1436: Frog of War

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 23m
March 24th, 2022
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Executive Producers: Baronet Sir Data Ops the Wisconsin Millennial, Sam Onan, James Cherf, Madison McClure, Sandy McMahon, Chap Williams, Allison Ostrander, Steve Bandstra (Sir BNAdstra)

Associate Executive Producers: Michael Gaff, Sir Ron Nooren black knight, Dame Kenny-Ben

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat

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Israel - Nothing to do with this, Not our war
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32:46
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MintPress Propaganda Messaging Breakdown
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Canadian Poll
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Ashley Biden Diary
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Sarah Lawrence College sex cult case
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1:45:15
Executive Producer Credits
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2271 Trolls
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Hack Slack!
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Donations
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Ukraine
Peace Core Warning to POC's
"It is not uncommon for Ukrainians to refer to African-Americans as “[N-Word]”. Volunteers of color may be called 'a monkey' or may see children’s games with Blackface. Being aware of the history of dehumanization for people of African descent may help inform where this comes from; it does not justify it. It will be at your discretion to determine the intent. No matter the intent, staff recognizes the impact that hearing that word may invoke hurt and anger. If you view it as unlearned [something the person has never been exposed to], it may be an opportunity for you to educate that person. We are here to support your successful service, and these comments and images can be a huge distraction and obstacle to you. Know that Peace Corps staff is here to support and encourage you. Do not hesitate to remove yourself from such situations. You are not expected to be subjected to such treatment. You can also find support and understand from other African-American Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Ukraine."
The Ukrainian Biolabs - Deconstructed
Attached, you will find a document explaining several pathogenic outbreaks and their relation to both the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, and the US Dept. of Defense. Some of the viral outbreaks include; H1N1, Swine Flu, Hemorrhagic Pneumonia.
This is the tip of the iceberg, more info can be found thru the several links attached at the bottom. I have found that the U.S. Dept. of Defense and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) may be responsible for nearly every major pathogenic outbreak since circa 1950. Including; Swine Flu, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, Cholera, Ebola, Zika, etc.. There are several official documents to support these claims both within the attachments and found in the links below.
It is important to note the following:
Four companies work with the Bio-Metric's Laboratory known as the Lugar Center in Tbilisi, Georgia - Black & Veatch, Battelle, CH3M Hill, and Metabiota.
Metabiota receives direct funding from Rosemont Seneca Partners; an investment fund located in Washington, DC. It was founded in 2009 by Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz. Hunter being President Joe Biden's son, and Christopher being John Kerry's step-son.
Since 2014, Metabiota has partnered with EcoHealth Alliance as part of the "PREDICT" initiative of the U.S. Agency of International Development's (USAID), which aims to "predict and prevent global emerging disease threats."
As part of this endeavor, researchers from Metabiota, EcoHealth Alliance, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology collaborated on a study into bat infectious diseases in Wuhan, China.
Peter Daszak, a longtime collaborator at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was removed from the Lancet COVID-19 panel. He worked for EcoHealth Alliance for several years and was found accepting large funding amounts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), under the instructions of Anthony Fauci. Daszak then used these public funds to boost the bat coronavirus operations.
Nathan Wolfe, a former DARPA virologist and founder/CEO of Metabiota, is also on the Board of Director's for a non-profit organization known as The Terramar Project. There are two other board members apart of Terramar, their names are Ted Turner (Founder of CNN), and Ghislaine Maxwell. Attached will be a photo of Nathan Wolfe and Ghislaine Maxwell together.
Nathan Wolfe is also apart of Klaus Schwab's push for Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum.
Here are the links in order of importance (top to bottom):
https://silview.media/2021/06/03/us-ran-grewsome-bioweapon-research-in-over-25-countries-wuhan-tip-of-an-iceberg-ecohealth-alliance-implicated-again/
https://journal-neo.org/2022/03/09/ukraine-and-the-deeper-global-suicide-agenda/
https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2022/03/breaking-us-department-defense-funding-ukrainian-biolabs-russia-releases-list-biological-agents-tested-us-biolabs-ukraine-including-salmonella-e-coli-anthrax-plague/
https://bip.brpo.gov.pl/pliki/12583668530.pdf
https://web.archive.org/web/20110522081423/http://www.bioprepwatch.com/news/213421-biolab-opens-in-ukraine
https://thenationalpulse.com/2022/03/08/obama-led-ukraine-biolab-efforts/
https://silview.media/2021/04/19/india-blacklisted-us-cdc-for-secretly-funding-bioweapons-research-in-manipal/
https://silview.media/2020/07/12/video-ghislaine-maxwell-speaks-at-the-united-nations-represent-civil-society/
WH tiktock breifing - Chinese company!
The US is Preparing a Biological Time Bomb in Kazakhstan | New Eastern Outlook
Climate Change
Demand Destruction is underway
BLMLGBBTQQIAAPK+ Noodle Boy
CBDC
KBJ
Food Intelligence
April 23'd in Kerrville
TxSlim videographer for food intelligence
Cancelling Russia
Russia's Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
I thought I'd give you again the Catholic update with world events, this time on the Russian Ukraine conflict.
On Friday (March 25), Pope Francis intends to consecrate Russia (and Ukraine) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which will be performed in communion with local churches and Bishops around the world.
This is being done in response to Our Lady of Fatima's request in 1929 to consecrate Russia to eradicate their errors from the world. There were four conditions that Our Lady gave Sister Lucia in order for the consecration to be valid:
1) Done by the Pope
2) Ordered in Union with the Bishops of the world
3) Mentions specifically "Russia"
4) Specific consecration to the "Immaculate Heart" of Mary
Some argue John Paul II in 1984 already did this, however, he did not meet all of the criteria above, specifically # 2 & 3. Supposedly, JP2's staff / other clergy convinced him to not say specifically Russia because of the potential political conflict that could have happened.
Sr. Lucia received these "secrets" that were written down and are in possession of the Vatican. The Third Secret was supposed to be released to the public, but it kept getting pushed back. Finally, in May 2000 it got released but it probably isn't the true third secret. There is a lot of controversy around it, especially since it has to do with the end of the world / apocalypse.
All is to say, who knows if Pope Francis will meet the four conditions. Dr. Taylor Marshall usually has good takes on the entire issue. I'm sorry I wasn't able to get any clips from his recent show, but I thought I'd forward it to you if you were more interested in the topic.
Keeping you and The Keeper in my prayers while you continue on your faith journey!
TYFYC,
Nick
Mandates & Boosters
Covid tweets
Great Recycle(70's Fractal)
70's fractal - Pelosi potus
VAERS
Breakthrough hospitalizations 'extremely uncommon' after COVID-19 immunity, Mayo study finds
"The study, which is published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, supports previous studies that show vaccination is the best way to prevent severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death."
Actual reported data
"The researchers found the hospitalization rate was:
0.06%, or 6 in 10,000 for vaccinated patients.
0.03%, or 3 in 10,000, in previously infected but unvaccinated people.
0.01%, or 1 in 10,000, among those who were both vaccinated and infected previously."
How is vaccination the best way if previously infected people have a lower hospitalization rate?
"We found these results to be in line with previous studies, although the interpretation shouldn't necessarily be that natural immunity provides the same protection as vaccination,” says Dr. Pollock. “Rather, this study found that among our primary care population, both natural immunity and vaccine immunity appeared to lead to very low rates of breakthrough hospitalizations."
Shut Up Slave!
China
M5M
Epstein
STORIES
Koch Industries' campaign donations questioned after decision to remain in Russia
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 15:20
In this February 26, 2007 file photograph, Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, talks passionately about his new book on Market Based Management.
Bo Rader | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers received roughly $110,000 in campaign contributions from Koch Industries in the weeks leading up to Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine '-- money some ethics lawyers say should be returned given the company's decision to maintain operations in Russia.
U.S. lawmakers are being scrutinized for accepting campaigns contributions from the conglomerate, which is run by billionaire Charles Koch, even as other major U.S. and European companies flee the country to avoid sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
The company's glass manufacturer Guardian Industries, which has two facilities in Russia, will remain fully active despite the Kremlin's war with Ukraine, Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson said in a statement last week. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration and Western allies have taken aim at Russia with sanctions, including targeting the country's central bank.
Ethics lawyers told CNBC the Koch's donations could influence congressional leaders as they determine how to further aid Ukraine's fight against Russian aggressors.
"Having lawmakers dependent on Putin enablers for their positions as they are making decisions about how to handle this crisis is dangerous for America and dangerous for democracy," Walter Shaub, who ran the Office of Government Ethics under multiple administrations, told CNBC.
Lawmakers who have taken money from Koch Industries, simply "should return the donation and stop taking money from Koch," Richard Painter, who was chief White House ethics lawyer under then-President George W. Bush, said in an interview
At least one lawmaker, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., won't accept future donations from Koch Industries and will donate what it has recently received to a charity dedicated to providing aid to Ukraine, spokeswoman Deb Barnes said after CNBC emailed to ask about the donations.
Schrader's campaign received $4,500 from the Koch Industries' political action committee during the 2022 election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations and spending.
"Schrader believes as long as the company has decided to continue to do business in Russia during the war he will not accept donations from the company," Barnes said in a statement.
The Oregon congressman was the only lawmaker contacted by CNBC who originally committed to not accepting new money from Koch. Representatives for other lawmakers mentioned in this story who saw big money from Koch Industries last month, didn't immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment. A spokesman for Koch Industries did not return a request for comment.
After publication of this story, Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga. told CNBC that his campaign will not accept contributions from Koch Industries as long as they are continuing to do work in Russia and will be donating the amount they've received this cycle to a charity providing aid to Ukraine. Bishop's campaign has seen $2,500 from the Koch Industries PAC this cycle.
"As long as Koch Industries continues to do business in Russia while the country is at war with Ukraine, I will not accept any donations from the company or its political action committee," Bishop said in a statement late Monday. "My campaign is donating the amount received from the Koch Industries PAC this cycle to a non-profit dedicated to supporting and providing aid to the people of Ukraine during this international crisis."
In February, the Koch Industries PAC contributed nearly $110,000 to over two dozen U.S. lawmakers, with most of the the donations going to the campaigns or political action committees of Republicans on Capitol Hill, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filing.
CEO Charles Koch was one of the top donors to his company's corporate PAC last month.
Republican Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, along with GOP Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa each received donations from Koch ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 last month.
Though most of the over $500,000 from the Koch Industries PAC donations have gone toward Republican efforts during the 2022 election cycle, there are a few other House Democrats who have also recently seen money from the Koch backed committee.
Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, Jim Costa, D-Calif and Terri Sewell, D-Ala., have all seen donations in the 2022 election cycle from the Koch Industries PAC.
Sewell said in a statement to CNBC that she wants to see all of corporate America comply with the U.S. sanctions.
"I condemn Putin's brutal and bloody war against Ukraine in the strongest of terms and urge compliance by Corporate America with the crippling sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on Russia," Sewell said in a statement on Monday. "Russian aggression is a threat to democracy around the world. My opposition to Russia's brutality is uncompromising and if it results in an organization ending its financial support to my campaign, so be it."
Spiro Agnew - Wikipedia
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 15:11
Vice president of the U.S., 1969''1973
Spiro Agnew
Official portrait, 1972
In office January 20, 1969 '' October 10, 1973PresidentRichard Nixon Preceded by Hubert Humphrey Succeeded by Gerald Ford In office January 25, 1967 '' January 7, 1969 Preceded by J. Millard Tawes Succeeded by Marvin Mandel In office December 6, 1962 '' December 8, 1966 Preceded by Christian H. Kahl Succeeded by Dale AndersonBornSpiro Theodore Agnew
( 1918-11-09 ) November 9, 1918Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.Died September 17, 1996 (1996-09-17) (aged 77) Berlin, Maryland, U.S.Resting placeDulaney Valley Memorial GardensPolitical partyRepublicanSpouse(s)Children4EducationSignatureAllegiance United StatesBranch/serviceUnited States ArmyYears of service1941''1945Rank CaptainBattles/warsWorld War IIAwards Bronze StarSpiro Theodore Agnew (November 9, 1918 '' September 17, 1996) was the 39th vice president of the United States, serving from 1969 until his resignation in 1973. He is the second vice president to resign the position, the other being John C. Calhoun in 1832.
Agnew was born in Baltimore to a Greek immigrant father and an American mother. He attended Johns Hopkins University and graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law. He worked as an aide to U.S. Representative James Devereux before he was appointed to the Baltimore County Board of Zoning Appeals in 1957. In 1962, he was elected Baltimore County Executive. In 1966, Agnew was elected Governor of Maryland, defeating his Democratic opponent George P. Mahoney and independent candidate Hyman A. Pressman.
At the 1968 Republican National Convention, Richard Nixon asked Agnew to place his name in nomination, and named him as running mate. Agnew's centrist reputation interested Nixon; the law and order stance he had taken in the wake of civil unrest that year appealed to aides such as Pat Buchanan. Agnew made a number of gaffes during the campaign, but his rhetoric pleased many Republicans, and he may have made the difference in several key states. Nixon and Agnew defeated the Democratic ticket of incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his running mate, Senator Edmund Muskie. As vice president, Agnew was often called upon to attack the administration's enemies. In the years of his vice presidency, Agnew moved to the right, appealing to conservatives who were suspicious of moderate stances taken by Nixon. In the presidential election of 1972, Nixon and Agnew were re-elected for a second term, defeating Senator George McGovern and his running mate Sargent Shriver in one of the largest landslides in American history.
In 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud. Agnew took kickbacks from contractors during his time as Baltimore County Executive and Governor of Maryland. The payments had continued into his time as vice president; they had nothing to do with the Watergate scandal, in which he was not implicated. After months of maintaining his innocence, Agnew pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of tax evasion and resigned from office. Nixon replaced him with House Republican leader Gerald Ford. Agnew spent the remainder of his life quietly, rarely making public appearances. He wrote a novel and a memoir; both defended his actions. Agnew died at his home of undiagnosed acute leukemia.
Early life Family background Downtown Baltimore around the time of Agnew's birth
Spiro Agnew's father was born Theophrastos Anagnostopoulos in about 1877, in the Greek town of Gargalianoi.[1][2] The family may have been involved in olive growing and been impoverished during a crisis in the industry in the 1890s. Anagnostopoulos emigrated to the United States in 1897 (some accounts say 1902)[5] and settled in Schenectady, New York, where he changed his name to Theodore Agnew and opened a diner. A passionate self-educator, Agnew maintained a lifelong interest in philosophy; one family member recalled that "if he wasn't reading something to improve his mind, he wouldn't read." Around 1908, he moved to Baltimore, where he purchased a restaurant. Here he met William Pollard, who was the city's federal meat inspector. The two became friends; Pollard and his wife Margaret were regular customers of the restaurant. After Pollard died in April 1917, Agnew and Margaret Pollard began a courtship which led to their marriage on December 12, 1917. Spiro Agnew was born 11 months later, on November 9, 1918.
Margaret Pollard, born Margaret Marian Akers in Bristol, Virginia, in 1883, was the youngest in a family of 10 children. As a young adult she moved to Washington, D.C., and found employment in various government offices before marrying Pollard and moving to Baltimore. The Pollards had one son, Roy, who was 10 years old when Pollard died. After the marriage to Agnew in 1917 and Spiro's birth the following year, the new family settled in a small apartment at 226 West Madison Street, near downtown Baltimore.
Childhood, education, early career, and marriage In accordance with his mother's wishes, the infant Spiro was baptized as an Episcopalian, rather than into the Greek Orthodox Church of his father. Nevertheless, Agnew senior was the dominant figure within the family, and a strong influence on his son. When in 1969, after his vice presidential inauguration, Baltimore's Greek community endowed a scholarship in Theodore Agnew's name, Spiro Agnew told the gathering: "I am proud to say that I grew up in the light of my father. My beliefs are his."
During the early 1920s, the Agnews prospered. Theodore acquired a larger restaurant, the Piccadilly, and moved the family to a house in the Forest Park northwest section of the city, where Spiro attended Garrison Junior High School and later Forest Park High School. This period of affluence ended with the crash of 1929, and the restaurant closed. In 1931, the family's savings were wiped out when a local bank failed, forcing them to sell the house and move to a small apartment. Agnew later recalled how his father responded to these misfortunes: "He just shrugged it off and went to work with his hands without complaint." Theodore Agnew sold fruit and vegetables from a roadside stall, while the youthful Spiro helped the family's budget with part-time jobs, delivering groceries and distributing leaflets. As he grew up, Spiro was increasingly influenced by his peers, and began to distance himself from his Greek background. He refused his father's offer to pay for Greek language lessons, and preferred to be known by a nickname, "Ted".
In February 1937, Agnew entered Johns Hopkins University at their new Homewood campus in north Baltimore as a chemistry major. After a few months, he found the pressure of the academic work increasingly stressful, and was distracted by the family's continuing financial problems and worries about the international situation, in which war seemed likely. In 1939 he decided that his future lay in law rather than chemistry, left Johns Hopkins and began night classes at the University of Baltimore School of Law. To support himself, he took a day job as an insurance clerk with the Maryland Casualty Company at their "Rotunda" building on 40th Street in Roland Park.
During the three years Agnew spent at the company he rose to the position of assistant underwriter. At the office, he met a young filing clerk, Elinor Judefind, known as "Judy". She had grown up in the same part of the city as Agnew, but the two had not previously met. They began dating, became engaged, and were married in Baltimore on May 27, 1942. They had four children;[13] Pamela Lee, James Rand, Susan Scott, and Elinor Kimberly.[14]
War and after World War II (1941''1945) By the time of the marriage, Agnew had been drafted into the U.S. Army. Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, he began basic training at Camp Croft in South Carolina. There, he met people from a variety of backgrounds: "I had led a very sheltered life'--I became unsheltered very quickly." Eventually he was sent to the Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and on May 24, 1942'--three days before his wedding'--he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
After a two-day honeymoon, Agnew returned to Fort Knox. He served there, or at nearby Fort Campbell, for nearly two years in a variety of administrative roles, before being sent to England in March 1944 as part of the pre-D-Day build-up. He remained on standby in Birmingham until late in the year, when he was posted to the 54th Armored Infantry Battalion in France as a replacement officer. After briefly serving as a rifle platoon leader, Agnew commanded the battalion's service company. The battalion became part of 10th Armored Combat Command "B", which saw action in the Battle of the Bulge, including the siege of Bastogne'--in all, "thirty-nine days in the hole of the doughnut", as one of Agnew's men put it. Thereafter, the 54th battalion fought its way into Germany, seeing action at Mannheim, Heidelberg and Crailsheim, before reaching Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria as the war concluded. Agnew returned home for discharge in November 1945, having been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Bronze Star.
Postwar years (1945''1956) On his return to civilian life, Agnew resumed his legal studies, and secured a job as a law clerk with the Baltimore firm of Smith and Barrett. Until now, Agnew had been largely apolitical; his nominal allegiance had been to the Democratic Party, following his father's beliefs. The firm's senior partner, Lester Barrett, advised Agnew that if he wanted a career in politics he should become a Republican. There were already many ambitious young Democrats in Baltimore and its suburbs, whereas competent, personable Republicans were scarcer. Agnew took Barrett's advice; on moving with his wife and children to the Baltimore suburb of Lutherville in 1947, he registered as a Republican, though he did not immediately become involved in politics.
The courthouse at
Towson, in Baltimore County, Maryland
In 1947 Agnew graduated as Bachelor of Laws and passed the Maryland bar examination. He started his own law practice in downtown Baltimore, but was not successful, and took a job as an insurance investigator. A year later, he moved to Schreiber's, a supermarket chain, where his main role was that of a store detective. He stayed there for four years, a period briefly interrupted in 1951 by a recall to the army after the outbreak of the Korean War. He resigned from Schreiber's in 1952, and resumed his legal practice, specializing in labor law.
In 1955, Lester Barrett was appointed a judge in Towson, the county seat of Baltimore County, Maryland. Agnew moved his office there; at the same time he moved his family from Lutherville to Loch Raven, also in Baltimore County. There, he led a typical suburban lifestyle, serving as president of the local school's PTA, joining the Kiwanis and participating in a range of social and community activities. Historian William Manchester sums up the Agnew of those days: "His favorite musician was Lawrence Welk. His leisure interests were all midcult: watching the Baltimore Colts on television, listening to Mantovani, and reading the sort of prose the Reader's Digest liked to condense. He was a lover of order and an almost compulsive conformist."
Beginnings in public life Political awakening Agnew made his first bid for political office in 1956, when he sought to be a Republican candidate for Baltimore County Council. He was turned down by local party leaders, but nevertheless campaigned vigorously for the Republican ticket. The election resulted in an unexpected Republican majority on the council, and in recognition for his party work, Agnew was appointed for a one-year term to the county Zoning Board of Appeals at a salary of $3,600 per year. This quasi-judicial post provided an important supplement to his legal practice, and Agnew welcomed the prestige connected with the appointment. In April 1958, he was reappointed to the Board for a full three-year term and became its chairman.
In the November 1960 elections, Agnew decided to seek election to the county circuit court, against the local tradition that sitting judges seeking re-election were not opposed. He was unsuccessful, finishing last of five candidates. This failed attempt raised his profile, and he was regarded by his Democratic opponents as a Republican on the rise. The 1960 elections saw the Democrats win control of the county council, and one of their first actions was to remove Agnew from the Zoning Appeals Board. According to Agnew's biographer, Jules Witcover, "The publicity generated by the Democrats' crude dismissal of Agnew cast him as the honest servant wronged by the machine." Seeking to capitalize on this mood, Agnew asked to be nominated as the Republican candidate in the 1962 U.S. Congressional elections, in Maryland's 2nd congressional district. The party chose the more experienced J. Fife Symington, but wanted to take advantage of Agnew's local support. He accepted their invitation to run for county executive, the county's chief executive officer, a post which the Democrats had held since 1895.
Agnew's chances in 1962 were boosted by a feud in the Democrat ranks, as the retired former county executive, Michael Birmingham, fell out with his successor and defeated him in the Democratic primary. By contrast with his elderly opponent, Agnew was able to campaign as a "White Knight" promising change; his program included an anti-discrimination bill requiring public amenities such as parks, bars and restaurants be open to all races, policies that neither Birmingham nor any Maryland Democrat could have introduced at that time without angering supporters. In the November election, despite an intervention by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson on Birmingham's behalf, Agnew beat his opponent by 78,487 votes to 60,993. When Symington lost to Democrat Clarence Long in his congressional race, Agnew became the highest-ranking Republican in Maryland.
County executive A Civil Rights march, September 1963, protesting the Alabama church bombings. Agnew opposed such marches and demonstrations.
Agnew's four-year term as county executive saw a moderately progressive administration, which included the building of new schools, increases to teachers' salaries, reorganization of the police department, and improvements to the water and sewer systems.[5][33] His anti-discrimination bill passed, and gave him a reputation as a liberal, but its impact was limited in a county where the population was 97 percent white. His relations with the increasingly militant civil rights movement were sometimes troubled. In a number of desegregation disputes involving private property, Agnew appeared to prioritize law and order, showing a particular aversion to any kind of demonstration. His reaction to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Alabama, in which four children died, was to refuse to attend a memorial service at a Baltimore church, and to denounce a planned demonstration in support of the victims.
As county executive, Agnew was sometimes criticized for being too close to rich and influential businessmen,[5] and was accused of cronyism after bypassing the normal bidding procedures and designating three of his Republican friends as the county's insurance brokers of record, ensuring them large commissions. Agnew's standard reaction to such criticisms was to display moral indignation, denounce his opponents' "outrageous distortions", deny any wrongdoing and insist on his personal integrity; tactics which, Cohen and Witcover note, were to be seen again as he defended himself against the corruption allegations that ended his vice presidency.
In the 1964 presidential election, Agnew was opposed to the Republican frontrunner, the conservative Barry Goldwater, initially supporting the moderate California senator Thomas Kuchel, a candidacy that, Witcover remarks, "died stillborn". After the failure of moderate Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton's candidacy at the party convention, Agnew gave his reluctant support to Goldwater, but privately opined that the choice of so extremist a candidate had cost the Republicans any chance of victory.
Governor of Maryland (1967''1969) Election 1966 As his four-year term as executive neared its end, Agnew knew that his chances of re-election were slim, given that the county's Democrats had healed their rift. Instead, in 1966 he sought the Republican nomination for governor, and with the backing of party leaders won the April primary by a wide margin.
In the Democratic party, three candidates'--a moderate, a liberal and an outright segregationist'--battled for their party's gubernatorial nomination, which to general surprise was won by the segregationist, George P. Mahoney, a perennially unsuccessful candidate for office.[42] Mahoney's candidacy split his party, provoking a third-party candidate, Comptroller of Baltimore City Hyman A. Pressman. In Montgomery County, the state's wealthiest area, a "Democrats for Agnew" organization flourished, and liberals statewide flocked to the Agnew standard. Mahoney, a fierce opponent of integrated housing, exploited racial tensions with the slogan: "Your Home is Your Castle. Protect it!"[45] Agnew painted him as the candidate of the Ku Klux Klan, and said voters must choose "between the bright, pure, courageous flame of righteousness and the fiery cross". In the November election Agnew, helped by 70 percent of the black vote, beat Mahoney by 455,318 votes (49.5 percent) to 373,543, with Pressman taking 90,899 votes.[47]
Results of the 1966 election, by county (Agnew: red, Mahoney: blue)
After the campaign, it emerged that Agnew had failed to report three alleged attempts to bribe him that had been made on behalf of the slot-machine industry, involving sums of $20,000, $75,000 and $200,000, if he would promise not to veto legislation keeping the machines legal in Southern Maryland. He justified his silence on the grounds that no actual offer had been made: "Nobody sat down in front of me with a suitcase of money." Agnew was also criticized over his part-ownership of land close to the site of a planned, but never-built second bridge over Chesapeake Bay. Opponents claimed a conflict of interest, since some of Agnew's partners in the venture were simultaneously involved in business deals with the county. Agnew denied any conflict or impropriety, saying that the property involved was outside Baltimore County and his jurisdiction. Nevertheless, he sold his interest.
In office Agnew's term as governor was marked by an agenda which included tax reform, clean water regulations, and the repeal of laws against interracial marriage. Community health programs were expanded, as were higher educational and employment opportunities for those on low incomes. Steps were taken towards ending segregation in schools. Agnew's fair housing legislation was limited, applying only to new projects above a certain size. These were the first such laws passed south of the Mason''Dixon line. Agnew's attempt to adopt a new state constitution was rejected by the voters in a referendum.
For the most part, Agnew remained somewhat aloof from the state legislature, preferring the company of businessmen. Some of these had been associates in his county executive days, such as Lester Matz and Walter Jones, who had been among the first to encourage him to seek the governorship. Agnew's close ties to the business community were noted by officials in the state capital of Annapolis: "There always seemed to be people around him who were in business." Some suspected that, while not himself corrupt, he "allowed himself to be used by the people around him."
H. Rap Brown, militant student activist whose speech in Cambridge, Maryland sparked riots there
Agnew publicly supported civil rights, but deplored the militant tactics used by some black leaders. During the 1966 election, his record had won him the endorsement of Roy Wilkins, leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In mid-1967, racial tension was rising nationally, fueled by black discontent and an increasingly assertive civil rights leadership. Several cities exploded in violence, and there were riots in Cambridge, Maryland, after an incendiary speech there on July 24, 1967, by radical student leader H. Rap Brown. Agnew's principal concern was to maintain law and order, and he denounced Brown as a professional agitator, saying, "I hope they put him away and throw away the key." When the Kerner Commission, appointed by President Johnson to investigate the causes of the unrest, reported that the principal factor was institutional white racism,[60] Agnew dismissed these findings, blaming the "permissive climate and misguided compassion" and adding: "It is not the centuries of racism and deprivation that have built to an explosive crescendo, but ... that lawbreaking has become a socially acceptable and occasionally stylish form of dissent". In March 1968, when faced with a student boycott at Bowie State College, a historically black institution, Agnew again blamed outside agitators and refused to negotiate with the students. When a student committee came to Annapolis and demanded a meeting, Agnew closed the college and ordered more than 200 arrests.
Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, there was widespread rioting and disorder across the US. The trouble reached Baltimore on April 6, and for the next three days and nights the city burned. Agnew declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard. When order was restored there were six dead, more than 4,000 were under arrest, the fire department had responded to 1,200 fires, and there had been widespread looting. On April 11, Agnew summoned more than 100 moderate black leaders to the state capitol, where instead of the expected constructive dialogue he delivered a speech roundly castigating them for their failure to control more radical elements, and accused them of a cowardly retreat or even complicity. One of the delegates, the Rev. Sidney Daniels, rebuked the governor: "Talk to us like we are ladies and gentlemen", he said, before walking out. Others followed him; the remnant was treated to further accusations as Agnew rejected all socio-economic explanations for the disturbances. Many white suburbanites applauded Agnew's speech: over 90 percent of the 9,000 responses by phone, letter or telegram supported him, and he won tributes from leading Republican conservatives such as Jack Williams, governor of Arizona, and former senator William Knowland of California. To members of the black community the April 11 meeting was a turning point. Having previously welcomed Agnew's stance on civil rights, they now felt betrayed, one state senator observing: "He has sold us out ... he thinks like George Wallace, he talks like George Wallace".
Vice presidential candidate (1968) Background: Rockefeller and Nixon Nelson Rockefeller, Agnew's initial choice for president in 1968
At least until the April 1968 disturbances, Agnew's image was that of a liberal Republican. Since 1964 he had supported the presidential ambitions of Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, and early in 1968, with that year's elections looming, he became chairman of the "Rockefeller for President" citizens' committee. When in a televised speech on March 21, 1968, Rockefeller shocked his supporters with an apparently unequivocal withdrawal from the race, Agnew was dismayed and humiliated; despite his very public role in the Rockefeller campaign, he had received no advance warning of the decision. He took this as a personal insult and as a blow to his credibility.
Within days of Rockefeller's announcement, Agnew was being wooed by supporters of the former vice president Richard Nixon, whose campaign for the Republican nomination was well under way. Agnew had no antagonism towards Nixon, and in the wake of Rockefeller's withdrawal had indicated that Nixon might be his "second choice". When the two met in New York on March 29 they found an easy rapport. Agnew's words and actions after the April disturbances in Baltimore delighted conservative members of the Nixon camp such as Pat Buchanan, and also impressed Nixon. When on April 30 Rockefeller re-entered the race, Agnew's reaction was cool. He commended the governor as potentially a "formidable candidate" but did not commit his support: "A lot of things have happened since his withdrawal ... I think I've got to take another look at this situation".
In mid-May, Nixon, interviewed by David Broder of The Washington Post, mentioned the Maryland governor as a possible running mate.[77] As Agnew continued to meet with Nixon and with the candidate's senior aides, there was a growing impression that he was moving into the Nixon camp. At the same time, Agnew denied any political ambitions beyond serving his full four-year term as governor.
Republican National Convention As Nixon prepared for the August 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, he discussed possible running mates with his staff. Among these were Ronald Reagan, the conservative Governor of California; and the more liberal Mayor of New York City, John Lindsay. Nixon felt that these high-profile names could split the party, and looked for a less divisive figure. He did not indicate a preferred choice, and Agnew's name was not raised at this stage. Agnew was intending to go to the convention with his Maryland delegation as a favorite son, uncommitted to any of the main candidates.
At the convention, held August 5''8, Agnew abandoned his favorite son status, placing Nixon's name in nomination. Nixon narrowly secured the nomination on the first ballot. In the discussions that followed about a running mate, Nixon kept his counsel while various party factions thought they could influence his choice: Strom Thurmond, the senator from South Carolina, told a party meeting that he held a veto on the vice presidency. It was evident that Nixon wanted a centrist, though there was little enthusiasm when he first proposed Agnew, and other possibilities were discussed. Some party insiders thought that Nixon had privately settled on Agnew early on, and that the consideration of other candidates was little more than a charade. On August 8, after a final meeting of advisers and party leaders, Nixon declared that Agnew was his choice, and shortly afterwards announced his decision to the press. Delegates formally nominated Agnew for the vice presidency later that day, before adjourning.
In his acceptance speech, Agnew told the convention he had "a deep sense of the improbability of this moment". Agnew was not yet a national figure, and a widespread reaction to the nomination was "Spiro who?" In Atlanta, three pedestrians gave their reactions to the name when interviewed on television: "It's some kind of disease"; "It's some kind of egg"; "He's a Greek that owns that shipbuilding firm."
Campaign In 1968, the Nixon-Agnew ticket faced two principal opponents. The Democrats, at a convention marred by violent demonstrations, had nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Maine Senator Edmund Muskie as their standard-bearers. The segregationist former Governor of Alabama, George Wallace, ran as a third-party candidate, and was expected to do well in the Deep South. Nixon, mindful of the restrictions he had labored under as Eisenhower's running mate in 1952 and 1956, was determined to give Agnew a much freer rein and to make it clear his running mate had his support. Agnew could also usefully play an "attack dog" role, as Nixon had in 1952.
Initially, Agnew played the centrist, pointing to his civil rights record in Maryland. As the campaign developed, he quickly adopted a more belligerent approach, with strong law-and-order rhetoric, a style which alarmed the party's Northern liberals but played well in the South. John Mitchell, Nixon's campaign manager, was impressed, some other party leaders less so; Senator Thruston Morton described Agnew as an "asshole".
Throughout September, Agnew was in the news, generally as a result of what one reporter called his "offensive and sometimes dangerous banality". He used the derogatory term "Polack" to describe Polish-Americans, referred to a Japanese-American reporter as "the fat Jap", and appeared to dismiss poor socio-economic conditions by stating that "if you've seen one slum you've seen them all." He attacked Humphrey as soft on communism, an appeaser like Britain's prewar prime minister Neville Chamberlain. Agnew was mocked by his Democratic opponents; a Humphrey commercial displayed the message "Agnew for Vice President?" against a soundtrack of prolonged hysterical laughter that degenerated into a painful cough, before a final message: "This would be funny if it weren't so serious..." Agnew's comments outraged many, but Nixon did not rein him in; such right-wing populism had a strong appeal in the Southern states and was an effective counter to Wallace. Agnew's rhetoric was also popular in some Northern areas, and helped to galvanize "white backlash" into something less racially defined, more attuned to the suburban ethic defined by historian Peter B. Levy as "orderliness, personal responsibility, the sanctity of hard work, the nuclear family, and law and order".
In late October, Agnew survived an expos(C) in The New York Times that questioned his financial dealings in Maryland, with Nixon denouncing the paper for "the lowest kind of gutter politics". In the election on November 5, the Republicans were victorious, with a narrow popular vote plurality '' 500,000 out of a total of 73 million votes cast. The Electoral College result was more decisive: Nixon 301, Humphrey 191 and Wallace 46. The Republicans narrowly lost Maryland, but Agnew was credited by pollster Louis Harris with helping his party to victory in several border and Upper South states that might easily have fallen to Wallace '' South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky '' and with bolstering Nixon's support in suburbs nationally. Had Nixon lost those five states, he would have had only the minimum number of electoral votes needed, 270, and any defection by an elector would have thrown the election to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
Vice presidency (1969''1973) Transition and early days Immediately after the 1968 election, Agnew was still uncertain what Nixon would expect of him as vice president. He met with Nixon several days after the election in Key Biscayne, Florida. Nixon, vice president himself for eight years under Eisenhower, wanted to spare Agnew the boredom and lack of a role he had sometimes experienced in that office. Nixon initially gave Agnew an office in the West Wing of the White House, a first for a vice president, although in December 1969 it was given to deputy assistant Alexander Butterfield and Agnew had to move to an office in the Executive Office Building.[110] When they stood before the press after the meeting, Nixon pledged that Agnew would not have to undertake the ceremonial roles usually undertaken by the holders of the vice presidency, but would have "new duties beyond what any vice president has previously assumed". Nixon told the press that he planned to make full use of Agnew's experience as county executive and as governor in dealing with matters of federal-state relations and in urban affairs.
Nixon established transition headquarters in New York, but Agnew was not invited to meet with him there until November 27, when the two met for an hour. When Agnew spoke to reporters afterwards, he stated that he felt "exhilarated" with his new responsibilities, but did not explain what those were. During the transition period, Agnew traveled extensively, enjoying his new status. He vacationed on St. Croix, where he played a round of golf with Humphrey and Muskie. He went to Memphis for the 1968 Liberty Bowl, and to New York to attend the wedding of Nixon's daughter Julie to David Eisenhower. Agnew was a fan of the Baltimore Colts; in January, he was the guest of team owner Carroll Rosenbloom at Super Bowl III, and watched Joe Namath and the New York Jets upset the Colts, 16''7. There was as yet no official residence for the vice president, and Spiro and Judy Agnew secured a suite at the Sheraton Hotel in Washington formerly occupied by Johnson while vice president. Only one of their children, Kim, the youngest daughter, moved there with them, the others remaining in Maryland.
During the transition, Agnew hired a staff, choosing several aides who had worked with him as county executive and as governor. He hired Charles Stanley Blair as chief of staff; Blair had been a member of the House of Delegates and served as Maryland Secretary of State under Agnew. Arthur Sohmer, Agnew's long-time campaign manager, became his political advisor, and Herb Thompson, a former journalist, became press secretary.
Agnew was sworn in along with Nixon on January 20, 1969; as was customary, he sat down immediately after being sworn in, and did not make a speech. Soon after the inauguration, Nixon appointed Agnew as head of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, to head government commissions such as the National Space Council and assigned him to work with state governors to bring down crime. It became clear that Agnew would not be in the inner circle of advisors. The new president preferred to deal directly with only a trusted handful, and was annoyed when Agnew tried to call him about matters Nixon deemed trivial. After Agnew shared his opinions on a foreign policy matter in a cabinet meeting, an angry Nixon sent Bob Haldeman to warn Agnew to keep his opinions to himself. Nixon complained that Agnew had no idea how the vice presidency worked, but did not meet with Agnew to share his own experience of the office. Herb Klein, director of communications in the Nixon White House, later wrote that Agnew had allowed himself to be pushed around by senior aides such as Haldeman and John Mitchell, and that Nixon's "inconsistent" treatment of Agnew had left the vice president exposed.
Agnew's pride had been stung by the negative news coverage of him during the campaign, and he sought to bolster his reputation by assiduous performance of his duties. It had become usual for the vice president to preside over the Senate only if he might be needed to break a tie, but Agnew opened every session for the first two months of his term, and spent more time presiding, in his first year, than any vice president since Alben Barkley, who held that role under Harry S. Truman. The first postwar vice president not to have previously been a senator, he took lessons in Senate procedures from the Parliamentarian and from a Republican committee staffer. He lunched with small groups of senators, and was initially successful in building good relations. Although silenced on foreign policy matters, he attended White House staff meetings and spoke on urban affairs; when Nixon was present, he often presented the perspective of the governors. Agnew earned praise from the other members when he presided over a meeting of the White House Domestic Council in Nixon's absence but, like Nixon during Eisenhower's illnesses, did not sit in the president's chair. Nevertheless, many of the commission assignments Nixon gave Agnew were sinecures, with the vice president only formally the head.
"Nixon's Nixon": attacking the left The public image of Agnew as an uncompromising critic of the violent protests that had marked 1968 persisted into his vice presidency. At first, he tried to take a more conciliatory tone, in line with Nixon's own speeches after taking office. Still, he urged a firm line against violence, stating in a speech in Honolulu on May 2, 1969, that "we have a new breed of self-appointed vigilantes arising'--the counterdemonstrators'--taking the law into their own hands because officials fail to call law enforcement authorities. We have a vast faceless majority of the American public in quiet fury over the situation'--and with good reason."
On October 14, 1969, the day before the anti-war Moratorium, North Vietnamese premier Pham Van Dong released a letter supporting demonstrations in the United States. Nixon resented this, but on the advice of his aides, thought it best to say nothing, and instead had Agnew give a press conference at the White House, calling upon the Moratorium protesters to disavow the support of the North Vietnamese. Agnew handled the task well, and Nixon tasked Agnew with attacking the Democrats generally, while remaining above the fray himself. This was analogous to the role Nixon had performed as vice president in the Eisenhower White House; thus Agnew was dubbed "Nixon's Nixon". Agnew had finally found a role in the Nixon administration, one he enjoyed.
Nixon had Agnew deliver a series of speeches attacking their political opponents. In New Orleans on October 19, Agnew blamed liberal elites for condoning violence by demonstrators: "a spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals". The following day, in Jackson, Mississippi, Agnew told a Republican dinner, "for too long the South has been the punching bag for those who characterize themselves as liberal intellectuals ... their course is a course that will ultimately weaken and erode the very fiber of America." Denying Republicans had a Southern Strategy, Agnew stressed that the administration and Southern whites had much in common, including the disapproval of the elites. Levy argued that such remarks were designed to attract Southern whites to the Republican Party to help secure the re-election of Nixon and Agnew in 1972, and that Agnew's rhetoric "could have served as the blueprint for the culture wars of the next twenty-to-thirty years, including the claim that Democrats were soft on crime, unpatriotic, and favored flag burning rather than flag waving". The attendees at the speeches were enthusiastic, but other Republicans, especially from the cities, complained to the Republican National Committee that Agnew's attacks were overbroad.
In the wake of these remarks, Nixon delivered his Silent Majority speech on November 3, 1969, calling on "the great silent majority of my fellow Americans" to support the administration's policy in Vietnam. The speech was well received by the public, but less so by the press, who strongly attacked Nixon's allegations that only a minority of Americans opposed the war. Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan penned a speech in response, to be delivered by Agnew on November 13 in Des Moines, Iowa. The White House worked to assure the maximum exposure for Agnew's speech, and the networks covered it live, making it a nationwide address, a rarity for vice presidents. According to Witcover, "Agnew made the most of it".
Historically, the press had enjoyed considerable prestige and respect to that point, though some Republicans complained of bias. But in his Des Moines speech, Agnew attacked the media, complaining that immediately after Nixon's speech, "his words and policies were subjected to instant analysis and querulous criticism ... by a small band of network commentators and self-appointed analysts, the majority of whom expressed in one way or another their hostility to what he had to say ... It was obvious that their minds were made up in advance." Agnew continued, "I am asking whether a form of censorship already exists when the news that forty million Americans receive each night is determined by a handful of men ... and filtered through a handful of commentators who admit their own set of biases".
Agnew thus put into words feelings that many Republicans and conservatives had long felt about the news media. Television network executives and commentators responded with outrage. Julian Goodman, president of NBC, stated that Agnew had made an "appeal to prejudice ... it is regrettable that the Vice President of the United States should deny to TV freedom of the press". Frank Stanton, head of CBS, accused Agnew of trying to intimidate the news media, and his news anchor, Walter Cronkite, agreed. The speech was praised by conservatives from both parties, and gave Agnew a following among the right. Agnew deemed the Des Moines speech one of his finest moments
On November 20 in Montgomery, Alabama, Agnew reinforced his earlier speech with an attack on The New York Times and The Washington Post, again originated by Buchanan. Both papers had enthusiastically endorsed Agnew's candidacy for governor in 1966 but had castigated him as unfit for the vice presidency two years later. The Post in particular had been hostile to Nixon since the Hiss case in the 1940s. Agnew accused the papers of sharing a narrow viewpoint alien to most Americans. Agnew alleged that the newspapers were trying to circumscribe his First Amendment right to speak of what he believed, while demanding unfettered freedom for themselves, and warned, "the day when the network commentators and even the gentlemen of The New York Times enjoyed a form of diplomatic immunity from comment and criticism of what they said is over."
After Montgomery, Nixon sought a d(C)tente with the media, and Agnew's attacks ended. Agnew's approval rating soared to 64 percent in late November, and the Times called him "a formidable political asset" to the administration. The speeches gave Agnew a power base among conservatives, and boosted his presidential chances for the 1976 election.
1970: Protesters and midterm elections Agnew's attacks on the administration's opponents, and the flair with which he made his addresses, made him popular as a speaker at Republican fundraising events. He traveled over 25,000 miles (40,000 km) on behalf of the Republican National Committee in early 1970, speaking at a number of Lincoln Day events, and supplanted Reagan as the party's leading fundraiser. Agnew's involvement had Nixon's strong support. In his Chicago speech, the vice president attacked "supercilious sophisticates", while in Atlanta, he promised to continue speaking out lest he break faith with "the Silent Majority, the everyday law-abiding American who believes his country needs a strong voice to articulate his dissatisfaction with those who seek to destroy our heritage of liberty and our system of justice".
Agnew continued to try to increase his influence with Nixon, against the opposition of Haldeman, who was consolidating his power as the second most powerful person in the administration. Agnew was successful in being heard at an April 22, 1970, meeting of the National Security Council. An impediment to Nixon's plan for Vietnamization of the war in Southeast Asia was increasing Viet Cong control of parts of Cambodia, beyond the reach of South Vietnamese troops and used as sanctuaries. Feeling that Nixon was getting overly dovish advice from Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, Agnew stated that if the sanctuaries were a threat, they should be attacked and neutralized. Nixon chose to attack the Viet Cong positions in Cambodia, a decision that had Agnew's support, and that he remained convinced was correct after his resignation.
The continuing student protests against the war brought Agnew's scorn. In a speech on April 28 in Hollywood, Florida, Agnew stated that responsibility of the unrest lay with those who failed to guide them, and suggested that the alumni of Yale University fire its president, Kingman Brewster. The Cambodia incursion brought more demonstrations on campus, and on May 3, Agnew went on Face the Nation to defend the policy. Reminded that Nixon, in his inaugural address, had called for the lowering of voices in political discourse, Agnew commented, "When a fire takes place, a man doesn't run into the room and whisper ... he yells, 'Fire!' and I am yelling 'Fire!' because I think 'Fire!' needs to be called here". The Kent State shootings took place the following day, but Agnew did not tone down his attacks on demonstrators, alleging that he was responding to "a general malaise that argues for violent confrontation instead of debate". Nixon had Haldeman tell Agnew to avoid remarks about students; Agnew strongly disagreed and stated that he would only refrain if Nixon directly ordered it.
Nixon's agenda had been impeded by the fact that Congress was controlled by Democrats and he hoped to take control of the Senate in the 1970 midterm elections. Worried that Agnew was too divisive a figure, Nixon and his aides initially planned to restrict Agnew's role to fundraising and the giving of a standard stump speech that would avoid personal attacks. The president believed that appealing to white, middle- and lower-class voters on social issues would lead to Republican victories in November. He planned not to do any active campaigning, but to remain above the fray and let Agnew campaign as spokesman for the Silent Majority.
On September 10 in Springfield, Illinois, speaking on behalf of Republican Senator Ralph Smith, Agnew began his campaign, which would be noted for harsh rhetoric and memorable phrases. Agnew attacked the "pusillanimous pussyfooting" of the liberals, including those in Congress, who Agnew said cared nothing for the blue- and white-collar workers, the "Forgotten Man of American politics". Addressing the California Republican Convention in San Diego, Agnew targeted "the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club'--the 'Hopeless, Hysterical, Hypochondriacs of History'."[156] He warned that candidates of any party who espoused radical views should be voted out, a reference to New York Senator Charles Goodell, who was on the ballot that November, and who opposed the Vietnam War. Believing that the strategy was working, Nixon met with Agnew at the White House on September 24, and urged him to continue.
Nixon wanted to get rid of Goodell, a Republican who had been appointed by Governor Rockefeller after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and who had shifted considerably to the left while in office. Goodell could be sacrificed as there was a Conservative Party candidate, James Buckley, who might win the seat. Nixon did not want to be seen as engineering the defeat of a fellow Republican, and did not have Agnew go to New York until after Nixon left on a European trip, hoping Agnew would be perceived as acting on his own. After dueling long-distance with Goodell over the report of the Scranton Commission on campus violence (Agnew considered it too permissive), Agnew gave a speech in New York in which, without naming names, he made it clear he supported Buckley. That Nixon was behind the machinations did not remain secret long, as both Agnew and Nixon adviser Murray Chotiner disclosed it; Goodell stated he still believed he had Nixon's support. Although it was by then deemed unlikely the Republicans could gain control of the Senate, both Nixon and Agnew went on the campaign trail for the final days before the election. The outcome was disappointing: Republicans gained only two seats in the Senate, and lost eleven governorships. For Agnew, one bright spot was Goodell's defeat by Buckley in New York, but he was disappointed when his former chief of staff, Charles Blair, failed to unseat Governor Marvin Mandel, Agnew's successor and a Democrat, in Maryland.
Re-election in 1972 Through 1971, it was uncertain if Agnew would be retained on the ticket as Nixon sought a second term in 1972. Neither Nixon nor his aides were enamored of Agnew's independence and outspokenness, and were less than happy at Agnew's popularity among conservatives suspicious of Nixon. The President considered replacing him with Treasury Secretary John Connally, a Democrat and former Governor of Texas. For his part, Agnew was unhappy with many of Nixon's stances, especially in foreign policy, disliking Nixon's rapprochement with China (on which Agnew was not consulted) and believing that the Vietnam War could be won with sufficient force. Even after Nixon announced his re-election bid at the start of 1972, it was unclear if Agnew would be his running mate, and it was not until July 21 that Nixon asked Agnew and the vice president accepted. A public announcement was made the following day.
Spiro Agnew congratulates launch control after the launch of
Apollo 17 in 1972
Nixon instructed Agnew to avoid personal attacks on the press and the Democratic presidential nominee, South Dakota Senator George McGovern, to stress the positives of the Nixon administration, and not to comment on what might happen in 1976. At the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Agnew was greeted as a hero by delegates who saw him as the party's future. After being nominated for a second term, Agnew delivered an acceptance speech focused on the administration's accomplishments, and avoided his usual slashing invective, but he condemned McGovern for supporting busing, and alleged that McGovern, if elected, would beg the North Vietnamese for the return of American prisoners of war. The Watergate break-in was a minor issue in the campaign; for once, Agnew's exclusion from Nixon's inner circle worked in his favor, as he knew nothing of the matter until reading of it in the press, and upon learning from Jeb Magruder that administration officials were responsible for the break-in, cut off discussion of the matter. He viewed the break-in as foolish, and felt that both major parties routinely spied on each other. Nixon had instructed Agnew not to attack McGovern's initial running mate, Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton, and after Eagleton withdrew amid revelations concerning past mental health treatment, Nixon renewed those instructions for former ambassador Sargent Shriver, who had become the new candidate for vice president.
Nixon took the high road in the campaign, but still wanted McGovern attacked for his positions, and the task fell in part to Agnew. The vice president told the press he was anxious to discard the image he had earned as a partisan campaigner in 1968 and 1970, and wanted to be perceived as conciliatory. He defended Nixon on Watergate, and when McGovern alleged that the Nixon administration was the most corrupt in history, made a speech in South Dakota, describing McGovern as a "desperate candidate who can't seem to understand that the American people don't want a philosophy of defeat and self-hate put upon them".
The race was never close, as the McGovern/Shriver ticket's campaign was effectively over before it even began, and the Nixon/Agnew ticket won 49 states and over 60 percent of the vote in gaining re-election; Massachusetts and the District of Columbia being alone in the Nixon/Agnew ticket not carrying them. Trying to position himself as the front-runner for 1976, Agnew campaigned widely for Republican candidates, something Nixon would not do. Despite Agnew's efforts, Democrats easily held both houses of Congress, gaining two seats in the Senate, though the Republicans gained twelve in the House.
Criminal investigation and resignation In early 1972, George Beall, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, opened an investigation of corruption in Baltimore County, involving public officials, architects, engineering firms, and paving contractors.[165] Beall's target was the current political leadership in Baltimore County. There were rumors that Agnew might be involved, which Beall initially discounted; Agnew had not been county executive since December 1966, so any wrongdoing potentially committed while he held that office could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired. As part of the investigation, Lester Matz's engineering firm was served with a subpoena for documents, and through his counsel he sought immunity in exchange for cooperation in the investigation. Matz had been kicking back to Agnew five percent of the value of contracts received through his influence, first county contracts during his term in Towson, and subsequently state contracts while Agnew was governor.[165]
Investigative reporters and Democratic operatives had pursued rumors that Agnew had been corrupt during his years as a Maryland official, but they had not been able to substantiate them. In February 1973, Agnew heard of the investigation and had Attorney General Richard Kleindienst contact Beall. The vice president's personal attorney, George White, visited Beall, who stated that Agnew was not under investigation, and that prosecutors would do their best to protect Agnew's name. In June, Matz's attorney disclosed to Beall that his client could show that Agnew not only had been corrupt, but that payments to him had continued into his vice presidency. The statute of limitations would not prevent Agnew from being prosecuted for these later payments. On July 3, Beall informed the new Attorney General, Elliot Richardson. At the end of the month Nixon, through his chief of staff, Alexander Haig, was informed. Agnew had already met with both Nixon and Haig to assert his innocence. On August 1, Beall sent a letter to Agnew's attorney, formally advising that the vice president was under investigation for tax fraud and corruption. Matz was prepared to testify that he had met with Agnew at the White House and given him $10,000 in cash Another witness, Jerome B. Wolff, head of Maryland's road commission, had extensive documentation that detailed, as Beall put it, "every corrupt payment he participated in with then-Governor Agnew".[165]
Richardson, whom Nixon had ordered to take personal responsibility for the investigation, met with Agnew and his attorneys on August 6 to outline the case, but Agnew denied culpability, saying the selection of Matz's firm had been routine, and the money campaign contributions. The story broke in The Wall Street Journal later that day. Agnew publicly proclaimed his innocence and on August 8 held a press conference at which he called the stories "damned lies". Nixon, at a meeting on August 7, assured Agnew of his complete confidence, but Haig visited Agnew at his office and suggested that if the charges could be sustained, Agnew might want to take action prior to his indictment. By this time, the Watergate investigation that would lead to Nixon's resignation was well advanced, and for the next two months, fresh revelations in each scandal were almost daily fare in the newspapers.
Under increasing pressure to resign, Agnew took the position that a sitting vice president could not be indicted and met with Speaker of the House Carl Albert on September 25, asking for an investigation. He cited as precedent an 1826 House investigation of Vice President John C. Calhoun, who was alleged to have taken improper payments while a cabinet member. Albert, second in line to the presidency under Agnew, responded that it would be improper for the House to act in a matter before the courts. Agnew also filed a motion to block any indictment on the grounds that he had been prejudiced by improper leaks from the Justice Department, and tried to rally public opinion, giving a speech before a friendly audience in Los Angeles asserting his innocence and attacking the prosecution. Nevertheless, Agnew entered into negotiations for a plea bargain on the condition that he would not serve jail time.[178] He wrote in his memoirs that he entered the plea bargain because he was worn out from the extended crisis, to protect his family, and because he feared he could not get a fair trial. He made his decision on October 5, and plea negotiations took place over the following days. On October 9, Agnew visited Nixon at the White House and informed the President of his impending resignation.
On October 10, 1973, Agnew appeared before the federal court in Baltimore, and pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to one felony charge, tax evasion, for the year 1967. Richardson agreed that there would be no further prosecution of Agnew, and released a 40-page summary of the evidence. Agnew was fined $10,000 and placed on three years' unsupervised probation. At the same time, Agnew submitted a formal letter of resignation to the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, and sent a letter to Nixon stating he was resigning in the best interest of the nation. Nixon responded with a letter concurring that the resignation was necessary to avoid a lengthy period of division and uncertainty, and applauding Agnew for his patriotism and dedication to the welfare of the United States. House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, who would be Agnew's successor as vice president (and Nixon's as president) recalled that he heard the news while on the House floor and his first reaction was disbelief, his second sadness.
Post-resignation Subsequent career: 1973''1990 Soon after his resignation, Agnew moved to his summer home at Ocean City. To cover urgent tax and legal bills, and living expenses, he borrowed $200,000 from his friend Frank Sinatra. He had hoped he could resume a career as a lawyer, but in 1974, the Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred him, calling him "morally obtuse".[183] To earn his living, he founded a business consultancy, Pathlite Inc., which in the following years attracted a widespread international clientele.[5] One deal concerned a contract for the supply of uniforms to the Iraqi Army, involving negotiations with Saddam Hussein and Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania.[5]
Agnew pursued other business interests: an unsuccessful land deal in Kentucky, and an equally fruitless partnership with golfer Doug Sanders over a beer distributionship in Texas. In 1976 he published a novel, The Canfield Decision, about an American vice president's troubled relationship with his president. The book received mixed reviews, but was commercially successful, with Agnew receiving $100,000 for serialization rights alone. The book landed Agnew in controversy; his fictional counterpart, George Canfield, refers to "Jewish cabals and Zionist lobbies" and their hold over the American media, a charge which Agnew, while on a book tour, asserted was true in real life.[187] This brought complaints from Seymour Graubard, of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and a rebuke from President Ford, then campaigning for re-election.[188] Agnew denied any antisemitism or bigotry: "My contention is that routinely the American news media ... favors the Israeli position and does not in a balanced way present the other equities".[189] Also in 1976, Agnew announced that he was establishing a charitable foundation "Education for Democracy", but nothing more was heard of this after B'nai B'rith accused it of being a front for Agnew's anti-Israeli views.
In 1977 Agnew was wealthy enough to move to a new home at The Springs Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, and shortly afterwards to repay the Sinatra loan. That year, in a series of televised interviews with British TV host David Frost, Nixon claimed that he had had no direct role in the processes that had led to Agnew's resignation and implied that his vice president had been hounded by the liberal media: "He made mistakes ... but I do not think for one minute that Spiro Agnew consciously felt that he was violating the law".
In 1980, Agnew wrote to Fahd bin Abdulaziz, at the time Crown Prince and de facto Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, claiming that he had been bled dry by attacks on him by Zionists, whom he blamed for forcing him out of office. He requested an interest-free three-year loan of $2 million, to be deposited in a Swiss bank account, on which the interest would be available to Agnew. He stated that he would use the funds to "continue my effort to inform the American people of their (i.e., Zionists') control of the media and other influential sectors of American society." He also congratulated the crown prince on his call for jihad against Israel, whose declaration of Jerusalem as its capital he characterized as "the final provocation". A month later he thanked the crown prince for giving him "the resources to continue the battle against the Zionist community here in the U.S."[191]
Rancho Mirage, California, Agnew's home from 1977
In 1980, Agnew published a memoir, Go Quietly ... or Else. In it, he protested his total innocence of the charges that had brought his resignation. His assertions of innocence were undermined when his former lawyer George White testified that his client had admitted statehouse bribery to him, saying it had been going on "for a thousand years".[193] Agnew also made a new claim: that he resigned because he had been warned by White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig to "go quietly" or face an unspoken threat of possible assassination. Haig denied the story, saying that it was "preposterous", and the Agnew aide who supposedly reported this warning to Agnew also denied it, saying there was "never any threat of bodily harm". Agnew biographer Joseph P. Coffey describes the claim as "absurd".
After the publication of Go Quietly, Agnew largely disappeared from public view. In a rare TV interview in 1980, he advised young people not to go into politics because too much was expected of those in high public office.[5] Students of Professor John F. Banzhaf III from the George Washington University Law School found three residents of the state of Maryland willing to put their names on a case that sought to have Agnew repay the state $268,482, the amount it was said he had taken in bribes, including interest and penalties, as a public employee. In 1981, a judge ruled that "Mr. Agnew had no lawful right to this money under any theory," and ordered him to pay the state $147,500 for the kickbacks and $101,235 in interest.[195] After two unsuccessful appeals by Agnew, he finally paid the sum in 1983.[196] In 1989, Agnew applied unsuccessfully for this sum to be treated as tax-deductible.[193]
Agnew also was briefly in the news in 1987, when as the plaintiff in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, he revealed information about his then-recent business activities through his company, Pathlite, Inc. Among other activities, Agnew arranged contracts in Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, and represented a conglomerate based in South Korea, a German aircraft manufacturer, a French company that made uniforms, and a dredging company from Greece. He also represented the Hoppmann Corporation, an American company attempting to arrange for communications work in Argentina. He also discussed with local businessmen a potential concert by Frank Sinatra in Argentina. Agnew wrote in court papers "I have one utility, and that's the ability to penetrate to the top people."[5]
Final years and death For the remainder of his life, Agnew kept distant from news media and Washington politics. Stating he felt "totally abandoned", Agnew declined to take any and all phone calls from President Nixon.[197] When Nixon died in 1994, his daughters invited Agnew to attend the funeral at Yorba Linda, California. At first he refused, still bitter over how he had been treated by the White House in his final days as vice president; over the years he had rejected various overtures from the Nixon camp to mend fences. He was persuaded to accept the invitation, and received a warm welcome there from his former colleagues. "I decided after twenty years of resentment to put it aside", he said. A year later, Agnew appeared at the Capitol in Washington for the dedication of a bust of him, to be placed with those of other vice presidents. Agnew commented: "I am not blind or deaf to the fact that some people feel that ... the Senate by commissioning this bust is giving me an honor I don't deserve. I would remind these people that ... this ceremony has less to do with Spiro Agnew than with the office I held".
On September 16, 1996, Agnew collapsed at his summer home in Ocean City, Maryland. He was taken to Atlantic General Hospital, where he died the following evening. The cause of death was undiagnosed acute leukemia. Agnew remained fit and active into his seventies, playing golf and tennis regularly, and was scheduled to play tennis with a friend on the day of his death. The funeral, at Timonium, Maryland, was mainly confined to family; Buchanan and some of Agnew's former Secret Service detail also attended to pay their final respects.[201] In recognition of his service as vice president, an honor guard of the combined military services fired a 21-gun salute at the graveside.[202] Agnew's wife Judith survived him by 16 years, dying at Rancho Mirage on June 20, 2012.[13]
Legacy At the time of his death, Agnew's legacy was perceived largely in negative terms. The circumstances of his fall from public life, particularly in the light of his declared dedication to law and order, did much to engender cynicism and distrust towards politicians of every stripe. His disgrace led to a greater degree of care in the selection of potential vice presidents. Most of the running mates selected by the major parties after 1972 were seasoned politicians'--Walter Mondale, George H. W. Bush, Lloyd Bentsen, Al Gore, Jack Kemp, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden'--some of whom themselves became their party's nominee for president.
Some recent historians have seen Agnew as important in the development of the New Right, arguing that he should be honored alongside the acknowledged founding fathers of the movement such as Goldwater and Reagan; Victor Gold, Agnew's former press secretary, considered him the movement's "John the Baptist". Goldwater's crusade in 1964, at the height of Johnsonian liberalism, came too early, but by the time of Agnew's election, liberalism was on the wane, and as Agnew moved to the right after 1968, the country moved with him. Agnew's fall shocked and saddened conservatives, but it did not inhibit the growth of the New Right. Agnew, the first suburban politician to achieve high office, helped to popularize the view that much of the national media was controlled by elitist and effete liberals. Levy noted that Agnew "helped recast the Republicans as a Party of 'Middle Americans' and, even in disgrace, reinforced the public's distrust of government."
For Agnew himself, despite his rise from his origins in Baltimore to next in line to the presidency, "there could be little doubt that history's judgment was already upon him, the first Vice President of the United States to have resigned in disgrace. All that he achieved or sought to achieve in his public life ... had been buried in that tragic and irrefutable act".
Levy sums up the "might-have-been" of Agnew's career thus:
It is not a far stretch to imagine that if Agnew had contested corruption charges half as hard as Nixon denied culpability for Watergate '' as Goldwater and several other stalwart conservatives wanted him to '' today we might be speaking of Agnew-Democrats and Agnewnomics, and deem Agnew the father of modern conservatism.
See also References Notes
^ "Athens rules out pressure by U.S." The New York Times. October 10, 1971. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017 . Retrieved January 28, 2018 . ^ Moskos, Peter C.; Moskos, Charles C. (2017). Greek Americans: Struggle and Success. With an introduction by Michael Dukakis. Routledge. pp. 118''19. ISBN 978-1-351-51669-3. ^ a b c d e f g "Spiro T. Agnew, Ex-Vice President, Dies at 77". The New York Times. September 18, 1996. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017 . Retrieved August 16, 2017 . ^ a b Martin, Douglas (June 27, 2012). "Judy Agnew, Wife of Vice President, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 1, 2017 . Retrieved August 18, 2017 . ^ "Nation: Running Mate's Mate". Time. August 23, 1968. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010 . Retrieved January 3, 2010 . ^ "Spiro T. Agnew, 39th Vice President (1969''1973)". United States Senate. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017 . Retrieved August 22, 2017 . ^ "Primary Election Returns, September 13, 1966: Governor of Maryland". Maryland State Archives. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017 . Retrieved August 24, 2017 . ^ Gallagher, Joseph (October 18, 1998). "The Last Time Md. Elected a Republican, 1966". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017 . Retrieved August 24, 2017 . ^ "General Election Returns, November 8, 1966: Governor of Maryland". Maryland State Archives. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017 . Retrieved August 24, 2017 . ^ Zelizer, Julian E. (May 5, 2016). "Fifty Years Ago, the Government Said Black Lives Matter". Boston Review. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017 . Retrieved August 28, 2017 . ^ Bernstein, Adam (March 10, 2011). "David Broder, 81, Dies; Set 'Gold Standard' for Political Journalism". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017 . Retrieved September 2, 2017 . ^ Woodward, Bob (2016). The Last of the President's Men. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-5011-1645-2. ^ Lance Morrow (September 30, 1996). "Naysayer to the nattering nabobs". Time. Archived from the original on December 1, 2013 . Retrieved October 11, 2017 . (subscription required) ^ a b c Sandomir, Richard (January 18, 2017). "George Beall, Prosecutor Who Brought Down Agnew, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019 . Retrieved September 7, 2017 . ^ "Bag Man Episode 7 Sources". NBC News. Archived from the original on October 19, 2019 . Retrieved October 18, 2019 . ^ "May 2, 1974". Archived from the original on November 6, 2018 . Retrieved November 2, 2018 . ^ Safire, William (May 24, 1976). "Spiro Agnew and the Jews". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017 . Retrieved September 7, 2017 . ^ "Ford Says Agnew is Wrong on Jews". The New York Times. June 26, 1976. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017 . Retrieved September 7, 2017 . ^ "Agnew Asserts He Is Not a Bigot; Defends Right to Criticize Israel". The New York Times. July 31, 1976. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017 . Retrieved September 7, 2017 . ^ Duke, Alan (November 27, 2016). "History Uncovered: Secret Letter Shows How U.S. Vice President Got Saudi Payoff For Anti-Israel Views". Lead Stories. Archived from the original on December 7, 2020 . Retrieved December 6, 2020 . ^ a b Clines, Francis X. (September 19, 1996). "Spiro T. Agnew, Point Man for Nixon Who Resigned Vice Presidency, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017 . Retrieved September 7, 2017 . ^ Saperstein, Saundra (April 28, 1981). "Agnew Told to Pay State $248,735 for Funds He Accepted". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on October 18, 2019 . Retrieved October 18, 2019 . ^ "Agnew Gives $268,482 Check to Maryland in Graft Lawsuit". The New York Times. UPI. January 5, 1983. Archived from the original on June 13, 2018 . Retrieved June 7, 2018 . ^ "U.S. Senate: Spiro T. Agnew, 39th Vice President (1969-1973)". www.senate.gov . Retrieved March 7, 2021 . ^ Barnes, Bart. "Nixon Vice President Spiro T. Agnew Dies". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017 . Retrieved September 26, 2017 . ^ "Spiro Agnew is Buried With Almost No Fanfare". The Standard-Times. New Bedford, Mass. Associated Press. September 22, 1996. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017 . Retrieved September 7, 2017 . Bibliography
Agnew, Spiro T. (1980). Go Quietly ... or Else. New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc. ISBN 978-0-688-03668-3. Boller, Paul F. (1984). Presidential Campaigns. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-503420-2. Chester, Lewis; Hodgson, Geoffrey; Page, Bruce (1969). American Melodrama: The Presidential Campaign of 1968. New York: The Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-670-11991-2. Coffey, Joseph P. (2015). Spiro Agnew and the Rise of the Republican Right. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-4141-5. Cohen, Richard M.; Witcover, Jules (1974). A Heartbeat Away: The Investigation and Resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew . New York: The Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-553-06888-7. Coyne, James R. Jr. (1972). The Impudent Snobs: Agnew vs. the Intellectual Establishment. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House. ISBN 978-0-87000-154-3. Csicsek, Alex (2011). "Spiro T. Agnew and the Burning of Baltimore". In Elfenbein, Jessica (ed.). Baltimore '68:Riots and Rebirth of an American City. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-4399-0662-0. Feerick, John D. (2014) [1976]. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Application (Third ed.). New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-5200-8. Kabaservice, Geoffrey (2012). Rule and Ruin: the Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-976840-0. Levy, Peter B. (Winter 2013). "Spiro Agnew, the Forgotten Americans and the Rise of the New Right". The Historian. 75 (4): 707''739. doi:10.1111/hisn.12018. S2CID 143087991. Maddow, Rachel; Yarvitz, Michael (2020). Bag Man. New York: Crown Publishing. ISBN 978-0-593-13668-3. Manchester, William (1975). The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America 1932''1972. London: Michael Joseph. ISBN 978-0-7181-1386-5. Troy, Gil; Schlesinger, Arthur M.; Israel, Fred L. (2012). History of American Presidential Elections, 1789''2008. Vol. 3 (4 ed.). New York: Facts on File. ISBN 978-0-8160-8220-9. Wepman, Dennis (October 2001). Carnes, Mark C.; Barraty, John (eds.). "Agnew, Spiro T." American National Biography Online . Retrieved October 3, 2017 . Witcover, Jules (1972). White Knight: The Rise of Spiro Agnew . New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-47216-4. Witcover, Jules (2007). Very Strange Bedfellows. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-470-5. External links United States Congress. "Spiro Agnew (id: A000059)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. FBI files on Spiro AgnewPapers of Spiro T. Agnew at the University of Maryland LibrariesProsecution's summary of the evidence against AgnewAppearances on C-SPAN
Zelensky Presses Companies'--Microsoft, SAP And Oracle'--To Punish Russia More
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 15:02
ToplineUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Microsoft, Oracle and SAP'--who have all announced significant steps to roll back business operations in Russia'--to take further action against Russia Sunday, but Oracle said it's already done everything possible in Russia despite Zelensky's plea.
(C) Provided by Forbes President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference in Kyiv on Saturday. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Key FactsTagging Microsoft, Oracle and SAP's official accounts, Zelensky tweeted Sunday the technology companies must ''stop supporting'' their Russian products, asserting the company's Russian pullbacks were '''half' decisions.'''
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced the suspension of new sales in Russia, Oracle said it ''suspended all operations'' in the country and SAP said it was ''stopping business in Russia aligned with sanctions'' and pausing all sales, joining dozens of international companies in severing business ties with Russia.
Zelensky, who hadn't named individual companies for their measures before Sunday's tweet'--which quickly went viral, with 15,000 retweets in under three hours'--appears to be calling on the tech companies to suspend Russian access to their software and services.
Oracle responded to Zelensky's tweet Sunday afternoon, saying it had already ''ended all operations'' in Russia, listing the measures it has taken, including cutting off access to customer support and access to software updates.
Microsoft and SAP did not immediately respond to Forbes' request for comment and have yet to publicly address the matter.
Crucial QuoteZelensky said, ''Now can be no 'half' decisions or 'halftones'! There is only black and white, good or evil! You are either for peace or support the bloody Russian aggressor to kill Ukrainian children and women. @Microsoft @Oracle @SAP, stop supporting your products in Russia, stop the war!''
Key BackgroundThough Zelensky has avoided publicly calling out individual companies, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Federov has actively lobbied American companies to support Ukraine and cut Russian business ties. Federov called on SAP to go further in severing Russian ties last week in a tweet after SAP announced its move, saying the suspension of sales were ''not enough,'' calling on the company to ''stop support'' of its products in Russia as it continues its invasion. In another tweet, Federov asked Microsoft to block Russian access to its Azure, GitHub and Skype services.
TangentZelensky praised Meta in another Sunday tweet, thanking the Facebook and Instagram parent company that restricted access to Russian state media for helping Ukraine in the ''fierce battle in the informational space.''
Further ReadingDeutsche Bank, JPMorgan, YouTube'--Here Are The Companies Cutting Ties With Russia Over Ukraine Invasion (Forbes)
Saudi Arabia wants to sell its oil in yuan, not dollars '-- Quartz
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 15:00
Not for the first time, China is attempting to buy oil in yuan rather than dollars, and now it may have found a willing seller. Saudi Arabia, which sells a quarter of its exports to China, is considering making these sales in yuan, the Wall Street Journal reported.
These negotiations, which have surged and ebbed over the last half-decade, are not likely to fructify soon. For one, Saudi Arabia pegs its riyal to the dollar, so any damage inadvertently dealt to the dollar will hurt its own currency. But the US' geopolitical hegemony is based so significantly on the petrodollar'--with 80% of global oil transactions denominated in dollars'--that the question is ever-present. What would the world look like if the petroyuan became the oil industry's currency of choice?
The US' economic dominance was built on the petrodollarThe dollar's robust status as a reserve currency owes much to the strength of the US economy. But it also derives from the dollar's ample liquidity, which is partially a result of countries maintaining pools of dollar reserves to buy oil.
That link was forged in the early 1970s, not long after president Richard Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold. In 1974, Washington and Riyadh struck a deal by which Saudi Arabia could buy US treasury bills before they were auctioned. In return, Saudi Arabia would sell its oil in dollars'--not only enlarging the currency's liquidity but also using those dollars to buy US debt and products. The political economist David Spiro, in his book The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony, described how Saudi Arabia convinced other OPEC nations to invoice oil in dollars, rather than in a basket of different currencies.
If the yuan displaces the dollar to a sufficient degree in the annual $14 trillion global oil trade'--although what that sufficient degree would be is difficult to say'--countries will have to maintain yuan reserves instead. (At the moment, 2.48% of the world's reserves are held in yuan, compared to 55% for the dollar, according to IMF data.) Oil producers receiving yuan would have to spend it on Chinese debt and imports, further strengthening China's economy, but if the world was particularly awash in yuan, other trade might start to be yuan-denominated: metals, say, or soybeans.
The effect on both China and the US would be profound. To preserve the yuan's new role, China would have to ensure political stability and financial transparency, of the kind the US promised in the 20th century. The US' abilities to issue dollar debt and earn dollars for exports would decline, so its economy would shrink. In this situation, the dollar's weakening may trigger a vicious cycle: capital flight away from the dollar and towards the yuan, debilitating the dollar further.
These events, experts say, are unlikely to transpire. Analyzing these contingencies, though, is a useful reminder of how much of our modern moment'--from the success of sanctions to the progress of green energy'--is predicated on the strength of the US dollar.
Vaccinated people more likely to support harsh anti-Russia measures '' poll '-- RT World News
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 15:00
A survey conducted in Canada suggests the unvaxxed have much more diverse opinions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict
A survey conducted by polling firm EKOS shows that Canadians who have received ''three or more doses'' of a Covid-19 vaccine tended to express significantly more support for aggressive anti-Russian measures with regard to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine.
The poll was conducted between March 9 and 13, and collected responses from a random sample of 1,035 Canadians.
Overwhelmingly, more than 80% of the vaccinated respondents supported expanding sanctions, seizing assets of Russian nationals associated with President Vladimir Putin, cutting off shipments of Russian oil, and sending military equipment to Ukraine. Over half of the group agreed with the idea of sending military jets to the Ukrainian Army, and 30% thought Canada should dispatch its own military forces to Ukraine.
Furthermore, 82% of vaccinated respondents felt that Canada should impose tougher sanctions on Russia even if it means they would have to suffer higher prices and slower economic growth at home.
On the other hand, respondents who said they were unvaccinated seem to have differing opinions, with the majority (52%) saying they don't support any of the anti-Russian measures mentioned by the pollsters, and 75% saying they refuse to pay the price by having prices at home skyrocket.
The poll also revealed how the two groups feel about the reasons for the conflict, with 88% of vaccinated respondents saying the repression of Russian speakers in the Donbass region does not justify Russia's actions in Ukraine. The unvaccinated, however, are more split on the question, with 26% saying Russia's military operation is justified, 27% saying it isn't, and 35% saying they neither agree nor disagree with it.
The vaccinated also say, almost unanimously (88%), that Russia is guilty of war crimes in Ukraine, while only 32% of unvaxxed respondents agree, and 42% say they don't believe it is happening at all.
EKOS President Frank Graves said he found the poll results alarming, suggesting that vaccine refusers were ''much more sympathetic to Russia,'' and that it showcased the ''highly corrosive influences of disinformation.''
''This is definitely a new and bluntly insidious force that's contributing to polarization and disinformation and poor decision-making. And it doesn't seem to be going away. Things are getting worse,'' Graves said, as reported by the Toronto Star.
''I don't think this is because those people had an ingrained sympathy to the Russians. They're reading this online, they're consuming this from the same sources that were giving them the anti-vax stuff.''
Meanwhile, others have interpreted the poll results as a prime example of how quickly mainstream media narratives can change and how easily the masses transfer zealous support from one topic to another according to the crisis of the day.
'Pizzagate' shooter sentenced to 4 years in prison, judge describes 'breathtaking' recklessness - ABC News
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:58
Edgar Maddison Welch was sentenced to 48 months in prison.
By GENEVA SANDS
June 23, 2017, 12:44 AM
' 3 min read
— -- Edgar Maddison Welch, who fired shots in a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant in December, was sentenced to four years in prison for federal and local crimes.
Welch, 29, was arrested for firing an AR-15 inside the D.C. restaurant Comet Ping Pong, as he investigated an unfounded conspiracy theory dubbed "Pizzagate" that the restaurant was involved in a child sex-trafficking ring connected to Hillary Clinton.
Welch "carried a loaded AR-15 assault rifle and a revolver into a Northwest Washington pizza restaurant, scattering employees and customers, and fired his assault rifle into a door," the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C. said in a statement announcing the sentence.
Welch received four years for a federal charge of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition and two years for a District of Columbia charge of assault with a dangerous weapon, to be served concurrently. He was also sentenced to 36 months of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to the charges in March.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson called "the extent of the recklessness" of the defendant's actions "breathtaking" as she sentenced Welch on Thursday.
Jackson said she had no reason to doubt that Welch "thought" he was "being helpful," but said she could not "overstate" the concern that "other people will see what you have done and be inspired by it."
''No matter how well-intentioned, people are not allowed to take matters into their own hands,'' she said.
Upon his release from prison, Welch will receive a mental health assessment. He was ordered to stay away from Comet Ping Pong.
Welch's defense attorney, Dani Jahn, gave a passionate plea for a lighter sentence for her client, saying that 18 months would be a "strong sentence."
''He is extremely remorseful and it is sincere and it is significant,'' she added.
Welch spoke briefly in court, apologizing to everyone involved, including the restaurant staff.
Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis said in court that his staff was "brave" and that Welch caused him physical, emotional and financial harm.
''So many of us have suffered from the defendant's actions,'' he said.
ABC News' Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.
BIS joint pilot: Institutions can use CBDCs for international settlements
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:58
The experimental CBDC platform proved that the design approaches used to address three major issues of access, jurisdictional boundaries and governance were effective.
News Bank of International Settlement (BIS) Innovation Hub has completed an experimental central bank digital currency (CBDC) platform pilot for international settlement with the central banks of Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa.
The multi-national experimental CBDC project, dubbed Project Dunbar, has been developed to facilitate direct cross-border transactions between financial institutions using multiple currencies connected across multiple central banks.
The joint CBDC pilot was announced in September 2021, and a final report regarding the same was released on Tuesday. The experimental joint CBDC program turned out to be a success and proved financial institutions can use CBDCs issued by central banks to transact directly with each other on a shared platform
The project took several aspects into consideration before developing prototypes. Some of the key issues that the project is trying to solve include resolving cross-border remittance issues in accordance with the regulatory requirements and bringing in key payment infrastructure across national borders.
The project was successful in developing functioning prototypes and demonstrating practical solutions, establishing that the notion of multi-CBDCs was technically realistic. The prototypes proved that the design approaches used to address the three major issues of access, jurisdictional boundaries and governance were effective.
The developers of the project claimed that Project Dunbar illustrated how governance structures enforced by robust technology means can meet important concerns of trust and shared control. Andrew McCormack, head of the BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Singapore, said:
''Project Dunbar demonstrated that key concerns of trust and shared control can be addressed through governance mechanisms enforced by robust technological means, laying the foundation for the development of future global and regional platforms.''Related: BIS joins France and Switzerland's central banks on cross-border CBDC project
Prior to BIS innovation hub's multi-CBDC platform, the likes of Switzerland and France experimented with cross-border remittance in a joint venture for a digital euro. Now, the findings of the experimental CBDC program could aid in the adoption of CBDC international settlement for G-20 nations.
With over 95 nations currently working toward their sovereign digital currency, CBDC use for international settlements could become a reality, especially at a time when many governments are already looking to build alternatives for centralized payment gateway like SWIFT.
Jamaicans call for reparations as British royal couple arrives | Slavery News | Al Jazeera
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:57
Jamaican leaders demand apology and slavery reparations as Prince William and Kate visit as part of Caribbean tour.
Published On 22 Mar 2022 22 Mar 2022
Jamaican activists, as well as prominent professors, politicians and other leaders, have rejected a visit by the duke and duchess of Cambridge, calling on the United Kingdom to apologise and pay reparations for hundreds of years of slavery.
Britain's Prince William '' the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II '' and his wife Kate landed in the capital Kingston on Tuesday afternoon as part of a wider, week-long Caribbean tour.
The royal couple's trip coincides with the 60th anniversary of Jamaica's independence and the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It also comes at a time of growing scrutiny of colonial-era British conduct in the Caribbean and elsewhere.
In an open letter published on the weekend, 100 Jamaican leaders said they saw ''no reason to celebrate'' the Queen's coronation ''because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind''.
We've arrived in Jamaica 🇯🇲 pic.twitter.com/aMiNV8hY7B
'-- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) March 22, 2022
''During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonialization,'' the letter read.
Dozens of people also gathered on Tuesday outside the British High Commission in Kingston, singing traditional Rastafarian songs and holding banners with the phrase ''seh yuh sorry'' '' a local patois phrase urging Britain to apologise.
''I am a descendant of great African ancestors, I owe it to them to be here,'' customer service worker Hujae Hutchinson, 27, said at the rally, where activists read out 60 reasons for reparations.
''I want to make the British crown recognise that they have committed a great crime against the African people and that they must apologise and give back what they have taken from the ancestors.''
The royal couple's visit to Jamaica comes just months after Barbados in November officially became a republic, replacing the British monarch as its head of state and severing its last remaining colonial bonds nearly 400 years after the first English ships arrived at the Caribbean island.
While the country remains a republic within the Commonwealth, experts said its decision to break ties with the Queen could fuel republicanism in other countries, especially in Jamaica, where the two main political parties support breaking away from the monarchy completely.
Hundreds of thousands of enslaved African people toiled in Jamaica under more than 300 years of British rule and faced brutal conditions.
There were numerous bloody rebellions, with one woman called ''Queen Nanny'' leading a group of formerly enslaved Africans known as Jamaican Maroons, whose tactics became renowned and battered British forces. ''Queen Nanny'' remains the sole woman of Jamaica's eight national heroes.
In their letter on Sunday, the Jamaican leaders said they would be celebrating 60 years of freedom from the United Kingdom '' but stressed that an apology was ''necessary to begin a process of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and compensation''.
Jamaica lawmaker Mike Henry, who has long led an effort to obtain reparations, also told The Associated Press news agency that an apology is only the first step for what he described as ''abuse of human life and labour''.
''An apology really admits that there is some guilt,'' he said.
Protesters gathered in Kingston to demand that the UK pay reparations for centuries of slavery [Kate Chappell/Reuters]Prince William and Kate first visited Belize during the weekend, and after two days in Jamaica they will travel to the Bahamas.
Even before the pair left the UK, a protest by a few dozen villagers at a planned Belize tour stop prompted organisers to change Sunday's itinerary in the country, known until 1973 as British Honduras.
On Monday, they visited a British military training camp in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve in central Belize, and Prince William later pointed out that the country had joined others in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
''Today, we think of those struggling in Ukraine and we stand with them in solidarity,'' he said during a formal dinner on the grounds of the Cahal Pech Archaeological Reserve with Belize's prime minister.
Food bank users declining potatoes as cooking costs too high, says Iceland boss | Cost of living crisis | The Guardian
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:57
Some food bank users are declining items such as potatoes as they cannot afford the energy to boil them, the boss of the supermarket Iceland has said, as the soaring cost of living pushes vulnerable groups to the financial brink.
Richard Walker, who says the 1,000-stores in the budget chain are in the ''poorest communities in the UK'', also called on the government to help businesses that are being forced to increase prices significantly as their own costs dramatically increase.
''I think the cost of living crisis is the single most important domestic issue we are facing as a country,'' the Iceland managing director told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. ''It is incredibly concerning. We are hearing of some food bank users declining products such as potatoes and other root veg because they can't afford to boil them.''
The cost of living continues to rapidly increase, with inflation rising to a three-decade high of 6.2% in February, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, fuelled by the rising cost of petrol and diesel and a wide range of goods from food to toys and games.
Annual food price inflation was 5.1%, the ONS said. Food prices rose by 0.9% between January and February '' the largest monthly increase since 2012.
Walker said that, in reality, the inflation on food was actually ''pushing 10%'', and was already higher on items such as milk because of the cost of all the processes involved in producing it.
He said that while some issues affecting inflation, such as supply shortages, would eventually ease, others would not, and, ultimately, the age of cheap food shopping in the UK might be over.
''Systemically, if you look at it you could argue food has been too cheap for too long but [price increases] have to be matched in wages and productivity and everything in between,'' he said. ''We are doing everything we can, our customers are depending on us for that value, but of course the pressure is relentless and coming at us from all angles at the moment. We are not an endless sponge that can soak it all up.''
Walker said the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who is to announce a mini budget in his spring statement on Wednesday, could alleviate the pressure on businesses and help consumers. He suggested the energy price cap on households could be extended to businesses, potentially paid for by a ''windfall tax'' on the rocketing profits of energy companies. That could mean an extra £100m saving on consumers, he said, promising that Iceland ''would pass on every penny''.
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Walker also said the government could perhaps delay the introduction of the increase in national insurance, and postpone the introduction of environmental taxes, which he said would cost Iceland £16m this year.
''We have to focus on business as well because, ultimately, it is the consumer that is affected by the squeeze on cash and profits,'' he said.
The British Retail Consortium said its shop price index, which tracks the cost of basic goods, showed a smaller increase than the overall food inflation rate in February.
''This suggests retailers are successfully managing to limit cost increases for many essential groceries,'' its chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said. ''Many supermarkets have expanded their value ranges to support individuals and households on lower incomes. Nonetheless, with retailers struggling to absorb these higher costs, shop prices look set to rise in the coming months.''
Walker said costs were rising across the entire supply chain from oil '' which affects the price of all food products '' to worker shortages, higher transportation costs and soaring electricity bills.
He also pointed to factors including shortages in the supply of fertiliser from Russia, sunflower oil from Ukraine, and a £20m increase in staff pay costs this year as the national minimum wage was raised.
Physiologically patterned weak magnetic fields applied over left frontal lobe increase acceptance of false statements as true - PubMed
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:55
doi: 10.1080/15368370802493545. Affiliations
Affiliation 1 Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. PMID: 19037785 DOI: 10.1080/15368370802493545 Item in Clipboard
M L Ross et al. Electromagn Biol Med . 2008 .
doi: 10.1080/15368370802493545. Affiliation 1 Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. PMID: 19037785 DOI: 10.1080/15368370802493545 Item in Clipboard
Abstract Fifty men and women were exposed to only one of four experimentally generated magnetic fields over the left prefrontal region (above the eyebrow) or to a sham field immediately after the words "true" or "false" were presented following statements of definitions of words for a "foreign language". Three of the patterns (25 Hz, 50 Hz, or burst-firing) with intensities between 1 and 10 microT were presented for 1 s during the refutation process (immediately after the offset of "true" or "false") for specific statements from a total of 28 statements. The fourth pattern was a variable approximately 7-10 Hz (10 nT) field generated from the circuitry that was present continuously during the entire experiment. When the statements were presented again, the groups who had received the burst-firing ("limbic") or 25 Hz pulsed magnetic fields during the refutation process accepted about twice the number of false statements as true compared to those exposed to the 50 Hz field or sham-field conditions. The treatments did not significantly affect the numbers of true statements accepted as false. These results suggest that the appropriately pulsed magnetic field during the refutation process of what one has been told or has heard can increase the probability a person will accept a false statement as true.
Similar articles Neural differences in the processing of true and false sentences: insights into the nature of 'truth' in language comprehension. Marques JF, Canessa N, Cappa S. Marques JF, et al. Cortex. 2009 Jun;45(6):759-68. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2008.07.004. Epub 2008 Nov 8. Cortex. 2009. PMID: 19059586
Altered blood chemistry and hippocampal histomorphology in adult rats following prenatal exposure to physiologically-patterned, weak (50-500 nanoTesla range) magnetic fields. St-Pierre LS, Mazzuchin A, Persinger MA. St-Pierre LS, et al. Int J Radiat Biol. 2008 Apr;84(4):325-35. doi: 10.1080/09553000801953300. Int J Radiat Biol. 2008. PMID: 18386197
Behavioral changes in adult rats after prenatal exposures to complex, weak magnetic fields. St-Pierre LS, Persinger MA. St-Pierre LS, et al. Electromagn Biol Med. 2008;27(4):355-64. doi: 10.1080/15368370802493396. Electromagn Biol Med. 2008. PMID: 19037784
Prenatal exposures to LTP-patterned magnetic fields: quantitative effects on specific limbic structures and acquisition of contextually conditioned fear. Whissell PD, Tsang EW, Mulligan BP, Persinger MA. Whissell PD, et al. Int J Neurosci. 2009;119(1):1-14. doi: 10.1080/00207450802480283. Int J Neurosci. 2009. PMID: 19116828
Cited by 2 articles Extremely Low-Frequency Magnetic Fields Exposure Measurement during Lessons in Elementary Schools. Park J, Jeong E, Seomun G. Park J, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jul 22;17(15):5284. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17155284. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020. PMID: 32707979 Free PMC article.
Life rhythm as a symphony of oscillatory patterns: electromagnetic energy and sound vibration modulates gene expression for biological signaling and healing. Muehsam D, Ventura C. Muehsam D, et al. Glob Adv Health Med. 2014 Mar;3(2):40-55. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2014.008. Glob Adv Health Med. 2014. PMID: 24808981 Free PMC article. Review. No abstract available.
DOJ Spied on Journalists' Emails Via Sealed Search Warrants & Non-Disclosure Orders
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:51
' Microsoft Corporation legal documents obtained by Project Veritas show that after a U.S. District Court Judge rejected the DOJ's argument to ignore Project Veritas' ''journalistic privileges,'' the DOJ went behind the judge's back to obtain an extension on two sealed non-disclosure orders from a magistrate judge to conceal the fact they already had unsupervised and unfettered access to privileged emails and contacts of eight Project Veritas journalists.' Judge Torres had ruled that prosecutors must operate under the supervision of a Special Master to ensure first amendment protections are upheld for Project Veritas journalists and their source material.' These documents reveal that the government not only ignored that order, but also attempted to hide the fact they had obtained emails for time periods far outside the scope of the investigation.[NEW YORK '' Mar. 22, 2022] Bombshell Microsoft Corporation legal documents released by Project Veritas reveal that President Biden's Department of Justice filed a series of secret warrants, orders, and a subpoena to surreptitiously collect privileged, and constitutionally protected, communications and contacts of eight Project Veritas journalists from Microsoft Corporation.
The Department of Justice then muzzled Microsoft from disclosing these orders via a series of secrecy orders signed by magistrates.
The documents further reveal the DOJ then went behind U.S. District Court Judge, Analisa Torres', back to obtain extensions on the gag-orders on Microsoft from magistrate judges after Judge Torres ruled Project Veritas was entitled to ''journalistic privileges.''
Despite multiple opportunities to do so, the DOJ has not publicly disclosed the orders, warrants, or subpoenas to Judge Torres or Special Master Judge Barbara Jones '' who was appointed by Judge Torres to protect Veritas' ''journalistic privileges'' from potential DOJ overreach. Judge Torres ruled that the DOJ's investigation must be overseen by Judge Jones and ordered the DOJ not to review any materials seized from Project Veritas without Judge Jones' approval.
Paul Calli, an attorney for Project Veritas, fiercely opposed the actions from the DOJ which he called an act of ''violence'' to the First Amendment.
In a motion filed Tuesday, Calli argued, ''By the time [Project Veritas] filed the Motion to Appoint a Special Master, the government already had the opportunity to review Project Veritas' journalistic and attorney-client privileged materials.'' Based on preliminary research data, the SDNY appears to be in possession of nearly 150K documents they should not have. In addition to the emails, the SDNY obtained over one thousand contacts from journalists that they also failed to disclose to Judge Torres or to the Special Master.
The surveillance culminated in a search warrant seeking every email sent to or from Project Veritas founder and CEO, James O'Keefe, for a three-month period, along with every contact he had ever saved.
According to an order the DOJ sought to keep secret, to justify obtaining access to journalists' emails, the Justice Department appears to have argued ''there is probable cause to believe the email account(s), maintained at premises controlled by Microsoft Corporation, USA, contain evidence, fruits, and instrumentalities of crime.''
Each order, warrant and subpoena were accompanied by a Non-Disclosure Orders (NDO) which barred Microsoft from disclosing the SDNY's surveillance for one year, claiming without evidence, that disclosure could lead to destruction of evidence by Project Veritas. Multiple NDOs were set to expire in January 2022.
On December 8, 2021, however, Judge Torres, over the opposition of the SDNY, granted Project Veritas' request to appoint a Special Master to supervise the SDNY's review of materials seized from journalists to protect the news organization's ''journalistic privileges,'' among other things.
Although the SDNY began issuing nearly weekly reports to the Special Master only a few days after Judge Torres' order, the SDNY has never submitted any report disclosing its surveillance of Project Veritas' emails to the Special Master, let alone provided the seized emails to the Special Master.
The SDNY's final act of secrecy was seeking yet another round of renewals, prompting Microsoft to point out in a scathing unfiled motion that the government's claims that Project Veritas might destroy evidence if the surveillance were disclosed were unsupportable.
Microsoft pointed out that the DOJ's investigation was already public and no proof that Project Veritas would destroy evidence had been offered by the SDNY.
The SDNY's spying campaign represents seemingly politically motivated investigation by President Biden's Department of Justice into Project Veritas' news gathering activities surrounding allegations against then-candidate, Joe Biden, made by his daughter, Ashley Biden, in her diary.
Huge solar flare ejected from sun could hit Earth in days, mess with power grid
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:50
Living
By Charlotte Edwards, The Sun
March 21, 2022 | 3:20pm
Space weather experts have spotted the sun ejecting a large mass of particles and think this could hit Earth in the next few days.
When ejections like this hit Earth's magnetic field, they can cause solar storms.
An ejection like this is known as a solar flare called a coronal mass ejection (CME).
A CME is a huge expulsion of plasma from the sun's outer layer, called the corona.
These expulsions shoot through space and can hit Earth.
Fortunately, the solar storm predicted for this Wednesday, March 23, is only likely to be a ''G1 minor,'' meaning you probably won't even notice it if it happens.
Experts at Spaceweather.com explained: ''Another CME is heading for Earth, and it's a little off target.
''A glancing blow (or near miss) is possible during the late hours of March 23rd, according to NOAA forecasters.
''This will be the 3rd time in the past week that a CME has almost landed a direct hit.
Illustration of a coronal mass ejection impacting the Earth's atmosphere. These events, CMEs for short, are powerful releases of solar charged particles (plasma) and magnetic field, travelling on the solar wind. When a CME hits Earth, it can cause a geomagnetic storm which disrupts the planet's magnetosphere, our radio transmissions and electrical power lines. Getty Images/Science Photo Libra A CME is a huge expulsion of plasma from the sun's outer layer, called the corona. These expulsions shoot through space and can hit Earth. Getty Images/Science Photo Libra''Even a near miss can produce bright Arctic auroras. Best case scenario for auroraphiles: A minor G1-class geomagnetic storm.''
The ''G1 minor'' category of solar storm could cause weak power grid fluctuations and have a small impact on satellite communications.
The Earth's magnetic field helps to protect us from the more extreme consequences of solar flares. Getty Images/Science Photo LibraA G1 storm can also confuse migrating animals that rely on the Earth's magnetic field for a sense of direction.
One good thing about solar storms is that they can produce very pretty natural light displays like the northern lights.
Those natural light displays are called auroras and are examples of the Earth's magnetosphere getting bombarded by solar wind, which creates the pretty green and blue displays.
Experts at Spaceweather.com explained: ''Another CME is heading for Earth, and it's a little off target.'' Getty ImagesThe Earth's magnetic field helps to protect us from the more extreme consequences of solar flares.
In 1989, a strong solar eruption shot so many electrically charged particles at Earth that the Canadian province of Quebec lost power for nine hours.
''A glancing blow (or near miss) is possible during the late hours of March 23rd, '' according to NOAA forecasters. Getty Images/Science Photo LibraAs well as causing issues for our tech on Earth, they can be deadly for an astronaut if they result in injury or interfere with mission control communications.
The sun is currently at the start of a new 11-year solar cycle, which usually sees eruptions and flares grow more intense and extreme.
This story originally appeared on the Sun and was reproduced here with permission.
Reuters removes TASS Russian news agency from its content marketplace | Reuters
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:49
The logo of Russian news agency TASS is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 (SPIEF 2017) in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comMarch 23 (Reuters) - Reuters has removed TASS from its business-to-business marketplace for customers, according to a Reuters message to staff on Wednesday, amid growing criticism of how Russia's state-owned news agency is portraying the war in Ukraine.
"We believe making TASS content available on Reuters Connect is not aligned with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles," Matthew Keen, interim CEO of Reuters, wrote in an internal memo to staff on Wednesday.
The Reuters Trust Principles, created in 1941 amid World War Two, commits Reuters to act with integrity, independence and freedom from bias.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comIn response to a request for comment from Reuters, TASS shared a letter that its CEO Sergei Mikhailov sent to Keen on Wednesday in which he said he was "extremely sorry to learn of Reuters' decision" and that he understood it was "influenced by the current world atmosphere.''
"TASS journalists conduct their work honestly and responsibly. Any unbiased analysis will confirm that the informational work of TASS, as a state news agency, is equitable, objective and sufficiently balanced, with no room for disinformation and propaganda fakes," he said.
The Russian news agency has been accused by some Western media and press freedom groups of spreading false claims and propaganda about the war in Ukraine.Since the invasion, tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter and pay TV services have restricted access to Russia state-owned media RT and Sputnik over concerns about spreading misinformation. RT and Sputnik have called restrictions placed on them by distributors, which include app stores and other social media services, unjustified censorship. read more
Early in March, photo agency Getty Images cut ties with TASS, according to a Forbes report.
A Getty spokesperson said by email: "In order to ensure the integrity of the content we distribute, we require that partners and contributors comply with our Editorial Policy."
She added that "Recent TASS content failed to meet those guidelines and ingestion of their content was suspended. We have notified them of a breach of our agreement and are terminating our relationship." She declined to specify which content fell short of its guidelines.
The Forbes story said TASS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters Connect allowed users, mostly news organizations, to access and share TASS content for a fee. Reuters Connect also offers the content of Reuters News and about 90 third-party providers, including Variety, USA Today and CNBC.
The Reuters newsroom operates independently of Reuters Connect.
The TASS partnership with the Reuters Connect platform was struck in 2020. In a June 1 press release that year, Michael Friedenberg, then president of Reuters, said having TASS join Reuters Connect was ''building upon our valued partnership.'' Mikhailov called the agreement ''truly a significant event.''
According to the press release, the TASS partnership with Reuters Connect offered customers "access to breaking news and exclusive video; videos on the Kremlin and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, as well as feature videos and general news."
Since the invasion, the partnership has sparked sharp criticism on social media. A Politico story published on March 20 cited unnamed Reuters journalists saying they were embarrassed by the company's partnership with TASS.
Reuters is owned by news and information company Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO).
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com Reporting by Kenneth Li and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Edward Tobin
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Wendy's employees accused of intentionally contaminating police officer's meal - TheBlaze
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:48
An on-duty Chicago police sergeant reportedly got unwanted extra ingredients in her recent meal at a Chicago neighborhood Wendy's location '-- hair and dirt on a double cheeseburger.
What are the details? An unnamed Chicago police officer said that she visited a Wicker Park Wendy's drive-through on Monday and ordered a meal around 1:30 a.m. local time.
The officer said that she paid for the food and left the drive-through and began eating her meal.
She said that as she began to eat, she discovered hair and dirt in her food, prompting her to go inside the restaurant and confront an employee over the incident.
According to reports, the employee was "dismissive" of the officer's complaint.
Newsweek reported that "[a]n internal email" stated that a "lieutenant on the scene told police officers the manager of the fast food outlet 'gave [the sergeant] attitude' and 'would not take her complaint seriously. All the manager would do is offer her a refund.'"
The officer '-- who declined medical treatment '-- also reportedly became ill at the scene and threw up "several times."
The Chicago Police Department told the outlet that detectives are investigating the incident.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Wendy's said, "The quality and integrity of our food is our number one priority and we take any food-related claims extremely seriously."
"We have been in touch with representatives from the Chicago Police Department and will fully investigate this matter," the statement continued. "We have great respect for law enforcement and their service to our communities."
No charges have been filed in connection with the incident at the time of this reporting.
Social media reactsThe Chicago Sun-Times posted about the incident on Facebook, prompting heavy discussion.
One user wrote, "This is what happens when local and national government try to make the police the enemy. There are bad apples of course but to make a blanket statement trying to defund the police and portray them as bad is a recipe for disaster."
"So this is what Lightfoot's City has become now???? Vote her OUT along with Foxx and Pritzker too," another user added.
Another user argued, "Perhaps the server knew something about this ''officer'' that we don't. She may have deserved it. Many of them do!!"
"Yeah, I'll wait for proof," another user spat. "There have been tons of stories like this and tons of those have been found to be made by attention seeking POS police officers looking for sympathy. Like the person making the food literally went outside and collected dirt? C'mon now."
Oscars Commercials Sold Out As Disney Hopes for 'Rebuild' - Variety
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:48
No matter how many awards categories get screen time at this year's Oscars telecast, one thing will be certain: There will be advertising around them.
Disney has sold all the 60 commercial slots it has around its coming broadcast of the event late last week, according to Rita Ferro, president of Disney Advertising Sales, and the company hopes the 2022 version of the program will serve as a ''rebuild year'' for the spectacle after the coronavirus pandemic severely crimped moviegoing.
''We are all coming back to getting social and going out,'' says Ferro, in an interview, and Disney's ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have agreed to make changes to the show after it has run into strong viewership headwinds in recent years. Executives, she says, have worked to solve the question of ''how do we make the show more compelling, more relevant to audiences?''
Among the changes: a trio of female hosts '-- Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall '-- after three years of programs without a designated person to lead the crowd; a new producer, Will Packer; and a decision to award several categories during off-air moments, then edit those presentations in later n a bid to streamline the event, which is often criticized for being too long. Ratings for the program are often determined by the popularity of its best picture nominees, which this year include ''West Side Story,'' ''Dune,'' ''King Richard'' and ''Belfast.''
''The three female hosts are diverse and funny and will bring to the show the unique audiences that they represent,'' says Ferro. Meanwhile, Packer is being given leeway ''to come in and innovate,'' she says. ''He has a different perspective, and I think that's what the show needs.''
Interest in the glitzy extravaganza has flagged during the pandemic. The 2021 Oscars broadcast on ABC drew an average of 10.4 million viewers '-- the smallest audience for the event on record and a 56% drop from the 23.6 million viewers who watched the show in 2020. The tumble comes alongside audience declines for other award shows, including the Emmys and Grammys.
Viewer erosion has begun to have a noticeable effect on ad support for the show. In 2021, the Oscars nabbed around $115.3 million in advertising revenue, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending. But that figure represented a 10.7% dip from the nearly $129.2 million ABC generated from commercials in 2020.
Disney's Ferro says the company has secured Oscars advertising commitments from ''a super wide range of advertisers'' spanning 14 different marketing categories. Disney has sought between $1.7 million and $2.2 million for a 30-second ad, according to media buyers and other executives familiar with negotiations. The average price for a commercial in recent weeks has been $1.71 million, according to Standard Media Index, an ad spending tracker. Ferro says some longtime sponsors of the show enjoy better rates, but ABC has sold commercials in its ''traditional range of pricing.''
In a switch from normal procedure, however, she says more sponsors bought the event in the industry's ''scatter'' market, or closer to air time, rather than during the ''upfront,'' or the market for ad time bought in advance. That reflects some of the pressures the pandemic has created, with coronavirus protocols making it tougher to determine months ahead of time whether an in-person Oscars would even be feasible.
No matter the issues facing the show, many advertisers remain eager to take part. The Oscars remains one of TV's bigger entertainment events, and the 2022 broadcast includes Crypto.com, Pfizer, Rolex and Verizon as some of its top sponsors '-- the first time a cryptocurrency company has advertised in the event.
Look for streamers to get the word out about their offerings during the program. WarnerMedia's CNN will run a 30-second ad during the telecast, urging the broad crowd to sign up for CNN Plus ,the company's new subscription-based streaming service, which is slated to launch just two days after the Oscars. CNN booked the sponsorship about two months ago, says Rick Lewchuk, senior vice president of creative marketing and brand standards of CNN Worldwide. ''To have that kind of big-tent offering a couple of days before we are launching the product was a real natural for us,'' he says in an interview. Other streamers running ads include Discovery Plus, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus and Peacock.
Macy's, the large retailer, intends to run two ads during the Oscars and the event's pre-show, according to a person familiar with the matter. The commercials will put a spotlight on individuality and personal style as well as Macy's curated assortment of fashions during an event that is know for its red-carpet couture, this person says.
Other advertisers include Amazon XCM; Anheuser-Busch's Michelob; Bacardi's Bombay Sapphire; Bank of America; Best Buy; Capital One; Corona; Eli Lilly; Geico; Google; Incyte; Kellogg; Kraft; Lionsgate; Lucid Motors; Mastercard; Meta; Reckitt's Mucinex; Snapchat; State Farm; Stellantis; Subway and Walt Disney Studios.
One advertiser that isn't seen signing up in 2022 is General Motors. The automaker has run commercials in the Oscars several times in recent years. The big marketer recently aired two celebrity-heavy commercials in the Super Bowl that reunited members of the casts of the ''Austin Powers'' movies and the HBO series ''The Sopranos.''
Packages of Oscars advertising don't just include national TV ads, says Adam Monaco, executive vice president at Disney Advertising Sales. Some clients also chose to buy local ads across TV stations that are part of Disney's ABC. Others had the option to buy advertising on Hulu that could be set to stream in certain regions of the country via so-called ''geotargeting.'' Other Hulu options could have ads run in advance of the Oscars alongside films that have either been nominated or won a category in the past, all in an effort to tell viewers to get ready for the big event. Soon, Disney and the Academy will find out if those efforts bear fruit.
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Ukraine's Propaganda War: International PR Firms, DC Lobbyists and CIA Cutouts
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:37
W ASHINGTON DC '-- Since the Russian offensive inside Ukraine commenced on February 24, the Ukrainian military has cultivated the image of a plucky little army standing up to the Russian Goliath. To bolster the perception of Ukrainian military mettle, Kiev has churned out a steady stream of sophisticated propaganda aimed at stirring public and official support from Western countries.
The campaign includes language guides, key messages, and hundreds of propaganda posters, some of which contain fascist imagery and even praise Neo-Nazi leaders.
Behind Ukraine's public relations effort is an army of foreign political strategists, Washington DC lobbyists, and a network of intelligence-linked media outlets.
Ukraine's propaganda strategy earned it praise from a NATO commander who told the Washington Post, ''They are really excellent in stratcom '-- media, info ops, and also psy-ops.'' The Post ultimately conceded that ''Western officials say that while they cannot independently verify much of the information that Kyiv puts out about the evolving battlefield situation, including casualty figures for both sides, it nonetheless represents highly effective stratcom.''
Key to the propaganda effort is an international legion of public relations firms working directly with Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to wage information warfare.
According to the industry news site PRWeek, the initiative was launched by an anonymous figure who allegedly founded a Ukraine-based public relations firm.
''From the first hour of war, we decided to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help them distribute the official sources to show the truth,'' the nameless figure told PR Week. ''This is a hybrid war: the mix of bloodily struggling fight with a huge disinformation and fake campaign lead by Russia [sic].''
According to the anonymous figure, more than 150 public relations firms have joined the propaganda blitz.
The international effort is spearheaded by public relations firm PR Network co-founder Nicky Regazzoni and Francis Ingham, a top public relations consultant with close ties to the UK's government. Ingraham previously worked for Britain's Conservative Party, sits on the UK Government Communication Service Strategy and Evaluation Council, is Chief Executive of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation, and leads the membership body for UK local government communicators, LG Comms.
''We've been privileged to help coordinate efforts to support the Ukrainian Government in the last few days, '' Ingham told PRovoke Media. ''Agencies have offered up entire teams to support Kyiv in the communications war. Our support for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is unwavering and will continue for as long as needed.''
With an anonymous Ukrainian figure joining two of the top public relations figures in the Kiev government's propaganda blitz, Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs distributed a dossier folder (archived) with materials instructing public relations agencies on ''key messages,'' approved language, content for debunked propaganda constructs, far-right and Neo-Nazi propaganda.
The folder is run by Yaroslav Turbil, described on his LinkedIn page as ''Head of Ukraine.ua '-- Ukraine's digital ecosystem for global communications. Strategic Communications & Country Brand Promotion.'' Turbil has worked at multiple ''civil society'' organizations closely linked to the U.S. government and interned at Internews, a U.S. intelligence-linked organization that operates under the guise of promoting press freedom.
Among the propaganda constructs distributed in the dossier, is a video of the Snake Island incident, which was quickly proven false, in which Ukrainian border guards stationed on a small island were reported to have been killed after they told an approaching Russian warship that had urged them to surrender to ''Go f*** yourself.'' President Zelensky held a press conference announcing he would award the men the Hero of Ukraine medal as mainstream media spread the story widely. However, the supposedly-dead soldiers quickly turned up alive and well, proving their heroic stand to be a farce.
Despite the story being proven as fake, the dossier contains a propaganda video promoting it.
Another folder in the dossier is run by Ukrainian MFA graphic artist Dasha Podoltseva and contains hundreds of propaganda graphics submitted by artists in Europe and the United States.
Some feature generic ''no war'' messages, while dozens of other images celebrate ''The Ghost of Kiev'' '' a heroic Ukrainian pilot who turns out to be non-existent '' and the phony ''Snake Island 13'' incident.
Many use xenophobic and racist language, and some are explicit in their praise of prominent Ukrainian Neo-Nazis, including C14 leader Yevhen Karas, the Right Sector fascist paramilitary, and the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. Multiple images call for ''Banderite smoothies'' '' a reference to Molotov cocktails named for the late OUN-B commander Stephan Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany in the mass murder of Jews and ethnic Poles during World War II. Another image depicts a book titled the: ''Encyclopedia of Incurable Diseases,'' listing Russia, Belorussia, North Korea, Syria, and Eritrea.
''I love NLAW'' '' Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon, provided by western governments to the Ukrainian military
Graphic implying fertilizing the fields with bodies reads, ''Grandma advice to Moskovites: Hide in the fields, When you die in hands of our army, Sunflowers will grow better'''
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''Thank You Ukrainian Army'' with an Azov Battalion Wolfsengel patch emblazoned on the sleeve''
''The Encyclopedia of Incurable Disease: Russia, Belorussia, North Korea, Syria, Eritrea''
''Against Moscovian Occupation.'' Moscovian is a xenophobic term used to describe Russians
Graphic calling Czar Nicholas, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Vladimir Putin incarnations of the same ''Mental Moskovian Dragon''
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''Bandera Smoothie''
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''Putin's orcs got whipped'' '' Orc is a xenophobic term for Russian used by Ukrainian nationalists
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Flag of Neo-Nazi paramilitary Right Sector. Red represents ''blood'' and black represents ''soil''
Ukraine or Valhalla '' a reference to the where heroes of Norse mythological go after death, a theme commonly appropriated by neo-Nazis
A call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine with an image of a building used by the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion that Russia bombed
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''Evhen Karas. Our positive news. #Thank_You_Ukraine Army''. Karas is a leader of the C14 neo-Nazi gang, who boasted that ''We have fun killing.''
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''Bandera smoothie for friends of Putin''
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Foreign extremists flock to UkraineThe dossier also contains a link to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs page called ''Fight for Ukraine,'' which provides instructions for foreigners who wish to join Ukraine's Neo-Nazi-infested armed forces '' termed the ''International Defense Legion of Ukraine.''
Following Zelensky's call for foreign fighters to form a brigade, fighters from all over the world, including the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, Spain, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and more have traveled to face Russian forces. Others with no combat training or experience have arrived for ''war tourism'' '' what one British soldier called ''bullet-catchers.''
Official Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recruitment graphics from the dossier
Official Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recruitment graphics from the dossier
While the Ukrainian government says tens of thousands have answered their call, some commentators expressed doubt at those figures, calling it a ''PR exercise.''
However, the foreigners who have traveled to Ukraine have encountered a much more severe reality than they anticipated.
Russia's air force bombed military installations adjacent to where the foreign fighters were sleeping. Having fled to neighboring Poland, a Spanish fighter described the bombing as a ''message'' that could have killed thousands.
Similarly, an American fighter who hid in an ambulance to escape the frontlines warned that Ukrainian authorities were killing foreigners who decided not to fight, calling it a ''trap.''
Correct wordingOne document inside the dossier delineates acceptable language on the conflict with Russia as determined by the Ukrainian government.
''Such Russian clich(C)s like 'referendum in Crimea' or 'will of the people of Crimea' are absolutely unacceptable,'' the document states, in reference to the 2014 overwhelmingly successful referendum to separate from Ukraine.
The document deems unacceptable the terms ''Civil war in Donbass,'' ''Internal conflict,'' ''Conflict in Ukraine'' and ''Ukrainian crisis'' to describe the Ukrainian military's war with the breakaway republics of the Donbass region. This, despite the fact that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that 14,200 people, including 3,404 civilians, have been killed in internal fighting in Ukraine since 2014.
In place of these phrases, the document calls for the use of the terms ''Armed aggression by the Russian Federation in Donbass, international armed conflict, Russian war against Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian conflict armed conflict.''
Key MessagesAnother document titled ''Key Messages'' contains specific propaganda claims that were widely disseminated in mainstream western media, but which have since been discredited. One section claims the ''entire Europe was put on the brink of nuclear disaster, when the Russian troops began shelling the largest in Europe Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.''
However, International Atomic Energy Agency's director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said that the building hit by a Russian ''projectile'' at the Zaporizhzhia plant was ''not part of the reactor'' but instead a training center. Russian troops also left Ukrainian workers to continue operating the plant.
''If I were a Russian worried about the potential of Nazi extremists coming up with a dirty bomb, I'd need to take control of this very facility'' '' @realscottritter deconstructs the Ukrainian nuclear plant takeover
With @dancohen3000
Full Interview: https://t.co/KOMDd6018Y pic.twitter.com/lpANwW2rt4
'-- MintPress News (@MintPressNews) March 8, 2022
Another section thanks Turkey for the decision ''to block the access of Russian warships to the Black Sea.''
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan closed the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to all military vessels, preventing both NATO and Russian vessels from accessing the Black Sea.
Among the document's key messages is a statement of gratitude to the ''Anti-war demonstrations held by citizens of many nations throughout the world demonstrate strong support to Ukraine in defending against Russia.''
This refers to large pro-Ukraine demonstrations in Europe which have featured calls for the U.S. and NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine and shoot down Russian military aircraft, potentially transforming the conflict into a world war between nuclear-armed powers.
The NED published video of its CEO, Damon Wilson, at a rally outside the White House, declaring "Glory to Ukraine" '' the salute used by Nazi collaborator Stephan Bandera's OUN-B, which carried out mass murder of Jews and Poles during World War 2. pic.twitter.com/a5hWSn9txo
'-- Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) March 7, 2022
''Despite Russia's propaganda, there is no discrimination based on the race or nationality, including when it comes to the crossing of the state border by foreign citizens,'' claims the Ukrainian document.
However, numerous videos and reports have documented Ukrainian authorities preventing Africans from fleeing the fighting. Even the New York Times '' hardly a bastion of Kremlin propaganda '' published a report documenting these racist practices.
One message says that ''On 16 March, the Russian forces dropped a bomb on a drama theatre where up to 1300 civilians were being sheltered. The number of casualties is still unknown.''
However, as Max Blumenthal reported the explosion appears to be the result of a false flag operation designed by the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and aimed at triggering a NATO intervention.
NATO-backed troll farmsAnother anonymously-penned investigation shows how Ukrainian public relations firms have used targeted advertisements to astroturf Russian internet and social media networks with messaging calling to economically isolate Moscow and ''stop the war.'' This effort is led by Bezlepkin Evgeny Vitalievich, who uses the alias Evgeny Korolev, along with Pavel Antonov of the Targetorium organization. From behind his Korolev pseudonym, the Ukrainian information warrior composed a post on his Facebook page (now private) boasting that his firm's Facebook ads achieved 30 million hits in three days.
At the same time, Facebook has blocked Russian state-owned media outlets from running ads and monetizing content. Several fake accounts for media outlets like Russia 24 have sprung up, burying the authentic account under a series of impostors. Facebook has also marked statements from Russian officials, including the Ministry of Defense, as ''false.''
This campaign has reportedly been carried out upon recommendation from StopFake, a self-described ''fact checking'' outlet that is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, Atlantic Council, Czech and UK foreign ministries, and the International Renaissance Foundation, which is funded by billionaire George Soros' Open Society Foundation.
StopFake was hired by Facebook in March 2020 to ''curb the flow of Russian propaganda'' but was found to be employing multiple figures closely tied to violent Neo-Nazis. The journalist who co-authored the expos(C) received death threats and ultimately fled Ukraine.
Those revelations have apparently not prevented Facebook from relying on the organization for censorship guidance.
Meanwhile, Russian hackers located a public Google document (since made private, uploaded here) detailing the propaganda operation, which has been distributed in Telegram channels of ''creative farms.''
''Here you can find links to Ukrainian media that need promotion, bot accounts with logins and passwords from which anti-war messages and messages with fakes about the Ministry of Defense were sent to users, theses and specific instructions on which posts and which audiences to embroider,'' the investigation reads.
Another campaign is run by Nataliya Popovych, the founder of the public relations agency, One Philosophy, in Kiev. Popovych's LinkedIn profile shows she has worked with the U.S. State Department and advised former President Petro Poroshenko. She is also co-founder and board member of Ukraine Crisis Media Center, a propaganda arm funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Embassy, and NATO, among many others.
A Campaign Asia article profiles several public relations firms involved in the effort. Among them is Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman PR. Edelman is also a member of the Atlantic Council's Board of Directors and the World Economic Forum.
''Geopolitics has become the new test for trust. We saw this with the allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the war between Ukraine and Russia has only reinforced it,'' he said, linking the U.S. propaganda campaign surrounding China's deradicalization campaign for Uyghur Muslims.
PR approved media outletsAn article in PRWeek profiles several figures partaking in what they describe as a ''PR army'' that is ''fighting on the informational frontline'' against Russia's ''barbaric genocide of Ukrainians.''
''Propaganda is the same as real lethal weapons,'' declares Marta Dzhumaha, PR manager at healthcare company BetterMe.
Julia Petryk, head of public relations at MacPaw, offers a list of approved media outlets, authored by her colleague Tetiana Bronistka, a former employee of Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office. The list includes Russian and English language sources, as well as Telegram channels. However, these ''verified sources that objectively cover what is happening in Ukraine'' are anything but independent. Most of them are tied to the U.S. and European governments and billionaire foundations.
She also lists several Russian-language websites:
Novaya Gazeta '' Tied to and reportedly funded by the National Endowment for DemocracyMeduza '' Funded by the government of Latvia, OAK Foundation, Open Society Foundation '‹'‹oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorovsky, and SwedenDozhd '' SREDA foundation, European CommissionHolod Media '' Offshoot of Meduza '' praised in PBS and CNN as ''independent media''Proposed that Leningrad should have been surrendered to the Nazis in World War 2 and has complained that they are called a ''fifth column'' for being funded by western powersBBC Russia '' British government mediaCurrent Time TV '' Created by CIA-founded propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in collaboration with Voice of AmericaCensor '' funded by, editor in chief Yuri Butusov, former advisor to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine200RF '' A Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website that claims to publish publishes photos and documents of the Russian soldiers captured and killed in actionAmong the Telegram channels listed are:
Radio Svoboda '' CIA-founded propaganda organ Radio Free Europe/Radio LibertyEspresso TV, largely owned by the wife of former Ukrainian member of parliament Mykola KnyazhytskyCensor.net, formerly the largest media site in Ukraine, whose motto is ''To bring down Russia'', and whose owner operates a ''parade of international trolls.''Intelligence operationsWhile the public relations firms distribute content, CIA cutouts and billionaire foundations run the media outlets they derive it from. At the core of this operation is a project called the Russian Language News Exchange that was the product of a network of opposition media outlets founded in 2016 that operate in post-Soviet countries, as revealed by an investigation by the Russian media agency, RIA FAN.
In July 2021, a group of journalists flew to Warsaw for media training after being exempted from coronavirus-related restrictions and quarantine orders by Poland's top medical authorities.
Among the six journalists were Andrey Lipsky, deputy editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, and Yuliia Fediv, CEO of Hromadske TV media, one of the most-watched networks in Ukraine.
Hromadske's financial reports show it is funded by numerous governments and foundations, including the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the European Endowment for Democracy, and Free Press Unlimited. Silicon Valley billionaire Pierre Omidary was also involved in creating the outlet.
Hromadske recently hosted a commentator demanding genocide of ethnic Russians in the Donbass, saying it is populated with 1.5 ''superfluous'' people that ''must be exterminated.''
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The training, held behind closed doors from July 19 to July 21, was titled ''Media Network 2021+'' and closely tied to Mediaset, also known as the Russian Language News Exchange, a network founded in 2015. Russian Language News Exchange's website is sparse, with little available information on its activities '' apparently made private since the publication of RIA FAN's investigation.
While it claims to be independent, Russian Language News Exchange is a project of Free Press Unlimited, funded by the Dutch government and the European Commission.
Today, it includes 14 media outlets that act as ''nodes,'' cross-publishing each other's articles in various countries.
The website's introductory video is hosted by Maxim Eristavi, a former Radio Free Europe reporter and founder of Hromadske. Today, he heads the Millennium Leadership Program at the NATO and arms industry-backed think tank, the Atlantic Council.
Since its inception, Mediaset has coordinated between outlets in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine. In March 2021, Mediaset expanded with the Colab Medios Project, created through the Free Press Unlimited Viable Media for Empowered Societies (VIMES) program. This program created training for journalists and saw articles from the El Salvadoran outlet El Faro published in Euroradio (Belarus), Coda (Georgia), and Ziarul de Garda (Moldova).
On March 4, several days after Russia launched its military offensive, a new project called the Media Lifeline Ukraine was created.
The next day, Free Press Unlimited held an emergency conference for Ukraine featuring Hromadske co-founders Maxim Eristavi and Nataliya Gumenyuk. The meeting called to raise 2 million euros for the project. ''Only with ongoing external support, will local media entities be able to continue to do their work,'' its introductory page asks.
Days later, Free Press Unlimited announced a partnership to support a new joint project of Reporters Without Borders and its Ukrainian partner, the Institute for Mass Information, called The Lviv Press Freedom Center. The Institute for Mass Information is headed by USAID communications officer Oksana Romaniuk and funded by USAID and the UK government.
Washington DC lobbyists wag the dogWhile public relations firms and intelligence-linked propaganda operations target the public, Washington DC lobbyists are agitating in Congress to extend the war in Ukraine
Daniel Vajdich, a registered foreign agent and lobbyist for the Ukrainian Federation of Employers of the Oil and Gas Industry, the largest in Ukraine, is working on behalf of Volodymyr Zelensky to lobby members of Congress to approve more weapons shipments to Ukraine. Now the head of Yorktown Solutions, he previously advised Ted Cruz and Scott Walker's campaigns and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
''Stingers, Javelins, and let's figure out the fighter aircraft issue,'' he told Politico, claiming Russia is attempting to carry out a ''genocide'' and ''depopulate certain areas of Ukraine.''
Vajdich also wrote Zelenskyy's March 16 speech to U.S. Congress, in which he quoted Martin Luther King Jr. 's 'I Have a Dream' speech to call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Ukrainian Permanent Representative at the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya's February 23 speech to the United Nations General Assembly was written by DC lobbying firm SKDKnickerbocker Managing Director Stephen Krupin, a former senior speechwriter to President Barack Obama who worked extensively on Biden's 2020 campaign.
Most prominent among the registered lobbyists promoting Ukrainian government and business interests is Andrew Mac, who also contributed to writing Zeleneksyy's speech to Congress. Mac registered as a lobbyist for Zelensky in 2019 and runs the Washington DC office of Ukrainian law firm Asters Law.
The lobbying firm Your Global Strategy, founded by Shai Franklin, who has been affiliated with numerous Zionist organizations including the World Jewish Congress and Anti-Defamation League, is also using its influence with local officials in the U.S. Franklin has set up meetings between Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov and U.S. mayors, including Eric Adams in New York City, Michelle Wu in Boston and Lori Lightfoot in Chicago. He is also attempting to set up a meeting between U.S. officials and the mayors of Odessa and Kiev. A media outlet owned by the mayor of Kiev's wife recently featured a presenter calling for genocide against Russians, beginning with children.
Franklin said he's working with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's administration to help set up virtual meetings between mayors of Odessa and Kiev and U.S. counterparts.
Maryland-based lawyer Lukas Jan Kaczmarek is also working on behalf of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense to increase U.S. weapons shipments, specifically seeking to arrange shipments of guns from Kel-Tec CNC Industries based in Cocoa, Florida, to the city of Odessa, Ukraine.
Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul described the network of public relations professionals and lobbyists surrounding Zelenskyy. ''These are people around Mr. Zelenskyy who are like the intermediaries and interlocutors. They've been interacting with the American elites and American media for a long time,'' he said.
McFaul and John E. Herbst, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and senior director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, act as informal advisors to Zelenskyy. McFaul told Politico that he speaks to Ukrainian government officials ''probably everyday,'' and ''has helped them make connections with NBC or MSNBC producers.''
McFaul recently told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that ''Hitler did not kill German-speaking people, facing accusations of Holocaust denial.
Zelenskyy also held a ''strategic video call'' with McFaul before he spoke to House democrats.
With a powerful Russian military fighting alongside DPR and LPR forces, the Ukrainian military's defeat seems to be imminent unless the United States and NATO directly confront Russian forces, a scenario President Biden has already ruled out. Lobbyists nevertheless persist in their campaign to portray the Ukrainian military as underdogs scoring blow after blow against Russian hordes. In doing so, they help extend the war and continue the carnage.
Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.
Flight MU-5735 Descended More Than 20,000 Feet in Just Over a Minute - The New York Times
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:26
Asia Pacific | The China Eastern plane descended more than 20,000 feet in just over a minute. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/21/world/asia/flight-path-eastern-airlines.html 30,000 feet
Gap in radar data
Plane begins a near vertical
drop around 2:20 p.m.
20,000
Plane briefly ascended
at roughly 8,000 feet
10,000
First transmission,
shortly after takeoff
1:15 p.m.
1:30
1:45
2:00
2:15
30,000 feet
Gap in radar data
Plane begins a near vertical
drop around 2:20 p.m.
20,000
10,000
Plane briefly ascended
at roughly 8,000 feet
First transmission,
shortly after takeoff
1:15 p.m.
1:30
1:45
2:00
2:15
China Eastern Airlines' Flight MU-5735 left Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, at 1:11 p.m. on Monday for what should have been an hour-and-a-half flight east to Guangzhou, a major commercial city in southeastern China.
After an hour, though, the flight turned horribly wrong, according to data from Flightradar24, a tracking platform.
About 2:20 p.m., it ''suddenly started to lose altitude very fast,'' Flightradar24 said in a tweet.
The plane was cruising at an altitude of 29,100 feet when, in just over a minute, it lost more than 21,000 feet. It appeared to briefly regain altitude around 8,000 feet before continuing its plunge, according to Flightradar24's data.
A manager for Wuzhou City Beichen Mining, Liao Wenhui, confirmed by telephone that their surveillance camera caught an image that appeared to be a plane plunging directly toward earth, but refused to say more.
The plane was in the far east of the Guangxi region, where weather reports don't suggest any possible contributing factors. Temperatures reached a high of 86 degrees Fahrenheit around 2 p.m., according to the China Meteorological Administration. Winds were moderate at less than 12 miles per hour, and visibility was 10 miles. Rain was forecast for the evening, but no precipitation had been measured at the time of the crash.
China Eastern Airlines has dispatched a team to the crash site in Wuzhou City, according to state-owned media.
Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting.
Germany conducts raids over hate posts against politicians
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:21
Associated Press
Posted 3/22/2022 7:00 AM
BERLIN -- German authorities carried out raids across the country and questioned more than 100 suspects Tuesday in an investigation of hate posts against politicians connected to last year's national election, prosecutors said.
The Frankfurt prosecutor's office and the Federal Criminal Police Office said that the raids resulted from an analysis of over 600 posts on social media for criminal content. The investigation was based on legislation that was introduced last year to provide for tough punishment of slander and abuse of people 'Å'in political life,'¯½ whether at local, regional or federal level.
It provides for a punishment of up to three years in prison for abuse motivated by the person's position in public life that is liable to 'Å'significantly complicate their public work.'¯½
Prosecutors didn't name the targets of the posts that resulted in the raids, but said that the investigation covered posts against politicians from all the parties currently in Germany's national parliament and two-thirds of them are women. It said they included abuse against nationally known politicians as well as fake quotes that appeared designed to discredit their targets.
The parliament was elected in late September.
Tuesday's move 'Å'makes clear the scale on which office-holders are being insulted, slandered and threatened online,'¯½ the top prosecutor in Germany's central Hesse state, Torsten Kunze, said in a statement.
There was no immediate word of any arrests.
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U.S. Rethinks Uranium Supply for Nuclear Plants After Russia's Invasion of Ukraine - WSJ
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:19
Much of the enriched uranium used to fuel plants globally is controlled by Russia; calls to increase domestic output
March 22, 2022 5:30 am ETRussia's invasion of Ukraine has shaken the global market for uranium, a critical fuel for nuclear-power plants, prompting some in the U.S. to propose reviving domestic production.
Russia enriches more uranium for use in nuclear plants than any other country in the world. Its increasing economic isolation following its attack on Ukraine'--and talk of potential added sanctions on Russian uranium'--have exposed the fragility of global nuclear-fuel supplies, which are controlled by a handful of countries.
Republican...
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Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shaken the global market for uranium, a critical fuel for nuclear-power plants, prompting some in the U.S. to propose reviving domestic production.
Russia enriches more uranium for use in nuclear plants than any other country in the world. Its increasing economic isolation following its attack on Ukraine'--and talk of potential added sanctions on Russian uranium'--have exposed the fragility of global nuclear-fuel supplies, which are controlled by a handful of countries.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming'--one of the main U.S. uranium-producing states'--filed legislation on Thursday to ban Russian imports, calling the dependence on foreign uranium ''simply unacceptable.''
Uranium prices have jumped more than 30% since the start of the war as a price hike hits commodities broadly and utilities try to lock down supplies on fears that sanctions could pinch some part of the specialized fuel cycle. A trade agreement limits U.S. dependence on Russian uranium to no more than around 20% of what domestic reactors need, but no other country could quickly fill Russia's role in a complex supply chain that could take years to rejigger.
''U.S. utilities rely on Russia enough that you can't replace Russia overnight,'' said Jonathan Hinze, president of UxC LLC, a nuclear-industry market-research and analysis firm.
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The Nuclear Energy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group, said it was assessing ''the potential impacts of fuel disruption on the U.S. nuclear fleet.'' But U.S. plants typically refuel every 18 to 24 months and plan refueling at least two to three years in advance, so there is little immediate concern of a short-term fuel shortage for existing plants, according to the group.
''I think that gives us time to react,'' said Maria Korsnick, the group's chief executive.
Still, uncertainty over securing future nuclear-fuel supplies raises questions for developers designing small modular reactors, or SMRs. Though none are under construction yet in the U.S., many proponents of nuclear generation consider SMRs the future of the industry. Russia was considered the chief supplier for those projects before the war.
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The U.S. has met Russia's assault on Ukraine with economic penalties targeting Russia's financial sector and a ban on oil imports into the U.S., but so far, uranium has avoided sanctions. The U.S. relied on Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for about 46% of its needs in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Nick Akins, chief executive of the utility American Electric Power Co. , which operates the Cook Nuclear Plant in Michigan, said the war has prompted talk of onshoring uranium production and enrichment. ''I think things like this are going to change that discussion, and they should,'' Mr. Akins said. The Cook plant doesn't use Russian uranium, he said.
Nuclear power provides about 20% of U.S. electricity generation and 10% of the global total, according to the World Nuclear Association.
While uranium can be mined in many parts of the world, the multistep processing that turns the heavy metal into a fuel is concentrated in a handful of places globally. Uranium must be mined and milled, converted into a gas, and enriched to increase the percentage of the isotope needed for nuclear reactors before fuel fabrication.
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Each step occurs in specialized facilities, and with the nuclear-power industry in a yearslong decline, there has been little reason for companies in the supply chain to invest. Raw uranium prices haven't been high enough to encourage U.S. mining over cheaper imports.
Russian uranium enrichment accounts for around 35% of the global market, according to UxC. Uranium's conversion into a gas is the other weak link in the supply chain. The only commercial uranium conversion plants outside of Russia operate in France and Canada.
The sole U.S. plant in Illinois has been idled since 2017, though it is scheduled to come online again in 2023, according to owner Honeywell International Inc. China has uranium conversion and enrichment plants but tends to supply its own reactors instead of exporting to other countries.
The price of raw uranium is the most visible part of the market, but costs for each processing stage are rising, too, as power producers rethink supply chains and signing new deals with Russian companies.
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Boosting domestic capacity would take several years, said Adam Rodman, founder of hedge fund Segra Capital Management LLC. ''This market has become too comfortable despite a fragile supply chain,'' he said.
Natural disasters have taken plants or mines offline for periods before, and the market was hit by a demand shock and languished for a decade after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 led countries including Japan and Germany to close nuclear reactors. But the potential of a supply loss on the magnitude of Russia has no precedent.
''We're going through a reshuffling that is entirely new since the second World War,'' said Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based energy and nuclear-policy consultant who coordinates the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, an annual update compiled by researchers globally.
The Energy Department and some utilities or suppliers also keep small stockpiles, which could help offset potential disruptions. Constellation Energy Corp. , which operates the nation's largest fleet of nuclear-power plants, said in a regulatory filing that it could meet refueling needs for several years regardless of potential sanctions.
Nevertheless, Constellation and some of its peers are pressing for greater domestic investment in the fuel process, noting long investment lead times are needed. ''The reality is that there are a limited number of firms around the world that provide certain nuclear-fuel services,'' said company spokesman Paul Adams.
Write to Jennifer Hiller at jennifer.hiller@wsj.com
How hiring individuals with criminal records can benefit today's workforce
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:13
Americans left their jobs in record numbers last year during the Big Quit. Roughly 47 million workers quit their jobs in 2021, including people leaving due to Covid-19 or switching careers. Months later, companies are still looking to fill roles and up the ante with bonuses, even resorting to paying new hires to take vacations. There's one demographic, however, that still remains largely untapped: individuals with justice-involved backgrounds, or a criminal record.
It's no secret that people with criminal records have a hard time finding work. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), only 5% of managers and 3% of HR professionals actively recruit candidates with criminal records for open roles. With the current state of the labor market, justice-involved individuals could be the saving grace for employers struggling to fill open roles.
According to Brian Matthews, senior vice president at Appriss Insights, a division of Equifax dedicated to growth strategy and people-based risk, now is the best time to hire people with criminal records.
''Not only does it build a new talent pool of workers to help address the nation's ongoing labor shortage head-on, but it also gives a second chance to those in need,'' he tells CNBC Make It. ''This movement provides a great opportunity to strengthen businesses and improve inclusiveness in the workplace.''
Matthews says that ''businesses who have already adopted this strategy are reaping the benefits," such as Starbucks and Home Depot. The value new employees with criminal records bring to an organization is viewed as equal or even higher than that of workers without records by 82% of managers, according to research from SHRM.
Not only does this benefit the employer, but the individual as well. Employment is proven to decrease recidivism, or the likelihood to re-offend for people with criminal records. Hiring these individuals can also aid in racial justice, as Black people have been disproportionately criminalized and have harder times reentering the workforce after incarceration than their white counterparts.
Though research shows employment helps with recidivism, Matthews says that it's not ''enough.''
''Justice-involved individuals also need support from employers. This could come in the form of providing opportunities for them to resume their education, pursue skill-based training/certifications and counseling that can explain their return to work,'' says Matthews. ''Support from employers is crucial for individuals as those who participate in education programs have a 43% lower chance of being reincarcerated than those who do not.''
As businesses shift to more inclusive work environments and hiring practices, it's important that people with criminal records aren't forgotten about. To combat this, several states have adopted ''Ban the Box'' laws to increase job opportunities for ex-offenders by restricting criminal conviction disclosure questions. Though employers are still conducting background checks on these individuals, Matthews says Ban the Box ''ensures managers are considering the quality of an applicant before learning of or considering their criminal history,'' and recommends companies take advantage of the movement.
According to Matthews, companies hoping to embed diversity and inclusion into their culture must start with diverse leadership, and continuous support for their employees.
''Companies should be following up with actions to create a safe and inclusive workplace for all. Educating your leaders, recognizing differences within the workplace, and genuinely listening to your employees will help build a space where the entire team can feel like they belong. The end goal should be to level the playing field while eliminating biases and any form of discrimination.''
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Diversity and Inclusion
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:12
The Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the U.S. and, further, bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues in the countries we serve. For the Peace Corps, diversity is a collection of individual attributes that together help the agency pursue organizational objectives appropriately and effectively. These include, but are not limited to, national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures. Diversity may also encompass where people are from, where they have lived, and their differences in thought and life experiences.
We also seek to create a culture of inclusion that connects staff and Volunteers; encourages collaboration, flexibility, equity and fairness, and leverages diversity throughout the organization so that all individuals are able to participate and contribute to their full potential'--throughout the Volunteer and staff lifecycle. Any Volunteer or staff member can contact or reach out to any Peace Corps Ukraine staff member with whom they feel most comfortable to speak about any of these issues. Program Managers, Safety and Security Manager, Director of Management and Operations, Director of Programs and Training, and the Country Director are all available to assist Volunteers or staff.
Peace Corps Ukraine prioritizes the safety and security for all Volunteers at all times and in all situations.
Diversity and Inclusion at Your SiteOnce Volunteers arrive at their sites, diversity and inclusion principles remain, but take on a different shape in which your host community may share a common culture and you'--the Volunteer'--may be ''the outsider.'' You may be the sole American at your site. You may begin to notice diversity in perspectives, ethnicity, age, depth of conversation, and degree of support you may receive based on your perceived identity. During pre-service training, a session will be held to discuss diversity and inclusion and how you might access support, how you can engage appropriately and effectively across cultures, find common ground, and possibly serve as an ally for your peers.
Intercultural ConsiderationsThe Peace Corps emphasizes professional behavior and intercultural sensitivity among Volunteers and within their communities to help with integration and achieve successful service. As a Volunteer and representative of the United States, you are responsible for sharing the diversity of America's culture with your host country counterparts while also learning about the diversity of identities in your host country.
To ease the transition to service in your host country, you may choose to make some temporary, yet fundamental, compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. You may need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping within this new context. During pre-service training, staff will provide training on various strategies for adapting personal choices and behavior to be respectful of the host country culture, and will be available for ongoing support.
What Might a Volunteer Face?Gender RolesIt will be important to absorb and [to attempt to] understand the cultural nuances of gender roles in your host country. During pre-service training, you will receive an introduction to gender awareness in Ukraine and examine your own thinking about gender roles and how they have affected you. You'll then learn to analyze development projects using a gender lens to better understand gender roles in your host country and how these gender roles can benefit or limit people of all gender identities'--both from a personal standpoint and in relation to work and relationships in-country.
Gender roles in Ukraine can be difficult to understand and accept. Although men and women may receive equal pay for equal work, women are underrepresented in positions of power and often are not promoted as readily as men. These disparities/differences in treatment based on gender can present problems for Volunteers in job situations.
Possible Considerations for Volunteers of ColorBecause of limited exposure, some Ukrainians will expect all Americans to be white and are unaware of diversity in the U.S. For Volunteers, the range of responses to their skin color may vary greatly. Some Volunteers may be mistaken for a host country national, be questioned about their U.S. citizenship, face behavior and language skill expectations. Peace Corps aspires to support each Volunteer in navigating these challenges in a way that works for them. Depending on the situation, Volunteers may choose to respond in a variety of ways. Sometimes they may remove themselves from the situation. Sometimes they may seek support from fellow Volunteers and/or Peace Corps staff. Sometimes they may practice a particular coping strategy or self-care strategy. Sometimes they may explore if they can turn the situation into teachable moments for themselves and the host country national. All Volunteers should be mindful of histories of race and ethnicity that are present in U.S. culture and within your country of service and should be mindful of being an ally to your fellow Volunteers.
Racial and ethnic minorities in Ukraine, primarily Poles, Hungarians, Crimean Tatars, and Greeks, make up about 5 percent of the total population. Most Ukrainians have not had personal interactions with people of other races. They often assume that African-American or Asian-American Volunteers are university students from Africa or Asia rather than Americans. Thus, these Volunteers may be stopped to show their identification papers more frequently than other Volunteers, particularly in larger cities where they are not known. On its website, the U.S. State Department now warns prospective travelers to Ukraine of hate crimes directed at ethnic minorities. In addition, a number of international human rights groups have expressed concern with the rise in hate crimes and xenophobic activity in big cities in Ukraine.
One Volunteer writes: A majority of the time, people view me with curiosity. Most people I work with love to ask me about my ancestry. They and are polite and respectful. Occasionally, I am mistaken for an Arab or African refugee and I hear some people shouting. Most Ukrainians are embarrassed by this behavior and I have never felt scared for my physical safety. Sharing information about my cultural background as an American of Indian descent has been a wonderful and positive experience for me in the nine months I have lived in Ukraine.
Possible Considerations for African American or Black VolunteersVolunteer Voices: '''People of color' face many challenges living in Ukraine, as a Peace Corps Volunteer. However, African-Americans will confront far more complicated issues. For modern parts of Ukraine, African-Americans are part of the community and day-to-day life. However, there are many Ukrainians who have never seen a Black person before. Their understanding of African-American culture is fueled by the media and African stereotypes. You will generate lots of interest and curious stares.
So, these stares can make you uncomfortable and annoyed. Ukrainians' initial perception of you may be that you are from Africa; it may not. It does help if they understand that you are an American, and the training in PST will help you consider ways that you will engage with these assumptions."
"It is not uncommon for Ukrainians to refer to African-Americans as ''[N-Word]''. Volunteers of color may be called 'a monkey' or may see children's games with Blackface. Being aware of the history of dehumanization for people of African descent may help inform where this comes from; it does not justify it. It will be at your discretion to determine the intent. No matter the intent, staff recognizes the impact that hearing that word may invoke hurt and anger. If you view it as unlearned [something the person has never been exposed to], it may be an opportunity for you to educate that person. We are here to support your successful service, and these comments and images can be a huge distraction and obstacle to you. Know that Peace Corps staff is here to support and encourage you. Do not hesitate to remove yourself from such situations. You are not expected to be subjected to such treatment. You can also find support and understand from other African-American Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Ukraine."
Any volunteer or staff member who has experienced racism can contact any Peace Corps Ukraine staff member. This can include the Program Managers, Safety and Security Manager, Director of Management and Operations, Director of Programs and Training, or Country Director.
Possible Considerations for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Ally/Asexual (LGBTQA) VolunteersThe Peace Corps actively supports Volunteers and staff of all gender and sexual orientation. Peace Corps encourages Volunteers to serve as allies to their fellow Volunteers in all aspects. Many countries where the Peace Corps serves have more restrictive cultures with regard to sexual orientation and non-conforming gender identities, though some are more permissive. Peace Corps staff will work with Volunteers to provide them with locally informed perspectives. Some LGBTQA Volunteers have chosen to come out to community members while some have come out only to select Peace Corps staff and Volunteers. Many have chosen to be discreet about their orientation and/or gender identity within their host community. LGBTQA support groups may be available in-country, providing a network to support the needs of the Peace Corps LGBTQA community. More information about serving as an LGBTQA Volunteer is available at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Peace Corps Alumni website at lgbrpcv.org.
While sex acts are not criminalized, the Ukrainian LGBT community faces discrimination and civil rights abuses related to sexual orientation. Ukrainian society generally views being gay, lesbian, or bisexual as abnormal. While networks of gays and lesbians have formed in some of the larger cities, LGBTQ life is hidden from the public and kept very discreet. Some LGBTQ Volunteers in Ukraine have found that being open about their sexual orientation at their sites has had a negative impact on their effectiveness. Peace Corps Ukraine staff is there to support LGBT Volunteers with any issues they may face.
Volunteer Voices: ''Transgender volunteers are recommended to not disclose their gender identity to host country nationals and INFORM ONLY the Country Director and Peace Corps Medical Officer among Peace Corps staff. For those who are already medically transitioning, the Peace Corps medical team is very willing to assist and will continue your hormone replacement therapy. For transgender individuals who have been on their journey for long enough to feel comfortable passing, it CAN BE easy to blend into the culture.
At the same time, I am leery of saying blend into the culture because I don't think many PCVs blend into the culture, maybe we blend in as a typical American?
Some gender non-conforming Volunteers on the transgender spectrum OR TRANSGENDER VOLUNTEERS WHO ARE EARLY IN THEIR JOURNEY may face similar issues to gay and lesbian volunteers as well as Volunteers of color due to the fact that for most Ukrainians, this is their first experience with someone with this identity."
Possible Considerations for Volunteers with DisabilitiesPeace Corps staff will work with Volunteers with disabilities to support them in training, housing, job sites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively.
As a Volunteer with disabilities in Ukraine, you may face a special set of challenges. In Ukraine, as in other parts of the world, some people hold prejudicial attitudes about individuals with disabilities and may discriminate against them. Also, there is very little of the infrastructure to accommodate individuals with disabilities that has been developed in the United States. Staff are committed to exploring creative ways to support reasonable accommodations for Volunteer success.
Possible Considerations for Volunteer CouplesCouples often face pressure from host country nationals to change their roles to conform to traditional ideas of relationships in-country. Host country nationals may not understand American relationship dynamics and may be outwardly critical of relationships that do not adhere to traditional gender roles. It is also helpful to think about how pressures to conform to local culture may be challenging to men and women in very different ways. Considering how your partner is being affected and discussing what, if any, aspects of your relationship should be changed can help.
Volunteer Voices: ''While the youth in Ukraine is becoming more progressive, most of the country still believes that you must be married in order to live together. If a couple is unmarried, they should have a good understanding of how they will respond when questioned about their relationship. Men in Ukraine are viewed as the dominant gender and as such the man will usually be the person that all question are directed towards. This can be trying on a heterosexual couple who is used to being viewed as equals and should be something they discuss. Couples without children may also be questioned heavily about why they do not have children, etc. This is another question that is best to discuss prior and decide as a couple how you will respond to questions like this.''
Possible Considerations for Volunteers with Varying Faiths and Belief SystemsMany Ukrainians have little knowledge of non-Christian faiths. There are Polish and Greek Catholic churches and Ukrainian Orthodox churches in most communities. Most big cities have large numbers of Christian missionaries. Volunteers are sometimes mistaken for missionaries, and the Peace Corps is careful to maintain a separation from such groups. Please note that Volunteers cannot be placed in sites according to their religious beliefs.
Volunteer Voices: ''A Muslim might face extra hardship because the diet in Ukraine is very heavy in pork and alcohol. It is possible to avoid such foods, but it would be difficult because it is the cultural norm to give guests these things.''
''I hear a lot of Jewish jokes. Sometimes I tell people I am a vegetarian because it is too hard to explain Kosher eating requirements.''
''For me, I have been lucky that I have run into very few problems related to my religious identity besides very few comments that I have also heard in the United States. Nothing shocking.''
Issues related to religion, belief systems and worldviews are also addressed and explored during PST, and we will discuss staff support and ways Volunteers may respond to them.
Possible Considerations for Volunteers 50+ Years OldOlder Volunteers may find their age an asset in-country and will often have access to individuals and insights that are not available to younger Volunteers. Pre-service training can be particularly stressful for older trainees, whose lifelong learning styles and habits may or may not lend themselves to the techniques used. A 50+ individual may be the only older person in a group of Volunteers and initially may not feel part of the group. Some 50+ Volunteers may find it difficult to adapt to a lack of structure and clarity in their role after having worked for many years in a very structured and demanding job.
Volunteer Voices: ''Older Volunteers will be able to draw on the reserve of tolerance and understanding that maturity brings. Also, over-50 Volunteers who have friends across the age spectrum may find it difficult to establish similar circles of friends in Ukraine where communities are often much more segregated by age. Close ties and support networks may develop with other older Volunteers. As a member of a small group, it can be doubly hard when a friend must terminate service early due to medical and other issues. On the plus side, Ukrainians often revere their older citizens, and older Volunteers often find that they are treated with particular respect. One must take care to avoid exploiting this status even through it will be a challenge to keep up with the strength and stamina of a host family's grandmother or grandfather.''
Petco is inflation-proof, CEO says
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:00
A customer exits a Petco store in Clark, New Jersey.
Ron Antonelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Petco CEO Ron Coughlin on Wednesday said the specialty retailer has a key advantage in an uncertain environment: Americans spend on pets, even when their budgets tighten.
At an investor day in New York City, he said the pet category is "resilient to economic downturns, resilient to inflation."
Plus, he said, more people adopted pets during the pandemic, as they moved into larger homes with yards and spent more time working from home. He compared the dynamic to a baby boom, saying the need for food, vet care and more will outlast the global health crisis.
Petco wants to grab a bigger piece of the growing market. It estimates that the pet industry drove $72 billion in demand for food and other merchandise last year, and said that will grow by 7% by 2025 '-- with double-digit growth in premium merchandise. Competitors, including Chewy and Walmart, have also stepped up investments in the pet industry by launching new services from virtual vet visits to pet insurance, in addition to selling pet supplies.
To stand out in a crowded field, Petco has bulked up its private label offerings, expanded vet care and other pet services and wooed customers willing to splurge on everything from fashionable clothes to fresh and organic food as they treat dogs, cats, hamsters and other pets as family members. It is also testing a mini Petco shop inside of select Lowe's stores.
It had nearly 200 full-service veterinary hospitals at the end of the fiscal year and plans to grow that to 900, Chief Operating Officer Mike Nuzzo said Wednesday. It also encourages customers to get pet supplies and services from its stores through a subscription service called Vital Care, which offers unlimited vet exams and discounts on food and grooming, for $19.99 per month. It relaunched the program in March.
On the digital side, the company has leaned on stores to fulfill online orders and offer same-day pickup. Coughlin said that makes the e-commerce business more profitable, especially as gas prices rise and add up to higher costs for delivery companies.
The investor day on Wednesday marked Petco's first since it returned to the public market in early 2021. Shares closed the day at $19.45, down 1.32%, amid a broader market downturn. Petco's market value is $5.88 billion.
Petco reiterated its prior forecast for the year ahead at the investor day. The company said it expects between 97 cents and $1.00 of adjusted earnings per share on net revenue of $6.15 billion to $6.25 billion.
That represents an increase from Petco's $5.81 billion of net sales last fiscal year. That growth is roughly in line with Wall Street's expectations. Analysts expect 99 cents of adjusted earnings per share on revenue of $6.2 billion, according to Refinitiv.
SEC climate rule: Winners and losers
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 13:59
The seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hangs on the wall at SEC headquarters in Washington.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday released a proposal for new rules that would require companies to disclose their risks related to climate change and their greenhouse gas emissions. It will be a while until the proposal becomes law, but if it does, the implications will be sweeping.
Standardization of climate disclosure will spawn its own industry of professionals and technology solutions to track, validate and report those risks. Companies that are already voluntarily tracking and disclosing their emissions data could gain an advantage over their peers.
The SEC climate rule will also provide more transparency for investors, customers and other stakeholders to build a data-driven case for cleaner alternatives. Climate laggards may then lose money as customers and investors move their money to greener options.
Winners: Companies that control carbon emissionsCompanies that use clean energy and have relatively low carbon emissions will benefit from the SEC's climate rule, while carbon-intensive companies will "lose out over time," Claire Healy, director of the Washington, D.C., office of the independent climate change think tank E3G, told CNBC.
Clear emissions data gives shareholders, customers and other stakeholders a firm wall to push against for companies that are irresponsible with their emissions and other climate impacts, said Reena Aggarwal, a professor of finance at Georgetown.
There is historical precedent for clear information empowering investors to divest from companies that don't meet certain ethical standards, Aggarwal told CNBC.
For example, student protests helped drive universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuel investments. Also, sovereign wealth funds and pension funds, such as CalPERS in California, divested from tobacco stocks.
"Even though they might have taken a hit in returns in the short run, in the long run, they are reducing their risk by doing that," Aggarwal said.
But that's not to say the SEC climate data will become the only piece of a company's sustainability story.
"The SEC proposed rule is one more quiver on the arrow designed to change the calculus of investors and lead to faster decarbonization," Healy told CNBC. "It obviously combines with other factors that influence final investment decisions including tightening government policy, explicit / implicit carbon pricing, risk of asset-stranding, shareholder pressure, social license to operate, staff retention."
Losers: Businesses with surprisingly bad carbon footprintsCompanies with surprisingly high carbon emissions could be at a real disadvantage when the new rules take effect.
"I think these companies will suffer in two ways," said Aggarwal. "The cost of capital will go up, and their revenues will go down. So it's both the product market and the financial markets, impacting these companies."
She added, "I think that trend had already started. But now, as the transparency becomes more pronounced, it's going to be easier for both the consumer and the investor to see exactly what's going on."
However, the rules won't be a death knell for companies that have have heavy emissions but have already been disclosing their impact. Nor will it be a huge problem for companies where there simply isn't a viable alternative yet.
For example, manufacturing, industrial chemicals, cement and pulp and paper are energy-intensive industries, and most investors know this, said Brandon Owens, vice president of sustainability at the business consulting firm Insight Sourcing Group.
"I don't think there would be an expectation that suddenly they're able to decarbonize," Owens told CNBC. "We want transparency. Decisions can be made around that. We want to know that there is a plan in place for starting for starting to address the carbon footprint."
Winners: Compliance professionals and softwareCompanies will need help figuring out how to track and report their climate risk. Advisors, consultants and auditors who have that expertise will be in demand, including many big names in insurance and management consulting, according to Rich Sorkin, the CEO and co-founder of Jupiter, a climate risk analytics company.
Companies that can automate the carbon accounting and reporting process will also do well.
"You're going to have a Salesforce-type of success," in the sector, said Kentaro Kawamori, the CEO of Persefoni, a software platform that helps companies analyze, manage and report their carbon footprint.
"Just like Salesforce created the system of record for the customer record, companies like us '-- you will have one or two big winners '-- will create a system of record for the carbon accounting piece," Kawamori said.
Certainly, financial services companies will use artificial intelligence and data analytics in carbon accounting as it has been in financial accounting, but "they'll always be some role for human beings," Aggarwal told CNBC.
Losers: Supply chain vendors with messy scope 3 emissionsIn the SEC rule proposal, companies need to disclose their direct greenhouse gas emissions, which are called their scope one emissions, and their emissions from their electricity and other forms of energy they use, which are called scope two. Both are relatively easy to track.
But the proposal also requires companies to track scope-three emissions "if material," as the SEC said. Scope three emissions are indirect emissions that come from a company's supply chain and can be very difficult to track reliably.
Companies with complicated international supply chains may find this particularly challenging, according to Joe Schloesser, senior director at ISN, which helps companies monitor and vet contractors and suppliers to make sure they meet various standards, including ESG (environmental, social, corporate governance) practices.
"Industries with more complex supply chains, especially those reliant on international providers (apparel, pharma, manufacturing), will face more challenges in the short term, and may eventually bring back parts of their supply chains or manufacturing to domestic providers," he said.
Generally speaking, domestic suppliers are easier to monitor, and companies that rely on them will also have lower carbon emissions from transporting parts, Schloesser said.
The big ESG fund shuffleESG funds are a massive and growing industry: Sustainable fund assets increased by 9% to $2.74 trillion at the end of December 2021 around the world, according to a January report from Morningstar Direct.
The SEC's climate rule will help investors make more legitimate climate-conscious investments because there will finally be a standard way of comparing emissions across companies and industries.
"One of the benefits of having a standardized framework for reporting this information is that you will get clear, comparable and reliable data that we don't have now," Bryan McGannon, the director of policy at the The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, told CNBC.
With that, investors can make "apples to apples comparisons," McGannon said.
This information could cut down on "greenwashing" within ESG funds, Aggarwal told CNBC.
"That whole stretching of the definition of sustainable or climate funds is going to change pretty rapidly, so I think you're going to see a bunch of big losers there," Kawamori told CNBC.
On the flip side, ESG funds that have already been investing in rigorously tracking and understanding emissions data from their component companies '-- including "some very large funds...especially in the private equity space" '-- will be in a stronger position, Kawamori said.
The US is Preparing a Biological Time Bomb in Kazakhstan | New Eastern Outlook
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 13:27
The Open Regulations website and the website of the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan recently published information on the Kazakh government's intention to build a ''BSL-4 laboratory and underground storage facility for a collection of dangerous and highly dangerous strains'' in the south of the country in the Korday district of Zhambyl Region in the village of Gvardeisky. It is where the Research Institute for Biological Security Problems, now part of the Science Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which now works mainly on Pentagon research programmes, has been located since Soviet times. The ''Laboratory'' is scheduled to start construction at the beginning of 2022 and be completed in the Q4 2025. Its code BSL-4 stands for Biosafety Level 4.
An explanatory note from Kazakh Minister Beibut Atamkulov states that Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov gave the relevant instruction on October 25. Section 3 of the project document hints that no funds from the budget would be required to build such a hazardous facility, suggesting the involvement of the US Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which has already been allocated funds for this ''project''.
Thus, this ''laboratory'' may become the seventh Pentagon facility in Kazakhstan to be involved in the DTRA network of military biolaboratories disguised as alleged local disease outbreaks, becoming an integral part of the US military biological infrastructure in Eurasia and the post-Soviet space. It could be an obvious complement to the existing Central Reference Laboratory (CRL) built in Almaty in 2016. However, the said ''Laboratory'' will have nothing to do with local disease outbreaks, as it is already known that it will hold various strains of Africa's most dangerous diseases, such as the Ebola virus, as well as Marburg virus, smallpox and many others. And there are simply no real countermeasures against many of these pathogens. It turns out that DTRA will bring all these pathogens not only for storage, but also to study, upgrade and test on humans and local fauna.
In connection with the forthcoming construction of the ''Laboratory'', the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan was forced to make the project public, in particular through the little-known website Open Regulations, where, until November 19, citizens of Kazakhstan were given the opportunity to submit their views on the issue. Of the thousands of citizen submissions already published on the Open Regulations website, not a single one supports the project, with people of all nationalities strongly opposing it.
In fact, the ''Laboratory'' in question, given its funding by and reporting to the Pentagon alone, must be regarded as a veritable US military base. There is no doubt that the push by the United States through the government of Kazakhstan to build this military facility is the Pentagon's response to its refusal to allow troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan to the former Soviet Central Asian republics. Under these circumstances, Washington has thus found a way to maintain its military and political presence in Central Asia in the form of already new laboratories and a similar depot on the territory of Kazakhstan.
However, the disclosure by the Kazakh authorities of their intention to build the ''Laboratory'' in question with the participation of the US military department is at odds with the official assurances of the Kazakh authorities that no bacteriological weapons are being produced in the country and that there are no US military biologists. The US actually continues to heavily fund and oversee all existing US biolaboratories in Kazakhstan and intends to build new ones. Specialists from Russia and China have still not been allowed into these sites, despite repeated requests from the diplomatic departments of these states.
However, it should be recalled that today's globalized world increasingly depends on the quality of implementation of international agreements governing relations between countries. This is particularly important in areas such as respect for human rights, environmental protection and the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction. However, along the way, influential US politicians oppose the idea of an international system based on international treaties because, in their view, they could ''jeopardize US sovereignty''. Such a US stance is very dangerous, as it could make a massive violation of international obligations a practice. This, in turn, could hit the US itself, since international cooperation on disarmament and combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has become crucial in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
With regard to the intentions of Kazakhstan and the US to build a new laboratory, it should also be taken into account that the US has been rather reluctant to participate in reaching agreement on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC). This Convention was signed in 1972 and entered into force in 1975. It banned the development, production, storage and acquisition of biological agents that could be used as weapons and biological weapons themselves. The Convention included a specific protocol that banned the use of even small amounts of deadly microorganisms and poisons for research purposes. However, many senior officials opposed the protocol because they believed it could damage US microbiological research companies. In July 2001, the Bush Administration said it would not adhere to the requirements of the protocol ''until it is amended''.
As a result, the US has since 2001 and to date continued to block attempts to reopen work on a legally binding protocol to the BTWC, which is to date the only comprehensive international law instrument designed to comprehensively address the risks of biological weapons.
In these circumstances, the public, not only in Kazakhstan, but in all other countries should prevent the construction of another US military biolaboratory before Washington signs the BTWC protocol and allows the international public to inspect existing US biolaboratories outside of their country.
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
"Gas Stations Will Run Dry": Catastrophic Scenario For Diesel Emerging According To World's Biggest Energy Traders | ZeroHedge
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 12:53
While the world has been obsessively focused on crude oil and gasoline in recent weeks, we instead alerted readers to a far more dire scenario playing out in diesel, a source of energy which is absolutely critical in keeping the "just in time" world running on time.
As a reminder, here are some of the articles we have published on the topic in recent weeks, many even before the Ukraine war:
Diesel Is The U.S. Economy's Inflation Canary - Feb 8
U.S. Diesel Stocks Set To Fall Critically Low - Feb 18
China Asks State-Owned Refiners To Halt Gasoline, Diesel Exports - Mar 10
Global Diesel Shortage Raises Risk Of Even Greater Oil Price Spike - Mar 12
Fast-forward to today, when our warning was echoed by the heads of one of the largest commodity trading houses and the biggest independent oil trader who were speaking at the FT Commodities Global Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday.
The corporate leaders estimated that as much as 3 million barrels of oil and its products a day could be lost from Russia as a result of sanctions, in line with previous estimates, and warned that global markets face a squeeze on diesel with Europe most at risk of a ''systemic'' shortage that could lead to fuel rationing.
"The thing that everybody's concerned about will be diesel supplies. Europe imports about half of its diesel from Russia and about half of its diesel from the Middle East,'' said Russell Hardy, chief of Switzerland-based oil trader Vitol. ''That systemic shortfall of diesel is there.''
Those imports mean that Russian supplies account for about 15% of Europe's diesel consumption, according to the FT which carried their comments.
Hardy said the shift to more diesel consumption over gasoline in Europe had helped to create shortages of the fuel. He added that refineries could boost their diesel output in response to higher prices at the expense of other oil-derived products to shore up supply, but warned that rationing was a possibility.
Torbjorn Tornqvist, co-founder and chair of Geneva-headquartered Gunvor Group, added: ''Diesel is not just a European problem; this is a global problem. It really is."
Tornqvist also warned that European gas markets were no longer functioning properly as traders faced huge demands from banks for cash to cover hedging positions. ''I think it's broken. It really is,'' he said. ''I never thought that somebody could say 'ah, gas has fallen below 100 per megawatt hours is really cheap'.''
Gas futures linked to TTF, Europe's wholesale gas price have swung from about '‚¬70 a megawatt hour before Russia's invasion of Ukraine to about '‚¬230 two weeks ago and then slid below '‚¬100 this week. Before May 2021, European gas prices were below '‚¬20 a megawatt hour.
As noted last week, Europe's largest energy traders called on governments and central banks to provide emergency liquidity support to keep gas and power markets functioning as sharp price moves triggered by the Ukraine crisis have strained commodity markets. Hardy said that to move a cargo equivalent to 1 megawatt hour of liquefied natural gas priced at '‚¬97, traders must provide '‚¬80 in cash, straining their capital requirements.
Worse, confirming that Europe faces an even colder winter, Tornqvist said European utilities would struggle to fill gas storage for next winter given the ''paralysed'' state of the spot market for gas unless policymakers stepped in to provide guarantees to protect buyers against price swings.
But going back to diesel, Bloomberg's Javier Blas tweeted a handful of the scariest quotes from the energy CEOs at today's FT commodities summit:
Trafigura CEO Jeremy Weir: "The diesel market is extremely tight. It's going to get tighter and will probably lead into stock outs'' referring to when fuel stations run dry.
Gunvor CEO: "Europe is so short of diesel"
Vitol CEO: "The thing that everybody's concerned about will be diesel supplies"
Needless to say, without diesel, not only will traffic in Europe grind to a halt, but much if not all US truck based logistical support and supply chains will soon be paralyzed. The consequences for the global economy will be dire.
Breakthrough hospitalizations 'extremely uncommon' after COVID-19 immunity, Mayo study finds - Mayo Clinic News Network
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 12:44
ROCHESTER, Minn. '-- Fewer than 1 in 1,000 people who have been vaccinated or previously infected with COVID-19 were hospitalized with a new breakthrough infection, Mayo Clinic research finds. The study, which is published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, supports previous studies that show vaccination is the best way to prevent severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death.
"In the general primary care patient population, those who have been vaccinated have very low risk of subsequent hospitalization for breakthrough COVID-19," says lead author Benjamin Pollock, Ph.D., a researcher in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. "Our study shows that while it can and does happen, that these occurrences are extremely uncommon."
The researchers created a longitudinal study of 106,349 primary care patients at Mayo Clinic in Rochester who were 18 or older and tested positive for COVID-19, and/or were vaccinated for COVID-19. Of those patients, only 69 were hospitalized because of a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.
The researchers found the hospitalization rate was:
0.06%, or 6 in 10,000 for vaccinated patients.0.03%, or 3 in 10,000, in previously infected but unvaccinated people.0.01%, or 1 in 10,000, among those who were both vaccinated and infected previously.While there were slight differences between the three groups, the researchers note the difference is not statistically significant.
"We found these results to be in line with previous studies, although the interpretation shouldn't necessarily be that natural immunity provides the same protection as vaccination,'' says Dr. Pollock. ''Rather, this study found that among our primary care population, both natural immunity and vaccine immunity appeared to lead to very low rates of breakthrough hospitalizations."
The researchers looked at breakthrough cases that resulted in hospitalization, but they did not compare immunity after infection and vaccination rates among mild or asymptomatic breakthrough cases.
"We know that vaccination remains the safest route to protection from COVID-19 infection and severe disease," says Aaron Tande, M.D., a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases physician, and a co-author of the study. "I explain to my patients that a COVID-19 vaccine provides additional protection, even if they have been previously infected. For those who have not been infected, vaccination remains the safest and most reliable route of protection."
Previous studies have shown similar results, the researchers note. Some studies have shown that immunity after infection prevents the most hospitalizations. Other studies have shown that vaccination prevents the most hospitalizations. In both cases, breakthrough hospitalizations are similarly rare.
"Because it's impossible to tell in advance how severe a first infection may be, or who among vulnerable populations the virus may spread to, waiting for natural immunity is a gamble and not a safe alternative," Dr. Tande says.
The research was supported by the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. The center's research focuses on transforming clinical practice. Its researchers seek to discover new ways to improve health; translate those discoveries into evidence-based, actionable treatments, processes and procedures; and apply this new knowledge to improve patient care.
The senior author of the study is Priya Sampathkumar, M.D., a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases physician and head of Mayo's Infection Prevention and Control Program. In addition to Dr. Tande, the study's co-author is Curtis Storlie, Ph.D., a researcher in the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.
The research was funded by Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery. The team reports no conflicts of interest.
###
About Mayo ClinicMayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news.
Media contact:
Adam Harringa, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, newsbureau@mayo.edu
What are 'Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation' (MDM) Incidents? - Shared Assessments
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 12:41
What are 'Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation' (MDM) Incidents? Mar 4, 2022 | Best Practices
What are 'Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation' (MDM) incidents?Days before Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned organizations about foreign influence operations that leverage misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation (MDM). The guidance encouraged risk professionals to use the ''TRUST model'' to identify and respond to MDM incidents.
CISA defines Misinformation Disinformation Malinformation (MDM) incidents as ''information activities'' conducted by foreign or domestic ''threat actors'' while clarifying among three types of influence:
Misinformation: false, but not created or shared with the intention of causing harm.Disinformation: deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate a person, social group, organization, or country.Malinformation: based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.How can Risk Management prepare for MDM incidents?''This will sound familiar to Shared Assessments members who are well-versed in the 'trust but verify' third party risk management model,'' notes Shared Assessments Senior Advisor Charlie Miller. ''Given the events in Ukraine and their ripple effects, it's important for all companies to ensure that incident response and business continuity plans are current. It's also important to swiftly resolve any open items concerning control weaknesses in third parties. In fact, it's a good time to review the overall cyber hygiene of your and your vendors' Third Party Risk Management programs.''
While the CISA Insights bulletin addresses critical infrastructure organizations, Miller notes that other organizations can also benefit from its guidance on responding to the risks of MDM and similar ''influence operations.'' In mid-December, CISA released an updated list of the 55 ''national critical functions'' '' including communications networks and technology, medical and emergency services, utilities, transportation, elections infrastructure, financial services, and more '-- used to designate an organization as critical to the nation's infrastructure.
CISA Director Jen Easterly's comment about her agency's new guidance echoes Miller's point. ''We need to be prepared for the potential of foreign influence operations to negatively impact various aspects of our critical infrastructure with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine geopolitical tensions,'' notes Easterly, who is scheduled to speak at Shared Assessments annual Summit May 4-5. ''We encourage leaders at every organization to take proactive steps to assess their risks from information manipulation and mitigate the impact of potential foreign influence operations.''
CISA's three-page guidance document provides an overview of the MDM threat, a five-step game plan for managing the risk, and a sidebar on the TRUST model for MDM incident response that the agency previously detailed in guidance directed to U.S. elections officials:
Tell your story;Ready your team;Understand and assess;Strategize your response; andTrack the outcomes.''A single MDM narrative can seem innocuous, but when promoted consistently, to targeted audiences, and reinforced by peers and individuals with influence, it can have compounding effects,'' according to the new CISA Insights. ''Modern foreign influence operations demonstrate how a strategic and consistent exploitation of divisive issues, and a knowledge of the target audience and who they trust, can increase the potency and impact of an MDM narrative to National Critical Functions (NCFs) and critical infrastructure.''
The document also emphasizes that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has intensified the risk of foreign influence operations: ''Recently observed foreign influence operations abroad demonstrate that foreign governments and related actors have the capability to quickly employ sophisticated influence techniques to target U.S. audiences with the goal to disrupt U.S. critical infrastructure and undermine U.S. interests and authorities.''
When it comes to defending against MDM, CISA encourages NCF organizations to:
Assess the information environment;Identify vulnerabilities;Fortify communication channels;Engage in proactive communication; andDevelop an incident response plan.As Miller points out, seasoned risk professionals are well-schooled in strategies and actions related to risk assessment, vulnerability identification, and incident response. The elevated importance of communications-related activities in preventing and responding to MDM-related disturbances will be new to some third party risk management (TPRM) groups. CISA identifies two communications methods that are particularly helpful:
Build your network: Risk teams can prepare communication channels and establish important contacts prior to the occurrence of an MDM incident '' steps that will accelerate and strengthen the response when an MDM event occurs.Deploy communications as a tool: ''Using clear, consistent and relevant communications that not only respond but anticipate MDM is an important, effective way to maintain security and build public confidence in your organization.''While ''trust but verify'' represents the go-to standard in third party assessments, it holds similar value for critical infrastructure organizations assessing new communications-related risks amid geopolitical disruptions.
Eric KrellEric is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He has authored hundreds of articles on enterprise risk management (ERM), governance risk and compliance (GRC), treasury, finance and accounting, sales and marketing, cybersecurity and talent management for Consulting, HR Magazine, Treasury & Risk, Direct Marketing News and other business publications. Eric's lifestyle writing has appeared on National Public Radio and in Rolling Stone, Cooking Light, Men's Fitness, and other consumer outlets.
FDA Clears Crispr-Edited Cattle For Market Through Abbreviated Procedure: A First For Food-Use Animals | MoFo Life Sciences - JDSupra
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 12:38
On March 7, 2022, the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that Acceligen Inc.’s genome-edited, heat-tolerant cattle, pose a “low risk to humans, animals, the food supply, and the environment.” This is the first such determination for a genetically engineered food-use animal and will allow the company to bypass many of the usual premarket approval requirements.
These cattle, called PRLR-SLICK cattle, produce a short and slick hair coat due to a modification made to the prolactin receptor (PRLR) gene. This slick hair coat phenotype gives cattle the ability to regulate body temperature more effectively. This is important for raising cattle in tropical climates and might mitigate the predicted negative effects on livestock productivity associated with climate change.
This intentional genomic alteration (IGA) was accomplished using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology on in vitro fertilized calf embryos. Specifically, the IGA introduces a premature stop codon into the PRLR gene, and thereby truncates the encoded protein. IGAs like the alteration made to the PRLR gene in Acceligen’s cattle are intended to “affect the structure or function” of the altered animal, so FDA regulates them under its animal drug framework.
Marketing an animal drug typically requires premarket approval, which entails a lengthy New Animal Drug Application (NADA) process through which FDA can evaluate the animal drug for efficacy, safety to the animal, and safety to the consumer. The only other FDA-approved food-use animals—Revivicor’s GalSafe pigs (2020) and the AquaBounty AquAdvantage salmon (2017)—went through the full NADA determination process.
FDA discussed its intent to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to NADA requirements for IGA-containing animals as early as 2009, in guidance that has been updated several times, most recently in its 2017 Guidance #187, “Regulation of Intentionally Altered Genomic DNA in Animals.” But this is the first time that such enforcement discretion has been applied to an animal intended for food production.
When FDA exercises its enforcement discretion over the NADA requirements, it does not also conduct a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, which can add significant costs and time to the application process. FDA instead considers the potential environmental risks when determining whether to exercise enforcement discretion.
FDA examined four categories of risk factors in its risk assessment and concluded that PRLR-SLICK cattle pose a low risk to people, animals, the food supply, and the environment:
1. Molecular characterization
PRLR-SLICK cattle have an IGA that mimics genomic sequences found in conventionally raised cattleAnalyses of the genomic data found evidence of unintended mutations, but based on their types and locations, they are not expected to result in changes to protein expressionPRLR-SLICK cattle have the same phenotype (i.e., short, slick hair coat) as conventionally raised cattle with naturally occurring slick mutationsPRLR-SLICK cattle appear healthy based on visual observations and animal health recordsConventionally raised cattle with the slick phenotype are routinely consumed as human foodThere is no expected change in the compositional or nutritional content of the edible tissuesThe slick phenotype is a well-established trait in several breeds of conventionally raised domestic cattle in the United StatesThe likelihood of escape and establishment of PRLR-SLICK cattle in the U.S. environment is low due to the ability to rapidly recover escaped animals and the lack of feral cattle populations in the United StatesThe “low-risk” decision is limited to products (e.g., live cattle, semen, embryos, and meat) derived from the existing two cattle reviewed by FDA and their progeny. FDA also intends to treat facilities or farms engaged in standard agricultural practices for PRLR-SLICK cattle the same as facilities or farms that are engaged in these practices for cattle without IGAs.
According to FDA’s press release, meat products from PRLR-SLICK cattle are expected to be available for purchase by general consumers as early as 2024. PRLR-SLICK cattle meat and most other food products in which the cattle’s carcass is the predominant ingredient would not be subject to mandatory labeling under U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.
Owen Grayson Hosseinzadeh, Law Clerk in San Diego, contributed to the drafting of this post.
[View source.]
SEC.gov | ESG Disclosure '' Keeping Pace with Developments Affecting Investors, Public Companies and the Capital Markets
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 12:26
Statement Published in Connection with Remarks at the 33rd Annual Tulane Corporate Law Institute[1]Not long ago, the title of this statement would have needed to unpack ''ESG'' into Environmental, Social and Governance. That ESG no longer needs to be explained illustrates how important these issues have become to today's investors, public companies and capital markets. It also illustrates the pace of ESG developments. There remains substantial debate over the precise contents and details of what ESG disclosures might or should encompass. Part of the difficulty is in the fact that ESG is at the same time very broad, touching every company in some manner, but also quite specific in that the ESG issues companies face can vary significantly based on their industry, geographic location and other factors. As such, there is no one set of metrics that properly covers all ESG issues for all companies. Moreover, the landscape is changing rapidly so issues that yesterday were only peripheral today are taking on greater importance. It is against this backdrop that I think about the regulation of ESG disclosures.
Going forward, I believe SEC policy on ESG disclosures will need to be both adaptive and innovative. We can and should continue to adapt existing rules and standards to the realities of climate risk, for example, and the fact that investors increasingly are asking for ESG information to help them make informed investment and voting decisions. We will also need to be open to and supportive of innovation '' in both institutions and policies on the content, format and process for developing ESG disclosures.
Many ESG-related issues are similar to ones we have faced before. Asbestos-related disclosure is a great example. For years, asbestos-related risks were invisible, and information about asbestos would likely have been called ''non-financial.'' Over time, those risks went from invisible to visible to extremely clear, and clearly financial. Not surprisingly, disclosure about these risks did not initially show up in SEC filings, but there too they went from invisible to increasingly disclosed. How might a different disclosure regime have elicited different disclosures? Would it have resulted in more timely, clear and useful information for investors about asbestos manufacturers, sellers and insurance companies? What lessons can we learn from earlier examples of evolving risks?
My remarks here do not attempt to answer those or the multitude of other questions about ESG disclosures. Rather, I hope to highlight some of the issues that in my view policymakers should consider as the debate over ESG disclosures continues.
Considerations for an Effective ESG Disclosure SystemThe SEC should help lead the creation of an effective ESG disclosure system so companies can provide investors with information they need in a cost effective manner. An effective ESG disclosure system does not imply a rigid and soon-to-be outdated set of limited disclosures. It means thoughtful engagement by trusted specialists seeking consensus among investors and companies about useful, reliable and comparable disclosures under standards flexible enough to remain relevant. A process to create such standards is not likely to be simple, quick or easy. Important and challenging questions must be addressed, such as:
What disclosures are most useful?What is the right balance between principles and metrics?How much standardization can be achieved across industries?How and when should standards evolve?What is the best way to verify or provide assurance about disclosures?Where and how should disclosures be globally comparable?Where and how can disclosures be aligned with information companies already use to make decisions?These are questions that the SEC should be a key part of answering.
As we address these questions, we should keep in mind some additional points. First, while we should be mindful of the costs of new ESG disclosures, we must at the same time acknowledge the costs from the absence of a consensus ESG-focused disclosure system. Second, in thinking about ESG disclosures, we should not view ourselves as forced into a stark choice between voluntary and mandatory disclosure. Finally, a coordinated global disclosure system has great potential benefits, but achieving one will take careful attention to institutional design.
Costs of No ESG Disclosure RequirementsStarting with the costs, critics of ESG disclosure requirements often point to the costs associated with preparing the disclosures. Consideration of such costs is important, as is getting clear about their causes. But just as important is the recognition of the costs associated with not having ESG disclosure requirements. For investors, despite an abundance of ESG data, there is often a lack of consistent, comparable, and reliable ESG information available upon which to make informed investment and voting decisions. Investments are being held back in the absence of that information. The status quo is costly for companies, and increasingly so over time. Companies face higher costs in responding to investor demand for ESG information because there is no consensus ESG disclosure system. Rather, they are faced with numerous, conflicting and frequently redundant requests for different information about the same topics. These higher costs can be particularly burdensome for smaller and more capital constrained companies, and yet if these companies do not provide ESG disclosures, they risk higher costs of capital.
Mandatory vs. VoluntaryAs we think about structuring a disclosure system for ESG issues, one question that comes up is whether ESG disclosures should be the subject of mandatory versus voluntary disclosure provisions. People often think of mandatory disclosure in a way that suggests that there is nothing more than an on/off switch between mandatory and voluntary disclosure. Our existing disclosure regime, however, is already more nuanced than that, and there is no reason an ESG disclosure system would need to be less nuanced.
Our existing system contains some mandatory ESG disclosure requirements (e.g., disclosure of how a company's board considers diversity in identifying director nominees).[2] It permits significant differences in how companies respond to a variety of ''mandatory'' requirements, including in many cases disclosing items if and only if they are material. Our regime contains ''comply or explain'' requirements (e.g., if a company does not have an audit committee financial expert, it can explain why),[3] where the ability to explain makes the requirement less than rigidly mandatory and for some companies potentially more informative.
Finally, companies generally are mandated to make disclosures as needed to prevent other disclosures from being materially misleading. As companies continue to disclose more in sustainability reports, they should already be evaluating those disclosures in light of existing anti-fraud obligations. The SEC is well equipped to lead and facilitate a discussion on when and how ESG risks and data must be disclosed, and how to create and maintain an effective ESG-disclosure system that would promote the disclosure of decision-useful, reliable and, where appropriate, globally comparable ESG information.
The Virtues of Achieving a Single Global ESG Reporting FrameworkOn the issue of global comparability, in the first instance, arguments in favor of a single global ESG reporting framework are persuasive. ESG issues are global issues. ESG problems are global problems that need global solutions for our global markets. It would be unhelpful for multiple standards to apply to the same risks faced by the same companies that happen to raise capital or operate in multiple markets. In this regard, the work of the IFRS Foundation to establish a sustainability standards board appears promising.
Establishing a global framework, however, is complex and raises a number of considerations. Funding, governance and public accountability are all critical elements of a reliable, trusted disclosure system. Funding needs to be reliable and adequate, both now and over a reasonable time period into the future, and should not detract from other essential elements of the system for public company disclosures.
Governance needs to ensure the independence and expertise of any individuals involved in the setting of ESG disclosure standards, and allow for a rigorous, inclusive and transparent process for developing standards. Those involved should be accountable to relevant constituencies, including investors and companies. By seeking to address those considerations adequately and transparently, the SEC can and should play a leading role in the development of a baseline global framework that each jurisdiction can build upon to address its individual needs.
[1] This statement represents the views of the Acting Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission). It is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the SEC. The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content. This statement does not alter or amend applicable law and has no legal force or effect. This statement creates no new or additional obligations for any person.
[2] Item 407(c)(2)(vi) of Regulation S-K. (Disclosure required of ''whether, and if so how, the nominating committee (or the board) considers diversity in identifying nominees for director'' and ''if the nominating committee (or board) has a policy with regard to the consideration of diversity in identifying director nominees, describe how the policy is implemented, as well as how the nominating committee (or the board) assess the effectiveness of its policy.'')
[3] Item 407(d)(5) of Regulation S-K.
Amazon.com: Climate Pledge Friendly
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:49
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Sanctions on Russia's central bank reveal fatal flaw in sanction-proofing strategy | Fortune
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:39
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Russia's elite wants to eliminate Putin, they have already chosen a successor - intelligence | Ukrayinska Pravda
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:37
ROMAN PETRENKO - SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2022, 11:40
A group of influential people who oppose President Vladimir Putin and who plan to assassinate him, is forming among the Russian business and political elite, according to the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
Source: Chief Directorate of Intelligence
Details: The goal of this group is to remove Putin from power as soon as possible and restore economic ties with the West, destroyed by the war in Ukraine.
Quote: "A part of Russia's political elite sees Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov as Putin's successor. It is Bortnikov who has recently fallen out of favour with the Russian dictator. The official reason for the FSS leader's downfall is fatal miscalculations in the war against Ukraine.
It was Bortnikov and his department who were responsible for analysing the views of the Ukrainian population and the capacity of the Ukrainian army.
It is known that Bortnikov and some other influential members of the Russian elite are considering various options for removing Putin from power. In particular, poisoning, sudden illness, or other "accident" is not excluded.
It is possible that these processes are connected with the recent "leak" of the location of Chechen units in the north of Kyiv. "
More details: According to intelligence, this leak may have been intended both to weaken Kadyrov's influence and as an attempt to establish cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities in advance, bypassing the current leadership of the Russian Federation.
Pentagon Scrambles To Restock Weapons Sent To Ukraine As Arms-Makers Cash-In | ZeroHedge
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:34
Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,
The Pentagon is scrambling to replenish stocks of Javelin and Stinger missiles the US and its allies have sent to Ukraine as US defense contractors are cashing in on Washington's support for Ukraine's war against Russia.
According to open-sourced data examined by Politico, it is estimated that the US has sent Ukraine 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems and 4,600 Javelin anti-tank missiles since January. US allies such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and the Netherlands have also sent either Stingers or Javelins to Ukraine that the Pentagon is looking to replace.
Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems facility in Woburn, Massachusetts.Javelin missiles are made through a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies. Stingers are produced solely by Raytheon, the former employer of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who served on the board of the weapons maker before taking his post at the Pentagon.
Congress has already handed the Pentagon $3.5 billion to replenish its weapons stocks as part of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that President Biden recently signed. Sources told Politico that the Pentagon faces some hurdles in getting the missiles produced as quickly as they want and is considering invoking the Defense Production Act.
The Defense Production Act would allow arms makers such as Raytheon and Lockheed to cut the line and receive necessary components ahead of other domestic manufacturers. Pentagon spokesperson Jessica Maxwell told Politico that the Pentagon hadn't made a decision on invoking the law.
For now, Javelins and Stingers are still being made, and a source told Politico that Lockheed and Raytheon will ramp up production once funding from the government comes through. Back in January, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes said the company could benefit from the tensions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere around the world.
#Ukraine: Rare footage of actual combat use of the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile system by the Ukrainian army. pic.twitter.com/lGJGIG7bMi
'-- 🇺ðŸ‡... Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 19, 2022"[W]e are seeing, I would say, opportunities for international sales. We just have to look to last week where we saw the drone attack in the UAE, which have attacked some of their other facilities. And of course, the tensions in Eastern Europe, the tensions in the South China Sea, all of those things are putting pressure on some of the defense spending over there. So I fully expect we're going to see some benefit from it," Hayes said.
New York City mayor to lift vaccine mandate for performers and athletes: reports | Fox News
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:33
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New York City Mayor Eric Adams is expected to announce a major policy change Thursday that will lift a coronavirus vaccine mandate for performers and athletes, allowing the unvaccinated to play professional sports in the city, according to multiple reports.
Teams in the Big Apple had been awaiting a rollback of the private employer mandate that prohibits unvaccinated employees from working in person. The mandate prohibits athletes unvaccinated against COVID-19 from playing games in New York.
Adams is expected to reverse the mandate for performers and athletes in local venues in New York City, including Citi Field in Queens, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Politico reported. Those venues are home to the New York Mets, New York Yankees, and the Brooklyn Nets.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM
Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who is unvaccinated, was not permitted to play in any games in New York City this season due to the mandate. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver chimed in on the rule last month, saying it "doesn't quite make sense."
"This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players," Silver said. "I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn't quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays, but the home player can't. To me, that's a reason they should take a look at that ordinance."
The Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving reacts after hitting a shot in a game against the Indiana Pacers Jan. 5, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Irving, who made it clear he wasn't going to be vaccinated, may make his home debut Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets.
The expected announcement also comes just prior to the start of baseball season. The home opener for the Mets is scheduled for April 15, while the Yankees host the Boston Red Sox on April 7.
Players on both the Mets and Yankees have been awaiting news from City Hall in regard to the mandate. Last week, Aaron Judge refused to directly answer a question about his vaccine status.
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge shares a laugh with teammates during a spring training workout March 14, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
TREVOR NOAH MOCKS NYC VACCINE RULES ALLOWING KYRIE IRVING TO ATTEND GAMES BUT NOT PLAY: 'MAKES ZERO SENSE'
"I'm still focused on just getting to the first game of spring training," Judge said at the team's Florida training complex. "So I think we'll cross that bridge after the time comes. But right now, so many things could change. So I'm not really too worried about that right now."
Since taking office, Adams has been relaxing COVID-19 policies put in place by former Mayor Bill de Blasio. Last week, Adams said he expected to eventually roll back the city's coronavirus vaccine mandate for private sector employers.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks during the New York State Democratic Convention in New York Feb. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
"We're going to do it in the right way," Adams said Wednesday, according to ESPN. "We're going to follow the science ... we're going to make the right decision. And in New York, no matter what you do, this is 8.8 million people and 30 million opinions, so you're never going to satisfy New Yorkers, so you must go with the logic, your heart and the science."
Adams noted he was focusing on his city as a whole, not just the athletes who play there.
"Everyone is focused on the sports area. They're focusing on one person. I'm focusing on 9 million people," the mayor said last week. "I'm not looking at one person. I'm looking at my city not closing down again."
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Adams has already announced plans to lift the mask mandate on April 4 for toddlers in city day care centers.
SEC Floats Mandatory Disclosure of Climate-Change Risks, Emissions - WSJ
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:17
Proposal would require public companies to provide estimates of direct and indirect greenhouse-gas emissions
Updated March 21, 2022 3:58 pm ETWASHINGTON'--U.S. regulators proposed stringent requirements for publicly traded companies to report information on greenhouse-gas emissions and risks related to climate change, in one of the Biden administration's potentially most significant environmental actions to date.
The Securities and Exchange Commission formally offered a 534-page proposal Monday that would force publicly traded companies to report greenhouse-gas emissions from their own operations as well as from the energy they consume, and to obtain independent certification...
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WASHINGTON'--U.S. regulators proposed stringent requirements for publicly traded companies to report information on greenhouse-gas emissions and risks related to climate change, in one of the Biden administration's potentially most significant environmental actions to date.
The Securities and Exchange Commission formally offered a 534-page proposal Monday that would force publicly traded companies to report greenhouse-gas emissions from their own operations as well as from the energy they consume, and to obtain independent certification of their estimates.
In some cases, companies also would be required to report greenhouse-gas output of both their supply chains and consumers, known as Scope 3 emissions. An SEC official said most companies in the S&P 500 would likely have to report Scope 3 emissions. Companies would have to include the information in SEC filings such as annual reports.
The proposal comes as President Biden's efforts to address global warming through legislation have stalled in Congress, putting pressure on regulatory agencies to deliver on a core Democratic priority. That has drawn criticism from Republicans, who accused Democratic SEC Chairman Gary Gensler of overreach.
Mr. Gensler says investors and asset managers representing tens of trillions of dollars have called for companies' climate-related disclosures to be more standardized. While hundreds of firms have already begun reporting data about their carbon emissions and other climate-related metrics, SEC officials say current disclosures are inconsistent and hard for investors to compare.
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''Companies and investors alike would benefit from the clear rules of the road proposed in this release,'' Mr. Gensler said in a statement.
Meredith Cross, a partner at corporate law firm WilmerHale and former SEC division director, said the proposed rule is ''the most extensive, comprehensive and complicated disclosure initiative in decades.''
SEC members voted 3-1 to issue the proposal, which will be open for public comment for at least two months before the agency will begin work on a final rule. Commissioners voted along party lines, with all three Democrats backing the proposal.
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Republicans and some industry groups have been gearing up for months to fight the new requirements, which are a hallmark of Mr. Gensler's ambitious policy agenda. They say the proposed rules would increase compliance costs and go far beyond a strict interpretation of the SEC's mandate to protect investors by requiring disclosure of information relevant to companies' financial performance.
''Today's action hijacks the democratic process and disrespects the limited scope of authority that Congress gave to the SEC,'' Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) said in an emailed statement. ''This is a thinly veiled effort to have unelected financial regulators set climate and energy policy for America.''
Democrats in Congress and members of the Biden administration touted the proposal as delivering on a key promise of the president to address climate change.
''Investors and businesses have for years asked for reliable information that can be used to assess climate-related risks and opportunities,'' Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
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said in a statement, adding that the rule will protect investors and make the financial system more resilient. The Financial Stability Oversight Council, which Ms. Yellen leads, formally designated climate change an
emerging and growing risk to U.S. financial stability last year.
SEC commissioners, staff and advisers spent months negotiating the contours of the proposal. Their challenge is to reconcile two conflicting goals: To make public as much information about climate change and associated risks as they can feasibly demand from companies, and to craft rules that withstand legal scrutiny in federal courts that have grown increasingly conservative.
A sticking point in the deliberations were the circumstances in which the SEC would mandate disclosure of Scope 3 emissions, which is typically much larger than a company's direct greenhouse-gas output. But companies struggle to accurately estimate the emissions from their suppliers, who may not offer their own calculations of greenhouse-gas output, or from customers who use their products and services.
The rules proposed Monday would allow companies a degree of flexibility. Disclosure of Scope 3 emissions would be mandatory only if output of those greenhouse gasses is material, or significant to investors, or if companies outline specific targets for them.
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For instance, if a company announces plans to reach ''net-zero'' emissions by a certain date, it would have to specify whether that goal includes all scopes of greenhouse-gas output. If so, disclosure of its Scope 3 emissions would have to be included in its SEC filings starting in 2025 for large firms. Companies wouldn't, however, be required to obtain independent assurance that their Scope 3 estimates are accurate and wouldn't be held liable for the estimates if they were provided in good faith.
Many regulators say the threats to companies from global warming fall into two buckets: First are the so-called physical risks posed to a company's facilities and operations by the increased frequency of extreme weather events'--droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes'--in regions where such occurrences used to be rare. Second are ''transition risks'' resulting from efforts to both wean the economy off fossil fuels and prepare for the effects of climate change.
The SEC's proposal would require publicly traded companies to include in their financial statements estimates of the impact of both sets of risks. Companies also would have to provide broader explanations about their long-term vulnerabilities to climate change and their processes for addressing those concerns.
Republican SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce voted against the proposal and issued dissenting statement of 6,300-words'--not including footnotes.
''We are here laying the cornerstone of a new disclosure framework that will eventually rival our existing securities-disclosure framework in magnitude and cost, and probably outpace it in complexity,'' Ms. Peirce said. She warned that the proposed rules will enrich ''the climate-industrial complex'' while hurting investors, the economy and the SEC.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said companies already provide strong reporting around environmental issues and said the SEC proposal is too prescriptive and could lead to filings that aren't of importance to investors.
''The Supreme Court has been clear that any required disclosures under securities laws must meet the test of materiality, and we will advocate against provisions of this proposal that deviate from that standard or are unnecessarily broad,'' said Tom Quaadman, head of the chamber's capital-markets division.
While energy and transportation firms have opposed far-reaching disclosure requirements around climate, other industries and investor groups have been supportive. The Investment Company Institute, which represents asset managers, said it was pleased with aspects of the SEC proposal while saying it will ''carefully study'' the approach toward Scope 3 disclosures.
''Having consistent, comparable, and reliable data makes it easier for fund managers to better assess current and future sustainability-related risks on behalf of the millions of investors who invest in their funds,'' ICI President Eric Pan said.
The requirements outlined Monday would dramatically increase disclosure from companies under the SEC's oversight. The U.S. is viewed by some as having fallen behind some other jurisdictions on climate reporting in recent years.
Mr. Biden, who nominated Mr. Gensler last year, said in his 2020 campaign platform that there was no greater threat than climate change. He promised to reduce carbon emissions and invest in more-sustainable energy. Democratic legislation that would have dedicated significant funding for such efforts died in the Senate last year, though Mr. Biden's climate-change plans have regained momentum more recently.
Regulators have been quicker to act. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has finished rules that limit the use of coolant chemicals that are potent greenhouse gasses, and rules to lower emissions from passenger cars and trucks. The agency also has announced preliminary steps to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from the oil and gas industry.
'--Timothy Puko contributed to this article.
Write to Paul Kiernan at paul.kiernan@wsj.com
BlackRock's Fink says Ukraine war marks end of globalisation | Financial Times
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:13
Boss of $10tn asset manager warns on inflation as companies reconfigure supply chains
Larry Fink, in his annual letter to shareholders, also said BlackRock would continue to work with fossil fuel companies (C) EPA-EFERussia's invasion of Ukraine will reshape the world economy and further drive up inflation by prompting companies to pull back from their global supply chains, BlackRock's Larry Fink has warned.
''The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put an end to the globalisation we have experienced over the last three decades,'' Fink wrote in his annual chairman's letter to shareholders of BlackRock, which oversees $10tn as the world's largest asset manager.
While the immediate result has been Russia's total isolation from the capital markets, Fink predicted ''companies and governments will also be looking more broadly at their dependencies on other nations. This may lead companies to onshore or nearshore more of their operations resulting in a faster pull back from some countries.''
''A large-scale reorientation of supply chains will inherently be inflationary,'' Fink wrote, in a wide-ranging 10-page letter that also addressed the invasion's effect on the energy transition and cryptocurrencies, and updated investors on BlackRock's business lines and the reopening of its main offices.
The letter did not mention any specific country that would be hurt by the shifts, but Fink wrote that ''Mexico, Brazil, the United States, or manufacturing hubs in southeast Asia could stand to benefit''. Other investors have argued that the last group could substitute for China, where BlackRock last year launched a set of retail investment products.
Fink has advocated for companies in which BlackRock invests to do more to address climate change. His letter predicted that the Russian invasion will affect the transition to cleaner energy.
Initially, the search for alternatives to Russian oil and natural gas ''will inevitably slow the world's progress toward net zero [emissions] in the near term,'' he wrote.
''Longer-term, I believe that recent events will actually accelerate the shift toward greener sources of energy'' because higher prices for fossil fuels will make a broader range of renewables financially competitive, he wrote.
Though climate activists want investors to shun fossil fuels entirely, Fink rejected this approach, as he did in his January letter to chief executives. ''BlackRock remains committed to helping clients navigate the energy transition. This includes continuing to work with hydrocarbon companies,'' he wrote. ''To ensure the continuity of affordable energy prices during the transition, fossil fuels like natural gas will be important as a transition fuel.''
In one of his first comments on cryptocurrencies, Fink drew attention to the Ukraine war's ''potential impact on accelerating digital currencies'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰A global digital payment system, thoughtfully designed, can enhance the settlement of international transactions while reducing the risk of money laundering and corruption.''
RecommendedHe told investors that owing to increasing client interest, BlackRock was studying digital currencies and the underlying technology.
Fink commiserated with his shareholders over a rocky start for financial markets this year, in which BlackRock shares are down nearly 20 per cent. ''I share your disappointment in our stock's performance year-to-date. But we've faced challenging markets before. And we've always managed to come out better and more prepared on the other side,'' he wrote.
He also noted that the company is coming off ''the strongest organic growth in its history'' in 2021 when buoyant markets and rising interest in alternative assets and exchange traded funds brought $540bn of net inflows.
Looking ahead, Fink made clear that BlackRock wants employees back in the office but will not be among those employers who insist on a complete return to pre-pandemic norms. ''Working together, collaborating and developing our people in person is essential for BlackRock's future,'' he wrote. ''There are certain conversations that can't be replicated on a video call'‰.'‰.'‰. We lose the space, the creativity, and the emotional connectivity that come from being together in person''.
''At the same time, we recognise the pandemic has redefined the relationship between employers and employees. To retain and attract best-in-class diverse talent, we need to maintain the flexibility of working from home at least part of the time,'' he said.
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Trying to Solve a Covid Mystery: Africa's Low Death Rates - The New York Times
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 11:11
Global Health
The coronavirus was expected to devastate the continent, but higher-income and better-prepared countries appear to have fared far worse.
A wedding in the village of Kamakuyor in northern Sierra Leone last month. During the pandemic, the village's district has recorded just 11 Covid cases and no deaths. Credit... Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times March 23, 2022
KAMAKWIE, Sierra Leone '-- There are no Covid fears here.
The district's Covid-19 response center has registered just 11 cases since the start of the pandemic, and no deaths. At the regional hospital, the wards are packed '-- with malaria patients. The door to the Covid isolation ward is bolted shut and overgrown with weeds. People cram together for weddings, soccer matches, concerts, with no masks in sight.
Sierra Leone, a nation of eight million on the coast of Western Africa, feels like a land inexplicably spared as a plague passed overhead. What has happened '-- or hasn't happened '-- here and in much of sub-Saharan Africa is a great mystery of the pandemic.
The low rate of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths in West and Central Africa is the focus of a debate that has divided scientists on the continent and beyond. Have the sick or dead simply not been counted? If Covid has in fact done less damage here, why is that? If it has been just as vicious, how have we missed it?
The answers ''are relevant not just to us, but have implications for the greater public good,'' said Austin Demby, Sierra Leone's health minister, in an interview in Freetown, the capital.
The assertion that Covid isn't as big a threat in Africa has sparked debate about whether the African Union's push to vaccinate 70 percent of Africans against the virus this year is the best use of health care resources, given that the devastation from other pathogens, such as malaria, appears to be much higher.
In the first months of the pandemic, there was fear that Covid might eviscerate Africa, tearing through countries with health systems as weak as Sierra Leone's, where there are just three doctors for every 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. The high prevalence of malaria, H.I.V., tuberculosis and malnutrition was seen as kindling for disaster.
That has not happened. The first iteration of the virus that raced around the world had comparatively minimal impact here. The Beta variant ravaged South Africa, as did Delta and Omicron, yet much of the rest of the continent did not record similar death tolls.
Into Year Three of the pandemic, new research shows there is no longer any question of whether Covid has spread widely in Africa. It has.
Studies that tested blood samples for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the official name for the virus that causes Covid, show that about two-thirds of the population in most sub-Saharan countries do indeed have those antibodies. Since only 14 percent of the population has received any kind of Covid vaccination, the antibodies are overwhelmingly from infection.
Image A busy morning at the fish market at Man of War Bay in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital. Credit... Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times Image Fudia Kamara, 25, sat with her son Kabba Kargbo, 3, in the hospital in Kamakwie, Sierra Leone. Like nearly all the children in the pediatric ward, he had malaria. Credit... Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times A new W.H.O.-led analysis, not yet peer-reviewed, synthesized surveys from across the continent and found that 65 percent of Africans had been infected by the third quarter of 2021, higher than the rate in many parts of the world. Just 4 percent of Africans had been vaccinated when these data were gathered.
So the virus is in Africa. Is it killing fewer people?
Some speculation has focused on the relative youth of Africans. Their median age is 19 years, compared with 43 in Europe and 38 in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under 25, and only 3 percent is 65 or older. That means far fewer people, comparatively, have lived long enough to develop the health issues (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer) that can sharply increase the risk of severe disease and death from Covid. Young people infected by the coronavirus are often asymptomatic, which could account for the low number of reported cases.
Plenty of other hypotheses have been floated. High temperatures and the fact that much of life is spent outdoors could be preventing spread. Or the low population density in many areas, or limited public transportation infrastructure. Perhaps exposure to other pathogens, including coronaviruses and deadly infections such as Lassa fever and Ebola, has somehow offered protection.
Since Covid tore through South and Southeast Asia last year, it has become harder to accept these theories. After all, the population of India is young, too (with a median age of 28), and temperatures in the country are also relatively high. But researchers have found that the Delta variant caused millions of deaths in India, far more than the 400,000 officially reported. And rates of infection with malaria and other coronaviruses are high in places, including India, that have also seen high Covid fatality rates.
So are Covid deaths in Africa simply not counted?
Most global Covid trackers register no cases in Sierra Leone because testing for the virus here is effectively nonexistent. With no testing, there are no cases to report. A research project at Njala University in Sierra Leone has found that 78 percent of people have antibodies for this coronavirus. Yet Sierra Leone has reported only 125 Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Most people die in their homes, not in hospitals, either because they can't reach a medical facility or because their families take them home to die. Many deaths are never registered with civil authorities.
This pattern is common across sub-Saharan Africa. A recent survey by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa found that official registration systems captured only one in three deaths.
Image Nurses at a hospital in Neave, South Africa, moved a patient who died of Covid to a temporary morgue in November 2020. South Africa is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa to record high Covid infection and death rates. Credit... Samantha Reinders for The New York Times Image Preparing a Covid vaccine in the town of Kathantha Yimbo in Sierra Leone. The lack of reported Covid cases in the country is raising questions about whether resources should be directed at more urgent problems. Credit... Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times The one sub-Saharan country where almost every death is counted is South Africa. And it's clear from the data that Covid has killed a great many people in that country, far more than the reported virus deaths. Excess mortality data show that between May 2020 and September 2021, some 250,000 more people died from natural causes than was predicted for that time period, based on the pattern in previous years. Surges in death rates match those in Covid cases, suggesting the virus was the culprit.
Dr. Lawrence Mwananyanda, a Boston University epidemiologist and special adviser to the president of Zambia, said he had no doubt that the impact in Zambia had been just as severe as in South Africa, but that Zambian deaths simply had not been captured by a much weaker registration system. Zambia, a country of more than 18 million people, has reported 4,000 Covid-19 deaths.
''If that is happening in South Africa, why should it be different here?'' he said. In fact, he added, South Africa has a much stronger health system, which ought to mean a lower death rate, rather than a higher one.
A research team he led found that during Zambia's Delta wave, 87 percent of bodies in hospital morgues were infected with Covid. ''The morgue was full. Nothing else is different '-- what is different is that we just have very poor data.''
The Economist, which has been tracking excess deaths throughout the pandemic, shows similar rates of death across Africa. Sondre Solstad, who runs the Africa model, said that there had been between one million and 2.9 million excess deaths on the continent during the pandemic.
''It would be beautiful if Africans were spared, but they aren't,'' he said.
But many scientists tracking the pandemic on the ground disagree. It's not possible that hundreds of thousands or even millions of Covid deaths could have gone unnoticed, they say.
''We have not seen massive burials in Africa. If that had happened, we'd have seen it,'' said Dr. Thierno Bald(C), who runs the W.H.O.'s Covid emergency response in Africa.
''A death in Africa never goes unrecorded, as much as we are poor at record-keeping,'' said Dr. Abdhalah Ziraba, an epidemiologist at the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya. ''There is a funeral, an announcement: A burial is never done within a week because it is a big event. For someone sitting in New York hypothesizing that they were unrecorded '-- well, we may not have the accurate numbers, but the perception is palpable. In the media, in your social circle, you know if there are deaths.''
Dr. Demby, the Sierra Leone health minister, who is an epidemiologist by training, agreed. ''We haven't had overflowing hospitals. We haven't,'' he said. ''There is no evidence that excess deaths are occurring.''
Which could be keeping the death rate lower?
Image Abu Kamara tended to his mother, Ramatu Sesay, in the hospital at Kamakwie, Sierra Leone. The hospital wards contain cancer and malaria patients, but none with Covid. Credit... Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times Image A path leading to the community graveyard in Mabin. Many Sierra Leoneans who die are laid to rest in small village burial grounds and not included in official records. Credit... Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times While health surveillance is weak, he acknowledged, Sierra Leoneans have the recent, terrible experience of Ebola, which killed 4,000 people here in 2014-16. Since then, he said, citizens have been on alert for an infectious agent that could be killing people in their communities. They would not continue to pack into events if that were the case, he said.
Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who is on the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Covid task force and who was part of the research team tracking excess deaths in South Africa, believes the death toll continentwide is probably consistent with that of his country. There is simply no reason that Gambians or Ethiopians would be less vulnerable to Covid than South Africans, he said.
But he also said it was clear that large numbers of people were not turning up in the hospital with respiratory distress. The young population is clearly a key factor, he said, while some older people who die of strokes and other Covid-induced causes are not being identified as coronavirus deaths. Many are not making it to the hospital at all, and their deaths are not registered. But others are not falling ill at rates seen elsewhere, and that's a mystery that needs unraveling.
''It's hugely relevant to things as basic as vaccine development and treatment,'' said Dr. Prabhat Jha, who heads the Centre for Global Health Research in Toronto and is leading work to analyze causes of death in Sierra Leone.
Researchers working with Dr. Jha are using novel methods '-- such as looking for any increase in revenue from obituaries at radio stations in Sierra Leonean towns over the past two years '-- to try to see if deaths could have risen unnoticed, but he said it was clear there had been no tide of desperately sick people.
Some organizations working on the Covid vaccination effort say the lower rates of illness and death should be driving a rethinking of policy. John Johnson, vaccination adviser for Doctors Without Borders, said that vaccinating 70 percent of Africans made sense a year ago when it seemed like vaccines might provide long-term immunity and make it possible to end Covid-19 transmission. But now that it's clear that protection wanes, collective immunity no longer looks achievable. And so an immunization strategy that focuses on protecting just the most vulnerable would arguably be a better use of resources in a place such as Sierra Leone.
''Is this the most important thing to try to carry out in countries where there are much bigger problems with malaria, with polio, with measles, with cholera, with meningitis, with malnutrition? Is this what we want to spend our resources on in those countries?'' he asked. ''Because at this point, it's not for those people: It's to try to prevent new variants.''
And new variants of Covid pose the greatest risk in places with older populations and high levels of comorbidities such as obesity, he said.
Other experts cautioned that the virus remained an unpredictable foe and that scaling back efforts to vaccinate sub-Saharan Africans could yet lead to tragedy.
''We can't get complacent and assume Africa can't go the way of India,'' Dr. Jha said.
A new variant as infectious as Omicron but more lethal than Delta could yet emerge, he warned, leaving Africans vulnerable unless vaccination rates increased significantly.
''We should really avoid the hubris that all Africa is safe,'' he said.
The Conundrum of Sexual Life in Today's America - The Atlantic
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 18:03
They've appeared in major metropolitan areas of America: bright ads in startling technicolor, featuring eely, long tongues and hairy chests, that promote the services of the dating app OkCupid. Each image serves as an entry in the taxonomy of modern romance: OkCupid is, apparently, for ''every single pansexual,'' ''every single bookworm,'' ''every single vaxxer,'' and so on. Encountering these ads during my morning subway commute, I've been struck by the trickiness of their cataloging act. OkCupid has cast a charmed circle of inclusion, from which some people must still inevitably be excluded. Its ads celebrate, for example, ''every single feminist'' but not, of course, the opposite ideological position; ''every single tree hugger'' is called upon to join OkCupid, but there's no mention of those who want both lovers and a fossil-fuel-based economy.
You can call this selectiveness the politicization of dating (obvious), or the commercialization of politics (better), but most accurate would be to say that it is the natural impasse of sexual life in America. Sex, post''free love and post-#MeToo, is based equally on permissiveness and control: Changing norms suggest that everyone is allowed what they want, provided that what they want falls within certain uneasily maintained boundaries. Society is now porn-positive, so long as the porn is the good kind. The media, which have elevated individual desire to a ruling principle, extol kinky sex and violent sex while nevertheless stoking anxiety about the political savoriness of these activities. Nowadays, those who are sexually active or interested in sex are presented with a bounty circumscribed by the knowledge of that bounty's possible dangers. But who, aside from the advertising executives at OkCupid, would want to arrogate to themselves this sort of authority, cataloging novel ethical codes of romance? As the feminist philosopher Amia Srinivasan wrote in The Right to Sex, ''where does speaking about morality end and moralising begin?''
Read: The problem with being cool about sex
Corinne Hoex's Gentlemen Callers, translated from the French by Caitlin O'Neil, offers not so much a contribution to this problem as a path of diversion'--a refreshing shortcut through the thickety discourses of sex, power, and consent. The destination, the clearing in the forest, is pleasure. Hoex's book, which unfolds as a series of presumed dreams about the unnamed narrator's entanglements with different men, flaunts an obsession with heterosexual romance, that wellspring of so much contemporary anxiety. Yet these uncanny erotic couplings aren't plagued by the neuroticism of modern-day encounters; they take place in a humid atmosphere of surrealism and sensory profusion, sometimes even going beyond the realm of the human. Through these encounters, Hoex's narrator seems able to perceive the lucid image of her own pleasure, which in real life'--surveilled and structured as it is by the male gaze'--women rarely get to do.
Hoex substitutes feeling for overthinking'--the writing foregrounds material texture and taste, modeling a sort of Epicureanism of stimulation. In one representative vignette, our narrator embraces her paramour, a swimming instructor, as less a woman than an octopus: She feels her arms extend fantastically as they ''wrap around his waist, clasp his hips, palpate his scarlet suit under their suckers.'' She senses, instead of skin-on-skin contact, a stranger texture: the wet, chlorinated smack of suction, ''the incomparable qualities of elastane and Lycra.'' The men in Gentlemen Callers change, but Hoex pursues this commitment to the sensory with a religious seriousness.
That most of the sex in Gentlemen Callers seemingly occurs in dreams is significant; it's typically the realm where we are least in control of ourselves and where, crucially, withholding or granting consent is impossible. Male interests are consistently distinguished by profession: the baker, the beach attendant, the chiropractor'--pairings that feel almost like porny setups or costumed role-play. Hoex's verbs are fevered and dramatic, but unlike the prose of smut, also otherworldly: In sex, the narrator churns, thickens, elongates. She describes, at one point, how a partner ''splashed'' her against his chest. Her language is exciting but not arousing. Far from the brute literality of bodice-rippers, Hoex's writing deploys the abstraction of poetry, as bodily pleasure folds into the pleasure of the surprisingly well-placed word.
The narrator's romantic explorations are inseparable from the public sphere; she undertakes her trysts while stopping by the tailor or the butcher's shop, in a kind of circuit of sexual errand-running. The fact that her counterparts are identified by profession reiterates sex's concealed presence amid everyday modern life; it is no surprise that Charles Baudelaire, eminent theorist of the flaneur, is quoted throughout the book. To be sexually available is to be receptive to strangers, the ways they both shock and help us; the same is true for living, fully, in a city. Sometimes the narrator's partners are eager to please, referring politely to her as ''Madame''; other times they wield their scissors and knives more imperiously. The narrator feels enlivened rather than objectified by these anonymous interactions. Even when things get meta, as dreams are wont to do'--at one point, a gentleman caller insolently demands entrance into her reveries'--she maintains the upper hand, concocting a dutiful night watchman to stand guard before her dreams. ''Sleep well,'' he promises her. ''You won't be disturbed.''
Hoex's narrator repeatedly demonstrates a desire to relinquish the human form'--an avowal not of beastiality but of curiosity. In one vignette, the woman dreams of being a cat, then, as a cat, dreams of being a woman. All the while an attentive pet groomer brushes her ''smoothly, with devotion.'' Is she the animal or the human nestled inside the animal? Either, it seems'--as the groomer ''kneads'' her body, she proclaims herself a ''Persian pussy'' (the pun works in French too). I read in this shape-shifting a wish to encounter love in all its possible physical logics. As a cat, the narrator can be brushed; as a fly, she can buzz in her man's ear.
Reading Hoex, one can't help intuit the meagerness of our culture's erotic imagination, which portrays straight women who are sexually subversive in exceedingly limited ways. The female sexual outlaw, in mainstream imagination, tends to be either abjectly submissive (Sally Rooney's protagonists; Story of O) or worryingly promiscuous (Lars von Trier's film Nymphomaniac). These roles thrill us, because they seem to offer both escape from and capitulation to patriarchal norms'--they are visions of sex that are politically ambiguous yet, in other ways, resolutely orthodox.
Read: Where sex positivity falls short
Hoex, however, makes these two options feel like flipping, on and off, the same tired light switch. Can't we imagine the outer limits of sex without anxiety? Can't we believe in a pleasure that is new, perhaps disquieting'--but not at risk of moral failure? The answer may be no. But in its love for a preposterous and ever-changing desire, Gentlemen Callers is less a switch than a floodlight cranked to full power; it shines, into the corners of ordinary life, a diffusive and even humorous erotics. And if Hoex ultimately tables necessary questions about consent and violence, she does offer us an imaginative alternative whose urgency and fidelity to naive pleasure is, in its own way, political.
In the book's last vignette, ''The Burglar,'' a man in a black catsuit breaks into the narrator's bedroom. We think we know what to expect'--the prospect of violence registers as a common, fearsome one. But this is no rape scenario; it is not even a rape fantasy. The burglar has broken in only to break the narrator out, guiding her through her own open window. With him she goes, ''through the dark to where dreams reside.'' Would that sex were always like this: a routing away from harm, into the weird, dilatory unknown that another person betokens.
Ukraine Blocks Trans Women Refugees: "They Are Men, Must Go Back & Fight"
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 17:28
The Ukrainian government is refusing to allow transgender women to leave the country along with the millions of women and children refugees who have been streaming into Poland and other European nations. Instead, Ukrainian border guards are turning them back and forcing them to return home to join the fight.
Their reasoning might sour some trans activists in the West: Ukraine's martial law requires all biological males between the ages of 18 and 60 to remain in the country and fight. And it makes no exceptions for trans women.
Even trans women who have been widely accepted by their communities as woman still carry passports identifying them as males, which is what border guards see when they try to cross the border. In most cases, trans women who have tried to flee have been turned back, according to the Italian newspaper La Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest-circulation newspaper.
The paper quoted a trans woman who shared her experience at the hands of the guards: "They are men...they must turn back and fight."
The story has been picked up by a handful of European newspapers, including the UK-based Guardian. Trans women who spoke with the two newspapers described "humiliating" searches by border guards, and other perceived depredations, before being denied further passage.
As strange hands searched her body and pulled back her hair to check if it was a wig, Judis looked at the faces of the Ukrainian border guards and felt fear and despair.
"Ukrainian border guards undress you and touch you everywhere," Judis says. "You can see on their faces they're wondering 'what are you?' like you're some kind of animal or something."
Judis is a transgender woman whose birth certificate defines her as female.
Legally, there is no reason why she should not be allowed to pass with the thousands of women who are crossing Ukrainian borders to safety every day.
Yet, on 12 March at about 4am, after a long and humiliating search, border guards determined she was a man and prevented her passage into Poland.
Since Ukraine enacted martial law on Feb. 24, it's estimated that hundreds of trans women have tried to cross the border. Many have been turned back. The trans activists who spoke with both papers have said that trans people have reason to flee, since they would likely face persecution if Russia seizes control of the country. The Guardian went as far as to
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association said Ukraine ranks 39th out of 49 European countries for its overall treatment of LGBTQ+ people. Gay marriage is not allowed in the country, and the Christian Orthodox Church considers homosexuality a sin. There are also no anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ+ people.
Legally speaking, Ukraine starting recognizing trans women as women in 2017, with one important catch: they must undergo extensive psychiatric observation and a lengthy bureaucratic process before their assumed gender can be reflected on formal documents.
"Martial law says all males are obliged to serve in the military, so they can't leave the country," says Olena Shevchenko, 39, a human rights defender and the chair of Insight, a Ukrainian LGBTQ+ organization and one of the few public organisations in the country that works with trans people. "Technically, the law applies to trans people as well, including both certified trans men and trans women who had not changed their documents. But it sounds like Ukrainian border guards are preventing even trans people with a valid certificate reflecting their new gender from leaving Ukraine, and nobody knows why."
Two trans women interviewed by the Guardian shared similar stories about border guards telling them to turn back and join the fight.
"'Go to the war', they replied, adding that more than 3 million people had already fled the country and they weren't going to let me out."
Alice, 24, a trans woman from Brovary, a town near Kyiv, recounted a similar experience. She and her wife, Helen, a 21-year-old who identifies as non-binary, were stopped by border guards during an attempt to cross into Poland.
"They took us to a building near the border crossing,'' recounts Alice. "There were three officers in the room. They told us to take off our jackets. They checked our hands, arms, checked my neck to see if I had an Adam's apple. They touched my breasts. After examining us, border guards told us we were men. We tried to explain our situation but they didn't care."
Interestingly, the American press didn't pick up the story. Could this be because it might undermine the bright shiny (definitely not nazi-ish) new heroic image of the Ukrainian government, which has been the subject of almost unanimously positive coverage in the American press?
Odd: NBC News Airbrushes Image of Trans Swimmer Lia Thomas
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 17:25
News Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas won first place in the 200-yard freestyle at the Ivy League Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Feb. 18. (Mary Schwalm / AP)
By Richard Moorhead March 23, 2022 at 8:14am NBC appears to have edited a picture of controversial transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
The picture, used in coverage after Thomas dominated his competition in the NCAA finals, was altered in a manner to make Thomas appear more feminine.
I know, right? Compare and contrast'... pic.twitter.com/yQq5e5KnEY
'-- Sandieannie (@Sandieannie1910) March 17, 2022
The airbrushed photo was used in a segment of NBC's ''Today'' show on Monday.
The edit in question removed blemishes on Thomas' face.
The biological male's face and shoulders were also softened.
Should Lia Thomas be banned from women's sports?
Yes: 100% (44 Votes)
No: 0% (0 Votes)
In the original photo, Thomas' face was more angular and bony, both features more associated with male bodies than female ones.
Social media users were quick to notice that NBC used an airbrushed photo for the swimmer.
Just an even closer look'..... pic.twitter.com/ym7MwqMMra
'-- Pi'¤n'—‹Dent'¹st ðŸŸ¥ðŸ´ó §ó ó "ó £ó ´ó  (@PianoDentist86) March 18, 2022
Thomas won the 500-yard NCAA Division I championship on Friday, a new high point in his rise to dominance in college women's swimming.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recognized the second-place championship finisher, Emma Weyant, as the real winner of the title. Weyant is a Florida resident.
During an awards ceremony following Thomas' championship win, the runners-up appeared to give the University of Pennsylvania swimmer a cold shoulder.
Three medalists celebrated to the side of Thomas, in what may amount to a protest of his inclusion in the sport.
Men possess fundamental advantages over women in a wide range of physical sports.
Men have thicker bone density and increased muscle mass, advantages that can easily give an athlete an advantage in a physical sport such as swimming.
Thomas' rise to the top of women's swimming has thrown the very premise of women's sports into question, with advocates fearing that women's sports will be destroyed by an influx of biologically male athletes.
''It means the world to be here.''
Lia Thomas spoke about swimming in the NCAA women's championships. pic.twitter.com/aP0afVA0KE
'-- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 18, 2022
Thomas has declined to address increasing criticism and skepticism of his place in women's sports, telling an ESPN reporter that he tries to filter out as much of it as he can.
SummaryRecent Posts ContactRichard Moorhead is a conservative journalist, a graduate of Arizona State University, service member, and guitar player.
DOJ 'inadvertently' publishes list of clients of Sarah Lawrence sex cult prostitute | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 16:36
New York's business elite was left shaking in its boots Tuesday after a list of alleged clients of the student prostitute in the Sarah Lawrence 'sex cult' case was inadvertently published online.
The list, which was entered into evidence under seal in the ongoing trial of accused cult leader Larry Ray, includes lawyers and businessmen and socialites throughout the Tri-state area.
DailyMail.com acquired a copy of the list of 121 names which was taken down nearly as fast as it was put up.
A top executive at The Gap clothing firm and her husband was one of two married couples included. A former New York State Supreme Court judge is also named.
Another alleged client is a painter who has studios in Manhattan's East Village and in Italy. A third is an architect, famous for designing college and university buildings.
An investment executive who was also in pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's infamous little black book of contacts is also listed.
Other names include a hedge fund manager who has donated millions to charity and has his name on a museum building in New York, a Washington DC, lobbyist who has worked for a foreign resistance movement and an international diamond dealer.
Also included is an executive at the Metropolitan Transit Authority, an account executive at Amazon and a veteran travel writer.
The Justice Department admitted it 'inadvertently' published a list of alleged clients of Claudia Drury (pictured arriving at court Tuesday), a Sarah Lawrence 'sex cult victim' who claims she was forced into prostitution
Drury, 31, has been on the witness stand giving evidence against alleged sex cult leader Larry Ray, who is charged with sex trafficking, forced labor, among other crimes
Over two days of testimony, Drury told the court how Ray (right) allegedly forced her into a life of prostitution, abused her, and threatened to kill her after ingratiating himself with her and her friends when she was a student at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York
The document is among the government exhibits admitted in the federal case against 62-year-old Ray, who is on trial in New York, charged with operating a sex cult out of his daughter's dorm room at Sarah Lawrence College.
The list is said to have been compiled and included in an email by former Sarah Lawrence student Claudia Drury, 31, who has been on the stand giving evidence against Ray, whom she claims coerced her into becoming a prostitute.
But somehow the government posted the 'sealed' document online and then immediately scrambled to stop the information getting out.
'Per order of the Court, government exhibit #3217 (GX 3217) was admitted under seal,' a spokesman for the Department of Justice wrote in an email soon after the document was taken offline.
'This file was inadvertently loaded to the U.S. v. Ray file share. Please do not reproduce, share, or use this exhibit in any way, if you have downloaded this file, please delete it.'
But the department's plea is unlikely to be successful as the document has already been posted on Twitter.
The list is included in an email said to be from Drury to the Department.
'This is not an exhaustive list but it includes all my main clients/regulars and many others,' she wrote.
Drury is one of at least five cult members who were students at the elite liberal arts college in Bronxville, just north of Manhattan, when they met Ray.
Ray was introduced to the group in the fall of 2010 when he began living in his daughter Talia's on-campus dorm, where he persuaded her friends to stay the next summer at his city apartment.
Drury (pictured in a court sketch on Monday) began her testimony Friday, telling jurors at Manhattan Federal Court how how she went from na¯ve college student to a life of prostitution
The 31-year-old witness (pictured outside court Monday) took the stand to describe the alleged gas-lighting, physical and sexual abuse that she claims she suffered at Ray's hands
Drury claims Ray battered her psychologically and sometimes physically during his alleged campaign of control and abuse
Prosecutors say Ray coerced the students to join his 'family' as he accumulated power, sex and money, forcing one woman into a sex work enterprise so lucrative that she turned over more than $1million to him in a single year.
Drury, 31, began her testimony Friday, telling jurors at Manhattan Federal Court how Ray's campaign of charisma resulted in her being hospitalized in a psychiatric facility and ultimately led her into a life of prostitution.
She described how she went from a na¯ve student to soliciting sex, ultimately handing over $2.5million in earnings to Ray, his daughter Talia and his 'lieutenant' and co-accused Isabella Pollok.
Drury admitted that she had always been very uncomfortable and lacked confidence about her body and couldn't believe that anybody would find her attractive.
She credited this insecurity along with Ray's coercion with her decision to have sexual encounters with 'Sam', a married man from whom Ray bought power tools.
Earlier in the trial jurors were also shown texts between Drury and Pollok and Pollok and Talia apparently discussing Drury's prostitution, her clients, payment and transfers of cash into Pollok's bank account.
In the texts read aloud, Drury listed meetings and sums of money she expected in payment.
One read: 'I'm seeing Joe, the $3,500 guy at 3:30pm. I believe that will be another $8k though maybe less.'
Sums of money ranging from a few hundred to more than $17,000 in cash and bank accounts were discussed.
In a follow up text exchange between Pollok and Talia allegedly regarding the transfer of money earned by Drury through prostitution, Talia reassures Pollok: 'We got the moollah.'
Ray ultimately ingratiated himself with his daughter Talia's friends at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, including Santos Rosario (pictured left with Talia) Daniel Levin, Felicia Rosario (right) and Isabella Pollok
The jury heard on Monday how Ray allegedly abused 'cult' victim Dan Levin (pictured) whenever he deemed the younger man to be 'playing with the truth'
Isabella Pollok is accused of being Ray's 'lieutenant' and conspirator
On Monday, the court was shown emails in which Drury praised Ray's selflessness and the supposed psychological 'help' he was providing to her and college friends including Santos Rosario, Dan Levin, Felicia Rosario and Ray's co-accused and alleged 'lieutenant' Isabella Pollok.
At the time, she referred to Ray as, 'the hero of the story.'
Taking the stand for a second day on Monday, she continued her account of the alleged gas-lighting, physical and sexual abuse that she claims she suffered at Ray's hands.
On one occasion, she recalled, Ray showed her a photograph of friend and fellow student Levin.
She explained: '[Ray] told me that he was having a confrontation or conversation with Dan about Dan's sexuality and that in the course of this Isabella was folding laundry and Dan kept eyeing a dress.
'Larry asked Dan, "Do you want to wear the dress?" He told me Dan really did and so he made Dan put on the dress and go down to get mail wearing the dress.'
On his return to the Upper East Side apartment in which the students and Ray were, for the most part, living, Drury said the confrontation 'escalated.'
'From there it escalated to Larry telling Isabella to go get her bag of sex toys and dildos and to get the biggest one, and he [Ray] showed me a picture of Dan trying to fit it in his mouth,' she added.
Sarah Lawrence College is an elite liberal arts college in Bronxville, just north of New York City
Claudia Drury testifies at trial for Larry Ray on Monday March 21, 2022
'This was all framed as something Dan wanted '' that was helpful and clarifying for Dan.'
But according to Drury, Levin's face was 'contorted' in the photograph in which he was looking directly at the camera.
She said: 'He looks panicked and questioning and scared. It's not a look I've actually ever seen on anyone's face again.'
During another incident recalled by Drury in court, Ray made a 'noose' out of tinfoil and had Levin place it round his testicles while he interrogated him '' tightening the noose whenever he deemed the younger man to be 'playing with the truth.'
Ray is accused of 17 counts including sex-trafficking, extortion, money laundering, violent crime in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy
She went on to tell the court how the campaign of control escalated during the summer of 2013, when she and several others travelled to Pinehurst, North Carolina, to help with yardwork at Ray's stepfather's property.
At this point, she said, Ray was controlling what students ate '' forbidding carbohydrates '' and forcing them to work sometimes until three or four in the morning to re-do mistakes that he found in their work.
'Someone went out and got hamburgers and fries and milkshakes. [Ray] said, "This is your last meal, Felicia. You can have carbs; you can have whatever you want,"' she told the court.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors began their opening statements alleging that Ray, an ex-convict, had used 'violence, fear, sex and manipulation' to get sex, power and money.
After learning the students' secrets and insecurities and gaining their trust, Ray exploited them, 'profiting off their labor, their money and even their bodies,' Assistant US Attorney Lindsey Keenan said.
'Once he gained control of their lives, ... he took over their lives.'
Ray's lawyer told the jury that Ray committed no federal crimes as he encircled himself with college-age 'storytellers' who claimed to have poisoned him and arranged to have him physically attacked.
'You'll see that Larry Ray is not guilty,' attorney Allegra Glashausser said.
PICTURED: Larry Ray outside his stepfather's home in Pinehurst, North Carolina
The court heard how Ray's alleged campaign of control escalated during the summer of 2013, when Drury and several others travelled to Pinehurst, North Carolina, to help with yardwork at Ray's stepfather's property (pictured)
Ray, who once served as the best man at a wedding of disgraced former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, has been incarcerated since his 2020 arrest.
He is a well-known New York scammer with a murky past. In addition to spending times behind bars for his role in a securities fraud scam, he has worked on Wall Street, owned nightclubs, been an FBI informant and inserted himself in into powerful networks by brokering meetings.
He had previously been sentenced to five years probation for his role in a securities fraud scam.
The allegations involving the latest case were laid out in a lengthy article by New York magazine's The Cut in 2019, that included accounts from some of the purported cult members.
EU member states agree to jointly purchase gas, LNG and hydrogen
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 14:56
The TTF continues to fluctuate about the 100 EUR/MWh (~$33/Mmbtu) mark, and now appears to exhibit a slightly bullish skew after several days of bearish sentiment.
Some of the upside moves could be stemming from the unplanned outage at Troll due to a compressor failure, leading to a ~5.8% day on day drop in Norwegian flows to the continent.
The weather outlook in Europe has also turned remarkably colder, with expectations of an approaching cold front, only partially offset by restored nuclear output in France.
Russian flows ticked marginally upwards by ~3.1% day on day, averaging ~215 MCMD.
Gazprom booked very little additional export capacity to Europe for April, largely in line with market expectations.
Storage volumes in the EU are currently at 26%, well under the 90% target for October.
In order to reach that target while phasing down dependence on Russian gas, EU countries have agreed to start jointly purchasing gas, LNG and hydrogen.
This brings the EU's position in line with that of Spain and France which had been requesting such a measure since 4Q 2021.
If implemented, it will help mitigate risk of a runaway surge in gas prices stemming from inter-country competition for very limited molecules.
TTF prices might also be influenced by some bullish momentum from oil prices: Brent crude has gone back over $ 115/Bbl as the EU considers an embargo on Russian oil (even as different states remain divided on this) and reports of repeated Yemeni Houthi rebel attacks on Saudi energy infrastructure have surfaced, adding to concerns over an already constrained oil supply.
In Asia, regional fundamentals are currently governed by power shortage concerns in Japan, where over 3GW of thermal capacity is still offline after the earthquake on March 16 and temperatures are dropping .
In addition, around 600MW of coal-fired capacity near Tokyo was taken offline on Mar 20, with the re-start schedule unclear.
These developments are likely supporting LNG prices that have until recently followed the TTF's downward trajectory.
Regional coal fundamentals also remain very tight due to heavy rainfall in Indonesia and flooding in Australia, despite the ~5% week on week drop in Newcastle prices.
The statements, opinions and data contained in the content published in Global Gas Perspectives are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publisher and the editor(s) of Natural Gas World.
CBDC Caution | City Journal
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 14:35
Few likely paid much attention when, on March 9, President Biden signed an executive order directing the government to begin developing a ''central bank digital currency'' (CBDC) to be issued by the Federal Reserve, alongside a framework to regulate private cryptocurrencies. But this was a moment to which close attention is very much due. CBDCs have the potential to become an unprecedented totalitarian nightmare.
As the term implies, a CBDC is digital money that a central bank issues directly. You might assume that you are already using ''digital currency'' regularly if you rarely use physical cash anymore and instead buy almost everything with a credit card or a digital payment app. In truth, the process of moving money from A to B is vastly more complicated than that. It involves a tangle of payment processors, banks, financial clearinghouses, and, if your money is crossing borders, international communication and exchange systems, such as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). The money itself doesn't move anywhere fast, so each intermediary institution must assume risks to fulfill your transaction by accepting promises, sending transfers, verifying receipt of funds, and so on. Many fees get collected along the way for such services.
A CBDC system would be radically simplified. A customer would open an account directly with a country's central bank, and the central bank would issue (create) digital money in the account. Crucially, this makes the money a direct liability of the Fed, rather than of a private bank. Using a simple smartphone app or other tools, the customer can then initiate direct transactions between Fed accounts. The digital money is deleted in one account and recreated in another instantaneously. Moving money across borders no longer requires something as complex as SWIFT or wire transfers, and currencies can be exchanged instantly as long as friendly central banks have agreements to do so. No promises or trust are necessary; every transaction is permanently recorded on a digital cryptographic ledger in real time'--a bit like Bitcoin, but exquisitely centralized rather than distributed.
Such a system technically no longer needs such middlemen as banks or credit card companies. The Fed retains complete oversight and control over the creation, destruction, and ''movement'' of money, no matter where it is ''held'' or who ''has'' it. As Agustin Carstens, general manager of the Bank of International Settlements put it at a 2020 summit of the IMF: ''We don't know who's using a $100 bill today and we don't know who's using a 1,000 peso bill today. The key difference with the CBDC is the central bank will have absolute control [over] the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability, and also we will have the technology to enforce that.''
Biden's order described ''research and development efforts into the potential design and deployment options of a United States CBDC'' as a matter of ''the highest urgency'' for his administration. Why should such a seemingly obscure and technical monetary innovation be of such urgency to the U.S. government? Since cash has been working at least fairly well for a few thousand years, what reason has been given for why central banks should receive ''absolute control'' over money? A Fed report from January portrays CBDC as a way to ''support faster and cheaper payments,'' and ''offer the general public broad access to digital money that is free from credit risk.'' And it would promote ''financial inclusion'--particularly for economically vulnerable households and communities.'' That, the report notes, ''is a high priority for the Federal Reserve.'' Biden's order also calls for the need to ''promote equitable access to safe and affordable financial services.''
But this can hardly explain the urgency. After all, it wasn't long ago that Fed chairman Jerome Powell warned that, when it came to a CBDC, it was ''more important to get it right than to be first,'' given ''potential risks'' and ''important trade-offs that have to be thought through carefully.'' Why is the administration now pushing for accelerated development?
The answer lies largely in foreign policy. The order states explicitly that ''the United States derives significant economic and national security benefits from the central role that the United States dollar and United States financial institutions and markets play in the global financial system.'' Therefore, it ''has an interest in ensuring that it remains at the forefront of responsible development and design of digital assets.'' Or, as Brian Deese, the former Global Head of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock and now director of the National Economic Council, put it, the order's intention is to ''reinforce U.S. leadership in the global financial system and safeguard the long-term efficacy of critical national security tools like sanctions and anti-money laundering frameworks.''
China has pioneered the development of a CBDC and even begun putting it into limited circulation and testing its cross-border functionality. This has prompted the sense that U.S. ''financial leadership'' is under threat. Currently, the dollar is used to settle some 80 percent of global cross-border financial transactions, and the U.S. thus has the leverage to strong-arm banks, or the whole SWIFT network, into not doing business with anyone it doesn't want them to do business with'--i.e., imposing sanctions. But if a strong alternative existed, something that could reliably move across borders and be exchanged instantaneously with zero cost, such as a digital yuan, then some around the world might be tempted to start using that instead of the dollar. And if use of this alternative became widespread, then little would prevent America's enemies from escaping the long arm of the liberal international order's sanctions regime.
Today, that means Russia. Hence the true source of Washington's urgency seems to be the fear that the massive sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West will prompt not only the Russians but others around the world rapidly to scale up digital alternatives to the dollar. In the long run, only the development of a similarly fast, convenient, convertible, widely used, and easily controlled digital architecture by the West seems certain to allow it to maintain its collective dominance over global financial flows. Seven of the largest Western-aligned central banks, led in practice by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, have formed a tentative consortium aimed at creating a system of ''interoperable'' CBDCs. One can imagine the accusation that will predictably be deployed against those in the West who oppose a CBDC: sympathy for the enemy.
B ut before we do our patriotic duty, we should consider the other potential ways in which the Fed may be tempted to use a CBDC at home. CBDCs have another unique feature that opens up a huge range of alarming possibilities that even the central banks may not yet have fully considered: their inherent ''programmability.''
When word first arrived that the People's Bank of China has ''tested expiration dates to encourage users to spend it quickly, for times when the economy needs a jump start,'' Western monetary policymakers'--who struggled for years to use negative interest rates to stop people from saving'--probably spat coffee all over their monitors. But even this is limited creative thinking.
The Fed could directly subtract taxes and fees from any account, in real time, with every transaction or paycheck, if it wished. There could be no more tax evasion; the Fed would have a complete record of every transaction made by everyone. Money laundering, terrorist financing, any other unapproved transaction would become extremely difficult. Fines, such as for speeding or jaywalking, could be levied in real time, if CBDC accounts were connected to a network of ''smart city'' surveillance. Nor would there be any need to mail out stimulus checks, tax refunds, or other benefits, such as universal basic income payments. Such money could just be deposited directly into accounts. But a CBDC would allow government to operate at much higher resolution than that if it wished. Targeted microfinance grants, added straight to the accounts of those people and businesses considered especially deserving, would be a relatively simple proposition.
Other creative methods of financial redistribution could also be tempting. Why not assist minority-owned businesses with automatic subsidies, or even change the effective price of any purchase based on the identity of who's buying it? Surely, as many have already argued, the central bank could be doing more to achieve equity. And as the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has contended, being '''race-neutral' is not enough'' on monetary and fiscal policy.
The progressive dream of prison abolition has proved challenging. But a CBDC could help: just geofence the location within which parolees' money can be used and not disappear'--house arrest will have never been better enabled. A similar protocol would also work if the government wanted to keep people confined to their homes for some other reason.
Should people be encouraged to eat the foods decided best for them, such as a plant- or insect-based diet? CBDCs could do the trick. Should people be limited in how much they can spend per week on carbon-intensive purchases? CBDCs could help with that, too. But the government need not focus only on individuals. Preferential treatment could go to companies meeting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.
At the same time, consumers could be nudged away from undesirable organizations and businesses. Why not collect additional fees for transactions with ''risky'' businesses or charities that have low ESG scores? Or slow down their transaction speed to allow for greater ''verification''? In fact, why not create comprehensive credit scores based on behavior and number of connections with risky individuals and organizations? It would be a logical next step.
And if it were ever really necessary'--if protestors were honking truck horns too many times in a row, say'--then the most dangerous individuals or organizations could simply have their digital assets temporarily deleted or their accounts' ability to transact frozen with the push of a button, locking them out of the commercial system and greatly mitigating the threat they pose. No use of emergency powers or compulsion of intermediary financial institutions would be required: the United States has no constitutional right enshrining the freedom to transact.
All this would require that cash be phased out. But many central bank reports explicitly pose that as a possibility, or even an inevitability of market competition. Such a future would mean little limit on the possibilities of CBDCs.
If not deliberately and carefully constrained in advance by law, CBDCs have the potential to become even more than a technocratic central planner's dream. They could represent the single greatest expansion of totalitarian power in history. Never has there been any regime with such omnipotent insight into and control over its people's every transaction as what CBDCs may soon make possible. And yet this is the technology that seems likely to soon be smuggled into use in our societies in the name of convenience, social justice, and patriotism.
N.S. Lyons is the author of The Upheaval on Substack, from which this essay is adapted.
Photo: D-Keine/iStock
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(1) Leana Wen, M.D. on Twitter: "For those who don't agree that the vaccinated can return to pre-pandemic normal, I ask: What should we all do? Perpetual masking? Forever not dining out, avoiding large weddings & indoor gatherings, etc? Virtually everyt
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 13:32
Leana Wen, M.D. : For those who don't agree that the vaccinated can return to pre-pandemic normal, I ask: What should we all do? Perp'... https://t.co/NNNix1UJD3
Wed Mar 23 01:13:27 +0000 2022
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Wed Mar 23 13:31:52 +0000 2022
Ryan : @DrLeanaWen COVID cases are down like 97% from the high. If moving on doesn't happen now it never will and it's ðŸ'¯ political
Wed Mar 23 13:31:47 +0000 2022
Edmond Chin : @DrLeanaWen I have been asking the same question and all I hear are crickets. Thank you.
Wed Mar 23 13:31:37 +0000 2022
cmad : @DrLeanaWen You're whining.
Wed Mar 23 13:31:25 +0000 2022
wonky : @DrLeanaWen You really lost credibility quite some time ago. Care to disclose any private donations that may have c'... https://t.co/71Dtify5rq
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golooraam : @DrLeanaWen Now you ask this ? ðŸ‚
Wed Mar 23 13:31:21 +0000 2022
Fermi's Pair of Socks : @DrLeanaWen The extremes on both side of this confuse the hell out of me. Those who yelled that masks were some con'... https://t.co/5CbdZJZ3DJ
Wed Mar 23 13:30:49 +0000 2022
The Bearded Cosplayer : @DrLeanaWen They say that if you are at high risk or live w/someone who is you should continue to mask. Considering'... https://t.co/AIXWwCpQLZ
Wed Mar 23 13:30:34 +0000 2022
How SiriusXM bought and bungled a beloved podcast network - The Verge
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 23:00
SiriusXM leapt into podcasts with a $325 million deal '-- insiders say it's off to a messy start
Paul Scheer says the pitch was simple. It was 12 years ago, and the founders of Earwolf wanted him to make a podcast: ''We're gonna make these shows,'' he recalls them saying, ''and you can do whatever you want.''
His show How Did This Get Made? recorded in a ''band rehearsal space in the middle of Hollywood,'' and there was no talk of ads. ''It was very, very lo-fi,'' Scheer says. ''The idea of selling ads wasn't even a thing. There was nobody making big deals in podcasting.''
Hearing people describe the heyday of Earwolf, the comedy podcast network, you can understand how it so quickly developed a roster of talented comics, from the Sklar Brothers and Harris Wittels to Brett Gelman and Jimmy Pardo. Comedians roamed the halls of Earwolf's office, and everyone seemed to be having a good time making the shows they wanted to make.
''My day was always better for having passed through the Earwolf studios.''
''It was never like, 'Wow, there's Tom Cruise' '-- it was Paul F. Tompkins or people from the LA creative world who were just always fun to bump into,'' says Dave Holmes, the host of former Earwolf show Homophilia. ''My day was always better for having passed through the Earwolf studios, whether it's hosting or guesting, whatever.''
A wall of Vans sneakers painted with the faces of Earwolf hosts greeted visitors, suggesting this was a place that not only cared about showing off its podcast roster but also nurturing an audience of fans passionate enough to celebrate them. Early producers, hosts, and editors often came to the company already loving Earwolf shows, and the network became home to a tight community built around a shared passion for podcasting and comedy, former employees tell me.
The company did, of course, have business motivations, too. Early hosts read ads for brands like LegalZoom and Stamps.com, and the team also solicited fan donations and sold merch. Key to how the industry worked back then, though, one former employee says, is that flagship shows, like Comedy Bang! Bang!, could help bring in advertisers to support the small- to medium-sized podcasts that made up the network.
''It wasn't supposed to be the biggest podcast in the world, and that's what's great '-- or what was great '-- about Earwolf at the time. They were good at cultivating those medium-sized shows, the shows that had, in comparison to Joe Rogan, a small audience but [an] audience [that] will be committed and consistent and vocal and loyal,'' Holmes adds about the network when he joined in 2017. ''At the time, that was enough.''
The move encapsulates the current podcasting moment: big companies spending huge sums in search of audio success
The network, formed in 2010 by Jeff Ullrich and Comedy Bang! Bang! founder Scott Aukerman, represents an original podcast institution, but in the years since its launch, the industry and company have changed alongside each other.
Earwolf is no longer a solo entity. It combined with The Mid Roll in 2014 to form Midroll Media, and E.W. Scripps, a conglomerate of local TV channels, bought them the following year. Scripps then bought Stitcher in 2016, ultimately combining the three assets together under the Stitcher name. Then, in 2020, SiriusXM bought all three brands in a deal worth up to $325 million. The move encapsulates the current podcasting moment: big tech companies spending huge sums in search of audio success. They all do so out of necessity '-- innovate or die.
Spotify, for example, can't run a platform wholly dependent on record labels and royalties. It needs podcasts to diversify its revenue. While SiriusXM, a satellite radio subscription business, can't bank on its customers, particularly the younger generation, wanting to listen to anything other than their phone apps in the car. That's why it invested $75 million in SoundCloud in 2020 and bought Pandora for around $3.5 billion in 2018, all in a move to capture digital listeners' attention.
Since the sale, many shows and employees have left the network
In both SiriusXM's and Spotify's case, small podcast networks offered advantages they didn't already have: expertise in on-demand audio and storytelling, a devout fanbase, and an arsenal of quality programming. For the smaller networks, like Earwolf and its parent, Stitcher, being acquired by a giant had perks, too. It gave them access to deeper pockets that could make them more competitive when trying to retain hit shows or recruit new stars.
But according to 13 former corporate employees across Stitcher who spoke with The Verge anonymously because of nondisclosure agreements and fear of retaliation, the merger was marked by confusion, culture clash, and shifting objectives. Around 145 people worked at Stitcher when it was bought, and since then, more than a quarter of them have left, The Verge found through LinkedIn. This includes the prominent departures of CEO Erik Diehn, CRO Sarah van Mosel, CFO David Murray, and CTO Peter deVroede, among others. Many shows have left the network, too, including Hollywood Handbook, an early and prominent show that is now independent on Patreon, as well as Holmes' show, Homophilia, which is now on World of Wonder. It's become so apparent that the network is bleeding talent that its fan subreddit now has multiple threads wondering what happened inside the company and why shows left.
The answer is complicated. Though the brand, particularly Earwolf, was initially a beacon for comedy talent with minimal pressure around numbers or performance, the broader audio industry has been shifting toward a scale where bigger and bigger hits are critical to staying afloat. Combined with the x-factors of a pandemic, a new corporate environment, and growing ways for shows to make it on their own without network support, the moment was right for a talent reckoning.
''You either have to be very small or very big,'' says a person familiar with Stitcher's strategy at the time. ''It's really hard to exist in the middle '-- and we were choosing to go big.''
Stitcher's problems started before the SiriusXM acquisition. In the year prior to the purchase, hosts at some of the network's smaller shows began to feel like they were being overlooked in favor of bigger names, these former employees say.
These concerns came to a head in the month before the SiriusXM acquisition. In June 2020, during the height of the pandemic and prominent Black Lives Matter protests, more than 40 Earwolf hosts and creators sent a letter to management, which was viewed by The Verge, expressing concerns that Stitcher's ad sales model disadvantaged smaller shows and failed to land them consistent revenue. This presented a problem because hosts receive a minimum guarantee and then make money off an ad share agreement. The sales team, the letter points out, only employed white team members, which multiple employees tell me led to incidents in which hosts of color felt especially under-served.
Yo, Is This Racist?, a show in which co-hosts Andrew Ti and Tawny Newsome answer listeners' voicemails and determine whether certain experiences are racist, came up multiple times throughout my reporting as a title the Earwolf team loved but that ended up leaving the network over lack of support. Ti tells me he and Newsome were asked to remove ''racist'' from the show's title because it made ads harder to sell. He says the sales team told them some advertisers might think the show is ''pro-racism.''
Hosts said Stitcher's sales model ''actively penalizes any medium or smaller shows''
''To us, what we heard was that just means you haven't listened to the content and you're aren't making any effort to explain it to advertisers,'' he says. A spokesperson for SiriusXM says a name change was never discussed at Stitcher, but the word ''racist'' was removed from ''select sales materials'' to prevent the show from being unfairly rejected by marketing filters. The show left the network and is now working with Gumball for ad sales instead.
The letter, signed by prominent hosts like Chris Gethard, Jason Mantzoukas, and Nicole Byer, demands answers for why ad revenue dropped or never thoroughly existed in the first place.
''Your sales team has continually passed the buck to each of us, in order to hide their own ability to properly support our shows,'' the letter says. ''If this many of us are experiencing the same trend with ads, this is clearly a systemic issue beyond any individual show's responsibility. We believe the entire Midroll model is only optimized to sell for its top shows, and in addition to that, actively penalizes any medium or smaller shows.''
A person familiar with Stitcher's finances tells me that direct response advertisers '-- traditional podcast brands that offer promo codes '-- stopped spending money during the early pandemic, effectively cratering smaller shows' revenue and fueling the host uprising.
''There wasn't something we could do that would just suddenly make the shows make more money, and some of the things they suggested, while well-intentioned, were just impossible,'' they say.
Still, the company responded by committing additional revenue guarantees for some affected shows and dedicating ''six figures'' in marketing dollars to smaller shows, this source says. It also hired a woman of color to a prominent role on the sales team, though she left less than a year later.
It was during this time that SiriusXM finalized its deal to acquire Stitcher.
SiriusXM executives knew they needed to invest in the company's future, a person familiar with discussions says, but they didn't have a fully baked podcasting plan. The company only knew that it needed a ''shot in the arm in the podcasting division.''
''When you're having this incredible cash machine that's built to do one thing really, really well and then you see something on the horizon that suggests that that is going to come to an end, you're going to have 20 different opinions about the right thing to do,'' the person says.
Would podcasting at SiriusXM be an ad sales business or a subscription one? Would the SiriusXM subscription matter most, and should a new business be built around podcasting? What type of talent would be best to sell ads against, anyway? ''The approach was, 'Yeah, let's do all that,''' they say.
Stitcher employees first heard about the acquisition through the press, setting off a domino effect of bad vibes and mistrust, according to the former employees and hosts. Stitcher management, they say, didn't comment on the rumors and delayed all-hands meetings to discuss it, only to then host one confirming the sale without much detail. Employees say CEO Diehn told them the deal was indeed happening and that they were all employable, making some worry they might lose their jobs, though SiriusXM tells The Verge it extended offers to bring everyone on once the acquisition closed. When they joined SiriusXM, employees had to adjust to a wholly new company in a pandemic. Everything happened virtually.
''I was shocked by how uncurious people were there about how we had succeeded in podcasting.''
''It came in probably the most uncertain time, and piling on more uncertainty about your job '-- and a job that a lot of people in this industry feel so connected to '-- creates a lot of psychic tension,'' says a former employee.
SiriusXM seemingly bought Stitcher for its ad business or to expand its ''pre-eminent position in digital audio advertising,'' per the press release announcing the deal's closing. It also gained subscription revenue from Stitcher Premium, the company's bonus content offering, which had between 130,000 and 140,000 subscribers at the time of sale, according to a person familiar with the product.
Expectations about the purchase ranged among the employees I spoke to. Some received raises '-- others didn't. Some expected investments in their shows to increase, only to be let down and watch their favorite programs leave. Broadly, employees say they felt disempowered and uninspired when having to run decisions up through SiriusXM's bureaucratic ladder.
''It shifted from an excitement and a 'Hey, with your scale and our special sauce, we can make this thing really great' to 'Oh, you guys are so small you don't really understand how any of this works, so just quiet down and follow our lead,''' says a former employee.
''I was shocked by how uncurious people were there about how we had succeeded in podcasting or how we did what we did,'' another says.
That knowledge gap made Stitcher employees '-- experts in the podcast industry '-- feel like they walked into a company that didn't want or need their help, despite evidence to the contrary. Various employees say they had to educate the SiriusXM team on what made a good podcast. The SiriusXM team mainly suggested adopting various SiriusXM shows, and one employee says they had to explain that an RSS feed being live ''didn't mean that there was anything playing in it right now, like they don't understand the difference between radio and podcasts.''
A former sales team member says Stitcher never allowed advertisers to pre-approve the actual audio of a host read '-- only the ad copy they'd receive '-- but SiriusXM at times made pre-approval part of the process, which they say turned into a communication nightmare. Another person says cross-promoting shows with other networks, a standard podcast marketing move, became difficult because SiriusXM implemented a minimum ad spend, straining relationships with podcasting partners who were used to paying hundreds of dollars for an ad spot, not thousands. Stitcher's marketing was also used to buying ads on Spotify for promotion but was told to ''never spend another dime in Spotify again'' once they joined SiriusXM.
''It just got to a point where some days it was so much and like I would just literally sit there and just bang my head against my desk, like this is insane,'' says one former employee. A spokesperson for SiriusXM says it is ''not our policy'' to allow pre-approval of host-read ads and that its marketing team is allowed to purchase ads through Spotify's Megaphone.
The culture fit wasn't right, either, these former employees say. Multiple people pointed to a survey SiriusXM's HR team asked them to complete about how things were going and the town hall held in response. Employees had raised concerns about diversity within the company but were told in response that they couldn't have diversity issues because the company employed a female CEO.
''I have been called out in numerous meetings for saying 'Spotify.'''
The company also routinely hated on its competition rather than reflecting on why those products were working. ''Spotify is the devil to SiriusXM,'' says one former employee. The enemy offered a rallying point for the team, which another former employee called a ''boomer business mentality, like a toxic business mindset.'' (''This view and that language doesn't reflect that of SiriusXM,'' says a spokesperson for the company.)
''I have been called out in numerous meetings for saying 'Spotify,''' another former employee says. ''I'll be like, 'Oh, yeah, I was listening to that in Spotify,' and a legacy Pandorian will unmute and be like, 'What is that?'''
At the same time, executives didn't seem to have a full picture of its podcast competitors. During one all-hands meeting, for example, DJ Khaled joined as a special guest because he apparently loves Pandora '-- but Khaled also hosts a podcast on Amazon Music. The moment emphasized to at least one person on the Stitcher podcast team that the company didn't know the space well.
Content strategy remained a point of confusion, too. At one point, SiriusXM decided to go after fiction podcasts, says a former employee, only to tell its team around three months later to stop pursuing that strategy. Months after that, SiriusXM invested in Audio Up, a company designed to make scripted shows '-- making its internal team look like they didn't know what they were talking about to external partners. A spokesperson for SiriusXM says work on original fiction podcasts continues inside the company.
''When we came to SiriusXM, we were promised that SiriusXM would let us do what we want,'' they say. ''In fact, our deals are by far worse now than they were before. By worse, I mean laughable amounts of money.''
In an email to The Verge, SiriusXM's SVP of communications, Patrick Reilly, characterized the findings of our reporting as being typical of the challenges facing any corporate acquisition, with staff and executive turnover, transitions to the company's preferred systems and technologies, and meetings to address employees' concerns.
''While there are always challenges following an acquisition, SiriusXM and Stitcher leadership worked together to make sure the transition went as smoothly as possible,'' Reilly says. ''Many of the concerns addressed in this story predated the acquisition, and were quickly handled once the company joined SiriusXM.''
Stitcher's staff has grown by 25 percent since the acquisition closed, Reilly says, and the company continues to ''support emerging creators, at Stitcher and throughout SiriusXM.'' He cited SiriusXM's acquisition of 99% Invisible, its exclusivity deal with YMH Studios, and advertising arrangements with popular shows including New Rory & Mal and Last Podcast on the Left.
Those exclusive ad-sales and distribution deals are part of SiriusXM's podcasting strategy, he says, as was bringing on a team of experts. ''One of the reasons we acquired Stitcher is their industry-leading expertise in podcasting,'' Reilly says.
Earwolf was already changing in the years before the acquisition. The network had started to prioritize larger shows, like Office Ladies (from The Office stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey) or Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, over the small comedy series the network built its name on.
Since the acquisition, employees say that's accelerated. Multiple smaller shows '-- including Culture Kings, Off Book: The Improvised Musical, and Spanish Aqu­ '-- have left or ended their runs, while Earwolf has continued to focus on big names like Seth Rogen, who launched a podcast last October. SiriusXM tells The Verge that Rogen's show exceeded 3 million downloads across its nine-episode first season and that a second season is in the works.
''It feels closer to Spotify or something else where they're hit hunting,'' says one host. ''It doesn't really feel like it has an identity as a comedy network that supports artists in the same way,'' says another.
''Podcasting now you have to compete with all these giant celebrities''
Compounded with the messy integration of the two companies, employees at Stitcher started heading for the door. At least one left on the spot with no notice. Another tweeted that they were dismissed after making a TikTok about quitting.
Some employees did stick around and seemingly thrived, some former employees say. One calls SiriusXM's approach ''pure corporate Darwinism,'' where the people who could make the corporate system work for them did, and the ones who couldn't left. Some shows and hosts, like Scheer, say nothing has changed on their end '-- they still talk to the same person at Earwolf and keep making their show as usual.
SiriusXM is not alone in having these issues. Spotify struggled to integrate and support its own studios as well. Business Insider reported last year on shows from Gimlet Media, which Spotify purchased in 2019, lagging behind Spotify's other networks; Gimlet also had a very public confrontation with racial disparities in its studio. Then in January, Spotify shut down its homegrown production studio, which sources said at the time had never been given a clear direction.
These acquisitions also arrived at a time of upheaval for the podcasting industry. Creators '-- particularly those with small, loyal fanbases '-- now have more options. They can go to Patreon or, like Earwolf founder Aukerman, launch subscription offerings through new partners. (Aukerman worked with Acast to launch Comedy Bang! Bang! World in October last year, which offers ad-free and bonus content.)
Scheer says in 2014, when he launched the now-defunct Earwolf sub-network Wolfpop, he and the team told shows they'd need 40,000 weekly listeners to be successful. ''That number has gone up and up and up,'' he says, adding that he now believes any show needs over 100,000 listeners per week to make money. This is why smaller shows with dedicated audiences might have better success on Patreon, charging their fans directly.
''It's an easier way to monetize your listeners,'' Scheer says. ''Whereas podcasting now you have to compete with all these giant celebrities and all these people out there that are doing these really big, flashy shows.''
Most employees and hosts at Stitcher seem to understand that the podcast industry has shifted and that Earwolf's early energy likely couldn't last. Quitting the job today means logging off Zoom forever, not taking one last stroll past the wall of Vans sneakers. Spoken word audio is now a fundamental part of multiple deep-pocketed companies that need podcasts to survive '-- free laughs won't pay the bills.
Sign up for the newsletter Hot Pod Every Tuesday receive analysis, insights, and commentary on the growing audio industry.
Crypto Remains a Threat: ECB Chief Christine Lagarde
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 17:40
Crypto service providers may be an ''accomplice to'' circumventing sanctions against Russia, and crypto assets have been and remain a threat, said Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB).
Lagarde said the amount of Russian rubles going into crypto and stablecoins have been on the rise, speaking at the Bank for International Settlements' Innovation Summit on Tuesday.
Trading volumes between the Russian ruble and bitcoin soared to a nine-month high even as the country's fiat currency plunged to record lows against the dollar due to its invasion of Ukraine in late February. Regulators in Europe and the U.S. implemented heavy sanctions on Russia in an attempt to isolate its economy.
''We have taken steps to clearly signal to all those who are exchanging transacting offering services in relation to crypto assets,'' Lagarde said, adding that they are ''accomplices'' to those trying to circumvent sanctions.
While lawmakers have expressed concerns that crypto might be used to evade sanctions, there has been little evidence to support this. Multiple U.S. officials have stated they do not see sanctions evasion via crypto as a realistic possibility.
But Lagarde's comments on Tuesday seemed to suggest crypto assets are generally associated with financial crime.
"So is it a threat? Yes. Has it '... been a threat in the past? Yes, because when you look at a lot of the dubious transactions that are taking place, a lot of the criminal activities payments that are taking place, very often you find some crypto assets,'' Lagarde said.
In February, Lagarde said that it's ''critically important'' to quickly finalize and enforce the European Union's proposed regulatory package for crypto assets, particularly over concerns that sanctioned entities in Russia will turn to crypto to evade sanctions. The proposed Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) framework is currently moving through the EU's complex legislative process.
Progress on a digital euro
Lagarde also talked about the ECB's much-anticipated plans for a digital euro at a moderator's urging during Tuesday's session. Although regulators in the U.S. and beyond have previously indicated central bank digital currencies (CBDC) should not be rushed, Lagarde said that sentiment might have changed due to a number of reasons, including pressure from customers.
She recently said she would support speeding up work on a potential digital euro.
''Yes, there is urgency, and we need to do real solid work to respond to the needs that are out there," Lagarde said on Tuesday.
The digital euro needs to be ''operational, faster, easier, cheaper, more secure across the whole of Europe,'' Lagarde said, adding that a digital currency should improve inclusion and support financial stability. However, the goal of a digital currency is not a monetary policy instrument or a means to eliminate cash, she noted.
Lagarde added that the ECB wants to prevent other players from taking sole advantage of the digital world and that the ECB is on track to complete its digital euro project in two years.
DISCLOSURE
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Camomile Shumba
Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk news reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.
Sandali Handagama
Sandali Handagama is a CoinDesk reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She does not own any crypto.
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Fact check: Tipping kept wages low for formerly enslaved Black workers
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 17:27
The claim: Tipping became popular in the United States because restaurant owners didn't want to pay Black workers after the ratification of the 15th Amendment
Funding service industry wages through customer tips has long been the norm in the United States. The practice has a history tracing back to Europe and was codified in the United States in 1938 and 1966, after more acceptance '-- largely from restaurant and railroad industries '-- following the Civil War.
A Nov. 24 tweet from UberFacts said: "Tipping became popular in the U.S., in part, because restaurant owners didn't want to pay black Americans after the ratification of the 15th Amendment. This way, owners could set a $0 wage for waiters and rely on voluntary tips from customers to pay them."
On Nov. 25, MyMixtapez, a hip-hop music app that also reports entertainment news , posted a graphic to Instagram, including only information from the first sentence of the tweet.
The 15th Amendment '-- the last of a trio that abolished slavery and freed enslaved people, gave them citizenship, and gave formerly enslaved men the right to vote '-- was ratified in 1870, after the Civil War. But its passing wasn't the direct or only reason that tipping became popularized and a mainstay in the United States.
More: Fact check: Historical claims about constitutional amendments lack context
A history of tipping in the United States
The practice of tipping workers has unclear origins but likely began as a result of the caste system in Europe in the late Middle Ages.
At least two accounts state that there was no tipping in the United States prior to 1840, Kerry Segrave writes in "Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities." Wealthy Americans are thought to have brought tipping back to the United States from lavish trips to Europe in the years leading up to the Civil War.
The new custom was thought of by many as un-American because it was classist, Saru Jayaraman has explained to several reporters over the years. Jayaraman wrote "Forked," a book about restaurant worker pay, and, in 2018, was co-founder and president of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley.
More: Man leaves $3,000 tip for single beer at Ohio restaurant closing for coronavirus: 'Incredibly kind and grand gesture'
That anti-tipping sentiment found its way back to Europe, contributing to labor movements that ended the practice.
But in the United States, fresh out of the Civil War, formerly enslaved people were able to find most work in food service or as railroad porters, jobs that relied on tips. Many employers who wanted to hire the formerly enslaved also wanted to keep them at a low wage.
"When the practice came to the United States, the newly freed slaves, the black workers, were the equivalent of the proletariat in the feudal system," Jayaraman has explained in The Washington Post.
In 1915, several states passed laws prohibiting tipping, which was a growing practice but unpopular at the same time. All six of the bans were overturned or ruled unconstitutional by 1926.
"When these states banned tipping, it was because they were trying to discourage whites from tipping instead of actually paying former slaves," Jayaraman told the Post. Of six states that made tipping illegal, five were in the South, where the idea was that only Black workers were making tips because "you only tip inferiors," Jayaraman explained.
Also in the early 1900s, Pullman rail company was investigated by the Railroad Commission of California. Even though the company, which employed mostly Black workers, was a proponent of tipping, it was for their own financial gain, Segrave writes, not for the financial gain of the worker. In response to another federal report pointing out the Pullman's savings by relying on tips, a Pullman representative said: "The company simply accepts conditions as it finds them. The company did not invent tipping. It was here when the company began."
Tipping was codified in 1938 as part of the New Deal, Jayaraman has said, because the Fair Labor Standards Act allowed federal minimum wage to be earned through wages or through tips. And then in 1966, "tip credit" amendments were made to the act, paving the way toward the current minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped employees, like restaurant workers. In seven states, local laws require all workers must be paid the full federal minimum wage before tips.
Rail workers went on strike and eventually received higher wages.
The users who posted the claim on Instagram and Twitter did not return messages seeking comment.
Our ruling: True
Based on our research, the claim that tipping became popularized by restaurant owners who didn't want to pay Black workers after the passage of the 15th Amendment is generally TRUE, though more context is helpful.
Tipping in America began before the Civil War. But afterward, it is true that employers in the restaurant industry, railroads and more used the practice of tipping as a way to keep some wages low. Formerly enslaved Black people worked in many of these jobs.
Additionally, five Southern states actively banned tipping. Those bans, though, were more concerned with discouraging white people from tipping than they were concerned with not encouraging a tip-based business model exploitative of cheap Black labor that others had adopted.
Our fact-check sources:
Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities, Kerry Segrave (1998)
When Tipping Was Considered Deeply Un-American, NPR (2015)
Why Tipping Is Wrong, New York Times (2015)
I dare you to read this and still feel good about tipping, Washington Post (2016)
How American tipping grew out of racism, Quartz (2016)
The Racist, Twisted History of Tipping, Mother Jones (2016)
'It's the Legacy of Slavery': Here's the Troubling History Behind Tipping Practices in the U.S., Time magazine (2018)
Pullman Porters, History (2019)
The Racist History of Tipping, Politico (2019)
The disturbing history of tipping in the U.S.: "It's literally a slave wage", CBS News (2020)
Laura Testino covers education and children's issues for the Commercial Appeal. Reach her at laura.testino@commercialappeal.com or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
CISA, FBI warn of Russian threat to satellite networks - FCW
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 17:14
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USAID Sends WHITE HELMETS To Ukraine... - Helena
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 17:05
Woke up this morning to a New York Times montage of photos taken from Ukraine and instantly recognized the 'rescue workers' as The White Helmets. Remember? From Syria? Photo after photo depicting rescues of the same children over & over'... They are not Syrian, they are not rescuers, they are a Turkish group who launder money for the UK, US, Netherlands, France & Germany under the guise of rescuing using the infamous green screens and actors.
While the NYT Headline is: Ukraine Refuses to Surrender Mariupol, a better headline would be: Ukraine Assassinates Citizens For The Globalists!
Wearing brand new spanking protective suits The White Helmets are now plastered all over the propaganda photo-psy-ops just like Syria. Their direct funding comes from: Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK, Permanent Mission of The Netherlands to the UN, USAID and the governments of Holland, Japan, Denmark, France and Qatar '' thru the Red Crescents.
Despite the fakery of The White Helmets being exposed in 2016, despite them never publishing a tax return as an NGO, the globalists obviously are desperate and haven't a plan B, C, or D. Propaganda is their only tool.
Mayday Rescue was the Netherlands NGO established to filter money to The White Helmets '' they declared bankruptcy in 2020. The US counterpart is Chemonics which contracts with USAID.
In 2018 an audit was requested by the same governments funding, Mayday Rescue. After receiving millions in funding, it was found that the organization paid exorbitant salaries to its board and leaders without oversight, falsified receipts and dates, and made enormous cash withdrawals. At the end of the day Germany took back 50,000E of their 4.5 million funding and the Netherlands rebate was 57,000E.
The founder of Mayday Rescue, James le Mesurier, a British Army Officer, died during the audit '' falling from a balcony in Istanbul. He briefly worked for the UN, and spent two years as a mercenary for a US organization, Constellis Group, before training The White Helmets.
During the Obama regime, $23million was funneled to The White Helmets thru USAID via Chemonics.
With Headquarters in DC and London, Chemonics has shown little success in their previous work in such places as Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq despite their $1.5 billion revenue in 2019 (last available). But they are connected to the WEF sustainable development agenda. In addition, their Executive VP, Christopher Scott, was a VP for USAID, specifically for projects in Ukraine.
A for-profit private organization, Chemonics financial statements are not available '' despite being funded by the US government. However, they have been cited for racial discrimination by the US Department of Labor, performance shortcomings during their work in Haiti, spent $500+million in Mozambique to construct model homes for climate change, and in 2015 was awarded a $9.5 billion contract to fight HIV, Aids, and Malaria'... All the same locations the Clinton Foundation worked.
In 2017 it was discovered only 7% of the $9.5 billion contract actually went toward delivering health products. In 2018, they spent $90 million of a grant toward their Afghanistan project to place 55 women in government jobs. This was the year Chemonics joined forces with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 'installing climate sensors'. The sensors were placed in warehouses and trucks in three unnamed countries to collect data.
In 2020, Chemonics became the defendant in a lawsuit for allegedly paying bribes to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Save The Children announced in March 2020: ''Former Chemonics International CFO Eric Howell joins as Chief Operating Officer and former Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation executive Greg Ferrante joins as Chief Financial Officer.'' Nice Neat Package; Gates, USAID, UN, Chemonics, Save The Children'...
Prior to his work with Chemonics, Howell led a land privatization project in Ukraine which would have been coordinated after the NED coup in 2014.
Just when the propaganda couldn't possibly get worse with fake videos pulled from old movies, photos pulled from gas explosions in Lebanon and bombing in Beirut, children from the Syrian war '' Chemonics sends The White Helmets to the media for the sympathy revolt. And the awards keep coming despite failure after failure least of which is their alliance/funding of The White Helmets a proven fraudulent organization!
Okta investigating claims of customer data breach from Lapsus$ group
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 14:25
Okta, a leading provider of authentication services and Identity and access management (IAM) solutions says it is investigating claims of data breach.
On Tuesday, data extortion group Lapsus$ posted screenshots in their Telegram channel of what it alleges to be access to Okta's backend adminsitrative consoles and customer data.
As a publicly-traded company worth over $6 billion, Okta employs over 5,000 people across the world and provides identity management and authentication services to major organizations including Siemens, ITV, Pret a Manger, Starling Bank, among others.
Lapsus$ claims to have Okta customer dataData extortion group Lapsus$ claims to have acquired "superuser/admin" access to Okta.com and that it accessed Okta's customer data, as seen by BleepingComputer:
Lapsus$ claims to have obtained Okta customer data (BleepingComputer)"Okta is aware of the reports and is currently investigating," an Okta spokesperson told BleepingComputer.
"We will provide updates as more information becomes available."
Screenshots shared by Lapsus$, as seen by BleepingComputer, show the system date set to January 21st, 2022, indicating the hack may have occurred months ago.
One of the screenshots displaying Lapsus$' 'superuser' access to Okta's admin console also includes an URL with an email belonging to an Okta customer support representative who was likely compromised.
Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon has now confirmed this:
In late January 2022, Okta detected an attempt to compromise the account of a third party customer support engineer working for one of our subprocessors. The matter was investigated and contained by the subprocessor. (1 of 2)
'-- Todd McKinnon (@toddmckinnon) March 22, 2022"We believe the screenshots shared online are connected to this January event," says McKinnon.
"Based on our investigation to date, there is no evidence of ongoing malicious activity beyond the activity detected in January."
However, one of the posted screenshots indicates that Lapsus$ could change customer passwords using Okta's admin panel.
Security researchers are worried that the hacking group could have used this 'superuser' access as a way to breach customer's servers who use the company's authentication solutions.
Oh man, if this it what it looks (Okta got popped)'... Blue Team everywhere is gonna be crazy busy. pic.twitter.com/PY4dIzfwvM
'-- _MG_ (@_MG_) March 22, 2022Lapsus$ also reinforced this theory when they said they did not attack Okta to steal the company's databases, but rather to target their customers.
"BEFORE PEOPLE START ASKING: WE DID NOT ACCESS/STEAL ANY DATABASES FROM OKTA - our focus was ONLY on okta customers," Lapsus$ stated in a post on Telegram.
With many well-known companies using Okta's services, including Fedex, Peloton, SONOS, T-Mobile, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and JetBlue, this is obviously of significant concern.
Lapsus$ is on a leaking bingeThe development follows Lapsus$' claims that it breached Microsoft's internal Azure DevOps server.
On Monday, Lapsus$ leaked what it claims to be 37 GB of stolen source code for Bing, Cortana, and other Microsoft projects, and Microsoft confirmed it was investigating.
Additionally, the group claimed today that it breached LG Electronics (LGE) for the "second time" in a year. BleepingComputer has not confirmed this claim and has reached out to LG:
Lapsus$ says it also breached LG Electronics (BleepingComputer)Lapsus$ has previously leaked gigabytes of proprietary data purportedly stolen from leading companies such as Samsung, NVIDIA, and Mercado Libre who confirmed this month it had suffered a breach.
Data extortion groups like Lapsus$ breach victims, but as opposed to encrypting confidential files like a ransomware operator would, these actors steal and hold on to victims' proprietary data, and publish it should their extortion demands not be met.
If Lapsus$'s claims of breaching Okta's systems turn out to be accurate, it remains yet to be found out how many of Okta's customers were impacted and to what extent.
Update March 22nd, 5:24 AM ET: Added new statement from Okta CEO McKinnon.
Public Attitudes to Ukraine Conflict by Vaccine Acceptance EKOS Politics
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 14:11
[Ottawa '' March 18, 2022] This survey was conducted using EKOS' unique, hybrid online/telephone research panel, Probit. Our panel offers exhaustive coverage of the Canadian population (i.e., Internet, phone, cell phone), random recruitment (in other words, participants are recruited randomly, they do not opt themselves into our panel), and equal probability sampling. All respondents to our panel are recruited by telephone using random digit dialling and are confirmed by live interviewers. Unlike opt-in online panels, Probit supports margin of error estimates.
The field dates for this survey are March 9-13, 2022. In total, a random sample of 1,035 Canadians aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, and region to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.
Please click here for a copy of the data tables from this survey.
Please click here for a copy of the questionnaire that was used for this survey.
The Smaller Bombs That Could Turn Ukraine Into a Nuclear War Zone - The New York Times
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 14:06
In destructive power, the behemoths of the Cold War dwarfed the American atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Washington's biggest test blast was 1,000 times as large. Moscow's was 3,000 times. On both sides, the idea was to deter strikes with threats of vast retaliation '-- with mutual assured destruction, or MAD. The psychological bar was so high that nuclear strikes came to be seen as unthinkable.
Today, both Russia and the United States have nuclear arms that are much less destructive '-- their power just fractions of the Hiroshima bomb's force, their use perhaps less frightening and more thinkable.
Concern about these smaller arms has soared as Vladimir V. Putin, in the Ukraine war, has warned of his nuclear might, has put his atomic forces on alert and has had his military carry out risky attacks on nuclear power plants. The fear is that if Mr. Putin feels cornered in the conflict, he might choose to detonate one of his lesser nuclear arms '-- breaking the taboo set 76 years ago after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Analysts note that Russian troops have long practiced the transition from conventional to nuclear war, especially as a way to gain the upper hand after battlefield losses. And the military, they add, wielding the world's largest nuclear arsenal, has explored a variety of escalatory options that Mr. Putin might choose from.
''The chances are low but rising,'' said Ulrich K¼hn, a nuclear expert at the University of Hamburg and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. ''The war is not going well for the Russians,'' he observed, ''and the pressure from the West is increasing.''
Mr. Putin might fire a weapon at an uninhabited area instead of at troops, Dr. K¼hn said. In a 2018 study, he laid out a crisis scenario in which Moscow detonated a bomb over a remote part of the North Sea as a way to signal deadlier strikes to come.
''It feels horrible to talk about these things,'' Dr. K¼hn said in an interview. ''But we have to consider that this is becoming a possibility.''
Washington expects more atomic moves from Mr. Putin in the days ahead. Moscow is likely to ''increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength'' as the war and its consequences weaken Russia, Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
President Biden is traveling to a NATO summit in Brussels this week to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The agenda is expected to include how the alliance will respond if Russia employs chemical, biological, cyber or nuclear weapons.
James R. Clapper Jr., a retired Air Force general who served as President Barack Obama's director of national intelligence, said Moscow had lowered its bar for atomic use after the Cold War when the Russian army fell into disarray. Today, he added, Russia regards nuclear arms as utilitarian rather than unthinkable.
''They didn't care,'' Mr. Clapper said of Russian troops' risking a radiation release earlier this month when they attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor site '-- the largest not only in Ukraine but in Europe. ''They went ahead and fired on it. That's indicative of the Russian laissez-faire attitude. They don't make the distinctions that we do on nuclear weapons.''
Mr. Putin announced last month that he was putting Russian nuclear forces into ''special combat readiness.'' Pavel Podvig, a longtime researcher of Russia's nuclear forces, said the alert had most likely primed the Russian command and control system for the possibility of receiving a nuclear order.
It's unclear how Russia exerts control over its arsenal of less destructive arms. But some U.S. politicians and experts have denounced the smaller weapons on both sides as threatening to upend the global balance of nuclear terror.
Image A Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launcher in a military parade in Moscow last year. Credit... Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock For Russia, military analysts note, edgy displays of the less destructive arms have let Mr. Putin polish his reputation for deadly brinkmanship and expand the zone of intimidation he needs to fight a bloody conventional war.
''Putin is using nuclear deterrence to have his way in Ukraine,'' said Nina Tannenwald, a political scientist at Brown University who recently profiled the less powerful armaments. ''His nuclear weapons keep the West from intervening.''
A global race for the smaller arms is intensifying. Though such weapons are less destructive by Cold War standards, modern estimates show that the equivalent of half a Hiroshima bomb, if detonated in Midtown Manhattan, would kill or injure half a million people.
The case against these arms is that they undermine the nuclear taboo and make crisis situations even more dangerous. Their less destructive nature, critics say, can feed the illusion of atomic control when in fact their use can suddenly flare into a full-blown nuclear war. A simulation devised by experts at Princeton University starts with Moscow firing a nuclear warning shot; NATO responds with a small strike, and the ensuing war yields more than 90 million casualties in its first few hours.
No arms control treaties regulate the lesser warheads, known sometimes as tactical or nonstrategic nuclear weapons, so the nuclear superpowers make and deploy as many as they want. Russia has perhaps 2,000, according to Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington. And the United States has roughly 100 in Europe, a number limited by domestic policy disputes and the political complexities of basing them among NATO allies, whose populations often resist and protest the weapons' presence.
Russia's atomic war doctrine came to be known as ''escalate to de-escalate'' '-- meaning routed troops would fire a nuclear weapon to stun an aggressor into retreat or submission. Moscow repeatedly practiced the tactic in field exercises. In 1999, for instance, a large drill simulated a NATO attack on Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. The exercise had Russian forces in disarray until Moscow fired nuclear arms at Poland and the United States.
Dr. K¼hn of the University of Hamburg said the defensive training drills of the 1990s had turned toward offense in the 2000s as the Russian army regained some of its former strength.
Concurrent with its new offensive strategy, Russia embarked on a modernization of its nuclear forces, including its less destructive arms. As in the West, some of the warheads were given variable explosive yields that could be dialed up or down depending on the military situation.
A centerpiece of the new arsenal was the Iskander-M, first deployed in 2005. The mobile launcher can fire two missiles that travel roughly 300 miles. The missiles can carry conventional as well as nuclear warheads. Russian figures put the smallest nuclear blast from those missiles at roughly a third that of the Hiroshima bomb.
Before the Russian army invaded Ukraine, satellite images showed that Moscow had deployed Iskander missile batteries in Belarus and to its east in Russian territory. There's no public data on whether Russia has armed any of the Iskanders with nuclear warheads.
Nikolai Sokov, a former Russian diplomat who negotiated arms control treaties in Soviet times, said that nuclear warheads could also be placed on cruise missiles. The low-flying weapons, launched from planes, ships or the ground, hug the local terrain to avoid detection by enemy radar.
From inside Russian territory, he said, ''they can reach all of Europe,'' including Britain.
Over the years, the United States and its NATO allies have sought to rival Russia's arsenal of lesser nuclear arms. It started decades ago as the United States began sending bombs for fighter jets to military bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. Dr. K¼hn noted that the alliance, in contrast to Russia, does not conduct field drills practicing a transition from conventional to nuclear war.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments Card 1 of 3Biden's diplomatic push. President Biden will travel to Europe for talks with NATO allies this week, in his most direct effort yet to rally opposition to the invasion. In a call with Western leaders ahead of his trip, he assailed Russia's attacks on civilians and discussed providing assistance to refugees.
In 2010, Mr. Obama, who had long advocated for a ''nuclear-free world,'' decided to refurbish and improve the NATO weapons, turning them into smart bombs with maneuverable fins that made their targeting highly precise. That, in turn, gave war planners the freedom to lower the weapons' variable explosive force to as little as 2 percent of that of the Hiroshima bomb.
The reduced blast capability made breaking the nuclear taboo ''more thinkable,'' Gen. James E. Cartwright, a vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Mr. Obama, warned at the time. He nonetheless backed the program because the high degree of precision lowered the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties. But after years of funding and manufacturing delays, the refurbished bomb, known as the B61 Model 12, is not expected to be deployed in Europe until next year, Mr. Kristensen said.
Image A B61 Model 12 bomb being prepared for acoustic testing at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. The explosive setting on its nuclear warhead is just 2 percent that of the Hiroshima bomb. Credit... Randy Montoya/Sandia Labs The steady Russian buildups and the slow American responses prompted the Trump administration to propose a new missile warhead in 2018. Its destructive force was seen as roughly half that of the Hiroshima bomb, according to Mr. Kristensen. It was to be deployed on the nation's fleet of 14 ballistic missile submarines.
While some experts warned that the bomb, known as the W76 Model 2, could make it more tempting for a president to order a nuclear strike, the Trump administration argued that the weapon would lower the risk of war by ensuring that Russia would face the threat of proportional counterstrikes. It was deployed in late 2019.
''It's all about psychology '-- deadly psychology,'' said Franklin C. Miller, a nuclear expert who backed the new warhead and, before leaving public office in 2005, held Pentagon and White House posts for three decades. ''If your opponent thinks he has a battlefield edge, you try to convince him that he's wrong.''
When he was a candidate for the presidency, Joseph R. Biden Jr. called the less powerful warhead a ''bad idea'' that would make presidents ''more inclined'' to use it. But Mr. Kristensen said the Biden administration seemed unlikely to remove the new warhead from the nation's submarines.
It's unclear how Mr. Biden would respond to the use of a nuclear weapon by Mr. Putin. Nuclear war plans are one of Washington's most deeply held secrets. Experts say that the war-fighting plans in general go from warning shots to single strikes to multiple retaliations and that the hardest question is whether there are reliable ways to prevent a conflict from escalating.
Even Mr. Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said he was unsure how he would advise Mr. Biden if Mr. Putin unleashed his nuclear arms.
''When do you stop?'' he asked of nuclear retaliation. ''You can't just keep turning the other cheek. At some point we'd have to do something.''
A U.S. response to a small Russian blast, experts say, might be to fire one of the new submarine-launched warheads into the wilds of Siberia or at a military base inside Russia. Mr. Miller, the former government nuclear official and a former chairman of NATO's nuclear policy committee, said such a blast would be a way of signaling to Moscow that ''this is serious, that things are getting out of hand.''
Military strategists say a tit-for-tat rejoinder would throw the responsibility for further escalation back at Russia, making Moscow feel its ominous weight and ideally keeping the situation from spinning out of control despite the dangers in war of miscalculation and accident.
In a darker scenario, Mr. Putin might resort to using atomic arms if the war in Ukraine spilled into neighboring NATO states. All NATO members, including the United States, are obliged to defend one another '-- potentially with salvos of nuclear warheads.
Dr. Tannenwald, the political scientist at Brown University, wondered if the old protections of nuclear deterrence, now rooted in opposing lines of less destructive arms, would succeed in keeping the peace.
''It sure doesn't feel that way in a crisis,'' she said.
David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington.
USAJOBS - Job Announcement
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 13:28
The Torts Branch is responsible for the defense of the United States and its employees in tort litigation seeking monetary judgments for damages resulting from negligent or wrongful acts. The Branch a so prosecutes a significant number of affirmative tort claims to recover for damages to government property. The Torts Branch is the principal guardian of the public fisc against new tort suits that seek billions of dollars in monetary damages each year.
Learn more about this agency Help Accepting applications Open & closing dates 03/14/2022 to 04/14/2022
Salary $89,834 - $164,102 per year
Pay scale & grade GS 12 - 14
Help Location4 vacancies in the following location:
Washington, DC 4 vacancies
Telework eligible Yes'--as determined by the agency policy.
Travel Required Occasional travel - You may be expected to travel for this position.
Relocation expenses reimbursed No
Appointment type Permanent
Work schedule Full-time
Service Excepted
Promotion potential 15
Job family (Series) 0905 Attorney
Supervisory status No
Security clearance Top Secret
Drug test Yes
Position sensitivity and risk Moderate Risk (MR)
Trust determination process National security
Announcement numberDE-11424129-22-CM
Control number642581000
Help Trial attorneys in Office of Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation - Vaccine Litigation Staff - represent the interests of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in all cases filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act ("Vaccine Act"). The cases involve claims of injury as a result of the receipt of vaccines covered by the Act. The position offers a unique experience in public service and involves trial practice. The legal and medical issues at stake in each case vary. Trial attorneys independently manage heavy caseloads, and while streamlined procedures are utilized, many cases involve complex scientific issues of causation that require employment of experts in medical fields such as pediatrics, neurology, immunology and epidemiology. In cases in which petitioners are found entitled to compensation, the litigation often requires retention and management of experts to develop an appropriate life care plan for the injured party - to include medical treatment, remedial care, rehabilitation, calculation of lost earnings, actuarial projections and structured settlements.Attorneys appear frequently before the Office of Special Masters in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and also appear before the judges of the Court, as well as in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit when handling appeals. Responsibilities include factual and legal research, medical record review, brief writing, and working with expert witnesses to develop the defense of claims, as well as to address the life care needs of vaccine-injured petitioners. As the majority of cases are resolved through settlement, attorneys also engage regularly in settlement negotiations, including alternative dispute resolution, and drafting settlement memoranda and related documents. Due to a recent increase in cases filed under the Vaccine Act, the office is expanding to address the additional workload.
Help Conditions of Employment Must be a U.S. Citizen or National Must complete a Background Investigation to include drug testing It is the policy of the Department to achieve a drug-free workplace and persons selected for employment will be required to pass a drug test which screens for illegal drug use prior to final appointment. May require completion of a fourteen month trial period Must be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret security clearance with eligibility for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) access depending on organizational assignment / duty location. Selective Service Registration is required, as applicable Qualifications Applicants must be a graduate from a full course of study in a School of Law accredited by the American Bar Association and be a member in good standing of the bar of a state, territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any jurisdiction), have at least one year of post J.D. experience to qualify at the GS-12 level; have at least two years of post J.D. experience to qualify at the GS-13 level; or have at least three years of post J.D. experience to qualify at the GS-14 level.Beyond the minimum years of post J.D. experience, other factors are taken into consideration as well such as, litigation experience, relevance of experience to our practice area, etc. You must also be a U.S. citizen. Applicants should have excellent writing, negotiation and interpersonal skills and exhibit good judgment. Trial experience is strongly preferred, although not required.
Education All academic degrees and coursework must be completed at a college or university that has obtained accreditation or pre-accreditation status from an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. For a list of schools that meet this criteria, see www.ed.gov.OREducation completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet the above education requirements if you can show that the foreign education is comparable to that received in an accredited educational institution in the United States. It is your responsibility to timely provide such evidence by submitting proof of creditability of education as evaluated by a credentialing agency with your application materials. More information may be found at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/edlite-visitus-forrecog.html.All documentation must be in English or include an English translation. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/edlite-visitus-forrecog.html.
Additional informationVeteran Preference: If you are entitled to or claim veterans' preference (VP), you should indicate the type of veteran preference (5 or 10 points) you are claiming on your resume. In order to determine your eligibility, you can find additional information at: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/veterans-services/vet-guide/.There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Department of Justice considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions. Although the "point" system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veterans' Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/SF15.pdffor a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s).DOJ EEO Statement/Policy: http://www.justice.gov/jmd/eeos/08-eeo-policy.pdfReasonable Accommodation Statement: Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process should contact the hiring agency directly. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.Schedule A: DOJ welcomes and encourages applications from persons with disabilities and is firmly committed to satisfying its affirmative obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to ensure that persons with disabilities have every opportunity to be hired and advanced on the basis of merit within the Department. DOJ also encourages eligible Schedule A applicants to submit their resumes to resume@benderconsult.com, and reference "Federal Career Opportunities" in the subject line. Additional information is found at: www.benderconsult.com.Selective Service: If you are a male applicant born after December 31, 1959, you must certify that you have registered with the Selective Service System, or are exempt from having to do so under the Selective Service Law. Additional information is found at: www.sss.gov.
Read more Help A career with the U.S. government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding. Opens in a new window Learn more about federal benefits.
Review our benefits
Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.
You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.
You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications. Your application will be evaluated by a reviewing panel.Please Note: The Selecting Official may select additional candidates if more positions become available within 120 days after the closing date of the vacancy.
Help A career with the U.S. government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding. Opens in a new window Learn more about federal benefits.
Review our benefits
Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.
As a new or existing federal employee, you and your family may have access to a range of benefits. Your benefits depend on the type of position you have - whether you're a permanent, part-time, temporary or an intermittent employee. You may be eligible for the following benefits, however, check with your agency to make sure you're eligible under their policies.
Cover LetterResume showing month and year of relevant experience.Writing Sample (not more than 15 pages in length)DD-214 (Member-4 Copy)and/or veteran documentation, (if applicable).COVID-19 Vaccination:1. To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19vaccination requirement Safer Federal Workforce Task Force 2 pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Therefore, to the extent a Federal job announcement includes the requirement that applicants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to Executive Order 14043, that requirement does not currently apply. Federal agencies may request information regarding the vaccination status of selected applicants for the purposes of implementing other workplace safety protocols, such as protocols related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.
2. Due to COVID-19, if selected, you may be expected to telework for an undefined period under the Department's evacuation authority, even if your home is located outside the local commuting area.
However, you will be expected to relocate if you are not local to the area. This is not a remote location position. Employees in this status may be notified of a requirement to report in person to the component workplace with an advance notice of not less than 30 days. Prior to a requirement to report to the workplace, employees may be eligible to request to continue to telework one or more days a pay period depending upon the terms of the component's telework policy.
If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements: Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.
To apply for this position, you must provide a complete Application Package, including the required documents indicated below. The Application Package must be received by 11:59 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, on the listed closing date of this announcement. A complete application package must include:1. Cover Letter (highlighting relevant experience).2. R(C)sum(C) - Applicants are encouraged to ensure work experiences clearly show the possession of knowledge of the subject matter pertinent to the position and the technical skills to successfully perform the duties of the position.3. Writing Sample (not more than 15 pages in length).4. If you are claiming veterans preference, you must also submit your DD-214 (Member-4 Copy), and/or other documentation that you may have. Applicants are encouraged to submit their materials by email to:CSTL-Vaccine.Vacancies@usdoj.gov.Applicants may also send their materials by commercial courier service, (FedEx or UPS) to:U.S. Department of JusticeCivil Division, Torts BranchCSTL/Vaccine Litigation3CON, Room 8.1314Washington, D.C. 20005ATTN: Alexis Babcock, Assistant Director No telephone calls, please.
Next steps Once the application package is received you will receive an acknowledgement email that your submission was successful. All qualified applications will be sent to the hiring official for review. You will be contacted directly if an interview is desired.
Help Cover LetterResume showing month and year of relevant experience.Writing Sample (not more than 15 pages in length)DD-214 (Member-4 Copy)and/or veteran documentation, (if applicable).COVID-19 Vaccination:1. To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19vaccination requirement Safer Federal Workforce Task Force 2 pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Therefore, to the extent a Federal job announcement includes the requirement that applicants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to Executive Order 14043, that requirement does not currently apply. Federal agencies may request information regarding the vaccination status of selected applicants for the purposes of implementing other workplace safety protocols, such as protocols related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.
2. Due to COVID-19, if selected, you may be expected to telework for an undefined period under the Department's evacuation authority, even if your home is located outside the local commuting area.
However, you will be expected to relocate if you are not local to the area. This is not a remote location position. Employees in this status may be notified of a requirement to report in person to the component workplace with an advance notice of not less than 30 days. Prior to a requirement to report to the workplace, employees may be eligible to request to continue to telework one or more days a pay period depending upon the terms of the component's telework policy.
If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements: Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.
Help To apply for this position, you must provide a complete Application Package, including the required documents indicated below. The Application Package must be received by 11:59 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, on the listed closing date of this announcement. A complete application package must include:1. Cover Letter (highlighting relevant experience).2. R(C)sum(C) - Applicants are encouraged to ensure work experiences clearly show the possession of knowledge of the subject matter pertinent to the position and the technical skills to successfully perform the duties of the position.3. Writing Sample (not more than 15 pages in length).4. If you are claiming veterans preference, you must also submit your DD-214 (Member-4 Copy), and/or other documentation that you may have. Applicants are encouraged to submit their materials by email to:CSTL-Vaccine.Vacancies@usdoj.gov.Applicants may also send their materials by commercial courier service, (FedEx or UPS) to:U.S. Department of JusticeCivil Division, Torts BranchCSTL/Vaccine Litigation3CON, Room 8.1314Washington, D.C. 20005ATTN: Alexis Babcock, Assistant Director No telephone calls, please.
Read more Next steps Once the application package is received you will receive an acknowledgement email that your submission was successful. All qualified applications will be sent to the hiring official for review. You will be contacted directly if an interview is desired.
Read more This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/job/642581000. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.
Central Banks Grapple With Dual Threat of Slowing Growth, Rising Inflation - WSJ
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 04:00
In Europe and Asia, many policy makers confront 'poisoned chalice' as Ukraine war complicates task of taming prices without hurting economies
March 21, 2022 8:57 am ETThe war in Ukraine is casting a stagflationary shadow over the world economy and posing a dilemma for central banks: Should they support flagging growth or fight skyrocketing inflation?
Central bankers'--who were already struggling to predict when surging inflation would come under control'--say the war has deepened the uncertainty they face as they seek to rein in price increases without killing the recovery from the pandemic. They face the risk of having to squeeze their economies hard and drive up unemployment to get inflation...
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The war in Ukraine is casting a stagflationary shadow over the world economy and posing a dilemma for central banks: Should they support flagging growth or fight skyrocketing inflation?
Central bankers'--who were already struggling to predict when surging inflation would come under control'--say the war has deepened the uncertainty they face as they seek to rein in price increases without killing the recovery from the pandemic. They face the risk of having to squeeze their economies hard and drive up unemployment to get inflation in check.
For now, many of the world's major central banks have moved decisively against inflation with a series of recent decisions to tighten monetary policy. But with past economic models of little use in the current environment, they are navigating without a clear road map.
''We're definitely facing a very complex and uncertain environment,'' said Klaas Knot, a policy maker at the European Central Bank and governor of the Dutch central bank.
The war in Ukraine is likely to shave more than 1 percentage point from global economic growth this year, while also pushing up inflation by a further 2.5 percentage points across the world, according to an estimate last week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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''Central banks need to act on inflation, but what do they do [about] the slowdown? This is a poisoned chalice,'' said Panicos Demetriades, a former ECB policy maker. ''They can't do both.''
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday and penciled in six more increases by year's end'--its most aggressive pace in more than 15 years'--after U.S. inflation hit a 40-year high of 7.9% in February.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell told U.S. senators this month that he is ready to do what it takes to bring inflation down, and to follow the example of his predecessor Paul Volcker, who increased interest rates to 20% in 1981, triggering a recession and double-digit unemployment.
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Still, at a news conference Wednesday, Mr. Powell said he hoped to lower inflation by taking the heat out of wage growth while also keeping unemployment low.
Some investors doubt that the Fed will be prepared to act aggressively to slash inflation.
''We think once inflation starts to come off the boil'...the Fed eventually will opt to live with somewhat higher inflation than the 2% objective rather than forcing inflation down to 2% potentially at high cost in terms of activity and the labor market,'' said Elga Bartsch, head of economic and markets research at BlackRock.
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Out of 16 episodes since the late 1970s when central banks increased interest rates in the U.S., the U.K. and the eurozone, 13 ended in recession, according to Neil Shearing, chief economist at Capital Economics.
The Bank of England raised its key interest rate for the third time in as many policy meetings on Thursday, saying inflation could rise above 8% by year's end, but it also softened its language on future rate increases. Earlier this month, the ECB unexpectedly said it could end its longstanding bond-buying program by September, opening the way for the first increase in its key rate since 2011, and roiling financial markets.
Policy makers in Europe are facing an especially difficult choice, given the rapid deterioration of the European economic situation, the continent's geographical proximity to the war and its heavy reliance on ever more expensive energy'--much of it from Russia.
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The recent surge in European energy prices has pushed the region's energy burden as a percentage of gross domestic product above levels reached in the early 1970s, whereas the U.S. is still well below that point, according to calculations by BlackRock.
In February, eurozone inflation was 5.9% in February, almost three times the ECB's target rate of 2%.
The recent economic shocks have raised the risk that companies and consumers expect inflation to stay high, Mr. Knot said, potentially feeding a self-reinforcing price spiral, as businesses set higher prices and workers demand increased wages to compensate.
''Especially in these circumstances, it is important as a central bank to not add to the existing uncertainty, but to be a predictable actor and to be clear about our commitment'' to returning inflation to target, Mr. Knot said.
Other central bankers are more worried about the slowdown of a eurozone economy that had yet to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yannis Stournaras, an ECB policy maker and governor of Greece's central bank, said the war in Ukraine would push up inflation in the short term, but also reduce economic activity and thereby weigh on inflation in the medium term. ''These competing forces create a wider range of risks than usual about our inflation projections,'' Mr. Stournaras said.
''There is no playbook for central banks,'' said Katharine Neiss, a former Bank of England economist now at PGIM Fixed Income in London. ''I worry about low growth in Europe against the backdrop of high inflation, a stagflationary scenario'...The ECB lost a bit of control of the inflation narrative.''
Central banks have been repeatedly surprised by the surge in inflation, contrary to predictions that it would fall back. At their Feb. 2-3 meeting, ECB policy makers debated recent errors in the bank's staff economic forecasts and whether to put more weight on their own judgment and surveys, according to the minutes of the meeting.
''Given the current extreme uncertainty, it is wise to have an open mind and see how things unfold,'' said Robert Holzmann, an ECB policy maker and governor of Austria's central bank. He said he considered it important to return to a more neutral monetary-policy stance and higher interest rates, but said the bank must proceed ''step by step.''
Central banks in South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore have already begun raising interest rates to stem inflation and have signaled more tightening lies ahead. Australia's central bank held fire in March, but investors expect it to also begin raising borrowing costs within months. Hong Kong's Monetary Authority raised its benchmark interest rate Thursday to maintain its currency peg to the U.S. dollar. Taiwan's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate last week in response to robust growth, mounting inflationary pressure and the move by the Fed.
Other central banks in Asia might be nudged into tightening policy even as their economies weaken. The Philippines and India are struggling with accelerating inflation and a gloomier prognosis for growth. Thailand is facing rising inflation just as the tourism revenues that might have been expected from visitors from Russia and China have evaporated.
In India, inflation has been above the 6% upper bound of the central bank's target range for two months straight and growth has slowed. For now, Indian central bank officials say they are more focused on the risks to growth than on inflation.
War, sanctions and the risk of financial-market turmoil means ''the global economy is being dragged to the edge of a precipice,'' Michael Debabrata Patra, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, said in a speech earlier this month.
But elsewhere in Asia, central banks feel less pressure to raise rates. Policy makers in China and Japan, for instance, Asia's two largest economies, aren't expected to follow the Fed in tightening policy soon. Domestic inflationary pressures in both economies are muted, meaning the hit from higher commodity prices will be felt more forcefully on growth than on inflation, giving the People's Bank of China and the Bank of Japan leeway to keep policy loose to support growth.
Write to Tom Fairless at tom.fairless@wsj.com
Ukraine to join NATO intel-sharing cyberdefense hub
Mon, 21 Mar 2022 15:19
While Ukraine is yet to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the country has been accepted as a contributing participant to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).
CCDCOE is a NATO-accredited cyberdefense hub that member nations use for research, training, and exercises covering several areas, including technology, strategy, operations, and law.
Although this does not make Ukraine a NATO member, it will likely tighten collaboration and allow it to gain access to NATO member nations' cyber-expertise and share its own.
"Ukraine's presence in the Centre will enhance the exchange of cyber expertise, between Ukraine and CCDCOE member nations," said Colonel Jaak Tarien, Director of NATO CCDCOE.
"Ukraine could bring valuable first-hand knowledge of several adversaries within the cyber domain to be used for research, exercises and training,"
Minister of Defence of Estonia Kalle Laanet added that Ukraine "has valuable experience from previous cyber-attacks to provide significant value to the NATO CCDCOE."
#Ukraine to be accepted as a Contributing Participant to #NATO CCDCOE. ''Ukraine's presence in the Centre will enhance the exchange of cyber expertise, between Ukraine and @ccdcoe Member Nations, says Col Jaak Tarien, Director of the Center. Read more: https://t.co/PjKiUFJHjj
'-- NATO CCDCOE (@ccdcoe) March 4, 2022Ukraine's path to becoming a NATO memberUkraine's first attempt to join the Alliance was refused at the 2008 Bucharest Summit after strong objections from Russia.
However, NATO pledged that the country would eventually become a member and participate in the Membership Action Plan (MAP), the first step on the path to full membership.
Thirteen years later, NATO re-confirmed during a June 2021 summit that Ukraine will join NATO and become a member of the Alliance after going through the Membership Action Plan "as an integral part of the process."
"Commend NATO partners' understanding of all the risks and challenges we face," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
"NATO leaders confirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance and the MAP is an integral part of the membership process. Ukraine deserves due appreciation of its role in ensuring Euro-Atlantic security."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken revealed during a Friday press availability in Brussels that "every NATO ally is providing either military or humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Most are providing both."
Hoge gasprijzen dwingen vier van de tien glastuinders definitief of tijdelijk te stoppen
Mon, 21 Mar 2022 13:23
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VIDEO - Climatarian '' The easy, healthy, climate friendly diet
Thu, 24 Mar 2022 14:43
With a simple diet shift you can save a tonne of CO2e a year.Learn about it in a minute'...
Try it out '' see for yourself just how easy it can be to help nature and the climate.That's equivalent to the emissions fromsix short haul flightsordriving 3,500 miles (5,635 kms)
An easy way to cut 10% off the average UK carbon footprint!
Major studies have revealed red and processed meat to be associated with an increased risk of colorectal, breast, prostate, pancreatic and stomach cancer. A climatarian diet '' avoiding beef and lamb in everyday meals and cutting down on meat overall '' reduces these risks.
Replacing red meat with high quality plant protein like nuts, seeds, chick peas, lentils and tofu can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
1 million species are under threat.
Meat production is a major driver of biodiversity loss.Beef and lamb use much more land per kg food produced than other meats.Go Climatarian and join the community of people who are eating the climate friendly, nature friendly and healthy diet.
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VIDEO - The Bloom Is Off the Ruse as New Zealand Drops Almost All COVID Restrictions, Including Vax Passports, Mandates and QR Codes - The Last Refuge
Wed, 23 Mar 2022 22:40
We have written a great deal about the sheer insanity of the response to the COVID-19 global pandemic over the past two years; however, nothing showcases the COVID madness like what New Zealand is doing right now. Consider:
'... In late March 2020, New Zealand recorded 5 cases of COVID-19 infection and immediately shut down everything, locked down borders and citizens, and instituted the most severe restrictions on formerly free citizens in global history.
'... In late March 2022, New Zealand recorded 20,000 cases of COVID-19 infection (yesterday), and announces they are dropping almost all COVID restrictions, removing vaccination mandates and eliminating COVID passports.
Nothing shouts 'scamdemic' louder than the government's own behavior in this example.
Was COVID-19 ever more concerning than a severe flu, which was then weaponized by government to induce a global fear and trigger mass formation psychosis as a gateway for a new model society?
That question is for the history books. However, the changed political landscape, in combination with the Florida result, appear to hold the answers.
(SKY NEWS) '' Vaccine passes are being axed in New Zealand, with mandates being removed in almost all industries. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the changes on Wednesday as she unveiled the country's post-Omicron peak plan.
Ms Ardern said cases had decreased significantly in Auckland, with a decline expected across the nation by early April. She added there had been more than 500,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in the country of five million, although ''expert modellers say there have probably been 1.7 million actual infections''.
''That figure, coupled with 95 per cent of New Zealanders being fully vaccinated, means we now have a high level of collective immunity,'' Ms Ardern said.
As part of the sweeping changes, New Zealanders will no longer have to prove they are vaccinated to enter venues covered under My Vaccine Pass from early next month.
''From 4 April, My Vaccine Pass will no longer be required by the Government meaning Kiwis will no longer have to be vaccinated in order to enter those venues covered by the Pass,'' Ms Ardern said. ''Scanning in requirements for the vaccinated will also end.'' '... ''''From 4 April, vaccine mandates will be removed.'' (read more)
Keep in mind, this announcement is happening at the same time COVID-19 infections are higher than at any time previously in Kiwi history.
You will never be able to convince the masses of people that they have been victimized by the most widespread global hysteria in modern history. Indeed, it would be a futile effort to do so, just like it would be futile to try and stop the people who are thirsting desperately for their fourth, fifth or whatever booster shot.
People now define themselves and others by their behavior during the pandemic scare of the past two years. It would be an exercise in futility to try and convince anyone; and factually it would be exhausting and wasteful. However, for anyone who can intellectually look at the landscape, it is impossible not to have seriously well founded questions about the statistics of the COVID-19 pandemic '' when contrast against two ordinary years of a strong flu season in both the northern and southern hemisphere.
One of the key *tells*, amid this entire COVID fear timeline, is the difference between how western government leaders spoke publicly about the rules, regulations, mandates and restrictions, and how they personally acted in private when they didn't know they were being watched. And now we find ourselves with barely enough time to take down the COVID-19 decorations before those same western government officials began weaponizing the Ukraine fear.
Here is the announcement, straight from the horse's mouth:
.
Posted in Australia,
CDC,
Coronavirus,
Death Threats,
Deep State,
Economy,
Fabian Socialists - Modern Progressives,
media bias,
Medical Tyranny,
NATO,
Notorious Liars,
Professional Idiots,
propaganda,
Typical Prog Behavior,
Ukraine,
Uncategorized,
Vaccine Mandate,
World Economic Forum
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Libs of Tik Tok : ''I'm getting used to dealing with problems that are expensive, disruptive and white'' Boston Mayor thinks it's oka'... https://t.co/SpgYGg6p68
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Dominant Phrygian : @libsoftiktok @CeruleanGates Where y'all been?It Has Been ok to be disparaging of whites for a long time.
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VIDEO - Gummi Bear on Twitter: "This lady is dumber than a bag of rocks I present to you Kamala Harris just repeating ''the significance of the passage of time'' over and over https://t.co/FvGcTWYSfK" / Twitter
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Gummi Bear : This lady is dumber than a bag of rocksI present to you Kamala Harris just repeating ''the significance of the pas'... https://t.co/1mR3mJUj4S
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Anarkitty : @gummibear737 The passage of time passes every second of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every week,'... https://t.co/dEwnnwC5l5
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Billie Johnson : @gummibear737 A heartbeat away
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プーチãƒ"'—‹ : @gummibear737 バイデãƒ"ããƒãƒªã‚¹ã‚ホワイãƒãƒã‚...スは精神病棟なのかã‚
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Bonnie : @gummibear737 🤪
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l munoz : @gummibear737 Those of us in CA who saw her in action tried to send up flares. No one was listening.
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Anti Mandate is homophobic : @gummibear737 What's the Guiness World Record for dick sucking to the top?
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VAL4EVERFREEDOM 🏹 : @gummibear737 https://t.co/EvFiNwk50b
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👁¸World Economic Forum Failed Humanity👁¸ : @gummibear737 Globalism works 🖕'¬†¸
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Greg Price : BIDEN: "There's going to be a new world order out there and we have to lead it." https://t.co/jNfUmUO80p
Mon Mar 21 22:38:05 +0000 2022
stonkwatcher : @greg_price11 The New World Order means you are going to be locked up and starved to death if you dont ask how high'... https://t.co/t1QKl4xwyz
Tue Mar 22 13:43:23 +0000 2022
Antonio (9) Mzq TonyO : @greg_price11 The NEW WORLD ORDER I've been warming you about since 1979. Democrat voters are the target. Yes, the'... https://t.co/cksXifyF4L
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Bobby Brown : @greg_price11 He needs to be lead to the bathroom! Seriously?
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mike : @greg_price11 Is he supposed to say this out loud?
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MJR : @greg_price11 Sick of that man and his foolishness
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mike35 : @greg_price11 Let me give you something to grab and then lead it you devil
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Jack C : @greg_price11 It doesn't matter what ideology you follow when it comes to the concentration of power. 'Absolute p'... https://t.co/DKD5UBW76r
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Larry Leming : @greg_price11 Evil has know boundaries. Control everyone and everything so that everyone can be doomed to hell. Not'... https://t.co/WH9aADBfiN
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Amez : @greg_price11 Nobody wants to be evangelized by your order
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Amez : @greg_price11 Absolutely fucking not americans are not leading shit
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NeeGewoonNee5 : @greg_price11 Says a guy who shits his pants.....
Tue Mar 22 13:35:54 +0000 2022
Edward : @greg_price11 Sounds like we should be rooting for Russia ðŸ¬
Tue Mar 22 13:35:48 +0000 2022
Just Gonna Say It : @greg_price11 He quotes a military person from a secret meeting
Tue Mar 22 13:34:34 +0000 2022
Hein Bakbokking : @greg_price11 So what hes saying is basically: prepare for war...
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Charles 🇺🇸 : @greg_price11 Illuminati confirmed! https://t.co/o6vwiIwHGa
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VIDEO - Biden On 'Significant Opportunities' In Current Events: 'There's Gonna Be A New World Order Out There' | The Daily Wire
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 13:14
Democrat President Joe Biden said during Business Roundtable's CEO Quarterly Meeting on Monday that ''significant opportunities'' in current world events were going to lead to a ''new world order.''
The remarks came toward the end of his brief speech where he talked about Russia's invasion of Ukraine and America's economic future amid his administration's push to implement a leftist climate agenda.
''I think this presents us with some significant opportunities to make some real changes. You know, we are at an inflection point, I believe, in the world economy, not just the world economy, in the world, occurs every three or four generations. As one of my, as the one of the top military people said to me in a secure meeting the other day, 60 million people died between 1900 and 1946 and since then we established a liberal world order and that hadn't happened in a long while. A lot of people died, but nowhere near the chaos. And now's the time when things are shifting. We're going, there's gonna be a new world order out there and we've got to lead it and we've got to unite the rest of the free world and doing it.''
WATCH:
Biden's remarks come as war broke out in Europe a month ago when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky pinned blame for Russia's invasion into Ukraine on Democrat President Joe Biden's refusal to enact sanctions against Russia before Russia launched the invasion.
Zelensky told Senators that if the U.S. ''had started sanctions months ago, there would not have been war.''
Reuters noted just a few days before Russia invaded Ukraine that Biden was ''refus[ing] to unleash sanctions on Russia'' until Russia invaded, despite numerous officials, including Zelensky, saying that the sanctions could stop the invasion from happening.
''You tell me 100% that there will be war in a few days' time. What are you waiting for?'' Zelensky said before the invasion. ''We will not need your sanctions after there is a bombardment, or after our state is shot at, or if we have no more borders, we do not have an economy, or parts of our state is occupied.''
Zelensky also appeared to take a separate shot at Biden in late February, saying that ''the world's most powerful forces are watching from afar'' as Ukraine was forced to defend itself.
Related:
Biden Turned Over Intelligence To China On Russia's Plans To Invade Ukraine, China Gave It To Russia, Report SaysBiden Tries To Paint Situation In Ukraine As Positive As Russian Military Forces Continue To AdvanceBiden On Russia Invading Ukraine: 'Nobody Expected The Sanctions To Prevent Anything From Happening'The Daily Wire is one of America's fastest growing conservative media companies for breaking news, investigative reporting, sports, podcasts, in-depth analysis, books, and entertainment for a reason: because we believe in what we do. We believe in our country, in the value of truth and the freedom to speak it, and in the right to challenge tyranny wherever we see it. Believe the same? Become a member now and join our mission.
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1999 NATO attacks on Yugo 3.mp3
ABC GMA3 - anchor Dr Jen Ashton - over 65 risk -get boosted (1min29sec).mp3
ABC GMA3 - anchor Eva Pilgrim - china covid death - funding (1min).mp3
Breaking - NYC Lifting Private Sector Vaccine Mandate For Athletes, Entertainers.mp3
Chinese Lockdowns - CCTV NEWS.mp3
EU MP's [MdEP] buttslam Trudeau for 'democracy' not welcome to speak.mp3
ABC GMA - anchor Tevor Ault - moderna kids vaccine (1min15sec).mp3
CBS Evening - anchor Jane Crawford - brown hearing republicans (1min46sec).mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Mona Abdi - zelensky pillow (16sec).mp3
CBS Evening - anchor Norah ODonnell - [headline] biden NATO (47sec).mp3
CBS Evening - anchor Norah ODonnell - albright passes at 84 (22sec).mp3
nuclear_power_point_background.mp3
ABC ATM - anchor Andrew Dymburt - ukraine mall rubble [fixed] (17sec).mp3
ABC 7 - pfizer recalling blood pressure medication -nitrosamines (31sec).mp3
  • 0:00
    Go.
  • 0:02
    Adam curry Jhansi Devorah it's Thursday March 24 2022. This is
  • 0:07
    your award winning keep our nation media assassination
  • 0:09
    episode 1436 This
  • 0:12
    is no agenda. Pay me
  • 0:14
    tornadoes and broadcasting live from the heart of the Texas hill
  • 0:18
    country here in FEMA Region number six. Good morning,
  • 0:20
    everybody. I'm Adam curry
  • 0:22
    and from Northern Silicon Valley where we hear that when Biden
  • 0:25
    landed in Brussels, he said Who are these sprouts? I'm John C
  • 0:30
    Dvorak.
  • 0:35
    Right writing material again I like it very good.
  • 0:43
    So came to mind we do
  • 0:45
    we hold my goodness I'm kind of regretting the last rainstick
  • 0:51
    shake
  • 0:51
    we did. You guys got hit a little bit. But you
  • 0:55
    know what happens whenever we use the rain stick and I pointed
  • 0:58
    to west, kind of was it north northwest? The back end of the
  • 1:05
    stick? Does all it it wreaks havoc Did you see what happened
  • 1:09
    in Texas? We had hail storms tornadoes, multiple tornadoes
  • 1:14
    ripping through Round Rock Round Rock I don't think can ever
  • 1:19
    recall then That's right. Right in Austin, basically. And I feel
  • 1:23
    guilty. Okay, I mean, seriously, we got to be careful. We
  • 1:29
    need water.
  • 1:30
    We did not need that. I mean, there was only material damage.
  • 1:34
    I think maybe one person died. But it was weird. At just 789 10
  • 1:40
    tornadoes. Little tornado just touching down all of a sudden
  • 1:43
    that was rainstick magic boy. I'm afraid of it. We got to be
  • 1:47
    careful
  • 1:47
    here. Some years ago, there was a tornado that hit Fort Worth.
  • 1:51
    Mm hmm. It hit downtown and it took one of the buildings that I
  • 1:55
    could somebody straighten me out and just because my my
  • 1:58
    recollection goes way back, I never updated this was this may
  • 2:02
    have changed. Okay. But it it supposedly took one of the high
  • 2:06
    rises and hit it so hard that it twisted it in such a way that
  • 2:11
    they couldn't be demolished?
  • 2:13
    Oh, I don't know. I don't remember any of this.
  • 2:16
    And I've heard this this is an old story as ordered by the
  • 2:20
    Tandy towers and
  • 2:22
    the Tandy towers Do they still are they still called the Tandy
  • 2:26
    towers
  • 2:27
    no Tandy is out
  • 2:30
    or is it now crypto.com Towers seems like the the go to these
  • 2:36
    making somebody update me and whatever happened that building
  • 2:41
    right off the bat I think we need to give you your props and
  • 2:44
    well deserved this is what we do here to no agenda show we
  • 2:47
    analyze what's going on and often come up with what people
  • 2:50
    will call crazy nutty predictions but Jhansi Dvorak
  • 2:54
    Redbook come true. Hi, big
  • 2:57
    news for pro sports teams in New York Mayor
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    Eric Adams expected to change the city's private sector
  • 3:03
    vaccine mandate to allow exemptions for athletes and
  • 3:06
    entertainers. This per multiple reports obviously clears the way
  • 3:10
    for Kyrie Irving plain old games in Brooklyn. It'll also allow
  • 3:14
    unvaccinated Yankees and Mets players to play at home games in
  • 3:17
    the Bronx and Queens. The athletic reports that Kyrie will
  • 3:20
    be eligible to make his home debut Sunday
  • 3:23
    against the Hornets.
  • 3:25
    Dude, you so you nailed that so hard. I mean, that's just crazy.
  • 3:34
    Yeah. Well, what was my thesis though?
  • 3:38
    Your thesis was about the gambling.
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    Gambling interest. Yes,
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    yes. And run the country. And I'm so happy that I placed my
  • 3:45
    bet when you told me to. Good mood. What was I thinking by not
  • 3:51
    doing that? Ah, yeah, yeah, I'm not a gambling man. That's
  • 3:54
    that's the problem right there. So this is pretty transparent.
  • 3:58
    What's going on here?
  • 4:02
    Well, it is to me.
  • 4:03
    Meanwhile, we got you know, the the private sector mandate is
  • 4:07
    still in place just only not for performers, and sports and
  • 4:12
    athletes. I mean, holy crap. I mean, I know people who
  • 4:18
    literally cannot get a job because of the mandates. Still
  • 4:21
    in New
  • 4:22
    York City. Yeah, New York's terrible.
  • 4:24
    I mean that that's just horrible. And now is shameful
  • 4:27
    town. And by the way, if you're a podcaster do not qualify as a
  • 4:30
    performer.
  • 4:33
    Have you ever listened to a lot of these podcasts in New York?
  • 4:36
    Come on? Seriously, when when the lockdowns came, I think
  • 4:41
    podcasters were considered essential essential personnel
  • 4:45
    essential essential workers.
  • 4:48
    Yeah, well yeah, media exempt is what it really was. Okay.
  • 4:53
    Um, all right. I'm my
  • 4:57
    other predictions coming true to which This, which is the cotton
  • 5:02
    G. Brown.
  • 5:05
    Now, may I just say, we cannot start with katachi? Jackson
  • 5:09
    Brown?
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    I don't have any clips, you know, I can't start date.
  • 5:13
    There's lots of good clips. I know that out there. There's
  • 5:15
    tons of them. And they're all funny. You literally
  • 5:17
    have a brown jug. I mean, just the whole topic by itself. The
  • 5:21
    war ended the minute this hearing started. It's like, and
  • 5:25
    now it's all political bullshit. I refuse to start our show with
  • 5:30
    it. I refuse to
  • 5:31
    mention it. Why are they showing these hearings on all the
  • 5:35
    networks and on KQED? on PBS affiliates war is over. It's not
  • 5:42
    interesting.
  • 5:44
    Oh, no, but it's all political. It's 100%. Oh, oh, we got to
  • 5:49
    show that. Well, hold on a second. Oh, God, I didn't want
  • 5:53
    to do this.
  • 5:55
    But I didn't want to do it.
  • 5:56
    I did want to do it. Alright, I'm going to play because it's
  • 6:00
    media deconstruction. It's not something from the actual
  • 6:03
    hearings was just so tedious and boring. Just listen to how this
  • 6:08
    is being used is only there to propagandize people. And if you
  • 6:12
    want to hear the best and you go to the source, Joy read. Listen
  • 6:18
    to this.
  • 6:18
    They supported fully justice Cavanaugh, and were outraged
  • 6:22
    that anyone would ask him about these three credible accusations
  • 6:26
    of sexually violating teenagers and college students. Okay. So
  • 6:31
    we know they don't really care about that. They also fully
  • 6:34
    support Donald Trump, who has 26 accusers,
  • 6:38
    just so you know, this is all about Trump and the Republicans
  • 6:42
    has nothing in them and the Republicans, they're all there.
  • 6:46
    It's all about critical race theory and Roe versus Wade, it's