the event proceeded as normal, with the other participants masked and moving freely around the room. Mr. Fiala and the other speakers stood at a microphone and spoke toward the cube, while Mr. Zeman spoke from inside using another microphone.
Mr. Zeman's health has been a source of concern and speculation inside the country; he has diabetes and neuropathy in his legs, which caused him to begin using a wheelchair in April. He was hospitalized in October, but the government offered little information on his specific health issues.
He was discharged on Thursday after being treated there for six weeks, only to be readmitted to the hospital hours later after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Like much of Europe, the Czech Republic is dealing with a surge of the virus, setting a record on Friday with nearly 28,000 new cases reported. About 59 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to Our World In Data.
Over the last two years, several other world leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and former President Donald J. Trump of the United States, have contracted the coronavirus and recovered after hospital stays.
'-- Daniel Victor
Image Over the weekend, Israel banned international arrivals of nonresidents for two weeks because of the Omicron virus variant. Passengers disembarked on Sunday at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. Credit... Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock The Israeli domestic intelligence agency has been granted temporary permission to access the phone data of people with confirmed cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in order to trace who those people met recently. The agency was given similar powers during earlier waves of the pandemic.
Using emergency legislation, the Israeli cabinet voted on Sunday to permit the spy agency, the Shin Bet, to track Omicron patients' phones until the end of the day on Thursday '-- but not to access the phone records of people infected with other forms of the coronavirus.
The Israeli Parliament is expected to vote this week on new legislation that would extend the permission by another two weeks, and allow it to be renewed every two weeks thereafter, according to a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The government and its supporters said the decision was necessary to quickly identify potential virus carriers who need to be tested and quarantined, in order to curb the spread of the new variant.
''We have indeed reached a point at which we do need a 'Big Brother' keeping track of where we go,'' Limor Yehuda, a criminology professor, wrote on Monday in Maariv, a centrist newspaper.
Critics said the move infringed civil liberties and contravened a Supreme Court decision last March. The court ruled then that the agency could use phone data in this way only to track people who had refused to comply with contact-tracing procedures.
''No other democratic country has chosen to use its security service to track people,'' Gil Gan-Mor, a rights lawyer, wrote in Maariv on Monday. The renewal of Shin Bet tracking was ''a terrible, illegal decision,'' he added.
Critics of the step pointed to government data showing that, during an earlier wave of the pandemic, the overwhelming majority of coronavirus patients were located by human trackers, rather than through the Shin Bet monitoring program.
Israel's swift response to the discovery of the new virus variant was influenced in part by a government-wide ''war game'' held earlier in November. In that exercise, senior officials simulated how they would respond to a fictional scenario that bore striking similarities to what is actually happening now.
In a daylong drill on Nov. 11, Israeli officials had to respond to a hypothetical new ''Omega'' virus strain that would be more resistant to vaccines and would spread to Israel from two foreign countries during the second of half of November.
In the simulation, officials including Mr. Bennett decided to keep Israel's borders open to tourists into December, only to find that by the later stages of the exercise, the country's hospitals were overwhelmed with patients. The correct decision, the participants concluded afterward, would have been to close Israel's borders to most foreigners immediately, according to Yaacov Ayish, a retired general who helped plan the drill.
''It was one of the lessons,'' Mr. Ayish said. ''Suddenly, all the government agencies and the military had to analyze it as an option.''
'-- Patrick Kingsley
Image The hotel in the Netherlands where some passengers who arrived on flights from South Africa are in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. Credit... Peter Dejong/Associated Press The Dutch military police arrested a couple on Sunday who were about to fly out of the Netherlands when they were supposed to be in quarantine. One of the pair had tested positive for the coronavirus two days earlier after arriving from South Africa, the police said.
The married couple '-- the husband is Spanish, the wife Portuguese '-- had left a quarantine hotel and boarded a plane at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport when they were arrested, according to Dutch news media. The plane was bound for Spain.
Marianne Schuurmans, a local mayor and chair of the safety region that includes the airport, told Dutch morning television on Monday that the couple was in isolation at a hospital.
Ms. Schuurmans said that the authorities didn't anticipate that someone might break quarantine after testing positive. ''We were really taken by surprise that people don't take this seriously,'' she said.
Of the roughly 600 passengers on two flights from South Africa that landed in the Netherlands on Friday morning, 61 people tested positive for the coronavirus. Those people were told by officials to quarantine in a designated hotel or at home.
After sequencing the positive tests, scientists found that at least 13 of those people had the Omicron variant, Dutch public health officials said, adding that they expected that number to grow.
Passengers from those flights '-- negative and positive '-- spent about 30 hours together on the plane and in poorly ventilated rooms at the airport, according to Stephanie Nolen, a reporter for The New York Times who was on one of the planes. While the infected passengers were told to isolate, those who tested negative were allowed to fly onward or go home, despite their exposure.
'-- Claire Moses
Image Rising ticket and concession prices are among the trends keeping audiences away, along with the run-down state of shopping malls, home to many cinemas. Credit... Philip Cheung for The New York Times LOS ANGELES '-- About 49 percent of prepandemic moviegoers are no longer buying tickets. Some of them, roughly 8 percent, have likely been lost forever. To win back the rest, multiplex owners must ''urgently'' rethink pricing and customer perks in addition to focusing on coronavirus safety.
Those were some of the takeaways from a new study on the state of the American movie theater business, which was troubled before the pandemic '-- attendance declining, streaming services proliferating '-- and has struggled to rebound from coronavirus-forced closings in 2020. Over the weekend, ticket sales in the United States and Canada stood at roughly $96 million, compared to $181 million over the same period in 2019.
The study, published online on Monday, was self-commissioned by the Quorum, a film research company led by David Herrin, the former head of research for United Talent Agency; Cultique, a consultancy run by the longtime brand strategist Linda Ong; and Fanthropology, which describes itself as a research, strategy and creative agency. They intend to run the survey once a quarter.
''The research clearly shows that theaters are suffering because the pandemic intensified, accelerated, amplified all of the nascent trends that were already underway,'' Ms. Ong said. ''That is the definition of a perfect storm '-- not that various problems exist at the same time, but that they have an intensifying effect on each other.''
The nascent trends? Rising ticket and concession prices. Decreasing ''experiential value,'' including the perception that moviegoing has become a hassle. The run-down state of shopping malls, which house many theaters. A generational shift toward streaming, gaming and other smartphone-based entertainment. ''Before, maybe you went every now and again '-- overlooking the drawbacks,'' Mr. Herrin said. ''Now you add safety concerns to that mix, and you suddenly become a former filmgoer.''
The research companies surveyed 2,528 people who visited a movie theater in 2019. (Some bought a ticket once a week, while others went once a month. Others went ''several'' times a year.) About 51 percent of respondents said they had bought tickets in recent months, with some drawn by cinema-chain rewards programs. They are largely white men ages 25 to 45 who live in cities, according to Mr. Herrin. ''Once you get outside of that demographic, you're really starting to lose people,'' he said.
The 49 percent no longer buying tickets were more likely to be in favor of a vaccine mandate for attendees. This group, predominantly female, was also more likely to be concerned about price and value, Mr. Herrin said. Still, he noted that roughly a third were ''hopeful'' about returning to theaters at some point. Among the changes most likely to bring them back: lower prices for classic concessions, newer seats, policing the usage of phones during films.
''There needs to be a sense of urgency,'' Mr. Herrin said. ''I don't know how large a window there is for exhibition to win these people back,'' he added, using Hollywood jargon for the multiplex business.
The ''likely losts,'' as the study identifies 8 percent of respondents who said they have not bought a ticket during the pandemic and can't see themselves returning, are lower-income consumers. The group has a large proportion of Hispanic, Black and Asian women, the researchers noted.
'-- Brooks Barnes
Joe Biden to announce nationwide coronavirus battle plan | US news | The Guardian
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 15:24
Joe Biden is set to announce new actions to combat the coronavirus, including a nationwide campaign encouraging vaccine boosters, an expansion of at-home tests and tighter restrictions on international travel.
Buffeted by the emergence of the Omicron variant and a political backlash from Republicans, the US president will visit the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on Thursday and lay out a pandemic battle plan for the winter months.
Biden will announce steps to ensure that the nearly 100 million eligible Americans who have not yet received their booster shot do so as soon as possible, the White House said. There is new urgency to the effort after the first US case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was identified in California on Wednesday.
The president will pledge to expand pharmacy availability during December while pharmacy partners send millions of texts, calls and emails to eligible customers with information on how to schedule an appointment or walk in for a booster shot.
President Joe Biden speaks about authorization of the Covid vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on 3 November. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/ReutersThere will also be a public education campaign to encourage adults to get boosters, with a particular focus on the elderly. It will feature paid advertising across multiple channels, engagement with community organisations and media campaigns.
Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Biden on Covid-19, told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that boosting was ''very important'', particularly when considering the rise in antibodies following a third dose.
He added: ''Even though we don't have a lot of data on it, there's every reason to believe that kind of increase that you get with the boost would be helpful at least in preventing severe disease of a variant like Omicron.''
The emergence of Omicron has demonstrated the tenacity of the virus, which continues to drag down Biden's political fortunes. Voters are divided on his handling of the pandemic, with 47% approving and 49% disapproving, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll.
But the White House defended his record, for example by pointing out that when he came into office more than half of schools were closed, where today 99% are fully open and in person. On Thursday, the president will unveil actions to get more children aged five and older vaccinated.
These include the launch of hundreds of family vaccination clinics across the country, offering a ''one-stop shop'' of first shots for parents, teenagers and children, and boosters for those eligible. There will be ''family vaccination days'' with hundreds of community health centres across the country hosting family vaccination clinics throughout December.
Biden will also set out a plan to ensure that Americans have access to free at-home testing. More than 150 million people with private insurance will be able to get at-home tests reimbursed; for those not covered, at-home tests will be distributed through health centres and rural clinics.
A traveler wearing a hazmat suit walks through the arrivals area at Los Angeles international airport on 30 November. Photograph: Jae C Hong/APWith the threat posed by the Omicron variant still uncertain, early next week the US will tighten pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travellers to test within one day of departure, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.
In a briefing call with reporters, a senior administration official said: ''We have really strengthened our international travel system pretty dramatically over the last month or so.
''We believe that tightening that testing requirement for pre-departure will help catch more potential cases of people who may be positive when they fly into the country and so now is the right time to do it, and we can implement it very quickly.''
On domestic flights, the official added, ''the masking requirement is in place already and in fact we will be extending that requirement from January all the way until mid-March''.
The pandemic has killed almost 780,000 people in the US. Nearly 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance recommending that every adult get a booster.
Barbados Drops the Queen and Becomes a Republic - The New York Times
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 14:52
Americas | Barbados, Formally Casting Off the Queen, Becomes a Republic https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/30/world/americas/barbados-queen-republic-rihanna.htmlThe island nation swore in its first president, ending nearly 400 years of British rule. Prince Charles and Rihanna were on hand to witness the ceremony.
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Barbados Swears In First President and Ends British RuleBarbados became a republic and swore in its first president, Sandra Mason, 55 years after the Caribbean island gained independence from Britain. The ceremony formally severed ties with Queen Elizabeth II and ended nearly 400 years of British rule.''Presidential salute. Present '... arms.'' [rifle shot] [music] [rifle shot] [music] [rifle shot] ''In 1966, we were seeking to define ourselves, our national identity and to stamp our place in the world. Since independence, our heroes and our humble citizens, our crews and passengers have built an international reputation anchored on our characteristics, our national values, our stability and our successes. Drawing on the lessons of those intervening years, possessing a clear sense of who we are and what we are capable of achieving in the year 2021, we now turn our vessel's bow towards the new republic. Today, debate and discourse have become action. Today, we set our compass to a new direction, girded by the successes of the last 55 years. We are Barbadians. We the people must give Republic Barbados its spirit and its substance. We must shape its future.''
Barbados became a republic and swore in its first president, Sandra Mason, 55 years after the Caribbean island gained independence from Britain. The ceremony formally severed ties with Queen Elizabeth II and ended nearly 400 years of British rule. Credit Credit... Randy Brooks/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Nov. 30, 2021
In the early hours of Tuesday, at a ceremony attended by hundreds of masked officials, a prince and at least one pop star, the Caribbean island of Barbados became a republic, cutting ties with Queen Elizabeth II and casting off the last major vestige of its colonial past.
The nation swore in its first president, Sandra Mason, a former governor general who had been appointed by the queen. A 21-gun salute rang out as the national anthem played. The red, yellow and navy blue royal flag was lowered '-- exactly 55 years after the country gained independence from Britain.
''Today, debate and discourse have become action,'' Ms. Mason, 72, told the onlookers gathered in the capital, Bridgetown. ''Today, we set our compass to a new direction.''
Ms. Mason received a majority vote in Parliament in October to take on the role. In a speech afterward, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said: ''We believe that the time has come for us to claim our full destiny. It is a woman of the soil to whom this honor is being given.''
The island nation, a democracy of about 300,000 people, announced in September that it would remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state, the latest Caribbean nation to do so. It joined Guyana, which gained independence in 1966 and became a republic in 1970; Trinidad and Tobago, which became independent in 1962 and a republic in 1976; and Dominica, which gained full independence as a republic in 1978.
Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are among the nations that still call the queen their head of state. Barbados will remain part of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 countries with roots in the British Empire.
On Tuesday, thousands celebrated across Barbados as nearly 400 years of British rule ended.
In the audience to witness the uncoupling in Bridgetown was a representative of Britain: Prince Charles, Elizabeth's eldest son and heir. He received the Order of Freedom of Barbados.
In a speech, Charles delivered a message from his mother, conveying the ''warmest good wishes.'' He also congratulated Barbadians and said, ''From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.''
Image Prince Charles received the Order of Freedom of Barbados from Ms. Mason. Credit... Randy Brooks/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images ''Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation's story,'' he added. ''You are the guardians of your heritage.''
Also among the crowd was the global pop star Rihanna. During the ceremony, the singer, who was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Barbados, was declared a national hero.
She received the honor, Prime Minister Mottley said, for commanding ''the imagination of the world'' with her excellence, creativity, discipline and, ''above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth.''
''May you continue to shine like a diamond,'' Ms. Mottley added.
Image Rihanna, center, was declared a ''national hero'' during the ceremony. Credit... Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
80 House Republicans Help Pass Bill to Fund Federal Vax Database
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:44
Eighty House Republicans voted with Democrats on Tuesday to pass the Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act, which if passed by the Senate and signed into law would fund a federal vaccination database.
According to the bill, also called H. R. 550, the government would provide $400 million in taxpayer dollars to fund ''immunization system data modernization and expansion,'' a system otherwise defined as ''a confidential, population-based, computerized database that records immunization doses administered by any health care provider to persons within the geographic area covered by that database.''
The text specifically outlines an expansion of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Department capabilities and the ability for state and local health departments, as well as public and private health care providers, to share health data with the federal government.
In a statement, the bill's main sponsor, Democrat Rep. Ann Kuster (NH), said the system would be used to ''remind patients when they are due for a recommended vaccine'' and identify areas with low vaccination rates to ''ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.'' Notably, the bill has four Republican co-sponsors: Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), James Baird (R-IN), David McKinley (R-WV), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Not one Democrat voted in opposition to the bill.
Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), who was one of the 130 Republicans to vote ''no,'' told Breitbart News exclusively on Wednesday that the legislation would enable the federal government to ''track'' unvaccinated Americans who ''will be targeted and forced to comply with Biden's crazy 'global vaccination' vision.''
''These systems are designed to allow for the sharing of crucial information and maintenance of records. Do we really trust the government to protect our medical records?'' Miller said. ''The bill's author even bragged in her press release that these systems will help the government remind patients when they are due for a recommended vaccine and identify areas with low vaccination rates to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. This was clearly a legislative tool to enforce vaccine mandates and force their Orwellian rules onto those who do not comply.''
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) also voted ''no'' on the bill, citing ''Democrats' habitual pattern of reckless and wasteful spending'' in an exclusive statement to Breitbart News. The congressman said the legislation only serves to expand the power of the federal government and trample individual rights.
''This legislation would unnecessarily appropriate millions of taxpayer funds intended to expand bureaucracy in Washington. A database solely created to record and collect confidential vaccination information of Americans explicitly encroaches upon individuals' fundamental right to medical privacy,'' Donalds said. ''As a fiscal conservative, I cannot in good faith support legislation that contributes to the Democrats' habitual pattern of reckless and wasteful spending and the intrusive heavy hand of government.''
Miller noted that the legislation paves the way for the government to give blue states millions in taxpayers funds to enforce vaccine mandates. According to the bill's text, the government could award grants and cooperative agreements to health departments or other local governmental entities for agreeing to adopt the new data collection guidelines set by the CDC. Any agencies hoping to receive a grant must agree to comply with security standards to protect personal health information.
The government may also develop ''public-private partnerships'' to help with ''technical assistance, training, and related implementation support.'' When Breitbart News asked Miller if public-private partnerships could potentially obscure data collection activities from the public, she said the government cannot be trusted to be transparent.
'''...The government has become so large, you cannot expect them to keep anything private anymore. There is hardly any congressional oversight into studies these agencies conduct,'' she added.
Kuster is urging the Senate to quickly pass the legislation, saying the pandemic showed just how underprepared the country's ''vaccine infrastructure'' is. She emphasized that the legislation would help better prepare healthcare systems for ''future public health crises.'' She said in part:
COVID-19 pulled back the curtain on our vaccination systems and highlighted the urgent need for upgrades. I'm proud the House passed my bipartisan Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act to expand the enrollment and training of vaccine providers, update public health information technology to efficiently manage vaccine supply, and allow patients and providers to communicate securely in real-time.
Miller contended that the government has ''no reason'' to collect more vaccination data on Americans.
''As I've said many times before, the government is not your doctor. The federal government has no business inserting itself into private healthcare matters of Americans. There is no reason for them to collect this data, it is an affront to our liberties and health freedoms,'' she said. ''This kind of legislation is always passed because the government has its hands in everything nowadays, often at the expense of the freedoms and privacy of Americans. This bill would allow the government to collect, study, and share your private health data. There are endless ways the government could potentially use that information against you '' purposefully and accidentally.''
Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on Twitter.
Marcus Lamb of Christian Daystar Television Network dies of COVID
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:40
Marcus Lamb, head of Christian network Daystar who has been a vocal opponent of the coronavirus vaccine, has died of COVID-19, his family announced.
The conservative Christian Daystar Television Network announced his death Tuesday on Twitter, saying the Network's founder "went home to be with the Lord this morning." His wife, Joni, confirmed on the network his coronavirus diagnoses and that he had "pre-existing conditions" including diabetes. He was 64, she said.
One of the two largest Christian television networks in the world, Daystar has over 70 stations reaching 100 million U.S. households nationwide and 680 million households across over 200 countries, according to the network's website. The network is based in Bedford, Texas.
Daystar has broadcast segments and published information online that features misinformation about the virus, vaccines and unproven treatments for COVID-19.
Marcus Lamb had encouraged unapproved treatments for COVID-19, including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. He called ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that federal health officials have not approved for treating the virus, a "miracle drug." The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health have warned Americans against using the drug to treat COVID-19.
Joni Lamb said they were trying to treat the virus "with the different protocols we use, including the ones we talk about on Daystar."
'It's making a real difference':Faith leaders are encouraging vaccinations, framing the decision as a religious obligation
Vaccine misinformation:Texas hospital suspends doctor for spreading false information about COVID-19, vaccines
About a week before Lamb's death, his son, Jonathan, said on a Nov. 23 broadcast that he believed his dad's illness was a "spiritual attack from the enemy" in order to "take down" his dad.
It's unclear if Lamb was vaccinated. Arnold Torres, a spokesperson for Daystar, confirmed Lamb's death in a statement to USA TODAY but declined to comment on his vaccination status.
"He will always be remembered for his fierce love of God, people, and his family," the statement said.
Joining the broadcast from the hospital, Joni Lamb asked viewers to pray for her husband's "lungs to clear" and "his oxygen levels to continue to be strong."
The Lamb family and Daystar have made controversial statements about the pandemic and promoted misinformation about the virus and vaccines. The network hosted prominent anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose Instagram account was removed for sharing debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccines.
Daystar's website also peddles a host of misinformation about vaccines, urging readers to rethink getting vaccinated and raising concerns about vaccine mandates. For one episode, titled "A Hidden Crisis," the Daystar website says, "What if the most dangerous thing your child could face in life is the very thing you're told by your doctor is safe?"
Vaccines remain the safest and most effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Meanwhile, amid mounting concerns over the omicron variant, the CDC is encouraging Americans to get their booster shots as soon as possible.
White evangelical Christians have resisted COVID-19 vaccines at higher rates than other U.S. religious groups and report greater vaccine hesitancy. Experts point to a mistrust of government and mainstream science, fed by online conspiracy theories, as reason behind the group's distrust of vaccines.
More:COVID booster shots are now recommended for all American adults: What you should know
More:Omicron isn't a surprise to advocates who have fought for global vaccine equity
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.
Kyle Rittenhouse is not currently enrolled at Arizona State
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:38
Kyle Rittenhouse is no longer enrolled at Arizona State University, where left-leaning student groups rallied to get the teen kicked out of his studies, despite a court acquitting him of all charges.
University officials told The Post on Tuesday that Rittenhouse, 18, was no longer taking any classes.
''Kyle Rittenhouse has not gone through the ASU admissions process,'' a university spokesperson said in an email. ''University records show that he is not currently enrolled in any classes at ASU.''
Rittenhouse testified at his trial on Nov. 10 that he was studying nursing at ASU.
The university confirmed earlier this month that Rittenhouse had been taking classes as an online student for its session starting on Oct. 13, but wasn't enrolled in its Edson College of Nursing and Health.
Following Rittenhouse's testimony in court, four groups '-- led by Students for Socialism ASU '-- planned a rally for Wednesday to boot Rittenhouse, whom they blasted as a ''white supremacist.''
Kyle Rittenhouse said he was studying nursing at Arizona State University in Tempe. Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool, fileThe student groups are still expected to hold the protest at the Tempe campus, where they will now call on ASU to deny Rittenhouse ''further admission'' to the school.
The students also want the university to release a statement against white supremacy while denouncing Rittenhouse as a ''racist killer,'' according to the groups' demands '-- despite the teen being cleared of all charges over the triple shooting during riots last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The jury agreed that he had been defending himself after getting attacked.
''Even with a not-guilty verdict from a flawed 'justice' system '-- Kyle Rittenhouse is still guilty in the eyes of the people,'' the groups said in a statement Monday. ''Join us to demand from ASU that these demands be met to protect students from a violent, blood-thirsty killer.''
Here's our extended statement regarding Kyle Rittenhouse on campus, including our revised demands.The protest is still on! See you Wednesday at 3:30PM! pic.twitter.com/9nSHacbBHR
'-- Students for Socialism ASU ðŸš(C) (@SFSASU) November 30, 2021ASU spokesman Jay Thorne declined to comment on Wednesday's planned protest or the petition, the Arizona Republic reported. Rittenhouse can still reapply to take courses at ASU at a later date, the spokesman said.
''Any qualified individual can apply for admission,'' Thorne's email to the newspaper continued.
ASU does not inquire about a candidate's criminal history during the admissions process or to take online classes, so Rittenhouse could've continued taking online classes even if he was found guilty and sent to prison, Thorne previously said.
Multiple student groups branded Kyle Rittenhouse a ''racist killer'' amid rallies against him at Arizona State University. Students for Socialism ASURittenhouse told NewsNation's Ashleigh Banfield last week he took a ''compassionate withdrawal'' from two ASU classes due to being ''overwhelmed'' with his upcoming trial, but said he plans to re-enroll.
Rittenhouse also told Fox News last week he hoped to study nursing or law on ASU's campus as part of a ''quiet, stress-free'' life.
''I want to,'' he told Tucker Carlson when asked if he hopes to be on campus. ''There is a lot of things we have to look into, so I don't know for sure yet. But I do intend on going in campus and pursuing a career in nursing. I may change it. I've been looking into law. I may want to become a lawyer. I haven't completely decided yet.
''But I've been looking '-- I want to be a nurse, so I've been doing the prerequisites for that.''
Stacey Abrams launches 2nd campaign for Georgia governor - ABC News
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:03
Democrat Stacey Abrams says she is making another run for governor of Georgia
By JEFF AMY Associated Press
December 2, 2021, 2:17 AM
' 6 min read
ATLANTA -- Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and leading voting rights activist, said Wednesday that she will launch another campaign to become the nation's first Black woman governor.
Without serious competition in a Democratic primary, the announcement could set up a rematch between Abrams and incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Their 2018 contest was one of the most narrowly decided races for governor that year and was dominated by allegations of voter suppression, which Kemp denied.
Yet Abrams' strong showing convinced national Democrats that Georgia should no longer be written off as a GOP stronghold. Her performance and subsequent organization convinced Joe Biden to invest heavily in the state in 2020, and he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture it since 1992. The party later won a narrow Senate majority after victories in two Georgia special elections.
The 2022 governor's race will test whether those gains were a one-time phenomenon driven by discomfort with then-President Donald Trump or marked the beginning of a more consequential political shift in a rapidly growing and diversifying South. The Democratic loss in the Virginia governor's election could raise questions about whether Abrams' straightforwardly liberal approach can be effective in a national environment currently trending against the Democrats.
In a video announcing her candidacy, Abrams said ''opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn't be determined by background or access to power.''
Abrams said she would provide ''leadership that knows how to do the job, leadership that doesn't take credit without also taking responsibility, leadership that understands the true pain that folks are feeling and has real plans. That's the job of governor, to fight for one Georgia, our Georgia.''
Kemp said in a statement that Abrams was a on a ''never-ending campaign for power'' in an attempt to become president, linking her to what he said was the ''failed Biden agenda.''
''Her far-left agenda of open borders, gun confiscation, high taxes, and anti-law enforcement policies don't reflect who we are as Georgians,'' Kemp said.
In a state where Democrats often sought '-- and failed '-- to win power by relying on Black voters and appealing to older white moderates, Abrams ran in 2018 as an unapologetic progressive. The 47-year-old Abrams embraced expanding Medicaid access, something a series of Republican governors have refused to do, and supported abortion rights.
Georgia remains narrowly divided, and voters often reject the president's party in the next election. But in abandoning nods at centrism, Abrams insists Democrats can attract new voters, including transplants to the booming Atlanta area, Black voters who hadn't participated in previous elections and younger, more liberal white voters.
Although Kemp defeated her by 1.4 percentage points, Abrams won 778,000 more votes than the previous Democrat to run for governor.
Abrams was defiant in the face of the 2018 loss, acknowledging Kemp as the victor but refusing to concede the race, citing ''gross mismanagement'' in his role as secretary of state overseeing the election. She accused Kemp of using his office to aggressively purge the rolls of inactive voters, enforce an ''exact match'' policy for checking voters' identities that left registrations in limbo and otherwise tilt the outcome in his favor.
Kemp has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
After the election, Abrams started Fair Fight, an organizing group that has raised more than $100 million and built a statewide political operation that registered hundreds of thousands of new voters in Georgia. The state saw record-breaking turnout in the 2020 presidential race and January Senate runoff elections.
Now, Abrams and Kemp look like they may face a rematch in a new political climate. For one, Kemp faces opposition from Trump and his most loyal GOP supporters for not supporting the former president's baseless argument that he was cheated out of reelection through massive voter fraud, including in Georgia. Election officials conducted three recounts in the state, each of which affirmed Biden's victory.
Trump, who campaigned for Kemp in 2018, is now one of the governor's most vocal critics. The former president held a rally in the state in September, pointedly inviting former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to run against Kemp and sarcastically suggesting to the crowd that he would prefer Abrams to the incumbent governor.
''I'll beat her again, but it will be hard to do with Brian Kemp, because the MAGA base will just not vote for him ...,'' Trump said in statement. ''But some good Republican will run, and some good Republican will get my endorsement, and some good Republican will WIN!''
Since the rally, Perdue has privately consulted with leading Republicans about a possible bid and suggested in a radio interview last month that ''a lot of people feel like that people in power ... caved in to a lot of things back in 2020 that didn't have to be done,'' a reference to Kemp's refusal to overturn Biden's Georgia victory.
Kemp's disavowal of problems in Georgia's election results did not stop him from pushing through restrictive changes to voting laws in response to Trump's 2020 national defeat. Many Democrats are worried that Georgia's new law will erode Democratic chances. Others hope the new law will invigorate supporters and make them more determined to vote.
Abrams has used voting concerns to mobilize Democrats, telling The Associated Press in April that ''Republicans are gaming the system because they're afraid of losing an election.''
Republicans, meanwhile, have tried to use Abrams to galvanize their voters. Earlier this year, Kemp allies preemptively formed a group called Stop Stacey, aimed specifically at stopping her from winning the governorship in 2022.
Abrams faces vulnerabilities on several fronts. Her national stature could raise questions that she's more interested in higher office than in running Georgia. Republicans tried to blame her for Major League Baseball's decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta last year over backlash to the restrictive new voting law, though Abrams repeatedly discouraged boycotts.
Moving forward, she is part of a growing contingent of Black women seeking statewide office.
Democrat Deirdre DeJear is running for governor in Iowa. In Florida, Democratic Rep. Val Demings is running for Senate. In North Carolina, former state Sen. Erica Smith and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley are competing in the Democratic primary for Senate.
And in Virginia, Winsome Sears was elected lieutenant governor as a Republican.
But none has the national stature of Abrams.
Since 2018, Abrams was named to Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. She was featured in Vogue and interviewed on a podcast by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. She wrote two books, including a legal thriller. She conducted a 12-city speaking tour. She considered a run for president in 2020 before deciding against it. When Biden became the nominee, she openly lobbied to be his running mate, a position that went to Kamala Harris.
'--'--'--
Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.
Majority of mumps cases are among the vaccinated, CDC finds
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:02
Mumps cases continue to circulate in the U.S., largely among vaccinated people, including children.
Cases of mumps, once a common childhood illness, declined by more than 99 percent in the U.S. after a vaccine against the highly contagious respiratory infection was developed in 1967. Cases dropped to just 231 in 2003, down from more than 152,000 in 1968. But cases began climbing again in 2006, when 6,584 were reported, most of them in vaccinated people.
According to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of mumps cases in the U.S. from 2007 to 2019 were reported in children and adolescents. As many as 94 percent of those who contracted the illness had been vaccinated.
''Before that, large outbreaks of mumps among people who were fully vaccinated were not common, including among vaccinated children,'' said Mariel Marlow, an epidemiologist at the CDC who led the new study. ''But the disease symptoms are usually milder and complications are less frequent in vaccinated people.''
Experts aren't sure why vaccinated people get mumps, but multiple factors appear to be affecting immunity in vaccinated people, including a lack of prior exposure to the virus, waning immunity and the circulation of genotypes the vaccine doesn't contain.
The mumps virus is spread through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, the nose or the throat of an infected person. An infected person can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, talking or sharing drinks or during close-contact activities, such as sports. Nearly 91 percent of the U.S. population has had at least one dose of the two-dose measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine, which is administered between 12 months and 6 years and is 88 percent effective against the disease.
Cases in recent years have largely been driven by big localized outbreaks, although a peak in 2016 and 2017 included more than 150 outbreaks reported in 37 states and Washington, D.C., amounting to about 9,000 cases. Mumps cases decreased last year compared to the previous six years, but the illness continued to circulate in the U.S. despite distancing, lockdowns and masking. From April 1, 2020, to the end of the year, 32 health departments reported 142 mumps cases.
Disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in many children missing well-child visits and routinely recommended vaccines, including MMR, which could contribute to a future increase in cases or outbreaks.
Mariel Marlow, CDC Epidemiologist
The numbers are still low, and they aren't a reason to believe vaccines are no longer effective, said Joseph Lewnard, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
''We're talking about an infection that almost every kid in America would get before they were 20. Compared to the pre-vaccine era, kids who get the MMR vaccine remain extremely protected against mumps,'' Lewnard said.
Breakthrough casesIn some people, antibodies from mumps vaccination decrease over time, reducing protection. Lewnard said older adolescents are most at risk during outbreaks among young people because they are more likely than younger children to have reduced immunity due to waning vaccine protection.
''Protection is still high, but there will be some who lose protection within a decade or less even after they are vaccinated,'' he said.
Marlow said most people aren't routinely exposed to mumps, so there is also less immunologic boosting '-- when people are exposed to mumps that boosts their immunity but doesn't make them sick. Because mumps has continued to circulate globally during the pandemic, she expects cases and outbreaks of mumps nationally that could be worsened by a bigger unvaccinated population to continue.
''We know that disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in many children missing well-child visits and routinely recommended vaccines, including MMR, which could contribute to a future increase in cases or outbreaks,'' she said.
A third dose?Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the U.S. mumps vaccines contain genotype A strain, which no longer circulates in the U.S. But that doesn't seem to make the vaccines less effective.
''That's one of the mysteries of understanding this is because when you give the genotype A vaccine during an outbreak, it still works,'' he said. ''We've seen that during outbreaks on college campuses, a third dose of MMR is enough to stop it.''
Adalja said combating new outbreaks may be as simple as shifting the MMR vaccine schedule from two to three doses. Adjusting the schedule is nothing new: The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices initially recommended a single dose of the mumps vaccine for routine use in 1977 and upped it to two doses in 1989.
In 2017, the panel suggested that a third dose of the MMR vaccine may be given to people at high risk of catching mumps during large outbreaks.
''Maybe we will need to update the vaccine to make it more tailored to the strain we're seeing, but this might not be necessary. The current vaccine still works very well, and when it doesn't work, a third dose does,'' Adalja said.
Kaitlin Sullivan
Kaitlin Sullivan is a contributor for NBCNews.com who has worked with NBC News Investigations. She reports on health, science and the environment and is a graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York.
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James in health and safety protocols; expected to miss several games, sources say
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:58
Nov 30, 2021 Dave McMenamin ESPN Staff Writer
CloseLakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.SACRAMENTO -- LeBron James has entered the league's health and safety protocols, and he did not play in the Los Angeles Lakers' 117-92 win over the Kings on Tuesday night.
It is expected that James will miss several games, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"Obviously, it's a huge loss," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said in his pregame remarks Tuesday. "It's disappointing. We just want the best for him right now. That's where our thoughts are. And we have a next man up mindset."
Talen Horton-Tucker started in James' place and scored two points in 16 minutes.
Vogel said the team found out James was entering the health and safety protocols on Tuesday morning and arranged for transportation for James to return to L.A. from Sacramento.
"Hopefully, this is something that's short term," Vogel said. "We'll see."
Vogel declined to answer a reporter's question about what symptoms James is experiencing, but Anthony Davis was more forthcoming in his postgame remarks.
"He said he's good," Davis said after leading L.A. with 25 points in James' absence. "I think he's asymptomatic, which is a good sign, but we want to make sure that he gets back. Health is most important. This is bigger than basketball. He has a family. We want to make sure that he's good no matter what."
Russell Westbrook, who had 23 points and six assists in the win, said he planned to call James after the game.
"I know he wants to play, he wants to compete," Westbrook said. "Just check his mental and making sure that he's in a good space because it could be difficult, you know what I mean? Especially coming in and out of the lineup."
James already has missed 12 of the Lakers' 23 games because of injuries and a suspension. L.A. is 7-4 with James this season and 5-7 without him.
"We know he wants to be in there every night," Vogel said. "More than anybody in the league, probably."
If a player has a confirmed positive test for COVID-19, the NBA mandates a minimum of 10 days of isolation away from his team without any physical activity. After that period, a player must undergo a cardiac screening and reconditioning in order to be cleared to return to the court. A player who tests positive also could clear protocol by returning two negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests within a 24-hour period.
James revealed on Lakers media day in late September that he had received the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I know that I was very skeptical about it all," he said. "But after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt like it was best suited, not only for me but for my family and my friends. And that's why I decided to do it."
Vogel said he, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and team doctors met with Lakers players to emphasize the NBA's recommendation to receive booster shots to combat COVID-19.
"We met early in the season or right around the day or two of that recommendation," Vogel said. "Just to encourage and recommend the booster shot and the values that come with it."
James is averaging 25.8 points, 6.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds this season, his 19th in the NBA.
"It's an 82-game season," Vogel said. "You're going to have to deal with guys going in and out of the lineup. We've been without him some already this season. I feel like we're further along with our cohesiveness now than we were the first time he went out with his ab strain. And we got to come in and compete and get a W tonight."
L.A. trailed the Kings by as many as 13 in the second quarter before Vogel lit into his team at halftime, challenging the Lakers to play with better effort. They responded by outscoring Sacramento 67-33 after the break.
"We can't catch a break," Davis said. "But we still got to find ways to win. We can't let that affect us. Obviously he's a huge part of our team, but we've played a huge amount of games without him, so we kind of know how that is already. But we gotta continue to play like we did on the defensive end until he's able to come back."
CIA Files Say Staffers Committed Sex Crimes Involving Children. They Weren't Prosecuted.
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:57
Anthony Gerace for BuzzFeed NewsOver the past 14 years, the Central Intelligence Agency has secretly amassed credible evidence that at least 10 of its employees and contractors committed sexual crimes involving children.
Though most of these cases were referred to US attorneys for prosecution, only one of the individuals was ever charged with a crime. Prosecutors sent the rest of the cases back to the CIA to handle internally, meaning few faced any consequences beyond the possible loss of their jobs and security clearances. That marks a striking deviation from how sex crimes involving children have been handled at other federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Administration. CIA insiders say the agency resists prosecution of its staff for fear the cases will reveal state secrets.
The revelations are contained in hundreds of internal agency reports obtained by BuzzFeed News through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
One employee had sexual contact with a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old. He was fired. A second employee purchased three sexually explicit videos of young girls, filmed by their mothers. He resigned. A third employee estimated that he had viewed up to 1,400 sexually abusive images of children while on agency assignments. The records do not say what action, if any, the CIA took against him. A contractor who arranged for sex with an undercover FBI agent posing as a child had his contract revoked.
Only one of the individuals cited in these documents was charged with a crime. In that case, as in the only previously known case of a CIA staffer being charged with child sexual crimes, the employee was also under investigation for mishandling classified material.
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The CIA did not answer detailed questions, saying only that the agency ''takes all allegations of possible criminal misconduct committed by personnel seriously.''
A spokesperson for the Eastern District of Virginia, where many of the criminal referrals were sent, also did not answer detailed questions, saying the district ''takes seriously its responsibility to hold accountable federal government employees who violate federal law within our jurisdiction.''
Four former officials who are familiar with how internal investigations work at intelligence agencies told BuzzFeed News there are many reasons that prosecutors might not pursue a criminal case. One of them, familiar with the workings of the CIA's Office of the Inspector General, said the agency is concerned that in a criminal case, it could lose control of sensitive information.
The former official, who reviewed the declassified inspector general reports, characterized the concern from CIA lawyers as, ''We can't have these people testify, they may inadvertently be forced to disclose sources and methods.''
The official, who noted the agency has had a problem with child abuse images stretching back decades, said they understand the need to protect ''sensitive and classified equities.'' However, ''for crimes of a certain class whether it's an intelligence agency or not, you just have to figure out how to prosecute these people.''
Want to support more reporting like this? Become a BuzzFeed News member today.Sexual crimes involving children, including the viewing of images of abuse, have been uncovered at other agencies that handle sensitive information. In a November 2009 report, the Department of Defense acknowledged that dozens of Pentagon staff members or contractors had such images. In 2014, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community found that two officials from the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees America's spy satellites, acknowledged viewing images of child sexual abuse during polygraph examinations.
At a symposium in 2016, Daniel Payne, a top Pentagon security official, said that when workers' computers were examined, ''the amount of child porn I see is just unbelievable.''
Olivier Doulier / Pool / Getty ImagesCIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia
The child abuse revelations are drawn from an unprecedented release of reports by the CIA's Office of the Inspector General.
BuzzFeed News gained access to these documents after a decadelong pursuit, which included 13 public records requests and three separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
Those requests, the earliest of which date back to 2012, were for investigations closed by the Office of the Inspector General, which acts independently of the agency to examine misconduct by employees or contractors.
New requests were filed each subsequent year. At first the CIA did not respond to the requests; then, it said it would take years to provide any documents. Those requests were followed in 2014, 2015, and 2020 by lawsuits, and the agency entered into negotiations about what documents to release. The coronavirus pandemic delayed the process by a year, but the agency finally began to release the documents in March and will release the final set in December.
BuzzFeed News is publishing the reports here for public review.
Among more than 3,000 pages, covering the years 2004 to 2019, are investigations big and small involving billing irregularities by contractors, a spy who expensed a visit to an overseas ''gentleman's club,'' and an employee who used government computer systems to resell more than 700 items purchased at yard sales.
Other reports have been the subject of previous news coverage, such as the CIA's involvement in the production of the film Zero Dark Thirty, the torture of detainees held at black site prisons, and a decades-old operation in Peru that led to the death of missionaries.
More recent reports show that a CIA employee was investigated in October 2018 for using agency computer systems and databases to conduct ''unofficial searches'' on her brother, and that the inspector general substantiated allegations in a January 2018 memorandum that another CIA employee violated the Hatch Act, which limits political activity by civil servants in the executive branch.
The documents also reveal the pattern of sexual abuse cases, whereby internal investigators unearthed evidence of sexual crimes involving children but federal prosecutors brought no charges.
As is typical of intelligence documents, the records have been heavily redacted. Among the information that has been hidden are the names of the accused employees and contractors and details about their jobs at the CIA. The agency cites privacy reasons, national security, and a federal law that exempts the CIA from disclosing details about its operations.
Obtained via FOIAA heavily redacted report from the CIA inspector general
''Not knowing the identities of the suspects is a hindrance in identifying these cases and why they were declined,'' the spokesperson for the Eastern District of Virginia said.
Of the 10 workers who the inspector general found had committed sexual crimes involving children, five were fired or resigned. Four others were referred to a personnel board or the Office of Security, which investigates classified leaks and is responsible for the safety of CIA facilities.
The outcome of one case '-- in which 10 child sexual abuse images were discovered on a CIA computer that had been left unattended '-- is unknown. The employee to whom that device was assigned said he switched computers while he was overseas. He denied using it to view such material.
In an eleventh case, the inspector general received a complaint in November 2016 that an employee used a government computer to view child sexual abuse images. Although the investigators couldn't corroborate the allegation, they discovered that he had shown a ''consistent interest and pattern of [redacted] conversations involving sexual activities between adults and minors.''
The inspector general alerted security officials and the Directorate of Science and Technology because the accusation raised ''potential security and accountability issues.'' Details of how the case was resolved, and any penalties the employee faced, are redacted.
Beyond the CIA's handling of these cases, questions linger over why US attorneys chose not to charge anyone, even when they seemed to have significant evidence.
Prosecutors generally have wide discretion over whether to bring criminal charges. They can judge the evidence too old or weak, consider a crime victim's desire to proceed with prosecution, and weigh the chances of convincing a jury.
''The occupation or employer of the suspect does not factor into that evaluation,'' the spokesperson for the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said. ''While we cannot comment on the reasons why specific cases were declined, we do take very seriously any allegation that our prosecutors declined a potential case based on an improper assessment of the relevant factors.''
It appears that at least half of the sexual abuse investigations originated with a confession. The documents do not spell out the circumstances surrounding those statements, or whether they emerged during grueling ''full-scope'' polygraph examinations that can probe every part of CIA employees' and contractors' lives.
During those screenings, one former intelligence official told BuzzFeed News, it is not uncommon for a candidate to admit unlawful behavior in order to prove they aren't lying '-- only later to realize that their statement might have sunk their chance to work for the agency and even put them in legal jeopardy.
Such statements are sent to the inspector general, which then tries to collect evidence proving the crime occurred. But that gives the subject time to delete or destroy evidence, said the former official.
That's what happened in January 2010, when a CIA contractor logged into a chatroom using an agency IP address and solicited sex from an FBI agent posing as a child. The contractor acknowledged an obsession with child sexual abuse images, but by the time the inspector general obtained a search warrant and seized the man's computer, someone had ''removed the hard drives and thrown them away,'' according to the reports.
Another CIA employee signed an affidavit admitting he used a government laptop to view photographs and videos of girls as young as 10 being abused by an ''older guy.''
The employee acknowledged that he first began seeking child sexual abuse images while he was in college, and viewed as many as 1,400 while on assignment for the agency. He told CIA investigators that he was ''truly sorry'' but also said ''he did not understand that it was a violation of agency policy to access child pornography until he took the Agency Information Security Course.''
When the inspector general examined the man's computers, however, no such images were visible. A federal prosecutor declined to charge the man in ''favor of administrative action'' by the CIA. The personnel board's recommendation is redacted.
But in several of the cases, prosecutors had plenty to go on.
During an investigation that ended in August 2009, an official with a security clearance acknowledged having sexual contact with two girls, ages 2 and 6, and downloading illicit images while working for the CIA. The inspector general started a broad inquiry and attempted to identify the victims.
The investigators found that he had ''extensively'' downloaded abuse material, such as 63 videos of children between 8 and 16. The man regularly used government Wi-Fi to download the material, he distributed it to others, and he brought the photos back into the US after he returned from a trip overseas.
Despite the admissions and the evidence that investigators found on his devices, prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia declined to take up a criminal case. They told the inspector general there were ''taint issues,'' a term that is sometimes used to refer to mishandled evidence. The attorneys also said that the girls in those videos had not been ''previously identified child pornography victims,'' making it harder to prove they were minors.
By contrast, in the only two cases known to have led to criminal charges, both parties were also accused of serious offenses related to classified information.
According to an Aug. 6, 2013, inspector general report, an investigation into a CIA contractor suspected of being in possession of child sexual abuse images turned up classified material stored on his personal hard drive and ''numerous technical documents related to the Agency's systems'' on his laptop. The contractor was fired and stripped of his security clearance. He later pleaded guilty to the child abuse charges and registered as a sex offender. The report says the contractor was sentenced, but the details, along with his name, were redacted.
In the other case, CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte was charged in 2018 with possession of child sexual abuse images as part of a much larger investigation into the largest leak of classified information in the agency's history. Known as Vault 7 and published by WikiLeaks, the trove of documents revealed secret tools that the CIA used to hack into computers. It was prosecuted under the Espionage Act.
Schulte faces a separate trial on the child sexual abuse charges. He has pleaded not guilty. '—
Read the CIA inspector general reports on child abuse
Read the hundreds of reports from the CIA inspector general obtained by BuzzFeed News
American Medical Association declares moratorium on 'morbidly obese' and other problematic terms - Rebel News
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:46
The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) have declared a moratorium on politically incorrect terms like ''morbidly obese,'' ''homeless,'' and ''handicapped'' to protect the sensitivities of the hypersensitive.
Like other industries, the medical field is undergoing woke chemotherapy and expunging its colonialist history.
In a jointly published language guide titled Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts, the medical associations stipulate that these terms should instead be referred to as ''people who are experiencing (condition or disability type).''
As previously detailed by Rebel News, doctors, nurses, and psychologists are instructed to recognize the race, gender, and identity of their patients in the 55-page document.
The document's publication follows other language guides in higher education, including the University of New Hampshire's Bias Free guide in 2015, as detailed by Campus Reform, and the University of Pittsburgh's gender-inclusive language guide, as reported by Rebel News. The CDC has also published a ''non-stigmatizing language guide.''
Across the pond, British universities have also followed suit with a variety of ''inclusive'' language guides, including at the University of Manchester, which advised students and teachers to abolish the terms ''mother'' and ''father,'' and to replace them with the gender-inclusive term ''guardian,'' Rebel News reported.
Schools in Australia and nursing schools in the U.K. have not been spared by the inclusion of social justice rhetoric in education.
Under the AMA and AAMC's equity guide, physicians are advised to provide ''equity-focused alternatives'' as a replacement for common terms.
Medical students and practicing physicians are told to capitalize the word ''Black,'' and lowercase the term ''white,'' and use that in place of the term ''Caucasian.'' The guide also advises doctors to use the term ''social justice'' in place of ''fairness'' wherever possible.
''Fairness is a hope for an outcome,'' the guide states. ''In the legal system, one could say that each side in a trial having a lawyer to represent them is fair. But the justice system may favor the wealthy over the poor.''
The guide advises medical practitioners to use terms like ''people who smoke'' and ''people with alcohol use disorder'' in place of ''smokers'' and ''alcoholics.'' Homeless derelicts are to be referred to as ''persons who are not securely housed.'' Because a cardboard box under a bridge offers little protection from the elements, one assumes.
''The dominant narratives in American medicine and society reflect the values and interests of the historically more privileged socioeconomic groups '-- white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgendered, male, wealthy, English-speaking, Christian, U.S.-born,'' said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. stated on October 28.
''Words matter,'' said Philip Alberti, PhD, founding director of the AAMC Center for Health Justice stated, echoing Harmon's remarks. ''They matter because they have the power to perpetuate or to dismantle structural racism, to empower a person or to marginalize them, to reinforce a harmful traditional narrative or to provide an alternative one.''
One day, rather than tackling the obesity epidemic and preventing alcoholics from drinking their livers to death, doctors will be concerned with ensuring that the people of fat will have their feelings securely catered to as they're fed donuts into terminal heart disease.
Here's Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult To Understand (And Three Ways To Fix It)
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:45
New Line Cinema By Ben Pearson / Nov. 30, 2021 1:16 pm EST / Updated: Dec. 1, 2021 1:12 pm ESTI used to be able to understand 99% of the dialogue in Hollywood films. But over the past 10 years or so, I've noticed that percentage has dropped significantly '-- and it's not due to hearing loss on my end. It's gotten to the point where I find myself occasionally not being able to parse entire lines of dialogue when I see a movie in a theater, and when I watch things at home, I've defaulted to turning the subtitles on to make sure I don't miss anything crucial to the plot.
Knowing I'm not alone in having these experiences, I reached out to several professional sound editors, designers, and mixers, many of whom have won Oscars for their work on some of Hollywood's biggest films, to get to the bottom of what's going on. One person refused to talk to me, saying it would be "professional suicide" to address this topic on the record. Another agreed to talk, but only under the condition that they remain anonymous. But several others spoke openly about the topic, and it quickly became apparent that this is a familiar subject among the folks in the sound community, since they're the ones who often bear the brunt of complaints about dialogue intelligibility.
"It's not easy to mix a movie," says Jaime Baksht, who took home an Oscar for his work on last year's excellent "Sound of Metal" and previously worked on Alfonso Cuar"n's "Roma." "Everybody thinks you're just moving levers, but it's not like that."
This problem indeed goes far beyond simply flipping a switch or two on a mixing board. It's much more complex than I anticipated, and it turns out there isn't one simple element that can be singled out and blamed as the primary culprit.
"There are a number of root causes," says Mark Mangini, the Academy Award-winning sound designer behind films like "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Blade Runner 2049." "It's really a gumbo, an accumulation of problems that have been exacerbated over the last 10 years ... that's kind of this time span where all of us in the filmmaking community are noticing that dialogue is harder and harder to understand."
Join me and these industry experts as we sort through that "gumbo" and identify some of the most prominent reasons it has become more difficult to, in the paraphrased words of Chris Tucker's Detective Carter in "Rush Hour," understand the words that are coming out of characters' mouths.
It's A Purposeful Choice Warner Bros.When it comes to dialogue unintelligibility, one name looms above all others: Christopher Nolan. The director of "Tenet," "Interstellar," and "The Dark Knight Rises" is one of the most successful filmmakers of his generation, and he uses his power to make sure his films push the boundaries of sound design, often resulting in scenes in which audiences literally cannot understand what his characters say. And it's not just audiences who have trouble with some Nolan films: the director has even revealed that other filmmakers have reached out to him to complain about this issue in his movies.
Donald Sylvester, who took home an Oscar for his work on "Ford v Ferrari" and is currently serving as the supervising sound editor of "Indiana Jones 5," says Nolan is a singular figure in this regard. "I think Christopher Nolan wears it as a badge of honor," Sylvester declares. "I don't think he cares. I think he wants people to give him bad publicity because then he can explain his methods to everybody and we can all learn. But I don't think other people actually understand it."
Baksht thinks the complaints about Nolan's work, specifically the hubbub about unintelligibility surrounding last year's twisty action thriller "Tenet," are overblown. "I think in the case of Mr. Nolan, with ["Tenet"], the characters have a mask, and he wants to keep the original sound because I think for him it's more real," he says. Presumably, that mentality also extends to "The Dark Knight Rises," in which Bane's mask muffled a significant percentage of that character's lines.
Thomas Curley, who won an Oscar as a production sound mixer on "Whiplash" and previously worked on "The Spectacular Now," has also seen this type of mentality at work. "Not everything really has a very crisp, cinematic sound to it in real life, and I think some of these people are trying to replicate that," he tells me.
Baksht says that type of creative aesthetic does not need to permeate an entire movie '-- it can sometimes change from scene to scene depending on the director's goals in telling the story. Although, as this anecdote illustrates, its effectiveness remains debatable:
"In the case of Alejandro Gonzlez I±rritu, he did a movie ['Biutiful'] where all the dialogue was really dirty. They were in Spanish, but you weren't able to understand much. When I asked his sound designer about this issue, he told me the reason they wanted to keep the dirty dialogue was because the situation was so awful in the life of the character that it helped the feeling of depression. I told him, 'Yes, I think the audience got depressed because they couldn't understand anything!' But when [I±rritu] did 'The Revenant,' the dialogue was pristine and perfect."
I understand his point, although I take issue with using "The Revenant" as an example of pristine dialogue because that film features Tom Hardy in a supporting role, and Hardy is one of the most notoriously difficult-to-understand actors working today.
It's in the Acting Warner Bros.Hardy occupies a unique position in film acting these days, having developed a delivery style that's frequently so indecipherable it's as if he's purposefully challenging audiences to lean in and understand what he's saying. But what about actors who aren't quite on that level of unintelligibility?
"It seems to be a little bit of a fad with some actors to do the sort of soft delivery or under your breath delivery of some lines," Curley says. "That's a personal choice for them. Our job is to record it as well as we can regardless."
Mangini says that in the old days, "you could count on an actor's theatricality to deliver a line to the back seats." But acting styles have changed so dramatically over the years that it has become much more difficult to capture great sound on the set. When actors adopt that more naturalistic style, "it's even harder for the production sound mixer to capture really quality sound. Now we get those compromised microphone positions here in post-production, reaching for a dialogue line that is barely intelligible or maybe even mumbled because it's an acting style, and already, we're behind the 8-ball in trying to figure out a way to make all of those words intelligible."
Karen Baker Landers, whose credits include "Gladiator," "Skyfall," and "Heat," among many others, has her own term for it. "Mumbling, breathy, I call it self-conscious type of acting, is so frustrating," she says. "I would say a lot of the younger actors have adopted that style. I think the onus also falls on the directors to say, 'I can't understand a word you're saying. I'm listening to dailies, and I can't understand.' No amount of volume is going to fix that."
That naturalistic performance style might feel right for actors in the moment on set, but it can be hell for the sound professionals who have to clean it up afterward. "We're very careful to make sure there's clarity," Baker Landers says. "You go in and you volume-graph up a vowel, or one letter. You go in and you surgically '' maybe if it's not right on camera, you slow it down. There's all kinds of things we spend hours trying to do that may help a performance. We really strive for that."
But they can only do so much.
Sound Isn't Respected Enough On Sets CriterionAnother ingredient in this complicated gumbo is how the sound team is treated during the process of filming.
"What we see from our brothers and sisters in production is a never-ending [complaint] that they don't get the respect they need to get the microphone where it needs to be to capture the sound clearly," Mangini says. "That's because as movies have matured in the last 15 years, movies have become more visually exciting. And because of that, it is less likely that you're going to be allowed to put that boom mic right where the actor is, because it's probably going to drop a shadow because it's in front of a light that the camera team insists has to exist to get the perfect look of the shot. So [the visuals have] taken precedence over what we hear."
Sylvester agrees with that sentiment. "If the sound guy goes, 'Can you get one more take for me?' they go, 'Nope, we're wrapping. We've gotta move on to another setup.' It's because pictures are the most important thing, and we do a good job fixing sound at the end of the day. So they go, 'We'll fix it in post.' That's literally their go-to answer. 'I just need to get this.' 'Yeah, we'll fix it later.' And we do, unfortunately. But it's not because we want to. It's because we have to."
Another "Whiplash" Oscar winner, Craig Mann, acknowledges that less time on set can have a negative effect on the sound crews. "There's more demand on crews to do many setups a day, and that could be a contributing factor," he says. "The production sound guy is the tip of the spear in terms of our first line of defense, and oftentimes if there are problems, the good ones will approach the director or the AD or the DP and say, 'Hey, this isn't working, you're going to miss this.' Oftentimes it gets handled. But on the other side, sometimes there are a lot of production sound guys that do not feel empowered or have had a bad experience about speaking up in the past, or whatever the reason is, and the material gets back to the cutting room and it's a mess, and [they say], 'Well, we thought everything was fine!'"
"I would blame it more on schedule and budget and maybe trying to rush," Baker Landers says when this topic arises. "It's an art form to be a dialogue editor. It's an art form to be a great production recordist. Then to be able to get the clarity of dialogue in a mix with everything else going on and have the dialogue feel natural and not forced is another art form, all of which take time. Budgets and schedules are crunched on a lot of projects, and some of these are amazing films."
Technology (AKA The Jurassic Park Problem) UniversalOne high-profile Hollywood sound professional who wishes to remain anonymous points to the evolution of technology as an ingredient. "The reason people don't remember having these same audio issues with older films is that [now] we have more: more tracks to play with, more options, therefore more expected and asked for from the sound editors," they say. "If you listen to, say, 'Four Weddings and a Funeral,' you'll hear every word ... the sound was cut on film back then, and with limited time, track count, and budget, these are the results you got."
Thomas Curley concurs with that assessment:
"A lot of it has probably happened more recently because of the almost ubiquitous use of digital audio and digital cinema now. Part of the reason with that is because when everything was shot on film and edited with tape, it was a much more laborious process and it was much more technically challenging to do a whole lot with sound design. Everything had to be a very conscious choice and a very intentional soundscape that they create. Since it was so cost-intensive and labor-intensive, they wanted to make sure that the story got across first and emotion gets sort of directed with music, and that's about it. And every pass that you do with an analogue system depletes the quality as well: it's like making a photocopy of a photocopy. But now, they have much faster turnarounds and much more capabilities as far as what they can do with the sound design, including playing around with ambience and sound effects. To put a concrete reason on it is hard, but a lot of it comes down to 'I have this toy, so I'm going to play with it.'"
The anonymous sound pro also pointed to what they view as an increase in the amount of music in modern movies compared to older films, bemoaning directors' over-reliance on music as "pushing emotion" on audiences and the way music and dialogue are forced to jostle for prominence in the mix. "The technology we have today is so vastly improved that there is no limit to what can be added: whatever the director wants, for months on end. We literally have hundreds of tracks at our disposal ... in a final mix, we therefore have a lot to deal with. Unending score smashed up against hundreds of tracks, with the client asking to hear every nuance above every other nuance."
Curley sums it up beautifully. "It might fall into the realm of the 'Jurassic Park' thing: they spend so much time realizing that they can do all these things, but not thinking about if they should do all these things."
Familiarity/Passive Listening Filmways PicturesAll four of those contributing factors to dialogue unintelligibility are the result of decisions made on sets. But by the time a film makes it to post-production, editors can be afflicted by something Karen Baker Landers calls "passive listening." Donald Sylvester has another name for it '' "familiarity" '-- and it's exactly what you think it is.
"What I mean by familiarity is, when we're making a movie, it takes a long time," says Sylvester. "It takes weeks and months. If there's something that's unclear at first and you turn to the guy next to you and go, 'What did he say?' and he's like, 'Bring the car around the garage.' The next time you hear it, you go, 'Oh, OK, got it. Bring the car around the garage.' But they get familiar with the bad sound to the point where they no longer find it to be a problem."
Mark Mangini puts it like this:
"The director is sick of talking to the writer and giving them rewrites, sick of talking to the actors and giving them line reads, and by the time you get to post, every single syllable is known by heart. So imagine what that creates in a sound mix where we're supposed to correct the dialogue. We're no longer critically listening like we should be. Because we're in fact zoning out on whether or not the audience is actually getting the critical information they need. We know what the critical information is: we've been dealing with it for months. So in a sense, we have to challenge ourselves daily '' and we certainly do this in sound '' to try to remove ourselves from that equation and re-inject ourselves with a fresh perspective to see if we're actually making clear dialogue such that the audience understands it."
In Craig Mann's experience, though, the idea of familiarity is not a widespread issue. "As someone that does this on a daily basis, I think dialogue clarity is the number one priority on the mixing stage," he tells me. "Dialogue, music, and effects, in that order, is usually the chain of priority. If you can't hear the dialogue, we're going to find a way to hear it. Just speaking of the couple things that we've done even this past year, I can say Joe Carnahan, writer/director, wants to hear every word. Tyler Perry, we just did something with him, wants to hear every word. Sean Penn wants to hear every word. So I don't necessarily agree with getting numb to it. I think it's incumbent upon us to have that fresh ear every time we show up."
Sylvester also points out that unfamiliarity may be an issue in some instances. "What I'm wondering is if, sometimes, some of these films that we see, people are saying words that we don't know what they mean, such as 'Dune,' where they start talking about characters and places that sound unfamiliar. They do it in such a way, offhandedly, where it's like, 'What did he say?' Some of it is the content."
Mixing For Cinemas Summit EntertainmentOne of the most fascinating things I learned when speaking with these folks is the gulf in quality that can sometimes occur between what a film sounds like in the mixing stages and what it can sound like when it plays in a multiplex. Mann says this isn't a new problem '-- it's actually been happening for decades:
"You mix it at your level in the mixing room, and theoretically, that is supposed to be the same level that is represented in the movie theaters on the Dolby Cinema processors, therefore giving you an exact translation, more or less, of what you've done on the mixing stage. But what's happened is, particularly in the '90s, because that felt like the time when they were doing the loudest mixes '' I didn't mix in those times, but the stories were that mixers and maybe directors would want stuff mixed at a level that was just ear-bleeding. And what would happen is, that would get to the theater, there would be complaints from the patrons, and the theater would be compelled to turn down the mix. And when the next feature came in the next week, the level was never reset, and now that level is playing way low for the regularly mixed movie. That's a problem that vendors have been dealing with for many years. I know [it's still happening]. For example, the Landmark Theater chain does not play their theaters above 5.5 on the cinema processor, where the set standard is supposed to be 7 on that processor.
The idea that a significant theater chain would purposefully ignore industry standards for something as crucial as sound is genuinely shocking. I reached out to Landmark's customer service and asked them directly about this issue, but they did not respond in time for publication.
Thankfully, I have not heard any similar stories about AMC Theaters, the largest theater chain in the United States. However, I was curious about the configurations that occur when a new sound system is installed in an AMC cinema, how frequently their systems are upgraded or replaced, and how the company maintains quality sound conditions across its vast empire of theaters. I reached out to AMC, and they responded with this statement:
In general, our guest feedback, both recently and stretching back the last several years, does not match your assessment about dialogue becoming more difficult to understand. Among guest feedback, which is tracked through survey results and through incoming contacts from guests, there has not been an increase in complaints as a result of the audio, regardless of the type of movie. Regarding your questions about our sound equipment, our speakers and sound systems are calibrated upon installation. They are routinely checked, and recalibrated whenever necessary to ensure the best possible sound quality.
Additionally, for guests who would like to follow the dialogue on screen, AMC now offers Open Caption showtimes at 240 of our locations, and in every major market in the United States with at least two AMC theatres.
Meanwhile, Baker Landers thinks part of the trouble may have begun when theaters shifted away from projecting movies on film. In that transition, union projectionists '-- the people who knew the ins and outs of how to properly present a movie with care '-- were largely kicked to the curb in favor of inexperienced employees who essentially pressed play on a digital system and could then busy themselves doing other tasks. She tells me a story about how she went to see one of her own movies at a big multiplex and the auditory experience was so bad, she was compelled to point it out to the manager.
"I did a film that was [played] at a 4 [out of 7 on the processor scale]," she says, still appalled by the memory. "I was at a matinee with a lot of elderly people because I took my mom, and I'm like, 'None of these people can hear what's happening.' The manager, who was probably all of 22 years old, said, 'Well, that's how the film was done.' And I said, 'No, I did the sound on the film. That's not how it was done.'"
When sound pros encounter those dumbfounding levels of separation between the mixing stages and theaters, Mann says there can be a schism about the best way to move forward:
"You're going to have some people on the mixing stage who want to turn [up that volume higher than the standard of 7] to compensate for the fact that theaters are playing it low. But [if you do that,] when you go to those theaters that are calibrated correctly, you're going to blow the doors off that theater because it's going to be ripping loud. So one thing we always try to tell our people is that you have to be happy with the mix in the properly calibrated environment, and when you go down to your local movieplex, the speaker could be blown, the level could be low, God knows what's going to happen when you're out in the wild, and we can't control all of that."
Baker Landers knows on which side of that divide she falls. "We mix and release the film for the best case scenario, saying, 'This is how it should be.' A lot of times, we'll hear people say, 'They're not going to be able to hear this in certain theaters in the Midwest, so should we do this louder?' But then you don't have a standard any longer. You have to say, 'This is the standard. We're doing it for the optimum viewing experience.' And hopefully theaters and everyone else rise to that."
Mixing For Streaming Top_CNX/ShutterstockMixing sound for theaters can be tough, but mixing sound specifically for streaming has its own set of challenges. "We, in fact, do a separate mix for streaming," Mangini says (although I later learned this isn't true for every single movie across the board). But since nothing is ever easy, another problem arises when streaming enters the picture: compression. In layman's terms, think of compression as audio files basically being shrunk down in order to be efficiently transported across the Internet to your viewing device. That process sounds almost magical, doesn't it? It is '-- until you realize that those shrunken files are of significantly lower quality than what you'd get if you watched that same movie on a Blu-ray. (If you're keeping score at home, this is yet another point in favor of preserving physical media at all costs.)
"Very often, the streamed audio is a compressed version that you wouldn't get on a Blu-ray," Mangini explains:
"On Blu-ray, if you select 7.1, that is our full fidelity, 48 kilohertz, 24-bit master audio, just as it came from the mixing studio. You can get that on a Blu-ray, and you can get that on certain premium platforms. I think you have to pay extra money for that. But otherwise, it's most common that when you stream, you get a degraded version of what you mix that even we didn't approve. It's done after the fact, after we ship the masters. The only way [streamers] can get the bandwidth they need for you to see image and sound in sync is to compress everything."
Compression is inescapable when streaming is involved, but it turns out not all streaming platforms are created equal. Craig Mann tells me something he says "is not well-known" outside the sound community: different streamers have different specifications when it comes to their audio mixes. "Netflix has excellent specs in terms of dialogue norm and overall levels," he reveals. "They need a particular level in order to pass quality control, and the level is essentially based on the dialogue level throughout the length of the program."
But since there's no industry standard in how to measure audio for streaming, other platforms base their levels on other parts of the sound mix. Case in point: Mann recently worked on Joe Carnahan's "Boss Level," which was originally meant to be a theatrical release. "For a variety of reasons, it ended up at Hulu, and when we got a look at that spec, they require it to be based on the overall [volume] of the film, not on the dialogue level of the film. Consequently, that's a big action movie with shooting and cars and big music, and the result of that is that you have a much more squashed up, un-impactful mix ... there are only a couple different ways of measuring these things these days, and I can only imagine that it's somebody just not understanding the reason why it should be this and not that."
Home Theater Woes Searchlight PicturesThere is yet another important variable in this sprawling equation, and it might be the most important one of all: the home theater experience. "Ultimately, the historical record of the film will not be seen in theaters, it will be what you see in your home theater," Karen Baker Landers says. "That's how most people see certain products. So you want it to be great."
For audio mixers, the theatrical mix comes first, followed by a streaming mix. Then, a stereo mix will often be created, funneling the full scope of the sound mix through just two simple speakers in a process Donald Sylvester likens to "taking a beautiful steak and dragging it through the dirt."
"A lot of people watch it on their flatscreen with their sound bar and they think it's going to be an improved sound situation, but it may not translate," says Sylvester:
"Some TVs take the 5.1 [surround sound mix] and they turn it into a stereo. They have algorithms inside the TV. It's not even our mix. We don't even know what it sounds like. I think a lot of tuners do that, if you have a receiver '-- I know they have algorithms, and they also put coloring on it, like 'cinema approach' that adds reflection and noise and stuff that you don't want in the mix. That's another problem. You don't know how it's being presented in the home."
Complicating matters even further is the unfortunate fact that "not every filmmaker knows that you have to rebalance your film so it plays differently on a home theater," Baker Landers explains. "That's a big problem. Because if you've mixed this for spread in a theater and you just do a simple transfer with some kid at night who doesn't know what they're doing, who didn't [work on] the movie [originally], there's a huge problem with that. I think that problem needs to be addressed. People who aren't in the industry complain to me all the time: 'Why can't I understand the dialogue? Why am I always riding the levels? The music comes in huge.'"
Craig Mann tells me most modern movies are required to create a separate mix for home video, but there is still the occasional film which decides to skip that step in the process. "Those mixes often have less dynamic range than the theater mix," Mann says. "If you're really having to ride the volume around a lot, chances are they didn't have a home theater mix on that."
So, How Do We Fix This? Touchstone PicturesNow that we know the key issues that are contributing to this lack of intelligibility, what can be done to make things more intelligible? From the sound of it, this problem is going to require a multi-pronged approach.
One prong involves educating people about the importance of sound, from studio execs to the filmmakers themselves. "There's a lot of people who don't prioritize sound," says Thomas Curley. "They know that they need to have it, but they don't necessarily think about it in a very creative way and don't really like to bother with it much."
"Sound is still a mystery to a lot of people," Karen Baker Landers asserts. "It's intangible. With picture, you see it. You understand." Ironically, that lack of understanding of how sound works trickles down to audiences literally not being able to understand what characters are saying on screen. Perhaps if the processes of capturing, creating, and shaping great sound were better understood throughout the industry, substantial steps to improving those processes could be implemented.
Another prong involves sound professionals consistently finding ways to up their game to meet the changing circumstances of the moment. "We can do better in post in terms of how we manage those mixes that are designed specifically for a non-pristine sound environment," Mark Mangini admits. "I would argue that we're probably not doing a good enough job with those mixes, and part of it might be that the individuals who are working in those mixes probably have a really super duper sound system at home and they're not fully aware of how compromised the home environment can be."
That involves thinking outside the box and staying vigilant about the ways the average person is watching a movie. "What can we do technically? I think it's our brain that's the technical solution to this," Donald Sylvester explains. "Because all these gadgets and tools that we use to plug into this are just tools to make the storytelling clearer or better or more exciting. They're just components. At the end of the day, you still have to have a brain telling you what needs to be heard, and when and how ... I think the solution is brain power and being aware of what we're losing in these new presentation environments that people are watching these films in."
The third and final prong involves having tough conversations on the set which establish priorities and make sure everyone is on the same page. Here's a story from Mangini illustrating how having a potentially awkward conversation can result in a change that has a notable improvement on the final product:
"There's a director I've worked with five times, and for four films, we have not had great sound. And this director only makes talky movies. Yet, we still have dialogue intelligibility problems. Mostly because the crew, unbeknownst to him, hasn't respected the sound team on set enough to give them the tools and access they need to get a great recording. It took four films with this director for me to finally get up the gumption to say, 'Dude, you keep telling me dialogue is king in your movies, but you don't put your money where your mouth is. This film, here's what you're going to do: you're going to call a department heads meeting, introduce your sound mixer, and you're going to say, 'See this individual? You have to listen to what he asks you to do, or you're going to answer to me.' And you know what? We got the best track we've ever got. All it took was a little bit of collaboration and communication, and all of a sudden, grip and electric are moving generators a hundred yards away instead of having them right around the corner from the set. It takes an infinitesimal amount of extra effort to get us close to what we need, but it takes somebody with authority to make it happen. Me as the sound designer, I'm not a loud enough voice. But a director is."
Sylvester offers an optimistic closing thought which underlines that point. "There's a lot of people who are moviemakers who aren't technicians, so they don't really understand a lot of this. They just like to make movies. But if we explain to them how we're not getting the message out properly and people aren't getting the message, maybe the artists themselves will take steps to fix it."
BREAKING: Federal Judge Rejects DOD Claim That Pfizer EUA And Comirnaty Vaccines Are 'Interchangeable' - CD Media
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:34
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A federal district court judge has rejected a claim by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being administered under Emergency Use Authorization is interchangeable with Pfizer's Comirnaty vaccine, which in August was fully licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In an order issued Nov. 12 in Doe et al. v. Austin, U.S. Federal District Judge Allen Winsor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida denied a preliminary injunction requested by 16 service members against the U.S. Military's COVID vaccine mandate. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2022.
However, the judge's acknowledgment that ''the DOD cannot mandate vaccines that only have an EUA'' is significant for two reasons'...
To read more visit Children's Health Defense.
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CONFLICT: Reuters Chairman is Pfizer Investor and Board Member.
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:24
The chairman and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Reuters news agency '' James C. Smith '' is a top investor and board member for pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer. He was elected to the board in 2014, as well as joining Pfizer's Corporate Governance and Science and Technology Committees. The news raises serious conflict of interest concerns as corporate media outlets such as Reuters continue to promote Pfizer products, defend pharmaceuticals companies from criticism, and move to silence skeptics.
Smith is currently the Chairman of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the London-based charity known for providing news and information to billions of readers. He was also the President, Chief Executive Officer, and on the Board of Director of Reuters from 2012 until his retirement in 2020.
He has worked with the organization since 1987, when they were known as the Thomson Newspaper group. He has also served as the CEO of the professional division, overseeing legal, tax and accounting, and intellectual property and science businesses. Later, he went on to lead the North America operations for the news organization.
In an official statement at the time, Ian Read, Pfizer's chairman and CEO said: ''We are pleased to have Jim Smith join Pfizer's Board of Directors. He brings leadership and operational and international business experience to Pfizer's Board, and will be an excellent asset to the company. The addition of Jim to our Board helps ensure that Pfizer will continue to benefit from a breadth and variety of experience.''
In the last year alone, Reuters has published more than 22,000 articles mentioning Pfizer. The company has only published 8,191 articles related to Moderna, and 18,000 related to Johnson & Johnson. Many of the articles about Johnson & Johnson were negative in sentiment, unlike their Pfizer reporting.
Smith is also linked to the World Economic Forum (WEF), where he serves on the board of Partnering Against Corruption Initiative. He's also a member of WEF's International Business Advisory Boards of British American Business and the Atlantic Council.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Smith also holds the position of President & CEO of Refinitiv Transaction Services, Ltd, who boasted $6.25 billion in revenue with more than 40,000 customers and 400,000 end users across 190 countries. Refinitiv was a member of the Thomson Reuters Group until 2018.
Meet Aladdin, the computer "more powerful than traditional politics" - New Statesman
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:20
(Photo By Shutterstock )The winter of early 1993 was a cold one in New York; the beginning of February saw the mercury drop below -13°C. Each morning of that winter Jody Kochansky would arrive at 6.30am at the Manhattan offices of BlackRock, and begin going through the printouts.
''I'm not a big morning person,'' Kochansky admits. To compound the early start, the first job of the day was also the most arduous: ''to take the risk reports, to flip the pages and literally to compare the portfolio as it looked today versus the portfolio as it looked the previous day, by hand.'' The first web browser would not be created until later that year; ''the delivery mechanism was paper'', but Kochansky and his team found a solution. ''We said, let's take this data, and rather than print it out, let's sort it into a database, and have the computer compare the report today versus the report yesterday, across every position.''
From a simple time-saving system designed while most of New York was still in bed, BlackRock's computer system has grown into the ''operating system'' for a company that has itself grown into the world's largest manager of financial assets. The system, now known as Aladdin, inhabits multiple datacentres '' warehouses filled with servers '' and is used by around 13,000 BlackRock employees and thousands more people at the company's clients, who pay for the analysis the system provides.
This is how much money Aladdin manages: if you took every last cent out of every bank in every country in the world, emptied the wallets and pockets and penny jars of all 7.6 billion people, if you rummaged down the back of every sofa and emptied every till and safe until you collected every scrap of currency in the world, you would have a pile of cash worth around five trillion dollars. The total value of assets under management by BlackRock is $6.3 trillion. But Aladdin also delivers risk analysis on the assets managed by its clients, which are valued at more than double that amount. Overall, Aladdin has an effect on the management of around ten per cent of the world's financial assets, or around $20 trillion. Over 25 years, it has grown into a system that is directly or indirectly responsible for more than four times the value of all the money in the world.
The first fintech
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I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy The fact that Aladdin demonstrates about financial technology is that it is not the technology itself that creates success, but how it is used. Kochansky says broker-dealers were using powerful mainframe computers to understand the risks that applied to different investments as far back as the 1980s. BlackRock's founders invested in new ''workstations'' '' ''cheaper computers, that cost tens of thousands rather than millions''. Their innovation was to use the cheaper computing power not only to sell securities, as others did, but to know the true value of what they were buying.
How does a computer know how risky something is? Kochansky says that the mathematics ''can be fairly complex'', but that Aladdin uses ''Monte Carlo simulations'', among other models, ''to try to see what happens to the security under different kinds of environments''. A Monte Carlo simulation is a type of algorithm that simulates the messy unpredictability of the real world within the deterministic order of mathematics. To do this, it uses random numbers to calculate not exactly what will happen, but what is likely to happen.
When BlackRock began applying this type of mathematics to building portfolios, they were run on a single Unix workstation that was ''literally the desktop computer for the trader,'' Kochansky remembers. ''But then at night we would use the compute resource to run our bond analytics, and the next morning the portfolio manager would get a fancy report that other buy-side organisations couldn't get.'' The ''fancy report'' would contain risk analytics on ''everything they owned. Every single day, our portfolio managers could see the risk on their entire portfolio.'' Today, when analytics are applied to everything from training athletes to selling deodorant, this would be expected, but in the early 1990s BlackRock was the first and only company to use data in this way.
''Nowadays the hot topic is fintech,'' say Kochansky. ''I like to think that we were one of the earliest fintechs.''
But BlackRock soon realised that the system should not just calculate risk. The next step was to use the system for ''position-keeping, record-keeping, and control''. The reason for this was that at the time, with risk calculated separately from positions, analytics were always one step behind trading. ''We realised that if you know how risky a security is, but you don't know how much you own, you don't really know your risk,'' he explains. ''You ultimately have to marry the risk calculations at the security level with the portfolio holdings to truly get a view of risk. We needed to know how much we owned.''
This insight was particularly important in the autumn of 1994, in the wake of a crisis in the bond market remembered by Fortune magazine as ''the Great Bond Massacre''. As bond prices fell, General Electric began looking for a buyer for a Wall Street broker-dealer that it owned. ''They went to other broker-dealers,'' Kochansky remembers, ''and said, hey, we've got this complex portfolio, can you provide a bid for it '' in other words, how much would you pay me for it?'' The bids GE received were low '' ''much lower than they had expected.'' Kochansky says this ''makes sense, because they were trying to move a big block of securities'' '' companies rarely get top dollar for their stock during a closing-down sale. The answer was to have BlackRock manage the portfolio, gradually selling it over time.
Kochansky and his team ''literally pulled three all-nighters in a row. We modelled the entire portfolio. It was very painful, lots of coffee. But when we were done '' wow.'' Incorporating a broker-dealer system into Aladdin was, says Kochansky, ''the moment when we realised that the platform was capable of doing a lot of things that we hadn't even contemplated at that time.''
By the mid-1990s, the system was able to ''rebalance'' portfolios ''in more automated ways''. Once a portfolio manager knew how risky their portfolio was and how much they owned of every security, they would look to invest in other securities, and Aladdin was designed to adjust the portfolio, to balance automatically the risk being introduced. It was in this way that Aladdin was given, says Kochansky, ''the ability to interact with the marketplace. In those early days, in the mid to late 90s, the vast majority of trading in fixed-income was really based on the telephone. People would pick up the phone and offer two-year notes and that kind of thing. So as the electronification of the marketplace was happening, we were building out the market-facing technologies.''
In 1999, BlackRock went public at $14 a share. Kochansky points to other moments in the firm's history when the company and its technological core had to be recalibrated. In 2006, BlackRock acquired Merrill-Lynch investment managers and ''we suddenly became very international, and we became very equity''. But it was the financial crisis of 2008 that really proved Aladdin as a significant influence on the global economy. As the government struggled to make sense of the febrile financial markets, asking an investment bank to help value the rest of Wall Street would have been, Kochansky puts it diplomatically, ''a potential conflict''. ''And so I think as these governments '' it wasn't just the US government '' looked around and asked who had the capabilities to gain the insight into what's happening in these portfolios, that's a relatively short list.'' Unlike an investment bank, BlackRock does not trade its own capital. This fact, coupled with its analytical prowess, gave it an unparalleled ability to value the twelve-figure refinancing deals needed to keep the US economy afloat. In 2010, Vanity Fair reported that ''BlackRock has effectively become the leading manager of Washington's bailout of Wall Street''. BlackRock's share price at time of writing was $521.
The simulated economy
While the world has changed dramatically since Kochansky started at BlackRock in 1992, he says that ''a lot of the mindset that was created then propagates today. The principles are the same. What we nowadays call Aladdin '' at the time, it didn't really have a name '' is the operating system for BlackRock.''
In 1994, when Kochansky and his team worked for 72 hours to rewrite Aladdin for the first time, ''the entire effort around Aladdin was maybe 40 or 50 people. Nowadays, within the Aladdin product group we have about 1,500 to 2,000 people that contribute to Aladdin in different forms.''
Physically, Aladdin occupies three datacentres in the United States. Unusually, these are owned by the company itself rather than a third party. The company is looking at opening a pair of datacentres in Europe. Kochansky says ''it's hard to characterise it exactly by number of computers, but one way to think about it is that we are running the risk analytics on tens of millions of securities.'' Every individual security is valued through ''thousands and thousands of Monte Carlo simulations, and each simulation is a matter of creating an economic scenario that's based in statistical grounding. One security manifests as millions of scenarios. So, we are running billions and billions of scenarios every single night and throughout the day.''
In a typical day, Kochansky adds, the cloud-based system will pass ''tens of billions of messages'' to distribute analytics to users and clients.
Every security that is analysed goes through ''the economy process'', which Kochansky describes as valuation in the context of every data point BlackRock can gather than might affect the economy '' ''a real-time snapshot of all sorts of market information. So, anything you could imagine that's going on in the marketplace '' what are the Treasury rates, what's the shape of the yield curve, what's going on in equities, what's the state of volatility. In the case of mortgages, you want to know stuff about the rate of inflation, home price appreciation trends by zip code. We call that 'the economy'.''
Every single one of the tens of millions of securities Aladdin analyses is valued against ''hundreds of thousands of data points each day'', in thousands of different ways.
Too big to fail?
In December 2013 Stanley Pignall, the Economist's finance correspondent, said of BlackRock that ''it's unprecedented to have a single firm that has such a grip on the way that not only itself, but its rivals, look at the world.'' While Pignall said BlackRock was not ''too big to fail'' in the sense that some banks had been '' as an asset manager it is not exposed to the same risks '' he said the sheer size and power of the Aladdin platform had some economists spooked.
The reason, said Pignall, was that so much value is now managed using Aladdin that if, for example, JP Morgan, Deutsche bank and some of the world's biggest sovereign wealth finds all use the same model, ''the risk is that they start finding certain types of assets attractive, or unattractive, at the same time. You'd get a herding of investors,'' Pignall suggested, similar to that ''in 2008, when too many people started listening to the credit rating agencies, and started buying products that were linked to subprime real estate in the US.''
Kochansky answers that ''it's important to recognise that Aladdin itself does not predict the future at all. Aladdin tells you what you have in your portfolio. It doesn't tell you what to buy.'' There are, for Aladdin, no good or bad bets '' there is only risk, in varying degrees.
''The enterprise clients have a separate instance of Aladdin,'' he adds, ''meaning that it's all their own data, running on separate computers, separate databases. They dial the models based on their views of the markets, their views of risk. Aladdin doesn't dictate to them how to run their business.''
Nor is Aladdin the only system in play. ''Keep in mind that the models in Aladdin are based on historical data. There are many providers in the marketplace that provide risk models based on historic data. Our models are world-class, but we're not the only model provider in the world,'' says Kochansky. Elsewhere, behemoths such as MSCI Barra and Bloomberg offer their models and systems that may influence still more value even than Aladdin. While Kochansky admits, memorably, that ''$20 trillion sounds like a lot of money,''there may be, ''in the grand scheme of the capital markets'', models that have still greater influence.
The idea that computer systems and financial models of this sort quietly underpin the value of almost everything in the world (everything that can be invested in, anyway) could be either frightening or reassuring. The filmmaker Adam Curtis has described Aladdin as ''a kind of power never seen before'... more powerful in some respects than traditional politics.''
On the other hand, if the principal aim of such a vastly influential system is the management of risk, it could be the steady hand that the markets of the future will need . A powerful stabilising technology such as Aladdin could yet be the source of ''Great Moderation'' that neoliberalism tried to deliver.
Either way, Aladdin is set to become more powerful still. BlackRock's $109bn research unit, the Systematic Active Equity division, has been investigating artificial intelligence for some time, and the company recently announced that it is building a new laboratory in California to develop this technology even further. As to what kind of future this creates for the world and its economy, Aladdin itself will probably be the first to know.
Dutch Cost-Benefit Analysis Done During Lockdown Concluded, ''The Costs Are Disproportionately High'' '' The Daily Sceptic
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:19
In a post written back in August, I said the following: ''To my knowledge, no Western government has published a cost-benefit analysis of lockdown (presumably due to what it might show).''
While this may have been technically correct '' since I said ''published'' '' it appears that at least one Western country did carry out a cost-benefit analysis (though that analysis was never published).
According to Dutch newspaper Het Parool, documents obtained via freedom of information request show that the Ministry of Economic Affairs carried out a cost-benefit analysis in March/April of 2020. (Hat tip to Michael Senger for bringing the Dutch newspaper article to my attention.)
The FOI request was apparently made by a 66 year old lockdown sceptic by the name of Jan van der Zanden, who just assumed the Ministry of Economic Affairs would have tried to gauge the costs and benefits.
What did the Ministry conclude? In short, that the costs of lockdown far outweighed the benefits.
They assumed that one year of lockdown would prevent the loss of about 100,000 QALYs (quality-adjusted life years). And they attached a value of '‚¬80,000 to each QALY, which is the typical upper limit applied in analyses of this kind. Hence the expected benefits of lockdown were '‚¬8 billion.
As to costs, they projected an economic contraction of '‚¬40 billion, a loss of '‚¬25 billion due to the cessation of regular healthcare, plus a loss of '‚¬5 billion due to the ''psychological consequences'' of lockdown. Total expected costs were therefore '‚¬70 billion '' almost nine times greater than the benefits.
The authors concluded that the ''costs are disproportionately high''. They also said that ''a one sided focus on mortality should be avoided'' and the ''health of the elderly should not be given an indisputable priority''.
The authors even proposed an alternative to lockdown, which involved expanding care and testing capacity to ''get society going again''. Widespread testing would mean that infectious people could be isolated ''in a targeted manner'' and those who had ''built up immunity'' could return to work.
In the end, of course, the analysis by the Ministry of Economic Affairs was ignored. To date, the Dutch have endured 144 days of curfews and stay-at-home orders, along with assorted other restrictions. And the country has just entered another ''partial lockdown'' in response to rising infections.
Het Parool contacted Eric Wiebes, who served as Dutch finance minister through January 2021. However, he ''declined to respond to questions'' about the cost-benefit analysis. This suggests the original probably conclusion probably hasn't been overturned.
Britain buys 114m extra vaccine doses to battle Covid-19 | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:16
A FOURTH and FIFTH jab to fight Covid : UK orders 114m extra vaccine doses - enough to keep country supplied with booster shots for two more yearsMinisters have purchased 114 million additional doses of Covid-19 vaccines The supply of Moderna and Pfizer jabs will provide security for 2022 and 2023Ministers sped up the negotiations after the emergence of the Omicron strain By Sean Wooller Health Correspondent For The Daily Mail
Published: 17:33 EST, 1 December 2021 | Updated: 05:56 EST, 2 December 2021
Ministers have bought 114million more doses of coronavirus vaccines that can be tweaked to protect against new variants.
The extra Moderna and Pfizer jabs will be delivered in 2022 and 2023, giving the UK a steady supply for the next two years.
The Department of Health said they 'accelerated' the signing of the new contracts in light of the newly discovered Omicron strain.
The deal suggests ministers are preparing to boost the nation's immunity for at least the next two winters.
The UK government has purchased an additional 114 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines
Moderna will supply 60million additional doses and Pfizer/BioNTech 54million
Moderna will supply 60million additional doses and Pfizer/BioNTech 54million.
This is on top of the 35million additional doses of Pfizer/BioNTech jabs ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60million Novavax and 7.5million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022.
The new deal '' negotiated by the UK's Vaccine Taskforce '' ensures access to modified vaccines if they are needed to combat Omicron or future variants of concern.
It comes as ministers today unveil a major advertising campaign designed to encourage people to come forward for their third shot as soon as they are notified by the NHS.
Today's deal comes on the first anniversary of UK regulators becoming the first in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine '' a move which sparked this year's world-beating jabs rollout. It is the clearest sign yet that ministers are planning to run an annual booster programme against Covid for at least the next two years.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: 'Thanks to the Vaccine Taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.
'These new deals will future-proof the Great British vaccination effort '' which has so far delivered more than 115million first, second and booster jabs across the UK '' and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead.
Today's deal comes on the first anniversary of UK regulators becoming the first in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine '' a move which sparked this year's world-beating jabs rollout. It is the clearest sign yet that ministers are planning to run an annual booster programme against Covid for at least the next two years
'This is a national mission, and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get jabs in arms '' so when you are called forward, get the jab and get boosted.'
The Government has now secured access to 453.5million vaccine doses through agreements with six separate developers.
Following the emergence of Omicron, Mr Javid asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for rapid advice on extending the booster programme to all those aged 18 and over. The advice was accepted this week, with the NHS tasked with offering a booster to all eligible adults in England by the end of January.
Experts say existing vaccines are likely to offer at least some protection against new variants, particularly severe illness and death.
But leading manufacturers are already working to adapt their formulas to make them even more effective against new threats.
In the meantime, Government advisers hope boosting antibody levels with the existing jabs will prevent another wave of infections from Omicron
In the meantime, Government advisers hope boosting antibody levels with the existing jabs will prevent another wave of infections from Omicron. To speed up the vaccination programme, around 400 military personnel will be drafted in to support deployment, with 1,500 community pharmacy sites, additional hospital hubs, and pop-up sites opening in convenient locations across the country.
More than 3,000 sites are already open in England '' more than double the number in February.
But global health leaders yesterday questioned the UK's booster campaign. Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation's health emergencies programme, said he is not aware of any evidence that would suggest offering booster jabs to the entire population gives any greater protection to healthy people.
Asked about the acceleration of the UK's booster programme, he told a press briefing: 'It's tough for some countries who have huge amounts of excess vaccine to decide who to give it to, but that's not the problem being faced by a lot of countries around the world who can't get even primary vaccination to their most vulnerable...
'There are others here who can better answer than me... but right now there is no evidence that I'm aware of that would suggest that boosting the entire population is going to necessarily provide any greater protection for otherwise healthy individuals against hospitalisation or death.'
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Alec Baldwin says he did not pull trigger before bullet killed cinematographer
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:05
Actor Alec Baldwin said he did not pull the trigger on the gun he was holding before a live bullet struck and killed a cinematographer and injured a director on the set of "Rust," according to an excerpt from an "ABC News" interview released on Wednesday.
"The trigger wasn't pulled," he said in the excerpt which was shared on Twitter. "I didn't pull the trigger."
In the interview clip, Baldwin said he does not know how a live bullet wound up on the set of the Western, which was being filmed at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Sante Fe, New Mexico.
Law enforcement is still investigating the incident, which killed Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injured Joel Souza, 48, in late October. Charges have not been filed. According to court documents, an assistant director handed a loaded weapon to Baldwin and indicated to him it was safe to use. A search warrant filed in a Santa Fe court shows that the assistant director did not know the prop gun was loaded with live rounds.
In a statement issued a day after the fatal incident, Baldwin said that his "heart is broken" for Hutchins' family.
"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," he wrote on Twitter on Oct. 22. He said he was cooperating with police.
The shooting spurred a call for additional safety measures and working conditions on movie sets.
Joe Biden to announce nationwide coronavirus battle plan | US news | The Guardian
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:00
Show caption Iker Santiago-Sias, 10, gets his Covid vaccine from medical worker Joanna Muniz at Zavala elementary school in Odessa, Texas. Photograph: Jacob Ford/AP
US newsPlans include a drive to encourage vaccine boosters, expansion of at-home tests and tighter restrictions on international travel
Joe Biden is set to announce new actions to combat the coronavirus, including a nationwide campaign encouraging vaccine boosters, an expansion of at-home tests and tighter restrictions on international travel.
Buffeted by the emergence of the Omicron variant and a political backlash from Republicans, the US president will visit the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on Thursday and lay out a pandemic battle plan for the winter months.
US expected to require stricter testing protocols for international travelers Biden will announce steps to ensure that the nearly 100 million eligible Americans who have not yet received their booster shot do so as soon as possible, the White House said. There is new urgency to the effort after the first US case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was identified in California on Wednesday.
The president will pledge to expand pharmacy availability during December while pharmacy partners send millions of texts, calls, and emails to eligible customers with information on how to schedule an appointment or walk in for a booster shot.
President Joe Biden speaks about authorization of the Covid vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on 3 November. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters There will also be a public education campaign to encourage adults to get boosters, with a particular focus on the elderly. It will feature paid advertising across multiple channels, engagement with community organisations and media campaigns.
Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Biden on Covid-19, told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that boosting was ''very important'' particularly when considering the rise in antibodies following a third dose.
He added: ''Even though we don't have a lot of data on it, there's every reason to believe that kind of increase that you get with the boost would be helpful at least in preventing severe disease of a variant like Omicron.''
The emergence of Omicron has demonstrated the tenacity of the virus, which continues to drag down Biden's political fortunes. Voters are divided on his handling of the pandemic, with 47% approving and 49% disapproving, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll.
But the White House defended his record, for example by pointing out that when he came into office more than half of schools were closed, where today 99% are fully open and in person. On Thursday, the president will unveil actions to get more children aged five and older vaccinated.
These include the launch of hundreds of family vaccination clinics across the country, offering a ''one-stop shop'' of first shots for parents, teenagers and children, and boosters for those eligible. There will be ''family vaccination days'' with hundreds of community health centres across the country hosting family vaccination clinics throughout December.
Biden will also set out a plan to ensure that Americans have access to free at-home testing. More than 150 million people with private insurance will be able to get at-home tests reimbursed; for those not covered, at-home tests will be distributed through health centres and rural clinics.
A traveler wearing a hazmat suit walks through the arrivals area at Los Angeles international airport on 30 Nevember. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP With the threat posed by the Omicron variant still uncertain, early next week the US will tighten pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travellers to test within one day of departure, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.
In a briefing call with reporters, a senior administration official said: ''We have really strengthened our international travel system pretty dramatically over the last month or so.
''We believe that tightening that testing requirement for pre-departure will help catch more potential cases of people who may be positive when they fly into the country and so now is the right time to do it, and we can implement it very quickly.''
On domestic flights, the official added, ''the masking requirement is in place already and in fact we will be extending that requirement from January all the way until mid-March''.
The pandemic has killed almost 780,000 people in the US. Nearly 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance recommending that every adult get a booster.
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Ethan Crumbley: Here's why the suspected Michigan school shooter has been charged with terrorism - CNN
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 11:51
By Shimon Prokupecz and Steve Almasy, CNN
Updated 5:17 AM EST, Thu December 02, 2021
Oxford, Michigan(CNN) Ethan Crumbley, who is accused of killing four fellow students at a Michigan high school, will be tried as an adult and faces murder, assault and weapons charges.
He will also face one count of terrorism causing death, a rare charge for a school shooting.
The events unfolded Tuesday at Oxford High School when, law enforcement officials say, the 15-year-old shot at people in a school hallway, firing more than 30 shots at people and through classroom doors. Three people died Tuesday and another passed away at a hospital Wednesday.
Seven others -- six students and a teacher -- were wounded, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
The county's top prosecutor addressed the terrorism charge.
"There is no playbook about how to prosecute a school shooting and candidly, I wish I'd never even had -- it didn't occur so I wouldn't have to consider it, but when we sat down, I wanted to make sure all of the victims were represented in the charges that we filed against this individual," Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told CNN. "If that's not terrorism, I don't know what is."
She said there is a lot of digital evidence in the case -- video and things on social media.
"But you probably don't even need to see that to know how terrifying it is to be in close proximity of another student shooting and killing fellow students. I mean, it's terror," she added.
"Like every other child that was in that building, and I address that about the terrorism charge, we must have an appropriate consequence that speaks for the victims that were not killed or injured but also, they were affected, how do they go back to school?"
She said many students can't eat or sleep.
"Their parents are sleeping next to them and we shouldn't ignore that," she told CNN. "There are obviously four children who were murdered and many others injured but over 1,000 were also victimized as well."
At Crumbley's arraignment Wednesday, prosecutor Marc Keast said Crumbley came out of a school bathroom and started firing. Crumbley walked down the hall at a "methodical pace" and fired more shots.
This continued for another four or five minutes and he went to another bathroom, Keast said. When deputies arrived, Crumbley put the gun down and surrendered, the prosecutor said.
The judge entered a plea of not guilty per his attorney's request.
Michigan law defines an act of terrorism as a "willful and deliberate act that is all of the following:"
"An act that would be a violent felony under the laws of this state, whether or not committed in this state.
"An act that the person knows or has reason to know is dangerous to human life.
"An act that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion."
The criminal complaint against Crumbley refers to the third condition and says the act was committed against the Oxford High School community.
Charging an accused school shooter with terrorism is rare. In 2018, an Ocala, Florida student who shot through a door and wounded another student, was charged with terrorism and later pleaded no contest to that count and other charges.
That incident occurred two months after gunman Nikolas Cruz shot more than 30 people as he moved for more than 10 minutes through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Cruz was charged with 34 counts of premeditated murder and attempted murder. He did not face a terrorism charge. He recently pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz reported from Oxford and CNN's Steve Almasy reported and wrote in Atlanta. CNN's Carolyn Sung in Michigan and Kristina Squeglia contributed to this report.
Moderna could be sued over vaccines as court upholds Arbutus patents | Reuters
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 01:52
A vial and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed Moderna logo, in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.comDec 1 (Reuters) - Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) could face a patent infringement lawsuit over its COVID-19 vaccine after a federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected its challenge to patents belonging to Arbutus Biopharma Corp (ABUS.O).
Arbutus shares nearly doubled following the ruling, up 95% at $6.25. Moderna shares were off more than 10% at $316.43.
The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals let stand an administrative panel's findings that Arbutus' patents - which may cover technology used in the vaccines - are valid, as the science involved was not previously known.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.comModerna and Arbutus did not respond to requests for comment.
Moderna previously said in court filings that it believes Arbutus could bring a lawsuit demanding royalties from its COVID-19 vaccine if the patents were upheld.
The company last month forecast 2021 sales of between $15 billion and $18 billion, and 2022 sales of between $17 billion and $22 billion, for its COVID-19 vaccine.
Jefferies analyst Dennis Ding said an infringement lawsuit was possible, but could drag for years, adding that Arbutus will likely settle for a small royalty.
"When you're thinking about the revenue opportunity from the vaccine, so just like $10 (billion) to $20 billion annually, a small low-single-digit royalty is immaterial to Moderna," he said.
Both patents in question involve the so-called lipid nanoparticles that enclose the genetic material, known as messenger RNA (mRNA), in the vaccine. The technology could prove useful in developing future mRNA-based vaccines against other illnesses as well.
Moderna initially challenged the patents before the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, part of the federal patent office. The board agreed with Moderna that some portions of one of the patents were invalid but otherwise sided with Arbutus, and the Federal Circuit upheld its findings.
The patents are licensed to Genevant Sciences Inc, a company launched in 2018 by Arbutus and Roivant Sciences Ltd (ROIV.O). Roivant owns about 80% of Genevant and Arbutus owns the remainder.
Moderna is also embroiled in a months-long patent conflict over its COVID-19 vaccine with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). read more
NIH has asserted that three of its scientists helped design the genetic sequence used in Moderna's multibillion-dollar vaccine and should be named on the patent application, a claim the company disagrees with.
The company maintains that the mRNA sequence in the company's vaccine was selected exclusively by Moderna's scientists, and without input of NIH scientists.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to reuters.com Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Mrinalika Roy and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
EU Launches $340 Billion 'Global Gateway' Program to Counter China's Belt and Road
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 18:46
The European Union has rolled out a plan to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in global infrastructure projects under the ''Global Gateway'' program, seen as a counter to China's controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that has been criticized as a vehicle for expanding Beijing's influence around the world.
The European Commission (EC), the EU's executive body, said on Dec. 1 that the scheme will see $340 billion (300 billion euros) in investments through 2027 to boost links in global digital, energy, transport, health, education, and research systems.
''Global Gateway will offer a values-based option for partner countries to choose from when deciding how to meet their infrastructure development need,'' the EC said in a document (pdf) detailing the new program, billed as based on democratic values and high standards.
''This means adhering to the rule of law, upholding high standards of human, social, and workers' rights, and respecting norms from international rules and standards to intellectual property,'' the Commission said. ''It means taking an ethical approach so that infrastructure projects do not create unsustainable debt or unwanted dependencies.''
China launched its Belt and Road scheme in 2013 to boost trade links with the rest of the world and has been spending heavily on infrastructure projects in a number of countries. But critics say the financing terms offered by Beijing are often unfavorable, lack transparency, and make some countries dependent on China through debt.
A recent study from AidData, a research lab at William & Mary's Global Research Institute, analyzed 13,427 projects backed by China in more than 165 countries and found that 35 percent of Belt and Road projects dealt with implementation problems, including corruption scandals, labor violations, and environmental hazards.
Brad Parks, one of the study's authors, said that ''a growing number of policymakers in low- and middle-income countries are mothballing high profile BRI projects because of overpricing, corruption, and debt sustainability concerns.''
In announcing the launch of Global Gateway, the EC said its program will ''offer its financing under fair and favorable terms in order to limit the risk of debt distress.''
''Without proper transparency, good governance, and high standards projects can be badly chosen or designed, left incomplete or be used to fuel corruption. This not only stunts growth and deprives local communities but it ultimately creates dependencies, which can limit countries' ability to make decisions,'' the EC added.
EC President Ursula von der Leyen called the new program a ''true alternative'' to China's Belt and Road Initiative, telling a news conference at which she unveiled Global Gateway that countries need ''better and different offers.''
In remarks in a state of the union address in mid-September about the development of Global Gateway, von der Leyen noted the drawbacks of the existing framework of engagement between the EU and the Indo-Pacific region, lamenting that ''autocratic regimes use it to try to expand their influence.''
''We are good at financing roads. But it does not make sense for Europe to build a perfect road between a Chinese-owned copper mine and a Chinese-owned harbor,'' von der Leyen said at the time.
Calling Global Gateway a ''template for how Europe can redesign its model to connect the world,'' she said. ''We want to create links and not dependencies.''
The EC said the program would also underpin the global economic recovery and boost global supply chains, the vulnerability of which became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
LeBron James Out Indefinitely Under NBA's Covid Protocols...
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 18:44
The Lakers star, who says he is fully vaccinated, may be out at least 10 days under the league's pandemic rules.
Updated Dec. 1, 2021 11:24 am ETLeBron James missed the Los Angeles Lakers' game on Tuesday and will remain out indefinitely after entering the NBA's health and safety protocols, indicating the vaccinated NBA star registered a positive or inconclusive test for Covid-19, which could make James the most prominent athlete with a breakthrough infection.
His teammate Anthony Davis said that James was asymptomatic and that ''Covid's a scary thing'' in comments that suggested he'd tested positive, which TMZ reported earlier on Tuesday. NBA teams have left public...
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LeBron James missed the Los Angeles Lakers' game on Tuesday and will remain out indefinitely after entering the NBA's health and safety protocols, indicating the vaccinated NBA star registered a positive or inconclusive test for Covid-19, which could make James the most prominent athlete with a breakthrough infection.
His teammate Anthony Davis said that James was asymptomatic and that ''Covid's a scary thing'' in comments that suggested he'd tested positive, which TMZ reported earlier on Tuesday. NBA teams have left public disclosure of Covid test results to players, and the Lakers have not elaborated on the details of James's situation.
''Hopefully this is something that's short-term,'' Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. ''We'll see.''
The team arranged for James's transportation to Los Angeles from Sacramento, said Vogel, who declined to specify whether his best player traveled by plane or car. ''Health and safety protocols,'' Vogel said. ''That's all I can say.''
The NBA's vaccinated players are sidelined by the league's protocols only if they have registered positive or inconclusive tests, not if they have been exposed to the coronavirus or if they were determined to be close contacts. If a vaccinated player tests positive, the league's pandemic rules mandate that he's out at least 10 days or until he returns two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
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His absence is the latest blow to a team already struggling with setbacks. The Lakers have a 12-11 record against one of the league's easiest schedules in large part because they have stumbled without the 36-year-old, previously indestructible James, who has already missed half of their games this season with minor injuries and a suspension. They play three more games in the 10 days that James could be out, including two nationally televised showdowns with their rival Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, and scrapping for a playoff spot is not exactly the start they had in mind when this team with James and Davis made a risky trade for Russell Westbrook before this season.
Breakthrough cases represent the latest pandemic disruption to professional sports. The league says that 97% of NBA players have been vaccinated, but there have been dozens of breakthrough cases among players and coaches, including Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, who missed three weeks of games.
The potentially extended absence of the NBA's biggest star comes as the league is already urging eligible players to get their booster shots. In early November, several weeks before federal health agencies pushed boosters in response to the discovery of the Omicron variant, NBA players were told they would be subject to increased testing beginning on Wednesday if they declined to roll up their sleeves for a booster.
The NBA has long favored aggressive mitigation policies because of the greater risks of an indoor league with players traveling across the country and breathing heavily on each other in close contact without masks. The NHL also has seen disruptive outbreaks this season that resulted in the temporary shutdown of two teams despite the hockey league's 99% vaccination rate among players.
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James, who evaded questions last season about his vaccination status, said before this season that he was initially skeptical of the Covid vaccines but ultimately decided to get the shot to protect himself, his family and his friends.
But he declined to endorse the vaccines or participate in campaigns advocating for others to get the shot, unlike many celebrities and star athletes with similar followings and influential platforms.
''I don't feel like, for me personally, I should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods,'' James said in September.
Write to Ben Cohen at ben.cohen@wsj.com
France's new blue: Which countries in Europe also changed their flags? | Euronews
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 17:20
Earlier this month, aides of President Emmanuel Macron revealed that the shade of blue used in France's national flag has changed.
More than that, the switch took place over a year ago '' and nobody had noticed.
The blue in France's tricolore had been adjusted to a darker navy in a subtle, but significant shift.
Now the shade sits closer to that of the flags used in the French Revolution. Officials describe the change as a "more elegant" adjustment.
Flag changes don't happen often in Europe, but when they do it can be the mark of serious historical events, political changes, or just pure aesthetics back and forth.
Here are some of Europe's most significant flag changes over time.
A deeper shade of blue: France
It's no wonder the people of France didn't notice the colour change.
France have used lighter and darker tones of blue for decades, depending on the occasion.
However, this is the first formal colour change since 1976, when President Giscard d'Estaing switched the palette up to align closer to the blue of the European Union's flag.
This is an interesting example of good old colour theory coming into play. Notice how the red on the new flag looks deeper, almost? It's not '' the new blue is doing all the work there.
Going through changes? Ask GreeceGreece was one of the first countries in the world to use flags in any representative sense, but this wasn't without a multitude of teething issues.
They simply weren't something on the radar for ancient civilisations.
Several unofficial flags were distributed during the Ottoman period, including a red and yellow Byzantine double-headed eagle.
Proposals for Greece's first proper flag was proposed by Greek writer and political thinker Rigas Feraios as part of proposals for a pan-Balkan federation in 1797.
As you can see, it differs wildly from the series of designs that would feature as part of Greece's national identity.
The four designs featured above are just some of several different flags the country adopted at various points in time.
Greece's rich and complex history meant it went through a series of changes featuring different patterns and symbols before settling on I Galanolefki '' 'The Blue and White', in 1978.
Four bars Azure, four bars Argent are believed to represent the sky and sea, accompanied by the traditional Greek cross.
Realising your flag is the same as another country: LiechtensteinEurope's fourth-smallest country produced a simple and straightforward red and yellow flag design based on its coat of arms when it was awarded sovereignty in the early 18th-century.
Towards the end of Prince Aloys II's reign the colours were changed to reflect the country's coat of arms, keeping the red but ditching the yellow in favourite of the embracing full primary colour spectrum.
A partnership with Switzerland in 1921 saw the colour scheme rotate from vertical to horizontal to represent the nation's renewed status in Europe.
All's well that ends well. But not for long.
Preparations for the 1936 Berlin Olympics revealed a crucial mistake '' Liechtenstein had the same flag as Haiti and went unaware for 16 years.
The flag was changed the following year by adding the Prince's crown to the top left corner.
Departing the Soviet Union: UkraineHistorically, one of the most common reasons for flag changes in Europe has been the formation '' and dissolution '' of the Soviet Union.
Each country in the Soviet Union was forced to abandon their own flags in favour of the classic hammer, sickle, and star iconography throughout the 1920s.
Ukraine's original flag was outlawed upon joining the Union in 1922 and it took decades to develop its Soviet iteration, pictured centre.
When the country became independent in 1991 it sought to honour its once suppressed half-blue, half-yellow design but opted to distinguish itself from the shade of blue the Soviets borrowed for their original People's Republic flag.
With this came the introduction of a darker blue, a 'strong azure' to be exact. These days it's not uncommon to see both, though official flags will always don the latter.
Mark of a partnership: United KingdomPrior to the United Kingdom's formation in 1707, each country's flag existed as a separate design.
The kingdom managed to exist for almost 100 years without a real representation of the joining of its countries. That all changed in 1801, through the creation of the Union Flag, or Union Jack.
England's St. George's cross was blended with St. Patrick's red diagonal cross and the blue of Scotland's St. Andrew's flag for good measure.
Wales weren't included as they were already considered part of the 'Kingdom of England', resulting in a combination of English, Scottish, and Irish flags.
It's regarded as first design revamp to reflect such a significant shift in geographical and political ties.
The addition of the St. David's dragon would likely complicate matters this far down the line.
Of course, each country still use their individual flags across government, sports, and national events.
Making a mark during turbulence: Republic of IrelandIf someone asked you to choose a colour best associated with the Republic of Ireland, it's highly unlikely you'd choose blue.
Nevertheless, the flags that came before Ireland's own tricolour look vastly different to the green, white, and gold introduced during 1916's Easter Rising.
The purposeful departure from the lesser-known blue designs that ruled throughout history was designed to represent unity between nationalists and unionists.
Before that, the banner known as the 'Lordship of Ireland' '' used for over 300 years - featured three crowns on it. A harp was brought into the mix following Henry VII's influence and lasted hundreds more years.
You'll still see the harp around in Irish culture, most famously as Guinness' iconic logo.
Keeping it simple: DenmarkDenmark's flag is the oldest continuously used flag in Europe '' it was first used as a collective national symbol in 1219, during the Battle of Lyndanisse.
Legend has it that piece of red cloth on a white cross fell from the sky during combat that made Danish soldiers believe it was a sign from God.
That doesn't mean that it was for everyone, though.
Danes viewed their flag as a strictly royal emblem for hundreds of years. Between 1834-1854 ordinary citizens were even banned for displaying it in their homes, until the establishment realised it could be a useful source of unity in trying times.
The Second Schleswig War between Denmark and Germany, for example.
This flag provided the model for the "scandi cross" and in the centuries that followed Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland would follow suit with similar styles.
Olden is golden, after all.
A for-profit prison company is going public via SPAC, raising ESG concerns in the blank-check space
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 17:13
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 29, 2021 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
The red-hot SPAC market could have an ESG problem.
Securus Technologies, a prison services company that makes profit from charging families of the incarcerated for phone calls, is in talks to go public via merging with Atlantic Avenue Acquisition Corp, according a person familiar with the matter.
While prison services telecoms are less scrutinized than companies that operate correctional facilities, their for-profit nature and their line of business still typically make ESG-conscious investors shy away. (ESG stands for environmental, social and governance.)
"In a climate focused on ESG, and given criticisms being hurled at SPACs in general, you can see how this combination could become a controversial deal for investors," said Perrie Weiner, partner at Baker McKenzie LLP.
Securus Technologies and Atlantic Avenue Acquisition Corp didn't respond to CNBC's requests for comment. Bloomberg News first reported on the merger discussions.
SPACs, which stands for special purpose acquisition companies, are created to raise capital from public markets and then use that cash to merge with a private company and take it public within a two-year timeframe.
Investors in SPACs as a rule do not know the identity of the firm that will be targeted for merger. After a blockbuster year, there are currently over 400 SPACs actively looking for a target company, according to data from Wolfe Research.
Many wonder if pre-merger SPACs are inherently not ESG-friendly with the lack of clarity on where the money will go in the future.
Bernstein analysts have called SPACs "one of the most anti-ESG assets imaginable" as they fail on the governance side of things.
In terms of the social aspect, one particular deal recently raised eyebrows on Wall Street.
In October when Digital World Acquisition Corp. announced plans to merge with former President Donald Trump's planned social media platform, at least two hedge funds pulled out their investments after learning of the target company.
"Many investors are grappling with hard questions about how to incorporate their values into their work. For us, this was not a close call," hedge fund Saba Capital Management founder Boaz Weinstein said then of his DWAC sale.
As SPACs face regulatory headwinds, many are pivoting to companies with ESG credentials, targeting either an environmental thesis or social impact theme, such as electric vehicle companies.
"That's where investor appetite is right now," Weiner said. "And, that's why you will see many private equity firms cut loose companies that fly in the face of ESG, and they will look to SPACs as a quick way to divest themselves of those sorts of negatively perceived investments."
Vaccine Pass Being Programmed Into Phones
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 17:04
News Cell phones are now able to provide digital proof of vaccination status, but not everyone is comfortable sharing their health information on digital platforms. (David Espejo / Getty Images)
By Sabrina Haverty November 28, 2021 at 9:30am Physical vaccine cards may be losing legitimacy as more digital versions are being released.
Samsung, one of the world's top producers of electronic devices, now has what is often referred to as a ''vaccine pass.''
Through the company's partnership with The Commons Project and CommonHealth, a digital vaccine card was created that can be displayed from a user's cell phone.
The Commons Project is a Switzerland-based nonprofit, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, whose website professes that ''communities are stronger when data is open and can be shared for the benefit of all.''
But what is the perceived benefit of exposing health information?
CommonHealth is listed as a public service by The Commons Project. It claims to help people ''collect, store and share their personal health information.'' Their website claims that they empower users with their health information, while maintaining industry-leading ''privacy standards.''
Perhaps they missed the ''personal'' and ''privacy'' part with sharing health records.
CommonHealth utilizes an active registry of health care providers that meet their eligibility requirements. Once a patient has been administered a vaccination, the provider may then issue a pass that can be uploaded to the Samsung Wallet.
Many people have become accustomed to using digital cards through more established virtual payment methods such as Samsung Pay and ApplePay. These types of software allow the processing of a transaction without a physical payment method present.
Do you prefer a text message or phone call?
Text: 51% (96 Votes)
Call: 49% (91 Votes)
While there is much benefit to the advancement of technology and increase of digitalization, the benefits come with some downsides, one being that people will become even more reliant on cell phones and technology in general.
With in-person social interactions on the decline, further digital dependency will only progress the breakdown of human interaction that is arguably necessary for mental health and a well-functioning society.
Humans by nature are social creatures. As society transitions to more digital platforms, the dynamics of how people interact are changing with it.
It can be said that most now prefer a text message over a phone call, where the intimacy of body language and voice inflection is compromised for efficiency and perhaps the avoidance of a potentially awkward interaction.
As with anything experienced in life, it is good to take time for personal reflection. Is a more digitalized world one that is desired? If not, what can be done to stop it?
We can make the choice to put down our phones in order to be more fully present for an in-person meeting. We can choose a phone call over a social media post. We can pay in cash versus using a debit card or other form of digital payment.
A friendly reminder '-- the power to push back is still with the people.
Contributor, News/Commentary
SummaryMore Biographical Information Recent Posts ContactSabrina has experience in education, four years of travel as a flight attendant and recently worked in politics. Sabrina's writing is fueled by the belief that we have a responsibility to seek the truth and speak it in love.
Sabrina has experience in education, four years of travel as a flight attendant and recently worked in politics. Sabrina's writing is fueled by the belief that we have a responsibility to seek the truth and speak it in love.
US Supports Creation of Global Pandemic Treaty
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:58
WASHINGTON '-- Amid growing concerns over the new omicron COVID-19 variant, the Biden administration is supporting efforts by the World Health Organization to establish a new international agreement on future pandemic preparedness and response.
"The United States is committed to working with member states to take forward the recent recommendations of the working group on preparedness and response. That includes developing a new WHO convention agreement or other international instrument and making agreements to improve the effectiveness and agility of international health regulations," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday to VOA aboard Air Force One.
The U.S. had initially opposed the inclusion of language that would have made the so-called pandemic treaty '-- proposed by about two dozen world leaders in March '-- legally binding. But on Sunday, the administration supported a draft resolution that is being negotiated at a three-day virtual special session of the WHO governing body, the World Health Assembly, beginning Monday.
FILE - People wait 15 minutes after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during national COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Pamplona, northern Spain, Sept. 2, 2021.The pandemic treaty is expected to be ready in May 2024. Some public health experts are pessimistic of the outcome.
"The prognosis is still quite poor that we're going to get to a legally binding treaty that the U.S. and every other country of substance in the world accepts in the coming two or even three years," Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University, told VOA. "Anything that comes out of this process is very unlikely to make any change to our current environment and the current pandemic response."
The agreement would cover issues such as the sharing of data and genome sequences of emerging viruses, and of any potential vaccines and drugs derived from research. The goal is to come up with better coordination and cohesion in the global pandemic response and create a more robust global health architecture that will protect future generations.
"Over and over, COVID has reminded us that it will not go down easily and that we must act together," U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said in his remarks at the WHO session.
According to research by Duke University, more than 22 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world continues to struggle to enact a coordinated, effective and equitable response. Commitments and pledges remain largely unfulfilled, including the goal of achieving 40% vaccination coverage in every country by the end of 2021, and 70% coverage by mid-2022.
Some 650 million additional vaccine doses are required for at-risk countries to reach the target, factoring in expected deliveries from COVAX, the international vaccine sharing mechanism supported by the U.N. and the health organizations Gavi and CEPI.
Globalized crisis
Preventing future outbreaks requires a different way of thinking about global health security because COVID-19 represents a new form of globalized crisis, one that is both caused by and exacerbated by an increasingly interconnected modern world, said a spokesperson from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, who spoke to VOA on background.
FILE - A vaccination campaign against the coronavirus is underway at a Tripoli shelter for migrants, organized jointly by the Libyan center for disease control and the International Organization for Migration. in Tripoli, Libya, Oct. 6, 2021."One of the lessons we've learned from COVAX is that contingent funding, ready to go early in a crisis, would be a huge head start," the spokesperson said. Creating a global network of sustainable, quality vaccine manufacturing facilities is also key, he added.
While much is still unknown about omicron, public health experts believe that if large portions of the world's population are unvaccinated, variants will continue to appear, and the pandemic will be prolonged.
"Omicron's very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the start of pandemic treaty talks.
TRIPS waiver
Humanitarian organizations say that an international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response should include a waiver of patents and other intellectual property rights of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments of COVID-19 '-- the TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization.
"We need a pandemic treaty with an automatic waiver of intellectual property rules to maximize scale and redistribution of lifesaving tools so everyone can be protected at the same time," said Anna Marriott, Oxfam's health policy manager. "Never again can we repeat the scandal of vaccine apartheid witnessed today that has led to needless loss of life and created the perfect breeding ground for new variants."
FILE - Global Justice campaigners carry fake coffins to highlight the number of COVID-19 deaths globally, in London, Oct. 12, 2021. Britain is taking part in a World Trade Organization intellectual property meeting to boost the number of vaccinations worldwide.An in-person WTO ministerial meeting on the TRIPS waiver set to start Monday in Geneva was postponed because of concerns over omicron and has been rescheduled for March 2022.
After initially opposing it, the U.S. announced its support of the waiver in April, leaving the U.K., Switzerland and the European Union as holdouts against the move.
"The work on the text-based negotiations, the building of consensus '-- something Ambassador Tai is in the lead on '-- is continuing, and we're continuing to press for that," Psaki said Tuesday, referring to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
But many are skeptical that the Biden administration is putting any real diplomatic weight on the TRIPS waiver.
"We do observe the lack of more proactive leadership from the U.S. since it's changed the position," said Yuanqiong Hu, senior legal policy adviser for Doctors Without Borders Access Campaign.
Hu added that the U.S. could in theory use its clout to push the remaining small group of countries to agree, but it hasn't appeared to do so beyond public remarks such as last week's call by President Joe Biden for countries to "meet the U.S. challenge to waive intellectual property protections for COVID vaccines, so these vaccines can be manufactured globally."
TRIPS waiver negotiations at the WTO have been stuck, and progress remains dim.
"The U.S. '-- if it's serious '-- clearly is not using all of the influence at its discretion to try to move that issue forward," Duke Global Health's Udayakumar said.
VOA's Anita Powell contributed to this report.
Graphene Oxide Detox Protocols for the Vaxxed & Unvaxxed
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:56
https://www.australiannationalreview.com/resources/graphene-oxide-detox-protocols-for-the-vaxxed-unvaxxed/
By Daily News Break There are many people now experiencing jabbers remorse and want to know what they can do to detoxify Graphene Oxide Nanoparticles and the gain-of-function spike protein they were injected with. Meanwhile, the unvaxxed are experiencing Adverse Events and magnetism due to transmission. This article contains all the known safe and effective detox protocols that both the vaxxed and the unvaxxed can use to help your body remove these deadly poisons. DR. ZELENKO'S PROTOCOL Dr. Vladimir (Zev) Zelenko is a Board Certified Family Physician. He was the first in America (March 2020) to innovate a successful treatment for covid-19. A Nobel Prize nominee, Dr. Zelenko was censored and de-platformed across big tech for sharing his life-saving formula and for affirming that Covid-19 is a ''bioweapon for mass Genocide''. Dr. Zelenko's Protocol contains Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Zinc, Vitamin D3, and Quercetin. See Dr. Zelenko's Protocol. Read more about Dr. Zelenko's Protocol and watch his latest very important interview. America's Frontline Doctors are helping people obtain Ivermectin. Hospitals can purchase Ivermectin for critical care. Scientific studies: Over 100 studies proving that Vitamin D3 is essential for treating Covid-19 can be viewed. A Slovakia research team discovered under microscopy that Ivermectin halts the crystalline growth of Graphene Oxide Hydrogels inside your body. VITAMIN C his study demonstrates that Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) is very effective at reducing Graphene Oxide Toxicity from the body. And this study shows that high dose Vitamin C is also an effective treatment for Covid-19, even for the critically ill. Finally, intravenous Vitamin C can be successfully used to treat patients with Covid-19. Important note: If you take more than 10,000 international units of Vitamin D3 per day, you must stop consuming all dairy and Vitamin C supplements in order to avoid calcium clots. N-ACETYLCLSTEINE (NAC) The research of La Quinta Columna led by Ricardo Delgado, successfully tested an inexpensive way to remove magnetic Graphene Oxide Nanoparticles from the human body after they were injected with a Covid jab using N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and Zinc. ''These two antioxidants are essential to degrade Graphene Oxide,'' says Delgardo. NAC causes your body to secrete glutathione endogenously and glutathione can reduce Graphene Oxide Toxicity down to zero. In this article and video, you will see Delgado describe what to do. Scientific studies: A study published in PubMed reveals that biocompatible NAC reduces Graphene Oxide. In an animal study where enhanced spike protein was used to cause lung damage to animals by binding to the ACE2 receptors, the animals were remedied using NAC. Instructions: La Quinta Columna recommends taking NAC 600-750mg, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Also take 2x tablets of Zinc, 25mg each. Secondary: Astaxanthin 5mg, Querectin, milk thistle, Vitamin D3. DR. RIMA'S PROTOCOL Dr. Rima Laibow recommends taking 900mg of NAC per day. Some people are even taking 1400mg. Since NAC is an amino acid, it's safe to consume it in a non-pharmaceutical, natural form. If using a synthetic pharmaceutical NAC, please consult a physician on dosage. In addition to NAC, Dr. Rima also uses the following protocol. While NAC is effective at enabling your cells to produce glutathione, it has some limitations. For example, it's more effective when injected vs ingested orally. Also, its effectiveness starts decreasing after about 3 months so a long-term solution must be used. ASEA REDOX SIGNALING MOLECULES It has been demonstrated that Graphene Oxide Toxicity causes intracellular oxidative stress, leading to cytotoxicity and the inhibition of cell proliferation. Glutathione is one of the main body antioxidants that eradicates free radicals and poisons from your body. Glutathione is a cell-signaling molecule created by our cells and used by our bodies at the speed of light. Glutathione is vital in the regulation of oxidative stress levels to maintain normal cellular function. However, its concentration decreases with age, and people are already deficient in glutathione. ASEA Redox signaling molecules is called the 'Water of Life' because it reactivates gene signalling pathways which get shut off by Graphene Oxide Toxicity. ASEA Redox enables your cells to increase the endogenous glutathione production by a whopping 500-800%, thus detoxifying Graphene Oxide Nanoparticles and spike protein, optimally. According to scientific research, ASEA Redox signaling molecules increase the capacity of cells to detox by 4 fold and may increase mitochondria production by 30% after a fortnight. This meta anti-oxidant has the potency of an antidote and because it's native to the body, the benefits of consuming ASEA will increase with continued use. These anti-aging cell signaling molecules are also good for teeth and gums. ASEA was originally discovered and developed by a Biotech firm. An atomic medical physicist specialized in nanotechnology and a Nobel Prize winner figured out how to stabilize the molecules for human consumption. There are years of research and a plethora of doctors behind ASEA. While the pharmaceutical industry attempted to suppress this medical breakthrough, ASEA's founders had an integral mission to make their product widely available for public use. ASEA has the power to potentially save the lives of the vaxxed and will detox transmission in the unvaxxed. It's potentially the strongest single treatment that's mentioned in this article. Scientific research: This initial gene study showed ASEA Redox affected important signaling pathway genes. SURAMIN It's worth mentioning that whistleblower Dr. Judy Mikovitz went on record stating that Suramin is the 'antidote' to the Covid-19 bioweapons. Suramin is a pharmaceutical drug that is derived from pine needles. Dr. Mikovitz states that a small amount of Suramin injected into the body is sufficient. Consult a doctor before using. PINE NEEDLE TEA Pine needles, Spruce, Cedar and Fir (conifers), contain Shikimate (Shikimic Acid), and a slew of other meta nutrients which boost immunity, hydrate, and contribute to the detoxification of Graphene Oxide Nanoparticles at a cellular level. Conifer needle teas inhibit adverse reactions from graphene oxide and Covid-19 spike protein transmission and protect against components of the coagulation cascade; possibly protecting against blood clots. Pine tea also inhibits the inappropriate replication and modification of RNA and DNA. Conifer needle oil and needle tea rejuvenates cells and act as a natural stress reliever, pain killer, and antibiotic. It treats every kind of pain, stress, trauma, and PTSD because it works directly on the nerves, bypassing your nervous system. It's one of the few meta nutrients which erases cellular memory of trauma. Essentially, everyone should be drinking pine needle tea or taking pine oil. SHIKIMATE Shikimate has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to halt plagues, and pandemics. Shikimate halts respiratory infections and viral replication. It can be found in high doses in pine needle tea. It's also found in a large quantity in Star Anise, Fennel, and dandelion root, leaf and flower. World renown Scientist Mike Adams the Health Ranger and founder of Natural News, explains how you can easily extract Shikimate from these herbs using an espresso machine..Like other experts, the Health Ranger expresses his belief that the vaxxed may still be able to save themselves. DAVID WOLF'S PROTOCOL It's very important to consume as many foods, herbs, spices, and natural medicines as you can which contain Shikimate. David Avocado Wolf is a world-renown health guru. Please follow David Avocado Wolf's Protocol and learn how to order the world's finest natural products in ''Summary of the Spike Protein Protocol''. Important note: Please only consume natural forms of C60 offered by David Avocado Wolf. C60 in its pharmaceutical form must be avoided due to overtly toxic properties. Similarly, iodine found in bleached table salt is a poison and must be avoided. Your body simply will not assimilate it. Natural forms of iodine can be assimilated and absorbed by your body, like the iodine found in vegetables and herbs. HYDRATION Hydration is key to your health, to detoxification, and to using these protocols: all of them. If your body is dehydrated it cannot properly absorb the nutrition particles from what you consume and that nutrition will be flushed out and lost. Right now, 97% of the world's population is dehydrated and 76% is chronically dehydrated. This is due to the majority of our drinking water is acidic based and the molecules are simply too big to be absorbed by our cells. Dehydration hinders cell communication. Drinking 8 glasses of water per day will not hydrate you unless it contains electrolytes. It's extremely important to keep your body's PH level in balance. You want to be always in an alkaline state. An Acidic body is a breeding ground for disease. Electrolytes will not only keep you hydrated but will also balance PH. Pine needle tea is a natural electrolyte and very hydrating. Sea salt is also a natural electrolyte. Normal sea salt has between 16-24 minerals but Himalayan salt has 87 minerals which is the exact same saline as your blood. So toss out your table salt and replace it with Himalayan salt. Hydration formula: Add about a quarter of a teaspoon of Himalayan salt to one liter of water. Squeeze a quarter of fresh lime or lemon juice (lime is less astringent and just as good) into your glass of Himalayan charged water each time you drink. This is a complete electrolyte formula that will fully hydrate you. ANTIOXIDANTS AND ROOIBOS TEA Consume foods, herbs, and medicines that are high in antioxidants which enable your body to detoxify poisons. African bush tea called Rooibos is a meta antioxidant and is widely available in supermarkets, worldwide. Asians are believed to have the lowest cancer rates because of their daily consumption of green tea. Drinking one cup of Rooibos tea is equivalent to consuming 50 cups of green tea in its antioxidant effect. Rooibos is also very hydrating. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Dr. Zelenko explains that ''the Covid-19 poison death shots create killer antibodies and killer antibodies are time bombs that get triggered by exposure to matching viral infections''. NANA-ME may stop that from happening. N-Acetyl Neuraminic Acid Methyl Ester (NANA-ME). Dr. Zelenko further says that ''NANE-ME may prevent Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE) and potentially billions of deaths''. Please see the study for treating adverse reactions caused by pathological antibodies induced by Covid-19 and vaccines. Investigative Journalist Ramola D. has additional recommendations for detoxifying Graphene Oxide (GO) Nanoparticles after exposure from chemtrails. Dr. Carrie Madej suggests regular detox baths with Bentonite Clay to help your body remove GO Nanoparticles. CBD oil and Cannabis will help your body cleanse GO Nanoparticles. Chlorine Oxide can also detox GO. Sodium bicarbonate E500 (baking soda) will help to keep your PH level in an alkaline balance. Super Blue Green Algae is a miraculous meta nutrient which chelates the blood and removes heavy metals. Saladmaster cookware enables you to retain up to 98% of nutrition when cooking your food. Saladmaster pans are made from titanium and surgical stainless steel and do not leach any metals into your food. To minimize transmission, I suggest showering after being around the general population. Either wash your clothes immediately or keep them in a plastic bag until you wash them.
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: What Happens if a President Is No Longer Fit to Serve? - FindLaw
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:53
Congress passed the 25th Amendment in 1965 to change a portion of Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution. The amendment aimed to answer several questions that can arise when a president or vice president dies or becomes incapacitated. It was clear that if a president died, resigned, or was removed from office, the Vice President was next in the line of succession. But would they inherit the office of the president or only their duties? Who, in turn, takes over the Vice President's duties? What happens if a president becomes unable to perform their duties due to debilitating illness or injury? Congress tried to answer these questions with the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.
What the 25th Amendment SaysSection 1.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Section 4.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
What It MeansUnited States Library of Congress, The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
The Twenty-fifth Amendment was an effort to resolve some of the continuing issues revolving about the office of the President; that is, what happens upon the death, removal, or resignation of the President and what is the course to follow if for some reason the President becomes disabled to such a degree that he cannot fulfill his responsibilities. The practice had been well established that the Vice President became President upon the death of the President, as had happened eight times in our history. Presumably, the Vice President would become President upon the removal of the President from office.
Whether the Vice President would become acting President when the President became unable to carry on and whether the President could resume his office upon his recovering his ability were two questions that had divided scholars and experts. Seven Vice Presidents had died in office and one had resigned, so for around twenty percent of United States history, there had been no Vice President to step up. But the seemingly most insoluble problem was that of presidential inability'--Garfield's lying in a coma for eighty days before succumbing to the effects of an assassin's bullet, Wilson an invalid for the last eighteen months of his term, the result of a stroke'--with its unanswered questions: who was to determine the existence of an inability, how was the matter to be handled if the President sought to continue, in what manner should the Vice President act, would he be acting President or President, what was to happen if the President recovered. Congress finally proposed this Amendment to the states in the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination, with the Vice Presidency vacant and a President who had previously had a heart attack.
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment in PracticeThe Amendment was invoked during the 1970s and resulted for the first time in our history in the accession to the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of two men who had not faced the voters in a national election. First, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973, and President Nixon nominated Gerald R. Ford to succeed him, following the procedures of § 2 of the Amendment for the first time. Hearings were held upon the nomination by the Senate Rules Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, both Houses thereafter confirmed the nomination, and the new Vice President took the oath of office December 6, 1973. Second, President Richard M. Nixon resigned his office on August 9, 1974, and Vice President Ford immediately succeeded to the office and took the presidential oath of office at noon of the same day. Third, again following § 2 of the Amendment, President Ford nominated Nelson A. Rockefeller to be Vice President; on August 20, 1974, hearings were held in both Houses, confirmation voted, and Mr. Rockefeller took the oath of office December 19, 1974.1
Related ResourcesDisqualification from Public Office Under the 14th Amendment
Article II: The Executive Branch
Footnotes1. For the legislative history, see S. Rep. No. 66, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965); H.R. Rep. No. 203, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965); H.R. Rep. No. 564, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965). For an account of the history of the succession problem, see R. Silva, Presidential Succession (1951).
Get Ready for President Hillary Clinton
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:50
Muhammad Ali said, "It ain't bragging if you can back it up." So, excuse me for bragging, but in my almost six years as a nationally syndicated radio and TV host, my predictions have been remarkably accurate. I'm not perfect, but I'm batting close to .990. It's the best record of anyone in the media.
Almost everything I've predicted has come true, including a stolen election based on mail-in voting without voter ID; a communist takeover of the USA based on lockdowns, COVID-19 "public safety" mandates and open borders; and President Joe Biden being a brain-dead puppet with dementia.
I was already warning on my Newsmax TV show about Biden's clearly diminished mental capacity back in 2019 and early 2020. It's all on tape.
I warned during the 2020 election that Biden and the Biden crime family are owned lock, stock and barrel by China and the Chinese Communist Party.
I also predicted that this communist takeover and purposeful destruction of America, American exceptionalism, capitalism, the American middle class and Judeo-Christian values was all designed, coordinated and carried out by a combination of former President Barack Obama, communist billionaire George Soros and the Chinese Communist Party.
This is all clearly happening right in front of our eyes.
So, I'm going to make another shocking prediction. Democrats (i.e., the party of radical, insane and hateful socialists, Marxists and communists) are getting ready to install Hillary Clinton as president of the United States.
You might ask, "How will they do it?" The answer is simple.
Biden is finished. He served his useful purpose. He provided a white, experienced, grandfatherly, supposedly "moderate" face to serve at the top of the presidential ticket. The mail-in ballot fraud got the Democrats 90% of the way home in rigging and stealing the 2020 election. And Biden's "white moderate grandfather" routine did the rest: He fooled just enough clueless and naive voters in a handful of battleground states to finish the job.
But the jig is up. Biden's approval is now in the unimaginable 30% range. That means he has no one left on his side but friends, family, campaign aides, Democratic Kool-Aid drinkers, welfare addicts and migrants.
Everyone with a brain, who isn't blind, deaf or really dumb, now understands Biden is brain-dead. It's hard to miss the daily decline in Biden's ability to think and communicate. Democratic puppet masters have no choice anymore but to throw grandpa from the train.
Biden's days are numbered before he will be forced to step down after admitting he can't do the job anymore due to rapidly advancing dementia.
Biden is as good as gone. At this point, it's only a matter of when.
That would make Vice President Kamala Harris president. We all know that's not going to happen. I believe she is the most deeply flawed, despised and unpopular vice president in the history of America, and maybe in the history of the world too. Her 28% approval rating makes Biden seem popular.
Harris' problem is no one likes her. Not men, not women, not white nor black people. She is a talentless empty suit, with an evil, insane laugh, who allegedly screwed her way to the top (e.g., her involvement with married Willie Brown Jr.). Normally women support Democrats by a wide margin. Not this time. Women hate talentless women who screw their way to the top. So, Democrats have a big problem. Everyone hates Harris.
Harris has to go too.
Here's my crystal ball. Democrats will demand Harris' resignation. She'll cite "personal reasons" or "family issues." Then corrupt Democrat billionaire donors will give her a $25 million mansion to retire in. You'll never hear from Harris again.
Next, they'll name Hillary Clinton vice president.
Very quickly after that, they'll start planting nonstop stories in the media claiming Biden's aides see him in dramatic mental decline. After 3 to 6 months of those stories in the media, Biden will make his touching goodbye announcement and ride off to a nursing home specializing in dementia patients. And like Harris, Jill Biden will get a $25 million mansion as incentive to shut her mouth and never be heard from again.
Just like that, Hillary Clinton is president of the United States.
I'm guessing Democrats will need a black woman as vice president to diversify the ticket and lock down every last black vote in 2024. Michelle Obama, anyone?
Don't laugh. Get ready. It's coming. Clinton/Obama in 2024.
Wanna bet?
#216. It's now | Surplus Energy Economics
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:32
the jobs situation is a bit odd, I know they have raised the minimum wage more rapidly than at any time before, but there may be an element of too little too late, it's still not caught up with the cost of living and being available to work, I'd include housing and transportation to and from work, these costs still power away from the decent yet insufficient rise in minimum wage,
losing a chunk of the Underground network would just make commuting in London more awkward and probably more expensive and time consuming,
also the location of these vacancies, I strongly suspect they are clustered in certain hotspots, not evenly distributed across the country, I wonder if someone drilled down into the numbers if they'd find it's hard to get people to fill relatively low paid jobs in relatively expensive places to live,
the other motif of employment during the neo-liberal era has been a tendency to poach or headhunt experienced and skilled staff to avoid training, employers want the staff but not to invest in staff,the NHS has been poaching staff from abroad for a long time, Brexit + covid may well have messed this right up, these skills require lengthy training, also hospitals have been centralised into big district hospitals again putting the vacancies in one place making people have to commute which is expensive privately and public transport is becoming more erratic,
we keep seeing our ''mutton-headed'' politicians trying to cope with situations by shifting the responsibility to adapt onto the employees instead of adapting society to enable people to work, every employee finds their job entails more jumping through hoops, longer, more complicated and expensive commuting, greater compromises in their choice of accomodation,
mass transit is all about getting large numbers of people quickly, easily and cheaply into a congested area where the jobs are, this helps business,
affordable housing near large employers of non professional staff would also help business,
support for and streamlining of training for required skill sets including a reduction of the cost burden to individuals entering training would ecourage prospective candidates,
I mulled over retraining but it would be entirely at my own expense with no clear sign of a job at the end, places to retrain are clustered in the middle of inaccessable distant areas, relocation is prohibitively expensive, it looks expensive, awkward, time consuming just on the travel front and no clear view of an objective at the end.
it's as if the politicians are just sitting back and expecting individuals to spontaneously reorder society, they have no plan, they only introduce more obstacles.it's been like this for a long time but earlier the rewards to the individual exceeded the costs, now it just seems more trouble than it's worth.
New opioids, more powerful than fentanyl, are discovered in D.C. amid deadly wave of overdoses - The Washington Post
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:01
Forensic analysts have identified a new and highly potent family of synthetic opioids in the District's illicit drug supply, a worrisome discovery in a city already struggling with a wave of fatal overdoses that shows no signs of abating.
The opioids, found on used syringes examined by scientists at the D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences in September and October, are called protonitazene and isotonitazene, respectively. Experts estimate that each is at least several times more powerful than fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that has displaced heroin in many parts of the United States and is now responsible for the majority of the country's drug overdoses, including those in the nation's capital.
The identification of the ''nitazenes'' in D.C., first reported by WTOP, comes as the District is reckoning with an opioid crisis that has never been worse. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released this month show that the District saw an estimated 498 fatal overdoses over 12 months during the coronavirus pandemic '-- an extraordinary figure that eclipses the city's notably high homicide toll and is larger than the number of drug deaths in 13 states.
Falling out: Inside the unseen opioid epidemic in the nation's capital
As yet, there is no indication that the new drugs are widespread, and fentanyl remains the primary threat to opioid users in D.C. But their discovery is an ominous development because the drugs could be less vulnerable to some of the primary tools used to prevent overdoses, according to Alexandra Evans, a chemist at the D.C. public health lab.
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It is unknown whether fentanyl testing strips '-- which alert users to the possibly higher potency of their drugs '-- pick up the presence of the nitazene family of substances. And more of the overdose antidote naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, may be needed to revive someone who has used the new drugs.
''For us, it is concerning,'' Evans said. ''Naloxone should work, but because of the potency additional doses might be required.''
Alex Krotulski, associate director at the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education in Willow Grove, Pa., said protonitazene is three or four times more powerful than fentanyl '-- whose extreme potency has helped drive record-breaking overdose deaths in the United States '-- and isotonitazene is about 10 times more powerful. Krotulski, who has studied the nitazene substances closely in conjunction with forensic labs across the country, said they have been identified in the Midwest, South and Southwest, as well as on the Eastern Seaboard.
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''The majority of them that we see are more potent than fentanyl '-- sometimes way more potent than fentanyl '-- which is really scary,'' Krotulski said.
They'd battled addiction together. Then lockdowns became a 'recipe for death.'
He said there are no signs that the drugs are on the verge of displacing fentanyl, which is a primary commodity in the international drug trade. But he said the nitazenes' emergence is a reminder that even if the flow of fentanyl into the country is stanched, other opioids could take its place.
Fatal overdoses have soared across the country, driven by the omnipresence of fentanyl and exacerbated by the stressors of the pandemic, including shutdowns that affected many people's jobs and isolated drug users from support systems.
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The drug epidemic has similarly ravaged the District, Maryland and Virginia. Federal grant money has poured into D.C. to help combat the problem, and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) several years ago laid out a plan for reducing overdose deaths.
But in a city where most of the victims are older Black men in impoverished neighborhoods on the east side, the problem is still not getting the attention it warrants, said D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6).
''The numbers should be staggering to the city,'' Allen said. ''And it still feels invisible to so many people.''
Federal Vaccine Mandate Loses BIG in Court: Biden Team Cannot Show Vaccines Reduce Transmission of Covid - Becker News
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 15:21
The Biden administration was recently handed another legal setback on its unlawful federal vaccine mandates. A U.S. district court in Missouri has issued an injunction blocking the vaccine mandate for Medicare and Medicaid authorized health providers in ten states.
Judge Matthew Schelp absolutely nailed the irreconcilable legal and moral issues with the Biden administration's issuance of the unconstitutional federal vaccine mandates. Furthermore, the decision exposes the glaring holes in the medical reasoning of public health officials' unjustifiably relentless vaccination drive.
The judge notes a particular sticking point: Whether or not the ''vaccines'' significantly lower the transmissibility of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the ''variants.'' This passage should be absorbed in full, because it is absolutely spot-on:
''In general, the overwhelming lack of evidence likely shows CMS [Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services] had insufficient evidence to mandate vaccination on the wide range of facilities that it did. Looking even beyond the evidence deficiencies relating to the specific facilities covered, the lack of data regarding vaccination status and transmissibility'--in general'--is concerning. Indeed, CMS states that 'the effectiveness of the vaccine[s] to prevent disease transmission by those vaccinated [is] not currently known.' CMS also admits that the continued efficacy of the vaccine is uncertain.
No one questions that protecting patients and healthcare workers from contracting COVID is a laudable objective. But the Court cannot, in good faith, allow CMS to enact an unprecedented mandate that lacks a 'rational connection between the facts found and the choice made'.''
The American public needs to digest the court's conclusion: The Court cannot, in good faith, allow CMS to enact an unprecedented mandate that lacks a ''rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.''
It gets worse for the defendants. Judge Schelp continues to shred the vaccine mandate's rationale:
''CMS failed to consider or rejected obvious alternatives to a vaccine mandate without evidence. For example, CMS rejected daily or weekly testing'--an option that even OSHA approved in its ETS'--without citing any evidence for such a conclusion. Rather, it assured that it 'reviewed scientific evidence on testing' but ''found that vaccination is a more effective infection control measure.' As discussed elsewhere, this conclusion comes despite its admission that it lacks solid evidence19 regarding transmissibility of COVID by the vaccinated.''
This may be the U.S. courts' most refreshing intejection of reason and sanity yet in objection to the universal vaccination agenda.
The judge then issues another stinging line that is a memorable objection to the Biden administration's vaccine mandates:
''Although it is not the Courts duty to ask whether CMS's decision was 'the best one possible' or even whether there were 'better [] alternatives,''... the Court must ensure there exists a ''rational connection between the facts found and the choicemade.''
Legal reasoning does not get any better than this. As attorney Robert Barnes recently noted in his Locals community: ''The CMS Medicare mandate goes down hard. This is the best decision since Based Judge Stickman's ruling on Covid rules. Shows, again, the complete lack of evidence behind these mandates.''
Then, as the coup de grce, the judge wrecks the Biden administration's dismissal of natural immunity as a justifiable reason for a patient to go unvaccinated:
''As another example, CMS rejected mandate alternatives in those with natural immunity by a previous coronavirus infection'... (noting 'many uncertainties' about the immunity in those previously infected 'compared to people who are vaccinated'). But, elsewhere, it plainly contradicts itself regarding the value of natural immunity. (''[A]bout 100,000 a day have recovered from infection . . . . These changes reduce the risk to both health care staff and patients substantially, likely by about 20 million persons a month who are no longer sources of future infections.'')
''Such contradictions are tell-tale signs of unlawful agency actions,'' Judge Schelp concluded. The entire case can be read below:
Nov. 29 District Court Inju'... by Kyle Becker
It is the duty of judges everywhere to concur with such decisive reasoning and put a halt to Biden's unconstitutional federal vaccine mandate for good.
NOW READ:
The CDC Finally Admits a Massive Number of Americans Have 'Natural Immunity'
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Media coalition files legal brief JOINING Bannon's fight against DOJ protective order | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:58
EXCLUSIVE: CNN, ABC, and more than a dozen media companies file legal brief JOINING Steve Bannon's bid to lift the DOJ's order stopping him sharing 1,000 files in his contempt of Congress caseProsecutors are seeking a protective order that would prohibit Bannon or his team from disclosing materials from the caseJustice Department says prosecutors have handed over grand jury materials, interviews, and Jan. 6th Committee emails totaling more than 1,000 pagesMedia groups have submitted a motion arguing on Bannon's side The press group argues that the government's proposed order would violate the First Amendment The Feds argued in their own motion Sunday that Bannon is seeking to 'try this case in the media rather than in court'Bannon was indicted this month and charged with contempt of Congress after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6th committee Joining in the filing are CNN, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S. Political Editor For Dailymail.com
Published: 15:39 EST, 30 November 2021 | Updated: 17:03 EST, 30 November 2021
A coalition of major media companies has filed a legal brief in support of former Trump chief White House strategist Steven Bannon as he fights a proposed protective order in court that would keep him from publicizing Jan. 6th documents and information.
The media group '' which includes CNN, ABC, NBC, plus the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the parent company of the Wall Street Journal '' filed a motion to intervene as Bannon's fights the government's proposed order as part of his contempt of Congress case.
The order would severely limit what Bannon can do with the trove of information that the feds must share as part of the normal discovery process and have already begun handing over. According to a prior government filing, this includes more than 1,000 pages of witness testimony, grand jury material, and even emails from staff for the House Jan. 6th Committee investigating the Capitol riot.
The press group argues that the government's proposed order would violate the First Amendment '' and takes on the government's own contention that allowing Bannon to use the materials would result in pretrial publicity that could taint the jury pool.
A group of major media companies has filed a motion in U.S. District Court siding with former Trump chief White House strategist Steve Bannon as he opposes a proposed protective order
'Proper justification for a gag order necessarily includes a finding, in absence of its entry, that no 'less restrictive alternatives' can adequately prevent the perceived harm,' according to the filing, which media lawyers provided to clerks via email Nov. 26th pursuant in U.S. District Court and which was obtained by DailyMail.com.
The order 'would prohibit Bannon and his counsel from communicating with the press and public about any materials that the Government provides during discovery '' not just materials that the Government properly deems 'sensitive,' according to the filing.
The filing puts the mainstream press squarely on the side of Bannon, who has in the past said the Times should be 'ashamed and humiliated' and attacked the media as the 'opposition party' '' albeit on a procedural matter of mutual interest.
The order would prevent Bannon from sharing information he obtains through his defense with the media. Prosecutors accuse him of trying to turn his own trial into a media circus
Bannon said after being charged: ''I'm telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland,' in reference to the attorney general
The House Jan. 6th Committee subpoenaed Bannon as part of its probe
The panel is probing the Capitol riot. Panel members have cited reports Bannon was in a 'war room' at the Willard Hotel in D.C. when a Jan. 6th protest was being organized
The press group argues the government has failed to show less restrictive alternatives wouldn't accomplish the task. The media group notes Chief Judge Beryl Howell ordered the release of a video from another January 6th case, arguing the need for public access 'is very strong.' It states that Bannon 'has demonstrated his desire to communicate with the press and public about the Government's case against him.'
The Justice Department took a sterner view of what it said Bannon was trying to do with his case '' accusing him of using the discovery process to 'try this case in the media rather than in court.'
It pointed to Bannon's own comments outside the courthouse after his first preliminary hearing.
'I'm telling you right now, this is going to be the misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden,' Bannon said outside the courthouse.
'Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One, and we're going to go on the offense. We're tired of playing defense. We're going to go on the offense on this,' Bannon vowed.
Prosecutors wrote: 'Allowing the defendant to publicly disseminate reports of witness statements will have the collateral effect of witness tampering because it will expose witnesses to public commentary on their potential testimony before trial and allow a witness to review summaries of other witnesses' statements recounting the same event or events.'
News of the legal wrangling came on a day when Jan. 6th committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadow is cooperating with the panel, under an accommodation that could allow him to refuse to answer questions on sensitive areas where Trump is claiming executive privilege.
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What's Driving Urea Supply Shortages and What Experts Expect with DEF Pricing
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:53
High Demand Among Agriculture, Factory Shutdowns Leading to Higher PricesIn the early months of 2021, experts stated that spikes in urea prices were driven by greater demand in the agriculture industry and more prevalent use among diesel-engine vehicles. Although price increases during the spring planting season isn't uncommon, the 2021 spikes came earlier and have occurred more frequently than the past seven years.
As a direct result, experts predict increases for Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) will follow suit, much as they have this year as prices for finished lubricants have hit.
Composed of 32.5% urea and 67.5% de-ionized water, DEF is injected into the exhaust stream of diesel engines , breaking down harmful NOx emissions into nitrogen and water vapor. Because of its high content with urea, and the higher quality of urea it takes to manufacture DEF, the prices of urea most often drive the cost of DEF.
According to Jobbers World , the price of urea reached $442 a ton in June, up from $380 a ton in May. This represents a $62 per ton hike, an $0.08 to $0.10 per gallon increase. Since the start of the year, the escalating price of urea has pushed DEF prices up by close to $0.30 a gallon, an increase of nearly 45%.
The Lowdown on UreaFarmers globally have created a strong demand for urea, also a key ingredient in nitrogen fertilizer, in the midst of five major urea producers undergoing scheduled shutdowns that are expected to last 4 to 8 weeks.
Those shutdowns also create higher logistical costs for both urea and DEF, as they must be shipped from supply points further away.
Although the DEF index (NOLA) prices have stabilized after a six-month escalation, Jobbers World stated in June, ''many distributors, however, are faced with continued cost increases related to DEF. This has led to price increases in June that are decoupled from the index.
The world's highest consumer of urea and urea fertilizers is China , which uses almost one-third of global urea production. In 2018, the country's urea production hovered around 69.5 million metric tons.
''The quality of urea used in DEF is higher than that used for agricultural purposes, so when that base line of urea increases, all the products that use it increase up the chain,'' said SCL General Manager Travis Becktel . ''We don't usually get to prepare our customers for price increases, but in this case, it's safe to say our DEF customers should start making moves to account for those. That means contacting an SCL expert to talk about measures like bulk purchasing, savings elsewhere through different products or ordering patterns. SCL partners with a supplier that's minimally impacted by urea shortages and the supply of DEF right now as these factories continue their shutdowns, but supply is limited. We definitely encourage our customers to place their orders now so they can be prepared.''
Contact an SCL Consultant today In a wide range of automotive, industrial and commercial sectors, SCL remains steadfast on its commitment to product and industry knowledge, performance satisfaction and superior logistics. We protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. For more information on how we help can help with services including bulk purchasing or managing inventory, contact an SCL expert today.
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As Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Opens - FAA Accidentally Reveals Over 700 Previous Unknown Jeffrey Epstein Flights
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:45
As the trial for Ghislaine Maxwell opens, the Federal Aviation Administration accidentally revealed data on over 700 previous unknown Jeffrey Epstein flights on private jets.
Maxwell is known for her close association with financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in jail in New York City.
According to Insider, the records reveal 704 previously unknown flights taken by Epstein's planes. These include hundreds of trips from a three-year gap in the public record, from 2013 to 2016, when the jets' movements were unaccounted for.
The Federal Aviation Administration accidentally provided Insider with its internal flight records for Jeffrey Epstein's private jets, revealing more than 704 previously unknown flights https://t.co/J0qbYaTuiF
'-- Insider (@thisisinsider) November 29, 2021
TRENDING: BREAKING: Federal Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate Nationwide - Protects Health Care Workers Across America
This is shocking news as the Ghislaine trial kicks off this week.
The Daily Caller reported:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accidentally revealed more than 2,000 flight records connected to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's private jets, over 700 of which were previously unknown, according to Insider.
Information Act (FOIA) in January 2020 asking the FAA to disclose the agency's data linked to Jeffrey Epstein's private jets. Although the outlet's request was dismissed due to a legal exemption designated by Congress known as ''Exemption 7,'' the FAA unintentionally sent Insider a chunk of Epstein's flight data, which included departures and arrivals, as part of an unrelated FOIA request earlier in 2021, according to the Insider report.
The flight records reportedly hold data on approximately 2,300 flights taken on four of Epstein's private jets between 1998 and 2020.
The federal records also revealed 704 previously unknown trips that occurred on Epstein's jets, which included flights between 2013 and 2016, according to Insider. The FAA data does not include the names of passengers.
'Hamilton' Had Some Unscripted Lines for Pence. Trump Wasn't Happy. - The New York Times
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:30
U.S. | 'Hamilton' Had Some Unscripted Lines for Pence. Trump Wasn't Happy. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/us/mike-pence-hamilton.html Videotranscript
transcript
'Hamilton' Cast Sends Message to PenceOn Friday night, Mike Pence attended the Broadway musical in New York. After the performance, the actor Brandon Victor Dixon delivered a message to the vice president-elect.TK
On Friday night, Mike Pence attended the Broadway musical in New York. After the performance, the actor Brandon Victor Dixon delivered a message to the vice president-elect. Credit Credit... Andres Kudacki/Associated Press ''Hamilton,'' the hit Broadway musical about colonial rebels shaping the future of an unformed country, took an even more political turn at the end of its performance on Friday night.
With Vice President-elect Mike Pence attending the show, the cast used the opportunity to make a statement emphasizing the need for the new administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, a Republican, to work on behalf of all Americans.
It was a deeply felt and altogether rare appeal from the stage of a Broadway show '-- and it drew a surprisingly sharp rebuke from Mr. Trump on Saturday morning. The president-elect wrote in a post on Twitter that the ''Hamilton'' cast had ''harassed'' Mr. Pence by making the statement and had been ''very rude.''
''Apologize!'' Mr. Trump wrote at the end of one of two posts on the matter.
As the play ended, the actor who played Vice President Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, acknowledged that Mr. Pence was in the audience, thanked him for attending and added, ''We hope you will hear us out.''
''We, sir '-- we '-- are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,'' he said. ''We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.''
Image Brandon Victor Dixon in July. At the end of the show on Friday, he told Mr. Pence, ''We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf all of us.'' Credit... Brad Barket/Invision, via Associated Press The audience broke out in enthusiastic applause and cheers.
Mr. Pence was leaving as Mr. Dixon began to read the statement from the stage. A show spokesman said that Mr. Pence stood in the hallway outside the entrance to the auditorium and heard the full remarks.
Mr. Pence made no comment and was photographed smiling as he left the theater. But Mr. Trump, amid meetings on Saturday with possible candidates for White House and cabinet positions, inserted himself into the story with two Twitter posts before 9 a.m.
Mr. Dixon, who read the statement after playing the nation's third vice president in the show, quickly replied with a post of his own: ''@realDonaldTrump conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.''
Mr. Pence had been seated in the center orchestra section, prominently visible to audience members. He appeared engaged throughout the show and applauded after most of its numbers, audience members near him said.
When Mr. Pence entered the Richard Rodgers Theater in Manhattan, he was greeted with a mix of clapping and booing, according to theatergoers who posted on Twitter.
Image A protester's sign referred to a line from ''Hamilton'' while others shouted slogans at Mr. Pence as he left the theater. Credit... Andres Kudacki/Associated Press The audience gave a standing ovation during the play at the line, ''Immigrants, we get the job done,'' one theatergoer, Christy Colburn, wrote on Twitter.
She added: ''Crowd went NUTS at King George's lines 'when people say they hate you' & 'do you know how hard it is to lead?' He had to stop the song.''
The statement that Mr. Dixon read was written by the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda; its director, Thomas Kail; and the lead producer, Jeffrey Seller, with input from cast members, Mr. Seller said.
''We had to ask ourselves, how do we cope with this?'' Mr. Seller said. ''Our cast could barely go on stage the day after the election. The election was painful and crushing to all of us here. We all struggled with what was the appropriate and respectful and proper response. We are honored that Mr. Pence attended the show, and we had to use this opportunity to express our feelings.''
Mr. Seller said that there was some discussion about whether it was appropriate to inject a political statement into the night, and that those involved decided to wait until the end of the performance. He said no cast members had skipped the performance to protest Mr. Pence's appearance.
Mr. Trump has not seen ''Hamilton'' or inquired about tickets, Mr. Seller said, adding that the president-elect is ''welcome to attend.''
The show's politics '-- particularly its celebration of diversity and of the critical role immigrants played in the American Revolution and the early republic '-- stand in sharp contrast to some of the harsh language about immigrants that Mr. Trump used during the campaign and his focus on appealing to white men with statements about returning America to ''the good old days.''
His first appointments to his cabinet and other major positions have been dominated by older white conservative men, with relatively few women or minorities under consideration for top-ranking positions at this point.
One of the most acclaimed Broadway musicals in years, ''Hamilton'' has been especially celebrated by liberals for its resonant, provocative portrayal of America as a nation of immigrants '-- particularly with its casting of Hispanic or black actors in the roles of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers.
Austrians Who Refuse COVID Vaccine Could Face Prison, Health Officials Warn ' Children's Health Defense
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:25
On the latest episode of The Hill's ''Rising,'' journalist and political commentator Kim Iversen discussed Austria's strict vaccine mandate, and how the government gave people the ''illusion of choice'' before cracking down on unvaccinated.
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In the country with the ''strictest vaccine mandates in the world,'' Austrians who refuse the COVID vaccine could face serious penalties '-- including prison.
''Austria marks the first time a government has issued a mandate for all its citizens,'' said journalist and political commentator Kim Iversen, on the latest episode of The Hill's ''Rising.''
Iversen told viewers the Austrian government ''gave people the illusion of choice,'' but because people didn't get vaccinated voluntarily, ''now they're going to be forced into it.''
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced the mandate last week, telling the Austrian people:
''For a long time, perhaps too long, I and others assumed it would be possible to persuade Austrians to voluntarily get vaccinated, and that we could persuade them for their own protection and the protection of others, for their loved ones, friends and co-workers, but we must confront reality.''
As The Guardian reported:
''Those refusing to be vaccinated are likely to face administrative fines, which can be converted into a prison sentence if the fine cannot be recovered.''
Iversen said the vaccine policy was met with widespread backlash, with tens of thousands of Austrians taking to the streets to protest.
Watch the segment here:
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Newsmax and OAN Back Far-Left Pick for FCC Commissioner Who Wants to Censor Conservative Channels
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:25
One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are backing Joe Biden's far-left, radical pick for FCC commissioner, Gigi Sohn, despite the fact that she and the organization she co-founded have called for the blacklisting of conservative broadcasters '-- including OAN.
Gigi Sohn has made a number of public statements that should alarm conservatives. She has called for the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a conservative-owned network of local broadcasters, to be stripped of its license. She has called for an investigation into Fox News, which she has called ''dangerous to our democracy'' and ''state-sponsored propaganda.''
US President Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up from Air Force One prior to departing from La Crosse Regional Airport in La Crosse, Wisconsin, June 29, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
And the organization she co-founded, Public Knowledge, has called on cable and satellite providers to censor OAN, the same conservative broadcaster that is now backing her nomination.
Axios suggests that Newsmax and OAN might be backing the far-left nominee, despite her open hostility to conservative media, because they view the Sinclair Broadcasting Group '-- a top target of Sohn's '-- as a competitor. OAN and Newsmax both opposed the attempted merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media, a position also taken by Sohn.
In a comment to Breitbart News, a Newsmax spokeswoman said the network had received assurances from Sohn that she would not use her power to censor conservative media.
''While we have a number of disagreements with Gigi Sohn, she has confirmed to us that she does not, nor will she, support the closing of cable or broadcast outlets based on ideological views '-- but she will support independent networks, a key reason we are supporting her as is One America News,'' said the spokeswoman.
This, and its lack of candor during the failed merger with Tribune, calls into question Sinclair's fitness to be a broadcast licensee. Will @FCC do anything when Sinclair's licenses are up for renewal? https://t.co/EPNExBfXS0
'-- Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) October 21, 2018
Despite OAN and Newsmax's stance, Republican leaders in the Senate are lining up to slam Sohn's record of partisan comments.
''Gigi Sohn is a complete political ideologue who has disdain for conservatives. She would be a complete nightmare for the country when it comes to regulating the public airwaves,'' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
''Sohn, obviously, her views are going to be very far apart from where mine are on all the issues,'' Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said in a comment to Politico at the start of the month. ''She's very left, she's going to be a heavy hand in regulation.''
In addition to her stated support for censoring conservative broadcasters, Sohn has also accused Facebook of trying to ''appease right-wing extremists,'' indicating that she will use her power to push social media censorship as well.
For years, @Twitter & @Facebook tried to appease @realDonaldTrump & other right-wing extremists on phony claims of conservative bias. It didn't work. Great piece from @StevenLevy @WIRED https://t.co/3NiUqNrWma #Sec230
'-- Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) May 29, 2020
As Breitbart News previously reported, Sohn's track record of partisan statements includes a description of Brett Kavanaugh as an ''angry white man,'' and accusations that Republicans are trying to ''pack the courts'' and ''suppress the vote.''
Breitbart News has reached out to OAN For comment.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech's Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.
NATO Head Expresses Concern Over 'Unprovoked and Unexplained' Military Buildup on Ukraine Border
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 00:39
NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday expressed concern over a Russian military buildup near its border with Ukraine.
''We see Russian military build-up, we see heavy armor, we see drones and combat-ready troops,'' Stoltenberg in a statement. ''We call on Russia to be transparent because this is unprovoked and unexplained.''
The comments were made as ministers of the alliance arrived for a two-day meeting in Riga, Latvia, on Nov. 30 to discuss Russia's military buildup close to Ukraine's border, among other issues.
Ukrainian and Western officials expressed worry this month that a military buildup could signal plans by Moscow to invade its ex-Soviet neighbor. Moscow has repeatedly insisted it has no such intention and has accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making the claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs.
Stoltenberg said that Ukraine is a ''highly valued partner'' of NATO and there are different options on the table if Russia should renew any military aggression against the Eastern European nation.
''We have different options and we have demonstrated over the years in reactions to Russia's previous use of military force against Ukraine that we can sustain heavy economic and financial sanctions, political sanctions,'' the NATO leader told reporters in Riga.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday also warned Moscow that any escalatory actions against Kyiv would be of great concern to the United States, stressing that ''any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences.''
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about Afghanistan during a media briefing at the State Department in Washington on Aug. 25, 2021. (Alex Brandon/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)''We are very concerned about the movements we've seen along Ukraine's border,'' Blinken said. ''We know that Russia often combines those efforts with internal efforts to destabilize a country. That's part of the playbook and we're looking at it very closely.''
In response, Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned NATO against deploying its troops and weapons to Ukraine, saying it represents ''a red line'' for Russia and would trigger a strong response.
Speaking to participants of an online investment forum, Putin said that NATO's eastward expansion has threatened Russia's core security interests. He expressed concern that NATO could eventually use the Ukrainian territory to deploy missiles capable of reaching Moscow in five minutes.
''The emergence of such threats represents a 'red line' for us,'' Putin said. ''I hope that it will not get to that and common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail.''
The Russian leader noted that Russia is concerned about NATO drills near its borders, pointing at a recent exercise that involved U.S. strategic bombers.
''Strategic bombers, which carry precision weapons and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, were flying as close as 20 kilometers [12 miles] to our border,'' Putin said. ''That represents a threat for us,'' he added.
The comments come following a Nov. 26 press briefing, in which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv and Moscow have effectively ''been at war for eight years'' and that the ''likelihood of large-scale or continuation of a strong escalation by Russia or militants backed by the Russian Federation may take place any day.''
President Joe Biden makes remarks as he meets with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Oval Office on Sept.1, 2021. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)Zelensky told reporters at the briefing that his country's intelligence services had uncovered plans for a Russia-backed coup on Dec. 1 or Dec. 2, allegedly funded by one of Ukraine's richest oligarchs, Rinat Akhmetov. The remark prompted the Kremlin to respond, denying the allegations.
''Russia has never had any plans to take part. Russia generally never engages in such matters,'' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, rejecting Zelensky's claim, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.
President Joe Biden told reporters on Nov. 26 that he's concerned about the alleged coup plot, adding that he would ''in all probability'' call Putin to discuss Zelensky's claim.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Despite safety concerns, FDA panel narrowly endorses MERCK pill...
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 00:34
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday narrowly endorsed the use of Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics' oral Covid treatment pill, despite questions about the drug's effectiveness, safety and whether it would help the virus mutate into even more dangerous variants.
The FDA's Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee voted 13 to 10 to recommend emergency authorization of molnupiravir, an oral antiviral drug initially hailed as a potential game changer in the battle against Covid since it can be taken at home instead of at a hospital like other treatments. It's designed to treat adults with mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19 who are at high risk of severe disease. The 800 milligram pill is taken every 12 hours for five days after symptom onset.
The drug needs final authorization from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before it's available to the public on an emergency basis. The FDA doesn't have to take the panel's advice, but it often does.
Difficult voteMany members of the advisory committee described the vote as a difficult one, in which they had to carefully weight the risks and benefits of a drug that could help those most at risk but raised many unanswered questions. Several committee members recommended that Merck's emergency use authorization be revisited and potentially withdrawn if another treatment becomes available later.
"This was clearly a very difficult decision," said Dr. Michael Green, a pediatric transplant specialist at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases, said in voting for the drug. He said the lack of available therapies to treat high-risk individuals with Covid swayed him to support Merck's emergency application. He however recommended that the medication be limited to unvaccinated people most at risk for severe Covid.
Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah School of Medicine, voted against endorsing Merck's medication because the efficacy was "modest at best." Swaminathan also said he worried that the drug's potential affect on human DNA wasn't adequately understood.
Question on birth defects"Given the large potential population affected, the risk of widespread effects on potential birth defects, especially delayed effects on the male, has not been adequately studied," he said.
Merck originally said the drug was more than 50% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death, but a more full set of data presented to the FDA on Tuesday noted the drug is just 30% effective.
The FDA and Merck both recommended against using the drug in kids and pregnant women. Molnupiravir was found to be lethal to embryos in pregnant rats, also causing birth defects and reducing fetal body weight. It also caused other defects that interfered with bone growth in young pups, along with other abnormalities, the data shows.
Molnupiravir works by prompting the virus that causes Covid to mutate and produce errors inhibiting its ability to replicate and spread. However, some doctors and scientists worried that it could also enable the virus to mutate in a way that makes vaccines and treatments less effective.
Escape mutant concerns"Even if the probability is very low, 1 in 10,000 or 100,000, that this drug would induce an escape mutant from which the vaccines we have do not cover, that could be catastrophic for the whole world actually," Dr. James Hildreth, CEO of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., told the panel.
Nicholas Kartsonis, Merck's senior vice president of clinical research, said the company does not have data on the chances such a mutation could evolve. However, Kartsonis noted that Merck has not seen an increased rate of unusual changes to the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to human cells, compared with a placebo group in clinical trials. Hildreth told Kartsonis that it is incumbent on Merck to estimate the likelihood of escape mutants.
"We are exploring the feasibility of using currently available public SARS CoV-2 to sequence databases to monitor for the emergence of these novel variants in the replicase complex as well as the spike proteins," Kartsonis said.
Evolution of the virusPatrick Harrington, the FDA's senior virology reviewer, said its unclear whether changes in the the spike protein associated with molnupiravir could substantially impact the evolution of the virus more broadly.
"For molnupiravir to affect Sars-CoV-2 evolution beyond a treated individual, the variants would also have to be transmissible, and at this time we do not know if this is possible to a significant degree," Harrington told the panel.
Merck submitted its application in October for the FDA to authorize molnupiravir on an emergency basis. No oral anti-viral medications have been cleared to treat Covid so far. Pfizer is similarly seeking approval for its own oral Covid treatment pill that it said was 89% effective in preventing hospitalization and death when administered with a popular HIV drug.
Merck, in its initial application and presentation to the FDA advisory committee on Tuesday, said the pill was 50% effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization or death in an interim analysis of 762 patients. However, analysis of the full population of about 1,400 participants showed lower efficacy rate of 30%, according to the company.
Kartsonis told the FDA advisory committee that based on the interim analysis of 762 participants, molnupiravir significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death during the clinical trial, with nine out of 10 deaths occurring in the placebo group, which didn't receive the medication.
Merck did not identify any safety concerns associated with molnupiravir during the clinical trial, according to Kartsonis. A small number of patients experienced diarrhea, nausea and dizziness, he said.
Surge is imminent"Our hospitals currently have more than 50,000 Americans struggling with this disease and as we enter the winter months, another surge is imminent, potentially in the setting of emerging variants of concerns," Kartsonis said. "We remain in dire need of novel effective well-tolerated and conveniently administered therapies to treat COVID 19" in outpatient settings, he added.
Mark Seaton, a research officer with the FDA's division of pharmacology and toxicology for infectious diseases, told the advisory panel that malformations of the eye, kidney and skeleton in rat fetuses indicate molnupiravir could cause harm to human fetuses if administered to pregnant women. However, the abnormal bone and cartilage formation observed in animals is not thought to be relevant to adult humans, according to Seaton.
Unethical to denyDr. Janet Cragan, a medical officer at the CDC's birth defects division, said it wouldn't be ethical to prescribe molnupiravir during pregnancy given the potential side effects, but denying the drug to a pregnant woman suffering from Covid is also problematic.
"I'm not sure you can ethically tell a pregnant woman who has Covi-19 that she can't have the drug if she decided that's what she needs," Cragan said before voting yes, noting that her views do not represent the CDC.
"Pregnancy itself can be considered a risk factor for progression to severe Covid illness," she said. "We know that respiratory illnesses increase in severity and can become life threatening as pregnancy progresses and that's certainly true of Covid."
Reducing harmDr. Hildreth, the CEO of Meharry Medical College, was unequivocal in his opposition.
"Do we want to reduce the risk for the mother by 30% of harm, while exposing the embryo and fetus to much higher risk of harm by using this drug? And my answer is no," Hildreth said. "And there's no circumstance in which I would advise a pregnant woman to take this drug."
Robert Heflich, director of the FDA's genetic and molecular toxicology division, said the risk of molnupiravir altering human genes in a clinical setting is low. A study in rats showed no increased mutation frequency in the liver or bone marrow of rodents, according to Merck.
However, the study was conducted as a follow-up to a previous investigation using rodents that was inconclusive about whether molnupiravir affects the DNA. Molnupiravir was found to affect genetic material during in vitro investigations using bacteria and hamster cells.
Pfizer Is Lobbying to Thwart Whistleblowers From Exposing Corporate Fraud
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 00:23
Pfizer and other large pharmaceutical corporations are pushing to block legislation that would make it easier for whistleblowers to hold companies liable for corporate fraud.
In the midst of a dizzying legislative environment, with much attention focused on the Build Back Better debate, major corporate interests, including Pfizer, are fighting an update to the False Claims Act, a Civil War-era law that rewards whistleblowers for filing anti-fraud lawsuits against contractors on behalf of the government.
The law has historically returned $67 billion to the government, with whistleblowers successfully helping uncover wrongdoing by military contractors, banks, and pharmaceutical companies.
The law has been particularly thorny for Pfizer. In 2009, Pfizer paid $2.3 billion in criminal and civil fines to settle allegations that the company illegally marketed several drugs for off-label purposes that were specifically not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The company instructed its marketing team to advertise Bextra, which was approved only for arthritis and menstrual cramps, for acute and surgical pain issues. The lawsuit, brought under the False Claims Act through the actions of six whistleblowers, ended in one of the largest health care fraud settlements in history.
But the law poses far less risk today to companies engaged in criminal behavior. That's because the anti-fraud statute has been severely hampered by a series of federal court decisions that radically expanded the scope of what's known as ''materiality.'' In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in Universal Health Services v. United States ex rel. Escobar that a fraud lawsuit could be dismissed if the government continued to pay the contractor.
The court reasoned that if the government continues to pay a company despite fraudulent activity, then the fraud is not ''material'' to the contract. That ruling functionally neutered application of the False Claims Act against many companies that are so large that the government cannot abruptly sever payments, especially against large health care interests and defense contractors.
Recent court decisions, including cases involving Honeywell and Halliburton, show contractors winning dismissal of fraud cases by simply citing ''continued government payments.'' Last year, a federal district court dismissed a False Claims Act case against engineering company Aecom brought by a whistleblower alleging widespread billing fraud for a $2 billion contract in Afghanistan. Aecom lawyers also cited the government's continued payments to the company. The lawsuit is now under appeal.
What's more, the federal government has taken an active role in discouraging cases. In 2018, the Trump administration's Justice Department issued the ''Granston Memo,'' which encouraged the dismissal of more whistleblower-initiated suits under the False Claims Act.
In October, Attorney General Merrick Garland officially rescinded the ''overly restrictive'' memo, a move widely seen as designed to promote greater False Claims Act enforcement.
The erosion of the statute has brought together a bipartisan push, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to update the law to give whistleblowers greater protection against potential industry retaliation and make it more difficult for companies charged with fraud to dismiss cases on procedural grounds.
Earlier this year, as he introduced the legislation, Grassley took to the Senate floor to showcase images of scrapped multibillion Afghanistan War contracts and examples of fraud cases that have escaped accountability because of the judicial constraints placed on the False Claims Act.
''Defendants get away with scalping the taxpayers because some government bureaucrats failed to do their job,'' thundered the senator. ''In my many years of investigating the Department of Defense, it has taught me that a Pentagon bureaucrat is rarely motivated to recognize fraud. That's because the money doesn't come out of their pocket.''
''A Pentagon bureaucrat is rarely motivated to recognize fraud. That's because the money doesn't come out of their pocket.''
The legislation, the False Claims Amendments Act of 2021, adjusts the materiality standard to include instances in which the government made payments despite knowledge of fraud ''if other reasons exist'' for continuing the contract. The bill also expands the anti-retaliation protections of the law, which currently only cover current whistleblower employees of a company. The bill seeks to prevent an industry from blacklisting former whistleblowers seeking employment.
That push has run into a buzzsaw of corporate opposition, some of it disclosed and some of it shrouded from public view. Pfizer hired Hazen Marshall, a former policy director for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to lobby on the issue, along with the law firm Williams & Jensen, a powerhouse that employs an array of former congressional staffers.
Pfizer, which has cast itself as a hero in the fight against Covid-19 and a trustworthy corporate citizen, did not respond to a request for comment.
In an initial test vote, the bill was blocked. In August, Grassley proposed his False Claims Amendments Act as an amendment to the bipartisan infrastructure agreement in the Senate. The bill, however, never reached the floor for a vote because of an objection lodged on behalf of Senate Democrats.
In October, the legislation again found a hearing. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., attempted to erase most of the bill in a Judiciary Committee meeting. The amendment Cotton proposed sought to strike all substantive lines of the bill except for the first title, which is simply the description of the legislation. During committee debate, Cotton argued that the Supreme Court ''made the right decision'' in the Escobar case and the ''continued payment'' standard for materiality. The legislation ''potentially could increase health care costs,'' the senator argued, echoing industry claims that litigation from the False Claims Act would force health care interests to raise prices.
The American Hospital Association reportedly lobbied to delay a vote, but the bill eventually passed 15-7 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the support of Grassley and his main co-sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
''This is a very concerted lobbying effort that really took our supporters on Capitol Hill by surprise.''
''This is a very concerted lobbying effort that really took our supporters on Capitol Hill by surprise,'' said Stephen Kohn, a whistleblower attorney with the law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto.
Many of the companies engaged in the lobbying fight have chosen to conceal their efforts through undisclosed third-party groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has made the Grassley bill one of its primary targets for defeat. The chamber does not disclose its membership or which corporations direct its advocacy, but previous reporting suggests companies such as Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, and JPMorgan Chase, among others that have faced False Claims Act violations in the past.
Other trade groups '-- including the American Hospital Association, the Healthcare Leadership Council, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the American Bankers Association '-- have lobbied against the bill without disclosing the companies directing their actions.
The known corporate interests lobbying on the Grassley bill include Pfizer, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Merck, and Genentech. These companies listed the legislation on lobbying disclosures. All five have paid nine-figure settlements over health care fraud brought to light through the False Claims Act.
''Drug companies are notorious for paying kickbacks, giving benefits in exchange for a competitive advantage. Drug companies and health care firms are about 80 percent of the False Claim[s] Act recoveries for a reason,'' said Kohn.
In the case of Pfizer's record settlement, whistleblowers charged that the company promoted Bextra for uses that were not approved by the FDA, placing patients at risk for heart attack and stroke. The company allegedly paid doctors kickbacks for off-label uses. The False Claims Act, like other ''qui tam'' laws, awards whistleblowers a portion of the money the government recovers from lawsuits.
''Drug companies are notorious for paying kickbacks, giving benefits in exchange for a competitive advantage.''
''The whole culture of Pfizer is driven by sales, and if you didn't sell drugs illegally, you were not seen as a team player,'' said John Kopchinski, one of the Pfizer whistleblowers, following the settlement.
The Grassley initiative is championed by a diverse array of watchdog groups over government waste. Taxpayers Against Fraud, the National Whistleblower Center, the Project on Government Oversight, and the Government Accountability Project are among the groups officially supporting the update to the anti-fraud law.
But advocates have expressed confusion over the involvement of several other supposed taxpayer protection organizations. Citizens Against Government Waste and Americans for Tax Reform, two conservative groups that do not disclose donor information, filed a letter to lawmakers urging them to vote down the Grassley measure.
Despite Citizens Against Government Waste's official focus on fighting government waste, the very intent of the False Claims Act, the group's lobbying arm argued in a letter that the bill was not appropriate for inclusion in the infrastructure package because it is ''not related to traditional infrastructure'' and the bill is not fully ''understood by the 95 senators who have not cosponsored'' the legislation. Americans for Tax Reform similarly argued that the legislation had not ''received proper debate.''
Neither Citizens Against Government Waste nor Americans for Tax Reform responded to a request for comment explaining why they have lobbied so aggressively against taxpayer protection legislation and whether any donor interests are involved.
White House asks agencies to delay consequences for vaccine mandate violations
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 00:22
Workforce
By Natalie AlmsNov 29, 2021Agencies are being encouraged not to discipline unvaccinated feds beyond education, counseling and letters of reprimand until after holiday season.
The Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, Jason Miller, and the Office of Personnel Management's director, Kiran Ahuja, wrote in an email sent to agencies Monday morning that this is ''given'... tremendous progress'' in vaccination rates among the federal workforce.
They also stressed that ''we have been clear that the goal of the federal employee vaccination requirement is to protect federal workers, not to punish them.''
The administration's vaccination deadline passed on Nov. 22. As of Nov. 23, about 92% of federal employees have had at least one dose. Another 4.5% were waiting on exception requests or already had one approved.
For the remaining 3.5%, the White House's Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce is recommending that agencies put in place a ''progressive discipline'' process that starts with education and counseling before escalating to measures like suspensions. The ultimate consequence for continued noncompliance is termination from federal service.
''We encourage your agencies to continue with robust education and counseling efforts through this holiday season as the first step in an enforcement process, with no subsequent enforcement actions, beyond that education and counseling and, if warranted, a letter of reprimand, for most employees who have not yet complied with the vaccination requirement until the new calendar year begins in January,'' Ahuja and Miller wrote.
Agencies have discretion to decide for themselves how to implement the White House's mandate for their employees. Some may need to start more robust enforcement for workplace safety reasons, for example, before the new year, Miller and Ahuja wrote.
Nonetheless, they emphasized that ''in general, consistency across government'' in terms of enforcement ''is desired.''
Everett Kelley, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, a federal employee union representing about 700,00 feds and DC government workers, said in a statement about the announcement that the union was pleased with the email and that ''the administration has done the right thing by listening to federal workers.''
The union had previously
asked the White House to delay the mandate entirely until after the holiday season, as it did for a similar mandate for federal contractors.
About the Author
Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.
Workforce
White House rolls out DEIA strategy On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued agencies a roadmap to guide their efforts to develop strategic plans for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA), as required under a as required under a June executive order.
Defense
Why DOD is so bad at buying software The Defense Department wants to acquire emerging technology faster and more efficiently. But will its latest attempts to streamline its processes be enough?
Bill would target foreign cash behind congressional testimony - Axios
Tue, 30 Nov 2021 14:49
New legislation would force policy experts who testify before Congress to disclose any foreign government funding for nonprofits employing them, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: Existing rules provide a measure of disclosure, but Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) says loopholes have allowed congressional witnesses to routinely sidestep the requirements, potentially obscuring foreign funding behind expert testimony used to shape U.S. law. The law could affect numerous experts from think tanks.
Many such organizations already disclose foreign funding on their own websites. The legislation would nonetheless spotlight that funding ahead of congressional testimony.For others, it could force new information into the public domain about financial links to foreign governments, or individuals in countries the U.S. considers global adversaries.Banks, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, is seeking Democratic cosponsors for the legislation, a spokesperson told Axios.What's happening: Banks' legislation, the Truth in Testimony Reform Resolution, would dramatically expand foreign funding disclosure requirements for witnesses at congressional hearings.
All House witnesses would be required to list foreign government donors to think tanks and research outfits employing them, whether they are testifying in an individual capacity or as representatives of those organizations.They also would have to list funding from foreign political parties and state-owned entities.The legislation would expand the disclosure requirement to include all such funding, not just funding for work on the specific policy areas at issue in their testimony.In a statement, Banks' office focused on Chinese influence, pointing to recent reporting about donations by Communist Party-linked trade groups to U.S. think tanks.
The resolution would impose substantial new disclosure requirements on people with financial or business links to Chinese nationals, as well as entities in other adversarial foreign governments.If the bill passed, House witnesses would need to note any paid advisory or consulting agreement with any entity '-- private or governmental '-- based in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela or Cuba.What they're saying: ''Congress works best when all the cards are face up on the table," Banks told Axios in an emailed statement.
"It's past time we expose malign foreign influence and take the masks off individuals who testify before Congress while taking money from foreign countries."The big picture: In January, a day after the new Congress was sworn in, House Democrats announced new, more stringent truth-in-testimony requirements for congressional witnesses.
Multiple witnesses since then have sidestepped the requirements by claiming they were testifying in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of foreign-funded organizations employing them.
Face masks DO harm children's development: Study blames them for 'significantly reduced' development | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 30 Nov 2021 14:34
Social distancing measures including face masks are suspected of causing young children's development to have drop by up to 23 per cent during the COVID pandemic, according to a new study.
Brown University scientists Sean CL Deoni, Jennifer Beauchemin, Alexandra Volpe, and Viren D'Sa, penned the review, in conjunction with the global consulting firm Resonance, collecting data from 1,600 children - and their caregivers - who have been enrolled in the study between the ages of 0 and 5 on a rolling basis.
The probe analyzed the cognitive development of the youngsters through infancy, childhood and adolescence, and looked at how average development scores in three key areas had been affected during the COVID era - with shocking results.
The report found that there was a 23 per cent drop in scores measuring kids' intelligence quotients since the start of the pandemic. Results showed the early learning composite mean result dropped by a whopping 23 per cent, from a high of just under 100 in 2019, to 77 in 2021
In the study, researchers first analyzed 1,070 assessments administered on 605 kids prior to March 2020, when COVID lockdowns and masking began.
Then, a further 154 assessments from 118 kids administered between March 2020 and June 2021, during the height of the pandemic, were carried out.
Meanwhile, 39 children born in 2018 and 2019 were analyzed over the course of the pandemic, into 2021.
The team then carried out checks on three widely accepted measures of child development - the early learning composite (ELC), verbal development quotient (VDQ), and non-verbal development quotient (NVDQ).
A child's early learning composite is derived from their fine motor, visual reception, receptive, and expressive language scales, and is the early years equivalent to an IQ score.
The two development quotients measures how well a child is maturing in their language skills and other skills as compared with a sample of youngsters their own age.
The study's findings come as parents across the globe grapple with the idea that wearing masks may interfere with the natural learning experiences and communication skills of their young children
Results showed the early learning composite mean result dropped by a whopping 23 per cent, from a high of just under 100 in 2019, to around 80 in 2020, and finally 77 in 2021.
Meanwhile, the verbal development quotient also dropped dramatically, from an average of 100 in 2018 to just below 90 in 2020, and around 70 in 2021.
The non-verbal development quotient also experienced a similar dip, from a mean score of around 105 in 2019, to 100 in 2020 and around 80 in 2021.
The study concluded that 'children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic.'
'In addition,' the report adds, 'masks worn in public settings and in school or daycare settings may impact a range of early developing skills, such as attachment, facial processing, and socioemotional processing.'
Two tests determining kids' development quotients were conducted as well, illustrating marked drops since the start of the pandemic concerning how well children are maturing in their language skills and other skills as compared with a sample of youngsters their own age
The authors said that boys from poor backgrounds were most at risk of a drop in cognitive testing scores, with richer parents better able to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
They explained: 'Comparing yearly mean scores since 2011, controlling for age, gender, demographic, and socioeconomic indicators, we find striking evidence of declining overall cognitive functioning in children beginning in 2020 and continuing through 2021.
'We find that males appear significantly more impacted than females, and that higher socioeconomic status (SES, as measured by maternal education) helps buffer against this negative impact.
'On a more individual level, we examined longitudinal pre and during-pandemic trends in the same children from 2018 to 2021, again finding declines in ability in 2020 and 2021.'
The study's findings come as parents across the globe grapple with the idea that wearing masks may interfere with the natural learning experiences and communication skills of their young children.
'There are sensitive periods in early childhood development in which language development and emotional development are really rapidly developing for the first few years of life,' Ashley Ruba, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Child Emotion Lab, told CNN in August.
The doctor added that developing children need to see others' subtle verbal or facial cues to accurately discern how someone is feeling - a skill that proves paramount as the youngster age.
'The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the child health landscape, with pregnant mothers and individuals, and children living in a strikingly different economic, psychosocial, and educational environment than what was present just 18 months ago,' the study states
What's more, not being able to see someone's face also inhibits kids from picking up whether something or a situation is safe or dangerous, Ruba further asserted.
With that said, masks may not be thing spurring the drastic reduction in kids' cognitive abilities, the study states, adding that there are likely a range of pandemic-related factors that can be blamed for the dip - specifically the lack of social interactions between the still-developing youths.
That came after schools were closed for in-person learning, with many experts blaming the lack of social contact for a boom in mental health issues among children, and some areas seeing a spike in youth suicides.
COVID infections tend to be harmless for younger children, with just 731 confirmed COVID deaths recorded for youngsters aged between 0 and 18 from March 2020 to November 24 2021, according to CDC figures.
That has seen many parents call for most restrictions to be lifted for children, particularly as children aged five and up can now get vaccinated.
Those who want kids to remain masked say there's no way of knowing if a perfectly healthy child may suffer a severe COVID infection. They also highlight how children may not fall seriously-ill, but could still pass the infection onto an adult such as a parent, grandparent or teacher who could suffer serious or even deadly symptoms.
'The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the child health landscape, with pregnant mothers and individuals, and children living in a strikingly different economic, psychosocial, and educational environment than what was present just 18 months ago.
'Against this environmental backdrop, unanswered questions remain regarding the impact of the work-from-home, shelter-in-place, and other public health policies that have limited social interaction and typical childhood experiences on early child neurodevelopment.'
It adds: 'While socioeconomic factors appear to mitigate against the negative consequences of the pandemic, the primary factors underlying our observed trends remain unknown.
'Understanding these factors are critical to helping ensure affected children rebound as the pandemic winds down and they re-enter daycares and schools; as well as implementing additional public health and educational policies that address the most affected of children, particularity those in lower income families.'
US COVID Deaths In 2021 Have Surpassed 2020's Total... Despite Vaccines, Treatments | ZeroHedge
Tue, 30 Nov 2021 14:00
COVID-19 has killed more people in 2021 than 2020.
The virus was reported as the underlying cause of death (or a contributing cause of death) for an estimated 377,883 people in 2020, accounting for 11.3% of deaths, according to the CDC. As of Monday, more than 770,000 people have died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That means over 15,000 more people have died in 2021 than last year from COVID-19 '' and there's still more than a month left.
This has happened despite the fact that last year no Americans were vaccinated (now 59% of all eligible Americans have had the "life-saving" jab) and some 17% have received booster shots...
The 2021 U.S. death toll caught some doctors by surprise. They had expected vaccinations and precautionary measures like social distancing and scaled-down public events to curb the spread of infections and minimize severe cases. But, The Wall Street Journal has its own explanation, suggesting lower-than-expected immunization rates as well as fatigue with precautionary measures like masks allowed the highly contagious Delta variant to spread, largely among the unvaccinated, epidemiologists say.
Among missteps, Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious-diseases doctor at Stanford University, said, public-health officials failed to effectively communicate that the purpose of vaccines is to protect against severe cases of Covid-19 rather than to prevent the spread of infection entirely, which may have led some to doubt the effectiveness of the shots.
CDC has an excuse too, claiming that there was a larger undercount of Covid-19 deaths in 2020, when the disease was newer and a scarcity of tests made confirming some infections difficult.
Deaths remain concentrated in older people (81% of 2020 deaths were among people aged 65 and above, and 69% of the same cohort in 2021).
Still could be worse (and still could be if this latest trend continues in the US)...
''The vaccine is not a panacea,'' said Ana Bento, an epidemiologist at Indiana University-Bloomington.
Well that's pretty clear now, eh!?
This wasn't supposed to happen...
WEF Open Forum called off following threats - SWI swissinfo.ch
Tue, 30 Nov 2021 13:59
The first Open Forum series of panel discussions during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos took place in 2003 (archive picture from 2005). Keystone/Alessandro Della ValleAn open doors event to coincide with the 2022 World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos has been called off due to threats.
This content was published on November 27, 2021 - 11:44
November 27, 2021 - 11:44swissinfo.ch/ug
Members of the Open Forum External link event have increasingly been intimidated and even received death threats from conspiracy theorists during the Covid pandemic, a spokesman for the forum organisers told the Swiss news agency, Keystone-SDA, on Friday.
It was decided to cancel the event in January as it was difficult to ensure security at an open doors event, the spokesman added.
Additional measures have been taken, including regular postal mail checks, he said but gave no further details.
The Open Forum panel discussions at a local school in Davos were launched in 2003 following criticism about the closed-door main WEF event.
Numerous government officials, civil society leaders, artists, and business representatives have participated in the events since.
The forum aims ''to encourage dialogue and spread awareness on critical issues by providing a platform on which ideas, thoughts and questions can be expressed and tackled in an open environment,'' the WEF organisers say.
The main WEF meeting under the motto ''Working Together, Restoring Trust'', is scheduled for January 17-21.
FACT FOCUS: New omicron variant fuels old misinformation | AP News
Tue, 30 Nov 2021 13:40
A new coronavirus variant revived old conspiracy theories this week as widely shared social media posts falsely claimed the omicron variant was nothing but a cover-up for darker agendas.
Some online personalities over the weekend suggested omicron was invented as an excuse to change voting laws, or as a distraction from this week's sex trafficking trial of longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell.
Others baselessly claimed President Joe Biden made up the new variant to scare Americans, even as omicron, which was first identified in South Africa, hadn't yet been detected in the U.S. as of Monday.
Here's a closer look at the facts.
CLAIM: The government, Democrats or other powerful individuals made up the new omicron variant of the coronavirus to push for mail-in ballots in the 2022 midterm elections, distract from Maxwell's trial or scare Americans.
THE FACTS: The omicron variant is real and wasn't invented as part of a nefarious plot, despite the insistence of some social media users over the weekend.
''The Biden Administration and Dr. Fauci, seems to be making up new COVID strains, only to further scare Americans half to death,'' one Facebook user wrote Sunday in a widely shared post.
''Here comes the MEV - the Midterm Election Variant!'' read a tweet. ''They NEED a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to CHEAT during an election - but we're not going to let them!''
Another post that ricocheted across social media platforms claimed the omicron ''hysteria'' was strategically timed to distract news consumers from focusing on Maxwell's trial.
These claims aren't based on evidence, and conflate unrelated events to promote opinions. They ignore that the virus was first reported by officials in South Africa and was identified by foreign health agencies before Biden addressed it. They also hinge on stale misconceptions: As the AP has previously reported, there is no historical evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting.
The resurgence of old conspiracy theories such as these is common in periods of uncertainty, according to Rachel Moran, a misinformation scholar at the University of Washington. She says these falsehoods can be attractive because we've seen versions of them before, and they allow us to mentally escape the reality that the virus is still a threat.
''The most recent variant is coming at a time when a lot of people are getting back to 'normal' '-- finally spending Thanksgiving with loved ones and making plans for Christmas '-- and the potential for a new wave of a dangerous virus is daunting and exhausting,'' Moran said. ''It's unsurprising that people want to believe that it's fake and engineered by government or Big Pharma as this means that they don't have to deal with the potential of going backwards rather than forwards.''
Scientists in South Africa first detected the omicron variant last week after sequencing the genetic material of virus samples there. The World Health Organization labeled it a '' variant of concern '' when it became clear that omicron had several mutations that could affect how it behaves or how easily it spreads.
The WHO warned Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is ''very high'' based on the early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with ''severe consequences.''
Biden, meanwhile, urged caution but not panic, since so much is still unknown about the variant. Researchers are still assessing whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness or more able to evade vaccines than other versions of the virus.
___
This is part of AP's effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.
News crew security guard dies after being shot during attempted robbery - CBS News
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 15:19
A security guard has died after he was shot while he protected a San Francisco Bay Area television news crew covering a smash-and-grab theft, part of a rash of organized retail crime in the region.
"We are devastated by the loss of security guard and our friend, Kevin Nishita. Our deepest sympathy goes to Kevin's wife, his children, his family, and to all his friends and colleagues," KRON-TV's vice president and general manager, Jim Rose, said in a statement issued Saturday.
Nishita was an armed guard for Star Protection Agency and provided security for television news crews in the region, who are often targeted by robbers for their equipment.
He was shot in the abdomen during an attempted robbery of KRON-TV's camera equipment near downtown Oakland on Wednesday, police said.
The news crew was covering a recent robbery where a group of thieves broke in and stole from a clothing store.
A reward of $32,500 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest in Nishita's killing.
Nishita was a police officer for the cities of Hayward, San Jose, Colma before retiring in 2018. The Alameda County Sheriff's office said deputies escorted his body from the hospital with full law enforcement honors.
Kevin Nishita Colma Police Department "This senseless loss of life is due to yet another violent criminal act in the Bay Area. We hope that offering a reward will help lead to the arrest of those responsible so they can face justice for this terrible tragedy," Rose said.
The region has been struck by organized retail thefts in which bands of thieves, some carrying crowbars and hammers, break into high-end stores and snatch merchandise.
Similar thefts have been reported in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills and elsewhere in the country.
At least eight thieves stormed a Home Depot store in Lakewood on Black Friday and grabbed hammers, crowbars and sledgehammers in the tool section before dashing off in a getaway vehicle, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
Four people who may have participated in the Home Depot theft were later arrested in Beverly Hills after officers stopped two cars that were part of a caravan of vehicles driving around the city's business district, police Lt. Giovanni Trejo said. A bystander called police after seeing that some of the vehicles did not display license plates, he said.
Meantime, police in Los Angeles arrested three people suspected of storming a designer clothing store on Melrose Place after stopping a vehicle and seeing clothes in plain view, said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez. He said more than 10 people ransacked another store on La Brea Avenue.
The thefts are believed to be part of sophisticated criminal networks that recruit people to steal merchandise in stores throughout the country and then sell it online. Experts and law enforcement officials say the thefts are ratcheting up as the holiday shopping season gets underway.
Trending News
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If you could make an open Facebook without using carbon-spewing blockchain tech why would you burn all that carbon? Do you care about the survival of our species?
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 13:47
It's even worse than it appears.
If you could make an open Facebook without using carbon-spewing blockchain tech
why would you burn all that carbon? Do
you care about the survival of our species?
#
New Drummer
verb that generates Markdown from an outline or part of an outline.
#
Yesterday I wrote a bit about BingeWorthy, the app I wrote a couple of years ago that helps you find new shows to binge based on the ones you and your friends like. We need more users for it to really achieve its potential. # I would be happy to do a deal with a tech company on this product. I think Twitter would be great, but there are lots of companies where it could find a good home. I just want to see millions of people using so I can meet all the people who like the same stuff I do. I think we'd take over the world, figuratively. ðŸ # A network of people based on their entertainment tastes would make sense for a growing service like Hulu with lots of highly rated shows, that wants to grow their service. Part of the philosophy that "people come back to places that send them away." # BTW -- here's the readout of people most like me in their ratings. I don't know @alisonjfields but we seem to like the same stuff. @jsavin is #1. I also like to see @nakedjen and @leolaporte high on the list. #
ALL CLIPS
VIDEO - (21) BBC Politics on Twitter: "Minimum dose interval for booster jabs to be halved from 6 months to 3 months and all adults to be offered booster Covid vaccine, Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirms https://t.co/q4Clo5uc6k https://t.co/jHwMeteRzU"
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 14:53
BBC Politics : Minimum dose interval for booster jabs to be halved from 6 months to 3 months and all adults to be offered booster'... https://t.co/LHySNJAOIg
Mon Nov 29 15:47:55 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Covid Omicron: Time to consider mandatory jabs, EU chief says - BBC News
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:46
Image source, EPA
Image caption, Ursula von der Leyen said it was "appropriate" for EU states to consider compulsory jabs
European Union countries should consider mandatory vaccination to combat Covid and the Omicron variant, the head of its Commission has said.
Ursula von der Leyen said vaccines would be crucial in the fight against the "highly contagious" new variant.
Some two dozen countries have reported cases of Omicron, and the EU has tightened travel restrictions since it was first reported earlier this month.
European countries have also been facing a wider spike in cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said early signs were that most cases of the Omicron variant were "mild".
On Wednesday, Ms von der Leyen said it was "understandable and appropriate" for EU members to discuss mandatory Covid vaccinations given that a third of the bloc's population was unvaccinated.
"How we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union? This needs discussion. This needs a common approach, but it is a discussion that I think has to be led," she told a news conference in Brussels.
Only individual EU states can enforce vaccine mandates and some are already taking steps in that direction.
Austria has announced compulsory Covid vaccinations from February next year, while Greece is fining all unvaccinated over-60s '‚¬100 (£85) a month.
Germany's incoming Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has said he supports compulsory jabs. In an interview with Bild television, Mr Scholz said he wanted compulsory vaccinations from March and also said a faster rollout of booster jabs was needed.
'No sign vaccines won't work'
The WHO, which declared Omicron "of concern" on Friday following its rapid spread in South Africa, says it will know more about the new variant within days.
Omicron is becoming the dominant Covid strain in South Africa, where the daily number of recorded cases doubled on Wednesday. Officials there say the variant could be fuelling the surge.
However, the WHO has already said it believes existing vaccines "will still prevent severe disease" among people who contract the new variant.
Asked about the severity of cases, WHO epidemiologist Dr Maria van Kerkhove said: "There is some indication that some of the patients are presenting with mild disease.
"There is still suggestion of increased hospitalisations across South Africa but this could be the sheer fact that we have more cases, and if you have more cases you have more hospitalisations."
The US on Wednesday became the latest country to report a case of Omicron. Other nations include Nigeria, Norway and South Korea. Several countries have tightened their borders to halt the spread of Omicron.
Media caption, WHO: 'Omicron is a variant of concern, not panic'
But the WHO warned against "punitive" travel measures imposed on southern African countries.
WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was concerned about "blunt, blanket measures", which "will only worsen inequities".
Dr Van Kerkhove said travel bans imposed on South Africa had created problems for shipping virus samples.
The US, which has already banned foreign travellers from eight African countries, has ordered airlines to tell it the names of passengers who have been there.
More on this story
VIDEO - Alec Baldwin says he didn't pull the trigger '-- RT Games & Culture
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:33
Actor Alec Baldwin has denied pulling the trigger of the gun on the set of the film 'Rust' in his first TV interview since the fatal incident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
''The trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger,'' Baldwin told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in an interview, which was teased on Wednesday.
''So you never pulled the trigger?'' Stephanopoulos asked.
''No, no, no, no. I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never,'' Baldwin responded.
Asked what he thought had happened, Baldwin said, ''I have no idea. Someone put a live bullet in a gun. A bullet that wasn't even supposed to be on the property.''
Hutchins, 42, was killed and 'Rust' director Joel Souza, 48, was injured in the October 21 incident at the filming location in New Mexico. They were shot when Baldwin, 68, ''discharged a prop firearm,'' according to the police report. In the interview, Stephanopoulos described the event as a ''tragic accident.''
Crew member Serge Svetnoy has since sued Baldwin, the assistant director who handed him the weapon, as well as the 24-year-old armorer, for ''general negligence'' that resulted in the death of Hutchins. Svetnoy claims the bullet barely missed him, and that he held Hutchins as she died.
VIDEO - Fauci is not pleased with Dr. Ronny Jackson'... Omicron is the Midterm Election Variant'... MEV'... '' CITIZEN FREE PRESS
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 13:28
2022 Midterms Vote By Mail
COViD hysteria is being continued so that we have another election with massive vote by mail fraud. And normalize such tactics as acceptable.
Who pays serious attention to these clowns? FFS they have no shame, whatsoever.
Joy Reid and Mengele Fauci. WTF else do you need to know!?
When are they going to Execute this Nazi. Treason, cRimes against humanity. Blowing 'bama while in office
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December 2, 2021 12:09 am
all hail the HEALTH MINISTERS led by pope Fauci'.....
alll hail SCIENCE
HAIL
HAIL
down with table eaters!
science be with you, health ministers
On every case, the words following ''I would say'...'' whatever, blah blah, blah! are meaningless !
Anyone who says ''the science is settle'' or ''trust the science'' has zero idea about what science actually is. The whole point of science is that you question and test everything, not just accept things as ''the science is settled!''
Dr. Anthony Fauci made $417,608 in 2019, the latest year for which federal salaries are available. That made him not only the highest paid doctor in the federal government, but the highest paid out of all four million federal employees.
That is NOT counting all his stock in Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson etc.
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I don't listen to a mass murderer or the racist propagandist and neither should anyone's else
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Fauci simply selects the science he likes and omits the science he doesn't. He's not much of a scientist. Apparently he's a really good career bureaucrat boot licking opportunist talking head though.
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Why does he still have a job is what doocy needs to ask CBG next
Funny how the flip flop kind is quoting the WHO as if that organization has any credibility left whatsoever.
Dems wouldn't let go of this till AFTER the mid terms. Millions of mail in ballots being printed right now.
Joy Reid or makeup on a turd with lipstick .
Who actually gives a shit what Joy Reid thinks about anything?
Fauci IS the SCIENCE. You CAN'T question THE SCIENCE. WTF are You, a Heathen or somethin'?!
Fauci needs to be in prison, and not for beagles, but for orphan children he did HIV experimental testing on, and some died from the testing.
Those who took the covid jabs have been turned into vaccine-induced ''AIDS'' patients with collapsing immunity against everything. And that makes them highly vulnerable to a deliberate release of a moderate flu strain that would normally kill only the frail and elderly.
Why did globalists choose this route? Because they didn't want to ''nuke'' the planet with a truly vicious pathogen that would threaten their own children in the long run. They want to keep the really dangerous pathogens in the freezer while figuring out how to kill people with mild pathogens. Only by convincing the gullible masses to line up for mRNA spike protein injections could they pull this off.
Mail in ballots'... who's gonna stop them? No one.
Fauci can't be convicted and hanged fast enough.
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yeah he could. but they won't.
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Joy Reid is a dirty duche bag hope CNN keeps her so they continue to destroy their ratings
I don't see the link between Omicron and the mid-terms, but that's not the point. Jackson's tweet is consistent with a person who looks for the most likely nefarious reason and goes with that until proved otherwise. It's appropriate that Fauci is the avatar for the virology science community and the medical community as a whole. Elites in both of those communities have earned our distrust, as has Fauci.
If the CDC or Fauci says the sky is blue, I'm gonna look twice.
Fauci, you need to be put up on murder charges for killing Americans (and others world wide) with a virus you created!!!!!
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At this point in time, if fraudci said the sky was blue, I would be worried that there is something wrong in the air.
At least foochi backs up his statements with strong data'..... wait oh no, nevermind
Throw Joy Reid into any equation and you have the makings of a Marx brothers-level slapstick comedy of errors. Add Fauci into the mix and you've gone pure Three Stooges.
What a great country we live in when demonstrable idiots and glory-seeking narcissists not only are not laughed out of town, but celebrated!
OMICRONMoronicI c moronI moron CC moron IC I moronI know, I need to find a hobby and/or a life!
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Another virus mail-in balloting fraud in the works!
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Reid and Fauci are withholding the fact that it is not just Ronny Jackson but tens of thousands of doctors and scientists around the world, who are doubting, criticizing, and exposing the current (un-) 'health' policies.
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''Science'' has to flip-flopped so much granbien has a video of it.
226 Omicron cases as of this morning. WORLDWIDE. Stinkin clown show.
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Would Dick Chaney please take science hunting?
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Nobody with 2 active brain cells listens to ''Smeagol''. He has become the 'Baghdad Bob' of the NIH.
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Being at odds with the WHO is a good place to be!
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Ronny Jackson is 100% correct. FEAR FEAR FEAR PORN. Get the people scared of they will catch Covid from themselves. Run, hide, cower in fear. Oh and we will now need 100% mail in voting again. Because safety.
Look at that, despite all evidence of a massive mid term defeat the Democrats secured victory'.....yet again. Hmmmmm.
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The Diversion Version. Odd how this surfaced near the start of the Maxwell trial, isn't it?
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They need the distraction form what they've done and the lock-down to keep people from noticing the inflation and government treason they've committed in destroying the USA.
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Fauci playing dumb as a MF
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If elections are allowed to be ''real'' again, there's no way they don't lose the House and the Senate in 2022. No way!!!
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''When you mix politics with medicine, you get politics.''. Dr. Oz
(medicine is in the context of the practice of medicine)
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The point being that the reaction generates bulk money. So long as you can ignore the collateral damage of all the various side effects.
Two people whom I never want to hear from again.
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Mini Mengele will be heading back home to Hell soon
Dean Wormer, we're ALREADY on Quintuple Super Secret Probation! Whoever keeps falling for this NEVERENDING horseshi'ite is Clinically Brain-Dead, like all of my six liberal siblings for instance.
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A few weeks ago Brandon accidentally mentioned that his tile is to set people's mind at ease.
The SECOND that fake news mentioned this scariant he was all over it like Hunter on Parmesan. Like Bill Barr on a cup cake. Like Garland on a white parent.
Vote Up 12 Vote Down Reply
So Professional Liar 1 asks Professional Liar 2, ''Is it possible we are lying about this?'' Liar 2 responds, ''oh pishah, we would never do that and for anyone to say it is offensive and they are lying.'' They fully expect us to just take them at their word even though they have uttered falsehood after falsehood for years now. The lack of self awareness is astonishing but then sociopaths have no conscience, they just try to feign one.
They even get all offended when you call their 7th self-contradiction a lie. They really do live in a ''different'' version of what they think is '' reality'' in which nothing's real, because real stuff can't even breathe in there, never mind actually work!
you should headline the sad little man video on every Fauci post!
Really good video, but I can't watch it. Fauci is evil.
Should Fauci and the Marxist globalists not be able to force mass mail-in ballots to rig the 2022 midterm election, and somehow there's a semblance of fair elections, I'm thinking Fauci retires. There will be no one that has his back, other than the fake media outlets and big tech. There's a better than good chance he faces an investigation. Any thoughts?
I think he should be tried for his past 30 or 40 years. There is no other reasonable verdict than a bit of rope.
Fauci loves him some MSNBC and CNN, and they love him.
Omicron is from the Simpsons.
No, it's one of the Transformer decepticon robots.
Yeah, called ''Moronic''. See Anagram for Omicron.
Gl d to see someone in Congress sees through the BS and call it for what it is.
Vote Up 16 Vote Down Reply
Doctors in Africa are telling us that Omicron is less deadly than previous variants. Yes. the Left are hyping Omicron precisely because they want a repeat of 2020. They want to violate election laws and get away with it by using a bogus lockdown as an excuse. If they steal 2022, it will likely lead to violence. I would expect that 70 million betrayed patriots will take to the streets, and there could be fires. They won't be firebombing local businesses, but Democrat party offices might not fare so well.
A racist and Dr Mengele together again. Color me shocked! Can I say ''color me'''...lol
THE ELECTION INFECTION!
Vote Up 17 Vote Down Reply
Fauci goes on Joy Reid'...'...'...LOL'....I wonder if he'll do Tucker next?
BIDEN AND HIS ILK CAN GO TO HELL
WELL TWO OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MARXIST GLOBALIST RAT BASTARDS WHO BY ANY DEFINITION ARE PSYCCOPATHIC I SAY TO YOU LET'S GO BRANDON AND YOU BOTH TOO!
Anthony Animal Abuser Fauci needs to STFU. Nobody but lame stream media and democrats are listening. What more does this ucker want? He should have enough money to buy a yacht and set sail on uncharted waters. I despise the sight and sound of the sawed off POS. Uck him and his deceptive propaganda. #FJB
And we must say this about that:
Vote Up 10 Vote Down Reply
Take the non-vaccine and shove it.
Video of a quasi-doctor '' being interviewed by a quasi-journalist.
I prefer to call him a 'Chicken Little' doctor.
VIDEO - Amtrak California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco - YouTube
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:52
VIDEO - "My Why Kids" :30 (COVID Vaccine) - YouTube
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:31
VIDEO - Is 2021 A Dream??? ðŸ¤...''‚¸ Aussie Hunt For 3 Escaped @ Quarantine Camp 🮠- YouTube
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 12:06
VIDEO - Omicron to dominate and overwhelm the world in 3-6 months, doctor says
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 11:58
Published Thu, Dec 2 2021 2:13 AM EST
"Frankly, omicron will dominate and overwhelm the whole world in three to six months," Singapore doctor Leong Hoe Nam told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia."New vaccines targeting omicron are a "nice idea" but won't be practical because of the transmissibility of the strain, he said.Experts don't know exactly how contagious the highly mutated omicron variant is, but the virus' spike protein '-- which binds to human cells '-- has mutations associated with higher transmission and a decrease in antibody protection.SINGAPORE '-- The new Covid variant omicron will likely "overwhelm the whole world" in the coming months, according to a Singapore-based infectious disease doctor.
While vaccines against the strain can be developed quickly, they need to be tested over three to six months to prove that they can provide immunity against the variant, Dr. Leong Hoe Nam of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital said Wednesday.
"But frankly, omicron will dominate and overwhelm the whole world in three to six months," he told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia."
Delta, the strain that is currently accounts for 99% of Covid infections, started becoming more common in the Indian state of Maharashtra in March 2021, and was dominant globally by July, according to Reuters.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel on Monday said it will take months to develop and ship a vaccine that specifically targets the omicron variant.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also said shots could be ready in less than 100 days, or slightly over three months.
"Nice idea, but honestly, it is not practical," Leong said of a vaccine that specifically targets omicron. "We won't be able to rush out the vaccines in time and by the time the vaccines come, practically everyone will be infected omicron given this high infectious and transmissibility."
Experts don't know exactly how contagious the highly mutated omicron variant is, but the virus' spike protein '-- which binds to human cells '-- has mutations associated with higher transmission and a decrease in antibody protection.
"The profile of the mutations strongly suggest that it's going to have an advantage in transmissibility and that it might evade immune protection that you would get," U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
Protection from current vaccinesThat said, some doctors believe that the existing vaccines will be able to provide some protection against the new variant.
Our bodies generate a "whole host of different antibodies" in response to vaccines, said Dr. Syra Madad, a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
"I do think that our current vaccines will hold up to a certain extent, with this new variant," she told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Wednesday, noting that the vaccines were able to provide protection against delta.
"It may reduce vaccine effectiveness by a couple of notches, but that is yet to be seen," she said. Current vaccines, along with boosters should still provide a "good level of protection," she added.
Leong agreed that a three-dose vaccine regimen would likely protect against severe disease, but pointed out that many countries still have low vaccination rates.
He said omicron is "threatening the whole world" with a sudden surge in cases, and health-care systems could be overwhelmed, even if only 1% or 2% of the cases end up in hospital.
Omicron was first detected in South Africa and was designated a variant of concern by the WHO last week. It has since been reported in several other places, including Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Portugal.
For now, however, Leong said we should continue to roll out vaccinations, keep our distance, wear masks, and not be overly concerned.
Madad echoed the same sentiment. "We continue to do the Covid-19 prevention measures on an ongoing basis," she said. "Layering it up is really the best approach here."
'-- CNBC's Saheli Roy Choudhury, Spencer Kimball and Yen Nee Lee contributed to this report.
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VIDEO - Youth In Asia on Twitter: "@adamcurry 00:52" / Twitter
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 03:45
Youth In Asia : @adamcurry 00:52 https://t.co/WEfZUKzN1L
Thu Dec 02 03:24:00 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Francesco on Twitter: "Dr Astrid Stuckelberger, WHO Whistleblower. "This Is Going to Go on Forever!" People inside these communist organizations are waking up to the scamdemic!! https://t.co/qjXp5v65Ii" / Twitter
Thu, 02 Dec 2021 01:03
Francesco : Dr Astrid Stuckelberger, WHO Whistleblower. "This Is Going to Go on Forever!" People inside these communist organi'... https://t.co/qiFYR0CIh2
Wed Dec 01 21:48:11 +0000 2021
John Amstrong : @Frances40996115 #NoVaccineMandates #NoVaccinePassports #NoVaccinePassportsAnywhere #nogreenpass
Thu Dec 02 00:07:10 +0000 2021
shadow_gengar : @Frances40996115 !endless horror show! DON'T THINK JUST FEAR https://t.co/LcPfHsBht5
Wed Dec 01 23:04:11 +0000 2021
ð'Œð'¨ð'­ð'žð''ð'¨ ð'…ð'žð''ð'žð'¬ : @Frances40996115 @DownloaderBot
Wed Dec 01 22:56:24 +0000 2021
Lucky5496 : @Frances40996115 Every single Person should read the JOHN HOPKINS SPARS PANDEMIC mock pandemic'...vaccine injury is in'... https://t.co/fdACjQJOxu
Wed Dec 01 22:47:47 +0000 2021
Lainie : @Frances40996115 Apparently John's Hopkins gets much funding from the Gates Foundation. Surprise!
Wed Dec 01 22:18:37 +0000 2021
VIDEO - How U.S. Social Media Conspiracy Theories Made Other Countries Skeptical Of The Covid Vaccine - YouTube
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 22:59
VIDEO - (26) Jewish Deplorable on Twitter: "CNBC host Jim Cramer goes on psychotic rant calling for universal vaccine mandate, enforced by the military https://t.co/dqL1TG96Z7" / Twitter
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 17:17
Jewish Deplorable : CNBC host Jim Cramer goes on psychotic rant calling for universal vaccine mandate, enforced by the military https://t.co/dqL1TG96Z7
Tue Nov 30 19:10:39 +0000 2021
Reddog : @TrumpJew2 Stop calling it a vaccine.
Wed Dec 01 17:13:15 +0000 2021
Mooshoo Pork : @TrumpJew2 @jimcramer the Good German
Wed Dec 01 17:09:54 +0000 2021
Foodtruckbuildersofphoenix.com : @TrumpJew2 It's not a vaccine
Wed Dec 01 17:08:57 +0000 2021
H.F.Piet : @TrumpJew2 We should have military shoot looters and criminal gangs that are raiding retail stores.
Wed Dec 01 17:05:03 +0000 2021
Hollywood Prince : @TrumpJew2 What did he say??! MK Glitch
Wed Dec 01 17:03:38 +0000 2021
Every Man : @TrumpJew2 If Ike saw how big pharma is raping the taxpayer, they'd be in jail! Jonas Salk invented the polio vacci'... https://t.co/QPmZIaAfVt
Wed Dec 01 17:02:43 +0000 2021
Jack White : @TrumpJew2 Either drunk or coming down from a cocaine high...
Wed Dec 01 17:01:22 +0000 2021
Tangouniform : @TrumpJew2 Himmler would be proud
Wed Dec 01 17:01:15 +0000 2021
Ron Phillips : @TrumpJew2 Idiot. Pure and Simple.
Wed Dec 01 17:00:33 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Upstart.Crow.S03E00.Lockdown.Christmas.1603 - video Dailymotion
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:43
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VIDEO - The return of ABBA - YouTube
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:20
VIDEO - Kids and COVID-19 Vaccines: Safety, Side Effects and Risks, Explained - YouTube
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 15:48
Announcing preview of AWS Private 5G
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 15:39
Posted On: Nov 30, 2021
Today, we are announcing the preview of AWS Private 5G, a new managed service that helps enterprises set up and scale private 5G mobile networks in their facilities in days instead of months. With just a few clicks in the AWS console, customers specify where they want to build a mobile network and the network capacity needed for their devices. AWS then delivers and maintains the small cell radio units, servers, 5G core and radio access network (RAN) software, and subscriber identity modules (SIM cards) required to set up a private 5G network and connect devices. AWS Private 5G automates the setup and deployment of the network and scales capacity on demand to support additional devices and increased network traffic. There are no upfront fees or per-device costs with AWS Private 5G, and customers pay only for the network capacity and throughput they request.
Many enterprise networks are constrained by increasing growth in users, devices, and application demands. Increased video content, new applications that require ultra-low latency connectivity to end-user devices, and thousands of smart IoT devices demand extended coverage, more capacity, better reliability, and robust security and access control. Customers want to build their own private 5G networks to address these limitations, but private mobile network deployments require customers to invest considerable time, money, and effort to design their network for anticipated peak capacity, and procure and integrate software and hardware components from multiple vendors. Even if customers are able to get the network running, current private mobile network pricing models charge for each connected device and make it cost prohibitive for use cases that involve thousands of connected devices. AWS Private 5G simplifies the procurement and deployment allowing customers to deploy their own 4G/LTE or 5G network within days instead of months, scale up and down the number of connected devices rapidly, and benefit from a familiar on-demand cloud pricing model.
AWS Private 5G is available in preview in the United States. To request access, visit the sign-up page here.
VIDEO - Friar Alexis Bugnolo Says 2 Billion Dead in the Next Year. Are You Ready? '' Forbidden Knowledge TV
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 15:37
Friar Alexis Bugnolo is an American-born Franciscan priest living in Rome who is spearheading a campaign to unseat Pope Francis. I always find him to be very intelligent, articulate and genuine.
Bugnolo says that this is it, we're in the Apocalypse and he estimates some 2 billion people will die from what he calls the ''Death Vaxx''.
He says that over the next few months, the immune systems of those who've been injected will progressively degrade, with symptoms mimicking AIDS and he cautions people not to live with or be in close contact with those who are vaccinated, to avoid infection with the deadly spike proteins and genetically-modified hydras, which can be transmitted via shedding from saliva, for example.
He says the vaxx is not only to kill those injected and is not just to reduce the world population, ''But to select those who will live through it and to suppress their natural immunity, so they can be genetically re-engineered, while alive by the Globalists, using dose after dose of the vaccine and eventually, some sort of 5G or cellphone technology.''
He says it appears the Plandemic has been in the works for about 40 years, without anyone realizing what they were up to. ''They basically want to totally re-engineer, biologically the human being and and they want to exterminate the natural human beings.
''Now, we can see what the real meaning of the 'New World Order' is. It isn't just the super-wealthy owning everything that's not human, the New World Order is to take'...humanity itself, as a natural resource, in the sense of making it an object of economic activity.
''This is way beyond slavery. They want to make human beings properties, laboratories, factories. Your own body will be used for what they want it to be used for, whether it's sex, creating medicines, being their slave, growing organ parts for their children.
''You, personally, not just your tissues grown in a laboratory, you personally will be their slave, their robot, their organ-harvesting plant'...
''They'll be farming you and they'll be able to change your genetics at will, on a daily basis and this is the objective they have. Now, most people will not live through this experiment. Most of the 3 billion who have taken it are obviously going to die. Whether you've gotten one dose of the real vaxxine, or you've gotten 7 doses, you're most likely dead. You're walking dead. It's only a matter of time, you will be dead.
''If you've only taken a placebo and you haven't taken any more, you're still in the game. And if you haven't taken the vaxx, you intelligent person, you're the last refuge of humanity. You are one of the few who will carry on the human race until the end of time.
''The death-vaxxed will not be able to have human children; their children will be genetically-modified and able to be controlled, so we are at a great parting, here: Humanity goes in one direction, the way it's always been, by God's will and design and those who allowed themselves to be fooled by the Globalists have been eternally imprisoned already, biologically.
''I don't see, from the number of evil things that are in this that it's possible to save someone.''
He says doctors and experts have examined the contents of the vials and discovered unbelievably diabolical things. ''There's the hydras, who are genetically-modified so they can live in your blood and in your lymph fluids and meld with your cells and change your genes and they'll just go on multiplying, unless someone can figure out a medicine that will kill hydras in your bloodstream without killing you and this is why the graphene oxide is in there, because these hydras, in the presence of graphene oxide multiply enormously.
''Then, you have the fact that this thing turns off your natural gene that suppresses cancer, so cancer is going to start growing all over the place. It turns off certain genes your body uses to protect itself from being genetically-modified and there's all kinds of other technologies in there; gold nanobots, things like that, to aid in the genetic reengineering of those who have been vaccinated.
''So the Globalists, yes, will kill 2 or 3 billion but that's not their only objective. They want to kill off the people who are not compatible through new technology. The New World Order means that humanity now is the new economic frontier. They have abandoned all human morality and'...they now look at you as something lower than a milk cow, because at least a milk cow, at least you want the genes to be nice and good and healthy, so you get nice and healthy milk. But these people don't even want that. They want you to be their genetically-engineered robot or not '' they don't want you to exist anymore.
''So this is beyond any measure of psychopathy of any novel ever written that I know if and this is so malign and so intelligent and so well-planned and so controlled that I believe everyone, like it or not has to recognize that Satan is behind this.
''An extremely evil spirit is behind this; someone who hates the world as it is, who hates Creation as it is and who not only wants to own things in Creation, which is the old manner of possession the Globalists used to get their power but they now want to take possession and control, in its very essence living things and weld them to their wheel, bend them to their will and to destroy what exists naturally, so that they can reign as gods on Earth'...
''We've clearly moved from reality to the Twilight Zone. This is no metaphor. We are in Armageddon. This is the apocalyptic battle that St. John the Apostle wrote about in the Book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible.
''Because this level of wickedness makes Hitler look like a saint. This makes Mao Zedong and Pol Pot look honest. I say that with a certain rhetorical flourish because they were horrible murderers and very wicked men but this is way beyond that. This is taking evil to a level that we have never seen in the history of humanity, that no human mind would have ever contemplated. That's why I say it's clearly from Satan.
''These Globalists must have Satanic priests somewhere or some cult somewhere or someone who's possessed by demons who are giving them instructions. I don't see how you could humanly come up with such a project and contemplate it and then execute it. It's beyond anything'...
''There's been a lot of talk of us, who are not vaxxed being put in concentration camps but I think that's less likely to be the case, because the vaxxed will be dead before they'll be able to execute it. It's not like they're going to use unvaxxed people to put unvaxxed in concentration camps. They will use vaxxed people and these people only have about another six months, maybe 12 months to live'...
''Our position, those of us who are not vaxxed is much stronger. I have to say now, I'm a bit more confident, because this death vaxx is going to be so horrible for most of them. However, those who are death-vaxxed and decide to give their loyalty over to the Globalists are going to become extremists, because they're going to realize that unless they serve the Globalists totally, they won't get their added boosters of immunity.
''So we are at a Great Parting, where humanity goes one way, the death vaxxed go another and I think once people realize what's going on, we're going to see a lot more civil strife, considering that these death vaxxes have genetically-modified hydras in them that can seep through fluids '' I don't know if they can come out of your lymph fluids and your blood into your sweat or your saliva or other fluids of that sort, I would strongly recommend not touching anyone who's vaxxed, not having any physical contact with them and I would strongly suggest you stop living in a house with them, because you could pick up their saliva from a fork, a knife, a cup and who knows what the result would be. It'd probably be your death.
''Exercise extreme caution and try to do what you can to accept psychologically what's now going to happen, because it's much worse than I thought back in June'...
''We, who are not vaxxed have to survive. Those of you who are married or marriageable, you need to have children, because humanity, itself is under such an existential threat.
''I think the governments that are pushing this are going to collapse. I don't see how the Globalists plan to maintain control while all their allies die.
''As I've said many times before: you not only have to flee to the countryside and arm yourself, you need to start making friendships with other people who are not vaxxed and be prepared to take over the civil control of your local area, because it's going to go down quick, now.
''I think we're on a roller coaster ride and we're on that steep [slope] and now through Christmas might be the last months of normality in the West. Nations, like in Africa who were smart enough not to start vaxxinating people, they're going to end up the ones that outlive this, whereas foolish nations, like Ireland and Scandinavia, who have 90% vaxxination, they will be annihilated. 'Various nations will be annihilated,' said Our Lady at Ftima'...
''And if you are associating with clergy who are pushing the vaxx, I strongly recommend you stop going to their churches. All you have to do is get a little bit of that vaxxed saliva on the host.
''And don't expect Christ is going to protect you from infection, because you won't separate from the wicked.
''He's told us, throughout scripture that at the End of Times, we must separate from the wicked. We must leave Babylon.
''And if you think Bergoglio is the head of the Church, you're blaspheming God.
''And now, this is something you have to do for your safety, it's not just your religious duty, it's also a biologic duty, you can't live with people who are vaxxed. You end up with your health destroyed. Because these things are just going to start oozing out of them.
''I hate to say it, because it is the consequence of what this Death Vaxx does. It's going to destroy a lot of human society. Husbands are going to have to leave their wives and children their parents and if you are Death Vaxxed, don't kiss your kids! You're going to spread all that to them and even if they're not Death-Vaxxed, they'll end up dying.
''You are a walking bag of horrible technological and infectious agents and I hate to say this, but this is what the Globalists have done to you and this is what you've done to yourself by taking that thing.
''And don't blame us for being prejudiced. I mean, this is a plague now. What's in the vaxx is the Plague of Plagues, because it's not just something that kills you, it destroys humanity and could end up destroying all of humanity if it spreads to the whole world.
''So I sure hope that these genetically-modified hydras can't spread from person-to-person. But until the doctors come out and tell us seriously what we have to fear from them, we should exercise extreme caution '' extreme caution to these people, as if they're carrying the most dangerous and horrible plague.
''And this also makes it difficult for us, who go to stores and buy things. You're buying vegetables and fruits from people who've been Death-Vaxxed? They've touched it with their hands? Don't eat any raw vegetables would be my advice.
''So start thinking about all the consequences. They're horrible. And if you don't recognize this new reality, you will be dead.''
VIDEO - BREAKING: Bodycam footage CONFIRMS NBC Producer told associate producer to follow Rittenhouse Jury - YouTube
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:37
VIDEO - CDC, FDA NIH and Fauci doing more harm than good - YouTube
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:35
VIDEO - EU's Plan to Replace Farms '' CITIES2030 '' Digital Twin of Food Supply | ice age farmer
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:26
As our food supply is systematically dismantled, the EU is funding a project to create ''Urban Food Systems'' and a blockchain-based ''digital twin'' platform to track indoor farming and synthetic meat from laboratory to plate to sewers. Is this an organic response to a crisis, or a nefarious plan, generations in the making, being realized before our eyes? Christian breaks it down in this Ice Age Farmer broadcast.
Download (mp3):
FULL SHOW NOTES: https://www.iceagefarmer.com/2021/11/29/eus-plan-to-replace-farms-cities2030-digital-twin-of-food-supply/
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LINKS:
Architecting the Beast System:
China 7 weeks:https://www.businessinsider.com/shipping-supply-chain-crisis-long-china-covid-quarantines-2021-11
Port of Vancouver CEO warns:https://globalnews.ca/news/8403882/state-of-the-port-supply-chain/
Crunch at Ports is Crisis for Farms:https://valiantceo.com/crunch-at-ports-may-mean-crisis-for-family-farms/
Digital Twins for Supply Chain (McKinsey):https://supplychaindigital.com/digital-supply-chain/future-big-data-and-ai-logistics
DoD's JAIC launching Salus:https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2020/04/pentagon-will-use-ai-predict-panic-buying-covid-19-hotspots/164820/
Cities 2030:https://cities2030.eu/
FDA new rule:https://www.westonaprice.org/proposed-fda-rule-threatens-small-farms-food-businesses/
Lord Birkenhead:https://www.scribd.com/document/36111515/Save-This-for-Your-Children-s-Children-Cosmopolitan-Magazine-Feb-1929
VIDEO - Australian MP Joins Infowars to Send an S.O.S. to the World: Stand Up Against Medical Tyranny Now!
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:21
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First published at 03:45 UTC on December 1st, 2021.
Australian MP George Christensen of https://nationfirst.substack.com joins The Alex Jones Show to send a global S.O.S. to take a stand against medical tyranny now!
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VIDEO - Omicron Moronic Oncomir Latest Hoax
Wed, 01 Dec 2021 14:14
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VIDEO - (4) Sky News on Twitter: "Prime Minister Boris Johnson says temporary COVID vaccination centres will be "popping up like Christmas trees" and at least 400 military personnel will be deployed to assist the efforts of the NHS. Live #COVID19 updates:
Tue, 30 Nov 2021 16:26
Sky News : Prime Minister Boris Johnson says temporary COVID vaccination centres will be "popping up like Christmas trees" and'... https://t.co/a5AOsBs1hz
Tue Nov 30 16:15:33 +0000 2021
Mr Ree : @SkyNews Notice how "they " are slipping the military in ? It's yet another nudge for the forthcoming unjab round u'... https://t.co/3Y79Ks4srh
Tue Nov 30 16:26:07 +0000 2021
Mahmoud Hazem : @SkyNews 🧐
Tue Nov 30 16:24:01 +0000 2021
Miguel Suarez Smiz ðŸ´ó §ó ó ¥ó ®ó §ó ðŸ‡¨ðŸ‡¾ðŸ‡¬ðŸ‡·ðŸ‡ðŸ‡²ðŸ‡¨ðŸ‡´ : @SkyNews His Minister for Defence is redesigning the Army, which usually means make smaller, part of these changes'... https://t.co/E6b1FsPGyZ
Tue Nov 30 16:23:46 +0000 2021
VIDEO - (4) Yahoo Finance on Twitter: ""Generally, the higher prices we're seeing are related to the supply and demand imbalances," Fed Chair Powell says. "But it's also the case that price increases have spread much more broadly in the recent few mon
Tue, 30 Nov 2021 16:24
Yahoo Finance : "Generally, the higher prices we're seeing are related to the supply and demand imbalances," Fed Chair Powell says.'... https://t.co/Ob4jLKDw7R
Tue Nov 30 15:49:23 +0000 2021
🏰C457!11Ő🐺 : @YahooFinance brrrr 🖨¸ðŸŽ https://t.co/efnpHI7OHb
Tue Nov 30 16:11:00 +0000 2021
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VIDEO - Brain Science from Bench to Battlefield: The Realities '' and Risks '' of Neuroweapons | CGSR Seminar - YouTube
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VIDEO - Graphene "razor blades" found in the COVID vaccines (Dr. Andreas Noack)
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 15:23
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Clips

ABC ATM - anchor Mona Kosar Abdi - jussie smollett trial begins (20sec).mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Andrew Dymburt - CNN suspends chris cuomo (19sec).mp3
Pooper on Dr Oz political announcement.mp3
TV Advertisment - Dr. Oz campaign ad (58sec).mp3
ABC The View - Whoopie Goldberg - Dr. Oz running for senate -clip from hannity (1min6sec).mp3
ABC News - Alec Baldwin -Trailer- I didn't pull the trigger.mp3
ABC The View - Joy Behar - 1st and 2nd amendments need to be tweaked (25sec).mp3
Tegna Daily Blast Live - anchor Al Jackson - ghislaine maxwell -too big for the public (1min15sec).mp3
COVID LA sherrif and tests.mp3
Covid rundown npr new guy NPR.mp3
Iso boosted.mp3
ISO Horro only.mp3
ISO horror and scary.mp3
Jan 6th weirdness.mp3
Mark meadows to testify farce NTD.mp3
Maxwell trial ntd.mp3
MI6 speech ntd.mp3
Mich 15 yo shooteer ntd.mp3
New twitter rules and boss ntd.mp3
New York shoot up crises.mp3
Oakland crime wave ntd.mp3
OMI Angeliq Coetzee SA explain.mp3
OMI case zero 2 USA npr.mp3
OMI case zero USA npr.mp3
OMI Ohio symptoms report.mp3
Oz for US senate ntd.mp3
Pfizer pill ntd.mp3
Regulating social media NPR.mp3
Riot shaman sentenced NPR.mp3
Roe v Wade 2 npr.mp3
Roe v Wade One npr.mp3
roe vs Wade 2.mp3
roe vs Wade one ntd.mp3
SD Pot laws 2.mp3
SD Pot laws One.mp3
SpaceX problem ntd.mp3
Theranos laugheer ntd.mp3
thieves released in CoCoCo ntd.mp3
Barbado independencce.mp3
Barbados NPR version.mp3
Chris cuomo story NTD.mp3
Aussie Hunt For 3 Escaped from Howard Springs Quarantine Camp.mp3
CBS Evening News - anchor Erroll Burnett - testing and quarantining for return travelers (21sec).mp3
Fauci with Stephanapoloud on More LOCKDOWNS and Mandates.mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Em Nguyen - Biden doesnt expect new lockdowns (7sec).mp3
Liberal Intellectual Elites Discuss Mandates and Omicron.mp3
Michigan HHS - get the vax kids PSA.mp3
Morning Joe Calling Fauci Mengele - John Heileman make sit political.mp3
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid - Booster jabs 6 months to 3 months.mp3
CNBC host Jim Cramer goes on psychotic rant calling for universal vaccine mandate enforced by the military.mp3
Eindhoven - Giant Voice System every 15 minutes.mp3
France postpones vaccine mandate after violent unrest in Martinique and Guadeloupe.mp3
CBS Evening News - anchor Norah ODonnell - fed says omicron will slow economic recovery (21sec).mp3
CNN State of the Union - anchor Dana Bash - Dr. Collins (1) brought my little model along (27sec).mp3
CNN State of the Union - anchor Dana Bash - Dr. Collins (2) setback -virus is a shapeshifter (57sec).mp3
Fauci official Omicron variant presser.mp3
Israeli PM Naftali Bennet on Omicron variant Wargame Omega.mp3
MSNBC Lawrence ODonnell - Dr. Osterholm (1) vaccine efficacy against omicron (1min9sec).mp3
MSNBC Lawrence ODonnell - Dr. Osterholm (2) strain change (1min13sec).mp3
OmNicron Jingle Bargeron.wav
OmNicron Jingle Bargeron2.wav
ABC ATM - anchor Elizabeth Shulze - omicron -amsterdam couple flees (15sec).mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Andrew Dymburt - NY opens nations first drug injection site (16sec).mp3
FDA advisory panel narrowly endorses Merck’s oral Covid treatment pill.mp3
In the future we prefer fly by night ponzi schemes (bitcoin jab).mp3
In the future we've decided meat is bad.mp3
Kenny died from covid delta plus max variant.mp3
Kick him in the balls ISO.mp3
Live from moderna center woke comedy.mp3
Dont leave quarrantine slave.mp3
SCI Service Corp Quarterly report - Business is booming.mp3
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