VAERS Maintenance and OpenVaers.com
Vaccine deaths, just old people dying from underlying conditions
But when they died last year, it wasn't underlying conditions, it was covid
Have 400,000 Americans Died of Covid-19?
If the numbers hold up and from a first read it looks like they do,
there was no excess deaths last year, no pandemic, nothing but a giant PsyOp. Apparently the CDC on
December 28th dropped a data bomb of excess deaths to the tune of over 250k. All on 1 day at the
end of the year. Never done before on history like that. Then that 400k number was trumpets in the
media leading up to the inauguration, where it was trumpeted by the new crooks in office in front
of the world. A made up number with no basis in reality. I’m interested in you and John’s thought
on this. Stay thirsty my friend.
Understand potential side effects from COVID-19 vaccines (Australia)
Over in Gitmo Downunder we have the equivalent of the VAERS database called the DAEN (Database of Adverse Event Notifications). The database has just started reporting on the adverse effects of the Pfizer jab. We are still in the early days as the mass rollout of the Oxford AstraZeneca that’s happened in the last 60 days, so adverse reactions won’t appear publicly for another month. I thought it would be fun to share the first reported list of adverse reactions (including several deaths due to Pfizer so far)
* 3 cases of “Injury, poisoning and procedural complications” attributed to “vaccination error”
* 2 cases of “decreased appetite” resulting in death
* 1 case of “thinking abnormal”
Like other medicines, all vaccines can cause side effects. Most side effects are mild and temporary (lasting 1 or 2 days). Common side effects include low-level fever and pain or redness where the injection was given.
Even when the suspected side effect is serious, it is possible - even likely - that it may not have been caused by the vaccine. The timing may be coincidental. There is an expected 'background rate' of coincidental adverse events. This is why the TGA investigates the reports it receives to determine if there is a genuine safety concern related to the vaccine.
Australian National Review - Have 400,000 Americans Died of Covid-19?
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 11:56
Have 400,000 Americans Died of Covid-19?
By Celia Farber
Many assumed, lots screamed it, but now there is proof: The Covid-19 death count is a fabrication. However, the story is much bigger than number manipulation within our government. It's a story told best with an introduction. For those who may be impatient, scroll down to the section titled ''The Natural Enemy of the PSYOP is the True Scientist'' and read from there. Otherwise, learn what they have done and will continue to do. Learn about the PSYOP.
A Scientist Finds Something Shocking In CDC Covid Stats''In less than 12 months, they closed our businesses, forced us to wear muzzles, kept us from our families, killed off our sports, burned down our cities, forcibly seized power.Then they accused us of the coup.'' '--Raheem Kassam.
''Besides being the first President to get impeached twice, Donald Trump will have a stain on his legacy with arguably longer-lasting consequences: He's about to become the only American leader in a century with more than 400,000 deaths from one event on his watch.'' '--Jose Ortiz, USA Today.
''But, you know, I feel more fellowship with the defeated than with saints. Heroism and sanctity don't really appeal to me, I imagine. What interests me is being a man.'' '--Albert Camus
''I don't want to jump up and down and start screaming, 'Death! Death!''' '--Donald Trump
A PSYOP is a most dangerous thing'--a fusion of reality, simulation, and projection. A form of a storm'--monsoon or typhoon'--that moves in fast, breaks and soaks, changes everything, and kills in a variety of ways.
Its guilt grip is so powerful, you will also be stripped of the right to reject or even resent it. Powerful and merciless, it splits people, weaponizes our thoughts and feelings about one another, tears apart families, old friendships, gets people fired, and above all, makes everybody miserable.
Even when it's wrong (and it's always wrong), you can't put an end to it. It is essentially mass media's mental implants that people mistake for their own thoughts and feelings. It violently demands certain ''emotions'' while it cruelly strips away all individual, natural human ones.
PSYOPS, or ''Influence Operations,'' don't have to correlate with reality because they create a new hyper-reality, seen only through specific virtual reality goggles. Inside the virtualized media dome, all of its promises come true, funnily enough'--like clockwork, whereas a natural story will contain surprise twists.
The generators and controllers of the PSYOPS know how to use large numbers with which to savagely club people. If a number is suspiciously big and suspiciously even, you can be sure it is a PSYOP number.
Right now, we are all being clobbered hard by the number 400,000'--but none so viciously as former President Donald Trump.
The 400,000 PSYOP was timed to coincide with the days before, during, and after Joe Biden's inauguration. Thus, Donald Trump was accused of essentially killing all ''400,000,'' as the Empire State Building lit up in red (the same color as the AIDS PSYOP, now retired). It was suggested on National Public Radio that perhaps Donald Trump should be executed for this crime.
The media drums on the 400,000 began just before Joe Biden's Covid-centric inauguration. A few headlines bearing the accusation of genocide:
''Blood On His Hands': As US nears 400,000 Covid-19 deaths, experts blame Trump administration for a 'preventable' loss of life.'' USA Today, Jan 17
''One Year, 400,000 coronavirus deaths: How the US Guaranteed Its Own Failure.'' The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Jan 17.
These media attacks brought together the two titanic PSYOPS of our era: Trump Is Hitler and Covid is Eternal Mass Death. In the second week of January, the two mated, giving birth to a new PSYOP, never fully flogged before, namely: Covid is Eternal Mass death because of Trump.
Covid is not a respiratory illness so much as a blunt force perception and guilt weapon to ''kill'' Donald Trump with. Decent people can't locate what former President Trump did wrong exactly. Nor why none of this was the highly paid and revered Dr. Anthony Fauci's responsibility, especially since he said years ago, ominously, that President Trump could ''expect'' a new pandemic during his tenure. (For the record, I think what he did wrong was to listen to Anthony Fauci. This was no minor error; The country has fallen.) But the Covid PSYOP has that precisely the other way around.
Here's a cloudy, highly revealing PSYOP-adherent Trump flogging from Nathalie Baptiste, writing in Mother Jones, with all the cliches in bold:
''The staggering death toll was both preventable and entirely predictable. Even aside from his vast personal incompetence'--we'll get to that later'--President Trump blithely put into practice cherished conservative principles that are incompatible with a decent pandemic response. Castigating and de-legitimizing government institutions, demonizing minority communities, and playing into white grievances may help Republicans win elections, but when it comes to beating back a massive public health catastrophe, what's paramount is robust public agencies, a strong health care system, and special attention to the vulnerable. In many ways, we were doomed from the start.''
Incredibly, this is from the side that claims to believe in science.
I was troubled enough to see the spate of articles and TV reports chiming the 400,000 death bells, but soon I saw what it was preparation for: The inauguration.
US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (2nd L) and husband Douglas Emhoff and US President-elect Joe Biden (R) and wife Dr. Jill Biden attend a Covid-19 Memorial at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2021, to honor the lives of those lost to Covid-19. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)Biden/Harris and their production teams had long since made this new number'--400,000'--centrally symbolic to its eerie, choreographed, virtualized inauguration ceremony.
Milan Kundera called this kind of thing ''Communist Kitsch.'' Exploiting the dead (no matter what they, in truth, died of, but primarily old age), the pageant was all about Covid, with flags representing those who could not attend due to the Covid Scare and the Domestic Terrorism (from Patriots) scare. Throughout the ceremony, those who died ''of Covid'' were remembered, though no mention of those who have died from lockdowns. PSYOPS hyper-direct our allowed emotions. In the end, the supposed ''blood on hands'' of the outgoing President was fused with the (dark) triumphalism of the incoming one. Meaning: The very theme of Biden's Presidency would not be, say, America, but rather, ''Covid.'' Don't serve America; serve Covid, as the new America. The new America is actually America inverted, prepared, and served up to The Great Reset and the final destruction of all human freedoms, in the name of a ''virus'' you may not question without risking prison.
Little detail: 400,000 Americans did not die of ''Covid-19'' in 2020. Neither did half that number. Nor a third, nor one 10th. If we are generous to the scare-mongers, the real number is only 4.2% of the genocidal drama number, 400,000, namely: 16,848.
And if they were held to further scrutiny and forced to explain the difference between an influenza death and a Covid death, the number would go down even further, possibly down to zero.
The Natural Enemy of the PSYOP is the True ScientistUnbeknownst (of course) to the architects of the two Covid PSYOPS of 2020 and 2021, an atmospheric scientist in Greensprings, Oregon, himself unafraid of controversy, was putting the finishing touches on a Covid-19 paper he' d begun to write three months earlier.
The bombshell paper is titled: ''A Critical Review of CDC USA Data on Covid-19: PCR/Antigen Tests & Cases Reveal Herd Immunity Only, & Do Not Warrant Public Hysteria or Lockdown.'' It was posted on two of his academic webpages on 16 Jan 2021.
In it, Dr. James DeMeo, Ph.D., demolishes the central premise of global lockdown policies. That people are dying in massive and alarming numbers from a novel disease. He'd been waiting for the final statistics to come in for 2020. When they did, he noticed two spectacularly odd things : Firstly, if one subtracted the numbers of Covid deaths (around 315,000) from the total number of people who died from all causes in 2020 (around 2.9 million), one obtained a dramatically low number of total deaths, lower than in any year since 2014. It appeared to him that the reported number of ''Covid'' deaths were being re-defined and subtracted from other causes of deaths; the people who died of ''co-morbidities'' were being shifted over into the Covid category. Secondly, on January 3rd, the CDC released its year-end count of all-cause deaths in one dramatically high number '--268,259 to be exact.
These deaths did not appear anywhere in the CDC's records previously but turn up as a ''data dump'' in the very first days of 2021, as though there had been some catastrophic event or mass die-off of older Americans in a single week. In a very unsettling way, it echoed the middle of the night miraculous Joe Biden lead over Donald Trump between Nov 3 and 4, 2020.
''I have never seen anything like it,'' said Dr. DeMeo, when I reached him at home to discuss his paper, which a mutual friend had brought to my attention.
''It's extremely odd. The only thing I can compare it to is when people in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were trying to cover up large radiation discharges from nuclear power plants. They took the radiation levels and put a ''0.'' They were stupid; they didn't realize, background radiation never goes to zero.''
But where might those deaths have come from? I pressed.
''I could not tell you,'' DeMeo replied. ''The end of year data I used was the CDC's data as of Dec 26, and that was a figure of 2 million 900,000 deaths from all causes with 301,679 deaths from Covid. I went to Our World In Data'--they have a dynamic, interactive graph. You can hold your mouse over any part of the graph, and it will show you the numbers. That's how I got my numbers. It did not have this massive data dump. There was nothing like that.''
''I cannot know what the heck happened. Why would they dump so many all-cause deaths on that last week? There was no atom bomb going off, in Miami or some other place where a lot of old people live, to kill that many people at the tail end of December. I tried calling the AP reporter who first came out with an article around Christmas where he said there would be 3-3.2 million deaths in the US'--he made it sound like most would be from Covid.''
The Dec 22, 2020 article Dr. Demeo refers to was written by Mike Stobbe in AP. It opens:
''This is the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time'--due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic. Final mortality data for this year will not be available for months. But preliminary numbers suggest that the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019.''
''When people hear ''cases in the millions'' They start thinking of people who are dying and on the way to death or who have already died, and it's not true, but they're not even trying to clarify that to the public. They're very deliberately sending people into a panic. It's irresponsible as hell.''
DeMeo says he sent Stobbe an email, asking him what statistics he was referencing.
''I didn't get a response.''
DeMeo is well equipped to deconstruct Covid statistics if that word even applies anymore.
'' I'm a geographer and an atmospheric scientist by training; we work with data sets of all different kinds. Moisture, humidity, barometric pressure, and so on. Agriculture and human health, Climate factors around the world. I have a background in epidemiology, and I used to teach university courses covering epidemiology and population dynamics. So I'm used to looking at those kinds of numbers, and they just didn't make any sense. So that's how it all got uncovered.''
The mutual friend who brought the paper to my attention was Tom DiFerdinando, who's worked closely with Dr. DeMeo on various research projects for many years, and has a long history deconstructing medical tyranny. He is the President of a Non-Profit called ''Unmasking Covid and AIDS.'' His email, clarifying the ''trick,'' put it like this:
If there were 315,507 excess deaths due to Covid-19, why is the difference in all-cause deaths between the end of 2020 and the end of 2019 only 61,654? That's 61,654 more all-cause deaths in 2020 than in 2019, where the increase in all-cause deaths over each of the past ten years has averaged 44,806. That's a difference of 16,848 from the median in a year with an alleged 315,507 extra Covid-related deaths.
When you subtract the alleged 2020 Covid death total from the all-cause 2020 death total, i.e., 2,916,492 '' 315,507, you get 2,600,985.
That figure, 2,600,985, is less than the all-cause death counts each year going back to 2014! That means the total death count for all fatal diseases and accidents in 2020, excluding Covid-19, dropped mysteriously and substantially'--right about to the same degree that Covid-19 went up. For the Covid deaths to be genuinely new ''excess'' deaths, that all-cause total of 2.9 million'--which already includes ''Covid-19'' deaths'--should be something like 3.2 million, with an annual increase in 2020 of 376,000 deaths, not 61,000.
What these two points mean, of course, is that the 315,507 Covid death count does not represent Covid deaths but a displacement of deaths from other causes.
In his January 7 postscript, DeMeo catches the CDC red-handed. Earlier in the paper, he points out, as I did above, that there are nearly 300,000 missing deaths in the all-cause category for the numbers to pan out. On that day, Jan 7, he discovered the CDC had suddenly added 269,249 all-cause deaths into their end of year all-cause death totals!
Evidently, 269,249 people suddenly died in the last week of 2020. How convenient for the Covid narrative!
In a phone interview, DiFerdinando elaborated:
''Without those added deaths, there would be no evidence of a Covid pandemic,'' he said. ''This triangulation of facts: essentially no excess deaths beyond the normal annual background count; absolutely NO relationship between Covid ''confirmed'' cases and Covid ''confirmed'' deaths; and the mysterious, last-minute dump of 268,259 all-cause deaths into the 2020 end-of-year all-cause death totals; completely demolish any pretext of their having been a 2020 viral pandemic, whether caused by a novel coronavirus or by anything else and that therefore there is no rational reason to be putting masks on children, isolating elders, destroying businesses, locking down populations and shattering the public trust.''
Says Dr. DeMeo:
''The people who are dying of so-called Covid, it's all happening in the wintertime. So, all this correlates with the idea that this is a big error, a big mistake. Maybe with nefarious motivations. You don't even have to reference why to understand that it is indeed a falsehood, the whole construct of a Covid pandemic. The numbers do not lie; the numbers tell the story. Where are the massive, massive numbers of people dying, which you would correlate with positive PCR and antigen tests, which is what you would expect to happen. People who are dying of old age diseases, they're re-defining them as Covid 19, but the symptomatology is so exactly similar to influenza and other lung diseases.''
It comes down to a truly devastating assault of PSYOP by media and a fast-growing class of super-predators; Covid careerists. We must have our lives destroyed because they must assert and enrich themselves.
''I would not trust anything I read in the American newspapers or media, Johns Hopkins, CDC, WHO'--all untrustworthy,'' says DeMeo. ''Where are they coming up with 400,000 deaths?'' He continues. ''They're talking about approximately 318,000 people who died as of Jan 2. Where are they coming up with'...in 15 days they are saying they've identified another 75,000 dead? I don't think so. This is data magic.''
One of the most astonishing features of ''Covid 19'' is that nobody can quite define what it is or why it is so spectacular as to force almost the entire world into lock-down.
''I think what we're dealing with absolutely is a confusion of ordinary lung and heart diseases that take out a lot of old people as they approach the end of their lives,'' says DeMeo. ''And it's being redefined in very ugly ways.
''What's going on with influenza statistics? They've gone down to a very low number, the figure I found was 0.2%. Two-tenths of one percent, when at this time of year, we should be having something between 5 and 20 percent. In terms of the number of influenza deaths, that happens every winter. The numbers they are throwing out make no sense whatsoever.''
Shortly before press time, Dr. Demeo followed up, having cross-checked his numbers yet again. He wrote in an email:
''I now feel fully confident that my method for making that excess deaths calculation is the best and most scientific method possible, given all the other factors revealed in the paper. It may actually be the only scientifically-sound method, making the fewest assumptions. I could stand before Fauci or any of them with high confidence. They are like powdered-wig fops and dandies in the French Court of the Louies, commanding ''respect'' only due to position and faux-authority, but not by scientific accuracy or empathy for the ordinary people they were appointed to serve.''
From the towers of academic science to bold citizen journalism, ''Covid 19'' has been assailed all around the world as the least credible, most diabolical pack of lies ever launched upon innocent people.
Richard Citizen Journalist has posted many videos to his Twitter feed, inside US hospitals, always empty. His Profile says: ''Empty Hospitals Are The Smoking Gun.''
This video is his pinned Tweet:
Scientist, Social Theorist, and former Professor of Physics Denis Rancourt tweeted:
And one of my favorite ever Covid tweets came from Dr. Thomas Bender, one of the 22 authors of the paper, requesting withdrawal of the Corman/Drosten paper that spawned this whole nightmare with an unavailable viral isolate turned into a global hell-PSYOP, presumably for economic and socio-political reasons. He wrote:
Dr. Kevin Corbett, Ph.D., also an author of the challenge to the Corman/Drosten PCR paper, said in a telephone call from London:
''This paper joins the ranks of academic works around the world, all pointing to the same conclusion: They're lying. They're doing it very deliberately, and we all know statistics are a convenient tool of the Big Lie. At this point, the actual statistical and epidemiological case for Covid-19 being a real pandemic is closed. To honest people, it's closed. We're done.''
The PSYOP, however, is a beast that must be fed daily, hourly, new variations of mangled, manipulated numbers, new scenarios intended to scare you anew into submission. The PSYOP depends upon you reacting with fear and guilt. Don't be afraid, therefore, and don't feel guilty for not being afraid. None of us know when our lives will end, but let us remain fully human'--alive, loving, and trusting'--until that time comes.
As Albert Camus wrote in his most famous novel, The Plague, where the real plague winds up being something well beyond the illness:
''And he knew, also, what the old man was thinking as his tears flowed, and he, Rieux, thought it too: that a loveless world is a dead world, and always there comes an hour when one is weary of prisons, of one's work, and of devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth, and wonder of a loving heart.''
Fact check: No evidence 2-year-old died after getting COVID-19 vaccine
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 12:26
The claim: A 2-year-old girl in Virginia died after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during clinical trialsAs pharmaceutical companies test vaccine effectiveness in adolescents and children, a post has surfaced on social media claiming a 2-year-old girl in Virginia died after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents ages 12-15 by mid-May, but studies for children ages 6 months to 11 years are still underway.
The claim originated in an article April 30 from Natural News shared as a screen grab to Facebook on May 1 and headlined, ''Two-year-old baby DIES during Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine experiments on children.''
The article claims the child received her second dose of Pfizer's vaccine on Feb. 25, suffered ''some kind of serious adverse reaction'' on March 1 and died March 3. The report also said she had been hospitalized since Feb. 14, suggesting "she may have gotten sick from the first shot."
The claim relies entirely on an entry from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which allows anyone to submit an unverified report.
Fact check:No, the COVID-19 vaccines won't give you genital herpes
In a message to USA TODAY, the user cited Natural News, which is rated by Media Bias/ Fact Check as a ''questionable source based on the promotion of quackery level pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, as well as extreme right-wing bias.'' Natural News did not return a request for comment.
VAERS report is not authenticThe original VAERS report of a 2-year-old dying after receiving the Pfizer vaccine no longer exists. CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said via email that it was removed from the system for being "completely made up."
VAERS is an "early warning system" established in 1990 in response to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act to detect possible vaccine safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines, according to the CDC.
But there are limits to the data, and it is not possible to use the system to determine whether the vaccine caused or contributed to a reported death.
"A report to VAERS does not mean that the vaccine caused the adverse event, only that the adverse event occurred some time after vaccination," a CDC disclaimer says. "The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable."
The agency adds that because a majority of VAERS reports are voluntary, "they are subject to biases" that result in "specific limitations on how the data can be used scientifically."
Fact check:CDC data on adverse effects of vaccine cannot determine cause
There have been instances of people abusing the VAERS database and filing false reports. For example, anesthesiologist James Laidler submitted a report claiming a flu shot turned him into the Incredible Hulk, Vice reported.
Inaccuracies in the reportAside from the VAERS entry about the 2-year-old being discredited, the original report contained inaccuracies.
The article claims the child received the second dose on Feb. 25, but Pfizer did not start vaccine trials with children 6 months to 11 years until March, according to the company's site.
Results from those trials are expected in the second half of 2021. Pfizer says it hopes "to receive authorization for vaccination of these younger kids by early 2022."
Similarly, Moderna did not give the first doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to children under 12 years old until mid-March.
Fact check:COVID-19 vaccinated people don't 'shed' virus, infect others
From Dec. 14, 2020, through May 3, VAERS received 4,178 reports of deaths among those who received a COVID-19 vaccine. But the CDC says a review of medical records, autopsies and death certificates related to reports "has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines."
Our rating: FalseThe claim that a 2-year-old girl died after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is FALSE, based on our research. The CDC said the report was removed from the VAERS database for being "completely made up." VAERS allows anyone to submit an unverified report, and the data can contain inaccurate information. Clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine in that age group had not started at the time the report claimed the vaccine was administered to the child. Further, the CDC says it has not identified a correlation between reported patient deaths and COVID-19 vaccines.
Our fact-check sources: Snopes, April 20, Did a 2-Year-Old in Virginia Die After Getting COVID-19 Vaccination? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed May 6, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting SystemCDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund, May 6, email correspondence Vice, Feb. 3, Anti-Vaxxers Misuse Federal Data to Falsely Claim COVID Vaccines Are DangerousPfizer.com, accessed May 6, Studies in additional populationsUSA TODAY, March 16, When can children get COVID-19 vaccine? Will it be safe? Here's what experts want you to knowCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, May 5, Reported Adverse EventsUSA TODAY, April 8, Fact check: CDC data on adverse effects of vaccine cannot determine causeThank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
What Happens When Doctors Can't Tell the Truth? - Common Sense with Bari Weiss
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 12:32
Several hundred health-care workers protest against police brutality on June 5, 2020, in St Louis. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)I always thought that if you lived through a revolution it would be obvious to everyone. As it turns out, that's not true. Revolutions can be bloodless, incremental and subtle. And they don't require a strongman. They just require a sufficient number of well-positioned true believers and cowards, like those sitting in the C-suite of nearly every major institution in American life.
That's one of the lessons I have learned over the past few years as the institutions that have upheld the liberal order '-- our publishing houses, our universities, our schools, our non-profits, our tech companies '-- have embraced a Manichean ideology that divides people by identity and punishes anyone that doesn't adhere to every aspect of that orthodoxy.
This is wrong when it happens at a company Apple or Cond(C) Nast. But there are sectors where the stakes of the ideological takeover are higher. Like K-12 education.
Readers of this newsletter know that I've been particularly focused on it. In part, this is because the legacy press is ignoring or lying about the story. In part it's because the stakes feel so high.
But if any area is more urgent, it is the world of medicine, where the ability to speak truthfully is quite literally a matter of life and death. Without being able to discuss reality and take intellectual risks, it's impossible to get to the truth. No truth, no medical progress.
For several months, I have been talking to a group of doctors who are alarmed at what they are witnessing in some of the top medical schools and hospitals in the country. It was clear that this was a story that deserved to be told. And Katie Herzog was the perfect person to pursue it.
Katie could have had a career as a stand-up, but for some reason she decided to become a journalist. And she is a fearless one. I first learned of her work when she was writing for The Stranger in Seattle, covering topics including detransition, the scandal at Evergreen State College, and the impact of what we now call cancel culture on some small businesses in the Pacific Northwest. She is now, along with Jesse Singal, the host of a podcast called Blocked and Reported.
This story is the first in a series.
'People Are Afraid to Speak Honestly'
They meet once a month on Zoom: a dozen doctors from around the country with distinguished careers in different specialities. They vary in ethnicity, age and sexual orientation. Some work for the best hospitals in the U.S. or teach at top medical schools. Others are dedicated to serving the most vulnerable populations in their communities.
The meetings are largely a support group. The members share their concerns about what's going on in their hospitals and universities, and strategize about what to do. What is happening, they say, is the rapid spread of a deeply illiberal ideology in the country's most important medical institutions.
This dogma goes by many imperfect names '-- wokeness, social justice, critical race theory, anti-racism '-- but whatever it's called, the doctors say this ideology is stifling critical thinking and dissent in the name of progress. They say that it's turning students against their teachers and patients and racializing even the smallest interpersonal interactions. Most concerning, they insist that it is threatening the foundations of patient care, of research, and of medicine itself.
These aren't secret bigots who long for the ''good old days'' that were bad for so many. They are largely politically progressive, and they are the first to say that there are inequities in medicine that must be addressed. Sometimes it's overt racism from colleagues or patients, but more often the problem is deeper, baked into the very systems clinicians use to determine treatment.
''There's a calculator that people have used for decades that predicts the likelihood of having a successful vaginal delivery after you've had a cesarean,'' one obstetrician in the Northeast told me. ''You put in the age of the person, how much they weigh, and their race. And if they're black, it calculates that they are less likely to have successful vaginal delivery. That means clinicians are more likely to counsel black patients to get c-sections, a surgery they might not actually need.''
There's no biological reason for race to be a factor here, which is why the calculator just changed this year. But this is an example of how system-wide bias can harm black mothers, who are two to three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women even when you control for factors like income and education, which often make racial disparities disappear.
But while this obstetrician and others see the problems endemic in their field, they're also alarmed by the dogma currently spreading throughout medical schools and hospitals.
I've heard from doctors who've been reported to their departments for criticizing residents for being late. (It was seen by their trainees as an act of racism.) I've heard from doctors who've stopped giving trainees honest feedback for fear of retaliation. I've spoken to those who have seen clinicians and residents refuse to treat patients based on their race or their perceived conservative politics.
Some of these doctors say that there is a ''purge'' underway in the world of American medicine: question the current orthodoxy and you will be pushed out. They are so worried about the dangers of speaking out about their concerns that they will not let me identify them except by the region of the country where they work.
''People are afraid to speak honestly,'' said a doctor who immigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union. ''It's like back to the USSR, where you could only speak to the ones you trust.'' If the authorities found out, you could lose your job, your status, you could go to jail or worse. The fear here is not dissimilar.
When doctors do speak out, shared another, ''the reaction is savage. And you better be tenured and you better have very thick skin.''
''We're afraid of what's happening to other people happening to us,'' a doctor on the West Coast told me. ''We are seeing people being fired. We are seeing people's reputations being sullied. There are members of our group who say, 'I will be asked to leave a board. I will endanger the work of the nonprofit that I lead if this comes out.' People are at risk of being totally marginalized and having to leave their institutions.''
While the hyper focus on identity is seen by many proponents of social justice ideology as a necessary corrective to America's past sins, some people working in medicine are deeply concerned by what ''justice'' and ''equity'' actually look like in practice.
''The intellectual foundation for this movement is the Marxist view of the world, but stripped of economics and replaced with race determinism,'' one psychologist explained. ''Because you have a huge group of people, mostly people of color, who have been underserved, it was inevitable that this model was going to be applied to the world of medicine. And it has been.''
'Whole Areas of Research Are Off-Limits'
''Wokeness feels like an existential threat,'' a doctor from the Northwest said. ''In health care, innovation depends on open, objective inquiry into complex problems, but that's now undermined by this simplistic and racialized worldview where racism is seen as the cause of all disparities, despite robust data showing it's not that simple.''
''Whole research areas are off-limits,'' he said, adding that some of what is being published in the nation's top journals is ''shoddy as hell.''
Here, he was referring in part to a study published last year in the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. The study was covered all over the news, with headlines like ''Black Newborns More Likely to Die When Looked After by White Doctors'' (CNN), ''The Lack of Black Doctors is Killing Black Babies'' (Fortune), and ''Black Babies More Likely to Survive when Cared for by Black Doctors'' (The Guardian).
Despite these breathless headlines, the study was so methodologically flawed that, according to several of the doctors I spoke with, it's impossible to extrapolate any conclusions about how the race of the treating doctor impacts patient outcomes at all. And yet very few people were willing to publicly criticize it. As Vinay Prasad, a clinician and a professor at the University of California San Francisco, put it on Twitter: ''I am aware of dozens of people who agree with my assessment of this paper and are scared to comment.''
''It's some of the most shoddy, methodologically flawed research we've ever seen published in these journals,'' the doctor in the Zoom meeting said, ''with sensational conclusions that seem totally unjustified from the results of the study.''
''It's frustrating because we all know how hard it is to get good, sound research published,'' he added. ''So do those rules and quality standards no longer apply to this topic, or to these authors, or for a certain time period?''
At the same time that the bar appears to be lower for articles and studies that push an anti-racist agenda, the consequences for questioning or criticizing that agenda can be high.
Just ask Norman Wang. Last year, the University of Pittsburgh cardiologist was demoted by his department after he published a paper in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) analyzing and criticizing diversity initiatives in cardiology. Looking at 50 years of data, Wang argued that affirmative action and other diversity initiatives have failed to both meaningfully increase the percentage of black and Hispanic clinicians in his field or to improve patient outcomes. Rather than admitting, hiring and promoting clinicians based on their race, he argued for race-neutral policies in medicine.
''Long-term academic solutions and excellence should not be sacrificed for short-term demographic optics,'' Wang wrote. ''Ultimately, all who aspire to a profession in medicine and cardiology must be assessed as individuals on the basis of their personal merits, not their racial and ethnic identities.''
At first, there was little response. But four months after it was published, screenshots of the paper began circulating on Twitter and others in the field began accusing Wang of racism. Sharonne Hayes, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, implored colleagues to ''rise up.'' ''The fact that this is published in 'our' journal should both enrage & activate all of us,'' she wrote, adding the hashtag #RetractRacists.
Soon after, Barry London, the editor in chief of JAHA, issued an apology and the journal retracted the work over Wang's objection. London cited no specific errors in Wang's paper in his statement, just that publishing it was antithetical to his and the journal's values. Retraction, in a case like this, is exceedingly rare: When papers are retracted, it's generally because of the data or the study has been discredited. A search of the journal's website and the Retraction Database found records of just two retractions in JAHA: Wang's paper and a 2019 paper that erroneously linked heart attacks to vaping.
After the outcry, the American Heart Association (AHA), which publishes the journal, issued a statement denouncing Wang's paper and promising an investigation. In a tweet, the organization said it ''does NOT represent AHA values. JAHA is editorially independent but that's no excuse. We'll investigate. We'll do better. We're invested in helping to build a diverse health care and research community.''
As the criticism mounted, Wang was removed from his position as the director of a fellowship program in clinical cardiac electrophysiology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and was prohibited from making any contact with students. His boss reportedly told him that his classroom was ''inherently unsafe'' due to the views he expressed.
Wang is now suing both the AHA and the University of Pittsburgh for defamation and violating his First Amendment rights. To the doctors on the Zoom call, his case was a stark warning of what can happen when one questions policies like affirmative action, which, according to recent polling, is opposed by nearly two-thirds of Americans, including majorities of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.
''I'm into efforts to make medicine more diverse,'' a doctor from the Zoom group said. ''But what's gone off the rails here is that there is an intolerance of people that have another point of view. And that's going to hurt us all.''
JAHA isn't the only journal issuing apologies. In February, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a podcast hosted by surgeon and then-deputy journal editor Edward Livingston, who questioned the value of the hyper focus on race in medicine as well as the idea that medicine is systemically racist.
''Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help,'' Livingston said at one point. ''Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racist.''
It's possible Livingston's comments would have gone unnoticed but JAMA promoted the podcast on Twitter with the tone-deaf text: ''No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?''
Even more than in the case of Norman Wang, this tweet, and the podcast it promoted, led to a massive uproar. A number of researchers vowed to boycott the journal, and a petition condemning JAMA has received over 9,000 signatures. In response to the backlash, JAMA quickly deleted the episode, promised to investigate, and asked Livingston to resign from his job. He did.
If you try to access the podcast today, you find an apology in its place from JAMA editor-in-chief Howard Bauchner, who called Livingston's statements, ''inaccurate, offensive, hurtful and inconsistent with the standards of JAMA.'' Bauchner was also suspended by JAMA pending an independent investigation. This Tuesday, JAMA announced that Bauchner officially stepped down. In a statement, he said he is ''profoundly disappointed in myself for the lapses that led to the publishing of the tweet and podcast. Although I did not write or even see the tweet, or create the podcast, as editor in chief, I am ultimately responsible for them.''
Shortly after this announcement, the New York Times reported that ''JAMA's reckoning'' led to a backlash from some JAMA members, who wrote in a letter to the organization that ''there is a general feeling that the firing of the editors involved in the podcast was perhaps precipitous, possibly a blot on free speech and also possibly an example of reverse discrimination.'' Bauchner's last day at JAMA is June 30.
Calling Out Patients
What happened to Norman Wang, Edward Livingston, and Howard Bauchner contribute to what one clinician described as a ''a chilly atmosphere.'' That chill extends to teaching the next generation of doctors.
''Some attending physicians are hesitant to provide constructive criticism to trainees over fears of being perceived as racist,'' a doctor in the Northeast said. ''You ask yourself, 'Is this worth bringing up?' You second guess yourself.''
The doctor said this ideology has impacted how some trainees and physicians respond when they encounter bias from patients, which is hardly uncommon for people working in health care. Female doctors are mistaken for nurses. Black doctors are mistaken for aides. Patients refuse care from doctors who aren't white.
A Jewish doctor in the Northeast told me about encountering antisemitism at work.
''Years ago, I had a guy slowly roll up his sleeve and put his arm down on the table in front of me and he had a big swastika tattoo. And he says my name and repeats it slowly three times. Clearly he is saying he knows I'm Jewish. And I looked at his arm and said, 'Does it hurt to get a tattoo? I never learned much about that.' He actually chuckled.''
The doctor kept seeing the patient, who gradually stopped doing drugs, got a job, and pieced his life together. ''Twelve years later,'' he said, ''I was leaving that program and on our last visit, he had a terrible rash on his arm. I said we had to treat that rash, and this big, tough guy started crying. He said, 'I knew I was going to see you. I was trying to rub it off.' How about that? People are changeable, but it takes time and it can't be done by scolding.''
This was what he was taught in his training years ago: You meet patients where they are, help them as much as you can, and hope they are better off for the encounter.
That philosophy, however, is changing. Increasingly, the doctors told me, this next generation of trainees seem to believe it's also their duty to confront patients about their own prejudice '-- whether they're open to it or not.
Last year at Harvard Medical School, a seasoned psychiatrist interviewed an elderly white patient about his battle with substance abuse on Zoom. The patient talked about shame. He felt so much guilt over his drinking and his past behavior, he said that the only person he could have ever confided in was an Eskimo in Alaska who didn't speak English '-- and even then, he would have to slit his throat.
It was the sort of thing health-care workers occasionally hear. Historically, the guideline in a situation like that would be to ignore it: They were there to discuss addiction, not the patient's insensitivity. But a Native American student named Victor Anthony Lopez-Carmen observing the session on Zoom was disturbed. He wrote about it later in Teen Vogue: ''His words sparked an immediate, visceral reaction. I felt my blood pressure rise and anxiety overtake my mind and body. My next reaction was to look at how the rest of my classmates were responding. The blank, remote expression on some of their faces, and the silence that followed, remains burned into my psyche.''
When neither the psychiatrist nor any of his fellow students paused in the moment to educate the elderly man about his ''violent and racist language,'' as Lopez-Carmen described it, he complained. In response, the school organized a session for faculty and students on, Lopez-Carmen writes, ''confronting anti-Indigenous racism in the field of medicine.''
Should clinicians police their patients' language to protect the feelings of their health-care providers? One doctor from the Zoom chat said, unequivocally, no.
''How would chastising, and possibly shaming, a patient '-- however expertly '-- affect their comfort in confiding sensitive information important to their care? Patients' life experiences, stories, attitudes, beliefs, whatever they may be, are data that help us take good care of them.''
As major medical institutions formalize their commitments to social justice ideology, the sentiment that medical professionals need to put aside their feelings in service of treating patients seems increasingly old-fashioned. Some institutions, including Harvard Medical School, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest association of physicians and medical students in the U.S., have released statements acknowledging their own history of racism, a trend one of the doctors described as ''confessional.''
In an 83-page report released in May, the AMA pledged address its ''white supremacist'' past, which includes horrific 19th-century practices like performing surgeries on enslaved people without anesthesia as well as the organization's endorsement of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. But it's not just ancient history the organization is concerned about: the report also mentions the JAMA podcast that cost Edward Livingston and Howard Bauchner their jobs, referring to the podcast as an ''egregious, harmful error.''
The report recommendations rely heavily on diversity training, but as one of the doctors on the Zoom call said, ''more diversity trainings are not going to change anything, but they are going to waste time we already don't have to spare.''
There are, of course, an array of diversity trainings, including some that simply lay out anti-discrimination laws and others that require white people to confess their privilege. Trainings that may have seemed obviously racist just a few years ago '-- like separating employees into ''affinity groups'' or ''caucuses'' based on race '-- are now commonplace, including at large corporations, small non-profits, and medical institutions. (My wife, a nurse in Seattle, recently joined the ''white caucus'' at her hospital, and noted that she felt very strange asking to join a whites-only group.)
The diversity industry is now worth billions of dollars, but there have been surprisingly few evaluations of whether or not such trainings actually work. The research that has been done is not encouraging. One study found that these trainings can be counterproductive; another found that positive effects don't seem to last.
What's more, the doctors said, statements like the AMA's seem destined to create backlash. ''You have to wonder about the unintended consequences of these organizations falling over themselves to declare that they're structurally and systemically racist,'' one of the doctors said. ''Clearly, they think they're going to get virtue-signaling points. But is it possible these claims are also playing into vaccine hesitancy among people of color? I mean, would you want to get vaccinated at an institution that's enthusiastically broadcasting to the world, 'We're racist!' I wouldn't.''
'I'm Not Going to Treat That White Guy'
There's clearly a generation gap between these doctors on Zoom, the youngest of whom has been practicing for at least 10 years, and doctors just beginning their career. The older clinicians are more likely to appear politically neutral, at least at work, while younger students and clinicians are more likely to prioritize activism. Those differences can be a major source of tension.
One prominent organization, White Coats for Black Lives, was formed by medical students in 2014 and now has at least 75 chapters all over the U.S. In addition to publishing a Racial Justice Report Card that grades medical schools, the group encourages medical students to make specific demands of their institutions, including that medical schools and hospitals end all relationships with local law enforcement.
When asked what severing ties with police would do in his urban emergency room, one ER doctor said it would be a ''total disaster.'' Police, he told me, are a vital part of emergency operations, from securing crime scenes so emergency responders can see victims to helping transport patients to keeping hospital staff and patients safe when private security is inadequate.
''I was in a situation once where an ambulance brought in a gunshot victim,'' he said. ''We brought the patient in, and about 15 minutes later, a group came looking for him. They came to finish him. They were going from room to room, looking for him, and when a couple of guys from hospital security tried to get them to leave, one shot a gun in the air. Luckily enough, we heard police sirens bringing someone else in, and when they heard the sirens, they ran. If not for the police, I don't know what would have happened.''
As another example of the generation gap, an ER doctor on the West Coast said he sees providers, particularly younger ones, applying antiracist principles in choosing how they allocate their time and which patients they choose to work with. ''I've heard examples of Covid-19 cases in the emergency department where providers go, 'I'm not going to go treat that white guy, I'm going to treat the person of color instead because whatever happened to the white guy, he probably deserves it.'''
Some in medicine would like to see such race-conscious bias mandated on an institutional level, particularly in regards to Covid-19, which has killed black, Hispanic, and Native American people at three times the rate as whites. These discrepancies are likely due to an array of factors, including income, housing, work, language, pre-existing conditions, access to health care, and, yes, possibly some degree of racism.
But some politicians and public health officials decided the remedy was to distribute vaccines by race.
In April, Vermont's Republican Governor Phill Scott announced that any resident over age 16 who identified as a black, indigenous, or a person of color would be eligible for the vaccine before white people, a decision that, according to some legal scholars, likely violated federal law. The CDC itself considered recommending that states prioritize essential workers over the elderly despite the fact that the number one risk factor for dying from Covid is age. The idea had plenty of supporters. Harold Schmidt, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times, ''Older populations are whiter. Society is structured in a way that enables them to live longer. Instead of giving additional health benefits to those who already had more of them, we can start to level the playing field a bit.''
Ultimately, the CDC did recommend prioritizing vaccines by age, but race-conscious policies go beyond Covid. In May, the Boston Review published an editorial by physicians Bram Wispelwey and Michelle Morse entitled ''An Antiracist Agenda for Medicine.'' In it, the doctors argue that in order to address discrepancies in health-care access and outcomes, hospitals should commit to ''preferentially admitting patients historically denied access to certain forms of medical care.'' That is, they should admit people to health services based on their skin color.
This idea is not coming from people with no power.
Michelle Morse is a physician at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. She was recently appointed to be the first Chief Medical Officer of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. ''Dr. Morse's experience has combined the best of public health, social medicine, anti-racism education, and activism,'' said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi in a press release. ''Health equity requires leaders who propel change and I am grateful that she has joined the Department to help us create a healthier, more equitable, city.''
In the same article in the Boston Review, Dr. Morse and her co-author write that because a study they conducted found that white heart failure patients are more likely to be referred to cardiology specialists than some minority groups, in their own practice they have developed ''a preferential admission option for Black and Latinx heart failure patients to our specialty cardiology service.'' So when these patients seek care, they are now far more likely to be referred to specialists and admitted to an inpatient service, regardless of whether that's the most appropriate strategy for their condition, or their primary care providers' recommendations, or their own personal preferences.
What the authors don't mention is that while their own study does show that white heart failure patients are more likely to be referred to specialists, this alone doesn't demonstrate they're more likely to have better outcomes: More whites in that very study died soon after discharge. This, according to one physician, is exactly what's wrong with race-conscious policies.
''We have been working for almost a decade now to keep people from getting unnecessary care and unnecessary hospitalization because there are all these unintended consequences,'' he said. ''You can get infected with an antibiotic-resistant bug; you can get the wrong medication; errors happen. We're trying to keep people out of the hospital if they don't need to be there. So when you enact a policy like the one proposed by Michelle Morse, you're just opening that person up to all these potentially negative consequences.''
In other words, in an effort to address racial disparities, it's possible the very patients they are attempting to help will suffer more, not less.
A Moral Panic
The day I spoke to the doctors, I'd spent the morning caught in a labyrinth of hold calls, trying to find a new primary care doctor after my insurance had changed for the fourth time in five years. And I was one of the lucky ones: At least I have insurance, something nearly 30 million Americans in this country lack. Besides the problems with accessing health care at all, the doctors themselves told me the disparities in medicine aren't imagined. Minority populations, especially poor ones, do have worse outcomes than whites in all sorts of metrics.
''We've got this opportunity right now to advance really important, progressive reforms,'' one doctor said. ''Every American understands that the system doesn't work, that we need better public health, we need better primary care.'' But this physician is concerned that ''the people leading the woke effort have a deeply unsophisticated understanding of how change occurs in this country. It's dangerous. I'm fearful there's going to be a counter-reaction that's going to be huge and vicious and ugly.''
Others fear the same. Another doctor on the call, a psychologist, called the new orthodoxy a ''moral panic'' and ''symbolic crusade,'' like Prohibition, in which the outcome is less important than the sacredness of the movement.
''What happens with symbolic crusades is they overreach and you get a tremendous backlash,'' he continued. ''If hospitals actually adopt a policy of what can be construed as favoring black people in the ICU, can you imagine what conservative media would do with that? It would play into every fear that what this is really about is suppressing liberty, chilling free speech. I didn't used to think those fears were legitimate. Now I do. I get it.''
Inslee announces vaccination incentives | by WA Governor's Office | Washington State Governor's Office | Jun, 2021 | Medium
Thu, 03 Jun 2021 21:46
Incentives include lottery drawings, higher education financial assistance, game systems and smart speakers, and event and flight ticketsGov. Jay Inslee today announced a suite of new incentives to help encourage unvaccinated Washingtonians to get the COVID shot.
The Washington State Lottery will be conducting a ''Shot of a Lifetime'' giveaway series during the month of June, working with state agencies, technology companies, sports teams and higher education institutions across the state to offer a myriad of different prizes to vaccinated individuals.
The incentives announced today include:
Lottery cash drawings, with prizes totaling $2 millionHigher education tuition and expense assistanceSports tickets and gearGift cardsAirline ticketsGame systems and smart speakers''These generous programs will encourage more Washingtonians to take this life-saving vaccine,'' Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. ''I hope people will see this as an opportunity to reopen even sooner than June 30th if we can stay motivated, stay informed and get more people vaccinated faster throughout the month of June.''
According to the most recent data from the Department of Health (DOH), approximately 63% of Washingtonians 16 years and older have initiated their vaccinations. The state hopes that the incentives announced today will entice unvaccinated people to initiate their vaccinations and raise the statewide rate to save more lives and protect more people.
Washington is set to reopen fully on June 30, or when the percentage of eligible adults who have initiated vaccination reaches 70%, whichever comes first.
Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said that he hopes incentives unveiled today help push Washington closer to the 70% reopening goal.
''Our state has made tremendous progress, with well over half of our population 16 and older fully vaccinated, but there are still far too many people who have not started vaccination,'' Shah said. ''We hope this effort encourages people to get their vaccine to protect themselves and their communities as we push toward reopening at the end of this month.''
Cash prizesStarting next week, the Lottery will conduct one drawing for $250,000 every week for four weeks for all vaccinated individuals. At the end of the four weeks, there will be an additional, final drawing for a $1 million prize.
Vaccinated Washingtonians don't need to do anything to be entered in the four drawings. The Lottery will automatically gather names from the DOH statewide immunization database.
The governor was joined by Marcus Glasper, director of the Washington State Lottery, for the announcement.
''Washington's Lottery is proud to partner with the Governor's Office and the Department of Health on this important promotion,'' Glasper said. ''As the state's principal agency on conducting lottery drawings, we are honored to be able to play even a small role in administering a promotion that helps ensure that our state's residents are healthy and protected as we continue to move towards ending the pandemic.''
Higher education assistanceInslee also announced a suite of higher education incentives, including tuition and book assistance at institutions across the state.
Nearly $1 million will be dispersed directly to the public four-year universities and two-year community and technical colleges to run their own drawing for free tuition and expenses for vaccinated students.
The state will also be offering 30 prizes of one year of tuition college credits to 12''17-year-olds through the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET program). These credits will go directly to families.
TicketsAlso included in the incentives announced today are various ticket prizes offered by Washington companies and sports teams.
Potential prizes include:
2 free airline tickets to anywhere Alaska fliesSeattle Mariners
4 tickets to an upcoming gameFull suite to an upcoming gameSeattle Sounders
4 tickets to a game in August, plus two autographed jerseysSeattle Storm
10 tickets a game for the rest of the seasonSeattle Seahawks
4 club level seats, plus parking passesSeattle Kraken
Concert ticketsOL Reign
Four 2021 season tickets, plus a team-signed jerseyGame systems and smart speakersThe governor also announced that several technology companies are offering technology and software to help the state's efforts to get people vaccinated.
Microsoft will be giving away 300 Xboxs and GamePasses to vaccinated individuals, and Nintendo will be giving away Nintendo Switches. Google will give away 25 Google Nests and Amazon will be giving away 40 Echo Dots.
Gift CardsIn addition to the above incentives, the Washington State Department of Commerce partnering with the Association of Washington Business (AWB) and local Chambers of Commerce will be purchasing $1 million of gift cards to local businesses through local chambers of commerce to be given away at vaccine locations. Commerce and AWB will be sharing additional details soon about the locations and dates where this program will roll out.
The Washington State Department of Health will also have $500,000 in gift cards to give away over the summer as part of their Care-a-Van mobile vaccination effort. The gift cards will be for different kinds of retail offerings '-- from groceries to fishing gear to top soil.
The Washington State Parks will also be giving away 80 ''one week of free camping'' gift cards, worth $250 each, and the Washington Department for Fish and Wildlife will be giving away 80 $100 gift certificates for fishing and hunting licenses. Also included will be 400 Discover Passes, which allow access to recreation on State public lands.
''Choices have consequences. The vaccine is our best and safest chance to get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity,'' Inslee said. ''It is a personal choice, but one that affects the lives of millions. The choices we make affect our neighbors, our friends and our families. So, I hope more people make the right choice, to learn more about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and to get vaccinated.''
If you or a loved one has yet to get vaccinated, make an appointment at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.
EligibilityAll vaccine incentive prizes will be drawn from the DOH immunization database to determine winners. The only action that Washingtonians need to take to win any of the prizes is to get vaccinated. All individuals who have been previously vaccinated are eligible.
The incentives are open to all Washington residents regardless of citizenship, but proof of Washington residency is required.
Employees currently working at the Office of the Governor, Washington State Lottery and Department of Health and their households are not eligible for these incentives.
First U.S. Vaccine Donations Will Go to 'Wide Range' of Nations in Need - The New York Times
Thu, 03 Jun 2021 22:24
Latin America, South and Southeast Asia and Africa will be among the recipients of an initial 25 million excess doses that the Biden administration is sharing this month.
People receiving Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine last month in San Miguelito, Panama. Most of the Biden administration's first overseas vaccine shipment will be given to the international vaccine effort known as Covax. Credit... Bienvenido Velasco/EPA, via Shutterstock June 3, 2021, 6:02 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON '-- The White House, besieged with requests from other nations to share its supply of coronavirus vaccine, announced Thursday that it would distribute an initial 25 million doses this month across a ''wide range of countries'' in Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa, as well as the Palestinian territories, war-ravaged Gaza and the West Bank.
The doses are the first of a total 80 million that President Biden has pledged to send overseas by the end of this month. Three-quarters of the initial batch will be given to the international vaccine effort known as Covax, officials said at a White House briefing on the pandemic, though administration officials are helping decide where to send them.
The rest will be reserved for ''immediate needs and to help with surges around the world'' and regions dealing with ''urgent, present crises,'' said Jake Sullivan, the president's national security adviser, including in India, Ukraine and Iraq as well as the West Bank and Gaza.
But the donation is nowhere close to enough. About 11 billion doses are needed to vaccinate 70 percent of the world's population against the coronavirus, according to estimates from researchers at Duke University. As of last month, the analytics firm Airfinity estimated that 1.7 billion doses had been produced.
Thursday's announcement comes a week before Mr. Biden leaves for Cornwall, England, to meet with the heads of state of the Group of 7 industrialized nations, where the global vaccine supply is certain to be a topic of discussion. Officials said the Biden administration would donate additional doses throughout the summer as they become available.
''This is just the beginning,'' said Jeffrey Zients, Mr. Biden's coronavirus response coordinator. ''Expect a regular cadence of shipments around the world, across the next several weeks.''
While China and Russia have used vaccine donations as an instrument of diplomacy in an effort to extract favors from other nations, Mr. Biden has insisted the United States will not do that '-- a point that Mr. Sullivan emphasized on Thursday in describing the White House strategy.
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults have had at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and the rate of new cases and deaths has plummeted, contributing to an overall picture across the country that is ''encouraging and uplifting,'' Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday.
But the picture around the world, especially in poorer nations in Africa and Central and South America, where vaccination rates are much lower, is bleak. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay are all awash in new cases; in Colombia, nearly 500 people a day have died of the coronavirus over the past several weeks. A sudden, sharp rise in coronavirus cases in many parts of Africa could amount to a continental third wave, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday.
Some African nations have less than 1 percent of their populations partly vaccinated, according to data from the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford, and the percentages of vaccinated people in Honduras and Guatemala are around 3 percent of the population.
Mr. Sullivan said the administration had decided to give priority to ''neighbors'' of the United States, including countries like Guatemala and Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, while also working with existing regional networks like the African Union to allow local authorities to allocate the vaccines as they see fit.
Mr. Biden came into office vowing to restore America's position as a leader in global health, and he has been under increasing pressure from activists, as well as some business leaders, to do more to address the global vaccine shortage. This year, he said he was reluctant to give away vaccine doses until the United States had enough for its own population, though he promised in March to send a total of four million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine to Mexico and Canada.
Those doses, it turned out, were made at a Baltimore facility owned by Emergent BioSolutions, where production has since been put on hold after an incident of contamination.
Mr. Biden's pledge to donate 80 million doses this month involves vaccines made by four manufacturers. Besides AstraZeneca, they are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the last three of which have received U.S. emergency authorization for their vaccines.
The president has made several announcements to help reach his goal. He said last month that his administration would send 20 million doses of the authorized vaccines overseas in June '-- the first time he had pledged to give away doses that could be used in the United States. Officials said Thursday that the number rose to 25 million because more authorized doses have become available.
Mr. Biden also announced last month that he would send one million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine to South Korea; a plane carrying those doses was expected to take off Thursday evening, Mr. Zients said.
And the president has pledged to donate up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine. But those doses, also made at the Emergent plant, are not authorized for domestic use and cannot be released to other countries until regulators deem them safe. If they are not cleared for release, Mr. Biden would have to agree to donate more of the three vaccines used here to fulfill his 80 million promise.
The president has described the vaccine donations as part of an ''entirely new effort'' to increase vaccine supplies and vastly expand manufacturing capacity, most of it in the United States. To further broaden supply, Mr. Biden recently announced he would support waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. He also put Mr. Zients in charge of developing a global vaccine strategy.
But activists say simply donating excess doses and supporting the waiver are not enough. They argue that Mr. Biden must create the conditions for pharmaceutical companies to transfer their intellectual property to vaccine makers overseas, so that other countries can establish their own vaccine manufacturing operations.
''Peter Maybarduk, the director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines program, called Thursday for the administration to invest $25 billion in ''urgent public vaccine manufacturing at sites worldwide'' to make eight billion doses of vaccine using mRNA technology within a year, and to ''share those vaccine recipes with the world.''
Asked recently whether the United States was prepared to do that, Andrew Slavitt, a senior health adviser to the president, sidestepped the question, saying only that the United States would ''play a leadership role'' but still needed ''global partners across the world.''
On Thursday, Mr. Zients said the United States was lifting the Defense Production Act's ''priority rating'' for three vaccine makers '-- AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sanofi '-- that do not make coronavirus vaccines authorized for U.S. use. The shift means that companies in the United States that supply the vaccine makers will be able to ''make their own decisions on which orders to fulfill first,'' Mr. Zients said.
That could free up supplies for foreign vaccine makers, allowing other countries to ramp up their own programs.
Abdi Latif Dahir contributed reporting.
COVID-19 vaccine: Counteract the anti-vaccine, anti-science aggression
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 11:45
Another View: We may fail to vaccinate our way out of this epidemic by this summer and soon face the specter of emerging variants of concern.
Dr. Peter Hotez | Opinion contributor | 8:00 am EDT June 2, 2021
You're reading Another View, one of two perspectives in Today's Debate.
For Our View, read If cash change minds, it pays to save lives.
Our best hope of slowing or even halting COVID-19 virus transmission is through vaccination. Based on our earlier studies, we will need about three-quarters of the U.S. population vaccinated to achieve this goal. But with more transmissible variants, we may need to vaccinate just about all American adults and adolescents.
In regards to current vaccination rates, we are making good progress on the East and West Coasts, but in the Southern United States and in Idaho and Wyoming, vaccine coverage remains low.
For instance, the vaccination rates in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are about half that of Vermont and Massachusetts. Idaho and Wyoming are only slightly better than these Southern states.
The North-South or Blue-Red gap appears to be increasing over time. Therefore, the major vaccination barrier appears to be significant rates of refusal among conservatives living in deep red states.
So how do we correct this?
It is not at all clear that incentivizing groups through expensive prizes and gifts can overcome the fact that many living in the South and elsewhere now tie their political allegiance to vaccine defiance. While token prizes such as a doughnut or a pizza slice are fun and harmless, it's unlikely that more elaborate material incentives will provide significant rates of return in terms of vaccine coverage. Moreover, there is a potential downside, namely the awful optics of needing to bribe Americans to vaccinate as the rest of the world desperately seeks vaccine doses.
Instead, we need to reach out to conservative communities and news networks (or their leaders) and ask for their help and advice. In parallel, we may need a more aggressive approach to countering the waves of disinformation coming from well-funded anti-vaccine groups. They include those identified by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, anti-science and anti-vaccine organizations with tens of millions of followers on social media.
We must also halt Russian government efforts to destabilize America through its anti-vaccine communications across multiple media platforms.
Until as a nation we resolve to counteract the anti-science aggression, we may fail to vaccinate our way out of this epidemic by this summer and soon face the specter of emerging variants of concern.
Peter Hotez, MD and Ph.D., is Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology and Microbiology, and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. His latest book is "Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-Science" (Johns Hopkins University Press).
Covid: Twitter suspends Naomi Wolf after tweeting anti-vaccine misinformation - BBC News
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 11:34
image copyright Getty Images
image caption Naomi Wolf tweeted a wide-range of unfounded theories about vaccinesAmerican author Naomi Wolf has been suspended from Twitter after spreading vaccine misinformation.
Dr Wolf, well known for her acclaimed third-wave feminist book The Beauty Myth, posted a wide-range of unfounded theories about vaccines.
One tweet claimed that vaccines were a "software platform that can receive uploads".
She also compared Dr Anthony Fauci, the top Covid adviser in the US, to "Satan" to her more than 140,000 followers.
Most recently, she tweeted that the urine and faeces of people who had received the jab needed to be separated from general sewage supplies while tests were done to measure its impact on non-vaccinated people through drinking water.
On the topic of children wearing masks, she tweeted that she was "seeing kids with their lower faces hanging inertly, absolutely unmoving facial muscles, when they take their masks off".
Dr Wolf was also duped into tweeting a made up quote on an image of an American adult film star dressed up as a doctor.
Her suspension has been welcomed by many on the platform.
Professor Gavin Yamey tweeted that he was "pleased", adding that "Dr Wolf peddles horrific, dangerous anti-vaxx nonsense".
But some have voiced concern that her suspension was stifling free speech.
Journalist Mary Beth Pfeiffer said Dr Wolf "raised damn good questions about the rush to and ramifications of mass vax. This is unAmerican silencing of dissent".
During a BBC radio interview, it came to light that the author had misunderstood key 19th Century English legal terms within the book.
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media caption 'The Gospel Truth?' Covid-19 vaccines and the danger of religious misinformation
COVID-19 Vaccines Are Better Than We Ever Expected
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 12:02
Amid a global tragedy, the striking effectiveness of vaccines against the coronavirus stands out as one of the pandemic's few good news stories for humanity.
And the vaccines are the success story that, so far, has kept on going. Vaccinations are proving to be just as effective in the real world as they were in clinical trials, while remaining highly protective against the more contagious variants spreading worldwide. And two recent studies found that immunity to the virus could last for years.
While some viruses, most notably HIV, have eluded vaccination efforts for decades, SARS-CoV-2 has turned out to be an ideal target.
''It's going to sound odd, but the truth is we humans sort of lucked out,'' said James Musser, a pathologist at Houston Methodist Hospital. ''It doesn't always go this way with vaccines.''
In November, initial reports of the stunning 95% efficacy of the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna came as a breakthrough moment just ahead of a crushing surge in US cases. Those results were far above the 50% efficacy threshold for shots set by the FDA in October of last year, and they well exceeded the 70% to 75% bar that some, including Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had initially hoped for.
''Nobody really expected it to be this good,'' said vaccinologist George Rutherford of the University of California, San Francisco. ''It's remarkable. It's why we invested in molecular biology for the last 40 years.''
But getting everyone immunized with these remarkable vaccines remains a huge challenge. Even as the US returns to more normal life, with more than 40% of the population fully vaccinated and a goal of 70% having at least one shot by July 4, the rest of the world continues to face severe outbreaks. Less than 6% of the global population has been vaccinated, with more than 60 countries having administered fewer than five shots for every 100 people in their population. Globally, at least 3.7 million people have died of COVID.
That's left countries clamoring for more vaccine options, even ones that are less effective than those authorized in the US. On Monday, the World Health Organization authorized China's CoronaVac shots, an older kind of vaccine made from inactivated viral particles, for its global vaccine-sharing program. It is only about 50% effective in preventing an infection, but studies show it reduces the risk of severe disease.
''The world desperately needs multiple COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe,'' the WHO's Maringela Sim£o said in a statement announcing the authorization. And on Thursday, the Biden administration unveiled a plan to share 25 million vaccines worldwide, three-quarters of them through the WHO's COVAX program, the first step toward sharing at least 80 million doses by the end of June.
''The basic bottom line on this is that the United States is not doing this as some kind of back-and-forth deal where we're getting something for what we're giving,'' national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at the White House briefing announcing the change. ''We are giving these for a single purpose; it is the purpose of ending this pandemic.''
That we can talk about ending the pandemic with vaccines at all is partly due to good luck and partly due to decades of research preparing for such a deadly virus.
Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty ImagesCharles Muro, age 13, celebrates being inoculated in Hartford, Connecticut.
A perfectly normal virusVaccines have been a triumph of science in the last century, eradicating smallpox and drastically curbing polio, rabies, and measles. But there have also been disappointments: We still have no vaccines against HIV or malaria despite decades of research. So, in early 2020, scientists were unsure whether SARS-CoV-2 would be a virus we could fight with a vaccine.
''There was a lot of fear early on that this virus was doing something very strange,'' said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. The novel coronavirus attacked in a confusing way, causing no symptoms in some people and proving deadly for others. This suggested a complex interplay with the human immune system that would make it hard to design a vaccine against.
A little over a year ago, however, Crotty's lab released data from recovered COVID-19 patients suggesting that their immune responses were similar to those seen after infections with other viruses. People who recovered first made antibodies to the virus and then generated longer lasting immune cells called T cells and B cells that retained a memory of the virus to fight off future infections. Vaccines spur the same response, only without causing any illness. This was an early sign that vaccines could be effective against the new virus.
''We could say, 'This looks like a perfectly normal virus, we are playing by rules we understand,''' Crotty said. But the immune system is labyrinthian, and often surprising, in its complexity. So it was only when early safety studies of vaccine candidates were released last summer '-- showing a level of antibodies postvaccination that was roughly eight times higher than those seen after a natural infection '-- that things started to look really encouraging.
And scientists knew that, unlike the flu, which sloppily shuffles its genes when it reproduces, the coronavirus is a more sophisticated bug, repairing errors that crop up in its genes during replication. That competitive advantage ends up working against SARS-CoV-2 when it comes to vaccines, making it a slower-moving target than other viruses.
''If this was HIV, for every variant we see now with SARS-2, we'd see 1,000 more,'' Rutherford said.
Scientists were still cautious early on, said Mathai Mammen, Johnson & Johnson's global head of pharmaceutical research and development, because while the repair mechanism for the coronavirus was known, the virus doesn't stay as unchanging as measles, for example, where vaccination lasts a lifetime.
And the success rate for prototype vaccines is below 10%, Crotty noted. So it was unsurprising that vaccinologists, who deal with the hassles of proving out new immunizations in clinical trials, kept their hopes in check. And, as expected, some of the vaccine candidates did face problems: Pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi delayed their vaccine to adjust its recipe in December, while Merck discontinued its vaccines a month later after disappointing early clinical trial results.
''I was always optimistic,'' Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona, said. ''This was an acute virus; you get it and get over it.'' Viruses that cause chronic infections, like HIV and herpes, which the body doesn't clear, are much harder to vaccinate against.
''Here, instead, we saw there was a natural pathway to immunization we could take advantage of,'' Bhattacharya said.
A sitting duckCoronavirus spikes, which the viruses use to attach to cells, also made vaccination easier. Early last year, scientists at the National Institutes of Health mapped the atomic structure of SARS-CoV-2. This launched an early campaign to design vaccines aimed against the spike, based on earlier work used to develop experimental SARS and MERS vaccines.
Blocking the spike made the most sense from an immunology standpoint, Akiko Iwasaki, an immunobiologist at Yale University, told BuzzFeed News. The spike is essentially the business end of the virus. If the spike is blocked from latching onto a cell, the virus is left powerless. So, designing a vaccine that could summon antibodies aimed precisely at the spike protein (instead of somewhere else on the virus) seemed like a more direct approach to immunization.
There is a balance to this kind of specific targeting in vaccines. While all the most successful COVID-19 vaccines are aimed against the spike protein, some earlier prototypes targeted only its uppermost tip. That too-narrow approach proved to be less effective.
So did aiming too broadly. More traditional vaccines, like the 50% effective Sinopharm vaccine made out of inactivated virus particles, train the body to make antibodies against the entire virus. That trick of biology explains its lower effectiveness.
''[The spike is] sort of a sitting duck in a lot of ways for vaccination,'' Bhattacharya said. ''It's just asking for it.''
Built for mRNAIn particular, mRNA vaccines have emerged as the big winners in the pandemic, topping 90% effectiveness. These shots deliver genetic instructions to human cells so they make coronavirus spike proteins themselves. The proteins that the cells then churn out sensitize the immune system to spikes and thus protect it from a future infection by the genuine virus.
''These will be among the most efficacious vaccines that we have. Period,'' said John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology.
Two decades of research went into making mRNA vaccines that are perfect for battling coronaviruses, right down to figuring out the best kinds of fatty molecules to cushion the genetic material within each shot. ''NIH did a great job at identifying exactly what part of the virus to use and exactly how to stabilize it in a form that makes the immune system recognize the most important part of it,'' Wherry said.
That form is the ''prefusion'' stage of the spike protein, which is seen just at the moment where the spikes unfold and shape-shift to dock onto the cell surface. Interrupting this stage of an infection is like jamming gum into a keyhole, Wherry said. ''You can stick gum all over a door and it might not do anything, but if you put gum in that keyhole, a key isn't going to fit in there to open that door.''
Researchers knew about this vulnerability because of work done studying other viruses over the last decade. NIH scientists delivered a blueprint of this form of the spike protein to pharmaceutical companies so fast '-- within days of first seeing the coronavirus genome in January '-- that safety trials in people were already underway by April.
The payoff for all those decades of research came in November 2020, when late-stage clinical trials reported the 95% efficacy results for the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine, which took aim at the SARS-CoV-2 prefusion spike.
''The way I think about it is simply that this organism was built with mRNA vaccination in mind,'' said Musser, since the spike protein is such a solid target. For the flu, in contrast, many locations on the virus need blocking. ''Imagine you need to target 20 locations on a pathogen, and each one only gives you 5% immunity,'' Musser said. ''You have to hit a whole lot of them.''
Even with such high levels of vaccine effectiveness, some immunized people may still get COVID-19, also known as a ''breakthrough'' infection. A small number of those people, drastically fewer than those who haven't been vaccinated, can get severely ill. Of the more than 150 million people who have so far been fully vaccinated in the US, 439 have gotten so sick that they have died.
These breakthrough infections can help scientists understand more about ''correlates of protection,'' or precise measurements of the levels of antibodies and other immune cells needed to fend off the coronavirus. The problem is, in order to calculate this threshold, you need to take a blood sample just before a breakthrough infection occurs. Because the vaccines are so effective, this would require taking blood regularly from thousands of people just to catch the few infections that manage to break through.
''And it's getting harder and harder to know as the number of infections go down,'' Wherry said. ''So, we're sort of victims of our own success in knowing how well we're protected.''
Sopa Images / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesTravelers are seen at Orlando International Airport on the Friday before Memorial Day.
To boost, or not to boostThere are two big hanging questions about our COVID-19 vaccines: How long will immunity last? And will they be able to fight off new strains of the coronavirus?
On the first question, we really just don't know for sure, because we have only been living with the virus for a year and a half. But some recent work has been encouraging; a May study published in Nature found that mild SARS-CoV-2 infections produced immune memory cells that last for at least a year, and possibly quite longer.
And of the CDC's five listed coronavirus ''variants of concern'' that appear to be more threatening than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain, four of them reduce vaccine effectiveness '-- but not by very much. Even for the most worrisome variants '-- the P.1 variant first observed in Brazil, and the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa '-- the mRNA vaccines appear to be around 75% effective at preventing infections. Among the latest study findings, Public Health England reported last week that Pfizer's mRNA vaccine is 88% effective against a highly contagious variant that is now widespread in India. AstraZeneca's vaccine is 60% effective against the strain.
Nevertheless, pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna are already testing booster shots trained against new strains of the virus, in case COVID-19 shots become a yearly recommendation, like seasonal flu shots.
Asked how soon he expects to see a booster, Fauci, at a May 25 White House briefing, said, ''I'd like to give you a specific time and say 'X number of months,' but, quite frankly, we don't know the answer to that right now.'' Understanding when boosters might be needed will likely depend on figuring out the correlates of immunity, which he conceded might be years away, or, more likely, when doctors suddenly seeing lots of people sick either from a new variant or from immunity wearing off.
The bad news is, the evolution of new variants has accelerated, according to a recent review. ''Selective pressure'' on the coronavirus from vaccines, past infections, and treatments like monoclonal antibodies all require the virus to devise clever new ways to infect people.
Experts contacted by BuzzFeed News varied widely on their best estimates of when a booster shot might be needed. Some guessed next year, others said it could be another five years from now.
''I think we're going to end up with a booster. The question is what the booster looks like,'' Musser said. It might be a 50/50 mix of the original vaccine mixed with one targeted against a dangerous new variant. Or the booster might only be needed for older people who are at higher risk. Some people are inadvertently getting a booster because traveling to Europe requires a vaccination in the last six months and they got their shots in December, Musser added. ''That's one way it will happen.''
While vaccines could slowly lose their efficacy against infections, they might still remain quite effective against severe disease. COVID-19 cases follow a two-part pattern: Early on, it's contagious and causes cold symptoms; a week later it can turn into a serious illness. The more infectious variants are thought to evolve mostly in the earlier stages when the symptoms are less severe.
That makes it harder to determine when booster shots should become a national imperative. ''I'm probably still going to get the booster shot because I hate colds,'' said Bhattacharya, even if the original vaccines still keep you safe from severe disease.
Scientists are also studying how well mRNA vaccines will tackle other viruses, like the flu, HIV, or the Nipah virus. The expectation is that viruses that are similar to SARS-CoV-2 '-- those with an essential, exposed target that doesn't mutate much '-- will result in similar successes. But everyone wants to see the results of studies first, given past vaccine disappointments.
In the end, it's a race between how quickly we can vaccinate the world versus how quickly the virus continues to mutate. ''It will be all about the organism,'' Bhattacharya said. ''That's what always makes the decision.''
United will require new employees to show proof of Covid vaccine, following Delta
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 13:21
A United Airlines Boeing 777-200ER plane is towed as an American Airlines Boeing 737 plane departs from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.
Kamil Krzaczynski | Reuters
United Airlines this month will start requiring new hires to show proof that they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, following a similar move by Delta Air Lines.
The new rule requires external candidates with job offers made after June 15 to confirm they have been fully vaccinated by their start date, the Chicago-based airline said.
The move comes as companies are grappling with whether to require staff to get vaccinated or find a way to incentivize them get inoculated. United, Delta and American have offered extra time off or pay to employees who are vaccinated. Big employers like Walmart have taken similar measures.
"As we welcome new employees to the company, it's important we instill in them United's strong commitment to safety," the airline said in a note to staff, which was tweeted earlier by Brian Sumers, editor-at-large at travel-industry site Skift.
The new employees "will be required to upload their COVID vaccine card in My Info no later than 7 days post hire date," the airline said. The company added it will evaluate any religious or medical circumstances of candidates who can't be vaccinated.
United CEO Scott Kirby said in January that he wanted to make Covid vaccines mandatory for employees but the airline hasn't taken that step.
Airlines spent much of the last year shedding workers but carriers like United have announced they will resume hiring of pilots and other positions as travel demand picks back up.
Bat vs Lab
New Fauci Emails
FBI 'Ambushed' by Report of High-Ranking Chinese Defector with Knowledge of Bioweapons Programs - Becker News
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 12:43
FBI Director Christopher Wray was reportedly blind-sided by information that a ''high-ranking'' Chinese defector to the U.S. with knowledge of the nation's bioweapons was recently obtained by the Defense Intelligence Agency and kept hidden from the agency for three months.
The massive news development was reported by Adam Housley on Friday.
Being told the increased pressure on China in recent days is due to a defector with intimate knowledge. In fact, Wray didn't know right away because they wanted to make sure they got all they needed before telling him.
'-- Adam Housley (@adamhousley) June 4, 2021
''Being told the increased pressure on China in recent days is due to a defector with intimate knowledge,'' Housley reported. ''In fact, Wray didn't know right away because they wanted to make sure they got all they needed before telling him.''
Also'...US intelligence believes China is trying to produce variants that suggest it came from bats to cover up that it originally came from a lab. The belief is still that it escaped accidentally, but was allowed to spread.
'-- Adam Housley (@adamhousley) June 4, 2021
''Also'...US intelligence believes China is trying to produce variants that suggest it came from bats to cover up that it originally came from a lab,'' Housley continued. ''The belief is still that it escaped accidentally, but was allowed to spread.''
RedState's Jen Van Laar contacted a source that corroborates that FBI Director Christopher Wray was ''ambushed'' with news of the defector, and furthermore, the CIA was kept in the dark. The precautions were reportedly carried out to insulate the defector from suspected Chinese moles in those security agencies. Alternative explanations would be that the DIA wanted inter-agency credit for the Chinese defector's intelligence or there was fear that political operators in rival security agencies would bury the valuable intel.
In any event, the Chinese defector's prospectively sweeping knowledge of Chinese weapons systems, including bioweapons systems, is ratcheting up pressure on security officials to determine if there was a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which lead to the COVID-19 pandemic.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Donald Trump in 2017, has been considered by his critics to have been a thorn in the side to the former president. Wray's misleading comments about the threat posed to the nation by ''white supremacists'' and ''far right domestic extremists'' do not comport with present day political realities that grave threats are posed by both the right and the left, including radicalized Black Lives Matter activists and Antifa extremists who have caused billions in damage to communities nationwides, as well as hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths.
Wray's blatantly political bent is unprofessional and is undoubtedly sowing distrust within the ranks of the nation's security agencies. The motivation for the DIA keeping highly sensitive, top-secret revelations from a Chinese defector is unknown, but the ramification that the American people can not undoubtedly trust the FBI to seize on the intel and use it effectively against a known enemy is an undermining of public confidence that should disturb American citizens.
''Sources say the level of confidence in the defector's information is what has led to a sudden crisis of confidence in Dr. Anthony Fauci,'' Van Laar noted in the RedState report, ''adding that U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) personnel detailed to DIA have corroborated very technical details of information provided by the defector.''
The political implications of the communist Chinese weaponizing ''gain of function'' virus research at the Wuhan lab, which was partially funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases run by Dr. Anthony Fauci, are sweeping in import. They would call for a Cold War-level overhaul of American intelligence agencies to counter a burgeoning threat to the nation's security last seen in the nuclear standoff between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War.
Fauci Finally *Snaps*: Doctor Lashes Out Against Republicans for 'Inappropriate, Distorted, Misleading and Misrepresented Attacks'
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The FBI's Strange Anthrax Investigation Sheds Light on COVID Lab-Leak Theory and Fauci's Emails - Glenn Greenwald
Thu, 03 Jun 2021 21:44
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing May 26, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)One of the most significant events of the last two decades has been largely memory-holed: the October, 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S. Beginning just one week after 9/11 and extending for another three weeks, a highly weaponized and sophisticated strain of anthrax had been sent around the country through the U.S. Postal Service addressed to some of the country's most prominent political and media figures. As Americans were still reeling from the devastation of 9/11, the anthrax killed five Americans and sickened another seventeen.
As part of the extensive reporting I did on the subsequent FBI investigation to find the perpetrator(s), I documented how significant these attacks were in the public consciousness. ABC News, led by investigative reporter Brian Ross, spent a full week claiming that unnamed government sources told them that government tests demonstrated a high likelihood that the anthrax came from Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program. The Washington Post, in November, 2001, also raised ''the possibility that [this weaponized strain of anthrax] may have slipped through an informal network of scientists to Iraq.'' Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on The David Letterman Show on October 18, 2001, and said: ''There is some indication, and I don't have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may -- and I emphasize may -- have come from Iraq.'' Three days later, McCain appeared on Meet the Press with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and said of the anthrax perpetrators: ''perhaps this is an international organization and not one within the United States of America,'' while Lieberman said the anthrax was so finely weaponized that ''there's either a significant amount of money behind this, or this is state-sponsored, or this is stuff that was stolen from the former Soviet program'' (Lieberman added: ''Dr. Fauci can tell you more detail on that'').
In many ways, the prospect of a lethal, engineered biological agent randomly showing up in one's mailbox or contaminating local communities was more terrifying than the extraordinary 9/11 attack itself. All sorts of oddities shrouded the anthrax mailings, including this bizarre admission in 2008 by long-time Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen: ''I had been told soon after Sept. 11 to secure Cipro, the antidote to anthrax. The tip had come in a roundabout way from a high government official. I was carrying Cipro way before most people had ever heard of it.'' At the very least, those anthrax attacks played a vital role in heightening fear levels and a foundational sense of uncertainty that shaped U.S. discourse and politics for years to come. It meant that not just Americans living near key power centers such as Manhattan and Washington were endangered, but all Americans everywhere were: even from their own mailboxes.
Letter sent to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, along with weaponized anthrax, in September, 2001The FBI first falsely cast suspicion on a former government scientist, Dr. Steven Hatfill, who had conducted research on mailing deadly anthrax strains. Following the FBI's accusations, media outlets began dutifully implying that Hatfill was the culprit. A January, 2002, New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof began by declaring: ''I think I know who sent out the anthrax last fall,'' then, without naming him, proceeded to perfectly describe Hatfill in a way that made him easily identifiable to everyone in that research community. Hatfill sued the U.S. Government, which eventually ended up paying him close to $6 million in damages before officially and explicitly exonerating him and apologizing. His lawsuit against the NYT and Kristof was dismissed since he was never named by the paper, but the columnist also apologized to him six years later.
A full seven years after the attack, the FBI once again claimed that it had found the perpetrator: this time, it was the microbiologist Bruce Ivins, a long-time ''biodefense'' researcher at the U.S. Army's infectious disease research lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Yet before he could be indicted, Ivins died, apparently by suicide, to avoid prosecution. As a result, the FBI was never required to prove its case in court. The agency insisted, however, that there was no doubt that Ivins was the anthrax killer, citing genetic analysis of the anthrax strain that they said conclusively matched the anthrax found in Ivins' U.S. Army lab, along with circumstantial evidence pointing to him.
But virtually every mainstream institution other than the FBI harbored doubts. The New York Times quoted Ivins' co-workers as calling into question the FBI's claims (''The investigators looked around, they decided they had to find somebody''), and the paper also cited ''vocal skepticism from key members of Congress.'' Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), one of the targets of the anthrax letters, said explicitly he did not believe Ivins could have carried out the attacks alone. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and then-Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a physicist, said the same to me in interviews. The nation's three largest newspapers '-- The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal '-- all editorially called for independent investigations on the grounds that the FBI's evidence was inconclusive if not outright unconvincing. One of the country's most prestigious science journals, Nature, published an editorial under the headline ''Case Not Closed,'' arguing, about the FBI's key claims, that ''the jury is still out on those questions.''
When an independent investigation was finally conducted in 2011 into the FBI's scientific claims against Ivins, much of that doubt converted into full-blown skepticism. As The New York Times put it '-- in a 2011 article headlined "Expert Panel Is Critical of F.B.I. Work in Investigating Anthrax Letters" '-- the review ''concludes that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins.'' A Washington Post article -- headlined: "Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins" -- announced that "the report reignited a debate that has simmered among some scientists and others who have questioned the strength of the FBI's evidence against Ivins."
An in-depth joint investigation by ProPublica, PBS and McClatchy '-- published under the headline ''New Evidence Adds Doubt to FBI's Case Against Anthrax Suspect'' '-- concluded that ''newly available documents and the accounts of Ivins' former colleagues shed fresh light on the evidence and, while they don't exonerate Ivins, are at odds with some of the science and circumstantial evidence that the government said would have convicted him of capital crimes.'' It added: ''even some of the government's science consultants wonder whether the real killer is still at large.'' The report itself, issued by the National Research Council, concluded that while the components of the anthrax in Ivins' lab were ''consistent'' with the weaponized anthrax that had been sent, ''the scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 [found in Ivins' lab] is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary."
In short, these were serious and widespread mainstream doubts about the FBI's case against Ivins, and those have never been resolved. U.S. institutions seemingly agreed to simply move on without ever addressing lingering scientific and other evidentiary questions regarding whether Ivins was really involved in the anthrax attacks and, if so, how it was possible that he could have carried out this sophisticated attack within a top-secret U.S. Army lab acting alone. So whitewashed is this history that doubts about whether the FBI found the real perpetrator are now mocked by smug Smart People as a fringe conspiracy theory rather than what they had been: the consensus of mainstream institutions.
But what we do know for certain from this anthrax investigation is quite serious. And because it is quite relevant to the current debates over the origins of COVID-19, it is well-worth reviewing. A trove of emails from Dr. Anthony Fauci '-- who was the government's top infectious disease specialist during the AIDS pandemic, the anthrax attacks, and the COVID pandemic '-- was published on Monday by BuzzFeed after they were produced pursuant to a FOIA request. Among other things, they reveal that in February and March of last year '-- at the time that Fauci and others were dismissing any real possibility that the coronavirus inadvertently escaped from a lab, to the point that the Silicon Valley monopolies Facebook and Google banned any discussion of that theory -- Fauci and his associates and colleagues were privately discussing the possibility that the virus had escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, possibly as part of a U.S.-funded joint program with the scientists at that lab.
Last week, BBC reported that ''in recent weeks the controversial claim that the pandemic might have leaked from a Chinese laboratory '-- once dismissed by many as a fringe conspiracy theory '-- has been gaining traction.'' President Biden ordered an investigation into this lab-leak possibility. And with Democrats now open to this possibility, ''Facebook reversed course Thursday and said that it would no longer remove posts that claim the virus is man-made,'' reported The Washington Post. Nobody can rationally claim to know the origins of COVID, and that is exactly why '-- as I explained in an interview on the Rising program this morning '-- it should be so disturbing that Silicon Valley monopolies and the WHO/Fauci-led scientific community spent a full year pretending to have certainty about that ''debunked'' theory that they plainly did not possess, to the point where discussions of it were prohibited on social media.
What we know '-- but have largely forgotten '-- from the anthrax case is now vital to recall. What made the anthrax attacks of 2001 particularly frightening was how sophisticated and deadly the strain was. It was not naturally occurring anthrax. Scientists quickly identified it as the notorious Ames strain, which researchers at the U.S. Army lab in Fort Detrick had essentially invented. As PBS' Frontline program put it in 2011: ''in October 2001, Northern Arizona University microbiologist Dr. Paul Keim identified that the anthrax used in the attack letters was the Ames strain, a development he described as 'chilling' because that particular strain was developed in U.S. government laboratories.'' As Dr. Keim recalled in that Frontline interview about his 2001 analysis of the anthrax strain:
We were surprised it was the Ames strain. And it was chilling at the same time, because the Ames strain is a laboratory strain that had been developed by the U.S. Army as a vaccine-challenge strain. We knew that it was highly virulent. In fact, that's why the Army used it, because it represented a more potent challenge to vaccines that were being developed by the U.S. Army. It wasn't just some random type of anthrax that you find in nature; it was a laboratory strain, and that was very significant to us, because that was the first hint that this might really be a bioterrorism event.
Why was the U.S. government creating exotic and extraordinarily deadly infectious bacterial strains and viruses that, even in small quantities, could kill large numbers of people? The official position of the U.S. Government is that it does not engage in offensive bioweapons research: meaning research designed to create weaponized viruses as weapons of war. The U.S. has signed treaties barring such research. But in the wake of the anthrax attacks '-- especially once the FBI's own theory was that the anthrax was sent by a U.S. Army scientist from his stash at Fort Detrick '-- U.S. officials were forced to acknowledge that they do engage in defensive bioweapons research: meaning research designed to allow the development of vaccines and other defenses in the event that another country unleashes a biological attack.
But ultimately, that distinction barely matters. For both offensive and defensive bioweapons research, scientists must create, cultivate, manipulate and store non-natural viruses or infectious bacteria in their labs, whether to study them for weaponization or for vaccines. A fascinating-in-retrospect New Yorker article from March, 2002, featured the suspicions of molecular biologist Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, who had ''strongly implied that the F.B.I. was moving much more slowly in its anthrax investigation than it had any reason to.'' Like The New York Times, the magazine (without naming him) detailed her speculation that Dr. Hatfill was the perpetrator (though her theory about his motive '-- that he wanted to scare people about anthrax in order to increase funding for research '-- was virtually identical to the FBI's ultimate accusations about Dr. Ivins' motives).
But the key point that is particularly relevant now is what all of this said about the kind of very dangerous research the U.S. Government, along with other large governments, conducts in bioweapons research labs. Namely, they manufacture and store extremely lethal biological agents that, if they escape from the lab either deliberately or inadvertently, can jeopardize the human species. As the article put it:
The United States officially forswore biological-weapons development in 1969, and signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, along with many other nations. But Rosenberg believes that the American bioweapons program, which won't allow itself to be monitored, may not be in strict compliance with the convention. If the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is who she thinks it is, that would put the American program in a bad light, and it would prove that she was right to demand that the program be monitored.
If the government is saying that the perpetrator was probably an American, it's hard to imagine how it couldn't have been an American who worked in a government-supported bioweapons lab. Think back to the panicky month of October : would knowing that have made you less nervous, or more?
Having extensively reported on the FBI's investigation into the anthrax case and ultimate claim to have solved it, I continue to share all the doubts that were so widely expressed at the time about whether any of that was true. But what we know for certain is that the U.S. government and other governments do conduct research which requires the manufacture of deadly viruses and infectious bacterial strains. Dr. Fauci has acknowledged that the U.S. government indirectly funded research by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into coronaviruses, though he denies that this was for so-called ''gain of function'' research, whereby naturally occurring viruses are manipulated to make them more transmissible and/or more harmful to humans.
We do not know for sure if the COVID-19 virus escaped from the Wuhan lab, another lab, or jumped from animals to humans. But what we do know for certain '-- from the anthrax investigation '-- is that governments most definitely conduct the sort of research that could produce novel coronaviruses. Dr. Rosenberg, the subject of the 2002 New Yorker article, was suggesting that the F.B.I. was purposely impeding its own investigation because they knew that the anthrax actually came from the U.S. government's own lab and wanted to prevent exposure of the real bio-research that is done there. We should again ponder why the pervasive mainstream doubts about the F.B.I.'s case against Ivins have been memory-holed. We should also reflect on what we learned about government research into highly lethal viruses and bacterial strains from that still-strange episode.
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Months of dormant then BAM encrypt at will when handy
TV news stations become apparent target in next cyberattack
Fri, 04 Jun 2021 23:01
First it was gas. Then it was meat. Now it's local television stations.
At least two TV news stations have been completely offline since Thursday in what cybersecurity experts say appears to be a ransomware attack on their parent company.
ABC affiliate WFTV in Orlando, Florida, and NBC affiliate WPXI in Pittsburgh, which are both owned by the Cox Media Group, were told Thursday by managers to shut down company computers and phones.
"We are only able to communicate with each other over personal phones and text messages," said a WFTV employee who wasn't authorized to speak for the company and requested not to be named.
So far both stations were able to still put together local broadcasts, but have been limited in what they can do. Cox didn't reply to requests for comment. But the event appeared to be the latest U.S. incident of ransomware, where hackers will infect a network and hold its files hostage while demanding payment, said Allan Liska, an analyst at the cybersecurity company Recorded Future.
''An 'IT incident' that spans multiple organizations in a company is almost always a ransomware attack,'' Liska said.
Brett Callow, a threat analyst at the cybersecurity company Emsisoft, agreed.
''The most likely cause by far of any incident that involves unplanned and widespread IT disruption is ransomware or the detection of malware that can be used to deploy ransomware,'' Callow said. ''Basically, the other things which could potentially cause such a shutdown are far less likely.''
In Orlando, managers asked employees not to come into the station on Thursday and again Friday, but said little about what was wrong with the company's computer networks.
"They wouldn't let us say anything on social media about why we weren't on the air," the employee said. "We feel a need to let our viewers know."
In Pittsburgh, the IT network staff began shutting down company servers as a precaution Thursday morning, an employee there said.
"Since then we've been locked out," leaving staff unable to access emails and internal programs used for their broadcasts, the employee said. "It's pretty crippling at the moment."
Hackers have steadily attacked American businesses, schools and hospitals with ransomware for several years. But the problem only recently became an emergency for the federal government after an attack on the U.S.'s largest pipeline company, Colonial, shut down its fuel distribution for five days and caused some gas shortages.
And on Sunday, a ransomware gang hit the world's largest beef supplier, JBS, temporarily stopping work at its U.S. plants.
Many of the most prolific ransomware gangs, including those responsible for the JBS and Colonial hacks, speak Russian and have at least some members based in Russia who appear to operate with impunity, leading President Joe Biden to say he's "looking closely" at retaliating.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced it will begin to treat ransomware attacks as a national security threat rather than merely a criminal one, administration sources have said.
In a memo circulated to federal prosecutors Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said that the Justice Department is elevating its ransomware investigations to the same level as terrorism ones, saying ''we must enhance and centralize our internal tracking of investigations and prosecutions of ransomware groups.''
''We know that ransomware attacks and digital extortion schemes are often conducted by transnational criminal actors, spread without regard to geographic borders, and thrive on the abuse of online digital and financial infrastructure,'' the memo said.
Kevin Collier is a reporter covering cybersecurity, privacy and technology policy for NBC News.
FBI Director Chris Wray compares ransomware attacks to 9/11 | Fox Business
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 19:41
Federal agents are investigating about 100 different types of ransomware, FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed in a new interview, in which he compared the security challenges posed by cyberthreats to the terror threat of 9/11.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Thursday, Wray made the comments in the wake of two recent ransomware attacks that sent meat and gas prices skyrocketing as suppliers were left unable to move their products.
"There are a lot of parallels, there's a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention," Wray said, referring to this month's hack against JBS Foods, the world's largest meat supplier, and a similar attack on Colonial Pipeline in May that disrupted the flow of gasoline.
"There's a shared responsibility, not just across government agencies but across the private sector and even the average American," he said.
HACKERS BEHIND JBS RANSOMWARE HAVE NEW EXTORTION TACTIC
Ransomware is a malicious software that locks up a user's data. Hackers typically demand money, most frequently in cryptocurrency, to unlock or return the affected data.
The FBI has blamed the Russia-based criminal group DarkSide for the Colonial Pipeline attack, in which the company paid $4.4 million in ransom in order to regain access to its systems.
Of the 100 different malicious software variants that exist, every single one was responsible for multiple ransomware attacks in the US, Wray told the paper, noting at one point, "The scale of this problem is one that I think the country has to come to terms with."
The FBI director said the impacts of the recent attacks were visible to the American people.
"Now realizing it can affect them when they're buying gas at the pump or buying a hamburger '-- I think there's a growing awareness now of just how much we're all in this fight together," Wray said.
As for the origin of these attacks, which the bureau has seen complaints for triple in the past year, he singled out Russia.
MICROSOFT BING IMAGE SEARCH RESULTS FOR TIANAMEN SQUARE 'TANK MAN' EMPTY, RAISING CENSORSHIP QUESTIONS
While the Kremlin itself has not been directly implicated, the country has provided safe haven to hackers to conduct their damaging work.
"Time and time again, a huge portion of those traced back to actors in Russia," Wray said. "And so, if the Russian government wants to show that it's serious about this issue, there's a lot of room for them to demonstrate some real progress that we're not seeing right now."
While Colonial Pipeline paid its multimillion-dollar ransom, the FBI's policy discourages doing so.
Wray told the paper the bureau was more focused on getting those affected companies to cooperate with it in hopes of figuring out how to thwart future attacks.
"I don't want to suggest that this is the norm, but there have been instances where we've even been able to work with our partners to identify the encryption keys, which then would enable a company to actually unlock their data '-- even without paying the ransom."
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As the FBI continues its work, Reuters reported Thursday that the Justice Department has begun elevating investigations of ransomware attacks to a priority similar to terrorism.
Internal guidance sent Thursday to U.S. attorneys' offices across the country said information about ransomware investigations in the field should be centrally coordinated with a recently created task force in Washington.
"It's a specialized process to ensure we track all ransomware cases regardless of where it may be referred in this country, so you can make the connections between actors and work your way up to disrupt the whole chain," John Carlin, principal associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, said of the guidance.
Click here to read more of the New York Post.
Hackers behind JBS ransomware have new extortion tactic | Fox Business
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 20:01
The criminal gangs that carried out ransomware attacks on JBS, Colonial Pipeline and others have a new tactic.
REvil, aka Sodinokibi, was tagged by the FBI on Wednesday as the group behind the ransomware that forced meat producer JBS USA to temporarily shut down its operations.
In April, REvil (short for Ransomware Evil), demonstrated the use of a tactic called triple extortion, according to a research note from Check Point Research.
BREACHED ACCOUNT LED TO COLONIAL PIPELINE SHUTDOWN, CYBERSECURITY FIRM SAYS
At that time, the gang launched an attack on Quanta Computer, a Taiwan-based laptop manufacturer which builds systems for U.S. companies such as Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The group went on to attempt to extort Apple directly, claiming to have confidential blueprints of future Apple products '' adding yet another layer of ransom demands.
Darkside, the gang behind the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, has also adopted the new ransomware tactic.
Triple ExtortionConventional ransomware involves breaching a computer network, then encrypting valuable data so it is no longer accessible by a victim organization. The attackers then demand a ransom in return for a decryption key.
Double extortion goes further by tacking on threats to leak the data. This is meant to increase the pressure on victims to pay the ransom. In some cases, the data leak is a separate ransom, so the victim is being extorted for two payments.
Triple extortion expands the reach to customers, partners and other third parties related to the initial breach in an effort to extort even more money.
Also, the addition of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack to the mix '' overwhelming the victim organization with a flood of internet traffic in order to bring down its network '' can also be a form of triple extortion.
IS JBS CYBERATTACK A DRY RUN?
The criminal gangs that carried out ransomware attacks on JBS, Colonial Pipeline and others have a new tactic.
"This further ratchets up the pressure on the victim'...[and] also adds another stressor to a security team already dealing with the first two events," according to Netscout, which offers solutions to block DDoS attacks.
The first notable case of triple extortion was the Vastaamo clinic attack in October 2020, according to Check Point.
While the Finnish psychotherapy clinic, with over 40,000 patients, suffered extensive patient data theft and a ransomware attack, smaller sums were also demanded from the patients, who individually received ransom demands. The attackers also threatened to publish their therapist session notes.
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The "triple" aspect was targeting the patients, according to Check Point, which added that this was "the first attack of its kind within the ransomware attacks landscape."
"We are clearly in the middle of a ransomware pandemic," Mark Ostrowski, Head of Engineering, at Check Point Software, told Fox Business in a statement. "The technique of triple extortion, where hackers threaten not only their targets, but their target's customers and partners, is a good example of this," he said.
G-7 finance ministers strike landmark deal on taxing multinationals, tech giants
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 18:17
World The accord will see a global minimum 15 percent corporate tax rate that would apply to overseas profits made by some firms.
June 5, 2021, 8:36 AM EDT / Updated June 5, 2021, 1:36 PM EDT
By Adela Suliman
LONDON '-- A landmark deal agreed upon by the world's richest nations on Saturday will see a global minimum rate of corporation tax placed on multinational companies including tech giants like Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.
After two days of talks in London, finance ministers from the Group of Seven, or G-7 nations, said they had agreed to having a global base corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent.
Changes would also be made to ensure major companies, especially those with a strong online presence, would pay taxes in the countries where they record sales, not just where they have an operational base.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who attended the talks in London, hailed the deal, writing on Twitter that the ministers had "made a significant, unprecedented commitment today that provides tremendous momentum towards achieving a robust global minimum tax at a rate of at least 15 percent."
Britain's finance minister Rishi Sunak, who chaired the meetings, called it "a proud moment" that would create a level playing field for companies around the world.
Ministers from the other G-7 members '-- Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan '-- also signed up to the joint communiqu(C), which said the nonbinding deal would address "the tax challenges arising from globalization and the digitalization of the economy and to adopt a global minimum tax."
President Joe Biden had initially proposed a minimum global rate for corporation tax '-- the tax that businesses pay on their profits '-- of 21 percent. But last month the Treasury Department put forward a plan for a "floor" of 15 percent.
Leaders of the Group of 20, or G-20, major economies, including emerging economies like China and India, will also likely be lobbied to sign up to the rate floor.
RecommendedThe public coffers of many nations are running low due to the coronavirus pandemic, as many wealthier countries borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up their economies '-- a shortfall they now need to urgently recoup.
Patrick Holden, an associate professor of international political economy at England's University of Plymouth, told NBC News the deal was "historic" and a major shift, after decades of unrestrained tax competition.
He added that the deal would help "rebalance" the relationship between the state and big business.
Calling it a "big win" for the Biden administration in particular, Holden said, however, that smaller countries were less likely to directly benefit from the pact. Although tech giants may be the most impacted, other types of multinational corporations would also be caught by the global deal, he added.
The U.S. has proposed levying the new global minimum tax on the world's 100 largest and most profitable companies.
Any final agreement could have major repercussions for low-tax countries and tax havens, but national governments could still set whatever local corporate tax rates they wish.
However, if companies pay lower rates in a particular country, their home governments could now potentially "top-up" their taxes to the minimum rate, eliminating the advantage of shifting profits from one country to another.
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The deal would require a final sign-off at the G-7 summit in England next week, which will see world leaders descend on Carbis Bay, a small seaside town around 300 miles southwest of London.
The global recovery from the pandemic is set to be high on the G-7 agenda, along with tackling climate change.
It will be Biden's first foreign trip as president. His trip will also include a meeting with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II followed by a NATO meeting in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
Adela Suliman Adela Suliman is a London-based reporter for NBC News Digital.
G7 nations 'one millimetre away' from agreement on global tax deal - CityAM
Fri, 04 Jun 2021 21:51
The G7 nations are close to agreeing a historic global taxation deal after finance ministers met for the first time today.
Finance ministers from the countries met for the first time since the start of the pandemic with plans to close the net on large corporates which do not pay their fair share of tax top of the agenda.
Before the meeting today, Sunak said securing a global agreement on digital taxation has been a ''key priority''.
''We want companies to pay the right amount of tax in the right place, and I hope we can reach a fair deal with our partners,'' he added.
''We are just one millimetre away from a historic agreement,'' French finance minister Bruneo Le Maire told the BBC today.
But disagreements still remain. The US has proposed a minimum corporation tax rate of 15 per cent, which is well below the average in the G7.
Le Mare said the 15 per cent rate presented ''only a starting point''.
''We need something that is credible,'' he added. ''We are still working on this very tricky point of the rate.''
German finance minister Olaf Scholz echoed this sentiment, saying he is confident the groupof seven will come to an agreement ''today or tomorrow'' which will ''end the race to bottom on taxation''.
The plan would focus on the profits of the 100 biggest companies that have benefitted most from globalisation, chief among them tech giants, which have seen their businesses boom during the pandemic.
However, this could be offset by the minimum corporation tax rate Biden wants to implement, which may result in more companies paying tax in the US instead of other countries.
Biden showed today how serious he was about getting a deal done as he slapped tariffs on six countries, including on £626m goods made in the UK.
Joe Biden offers to keep tax cuts intact to pay for infrastructure
Thu, 03 Jun 2021 22:43
WASHINGTON '' In a concession to Republicans, President Joe Biden proposed that instead of raising the corporate tax rate to pay for a bipartisan infrastructure package totaling at least $1 trillion, they'd work to ensure corporations don't exploit tax loopholes.
But the president still supports raising corporate taxes to cover other parts of his agenda, the White House said.
Biden's latest infrastructure counteroffer, proposed to Republican senators this week, would keep intact President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts that they oppose unwinding, calling it a "red line" in their negotiations with the White House.
The tweaked proposal would no longer raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, relying on other funding components of Biden's American Jobs Plan: beefing up tax enforcement on the country's wealthiest earners and ensuring the largest corporations '' some of which have avoided paying any taxes because of loopholes '' pay at least a minimum of 15%.
"This should be completely acceptable to a number of Republicans who have said that their bottom line is they want to keep the 2017 tax law untouched," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Psaki made clear that Biden has not abandoned his push to increase the corporate tax rate to pay for proposals such as a $1.8 trillion families plan that includes subsidized child care and national prekindergarten.
"What the president believes is that corporations can afford to pay a little bit more," Psaki said. "And that's a way we can pay for a range of the bold proposals that he has put forward."
'Big question is the scope': Biden, GOP at odds over 'social infrastructure' as White House signals it wants deal soon
Biden's offer, first reported by The Washington Post, was made during a private one-on-one meeting Wednesday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., the lead negotiator for a group of six Republicans seeking a deal on infrastructure with the White House. The conversation in the Oval Office lasted nearly an hour. Biden, who is visiting Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Thursday, and Capito said they plan to regroup Friday.
Biden signaled he wants at least $1 trillion in spending on infrastructure in addition to $400 billion in baseline spending already approved for infrastructure needs.
Capito's Senate office declined to comment on the president's offer.
Biden reduced the cost of his American Jobs Plan to $1.7 trillion from $2.25 trillion last month to get closer to an amount Republicans could support. In their counterproposal last week, Republicans upped their offer to $928 billion from $568 billion. Their proposal contains $290 billion on top of baseline funds.
Psaki did not say whether Biden is willing to go below $1 trillion. "We're going to keep optionality on the table, and we'll see how the conversation goes tomorrow," she said.
Biden and Republicans remain at odds on infrastructure: 4 charts break down how far apart they are
Republicans proposed repurposing COVID-19 rescue funds already approved and user fees to pay for infrastructure '' ideas the Biden administration immediately rejected.
Republicans said they are willing to pay for only physical infrastructure such as repairs to roads, bridges and airports, as well as broadband expansion. In addition to traditional infrastructure, Biden has stayed committed to "social infrastructure" '' opposed by Republicans '' such as $400 billion proposed to overhaul caregiving for the elderly and people with disabilities.
The White House also expressed concerns that the GOP counteroffer has little or no funding for fixing Veterans Affairs hospitals, rail and transit systems, replacing the nation's lead pipes and investing in clean energy jobs.
'The clock is ticking': Democrats grow restless with Biden's infrastructure talks as Republicans float next counteroffer
Next week, when Congress is to return after a weeklong recess, is emerging as a key moment in infrastructure negotiations between Biden and Republicans that have dragged on for weeks. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will begin drafting legislation Wednesday for surface roadway funding that could complement Biden's proposal.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday "the negotiations can't go on forever," and White House officials hope to produce a "clear direction" on a bipartisan package next week.
Psaki called next week "an important moment in the timeline," noting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have said they want to approve infrastructure legislation by the summer. Psaki stopped short of calling next week a deadline to reach a deal.
"We're not here to set new deadlines," Psaki said. "Certainly the president is not going to accept a deal that doesn't help create millions of jobs and make a historic investment in our nation's infrastructure."
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
Biden rejects new GOP offer as spending talks drag on | TheHill
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 03:36
President Biden on Friday rejected the latest GOP offer on infrastructure during a phone call with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), according to the White House, though the two agreed to speak again next week.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Capito raised Republicans' current offer by $50 billion and that while Biden "expressed his gratitude for her effort and goodwill" he also "indicated that the current offer did not meet his objectives to grow the economy, tackle the climate crisis, and create new jobs."
Psaki said that Biden informed the GOP senator he would engage Republican and Democratic senators "in hopes of achieving a more substantial package."
Biden and Capito agreed to speak again Monday, according to both the White House and Capito's office, which also put out a brief readout of the call Friday afternoon.
Biden, who has engaged with Capito and other Republicans for weeks in hopes of a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, is coming under growing pressure from progressives to abandon the discussions and move forward with his $2.25 trillion plan, using budget reconciliation so that Democrats can pass it without GOP votes.
Republicans had previously offered a $928 billion counterproposal that included about $260 billion in new spending. Biden, in an Oval Office meeting with Capito on Wednesday, proposed a plan that includes $1 trillion spending on infrastructure and floated the idea of a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations to pay for it.
Despite inching closer to one another, both sides remain in disagreement on the scope of the proposal and how to pay for it.
It's unclear how much longer Biden will continue talks with Capito or other Republicans given the lack of progress. Some Democratic sources believe he will look to make a decision on whether to cut a deal or abandon them by mid-June.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had indicated Monday there was a deadline for real progress, though Psaki on Thursday refuted this notion.
Her statement Friday indicates that Biden could look to engage with a second group of bipartisan lawmakers on a potential agreement. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) are said to be among a group of lawmakers who may pitch another infrastructure proposal.
Manchin, who Biden would need on board were he to move forward with reconciliation, indicated in interviews Thursday that he does not currently support Democrats passing infrastructure on their own.
Biden also spoke with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, on Friday after he unveiled a $547 billion surface transportation bill that includes many of the priorities laid out in Biden's $2.25 trillion jobs plan. Biden expressed support for DeFazio's plans to mark up the bill next week on Wednesday, Psaki said.
-Updated at 6:26 p.m.
For American Medicine Men, Systemic Racism Is The New Bad Juju | Blog Posts | VDARE.com
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 12:02
As a part of our critical Initiative #1, Keep VDARE.com Publishing, we are celebrating one of our most prolific and brilliant all-star writers, John Derbyshire on his birthday weekend!
Since John Derbyshire's defenestration (his word, not ours!) from National Review for publishing the ever-relevant The Talk, Nonblack Version, we've been extremely grateful to be able to support his excellent writing (lucky for us!).
This birthday weekend, please help us fill up the John Derbyshire Fund by donating below and selecting the ''John Derbyshire Fund'' earmark, so we can keep delivering his clear-eyed, witty, and poignant writing and podcasting!
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Elon Musk's partner Grimes has 'proposition for the communists' on AI
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 19:21
Grimes is making waves on social media after delivering a plea for communists to get on board with artificial intelligence.
The musical artist, whose real name is Claire Boucher, took to TikTok on Wednesday to share a video of herself explaining why she considers AI "the fastest path to communism."
"I have a proposition for the communists," said Grimes, 33. "So, typically, most of the communists I know are not big fans of AI. But, if you think about it, AI is actually the fastest path to communism."
According to Grimes, "if implemented correctly," artificial intelligence could "theoretically solve for abundance."
"Like, we could totally get to a situation where nobody has to work, everybody is provided for with a comfortable state of being, comfortable living," she continued. "AI could automate all the farming, weed out systemic corruption, thereby bringing us to, as close as possible, genuine equality."
Grimes added that AI can provide "everything everybody loves about communism, but without the collective farm."
" 'Cause, let's be real, enforced farming is really not a vibe," she said.
The video has drawn over 1.6 million views on TikTok, along with criticism on Twitter.
Many have pointed out that communism calls for wealth redistribution and Boucher's partner Elon Musk dethroned Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as the world's richest person in January, according to reports.
30 years after the Berlin Wall's collapse, Americans don't understand communism's dangers
"i can't imagine taking grimes's opinions on economic systems seriously when she decided to marry elon musk lol," wrote @imalcohol1c on Twitter.
"grimes getting into communism discourse on tiktok when their man is mayor of capitalism kinda kills me," wrote @beImonttrevor.
"excuse me if I don't take her rambling musings about what communists ought to do seriously," wrote @zei_squirrel.
Don't celebrate Karl Marx. His Communism has a death count in the millions.
Grimes and her SpaceX and Tesla mastermind partner welcomed their first child together in May 2020, with Musk, 49, sharing a photo of himself holding the newborn in the hospital.
When a user inquired about the baby's name, Musk replied "X A-12 Musk." Their baby's name soon became a trending topic on Twitter as users shared reactions and memes inspired by the unusual name.
Grimes later tweeted a breakdown of the moniker's meaning:
"'X, the unknown variable
', my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence)
'A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft). No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent
+ (A=Archangel, my favorite song) (metal rat)"
Grimes now goes by 1 letter, says her and Elon Musk's 5-month-old son X A-XII enjoys 'radical art'
'X A-12 Musk': Grimes, Elon Musk explain the backstory of new baby boy's name
View | 55 Photos
Trump demands 100% tariffs on Chinese goods, debt cancellation, and $10T in reparations for COVID-19 | Fox News
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 11:00
Trump hits China, Fauci and Facebook in speech at North Carolina Republican ConventionDonald Trump returned to the GOP political scene Saturday with a speech at the North Carolina Republican Convention, where he called on China to pay "reparations" to the U.S. for coronavirus-related damages.
"All nations should work together to present China a bill for a minimum of $10 trillion to compensate for the damage," Trump said, adding that the figure was lower than it should be. "As a first step, all countries should collectively cancel any debt they owe to China as a down payment on reparations," he said.
Trump said he also thought the U.S. should put a 100% tariff on any goods imported from China.
In a lengthy speech Saturday night, the former president echoed sentiments from Republicans on the Hill and went after infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci for reversing his stance on the importance of wearing masks early in the pandemic.
DONALD TRUMP ENDORSES NC REP. TED BUDD FOR SENATE AS LARA TRUMP STANDS DOWN
"Fauci said powerfully at the beginning, no masks," Trump chided Saturday. "Then he became a radical masker," he said.
"Get a pair of goggles," he added as the conservative crowd laughed.
Trump, widely known for his own personal branding, mocked Fauci for his.
"He's a nice guy, not a great doctor, but a great promoter," Trump said to more laughs. "He's been wrong on almost every issue."
"Generally speaking I went the opposite way of Dr. Fauci," Trump added.
Emails released earlier this week through several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests revealed that at the onset of the pandemic, Fauci advised people not to wear masks. It turned out he had hoped to save them for first responders to prevent a shortage.
But as the virus escalated across the nation, he and other top officials reversed their guidance and advised all Americans to wear masks when in public spaces.
FAUCI HAUNTED BY THE GHOSTS OF ABANDONED CORONAVIRUS OPINIONS
Trump also reiterated unproven claims regarding the integrity of the 2020 election '' comments that resulted in Trump's two-year ban from Facebook.
The former president claimed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg "broke the law spending millions of dollars" on encouraging voting in Democratic-led areas in the country, he said.
Trump expressed his frustration at what he believes is a systematic attack against the right done by blocking posts and accounts of those who suggest the election was "rigged."
"They say they may allow me back in two years," Trump said. Adding, "I'm not too interested in that."
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Despite hitting some of the biggest issues facing the nation, Trump kept his speech jovial at times, commenting on the spike in growth of his youngest son.
Baron is 6'7" and still only 15, Trump told his supporters, joking that his son older Eric "is short."
"He's only 6'6", but we love our Eric," Trump added to laughs.
Why a silicon chip shortage has left carmakers in the slow lane | John Naughton | The Guardian
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 12:03
H ere's a tale of two industries '' cars and computers. In February, major car manufacturers such as Nissan and Honda began to warn shareholders that revenues were likely to fall significantly below expectations. And the reason wasn't Covid-19 '' well, not directly anyway: the pandemic had already significantly depressed sales in 2020. No, the problem was that manufacturers were now unable to make some cars because they couldn't get the silicon chips (processors and other semiconductor components) needed to get the vehicles rolling off production lines. As a result, some factories were temporarily closing or being put on short time.
Meanwhile, in the same month, the computer industry was looking at a record year. Laptop sales were up 90% year on year. Tablet sales had recovered after a long slump. Even desktop computers and printers, for heaven's sake, were flying off shelves and into delivery vans. So how did it happen that one industry struggled while another boomed?
The answer is that both had found themselves caught in a perfect storm that one had weathered and the other hadn't. This storm bought three forces simultaneously to bear on an unprepared world: the fragility of a global supply chain on which both industries critically depended, the exigencies of US-China geopolitics and a pandemic that, more or less overnight, transformed the way large parts of the industrialised world worked.
Once upon a time, cars were made the Henry Ford way, revolutionary in its time, but involving holding huge stocks of components to feed a relentless mechanised production line. As Japan started to rebuild after the war, its leading carmaker, Toyota, came up with a more efficient way of making them. It came to be called the ''lean machine'' and a key feature of it was to hold very small inventories of components and instead have the necessary parts delivered just when they were needed for a particular assembly task. It was the beginning of just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing and it eventually became the way all cars were made because lower inventories meant lower manufacturing costs, better quality and higher profit margins.
But JIT critically relies on an efficient, reliable and robust supply chain. If the chain falters, then everything grinds to a halt. This applies whether the part is a gearbox or a silicon chip and over the last two decades chips, particularly in engine management units (EMUs), have become vital to the functioning of even the humblest petrol or diesel vehicle. We're heading towards a future when cars will essentially be computers with wheels. But even now, if the relevant chips don't arrive, then it's crisis time.
Nissan may be a big cheese in the motoring business, but it's a midget compared with Apple, Amazon, Google or MicrosoftThe current distress of the car industry stems from the fact that the chips aren't arriving '' for several reasons. One is that there's a global semiconductor shortage as a result of geopolitical rivalry between the US and China. This was triggered initially by the decision to exclude Huawei from western mobile networks. Another is that the computer and mobile industries, having seen what had happened to Huawei, began stockpiling chips on a massive scale.
A third factor is that when car sales began to dwindle in February 2020, the manufacturers reduced their semiconductor orders, leaving the relevant manufacturing capacity available to be snapped up by a computer industry struggling to meet an exponential demand caused by increased home working. And the coup de grace was that car manufacturers are relatively small beer compared with the electronics industry and so found themselves languishing at the back of a queue for a dwindling supply. Nissan may be a big cheese in the motoring business, but it's a minnow compared with Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Google or Microsoft.
So we, not to mention the car manufacturers, have arrived at an interesting point. A huge industry built around the idea of propelling ourselves around via a series of controlled explosions, which, after all, is what an internal combustion engine is, needs to make a paradigm shift. VW, Ford, Mercedes, Volvo et al will need to become computer companies.
A few years ago, searching for a metaphor that would illustrate the change that's coming, I came on two new cars side by side in a French carpark. One was a Porsche 911, a glorious, beautifully engineered triumph of baroque technology. The other was a Tesla Model S. And the metaphor that came to mind? On the left, in place of the Porsche, I saw a beautifully engineered Nokia phone, which was great for making calls and sending texts and not much else; on the right, the Tesla stood in for the first iPhone, which was basically a handheld networked Unix computer that could also, at a pinch, make calls. And we know how that story ends.
Nokia was a very interesting company that made great hardware. But one always had the impression that, at every critical moment in the development of one of its devices, the needs of the software, ie computing, invariably took second place. The hardware guys called the shots. Which is why the path that led the car industry to its current silicon deficit rang some sobering bells.
What I've been readingAfter BillIn The Fall of the House of Gates? in the Nation, Tim Schwab argues that we need to confront our worship of wealth and addiction to hero narratives.Slow learnerAn interesting New York Times piece on how Nobel laureate Paul Romer became disenchanted with the tech industry. What took him so long?
Dear diaryMaker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule is a lovely essay by Paul Graham on why managers and makers inhabit different universes.
Yang chased by angry protesters during Brooklyn campaign stop
Thu, 03 Jun 2021 22:46
New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has a taken a more conservative tack in the race than some of his competitors. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images
NEW YORK '-- Three mayoral candidates descended on Brooklyn's Park Slope the morning after a contentious debate, but it was Andrew Yang who got the most attention '-- and not the kind he likely wanted.
Yang was headed to the Park Slope YMCA '-- a spot notorious for Mayor Bill de Blasio's oft inopportune workouts, in a move many expected would bring some criticism of the mayor. Instead, Yang was met by a dozen members of New York Communities for Change, a social justice organization, who shouted down the candidate and ultimately scuttled the event '-- forcing him to take questions on the move.
Yang has taken a more conservative tack in the race than some of his competitors and, even as a Democratic candidate for president, drew attention for his libertarian leanings. During the debate, rival candidate Scott Stringer called him a Republican, and during an interview this morning, Yang said he would adopt a governing similar to former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who was first elected as a Republican.
Known for his affable campaign style, Yang attempted to talk to the protesters ahead of the event. Undeterred, they carried signs and shouted "No new cops!" and "Hedge fund mayor!" '-- effectively drowning out the candidate's prepared remarks.
"We have been fighting for this city for many years, from fast food, raising the minimum wage, all this stuff. We have never seen Mr. Yang. In all this 16 years, I have been out on the streets fighting. I have never seen Mr. Yang until he was running for president," said LeRoy Johnson, a 58-year-old Jamaican immigrant who is the chair of the organization's Flatbush chapter. "We need a mayor who understands the city, you understand? We need someone who understands the people."
The group, which had previously endorsed Stringer before pulling its backing in the wake of sexual assault allegations (which Stringer has denied), still has members who support the city comptroller. Yang briefly descended into a nearby subway station. He later said the protesters were not representative of the wider electorate.
"The biggest chant I heard was 'No new cops' which I think goes against what I'm hearing from most New Yorkers," Yang said. "I'm very clear that 'defund the police' is the wrong approach."
Yang spokesperson Jake Sporn called the protest "a desperate attempt to distract from [Stringer's] failing campaign."
The Stringer campaign denied allegations of "astroturfing," a strategy where a protest is designed to appear organic, but is deployed expressly to create conflict.
"We had nothing to do with Andrew's troubles this morning '-- they were entirely of his own making," said Stringer spokesperson Tyrone Stevens. "Now that New Yorkers are on to his cons and gimmicks and turning on him, he's making silly, sorry excuses."
Other candidates had a more pleasant experience in the neighborhood.
Kathryn Garcia '-- a longtime Park Slope resident '-- ordered bagels and Maya Wiley toured the area, both chatting with voters. Garcia said posters on Reddit were impressed with her debate style, and a city employee approached her to ask for advice on finding fulfillment amid government bureaucracy.
Wiley received cheers from passersby outside the Park Slope Food Coop and weighed in on her performance at Wednesday night's debate.
"The debate was the opportunity for New Yorkers to see what courage looks like in the face of a crisis," Wiley told reporters. "It's the opportunity for candidates, for all of us, to show what our vision is but also to distinguish ourselves from other candidates, and to make sure voters are getting all the information. If I hear a candidate say something about what they've done, and I know there's a fact that is missing ... I'm going to share it with voters."
She cited Yang's track record with Venture for America, a nonprofit he established that wasn't the job creator he claimed it was.
Wiley added that "the setup was challenging" due to social distancing, and that not being able to hear each other well may have contributed to the yelling during the debate. She said she's gaining momentum as the progressive candidate and coalescing voters shedding from Stringer and former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales.
"It's not about ideology, it's about people's lives," Wiley said. "The issue we have in the city is we have to talk about the ideas and the plans that we all need."
Texas Dunks On Mark Cuban - State House Passes "Star Spangled Banner Protection Act"
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 03:30
EntertainmentMark Cuban got a brutal response from Texas Republicans after he stopped playing the national anthem before games.In February, we reported that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had stopped playing the national anthem before his team's games. This has since come back to haunt Cuban, as Texas Republicans have fired back by hitting him right where it hurts '' his wallet.
Full Story: Dallas Mavericks' Owner Mark Cuban Cancels National Anthem Before Games
Cuban Stops Playing National AnthemCuban never publicized not playing the national anthem. The news of what he was doing only broke at the time because other teams noticed on their own that ''The Star Spangled Banner'' never played. Cuban tried to defend himself at the time in a statement to NPR:
''We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart '-- no matter where I hear it played.''
''But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard. The hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.''
THIS IS WHY WE STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM! @NFL @NBA @mcuban @JoeBiden @Nike @Kaepernick7 pic.twitter.com/qXlQRrjVOj
'-- Dianna (@DiannaOpinion) May 28, 2021
Unlike the Mavericks, both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars defiantly said they would continue to show their love for America by playing ''The Star Spangled Banner.''
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Related: NBA Fires Back After Mark Cuban Cancels National Anthem Before Games
Texas Republicans Fire BackRepublican state Rep. Dustin Burrows hit back at Cuban in March by sponsoring Senate Bill 4, also known as the ''Star-Spangled Banner Act.''
This bill makes it so that while sporting teams have the right to not play the national anthem, those who do not play it will not be eligible for any funding from the state.
How genius is that?!
''It's very simple. If they do not want to play the national anthem, they don't take the tax dollars,'' Burrows told the Texas Tribune. ''If we're going to go ahead and subsidize with hard-earned American dollars the sporting facilities and the teams in the different ways that I think is articulated in this bill, then this would apply.''
''The Star Spangled Banner Act'' was passed this week. And, it is now headed to the desk of Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who will undoubtedly sign it into law.
Democrats Try To Fight BackThe debate over the ''The Star-Spangled Banner Act'' got intense on Monday, as state Democrats argued that teams should be required to play both the ''Star-Spangled Banner'' and ''Lift Every Voice and Sing,'' which is the so-called ''Black national anthem.''
''I don't even understand why we would feel the need to force someone into singing any song,'' said Rep. Jasmine Felicia Crockett (D). ''But if we are going to force people to sing a song, we should at least be mindful of the people playing on these teams, the people that are actually in the stands supporting these teams.''
However, Democrats were not successful in adding that song to the bill.
You've got to love Texas. God bless the Lone Star State!
Apple employees push back against returning to the office in internal letter - The Verge
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 20:05
''Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored''
By Zoe Schiffer on June 4, 2021 8:41 pm Apple employees are pushing back against a new policy that would require them to return to the office three days a week starting in early September. Staff members say they want a flexible approach where those who want to work remote can do so, according to an internal letter obtained by The Verge.
''We would like to take the opportunity to communicate a growing concern among our colleagues,'' the letter says. ''That Apple's remote/location-flexible work policy, and the communication around it, have already forced some of our colleagues to quit. Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.''
The move comes just two days after Tim Cook sent out a note to Apple employees saying they would need return to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays starting in the fall. Most employees can work remotely twice a week. They can also be remote for up to two weeks a year, pending manager approval.
It's an easing of restrictions compared to Apple's previous company culture, which famously discouraged employees from working from home prior to the pandemic. Yet it's still more conservative compared to other tech giants. Both Twitter and Facebook have told employees they can work from home forever, even after the pandemic ends.
A clear divideFor some Apple workers, the current policy doesn't go far enough, and shows a clear divide between how Apple executives and employees view remote work.
''Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored,'' the letter says. ''Messages like, 'we know many of you are eager to reconnect in person with your colleagues back in the office,' with no messaging acknowledging that there are directly contradictory feelings amongst us feels dismissive and invalidating...It feels like there is a disconnect between how the executive team thinks about remote / location-flexible work and the lived experiences of many of Apple's employees.''
The letter, addressed to Tim Cook, started in a Slack channel for ''remote work advocates'' which has roughly 2,800 members. About 80 people were involved in writing and editing the note.
Apple employees say that embracing remote work is paramount for the company's diversity and inclusion efforts. ''For inclusion and diversity to work, we have to recognize how different we all are, and with those differences, come different needs and different ways to thrive,'' they say.
Here are the specific asks outlined by employees in the note:
We are formally requesting that Apple considers remote and location-flexible work decisions to be as autonomous for a team to decide as are hiring decisions.
We are formally requesting a company-wide recurring short survey with a clearly structured and transparent communication / feedback process at the company-wide level, organization-wide level, and team-wide level, covering topics listed below.
We are formally requesting a question about employee churn due to remote work be added to exit interviews.
We are formally requesting a transparent, clear plan of action to accommodate disabilities via onsite, offsite, remote, hybrid, or otherwise location-flexible work.
We are formally requesting insight into the environmental impact of returning to onsite in-person work, and how permanent remote-and-location-flexibility could offset that impact.
The letter was sent out for Apple employees to sign late Friday afternoon.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.
Read the full letter below:
Matt Walsh launches fundraiser for AOC's 'abuela' after Dem blamed Trump for home damage from Hurricane Maria | Fox News
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 21:20
Media top headlines June 4Mike Pompeo alleging that the NIH tried to suppress a State Department COVID-19 probe, Fauci telling Americans to not be so 'accusatory with China, and a Yahoo News reporter asking Jen Psaki about a possible White House cat round out today's top media headlines.
Conservative commentator Matt Walsh is taking matters into his own hands after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appeared to blame former President Trump for the poor conditions of her grandmother's home following Hurricane Maria.
On Tuesday, the Democratic "Squad" member took to Twitter following her visit to her "abuela" ("grandmother" in Spanish) for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak and documented the damage to her home that remained from the natural disaster in 2017.
AOC SAYS GOP CAUCUS MADE UP OF 'WHITE SUPREMACIST SYMPATHIZERS,' SUGGESTS MCCARTHY 'ANSWERS' TO QANON
"Just over a week ago, my abuela fell ill. I went to Puerto Rico to see her- my 1st time in a year+ bc of COVID. This is her home," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted while sharing images of buckets on the floor catching leaking water and damage to the ceiling. "Hurricane Mara relief hasn't arrived. Trump blocked relief $ for PR. People are being forced to flee ancestral homes, & developers are taking them."
She continued, "We immediately got to work reaching out to community advocates and leaders and following the money. What's happening to Puerto Ricans is systemic. Much of it can be traced to La Junta, aka the Wall Street-connected fiscal control board that the US gave power to over the island."
Ocasio-Cortez accused the Trump administration of overseeing "millions in public $" being handed to "unqualified donor pals" and imposing "extremely difficult eligibility rules for Puerto Ricans, which allowed mass rejections of recovery fund applications."
"I want to be clear - while Trump admin had a major role, it wasn't just them," the congresswoman wrote in the Twitter thread. "La Junta, local policies, etc were all on the same page: policies that pushed out local families. To turn this around, we need audits & get recovery relief to people ASAP, without the onerous strings. And for the record - my abuela is doing okay. It's not about us, but about what's happening to Puerto Rican's across the island. She had a place to go to and be cared for - what about the thousands of people who don't?"
AOC: ANYONE WHO USES TERM 'SURGE' ABOUT BORDER CRISIS IS INVOKING A 'MILITARISTIC FRAME'
At the time, Walsh reacted to her tweets saying, "Shameful that you live in luxury while allowing your own grandmother to suffer in these squalid conditions."
The Democrat fired back, "You don't even have a concept for the role that 1st-gen, first-born daughters play in their families. My abuela is okay. But instead of only caring for mine & letting others suffer, I'm calling attention to the systemic injustices you seem totally fine w/ in having a US colony."
On Friday, Walsh launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to "Save AOC's Abuela's Ancestral Home."
"One cannot be certain of the cost to repair grandma's house, but surely most of the work could be completed for the price of AOC's shiny Tesla Model 3," Walsh wrote in the campaign description. "Sadly, virtue-signaling isn't going to fix abuela's roof. So we are.Walsh continued, "Let's all kick in to help save AOC's abuela's ancestral home. Any amount is appreciated, but the cost of a monthly lease payment on that Tesla is around $499'... All proceeds will be donated to abuela, if she will accept them."
The Daily Wire personality promoted the fundraiser on Twitter, revealing he kicked off the fundraising with a $499 donation, which he stressed is the cost of a Tesla monthly lease payment.
The #HelpAbuela campaign has already attracted big-name donors including Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, and Dave Rubin.
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The campaign raised over $100,000 in less than 12 hours. Walsh has since disabled new donations on the GoFundMe page.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's office did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
A backlash against gender ideology is starting in universities | The Economist
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 12:54
Jun 5th 2021WASHINGTON, DC
H OURS BEFORE Jo Phoenix, a professor of criminology at Britain's Open University, was due to give a talk at Essex University about placing transgender women in women's prisons, students threatened to barricade the hall. They complained that Ms Phoenix was a ''transphobe'' likely to engage in ''hate speech''. A flyer with an image of a gun and text reading ''shut the fuck up, TERF'' (trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a slur) was circulating. The university told Ms Phoenix it was postponing the event. Then the sociology department asked her for a copy of her talk. Days later it told her it had voted to rescind its invitation, and would issue no more. Ms Phoenix says she was ''absolutely furious and deeply upset'' about both the damage to her reputation and to academic freedom.
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Essex University's vice-chancellor asked Akua Reindorf, a lawyer who specialises in employment and discrimination law, to investigate. Eighteen months later, in mid-May, the university published Ms Reindorf's report on its website. It said Essex had infringed Ms Phoenix's right to freedom of expression and that its decision to ''exclude and blacklist'' her was also unlawful. It advised the university to apologise to Ms Phoenix and to Rosa Freedman, a professor of law at Reading University whom it had excluded from an event during Holocaust Memorial Week ''because of her views on gender identity''. (Essex in the end allowed Ms Freedman to attend.)
Ms Reindorf's report marks a challenge to the transgender dogma that originated on American campuses and has spread to universities around the English-speaking world. Its proponents hold that gender identity'--the feeling that one is a man or a woman'--is as important as biological sex and that trans people should in all circumstances be regarded as the gender with which they identify. This has increasingly influenced policy-makers: several places allow trans women into spaces that were once reserved for females, from sports teams to prisons and shelters for victims of domestic violence.
The opposing viewpoint, which is often described as ''gender-critical'', might once have been considered mainstream. It argues that, since biological sex is unchangeable, even with hormones, surgery or any other form of treatment, the conviction that one has been born in the wrong body should not be dispositive. Gender critics argue that biological differences between the sexes make the continued provision of female-only spaces necessary. Trans activists say that trans women should have access to those places, too. ''The emphasis that so-called gender-critical women place on what they describe as threats to women ignores the fact that trans women are overwhelmingly those who are threatened in single-sex spaces,'' says Lisa Miracchi, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has signed open letters disapproving of gender-critical feminists.
The arguments the two sides put forward, in other words, are complex and debatable. But many trans activists think that any disagreement is tantamount to hate speech and try to suppress it. Some universities with policies that reflect the belief that trans women are women have acted on complaints about people who do nothing more than express a contrary view. In May, after students at Abertay University in Dundee reported that a student had said at a seminar that women have vaginas and men are stronger, the university launched an investigation.
In some cases, academics who have objected to ''gender ideology'''--the view that gender identity should trump biology'--have been removed from professional posts. In April Callie Burt, an associate professor at Georgia State University, was fired from the editorial board of Feminist Criminology. She was told her presence might deter others from submitting manuscripts. The problem appears to have been her criticism of the conflation of sex and gender identity in proposed anti-discrimination legislation. Last June Kathleen Lowrey, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta, was removed as the chair of an undergraduate programme after students complained they felt unsafe. She says she reckons gender-critical posters on her office door were to blame.
Yet the most worrying effect is likely to be invisible. An unknown number of university employees avoid expressing their opinion for fear it will damage their career or turn them into pariahs. The report about Essex says witnesses described a ''culture of fear'' among those with gender-critical views. This is unlikely to be limited to one university. The report also argues that expressing the view that trans women are not women is not hate speech and is not illegal under British law, whatever university policies might suggest.
The fight backThe report is likely to embolden gender-critical academics in Britain, at least, where they are already more outspoken. There are signs that a backlash to gender ideology is building elsewhere, too. In February, when Donna Hughes, a professor of women's studies at Rhode Island University, published an article critical of gender ideology, petitions sprouted calling for her to be fired. Her university denounced her and warned that the right to free speech was ''not boundless''. Ms Hughes, who is a co-founder of the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA), which was launched in March, says her university encouraged students to file complaints. She hired an ''aggressive'' lawyer. In May the AFA announced the university had dropped its investigations into Ms Hughes and affirmed her right to speak.
Ms Hughes's example is striking because in America, where concerns about free speech in universities tend to focus on racial sensitivities, gender-critical views are rarely expressed publicly. This is partly because there is no federal legislation that specifically protects trans (or gay) people from discrimination, which lends a particular urgency to LGBT activism. Jami Taylor, a professor of political science at the University of Toledo and a trans woman, says she has experienced ''transgender-related bias'' throughout her career, from being called ''it'' by students and a colleague to being guided to the men's bathroom.
America's political polarisation makes it harder yet to debate such topics. Trans activists often portray gender criticism as a far-right cause. Though it is becoming that, too, it is a topic on which leftist feminists and social conservatives find agreement. In Britain most outspoken gender-critical academics are left-leaning, atheist feminists. Some in America are, too.
Their chief concern is the preservation of female-only spaces. In February Holly Lawford-Smith, a professor of philosophy at the University of Melbourne, launched a website (noconflicttheysaid.org) which invited women to describe their experiences of sharing female-only spaces with trans women. It is not a research project and its reports are unverified. Most describe a feeling of discomfort rather than any form of physical assault. Soon afterwards, around 100 of her colleagues signed an open letter claiming the website promoted ''harmful ideology''. It called for ''swift and decisive action by the university''. Ms Lawford-Smith kept her job, but there have been at least two marches at the university decrying that. ''I think people quite enjoy having a nemesis on campus,'' she says.
How did an ideology that brooks no dissent become so entrenched in institutions supposedly dedicated to fostering independent thinking? Pressure groups have played a big part. In Britain most universities and many public-sector bodies have joined the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme, which means they have drawn up policies that reflect the group's position on trans identity. The report about Essex said the university's policy ''states the law as Stonewall would prefer it to be, rather than the law as it is'', and could cause the university to break the law by indirectly discriminating against women. Itrecommended that Essex reconsider its relationship with Stonewall. Several bodies, including the government's equality watchdog, have since left the Champions scheme.
The influence of pressure groups exemplifies the other big reason trans ideology has gained a foothold in academia: its elision with the rights of gay people. Many organisations established to defend gay rights have morphed into trans-rights groups. Tamsin Blaxter, a research fellow at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge and a trans woman, says that academia has become a lot more welcoming to trans people, thanks largely to Stonewall. But some gay people disagree with its new focus. In 2019 some supporters split from the group, in part owing to concerns that its stance encourages gay people to redefine themselves as trans (and straight), to form the LGB Alliance. Similar groups have sprung up around the world.
Students increasingly express gender-critical views. This year a group of feminist students in Cambridge ran a ''replatforming'' event for gender-critical scholars who had been excluded from academic events (Ms Phoenix was among the speakers). Sophie Watson, one of the organisers, says she has lost friends over the issue. ''There's so much fear over using the wrong language'--to disagree with the line that trans women are women is really considered hateful,'' she says.
Campus revoltGender-critical academics hope that as more of them speak out, others who share their concerns but were afraid to express them will feel emboldened. When Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at Sussex University and one of Britain's most prominent gender-critical academics, was given a government award for services to education last December, hundreds of academics from around the world signed an open letter denouncing her. More than 400 signed a counter letter in her defence. But many people, she says, prefer to express their support privately.
Universities will no doubt watch how the debate evolves outside academia, especially in the courts. The dangers of eroding free speech are becoming increasingly apparent as judges rule on matters from the medical treatment of trans-identifying children to people who have been sacked after being accused of transphobia. If Maya Forstater, a British researcher who lost her job because of her gender-critical views, wins her appeal against the ruling of an employment tribunal that this was lawful, universities may become quicker to defend their gender-critical employees.
Regulation may also play a part. In February the British government announced proposals to strengthen academic freedom at universities, including the appointment of a free-speech champion. Some (though not all) gender-critical academics welcome the idea. In America lawsuits invoking free speech may make a difference. But it would be better if universities, which owe their success to a tradition of dissent and debate, did in fact defend it. '
This article appeared in the International section of the print edition under the headline "Let's talk about sex"
Bill Ackman's Pershing Square nears biggest-ever SPAC deal with Universal Music, source says
Thu, 03 Jun 2021 22:48
Published Thu, Jun 3 2021 5:59 PM EDTUpdated 11 Min Ago
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The potential deal values Universal Music at roughly $40 billion, according to the source. That would be the biggest SPAC deal on record, Dealogic data shows.The deal would knock Southeast Asia's ride-hailing giant Grab's SPAC merger with Altimeter Growth Corp. out of first place.Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Billionaire investor Bill Ackman's blank-check company is closing in on a deal to take Universal Music Group public in what would be the largest special purpose acquisition company deal ever, a source told CNBC's Leslie Picker on Thursday.
The potential SPAC merger values Universal Music at roughly $40 billion, according to the source. That would make it the largest SPAC deal ever, Dealogic data shows.
The deal would knock Southeast Asia's ride-hailing giant Grab's SPAC merger with Altimeter Growth Corp. out of first place. That deal values Grab at more than $30 billion, according to SPAC Research.
Pershing Square Tontine Holding (PSTH) shares fell more than 8% in extended trading after closing Thursday at $25.05. The SPAC IPO was offered at $20 a share and it started trading in September 2020.
French media company Vivendi is the majority owner of Universal Music. Chinese tech company Tencent is a minority stakeholder.
Blank-check companies are usually formed to raise funds through an IPO to finance a merger or acquisition, typically within two years.
The news came as the SPAC market hit a roadblock on the regulatory front as the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed an accounting rule change that would classify SPAC warrants as liabilities instead of equity instruments. SPAC issuance has slowed down drastically after a record first quarter.
A total of 151 SPAC initial public offerings have already been completed in 2021, raising $47.6 billion, data from SPAC Research shows. There are 289 deals actively looking for targets, according to SPAC Research.
The proprietary CNBC SPAC 50 index, which tracks the 50 largest U.S.-based pre-merger blank-check deals by market cap, has erased its 2021 gains amid heightened regulatory scrutiny and traded about 4% lower on the year.
'-- with reporting from CNBC's Yun Li.
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USA Today Battles FBI Demand to Know Who Read Florida Shooting Story
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 03:11
Alastair Pike/Getty Images
The FBI is demanding that USA Today provide the bureau with information on readers who viewed a story about a fatal February shooting in Florida that killed two agents.
The agency is asking the newspaper's publisher, Gannett, to provide information that includes IP addresses and ''telephone or instruments numbers,'' including serial numbers, of readers who accessed the story during a 35-minute period after the shooting took place on February 3, according to a subpoena in the case.
The subpoena was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on April 29, but wasn't made public until late May. Documents in the case were first published by Politico.
A May 28 motion to quash the subpoena filed by Ballard Spahr's Charles Tobin and Maxwell Mishkin on Gannett's behalf showed the company fighting the agency on First Amendment grounds, writing, ''A government demand for records that would identify specific individuals who read specific expressive materials, like the subpoena at issue here, invades the First Amendment rights of both publisher and reader, and must be quashed accordingly,''
The two agents in the case, Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger, were killed in an exchange of gunfire during an attempt to arrest 55-year-old David Lee Huber, a suspect in a child pornography case. Huber also died in the incident, which means it isn't clear who the FBI is attempting to locate.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]
U.S. Put Gag Order on Times Executives Amid Fight Over Email Logs - The New York Times
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 19:38
The push began in the Trump administration and continued under President Biden, and the Justice Department obtained a gag order to keep it from public view.
There was no precedent for the government to impose a gag order on New York Times personnel as part of a leak investigation, said David McCraw, a top lawyer for the newspaper. Credit... Zack DeZon for The New York Times Published June 4, 2021 Updated June 5, 2021, 1:09 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON '-- In the last weeks of the Trump administration and continuing under President Biden, the Justice Department fought a secret legal battle to obtain the email logs of four New York Times reporters in a hunt for their sources, a top lawyer for the newspaper said Friday night.
While the Trump administration never informed The Times about the effort, the Biden administration continued waging the fight this year, telling a handful of top Times executives about it but imposing a gag order to shield it from public view, said the lawyer, David McCraw, who called the move unprecedented.
The gag order prevented the executives from disclosing the government's efforts to seize the records even to the executive editor, Dean Baquet, and other newsroom leaders.
Mr. McCraw said Friday that a federal court had lifted the order, which had been in effect since March 3, freeing him to reveal what had happened. The battle was over an ultimately unsuccessful effort by the Justice Department to seize email logs from Google, which operates The Times's email system, and which had resisted the effort to obtain the information.
The disclosure came two days after the Biden Justice Department notified the four reporters that the Trump administration, hunting for their sources, had in 2020 secretly seized months of their phone records from early 2017. That notification followed similar disclosures in recent weeks about seizing communications records of reporters at The Washington Post and CNN.
Mr. Baquet condemned both the Trump and Biden administrations for their actions, portraying the effort as an assault on the First Amendment.
''Clearly, Google did the right thing, but it should never have come to this,'' Mr. Baquet said. ''The Justice Department relentlessly pursued the identity of sources for coverage that was clearly in the public interest in the final 15 days of the Trump administration. And the Biden administration continued to pursue it. As I said before, it profoundly undermines press freedom.''
There was no precedent, Mr. McCraw said, for the government to impose a gag order on New York Times personnel as part of a leak investigation. He also said the government had never before seized The Times's phone records without advance notification of the effort.
A Google spokeswoman said that while it does not comment on specific cases, the company was ''firmly committed to protecting our customers' data and we have a long history of pushing to notify our customers about any legal requests.''
Anthony Coley, a Justice Department spokesman, noted that ''on multiple occasions in recent months,'' the Biden-era department had moved to delay enforcement of the order and it then ''voluntarily moved to withdraw the order before any records were produced.''
He added: ''The department strongly values a free and independent press, and is committed to upholding the First Amendment.''
Last month, Mr. Biden said he would not permit the Justice Department during his administration to seize communications logs that could reveal reporters' sources, calling the practice ''simply, simply wrong.'' (Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department had gone after such data in several leak investigations.)
On Saturday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, released a statement reiterating the president's policy and distancing the White House from the department's effort to obtain email data from Times reporters.
''As appropriate given the independence of the Justice Department in specific criminal cases, no one at the White House was aware of the gag order until Friday night,'' Ms. Psaki said.
In a separate statement on Saturday, the Justice Department said it had updated its policy involving reporters' records.
The letter this week disclosing the seizure of phone records involving the Times reporters '-- Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt '-- had hinted at the existence of the separate fight over data that would show whom they had been in contact with over email.
The letters said the government had also acquired a court order to seize logs of their emails, but ''no records were obtained,'' providing no further details. But with the lifting of the gag order, Mr. McCraw said he had been freed to explain what had happened.
Prosecutors in the office of the United States attorney in Washington had obtained a sealed court order from a magistrate judge on Jan. 5 requiring Google to secretly turn over the information. But Google resisted, apparently demanding that The Times be told, as its contract with the company requires.
The Justice Department continued to press the request after the Biden administration took over, but in early March prosecutors relented and asked a judge to permit telling Mr. McCraw. But the disclosure to him came with a nondisclosure order preventing him from talking about it to other people.
Mr. McCraw said it was ''stunning'' to receive an email from Google telling him what was going on. At first, he said, he did not know who the prosecutor was, and because the matter was sealed, there were no court documents he could access about it.
The next day, Mr. McCraw said, he was told the name of the prosecutor '-- a career assistant United States attorney in Washington, Tejpal Chawla '-- and opened negotiations with him. Eventually, Mr. Chawla agreed to ask the judge to modify the gag order so Mr. McCraw could discuss the matter with The Times's general counsel and the company's outside lawyers, and then with two senior Times executives: A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher, and Meredith Kopit Levien, the chief executive.
''We made clear that we intended to go to court to challenge the order if it was not withdrawn,'' Mr. McCraw said. Then, on June 2, he said, the Justice Department told him it would ask the court to quash the order to Google at the same time that it disclosed the earlier phone records seizure, which he had not known about.
He described the position he was in as ''untenable,'' especially when it came to talking with Times reporters about chatter involving some kind of fight involving Google and a leak investigation related to The Times.
The Justice Department has not said what leak it was investigating, but the identity of the four reporters who were targeted and the date range of the communications sought strongly suggested that it centered on classified information in an April 2017 article about how James B. Comey Jr., the former F.B.I. director, handled politically charged investigations during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The article included discussion of an email or memo by a Democratic operative that Russian hackers had stolen, but that was not among the tranche that intelligence officials say Russia provided to WikiLeaks for public disclosure as part of its hack-and-dump operation to manipulate the election.
The American government found out about the memo, which was said to express confidence that the attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, would not let an investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server go too far. Mr. Comey was said to worry that if Ms. Lynch made and announced the decision not to charge Ms. Clinton, Russia would put out the memo to make it seem illegitimate, leading to his unorthodox decision to announce that the F.B.I. was recommending against charges in the matter.
The Justice Department under then-President Donald Trump, who fired Mr. Comey and considered him an enemy, sought for years to find evidence sufficient to charge him with the crime of making unauthorized disclosures of classified information '-- a push that eventually came to focus on whether he had anything to do with The Times's learning about the existence of the document Russian hackers had stolen.
The long-running leak investigation into Mr. Comey was seen inside of the Justice Department as one of the most politicized and contentious, even by the standards of a department that had been prevailed upon in several instances to use leak investigations and other policies concerning book publication to attack former officials who criticized Mr. Trump.
Throughout last year, prosecutors talked about whether or not to close the leak investigation into Mr. Comey, according to two people familiar with the case, in part because there seemed to be little evidence to show that the former F.B.I. director had shared classified information with the press.
Last fall, department officials discussed whether the investigation had run its course and prosecutors should draft a declination memo that would explain why Mr. Comey would not be prosecuted, one of the people said. But the F.B.I. and the career prosecutors working on the case wanted to keep the investigation open, the people said, and in January prosecutors obtained a special court order to require Google to turn over data on the reporters' emails.
With Mr. Trump soon to be out of office, the order was controversial among some inside of the department, according to two people with knowledge of the case. It was seen as unusually aggressive for a case that would likely end in no charges. During the transition from the Trump to the Biden administration, at least one official wrote in a memo that the case should be closed, according to a person familiar with the transition.
In the court filings seeking to compel Google to turn over logs of who was communicating with the four reporters who wrote that story, the Justice Department persuaded the judge that the secrecy was justified because, as the judge wrote on Jan. 5, ''there is reason to believe that notification of the existence of this order will seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation, including by giving targets an opportunity to destroy or tamper with evidence.''
The Jan. 5 document does not acknowledge that the existence of the leak investigation into Mr. Comey and its subject matter was by then already known, because The Times had reported on it almost a year earlier. It is not clear whether the Justice Department told the judge about that article, or instead suggested that the inquiry was still a well-kept secret.
Nigeria bans Twitter after company deletes President Buhari's tweet - CNN
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 11:58
Abuja, Nigeria (CNN)The Nigerian government says it has "indefinitely suspended" Twitter's operations in the country, the Ministry of Information and Culture announced in a statement on Friday.
"The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria," it read.
The statement, which was posted on the ministry's official Twitter handle on Friday evening, accused the American social media company of allowing its platform to be used "for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence."
Some pointed out the irony of announcing the ban on Twitter, with one person replying: "You're using Twitter to suspend Twitter? Are you not mad?"
The suspension comes two days after Twitter deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari that was widely perceived as offensive.
In that tweet on Tuesday, the Nigerian leader threatened to deal with people in the country's southeast, who he blames for the recurring attacks on public infrastructure in the region.
"Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand," Buhari wrote in the now-deleted tweet, referring to the brutal two-year Nigeria-Biafra war, which killed an estimated
one to three million people, mostly from the Igbo tribe in the eastern part of the country between 1967-1970.
The tweet was deleted Wednesday after many Nigerians flagged it to Twitter and the platform said it had violated its policy on abusive behavior.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed criticized Twitter's action and accused the social media giant of "double standards."
Mohammed also questioned Twitter's motives in Nigeria, saying, "the mission of Twitter in Nigeria is very very suspect..." at a
news conference on Wednesday after Buhari's tweet was deleted.
Twitter said in a statement that it is "deeply concerned by the blocking of Twitter in Nigeria."
"Access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential human right in modern society. We will work to restore access for all those in Nigeria who rely on Twitter to communicate and connect with the world," it
said in a statement.Twitter's site blocked
From the early hours of Saturday, Twitter's site was inaccessible for many Nigerians. It was a swift implementation of the government ban which took effect just hours after the policy was announced.
Many Nigerians have condemned the ban, with the country's main opposition party describing the move as "unwarranted" and "pushing Nigerians to the wall."
39 million Nigerians have a Twitter account, according to NOI polls, and issues of public concern are frequently debated on the app.
It was a popular medium for organizing last year's anti-police brutality End Sars protests, and Jack Dorsey, Twitter's founder donated to the cause, which drew the government's ire.
"Our party notes that Mr. Lai Mohammed, in his statement, failed to cite an example of where Nigerians used @Twitter as a platform to promote acts that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence as he claimed," the opposition Peoples Democratic Party
said in a statement.The Nigerian Bar Association has threatened to take legal action against the Nigerian government if the Twitter ban is not "immediately reversed."
The President of the association, Olumide Akpata, stated Twitter's suspension impedes "the right of Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through that medium."
A Lagos-based civil society group, SERAP, has also vowed to drag the Nigerian government to court over the ban.
"...We're suing Nigerian authorities over their ILLEGAL indefinite suspension... @NigeriaGov, we'll see you in court."
The move has also attracted international condemnation. Amnesty International, the Embassy of Sweden in Nigeria, as well as the British and Canadian missions in the country have spoken up against Twitter's suspension by Nigerian authorities, all highlighted the importance of freedom of speech for Nigerians.
'Thank God For VPN'
A Twitter trend "Thank God For VPN" has gone viral on the app as many Nigerians celebrate their ability to circumvent the Twitter ban, through the use of a virtual private network (VPN).
Users who are logged into a secured VPN server can access public networks while their internet connection remains anonymous and encrypted.
A Nigerian Twitter user,
Obasipee, wrote: "I just woke up this morning, I noticed my tweets can't go, I sharply on my VPN.. finally I'm tweeting live from Atlanta.. Thank God For VPN." Buhari came into power by harnessing the power of social media in 2015 when he became the first politician to defeat an incumbent president at the polls.
Buhari, a former military dictator, relied on his party's social media campaigns to rebrand his candidacy which had been flawed by his autocratic antecedents.
"The digital strategy has been a lifeline of the campaign for young people. We needed to create an image that enabled people to connect with him," Adebola Williams, the co-founder of StateCraft, a governance consulting firm,
said in an interview at the time.
The Buhari administration would later champion plans to regulate the use of social media in Nigeria.
Twitter announced in April that it will set up its first Africa base in Ghana, the second-most populous country in West Africa, after Nigeria.
In a statement announcing the decision, Twitter described Ghana "as a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet."
At the time, Information Minister Lai Mohammed -- whose ministry announced the Twitter ban -- blamed the decision on Nigerians criticizing their country.
"This is what you get when you de-market your own country. We are not saying that you should not criticize the country but be fair and patriotic. You can imagine the kind of job opportunities that siting that headquarters in Nigeria would have created, the kind of visibility it would have given Nigeria but we destroyed it," Mohammed said.
THE EDGE "BILLIONAIRES' DINNER" 2015 | Edge.org
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 17:53
Event Date:[ 3.18.15 ] Location: Vancouver, Canada
Anne Wojcicki & Jean Pigozzi
"To accomplish the extraordinary, you must seek extraordinary people."
A new generation of artists, writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses, might create an abundance of new flowers and fruit and trees and birds to enrich the ecology of our planet. Most of these artists would be amateurs, but they would be in close touch with science, like the poets of the earlier Age of Wonder. The new Age of Wonder might bring together wealthy entrepreneurs ... and a worldwide community of gardeners and farmers and breeders, working together to make the planet beautiful as well as fertile, hospitable to hummingbirds as well as to humans. '--Freeman Dyson
In his 2009 talk at the Bristol Festival of Ideas, Freeman Dyson pointed out that we are entering a new Age of Wonder, which is dominated by computational biology. The leaders of the new Age of Wonder, Dyson noted, include "biology wizards" Kary Mullis, Craig Venter, medical engineer Dean Kamen, and "computer wizards" Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Charles Simonyi, and John Brockman and Katinka Matson, the cofounders of Edge, the nexus of this intellectual activity.
Every year since 1999, we have hosted The Edge Annual Dinner (sometimes referred to as ''The Billionaires' Dinner''). Guests have included the leading third culture intellectuals of our time, dining and conversing with the founders of Amazon, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Space X, Skype, and Twitter. It is a remarkable gathering of outstanding minds'--the people who are rewriting our global culture.
Paul Allen, Julia Milner, Yuri Milner
Through such gatherings, its online publications, master classes, and seminars, Edge, operating under the umbrella of the non-profit 501 (c) (3) Edge Foundation, Inc., promotes interactions between the third culture intellectuals and technology pioneers of the post-industrial, digital age, the "worldwide community of gardeners and farmers and breeders" referred to by Dyson as the leaders of the "Age of Wonder''. Edge members share the boundaries of their knowledge and experience with each other and respond to challenges, comments, criticisms, and insights. The constant shifting of metaphors, the intensity with which we advance our ideas to each other'--this is what intellectuals do. Edge draws attention to the larger context of intellectual life.
An indication of Edge's role in contemporary culture can be measured, in part, by its Google PageRank of "8", which places it in the same category as The Economist, Financial Times, Le Monde, La Repubblica, Science, S¼ddeutsche Zeitung, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. Its influence is evident from the attention paid by the global media:
"The world's smartest website '... a salon for the world's finest minds." Guardian'--"the fabulous Edge symposium" New York Times'--"A lavish cerebral feast", Atlantic'--"Not just wonderful, but plausible", Wall St. Journal "Fabulous", Independent'--" Thrilling", FAZ'--"The brightest minds", Vanity Fair, "The intellectual elite", Guardian'--"Intellectual skyrockets of stunning brilliance", Arts & Letter Daily'--"Terrific, thought provoking", Guardian'-- "An intellectual treasure trove, San Francisco Chronicle'--"Thrilling colloquium", Telegraph'--"Fantastically stimulating", BBC Radio 4'--"Astounding reading", Boston Globe'--"Where the age of biology began", S¼ddeutsche Zeitung'--"Splendidly enlightened", Independent'--The world's best brains", Times'-- "Brilliant... a eureka moment at the edge of knowledge", Sunday Times'--"Fascinating and provocative", Guardian'--"Uplifting ...enthralling", Daily Mail'--"Breathtaking in scope", New Scientist'--"Exhilarating, hilarious, and chilling", Evening Standard'--"Today's visions of science tomorrow", New York Times
Larry Page & Jesse Dylan
Edge is different from The Invisible College (1646), The Club (1764), The Cambridge Apostles (1820), The Bloomsbury Group (1905), or The Algonquin Roundtable (1919), but it offers the same quality of intellectual adventure.
Perhaps the closest resemblance is to the early nineteenth century Lunar Society of Birmingham (1765), an informal dinner club and learned society of leading cultural figures of the new industrial age'--James Watt, Joseph Priestly, Benjamin Franklin, and the two grandfathers of Charles Darwin, Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood. The Society met each month near the full moon. They referred to themselves as "lunaticks". In a similar fashion, Edge attempts to inspire conversations exploring the themes of the post-industrial age.
ITim O'Reilly & Marissa Mayer
In this regard, Edge is not just a group of people. I see it as the constant shifting of metaphors, the advancement of ideas, the agreement on, and the invention of, reality.
'--John Brockman Vancouver, March 18, 2015
Weight: George Dyson, Science Historian, Author, Turing's Cathedral;
Katinka Matson, Co-Founder, Edge, President, Brockman, Inc.;
Yves Behar, Designer, Fuseproject;
Julia MilnerGeorge Dyson, Science Historian, Author, Turing's Cathedral;
Katinka Matson, Co-Founder, Edge, President, Brockman, Inc.;
Yves Behar, Designer, Fuseproject;
Julia MilnerNick Bostrom, Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford, Author, Superintelligence;
Salar Kamangar, Google, Former CEO, YouTube, Founding Member, Google's Product Team
Nick Bostrom, Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford, Author, Superintelligence;
Salar Kamangar, Google, Former CEO, YouTube, Founding Member, Google's Product Team
Stewart Brand, Founder, The Whole Earth Catalog, Co-Founder, The Long Now Foundation, Author, Whole Earth Discipline;
Jaan Tallinn, Chairman, MetaMed, Founding Engineer, Skype, Kazaa
Stewart Brand, Founder, The Whole Earth Catalog, Co-Founder, The Long Now Foundation, Author, Whole Earth Discipline;
Jaan Tallinn, Chairman, MetaMed, Founding Engineer, Skype, Kazaa
Larry Page , Co-Founder & CEO, Google & Founder, Calico ; Jesse Dylan, Filmmaker, Founder, Wondros
Peter Gabriel, Musician, Singer-Songwriter, Activist; Anne Wojcicki, Co-Founder, 23andMe
Paul Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft, Founder & CEO, Vulcan, Inc., Owner, Seattle Seahawks, Co-Founder, Allen Institute for Brain Science; Julia Milner, Digital Artist; Yuri Milner, Technology Investor, Science Philanthropist
George Dyson, Science Historian, Author, Turing's Cathedral; Katinka Matson, Co-Founder, Edge, President, Brockman, Inc.; Yves Behar, Designer, Fuseproject; Julia Milner
Nick Bostrom, Director, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford, Author, Superintelligence; Salar Kamangar, Google, Former CEO, YouTube, Founding Member, Google's Product Team
Brit Morin, Founder & CEO of Brit + Co; Maria Laura Salinas; Larry Page; Jean Pigozzi; Lori Park; Andrian Kreye; Lucy Page Southworth; Stavros Niarchos; Ricardo Salinas
Rodney Brooks, Director of MIT's Computer Science & AI Laboratory, Founder, Chairman, CTO, Rethink Robotics; Marlies Carruth, Director, MacArthur Fellows program
Lori Park , Google ; Salar Kamangar
Chris Anderson, Curator, TED conferences, TED Talks; Evan Williams, CEO, Medium, Co-Founder, Twitter
Peter Diamandis, Chairman & CEO, X PRIZE Foundation, Co-Author, Bold; Jacqui Safra , Investor, Owner, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Chairman, Encyclopedia Britannica ; Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO, Acumen
Tim O'Reilly , Founder, O'Reilly Media; Marissa Mayer , CEO, Yahoo
Tony Fadell , "Father of the iPod", Founder & CEO, Nest; Ryan Phelan, Executive Director, Revive and Restore
Stewart Brand, Founder, The Whole Earth Catalog, Co-Founder, The Long Now Foundation, Author, Whole Earth Discipline; Jaan Tallinn, Chairman, MetaMed, Founding Engineer, Skype, Kazaa
Lucy Page Southworth , Bioinformatics Researcher; Stavros Niarchos; Ricardo Salinas , CEO, Grupo Salinas, Grupo Elektra, Mexico
Brit Morin; Maria Laura Salinas, Fmr. National Sales Director, TV Azteca, Mexico; Larry Page
Zack Bogue, Co-Founder, Data Collective Fund; Bjarke Ingels, Architect, Bjarke Ingels Group
Andrian Kreye , Feuilleton Editor, S¼ddeutsche Zeitung; Lucy Page Southworth
Yuri Milner; Nick Bostrom
Katinka Matson ; Yves Behar
Anne Wojcicki; Jean Pigozzi , Investor, Art Collector, Dir. Liquid Jungle Lab
Lori Park ; Zack Bogue
Dave Morin, Co-Inventor, Facebook Platform & Facebook Connect, Co-Founder, Path; Danielle Lambert, Fmr, Senior VP HR, Apple
Yves Behar; Tony Fadell
Ryan Phelan; Jacqui Safra; Stewart Brand
Zack Bogue; Yves Behar; Bjarke Ingels
Julia Milner; Paul Allen; Yuri Milner
Jacqui Safra; Jacqueline Novogratz
Peter Gabriel ; Anne Wojcicki
Paul Allen; Larry Page; Lucy Page Southworth
Jean Pigozzi; Julia Milner
Paul Allen; Lucy Page Southworth; John Brockman, Editor, Edge.org, Chairman, Brockman, Inc; Anne Wojcicki
How Jeffrey Epstein Bought His Way Into An Exclusive Intellectual Boys Club
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 17:16
As BuzzFeed News and others have investigated Jeffrey Epstein's connections to leaders in science and technology in the wake of his July arrest on sex trafficking charges, one name has stood out as Epstein's intellectual enabler: John Brockman, the New York literary agent who ran Edge, billed as an elite salon of thinkers ''redefining who and what we are.''Yet Brockman's connections to Epstein ran deeper than have been previously disclosed. In fact, according to a BuzzFeed News review of Edge's IRS filings, the nonprofit's full range of exclusive events would not have been possible without Epstein's largesse. Indeed, after Epstein made his final recorded donation to Edge in 2015, the group stopped hosting the annual ''billionaires' dinner'' that was once the highlight of its calendar.
Epstein, who killed himself in federal custody in August, wasn't merely associated with Edge. He was by far its largest financial donor, and his association with Edge gave him access to leading scientists and figures in the tech industry.
While he was bankrolling Edge, Epstein attended its events. So, too, in the early 2000s did Sarah Kellen, who is alleged to have helped arrange Epstein's sexual abuse of underage girls. In photos that have been recently removed from the Edge website, Kellen was pictured at the 2002 billionaires' dinner with Brockman, and at a 2003 event with Brockman's son, Max.
Brockman did not respond to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.
Brockman emerged from the New York art scene of the 1960s, promoting underground cinema and rubbing shoulders with heavyweights like Andy Warhol. Later, he became the leading agent for authors writing books on science and technology, with a reputation for negotiating big advances for his clients. But Brockman's particular cachet came from his role, played through his nonprofit, Edge, as a self-styled ''cultural impresario.''
Until 2018, Brockman asked an annual question of Edge contributors, a group comprising authors he represented and other luminaries in science and technology. Their responses to questions such as ''What is your dangerous idea?'' and ''What will change everything?'' were published on what the Guardian dubbed ''the world's smartest website'' and packaged into books. Brockman relished his role as facilitator, sending emails with a sign-off quote: ''John Brockman is the shadowy figure at the top of the cyberfashion food chain.''
Edge was also largely a boys club '-- 80% of the more than 900 people currently listed on its website as contributors are male.
BuzzFeed News analyzed the Edge Foundation's IRS filings from 2001 to 2017, published at ProPublica's Nonprofit Explorer. As reported by one of Brockman's former clients, Evgeny Morozov, who writes about the political and social implications of technology, foundations associated with Epstein provided $638,000 out of a total of almost $857,000 received by Edge over this period.
These donations weren't Edge's only source of income: An entry marked ''book contract,'' which appears from 2005 onward, accounts for a total of about $1.48 million in earnings. Income from publishing Edge books would have covered the foundation's basic running costs; operating the website, professional fees, depreciation, and other expenses totaled about $1.27 million from 2001 to 2017. But it could not cover the additional $706,000 that Edge spent over that period on ''travel, conferences, and meetings.''
Epstein was a regular attendee at Edge events. He was shown at the 1999 and 2000 billionaires' dinners, in photographs on pages that have recently been deleted from the Edge website, and was also mentioned in a write-up of the 2004 dinner. Epstein was also present at Edge events in 2011, after his 2008 conviction for sex crimes, BuzzFeed News reported earlier this month.
In 2002, Brockman, his wife and business partner Katinka Matson, and the leading scientists Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett were pictured on Epstein's jet flying to TED in Monterey, California '-- the multiday technology, entertainment, and design conference that the billionaires' dinners were held during. The caption to this picture was recently altered to remove mention of Epstein. His Edge profile, describing him as a ''financier and science philanthropist,'' has also been removed.
Whether Epstein himself attended the 2002 Edge billionaires' dinner is unclear. But members of his entourage were there. One photo from the event, shows Brockman with two young women named in the caption. The photo was also recently removed from the Edge website.
One of these women is Sarah Kellen, who was employed as an assistant to Epstein's former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell and was protected from prosecution under the 2008 plea deal that saw the financier serve 13 months in a Florida jail after his earlier arrest. In several lawsuits, Epstein's victims have alleged that Kellen was among those who helped arrange the sexual abuse.
To protect her privacy, BuzzFeed News has not named the other young woman, who could not be reached for comment. But a woman with the first name matching the name given in the caption, as well as Kellen, were logged as passengers on the flight that took Epstein, Brockman, and his scientist guests from New York's JFK airport to Monterey on the day before the dinner.
Through a spokesperson, Kellen said that she, too, was a victim of Epstein's. ''Sarah had just turned 22 when she was recruited by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell to work as an assistant for Maxwell,'' her representative, Tracy Schmaler, said in a statement. ''Very soon after Sarah was brought into Epstein's world, he began to sexually abuse her, and this abuse went on for years. Sarah continues to struggle with the trauma of her experiences and has chosen not to speak publicly at this time.''
In 2003, Kellen was again photographed at an Edge ''science dinner,'' which replaced the billionaires' dinner that year, this time with Brockman's son, Max. This photo has also been removed from the Edge website.
Max Brockman, who is now CEO of the Brockman literary agency, did not respond to a request for comment.
There are no recorded donations from Epstein to Edge from 2006 to 2008, during the original investigation for sex offenses involving underage girls and the start of his subsequent imprisonment. But from 2009, he again began contributing, donating at least $50,000 a year in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
As Epstein strived to rehabilitate his reputation after his release from jail, Edge gave him access to elite circles in science and the tech industry. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News reported that Epstein was at the 2011 billionaires' dinner, held in Long Beach, California, also attended by tech titans including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sergey Brin of Google, and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, plus a ''master class'' on the science of human nature, held at a winery in St. Helena, California.
But Brockman's networking for Epstein ran deeper than Edge's events. Last month, Morozov revealed email correspondence from 2013 in which Brockman tried to arrange a meeting between Morozov and Epstein. Brockman mentioned Epstein's ''beautiful young assistant from Belarus'' and described the financier, incorrectly, as a ''billionaire who owns Victoria's Secret plus a modelling agency.''
(Epstein's true worth, according to his will, was in the hundreds of millions, and Victoria's Secret is part of L Brands, headed by Leslie Wexner, the billionaire whose finances Epstein managed until 2007.)
''He also got into trouble and spent a year in jail in Florida,'' Brockman added. Morozov declined the invitation.
Epstein's last recorded contribution to the Edge Foundation was a donation of $30,000 in 2015, after which the group's total fundraising stalled. In 2016 and 2017, the foundation received just $5,477 from a single donor. The billionaires' dinners died with Epstein's donations: The last one was held in March 2015.
Edge was always an unusual charity. Between 2001 and 2017, it awarded just one major grant, a one-off prize of $100,000 given to David Deutsch, a pioneer of quantum computing at Oxford University, which Epstein funded. (''I think Edge told me the name of the sponsor of the prize when they informed me I'd won it,'' Deutsch told BuzzFeed News by email. ''But the name meant nothing to me: I'd never heard of him.'')
Although the billionaires' dinners stopped after Epstein pulled the plug on his funding, the Edge website remains active, posting regular videos of conversations with Edge contributors. ''Edge consists of individuals who create their own reality and do not accept an ersatz, appropriated reality,'' the website boasts. ''The Edge community consists of people who are out there doing it rather than talking about and analyzing the people who are doing it.''
So far, news of Brockman's close association with Epstein has not led to an exodus of Edge contributors. Carl Zimmer, a leading science writer and New York Times columnist, struck a rare note of protest in July, days after Epstein's arrest, when he told Edge to remove his profile and contributions from the site.
''Somebody had reported about this Edge''Epstein connection and I was appalled,'' Zimmer told BuzzFeed News. ''I didn't want to give any tacit approval to him.''
The feminist author Naomi Wolf similarly cut her ties with Brockman in late July. ''I made the decision to leave Brockman Inc on July 31, 2019, due to my learning about Jeffrey Epstein's funding of Edge.org, and due to the appearance of Sarah Kellen, Epstein's associate, on the Edge.org website,'' she told BuzzFeed News by email.
Morozov went further last month when he revealed his email correspondence with his former agent. ''Brockman is already many months too late to what he should have done much earlier: close down the Edge Foundation, publicly repent, retire, and turn Brockman Inc. into yet another banal literary agency,'' he wrote.
VIDEO - Covid Delta variant 'about 40% more transmissible', says Matt Hancock | Coronavirus | The Guardian
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 11:29
The new Delta variant of coronavirus appears to be about 40% more transmissible than the variant it has largely replaced, Matt Hancock has said, making government decisions about whether to ease restrictions in England on 21 June ''more difficult''.
Saying that under-30s will be called to begin vaccinations from next week, the health secretary confirmed it was still possible the reopening programme could be delayed or some rules kept in place.
''We consider all options,'' he told Sky News.
The transmissibility of the Delta variant, first identified in India, has been seen as a central factor to the decisions over whether to remove most remaining restrictions in England in a fortnight, with the decision due to be made later this week.
Estimates have said the Delta variant could be anywhere between 30% and 100% more transmissible than the so-called Alpha variant first identified in Kent. But asked for the latest information, Hancock gave a figure of 40%.
''That means that it is more difficult to manage this virus with the new Delta variant,'' he said. ''But crucially, after two doses of vaccine we are confident that you get the same protection that you did with the old variant. So the good news is that the vaccine still works just as effectively.''
It was, he said, still too early to decide what might happen on 21 June: ''The prime minister and I and the team will be looking at all of the data over this week '... The critical thing is to see whether the four tests we have set have been met.''
Saying the Covid vaccination programme had ''severed but not broken'' the link between infection rates and hospitalisations, Hancock said adults under 30 would be able to seek first injections from next week.
''We are not saying no to 21 June at this point,'' he said. ''We'll keep watching the data for another week, and critically, watching that link from the number of cases to the number of people who end up in hospital. And it is absolutely true that the number of people ending up in hospital is broadly flat at the moment, while the number of cases is rising, showing that link is not absolute, as it once was.''
After the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds on Friday, Hancock hinted strongly he would like to see pupils offered jabs, as called for by school leaders.
The matter would be considered by the government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, he said, and with those aged 18-30 still to get doses, a decision would not be needed for a few weeks.
''But we know that the vaccine both protects you and helps stop you transmitting,'' Hancock said. ''Making sure that we don't have whole bubbles having to go home, and the isolation, especially as we saw over the autumn for instance, that has big upsides for education.''
Asked about the delay in putting India on the red list for travel, weeks after Pakistan and Bangladesh, blamed by critics as the reason why the Delta variant has become dominant in the UK, Hancock insisted the data had supported this decision.
VIDEO - Breaking911 on Twitter: "SEC. YELLEN: ''While that process of return to normal is taking place, you will see some high inflation rates.'' https://t.co/1j4r2w9uXu" / Twitter
Sun, 06 Jun 2021 01:54
Breaking911 : SEC. YELLEN: ''While that process of return to normal is taking place, you will see some high inflation rates.''https://t.co/1j4r2w9uXu
Sat Jun 05 20:46:31 +0000 2021
STORMS A COMING : @Breaking911 LMFAO! Normal DEM'S!
Sun Jun 06 01:53:12 +0000 2021
TreesAreLovely '' ð¹ð± : @Breaking911 She is too old and too much of a beneficiary of the return to normal to be running our economy.
Sun Jun 06 01:51:02 +0000 2021
VIDEO - (277) Dutch Minister Thierry Baudet on the Rockefeller foundation's plan - YouTube
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 22:50
VIDEO - Eat a cicada? Some New Jersey high school students are using Brood X to discuss benefits of eating insects - 6abc Philadelphia
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 21:14
PRINCETON, New Jersey -- Would you eat a cicada?
Some high school students in Princeton, New Jersey are using the Brood X cicada emergence to spread the word about the benefits of eating insects.
The members of Princeton High School insect-eating club say the red-eyed bugs are packed with protein and eating them can be a way to combat climate change.
"If we want to have a food source that has all of the essential amino acids, all the essential fatty acids that we need, insects are really the way to go. There's no better way of doing it," said Mark Eastburn, a research teacher at the school.
Matthew Livingston, a student at Princeton high, said he got into the world of eating insects while doing a research project.
"You know, we've got to start relying less on these cows and chickens that are creating so many greenhouse gases, taking up all of that land that we could be using for growing plants, growing insects. You can see the direct effect of insects on our ecosystem and you could really take advantage of them...(and) expand your horizons to more insects in the future," Livingston said.
Eastburn said the group collects freshly molted cicadas before washing and freezing the bugs.
"Freezing was one process that would kill any potentially harmful organisms, and then, after that, we cook them," he said.
They have tried everything from cicada stir-fry, to cakes, to cookies.
"It depends on whatever flavor or spices you put in that kind of shapes the taste of the bug itself," said student Mulin Huan. "My advice, go for it. Take up the courage, close your eyes, and put the thing in your mouth."
According to experts, cicadas are full of protein, gluten-free, low-fat and low-carb. The bugs were used as a food source by Native Americans and are still eaten by humans in many countries.
But, heads up, people with seafood allergies should think twice about cicadas, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
So, are you willing to give them a try?
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VIDEO - Anonymous Message To Elon Musk - YouTube
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 20:23
VIDEO - Singapore "on track" to bring COVID-19 outbreak under control: PM Lee Hsien Loong | Full speech - YouTube
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 19:23
VIDEO - [VIDEO] This Clip Has People Wondering How On Earth Fauci Knew This ''Fact'' Back in 2017'... -
Sat, 05 Jun 2021 12:13
How did Fauci knows THIS 3 years before the fact?
Dr.Fauci is facing a lot of backlash right now '' it's all stemming from his ''gain of function'' research, his connection and covering up for China, and of course those emails of his that were just made public.
The emails showed, among other things, that Fauci was covering up for the Wuhan lab.
Washington Examiner reported that the key figure in coronavirus research at a Wuhan laboratory personally thanked Dr. Anthony Fauci for downplaying the likelihood that COVID-19 originated in a lab '-- even though the possibility remains, more than a year later, under investigation.
Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, a research group that secured a grant to perform coronavirus research in Wuhan before the pandemic, wrote to Fauci in April of last year ''to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators'' after Fauci dismissed the idea that the pandemic started due to a lab accident in Wuhan.
Fauci replied to the email, which came on April 18, 2020, to thank Daszak for his ''kind note.'' Earlier in the day, Fauci was asked directly about the lab leak hypothesis during a coronavirus briefing, and he said the scientific evidence ''is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.''
So, we know now for a fact that Fauci is a total fraud.
But was he diabolical too?
Well, that's what a lot of people are saying after watching this short clip from 2017 '' 3 years before COVID.
Here's what he said: '''...the issue of pandemic preparedness'...there is no question that there will be a challenge [for] the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases..But also there will be a surprise outbreak..'' '' Tony Fauci in 2017
How on earth did he know that, years before the event even occurred?
You can watch the video below:
How did he know?"'...the issue of pandemic preparedness'...there is no question that there will be a challenge [for] the coming administration in the arena of infectious diseases..But also there will be a surprise outbreak.." '' Tony Fauci in 2017 pic.twitter.com/aCV7ekF47S
'-- Lady Pie ðºð² (@LadyPie6) June 3, 2021Here are some of the comments:
''He knew, as he was the core of the operations of sponsoring such research as well as authors of them too. It's a planned bio warfare''
''Arrogance is what allows a person involved in gain of function virology to plant himself in a position leading the response to his own creation. Are we sure that he's not a Satanist? He gave someone in the press the horned hand gesture on the way out of a press conference.''
''He had to be in on the plan. None of them are to be trusted. Always follow the money. The CDC is a private, for-profit business that makes money off of vaccine sales and vaccine patent royalties. They needed a pandemic to push their vaccines. It made the insiders billions. $$$''
''SURPRISE OUTBREAK?? Obviously it isn't a surprise to HIM. What does THAT tell you?''
''He only knew because he was one of the dirt bags that instigated it by design. It's all a crock''
''This is proof positive this deadly virus was unleashed on the world by our democrat politicians!''
It's clear that people have lost a lot of faith in Fauci, our government, and Democrats '' who they never trusted to begin with.
VIDEO - EU and Bill Gates make joint push for $1BN to accelerate clean tech '' TechCrunch
Fri, 04 Jun 2021 01:03
The European Commission has announced a partnership with Bill Gates' sustainable energy funding vehicle with the goal of unlocking new investments for clean tech and sustainable energy projects totaling up to $1 billion ('¬820 million) over five years (2022-2026).
EU-based projects the partnership will initially focus on four sectors that are being prioritized for their potential to deliver substantial reductions in regional emissions '-- namely:
Green hydrogen.Sustainable aviation fuels.Direct air capture.Long-duration energy storage.The goal is to scale technologies that are currently too expensive to compete with fossil-fuel-based incumbent technologies.
The pair said they will continue to work on setting up the program over the coming months, with an eye on having something further to announce at the COP-26 conference in November.
It's not the first time the commission and Gates' Breakthrough Energy organization have worked together on funding sustainable investment. But the scale of this latest partnership dwarfs the '¬100 million fund the EU established back in 2019 with its venture investment funding arm.
Now the commission has partnered with Breakthrough Energy Catalyst '-- a financing program within Gates' organization that aims to accelerate the development and adoption of technologies needed to underpin a low-carbon economy '-- to mobilize up to 10x more than the earlier fund to build large-scale, commercial demonstration projects for clean technologies.
The overarching goal is of course to lower the costs and accelerate deployment of clean tech in order to deliver significant reductions in CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
The bloc is a major emitter of CO2 but has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, under the European Green Deal.
Gates' philosophy with his 2015-founded Breakthrough Energy vehicle, meanwhile, is that renewables alone won't be enough to avert catastrophic climate change '-- and investments in a range of high risk but potentially high reward technologies is also needed.
But given the lengthy time scales needed for a return on these types of investments, public-private partnerships look like a key piece of the financing puzzle.
Commenting on the partnership announcement in a statement, EU president Ursula von der Leyen, said: ''With our European Green Deal, Europe wants to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. '... Europe has also the great opportunity to become the continent of climate innovation. For this, the European Commission will mobilise massive investments in new and transforming industries over the next decade. This is why I'm glad to join forces with Breakthrough Energy. Our partnership will support EU businesses and innovators to reap the benefits of emission-reducing technologies and create the jobs of tomorrow.''
In another supporting statement, Gates, founder of Breakthrough Energy, added: ''Decarbonising the global economy is the greatest opportunity for innovation the world has ever seen. Europe will play a critical role, having demonstrated an early and consistent commitment to climate and longstanding leadership in science, engineering, and technology. Through this partnership, Europe will lay solid ground for a net-zero future in which clean technologies are reliable, available, and affordable for all.''
On the EU side, funding for the partnership is expected to come from the bloc's flagship R&D fund, Horizon Europe, and also via the low-carbon-focused Innovation Fund within the framework of the InvestEU program.
Breakthrough Energy Catalyst will mobilise equivalent private capital and philanthropic funds to finance selected projects.
The partnership will also be open to national investments by EU Member States through InvestEU or at project level, the commission noted. It added that a call for expressions of interest for potential InvestEU implementing partners is currently open until June 30, 2021.
Renewable energy and clean(er) transport were also key focus areas for the massive '¬750 billion ''Next Generation EU'' coronavirus recovery fund put together by the commission last year '-- which said it would borrow money on the financial markets through the issuance of bonds for post-pandemic recovery '-- with that money pegged to be channelled through EU programs between 2021 and 2024.
The bloc's lawmakers have also suggested that digitization and AI technologies '-- which are other areas it's pegged for major investment '-- will play a key supporting role in Europe's green transition.