1413: Flurona

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 25m
January 2nd, 2022
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Executive Producers: Sir Craig Porter the Ronin, N7FSN, Sir George of the Southern Carpathians, Paul Hobbs, Sir Fur - Baronet, Kyle Stephano, Cheryl Wetzel, Sir JD, Baron of Silicon Valley, Chris Johnson

Associate Executive Producers: Dane Frost, Sir Cah, Craig Allen Harms, Trish Petrat, Becky Passfield, Joe, Gordon Walton, Cynthia Scholte, Timothy Hiller, James Williams

Cover Artist: Parker Paulie

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Start of Show
Woodstock
1:56
Suggested chapter: Hashtag 'CDC Says' took off
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2:26
Suggested chapter: Joe Rogan Robert W Malone Mass Psychosis Clip took off
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9:07
Suggested chapter: Is Robert Malone a Spook?
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12:07
Suggested chapter: Operation Zyphr: Theory of Data Collection for IDs of truthers so that they can be targeted for ? death by gov/vax
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15:02
Suggested chapter: Michael Osterholm another baffling JRE booking. JRE Booker is from Colorado where all the spooks live
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16:48
Suggested chapter: Malone 'PfIsrael'
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17:20
Suggested chapter: Palestinian mortality is much lower than Israel because Palestine have virtually no vaccine uptake
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18:10
Suggested chapter: Flurona disease detected in Pfisrael
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18:57
Suggested chapter: Dutch get beaten down for New Years
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21:11
Suggested chapter: Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd, M5M serves as a false representation of the crowd
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24:46
Suggested chapter: The Vaccinated Vulnerable
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28:35
Suggested chapter: AIDS Healthcare Foundation sponsors a "Vaccinate Our World" float to encourage equity in global vaccinations at the Rose Parade
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30:18
Suggested chapter: Untitled
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30:49
Suggested chapter: The People's Vaccine Alliance: movement to make vaccines public domain
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33:14
Suggested chapter: Suspend intellectual property rights to vaccines (from start of 2021)
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38:11
Suggested chapter: Tests being pushed to attend school
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39:25
Suggested chapter: NBA and NBPA agree to clear COVID positive players after 5 days if count values are above 30
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40:17
Suggested chapter: Biden admin orders $137M factory to create COVID test strips based on lateral flow system
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41:16
Suggested chapter: Supercut of people saying PCR is "The Gold Standard" (Nov 2020)
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43:32
Suggested chapter: Anthony Fauci backtracks on quarantines and testing
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48:10
Suggested chapter: Note from Producer: Lateral flow test only detects presence of SARS-Cov-2 not COVID infection
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49:20
Suggested chapter: Anthony Fauci: Children hospitalized with COVID not because of COVID
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51:23
Suggested chapter: Note from GC Producer: Pregnancy is now an indication of receiving the vaccine instead of being an exception
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54:23
Suggested chapter: NPR Omicron Spread
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58:54
Suggested chapter: -700% efficacy: 7x more likely to get Omnicron if you vaxed and boosted
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1:04:09
Suggested chapter: Gerald Celente: Widespread global protests pre-pandemic re substandard living conditions. Ended bc of Lockdown
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1:07:35
Suggested chapter: Thomas Hoenig knew what quantitative easing and record-low interest rates would bring. Politico
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1:11:16
Suggested chapter: A Hostile Takeover of the FDIC - WSJ
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1:12:15
Suggested chapter: China is hoarding 50% of the world's food grain amid global inflation
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1:12:34
Suggested chapter: CES 2020: Food Technology - 3D printed Meat. Health Technology - Amazon shipping meds
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1:15:22
Suggested chapter: John could you please spell this town’s name? crazy Welsh town name
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1:17:40
Suggested chapter: The Future of Meat: Alt Meat Revolution. Food Robotics.
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1:19:29
Suggested chapter: ITM/Troll Count/No Agenda Social/Art/Start of 1st Donations Segment
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Suggested chapter: End of First Donation Segment
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1:56:01
Suggested chapter: Betty White, a Television Golden Girl From the Start, Is Dead at 99
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1:59:20
Suggested chapter: Clip from first show of 2020: Mike Rodgers cooperates with Durham investigation
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2:02:56
Suggested chapter: Clip from first show of 2021: William Barr outthought the Quantum Computer
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Suggested chapter: Climate Change: Cold weather cause blackouts bc of energy providers policy
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2:18:22
Suggested chapter: Firefighter BOTG Colorado Fires from BadChad: suspicious fires caused by arson
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2:22:50
Suggested chapter: Desmond Tutu to be buried by Aquamation (Liquified corpse in heated vat of potassium hydroxide)
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Suggested chapter: Soylent Green (1973) film is set in 2022
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Suggested chapter: Ontario finance minister goes on vacation while encouraging people to stay locked down (first news of 2021)
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Suggested chapter: China warns Walmart against removing products made in Xinjiang
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Mass Formation Psychosis
Google mass formation - "too many changing results right now" hard to determine reliable sources LOL
Mass Formation Awakening
Its tempting, but instead of no agenda knew this weeks ago, give them more, help them!
Welcome them!
Climate Change
Colorado Fires from BadChad
Main body of fire only made it within about 5 miles of Casa de Christian. Smoke plume was pretty extraordinary. I got called into work to backfill crews that went to fight. One small and one fairly large hospital had to be evacuated, which was like dropping a patient bomb on the remaining hospitals to which they were transferred. Most of them were already on a Divert Status before the fire. One of our Engine Crews just about got burned over and had to cut their hoses and run to save themselves and the engine.
The wind has died down and between cooler temps and incoming snow, it's basically a mop-up job at this point.
Initial reports suspected that wind knocked down electrical wires which sparked the fire. This is a great narrative for the climate change and aging infrastructure folks.
But.... A little bird told me that there is suspicion that this was arson...
This is getting google-washed, but there have been other suspicious fires in the area recently:
Soylent Green was set in 2022
In 2022, Earth is overpopulated and totally polluted; the natural resources have been exhausted and the nourishment of the population is provided by Soylent Industries, a company that makes a food consisting of plankton from the oceans. In New York City, when Soylent's member of the board William R. Simonson is murdered apparently by a burglar at the Chelsea Towers West where he lives, efficient Detective Thorn is assigned to investigate the case with his partner Solomon "Sol" Roth. Thorn comes to the fancy apartment and meets Simonson's bodyguard Tab Fielding and the "furniture" (woman that is rented together with the flat) Shirl and the detective concludes that the executive was not victim of burglary but executed. Further, he finds that the Governor Santini and other powerful men want to disrupt and end Thorn's investigation. But Thorn continues his work and discovers a bizarre and disturbing secret of the ingredient used to manufacture Soylent Green.—Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Germany shuts down half of its 6 remaining nuclear plants
Germany on Friday shut down half of the six nuclear plants it still has in operation, a year before the country draws the final curtain on its decades-long use of atomic power.
The decision to phase out nuclear power and shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy was first taken by the center-left government of Gerhard Schroeder in 2002. His successor, Angela Merkel, reversed her decision to extend the lifetime of Germany's nuclear plants in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and set 2022 as the final deadline for shutting them down.
Mandate & Boosters
Pfizrael
Dutch fireworks, puhleaaaze - NOT showing anyone who's boss
Financial Meltdown
If we were correct about vaccines over a decade ago, who not about the Fed?
CARES money went to lots of students
I am catching up on episode 1411. At 2:42, you discussed CARES act money being distributed to students at historically black universities. I work in the financial aid office at one of the big 10 universities. Where I work, we were responsible for distributing the CARES money and the two other batches of money that preceded. The federal money was distributed to students that have financial need based on the expected family contribution (EFC) if the student has completed their FAFSA. The rules that we setup paid tuition and fees first. If tuition and fees were already paid, the money is direct deposited to the students account. This is very typical of what is done even without CARES funding (ie Stafford loans, Pell grants, etc.). The student is responsible for using the funds for rent/housing, food, books, etc.
Eric
Ivermectin and Monoclonal
Monoclonal limited for demand?
I’m listening to Rogan’s interview with Malone & it occurs to me: The people who are touting the dangers of the vaccines (which are very real, don’t get me wrong)
are at the same time pushing the monoclonal antibodies as an alternative. These treatments are also under EUA, don’t have any long term studies, and have gruesome
origins in mice humanized with tissue obtained from freshly aborted children. To be blunt, this is NOT the same as the fetal cell lines like HEK293 which were
created from an aborted little girl in the 1970s. These mice require current, ongoing, and fresh abortions.
responsible for this info is a homeschooling mom of 6 children. She was able to read the actual scientific papers published by these researchers a put together
the processes they’ve used to humanize mice, which are then utilized for the research & development of both the COVID vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.
In addition, I fear these monoclonals are contaminated with retroviruses that may make recipients sick later down the road. These things are not the solution &
I’m very wary of anyone pushing them. Instead, I favor early & aggressive treatment with cheap drugs like HCQ, IVM, vitamin C, zinc etc. I think guys like Kory,
Malone, and McCullough are offering truth nuggets but, like I said, these monoclonals are truly a witches’ brew & I’m skeptical of anyone who supports them.
Here is the link. I’m happy to provide more info upon request.
www.fetalindustry.com
Sincerely,
Nurse Claire
Binary - Vax + monoclonal or Pfizer pill?
Big Pharma
Amazon is now your pharmacy and will win
CDC Sued for Withholding Post-Licensure V-safe Data on COVID-19 Vaccines
"Currently, the CDC has made data from its v-safe system available to the private computer technology company, Oracle, in de-identified form, meaning that personal identifying information has been retracted.
This data “will be collected, managed, and housed on a secure server by Oracle,” the CDC says (pdf). “Through Health and Human Services (HHS), Oracle has donated IT services to any agency conducting COVID-19 related activities … All data will be stored, processed, and transmitted in accordance with the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) and based on NIST standards.”
Test To Stay
Asymptomatic spread and testing [lateral flow]
I’m not sure if you’ve picked up on this but as you mentioned infected people being asymptomatic in the last show. I thought I’d highlight this:
Covid-19 is the disease caused by a certain Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)
The lateral flow and PCR test indicate the presence of this Coronavirus not an infection of Covid-19 so you do not test positive for Covid you test positive for (SARS-CoV-2). This is the first time in human history that people are classed as having a disease solely by having the presence of a virus and without a clinical diagnosis.
The equivalent is saying that everyone who is HIV positive has AIDS but some have asymptomatic AIDS. You would be cancelled immediately if you tried that game.
They’ve been doing this since the tests started and only a handful of people have ever mentioned it.
They’ve conflated Coronavirus and Covid in the same way as they conflated the Taliban and ISIS thus keeping us scared of the never ending threat.
Words do indeed matter.
Happy New Year
Mark
NBA CT Count PCR
ESPN Sources: The NBA and NBPA have agreed on new protocols that would allow Covid-positive players to clear isolation after five days if “CT values” are above 30. That lowers threshold from seven days and CT values above 35.
Out There
VAERS
Vaccination = Fertility?
Last year, I was a gestational carrier (surrogate with no genetic relation to baby) for some friends of ours from June 2020 to February 2021. I agreed to have another baby for them and we're excited to start that process in the next few months. The parents wholeheartedly support my decision to remain unvaccinated and even said it's their preference, since so little is known about the long-term effects. Very soon, they'll have to sign a contract with the fertility clinic who will do the embryo transfer and I mentioned to them that we might need to check to be sure the clinic will transfer if I'm unvaxxed. I asked a nurse from the surrogacy agency we contracted with to email the fertility clinic to ask. Their response was mind-blowing:
"We are still strongly recommending (extremely strongly) vaccination, especially with a new variant that is more contagious than the previous delta variant. As we have stated previously, pregnancy is now an indication of receiving the vaccine instead of being an exception. Pregnant patients who contract COVID have much higher instances of severe illness and hospitalization, which in turns [sic] leads to premature delivery or other worse outcomes.
Please share this with all of your intended parents and potential surrogates."
After receiving this response, I spent the next couple of hours trying to find anything at all that backed up their claim and of course found nothing. Even when I searched "covid vaccine increases fertility" (on Google, no less) I found nothing. I wanted to pass this on because I was appalled at the potential damage a claim like this can cause. Most, if not all people undergoing fertility treatments are willing to do anything a reproductive specialists encourages if it means they'll get pregnant. Not only is the clinic still claiming the jab will keep women from getting super sick, now they're saying they're more likely to have IVF success?!
The parents are going to insist on signing a contract that stipulates the clinic will not require me to be vaccinated prior to transfer, but I anticipate not a small amount of coercion as we navigate IVF with them over the next few months. I already got a sneak peek a few days ago when I completed my required psych evaluation and the last two questions were 1) Have you been following CDC guidelines? and 2) Are you willing to follow a doctor's recommendations including getting vaccinated against COVID-19?
If more crazy shit happens, I'll send that information along. Something tells me you'll hear from me again.
China
Food Intelligence
CES Food Tech
Cooking and eating
The buzziest thing at CES 2020, the last in-person show before the pandemic, wasn’t a gadget, software or a service, but Impossible Foods Inc.’s Impossible Pork, a plant-based meat designed to cook and smell like ground pork.
This year at the show, a half-day food-tech conference will showcase advances in areas such as agriculture, ingredient innovation, meal kits and deliveries, vertical farming and, of course, more plant-based meat. Impossible Foods will be there, as will MycoTechnology, which will debut a meat alternative made from fungi.
The conference will also cover “how robotics will change the face of food,” said Michael Wolf, founder of The Spoon, an online food-tech industry publication that is hosting the event. For instance, farm-equipment giant Deere & Co. will discuss how automation can address labor shortages and unpredictable weather.
The Purge
Freedom Passport
Identity document validation technology in the right to work and right to rent schemes, and DBS pre-employment checking (accessible version) - GOV.UK
The Home Office and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are working with DCMS as it develops proposals for new legislation to establish a UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework. This framework will set out the rules and standards for organisations to follow in order to carry out secure, trustworthy, and consistent digital identity checks.
This review has now concluded, and this update sets out the key outcomes.
The Home Office recognises the benefits the adjusted checking process has brought and are mindful of the shift towards increased hybrid and remote working models.
As a result, the Home Office will enable employers and landlords to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital identity checks on their behalf for many who are not in scope to use the Home Office online services, including British and Irish citizens. The relevant changes to legislation will take effect from 6 April 2022.
This development will align with DBS’ proposal to enable digital identity checking within their pre-employment checking process, through the introduction of its Identity Trust Scheme.
Lawless at the top and bottom
OTG
Real News
Welsh Town Meaning
“St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and
the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave.”
STORIES
CES Food Tech Conference - CES 2022
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 16:21
Partner Track
The CES Food Tech conference, brought to you by The Spoon, will examine how the world of food and cooking is being reinvented through innovation and technology. It will bring together leaders across the world of food, culinary, and technology industries to share lessons learned and discuss the biggest opportunities and challenges in food tech. Join us for a half-day of insights and networking.
Thursday, January 61:00 '' 1:40 PM
Conference Session Live Stream The Kitchen 2030: How Food & Cooking Will Change in the Future LOCATION Venetian Expo Level 4 Lando 4304
The arrival of AI, smart technologies, robotics and more means how we cook, store food and even eat will undergo a significant transformation over the next decade.
Moderator Michael Wolf Editor in Chief The Spoon Khalid Aboujassoum Founder and CEO Else Labs ROBIN LISS CEO Suvie2:00 '' 2:40 PM
Conference Session The Future of Meat LOCATION Venetian Expo Level 4 Lando 4304
Meat made from plants, brewed in bioreactors and made from fungi is changing what we eat. Listen to the leaders of the alt-meat revolution
Moderator Michael Wolf Editor in Chief The Spoon Bruce Friedrich Founder & CEO The Good Food Institute Anne Palermo CEO & Co-Founder Aqua Cultured Foods3:00 '' 3:40 PM
Conference Session Tackling Food Waste With Technology LOCATION Venetian Expo Level 4 Lando 4304
In the US, about $408 billion of food is wasted each year. How can technology help fight waste at the store, on the farm and in our home?
Dana Gunders Executive Director ReFED Spencer Martin CEO Clew Aidan Mouat Co-Founder & CEO Hazel Technologies, Inc.4:00 '' 4:40 PM
Conference Session Live Stream Welcome to Our Food Robot Future LOCATION Venetian Expo Level 4 Lando 4304
Food robots are everywhere! This panel will explore how robotics and automation are changing how we make, cook and deliver our food.
Moderator Michael Wolf Editor in Chief The Spoon Juan Higueros Co-Founder & COO Bear Robotics Andy Lin CEO Yo-Kai Suma Reddy Co-Founder/CEO Future Acres Clayton Wood CEO PicnicAll CES conference sessions are seated on a first-come, first-served basis.
FDIC's GOP chair to resign after partisan brawl - POLITICO
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 16:11
At a Dec. 14 board meeting, McWilliams rejected a bid by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra '-- an FDIC board member and ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) '-- to add a record of the vote to the FDIC's official minutes.
Later, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, McWilliams referred to the episode as a ''hostile takeover.'' But she made no mention of the saga in her resignation letter to President Joe Biden on Friday.
''When I immigrated to this country 30 years ago, I did so with a firm belief in the American system of government,'' said McWilliams, who was born in former Yugoslavia, in her letter to Biden. ''During my tenure at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the United States Senate and the FDIC, I have developed a deep appreciation for these venerable institutions and their traditions. It has been a tremendous honor to serve this nation, and I did not take a single day for granted.''
Her impending exit opens up another key position for Biden to fill, and it means none of the three federal banking agencies will have a Senate-confirmed official serving in their top regulatory job. The president is expected to soon tap a vice chair of supervision at the Federal Reserve, while his pick for comptroller of the currency recently withdrew after facing opposition from moderate Democrats.
For now, Gruenberg, who has been serving at the FDIC on an expired term for three years, gets to retake the gavel. The Obama-era chair of the agency took the unusual step of staying on as a board member after his leadership role ended and then dissented regularly against actions by McWilliams to loosen rules on banks of all sizes. McWilliams' departure could lead to the reversal of some of those moves. Gruenberg first joined the FDIC's board in 2005, after serving as an aide to former Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.).
FDIC board member Martin Gruenberg will become acting chair. | Getty
The FDIC in the coming months will have to grapple with how respond to the rise of financial technology startups and innovations that are rattling traditional banking. McWilliams has said the agency is considering whether some stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency pegged to an underlying asset, should be covered by deposit insurance if they're tied to the dollar.
Gruenberg is also expected to be more aggressive in pushing banks to prepare for risks posed by climate change, an area where the outgoing chairman has hesitantly engaged. McWilliams abstained from a vote at the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a Treasury Department-led panel of regulatory chiefs, on a report that called climate change an emerging risk to the financial system, saying the document's conclusions warranted more research.
Some governance questions remain unresolved at the agency, such as whether future FDIC boards will be able to use a majority vote to overrule the chairman. House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has asked McWilliams to provide the legal basis behind senior officials' argument that only she could schedule a vote. The FDIC has not yet publicly presented its rationale.
Before becoming FDIC chairman in 2018, McWilliams spent years as a top aide to Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), including during Shelby's chairmanship at the Banking Committee. Before being nominated to head the FDIC, she worked for a brief stint as the chief legal officer at Fifth Third Bank.
In a short interview Friday evening, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon described her as ''a complete, capable, competent class act.'' His bank, the largest in the U.S., is primarily regulated by other agencies but overseen by the FDIC because it has deposit insurance.
''I don't think she pandered to big banks or little banks,'' he said. ''I think she tried to do her job, and she did it quite well,'' he added, citing her work that made it easier for banks to hire workers with minor criminal records.
The clash between McWilliams and Democrats at the FDIC has further inflamed partisan tensions over the usually low-key agency. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), an ally of McWilliams, blasted the White House for supporting the move by the FDIC Democrats to bypass the GOP chairman.
''I am deeply troubled to see the administration support this extremist destruction of institutional norms and unprecedented action to undermine the independence and integrity of our financial regulators,'' Toomey said in a statement Friday. ''President Biden should move swiftly to fill the two vacant board seats and Interim Director Gruenberg's seat with qualified individuals who will respect the FDIC's tradition of operating free from partisan political interference.''
Progressive activists celebrated McWilliams' exit as a victory. The Open Markets Institute, an anti-monopoly group, said on Twitter Friday that "this welcome news means the FDIC board can get to work mitigating the risks of Too Big to Fail.''
Biden Administration Strengthens Requirements that Plans and Issuers Cover COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Without Cost Sharing and Ensures Providers are Reimbursed for Administering COVID-19 Vaccines to Uninsured | CMS
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:43
In accordance with the Executive Order President Biden signed on January 21, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), together with the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury, (collectively, the Departments) issued new guidance today removing barriers to COVID-19 diagnostic testing and vaccinations and strengthening requirements that plans and issuers cover diagnostic testing without cost sharing.
This guidance makes clear that private group health plans and issuers generally cannot use medical screening criteria to deny coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic tests for individuals with health coverage who are asymptomatic, and who have no known or suspected exposure to COVID-19. Such testing must be covered without cost sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements imposed by the plan or issuer. For example, covered individuals wanting to ensure they are COVID-19 negative prior to visiting a family member would be able to be tested without paying cost sharing. The guidance also includes information for providers on how to get reimbursed for COVID-19 diagnostic testing or for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are uninsured.
This announcement clarifies the circumstances in which group health plans and issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage must cover COVID-19 diagnostic tests without cost sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements to include tests for asymptomatic individuals without known or suspected exposure to COVID-19. In addition, the guidance confirms that plans and issuers must cover point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostic tests, and COVID-19 diagnostic tests administered at state or locally administered testing sites.
The Departments have received many questions about plan and issuer responsibility to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing for individuals who are asymptomatic and have no known or suspected recent exposure to COVID-19. Today's guidance clarifies that plans and issuers generally must cover, with no cost sharing, COVID-19 diagnostic tests regardless of whether the patient is experiencing symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19 when a licensed or authorized health care provider administers or has referred a patient for such a test. Additionally, plans and issuers are prohibited from requiring prior authorization or other medical management for COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
This guidance also reinforces existing policy regarding coverage for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and highlights avenues for providers to seek federal reimbursement for costs incurred when administering COVID-19 diagnostic testing or a COVID-19 vaccine to those who are uninsured. One such existing program is through the Provider Relief Fund program, which has a separate effort for providers to submit claims and seek reimbursement on a rolling basis for COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 treatment, and administering COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured individuals (the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program) [1] . The HRSA Uninsured Program has already reimbursed providers more than $3 billion for the testing and treatment of uninsured individuals, and expects to see vaccine administration claims as states scale up their vaccination efforts. To further build awareness about the availability of this program, this announcement seeks comment on strategies to connect those without insurance to care from providers participating in this fund.
Through previous guidance and rulemaking, the Departments addressed coverage requirements for COVID-19 vaccines and diagnostic testing in an interim final rule and FAQs Part 42 and FAQs Part 43. Today's announcement further expands upon and clarifies these policies. For more information on issuer and provider vaccine coverage and reimbursement requirements, the CMS toolkit is available here.
The guidance issued today can be viewed here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/faqs-part-44.pdf
For a complete and updated list of CMS actions, and other information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.
### Get CMS news at cms.gov/newsroom, sign up for CMS news via email and follow CMS on Twitter @CMSgov
The Faces Of The Vaccine Injured | Real, Not Rare
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:41
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What is aquamation? The process behind Desmond Tutu's 'green cremation' | Desmond Tutu | The Guardian
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:25
The body of Archbishop Desmond Tutu will undergo aquamation, an increasingly popular and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cremation methods, using water instead of fire.
With aquamation, or ''alkaline hydrolysis'', the body of the deceased is immersed for three to four hours in a mixture of water and a strong alkali, such as potassium hydroxide, in a pressurised metal cylinder and heated to around 150C.
The process liquifies everything except for the bones, which are then dried in an oven and reduced to white dust, placed in an urn and handed to relatives.
Like human composting, a technique of composting bodies with layers of organic material like leaves or wood chips, aquamation is still authorised only in certain countries. In South Africa, where Tutu died last Sunday, no legislation at all governs the practice.
First developed in the early 1990s as a way to discard the bodies of animals used in experiments, the method was then used to dispose of cattle during the mad cow disease epidemic, said US-based researcher Philip R Olson.
In the 2000s, US medical schools used aquamation to dispose of donated human cadavers, before the practice made its way into the funeral industry, Olson wrote in a 2014 paper.
Tutu, who died on Boxing Day aged 90, was known for his modest lifestyle. He left instructions that his funeral ceremony should be simple and without frills.
The anti-apartheid hero, whose funeral was held on Saturday, specifically asked for a cheap coffin and an eco-friendly cremation.
With burial space in urban areas worldwide becoming increasingly scarce and expensive, aquamation has obvious attractions. Its advocates say water is a gentler way to go than flames.
They also claim a liquid cremation consumes less energy than a conventional one, and emits less greenhouse gases.
According to UK-based firm Resomation, aquamation uses five times less energy than fire, and reduces a funeral's emissions of greenhouse gases by about 35%.
Aquamation is also used to dispose of animal carcasses in slaughterhouses, where it is considered to be more efficient and hygienic.
CES 2022: Five Tech Trends to Watch in an Unusual Year - WSJ
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:10
Omicron might prevent some big exhibitors from attending, but over 2,000 companies are expected in Las Vegas to unveil innovations
Nothing about this year's CES will be normal. That includes some of the biggest trends expected at the show.
The massive annual tech conference, which took place entirely online last year, kicks off Monday with in-person press events in Las Vegas. Despite the surge of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 over the holidays, the event's organizer, the Consumer Technology Association, said it would proceed but end a day early as a safety measure. The organization expects up to 75,000 attendees and over 2,200 exhibitors, including...
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Nothing about this year's CES will be normal. That includes some of the biggest trends expected at the show.
The massive annual tech conference, which took place entirely online last year, kicks off Monday with in-person press events in Las Vegas. Despite the surge of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 over the holidays, the event's organizer, the Consumer Technology Association, said it would proceed but end a day early as a safety measure. The organization expects up to 75,000 attendees and over 2,200 exhibitors, including Samsung Electronics Co . and Sony Group Corp .
A lengthy list of tech players have decided not to visit Las Vegas, however. Strict Covid-19 quarantine requirements in China have complicated travel for many Chinese companies'--including popular exhibitor and drone maker DJI'--and Israel in December barred its citizens from traveling to the U.S.
General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra will give her keynote virtually. T-Mobile US Inc. 's CEO, Mike Sievert, won't deliver his scheduled keynote at all. Event mainstays such as Intel Corp . , Lenovo Group Ltd . , LG Electronics Inc . and Panasonic Corp . have withdrawn or greatly reduced in-person staffing, and the biggest tech firms, including Alphabet Inc . 's Google, Meta Platforms Inc . (formerly Facebook), Microsoft Corp . and Amazon.com Inc . , which typically played smaller roles, have decided to stay home. (Our own team canceled plans to be there in person.)
Yet many companies still want to be in Las Vegas to get that face-to-face contact, CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said. ''You can only do so much by video chat and on the phone,'' he said.
While in-person demos and unveilings will be sparse, expect plenty of news and not just from the traditional TV, audio and home-appliance categories. The auto sector has become such a big part of the show, it is taking over the Las Vegas Convention Center's new West Hall expansion. And many other tech-adjacent companies view CES, even a thinly attended one, as a chance to get some attention.
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''There's always a bunch of stuff there I would have never thought of as consumer electronics,'' said Tim Bajarin, a tech analyst with Creative Strategies. ''But it's a much more diverse show than it has ever been,'' he added. He said he has been to CES 45 times'--missing a few in the late '70s and early '80s. He had planned to attend again this year before Omicron interfered.
Here is what is expected to be on tap for this year, from family tech to food, with a sprinkling of metaverse, cryptocurrency and NFTs.
Getting comfy at homeWe have spent two years mostly hanging out at home, and tech companies took notice. They are introducing products designed to help users relax and decompress when they aren't typing at a computer or Zooming into a meeting. They have designed smart beds that can nudge you when it is time to wake up, bathtubs that maintain consistent water temperature and air purifiers that also add fragrances to a room.
Developers are focusing on sensor-assisted products like lamps, toilets and bathtubs that respond based on time of day, air quality or who is in the room, the latest evolution of the Internet of Things.
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''It's a move from a connected home to a smart home that uses environmental cues to signal the sound, the lights, the overall feel of the home,'' said Mitch Klein, executive director of the Z-Wave Alliance, a smart-home standards organization.
Bemis Manufacturing Co. will show off a new line of smart air purifiers designed to adjust automatically to indoor air quality and emit essential-oil aromas. At night, the gadgets sense that the lights are lowered, and reduce noise so you can sleep.
Sleep Number Corp . and Sleepme Inc. are among the companies unveiling next-generation bed tech with more-advanced sensing and response capabilities for adults. Cradlewise touts similar tech for babies, using artificial intelligence that can tell when children are waking, learn what music will soothe them and gently bounce them back to sleep.
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Taking care of kids and parentsCES 2022 will have plenty of tech for the so-called ''sandwich generation,'' adults who care for both their kids and their parents: an AI-equipped baby monitor that can detect a covered face or a rollover, room sensors to track the movement of seniors, and health and activity wearables designed to meet the needs of every age group.
Florida-based CarePredict Inc. will show off an update to its wrist-worn Tempo that makes it easier for caregivers to communicate with their older loved ones (or make sure they are properly cared for). The new CareVoice feature lets people send audio messages to the watch wearer, whether it is greetings from a grandchild or a reminder to take medicine.
''It really is a human touch, even when you're not there,'' CarePredict CEO Satish Movva said. ''Your voice on their wrist.''
The device already detects falls, and can send an alert when its wearer skips meals, sleeps less or has other activity out of the norm.
Saving the planetMany major technology companies have talked up efforts to make their products more environmentally friendly. That includes using more recycled materials, making their devices easier to repair and reducing the packaging surrounding the products.
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Some of the products being shown at CES include a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered flying car concept from French company Maca, and a tabletop washer from another French firm, Auum, designed to cut down on single-use plastic by cleaning and drying a glass in 10 seconds.
Jong-Hee Han'--vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and head of the company's newly combined TV, home appliances and mobile division'--will spend his keynote Tuesday outlining Samsung's plans to make customizable and environmentally friendly tech.
From the Netherlands, RanMarine Technology will show off WasteShark, a floating autonomous drone that cleans pollution from waterways and collects data on water quality, while Orbisk will feature a device that uses image recognition to help hotels, restaurants and others reduce food waste.
Cooking and eatingThe buzziest thing at CES 2020, the last in-person show before the pandemic, wasn't a gadget, software or a service, but Impossible Foods Inc.'s Impossible Pork, a plant-based meat designed to cook and smell like ground pork.
This year at the show, a half-day food-tech conference will showcase advances in areas such as agriculture, ingredient innovation, meal kits and deliveries, vertical farming and, of course, more plant-based meat. Impossible Foods will be there, as will MycoTechnology, which will debut a meat alternative made from fungi.
The conference will also cover ''how robotics will change the face of food,'' said Michael Wolf, founder of The Spoon, an online food-tech industry publication that is hosting the event. For instance, farm-equipment giant Deere & Co. will discuss how automation can address labor shortages and unpredictable weather.
Looking aheadThe metaverse is a hot topic right now. In October, Facebook Inc. changed its name to Meta Platforms Inc., in preparation for the internet's next chapter: People strap on high-tech glasses so their avatars can interact, wherever they are in the world. At CES 2022, tech companies of all sizes are showing tools to build and navigate this virtual future.
Hyundai Motor Group will allow visitors to create avatars and test drive new concept cars in cyberspace. The startup Bhaptics will demo gaming gloves designed to replace hand-held VR controllers. Samsung is marketing its metaverse ambitions with a VR home-decorating platform.
And the conference is hosting a new program to discuss nonfungible tokens (aka NFTs), virtual certificates that show you own a digital object.
''Are we a little ahead of our skis on the topics of metaverse and NFTs? Yes,'' said Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at tech-industry analysis firm Lopez Research. ''But that's kind of what CES is about.''
'--For more WSJ Technology analysis, reviews, advice and headlines, sign up for our weekly newsletter.
Write to Shara Tibken at shara.tibken@wsj.com and Dalvin Brown at dalvin.brown@wsj.com
After COVID test on plane, woman spends flight in bathroom | WGN-TV
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:09
(NewsNation Now) '-- A Chicago teacher spent several hours in an airplane bathroom after testing positive for COVID-19 during the flight.
Marisa Fotieo was flying to Iceland; she was only about an hour into the flight when her throat started to hurt, so she took a self-test during the flight. It came back positive; Fotieo said in a Dec. 20 TikTok video she shared about her experience.
Fotieo then notified a flight attendant, and it was decided she would spend the rest of the flight in the bathroom.
But the teacher told WZZM the airline did an excellent job of making her as comfortable as possible.
''Their flight attendants are so positive and so kind, and they just put everybody at ease the second that this happened, and they put me at ease, which is why I think I was so willing to stay in that bathroom,'' she said.
After landing, Fotieo was quarantined for 10 days and had to spend the Christmas holiday alone. However, the flight attendant who helped Fotieo spread some holiday cheer by sending food and gifts while she was in quarantine.
Germany shuts down half of its 6 remaining nuclear plants
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:08
By FRANK JORDANS
Updated 12/31/2021 2:51 PM
BERLIN -- Germany on Friday shut down half of the six nuclear plants it still has in operation, a year before the country draws the final curtain on its decades-long use of atomic power.
The decision to phase out nuclear power and shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy was first taken by the center-left government of Gerhard Schroeder in 2002. His successor, Angela Merkel, reversed her decision to extend the lifetime of Germany's nuclear plants in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and set 2022 as the final deadline for shutting them down.
The three reactors now being shuttered were first powered up in the mid-1980s. Together they provided electricity to millions of German households for almost four decades.
One of the plants - Brokdorf, located 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Hamburg on the Elbe River - became a particular focus of anti-nuclear protests that were fueled by the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in the Soviet Union.
The other two plants are Grohnde, 40 kilometers south of Hannover, and Gundremmingen, 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Munich.
Some in Germany have called for the decision on ending the use of nuclear power to be reconsidered because the power plants already in operation produce relatively little carbon dioxide. Advocates of atomic energy argue that it can help Germany meet its climate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But the German government said this week that decommissioning all nuclear plants next year and then phasing out the use of coal by 2030 won't affect the country's energy security or its goal of making Europe's biggest economy 'Å'climate neutral'¯½ by 2045.
'Å'By massively increasing renewable energy and accelerating the expansion of the electricity grid we can show that this is possible in Germany,'¯½ Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said.
Renewable energy sources delivered almost 46% of the electricity generated in Germany in 2021. Coal accounted for more than 51%, while nuclear power provided over 13%, according to the Fraunhofer Institute.
Several of Germany's neighbors have already ended nuclear power or announced plans to do so, but others are sticking with the technology. This has prompted concerns of a nuclear rift in Europe, with France planning to build new reactors and Germany opting for natural gas as a 'Å'bridge'¯½ until enough renewable power is available, and both sides arguing their preferred source of energy be classed as sustainable.
Germany's remaining three nuclear plants - Emsland, Isar and Neckarwestheim - will be powered down by the end of 2022.
While some jobs will be lost, utility company RWE said more than two-thirds of the 600 workers at its Gundremmingen nuclear power station will continue to be involved in post-shutdown operations through to the 2030s. Germany's nuclear power companies will receive almost $3 billion for the early shutdown of their plants.
Environment Minister Steffi Lemke has dismissed suggestions that a new generation of nuclear power plants might prompt Germany to change course yet again.
'Å'Nuclear power plants remain high-risk facilities that produce highly radioactive atomic waste,'¯½ she told the Funke media group this week.
A final decision has yet to be taken about where to store the most potent nuclear waste produced in German power plants. Experts say some material will remain dangerously radioactive for 35,000 generations.
___
Follow AP's coverage of climate news at http://apnews.com/hub/climate
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Inside Europe's Cocaine Gateway: 'A Repeat of Miami in the 1980s' - WSJ
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:04
Antwerp, now the No. 1 port in Europe for cocaine busts, has seen a rise in gang violence and corruption
ANTWERP, Belgium'--For centuries, goods flowing through the giant port here have enriched this elegant city, known for its diamonds, art and fashion.
Now a different import from across the Atlantic'--cocaine'--has unleashed a gusher of cash that officials say is swamping Antwerp with corruption, violence and economic distortion.
Authorities have...
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ANTWERP, Belgium'--For centuries, goods flowing through the giant port here have enriched this elegant city, known for its diamonds, art and fashion.
Now a different import from across the Atlantic'--cocaine'--has unleashed a gusher of cash that officials say is swamping Antwerp with corruption, violence and economic distortion.
Authorities have seized 88 metric tons of cocaine stashed in containers from Latin America this year, nearly 10 times the figure in 2014. It is far more than any other European port, as traffickers flood the continent with so much cocaine that it may now be a bigger market than the U.S., according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The resulting injection of cash has warped the city's economy and strained society. Police, customs officers and a hospital worker have been arrested for feeding information to cocaine-trafficking networks via encrypted apps. Reputed traffickers rent supercars for hundreds of euros a day and recruit youths with the allure of quick cash and flashy lifestyles. Legitimate companies struggle to compete with criminals' front businesses that can tolerate large losses.
''It's a drug economy,'' said Kevin Daniels, the DEA's deputy chief in Europe. ''It's a repeat of Miami in the 1980s.''
Antwerp and nearby Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Europe's two largest ports, are now the main gateway for cocaine into the continent, according to a joint report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Europol, the European Union's police agency. Officials seized less than 10 tons in Antwerp in 2014, the September report said.
Gangs able to bring the cocaine ashore through their connections at the ports, many of Moroccan or Albanian heritage, have risen in power in recent years. The cocaine that police seized this year had a wholesale value in the low billions of euros, and likely many times more got through undetected, officials said.
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The inflow has triggered a spate of gang violence. Restaurants and homes have been hit by grenades and rifle fire. The message of such attacks can be a warning to rival gangs, pressure on a port official to aid a gang, or a sneaky method to undermine rivals by alerting police that the owners of a cafe may be linked to the drug trade.
The cash tsunami is distorting Antwerp's economy, officials say, jacking up prices for real estate and existing businesses.
''Bad money drives out good money,'' said Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever. ''They will chase out honest people.''
Some companies are used to launder money, from restaurants to luxury car dealers. Far more widespread and pernicious are companies that undermine and disrupt the legal economy, said Yve Driesen, director of the Federal Judicial Police in Antwerp.
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Drug traffickers buy restaurants or shops to give the impression that their fortunes derive from legal commerce. Front companies also use legal activities to hide their illegal drugs-related work. For example, a transport company that extracts cocaine from shipping containers could also carry out legal transport on behalf of multinationals.
''They will win contracts because their prices are lower than competitors,'' said Mr. Driesen.
Other companies have popped up to service the criminals. Resellers of encrypted phones depend on drug gangs who are the only ones able to afford contracts that can cost thousands of dollars a year, officials say. Companies rent out luxury cars for the equivalent of $1,000 a day and more.
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''They can only exist and flourish thanks to the cash of local drugs criminals,'' said Mr. Driesen.
To sneak their drugs through the port, traffickers are paying port workers multiples of their monthly salaries to move containers for surreptitious unloading, bribing customs officers to help them evade inspections, and prosecutors and police, including senior officers, to avoid the law, officials say.
''Every layer of society is infected,'' said Mr. De Wever, the mayor.
The effects are easy enough to miss if you're not paying attention, he said, especially for those living in the wealthier south of the city.
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The money is pouring into poorer areas with large immigrant populations in the north of the city, where many of the criminals hail from. Criminal gangs give money to causes, such as youth soccer teams, to burnish their reputations, officials say.
Mobsters can then rely on teenagers to watch for license plates of cops or swarm police to hamper drug arrests. Drawn into the criminal environment, they can move up the food chain and earn thousands of euros by acting as couriers for small bags of cocaine for gang members riding in luxury cars and wearing expensive suits.
''That's not a positive role model,'' said Mr. Driesen.
Authorities are trying to fight back, pooling resources and information among police, prosecutors, customs and other services. Law enforcement and city hall are using various powers to close down eateries with links to money from cocaine. Associations of port companies and dock workers launched an awareness campaign and a hotline for anonymously reporting suspicious behavior.
Earlier this year, police infiltrated an encrypted messenger system, downloading around one billion messages that led to hundreds of arrests and spurred many further investigations, dealing a blow to the gangs here. But officials acknowledge they are fighting a relentless enemy.
''In a few months, there are other people who will take their place, but the experience helps us develop new strategies,'' said Franky De Keyzer, Antwerp's chief prosecutor. ''It's always a bit of a cat-and-mouse game.''
Write to James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com
Snow Closed the Highways. GPS Mapped a Harrowing Detour in the Sierra Nevada. - The New York Times
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 14:59
Public safety officials warned that alternate routes offered by apps like Google Maps and Waze don't always take into account hazards to drivers.
Volunteers helped a driver who was stranded after being led by a GPS system down a snow-covered, two-lane dirt road as an alternative route to the closed Interstate 80 on Monday night. Credit... Washoe County Sheriff's Office Dec. 31, 2021
The road once carried stagecoaches during the Gold Rush, twisting its way through what is now a national forest and an area of the Sierra Nevada known for snowmobiling.
In the winter, the rugged passage, known as the Quincy-La Porte Road or County Road 511 in Plumas County, Calif., is closed.
But Wendy Becktold, an editor from the Bay Area who was on her way to visit an ailing relative in Reno, Nev., on Monday, said that she had been unaware of that when she navigated her rented Toyota Corolla while the region was still grappling with a record-setting snowstorm.
Google Maps had guided her that way because two major highways near Lake Tahoe were shut down, she recounted in an interview on Wednesday, echoing concerns of other drivers and public safety officials about the potential hazards of relying too heavily on GPS applications.
They said that Google Maps and Waze, which is also owned by Google, along with other mapping programs, wouldn't always account for seasonal road closures or treacherous terrain, emphasizing temporary road closures instead.
''There were a lot of cars behind us,'' Ms. Becktold said. ''Clearly, Google Maps was routing everyone the same way.''
Ms. Becktold, 50, a senior story editor for Sierra, a magazine published by the Sierra Club, said she and her cousin had seen a tree limb on a power line and had passed many cabins as they unknowingly pressed on. Then, a worker in a safety vest waved them off, said Ms. Becktold, who lives in Berkeley, Calif.
''He said, 'Everybody just keeps showing me their phones,''' Ms. Becktold recalled. ''He was just like exasperated.''
A Google Maps spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday that the tech company was taking steps to provide drivers with accurate route information.
''In light of the unpredictable conditions from the current snowstorm, our team is working as quickly as possible to update routes in the Lake Tahoe area using details from local authorities.'' the spokeswoman, Madison Gouveia, said. ''We currently show a winter storm warning to alert drivers in the area, and encourage everyone to stay alert and attentive.''
Google Maps did not answer questions about what kind of safeguards for drivers it uses, including warnings about winter road closings or unpaved roads. SFGate.com earlier reported the white-knuckle detours.
Image Raymond DeGuzman of Hayward, Calif., removed snow chains from his tires in Pollock Pines, Calif., on Tuesday as his daughters shivered nearby. Heavy snow slowed eastbound traffic on U.S. Highway 50 to a crawl, and the family had decided to turn back. Credit... Randall Benton/Associated Press In Washoe County, Nev., which includes Reno, a family of five from Southern California was stranded for two hours on Monday night when their rented pickup truck got stuck in the snow on a two-lane dirt road, the county sheriff's office said.
The family had sought an alternate route on the way to visit relatives for the holidays in Truckee, Calif., during the storm, which closed an 81-mile stretch of Interstate 80 and contributed to the snowiest December in the Sierra on record.
More than 17 feet of snow had fallen during the month as of Thursday, according to the Central Sierra Snow Lab of the University of California, Berkeley. The storm also closed Highway 50 for about 50 miles in the Sacramento Valley and the Lake Tahoe Basin before it and I-80 reopened.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office said that the family had ignored illuminated warning signs telling drivers not to use the Dog Valley-Henness Pass Roads.
''However, the family's GPS won the battle of which technology to listen to,'' the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post on Tuesday, adding that the family had been rescued.
It was not clear what GPS application the family had been using.
In a public warning last week, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office said that drivers had frequently taken the same detour when using GPS. From November 2020 to last February, emergency responders were called to 11 rescues, according to the sheriff.
Raquel Borrayo, a spokeswoman for Caltrans, California's state transportation department, said in an email on Wednesday that the agency had tried to reinforce that overreliance on GPS apps could be risky.
''When people try to use mapping apps like Waze or Google Maps to avoid highway closures, they can sometimes be put in very precarious and dangerous situations with unplowed roads/dirt roads, heavy amounts of snow and zero cellphone service,'' Ms. Borrayo said. ''We always tell people to stay on highways and find alternate routes that way vs. using rural roads. We also recommend people just stay put and wait until the interstate or highway closure has been lifted.''
During this week's storm, several people posted screen shots on Twitter of Google Maps and Waze directions sending users to the Henness Pass Road, which the Sierra County Historical Society describes as a secluded and winding mountain road that rises to an elevation of 6,920 feet. The road, a primary emigrant trail from Virginia City, Nev., is ''left off many maps,'' according to a description on the historical society's website.
The Donner Pass, named for the doomed snowbound pioneer family, some of whom resorted to cannibalism during the 1840s, is about 40 miles from the detour.
A spokeswoman for Waze said in an email on Thursday that the company was committed to helping drivers navigate efficiently and safely.
''In light of this week's snowstorm and changing weather conditions, Waze Community Map Editors continue to keep our maps updated with the latest real-time routing information,'' the spokeswoman, Caroline Bourdeau, said. ''We encourage drivers to exercise caution and to stay alert on the road,''
Waze has a filter that allows drivers to avoid unpaved roads.
Crystal A. Kolden, a geographer and disaster scientist who teaches at the University of California, Merced, said she could not believe it when she saw that Google Maps had suggested Henness Pass and other backcountry roads to drivers seeking alternatives to I-80.
''They're barely drivable in the summer,'' Professor Kolden said on Wednesday. ''How reliable do these companies have an ethical responsibility to be?''
Professor Kolden, 44, who was at her home near Sonora, Calif., in the foothills of the Sierra during the storm, criticized Google maps on Twitter. Some commenters mocked her post, saying that drivers should take responsibility for monitoring conditions and that she sounded like a Prius-driving millennial.
''Blaming vulnerable people for going down the wrong road is the same as blaming some of those poor vulnerable people who drowned in their basement apartments in New York City not long ago,'' she said in an interview, referring to deadly flooding in September.
On Wednesday, Google Maps showed red dots with dashes in them on the road that Ms. Becktold had taken during her circuitous journey on Monday. The road closure warnings hadn't been there two days earlier, she said.
''It wasn't like we were just frolicking along, looking for a day in the snow,'' Ms. Becktold said.
Ms. Becktold said she had no choice but to return to Berkeley when she had been about 150 miles into the 200-mile trip. Her cousin, who had been trying to reach her ailing brother in Reno, eventually resorted to flying from San Francisco to Reno '-- through Los Angeles, she said.
''It seems kind of silly in this day and age,'' she said, ''that there can't be clearer information online that these roads are closed.''
China Warns Walmart Against Removing Products Made in Xinjiang - WSJ
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 14:49
Country says retailer could face consequences for boycotting items from the region where the U.S. has human-rights concerns
Dec. 31, 2021 11:13 am ETChina's anti-corruption watchdog criticized Walmart Inc. on Friday, warning of a consumer boycott following reports that the world's largest retailer had stopped stocking products from Xinjiang in its China-based Walmart and Sam's Club stores.
Walmart had no ''justifiable reason'' for taking down products from an entire region, the ruling Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a strongly worded statement Friday. The agency added that the move was prompted by ulterior motives and showed ''stupidity...
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China's anti-corruption watchdog criticized Walmart Inc. on Friday, warning of a consumer boycott following reports that the world's largest retailer had stopped stocking products from Xinjiang in its China-based Walmart and Sam's Club stores.
Walmart had no ''justifiable reason'' for taking down products from an entire region, the ruling Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a strongly worded statement Friday. The agency added that the move was prompted by ulterior motives and showed ''stupidity and short-sightedness.'' The American big-box retailer would suffer the consequences for its actions, CCDI said.
Walmart declined to comment Friday.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart sparked a social-media backlash earlier this month over comments online that shoppers were unable to find products typically sourced from Xinjiang on online stores operated by Walmart and Sam's Club China, its members-only wholesale retail chain.
Xinjiang, a northwestern region in China home to millions of Muslim minorities, has stirred up geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China, with the U.S. accusing Chinese authorities of engaging in genocide and forced labor there. China has denied both accusations, adding that its policies have been in the name of national security and to combat terrorism.
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As word of Walmart's alleged Xinjiang product removal spread online last week, some users posted screenshots of their conversations with online customer service agents, who had told them products from Xinjiang were out of stock. Others wrote online they would be giving up their Sam's Club memberships. Party-controlled media also added to the debate.
Checks by The Wall Street Journal on Walmart and Sam's Club's e-commerce stores on Dec. 24 and on Friday turned up no products from Xinjiang, but red dates from Xinjiang were found in a Walmart supermarket in downtown Beijing last weekend.
Before Walmart's run-in with China, U.S. semiconductor giant Intel Corp. had apologized to the Chinese public for a public letter to its suppliers asking them to refrain from sourcing from Xinjiang. On Dec. 23, President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law. The law bans all imports to the U.S. from the region unless companies can certify that such products are free from forced labor.
In March, Hennes & Mauritz
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presence had been wiped off China's main e-commerce, ride-hailing, daily-deals and map applications, after the Swedish clothing brand's decision to stop sourcing from China's Xinjiang region.
On Friday, the CCDI said the actions by companies such as H&M, Intel and Sam's Club were akin to ''using their own actions to hit their face.'' The agency called the explanation supposedly given by Sam's Club's customer service representative a ''self deceiving excuse.'' It calculated that Walmart was earning about 1 billion yuan ($157 million) in memberships from the more than 4 million members it had in China, and warned the company not to overstep its boundaries.
''China is Walmart's second-largest overseas market, if they want to stand firmly in the Chinese market, they need to show enough sincerity and attitude, respect the facts, distinguish right from wrong, respect China's principles and the feelings of Chinese citizens,'' the agency wrote. ''If not, Chinese citizens and consumers will use their actions to respond resolutely.''
China is home to 434 Walmart and Sam's Club stores, covering more than 69 million square feet, as of the end of January 2021, making the country Walmart's second-largest international market by retail square footage, according to the company's most recent annual report. Mexico, where the big box retailer runs almost more than 2,600 stores, is its largest foreign market.
'--Sarah Nassauer contributed to this article.
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Write to Liza Lin at Liza.Lin@wsj.com
Octopuses Rolling on MDMA Reveal Unexpected Link to Humans
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 14:41
Photo by Pakkawit Anantaya / EyeEm / Getty Images.
When the California two-spot octopus isn't attempting to bring more eight-legged cephalopods into this world, it prefers to be alone. Known to scientists as Octopus bimaculoides, the alien-like invertebrate spends most of its time hiding or searching for food, asocial males avoiding asocial females until their biological clocks say it's time to partner up. That is, until they are on MDMA. In a groundbreaking study, researchers described how octopuses on the drug act similarly to a socially anxious human on MDMA: They open up.
G¼l D¶len, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and the co-author of the 2018 Current Biology paper. She tells Inverse that when octopuses are on MDMA, it's like watching ''an eight-armed hug.''
''They were very loose,'' D¶len says. ''They just embraced with multiple arms.''
While MDMA is known to trigger prosocial behavior in mice and humans, it has never been witnessed in invertebrates, animals that have no backbone. Vertebrates and invertebrates have wildly divergent bodies and brain structures, and for a long time scientists didn't think the latter had the capacity to be social. They only recently realized invertebrates deserved a second look.
Because of improvements in molecular genetic analysis, D¶len explains, we're beginning to understand the ways in which both groups evolved from a common ancestor. The findings of the study add evidence to the idea that social behaviors have a long evolutionary history '-- going back much farther than we ever believed. The electrifying results could significantly impact what we know about the evolution of brains and why MDMA-assisted therapy seems to be such a useful tool in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
''After the MDMA, it was like an eight-armed hug.''
An octopus differs from a human in ways far beyond the obvious. A heap of no bones and 33,000 genes, octopuses are believed to be Earth's first intelligent beings. They are utterly different from all other animals, with a central brain that surrounds the esophagus and two-thirds of their neurons in their arms. They're separated from humans by more than 500 million years of evolution. But despite the differences between octopuses and humans, D¶len and her colleague Eric Edsinger, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Chicago's Marine Biological Laboratory, choose to focus on a single crucial similarity. The brain of the California two-spot octopus contains a serotonin transporter that enables the binding of MDMA '-- much like human brains.
This means that serotonin '-- believed to help regulate mood, social behavior, sleep, and sexual desire '-- is an ancient neurotransmitter that's shared across vertebrate and invertebrate species. D¶len and Edsinger hypothesized this before the octopuses were ever bathed in MDMA.
''We needed to check the genome to make sure that the genes that encode the serotonin transporter, which is the protein that MDMA binds to, was still a binding site in octopuses even despite the fact that so much evolutionary time had passed,'' D¶len explains.
''We performed phylogenetic tree mapping and found that, even though their whole serotonin transporter gene is only 50 to 60 percent similar to humans, the gene was still conserved. That told us that MDMA would have a place to go in the octopus brain and suggested it could encode sociality as it does in a human brain.''
That's a revolutionary suggestion because scientists only very recently began to accept that invertebrates are even capable of being social. After all, without MDMA, California two-spot octopuses prefer to be loners. In a 2017 study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers from Queen Mary University of of London wrote the possibility that invertebrates could have emotions has ''traditionally been dismissed by many as emotions are frequently defined with reference to human subjective experience, and invertebrates are often not considered to have the neural requirements for such sophisticated abilities.''
But recent studies, illustrating a shift in thinking, have shown that invertebrates like sea slugs, bees, and crabs all display various cognitive, behavioral, and phsyiological phenomena that suggest internal states reminiscent of emotions.
This is why the fact that octopuses can bind serotonin is so important. Serotonin is a key mitigator of the emotional aspects of human behavior and sociality. That octopuses, one of the most advanced invertebrates, have a similar pathway geared toward social behavior despite the fact that their brains are organized very differently suggests that sociality is spread across the animal kingdom.
''There have been studies showing that serotonin is important for social behaviors for both invertebrates and vertebrates, and this really confirms to me that it's true that serotonin is conserved across hundreds of millions of years of evolution,'' says D¶len.
This became clear when she observed how octopuses acted after they were bathed in MDMA. Individual octopuses were put into the middle zone of a glass aquarium that was divided into three. From the middle zone, the subject octopus had the option to move into the zone on either side of it. On one side, there was another octopus in a cage, and on the other, there was a ''novel toy object'' (a Stormtrooper figurine). Sociality was measured by the number of seconds the subject octopus spent on the side with the caged octopus compared to the Stormtrooper side. Five octopuses were used in the control experiment, and four were used during the MDMA trial.
Watching the individual control octopuses '-- those that hadn't been bathed in MDMA '-- during 30-minute test sessions, the researchers found that all of the octopuses spent more time with the Stormtrooper when the social chamber contained a male. When the social chamber contained a female, both male and female octopuses tentatively explored that area.
They would ''push against the wall and sort of delicately touch the container that had the octopus in it,'' says D¶len.
But when these octopuses were on MDMA, they were not delicate with their movements toward the caged individuals. After being placed in a bath with MDMA for 10 minutes, and then washed with saline for 20 minutes,, and they re-entered the three-zone aquarium. This time around, they spent significantly more time with the other octopus, whether it was male or female, and the eight-armed hugging commenced.
''This paper is welcomed, as the behavioral neuroscience of cephalopods is very understudied,'' Dalhousie University invertebrate behavioral physiologist Shelley Adamo, Ph.D., who was not involved with the current paper, tells Inverse. Adamo also studies the interactions between behavior and physiology in invertebrate model systems. ''We know little about how their brains work. This paper breaks new ground by examining the underlying molecular basis of at least one neurotransmitter system.''
But she also cautions that it's too early to jump to conclusions because the paper's evidence that ''the octopus were engaging in 'social' behaviors is not especially strong.'' There could be alternative explanations for all that friendliness. Maybe the drug altered their foraging behavior and the target octopus ''smelled'' like food (cephalopods are occasionally cannibalistic). Maybe the MDMA changed their typical hunting behavior, and being hungry could explain why both male and female octopuses were interested in the target.
''As with most interesting papers, it raises a number of questions: What would two octopus do if they were both on MDMA and they could contact one another?'' Adamo asks. ''The small sample size '-- a necessary evil for most studies on cephalopods '-- means that the data is not as robust as it could be.''
D¶len has two hypotheses to explain what happened. Qualitatively, it looks like octopuses on MDMA, much like humans, could just like touching in general,, and the octopus in the cage ''is the most interesting object that an octopus would want to touch.'' Or it could be that the drug really does make them social. The latter, she believes, is the most robust hypothesis: MDMA affects human interest in social touch as well, and that seems to be preserved in octopuses as well.
''What this says to me is that in the brain of an octopus, the neural circuits and transmitters that are required for social behavior must exist,, and they are just suppressed most of the time,'' says D¶len. ''Octopuses appear to suspend their asociality during important mating periods through a suppression mechanism in their brain.''
The MDMA used in the study was provided by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the nonprofit organization that funds the FDA-approved Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients with severe PTSD. This research, D¶len says, has intrigued MAPS founder Rick Doblin, and with good reason. It suggests that perhaps the best way to gain insight into MDMA's mechanisms and therapeutic importance isn't by taking an fMRI picture of the brain and examining the regions it activates, which has been standard practice in MDMA research. From D¶len's point of view, the fact that octopuses don't have the the same brain regions as humans but still carry the genes that enable MDMA binding means that molecular and cellular information is going to be more useful than anatomical data.
''Octopuses don't have the same parts of the brain that we think are important for social behavior, a region called the nucleus accumbens,'' says D¶len.
''What we're arguing is that the brain regions don't matter. What matters is that they have the molecules, the neurotransmitters, and some configuration of neurons. They have the serotonin transporter,, and that's enough.''
Sarah Sloat is a writer based in Brooklyn. She has previously written for The New Republic, Pacific Standard, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. She likes cheese especially when paired with a full-bodied joke.
Quebec backtracks, plans to allow dog-walking after curfew | Montreal Gazette
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 12:51
While not currently allowed, the provincial government says it will permit dog walking as soon possible.
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Walking the dog near the vaccination centre at the Palais des congr(C)s on Nov. 23, 2021. ( Photo by Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal GazetteFollowing public outrage, Quebec once again plans to allow dog-walking between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., the hours covered by the province's latest COVID-19 curfew.
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''As currently drafted in the ministerial decree, the fact of leaving your residence to walk your dog is not one of the exceptions to go out outside of curfew hours,'' the ministry of Health and Social Services said in an email to Presse Canadienne.
''However, it is the government's intention to include this missing exception again as soon as possible,'' added spokesperson Marie-H(C)l¨ne ‰mond.
The decree for the province's previous curfew, which ended in May 2021, specified a person would be permitted outside after hours for the purpose of walking a dog, so long as they stayed within one kilometre of their residence.
Other exceptions to the previous curfew, such as going to a gas station or accompanying someone in need of help, are still included in the new decree.
More On This Topic Quebec opposition says COVID-19 curfew a sign of government's failure Quebec reinstates curfew, closes dining rooms, bans private gatherings as cases soar Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Montreal Gazette, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
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2021 Was the Deadliest on Washington Roads in 15 Years, Puzzling Experts | The Daily Chronicle
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 12:48
David Kroman / The Seattle Times
As Washington went quiet in the early days of the pandemic, Staci Hoff figured at least it would mean fewer deaths on the roads in 2020. She was wrong.
Then, as cars began returning in 2021, she hoped maybe the carnage would slow as congestion increased and speeds decreased. She was wrong again.
Washington ended 2021 with more fatal and serious car crashes than it's seen in 15 years. On the heels of an especially deadly 2020, the continued rise is a frustrating and increasingly confounding trend that's playing out nationwide. Experts can't point to a single reason.
"We have talked 2020 to death, but it is the end of 2021 and this was way worse," said Hoff, research director for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. "The increases that we're seeing in very serious crashes are not subsiding."
Washington for the year saw 540 fatal crashes, which killed more than 600 people, according to data from the Washington State Department of Transportation. Not since 2006 have the numbers been that high. In 118 of the year's fatal crashes, a bicyclist or pedestrian was killed.
An additional 2,411 crashes in 2021 resulted in likely serious injury '-- also the most since 2006 and 16% more than in 2020.
Alcohol- and drug-influenced serious and fatal crashes remained high in 2021, sustaining a harrowing 25% jump from 2019 to 2020. Speed, too, continued to play an outsized role after climbing nearly 18% in 2020.
In Seattle, 31 people were killed in car crashes in 2021, according to preliminary data from the Seattle Department of Transportation. That, too, is the most since 2006. Jim Curtain, project development director at SDOT, said 19 of those deaths were pedestrians, and nearly half involved hit-and-runs. The city has also seen a jump in impaired driving, Curtain said.
"It's absolutely discouraging," said John Milton, director of transportation safety and systems analysis for WSDOT. "It's our job is to reduce fatal and serious crashes. I think of this as, 'what if that was my family member out there?' "
Counterintuitively, total crashes were lower in both 2020 and 2021 than they'd been in at least the previous 15 years, a sign that the proportion of crashes leading to catastrophic outcomes is through the roof.
For Hoff and other researchers, there's no single explanation for why this year was worse than last, except that the conditions laid out in 2020 have not receded.
"Nothing is shifting dramatically" from last year, said Hoff. "We had a small uptick in impairment, we had a small uptick in speeding in terms of a factor. More of it is happening, but not one thing is driving it."
Early in the pandemic, anecdotal reports from state troopers and road workers suggested behavior behind the wheel had become more extreme '-- a hunch borne out in the rise of speed-related crashes and so-called "aggressive drivers." As the roads emptied, drivers could more easily hit triple digits on their speedometers.
Combined with a rise in alcohol and drug use, collisions that may have been moderate in 2019 became serious or deadly in 2020.
As traffic returns, 2021's picture is less obvious. Speed and distraction are almost certainly at the trend's core, said Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington. But there's another, more nebulous cause that's even more difficult to track.
"We have a pissed-off society," he said. "When you are in your big metal box of a car, you have an awful lot of ability to act out your frustrations both with accelerator and brake."
Not just a statistic
It took years for Paul Ossorio to accept that he couldn't have prevented his brother's death. That's what's so different about losing someone to a car crash, he said.
"You feel the guilt, not that you killed them, but like you let their life slip through your fingers," he said.
It was more than 30 years ago that a drunken driver hit his brother, Todd, 20, who was riding his bicycle to the store to buy a Frank Sinatra CD set and biography for their mother's birthday. Now, decades later, a jump in traffic deaths is more than a statistic to Ossorio.
"Each number represents, obviously, that somebody died, but it also represents countless people who are affected," he said. "And that's really the number."
Washington's 6% rise in serious and fatal crashes from 2019 to 2020 was close to average for the country that year, which saw a national 7% spike, according to the National Safety Council.
Maine, Arkansas and Washington, D.C., experienced the sharpest jumps, each over 30%. Rhode Island saw a 24% increase.
The council hasn't come out with its final tallies for 2021 yet, but preliminary data released in September showed a 16% increase for the first six months of the year. Washington's rise was around 1% '-- a smaller but nonetheless notable increase.
"The alarming trend in Washington state really highlights the fact that we need to think about how we ensure that if someone does make a mistake that it's survivable," said Dongho Chang, WSDOT's state traffic engineer.
Hallenbeck of the UW said decades of design decisions have led to this moment. Straight and wide roads, combined with quieter and larger cars, remove sensory clues for drivers, making it easier to speed. The pandemic emphasized the most dangerous parts of those decisions.
"All of our senses tell us to drive quickly unless there's a bunch of traffic in front of us," he said. "When we removed it for the pandemic, everybody drove fast. They drove fast, partly because they had no clue how fast they were driving, and partly because they could. So with speeds up, lots of bad things happen."
At the same time, the cause of the rise in 2021 is proving more complicated to pinpoint than 2020. Traffic levels are nearly back to 2019 levels and the Washington State Patrol had fewer contacts with "aggressive drivers."
But the stressors of 2020 '-- isolation, uncertainty, fear '-- remain. And with them comes an environment still conducive to high speeds, said Hoff, so that "instead of something that may have resulted in an injury in 2019 or 2020, it is a fatality in 2021."
Preventing crashes
Since the start of the pandemic, police have cut speed-related traffic stops by a third, according to data from the Washington State Patrol. Sgt. Darren Wright said coronavirus precautions are still being taken, which means officers are less proactive.
"They were assessing and trying to figure out how to keep their officers safe," said Shelly Baldwin, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. "And people kind of knew that maybe they weren't going to get caught doing the kinds of things that they would have gotten caught doing."
For some safe-street advocates, however, enforcement should come second to design, especially at a time when police involvement in traffic stops is receiving new scrutiny.
"Preventative measures are better than punitive ones," said Laura Goodfellow, an advocate for safer streets. "I'd rather have a road where it feels hard and unnatural to speed. It doesn't really help anyone to be getting tickets."
Milton of WSDOT said the state is constantly looking for the weak points in the system. He pointed to busy streets with stoplights that drivers ignore, such as Aurora Avenue and Lake City Way, both of which were some of Seattle's deadliest streets, as they've been in the past. The state is working to install more roundabouts, which can cut down on deadly crashes through intersections.
In Seattle, Councilmember Andrew Lewis pushed through a small increase in the city's commercial parking tax to fund safety measures in the city.
"It's not a sufficient amount of money to solve the problem; it is a sufficient amount of money to make a difference," he said.
Seattle has also recently installed new traffic-enforcement cameras, added more bike lanes downtown and redesigned some dangerous streets like Rainier Avenue. Curtain of SDOT said the city will soon partner with WSDOT to make improvements to Aurora Avenue by adding more signaled crosswalks and building out sidewalks on both sides of the street. He also said the city is looking toward receiving money from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in November, about $5 billion of which is earmarked for safety grants.
But looking to the future, it's hard to say with any confidence that the trend will quickly reverse.
"If there were easy solutions, trust me, the engineering community would have done it," said Hallenbeck. "But there aren't. There aren't easy solutions because we can't engineer our way out of human behavior."
What is aquamation? The process behind Desmond Tutu's 'green cremation' | Desmond Tutu | The Guardian
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 12:03
Show caption A bunch of carnations atop the pine coffin of Archbishop Desmond Tutu at his funeral in Cape Town on Saturday. Tutu requested a cheap coffin and eco-friendly cremation. Photograph: Jaco Marais/AP
Desmond TutuThe anti-apartheid hero requested an eco-friendly cremation, which uses water instead of flames to process the remains
Agence France-Presse
The body of Archbishop Desmond Tutu will undergo aquamation, an increasingly popular and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cremation methods, using water instead of fire.
With aquamation, or ''alkaline hydrolysis'', the body of the deceased is immersed for three to four hours in a mixture of water and a strong alkali, such as potassium hydroxide, in a pressurised metal cylinder and heated to around 150C.
Desmond Tutu laid to rest at state funeral in Cape Town The process liquifies everything except for the bones, which are then dried in an oven and reduced to white dust, placed in an urn and handed to relatives.
Like human composting, a technique of composting bodies with layers of organic material like leaves or wood chips, aquamation is still authorised only in certain countries. In South Africa, where Tutu died last Sunday, no legislation at all governs the practice.
First developed in the early 1990s as a way to discard the bodies of animals used in experiments, the method was then used to dispose of cattle during the mad cow disease epidemic, said US-based researcher Philip R Olson.
In the 2000s, US medical schools used aquamation to dispose of donated human cadavers, before the practice made its way into the funeral industry, Olson wrote in a 2014 paper.
Tutu, who died on Boxing Day aged 90, was known for his modest lifestyle. He left instructions that his funeral ceremony should be simple and without frills.
The anti-apartheid hero, whose funeral was held on Saturday, specifically asked for a cheap coffin and an eco-friendly cremation.
Anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu dies aged 90 With burial space in urban areas worldwide becoming increasingly scarce and expensive, aquamation has obvious attractions. Its advocates say water is a gentler way to go than flames.
They also claim a liquid cremation consumes less energy than a conventional one, and emits less greenhouse gases.
According to UK-based firm Resomation, aquamation uses five times less energy than fire, and reduces a funeral's emissions of greenhouse gases by about 35%.
Aquamation is also used to dispose of animal carcasses in slaughterhouses, where it is considered to be more efficient and hygienic.
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Mysterious CIA-Russian Pact Pointing To Nuremberg Death Sentence Trials Unleashes Terror
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 05:41
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January 1, 2022
Mysterious CIA-Russian Pact Pointing To Nuremberg Death Sentence Trials UnleashesTerror
By: Sorcha Faal, and asreported to her Western Subscribers
A classified at the highest level '' OfSpecial Importance '' new Security Council (SC) reportcirculating in the Kremlin todayfirst noting the just released Axios-Momentive year-end poll revealing the presentmindset of the American people, thatshows: '' Over half of respondents said they were worried about what theupcoming year has for both the United States (51%) and the world(54%)...Additionally, adults in the poll seem to have ''less hope forthemselves'', with 30% of participants more fearful about their own 2022prospects...Half of respondents also said they expect 2022 to be a bad year forthe US economy '', says in his longest-ever New Years Day address to the Russian people, President Putin stated: '' There is hope for a pleasant change in 2022, but it can't beseparated from the events of the past year ''.
In piecing together the very limited portions of this beyond gobsmackinghighly-classified transcript permitted to be openly discussed among variousministries in order to gain an understanding of what President Putin meant in his NewYears Day address, it sees Security CouncilMembers noting with great significance a ruling handed down yesterdayby President Donald Trump appointed United StatesDistrict Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who ruled that Supreme Socialist Leader Joe Biden'svaccine and mask requirement for those involved with the Head Start program '' which provides '' education-related services to needy children '''' was '' unprecedented '' and lacked Congressional approval, declared '' It is undisputed that an agency cannot act withoutCongressional authorization '', called the mandates '' arbitrary '' and '' capricious '', then he ordered thatthese mandates against children '' should no longer be enforced ''.
This transcript next sees SecurityCouncil Members reviewing issues related to world renowned American scientist Dr. Robert Malone, theinventor of the nine original mRNA vaccinepatents, which were originally filed in 1989(includingboth the idea of mRNA vaccines and the original proof of principle experiments)and RNA transfection'--sees themnoting that Dr. Malone has close to100 peer-reviewed publications which have been cited over 12,000 times'--since January-2020,sees them noting Dr. Malone has beenleading a large team focused on clinical research design, drug development,computer modeling and mechanisms of action of repurposed drugs for thetreatment of COVID-19'--sees themnoting that Dr. Malone is the Medical Director of The UnityProject , a group of 300organisations across the United Statesstanding against mandated Covidvaccines for children'--and them noting that Dr.Malone is also the President ofthe Global CovidSummit , an organisation of over 16,000 doctors and scientists committed to speaking truth to powerabout Covid pandemic research andtreatment..
The specific issues relating to Dr.Malone being reviewed by SecurityCouncil Members involve him being banned for life by leftist tech giant Twitter this week, one day prior to his being interviewedby the world's top podcaster Joe Rogan'--was an interview that tookplace yesterday, wherein Dr. Malone chillingly revealed to Joe Roganand the world:
Our government is out ofcontrol on this Covid response and they are lawless.
They completely disregardbioethics. They completely disregard thefederal common rule.
These mandates of anexperimental vaccine are explicitly illegal. They are explicitly inconsistent with the Nuremberg code. They are explicitlyinconsistent with the Bellmont Report.
They are flat-out illegaland they don't care. They are lawless.
They completely disregardbio-ethics. They've broken all the rulesthat I know, that I've been trained on for years.
Hopefully, we are going tostop them before they take our kids.
As it relates to the '' out of controllawless government '' Dr.Malone openly spoke about in his chilling interview with Joe Rogan, this transcript sees Security Council Members noting thenumerous prior warnings issued to the Americanpeople'--like President Woodrow Wilsonwarning them: '' Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confidedto me privately'...Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field ofcommerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something'...Theyknow that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, sointerlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak abovetheir breath when they speak in condemnation of it '''--likePresident TheodoreRoosevelt warning them: '' Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisiblegovernment owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to thepeople '''--and like UnitedStates Senator Daniel K. Inouye warning them: '' There existsa shadowy government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraisingmechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the national interest,free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself ''.
The critical importance underlying SecurityCouncil Members reviewing these '' invisible government ''warnings issued to the Americanpeople is because it directly relates to PresidentTrump, who upon taking power in January-2017,began a war to the death against these hidden powers, and enlisted President Putin as his main ally todefeat and destroy them'--and saw this alliance forged in January-2018 , which was when Russia's top three intelligencedirectors'--Foreign Intelligence ServiceDirector Sergey Naryshkin (SVR) , Federal Security Service Director AleksandrBortnikov (FSB) and Russian General Staff Main Intelligence DirectorateColonel-General Igor Korobov (GRU) made an historic and unprecedented visit to Washington D.C. to meet with their CIA, FBI and US Military intelligence director counterparts.
In the nearly four years since this mysterious alliance was formed between President Trump and President Putin to destroy this '' invisible government '' secretly controlling America, one of the main clues about itpoints to there being a pact forged between the CIA and SVR to lead thiswar to the death, and directly relates to the current CIADirector William Burns'--most important to know about is that CIA Director Burns retired from the US Foreign Service in 2014 after a 33-year diplomatic career, from 2001 to 2005, servedunder President George W. Bush as Ambassador of the United States to theRussian Federation, and from 2014 to2021, served as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace'--andwhose confirmation to be CIA Directorwas by a secret and unanimous voice vote in the US Senate, that didn't hold any hearings on his nomination.
This transcript next sees SecurityCouncil Members referencing their 26October 2021 meeting, wherein they noted Bidenordering the CIA to steal the 2022 midterm elections for socialist Democrats '--anotation made in the Kremlinofficial record that was followed eight days later, on 3 November 2021, by CIA Director Burns making a rare visit to the Kremlin to meetwith his counterpart SVR Director Naryshkin '--a meetingnoted about in the highly-classified 3November 2021 transcript documenting SecurityCouncil discussions, whose wording '' stronglysuggested that CIA Director Burns informed the Kremlin that Biden is not incharge of the United States '''--and is critical tonotice because in today's highly-classified transcript, it sees Security Council Members noting thatsince Biden seized power nearly ayear ago, the United States Senatehas only confirmed to office 266 of the 1,250 governmentofficials needed to run the government , and has only confirmed to office 31 of 93 open US Attorney positions '--whichare staggering numbers leading one to logically question if Biden isn't in control of the American government, then who is?
In further piecing together the parts of this highly-classified transcriptpermitted to openly commented on, most stunning to notice are Security Council Members discussing amysterious event that occurred in 2016while the US Presidential Electionwas raging, that we documented in our 19March 2016 report '' Top CIA Official Killed In Russia Aboard Dubai Plane CarryingMillions Of US Dollars '' and our 21 March 2016 report '' FlyDubai Crash In Russia Now Labeled ''Criminal Act'' After US MissileFragments Found ''.
Though we can't be exactly certain why SecurityCouncil Members were discussing this mysterious 2016 event in today's transcript, it bears noticing that theydirectly link it to the following:
'' I don't know much about foreign affairs '': President George W. Bush made startling confession to Britain's US ambassador, National Archivedocuments reveal .
The U.S. military spent $14 trillion during two decades ofwar and relied heavily on companies to perform critical functions. One-third to half of that sum went tocontractors, with five defense companies'-- Lockheed Martin Corp. , Boeing Co. ,General Dynamics Corp. , Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.'--taking the lion's share, $2.1 trillion, for weapons, supplies and otherservices .
US Army General Joseph Votel, head of the special operationscommand (SOCOM) characterized the Obama era as a '' golden age for special operations ''. General Votel's Green Berets were deployed to 133 countries'--70 percent of the world'--in2014 alone .
Along with Security Council Membersreferencing the warmongering actions of now retired United States ArmyGeneral Joseph Votel, this transcript sees them noting that some of histop co-conspirators who wantonly stole $14-trillion from the American people to wage their endless failed wars that have killedhundreds-of-thousands are now retired United States Army MajorGeneral Paul Eaton, now retired United States Army MajorGeneral Antonio Taguba and now retired UnitedStates Army Brigadier General Steven Anderson'--all three of whom justreleased the open letter '' The Military Must Prepare Now For A 2024 Insurrection '',wherein they order socialist leader Bidento begin an immediate purge of the UnitedStates Military to throw out all supporters of President Trump, conservatives of all types and Christians, with them warning:
As we approach the first anniversaryof the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we '-- all of us former senior militaryofficials '-- are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military,which would put all Americans at severe risk.
In short: We are chilled to ourbones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time .
This transcript sees Security CouncilMembers noting that above anyone else, UnitedStates Army generals are expected, by education, training and experience,to accurately assess threats and give honest conclusions about them'--but in thiscase of General's Eaton, Taguba andAnderson using as their main basis for issuing this warning the '' deadly insurrection '' at the US Capitol, the factual reality showsno such thing occurred, and as confirmed yesterday when it was revealed: '' Federal prosecutors have charged more than 725 individualswith various crimes for the 6 January protests at the US Capitol...Of thosearrested, 225 people were charged with assault or resisting arrest. More than75 of those were charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon against policeofficers...Some 640 people were charged with entering a restricted federalbuilding or its grounds...And another 75 were charged with entering arestricted area with a deadly weapon '''--and is acritical revelation to note, specifically because not one American has been charged with '' insurrection ''.
Security Council Members in thistranscript next note a recent Quinnipiac poll that found 93% of Democrats and 56%of independents considered the 6 January protests an attack on the government,while only 29% of Republicans said the same '--a pollproving that the events of 6 Januaryare being viewed by Americansthrough the lens of the media narrative they're paying attention to, not thefacts'--and whose fast eroding support among Americansfor the socialist narrative is now being accelerated by the Christmas Day bombshell legal filing involving the so-called GovernorGretchen Whitmer plot, wherein it documents how the FBI actually concocted the entire crime,and whose top FBI agent that schemed up the plot was arrested for beating hiswife when she objected to him offering her body to swingers .
This transcript sees Security CouncilMembers further noting that the collapse of the socialist narrative aboutthe 6 January protests among Americans is being fueled by themnoticing Biden's federal prosecutors dismissed almost half the cases against Antifarioters '--socialist rioters whose over $1-billion damage caused is the most expensive inAmerican insurance history , that stands opposed to the paltry $1.5-million damage caused to the US Capitol by 6January protesters, none of whose charges have been dismissed '--while 54-year old Robert Scott Palmer was thrown in prison for5-years for taking part in the 6 January protest and throwing a wooden plank atpolice officers , at the same time it saw Biden's federal prosecutors dropping all charges against26-year-old transgender woman Eva Warner, an Antifa rioter who visciously attacked police and tried to blind them with alaser '--to heap even more humiliation on ordinary Americans it saw Biden's socialist forces refusing to jail top FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith after he was convictedfor forging the CIA document thatkicked off the Russiagate hoax, andthis week saw his law license restored '--then lastevening, Biden's federal prosecutors dropped all the charges aginst the jail guards who stood by when child sex slaverJeffery Epstein was murdered in his prison cell .
In noticing how these socialist insanities are tearing America apart at the seams, this transcript sees Security Council Members noting withinterest the just published article '' Good Old Guns Suddenly Replace Liberal Values In This BlueState '', wherein it reveals: '' After months of embracing criminal reform, which had a knackfor keeping criminals on the streets, California's elite are taking measures ''like panic-buying guns '' that show they're not so different from conservativesafter all '''--a revelation that joins the article '' The Great Pandemic Migration '', whereinit reveals millions of Americans arenow fleeing Democrat socialistcontrolled Blue States for the Red Free States run by Republicans'--is all occurring at thesame time a new University of Massachusetts Amherst poll shows only 6%of Republicans believe Biden's election was ''definitely legitimate'' and leftist MSNBC political analyst Mehdi Hasan is nowwarning: '' Twenty-one million Americans are open to using force torestore the presidency to Donald Trump '''--a warningquickly responded to by Republican Partylawmaker US Congresswoman MarjorieTaylor Greene, who just ignited the #1 trend National Divorce after she wrote: '' You know what is necessary about threatening adivorce?...It's a wake up call to the one offending the other that they've hadenough...And if the other party cares at all, they look at what they are doingwrong and care to fix it...National Divorce is not civil war...But the state ofour union is currently far from happy, and I really don't care how manyDemocrats I offend by calling it out '''--and in quickreply to the NationalDivorce call made by CongresswomanGreene, the leftist Washington Post rushed out their article '' Secession Might Seem Like The Lesser Of Two evils. It's AlsoThe Less Likely '', wherein it states: '' When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R- Ga .)talks about a ''National Divorce,'' as she did again in a tweet on Wednesday, shemay be advancing the cause of secession or she may just be seekingattention...Either way, she knows what she's doing '-- reinforcing the idea ofdisunion that has taken hold in the outer reaches of the publicimagination...At least it's not civil war '-- and other countries do it all thetime '-- but breaking up the union would be next to impossible here ''.
The conclusion section of this transcript sees Security Council Members agreeing that a '' nationaldivorce '' of the UnitedStates to prevent a civil war by splitting it into pieces would be ascatastrophic for global stability as the dissolution of the former Soviet Union was'--and in piecingtogether what little parts of this highly-classified conclusion section that'spermitted to be revealed, it sees SecurityCouncil Members appearing to rely on the mysterious CIA-Russia pact worked out by PresidentTrump and President Putin to avertsuch a catastrophe from happening'--which makes it critical to notice thisconclusion section referencing such things like a new poll revealing that United States Supreme Court Chief JusticeJohn Roberts has the highest approval of any American leader ,his Russian counterpart Chairman Valery Zorkin of theConstitutional Court this week calling for the restoration of the death penalty ,and the United States Department ofDefense revealing that it's constructing a new courtroom for warcrimes trials at Guantnamo Bay-Cuba '--and in putting allof these '' pieces '' together, one canglimpse the framework of Yugoslavia-typesolution being worked out for America,where the warring parties will be forced into peace and the war criminals willbe tried and hung for their crimes against humanity and the American people. [Note: Somewords and/or phrases appearing in quotes in this report are English languageapproximations of Russian words/phrases having no exact counterpart.]
January 1, 2022 (C) EU and US all rights reserved.Permission to use this report in its entirety is granted under the condition itis linked to its original source at WhatDoesItMean.Com. Freebase contentlicensed under CC-BYand GFDL.
[ Note :Many governments and their intelligence services actively campaign against theinformation found in these reports so as not to alarm their citizens about themany catastrophic Earth changes and events to come, a stance that the Sisters of Sorcha Faal stronglydisagree with in believing that it is every human being's right to know thetruth. Due to our mission's conflicts with that of those governments, theresponses of their 'agents' has been a longstandingmisinformation/misdirection campaign designed to discredit us, and others likeus, that is exampled in numerous places, including HERE .]
[ Note: The WhatDoesItMean.com website was created for anddonated to the Sisters of Sorcha Faal in 2003 by a small group of Americancomputer experts led by the late global technology guru Wayne Green (1922-2013) tocounter the propaganda being used by the West to promote their illegal 2003invasion of Iraq.]
[ Note: The word Kremlin (fortress inside a city) as used inthis report refers to Russian citadels, including in Moscow, having cathedrals wherein femaleSchema monks (Orthodox nuns) reside, many of whom are devoted to the mission ofthe Sisters of Sorcha Faal.]
SupremeCourt Starts 15 Day Countdown To Save America
AmericansHave Been Warned'-- But They Forgot How To Think
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Mass-Formation by Dr. Mattias Desmet Professor of Psychology University of Ghent | thomascasey
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 05:05
I came across this information about Mass-Formation and how we are being socially engineered en-masse into totalitarianism worldwide. It's from a psychology professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium. Anyway I took notes of what Professor Mattias Desmet who also has a master's degree in statistics observed about the way we are being induced into this sort of Mass-Hypnosis with regards to Covid-19 Plandemic. It really explains a lot about how things got to where we are now. A lot of this is paraphrased from what Dr Mattias spoke of so please go to him as the source.
Gustave le Bon's book is available on guttenberg but I will also post it here.
Mass-Formation by Dr. Mattias Desmet Professor of Psychology University of Ghent '' Master's degree in Statistics
Gustave Le Bon '' Crowds
Le Bon theorized that the new entity, the ''psychological crowd'', which emerges from incorporating the assembled population not only forms a new body but also creates a collective ''unconsciousness''
4 conditions need to be present to create Mass-Formation
1) There needs to a lot of socially isolated people or people who experience a lack of social bond 2) People who experience a lack of 'sense making'. Unable to come to sensible conclusions. 3) There is a lot of Free-Floating Anxiety (FFA). Free-Floating because there's nothing to connect their anxiety to. No focal point. Unable to identify what's causing and so no way to deal with it. 4) There's also a lot of Free-Floating Psychological-Discontent. People may experience their daily lives as lacking any purpose or meaning
Free-Floating Anxiety is the most painful psychological phenomena to experience and leads to panic attacks. In this state of unfocused anxiety the mind tries to connect it's anxiety to something, an ''Object of Anxiety''. The next piece of the puzzled is a strategy to deal with this Object of Anxiety.
So when these pre-conditions are highly present within a population and then the media provide a narrative which indicates a focal-point for this anxiety while at the same time describing a strategy to deal with this object of anxiety then all the anxiety connects to this object of anxiety.
If a large segment of people are willing to follow this strategy to deal with this object of anxiety no matter the cost, then in a second step people start a collective & heroic battle with this Object of Anxiety and in that way a new kind of social bond emerges & with that a new kind of ''sense making'' or purpose. Suddenly life is all directed towards battling this Object of Anxiety. This creates new sense of connectedness with others in the Mass-Formation.
This sudden and radical switch from the negative state of lack of social-connection to the opposite, a massive increase in social connection leads up to a mental intoxication.
Similar to hypnosis people in this hyper-focused state are narrowly focused. In hypnosis only the hypnotized are focused in this way. The hypnosis expert is not narrowly focused. In Mass-Formation leaders emerge which are even more narrowly focused than the followers.
When people experience this mental intoxication it no longer matters if the narrative is wrong or even blatantly false. What matters is that it leads up to this mental intoxication. This is why they will continue to go along with the narrative.
The resistance to understanding the narrative is false or wrong is driven by the fear of returning to the state of Free-Floating Anxiety and wanting to continue to experience the mental intoxication.
This explains why arguing based on facts will not work. Facts no longer matter to them. Given the facts, they are be unable to come to sensible conclusions, even in their own best interests.
Mass-Formation is also similar to mass-hypnosis in terms of people's willingness to put up with things normally intolerable.
Standard hypnosis is used in place of anesthesia during minor surgeries and the subjects experience no pain as they are being cut into. In Mass-Formation people do not get egotistical at all, rather to the contrary, Mass-Formation focuses the attention so much on one point that you can take everything away from people, their physical well-being, their material well-being and they won't even notice its absence.
In Mass-Formations people become radically intolerant of dissident voices. This person threatens to wake the people up and they get angry when confronted by the initial anxiety and discontent they experience by challenges to the official doctrine.
The crowd direct all their aggression at dissident voices.
At the same time they are radically tolerant of their leaders who pronounce the mainstream narrative. These people can lie and cheat and do everything they want and will always be forgiven by the crowd. All the lying, dishonesty and misbehavior is seen by the crowd as doing it for their own safety.
So knowing the nature of the control mechanisms Mass-Formation exerts what to do to wake them up?
About thomascaseyPersonal interests: reading, technology, not talking about myself.
Robert Malone: Anti-Vaxxer Told Rogan America Is Like Nazi Germany
Sun, 02 Jan 2022 04:51
Claire Goforth
Tech
Published Jan 1, 2022 Updated Jan 1, 2022, 4:56 pm CST
The far-right is convinced that the United States is just like Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. They believe this because an anti-vaxxer said so on Joe Rogan's podcast.
Earlier this week, Rogan invited Dr. Robert Malone on his show. Malone is a virologist and immunologist who claims credit for inventing the mRNA vaccine in a pair of papers in 1989 and 1990. A more accurate telling is that Malone may have sparked hope for the vaccine, but is among hundreds who contributed to its development.
Malone was largely unknown until he emerged as an adamant opponent of COVID-19 vaccines last year. Malone swiftly parlayed his work on the vaccine and opposition to it into far-right stardom. Internet archives show that from June to December his Twitter followers grew from 4,500 to more than 500,000. Simultaneously, he did the anti-vaxxer tour of duty, appearing on Tucker Carlson's and Steve Bannon's shows and everywhere in between.
On Wednesday, Malone achieved the far-right coup de grce by getting permanently suspended by Twitter. (He also reportedly somehow got temporarily suspended by LinkedIn at some point.) Archives show that prior to his suspension, he'd been a source of disinformation about the vaccine and treatments for COVID on Twitter.
''The account referenced (@RWMaloneMD) was permanently suspended for repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy,'' a Twitter spokesperson told the Daily Dot via email. ''Per the strike system outlined here, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of this policy.''
Rogan, no stranger to promoting unproven COVID treatments himself, rewarded Malone by inviting him on his show. There Malone whined about his Twitter suspension and repeated conspiracy theories about the vaccine and COVID treatments that have made him beloved on the far-right. Curiously, he also admitted to taking the vaccine.
One comment he made in the sprawling three-hour interview has captured the far-right's fancy.
Malone claimed that the United States is like Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. ''Very intelligent, highly educated population, and they went barking mad. And how did that happen?'' he said of Nazi Germany.
''The answer is mass formation psychosis.''
Continuing, he said, ''When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other and has free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don't make sense, we can't understand it. And then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point just like hypnosis. They literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere.''
Malone'--who is not a sociologist, psychologist, or anthropologist'--said that the leaders who take charge in such a situation claim that they alone can solve society's problems.
''They will follow that person. It doesn't matter if they lie to them or whatever.''
He said that in 2019 people were ''complaining, the world doesn't make sense'' and weren't ''connected socially anymore, except through social media.''
''Then this thing happened,'' he said, presumably referring to the pandemic. ''That is how mass formation psychosis happens and that is what has happened here.''
Malone's comments went viral. As of this writing, a clip of them has been viewed more than 1 million times.
On Joe Rogan, Dr Robert Malone suggests we are living through a mass formation psychosis.He explains how and why this could happen, and its effects.
He draws analogy to 1920s/30s Germany ''they had a highly intelligent, highly educated population, and they went barking mad'' pic.twitter.com/wZpfMsyEZZ
'-- Mythinformed MKE (@MythinformedMKE) January 1, 2022Malone's hypothesis that America is becoming like Nazi Germany naturally appeals to the crowd that likens COVID restrictions to the Holocaust.
''The suppression of free speech has played a brutal role in this mass formation psychosis,'' tweeted British actor and anti-woke crusader Laurence Fox.
''Probably the scariest interview I have ever seen,'' commented @Moodred.
https://twitter.com/ennui365/status/1477311762844295175?s=20
Far-right and conspiracist haven Telegram is abuzz with talk of Malone's appearance.
Telegram Discourse about mass formation psychosis has been bubbling up in far-right circles for a while. Malone himself has been talking about it for weeks.
A book published in November makes the same argument that COVID has given rise to the phenomenon, which has various names, including mass delusional psychosis and mass hysteria.
Not everyone on the conservative side of the political spectrum agrees that COVID and its associated fears and restrictions led to mass psychosis, however.
Last month, Dilbert creator and right-wing mouthpiece Scott Adams tweeted, ''The Mass Formation Psychosis idea is total bullshit as an explanation for how we got where we are.''
''It is a flawed assumption that we started with some sort of baseline of rational thought and drifted. The simpler explanation is Fake News broke us.''
This story has been updated with a statement from Twitter.
Read more about the far right*First Published: Jan 1, 2022, 12:43 pm CST
Claire Goforth Claire Goforth is a staff writer at the Daily Dot covering all things politics and technology with a focus on the far right and conspiracy theories.
Without Warning The Gateway Pundit Is Banned from Paypal
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 20:36
Last July, PayPal partnered with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to determine who can use their services.
The partnership was announced on July 24th, with the companies claiming that they are going to ''investigate how extremist and hate movements in the United States take advantage of financial platforms to fund their criminal activities,'' according to a report from Reuters.
Of course, the ADL has been known to brand anyone who supports Donald Trump or holds views to the right of Karl Marx as an ''extremist.''
Without warning, The Gateway Pundit and Jim Hoft were banned from Paypal on the last day of 2021.
TRENDING: NYC's New Mayor Eric Adams Calls 911 on His Subway Commute Hours After Being Sworn Into Office (VIDEO)
The Gateway Pundit is one of the top 250 websites in the United States today and had over 900,000,000 page views in 2021. We continue to grow despite constant attacks, smears, limited social media, and lawsuits.
We have never violated any of Paypal's bylaws '-- BUT we are conservative and Pro-Trump.
They did not give us a reason for the banning but says, ''it's contractual right to cease doing business with you pursuant to PayPal's User Agreement.''
PayPal is exercising its contractual right to cease doing business with you pursuant to PayPal's User Agreement. Under that Agreement, PayPal, in its sole discretion, has the right to terminate your account for any reason and at any time upon notice to you. In addition, we have recently reviewed your PayPal account activity, and determined that you are in violation of the Acceptable Use Policy regarding your use of a PayPal product or service. We are providing you notice that following this notice, we will permanently limit your account(s), and you will no longer be able to process transactions through PayPal or any of its services, including Venmo.
The note from Paypal also includes their services on Venmo.
Paypal even banned a personal account I use to pay local workers and friends, etc, and the other two accounts including our store.
The Gateway Pundit was banned from Google ads a couple of months ago '-- After they started censoring us in 2017 immediately after Trump won.
One Year After CEO Sundar Pichai Is Confronted in Congress for Censoring Gateway Pundit '' Google Demonetizes Gateway Pundit
They can do this because there is no opposition party today in the US.
Yesterday it was Laura Loomer.Before that, it was Alex Jones.Today it's Gateway Pundit.Who's next?When do they come for you?
** You can still support us here.
UK digital identity & attributes trust framework: updated version - GOV.UK
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 19:37
Documents DetailsPlease note the deadline for expressions of interest in testing the framework has been extended to Sunday 19 September.
Digital identities are an easy way to help us prove who we are without the need for physical documents. They can also help us prove things about us, such as our age or our qualifications. The government is working to develop the digital identity market without the need for national identity cards.
This updated document sets out the government's vision for the rules governing the future use of digital identities. It supersedes the original version of the digital identities trust framework which was published in February 2021. Comments from that version of the framework have been fed into this updated version. You can read more about the changes which have been made in the 'feedback received and updates' section in the main document on this page.
For more information on this new version of the trust framework, please see the press notice.
The digital identities trust framework is part of the government's wider plan to make it quicker and easier for people to verify themselves using modern technology. The aim is to create a process as trusted as using passports or bank statements.
The government is inviting expressions of interest in testing this updated version of the framework. Details of the testing are available in the document on this page. You can express an interest in the testing using the link below. Please read the alpha testing of the trust framework page before submitting an expression of interest.
Please note there is also currently a consultation asking for views on how the digital identity system should operate, including proposals for a governing body which will be charged with making sure organisations follow government rules on digital identity. The consultation is open until Monday 13 September.
Published 2 August 2021
Last updated 8 September 2021
+ show all updates 8 September 2021The deadline for expressions of interest in testing the framework has been extended by two weeks to Sunday 19 September.
6 August 2021Added UK digital identity and attributes trust framework - delegated authority guidance.
2 August 2021First published.
Identity document validation technology in the right to work and right to rent schemes, and DBS pre-employment checking (accessible version) - GOV.UK
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 19:37
The Home Office and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are working with DCMS as it develops proposals for new legislation to establish a UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework. This framework will set out the rules and standards for organisations to follow in order to carry out secure, trustworthy, and consistent digital identity checks.
The trust framework was initially launched in February 2021 as an early prototype (alpha). It has since undergone two rounds of public consultation, to be thoroughly tested with services, industries, organisations and released to potential users. The framework continues to be developed and the next stage (beta version) will begin in early 2022, ahead of being formalised in legislation.
Following the positive feedback received about the ability to conduct right to work and right to rent checks remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital checks in the future.
This review has now concluded, and this update sets out the key outcomes.
The Home Office recognises the benefits the adjusted checking process has brought and are mindful of the shift towards increased hybrid and remote working models.
As a result, the Home Office will enable employers and landlords to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital identity checks on their behalf for many who are not in scope to use the Home Office online services, including British and Irish citizens. The relevant changes to legislation will take effect from 6 April 2022.
This development will align with DBS' proposal to enable digital identity checking within their pre-employment checking process, through the introduction of its Identity Trust Scheme.
For employers, the introduction of digital identity checking into the Schemes will mean they can assure prospective employees' identities, using consistent and more secure methods, reducing risk and allowing them to recruit in a safer way.
Making these changes to the Schemes will achieve two things - it will:
Allow those in scope to verify their identity remotely, prove their eligibility to work or rent and apply for DBS checks. Using IDVT allows people to upload images of their personal documents, instead of presenting physical documents to a prospective employer '' reducing time and mitigating risk.
Allow private sector IDVT service providers to become independently certified by UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited assessors to ensure the technology meets the Government Standards and the applicant's data is protected.
Enabling the use of IDVT for right to work, right to rent and DBS checks will help to support long-term post pandemic working practices, accelerate the recruitment and onboarding process, improve employee mobility and enhance the security and integrity of the checks. The technology utilised across the identity process removes human error in terms of identifying fraudulent documents or inaccuracies and will support the Home Office, DBS and DCMS in driving improvements through their delivery partners.
In January 2022, the UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework will open for providers to begin the certification process. IDVT service providers will need to become certified against the trust framework rules, alongside any requirements specific to the particular Schemes. The timing and alignment of the Right to Work, Right to Rent, and DBS Scheme changes ensures providers can undertake a single certification for these checks from the outset.
This will provide a secure underpinning of robust rules for providers to meet, test the real-world implementation of the trust framework during the beta phase of testing, and ensure providers are on track to meet the rules of the future multi-use case state for digital identity solutions.
Further details on how organisations become certified will be available in early January 2022.
In the meantime, checks continue to be necessary in line with current guidance. Employers and landlords must continue to check the prescribed documents as set out in an employer's guide to right to work checks, published at: Right to work checks: an employer's guide or the landlord's guide to right to rent checks, published at: Landlord's guide to right to rent checks.
Alternatively, where applicable, employers and landlords can use the Home Office online services via Prove your right to work to an employer or Prove your right to rent in England which provides right to work and right to rent information in real time direct from Home Office systems.
Further information on the temporary adjusted checks can be found on GOV.UK at
Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks Coronavirus (COVID-19): landlord right to rent checksYou can sign up to receive updates about the Right to Work Scheme or sign up to receive updates about the Right to Rent Scheme.
Finally, queries about the Right to Work or Right to Rent Schemes can be sent to RightoRentandRighttoWork@homeoffice.gov.uk
Pittsburgh City Council Bans Traffic Stops For Minor Offenses To Make Stops 'Equitable' - The Police Tribune
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 19:11
Pittsburgh, PA '' The Pittsburgh City Council voted 8-to-1 on Tuesday night to pass a bill that will prohibit police officers from stopping vehicles for secondary violations like out of date inspections or broken taillights.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess, who sponsored the bill, said the controversial legislation was created to make traffic stops more ''equitable and fair,'' the Tribune-Review reported.
Burgess said the goal of the legislation was to reduce the kind of traffic stops that were ''more frequent in African American communities.''
In 2020, Pittsburgh Police Department data showed officers conducted 4,650 traffic stops involving black drivers, 4,513 involving white drivers, and just 120 involving Hispanic drivers, according to the Tribune-Review
''We know those stops have the danger of being escalated in Black communities,'' Burgess said. ''It can have disastrous consequences for both the officer and the resident.''
The legislation referenced a study that found ''Black and Hispanic drivers were searched on the basis of less evidence than white drivers,'' the Tribune-Review reported.
The text of the bill said its purpose was ''to ensure that policing resources are used to protect public safety and not penalize people for being poor, who, in all too many cases, are people of color.''
Burgess said that after the bill is passed, police officers will have to have another primary reason to stop a vehicle and cannot punish drivers who can't afford to fix something broken on their vehicle or who didn't have the money to get their vehicle inspected, the Tribune-Review reported.
''For these minor, secondary violations where there is no risk of loss of life or any real danger, we'll forego those being the primary reason for an officer making a traffic stop,'' the councilman said.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill argued against the passage of the bill and said there had not yet been enough public input to vote on the proposal, the Tribune-Review reported.
Coghill called for a public hearing on the matter and said reducing the number of traffic stops officers made would lead to more unsafe vehicles on the roadways.
''I think it's important to get a different perspective,'' he said before the vote was taken. ''We have been anything but transparent. This affects everybody. This demands a public hearing.''
He said there was no data to support limiting the number of traffic stops as a method of preventing violent interactions between drivers and police officers.
The councilman cited statistics that showed that out of 52,000 traffic stops made by Pittsburgh police between 2018 and 2020, only 11 stops ultimately resulted in officers pulling out a Taser or firearm, or using another method of physical restraint, the Tribune-Review reported.
Coghill said that only one Pittsburgh police officer fired his weapon in the same three-year period, and that officer was returning fire after he was shot at by someone in a vehicle.
The vote on the legislation was delayed a week earlier in response to the concerns raised by Coghill, but another delay meant that the bill would have died at the end of the legislative cycle on Dec. 31.
Numerous residents showed up on Dec. 28 to object to the proposed legislation, the Tribune-Review reported.
Sixteen Pittsburgh residents spoke during the public comment period of the meeting and implored the elected officials to hold off on passing the bill.
Several people asked the city council to wait until the newly-elected mayor took office after the first of the year, since Ed Gainey ran his campaign on a police reform platform, the Tribune-Review reported.
Pittsburgh resident Laura Doyle told the council she thought that halting traffic stops for minor infractions would be unsafe for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
''I think it decreases public safety,'' Doyle said.
She pointed out that many traffic stops that get made because of smaller, secondary violations lead to police finding drugs or guns inside the vehicle, the Tribune-Review reported.
Pittsburghers for Public Transit Executive Director Laura Wiens didn't completely oppose the legislation but called for better data collection and a public process before the bill is passed.
Wiens said that bill didn't do enough and wanted police also to be barred from conducting traffic stops on drivers who failed to use turn signals or had illegal window tint, the Tribune-Review reported.
''This legislation really does not go far enough,'' she said.
Ultimately, the council took the vote and Coghill was the only member who voted against it, the Tribune-Review reported.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus told residents afterwards that the passage of the bill didn't mean there couldn't be more discussion about it later.
''We can amend, we can rescind, we can improve,'' Kraus said.
But Coghill said holding the hearing after the law was passed meant the council didn't care what the voters thought about it, the Tribune-Review reported.
The new legislation goes into effect 120 days after it was passed.
The Philadelphia City Council passed similar legislation banning lower-level offense traffic stops in November.
Food Security & the Environment - Mologic
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 19:09
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Biden signs $137M deal for COVID test factory to start producing 83.3M tests a month in late 2024 | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 19:06
The Biden administration struck a $137 million deal to build a new factory in the U.S. to ramp up production of COVID-19 testing kits '' but the new facility won't be completed until late 2024 at the earliest.
MilliporeSigma, a brand formed by Germany's Merck KGaA, will build a new factory in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the Defense Department announced as the U.S. hit a high record of 489,267 COVID cases on Wednesday
While the contract gives the company three years to complete the facility, it is not immediately clear when it will ramp up to full production, which is expected to pump out 83.3 million tests per month.
'Construction is expected to begin the second half of 2022 and initial planning and preparatory work is already underway,' a MilliporeSigma spokesperson told DailyMail.com. 'We estimate that the facility will be capable of providing lateral flow membranes in the latter part of 2024.'
The individual said that the production of lateral flow membrane is 'critical for rapid diagnostic tests' that will not only help with COVID-19 detection, but also with 'any future public health emergencies.'
The deal has fueled speculation that the administration is predicting high rates of testing capabilities for coronavirus detection will still be needed several years down the line.
Others have pointed out that the deal does not fix any immediate issues rising from testing kit shortages in the U.S., which has led to massive wait times at testing locations across the country.
Hours-long lines continue to build up across the country as Americans scrambled to get tested for COVID-19 amid a massive surge in cases with spread of the Omciron variant and a nationwide shortage of tests
The Biden administration struck a deal, it announced Wednesday, with a German company to build a factory in Wisconsin that will increase capabilities to pump out 83.3 million tests per month '' but the facility won't be completed until late 2024 at the earliest
'Worldwide market demand for lateral flow membrane exceeds supply, and there is limited production capacity in the United States,' the spokesperson said. 'The current lack of domestic supply of lateral flow membrane impacts the United States' ability to respond fully to the COVID-19 pandemic and any future public health emergencies.'
'MilliporeSigma's new lateral flow membrane facility will increase domestic supply, help alleviate shortage concerns, and add to the United States' pandemic preparedness and response.'
The Pentagon released a statement Wednesday stating: 'On Dec. 29, 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD), on behalf of and in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded a $136.7 million contract to MilliporeSigma to establish nitrocellulose membrane production capacity in the United States.'
'Nitrocellulose membrane,' according to the statement, 'is a critical material used in manufacturing SARS-CoV-2 rapid point-of-care tests.'
The facility will expand MilliporeSigma's ability to manufacture nitrocellulose at the new facility that will support production of 83.3 million tests per month starting in 2025.
Money for the project is allocated through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed by President Joe Biden early in his presidency. It falls under the need to 'support domestic industrial base expansion for critical medical resources.'
'It's probably the most constrained piece of technology in expanding capacity, in making more of these over-the-counter or point-of-care tests,' an official told Reuters. 'This amount they're going to produce is roughly equivalent to another billion over-the-counter tests being able to be made.'
The official said the government is invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) to award the contract, claiming there are several similar contracts in the works.
Biden has already used the DPA to speed production of swabs and pipettes for COVID-19 test production.
DPA is a 1950s Korean war-era national defense law giving federal agencies the power to prioritize procurement orders in times of war or national emergency.
The MilliporeSigma deal comes as nations face more urgency to produce testing as the highly-contagious Omicron variant spreads throughout the world '' leading to some of the biggest-ever spikes in cases in the near two-year pandemic.
The United States has hit a record of nearly 500,000 daily coronavirus cases Wednesday '' the most any country has ever reported '' as experts say that the latest surge of infections will only get worse in the next month.
On Wednesday, 489,267 positive COVID cases were reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports anywhere from 40 to 70 per cent of new cases in America are from the Omicron variant, which was first discovered last month by South African health officials.
Earlier this month, Biden unveiled a plan to distribute 500 million at-home coronavirus tests, building on a prior pledge to invest $3 billion in the kits.
There are concerns Biden won't be able to deliver on his promise for 500 million tests as it emerged Wednesday contracts for the order won't be finished until early January and the administration is still 'working to finalize' how to distribute the kits.
Bidne's coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said during the Wednesday White House COVID briefing: 'Companies are already submitting information, and we expect the contract to be completed late next week.'
'That means that the first deliveries for manufacturers will start January,' he clarified. 'We'll set up a free and easy system, including a new website to get these tests out to Americans. We're actively working to finalize that distribution mechanism, which includes a website where people will be able to order tests for free. And we'll share more details in the weeks ahead '-- days and weeks ahead.'
Specific details have been scant about how the at-home test distribution will work and how long it will take for the tests to arrive once ordered. The questions come as long lines of Americans continue to form as people seek to get tested around the holidays.
Many Americans are forced to wait several hours to be tested for COVID as the U.S. is now averaging 300,387 new COVID cases per day.
The Omicron variant sweeps the nation, leading to record level of case rates. Every U.S. state is currently listed by the CDC as having a high level of community transmission of COVID, as seen in the above map
Americans are waiting in lines for hours in cities across the country to get their COVID test. Above is one of those lines of cars in Tropical Park in Miami, Florida on Wednesday
The country smashed its previously daily average record of 264,546 cases as the highly-infectious new Omicron variant continued to sweep the nation.
The sudden spike has prompted warnings from experts that the virus will 'threaten critical infrastructure' in the US with workers at hospitals, grocery stores and gas stations forced into isolation.
Despite Omicron being milder than previous variants the sheer scale of the numbers means that 'there's a big hole' in terms of what the US can expect in terms of deaths, according to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
'But what we do know and what is emerging here is that this country is going to be in the soup in just the next few weeks with so many cases and so many locations, that we're going to see critical infrastructure as well as health care challenged,' he told CNN.
Despite test shortages, case spikes and reimposed restrictions, the travel nightmare will also continue into mid-January as airline staff call out sick with COVID.
At least 1,071 flights were canceled and 1,564 are delayed Thursday as travel chaos drags into a seventh day, according to tracking website FlightAware.
JetBlue announced it has already cut 1,280 flights between December 30 and January 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Staffing shortages caused by COVID infections also led United Airlines to cancel 190 flights on Thursday, Delta said it canceled 86 and JetBlue reported 175 nixed flights.
Some passengers vented their fury on social media saying they were forced to wait on the tarmac for hours before being told to deplane. Others said the wait time at call centers was as long as 102 minutes as phone lines jammed.
Americans are also waiting in droves to be tested for COVID in cities across the country, demanding Biden fulfill his promise to have 500 million COVID at-home tests available after announcing Wednesday that the contracts for the order won't be finished until 'late next week.'
Aravindh Shankar, 24, flew to San Jose, California, on Christmas from West Lafayette, Indiana, to be with family. Though he felt fine, he decided to get tested Wednesday just to play it safe, since he had been on an airplane.
He and his family spent almost an entire day searching for a testing appointment for him before he went to a site in a parking lot next to the San Jose airport.
'It was actually surprisingly hard,' Shankar said about trying to find a test. 'Some people have it harder for sure.'
More cars line up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana to get a COVID test on Wednesday, December 29
People line a street in Washington, D.C. to get a COVID-19 test on Wednesday
President Biden and his staff have pushed back against criticism of the lack of testing kits available during the holiday rush. With demand high and shelves emptying out of stock, some retailers have placed limits on how many at-home testing kits can be purchased at a time. CVS has a limit of six test kits per purchase both in stores and online while Walgreens limits it to four kits.
The administration bragged on Wednesday it has brought two more at-home tests on the market
'The Biden-Harris Administration has brought two new over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests to the U.S. market. The tests, one manufactured by SD Biosensor and distributed by Roche and the other manufactured by Siemens, have received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),' the Department of Health and Human Services noted in a release.
'Combined, it is estimated the companies can produce tens of millions of tests per month for use in the U.S.,' the agency noted.
Again, it remains unclear when these tests will be in the hands of Americans.
The White House has emphasized officials are working on the problem over the holidays and pushed out the numbers behind their work.
'There are now 20,000 free testing sites across the U.S., four times as many at-home tests available to Americans than were available this summer, and free at-home tests are already being made available at key community sites, such as community health centers and rural clinics,' HHS said.
Biden told reporters on Tuesday he spent the day working the phones and said his administration had made 'a bit of progress' in getting more COVID testing kits distributed but he did not offer details.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki downplayed questions about the unsigned contracts to deliver the promised testing kits, calling it a 'part of the process.'
'We have no concern about the contract being finalized. We're just working to finalize the contracts. We just announced this two days ago. But there's no '-- we don't see any issue or any halt to getting that done and to finalizing that. That's a natural part of the process,' she said at her press briefing on Thursday.
She also argued that the president has boosted testing capacity and pointed out it wasn't until October that five versions of at-home tests were available.
'The president knew that we needed to increase testing capacity. That's why he used the Defense Production Act to expand the supply of at-home tests. Without that, we wouldn't have the supply in the market,' she said.
President Biden announced last Tuesday his plan to distribute 500 million at-home COVID tests.
But he told ABC News the next day that 'I wish I had thought about ordering a half a billion [tests] two months ago, before COVID hit here.'
The White House, however, has not be able to offer many details on how the tests will be distributed and how many kits households can order.
Psaki said Tuesday there would be a website people can use to order their testing kits.
'We will make the website available as soon as these tests are available. They will start to be available in January,' she said. 'And in terms of the numbers that different families can order: We are working through all those very important details right now.'
But when drilled on details - how long it would take to get a test after one was ordered, how would they be delivered - Psaki had no answers.
'Again, really good questions. And we, of course, want people to be able to rapidly receive the tests and people have certainty to know they can get a test, they can feel safe, go into their workplace, seeing their family members, sending their kids to school. That's our objective. The details of how it will be distributed and the mechanisms will all be coming soon,' she said.
Despite the surge in people testing positive for the virus, it's highly unlikely that hospitalization numbers will ever rise to their previous peak, said Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School Public Health.
Vaccines and treatments developed since last year have made it easier to curb the spread of the virus and minimize serious effects among people with breakthrough infections.
'Its going to take some time for people to get attuned to the fact that cases don't matter the same way they did in the past,' Adalja said. 'We have a lot of defense against it.'
But even with fewer people hospitalized compared with past surges, the virus can wreak havoc on hospitals and health care workers, he added.
Cases are spiking at rates not ever seen since the start of the pandemic nearly two years ago
Deaths are not proportionally rising with the case rate as medical professionals claim the Omicron variant, while much more contagious, is not as deadly or serious a case of COVID as previous strains
'In a way, those hospitalizations are worse because they're all preventable,' he said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted a serious error in calculating the prevalence of the variant, overblowing the figure recorded in mid-December by as much as 50 percentage points and sowing confusion as the nation breaks records for new cases.
The agency released a revised chart on Tuesday showing that the new variant accounted for 23 percent of all COVID-19 cases for the week ending on December 18, as opposed to the 73 percent it originally reported.
The chart showed that the Omicron variant accounted for 59 percent of all new cases for the week ending on December 25, meaning the Delta variant has been accounting for far more infections than the agency initially thought, though Omicron is gaining ground quickly.
Despite the CDC's astonishing error, data from the UK suggest that Omicron will soon account for nearly all new cases in the US.
Jeff Zients said on Wednesday the contracts for 500 million tests promised by Joe Biden will only be finalized 'late next week' - above Zients is seen with President Joe Biden at Monday's virtual meeting with governors
In England, which is several weeks ahead of the US in the Omicron wave, the new variant went from zero to 92 percent of all new cases in the four weeks leading up to December 27, according to data from the UK Health Security Agency.
The CDC corrected its error, to the confusion of many, on the same day that the nation broke its record for the most daily COVID-19 cases. On Monday, 512,553 new cases were reported in the US, marking the country's largest single-day tally since the beginning of the pandemic. The record-breaking figure was in part the product of a multi-day build up of unreported cases over the Christmas holiday on Saturday, which finally were logged to start the week.
Anthony Fauci again echoed on Wednesday that he 'strongly recommends' against going to large New Year's Eve gatherings this year as the highly contagious Omicron variant causes massive case surges nationwide.
'If your plans are to go to a 40 to 50-person New Year's Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing,' Fauci said during the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, 'I would strongly recommend that this year, we do not do that.'
He claimed that smaller gatherings with everyone fully vaccinated and boosted against coronavirus is low risk, despite the massive number of breakthrough cases with the Omicron variant's emergence.
The nation's top infectious disease expert also had a sobering message on Wednesday '' COVID likely isn't ever going away.
'We're never going to stop counting, tests '' but we're looking forward, as everyone I think feels is appropriate, that ultimately we're going to have to live with something that will not be eradicated and very likely would not be eliminated,' he said.
Meanwhile, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, in a round of television interviews on Wednesday morning, said she was watching the nation's case load and its potential impact on health care providers.
Biden says he WILL issue domestic flight vaccine mandate IF his medical team advises it - one day after Fauci flip flopped on his support for one Joe Biden fueled confusion on Tuesday by saying he will issue a vaccine mandate for domestic flights if his medical team advises it - one day after Dr Anthony Fauci walked back his comments in support of such a measure.
Biden told reporters at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware - while walking his new German Shepherd puppy, Commander, with First Lady Jill Biden - that he will make a decision on domestic travel vaccine requirements 'when I get a recommendation from the medical team.'
In November, Biden said he would wait for the scientific community to provide him a recommendation when asked if consideration has been given to requiring proof of vaccination for domestic flights.
The surge in COVID cases from the Omicron variant has made the White House reassess whether to impose it.
Fauci, Biden's top health adviser, seemingly called for a vaccine mandate for air travelers on Sunday but quickly retracted his remarks the next day.
'Everything that comes up as a possibility, we put it on the able and we consider it, that does not mean that it is likely to happen,' Fauci clarified to CNN's Jim Acosta on Monday.
'I doubt if we're going to see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future,' he added.
The president also told reporters during his stroll on Tuesday evening that there has been 'a bit of progress' toward the administration's goal of producing and distributing at-home COVID testing kits amid nationwide shortages.
The administration has pledged that all Americans will be able to acquire an at-home rapid test for coronavirus after previously ruling it out.
While there was some data from other countries that showed less severe illness with Omicron, it was too early to say what the impact might be across the United States, particularly given its uneven vaccination rates, Walensky told MSNBC.
'We may have many, many more cases and so we may still very well see a lot of severe disease in the hospitals,' Walensky said.
'What I am focused on now is making sure that we can get through this Omicron surge, that we do so with minimal amount of hospitalization and severe disease,' she added, pointing to vaccines and booster shots as top tools to curb infections.
'We are seeing and expecting even more cases of this Omicron variant,' even if many are mild, she said separately on CNN.
Walensky also defended the CDC's move to slash the quarantine period for asymptomatic cases in half, to five days from 10, without any negative testing requirement.
The CDC director said that PCR tests are too sensitive and could return a positive even after someone is no longer contagious, and that rapid antigen tests could be unreliable in later stages of infection.
'We know it performs really well during that period where you're initially infected, but the FDA has not at all looked at whether '... your positive antigen really does correlate with whether you're transmissible or not,' she told CBS Mornings.
Walensky explained that even if someone tests negative with an antigen test after five days of isolation, the CDC would still urge them to wear a mask to prevent possible spread.
'Since it wasn't going to make a difference in our recommendations, we did not recommend an antigen at that period of time,' Walensky said.
'What we do know is about 85% to 90% of viral transmission happens in those first five days, which is why we really want people to stay home during that period of time,' Walensky said. 'And then mask for the rest of the time to capture that last 10% to 15%.'
States showing the highest daily infection numbers on Tuesday included New York, which reported as many as 40,780 cases, and California, which reported over 30,000. Texas reported more than 17,000 cases and Ohio over 15,000.
Global COVID-19 infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period, according to new data Wednesday.
Almost 900,000 cases were detected on average each day around the world between December 22 and 28, with myriad countries posting new all-time highs over the past 24 hours, including the United States, Australia and many European nations.
The simultaneous circulation of the Delta and Omicron variants of the coronavirus is creating a 'tsunami of cases', World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
'Delta and Omicron are now twin threats driving up cases to record numbers, leading to spikes in hospitalization and deaths,' said Tedros.
'I am highly concerned that Omicron, being highly transmissible and spreading at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases.'
Tedros repeated his call for countries to share vaccines more equity and warned that the emphasis on boosters in richer countries could leave poorer nations short of jabs.
He said the WHO was campaigning for every country to hit a target of 70% vaccine coverage by the middle of 2022, which would help end the acute phase of the pandemic.
New Year's Eve will mark the second anniversary of China alerting the WHO to 27 cases of 'viral pneumonia' of unknown origin in the city of Wuhan.
More than 281 million people have since been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and more than 5 million have died.
The CDC's new data on the prevalence of the Omicron variant shows that the Delta variant, which appears more severe but less contagious than Omicron, still has a hold on the country and is one driving factor behind the most current surge in cases.
It also raises the question of how the CDC could have recorded such a drastic difference in the strain's prevalence than what was the reality.
Jasmine Reed, a spokesperson for the CDC, recognized the 'wide predictive interval posted in last week's chart,' referring to the huge gap in the data for the week ending on December 18, and attributed it to the 'speed at which Omicron was increasing.'
'CDC's models have a range, and'... we're still seeing steady increase in the proportion of Omicron,' she told Fox News.
Fauci urges Americans to have a 'vaccinated, boosted' New Year's Eve and COVID will NEVER be eradicated Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he 'strongly recommends' against going to large New Year's Eve gatherings this year as the highly contagious Omicron variant causes massive case surges nationwide.
'If your plans are to go to a 40 to 50-person New Year's Eve party with all the bells and whistles and everybody hugging and kissing,' Fauci said during the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, 'I would strongly recommend that this year, we do not do that.'
He claimed that smaller gatherings with everyone fully vaccinated and boosted against coronavirus is low risk, despite the massive number of breakthrough cases with the Omicron variant's emergence.
The nation's top infectious disease expert also had a sobering message about COVID on Wednesday '' COVID likely isn't ever going away.
'We're never going to stop counting, tests '' but we're looking forward, as everyone I think feels is appropriate, that ultimately we're going to have to live with something that will not be eradicated and very likely would not be eliminated,' he said.
Even though Omicron is the most contagious variant yet, Fauci agrees with other medical professionals that it is a less severe case of COVID.
'All indications point to a lesser severity of Omicron versus Delta,' Fauci said, citing preliminary data.
He added: 'Final conclusion about the level of severity in children remains to be determined.'
The scant rate of testing in the US may be contributing to uncertainty in the data. The UK is performing 22.3 COVID tests per 1,000 people every day, five times more than the U.S. rate of 4.5, according to figures from Our World in Data.
Moreover, only a tiny fraction of the positive tests are actually sequenced to determine the variant strain, leaving huge potential gaps in the surveillance effort.
Dr. Jerome Adams, the former surgeon general for the Trump Administration, also pointed to testing as a reason for the false Omicron numbers. He referred to something called the 'S gene dropout,' in which one of the three target genes is not detected '' a signifier of the Omicron variant.
'A lot of people were seeing this S dropout on the tests even before they got the follow-up genetic testing, and so those samples were disproportionately more likely to be sent in for sequencing,' he told Fox News.
'It's also important for people to understand that in the grand scheme of things, they really were probably just a week or two ahead of what we're going to see anyway, because omicron is spreading so quickly that it is going to be 73 percent by the time you look at this week's or next week's numbers,' Dr. Adams told the news outlet.
While the CDC reported that the Delta variant accounted for 41 percent of cases in the week ending on December 25, that number could be as high as 58 percent given the agency's margin of error, NPR reported.
The CDC's latest data will also put a burden on hospitals that will have to adjust their treatment methods to account for the vast different in Omicron and Delta cases, as different strains require different antibodies and medications.
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. also doubled over the past two weeks. Over the past week, 235,269 Americans have been testing positive for the virus every day '' a 98 percent increase from two weeks ago and approaching the prior record of 247,503 set last January, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
Though Omicron is thought to be less severe than Delta, hospitalizations have also been rising, up 6 percent nationwide over the past two weeks, to 71,381.
PROJECT POGO & PROJECT ZYPHR: It doesn't get more serious than these two black ops!
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 18:47
Let's be very clear, the Zionist cabal and their covert plans for total world domination have been laid bare like never before. People everywhere are now aware of the true purposes of apartheid state of Israel.
The Internet has been used by truth seekers to completely unveil their malevolent strategies to collapse the American Republic and form a One World Government headquartered in Jerusalem.
The specific timeline for establishing a Zionist dictatorship has been clearly delineated for well over a century. World War I, the Great Depression and World War II were each engineered by the Zionists in an effort to advance their New World Order agenda. Likewise, the false flag 9/11 attacks, War on Terror and Greater Israel project are integral pieces of their fastidiously formulated blueprint for wars of naked aggression and state-sponsored terrorism.
Now comes along one ''David Goldberg''. Goldberg has already eminently distinguished himself by outing a clandestine Trump administration war plan against Iran. There's no question that he possessed highly classified insider information which he widely disseminated to avert the invasion. As follows:
Once again, David Goldberg is exposing a crucial piece of the global Zionist scheme toward world conquest. Only this time he discloses the nuts and bolts of a worldwide black operation that will effectively take out every major truth speaker and writer who threatens their treasonous enterprise.
SOTN was quite reluctant to publish the article posted below in its entirety in light of its incorrect premise. Unlike Dr. Henry Makow, we fully believe that the ''David Goldberg'' identity is being used to expose very real plans to subjugate nations large and small in the interest of forming an overarching Zionist totalitarian superstate.
In reality, it makes no difference if ''David Goldberg'' is dead or alive, real or unreal; for the true messenger has divulged the most radioactive truth there is today for the Patriot Movement to comprehend. Simply put, the ultra-classified data dump posted below is as important as any ever posted by this Alt Media platform.
Again, even if it is the Zionist themselves who are stealthily putting out this extremely critical info in order to tag whoever picks it up and runs with it so they can eventually be incarcerated or exterminated, being privy to their odious scheme is much better than not knowing at all.
Lastly, we do not feel the video below in any way discredits the truth. It never really matters who the messenger is. All that does matter is that the raw unvarnished truth is disclosed so that truth seekers can make informed decisions and respond accordingly, yes!
N.B. Ever since Trump played his trump cards and totally exposed his hand, SOTN undertook a series of expos(C)s on his secret agenda. The 5 links that follow contain some of the most authoritative information on the Internet today about Trump's carefully hidden back story. The content of each of them is remarkably consistent with the ''David Goldberg'' article posted below them. The key phrase here is ''false opposition''. Donald J. Trump was installed by Israel in 2016 as both false and perfectly controlled opposition.
[embedded content]
(Posted Aug 31 by ''friends of David Goldberg'')
This story evolved when it was revealed that
David Elias Goldman didn't exist
It began as David Goldberg -''Anti Semites''
Are Being Tagged for Extermination
You reveal the truth. Then you
discredit it by having a phoney messenger.
Goldberg, 59, was supposedly murdered on June 9. His ''deadman's switch'' was supposedly activated in the form of this recording where he reveals that the White House has a project to ''tag, track and identify'' (''T, T & Id'') opponents of Zionist world government.They plan to eliminate these people: The ''high-value people'' through extermination; the ''low value'' people through viruses. Goldberg estimates the total at 15 million. This information is consistent with the fanaticism of Cabalists throughout history.Goldberg says Trump is an intrinsic part of this demented Zionist scheme. His first loyalty is to Israel. He is a con man first and foremost. This is all true. Except'...
RED FLAG!!!! David Elias Goldberg was supposedly a journalist but google him. There is NOTHING. No other pictures.
His image appears nowhere else on the Internet. No obituary. No funeral.
There is no evidence this man actually existed. He is a ''Fellow at the Jewish Center for Antisemitic Studies'' which doesn't exist. We are meant to discover all this.
Goldberg is a Jewish psyop, probably ADL, but I still take his message seriously. There is a mountain of corroborating evidence, i.e. Trump's subservience to Israel and Chabad, the Epstein connection and his recent remarks about being the ''King of Israel'' and ''destroying'' antisemites. We cannot be naive about the grave danger we face.Listen to the recording which I summarize below.
by Henry Makow PhD
David Goldberg supposedly was murdered on June 8. His ''dead man's switch'' has been activated by this recording.
A White House ''insider'', who he refers to as a male
yet interviewed a female, supposedly gave Goldberg a trove of documents and memos which indicate that the Cabalists (the Chabad cult) fear the increasing awareness about Zionist plans for a tyrannical world government based in Israel. Here are his main points:
1. The growing awareness of the Cabalist agenda for world government is a problem for Zionists. They have been shutting down some websites like The Ugly Truth. But, Goldberg says, they have initiated other web sites which actually tell the truth in order to identify people who subscribe. He speculates that Adam Green's Know More News is one of these but he does not know for sure. [Discrediting Green makes sense for Goldman, a Jewish psyop.] Goldberg calls these ''gatekeeper'' sites. He says Alex Jones is an obvious example. This ''T, T & ID'' program is called ''Project Pogo.'' Ironically, his own recordings actually may be fulfilling this function.
2. The second program is called ''Project Zyphr.'' This involves exterminating American opposition to Zionist world tyranny. He predicts power blackouts and/or a world financial crash will be used as a cover to round up opposition. A flu-like virus may be used. He speculates that it will go down in the winter of 2020-2021 after Trump's reelection which is guaranteed.
It makes sense. This is why the Demonrats are behaving so badly. To elect Trump.
This is why they are pushing gun control and the motive behind all the mass shootings.
The latest shooting was on Saturday. They often hire the same people to stage these shootings. ( See my Twitter feed for @Zyntrax.)
Left-Right (globalist-nationalist, fascist-communist) collaboration is part of a coordinated attack on humanity just like World War Two, and all wars. (Hitler vs Stalin yada yada) Americans are being led down a garden path. Trump is the ''Chosen One.''
All nation-states will be collapsed, Goldberg says. A world government and world currency will be presented as the only alternative to chaos.
Trump is totally on board. He has been promised the title ''King of Israel'' and his family will have the highest status.
3. Trump has been a conscious agent of this conspiracy for years. The script '-- ''Make America Great,'' Build the Wall, etc. '-- was all drafted five years ago. The election indeed may have been hacked '...by Israel. The Russian collusion is all diversion.
''Trump loved the script,'' Goldberg said. ''He'll be President. He'll be able to do a lot of things he was already predisposed to do.''
JUDAS GOAT
If Goldberg is correct, Trump is false opposition, a Judas Goat, or Pied Piper leading Americans to destruction, like Hitler did to Germans, while pretending to defend their interests. (Consider also Steve Bannon's connection to the Zionist mouthpiece, Breitbart.)
4. Goldberg says Trump's speechwriter Stephen Miller, left, a Jew like Trump, is an ardent Zionist and plays a ''big role'' in the agenda.
5. Goldberg said he feared for his life. He sees black SUVs outside his residence which drive away when he approaches them. He has given friends copies of all the documents. He doesn't care if he dies because ''this is getting serious'''...it is reaching a ''terrifying new level.''
He estimates 15 million will die but ''it could be more.''
But everyone will be caught up in the blackouts and ''financial meltdown.'' There will be food shortages and other mayhem which will be used to justify the new world government.
LITTLE PUSHBACK
I cannot vouch for this information but it would explain why I have received so little pushback. Yes, I am being partly shadowbanned on Google. But I suspect my Twitter followers and other readers are being identified.
I am not a witting part of ''Project Pogo.'' I am inspired by a belief in God and God's purpose for humanity. Our lives are trivial if we are not doing God's work in some fashion. This is our common purpose, our common meeting place. Humanity should be led by the very finest people instead of the dregs.
In conclusion, I believe Goldberg's information is true but that he is a Cabalist Jewish psyop designed to discredit this very information. They always telegraph their intentions. His Jewish accent is a little too thick to be believable. He doesn't exist. We will probably find his picture among ''victims'' of some mass shooting.
His recording probably functioned to do the job he was ''warning'' about, track ''antisemites.'' He said these ''gatekeeper'' sites get credibility by telling the truth, the very thing I believe he did.
I wanted to believe Goldberg was a Jewish martyr prepared to sacrifice his life to expose the madness of the Jewish leadership. This was not to be. It was another Jewish psyop. But it did reveal a lot of truth 1. Trump is first an agent of Israel and the NWO 2. Left and Right collaborate to advance the cabalist agenda 3. The period after Trump's 2020 election is an ominous time.
Goldberg's ''information'' will not deter me and I hope it won't deter you. We must use our freedom to oppose this evil plot.
We must hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Supreme Court Upholds Liability Shield For Vaccine Makers : Shots - Health News : NPR
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 18:43
People who have a beef with vaccines they claim were designed improperly can't sidestep a federal law that protects manufacturers from lawsuits, the Supreme Court has ruled.
In a closely watched case, the high court ruled 6-2 that federal law shields vaccine makers from suits filed in state courts seeking compensation for injuries or deaths due allegedly to avoidable design problems with the vaccines. Instead, the court said, people who claim injuries need to go through a special no-fault federal vaccine court.
The decision affirms the role of the special vaccine court and blunts a threat of lawsuits claiming defective vaccines caused autism in children.
In the case just decided by the Supreme Court, the family's initial claim that the vaccine's faulty design was to blame for a girl's seizures was rejected by the federal vaccine court. The family pursued a product liability case under state law that eventually wound up before the high court.
Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion for the majority said that was the wrong way to go, concluding the federal vaccine law "preempts all design-defect claims" for people seeking compensation for vaccine side effects.
A leading pediatricians' group hailed the decision. The ruling "protects children by strengthening our national immunization system and ensuring that vaccines will continue to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in this country," said a statement by American Academy of President Dr. O. Marion Burton.
Pfizer's General Counsel Amy Schulman said in a statement that the company is pleased the high court affirmed the ruling of the appeals court in the case.
China Panic-Hoards Half Of World's Grain Supply Amid Threats Of Collapse | ZeroHedge
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 18:34
About two and a half years ago, we told readers China was panic hoarding food, which was several months before the virus pandemic began to spread worldwide; Beijing has managed to stockpile more than half of the world's maize and other grains that have resulted in rapid food inflation and triggered famine in some countries.
In August 2019, we asked the question:
Does China believe that we are on the verge of a major global crisis? The communist Chinese government has always been very big into planning, and it appears that they have decided that now is the time to hoard food, gold and other commodities.
Fast forward today, the answer is most likely "yes." China maintains "historically high levels" of beans and grains stockpiled at COFCO Group's (a major Chinese state-owned food processor) 310 storage facilities in the northeastern part of the country, according to Nikkei Asia.
Qin Yuyun, head of grain reserves at the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, told reporters last month, "our wheat stockpiles can meet the demand for one and a half years. There is no problem whatsoever about the supply of food."
Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows China has approximately 69% of the globe's maize reserves in the first half of the crop year 2022, 60% of its rice, and 51% of its wheat.
Since the Chinese plan multiple years out, we've pointed out how a series of disasters and weather events have likely led state officials to forecast a troublesome period of food shortages. China has already observed droughts, floods, and pests that have ruined harvests. More than 20 months of snarled supply chains due to COVID and La Nina weather patterns (second consecutive one) have also produced volatile conditions for food production.
The one thing Beijing cannot have is discontent among its citizens triggered by food shortages and or soaring prices; that's why central planners spent $98.1 billion importing food in 2020, up 4.6 times from a decade earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs of China. For the first eight months of this year, China imported more food than in 2016.
"Over the past five years, China's soybean, maize and wheat imports soared two- to twelvefold on aggressive purchases from the U.S., Brazil and other supplier nations. Imports of beef, pork, dairy and fruit jumped two- to fivefold," Nikkei Asia said.
China's acquisition of the world's food supply has helped push food prices to decade highs. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated the food price index is currently at a ten-year high.
The Ministry of Commerce has even told households to stock up on food in case of emergencies, all under the guise of the virus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media has downplayed the notion China is headed for a food crisis. Chinese President Xi Jinping must keep food supply and prices in order to ensure food security; otherwise, discontent among citizens will increase in the world's second-largest economy.
Nikkei Asia concludes by saying, "throughout history, food shortages have triggered popular unrest. They served as a contributing factor to uprisings that toppled Chinese dynasties."
So without a doubt, Beijing has been stockpiling food to avoid a collapse as central bankers have yet to figure out how to print food from thin air. But don't worry, as the global food situation worsens, we're all likely going to be forced to eat crickets, worms, and grasshoppers.
CDC Sued for Withholding Post-Licensure V-safe Data on COVID-19 Vaccines
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 17:51
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been sued by the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), which claims the agency is improperly withholding COVID-19 v-safe data from the American public.
In a statement on Dec. 29, the non-profit group said it had filed a lawsuit (pdf) against the public health agency and the United States Department of Health and Human Services to force it to produce de-identified post-licensure safety data for the COVID-19 vaccines in the CDC's v-safe system, to the public.
As per the CDC, v-safe is an ''active surveillance program to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during the period when the vaccines are authorized for use under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and possibly early after vaccine licensure.''
Through the app, vaccine recipients can inform the agency about any side effects they have suffered after getting the COVID-19 shots.
Currently, the CDC has made data from its v-safe system available to the private computer technology company, Oracle, in de-identified form, meaning that personal identifying information has been retracted.
This data ''will be collected, managed, and housed on a secure server by Oracle,'' the CDC says (pdf). ''Through Health and Human Services (HHS), Oracle has donated IT services to any agency conducting COVID-19 related activities '... All data will be stored, processed, and transmitted in accordance with the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) and based on NIST standards.''
However, ICAN wants the CDC to produce that same de-identified data to the general public to assure transparency regarding the CDC's and the Biden administration's claims that COVID-19 vaccines are ''safe and effective.''
''The FDA and CDC have now made crystal clear that their promise of transparency with regard to COVID-19 vaccines was hogwash,'' ICAN said in Wednesday's statement.
Protesters rally against vaccine mandates in New York City on Nov. 20, 2021. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images) Syringes and vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered at a drive-up vaccination site from Renown Health in Reno, Nev., on Dec. 17, 2020. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)The Food and Drug Administration has asked a judge to give it 75 years to produce data concerning the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, having previously asked to give it until the year 2076 to fully release the documents.
''As everyone now knows, the FDA has asked a federal judge to give it at least 75 years to produce the pre-authorization/licensure safety data. And we now know with certainty, federal health authorities similarly want to hide the post-authorization/licensure safety data,'' ICAN said.
''Based on the CDC's own documentation, the data submitted to v-safe is already available in de-identified form (with no personal health information) and could be immediately released to the public,'' ICAN said.
The non-profit group, through its attorneys, asked in three Freedom of Information requests that the CDC produce the de-identified data, to which the health agency acknowledged (pdf) that ''v-safe data contains approximately 119 million medical entries'' but declined to produce it because the ''information in the app is not de-identified.''
However, the third request was administratively closed (pdf) by the CDC, which claimed it was a duplicate of the original request, which was denied.
''The first request was denied by the CDC because the CDC claimed it requested data that was de-identified when entered into the app, but then the CDC closed the second request (which was identical to the first request except for making clear it was seeking data de-identified at any point'--before or after it was entered into the app) by claiming the second request was duplicative of the first request! The CDC is plainly playing games. It clearly does not want the v-safe data released,'' ICAN said.
The Epoch Times has contacted the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.
ICAN said it believes that members of the public should ''have immediate access to all v-safe data in de-identified form,'' particularly in light of the fact that the Biden administration is mandating vaccines to millions of Americans.
''Despite the fact that this de-identified data already exists, that it is already in the hands of a private company, and that the CDC has never objected to its production, the CDC has so far failed to produce it to ICAN or to the American public'--the same people being mandated to take this liability-free product,'' ICAN said.
''But don't worry, ICAN will not rest until this data is made public and so today has commenced a lawsuit against the CDC and HHS demanding that a court compel them to release this data,'' ICAN added.
ICAN was founded by Del Bigtree in 2016. Earlier this year, the organization filed a lawsuit against the CDC to request the federal agency take down its statement that claims vaccines do not cause autism from its webpage on autism and vaccines.
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Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
The Fed's Doomsday Prophet Has a Dire Warning About Where We're Headed - POLITICO
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 17:35
Hoenig's dissents are striking because the Fed's top policy committee '-- called the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC '-- doesn't just prize consensus; it nearly demands it. The committee likes to present a unified front to the public because it is arguably the most powerful governing body in American economic affairs. Hoenig's string of dissents shattered that appearance of unanimity at a critically important time, when the Fed was expanding its interventions in the American economy to an unprecedented degree. It was a hinge point in American history, and the economy has never been the same since.
Between 2008 and 2014, the Federal Reserve printed more than $3.5 trillion in new bills. To put that in perspective, it's roughly triple the amount of money that the Fed created in its first 95 years of existence. Three centuries' worth of growth in the money supply was crammed into a few short years. The money poured through the veins of the financial system and stoked demand for assets like stocks, corporate debt and commercial real estate bonds, driving up prices across markets. Hoenig was the one Fed leader who voted consistently against this course of action, starting in 2010. In doing so, he pitted himself against the Fed's powerful chair at the time, Ben Bernanke, who was widely regarded as a hero for the ambitious rescue plans he designed and oversaw.
Hoenig lost his fight. Throughout 2010, the FOMC votes were routinely 11 against one, with Hoenig being the one. He retired from the Fed in late 2011, and after that, a reputation hardened around Hoenig as the man who got it wrong. He is remembered as something like a cranky Old Testament prophet who warned incessantly, and incorrectly, about one thing: the threat of coming inflation.
But this version of history isn't true. While Hoenig was concerned about inflation, that isn't what solely what drove him to lodge his string of dissents. The historical record shows that Hoenig was worried primarily that the Fed was taking a risky path that would deepen income inequality, stoke dangerous asset bubbles and enrich the biggest banks over everyone else. He also warned that it would suck the Fed into a money-printing quagmire that the central bank would not be able to escape without destabilizing the entire financial system.
On all of these points, Hoenig was correct. And on all of these points, he was ignored. We are now living in a world that Hoenig warned about.
The Fed is now in a vise. Inflation is rising faster than the Fed believed it would even a few months ago, with higher prices for gas, goods and automobiles being fueled by the Fed's unprecedented money printing programs. This comes after years of the Fed steadily pumping up the price of assets like stocks and bonds through its zero-percent interest rates and quantitative easing during and after Hoenig's time on the FOMC. To respond to rising inflation, the Fed has signaled that it will start hiking interest rates next year. But if that happens, there is every reason to expect that it will cause stock and bond markets to fall, perhaps precipitously, or even cause a recession.
''There is no painless solution,'' Hoenig said in a recent interview. ''It's going to be difficult. And the longer you wait the more painful it will end up being.''
To be clear, the kind of pain that Hoenig is talking about involves high unemployment, social instability and potentially years of economic malaise. Hoenig knows this because he has seen it before. He saw it during his long career at the Fed, and he saw it most acutely during the Great Inflation of the 1970s. That episode in history, which bears eerie parallels with the situation today, is the lodestar that ended up guiding so much of Hoenig's thinking as a Fed official. It explains why he was willing to throw away his reputation as a team player in 2010, why he was willing to go down in history as a crank and why he was willing to accept the scorn of his colleagues and people like Bernanke.
Hoenig voted no because he'd seen firsthand what the consequences were when the Fed got things wrong, and kept money too easy for too long.
The last time America suffered a long and uncontrolled period of inflation, Thomas Hoenig was given the miserable job of cleaning up the mess it left behind. This was the period that has come to be known as the Great Inflation, a period in the 1970s characterized by long lines at gas stations and price hikes at grocery stores that came so fast price tags were replaced midday. Hoeing came to realize that the institution he worked for, the Federal Reserve, wasn't just a bystander to this inflation. It had helped create it.
As a bank examiner, Hoenig spent the 1970s watching as the Fed's policies helped pile on the inflationary tinder that would later ignite. These policies are known as ''easy money'' policies, meaning that the Fed was keeping interest rates so low that borrowing was cheap and easy. The Fed had kept interest rates so low during the 1960s that they were effectively negative when accounting for inflation by the late 1970s. When rates are effectively negative, that might be called a super-easy money policy. This kind of environment fuels inflation because all that easy money is looking for a place to go. Economists call this phenomenon ''too many dollars chasing too few goods,'' meaning that everybody is spending the easy money, which drives up the prices of the things they are buying because demand is high.
Importantly, the Fed creates these conditions by creating more and more dollars, or increasing the monetary supply, as the economists say.
As a bank examiner, Hoenig realized another very important thing. Easy money policies don't just drive up the price of consumer goods, like bread and cars. The money also drives up price of assets like stocks, bonds and real estate. During the 1970s, low interest rates fueled demand for assets, which eventually inflated asset bubbles across the Midwest, including in heavy farming states, such as Kansas and Nebraska, and in the energy-producing state of Oklahoma. When asset prices like this rise quickly, it creates that dreaded thing called an asset bubble.
The self-reinforcing logic of asset bubbles was painfully evident in farming, and it reflected the dynamics that would later play out in the housing bubble and the over-heated asset markets of 2021.
When the Fed kept interest rates low during the 1970s, it encouraged farmers around Kansas City to take on more cheap debt and buy more land. As cheap loans boosted demand for land, it pushed up land prices '-- something that might be expected to cool off demand.
But the logic of asset bubbles has the opposite effect. Rising land prices actually enticed more people to borrow money and buy yet more land because the borrowers expected the land value to only increase, producing a handsome payoff down the road. Higher prices led to more borrowing, which led to higher prices and more borrowing still. The wheel continued to spin as long as debt was cheap compared to the expected payoff of rising asset prices.
The bankers' logic followed a similar path. The bankers saw farmland as collateral on the loans, and they believed the collateral would only rise in value. This gave bankers the confidence to keep extending loans because they believed the farmers would be able to repay them as land prices increased. This is how asset bubbles escalate in a loop that intensifies with each rotation, with the reality of today's higher asset prices driving the value of tomorrow's asset prices ever higher, increasing the momentum even further.
The bubbles weren't just confined to farmland. The same thing was happening in the oil and natural gas business. Rising oil prices and cheap debt encouraged oil companies to borrow money and drill more wells. The banks built a whole side business dedicated to risky energy loans to pay for these wells and related mineral leases, all based on the value of the oil they'd produce. In commercial real estate, it was the same thing.
It all came to an end in 1979, with a severity that has never been repeated. Paul Volcker became chair of the Federal Reserve and he was intent on beating inflation by hiking interest rates. Under Volcker, the Fed raised short-term interest rates from 10 percent in 1979 to 20 percent in 1981, the highest they have ever been. This unleashed massive economic havoc, pushing the unemployment rate to 10 percent and forcing homeowners to take out mortgages with 17 percent interest rates or higher. Volcker recognized that when he was fighting inflation, he was actually fighting two kinds: asset inflation and price inflation. He called them ''cousins,'' and acknowledged that they had been created by the Fed.
''The real danger comes from [the Fed] encouraging or inadvertently tolerating rising inflation and its close cousin of extreme speculation and risk taking, in effect standing by while bubbles and excesses threaten financial markets,'' Volcker later wrote in his memoir.
When the Fed doubled the cost of borrowing, the demand for loans slowed down, which in turn depressed the demand for assets like farmland and oil wells. The price of assets collapsed, with farmland prices falling by 27 percent in the early 1980s and oil prices falling from more than $120 to $25 by 1986. This, in turn, created a cascading effect within the banking system. Assets like farmland and oil reserves had been used to underpin the value of bank loans, and those loans were themselves considered ''assets'' on the banks' balance sheets. When the loans started failing, the banks had to write down the value of those loans, which made some banks appear insolvent because they suddenly didn't have enough assets on hand to cover their liabilities. When land and oil prices fell, the entire system fell apart.
''You could see that no one anticipated that adjustment, even after Volcker began to address inflation. They didn't think it would happen to them,'' Hoenig recalled. Overall, more than 1,600 banks failed between 1980 and 1994, the worst failure rate since Depression.
This was the period when Hoenig traveled around the Midwest, auditing banks to determine if they were still solvent during the recession. Not surprisingly, Hoenig ended up arguing with a lot of bankers when his team declared that the value of the banks' assets were not sufficient to meet their liabilities.
''They could become quite stressed and quite vocal in their objections,'' Hoenig later recalled of the bankers. ''You could empathize with them enormously. You could understand the anguish. Lives were destroyed in this environment, people lost everything in this environment. I didn't blame them for yelling or being distraught.''
John Yorke, a former senior vice president at the Kansas City Fed, observed a stubbornness in Hoenig during that period that persisted through his entire career. Shutting down community banks wasn't easy, but Hoenig didn't seem to flinch from the responsibility. ''Tom's German,'' Yorke said, referring to the ethnic origin of Hoenig's name. ''He's strict. There's rules.''
It would have been easy enough for Hoenig to blame the bankers for making so many risky loans after the bubble burst. Examples of banking grotesquery were abundant. But Hoenig didn't think the stupidity in lending was entirely the bankers' fault. The Fed had encouraged the asset bubbles through its easy money policies.
''The fact is, [bankers] made the loans,'' Hoenig said. ''They made them in an environment of incredible optimism in terms of asset values.'' By ''optimism,'' Hoenig was referring to something called ''inflation expectations.'' The bankers expected asset prices would continue rising indefinitely, and that very expectation fueled demand for loans, which in turn caused the price to rise. ''And that, really, was in part the fault of a decade of too-accommodative monetary policy.''
There were many counterarguments to explain inflation that didn't blame the Fed. These arguments rested on the idea of ''cost push'' inflation, meaning that all kinds of forces outside the Fed were pushing price higher. Middle Eastern cartels were boosting the price of oil, for example, while labor unions were pushing up the price of labor. The federal government spent years trying to fight inflation under this theory, even going to far as to impose wage and price controls. It didn't work.
There is strong evidence to support Hoenig's view that the Fed was fueling inflation the whole time. In a 2004 report, the Fed economist Edward Nelson wrote that the most likely cause of inflation during the '70s was something he called ''monetary policy neglect.'' Basically, the Fed kept its foot on the money pedal through most of the decade because it didn't understand that more money was creating more inflation. This kind of inflation is called ''demand pull'' inflation, meaning that the Fed stokes demand, which causes prices to increase.
The author and economist Allan Meltzer, who reconstructed the Fed's decision-making during the 1970s in his 2,100-page history of the central bank, delivered a stark verdict. It was monetary policy, set by the Fed, that primarily created the problem. ''The Great Inflation resulted from policy choices that placed much more weight on maintaining high or full employment than on preventing or reducing inflation,'' Meltzer wrote. ''For much of the period, this choice reflected both political pressures and popular opinion as expressed in polls.''
Hoenig carried these lessons with him. He was promoted to become the president of the Kansas City Fed, in 1991, which gave him a voting seat on the FOMC. He served there during the long tenure of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, and then Greenspan's successor Ben Bernanke. Between 1991 and 2009, Hoenig rarely dissented.
Then came 2010, when he believed the Fed was repeating many of the same mistakes it made in the 1970s.
The FOMC faced a terrible dilemma after the crash of 2008. The central bank had kept interest rates pegged at zero in the wake of the banking crisis, but it didn't seem to be enough to stoke strong growth. The unemployment rate was still 9.6 percent, close to the levels that characterize a deep recession. While members of the FOMC generally agreed that another recession was unlikely, the committee began considering new and experimental ways to exercise its power.
Hoenig began voting no in 2010 when it became clear that Bernanke wanted to keep interest rates at zero for an extended period of time. A review of Hoenig's comments during the 2010 FOMC meetings (the transcripts of which become public five years after the fact), along with his speeches and interviews at the time, show that he rarely mentioned inflation. Hoenig was warning about even deeper dangers that might be stoked by keeping interest rates pegged at zero. But his warnings were also very hard to understand for people who didn't closely follow the politics of money.
Hoenig, for instance, liked to talk a lot about something called the ''allocative effect'' of keeping interest rates at zero. The allocative effect wasn't something that people debated at the barbershop, but it was something that affected everyone. Hoenig was talking about the allocation of money and the ways in which the Fed shifted money from one part of the economy to another. This is what he'd witnessed during the 1970s. The Fed's policies encouraged or discouraged things like Wall Street speculation that could lead to ruinous financial crashes.
But it also did more than that '-- encouraging speculation and rising asset prices also shifts money between the rich and the poor because the rich own the vast majority of assets in the United States. Hoenig was worried that a decade of zero-percent interest rates would have the same effect.
Bernanke was unpersuaded by these arguments. When Bernanke published a memoir in 2015, he entitled it The Courage to Act. This captured the theory of Bernankeism, which holds that central bank intervention is not only necessary, but even courageous and noble (Bernanke declined to answer questions about Hoenig's dissents that were sent to Bernanke in June).
Bernanke pushed the FOMC to keep rates at zero throughout 2010. Then, in August of 2010, with unemployment high and growth sluggish, he publicly unveiled the plan to create $600 billion new bills through an experimental program called ''quantitative easing.'' This program had been used once before, during the financial crash. But it had never been used in the way that Bernanke proposed it be used in 2010, as an economic stimulus plan to be employed outside of an emergency.
If Hoenig had learned one thing during his decades at the Fed, it was that keeping money too easy for too long could create disastrous side effects that only manifested years later. That's what happened during the 1970s, and again in the mid-2000s, when low rates fueled the housing bubble. Now Hoenig was being asked to vote for quantitative easing, a super-easy money policy that would encourage risky lending and asset bubbles.
The basic mechanics and goals of quantitative easing are pretty simple. The goal is to pump massive amounts of cash into the banking system at the very moment when there is almost no incentive for banks to save the money, because rates are so low. (When rates are low, banks don't earn much from saving cash because the cash earns meager interest.) The Fed creates the money as it always has, by using its own team of financial traders who work at the Fed's regional bank in New York.
These traders buy and sell assets from a select group of 24 financial firms called ''primary dealers,'' an ultra-exclusive club that includes the likes of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The primary dealers have special bank vaults at the Fed, called reserve accounts. To execute quantitative easing, a trader at the New York Fed would call up one of the primary dealers, like JPMorgan Chase, and offer to buy $8 billion worth of Treasury bonds from the bank. JPMorgan would sell the Treasury bonds to the Fed trader. Then the Fed trader would hit a few keys and tell the Morgan banker to look inside their reserve account. Voila. The Fed had instantly created $8 billion out of thin air, in the reserve account, to complete the purchase.
Morgan could, in turn, use this money to buy assets in the wider marketplace. Bernanke planned to do such transactions over and over again until the Fed had purchased $600 billion worth of assets. In other words, the Fed would buy things using money it created until it had filled the Wall Street reserve accounts with 600 billion new dollars.
Inside the closed-door FOMC meetings, quantitative easing was debated during 2010 for being what it was '-- a large-scale experiment that carried unclear benefits and risks. There was more opposition to the plan than was publicly known at the time. Hoenig wasn't the only FOMC member with strong objections to the plan. The regional bank presidents Charles Plosser, Richard Fisher and Jeffrey Lacker expressed concerns about it, as did a Fed governor named Kevin Warsh.
The Fed's own research on quantitative easing was surprisingly discouraging. If the Fed pumped $600 billion into the banking system in roughly eight months, it was expected to cut the unemployment rate by just .03 percent. While that wasn't much, it was something. The plan could create 750,000 new jobs by the end of 2012, a small change to the unemployment rate but a big deal to those 750,000 people.
There were many downsides to the plan, but the risks all played out over the long term. The primary worries were the ones Hoenig pointed out, about risky lending and asset bubbles. But there was also concern that quantitative easing could create price inflation, encourage more government borrowing (because the plan worked by purchasing government debt) and that it would be very difficult to end once it began because markets would become addicted to the flow of new money.
The final vote on quantitative easing was set on Nov. 3, 2010, and opposition was still strong. Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed, said the justifications for quantitative easing were thin and the risks were large and uncertain. ''Please count me in the nervous camp,'' Lacker said at the time.
Plosser, the Philadelphia Fed president, was blunter. ''I do not support another round of asset purchases at this time,'' he said. ''Again, given these very small anticipated benefits, we should be even more focused on the downside risks of this program.''
Fisher, the Dallas Fed president, said he was ''deeply concerned'' about the plan. ''I see considerable risk in conducting policy with the consequence of transferring income from the poor, those most dependent on fixed income, and the saver, to the rich,'' he said at the time.
According to transcripts of internal FOMC debates, Bernanke defended the plan with an argument that he would use repeatedly in coming years, saying that the Fed faced risks if it didn't intervene. Bernanke also knew he had the votes to pass quantitative easing. Due to a quirk in the FOMC voting rotation, the critics Fisher, Lacker and Plosser didn't have a vote that day. Bernanke had personally lobbied Warsh, the Fed governor, who came to an agreement that he'd support quantitative easing, according to Bernanke's memoir, although he would write an op-ed expressing his concerns about it.
Hoenig believed that there would likely be no going back if the Fed unleashed quantitative easing in late 2008. Just like the 1970s, the Fed might end up keeping money too easy for too long as it tried to juice the job market, chasing short-term gains as it piled up long-term risks.
If Hoenig had voted to support quantitative easing on Nov. 3, he would have almost certainly been praised by his peers. By breaking his long string of dissents that year, he would have allowed the Fed to appear united in the decision to embark on a new and experimental course. But something held him back.
Hoenig has a stubborn streak when it comes to such decision, and it traces back to his long history of working with serious numbers. During his childhood in Fort Madison, Iowa, Hoenig spent his holiday breaks working at his dad's small plumbing shop. Hoenig was sent to the back room with a clipboard so he could record the inventory of plumbing parts. If he made a mistake, his dad could find himself short of supplies. After graduating high school, Hoenig served as an artillery officer in Vietnam, where he calculated the firing range of mortar shells to ensure they landed near enemy positions rather than on his fellow U.S. soldiers. Hoenig's upbringing taught him that getting numbers right was a deadly serious job. And he felt a sense of duty to get it right. When he enlisted to fight in Vietnam, he had explained the decision in simple terms to his sister, Kathleen Kelley.
''I remember him saying: 'You know, I'm an American citizen and I hope to be able to enjoy all the benefits this country offers, so it's my responsibility,''' Kelley recalled. He would later characterize his string of dissents in this language. He called it his ''duty.''
There were 10 votes in favor of quantitative easing. When it was Hoenig's turn to vote, he answered: ''Respectfully, no.''
Hoenig retired from the Fed in late 2011. As he predicted, the round of quantitative easing he voted against was just the beginning. By 2012, economic growth was still tepid enough that Bernanke argued that more quantitative easing was in order. This time, the Fed printed roughly $1.6 trillion. The Fed also kept interest rates remained pegged at zero for roughly seven years, by far the longest stretch in history (rates had touched near-zero in the late '50s and early '60s, but stayed there only briefly).
The Fed tried mightily to reverse its easy money programs, but largely failed to do so. The central bank tried to raise interest rates slowly, while withdrawing some of the excess cash it had injected through years of quantitative easing. When the Fed tried to withdraw this stimulus, markets reacted negatively. In late 2018, for example, the stock and bond markets fell sharply after the Fed had been steadily raising rates and reversing quantitative easing by selling off the assets it purchased (a maneuver it dubbed ''quantitative tightening''). Fed Chair Jay Powell quickly halted those efforts in a move that traders dubbed the ''Powell Pivot.''
For Hoenig, the most dispiriting part seems to be that zero-percent rates and quantitative easing have had exactly the kind of ''allocative effects'' that he warned about. Quantitative easing stoked asset prices, which primarily benefited the very rich. By making money so cheap and available, it also encouraged riskier lending and financial engineering tactics like debt-fueled stock buybacks and mergers, which did virtually nothing to improve the lot of millions of people who earned a living through their paychecks.
In May of 2020, Hoenig published a paper that spelled out his grim verdict on the age of easy money, from 2010 until now. He compared two periods of economic growth: The period between 1992 and 2000 and the one between 2010 and 2018. These periods were comparable because they were both long periods of economic stability after a recession, he argued. The biggest difference was the Federal Reserve's extraordinary experiments in money printing during the latter period, during which time productivity, earnings and growth were weak. During the 1990s, labor productivity increased at an annual average rate of 2.3 percent, about twice as much as during the age of easy money. Real median weekly earnings for wage and salary employees rose by 0.7 percent on average annually during the 1990s, compared to only 0.26 percent during the 2010s. Average real gross domestic product growth '-- a measure of the overall economy '-- rose an average of 3.8 percent annually during the 1990s, but by only 2.3 percent during the recent decade.
The only part of the economy that seemed to benefit under quantitative easing and zero-percent interest rates was the market for assets. The stock market more than doubled in value during the 2010s. Even after the crash of 2020, the markets continued their stellar growth and returns. Corporate debt was another super-hot market, stoked by the Fed, rising from about $6 trillion in 2010 to a record $10 trillion at the end of 2019.
And now, for the first time since the Great Inflation of the 1970s, consumer prices are rising quickly along with asset prices. Strained supply chains are to blame for that, but so is the very strong demand created by central banks, Hoenig said. The Fed has been encouraging government spending by purchasing billions of Treasury bonds each month while pumping new money into the banks. Just like the 1970s, there are now a whole lot of dollars chasing a limited amount of goods. ''That's a big demand pull on the economy,'' Hoenig said. ''The Fed is facilitating that.''
Hoenig's 2020 paper didn't get much attention. After his retirement from the Fed, he served as stint as vice chairman of the FDIC, where he pushed an unsuccessful proposal to break up the big banks. Now he lives in Kansas City, publishing papers and giving the occasional media interview. He is still issuing warnings about the dangers of runaway money printing, and he is still being mostly ignored.
Hoenig isn't optimistic about what American life might look like after another decade of weak growth, wage stagnation and booming asset values that primarily benefited the rich. This was something he talked about a lot, both publicly and privately. In his mind, economics and the banking system were tightly intertwined with American society. One thing affected the other. When the financial system benefited only a handful of people, average people started to lose faith in society as a whole.
''Do you think that we would have had the political, shall we say turmoil, revolution, we had in 2016, had we not had this great divide created? Had we not had the effects of the zero interest rates that benefited some far more than others?'' Hoenig asked. ''I don't know. It's a counterfactual. But it's a question I would like to pose.''
Read more in THE LORDS OF EASY MONEY, published by Simon and Schuster. Copyright (C) 2022 Christopher Leonard.
New York is Using Race to Determine Access to a Limited Supply of Life-Saving COVID Treatments
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 17:03
Patients wait for their treatment inside the Regeneron Clinic at a monoclonal antibody treatment site in Pembroke Pines, Florida, on August 19, 2021 (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)''Monoclonal Antibody Treatments Save Lives,'' announced the New York City Department of Health in an October 26 public notice. These treatments ''are available and lifesaving,'' the agency said, noting that they ''have averted at least 1,100 hospitalizations and at least 500 deaths among people treated in New York City.'' The agency urged the public to seek out these monoclonal antibody treatments as soon as possible: ''When given early after symptom onset, mAb treatments can decrease the risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19, which is why it is crucial to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as symptoms begin '' the sooner someone is tested, the sooner treatment can begin."
The city's health agency quoted its own Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi: ''the science shows that monoclonal antibody treatments work and can make all the difference when it comes to the severity of COVID-19 illness." It thus urged that ''treatment should be given as soon as possible after someone tests positive for COVID-19.'' Studies from Pfizer, cited by the agency, independently demonstrated just how effective the company's antiviral treatment, called Paxlovid, can be: it ''decreased Covid-19-linked hospitalisation or mortality risk from any cause by 88%.''
New York City Department of Health Press Release, Oct. 26, 2021But with the Omicron variant now the dominant COVID strain in New York, both the city and state are facing severe shortages in the availability of effective antiviral monoclonal treatments. While Pfizer claimed its antiviral treatment would work against Omicron, the New York State Department of Health issued a memo to all health care providers this week warning that "Sotrovimab (Xevudy) is the only authorized monoclonal antibody product expected to be effective against the omicron variant.'' Yet due to ''a significant surge in cases and reduced effectiveness of existing therapeutics due to the omicron variant,'' the agency warned that ''supplies of oral antivirals will be extremely limited initially.'' As of this week, the agency also said the same of its monoclonal antibody treatment: ''supplies of Sotrovimab are extremely limited.''
These severe shortages mean that there will be far more people who are sick from COVID than there are available doses of antiviral and monoclonal antibodies treatment. That, in turn, requires that healthcare providers make decisions about who should be prioritized to receive such life-saving treatments and who should be deprioritized, and which factors ought to be used to determine priority.
Before determining priority schemes, it must first be determined which groups of COVID patients are eligible at all to receive these potentially life-saving treatments and which from the start are declared ineligible. The state Department of Health memo sets out the list of all factors which must be met in order for a patient to be eligible. They include age (must be older than 12), COVID status (must have tested positive), and progression of the virus (must have "mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms").
Then there is an additional requirement that makes intuitive sense: the COVID patient must ''have a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness.'' It makes sense that the government would seek to prioritize those who are at higher risk for developing severe illness.
But the policy then states that anyone who is non-white '-- regardless of age, health or underlying medical conditions '-- is automatically deemed to have met the requirement that one must have ''a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness" in order to receive this treatment (''Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor."). That means that a healthy twenty-year-old Asian football player or a 17-year-old African-American marathon runner from a wealthy family will be automatically deemed at heightened risk to develop serious COVID illness '-- making them instantly eligible for monoclonal treatments upon testing positive and showing symptoms '-- while a White person of exactly the same age and health condition from an impoverished background would not be automatically eligible.
Eligibility requirements for treatments for the omicron strain of COVID, New York State Department of Health, Dec. 27, 2021This policy was first flagged by New York journalist Karol Markowicz, whose Twitter summary described it as ''white people need not apply.'' That summary is not accurate. White people who are sick from COVID can still be eligible for antibody treatment, but only if they first demonstrate that they have ''a medical condition that increase[s] their risk for severe illness.'' But non-white people have the significant advantage of being automatically eligible without having to demonstrate that, since their non-white race is deemed to inherently constitute an increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. In other words, when determining eligibility for life-saving treatments, New York state is explicitly prioritizing some races over others.
The rationale for using race to determine who is and is not eligible for life-saving COVID treatments is dubious in the extreme, to put it generously. The last passage of the New York Health Department's memo states that ''at this time, Sotrovimab (Xevudy) is the only authorized monoclonal antibody therapeutic that is expected to be effective against the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.'' It directs that ''Supplies of Sotrovimab are extremely limited and providers should adhere to NYS DOH prioritization guidance.''
That separate document establishes the official framework for determining not just eligibility but also prioritization in the event of limitations on the availability of COVID treatments. Entitled ''Prioritization of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies and Oral Antivirals for the Treatment of COVID-19 During Times of Resource Limitations,'' the document details the triage procedures that should be used to determine which sick people get this treatment and which patients are denied it. ''In times of limited supplies of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and oral antivirals (OAVs), providers should prioritize patients eligible for treatment based on their level of risk for progressing to severe COVID-19,'' the memo states, adding: ''in addition, the most efficacious products should be prioritized for patients with the highest risk for hospitalization and death.''
That document sets forth five different categories of patients who are entitled to priority when it comes to limited COVID treatment. The more risk factors a patient has, the higher priority they are assigned. As one would expect, COVID patients who are older, immunocompromised, and with "risk factors for severe illness'' receive priority in the event of treatment shortages. But the priority scheme also directs that race be used as a critical metric: ''non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.''
To justify this race-based priority scheme, the New York State memos rely on and cite two separate documents from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The first is entitled ''People with Certain Medical Conditions,'' and it lists the medical conditions that render a person ''more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.'' On that list one finds the pathologies one would expect: cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart conditions and others. But the CDC also features race as a factor to consider when assessing risk:
Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put various groups of people at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, including many people from certain racial and ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities.
Studies have shown people from racial and ethnic minority groups are also dying from COVID-19 at younger ages. People in minority groups are often younger when they develop chronic medical conditions and may be more likely to have more than one condition.
The document which the CDC cites is exclusively devoted to elaborating on its rationale for including race as a COVID risk factor. Entitled ''Risk of Severe Illness or Death from COVID-19 '-- Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities,'' it begins by asking: ''Why are some racial and ethnic minority groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19?''
The factors which the CDC cites immediately make clear how warped it is to prioritize some racial groups over others when it comes to access to life-saving COVID treatments. To begin with, the CDC notes that ''people from some racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than non-Hispanic White people.'' Indeed, the most recent CDC data demonstrates that Black people and Hispanics are getting vaccinated at lower rates than White people, while Asians are getting vaccinated at higher rates than everyone. That data shows that for forty-two states surveyed, ''58% percent of White people had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, which was close to the rate for Hispanic people (56%) but higher than the rate for Black people (51%),'' while ''the overall vaccination rate across states for Asian people was higher compared to White people (77% vs. 58%).''
But at least in many liberal sectors, a failure to be vaccinated for COVID has been deemed a moral failing that deserves deprioritization for health care, not higher prioritization. Those calling for vaccine mandates and vaccine passports want people who are unvaccinated to be denied the ability to work, study, travel or have access to public spaces on the ground that being unvaccinated is an immoral choice that endangers responsible citizens. Some doctors are refusing to provide health care to unvaccinated people, and the medical profession has been openly debating whether the unvaccinated should be turned away. Some liberal politicians have advocated that unvaccinated people be denied health insurance.
For all of 2021, the prevailing argument has been that the unvaccinated are reckless, immoral, diseased and dangerous, and deserve punishment and restrictions. But that is exactly why it was necessary to create a false narrative about who the unvaccinated population is: pretending that they are composed only of White Trump supporters while erasing the large percentages of Black and Hispanic Americans who remain unvaccinated. No liberal is comfortable admitting that they are advocating policies that will result in the firing of people in the middle of a pandemic who are disproportionately Black. Indeed, it has become increasingly popular to argue that any policy, even if racially neutral on its face, should be deemed racist if it disproportionately disadvantages Black or other non-white people; given that Black people have among the highest percentages of unvaccinated people by racial group, policies such as vaccinate mandates and passports would disproportionately result in the firing of Black workers or their denial to travel or enter other public spaces.
But whatever else is true: since when is being unvaccinated a cause for prioritizing people when it comes to life-saving COVID treatments? In liberal discourse, treating the unvaccinated as immoral monsters has become common. But unlike liberal media outlets, the CDC cannot ignore the fact that vaccination rates are lower among Black people than other racial groups. They have to grapple with that fact. And they do so by denying the universal applicability of the vaccine and claiming '-- with no data cited '-- that the reason for this high rate of vaccine hesitancy or refusal among Black Americans is racism and structural inequities rather than agency and choice.
Thus does the CDC attribute vaccination disparities among racial groups to social and economic ''inequities.'' It is true that an inability to take off time from work may impede the ability to get vaccinated, but the Biden administration had made it a priority to ensure that vaccines are universally available in the U.S. Indeed, an extremely high percentage of adults 65 and older have received at least a first vaccine dose, demonstrating how widely available it is.
Moreover, the economic and work-related impediments to getting vaccinated are class-based factors, not race-based ones. Poverty and work conditions are more likely to impede an impoverished White person from getting vaccinated than an upper-class or upper-middle-class professional Black person. So disparities in vaccination rates cannot possibly justify prioritizing one racial group over another. If it is true that vaccination is a key metric for determining who is at risk of severe COVID illness, then vaccination status can '-- and should '-- be used to determine priority for monoclonal antibody and antiviral treatments, regardless of the race of the patient. Why should an unvaccinated Black, Hispanic or Asian patient be given priority to life-saving treatments over an unvaccinated White person?
And all of this is independent of the legal questions involved. Back in May, a federal appeals court struck down the Biden administration's racial preferences embedded in its COVID relief fund for small businesses, noting the unconstitutional irrationality and inequality of treating similarly situated citizens differently based on their race.
The key point to all of this is clear: race is irrelevant in these medical determinations. Regardless of why Black Americans are getting vaccinated at lower rates than other racial groups, the relevant risk factor is vaccination status, not race. Based on the CDC's premise that ''COVID-19 vaccination reduces the risk of COVID-19 and its potentially severe complications,'' then a vaccinated Black person, all other factors being equal (age and health), would be at less risk for severe COVID complications than an unvaccinated White person. So it makes absolutely no sense to prioritize racial groups for treatment access based on vaccination disparities among racial groups.
The same is true for every other factor cited by the CDC to explain racial disparities in COVID outcomes. The CDC states, for instance, that ''underlying medical conditions that increase risk for severe illness from COVID-19 may be more common among people from racial and ethnic minority groups.'' The examples the agency provides: ''common underlying conditions among those who require mechanical ventilation or died included diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, chronic kidney disease on dialysis, and congestive heart failure.'' It notes that ''a study in New York City found that non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic or Latino people had higher obesity rates and higher COVID-19 mortality rates compared with non-Hispanic Asian and non-Hispanic White people.''
Remote Antarctic station hit with Covid-19 outbreak '-- RT World News
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 16:51
The Belgian scientific base has reported a cluster of cases despite its staff being fully vaccinated
Researchers working at Belgium's Princess Elisabeth Polar Station in Antarctica have contracted Covid-19, even though all personnel have been inoculated and any new arrival has to follow rigorous safety protocols.
Two-thirds of the station's staff of 25 have been infected with the coronavirus, Belgium's polar secretariat confirmed to local media earlier this week. But how the virus could have reached the remote station, located some 220km (137 miles) from the Antarctic coast, remains a mystery.
''All those present have received two doses of vaccine, and one person has even received a booster shot,'' said Alain Hubert, the facility's executive operator and head of security measures. All staff members also have to undergo a series of PCR tests on their long journey to the station.
Those en route there take one PCR test in Belgium before leaving for South Africa and another five days after their arrival. They self-isolate for 10 days in Cape Town, then undergo two further tests: one before leaving for Antarctica and another five days after arriving at the station.
Nonetheless, even such strict control measures were apparently not stringent enough, as the first Covid-19 case was reported at the station in mid-December among a group of new arrivals. The person in question was immediately placed in isolation, but two others were soon revealed to have contracted the coronavirus as well.
All three infected researchers were evacuated on December 23, but this measure did not stop the virus from spreading further. A virologist contacted by the polar secretariat said the variant that has infected personnel at the station might be Omicron '' the highly transmissible strain recently discovered in South Africa.
There are two emergency doctors and all the necessary equipment at the station to treat anyone who falls ill, according to the media. In the meantime, the polar secretariat has placed all personnel under quarantine and put a halt to any new arrivals until the Covid-19 cluster there dissipates. Explorers venturing on two new expeditions had been expected on January 12, but their arrival has now been delayed.
France To Relaunch Construction Of Nuclear Reactors
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 16:14
Emmanuel Macron vowed that France would also continue to develop renewable energy. (File)
Paris: President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced France would launch a drive to build new nuclear energy plants in order to better meet growing energy and environmental challenges.
"To guarantee France's energy independence and achieve our objectives, in particular carbon neutrality in 2050, we will for the first time in decades relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors in our country," Macron said in an address to the nation.
Macron, speaking as the COP26 climate summit continues in Glasgow, vowed that France would also continue to develop renewable energy.
France, which derives the majority of its electricity from nuclear power, is currently building only one new third-generation EPR nuclear reactor Flamanville in Normandy.
But work on the site, which began in 2007, has still not been completed. French energy firm EDF this spring submitted a feasibility study to the government for a programme to build six new reactors.
"If we want to pay for our energy at reasonable rates and not depend on foreign countries, we must both continue to save energy and invest in the production of carbon-free energy on our soil," Macron said.
In a statement, Greenpeace France lashed out at Macron's announcement of more nuclear reactors, accusing him of electioneering ahead of April 2022 polls. Macron has not declared his candidacy but is widely expected to stand in next year's elections.
"Announcing a nuclear revival and the construction of new reactors as the nuclear industry is mired in fiascos is totally disconnected from reality," said Greenpeace France's energy transition campaigner Nicolas Nace, pointing to the delays at Flamanville.
"Too expensive, too slow and too dangerous, nuclear power is obsolete in a climate emergency," he added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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A Hostile Takeover of the FDIC - WSJ
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 11:30
Board members had always respected the agency's independence'--until now.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is led by a five-member board, which for decades has delegated day-to-day operations to its chairman, who by statute serves a five-year term. This structure was designed to ensure independence from changing political administrations and has led to a long legacy of collegiality. For 88 years the chairman has controlled the board agenda and worked collaboratively with other board members.
That all changed on Oct. 31, when board member Rohit Chopra presented me with a draft request for...
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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is led by a five-member board, which for decades has delegated day-to-day operations to its chairman, who by statute serves a five-year term. This structure was designed to ensure independence from changing political administrations and has led to a long legacy of collegiality. For 88 years the chairman has controlled the board agenda and worked collaboratively with other board members.
That all changed on Oct. 31, when board member Rohit Chopra presented me with a draft request for information on bank mergers. Two-and-a-half weeks earlier, Mr. Chopra had been sworn in as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position entitling him to a seat on the FDIC board.
The FDIC has long-established processes for working on policy documents, which are initially drafted by career staff with subject-matter expertise and decades of experience. That the CFPB director would serve the FDIC chairman with a finished document requesting public comment about the FDIC's merger review process and insist on its publication was unprecedented.
Moreover, whoever prepared the document presented by Mr. Chopra didn't understand the FDIC's merger-approval process particularly well. The FDIC staff reviewed the document and found it was filled with omissions, misrepresentations and technical inaccuracies.
In the spirit of collegiality, I expressed to board members my willingness to work with them on a document drafted by the FDIC staff that would better reflect the agency's historical approach and do so on an expedited basis to meet their desired timing.
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On Nov. 16, as I was about to board a flight to Switzerland for a meeting of international regulators, I informed board member Michael Hsu, acting comptroller of the currency, that the FDIC staff document would be available to board members no later than Dec. 6. Seventy-five minutes later, the directors sent a joint letter instructing FDIC staff to mark up their original document instead. Agency staff report to me as the CEO, and I have always ensured that board members have access to staff for discussions, briefings and technical expertise. The board members' letter was an attempt to seize control of the FDIC's staff while its chairman was on a nine-hour flight to Europe for official meetings.
At 5 p.m. on Nov. 26'--the day after Thanksgiving'--a deputy to Mr. Chopra sent an email from his CFPB account to the FDIC board distribution list, purporting to circulate a vote on the document Mr. Chopra prepared. This was a brazen attempt to seize control from the FDIC executive secretary, who alone is in charge of official board distributions. Board members were immediately notified by the FDIC's general counsel that the CFPB's communication didn't constitute a valid board distribution and therefore couldn't be recorded as official board action.
On Dec. 6, the FDIC staff produced a document to board members that was factual and neutral in tone, informed by the expertise of career staff'--a genuine effort to solicit public feedback without politicizing the agency or the process. It asked broad-based questions on the statutory factors that govern merger applications and whether the FDIC's existing approach is appropriate.
Within hours of receiving that document, board members responded by attempting to vote on the original CFPB document. Board member Martin Gruenberg,
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a former chairman, electronically signed his alleged vote on Dec. 3, three days before receiving the FDIC document for review. When board members were informed that their actions didn't constitute a valid vote, Messrs. Chopra and Gruenberg posted their document on the CFPB's website and claimed it was an official FDIC issuance.
Of the 20 chairmen who preceded me at the FDIC, nine faced a majority of the board members from the opposing party, including Mr. Gruenberg as chairman under President Trump until I replaced him as chairman in 2018. Never before has a majority of the board attempted to circumvent the chairman to pursue their own agenda.
This conflict isn't about bank mergers. If it were, board members would have been willing to work with me and the FDIC staff rather than attempt a hostile takeover of the FDIC internal processes, staff and board agenda.
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This episode is an attempt to wrest control from an independent agency's chairman with a change in the administration. More than that, it's an example of the erosion of America's democracy. Many government institutions are built on norms and practices that encourage parties to work together. This foundation depends on agency leaders who recognize that the long-term benefits of cooperation outweigh the short-term incentive to blow up institutions in pursuit of immediate partisan gains. Since the FDIC's founding in 1933, all 72 board members have respected that foundation. Until now.
When I arrived in the U.S. from Yugoslavia alone on my 18th birthday, I had $500 in my pocket. I came to this country with a firm belief in a system of government built upon the rule of law. In the old country, those in power all too often changed the rules and circumvented protocols to enact their preferred policies. When I was sworn in as chairman, I promised myself that I would lead the FDIC with deliberation and due care.
The FDIC's core mission to protect depositors resonates with me. My family's meager savings disappeared overnight when a local bank collapsed at the onset of Yugoslavia's civil war. Yugoslavia didn't have deposit insurance. At 68, my father went to work as a laborer earning $5 a day. You don't need that kind of firsthand experience to understand why stability at the FDIC is paramount for our nation.
I will continue to manage the agency pursuant to the oath I took. And my door is always open to those willing to engage in a manner that befits the venerated institution we are privileged to serve.
Ms. McWilliams has been chairman of the FDIC since 2018.
FDIC's GOP chair to resign after partisan brawl
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 11:29
FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams' impending exit opens up another key position for President Joe Biden to fill. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Jelena McWilliams on Friday unexpectedly submitted her resignation after the Trump appointee faced partisan strife at the bank regulator, in a move that will give Democrats control of the agency in the coming weeks.
Her departure, effective Feb. 4, means that FDIC board member Martin Gruenberg will become acting chair '-- his third stint atop the 88-year-old independent agency that insures trillions of dollars in deposits at the nation's banks. It followed an attempt by Gruenberg and other Democrats on the agency's board to wrest control from McWilliams, whose term was not scheduled to end until June 2023.
AdvertisementEarlier this month, the Democratic majority on the FDIC's board voted to take public feedback on potential changes to the agency's bank merger approval process. McWilliams did not participate in the vote, and the FDIC in an official statement said the action was not valid. A legal debate ensued over whether a majority of the board can put items up for a vote without the consent of the chair, with Democrats maintaining they had clear authority.
At a Dec. 14 board meeting, McWilliams rejected a bid by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra '-- an FDIC board member and ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) '-- to add a record of the vote to the FDIC's official minutes.
Later, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, McWilliams referred to the episode as a ''hostile takeover.'' But she made no mention of the saga in her resignation letter to President Joe Biden on Friday.
''When I immigrated to this country 30 years ago, I did so with a firm belief in the American system of government,'' said McWilliams, who was born in former Yugoslavia, in her letter to Biden. ''During my tenure at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the United States Senate and the FDIC, I have developed a deep appreciation for these venerable institutions and their traditions. It has been a tremendous honor to serve this nation, and I did not take a single day for granted.''
AdvertisementHer impending exit opens up another key position for Biden to fill, and it means none of the three federal banking agencies will have a Senate-confirmed official serving in their top regulatory job. The president is expected to soon tap a vice chair of supervision at the Federal Reserve, while his pick for comptroller of the currency recently withdrew after facing opposition from moderate Democrats.
For now, Gruenberg, who has been serving at the FDIC on an expired term for three years, gets to retake the gavel. The Obama-era chair of the agency took the unusual step of staying on as a board member after his leadership role ended and then dissented regularly against actions by McWilliams to loosen rules on banks of all sizes. McWilliams' departure could lead to the reversal of some of those moves. Gruenberg first joined the FDIC's board in 2005, after serving as an aide to former Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.).
FDIC board member Martin Gruenberg will become acting chair.
The FDIC in the coming months will have to grapple with how respond to the rise of financial technology startups and innovations that are rattling traditional banking. McWilliams has said the agency is considering whether some stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency pegged to an underlying asset, should be covered by deposit insurance if they're tied to the dollar.
Gruenberg is also expected to be more aggressive in pushing banks to prepare for risks posed by climate change, an area where the outgoing chairman has hesitantly engaged. McWilliams abstained from a vote at the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a Treasury Department-led panel of regulatory chiefs, on a report that called climate change an emerging risk to the financial system, saying the document's conclusions warranted more research.
AdvertisementSome governance questions remain unresolved at the agency, such as whether future FDIC boards will be able to use a majority vote to overrule the chairman. House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has asked McWilliams to provide the legal basis behind senior officials' argument that only she could schedule a vote. The FDIC has not yet publicly presented its rationale.
Before becoming FDIC chairman in 2018, McWilliams spent years as a top aide to Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), including during Shelby's chairmanship at the Banking Committee. Before being nominated to head the FDIC, she worked for a brief stint as the chief legal officer at Fifth Third Bank.
In a short interview Friday evening, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon described her as ''a complete, capable, competent class act.'' His bank, the largest in the U.S., is primarily regulated by other agencies but overseen by the FDIC because it has deposit insurance.
''I don't think she pandered to big banks or little banks,'' he said. ''I think she tried to do her job, and she did it quite well,'' he added, citing her work that made it easier for banks to hire workers with minor criminal records.
The clash between McWilliams and Democrats at the FDIC has further inflamed partisan tensions over the usually low-key agency. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), an ally of McWilliams, blasted the White House for supporting the move by the FDIC Democrats to bypass the GOP chairman.
''I am deeply troubled to see the administration support this extremist destruction of institutional norms and unprecedented action to undermine the independence and integrity of our financial regulators,'' Toomey said in a statement Friday. ''President Biden should move swiftly to fill the two vacant board seats and Interim Director Gruenberg's seat with qualified individuals who will respect the FDIC's tradition of operating free from partisan political interference.''
Progressive activists celebrated McWilliams' exit as a victory. The Open Markets Institute, an anti-monopoly group, said on Twitter Friday that "this welcome news means the FDIC board can get to work mitigating the risks of Too Big to Fail.''
Fish fall from the sky during rain in east Texas, city reacts
Fri, 31 Dec 2021 22:05
As if 2021 hasn't been quite a year already, now there are fish falling from the sky in east Texas.
Several residents in Texarkana posted pictures and videos to social media Wednesday after finding fish scattered in some unlikely places including their lawns and sidewalks.
"2021 is pulling out all the tricks'... including raining fish in Texarkana today," said the City of Texarkana. "And no, this isn't a joke."
According to the city, this phenomenon is referred to as "animal rain" and occurs when small water animals are swept up in waterspouts or drafts that occur on the surface of the earth.
Animals like frogs, crabs, and small fish are then rained down when the forecast calls for showers.
"While it's uncommon, it happens, as evidenced in several places in Texarkana today," said the city. "And please, for the sake of everyone, let's tiptoe into 2022 as quietly as possible."
Copyright 2021 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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What is the historical origin of the phrase 'the scales have fallen from my eyes'? - Quora
Fri, 31 Dec 2021 20:46
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The Freedom of Value - How Value-for-Value Fixes the Monetization of Information | dergigi.com
Fri, 31 Dec 2021 18:14
The internet has a problem. Few people know that this problem exists, but hey, that's the nature of serious, non-obvious problems: they are invisible until they aren't. The problem with the internet is that information wants to be free. And if something wants to be free as in freedom, given enough time, it will also be free as in beer.
Let me explain.
Poisoning the AirWe consume untold amounts of data every day. Every second of every minute, bits and bytes are streaming through the series of tubes that we all know and love: the internet. We take it for granted, and most of us take the current monetization model - as well as all the ills that come along with it - for granted as well. We seldom stop and think about the strange world of bits and bytes. How wonderful it all is, but also how alien. How it already has transformed our lives, and how it will continue to transform our future. Where do the zeroes and ones come from? What makes it all work? And, most importantly: who is paying for it?
The bits and bytes that are zipping through our fiber-optic cables are as invisible as the air we breathe. That's not a terrible metaphor, now that I think of it. As long as we have no trouble breathing, we don't need to stop and inspect every single molecule we inhale. Similarly, as long as we don't have too much trouble creating and consuming digital content, we don't need to stop and inspect all the various parts that make our attention economy work.
Attention economy. What a fitting description. As we should all know by now, the stuff we consume isn't free; we are paying dearly for it: with our attention, among other things.
Paying AttentionIn the high-velocity world of today, to maximize profits, you have to maximize attention. But it is a peculiar, shallow kind of attention. It is not the focused kind of attention that deep thought and meaningful conversations would require. I believe that this is, at least in part, why many things are so broken. Why our societal discourse is so fragmented, our politics so polarized, we so paralyzed, and our analysis often as shallow as our desires.
The attention economy has us neatly segregated into echo chambers of personal truths. Ironically, the only truth worth pursuing in the attention economy is how to keep the maximum amount of people maximally outraged for the maximum amount of time. All while keeping participants unaware that they are trapped in an algorithmic prison of their own choosing.
You Are The ProductThe idiom "if something is free, you are the product" can't be repeated often enough. For one reason or another, we expect most things to be "free" online. Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch. In the case of online services, your data is harvested and sold to the highest bidder, which is usually an advertisement- or government agency. Or both.
Not only do all big data companies spy on you, but they will also use a multitude of dark patterns and unethical practices to squeeze out every last drop of data from your interactions. Whether it is the Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, or something else doesn't matter. You are being tracked, surveilled, and cataloged. What you see, for how long, at what times, how frequently, and what you'll see next is carefully orchestrated by a profit-maximizing algorithm. Profit for the platform, not for you.
Of course, the idea is usually that everyone profits: users, creators, advertisers, and the platforms alike. However, the evolutionary environment that is set up by said incentive structures will often select for shallow, attention-grabbing, and sensationalist snippets. As of this writing - block 716,025 - the epitome of such an environment is TikTok, a video-based dopamine machine that will show you the motion picture equivalent of heroin mixed with crack cocaine. Hard drugs for the mind, custom-tailored to your particular likings. A truly cursed app. Unfortunately, most platforms of this nature are just different in degree, not in kind.
Allowed Opinion"It isn't so bad," we say to ourselves. "Look at all the useful information!" we exclaim as we scroll through our feeds, inadvertently feeding the machine that is feeding us dopamine hits in return.
But make no mistake: the companies in charge are not in the business of feeding us useful (or truthful) information. They are in the business of tricking us into feeding the machine.
How could it be otherwise? You are what you track, and you become what you optimize for. From the platform's perspective, this is clicks, not quality. At first, maximizing clicks and watch time might be an innocuous thing. After all, you have to make money to survive. It's just one ad. How bad can it get?
Unfortunately, the problems that come with it all are invisible at first. Just like cancer is invisible to the smoker who just smoked his first cigarette and liver cirrhosis is invisible to the drinker who just had his first drink, deplatforming, censorship, polarization, and manipulation of public opinion are invisible to the prosumer who just saw his first ad in a walled-garden ecosystem. We can probably agree that we are past the first inning when it comes to these issues. Censorship is the norm, deplatforming is cheered on, polarization is at an all-time high, and public opinion is manipulated manually and algorithmically like never before.
The consensus is that you are too stupid to know what is good for you and your public opinion is too outrageous to be voiced publicly. Even worse, it shouldn't be your opinion in the first place. "Here is why you're wrong. Here is a source pointing to an allowed opinion. Here are some experts that agree with us. Our smart and helpful algorithms did all the thinking for you and they are never wrong. Neither are the experts."
This is the world we are already living in. You are not allowed to speak freely. You are not allowed to think freely. You are not allowed to express yourself freely. Your picture is offensive; thus, it has to be removed. Your meme is too close to the truth or too criminally funny; thus, we have to put you in Twitter jail for a week or two. You are saying something that we don't agree with; thus, we have to ban you for life - even if you are a sitting president, mind you. You have said the wrong word in a video or played a copyrighted song in the background; thus, we have to take away your income. You have posted a picture of yourself without a mask; thus, we'll have to ban you and report you to the authorities.1
The fact that the sentence above is not purely in the realm of dystopian science fiction anymore should have everyone worried. Removed from cyberspace for wanting to breathe free. Strange times.
Evolutionary PressureHow did it come to this? If I were forced to give a short answer, I would give the following: We moved from protocols to platforms, and platforms are only as good as their incentives.
The incentive structure of the platforms we inhabit is the evolutionary environment that dictates survival. Everything that wants to survive has to align with it.
Of course, this is true in all areas of business. Pick print magazines, for example. For very human evolutionary reasons, if your magazine doesn't sport a beautiful female face on the front cover, it won't be bought as much as those who do. Thus, it won't be able to replicate itself and, consequently, will die. Similarly, if your online news outlet does not generate enough ad revenue, it will fail to replicate and die. This is why every magazine has a beautiful female face on the cover. And this is why every ad-based online news outlet devolves into clickbait.
One of these faces is not like the others.Similarly, this is why feed-based recommendation engines devolve into slot machines for your dopamine receptors. The longer you stay glued to your screen, the more ads you will see, the more revenue will be generated for the platform. This is also why most YouTube channels devolve into 7-15 minute snippets with thumbnails that portray the face of someone who just stepped on a piece of Legos. Short enough to convince you to watch it, long enough to make you forget what video you wanted to watch in the first place. Like rats pushing buttons in hyper-personalized Skinner boxes, we are conditioned into addiction cycles to maximize shareholder profits.
Maximizing ProfitsPlatforms are companies, and companies are incentivized to maximize shareholder profits. There is nothing wrong with profits, and there is nothing wrong with shareholders. However, I believe that the information revolution we find ourselves in has split the evolutionary landscape into two. Let's call these landscapes "broad" and "narrow."
To maximize profits via broad advertisements, controversies and extreme opinions have to be minimized. Thus, just by catering to the lowest common denominator, politics and censorship immediately enter the picture. Conversely, if profits are made via narrow, targeted advertisements, controversies and extreme opinions have to be maximized. Thus, just by showing different pieces of information to different sub-groups, polarization and fragmentation are continually increased.
Mainstream Cohesion vs. Algorithmic Division.These two extremes are two sides of the same coin. It might seem like it is Cable TV vs. the algorithmic news feed, but it actually is two different approaches pursuing the same goal: to keep as many people glued to the screen, so they watch more advertisements. The first is a sedative, the second a stimulant.
Granted, the above characterization might be an exaggeration, but the problem remains: if we aren't paying for something directly, we will be paying for it indirectly, one way or another. Always.
The point is the following: free speech platforms can not exist. Only free speech protocols can exist. If someone can control what is being said, someone will control what is being said. If you can monitor, filter, and censor content, you will monitor, filter, and censor content.
All platforms will run into this problem, no matter how pristine their intentions. Even if you position yourself as a free speech platform at first, you will be forced to step in and censor in the long run. After all, if you can be squashed by the state for content you host or transmit, you will be squashed by the state for content you host or transmit.
Self-CensorshipHowever, long before state censorship will rear its ugly head, the chilling effect of self-censorship will be felt. If others are deplatformed and demonetized for voicing certain opinions, most people will be very careful to voice said opinions. Consciously and subconsciously, we slowly silence ourselves.
When it comes to self-censorship, advertisements have a role to play too.
After all, you wouldn't bite the hand that feeds you, would you? In the worst case, advertisers and executives will tell you what can be said and what is off-limits. They will tell you what opinions are inside the Overton window and which ones are outside of it. And if they don't, you will make an educated guess and adjust what you say accordingly.
A Problem and a ParadoxBack to the original problem: why can't we sell information like a regular good? Why does the simplistic approach - putting content behind a paywall - produce such bad results? I believe there are two reasons, which I will call the "MTX problem" and the "DRM paradox."
The MTX problem, with MTX being short for "mental transaction," refers to the problem of irreducible mental transaction costs inherent to every transaction. Every time you hit a paywall, you have to make a conscious decision: "Do I want to pay for that?"
As Szabo convincingly argues, most of the time, especially if the cost is tiny, the answer will be no. This is not for any technical reason but for psychological reasons. It turns out that the hassle of figuring out whether this transaction is worth it or not - a process that is happening in your head - is simply too much. If you have to think about a micro-purchase, the chance that you will make said purchase diminishes drastically. This is why flat rates and subscriptions are king: you only have to think about them once.
For the smallest of micro-transactions, this is even true from a strictly economic standpoint. Using an hourly wage of $20 USD, thinking, "Is this worth 21 sats?" for two seconds will cost you a little over 1, which is more than the price of the microtransaction in question.2 It is unfeasible, both psychologically and economically. This, in a nutshell, is the MTX problem.
But this isn't the only thing that is plaguing the monetization of digital content. As mentioned above, there is also the DRM paradox.
DRM, short for "digital rights management," is a futile effort that tries to prevent information from being copied. It should go without saying that non-copyable information is an oxymoron, but, alas, in the age of NFTs and plenty of other nonsense, I'm afraid this needs to be spelled out explicitly. So, let me spell it out for you: You can not create information that can't be copied. Period. Or, in the words of Bruce Schneier: "trying to make digital files uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet."
The nature of information is such that if it can be read, it can also be copied - with perfect fidelity. No amount of trickery or artificial restrictions will change this fact. This is why digital artifacts such as movies and music will always be available for free. It is trivial for someone who has access to said artifacts to copy said artifact - at near-zero marginal cost, mind you - and make it accessible to others. Thus, given enough time and popularity, every movie, every song, and every document will be available to the general public for free. The nature of information does not allow for another outcome. Hence the saying: information wants to be free.
Although trying to create something that can't exist - information that can't be copied - is paradoxical in itself, this isn't what I mean by the DRM paradox. What I mean is something more hilarious. It is again psychological, not technical in nature. The paradox is this: content will only stay behind a paywall if it is shitty. If it's good, someone will set it free.
We all know this. If an article is actually worth reading, someone who is behind the paywall will screenshot it and post it to social media. If the movie is worth watching, it will be available on various websites that have pirate ships as their logos. If the song is worth listening to, it will be available on streaming sites for free. It is only the terrible articles, the most obscure movies, and the songs that make your ears bleed that stay locked behind paywalls. Hence, the paradox: content will only stay locked behind paywalls if it sucks. If it's good, it will be set free.
Personally, I believe that the MTX problem is a bigger deal than the DRM paradox. The traditional solution to the MTX problem is the subscription model, la Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, and so on. The DRM paradox still remains, but it turns out that this is not an issue if you make the "legitimate" access to information convenient enough.
The opportunity cost of downloading, storing, maintaining, and curating a private collection of songs is simply too high for most people. The more convenient solution is to pay for the damn Spotify subscription.
That being said, we can already see one of the problems inherent in the subscription model. The following comic describes it well:
Comic by /u/Hoppy_DoodleThe proliferation of streaming platforms forces you to get a Netflix subscription, an Amazon Prime subscription, a Hulu subscription, a Disney Plus subscription, a YouTube Premium subscription, and so on. And that was just streaming video. The same subscription zoo exists for music, books, games, newsletters, blog posts, etc.
So, what is the solution?
Accept the Nature of InformationThe solution begins with acceptance. Selling digital content in the traditional, transactional way doesn't work, or at least doesn't work very well. A transaction involving a digital photograph of an apple is very different than a transaction involving a physical apple.
George Bernard Shaw said it best: "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
Because digital information behaves like an idea, there is no reason to make it artificially scarce. This is not only true philosophically, but technically, too. Computers are copying machines. Always have been, always will be. The only way to move information from one machine to another is to copy it. This alone should make the futility of treating information as physical objects blatantly obvious.
When it comes to monetizing information on the open web, we have to align our ways of thinking with the nature of information. As outlined above, information is non-scarce, easily copied, easily modified, and wants to be free.
I believe that the right monetization model has to respect these values and needs to have similar properties. It has to be open, transparent, extensible, and, last but not least, completely voluntary.
This model has a name: value-for-value.
Revivifying BuskingThe idea is simple but sounds radical: you provide your content for free, for everyone, without access restrictions. If people enjoy it, if people get value out of it, you make it easy for people to give value back.
It might sound outrageous in this day and age, but this model has worked for thousands of years. It is the model of street performers, the model of buskers, the model of voluntary giving. However, in cyberspace, we don't run into the physical limitations of traditional busking. Digital content scales in ways that performances in meatspace never will.
The value-for-value model flips the traditional payment model on its head. Traditionally, enjoyment follows payment. In the value-for-value approach, payment follows enjoyment - voluntarily.
You are free to listen to the street musician and walk on, but - and this is something that the audience intuitively knows - if you want the music to continue, you should throw a couple of coins into the hat.
One beautiful thing about this model is that it re-aligns incentives. You are not trying to maximize clicks, or view time, or any other of the countless metrics. You will want to provide value for your audience, and that's it. And if your audience got value out of it, a certain percentage will give back. All you have to do is ask.
A Valuable AlternativeWe are at the very beginning of this monumental shift. My hope is that the value-for-value model will continue to emerge as a viable alternative'--an alternative to advertisements, censorship, deplatforming, and demonetization.
The value-for-value model removes the "they" from the equation. They filter, they censor, they demonetize, they deplatform. It doesn't even matter who "they" are. If a "they" exists, they will find a way to fuck it up.
Value-for-value removes "they," and puts you in charge. You are the ruler in the kingdom of one, solely responsible for your thoughts and your speech. If we want to have liberation (and salvation) in cyberspace, we need to put the individual in charge once more. As always, freedom and independence require responsibility.
In the best of all worlds, creators are incentivized to do nothing but create. Catering only to themselves and those who are interested in their creations. No intermediaries. Directly, person-to-person, value-for-value.
What Lies AheadGranted, as of today, it isn't exactly easy to self-host your infrastructure. It is intimidating to run your own node in order to receive payments in a self-sovereign manner. But, not only will it get easier, increasingly, it will be necessary.
In addition to making it all easier, we need to be cognisant of the MTX problem outlined above. Every step that manages to reduce the mental transaction costs in the value-for-value ecosystem is a step in the right direction.
The value capability of Podcasting 2.0 is such a step. It enables and automates payments by the minute, without any additional interaction required by the user. Once you are set up, your wallet will make payments automatically.
I believe that further iterations of this idea can be integrated into all media types, whether it be audio, video, images, the written word, and so on. I believe that we are close to the protocol version of Patreon: all the benefits of reducing the mental transaction costs to zero, without the friction and the censorship inherent in a platform-based solution. Whether it will come in the form of BOLT12 recurring payments or something else entirely is yet to be seen. I am confident, however, that it will come in time.
ConclusionNot only is our fiat money broken, but the monetization model of the internet is broken too. The advertisement-based platforms of this day and age optimize for engagement via division and polarization, using dark patterns and addiction by design. It won't be easy to break out of the compulsion loops that are set up for us, but thanks to the self-sovereign tech stack that is currently emerging, there is a viable alternative: the value-for-value model.
The "busking" monetization model has worked for many centuries in the past, and thanks to Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, I am confident that it will work for centuries into the future. We are almost there. We just need to figure out how to position the hat correctly on the ground and where the best places in town are to perform, so to speak.
Value-for-value does away with the DRM paradox in its entirety and - with the right amount of automation and sensible defaults - will solve the MTX problem too. If we get this right, we might be able to free ourselves from the evolutionary survival-of-the-richest environment of platforms, allowing ourselves to step into the quasi-immortal realm of protocols.
There is much to be explored, many tools to be built, and plenty of pre-conceived notions to be shattered. There is a seismic shift happening right in front of our eyes, and I'm looking forward to riding the waves with all of you. Onwards!
Further ResourcesPodcast Index and Podcasting 2.0How to get started: value4value.ioFurther ReadingMicropayments and Mental Transaction Costs by Nick SzaboThe Mental Accounting Barrier to Micropayments by Nick SzaboHow Social Media Hacks Our Brains by the Center for Humane TechnologyCompulsion Loop, WikipediaDRM - Defective by Design by the Free Software FoundationAddiction by Design by Natasha Dow Sch¼llOriginal cover image cc-by-sa Gonzalez85.
🧠· Found this valuable? Consider giving value back, supporting me, sharing it, translating it, or leaving a note via its lightning address 'š busking@ts.dergigi.com.
Biden and Putin speak as tensions mount over Ukraine
Fri, 31 Dec 2021 14:42
President Joe Biden speaking to Vladimir Putin from the White House, Dec. 30, 2021.
Source: White House Photo
WASHINGTON '' President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Thursday as tensions rise over a significant military buildup on the Ukrainian border.
The call began at 3:35 p.m. ET and lasted 50 minutes, the White House said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden urged Putin to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine and that his administration was prepared to "respond decisively" alongside allies and partners if Russia further invades Ukraine.
A senior administration official, who declined to be named in order to discuss details of the call, said that the tone of the conversation was "serious and substantive."
"Both leaders acknowledged that there were likely to be areas where we could make meaningful progress as well as areas where agreements may be impossible," the official said, adding that the upcoming Jan. 10 security talks will build upon Biden and Putin's Thursday discussion.
Ahead of those talks, the senior administration official said that the United States and European allies will continue to watch developments in Ukraine.
"We're going to continue to monitor very closely the movement and build-up of Russian forces on the Ukraine border and prepare ourselves for whatever decision ultimately is made by the Russian president," the official said.
A Putin aide told reporters in Moscow that both leaders congratulated each other on the holidays and mutually wished success to the Russian and American people.
The aide described the conversation between Putin and Biden as "frank, informative and specific in nature."
"Putin outlined in detail the basic principles laid down by Russia in the security proposals and emphasized that we will seek to ensure Russia's security. In principle, the U.S. president agreed with this point of view," explained Yury Ushakov, according to an NBC News translation.
"Biden clearly stated that the United States does not intend to deploy offensive strike weapons in Ukraine. And Putin noted that this is one of the key points for us," Ushakov added.
The call, the second known discussion between the two leaders this month, was scheduled at Putin's request. The Russian president has previously insisted that despite a massive deployment of thousands of troops along Ukraine's border, Moscow is not preparing for an invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor.
But Putin has laid out conditions for nonaggression: He has promised that Russian troops will not attack Ukraine if Kyiv's ongoing bid to join NATO is denied. Russia has described NATO's eastward expansion as a "red line" that poses security threats to Moscow.
Since 2002, Ukraine has sought entry into the world's most powerful military alliance, where the group's Article 5 clause states that an attack on one member country is considered an attack on all of them.
During a prior call earlier this month, Biden did not accept Putin's "red line" and instead warned that Washington and European allies were prepared to impose a web of economic and political countermeasures if Ukraine's sovereign borders were breached.
U.S. President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin amid Western fears that Moscow plans to attack Ukraine, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens with other officials during a secure video call from the Situation Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2021.
The White House via Reuters
"We are prepared for diplomacy and for a diplomatic path forward, but we are also prepared to respond if Russia advances with a further invasion of Ukraine," a senior Biden administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to share details ahead of the call, said Wednesday.
"We have coordinated with our allies to impose severe sanctions on the Russian economy and financial system far beyond what was implemented in 2014," the official said, referring to Moscow's 2014 invasion of Crimea.
For months, Ukraine has warned the United States and European allies that thousands of Russian troops were massing along its eastern border. The buildup has evoked shades of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, which sparked an international uproar and triggered a series of sanctions on Moscow.
Simon Miles, an assistant professor at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, described Biden and Putin's discussions as productive but that a solution would need to involve the Ukrainian government.
"Today's phone call between presidents Biden and Putin comes at a critical point in European security. Russian troops are on Ukraine's border in significant numbers, and in a configuration which has analysts rightly worried about offensive military action," wrote Miles, an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union.
"But one thing is clear: This is a crisis of the Kremlin's making," Miles said, adding, "What Putin's endgame is remains unclear."
Earlier this month, Ukraine's foreign minister told CNBC that Russia was in a position to quickly invade if Putin decided to carry out such an operation.
"Putin has not decided yet whether to do a military operation," Dmytro Kuleba told CNBC. "But if he decides to do so, things will happen in the blink of an eye."
The mystery of Maxwell's millions: Socialite claimed she had 'just' £2.6m to her name | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 30 Dec 2021 22:50
Ghislaine Maxwell claimed to be worth just £2.6million at the time of her arrest despite buying and selling £16million of mansions since 2015 and having £22million wired to her by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to fund her lavish lifestyle.
The 60-year-old 'favourite' daughter of disgraced media mogul Robert Maxwell, who was a billionaire at the height of his wealth, also reportedly transferred £15million to her husband Scott Borgerson after they secretly married in a move that could protect the majority of her wealth from being claimed by victims.
Fresh details of the British socialite's financial assets can be revealed after she was convicted in a US court of helping to entice vulnerable teenagers to Epstein's homes for him to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.
She is now facing 65 years behind bars in a federal prison - prompting speculation she could now 'flip' and discuss the actions of others within Epstein's circle in a bid to receive a lighter sentence.
Forensic accountants believe Maxwell had a net worth of £15million ($20.2million) in 2015 - but she claimed this was down to just £2.6million by the time she was arrested in 2020.
Mysterious transactions between Epstein, Maxwell and offshore funds as well as buying and selling homes using private companies have made it impossible for the FBI to fully gauge exactly how much cash and assets the now convicted child sex trafficker has.
Her life of opulence as Jeffrey Epstein's 'second-in-command' was laid bare in court where jurors in the 60-year-old British socialite's trial were shown never-before-seen photographs of paedophile Epstein's £60million fleet of jets, which he used to shuttle Maxwell and teenage girls between his lavish homes.
But Ghislaine Maxwell insisted her wealth had evaporated, forcing her to sell the London home where Prince Andrew allegedly had sex with his accuser to a property developer for £1.75 million in August. It is said to be where the Duke of York was photographed with his arm around the bare waist of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, one of convicted paedophile Epstein's victims, now known as Virginia Giuffre.
Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts to introduce Epstein, a gardener's son, to society. In return, she used the financier's millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a new home for her in Manhattan. He also transferred £22million [$30.7million] to her over a period of eight years, her trial heard.
And five years ago she sold her US home in New York's Upper East Side for £11.3million. In the same year she bought a £2million mansion with her husband Scott Borgerson in the resort of Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts, and in 2019 she allegedly bought a New Hampshire ranch called 'Tuckedaway' with Mr Borgerson, where she was eventually arrested by the FBI.
Maxwell is reported to have bought the house in cash in but those involved in the transaction claim not to have interacted with her, according to the Daily Beast, with the suggestion being she used one of a number of her aliases.
Justice finally caught up with Ghislaine Maxwell at this 156-acre ranch in New Hampshire called Tuckedaway, which she reportedly bought in secret using one of her aliases before her arrest in 2020
The British socialite's mews house in Belgravia was bought by a property developer for £1.75 million in August to pay for her legal bills
The property is said to be where the Duke of York was photographed with his arm around the bare waist of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts. In the background, Ghislaine Maxwell
Ghislaine Maxwell sold her house on the Upper East Side of NYC (left). She disposed of the five-storey, 7,000-square-foot townhouse banking $15million. Maxwell also reportedly transferred £15million to her husband Scott Borgerson (right) after they married in a move that could protect the majority of her wealth from being claimed by alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein
The British socialite also hid at a $3 million mansion (pictured), which is surrounded by trees and at the end of a long private road in Manchester By The Sea
Maxwell was a long-time consort of Jeffrey Epstein (pictured together in 2005) and a procurer of victims in his underage sex trafficking ring
Andrew's lawyers hold 'emergency talks' over Maxwell verdict as experts warn socialite's conviction will raise questions over how much prince knew about his friend's 'debauched behaviour' Prince Andrew's US lawyers have reportedly held emergency talks after Ghislaine Maxwell's convictions for child sex trafficking as experts told MailOnline the guilty verdicts are 'not good news' for the Duke of York whose future as a frontline royal is now looking increasingly 'bleak'.
Lawyers in the US believe the ninth in line to the British throne should now be 'quaking in his boots' as his old friend faces spending the rest of her life behind bars unless she flips and 'names names'.
Experts also believe that the Duke of York's chances of defeating the legal action brought against him by Virginia Roberts Giuffre will now be even harder after Maxwell was found guilty by a New York jury yesterday.
The 60-year-old British socialite was labelled a 'dangerous' predator as she was convicted of helping to entice vulnerable teenagers to Jeffrey Epstein's homes for him to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.
Miss Maxwell, a friend of Andrew's for many years who decided not to give evidence at her trial, could now try to cut a deal to reduce a sentence that would see her die in prison.
Andrew's lawyers spoke after yesterday's verdicts to discuss the fallout - but also believe the decision not to call Mrs Giuffre as a witness was 'disastrous' for her credibility, the Mirror has claimed, describing them as emergency talks.
Today royal experts have said the Duke of York's reputation is now 'a busted flush' because of his friendship with billionaire paedophile Epstein and now-convicted sex trafficker Maxwell.
The socialite handed most of her assets into a trust controlled by Scott Borgerson after they secretly married in 2016, according to documents filed at a New York court.
The lawyers said Maxwell and Scott Borgerson, with whom she has been living for the past four years, were offering a $22.5million personal recognizance bond secured by about $8million in property and $500,000 in cash.
They said $22.5million represents all of Maxwell and Borgerson's assets - which were broken down in a chart included in the court papers requesting the staggering bail package that dwarfs other high profile criminals such as Harvey Weinstein.
Borgerson - a 44-year-old tech CEO whose name was redacted in the papers - pleaded for his wife's release in a letter to the court, writing: 'The person described in the criminal charges is not the person we know.
'I have never witnessed anything inappropriate with Ghislaine; quite the contrary, the Ghislaine I know is a wonderful and loving person.'
Jeffrey Epstein transferred £22million [$30.7million] to Ghislaine Maxwell over a period of eight years, the jury heard.
Prosecutors brought into evidence bank statements from JP Morgan which showed transfers worth $30.7million from Epstein or companies he controlled to Maxwell between 1999 and 2007.
Taking the stand on the sixth day of Maxwell's trial, JPMorgan Chase Executive Director Patrick McHugh broke down the transactions between the late financier and his madam.
A bank statement from August 1999 showed the Financial Trust Company, a company Epstein controlled, selling $18.3million of shares which were transferred the same day into a bank account owned by Maxwell.
The reason for the transfer was unclear, but in October 2000 Maxwell paid $4.9million for a townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
A statement from September 2002 for an account Epstein owned with JP Morgan showed a sale of $5million of shares which were transferred to a Maxwell bank account at a bank in Palm Beach.
The last transfer was in June 2007 and showed a bank account Epstein owned transferring $7.6million to Maxwell.
The same day she transferred it to a company called Air Ghislaine, which the documents showed she controlled.
The same day Maxwell wired the money to aircraft maker Sikorsky and the reference on the transfer said it was for the purchase of a S76C green helicopter and 'down payment on executive finish.'
Maxwell imposed a 'culture of silence... by design' at Epstein's properties, where staff were told to 'see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing'.
While the 'horrific abuse' was going on, the jury was told how the defendant lived a 'life of luxury' - with the prosecution describing the trafficking as a 'means to support her lifestyle'.
With the fortune he made from his financial dealings, Epstein and Maxwell lived a life of luxury jetting around the world and living at the millionaire's many properties around the world while bragging about being friends with high-profile figures, including former US president Donald Trump.
Maxwell's friends also included royalty. She had known the Duke of York since her days at university and introduced Andrew to Epstein.
The travel was arranged by an array of personal assistants, including Sarah Kellen, with several pictures of her shown to the jury.
One showed a young Miss Kellen standing in front of a twin-engine Cessna 421 with Epstein embracing her from behind and kissing her head. More recent pictures showed her smiling for the camera in the Caribbean.
Epstein's chief pilot Larry Visoski told the court in New York: '[Epstein] had an array of personal assistants, almost like professional shoppers, because there was a lot of items that needed to be purchased for all of the properties that were being acquired.'
He named Miss Kellen, now 42, as the person he spoke to most about scheduling flights. The court heard the pair spoke so often, the pilot had her number on speed dial.
Miss Kellen has previously been described as Maxwell's 'lieutenant' in Epstein's circle of abuse and has been accused of playing a pivotal role in the scandal, helping to procure young girls.
She has been named as the chief fixer who travelled the world with Epstein and was accused by lawyers in legal filings of 'bringing girls to Epstein's mansion to be abused'.
Miss Kellen was said to have had a 'Rolodex' of women she would call for massages at Epstein's mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
Jurors in the 59-year-old Ghislaine Maxwell's trial were shown never-before-seen photographs of paedophile Epstein's (pictured with his Gulfstream G2B) £60 million fleet of jets
Prosecutors allege the planes flew between his private Caribbean island (pictured), New Mexico ranch, New York City house and a Parisian apartment near the Arc de Triomphe
Epstein's chief pilot Larry Visoski named Miss Kellen, now 42, as the person he spoke to most about scheduling flights. Pictured: Epstein's Boeing 727, dubbed the 'Lolita Express'
Epstein had a Hawker Siddeley 125, a Gulfstream G2B and a Boeing 727 dubbed the 'Lolita Express' (interior pictured) amid claims he used it to fly underage girls around the world
Epstein started his £60 million fleet of jets with this Hawker Siddeley 125
The images entered into evidence reveals the life of luxury Maxwell led as Epstein's closest confidante. Pictured: Epstein's helicopter, which he used for shorter flights
A 2008 deal by Epstein with the US authorities, after he pleaded guilty to procuring a child for sex, saw him strike an agreement protecting his unindicted alleged co-conspirators.
Among the four given future immunity was Miss Kellen, who went on to run her own business after leaving Epstein's employment, but from one of his properties in New York.
She later reinvented herself as 'Sarah Kensington', and became an interior designer who boasts of renovating corporate apartments in New York, the Caribbean and Paris.
On her interior design website in 2015, she described being 'fortunate to say that I've been able to travel to many locations around the world, which in turn has broadened my designing skills'.
But in an interview last year, Miss Kellen, who is married to American racing car driver Brian Vickers, insisted: 'I'm no monster.'
When approached outside her £3.4 million New York home, she claimed she was a victim, saying: 'I've been made out to be such a monster '' but it's not true. I'm a victim of Jeffrey Epstein. I was raped and abused weekly.'
The jury were also shown pictures of Epstein's £164m property empire, including a £21m ranch in New Mexico. Pictured: The main house on Epstein's £21million Zorro ranch in New Mexico
Epstein's properties also included a £57 million seven-storey townhouse on New York's Upper East Side (pictured)
Views of the Arc de Triomphe: Epstein also owned £10 million Paris apartment, which the jury was shown pictures of
The photographs of Miss Kellen were part of a batch entered into evidence which reveals the life of luxury Maxwell led as Epstein's closest confidante.
Epstein had a Hawker Siddeley 125, a Gulfstream G2B, a helicopter and a Boeing 727 dubbed the 'Lolita Express' amid claims he used it to fly underage girls around the world.
That plane, which is more than 130ft long, was fitted with an office dubbed 'the red room' because of its furniture, a master bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a lounge area with a large round sofa, and a 'full decked-out' kitchen.
The jury were also shown pictures of Epstein's £164 million property empire, including Little St James, his private island in the US Virgin Islands, worth around £50 million.
Epstein also owned the neighbouring island, Great St James, which is valued at £14 million, while he had a £12 million mansion in Florida.
Other properties included an 8,000-acre, £21 million ranch in New Mexico, a £10 million Paris apartment, and a £57 million seven-storey townhouse on New York's Upper East Side.
From socialite to child sex-trafficker: How Ghislaine Maxwell grew up as the 'favorite' daughter of disgraced newspaper baron Robert and went from mixing with royals, politicians and moguls to 'procuring minors' for Epstein
Ghislaine Maxwell grew up well versed in mixing with royals, politicians and moguls but her life of privilege came to an abrupt end when she was arrested and now convicted of recruiting child victims for Jeffrey Epstein.
As the 'favourite' daughter of disgraced newspaper baron Robert she boasted an impeccable network of contacts and starry circle of friends.
The French born socialite, 58, spent decades at the most exclusive of parties, pictured with the likes of Donald Trump and Prince Andrew and riding private jets with Bill Clinton.
A court has found she she facilitated Epstein's crimes by helping him 'recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse ' girls as young as 14. It also said she participated in the sexual abuse.
The French born socialite, 58, spent decades at the most exclusive of parties, pictured with the likes of Donald Trump, left in 1997, and Prince Andrew and riding private jets with Bill Clinton. She is pictured right with Eptein in 1995
As the 'favorite' daughter of disgraced newspaper baron Robert, Ghislaine boasted an impeccable network of contacts. The father and daughter are pictured in 1984
Maxwell, pictured in 1986, had been a regular on the New York social scene after meeting Epstein in the 1990s, using her connections to secure them both access
Until her arrest Maxwell had been virtually invisible since the autumn of 2016. But it wasn't always that way.
In fact, Maxwell, who speaks with a British accent, had been a regular on the New York social scene after meeting Epstein in the 1990s, using her connections to secure them both access to the most exclusive of parties.
As one of Epstein's accusers, Maria Farmer, told The Guardian: 'Ghislaine was key in making me feel safe.'
She added: 'I trusted her because she is a woman...she had that way about her, you know, the popular girl in school, she was one of those. She knew everybody.'
Born in Paris on Christmas Day in 1961 to her French mother Elisabeth and billionaire media mogul father Robert, Ghislaine was the youngest of nine. She grew up at Headington Hill Hall, a mansion leased from the council.
Maxwell went on to be educated at Marlborough College, then Oxford University and was used to a privileged, public-school and Oxford-educated lifestyle. She is also said to be a helicopter and submarine pilot and able to speak four languages.
But when her father Robert, one of the most powerful media magnates '-- and most notorious fraudsters '-- in modern history, died her world crumbled.
Robert spent his business career investing in Israel's economy after losing most of his family during the Holocaust.
He died aged 68 in 1991 in suspicious circumstances after falling off his megayacht named after Ghislaine, the Lady Ghislaine. Her mother reportedly died in 2013.
Heartbroken, Ghislaine is then is said to have fled to New York aged 30 where she is understood to have first met Epstein.
She is said to have been broke after it was revealed her father had stolen nearly £500million ($623 million) from employee pension funds. Robert Maxwell biographer Tom Bower said she 'worshiped rich, domineering men'.
But the relationship was more complicated than that.
Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener's son, to society. In return, she used the financier's millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a home on Manhattan's Upper East Side, a wardrobe of designer clothes and helicopter lessons.
Born in Paris on Christmas Day in 1961 to her French mother Elisabeth and dad Robert Ghislaine was the youngest of nine. She is pictured left with her sisters and right in 1984
Maxwell went on to be educated at Marlborough College, then Oxford University and was used to a privileged, public-school and Oxford-educated lifestyle. She is also said to be a helicopter and submarine pilot and able to speak four languages
Robert Maxwell biographer Tom Bower said she 'worshiped rich, domineering men'
Prince Andrew has publicly invoked his friendship with Maxwell as the reason he came into pedophile Epstein's orbit.
He blamed Maxwell for bringing Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham in 2000. 'Remember that it was his girlfriend (Maxwell) that was the key element in this,' the Prince told Maitlis. 'He was the'... plus one.'
The Prince corrected previous reports that he threw a birthday party for Maxwell at Sandringham at which Epstein is believed to have met other members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles: 'It was a shooting weekend,' he said.
Photographs have also emerged of Maxwell joining a grinning Andrew and Epstein at Royal Ascot Ladies' Day in 2000.
And of course, it was at Maxwell's Belgravia Mews house that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Epstein first 'sex trafficked' her to the Prince when she was just 17. It is a charge the Prince has continuously and vehemently denied.
She was photographed at Chelsea Clinton's wedding and she also flew with Bill Clinton on Epstein's private jet, dubbed the 'Lolita Express' because it was used to ferry young girls to his private Caribbean island or ranch in New Mexico.
Maxwell is pictured meeting Princess Diana in 1984. Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener's son, to society
She has also been photographed with Epstein and Donald and Melania Trump at parties, years before Epstein became a social pariah.
Friend Euan Rellie, told Tatler: 'Every single interesting, pretty, new girl to arrive in New York would end up going for tea with Ghislaine, then being introduced to Jeffrey. She was the acceptable face of a rather mysterious billionaire.'
Prince Andrew's Team Holding Crisis Talks After Ghislaine Verdict: Report
Thu, 30 Dec 2021 22:43
In light of Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell's sex crime conviction Wednesday, the Mirror reports that Prince Andrew has been holding crisis talks with his attorneys over how to respond to his own legal troubles'--and they hope to use one of her victims to help him. Andrew's attorneys reportedly believe they can speak to ''Carolyn,'' one of Maxwell's victims who testified against her in court, to discredit accuser Virginia Giuffre in her civil suit against him. Carolyn testified in court that it was Giuffre who recruited her into Epstein's sex ring, which Andrew's team reportedly thinks could weaken Giuffre's allegation of rape due to the U.S. civil suit threshold of a ''preponderance of the evidence.'' The next hearing in Andrew's case is scheduled for Jan. 4 in New York.
Read it at Mirror
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VIDEO - Hy-Vee announces 'Retail Security Team' coming to stores in 2022 | KSTP.com
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 19:27
Photo: Hy-Vee.
Kilat Fitzgerald Updated: December 30, 2021 07:46 AMCreated: December 29, 2021 08:04 PM
Hy-Vee said it is forming its own security department that will be present in stores during operating hours.
A news release from Hy-Vee said that security officers from the team are already in several stores, and more are being trained.
Tina Potthoff, Vice President of Hy-Vee Communications, said that Hy-Vee has previously worked with third-party security contractors and off-duty law enforcement. She added the goal of this new force is to create a consistent look and approach to security in all Hy-Vee stores.
Potthoff also said in an email "We have not seen an increase in incidents in our store, and we believe we are the first retailers to launch an in-house program like this."
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Trump doubles down on Jewish American remarks... 00:46 Less than a day after President Donald Trump outraged many members of the Jewish community for his comments about their loyalty, he tweeted out the claim that Israeli Jews view him as the "second coming of God."
In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump quoted conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root, who practically declared the president the Messiah during his show Tuesday night.
Quoting Root, Mr. Trump shared the message that he is "the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world," that "the Jewish people in Israel love him like he's the King of Israel" and even that "They love him like he is the second coming of God."
''Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. ''President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world...and the Jewish people in Israel love him....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019 ....like he's the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God...But American Jews don't know him or like him. They don't even know what they're doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that's OK, if he keeps doing what he's doing, he's good for.....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019Mr. Trump said "Wow!" and thanked Root for the "very nice words."
Root is a self-described "Jew turned evangelical Christian" and the author of a 2015 book titled "Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon Is Changing America," which had a forward by now-indicted Trump associate Roger Stone .
Root is also known for promoting bogus right-wing conspiracy theories. He attended Columbia University while Barack Obama was also studying there, then later falsely claimed that Mr. Obama did not actually attend the school. More recently, he falsely said on Twitter that the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, which killed 58 people, was an act of Muslim terrorism. The gunman was not Muslim and investigators were unable to determine a motive .
The latest tweets come a day after President Trump criticized "any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat," saying it "shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." Leaders in the Jewish community raised concerns that the president was promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes by casting Jews as disloyal. Such accusations have a long and disturbing history of being used against Jews, said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.
Polling shows that a majority of Jewish Americans identify as Democrats and did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016.
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VIDEO - Retired general warns the military could lead a coup after the 2024 election : NPR
Sat, 01 Jan 2022 18:05
Retired general warns the U.S. military could lead a coup after the 2024 election Retired two-star U.S. Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton co-authored a recent op-ed about the fear that a coup could succeed after the 2024 elections. Brent Stirton/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Brent Stirton/Getty Images Retired two-star U.S. Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton co-authored a recent op-ed about the fear that a coup could succeed after the 2024 elections.
Brent Stirton/Getty Images As the anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol approaches, three retired U.S. generals have warned that another insurrection could occur after the 2024 presidential election and that the military could instigate it.
The generals '' Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba and Steven Anderson '' made their case in a recent Washington Post op-ed. "In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time," they wrote.
Paul Eaton, a retired U.S. Army major general and a senior adviser to VoteVets, spoke with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly earlier this week.
Below are the highlights of the conversation.
Edited for brevity and clarity.
How could a coup play out in 2024?The real question is does everybody understand who the duly elected president is? If that is not a clear-cut understanding, that can infect the rank and file or at any level in the U.S. military.
Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., read the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November's presidential election, hours after a pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol. Pool/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Pool/Getty Images Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., read the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November's presidential election, hours after a pro-Trump mob broke into the U.S. Capitol.
Pool/Getty Images And we saw it when 124 retired generals and admirals signed a letter contesting the 2020 election. We're concerned about that. And we're interested in seeing mitigating measures applied to make sure that our military is better prepared for a contested election, should that happen in 2024.
How worried is he on a scale of 1 to 10?I see it as low probability, high impact. I hesitate to put a number on it, but it's an eventuality that we need to prepare for. In the military, we do a lot of war-gaming to ferret out what might happen. You may have heard of the Transition Integrity Project that occurred about six months before the last election. We played four scenarios. And what we did not play is a U.S. military compromised '-- not to the degree that the United States is compromised today, as far as 39% of the Republican Party refusing to accept President Biden as president '-- but a compromise nonetheless. So, we advocate that that particular scenario needs to be addressed in a future war game held well in advance of 2024.
A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress held a joint session to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress held a joint session to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump.
Win McNamee/Getty Images Can the current Pentagon leadership handle it?I'm a huge fan of Secretary [of Defense Lloyd] Austin, a huge fan of the team that he has put together and the uniformed military under [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark] Milley. They're just superb. And I am confident that the best men and women in the U.S. and in our military will be outstanding. I just don't want the doubt that has compromised or infected the greater population of the United States to infect our military.
What should the military do?I had a conversation with somebody about my age, and we were talking about civics lessons, liberal arts education and the development of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution. And I believe that bears a reteach to make sure that each and every 18-year-old American truly understands the Constitution of the United States, how we got there, how we developed it and what our forefathers wanted us to understand years down the road. That's an important bit of education that I think that we need to readdress.
I believe that we need to war-game the possibility of a problem and what we are going to do. The fact that we were caught completely unprepared '-- militarily, and from a policing function '-- on Jan. 6 is incomprehensible to me. Civilian control of the military is sacrosanct in the U.S. and that is a position that we need to reinforce.
A protester screams "Freedom" inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob on Jan. 6, 2021. Retired U.S. Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton suggests better civics lessons could help prevent another insurrection. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images A protester screams "Freedom" inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached by a mob on Jan. 6, 2021. Retired U.S. Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton suggests better civics lessons could help prevent another insurrection.
Win McNamee/Getty Images Are civics lessons 'weak tea' to stave off an insurrection?A component of that '-- unsaid '-- is that we all know each other very well. And if there is any doubt in the loyalty and the willingness to follow the Oath of the United States, the support and defend part of the U.S. Constitution, then those folks need to be identified and addressed in some capacity. When you talk to a squad leader, a staff sergeant, a nine-man rifle squad, he knows his men and women very, very well.
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