Cover for No Agenda Show 1408: Booster Blitz
December 16th, 2021 • 3h 15m

1408: Booster Blitz


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

Mandates and Boosters
Holland 3 week lockdown extended to Jan 14
Ancilla reminds us satanism not without karma
Berlin 10K tractor protest locks the city down
EU Vaccine Pass 8 SHots
The code for the various "Vaccine Pass" websites (EU, UK, US) was recently 'hacked' and they all contained hidden but prepared fields for 8 or more boosters.
Tapper to Fox!
22 will suck like a duck
Insider selling
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dumped over 50% of his Microsoft stock in one day. But the stock barely budged because Microsoft itself was busy buying back shares. That indicates the level of unreality in today’s US market. The insiders know it’s about to crash. Tesla’s Elon Musk just sold $10 billion of his stock, allegedly to pay taxes.
United CEO testimony BOTG from Joe
I was watching the airline CEOs on Capitol Hill. Let me preface this by
saying I have never been in a union and am a management person to the bone,
but this quote from the United CEO is basically a lie...or at best intended
to mislead.
*And United revealed they are struggling with a regional pilot
shortage. **"All
of us, particularly our regional partners, simply don't have enough
airplanes to fly," United CEO Scott Kirby told lawmakers. "We have almost
100 airplanes effectively grounded right now, regional aircraft, because
there's not enough pilots flying, which means we just can't at the moment
fly to all the small communities that we would like to."*
The quote makes it appear there are not enough regional pilots, causing
poor United to park 100 regional aircraft which seemingly was totally
beyond their control despite the government payroll guarantee. I have
attached a copy of the United pilot contract. On PDF pages 13 and 14 you
see a complicated formula that controls how many regional aircraft are
allowed to operate. Put simply, the number of regional planes is based on
the number of large United planes. This is there to protect the higher
paid pilots of the bigger planes from being replaced with low paid regional
When United took taxpayer payroll money, but pocketed it and pushed big jet
pilots into early retirement or voluntary leave, it cut the number of large
planes flying which reduced the number of small planes they are allowed to
fly dramatically. The contract allowed a 1 year Act of God deferral, so it
is kicking in now and United has closed over a dozen small cities (like
nearby Killeen) that these small planes flew to.
These planes are not sitting because there aren't enough regional pilots
which would be out of United's control, they aren't flying because United
dumped too many mainline pilots by choice while pocketing the payroll money
causing their union contract to kick in to protect the jobs left among the
big jet pilots. I should add that Delta and American also did the same
thing, but Delta managed it a lot better. American has the same situation,
but is smart enough to be quieter about it.
OTG has Pixel 6 instructions coming and way to use the google camera
The Kronos Ransomeware hack
Are you aware of the December 11 Kronos Ransomware attack? Kronos is a huge
timekeeping and payroll management company. I don't know of a company that
*doesn't* use Kronos.
Someone at my work found a decades old box of timecards in a stockroom. We
are physically punching them with the Flintstones Pterodactyl. If and when
Kronos is operational again, someone will have to manually enter every
punch one at a time, and then reconcile all of the end of year vacation,
vacation requests, sick days and holidays. It's already a nightmare.
Here is a link to their blog post announcing the big event.
Kronos Fallout
We just got an update from corporate, manual time cards planned until January 31st. This isn’t due to us moving company’s. It’s the estimated time until recovery. This is a massive cost. I work in corporate finance and this has got to have huge impacts to other companies that are larger than us.
Freedom Passports
Enter, Identify... Enjoy
Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government | The White House
In recent years, the annual paperwork burden imposed by executive departments and agencies (agencies) on the public has been in excess of 9 billion hours. That number is too high. Agencies must work with the Congress; the private sector and nonprofit organizations; State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments; and other partners to design experiences with the Federal Government that effectively reduce administrative burdens, simplify both public-facing and internal processes to improve efficiency, and empower the Federal workforce to solve problems.
The Federal Government must design and deliver services in a manner that people of all abilities can navigate. We must use technology to modernize Government and implement services that are simple to use, accessible, equitable, protective, transparent, and responsive for all people of the United States. When a disaster survivor, single parent, immigrant, small business owner, or veteran waits months for the Government to process benefits to which they are entitled, that lost time is a significant cost not only for that individual, but in the aggregate, for our Nation as a whole. This lost time operates as a kind of tax — a “time tax” — and it imposes a serious burden on our people as they interact with the Government. Improving Government services should also make our Government more efficient and effective overall.
Climate Change
DEF Power Generator Shutdowns: Death by Pig Piss
Hey Adam,
I'm sure you've been inundated with emails on this since so many people have to deal with these systems, but I had some info on the AdBlue discussed on yesterday's show. Let me premise this email by saying I'm not in favor of these systems and feel that the testing/approval of them to prove their efficacy is very shady, more info at the end on why I believe they're a net neutral or close to it in terms of actual benefit.
I'm not sure about other countries but diesel trucks in the US model year 2007 and up have this system installed due to EPA mandates. The system is known as the DPF, diesel particulate filter, which is a fancy way of saying it 'sucks up soot' from the engine exhaust. The filter collects soot for a period of time and then based on parameters in the computer goes into a 'regeneration mode' where the soot is burned out of the filter at high temperature while injecting the AdBlue, which is just the brand name of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), to aid in cleaning the filter.
While true that the diesel engines can absolutely run without this system, the problem is that when you run out of DEF in the tank, the computer forces the engine into a limp mode where the truck initially will only run 55mph but eventually will only run 4mph, 'not a joke', only 4mph until the DEF is replenished. This is done because without the DEF fluid, the DPF will continue to collect soot and eventually restrict the exhaust flow which causes catastrophic issues upstream like burning out turbo oil seals and other nasty issues from the excess heat.
While it's possible and common to remove these systems, it is illegal and the EPA has recently been cracking down on any shops that sell or install the 'DPF delete' parts or do the computer tuning that's required for the DPF to be removed. Many of the early DPF systems have significant problems that have made the trucks with them near worthless when the DPF malfunctions, and the systems can easily cost over $10k to repair in a legal way, so there's an obvious market for this but the EPA is working hard to kill the business of anyone participating. At minimum I think owners should be allowed to have them removed once the vehicle is out of factory warranty, but that will obviously never happen.
As to why I feel these systems are an unnecessary burden, there is no limit to emissions while the DPF is in regeneration mode, so the actual net benefit is questionable. Link below on a greenie article that shows particulate emissions during regen to be as much as 1000 times the normal rate.
Thanks for everything you do, stay safe,
Human Urea Power
I'm a dialysis technician and urea is one of the waste products excreted in
urine that we manually remove from people during dialysis. Your exit
strategy is farming it from humans that are having it removed during
dialysis. You'll get some potassium and calcium to boot!
English for Science, Technology, Engineering,
English for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Syllabus
DEF and power generation
Btw scr is not just for diesel engines... Every coal power plant currently running and many natural gas plants use scr as part of their emissions control... Urea was first used in power in the 70s and 80s since then modern plant have replaced it... However there are several large power plants in Texas that are dependent upon it or the EPA will not allow them to run
BBC News - Making electricity from urine
In bacon-loving Denmark, where ammonia around pig farms is a serious pollutant, the company Waste2Green has started collecting pig urine before ammonia is released.
It then uses the urea in a diesel exhaust cleaning product.
New Variants
Congress Passes $2.5 Trillion Debt Ceiling Increase - The New York Times
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 16:11
The measure would allow the government to continue borrowing to finance its obligations without further action by Congress until after the 2022 midterm elections.
''The American people can breathe easy and rest assured there will not be a default,'' said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader. Credit... Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times Dec. 14, 2021
WASHINGTON '-- Congress gave final approval early Wednesday to legislation that would raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, moving over nearly unanimous Republican opposition to stave off the threat of a first-ever federal default until at least early 2023.
Democrats were united in support of the measure, which passed the Senate 50 to 49 along party lines on Tuesday afternoon and then cleared the House in a 221-to-209 vote shortly after midnight on Wednesday. Republicans opposed the legislation en masse, with only one, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voting in favor. The bill now heads to President Biden, who was expected to quickly sign it.
The swift action came a week after party leaders announced a deal to establish a one-time fast-track process to increase the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote, instead of the 60 votes needed to move most legislation through the Senate.
The votes occurred with little time to spare before a potential default, which would be catastrophic for the national economy. The Treasury Department had warned that it would be unable to pay the nation's bills soon after Wednesday, and the agency is currently using so-called ''extraordinary measures,'' a series of fiscal tools to delay the threat of a default.
''The full faith and credit of the United States should never be questioned,'' Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said before the House vote. ''The health of our economy should never be threatened. The financial security of our families must never be gambled.''
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Tuesday that the $2.5 trillion figure would be enough to punt the threat of a default past the midterm elections next year, an assessment shared by the Treasury Department, according to a person familiar with its internal estimates. The debt limit, which covers debt incurred by administrations from both parties, is currently set at $28.9 trillion.
''The American people can breathe easy and rest assured there will not be a default,'' Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. He thanked Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, for their help in setting up the process and resolving a must-pass piece of fiscal legislation before the end of the year.
A handful of Republicans, while opposed to the debt limit increase, ended their party's monthslong blockade of debt limit legislation by voting last week to create the expedited process. Republicans had spent months refusing to allow Democrats to take action on long-term legislation raising the debt ceiling, using the filibuster to stall any action.
''The way this Congress has been polarized, I don't know if I expect Republican votes for lunch, never mind on something like this,'' said Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the chairman of the Rules Committee.
For Democrats, addressing the debt limit gives senators more time to focus directly on muscling their marquee $2.2 trillion social safety net, climate and tax package through the Senate before Christmas, even as some senators acknowledged that such a timeline might not be feasible.
But even as they eyed other legislative ambitions, some Democrats argued that the contortions to raise the debt ceiling demonstrated why Congress should dispose of the process altogether, rather than periodically running up against potentially catastrophic fiscal cliffs, only to set up new ones in the future.
''I think it's very clear that this debt ceiling process has got to go,'' said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and the chairman of the Finance Committee. ''It is now a tool for politicians for political purposes, and it just defies common sense.''
Other Democrats suggested that the convoluted workaround was further evidence that the filibuster itself should be scrapped, or that similar exceptions should be made for other Democratic priorities.
''We have decided that we must do it for the economy, but not for the democracy,'' Senator Raphael Warnock, Democrat of Georgia, said in a speech on the Senate floor. Mr. Warnock argued that a similar special process should be created for passing voting rights legislation that has been filibustered by Republicans.
But creating such a process would take the support of at least 10 Republicans, and only one has been willing to join Democrats in support of taking up a voting rights measure. By contrast, 14 Republicans joined Democrats last week in voting to allow the Senate to take up a bill permitting the debt limit to be raised with a simple majority vote.
On Tuesday, Republicans were eager to have Democrats go on the record in support of the increase. Republicans could cite those votes in the future as they seek to criticize Democrats for excessive spending and adding to the national debt.
''Since taking control of the House, the Senate and the White House at the beginning of this year, the majority has made repeated decisions to spend massive amounts of taxpayer dollars with only Democratic votes,'' said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma. ''With that power also comes responsibility to effectively govern, and the majority has failed to do so.''
Understand the U.S. Debt Ceiling Card 1 of 4What is the debt ceiling? The debt ceiling, also called the debt limit, is a cap on the total amount of money that the federal government is authorized to borrow via U.S. Treasury bills and savings bonds to fulfill its financial obligations. Because the U.S. runs budget deficits, it must borrow huge sums of money to pay its bills.
When will the debt limit be breached? The Treasury had warned that the government would have become unable to pay its bills in mid-December. In the early hours of Dec. 15, Congress passed legislation to raise the limit by $2.5 trillion and stave off the threat of default until 2023. The bill now goes to President Biden, who is expected to sign it.
Why does the U.S. limit its borrowing? According to the Constitution, Congress must authorize borrowing. The debt limit was instituted in the early 20th century so the Treasury did not need to ask for permission each time it needed to issue bonds to pay bills.
What would happen if the debt limit was hit? Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress that inaction on raising the debt limit could lead to a self-inflicted economic recession and a financial crisis. She also said that failing to raise the debt ceiling could affect programs that help millions of Americans, including delays to Social Security payments.
In a floor speech on Tuesday, Mr. McConnell made no mention of the deal he struck with Mr. Schumer to allow the increase to occur, but he noted that the debt ceiling would be raised solely with Democratic votes in the Senate. He also denounced Mr. Biden's social safety net, climate and tax package, warning that it would exacerbate inflation and lead to the accumulation of more debt.
''If they jam through another reckless taxing and spending spree, this massive debt increase will just be the beginning,'' Mr. McConnell said. ''More printing and borrowing to set up more reckless spending to cause more inflation, to hurt working families even more.''
But Mr. McConnell has also fielded criticism from his right flank for allowing Democrats to steer the country away from a fiscal catastrophe.
''I'm sure this vicious tactic, the one used here, has not seen its last use '-- far from it,'' said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah. ''With a blank check and a new special procedure, Democrats are able to raise the debt ceiling by whatever amount they deem necessary to accommodate their destroy America bill.''
Former President Donald J. Trump railed against Mr. McConnell in a series of statements over the weekend, charging that the senator ''didn't have the guts to play the debt ceiling card, which would have given the Republicans a complete victory on virtually everything.''
Mr. Trump continued to urge Republicans to remove Mr. McConnell from his leadership role.
On Monday, Kelly Tshibaka, a hard-line conservative challenging Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, pledged that she would not support Mr. McConnell if elected in 2022, citing his role in the debt ceiling process.
Ms. Murkowski voted to set up the fast-track maneuver, and she appeared unbothered by the prospect of having it used against her.
''I've just got to do the best thing that I can for the country,'' she told reporters. ''And this is the best thing for the country '-- to avoid a default.''
Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.
BlackRock adds diversity target for U.S. boardrooms | Reuters
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 16:11
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Will Fed Crash Global Financial Markets for Their Great Reset? | New Eastern Outlook
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:51
Will Fed Crash Global Financial Markets for Their Great Reset? P 15.12.2021 U F. William Engdahl
It's looking increasingly likely that the US Federal Reserve and the globalist powers that be will use the dramatic rising of inflation as their excuse to bring down the US financial markets and with it, crash the greatest financial bubble in history. The enormous inflation rise since the malicious political lockdowns and the trillions of dollars in emergency spending by both Trump and Biden, coupled with the continuation of the Fed's unprecedented near-zero interest rate policies and asset purchases of billions in bonds to keep the bubble inflated a bit longer'' have set the stage for an imminent market collapse. Unlike what we are told, it is deliberate and managed.
Supply chain disruptions from Asia to normal truck transport across North America are feeding the worst inflation in four decades in the USA. The stage is set for the central banks to bring down the debt-bloated system and prepare their Great Reset of the world financial system. However this is not an issue of inflation as some mysterious or ''temporary'' process.
The context is key. The decision to crash the financial system is being prepared amid the far-reaching global pandemic measures that have devastated the world economy since early 2020. It is coming as the NATO powers, led by the Biden Administration, are tipping the world into a potential World War by miscalculation. They are pouring arms and advisers into Ukraine provoking a response by Russia. They are escalating pressures on China over Taiwan, and waging proxy wars against China in Ethiopia and Horn of Africa and countless other locations.
The looming collapse of the dollar system, which will bring down most of the world with it owing to debt ties, will come as the major industrial nations go fully into economic self-destruction via their so-called Green New Deal in the EU, and USA and beyond. The ludicrous Zero Carbon policies to phase out coal, oil, gas and even nuclear have already brought the EU electric grid to the brink of major power blackouts this winter as dependency on unreliable wind and solar make up a major part of the grid. On December 31, the ''green'' new German government oversees the forced closing of three nuclear power plants that generate the electricity equivalent of the entire country of Denmark. Wind and solar can in no way fill the gaps. In the USA Biden's misnamed Build Back Better policies have driven fuel coats to record highs. To raise interest rates in this conjuncture will devastate the entire world, which seems to be precisely the plan.
The Fake US Inflation Data
Ever since the early 1970s when President Nixon asked his pal, Arthur Burns, then head of the Federal Reserve, to find a way to get rid of politically damaging consumer inflation monthly data that reflected soaring oil prices along with grain, the Fed has used what they called ''core inflation'' which means consumer price rises MINUS energy and food. At the time energy made up a significant 11% of inflation data. Food had a weight of 25%. Presto by 1975 a 400% OPEC rise in oil prices and a 300% global grain price rise owing to harvest failures in the Soviet region, ''core inflation'' fell significantly. This, despite the fact that American consumers had to pay far more for gasoline and bread. Very few real people can live without energy or food. Core inflation is a scam.
By 1975 the Burns Fed had eliminated major costs of housing and other factors leaving a Consumer Price Index that was a mere 35% of the original basket of commodities measured. By then real everyday inflation was out of control. In the real world, USA gasoline today is 58 percent more expensive than in 2020 and over the last 12 months, food prices have gone up by more than 6 percent on average. Today the US Consumer Price Index does not include the cost buying and financing houses, and also not of property taxes or home maintenance and improvement. These factors have been soaring across America in the past year. Now all that is lacking is a statement by the Fed that inflation is more alarming than they thought and required aggressive rate hikes to ''squeeze inflation out of the system,'' a common central bank myth made dogma under Paul Volcker in the 1970s.
The Bloated US Stock Market
Wall Street markets, today with stocks at historic bloated highs, aided by near zero Fed rates and $120 billion of monthly purchases by the Fed of bonds as well, are at a point where a policy reverse by the Fed, expected now in early 2022, could begin a panic exit from stocks to ''get out while the getting is good.'' That in turn will likely trigger panic selling and a snowballing market collapse that will make the recent China Evergrande real estate and stock collapse look like nothing at all.
Since the global financial crisis of September 2008, the Federal Reserve and other major central banks such as the ECB in the EU and Bank of Japan have pursued unprecedented zero interest rates and often ''quantitative easing'' purchases of bonds to bail out the major financial institutions and Wall Street and EU banks. It had little to do with the health of the real economy. It was about the largest bailout in history of brain dead banks and financial funds. The predictable result of the Fed and other central banks' unprecedented policies has been the artificial inflation of the greatest speculative bubble in stocks in history.
As President, Donald Trump constantly pointed to new record rises in the S&P 500 stocks as proof of the booming economy, even though as a savvy businessman he knew it was a lie. It was rising because of the Fed zero interest rate policy. Companies were borrowing at low rates not to expand plant and equipment investment so much as to buy back their own stocks from the market. That had the effect of boosting stocks in companies from Microsoft to Dell to Amazon, Pfizer, Tesla and hundreds of others. It was a manipulation that corporate executives, owning millions of their own company shares as options, loved. They made billions in some cases, while creating no real value in the economy or the economy.
How big is today's US stock market bubble? In October 2008 just after the Lehman crisis, US stocks were listed at a total of $13 trillion capitalization. Today it is over $50 trillion, an increase of almost 400% and more than double the total US GDP. Apple Corp. alone is $3 trillion.
Yet with massive labor shortages, lockdowns across America and huge disruptions to trade supply chains especially from China, the economy is sinking and Biden's phony ''infrastructure'' bill will do little to rebuild the vital economic infrastructure of highways, rains, water treatment plants and electric grids. For millions of Americans after the 2008 housing collapse, buying stocks has been their best hope for retirement income. A stock crash in 2022 is being prepared by the Fed, only this time it will be used to usher in a real Great Depression worse than the 1930's as tens of millions or ordinary Americans see their life savings wiped out.
Stock Buyback Game
Over the past four quarters, S&P 500 companies bought back $742 billion of their own shares. Q4 of 2021 will likely see a record increase in that number as companies rush to pump their shares ahead of a reported Biden tax on corporate stock buybacks. Since the beginning of 2012, the S&P 500 companies have bought back nearly $5.68 trillion of their own shares. This is no small beer. The dynamic is so insane that amid a Microsoft decision last month to buy back ever more shares, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dumped over 50% of his Microsoft stock in one day. But the stock barely budged because Microsoft itself was busy buying back shares. That indicates the level of unreality in today's US market. The insiders know it's about to crash. Tesla's Elon Musk just sold $10 billion of his stock, allegedly to pay taxes.
Making the stock market even more vulnerable to a panic selloff once it is clear the Fed will raise interest rates, there is nearly $1 trillion in margin debt as of data from October, debt for those buying stocks on borrowed money from their brokers. Once a major market selloff begins, likely early in 2022, brokers will demand repayment of their margin debt, so-called margin calls. That in turn will accelerate the forced selling to raise the cash calls.
There is much discussion about when the Fed will reduce its buying of US Treasury securities as well as government-linked home mortgage bonds. That buying has been huge. Since the start of the covid pandemic hysteria in February 2020, total Federal Reserve holdings of such securities have more than doubled from $3.8 trillion to $8 trillion as of end of October 2021. That has kept home mortgage rates artificially low and fueled panic home buying as citizens realize the low rates are about to end. That the Fed calls ''taper'', reducing the monthly buying of bonds to zero at the same time it raises key interest rates, a double whammy. This is huge, and blood will flow from Wall Street beginning 2022 when the Fed taper picks up momentum early in 2022 combined with raising rates.
Already in November the Fed began reducing its monthly market supporting buying. ''In light of the substantial further progress the economy has made toward the Committee's goals of maximum employment and price stability,'' the FOMC declared in its recent minutes. It announced that it is decreasing the amount of Treasury and Mortgage backed securities purchases in November and December.
Since the Vietnam War era under President Lyndon Johnson, the US Government has manipulated employment data as well as inflation numbers to give a far better picture than exists. Private economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, estimates that actual USA unemployment far from the reported 4.2% for November, is actually over 24.8%. As Williams further notes, ''The Inflation Surge Reflects Extreme Money Supply Creation, Extreme Federal Deficit Spending and Federal Debt Expansion, Pandemic Disruptions and Supply Shortages; It Does Not Reflect an Overheating Economy.'' Federal Budget Deficits are running a record $3 trillion a year with no end in sight.
Raising rates at this precarious juncture will bring down the fragile US and global financial system, paving the way for a crisis where citizens might beg for emergency relief in the form of digital money and a Great Reset. It is worth noting that every major US stock market crash since October 1929 including 2007-8, has been a result of deliberate Fed actions, disguised under the claims of ''containing inflation.'' This time the damage could be epochal. In September the Washington-based Institute of International Finance estimated that global debt levels, which include government, household and corporate and bank debt, rose $4.8 trillion to $296 trillion at the end of June, $36 trillion above pre-pandemic levels. Fully $92 trillion of that is owed by emerging markets such as Turkey, China, India and Pakistan. Rising interest rates will trigger default crises across the globe as borrowers are unable to repay. This has been deliberately created by central banks, led by the Fed, since their 2008 crisis by pushing interest rates to zero or even negative.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
Recent Posts
BlackRock Authored the Bailout Plan Before There Was a Crisis '' Now It's Been Hired by three Central Banks to Implement the Plan
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:50
BlackRock Authors of ''Going Direct.'' Top, left to right: Stanley Fischer, Philipp Hildebrand. Bottom, left to right: Jean Boivin, Elga Bartsch.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 5, 2020 ~
It's called ''Going Direct.'' That's the financial bailout plan designed and authored by former central bankers now on the payroll at BlackRock, an investment manager of $7 trillion in stock and bond funds. The plan was rolled out in August 2019 at the G7 summit of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming '' months before the public was aware of any financial crisis. One month later, on September 17, 2019, the U.S. Federal Reserve would begin an emergency repo loan bailout program, making hundreds of billions of dollars a week in loans by ''going direct'' to the trading houses on Wall Street.
The BlackRock plan calls for blurring the lines between government fiscal policy and central bank monetary policy '' exactly what the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve are doing today in the United States. BlackRock has now been hired by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, and Sweden's central bank, Riksbank, to implement key features of the plan. Three of the authors of the BlackRock plan previously worked as central bankers in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland, respectively.
The authors wrote in the white paper that ''in a downturn the only solution is for a more formal '' and historically unusual '' coordination of monetary and fiscal policy to provide effective stimulus.''
We now understand why, for the first time in history, the U.S. Congress handed over $454 billion of taxpayers' money to the Fed, without any meaningful debate, to eat losses on toxic assets produced by the Wall Street banks it supervises. The Fed plans to leverage the $454 billion into a $4.54 trillion bailout plan, ''going direct'' with bailouts to the commercial paper market, money market funds, and a host of other markets.
The BlackRock plan further explains why, for the first time in history, the Fed has hired BlackRock to ''go direct'' and buy up $750 billion in both primary and secondary corporate bonds and bond ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), a product of which BlackRock is one of the largest purveyors in the world. Adding further outrage, the BlackRock-run program will get $75 billion of the $454 billion in taxpayers' money to eat the losses on its corporate bond purchases, which will include its own ETFs, which the Fed is allowing it to buy in the program.
Helicopter money is also spelled out in the BlackRock plan, which explains why simultaneously with the $454 billion Congress carved out for the Fed under the CARES Act, fiscal stimulus was also ''going direct'' with $1200 checks and direct deposits to the little people of America and Paycheck Protection Program loans and grants ''going direct'' to small businesses.
One feature of the BlackRock plan that is certain to get wide public pushback in the U.S. is the proposal for central banks to buy stocks (equities). The authors write this:
''Any additional measures to stimulate economic growth will have to go beyond the interest rate channel and 'go direct' '' [with] a central bank crediting private or public sector accounts directly with money. One way or another, this will mean subsidizing spending '' and such a measure would be fiscal rather than monetary by design. This can be done directly through fiscal policy or by expanding the monetary policy toolkit with an instrument that will be fiscal in nature, such as credit easing by way of buying equities. This implies that an effective stimulus would require coordination between monetary and fiscal policy ''be it implicitly or explicitly.''
In the United States, approximately 85 percent of the stock market is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans. Buying stocks would simply expand and accelerate the wealth and income inequality which is already at the highest levels since the 1920s '' a time when Wall Street also owned large deposit-taking banks.
The Swiss National Bank, the central bank of Switzerland, where one of the BlackRock authors previously worked, already has massive holdings of individual stocks, including $94 billion in publicly traded stocks in the U.S. according to its March 31, 2020 report that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The BlackRock authors of the ''Going Direct'' plan are the following:
Stanley Fischer: Fischer was Vice Chairman of Citigroup from 2002 to 2005. Citigroup received the largest bailout in global banking history, getting $2.5 trillion cumulatively in revolving loans from the Fed and billions more from taxpayers in the financial crisis of 2007 to 2010. Fischer went from Citigroup to serve as Governor of the central bank of Israel (Bank of Israel) from 2005 to 2013. (He holds dual citizenship in Israel and the U.S.) One year later, Fischer became a Governor on the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, advancing to Vice Chairman on June 16, 2014. He resigned his position at the Fed October 13, 2017 and joined BlackRock as a Senior Advisor in January 2019.
Philipp Hildebrand: Hildebrand was Chairman of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank from 2010 until he abruptly resigned in early 2012. (There was a scandal over his wife, a former hedge fund trader, making trades in currencies while he had inside information on interest rates.) Hildebrand is now Vice Chairman of BlackRock and a member of the firm's Global Executive Committee.
Jean Boivin: Boivin is the Head of the BlackRock Investment Institute. He joined BlackRock in 2014. Prior to joining BlackRock, Boivin was appointed Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada in March 2010 where he served for two years. Boivin left the Bank of Canada in October 2012 to become Associate Deputy Minister at the Department of Finance, and to serve as Canada's Finance Deputy at the G-7, G-20 and the Financial Stability Board.
Elga Bartsch: Bartsch heads up economic and markets research at the Blackrock Investment Institute. Prior to joining BlackRock, Bartsch was Global Co-Head of Economics and Chief European Economist at Morgan Stanley in London. According to the government audit of the Fed's bailout programs during the 2007-2010 financial crisis, Morgan Stanley was the second largest recipient of the Fed's bailout programs, behind Citigroup, receiving $2.04 trillion cumulatively in revolving, below-market rate loans.
On May 15, the central bank of Sweden, the Riksbank, announced that it would be using BlackRock to conduct ''an analysis of the Swedish corporate bonds market and an assessment of possible design options for a potential corporate bonds asset purchase programme.''
The Bank of Canada announced in April that BlackRock has been hired as an adviser for its commercial paper, provincial bond, and corporate bond buying programs.
The Federal Reserve has given a no-bid contract to BlackRock to manage all of its corporate bond programs.
Peter Ewart, a writer based in Prince George, British Columbia, wrote the following in the Prince George Daily News about BlackRock's role in herding central bank actions:
''The situation also shows how the economic system in both Canada and the U.S. is not classical capitalism but rather state monopoly capitalism, where giant enterprises are regularly backstopped with public funds and the boundaries between the state and the financial oligarchy are virtually non-existent.''
In the U.S., 30 nonprofits, including Friends of the Earth, U.S. Greenpeace, Public Citizen, Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club and Take On Wall Street, wrote a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on March 27 regarding BlackRock's role in the bailout. The groups called out the Fed on the following:
''By giving BlackRock full control of this debt buyout program, the Fed is further entwining the roles of government and private actors. In doing so, it makes BlackRock even more systemically important to the financial system. Yet BlackRock is not subject to the regulatory scrutiny of even smaller systemically important financial institutions.''
The groups also assailed the Fed for its ''no strings attached'' oversight of how BlackRock was spending the money, writing:
''As far as is known publicly, there are no conditions or restrictions on what debt is purchased or what companies must do to qualify for debt purchases outside of their credit rating. This could mean that those companies could engage in stock buybacks or provide enormous CEO compensation packages, despite these practices exacerbating imbalances in corporate balance sheets and being a significant reason why these companies are so susceptible to the current crisis. This also means that industries that actively harm the climate '' and by extension the financial system '' could get unconditional support'...''
BlackRock is not only a major marketer of corporate bond products. Its iShares brand includes a giant roster of stock-based ETFs. The Chairman and CEO of BlackRock is Laurence (Larry) Fink. Reuters reported last July that Fink was lecturing the European Central bank that it ''will need to purchase equities to stimulate Europe's economy, and that leaders should find ways to have investors embrace an 'equity culture' there.''
The ''equity culture'' is code for what Senator Bernie Sanders calls ''socialism for the rich, and rugged, you're on-your-own individualism for everyone else.''
BBC News - Making electricity from urine
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:27
6 October 2010 Last updated at 12:28 Urine is being converted in to fuel cells by scientists Scientists have developed a way to convert urine in to a renewable energy source. But as Sally Magnusson, author of Life of Pee and presenter of Radio 4's Secret Science of Pee, writes in this viewpoint feature, there is some way to go before the idea is embraced more widely.
A growing number of scientists have cottoned on to the fact that urine is a source of vital enzymes for medicine, precious minerals like fast-depleting phosphorus, and chemical compounds like urea, which are crucial to the manufacture of fertilisers, plastics and cosmetics and can also be used to make electricity.
The question is, can urine help us? And if so, can we see it not as a useless, embarrassing waste product, but as a substance that could drive the next stage of the green revolution?
I started out mildly intrigued by the range of uses urine had in centuries gone by - it was used in the manufacture of gunpowder, alum, dyes, paint and stained glass, to clean Roman togas, and heal wounds.
I wrestled with the revulsion that arises when we move from historical curiosity to envisaging personal application, but I ended up convinced there is an urgent role for urine again in the 21st Century, based on its unique scientific properties.
Continue reading the main story Processed pig urine is used as a diesel exhaust cleaning product 95% of urine is water, the other 5% is solutes including urea A urea solution is already widely used to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from HGVs An adult produces 1-2 litres of urine a day Seven billion people on Earth produce roughly 10 billion litres of urine every day If converted into energy each person could make enough urea each year to power a car for 2700km In the US waste water treatment plants consume 1.5 per cent of all the electricity the country generates Urine could be renewable sourceUrea, an important constituent of urine, is the key to many modern applications.
At Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, the Youtricity research team has developed a urine-powered system to generate electricity.
The carbamide power system runs on urea fuel cells sourced from human urine.
Dr Shanwen Tao, who invented the technology, said urea fuel cells were similar to hydrogen fuel cells, but used urea instead.
His colleague, Dr Robert Goodfellow said it had been a "huge" breakthrough in the search for renewable energy, but the system was being further developed.
He said: "The technology converts the urea within urine directly into water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and more importantly electricity.
"One of the applications for the electricity is when you have no access directly to mains power - in mobile homes, in camping.
"What we are hoping at some point in the future is that once we have removed all the urea from the water itself, then that can be purified more to make it suitable for drinking.
"So in theory you could drink your own waste product."
Dr Goodfellow admitted there could be problems persuading members of the public to use it.
"One of the problems is going to be people's perception to actually using their own waste as a potential source of fuel. There is a definite yuk factor."
Urea is normally produced synthetically from fossil fuels.
Continue reading the main story'' Start Quote There is a definite yuk factor''
End Quote Dr Robert Goodfellow Youtricity researcher at Heriott-Watt UniversityBut humans produce it, efficiently and sustainably, in the liver, where it helps to mop up the toxic ammonia generated from protein metabolism and keeps it safely locked up until it is excreted in urine.
The ammonia is only released when urine comes into contact with micro-organisms in the environment - which is why urine starts out sterile and gradually acquires its unmistakeable smell after it has been lying around for a while.
In bacon-loving Denmark, where ammonia around pig farms is a serious pollutant, the company Waste2Green has started collecting pig urine before ammonia is released.
It then uses the urea in a diesel exhaust cleaning product.
Other potential applications of a chemical compound as widely used as urea could be almost endless. Waste2Green managing director Jes Thomsen suggested it could even be used in lipstick one day.
But the pioneers of this brave new world of urine recycling are encountering two problems.
Scientists fear changing public perceptions could prove difficultOne, not surprisingly, is attitude. When Nasa started purifying urine to produce drinking water in space, it had quite a job persuading its own astronauts it was safe.
The second, linked to the first, is cost.
Earl Braxton runs an American portable toilet company which claims to have discovered how to extract proteins from urine and turn them into medicines like Prozac.
He said he was struggling to find investors willing to risk public squeamishness.
He explained: "If we have four million toilets in the US and there's 10 gallons of urine per service and you service it four times a month, you get 40 gallons per portable toilet.
"You do the math. There's a lot of urine out there. Mining urine is far greater value than mining gold or oil... but people are afraid of it. They don't understand it."
Few alternative technologies will take off until the price of scaling up small innovative efforts begins to look like a bargain.
In urine's case, that requires a hard, long-term look at planetary resources, the dangerous depletion of minerals like phosphorus and the apparent folly of using energy equivalent to 25% of the output of Britain's largest coal-fired power station every day in waste treatment plants to destroy the nitrogen in urine - only for us only to go and get nitrogen from elsewhere to make fertiliser.
The Secret Science of Pee was broadcast on Tuesday, 5 October 2010 at 2100 BST and repeated on Wednesday 6 October 2010 at 1630 BST. Or catch-up afterwards on BBC iPlayer.
Tuesday's devastating attacks in Brussels show IS's European network is still at large, despite a year of intensive efforts by security forces to close it down.
Scientists are debating whether it's possible to harness the power of gravity for interstellar space travel.
The four-year-old boy who has become the centre of a controversy between India and Pakistan - and between his father and mother.
Why, almost 60 years after he first appeared in the Daily Mirror, is a layabout lout from north-east England still so loved around the world?
89 people are killed by mystery disease in South Sudan: WHO taskforce sent to investigate | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:03
Unknown disease has killed 89 people in northern town of Fangak, Jonglei stateThe World Health Organisation has sent a rapid response team to investigateSamples taken by local health officials returned negative results for choleraBy Rachael Bunyan For Mailonline
Published: 06:14 EST, 14 December 2021 | Updated: 06:58 EST, 14 December 2021
A World Health Organization (WHO) taskforce has been sent to South Sudan to investigate an unidentified illness which has killed 89 people.
The country's ministry of health reported that an unknown disease had killed scores of people in the northern town of Fangak in Jonglei state.
The WHO sent a rapid response team of scientists to the area, which is one of the worst hit by recent severe flooding, to collect samples from sick people, reports the BBC.
Local health officials in Fangak said initial samples from the sick returned negative results for cholera.
A World Health Organization (WHO) taskforce has been sent to South Sudan to investigate an unidentified illness which has killed 89 people. Pictured: File image of Medecins Sans Frontiere (MSF) workers prepare a mobile clinic in Rubkona town, Unity State, South Sudan on November 26
The country's ministry of health reported that an unknown disease had killed scores of people in the northern town of Fangak in Jonglei state
'We decided to send a rapid response team to go and do risk assessment and investigation; that is when they will be able to collect samples from the sick people - but provisionally the figure that we got was that there were 89 deaths,' Sheila Baya, from the WHO, told the BBC.
Baya said the team of scientists had to reach Fangak via a helicopter due to severe flooding in the area, adding that the group are waiting for transport to return them to the capital Juba on Wednesday.
In the bordering state of Unity, severe floods have increased the spread of diseases such as malaria and caused malnutrition in children due to food shortages, Lam Tungwar Kueigwong, the state's minister of land, housing and public utilities, said.
Oil from the fields in the region had contaminated the water, he said, leading to the death of domestic animals.
The flooding in the north of South Sudan has cut off communities from accessing supplies of food and other vital commodities.
An aerial view shows houses submerged in flood waters in Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan
A South Sudanese wades through flood waters as she collects firewood in Rubkona, Unity State
More than 700,000 people have been affected by the worst flooding in the country for nearly 60 years, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said, blaming climate change.
The suffering caused by the floods, including food shortages and illnesses, is putting pressure on the health facilities, said international charity M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res, which operates in the area.
'We are extremely concerned about malnutrition, with severe acute malnutrition levels two times the WHO threshold, and the number of children admitted to our hospital with severe malnutrition doubling since the start of the floods,' MSF said.
For Nyatuak Koang, a mother of three boys and two girls, that concern is all too real for her after the floods forced her to move twice.
'We don't have anywhere to sleep, we don't have any mosquito nets and we don't have material to cover our house,' she said.
Nearly a decade after South Sudan gained independence following a war, it faces the threat of conflict, climate change and COVID-19, the outgoing head of the U.N. mission in the country said in March.
Nearly all the population depends on international food aid, and most basic services such as health and education are provided by the United Nations agencies and aid groups.
E.U. Proposes Changes That Would Chip Away at Borderless Model - The New York Times
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 14:58
The plan would institutionalize internal border controls to respond to emergencies, suspending some protections for asylum seekers.
Soldiers near Szudzialowo, Poland, last week along the border with Belarus. Poland has been repelling asylum seekers trying to enter E.U. territory through Belarus. Credit... Marcin Obara/EPA, via Shutterstock Dec. 14, 2021
BRUSSELS '-- Bruised by haphazard pandemic border controls and an ongoing crisis with Belarus over migrants on its eastern frontier, the European Union is proposing changes that could chip away at one of its crowning achievements '-- the unfettered movement of people within the bloc.
Under new rules proposed by the European Union on Tuesday, member states could introduce border checks whenever they wanted, in the face of both unforeseen and foreseeable events. They would then be able to extend them almost indefinitely, although such checks were once emergency measures within what is supposed to be a borderless area.
Member states would also be able to suspend some protections for asylum seekers if neighboring countries orchestrate migratory flows to the bloc's borders, as Belarus has done in recent months to member countries like Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Put together, the proposed changes '-- which still need to be approved by national governments and the European Parliament, which could take many months '-- would recast the way the world's biggest passport-free region functions. They are expected to face heated debate in the European Parliament.
The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, which put forward the proposals on Tuesday, said the changes would help member countries better respond to serious troubles stemming from migration and the pandemic.
''The refugee crisis of 2015, the spate of terrorists attacks on European soil and the global Covid-19 pandemic have all put the Schengen area under strain,'' said Margaritis Schinas, the commission's vice president, referring to the passport-free zone that includes most E.U. members and a handful of other European countries.
Many agree that the rules governing the passport-free zone need to be reformed. But critics and analysts argue that in pushing forward Tuesday's proposals, the European Union will scale back one of its main achievements, the freedom of movement of people and goods that for many encapsulate the essence of the European project. The changes also represent, critics say, significant cuts to humanitarian protections.
In March 2020, as the pandemic took hold, E.U. countries re-erected border checks that had long been eliminated, closing themselves off from each other in an uncoordinated away that disrupted the bloc's internal market, its supply chains and the movement of people.
''There was an immediate return to national borders and national way of thinking, as opposed to a European and unified approach, which one would have expected after decades of working together in a borderless area,'' said Marie De Somer, a senior policy analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Center.
The commission's plan tries to prevent such hasty, ill-coordinated moves. Under the proposed rules, member states would face more scrutiny when justifying the need for border controls.
But Ylva Johansson, the commissioner for home affairs, said Tuesday that a cap of two years on border controls could also be extended. ''You never know that a threat is only through two years,'' she said. ''It could also be longer.''
Image Migrants on the Belarus-Polish border trying to keep warm in November. Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have taken a hard line against asylum seekers trying to enter the bloc through Belarus. Credit... James Hill for The New York Times Tanja Fajon, a left-wing Slovenian lawmaker in the European Parliament, said the new rules risked eroding fundamental rights for migrants, including the right to asylum. ''We are moving forward with more restrictive rules, which is not at all the original idea of Schengen,'' Ms. Fajon said.
And Tineke Strik, a green Dutch lawmaker in the European Parliament, said provisions controlling the movement of migrants without authorization to be in the bloc could increase the risks of racial profiling.
The bloc has grappled with devising a common approach to migration since the 2015 refugee crisis, when over a million people, mainly Syrians, sought asylum in the European Union. Internal divisions over how to divide and process asylum applications weakened the E.U.'s position, critics say, enabling countries just outside the bloc, like Turkey, Morocco or more recently Belarus, to use migrants and asylum seekers as leverage against European countries.
The crisis at the Poland-Belarus border, however, brought something new: a united stance from E.U. states, which supported Poland in its tough response to the migrants at its border. Polish border guards responded with water cannons and pushed migrants back across the border, rights groups say, prompting little reaction from fellow member states.
Now, some European leaders see the European Union as a fortress being attacked from various places outside. Tuesday's proposals represent a major victory for countries like Greece and Cyprus, which claim Turkey has used migrants as weapons, and Spain, which has accused Morocco of engaging in similar behavior.
Reforms to the Schengen area, which comprises 26 countries, are also priority of France, which begins its presidency of the European Union on Jan. 1.
Image A migrant picking olives near the Mavrovouni camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, in November. Greece has claimed that Turkey has used migrants to further its aims. Credit... Louiza Vradi/Reuters Almost 1.7 million people live in one Schengen country and work in another, while an estimated 3.5 million people cross an internal border every day. Undermining the passport-free area would not only be a political risk, but could also have enormous economic consequences for the bloc, said Ms. Fajon, the Slovenian lawmaker.
Six countries, including France, Austria and Germany have had supposedly temporary internal border checks in place for years, on the grounds of health emergency, terrorist threats, or movements of ''irregular'' migrants '-- those who have not been granted asylum or other permission to travel '-- between member nations. The new proposal would de facto enable all national governments to maintain internal border controls indefinitely.
Under the new rules, member states facing an ''instrumentalization of migration'' at their border will also be able to extend surveillance, including with drones and movement sensors; process most asylum requests directly at the border; and extend the registration period for asylum applications from 10 days to four weeks.
The commission proposed similar measures earlier this month for countries neighboring Belarus '-- Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.
The new rules could be triggered when a country bordering the European Union is found to be ''artificially creating and facilitating irregular migration, using migratory flows as a tool for political purposes, to destabilize the European Union and its member states.''
Ms. Strik, the lawmaker from the Netherlands, said the definition was ''very vague'' and could be invoked too easily. ''I can already see the Greek government saying: 'The Turks are doing the same thing to us,''' she said.
To Ms. Fajon, the Slovenian lawmaker, the principle of a borderless zone is being held hostage to a failure to create a common migration policy. ''We are in a vicious cycle,'' she said.
Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting.
Trendwatcher Vincent Everts tijdens livestream in eigen woning overvallen - AT5
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 14:09
Trendwatcher Vincent Everts is aan het begin van de avond het slachtoffer geworden van een gewapende overval. Dat gebeurde in zijn eigen woning in Nieuw-West, terwijl hij te zien was in een livestream over de coronacrisis met Maurice de Hond.
De overval vond rond 17.20 uur plaats. Te zien is dat Everts op staat en tegen een van de overvallers "ik heb helemaal geen Bitcoin" zegt. "Ik ben in de uitzending en er loopt hier iemand met een...", zegt hij daarna. Vervolgens gaat het beeld op zwart.
PistoolNa een aantal minuten komt Everts terug. "Ik zat gewoon met jullie te praten, drie jongens kwamen binnen, die trokken allemaal camera's weg, die hielden een pistool op mijn hoofd en zeiden, 'Bitcoin, Bitcoin'. En ze waren binnengelaten omdat ze net deden alsof ze een pakketje hadden."
Everts vertelt dat ze ook zijn kinderen hebben bedreigd. "Op een gegeven moment werd ik zo pissig dat ik zei, schiet maar als je dat wil, en op een gegeven moment, ik was duidelijk niet van plan om mee te werken.... toen zijn ze weggerend. We hebben 112 gebeld en de politie komt nu."
SignalementenDe politie heeft de signalementen van de daders inmiddels via Burgernet verspreid. Het gaat om mannen van 17 tot 19 jaar oud, waarvan (C)(C)n een DHL-jas droeg. De drie hadden mondkapjes op. Wie ze ziet, wordt gevraagd 112 te bellen.
Bij de woning staan inmiddels meerdere politiewagens. Everts noemt de overval in de livestream te bizar voor woorden. "Het is echt angstaanjagend. Ik heb wel eens vaker gehoord dat er overvallen worden gepleegd vanwege Bitcoins, maar het is echt onzin, net alsof je een bankrekening wil overvallen."
Het afgelopen jaar zijn er meer bekende Nederlanders in de stad overvallen. Burgemeester Halsema noemde dat begin december tijdens een vergadering zorgelijk. Ze zei verder dat er vaak een relatie bestaat met het "tentoonstellen van luxegoederen op social media" en gaf als advies om daarop te letten. "Omdat mensen die kwaad in de zin hebben daar misschien een motief in kunnen vinden."
Een woordvoerder van de politie laat weten dat de daders van de overval niet meer in de omgeving aangetroffen zijn en dat er nog onderzoek wordt gedaan. Ook wordt er nog aangifte gedaan.
Everts laat via Twiter weten 'nu ok' te zijn.
ðŸ'¬ Whatsapp ons!Heb jij tips? Of een interessante foto of video gemaakt? Stuur ons jouw nieuws op 0651190938!
Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates Fail the Jacobson Test 'ܠ Brownstone Institute
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 14:02
Americans are a freedom-loving lot. It is our founding ethos and we have defended it across the world on numerous occasions. At the same time, we have a strong tradition of social altruism and dedication to the common good, especially in times of crisis.
Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for close to two years and vaccines for almost one, we have learned that the vaccines work to a degree and that they have both known serious risks and theorized potential risks.
Over the last few months, Americans have been increasingly facing demands that they be vaccinated or revaccinated'--from governments, schools, employers, shopkeepers, even relatives.
These demands include legally enforceable ''mandates'' that coerce Americans to choose between compliance with vaccination demands and their livelihoods, attending school, travel, and partaking in manifold occasions of civic and religious celebration. Some Americans feel that these demands are appropriate, whereas others see them as classic examples of government overreach'--as infringements of their constitutional and natural rights.
We are facing, in other words, questions about how best to integrate our perennial commitment to freedom with our equally long-standing concern for public health, in this time of crisis.
Anti-mandate contentions based on rights-claims pure and simple do not engage the most important issues presented by government vaccine mandates. Nor do they deal with the tension between freedom and civic responsibility. Based on the scientific knowledge and medical experience acquired over the last two years, it is time for a significant reconsideration of how best to integrate freedom with the genuine requirements of public health in service of the common good.
During the pandemic, the courts have rightly relied upon a century-old precedent of the Supreme Court in mandate cases, but they have gravely misunderstood and misapplied that precedent to uphold draconian and unjustified Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
Much that we have to say about these courts was presaged by three U.S. Supreme Court Justices on October 29, 2021. Arguing (unsuccessfully; they were in the minority) that the high Court should take up the case of a mandate challenge from Maine, Justices Gorsuch, Thomas, and Alito maintained that, although eleven months earlier the Court said that ''stemming the spread of Covid-19'' qualified as a ''compelling interest,'' ''this interest cannot qualify as such forever.''
Why not? Precisely because (these Justices wrote) there are now three ''widely distributed vaccines.'' Eleven months earlier there were none. ''At that time, the country had comparably few treatments for those suffering with the disease. Today we have additional treatments and more appear near.''
We would add especially that it has now become obvious that ''eliminationist'' strategies, in which the overriding public health goal is zero infections, are neither possible nor constructive. We must learn to live with Covid-19 as we have learned to live with other ineradicable, perennial airborne respiratory germs, such as those which cause the common cold and the flu.
Justices Gorsuch, Thomas and Alito wrote: ''If human nature and history teach us anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.'' They said: ''At some great height, after all, almost any state action might be said to touch on ''... public health and safety''...and measuring a highly particularized and individual interest'' in the exercise of a civil right '''directly against these rarified values inevitably makes the individual interest appear less significant'.''
It is time to bring our legal thinking about Covid-19 vaccine mandates down to earth.
At times of national emergency, government's overriding goal must be to protect the population while removing the cause of the state of emergency. This means that certain laws, regulations, and policies may be temporarily suspended to accomplish these tasks. For example, if the army needs your car to transport soldiers to the front line, so be it. In particular, during the 1902 smallpox epidemic, the U.S. Supreme Court in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905) ruled that the State of Massachusetts could compel residents to obtain free vaccination or revaccination against the infection, or suffer a penalty of $5 (about $150 today) for noncompliance.
In authoring the majority opinion in Jacobson, Justice John Marshall Harlan argued (1) that individual liberty does not allow people to act regardless of harm that could be caused to others; (2) that the vaccination mandate was not shown to be arbitrary or oppressive; (3) that vaccination was reasonably required for public safety; and (4) that the defendant's view that the smallpox vaccine was not safe or effective constituted a tiny minority medical opinion.
By 1905, smallpox vaccination had been in common use for almost a century, and populations, legislatures and courts had been essentially unanimous in accepting it as appropriate and effective to prevent smallpox both in individuals and in outbreaks. In the Cleveland smallpox epidemic of 1902-4, there were 1,394 recorded cases and 252 deaths, a case fatality risk of 18%; thus a clear public safety rationale for preventing the infection.
The Court in Jacobson used a host of expressions to describe its four-part scrutiny of the Cambridge, Massachusetts vaccine mandate in that case. Among these expressions are: whether the requirement was ''arbitrary and not justified by the necessity of the case''; whether the mandate went ''far beyond what was reasonable required for the safety of public''; whether it was a ''reasonable regulation, as the safety of the general public may demand;'' and whether it has a ''real and substantial relation'' to the public health.
The Jacobson Court never said that it used a ''rational basis'' test; indeed, that lowest-level of judicial scrutiny was not then a term of art that courts used. And that test surely does not describe in substance what the Court in 1905 did.
Courts during the Covid-19 pandemic have nonetheless regularly applied ''rational basis'' review to vaccine mandates, citing Jacobson as authority for doing so! To cite just one of several possible examples, Judge Frank Easterbrook, writing for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in throwing out a lawsuit by Indiana University students against that institution's vaccine mandate, said: ''[g]iven Jacobson v. Massachusetts,'... there can't be a constitutional problem with vaccination against SARS-CoV-2.''
The main reason for that conclusion was his claim that the Jacobson court used the weakest standard of judicial analysis of government action. Easterbrook invoked the ''rational-basis standard used in Jacobson.'' But the Jacobson Court carefully scrutinized the medico-scientific understanding of the smallpox epidemic and the vaccines then in use, much more so than has occurred in Covid-19 vaccine mandate litigation today.
The Supreme Court in Jacobson repeatedly invoked the ''common good'' of the polity as the principle of sound constitutional thinking about the public health emergency of the day. Just so'--then and now. The Court did not, however, equate the ''common good'' with a reflexive preference for some collective interest over each person's rights, or with automatic deference to the latest asserted findings of ''the science.''
Likewise, it is imperative that courts today follow Jacobson and critically examine and weigh the asserted scientific bases for vaccine mandates. Over the last year, much of the public discourse about vaccines, their efficacy and their hazards of adverse reactions has revolved around statements made by the CDC, FDA and other governmental agencies and personnel. These agencies are tasked with studying, reporting on and approving drugs, medical devices, and vaccines in the context of various diseases and conditions, including population outbreaks in the US and elsewhere in the world.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become evident that these agencies have not uniformly reflected objective verifiable science but have had repeated instances of numerous conflicts of interest in review panel members having explicit or hidden ties to pharma and vaccine companies. These problems and other apparently illogical or contradictory public statements made by these government agencies have eroded public trust in the agencies substantially.
In this context, for the government to assert that its constitutional obligations (as described in Jacobson, for example) are satisfied only ''because a government agency says so'' would be self-serving and wholly inadequate. Such reasoning would not satisfy the burden of proof; rather, the government would need to demonstrate the relevant, full, non-cherry-picked scientific evidence to make the case.
Now let's consider the four criteria upon which Jacobson relied in deciding that the smallpox vaccine mandate in 1905 passed constitutional muster, and use them to evaluate today's Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
(1) Individual liberty does not allow people to act regardless of harm that could be caused to others. Of course. But this criterion as stated is vague in the range of its possible implications. For example, people are naturally professionally and economically competitive. One person succeeds at another's failure. Such harms can be serious, but this cannot possibly be a type of harm envisioned by Justice Harlan.
What seems apparent is that this criterion is addressing the compelling interest in limiting people from acting to spread the infection. In Constitutional law a ''compelling interest'' is a necessary or crucial action rather than a preferential one; for example, saving the lives of large numbers of people at risk.
In fact, the federal government has already set a de facto threshold for this level. Annually, approximately 500,000 Americans die from tobacco-related diseases. Yet, the federal government has never acted to curtail tobacco use in any meaningful way. This implies that 500,000 deaths per year is not large enough to trigger a compelling government interest.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which classes of people would be at high mortality risk from the infection was uncertain. After six months, it was well-established that there is a huge Covid-19 mortality difference between people over age 70 and people under age 30.
Thus, it seems that any truly ''compelling'' interest can only apply to high-risk individuals, who are definable and comprise a small minority of the general population. Furthermore, the lives of such individuals can often be protected by known existing and available pharmacologic and monoclonal antibody interventions (see criterion (3) below), which means that there may be a less-than-compelling interest for universal vaccination even among them.
Finally, the required government interest is required to be shown to support a vaccine mandate, not the free availability of vaccines. Since most individuals at high risk of bad Covid-19 outcomes presumably would rationally choose to obtain vaccinations, the additional numbers of saved lives attributable to the mandate, over and above the lives saved under general vaccine availability in the same population, is very likely not large enough to satisfy the large numbers needed to show that an indiscriminate mandate serves a ''compelling'' interest in public health.
Additionally, we know now, and both Drs. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky have stated publicly, that fully vaccinated individuals can become infected and transmit the virus to others. A number of such outbreaks have occurred in diverse locales. Thus, there is no apparent compelling interest in mandating vaccination for low-risk individuals specifically in an attempt to reduce infection transmission to high-risk people'--just as there is no compelling interest in mandating vaccination to reduce infection transmission to low-risk people.
Just to be clear, government compelling interest inheres in prevention of serious outcomes such as hospitalization and mortality. But we assert that that there is no such compelling interest in Covid-19 case occurrence. The overwhelming majority of cases recover. Prevention of Covid-19 cases is at most a desirable policy goal and not a compelling interest.
As has become increasingly apparent, natural immunity following Covid-19 infection is stronger in repelling subsequent viral outbreaks than vaccine-based immunity. (Thus, prevention of Covid-19 case occurrence per se is actually counterproductive in ending the pandemic.) While the Supreme Court has opined that ''[s]temming the spread of Covid-19 is unquestionably a compelling interest'' in Roman Catholic Diocese v. Cuomo, that decision was rendered early in the pandemic, before the long-term weakness of vaccine-based immunity was understood. With what is known now, reasoning about compelling Interest for vaccine mandates no longer applies.
(2) The vaccination mandate is not shown to be arbitrary or oppressive. Covid-19 vaccine mandates imposed by the federal government and some state governments require vaccination by all adults except those requesting medical exemptions or religious exemptions. Criteria promulgated by the CDC for medical exemptions however are extremely limited, essentially involving only severe life-threatening allergic reactions as demonstrated from taking the first vaccination of the two-dose mRNA series. Religious exemption requests appear to have met variously capricious responses by vaccine mandate reviewers, and some states have prohibited religious exemptions altogether, in violation of (as Justices Gorsuch, Thomas, and Alito argued and as we would maintain) constitutional guarantees of religious liberty.
The one quite irrational consideration of all vaccination mandates to date is that the mandates ignore people who have had Covid-19 and thus have natural immunity. There are now more than 130 studies demonstrating the strength, durability and wide spectrum of natural immunity particularly versus vaccine immunity.
Whether people with natural immunity would have even stronger immunity if they also undergo vaccination is irrelevant, because their natural immunity is more than sufficient and long-lasting to satisfy the goal of vaccine mandates.
Some arguments have been put forward asserting that antibody levels may be higher in vaccinated people than people recovered from Covid-19, but antibody levels per se do not translate into degree of immunity. Antibody levels in vaccinated people decline appreciably starting at four months post-vaccination, whereas antibody levels in Covid-19 recovered stay roughly constant during those months. Other assertions have been that asymptomatic or mild Covid-19 infections may not produce strong natural immunity; however, these claims have been shown to be scientifically unfounded. Empirical population studies on reinfection/breakthrough infection demonstrate that natural immunity is as strong or stronger than vaccine immunity.
Finally, natural immunity can be documented by having ever had a positive Covid-19 PCR, antibody or T cell test, regardless of current status of those tests.
Similarly, Covid-19 vaccine mandates for children are unwarranted because children almost entirely get infected from their parents or other adults in the household, and infrequently transmit the infection to their classmates, teachers or uninfected household adults.
Normal healthy children do not die from Covid-19, and the 33 children aged 5-11 years estimated by the CDC to have died from Covid-19 between October 3, 2020 and October 2, 2021 all had chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, being immunocompromised (e.g., after cancer treatment) that put them at high risk, and even these numbers are much lower than childhood deaths from traffic and pedestrian accidents, or even being hit by lightning. Covid-19 in children is almost entirely an asymptomatic or mild disease typified by fever and tiredness and resolves on its own in 2-3 days of rest. Thus, vaccine mandates for children are unwarranted.
In sum, a policy requiring vaccination of people who are either already immune or of no consequence either for their own health or for spreading the infection is arbitrary. It is oppressive in inflicting a medical procedure on people who do not need it for themselves or for others. Such a policy would even fail the ''rational basis'' test which so many courts have applied perfunctorily.
(3) Vaccination is reasonably required for public safety. Vaccination in theory prevents personal infection and disease, as well as transmission of infection to others. The government's interest is almost entirely in the latter. We now know that the Covid-19 vaccines in the real world don't prevent transmission all that well.
Further, public safety is enhanced by use of medications for early outpatient treatment that safely allow increase in population natural immunity. An extensive body of studies has accumulated over the last 18 months showing that various approved but off-label medications dramatically reduce risks of Covid-19 hospitalization and mortality when started in ambulatory patients within the first five days or so of symptom onset.
Meta-analyses of hospitalization and mortality risks calculated by the first author are shown in the figures on the next page for two drugs, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. Additional thorough discussion of standards of evidence of randomized and nonrandomized drug trials, as well as on a number of small trials that failed in the adequacy of their study designs and executions, is posted here. These analyses show that numerous drugs and monoclonal antibodies are available to treat ambulatory patients with Covid-19 successfully, making vaccination a choice for dealing with the pandemic, but not a necessity.
As stated earlier, sole reliance on FDA or CDC opinions on these medications, without demonstration of full, objective, and unbiased data underlying those opinions, would be inadequate for standards of proof. The evidence however is overwhelming that treatment recipes used by doctors actually treating Covid-19 outpatients work very well and thus provide alternatives to vaccination for preventing hospitalization and mortality.
(4) The vaccine has a long popular, medical, and legal history of being regarded as safe and effective. This criterion decisively distinguishes Jacobson and the smallpox vaccine mandate from what is happening today. Jacobson did not accept dissenting testimony about vaccine safety or efficacy because the vaccine at that time had been a staple in society for almost 100 years.
The genetic Covid-19 vaccines have no such information, have every indication that they are orders of magnitude more harmful, and even the FDA still classifies all three in use in the US as experimental, which means that their EUA designations have only required showing that they may convey some benefit and need not be harm-free, i.e., have not been established as safe and effective, let alone known as such for decades or longer.
Jacobson established criteria of Safety and Efficacy that must be shown beyond all doubt, that embody the provably safe and effective use of the vaccine for decades. The Covid-19 vaccines come nowhere near close to that standard.
The mandatory smallpox vaccine of 1902-4 had been in use for nearly a century and a gigantic amount of information was available and known about its short- and long-term safety and efficacy, and it was widely accepted across all segments of society based on that body of information.
In contrast, the Covid-19 genetic vaccines included in the proposed federal mandate have essentially zero long-term history and the slimmest of information about safety and efficacy.
According to the VAERS database, to date some 19,000 deaths have been associated with the Covid-19 vaccines, of which more than one-third occurred within three days of vaccination. In this one year of Covid-19 vaccination, this number is more than double the number of deaths from all other vaccines over more than 30 years combined in the VAERS data. It is also more than 150 times the mortality risk of smallpox vaccination, 0.8 per million vaccines (Arag"n et al., 2003).
The VAERS database also identifies more than 200,000 serious or life-threatening non-death events to date, and this number is almost certainly at least 10-fold undercounted because of the work, difficulty, impediments and lack of general knowledge involved in filing adverse event reports in the VAERS system. Many of these adverse events portend lifelong serious disabilities. But two million serious or life-threatening events is well more than the damage that would have been caused by even untreated Covid-19 occurrence in the same 200 million vaccinated Americans, especially given that two-thirds of them have strong natural immunity from having had asymptomatic or symptomatic Covid-19.
These numbers indicate that these severe events caused by the vaccines very likely outnumber serious Covid-19 outcomes that would have occurred in the same individuals had they not been vaccinated. As well, those numbers would be dramatically lower with general availability of the suppressed but effective treatment medications for early ambulatory patient use.
With regard to efficacy, the three US Covid-19 vaccines showed great promise in their original randomized trials results. However, as these vaccines have been rolled out in hundreds of millions of doses to the general public in the ''real world,'' their performance has differed from what was originally described.
Over time, vaccine efficacies in reducing risks of Covid-19 infection and mortality have declined appreciably, over 4-6 months for infection and 6-8 months for mortality. Many jurisdictions have begun to consider requirements for periodic booster doses, which is a frank admission that the touted original vaccination programs have not been sufficiently effective.
At a population level, large-scale vaccination rollout has reduced waves of infection. Over time though, as the vaccines have lost effectiveness, the waves have begun to recur. This has been seen dramatically in the U.K. and Netherlands over the last five months. In an analysis of Covid-19 case data from 68 countries and 2,947 U.S. counties, it was observed that the magnitude of case occurrence is unrelated to the level of population vaccination (Subramanian and Kumar, 2021).
Thus, if vaccination were to be the only method of combating the pandemic, it appears that vaccinations repeated indefinitely at 6-month intervals would be required, and even that may not be all that successful in reducing spread substantially. There are no vaccination programs for other general diseases in the US that require such a high frequency of compliance. Even influenza, which has a substantial annual mortality, has an annual revaccination frequency, is only perhaps 50% effective over the flu season, is not mandated.
The Jacobson case set a model of how the U.S. government and its subdivisions would be empowered to protect the public while at the same time minimizing limitations of activities and infringements of rights. Further, it relied solely on a moderate economic penalty for noncompliance. The smallpox pandemic in 1902-4 had an estimated case fatality risk of 18%, whereas the case fatality risk of Covid-19 is less than 1%. This massive difference should have given hesitancy to the draconian purported control measures that have been instituted across the country.
A careful reading of Jacobson shows that it is not just an automatic consideration allowing the government to do what it wants when a pandemic emergency has been officially declared. In a pandemic, courts look to Jacobson for precedent as an apparent direct fit, but even so must evaluate the evidence for satisfying all of the Jacobson criteria. As we have shown, Covid-19 vaccine mandates do not satisfy any of the required criteria in Jacobson, let alone all of them.
The question to be addressed then is why a pandemic infection with approximately 1/20th the natural mortality risk of the previous smallpox pandemic would be subject to the grievous penalties of loss of employment, loss of medical care, loss of necessary activities of daily life, and mandate of vaccines that unlike in the previous pandemic have no long-term safety data. Given that none of the Jacobson criteria have been met, the infringements and demands of the government and its public health agencies have not been justified according to law. This is the argument that must be made as to why the proposed vaccine mandate is an unwarranted overreach inconsistent with established public health policy and law.
Harvey Risch is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Risch received his MD degree from the University of California San Diego and PhD from the University of Chicago. After serving as a postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology at the University of Washington, Dr. Risch was a faculty member in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Toronto before coming to Yale.
Gerard V. Bradley is professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches Legal Ethics and Constitutional Law. At Notre Dame he directs (with John Finnis) the Natural Law Institute and co-edits The American Journal of Jurisprudence, an international forum for legal philosophy. Bradley has been a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Witherspoon Institute, in Princeton, N.J. He served for many years as president of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.
How millions of jobless Americans can afford to ditch work - CNN
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 13:52
New York (CNN Business)One of the more insidious myths this year was that young people didn't want to work because they were getting by just fine on government aid. People had too much money, went the narrative.
Only trouble is, the numbers don't back it up.
Instead, early retirement '-- whether forced by the pandemic or made possible otherwise '-- is playing a big role in America's evolving labor market.
People have left the workforce for myriad reasons in the past two years '-- layoffs, health insecurity, child care needs, and any number of personal issues that arose from the disruption caused by the pandemic. But among those who have left and are not able to '-- or don't want to '-- return, the vast majority are older Americans who accelerated their retirement.
Earlier this month, ADP Chief Economist
Nela Richardson said the strong stock market along with soaring home prices "has given some higher income people options. We already saw a large portion of the Boomer workforce retiring. And they're in a better position now."
In assessing the jobs recovery, economists have pointed out that while the unemployment rate has come down, the labor force participation rate hasn't improved at the same pace. But Jared Bernstein, a member of President Joe Biden's Council of Economic Advisers,
said that once "non-prime age" workers '-- those over 55 '-- are excluded from the metrics a much clearer picture of how the labor recovery is doing emerges because it strips out the retirement narrative.
Last month, there were 3.6 million more Americans who had left the labor force and said they didn't want a job compared with November 2019, says Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist and professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
Older Americans, age 55 and up, accounted for whopping 90% of that increase.
"I think a lot of the narratives imagine prime-age workers as being missing, but it actually skews much older," Sojourner told CNN Business.
The labor shortage and retirement
oft-lamented labor shortage has become a shorthand for the complicated reality of the
pandemic-era labor force.
Americans are
quitting their jobs in record numbers '-- more than 4 million each month since July '-- but much of that quitting is happening among young people who are leaving for other
jobs or better pay. They're not leaving the workforce entirely.
"Part of it is a job quality shortage," says Sojourner. "It's a bit of a puzzle why employers aren't raising wages and improving working conditions fast enough to draw people back in. They say they want to hire people '-- there are 11 million job openings '-- but they're not creating job openings that people want."
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell underscored that issue
during a news conference on Wednesday.
"There's a demographic trend underlying all of this... The question of how much we can get back is a good one, and what we can do is try to create the conditions," that allow people to come back, he said.
To be sure, some companies
have been raising wages to attract and retain staff. Some businesses also offer signing bonuses to get workers in the door. But economists aren't sure whether these incentives are here to stay and will
improve conditions for workers in the long term.
"I can want a 65-inch TV for $50, but it doesn't mean there's a TV shortage, it means I'm not willing to pay enough to get somebody to sell me a TV," said Sojourner.
Nearly 70% of the 5 million people who left the labor force during the pandemic are older than 55, according to researchers from Goldman Sachs, and many of them aren't looking to return.
Retirements tend to be "stickier" than other labor force exits, the researchers wrote. Even so, they expect that an improving virus situation and increased vaccination will allow older workers to return to the labor force.
In normal times, retired people are often drawn back into the workforce. But the "unretirement" rate fell significantly during the pandemic, exacerbating the shortage of workers, according to research from the Kansas City Fed.
There are some early signs that seniors are coming back to the workforce as vaccination rates increase and employers offer higher wages. The unretirement rate fell to just over 2% early in the pandemic, but in recent months has ticked up to around 2.6%,
according to Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed. That's still off from the pre-pandemic rate of around 3%.
Then again, older workers are potentially competing with younger, more qualified applicants for jobs, which could make their return more challenging.
Horse owners launch $53 million class action against Hendra vaccine maker Zoetis - ABC News
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:53
Horse owners have launched a $53 million law suit against the pharmaceutical company responsible for developing the Hendra vaccine.
The owners, from New South Wales and Queensland, are claiming that Zoetis Australia PTY LTD did not provide adequate warnings about the potential side effects of the vaccine on their horses.
Half a million doses have been administered to horses across Australia since 2012.
About 1,500 horses have experienced adverse reactions and have not been able to return to their regular work.
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The barrister instructed by LHD Lawyers, John Rowe, said Zoetis failed to inform horse owners of the potential side effects and have breached the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Act by failing to properly trial and test the vaccine before its release.
"The reality is the vets that administered the vaccination initially didn't give the owners any warning at all," Mr Rowe said.
"Many of the horse owners would not have agreed to the inoculation had they been warned of the possible side effects."
Class action a risk: companyDamages are being sought for any individual horse owner whose horse was effected by the vaccine resulting in death or loss of use.
Michael Hyland, special counsel for LHD Lawyers, says the owners that are part of the class action had suffered significantly.
"It's had a profound impact on the horse owners and it's something they are struggling to come to terms with," Mr Hyland said.
Zoetis has issued a statement saying the vaccine wass "safe and effective" and "no vaccinated horse has contracted the Hendra virus".
The company said it has not been notified of a claim and a class action would put people and animals at risk.
"Attacks on vaccination have the potential to put the lives of vets, the horse owning public and horses at risk," a spokesperson said.
The Hendra virus has killed 103 horses and four people across 60 separate outbreaks in QLD and NSW.
Nicaragua cuts diplomatic ties with Taiwan to align with Beijing | Politics News | Al Jazeera
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:45
Nicaragua has broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, leaving the self-ruled democratic island with just 14 formal diplomatic allies amid continuing pressure from China, which claims the island as its own.
The Central American country made the announcement in a brief statement on Thursday from its foreign ministry, and cited Beijing's ''One China'' policy.
''The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua declares that it recognises that in the world there is only one single China,'' the statement read. ''The People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all of China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. The Government of the Republic of Nicaragua today breaks diplomatic relations with Taiwan and ceases to have any contact or official relationship.''
Three hours after Nicaragua's announcement, China's State Council Information Office said the two signed a joint communique on the resumption of diplomatic ties in Tianjin.
Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, welcomed the move.
''We highly commend the right decision made by the Government of Nicaragua, which is in line with the prevailing trend of the times and people's aspirations,'' he tweeted, claiming Beijing's One China principle was a ''consensus widely accepted''.
In response, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it ''deeply regretted'' the decision of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to ''disregard the friendship'' of the Taiwanese people.
Taiwan also said that it was breaking off relations with Nicaragua, although the decision is widely seen as a unilateral move by Nicaragua.
China and Nicaragua have resumed diplomatic relations. #GLOBALink
'-- China Xinhua News (@XHNews) December 10, 2021
Formally known as the Republic of China, Taiwan's government fled to the island at the end of the Chinese Civil War. It represented China at the UN from the end of World War II until the early 1970s.
Since the 2000s, China has steadily chipped away at Taiwan's remaining allies who are mostly small countries in the Caribbean, South America and the Pacific Islands as well as the Holy See.
Beijing has become increasingly assertive since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016, with Kiribati and the Solomon Islands both breaking with Taiwan in 2019. The Solomon Islands decision remains controversial, however, and contributed to last month's unrest in the capital, Honiara, which left at least three people dead.
'Offer they couldn't refuse'During the Cold War, Taiwan and Nicaragua were both united by the anti-Communist beliefs of their one-party authoritarian states, headed respectively by Chiang Kai-shek and the Somoza family.
Both later transitioned to democracy although Nicaragua followed a more unstable path.
President Daniel Ortega has held power for 14 years and ahead of last month's election, criticised by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union, imprisoned more than a dozen opposition leaders ahead of the vote for violating national security laws.
The US said the decision to switch ties did not reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people because of the ''sham'' election that took place on November 7.
''Without the mandate that comes with a free and fair election, Ortega's actions cannot reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people, who continue to struggle for democracy and the ability to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms,'' State Department spokesman Ned Price said. ''We do know, however, that this deprives Nicaragua's people of a steadfast partner in its democratic and economic growth.''
The US imposed sanctions on Ortega and his family during unrest that began in 2018 and led to the deaths of at least 325 people, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Ortega's government had relied on financial support from Taiwan including a $3m donation to police in 2018, and a $100m loan in 2019.
Other foreign aid from Taiwan, however, has taken the form of more benign school lunch projects, health care and agricultural development projects, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nicaragua was probably prompted to make the switch because ''they had an offer they couldn't refuse'' from China, said Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Fairbank Center. It was likely such incentives took the form of foreign aid, trade deals or other investment projects, he added.
Sana Hashmi, a visiting fellow at the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation, agreed,
Nicaragua is among three countries in its region to have signed onto China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive global infrastructure project worth more than $3 trillion by some estimates.
''At the end of the day, it is mostly about who could give a better deal to some of the remaining allies of Taiwan. China has deeper pockets, and the way it has spent on the BRI projects is just one example. Through the BRI, China's presence is already increasing in Central America,'' Hashmi said.
The break with Taiwan comes as the island has gained some visibility despite its diplomatic isolation, amid growing unease with China in places like Europe, Australia and North America.
Early last month, a seven-member delegation from the European Parliament visited Taipei amid concerns in the European Union over alleged attempts by China to influence European politics and sow misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nicaragua's president won re-election in a poll a month ago that critics, including the US, have described as a sham [File: Maynor Valenzuela/Reuters]Later in November, a bipartisan group of five legislators from the US House of Representatives met Tsai in a surprise one-day visit. Taipei was also on the guest list for US President Joe Biden's democracy summit this week.
President Tsai said Nicaragua's decision would not deter it from its commitment to democracy.
''The more successful Taiwan's democracy is, the stronger the international support, and the greater the pressure from the authoritarian camp,'' she told reporters.
''Three years back, perhaps, I would have called it a major setback but now, I don't see it impacting Taiwan's international standing,'' Hashmi said. ''Taiwan is increasingly getting the support of several liberal democracies, and if it really wants to be a true beacon of democracy, it should no longer be overlooking the human rights violations in the countries with which it has diplomatic allies. This becomes all the more important when Taiwan is ranked as one of the freest countries in the world.''
Beijing has reacted with anger to countries that have sought closer relationships with Taiwan, and downgraded ties with Lithuania after Taipei opened a representative office in the Baltic nation using the name ''Taiwan'' rather than the usual Taipei.
China's state-run Global Times crowed that the resumption of ties between Beijing and Nicaragua was a ''slap in the face to the US and Taiwan secessionists who tried to create (the) illusion the island has the support of international society like Lithuania''.
The last time Beijing and Taipei came close to military conflict was during the 1950s on an outlying Taiwanese island, but Beijing also fired missiles in the direction of Taiwan ahead of its first democratic election in 1996.
Beijing has also used other methods to isolate Taiwan '' from putting pressure on international organisations like the UN to exclude it as an observer to regularly sending military aeroplanes into its air zone.
Taiwan still formally claims mainland China in its constitution, but it has largely moved away from that position since its democratic transition.
Conservative members of the Kuomintang, one of Taiwan's two major political parties, however, still formally hope to one day unify with China.
U.S. bonds: Treasury yields are mixed as investors digest Fed decision
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 11:38
U.S. Treasury yields were mixed early on Thursday, as investors continued to digest the Fed's latest policy decision.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell less than a basis point to 1.4582% at 1:50 a.m. ET. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond rose by less than basis point to 1.8627%. Yields move inversely to prices and 1 basis point is equal to 0.01%.
Following it's two-day policy meeting, the Fed announced Wednesday that it would be buying $60 billion of bonds a month starting in January. This is half the level it bought prior to the November taper and $30 billion less than in December.
The Fed was tapering by $15 billion a month in November, doubled that in December, and will accelerate the reduction further come 2022.
This would see the central bank wrap up its tapering program by late winter or early spring.
Fed officials expected as many as three rate hikes in 2022, according to the central bank projections released on Wednesday.
Stock picks and investing trends from CNBC Pro:Ron Temple, co-head of multi-asset and head of U.S. equities at Lazard Asset Management, said on Wednesday that with the economy "firing on all cylinders," the Fed was right to reduce its asset purchases.
However, he warned that the Fed should be "judicious" about when and how quickly it raises interest rates.
Temple explained that the labor market was still "far from fully recovered" and inflation was "below target nearly 90% of the last decade." He said the Fed should, therefore, "avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in reaction to one year of uncomfortably elevated inflation."
In terms of data due out on Thursday, the number of jobless claims filed last week is due out at 8:30 a.m. ET.
November's building permits and housing starts data are also set to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Markit's flash purchasing managers' index for December is then expected to come out at 9:45 a.m. ET.
Auctions are due to be held on Thursday for $30 billion of 4-week bills and $25 billion of 8-week bills.
'-- CNBC's Jeff Cox contributed to this market report.
Will Fed Crash Global Financial Markets for Their Great Reset?
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 08:39
It's looking increasingly likely that the US Federal Reserve and the globalist powers that be will use the dramatic rising of inflation as their excuse to bring down the US financial markets and with it, crash the greatest financial bubble in history. The enormous inflation rise since the malicious political lockdowns and the trillions of dollars in emergency spending by both Trump and Biden, coupled with the continuation of the Fed's unprecedented near-zero interest rate policies and asset purchases of billions in bonds to keep the bubble inflated a bit longer'' have set the stage for an imminent market collapse. Unlike what we are told, it is deliberate and managed.
Supply chain disruptions from Asia to normal truck transport across North America are feeding the worst inflation in four decades in the USA. The stage is set for the central banks to bring down the debt-bloated system and prepare their Great Reset of the world financial system. However this is not an issue of inflation as some mysterious or ''temporary'' process.
The context is key. The decision to crash the financial system is being prepared amid the far-reaching global pandemic measures that have devastated the world economy since early 2020. It is coming as the NATO powers, led by the Biden Administration, are tipping the world into a potential World War by miscalculation. They are pouring arms and advisers into Ukraine provoking a response by Russia. They are escalating pressures on China over Taiwan, and waging proxy wars against China in Ethiopia and Horn of Africa and countless other locations.
The looming collapse of the dollar system, which will bring down most of the world with it owing to debt ties, will come as the major industrial nations go fully into economic self-destruction via their so-called Green New Deal in the EU, and USA and beyond. The ludicrous Zero Carbon policies to phase out coal, oil, gas and even nuclear have already brought the EU electric grid to the brink of major power blackouts this winter as dependency on unreliable wind and solar make up a major part of the grid. On December 31, the ''green'' new German government oversees the forced closing of three nuclear power plants that generate the electricity equivalent of the entire country of Denmark. Wind and solar can in no way fill the gaps. In the USA Biden's misnamed Build Back Better policies have driven fuel coats to record highs. To raise interest rates in this conjuncture will devastate the entire world, which seems to be precisely the plan.
The Fake US Inflation Data
Ever since the early 1970s when President Nixon asked his pal, Arthur Burns, then head of the Federal Reserve, to find a way to get rid of politically damaging consumer inflation monthly data that reflected soaring oil prices along with grain, the Fed has used what they called ''core inflation'' which means consumer price rises MINUS energy and food. At the time energy made up a significant 11% of inflation data. Food had a weight of 25%. Presto by 1975 a 400% OPEC rise in oil prices and a 300% global grain price rise owing to harvest failures in the Soviet region, ''core inflation'' fell significantly. This, despite the fact that American consumers had to pay far more for gasoline and bread. Very few real people can live without energy or food. Core inflation is a scam.
By 1975 the Burns Fed had eliminated major costs of housing and other factors leaving a Consumer Price Index that was a mere 35% of the original basket of commodities measured. By then real everyday inflation was out of control. In the real world, USA gasoline today is 58 percent more expensive than in 2020 and over the last 12 months, food prices have gone up by more than 6 percent on average. Today the US Consumer Price Index does not include the cost buying and financing houses, and also not of property taxes or home maintenance and improvement. These factors have been soaring across America in the past year. Now all that is lacking is a statement by the Fed that inflation is more alarming than they thought and required aggressive rate hikes to ''squeeze inflation out of the system,'' a common central bank myth made dogma under Paul Volcker in the 1970s.
The Bloated US Stock Market
Wall Street markets, today with stocks at historic bloated highs, aided by near zero Fed rates and $120 billion of monthly purchases by the Fed of bonds as well, are at a point where a policy reverse by the Fed, expected now in early 2022, could begin a panic exit from stocks to ''get out while the getting is good.'' That in turn will likely trigger panic selling and a snowballing market collapse that will make the recent China Evergrande real estate and stock collapse look like nothing at all.
Since the global financial crisis of September 2008, the Federal Reserve and other major central banks such as the ECB in the EU and Bank of Japan have pursued unprecedented zero interest rates and often ''quantitative easing'' purchases of bonds to bail out the major financial institutions and Wall Street and EU banks. It had little to do with the health of the real economy. It was about the largest bailout in history of brain dead banks and financial funds. The predictable result of the Fed and other central banks' unprecedented policies has been the artificial inflation of the greatest speculative bubble in stocks in history.
As President, Donald Trump constantly pointed to new record rises in the S&P 500 stocks as proof of the booming economy, even though as a savvy businessman he knew it was a lie. It was rising because of the Fed zero interest rate policy. Companies were borrowing at low rates not to expand plant and equipment investment so much as to buy back their own stocks from the market. That had the effect of boosting stocks in companies from Microsoft to Dell to Amazon, Pfizer, Tesla and hundreds of others. It was a manipulation that corporate executives, owning millions of their own company shares as options, loved. They made billions in some cases, while creating no real value in the economy or the economy.
How big is today's US stock market bubble? In October 2008 just after the Lehman crisis, US stocks were listed at a total of $13 trillion capitalization. Today it is over $50 trillion, an increase of almost 400% and more than double the total US GDP. Apple Corp. alone is $3 trillion.
Yet with massive labor shortages, lockdowns across America and huge disruptions to trade supply chains especially from China, the economy is sinking and Biden's phony ''infrastructure'' bill will do little to rebuild the vital economic infrastructure of highways, rains, water treatment plants and electric grids. For millions of Americans after the 2008 housing collapse, buying stocks has been their best hope for retirement income. A stock crash in 2022 is being prepared by the Fed, only this time it will be used to usher in a real Great Depression worse than the 1930's as tens of millions or ordinary Americans see their life savings wiped out.
Stock Buyback Game
Over the past four quarters, S&P 500 companies bought back $742 billion of their own shares. Q4 of 2021 will likely see a record increase in that number as companies rush to pump their shares ahead of a reported Biden tax on corporate stock buybacks. Since the beginning of 2012, the S&P 500 companies have bought back nearly $5.68 trillion of their own shares. This is no small beer. The dynamic is so insane that amid a Microsoft decision last month to buy back ever more shares, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dumped over 50% of his Microsoft stock in one day. But the stock barely budged because Microsoft itself was busy buying back shares. That indicates the level of unreality in today's US market. The insiders know it's about to crash. Tesla's Elon Musk just sold $10 billion of his stock, allegedly to pay taxes.
Making the stock market even more vulnerable to a panic selloff once it is clear the Fed will raise interest rates, there is nearly $1 trillion in margin debt as of data from October, debt for those buying stocks on borrowed money from their brokers. Once a major market selloff begins, likely early in 2022, brokers will demand repayment of their margin debt, so-called margin calls. That in turn will accelerate the forced selling to raise the cash calls.
There is much discussion about when the Fed will reduce its buying of US Treasury securities as well as government-linked home mortgage bonds. That buying has been huge. Since the start of the covid pandemic hysteria in February 2020, total Federal Reserve holdings of such securities have more than doubled from $3.8 trillion to $8 trillion as of end of October 2021. That has kept home mortgage rates artificially low and fueled panic home buying as citizens realize the low rates are about to end. That the Fed calls ''taper'', reducing the monthly buying of bonds to zero at the same time it raises key interest rates, a double whammy. This is huge, and blood will flow from Wall Street beginning 2022 when the Fed taper picks up momentum early in 2022 combined with raising rates.
Already in November the Fed began reducing its monthly market supporting buying. ''In light of the substantial further progress the economy has made toward the Committee's goals of maximum employment and price stability,'' the FOMC declared in its recent minutes. It announced that it is decreasing the amount of Treasury and Mortgage backed securities purchases in November and December.
Since the Vietnam War era under President Lyndon Johnson, the US Government has manipulated employment data as well as inflation numbers to give a far better picture than exists. Private economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, estimates that actual USA unemployment far from the reported 4.2% for November, is actually over 24.8%. As Williams further notes, ''The Inflation Surge Reflects Extreme Money Supply Creation, Extreme Federal Deficit Spending and Federal Debt Expansion, Pandemic Disruptions and Supply Shortages; It Does Not Reflect an Overheating Economy.'' Federal Budget Deficits are running a record $3 trillion a year with no end in sight.
Raising rates at this precarious juncture will bring down the fragile US and global financial system, paving the way for a crisis where citizens might beg for emergency relief in the form of digital money and a Great Reset. It is worth noting that every major US stock market crash since October 1929 including 2007-8, has been a result of deliberate Fed actions, disguised under the claims of ''containing inflation.'' This time the damage could be epochal. In September the Washington-based Institute of International Finance estimated that global debt levels, which include government, household and corporate and bank debt, rose $4.8 trillion to $296 trillion at the end of June, $36 trillion above pre-pandemic levels. Fully $92 trillion of that is owed by emerging markets such as Turkey, China, India and Pakistan. Rising interest rates will trigger default crises across the globe as borrowers are unable to repay. This has been deliberately created by central banks, led by the Fed, since their 2008 crisis by pushing interest rates to zero or even negative.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
Canada advises against international travel: 'I understand this sucks,' Trudeau says | TheHill
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 08:37
The Canadian government on Wednesday advised residents against travelling internationally in light of the omicron variant's spread.
"I say very clearly: Now is not the time to travel," said Canadian Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, according to Reuters.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "I understand that sucks" and encouraged people to "be careful during this holiday season. Get your kids their shots."
The travel advisory issued on Wednesday recommended that Canadians avoid nonessential travel to most other countries, including the U.S.
"If you're planning to travel outside of Canada for the holidays, please, change your plans. Let's be clear: with the emergence of the Omicron variant and its spread around the world, now is not the time for non-essential international travel," Trudeau wrote on Twitter.
"It's still incredibly important to follow public health guidelines and, more than anything, to get vaccinated. After all, we have enough vaccines for your kids over 5 to get their first dose - and we've secured enough boosters for adults. So, when it's your turn, get your shot," he said.
As Reuters noted, health experts have warned that the omicron variant may soon overwhelm Canada's health systems.
Peter Juni, Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table director, acknowledged that people are likely exhausted from dealing with the pandemic, but urged people to get vaccinated and to take omicron seriously.
"What really worries me is that people are asleep at the steering wheel, internationally," said Juni. "They have wishful thinking it will be mild. ... This is not a realistic attitude."
"I'm completely exhausted," he added. "I've had it. I'm done completely. But the virus doesn't care."
Yamal-Europe gas flows stable: press
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 18:20
A threat from Belarus to suspend gas shipments to Europe did little to interrupt the flows from Russia's Yamal-Europe pipeline, the Reuters news service reported December 14.
Belarus is a key transit route for Siberian gas flowing via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Poland and Germany. The former Soviet Republic also hosts parts of the Druzhba pipeline system that sends crude oil to central and eastern Europe.
The EU has slapped sanctions on Belarus in response to the migrant crisis on the border with Poland. Both Poland and the EU accuse Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging migrants from Middle East and African nations to try to enter Poland, creating a border crisis.
In response, Lukashenko has made repeated threats to shut off the flow of Russian gas through Belarus.
Pointing to data from German network operator Gascade, the Reuters news service reported that gas deliveries to Germany through Yamal-Europe have been ''stable'' for the past 24 hours.
The Kremlin distanced itself from previous threats from Lukashenko. Russian state media reported in November that Lukashenko did not consult with the Kremlin before suggesting that Belarus could cut off Russian gas transit to Europe.
The steady flow did little to ease concerns about natural gas levels in Europe, however. European gas prices have risen to unprecedented heights over recent months amid a sharp rebound in demand that supply has not matched. Price growth has been particularly pronounced in recent weeks, after Europe's main gas supplier Gazprom exported a record low amount of gas to the continent in November, despite earlier expectations that it would ramp up supplies.
Adding to the upward pressure, storage levels are unusually low, with facilities in the EU and the UK only 62.8% full, according to data published by Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE).
There is a geopolitical risk premium, meanwhile, emanating from Western concerns that a Russian military invasion of Ukraine is imminent. While there are gas pipeline networks that avoid Ukraine, there remains a vast network of Soviet-era pipelines running through its territory.
Travis Tracker: 'It alarms me:' Austin residents given 6-minute notice on 1-year COVID extension
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 17:37
Extending the city of Austin's COVID-19 emergency orders for another year was placed on the agenda Friday, giving Austin residents until noon Monday to sign up to speak for a Tuesday morning meeting.
Then that already tight timetable was greatly reduced.
At 8:54 a.m. this morning, the orders were apparently amended, giving Austin residents six minutes to analyze the document prior to the first meeting of the day -- that's "zero time to respond or sign up to speak" according to the sole Republican member of the Council.
Mackenzie Kelly, in her inaugural year as District 6 Council member, pointed out that impossibility during the special meeting of the Austin City Council this morning, before she voted against the ordinance that enforces COVID-19 rules issued by Austin's public health authority. The original orders were set to expire on Dec. 31 of this year.
"It alarms me that we did not give our community members a chance to voice their concerns on how the ordinance will significantly impact their lives for nearly another year," Kelly said, during the meeting. "[...] My colleagues and I sit up here and talk a lot about including the community in our decision-making process. This item, however, did not get the same treatment as others we discuss from the dais. In the new revised version of the ordinance, there are changes that need to be reviewed by the community and deserve time to do so."
According to Kelly, the amended health rules (which she said were referenced in Part 5 of the ordinance) were not posted on the city's website, although ths had requested that they be included. Rather, what was posted was dated Friday.
"This morning, when version 2 of the ordinance came into my email box, I searched the city’s website, and the COVID-19 site with orders and emergency rules does not have a document that was posted on the 14th of December," she said.
We include Kelly's entire statement below for context.
District 7 Council member Leslie Pool said following Kelly's comment to "avoid politicizing this public health and safety issue. But according to public comments, the apparent obfuscation is all about politics.
Rupal Chaudhari, candidate for Travis County Judge and one of two members of the public who learned about the agenda item and signed up to speak in time, called the emergency extension a "Friday afternoon surprise" taken to "a whole new level."
"We the voters of Austin and Travis County had until noon Monday to not only study and analyze the COVID restrictions ordinanace but also simply to learn it was being taken up on Tuesday. Who here spends their Saturdays and Sundays reading through city council agendas?" Chaudhari said.
Chaudhari added if there were more time, mental health experts, business owners, and various other members of the community would be present to speak.  
"Maybe we the people could point out how COVID-19 doesn't exist only in schools and Veterans Day parades, but also at Formula 1 races and soccer stadiums -- and ask about why there is such a glaring double-standard in place. Or we can contiue to hide behind the term 'emergency' -- as if we haven't been living under these restrictions for an entire year. But we won't get to, because you barely gave us any notice. Thank you for giving us the bare minimum, at least -- those of us paying attention really appreciate it."
Both speakers, who called into the meeting remotely, were opposed to the extension.Travis County Commissioners voted concurrently to accept the Austin health authority's rules after meeting in joint session with the Ausitn Council in an informaion-only meeting. The joint session was followed by regular meetings of both entities.
According to cursory read, the rules were updated to cover personal behavior and public school campuses. KXAN-TV reported the rules do not specifically use the term "business," but state “a person in control of a site is encouraged to support and provide incentives for workers and patrons to obtain the vaccine to reduce the risk to those who are unable to receive the vaccine, including children under the age of 12.” KXAN also noted the rules attempt to require anyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask on school property during "Stage 3" or higher. Austin and Travis County is currently at Stage 3 according to their own measures. The fees carry a penalty of up to $2,000 per day -- yet they are subject to state laws and governor's orders which currently prevent local entities from requiring masks. Numerous school districts have continued to defy Gov. Greg Abbott's orders and have required masks be worn by students, faculty, and staff.
According to Kelly, one of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Austin was on March 13, 2020, and that recovery and vaccination trends are on the increase. She said the data on the Austin-Travis County COVID-19 dashboard do not support extending penalties for inividuals and businesses. 
Today, there are 121 COVID-19 patients in Travis County, 43 ICU patients, and 19 patients on ventillators of the city's nearly 1 million residents.
* * *
Statement by Council membmer Mackenzie Kelly:
One of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Austin was on March 13, 2020. Today, vaccine services for COVID-19 are readily available, and trends are showing recovery and vaccination rates are increasing.
The information that we see on the Austin Travis County COVID-19 dashboard does not support extending an ordinance that includes penalties for an additional year. As of today, we have 121 covid 19 in patients, 43 ICU patients, 19 patients on ventilators. To put this in perspective, Austin has a population of more than 950,000 residents.
It alarms me that we did not give our community members a chance to voice their concerns on how the ordinance will significantly impact their lives for nearly another year. This item was posted this past Friday afternoon, with health rules that are referenced in the ordinance from December 10th. Today’s revised ordinance, posted at 8:54 am this morning, version 2, references health rules from today, December 14. This gives the public zero time to respond or sign up to speak. We only had two speakers sign up today, and that is not representative of the whole community.
In the backup on the item on our website, the health rules referenced in part five of the ordinance weren’t posted until the last 24 hours, at my request, and they’re from the December 10th date. This morning, when version 2 of the ordinance came into my email box, I searched the city’s website, and the COVID 19 site with orders and emergency rules does not have a document that was posted on the 14th of December. 
This document directly outlines health rules that affect everyone in our community until December 31, 2022, and needs to be reviewed further. My colleagues and I sit up here and talk a lot about including the community in our decision-making process. This item, however, did not get the same treatment as others we discuss from the dais. In the new revised version of the ordinance, there are changes that need to be reviewed by the community and deserve time to do so. 
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to many of my constituents. They expressed their concerns regarding the COVID-19 restrictions and how the restrictions affect their everyday lives. One theme among them all that I support is protections for themselves and their families. What that looks like is different to everyone.
Although I cannot agree with the timeline of the proposed ordinance, I realize that we need to continue to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of our citizens. This can be accomplished by allowing our constituents to make decisions for themselves to protect their families, not through mandates, like this, that include penalties for non-compliance.
I believe every person's responsibility is to exercise safety precautions to protect themselves and others from the virus. In this, we should either allow for community input and allow them to be the chief decision makers in how they decide to conduct their personal safety regimen. 
I will not be supporting this item today, but I fully support a more robust conversation with the community before we proceed with an item that has an impact on the lives of our community for nearly a year.
National Association For Deaf Targets SiriusXM - Podcast Business Journal
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 16:29
The Verge is reporting that The National Association for the Deaf has filed a lawsuit against SiriusXM for failing to provide captioning and transcripts for ''the vast majority'' of its podcasts.
The Verge, quoting the complaint, reports that ''SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York state law by mot making podcast streams available for deaf and the hard-of-hearing. ''Defendants' failures to provide transcripts of their podcasts excludes deaf and hard-of-hearing persons from the critical sources of news, entertainment, educational programs, and popular culture that Defendants make available to their hearing customers, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.''
Read the full Verge story HERE.
SiriusXM sued for failing to provide podcast transcripts for Deaf users - The Verge
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 16:27
SiriusXM is facing a lawsuit from the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) and the Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) for failing to provide captioning and transcripts for ''the vast majority'' of its podcasts. According to the complaint, SiriusXM and its subsidiaries Pandora and Stitcher are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and New York state law for failing to make their podcast streams accessible for Deaf and hard-of-hearing users.
''Defendants' failures to provide transcripts of their podcasts excludes deaf and hard-of-hearing persons from the critical sources of news, entertainment, educational programs, and popular culture that Defendants make available to their hearing customers, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law,'' the complaint states.
The lawsuit notes that the ADA requires companies providing services to the general public are expected to provide the services in a manner accessible to people with disabilities.
The lawsuit does not name Spotify, producer of some of the most well-known podcasts, including The Joe Rogan Experience. Spotify doesn't yet provide a transcript for Rogan's shows (although some third-party apps provide transcripts). In May, Spotify announced it would begin auto-transcribing some of its original shows, with the aim of eventually enabling transcripts across all its podcasts.
''We can't sue every bad podcast provider in a single lawsuit and had to start somewhere, but it is important to deaf and hard of hearing users that transcripts be provided across all podcast platforms,'' Christina Brandt-Young of DRA said in an email to The Verge. ''It's deeply concerning to us that even when the authors of podcasts make their transcripts available elsewhere (like some podcasts from the New York Times), SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora don't provide them through their services, making our clients work twice as hard to get the same information everyone else gets.''
She noted that transcripts are easy to provide, ''and these are multimillion-dollar companies. It's time for them to do the right thing and provide podcast transcripts on their websites and apps.''
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages and an injunction requiring the companies to provide transcripts for all their podcast content and to ''affirmatively market the availability of transcripts to deaf and hard-of-hearing'' people.
Sirius XM didn't respond to requests for comment from The Verge on Tuesday.
Too Many to Count: Factors Driving Fertilizer Prices Higher and Higher
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 15:51
Among farmers and ranchers, very few topics are being discussed as much as the skyrocketing cost of fertilizer and increasing concerns regarding availability. Given that fertilizer costs account for approximately 15% of total cash costs in the U.S., fertilizer prices are the number one issue on farmers' minds as they begin to set up purchases for the 2022 growing season. Unfortunately, the fertilizer sticker price farmers in some areas are reporting is up more than 300% and delivery times are anyone's best guess. We've seen this before, in 2008. During the 12 months ending in April 2008, nitrogen prices increased 32%, phosphate prices increased 93% and potash prices increased 100%. Prices remained there through 2009, then dropped, ultimately returning to pre-2007 levels by the end of 2009. That price surge was associated with strong domestic and global demand, low fertilizer inventories and the inability of the U.S. fertilizer industry to adjust production levels. This time around, those same factors are at play, along with several others that add an extra layer of uncertainty.
This article dives into a number of the short- and long-run factors impacting fertilizer supply and demand to provide context to the increasingly expensive production input.
All major nutrients used in the production of primary row crops in the U.S., nitrogen (in the forms of anhydrous ammonia, urea, or liquid nitrogen), phosphorus (diammonium phosphate '' DAP and monoammonium phosphate '' MAP) and potassium (potash), have experienced varying degrees of upward price pressure. Compared to September 2020 prices, ammonia has increased over 210%, liquid nitrogen has increased over 159%, urea is up 155%, and MAP has increased 125%, while DAP is up over 100% and potash has risen above 134%.
Looking at the average price of each nutrient since September 2008, as collected in the Illinois cost of production dataset, anhydrous ammonia is up 118% above its average of $656 per metric ton; urea is up 101% from its $453 per metric ton average; liquid nitrogen is up 84% from its $305 per metric ton average; DAP is up 50% from its $550 per metric ton average; MAP is up 61% from its $555 per metric ton average; and potash is up 61% from its $485 per metric ton average.
Expand Image Expand Image Expand Image Fertilizer is a global commodity and can be influenced by multiple market factors beyond the control of U.S. producers. Similar to globally traded commodities, 44% of all fertilizer materials are exported to a different country. This factor has an outsized impact on fertilizer prices because fertilizer production is not only influenced by what is occurring where it is produced or the cost of production in that country, but also affected by the numerous other countries demanding fertilizer products and the transportation rates to get the fertilizer to its final destination.
Increased Global Fertilizer Demand
Two-thirds of global fertilizer demand is driven primarily by six crops. Globally, corn represents about 16% of the farm-use fertilizer demand, with wheat a close second, representing about 15% of global farm-use fertilizer demand. Rice represents about 14% of global farm-use fertilizer demand, followed by vegetables at 9%, fruits at 7% and soybeans at 5%.
As a large producer of corn, soybeans and wheat, the U.S. is a large consumer of fertilizer. However, with increased technology and innovation for on-farm products, the use of fertilizer in the U.S. has decreased, despite increased planted acres of these crops. At peak use, during the 1980/81 fiscal year, the U.S. used 23.7 million nutrient tons but has pulled back due to the adoption of precision fertilizer application, as shown by the most recent data available '' 2015/16 '' when U.S. nutrient use was reported at 22.1 million nutrient tons. Corn represents about 49% of the share of U.S. nutrient use, while wheat accounts for about 11% and soybeans account for 10%. Cumulatively, those three crops account for about 70% of U.S. fertilizer consumption.
Though the U.S. has lowered its overall consumption of global nutrient use, other countries have increased fertilizer use. Back in the 1960s, the U.S. accounted for 25% of global nutrient use. Today, the U.S. only accounts for about 10% of global use, with U.S. farmers representing only 2% of that share.
Expand Image The Multitude of Supply Factors
Domestic Production vs. Imports
The U.S. is the third-largest producer of fertilizer globally, however, it still requires the importation of all three nutrients, especially nitrogen and potash, to fully meet demand. This means that U.S. fertilizer dealers and U.S. producers are required to pay the price defined by the global market for fertilizer and fertilizer materials, plus transportation.
In 2020, U.S. ammonia was produced at 36 domestic plants and shipped around the country by pipeline, rail, barge and truck. According to the most recent data from the International Fertilizer Association, in 2018 the U.S. ranked second in nitrogen production, representing 11.6% of global production, behind China, which produced 24.6% of nitrogen, and ahead of India, which is the third-largest global producer of nitrogen, producing 11.3% of global supply. For phosphate production, the U.S. also ranked second, with 9.9% of global production, behind China, which produced 37.7%, and again ahead of India, with 9.8% of the global supply of phosphate. For potassium potash, Canada leads the way in production, representing 31.9% of global production, followed by Belarus, which produces 16.5% of global supply. Russia is a close third as it produces 16.1% of potassium global supply. China ranks fourth. In total, about 80% of the world's potash comes from those four countries. The U.S. ranks as low as 11th in potassium production, with only 0.8% of global supply coming from the U.S.
When it comes to global exports, the U.S. is not a major fertilizer exporter. The U.S. holds a share of about 4.6% of the nitrogen exports, ranking seventh. Russia is first, with a share of 16.5% of exported nitrogen, followed by China with about 11.2% of share in nitrogen exports, and Saudi Arabia, which holds a share of 6.4% of nitrogen exports.
Of phosphate exports, the fourth-ranked U.S. represents about 11.8%. China is first in phosphate exports, holding a share of 25.2% of global phosphate exports, followed by Morocco with a share of 17.4%, and Russia with a share of 12.7% of global phosphate exports. Of the global potassium exports, the U.S. represents less than 1% of global exports and ranks 12th among other countries. Canada holds the largest share of global potassium exports with 36.2%, followed by Belarus with an export share of 18.5% and Russia, which represents 16.5% of global potassium exports.
Energy and Other Variable Costs Rising
To make fertilizer, along with globally priced raw materials, production facilities require a large amount of energy to convert the raw chemical materials into their applicable farm-use state. For example, anhydrous ammonia is produced by the Haber-Bosch process in which nitrogen is combined with hydrogen to synthesize the ammonia, using natural gas as the source of the hydrogen, as well as the energy, for synthesizing. Since natural gas is the primary building block for most nitrogen fertilizers, it takes about 33 million metric British thermal units (MMBtu) per material ton of ammonia to make the conversion. This accounts for 70% to 90% of the production variable costs in the synthesis process. Natural gas prices have risen dramatically over the past few months, especially in Europe, where they have increased over 300% since March 2021, which has also forced many EU nitrogen plants to close. Plus, plants built for this process typically take about three to five years to build and cost about $3 billion to $5 billion. The long-run impact is that when a demand surge occurs, the response time to fulfill supply via an additional production facility will lag about three to five years at a significant price tag.
Speaking to the natural gas price spike, during the February freeze throughout Texas, much of the natural gas production was interrupted or shifted away from regular uses and pushed to Texas due to the demand spike. This forced U.S. ammonia plants in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, which combined account for about 60% of production, to shut down during this time and cut about 250,000 tons of production. Then Hurricane Ida hit those areas and production was paused once again.
Amid these production halts, delayed plant turnarounds from COVID were stopped again, just as plants were trying to catch up. This caused more production disruptions, either for much-needed regular maintenance or issues that have occurred as a result of delayed maintenance. These plant turnarounds are necessary and essential to maintain the chemical processes and safety of fertilizer production plants. Many plant turnarounds were delayed during the worst of COVID as precautions at production facilities were implemented and the companies contracted to perform these turnarounds were asked to delay visits until it was safe to bring external employees back on site. These disruptions are enough to cause a slight decrease in availability, despite the U.S. spending the past few years increasing its number of production plants to match nearly the same number as in 2002, as influenced by lower natural gas prices from 2009 through the end of 2020.
Short-term costs, like increased natural gas prices and production delays, have a direct impact on production because they create diseconomies of scale. When the short-term variable cost of production rises above the average cost of production in the long-run, a production facility cannot maintain that level of production in an economically viable way. It will scale back production and look for alternatives to backfill supply. With fertilizer, as the price of natural gas skyrockets and increases the cost of production, as in the case of synthesizing ammonia, U.S. producers can no longer compete with other global producers who may have a lower cost of production. This results in a pull-back of production and the search for supply elsewhere, typically via imports. In the case of ammonia, even with domestic U.S. ammonia production, the U.S. must still import as low as 30% of its nitrogen in the 2019/20 fiscal year to as high as 59% back in the 2005/06 fiscal year which is purchased at the global price plus transit costs.
Other fertilizer nutrients have similar production cost woes. Converting phosphate rock from a raw product to its fertilizer-use form is a little different process that involves surface mining. The soil and rock covering the phosphate must be removed using large draglines that are often five stories high. These draglines are very large and very expensive pieces of equipment that operate using electricity, which has gotten even more expensive. This puts phosphate-based fertilizers in a similar situation as ammonia conversion plants, looking to supply the product at a lower cost elsewhere. And, again, though potash production is done via mines for potassium, they also operate on electricity. These mines are anywhere from a kilometer to a mile underground, around the world, with only about 10 countries that produce potash and even fewer countries that export the product, causing a further tightening of supply.
Pivots in Fertilizer Demand Outlook Impacting Production
Further impacting fertilizer supply is the reaction to COVID-19 precautions along with the continuing ''accordion effect'' throughout the economy. Essentially, the entire supply chain, including fertilizer production and distribution, is working overtime after being forced to slow or stall in response to pandemic safety precautions.
The market outlook for commodities during summer 2020, before massive export buying began in September 2020, was bleak for producers. The farm economy was uncertain and commodity prices were at low and unpredictable levels. The corn price in June 2020 was $3.20 per bushel, the lowest level since 2006. Soybeans were estimated to be $8.20 per bushel, the lowest price since 2006 and wheat was $4.60 per bushel, the lowest level since 2016.
Similarly, from mid-2019 to mid-2020, fertilizer prices were at or very near their lowest levels since 2016 and 2017, depending on the nutrient. The International Fertilizer Association produces a fertilizer forecast for global demand about every six months. Prior to COVID-19, in December 2019, IFA was forecasting a drop in global fertilizer demand, with about a 1% increase in demand over the next two years. Global fertilizer demand for the 2017/18 fiscal year was set at 190.1 million metric tons of nutrients; 2018/19 fiscal year was set to be 188.8 MMT; 2019/20 global fertilizer demand was expected to be 190.5 MMT; and 2020/21 global fertilizer demand was expected at 192.9 MMT.
When COVID-19 took hold and a flurry of uncertainty arose, forecasts for fertilizer demand grew more pessimistic, with demand expected to drop significantly, according to the new July 2020 forecast. Expectations of global fertilizer demand for the 2019/20 fiscal year were lowered from 190.5 MMT to 189.9 MMT, while global fertilizer demand for the 2020/21 fiscal year was expected to drop from 192.9 MMT to 184.4 MMT, a decrease of 4.5%. Expectations for the newest 2021/22 fiscal year set global fertilizer demand expectation at 189 MMT. Suppliers and producers responded accordingly and adjusted production lower and implied that the outlook indicates no signals of any kind that would cause a ramp-up in production or an increase in imports of raw materials.
Then, unexpectedly, massive export buying of commodities quickly improved the commodity price outlook, particularly for corn, soybeans and wheat. By April 2021, USDA forecasts indicate the corn price to be $4.30 per bushel, an increase of 34% and the highest price since 2013. Soybeans were estimated to be $11.25 per bushel, an increase of 37% and also the highest price since 2013. Wheat came in at $5 per bushel, an increase of 8%, and continues to climb, going above $6 per bushel. Increases in commodity prices drive farmers to plant more profitable crops. Thus, the market outlook for farm economy conditions had significantly improved and 2021 planted crop acres for corn, soybeans and wheat were expected to increase, rather than decrease or stay stagnant compared to 2020.
The new IFA forecast, released in November 2020, reflected these changes, indicating an increase in global fertilizer demand. The newest forecast showed an even higher demand for fertilizer than forecasts prior to COVID-19, which is what we continue to see as farmers look to lock in their input prices for the 2022 growing season. The most recent forecast for global fertilizer demand for the 2019/20 fiscal year kept expectations at 189.9 MMT, but increased expectations for global fertilizer demand in the 2020/21 fiscal year, moving from 184.4 MMT back up to 193.5 MMT, which is higher than the expectations in December 2019 of 192.9 MMT. Expectations for the newest 2021/22 fiscal year moved from original estimates of 189 MMT to 195.6 MMT, an increase of 3.5%. The gap of expected demand between July 2020 and November 2020 is the shortage of supply that production plants are working to make up and fulfill.
The narrowing of fertilizer demand followed by a quick expansion, rather than a slow return, created another supply chain shock. Under initial pandemic safety precautions, early forecasts anticipated a negative impact on global fertilizer demand and market reactions to this forecast caused production rationing. Then, the rapid rise in row crop prices led to quick reactions for higher fertilizer demand in the U.S. and abroad, further tightening supplies already strained due to production and distribution issues.
Distribution and Supply Chain Disruptions
Once the fertilizer is converted from raw material to on-farm use, it must be transported to retailers for growers to purchase, completing the last link in the supply chain. Now, fuel prices are up again, along with trucking rates. As more people return to the road, gasoline demand is rising beyond even pre-COVID-19 levels.
There has been an increase in the number of goods shipped at all stages: raw, processed and consumer-ready. Not to mention the increased demand for goods delivered directly to end-users, clogging typical distribution chains still catching up from pandemic slowdowns. This pressure and pace have increased shipping rates and labor needs as more people are required to deliver these goods. And fertilizer, as a globally exported/imported product that has to be delivered to rural areas, has been greatly affected.
Hurricanes, ice storms, labor issues, additional manufacturing capacity and infrastructure breakdowns, including rail logistics issues and increased freight rates, have caused even more production and distribution disruptions.
Trade Duties
Along with increased shipping rates for the 44% of fertilizer that is exported across the world, anti-dumping trade dispute cases are also likely increasing fertilizer costs, though there is not enough current publicly available data to indicate by how much. In 2018, U.S. imports of fertilizer materials from Morocco and Russia were up over 2.4 MMT. Then, the anti-dumping case was filed against those countries and imports to the U.S. from Morocco and Russia declined. Mosaic, the largest U.S. producer of phosphate, won the anti-dumping case and a 30% tariff was applied to phosphate imports. CF Industries, the largest U.S. producer of UAN, applied a similar case to Russia regarding liquid nitrogen. In 2019, U.S. fertilizer imports from Morocco were just about 2 MMT, up 11% compared to 2018, while fertilizer imports from Russia were 729,288 MMT, down about 16% compared to 2018. Purchases have shifted to other countries, so U.S. imports of ammonia and phosphate are now arriving from countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Australia, Mexico, Lithuania and Egypt. This shift is in search of other imports that are more likely to arrive at a price lower than an applied tariff rate, but are likely still to be slightly higher than the going global price due to applied transit costs.
Other trades disruptions have played a big role in fertilizer availability and cost. As mentioned earlier, these things build on each other. Sanctions from the European Union have been applied to Belarus and the U.S. has followed the same process to apply sanctions. As Belarus contributes about 20% of global potash exports, these sanctions have slowed and even stopped shipments of potash to the EU and the U.S. According to TFI, these sanctions are also discouraging other countries from buying from Belarus, forcing an overall lessened contribution of global potash supply.
At the end of September, China applied an export ban on phosphate due to rising costs of production and domestic use. With China accounting for 25% of phosphate fertilizer exports globally, this export ban puts even more pressure on prices. There is potential for China to also apply an export ban to urea; China contributes about a 10% share of global urea exports.
Other Geopolitics
In addition to trade disputes, countries are implementing policies that impact global prices. For example, India has approved an additional $3.8 billion to increase the fertilizer subsidy for its farmers, causing fertilizer demand in India to continue to rise, pushing prices even higher for global buyers.
2022 Planting Intentions
Given all these factors, fertilizer prices are expected to remain high through springtime, which may compel some farmers to shift planted acres away from corn to commodities that use fertilizer at a lower rate, like soybeans or wheat. With the price of ammonia about 85% correlated with the price of corn, farmers must consider whether the increased cost of fertilizer and other inputs can be recovered by cash receipts from crop revenues in order to break even. There are also expectations retailers will have to turn customers away because they will not be able to deliver fertilizer products on time, increasing the need for supply chain and infrastructure improvements.
2021 Tax Implications
When keeping financial records, business owners have two accounting methods to choose from '' cash basis accounting or accrual accounting. The difference between the two methods lies in the timing of when farmers record sales and purchases. Under the cash basis, revenue is recorded when cash is received from customers, and expenses are recorded when cash is paid to suppliers and employees. Under the accrual basis, revenue is recorded when earned and expenses are recorded when consumed.
The IRS allows farmers to use the cash method of accounting for their tax returns, and most choose this option. Cash accounting requires income from selling farm products to be reported in the year they are sold, which may differ from the year in which they were produced. Likewise, under cash accounting, the costs of farm inputs and services are reported in the year in which they are paid for, which may differ from the year in which they are used.
The fact that the cash method is utilized by most farmers is important in the discussion on fertilizer prices. Many farmers will purchase inputs needed for the next growing year, like fertilizer, in the waning months of the calendar year to reduce farm income and subsequently reduce their tax liability in the current year. This year, many farmers have been unable to purchase their fertilizer for 2022 and as a result, will likely face a higher tax bill in 2021.
Need For Tariff Relief
Price increases, especially price increases that can be mitigated or avoided, such as the application of import duties, can have an impact on a farm's bottom line. Imports are an important part of the fertilizer supply to farmers. The application of the duties that are potentially in effect for five years, with the possibility of extension, will result in a continued constricted supply and an imposed higher price for users. From experience, America's farmers know that imposing the requested anti-dumping and countervailing duties on fertilizer imports will add to agricultural production costs and request that they be removed.
U.S. agriculture production costs are increasingly important to the near- and long-term viability of U.S. farms. Fertilizer prices are the issue top of mind for farmers heading into 2022 since fertilizer costs account for approximately 15% of total cash costs in the U.S. All major crop production nutrients have experienced increased prices when compared to September 2020: ammonia has increased over 210%; liquid nitrogen has increased over 159%; urea is up 155%; MAP has increased 125%; DAP is up over 100%; and potash has risen above 134%.
While this information helps to understand the factors causing one of the farmers' biggest concerns, it does not alleviate the rising input costs that are out of their control. Many farmers feel these rising input prices are taking away all the momentum provided by the higher commodity prices that were going to help them break even or be just above the bottom line.
SPARS Pandemic Scenario | Projects: Center for Health Security
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 15:47
SPARS Pandemic ScenarioFocus area:
Emerging Infectious Diseases and Epidemics
The Center's SPARS Pandemic exercise narrative comprises a futuristic scenario that illustrates communication dilemmas concerning medical countermeasures (MCMs) that could plausibly emerge in the not-so-distant future. Its purpose is to prompt users, both individually and in discussion with others, to imagine the dynamic and oftentimes conflicted circumstances in which communication around emergency MCM development, distribution, and uptake takes place. While engaged with a rigorous simulated health emergency, scenario readers have the opportunity to mentally ''rehearse'' responses while also weighing the implications of their actions. At the same time, readers have a chance to consider what potential measures implemented in today's environment might avert comparable communication dilemmas or classes of dilemmas in the future.
The self-guided exercise scenario for public health communicators and risk communication researchers covers a raft of themes and associated dilemmas in risk communications, rumor control, interagency message coordination and consistency, issue management, proactive and reactive media relations, cultural competency, and ethical concerns. To ensure that the scenario accounts for rapid technological innovation and exceeds the expectations of participants, the Center's project team gleaned information from subject matter experts, historical accounts of past medical countermeasure crises, contemporary media reports, and scholarly literature in sociology, emergency preparedness, health education, and risk and crisis communication.
The scenario is hypothetical; the infectious pathogen, medical countermeasures, characters, news media excerpts, social media posts, and government agency responses are entirely fictional.
Project team lead: Monica Schoch-Spana, PhD
Project team: Matthew Shearer, MPH; Emily Brunson, PhD, associate professor of anthropology at Texas State University; Sanjana Ravi, MPH; Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, MA; Gigi Kwik Gronvall, PhD; Hannah Chandler, former research assistant at the Center
Date completed: October 2017
SPARS Pandemic scenario bookSPARS announcement from the CenterSPARS Pandemic scenario book listing in the HHS Disaster Information Management Research Center's resource library
Inger Stoejberg: Jail for Danish ex-minister for asylum separations - BBC News
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 15:38
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Inger Stoejberg served as Denmark's immigration minister from 2015 to 2019
A former Danish immigration minister has been found guilty of illegally separating young asylum-seeking couples in a landmark impeachment trial.
Judges ruled Inger Stoejberg's decision in 2016 to separate couples was unlawful and jailed her for 60 days.
Ms Stoejberg said she was very surprised by the verdict as the policy was designed to combat child marriage.
The case was Denmark's first impeachment trial in three decades and only the sixth in its history.
"It's not just me who has lost but Danish values have lost too," she told reporters outside the court, adding that she would accept her punishment but had no regrets.
Between 2015 to 2019, Ms Stoejberg served as Denmark's immigration minister in a centre-right government propped up by the right-wing populist Danish People's Party.
During her tenure she took a hard line on immigration and introduced dozens of restrictions. Among them was an order in February 2016 that married refugees under 18 years old should not be accommodated with their spouse.
Ms Stoejberg ordered the separation of 23 married couples before the policy was dropped a few months later.
Among them were a young Syrian couple, Rimaz Alkayal, then 17 and her spouse Alnour Alwan, 26, who were reunited following a complaint. They had been forced to live apart for four months, even though she was pregnant.
The Supreme Court's verdict on Monday leaves Ms Stoejberg's political career hanging by a thread.
When the guilty verdict was read out by court chairman Thomas Roerdam, the former minister gasped in shock, according to Danish reports.
Outside the court, prosecutors said they were satisfied with the "historic" verdict, while Ms Stoejberg's lawyers said it was harsh.
The verdict cannot be appealed and the jail sentence is unconditional, meaning that it must be served.
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Supporters of Ms Stoejberg have held demonstrations outside the Supreme Court
Ms Stoejberg resigned as deputy leader of the conservative-liberal Venstre party last February after its MPs voted to impeach her.
She is currently an independent MP, but could lose her seat in a vote to remove her from parliament.
Ms Stoejberg is a divisive figure in Denmark, but some commentators believe Monday's verdict may galvanise her supporters on the right wing of politics.
A long-running case
The case started in 2016, when a Syrian couple complained about being placed in separate asylum centres to Denmark's ombudsman.
Investigations by both the ombudsman and a special commission concluded that their separation and others ordered by Ms Stoejberg were illegal.
Under Danish and human rights law, each case must be assessed individually. This requirement had been ignored and therefore breached human rights, the investigations found.
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Ms Stoejberg is known for her tough stance on immigration
Two independent lawyers then determined there were grounds for impeachment, and in February this year a large majority of MPs voted in favour, including Ms Stoejberg's own party.
The 26 judges of Denmark's Supreme Court convened to decide whether Ms Stoejberg had violated the European Convention on Human Rights and a ministerial accountability law.
On Monday, 25 of those judges voted to convict her of the charges.
A contentious verdict
Monday's verdict has divided opinion and sent shockwaves through Denmark's political establishment.
The parliamentary leader of the nationalist Danish People's Party, Peter Skaarup, said he found the verdict incomprehensible and backed Ms Stoejberg's separation policy.
But Rosa Lund, an MP for the left-wing Unity List party, welcomed the judgement and said there had to be consequences for minsters who did not comply with the law.
Most of Denmark's six impeachments have ended in acquittal. However, in 1995 ex-Justice Minister Erik Ninn-Hansen was handed a four-month suspended sentence for blocking refugees from Sri Lanka bringing their families to Denmark.
Impeachments trials in Denmark can result in fines and prison sentences if a guilty verdict is rendered, unlike those in the US, which are political.
More on this story
Risk of DUAL infection from Omicron and Delta could create a new super-mutant variant | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 15:37
Dr Paul Burton, Moderna's chief medical officer, warned of a new super-variant
A new super-variant could be created if Omicron and Delta infect someone at the same time, one of Moderna's bosses has warned.
Covid infections normally only involve one mutant strain, but in extremely rare cases two can strike at the same time.
If these also infect the same cell, they may be able to swap DNA and combine to make a new version of the virus.
Dr Paul Burton, the vaccine maker's chief medical officer, warned the high numbers of Delta and Omicron cases currently circulating in Britain made this more likely.
He told MPs on the Science and Technology Committee that it was 'certainly' possible they could swap genes and trigger an even more dangerous variant.
Researchers have warned that these events, scientifically called 'recombination events', are possible but they require very specific conditions and the coincidence of mostly uncontrollable events.
Only three Covid strains created by viruses swapping genes have ever been recorded, with the virus instead mostly relying on random mutations to make more variants.
A new variant was not triggered over the two months when the Delta strain was outcompeting Alpha through this method.
Omicron is already dominant in London just two weeks after being spotted in the country, and experts estimate it will be the main strain by the New Year.
Dr Burton told the Commons that having the two variants circulating together raised the risk of them swapping genes and making a new variant.
He said: 'There's certainly data, there have been some papers published again from South Africa earlier from the pandemic when people '-- and certainly immunocompromised people '-- can harbour both viruses.
'That would be possible here, particularly given the number of infections that we were seeing.'
HOW CAN VIRUSES COMBINE? For a combined variant of the virus to emerge, one person must be infected with two strains of the coronavirus '' likely from two separate sources '' at the same time, and then the viruses must bump into each other inside the body.
Once the viruses are inside the body, the way they spread is by forcing human cells to make more of them.
The coronavirus is made up of genetic material called RNA and, to reproduce, it must force the body to read this RNA and make exact copies of it.
There are inevitably errors when this happens because it happens so fast and so often and natural processes are imperfect.
If two viruses are in the same place at once, both being duplicated by the same cells, there is a chance the RNA genes could be mixed up, just as there could be a mix-up if someone dropped two packs of cards at once and picked them all up.
Most places have dominant variants of the virus so someone getting infected with two is unlikely to begin with.
And, for healthy people, there is likely only a window of around two weeks before the body starts to develop immunity and successfully clear out the first version of the virus.
This risk window could be cut to days for the majority of people who develop Covid symptoms '' which takes an average of five days '' and then stay at home sick.
But huge, poorly controlled outbreaks like the ones in the UK and US over the winter, significantly raise the risk of the combination events simply because the number of infections is higher.
Asked whether this may lead to a more dangerous variant, he said it 'certainly could'.
Most places have dominant variants so getting infected with two strains at the same time is unlikely.
And, for healthy people, there is thought to only be a window of around two weeks from one infection being triggered before the body starts to develop immunity and successfully clears out the first version.
However, huge and uncontrolled outbreaks like the ones in the UK and US last winter do raise the risk of recombination events simply because the number of infections is higher.
Britain currently has 4,713 Omicron cases confirmed to date, and the variant is behind about one in five cases nationally.
Scientists have told MailOnline that it is possible for two versions of the virus to swap genes, but that it is not likely to happen.
There have been three variants triggered by two others merging recorded to date.
But none have led to a large outbreak, or a more dangerous version of the virus emerging.
In one case a recombination event occurred in the UK when the Alpha variant merged with B.1.177, which first emerged in Spain, in late January.
It led to 44 cases before eventually disappearing.
Scientists in California said they had identified another recombination variant in early February, with the Kent strain merging with B.1.429 which was first spotted in the area.
This new strain also led to very few cases, and quickly disappeared.
Covid mostly relies on random mutations to develop new variants.
These happen when the virus makes copies of itself, and errors appear in its genes.
In most cases these changes are harmless, but occasionally they can trigger an advantage such as being more transmissible or better able to evade vaccines.
It is thought that the Omicron variant emerged in a lingering infection in an immunocompromised person. This allowed the virus to mutate several times to train itself to be better at infecting humans and evading previous immunity.
Where I Live, No One Cares About COVID - The Atlantic
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 15:04
Outside the world inhabited by the professional classes in a handful of major metropolitan areas, many Americans are leading their lives as if COVID is over.
Emily Elconin / Bloomberg / Getty About the author: Matthew Walther is editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal, and a contributing editor at the American Conservative.
In November, my wife asked me whether I had seen an article with the remarkable headline ''Is It Safe to Go to Thanksgiving Dinner?''
''Is that from last year?'' I asked.
''No, it's a few days old,'' she said, her voice sinking to a growling murmur. ''These people.''
I am old enough to remember the good old days when holiday-advice pieces were all variations on ''How to Talk to Your Tea Party Uncle About Obamacare.'' As Christmas approaches, we can look forward to more of this sort of thing, with the meta-ethical speculation advanced to an impossibly baroque stage of development. Is it okay for our 2-year-old son to hug Grandma at a Christmas party if she received her booster only a few days ago? Should the toddler wear a mask except when he is slopping mashed potatoes all over his booster seat? Our oldest finally attended her first (masked) sleepover with other fully vaccinated 10-year-olds, but one of them had a sibling test positive at day care. Should she stay home or wear a face shield? What about Omicron?
I don't know how to put this in a way that will not make me sound flippant: No one cares. Literally speaking, I know that isn't true, because if it were, the articles wouldn't be commissioned. But outside the world inhabited by the professional and managerial classes in a handful of major metropolitan areas, many, if not most, Americans are leading their lives as if COVID is over, and they have been for a long while.
In my part of rural southwest Michigan, and in similar communities throughout the country, this is true not despite but without any noticeable regard for cases; hospitalization statistics, which are always high this time of year without attracting much notice; or death reports. I don't mean to deny COVID's continuing presence. (For the purposes of this piece, I looked up the COVID data for my county and found that the seven-day average for positive tests is as high as it has ever been, and that 136 deaths have been attributed to the virus since June 2020.) What I wish to convey is that the virus simply does not factor into my calculations or those of my neighbors, who have been forgoing masks, tests (unless work imposes them, in which case they are shrugged off as the usual BS from human resources), and other tangible markers of COVID-19's existence for months'--perhaps even longer.
Read: Rural America's false sense of security
Indeed, in my case, when I say for a long while, I mean for nearly two years, from almost the very beginning. In 2020, I took part in two weddings, traveled extensively, took family vacations with my children, spent hundreds of hours in bars and restaurants, all without wearing a mask. This year my wife and I welcomed our fourth child. Over the course of her pregnancy, from the first phone call to the midwife a few months after getting a positive pregnancy test until after delivery, the subject of the virus was never raised by any health-care professional, including her doula, a dear friend from New York.
Meanwhile, our children, who have continued to attend their weekly homeschooling co-op since April 2020, have never donned masks, and they are distinctly uncomfortable on the rare occasions when they see them, for reasons that, until recently, child psychologists and other medical experts would have freely acknowledged. They have continued seeing friends and family, including their great-grandparents, on a weekly basis. As far as I can tell, they are dimly aware that ''germs'' are a remote cause of concern, but only our oldest, who is 6, has any recollection of the brief period last year when public Masses were suspended in our diocese and we spent Sunday mornings praying the rosary at home.
The CDC recommends that all adults get a booster shot; I do not know a single person who has received one. When I read headlines like ''Here's Who May Need a Fourth COVID-19 Vaccine Dose,'' I find myself genuinely reeling. Wait, there are four of them now? I would be lying if I said I knew what all the variants were or what differences exist between them. (They all sound like the latest entry in some down-market action franchise: Tom Clancy's Delta Variant: A Jack Ryan Novel, Transformers 4: Rise of the Omicron.) COVID is invisible to me except when I am reading the news, in which case it strikes me with all the force of reports about distant coups in Myanmar.
Granted, my family's experience of 2020 was somewhat unusual. But I wager that I am now closer to most of my fellow Americans than the people, almost absurdly overrepresented in media and elite institutions, who are still genuinely concerned about this virus. And in some senses my situation has always been more in line with the typical American's pandemic experience than that of someone in New York or Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles.
The best example of this fact, apart from the agita about holiday travel, is outdoor masking. Prescinding from the question of whether there was ever any meaningful evidence in favor of outdoor transmission, let me point out that until I found myself in Washington, D.C., on a work trip in March, I had never seen anyone wearing a mask outside. For someone who had never worn one in any situation, it was bizarre to find thousands of people indifferently donning these garments outdoors, including those walking alone or in pairs at night after leaving bars or restaurants where they had presumably taken them off. It was even stranger seeing people recognize one another in the street and pull their masks down casually, sometimes but not always before stopping to engage in conversation, like Edwardian gentlemen doffing their top hats.
Conor Friedersdorf: America's blue and red tribes aren't so far apart
I came away from this experience with the impression that, whatever their value, masks long ago transcended public health and became a symbol, not unlike In This House We Believe signs or MAGA hats. This, no doubt, is why in my part of America, the only people one ever sees with masks are brooding teenagers seated alone in coffee shops, who seem to have adopted masks to set themselves apart from the reactionary banality of life in flyover country in the same way that I once scribbled anti-Bush slogans on T-shirts. The survival of such old-fashioned adolescent angst is, at any rate, deeply heartening.
As far as my wife and I are concerned, an atmosphere of parochialism hangs upon relentless adherence to CDC directives. By European standards, hand-wringing about masks in schools is as silly and absurdly risk-averse as the American medical establishment's insistence that pregnant women not drink coffee or wine. Indeed, there is something small-minded and puritanical and distinctly American about the whole business of obsessing over whether vaccinated teachers remove their face covering during a long school day. (When I read such things, I experience the same secondhand embarrassment I felt upon witnessing an American tourist in Rome ask a waiter at a trattoria to remove the ashtray from the outdoor table at which the employee in question had just been smoking.)
I am always tempted to ask the people who breathlessly quote what various public-health authorities are now saying about masking and boosters whether they know how the National Institutes of Health defines a ''problem drinker''? The answer is a woman who has more than one ''unit'' of alcohol a day, i.e., my wife and nearly all of my female friends. These same authorities, if asked, would probably say that considerable risks are associated with eating crudos or kibbeh nayyeh, or taking Tylenol after a hangover. (This is to say nothing of cannabis, which is of course still banned at the federal level.) My point is that sophisticated adults are generally capable of winking at overly stringent guidelines. In the case of COVID, many are not.
I wish I could convince myself that for once in my life with COVID we were actually experiencing a healthy break from the usual pattern, according to which the latest silly novelties'--no-fault divorce, factory-sliced bread, frozen meals, and, of course, infant formula'--are adopted enthusiastically by the upper middle classes, who then think better of them by the time the lower orders come around.
But I am afraid that the future, at least in major metropolitan areas, is one in which sooner or later elites will acknowledge their folly while continuing to impose it on others. I, for one, would not be surprised if for years to come it were the expectation in New York and California that even vaccinated workers in the service industry wear masks, the ultimate reification of status in a world in which casual dress has otherwise erased many of what were once our most visible markers of class.
After all, you never know how they spent their Thanksgiving.
Two major real estate search engines nix crime data in racial equity push
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 14:56
Aerial view of residential houses at autumn (october). American neighborhood, suburb. Real estate, drone shots, sunset, sunny morning, sunlight, from above AlenaMozhjer/Getty Images/iStockphoto
R has removed crime data from its website, and Redfin has decided not to add it out of concerns that it could perpetuate racial inequity.
David Doctorow, the CEO of, said in a company update this week that the crime map layer has been removed from all search results on the website ''to rethink the safety information we share on and how we can best integrate it as part of a consumer's home search experience.''
Doctorow said the removal was part of a company effort to ''level the playing field'' and scrutinize what safety means to buyers and renters so that it can ''reimagine how we integrate safety data'' on the platform. has been collaborating with fair housing advocates as part of the initiative.
''At this time of complexity in real estate, our team has been energized by our purpose to simplify real estate choices, especially for first-time homebuyers,'' he wrote. ''Yet we keep bumping up against one very old and persistent problem: the ability to afford and own a home can be unjustly limited by one's race, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics.''
''As a relative newcomer to the real estate industry, I've been struck by how entrenched this problem is,'' he continued. ''Stories abound about Black, Hispanic and Asian homebuyers receiving unequal treatment, starting with their ability to see whatever homes they like, and continuing through to the appraisal and mortgage processes.''
On the same day that announced that it was removing its crime data, Redfin came out with a full-throated denunciation of crime data being included on real estate websites. Redfin's chief growth officer Christian Taubman announced that, after consideration, the company would not be adding crime data to its own platform.
Taubman said that Redfin had been weighing whether to add information about crime because one of the metrics that consumers consider when looking for a home to purchase is how safe the area around that home is. The company concluded that available crime data doesn't accurately answer that question, and ''given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States there's too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias.''
Redfin highlighted the difference between crime and safety and said that through its research, which included surveys, people defined safety in a variety of ways. Taubman said that the available data, namely the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI, pertains to reported crimes and excludes information about crimes that go unreported and crimes that go unsolved. He said that data at a neighborhood level could lead to high inaccuracy.
''The fact that most crimes are missing creates a real possibility that the crimes that show up in the data set skew one way or another,'' Taubman wrote. ''And the fact that most reported crimes go unsolved means that some of the crimes being reported in fact may not be crimes.''
In addition to the FBI's metrics, Redfin also considered the National Crime Victimization Survey, which relies on interviews from tens of thousands of people annually and queries them about the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization across the country. Those who say they are victims of crime are also asked whether the crime was reported to law enforcement.
Taubman said that while the survey includes information on unreported crimes, because it is a survey, if respondents' responses are racially biased, that bias would be reflected in the crime data.
''And there are troubling signs of this: in the 2019 survey, people reporting crimes were more likely to describe their offender as young, male, and Black than would be expected given the representation of those groups in the population,'' he said.
The announcements by the two real estate search companies come amid other diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in businesses across a wide spectrum of industries. Executives at major companies have been championing environmental, social, and political causes.
While some have praised the increasing tendency of companies to wade into the realm of public policy and social issues, others, particularly those who adhere to the primacy of shareholder capitalism versus stakeholder capitalism, say that it should be pared back.
Chinese government deploying online influencers amid Beijing Olympics boycotts ' OpenSecrets
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 14:54
(Photo by NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images) The Chinese government hired a firm to recruit social media influencers as part of a new digital operation amid controversies surrounding diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, OpenSecrets' review of Foreign Agents Registration Act Records found.
The influence operation is being coordinated by Vippi Media, a consulting firm based in New Jersey, as part of a $300,000 contract that spans through March 2022. China's Consulate General in New York paid $210,000 in advance on Nov. 23.
As part of the online influence campaign to promote the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and the 2022 Paralympics, the Chinese government is paying the firm to recruit influencers who are ''to be activated to drive viewership, mass awareness and premium content'' for China.
Most of the influencers' posts are expected to focus on ''Beijing & China elements,'' including ''Beijing's history, cultural relics, modern life of people, new trends,'' Chinese athletes' preparations and ''touching moments.''
At least 20% of the posts are supposed to focus on ''cooperation and any good things in China-US relations.'' This content is expected to highlight ''cooperation'' on issues like ''climate change, biodiversity, new energy'' and ''positive outcomes.''
Promoting news and trends from the consulate are expected to make up just 10% of the deliverables, meaning most of the content is coming directly from social influencers enlisted by the firm.
This is just the latest influence operation from China's government and its state-run media entities, whose foreign agents have disclosed more than $170 million in spending on propaganda and lobbying in the U.S. since 2016. Chinese foreign agents reported around $60 million in spending on propaganda targeting the U.S. in 2020 alone '-- and that is only the spending that has been reported under FARA.
The new $300,000 contract is far less than China spends on China Daily or CCTV, but it demonstrates how online influencers can have a wide reach without the high costs of physical newspaper production or television programming.
While China Daily's entire international print readership is estimated to be around 900,000, a single ''celebrity'' influencer targeted as part of the Chinese government's new campaign would have more than 2 million Instagram followers or 2.5 million TikTok followers.
The FARA registration records lay out five tiers of social media influencers recruited to provide services. They range from ''celebrity'' influencers with aforementioned Instagram and TikTok followings to ''nano'' influencers with less than 10,000 followers on either platform.
In addition to Instagram and TikTok, the campaign will also recruit influencers on Twitch, and will measure success on the interactive live streaming platform through viewership, impressions and live chat engagement.
The new online influence operation comes amid international backlash against China over an array of alleged human rights abuses that led the White House to announce on Dec. 6 that President Joe Biden's administration ''will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.'' The administration cited alleged abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and democratic crackdowns in Hong Kong. However, the U.S. boycott does not extend to U.S. athletes and won't prevent them from participating in the 2022 Olympics.
The United Kingdom, Australia and Canada also announced they are keeping official representatives from traveling to Beijing.
The new influence operation launches shortly after China's censorship and propaganda campaigns attempted to change the narrative around the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
Peng disappeared after she accused a Chinese Communist Party official of sexual misconduct on a Nov. 2 Weibo post, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter.
Peng has not been seen outside of a Chinese government video of a tennis match released on Nov. 21, and a videoconference between her and various sports officials the same day. After human rights activists and sports officials around the world continued to question Chinese authorities about Peng, the Women's Tennis Association halted tournaments in China.
Chinese state-owned media outlet CGTN TV highlighted some programming related to the Olympics as a part of a U.S. influence operation. More recent informational materials promoted state-media content about ''deep social inequities dividing American society.''
The state-owned media outlet's November informational materials also highlighted other sporting events in attempts to show a close relationship between China and the U.S. The materials promoted how Chinese table tennis players will ''join forces'' with U.S. players for mixed doubles exhibition during the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships in Houston. The informational materials also promoted an event at the championships hosted by the China and U.S. table tennis associations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ''Ping Pong diplomacy'' '-- a series of table tennis matches between an American and Chinese player that has led the game to be described as the ''perfect instrument of Communist propaganda.''
As China's government publicly promoted the World Table Tennis Championships in the U.S., Chinese authorities quietly limited online conversations around topics as broad as ''tennis'' in part of an operation to censor several hundred keywords to quash conversation about Peng, according to a recent joint investigation from ProPublica and the New York Times.
China previously censored the #MeToo hashtag on social media and recently detained journalist Sophia Huang Xueqin, who has been involved in China's #MeToo movement, on a charge of ''inciting subversion of state power.''
Attempts to shift the narrative around Peng's claims and disappearance are not China's only recent online influence operation to stir public controversy.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced on Dec. 1 that it had removed hundreds of accounts linked to influence operations that originated in China.
The influence operations reportedly spread disproven information about COVID-19 and claimed the U.S. pressured the World Health Organization to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on China. Multiple Chinese state media, including the CGTN and People's Daily, featured the posts in stories with headlines like ''Claim emerges of 'intimidation' from the U.S.''
The Beijing Olympics are not the only major international sports event to face pushback related to alleged human rights abuses by host countries.
Last weekend, Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton announced that he does not feel comfortable racing in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Hamilton said he feels ''duty bound'' to raise awareness about issues after human rights groups accused F1 of ''sportswashing'' alleged abuses in the Middle Eastern countries hosting races.
'‹'‹Hamilton emerged as an outspoken critic of holding the Grand Prix in countries with records of alleged human rights efforts, including Qatar and Bahrain, following advocacy efforts from human rights groups. He still participated in each of the races.
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About The Author Anna is OpenSecrets' investigative researcher. She researches foreign influence as part of the Foreign Lobby Watch Project, tracks political ad data, and investigates "dark money." She holds degrees in political science and psychology from North Carolina State University and a J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia School of Law.
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Kronos ransomware attack: Will paychecks be affected? What we know
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 14:41
Kronos services could be out for several weeks.The company suggests using alternatives until it's fixed.Most companies will rely on a manual process for tracking timesheets in the meantime, experts say.A ransomware attack striking one of the largest human resources companies could impact how employees get paid, clock in for work and track paid time off.
HR management company Ultimate Kronos Group confirmed a ransomware attack impacted several services companies use to manage their employees and payrolls.
The attack, which UKG discovered on Saturday, affects the Kronos Private Cloud, which includes UKG Workforce Central, UKG TeleStaff, Healthcare Extensions, and Banking Scheduling Solutions, said the company.
"We are working with leading cyber security experts to assess and resolve the situation, and have notified the authorities," said Bob Hughes, executive vice president for UKG, in a post on the company's website. "The investigation remains ongoing, as we work to determine the nature and scope of the incident."
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Here's everything we know so far:
How long before it's fixed?UKG said all products linked to the Kronos Private Cloud are unavailable, and it could take up to several weeks before service is restored.
The company advises customers consider "alternative business continuity protocols" related to any Kronos services they used.
In a new statement Tuesday, UKG said any timeclocks used by companies still record and store when employees work offline until connectivity returns.
What is log4j? And is this connected?Log4j is a popular logging package for Java software, used in games like "Minecraft" and banking and financial applications, says Jon Clay, vice president of threat intelligence at Trend Micro.
A critical vulnerability was discovered in the software, and according to internet security firm Trend Micro, this flaw has already been exploited. The flaw is considered so serious because the affected software is used in a wide range of devices that use Java software.
"Organizations and consumers should immediately patch any applications or systems affected by this bug," said Clay.
Companies including Google, IBM and Amazon have been scrambling to address the vulnerability.
So, is this vulnerability related to what happened with Kronos? UKG said there's no indication of a link.
"We are investigating whether or not there is any relationship between the security incident described above and the Log4j vulnerability," said UKG in its latest update.
How are affected companies responding?UKG boasts several notable clients, including Tesla, Puma, the YMCA and several universities and hospitals.
In a statement Monday, the University of Utah said it has established a task force to determine how the ransomware attack may have impacted their systems.
"Paychecks will be distributed on schedule, although there may be adjustments at a later date to reflect corrections as needed," said the university.
The City of Cleveland said its employees will still receive pay without interruption despite the attack, according to local reports.
In a statement Monday, Springfield, Massachusetts., one of Kronos' customers, said the recording of city workers' schedules and hours could be disrupted by the attack.
"The City of Springfield would like to reassure all city employees that contingency plans for recording employee schedules and hours will be implemented to mitigate the potential adverse effects this incident might cause and to make sure that employees will continue to receive their regular scheduled pay," said the city in a statement.
What should I do if I'm affectedIf you're an employee working for a company using Kronos systems, it's likely a representative from payroll or human resources has already contacted you, said Amber Clayton, director of the Knowledge Center at the Society for Human Resource Management.
If not, employees should reach out to someone in HR or payroll to determine next steps.
Most companies will rely on a manual process for tracking timesheets or pay in the event a system goes down, Clayton said.
"Some employers may require them to do that or ask them to write down their own hours," Clayton said. "If not, it's always a good idea still to go ahead and do that for yourself so that you know what you've worked and how many overtime hours, things of that nature, then that way you can compare it to what the employer has and make sure that you're paid appropriately."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.
Rolling blackouts possible this winter, regional grid warns
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 14:34
Local New England is trying to shift to greener energy alternatives but that transition is going to take time. Central Maine Power utility lines are seen, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Pownal, Maine. Rolling blackouts may hit New England if there's an extended cold snap this winter. The CEO of power grid operator ISO New England said the situation is "precarious" because natural gas is in shorter-than-normal supply and also subject to supply chain disruptions. AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, FileBy The Associated Press, Associated Press
December 11, 2021AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) '-- Rolling blackouts may hit New England if there's an extended cold snap this winter, as the regional power grid operator warns of a ''precarious'' situation due to snags in the natural gas supply.
Much of the grid's power comes from burning natural gas, and right now that fuel is in shorter-than-normal supply and is subject to supply chain disruptions, said Gordon van Welie, CEO of ISO New England.
The region's grid is often near the limit during winter months, but severe weather combined with high natural gas prices and pipeline constraints could push the grid past the tipping point and prompt mandatory usage restrictions.
''We're depending on an energy supply chain in the region that is quite fragile, particularly during the wintertime,'' van Welie said this week.
Marc Brown, New England director for Consumer Energy Alliance, said people should be concerned. Natural gas prices remain about 50% higher than a year ago despite a drop in recent weeks.
''We need to be worried. We've seen it in other places, like California, with controlled power outages,'' he said.
Natural gas supplies are already having an impact. In Maine, electricity bills are going up $30 per month on average for residents who adopt the ''standard offer'' rate starting Jan. 1. High natural gas prices are being blamed for the increase.
New England is trying to shift to greener energy alternatives but that transition is going to take time.
Van Welie noted that the Massachusetts-funded New England Clean Energy Connect in Maine, which aims to bring up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the grid, could help.
With that project stalled, following a rebuke by Mainers in a statewide referendum, it'll take more time to find additional electrical supply in coming years through wind, solar and other projects.
Overall, the power grid operator is anticipating a relatively mild winter based on long-term forecasts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But extended cold snaps can happen any winter and the failure of the Texas grid last winter helped to put things into perspective, van Welie said.
''I think that what Texas drove home for me is that with almost 15 million people living in this region need to understand is that we are in a precarious position particularly when we get into cold weather,'' he said.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission said the power grid operator has been sounding the alarm about the state's reliance on natural gas.
The problem happens in extremely cold weather, as demand from homeowners using gas for heat clashes with demand by power plant operators who need it to power the grid, officials said.
Furthermore, natural gas prices are higher right now in Europe and Asia, so suppliers have incentive to sell to those markets.
''Although it's not uncommon for ISO-NE to suggest there may be a need to reduce consumption during peak periods, market conditions this year have perhaps contributed to a heightened concern,'' said Susan Faloon, spokesperson for the Maine PUC.
The Fed Meeting Could Be D-Day for Bitcoin and Other Cryptos | Barron's
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 09:10
The more speculative assets took a beating Monday ahead of a flurry of central bank meetings, as markets began to consider a world of tighter monetary policy.
Bitcoin was included in that, falling below $47,000'--more than 30% off its all-time high reached just last month. Retail favorite GameStop slumped 14% and fellow Reddit star AMC Entertainment Holdings plunged 15%. Both those stocks were set for more losses early Tuesday, while Bitcoin stabilized.
The more speculative assets took a beating Monday ahead of a flurry of central bank meetings, as markets began to consider a world of tighter monetary policy.
Bitcoin was included in that, falling below $47,000'--more than 30% off its all-time high reached just last month. Retail favorite GameStop slumped 14% and fellow Reddit star AMC Entertainment Holdings plunged 15%. Both those stocks were set for more losses early Tuesday, while Bitcoin stabilized.
When it comes to cryptocurrency performance during a tightening cycle, there isn't much recent history to go on. The last time the Federal Reserve embarked on a path of tightening monetary policy, following a period of easing, in 2015, the price of Bitcoin was $465, or about a hundredth of its current price.
Bitcoin hasn't acted as digital gold of late, most recently as the asset fell sharply in tandem with stocks after Thanksgiving, as the Omicron coronavirus variant spooked markets and Jerome Powell turned hawkish.
The asset doesn't seem to be a haven for investors in times of risk-off trading, if that is what is to come if the Fed turns more hawkish. In turn, if there is a correlation and global central banks are less hawkish than expected this week, Bitcoin could get a bounce.
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Bitcoin's place within financial markets has still not been truly defined, but how it reacts in the coming days is likely to tell us much more.
Yet, looking for correlations and trends in cryptocurrencies can quickly become a thankless task. Dogecoin surging 20% Tuesday as Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company will allow some merchandise to be bought using the asset, is a case in point. Volatility is the only real certainty for now.
'--Callum Keown
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*** Join Reshma Kapadia, associate editor at Barron's, and David Blanchett, head of retirement research at PGIM DC Solutions, today at noon to discuss why the 4% rule may not be good for retirees looking to tap their nest eggs and what may be a better strategy to make the most of their savings. Sign up here.
***Supreme Court Won't Block N.Y. Healthcare Vaccine MandateThe Supreme Court rejected a request by 20 healthcare workers seeking a religious exemption to New York state's Covid-19 vaccine mandate. The decision comes as some hospital groups, including HCA Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare , drop mandates for employees, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In Philadelphia, people must prove vaccination or a negative Covid test to dine inside restaurants, visit bars, and attend indoor sporting events starting Jan. 3. New York state's indoor mask mandate for public indoor spaces that don't require vaccination proof began Monday. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's This Week that it's ''tough to tell'' if more boosters will be recommended, adding he hopes third shots of the Moderna and Pfizer - BioNTech vaccines and second shots of Johnson & Johnson 's vaccine provide greater ''durability of protection.'' Total confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases have surpassed 50 million, including more than 796,000 deaths, the New York Times reported. The average number of new cases is about 119,000 a day, per Johns Hopkins University. At least 34 states are reporting higher weekly averages for new Covid-19 cases than they did before Thanksgiving. U.S. cases and hospitalizations peaked shortly after Christmas 2020, with more than 250,000 daily cases and nearly 26,000 deaths in one week. What's Next: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first Omicron-related death. Officials expect the Omicron variant will overtake the Delta variant ''within days, not weeks,'' and said at its current rate of infection, it could spread to more than one million cases by the end of the month.
'--Janet H. Cho
***Apple Poised to Become First $3 Trillion Company Advertisement - Scroll to Continue
Apple could become the first company to reach a
market value of $3 trillion, moving toward that threshold as an estimated 300 million people are expected to upgrade their iPhones to newer models and 1.4 billion non-Apple customers look to switch.
JPMorgan raised its 2022 price target for Apple shares to $210, up from $180. Analyst Samik Chatterjee named Apple his top pick for 2022, saying its services revenue and iPhone 13 upgrades will fuel further growth. Although iPhone 13 sales are strong, Chatterjee estimates that more revenue and earnings growth are still ahead. Apple shares fell 2.1% on Monday, but are up 32% this year, beating the S&P 500's 24% gain. Apple's release of the $399 5G iPhone SE could attract Android owners looking for a 5G phone. Chatterjee said Apple could sell around 30 million iPhone SE models next year, generating about $10 billion in revenue. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives expects Apple to sell more than 40 million iPhones this holiday season despite a global chip shortage. Because 250 million of 975 million iPhones worldwide have not been upgraded in recent years, they are more likely to trade up for the iPhone 12 or 13. What's Next: Apple's augmented-reality headset, expected to be introduced in 2022, could add $20 a share to Apple's stock value, a ''massive market opportunity'' for the broader metaverse, Ives wrote.
'--Janet H. Cho
***MGM Resorts to Sell Mirage Hotel to Hard Rock Advertisement - Scroll to Continue
MGM Resorts International has
agreed to sell MGM said it expects to net $815 million after taxes and fees from the sale, which is expected to close in the second half of 2022. Under the terms of the deal, MGM Resorts will retain the Mirage name and brand and license it to Hard Rock royalty-free for three years. MGM said back in November that it was putting the Mirage in Las Vegas up for sale. The company at the time didn't disclose any potential buyers. The company has been moving into other areas such as sports betting as part of its ''asset-light'' strategy. MGM Resorts shares were rising slightly in premarket trading Tuesday to $40.50. The stock has gained 28% this year. What's Next: Hard Rock said it plans to build a guitar-shaped hotel on the site. The property will be renamed Hard Rock Las Vegas.
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'--Joe Woelfel
***Meme Stocks AMC, GameStop Tumbled After Bad NewsShares of meme-stock favorites AMC Entertainment Holdings and GameStop both tumbled on Monday, a possible blow to retail investors who plowed a net $32.5 million and $4.2 million into them last week, respectively, according to Vanda Research.
AMC shares fell 15%, to its lowest close since May, while GameStop shares fell 14% to its lowest close since March. Both have been under pressure over the past month, falling more than 30% for the period. AMC's CEO and chief financial officer recently sold a combined $10.2 million of stock, adding to the pressure. The Omicron variant has revived fears that new lockdowns could keep moviegoers away from theaters. GameStop reported widening losses but higher-than-expected sales for the third quarter, trying to transition to selling digital downloads as it improves its customer service. Management didn't offer financial targets and wouldn't answer analysts' questions. Earlier this year, the two stocks became the favorites of a group of retail investors who goaded each other on Reddit, forcing a short-squeeze in several stocks. Even now, AMC's shares are 10 times higher than at the end of 2020, and GameStop's shares are nearly seven times higher. What's Next: Those investors on the Reddit social media platform said they were cheering the recent declines in price for AMC, GameStop and other meme stocks, buying up more shares after they dropped.
'--Janet H. Cho
***Red-Hot IPO Rivian Nearing First Earnings as Public CompanyElectric-truck maker Rivian is getting ready to report its first earnings as a publicly traded company on Thursday, after a splashy initial public offering in November that saw its market value soar above $100 billion to surpass that of Ford and General Motors .
Rivian has caught the attention of investors though it only began deliveries of its R1T vehicle in the quarter ended in September. On Monday, the R1T was named Motor Trend's Truck of the Year for 2022. Rivian's niche is a potentially lucrative trucking segment of the marketplace. About 20% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. each year are pickup trucks. Another 50% are SUVs. Rivian's second product, after its R1T truck, is an SUV. Rivian and Ford said in November they would no longer jointly develop electric vehicles, though Ford is still a Rivian investor, with 100 million shares. , another investor, has an order for 100,000 Rivian electric delivery trucks. Tesla is a potential rival for Rivian. CEO Elon Musk, who is also CEO of the private space company SpaceX, was named Time Magazine's ''Person of the Year'' on Monday in part for his role in disrupting the electric-vehicle industry. What's Next: Rivian isn't expected to be profitable next year or the year after, but Wedbush estimates $3.5 billion in sales, or about 45,000 vehicles, next year and $8.4 billion of sales in 2023.
'--Liz Moyer
***Terminix Stock Soars on $6.7 Billion Pest-Control DealU.K. pest-control services provider Rentokil Initial said Tuesday that it would acquire U.S.-based rival Terminix Global Holdings in a $6.7 billion deal that will boost its expertise in termite and residential services.
The deal values Terminix at $55 per share, a 47% premium to Monday's close. Terminix's shareholders will own 26% of the enlarged group. Rentokil shares fell 4% on news of the deal Tuesday, with Terminix up 26% in premarket trading. The U.K. company said it expects the deal to generate cost savings of at least $150 million by the third year if the deal closes as expected in the second half of 2022. What's Next: The London-listed company said it would list the American depositary receipts on the New York Stock Exchange.
'--Pierre Brian§on
***Be sure to join this month's Barron's Daily virtual stock exchange challenge and show us your stuff.
Each month, we'll start a new challenge and invite newsletter readers'--you!'--to build a portfolio using virtual money and compete against the Barron's and MarketWatch community.
Everyone will start with the same amount and can trade as often or as little as they choose. We'll track the leaders and, at the end of the challenge, the winner whose portfolio has the most value will be announced in The Barron's Daily newsletter.
Are you ready to compete? Join the challenge and pick your stocks here.
'--Newsletter edited by Liz Moyer, Camilla Imperiali, Steve Goldstein, Rupert Steiner
Viva Frei on Twitter: "I'm old enough to remember thalidomide. But saying that makes me a conspiracy theorist." / Twitter
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 03:22
Viva Frei : I'm old enough to remember thalidomide. But saying that makes me a conspiracy theorist.
Wed Dec 15 02:38:41 +0000 2021
Superior Plus Hit by Ransomware Attack - MarketWatch
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 21:20
By Adriano Marchese
Covid: PCR tests now unavailable in some areas a day after lateral flows run out | The Independent
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 20:49
PCR tests were unavailable in some areas of the country on Tuesday morning, according to the government website.
The low supply comes just a day after the UK Health Security Agency said that they were unable to deliver home lateral flow tests. The health body said that ''high demand for PCR test appointments'' was causing the patchy availability.
At around 11:20am on Tuesday morning, the government website was showing PCR tests as ''not available'' in every region of the UK. By 12pm this had changed to a more scattered supply with some areas back to ''available'' and others still lacking PCR tests.
Affected areas included Berkshire, the Isle of Wight, Middlesex and Bristol where no PCR tests were available. In London, West Sussex, Surrey and Bedfordshire there were only ''very few available''.
The website lists different regions of the UK to show the availability of supply in test sites in each area. By 12:30pm most regions were showing PCR tests ''available'' but some places, such as Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Mendip, were still showing they had no supply.
The site was showing that home tests for the general public and essential workers were still available.
The UK Health Security Agency said: ''There has been high demand for PCR test appointments leading to temporary reduced availability in some areas.
''More appointments are made available each afternoon & PCR tests are available to order for home delivery.''
Downing Street insisted that there was significant testing capacity despite suggestions of difficulties finding PCR tests.
The prime minister's official spokesperson said: ''In terms of PCR availability, I don't have the latest but I would envisage further booking possibilities will come online later and, of course, there are in-person opportunities as well.''
The UK Health Security Agency addressed concerns about the supply of lateral flow tests on Monday, saying that ''due to exceptionally high demand, ordering lateral flow tests on has been temporarily suspended to fulfil existing orders.''
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday morning that the problem with the rapid antigen tests wasn't supply and volume but ''allocation and distribution, or the delivery, of it.''
He added: ''We know that in relation to the online system there were some challenges yesterday and that's partly because of the proportion they've got each day.''
Downing Street said that ministers were working with Royal Mail and Amazon to ensure more lateral flow tests can be delivered.
The prime minister's official spokesperson said: ''We are increasing the capacity, Royal Mail are freeing up additional delivery slots to become available in the next few days and we're working with a range of businesses including Amazon to further expand capacity.''
He said 2.6 million lateral flows were dispatched between 8pm on Saturday and 8pm on Sunday, compared to 584,000 on November 13.
The UKHSA has been approached for comment.
BOMBSHELL: In court filing, Facebook admits 'fact checks' are nothing more than opinion '' Watts Up With That?
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 16:29
Facebook has admitted in a court of law that such fact checks are not factual at all, but merely opinions.People send me stuff.
As we have previously reported, journalist John Stossel is suing Facebook after Facebook's 'fact checkers' labeled climate change information that Stossel posted as ''false and misleading''. In the middle of all this is the nefarious website ''Climate Feedback'' which has a bunch of climate zealots that write up what they claim are ''fact checks'' for articles, videos, and news stories they disagree with.
Facebook just blew the ''fact check'' claim right out of the water in court.
In its response to Stossel's defamation claim, Facebook responds on Page 2, Line 8 in the court document (download it below) that Facebook cannot be sued for defamation (which is making a false and harmful assertion) because its 'fact checks' are mere statements of opinion rather than factual assertions.Opinions are not subject to defamation claims, while false assertions of fact can be subject to defamation. The quote in Facebook's complaint is,
''The labels themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion.''
So, in a court of law, in a legal filing, Facebook admits that its 'fact checks' are not really 'fact' checks at all, but merely 'opinion assertions.'
This strikes me as public relations disaster, and possibly a looming legal disaster for Facebook, PolitiFact, Climate Feedback and other left-leaning entities that engage in biased ''fact checking.''Such ''fact checks'' are now shown to be simply an agenda to supress free speech and the open discussion of science by disguising liberal media activism as something supposedly factual, noble, neutral, trustworthy, and based on science.
It is none of those.
Here is the court filing:
4.8 130 votes
Article Rating
USPS built and secretly tested a mobile voting system before 2020 - The Washington Post
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 16:05
The U.S. Postal Service pursued a project to build and secretly test a blockchain-based mobile phone voting system before the 2020 election, experimenting with a technology that the government's own cybersecurity agency says can't be trusted to securely handle ballots.
The system was never deployed in a live election and was abandoned in 2019, Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said. That was after cybersecurity researchers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs conducted a test of the system during a mock election and found numerous ways that it was vulnerable to hacking.
The project appears to have been conducted without the involvement of federal agencies more closely focused on elections, which were then scrambling to make voting more secure in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 contest. Those efforts focused primarily on using paper ballot so the voter could verify their vote was recorded accurately and there would be a paper trail for auditors '-- something missing from any mobile phone or Internet-based system.
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The secrecy of the Postal Service's mobile voting project alarmed election security officials and advocates who fear it could spark conspiracy theories and degrade public faith in the democratic process. Those concerns have grown immensely since the 2020 election, bolstered by baseless claims of election fraud by former president Donald Trump and his supporters.
Matt Masterson, who was then a senior adviser to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the federal government's chief liaison to state and local election officials, said he was never aware of the Postal Service program while in office.
''If you're doing anything in the election space, transparency should be priority number one. There should be no guessing game around this,'' Masterson said.
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''It's scandalous for a government entity to conduct research into the security of blockchain online voting, which shows how insecure it is, but then hide the results and deprive the public and officials of these findings for over two years,'' said Susan Greenhalgh, senior adviser on election security for Free Speech for People, which advocates for election security and opposes mobile voting.
CISA declined to comment for this story.
A May 2020 assessment from federal agencies, including the FBI and CISA, found that mobile voting systems carried high risks to the ''confidentiality, integrity, and availability of voted ballots.''
The Postal Service plays no role in administering elections, but is responsible for managing ballots sent by mail, a category that has grown substantially during the past decade. The agency declined to share any long-range plans for the blockchain-based voting system. Such a system might reduce the burden of mail balloting, especially for military voters overseas. But it would also reduce a revenue boost the agency typically gets for election season mail.
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The Postal Service was awarded a public patent for the concept in August 2020, but had not previously revealed that it built a prototype system or tested it. The patent application predated the administration of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who came under fire from congressional Democrats and election administration experts over mail-slowing procedures implemented in the run-up to the November 2020 vote.
Former postmaster general Megan Brennan, who was in office when the mail agency began developing the mobile voting system, did not respond to a request for comment.
The Postal Service had discussed for years developing an electronic voting system with state and local voting officials, said Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser at the government watchdog group Democracy Fund and the former federal compliance officer at the Maricopa County, Ariz., elections department. Such a system might have lightened the burden for some military and overseas voters who cast ballots by mail in a system that's notoriously slow.
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But those discussions were theoretical, Patrick said, to help facilitate voting access for military and overseas voters, or for disabled individuals. Some states already allow some forms of electronic voting for such voters, though vanishingly few people are eligible to use them.
USPS spokesman Partenheimer said in an emailed statement that the agency's patent for the program was ''exploratory in nature and did not proceed to a production model.''
''Blockchain technology's potential to strengthen digital transaction security is a concept we have explored on our journey to better meet our customers' current and future needs, and to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds,'' Partenheimer said. ''But we don't have plans to advance this system.''
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The Postal Service system allowed people to cast votes on an Internet-connected mobile app similar to how they might add items to an online shopping cart or fill out an online survey. The votes were designed to be anonymous and to be recorded in multiple digital locations simultaneously. The idea is that each of those digital records would act as a check to verify the accuracy of the other records. This is essentially the same method that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin use to ensure transactions are accurately recorded.
But the system didn't protect against the numerous ways hackers might fake or corrupt votes, the University of Colorado researchers said. Those include impersonating voters, attacking the blockchain system itself so votes can't be trusted, flooding the system with information so it becomes too overwhelmed to function, and using techniques that undermine voters' privacy and the secrecy of the ballot. The researchers were able to successfully perform all those hacks during a mock election held on campus.
''Based on our research, this actually causes more problems than it solves,'' Shawn M. Emery, one of the researchers and a PhD candidate in cybersecurity, said. ''If three researchers can do this much damage, I can't imagine what a nation-state actor with millions of dollars in its budget could do in order to break this election system in multiple ways.''
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The Colorado researchers were made to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevented them from identifying the organization that built the prototype voting system, they said. In a paper describing the testing and presented at an academic conference, they said it was built by ''a U.S. government organization, that has requested to remain unnamed [and] plays an important role in national elections.''
Cybersecurity advocates and election officials have long warned that mobile or online voting is the least secure method of casting ballots because there's no physical record of the vote and no way for voters to verify their ballots were recorded accurately or for auditors to double-check them after the fact.
It would also be far easier for hackers to infect voters' phones or laptops with malicious software that alters such votes rather than to compromise election machines, which are supposed to be completely segregated from the public Internet.
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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) described mobile voting as ''about the worst thing you can do in terms of election security in America, short of putting American ballot boxes on a Moscow street,'' during a Senate floor speech last year.
There has nevertheless been a concerted push to expand mobile voting in recent years, spurred by the hope of making voting more convenient and accessible, especially for people who rarely exercise their franchise or have disabilities that make voting difficult.
West Virginia allowed mobile app-based voting by some voters in 2018. There were similar programs in West Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey in 2020. In all cases, mobile voting was limited to voters with disabilities that made in-person or mail voting difficult and, in some cases, to overseas voters.
Reviews of the apps used in those states conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turned up numerous cybersecurity problems.
Election officials in some states have also allowed military voters overseas to cast ballots using secure fax systems or PDF attachments to emails.
EA Targets Kyle Rittenhouse's Account, Claims Violations Include "Inappropriate Reference '' Violence, Terror, and Tragic Events" - Bounding Into Comics
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:57
Kyle Rittenhouse, who was forced to defend himself during a Black Lives Matter riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020, recently revealed that Electronic Arts (EA) targeted his account for using his own name as his username.
Source: Fox News YouTube
Rittenhouse shared an email he received from Electronic Arts to his Instagram Stories that claims his username breaks their Positive Play Charter.
The email begins, ''We received a report about your account or profile name. It may be the name you created on another platform.''
''This name breaks our Positive Play Charter because you may have used words or phrases that harm others or negatively disrupt the game,'' EA added.
Finally, they listed his violations of the Positive Play Charter, ''Here's the violations we see: Steam PC, Inappropriate Reference '' Violence, Terror, and Tragic Events, 'Username- Kyle Rittenhouse.'''
Source: Kyle Rittenhouse Instagram
RELATED: Hulk Actor Mark Ruffalo Grieves For Kyle Rittenhouse Assailants: ''Justice Weeps Bitterly Today''
EA describes their Positive Play Charter as ''an updated set of community guidelines with clear consequences for players who engage in racist, sexist, homophobic, and abusive acts in our games and channels.''
''If we see someone being offensive or abusive, we're going to hold them responsible for their actions,'' the video game company added.
Source: Battlefield 2042
''We believe that our communities should be safe, fun, inclusive environments free of threats, harassment and other toxic or unlawful behavior,'' they went on to state. ''In an effort to do better and to enforce our Positive Play Charter, we are applying additional resources and tools to our moderation and abuse reporting programs.''
''We have a disciplinary policy that is in place, and is being applied consistently across all our games and services,'' they added.
EA went on to reveal they removed over 3,500 player-generated assets from their games, ''In recent weeks, we have removed more than 3,500 player-generated assets from our games '' inappropriate and hurtful names and language '-- and took action with the players that had posted the content. We will continue to consistently do this.''
Source: Star Wars: The Old Republic
RELATED: The Mandalorian Actor Pedro Pascal Mourns Kyle Rittenhouse Assailants, Appears To Libel Rittenhouse
The company then stated, ''The last few weeks have been a stark reminder that we have a responsibility to stay vigilant in this effort. We won't tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia, harassment or any form of abuse.''
''We can build better, healthier communities inside '' and outside '' our games, and that's what we are here to do,'' EA asserted.
Source: FIFA 22
Ironically, the company admitted to including racist messaging in their games disguised as anti-racist.
''Last week we included important anti-racism messaging in many of our games, reaching millions of players. Every step towards a healthier community is a positive one,'' they wrote.
''This isn't a quick fix, but it is a long-term commitment that we intend to continue to act on,'' stated EA. ''We will constantly question and evaluate how we're doing '' and what more we can do.''
''Meaningful change in our industry means a step towards meaningful change in the world we all share. We all have a role to play. Let's make it positive,'' the company concluded.
Source: Mass Effect Legendary Edition
RELATED: LeVar Burton Appears To React To Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict Saying ''Tell Me Again There Are Not Two Kinds Justice In America''
As part of their Positive Play Charter they have four main bullet points: Treat others as you would like to be treated, Keep Things Fair, Share Clean Content, and Follow Local Laws.
As part of their 'Treat others as you would like to be treated' point they state, ''Don't harass, threaten, bully, spam or do anything else to another player or EA employee that is unwanted.''
Source: EA Sports NHL 22
It could definitely be argued by targeting Kyle Rittenhouse, who used his own name as his username, that EA is violating their own policy.
It definitely appears that they are bullying him by claiming the use of his name is an inappropriate reference in regards to violence, terror, and tragic events.
Source: Dead Space
What do you make of EA going after Kyle Rittenhouse for simply using his own name as his username?
NEXT: Actor Matthew Marsden Weighs In On The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Verdict, Calling Out Woke Hollywood Celebrities And Mainstream Media For Pushing White Supremacy Narrative
A New mRNA HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Mice and Monkey Trials
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:55
An experimental HIV vaccine based on mRNA has shown success in mice and monkeys in a study conducted by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Moderna, and other institutions.
This is promising news for the more than 38 million people living with HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.
While AIDS is no longer a fatal disease as long as the patient continues drug treatment, which can be expensive, cause side effects, and lead to the development of a drug-tolerant virus, such vaccines have the potential to bring an end to the AIDS pandemic.
The most recent research, published in Nature Medicine, demonstrated that the vaccine was safe and elicited the expected antibody and cellular immune responses against an HIV-like virus.
Ending the AIDS pandemic with mRNA vaccines?"Despite nearly four decades of effort by the global research community, an effective vaccine to prevent HIV remains an elusive goal," explained NIAID director and co-author Anthony Fauci, in a statement. "This experimental mRNA vaccine combines several features that may overcome shortcomings of other experimental HIV vaccines and thus represents a promising approach."
The vaccine is based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), which was also employed in two successful and effective COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. mRNA COVID vaccines operate by giving cells genetic instructions to manufacture the coronavirus spike protein, which educates the immune system to be ready for the actual virus.
In a similar fashion, the novel experimental HIV vaccine delivers coded instructions for two HIV proteins called envelope (Env) and another called Gag. The two proteins are produced by muscle cells in an infected animal, which produces virus-like particles with numerous copies of Env on their surface. These particles are not infectious or disease-causing, but they can induce an immunological response to HIV.
When compared to unvaccinated animals, rhesus macaques who got a priming shot followed by several boosters had a 79 percent lower per-exposure risk of infection by the simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV). And despite the large dosages, the vaccinations were determined to be safe, causing only minor, transient side effects such as lack of appetite.
After a year, it was discovered that all inoculated macaques had neutralizing antibodies against different HIV strains, therefore the researchers are currently modifying the techniques to increase the quality and quantity of vaccine response. They will proceed to early-stage human studies if they are shown to be safe and effective. And meanwhile, in Japan, another team has developed a vaccine that was able to kill a type of HIV in macaques during an early trial, and it could start human testing within just five years.
Biden official warns: COVID explosion imminent - Axios
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:19
New data from South Africa and Europe hint that Omicron cases are poised to explode in the U.S., where the vast majority of the population isn't well protected against infection.
Driving the news: A new analysis by South Africa's largest private insurer paints a picture of Omicron's clinical risk: Two doses of Pfizer's vaccine appear to be significantly less effective against severe disease with Omicron than previous variants.
But the variant is less likely to lead to hospitalization in adults than the original version.What they're saying: "Everything points to a large wave. A large wave is coming," a senior Biden administration official told Axios.
"It will be fast. It won't be as severe, but regrettably, there will be plenty of hospitalizations," the official added.By the numbers: The South African analysis, by Discovery Health, found that the risk of hospital admission among adults diagnosed with the Omicron variant is 29% lower than it was during South Africa's first wave of infections in 2020. The researchers adjusted their calculations by vaccination status.
Their vaccine effectiveness analysis included more than 211,000 positive COVID-19 test results, from which 41% were from adults who'd received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. During the current Omicron wave, the two-dose regimen was 70% effective against severe disease requiring hospital admission. (Vaccine effectiveness is measured against the same risk in the unvaccinated.)Yes, but: It also found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are only 33% effective against infection from Omicron.
The big picture: A dramatic surge in cases could still overwhelm our burnt-out health system if even a small percentage require hospital care.
The analysis found that vaccinated elderly people have slightly less protection against hospitalization, reinforcing the importance of booster shots in this age group.They found children had a 20% higher risk of hospital admission than they did from previous variants.State of play: The Delta variant is already driving yet another surge of cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. Omicron seems poised to make this significantly worse, given its high transmissibility and its ability to evade immune protection.
In Denmark, where about 80% of the population has been vaccinated, three-fourths of Omicron cases are among fully vaccinated people, and another 9% are among those who have received a booster shot, according to a report released by the Statens Serum Institut yesterday.European countries have also been reporting that the variant is spreading rapidly, with cases doubling every two to three days. Omicron's "exponential rise could take us to levels of even 1 million cases per day in the United States, which previously would have been considered an unthinkable projection," Scripps Research's Eric Topol wrote yesterday on Substack.Yes, but: We don't have nearly enough data yet to make any firm predictions.
In South Africa, for example, case growth also appears to be slowing down, and there have been reports that hospitalized adults are less sick than in previous waves."The chances that those vaccines will continue to provide protection against serious illness against Omicron are very good," said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.The bottom line: "Frankly we don't have enough reliable, robust data at this point to give a clear direction as to what this will look like in the weeks to months ahead," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
But there is certainly a strong possibility that a lot of Americans are about to get sick '-- soon.
Barcelona's Sergio Ag¼ero to announce retirement with heart condition | Sergio Ag¼ero | The Guardian
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 14:39
Sergio Ag¼ero is due to announce his retirement from football on Wednesday because of a heart condition, six months after Manchester City's record scorer joined Barcelona as a free agent.
The 33-year-old experienced chest problems and breathing difficulties during the first half of Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Alav(C)s on 30 October. Ag¼ero fell to the turf at the Camp Nou clutching his chest and was treated for several minutes before being able to walk off. He was admitted to hospital for cardiological tests, the club later stating that he would be out for three months and would undertake a ''diagnostic and therapeutic process''.
Ag¼ero, though, is unable to resume a glittering 18-year-career that began at Independiente, when he became Argentina's youngest top-flight debutant. After three years the striker moved to Atl(C)tico Madrid in 2006, before signing for City in 2011.
His first season at the club ended in a career highlight when his 94th-minute winner against Queens Park Rangers snatched top spot from Manchester United and gave City a first title since 1968. A decade at the club saw him score 260 goals in 390 appearances, 184 of which were in the Premier League, a record for one team.
His final City appearance ended in the heartbreak of a Champions League final defeat by Chelsea, with another career low point being the 2014 World Cup final loss to Germany.
In five matches for Barcelona Ag¼ero scored once, in a 2-1 defeat by Real Madrid. He found the net 41 times in 101 games for Argentina.
Max Linn, a colorful candidate, dead at 62 - Lewiston Sun Journal
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 10:47
Independent U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn of Bar Harbor poses for a photo before a 2020 campaign debate. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal
Max Linn, one of the more colorful characters in Maine politics and perhaps the first Mainer to catch COVID-19, died over the weekend.
Linn, 62, ran for U.S. Senate in 2020 as an independent and attracted attention for cutting up a mask during a televised debate and declaring ''request denied'' in refusing to answer questions.
One of his attorneys, Jeff Silverstein of Bangor, said Monday that he heard from someone reliable that Linn died of a heart attack late Saturday. Linn had long had a heart condition.
A woman who answered the phone Monday at Linn's home sounded sad, declined to comment and referred a reporter to a different lawyer who could not be reached immediately.
Linn, 62, got into politics as a businessman in Florida, where he ran for Congress and for governor at different times, falling well short. At one point in the race, he made an emergency landing on a highway while piloting his plane to a campaign event.
Former Maine U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn of Bar Harbor was among a crowd of Trump backers Jan. 6 outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where insurgents briefly seized parts of the building and forced members of Congress to flee. Submitted photo
He moved to Maine at least five years ago, making a stab at politics in 2018 before snagging a spot on the ballot in 2020 as an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump. He wound up with 1.6% of the vote in a four-way race won by incumbent Susan Collins, a Republican.
Linn didn't slink away after his defeat. He was among those present outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 protesting Democrat Joe Biden's election.
Back in Florida, though, he'd been a strident backer of President Barack Obama's first run for office. Linn also ran for the U.S. House as a Democrat.
Linn had a reputation as a hothead. But in private conversation, he was far more reasonable than his deliberately outrageous public persona.
Silverstein said he was ''an absolute pleasure'' to work with the last few months on a court case brought by a former aide who accused Linn of pointing a gun at him after a dispute about a cryptocurrency investment.
Linn returned to Maine in December 2019 from a business trip to China so sick that he admitted he felt like he might not survive. He said in a conversation with a reporter that it's possible he picked up the COVID-19 virus during a stop in Wuhan, where the virus allegedly originated about the same time.
But Linn said he was never tested and did not know whether he got COVID-19, a disease he tended to scoff at in public.
Matt McDonald, his former aide who asked for a protective order against him, said Monday that he picked up Linn from the airport on Dec. 26, 2019, after his return from China.
''I've never seen anyone so sick outside a hospital,'' McDonald said. Linn had a hard time breathing, he said.
Before long, McDonald, too, took ill. He said it felt ''like someone pouring fire on my lungs.''
At the time, doctors told them they had an unidentified lung condition, but McDonald is certain he got COVID-19 from Linn. He had COVID antibodies when tested in March 2020, he said.
''He brought COVID to Maine,'' McDonald said. ''He was patient zero.''
During his Senate campaign, Linn was an ardent foe of public health measures aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19. At one point, he denounced Dr. Nirav Shah, who heads the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, calling him ''the very doctor of death.''
Max Linn speaks to a reporter in December 2019 in Hong Kong. Submitted photo
During the same trip to China that brought him to Wuhan, Linn made a stop in Hong Kong, where he joined a mass protest against the growing crackdown by Chinese authorities on Hong Kong's traditional liberties.
''That made him proud,'' McDonald said.
McDonald said that despite the sour ending of their time together '-- he's the one who sought a protective order against Linn '-- he is grief-stricken to lose a man who was once a close friend.
Linn, he said, ''was all the cool things that make humans human,'' from traveling widely to giving to charity to living life ''by his own rules.''
''I lost a friend,'' he said, ''and Maine lost a character.''
Lawyer Walter McKee said Monday that McDonald dismissed his protection order case against Linn ''right when I set up depositions of Matt, his wife and parents in that case. This was because Matt's allegations came on the heels of Matt's theft of $225,000 from Max'...''
McKee claims that McDonald admitted to stealing money from Linn ''when interviewed by the police.''
''I am in the process of referring the matter to the Attorney General's Office for the prosecution of Matt McDonald,'' McKee said.
McDonald, however, denies stealing from Linn and said he didn't know about a possible case against him.
''That's news to me,'' McDonald said when he learned of the development from a reporter. He said he does not know McKee and never stole any money from Linn.
McDonald has not been charged with a crime.
Max Linn at Acadia National Park. Submitted photo
Linn made a fortune as a financial planner in Florida before he jumped into the political arena, running for governor on the Reform Party ticket and then for Congress as a Democrat.
By the time he registered in Maine a decade ago, he was a Republican.
But party labels, he said, never meant too much to him. He was a political maverick who admitted he loved to shake things up.
McDonald said Linn, who owned homes around the globe, had visited every U.S. national park and wound up choosing to live in Bar Harbor because he loved Acadia National Park more than anywhere else. He said Linn loved to hike its trails and paths.
But Linn also had a restless nature that took him to many lands, including China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Dubai.
Linn had a longtime partner but it is not clear they were married. He had no known children. He has a brother. His father died years ago, but his mother, a former Newsweek journalist, lived to be 88, dying in 2014.
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Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government | The White House
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 04:25
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. Our Government must recommit to being ''of the people, by the people, [and] for the people'' in order to solve the complex 21st century challenges our Nation faces. Government must be held accountable for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve. Government must also work to deliver services more equitably and effectively, especially for those who have been historically underserved. Strengthening the democratic process requires providing direct lines of feedback and mechanisms for engaging the American people in the design and improvement of Federal Government programs, processes, and services.
As the United States faces critical challenges, including recovering from a global pandemic, promoting prosperity and economic growth, advancing equity, and tackling the climate crisis, the needs of the people of the United States, informed by, in particular, an understanding of how they experience Government, should drive priorities for service delivery improvements. In recent years, the annual paperwork burden imposed by executive departments and agencies (agencies) on the public has been in excess of 9 billion hours. That number is too high. Agencies must work with the Congress; the private sector and nonprofit organizations; State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments; and other partners to design experiences with the Federal Government that effectively reduce administrative burdens, simplify both public-facing and internal processes to improve efficiency, and empower the Federal workforce to solve problems.
The Federal Government must design and deliver services in a manner that people of all abilities can navigate. We must use technology to modernize Government and implement services that are simple to use, accessible, equitable, protective, transparent, and responsive for all people of the United States. When a disaster survivor, single parent, immigrant, small business owner, or veteran waits months for the Government to process benefits to which they are entitled, that lost time is a significant cost not only for that individual, but in the aggregate, for our Nation as a whole. This lost time operates as a kind of tax '-- a ''time tax'' '-- and it imposes a serious burden on our people as they interact with the Government. Improving Government services should also make our Government more efficient and effective overall.
Every interaction between the Federal Government and the public, whether it involves renewing a passport or calling for a status update on a farm loan application, should be seen as an opportunity for the Government to save an individual's time (and thus reduce ''time taxes'') and to deliver the level of service that the public expects and deserves. By demonstrating that its processes are effective and efficient, in addition to being fair, protective of privacy interests, and transparent, the Federal Government can build public trust. Further, the Federal Government's management of its customer experience and service delivery should be driven fundamentally by the voice of the customer through human-centered design methodologies; empirical customer research; an understanding of behavioral science and user testing, especially for digital services; and other mechanisms of engagement.
Executive Order 12862 of September 11, 1993 (Setting Customer Service Standards), required agencies that provide significant services directly to the public to identify and gather feedback from customers; establish service standards and measure performance against those standards; and benchmark customer service performance against the best customer experience provided in the private sector. Executive Order 13571 of April 27, 2011 (Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service), further required agencies to develop a ''Customer Service Plan . . . to address how the agency will provide services in a manner that seeks to streamline service delivery and improve the experience of its customers.'' Executive Order 13707 of September 15, 2015 (Using Behavioral Science Insights To Better Serve the American People), called for the use of empirical findings in behavioral science fields to deliver better results for the American people, including by identifying ''opportunities to help qualifying individuals, families, communities, and businesses access public programs and benefits.'' And Executive Order 13985 of January 20, 2021 (Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government), established the policy of the Federal Government to ''pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.'' Consistent with these aims, agencies have begun assessing whether, and to what extent, their programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and other underserved groups. These previous actions have laid an important foundation for the policies and procedures set forth in this order. However, more is required to establish the sustained system for Federal Government accountability and performance necessary to drive an ongoing focus on improved delivery and results for the people of the United States.
Sec. 2. Policy. It is the policy of the United States that, in a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, improving service delivery and customer experience should be fundamental priorities. The Government's performance must be measured empirically and by on-the-ground results for the people of the United States, especially for their experiences with services delivered. The means of Government '-- such as its budget, policy, financial management, procurement, and human resources practices '-- must work to achieve those ends. Agencies should continually improve their understanding of their customers, reduce administrative hurdles and paperwork burdens to minimize ''time taxes,'' enhance transparency, create greater efficiencies across Government, and redesign compliance-oriented processes to improve customer experience and more directly meet the needs of the people of the United States. Consistent with the purpose described in section 1 of this order, agencies' efforts to improve customer experience should include systematically identifying and resolving the root causes of customer experience challenges, regardless of whether the source of such challenges is statutory, regulatory, budgetary, technological, or process-based. Furthermore, to engender public trust, agencies must ensure that their efforts appropriately maintain or enhance protections afforded under law and policy, including those related to civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, confidentiality, and information security.
Sec. 3. Definitions. For purposes of this order: (a) The term ''customer'' means any individual, business, or organization (such as a grantee or State, local, or Tribal entity) that interacts with an agency or program, either directly or through a federally-funded program administered by a contractor, nonprofit, or other Federal entity. (b) The term ''customer experience'' means the public's perceptions of and overall satisfaction with interactions with an agency, product, or service. (c) The term ''customer life experience'' means each important point in a person's life at which that person interacts with one or more entities of Government. (d) The term ''equity'' means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality. (e) The term ''High Impact Service Provider'' (HISP) means a Federal entity, as designated by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that provides or funds customer-facing services, including Federal services administered at the State or local level, that have a high impact on the public, whether because of a large customer base or a critical effect on those served. (f) The term ''human-centered design'' means an interdisciplinary methodology of putting people, including those who will use or be impacted by what one creates, at the center of any process to solve challenging problems. (g) The term ''service delivery'' means actions by the Federal Government related to providing a benefit or service to a customer of a Federal Government entity. Such actions pertain to all points of the Government-to-customer delivery process, including when a customer applies for a benefit or loan, receives a service such as health care or small business counseling, requests a document such as a passport or Social Security card, files taxes or declares goods, uses resources such as a park or historical site, or seeks information such as notices about public health or consumer protection.
Sec. 4. Agency Actions to Improve Customer Experience. (a) The Secretary of State shall design and deliver a new online passport renewal experience that does not require any physical documents to be mailed. (b) The Secretary of the Treasury shall design and deliver new online tools and services to ease the payment of taxes and provide the option to schedule customer support telephone call-backs. The Secretary of the Treasury should consider whether such tools and services might include expanded automatic direct deposit refunds based on prior year tax returns, tax credit eligibility tools, and expanded electronic filing options. (c) The Secretary of the Interior shall redesign the website of the Fish and Wildlife Service,, in compliance with the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (Public Law 115-336), and shall support a centralized, modernized electronic permitting system to accept and process applications for permits. Such a system might include special use permits for the National Wildlife Refuge System and for at least five high-volume permit application forms required for individuals and businesses who import or export fish, wildlife, and plants and their products internationally. (d) The Secretary of Agriculture shall: (i) test the use of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits for online purchasing; (ii) identify opportunities to reduce individuals' and families' burdens by simplifying enrollment and recertification for nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the WIC, including expanding the use of direct certification; and (iii) design and implement a simplified direct farm loan application process. (e) The Secretary of Labor shall: (i) update existing rules and policies, consistent with applicable law and to the extent practicable, to allow individuals entitled to medical treatment under their workers' compensation plans to conduct their routine medical treatment appointments using telehealth platforms; and (ii) update rules, policies, and procedures to eliminate, consistent with applicable law and to the extent practicable, requirements for workers' compensation claimants to submit physical documents, but to retain the option for physical submission for claimants who cannot otherwise submit them. (f) The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall: (i) continue to design and deliver new, personalized online tools and expanded customer support options for Medicare enrollees; (ii) strengthen requirements for maternal health quality measurement, including measuring perinatal quality and patient care experiences, and evaluating the measurements by race and ethnicity to aim to better identify inequities in maternal health care delivery and outcomes; (iii) to the maximum extent permitted by law, support coordination between benefit programs to ensure applicants and beneficiaries in one program are automatically enrolled in other programs for which they are eligible; (iv) to the maximum extent permitted by law, support streamlining State enrollment and renewal processes and removing barriers, including by eliminating face-to-face interview requirements and requiring prepopulated electronic renewal forms, to ensure eligible individuals are automatically enrolled in and retain access to critical benefit programs; (v) develop guidance for entities regulated pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on providing telehealth in compliance with HIPAA rules, to improve patient experience and convenience following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency; and (vi) test methods to automate patient access to electronic prenatal, birth, and postpartum health records (including lab results, genetic tests, ultrasound images, and clinical notes) to improve patient experiences in maternity care, health outcomes, and equity. (g) The Secretary of Education shall: (i) consider providing eligible recipients of student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (Public Law 89-329), as amended, with the option to receive information about certain benefits and services for which they may qualify; and (ii) design and deliver a repayment portal capability on for Direct Loan borrowers. (h) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall: (i) provide digital services through a single, integrated, and equitable digital platform on and the VA mobile app; and (ii) provide on-demand customer support through the channels that work best for customers, including personalized online chat with a virtual or live agent. (i) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall: (i) test the use of innovative technologies at airport security checkpoints to reduce passenger wait times; (ii) provide new opportunities for customers to connect with the Transportation Security Administration, including as appropriate, online chat, improved communication during additional screenings, and additional mechanisms to provide customer feedback; (iii) design and deliver a streamlined, online disaster assistance application; and (iv) work with States to proactively update existing rules and policies on supporting documentation needed for disaster assistance processes to reduce burden and increase accessibility. (j) The Administrator of the Small Business Administration shall: (i) establish baseline experience measures for key small business application processes in areas such as loans, grants, and certifications; and (ii) design and deliver a streamlined online disaster assistance application experience. (k) The Commissioner of Social Security shall: (i) within 120 days of the date of this order, provide a report to the Director of OMB that analyzes all services of the Social Security Administration that currently require original or physical documentation or in-person appearance as an element of identity or evidence authentication, and that identifies potential opportunities for policy reforms that can support modernized customer experiences while ensuring original or physical documentation requirements remain where there is a statutory or strong policy rationale; (ii) develop a mobile-accessible, online process so that any individual applying for or receiving services from the Social Security Administration can upload forms, documentation, evidence, or correspondence associated with their transaction without the need for service-specific tools or traveling to a field office; (iii) consistent with applicable law and to the extent practicable, maintain a public policy of technology neutrality with respect to acceptable forms of electronic signatures; (iv) consistent with applicable law and to the extent practicable, revise any necessary regulations, forms, instructions, or other sources of guidance (to include the Program Operations Manual System of the Social Security Administration) to remove requirements that members of the public provide physical signatures; and (v) to the maximum extent permitted by law, support applicants and beneficiaries to identify other benefits for which they may be eligible and integrate Social Security Administration data and processes with those of other Federal and State entities whenever possible. (l) The Administrator of General Services shall: (i) develop a roadmap for a redesigned website that aims to serve as a centralized, digital ''Federal Front Door'' from which customers may navigate to all Government benefits, services, and programs, and features streamlined content, processes, and technologies that use human-centered design to meet customer needs, including consolidating content currently appearing on,, and other appropriate websites; and (ii) dedicate multi-disciplinary design and development teams to support priority projects of HISPs that will be selected and funded each fiscal year in consultation with the Director of OMB. (m) The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shall review and revise, as appropriate, regulations, forms, instructions, or other sources of guidance relating to the application for grants and cooperative agreements in countries in which USAID works to ensure that such policies are clear and intelligible, do not contain unjustified administrative burdens or excessive paperwork requirements, and do not place undue burdens on local organizations and underserved communities. (n) Joint Agency Actions: (i) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Administrator of General Services shall collaborate to provide seamless integration of accounts to allow customers to access, the VA mobile application, and other customer-facing digital products and to eliminate outdated and duplicate customer sign-in options. (ii) The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Education, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall collaborate to enable a more streamlined Public Service Loan Forgiveness process for eligible borrowers, including those who serve in the United States Armed Forces or as civil servants, or who work for eligible nonprofit organizations. (iii) The Director of OMB, including through the Administrator of the United States Digital Service, shall collaborate across the Federal Government with multiple agencies and their respective customers in order to conduct human-centered design research and document customer experience challenges related to accessing grant programs to which Tribal governments are entitled, and shall propose ways to streamline processes and reduce administrative burdens on Tribal government customers. (iv) The Director of OMB, through the Administrator of the United States Digital Service; the Administrator of General Services; and the Postmaster General are encouraged to collaborate on ways to update mailing address records across Government so that members of the public may change their respective mailing addresses for purposes of all Government services only once, through the United States Postal Service.
Sec. 5. Government-wide Actions to Improve Customer Experience. Customers often navigate services across multiple agencies in specific moments of need, such as when they are seeking financing for their businesses or experiencing food insecurity. In such situations, relevant agencies should coordinate their service delivery to achieve an integrated experience that meets customer needs through the exchange of data with appropriate privacy protections.Such coordination may include providing States that administer elements of Federal services with guidance and flexibilities with respect to the elements of Federal programs they administer. Such coordination would allow both Federal and State government entities to maximize their respective expertise and improve efficiency. To further the policy set forth in this section: (a) Within 90 days of the date of this order, and on a regular basis thereafter, the Deputy Director for Management of OMB and other members of the President's Management Council (PMC) shall work with the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy to select a limited number of customer life experiences to prioritize for Government-wide action to improve customer experience. (b) The Deputy Director for Management of OMB and other members of the PMC, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and relevant interagency teams coordinated by OMB, shall organize appropriate leadership structures to assess customer life experiences selected pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, work to develop measurable improvements for such customer life experiences that involve multiple agencies, develop prospective plans for rigorously testing that use appropriate empirical methods on which approaches work best, and share lessons learned across the Federal Government. (c) Within 180 days of the date of this order and every 6 months thereafter, the Deputy Director for Management of OMB and other members of the PMC, through the Deputy Director for Management of OMB, shall report to the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff on the status of the actions described in subsection (b) of this section. (d) The Director of OMB shall work with the head of each relevant agency to help resolve issues related to overlapping responsibilities among agencies, work to address barriers to serving customers across multiple agencies, and coordinate activities to improve customer experience or service delivery when primary responsibility among multiple agencies is unclear. (e) Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government and the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within OMB, in consultation with relevant interagency councils (including the Chief Information Officers Council, the Federal Privacy Council, the Chief Data Officer Council, the Evaluation Officer Council, and the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy), shall coordinate their current, respective efforts to develop guidance for agencies, ensuring that such guidance incorporates opportunities to: (i) improve the efficiency and effectiveness of data sharing and support processes among agencies and with State and local governments; and (ii) streamline the process for agencies to provide services to State and local governments, consistent with applicable law. (f) Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs shall provide guidance for agencies on: (i) identifying specific steps to reduce information collection burdens on customers to enhance access across agencies; and (ii) clarifying and updating recommendations and flexibilities under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), including to facilitate stakeholder engagement and feedback processes to support the implementation of this order. (g) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Administrator of General Services shall submit to the Director of OMB a roadmap for the development of prioritized common services and standards (such as the United States Web Design System or systems for login and identity management), platforms (such as notification capabilities), and digital products (such as that support increased efficiency, integration, and improved service delivery of designated customer life experiences.
Sec. 6. Ongoing Accountability for Federal Service Delivery. (a) The Director of OMB shall designate as HISPs those Federal entities that provide or fund customer-facing services, including Federal services administered at the State or local level, that have a high impact on the public, whether because of a large customer base or a critical effect on those served. The Director of OMB shall maintain a list of designated HISPS and may update this list at any time. (b) The Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, the Commissioner of Social Security, the Administrator of General Services, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall each submit to the Director of OMB a report including an assessment of the improvements needed in each agency's customer experience management and service design capabilities in light of this order, to be prioritized within each agency's respective available and budgeted resources. (c) The head of each HISP shall, in consultation with the Deputy Director for Management of OMB, annually designate a limited number of services for prioritized improvement (designated services). Identification of designated services should be based on the moments that matter most to the individuals served, as illustrated through human-centered design and other research, and on those services' public-facing nature, the number of individuals served, the volume of transactions, the total Federal dollars spent, the safety and protection of lives, or the critical nature of the services provided in the lives of the individuals they serve. (d) The Deputy Director for Management of OMB shall issue guidance for HISPs that outlines an annual process for assessing their capacity to manage customer experience, assessing their performance of designated services through meaningful measures from the perspective of the public and planning for the improvement of the customer experience. Assessments should include, as appropriate, the identification of customer experience challenges experienced by customers of the HISP in the form of administrative burdens or other barriers, informed by experiential data (including, as appropriate, through randomized controlled trials or other rigorous program evaluation); ethnographic research; feedback from public engagement; human-centered design methodologies such as journey mapping; operational and administrative data analysis; direct observations; examination, from a customer perspective, of how to navigate the agency's service offerings, apply for a benefit, or comply with a requirement of the agency; observations of customer interaction with the agency's website or application processes and tools; or observations of customer support service delivery such as activities at call centers. Informed by findings from these assessments, plans for improvement should include, as appropriate, actions such as conducting outreach to the public about the agency's programs and other Federal programs for which those served by the agency may be eligible, providing assistance to members of the public enrolling in the agency's programs and other Federal programs, streamlining and improving accessibility of forms and digital experiences, eliminating unnecessary administrative burdens on customers, ensuring the accessibility of services for customers with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency, developing targeted actions to advance equity for communities that face inequitable barriers to service access, or engaging in other efforts to coordinate with other agencies to reduce the need for those they serve to interact separately with multiple agencies. (e) The Director of OMB shall establish a team within OMB to lead and support agency customer experience initiatives as well as such initiatives that reach across agencies, including by facilitating the decision-making processes needed to achieve the objectives of this order; coordinating HISP activities as outlined in this order; and developing strategies for the integration of services and development of products involving multiple agencies as contemplated in this order. (f) All agencies, whether identified in this section or not, are urged to apply guidance issued pursuant to subsection (d) of this section to improve their service delivery.
Sec. 7. Additional Agency Actions to Improve Customer Experience. The heads of agencies shall: (a) integrate activities to improve customer experience, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, into their respective: (i) agency strategic plans developed pursuant to section 306(a) of title 5, United States Code; (ii) Agency Performance Plans developed pursuant to sections 1115 and 1116 of title 31, United States Code; (iii) portions of performance plans relating to human and capital resource requirements to achieve performance goals pursuant to section 1115(g) of title 31, United States Code; (iv) agency priority goals developed pursuant to section 1120 of title 31, United States Code; (v) selection of items for their respective regulatory agendas and plans pursuant to subsections 4(b) and (c) of Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993 (Regulatory Planning and Review), as amended; (vi) individual performance plans for senior executives consistent with section 4312 of title 5, United States Code, and for other senior employees consistent with section 4302 of title 5, United States Code; and (vii) as permitted by law, any other agency activities, acquisitions, and strategies that the Director of OMB determines to be appropriate to further the implementation of the policy articulated in this order; (b) direct all of their respective program offices to apply the guidance from OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs described in section 5(f) of this order, as well as the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act related to collections of information, consistently with guidance contained in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Memorandum of July 22, 2016 (Flexibilities under the Paperwork Reduction Act for Compliance with Information Collection Requirements), which provides that the Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply to agencies' general solicitations of public views and feedback, certain ratings and rankings of Federal services by members of the public using Government websites, or direct observations of users interacting with digital tools and products; (c) direct all of their respective program offices to identify opportunities to apply policies, including those set forth in subsections 1(a) and (b) of Executive Order 13707, and to engage in promising practices such as the advance testing of information collections described in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Memorandum of August 9, 2012 (Testing and Simplifying Federal Forms); (d) identify opportunities, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to modify their respective agencies' regulations, internal and public-facing guidance, and policies to include positive and equitable customer experiences and service delivery as part of their respective agencies' missions; issue internal directives or policies on customer experience and service delivery to articulate how their respective agencies' strategies and missions relate to customer experience and service delivery outcomes; and promote coordination within and among their respective agencies concerning those customer life experiences that cut across agency or agency component responsibilities; (e) improve the digital customer experience for their respective agencies' customers by modernizing agency websites, using human-centered design methodologies, digitizing agency services and forms, modernizing records management, updating network infrastructure and mobility capabilities, and accelerating the use of electronic signatures when aligned with policy priorities, as required by the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 note); and (f) identify means by which their respective agencies can improve transparency and accessibility through their compliance with the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-274) and related requirements and guidance.
Sec. 8. OMB Guidance. The Director of OMB shall review and update OMB Government-wide guidance and supporting processes (such as information collection reviews or data sharing approvals) as necessary and applicable, to ensure conformity with this order and to assist agencies in improving their service delivery and customer experience.
Sec. 9. Independent Agencies. Independent agencies are strongly encouraged to comply with the provisions of this order.
Sec. 10. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals. (b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations. (c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,December 13, 2021.
Remarks by President Biden at Signing of Executive Order on Government Services | The White House
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 04:23
Oval Office
1:39 P.M. EST THE PRESIDENT: Well, folks, thanks for coming in. I was telling my Cabinet before you all came in that when I was a kid '-- in grade school and high school and college '-- one of my closest friends was a guy named Pete McLaughlin. And if you're a real basketball fan, he was the ''sixth man'' on the Riordan-Walker team in Providence College back in the '-- back in the late '60s. And '-- anyway. And he used to have an expression when someone would say something to us. (Inaudible) say, ''Look, you got to know how to know.'' ''You got to know how to know.'' Unfortunately, he passed away some time ago. But, you know, you can go on the Library of Congress and, if you don't know how to read the card catalog, it doesn't do you much good; it's all a matter of luck. And since I got involved in public office and got elected, I've really '-- not a joke '-- I've tried starting my home office in my home state '-- like, get to a point where people could get their '-- we assume '-- bureaucracies assume that people understand how they function. But it's, really, a very complicated web for the vast majority of people, whether they have PhDs or high school educations. And so, today, I'm signing an executive order to ensure '-- to ensure that the federal government puts you, the American people, at the front of the line and for '-- first in everything we do. I'm directing 17 agencies here to focus on more than 30 key areas to make it easier to apply for services and benefits that they're entitled to and they've paid for and is theirs, their government. Let me give a few examples. For millions of people who retire each year, you should be able to apply for Social Security benefits without needing to go to a Social Security office and have Medicare proactively reach out to you with the tools you need to manage your health and save money. Or if you're one of the tens of millions of people who move each year, you should be able to take and update your address one time, in one place, and check off which agencies that new information should go to instead of going to each one separately to let them know. And you'll see better technology to speed security lines and wait times at our national airports; make filings and refunds to the IRS more '-- more rapid; and for disaster aid, which I was talking a little bit earlier today about; and to student loans. The list goes on. The bottom line is we're going to make the government work more effectively for the American citizens so it's not as confusing and it's straightforward. And we're going to '-- because I believe this will go a long way to restoring faith in government. I know it sounds like a simple thing, but I think it's pretty consequential. And so, I'm about to sign that now. And I'd ask all the Cabinet members to come around behind me here, if you would. I used to wonder how Barack did this all in one (inaudible). (Laughter.) (The executive order is signed.) Thank you. (Applause.) 1:45 P.M. EST
European gas tightness to persist
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 00:46
European inventories are low and fallingWe are moving towards the peak of winter with European gas storage at its lowest levels in at least a decade for this stage of the year. It's around 65% full compared to a 5-year average of around 82% at this stage of the year. Inventories are also drawing at a quicker than usual pace, and with heating demand set to only increase, the pace of draws will also probably pick up.If we assume a similar pace of inventory declines as we saw last year from early December all the way through to the end of March, European gas inventories would fall to below 100 TWh by the end of the heating season which would be the lowest in at least a decade. If we assume a similar pace of withdrawals as the 5-year average, the inventory situation at the end of the heating season is not as bad but it's still historically tight, with inventories hitting around 200 TWh.The prospect of inventories falling to extremely uncomfortable levels suggests that prices will remain well supported through much of the winter. If winter is warmer and there's less demand, clearly inventories will be at much more comfortable levels. Either way, we will likely finish the winter season with lower than usual inventories, which should mean that going into spring and summer we'll see strong demand for injections. This suggests that while prices might come off from the elevated levels seen over the winter, seasonally they will still be high for much of 2022.
European natural gas inventories (TWh)
Russian gas flows still strugglingThe key issue for Europe has been reduced Russian gas flows. The market will remain sensitive to how this situation evolves over the heating season. While Russian flows to Europe have improved from the levels seen in early November, they are still well below what we normally see year-on-year. Quick approval of Nord Stream 2 may lead to a pick-up in flows. However, we think it is unlikely that this new pipeline will offer any relief to Europe over the winter. Already, the regulatory process from the Germans has been delayed. A start-up is more likely towards the end of 1Q22, which would be near the end of the heating season. While there is capacity via Ukraine that Russia could use, they appear to be limiting how much of this additional pipeline capacity to book.
Demand destruction prospectsOne would expect that the higher gas prices we are seeing would lead to some demand destruction as end users move to cheaper alternatives or simply choose to reduce operations due to high prices. We have seen this with fertilizer producers, whilst some metal processors have reduced operations due to higher electricity prices (which have been driven by the gas market). On the power generation side, it makes sense for gas-to-coal and gas-to-oil switching. Asian spot LNG is trading at an oil equivalent of a little more than US$200/bbl, whilst TTF is trading at an oil equivalent of around US$180/bbl.In Europe, looking at the dark and spark spreads for 2022, it is more profitable to burn coal than natural gas for power generation. This is even after taking into consideration the rally in EU carbon allowances. We already saw coal demand from the European power generation sector falling 4% YoY in 3Q21.However, given that European gas inventories are falling at a fairly quick pace, we are not seeing the demand destruction that some might expect, or think is needed.
Asian demand remains robustThe LNG market has offered little relief to Europe, with robust demand from Asia and in particular China. Spot Asian LNG has largely traded at a healthy premium to European prices. Therefore, there has been a clear incentive to send cargoes into Asia. China's LNG imports are up 23% YoY over the first 10 months of the year. China has also overtaken Japan this year to be the world's largest importer. Chinese demand has been supported by strong industrial demand along with growing demand from the power sector. China's ambitions for emissions to peak before 2030 should continue to prove supportive for LNG demand in the coming years.Looking at the forward curve, the Asian market is at a premium to Europe all the way through 2022, with the premium being at its widest early next year. Therefore, do not expect the LNG market to solve Europe's tightness. The region will need to continue to compete against Asia for spot LNG through 2022.
Limited growth in LNG export capacity in 2022The robust demand growth that we are seeing in Asia is coming at a time when there is limited LNG export capacity set to come online over the course of 2022. We estimate around 12mtpa of export capacity starting up over 2022 which would take total capacity to around 477mtpa. This compares to additional capacity of around 24mtpa in 2020 and 42mtpa in 2019. In fact, between 2021 and 2025 capacity is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3% vs. 8% between 2015-2020. It is only towards the end of 2025 and onwards where we see some significant capacity growth coming through from Qatar.This suggests that the LNG market should stay in a relatively healthy state through 2022. However, the clear risk to this view is a demand hit due to renewed Covid-related lockdowns or restrictions.
The statements, opinions and data contained in the content published in Global Gas Perspectives are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publisher and the editor(s) of Natural Gas World.
Turkish Digest: Lira's decline hangs over Turkey's people - Marketplace
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 00:34
Lira’s decline hangs over Turkey’s peopleSabri Ben-AchourDec 13, 2021Turkey’s inflation rate is over 20%, and the country’s central bank will likely cut interest rates again later this week, raising the inflation temperature. Turkey’s currency, the lira, has fallen to a new all-time low against the dollar on expectations of the rate cut.More:Lira's decline hangs over Turkey's people - Marketplace
Biden refuses to extend student loan relief, and some liberals are lashing out at him: 'I regret voting for Biden LYING A**!' - TheBlaze
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 00:31
The Biden administration announced that the pause in student loan payments over the pandemic will end, and many liberal voters lashed out angrily at Democrats.
Student loan payments will begin again on Feb. 1, 2022.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Friday that the Biden administration would not seek to extend the pause on student loan payment.
"A smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration," said Psaki. "The Department of Education is already communicating with borrowers to help them to prepare for return to repayment on February 1st and has secured contract extensions with loan servicers.''
Psaki said that the pause had benefitted about 41 million Americans who had outstanding student loans.
Many took to social media, including some progressive politicians, to bash the administration over the announcement.
"Biden ran on a promise of student loan relief, paving a way to help millions of people. Now student loan payments are set to begin on Feb 1st. Broken promises will lose is elections in 2022 & 2024. Biden we voted for you to follow through on your promises," replied self-described "drag artist" Marti Cummings.
"A note to Democrats who blame progressives after losing an election: Forcing millions to start paying student loans again and cutting off the Child Tax Credit at the start of an election year is not a winning strategy. We're warning you now, don't point fingers in November," responded far left Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).
"People need relief and they need it now. Pass the Build Back Better Act and cancel student debt," demanded Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
"This will be bad," claimed Mckayla Wilkes, a progressive candidate for Congress.
638,000 people have received student loan forgiveness under the Biden Administration & their lives have improved!\n\nBut let me get this straight: for the other 98.6% of borrowers, payments are turning on next month w/o any forgiveness at all? Not even the $10k?\n\nThis will be bad.
'-- Mckayla Wilkes for Congress (@Mckayla Wilkes for Congress) 1639424668 "The more and more emails I get about student loan payments starting back up the more and more I regret voting for Biden LYING ASS!" said one critic.
Among those upset about student loan repayment was Chase Buttigieg, the same-sex husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who mocked a message he received about his own student loan.
Biden has promised to push student loan forgiveness for up to $10,000 for each borrower, but progressives have called both for forgiveness up to $50,000 and for complete loan forgiveness altogether.
Critics of the progressive campaign to forgive student loans have pointed out that many of the beneficiaries of such a program would be high wage earners, and a program without caps would actually be a handout for some of the wealthiest in America.
Here's more about student loan debt forgiveness: Forgiving Student Loan Debt Will NEVER Work | Stu Does
For the 'funemployed,' unemployment is welcome - Los Angeles Times
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 00:18
Michael Van Gorkom was laid off by Yahoo in late April. He didn't panic. He didn't rush off to a therapist. Instead, the 33-year-old Santa Monica resident discovered that being jobless ''kind of settled nicely.''
Week one: ''I thought, 'OK . . . I need to send out resumes, send some e-mails, need to do networking.''
Week two: ''A little less.''
Every week since: ''I'm going to go to the beach and enjoy some margaritas.''
What most people would call unemployment, Van Gorkom embraced as ''funemployment.''
While millions of Americans struggle to find work as they face foreclosures and bankruptcy, others have found a silver lining in the economic meltdown. These happily jobless tend to be single and in their 20s and 30s. Some were laid off. Some quit voluntarily, lured by generous buyouts.
Buoyed by severance, savings, unemployment checks or their parents, the funemployed do not spend their days poring over job listings. They travel on the cheap for weeks. They head back to school or volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen. And at least till the bank account dries up, they're content living for today.
''I feel like I've been given a gift of time and clarity,'' said Aubrey Howell, 29, of Franklin, Tenn., who was laid off from her job as a tea shop manager in April. After sleeping in late and visiting family in Florida, she recently mused on Twitter: ''Unemployment or funemployment?''
Never heard of funemployment? Here's Urban Dictionary's definition: ''The condition of a person who takes advantage of being out of a job to have the time of their life. I spent all day Tuesday at the pool; funemployment rocks!''
It may not have entered our daily lexicon yet, but a small army of social media junkies with a sudden overabundance of time is busy Tweeting: ''Funemployment road trip to Portland.'' ''Funemployment is great for catching up on reading!'' ''Averaging 3 rounds of golf a week plus hockey and bball. who needs work?''
As frivolous as it sounds, funemployment is a statement about American society. Experts say it's both a reflection of the country's cultural narcissism -- and attitudes of entitlement and self-centeredness -- and a backlash against corporate America and its ''Dilbert"-like work environment.
''Recession gives people permission to be unemployed,'' said David Logan, a professor at USC's Marshall School of Business. ''Why not make use of the time and go do something fun?''
Jean Twenge, co-author of ''The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement,'' said in some cases, many employees had lost balance between work and life, with too many late nights and weekends spent at the office. When they stop working, they realize how much they had given up.
Nina Flores, 28, quit her job as a jury consultant in Costa Mesa on Feb. 1 and has no regrets.
''You figure out how much . . . you miss when maybe you're tied to your BlackBerry all the time or, in my case, traveling for work all the time,'' she said. ''I can't imagine doing that again and sacrificing everything I want to do for me. . . . I think it is a new way of thinking.''
For many younger people, Twenge said, work is less central to their lives. These days, more people than in the 1970s are saying they want jobs with a lot of vacation time, according to preliminary data from Twenge's generational surveys. Younger employees today also are less willing to work overtime. And, when asked if they would quit their jobs if they had money, more are answering ''yes,'' though the majority still say they would continue working.
''It really suggests there has been that generational shift that work is not the be all and end all,'' said Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State.
Flores said she finds herself looking into jobs she would have never considered before, even if it means taking a big pay cut. What's more important, she said, is flexibility, lots of vacation time and something that doesn't have ''that 9-to-5" feeling.
Amanda Rounsaville, 34, of Los Angeles quit her job as a program officer at the California Endowment in late March. A self-described workaholic who rarely called in sick or used vacation days, Rounsaville found a certain peace last month during her three-week trek through northern Mongolia with two friends, sleeping in $3-a-night, tent-like gers.
''I literally found myself smiling uncontrollably at being that far away from everything,'' Rounsaville said.
Enjoying the solitude, she found herself contemplating: ''Do we work to live or do we live to work? Do I have life goals that are not work goals?''
Both Flores and Rounsaville discovered that they like themselves better when they're not consumed by their jobs.
''This is the best version of me,'' Flores said, adding that she feels ''completely healthy,'' relaxed and focused.
Rounsaville agreed: ''The rat race puts blinders on you and makes time fly, and then the next thing you know, you've missed the chance to be your more exciting self, or to push yourself in a gutsier direction.''
For some in older generations, watching their children embrace an escape from responsibility is difficult. So while a young unemployed person might be saying, ''This is awesome. I'm having a really good time,'' their parents are probably asking, ''Haven't you gotten a job yet?'' Twenge said.
Flores' decision to quit her job was initially met by concern and worry by her parents and some friends, but she thinks it's partly because they simply can't relate. By the time her parents' generation reached their late 20s and early 30s, most were married with children.
Van Gorkom's father had a similar response. Since being laid off as Yahoo Music's director of user experience design, Van Gorkom said he has purchased a laptop and started shopping for a new couch, ''which my dad doesn't understand.'' As he spends money, his father is nervously asking Van Gorkom whether he needs any money.
USC's Logan isn't convinced funemployment is unique to this generation. The notion of slackers -- or whatever label is in vogue -- has been around for decades. What's different, he said, is the new social media that allows the unemployed to find each other and make plans through Facebook and Twitter.
Andy Deemer, one of Rounsaville's traveling companions, points out that they went to Mongolia with ''someone two people removed from me that I had only met once two years ago at a cocktail party.'' The 36-year-old New Yorker and college pal of Rounsaville's, said they connected with that third travel mate through Facebook and word of mouth.
The daily lives of the unemployed have never been more public. They can post online photos of globe-trotting vacations, blog about their long lunches and broadcast via Twitter the day's weighty choices, as @james6378 did last week when deciding between Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes cereals.
By thumbing their collective noses at employment, they also are sending a message to corporate America, Logan said.
''People are saying screw it and they're leaving companies,'' Logan said. ''We need to figure out how to make companies work better for everybody. Until that happens . . . early retirements and furloughs are going to continue. People are going to opt out of the system.''
Deemer, an independent filmmaker who also worked at CNET and, said he actually enjoyed corporate America, up until November when the Internet start-up he was working for failed to get financing. After it tanked, he sold his New York apartment, put his belongings in storage, turned his parents' Beijing home into base camp, and embarked on a spiritual quest to find various mystics and shamans around Asia.
''I'm a little worried,'' he said of his future financial stability. ''There's a nagging sense of fear that does gnaw at me when I consider it.''
But Deemer has taken big risks before in the name of fulfilling a dream. He quit his CNET job to make the low-budget cult movie ''Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead,'' which still makes him ''smile big.'' He expects no less from his Asian adventure.
With his friends in tow, Deemer has already managed to visit a fortuneteller in Myanmar and a tarot card reader in Thailand, and to spend a few days with Saffron Revolution monks near the Thailand-Myanmar border. In Mongolia, he searched 10 days for a reindeer-herding shaman, finally tracking her down on his last day.
She wore tight jeans, a glittery purple sweater and a rhinestone headband. She typed on a laptop. He found her both mystical and authentic, though when he returned from his Trans-Siberian adventure to Beijing, he felt unchanged.
But since he was seeking answers, the Mongolian shaman had one for him. On a Post-it, she wrote his fortune in Cyrillic. The last sentence, in a nutshell: Go back to work.
Harris rolls out plan for electric vehicle charging network | TheHill
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 00:03
The White House and Vice President Kamala Harris rolled out a plan on Monday for building out an electric vehicle charging network.
A fact sheet the White House released on the plan relies heavily on the bipartisan infrastructure law and existing actions it has taken, but there are some new announcements as well.
Those include the creation of a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation between the Energy and Transportation departments, which will be tasked with implementing the charging network and other electrification provisions in the law.
The law provides $7.5 billion to advance the buildout of an electric vehicle charging network.
"People who live in apartments...might not have a private driveway where they can install a plug," Harris said during remarks in Brandywine, Md.
"When we install public chargers, in rural, urban and suburban neighborhoods, we make it easier for people to go electric," she added.
The fact sheet also said that the White House will hold stakeholder meetings on the issue, and that the Energy and Transportation departments will create an electric vehicle advisory committee.
The Transportation Department will also publish guidance by Feb. 11 for states and cities to strategically deploy electric vehicle charging stations and will publish standards by May 13 to make sure chargers are functional, safe and accessible.
Deploying more electric vehicles doesn't just mean getting more electric cars on the road. It also involves building out infrastructure like charging stations in order to make sure people who buy these cars have places to fuel them.
Electric vehicles are a major component of the Biden administration's climate plan, though they will be even more effective if the administration is successful in its goal of shifting the country's electric power to clean sources.
Monday's announcement comes as the administration has been grappling with high gasoline prices in recent weeks, though they have fallen slightly and are expected to trend lower.
And it comes as additional incentives for electric vehicles are expected in Democrats' climate and social spending bill, which has yet to make it across the finish line. It contains tax credits worth up to $12,500 for consumers who purchase electric vehicles.
But, one of those incentives - a $4,500 tax credit for union-made electric vehicles - is facing opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key swing vote, and its future is uncertain.
Nevertheless, Harris touted the Democrats' bill during her remarks on Monday, calling the already passed bipartisan package just "part 1."
"Our bipartisan infrastructure law is part 1 of 2. Part 2 of 2 is the Build Back Better Act." she said.
"Our Build Back Better Act will cut the sticker price of new electric vehicles made in America by union workers by up to $12,500," she added, touting the package with the contentious provision included.
--Updated at 12:09 p.m.
One in Every 100 Seniors in US Died of COVID-19, CDC Data Show | News | teleSUR English
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 00:01
About one in every 100 Americans aged 65 years and older have died from COVID-19, according to the latest data of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
RELATED: COVID-19 Vaccines Donated by China Arrive in Nicaragua
A total of 590,089 people aged 65 and older have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, out of the 54.1 million individuals in this age population, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.
By Dec. 8, a total of 178,912 seniors aged between 65 and 74 have died from COVID-19. The 75-84 age group saw 203,422 deaths, while the 85 years and older group saw 207,755 deaths, CDC data show.
For people younger than 65, about 1 in about 1,400 Americans have died from COVID-19, The New York Times reported.
Older Americans had suffered more than other age groups from the pandemic. They have been known to be more vulnerable to severe cases and deaths.
The United States is bracing for a winter surge, driven by the Delta variant and the new Omicron strain. COVID-19 cases have increased by about 45 percent over the last month. The new threats have been especially stressful for senior people.
Omicron infection cases have been found in at least 29 U.S. states as of Monday, CDC data show.
THREAD: We can confirm 10 people have been hospitalised with the Omicron variant in England; these individuals were diagnosed on or before admission.
'-- UK Health Security Agency (@UKHSA) December 13, 2021
FEMA administrator blames climate change for deadly tornado outbreak | Fox News
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 23:58
Published December 12, 2021
Last Update 11 hrs ago
Criswell called such a severe and sustained outbreak of deadly storms this late in the year 'unprecedented'Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell laid blame on climate change for the deadly tornado outbreak over the weekend, claiming such disasters will be the "new normal" from now on.
"This is going to be our new normal," Criswell said during an appearance on CNN Sunday. "The effects we are seeing of climate change are the crisis of our generation," Criswell said. "We're taking a lot of efforts at FEMA to work with communities to help reduce the impacts that we're seeing from these severe weather events and help to develop system-wide projects that can help protect communities."
Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell. REUTERS/Gabrielle Crockett
Criswell's comments come after a tornado outbreak terrorized parts of the Midwest on Friday and Saturday, with more than 100 people feared dead and leaving thousands without power throughout much of Kentucky, Illinois, and Arkansas.
"This is Kentucky's most devastating tornado event in our history," Kentucky Gov. Andrew Beshear said at an event Sunday. "Nothing that was standing in the direct line of this tornado is still standing."
Dr. Milton West, senior minister of First Christian Church, talks about the damage done to the church and the plans for recovery. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
The nation's top emergency management official said such a severe and sustained outbreak of deadly storms this late in the year is "unprecedented," but she noted that FEMA is doing everything it can to help people impacted by the storms.
A car sits among the remains of a destroyed house after a tornado in Dawson Springs, Ky. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb) (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)
"I think there is still hope, right?" she said. "We sent one of our federal urban search and rescue teams down to Kentucky. They arrived yesterday. They'll be able to assist the localities with their ongoing rescue efforts. I think there is still hope, and we should continue to try to find as many people as we can."
Criswell's comments come after President Biden said it was too early to tell whether climate change could have played a role in the outbreak, saying he would have the Environmental Protection Agency assess the possibility.
Michael Lee is a writer at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee
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Ancilla on Twitter: "@THErealDVORAK @adamcurry" / Twitter
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 22:20
Ancilla : @THErealDVORAK @adamcurry
Sun Dec 12 19:16:14 +0000 2021
theoldcfo : @ncilla @THErealDVORAK @adamcurry So now they're trying to shame me into eating roaches?
Mon Dec 13 13:51:26 +0000 2021
Scott O Clark : @ncilla @adamcurry @THErealDVORAK What are lobsterðŸ...ž, crab ðŸ... , and crawfishðŸ...ž but bugs ðŸ'.
Mon Dec 13 00:26:22 +0000 2021
LoosePickles : @ncilla @THErealDVORAK @adamcurry ITM 🖖
Mon Dec 13 00:23:13 +0000 2021
Mienona #coronapasboycot : @ncilla @THErealDVORAK @adamcurry Hope you're not a douchebag ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚
Sun Dec 12 23:57:51 +0000 2021
Stefan Scheele : @ncilla @adamcurry @THErealDVORAK hearing the ''Ilovebugs'' jingle inside my head now. #itm #noagenda
Sun Dec 12 23:14:34 +0000 2021
TOMG 👺 : @ncilla @THErealDVORAK @adamcurry Many people across the world go hunting to get their food. I ask: is it racist no'...
Sun Dec 12 22:53:51 +0000 2021
Thoren : @ncilla @THErealDVORAK @adamcurry I wouldn't want to culturally appropriate that from them.
Sun Dec 12 22:42:30 +0000 2021
Eeuwe : @ncilla @THErealDVORAK @adamcurry Wow, prediction of 5-10 years ago?
Sun Dec 12 19:20:37 +0000 2021
log4shell/ at main · NCSC-NL/log4shell · GitHub
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 21:59
Carbon BlackCloud Workload ApplianceUnknownMitigationMore information on pages linked bottom of blogpost (behind login)sourceCarbon BlackEDR ServersUnknownMitigationMore information on pages linked bottom of blogpost (behind login)sourceCerberusFTPUnknownNot vulnsourceCerebrateCerebrateAllNot vulnsourceCheckpointQuantum Security GatewayUnknownNot vulnsourceCheckpointQuantum Security ManagementUnknownNot vulnsourceCheckpointCloudGuardUnknownNot vulnsourceCheckpointInfinity PortalUnknownNot vulnsourceCheckpointHarmony Endpoint & Harmony MobileUnknownNot vulnsourceCheckpointSMBUnknownNot vulnsourceCheckpointThreatCloudUnknownNot vulnsourceChefInfra ServerAllNot vulnsourceChefAutomateAllNot vulnsourceChefBackendAllNot vulnsourceCiscoGeneral Cisco DisclaimerCisco is updating their advisory three times a day, please keep their website in your watchlist. We will try to update accordinglyCiscoAnyConnect Secure Mobility ClientAll versionsNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco SocialMinerAll versionsNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Extensible Network Controller (XNC)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus Data BrokerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus InsightsUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS)All versionsNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco AMP Virtual Private Cloud ApplianceUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) SoftwareUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Advanced Web Security Reporting ApplicationUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Content Security Management Appliance (SMA)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Email Security Appliance (ESA)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Firepower 4100 SeriesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Firepower 9300 Security AppliancesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Firepower Management CenterUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Identity Services Engine (ISE)UnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Web Security Appliance (WSA)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco ACI Multi-Site OrchestratorUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco CloudCenter Suite AdminUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco CloudCenter Workload ManagerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Connected Grid Device ManagerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Connected Mobile ExperiencesUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Crosswork Change AutomationUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco DNA AssuranceUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Elastic Services Controller (ESC)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco IoT Field Network Director (formerly Cisco Connected Grid Network Management System)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Modeling LabsUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Network PlannerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus Dashboard (formerly Cisco Application Services Engine)<2.1.2VulnerablePatch expected 7-jan-2022sourceCiscoCisco Optical Network PlannerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Policy SuiteUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Central for Service ProvidersUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Prime Collaboration AssuranceUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Collaboration ManagerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Prime Collaboration ProvisioningUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime InfrastructureUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Prime License ManagerUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Network RegistrarUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Optical for Service ProvidersUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime ProvisioningUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Service CatalogUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco UCS Performance ManagerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Virtual Topology System - Virtual Topology Controller (VTC) VMUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco WAN Automation Engine (WAE)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco ACI Virtual EdgeUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco ASR 5000 Series RoutersUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco DNA CenterUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Enterprise NFV Infrastructure Software (NFVIS)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco GGSN Gateway GPRS Support NodeUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco IOS and IOS XE SoftwareUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco IOx Fog DirectorUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco IP Services Gateway (IPSG)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco MDS 9000 Series Multilayer SwitchesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco MME Mobility Management EntityUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Mobility Unified Reporting and Analytics SystemUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Network Assurance EngineUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Network Convergence System 2000 SeriesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus 5500 Platform SwitchesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus 5600 Platform SwitchesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus 6000 Series SwitchesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus 7000 Series SwitchesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Nexus 9000 Series Fabric Switches in Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) modeUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco PDSN/HA Packet Data Serving Node and Home AgentUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco PGW Packet Data Network GatewayUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco SD-WAN vEdge 1000 Series RoutersUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco SD-WAN vEdge 2000 Series RoutersUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco SD-WAN vEdge 5000 Series RoutersUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco SD-WAN vEdge Cloud Router PlatformUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco SD-WAN vManageUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Secure Network Analytics (SNA), formerly StealthwatchUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco System Architecture Evolution Gateway (SAEGW)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco HyperFlex SystemUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco UCS ManagerUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco BroadWorksUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Broadcloud CallingUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Computer Telephony Integration Object Server (CTIOS)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Contact Center Domain Manager (CCDM)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Contact Center Management Portal (CCMP)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Emergency ResponderUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Enterprise Chat and EmailUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco FinesseUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Packaged Contact Center EnterpriseUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Paging Server (InformaCast)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Paging ServerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Attendant Console AdvancedUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Attendant Console Business EditionUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Attendant Console Department EditionUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Attendant Console Enterprise EditionUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Attendant Console Premium EditionUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Contact Center EnterpriseUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Contact Center ExpressUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified Customer Voice PortalUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Unified Intelligent Contact Management EnterpriseUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Unified SIP Proxy SoftwareUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Virtualized Voice BrowserUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoExony Virtualized Interaction Manager (VIM)UnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Expressway SeriesUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Meeting ServerUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco TelePresence Management SuiteUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco TelePresence Video Communication Server (VCS)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Vision Dynamic Signage DirectorUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Mobility Services EngineUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco CX Cloud Agent SoftwareUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Cloud Email SecurityUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Cognitive IntelligenceUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Common Services Platform CollectorUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco ConnectivityUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco DNA SpacesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Defense OrchestratorUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco IntersightUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco IoT Operations DashboardUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Kinetic for CitiesUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco Network Assessment (CNA) ToolUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoCisco UmbrellaUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoManaged Services Accelerator (MSX) Network Access Control ServiceUnknownInvestigationsourceCiscoAppDynamics<21.12.0FixsourceCiscoCisco Webex Meetings ServerUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Evolved Programmable Network ManagerUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Integrated Management Controller (IMC) SupervisorUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Intersight Virtual ApplianceUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco UCS DirectorUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise - Live Data serverUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Video Surveillance Operations ManagerUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Unified Communications Manager CloudUnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoCisco Webex Cloud-Connected UC (CCUC)UnknownVulnerablesourceCiscoDuoUnknownFixsourceCiscoCisco Jabber GuestAll versionsNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Cloud Services Platform 2100All versionsNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Cloud Services Platform 5000 SeriesAll versionsNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Tetration AnalyticsAll versionsNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Adaptive Security Device ManagerUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Registered Envelope ServiceUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Business Process AutomationUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco CloudCenter Action OrchestratorUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Container PlatformUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Access RegistrarUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Cable ProvisioningUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Collaboration DeploymentUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime IP ExpressUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Network RegistrarUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Prime Performance ManagerUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Security ManagerUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco UCS Central SoftwareUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco IOS XR SoftwareUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Nexus 3000 Series SwitchesUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches in standalone NX-OS modeUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco UCS C-Series Rack Servers - Integrated Management ControllerUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Hosted Collaboration Mediation FulfillmentUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Unified Communications Domain ManagerUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Unified Communications Manager / Cisco Unified Communications Manager Session Management EditionUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Unified Communications Manager IM & Presence Service (formerly CUPS)UnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Unified Intelligence CenterUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Unity ConnectionUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Unity ExpressUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Ultra Packet CoreUnknownNot vulnsourceCiscoCisco Smart Software Manager On-PremUnknownNot vulnsourceCIS-CATCIS-CAT Pro Assessor4.12.0 and belowVulnerableFound by manual scanning[proof] ( ADCUnknownInvestigationImplementation not using WlonNS feature, is not impactedsourceCitrixNetScaler GatewayUnknownInvestigationsourceCitrixAnalyticsUnknownInvestigationsourceCitrixApplication Delivery Management (NetScaler MAS)UnknownNot vulnsourceCitrixHypervisor (XenServer)UnknownNot VulnsourceCitrixSD-WANUnknownInvestigationsourceCitrixVirtual Apps and Desktops (XenApp & XenDesktop)UnknownInvestigationsourceCitrixWorkspaceUnknownInvestigationsourceCitrixWorkspace AppUnknownNot vulnsourceCitrixSharefileUnknownInvestigationsourcecPanelcPanelUnknownMitigationsourceCommvaultAll productsAll versionsNot vulnerablesourceCommvaultCloud Apps & Oracle & MS-SQLAll supported versionsvulnerablesourceConnect2idConnect2id server< 12.5.1FixsourceConnectwisePerchUnknownFixsourceConnectwiseManage on-premise's Global SearchUnknownMitigationsourceConnectwiseMarketplaceUnknownMitigationsourceConnectwiseGlobal search capability of Manage CloudUnknownMitigationsourceConnectwiseStratoZenUnknownMitigationUrgent action for self-hosted versionssourceContrastHosted SaaS EnviromentsAllFixsourceContrastOn-premises (EOP) EnvironmentsAllFix/MitigationsourceContrastJava AgentAllNot vulnsourceContrastScanAllFixsourceControlUpAll productsAll versionsFixsourceCoralogixCoralogixUnknownFixsourceCouchbaseCouchbase ElasticSearch connector< 4.3.3 & 4.2.13FixsourceCryptshareCryptshare ServerAllNot vulnsourceCryptshareCryptshare for OutlookAllNot vulnsourceCryptshareCryptshare for NotesAllNot vulnsourceCryptshareCryptshare for NTA 7516AllNot vulnsourceCryptshareCryptshare .NET APIAllNot vulnsourceCryptshareCryptshare Java APIAllNot vulnsourceCryptshareCryptshare RobotAllNot vulnsourceCyberarkPAS Self HostedNot VulnsourceCybereasonAll Cybereason productsUnknownNot vulnsource
Defense Spending Bill Contains 'Most Significant' UFO Legislation Since 1960s - Nextgov
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 16:56
Tucked into the latest, more-than-2,000-page version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022 is a provision that would mandate the formal establishment of a federal office, organizational structure, and authorities to confront unidentified aerial phenomena, the Defense Department's modern term for UFOs.
Members of the United States' UAP community are celebrating the detailed inclusion, arguing that it goes farther than almost any legislation ever proposed'--with a real chance of passing.
''I think it's probably the most significant legislation to target this topic since probably 1969, since Blue Book,'' Tim McMillan, a retired police lieutenant and writer who co-founded the science and technology news website The Debrief, told Nextgov on Thursday. ''In fact, there were a lot of specific things that were named and outlined in the legislation, some of which are still included now, that have not been discussed before.''
DOD has a long and very complicated history addressing objects in the sky that appear to perform in ways that transcend the capabilities of today's technology. Still, there are heaps of credible reports spanning decades from current and former military personnel who claim to have seen'--and at times been put at risk by'--what they've perceived as UAP.
''We need a meaningful collection strategy and innovative and iterative analysis to support it,'' former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Christopher Mellon told Nextgov via email this week.
Launched in the 1950's, Project Blue Book was a codename for the Air Force's UFO studies, until it was disbanded in 1969. In the 2000s, Congress approved millions in funding to back the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP. That effort encompassing UFO sighting-aligned research was unclassified but unpublicized, and existed for less than a decade.
More recently, after mounting public pressure, the Pentagon released and validated the authenticity of three videos depicting Navy officials encountering a baffling, UAP-type object. At that time last year, DOD also announced its formation of a UAP Task Force to investigate the seemingly unexplainable happenings. The group submitted an analysis to Congress this summer that confirmed there were 144 reliable reports of such phenomena originating from government sources'--80 of which involved observations with multiple sensors'--between 2004 and 2021. Then, this month, the Pentagon unveiled the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, or AOIMSG, as the successor UAP Task Force.
DOD's memo on AOIMSG's standing is relatively brief. The NDAA provision outlining the sort of office Congress views as appropriate to make sense of UAP, on the other hand, is quite thorough.
''It's a lot more detailed, and so we have a better idea of what would be the responsibility and role'--whereas, besides just having a horrible acronym, this other office is really largely left up to the discretion of the Department of Defense, and the undersecretary for intelligence as to how much or how little they're going to investigate,'' McMillan explained. ''It kind of goes back to that weird place that nobody wants to talk about, which is how effectively can the government work on a complex problem?''
The provision that would mandate the office was put forward by multiple lawmakers, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who recently expressed concerns about briefings she received from UAP Task Force investigators, which motivated her proposal.
Her NDAA text outlines a wide range of the potential office's responsibilities'--and it's inclusions shed new light on some of what the government knows but hasn't widely shared regarding some of these encounters.
For instance, according to the legislation '''unidentified aerial phenomena' means'--(A) airborne objects that are not immediately identifiable; (B) transmedium objects or devices; and (C) submerged objects or devices that are not immediately identifiable and that display behavior or performance characteristics suggesting that the objects or devices may be related to the objects'' previously referred to in the text.
''The significance is the inclusion of both. Some objects have been observed moving into and out of the ocean (a liquid) and into the atmosphere (a gas) seemingly unencumbered by traditional Newtonian physics and aerodynamic pressures,'' Mellon wrote. ''Some of these same objects may also be able to operate in the vacuum of space, clearly impossible for conventional air-breathing means of propulsion.''
McMillan added that this inclusion of such inexplicable objects ''kind of goes into the mystery of the whole topic.''
''It is surprising to see it in there, but yet at the same time, especially for me, it was very gratifying because when we first launched The Debrief a year ago, I reported on several intelligence memos that had been released and distributed throughout the Intelligence Community on this by the Task Force,'' he said.
The legislation includes a long list of information that would need to be compiled in reports for Congress, which the office would be mandated to complete by next October, and annually after through 2026. Among other elements, such reports would need to describe UAP-aligned incidents that occur each year'--and comprehensive details about those ''associated with military nuclear assets, including strategic nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered ships and submarines.''
Text of the bill also calls for the report to contain ''an assessment of any health-related effects for individuals that have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena.''
''That was really intriguing because that's definitely something that I have heard had kept coming up inside from the people who have been working on it for the government formerly, or even some of the past programs, like AATIP,'' McMillan said. ''That was something that was definitely a part of it, but it was not something we'd heard discussed recently at all. And I thought that was pretty significant because obviously, you know, a lot of this stuff, I think'--arguments against this'--is largely anecdotal. But if you've got people that are injured, that's a serious deal. Something caused that, so what's going on?''
In the bill are also requirements for more expansive data analyses, semi-annual briefings to certain Congressional committees and new field investigations directly where the incidents and sightings are reported.
''DOD has conducted field investigations since Roswell in 1947,'' Mellon explained.
Initially, those were undertaken by the Air Force under secret codenames. Subsequently, the Air Force Special Investigations Office spent many years on investigation and ''cover-up/counterintelligence efforts'' related to UAP, according to the former defense executive, and the Defense Intelligence Agency also had programs involved in field investigations.
''There are quite a few others also, both foreign and domestic, and conducted by both DOD and IC offices, including efforts undertaken by contractors,'' Mellon said. ''But this new effort is from Congress, explicitly in the public interest, with a requirement to report all current, future and past events to Congress for the first time in history.''
More of the legislative process must pan out before the text inclusions could become federal mandates. The NDAA conference report, or language both chambers' Armed Services Committee leaders agreed upon, was passed by the House on Tuesday.
Next, the Senate must vote on the report.
''Obviously a lot of people would be upset [if the NDAA passed without this provision]. There's a considerable number of people who are conspiracy-prone in the UFO community, who follow the topic. So, they're already inclined to believe in widespread conspiracies and government cover-ups'--and that's only going to fuel that,'' McMillan noted. ''And it would be really disheartening, especially at a time when there is this kind of lack of trust and faith in government.''
Brazilian Ministry of Health suffers cyberattack and COVID-19 vaccination data vanishes | ZDNet
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 16:52
Websites under Brazil's Ministry of Health (MoH) have suffered a major ransomware attack that resulted in the unavailability of COVID-19 vaccination data of millions of citizens.
Following that attack that took place at around 1 am today, all of MoH's websites, including ConecteSUS, which tracks the trajectory of citizens in the public healthcare system, became unavailable. This includes the COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate, which is available via the ConecteSUS app.
According to a message left by the Lapsus$ Group, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, some 50TB worth of data has been extracted from the MoH's systems and subsequently deleted. "Contact us if you want the data returned", the message said, alongside contact details for the authors of the attack.
Just before 7 am, the images with the message left by the hackers were removed, but the websites remained unavailable.
The image left by the hackers claiming the Ministry of Health attack
Following the attack, Brazilian health minister Marcelo Queiroga said his department holds a backup of the data allegedly copied and erased from the national health service's databases. The National Data Protection Authority (ANPD) said it is following up on the case.
ANPD said the Ministry of Health was notified to provide clarifications on the case, as determined by the country's General Data Protection Regulations. It added Institutional Security Office and the Federal Police will be contacted to cooperate with the investigation and inspection of the attack.
In September, the incident follows a previous attack on the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa). The attack was focused on the healthcare declaration for travelers, compulsory for individuals entering Brazil via airports.
The attack took place soon after the cancellation of the World Cup qualifier match between Brazil and Argentina, whereby Anvisa interrupted the game after four Argentinian players were accused of breaking COVID-19 travel protocols.
Similarly, the latest issue faced by the Ministry of Health occurs amid increasing pressure on the Brazilian government to demand COVID-19 vaccination certificates from international travelers coming to Brazil as a response to the rise of the omicron variant.
This is not the first major security issue faced by Brazil's Ministry of Health over the last few months. In November 2020, the personal and health information of more than 16 million Brazilian COVID-19 patients were leaked online after a hospital employee uploaded a spreadsheet with usernames, passwords, and access keys to sensitive government systems on GitHub.
Less than a week later, another major security incident emerged. The personal information of more than 243 million Brazilians, including alive and deceased, was exposed online after web developers left the password for a crucial government database inside the source code of an official MoH website for at least six months.
Duke Bradford, et al. v. Secretary Martin J. Walsh, et al. | Pacific Legal Foundation
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 16:37
Active: Federal lawsuit filed to restore separation of powers
Duke Bradford grew up in Nebraska, attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and had law school in his sights. But the pull of Colorado's mountains where he skied once a year as a child was stronger. His two seasons as a snowmobile guide and ski patroller sparked the idea for a rafting company , and in 1998, Duke opened Arkansas Valley Adventures (AVA).
Today, AVA employs 250 people who provide a full slate of outdoor experiences that stretch throughout the year'--something for every season. While proud of all its services, Duke considers the guided, multi-day river rafting wilderness trips AVA's best offering. After 24 hours without cell phones, people begin to embrace their unplugged environment, connect with nature, and reconnect with themselves.
His guides are outdoor enthusiasts, including college students who spend their summers working in Colorado. Others have turned their passion for the outdoors into a lifestyle, working winters at ski resorts or as river guides in other states or countries. When they arrive in Colorado each spring, they work as often as they can during the busy season, almost always more than 40 hours a week.
With atypical workweeks that last only as long as the rafting season, they're paid a flat fee per trip based on the federal minimum wage plus a fixed wage above that rate, not to mention gratuities from customers, grateful for their time spent becoming one with nature.
This arrangement has been a longtime boon and an industry standard for those with the expertise to navigate America's wilderness for the benefit of millions of tourists every year.
A new federal rule, however, threatens to wipe out the entire business model for Duke and thousands of other outfitting firms like his in 2022, before the snow even melts.
Because Colorado's rivers flow through federal land, rafting businesses depend on special use permits permitted by federal law. The outfitters pay the federal government a fixed percentage of service fees in exchange for a yearly lease to conduct rafting trips on lands owned or managed by the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in implementing an Executive Order signed by President Biden, has ordered all federal contractors to pay a $15-per-hour minimum wage, plus overtime, starting January 30, 2022. The rule's absurdly broad definition of ''contractors'' wraps in more than a half-million private firms, including 45,000 that provide concessions or recreational services'--like rafting outfitters'--whose only ties to the federal government are special land use permits or licenses.
Unlike a shift worker at a manufacturing facility or a grocery store with regular hours, the new wage mandate simply doesn't make sense for a workplace structure in which back-to-back rafting trips can take days. Nor do these workers qualify for any other federal benefits.
Without the flexibility to pay wilderness guides per-trip wages, employers will be left with little choice but to cut the length of trips, cut the guides' hours, or radically raise fees. Bottom line, they must restrict access to the outdoors to only the very wealthy who can pay more, or else go out of business.
A rule that forces wage policy on anyone who uses federal land is bad enough. But the way it went on the books is corrosive to the rule of law.
Congress holds the authority over the scope of wage laws, has set clear limits, and has pointedly declined to mandate wages for employers who merely use federal lands. Under cover of a 1940s-era procurement statute, however, the president sidestepped Congress, displaced at least five wage-related laws, and gave the DOL policy-making power over anyone with any kind of financial relationship with the federal government.
An executive power grab to force a social agenda through federal contractors is chilling. It's also unconstitutional. Neither workplace wages nor any other legislative policy should be subject to the whims of whoever occupies the White House.
Duke, and the nonprofit Colorado River Outfitters Association, are fighting back in federal court. They're challenging the executive order mandating workers' pay structure. A win will restore not only their right to pursue livelihoods free of undue government interference, but also the proper separation of powers between Congress and the president.
What's At Stake? Only Congress can make law setting minimum wages. Congress did not authorize the Department of Labor to change minimum wage laws, and the Constitution does not allow legislation based on the whims of whoever occupies the White House. Government shouldn't threaten livelihoods by imposing a one-size-fits-all employment model that is incompatible with unique work structures of different industries. Federal procurement authority is abused when it's used to set social policy. A president who imposes wage mandates on private workers whose only connection to the federal government is a special use permit can force any manner of social agenda on any American. Case Timeline December 07, 2021 ComplaintThe United States District Court for the District of Colorado
'Don't Look Up' Nails the Media Apocalypse - The New York Times
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 16:17
The Media Equation
With ''Don't Look Up,'' Adam McKay makes a star-studded allegorical satire that shows the news media whistling past the climate-change graveyard.
Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry in the Netflix climate-change comedy ''Don't Look Up.'' Credit... Niko Tavernise/Netflix Dec. 12, 2021
After the president, a former nude model, tries to cover up a major discovery, two astronomers leak the news to a New York newspaper known for its Gothic banner, which the new film ''Don't Look Up'' calls The New York Herald: A comet is going to destroy the earth in six months.
The journalists are sober and passionate as they get down to work in a glass conference room. They publish the blockbuster, then send the pair of scientists off to an influential morning news program, ''The Daily Rip'' '-- think ''Morning Joe,'' with a dash of ''Live With Kelly and Ryan'' '-- to promote the news. And that's when things start to go awry. ''Keep it light, fun,'' one producer tells the scientists, who are played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio. As soon as they sit down, the Joe Scarborough proxy, played by an irresistible Tyler Perry, leans in to ask what's really on his mind: Is there life on other planets?
After putting up with the morning-show-style banter for much of the segment, Jennifer Lawrence's character has had enough. ''Maybe the destruction of the entire planet isn't supposed to be fun,'' she yells. ''Maybe it's supposed to be terrifying and unsettling and you should stay up all night, every night, crying.''
The clip of her losing it on the air earns wide attention '-- as a meme that gets likes and laughs on social media. Her boyfriend, a reporter for a sardonic news site called Autopsy, moves fast to make the most of her outburst under a two-sentence headline that's its own kind of internet clich(C): ''You Know the Crazy Chick Who Thinks We're All Going to Die? I Actually Slept With Her.''
Back at The Herald, a social media specialist delivers a slick PowerPoint presentation to show that the story isn't driving much traffic. The news cycle moves on.
I'm a little hesitant to praise a political movie, because Hollywood's political statements tend to be vapid. Talk is cheap, and an impassioned outburst at an awards show is free. True spontaneous passion is usually reserved for, say, defending the method acting involved in the show ''Succession.'' What makes ''Don't Look Up'' interesting is that its writer and director, Adam McKay, is putting his money, and his career, where his mouth is.
Since breaking out with ''Anchorman,'' a broad parody of local TV news, he has made a pair of films with a political edge, ''The Big Short,'' a gonzo take on the financial crisis, and ''Vice,'' the bitterly comic story of Vice President Dick Cheney. ''Don't Look Up'' has a raft of stars '-- the president is played by Meryl Streep '-- and the familiar arc of big-budget disaster flicks like ''Armageddon'' or ''The Day After Tomorrow.'' But while all of Mr. McKay's films have been attuned to the intertwined roles of media and politics, this is his first movie since ''Anchorman'' to put the news media squarely in its sights.
The new opus shows Mr. McKay as ''one of America's most incisive media critics, even if he's not necessarily recognized that way,'' said David Sirota, a co-producer of the film, who is better known as a combative journalist who advised Senator Bernie Sanders during his 2020 presidential campaign and now runs The Daily Poster, an investigative news site.
Mr. McKay said he tried five different ideas that would allow him to make a movie about the climate crisis, but nothing worked. ''How do you tell this story, the biggest story in 66 million years, without exaggeration, since the Chicxulub comet, bigger than the Black Plague, bigger than Krakatoa?'' he said in an interview, describing the question that kept him up at night.
''How can we be looking at the greatest story in human history,'' he continued, ''but most nights I'm not hearing it talked about '-- or when it is being talked about, it's in the fourth block, or the ninth story down?''
Image Adam McKay struggled when he started to plan a film about the climate crisis: ''How do you tell this story, the biggest story in 66 million years?'' Credit... Theo Wargo/Getty Images He hit on the solution while talking one night in January 2019 with Mr. Sirota, who was venting about the news media's passive reaction to climate change, saying it was as though a meteor was headed for earth and no one seemed to get it. Soon, the two were texting plot points back and forth.
''Don't Look Up'' is populated by politicians and Silicon Valley madmen denying reality for their own reasons, behaving in ways that are recognizably self-interested and deluded. But the real villain is a news media that is forever chasing after a distracted audience and, as a result, simply '... cannot '... focus.
When the two scientists emphasize the reality of the coming apocalypse during their appearance on ''The Daily Rip,'' the host played by Mr. Perry is singularly focused on one thing: whether the meteor will take out his ex-wife's house in Florida. The other host, played by Cate Blanchett as a charming, hyper-educated, amoral stand-in for Mika Brzezinski, is more interested in the DiCaprio character's nerdy sex appeal.
(I did ask Mr. McKay if we could have a moratorium on fictional female journalists sleeping with their subjects, even if they're Mr. DiCaprio in the guise of a nerdy scientist. He replied that ''the funnest characters are the ones who are sleeping with people and a little reprehensible.'')
One of the charms of ''Don't Look Up'' is that none of its characters are immune to the vanities of this media age. At one point, a high-minded NASA official who is trying to save the planet is pictured rejoicing that a pop star, played by Ariana Grande, has reunited with her boyfriend.
''That's me calling myself out,'' Mr. McKay said. ''I am in no way above this. I really want Ben Affleck and J. Lo to find happiness together, and I really am excited about what next thing is Taco Bell going to make '-- is it a burrito full of little burritos?''
In a twist right out of the movie itself, much of the publicity for ''Don't Look Up'' has been focused on Hollywood gossip. Early in the rollout, Mr. McKay told Vanity Fair that he hadn't spoken with his longtime partner Will Ferrell, the star of ''Anchorman'' and other McKay films, including ''Step Brothers'' and ''Talladega Nights,'' since he cast a different actor to play the lead in a planned HBO series about the Los Angeles Lakers.
Seeing a Hollywood spat push aside an earnest message on climate change was ''almost hilariously ironic,'' Mr. McKay said. (Then he spent a few more minutes talking about how the chatter about him and Mr. Ferrell wasn't quite accurate. For the record: ''That's not why Will and I split up '-- we'd been split up for three months. That turned us into not talking.'' OK!)
Mr. McKay was also unable to stay out of the fray over the actor Jeremy Strong's interview with The New Yorker last week about his role in the show ''Succession,'' of which Mr. McKay is also an executive producer.
Good journalism is always a balance between telling people what they want to hear and what they need to know. Mr. McKay's contention is that decades of a hyperactive media market, and years of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, have thrown things out of whack.
I was reminded of that point the other night at the introduction of a new journalism program named in honor of Harry Evans, the crusading Times of London editor who came to New York after refusing to do the bidding of the paper's owner, Rupert Murdoch. Mr. Evans, the historian Simon Schama recalled, had been a ''hot-metal journalist'' who had overcome British legal restrictions to expose the ravages of the drug thalidomide in the 1970s. His great subject, Mr. Schama noted, was corporate malfeasance.
''If he were here now, he would say the slow death of the earth isn't a small thing to get upset about,'' Mr. Schama said.
We don't live, exactly, in the world of an Adam McKay satire. My colleague Dennis Overbye wrote last week that when he brought word of a dangerous asteroid to a New York Times news meeting in 1998, the reaction was ''purposeful pandemonium,'' not denial. And ''Morning Joe'' gets more criticism for doom-saying about American democracy than for frivolity.
When it comes to the climate story, the media's failings are undeniable, and there is still a wide gap between the urgency and the attention it commands. However, the journalism on the topic has grown more urgent in tone and more widely seen over the last few years. It's harder-edged, more numerate and more closely connected to the floods, fires and December tornadoes that have upended millions of people's lives.
But great satire amplifies obvious truths, and there's no doubt that ''Don't Look Up'' contains those moments of recognition. David Roberts, the author of the clean energy newsletter Volts, called it ''the first good movie about climate change.''
The global failure to slow carbon emissions, like the failure to control the Covid-19 pandemic, is partly a story about hard science. But it's more about society's ability or inability to take action, and the news media had played a large role in that willful turning away from a difficult truth. ''Don't Look Up'' ends '-- spoiler alert! '-- badly for humanity, but before it does, a Fox News-style host whistles manically past the grave. We'll be moving on, he tells his viewers as the world is ending, to ''the story that everyone is talking about tonight '-- topless urgent care centers.''
Stock Market Crash: Expert Warns of 43% Drop After Fed Pulls Support
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 15:25
RIA Advisors' Michael Lebowitz says stocks are in a bubble. He warned that monetary stimulus is what's holding up the market. He said it's likely that stocks plunge 43% or more sometime over the next two years. With stocks up an extraordinary 102% since their March 2020 lows, thanks in large part to unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus, the hot questions on Wall Street are as follows:
Are stocks in a bubble?If so, what is the extent of the bubble?And if stocks are in a bubble, when will it pop?For Michael Lebowitz, portfolio manager at RIA Advisors, which manages around $1 billion in assets, the answers lie in a comparison to the dot-com bubble.
In recent commentary, he laid out two reasons why stocks are actually in a worse position today than they were during the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.
The first reason is valuation. The market's average valuation is extended at the moment by just about any measure you use. Bank of America recently echoed this, saying three-quarters of the valuation indicators it watches are historically high.
The most standard measure '-- the Schiller price-to-earnings ratio '-- is right around the level it was during the dot-com bubble.
RIA Advisors Then there's price-to-sales, at an all-time high.
RIA Advisors The number of individual stocks trading above a 10x price-to-sales ratio is also at a high.
Leuthold Group And there's the so-called Warren Buffett indicator, market capitalization-to-GDP, hitting record highs as well.
RIA Adviors "In 1999, equity valuations stood at unprecedented peaks, even dwarfing those of 1929," Lebowitz said.
"At the time, investors were euphoric, as if the rally were eternal. Newbies were killing it, and veterans were cleaning up like never before. Some stocks were rising 10, 20, and even 30% or more in a day. Companies adding dot-com to their name or discussing new internet technology saw huge pops in their share prices. Investors bought the narrative with little to no due diligence."
He added: "Sound familiar? Not only is today's speculative environment eerily similar to the late '90s, but valuations, in many cases, are frothier than that period."
Second, Lebowitz said stocks are worse off today than in 1999 because the economic fundamentals were stronger then than they are now. He laid out the following comparisons:
RIA Advisors "Economic and earnings growth rates today are weaker than 20 years ago," Lebowitz said. "Further, debt levels, measured as a ratio to GDP, are much higher today. Productivity growth and demographics, two significant factors determining economic growth, are weighing on economic growth today. In the '90s, they were strong economic tailwinds."
The difference today, Lebowitz said, is that the Federal Reserve is propping up asset prices through its quantitative easing program. But when the Fed pulls back support '-- which it may have to do to rope in inflation '-- stocks will fall, he said. After all, a bubble, by definition, occurs when prices are much higher than their underlying fundamentals account for.
But when will the so-called bubble pop? Likely sometime within the next two years, Lebowitz said. And it could be long and drawn out: The dot-com crash of over 40% took a few years to bottom out.
According to a regression analysis looking at 20-year forward returns based on valuations, returns based on 2003 levels would put the S&P 500 at 2,655. That would be about a 43% crash from current levels, around 4,670. But Lebowitz said it could even be worse than that.
"A 43% decline is harsh, but it will only leave the index at fair value based on the last 40 years of CAPE levels. Quite often, markets revert below their means," he said.
RIA Advisors The bigger pictureA number of strategists and money managers share Lebowitz's views in one way or another.
David Wright, the cofounder and co-portfolio manager of $9.6 billion Sierra Investment Management, told Insider last week that there's a fifty-fifty chance that stocks already peaked in November. He said he sees a 50% decline ahead.
John Hussman, the president of the Hussman Investment Trust, wrote an unscheduled note to investors in late November because he saw an unprecedented number of internal indicators showing a peak.
Bank of America's chief US equity strategist Savita Subramanian also said in mid-November that she sees stocks falling 20% over the next 12 months, though her 2022 S&P 500 price target is 4,600, about 1% below its current level. Her peer at Morgan Stanley, Mike Wilson, has a 4,400 target for next year.
Bank of America Others see the bull market raging on. They include strategists at Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and RBC Capital Markets, which all have targets at 5,000 or above.
There's no denying that stocks are extended, as investors have bet big on strong earnings growth ahead. It remains to be seen whether that scenario plays out.
There are reasons to believe it will. Consumer spending is robust '-- Americans spent more in October than they had in any month ever '-- and the unemployment rate continues to fall.
But there are signs of weakness. The US added fewer jobs than expected in November, and inflation surged to a 30-year high as supply chains got squeezed.
The inflation spike has caused the Federal Reserve to consider speeding up the tapering of its asset purchases and moving up the timeline of its first rate hike. But it's uncertain how long inflation will stay elevated.
Lebowitz said the fate of stocks essentially lie with these factors.
"Essentially the real gamble investors are taking is that inflation will be transitory," he said. "If high inflation is persistent and not transitory, the Fed will find it increasingly challenging to continue current policy."
He added: "Without the Fed's enormous liquidity , valuation gravity will reassert itself."
Researcher Andrew Hill's conflict: A $40 million Gates Foundation grant vs a half million human lives '' World Tribune: U.S. Politics and Culture, Geopolitics, East Asia Intelligence, China, Geostrategy, Military, National security, Corporate Watch, Me
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 14:18
by WorldTribune Staff , December 9, 2021
In a stunning admission, virologist Dr. Andrew Hill acknowledged in a zoom call that publication of his study could lead to the deaths of at least a half million people.
In defending his reversal on the effectiveness of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, he discussed his ''difficult situation'' and said, '' I've got this role where I'm supposed to produce this paper and we're in a very difficult, delicate balance .''
The incident is recounted in Robert Kennedy Jr's New York Times Bestseller, The Real Anthony Fauci: B ill Gates, Big Pharma, and the global war on Democracy and Public Health.
Andrew Hill, PhD, is a senior visiting Research Fellow in Pharmacology at Liverpool University. He is also an advisor for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation. As a researcher for the WHO evaluating ivermectin, Hill wielded enormous influence over international guidance for the drug's use.
Hill had previously authored a analysis of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 that found the drug overwhelmingly effective.
On Jan. 6 of 2021, Hill testified enthusiastically before the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidlelines Panel in support of ivermectin's use. Within a month, however, Hill found himself in what he describes as a ''tricky situation.'' Under pressure from his funding sponsors, Hill then published an unfavorable study. Ironically, he used the same sources as in the original study. Only the conclusions had changed.
Shortly before he published, Dr. Tess Lawrie, Director of the Evidence-based Medicine Consultancy in Bath, England, and one of the world's leading medical research analysts, contacted Hill via Zoom and recorded the call (transcript below). Lawrie had learned of his new position and reached out to try to rectify the situation.
In a remarkable exchange, Hill admitted his manipulated study would likely delay the uptake of ivermectin in the UK and United States, but said he hoped his doing so would only set the lifesaving drug's acceptance back by about ''six weeks,'' after which he was willing to give his support for its use.
Hill affirmed that the rate of death at that time was 15,000 people per day. At the 80 percent recovery rate using the drug, which Hill and Lawrie discussed earlier in the call, the number of preventable deaths incurred by such a delay would be staggering '-- as many as 504,000.
Lawrie was unable to persuade Hill, who instead of joining her team as lead author, went ahead and published his manipulated findings.
Four days before publication, Hill's sponsor Unitaid gave the University of Liverpool, Hill's employer $40 million. Unitaid, it turns out, was also an author of the conclusions of Hill's study.
In the call, Lawrie berated Hill's study as ''flawed,'' ''rushed,'' ''not properly put together,'' and ''bad research . . . bad research,'' which Hill appears not to have denied.
Instead, when pressed he admitted his sponsor, Unitaid, was an unacknowledged author of conclusions.
''Unitaid has a say in the conclusions of the paper. Yeah,'' he told Lawrie.
Flush Fake Media: Revive the American Free Press
Kennedy explained: ''Unitaid is a quasi-governmental advocacy organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and several countries . . . to lobby governments to finance the purchase of medicines from pharmaceutical multinationals'' for distribution in Africa.
He reports:
''Dr. Lawrie knew that to make its ivermectin determination, WHO would rely on Hill's study and another study from McMaster University known as the ''Together Trial.'' McMaster was hopelessly and irredeemably conflicted. NIH gave McMaster $1,081,541 in 2020 and 2021.61 A separate group of McMaster University scientists was, at that time, engaged in developing their own COVID vaccine'--an effort that would never pay dividends if WHO recommended ivermectin as Standard of Care. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was funding the massive ''Together Trial'' testing ivermectin, HCQ, and other potential drugs against COVID, in Brazil and other locations. Critics accused Gates and the McMaster researchers of designing that study to make ivermectin fail.''
In other words, the McMaster researchers, just like Andrew Hill, knew that a positive appraisal of ivermectin would cost their university millions of dollars.
In a terse exchange, Lawrie laid out the ethical and personal risks for Hill:
Lawrie: I really, really wish, and you've explained quite clearly to me, in both what you've been saying and in your body language that you're not entirely comfortable with your conclusions, and that you're in a tricky position because of whatever influence people are having on you, and including the people who have paid you and who have basically written that conclusion for you.
Hill: You've just got to understand I'm in a difficult position. I'm trying to steer a middle ground and it's extremely hard.
Lawrie: Yeah. Middle ground. The middle ground is not a middle ground '...You've taken a position right to the other extreme calling for further trials that are going to kill people. So this will come out, and you will be culpable.
Much like ''two weeks to flatten the curve,'' in the intervening year Hill appears to have gone all-in on a deception originally envisioned to last only six weeks.
Kennedy reports that on Oct. 1, 2021, ''Hill resurfaced on Twitter touting his upcoming lecture, ironically titled, 'Effects of Bias and Potential Medical Fraud in the Promotion of Ivermectin.'''
Dr. Pierre Kory, of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, commented, ''Andrew is apparently making a living now accusing the doctors and scientists who support ivermectin of medical fraud.''
Regulatory acceptance of ivermectin did not delay only six weeks. Instead, almost a year later, it has still not been approved by health agencies in the United Kingdom or in United States. Instead The WHO, CDC, NIH, and FDA have suppressed the drug's use.
Kory added, ''Hill and his backers are some of the worst people in human history. They are responsible for the deaths of millions.''
Related : 'Literally criminal': Supressing data on ivermectin 'cost half a million lives' doctor charges , May 26, 2021
Related : Indian Bar Assoc moves against WHO scientist: 'Deliberately suppressed' ivermectin data , June 11, 2021
Related : Better than vaccines? Frontline doctors prescribe ivermectin to treat Covid-19 , March 25, 2021
[For further analysis, see Neville Hodgkinson's article at the Defender , and Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s New York Times bestseller, The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the global war on Democracy and Public Health.]
Here is the transcript of the conversation between Lawrie and Hill:
Lawrie: Lots of people are in sensitive positions; they're in hospital, in ICUs dying, and they need this medicine.
Hill: Well '...
Lawrie: This is what I don't get, you know, because you're not a clinician. You're not seeing people dying every day. And this medicine prevents deaths by 80 percent. So 80 percent of those people who are dying today don't need to die because there's ivermectin.
Hill: There are a lot, as I said, there are a lot of different opinions about this. As I say, some people simply '...
Lawrie: We are looking at the data; it doesn't matter what other people say. We are the ones who are tasked with looking at the data and reassuring everybody that this cheap and effective treatment will save lives. It's clear. You don't have to say, well, so-and-so says this, and so-and-so says that. It's absolutely crystal clear. We can save lives today. If we can get the government to buy ivermectin.
Hill: Well, I don't think it's as simple as that, because you've got trials '...
Lawrie: It is as simple as that. We don't have to wait for studies '... we have enough evidence now that shows that ivermectin saves lives, it prevents hospitalization. It saves the clinical staff going to work every day and being exposed. And frankly, I'm shocked at how you are not taking responsibility for that decision.
And you still haven't told me who is [influencing you]? Who is giving you that opinion? Because you keep saying you're in a sensitive position. I appreciate you are in a sensitive position, if you're being paid for something and you're being told [to support] a certain narrative '... that is a sensitive position.
So, then you kind of have to decide, well, do I take this payment? Because in actual fact, [you] can see [your false] conclusions are going to harm people. So maybe you need to say, I'm not going to be paid for this.
I can see the evidence, and I will join the Cochrane team as a volunteer, like everybody on the Cochrane team is a volunteer. Nobody's being paid for this work.
Hill: I think fundamentally, we're reaching the [same] conclusion about the survival benefit. We're both finding a significant effect on survival.
Lawrie: No, I'm grading my evidence. I'm saying I'm sure of this evidence. I'm saying I'm absolutely sure it prevents deaths. There is nothing as effective as this treatment. What is your reluctance? Whose conclusion is that?
Hill complains again that outsiders are influencing him.
Lawrie: You keep referring to other people. It's like you don't trust yourself. If you were to trust yourself, you would know that you have made an error and you need to correct it because you know, in your heart, that this treatment prevents death.
Hill: Well, I know, I know for a fact that the data right now is not going to get the drug approved.
Lawrie: But, Andy '-- know this will come out. It will come out that there were all these barriers to the truth being told to the public and to the evidence being presented. So please, this is your opportunity just to acknowledge [the truth] in your review, change your conclusions, and come on board with this Cochrane Review, which will be definitive. It will be the review that shows the evidence and gives the proof. This was the consensus on Wednesday night's meeting with 20 experts.
Hill protests that the U.S. National Institutes of Health will not agree to recommend ivermectin.
Lawrie: Yeah, because the NIH is owned by the vaccine lobby.
Hill: That's not something I know about.
Lawrie: Well, all I'm saying is this smacks of corruption and you are being played.
Hill: I don't think so.
Lawrie: Well then, you have no excuse because your work in that review is flawed. It's rushed. It is not properly put together.
Lawrie points out that Hill's study ignores a host of clinical outcomes that affect patients. She scolds Hill for ignoring the beneficial effects of ivermectin as prophylaxis, its effect on speed to testing negative for the virus, on the need for mechanical ventilation, on reduced admissions to intensive care, and other outcomes that are clinically meaningful.
This is bad research '... bad research. So, at this point, I don't know '... you seem like a nice guy, but I am really, really worried about you.
Hill: Okay. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's a difficult situation.
Lawrie: No, you might be in a difficult situation. I'm not, because I have no paymaster. I can tell the truth. How can you deliberately try and mess it up '... you know?
Hill: It's not messing it up. It's saying that we need, we need a short time to look at some more studies.
Lawrie: So, how long are you going to let people carry on dying unnecessarily '' up to you? What is, what is the timeline that you've allowed for this, then?
Hill: Well, I think . . . I think that it goes to WHO [World Health Organization]and the NIH [National Institutes of Health]and the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and the EMA [European Medicines Agency]. And they've got to decide when they think enough's enough.
Lawrie: How do they decide? Because there's nobody giving them good evidence synthesis, because yours is certainly not good.
Hill: Well, when yours comes out, which will be in the very near future '... at the same time, there'll be other trials producing results, which will nail it with a bit of luck. And we'll be there.
Lawrie: It's already nailed.
Hill: No, that's, that's not the view of the WHO and the FDA.
Lawrie: You'd rather risk loads of people's lives. Do you know if you and I stood together on this, we could present a united front and we could get this thing. We could make it happen. We could save lives; we could prevent [British National Health Service doctors and nurses] people from getting infected. We could prevent the elderly from dying.
These are studies conducted around the world in several different countries. And they're all saying the same thing. Plus there's all sorts of other evidence to show that it works. Randomized controlled trials do not need to be the be-all and end-all. But [even] based on the randomized controlled trials, it is clear that ivermectin works. It prevents deaths and it prevents harms and it improves outcomes for people '...
I can see we're getting nowhere because you have an agenda, whether you like it or not, whether you admit to it or not, you have an agenda. And the agenda is to kick this down the road as far as you can. So '... we are trying to save lives. That's what we do.
I'm a doctor and I'm going to save as many lives as I can. And I'm going to do that through getting the message [out] on ivermectin. Okay. Unfortunately, your work is going to impair that, and you seem to be able to bear the burden of many, many deaths, which I cannot do.
Lawrie then asks again: Would you tell me? I would like to know who pays you as a consultant through WHO?
Hill: It's Unitaid.
Lawrie: All right. So who helped to '... Whose conclusions are those on the review that you've done? Who is not listed as an author? Who's actually contributed?
Hill: Well, I mean, I don't really want to get into, I mean, it '... Unitaid '...
Lawrie: I think that . . . it needs to be clear. I would like to know who, who are these other voices that are in your paper that are not acknowledged? Does Unitaid have a say? Do they influence what you write?
Hill: Unitaid has a say in the conclusions of the paper. Yeah.
Lawrie: Okay. So, who is it in Unitaid, then? Who is giving you opinions on your evidence?
Hill: Well, it's just the people there. I don't '...
Lawrie: So they have a say in your conclusions.
Hill: Yeah.
Lawrie: Could you please give me a name of someone in Unitaid I could speak to, so that I can share my evidence and hope to try and persuade them to understand it?
Hill: Oh, I'll have a think about who to, to offer you with a name '... but I mean, this is very difficult because I'm, you know, I've, I've got this role where I'm supposed to produce this paper and we're in a very difficult, delicate balance '...
Lawrie: Who are these people? Who are these people saying this?
Hill: Yeah '... it's a very strong lobby '...
Lawrie: Okay. Look, I think I can see kind of a dead end, because you seem to have a whole lot of excuses, but, um, you know, that to, to justify bad research practice. So I'm really, really sorry about this, Andy.
I really, really wish, and you've explained quite clearly to me, in both what you've been saying and in your body language that you're not entirely comfortable with your conclusions, and that you're in a tricky position because of whatever influence people are having on you, and including the people who have paid you and who have basically written that conclusion for you.
Hill: You've just got to understand I'm in a difficult position. I'm trying to steer a middle ground and it's extremely hard.
Lawrie: Yeah. Middle ground. The middle ground is not a middle ground '... You've taken a position right to the other extreme calling for further trials that are going to kill people. So this will come out, and you will be culpable.
And I can't understand why you don't see that, because the evidence is there and you are not just denying it, but your work's actually actively obfuscating the truth. And this will come out. So I'm really sorry '... As I say, you seem like a nice guy, but I think you've just kind of been misled somehow.
Hill promises he will do everything in his power to get ivermectin approved if she will give him six weeks.
Hill: Well, what I hope is that this, this stalemate that we're in doesn't last very long. It lasts a matter of weeks. And I guarantee I will push for this to last for as short amount of time as possible.
Lawrie: So, how long do you think the stalemate will go on for? How long do you think you will be paid to [make] the stalemate go on?
Hill: From my side. Okay '... I think end of February, we will be there, six weeks.'
Lawrie: How many people die every day?
Hill: Oh, sure. I mean, you know, 15,000 people a day.
Lawrie: Fifteen thousand people a day times six weeks '... because at this rate, all other countries are getting ivermectin except the UK and the USA, because the UK and the USA and Europe are owned by the vaccine lobby.
Hill: My goal is to get the drug approved and to do everything I can to get it approved so that it reaches the maximum '...
Lawrie: You're not doing everything you can, because everything you can would involve saying to those people who are paying you, ''I can see this prevents deaths. So I'm not going to support this conclusion any more, and I'm going to tell the truth.''
Hill: What, I've got to do my responsibilities to get as much support as I can to get this drug approved as quickly as possible.
Lawrie: Well, you're not going to get it approved the way you've written that conclusion. You've actually shot yourself in the foot, and you've shot us all in the foot. All of '... everybody trying to do something good. You have actually completely destroyed it.
Hill: Okay. Well, that's where we'll, I guess we'll have to agree to differ.
Lawrie: Yeah. Well, I don't know how you sleep at night, honestly.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Clinton Foundation, ivermectin, Researcher Andrew Hill's conflict: A $40 million Gates Foundation grant vs a half million human lives, Researcher Andrew Hill's conflict: A $40 million grant from Bill and Melinda Gates vs a half million human lives, Who on Twitter: "NEW - German police start measuring distances between people with folding rulers in public." / Twitter
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 01:13 : NEW - German police start measuring distances between people with folding rulers in public.
Sun Dec 12 10:52:38 +0000 2021
Minoo Inamdar : @disclosetv You have got to be kidding!! They do not have "police work" to do???
Mon Dec 13 01:12:26 +0000 2021
David Theus : @disclosetv Now this is German ingenuity.
Mon Dec 13 01:11:12 +0000 2021
bigtiger7 : @disclosetv German Police Summer 2020This young woman was sitting in a meadow and was dragged across the street by'...
Mon Dec 13 01:10:39 +0000 2021
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Mon Dec 13 01:08:34 +0000 2021
Peloton Resurrects Mr. Big for Holiday Ad: 'He's Alive!'
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 00:45
Peloton on Sunday dropped a new holiday ad featuring Chris Noth's iconic Sex and the City character Mr. Big, who died while riding the interactive bike in last week's premiere episode of the series reboot And Just Like That.
''I feel great,'' the resurrected Big says in the cheeky ad, which also features Jess King, the Peloton instructor featured in his death episode, as well as Ryan Reynolds, who narrates the cheeky ad with the closing line: ''He's alive.''
The ad follows the Thursday release of the inaugural episode of And Just Like That, which shocked viewers by killing off Mr. Big, who suffers a heart attack after a vigorous workout on his Peloton bike. Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw finds him collapsed in the shower, where he dies in her arms. Peloton's stock plunged 11 percent overnight after the episode aired.
Peloton spokesperson Denise Kelly told BuzzFeed News earlier this week that the company had approved the appearance of King as a fictional instructor on the show, but that ''due to confidentiality reasons'' they hadn't been made aware of the ''larger context surrounding the scene.'' In full damage-control mode, Peloton's statements blamed the fictional character's death on his ''extravagant lifestyle.'' In a Thursday statement from the company, ''cocktails, cigars, and big steaks'' were all cited as reasons for Mr. Big's untimely demise.
VIDEO - The Simpsons Movie - Tom Hanks Cameo (HDTV 2007) - YouTube
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:25
VIDEO - (18) LBC on Twitter: ""There's no reason why you can't trust us when we say to you 'it's mild disease!'" Dr Angelique Coetzee of the South African Medical Association details the Omicron situation in the country that alerted the world to the varia
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:16
LBC : "There's no reason why you can't trust us when we say to you 'it's mild disease!'"Dr Angelique Coetzee of the Sou'...
Sun Dec 12 11:50:59 +0000 2021
VIDEO - France resists US challenge to its values - BBC News
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:10
By Hugh SchofieldBBC News, Paris
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, Campaigners argue France is years behind the US on a number of human rights issues
Six months ago, if asked what they understood by "woke", most French people would have assumed it had something to do with Chinese cooking. And yet today in Paris, the notion of "le wokisme" is suddenly all the rage.
The government warns of a new cultural totalitarianism creeping in from the "Anglosphere". The education minister has set up a Laboratory of the Republic, dubbed an "anti-woke think tank", to co-ordinate the fightback.
And everywhere the precursors of what might be to come are being reported in the media: a new gender-neutral pronoun, a threatened statue of a dead statesman or a meeting on campus only for black students.
For the French, these signifiers of what critics in the UK and US have termed "woke" are all very new and unfamiliar.
Resistance to 'Anglosphere'
For good or bad, France has so far resisted what is seen here as a left-wing cultural movement dedicated to the promotion of minorities that originated in American universities and now exerts considerable influence in the public sphere in the English-speaking world.
Image caption, The French fightback is being co-ordinated by a new Laboratory of the Republic
Partly, that is, because of an in-built French resistance to any intellectual invader from the "Anglosphere".
But more importantly, it is because France has its own post-revolutionary culture rooted in the defence of human rights.
"Don't preach to us about protecting racial and sexual minorities" is the instinctive French response. "We do it in our sleep."
And yet, as with so many other cultural forces that arrive from the US and the UK - think pop music or lunchtime sandwiches al desko - what was originally decried in France often ends up becoming the norm.
I am not obsessed with wokism. I am simply against the idea of telling young people to enter social life by wading into competing grudges
English graffiti on campus
"Will France end up going woke? The jury is still out," says Justin EH Smith, an American philosophy professor at Paris University.
"Personally I find it liberating to teach here. I don't have to mind my every word, like I did with American students. Here, there is still a presumption that universities are a place to learn, and the staff is not there to cushion the subject matter."
But Prof Smith says signs of "wokeism" are nonetheless appearing on campus.
He cites seeing for the first time graffiti in English targeting "terfs" - or trans-exclusionary radical feminists. The use of English was significant, he says, because it "trickles in via elite bicultural, bilinguistic nodes" such as can be found at the university.
However, the new American ideas face a big difficulty in France, he believes, "because one of the cornerstones of French Republicanism is a principle that has become anathema in the context of US-style wokeism - and that is colour-blindness".
France's answer to protecting minorities is "universalism" - the notion that everyone is the same and should be treated the same.
But so-called "woke" thinkers have a different set of values. They say race, colour, gender do matter, because people have different lived experiences depending on those factors, and so public policies need to differentiate between different groups - which is anathema to the French.
'Alive to injustice'
Some campaigners on race, gender and sexuality here say France's attachment to "universalism" is hypocrisy, and an excuse for refusing to change.
"The people who say France must protect itself against wokeism are the people who want everything to stay the same. Because they are the ones who benefit from the status quo," says anti-racism activist Rokhaya Diallo.
For campaigners like Ms Diallo, woke is a new adjective that they are happy to apply to themselves if it has the sense of being "alive to injustice". But they believe the French establishment has also been all too happy to fixate on the term as an easy way of denigrating its exponents.
"France is decades behind the US on issues like gay rights," says Alice Coffin, who set up an Association of Lesbian Journalists in Paris. "When I went to live in the US [under a Fulbright scholarship], it was such a relief not having to explain myself every time I went for an interview.
"People understood that I was a journalist and a lesbian. Here in France, they just don't get it. And now they accuse me of coming back from the US with these dangerous new ideas."
Existential threat
That is indeed precisely what the anti-woke movement in France believes: that via universities, pressure groups and social media, the US is exporting a cultural virus into France that poses an existential threat to French society.
For the writer Brice Couturier, a member of the Laboratory for the Republic think tank, "wokeism puts people into tribes in order to control them. It says you belong in my tribe, and the leaders of my tribe will tell you how to behave. This is foreign to French mentality".
"France has fought many civil wars in the past, and I fear we could come close to civil war again if this goes too far. Just as [former US President] Trump was a reaction to wokeism in the US, here we have crazies like [far-right presidential candidate] Eric Zemmour. People are taking sides."
Another anti-woke campaigner, Quebec-born commentator Mathieu Bock-Cote, believes such ideas run counter to many of the formative elements of French identity.
"We are in a country where the freedom to talk about anything and everything is taken for granted. When you have minorities who say such and such a subject is off-limits, people instinctively say that's censorship, and we can't accept it," he says.
For him, France has the chance to be a beacon of inspiration against such ideas: "In the US, opposition to wokeism was monopolised by the conservatives under Trump. To say the least, that is not an attractive example," he says.
France is different, he argues: "Here opposition comes from across the political spectrum, and there are cultural antibodies to the virus of wokeism. France can lead the fight."
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Media caption, Why France is declaring Josephine Baker a national hero
More on this story
VIDEO - Google employees to lose pay if don't comply with vaccination policy
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:00
Google has told its employees they will lose pay '-- and will eventually be fired '-- if they don't comply with the company's Covid-19 vaccination policy, according to internal documents viewed by CNBC.
A memo circulated by leadership said employees had until Dec. 3 to declare their vaccination status and upload documentation showing proof, or to apply for a medical or religious exemption. The company said after that date it would start contacting employees who hadn't uploaded their status or were unvaccinated, as well as those whose exemption requests weren't approved.
The document said employees who haven't complied with the vaccination rules by the Jan. 18 deadline will be placed on "paid administrative leave" for 30 days. After that, the company will put them on "unpaid personal leave" for up to six months, followed by termination.
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc., gestures while speaking during a discussion on artificial intelligence at the Bruegel European economic think tank in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. Pichai urged the U.S. and European Union to coordinate regulatory approaches on artificial intelligence, calling their alignment critical.
Geert Vanden Wijngaert | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Google spokesperson said in a statement that, "our vaccination requirements are one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running," and added that the company stands "behind our vaccination policy."
While much of the tech industry continues to push back return-to-work plans and companies large and small prepare for a flexible future, Google is requiring its workforce to eventually come into physical offices three days a week at some point in the new year. And it's showing limited patience for those who refuse to get vaccines, which have been widely available for months.
The Biden administration has ordered U.S. companies with 100 or more workers to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19 by Jan. 18. A federal court issued a stay on the order in early November, putting a halt to the administration's efforts.
Still, Google asked its more than 150,000 employees to upload their vaccination status to its internal systems, whether they plan to come into the office or not, and the company indicated it plans to follow President Joe Biden's executive order.
"We expect that almost all roles at Google in the US will fall within the scope of the executive order," Google's memo said. "Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite," the company said, adding that "frequent testing is not a valid alternative to vaccination."
Google and parent company Alphabet have been staunchly behind vaccines since the middle of the year.
CEO Sundar Pichai announced in July that the company would require vaccinations for those returning to offices. At the time, the plan was to reopen in January. But in early December, amid ongoing concerns about infection numbers, Google told U.S. employees it would not yet require them to return to offices. However, leadership encouraged employees to continue coming in "where conditions allow to reconnect with colleagues in person and start regaining the muscle memory of being in the office more regularly."
The vaccine mandate has not been universally accepted by employees. Several hundred Google workers have signed and circulated a manifesto opposing the company's requirements, which leadership said would apply to all employees, even those working from home, who engage directly or indirectly with federal government contracts.
In the latest guidance, Google details some options for those who don't want to get to vaccinated. The company said employees can "explore" if there are any roles at Google that don't conflict with the executive order. They can also request exemptions for religious beliefs or medical conditions, which Google previously said would be granted on a case-by-case basis.
For employees with roles that happen to fall outside the scope of the executive order that can also be performed out of the office, the company said they will be able to "permanently work remotely going forward."
Employees placed on unpaid personal leave will be able to keep their benefits for the first 92 days, the memo said. If after six months they still aren't in compliance with the mandate, "their employment with Google will end."
WATCH: Google employees request higher wages, but company isn't offering them
VIDEO - How many Boosters? - YouTube
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 14:03
VIDEO - Holocaust Survivor's Warning About 'Othering' Will Give You Chills | DM CLIPS | Rubin Report - YouTube
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:56
VIDEO - Omicron 'most significant threat' since pandemic began, U.K. health authority warns
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:41
LONDON '-- Omicron is ''the most significant threat'' to public health in the U.K., authorities warned Wednesday, as the World Health Organization cautioned that the highly contagious Covid-19 variant was spreading at an unprecedented rate.
The number of Covid-19 infections over the coming days will be ''quite staggering'' compared to previous variants, said Jenny Harries, the head of the U.K. Health Security Agency.
Hours after her warning, government data showed that 78,610 new cases had been recorded in the U.K. as of 9 a.m. local (5 a.m. ET) on Wednesday morning '-- the highest daily number of laboratory confirmed cases since the pandemic began.
Despite the advisories from domestic and international experts, there has been growing resistance to the British government's new Covid-19 measures '-- notably from members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party.
New regulations intended to help slow the spread of omicron, including masks in public places and the use of Covid-19 passes for some venues, passed in Parliament on Tuesday evening. However, scores of Conservative lawmakers refused to back the new measures.
People wait for a booster vaccine in London on Tuesday. Hannah McKay / ReutersSome called the new measures too severe and questioned the introduction of a certificate of vaccination or proof of a negative Covid test to enter some venues.
''We are not a 'papers, please' society. This is not Nazi Germany,'' Conservative lawmaker Marcus Fysh told BBC radio on Monday.
The comment led to pushback both in Parliament and on social media, where the term Nazi Germany trended, and Fysh later apologized for the comparison in a piece he wrote for London's Jewish Chronicle newspaper.
Omicron's quick spreadJust over two weeks after the first cases were detected in the U.K., omicron is now the dominant variant in London, the city's public health chief Kevin Fenton said in a tweet Tuesday.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 170,000 people have died in the U.K. with Covid-19, one of the highest death tolls in Europe. However, it was the first country to roll out a clinically approved Covid vaccine, and more than 68 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. That's ahead of the U.S., where just over 60 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
Omicron's quick spread in Britain, with cases doubling in less than two days in most regions, came as the head of the WHO warned that measures, including masks, social distancing and ventilation, were needed alongside vaccines.
''Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant,'' Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote Tuesday on Twitter. ''I need to be very clear: Vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis.''
In the U.S., rising cases and the fear that omicron could spark a new wave of infections led California to reimpose its indoor mask mandate for at least a month.
Europe, meanwhile, is facing a "double challenge," with high numbers of Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths driven by the delta variant, as well as the spread of omicron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in the European Parliament. By mid-January, omicron is expected to be the dominant variant in Europe, she said.
More than 5,300 cases of omicron have been recorded in the U.K., with 10 people hospitalized. One person died after contracting the variant.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Health at the Stowe vaccination center in London on Monday. Jeremy Selwyn / AFP - Getty ImagesJohnson, who warned Sunday that ''there is a tidal wave of omicron coming,'' ramped up the country's booster program, saying that he wants to offer all residents 18 and older a third dose to by the end of the month.
His push for boosters led to long lines at walk-in vaccination centers, with people reporting on social media that vaccines had run out before their turn came. The health service, which provides U.K. residents with free rapid Covid-19 test kits, has faced shortages on its website since Johnson's televised address Sunday.
The U.K. administered more than 513,000 booster vaccines on Monday, its third highest rate since October.
The push for the third doses also came as the first real-world study of the variant in South Africa showed that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offered reduced protection against omicron. However, the variant also appeared to cause less severe illness in South Africa, where it was first discovered last month.
The analysis, released Tuesday by South Africa's largest health care administrator, found that on average 29 percent fewer people were being admitted to a hospital than previously with the delta variant. However, the study also found that two Pfizer jabs gave 70 percent protection against hospitalization from the new variant, compared with 90 percent seen in the delta wave.
VIDEO - (3) clif on Twitter: "Wow! Looking at the msm spewing shit trying to back up the narrative vs #JoeRogan is SO revealing. They are close to complete crackup with the next set of secrets revealed. This is "THE HILL" helps to say it with a big v
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:32
clif : Wow! Looking at the msm spewing shit trying to back up the narrative vs #JoeRogan is SO revealing. They are close t'...
Wed Dec 15 20:50:40 +0000 2021
Fucking Banned Again2 : @clif_high I will die on this hill.Let me build a house real quick........
Thu Dec 16 08:13:09 +0000 2021
ð'•ð'•'ð'•¤ð'•– : @clif_high Proof that you can dress a chimp nicely in a suit but it will still be a chimp
Thu Dec 16 06:29:28 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Insider Trading: Is a pause in the NHL season a possibility with spike in cases? - YouTube
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:31
VIDEO - (1) Alex Andreou on Twitter: "I found video of that Penny Mordaunt US-tour speech and it sounds worse than it even reads. To be clear, Mordaunt is framing Brexit as a war and telling America it has a responsibility to be on our side and against th
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:19
Alex Andreou : I found video of that Penny Mordaunt US-tour speech and it sounds worse than it even reads.To be clear, Mordaunt'...
Thu Dec 16 09:20:53 +0000 2021
Brexile on Main Street : @sturdyAlex But... Putin assured us that after Brexit he'd have his man in the White House.
Thu Dec 16 12:17:05 +0000 2021
Malcolm Pirouet : @sturdyAlex Pitiful
Thu Dec 16 12:16:52 +0000 2021
Ken Macdonald : @sturdyAlex Just watched a talk about a conference Churchill demanded with Roosevelt and the top brass of both nati'...
Thu Dec 16 12:14:09 +0000 2021
Maurice Morgan : @sturdyAlex Good grief!
Thu Dec 16 12:14:04 +0000 2021
Nick1792 ðŸ' : @sturdyAlex Glorified begging.
Thu Dec 16 12:13:15 +0000 2021
Paul Gillingham : @sturdyAlex Anyone still awake?
Thu Dec 16 12:12:47 +0000 2021
Elvira : @sturdyAlex Ah yes,favouring a trade deal with a 27 countries strong block or going for a sad little island still l'...
Thu Dec 16 12:11:40 +0000 2021
godfrey o'dowd : @sturdyAlex This was funny if it was not so sad.. so basically she is asking the US to tell them that Brexit was th'...
Thu Dec 16 12:11:25 +0000 2021
tout seul : @sturdyAlex 'War' that's Republican speak
Thu Dec 16 12:10:13 +0000 2021
Kev : @sturdyAlex They're all absolutely freaking nuts, aren't they?
Thu Dec 16 12:09:34 +0000 2021
myownvoicenow : @sturdyAlex I read this the other day-its embarrassing & desperate. A uk minister of state.."America has a choice t'...
Thu Dec 16 12:09:17 +0000 2021
Colin Carroll : @sturdyAlex Typical nonsense from someone who had a career in PR. Gibberish comes to mind.
Thu Dec 16 12:08:21 +0000 2021
Huw - Anti-Fascist, Paranoid Android - Evans : @sturdyAlex Well this is a load of bollocks. We really need to out these people as Corporate Controlled (or barely'...
Thu Dec 16 12:08:03 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Marty Bent on Twitter: "Holy shit these people don't understand economics or the negative externalities produced by attempted top down control of whole economies. Beating this ignorant drum is very dangerous." / Twitter
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 12:10
Marty Bent : Holy shit these people don't understand economics or the negative externalities produced by attempted top down cont'...
Wed Dec 15 22:50:30 +0000 2021
old to soon : @MartyBent I think they understand economics, I also think they understand power and Marxism.
Thu Dec 16 12:07:42 +0000 2021
Belief System Hacking : @MartyBent What caused this sudden surge in greed that the Whitehouse is h̶a̶l̶l̶u̶c̶i̶n̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ seeing?
Thu Dec 16 10:52:46 +0000 2021
Phil Carter : @MartyBent Pretty much every socialist regime in history - after it debases the national currency to pay for its pr'...
Thu Dec 16 10:19:44 +0000 2021
'š¸ðŸ‘BigBrother👁'š¸ : @MartyBent Amazing watching her slowly die inside
Thu Dec 16 06:24:14 +0000 2021
MyTwoSatoshies : @MartyBent If ''meat conglomerates'' could have charged more in, say 2015, they would have. That's just how economics'...
Thu Dec 16 06:22:35 +0000 2021
lastcoinstanding 🇸ðŸ‡>> : @MartyBent Psack of Pshit.
Thu Dec 16 06:11:40 +0000 2021
The Pooka PhD in #Bitcoin : @MartyBent they just do what lobbyists tell them
Thu Dec 16 05:44:19 +0000 2021
John Hausauer 'š : @MartyBent K but the centralization of the meat industry is a serious issue. It's certainly a poor system for ranch'...
Thu Dec 16 05:41:37 +0000 2021
Zdeněk Mlčoch : @MartyBent Bolshevic single evil narrative. The main source of problems is currency printing socialism destroying r'...
Thu Dec 16 05:41:15 +0000 2021
I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL : @MartyBent Spins economic roulette wheel 👠'... lands on '... ''Price Controls''I'm basically reading this straight fro'...
Thu Dec 16 05:40:00 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Russia's Putin, China's Xi hail ties amid tensions with West - YouTube
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 08:36
VIDEO - Gregario Ivinilititivitch on Twitter: "@covid_clarity @adamcurry" / Twitter
Thu, 16 Dec 2021 08:29
Gregario Ivinilititivitch : @covid_clarity @adamcurry
Thu Dec 16 04:52:02 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Trevor Noah on Fox News hosts' 6 January texts: 'they were freaking out' | Late-night TV roundup | The Guardian
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 18:30
Trevor NoahOn Tuesday's Daily Show, Trevor Noah marveled at a remarkable data dump from the House select committee into the events of 6 January: a collection of frantic text messages from Fox News hosts to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the attack, urging him to urge Donald Trump to stop the rioters.
''Mark, the President needs to tell the people in the Capitol to go home,'' Fox host Laura Ingraham wrote to Meadows. ''This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.'' Sean Hannity wrote to Meadows that Trump should ''make a statement'' to ''ask people to leave the Capitol''.
''Oh man, this is so amazing,'' the Daily Show host said. ''Fox News has spent the whole year acting like January 6th was nothing. Just nothing, it's just a few patriots having their voices heard. But it turns out that in private, they were freaking out about it.''
''This is like finding out the flight attendant who's been telling you it's just a little turbulence is actually going back into the cockpit like, 'doesn't anybody know how to fly this thing?!''' he added.
''It's crazy that CNN fired Chris Cuomo because he was caught giving secret advice to a politician, his brother,'' he continued. ''But now it turns out that basically everyone at Fox News was giving secret advice to President Trump and his people,'' including Fox and Friends anchor Brian Kilmeade.
''But I guess that's what makes it ok?'' Noah added. ''Like if one person at your network has no integrity, that's a problem. But if nobody has integrity, that's a company policy.''
Stephen Colbert
On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert also examined the trove of text messages sent to Meadows, including from the President's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, who wrote, ''We need an Oval Office address, he has to lead now.''
''OK, that reveals two things about Don Jr,'' said Colbert. ''One, he knew his dad was responsible and failing to lead, and two, he does not have his father's cell phone number.''
As for Ingraham's private fear that Trump's failure to address the riot was ''destroying his legacy'', even Colbert was surprised. ''The January 6th attack scared Laura Ingraham! And keep in mind, her side gig is appearing in your bathroom mirror if you whisper Medicare for All three times.''
''These Fox News hosts pushed the big election lie for months leading up to January 6th,'' he continued. ''And then when their obedient viewers stormed the Capitol, they acted all surprised.''
''It reminds me of Charles Manson's statement after he was arrested: 'they did what?! I was kidding. Helter sorry.'''
Jimmy Kimmel
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel mocked the two-faced performances of Trump's supporters despite private misgivings over the insurrection. ''Donald Trump Jr, a man who glues his beard to his face every morning, was right: the president did nothing for hours, and as a result people died,'' Kimmel said. ''Of course, Don Jr spent the past 11 months praising his father's lack of action.''
Kimmel then read the texts from Kilmeade, Ingraham and Hannity expressing concern over the president's legacy in abetting the attack on the Capitol. ''Gee, if only they had some sort of media outlet where they could've said that publicly,'' he deadpanned.
The host then contrasted the texts with their on-air statements after the riot: ''There was certainly a lot of violence that day but it was not a terrorist attack, it wasn't 9/11, it wasn't the worst thing to ever happen to America, it wasn't an insurrection,'' said Ingraham on 27 July 2021.
''Please get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished,'' wrote Brian Kilmeade during the attack. And this November, on Fox News: ''Why is it that every other network, if you took January 6th out of their rundown, they'd have a test pattern.''
''I have to say, I don't think we give the Fox News gang enough credit for their acting,'' Kimmel remarked. ''It's really good.''
VIDEO - (3) RNC Research on Twitter: "Nancy Pelosi: "There is an attitude of lawlessness in our country that springs from I don't know where. Maybe you do."" / Twitter
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 18:24
RNC Research : Nancy Pelosi: "There is an attitude of lawlessness in our country that springs from I don't know where. Maybe you d'...
Wed Dec 15 16:35:35 +0000 2021
VIDEO - (3) Ian Miles Cheong @ on Twitter: "San Francisco Democrat Mayor London Breed announces she wants more "aggressive" law enforcement to combat skyrocketing crime, says progressive policies are "bullshit" She previously suppor
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 17:35
Ian Miles Cheong @ : San Francisco Democrat Mayor London Breed announces she wants more "aggressive" law enforcement to combat skyrocket'...
Wed Dec 15 07:28:43 +0000 2021
VIDEO - NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins Sings a Coronavirus Parody
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 16:31
The National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins is retiring, but as part of his goodbye he played a coronavirus-themed parody of the song ''Somewhere over the Rainbow'' on Tuesday.
Collins debuted his performance in a Health and Human Services video featuring his final remarks to the American people before his retirement.
After he spoke, he pulled out a guitar and played.
''This is really a song for you, for all of us who have been going through this pandemic and trying to imagine how's it going to feel when we're finally past that,'' he said as he began.
Here are the lyrics:
Somewhere past the pandemic when we're free There's a life I remember full of activity Somewhere past the pandemic masks will come off No more need for a nose swab every time we cough
As we are gathered here today Covid's toll has hit and sent us reeling Our partners like the ones right here Will help to make the pathway clear To find the true healing
Somewhere past the pandemic life will resume. We'll all complain about the traffic, forgetting how we hated Zoom. Somewhere past the pandemic we'll hug our friends And thank the people in science that brought pandemic's end
My dozen years are almost through But its been great to work with you Let's end Covid now!
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden praised Collins during a visit to the National Institutes of Health, thanking him for his service.''Dr. Collins is an incredible resource for our nation,'' he said. ''And I'm grateful '-- and I mean this sincerely '-- I'm grateful for everything he's done in this pandemic.''
Biden said he would continue to ask Collins for more advice as the pandemic continues.
''The bad news for you is you ain't getting rid of me, man,'' he said. ''I'm going to keep calling you all the time because there's a lot of other things we can do '-- you can do and help me to get done. You just tell me '-- point me in the direction and I'll follow.''
VIDEO - Former CDC director predicts gloomy COVID future: 'We're in for a rough couple of months' | Fox Business
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 14:20
As the omicron variant rolls through the United States and vaccination status lags, former CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield warned "Cavuto: Coast to Coast" that it won't be smooth sailing in the near future.
ROBERT REDFIELD: We're clearly going to be in for a tough couple -- I think -- a couple of months with the omicron variant coming, which is much more transmissible, replicates at a higher rate. So I just think trying to get people vaccinated, maintaining their vaccine status, getting boosted and then trying to bring in different mitigation steps, which masking is critical. The other one that I think is underutilized is to take advantage of routine testing in these circumstances where people are actually tested, say, once or twice a week, so you can understand who is silently infected and get them out of the transmission pool'...
The reality is that this virus, when you get naturally infected with it, you don't develop long-term immunity. And once that was figured out, one could anticipate when you get vaccinated, you're not going to develop long-term immunity. So the challenge that we have is that this issue that some people felt early on that once we got to some threshold of immunity and they called it herd immunity, that we could get this behind us. The reality is that herd immunity is not operational for this virus and that we're going to continue to have a group of individuals that are susceptible. They get infected, they get vaccinated. The vaccine then wears off. It wanes. They either need to get re-vaccinated or they become susceptible or if they're naturally infected, that immunity wears off and they either need to get vaccinated or they become susceptible.
So this is going to be a real challenge for the next several years while we try to maintain the population so that the population is protected. And the strength of that protection is going to be recurrent vaccination.
VIDEO - UKHSA boss admits agency WASN'T consulted on vaccine passports | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 14:12
One of Britain's top health chiefs today admitted she was not consulted on No10's decision to introduce vaccine passports.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the UK Health Security Agency's (UKHSA) chief medical adviser, was asked nine times to say whether ministers discussed the scheme with her in a grilling with MPs.
The House of Commons voted to bring in No10's Plan B measures '-- which include passes at large-scale events and clubs, as well as more widespread face mask-wearing and the return of the work-from-home guidance '-- this evening.
Boris Johnson faced the possibility of the biggest revolt of his leadership over the measures proposed to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus. MPs voted in favour of the passes by 369 to 126.
And asked by Tory MP and chair of the Science and Technology Committee Greg Clark whether the agency was consulted on the plans earlier today, Dr Hopkins refused to confirm the UKHSA's involvement.
In the awkward exchange, she repeatedly avoided being asked where the idea for the passes originated before finally admitting she was not involved in discussions about the scheme.
Quizzed over whether she was consulted as the boss of the agency, she said: 'No, not personally.'
Mr Johnson earlier today stressed he wants to keep the country 'as free as possible' with 'sensible and balanced' measures as he spoke to the Conservative 1922 Committee.
But he dodged calls from backbenchers to guarantee they will get another say if the government has to move to Plan C, which could mean more draconian limits, such as reimposing social distancing.
Dr Susan Hopkins (left), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) chief medical adviser, refused to confirm being consulted on the scheme nine times in a grilling with MPs today. Asked by Tory MP and chair of the Science and Technology Committee Greg Clark (right) whether the agency was consulted on the plans earlier today, Dr Hopkins refused to confirm the UKHSA's involvement
Desperate Boris makes last-ditch plea to Tory rebels saying he has 'no choice' about imposing Plan B Boris Johnson made a desperate last-ditch plea to Tory Covid rebels tonight insisting he has 'no choice' about imposing curbs to combat the Omicron variant.
The PM stressed he wants to keep the country 'as free as possible' with 'sensible and balanced' measures as he spoke to the Conservative 1922 just before a series of dramatic votes in the Commons.
But he dodged calls from backbenchers to guarantee they will get another say if the government has to move to Plan C, which could mean more draconian limits, such as reimposing social distancing
The final appeal came after Sajid Javid was berated in the chamber as he argued action is needed to avoid 'unsustainable' pressure on the NHS, stressing that scientists believe infections with the Omicron strain are doubling every two or three days.
Tory MPs queued up to grill him, demanding to know why the government is not heeding evidence from South Africa that the disease might be milder.
In one of the punchiest interventions, backbencher Bob Seely complained that some modelling of the virus's trajectory had been 'hysterical, substantially inflated, consistently overconfident, lurid and severely flawed'.
And former minister Desmond Swayne accused the premier of creating a 'ministry of fear' with 'extraordinary extrapolations' from limited data.
The PM has been personally contacting wavering MPs after scores vowed to defy the government whip when new regulations rubber-stamping Covid passes for nightclubs and major events, mandatory vaccination for health staff, and mask at put to a vote tonight.
But the scale of the rebellion means the embattled PM will almost certainly have to rely on Labour to get the measures through - despite in theory having an 80-strong Commons majority. Several ministerial aides have been threatening to quit but appear to have been won over, with Danny Kruger saying he had received 'assurances' there will never be compulsory vaccination.
Tories are also gearing up for an even bigger battle amid claims ministers are preparing to go further by shutting hospitality within weeks if the Omicron strain continues to run rampant.
In a grim signal to the country, Mr Johnson held Cabinet 'virtually' this morning and told ministers that a 'huge spike' of infections is coming.
In the Science and Technology Committee, Mr Clark asked Dr Hopkins: 'Have you advised on the regulation that is before Parliament today which requires either a negative lateral flow test or proof of two vaccines in order to access venues?'
Dr Hopkins said: 'We have not been asked do we agree with the regulations proposed. That's for Government to do.'
Mr Clark said: 'But conceptually, who had the idea of giving an alternative of proof of vaccine or proof of a negative lateral flow test? If it didn't come from UKHSA, where did it come from?'
The UKHSA boss paused, before saying: 'I'm afraid we've continued to advise government that we recommend people take lateral flow tests before they go out, that is the current public health advice, is that they should use lateral flows before they socialize and we continue to advise people get vaccinated.
Mr Clark responded: 'I understand that. But we have a debate and vote at the end of it and I think many members of Parliament will be looking to the UKHSA, which is there to give that expert assessment of what's in front of them, if you haven't caused the regulation to be put before parliament, have you, as an agency, been consulted on the regulation as to whether this does the job?'
Dr Hopkins responded with the same answer again before finally admitting she was not personally consulted after being questioned again.
He asked her a further four times whether the UKHSA was consulted as an organisation, but was rebuffed with the same answer.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson was reported to have told his MPs, dozens of whom have said they would vote against the Government, that 'we have absolutely no choice' to introduce the 'sensible and balanced' measures earlier today before the Commons voted in favour of the legislation.
He said that he wanted the country to be 'as free as we can possibly be'.
The PM is reported to have said he believes the country can get through the current spike, when asked about the prospect of further measures being introduced.
And he reportedly was petitioned by MPs to allow them to have their say in Parliament if further measures were to be introduced over Christmas.
One former minister said his speech 'calmed a lot of nerves'.
The rapid spread of Omicron was also a factor in winning over some Tories, the source said.
The former minister said: 'What a lot of people are starting to see is how it is affecting their own constituencies and own families.
'It's not a theoretical thing, it's become a real thing.'
With Tories particularly angered by the mandatory introduction of Covid health certificates for large venues, Mr Johnson was also believed to be holding talks with individuals who were preparing to vote against or abstain on the restrictions.
Mr Johnson also increased his warnings over the rapidly spreading new strain of Covid, telling a virtual Cabinet meeting a 'huge spike of Omicron was coming'.
There were indications that his efforts may be succeeding, with one ringleader, Steve Baker, saying: 'I'm told numbers are dwindling.'
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab argued the mandatory use of Covid passes for entry to nightclubs and large venues in England was not a 'big step or a slippery slope'.
He rejected MPs' concerns about so-called 'vaccine passports' because people would also be able to show a negative lateral flow test to gain entry to venues.
More than 70 Tories have expressed concerns about the Covid pass proposals '' due to come into effect on Wednesday '' with claims they are illogical and illiberal.
After talks with the Prime Minister on Tuesday morning, one ministerial aide among those on resignation watch as he considered voting against Plan B said he would support the measures despite 'big misgivings'.
Danny Kruger, a parliamentary private secretary to Cabinet member Michael Gove, said he would only back the measures 'thus far and no further'.
The full exchange between Dr Hopkins and Mr ClarkChair of the Science and Technology Committee Greg Clark: 'Have you advised on the regulation that is before Parliament today which requires either a negative lateral flow test or proof of two vaccines in order to access venues?'
UK Health Security Agency's (UKHSA) chief medical adviser: Dr Susan Hopkins: 'We have not been asked do we agree with the regulations proposed. That's for Government to do'.
Mr Clark: 'So who drafted the regulations?'
Dr Hopkins: 'I don't know'
Mr Clark: 'Whose idea were they?'
Dr Hopkins: 'As far as I understand the regulations are drafted by Government'
Mr Clark: 'They are literally drafted, but conceptually, who had the idea of giving an alternative of proof of vaccine or proof of a negative lateral flow test? If it didn't come from UKHSA, where did it come from?'
Dr Hopkins: 'I'm afraid...we've continued to advise government that we recommend people take lateral flow tests before they go out, that is the current public health advice, is that they should use lateral flows before they socialize and we continue to advise people get vaccinated.'
Mr Clark: 'I understand that. But we have a debate and vote at the end of it and I think many members of Parliament will be looking to the UKHSA, which is there to give that expert assessment of what's in front of them. If you haven't caused the regulation to be put before Parliament, have you, as an agency, been consulted on the regulation as to whether this does the job?'
Dr Hopkins: 'We continue to recommend, as I've said, that everyone should take a later flow test before they go.'
Mr Clark: 'I understand that but on the regulation itself have you been consulted on whether this regulation is fit for purpose?'
Dr Hopkins: 'No, not personally.'
Mr Clark: 'Well you're here as a representative, as the chief medical officer of the UKHSA, has the agency?'
Dr Hopkins: 'So, we have continued to recommend that the strongest public health intervention is vaccination.'
Mr Clark: 'No, I do understand that, you've been absolutely clear about that, you've been crystal clear on it. But on the regulation that is before Parliament today has the UKHSA advised on it?'
Dr Hopkins: 'So, we have continued to give our consistent advice that we believe people should have lateral flow tests before they go into a venue.'
Mr Clark: 'We understand that, but you said you personally haven't advised on it, well you're the chief medical advisor of the agency, it would be odd, would it not, if someone other than you, or you weren't involved, in a conversation as literally the head medical advisor of the agency?'
Dr Hopkins: 'Again I reiterate that having both is the strongest, having one or the other is the next strongest and having neither is very weak.'
Mr Clark: 'I understand that. But I also understand that you said that you haven't advised on the specific regulation on large venues that is before Parliament today.'
VIDEO - Benny on Twitter: "Biden asks Americans ''What's the big deal'' with giving up their Freedoms.." / Twitter
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 03:25
Benny : Biden asks Americans ''What's the big deal'' with giving up their Freedoms..
Wed Dec 15 02:52:21 +0000 2021
Vikram Srinivasan : @bennyjohnson This is purely narcissistic, self obsessed and authoritarian and should scare the heck out of everyon'...
Wed Dec 15 03:24:02 +0000 2021
Murray Capybarad 🏴 : @bennyjohnson @ConceptualJames Why is he in front of a green screen?
Wed Dec 15 03:23:36 +0000 2021
CAJ : @bennyjohnson Stop squinting and yelling, old man.
Wed Dec 15 03:22:26 +0000 2021
Ellis Wyatt : @bennyjohnson We don't live in a police state Brandon!
Wed Dec 15 03:22:12 +0000 2021
Trader69🇺🇸ðŸ...Š : @bennyjohnson My 5 Fully VAXXED Co-workers sicked with Cv19 this month... not tested for #OMICRON... new Jersey
Wed Dec 15 03:21:31 +0000 2021
Sam : @bennyjohnson Is this recent ? Vaccinated spread it
Wed Dec 15 03:21:16 +0000 2021
Ryan Gandy : @bennyjohnson Please explain why all of the ''vaxed'' are testing positive'....isn't a vaccine deployed to prevent any d'...
Wed Dec 15 03:19:36 +0000 2021
Battledust : @bennyjohnson Out of curiosity: how much do your "representatvi" get per month in USA?
Wed Dec 15 03:18:44 +0000 2021
JDHoles : @bennyjohnson @ConceptualJames Isn't this medical misinformation? He said the those with the vaccine don't spread c'...
Wed Dec 15 03:17:35 +0000 2021
JayStevens : @bennyjohnson
Wed Dec 15 03:17:33 +0000 2021
A G : @bennyjohnson This is the shit that makes my stomach turn brooooo
Wed Dec 15 03:17:07 +0000 2021
Eddie Neal : @bennyjohnson Green screen president questioning freedom. Dude doesn't even know where he is or what he's saying
Wed Dec 15 03:16:32 +0000 2021
PlagueRat00 : @bennyjohnson @ConceptualJames Everyone needs to send this video to 1 person. Just 1. This needs to be seen becaus'...
Wed Dec 15 03:16:20 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Experts say 'post-pandemic stress disorder' could lead to rise in heart disease | '-- Australia's leading news site
Wed, 15 Dec 2021 03:24
Experts have warned that a new disorder linked to the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a massive rise in heart disease and deaths.
One of Australia's leading cardiology researchers says the complex effects of coronavirus lockdowns will likely lead to more deaths from cardiovascular disease.
But Professor David Hare has urged caution in the face of an alarmist prediction from the UK, which suggested up to 300,000 people in that country could develop heart disease as a result of ''post-pandemic stress disorder''.
Prof Hare, the world's only cardiologist who has also trained in psychiatry, has researched the link between depression and cardiac disease '' Australia's leading cause of death '' for more than four decades.
He said Covid-19 had broadly created heightened risk in three areas '' systemic pressure on the healthcare system causing backlogs, patients delaying testing or treatment due to fear of catching the virus, and the wide-ranging ''psychosocial'' effects of the pandemic and lockdowns themselves.
''The bottom line is the sociological and psychological sequelae from Covid-19, from things happening to individuals and things happening outside of their control, certainly are massive,'' Prof Hare said.
''A lot of it is related to their quality of life. For some it is probably going to impact on the duration of their life as well. People are going to die, I think there will be more deaths. [But] that's not quite as interesting a story as saying a quarter of a million people are going to die from 'post-Covid-19 stress disorder'.''
Coronary heart disease is Australia's biggest killer, accounting for 17,731 deaths in 2019 '' 10,448 men and 7283 women.
'Post-pandemic stress disorder'
Last month, the UK's Evening Standard newspaper quoted two London physicians who suggested ''post-pandemic stress disorder'' could result in a 4.5 per cent rise in cardiovascular cases in the UK, with those aged between 30 and 45 most at risk.
Post-pandemic stress disorder is not yet an officially recognised mental health condition.
Mark Rayner, a former senior National Health Service psychological therapist, said everyone had heard of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but ''we really urgently need to get our heads around PPSD''.
He claimed as many as three million people in Britain were already suffering from ''PPSD'' and warned it could result in a dramatic rise in health issues such as coronary heart failure.
''PPSD is a very real problem on a massive scale,'' said Mr Rayner, who described long-term PPSD as a ''trauma time-bomb'' that could overwhelm the country's healthcare system.
''As well as the condition itself with all its immediate problems, one of the biggest collateral issues is the affect it can have on heart health. It is widely recognised that reducing stress and mental health problems is crucial to the prevention and recovery of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.''
He added, ''We are talking about as many as 300,000 new patients with heart issues.''
Tahir Hussain, a senior vascular surgeon at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, told the paper he had seen a significant rise in cases, particularly among younger patients, which he attributed to PPSD.
''I've seen a big increase in thrombotic-related vascular conditions in my practice,'' he said.
''Far younger patients are being admitted and requiring surgical and medical intervention than prior to the pandemic. I believe many of these cases are a direct result of the increased stress and anxiety levels caused from the effects of PPSD.''
Mr Hussain said there was also evidence that some patients had died at home from conditions including pulmonary embolism and myocardial infarction.
''I believe this is related to many people self-isolating at home with no contact with the outside world and dying without getting the help they needed,'' he said.
Research has suggested patients with depression are at 64 per cent greater risk of developing coronary artery disease and 59 per cent more likely to have a future cardiovascular event.
''We know that people with cardiac disorders have more depression, we know cardiac disorders create depression, but we also have some quite good data that suggest persons who are depressed over the years, independent of a whole lot of other factors, are more likely to develop heart disease,'' said Prof Hare, who published a recent paper in the journal Current Opinion in Lipidology outlining the relationship between cardiovascular disease and depression.
But he said it was ''way too early to say'' if there would be as large an increase as suggested by the UK experts.
''[Saying] therefore this will cause this, therefore you will get a quarter of a million extra heart attacks, that's all overcalling data,'' he said.
He acknowledged the impacts of Covid-19 on mental health were ''significant''.
''Fear of Covid-19 in general has a significant effect, then there's the isolation that many people have experienced,'' he said.
''Then in addition there are ways things have affected people's businesses, jobs that have been lost, small businesses that have been lost '' there are a whole lot of sociological sequelae, as well as emotional sequelae.
''I've had older patients tell me if [lockdown] 'goes on any longer I think I'd be better off dead'. Younger people not being able to go to school, many of those are coping very poorly, and some of them have become really quite depressed.''
Loneliness linked to heart disease
On Tuesday, Monash University publicised a recent study which found that social isolation and low social support were strong predictors of overall cardiovascular risk among healthy older adults.
The paper, published in BMC Geriatrics, analysed social and clinical data from 11,498 relatively healthy Australian men and women aged over 70 across an average of four-and-a-half years.
During the study period, there were 487 non-fatal and 83 fatal cardiovascular events such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Researchers observed that those reporting social isolation were 66 per cent more likely to experience a cardiovascular event and those with low social support were at twice the risk.
Social isolation was defined as engaging in community activities less than once per month and having contact with four or fewer relatives and close friends a month.
Social support was defined as having four or more relatives or close friends with whom private matters could be discussed, or be called upon for help.
Loneliness was defined as feeling lonely three or more days per week.
The researchers suggested these definitions could be considered as a starting point to defining cut-offs among healthy older adults to prevent cardiovascular events, much like the unhealthy systolic blood pressure cut-off of more than 120mm/Hg.
''Family and social support or connection with the community are not always constants in people's lives,'' Heart Foundation interim chief executive Professor Garry Jennings said in a statement.
''As our understanding of the role these factors play in cardiovascular health grows, so must our efforts to address them by helping older Australians stay connected and well supported.''
VIDEO - (55) Candace Owens on Twitter: "Holy shit. China enslaves and kills and encamps their own citizens but that's not the point of this posturing'... China just made its move. This is a direct threat to a weakened America under a puppet President. A
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 20:45
Candace Owens : Holy shit. China enslaves and kills and encamps their own citizens but that's not the point of this posturing'...C'...
Tue Dec 14 19:54:40 +0000 2021
debbie martini 🍸 : @RealCandaceO He's not wrong, crimes against humanity are not limited to China. We are corrupted and deadly too.'...
Tue Dec 14 20:44:24 +0000 2021
Juli S-F : @RealCandaceO Can anyone name a single thing he said which is wrong? Just one item. Go ahead...
Tue Dec 14 20:44:10 +0000 2021
🍌Marty McAP Ξ // WAKΞ & BAYC🍌 WAKEnBAYC.eth : @RealCandaceO @KD__14 Holy shit real life stuff is still happening behind all our nft trading. Can we all just hug'...
Tue Dec 14 20:42:55 +0000 2021
ChiTownMidway : @RealCandaceO Did @RealCandaceO also text Mark M on 01/06/21?
Tue Dec 14 20:41:50 +0000 2021
Dandy 247 : @RealCandaceO Where was he ,when our troops was there for 20 years
Tue Dec 14 20:41:45 +0000 2021
Michael C. : @RealCandaceO CCP intends to disrupt world order...obviously..
Tue Dec 14 20:41:24 +0000 2021
VIDEO - HOME | Dr Brendan Moloney
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:47
Creativity is the source of happiness, energy, and life itself.
It is the meaning of life. That's why Brendan is always creating new stuff: writing, videos, commentary, businesses, movements, conversations. Check out what he is working on.
Causes are important to Dr. B. Aside from the virtue signalling, it is something that gives him a warm glow. Brendan is undertaking 5 social projects on different continents: from homelessness,
to literacy, support for alternative farming, powering alternative media, and to empower all people economically.
Works is chock full of previous creative works. This includes current writing, interviews, commentary, and conversations. 'Blog' sounds boring. So it is 'Works'. Sounds more pretentious and highbrow. Let us assure you it's not. It's full of Dr. B's quirky nonsense and messy rambling.
Parallel Movement is a life-time project. The idea is simple: to describe, support, and create alternatives for people to enjoy. Mainstream society has let us down. It is toxic. The Parallel Movement is a non-for-profit initiative started by Dr. B to help others' experience more freedom, love, and energy.
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Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:34
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Spot the 1976 Swine Flu lies. What's the point of history if we don't learn from it?
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'£Riccardo Bosi interviews: Dr. Peter McCullough, Dr. Paul Alexander, Dr. Paul Oosterhuis, Dr. Judy Wilyman.👇 '£Sorry folk's, due to spammers, comments have been temporarily disabled. For '£'£'£'£'£'£those asking how to "donate" I '£have now set '£me a coffee" (Cappuccino actually ðŸ) If '£you would like to Buy me a cappuccino ~ You can do so by clicking on the link 👇 '£ I know times are hard for so many right now & I assure you, ALL donations are very much appreciated 🏠& enable me to dedicate the time necessary to continue upload videos daily & share Truth's with you all. Thank you! Angel '£Realm is now on Telegram 🍠To join me there & for exclusive content, '£Please click on the invite link👇 '£'£ '£For a more accurate idea as to the numbers of adverse reactions & death's following rhe jab, please see '£
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14 Dec 2021
Spot the 1976 Swine Flu lies. What's the point of history if we don't learn from it?
simtim · 2 Views
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VIDEO - The Vigilant Fox on Twitter: "Dr. Fauci opens up the possibility that the COVID-19 vaccine could be making people more likely to be infected by the virus. "This would not be the first time, if it happened, that a vaccine that looked good in initia
Tue, 14 Dec 2021 14:49
The Vigilant Fox : Dr. Fauci opens up the possibility that the COVID-19 vaccine could be making people more likely to be infected by t'...
Mon Dec 13 18:06:35 +0000 2021
J. Elizabeth : @VigilantFox Oh really?
Tue Dec 14 14:46:34 +0000 2021
KEVIN GUEVARA : @VigilantFox Absolutely pitiful.
Tue Dec 14 14:46:23 +0000 2021
VIDEO - CDC: 1 in every 100 seniors in US has died of Covid-19 - YouTube
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 23:59
VIDEO - (34) Clay Travis on Twitter: "Dr. Fauci tries to terrify parents of covid in an interview today. Despicable. Kids aren't in danger from covid. They are far more likely to die of the seasonal flu, murder, drowning or traffic accidents than covid.
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 16:40
Clay Travis : Dr. Fauci tries to terrify parents of covid in an interview today. Despicable. Kids aren't in danger from covid. Th'...
Sun Dec 12 23:30:05 +0000 2021
VIDEO - (20) Election Wizard on Twitter: "WATCH: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says her country has created a special account to fund journalists who will produce government-approved stories on Covid-19." / Twitter
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 15:32
Election Wizard : WATCH: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says her country has created a special account to fund journalists who will pr'...
Fri Dec 10 21:28:01 +0000 2021
VIDEO - Comrade Jacinda Ardern - YouTube
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 15:24
VIDEO - Republican Senator Wendy Rogers under fire for calling Jacinda Ardern 'Lenin with hair' | Newshub
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 14:26
Watch: Jacinda Ardern spoke to world leaders last week. Credits: Video - The AM Show; Image - Getty Images
A Republican Senator in the US state of Arizona has come under fire for calling New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern "Lenin with hair".
Wendy Rogers shared a video on Twitter of Ardern speaking virtually to world leaders as part of the Summit for Democracy last week, where the Prime Minister talked about COVID-19 misinformation and why her Government had introduced New Zealand's public interest journalism fund.
"Lenin with hair," Rogers posted with the video.
Vladimir Lenin was a communist leader who commanded the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. The revolution cemented communism in Russia and the Soviet Union for the next 74 years.
Under Lenin's leadership, the Soviet government oversaw the 'Red Terror' - a campaign of widespread executions and arrests against so-called "enemies of the people".
"Effective leader. Jealously is embarrassing," one Twitter user responded to Rogers.
"No that's what we call a capable leader," another said.
"You know nothing about her," wrote another. "She is a better woman and a better protector of democracy than you'll ever know."
The Prime Minister's office has been contacted for a response to Rogers' remarks.
Rogers is a staunch ally of former US President Donald Trump, and has parroted his repeated false claims of a rigged 2020 election.
In September, she falsely said each state could "decertify" the election result, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.
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VIDEO - Waarom Deense premier zombienertsen in doofpot zou stoppen | - YouTube
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 13:43
VIDEO - El-Erian faults Federal Reserve for failure to curb inflation - YouTube
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 00:49
VIDEO - Breaking911 on Twitter: "Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): ''Abortion care is health care..This is quite literally a matter of life and death.''" / Twitter
Mon, 13 Dec 2021 01:09
Breaking911 : Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): ''Abortion care is health care..This is quite literally a matter of life and death.''
Sun Dec 12 20:20:39 +0000 2021

Clips & Documents

Audio Clips
5G Airplane Altimeter Horror Coming to an airport near you.mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Mona Abdi - delta & omicron infection could lead to new variant (7sec).mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Mona Abdi - NYU requiring boosters for students & faculity (7sec).mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Mona Abdi - omicrons ability to evade vaccines (47sec).mp3
ABC The View - Whoopie & Joy - newsom patterns gun law after TX abortion law (1min19sec).mp3
abortion pill.mp3
Aertists in Afghanistan.mp3
Afghanistan report Npr 2.mp3
Afghanistan report Npr wtf.mp3
Al Jazeera - Russia’s Putin, China’s Xi hail ties amid tensions with West.mp3
Artists in Cuba.mp3
BBC report on Le Wokeism.mp3
Bloomberg Markets Asia - anchor Emma OBrien - (1) sinovac no protection with omicron (1min7sec).mp3
Bloomberg Markets Asia - anchor Emma OBrien - (2) pfizer pill surpringly not tamiflu (49sec).mp3
Bloomberg Markets Asia - anchor Emma OBrien - (3) global booster outlook (1min13sec).mp3
cardboard recyling in MN.mp3
CBS FTN - anchor Margaret Brennan - Dr Gottlieb (2) 4th dose -annual vaccine (57sec).mp3
CBS FTN - anchor Margaret Brennan - N.H. Gov Sununu (1) intro -winter surge (1min).mp3
CBS FTN - anchor Margaret Brennan - N.H. Gov Sununu (2) booster blitz (31sec).mp3
Chris Whitty Englands CMO - Omicron is SUPER SCARY and BAD JAN 4 LOCKDOWN.mp3
CNBC - Google will fire unvaccinated.mp3
Collins sing another - somewhere past the pandemic at UN goodbye event.mp3
COVID new mask mandates NPR.mp3
Dead migrants story NPR.mp3
DNow - Michael Mann -1- covid to climate change bridge through twitter.ogg
DNow - Michael Mann -2- No giant industry that has a stake in covid LOL.ogg
DNow - Michael Mann -2- Social MEdia and Big Tech is complicit.ogg
DNow - Michael Mann -4- Solution is VOTE for BBB.ogg
Fed Bond buying weird word NPR.mp3
Fed Bond sub clip.mp3
FLA Settlements WTF FBI NPR.mp3
Greedy airline execs and vouchers.mp3
ISO terrible.mp3
LBC - Dr Angelique Coetzee of the South African Medical Association details the Omicron situation.mp3
McCullough JRE -1- Vaccines HIV Positive.mp3
McCullough JRE -3- Collusion to force vaccinations instead of treatment.mp3
McCullough JRE -Death Count Mystery.mp3
MP Marcus Fysh is against Vaccine Passport and slams BBC interviewer.mp3
NA predicting the future July 2nd 2009 - episode 109 - 2 doses - forced vax coming your way.mp3
NBC SNL - santa has vaccine side effect -cuomo brothers (1min1sec).mp3
New York shoot up crises.mp3
NPR South Africa Omicron report -1- The data shows effectiveness of vax in usa not as effective.mp3
OMICRON Boost BS 2 ugh NPR.mp3
Osterholm angel of death - my conservative opposers in media are dead.mp3
PElosi - Attitude of lawlessness AT THE TOP.mp3
Presidential Powers act Farce 2.mp3
Presidential Powers act Farce.mp3
Psaki blames meat prices on greedy food processors.mp3
Seren Branson meltdown.mp3
The Hill's Rising Podcast HIllarious take on Ivermectin and worms in Africa vs USA.mp3
Tom Hanks in Simpsons Movie he has 'credibility'.mp3
Tornados climate change PBS news hour Victor Ginsini Nothenr Ill U.mp3
TV Advertisment -Pfizer the pursuit of normal (28sec).mp3
Vaccine Mandate updates NTD.mp3
vintage -- show 301 Assangfe-facebookSpyMachine.mp3
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