Cover for No Agenda Show 1588: Swedish Fish
September 7th, 2023 • 2h 58m

1588: Swedish Fish


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

Africa Carbon Scam
If you take two carbon credits, one generated out of Iceland or Norway, or any other Global North country and one generated in Africa, assuming that they’re both at the same level in terms of integrity, there is no particular reason why the European carbon credit or Japanese carbon credit sells for $109, $110, and the African one for $9, $8, sometimes even less.
That price disparity is a cause of concern for us. It’s something that we’re becoming more vocal about in terms of speaking to the global bodies, whether it’s within Europe or in Japan or other countries as well. This is something that we hope that we can get much faster traction on, for the sake of justice and equity – we’re not trying to sell a free lunch with African credits.
Part of the reason why the European ones sell for $109, $110 is the ETS scheme [see above]. The countries who are over-emitting need to be able to, by law or by regulation, issue carbon credits within that space. Part of this conversation here is as part of the support of the Global North to Africa to open up the compliance markets in Europe to African credits.
Covid Comeback
Big Pharma
Ukraine vs Russia
Investment Banker Ukraine BOTG
Good morning, Adam, and greetings. I’ve followed your commentary on the Ukraine conflict for about a year. I’m writing to offer an uncommon take on these events, and perhaps a helpful way to frame and analyze American political involvement.
I can’t take credit for these thoughts—they come from a good friend who has relevant knowledge in the field and significant exposure to some of the players. He’s a well-known investment banker who’s dealt with the biggest business interests in Ukraine. This experience has yielded credible insights that most people don’t have. At the risk of sounding paranoid, he’s asked me to withhold his name. I want to respect his anonymity and simply relay his insights for your consideration. No one is looking for credit or notoriety here—he’s simply offering a perspective that the press will never adopt because it diverges from the narrative that Ukraine is above reproach. It also highlights American involvement in an unflattering way.
Until about a decade ago, post-Soviet Ukrainian oligarchs (think Igor Kolomoisky and Victor Pinchuk) controlled Ukrainian natural resources such as manganese ferroalloys (a key ingredient in steel production). Political events wrenched these resources from the oligarchs’ grasp, and these kingpins now want “their” assets back. Fortunately for them, they’ve forged close relationships with American business interests and politicians (among them Hunter Biden, who needs no introduction). These cozy affairs are less than ethically pure.
My friend’s view—admittedly his opinion but highly informed—is that these Ukrainian strongmen lobbied their American business and political associates to bring NATO to Russia’s doorstep to facilitate the oligarchs’ eventual recovery of their former interests without Russian meddling—but Russia did not comply. My friend makes a further suggestion (originally conjectural but increasingly plausible) that the Biden Administration’s inability to deter the Russians has vexed Kolomoisky, who has now upped the ante by divulging unsavory information about American players such as the Bidens—thereby firing a shot across the bow of American politicians and prompting the State Department to denounce and discredit Kolomoisky.
Fast-forward to Kolomoisky’s reported arrest last week, along with American attempts to extradite him to the USA for prosecution. As time passes, my friend’s informed perspective seems increasingly credible.
I recognize that this information is dense and the conclusions controversial. My friend acknowledges this as well. He’s not trying to create salacious narratives for talking heads to debate; he just wants to suggest a credible line of inquiry that may help analysts and commentators such as you and John to sift through the information that continues to dribble out about Hunter Biden and his family.
The Campaign to destabilize Europe
Large companies like BASF and SAP relocating outside of Germany
Many Bankruptcies
Huge inflation
Many layoffs
High unemployment
100's of protests with hundreds of thousands of people
People want to exit the EU
Infrastructure money rerouted to Ukraine
Immigration is replacing the indigenous families
Financialization is how the rich get richer
Green bullcrap
Nationalism will rise
Ethnic hostilities
Drug addiction
This is what we did to Africa, now doing it to the west
Stavrids BOTG
ADM James Stavridis was a 4* USN Admiral who was SACEUR from 09-13. He retired after that. As Supreme Allied Commander, he was responsible for leading NATO and crafting policy to deter Russia. This is why he fields questions and is considered a SME for the current Russia/Ukraine conflict.
Ukraine Counter offensive map -
Climate Change
Big Tech
Google Search Generative Experience
Twitter Elon ADL X Heel
Great Reset
Maui Fire
Hawaii grid back-fed BOTG
Just got an update on the fires in Hawaii and the electricity company.
The power company logs show the lines de-energized... Apparently it was generators at hotels the hospitals and solar on residential back feeding the grid
So that fried the lines?
Didn't fry the lines but would have caused some of the issues... But the power company was not putting power on those lines it was coming from buildings that should have been isolated and not back feeding the grid
Oh man. That's very interesting. Is the electric company separate from the grid operator? Who gets the blame?
Ironically enough it'll be down to the individual electricians that installed these because there should have been a transverse switch at each individual location that should have prevented this
The company over distribution Hawaiian electric is separate from the grid operator but they're the ones who would be responsible making sure the lines were not energized from there end.. the electrical inspectors who oversaw the installation of each generation type (generator or solar) of each building would be responsible for making sure it's not back feeding into the grid... Each one should have a transfer switch to prevent it just like your generator at home does
Skipping out on student loans
So I did this with all of my private loans, Chase, Sally Mae, Discover, etc.
Some guy at a warehouse party told me to watch it. He then told me that I don't owe anything and to stop paying. I thought he was fucking nuts. A few years later when I lost my job. I simply couldn't afford the various payments of 336, 213, 221, etc it was nuts. I stopped checked the debt and loan laws for NYS and took a gamble that paid off. It was stressful but it's worth the risk to keep you money and deal with a lawsuit if Chase, or any student loan company sees the value in sueing a student borrower.
Those were all discharged. If you literally ignore private debt collectors and they don't sue within the statute of limitations you're in the clear.
Chase discharged 25,000 in debt. It was reported to the IRS, so I had to fill out an insolvency form for the tax year 2017 for a 2007 loan.
I'm getting some money back.
Federal loans are the only loans you can't get out of. Like they said it'll collect interest, but they would tank the credit industry if they hit every borrower with late payment notifications and defaults.
My credit if Good now, even with the 42,000 federal laon I haven't made a payment on since 2013.
Trump / Biden
Spotify's $1 Billion Podcast Bet Turns Into a Serial Drama - WSJ
Thu, 07 Sep 2023 17:23
Anne Steele
Sarah Krouse
Sept. 5, 2023 12:01 am ETSpotify spent more than $1 billion to build a podcasting empire. It struck splashy deals with Kim Kardashian, the Obamas and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It paid $286 million for a pair of podcast studios and spent $250,000 and more an episode on exclusive shows to lure new listeners.
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BUY CREDITS | Wildlife New
Thu, 07 Sep 2023 16:21
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ADL Orders Advertisers to Bail on Twitter, Calls the Bible an 'Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory' - National File
Thu, 07 Sep 2023 15:52
Last Updated on November 5, 2022
The far-left Anti-Defamation League has ordered advertisers to ''pause Twitter spending'' after accusing the platform's users, and its new owner Elon Musk, of ''antisemitism'' and ''hate'' amidst a surge in free speech. Among the ''hate'' tweets cited by the ADL is a Bible verse posted to Twitter by Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.After a week of back and forth between Elon Musk and the ADL regarding free speech on the Twitter platform, the far-left pressure group that's increasingly seen as being a Jewish supremacist organization authored a long tweet thread calling on advertisers to ditch the platform.
Allowing free speech, the ADL claimed in the thread, is not only ''toxic,'' but part of a ''hate for profit'' scheme.
''Today, we are joining dozens of other groups to ask advertisers to pause Twitter spending because we are profoundly concerned about antisemitism and hate on the platform,'' reads the ADL's initial tweet, authored Friday, November 4th.
''Here's why we're asking advertisers to #StopHateForProfit and #StopToxicTwitter,'' it went on, introducing the thread that called the Holy Bible an ''antisemitic conspiracy theory.''
The ADL is calling for Twitter's advertisers to ''pause'' spending on the platform until Elon Musk totally bends the knee to their demands.The ADL's call for collectively multi-billion dollar advertising sponsors to leave Twitter high and dry came just days after Elon Musk was slammed for groveling to the anti-speech group that threatened ''dire consequences'' for allowing free speech and re-instating accounts they don't like.
On Wednesday, Musk announced that he'd met with ADL leadership following their threat, as well as the NAACP, and even members of the Bush political machine.
Musk said at the time that his Twitter platform would continue enforcing anti ''hate'' and ''election integrity'' policies at the ADL's behest.
But, ''since that meeting,'' the ADL claimed in their tweet thread, ''Musk permitted @KanyeWest to start posting again,'' which, apparently, is a grave offense.
Among Ye's tweets that the ADL is most vehemently opposed to is his sharing of Holy Bible verse John 19:19, something the ADL claims is equivalent to posting ''antisemitic conspiracy theories.''
Read More: Elon Musk Grovels to the ADL, Vows to Enforce Their Censorship Agenda at TwitterThe ADL claimed the Holy Bible is part of a series of ''antisemitic conspiracy theories'' being peddled on Twitter.''Musk has also conducted massive layoffs,'' the thread went on, bemoaning Musk's firing of Twitter's top executives and anti speech censors that came almost immediately after he took the helm.
As punishment, the ADL is calling on Twitter's sponsors to drop all affiliations with them, effectively using financial blackmail to enforce their anti-free speech agenda.
The ADL bemoaned Elon Musk's firing of Twitter's top censors.The ADL's call for sponsors to drop Twitter despite Elon Musk seemingly going along with their will has led to great speculation online that the platform's new owner is playing a game of 4-dimensional chess with the left-wing pressure group.
If they order the sponsors to drop Twitter, the internet theory goes, Musk can then forge a new path, and wash his hands of the ADL and their anti-speech corporate foot soldiers.
The situation at Twitter is developing rapidly. Stick with National File for updates.
RELATED: Mass Firings Begin at Twitter Under Musk's Leadership RELATED: Mark Finchem is Back on Twitter After Musk Looks into His Banning
Thousands of Old Wind Turbine Blades Pile Up in West Texas
Thu, 07 Sep 2023 14:36
Every year since 1958, the West Texas town of Sweetwater has hosted the World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup, which is exactly what it sounds like. Thousands of the venomous ophidians are rooted out of their dens and brought to the Nolan County Coliseum to be gawked at, ''milked,'' and often beheaded and skinned. It started as a way for the region to rid itself of some of its least-welcome residents. Now community leaders wish they could do the same with several giant piles of scrap that have for too long been left to bake in the sun. But that's proving to be much trickier than wrangling reptiles.
About forty miles west of Abilene on Interstate 20, Sweetwater has unwittingly become home to what is possibly the world's largest collection of unwanted wind turbine blades. When forklifts deposited the first of these in a field behind the apartment complex where Pamala Meyer lives, on the west side of town, in 2017, she wasn't initially bothered. But then the blades'--between 150 and 200 feet in length and mostly made of composite materials such as fiberglass with a binding resin'--kept coming. Each was cut into thirds, with each segment longer than a school bus. Thousands arrived over several years, eventually blanketing more than thirty acres, in stacks rising as high as basketball backboards. Every few dozen feet, a break among the stacks leads into an industrial hedge maze.
''It's just a hazard all the way around,'' Meyer said. She worries about neighborhood children exploring the unfenced piles and says that stagnant pools of water inside the blades breed swarms of mosquitos. Matt Jackson, who works in a nearby warehouse, has other concerns. The piles create shaded nooks and crannies, perfect for Sweetwater's unofficial mascot. ''It's just a big rattlesnake farm,'' he said.
Global Fiberglass says the blades will soon be processed, but Sweetwater leaders have heard such promises before. Eli Rosen/Yucca FilmsThe blades were brought here by Global Fiberglass Solutions, a company based in Washington State that announced in 2017 its intention to recycle blades from wind farms across the region. Instead of ending up in landfills, they would be ground up into a reusable material that could be turned into pallets, railroad ties, or flooring panels. Global Fiberglass is one of a few companies attempting to develop a viable business from recycling blades.
Besides the main boneyard'--behind Meyer's apartment'--stacks of blades also occupy ten acres a couple miles south of town, and the company is storing blades in other locations in the county. ''They have, in my view, abandoned them there,'' said Samantha Morrow, the Nolan County attorney. ''The county doesn't have and cannot find millions of dollars to clean this up.''
The Sweetwater piles are also at least partly the indirect result of a rule clarification the Internal Revenue Service issued in 2016. Before then, a wind farm could collect valuable federal tax credits for only its first ten years of operation. But the IRS determined that it would restart the clock on the credits if a wind farm ''repowered'' its turbines'--replacing most of their equipment with newer parts. So, despite the expected two-decade lifespan for turbine blades, wind farms across Texas and other states began replacing many that remained in good shape years early.
Some paid Global Fiberglass to remove the older blades and haul them away. The company set up shop in an empty industrial facility in Sweetwater that was once an aluminum recycling plant, but Don Lilly, the managing director of Global Fiberglass, told me that only a handful of blades have ever been ground up there. He said the company was close to ramping up and would soon mill the blades into pieces the size of coarse sand. ''The blade material is sold,'' he said, ''but I can't go into that part yet.''
Sweetwater has heard such pledges before. The county declared the stockpile a public nuisance a year ago. City attorney Jeff Allen said Sweetwater's local ordinances are aimed at overgrown lots, not turbine blades, leaving the city with limited legal options. He said he believes Global Fiberglass ''intended to be a viable business'' but at some point ''it just came off the rails.'' (Lilly disputes this and says the delays have come from ensuring ''all systems were engineered.'')
Sweetwater benefits from the wind-energy industry, including two large wind farms nearby. Drivers arriving on I-20 from either direction are welcomed by a giant wind turbine blade painted with the town's name. But even the community's biggest boosters of renewable energy long ago ran out of patience with Global Fiberglass's mess. ''We'd like to see them gone,'' said Karen Hunt, director of the local chamber of commerce. ''The sooner the better.''
Sweetwater isn't the only place Global Fiberglass has stockpiled blades. It has a total of 1,300 in Newton, Iowa, and two other cities in that state, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources. After an investigation, the agency concluded in 2021 there was no recycling going on, nor was any likely to happen. It declared the company to be running an unpermitted dump.
Frank Liebl, executive director of the Newton Development Corporation, testified at a state hearing that the initial excitement in 2017 of recruiting a blade-recycling company soon soured. In the intervening years, he asked Global Fiberglass many times when it would begin its recycling. He always got ''the same answer: 'Soon,''Š'' he said.
By July 2021, the company owed more than $1 million in unpaid rent in Newton, according to testimony at the Iowa hearing from its landlord's attorney. In Texas, it failed to pay taxes to Nolan County in 2020 and is now three years in arrears, according to tax records. Last year, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality fined the company $10,255 for what it described as illegally stored solid waste. It allowed the company to pay the penalty in monthly installments for three years. In June, Global Fiberglass defaulted, according to the commission.
In Newton, pressure from the state of Iowa seems to have worked. Craig Armstrong, a city employee, said that General Electric recently acquired the blades. It's unclear whether GE purchased them from Global Fiberglass or from the landlord who was owed the $1 million in rent, who may have taken possession of the blades. The city was promised that they would be sent to a recycling center by the end of the year, although none had been removed by mid-August, according to a Newton city official.
Lilly declined to talk about the Iowa blades. He said the situation in Sweetwater is different and insists that Global Fiberglass will grind down and recycle these blades. ''If you come back nine months from now, you will not see the material,'' he said. We're marking our calendars and will check back in May.
3-months.jpg (1280—647)
Thu, 07 Sep 2023 14:24
Weight loss drugs Wegovy, Ozempic tested to treat addiction, dementia
Thu, 07 Sep 2023 14:03
Weight loss drugs are being assessed for their ability to treat conditions like dementia and addiction after a landmark study showed that Wegovy helped reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON '-- Scientists have begun investigating whether so-called miracle obesity drugs could be used to treat conditions such as dementia and alcohol addiction after recent trials pointed to the drugs' efficacy in treating serious health issues.
Late-stage trial data released last month by Novo Nordisk indicated that its Wegovy weight loss injection led to "large reductions" in heart failure-related symptoms among at-risk patients.
It comes weeks after the Danish pharmaceutical company published the results of its much anticipated "SELECT" study, which showed the drug's role in reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes.
The findings mark a major milestone as the company seeks to broaden perceptions of its product '-- dubbed by some a "vanity drug" '-- and researchers are hopeful they spell positive news for the drugs' other applications.
"The results show that this medication can have health benefits above and beyond the short-term," Christian Hendershot, director of the clinical and translational addiction research program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told CNBC via Zoom.
A treatment for drug and alcohol abuseHendershot is one researcher investigating whether the appetite-regulating mechanisms at play in weight loss drugs could be used to treat other conditions such as alcohol and drug addiction.
Novo Nordisk's Wegovy and Eli Lilly 's Mounjaro work by imitating a naturally occurring gut hormone that helps regulate appetite in the brain, ultimately leading to weight loss. For that, they rely on active ingredients called semaglutide and liraglutide, respectively, which belong to a group of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists.
Pre-clinical trial data has for several years pointed to the efficacy of GLP-1 medication in reducing drug and alcohol intake among animals. Hendershot is now testing Ozempic '-- Wegovy's predecessor used to treat type 2 diabetes '-- to see whether those trends apply to humans, too.
If those two studies both readout ... it's hard to overstate the effect this will have on the field.
Kyle Simmons
rofessor of pharmacology and physiology at Oklahoma State University
"There is reason for optimism, particularly given the reports. Now it's our job to do the research to validate those findings with clinical data," said Hendershot, who expects to publish early findings next year.
If broader applications of the drugs are proven to be effective, the implications could be vast, according to Kyle Simmons, professor of pharmacology and physiology at Oklahoma State University, who cited early indications of the drugs' efficacy in reducing cocaine, amphetamine and opioid cravings.
Simmons is currently leading the Semaglutide Therapy for Alcohol Reduction (STAR) trial, a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which is running in tandem with a separate but similar study at the University of Baltimore.
"If those two studies both read out, and they're both positive, it's hard to overstate the effect this will have on the field," he said.
Applications in Alzheimer's diseaseSome researchers are hopeful the drugs could also have use cases in the treatment of dementia and other cognitive disorders.
Already, there is evidence to suggest that GLP-1 drugs can reduce the build-up of amyloid and tau on the brain '-- two proteins thought to be responsible for Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia.
Now, a trial underway at the University of Oxford will test patients at risk of developing dementia '-- i.e. those with high levels of amyloid on the brain '-- to see whether the drugs lead to a reduction in tau accumulation and brain inflammation.
"We want to see if these drugs are interfering with the core Alzheimer's disease pathology," said Ivan Koychev, a senior clinical researcher, who is leading the study.
Elsewhere, others think the drugs could have potential applications in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that can cause irregular periods, hormone imbalances and fertility issues.
"If women with PCOS exhibit positive outcomes in terms of irregular periods and hirsutism [excess hair growth] despite modest weight loss, it could underscore the medication's broader therapeutic potential," said Harshal Deshmukh, a consultant endocrinologist and senior clinical lecturer at the University of Hull, who is currently conducting one such trial.
Implications for reward signalingAdditional possible use cases for weight loss drugs could exacerbate the hurdles already faced by patients using them, however: high costs and supply shortages.
Earlier this month, Novo Nordisk extended restrictions on starter doses of Wegovy due to production constraints, while Eli Lilly warned of continued delays in Mounjaro output for the same reason.
Hendershot said his study was not currently being impacted by shortages, but Simmons described it as a "significant concern."
Meantime, concerns have been raised about the possible adverse effects of the drugs after some patients reported thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Is this medication ... turning down the gain on reward-signaling
Kyle Simmons
rofessor of pharmacology and physiology at Oklahoma State University
Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen told a Reuters Newsmaker event last month that the number of suspected cases remained minimal relative to the wide reach of the drug. "When you have medicine that's used in millions of patients, and many different types of patients, then you can come across different events," he said.
However, Simmons said that more research is still needed to understand the impact of such drugs on reward signaling in the brain. His own research will test for such signals by monitoring participants' reward responses in a virtual reality simulation.
"Is this medication, because of its effects maybe on the mesolimbic dopamine system, just turning down the gain on reward signaling in such a way that could promote anhedonia?" Simmons said. Anhedonia is a term used to describe a reduced ability to experience pleasure.
"If this drug is used by more and more people, if it starts to promote a loss of interest in pleasure more generally, that might not be a great thing, for example, for people who have a history of major depressive disorder," he added.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. at 988 or the Samaritans in the U.K. at 116 123.
Howard Stern Hopes And Calls For Return Of Lockdowns
Thu, 07 Sep 2023 13:46
A caller asked Howard Stern if he planned to return to his studio after spending the last three years at his home to evade Covid.
Stern said no. In fact, he's more worried now than he has been. He says the threat of a new Covid wave has him in a state of paranoia.
''I'm going crazy with this. My wife yelled at me last night. We got into a fight. You know how paranoid I am about getting covid. I haven't gotten it, and I'm pretty safe, and I really don't want to get it,'' Stern said.
''Everyone goes, 'Don't worry, it's just a cold for me.' It'll probably be way worse. You know what I mean? I mean, I'm the lucky one who will completely fall apart. My wife's considerably younger than me, as you might have heard. She's not as concerned about getting Covid as I am, because, you know, I'm an older dude.''
Stern says his wife has plans to travel, but he might stay home and lock himself down.
''Beth has a bunch of plans. She has like a wedding shower to go to and lunch to go to with a friend and a dinner and a blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So, you know, we're really making an effort. We go out to restaurants. We went to the Ed Sheeran concert. We've really been out there. I haven't gotten covid. And I'm like, you know what? If I get it, I get it,'' Stern said.
''Then all of a sudden they announce there's a new strain of covid and it's on the rise. And, you know, people are being hospitalized. 'It's time to go back down into lockdown.' And I'm like, you mean I'm just emerging and now I'm going back into lockdown.''
Stern isn't kidding. New Howard doesn't joke. Particularly, on the topic of Covid.
The New York Post reported last October that Stern dined out with friends for the first time since the start of Covid, two and half years prior:
Germaphobe Howard Stern leaves 'bunker' to dine with pals for first time since 2020
'-- New York Post (@nypost) October 3, 2022Covid frightened no one in media more than it did Howard Stern.
Some notable examples include him demanding the NFL throw Aaron Rodgers out of the league for not being vaxxed, complaining about Oprah hosting a dinner party without masks, and blaming Kirstie Alley's colon cancer on her anti-science approach to the pandemic (whatever that means).
Bill Maher considers Stern a friend. He missed him. Yet he fears will never see him again. At least not alive.
''I have a long storied history, ups and downs with [Howard], and it's just '-- I find it so sad these days that I can't see him because of the pandemic,'' Maher told comedian Kevin Nealon.
''And I don't think I'll ever see him again because I don't think he'll ever leave the house because he's what? No, you know, he's very, very '-- look, I don't want to judge it, but he's scared of germs.''
He certainly won't be leaving his house now, not after shows like The View declared Covid officially ''back'' this week.
Covid broke Howard Stern.
Covid and Donald Trump, to be exact.
And he hasn't recovered.
Howard Stern is a fragile shell of his former self. He's a sheep. No one would have more fun mocking 2023 Howard Stern than 1990's Howard Stern.
So, to answer the caller's question, no. Stern doesn't plan to return to the studio. Howard Stern plans to return to his basement, in which he locked himself down from March 2022 to October 2022.
Baby boy's dark-brown eyes turn bright BLUE overnight after being given a COVID treatment | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 17:04
A six-month-old boy prescribed an antiviral drug to treat Covid had a bizarre reaction - his dark brown eyes turned a bright blue.
The unnamed infant from Thailand was given favipiravir, a treatment commonly used for influenza and Ebola, which was used as a Covid therapy in parts of Asia and Europe during the pandemic but was never approved in the US.
Doctors in Bangkok who treated the infant said the antiviral drug released a fluorescent chemical that accumulated in the boy's corneas.
The boy's eyes changed hue 18 hours after receiving the treatment but returned to their natural color five days after medication cessation.
The six-month-old boy's eyes are naturally dark brown. He was diagnosed with Covid and given favipiravir as a treatment - making him the youngest patient to receive the drug
Within just 18 hours of the first dose, the boy's mother noticed his eyes turned a bright blue color
In Thailand, favipiravir is the main antiviral given to children infected with SARS-CoV-2.
The most common side effects of the treatment include an increase of uric acid in the body, diarrhea and a low count of white blood cells, which account for roughly 20 percent of adverse events.
Favipiravir is approved in Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Kazakhstan and received approval for emergency use in Italy in 2020.
The US began trialing the drug in April 2020 with a small group of 50 people at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve favipiravir in the US.
The report on the infant was published in April 2023, but the exact date of the side effect is unknown.
On day one, he received 82 milligrams, and 18 hours later, his mother noticed the eye color change.
'No bluish discoloration was observed in other areas such as skin, nails, or oral and nasal mucosa. Symptoms improved after three days of favipiravir therapy,' the researchers wrote in the study published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics.
An eye examination was performed after treatment was over.
'The patient was able to fix and follow the light in all directions,' reads the study.
Researchers wrote that this fluorescence 'may be due to the drug, its metabolites, or additional tablet components such as titanium dioxide and yellow ferric oxide.'
Several medications can affect the eye, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners and antihistamines.
A class of medication called prostaglandins, used to treat glaucoma, has a side effect of darkening the iris color that can be permanent.
A 2021 study reports the case of a 20-year-old man in India who endured the exact eye color change
He received favipiravir, and on the second day, he noticed discoloration of his eyes - the same deep blue that returned to natural brown when treatment had stopped
Doctors also found the cornea was clear and lacked a bluish corneal hue, and no blue pigment deposit was observed on the surface of the iris or the anterior lens capsule.
While the boy is the youngest patient to receive the treatment, he is not the first to experience the bizarre side effect.
A 2021 study reports the case of a 20-year-old man in India who endured the exact eye color change.
He received favipiravir, and on the second day, he noticed discoloration of his eyes - the same deep blue that returned to natural brown when treatment had stopped.
'We assumed that the bluish corneal hue could be related to favipiravir and advised the patient to stop using favipiravir immediately. It was remarkable to note that the very next day, upon stopping favipiravir the patient's corneas returned to normal color,' reads the paper published by a team from Medicine Healthway Hospitals in India.
Following this case, the team sifted through the literature to find other instances but determined this man is the first case of favipiravir causing bluish discoloration of the corneas.
WhoFundsWho '' WhoFundsWho instantly shows you who funds the experts, politicians, think tanks and other institutions you are reading about
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 16:42
WhoFundsWho is a browser extension that instantly shows you who funds the experts, politicians, think tanks and other organizations that you are reading about.
There is an old joke about making politicians wear their sponsors' logos on their suits, like NASCAR drivers do. That way we would instantly know which special interests may be benefiting from the policies advocated by a politician. The same goes for the experts that appear in the media to explain foreign policy, public health, the economy and so on to the public. For example, if a foreign policy expert argues that instead of facilitating peace negotiations we should send more weapons to a conflict zone it may well be relevant to know that the think tank she works for is funded by defense contractors.
Although you can typically find this kind of sponsorship information if you do some investigating online, as a reader you don't want to have to do the research for every person and organization that you'd like to know more about. That's why it would be so helpful if the experts and politicians wore sponsor logos on their suits. But that's obviously not going to happen.
Well, WhoFundsWho does the next best thing.
We did the research for you and compiled a database with funding information for tens of thousands of experts, politicians and organizations. Next we created a browser extension that automatically presents this information to you exactly when it is most relevant to you, i.e. when you are reading about them.
Here's how it works: When you open a webpage to read an article or browse a news site, in the background WhoFundsWho checks whether any of the names in the database are on the webpage. If so, it highlights those names to draw your attention. When you then click on or hover over the highlighted name, a popup appears that tells you who is funding that person or organization.
And it is not just financial information that WhoFundsWho can provide you with. It can also tell you:
what other organizations a person has worked forhow an organization is related to other organizationswho their parent or child organizations arewho they partner withwhat networks they are a member ofand more For example, you can ask WhoFundsWho to highlight the names of every person and politician that has some kind of formal affiliation with the World Economic Forum. Here's what that looks like when you then visit a page that lists the members of the current Canadian government:
How to UseIn the user menu there are several options you can choose from:
on / off '' Use this to turn the extension on or off. The default is 'on'.click / hover '' By default the popup will open when you hover over a highlighted name but you can also choose 'click' which opens the popup when you click on the highlighted name. The potential issue with the 'click' option is that sometimes the names that the extension finds and highlights on the webpage were already hyperlinked on the original page. And the hyperlink applied by the extension may then override the original hyperlink so that the original link is no longer accessible. This conflict is avoided by choosing 'hover' to open the popup which leaves the webpage's original click action intact.quick / full '' The 'quick' option loads the popup with only the most important information, in text format, while the default 'full' shows all available information, and it uses both text and images.first / all '' When the default 'all' is selected, all instances of each matching name found on the webpage will be highlighted whereas 'first' will highlight + hyperlink only the first two instances. The reason for this option is that if the name of an organization or person is frequently mentioned on a webpage then it may become distracting or visually unappealing if each instance of that name is highlighted + hyperlinked. Note that on the option to highlight only the first 2 instances is not available and all instances will be highlighted.
include people '' The database contains records for both organizations and people. The extension will always highlight the names of matching organizations but by checking or unchecking 'include people' you can choose whether you also want it to find matching people.
category checkboxes '' You can choose one or more of up to 11 different categories of organizations & people. If for example you are only interested in information about think tanks, then check that option. If you want the extension to alert you whenever the organizations or people you are reading about are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or have some affiliation with the World Economic Forum, then check those options.
all websites / select '' By default the extension runs on all webpages but you can also specify the websites that you want the extension to run, or not run, on. Click the 'select' link to open the form where you can specify the specific URLs, check the 'select' radio button, and then decide whether the extension should or should not run on the websites you specified.
highlight & text '' Select the highlight and text color the extension uses.
Note that changes that you make in the menu won't become active until you refresh the page or open a new page, tab or window.
As for the popups that open on the webpage, you can:
resize itdrag itexport the contents as a .csv filereturn to the top after having scrolled down
For more information, see the FAQ.
Troubleshooting? Click here.
Why WhoFundsWho?Although the WhoFundsWho database is only in its early stages, it already contains information about many tens of thousands of organizations and people. But it is by no means complete or exhaustive. Think of the database as Wikipedia in its early years: Already useful but with tremendous potential for further growth.
Our goal is for WhoFundsWho to become an indispensable tool that reveals to users the otherwise hidden connections that exist between the organizations and people that shape public opinion and policy.
And you can help make this happen:
by sending comments, suggestions, questions, criticisms and other kinds of feedback by correcting any errors you may come across in the data the extension presents to youby sending us new information or sources about funding and other types of connections that we can add to the databaseby evaluating or contributing to the codeTo get in touch, you can fill out the contact form to get in touch, send us an email at or follow us on Twitter: @whofundswho.
You can also help by spreading the word and telling others about WhoFundsWho.
Lastly, although we try to automate as much as possible it is still true that many hundreds of hours go into doing the research, homogenizing and processing the data, building the database, and designing, testing and improving the extension.
If you find that WhoFundsWho provides a valuable service to you, please consider making a donation to support our work and help us sustain, improve and expand the project.
Russ Says His Album Sales Are Undercounted, Calls Out Major Labels | Complex
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 16:14
Russ, whose latest release Santiago recently debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, is calling out a system he says rewards fake streams and ''monopolistic merch bundles.''
In a series of tweets shared on Monday and Tuesday, the Diemon artist thanked fans for their support of his new album while simultaneously highlighting the thousands of "real sales" he says were taken from him in a matter of days.
"Billboard & Luminate took away ANOTHER 4,000 of my REAL sales over the weekend making that 10,000 sales total they took away from me while allowing major labels to fake their streams and sales and do monopolistic merch bundles (only major labels are allowed to do merch bundles because the only approved vendor is a major label vendor)," he said. "These numbers and charts are made up."
After responding to a few fan tweets, Russ continued breaking down his issues with the practice.
''Billboard charts are inflated by fake data which is being verified by only one company, Luminate,'' he said, adding that both are ''owned by the same company.''
See more from Russ below.
Russ' manager, Milan Ackerman, also addressed the topic in several tweets of his own on Monday. Per Ackerman, the majors are "hiding their fake streams ... in plain sight." From there, Ackerman pointed out an issue that's been discussed with some frequency as of late, i.e. the discrepancy some artists see between ticket sales and album streams.
"It's a rigged game," Ackerman said.
This isn't the first time an artist has expressed concerns over the process of verifying album streams and sales in the modern age. In his appearance on 21 Savage's Grammy-winning 2018 single ''A Lot,'' for example, J. Cole opened the third verse with a question aimed at the practice of artificially boosting one's streaming presence:
"How many faking they streams? (A lot)
Getting they plays from machines? (A lot)
I can see behind the smoke and mirrors
N****s ain't really big as they seem"
More broadly, Meek Mill criticized the emphasis placed on first-week numbers last April, adding that "labels run that shit" and artists should instead focus on their "brand and impact."
As for merch-bundling tactics, it was announced in May of this year that the Billboard 200 album chart would be allowing ''fan packs'' to count toward a release's numbers. However, such combinations are subject to prior approval of both Luminate and Billboard.
Five Things to Know about Carbon Pricing
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:55
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Carbon pricing shows serious promise as atool in the fight against climate change
Deterring the use of fossil fuels,such as coal, fuel oil, and gasoline, is crucial to reducing the buildup ofheat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Carbon pricing providesacross-the-board incentives to reduce energy use and shift to cleaner fuelsand is an essential price signal for redirecting new investment to cleantechnologies.
Here are five things to know about carbon pricing.
1. Carbon pricing can be readily implemented.Carbon pricing, implemented through a tax on the carbon content of fossilfuels or on their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, isstraightforward to administer as an extension of existing fuel taxes.Carbon taxes can provide certainty about future emissions prices, whichmakes a difference when it comes to mobilizing clean technology investment.Revenue from carbon taxes can be used to lower burdensome taxes on workersand businesses or to fund investment in climate technology.
Carbon pricing can also be implemented through emissions tradingsystems'--firms must acquire allowances for each ton of greenhouse gases theyemit, with the supply of such permits limited by government. Businesses canbuy and sell allowances, thus establishing a price for emissions. Emissionstrading programs can be designed to mimic the advantages of taxes throughprice-stabilizing mechanisms like price floors and revenue-raising measuressuch as permit auctions.
2. Carbon pricing is gaining momentum. More than 60 carbon tax and emissions trading programs have been introducedat the regional, national, and subnational levels. In recent months majorpricing initiatives have been launched in China and Germany, the emissionsprice in the European Union has risen above '‚¬50 a ton, and Canada announcedits emissions price would rise to CAN$170 a ton by 2030.
Nonetheless, only about one-fifth of global emissions are covered bypricing programs, and the global average price is only $3 a ton. That's afar cry from the global carbon price of about $75 a ton needed to reduceemissions enough to keep global warming below 2°C.
3. Carbon pricing should be part of a comprehensive mitigation strategy.This strategy should contain supporting measures to enhance itseffectiveness and acceptability.
The incentives generated by carbon pricing can be reinforced withregulations on emission rates or feebates, whose fees and rebates forproducts (for example, vehicles, appliances) or firms (for example, powergenerators, steel producers) depend on the intensity of their emissions.These reinforcing instruments have a narrower impact than carbonpricing'--for example, they do not encourage people to drive less'--but theymay be an easier sell politically because they avoid a significant increasein energy prices.
Using carbon pricing revenues to boost the economy and counteract economicharm caused by higher fuel prices can build support for the strategy. Justtransition measures are needed to assist low-income households andvulnerable workers and regions; for example, through stronger social safetynets and retraining. These measures would require only a minor portion ofcarbon pricing revenues.
Public investment is needed for the clean technology infrastructurenetworks the private sector may not provide, like electric vehicle chargingstations and power grid extensions to accommodate renewable energy sourcessuch as wind and solar.
And carbon pricing must eventually be extended to other sectors, likeforestry and agriculture.
4. Carbon pricing must be coordinated internationally through a carbonprice floor.Aggressively scaling up carbon pricing remains difficult when countries areacting unilaterally because they fear for their industrial competitivenessand are uncertain about specific policy actions in other countries. The IMFstaff has therefore proposed an international carbon price floor tocomplement and reinforce the Paris Agreement, with two key components.
First, to facilitate negotiation, the price floor should focus on the smallnumber of countries responsible for the majority of global emissions. Forexample, an arrangement among China, the European Union, India, and theUnited States would cover 64 percent of future global CO'‚‚ emissions. Anagreement among the Group of Twenty (G20) large economies would cover 85percent of emissions.
Second, the price floor should focus on a minimum carbon price each countrymust implement, an efficient and easily understood parameter. If majoremitting countries were to simultaneously scale up carbon pricing thiswould be the most effective way to address concerns about competitivenessand uncertainty about policy in other countries. Countries would still havethe flexibility to set a higher price than the minimum if this is needed toachieve their mitigation pledges under the Paris Agreement.
The price floor must, however, be based on pragmatic design. Developingeconomies could have lower price floors and simple mechanisms for financialand technological support. In addition, the price floor could be designedflexibly to accommodate countries where carbon pricing is a political hardsell, so long as other policies achieve the same emissions reductions.
An international carbon price floor can be strikingly effective. A 2030price floor of $75 a ton for advanced economies, $50 for high-incomeemerging market economies such as China, and $25 for lower-income emergingmarkets such as India would keep warming below 2°C with just sixparticipants (Canada, China, European Union, India, United Kingdom, UnitedStates) and other G20 countries meeting their Paris pledges.
5. A pragmatically designed price floor is more promising than otherregimes.An alternative regime might require all participants to impose the samecarbon price. This approach, however, does not allow questions of equity tobe addressed through differentiated floors, and it does not accommodatecountries where carbon pricing is difficult for domestic political or otherreasons.
Another possibility is a regime in which participants agree on annual, andprogressively tightening, emissions targets. This approach involvesagreement on a larger number of parameters, however. And it is a zero-sumgame: if one country pushes for a laxer target, others would need morestringent targets. It also leaves uncertainty about what policy actionseach country would take.
Without an international carbon price floor or similar arrangement,countries will likely act on their own to impose tariffs oncarbon-intensive imported goods'--so-called border carbon adjustments. TheEuropean Union announced such a proposal in July 2021, and others areconsidering this approach. From the perspective of scaling up globalmitigation, this regime would be far less effective than an internationalcarbon price floor, however. This is because border carbon adjustmentswould price only emissions embodied in traded products and not the hugebulk of nontraded emissions (for example, from power generators,manufacturers selling domestically, buildings, and transportation).
IAN PARRYis the principal environmental fiscal policy expert in the IMF's FiscalAffairs Department.
Opinions expressed in articles and other materials are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.
Pricing Carbon
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:54
The phrase put a price on carbon has now become well known with momentum growing among countries and business to put a price on carbon pollution as a means of bringing down emissions and drive investment into cleaner options.
So what does it mean to put a price on carbon, and why do many government and business leaders support it?
There are several paths governments can take to price carbon, all leading to the same result. They begin to capture what are known as the external costs of carbon emissions '' costs that the public pays for in other ways, such as damage to crops and health care costs from heat waves and droughts or to property from flooding and sea level rise '' and tie them to their sources through a price on carbon.
A price on carbon helps shift the burden for the damage back to those who are responsible for it, and who can reduce it. Instead of dictating who should reduce emissions where and how, a carbon price gives an economic signal and polluters decide for themselves whether to discontinue their polluting activity, reduce emissions, or continue polluting and pay for it. In this way, the overall environmental goal is achieved in the most flexible and least-cost way to society. The carbon price also stimulates clean technology and market innovation, fuelling new, low-carbon drivers of economic growth.
There are two main types of carbon pricing: emissions trading systems (ETS) and carbon taxes.
An ETS '' sometimes referred to as a cap-and-trade system '' caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions and allows those industries with low emissions to sell their extra allowances to larger emitters. By creating supply and demand for emissions allowances, an ETS establishes a market price for greenhouse gas emissions. The cap helps ensure that the required emission reductions will take place to keep the emitters (in aggregate) within their pre-allocated carbon budget.
A carbon tax directly sets a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions or '' more commonly '' on the carbon content of fossil fuels. It is different from an ETS in that the emission reduction outcome of a carbon tax is not pre-defined but the carbon price is.
The choice of the instrument will depend on national and economic circumstances. There are also more indirect ways of more accurately pricing carbon, such as through fuel taxes, the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, and regulations that may incorporate a ''social cost of carbon.'' Greenhouse gas emissions can also be priced through payments for emission reductions. Private entities or sovereigns can purchase emission reductions to compensate for their own emissions (so-called offsets) or to support mitigation activities through results-based finance.
Some 40 countries and more than 20 cities, states and provinces already use carbon pricing mechanisms, with more planning to implement them in the future. Together the carbon pricing schemes now in place cover about half their emissions, which translates to about 13 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions.
Opinion | A Renowned Economist's New Idea for Stopping Climate Change - The New York Times
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:53
Robert Litterman is a legend on Wall Street. He earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Minnesota in 1980. In his 23 years at Goldman Sachs he oversaw quants, managed risk and developed, with the great applied mathematician Fischer Black, the Black-Litterman model for portfolio allocation. Now he's a founding partner and the risk manager at Kepos Capital, a New York-based investment company with $2 billion under management.
What excites him these days is a financial instrument he's conceived that he thinks could help stop climate change. He calls it a carbon-linked bond. At this point, it's just an idea. He unveiled it at a conference of the Fixed Income Analysts Society in New York on April 20, but Litterman told me this is only the second time it's been written about in the press, after a piece last month in a London-based publication, GlobalCapital.
The problem Litterman is trying to solve is that many private investors are unwilling to invest heavily in climate solutions because they lack confidence that there will be a payoff. The government could promise that fossil fuels and other carbon sources will be very expensive in the future, making carbon-displacing technologies a safe bet. But governments are notorious for saying one thing and then doing another. They can't be trusted.
There's a term for the problem Litterman is wrestling with: time inconsistency. The economists Finn Kydland and Edward Prescott won a Nobel in economic science for their exploration of it. In the case of climate change, investors understandably worry that the government will back away from its commitment to a high carbon price if there's a substantial political backlash. It will, they fear, behave inconsistently over time.
Enter the carbon-linked bond. The yield on the bond '-- i.e., how much interest it pays '-- is linked to the actual government-imposed price of carbon at any given time. ''The government would announce a target carbon price, and if the government fails to hit that target, it will have to pay the bondholder more, so it has an incentive to keep its promises,'' Litterman wrote in an explainer.
The beauty of the concept is that it turns an empty promise into one that would be costly for the government to break. The government would essentially be tying its own hands. If the government didn't meet its carbon-price target, and didn't compensate bondholders by paying them more as a result, it would be in default. As we know from the recent brush with default over the debt ceiling, that is something the government does not want to do.
In his explainer, Litterman acknowledged that ''some opponents of carbon bonds might argue that greedy investors will just take advantage of this and buy bonds hoping that the government fails to meet its target.''
''But that's fine,'' he wrote. ''That's the way markets work. Some may profit by betting against the government, but in doing so they will also be forcing the government to live up to its promises.''
I'm not sure the public would be as casually accepting of speculators getting rich as Litterman is. But I do like the idea of a mechanism for pushing the government to do the right thing.
I asked Litterman last week to tell me where the idea for carbon-linked bonds came from. ''I guess it was my idea,'' he said. ''It seems obvious to me, as a financial engineer.'' He said carbon-linked bonds could provide visibility about the expected future prices of carbon in the same way that inflation-linked bonds are providing visibility about the expected future rates of inflation. (The World Bank this year issued what's been occasionally described as a carbon-linked bond, but it's the same in name only.)
Kepos Capital, Litterman's company, has teamed up with another company, Gro Intelligence, on a ''carbon barometer'' that measures governments' incentives for reducing carbon emissions. It includes carbon taxes, fossil fuel taxes, emissions trading systems and price premiums for renewable energy supplied to the electrical grid. Kepos Capital and Gro Intelligence would calculate a government's current carbon price based on the size of its various incentives (or disincentives, such as subsidies of gasoline). Litterman emailed me that ''Gro and Kepos have an agreement to share any licensing revenues, but we don't expect it to be particularly profitable,'' and added, ''That was certainly not the motivation for its creation.''
In economic terms, the people who consume carbon '-- say, by burning gasoline '-- aren't bearing the full cost of the harm they do to the planet. That's a negative externality. ''The capitalist system does not work if you don't price the externalities,'' Litterman said. Hence a government-set price for carbon emissions.
In finance terms, what Litterman wants to create is a forward curve for the price of carbon. It would be based on data from the trading of carbon-linked bonds showing how much the market expects carbon to cost at each point in time over the next several decades. The points in time form a curve, presumably a rising one.
''The reaction has been, 'Has anyone done this? Is this just an idea?' The answer of course is, yes, it's just an idea,'' Litterman said. But he said he's confident it can work because he's seen how it has worked for inflation-linked bonds, also known as TIPS, for Treasury inflation-protected securities.
In a follow-up email, Litterman acknowledged that the extra interest payments the government would owe if it didn't meet its carbon-price target wouldn't be big enough by themselves to induce the government to raise the carbon price. But he said raising the carbon price through taxation has other political pluses. It would raise money, which the government could use in popular ways, such as cutting other taxes, paying down debt or spending on popular programs.
''This does leverage the short horizon bias of political parties,'' Litterman wrote.
Outlook: Jerome PowellThe Federal Reserve's next increase in interest rates may well be the last for this business cycle. The Fed chair, Jerome Powell, who heads the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, made identical statements to House and Senate committees last week, mentioning a ''weak'' housing sector, saying higher rates were weighing on business fixed investment and observing that ''there are some signs that supply and demand in the labor market are coming into better balance.'' David Rosenberg of Rosenberg Research, who has been urging the Fed to stop raising rates, headlined his comment on Powell's remarks, ''Powell Actually Sounded a Tad Dovish at Yesterday's Testimony!''
Quote of the Day''The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought.''
'-- Rudiger Dornbusch, interview on the PBS show ''Frontline,'' April 8, 1997
Climate Explainer: Green Bonds
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:51
International Finance Corporation (IFC) '' the World Bank Group's institution focused on the private sector '' has played a key role in launching and building the world's green bond market, moving from operating as an issuer of green bonds to also being an investor. To learn more about IFC green bonds, we sat down with Denise Odaro, IFC Head of Investor Relations.
What are green bonds, and why are they important?
Over the last 14 years, green bonds have become an important tool to address the impacts of climate change and related challenges. Clean water and food security are at risk in the world today and about 1 million of the world's 8 million animal and plant species face extinction. Climate change threatens communities and economies, and it poses risks for agriculture, food, and water supplies. A lot of financing is needed to address these challenges. It's critical to connect environmental projects with capital markets and investors and channel capital towards sustainable development '' and green bonds are a way to make that connection.
What inspired green bonds?
Let me give you a brief history. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change'--a United Nations agency that provides scientific data on climate change and its political and economic impacts'--published a report that linked human action to global warming. In late 2007, a group of Swedish pension funds sought to invest in projects that help the climate. Less than a year later, in November 2008, the World Bank became the first institution to issue a green bond, raising funds from fixed-income investors to support lending for eligible climate-focused projects.
Then, in 2013, IFC issued the market's first global U.S. dollar benchmark-sized green bonds, with two $1 billion issuances in that year; this set a precedent as the largest green bonds at the time of issuance and helped to solidify the market.
How have green bonds grown?
We have been witnessing changing attitudes toward sustainable investing for a number of reasons. Investors have increasingly become aware of the risks of climate change to their portfolios and, through mechanisms such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), they are also beginning to report on such risks. Additionally, stakeholders are pressuring the investment community to employ heighted environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies. Green bonds address some of these changes to the new landscape. They offer investors a platform to engage in good practices, influencing the business strategy of bond issuers. They provide a means to hedge against climate change risks while achieving at least similar, if not better, returns on their investment. In this way, the growth in green bonds and green finance also indirectly works to disincentivize high carbon-emitting projects. Green bonds enjoyed a 49% growth rate in the five years before 2021, according to Climate Bonds, whose analysis suggests the green bond market annual issuance could exceed the $1 trillion mark by 2023. The success of green bonds has inspired the creation of other labelled bonds, such as social bonds.
"The growth of green bonds in the capital markets has been explosive and is increasingly attracting attention from investors."
How does IFC participate in the green bond market?
IFC's overall funding program amounts to as much as $14 billion a year and finances loan investments in projects and companies in emerging markets '' all of which must all adhere to stringent ESG standards and our Sustainability Framework. A subset of this funding is issued through green bonds and social bonds that finance select eligible projects from our climate business portfolio and projects that aim to alleviate social issues. Both products offer vast opportunities to channel significant amounts of capital towards sustainable development. IFC's Green Bond Program combines an attractive investment proposition with an opportunity to support climate-related projects in developing and emerging economies. A consistent triple-A credit rating based on excellent financial performance has assisted in building significant and distinct name recognition in the marketplace for IFC. Since first being rated in 1989, IFC has been rated triple-A every year by Standard and Poor's and by Moody's. Our high credit rating is essential for maintaining our ability to access markets globally and to maintain our low cost of funding. We issue green bonds in several currencies, enabling investors to diversify their investments while helping to improve the visibility of domestic markets to global green bond investors. In addition to our own green bond issuance activities, IFC is an investor and provider of advisory services, technical assistance, and risk mitigation instruments to our clients in emerging markets.
Does IFC help others to issue green bonds?
IFC plays an important role as anchor investor in green bonds issued by first-time issuers, preparing them for future and repeat issuances. For example, in August 2021, IFC invested $100 million in Egypt's first private sector green bond to help unlock finance for climate-smart projects and support the country's transition to a greener economy. The bond was issued by Egypt's Commercial International Bank, which will use the proceeds to increase lending to businesses that want to invest in eco-friendly initiatives, including green buildings, renewable energy, and energy efficiency'--sectors which are still nascent in Egypt. In Romania, IFC supported the first green bond to be issued in the country by a financial institution, Raiffeisen Bank S.A. (RBRO). Additionally, IFC launched the Amundi Planet EGO Fund'--the world's largest green bond fund in emerging markets that invests in emerging market green bonds issued by financial institutions. Through the Green Bond Technical Assistance Program (GB-TAP) we provide trainings and resources to expand the capacity of such financial institutions to issue green bonds. The Real Economy Green Investment Opportunity Fund was launched with HSBC Global Asset Management to finance issuances from non-financial companies, an important new class of borrowers to the green bond market. Together, these funds have raised over $2.5 billion for investments in financial institutions and the real sector.
How does IFC ensure proceeds from green bonds go to green projects?
IFC selects projects for green bond financing from its climate-related loan portfolio and reports annually on the IFC Green Bond Program's impact. As of June 30, 2021, green bond proceeds have supported 236 green bond-eligible projects since 2014, with financing commitments totaling $9.4 billion. Since 2015, IFC has published its annual Green Bond Impact Report based on the International Financial Institutions (IFI) Harmonized Framework Template for Impact Reporting. IFC is also a founding member of the International Capital Market Association whose Green Bond Principles encourage transparency, disclosure, and integrity in the development of the green bond market. ICMA set voluntary guidelines framing the issuance of green bonds and recognized several broad categories of potential eligible projects including but not limited to:
Renewable energyEnergy efficiency (including energy-efficient buildings)Sustainable waste managementSustainable land use (including sustainable forestry and agriculture)Biodiversity conservationClean transportationSustainable water management (including clean and/or drinking water)Climate change adaptationLearn more about IFC's green bonds process.
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How can Africa get a fair price for its carbon credits?
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:39
The world market for carbon credits is growing rapidly '' the year 2021 alone saw a 50% increase in real demand, with the value of the voluntary market estimated at anywhere between $40-$100bn by 2030.
With its vast natural resources this presents a huge opportunity for Africa. But at present it is estimated that the continent only generates around 2% of its annual potential for carbon credits.
The Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) is an organisation aimed at amplifying Africa's place in the global carbon markets.
ACMI, led by Sherif Ayoub, is a collaborative effort supported by Sustainable Energy for All, the United Nations (UN), the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GF), and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Carbon markets allow governments and companies to buy and sell carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions. There are compliance markets, where companies are required by law to buy carbon credits to set off their emissions, such as the European Union's Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) permitted under Article 6 of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.
ACMI aims to create, amplify, and sustain Africa's participation in the VCMs, with the future possibility of entering compliance markets.
Watch our video explainer on carbon credits.ACMI focuses on providing comprehensive support to stakeholders throughout the carbon credit value chain, including credit generation, trading, and sales. ACMI has identified three key areas of focus: demand side, supply side, and intermediation. The initiative aims to retire 300 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) by 2030, mobilise $6bn in capital, and create 30m jobs. Looking ahead to 2050, ACMI aims to retire 1.5 to 2.5 gigatons of CO2e, mobilise $120-$200bn in capital, and create 110-190m jobs.
These targets serve as guiding principles to ensure Africa's sustainable and inclusive growth through carbon market participation. On the supply side ACMI works with project developers across various sectors, such as clean cooking, blue carbon, peatlands, smallholder farmers, and mangroves, to enhance their capacity in generating carbon credits. The initiative focuses on curriculum development, engagement with accelerator platforms, and access to finance to overcome challenges faced by project developers.
Additionally, ACMI addresses regulatory aspects related to land rights, taxation, and infrastructure development, aiming to create an enabling environment for carbon market growth. On the demand side ACMI recognises the increasing demand for carbon credits in the VCMs.
The initiative encourages international buyers to consider African carbon credits, highlighting the co-benefits associated with projects on the continent. For instance, clean cooking projects in Rwanda save lives and improve health, while diesel displacement projects enhance rural farmers' economic and health conditions.
ACMI has already secured commitments from companies like Standard Chartered, RY, TPG, and Nandos, and aims to attract more global buyers in the future.
Intermediation plays a crucial role in facilitating the efficient exchange of carbon credits between project developers and buyers. ACMI explores various platforms, both local and global, to ensure seamless trading of carbon credits generated in Africa. The initiative acknowledges the price disparity between African and European carbon credits and advocates for fair pricing to ensure justice and equity in the global carbon market.
ACMI also seeks to reduce transaction costs for project developers, enhancing their share of the benefits. While ACMI focuses on the voluntary and Article 6 markets, it remains cautious about entering the compliance markets, as it could potentially disrupt economic growth in Africa. However, the initiative aims to engage global bodies to consider opening compliance markets to African credits, providing a transformative opportunity for micro and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa.
ACMI also emphasises the need to address challenges related to transaction fees, verification processes, and access to regulatory frameworks to create a more favourable environment for African carbon market development.
ACMI strives to advance Africa's participation in carbon markets, focusing on the voluntary markets. By creating an enabling environment, supporting project developers, attracting global buyers, and advocating for fair pricing, ACMI aims to unlock Africa's immense potential in carbon credit generation. As the initiative progresses, it will continue to work towards sustainable and inclusive growth, promoting the co-benefits.
How can ACMI help set a fair carbon price for Africa?Dr Sherif Ayoub, lead on ACMI at SEforALL, explains the problems facing Africa when it comes to getting a fair price for its carbon credits and what ACMI is doing to help redress the situation.
If you take two carbon credits, one generated out of Iceland or Norway, or any other Global North country and one generated in Africa, assuming that they're both at the same level in terms of integrity, there is no particular reason why the European carbon credit or Japanese carbon credit sells for $109, $110, and the African one for $9, $8, sometimes even less.
That price disparity is a cause of concern for us. It's something that we're becoming more vocal about in terms of speaking to the global bodies, whether it's within Europe or in Japan or other countries as well. This is something that we hope that we can get much faster traction on, for the sake of justice and equity '' we're not trying to sell a free lunch with African credits.
Part of the reason why the European ones sell for $109, $110 is the ETS scheme [see above]. The countries who are over-emitting need to be able to, by law or by regulation, issue carbon credits within that space. Part of this conversation here is as part of the support of the Global North to Africa to open up the compliance markets in Europe to African credits.
And I think that channelling some of these resources from the compliance markets in the Global North to, in this case, Africa, can have a transformative effect.
When I talk to some policy-makers the view is perhaps there could be an ''inundation'' of African credits within the compliance markets in Europe. I just don't think the data supports that. I think the compliance markets in Europe, what we're talking about here is $700bn plus per annum and the ones in Africa are actually quite low in comparison.
What will help, though, is that it will give the ability to the micro and SMEs, particularly in Africa, to benefit from the compliance markets that exist and from the carbon market space in Europe. So that's close to our heart.
Another thing that I want to mention as well is that you have the African project developer who is, you know, selling the credits for $7, $9, $10, $11, $12, whatever it is around that range.
But they tend to pay anywhere from a third to two-thirds of that as transaction costs. What are these? These are the market process, which is the measurement, reporting and verification. A lot of times you would have to have an auditor because there's not a lot of auditors and accredited agencies within Africa, which is something I see for all we're trying to, to help with as well at ACMI. You'll have to have somebody fly in from Europe or India to be able to audit the generation of credits.
These auditors, these flight tickets are not cheap, particularly for a micro project developer. And then obviously the fee that does have to pay for a various standards. And, and then the auditing process itself. So I think this is something that we want to examine as well.
So if you're, if we're saying that an African project developer. Is selling it for far less than a global price, they are paying anywhere between a third and two thirds in transaction fees. What ends up coming to the project developer in the communities that they support quite often is, is extremely meagre.
And this is, we shouldn't be surprised when we take a look at the numbers in Africa for generating carbon credits, just because the economics sometimes don't support it. And we have to take our hats off to the ones who've persevered through the process, and actually generate carbon credits in this particular environment.
So these are two areas that we need to take a look at. Transaction fees, to reduce those as much as possible by using whatever digital tools that we can have and automation. But then also to re-examine the access to compliance markets in the Global North.
This article is an abridged version of ''Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets in Africa through fair price discovery with Dr Sherif Ayoub'', which appeared in IC Intelligence Insight 09: Climate & Nature Redux. Click to view more articles from the report.
African Climate Summit issues unanimous call for world leaders to support global tax on fossil fuels - ABC News
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:34
NAIROBI, Kenya -- The first African Climate Summit ended with a call Wednesday for world leaders to rally behind a global carbon tax on fossil fuels, aviation and maritime transport, and it seeks reform of the world financial system that forces African nations to pay more to borrow money.
The declaration backed by the leaders of the continent of 1.3 billion people '-- a population set to double by 2050 '-- calls on the world's biggest emitters of planet-warming greenhouse gases and its richest countries to keep their promises. It notes especially the unfulfilled pledge of $100 billion annually to developing nations in climate finance, made 14 years ago.
''No country should ever have to choose between development aspirations and climate action,'' the declaration says.
Adopted unanimously, the statement also calls for Africa's vast mineral wealth to be processed on the continent, noting that ''decarbonizing the global economy is also an opportunity to contribute to equality and shared prosperity.''
Kenyan President William Ruto, a host of the summit, said $23 billion in commitments had been made at the event.
The summit has sought to reframe the African continent, which has enormous amounts of clean energy minerals and renewable energy sources, as less of a victim of climate change driven by the world's biggest economies and more of the solution.
But investment in the continent in exchange for the ability to keep polluting elsewhere has angered some in Africa who prefer to see China, the United States, India, the European Union and others rein in their emissions of greenhouse gases.
Those carbon markets are ''bogus solutions,'' a Nigerian environmental advocate told the summit, providing a sharp reminder that not Africans support richer countries using the continent's green spaces to offset continued polluting at home.
''We reject forced solutions on our land,'' Priscilla Achakpa, founder of the Women Environmental Programme, told summit participants on the event's final day. She urged the so-called ''Global North'' to ''remove yourself from the perspective of the colonial past.''
The summit is part of Africa's preparation for the next United Nations climate change conference, which is scheduled to take place in Dubai in December.
The summit has largely featured leaders in government, business and civil society, many of them veterans of other climate gatherings.
''Heading from event to event doesn't leave us with a lot of constructive thinking time'' to bridge the gaps that still divide communities on the best ways to reduce emissions, Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said.
Carbon markets, in which polluters effectively offset emissions by investing in tree-planting or conservation initiatives, are cheaper to purchase in Africa than in many other parts of the world where schemes are more strictly regulated. African nations seek a better price to help achieve their own emission-reduction targets.
In Africa's market, the continent earns less than $10 per ton of carbon. Other regions can receive over $100 for the same amount. In carbon trading, one credit issued equals 1 ton of carbon dioxide or another greenhouse gas equivalent removed from the atmosphere.
The voluntary carbon market, which remains dominant in Africa, has been plagued by integrity and transparency concerns. Environmental groups are concerned it is a free pass to keep polluting.
Follow AP's coverage of climate issues and the environment at
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Africa Carbon Markets Initiative launched to dramatically expand Africa's participation in voluntary carbon market - Climate Champions
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:29
By Climate Champions | November 8, 2022The new Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI), which was inaugurated today at CO27, aims to support the growth of carbon credit production and create jobs in Africa. As part of the launch today at COP 27, the following announcements were made:
ACMI's ambition is for the growth of African voluntary carbon markets to:
Produce 300 million carbon credits annually by 2030, and 1.5 billion credits annually by 2050.Unlock 6 billion in revenue by 2030 and over 120 billion by 2050.Support 30 million jobs by 2030 and over 110 million jobs by 2050.Distribute revenue equitably and transparently with local communities.The release of ''Africa Carbon Markets Initiative, Roadmap report: Harnessing carbon markets for Africa'' an ACMI report which identifies 13 action programs to support the growth of voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) across Africa.Multiple African nations including Kenya, Malawi, Gabon, Nigeria and Togo joined the ACMI launch event to announce their commitment to scaling voluntary carbon marketsMajor carbon credit buyers and financiers, such as Exchange Trading Group, Nando's, and Standard Chartered announced plans to set up an advance market commitment (AMC) of hundreds of millions of dollars for high-integrity African carbon credits.Ivan Duque, former President of Colombia, and David Antonioli, CEO of Verra, announced the creation of a new consortium, the Nature Framework Development Group, which aims to develop a market leading nature/biodiversity credit.Carbon markets offer an incredible opportunity to unlock billions for the climate finance needs of African economies while expanding energy access, creating jobs, protecting biodiversity, and driving climate action. However, Africa currently produces only a tiny percentage of its carbon credit potential.
Led by a thirteen-member steering committee of African leaders, CEOs, and carbon credit experts, the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) was launched today with the aim of dramatically expanding Africa's participation in voluntary carbon markets. The initiative was inaugurated at COP 27 in collaboration with The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, with the support of the UN Climate Change High Level Champions '' Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin and Nigel Topping.
ACMI announced a bold ambition for the continent'--to reach 300 million credits produced annually by 2030. This level of production would unlock 6 billion in income and support 30 million jobs. By 2050, ACMI is targeting over 1.5 billion credits produced annually in Africa, leveraging over $120 billion and supporting over 110 million jobs. Commenting on ACMI's ambition, Damilola Ogunbiyi, the CEO of SEforALL and a member of the ACMI's steering committee, said, ''The current scale of financing available for Africa's energy transition is nowhere close to what is required. Achieving the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative targets will provide much-needed financing that will be transformative for the continent.''
Crucially, ACMI is committed to supporting high-integrity credits where an equitable and transparent distribution of revenue goes to communities. ACMI steering committee member and USAID Chief Climate Officer Gillian Caldwell noted, ''The African voluntary carbon market will only succeed if people trust that African credits are driving real climate action and having a positive human impact. As the VCM scales in Africa, USAID and ACMI will ensure that it does so with integrity as a core pillar.'' To stimulate the production of high-integrity credits, the ACMI is collaborating with global integrity initiatives like the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (IC-VCM) and the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI), as well as other regional carbon market platforms.
ACMI released Africa Carbon Markets Initiative, Roadmap report: Harnessing carbon markets for Africa at the initiative's COP 27 launch event. The report identifies 13 action programs to support the growth of voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) on the continent. Although voluntary carbon markets are already growing quickly'--retirements of African credits have grown by an average of 36% annually over the past five years'--aggressive action will be required to maintain this level of growth over the coming decades.
Multiple African nations including Kenya, Malawi, Gabon, Nigeria and Togo shared their commitment to collaborating with ACMI to scale carbon credit production via voluntary carbon market activation plans. Together, these 7 countries have a maximum potential to generate ~300+ MtCO2e. Even capturing 25% of this potential, ~75 MtCO2e would be double the total credits issued across the entire continent in 2021. Commenting on the announcement, Vice President of Nigeria and ACMI steering committee member H.E Yemi Osinbajo said, ''Carbon markets can deliver tremendous benefits for Nigeria and for Africa'--creating jobs, driving green investment, and reducing emissions. Nigeria is putting the groundwork in place today so that in subsequent years, carbon credits become a major industry that will benefit our people.''
ACMI is also working with major carbon credit buyers and financiers, such as Exchange Trading Group, Nando's, and Standard Chartered, to set up an advance market commitment for hundreds of millions of dollars for high-integrity African carbon credits. For example, mobilizing $500 million, at an average price of $10 per carbon credit, could support the development and delivery of at least 50 MtCO2e, which is equivalent to the total credits retired from Africa from 2010 through 2020. Following the lead of other ACMs in the space, ACMI intends to send a strong demand signal for carbon credits across all project types '' especially those where Africa has untapped potential. These include nature-based solutions, renewable energy projects, cookstoves, and more.
The initiative intends to promote demand for existing credits, or those already in development, as well as for products and innovative project types that don't yet have a market and can substantively contribute to economic prosperity, livelihoods, and environmental preservation across the continent (e.g., diesel decommissioning or biodiversity credits).
Ivan Duque, former President of Colombia, and David Antonioli, CEO of Verra, announced the creation of a new consortium, the Nature Framework Development Group. This partnership across Conservation International, Verra, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Conservation Finance Alliance, The Biodiversity Consultancy, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and Blue Nature Alliance with support from McKinsey & Company, aims to develop a market leading nature/biodiversity credit. President Duque, who made the announcement as a member of ACMI's steering committee commented, ''by creating nature/biodiversity credits, the consortium aims to unlock new flows of financing for the protection of biodiversity and critical ecosystems.'' Bogolo Kenewendo, Africa Director for the UN Climate Change High Level Champions noted the importance of adequately valuing both carbon and other nature benefits, ''To maximize the value of Africa's ecosystems, it is essential that there is a fair price for carbon credits, as well as the ability to be paid for the additional nature benefits beyond carbon, such biodiversity and water.''
ACMI aims to encourage conversation, coordination, and action towards the development of African voluntary carbon markets. Steering committee member and Vice President, Africa at the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet Joseph Nganga called for everyone to contribute to this important effort: ''Sustaining the rapid growth of African carbon markets isn't going to happen accidently, it's going to require action by governments, developers, and buyers. Together, we can unlock billions for climate finance and economic development in Africa.''
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Weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy also protect your heart | Ars Technica
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:10
Enlarge / An injection pen at the Novo Nordisk A/S production facilities in Hillerod, Denmark, on Monday, June 12, 2023.:
Carsten Snejbjerg/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The benefits of the drug semaglutide, sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, seem to go beyond controlling diabetes and helping people shed pounds. New research shows that the drug also has cardiovascular benefits and may lead to a better quality of life for people with heart problems who are also overweight.
In a trial of more than 500 patients with obesity and heart failure in 13 countries, those who got a weekly injection of semaglutide over the course of a year reduced symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling. They also had notable improvements in their physical abilities and exercise function. The findings were published in late August in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Heart failure is a condition in which the organ struggles to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, because it is either too weak or not elastic enough. The patients in this study had a common type of heart failure in which the heart pumps normally but is too stiff to fill properly.
The prevalence of this medical condition has been rapidly rising, says Mikhail Kosiborod, a cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City and lead investigator of the trial. ''In addition to increasing the risk of death and hospitalization, it's a real burden on patients in terms of debilitating symptoms,'' he says. People get tired easily and often have trouble doing everyday activities, such as taking a shower, getting dressed, going to the supermarket, and walking.
Advertisement Kosiborod says there's growing evidence that obesity is not just coincidental in these patients, but may be the root cause of their heart failure. So researchers turned to semaglutide to see if the drug could alleviate the symptoms by targeting their weight. ''What we observed was quite remarkable,'' Kosiborod says.
On a 100-point scale commonly used to assess symptoms and quality of life for patients with heart failure, trial subjects taking semaglutide had a nearly 17-point improvement compared to a placebo group, which had an almost 9-point improvement. Patients taking semaglutide lost an average of 13.3 percent of their body weight, compared to a 2.6 percent reduction in the placebo group. They were also able to walk 20 meters (65 feet) farther in a six-minute test used to assess endurance and had fewer hospitalizations and emergency visits during the year-long study period.
Obesity may lead to heart failure in a few different ways. Too much weight gain can cause inflammation, including in the heart. That inflammation can make the heart stiffer and increase the risk of failure. Greater body weight also means more blood volume, which can increase the pressure inside the heart and cause congestion. High blood pressure can also cause the heart muscle to thicken, which can lead to the heart being too stiff to pump enough blood to the body.
Kosiborod says weight loss explains some of the benefits of semaglutide for patients with heart failure, but not all. He says it's likely that semaglutide is working in other ways that researchers don't yet fully understand.
See the 1960 Electoral College certificates that the false Trump electors say justify their gambit - POLITICO
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 15:02
Nixon's Hawaii electors met and cast their three votes in an official ceremony. But nearby, Kennedy's three elector nominees gathered and signed their own certificates, delivering them to Washington as though Kennedy had won the state.
The Hawaii episode has become an important flashpoint as prosecutors scrutinize whether the pro-Trump electors broke any laws. Justice Department leaders say the matter is under investigation, and several Democratic secretaries of state and attorneys general have similarly raised the specter of crimes like mail or election fraud. The Jan. 6 select committee is probing the false electors for evidence of coordination with the Trump campaign or White House.
While Republicans have used the incident to justify the actions of Trump's illegitimate electors for the past year, POLITICO has newly obtained records that shed light on those claims.
The Hawaii documents Until now, it's been unclear whether the 1960 case of the Kennedy electors was truly analogous to 2020 Trump electors. But the unofficial Democratic certificates, obtained by POLITICO from the non-digitized files of the National Archives, show the three Kennedy electors signed documents that are remarkably similar to the false Trump-elector certificates.
The certificates describe the three Democrats as the ''duly and legally appointed and qualified'' members of the Electoral College. The envelope containing the certificates, stamped Dec. 22, 1960, includes another avowal: ''We hereby certify that the lists of all the votes of the state of Hawaii given for president '... are contained herein.'' The documents do not mention the ongoing recount or that Nixon's Hawaii victory had been certified.
Instead, the Hawaii Democrats used virtually the same language that the false Trump electors in five states used in their effort to upend the 2020 race. In those documents '-- from Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia '-- the pro-Turmp activists described themselves as ''duly elected and qualified.'' In two other states, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, Trump allies submitted alternative elector slates but included a caveat: their votes would only be counted if ongoing court battles broke in favor of Trump.
Charlie Gerow, a veteran Pennsylvania Republican strategist who signed one of the pro-Trump elector certificates, said he and several other electors who were lawyers devised the strategy to include a caveat.
''We put in the contingent language quite bluntly because I and several others in the room who were lawyers insisted upon it,'' said Gerow, who is currently running for governor. ''We inserted that language specifically to avoid some of the charges that are coming from the left.''
Gerow said the Trump allies met at the offices of his firm, Quantum Communications, to sign the Pennsylvania certificates. At that time, several of Trump's long shot court challenges were still pending, he noted, and the Trump electors in those states wanted to be ready in the off-chance a court handed Trump a win.
Why Hawaii 1960 isn't the same as Trump 2020 Although the three Democratic electors in Hawaii took the same action '-- signing false certificates '-- it does not appear they ever faced similar scrutiny, in part because of what happened next. Namely, that Hawaii's recount ultimately did reverse the state's election outcome.
Kennedy prevailed by an eyelash when the recount concluded on Dec. 28, 1960. A new governor certified the Kennedy victory and transmitted a new slate of Electoral College certificates '-- signed by the same three Democrats who falsely claimed to have won two weeks earlier.
When Nixon, like Mike Pence, presided over the Electoral College counting session on Jan. 6, 1961, he acknowledged receiving all three sets of certificates: the GOP slate, the uncertified Democratic slate and the certified Democratic slate.
He then agreed that the newest one '-- the Democrats certified by Gov. William Quinn '-- should be counted, even though they were certified weeks after the required meeting of the Electoral College. Nixon added a caveat of his own: His decision should not be seen as a precedent for the future.
That newest slate ''properly and legally portrays the facts with respect to the electors chosen by the people of Hawaii,'' Nixon said.
One crucial feature of the 1960 episode is that a state court weighed in Dec. 30, 1960, a week before Nixon oversaw the electoral vote count.
In that case brought by a group of Hawaii voters, Judge Ronald Jamieson agreed that the certified Kennedy electors were legitimate. His judgment was then affirmed by the state's sitting governor, who certified the Democratic slate and transmitted it to Congress. Jamieson also reportedly threw out an effort by the GOP electors to scrap the entire election because of fraud allegations.
The ruling wasn't appealed and holds no binding weight, but it's the only legal precedent for dueling Electoral College slates since the Electoral Count Act passed in 1887.
Notably, Jamieson made no reference to the slate of would-be Democratic electors who cast ballots and signed certificates just weeks earlier, and it's not clear the existence of that slate made a difference to the outcome. Nixon's passing reference to their certificates reflects that they were received by Congress, but Nixon's decision to obtain unanimous consent to adopt the late-arriving certified slate meant Congress never passed judgment on the legitimacy of the unofficial slate.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated that Jamieson acknowledged the unofficial slate of Democratic electors when he ruled that Kennedy had prevailed in the recount. He made no mention of the ''contingent'' slate in his ruling or judgment. The story also gave the incorrect date of Jamieson's ruling. It was Dec. 30, 1960.
Bill Gates Just Bought A Whopping 1.7 Million Shares Of Anheuser-Busch: REPORT | The Daily Caller
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 14:25
If you needed another reason to hate Bud Light, here you go.
Bill Gates is putting some serious chips on the beer making a comeback after he bought a whopping 1.7 million shares of the anti-American brand's umbrella company.
The 67-year-old Microsoft founder purchased the Anheuser-Busch shares through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust during 2023's second quarter.
Gates' newly-acquired shares have a market value of approximately $95 million, according to TipRanks.
The billionaire's investment comes as A-B is still dealing with the pain from its disastrous partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Now there's even more reason not to drink Bud Light! Bill Gates bets on Bud Light's comeback as tech mogul buys 1.7MILLLION shares of disgraced brand's parent company after Dylan Mulvaney partnership tanked value
'-- 🇺🇲Salty Texan (@texan_maga) September 5, 2023
Okay '... definitely not drinking Bud Light ever again now (not that I was planning on it).
If you're Anheuser-Busch, you've got to be hating this despite the amount of money that you're getting. The Bill Gates name has always been a little toxic, but that really ratcheted up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I mean, seriously, would you want your company attached to some weird ish like this?
Then you have the whole strange connection to Jeffrey Epstein, that he acted completely bizarre about on PBS when asked of his meetings with him.
If you're wanting to see an outright collapse of Bud Light like yours truly, you gotta be loving this, because this doesn't do anything but inject more poison into a brand that's crumbling more and more with each passing day.
Bill Gates though? The pink sweater guy? HA! (RELATED: 'No One Is Drinking That Anymore': Bud Light's New NFL Commercial Embarrassingly Backfires As Fans Roast Beer Company)
This is worse than Dylan Mulvaney from where I'm sitting.
Interest on national debt on pace to eclipse entitlements, defense spending amid funding battles | Just The News
Wed, 06 Sep 2023 14:16
Sustained deficit spending by the U.S. government helped push the national debt up to a jaw dropping $31.38 trillion in 2023, according to U.S. Treasury data. Fiscal watchdogs are now predicting that the interest alone on that debt will soon eclipse both entitlements and defense spending as a major component of the annual budget.
At the same time that the national debt is at a record high, interest payments in mid-2022 stood at just under $600 billion, according to a report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB).
The report, which outlines the challenges that face the next administration, projects that such payments will exceed the combined costs of Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in late 2023, though it varies depending on interest rates.
Debt service is projected to exceed defense spending either later this year or in 2026, again contingent on interest rates. The CRFB report further pointed to the significant hike in interest rates under the Biden Administration. A 10-year Treasury note, which in 2021 came with just over a 1% interest rate. That figure now sits at 4.3%.
Mortgage rates, which are at an all-time high, have been predicted to remain high as well; Fannie Mae says that it doesn't expect rates to dip below 6% until the fourth quarter of 2024. Analysis from Rocket Mortgage says that during the Trump administration years "the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was about 3.7%."
The issues of rising debt and rising interest rates clash head-on with major spending packages spearheaded by the administration, including the 2021 American Rescue Plan and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which saw the government authorize $1.9 trillion and $740 billion in federal spending in addition to "ordinary" budget expenses.
Criticism of sustained deficit spending prompted House Republicans earlier this year to pressure the White House to make budgetary concessions in the Fiscal Responsibility Act that aimed to address the nation's runaway spending.
GOP budget hawks, however, were largely unsatisfied with the concessions House Speaker Kevin McCarthy managed to wrest from the administration and an upcoming showdown over budget resolutions threatens to shut down the government.
The Biden administration has largely depended on spending more and more on entitlements to bolster its support among demographics likely to vote Democratic.
Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday indicated that she would not support the administration's funding requests and would only support budget resolutions should the government meet her demands, which include an impeachment inquiry into Biden, the exclusion of COVID and Ukraine funding, and no funds to "weaponized" federal agencies.
"I will not vote to fund the government until we achieve an impeachment inquiry," she declared on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "But also I will not fund a weaponized government against President Trump, pro-life protesters, parents trying to hold their school boards accountable. I will not fund more COVID insanity, COVID vaccines, vaccine mandates, mask mandates all of these ruined American's lives and took away their freedoms."
"And I will not vote '' and this has always been my stance '' I will not vote to continue to slaughter people in Ukraine and to continue to fund the war in Ukraine," Green added. "This has to stop, we need a peace resolution between those two countries," she continued. "So those are my demands, not only for appropriations, but for any attempt if we have to get there for a short term [continuing resolution]."
In a separate interview on the program to be aired Wednesday, National Taxpayers Union Executive Vice President Brandon Arnold forecast a tense exchange over the funding disputes, but warned Republicans to formulate a winning strategy should they opt for a government shutdown, noting that Republicans had failed to secure concessions through such an approach before.
"I think it's time to get out the popcorn, and sit back and enjoy what's gonna be a wild few weeks," he said. "You know, MTG has her demands; there's 535 Members of Congress. And I think they are all approaching this with a similar manner. And that is, we're going to put our foot down and insist on getting our way. Otherwise, we're not going to vote for this package of spending bills."
"You know, the problem here is that we need to fund the government. And when we do shut down the government, we've done it several times in recent memory, conservatives almost always lose," Arnold continued. "We shut down the government for a few days, or sometimes a little bit longer, and then somebody gives in. There's a breaking point, and we end up spending more money... So we need to find a way to win here. And I think that starts with passing good conservative spending bills through the appropriations process in the House of Representatives."
Arnold went on to advocate for seeking compromise with moderate, budget-minded Democrats, and espoused support for exploring ways to save on defense spending, which ranks among the biggest budget items. Department of Defense data shows that it accounts for $2.04 trillion of the 2023 budget.
"There are some very reasonable Democrats out there that want to see leaner, more efficient government and I think we need to extend an olive branch and work with these individuals," Arnold opined. "Because heaven knows this problem was created in a bipartisan basis. Throughout the years, Republicans and Democrats have teamed up together to spend far too much money and eventually it's going to need to be solved in a bipartisan process..."
"We're going to need to get Democratic votes to get a solution here... I think there's a lot of Republicans that have kind of abandoned the neocon philosophy when it comes to foreign policy that are looking for ways to save money in the defense budget," he went on. "I think that's fantastic. We don't want to reduce our ability to launch those wars when we absolutely need to. But let's find some ways there... Let's reach out in a bipartisan manner. And let's try to get this federal budget under control."
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.
Emergency Alert System Will Be Tested on Your Phone and TV in October - CNET
Tue, 05 Sep 2023 21:48
Don't panic when you get an emergency message on your phones, TVs and radios next month. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission are partnering to test their nationwide alert systems together on Oct. 4.
The two agencies are testing Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA, on phones, as well as the the Emergency Alert System, or EAS, for TVs and radios. It's the seventh nationwide EAS test and the second test to all cellular devices in the US.
What to know about the emergency alert testAt approximately 2:20 p.m. ET/11:20 a.m. PT on Wednesday, Oct. 4, cell towers will begin broadcasting the emergency alert for 30 minutes. If your phone is in range of a cell tower, you'll get a message that says: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."
The emergency alerts will be in English or Spanish, depending on your phone's set language. The phone alerts will be "accompanied by a unique tone and vibration" to make them as accessible as possible.
The alert sent on TVs and radios will last for 1 minute and will state: "This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering the United States from 14:20 to 14:50 hours ET. This is only a test. No action is required by the public."
If a severe weather or other event occurs on Oct. 4, the test will be postponed until Oct. 11.
The Persistent Mysteries of Electroconvulsive Therapy
Tue, 05 Sep 2023 21:34
I n June 2015, Jeffrey Thelen's parents noticed their son was experiencing problems with his memory. In the subsequent years, he would get lost driving to his childhood home, forget his cat had died, and fail to recognize his brother and sister.
His parents wondered: Was electroconvulsive therapy to blame? Thelen had been regularly receiving the treatment to help with symptoms of severe depression, which he'd struggled with since high school. At 34 years old, he had tried medications, but hadn't had a therapy plan. His primary care physician referred him to get an evaluation for ECT, which was then prescribed by a psychiatrist.
Electroconvulsive therapy has been used to treat various mental illnesses since the late 1930s. The technique, which involves passing electrical currents through the brain to trigger a short seizure, has always had a somewhat torturous reputation. Yet it's still in use, in a modified form of its original version. According to one commonly cited statistic, 100,000 Americans receive ECT annually '-- most often to ease symptoms of severe depression or bipolar disorder '-- although exact demographic data is scarce.
For Thelen, the treatment appeared to relieve his depression symptoms somewhat, but he reported new headaches and concentration issues, in addition to the memory loss. Those claims are central to a lawsuit Thelen filed in 2020 against Somatics, LLC and Elektrika, Inc., manufacturers and suppliers of ECT devices, alleging that the companies failed to disclose '-- and even intentionally hid '-- risks associated with ECT, including ''brain damage and permanent neurocognitive injuries.''
Thelen's legal team told Undark that they have since reached a resolution with Elektrika on confidential terms. With regard to Somatics, in June a jury found that the company failed to warn about risks associated with ECT, but could not conclude that there was a legal causation between that and Thelen's memory loss. The following month, his lawyers filed a motion for a new trial. (In response to a request for comment, Conrad Swartz, one of Somatics' co-founders, directed Undark to the company's attorney, Sue Cole. Cole did not respond to multiple emails. Lawyers for Elektrika declined to comment.)
''The verdict here is significant in that a federal jury, a unanimous jury, decided that, yes, Somatics had failed to warn about risks that are known and that we were able to establish at trial,'' said Monique Alarcon, one of Thelen's lawyers.
According to one commonly cited statistic, 100,000 Americans receive ECT annually '-- most often to ease symptoms of severe depression or bipolar disorder.
Although experts agree that ECT can cause temporary memory loss, the scientific evidence as to whether those effects are permanent is far from settled: John Read, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London, was retained as an expert witness by Thelen's legal team. In his deposition, he testified that somewhere between 12 and 55 percent of ECT patients experience long-term memory loss, and that whatever positive effects exist are short-lived. Read's view, however, is not shared by all scientists.
While the public perception of ECT '-- colloquially known as ''shock therapy'' '-- has largely been negative, many experts in the field view ECT as a safe and effective tool to help people who are struggling and haven't found relief from other treatments. In addition to being used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, ECT is also used for schizophrenia, catatonia, and, more recently, self-injury in people with autism, among other conditions.
But even among proponents, there's little consensus as to what mechanism underlies ECT's therapeutic effect. And as electroconvulsive therapy is in its 85th year of use, definitive answers continue to elude scientists '-- and patients.
Some researchers say the treatment helps ease depression and other psychological symptoms by promoting the growth of new neurons and neurological pathways. Others have theorized that ECT could impact a patient's mood by triggering the release of certain hormones. And still others wonder if understanding how it works even matters.
Although experts agree that ECT can cause temporary memory loss, the scientific evidence as to whether those effects are permanent is far from settled.
''When I shut down this computer and I reboot it, I turn it back on and it works,'' said Michael Alan Taylor, a retired neuropsychiatrist who studied ECT for years. ''I know as much about the mechanism of that as I do about ECT. Which is zero.''
Still, understanding how ECT works could offer important clues about the nature of psychiatric illness, said Charles Kellner, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. ''The problem is that the brain is a very complicated organ, and ECT changes many things in the brain,'' he said. Teasing out which of those changes ease symptoms of depression, for example, will take years, he added: ''The good news is that once that is figured out, then we may be able to figure out what's causing psychiatric illness.''
T he idea that seizures might offer some therapeutic potential started to gain ground in the 1930s. Ladislas Meduna, a young neuropathologist from Budapest, had studied the brains of epileptic and schizophrenic patients under a microscope, and observed that epileptic brains featured too many glial cells '-- which are often referred to as the ''glue'' of the nervous system and are thought to help facilitate communication between neurons, among other critical functions. Those of schizophrenic patients, on the other hand, featured too few.
Seeing that stark difference led Meduna to theorize that glial cells could have something to do with mental health, and that a seizure might help ease schizophrenic symptoms, including catatonia. To test his theory, Meduna chemically induced a convulsion in a catatonic patient. Several sessions later, the treatment seemed to be a success. For the first time in four years, the patient ''got out of bed, began to talk, requested breakfast, dressed himself without any help, was interested in everything around him, and asked how long he had been in the hospital,'' wrote Meduna in an autobiography published posthumously. ''When we told him that he had spent four years, he did not believe it.''
Meanwhile, in Rome, Italian neurologist Ugo Cerletti had been researching epilepsy by electrically inducing seizures in dogs. He learned of Meduna's findings but speculated that electricity might be a safer way to induce a seizure compared to the chemical agents Meduna had used.
Cerletti, along with his assistant Lucino Bini and others, administered ECT for the first time in April 1938 to a patient with schizophrenia. After more than 10 sessions, the patient was discharged and Cerletti reported his symptoms resolved, though, according to his wife, they returned two years later.
A vintage electroconvulsive therapy device for psychiatric treatment. First administered in 1938, the technique triggers a short seizure in the brain. Today, it is most often used to treat severe depression and bipolar disorder. Visual: Philippe Clement/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The treatment wasn't for the fainthearted, even among its proponents. Max Fink, a neuropsychiatrist and fervent advocate of using convulsive therapies where appropriate, wrote in an unpublished autobiography about witnessing his first ECT treatment in 1952: ''As the currents were applied, the neck and back arched, the body became rigid, followed by rhythmic muscle movements and breath holding,'' he recalled. ''The patient became cyanotic with blue lips, movements stopped, the muscles relaxed, deep breathing followed, cyanosis waned, and color returned to the lips as the patient was moved to a recovery room.'' At first, the neuropsychiatrist was ''jarred'' by the sight of a grand mal seizure. In his training, he had been told repeatedly that convulsions were to be avoided as they could cause fractures and lethal injuries.
In spite of those potential side effects, ECT was seen as a gateway towards a prompt recovery at a time when the field hadn't yet invented key psychoactive drugs, such as SSRI antidepressants. But use of the treatment declined in the 1960s and '70s, when a growing anti-psychiatry movement, along with troubling depictions of the treatment in popular media, contributed to a negative public perception. The 1975 film ''One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'' is among the most infamous portrayals, depicting ECT as a violent punishment to subdue an unruly patient.
''There's no doubt that the stigma is what has kept it from wider use,'' said Harold Sackeim, a professor of psychiatry and radiology at Columbia University and the former chief of biological psychiatry at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Sackeim, a long-time researcher of ECT, is a proponent of the treatment. ''Most people say that it really did help them,'' he added. ''You can convince people, but it's a hard sell.''
Anti-ECT activists have been vocal about what they see as the negative side effects. Fink, who has researched the treatment for 70 years, vividly remembers a lecture he gave in the early 1990s: A woman who had previously undergone ECT accused him of failing to recognize the terrible side effects she said the treatment had on her memory and cognitive capacities. She then handed him a frying pan filled with an animal's brains on a bed of dollar bills.
Even among proponents, there's little consensus as to what mechanism underlies ECT's therapeutic effect.
Many of ECT's core principles remain unchanged from when it was first introduced. But the treatment has evolved to improve effectiveness, reduce side effects, and protect patient safety. For example, ECT was originally administered without anesthesia or muscle relaxants, which made vertebrae fractures more likely. Those drugs are now considered part of standard care. Research has also been conducted to determine optimal electrode placement. Positioning electrodes on just one side of the head, rather than both sides, is increasingly recommended for less severe cases.
A typical ECT patient today undergoes a total of six to 12 treatments over three to six weeks. But some patients require regular sessions for a longer period of time. Thelen, for example, had more than 90 ECT sessions over the course of two years, according to court documents. This rarely but increasingly practiced method is called ''maintenance'' ECT or ''continuation'' ECT.
In 2018, ECT devices were reclassified by the Food and Drug Administration, which allowed the treatment to be more accessible to adolescents suffering from catatonia and major depressive episodes. ECT practitioners increasingly adapt the treatment according to the patient's age, sex, electrode placement, or seizure threshold '-- the amount of electricity needed to trigger a seizure '-- so that the dose is as low as possible to reduce side effects '-- yet still effective.
George Kirov, a professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University in Wales, acknowledged that developments to reduce side effects have been a positive advance in the field.
A s researchers debate ECT's effectiveness '-- and patients wonder about side effects '-- the field still lacks consensus about the mechanism by which it works. There are several theories, in part because ECT has been found to elicit so many changes in the brain that it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly which are affecting behavior. Various studies have found it can change everything from how blood moves through the brain, to how genes related to brain function turn on and off, to how parts of the brain communicate.
''It is really a complex effect,'' said Maryna Polyakova, a postdoctoral researcher at Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany. ''This is the reason why we cannot explain it so easily.''
Still, scientists have tried. One leading theory proposes that ECT changes brain chemistry: Electrical signals trigger the release of certain neurotransmitters, chemicals that help brain cells communicate, such as dopamine and serotonin, which can then help stabilize mood. Other theories say that ECT may help foster the growth of new neurons '-- a process that scientists still debate '-- or can help create and maintain connections between neurons. Because those effects are difficult to observe in living patients, most studies are done on human brains post-mortem '-- as Meduna did in the early days of convulsive therapies '-- or on rodents.
''There's no doubt that the stigma is what has kept it from wider use,'' said Sackeim.
Another idea is the ''neuroendocrine hypothesis,'' which was first proposed in the 1980s by Fink and the late Jan-Otto Ottosson, a Swedish psychiatrist and historian of ECT. The duo looked at a circuit in the brain called the HPA, or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, axis, which helps govern the body's response to stress. For patients with depression and other severe mental illnesses, the HPA axis often doesn't function as it should. Fink and Ottosson theorized that ECT-induced seizures might improve mood by triggering the release of various hormones. Although it has lost some of its initial appeal, there are studies to support it.
But Kellner, who has collaborated with Fink, said that despite the evidence, many experts feel the neuroendocrine approach doesn't fully explain ECT's benefits. ''ECT does change neuroendocrine functions tremendously, and that's certainly a part of it. But that may be a downstream thing, rather than the main initial part of why ECT works,'' Kellner said. Changes to the HPA axis are ''certainly an integral and important part. Whether or not that's the big driver? I don't think anybody knows.''
Most researchers have long thought that ECT's therapeutic potential comes from the seizure itself, but others suggest what really matters is how the brain protects and repairs itself after the seizure.
Indeed, it became apparent that as patients received ECT, the amount of electrical current required to induce a seizure would increase over time, so Sackeim and his colleagues proposed what's known as the anticonvulsant theory '-- the idea that ECT gradually improves the brain's capacity to prevent seizures by inhibiting the region of the brain that is hyperactive in patients with depression. ''The only reason why we're triggering the seizure is to get the brain to stop it,'' said Sackeim.
In 1995, doctors prepare a female patient for a maintenance dose of electroconvulsive therapy. Though ECT was originally administered without anesthesia or muscle relaxants, those drugs are now considered part of standard care. Visual: Photo by Joe McNally/Getty Images
The researchers suggested this might have something to do with the transmission of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which is like the brake system of the brain and allows ''the brain to function at the right speed,'' said Dirk Dhossche, a former student of Fink and medical director of the child and adolescent unit at Inland Northwest Behavioral Health in Spokane, Washington.
A small 2008 study involved 25 patients with depression, all of whom had lower GABA levels at the start of the experiment compared to healthy patients. The depressed patients went through seven to 12 sessions of ECT. Three days after their last treatment, researchers found their GABA levels had increased significantly.
In recent years, the idea that ECT works by promoting the creation, maintenance, and growth of neurons '-- what's known as the neurotrophic hypothesis '-- and by helping boost neural connections '-- the neuroplasticity hypothesis '-- has begun to gain ground. ''There's a tremendous amount of neuroimaging research in the last five to 10 years that shows the neurotrophic hypothesis and neuroplasticity hypothesis are probably even more important than the neuroendocrine ones,'' Kellner added.
Some researchers have revisited Meduna's initial suggestion that the therapeutic effect of seizures had something to do with glial cells, the glue of the nervous system, which seem to play a role in mood disorders. But as Kellner, the professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, pointed out, scientists still don't have a complete understanding of exactly how glial cells operate.
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''We still don't know what glial cells do,'' said Kellner. With renewed interest in their function, he continued, ''people are beginning to go back to that very old theory about glial cells and say, you know, ECT probably releases important chemicals that support glial cells and enhance their function in some way. But it's certainly not understood at a fine level yet.''
''It's going to take another 10 years to figure that out,'' he added.
Still other researchers suggest that there is no single pathway by which ECT works '-- instead, it could be a combination of these different theories, perhaps with some pathways helping certain disorders more than others. ''ECT is actually such a big, big stress for the brain. It's short term, but it is a very big stress. So it's not surprising that all the mechanisms which were ongoing just before the shock would be stimulated,'' Polyakova said.
''And that's why,'' she continued, ''I don't think there is a single mechanism of action.''
I n Jeffrey Thelen's lawsuit against the ECT device manufacturers and suppliers, the central question is about long-term memory loss, and whether the companies should have done more to warn Thelen, and all ECT patients, of those risks. Thelen was informed by his doctors about losing memories immediately before and after the treatment. ''I was okay with that,'' he recalled in his deposition.
''Waiting in the waiting room,'' he continued, ''who cares if you forget that.'' But he was unaware that the effect could potentially last much longer. ''Thirty-five years compared to 30 minutes, that's ridiculous,'' he said.
Even though the majority of patients do not seem to experience long-term adverse effects, Thelen is not alone in reporting them either. Sarah Price Hancock says she underwent 116 ECT sessions between 2002 and 2009, and is critical of the treatment. ''I have no memory of 36 years of my life,'' she said.
Loretta Wilson received about 60 treatments starting in 1993, when she was in her 50s. ECT triggered, according to her, significant autobiographical memory loss. ''I have no memory of my own wedding,'' she said. She says she also doesn't remember the birth of her children. ''I don't remember their birthdays.''
A modern ECT device made by MECTA, similar to the Somatics device used to treat Jeffrey Thelen.
Visual: Soggybread/Wikimedia While memory loss is a documented side effect of ECT, proponents of the treatment claim that it is temporary. ''ECT does not harm memory function long term,'' said Kellner. However, he did note that, while a person is undergoing treatment, ''some specific memories may be erased. But you know what I say? So what? You saved the person's life,'' he said. ''And we're back to that same thing where people don't understand that these are life-threatening illnesses.''
Fink takes a similar approach: ''If a person goes to surgery, and they lose a pint of blood, they lose blood. You have to put new blood in. People who get ECT lose some memory. And then in time it comes back,'' he said.
''You can't do surgery without some blood change,'' he continued. ''As an example, I use that as an argument, and you can't give ECT without some memory change.''
Indeed, the debate over ECT often centers on its cost-benefit ratio. In a 2010 literature review on the effectiveness of ECT, Read, the University of East London professor who testified in Thelen's trial, and co-author Richard Bentall wrote that ''the cost-benefit analysis for ECT is so poor that its use cannot be scientifically justified. '' In that review, Read and Bentall examined 60 years of scientific literature on ECT with a primary focus on depression. They found little evidence for improvement during the treatment and none afterwards.
''I have no memory of my own wedding,'' Wilson said.
But many researchers stand by the treatment. ''Anything you do in medicine is a risk-benefit calculation,'' said Kellner. ''And the risk benefit calculation for ECT is so far in favor of the benefit that it's one of the best and safest procedures in all of medicine.''
Part of the issue is that there are still so many unknowns in the study of memory. The brain forms long-term memories through a process called consolidation. If a person is given a random streak of numbers, they will likely not remember it one hour, let alone days, after learning it. But if that streak of numbers is repeated over and over again, the brain conveys this information from short term to long-term memory. Electrical stimuli like ECT prevent the brain from transferring the information, explained James McGaugh, a retired neurobiologist whose research focused on learning and memory.
In the 1990s, a task force for the American Psychiatric Association, a widely recognized authority in the field, published a report with draft guidelines for practitioners to follow. Until then, ECT proponents had argued that the treatment could do no wrong '-- that it was totally underutilized and had no side effects, only transient ones. ''That wasn't true,'' said Sackeim, the Columbia University professor. His research team ''showed without a doubt that you can have persistent memory effects, that these things can last forever. But it's also the most effective treatment that there is. I mean, there can be two truths.''
While a person is undergoing treatment, ''some specific memories may be erased. But you know what I say? So what? You saved the person's life,'' Kellner said.
Sackeim's team had devised a test intended to assess memory loss post-ECT. They asked people some 300 facts about their lives, ranging from old, new, neutral, positive, and negative memories. ''We were able to show, depending on what type of ECT you got, the amount of amnesia immediately after the treatment course, two months after the treatment course, six months after the treatment was different.''
But even though patients usually score well on these kinds of tests, when asked whether ECT hurt their memory, they often report it did. Complicating things further is the fact that people who are treated with ECT, such as Wilson and Hancock, are often on a cocktail of medications, which along with mental illnesses themselves, have documented impacts on memory.
Meanwhile, critics of ECT point to the field's lack of research studies. In his testimony at Thelen's trial, Read noted: ''The research is very poor. There is very limited research, and the methodology is not good.''
Kellner disagrees. There is already a large amount of high-quality ECT research, he wrote in an email to Undark. He, however, acknowledges that the field does need more funding. ''Compared to studies of heart disease and cancer, the funding has been minuscule, and part of the reason is that there's no industry to support it. There's no pharmacology industry to support ECT research,'' he said. Among the studies that are conducted, some do involve a small number of patients and lack a placebo group. But Kellner insists that this is not unusual. Looking at studies of any medical procedure, he said, some will have small cohorts while others '-- including those for ECT '-- will have very large ones.
Still, many researchers argue that ECT should be used as a primary treatment for severe depression. To this day, some of the most pivotal work done in the U.S. to examine ECT's impact on such patients with depression has been led by the Consortium for Research in ECT, or CORE, initially conducted by Fink, Kellner and two colleagues, and the Columbia University Consortium. According to the CORE findings, ECT seems to work quicker than medication and should be considered earlier in the course of treatment.
In the neurobehavioral unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Lee Elizabeth Wachtel refers children, teenagers and young adults to be treated with ECT. She believes the proof lies in how many patients ECT has already helped, reflected by numerous published case studies, bolstered by extensive literature from the past 80 years.
Part of Wachtel's work focuses on catatonia in patients with autism. But she said introducing a controlled study is ethically questionable: ''It's impossible to lead studies because you need two groups of patients: catatonic patients getting ECT and others with the same condition not getting the treatment,'' she said. ''We know ECT works on catatonia, not giving it for the purpose of a study would be cruel.''
T he lack of predictability can be unnerving for prospective patients, many of whom have tried various other treatments with limited to no beneficial effect.
To reduce the cognitive side effects, ECT practitioners have been using less invasive methods that lower risks of cognitive side effects but also remission rates.
Other brain stimulation techniques have been developed as well: Transcranial magnetic stimulation'‹, for instance, ''uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain,'' according to the Mayo Clinic, and is less invasive than ECT. Magnetic seizure therapy is another alternative but operates at a significantly higher frequency than TMS so it requires that the patient be anesthetized. Both innovations are representative of the field's effort to personalize treatments by targeting certain areas of the brain as opposed to overwhelming it with electrical currents.
In the 20th century, experiments of ECT on rodents revolutionized researchers' understanding of memory. ''Electroconvulsive shock studies were critically important in the early stages of understanding the physiological basis of memory in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s,'' said McGaugh.
''I know how to give it so that people are safe, and they get better,'' said Michael Alan Taylor. ''And for me, that's enough at the moment.''
The same could be true about the causes of psychiatric illness if researchers can better understand the mystery behind ECT, according to Kellner. ''The only people who get ECT are very, very seriously ill, so they represent a much purer biological sample of people with these particular illnesses than are treated by psychotherapy or medication,'' he said. ''So it's a subset of much more severely ill people who, by nature, have a more specific genetically transmitted type of the illness. And that's why ECT is a wonderful platform to look at. Not only how ECT works, but what's causing psychiatric illness.''
Understanding what causes someone to be sick could lead to a greater personalization of treatments. For patients such as Thelen, who struggled to find an effective treatment for the better part of two decades, this could be life changing.
For many practitioners, ECT is still seen as worth the risk. ''I know how to give it so that people are safe, and they get better,'' said Michael Alan Taylor, the retired neuropsychiatrist and ECT researcher. ''And for me, that's enough at the moment.''
As for Thelen, his lawyers filed a motion for a new trial.
This story was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.
Astrid Landon covers the mental health system in the United States and France, focusing on mental health issues and health care fraud. Her stories have appeared in MindSite News, The Guardian, France Televisions, Lib(C)ration, Challenges, and elsewhere.
G¤ngkriminella avsl¶jar: S¥ tv¤ttas pengar p¥ Spotify
Tue, 05 Sep 2023 18:55
Spotify, med grundaren Daniel Ek i f¶rgrunden, utnyttjas av kriminella f¶r pengatv¤tt, enligt en ny granskning. Arkivbild. Henrik Montgomery/TT
Kriminella anv¤nder Spotify f¶r att tv¤tta pengar genom att k¶pa falska lyssningar, avsl¶jar Svenska Dagbladet. '' Jag kan s¤ga med 100 procents s¤kerhet att det sker. Jag har sj¤lv varit delaktig, s¤ger en anonym g¤ngkriminell till tidningen.Det har l¤nge varit k¤nt att artister och skivbolag kan k¶pa falska lyssningar av ljusskygga personer som erbjuder tekniska l¶sningar f¶r att manipulera Spotify och andra str¶mningstj¤nster. Det ger mer int¤kter och st¶rre uppm¤rksamhet f¶r artisten. Nu kopplas verksamheten ihop med g¤ngkriminalitet.
BankomatI en artikel i Svenska Dagbladet ber¤ttar en anonym polis vid Noa (polisens nationella operativa avdelning), att han ville varna Spotify f¶r att str¶mningstj¤nsten blivit ett verktyg f¶r kriminella, men att ingen fr¥n bolaget ringde tillbaka.
'' Spotify har blivit en bankomat f¶r dem (g¤ngen). Det finns en direkt koppling till g¤ngen och d¤rf¶r ocks¥ till det d¶dliga v¥ldet, s¤ger polisen vid Noa.
Metoden g¥r ut p¥ att kriminella anv¤nder brottspengar f¶r att k¶pa kryptovaluta, som bitcoin. Pengarna g¥r sedan vidare till personer som kan manipulera Spotifys fejkade konton f¶r att f¥ upp lyssnandet f¶r en speciell artist.
'' Om det ¤r stora volymer s¥ ¤r det v¤rt det. Du g¶r inte detta om du vill tv¤tta hundra lax, f¶r d¥ f¶rlorar du f¶r mycket l¤ngs v¤gen. Men om du vill tv¤tta n¥gra kaniner (miljoner) s¥ ¤r det sj¤lvklart bra, s¤ger en g¤ngkriminell till SvD.
''K¤nsligt''Vinsten blir dubbel: Spotify betalar ut vita pengar som ers¤ttning f¶r lyssningarna och artisten rusar upp p¥ topplistorna och kan d¤rmed sl¥ igenom "p¥ riktigt".
'' Jag vill inte s¤lja ut folk, detta ¤r v¤ldigt k¤nsligt. Det handlar om mer ¤n att k¶pa streams. Om du ¤r n¤tverk och vill locka till dig barn och du har en rappare som blir stor, s¥ g¶r det halva jobbet f¶r dig. Det ¤r tjockt bra i rekryteringssyfte, s¤ger den kriminella personen till SvD.
Spotify s¤ger till SvD att f¶retaget bek¤mpar fenomenet med fejkade lyssningar och falska konton, men ocks¥ att de inte har n¥gra bevis f¶r att str¶mningstj¤nsten anv¤nds f¶r att tv¤tta pengar.
Remembering Burger King's chicken tenders as the chain shutters hundreds of stores -
Tue, 05 Sep 2023 12:42
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. '-- The hunger for nostalgia hits hard, especially for Burger King's chicken tenders.
''I can still taste those just by looking at the photo,'' a person on reddit said when a photo of Burger King's chicken tenders appeared on the website's r/nostalgia subreddit.
Burger King's long-discontinued chicken tenders faded away from the fast-food lexicon about a decade ago following a 27-year-run. The company introduced them in 1985 to compete with McDonald's mighty Chicken McNuggets, and after various tweaks to the tenders '-- like when they were shaped as crowns '-- BK decided to change their formula altogether to make them appear similar in size to the iconic McDonald's nugget. They didn't taste the same.
''This along with the fries was the main reason I went to Burger King as a kid,'' another reddit wrote. ''Also does anyone remember when they had crown-shaped chicken, and at one time star & lightning bolt-shaped chicken tenders as well?''
At one point, recalls this writer, the restaurant sold an 8-piece box for $2.99 in the mid-2000s prior to their extinction.
Burger King attempted a chicken tender overhaul by establishing a new-look (and tasting) product, but it wasn't successful. A glance at the BK menu shows they're no longer available.
Burger King Restaurant at Richmond Avenue and Amboy Road, Eltingville, pictured here in 1978. (Staten Island Advance) Staten Island Advance
Burger King has toyed with other handheld chicken options over the year, including chicken fries, which were easy to snack on, as the original tenders were. The taste, however, didn't come close. Unlike the tenders, chicken fries are still available.
The eatery hasn't only tweaked its chicken offerings over the years. In the late 1990s, BK adjusted its fry recipe to compete with McDonald's, reported the Baltimore Sun. They did it again more than 10 years ago. Pretty soon, according to reports, churro and mozzarella fries could be on the menu.
As the internet reminisces about Burger King's once royal tenders, the restaurant chain itself is struggling. On Staten Island, two of its longtime locations recently shuttered -- Tysens Lane in New Dorp and Richmond Avenue in New Springville. According to Advance/SILive archives, the latter had been open for 50 years.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Staten Island Advance/ reported the demise of the Page Avenue fast food location in Tottenville.
The company is expected to lose approximately 400 stores this year, as several large Burger King franchisees have filed for bankruptcy, according to our sister site,, and other media outlets
Fortunately for Burger King loves, the appropriately-located Burgher Avenue location in Dongan Hills is in the midst of a renovation.
Under-renovation Burger King on Burgher Avenue in Dongan Hills has an eerie look. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)
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US deficit is projected to roughly double this year: watchdog | The Hill
Tue, 05 Sep 2023 04:49
The U.S. deficit is projected to roughly double this year, largely due to higher interest rates and lower tax revenue.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that pushes for lowering the deficit, is projecting the federal deficit will double this year to total about $2 trillion for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the organization, told The Hill that high interest rates, lower tax revenues and high inflation resulting in higher Social Security and Medicare costs have all contributed to the rising deficit.
''A big part of the story is just that there was sort of a one-time huge revenue surge in 2022 that's done,'' Goldwein said. ''But the other stories are that we have structurally deficits really rising in 2023. And that's a lot of that is because of interest costs.''
''These things add up,'' he added. ''It's no one thing that's causing us to go from $1 trillion to $2 trillion. It's like six things.''
The Congressional Budget Office estimated last month that the federal budget deficit reached $1.6 trillion in the 10-month period ending in July.
Goldwein also noted the official 2022 deficit numbers are about $4 billion higher than they should be due to the student loan cancellation because the Biden administration recorded it on last year's numbers even before the cancellation went into place. Therefore, their prediction is based on numbers that ignore the effects of the student debt cancellation that was later struck down by the Supreme Court.
This comes years after the U.S. hit record-shattering deficit levels in 2020 and 2021 that were largely due to the pandemic-era spending and borrowing. In 2020, the deficit hit $3.1 trillion and in 2021, it hit $2.8 trillion.
''We're predicting this, but this is really based very heavily on things that the Congressional Budget Office has already set,'' Goldwein noted.
He also said he expects the deficit to go down in 2024 compared to this year. He said that over the next decade, the deficit will likely creep up to $3 trillion if there are no other ''predictable shocks.''
''I do expect deficits are trending upward over time,'' he said. ''But I do think they're more likely to fall than to rise in 2024.''
The Washington Post first reported on the organization's predictions.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Elon Musk sues the Anti-Defamation League for $22 BILLION for 'trying to kill X by falsely accusing it and me of being anti-Semitic': X owner sets up huge defamation battle with group | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 05 Sep 2023 04:37
Elon Musk is suing the Anti-Defamation League for 'roughly $22billion' for allegedly trying to destroy X by accusing him and the social media giant of being anti-Semitic.
In a series of tweets sent out Monday night, Musk, 52, said he plans to sue the ADL 'to clear our platform's name on the matter of anti-Semitism.'
'It looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League '... oh the irony!' the billionaire wrote.
He added: 'In our case, they would potentially be on the hook for destroying half the value of the company, so roughly $22 billion.'
In May, it was reported that the app's value had fallen to one-third of what it was when Musk purchased it in October - from $45 billion to $15 billion in six months.
Elon Musk claims that he is going to sue the Anti-Defamation League for defamation as he believes the organization is falsely accusing him and X of being anti-Semitic
'It looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League '... oh the irony!' the tech giant wrote in a tweet Monday evening
ADL Chair Ben Sax (left) and ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt (right)
Musk's battle with the ADL began Monday morning when he called out the organization for being responsible for the company's quickly falling profits
'Since the acquisition, The @ADL has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic,' he wrote in an initial tweet.
'Our US advertising revenue is still down 60 per cent, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL (that's what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter,' his tweet continued.
In a separate tweet, he shared that he believes the ADL is responsible for as much as 50 percent of Twitter's fallen value - 'roughly $22 billion,' according to Musk.
Earlier in the day, Musk responded to a tweet from X News Daily sharing that X's advertising revenue in the US is down by around 60 percent.
The account shared that the advertising revenue decrease is a 'significant factor behind X's continuing issues with achieving profitability.'
Musk purportedly believes that the ADL has urged advertisers not to use X over Musk's relaxing of rules around hate speech and harassment.
Some Jewish users online have claimed to see an uptick in anti-Semitic tweets that go unpunished by Musk and anyone else at X.
In response to the accusations of rampant anti-Semitism on the platform, the Chief Twit vehemently denied letting hate speech run free on his app.
'To be super clear, I'm pro free speech, but against anti-Semitism of any kind,' he wrote in a tweet.
'Giving them maximum benefit of the doubt, I don't see any scenario where they're responsible for less than 10% of the value destruction, so ~$4 billion,' Musk wrote in another tweet
Even with his ongoing battle, Musk said he has no plans to ban ADL from X.
Following his barrage of tweets about the organization, a movement to '#BanTheADL' has emerged from some of Musk's most devoted followers.
The CEO has engaged with tweets that are part of the movement but clarified online that he has no intention to ban them anytime soon.
'Despite the immense harm ADL has done to X/Twitter, they still will not be banned in this platform, unless they break the law,' he shared.
It's unclear whether or not Musk and his lawyers have filed an initial complaint against the organization.
ADL officials did not immediately respond to inquiries from
It's unclear whether or not Musk and his lawyers have filed an initial complaint against ADL
A study published in 2022 by Montclair State University shows there was a spike in hate speech the day after Musk took over Twitter in October
Just last month, X filed a lawsuit against a nonprofit group that monitors hate speech, making similar accusations of poisoning the water for online users.
Lawyers for X claimed the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) orchestrated a 'scare campaign to drive away advertisers from the X platform.'
At the time, X officials accused CCDH of publishing reports that indicate X did not take action against hate speech on the app.
They also accused CCDH of committing 'a series of unlawful acts designed to improperly gain access' to the platform's data,' in the lawsuit.
A study published in 2022 by Montclair State University shows there was a spike in hate speech the day after Musk took over Twitter in October.
According to university officials, the data showed a 'correlation between Musk's arrival' and 'hostile content on Twitter.'
Similarly, GLAAD recently named X - then Twitter - as the 'most dangerous platform for LGBTQ people' in its Social Media Safety Index.
SAG-AFTRA votes unanimously to expand its strike to include the games industry |
Mon, 04 Sep 2023 04:25
"Here we go again! Now our video game agreement is at a stalemate too."
Image credit: SAG-AFTRAThe media artists union SAG-AFTRA has voted to expand its ongoing Hollywood strike to encompass the games industry.
In a statement posted to its official website, the union confirmed its board had "voted unanimously" to "send a strike authorisation vote to SAG-AFTRA members" in interactive media ahead of its "forthcoming bargaining dates with video game companies".
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Newscast: Our most anticipated games for the rest of 2023.Watch on YouTubeKey issues up for negotiation include pay and conditions, but also "protections against unrestrained use of artificial intelligence", specifically the impact upon performance capture artists.
The companies involved in the negotiations include Activision, Disney, EA, Epic Games, Insomniac, Take 2, and Warner Bros.
"It has been nearly a year since SAG-AFTRA's video game contract, the Interactive Media Agreement, was extended beyond the original expiration date as we negotiated with the companies for critical terms SAG-AFTRA members need," the statement explains.
"Unfortunately, throughout the negotiations, the companies have failed to address those needs. For this reason, the negotiating committee and National Board unanimously agreed that the union should have a member-approved strike authorisation in hand when bargaining resumes on 26th September."
"Although key issues like wages that keep up with inflation and protections against unrestrained use of artificial intelligence are common sticking points in negotiations, the Interactive Media (Video Game) Agreement is a separate contract from the TV, theatrical and streaming contracts against which SAG-AFTRA members are currently striking."
"Here we go again! Now our video game agreement is at a stalemate too," said SAG-AFTRA president, Fran Drescher. "Once again, we are facing employer greed and disrespect. Once again, artificial intelligence is putting our members in jeopardy of reducing their opportunity to work. And once again, SAG-AFTRA is standing up to tyranny on behalf of its members.
"The overlap of these two SAG-AFTRA contracts is no coincidence, but rather a predictable issue impacting our industry as well as others all over the world. The disease of greed is spreading like wildfire, ready to burn workers out of their livelihoods and humans out of their usefulness. We at SAG-AFTRA say NO! Not on our watch!"
SAG-AFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals across the US.
Zelensky to replace Ukraine's wartime defense minister | The Hill
Mon, 04 Sep 2023 04:19
AP Photo/Peter DejongUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen during a press conference in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Sunday that he would replace Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov with Rustem Umerov.
In a statement, Zelensky said he thinks the ministry ''needs new approaches'' and noted Reznikov had served in the position for 550 days of ''full-scale war.'' He also said he expects parliament to support Umerov.
''Oleksiy Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the Ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large. Now Rustem Umerov should lead the Ministry,'' Zelensky said in the Sunday statement.
''The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine knows this person well, and Mr. Umerov does not need any additional introductions. I expect the Parliament to support this candidate,'' Zelensky continued.
The shakeup would be the largest in the ministry since the start of the war in early 2022. The Ministry of Defense has been plagued with accusations of mishandling military contracts, which have avoided Reznikov personally but reportedly have left many skeptical about Reznikov's fate amid a crackdown on public corruption.
Umerov was appointed by the Verkhovna Rada to be chairman of Ukraine's State Property Fund in September 2022. He was tasked to lead the processes of privatization and lease in the state, with a focus on transparency.
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive earlier this summer, which had seen slower progress before picking up in recent weeks, raising hopes in the West of a breakthrough. Ukraine broke through major Russian defense lines in the southeastern region late last week, a significant step forward in the counteroffensive.
The counteroffensive is being waged on several fronts, and Russia has launched its own counteroffensive toward cities in the northeast, but troops face stiff resistance from Ukraine.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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VIDEO - EXCLUSIVE: Recovering heroin addict RFK Jr. wants the billions sent to Ukraine to be invested in 'healing farms' for Americans struggling with depression and addiction - a battle he is no stranger to | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 04 Sep 2023 15:13
Recovering heroin addict RFK Jr. has called for billions in taxpayer dollars being sent to Ukraine to be redirected to fund 'healing farms' for Americans struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
The Democratic longshot presidential candidate says there is an 'epidemic' of not just substance abuse but 'loneliness, despair, disassociation, alienation' - while those in power are 'addicted to war.'
The 69-year-old points to the thousands being killed by fentanyl and insists it's time to start spending on the 'crisis we're having here at home.'
RFK is no stranger to mental health and addiction challenges.
He was addicted to heroin for 14 years and his ex-wife Mary killed herself in 2012 after a long battle with drugs and alcohol. His 22-year-old niece Saoirse Kennedy Hill died in 2019 after taking a fatal mixture of prescription medications, methadone and alcohol.
He has also been vocal about stopping the cash flow to Kyiv during their war with Russia. It's one of the many controversial viewpoints that have drawn criticism from his family and led to relatives opposing his 2024 White House bid.
In an exclusive interview with, he said that instead of 'warehousing' people who are desperate and alienated, he wants to start the process of 'rebuilding communities' one American at a time.
'We're now seeing an epidemic of addiction, alcoholism. But also just loneliness, despair, disassociation, alienation.
'People feel dispossessed, and we need to start healing people.
'And one of the things I'm going to do is to launch a series of healing farms in rural areas all across the country, in places where the only industry now are prisons.'
He pointed to the ongoing fentanyl crisis in America as an issue that needs to be taken more seriously.
'We're losing a whole generation of youth. We lost 106,000 people this year alone from fentanyl deaths,' he told - twice the amount of U.S. soldiers killed in the 20-year Vietnam war, he says.
'We need to be taking some of that money we're sending to Ukraine and start spending it on the crisis we're having right here at home.'
RFK has been a vocal advocate of removing U.S. aid to Ukraine amid the country's ongoing war with Russia.
'Well, you know, we're addicted to war. And we're spending now almost $150 billion in the [Ukraine] war. It's a war that should never have happened.'
RFK told that the war 'clearly' could have been 'solved diplomatically.'
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his ex-wife Mary Richardson pictured in Paris Friday June 12, 1998
RFK's 22-year-old niece Saoirse Kennedy Hill (left) died in 2019 after taking a fatal mixture of prescription medications, methadone and alcohol.
He insisted that media narratives by the American and British press 'have not been true' about the war.
The longshot presidential hopeful says that diplomacy must be put first, before the needs of the military industrial complex.
The Biden administration recently made a request to Congress for an additional $21 billion in funding for Ukraine.
The breakdown of the $13 billion defense request includes $9.5 billion for equipment and replenishment of Pentagon stocks and $3.6 billion for continued military, intelligence and other defense support.
If approved, Congress would put total committed U.S. aid to Ukraine at over $124 billion. The administration also authorized the sending of F-16 fighter jets to the country, who has been fending off a Russian invasion for almost two years.
Biden has said the U.S. will support Ukraine in its fight against Russia 'for as long as it takes.'
RFK's fight for mental health comes after his own personal struggles.
After his father Bobby was gunned down in 1968 while mounting his own presidential bid, RFK turned to drugs.
He said in a recent interview that he began using heroin to fill 'an empty space inside of me' starting at the age of 15.
But he says that he wouldn't blame drugs on the tragedies of his family, saying it 'may or may not have contributed.'
'I feel like I was born an addict'... that I was an empty spiritual hole.'
He finally got clean after 14 years of using in September 1983, shortly after he was publicly arrested for heroin possession.
His ex-wife Mary committed suicide by hanging at the family's Mount Kisco estate in Westchester County, New York.
She had an ongoing battle with drugs and alcohol and on several occasions tried to seek help.
Her suicide was the latest in a succession of tragedies to strike the glittering and powerful Kennedy clan, known as the 'curse of Camelot.'
She and RFK had four children together before their divorce in 2010.
RFK is now married to actress Cheryl Hines, best known for her role as Larry David's wife on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Four-old Bobcat joined Hines and two of RFK Jr's sons, Aidan and Finn with his cousin Anthony Shriver (far left) also onstage
Hines previously told that she was fully supportive of her husband's plans to run for the White House
The Democrat and former environmental lawyer also addressed the ongoing 'environmental crisis.'
He told that the U.S. 'addiction' to fossil fuels is 'not good for American health.
'It's not good for our independence. It keeps us in a constant state of war.'
He blasted how dependent the fuel industry is on subsidies.
'I believe in free market capitalism. And if true, free market capitalism will transition very quickly off of fossil fuels.'

Clips & Documents

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(1) CNN - Jake Tapper -Kara Swisher - Elon v ADL -intro [edited] (2min7sec).mp3
(2) MSNBC - Joe Scarborough -Andrew Ross Sorkin - Elon v ADL -why would Elon do this (1min25sec).mp3
(3) CNBC - Andrew Ross Sorkin -Jonathan Greenblatt - Elon v ADL -what happened (57sec).mp3
(4) MSNBC - Willie Geist -Jonathan Greenblatt - Elon v ADL -real world impact (1min33sec).mp3
(5) MSNBC - Joe Scarborough -Andrew Ross Sorkin - Elon v ADL -no juice on threads (1min12sec).mp3
+CBS Evening - Elaine Quijano - Walgreens running out of covid test (10sec).mp3
[mini-cut] ABC - James Hetfield Jill Biden Whoopi all test positive for covid (39sec).mp3
[REDUX] Musk - Ron Baron -3- Revenue (firings) - adertisers target by activists.mp3
ABC ATM - Andrew Dymburt - depleted urainium shells to Ukraine (41sec).mp3
ABC ATM - Andrew Dymburt - Ukraine market attack -aid (18sec).mp3
ABC ATM - Rhiannon Ally - covid test expiration dates extended (13sec).mp3
ABC ATM - Rhiannon Ally - Hunter Biden expected to be indicted (40sec).mp3
ABC ATM - Rhiannon Ally - US Open spectator ejected for Hitler phrase Deutschland über alles (22sec).mp3
ABC WNT - Mary Bruce - Biden masking indoors -medal ceremony (55sec).mp3
ABC WNT - Whit Johnson - arson cause of Louisiana wildfire (19sec).mp3
ABC WNT - Whit Johnson - CDC flesh-eating bacteria (22sec).mp3
Africa Today KICKER - Kenya carbon sinks are goldmine - need to PRICE fairly 10-100 margin.mp3
AI or Not AI Hillary.mp3
BBC hard_talk_pelosi_energy.mp3
BBC hard_talk_pelosi_lock_him_up.mp3
BBC hard_talk_pelosi_trump_curse_word.mp3
Biden Jean Pierre on Biden Covid 2 summit.mp3
Biden Jean Pierre on Biden Covid and cadence.mp3
Booster Shots sheep Jingle.mp3
CBS EV - Norah ODonnell - spanish player accuses soccer chief of sexual assault.mp3
CBS EV - Norah ODonnell Catherine Herridge - prosecutors plan to indict hunter biden this month.mp3
CBS EV - Norah ODonnell Imtiaz Tyab - secretary of state makes surprise trip to ukraine.mp3
CNN - Micheal Smerconish - if health officials again require masks will america comply [1].mp3
CNN - Micheal Smerconish Anthony Fauci - if health officials again require masks will america comply [2].mp3
CNN - Micheal Smerconish Anthony Fauci - if health officials again require masks will america comply [3].mp3
CNN - Micheal Smerconish Anthony Fauci - if health officials again require masks will america comply [4].mp3
CNN - Micheal Smerconish Anthony Fauci - if health officials again require masks will america comply [5].mp3
CNN Smerconish (1) uptick in covid cases (1min42sec).mp3
CUBAN being trafficed 2 kicker.mp3
CUBAN being trafficed for Ukraine war 1.mp3
Delta Pilot Report.mp3
Don't call it a comeback - LLCoolJ iso.mp3
Doocey KJP Biden Baby.mp3
Dr. Fauci - I didnt recommend lockdowns -I did recommend lockdowns (12sec).mp3
F24 - Danish pharma group becomes Europe's most valuable firm after UK weight loss drug launch.mp3
F24 Before Blinken's visit THESE WERE THE Ukraine Headlines - Ukraine army plagued with several corruption cases.mp3
Fauci Mask [Super Clip].mp3
goshun ccp calif ntd.mp3
Hillary crackers.mp3
Hillary kiss ass.mp3
ISO Cannot believe it.mp3
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Kamala Harris says she ‘may have to take over’ as president and is ready to do so.mp3
KJP lies about Biden mask and spins it into walk-off.mp3
Mayor Adams on migrans destroying NY City.mp3
McConnel diagnosis.mp3
Megyn Kelley regrest getting the vax - autoimmune issues.mp3
NBC - Lester Dolt Laura Jarrett - special counsel seeks hunter biden indictment.mp3
NBC - Lester Dolt Miguel Almaguer - texas ordered to remove floating barrier.mp3
NBC - Lester Dolt Tom Costello - FDA could okay new covid boosters this week.mp3
NBC - Richard Engel - deadly attack in ukraine as blinken visits.mp3
Non Binary THEYDY.mp3
Obama Sinclair Emmanual Blagoyavoch REDUX NA-205-August 2nd 2010.mp3
Political ads on X 3.mp3
Political ads on X ntd.mp3
Political ads on X TWO.mp3
Proud Boy sentenced 1.mp3
Proud Boy sentenced 2.mp3
The Africa Carbon Credits scam -2- The COUP countries.mp3
The Africa Carbon Credits scam -3- Kerry's Job - PRICING CARBON.mp3
The Africa Carbon Credits scam -4- Queen Ursula - GLOBAL CARBON TAX COP 28.mp3
The Africa Carbon Credits scam.mp3
Trump on ballot.2.mp3
Trump on ballot.mp3
Trump to be fined for Time wasting.mp3
Walther Reed Betehesda Uniformed soldier - I WEAR A MASK promo.mp3
WH Press - Karine Jean-Pierre - president will be masking indoors (18sec).mp3
What's behind the reawakened interest in the moon.mp3
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