U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement to reporters about reopening places of worship across the United States by declaring them "essential" during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis'¬¨
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Health Editor's Note: I would suggest that Trump is woefully late on this'.....For nursing care facilities to not have adequate supplies of PPEs added to the rampant spread of COVID-19 in these healthcare settings'.....Carol
HHS Announces Nearly $4.9 Billion Distribution to Nursing Facilities Impacted by COVID-19
HHS News Release
Today (22nd), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing it has begun distributing billions in additional relief funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to help them combat the devastating effects of this pandemic. Nursing homes play a pivotal role in providing skilled care to our nation's vulnerable seniors. During this pandemic, nursing homes have faced unique challenges as their population of high risk seniors are more vulnerable to respiratory pathogens like COVID-19. This funding, which supplements previously announced provider relief funds, will be used to support nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.
''This funding secured by President Trump will help nursing homes keep the seniors they care for safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,'' said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. ''The Trump Administration is providing every resource we can, from funding and direct PPE shipments to regulatory flexibility and infection control consultations, to protect seniors in nursing homes and those who care for them.''
President Trump is providing support to healthcare providers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through the bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that provide $175 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other healthcare providers...read more:
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As Restrictions In Texas Loosen, These Austin Bars Say They'll Reopen In Their Own Phases | KUT
Texas bars can reopen at 25% capacity today '' just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Even with the limited number of customers, it's a good opportunity to make back some of the money these businesses have lost after months of closures.
But while many bars are eager to reopen, some aren't quite ready yet.
The governor set out guidelines for both bars and patrons. It's a long checklist. There are the basics, such as social distancing, no more than six people at a table, and hand-sanitizing stations. But other requirements include blocking off the physical bar and removing stools. The idea is to serve people only at tables to avoid the natural crowding that can occur at the bar itself.
Oh, the irony '' closing a bar to open it.
RELATED | So You Want To Go A Bar In Texas. Here's What You'll Need To Know.
''It's going to be running with, basically, cocktail waitresses instead of a bar,'' says Will Tanner, co-owner of Hole in the Wall, Stay Gold and The Long Play Lounge. ''It really flips our dynamic.''
Tanner says he does want to reopen, but right now the plan is to ''sit it out'' for about a week and see how other bars fare. Two of his bars '' Hole in the Wall and Stay Gold '' are music venues, as well. He says when he thinks about reopening, live music is a must. But he hasn't received much guidance on how to do simple things like sanitize microphones.
''The whole music piece is very important to me and finding a way forward with that, with safety in mind, is very, very, very complicated,'' Tanner says.
The bars, he says, are supposed to be a place where people come to relax and let loose. Now, with all the restrictions and anxiety surrounding COVID-19, he's worried the laid-back atmosphere he's worked so hard to cultivate may no longer exist. He says his staff will need to become enforcers of social distancing '' policing people's behavior '' which is antithetical to the way he operates.
''I've built my career around a culture of 'yes' '' 'Yes, you can come in. Yes, you can have a drink,'" Tanner says. ''Now, all of a sudden, I'm going to have to say a lot of 'noes,' and that's just not fun.''
It's also been hard to keep up with what is and is not allowed, Tanner says. The seemingly conflicting information from state and local leaders has left his team confused on what is the best way to safely reopen.
For example, the governor's rules require bars to use single-use silverware and glasses. But on May 20, the Texas Restaurant Association received clarification from Abbott's office saying bars can use reusable glassware and silverware similar to restaurants.
''It's like we're trying to solve a Rubik's Cube eight hours a day, and the colors keep changing,'' Tanner says.
Mayor Steve Adler has also recommended businesses collect the contact information of everyone who visits to use for contact-tracing purposes. Tanner says he is open to the policy, but knows some patrons will be vehemently against sharing their personal information '' and he won't fight them.
"It's like we're trying to solve a Rubik's Cube, and the colors keep changing."
''I don't want to get into that argument,'' Tanner says. ''It's not good bar room etiquette.''
Matthew Moore, a partner and general manager of Dive Bar & Lounge, echoes these worries.
''Most people should have no problem with that because it's for the greater good,'' he says. ''But you're always going to have people who feel it's encroaching upon their freedoms and all that.''
Moore is also waiting to see what other bars are doing to mitigate some of the issues he expects will arise.
He says he has heard stories of businesses that have tried to enforce the rules, only to have people react aggressively '' and that's concerning, especially when you add alcohol into the mix.
''There's going to be some people who don't like that and they're going to take it the wrong way,'' he says. ''We'll just be doing our jobs, but we're going to look like the jerks in the situation '' which is not really [something] to look forward to.''
Moore is also not sure he can safely ensure social distancing. Under the state's capacity rule, Dive could serve up to 25 people at a time. But the bar is so small, he's not sure he could fit that many people and keep them 6 feet apart. He says the bar would likely have to take in less people and hire a doorman to keep things under control.
''It's going to be one of those things that we're just going to have to see how it goes,'' Moore says. ''It's going to be weird.''
But the main issue, he says, is staffing. Moore will need to hire extra people to keep up with things like cleaning, sanitizing and enforcing social distancing. This only adds to the financial burden his business and many others have been facing after being forced to shut down.
Not to mention many bar owners are still trying to convince some staff members to return to work when there's no guarantee they'll be making the same amounts they were before. Hole in the Wall and Dive qualified for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which keeps employees on the payroll. But Moore says they didn't get enough money from the small-business loan program.
''The bar and restaurant industry pays their employees very low because they're working on tips,'' he says. ''So, when you run that report to show what your wages were for the last year, it's going to be the small rate of $2.13 or $3.50 an hour '' so that's all we were able to get from the government.''
RELATED | Nickel On A Dime: How One Austin Bar Tried To Make Ends Meet Through Deliveries
Right now, many of these employees are receiving unemployment, which includes an additional $600 weekly from the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Benefit through July 31. Tanner says he understands why some staff wouldn't want to lose out on that money '-- to work harder for less pay '' while also putting themselves at greater risk of contracting the virus.
''I don't know how many of them even want to come back,'' Tanner says.
But ultimately, he says, opening for him and many on his team is less about the money and more about getting back to some sense of normalcy. ''Reopening at this point, to me, is more of an exercise in optimism,'' Tanner says. ''But as far as business goes, 25%, especially for live music, doesn't do it.''
Travis Tober, co-owner of Nickel City on 11th Street, says his bar also qualified for a PPP loan and he's working with his accountants to make sure his employees make more money than they would on unemployment.''We want everyone to come back, we understand if they don't want to come back,'' he says. ''But at a certain point in time, businesses need to reopen.''
Tober is tentatively waiting until June 1 to reopen. He says figuring out how to implement things like temperature checks at the door, QR codes for menus and no-contact payment systems is going to be a lot of work. Beyond just keeping things sanitary, Tober says, he still needs to hold true to what his customers expect from the bar.
''I'll be out all weekend just visiting bars and restaurants and trying to get any extra ideas,'' he says. ''You know, just seeing how we can do it and put our Nickel City twist on it '' kinda have fun with it, I guess.''
Tober says he's not thrilled about the closure of the bar top because table service is ''not Nickel City's vibe.'' But he's trying to come up with creative ways to work around it. For example, he's thinking of providing a card with a red and green side signaling when a customer does and does not want to be served, similar to a Brazilian steakhouse.
''We're going to do it in our own phases,'' Tober says. ''We'll probably be a week to 10 days behind each [of the state's reopening phases] so we can do it at our own pace.''
Ultimately, Tober says he expects it's going to be much like ''corralling children,'' with him and staff members trying to keep people in line. He just hopes all this work will pay off.
''Is the volume going to be there?'' he asks. ''Is the juice going to be worth the squeeze?''
Got a tip? Email Nadia Hamdan at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @nadzhamz.
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Fauci offers candid advice to city leaders at virtual gathering '' Harvard Gazette
For more information, explore the Coronavirus Update series where Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID), emerged from self-imposed quarantine on Thursday to offer candid advice to a virtual gathering of municipal leaders on what to expect as the nation begins to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the limits of safeguarding children in summer, and the elevated vulnerability of African Americans in cities, likening their risk to that of those in nursing homes.
Widely viewed as the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Fauci told mayors and city leaders in a private session hosted by Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School that they should ''expect'' to see new ''blips of infections'' as communities begin to reopen, but not to be ''discouraged.''
Instead, he said, they should ensure they have in place robust testing programs, along with adequate stores of equipment and supplies, and enough personnel to do the level of identification and isolation of patients and contact tracing that will prevent blips from becoming resurgences, he said. ''Because the danger of that is real.''
Fauci is a trusted voice on the White House coronavirus task force, known for his direct, sometimes blunt, assessments and observations. He has been out of the public eye since early May after two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19, prompting him and the directors of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) to self-quarantine because of possible exposure.
With summer approaching, Fauci made clear that while it's ''likely'' that the coronavirus will not be as virulent, given the way viruses of its type typically behave in moist, warm air, so far, there's been ''no definitive proof'' that will be the case.
As communities begin to return to some aspects of normal life, people can start to socialize again with family, friends and others, Fauci said, but only if they do so gradually and by adhering to safety practices of wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping 6 feet apart. Once infection rates decline in an area, people can start to gather in small groups of 10, then 20.
But ''a complete lockdown of children is going to be impossible as the summer months come,'' Fauci acknowledged. ''I don't think it's going to be reasonable outside when kids are running around, playing baseball, that they're going to be wearing masks and staying [6 feet apart].''
So parents, camp instructors, coaches, and other adults should make sure children play together in groups no larger than five to 10 at a time. Municipal officials who oversee swimming pools and other child-friendly recreational facilities will need to stagger access to limit density of contact.
''I think that's the best we can do,'' he said.
Though nearly 100 vaccine candidates are under investigation worldwide, Fauci said ''one or two'' show potential, though he did not identify them.
Fauci also sought to reassure the city officials that the Trump administration's push for the development of a vaccine by January, a process that typically takes years, would not cut corners on efficacy and safety. Widespread public concern has emerged in recent days that the project, dubbed ''Operation Warp Speed'' by the White House, may be too rushed and end up doing more harm than good.
''If it works, we're ahead of the game, and we could have a vaccine by December or January,'' he said. ''If it doesn't, then all we've lost is research and money,'' things worth risking given the ''urgency'' of the crisis, he added.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it was working with AstraZeneca to make available 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine starting in October if the preventative is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. A Phase 1/Phase 2 clinical study has been running in the U.K. since the end of April, and a Phase 3 trial is planned for the U.S. this summer.
Fauci was asked about the unusually high rate of infection and morbidity from COVID-19 among African Americans and what can be done about it. He said African Americans are an at-risk population because so many face a ''double whammy.'' A significant number have jobs that can't be done remotely and don't always provide adequate protections, which puts them at elevated risk for infection. And higher percentages of African Americans suffer from chronic conditions like hypertension, obesity, asthma, and diabetes, which makes a COVID-19 infection much more dangerous.
But minority groups, particularly African Americans, who live in the inner city are extremely vulnerable, ''on a scale of a nursing home or a prison or a meat-packing plant'' in terms of risk and how devastating an outbreak can be, Fauci said.
''We are really almost morally obligated on our part to concentrate the resources in those communities so that they can do the adequate testing, and then, when someone gets infected, identification, isolation and contact tracing, and provide them with the resources to be able to physically separate when they do get an infected individual,'' he said.
Over the course of the outbreak, the Trump administration has been stepping back and putting COVID response in the hands of governors. Fauci said the federal government should provide both guidance and ''backup assistance, when necessary, in the form of economic relief'' to help cities remain ''viable'' while they fight the pandemic.
But when a resurgence does occur in a city or town, Fauci warned the mayors against depending heavily on assistance from the administration with identification, isolation, and contact tracing. Cities need to be prepared for such an eventuality and have those resources in place when the CDC arrives to help.
The weekly seminar, started by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University under the umbrella of Bloomberg Philanthropies' Coronavirus Local Response Initiative, began in mid-March to provide mayors with relevant, up-to-date information and best practices and presentations from experts in public health, crisis management, and other disciplines. Past VIP guests have included former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Daily GazetteSign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.
Masks & Muzzles
Nashua approves face mask mandate, defiant could face fines up to $1,000 | Coronavirus | unionleader.com
Face masks will now be required when customers visit stores, restaurants and other business establishments in Nashua.
With a vote of 10-3, the Nashua Board of Aldermen approved the mandate on Thursday night after the city's Board of Health recently recommended the action to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
''If we don't back up our Board of Health, my God, why do we even have them? Let us show them support,'' said Alderman Richard Dowd.
Although the newly-adopted city ordinance does not state a specific fine, the city's attorney said that in general a violation of a city ordinance carries a maximum fine of up to $1,000 unless stated otherwise. That fine is determined by the court, explained Steve Bolton, corporation counsel for the city.
Some aldermen, including Ben Clemons, were pushing for an initial warning upon a first offense, followed by a $25 fine for a second or subsequent offense, however those recommendations were not supported.
''I can see Nashua becoming a target of right-wing folk who want to demonstrate that they believe this is unconstitutional,'' said Clemons, adding he was disappointed that aldermen could not find common ground on a lower fine that focuses more on education and less on punishment.
Clemons said he fears that Nashua will now become a target and individuals will be rallying outside of city hall with their firearms to stand up for their beliefs and causes.
''They have the right to do that, but as we are trying to pass things that make Nashua a friendly place to do business and friendly place to come downtown '... if we have people like that protesting outside of city hall every day, it is not exactly the place that I want to go with my family and I might think otherwise to come to Nashua,'' he said.
''We can't give in to the possibility of threats,'' said Alderwoman Patricia Klee. Whether the fine is up to $1,000 or $25, Klee said the city will likely still receive some type of reaction from those opposed.
Aldermen said they received numerous emails from citizens about the mask mandate, with about half of those in favor and half of them in opposition. Several city officials said that because Nashua is a border city, it must be extra vigilant because of the high number of cases in Massachusetts.
''The employees have to wear masks and this is because it will protect us, and I think that in order to protect the employees, we need to legislate that people who come into the shops need to wear masks as well '-- for the employees' protection,'' said Alderwoman Elizabeth Lu.
The idea is to encourage voluntary compliance, Bolton said, stressing the coercive element is not going to play a large role. He said the punishment is a violation with a possible fine left to the discretion of the court, explaining no one is going to be arrested for failing to wear a mask unless the situation escalates and it potentially becomes disruptive.
Police Chief Mike Carignan agreed, saying recently that the primary focus should be on educating the public about the importance of wearing face masks.
The new ordinance does not require children under 10 to wear a face covering, and states that parents should make their own judgment. Although masks must be worn while entering restaurants, they may be removed once diners sit down at a table.
In addition, a face covering is not required for anyone who can show that a medical professional has advised that wearing a face covering may pose a risk because of a health reason.
Public Health Officials in Ohio Apologize for Asking Minorities to Avoid 'Gang Symbolism' on Face Masks - American Renaissance
Public health officials in an Ohio's most populous county are apologizing for telling African-Americans and communities of color to avoid wearing face masks that elicit stereotypes or masks with colors associated with ''gang symbolism.''
Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation on April 3 for people to wear face coverings in public, Franklin County Public Health issued guidance for communities of color who have expressed reservations about wearing face coverings in public.
On Wednesday, Franklin County Public Health tweeted an apology, saying ''some of the language used came across as offensive and blaming the victims.''
The document titled, ''COVID-19 General Guidance on Wearing Face Mask for African Americans and Communities of Color,'' outlined recommendations that include the following: ''Avoid fabrics that elicit deeply held stereotypes'' and gives the examples of bandanas, skull prints and horror prints. ''When utilizing a homemade mask, avoid bandanas that are red or blue, as these are typically associated with gang symbolism.''
Additionally the department said ''it is not recommended to wear a scarf just simply tied around the head as this can indicate unsavory behavior, although not intended.''
Alyssa Milano's Mask Says Everything About The Left'... | Weasel Zippers
John Hall of Hall Booth Smith (left) and Scott Bailey. (Courtesy photos)With the COVID-19 outbreak shuttering courts nationwide, defense lawyers and insurers are likely to enjoy a respite from the much-ballyhooed spate of multimillion dollar ''nuclear verdicts'' that have sent waves of lobbyists to state legislatures hoping to stem the tide.
Insurers have noted a general trend over the years of ''social inflation'' driving up jury awards. In a transcript of a January earnings call, Travelers Insurance CEO Alan Schnitzer cited ''headwinds from a challenging tort environment'' as one factor that had impacted company profits.
''I'll note that we continue to believe that social inflation is an environmental issue, driven primarily by a more aggressive plaintiffs' bar,'' said Schnitzer, who has been forthcoming about his concerns that litigation is growing across multiple lines of coverage.
''I don't know if the environment has gotten worse, but clearly the losses have come in worse than our expectations,'' Schnitzer said, noting that the company had seen a ''higher and more aggressive level of attorney involvement in claims.''
His counterpart at The Hartford, CEO Christopher Swift, was more sanguine in the company's February call.
''Social inflation related to larger claim settlement continues to put pressure'' on losses, he said.
''However, social inflation is not a new phenomena, we have been monitoring these trends for years taking the appropriate actions to ensure our pricing models in underwriting reflect these realities,'' Swift said, according to the transcript.
Warning that consumers ultimately pay the price for these massive verdicts and swollen settlements, defense lawyers and business interests have long pressured lawmakers to provide more protection from litigation losses. Those efforts have been fiercely opposed by consumer advocacy organizations and a plaintiffs bar.
Today, however, attorneys on both sides of the civil bar said the tort reform rallying cry may have lost its political allure for the time being as the COVID-19 outbreak upends the country.
Hall Booth Smith partner John Hall said his firm has shifted gears to accommodate the new COVID-19 reality, working to settle cases wherever possible.
Prior to the outbreak, Hall said he'd seen few policy shifts, despite the outcry over large verdicts.
''There's been some discussion in multiple jurisdictions, but there doesn't seem to be a wave of nationwide tort reform,'' Hall said.
Scott Bailey of defense firm Huff, Powell & Bailey said there will likely be a sea change in the way lawsuits proceed once the pandemic subsides.
''I think the legal landscape may be fundamentally changed when we come out of this,'' said Bailey. ''Who knows what social and psychological impact this outbreak could have?''
There have been breathtaking numbers penciled in on jury forms in several states as of late, with multiple juries nationwide delivering verdicts worth tens of millions of dollars. That includes a $265 million award and another for $2 billion against Monsanto within the past year over its Roundup herbicide.
The verdicts have stoked the flames of the perennial battles between the plaintiffs bar and tort reformers, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform and the American Tort Reform Foundation, whose annual ''Legal Hellholes'' report on jurisdictions deemed hostile for defendants in personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability and other tort cases offer fodder to bolster state-level defense operatives' efforts.
On the other side is the American Association for Justice, backed by a phalanx of state trial lawyer associations and lobbyists.
A Judicial ErosionA key battleground for tort reform has been over attempts to cap damages.
In Georgia, the defense bar is still stinging over a 2010 decision by the state Supreme Court striking down a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The Florida Supreme Court followed suit in 2017, finding its cap unconstitutional in medical malpractice cases, and Illinois' damage caps also have been struck down.
''We have seen a judicial erosion of caps,'' said Hall. ''They've eroded on medical cases, eroded on noneconomic damages.''
Hall noted there's still a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in Florida for cases in which a health care provider offers to enter into binding arbitration, but the plaintiff refuses and wins at trial.
''There are constant attacks on that [statute],'' he said.
In California'--consistently derided as a plaintiff's paradise and among the most acrid hellholes by the ATRF'--Micha Star Liberty of Oakland's Liberty Law said that reputation is only partly deserved.
''California is a leader legislatively in respect to consumers and workers and the environment; that doesn't mean it's a walk in the park for any litigants proactively asserting their rights,'' said Liberty, who also is president of the advocacy organization Consumer Attorneys of California.
Liberty said a perennial target of the defense bar is the state's Private Attorney General Act, a 2004 law which allows employees to file lawsuits against employers for violations of the state's labor laws.
The law only allows such suits if the state's Labor and Workforce Development Agency declines to follow up on the complaint; if successful in court, any civil penalties are divided with 75% going to the state and 25% to the employee.
''As their lawyers, we have a lot of burden of proof issues, and there's a lot of hoops we have to jump through,'' Liberty said.
The plaintiffs bar also been fighting for years to lift the $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages imposed by The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, which was the first such cap in the nation and is often hailed as getting the tort reform ball rolling nationally.
''Think about what the price of milk was in 1974; it would be about $1.2 million in today's dollars,'' said Liberty. ''You impanel a jury, they hear of horrific damages and award what they think is fair, then after the verdict the judge reduces it. It's soul-crushing to have to explain that to clients.''
There have been some eye-popping verdicts in California, Liberty noted, including last year's $2 billion verdict against Monsanto that was reduced by a judge to $86.7 million and verdict for $80 million subsequently reduced to $25 million.
Nonetheless, said Liberty, ''we're not seeing a lot of the big tort reform pushback we used to see. Jurors have seen it so long they can wrap their head around who the bad actors are and hold them accountable.''
''People think because we have a Democratic majority in both houses that it's very liberal, but it doesn't translate into pro-consumer, pro-worker policies,'' Liberty said. ''Every session there are probably 500 or 600 bills introduced that would harm workers in some way.''
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down compensatory damage caps years ago, and punitive damages are only capped in medical malpractice cases.
Fanelli, Evans & Patel partner Sudhir Patel said efforts to cap punitive damages are a recurring issue at the Pennsylvania Legislature, but the state Supreme Court has thus far kept them at bay.
Another tort reform battle involves a special venue rule enacted in 2003, applicable only to medical malpractice cases, that requires cases to be brought in the jurisdiction where the injury occurred. The previous rule, which is still in place, allows any other defendants to be sued where they are headquartered or do business.
''That's particularly important in the post-Affordable Care Act world, where hospitals are regionalizing,'' said Patel. ''All the decisions for policies, hiring, marketing are done in a couple of central hubs: Philadelphia, Alleghany'--but you still have to file suit in the county where the malpractice occurred, even though the wrongdoing doctors and institutions are based or do business in multiple counties.''
''We're seeking to undo that carveout,'' said Patel, pointing to studies showing it is no longer warranted.
The PAJ also is resisting several measures dubbed ''boutique tort reform'': legislation loosening liability standards for emergency medical providers and recreational land owners and instituting ''loser pay'' provisions.
''Their strategy is to go after small subsets to create carveouts'' to shield defendants, Patel said.
More State-Level SkirmishesIn Georgia, a state Senate committee earlier this year approved the passage of a number of defense-friendly measures that would, among other things, expand the reach of Georgia's $250,000 punitive damages cap; shield landlords from negligent security cases for the criminal acts of third parties; require that a plaintiff's medical expense claims be based on the actual cost for a procedure rather than what a provider bills (decried as ''phantom damages'' by the defense bar); and allow lawmakers to cap contingency fees and the interest rates litigation-funders can charge.
Georgia's Republican General Assembly rejected the legislation once it got to the floor.
In Florida, insurers opposed legislation that would replace the state's current no-fault personal injury protection auto insurance system with one in which drivers would be required carry bodily injury coverage and would require insurers to offer medical-payments coverage for claims involving large medical bills.
The insurance industry defeated the legislation last month.
Another piece of legislation, backed by the insurance industry, would have toughened Florida's requirements for a thyroid party claimant to bring a bad-faith action against an insurer. There also was legislation floated aimed at barring ''phantom damages'' evidence in Florida. Both failed last month.
The Texas Legislature, which meets biennially, last year passed legislation that requires approval from the state attorney general for any contingency fee contract between a private attorney and municipal government.
There also was an effort to pass legislation that would require third-party litigation funders to disclose the details of any such deals to opposing parties. Identical bills to that effect were introduced in the Texas House and Senate last year and referred to committee.
In New Jersey, business interests were dismayed last year when the Democrat-heavy Legislature passed a ''wage-theft law'' raising the penalty for employers who fail to pay workers all the wages owed from $100 to between $500 and $1,000, or jail sentences of up to 90 days. Repeat or multiple offenders can face fines up to $15,000 and prison terms of up to three years.
In New York, business lobbyists are working to keep legislation expanding the state's consumer protection laws to include ''unfair'' practices.
But Empire State insurance interests are even more exercised about pending litigation that will, if passed, allow the plaintiffs in wrongful death cases to add claims for their own pain and suffering stemming from the death of a loved one.
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to offer the next field of battle for tort reform: On April 14, the ATRA issued a dire warning that a wave of civil litigation is bound to follow the COVID-19 outbreak.
''Personal injury law firms are already recruiting individuals to 'sue now,' even if they have not contracted the disease,'' the ATRA said in a white paper titled ''Responding to the Coming Lawsuit Surge.''
''The first lawsuits targeting health care providers, employers, retailers and other businesses for COVID-related injuries have been filed. Many more are to come,'' it said, urging states to ''proactively adopt legislation that distinguishes legitimate claims from no-injury lawsuits. States can place reasonable constraints on the types of lawsuits that pose an obstacle to the coronavirus response effort, place businesses in jeopardy, and further damage the economy.''
Read more: 'The Whites of Their Eyes': Lawyers Say Litigating With Insurers Becomes a Game of Chicken
Stemming the tide of Social Inflation
'Anger' and 'Defensiveness' Cost Insurance Companies Millions: 3 Tips for Avoiding a Jury's Punishment
'Reptile' Co-Author Don Keenan Says Big Verdicts Reflect Justice
These Lawyers Won Some of Biggest Verdicts and Settlements in the Nation. What's the Magic Sauce?
Trial lawyers are licking their chops as the United States reopens more than two months after locking down due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
John Houghtaling, one such trial lawyer representing part of a group of celebrity chefs suing insurance giants over the pandemic, described the forthcoming fight in a quote to the Washington Post as what he said is ''going to be the most expensive legal battle in history.'' He then predicted:
The insurance companies are going to win some of those, and they're going to lose some of those. But in the meantime, the businesses are going to fail. People are going to be out of work.
Houghtaling is a managing partner at Gauthier Murphy & Houghtaling LLC, a firm in the New Orleans suburb Metairie, Louisiana. Houghtaling is testifying before the Democrat-led House Small Business Committee on Thursday afternoon, where lawmakers will discuss the liability issues as Congress considers potentially granting a liability shield to companies nationwide upon reopening'--something many Republicans consider imperative to successfully return to normal as a society.
An outsized battle looms in Washington, as trade associations for trial lawyers push their own vision of open-ended lawsuits while groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce come down on the side of restricting litigation over coronavirus. The brewing fight in Congress, too, could become a hinge-point on whether there is a fourth major coronavirus relief package that could pass and be signed into law in the coming weeks and if there is one what it looks like. A source familiar with the fight told Breitbart News this will be a ''billion dollar fight,'' as powerful forces on each side'--trial lawyers versus businesses'--move in on lawmakers from every direction.
The issue that confronts lawmakers is how to limit the scope of litigation over coronavirus while also not giving away too much to the business community.
President Donald Trump said at a roundtable with restaurant executives earlier this week he hopes to strike the right balance, to ''protect workers and businesses alike with curbs on frivolous litigation'--frivolous litigation'--a thing I know something about.'' He added:
There's a lot of frivolous litigation. So we don't want someone going and sitting in your restaurant Tilman [Fertitta] and then suing you for $10 million because something happened.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said a liability shield for businesses from the kind of endless litigation that trial lawyers enrich themselves on is a must-have in any fourth phase coronavirus relief package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that she is seeking to help out struggling state and local governments, and McConnell could pin a liability shield to that'--forcing this issue to be addressed. McConnell has deputized Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) with addressing the matter, and sources with knowledge of the matter told Breitbart News the fight will surely intensify as the calendar changes from May to June.
Houghtaling is representing Thomas Keller, the celebrity chef who the Washington Post's Tim Carman described as ''the mastermind behind the three-star Michelin restaurants Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in California.'' Keller is one of many restauranteurs nationwide suing their insurance companies because the insurance companies are not paying them for the shutdowns caused by COVID-19.
''The owners are pressing carriers to honor business-interruption policies during an outbreak that has wreaked so much financial havoc that it could bankrupt insurance companies and put at risk claims not related to covid-19,'' Carman wrote in the Post.
In these particular kinds of cases, what these trial lawyers like Houghtaling and the others representing these various restaurants are looking for is for insurance companies to honor business interruption policies or to cover their clients like they would in a natural disaster even if the policies do not explicitly cover pandemics. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for trial lawyers as the reopening battle moves forward coast to coast'--cases that could be forthcoming include against states for various policies they implemented like New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo's decision to force COVID-19 patients into nursing homes or against companies in the case of a worker who returns to the workplace contracting the virus. That's not to mention consumer-led suits against any business where people think they may have gotten the virus, and so much more.
According to Politico, the American Association for Justice'--a national collective of trial lawyers'--released polling on the issue that forecast many potential lines of litigation that the attorneys may see coming.
''The trial lawyers hired Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm, which surveyed more than 1,200 voters online last week,'' Politico's Theodoric Meyer wrote earlier in May. ''The pollsters told voters that companies want to prevent workers and consumers who contract coronavirus from suing them 'even if they could demonstrate that the company engaged in unsafe practices.' Sixty-four percent of respondents said they opposed giving companies such immunity, while 36 percent supported it.''
The Chamber of Commerce, which is squarely on the other side of the fight, released its own polling according to Politico showing the exact opposite.
''A poll conducted days earlier by the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies for the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform found the opposite among 800 voters surveyed by phone,'' Politico's Meyer wrote. ''Asked whether 'Congress should protect many businesses and types of companies from lawsuits related to the coronavirus,' 61 percent of voters agreed and 27 percent said no.''
But no matter who is paying out and who is receiving payments as a result of litigation, and no matter who wins and who loses lawsuits, the one group that always comes out on top is the trial lawyers. That ''most expensive legal battle in history'' that Houghtaling describes has but one absolute winner: the trial lawyers who bring the cases.
Houghtaling is a curious choice for Democrats in the House as a witness to push this line protecting endless litigation, as his political donation history aligns closely with top Democrats in Congress. Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports show that Houghtaling donated $10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)'--the formal Democrat Party arm charged with electing Democrats to the House'--in 2014. Those FEC records show that he also made a $5,128 in-kind contribution to the DCCC for hosting the fundraising event at which he gave the $10,000. For instance, in 2000 he donated $1,000 to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign in New York. Later, in 2016, he gave $2,700'--the maximum allowable by law'--to Clinton's presidential campaign.
In fact, from 1998 until 2015, Houghtaling gave almost exclusively to Democrats.
But in 2014, Houghtaling founded an energy company called American Ethane Company, LLC. The company, which has ties to Russia and according to filings with the Louisiana Secretary of State even has a mailing address in Moscow, seems to have altered Houghtaling's donation history. He started giving to Republicans, including former U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany'--a GOP House member who ran for U.S. Senate'--and other Republicans throughout the South in particular in Louisiana like Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and House GOP whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).
The establishment media has actually ripped Houghtaling's energy company in its efforts to paint President Trump as close with Russia. In July 2018, the Guardian for instance ran this headline: ''Former Putin adviser has secret investment in US energy firm praised by Trump.''
In the piece, the Guardian's Luke Harding details how Vladimir Putin's former chief of staff has a stake in Houghtaling's company:
Vladimir Putin's former chief of staff has a secret investment in an American energy company hailed by Donald Trump as creating jobs for American workers. Alexander Voloshin '' who served as Boris Yeltsin's chief of staff before working for Putin between 2000 and 2003 '' has an undisclosed stake in American Ethane, a Houston-based firm that recently signed a multibillion dollar export deal with China. Voloshin is part of a consortium of Russian investors in American Ethane that at one point included the oligarch and billionaire Roman Abramovich.
There are plenty of other ties between American Ethane and Russia, but the company also has ties to the Chinese. According to the firm's own website, it has made a number of deals with Chinese companies and has a Shanghai office.
But all of that aside, why the Democrats would brush all of these previous concerns about Russia aside to hype a trial lawyer like this amid the coronavirus pandemic and as the country seeks to reopen are curious'--and could foreshadow that bigger battle many are talking about behind the scenes that's about to burst out into the open.
Are medical errors really the third most common cause of death in the U.S.? (2019 edition) '' Science-Based Medicine
There is a myth promulgated by both quacks and academics who should know better that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. You'll see figures of 250,000 or even 400,000 deaths each year due to medical errors, which would indeed be the third leading cause of death after heart disease (635,000/year) and cancer (598,000/year). When last I discussed this issue three years ago, specifically a rather poor study out of The Johns Hopkins that estimated that 250,000 to 400,000 deaths per year are due to medical errors, I pointed out how these figures are vastly inflated and don't even make any sense on the surface. For one thing, there are only 2.7 million total deaths per year in the US, which would mean that these estimates, if accurate, would translate into 9% to 15% of all deaths being due to medical errors. Those numbers just don't make sense. It's even worse than that, though. This particular study looked at hospital-based deaths, of which there are around 715,000 per year, which would imply that these estimates, if accurate, would mean that medical errors cause between 35% and 56% of all in-hospital deaths, numbers that are highly implausible, something that would be obvious if anyone ever bothered to look at the appropriate denominators. Unfortunately, in the three years since its publication, the Makary study has taken on a life of its own, and it's basically become commonly accepted knowledge that medical errors are the third leading cause of death, even though this estimate is based on highly flawed studies and these numbers are five- to ten-fold greater than the number of people who die in auto collisions every year.
I see this number popping up in the most unexpected places, mentioned matter-of-factly, as though it were truth that everyone accepts:
Medical errors are NOT the third leading cause of death in the US. For that to be true, one-third to one-half of all hospital deaths would have to be due to medical errors.
Damn, that lie just won't die, and even good reporters fall for it. That's why it's so insidious. https://t.co/XtkP2CX2gY
'-- David Gorski, MD, PhD (@gorskon) February 1, 2019
Yes, Arthur Allen, a writer I've admired since his book Vaccine, casually included that factoid in his story.
The attempt to quantify how many deaths are attributable to medical error began in earnest in 2000 with the Institute of Medicine's To Err Is Human, which estimated that the death rate due to medical error was 44,000 to 96,000, roughly one to two times the death rate from automobiles. At the time, in response to the study, the quality improvement (QI) revolution began. Every hospital began implementing QI initiatives. Indeed, I was co-director of a statewide QI effort for breast cancer patients for three years. Yet, as Mark Hoofnagle points out in the Twitter thread above, the estimates for ''death by medicine'' keep increasing. They went from 100,000 to 200,000 and now as high as 400,000. On quack websites, the number is even higher. For instance, ¼ber-quack Gary Null teamed with Carolyn Dean, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio, and Dorothy Smith to write a paper ''Death by Medicine,'' which estimated that the total number of iatrogenic deaths is nearly 800,000 a year, which would be the number one cause of death, if true and nearly one-third of all deaths in the US. Basically, when it comes to these estimates, it seems as though everyone is in a race to see who can blame the most deaths on medical errors.
How did we get here? As Mark Hoofnagle put it:
Here's the history, the "3rd cause" canard comes from a major frameshift on measuring error, and a questionable algorithmic measurement of error that does not actually detect mistakes but "ripples" in the EMR that are *proxies* for error '' ICU admissions, major order changes etc.
'-- Mark Hoofnagle (@MarkHoofnagle) February 1, 2019
Mark was referring to the use of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Global Trigger Tool, which is arguably way too sensitive. Also, as I explained in my deconstruction of the Johns Hopkins paper, the authors conflated unavoidable complications with medical errors, didn't consider very well whether the deaths were potentially preventable, and extrapolated from small numbers. Many of these studies also used administrative databases, which are primarily designed for insurance billing and thus not very good for other purposes.
So, if the estimates between 200,000 and 400,000 are way too high, what is the real number of deaths that can be attributed to medical error? How would we go about estimating it? As part of that Twitter exchange, Mark pointed me to a recent publication that suggests how. Not surprisingly, its estimates are many-fold lower than the Hopkins study. Also not surprisingly, it got basically no press coverage. The study was published two weeks ago in JAMA Network Open; it's by Sunshine et al. out of the University of Washington and is entitled ''Association of Adverse Effects of Medical Treatment With Mortality in the United States: A Secondary Analysis of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study''.
The first thing you should note is that the study doesn't just look at medical errors, but rather all adverse events, and their association with patient mortality. That basically means any adverse event, whether it was due to a medical error or not. The study itself is a cohort study using the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) study, which uses the GBD database to estimate changes in the rate of death due to adverse events from 1990 to 2016. This database is described thusly in the paper:
The 2016 GBD study is a multinational collaborative project with an aim of providing regular and consistent estimates of health loss worldwide. Methods for GBD 2016 have been reported in full elsewhere. Briefly, data were obtained from deidentified death records from the National Center for Health Statistics; records included information on sex, age, state of residence at time of death, and underlying cause of death. Causes were classified according to the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9), for deaths prior to 1999 and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) for subsequent deaths. Each death was categorized as resulting from a single underlying cause. All ICD codes were mapped to the GBD cause list, which is hierarchically organized, mutually exclusive, and collectively exhaustive.
The GBD methodology also accounts for when ill-defined or implausible causes were coded as the underlying cause of death. Plausible underlying causes of death were assigned to each ill-defined or implausible cause of death according to proportions derived in 1 of 3 ways: (1) published literature or expert opinion, (2) regression models, and (3) initial proportions observed among targets.
If you want more detail about the database, the paper in which it was reported is open access, but here's a bit about the data sources:
The GBD study combines multiple data types to assemble a comprehensive cause of death database. Sources of data included VR and VA data; cancer registries; surveillance data for maternal mortality, injuries, and child death; census and survey data for maternal mortality and injuries; and police records for interpersonal violence and transport injuries. Since GBD 2015, 24 new VA studies and 169 new country-years of VR data at the national level have been added. Six new surveillance country-years, 106 new census or survey country-years, and 528 new cancer-registry country-years were also added.
Adverse effects of medical treatment (AEMT) were classified into six categories: (1) adverse drug events, (2) surgical and perioperative adverse events, (3) misadventure (events likely to represent medical error, such as accidental laceration or incorrect dosage), (4) adverse events associated with medical management, (5) adverse events associated with medical or surgical devices, and (6) other. The authors used a method known as cause-of-death ensemble modeling (CODEm), a standard analytic tool used in GBD cause-specific mortality analyses. This method was used to generate mortality rate and cause fraction (percentage of all-cause deaths due to a specific GBD cause) estimates for the years 1990 through 2016. Finally, the authors analyzed the cause-of-death chains for all deaths from 1980 to 2014 to determine how frequently AEMT was (1) anywhere within a death certificate's cause-of-death chain (ie, not underlying cause) and (2) which other contributing causes were most frequently found in the causal chain when AEMT was certified as the underlying cause.
Let's look at the author's primary results. First, they found 123,603 deaths (95% UI, 100,856-163,814 deaths) in which AEMT was determined to be the underlying cause of death. I must admit that when I first read that, for some reason I had a brain fart in which I thought the authors were saying that they had found 123,603 deaths per year due to AEMT. (Too much IOM and Hopkins on the brain, I guess.) Actually, that was the total number for the entire period.
Here's the rest of the primary findings of the study:
The absolute number of deaths in which AEMT was the underlying cause increased from 4180 (95% UI, 3087-4993) in 1990 to 5180 (95% UI, 4469-7436) in 2016. Most of this increase was due to population growth and aging, as demonstrated by a 21.4% decrease (95% UI, 1.3%-32.2%) in the national age-standardized AEMT mortality rate over the same period, from 1.46 (95% UI, 1.09-1.76) deaths per 100'¯000 population in 1990 to 1.15 (95% UI, 1.00-1.60) deaths per 100'¯000 population in 2016 (Figure 1A). When not exclusively measured as the underlying cause of death, AEMT appeared in the cause-of-death chain in 2.7% of all deaths from 1980 to 2014, which corresponds to AEMT being a contributing cause for an additional 20 deaths for each death when it is the underlying cause. Mortality associated with AEMT as either an underlying or contributing cause appeared in 2.8% of all deaths.
Let's unpack this a minute. We're looking at a number of deaths due to AEMT that's 50- to nearly 80-fold smaller than the numbers in the Hopkins study. More than that, the number normalized to population is falling, having fallen 21% over 36 years.
So what's the difference between this study and studies like the Hopkins study and the studies upon which the Hopkins study was based? First, it uses a database designed to estimate the prevalence of different causes of death, rather than for insurance billing. Second, it used rigorous methodology to identify deaths that were primarily due to AEMTs. One thing about this study that makes sense comes from its observation that AEMT is a contributing cause for 20 additional deaths for each death for which it is the underlying cause. For 5,180 deaths in the most recent year, that means 108,780 deaths had an AEMT as a contributing or primary cause that year, which is in line with the IOM estimates. It's also in line with my assertions that one major issue with previous studies is that the unspoken underlying assumption behind them is that that if a patient had an AEMT during his hospital course it was the AEMT that killed him. As for the studies finding up to 400,000 deaths a year due to medical errors, they are, as Monty Python would say, right out.
Remember, too, that this is a study of all AEMTs, but the authors did try to estimate what proportion of these AEMTs were due to medical error, or, as they put it, ''misadventure.'' Take a look at this graph, Figure 3 from the paper:
First of all, notice how, not unexpectedly, AEMTs increase with patient age. Older patients, of course, have more medical comorbidities and tend to be more medically fragile, with less room for things to go wrong. Second of all, notice that for all age ranges save one, how small a fraction of the total AEMTs were deemed to have been due to misadventure representing probable medical error. As the authors put it:
In the secondary analysis, in which AEMT was listed as the underlying cause of death, 8.9% were due to adverse drug events, 63.6% to surgical and perioperative adverse events, 8.5% to misadventure, 14% to adverse events associated with medical management, 4.5% to adverse events associated with medical or surgical devices, and 0.5% to other AEMT (eTable 6 in the Supplement). The ranking of the subtypes was stable over time (Figure 3A) but with increasing rates of adverse drug events and decreasing rates of misadventure and surgical and perioperative adverse events. Adverse events related to medical or surgical devices and other AEMT were nearly absent in the 1990s but have been responsible for a stable proportion of overall AEMT since the switch to ICD-10 coding of death certificates. Surgical and perioperative adverse events were the most common subtype of AEMT in almost all age groups and increased in importance with age (Figure 3B); misadventure was the largest subtype in neonates, and adverse drug events predominated in individuals aged 20 to 24 years.
So what we can say from these data are that (1) AEMTs are not uncommon; (2) the vast majority of AEMTs that occur in patients who die aren't the primary cause of death; (3) only a relatively small fraction of AEMTs are due to misadventure or medical error; and (4) population-adjusted AEMT rates have been slowly decreasing. The study is not bulletproof, of course. No study is. For instance, the GBD approach uses ICD-coded death certificates, which have shown varying degrees of reliability in identifying medical harm. In addition, it is probable that a significant number of deaths involving AEMT are not captured because of incomplete reporting. There are also issues with GBD methodology that might not accurately capture every AEMT:
'...the GBD study's cause classification system that assigns each death to only a single underlying cause means that some events associated with AEMT may be grouped elsewhere. Such groupings are dependent on which ICD code was assigned as the underlying cause. For example, adverse drug events from prescribed opioids leading to death would likely be assigned to the GBD study's cause of ''opioid abuse'' (ICD-10 code, F11) or ''accidental poisoning'' (ICD-10 code, T40) based on the mechanism of death, whereas they are included with medical harm in many other studies based on the association with a prescription. Somewhat analogously, nosocomial infections (ICD-10 code, Y95) are often coassigned with a pathogen or type of infection when responsible for a death, and, because Y95 does not end up as the single underlying cause on such death certificates, they are not classified in the GBD study as AEMT.
So let's say that this study's estimates of how many people die from AEMTs and, in particular, from medical misadventure, are better estimates than the ''third leading cause of death'' studies. (I happen to think that it is, even if it might have somewhat underestimated AEMTs.) Does that mean there's no problem? Of course not, one death from medical error is too many. Roughly 5,200 deaths a year from AEMT and 108,000 deaths in which an AEMT was contributory are too many. However, we do no one other than quacks any favors by grossly exaggerating the scope of the problem, and several lines of evidence show that deaths due to AEMTs are decreasing modestly, not skyrocketing, as the ''death by medicine'' crowd would have you believe. We can do better. We should do better. We won't do better by spreading myths that medical errors are the third leading cause of death.
Suicides Outnumber Coronavirus Deaths in San Francisco Bay Area - American Greatness
Doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area of California are reporting higher death totals from suicides, as a result of the lockdown orders, than from the coronavirus itself, as reported by Fox News.
One example is Walnut Creek, 25 miles outside of San Francisco, where doctors at the John Muir Medical Center confirming more suicide deaths than coronavirus deaths in the area.
One trauma nurse at John Muir, Kacey Hansen, confirmed in a statement to the press that many of the suicide victims are younger people depressed about losing their jobs or unable to find work. ''They intend to die,'' Hansen said, adding that while ''sometimes people will make what we call a 'gesture,''' simply seeking attention, ''we're seeing something a little different than that right now.''
Dr. Mike deBoisblanc of the Walnut Creek hospital, which serves patients in Contra Costa County, said that the hospital had seen ''a year's worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.''
California remains one of the last few states in the country that is still mostly locked-down, even as coronavirus cases nationwide have been consistently on the decline. Most Republican officials, including President Trump, have warned that a continued lockdown and economic standstill could prove far more devastating than the virus, while some Democratic governors in states such as California, New York, New Jersey, and Michigan, seem determined to keep their states locked down indefinitely.
Report: 1,797,910 Firearms Sold in April 2020, a 71.3% Increase Over April 2019 | CNSNews
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Restarting Production After Coronavirus: Inside the Pricey Plans '' Variety
Someone had to take the leap. After months of coronavirus-imposed shutdowns, Tyler Perry announced May 12 that he will begin production at his Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studios on the second season of his BET show ''Sistas'' on July 8, and ''The Oval'' three weeks later. As he ramps up production, Perry will be among the very first in the business to put into action a profusion of untested ideas that have preoccupied the entertainment industry on how to get back to work in the age of COVID-19.
''I'm excited about it,'' Perry tells Variety. ''I'm excited about being able to make sure that people can take care of themselves and support their families, but also excited about setting a template here that I think could work everywhere.''
He'll test the cast and his ''drastically'' scaled back Atlanta-based crew when they arrive at the studio and before they begin production, and four more times during the two-and-a-half-week shoots for each show. Everyone on the set will wear protective masks, and group scenes will be held until after the fourth day on set, when everyone has been tested again. Meals will be served in different ''catering pods'' on the largest soundstage to maximize social distancing. Perry will fly out-of-town cast members in on his private plane, and, since the studio is a decommissioned U.S. Army compound, everyone working on the production will live on campus.
Darren Braun for Variety
''It's really a military effort '-- and no better place to do that than a former military base,'' says Perry.
When asked how much all of these preventive measures will add to the price tag of production, the self-made mogul acknowledges, ''It's an enormous undertaking and an enormous cost to the budget.'' (Read more on Tyler Perry here.)
Perry's words reflect a common and troubling refrain reverberating throughout the entertainment business.
In one harried week in mid-March, as COVID-19 cases and deaths were multiplying everywhere, Hollywood scrambled to shut down, and doing so has exacted a severe financial toll across the industry, as well as on the cities that rely on production as a key economic engine. The even harder work, however, lies ahead: the painstaking '-- and costly '-- process of opening back up.
Shorter shooting days will lead to longer shooting schedules; casts and crews will be put in quarantine; there will be added breaks for temperature checks and accurate COVID testing; there will be more extensive visual effects where extras once stood; newly trained personnel dedicated to health and safety will need to be hired; medical-grade cleaning equipment and PPE '-- and insurance if producers are lucky enough to secure it '-- will balloon the hard costs of production.
Variety spoke with dozens of studio executives, producers, directors, actors and below-the-line artisans in the U.S., Canada and Europe about what the new normal on set might look like as productions begin to start up again. While everyone's working on some kind of plan, most (at least, in North America) are not actually proceeding until the impending release of highly anticipated guidelines spearheaded by the AMPTP, which is based on input from studios, epidemiologists and public health officials, as well as sensitive negotiations with the various trade unions.
What's emerged is a moving target that no one quite has a full grasp of but everyone understands is heading in only one direction: The costs of production, already sky-high, are going to get even higher.
Even without detailed industry guidelines in place, the executives Variety spoke with forecast increased expenses. Any potential cost reductions '-- shooting only on soundstages, with a smaller crew and cast out of social-distancing necessity '-- seem like a drop in the bucket. ''I don't anticipate any savings,'' says one studio production chief. ''We're looking at more than incremental increases. It's very hard to say, but on a major movie, as much as 20% increases. And that's on paper.''
Not everyone is on board with the idea of going back into production before there is medicinal treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19. One director of a studio movie that was in pre-production when everything shut down thinks such plans are irresponsible. The filmmaker, who spoke to Variety under the condition of anonymity, resents that he was sent to scout locations in March when it was clear to him that the world was in a pandemic, and he thinks any plan to restart is ludicrous. ''A movie can't work with masks and social distancing '-- everyone is all over each other all the time,'' he says. ''To not face that, either you're in denial or you're ignorant, or you're pretending to not know so the company isn't liable.''
But one producer engaged in an overall studio deal believes that in order to get back in business, people need to shift from the mindset of taking no risks at all to making production as safe as possible '-- which, yes, does involve risk. The producer, who did not want to be identified, says pre-production can happen remotely, as can post-production: ''We just have to figure out the filming.''
When asked about the consequences of an indefinite production halt across the industry, the producer considers it, and then says: ''I mean, look, we all die without it, right?''
Brian Stauffer for Variety
It will be many months before we know whether the scramble to make movies in a world in which few theaters are open is practical planning for a COVID-less future or delusional magical thinking. Variety interviewed three studio executives overseeing such planning, none of whom was authorized to speak on the record.
Every production will have to have expanded health departments, and ''on a big movie,'' says one of the executives, ''that could be 15 people.''
''Hours will be longer to get the same amount of normal work in a day if we're getting people in protective gear and taking temperatures,'' this executive continues. ''Even with adding days. No efficiencies we create will reduce the cost of what we're doing in the short term.''
For many of the biggest-scaled productions, even having a timeline for returning to work seems premature. As a second high-level studio exec put it, ''To state what may be the obvious, I think the really big crew, lots of extras, multi-country production where you sort of are required to globe-trot is probably last in the queue.''
Another executive, who runs physical production at a studio, calls all the speculation ''wildly early'' and declines to hypothesize about budgets. But this executive certainly foresees more money being spent on COVID precautions '-- including wondering whether only one actor can get makeup and hair done at a time, leading to more delays. This executive has a ''Pollyanna side,'' however, and hopes there might be ''an interest in doing things in less time anyway'' on the part of filmmakers who might forgo filming around the world in favor of soundstages, which are more economical.
''The people who are most passionate about the creative might say, 'Oh no, I want to make my movie achievable,''' says the executive, who wonders if there will be movies that jump the line that are ''containable'' '-- like a single-setting horror movie. ''There are so many movies on the docket, but you might see one of the smaller ones get a real good shot,'' the executive says. ''Who wouldn't like a nice four-character horror-genre movie right now?''
Tyler Perry directs an episode from Season 1 of ''The Oval'' with actors Yvonne Senat Jones,Vaughn Hebron, Teesha Ren(C)e and Ptosha Storey. The series is set to restart production July 28. Courtesy of Tyler Perry Studios
Before that can begin, however, this executive would like to test how all of the new protocols will work on a ''two-day pickup shoot,'' preferably on the studio backlot. ''If I were able to shoot a couple of pickup dates and have that happen in July, I'd feel really fortunate,'' the executive says. ''If it's August, I'd also feel really good. A whole movie maybe a little bit after that.''
When larger-scale movie production does start again, Pinewood Atlanta Studios '-- where ''Black Panther,'' ''Avengers: Endgame'' and many other tentpole films have been shot '-- plans to be ready. Frank Patterson, the CEO of Pinewood Atlanta, has set a restart deadline of June 1, and has spent more than $1 million so far on hospital-grade HVAC upgrades, hand-washing stations and security measures to reduce risk of infection. ''We decided we're going to be the safest, cleanest place to make a movie in the world,'' Patterson says.
Blackhall Studios in Atlanta is also undergoing preparations to resume work. CEO Ryan Millsap tells Variety that the studio is undertaking a coronavirus retrofit that will include air conditioning filters and antibody testing capacity, which will cost ''millions when it's all finished.'' Millsap believes that Blackhall could be just a few weeks away from shooting.
''We're in pretty serious talks with two major production companies about starting up again in June,'' he says, adding that one of the companies is Disney.
Millsap adds that he's negotiating to lease a 300-unit apartment building about 10 minutes from the production facility. Crew could be housed there, provided with meals and shuttled to the studio for work; they could be quarantined for up to six months. ''It's kind of like a kibbutz,'' he says.
However, Mike Akins, business agent of IATSE Local 479, has pumped the brakes on these plans, saying May 12 that production would likely resume in Georgia in ''30 to 45 days, at the earliest.''
For at least one big movie, it could be longer. Netflix's ''Red Notice,'' a spy thriller starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, had transitioned to shooting in Atlanta after hopping across a series of international locales when it had to shut down production. But director Rawson Marshall Thurber has no idea when it's going to resume shooting.
''We're starting conversations about procedures to keep people safe on set so that we can get back to work,'' he says. ''But there's really nothing circled on the calendar about when we'll come back. It could be late summer or early fall; it could be next year.''
''It's an enormous undertaking and an enormous cost to the budget.''Tyler Perry
Similarly, actor Zo Kravitz, who had to suspend work playing Catwoman opposite Robert Pattinson in Matt Reeves' ''The Batman,'' says that part of her is ''hoping to wake up every day to an email or a phone call saying, 'We're ready to go.''' But when that could be remains unclear.
''I'm in touch with everybody, and everyone's ready to go when it's safe,'' she says. ''But no, we have no idea.''
The issue is simply that considering the massive crews, complex stunt work and elaborate sets, costumes and makeup, large-scale productions might be too big to reasonably accommodate COVID-19 precautions without a vaccine.
After all, just suiting up to play one of Batman's most iconic rogues is not a one-person job, Kravitz says: ''You have people just touching your face, touching your body all day long. I need help getting into the catsuit. I can't do it on my own. I was probably touched more than any job, just because of the clothes and the combat and all of that.''
With their biggest movies on ice for the foreseeable future, studios will likely have to lean even more heavily on visual effects and pared-down production methods to keep their pipelines flowing.
''I'd like to believe that by the end of the year we're shooting something,'' says one high-level exec. ''Is that an actor against a green screen alone and the director is directing nearby but still remotely?''
In theory, independent productions are far better situated to get back to work. Yale Prods., which makes movies with budgets between $2 million and $10 million, had shot for one day on ''Castle Falls,'' a Dolph Lundgren project the company is executive producing in Alabama, when it was shut down by Birmingham's public health department. In lieu of concrete guidance on how to move forward, the production company is developing its own rules '-- ones that will cost more. ''It is inevitable that we do spend more money,'' says partner Jordan Yale Levine. ''But we're trying to minimize how much that is.''
Keeping the cast and crew in a nearby hotel is already in the company's budgets for location shooting, but the team has been running the numbers on what else will be needed. Yale's head of production Jon Keeyes says he anticipates additive costs of ''$5,000 to $7,500 a week'' for thermometers, sanitizing equipment, masks and gloves, an on-site medic and an additional PA in charge of cleaning. Those numbers do not include testing, which the company considers crucial.
Keeyes has been in touch with the Alabama film office, as well as the one in Birmingham. The company expects to go back into pre-production on ''Castle Falls'' in June, begin filming in July and then start another movie right after that with the same crew. ''Obviously, that is predicated on the idea that everyone stays safe and healthy as we move forward, and we don't see spikes'' of people getting sick, Keeyes says.
Because of how nimble independent productions can be, producer Lynette Howell Taylor (''A Star Is Born'') sees possibilities there. ''I immediately went into 'OK, what can we do with five people and a camera?''' Taylor says. ''I feel like independent filmmakers are going to have another resurgence again. I think it's actually an incredible opportunity.''
Pinewood Atlanta Studios has spent more than $1 million so far on measures to reduce the risk of infection. Courtesy of Pinewood Studios
If indie productions can even get insured, that is. ''The information that we've gotten from different brokers and people that we work with on the insurance side has been, generally speaking, that it will be difficult to cover any sort of COVID-related kinds of claims,'' says Jordan Beckerman, Levine's partner at Yale Prods. (For more information on productions and insurance, read this.)
Making crews smaller than they already are also requires a fraught negotiation of long-established union contracts and conventions that delineate everything from who can set up lights and operate a camera to who can move the director's chair. According to several sources, that negotiation is ongoing, and is one of the main reasons an industrywide task force that includes members from the AMPTP, SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, CSATF and IATSE has yet to present anticipated guidelines for production to state governments. Meanwhile, several guilds, including SAG-AFTRA and the DGA, are also forging ahead with their own advisory boards and select committees on how to safely restart production, with little clarity to date on whether the larger entertainment community can expect one set of guidelines '-- or several.
Spokespeople for the AMPTP and the major guilds participating in the industry task force declined multiple requests to comment on the record for this story, save for a vaguely worded statement from SAG-AFTRA national executive director David P. White: ''We will continue to collaborate and coordinate with other guilds and unions on safety and protocols for returning to work. No one yet knows when the industry will be able to restart production, but we intend to be ready at the earliest possible time while ensuring the safety of our members.''
Across the pond, however, things are progressing with more dispatch. On May 18, U.K. TV broadcasters published guidelines that cover all manner of television production, with a special emphasis on considering those at higher risk, reducing overall production personnel and minimizing travel. This comes after the British Film Commission released draft protocols on May 6 for film and high-end-drama TV production, including a dedicated COVID-19 health and safety supervisor; ''isolation accommodations'' for any international cast and crew; replacing crowd scenes with CGI; and additional time for set construction, set dressing, costumes and makeup.
Meanwhile, Iceland announced last week that it will open its borders to international crews and talent on June 15. In Sweden and Denmark, film and television production is already underway. And Australia's long-standing soap opera ''Neighbours'' resumed production in April. British Columbia announced that production can begin in June, but until the U.S.-Canadian border no longer requires a 14-day quarantine period, it's unclear how realistic that restart is. (A source close to Warner Bros. says the studio has no definitive dates for resuming any of its Vancouver-based productions.)
Also, as Variety has reported, Amazon is set to start shooting the 1960s-set comedy series ''Voltaire, Mixte'' in the south of France in mid-July, and two domestic French films '-- period drama ''Eiffel'' and WWII film ''Adieu Monsieur Haffmann'' '-- will start shooting in Paris in June.
''I immediately went into 'OK, what can we do with five people and a camera?' I feel like independent filmmakers are going to have another resurgence again.''Lynette Howell Taylor, producer
And according to Adam Goodman, the head of Mid Atlantic Films in Budapest, foreign crews will be able to return to Hungary ''by early July, if not sooner.'' Goodman was working on four Hollywood productions, including Sony's period movie ''The Nightingale,'' starring Dakota and Elle Fanning, and Showtime's adaptation of the video game ''Halo,'' when the shutdown happened. He's now engaged in a ''continual assessment, re-budgeting, rescheduling phase'' in anticipation of the return of those productions.
''I've been on calls where we're talking about a shooting crew of 30 people '-- and not necessarily 30 people on set all at the same time '-- and I'm used to 150, 300 people,'' he says. ''It's a bit like when you do a nude scene and you make it a closed set, with a minimal number of personnel.''
But smaller crews, he says, will be at the expense of efficiency, flexibility and speed: ''Things will be slower.''
Paula Heffernan, head of production at Element Pictures (''Normal People,'' ''The Favourite''), agrees. ''At the start of the day you need your electrical team to rig the lights, then your art department to dress the set, then your camera department to set up their equipment,'' she says. ''All of that will take time off your shooting day, and I imagine we'll have to end up having to extend the shooting schedule. Everyone knows that's where the huge costs come in.''
Restarting production itself is expensive. Christopher Aird, head of drama at U.K.-based Two Brothers Pictures (''Fleabag''), was filming a second season of the BBC/Masterpiece drama ''Baptiste'' in Hungary when everything was halted. ''To stand the whole production down, pay everyone and then rehire people back up is significant,'' Aird says. ''Hundreds of thousands of pounds. The gross cost is in excess of 10% of total production. That's an awful lot of money.''
All those expenses can add up quickly. Michaela Fereday, an executive producer at Red, the production company behind HBO and the BBC's ''Years and Years,'' says that for a contemporary, London-based drama series, all the added precautions and protocols could add up to a ''ballpark'' of about $120,000 (roughly £100,000) per week. One of her company's upcoming series, ''Ridley Road'' for the BBC, was two weeks away from shooting in Manchester before the shutdown. She calculates COVID-related precautions for the 12-week shoot could run the production about $1 million '-- and that's not factoring in the $340,000 cost of halting the show and then getting it back up and running.
''At the moment on that particular show, I'm facing what could be a million pounds off the bottom line,'' she says.
The enormous scale of television productions, which can take nine months to film, can have crews of up to 300 and generally have scores of recurring and guest actors, certainly presents different challenges from movies. And scripted TV has seen budgets explode in recent years because of competition between streamers and traditional corporate conglomerates for talent and projects. But for legacy networks and studios, the addition of coronavirus-related costs on TV productions will further eat away at profit margins that have already been shrinking for years. Which means there's not much wiggle room for added expenditures, especially when all production immediately ceased in mid-March.
TV productions could especially feel the financial pinch with any kind of crowd scene that would have involved hiring in a few dozen extras for the day. ''It depends on many factors,'' says Adrian de Wet, visual effects supervisor on the Apple TV Plus series ''See.'' ''Say you have a battle scene in which two armies are charging at each other and the camera is on a drone flying low. That's an extremely complex scenario that is going to cost somewhere in the high tens of thousands [of dollars]. However, if you were to shoot the scene with a camera in a fixed position, [that] will be a fraction of the cost. Planning is key.''
One U.S.-based TV producer who oversees multiple shows spells out the conundrum. ''On the one hand, people have to be safe, as safe as possible,'' she says. ''On the other hand, we haven't made any money for months, so there's no more money!
''I think you might see even more of a line between the haves and have-nots,'' she continues, ''companies that have to show a profit and companies that don't.''
An example: One of the ideas that's been floated to keep sets safer is a strict 10-hour workday instead of the usual plan for 12 to 13 hours, which can often extend even longer. But that would mean a show that normally takes eight days per episode would now take 10, resulting in added costs. Whatever extra equipment and medical experts are needed to ensure the set is safe would likely come out of the show's episodic budget '-- at the expense of other things. One showrunner is dreading the money crunch. ''We've been told, 'Don't worry about it '-- somebody will pay for it,''' he says. ''And that somebody is us two months from now!''
The U.S.-based TV producer says one bright spot is seeing the entire industry galvanized to find solutions: ''I think right now there is such a unity and alignment of goals. And that's kind of nice.''
It's also likely transformative. There's plenty of run time on the COVID-19 pandemic before the final credits roll.
''The biggest thing is going to be getting everyone to understand that it's not just something that's going to change for a few weeks,'' Aird says. ''I believe this will be something we'll be doing for at least a year, maybe two.''
Leo Barraclough, Tim Dams, Matt Donnelly, Daniel Holloway, Angelique Jackson, Brent Lang, Cynthia Littleton, Gene Maddaus, Marc Malkin, Dave McNary, Manori Ravindran and Jazz Tangcay contributed to this story.
Sex workers' slashed income due to COVID-19 shutdown reflects 'inequities in society,' advocate says - TheBlaze
As TheBlaze has previously reported, the coronavirus economic shutdown has been hitting sex workers' bank accounts like many other people.
How desperate has it become? Well, after a Portland strip club called the Lucky Devil Lounge had to close up shop, the owner switched the outfit to a food-delivery service called Boober Eats '-- which, of course, features scantily clad strippers carting hot food to patrons' homes.
'The pandemic has laid bare all the inequities in society'Commenting on sex workers' loss of business '-- which has left most of them ineligible for jobless benefits and struggling to make ends meet '-- a sex worker advocate told the Chicago Tribune in a story about the overall impact on the area's sex-work industry that it's all very unfair.
"It's kind of like the way the pandemic has laid bare all the inequities in society, especially the economic ones," Kathy Rosenfeld of Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago told the paper. "For sex workers whose livelihood is precarious in the best of times, it has exacerbated the [instability] of our lives."
She also appeared to decry that sex work is "criminalized" '-- and told the paper that such treatment works against those in the profession when economic times are tough.
"Since sex work is a criminalized industry, there isn't the kind of paper trail that federal agencies are looking for," Rosenfeld noted to the Tribune. "I would say it goes case by case, but in a lot of cases, people whose living has been sex work have been unable to interface with any government assistance."
Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago endeavors to raise money to help sex workers short on cash '-- but it can't do much more than hand out small amounts, such as $50 for groceries, the paper said.
"I don't know of any organization dedicated to sex workers that has resources to really make a long-term difference in people's lives economically," Rosenfeld noted to the Tribune.
Expert predicts long-lasting declineManisha Shah '-- a University of California at Los Angeles public policy scholar who's written about sex work economics '-- told the paper that the industry isn't likely to return to the way it operated any time soon.
"I don't think sex work will go back to its pre-pandemic state even when stay-at-home orders ease, as potential clients will still feel wary of in-person meetings," Shah noted to the Tribune. "It will likely take longer, perhaps even until a vaccine, before people feel comfortable interacting in person for sex services."
France ready to mirror British quarantine on visitors: AFP - Reuters
PARIS (Reuters) - France regrets a British decision to impose a quarantine on people arriving from mainland Europe, and stands ready to impose reciprocal measures, France's AFP news agency quoted the interior ministry as saying on Friday.
Britain's interior minister Priti Patel said earlier on Friday she will introduce a COVID-19 quarantine for travellers arriving from abroad from June 8, a measure that airlines have warned will devastate their industry.
Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Chris Reese
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Hertz preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as Friday night- WSJ '' Financial Post
Hertz Global Holdings Inc is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as Friday night after failing to reach a standstill agreement with its top lenders, the Wall Street Journal reported https://on.wsj.com/2A4ONKs, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Estero, Florida-based company, which operates the Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty car-rental brands, had been holding talks with creditors after skipping significant car-lease payments due in April.
Forbearance and waiver agreements on the missed payments were set to expire on Friday. (Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)
Hertz began rentals with a small fleet of Ford Model T sedans in 1918, growing into the giant it is today.
Hertz For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the
Hertz has filed for bankruptcy. Citing the coronavirus pandemic's swift and cataclysmic impact on its business, the rental-car giant announced Friday that it had filed for Chapter 11 protection in Delaware. The company, which also operates Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly rental-car brands with some 12,400 offices worldwide, will aim to restructure and stay in business. The filing is one of the highest-profile business bankruptcies in the wake of the virus crisis so far.
"The impact of COVID-19 on travel demand was sudden and dramatic, causing an abrupt decline in the company's revenue and future bookings," the company said in a statement. Indeed, with shelter-in-place orders around the globe, rental car companies have been hit hard by greatly reduced travel bookings, much like the airline , hotel and restaurant industries.
The pandemic's impact on its business may have been sudden, but Hertz's financial decline has been an ongoing concern for many years. In 2019, despite reporting a record annual revenue of $9.8 billion, it booked a $58 million loss, itself a substantial improvement on the $225 million loss the company reported in 2018.
Hertz has begun selling off its specially liveried Chevy Corvette Z06 rental cars.
Hertz As part of its bankruptcy-filing announcement, the company confirmed it has over $1 billion in cash on hand to support continuing operations, but according to CNN, the company is fighting against $18.8 billion in debt as of March 31, an increase of $1.7 billion since the end of 2019.
Hertz has been telegraphing its financial distress for some time. In late April, it was reported that the company had missed a lease payment, and a company spokesperson told Roadshow that Hertz was "...reducing expenses, deferring capital expenditures, and adjusting fleet levels and staffing," further noting that the company was having ongoing conversations with lenders and the US Treasury.
Hertz's chief executive, Kathryn Marinello, left the company on May 16, and the board named her replacement, Paul Stone, previously the company's executive vice president and chief retail operations officer, on May 18.
In its statement, Hertz revealed it has "implemented furloughs and layoffs of 20,000 employees" so far, representing about half of its global workforce. Of that total, it's estimated that in North America, the company has already shed 12,000 employees this year and placed a further 4,000 workers on furlough.
Wracked by COVID-19, Hertz had already implemented new sanitation protocols to improve safety.
Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Hertz has all but halted the ordering of new cars from automakers, and it was recently revealed that the company had begun selling off some of its specially liveried Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Camaro high-performance rentals, models among the crown jewels of its fleet.
In recent years, along with taxi companies and the rest of the traditional car-rental industry, Hertz had been battered by the rise of ride-sharing firms like Uber and Lyft, along with car-sharing startups like Turo . The company has itself attempted to make inroads into these emerging businesses, launching initiatives like its 24/7 car-sharing service as well as starting a monthly subscription service in June to combat a rise in automaker monthly subscription pilot programs . Additionally, yearly increases in telecommuting prior to the pandemic has also been curbing business-related travel, long a pillar of rental-car bookings.
While not unexpected, Hertz's bankruptcy and the heightened distress of the rental industry as a whole during the COVID-19 crisis is already taking a toll on the auto industry at large. Rental companies are estimated to be responsible for around 10% of car companies' yearly new-vehicle purchases.
Weight Watchers 'fired thousands employees on a five-minute Zoom call', staff say | Daily Mail Online
Fired Weight Watchers employees have claimed that the weight-loss company laid off thousands of staff members over a five-minute Zoom call last week.
The company confirmed it was letting go of an undisclosed number of staff as a result of studio closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
It came despite moves to begin reopening studios as the stay-in-place orders lift across the country.
Angered staff have gone online to voice their disgust at the way in which long-term employees were unceremoniously let go, with some claiming the number fired was as high as 4,000 people.
Weight Watchers has said it is taking the opportunity to reassess how it uses studio spaces as it begins reopening post-coronavirus lockdown. The company has failed to disclose how many employees it laid off last week but some former staff have claimed it was up to 4,000 people
Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman has said the company is now 'strategically repositioning our Studio business to have a smaller real estate footprint with fewer locations'
In a statement provided to DailyMail.com, Weight Watchers International did not confirm this figure but said: 'As the COVID-19 crisis has forced the closure of our physical studios around the world, we have had to make some difficult decisions that have directly impacted the lives of some of our valued team members.
'We thank them for all of their efforts on behalf of our members during their years of service,' the statement added.
'With the accelerated growth of our digital offerings in both our WW app and the launch of Virtual Workshops, we are taking this time to look at our real estate footprint as we begin to safely and cautiously re-open our WW Studios.
'These are challenging but necessary moves to best prepare us for the future as we continue to support our members and meet them where they need us most.'
News of the firings first appeared on the website The Layoff on May 14 where a former employee said thousands had been laid off via a phone call.
There have been hundreds of replies to the posting with some claiming that as many as 4,000 employees were fired.
Employees wrote that they had been asked via email to attend a mandatory phone call where they were read a script telling them of the layoffs.
They claim they were muted so that they could not ask questions and by the time they call was over, their employee email had already been deleted.
The news about the firings was first posted here and claimed that thousands were laid off
One former employee claimed that they thought the number fired was as high as 4,000 people
'For supposed champions of women, to FIRE 4000 dedicated long term mostly women of a certain age bracket during a pandemic in a 3 min phone call is disgusting,' said one anonymous poster.
'They couldn't have furloughed employees? No, they FIRED them.'
One poster named Sherron said that the fired employees had been asked not to discuss the terminations.
'Oh, and you can't discuss this with anyone. No explanation to members as to why we aren't there anymore,' they said.
'No option of furlough, but we could reapply in the future if any positions open. We are being swept under the rug.
'I have been a WW Guide for a little over 3 years, and I am disgusted as to how this was handled.'
Another former employee posted that they were 'disgusted' at how the staff were treated
Former employee Jeri Zacarese told DailyMail.com that she had worked for Weight Watchers as a field worker for 14 years in Brooklyn, Queens, and western Nassau County before last week.
'The way this firing was done was unimaginable,' she said.
'For a business that is supposed to be sensitive and show compassion this was cruel. They did not even let us finish out the week or collect belongings. We were told you are no longer needed. The virus was not the cause. We were only working a few zoom meetings. My whole territory was knocked out in 4 minutes.
'Thousands of employees were fired in a 5-minute phone call that was muted,' Zacarese added.
'No questions. We are not furloughed. Exit emails were sent the next day.
'Field employees were originally members that worked the program and then wanted to work. We did not work for the money we loved the members and the program but not management. In my tenure I had 8 managers.'
She claimed that 'everyone except the coaches were fired' and 'the numbers could be way more than the 4,000'.
Weight Watchers had reported a better-than-expected first quarter loss and despite the coronavirus pandemic, had driven its subscriptions up to a new high
The lay-offs came just before the launch of a four-week virtual festival being held with brand ambassador Oprah Winfrey, pictured right with WW CEO Mindy Grossman, left
Despite the request to stay silent, other former employees have also been speaking out, telling the Huffington Post about the support they were offering essential workers who were continuing the program while going out to work on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Erica Stein, 50, said that she would speak to a doctor who tended to COVID-19 patients.
'At the end of the day, she reached for a pint of ice cream and potato chips,' Stein said, explaining that the doctor would give herself a hard time for doing so.
'I said, "Oh my gosh, you're not a failure. Don't be so hard on yourself. Show yourself some kindness."'
'They fired us in the least empathetic way possible,' Nicolle Norman, 53, told the Huffington Post.
'I've been doing this for 18 years. I don't know where I can combine something that helps people like this with a flexible schedule that I have.'
Weight Watchers has not confirmed the number of employees fired or how many positions were eliminated.
The company made the announcement late last Friday and said it expects to spend about $12 million in employee-termination payments and other expenses.
The company had been forced to close its 3,000 physical locations across the United States in mid-March and had transitioned to holding weekly workshops over video-conferencing platform Zoom.
In an earnings call at the end of its first quarter on April 28, the company discussed how studio spaces would be used in the future as they look to make a larger transition into digital.
Amid the current crisis, it has taken the 30,000 weekly workshops held in studios and put them online.
The growth of its virtual workshops also meant the company was able to accelerate its digital transformation, according to the earnings report.
'While face-to-face experiences will always be a core part of WW, we are strategically repositioning our Studio business to have a smaller real estate footprint with fewer locations,' CEO Mindy Grossman said on the call, according to USA Today.
The company had reported a better-than-expected first quarter loss and despite the coronavirus pandemic, had driven its subscriptions up to a new high.
Its subscribers were up 9 percent year-on-year to five million which was an all-time end of quarter one high.
The lay-offs came just before the launch of a four-week virtual festival being held with brand ambassador Oprah Winfrey.
It is not the only company to have recently laid of its employees via Zoom.
Uber fired some 3,700 on the platform earlier this month and Scooter company Bird also laid of 400 employees in the same way.
The Striking Racial Divide in How COVID-19 Has Hit Nursing Homes - American Renaissance
Robert Gebeloff et al., New York Times, May 21, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the nation's nursing homes, sickening staff members, ravaging residents and contributing to at least 20 percent of the nation's Covid-19 death toll. The impact has been felt in cities and suburbs, in large facilities and small, in poorly rated homes and in those with stellar marks.
But Covid-19 has been particularly virulent toward African-Americans and Latinos: Nursing homes where those groups make up a significant portion of the residents '-- no matter their location, no matter their size, no matter their government rating '-- have been twice as likely to get hit by the coronavirus as those where the population is overwhelmingly white.
More than 60 percent of nursing homes where at least a quarter of the residents are black or Latino have reported at least one coronavirus case, a New York Times analysis shows. That is double the rate of homes where black and Latino people make up less than 5 percent of the population. And in nursing homes, a single case often leads to a handful of cases, and then a full-fledged outbreak.
The nation's nursing homes, like many of its schools, churches and neighborhoods, are largely segregated. And those that serve predominantly black and Latino residents tend to receive fewer stars on government ratings. Those facilities also tend to house more residents and to be located in urban areas, which are risk factors in the pandemic.
Yet the disparities in outbreaks among homes with more Latino and black residents have also unfolded in confusing ways that experts say are difficult to explain.
The race and ethnicity of the people living in a nursing home was a predictor of whether it was hit with Covid-19. But the Times analysis found that the federal government's five-star rating system, often used to judge the quality of a nursing home, was not a predictor. Even predominantly black and Latino nursing homes with high ratings were more likely to be affected by the coronavirus than were predominantly white nursing homes with low ratings, the data showed.
But the Times analysis found that a racial disparity remained even after accounting for a variety of factors, including the size of a nursing home, the infection rate in the surrounding county, the population density of the neighborhood and how many residents had Medicaid or Medicare.
Large homes with few black and Latino residents were less likely to have outbreaks than large ones with more black and Latino residents. A home in an urban area was less likely to get hit by the virus if it had a small black and Latino population.
About 1.3 million people live in the nation's nursing homes, according to federal data. About 80 percent of those residents are identified as white by nursing home administrators.
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Five People Shot In Washington '' Die From COVID-19 | Real Climate Science
About five cases involved COVID-positive people whose deaths involved gunshot wounds, she said. ''Our current dashboard reflects anyone who died, that tested positive for COVID, irrespective of cause of death,'' she said.
Washington state's actual coronavirus death toll may be higher than current tallies, health officials say | The Seattle Times
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Washington officials admit to counting GUNSHOT DEATHS in Covid-19 tally, say virus death toll likely underreported despite lapses -- Society's Child -- Sott.net
Epidemiologists with the Washington State Department of Health believe COVID-19-related deaths are likely being undercounted in Washington.
In a virtual briefing with reporters Thursday, DOH officials said tracking COVID-19 death data is not an easy task.
"There are a number of nuances to the data that we report and often it is very difficult - especially quickly - to make an assessment on the cause of death," said Dr. Katie Hutchison, Health Statistics Manager for the Washington State Department of Health.
The state's current COVID-19 death count includes anyone that's tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.
"We currently do have some deaths that are being reported that are clearly from other causes. We have about 5 deaths less than 5 deaths that we know of that are related to obvious other causes. In this case, they are from gunshot wounds," Hutchison said.
Those cases are currently included in the state's COVID-19 death count, Hutchison said. But the number will be adjusted.
There are approximately 20-30 other death cases that are harder to definitely rule out, Hutchison added. The cases do not have COVID-19 listed on the person's death certificate as a cause of death, but the certificates list other things like Alzheimer's disease and cancer. It's not clear if COVID-19 played a role in the deaths, Hutchison said. The state is reviewing the cases now with the help of local health officials to try to understand the role COVID-19 might have played in the deaths, she added.
It normally takes 6-12 months to get a clarification on a cause of death, Hutchison said.
Not included in the state's COVID-19 death count is approximately 3,000 cases where the person's death certificate indicated symptoms similar to COVID-19, but it's not clear if COVID-19 actually played a role in the person's death, Hutchison said.
"We suspect that we are actually more likely to be undercounting deaths than overcounting them," Hutchison told reporters.
The Freedom Foundation released a report this week claiming the state's death total is inflated by as much as 13 percent because it counts every person who tests positive for COVID-19 and then dies.
"The problem with that is - not every person who gets COVID-19 and subsequently passes away dies because of COVID-19," said Maxford Nelsen, Freedom Foundation.
Governor Jay Inslee reacted to the report on Monday.
"I have no reason to doubt the fatality numbers we're using in the state of Washington right now," Inslee said Monday.
"The problem is you got some people out there who are fanning these conspiracy claims from the planet Pluto. And it's just disgusting what they're trying to say of all these crazy deep-state malarkey. Who are kinda suggests that this not a problem in our state. I find that hard to accept with the number of dead in our state. So, that's a problem. And I hope it gets resolved," Inslee added.
KOMO News asked DOH officials if the public should trust the data being posted to the department's COVID-19 data dashboard.
"This is a case where we have a commitment to putting out the best and most current data that we have. And with any process that [involves] data particularly, as you're bringing it in in a rapid manner, there is a variation in the accuracy of it. In general, particularly with the information that we have for deaths, there is a very small variance. And that variance decreases as time goes on and we get more information added into you know our stockpile of information that we have and we're able to clarify and clean the information," Hutchison said.
"Currently, we're reporting just over 1,000 deaths, I would say that we currently have about a 3% variance on that. So, if we were to take our 30 deaths that are questionable - that we have about a 3% variance on that. And that is really quite excellent - considering how death certificates are processed," she added.
DOH officials said it's important to have accurate information to understand who's most at risk and how COVID-19 is transmitted.
"We want to understand as fully as we possibly can the impact of COVID-19 on our population and that means we want to understand the full spectrum of disease and of course the COVID-19 deaths are the most severe end of the spectrum, but we want to understand the full spectrum of disease to better understand whose most at risk of the disease, what we're seeing in terms of manifestations of the disease and try to take actions to prevent transmissions and to prevent deaths going forward," said Dr. Cathy Wasserman, State Epidemiologist for Non-Infectious Conditions for the Washington State Department of Health.
Nelsen said the information presented in DOH's virtual briefing with reporters Thursday actually validated his reporting.
"While Gov. Jay Inslee probably won't apologize for dismissing our report as the work of 'conspiracy theorists from the planet Pluto,' we do expect his administration to be more transparent about how it reports deaths from COVID-19 and separately account for deaths caused by COVID-19 and deaths of people who merely tested positive for the virus," Nelsen said in a statement sent to KOMO News.
Death by lockdown: Nursing home deaths account for 70% of Ohio's overall total -- Society's Child -- Sott.net
Nursing home residents continue to make up the vast majority of coronavirus-related deaths in Ohio, according to new Department of Health statistics.
At least 1,246 residents of Ohio's long-term care facilities have died as of Wednesday from the virus, or about 70% of the total COVID-19 deaths statewide, the data show.
As nursing home fatalities continue to rise, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has promised a plan to ramp up testing in long-term care facilities, including the deployment of 14 teams of Ohio National Guard members to assist with the testing.
The nursing home death toll includes 877 reported since mid-April in facilities identified in 38 counties. Those are on top of the deaths of 369 residents who died earlier when Ohio recorded only whether an individual had been in a nursing home.
The state says 14 National Guard teams of 10 members each will assist the Health Department with testing, with teams consisting of medically qualified Ohio Air and Army guard personnel including medics and nurses.
Nationally, outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have claimed more then 32,000 lives, according to a count by The Associated Press.
Last week, the White House strongly recommended to governors that all residents and staff at long-term care facilities be tested for the coronavirus in the next two weeks. DeWine said then that it was unlikely in Ohio, arguing the state had a responsible plan without widespread testing.
Meanwhile, the state reported Thursday that more than 1.2 million people filed unemployment claims in the past nine weeks as Ohio's stay-at-home order depressed the economy and led to widespread layoffs.
For the week ending May 16, just over 46,000 people filed jobless claims, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That's down from the approximately 51,000 claims filed the previous week.
The numbers announced Thursday pushed total unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic to 1,215,756, above the total number of claims over the past three years. The state says it has now distributed more than $2.8 billion in unemployment checks to more than 619,000 claimants.
Nationally, more than 2.4 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week.
The unemployment numbers were released as Ohio restaurants were set to offer indoor dining again Thursday after a two-month shutdown. Campgrounds are also reopening.
Horse racing begins again Friday, but without spectators.
Restaurants that allow diners inside must provide proper social distancing and other safety measures. The Ohio Restaurant Association says seven in 10 restaurants plan to reopen Thursday or soon after.
Restaurants could offer outdoor dining beginning May 15, which led to some scenes of overcrowded patios in cities around Ohio and a warning from Gov. Mike DeWine that police officers and health investigators will be making safety checks as part of beefed up enforcement teams.
Bar owners could wind up in court or lose their liquor licenses if they don't take steps to control their customers, DeWine warned.
Gyms and fitness centers reopen May 26 following a March 22 order shutting them down as nonessential businesses. On Wednesday, a Lake County judge called that order by Health Director Dr. Amy Acton "arbitrary, unreasonable and oppressive."
The ruling applies only to gyms in that northeastern Ohio county.
The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has reached 1,789, state health officials said.
The Ohio Department of Health said that 61 new deaths were reported in the past day and that overall there have been a total of 5,100 hospitalizations.
Health officials said there were nearly 29,500 cases considered either confirmed or probable.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Professor Sunetra Gupta: 'COVID Epidemic on Its Way Out' |
Professor Sunetra Gupta: 'COVID Epidemic on Its Way Out' Fri 10:28 pm +00:00, 22 May 2020 posted by Tapestry
UnHerd: Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford and head of the team that released a study in March which speculated that as much as 50% of the population may already have been infected and the true Infection Fatality Rate could be as low as 0.1%. In her first major interview since the Oxford study was published, she goes further by arguing that Covid-19 has already passed through the population and is now on its way out. She said:
On antibodies: ' Many of the antibody tests are ''extremely unreliable'' ' They do not indicate the true level of exposure or level of immunity ' ''Different countries have had different lockdown policies, and yet what we've observed is almost a uniform pattern of behaviour'' ' ''Much of the driving force was due to the build-up of immunity'' On IFR: ' ''Infection Fatality Rate is less than 1 in 1000 and probably closer to 1 in 10,000.'' ' That would be somewhere between 0.1% and 0.01% On lockdown policy: ' Referring to the Imperial model: ''Should we act on a possible worst case scenario, given the costs of lockdown? It seems to me that given that the costs of lockdown are mounting that case is becoming more and more fragile'' ' Recommends ''a more rapid exit from lockdown based more on certain heuristics, like who is dying and what is happening to the death rates'' On the UK Government response: ' ''We might have done better by doing nothing at all, or at least by doing something different, which would have been to pay attention to protecting the vulnerable'' On the R rate: ' It is ''principally dependent on how many people are immune'' and we don't have that information. ' Deaths are the only reliable measure. On New York: ' ''When you have pockets of vulnerable people it might rip through those pockets in a way that it wouldn't if the vulnerable people were more scattered within the general population.'' On social distancing: ' ''Remaining in a state of lockdown is extremely dangerous'' ' ''We used to live in a state approximating lockdown 100 years ago, and that was what created the conditions for the Spanish Flu to come in and kill 50m people.'' On next steps: ' ''It is very dangerous to talk about lockdown without recognising the enormous costs that it has on other vulnerable sectors in the population'' ' It is a ''strong possibility'' that if we return to full normal tomorrow '-- pubs, nightclubs, festivals '-- we would be fine. On the politics of Covid: ' ''There is a sort of libertarian argument for the release of lockdown, and I think it is unfortunate that those of us who feel we should think differently about lockdown'' ' ''The truth is that lockdown is a luxury, and it's a luxury that the middle classes are enjoying and higher income countries are enjoying at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and less developed countries.''
Watch this highly informative discussion with UnHerd host Freddie Sayer and Dr Gupta on the current status of the COVID-19 epidemic:
READ MORE COVID-19 NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire COVID-19 Files
"We've Never Seen Numbers Like This" - Trauma Doc Sees Post-Lockdown Suicide Wave Starting | Zero Hedge
We suggested, at the beginning of April, that a "suicide wave" was imminent considering the economic devastation sparked by COVID-19 lockdowns. In the last nine weeks, 38.6 million Americans have lost their jobs and were thrown into instant poverty. Many were already skating on thin financial ice even before the pandemic, and now they've fallen through, drowning in insurmountable debts, no savings, and limited lifelines.
The first signs of a suicide wave could be originating in California. ABC7 News reports doctors and nurses at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, are reporting deaths by suicide far exceed COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic.
The hospital's top trauma doctor, Dr. Mike deBoisblanc, told ABC7 that mental health has become a major problem during the shelter-in-place order.
Dr. Mike deBoisblanc speaking with ABC7"Personally I think it's time," said deBoisblanc. "I think, originally, this (the shelter-in-place order) was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients. We have the current resources to do that and our other community health is suffering."
DeBoisblanc said the numbers are unprecedented:
"We've never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time," he said. "I mean we've seen a year's worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks."
Kacey Hansen, a trauma nurse at the hospital for over three decades, said the volume of suicide attempts has dramatically increased during the lockdowns, noting the pandemic has stretched resources, which means there are fewer tools to save as many patients as usual.
"What I have seen recently, I have never seen before," Hansen said. "I have never seen so much intentional injury."
As we've noted in the past, hospital systems do not let doctors and nurses speak out about internal affairs and or what's happening in the community unless cleared by officials. It appears the outreach of hospital staff to the local news outlet is a move to address the mental health public crisis sparked by lockdowns in the Bay Area. The hospital released this statement:
"John Muir Health has been, and continues to be, supportive of the Shelter-in-Place order put in place by Contra Costa County Health Services to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We realize there are a number of opinions on this topic, including within our medical staff, and John Muir Health encourages our physicians and staff to participate constructively in these discussions. We all share a concern for the health of our community whether that is COVID-19, mental health, intentional violence or other issues. We continue to actively work with our Behavioral Health Center, County Health and community organizations to increase awareness of mental health issues and provide resources to anyone in need. If you are in a crisis and need help immediately, please call 211 or 800-833-2900 or text 'HOPE' to 20121 now. We are all in this together, and ask the community to please reach out to anyone who you think might be in need during this challenging time. Thank you."
In addition to the +90,000 and counting virus-related deaths, Well Being Trust recently outlined how 75,000 people could die of drug or alcohol misuse and or suicide during the pandemic.
President Trump warned in March that nationwide lockdowns must be reversed to prevent "tremendous death" from the economic depression, referring to the likely increase of suicides.
"People get tremendous anxiety and depression and you have suicide over things like this, when you have a terrible economy, you have death," President Trump said.
President Trump on economy: "We can't turn that off and think it's going to be wonderful. There'll be tremendous repercussions. There will be tremendous death...probably more death from that than anything that we're talking about with respect to the virus." pic.twitter.com/82WEb4HJ8z
'-- CSPAN (@cspan) March 23, 2020And with any recession and or depression, high unemployment results in financial distress for people and eventually triggers mental health problems.
"The 2008 Great Recession resulted in more than 10,000 suicides. The Great Depression resulted in tens of thousands of people taking their own lives. If the economy continues to be shuttered through April and or even May, then the depression will deepen, and suicides will increase. That is just the nature of the beast," we noted in early April.
As a second virus wave lingers, threats of additional lockdowns in the coming months, and no signs the economy with experience a V-shaped recovery this year -- it appears the suicide wave has already begun.
Pharmaceutical Industry is the Leading Cause of Death in U.S., and the Largest Criminal Group in the World |
Comments by Brian Shilhavy Editor, Health Impact News
Those of us who have been covering the dark side of the medical industry for the past decade or so are fully aware that the medical system kills more people in the U.S. than any disease, using the medical system's own data.
This is seldom, if ever, published in the corporate media which is largely funded by the pharmaceutical industry today.
The other fact that is well-known to most of us in the alternative media is that the pharmaceutical industry leads the U.S. in criminal fraud.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) website, the pharmaceutical industry is the largest offender of criminal fraud based on settlements and judgments for the False Claims Act.
From 2009 through 2016, Health Care Fraud resulted in $19.3 billion for fraud, with ''billions more during the same period for state Medicaid programs and in criminal fines and forfeitures.'' (Source.)
Housing and Financial Fraud was a distant second during the same time period, at $7 billion.
In 2017, according to the DOJ:
Of the $3.7 billion in settlements and judgments, $2.4 billion involved the health care industry, including drug companies, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories, and physicians. This is the eighth consecutive year that the department's civil health care fraud settlements and judgments have exceeded $2 billion.
In 2018, settlements and judgments for fraud against the health care industry again exceeded $2 billion according to the DOJ:
Of the $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments recovered by the Department of Justice this past fiscal year, $2.5 billion involved the health care industry, including drug and medical device manufacturers, managed care providers, hospitals, pharmacies, hospice organizations, laboratories, and physicians.
This is the ninth consecutive year that the Department's civil health care fraud settlements and judgments have exceeded $2 billion. The recoveries included in the $2.5 billion reflect only federal losses but, in many of these cases, the Department was instrumental in recovering additional millions of dollars for state Medicaid programs.
Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal until 2004, wrote an opinion piece in 2013 about a book published by Peter G¸tzsche, the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, entitled ''Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare.''
The characteristics of organised crime, racketeering, is defined in US law as the act of engaging repeatedly in certain types of offence, including extortion, fraud, federal drug offences, bribery, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, obstruction of law enforcement, tampering with witnesses, and political corruption. Peter produces evidence, most of it detailed, to support his case that pharmaceutical companies are guilty of most of these offences. (Source.)
The ''largest fraud settlement in U.S. history'' was against a pharmaceutical company:
On July 2, 2012 the British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline plead guilty to three counts of criminal misdemeanor and other civil liabilities relating to the prescription drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia, and agreed to pay a total of $3 billion in fines''$1 billion to settle criminal charges, and $2 billion to cover civil liabilities.
The payment is the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history, and the largest fine ever paid by a drug company. (Source.)
And these are the people we are being asked to trust to provide a COVID-19 cure with a new vaccine, when there is not convincing evidence that we even have an accurate test that can identify this ''new'' coronavirus.
Investigative reporter Jon Rappoport reminds us just how deadly medicine actually is.
Who pushes the Idea of an epidemic; what are their crimes?by Jon Rappoport NoMoreFakeNews.com
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''It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.'' ''Marcia Angell, MD (''Drug Companies and Doctors: A story of Corruption.'' NY Review of Books, Jan. 15, 2009.)
With my coverage of the so-called pandemic, we are seeing many new readers showing up and paying attention. So I want to expose a few facts about the modern medical system'--facts I've presented many times over the past 10 years.
I do this because of a little thing called REPUTATION. If the track record of major medical officials were really understood, people would ignore their current pronouncements with barely a glance. Pronouncements like: THE VIRUS IS SPREADING; THIS IS A MAJOR EPIDEMIC; WE'RE TESTING A NEW PROTECTIVE VACCINE AND EVERYONE MUST TAKE IT.
I also expose facts because MEDICALLY CAUSED DEATH is routinely swept under the carpet by the mainstream press. Actually, as a result of media silence, the subject of medical harm is where the subject of grossly poisoned food was in the 19th and early 20th centuries. At that time, giant food processors had created their own Wild West, where they could sell lethal poison (eat, fall down dead) hidden in products. The press helped expose these crimes and transfix the public, which led to partial reforms. Now, in the medical arena, the press is a partner in capital crimes.
Major medical officials have been sitting on a time bomb. The range of medical maiming and killing is astonishing.
Imagine a Congressional hearing held before media cameras, with reporters all over the world ready with shocking facts about one of the leading causes of death'--
SENATOR: Sir, I have the mainstream medical death numbers in front of me. How can you keep this secret from the public?
FDA COMMISSIONER: It's not a secret, sir. Many experts know about it.
SENATOR: I'm looking through the trillion-dollar federal budget. I'm looking for the money allocated to fix this horrible situation. Where are those funds?
FDA COMMISSIONER: Nowhere. Don't blame us.
SENATOR: Why not?
FDA COMMISSIONER: Because we can never be dismantled. We're eternal. God created the FDA. God created the CDC.
I know major media won't investigate medically-caused death numbers, because I've published reports for years, and I've contacted news people with the facts; and nothing happens.
So we begin with a few citations.
July 26, 2000, Journal of the American Medical Association; author, Dr. Barbara Starfield, revered public health expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; ''Is US health really the best in the world?''
Starfield reported that the US medical system kills 225,000 Americans a year. 106,000 as a result of FDA-approved medical drugs, and 119,000 as a result of mistreatment and errors in hospitals. Extrapolate the numbers to a decade: that's 2.25 million deaths. You might want to read that last number again.
I interviewed Starfield in 2009. I asked her whether she was aware of any overall effort by the US government to eliminate this holocaust, and whether she had ever been contacted by any government agency to consult on such an effort. She answered a resounding NO to both questions. She also said her estimate of medically caused deaths in America was on the conservative side.
Here is another citation: BMJ June 7, 2012 (BMJ 2012:344:e3989). Author, Jeanne Lenzer. Lenzer refers to a report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices: ''It [the Institute] calculated that in 2011 prescription drugs were associated with two to four million people in the US experiencing 'serious, disabling, or fatal injuries, including 128,000 deaths.'''
The report called this ''one of the most significant perils to humans resulting from human activity.''
The report was compiled by outside researchers who went into the FDA's own database of ''serious adverse [medical-drug] events.''
Therefore, to say the FDA isn't aware of this finding would be absurd. The FDA knows. The FDA knows and it isn't saying anything about it, because the FDA certifies, as safe and effective, all the medical drugs that are routinely maiming and killing Americans. Every public health agency knows the truth.
Here is another citation: The article is, ''The Epidemic of Sickness and Death from Prescription Drugs.'' The author is Donald Light, who teaches at Rowan University, and was the 2013 recipient of ASA's [American Sociological Association's] Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology. Light is a founding fellow of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2013, he was a fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. He is a Lokey Visiting Professor at Stanford University.
Donald Light: ''Epidemiologically, appropriately prescribed, prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death, tied with stroke at about 2,460 deaths each week in the United States. About 330,000 patients die each year from prescription drugs in the United States and Europe. They [the drugs] cause an epidemic of about 20 times more hospitalizations [6.6 million annually], as well as falls, road accidents, and [annually] about 80 million medically minor problems such as pains, discomforts, and dysfunctions that hobble productivity or the ability to care for others. Deaths and adverse effects from overmedication, errors, and self-medication would increase these figures.'' (ASA publication, ''Footnotes,'' November 2014)
'--Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on April 15, 1998: ''Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients.'' It, too, is mind-boggling.
The authors, led by Jason Lazarou, culled 39 previous studies on patients in hospitals. These patients, who received drugs in hospitals, or were admitted to hospitals because they were suffering from the drugs doctors had given them, met the following fate:
Every year, in the US, between 76,000 and 137,000 hospitalized patients die as a direct result of the drugs.
Beyond that, every year 2.2 million hospitalized patients experience serious adverse reactions to the drugs.
The authors write: '''...Our study on ADRs [Adverse Drug Reactions], which excludes medication errors, had a different objective: to show that there are a large number of ADRs even when the drugs are properly prescribed and administered.''
So this study had nothing to do with doctor errors, nurse errors, or improper combining of drugs. And it only counted people killed who were admitted to hospitals. It didn't begin to tally all the people taking pharmaceuticals who died as consequence of the drugs, without being admitted to hospitals. (Note: none of the studies and reviews I'm citing in this article include damage and death as a result of vaccines.)
The statistics I'm quoting reveal a human problem on the level of a tsunami sweeping across the whole of America and Europe.
Why won't major media outlets report these facts and pound on their significance?
The obvious reason: their big-spending pharmaceutical advertisers would drop them like hot potatoes.
But there are other reasons.
Every medical bureaucrat or medical shill or medical expert who jumps aboard the media train, to assure the public that drugs and vaccines are remarkably safe, is sitting on the time bomb I have described above.
If this bomb were widely recognized, who would continue to believe these professional pundits? Who would accept anything they say? How could they possibly sustain their credibility?
''Well, the system I represent kills 2.25 million people per decade, and maims between 20 and 40 million more people per decade, but I want to assure you this vaccine presents no problems at all. It's incredibly safe.''
Every single pronouncement, on any subject, issued via the medical cartel's Ministry of Truth (major media), would fall on disbelieving ears, and only increase general outrage.
Mainstream reporters and editors and publishers are well aware that telling the truth would undermine a basic institution of society.
The media are there to give credibility to society and its structures. That's why they're called ''major'' instead of ''minor.''
When hard rains fall, the media are there with an umbrella to hold over organized society's head. To walk away in the middle of a downpour would leave the status quo unprotected.
''Defending the Crown'' is another way to put it. The King may make mistakes, he may commit heinous offenses, but he is the King, and therefore his position must remain secure.
Young journalists learn this point quickly. If in their zeal, they cross the threshold and attempt to expose a central myth, fairy tale, legend, they're put back in their place. They absorb the message. Journalism has limits. Certain truths are silent truths.
Over the years, I've talked to reporters who are solidly addicted to obfuscations. Like any addict, they have an army of excuses to rationalize their behavior.
The medical experts are worse. Their pretense of idealism knows no limits, and is matched only by their fatuous claim to bullet-proof knowledge.
When you peel the veneer away, they are enablers, persons of interest, co-conspirators.
There is nothing quite like a high-minded, socially-positioned, card-carrying member of the King's circle of protectors. The arrogance is titanic. Because what is being hidden is so explosive.
It is the duty of the Crown to make his subjects feel safe and protected and even loved.
No wonder he needs such a large army of trained helpers in and around the press.
He has them.
But their monopoly is breaking down.
We're in a new breakout level of truth. It's called independent media.
So'...on the subject of epidemics, when public health officials, and their government enablers, and the compliant press, and doctors tell us that a new virus is sweeping the world, a vaccine will stop it, and we must take that vaccine'...why should anyone fall in line and accept their words?
Professional liars, professional criminals may pretend they are spouting science, but they are merely relying on the ignorance of the public.
It may interest you to know that the US system of reporting severe adverse effects of vaccines is broken. There are no reliable numbers.
Barbara Loe Fisher, of the private National Vaccine Information Center, has put together a reasonable estimate:
''But how many children have [adverse] vaccine reactions every year? Is it really only one in 110,000 or one in a million who are left permanently disabled after vaccination? Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler observed in 1993 that less than 1 percent of doctors report adverse events following prescription drug use. [See DA Kessler, 'Introducing MEDWatch,' JAMA, June 2, 1993: 2765-2768]''
''There have been estimates that perhaps less than 5 or 10 percent of doctors report hospitalizations, injuries, deaths, or other serious health problems following vaccination. The 1986 Vaccine Injury Act contained no legal sanctions for not reporting; doctors can refuse to report and suffer no consequences.''
''Even so, each year about 12,000 reports are made to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System [VAERS]; parents as well as doctors can make those reports. [See RT Chen, B. Hibbs, 'Vaccine safety,' Pediatric Annals, July 1998: 445-458]''
''However, if that number represents only 10 percent of what is actually occurring, then the actual number may be 120,000 vaccine-adverse events [per year]. If doctors report vaccine reactions as infrequently as Dr. Kessler said they report prescription-drug reactions, and the number 12,000 is only 1 percent of the actual total, then the real number may be 1.2 million vaccine-adverse events annually.''
Medical illiteracy in the population'--the public health experts and the pharmaceutical titans feast on it. It allows them to get away with mass murder every day.
For those who think murder is too strong a word, I'll close with this: it's simple'--when you're in a profession that keeps killing and maiming people at a tragic and astonishing rate, and you know it and do nothing about it, you're guilty. Period. No amount of evasion or excuse changes the fact.
THESE are the people telling you to believe their story about a pandemic. THESE are the people claiming the village has to be blasted in order to save it.
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.
At an April 23 press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded indignant when a reporter asked if anyone had objected to New York's policy of forcing nursing homes to admit recently discharged COVID-19 patients.
''They don't have the right to object,'' Cuomo answered before the reporter finished his question. ''That is the rule, and that is the regulation, and they have to comply with it.''
New York isn't the only state to adopt a policy ordering long-term care facilities to admit COVID-19-infected patients discharged from hospitals. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California'--three states also hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus'--passed similar policies to free up hospital beds to make room for sicker patients.
The practice is coming under increased scrutiny by health experts and family members of deceased patients who say the orders needlessly put the most susceptible populations at risk.
''The whole thing has just been handled awfully ... by everybody in regard to nursing homes,'' said Kathleen Cole, a nurse who recently lost her 89-year-old mother who lived at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck, New York. ''It's like a slaughterhouse at these places.''
Cole, who shared her story with the Bucks County Courier Times, told the paper her mother, Dolores McGoldrick, became infected with COVID-19 on April 2 after Ferncliff re-admitted a resident who had been discharged in late March. Two weeks later her mother, a former school teacher, was dead.
McGoldrick is one of nearly five thousand COVID-19 victims who died in New York nursing homes, according to new figures from The New York Times. New York's high nursing home death toll is not an outlier. California recently released data showing that some 40 percent of California's COVID-19 fatalities have come from eldercare homes. In Pennsylvania, nursing homes account for 65 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Both states, like New York, had orders in place that required nursing homes to admit recently released COVID-19 patients.
These results are not surprising to some. Health experts and trade associations had warned early on that forcing nursing homes to take on newly discharged COVID-19 patients was a recipe for disaster, noting that such facilities didn't have the ability to properly quarantine the infected.
''This approach will introduce the highly contagious virus into more nursing homes. There will be more hospitalizations for nursing home residents who need ventilator care and ultimately, a higher number of deaths. Issuing such an order is a mistake and there is a better solution,'' American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson announced in March after New York's order went into effect.
David Grabowski, a professor of health policy at Harvard Medical School, sounded incredulous when asked about the policy.
''Nursing homes are working so hard to keep the virus out, and now we're going to be introducing new COVID-positive patients?'' Grabowski told NBC.
Richard Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition in New York, echoed that sentiment.
''To have a mandate that nursing homes accept COVID-19 patients has put many people in grave danger,'' Mollot told the Bucks County Courier Times.
The question, of course, is why states began ordering nursing homes to take in COVID-19 infected residents. The one thing we know of COVID-19, and have known from the beginning, is that the virus is particularly deadly for the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
State leaders will have to answer that question themselves. But one answer might be that central planning is inherently irrational.
The Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek observed that the problem with trying to centrally plan economies and other complex social orders is that central planners cannot possibly access, comprehend, and weigh the vast amount of information relevant to their sweeping decisions.
The only way to cope with this ''knowledge problem'' is by bringing to bear the special knowledge that each individual has about the matters he or she is intimately familiar with. And that can only happen through decentralized processes, like the market price system.
This lesson has been lost on many, but particularly so on politicians and bureaucrats who imagine they possess the knowledge to design a more perfect social order. As Hayek famously explained in The Fatal Conceit:
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. To the naive mind that can conceive of order only as the product of deliberate arrangement, it may seem absurd that in complex conditions order, and adaptation to the unknown, can be achieved more effectively by decentralizing decisions and that a division of authority will actually extend the possibility of overall order. Yet that decentralization actually leads to more information being taken into account.
This is why individuals are more competent decision-makers about their own affairs than governments. For this reason, a society that removes decision-making from individuals and places it in the hands of central planners invites disorder and endangerment, the economist Thomas Sowell has observed.
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong," wrote Sowell.
Media were quick to describe the nursing home tragedy as a ''market failure,'' pointing out that 70 percent of nursing homes in the US are for-profit. This is hardly a market failure, however. Long-term care facilities saw the danger and warned public officials what would happen.
What were they told?
''That is the rule, and that is the regulation,'' Cuomo told them, ''and they have to comply with it.''
Gov. Cuomo and other officials responsible for these policies are guilty of Hayek's fatal conceit. In their hubris, they presumed to know enough to centrally plan a complex society's response to a complex pandemic, and to know more than individuals with local knowledge, industry expertise, and skin in the game, like the elder care experts and businesspeople who tried to warn policymakers about the disastrous effects the policy would have.
This presumption may stem from another kind of conceit: the dictatorial arrogance on display when Cuomo indignantly insisted that unquestioning compliance was the only appropriate response to his mandate.
Tragically, that conceit was quite literally fatal for many of the most vulnerable members of society.
GoalIncrease immunization rates and reduce preventable infectious diseases.
OverviewThe increase in life expectancy during the 20th century is largely due to improvements in child survival; this increase is associated with reductions in infectious disease mortality, due largely to immunization.1 However, infectious diseases remain a major cause of illness, disability, and death. Immunization recommendations in the United States currently target 17 vaccine-preventable diseases across the lifespan.
Healthy People 2020 goals for immunization and infectious diseases are rooted in evidence-based clinical and community activities and services for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Objectives new to Healthy People 2020 focus on technological advancements and ensuring that States, local public health departments, and nongovernmental organizations are strong partners in the Nation's attempt to control the spread of infectious diseases. Objectives for 2020 reflect a more mobile society and the fact that diseases do not stop at geopolitical borders. Awareness of disease and completing prevention and treatment courses remain essential components for reducing infectious disease transmission.
Why Are Immunization and Infectious Diseases Important?People in the United States continue to get diseases that are vaccine preventable. Viral hepatitis, influenza, and tuberculosis (TB) remain among the leading causes of illness and death in the United States and account for substantial spending on the related consequences of infection.
The infectious disease public health infrastructure, which carries out disease surveillance at the Federal, State, and local levels, is an essential tool in the fight against newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Other important defenses against infectious diseases include:
Proper use of vaccinesAntibioticsScreening and testing guidelinesScientific improvements in the diagnosis of infectious disease-related health concernsBack to Top
Understanding Immunization and Infectious DiseasesImmunizationVaccines are among the most cost-effective clinical preventive services and are a core component of any preventive services package. Childhood immunization programs provide a very high return on investment. For example, for each birth cohort vaccinated with the routine immunization schedule (this includes DTap, Td, Hib, Polio, MMR, Hep B, and varicella vaccines), society:
Saves 33,000 lives.Prevents 14 million cases of disease.Reduces direct health care costs by $9.9 billion.Saves $33.4 billion in indirect costs.Despite progress, approximately 42,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.* Communities with pockets of unvaccinated and undervaccinated populations are at increased risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2008, imported measles resulted in 140 reported cases'--nearly a 3-fold increase over the previous year. The emergence of new or replacement strains of vaccine-preventable disease can result in a significant increase in serious illnesses and death.
SurveillanceThe Nation's public health goals focus on reducing illness, hospitalization, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases and other infectious diseases; expanding surveillance is crucial to those ends. Further efforts to improve disease surveillance will allow for earlier detection of the emergence and spread of diseases. Increased surveillance will save lives by allowing the maximum time possible for public health responses, including vaccine production and development of evidence-based recommendations on disease prevention and control. Surveillance enables rapid information sharing and facilitates the timely identification of people in need of immediate treatment. Increasing laboratory capacity is essential for these efforts.
Respiratory DiseasesAcute respiratory infections, including pneumonia and influenza, are the 8th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 56,000 deaths annually. Pneumonia mortality in children fell by 97 percent in the last century, but respiratory infectious diseases continue to be leading causes of pediatric hospitalization and outpatient visits in the United States. On average, influenza leads to more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year. The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic caused an estimated 270,000 hospitalizations and 12,270 deaths (1,270 of which were of people younger than age 18) between April 2009 and March 2010.'
Hepatitis and TuberculosisViral hepatitis and TB can be prevented, yet health care systems often do not make the best use of their available resources to support prevention efforts. Because the U.S. health care system focuses on treatment of illnesses, rather than health promotion, patients do not always receive information about prevention and healthy lifestyles. This includes advancing effective and evidence-based viral hepatitis and TB prevention priorities and interventions.
Emerging Issues in Immunization and Infectious DiseasesIn the coming decade, the United States will continue to face new and emerging issues in the area of immunization and infectious diseases. The public health infrastructure must be capable of responding to emerging threats. State-of-the-art technology and highly skilled professionals need to be in place to provide rapid response to the threat of epidemics. A coordinated strategy is necessary to understand, detect, control, and prevent infectious diseases.2 Below are some specific emerging issues.
Providing culturally appropriate preventive health care is an immediate responsibility that will grow over the decade. As the demographics of the population continue to shift, public health and health care systems will need to expand their capacity to protect the growing needs of a diverse and aging population.New infectious agents and diseases continue to be detected. Infectious diseases must be looked at in a global context due to increasing:International travel and tradeMigrationImportation of foods and agricultural practicesThreats of bioterrorismInappropriate use of antibiotics and environmental changes multiply the potential for worldwide epidemics of all types of infectious diseases.2Infectious diseases are a critical public health, humanitarian, and security concern; coordinated efforts will protect people across the Nation and around the world.
References1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Achievements in public health, 1900''1999: Control of infectious diseases. MMWR. 1999 Jul 30;48(29):621-9.
2North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Division of Public Health (NDPH). Healthy Carolinians. [Internet]. Raleigh: NDPH; updated 2010 May 3. Available from: http://publichealth.nc.gov/hnc2020/docs/HNC2020-FINAL-March-revised.pdf
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Footnotes*This includes influenza, but does not include deaths due to 2009 H1N1.
' At the time of this printing, the pandemic was not yet over; hospitalizations and deaths were still occurring.
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Coronavirus: COVID-19 pandemic disrupting vaccination for at least 80 million babies, warns WHO | Euronews
In this Saturday, July 13, 2019 file photo, a child is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Congo. -
AP Photo/Jerome DelayAt least 80 million babies are at risk of diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio due to disrupted vaccinations, three international organisations have warned.
Routine vaccination efforts have been "substantially disrupted" in 68 countries due to the coronavirus pandemic, said officials from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on Friday.
''Immunisation is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health,'' said WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.
The disruptions are due in part to parents' fear about catching coronavirus, healthcare worker's access to protective equipment and travel delays for the vaccinations.
Vaccination campaigns have been suspended in several countries due to the coronavirus pandemic including polio campaigns in 38 countries and measles campaigns in 27 countries.
At least 24 million people in many lower-income countries are at risk of missing out on vaccines against polio, measles, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, rotavirus, HPV, meningitis A and rubella, the organisations said.
"We fear that COVID-19 is a health crisis that is quickly turning into a child rights' crisis," UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said at a WHO press conference.
"We cannot let our fight against one disease come at the expense of long term progress in the fight against other diseases. We cannot exchange one deadly outbreak for another," she added.
She implored countries to track unvaccinated children and said that they needed to address gaps in vaccine deliveries.
Lockdowns and border closures have also contributed to problems in supply chains and transport for vaccination supplies.
There is a decline in commercial flights, Fore said, and it is difficult to get charters, which creates gaps in vaccine deliveries as well.
WHO's director for immunisation, Dr Kate O'Brien, added that pathogens "don't recognise borders".
"We're all at risk when any country is at risk and as we say especially for measles which is one of the most transmissible pathogens is that measles anywhere is measles everywhere," Dr O'Brien said.
Seth Berkley, the head of Gavi, an international vaccine alliance organisation, called the scale of the pandemic's impact on vaccination "alarming".
"It's something we haven't seen in a lifetime," Berkley added.
The World Health Organization said they would put out guidance on how to conduct vaccination campaigns with protection measures in place due to COVID-19.
RDIF, ChemRar Name New Drug Undergoing Trials to Treat COVID-19 Avifavir - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A new drug that has shown its effectiveness at combating COVID-19, which is being produced as a joint venture between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the ChemRar Group, will be called Avifavir, according to a statement published by the RDIF on Friday.
According to the organization, Avifavir is currently undergoing clinical trials and early results are promising. The RDIF stated that it is the first Russian antiviral drug that has shown its effectiveness in clinical trials.
"Avifavir shows better results compared to other drugs that are currently being tested in Russia and abroad. RDIF and ChemRar are cooperating with both leading medical institutions and state regulatory bodies. We look forward to receiving approval for the production of Avifavir in the near future," RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in the statement.On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Health gave the green light to begin trials of Avifavir on 330 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, the RDIF stated.
In the first stage of trials, no side-effects were observed and the efficacy rate was over 80 percent.
The treatment, which was previously called favipiravir, disrupts the reproduction mechanisms of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The Remdesivir Study Is Finally Out: Drug Only Helped Those On Oxygen, Finds Mortality Too High For Standalone Treatment | Zero Hedge
Remember when the market soared on several days in April on the Facui-touted Remdesivir study which, according to StatNews and various other unofficial sources of rumors, was a smashing success only for the optimism to fizzle as many questions emerged, and as the Gilead drug quietly faded from the public's consciousness and was replaced by various coronavirus vaccine candidates such as those made by the greatly hyped Moderna (whose insiders just can't stop selling company stock).
Meanwhile, those who were waiting for the official version of Remdesivir's effectiveness had to do so until 6pm on a Friday before a long holiday, and for good reason...
'-- Adam Feuerstein (@adamfeuerstein) May 22, 2020... According to a pivotal study published in the New England Journal of Medicine late on Friday, Remdesivir, which was authorized to treat Covid-19 in a group of 1063 adults and children (split into two groups, one receiving placebo instead of remdesivir) who need i) supplemental oxygen, ii) a ventilator or iii) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), only significantly helped those on supplemental oxygen.
Meanwhile, and explaining the 6pm release on a Friday, the study also found no marked benefit from remdesivir for those who were healthier and didn't need oxygen or those who were sicker, requiring a ventilator or a heart-lung bypass machine.
The NEJM, almost apologetically, stated that "the lack of benefit seen in the other groups might have stemmed from a smaller number of patients in each group."
Still, as a result of the partial benefit for patients in the supplemental oxygen group, the study from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was evaluated early and led to the authorization of remdesivir before the full trial was completed.
Our findings highlight the need to identify Covid-19 cases and start antiviral treatment before the pulmonary disease progresses to require mechanical ventilation.
Some more details on the study, which was a "rank test of the time to recovery with remdesivir as compared with placebo, with stratification by disease severity":
The primary outcome measure was the time to recovery, defined as the first day, during the 28 days after enrollment, on which a patient satisfied categories 1, 2, or 3 on the eight-category ordinal scale. The categories are as follows:
not hospitalized, no limitations of activities;not hospitalized, limitation of activities, home oxygen requirement, or both;hospitalized, not requiring supplemental oxygen and no longer requiring ongoing medical care (used if hospitalization was extended for infection-control reasons);hospitalized, not requiring supplemental oxygen but requiring ongoing medical care (Covid-19''related or other medical conditions);5, hospitalized, requiring any supplemental oxygen; hospitalized, requiring noninvasive ventilation or use of high-flow oxygen devices;hospitalized, receiving invasive mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO); anddeath.The results are summarized below, highlighting the only group that showed a statistically significant improvement in outcomes as a result of taking the drug vs placebo.
A visual representation of the outcomes is below; it shows that whereas there was a modest benefit only to patients who were receiving oxygen, the results were statistically insignificant vs placebo for patients not receiving oxygen, while in a surprising twist patients on high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilator/ECMO did modestly better in the placebo group than those taking remdesivir. Also, the overall results showed a very modest, but not statistically significant improvement in the remdesivir group vs placebo (box A).
Another disappointment: the study found that overall "mortality was numerically lower in the remdesivir group than in the placebo group, but the difference was not significant", in other words the alleged "miracle drug" has largely the same effect as a placebo in terms of overall disease mortality.
The study authors also note that the "findings in our trial should be compared with those observed in a randomized trial from China in which 237 patients were enrolled (158 assigned to remdesivir and 79 to placebo).... That trial failed to complete full enrollment (owing to the end of the outbreak), had lower power than the present trial (owing to the smaller sample size and a 2:1 randomization), and was unable to demonstrate any statistically significant clinical benefits of remdesivir."
Finally, the study found that while mortality was modestly lower for the remdesivir arm, it was not significantly so, at 7.1% at 14 days on drug versus 11.9% on placebo.
In conclusion, while the "preliminary findings support the use of remdesivir for patients who are hospitalized with Covid-19 and require supplemental oxygen therapy" the study goes on to warn that "given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir, it is clear that treatment with an antiviral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient."
The study's recommendation:
Future strategies should evaluate antiviral agents in combination with other therapeutic approaches or combinations of antiviral agents to continue to improve patient outcomes in Covid-19.
So a generally disappointing outcome, one which would lead to a drop in the market. Nonsense: think of all the spin, and why this is in fact great news for stocks: Remdesivir may be a dud as a "silver bullet" to curing covid, leading to statistically significant improvement in only a very limited subset of infected patients and "high mortality" for those taking it, but at least the algos will have a whole lot of other "miracle drugs" to levitate them as optimism that the next remdesivir is just around the corner. In short: rinse, rumor, and repeat... and then save the bad news for 6pm on a Friday.
Oh, and for those asking about the "official" reason why the NE Journal of Medicine waited until just the right time to make sure nobody reads the results, here it is:
I asked NEJM spox to explain the Friday 6 pm release of the remdesivir study. Her response is below. pic.twitter.com/WjNGyUv7sH
'-- Adam Feuerstein (@adamfeuerstein) May 22, 2020The full study is available here.
WHO Inadvertently Admits That Vaccines Won't Work Against Coronavirus |
In trying to keep the pandemic going for as long as possible, it would seem, the World Health Organization (WHO) is insistent that developing natural immunity to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) may not be possible, and that society's only hope is a vaccine.
But if natural immunity is out of the question, then why would vaccine-induced immunity be any better?
With roughly 310,000 confirmed deaths worldwide, the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to dominate news headlines, especially now that the Trump administration is getting the ball rolling on developing and releasing a fast-tracked vaccine.
But nobody seems to be addressing the fact that if our own natural immune systems cannot fight the thing, then there is no way a vaccine will do anything other than needlessly cause adverse effects.
In a recent announcement, the WHO stated that there is no solid proof to suggest that people who test positive for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) and recover develop natural immunity.
They could still get re-infected again, the United Nations (UN) body insists '' even as it continues to ignore the fact that a strain-specific vaccine would theoretically provide even less protection than natural immunity, if this is the case.
''There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,'' the WHO wrote in a statement.
It's About Making You Obedient, Not SafeThe reason why the WHO is making a point of emphasizing the questionable immunity that comes following a Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infection is that the globalist entity does not want people refusing to following ''safety guidelines'' like mask-wearing and physical distancing.
''People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice,'' the WHO laments.
Should a vaccine ever become available, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants it to be distributed for ''free'' to everyone '' meaning taxpayers will collectively foot the bill through their governments.
This is great news for billionaire eugenicist Bill Gates, whose own vaccine development endeavors are almost guaranteed to reap windfall profits if ''free'' Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines eventually become a thing.
The way that Gates, the WHO, and other pandemic extremists plan to keep the public strung along in anticipation of a magical ''unicorn'' vaccine is to continue fear-mongering about the threat of infection.
One of the latest claims is that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) will never go away, which is sure to scare enough people into demanding whatever ''warp speed'' drug, injectable or otherwise, is presented as the cure.
''It is important to put this on the table: This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,'' stated Dr. Mike Ryan, the ''emergencies director'' of the WHO, during a recent virtual press conference.
Ryan then went on to compare the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) to HIV, stating that ''HIV has not gone away, but we have come to terms with the virus,'' adding that he does not believe that ''anyone can predict when this disease will disappear.''
Unbelievably, there are some 100 potential vaccine candidates for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) currently in development.
But this means nothing in terms of the continued spread of the disease, assuming any of these vaccines even work, because there are already vaccines for other health conditions like the measles that have not been eradicated.
The hunt for the world's first coronavirus vaccine is taking place with numerous companies and countries seeking to solve the COVID-19 pandemic. At the forefront,
we find one American company that has been given a clear advantage in the process.On May 15, 2020, Donald Trump announced this: "Today I want to update you on the next stage of this momentous medical initiative. It's called Operation Warp Speed. That means big and it means fast. A massive scientific, industrial, and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project. You really could say that nobody has seen anything like we're doing, whether it's ventilators or testing. Nobody has seen anything like we're doing now, within our country, since the Second World War. Incredible."Its objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again, we'd love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year. We think we're going to have some very good results coming out very quickly. In addition, it will continue accelerating the development of diagnostics and breakthrough therapies....
"To date, Operation Warp Speed has brought together all of the experts across the federal government from places like the NIH, CDC, FDA, and many other agencies. This historic partnership will now bring together the full resources of the Department of Health and Human Services with the Department of Defense. And we know what that means. That means the full power and strength of military '-- the military. And that '-- really, talking about the logistics '-- if we get it, when we get it. That means the logistics, getting it out, so that everybody can take it.
"And today, we're proud to announce the addition of two of the most highly respected and skilled professionals in our country '-- worldwide respected. Operation Warp Speed's chief scientist will be Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist who helped create 14 new vaccines '-- that's a lot of our new vaccines '-- in 10 years, during his time in the private sector. One of the most respected men in the world in the production and, really, on the formulation of vaccines." (my bolds)
Notice "...so that EVERYONE can take it". That sounds pretty non-optional to me.
Until Trump's announcement, Dr. Slaoui was a former member of Moderna, Inc.'s Board of Directors as shown here.
While Moderna may not be a "tip of the tongue" pharmaceutical company, Washington is, in fact, very familiar with the company. Here is an announcement from Moderna dated April 16, 2020.
Thanks to American taxpayers, the company has benefited from a "donation" of $483 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority or BARDA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services as shown here.
Not only has Moderna benefitted from the generosity of American taxpayers, it has benefitted from none other than the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as shown here and here.
As if those connections weren't enough, Dr. Slaoui is also connected to the Gates Foundation through his position on the Board of Directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) as shown here. I bet that you can't guess who funds IAVI? That's right, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as shown here.
Moderna's timeline of the development of its mRNA-1273 vaccine answer to the COVID-19 pandemic includes this, noting the highlighted portion of the announcement:
While you may not have heard of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), its mission is to "stimulate and accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks." CEPI also claims the following: "If a highly contagious and lethal airborne pathogen, with the characteristics of the 1918 Spanish Flu, were to emerge today it is estimated that nearly 33 million people worldwide would die in just 6 months."The costs of emerging infectious diseases are vast '-- in both human and economic terms. Recent economic work suggests that the annual global cost of moderately severe to severe pandemics is roughly $570 billion, or 0.7 percent of global income. The cost of a severe pandemic like the 1918 Spanish flu could total as much as 5 percent of global GDP."
Note the use of the "33 million people worldwide would die in just six months" mantra, not entirely dissimilar to the fear being used during the initial days of the pandemic.
By now, you probably have a pretty good idea of who is funding CEPI but here is the list of founding and current donors. As well, two voting members of CEPI's Scientific Advisory Committee are representatives of the Gates family. Here's one of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's donations to CEPI.
Let's close this rather complicated posting by looking back at Moderna. Thus far, Moderna has tested its mRNA-1273 vaccine on 45 individuals between the ages of 18 and 55 with the company claiming success and announcing the start of Phase 2 testing on more human subjects. It has also announced that it is partnering with Lonza U.S. to produce up to 1 billion doses of its new experimental product mRNA-1273 starting in July 2020.
Unfortunately, by its own admission, Moderna has not successfully created a vaccine for coronaviruses as shown in this quote: "We had previously collaborated with the NIH on a vaccine for MERS-CoV, which is a different type of coronavirus than the current pandemic. While the program was only at the research stage, it provided significant insights as we launched our efforts for mRNA-1273. Before the Phase 1 study for mRNA-1273, we had not previously tested a coronavirus vaccine in humans." Caveat emptor. Moderna is not unique in its inability to create a safe vaccine for coronaviruses; there has never been a vaccine for coronavirus at any time.
The complicated web of one of the world's wealthiest philanthropic armchair virologist, pharmaceutical research and his links to the newly appointed "vaccine czar" Dr. Slaoui should cause us to ponder the rapid "Warp Speed" development of a vaccine dedicated to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. There are just so many connections between the main players in this drama that conflicts of interest are certain to trump solid science. With Moderna having a half billion dollars worth of taxpayer funding and the company's solid connections to the Bill Gates "vaccine funding machine", I suspect that we already have a pretty good idea that the mRNA-1273 vaccine is going to be the vaccine of choice.
Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine Successfully Passes First Human Trials '' Veterans Today | Military Foreign Affairs Policy Journal for Clandestine Services
Summary BackgroundA vaccine to protect against COVID-19 is urgently needed. We aimed to assess the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of a recombinant adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) vectored COVID-19 vaccine expressing the spike glycoprotein of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) strain.
MethodsWe did a dose-escalation, single-centre, open-label, non-randomised, phase 1 trial of an Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine in Wuhan, China. Healthy adults aged between 18 and 60 years were sequentially enrolled and allocated to one of three dose groups (5''10
11, and 1·5''10
11 viral particles) to receive an intramuscular injection of vaccine. The primary outcome was adverse events in the 7 days post-vaccination. Safety was assessed over 28 days post-vaccination. Specific antibodies were measured with ELISA, and the neutralising antibody responses induced by vaccination were detected with SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralisation and pseudovirus neutralisation tests. T-cell responses were assessed by enzyme-linked immunospot and flow-cytometry assays. This study is registered with
FindingsBetween March 16 and March 27, 2020, we screened 195 individuals for eligibility. Of them, 108 participants (51% male, 49% female; mean age 36·3 years) were recruited and received the low dose (n=36), middle dose (n=36), or high dose (n=36) of the vaccine. All enrolled participants were included in the analysis. At least one adverse reaction within the first 7 days after the vaccination was reported in 30 (83%) participants in the low dose group, 30 (83%) participants in the middle dose group, and 27 (75%) participants in the high dose group. The most common injection site adverse reaction was pain, which was reported in 58 (54%) vaccine recipients, and the most commonly reported systematic adverse reactions were fever (50 [46%]), fatigue (47 [44%]), headache (42 [39%]), and muscle pain (18 [17%]. Most adverse reactions that were reported in all dose groups were mild or moderate in severity. No serious adverse event was noted within 28 days post-vaccination. ELISA antibodies and neutralising antibodies increased significantly at day 14, and peaked 28 days post-vaccination. Specific T-cell response peaked at day 14 post-vaccination.
InterpretationThe Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine is tolerable and immunogenic at 28 days post-vaccination. Humoral responses against SARS-CoV-2 peaked at day 28 post-vaccination in healthy adults, and rapid specific T-cell responses were noted from day 14 post-vaccination. Our findings suggest that the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine warrants further investigation.
FundingNational Key R&D Program of China, National Science and Technology Major Project, and CanSino Biologics.
Introduction Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first reported in January, 2020. The virus is highly transmissible between humans and has spread rapidly, causing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, especially older patients and those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions are at greater risk for severe complications, including severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, multiple organ failure, and in some cases, death.
By May 20, 2020, SARS-CoV-2 had infected more than 4·7 million people across 215 countries or territories and killed more than 316'000 worldwide.
In the absence of effective prevention measures, current management to control the epidemic is the enforcement of quarantine, isolation, and physical distancing.
Effective vaccines against COVID-19 are urgently needed to reduce the enormous burden of mortality and morbidity associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
There are more than 100 candidate vaccines in development worldwide,
among them at least eight have started or will soon start clinical trials. These include Moderna's mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and CanSino's non-replicating adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) vectored COVID-19 vaccine, which both entered phase 1 clinical trials on March 16, 2020; Inovio Pharmaceuticals' DNA vaccine for COVID-19, which entered trials on April 3, 2020; three inactive COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Sinovac, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and Beijing Institute of Biological Products entered clinical trials in April, 2020, successively; University of Oxford's non-replicating chimpanzee adenovirus vectored vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and BioNTech's mRNA COVID-19 vaccine also started trials in recent months.
Research in contextEvidence before this study
We searched PubMed on May 8, 2020, for clinical trial reports with the terms ''COVID-19'' or ''SARS-CoV-2'', ''vaccine'', and ''clinical trial'' and no date or language restrictions; no other data from a human clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccine have been reported thus far, to our knowledge. We also searched the
ClinicalTrials.gov registry for unpublished trials of COVID-19 vaccines, up to May 6, 2020. In addition to the adenovirus type-5 (Ad5) vectored COVID-19 vaccine reported here, seven candidate COVID-19 vaccines are in ongoing clinical trials, including Moderna's mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Inovio Pharmaceuticals' DNA vaccine, Sinovac, Wuhan and Beijing Institute of Biological Products' inactive COVID-19 vaccines, University of Oxford's chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine, and BioNTech's mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
Added value of this study
This first-in-human trial showed that the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine was tolerable and immunogenic in healthy adults. One dose of the vaccine at all dose concentrations (5''1010, 1''1011, and 1·5''1011 viral particles) tested induced both specific antibody and T-cell responses in most participants. Rapid specific T-cell responses were noted at day 14 and specific humoral responses against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 peaked at day 28 post-vaccination. Although we found that the high dose vaccine tended to be more immunogenic than the middle dose and low dose vaccines, it was also associated with a higher reactogenicity. Severe fever, fatigue, dyspnoea, muscle pain, and joint pain were reported in some of the recipients in the high dose group.
Implications of all the available evidence
Many vaccine candidates are in rapid development, including recombinant-protein based vaccines, replicating or non-replicating viral vector-based vaccines, DNA vaccines, and mRNA vaccines (which mostly have focused on the spike glycoprotein or receptor binding domain), live attenuated vaccines, and inactivated virus vaccines. All of these vaccine platforms have advantages and disadvantages, and it is too soon to predict which will be more successful. Our study suggests that there is potential for further investigation of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine for prevention of COVID-19.
Here, we report the preliminary assessment at 28 days post-vaccination of the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of CanSino's non-replicating Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine in healthy adults in China.
Method Study design and participants We did a single-centre, open-label, non-randomised, dose-escalation phase 1 trial of an Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine candidate in a rehabilitation centre in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Eligible participants were healthy adults aged between 18 and 60 years, who did not have SARS-CoV-2 infection, confirmed by negative results of serum specific IgM and IgG antibodies with a commercial SARS-CoV-2 rapid test kit (Jinwofu, Beijing, China), negative nucleic acid for SARS-CoV-2 in pharyngeal swabs or sputum and anal swabs detected with a nucleic acid diagnostic kit (PCR-fluorescence probing, Sansure Biotech, Changsha, China), and a clear chest CT image with no evidence of lesions in the lungs at the time of screening. Exclusion criteria were a history of seizures or mental illness; allergy to any ingredient included in the vaccine; acute febrile disease on the day of enrolment; receipt of any blood products in the past 4 months; receipt of any research medicines or vaccine in the past month; and being unable to comply with the study schedule. Further details are outlined in the protocol.
Participants were sequentially enrolled to receive a single intramuscular injection in a dose-escalating manner: the first group of participants were allocated to receive the low dose, followed up for a minimum of 3 days before proceeding to recruit further participants to receive the middle dose, and then after safety observation for 3 days, the last group of participants were recruited and allocated to receive the high dose. The administration of higher dose injections and new enrolment were paused if any criteria for pausing dose escalation were met.
The protocol and informed consent were approved by the institutional review board of the Jiangsu Provincial Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Written informed consent from all participants was obtained before screening. This study was undertaken by Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and Good Clinical Practice.
Procedures The Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine was developed by Beijing Institute of Biotechnology (Beijing, China) and CanSino Biologics (Tianjin, China). The vaccine is a replication defective Ad5 vectored vaccine expressing the spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2. We cloned an optimised full-length spike gene based on Wuhan-Hu-1 (GenBank accession number YP_009724390) with the tissue plasminogen activator signal peptide gene into an E1 and E3 deleted Ad5 vector, and constructed the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine using the Admax system from Microbix Biosystem (Toronto, ON, Canada). The Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine was manufactured as a liquid formulation containing 5''1010 viral particles per 0·5 mL in a vial.
A single shot was allocated intramuscularly in the arm of the participants in the low dose group, with one vial of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine (5''1010 viral particles per 0·5 mL). The participants in the middle dose group received one shot intramuscularly in the arm with two vials of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine (1''1011 viral particles per mL). Participants in the high dose group received a double-shot regimen with one vial of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine in one arm and two vials of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine in the other arm (1·5''1011 viral particles per 1·5 mL).
Adverse events were self-reported by the participants, but verified by investigators daily during the first 14 days after vaccination. Subsequently, adverse events were recorded by the participants on diary cards in the following weeks. Laboratory safety tests including white blood cell count, lymphocyte count, neutrophils, platelets, haemoglobin, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, total bilirubin, fasting blood glucose, and creatinine were measured on day 7 to assess any toxic effects post-vaccination. We graded adverse events and abnormal changes in laboratory tests according to the scale issued by the China State Food and Drug Administration (version 2019).
Blood samples were taken from participants for serology tests at the scheduled site visits before the vaccination, and on days 14 and 28 after the vaccination. We assessed binding antibody responses against the receptor binding domain (RBD) and spike glycoprotein with ELISA kits manufactured by Beijing Wantai BioPharm (Beijing, China). A dilution of 1:40 was the positivity cutoff value for ELISA. We also measured the neutralising antibody responses induced by vaccination using both live SARS-CoV-2 virus neutralisation (virus strain SARS-CoV-2/human/CHN/Wuhan_IME-BJ01/2020, GenBank number MT291831.1) and pseudovirus neutralisation tests (a vesicular stomatitis virus pseudovirus system expressing the spike glycoprotein).
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated from whole blood before the vaccination and at days 14 and 28 post-vaccination. Specific T-cell responses were quantified with an interferon (IFN) Î" enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay using fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with overlapping spike glycoprotein peptide pools for about 12''24 h before detection, and expressed as the number of spot-forming cells per 100'000 cells. All measurements were subtracted from the unstimulated control values, and minus values were corrected to zero. The results were considered positive if there was at least a two-times increase in the number of IFNÎ" secreting T cells post-vaccination. We also assessed the CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses to vaccination according to the secretion of IFNÎ", interleukin-2 (IL-2), and tumour necrosis factor Î± (TNFÎ±), which were measured by intracellular cytokine staining assays in peripheral blood mononuclear cells after the stimulation with overlapping spike glycoprotein peptide pools for about 6 h and detected by flow cytometry. Similar methods to measure T-cell responses by intracellular cytokine staining assays have been reported previously.
The pre-vaccination and post-vaccination anti-Ad5 neutralising antibody titres were detected with a serum neutralisation assay.
Outcomes We analysed all outcomes in the intention-to-treat cohort. The primary endpoint for safety was the occurrence of adverse reactions within 7 days after the vaccination. Any abnormal changes in laboratory measures at 7 days post-vaccination, and adverse events within 28 days across the treatment groups were also analysed as secondary safety endpoints. The specific ELISA antibody titres to RBD and the spike glycoprotein, and the neutralising antibody amounts against live SARS-CoV-2 and a pseudovirus were measured as humoral immunogenicity endpoints. We defined a positive antibody response (seroconversion) as at least a four-fold increase in post-vaccination titre from baseline. ELISpot IFNÎ" and positive T-cell responses measured by intracellular cytokine staining assays were compared across the groups as endpoints for cell-mediated responses. Stratified analyses of the immune responses were done based on the pre-existing Ad5 neutralising antibody titres among the participants as low or negative ('¤1:200) or high (>1:200).
Statistical analysis The sample size was not determined on the basis of statistical power calculations; however, a minimum sample size of 20''30 participants for a pilot vaccine trial has been recommended by the National Medical Products Administration, China. We assessed the number and proportion of participants with adverse reactions post-vaccination and compared safety profiles across the dose groups. The antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were presented as geometric mean titres with 95% CIs and the cellular responses were shown as a proportion of positive responders. We used the Ï2 test or Fisher's exact test to analyse categorical data, ANOVA to analyse the log transformed antibody titres, and Wilcoxon rank-sum test for data that were not normally distributed. When the overall difference across the three groups was significant, pairwise comparisons were made and the differences between groups were estimated with 95% CIs. Multivariable analysis was used to establish the possible effects on the immunogenicity and safety profile of the vaccine candidates. Hypothesis testing was two-sided with an Î± value of 0·05. Statistical analyses were done by a statistician using SAS (version 9.4) or GraphPad Prism 8·0·1. SPICE (version 6.0) was used for the analysis of data from multicolour flow cytometry experiments.
An independent data and safety monitoring committee, with one independent statistician, one clinician, and one epidemiologist, was established before the start of the trial. Safety data for the first 3 days post-vaccination were assessed and reviewed by the committee to ensure that there was sufficient holding time between dose escalation. This study is registered with
Role of the funding source The sponsors of the study participated in study design, but had no role in data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report. All authors had full access to all the data in the study and had final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.
Results Between March 16 and March 27, 2020, we screened 195 individuals for eligibility. Of them, 108 were sequentially enrolled and assigned to receive the low dose (n=36 [33%]), middle dose (n=36 [33%]), or high dose (n=36 [33%]) of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine (
appendix p 2). All participants completed the vaccination and the scheduled visits within 28 days. Baseline characteristics of the participants were similar across the treatment groups (
87 (81%) of 108 participants reported at least one adverse reaction within the first 7 days after the vaccination: 30 (83%) in the low dose group, 30 (83%) in the middle dose group, and 27 (75%) in the high dose group (
table 2). No significant difference in the overall number of adverse reactions across the treatment groups was observed. The most common injection site adverse reaction was pain, which was reported in 58 (54%) vaccine recipients. Pain was reported in 17 (47%) participants in the low dose group, 20 (56%) participants in the middle dose group, and 21 (58%) participants in the high dose group. The most commonly reported systematic adverse reactions overall were fever (50 [46%]), fatigue (47 [44%]), headache (42 [39%]), and muscle pain (18 [17%]). Fever was reported in 15 (42%) participants in the low dose group, 15 (42%) participants in the middle dose group, and 20 (56%) participants in the high dose group. Headache was reported in 14 (39%) participants in the low dose group, 11 (31%) participants in the middle dose group, and 17 (47%) participants in the high dose group. Muscle pain was reported in seven (19%) participants in the low dose group, three (8%) participants in the middle dose group, and eight (22%) participants in the high dose group. Most adverse reactions were mild or moderate in severity. Nine participants (two [6%] in the low dose group, two [6%] in the middle dose group, and five [14%] in the high dose group) had an episode of severe fever (grade 3) with axillary temperature greater than 38·5°C. Of them, one (3%) from the high dose group reported severe fever along with severe symptoms of fatigue, dyspnoea, and muscle pain. One participant in the high dose group reported severe fatigue and joint pain (
appendix p 3). These reactions occurred within 24 h post-vaccination, and persisted for no more than 48 h. We found no significant difference in the incidences of adverse reactions or overall adverse events among the dose groups. High pre-existing Ad5 immunity (titre of >1:200
vs '¤1:200) was associated with significantly fewer occurrences of fever post-vaccination (odds ratio 0·3, 95% CI 0·1''0·6;
appendix p 4). No serious adverse event was reported within 28 days. At day 7 after vaccination, nine (8%) participants had mild to moderate total bilirubin increase, ten (9%) had alanine aminotransferase increase, and four (4%) had fasting hyperglycaemia (
appendix p 5), but no instances were considered as clinically significant.
Table 2 Adverse reactions within 7 days and overall adverse events within 28 days after vaccination
Data are n (%). Any refers to all the participants with any grade adverse reactions or events. Adverse reactions and events were graded according to the scale issued by the China State Food and Drug Administration. Grade 3=severe (ie, prevented activity). GI=gastrointestinal.
Open table in a new tab Rapid binding antibody responses to RBD were observed in all three dose groups from day 14 (
table 3). At day 28, the recipients in the high dose group tended to have a higher binding antibody geometric mean titre of 1445·8 (95% CI 935·5''2234·5), followed by 806·0 (528·2''1229·9) in the middle dose group, and 615·8 (405·4''935·5) in the low dose group (high dose
vs low dose 1611·5, 531·5''2691·5). At least a four-fold increase of anti-RBD antibodies was noted in 35 (97%) of 36 participants in the low dose group, 34 (94%) of 36 in the middle dose group, and 36 (100%) of 36 in the high dose group. Neutralising antibodies against live SARS-CoV-2 were all negative at day 0, and increased moderately at day 14, peaking at 28 days post-vaccination. Neutralising antibody titre with a geometric mean titre of 34·0 (95% CI 22·6''50·1) was noted in the high dose group, which was significantly higher compared with 16·2 (10·4''25·2) in the middle dose group and 14·5 (9·6''21·8) in the low dose group, with an estimated difference of 27·7 (1·0''54·4) between the high dose group and the middle dose group and 33·2 (6·5''59·9) between the high dose group and the low dose group at day 28. Meanwhile, 18 (50%) participants in the low dose group, 18 (50%) in the middle dose group, and 27 (75%) in the high dose group had at least a four-fold increase in neutralising antibody titres by day 28. Similar patterns of the binding antibody to spike glycoprotein and neutralising antibody titre to pseudovirus post-vaccination across the dose groups were also noted (
appendix p 6). The association between the ELISA antibodies to RBD and neutralising antibody titres against live virus showed a moderate positive correlation of 0·749, and that between the ELISA antibodies to spike glycoprotein and neutralising antibody titres against live virus was 0·753, at the peak antibody response (p<0·0001). The neutralising antibody titres measured using a pseudovirus were also correlated well with those measured by live SARS-CoV-2 (
appendix p 7).
Table 3 Specific antibody responses to the receptor binding domain, and neutralising antibodies to live SARS-CoV-2
Data are mean (95% CI) or n (%). The p values are the result of comparison across the three dose groups. If the difference was significant across the three groups, the differences between groups were estimated with 95% CIs. SARS-CoV-2=severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. GMT=geometric mean titre.
Open table in a new tab Before vaccination, 20 (56%) participants in the low dose group, 19 (53%) participants in the middle dose group, and 16 (44%) participants in the high dose group had a high pre-existing Ad5 neutralising antibody titre (>1:200). Only five (25%) participants of 20 in the low dose group, seven (37%) participants of 19 in the middle dose group, and ten (63%) participants of 16 in the high dose group, who had high pre-existing Ad5 immunity, had at least a four-fold increase in neutralising antibody titre at day 28 post-vaccination (
appendix pp 8''10). Multivariable analysis showed that high pre-existing Ad5 neutralising antibody titres compromised the seroconversion of neutralising antibody post-vaccination, regardless of the vaccine doses, and recipients aged 45''60 years seemed to have lower seroconversion of neutralising antibody compared with the younger recipients (
appendix p 11). The Ad5 neutralising antibodies were significantly boosted post-vaccination (
appendix p 12).
ELISpot responses at baseline were undetectable with spot-forming cells below the level of detection of the assay in all participants, but peaked at day 14 post-vaccination. The proportions of positive responders ranged from 83''97% across the dose groups, with a mean number of spot-forming cells per 100'000 cells of 20·8 (95% CI 12·7''34·0) in the low dose group, 40·8 (27·6''60·3) in the middle dose group, and 58·0 (39·1''85·9) in the high dose group (
figure 1). T-cell responses in the high dose group were significantly higher than that in the low dose group (p<0·0010), but not significant compared with that in the middle dose group. A slight decrease of the T-cell responses across the dose groups was noted at day 28. High levels of baseline Ad5 neutralising antibody titre reduced the peak of post-vaccination T-cell responses in all the dose groups, particularly for the low dose group. Despite the effect of high pre-existing Ad5 immunity, positive responders were identified in 15 (75%) of 20 participants in the low dose group, 18 (95%) of 19 participants in the middle dose group, and 15 (94%) of 16 participants in the high dose group at day 14, and 12 (60%) of 20 participants in the low dose group, 16 (84%) of 19 participants in the middle dose group, and 16 (100%) of 16 participants in the high dose group at day 28.
IFNÎ" was detected from CD4
+ and CD8
+ T cells after the vaccination at day 14 and 28, in all dose groups (
appendix p 13). The TNFÎ± expression from CD4
+ T cells tended to be significantly lower in the low dose group than that in the high dose (p<0·0001) and middle dose groups (p=0·0032), on day 14. The TNFÎ± expression from CD8
+ T'cells showed an overall p value of less than 0·0001 across the three groups on day 14. And the TNFÎ± expression from CD8
+ T cells tended to be higher in the high dose group than that in both the middle dose group (p=0·016) and the low dose group (p<0·0001). The p values are for the pairwise comparisons between groups. Amounts of IL-2 detected from CD4
+ T cells were higher than that detected from CD8
+ cells. The proportions of polyfunctional phenotypes detected from memory CD4
+ T cells were higher than those from CD8
+ T cells. Higher proportions of polyfunctional phenotypes were noted with the higher vaccine doses. We also noted that pre-existing Ad5 neutralising antibody had a negative effect on the pattern of T-cell responses (
appendix pp 14''16). A post-hoc analysis showed that 28 (78%) participants in the low dose group, 33 (92%) participants in the middle dose group, and 36 (100%) participants in the high dose group showed either positive T-cell responses to spike glycoprotein or seroconversion of neutralising antibody to live SARS-CoV-2, at day 28 post-vaccination (
appendix p 17).
To exclude any possible SARS-CoV-2 exposure during the study period, we tested the serum antibodies to nucleocapsid protein of SARS-CoV-2 in participants at day 28 using a special IgG/IgM rapid test kit (Vazyme Biotech, number CD101, Nanjing, China), but none of the participants were positive.
Discussion To our knowledge, this is the first report on a first-in-human clinical trial of a novel Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine. The Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine was tolerated in healthy adults in all three dose groups. The most common adverse reactions were fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle pain with no significant difference in the incidence of adverse reactions across the groups. Most adverse events reported were mild or moderate in severity. We noticed a higher reactogenicity profile of the high dose at 1·5''10
11 viral particles, presenting as severe fever, fatigue, muscle pain, or joint pain, which might be associated with viraemia caused by Ad5 vector infection. However, the severe adverse reactions were transient and self-limiting. Additionally, no abnormal changes in laboratory measurements were clinically significant or considered to be related to the vaccine. The profile of adverse events reported in this trial is similar to that of another Ad5 vector-based Ebola vaccine expressing glycoprotein.
To accelerate the process of clinical evaluation of the candidate COVID-19 vaccine, we selected doses for the phase 2 study mainly on the basis of the safety profile of the candidate vaccines shown in the participants within 7 days and 14 days post-vaccination. We chose the low dose (5''1010 viral particles) and middle dose (1''1011 viral particles) to be further assessed in a phase 2 clinical trial.
The Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine was immunogenic, inducing humoral and T-cell responses rapidly in most participants. Onset of detectable immune responses was rapid, with T-cell responses peaking at day 14 after vaccination and antibodies peaking at day 28. The antibody response to the vaccine in the high dose group was slightly greater than that in the middle dose and low dose groups. A single dose of Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine was able to elicit a four-fold increase in binding antibodies to RBD in 94''100% of participants, and a four-fold increase to live virus in 50''75% of participants. Despite differences in magnitudes of the antibodies measured through different methods, there was a strong positive correlation between binding antibodies and neutralising antibody titres to the live virus. High proportions of participants with positive T-cell responses were noted across the all dose groups post-vaccination. The activation of both CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells was observed in vaccine recipients, particularly for antigen-specific CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells. However, both the specific antibody response and T-cell response induced by vaccination were partly diminished by the presence of high pre-existing anti-Ad5 immunity.
Currently, correlates of protection for a vaccine against COVID-19 are unknown, and the roles of the specific antibodies or T cells in building effective protection are not yet defined. Therefore, we are unable to predict the protection of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine on the basis of the vaccine-elicited immune responses in this study. However, previous studies investigating SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) found that the increases in specific antibodies were temporary, and declined quickly in patients after recovery, whereas the specific CD4
+ and CD8
+ T-cell responses played an essential role in immunity.
A similar rapid decline of the specific antibody amounts in patients with COVID-19 after recovery was also noted,
suggesting that both specific cellular and humoral immunity are potentially important for a successful COVID-19 vaccine. Here, we only report the data within 28 days after the vaccination, but we are going to follow up the vaccine recipients for at least 6 months, so more data will be obtained.
This study was done in Wuhan, Hubei province, which was the centre of the COVID-19 epidemic in China.
People living in the city of Wuhan had a much higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with those living in other cities outside of Hubei province, even though when we initiated this trial, the city had already begun lockdown and implemented mandatory home isolation for residents. Therefore, we did serological screening, nucleic acid testing, and chest CT to exclude participants who had been previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2 during recruitment. In addition, we arranged for all participants in our study to stay in a designated hotel for 14 days post-vaccination. This arrangement facilitated the observation of adverse events after the immunisation of the participants, and reduced the risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure during the following 2 weeks. These measures allowed the study to be done successfully without interference by the circulation of SARS-CoV-2, which is especially important in the absence of a placebo control.
Interpretation of the results of this study is limited by the small size of the cohort, the short duration of follow-up, and the absence of a randomised control group. As it was a first-in-human study of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine, it was not designed to measure the vaccine efficacy. However, in preclinical studies, seven out of eight ferrets were protected from having detectable virus copies when challenged by SARS-CoV-2 through nasal dripping 21 days after immunisation with the vaccine, whereas only one out of eight ferrets in the control group was negative for virus copies (Wei C, unpublished). We aimed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of the candidate vaccine in healthy adults, with no interference by underlying diseases or medicines. However, results of our study indicated that older age could have a negative effect on the vaccine-elicited responses to SARS-CoV-2. In this trial, no participants were older than 60 years and only 16% of the participants were older than 50 years, providing limited information on the capability of generating a potent cellular and humoral response in the older population. Since age has also been identified as an independent risk factor for severe disease associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection,
and there is a possibility that an even lower immune response might be found in the older population, we are going to include participants who are older than 60 years in the phase 2 study considering this population as an important target population for a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, experience with vaccine candidates for SARS and MERS have raised concerns about the antibody-dependent enhancement in participants who are infected with a circulating SARS-CoV-2 post-vaccination.
However, this study was not statistically powered to measure any safety outcome, especially for the concerns around immunopathology and antibody-dependent enhancement events associated with the full-length spike glycoprotein vaccine antigen.
Our study found that the pre-existing Ad5 immunity could slow down the rapid immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 and also lower the peak of the responses, particularly for humoral immunity. The high pre-existing Ad5 immunity might also have a negative effect on the persistence of the vaccine-elicited immune responses. In previous studies, heterologous prime-boost combinations or homologous prime-boost regimens with Ad5 vectored vaccines were shown to be able to induce more strong and durable immunogenic responses in populations with high pre-existing Ad5 immunity.
Nevertheless, limited information is available for the effects of multiple doses of the candidate Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine in humans, which warrants further investigation.
Over the past decade, the vaccine industry and clinical research centres have been asked to provide urgent responses to epidemics of emerging infectious diseases, such as H1N1 influenza, Ebola virus, Zika, MERS, and now SARS-CoV-2.
The risk of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 is ongoing, making the need for effective vaccines even more urgent.
We started the development of this candidate vaccine in January, 2020, when SARS-CoV-2 was first isolated and sequenced. The full-length spike glycoprotein was selected as the vaccine antigen, mainly on the basis of previous experience with SARS and MERS vaccines. Previous findings suggested that those vaccines expressing full-length spike glycoprotein can induce good immune responses and protective efficacy.
Although the RBD comprises the critical neutralising domains for the coronaviruses, the neutralising epitopes located outside the RBD were also identified.
The full-length spike was chosen in most of the viral vectored, mRNA, or DNA COVID-19 vaccines in development.
The Ad5 vector vaccine platform is highly efficient and well established as a vaccine antigen delivery system. In addition to our candidate Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine, there are several other Ad5-based vaccines against COVID-19 listed in the WHO draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines, including Ad5 S (GREVAXTM platform) in the USA, and Oral Ad5 S (Stabilitech Biopharma) in the UK.
However, aside from pre-existing anti-Ad5 immunity, there is a concern about the increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition associated with Ad5 activated CD4+ T'cells.
Although the association between HIV-1 acquisition risk and Ad5 vectored vaccine is controversial and its mechanism is unclear, the potential risks should be taken into account in studies with this viral vector delivery platform. We plan to monitor the participants in our upcoming phase 2 and phase 3 studies to assess the indication for any such acquisition.
In conclusion, we found that the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine is tolerable and immunogenic in healthy adults. Specific humoral responses against SARS-CoV-2 peaked at day 28 post-vaccination, and rapid, specific T-cell responses were noted from day 14 after one shot of the vaccine. There is potential for further investigation of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine for the control of the COVID-19 outbreak. An ongoing phase 2 trial in China (
NCT04341389) will provide more information on the safety and immunogenicity of the Ad5 vectored COVID-19 vaccine.
F-CZ and Y-HL were co-first authors. F-CZ, WW, and WC were joint corresponding authors. F-CZ is the principal investigator of this trial. X-HG and WW worked as co-principal investigators of this trial. F-CZ, WC, X-HG, L-HH, Y-HL, W-JW, J-XL, and S-YJ designed the trial and the study protocol. J-XL drafted the manuscript. WC contributed to critical review and revision of the manuscript. F-CZ, W-JW, J-XL, and S-YJ contributed to the data interpretation and revision of the manuscript. X-WW was responsible for the statistical analysis. J-JX and B-SW contributed to study supervision. WW, W-JW, ZW, LeW, S-YJ, and H-DJ led and participated in the site work, including the recruitment, follow-up, and data collection. Y-HL, TJ, YH, LiW, and S-BX were responsible for laboratory analyses. W-JW, J-XL, and S-YJ contributed to the literature search. J-BG and S-PW monitored the trial.
Declaration of interests
WC reports grants from the National Key R&D Program of China (2020YFC10841400), and grants from the National Science and Technology Major Project (2016ZX10004001, 2018ZX09201005). J-BG is an employee of CanSino Biologics. All other authors declare no competing interests.
Data sharing We support data sharing of the individual participant data. The individual participant data that underlie the results reported in this Article, after de-identification (text, tables, figures, and appendix) will be shared. Individual participant data will be available beginning 3 months and ending 1 year after publication.
Supporting clinical documents including the study protocol, statistical analysis plan, and the informed consent form will be available immediately following publication for at least 1 year. Researchers who provide a scientifically sound proposal will be allowed access to the individual participant data. Proposals should be directed to
[email protected] or
[email protected] . These proposals will be reviewed and approved by the sponsor, investigator, and collaborators on the basis of scientific merit. To gain access, data requesters will need to sign a data access agreement.
We thank Peng Deng, Qiong Li, and Xiaoai Qian from Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention for participant recruitment and sample collection. We thank Miao Xu and Jingjing Liu from the National Institute for Food and Drug Control (China), Yansong Sun, Sen Zhang, and Yuchang Li from the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, and Feng Wang, Hongyan Hou, Hanxiong Guan, and Bo Liu from Tongji Hospital for laboratory analysis. We thank Ke Zhang from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Kun Liu from the General Hospital of Central Theater Command, and Changlong Fu from Wuhan Rest Center, Chinese People's Armed Police Force for the management of the clinical trial site.
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Figures Figure 1 Specific T-cell response measured by ELISpot
Figure 2 Flow cytometry with intracellular cytokine staining before and after vaccination
Tables Table 1 Baseline characteristics Table 2 Adverse reactions within 7 days and overall adverse events within 28 days after vaccination Table 3 Specific antibody responses to the receptor binding domain, and neutralising antibodies to live SARS-CoV-2 Ian Greenhalgh is a photographer and historian with a particular interest in military history and the real causes of conflicts.
His studies in history and background in the media industry have given him a keen insight into the use of mass media as a creator of conflict in the modern world.
His favored areas of study include state-sponsored terrorism, media manufactured reality and the role of intelligence services in manipulation of populations and the perception of events.
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UK COVID-19 vaccine trial may fail due to low transmission in population - The Jerusalem Post
There is a 50% chance the trial may result in 'no result.' Vial 1 of Box 1. This is the vaccine candidate to be used in Phase 1 clinical trial at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility (CBF) in Oxford, Britain, April 2, 2020. Picture taken April 2, 2020
(photo credit: SEAN ELIAS/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Hopes that a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready by September are hanging in the balance, as the scientists developing it are concerned that a slowdown in the rate of infection in the general population could invalidate the human trials currently taking place.
Professor Hill, Director of the Oxford University's Jenner Institute, has told
The Telegraph that there is only a 50-50 chance that the vaccine his team has been developing can be successfully tested.
The team has recruited 10,000 people to test the vaccine, some of which will be given the vaccine and others a placebo. But as it is unethical to purposely infect people in the trial with COVID-19, participants will be asked to go about their normal routine in the expectation that some will be exposed to it naturally. However, that is unlikely to happen if the virus is not spreading, meaning that no conclusions can be drawn one way or the other about the vaccine's efficacy.
Dr Hill expects that fewer than 50 people in the test population will catch the virus, but if less than 20 test positive the results may be useless.
''It is a race, yes. But it's not a race against the other guys," he said. "It's a race against the virus disappearing, and against time. We said earlier in the year that there was an
80% chance of developing an effective vaccine by September. But at the moment, there's a 50 per cent chance that we get no result at all. We're in the bizarre position of wanting COVID to stay, at least for a little while. But cases are declining."
The Oxford team is not the only facing this predicament. So far eight potential vaccines have reached the stage of human trials - four in China, two in the US, one in Germany and the Oxford team. With cases dwindling, all of the teams are looking for hotspots globally where they can conduct their trials.
''You think we've got a problem?" Prof Hill said. "What would you do if you were in China? There are three Chinese companies looking for Phase Three and there's no COVID in China. So what do they do?"
Much is riding on a successful outcome for Hills' team, as they have already
joined forces with AstraZeneca to develop the vaccine. The US has already laid claim to almost a third of the one billion doses the company is planning to manufacture, while the British government has already agreed to foot the bill for 100 million doses, of which it was hoped that 30 million would be ready for UK citizens by September.
However, Hill told the
Telegraph that Oxford University had secured "hardwired" assurances against what he called 'vaccine nationalism.'
''The reputational damage to the university would be enormous if we provided the vaccine only for the UK and US and not for the rest of those countries of the world where it's very likely the pandemic would still be raging,'' he said.
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Concerns about China acquiring the DNA of American service members prompted the Pentagon to issue an advisory late last year to the entire force against using commercial popular DNA testing kits to find out one's ancestry, Breitbart News has learned.
''There is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness,'' the Pentagon said in its December 20 advisory that was first reported by Yahoo News. However, neither the memo or the Yahoo News report specifically mentioned China as the main concern.
But two congressional sources told Breitbart News that the Pentagon's warning was prompted by concern over China's efforts to obtain DNA and other personal health information from companies popular in the U.S.
It is not clear how China could use American service member DNA. Experts have warned that DNA could be used to identify and target undercover military agents, using small samples of blood or saliva. China is already reportedly building a database of Uyghur Muslims' DNA as part of a mass surveillance and control program.
China could also use DNA to tailor biological weapons to target specific groups or individuals. Last July, the U.S. Navy's then-top officer warned about this very possibility by adversaries.
A 2019 congressionally-commissioned report warned about China obtaining genetic data from Americans through mergers and acquisitions, and investments in U.S. companies.
There is particular concern over popular DNA testing companies such as 23andMe, which is a U.S. company headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, that boasts more than 12 million customers.
In 2015, Chinese investment firm WuXi Healthcare Ventures invested $10.45 million to a $115 million venture capital round E financing of 23andMe, to enhance and expand its operations in the U.S. and abroad, according to the February 2019 report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
At the time WuXi Healthcare Ventures invested in 23andMe, it was the corporate venture arm of Chinese pharmaceutical firm WuXi PharmaTech, now known as WuXi AppTec. Also in 2015, WuXi PharmaTech acquired the U.S. firm NextCODE Health for $65 million and took the genome sequence analysis platform of NextCODE Health to increase the company's access to labs certified to access the U.S. healthcare market and to broaden its customer base to U.S. doctors and patients.
WuXi Healthcare Ventures, which was based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, merged in 2017 with Chinese investment firm Frontline BioVentures to become 6 Dimensions Capital. In November 2018, a U.S. Trade Representative report singled out 6 Dimensions Capital using venture capital to acquire U.S. biotechnology.
Breitbart News asked 23andMe if any Chinese investors still had financial interest in the company and whether the company shared customer data with any Chinese investors, companies, or labs.
Andy Kill, 23andMe communications director, said in a response, ''We do not share any customer information with investors, or any China-based companies or labs. We do all of our lab work in the US.''
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report said the worry is that the Chinese government could compel private Chinese companies to disclose any U.S. data they have collected or surreptitiously take the data. The report said:
Although none of the investments or partnerships detailed appear to involve state-owned enterprises, the possibility remains that the Chinese government may still be able to force or compel private companies in China to disclose the data they have collected (or surreptitiously take the data). While there are no known instances of biotechnology companies handing over patient or customer data to the Chinese government, such a move would not be unprecedented.
There is also the risk of cybertheft. 23andMe's own chief security officer, David Baker, recently expressed concerns over China wanting to steal the company's genetic data.
''That is not a billion dollar business; that is a hundred billion dollar business, which is certainly an interest to nation states,'' Baker said in a March 9 Telegraph article.
Kill directed Breitbart News to a statement on its website. It said, ''while our teams regularly review and improve our security practices to help ensure the integrity of our systems and customer information, it is never possible to fully guarantee against breaches in security.''
Since taking office, the Trump administration has been quietly increasing its oversight of U.S. firms allowing significant investment from Chinese investors.
U.S. start-up firm Veritas Genetics was forced to close its U.S. operations in December after failing to attract new investors who were skittish over the company's heavy Chinese funding. In June, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) forced health-tech company PatientsLikeMe to find a new buyer after forcing its Chinese owner to divest its stake.
Members of Congress have also been increasing oversight of Chinese activities in the U.S., too.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a China hawk and co-chair of the House Armed Services Committee's Future of Defense Task Force, hinted in a tweet in January the concerns behind DOD's memo, specifically naming 23andMe:
In Dec, we learned @DeptofDefense banned US service members from using genetic testing kits like 23AndMe.
I never want adversaries like #China #CCP gain access to the genetic code of millions of Americans and plan on doing more to protect American's most sensitive personal info! https://t.co/lCez9NPrQg
'-- Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) January 13, 2020
Banks also said at a hearing in February that the task force was investigating the issue.
Under questioning by Banks, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testified that China obtaining American DNA would multiply their ability to exploit individuals.
''There's all kinds of things that can be done. And '-- and I don't want to, you know, spook the herd, but there's a lot of things that could be done,'' he said.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper added, ''Particularly at a time when they're building a 21st century surveillance state in China, if you think about them exporting that technology abroad and being able to identify key Americans, whatever the case may be.''
The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
Follow Breitbart News's Kristina Wong on Twitter or on Facebook.
People wearing face masks are seen at Wuhan Railway Station, in Wuhan, the Chinese city hit the hardest by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the Hubei province, China, May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song
BEIJING (Reuters) - The city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, conducted 1,470,950 nucleic acid tests for the virus on Friday, the local health authority said on Saturday, compared with 1,000,729 tests the previous day.
Wuhan kicked off a campaign on May 14 to look for asymptomatic carriers - infected people who show no outward sign of illness - after confirming on May 9-10 its first cluster of COVID-19 infections since its lockdown was lifted on April 8.
Reporting by Ryan Woo; editing by John Stonestreet
Disney's Head of Streaming, Kevin Mayer, Becomes TikTok C.E.O. - The New York Times
Kevin Mayer will lead the Chinese-owned app for making and sharing short videos, which has exploded in popularity during the pandemic.
Kevin Mayer worked on Disney Plus, which rolled out in November and has about 55 million subscribers. Credit... Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney LOS ANGELES '-- The Walt Disney Company's top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, resigned on Monday to become the chief executive of TikTok, the app for making and sharing short videos that has exploded in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Mayer, 58, will also serve as chief operating officer of ByteDance, the Chinese conglomerate that owns TikTok. ''I was happy with my job at Disney,'' Mr. Mayer said by phone. ''The magnitude of this opportunity was just something I couldn't pass up.'' He cited gaming and music as two expansion possibilities. (He sounded considerably less eager to post TikToks of himself.)
TikTok's app has been downloaded about 1.9 billion times worldwide, including 172 million downloads in the United States, according to Sensor Tower, an app data firm. And its surging popularity has increased during the pandemic. In the first quarter of this year, it was downloaded 307 million times, more than any other app in the world, according to Sensor Tower data.
That popularity has made TikTok by far the biggest digital success for a Chinese-owned company in the Western world. As a result, it has faced deep distrust across the U.S. government. Several government agencies, including nearly all branches of the military, have barred employees from downloading or using the app. In March, Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, proposed legislation to bar any federal employee from using the app.
''.@tiktok_us previously told me they couldn't attend hearings and testify because executives were located in #China,'' Mr. Hawley wrote on Twitter after Mr. Mayer's hiring was announced. ''But this new executive lives in the USA. I look forward to hearing from him. Under oath.''
Both Republicans and Democrats have questioned the Chinese government's influence over the app. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic minority leader, and Senator Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas, co-wrote a letter to the director of national intelligence in October, requesting a review of the national-security implications of TikTok's expanding influence.
TikTok has meanwhile hired a number of American executives and employees to run its business and review content on its app. Vanessa Pappas, a former YouTube executive who joined TikTok as one of its American chiefs last year, said in a November blog post that the company's United States-based team would call the shots on TikTok's U.S. business, including by setting specific rules for American users.
Now Mr. Mayer will provide a clear link between TikTok and ByteDance's leadership in Beijing, with his dual roles at the two companies.
Mr. Mayer's departure from Disney is not entirely a surprise. Disney's board of directors passed over him this year when it was looking for a successor for Robert A. Iger, who abruptly stepped down in February. (Mr. Iger remains executive chairman, with a focus on the creative process.) Many people in Hollywood and on Wall Street had viewed Mr. Mayer as the logical internal candidate because the future of Disney rests on its ability to transform itself into a streaming titan. The top job, however, went to Bob Chapek, the lower-profile chairman of Disney's theme parks and consumer products businesses.
''Kevin has had an extraordinary impact on our company over the years,'' Mr. Chapek said in a statement. ''Having worked alongside Kevin for many years on the senior management team, I am enormously grateful to him for his support and friendship.''
Despite being passed over, Mr. Mayer had indicated that he was in no hurry to leave. There is no business more important to Disney than streaming, and Mr. Mayer has relished working on services like Disney Plus, which rolled out in November and now has about 55 million subscribers '-- a runaway hit. Disney Plus will arrive in parts of Asia and Latin America this year. Hulu, which has about 30 million subscribers, and Hotstar, the leading streaming service in India, have also been part of Mr. Mayer's portfolio.
Mr. Mayer is best known as Disney's longtime deals maven. Before running the direct-to-consumer and international division for the past two years, he served as Disney's chief strategy officer, helping to orchestrate the purchases of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, most of 21st Century Fox and BamTech, a technology company that specializes in streaming video.
Mr. Mayer joined Disney in 1993 before leaving in 2000 to run Playboy.com. He soon returned to Disney to work on Go.com, a web portal that eventually failed, and other Disney websites, including ESPN.com, before moving to strategic planning.
Disney named Rebecca Campbell as Mr. Mayer's successor. She has been ascending quickly. Just last year, she was named president of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. Before that, Ms. Campbell had a senior leadership role at Disney's Europe, Middle East and Africa operation; she worked on the launch plan for Disney Plus. Disney also named a new chairman for theme parks and consumer products: Josh D'Amaro, who was president of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
ByteDance, founded in 2012, has quickly become a major player in the global tech industry with a number of wildly popular apps, including Douyin, in effect the Chinese version of TikTok, and Toutiao, a news aggregator that has run afoul of Chinese regulators for its sometimes racy content. Zhang Yiming, 37, its secretive founder and chief executive, has quickly become one of the richest and most influential people in China. While scrutiny of ByteDance increases with its size, his comments have resembled those of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief, arguing that ByteDance is a tech company, not a media company.
A TikTok spokesman on Monday stressed that TikTok was not owned by a Beijing-based company. Instead, its parent company, ByteDance Ltd., is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, though he could not say how many people are based there. That entity owns TikTok and all of the businesses in China, he said.
Mr. Mayer will remain in his current home in Los Angeles, though he will travel frequently to Bytedance's headquarters in Beijing, as well as TikTok's major offices in New York, London, Japan and India, the spokesman said.
Brooks Barnes reported from Los Angeles, and Jack Nicas from Oakland, Calif.
Biden's vice president shortlist emerges, as Demings says she's being vetted
A growing number of contenders to be Joe Biden's vice presidential nominee indicated Thursday that they've advanced to a round of intense vetting, suggesting that a shortlist for the slot is taking shape.
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., has formally begun interviewing with the Biden campaign for the vice presidential nomination and that the vetting process is underway, a source with direct knowledge told NBC News Thursday.
''We're definitely on a list,'' the source said.
Demings, D-Fla., in an interview with SiriusXM's ''The Dean Obeidallah Show,'' said Wednesday night she was on ''the shortlist'' to be Biden's vice presidential nominee, saying that she'd accept the job if offered.
''If Vice President Biden asked me to serve along with him, I would be honored to do just that,'' she said.
Demings has represented an Orlando-area district '-- a key territory in the critical battleground state of Florida '-- since 2017. Earlier in her career, she was the police chief of Orlando. She also served as a House manager during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, CBS News reported that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was asked by the Biden campaign to undergo a formal vetting for consideration for the veep slot.
Klobuchar ran for the Democratic presidential nomination but dropped out in March to endorse Biden.
Earlier Thursday, NBC News reported that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., had declined a request from Biden's presidential campaign to be vetted as a potential running mate.
The Biden team's interest in Shaheen was first reported by Manchester, N.H., ABC affiliate WMUR, which also reported that Maggie Hassan, the state's other Democratic senator, has agreed to be vetted by the Biden campaign for consideration for the vice presidential nomination.
Earlier this week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer disclosed that she has been in touch with Biden's team. During a "Today" interview Tuesday she said, ''it was just an opening conversation.''
If elected, Biden, 77, would be the oldest-ever president-elect, which has put an intense focus on his pick for vice president. Biden has spoken often of seeing himself as a transitional presidential, leading many politics-watchers to believe that his running mate could eventually be the leader of the Democratic Party and, if Biden won in 2020, the likely Democratic nominee in 2024.
Biden has said he expects the vetting process to take five to eight weeks, which would point to an announcement occurring no sooner than July.
''They're now in the process of thoroughly examining a group of women, all of whom are capable in my view of being president. And there's about a dozen of them,'' Biden said during a virtual fundraiser last week.
Biden had previously vowed to choose a woman as his running mate.
In March, She the People, an influential group of women of color, released an internal poll showing that Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia state House, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., were the leading Democratic vice presidential picks among their members.
Other women who have been frequently mentioned by politicians, strategists and voters include Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Booker introduces bill to create 'DemocracyCorps' for elections | TheHill
Sen. Cory Booker Cory Anthony BookerBooker introduces bill to create 'DemocracyCorps' for elections On The Money: GOP senators heed Fed chair's call for more relief | Rollout of new anti-redlining laws spark confusion in banking industry | Nearly half of American households have lost employment income during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal MORE (D-N.J.) will introduce a bill on Thursday to create a new federal organization to help with elections.
The legislation would establish a "DemocracyCorps" of individuals who would help register voters, carry out voter education campaigns and serve as poll workers, according to details of the bill shared exclusively with The Hill ahead of its release.
''The right to vote is sacred and we should make exercising that fundamental right as easy as possible. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has placed that right in peril, and unless decisive measures are taken to provide safe voting options, many Americans may face a terrible choice this fall between protecting their health and participating in our democracy," Booker said in a statement.
"My bill would help solve this problem. DemocracyCorps aims to cultivate and inspire a new generation of young people to strengthen our democracy by helping Americans safely exercise the franchise, just as the Freedom Summer volunteers before them," he added.
The organization would include 35,000 people who would serve two-year terms. They would be assigned to states based on population, number of elected officials and population on Native American lands.
The spread of the coronavirus, and the lack of a vaccine, have raised new questions about how to safely carry out elections, where voters routinely stand in line at polls in order to cast their ballot.
Wisconsin went forward with its primary elections last month, after a court order blocked an attempt by the governor to delay it. The state's Department of Health Services said earlier this month that at least 67 Wisconsin residents got COVID-19 after voting in person or working at the polls April 7, though some individuals had other potential exposures, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
In addition to creating the new organization, Booker's bill, the DemocracyCorps Act, would also include broader election reforms. It wraps in ideas included in separate pieces of legislation from Sens. Kamala Harris Kamala Devi HarrisThe Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice Let's support and ensure the safety of workers risking so much for us Demings says she's on Biden's VP short list MORE (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden Ronald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate confirms Ratcliffe to be Trump's spy chief Booker introduces bill to create 'DemocracyCorps' for elections Nursing homes struggled with infection control long before COVID-19: watchdog MORE (D-Ore.) and Amy Klobuchar Amy KlobucharSenate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns On The Money: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of needing another COVID-19 relief bill | 2.4 million more Americans file new jobless claims | Top bank regulator abruptly announces resignation MORE (D-Minn.).
That includes expanding early voting to 20 days before a federal election, allowing for online voter registration and allowing for vote-by-mail in addition to voting in person.
Allowing for mail-in voting has emerged as a point of tension between President Trump Donald John TrumpSenate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation Melania Trump thanks students in video message during CNN town hall Fauci says media will be 'seeing more' of him, coronavirus task force after press hiatus MORE and Democrats. Republicans say mail-in voting could be vulnerable to fraud, though experts say overall cases of voter fraud are rare.
Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his threat to withhold funding from states over plans to allow more voting to be conducted by mail, claiming that mail-in ballots are riddled with ''tremendous fraud."
Trump, who voted by mail in Florida's recent primary election, initially claimed on Wednesday that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) was sending out absentee ballots, and not ballot applications, to the state's registered voters and alleged that the step was done ''illegally."
Benson responded to Trump's tweet, correcting him by saying that the state "sent applications, not ballots" and pointing out that Republican secretaries of state have done the same.
Trump sent out a second tweet hours later correctly saying that Michigan is sending "absentee ballot applications" ahead of the primary and general election and maintaining that the decision was done "illegally" and "without authorization."
Sleepy Joe is on a ROLL! After telling black man 'he ain't black,' Joe Biden brags to CNBC host that 'he's ready to beat Joe Biden' '' twitchy.com
Any minute now, Ashton Kutcher is going to hop out from behind the bushes in the Rose Garden and tell America we've been punked with this Joe Biden campaign '... right? RIGHT?! And if this is the best Democrats can do BOY HOWDY, they are in some serious trouble.
He's doing a good job of that already! https://t.co/vdtzNCuQnv
'-- Dan Bongino (@dbongino) May 22, 2020
Joe Biden has largely been absent from the public eye recently '' and given how his interviews when he does enter the public arena are going, it's not hard to see why.
First, ol' Joe went on 'The Breakfast Club' and told the black host 'he ain't black' if he doesn't know if he's voting for Trump or Biden (no, we are NOT making that up.) Then, Joe went on CNBC and did this:
This is the man who wants to be your President.
Endorsed by Jenny Rubin & Max Boot.
He has a record, locked up in the University of Delaware.
This is the clear thinking and leadership this country needs.pic.twitter.com/OKcfZ7nnjk
'-- Amazon Post '' follow us into the darkness *check* (@dying_democracy) May 22, 2020
He's going to beat Joe Biden.
Biden is seriously out-Bidening himself today.
Quid pro quo slo Joe is nuttier than a port-a-potty in a peanut festival."
'-- Dave Logan #istandwithsalinasoule (@deejsr) May 22, 2020
The Dems can't keep him in can they? The @BernieSanders bros must be livid. Biden clearly has some issues. #JoeBiden
'-- SloaneRanger (@_SloaneRanger) May 22, 2020
Joe is the gift that keeps on giving'...to the GOP.
'-- Wise Up Today (@WiseUpAmerica3) May 22, 2020
He says he's going to defeat himself and he's telling black people that they ain't black!
This guy is an awesome foil for Trump's reelection effort
'-- COVID1984 (@PAULIBABBA) May 22, 2020
'-- kelli c (@kclark9792) May 22, 2020
Even Biden knows that Biden easiest to beat in elections.
'-- Miswired (@Miswired) May 22, 2020
Joe might considering coming out of the basement.
'-- Mikey'... is not my name (@Mikey46856090) May 22, 2020
We're starting to see why they keep him in a basement.
'-- UPDATED '--
Some are saying Joe said he will 'be Joe Biden':
In context, the question is about how he would govern, and I believe he is saying: "I am going to be Joe Biden." https://t.co/SW79pkDHrT
'-- JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) May 22, 2020
'It pains me to say this': Shaun King has epiphany in thread about how LITTLE Democrats have actually done to help minority victims
Ho-lee-CHIT! Joe Biden tells young black man 'you ain't black' since he's not sure if he's voting Biden or Trump (watch)
Hellooo PULITZER: CBS' Weijia Jang writes entire THREAD 'breaking' story on Trump not wearing mask at Ford, accidentally proves he DID
NAACP pushes back on Biden's claim it endorsed him after 'you ain't black' furor | Fox News
The NAACP on Friday pushed back on a claim by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden that the civil rights organization had endorsed him ''every time I've run'' -- stating that the group never endorses any political candidate.
''Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden made a comment about the NAACP's endorsement,'' the statement by Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said. ''We want to clarify that the NAACP is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office at any level.''
JOE BIDEN EXPRESSES REGRET OVER 'YOU AINT' BLACK' COMMENTS: 'I SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN SO CAVALIER'
The statement was in response to Biden's claim during an interview with ''The Breakfast Club'' that the group had endorsed him every time he had run as he sought to tout his credentials in supporting the black community.
''Take a look at my record. I extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. I have a record that is second to none. The NAACP's endorsed me every time I've run,'' he said. ''Take a look at the record.''
But Johnson in his statement said that ''the NAACP has one mission and that is fighting for and advancing our Black communities towards an equitable reality.''
''Our primary focus at this moment is to ensure that our communities that have been victims of domestic terrorism and disproportionately impacted by this pandemic have the opportunity to cast their powerful vote come November,'' he said.
BIDEN SPARKS FIRESTORM WITH RACIAL COMMENTS
The statement comes amid the controversy caused by his remarks in the interview with Charlemagne tha God, where he said that those having a hard time "figuring out" whether to support him or President Trump "ain't black."
''I tell you if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black,'' he said.
After the remarks were blasted across the political spectrum, Biden walked them back, saying in an afternoon phone call with the U.S. Black Chambers that ''I shouldn't have been so cavalier.''
Biden said he understands the comments sounded like he was taking the black vote "for granted" but insisted that wasn't the case.
"I shouldn't have been such a wise guy," Biden said. "... No one should have to vote for any party, based on their race or religion or background."
Charlemagne tha God, meanwhile, indicated he was not impressed with the conversation with Biden.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
''My takeaway from the conversation was I heard him talking about things he did for black people back in the day, but you know 'what have you done for me lately' is my motto,'' he said on CNN late Friday.
He also said Biden was ''really one of the people on the front line when it came to the war on drugs and mass incarceration.''
Fox News' Paul Steinhauser, Allie Raffa and Madeleine Rivera contributed to this report.
Michelle Obama Is Getting Involved in the 2020 Election
Michelle Obama hasn't exactly been on the sidelines for the 2020 campaign process, but the former first lady has now officially waded in, announcing a voter turnout initiative along with 31 mayors from across America.
The effort will take place through Obama's organization When We All Vote. Founded in 2018 by the former first lady, When We All Vote is described by The Washington Post '-- which began the title for its story with the ominous phrase ''Michelle Obama is stepping into the 2020 election'' '-- as a ''nonpartisan voting initiative.'' (I'd love to see the author say those words with a straight face.)
On Thursday, Obama ''announced a coalition of 31 mayors across the country who will be brainstorming and sharing lessons and practices about how to increase voter registration and civic engagement,'' The Post reported.
In a Zoom call with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, she echoed one of her husband's recent talking points: There are supposedly no adults in the room in the Trump administration.
TRENDING: Obama Portrait Will Never Hang in Trump's WH, According to Reports
''This current crisis is a clear reminder of how critical it is to have competent leadership at all levels of government,'' the former first lady said.
''Voting is bigger than any one party, any one issue, any one candidate, any one election,'' she added. ''The point is that no matter what party, what ideology, we want everyone to participate. We need your voices in this with us.''
Right. One can be sure that When We All Vote will be diligently trying to turn out votes in the red areas of swing states. Or she'll be working hard to implement last-minute vote-by-mail schemes, one of the two.
''This pandemic will likely have a significant impact on the November election and on how voters across the country cast their ballots,'' she said on the Zoom call. ''Already in state and local elections, we've seen voters forced to choose between protecting their health and making their voices heard. And that's absolutely not acceptable.''
Should Michelle Obama get involved in the 2020 election?
3% (12 Votes)
97% (446 Votes)
She added people needed to keep watch so that the pandemic ''doesn't turn into a crisis of democracy, too.''
This all sounds wonderful '-- who doesn't like the idea of more people voting, after all? '-- until you realize the decidedly partisan reasoning behind the effort. One of the pleasant fictions Democrats tell themselves about their 2016 loss is that people actually wanted them to win, they just didn't get out to vote.
''Almost half of eligible voters didn't go to the polls in the 2016 election and a group of political scientists and data analysts found that 4.4 million people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 stayed home in 2016, including 11 percent of black voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2012 '-- comprising one third of abstainers,'' The Post reported.
In Michelle Obama's Netflix documentary ''Becoming,'' the former first lady said the day her family left the White House was ''painful'' since ''a lot of our folks didn't vote, so it was almost like a slap in the face.''
No one, I think, will ever be able to properly explain the condescension behind this conceit to the Democrats.
RELATED: With Mother's Day Coming, Michelle Obama Reveals Her Feelings About Motherhood: Cost Her 'Aspirations and Dreams'
It's almost as if they believe their own voters weren't competent enough to remember when the election was: ''It's the first Thursday in December, right? Febtober? I dunno.''
Either that or they were just so busy catching up on ''Real Housewives of [Insert City Here]'' that they simply forgot about it.
Not going out to vote is a choice '-- it's essentially people saying that, while they're not going to vote for the other party, they're of the opinion that those who are supposed to represent them no longer do.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden were in the White House for eight years. This apparently wasn't enough time to convince many people to come out and vote for Hillary Clinton.
So now they're going to '... push extra super-duper hard at guilt-tripping the people who slapped them in the face?
Again from the documentary: ''I understand the people who voted for Trump,'' Obama said.
''The people who didn't vote at all, the young people, the women, that's when you think, 'Man, people think this is a game,''' she added.
''It wasn't just in this election, but every midterm, every time Barack didn't get the Congress he needed, that was because our folks didn't show up. After all that work, they couldn't be bothered to vote at all. That's my trauma.''
Don't bother explaining her electoral entitlement to her. She's not going to get it.
As of right now, the Obamas have mostly spent the 2020 election cycle sniping from the sidelines. Indeed, it's all they can do, given the fact that there are no mass campaign events or, at least in the case of the Biden campaign, any apparent overarching strategy.
The former president has endorsed Biden and has managed to make some headlines thanks to passive-aggressive remarks during virtual commencement speeches claiming people currently in government ''aren't even pretending to be in charge'' and implying those in the administration are ''[d]oing what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy '-- that's how little kids think.''
Is this a sign that the former first couple will be taking a more active role in the race once conditions allow? That's almost certain, although it remains to be seen how much of one.
Michelle Obama has been floated as a potential running mate for Biden, although that seems more unlikely given Biden's age and the need for someone with concrete experience.
However, as an aggressive surrogate, the former first lady remains popular in polls.
However, polls aren't reality.
The fact that Donald Trump is in the White House to begin with should speak to a dramatic discontent with the way the Obama administration ran the White House.
Years later, however, she's still complaining about how, ''[a]fter all that work,'' her base ''couldn't be bothered to vote at all.''
That they might have been staying home for reasons other than not being bothered isn't explored.
This should probably tell you everything you need to know about how successful her new effort might end up being.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Ministry of Truthiness
The Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names - The New York Times
A presentation of obituaries and death notices from newspapers around the country tries to frame incalculable loss.
Published May 23, 2020Updated May 24, 2020, 6:04 a.m. ET
Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.
Instead of the articles, photographs or graphics that normally appear on the front page of The New York Times, on Sunday, there is just a list: a long, solemn list of people whose lives were lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
As the death toll from Covid-19 in the United States approaches 100,000, a number expected to be reached in the coming days, editors at The Times have been planning how to mark the grim milestone.
Simone Landon, assistant editor of the Graphics desk, wanted to represent the number in a way that conveyed both the vastness and the variety of lives lost.
Departments across The Times have been robustly covering the coronavirus pandemic for months. But Ms. Landon and her colleagues realized that ''both among ourselves and perhaps in the general reading public, there's a little bit of a fatigue with the data.''
''We knew we were approaching this milestone,'' she added. ''We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number.''
Putting 100,000 dots or stick figures on a page ''doesn't really tell you very much about who these people were, the lives that they lived, what it means for us as a country,'' Ms. Landon said. So, she came up with the idea of compiling obituaries and death notices of Covid-19 victims from newspapers large and small across the country, and culling vivid passages from them.
Alain Delaqu(C)ri¨re, a researcher, combed through various sources online for obituaries and death notices with Covid-19 written as the cause of death. He compiled a list of nearly a thousand names from hundreds of newspapers. A team of editors from across the newsroom, in addition to three graduate student journalists, read them and gleaned phrases that depicted the uniqueness of each life lost:
''Alan Lund, 81, Washington, conductor with 'the most amazing ear' '... ''
''Theresa Elloie, 63, New Orleans, renowned for her business making detailed pins and corsages '... ''
''Florencio Almazo Morn, 65, New York City, one-man army '... ''
''Coby Adolph, 44, Chicago, entrepreneur and adventurer '... ''
Ms. Landon compared the result to a ''rich tapestry'' that she could not have woven by herself. Clinton Cargill, assistant editor on the National desk, was Ms. Landon's ''editing co-pilot,'' she said. Other key players in the project were Matt Ruby, deputy editor of Digital News Design; Annie Daniel, a software engineer; and the graphics editors Jonathan Huang, Richard Harris and Lazaro Gamio. Andrew Sondern, an art director, is behind the print design.
Marc Lacey, National editor, had warned Tom Bodkin, chief creative officer of The Times, that the milestone was coming. ''I wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we're living through,'' Mr. Lacey said in an email.
For the front page of the paper, two ideas stood out: either a grid of hundreds of pictures of those who had lost their lives to Covid-19, or an ''all type'' concept, Mr. Bodkin said. Whichever approach was chosen, he said, ''we wanted to take over the entire page.''
The all-type concept came to the fore. Such a treatment ''would be hugely dramatic,'' he said.
The design references that of centuries-old newspapers, which Mr. Bodkin is keenly interested in. For many years after The Times started publishing in 1851, there were no headlines, in the modern sense.
Updated May 20, 2020
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.
How can I protect myself while flying?If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
Is 'Covid toe' a symptom of the disease?There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.
Can I go to the park?Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don't live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.
How do I take my temperature?Taking one's temperature to look for signs of fever is not as easy as it sounds, as ''normal'' temperature numbers can vary, but generally, keep an eye out for a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you don't have a thermometer (they can be pricey these days), there are other ways to figure out if you have a fever, or are at risk of Covid-19 complications.
Should I wear a mask?The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don't need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don't replace hand washing and social distancing.
What should I do if I feel sick?If you've been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
How do I get tested?If you're sick and you think you've been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there's a chance '-- because of a lack of testing kits or because you're asymptomatic, for instance '-- you won't be able to get tested.
How can I help?Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.
''It was kind of running text with little subheads,'' Mr. Bodkin said, describing newspapers in the mid-1800s.
Online, readers can scroll down for the names, descriptive phrases and an essay written by Dan Barry, a Times reporter and columnist. The number ''one hundred thousand'' tolls again and again.
Mr. Bodkin said he did not remember any front pages without images during his 40 years at The Times, ''though there have been some pages with only graphics,'' he said, adding, ''This is certainly a first in modern times.''
Inside the paper, the list continues, threaded with an essay by Dan Barry, a Times reporter and columnist. But mostly there are names. More names, and more lives lost.
Follow the @ReaderCenter on Twitter for more coverage highlighting your perspectives and experiences and for insight into how we work.
White House Considers Panel To Investigate "Left-Wing Bias" In Silicon Valley | Zero Hedge
Anonymously-sourced media reports published Saturday morning claimed that the White House is looking into the establishment of a panel to investigate complaints of "left-wing bias" in the tech world.
Since the earliest days of his presidential campaign, President Trump has alleged that the mainstream media - CNN, the NYT & WaPo - and Silicon Valley - FB, Twitter, Alphabet, Amazon etc. - were conspiring to try and suppress pro-Trump viewpoints on their platforms, while joining together to promote stories that slammed Trump as a racist and a Russian puppet. Many independent media organizations - including Zero Hedge - have been banned from Twitter, Facebook etc for flimsy reasons.
President Trump infuriated the left after mocking a local TV news reporter who was harassed by pro-Trump protesters at a recent rally. The president has repeatedly alleged that the "far-left" has hijacked the American mainstream media, and has hinted in the past that he planned to take action, though many undoubtedly interpreted these threats as just more of Trump's trademark bluster.
The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events. Thank you Michelle! https://t.co/ZQfcfD3Hk9
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020Trump has repeatedly called out what he sees as examples of media bias against him, and revels in taunting the press with boasts about how he and his campaign will once again ride to victory in November.
This is why it's not really the Lamestream Media, it's the Rigged Media....and it is what I'm up against. It was corrupt in 2016. Now it is much more corrupt, and what you are seeing is the least of it....but WE WILL WIN AGAIN! https://t.co/UXyOrQ7fXW
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2020The Lamestream Media is truly out of control. Look how they work (conspire!) together. They are the Enemy of the People, but don't worry, we will WIN in November! https://t.co/3YOSChXP9M
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020An anonymous Trump administration official reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that 'left wing bias' is a genuine concern for the president.
"Left-wing bias in the tech world is a concern that definitely needs to be addressed from our vantage point, and at least exposed [so] that Americans have clear eyes about what we're dealing with," an anonymous White House official reportedly told the Wall Street Journal.
Several 'experts' quoted by WSJ and others - as well as Twitter itself - insisted that the platforms are totally devoid of political bias. Though the pattern of banning conservative-leaning voices on flimsy pretexts, while allowing left-wingers to make threats and seemingly violate the terms of service whenever, has become - for many - impossible to ignore.
Various ideas have been considered, including forming a committee under the auspices of the White House, or pushing the FTC and FEC to adopt a more aggressive tack while investigating these complaints.
Though this is an anonymously sourced report and in no way (at least, as far as we know) representative of an official commication from the White House, we suspect Trump's critics will seize on it as just the latest example of how Trump is more worried about winning a second term than whether your grandparents live or die.
Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden Reportedly Propose Own Plan for EU Economic Recovery - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden on Saturday presented their own plan for the recovery of the European economy on the basis of loans, as an alternative to the proposal of Germany and France to create a 500-billion euro foundation ($550 billion), Austrian Der Standard newspaper reported.
According to the media outlet, the proposal of the four EU countries prescribes the creation of the foundation, from which the most coronavirus affected member states will be able to get assistance in the form of loans and not subsidies as proposed by Germany and France.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron launched the initiative, which plans to allocate the funds to the EU economies that have been most severely affected by the epidemiological and economic crisis.
The plan has received the support of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, although Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stated that he, and the leaders of Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands, believe that support should be provided by loans, rather than raising member state contributions.
On May 6, the European Commission said in its forecast that the eurozone's GDP would see a 7.7 percent decrease in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and then grow again by 6.3 percent in 2021.
Commenting on the projections, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni expressed a belief that the bloc had entered the "deepest economic recession in its history."
Eat Bugs: EU Promotes Less Meat, More 'Alternative Proteins'
Europeans must move to a ''more plant-based diet'', according to new EU food policy, which also revealed the bloc will promote ''insect-based proteins and meat substitutes''.
The European Commission's Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy for creating a ''fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly'' food system insists that such a transition ''will not happen without a shift in people's diets''.
''Moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce not only risks of life-threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system,'' asserts the strategy, which was unveiled Wednesday.
In order to promote such a diet, the strategy said research in Europe will focus on ''increasing the availability and source of alternative proteins such as plant, microbial, marine, and insect-based proteins and meat substitutes.''
Would you switch to an insect-based diet? Although insects are viewed as a highly promising solution to the challenges facing the food industry, many Europeans still see them as novelty food at best.@EURACTIVBerlin reports.https://t.co/15bRNTc0oO
'-- EURACTIV (@EURACTIV) March 7, 2020
A change in eating habits is ''critical'' to reducing obesity, according to the Commission, which also acknowledges in its F2F Strategy that Europeans want food that is ''fresh [and] less processed''.
It is unclear how promoting a move to eat less meat will address these concerns, however, as plant-based meat substitutes are considered to be ''ultra-processed'' foods, which research has linked to weight gain as well as poor health and early death.
Some activists were disappointed with the strategy, an earlier draft of which reportedly suggested that the Commission would propose to ''stop stimulating production or consumption of meat''.
The Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe), which lobbies on behalf of the plant-based meat substitute industry, hailed the strategy as a ''significant step forward'', claiming so-called alternative proteins ''play a critical role in Europe's transition to a more sustainable, healthy and just food system''.
Swedish Govt Spends Millions Telling Citizens To Eat Insects To End Global Warming https://t.co/V8WDCPE2KX pic.twitter.com/tGJryqxhQh
'-- Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 28, 2016
According to the EU document, the F2F Strategy is ''at the heart of'' the European Green Deal, the Commission's ''roadmap'''' to making Europe ''the first climate-neutral continent by 2050''.
''It maps a new, sustainable and inclusive growth strategy to boost the economy, improve people's health and quality of life, care for nature, and leave no one behind,'' boasts the unelected EU executive.
Many scientists are sceptical about plans to drastically slash carbon emissions, however, with Cambridge engineering professor Michael Kelly warning that scrapping reliable energy sources such as coal and nuclear in favour of renewables would be an act of ''total madness'' that would necessarily result in a collapse of living standards.
''In energy terms the current generation of renewable energy technologies alone will not enable a civilized modern society to continue,'' the Hughes Medal-decorated physicist wrote, in a 2016 paper which noted that renewables supplied only seven per cent of global electricity needs while ''the rate at which fossil fuels are growing is seven times that at which the low carbon energies are growing''.
''The call to decarbonize the global economy by 80 per cent by 2050 can now only be described as glib in my opinion, as the underlying analysis shows it is only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society,'' he warned.
Eat In a Pod, Get Hair Cut In a Mask: Europe's Lockdown Takes Strange Turn https://t.co/oRhQhNtuW6
'-- Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 19, 2020
Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London
Trump to Withdraw U.S. From 'Open Skies' Treaty - The New York Times
The president held out the possibility of negotiations with the Russians that could save American participation in the accord. But even some of his own aides said success for that seemed unlikely.
President Trump's decision may be viewed as more evidence that he is preparing to exit the one major arms treaty remaining with Russia: New START, which limits the number of deployed nuclear missiles. Credit... Doug Mills/The New York Times May 21, 2020Updated 5:51 p.m. ET
President Trump has decided to withdraw from another major arms control accord, he and other officials said Thursday, and will inform Russia that the United States is pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, negotiated three decades ago to allow nations to fly over each other's territory with elaborate sensor equipment to assure that they are not preparing for military action.
Mr. Trump's decision may be viewed as more evidence that he is preparing to exit the one major arms treaty remaining with Russia: New START, which limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each. It expires in February, weeks after the next presidential inauguration, and Mr. Trump has insisted that China must join what is now a U.S.-Russia limit on nuclear arsenals.
Even as the administration disclosed Mr. Trump's intention to withdraw from the Open Skies agreement, the president held out the possibility of negotiations with the Russians that could save American participation in the accord.
''There's a chance we may make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together,'' he said outside the White House. ''I think what's going to happen is we're going to pull out and they're going to come back and want to make a deal.''
That seems unlikely, even his own aides said. Yet at the same time, his newly appointed arms negotiator, Marshall Billingslea, said the administration planned to hold detailed conversations with the Russians over the future of New START. But the Chinese do not appear to be participating in that first meeting, even though Mr. Billingslea insisted that he was ''confident'' they would ultimately join.
So far, though, the Chinese have indicated no interest in limitations on their own nuclear arsenal, which is about a fifth of the size of the United States' and Russia's, and some critics of the administration's approach say the insistence on Beijing's participation is a poison pill to scuttle the treaty.
American officials have long complained that Moscow was violating the Open Skies accord by not permitting flights over a city where it was believed Russia was deploying nuclear weapons that could reach Europe, as well as forbidding flights over major Russian military exercises. (Satellites, the main source for gathering intelligence, are not affected by the treaty.)
''You reach a point at which you need to say enough is enough,'' Mr. Billingslea said. ''The United States cannot keep participating in this treaty if Russia is going to violate it with impunity.''
American officials also note that Mr. Trump was angered by a Russian flight directly over his Bedminster, N.J., golf estate in 2017. And in classified reports, the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies have contended that the Russians are also using flights over the United States to map out critical American infrastructure that could be hit by conventional weapons or cyberattacks.
William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement that the surveys of such civilian targets were ''posing an unacceptable risk to our national security.''
But such collection was not prohibited under the treaty and much of the information is now publicly available on Google Earth and from commercial imagery.
Mr. Trump's decision, rumored for some time, is bound to further aggravate European allies, including those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, who are also signatories to the treaty.
They are likely to remain in the accord, which has nearly three dozen signatories, but have warned that with Washington's exit, Russia will almost certainly respond by also cutting off their flights, which the allies use to monitor troop movements on their borders '-- especially important to the Baltic nations.
For Mr. Trump, the decision is the third time he has renounced a major arms control treaty.
Two years ago, he abandoned the Iran nuclear accord negotiated by President Barack Obama. Last year he left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, again saying that he would not participate in a treaty that he said Russia was violating. When he announced his intention to withdraw, he said, as he did today, that he thought the Russians would seek a new deal; they did not.
The Open Skies Treaty was negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At the time '-- a moment of relative warmth between the two countries that proved fleeting '-- the idea was to reduce the chances of accidental war by making troop movements and the placement of new missiles and armaments evident. It was hardly a new idea: It was first presented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the summer of 1955 and rejected by Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, as an elaborate plan to spy on a weaker foe.
Eisenhower Describes Treaty on Open SkiesArchival footage of President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposing that the United States and the Soviet Union conduct surveillance of each other's territory as a defense against a surprise attack.Announcer: ''At his White House press conference, the president's comments on the Power's spy case and on America's foreign intelligence activities.'' ''No one wants another Pearl Harbor. This means that we must have knowledge of military forces and preparations around the world, especially those capable of massive surprise attack. Secrecy in the Soviet Union makes this essential. In most of the world, no large-scale attack could be prepared in secret. But in the Soviet Union, there is a fetish of secrecy and concealment. This is a major cause of international tension and uneasiness, today. Our deterrence must never be placed in jeopardy. The safety of the whole free world demands this. We prefer and work for a different kind of world, and a different way of obtaining the information essential to competence and effective deterrence. Open societies in the day of present weapons are the only answer. This was the reason for my Open Skies proposal in 1955 which I was ready, yes indeed, to put into effect to permit aerial observation over the United States and the Soviet Union, which would assure that no surprise attack was being prepared against anyone. I shall bring up the Open Skies proposal again at Paris. It is a means of ending concealment.''
Archival footage of President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposing that the United States and the Soviet Union conduct surveillance of each other's territory as a defense against a surprise attack. Credit Credit... Associated Press It now has less relevance than it did then or even when it finally went into effect, in 2002, a decade after it was signed. Modern commercial satellite photography is widely and cheaply available, though it cannot replace all the information available through an airplane's sensors.
''The concept of Open Skies, starting with President Eisenhower, was to give insight and build confidence related to military intentions, among other things,'' Mr. Billingslea, a veteran of the George W. Bush Pentagon and considered a hard-liner on Russia, said in an interview. ''But it no longer is serving that purpose because of so many Russian violations.''
He cited Russian moves to make it impossible for the United States to send flights over Kaliningrad, Georgia and Russia's own large military exercises.
Nonetheless, European nations regard the regular flights '-- conducted by the United States, Britain and smaller powers '-- as an important continuing engagement with Russia, even if Moscow has increasingly blocked flight plans that seem permissible under the treaty.
Russia has said that the engagement in the treaty is valuable. Mr. Billingslea and his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, disagree.
Representative Eliot L. Engel, the New York Democrat who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Mr. Trump's move illegal, noting that the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requires that the president give Congress 120 days' notice before beginning the withdrawal process. Mr. Trump signed that act.
''There is something particularly dangerous about a president, a secretary of state and a secretary of defense knowingly breaking the law in ways that jeopardize our safety and national security,'' Mr. Engel said in a statement. ''With this decision, that is exactly what they've chosen to do.''
Under the terms of the treaty, Mr. Trump's formal notice to Russia and the other signatories starts a six-month clock toward final withdrawal. It requires a meeting of all the signatories within 60 days.
To the extent that foreign policy becomes an issue in the presidential campaign, the withdrawal from this treaty, along with the previous two, could become a debating point. On Monday, Antony J. Blinken, the top foreign policy adviser to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said that ''I would be very much in favor of staying engaged in Open Skies.''
Conservatives have been pressing Mr. Trump to withdraw for some time, despite his own periodic musings about his friendship with President Vladimir V. Putin, which he repeated on Thursday. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a longtime proponent of withdrawal, said in a statement, ''It was long past time for the United States to withdraw from this treaty and stop allowing Russia to use our skies to spy on the American people.''
But that was the entire premise of the Eisenhower plan: that the ''spying'' would, in fact, build confidence that neither side was preparing for military action. The treaty was imagined as a way to verify the movement and exercises of conventional forces, though it also played some role in tracking the movement of tactical nuclear weapons as the Russians placed more aimed at targets in Western Europe.
''The transparency it provides has helped prevent miscalculation and misunderstandings that could have otherwise led to conflict,'' said John F. Tierney, a former Democratic representative from Massachusetts who is the executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. ''This has become a reckless pattern'' for the Trump administration.
Open Skies is a comparatively small treaty; the bigger issue will be the fate of New START.
For more than a year, Mr. Trump has said he would not renew the New START treaty, negotiated by Mr. Obama in 2010, unless China also joined. Beijing has rejected the idea. And it is unclear how that might work even if China agreed to enter the treaty. With 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons each, the United States and Russia would never be willing to reduce their arsenals to the 300 or so held by China. And allowing China to build up to American and Russian levels seems to defeat the purpose of arms control.
Mr. Pompeo has suggested that not all nuclear powers need to have the same number of nuclear weapons. But the idea that China would willingly agree to a small arsenal, especially at a moment of great tension with the United States, seems hard to imagine.
In a briefing for reporters Thursday afternoon, Mr. Billingslea said that he and his Russian counterparts had agreed to meet on the future of the New START treaty, and that the United States would insist that any negotiations include the Chinese. He said he was confident the Chinese would participate.
''The Chinese have an obligation to negotiate with us in good faith,'' he said. ''We also know they want to be treated as a great power, and what better way to do so'' than entering into negotiations with Moscow and Washington.
''We will have to have very tough verification measures'' for any new accord, he said.
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Trump Administration Discussed Possibility of Nuclear Test, First Time Since 1992, Report Claims - Sputnik International
Military & Intelligence05:22 GMT 23.05.2020(updated 05:41 GMT 23.05.2020) Get short URL
The report emerged as the United States expressed a desire to include China in the New START treaty and hopes of entering into "good faith" negotiations with Russia to discuss the establishment of a new arms countrol regime.
The Trump administration weighed the possibility of conducting the nation's first nuclear test since 1992, reversing a decades-old ban on such actions, according to The Washington Post, citing unnamed official sources familiar with the matter.
The discussion reportedly took place at a meeting of senior officials from various national security agencies on 15 May and followed accusations of Russia and China violating the so-called "zero yield" standard with either low-yield or underground tests, which is not only something that both countries denied, but is also not supported by any viable evidence.
One of the cited administration sources suggested that the move could be useful in negotiating a trilateral agreement to regulate the threee nations' arsenals, apparently referring to an idea being pushed by Washington of China joining an updated version of the New START treaty, which is set to expire in February 2021.
According to a reporter from Time magazine, the first steps toward resuming nuclear tests in the US were made in 2017. At the time, an unnamed National Nuclear Security Administration official told the reporter that nuclear tests could potentially be conducted for "political purposes".
A National Nuclear Security Administration official told me at that the time that such a test would not be to ensure a weapon works, which would necessitate diagnostic equipment, sensors & the like, but rather for ''political purposes.''
'-- W.J. Hennigan (@wjhenn) May 23, 2020'Per a source, cited by The Washington Post, the reported meeting didn't conclude with an agreement regarding the possibility of conducting a nuclear test, with another source saying that a decision was "ultimately made" to take other measures in response to alleged "threats posed by Russia and China" and to avoid a resumption of testing.
Some experts are concerned that such a move could send a poor signal to countries like North Korea and cast doubt on the need to stick to the moratorium on nuclear testing.
"It would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit. It would be the starting gun to an unprecedented nuclear arms race. You would also disrupt the negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who may no longer feel compelled to honour his moratorium on nuclear testing", Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told The Washington Post.As the expiration date (February 2021) for the New START treaty closes in, Russia has repeatedly invited the White House to extend the agreement without preconditions. The US, however, has insisted that China should be part of the treaty as well.
On Friday, US Special Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said that the country was seeking to create a new arms control regime that would include Russia and China, claiming that it is the "best way to avoid an unpredictable three-way arms race". The same day, US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, commenting on the possibility of the US not extending the New START treaty, said he doubted Washington would take such a step, noting that the US intends to enter into "good faith" negotiations with Russia.
Moscow, in return, expressed readiness to engage in negotiations, noting any agreement should be verifiable and that the path to an agreement "is open" if the US wants it.
China, however, has refused to enter any trilateral agreement with Russia and the US, insisting that it is up to Moscow and Washington to fulfil the obligations to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons in the world.
Nuclear tests were banned by the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) signed in 1963 by the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Some 123 other states have since become part of the treaty. In 1974, the USSR and the US signed an additional agreement curbing underground nuclear tests.
Just turning your phone on qualifies as searching it, court rules | Ars Technica
get a warrant '-- Location data requires a warrant since 2018; lock screen may now, too. Kate Cox - May 21, 2020 7:40 pm UTC
Enlarge / A close-up of the PIN entry form on a smartphone's unlock screen.
Smartphones are a rich data trove not only for marketers but also for law enforcement. Police and federal investigators love to get their hands on all that juicy personal information during an investigation. But thanks to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and all the case law built upon it, police generally need a warrant to search your phone'--and that includes just looking at the lock screen, a judge has ruled (PDF).
Usually when the topic of a phone search comes up in court, the question has to do with unlocking. Generally, courts have held that law enforcement can compel you to use your body, such as your fingerprint (or your face), to unlock a phone but that they cannot compel you to share knowledge, such as a PIN. In this recent case, however, the FBI did not unlock the phone. Instead, they only looked at the phone's lock screen for evidence.
A man from Washington state was arrested in May 2019 and was indicted on several charges related to robbery and assault. The suspect, Joseph Sam, was using an unspecified Motorola smartphone. When he was arrested, he says, one of the officers present hit the power button to bring up the phone's lock screen. The filing does not say that any officer present attempted to unlock the phone or make the suspect do so at the time.
In February 2020, the FBI also turned the phone on to take a photograph of the phone's lock screen, which displayed the name "Streezy" on it. Sam's lawyer filed a motion arguing that this evidence should not have been sought without a warrant and should therefore be suppressed.
Two issuesDistrict Judge John Coughenour of the US District Court in Seattle agreed. In his ruling, the judge determined that the police looking at the phone at the time of the arrest and the FBI looking at it again after the fact are two separate issues. Police are allowed to conduct searches without search warrant under special circumstances, Coughenour wrote, and looking at the phone's lock screen may have been permissible as it "took place either incident to a lawful arrest or as part of the police's efforts to inventory the personal effects" of the person arrested. Coughenour was unable to determine how, specifically, the police acted, and he ordered clarification to see if their search of the phone fell within those boundaries.
But where the police actions were unclear, the FBI's were both crystal clear and counter to the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, Coughenour ruled. "Here, the FBI physically intruded on Mr. Sam's personal effect when the FBI powered on his phone to take a picture of the phone's lock screen." That qualifies as a "search" under the terms of the Fourth Amendment, he found, and since the FBI did not have a warrant for that search, it was unconstitutional.
Attorneys for the government argued that Sam should have had no expectation of privacy on his lock screen'--that is, after all, what everyone who isn't you is meant to see when they try to access the phone. Instead of determining whether the lock screen is private or not, though, Coughenour found that it doesn't matter. "When the Government gains evidence by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area'--as the FBI did here'--it is 'unnecessary to consider' whether the government also violated the defendant's reasonable expectation of privacy," he wrote.
Basically, he ruled, the FBI pushing the button on the phone to activate the lock screen qualified as a search, regardless of the lock screen's nature.
Google Begins Encrypting Domain Name Lookups 05/20/2020
In a move touted as boosting privacy and security, Googleon Tuesday rolled out a relatively new encryption technology for domain name look-ups.
The technology, called ''DNS over HTTPS,'' uses a secure protocol to communicate with theDomain Name System -- often described as a phone book for the web. The Domain Name System translates the addresses typed into a URL bar into IP addresses.
The Chrome 83 browser will now usethat protocol by default for users if their current Domain Name System provider supports it. Providers that support the encryptioncurrently include Comcast, Cloudflare, OpenDNS and Google Public DNS. People who don't want the setting willbe able to disable it.
The new technology will help ''prevent attackers from observing what sites you visit or sending you to phishing websites,'' Chrome product manager KenjiBaheux wrote in a blog post Tuesday.
Google adds that encrypting domain name lookups will also enableChrome to protect users' privacy, particularly if they are sharing an internet connection. ''Chrome can talk to the DNS service provider over an encrypted channel which means that attackers canno longer rely on DNS to observe which websites other users are visiting when sharing the same connection, e.g. public WiFi in a library,'' Baheux wrote.
Google's move comes three monthsafter Mozilla's Firefox browser also began encrypting domain name lookups.
Consumer advocacy groups including Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Watchdog and National Consumers Leaguehave endorsed the shift toward encrypted domain names. The organizations told Congress last year that the encryption technology would combat''a situation in which all sorts of sensitive user data were exposed to an enormous range of eavesdroppers.''
Comcast fights Google's encrypted-DNS plan but promises not to spy on users | Ars Technica
Comcast defends privacy record '-- Comcast makes privacy pledge as it fights Google plan to encrypt DNS in Chrome. Jon Brodkin - Oct 25, 2019 6:10 pm UTC
Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018.
Comcast has gone on the record to say that it does not track its broadband users' Web browsing histories, even though the company is lobbying against a Google plan that could make it harder for ISPs to track their users.
Comcast yesterday released a statement titled "The Facts about Privacy with Comcast's Xfinity Internet Service." Comcast said:
Where you go on the Internet is your business, not ours. As your Internet Service Provider, we do not track the websites you visit or apps you use through your broadband connection. Because we don't track that information, we don't use it to build a profile about you and we have never sold that information to anyone.
Comcast further said that it does not and has never sold "information that identifies who you are to anyone," and the company claims it has never sold location data gathered from Comcast's mobile service. Comcast also said it deletes DNS queries generated by its Internet customers every 24 hours "except in very specific cases where we need to research a security or network performance issue, protect against security threats, or comply with a valid legal request."
Comcast's statement came one day after Motherboard ran an article titled "Comcast Is Lobbying Against Encryption That Could Prevent it From Learning Your Browsing History."
In the article, Motherboard published a lobbying presentation that it says Comcast has been distributing to US lawmakers. The Comcast slide deck claims that a Google/Mozilla plan to send DNS queries over the encrypted HTTPS protocol would "centraliz[e] a majority of worldwide DNS data with Google" and "give one provider control of Internet traffic routing and vast amounts of new data about consumers and competitors." When contacted by Ars, Comcast did not confirm or deny that it is distributing the slide deck to lawmakers.
The broadband industry's major lobby groups have also been complaining to Congress about Google's plan for DNS over HTTPS, or simply DoH. Google has said its plan for the Chrome browser is to "check if the user's current DNS provider is among a list of DoH-compatible providers, and upgrade to the equivalent DoH service from the same provider." Google's public DNS system is one of six providers on the list, which also includes Cleanbrowsing, Cloudflare, DNS.SB, OpenDNS, and Quad9.
If what Google says is accurate, the company will not switch any Chrome users to Google DNS. If a Chrome user relies on their ISP's DNS or uses another DNS provider that isn't on the list, Chrome would make no changes for that user. If a Chrome user is using one of the five non-Google options on the list, Chrome would switch the user to the encrypted version of that provider's DNS system, not to Google's.
Mozilla plans a more aggressive rollout of encrypted DNS for Firefox, but Comcast and other ISPs have primarily expressed concerns about Google. Google has said that it "has no plans to centralize or change people's DNS providers to Google by default" and that "any claim that we are trying to become the centralized encrypted DNS provider is inaccurate."
ISPs exaggerate scope of Google planThat hasn't stopped ISPs from urging Congress to intervene and claiming (apparently falsely) that Google plans to automatically switch DNS requests on Chrome for desktops and Chrome for Android to its own DNS servers. A letter to Congress from lobby groups including NCTA, which represents Comcast, claims that Google is making its own DNS service "the encrypted DNS lookup provider by default" on both Chrome and Android.
Comcast's presentation for lawmakers claims that Google's plan means that "ISPs and other enterprises will be precluded from seeing and resolving their users' DNS queries and will be bypassed in favor of Google's own DNS resolver, i.e., Google Public DNS."
"With close to 70 percent of the browser market and over 80 percent of the mobile operating system market globally, Google/Mozilla's unilateral move will profoundly remake the Internet to Google's liking by centralizing DNS data in Google's hands," Comcast said.
Comcast further said that "Google's unilateral imposition of default, centralized DNS encryption will harm key components of the Internet" and that "Congress should demand that Google pause and answer key questions." Here are some of the questions that Comcast says Congress should force Google to answer:
How will Google address security concerns that arise from having just a single DNS resolver for a large proportion of US Internet traffic?Is it good for Google to be the sole source of malware protection for the entire US Internet ecosystem?Given Google's market power in the browser and OS market, and because Google is attempting to seize control of DNS data, does this raise competitive concerns?Will consumer's [sic] be given a meaningful choice to avoid Google and Mozilla's DNS services'--how will Google explain the risks to customers?How will Google support parental controls and content filtering? Will such services be provided exclusively by Google and/or those it does business with?Comcast's opposition to Google's plans could raise concerns that Comcast is tracking its broadband users' browsing activity. Those same concerns were raised when Comcast and other ISPs
lobbied Congress to kill broadband privacy rules in 2017. The federal government's decision to eliminate privacy rules at the broadband industry's request means that companies like Comcast are not prohibited from using customers' browsing histories to sell targeted ads or from sharing customers' browsing histories with third parties.
Comcast defended its privacy practices at the time, saying that it doesn't sell its users' Web browsing histories.
What is Comcast worried about?But if Comcast isn't tracking its users, why is it so concerned about Google's DNS plans? Comcast's presentation says that Google deploying encrypted DNS would "create challenges for content delivery, content protection, law enforcement, and ISP customer support/troubleshooting" and "undermine network service quality and performance'--including 5G."
In a statement to Ars, Comcast said it supports encrypted DNS but that it "want[s] to make sure that it is implemented in a careful, collaborative manner for the benefit of Internet customers to ensure that important parental controls, cybersecurity protections, and network security features are not broken in the process." Comcast said it would support a "collaborative, industry-wide solution that protects everyone," but not "unilateral action" by Google and Mozilla.
Comcast's other statement about its privacy practices doesn't name Google, but the cable company is clearly trying to draw a distinction between the privacy of its own service and the privacy of Google's.
"We've never used [DNS query] data for any sort of marketing or advertising'--and we have never sold it to anyone," Comcast said.
Google makes most of its revenue from advertising and collects browsing data in order to target ads at users. But Google says that Google Public DNS is not used to serve ads and that it doesn't correlate IP addresses or location data with users' personal information.
Comcast runs an advertising businessWhile Comcast says it doesn't track its users' browsing history, Comcast does sell online ads for "multiple premium, high-traffic online destinations" through its advertising business.
Comcast's website says that it may target online ads based on users' information, though apparently not their browsing histories:
Comcast may sell graphical display, text, and other ads, and deliver promotional offers for its products and services, on the Comcast Web Services and other digital properties. These ads and promotional offers may be based on information that you have provided to Comcast or its affiliates (such as the ZIP code of your Xfinity Internet service address), information about your current subscription or use of Comcast's or its affiliates' products or services, or other generally available information about you.
Comcast also sells targeted ads on its cable TV service.
Since Comcast already operates an advertising platform, it probably wouldn't be difficult for the company to track its broadband users' browsing histories in order to serve targeted ads. (AT&T used to do exactly that.) Comcast may not track browsing activity today, but its lobbying against privacy rules and Google's DNS plans could help Comcast keep its options open.
Google faces antiturst probe for trying to make Chrome safer
Google has been subject to various antitrust investigations in the recent past. Now, fresh allegations are being dumped on the Mountain View-based tech company for planning to adopt a new internet protocol called DNS over HTTPS (DoH).
An investigation is being conducted by the US House Judiciary Committee, reports Wall Street Journal. Investigators want to assess if Google uses any personal user data gained through the DoH protocol for commercial purposes. As per WSJ, the Judiciary Committee had shared a letter with Google inquiring about its intentions to use the new protocol on September 13.
Google's quantum supremacy: What it meansGoogle/Erik Lucero Last week, Google researchers claimed to have reached "quantum supremacy," according to an article in the Financial Times. Google's paper was briefly posted on a NASA website before being removed. In it, researchers claim '...
The DNS over HTTPS protocol is designed to increase user privacy and prevent manipulation of DNS data by passing it over an HTTPS connection. It is also useful in preventing man-in-the-middle attacks wherein users are directed to a malicious IP address. Google is expected to test the new protocol in the Chrome browser starting next month.
If implemented, the DoH protocol could take away access to precious DNS browsing data from wireless and cable companies. The report adds, ''House investigators are worried this would give the Internet giant an unfair advantage by denying access to users' data.''
A Google spokesperson said, ''Google has no plans to centralize or change people's DNS providers to Google by default. Any claim that we are trying to become the centralized encrypted DNS provider is inaccurate.''
DoH! Google is in trouble againGoogle is no stranger to antitrust controversies. These scrutinies stem from the company's alleged abuse of dominance in advertising, search, and Android software practices. Google is undoubtedly the biggest player in all three categories '-- digital ads, search, and smartphone OS '-- in the world.
We've already seen the company incur penalties amounting to billions of dollars in Europe on the back of anti-competitive behavior. Ongoing probes in the EU region, as well as India may add a couple of more zeroes to those billions.
In the US too, 48 states recently launched a massive antitrust investigation of Google citing alleged monopolistic practices in advertising.
Incidentally, Google is not the only one testing the new privacy-focused internet protocol. Mozilla started testing it on Firefox in March 2018. The company reported promising results of its test and said that DoH queries are the same speed, if not faster, compared to DNS queries.
Connected car data used to monitor movement under coronavirus lockdown
US states are using connected car data to monitor people's movement during coronavirus lockdowns.
British company Wejo has partnered with public authorities in eight US states to pass on information about where people are travelling to and why.
The Chester-based startup said it had seen a significant uptick in inquiries from health authorities interested in tracking citizens' behaviour.
Chief executive Richard Barlow said the company had signed up seven new public sector clients last month and is now providing anonymised data to authorities in eight US states.
''We're helping DOTs (departments of transport) understand about the fundamental changes of behaviours during Covid,'' he said.
''Are people still visiting the beach? Are they doing essential shopping or are they doing more leisure shopping? That's where we've found that we have had such huge demand.''
Wejo does not yet have government partnerships in the UK or Europe but plans to begin establishing these later this year.
The data is collected from cars made by the company's partners, which include German brand Daimler. Participating states include North Carolina and Florida.
In Georgia the company's data showed that most people's first outing after the state lockdown lifted at the start of May was a round trip, often to a drive-through restaurant, narrowly beating out a visit to friends and family.
Twitter, WhatsApp in firing line as Ireland submits first draft GDPR decisions - CNET
Twitter could be the first company to receive a major sanction under Europe's General Data Protection Regulation.
Budrul Chukrut/Getty Images Ireland's Data Protection Commission, the country's privacy watchdog, announced Friday that it's submitted a draft decision to EU supervisory authorities on whether Twitter broke European privacy laws.
It's one of multiple cases involving Silicon Valley tech giants that the Irish regulator is close to making final decisions on. Each case could result in a big fine for a company, or even an order that would require the business to temporarily or permanently stop collecting and processing the data of European citizens.
The Twitter case involves an unspecified data breach and looks at whether the company informed supervisory authorities quickly enough and if it effectively documented the details. Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
"In addition to submitting this draft decision to other EU supervisory authorities, we have this week sent a preliminary draft decision to WhatsApp Ireland Limited for their final submissions which will be taken in to account by the DPC before preparing a draft decision in that matter also," Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle said in a statement.
The inquiry into WhatsApp Ireland involves questions about the company's compliance with Articles 12 to 14 of Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including transparency around what information is shared with Facebook, which owns WhatsApp.
The DPC said it's also completed an inquiry into how Facebook processes personal data, and has now moved into the decision-making phase. In addition, it's sent draft inquiry reports to the complainants and companies concerned in two further cases, one involving WhatsApp and one involving Instagram, which also is owned by Facebook.
The announcements from the DPC come just three days before the GDPR is due to celebrate its second anniversary . The sweeping privacy law is designed to protect and empower European citizens in the digital age, and is being used as blueprint for the development of privacy legislation all over the world. If companies or organizations are found to be in breach of the GDPR, they can be issued fines of up to 20 million euros ($22.8 million), or up to 4% of their annual worldwide turnover, or be ordered to significantly alter their behavior.
Ireland is in charge of enforcing the GDPR among all Facebook brands, as well as Twitter, Apple and Google, because all the companies have their European headquarters in that country. It has a combined 18 investigations open into the companies. Last week, the DPC made its first announcement about taking action on a GDPR inquiry, but rather than a multinational tech company, it was in relation to a local public agency.
Since the GDPR came into force, only two fines have been issued to big tech companies -- one for 51,000 euros to the German subsidiary of Facebook for not appointing a local data protection officer, and one to Google for 50 million euros by French authorities over Android, which doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of Ireland.
Onlookers have been awaiting the Irish DPC's decisions, which will be a test of the GDPR's power and which have the potential to challenge the business models of Silicon Valley's most powerful companies.
Now playing: Watch this: Let's talk about why privacy settings are a problem
Wacom drawing tablets are spying on every app you open, and sending the data back to Wacom
However, Heaton's investigation found that the data collected weren't just ''bits and bobs'' but also the record of every application he opened, and what time he opened it.
Here, for instance, is Heaton's drawing tablet reporting back to Wacom via Google Analytics that he's just clicked on the Chrome browser.
You might well wonder why Wacom drawing tablets feel the need to record the name of every single application you run on your private, personal laptop and send it back to Wacom.
Even if you think there might be some customer support reason for collecting this information (rather than something more nefarious) you might well raise a querrulous eyebrow at Wacom behaving like this by default, and find it underhand that everytime the drivers for your Wacom drawing board are updated it enables what is known as the ''Wacom Experience Program'' again.
It's not ok that I have to deactivate the ''participation in the Wacom Experience Program'' after each and every update installation. Could you please ensure to remember the setting across updates? Thank you.
'-- Pascal Costanza (@p1cost) August 16, 2019
Heaton sums up his concerns with what Wacom is doing succinctly:
I care about this for two reasons.
The first is a principled fuck you. I don't care whether anything materially bad will or won't happen as a consequence of Wacom taking this data from me. I simply resent the fact that they're doing it.
The second is that we can also come up with scenarios that involve real harms. Maybe the very existence of a program is secret or sensitive information. What if a Wacom employee suddenly starts seeing entries spring up for ''Half Life 3 Test Build''? Obviously I don't care about the secrecy of Valve's new games, but I assume that Valve does.
We can get more subtle. I personally use Google Analytics to track visitors to my website. I do feel bad about this, but I've got to get my self-esteem from somewhere. Google Analytics has a ''User Explorer'' tool, in which you can zoom in on the activity of a specific user. Suppose that someone at Wacom ''fingerprints'' a target person that they knew in real life by seeing that this person uses a very particular combination of applications. The Wacom employee then uses this fingerprint to find the person in the ''User Explorer'' tool. Finally the Wacom employee sees that their target also uses ''LivingWith: Cancer Support''.
Remember, this information is coming from a device that is essentially a mouse.
iOS 13.5 Chaos: This Frustrating Problem Is Making iPhone Apps Useless
It only launched days ago, but Apple users are reporting a strange iOS 13.5 bug that's preventing apps from launching.
It only launched days ago, but Apple users are reporting a strange iOS 13.5 bug that's preventing ... [+] apps from launching.
NurPhoto via Getty ImagesApple users know the drill'--as with any software release, there are going to be bugs in the latest version of iOS. And it only dropped a couple of days ago , but it seems iOS 13.5 is already suffering from a frustrating problem, with multiple users complaining their apps won't launch due to a strange error.
The issue first emerged on Twitter, with Apple users reporting they were seeing the message, ''this app is no longer shared with you.''
According to 9to5Mac, which broke the news, users are experiencing issues with some of their apps'--and the problem is random and not confined to any specific app. It's apparently related to iCloud Family Sharing, but it doesn't mean there's a problem with your iCloud account, 9to5 Mac says.
So what's going on? It's probably an Apple server issue preventing iOS from verifying that you've already bought the app you are trying to open.
In full, the error message reads: ''This app is no longer shared with you. To use it, you must buy it from the App Store.''
There's no way of getting rid of the error message'--you can only cancel the prompt or you are redirected to the App Store. Some users have overcome the issue by reinstalling the affected apps.
MORE FROM FORBES New iPhone 12 Leak: Apple's Best Security Feature Just Got Even Better By Kate O'Flaherty Apple hasn't confirmed the problem yet, but hopefully it will fix it soon, so however frustrating it is, it might be better to hold on tight and wait.
Apple's iOS 13.5 is certainly a big update'--it includes vital features such as the ability to easily unlock your phone while wearing a mask. It will of course also feature security fixes, so I wouldn't recommend you avoid updating your phone due to this bug.
The problem came after another big iOS issue in May, which saw Apple users' apps crashing due to a now-fixed issue in the Facebook software development kit (SDK) used by many apps for sign in.
As for this latest problem, you can check Apple's System Status page or my page for updates. I'll update this article as soon as I can.
Hydroxychloroquine coronavirus: FDA appears to soften stance on drug after Trump says he takes it
A bottle of Prasco Laboratories Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate is arranged for a photograph in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
Christopher Occhicone | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that taking hydroxychloroquine is "ultimately" a choice between patients and their health-care providers, appearing to soften its earlier advisory against taking the anti-malaria drug outside of a hospital.
"The decision to take any drug is ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement to CNBC. "Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already FDA-approved for treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis."
The comments came a day after President Donald Trump said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine daily for over a week to prevent infection from the coronavirus. He said he asked his White House physician about the drug. "I asked him, 'What do you think?' He said, 'Well, if you'd like it.' I said, 'Yeah, I'd like it. I'd like to take it.'"
However, in a warning issued last month, the FDA advised consumers against taking drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 outside a hospital or formal clinical trial due to the risk of "serious heart rhythm problems."
"Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia," the agency wrote in the notice. "We will continue to investigate risks associated with the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 and communicate publicly when we have more information."
If a health-care professional is considering use of hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19, they should check for a suitable clinical trial and consider enrolling the patient, the FDA said at the time.
Hydroxychloroquine, which has been repeatedly touted by Trump as a potential game-changer in fighting the coronavirus, is also often used by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Numerous clinical trials are looking to see if it's effective in fighting the coronavirus, but it has not been formally approved for Covid-19.
Even though it hasn't been approved to treat coronavirus, doctors can give the drug to patients in a common and legal practice known as "off-label" prescribing. "Off label" means the drug is being used for an ailment not yet approved by the FDA.
Earlier Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said he was not taking the drug, unlike Trump.
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley released a memo Monday evening, which said that after discussing evidence for and against hydroxychloroquine with Trump, they concluded "the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks."
Trump said that he is also taking zinc, and that he has taken an initial dose of azithromycin, or Z-Pak.
He said that if the drug wasn't good he'd "tell you." He said he's gotten "a lot of tremendously positive news on the hydroxy, and I say hey '-- you know the expression I've used, John? What do you have to lose?"
"I'm not going to get hurt by it. It's been around for 40 years," he said. "For malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it. Front-line workers take it. A lot of doctors take it ... I take it."
Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis - The Lancet
Summary BackgroundHydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with a second-generation macrolide, are being widely used for treatment of COVID-19, despite no conclusive evidence of their benefit. Although generally safe when used for approved indications such as autoimmune disease or malaria, the safety and benefit of these treatment regimens are poorly evaluated in COVID-19.
MethodsWe did a multinational registry analysis of the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19. The registry comprised data from 671 hospitals in six continents. We included patients hospitalised between Dec 20, 2019, and April 14, 2020, with a positive laboratory finding for SARS-CoV-2. Patients who received one of the treatments of interest within 48 h of diagnosis were included in one of four treatment groups (chloroquine alone, chloroquine with a macrolide, hydroxychloroquine alone, or hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide), and patients who received none of these treatments formed the control group. Patients for whom one of the treatments of interest was initiated more than 48 h after diagnosis or while they were on mechanical ventilation, as well as patients who received remdesivir, were excluded. The main outcomes of interest were in-hospital mortality and the occurrence of de-novo ventricular arrhythmias (non-sustained or sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation).
Findings96'032 patients (mean age 53·8 years, 46·3% women) with COVID-19 were hospitalised during the study period and met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 14'888 patients were in the treatment groups (1868 received chloroquine, 3783 received chloroquine with a macrolide, 3016 received hydroxychloroquine, and 6221 received hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide) and 81'144 patients were in the control group. 10'698 (11·1%) patients died in hospital. After controlling for multiple confounding factors (age, sex, race or ethnicity, body-mass index, underlying cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, diabetes, underlying lung disease, smoking, immunosuppressed condition, and baseline disease severity), when compared with mortality in the control group (9·3%), hydroxychloroquine (18·0%; hazard ratio 1·335, 95% CI 1·223''1·457), hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (23·8%; 1·447, 1·368''1·531), chloroquine (16·4%; 1·365, 1·218''1·531), and chloroquine with a macrolide (22·2%; 1·368, 1·273''1·469) were each independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality. Compared with the control group (0·3%), hydroxychloroquine (6·1%; 2·369, 1·935''2·900), hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (8·1%; 5·106, 4·106''5·983), chloroquine (4·3%; 3·561, 2·760''4·596), and chloroquine with a macrolide (6·5%; 4·011, 3·344''4·812) were independently associated with an increased risk of de-novo ventricular arrhythmia during hospitalisation.
InterpretationWe were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19. Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.
FundingWilliam Harvey Distinguished Chair in Advanced Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Introduction The absence of an effective treatment against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection has led clinicians to redirect drugs that are known to be effective for other medical conditions to the treatment of COVID-19. Key among these repurposed therapeutic agents are the antimalarial drug chloroquine and its analogue hydroxychloroquine, which is used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.
1Principi N Esposito S Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis of COVID-19.
, 2Perricone C Triggianese P Bartoloni E et al.The anti-viral facet of anti-rheumatic drugs: lessons from COVID-19.
These drugs have been shown in laboratory conditions to have antiviral properties as well as immunomodulatory effects.
3Liu J Cao R Xu M et al.Hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, is effective in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro.
, 4Devaux CA Rolain JM Colson P Raoult D New insights on the antiviral effects of chloroquine against coronavirus: what to expect for COVID-19?.
However, the use of this class of drugs for COVID-19 is based on a small number of anecdotal experiences that have shown variable responses in uncontrolled observational analyses, and small, open-label, randomised trials that have largely been inconclusive.
5Tang W Cao Z Han M et al.Hydroxychloroquine in patients mainly with mild to moderate COVID-19: an open-label, randomized, controlled trial.
, 6Chen J Liu D Liu L et al.A pilot study of hydroxychloroquine in treatment of patients with moderate COVID-19.
The combination of hydroxychloroquine with a second-generation macrolide, such as azithromycin (or clarithromycin), has also been advocated, despite limited evidence for its effectiveness.
7Gautret P Lagier JC Parola P et al.Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial.
Previous studies have shown that treatment with chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, or either drug combined with a macrolide can have the cardiovascular adverse effect of prolongation of the QT interval, which could be a mechanism that predisposes to ventricular arrhythmias.
8Ray WA Murray KT Hall K Arbogast PG Stein CM Azithromycin and the risk of cardiovascular death.
, 9Giudicessi JR Noseworthy PA Friedman PA Ackerman MJ Urgent guidance for navigating and circumventing the QTc-prolonging and torsadogenic potential of possible pharmacotherapies for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).
Research in contextEvidence before this study
We searched MEDLINE (via PubMed) for articles published up to April 21, 2020, using the key words ''novel coronavirus'', ''2019-nCoV'', ''COVID-19'', ''SARS-CoV-2'', ''therapy'', ''hydroxychloroquine'', ''chloroquine'', and ''macrolide''. Moreover, we screened preprint servers, such as Medrxiv, for relevant articles and consulted the web pages of organisations such as the US National Institutes of Health and WHO. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (used with or without a macrolide) are widely advocated for treatment of COVID-19 based on in-vitro evidence of an antiviral effect against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Their use is based on small uncontrolled studies and in the absence of evidence from randomised controlled trials. Concerns have been raised that these drugs or their combination with macrolides could result in electrical instability and predispose patients to ventricular arrhythmias. Whether these drugs improve outcomes or are associated with harm in COVID-19 remains unknown.
Added value of this study
In the absence of reported randomised trials, there is an urgent need to evaluate real-world evidence related to outcomes with the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine (used with or without macrolides) in COVID-19. Using an international, observational registry across six continents, we assessed 96'032 patients with COVID-19, of whom 14'888 were treated with hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, or their combination with a macrolide. After controlling for age, sex, race or ethnicity, underlying comorbidities, and disease severity at baseline, the use of all four regimens was associated with an increased hazard for de-novo ventricular arrythmia and death in hospital. This study provides real-world evidence on the use of these therapeutic regimens by including a large number of patients from across the world. Thus, to our knowledge, these findings provide the most comprehensive evidence of the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (with or without a macrolide) for treatment of COVID-19.
Implications of all the available evidence
We found no evidence of benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine when used either alone or with a macrolide. Previous evidence was derived from either small anecdotal studies or inconclusive small randomised trials. Our study included a large number of patients across multiple geographic regions and provides the most robust real-world evidence to date on the usefulness of these treatment regimens. Although observational studies cannot fully account for unmeasured confounding factors, our findings suggest not only an absence of therapeutic benefit but also potential harm with the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine drug regimens (with or without a macrolide) in hospitalised patients with COVID-19.
Although several multicentre randomised controlled trials are underway, there is a pressing need to provide accurate clinical guidance because the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine along with macrolides is widespread, often with little regard for potential risk. Some countries have stockpiled these drugs, resulting in a shortage of these medications for those that need them for approved clinical indications.
10Peschken CA Possible consequences of a shortage of hydroxychloroquine for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19 using a large multinational registry to assess their real-world application. Principally, we sought to analyse the association between these treatment regimens and in-hospital death. Secondarily, we aimed to evaluate the occurrence of de-novo clinically significant ventricular arrhythmias.
Methods Registry features and data acquisition We did a multinational registry analysis of the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19. The registry comprised 671 hospitals located in six continents (
appendix p 3). The Surgical Outcomes Collaborative (Surgisphere Corporation, Chicago, IL, USA) consists of de-identified data obtained by automated data extraction from inpatient and outpatient electronic health records, supply chain databases, and financial records. The registry uses a cloud-based health-care data analytics platform that includes specific modules for data acquisition, data warehousing, data analytics, and data reporting. A manual data entry process is used for quality assurance and validation to ensure that key missing values are kept to a minimum. The Surgical Outcomes Collaborative (hereafter referred to as the Collaborative) ensures compliance with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance on real-world evidence. Real-world data are collected through automated data transfers that capture 100% of the data from each health-care entity at regular, predetermined intervals, thus reducing the impact of selection bias and missing values, and ensuring that the data are current, reliable, and relevant. Verifiable source documentation for the elements include electronic inpatient and outpatient medical records and, in accordance with the FDA guidance on relevance of real-world data, data acquisition is performed through use of a standardised Health Level Seven-compliant data dictionary, with data collected on a prospective ongoing basis. The validation procedure for the registry refers to the standard operating procedures in place for each of the four ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013 certified features of the registry: data acquisition, data warehousing, data analytics, and data reporting.
The standardised Health Level Seven-compliant data dictionary used by the Collaborative serves as the focal point for all data acquisition and warehousing. Once this data dictionary is harmonised with electronic health record data, data acquisition is completed using automated interfaces to expedite data transfer and improve data integrity. Collection of a 100% sample from each health-care entity is validated against financial records and external databases to minimise selection bias. To reduce the risk of inadvertent protected health information disclosures, all such information is stripped before storage in the cloud-based data warehouse. The Collaborative is intended to minimise the effects of information bias and selection bias by capturing all-comer data and consecutive patient enrolment by capturing 100% of the data within electronic systems, ensuring that the results remain generalisable to the larger population. The Collaborative is compliant with the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality guidelines for registries. With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, this registry was used to collect data from hospitals in the USA (that are selected to match the epidemiological characteristics of the US population) and internationally, to achieve representation from diverse populations across six continents. Data have been collected from a variety of urban and rural hospitals, academic or community hospitals, and for-profit and non-profit hospitals. The data collection and analyses are deemed exempt from ethics review.
Study design We included all patients hospitalised between Dec 20, 2019, and April 14, 2020, at hospitals participating in the registry and with PCR-confirmed COVID-19 infection, for whom a clinical outcome of either hospital discharge or death during hospitalisation was recorded. A positive laboratory finding for SARS-CoV-2 was defined as a positive result on high-throughput sequencing or reverse transcription-quantitative PCR assay of nasal or pharyngeal swab specimens, and this finding was used for classifying a patient as positive for COVID-19. COVID-19 was diagnosed, at each site, on the basis of WHO guidance.
11 WHOClinical management of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) when novel COVID-19 disease is suspected: interim guidance.
Patients who did not have a record of testing in the database, or who had a negative test, were not included in the study. Only one positive test was necessary for the patient to be included in the analysis. Patients who received either hydroxychloroquine or a chloroquine analogue-based treatment (with or without a second-generation macrolide) were included in the treatment group. Patients who received treatment with these regimens starting more than 48 h after COVID-19 diagnosis were excluded. We also excluded data from patients for whom treatment was initiated while they were on mechanical ventilation or if they were receiving therapy with the antiviral remdesivir. These specific exclusion criteria were established to avoid enrolment of patients in whom the treatment might have started at non-uniform times during the course of their COVID-19 illness and to exclude individuals for whom the drug regimen might have been used during a critical phase of illness, which could skew the interpretation of the results. Thus, we defined four distinct treatment groups, in which all patients started therapy within 48 h of an established COVID-19 diagnosis: chloroquine alone, chloroquine with a macrolide, hydroxychloroquine alone, or hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide. All other included patients served as the control population.
Data collection Patient demographics, including age, body-mass index (BMI), sex, race or ethnicity, and continent of origin were obtained. Underlying comorbidities (based on International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision, clinical modification codes) present in either the inpatient or outpatient electronic health record were collected, which included cardiovascular disease (including coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and history of a cardiac arrhythmia), current or previous history of smoking, history of hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and presence of an immunosuppressed condition (steroid use, pre-existing immunological condition, or current chemotherapy in individuals with cancer). We collected data on use of medications at baseline, including cardiac medications (angiotensin converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and statins) or use of antiviral therapy other than the drug regimens being evaluated. The initiation of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine during hospital admission was recorded, including the time of initiation. The use of second-generation macrolides, specifically azithromycin and clarithromycin, was similarly recorded. A quick sepsis-related organ failure assessment (qSOFA) was calculated for the start of therapy (including a scored calculation of the mental status, respiratory rate, and systolic blood pressure) and oxygen saturation (SPO2) on room air was recorded, as measures of disease severity.
Outcomes The primary outcome of interest was the association between use of a treatment regimen containing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine (with or without a second-generation macrolide) when initiated early after COVID-19 diagnosis with the endpoint of in-hospital mortality. The secondary outcome of interest was the association between these treatment regimens and the occurrence of clinically significant ventricular arrhythmias (defined as the first occurrence of a non-sustained [at least 6 sec] or sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation) during hospitalisation. We also analysed the rates of progression to mechanical ventilation use and the total and intensive care unit lengths of stay (in days) for patients in each group.
Statistical analysis For the primary analysis of in-hospital mortality, we controlled for confounding factors, including demographic variables, comorbidities, disease severity at presentation, and other medication use (cardiac medications and other antiviral therapies). Categorical variables are shown as frequencies and percentages, and continuous variables as means with SDs. Comparison of continuous data between groups was done using the unpaired t-test and categorical data were compared using Fisher's exact test. A p value of less than 0·05 was considered significant. Multiple imputation for missing values was not possible because for disease and drug variables, there were no codes to indicate that data were missing; if the patient's electronic health record did not include information on a clinical characteristic, it was assumed that the characteristic was not present.
Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was done to evaluate the effect of age, sex, race or ethnicity (using white race as a reference group), comorbidities (BMI, presence of coronary artery disease, presence of congestive heart failure, history of cardiac arrhythmia, diabetes, or COPD, current smoker, history of hypertension, immunocompromised state, and history of hyperlipidaemia), medications (cardiac medications, antivirals, and the treatment regimens of interest), and severity of illness scores (qSOFA <1 and SPO2 <94%) on the risk of clinically significant ventricular arrhythmia (using the time from admission to first occurrence, or if the event did not occur, to the time of discharge) and mortality (using the time from admission to inpatient mortality or discharge). Age and BMI were treated as continuous variables and all other data were treated as categorical variables in the model. From the model, hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% CIs were estimated for included variables to determine their effect on the risk of in-hospital mortality (primary endpoint) or subsequent mechanical ventilation or death (composite endpoint). Independence of survival times (or time to first arrhythmia for the ventricular arrhythmia analysis) was confirmed. Proportionality between the predictors and the hazard was validated through an evaluation of Schoenfeld residuals, which found p>0·05 and thus confirmed proportionality.
To minimise the effect of confounding factors, a propensity score matching analysis was done individually for each of the four treatment groups compared with a control group that received no form of that therapy. For each treatment group, a separate matched control was identified using exact and propensity-score matched criteria with a calliper of 0·001. This method was used to provide a close approximation of demographics, comorbidities, disease severity, and baseline medications between patients. The propensity score was based on the following variables: age, BMI, gender, race or ethnicity, comorbidities, use of ACE inhibitors, use of statins, use of angiotensin receptor blockers, treatment with other antivirals, qSOFA score of less than 1, and SPO2 of less than 94% on room air. The patients were well matched, with standardised mean difference estimates of less than 10% for all matched parameters.
Additional analyses were done to examine the robustness of the estimates initially obtained. Individual analyses by continent of origin and sex-adjusted analyses using Cox proportional hazards models were performed. A tipping-point analysis (an analysis that shows the effect size and prevalence of an unmeasured confounder that could shift the upper boundary of the CI towards null) was also done. All statistical analyses were done with R version 3.6.3 and SPSS version 26.
Role of the funding source The funder of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report. The corresponding author and co-author ANP had full access to all the data in the study and had final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.
Results 96'032 hospitalised patients from 671 hospitals were diagnosed with COVID-19 between Dec 20, 2019, and April 14, 2020 and met the inclusion criteria for this study (
figure 1). All included patients completed their hospital course (discharged or died) by April 21, 2020. Patients who were hospitalised during the study period without a completed course were unable to be analysed. The study cohort included 63'315 (65·9%) patients from North America, 16'574 (17·3%) from Europe, 7555 (7·9%) from Asia, 4402 (4·6%) from Africa, 3577 (3·7%) from South America, and 609 (0·6%) from Australia (details of the number of hospitals per continent are presented in the
appendix, p 3). The mean age was 53·8 years (SD 17·6), 44'426 (46·3%) were women, mean BMI was 27·6 kg/m
2 (SD 5·5; 29'510 [30·7%] were obese with BMI '¥30 kg/m
2), 64'220 (66·9%) were white, 9054 (9·4%) were black, 5978 (6·2%) were Hispanic, and 13'519 (14·1%) were of Asian origin (
appendix p 4). In terms of comorbidities, 30'198 (31·4%) had hyperlipidaemia, 25'810 (26·9%) had hypertension, 13'260 (13·8%) had diabetes, 3177 (3·3%) had COPD, 2868 (3·0%) had an underlying immunosuppressed condition, 16'553 (17·2%) were former smokers, and 9488 (9·9%) were current smokers. In terms of pre-existing cardiovascular disease, 12'137 (12·6%) had coronary artery disease, 2368 (2·5%) had a history of congestive heart failure, and 3381 (3·5%) had a history of arrhythmia. The mean length of stay in hospital was 9·1 days (SD 6·4), with an overall in-hospital mortality of 10'698 (11·1%) of 96'032. The use of other antivirals was recorded in 38'927 (40·5%) patients as treatment for COVID-19. The most common antivirals were lopinavir with ritonavir (12'304 [31·6%]), ribavirin (7904 [20·3%]), and oseltamivir (5101 [13·1%]). Combination therapy with more than one of these antiviral regimens was used for 6782 (17·4%) patients.
The treatment groups included 1868 patients who were given chloroquine alone, 3016 given hydroxychloroquine alone, 3783 given chloroquine with a macrolide and 6221 given hydroxychloroquine and a macrolide. The median time from hospitalisation to diagnosis of COVID-19 was 2 days (IQR 1''4). The mean daily dose and duration of the various drug regimens were as follows: chloroquine alone, 765 mg (SD 308) and 6·6 days (2·4); hydroxychloroquine alone, 596 mg (126) and 4·2 days (1·9); chloroquine with a macrolide, 790 mg (320) and 6·8 days (2·5); and hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide, 597 mg (128) and 4·3 days (2·0). Additional details of the study cohort are provided in the
appendix (pp 4''5).
Demographic variables and comorbidities were compared among survivors and non-survivors (
table 1). Non-survivors were older, more likely to be obese, more likely to be men, more likely to be black or Hispanic, and to have diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and a history of arrhythmias. Non-survivors were also more likely to have COPD and to have reported current smoking.
Table 1 Demographics and comorbidities of patients by survival or non-survival during hospitalisation
Data are mean (SD) or n (%). BMI=body-mass index. COPD=chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. ACE=angiotensin-converting enzyme. qSOFA=quick sepsis-related organ failure assessment. SPO2=oxygen saturation. ICU=intensive care unit.
Open table in a new tab The distribution of demographics, comorbidities, and outcomes between the four treatment groups are shown in
table 2. No significant between-group differences were found among baseline characteristics or comorbidities. Ventricular arrhythmias were more common in the treatment groups compared with the control population. Mortality was higher in the treatment groups compared with the control population (p<0·0001;
appendix pp 15''18).
Table 2 Patient demographics and characteristics by treatment group
Data are mean (SD) or n (%). BMI=body-mass index. COPD=chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. qSOFA=quick sepsis-related organ failure assessment. SPO2=oxygen saturation. ICU=intensive care unit.
Open table in a new tab Independent predictors of in-hospital mortality are shown in
figure 2. Age, BMI, black race or Hispanic ethnicity (versus white race), coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, history of arrhythmia, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, COPD, being a current smoker, and immunosuppressed condition were associated with a higher risk of in-hospital death. Female sex, ethnicity of Asian origin, use of ACE inhibitors (but not angiotensin receptor blockers), and use of statins was associated with reduced in-hospital mortality risk. Compared with the control group (9·3%), hydroxychloroquine alone (18·0%; HR 1·335, 95% CI 1·223''1·457), hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (23·8%; 1·447, 1·368''1·531), chloroquine alone (16·4%; 1·365, 1·218''1·531), and chloroquine with a macrolide (22·2%; 1·368, 1·273''1·469) were independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality. The multivariable Cox regression analyses by continent are shown in the
appendix (pp 6''11), as well as data from the sex-adjusted multivariable logistic regression analyses (pp 12''13) and a separate Cox regression analysis for the combined endpoint of mechanical ventilation or mortality (p 14).
Figure 2 Independent predictors of in-hospital mortality
Show full caption Age and BMI are continuous variables. The 95% CIs have not been adjusted for multiple testing and should not be used to infer definitive effects. ACE=angiotensin-converting enzyme. BMI=body mass index. COPD=chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. HR=hazard ratio. qSOFA=quick sepsis-related organ failure assessment. SPO2=oxygen saturation.
View Large Image Figure ViewerDownload Hi-res image Download (PPT)Independent predictors of ventricular arrythmia are shown in
figure 3. Coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, history of cardiac arrhythmia, and COPD were independently associated with an increased risk of de-novo ventricular arrhythmias during hospitalisation. Compared with the control group (0·3%), hydroxychloroquine alone (6·1%; HR 2·369, 95% CI 1·935''2·900), hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide (8·1%; 5·106, 4·106''5·983), chloroquine alone (4·3%; 3·561, 2·760''4·596), and chloroquine with a macrolide (6·5%; 4·011, 3·344''4·812) were independently associated with an increased risk of de-novo ventricular arrhythmia during hospitalisation.
Figure 3 Independent predictors of ventricular arrhythmias during hospitalisation
Show full caption Age and BMI are continuous variables. The 95% CIs have not been adjusted for multiple testing and should not be used to infer definitive effects. ACE=angiotensin-converting enzyme. BMI=body mass index. COPD=chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. HR=hazard ratio. qSOFA=quick sepsis-related organ failure assessment. SPO2=oxygen saturation.
View Large Image Figure ViewerDownload Hi-res image Download (PPT)Analyses using propensity score matching by treatment group are shown in the
appendix (pp 15''18). The results indicated that the associations between the drug regimens and mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, length of stay, and the occurrence of de-novo ventricular arrhythmias were consistent with the primary analysis.
A tipping point analysis was done to assess the effects of an unmeasured confounder on the findings of significance with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine (
appendix pp 19''20). For chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and chloroquine with a macrolide, a hypothetical unobserved binary confounder with a prevalence of 50% in the exposed population would need to have an HR of 1·5 to tip this analysis to non-significance at the 5% level. For a comparison with the observed confounders in this study, if congestive heart failure (which has an HR of 1·756) were left out of the model, it would need to have a prevalence of approximately 30% in the population to lead to confounding in the analysis. Similarly, for hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide, a hypothetical unobserved binary confounder with a prevalence of 37% in the exposed population would need to have an HR of 2·0 to tip this analysis to non-significance at the 5% level. Again, congestive heart failure (which has an HR of 1·756) would need to have a prevalence of approximately 50% in the population to lead to confounding in the analysis, had it not been adjusted for in the Cox proportional hazards model.
Discussion In this large multinational real-world analysis, we did not observe any benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine (when used alone or in combination with a macrolide) on in-hospital outcomes, when initiated early after diagnosis of COVID-19. Each of the drug regimens of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with a macrolide was associated with an increased hazard for clinically significant occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias and increased risk of in-hospital death with COVID-19.
The use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in COVID-19 is based on widespread publicity of small, uncontrolled studies, which suggested that the combination of hydroxychloroquine with the macrolide azithromycin was successful in clearing viral replication.
7Gautret P Lagier JC Parola P et al.Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial.
On March 28, 2020, the FDA issued an emergency use authorisation for these drugs in patients if clinical trial access was unavailable.
12 US Food and Drug AdministrationEmergency use authorization: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) EUA information.
Other countries, such as China, have issued guidelines allowing for the use of chloroquine in COVID-19.
13Gao J Tian Z Yang X Breakthrough: chloroquine phosphate has shown apparent efficacy in treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in clinical studies.
Several countries have been stockpiling the drugs, and shortages of them for approved indications, such as for autoimmune disease and rheumatoid arthritis, have been encountered.
10Peschken CA Possible consequences of a shortage of hydroxychloroquine for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A retrospective observational review of 368 men with COVID-19 treated at the US Veterans Affairs hospitals raised concerns that the use of hydroxychloroquine was associated with a greater hazard of death; however, the baseline characteristics among the groups analysed were dissimilar and the possibility of bias cannot be ruled out.
14Magagnoli J Narendran S Pereira F et al.Outcomes of hydroxychloroquine usage in United States veterans hospitalized with COVID-19.
Another observational study in 181 patients from France reported that the use of hydroxychloroquine at a dose of 600 mg per day was not associated with a measurable clinical benefit in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
15Mahevas M Tran V-T Roumier M et al.No evidence of clinical efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in patients hospitalised for COVID-19 infection with oxygen requiremenr: results of a study using routinely collected data to emulate a target trial.
Our large-scale, international, real-world analysis supports the absence of a clinical benefit of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and points to potential harm in hospitalised patients with COVID-19.
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are associated with concerns of cardiovascular toxicity, particularly because of their known relationship with electrical instability, characterised by QT interval prolongation (the time taken for ventricular depolarisation and repolarisation). This mechanism relates to blockade of the hERG potassium channel,
16Traebert M Dumotier B Meister L Hoffmann P Dominguez-Estevez M Suter W Inhibition of hERG K+ currents by antimalarial drugs in stably transfected HEK293 cells.
which lengthens ventricular repolarisation and the duration of ventricular action potentials. Under specific conditions, early after-depolarisations can trigger ventricular arrhythmias.
9Giudicessi JR Noseworthy PA Friedman PA Ackerman MJ Urgent guidance for navigating and circumventing the QTc-prolonging and torsadogenic potential of possible pharmacotherapies for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).
Such propensity for arrhythmia provocation is more often seen in individuals with structural cardiovascular disease, and cardiac injury has been reported to occur with high frequency during COVID-19 illness.
17Shi S Qin M Shen B et al.Association of cardiac injury with mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.
, 18Guo T Fan Y Chen M et al.Cardiovascular implications of fatal outcomes of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Furthermore, individuals with cardiovascular disease represent a vulnerable population that experience worse outcomes with COVID-19.
19Bonow RO Fonarow GC O'Gara PT Yancy CW Association of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with myocardial injury and mortality.
, 20Mehra MR Desai SS Kuy S Henry TD Patel AN Cardiovascular disease, drug therapy, and mortality in COVID-19.
Pathological studies have pointed to derangements in the vascular endothelium and a diffuse endotheliitis noted across multiple organs in COVID-19.
21Varga Z Flammer AJ Steiger P et al.Endothelial cell infection and endotheliitis in COVID-19.
Whether patients with underlying cardiovascular disease and those that experience de-novo cardiovascular injury have a greater predilection to ventricular arrhythmias with chloroquine or its analogues remains uncertain but plausible. COVID-19 is exemplified by initial viral replication followed by enhanced systemic inflammation.
22Siddiqi HK Mehra MR COVID-19 illness in native and immunosuppressed states: a clinical-therapeutic staging proposal.
The use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in combination with a macrolide is designed to use their antimicrobial properties in a synergistic manner.
23Nakornchai S Konthiang P Activity of azithromycin or erythromycin in combination with antimalarial drugs against multidrug-resistant
Plasmodium falciparum in vitro.
Macrolides, such as azithromycin and clarithromycin, are antibiotics with immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects.
24Lee N Wong CK Chan MCW et al.Anti-inflammatory effects of adjunctive macrolide treatment in adults hospitalized with influenza: a randomized controlled trial.
However, these drugs prolong the QT interval and increase the risk of sudden cardiac death.
8Ray WA Murray KT Hall K Arbogast PG Stein CM Azithromycin and the risk of cardiovascular death.
, 9Giudicessi JR Noseworthy PA Friedman PA Ackerman MJ Urgent guidance for navigating and circumventing the QTc-prolonging and torsadogenic potential of possible pharmacotherapies for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).
In a preliminary analysis, Borba and colleagues
25Borba MGS Val FFA Sampaio VS et al.Effect of high vs low doses of chloroquine diphosphate as adjunctive therapy for patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection: a randomized clinical trial.
reported a double-blind, randomised trial with 81 adult patients who were hospitalised with severe COVID-19 at a tertiary care facility in Brazil. This study suggested that a higher dose of chloroquine represented a safety hazard, especially when taken concurrently with azithromycin and oseltamivir. In another cohort study of 90 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, Mercuro and colleagues
26Mercuro NJ Yen CF Shim DJ et al.Risk of QT interval prolongation associated with use of hydroxychloroquine with or without concomitant azithromycin among hospitalized patients testing positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
found that the concomitant use of a macrolide was associated with a greater change in the corrected QT interval. Our study did not examine the QT interval but instead directly analysed the risk of clinically significant ventricular arrythmias. We showed an independent association of the use of either hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with the occurrence of de-novo ventricular arrhythmias. We also note that the hazard of de-novo ventricular arrhythmias increased when the drugs were used in combination with a macrolide.
In our analysis, which was dominated by patients from North America, we noted that higher BMI emerged as a risk marker for worse in-hospital survival. Obesity is a known risk factor for cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
27Lavie CJ Arena R Alpert MA Milani RV Ventura HO Management of cardiovascular diseases in patients with obesity.
, 28Sanchis-Gomar F Lavie CJ Mehra MR Henry BM Lippi G Obesity and outcomes in COVID-19: when an epidemic and pandemic collide.
The most commonly reported arrhythmias are atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Although age, race, and BMI were predictive of an increased risk for death with COVID-19 in our analysis, they were not found to be associated with an increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias on our multivariable regression analysis. The only variables found to be independently predictive of ventricular arrhythmias were the four treatment regimens, along with underlying cardiovascular disease and COPD. Thus, the presence of cardiovascular comorbidity in the study population could partially explain the observed risk of increased cardiovascular toxicity with the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, especially when used in combination with macrolides. In this investigation, consistent with our previous findings in a smaller cohort of 8910 patients,
20Mehra MR Desai SS Kuy S Henry TD Patel AN Cardiovascular disease, drug therapy, and mortality in COVID-19.
we found that women and patients being treated with ACE inhibitors (but not angiotensin receptor blockers) or statins had lower mortality with COVID-19. These findings imply that drugs that stabilise cardiovascular function and improve endothelial cell dysfunction might improve prognosis, independent of the use of cardiotoxic drug combinations.
21Varga Z Flammer AJ Steiger P et al.Endothelial cell infection and endotheliitis in COVID-19.
Our study has several limitations. The association of decreased survival with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine treatment regimens should be interpreted cautiously. Due to the observational study design, we cannot exclude the possibility of unmeasured confounding factors, although we have reassuringly noted consistency between the primary analysis and the propensity score matched analyses. Nevertheless, a cause-and-effect relationship between drug therapy and survival should not be inferred. These data do not apply to the use of any treatment regimen used in the ambulatory, out-of-hospital setting. Randomised clinical trials will be required before any conclusion can be reached regarding benefit or harm of these agents in COVID-19 patients. We also note that although we evaluated the relationship of the drug treatment regimens with the occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias, we did not measure QT intervals, nor did we stratify the arrhythmia pattern (such as torsade de pointes). We also did not establish if the association of increased risk of in-hospital death with use of the drug regimens is linked directly to their cardiovascular risk, nor did we conduct a drug dose-response analysis of the observed risks. Even if these limitations suggest a conservative interpretation of the findings, we believe that the absence of any observed benefit could still represent a reasonable explanation.
In summary, this multinational, observational, real-world study of patients with COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation found that the use of a regimen containing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine (with or without a macrolide) was associated with no evidence of benefit, but instead was associated with an increase in the risk of ventricular arrhythmias and a greater hazard for in-hospital death with COVID-19. These findings suggest that these drug regimens should not be used outside of clinical trials and urgent confirmation from randomised clinical trials is needed.
The study was conceived and designed by MRM and ANP. Acquisition of data and statistical analysis of the data were supervised and performed by SSD. MRM drafted the manuscript and all authors participated in critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content. MRM and ANP supervised the study. All authors approved the final manuscript and were responsible for the decision to submit for publication.
Declaration of interests
MRM reports personal fees from Abbott, Medtronic, Janssen, Mesoblast, Portola, Bayer, Baim Institute for Clinical Research, NupulseCV, FineHeart, Leviticus, Roivant, and Triple Gene. SSD is the founder of Surgisphere Corporation. FR has been paid for time spent as a committee member for clinical trials, advisory boards, other forms of consulting, and lectures or presentations; these payments were made directly to the University of Zurich and no personal payments were received in relation to these trials or other activities. ANP declares no competing interests.
The development and maintenance of the Surgical Outcomes Collaborative database was funded by Surgisphere Corporation (Chicago, IL, USA). This study was supported by the William Harvey Distinguished Chair in Advanced Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, MA, USA). We acknowledge Jide Olayinka (Surgisphere) for their helpful statistical review of the manuscript.
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6 : 16 4. Devaux CA Rolain JM Colson P Raoult D New insights on the antiviral effects of chloroquine against coronavirus: what to expect for COVID-19?.
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49 : 215-219 7. Gautret P Lagier JC Parola P et al.Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial.
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366 : 1881-1890 9. Giudicessi JR Noseworthy PA Friedman PA Ackerman MJ Urgent guidance for navigating and circumventing the QTc-prolonging and torsadogenic potential of possible pharmacotherapies for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).
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() 10. Peschken CA Possible consequences of a shortage of hydroxychloroquine for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
J Rheumatol. 2020;
() 11. WHOClinical management of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) when novel COVID-19 disease is suspected: interim guidance.
12. US Food and Drug AdministrationEmergency use authorization: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) EUA information.
13. Gao J Tian Z Yang X Breakthrough: chloroquine phosphate has shown apparent efficacy in treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in clinical studies.
Biosci Trends. 2020;
14 : 72-73 14. Magagnoli J Narendran S Pereira F et al.Outcomes of hydroxychloroquine usage in United States veterans hospitalized with COVID-19.
() 15. Mahevas M Tran V-T Roumier M et al.No evidence of clinical efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in patients hospitalised for COVID-19 infection with oxygen requiremenr: results of a study using routinely collected data to emulate a target trial.
() 16. Traebert M Dumotier B Meister L Hoffmann P Dominguez-Estevez M Suter W Inhibition of hERG K+ currents by antimalarial drugs in stably transfected HEK293 cells.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2004;
484 : 41-48 17. Shi S Qin M Shen B et al.Association of cardiac injury with mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.
JAMA Cardiol. 2020;
() 18. Guo T Fan Y Chen M et al.Cardiovascular implications of fatal outcomes of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
JAMA Cardiol. 2020;
() 19. Bonow RO Fonarow GC O'Gara PT Yancy CW Association of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with myocardial injury and mortality.
JAMA Cardiol. 2020;
() 20. Mehra MR Desai SS Kuy S Henry TD Patel AN Cardiovascular disease, drug therapy, and mortality in COVID-19.
N Engl J Med. 2020;
() 21. Varga Z Flammer AJ Steiger P et al.Endothelial cell infection and endotheliitis in COVID-19.
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39 : 405-407 23. Nakornchai S Konthiang P Activity of azithromycin or erythromycin in combination with antimalarial drugs against multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in vitro.
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3 e208857 26. Mercuro NJ Yen CF Shim DJ et al.Risk of QT interval prolongation associated with use of hydroxychloroquine with or without concomitant azithromycin among hospitalized patients testing positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
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Journalist Patrick Radden Keefe has done plenty of extensive and gripping longform journalism, including his most recent book, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (which I could not recommend more highly). His newest project is a slight departure from covering topics of crime and radical separationists, but still deals heavily with espionage and subterfuge.
It's about the Scorpions, the English-speaking German rock band who rocked you like a hurricane. And also the CIA.
Here's the official blurb:
It's 1990. The Berlin Wall just fell. The Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse. And the soundtrack to the revolution is one of the best selling songs of all time, the metal ballad ''Wind of Change,'' by The Scorpions. Decades later, journalist Patrick Radden Keefe heard a rumor: the song wasn't written by The Scorpions. It was written by the CIA. This is his journey to find the truth.
Told through exclusive interviews with former CIA officers, on the ground reporting, and more - this podcast embodies the traditional tones of investigative journalism while keeping listeners on their toes through its cinematic pacing, simulating the theatricality of the critically acclaimed film Argo in a podcast. This 8-part series follows Patrick's search for the truth, a 10 year investigation that traces the 70 year history of our government's meddling into pop music, including everyone from Louis Armstrong and Nina Simone, to Bon Jovi and the Beach Boys.
I've listened to the first two episodes available so far (which is also embedded below), and I'm absolutely hooked. Keefe's curiosity is instantly compelling, and his track record is enough to keep me from worrying about an ultimately disappointing journey. Say Nothing essentially solved the case of an IRA murder that was left unresolved for decades; whatever Keefe uncovers in his quest to get to the bottom of the CIA's propaganda pop song prowess, I'm sure it will be just as gripping. So far, it's already touched a lot on the CIA's cushy Cold War relationship with Hollywood, going even more depth into the happenings in and around the ones depicted in the movie Argo.
The full 8-episode series is available to listen on Spotify right now; if you want to listen on your preferred podcasting platform, however, you're going to have to wait for the weekly installments.
Wind of Change [Patrick Radden Keefe / Pineapple Street Studios / Crooked Media / Spotify]
Rare '80s metal merch w/ a wild alleged C.I.A. connection... [Blackbird Spyplane]
Now that driving is down, so are organ transplantsFrom NPR: Deaths from motor vehicle crashes and fatal injuries are the biggest source of organs for transplant, accounting for 33% of donations, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the nation's organ transplant system. But ever since the coronavirus forced Californians indoors, those accidents have declined. Traffic collisions and fatalities in ['...]
READ THE RESTThis deck of wholesome activities inspires mini-adventuresWe've been writing about Lea Redmond since 2009 here on Boing Boing. She's just one of those kind of people who consistently makes neat things '-- a real Happy Mutant! Well, her latest creative venture is Home Sweet Home, an activity deck for kids (and the young at heart). It offers inspiring prompts for whimsical, ['...]
READ THE REST20 auto deals you can save extra on for Memorial DayLast year, over 43 million Americans hit the road to celebrate Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. That was the second-highest travel volume this century, according to AAA, but with COVID-19 fears and quarantine orders only now starting to ease, it's safe to say this year probably won't attract numbers anywhere close to that ['...]
READ THE REST20 auto deals you can save extra on for Memorial DayLast year, over 43 million Americans hit the road to celebrate Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. That was the second-highest travel volume this century, according to AAA, but with COVID-19 fears and quarantine orders only now starting to ease, it's safe to say this year probably won't attract numbers anywhere close to that ['...]
READ THE RESTAutoCAD is the software that turns dreams into reality and now you can learn how to use itIt doesn't do you much good to come up with a brilliant concept that you can't translate into a working real-world prototype. Whether you're thinking about building a home, a mechanical tool or a toy, that's where the magic of computer-aided design and drafting software like AutoCAD comes into play. The longtime leader in the ['...]
READ THE RESTYou won't want to miss out on these Memorial Day kitchen stealsMemorial Day has always been the traditional start to the summer season '-- and there's never been a summer with more people more ready to get out and enjoy life outside their home than this one. Of course, food will be a big part (if not the centerpiece) of all of our summer celebrations, so ['...]
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The Story of Obama: All in the Company - LewRockwell
Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen has discovered CIA files that document the agency's connections to institutions and individuals figuring prominently in the lives of Barack Obama and his mother, father, grandmother, and stepfather. The first part of his report highlights the connections between Barack Obama, Sr. and the CIA-sponsored operations in Kenya to counter rising Soviet and Chinese influence among student circles and, beyond, to create conditions obstructing the emergence of independent African leaders.
From 198384, Barack Obama worked as Editor at Business International Corporation, a Business International Corporation, a known CIA front company
President Obama's own work in 1983 for Business International Corporation, a CIA front that conducted seminars with the world's most powerful leaders and used journalists as agents abroad, dovetails with CIA espionage activities conducted by his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham in 1960s post-coup Indonesia on behalf of a number of CIA front operations, including the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Ford Foundation. Dunham met and married Lolo Soetoro, Obama's stepfather, at the East-West Center in 1965. Soetoro was recalled to Indonesia in 1965 to serve as a senior army officer and assist General Suharto and the CIA in the bloody overthrow of President Sukarno.
Barack Obama, Sr., who met Dunham in 1959 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii, had been part of what was described as an airlift of 280 East African students to the United States to attend various colleges merely u201Caidedu201D by a grant from the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation, according to a September 12, 1960, Reuters report from London. The airlift was a CIA operation to train and indoctrinate future agents of influence in Africa, which was becoming a battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union and China for influence among newly-independent and soon-to-be independent countries on the continent.
The airlift was condemned by the deputy leader of the opposition Kenyan African Democratic Union (KADU) as favoring certain tribes the majority Kikuyus and minority Luos over other tribes to favor the Kenyan African National Union (KANU), whose leader was Tom Mboya, the Kenyan nationalist and labor leader who selected Obama, Sr. for a scholarship at the University of Hawaii. Obama, Sr., who was already married with an infant son and pregnant wife in Kenya, married Dunham on Maui on February 2, 1961 and was also the university's first African student. Dunham was three month's pregnant with Barack Obama, Jr. at the time of her marriage to Obama, Sr.
The CIA allegedly recruited Tom M'Boya in a heavily funded u201Cselective liberationu201D programme to isolate Kenya's founding President Jomo Kenyatta, who the American spy agency labelled as u201Cunsafe.u201D
KADU deputy leader Masinda Muliro, according to Reuters, said KADU would send a delegation to the United States to investigate Kenyan students who received u201Cgiftsu201D from the Americans and u201Censure that further gifts to Kenyan students are administered by people genuinely interested in Kenya's development.u201D
Mboya received a $100,000 grant for the airlift from the Kennedy Foundation after he turned down the same offer from the U.S. State Department, obviously concerned that direct U.S. assistance would look suspicious to pro-Communist Kenyan politicians who suspected Mboya of having CIA ties. The Airlift Africa project was underwritten by the Kennedy Foundation and the African-American Students Foundation. Obama, Sr. was not on the first airlift but a subsequent one. The airlift, organized by Mboya in 1959, included students from Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland.
Reuters also reported that Muliro charged that Africans were u201Cdisturbed and embitteredu201D by the airlift of the selected students. Muliro u201Cstated that u201Cpreferences were shown to two major tribes [Kikuyu and Luo] and many U.S.-bound students had failed preliminary and common entrance examinations, while some of those left behind held first-class certificates.u201D
Obama, Sr. was a friend of Mboya and a fellow Luo. After Mboya was assassinated in 1969, Obama, Sr. testified at the trial of his alleged assassin. Obama, Sr. claimed he was the target of a hit-and-run assassination attempt after his testimony.
CIA-airlifted to Hawaii, Barack Obama Sr., with leis, stands with Stanley Dunham, President Obama's grandfather, on his right.
Obama, Sr., who left Hawaii for Harvard in 1962, divorced Dunham in 1964. Obama, Sr. married a fellow Harvard student, Ruth Niedesand, a Jewish-American woman, who moved with him to Kenya and had two sons. They were later divorced. Obama, Sr. worked for the Kenyan Finance and Transport ministries as well as an oil firm. Obama, Sr. died in a 1982 car crash and his funeral was attended by leading Kenyan politicians, including future Foreign Minister Robert Ouko, who was murdered in 1990.
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CIA files indicate that Mboya was an important agent-of-influence for the CIA, not only in Kenya but in all of Africa. A formerly secret CIA Current Intelligence Weekly Summary, dated November 19, 1959, states that Mboya served as a check on extremists at the second All-African People's Conference (AAPC) in Tunis. The report states that u201Cserious friction developed between Ghana's Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah and Kenyan nationalist Tom Mboya who cooperated effectively last December to check extremists at the AAPC's first meeting in Accra.u201D The term u201Ccooperated effectivelyu201D appears to indicate that Mboya was cooperating with the CIA, which filed the report from field operatives in Accra and Tunis. While u201Ccooperatingu201D with the CIA in Accra and Tunis, Mboya selected the father of the president of the United States to receive a scholarship and be airlifted to the University of Hawaii where he met and married President Obama's mother.
An earlier CIA Current Intelligence Weekly Summary, secret, and dated April 3, 1958, states that Mboya u201Cstill appears to be the most promising of the African leaders.u201D Another CIA weekly summary, secret and dated December 18, 1958, calls Mboya the Kenyan nationalist an u201Cable and dynamic young chairmanu201D of the People's Convention party who was viewed as an opponent of u201Cextremistsu201D like Nkrumah, supported by u201CSino-Soviet representatives.u201D
In a formerly secret CIA report on the All-Africa Peoples Conference in 1961, dated November 1, 1961, Mboya's conservatism, along with that of Taleb Slim of Tunisia, are contrasted to the leftist policies of Nkrumah and others. Pro-communists who were elected to the AAPC's steering committee at the March 1961 Cairo conference, attended by Mboya, are identified in the report as Abdoulaye Diallo, AAPC Secretary General, of Senegal; Ahmed Bourmendjel of Algeria; Mario de Andrade of Angola; Ntau Mokhele of Basutoland; Kingue Abel of Cameroun; Antoine Kiwewa of Congo (Leopoldville); Kojo Botsio of Ghana; Ismail Toure of Guinea; T. O. Dosomu Johnson of Liberia; Modibo Diallo of Mali; Mahjoub Ben Seddik of Morocco; Djibo Bakari of Niger; Tunji Otegbeya of Nigeria; Kanyama Chiume of Nyasaland; Ali Abdullahi of Somalia; Tennyson Makiwane of South Africa, and Mohamed Fouad Galal of the United Arab Republic.
The only attendees in Cairo who were given a clean bill of health by the CIA were Mboya, who appears to have been a snitch for the agency, and Joshua Nkomo of Southern Rhodesia, B. Munanka of Tanganyika, Abdel Magid Shaker of Tunisia, and John Kakonge of Uganda.
Nkrumah would eventually be overthrown in a 1966 CIA-backed coup while he was on a state visit to China and North Vietnam. The CIA overthrow of Nkrumah followed by one year the agency's overthrow of Sukarno, another coup that was connected to President Obama's family on his mother's side. There are suspicions that Mboya was assassinated in 1969 by Chinese agents working with anti-Mboya factions in the government of Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta in order to eliminate a pro-U.S. leading political leader in Africa. Upon Mboya's death, every embassy in Nairobi flew its flag at half-mast except for one, the embassy of the People's Republic of China.
Jomo Kenyatta, first President of Kenya
Mboya's influence in the Kenyatta government would continue long after his death and while Obama, Sr. was still alive. In 1975, after the assassination of KANU politician Josiah Kariuki, a socialist who helped start KANU, along with Mboya and Obama, Sr., Kenyatta dismissed three rebellious cabinet ministers who u201Call had personal ties to either Kariuki or Tom Mboya.u201D This information is contained in CIA Staff Notes on the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, formerly Top Secret Umbra, Handle via COMINT Channels, dated June 24, 1975. The intelligence in the report, based on its classification, indicate the information was derived from National Security Agency intercepts in Kenya. No one was ever charged in the assassination of Kariuki.
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The intercepts of Mboya's and Kariuki's associates are an indication that the NSA and CIA also maintain intercepts on Barack Obama, Sr., who, as a non-U.S. person, would have been lawfully subject at the time to intercepts carried out by NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
In Part I of this WMR special report, we revealed the connections between Barack Obama, Sr. and the CIA-affiliated Airlift Africa project to provide college degrees to and gain influence over a group of 280 eastern and southern African students from soon-to-be independent African nations to counter similar programs established by the Soviet Union and China. Barack Obama Sr. was the first African student to attend the University of Hawaii. Obama Sr. and Obama's mother Stanley Ann Dunham met in a Russian language class in 1959 and they married in 1961.
The African airlift program was administered by Kenyan nationalist leader Tom Mboya, a fellow Luo tribe mentor and friend of the senior Obama. According to CIA documents described in Part I, Mboya also served the CIA in ensuring that pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese African nationalists were stymied in their attempt to dominate pan-African nationalist political, student, and labor movements.
One of Mboya's chief opponents was Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, who was ousted in a CIA-inspired coup in 1966, one year before Obama Sr.'s son, Barack Obama, Jr. and his mother joined Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian who Obama's mother met at the University of Hawaii in 1965, when President Obama was four years old.
In 1967, Obama and his mother joined her husband in Jakarta. In 1965, Lolo Soetoro had been called back from Hawaii by General Suharto to serve as an officer in the Indonesian military to help launch a bloody CIA-backed genocide of Indonesian Communists and Indonesian Chinese throughout the expansive country. Suharto consolidated his power in 1966, the same year that Barack Obama, Sr.'s friend, Mboya, had helped to rally pro-U.S. pan-African support for the CIA's overthrow of Nkrumah in Ghana in 1966.
East-West Center, University of Hawaii, and CIA coup against Sukarno
Ann Dunham met Soetoro at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii. The center had long been affiliated with CIA activities in the Asia-Pacific region. In 1965, the year that Dunham met and married Soetoro, the center saw a new chancellor take over. He was Howard P. Jones who served a record seven years, from 1958 to 1965, as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia. Jones was present in Jakarta as Suharto and his CIA-backed military officers planned the 1965 overthrow of Sukarno, who was seen, along with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), as allies of China.
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When Jones was chancellor of the East-West Center, he wrote an article for the Washington Post, dated October 10, 1965, in which he defended Suharto's overthrow of Sukarno. Jones was u201Cinvitedu201D by the Post to comment on the Suharto coup, described as a u201Ccounter-coupu201D against the Communists. Jones charged that Suharto was merely responding to an earlier attempted Communist-led coup against Sukarno launched by Lt. Col. Untung, u201Ca relatively unknown battalion commander in the palace guard.u201D
Jones's article, which mirrored CIA situation reports from the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, continued by stating that the alleged leftist coup on September 30 u201Ccame within an inch of succeeding through the assassination of six of the top military command. It might well have succeeded had not Defense Minister Nasution and a number of other senior generals also marked for assassination acted fast in a dramatic counter-coup.u201D Of course, what Jones did not inform the Post's readers was that the Suharto u201Ccounter-coupu201D had been assisted with the strong help of the CIA.
Sukarno never blamed the Communists for the assassination of the army generals nor did the Indonesian Cabinet, where the second- and third-ranking leaders of the PKI were present. The possibility that the assassination of the generals was a CIA/Suharto u201Cfalse flagu201D operation to affix blame on the PKI cannot be ruled out. Two days after Suharto's coup, a CIA u201Crent-a-mobu201D burned down the PKI headquarters in Jakarta. As they marched past the U.S. Embassy, which was also the site of the CIA station, they yelled out, u201CLong live America!u201D
Untung later said that when he became aware that Suharto and the CIA were planning a coup on October 5, 1965 '-- Indonesian Armed Forces Day '-- forces loyal to him and Sukarno moved first. Jones described this as u201Ctypical Communist propaganda.u201D Suharto moved against Sukarno on October 1. Jones iterated that u201Cthere was not an iota of truth . . . in the accusation that the CIA was working against Sukarno.u201D History has proven otherwise. Jones accused the Communists of taking advantage of Sukarno's failing health to beat out the other candidates to succeed him. The goal, according to Jones, was to have PKI boss D.N. Aidit succeed Sukarno. Sukarno did not die until 1970, while under house arrest.
A CIA paper, formerly classified Secret and undated, states u201CSukarno would like to return to the status quo ante-coup. He has refused to condemn the PKI or the 30th September Movement [of Lt. Col. Untung]; instead, he calls for unity of Indonesia and asks that no vengeance be taken by one group against the other. But, he has not succeeded in forcing the Army to abandon its anti-PKI activities and, on the other hand, he has bowed to their demand by appointing its single candidate General Suharto as head of the Army.u201D Suharto and Barry Obama Soetoro's step-father Lolo Soetoro would ignore Sukarno's call for no vengeance, as hundreds of thousands of Indonesians would soon discover.
The mass murder by Suharto of Indonesian Chinese is seen in the CIA paper's description of the Baperki Party: u201Cthe leftist Baperki Party, with its major strength in rural areas, is largely Chinese-Indonesian in membership.u201D A CIA Intelligence Memorandum, dated October 6, 1966 and formerly classified Secret, shows the extent of the CIA's monitoring of the anti-Sukarno coup from various CIA agents assigned as liaisons to Suharto's army units surrounding the Presidential Palace in Bogor and at various diplomatic posts around the country, including the U.S. Consulate in Medan, which was keeping track of leftists in that Sumatran city and, which, in an October 2, 1965, Intelligence Memo, reported to the CIA that the u201CSoviet consul-general in Medan has a plane standing by that could be used for evacuation of Soviet citizens from Sumatra.u201D The October 6 memo also warns against allowing Untung from developing a following in Central Java.
A CIA formerly Secret u201CWeekly Summary Special Reportu201D on Indonesia, dated August 11, 1967, and titled u201CThe New Order in Indonesia,u201D reports that in 1966, Indonesia re-aligned its economy in order to receive International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance. The CIA reports it is happy with the new triumvirate ruling Indonesia in 1967: Suharto, Foreign Minister Adam Malik, and the Sultan of Jogjakarta, who served as minister for economics and finance. The report also rejoices in the outlawing of the PKI, but states it u201Cretains a significant following in East and Central Java,u201D where Ann Dunham Soetoro would largely concentrate her later efforts on behalf of USAID, the World Bank, and the Ford Foundation, all front activities for the CIA to u201Cwin the hearts and mindsu201D of the Javanese farmers and artisans.
A CIA Intelligence Memorandum, formerly Secret and dated July 23, 1966, clearly sees the Muslim Nahdatul Ulama party (NU), the largest party in Indonesia and Muslim, as a natural ally of the United States and the Suharto regime. The report states that helped Suharto put down the Communists in the post-coup time frame, especially where the NU was strongest: East Java, where Obama's mother would concentrate her activities, and North Sumatra and parts of Borneo. An April 29, 1966, formerly Secret CIA Intelligence Memorandum on the PKI states: u201CMoslem extremists in many instances outdid the army in hunting down and murdering members of the party [PKI] and its front groups.u201D
Dunham dropped out of the University of Hawaii in 1960 while pregnant with Barack Obama. Barack Obama Sr. left Hawaii in 1962 to study at Harvard. Dunham and Obama divorced in 1964. In the fall of 1961, Dunham enrolled at the University of Washington while caring for her infant son. Dunham was re-enrolled at the University of Hawaii from 1963 to 1966. Lolo Soetoro, who Dunham married in March 1965, departed Hawaii for Indonesia on July 20, 1965, some three months prior to the CIA's coup against Sukarno. Soetoro, who served Suharto as an Army colonel, was clearly called back from the CIA-connected East-West Center to assist in the coup against Sukarno, one that would eventually cost the lives of some one million Indonesian citizens. It is a history that President Obama would like the press to ignore, which it certainly did during the 2008 primary and general election.
In 1967, after arriving in Indonesia with Obama, Jr., Dunham began teaching English at the American embassy in Jakarta, which also housed one of the largest CIA stations in Asia and had significant satellite stations in Surabaya in eastern Java and Medan on Sumatra. Jones left as East-West Center chancellor in 1968.
In fact, Obama's mother was teaching English for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which was a major cover for CIA activities in Indonesia and throughout Southeast Asia, especially in Laos, South Vietnam, and Thailand. The USAID program was known as Lembaga Pendidikan Pembinaan Manajemen. Obama's mother, painted as a free spirit and a u201Csixties childu201D by President Obama and people who claimed they knew her in Hawaii and Indonesia, had a curriculum vitae in Indonesia that contradicts the perception that Ann Dunham Soetoro was a u201Chippy.u201D
Dunham Soetoro's Russian language training at the University of Hawaii may have been useful to the CIA in Indonesia. An August 2, 1966, formerly Secret memorandum from the National Security Council's Executive Secretary Bromley Smith states that, in addition to Japan, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the Suharto coup was welcomed by the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies because its created a non-aligned Indonesia that u201Crepresents an Asian counterweight to Communist China.u201D Records indicate that a number of CIA agents posted in Jakarta before and after the 1965 coup were, like Dunham Soetoro, conversant in Russian.
Dunham Soetoro worked for the elitist Ford Foundation, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Bank Rakyat (the majority government-owned People's Bank of Indonesia), and the CIA-linked USAID while she lived in Indonesia and later, Pakistan.
USAID was involved in a number of CIA covert operations in Southeast Asia. The February 9, 1971, Washington Star reported that USAID officials in Laos were aware that rice supplied to the Laotian Army by USAID was being re-sold to North Vietnamese army divisions in the country. The report stated that the U.S. tolerated the USAID rice sales to the North Vietnamese since the Laotian Army units that sold the rice found themselves protected from Communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese attack. USAID and the CIA also used the supply of rice to force Laotian Meo tribesmen to support the United States in the war against the Communists. USAID funds programmed for civilians injured in the war in Laos and public health care were actually diverted for military purposes.
In 1971, the USAID-funded Center for Vietnamese Studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale was accused of being a CIA front. USAID-funded projects through the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities (MUCIA) comprising the Universities of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan State were accused of being CIA front projects, including those for u201Cagricultural educationu201D in Indonesia, as well as other u201Cprojectsu201D in Afghanistan, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Thailand, and South Vietnam. The charge was made in 1971, the same year that Ann Dunham was working for USAID in the country.
In a July 10, 1971, New York Times report, USAID and the CIA were accused of u201Closingu201D $1.7 billion appropriated for the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program in South Vietnam. CORDS was part of the CIA's Operation Phoenix program, which involved CIA assassination and torture of South Vietnamese village elders and Buddhist clerics. USAID money was also directed to the CIA's proprietary airline in Southeast Asia, Air America. In Thailand, USAID funds for the Accelerated Rural Development Program in Thailand were actually masking a CIA anti-Communist counter-insurgency operation. USAID funds programmed for public works projects in East Pakistan in 1971 were used for East Pakistan's military fortifications on its border with India, in the months before the outbreak of war with India, in contravention of U.S. law that prohibited USAID money for military purposes.
In 1972, USAID administrator Dr. John Hannah admitted to Metromedia News that USAID was being used as a cover for CIA covert operations in Laos. Hannah only admitted to Laos as a USAID cover for the CIA. However, it was also reported that USAID was being used by the CIA in Indonesia, Philippines, South Vietnam, Thailand, and South Korea. USAID projects in Southeast Asia had to be approved by the Southeast Asian Development Advisory Group (SEADAG), an Asia Society group that was, in fact, answerable to the CIA.
The U.S. Food for Peace program, jointly administered by USAID and the Department of Agriculture, was found in 1972 to be used for military purposes in Cambodia, South Korea, Turkey, South Vietnam, Spain, Taiwan, and Greece. In 1972, USAID funneled aid money only to the southern part of North Yemen, in order to aid North Yemeni forces against the government of South Yemen, then ruled by a socialist government opposed to U.S. hegemony in the region.
One of the entities affiliated with the USAID work in Indonesia was the Asia Foundation, a 1950s creation formed with the help of the CIA to oppose the expansion of communism in Asia. The East-West Center guest house in Hawaii was funded by the Asia Foundation. The guest house is also where Barack Obama Sr. first stayed after his airlift from Kenya to Hawaii, arranged by the one of the CIA's major agents of influence in Africa, Mboya.
Dunham would also travel to Ghana, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Thailand working on micro-financing projects. In 1965, Barack Obama Sr. returned to Kenya from Harvard, with another American wife. The senior Obama linked up with his old friend and the CIA's u201Cgolden boyu201D Mboya and other fellow Luo politicians. The CIA station chief in Nairobi from 1964 to 1967 was Philip Cherry. In 1975, Cherry was the CIA station chief in Dacca, Bangladesh. Cherry was linked by the then-U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, Eugene Booster, to the 1975 assassination of Bangladesh's first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and members of his family.
The hit on u201CSheikh Mujibu201D and his family was reportedly ordered by then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Bangladesh was also on the micro- and macro-financing travel itinerary of CIA-linked Ann Dunham.
CIA banking and Hawaii
Meanwhile, Dunham Soetoro's mother, Madelyn Dunham, who raised young Obama when he returned to Hawaii in 1971 while his mother stayed in Indonesia, was the first female vice president at the Bank of Hawaii in Honolulu. Various CIA front entities used the bank. Madelyn Dunham handled escrow accounts used to make CIA payments to U.S.-supported Asian dictators like Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu, and President Suharto in Indonesia. In effect, the bank was engaged in money laundering for the CIA to covertly prop up its favored leaders in the Asia-Pacific region.
One of the CIA's major money laundering fronts in Honolulu was the firm of Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham & Wong (BBRDW). After the CIA allowed the firm to collapse in 1983 amid charges that BBRDW was merely a Ponzi scheme, Senator Daniel Inouye of the US Senate Intelligence Committee said the CIA's role in the firm u201Cwasn't significant.u201D It would later be revealed that Inouye, who was one of the late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens's best friends in the Senate, was lying. In fact, BBRDW was involved heavily in funding covert CIA programs throughout Asia, including economic espionage against Japan, providing arms for Afghan mujaheddin guerrillas in their war against the Soviets and covertly supplying weapons to Taiwan. One of BBRDW's principals was John C. u201CJacku201D Kindschi, who, before he retired in 1981, was the CIA station chief in Honolulu. BBRDW's chairman Ron Rewald had a counterfeit college degree certificate provided for the wall of his office by the CIA's forgery experts and his name was inserted in university records as an alumnus.
A false history for BBRDW was concocted by the CIA claiming the firm had operated in Hawaii since it was a territory. President Obama is currently plagued by allegations that he has fake college and university transcripts, a phony social security number issued in Connecticut, and other padded rsum items. Did Hawaii's fake BBRDW documents portend today's questions about Obama's past?
BBRDW conducted its business in the heart of Honolulu's business district, where the Bank of Hawaii was located and where Obama grandmother Madelyn Dunham ran the escrow accounts. The bank would handle much of BBRDW's covert financial transactions.
Obama/Soetoro and the u201Cyears of living dangerouslyu201D in Jakarta
It is clear that Dunham Soetoro and her Indonesian husband, President Obama's step-father, were closely involved in the CIA's operations to steer Indonesia away from the Sino-Soviet orbit during the u201Cyears of living dangerouslyu201D after the overthrow of Sukarno. WMR has discovered that some of the CIA's top case officers were assigned to various official and non-official cover assignments in Indonesia during this time frame, including under the cover of USAID, the Peace Corps, and the U.S. Information Agency (USIA).
One of the closest CIA contacts for Suharto was former CIA Jakarta embassy officer Kent B. Crane. Crane was so close to Suharto after u201Cretiringu201D from the CIA, he was reportedly one of the only u201Cprivateu201D businessmen given an Indonesian diplomatic passport by Suharto's government. Crane's company, the Crane Group, was involved in supplying small arms to the military forces of the United States, Indonesia, and other nations. A foreign policy adviser to Vice President Spiro Agnew, Crane was later nominated as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia by President Ronald Reagan but the nomination was dead-on-arrival because of Crane's dubious links to Suharto. The ambassadorship would instead go to John Holdridge, a close colleague of Kissinger. Holdridge was succeeded in Jakarta by Paul Wolfowitz.
Suharto's cronies, who included Mochtar and James Riady of the Lippo Group, would later stand accused of funneling over $1 million of illegal foreign contributions to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.
President Obama has twice postponed official state visits to Indonesia, perhaps fearful of the attention such a trip would bring to the CIA connections of his mother and Indonesian step-father.
In the 1970s and 80s, Dunham was active in micro-loan projects for the Ford Foundation, the CIA-linked East-West Center, and USAID in Indonesia. One of the individuals assigned to the U.S. embassy and helped barricade the compound during a violent anti-U.S. student demonstration during the 1965 Suharto coup against Sukarno was Dr. Gordon Donald, Jr. Assigned to the embassy's Economic Section, Donald was responsible for USAID micro-financing for Indonesian farmers, the same project that Dunham Soetoro would work on for USAID in the 1970s, after her USAID job of teaching English in Indonesia. In a 1968 book, u201CWho's Who in the CIA,u201D published in West Berlin, Donald is identified as a CIA officer who was also assigned to Lahore, Pakistan, where Dunham would eventually live for five years in the Hilton International Hotel while working on microfinancing for the Asian Development Bank.
Another u201CWho's Who in the CIAu201D Jakarta alumnus is Robert F. Grealy, who later became the director for international relations for the Asia-Pacific for J P Morgan Chase and a director for the American-Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. J P Morgan Chase's CEO Jamie Dimon is being mentioned as a potential replacement for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, whose father, Peter Geithner, was the Ford Foundation's Asia grant-selector who funneled the money to Ann Dunham's Indonesian projects.
CIA Black Projects and Hawaii
While in Pakistan, Dunham's son Barack visited her in 1980 and 1981. Obama visited Karachi, Lahore, and Hyderabad, India during his south Asia visits. It was during the time period that the CIA was beefing up its anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan from Pakistan.
A January 31, 1958, heavily-redacted formerly Secret NOFORN [no foreign dissemination] memorandum for CIA Director Allen Dulles from the Deputy Assistant Director of the CIA for Research and Reports [name redacted] reports on a fact-finding mission to the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East from November 17 through December 21, 1957.
The CIA Office of Research and Reports (ORR) chief reports a meeting with the staff of retired Army General Jesmond Balmer, a senior CIA official in Hawaii, about requests by the Commander-in-Chief Pacific (CINCPAC) for u201Ca number of detailed, time-consuming research studies.u201D The ORR chief then reports about a CIA u201Csurvey of students at the University of Hawaii who have both Chinese language and research ability.u201D The ORR chief also reports that at a South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Counter Subversion Seminar at Baguio, Philippines held from November 2629, 1957, the Economic Subcommittee discussed an u201Ceconomic development fundu201D to combat u201CSino-Soviet Bloc subversive activities in the area and a consideration of possible counter-measures which might be employed.u201D
The Thailand and Philippines delegations were pushing hard for U.S. funding for an economic development fund, which may have provided the impetus for later USAID projects in the region, including those with which Peter Geithner and Obama's mother were intimately involved.
Although CIA geo-political covert operations at the University of Hawaii are well-documented, the agency's darker side of research and MK-UKTRA type operations has not generally been associated with the University of Hawaii.
A series of formerly Confidential CIA memoranda, dated May 15, 1972, points to the involvement of both the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the CIA, and the University of Hawaii in the CIA's behavioral science program. The memos are signed by then-Deputy Director of the CIA Bronson Tweedy, the chief of the Intelligence Community's Program Review Group (PRG) [name redacted], and CIA Director Richard Helms. The subject of the memos is u201CARPA Supported Research Relating to Intelligence Product,u201D The memo from the PRG chief discusses a conference held on May 11, 1972, attended by Lt. Col. Austin Kibler, ARPA's Director of Behavioral Research. Kibler was the chief for ARPA research into behavior modification and remote viewing. Others mentioned in the PRG chief's memo include CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence Edward Proctor, the CIA Deputy Director for Science and Technology Carl Duckett, and Director of the Office of National Estimates John Huizenga.
In 1973, after CIA Director James Schlesinger ordered a review of all CIA programs, the CIA developed a set of documents on various CIA programs collectively called the u201CFamily Jewels.u201D Most of these documents were released in 2007 but it was also revealed that Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, the CIA's director of MKULTRA, the agency's behavior modification, brainwashing, and drug-testing component, had been ordered by Helms, before he resigned as CIA director, to destroy his documents. Duckett, in one memo from Ben Evans of the CIA to CIA Director William Colby, dated May 8, 1973, conveys that he u201Cthinks the Director would be ill-advised to say he is acquainted with this program,u201D meaning Gottlieb's drug-testing program under MKULKTRA.
Senior Gerald Ford administration officials, including Chief of Staff Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, ensured that after the production of the u201CFamily Jewelsu201D documents, no CIA revelations were made about CIA psychological behavior-altering programs, including MKULTRA and Project ARTICHOKE.
The May 15, 1972, set of memos appears to be related to the CIA's initial research, code-named SCANATE, in 1972 into psychic warfare, including the use of psychics for purposes of remote viewing espionage and mind control. The memo discussed Kibler from ARPA and u201Chis contractor,u201D which was later discovered to be Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, California.
In a memo from CIA Director Helms to, among others, Duckett, Huizenga, Proctor, and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which later inherited remote viewing from the CIA under the code name GRILL FLAME, Helms insists that ARPA had been supporting research into behavioral science and its potential for intelligence production u201Cfor a number of yearsu201D at u201CM.I.T., Yale, the University of Michigan, U.C.L.A., and University of Hawaii and other institutions as well as in corporate research facilities.u201D
The role of the University of Hawaii in CIA psych-war operations continues to this day. The chief of research for DIA's Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC) Behavioral Sciences Program, Dr. Susan Brandon, who was reportedly involved in a covert program run by the American Psychological Association (APA), Rand Corporation, and the CIA to employ u201Cenhanced interrogationu201D techniques, including sleep and sensory deprivation, intense pain, and extreme isolation on prisoners held at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and other u201Cblack prisons,u201D received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Hawaii. Brandon also served as assistant director of Social, Behavioral, and Educational Sciences for the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the George W. Bush White House.
The CIA's close connections to the University of Hawaii continued to the late 1970s, when the former President of the University of Hawaii from 1969 to 1974, Harlan Cleveland, was a special invited speaker at CIA headquarters on May 10, 1977. Cleveland served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs from 1961 to 1965 and Lyndon Johnson's ambassador to NATO from 1965 to 1969 before taking up his position at the University of Hawaii.
A CIA Director of Training memo dated May 21, 1971, reports on the active recruitment of a U.S. Marine officer who was entering graduate school at the University of Hawaii.
The Family of Obama and the CIA
There are volumes of written material on the CIA backgrounds of George H. W. Bush and CIA-related activities by his father and children, including former President George W. Bush. Barack Obama, on the other hand, cleverly masked his own CIA connections as well as those of his mother, father, step-father, and grandmother (there is very little known about Obama's grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham, who was supposedly in the furniture business in Hawaii after serving in Europe during World War II). Presidents and vice presidents do not require security background checks, unlike other members of the federal government, to hold office. That job is left up to the press. In 2008, the press failed miserably in its duty to vet the man who would win the White House. With the ties of Obama's parents to the University of Hawaii and its links to MKULTRA and ARTICHOKE, a nagging question remains: Is Barack Obama a real-life u201CManchurian Candidate?u201D
PART 3: Add one more Obama family member to the CIA payroll
WMR previously reported on the CIA links of President Obama's mother, father, step-father, grandmother to the CIA. Not much is known about Obama's grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham, who Obama mistakenly referred to as u201Chis fatheru201D in two speeches, one recently to the Disabled American Veterans.
What is officially known about Stanley Armour Dunham is that he served with the 9th Air Force in Britain and France prior to and after the D-Day invasion. After the war, Dunham and his wife, Madelyn and his daughter Stanley Ann Obama's mother moved to Berkeley, California; El Dorado, Kansas; Seattle; and Honolulu. Armour Dunham is said to have worked for a series of furniture stores.
Obama maintains that his mother and father first met in a Russian-language class at the University of Hawaii in 1959. However, a photograph has emerged of Stanley Armour welcoming Barack Obama, Sr., complete with traditional Hawaiian welcoming leis, from Kenya. Obama, Sr. was the only Kenyan student airlifted to Hawaii as part of the CIA-inspired Airlift Africa project that saw Obama and 279 other students from British eastern and southern African colonies brought to the United States for college degrees prior to their homelands gaining independence from Britain. The students were selected by Kenyan nationalist leader Tom Mboya who would later conduct surveillance for the CIA at pan-African nationalist meetings. Mboya was particularly focused on two African leaders who were seen as too close to the Sino-Soviet bloc, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sekout Toure of Guinea.
Stanley Armour Dunham with Barack Obama, Sr. at welcoming ceremony to Hawaii. The presence of two US Navy personnel indicates the plane may have landed at Hickam Air Force Base, an indication of the U.S. government's and CIA's role in the Airlift Africa project.
The photograph of Armour Dunham with Barack Obama, Sr., indicates that the u201Cfurniture salesmanu201D in Hawaii was, in fact, working with a CIA-funded project to rapidly educate aspiring politicians to serve in post-independence African governments to counter Soviet- and Chinese-backed political leaders in the region.
There is a strong reason to believe that Armour Dunham worked in the 1950s for the CIA in the Middle East. An FBI file on Armour Dunham existed but the bureau claimed it destroyed the file on May 1, 1997. Considering the sour relations between the FBI and CIA during the Cold War, it is likely that Armour Dunham was being monitored by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in the same manner as a number of other CIA officials and agents were being surveilled. Similarly, the pre-1968 passport records of Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, were destroyed by the State Department.
There is a photographic clue that the Dunhams may have been assigned by the CIA to Beirut, Lebanon in the early 1950s. A photograph of Obama's mother and grandparents has emerged that shows Stanley Ann Dunham wearing what may be a school uniform with the insignia of u201CNdJ,u201D which stands for the College Notre-Dame de Jamhour, a private Jesuit Catholic French language school in Beirut, Lebanon. Graduates of the school include three former presidents of Lebanon, Amine Gemayel, Bashir Gemayel, and Charles Helou, all of whom maintained close relations with Washington.
Did Obama's mother [left] go to a private school in Lebanon in the early 1950s while her father [middle] worked for the CIA in Beirut?
There is also the curious nature of President Obama's Social Security Number, issued in Connecticut, a state where there is no other evidence of his ever being a resident. Adding to the mystery is a New York City address for a u201Cmaleu201D named Stanley Ann Dunham, 235 E. 40th St Apt 8F, New York NY 10016-1747. The address is a few blocks away from the address of the Ford Foundation. Ann Dunham did work briefly in New York for the Ford Foundation.
On August 9, 2010, WMR reported, u201CIn a December 19, 1971, article in the Boston Globe by Dan Pinck, [a historian and former OSS officer] titled u2018Is everyone in the CIA?' it is alleged that identifying US Agency for International Development (USAID) officers as CIA agents was a u2018reasonably accurate accounting of certain leading operatives and associates of the CIA.' President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro worked for USAID in rural Java in Indonesia. Pinck's article was a review of a 1968 book, u2018Who's Who in the CIA' published in Berlin.u201D
WMR has obtained a rare copy of Who's Who in the CIA, from England. The book, published in West Berlin in 1968, lists some 3,000 CIA agents and agents-of-influence around the world.
The book also contains a reference to one CIA operative whose area of primary place of operation was Mercer Island, Washington. He was retired Air Force General Don Zabriskie Zimmermann, who was the Chief Engineer for the Boeing Company in Seattle. Before retiring from the Air Force, Zimmermann was the Air Force Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Development in Foreign Countries. Ann Stanley Dunham reportedly graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1960 and met Obama later that year in a Russian language class after her parents moved to Hawaii. Stanley Ann's mother, Madelyn Dunham, worked at a Boeing plant in Wichita, Kansas during World War II.
The book lists the number of CIA agents in countries during the 1950s and 60s where Obama's father, mother, step-father Lolo Soetori, and allegedly, his grandmother and grandfather worked:
Indonesia Jakarta 64 Surabaya 12 Medan 8 Hollandia 1
Kenya Nairobi 19 Mombassa 2
Lebanon Beirut 61 (including one agent also assigned to Jakarta, Lahore, and Karachi and another assigned to Lahore)
Hawaii Honolulu 6 (one agent also assigned to Canton Island and another was fluent in French, Stanley Ann Dunham spoke French, Urdu, Bahasa Indonesian, and she studied Javanese at the University of Hawaii, in addition to Russian).
Barack Obama's employment as an editor for CIA front Business International Corporation (BIC) after his graduation from Columbia University in 1983, came at a time when such small business and political risk consulting firms were mushrooming and their ranks growing with retired senior CIA personnel. The expansion of BIC and similar firms in the early 1980s also came at a time when major corporations were phasing out their internal risk departments and relying more on companies like BIC.
However, Obama's contacts with the CIA came earlier than his work for BIC. Obama's attendance at Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1979 to 1981 is significant considering the college's close ties with the CIA. Occidental's President, Richard C. Gilman, who retired in 1988, was a habitu of Los Angeles's version of New York's Council on Foreign Relations, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council (WAC). As a director of the WAC, Gilman rubbed shoulders with fellow WAC directors John McCone, a former CIA director; Simon Ramo, chairman of top CIA contractor TRW, Inc.; and the wealthy oil magnate Armand Hammer, chairman of Occidental Petroleum, himself no stranger to intelligence-oriented intrigue.
Occidental was, for many years, a top target for CIA recruiting efforts. WMR has obtained a CIA memorandum, formerly Secret and dated February 8, 1967, that details the CIA's ''100 Universities Program,'' which, as stated by the author, ''originally conceived [redacted] as a recruitment technique. Its purpose was to make better known on the campuses of America the very existence of the CIA and its mission and role in Government, to illustrate the vast range of vocational opportunities in the Agency.''
A formerly Secret CIA memorandum for the Deputy Director for Administration from the acting Director of Personnel, dated February 8, 1979, discusses an active CIA recruitment effort at Occidental College on February 1, 1979. Obama reportedly attended Occidental later in 1979. The memo states, ''[redacted] our [redacted[ recruiter, reports that he briefed approximately seventy students at Occidental College in Los Angeles on 1 February and was very well received. He added that while they did not interrupt his presentation, about fifteen to twenty members of the Socialist Democratic Alliance demonstrated outside as he spoke and that their chanting of ''CIA, go Away'' could be heard. Larry also reported that the seventy attending his briefing was the largest number ever to attend a briefing at the school by an employer.'' A burning question is whether ''Larry'' ever tried to recruit a young Barack Obama, Jr. at Occidental and whether he was successful at the enthusiastically pro-CIA campus in 1979.
Obama's mother's employer and the CIA
Stanley Ann Dunham's employer in Indonesia, the Ford Foundation, had a long-standing relationship with the CIA. While ostensibly working on micro-financing and rural development projects in Indonesia, Dunham's grant paymaster was Peter Geithner, the father of current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
The rural development project funded by the Ford Foundation had long been a cover for U.S. intelligence activities in Indonesia. An Indonesian Permanent Mission to the UN bulletin dated November 19, 1959, states that a Ford Foundation grant funded the Village Community Development Bureau's work with ''development projects in line with village custom and tradition.''
The Ford Foundation helped establish two Cold War institutes at Columbia University and Harvard, two universities where Obama graduated. In the post-World War II years, Ford Foundation money helped create the Russian Institute at Columbia and the Russian Research Center at Harvard to promote the study of Soviet and Russian history and politics for a cadre of CIA Kremlinologists. In fact, Dunham and Obama, Sr. met at a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii in 1960. Obama. Sr.'s scholarship was courtesy of a partly CIA-funded operation called Airlift Africa, designed to educate and gain influence over a new generation of eastern and southern African leaders in the same year the USSR was doing the same by establishing the People's Friendship University of Moscow, later renamed Patrice Lumumba University.
The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations continued to fund Columbia's Soviet studies programs through the early 1980s, while Obama was allegedly a student enrolled in a Soviet studies program taught by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security Adviser under President Carter.
The Ford Foundation also funded CIA-directed propaganda campaigns around the world. In 1967, Shepherd Stone, born Shepherd Arthur Cohen, a former New York Times reporter and director of international affairs for the Ford Foundation, became president of the International Association of Cultural Freedom (IACF), which saw its name change from the Congress of Cultural Freedom after its direct funding from the CIA ceased.
Much like Barack Obama's post-Columbia employer, BIC, the Ford Foundation, through groups like the IACF, curried links with some of Europe's main leftist political parties, including the British Labor Party, the West German Social Democrats, and the French Socialists.
However, not every world leader was lulled into a false sense of security by the Ford Foundation. A formerly Secret CIA ''Current Intelligence Weekly Summary,'' dated April 20, 1962, reports that Burmese strongman Ne Win ordered ''the Asia Foundation and Ford Foundation to wind up their activities'' in Burma. The CIA report attacks Ne Win for his decision to toss out both CIA-linked organizations, stating, ''Ne Win is a narrow nationalist with a suspicious conspiratorial outlook, a short temper, and a tendency toward snap decisions.''
Columnist Murray Kempton, writing in the October 3, 1967, New York Post lambasted Stone, the IACF, and the Ford Foundation for their close links to the CIA. Kempton wrote, ''One standard apology for the CIA used to be that its subsidies were a considerable force for cultural progress, and that it could not really be distinguished from, say, the Ford Foundation. This is a sounder comparison than one would have thought possible before reading the annual report of the Ford Foundation, after which it is difficult with confidence to distinguish the international activities of the Ford Foundation from those of the CIA.''
Kempton cites the Ford Foundation's $8 million grant to MIT's Center for International Studies, adding that the center was established with CIA funds. In 1966, one of the architects of the Cold War policies of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, McGeorge Bundy, took over as the President of the Ford Foundation. Bundy also worked with the Council on Foreign Relations and CIA officers Allen Dulles and Richard Bissell to create a carve-out in the post-World War II Marshall Plan that covertly steered aid money to anti-Communist groups in Italy and France. After President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Bundy began directing U.S. covert operations as chairman of the super-secret ''303 Committee'' in the Johnson White House.
Bundy signed a Secret memo on February 27, 1961, in which the Sprague Committee report on U.S. Information Activities Abroad was circulated to senior officials. The Sprague Committee, chaired by Mansfield D. Sprague of CIA-rife New Canaan, Connecticut, was commissioned by President Eisenhower and included Allen Dulles, CIA director, and the committee's executive director, Waldemar A. Nielsen, who was ''loaned'' by the Ford Foundation. The committee recommended integrating ''psychological factors'' into the United States ''informational system.''
The CIA's funding of foundations such as Ford and Rockefeller was so prevalent during the 1960s, New York Congressman William Fitts Ryan of New York introduced legislation in 1967 that would have prohibited the CIA from ''granting, contributing, lending, or otherwise paying, directly or indirectly, any of its funds to any foundation or philanthropic organization,labor organization, publishing organization, radio or broadcasting organization, or educational institution '-- including organization composed of students or faculty members '-- incorporated in the United States.''
In a case eerily reminiscent of the post-gall bladder surgery death of Pennsylvania Democratic Representative John Murtha last February, in September 1972, Ryan died suddenly following surgery on an ulcer and after he cast a vote against new Vietnam War appropriations.
Ryan was particularly incensed over the CIA's use of the National Student Association (NSA) and its global counterpart, the International Student Conference (ISC), to recruit agents. In fact, the Airlift Africa project that brought Obama, Sr. to the University of Hawaii appears to have been part of a larger CIA program to use the NSA and ISC to recruit young college students into its ranks. The CIA funded technical assistance, education, and student exchange programs, via the NSA and ISC, with Third World nations like Kenya and Indonesia, the home countries of President Obama's father and step-father, respectively.
Although Airlift Africa received a $100,000 grant from the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation to pay for African students personally selected by the CIA's Kenyan nationalist asset, Tom Mboya, a mentor of Barack Obama, Sr., to travel to the United States to study at various colleges (Obama, Sr. was the first African student to attend the University of Hawaii), the CIA used a series of front foundations to launder money for such projects. The chief CIA fund used for such purposes in the early 1960s was the New York-based J. M. Kaplan Fund. The CIA used a network of other funds to pass money through the Kaplan Fund. These funds included, according to a March 1967, Ramparts magazine article, the Borden Trust of Philadelphia, the Price Fund of New York, the Edsel Fund of San Francisco, the Beacon Fund of Boston, and the Kentfield Fund of Dallas.
In 1958, a CIA-linked group called the Western Regional Assembly met at Lake Arrowhead, California in a seminar titled ''The United States and Africa.'' Among those in attendance was Walter P. Coombs, the executive director of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council; Arthur N. Young, Trustee of Occidental College; and Frank LaMacchia, identified as ''economic officer, American Consulate General, Nairobi, Kenya.'' However, the Julius Mader book published in 1968, ''Who's Who in the CIA,'' identified LaMacchia as a CIA officer assigned to Nairobi, as well as Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, Seoul, and Baghdad.
The Lake Arrowhead conclave was told that for Africa's emerging nations, ''furtherance of education on the college level is important, and the number of scholarships for Africans to American institutions of higher learning should be increased.'' In 1959, the CIA, likely though LaMacchia in Nairobi, and Mboya, kicked off Airlift Africa that saw 230 African students airlifted to the United States, including Barack Obama, Sr., a friend of Mboya, to Hawaii, via funding from the Kennedy and an entity called the African-American Students Foundation.
The Lake Arrowhead attendees also heard Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Joseph C. Satterthwaite warn, ''persistent and ingenious Communists, skilled in subversive and revolutionary tactics, must be reckoned with'' in Africa. The Airlift Africa project was a form of reckoning with the pro-Communists in Africa.
One of the Kenyan politicians who LaMacchia and Mboya kept a close eye on was Kenyan left-wing nationalist leader Oginga Odinga, whose son is now Kenya's Prime Minister. Odinga, a Luo like Mboya and Obama, Sr., had cultivated close relations with Soviet bloc countries and was dispatching Kenyan students to the east bloc for college educations.
One of the agencies that worked closely with the CIA to fund anti-communist student activities abroad was the US Agency for International Development (USAID), another one of Stanley Ann Dunham's employers in Indonesia. The CIA student operations were conducted through Langley's Covert Action Division No. Five, within the Plans Division. One of the chief missions of the CIA's foreign students was to infiltrate leftist student movements to either disrupt or recruit.
Obama's grandmother and money laundering for the CIA
In our previous report on Obama's family and the CIA, WMR reported on the use of a Honolulu-based front company, Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham & Wong, (BBRDW) Inc., to pay off various Asian dictators, including President Suharto of Indonesia, who seized power in 1965 in a CIA-inspired anti-communist coup, merely two years before Stanley Ann Dunham and seven-year-old Barack moved to Jakarta to be with Dunham's new husband, Lolo Soetoro, a senior officer in Suharto's fascist armed forces. BBRDW used the facilities of the Bank of Hawaii to transmit funds to CIA operatives and dictators in Asia. The bank vice president in charge of the escrow accounts used for such purposes was Madelyn Dunham, Obama's grandmother, who died just two days before her grandson was elected President of the United States in 2008.
Although the CIA and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye brushed off suggestions that BBRDW, which failed amid charges that it was a Ponzi scheme, was a CIA front, WMR has obtained from CIA files a letter, dated April 13, 1984, sent from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii to the Justice Department's Internal Security Criminal Division and the CIA's Legislative Office forwarding a Honolulu article on the firm. The article reveals that the CIA stepped in to halt an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation of BBRDW in January 1983. IRS Honolulu agent Joseph A. Campione confirmed that his IRS bosses in Washington, DC had ordered him to halt his investigation of BBRDW. The CIA's station chief in Honolulu, Jack Kindschi, retired from the CIA and joined BBRDW after it was established.
Ron Rewald, BBRDW's principal, was recruited in 1976 by the CIA's chief officer in Chicago. In addition to BBRDW, Rewald created a number of other CIA front firms in Honolulu, including H&H Enterprises and Canadian Far East Trade Corporation. Other firms that were joint CIA ventures with foreign millionaires, included Hawaiian-Arabian Investment Company and U.S. and United Arab Emirates Investment Company, registered in Hawaii and involving Rewald, millionaire Indonesian Indri Gautama, and UAE prince Saud Mohammed of the emirate of Sharjah.
Rewald told the Hawaii Investor that millions of dollars in CIA funds were ''freely co-mingled'' with the funds of innocent investors in accounts such as those maintained in the Bank of Hawaii, as well as in overseas accounts. BBRDW accounts in Hawaiian and overseas banks were used to launder money for the Sultan of Brunei, Philippine banker Enrique Zobel and his close friend President Ferdinand Marcos, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Gandhi's son and future Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and President Suharto of Indonesia.
Grandmother Madelyn's bank also had dealings with another CIA bank, Nugan Hand Bank of Australia, through which the CIA funded the constitutional coup d'etat against Australian Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975. After Nugan Hand collapsed in the late 1970s, co-founder Frank Hand was found slumped over the steering wheel of his parked car near Sydney. Hand was shot through the head although a rifle on the seat beside him had been wiped clean of fingerprints. The world of Pacific finance that Obama's banker grandmother dealt with in the 1970s and 1980s dealt with much more than loaning money for beachfront properties in idyllic South Pacific settings.
Obama and Transparency '-- Not!
Curiously, buried deep in the CIA files is an obscure invitation to then-CIA director Stansfield Turner to attend a ''30th Anniversary of Teaching'' for ''Gil's'' award from the American Chemical Society at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii on April 3, 1979. It was at the East-West Center where Barack Obama, Sr. stayed in 1960 and where Stanley Ann Dunham met Lolo Soetoro in 1965. The East-West Center also served as a CIA front activity for the grooming of future Asian leaders from Japan and Okinawa to Indonesia and Micronesia.
Oddly, the name of the group celebrating the anniversary is redacted in the unclassified invitation, which also reveals ''Gil's'' 30 year teaching stint at the University of Hawaii and University of Illinois. The ceremony for ''Gil'' follows a ''Division of Chemical Education Dinner.'' The return address on the invitation's envelope is also redacted and two pages of the file on the anniversary and award ceremony are withheld from disclosure. Previously, WMR reported that the University of Hawaii served as one of five universities favored by CIA director Richard Helms for the CIA's behavioral modification projects, part of the CIA's Office of Science and Technology's MK-ULTRA and Project Artichoke programs, which employed the use of, among other drugs, LSD for the CIA's human subjects.
One of President Obama's chief campaign promises was to run the most transparent administration in history. Considering the fact that his own personal history is one of the most opaque of any past president, there is little wonder why Obama's administration is the least transparent in recent history.
In this, the last of a five-part series on how Barack Obama, Jr. is a creation of the Central Intelligence Agency, WMR delves into the behavior modification, creative leadership, and phenomenological research programs that were at full throttle while Obama was an employee of CIA front Business International Corporation (BIC).
In 1984, while Obama was working as an editor at BIC in Manhattan, CIA deputy director for intelligence Robert Gates, who Obama retained as his Secretary of Defense from the Bush administration, renamed the CIA's Political Psychology Division the Political Psychology Center (PPC) and transferred the group from the Office of Global Issues (OGI) to the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR).
The CIA's political psychology program is directly linked to its overall psychological and behavioral science programs. In fact, the CIA continues to send CIA officers for training to the Stanford Institute for Political Psychology program at Stanford University. Stanford and Stanford Research Institute (SRI) figure prominently in the CIA behavioral science and modification programs that enabled Barack Obama to hurdle into political office.
A CIA memorandum from the chief of OSWR/PPC to the Associate Deputy Director for Intelligence, dated 1984, reqiests that a consultant member of the PPC's Senior Behavioral Science Panel be permitted to publish an unclassified paper prepared by the PPC at the University of Chicago. At the time of Gates's push for political psychology programs at the CIA, Obama was working on the very same psychological-propaganda ''journalism'' projects at BIC, a CIA front. The paper in question sought to depict Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini as intent on bringing down '''Western' supported regimes and to establish in their place one 'united Islamic Nation' guided by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini.'' The paper suggests Khomeini would accomplish his goals by stirring up the Shi'a populations of ''Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and Iraq'' and maintain ''the Gulf and the Arab world in a state of crisis.''
The CIA's push for political action on the international and domestic media is seen in a formerly SECRET/SENSITIVE agenda for a meeting on ''Political Action,'' dated August 5, 1982 and attended by Secretary of State George Schultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, Deputy Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, CIA Director William Casey, US Information Agency director Charles Wick, and National Security Adviser William Clark.
The CIA's Project MOCKINGBIRD, developed under the aegis of Cord Meyer, was a Cold War-era program designed to influence the foreign and domestic media and its successor programs governed the CIA's use of BIC journalists, of which Obama was one, to push propaganda and disinformation at home and abroad. With the approval of the new Political Action doctrine by the Reagan administration, there was a major push to use companies like BIC and other private sector operations to push U.S. propaganda abroad. The cover for the Reagan administration had to be in the private sector for, as the memo states, ''Obviously as a government we cannot and should not simply emulate Soviet methods. Nor will our political parties be able in the foreseeable future to play the international role of European parties. But there is much that we can do.''
The memo states that there should be a private sector campaign to challenge the Soviets abroad and states that ''even the New York Times'' supported such an effort. The private sector propaganda effort was called PROJECT TRUTH and its details are outlined in a formerly Confidential memorandum from Wick to Clark dated April 23, 1982.
A major propaganda effort against the Soviets, using U.S. and foreign private '-- unions, parties, youth, church, business, etc. '-- and public persons and elements, is described. Particular targets for the initiative included the May 13''16 Bilderberg meeting in Norway, the Fall UN General Assembly meeting, the April 28 Washington meeting of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations, and a contrivance known as ''International Afghanistan Day.''
The Reagan national security team was clearly intent, using cut-outs like BIC and others, to increase the U.S. ''ability to generate political initiatives and conduct political campaigns, using overt and covert resources and combining government and private efforts here and abroad.''
The CIA, Business International Corporation, Looking Glass, and nurturing future leadership
CIA files indicate the PPC was partially involved with a project called LOOKING GLASS, which involved a group of CIA and top business officials whose mission included ''cultivating talent'' from an early age.
WMR has obtained an agenda from the ''Conference on Cultivating Talent'' held in Greensboro, North Carolina from January 17''18, 1984, and co-sponsored by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). CCL was founded in 1970 by H. Smith Richardson, founder of the Vick Chemical Company.
Among the participants were the CIA's director of training and education, former National Security Agency (NSA) director Admiral Noel Gayler, and William Verity, Jr., the former chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a director at BIC in Manhattan. Gayler also served as Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii from 1972 to 1976, succeeding Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the father of Obama's 2008 challenger, Senator John S. McCain III of Arizona.
Verity, who was also chairman of Armco steel corporation, later succeeded Malcolm Baldrige, Jr. as Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan administration. Verity became Commerce Secretary after Baldrige died in a freak rodeo accident in California. During his directorship at BIC, Verity also served on the boards of Eli Lilly and Chase Manhattan Bank, as well as serving as chairman of the board of trustees of Ford's Theater in Washington, DC.
Most of the CCL participants at the two-day conference were behavioral scientists. In our previous report on Obama and the CIA, WMR revealed that CIA director Richard Helms considered the University of Hawaii, the alma mater of Obama's mother and father, as one of five top centers for the CIA's behavioral science research work. The others were MIT, Yale, University of Michigan, and UCLA.
Speaking at the CCL conference, in addition to Verity, were Billie L. Alban, President of Alban & Williams, Ltd., an international consultancy. Alban was a core faculty member at UCLA and previously served on the staff of the Tavistock Institute in London. Currently, she teaches at Columbia University. Part of Alban's biography held in CIA archival files, which states her clients included the CIA-linked Bankers Trust, is redacted. Today, CCL's board of governors includes faculty members from Columbia and Harvard universities.
Verity was joined at the conference by two executives of Armco. One cartoon from the conference found in the CIA archives depicts two men with one pointing to a group of people representing the bottom rungs of society and exclaiming, ''There is the raw material for a new, dynamic world!'' The presence of Verity of BIC at the conference attended by the CIA's chief of education and training raises the specter of BIC's role in supplying ''raw material'' from its ranks, individuals like Obama, for the CIA's ''new, dynamic world.''
The CIA and Tavistock
Also known as the ''Freud Hilton,'' Tavistock has long been involved in brainwashing techniques and CIA work since its foundation. The institute also has links to the Harvard Psychology Clinic, the CIA, and Stanford Research Institute (SRI), a major contractor for CIA psychic warfare activities in the 1970s and 80s. Alban told the 1984 CCL seminar, ''talent should be nurtured and developed for tomorrow not today. If one focuses on today's requirements, by the time talents are nurtured one will find they are the talents required of yesterday. The focus must be visionary and look to the needs of the future.''
The Tavistock Institute has long been linked with the CIA's MK-ULTRA and Projects BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE mind control and brain-washing operations, conducted by the CIA's top scientist for such matters, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Much of the records about MK-ULTRA and other CIA programs was destroyed on the order of Helms in 1972. BLUEBIRD documents describe what the CIA was trying to accomplish with behavioral modification in the early 1950s: ''Can we 'alter' a person's personality? Can we devise a system for making unwilling subjects into willing agents and then transfer that control to untrained agency agents in the field by use of codes or identifying signs?'' In other words, the movie ''The Manchurian Candidate,'' was not purely a fictional account within the CIA's research and scientific community.
Considering Obama's penchant for homosexual encounters in Chicago and Washington, DC, the question of a continuation of Gottlieb's OPERATION MIDNIGHT CLIMAX continues to the present day. A sub-program of MK-ULTRA, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS employed prostitutes in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City to lure targeted individuals into CIA safehouses where they would then be plied with drugs like LSD. They would then be tested for their susceptibility to sexual blackmail. The program was ''officially'' halted in 1966, but the continuing use of prostitutes by the CIA for blackmail purposes has been verified to WMR by workers in the sex industry.
Twelve pages in the CIA's director for training and education's January 25, 1984, report to the deputy director for administration remain classified to this day, but in a hand written note on the CIA transmittal sheet, he states ''I think you will find Tab B to be very interesting.'' The deputy director for administration replies, also in a handwritten note, ''I did '-- though I don't [subscribe]? to call the community on Tab C.''
Tab B is the training and education director's comments to the CCL. The talking points include:
''Pleased to be invited to participate and to exchange ideas on the cultivating and nurturing of talent. Our recent visibility has been both an asset and a liability in this regard. More people know of the CIA and its activities than when I joined (tell the labor union story), and this attracts some good people. By the same token, it brings out the weird ones. We have an exceptional screening process involving security investigation, testing, (assessment '-- OSS-CCL) psychological screening, medical review, interviewing, polygraph, etc. (and a long processing time!) [Ed. note: it cannot be determined if this reference is to the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA or the CIA's Special Security Office. CCL, however, appears to indicate a past and on-going relationship between the CIA and the Center for Creative Leadership.] So, the pepole who come to us are, for the most part, exceptionally talented, thoroughly screened, and represent a real challenge for us to stretch, nurture and retain. Eventually reach the point where at least some people are identified early on as having high potential for senior agency-wide positions and are consciously developed toward that end. CIA university recruitment the year Obama graduated from Columbia
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A September 11, 1984 memo to Dan Carlin, the assistant director of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) from the CIA's executive assistant/executive director to director William Casey points out the academia sources for the past year's CIA undergraduate recruits. Two recruits came from Columbia University. Obama graduated from Columbia in 1983 after reportedly studying under Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security Adviser to President Carter. The chairman of the PFIAB at the time of the stepped-up CIA college recruiting campaign was Anne Armstrong, the Ford administration's ambassador to London from 1976 to 1977 and a major backer of George H.W. and George W. Bush. A one-time board member of Halliburton, Armstrong was a mentor for Karl Rove when she served as co-chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973.
By way of comparison, one undergraduate was recruited from Harvard, one from Occidental College (where Obama attended before transferring to Columbia), one from Claremont Men's College, one from Pepperdine. Topping the list are five each from Georgetown and Dartmouth. Graduate recruits include one from Harvard Law, where Obama attended law school after his ''community service'' work in Chicago; three from the University of Michigan (one of Helms's favored behavioral science research campuses), and, trumpeting other graduate schools, American University in Washington, with five new recruits.
CIA archival records also indicate an on-going relationship between Obama's former college, Occidental, and the CIA in 1983. A MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour transcript shows a guest, Lawrence Caldwell of Occidental, as having been a scholar in residence at the CIA's Office of Soviet Analysis for two years.
Behavioral science, the CIA, and SRI
A formerly Secret NOFORN [not releasable to foreign nationals] proposal for the CIA, dated December 31, 1992, and prepared for the CIA by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) describes in great detail the agency's behavioral science programs, which included anomalous cognition (AC) and anomalous perturbation (AP). AC is defined as ''the awareness of information that is considered otherwise shielded from all known sensory channels'' and AP is ''the perturbation of physical matter under conditions of complete physical and sensorial isolation.''
The document states that research into both field began in 1973 with the CIA engaged in such research and was followed by U.S. military service and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) research with SRI through fiscal year 1990. The document also states ''beginning in 1986, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC) [Fort Detrick, Maryland] initiated the first coordinated long-term examination of AC and AP phenomenon.''
SAIC proposed to conduct various research projects for the CIA are similar to some of the ''enhanced interrogation'' techniques used on detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, and other CIA ''black sites'' in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The experiments, conducted by SRI since 1974, included exposing individuals to flashing light or no light to discover how their central nervous systems reacted to the visual stimuli. Experiment subjects were fitted with EEGs (electroencephalogram) monitors to measure their reaction to the flashing light stimuli. Part of the SAIC proposal remains redacted.
A sub-contractor to SAIC was the Lucidity Institute of Napa, California, founded in 1987 by Dr. Stephen LaBerge for the conduct of ''research on lucid dreams and to help people learn to use them to enhance their lives. Lucid dreaming means dreaming while knowing that one is dreaming and allows people to consciously guide the direction of their dreams.'' Ironically, one of this summer's blockbuster movies, ''Inception,'' dealt with the subject of invading people's dreams to steal secrets. Leonardo DeCaprio plays a secretive agent named Dorn Cobb who is an ''extractor'' agent operating in the para-psychological dream invasion program. What may be fiction in Hollywood was far from it in the CIA research with SAIC, SRI, and the Lucidity Institute.
One of the methods used by the SRI and SAIC program to determine ''the differences between effective and ineffective liars'' was called the Q-Sort technique. The technique was used to separate ''highly talented'' individuals in test ''clusters.''
The paragraph on the intelligence applications of anomalous cognition is 90 percent redacted from the SAIC proposal as are at least three reference works cited in the document. Academic institutions involved in the project included, in addition to SRI, Stanford University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, and UCLA (one of Helms's favorite CIA behavioral science research centers).
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The CIA-SAIC-SRI project principals had either worked at or attended the Biofeedfack Institute of San Francisco; SAIC; Yale (another of Helms's favored research centers); Columbia University; Harvard; Bellevue Hospital in New York; the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the Stanford Hypnosis Research Laboratory; Carnegie-Mellon University; MIT (another one of Helms's favored behavioral science centers); the World Bank; the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; University of Minnesota; the Brain Research Institute; the Behavioral Research Foundation of St. Kitts, West Indies; the Tavistock Institute in London; the A.K. Rice Institute of Rainier, Washington, an off-shoot of the Tavistock Institute; Sleep Disorders Clinic, Provo, Utah; Neurology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland; Tibetan government-in-exile, Dharamsala, India; U.S. Veterans Administration; University of Wisconsin-Madison; US Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC; and perhaps, most interestingly, the University of Hawaii (also designated by Helms as one of the CIA's favored behavioral science research centers and where two of the principals involved in the SAIC-CIA project had an affiliation).
The research director for the CIA-SAIC program was Dr. Edwin C. May, an internationally-recognized parapsychology expert who is the executive director for the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory of the Laboratories for Fundamental Research in Palo Alto, California. May was a lead researcher for the CIA's STARGATE remote viewing and ESP project until it was closed down in 1995. WMR has previously reported that the program moved from the CIA to the National Security Agency and involved research carried out with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia, south of Charlottesville The Monroe Institute was also heavily involved in the STARGATE program. The current research is also linked to the Parapsychology Foundation of New York City.
Other members of the team included a retired Army Major General who now specializes in human bionics a radio astrophysicist; an expert who maintains that sexual orientation may be influenced by experiences in childhood; a counselor for survivors of the People's Temple cult of Reverend Jim Jones (itself linked to a CIA MK-ULTRA behavioral modification and mind control operation); a current specialist with the Farsight Institute of Atlanta, a remote viewing research center; a neuro-linguistic programming expert; a toxicology specialist; a principal of the Pentagon's PANDORA project on the use of electro-magnetic weapons to roboticize human beings; an expert in the imaging and computer mapping of the human brain; an inventor of the cochlear implant; an expert on the mass popular opposition of Okinawans to the U.S. military presence on the island; a future warfare expert for the Pentagon and member of the National Security Agency Scientific Advisory Board and Defense Intelligence Agency Scientific Advisory Committee; a former Army Undersecretary for acquisition; a Defense Intelligence Agency psi-tech officer who worked on electro-magnetic weaponry for battlefield psychological purposes '-- PROJECT SLEEPING BEAUTY '-- who worked with another Army Intelligence psi-tech officer who was partially the inspiration for the movie ''Men Who Stare At Goats;'' a specialist on the brainwashing techniques, including sleep deprivation, by the North Koreans on American prisoners of war and the Church of Scientology who was an expert witness on the brainwashing techniques of the Symbionese Liberation Army on heiress Patty Hearst; and, lastly, a University of Hawaii-linked specialist on the psychological effects of prison and prison brutality on prisoners who later defended, as an expert witness, one of the prison guards at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad.
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The presence of a Jonestown de-programmer on the CIA-SAIC team in noteworthy. On August 31, 2007, WMR reported: ''During the time of the Jonestown massacre, the People's Temple's ship, the 'Cudjoe,' was en route to Trinidad with members of the Temple on board. Temple members soon set up operations in Trinidad and Grenada, where [Prime Minister Eric] Gairy, a CIA client, who, in a 1977 speech before the UN General Assembly, called for the UN to establish an Agency for Psychic Research into Unidentified Flying Objects and the Bermuda Triangle, was in charge. According to the Oakland Tribune, the St. George's University Medical School in Grenada had on its staff one Dr. Peter Bourne, the son of the university's vice chancellor Sir Geoffrey Bourne. Peter Bourne is a graduate of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), where he studied the psychological effects of stress on those in combat. He also served one year in Vietnam as the head of the Army's psychiatric research team. Bourne later became an Assistant UN Secretary General and an adviser to then-Congressman Bill Richardson. It was under the guise of rescuing American medical students at the university, that the Reagan administration launched a 1983 invasion to overthrow Bernard Coard, who had ousted and executed Bishop in a coup. Both Bournes said the medical students were never in any danger. [Some believe that author Robert Ludlum got the idea for CIA mind-controlled assassins in his novel ''The Bourne Identity'' and its sequels from Geoffrey Bourne's work.]
The Jonestown connection to the U.S. war in Southeast Asia does not end there. The U.S. ambassador to Guyana at the time of the Jonestown massacre was John Burke, who served with his Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Dwyer, were allegedly working for the CIA in Bangkok during the Vietnam war. Dwyer was wounded in the Port Kaituma shootings where [Representative Leo] Ryan and the others were killed. On Sept. 27, 1980, Jack Anderson reported that Dwyer was a CIA agent and a friend of Jones. Anderson reported that on one of the tapes made during the mass suicide Jones was heard saying, 'Get Dwyer out of here before something happens to him.' Dwyer reportedly left Guyana for Grenada after the massacre. The US Consular Officer at the embassy in Georgetown, Guyana was Richard McCoy, who allegedly liaised with Jim Jones and was a U.S. Air Force intelligence official. Another alleged CIA employee, operating under State Department cover, was Dan Webber, who also visited the Jonestown the day after the massacre. Joe Holsinger, Ryan's assistant and friend, later said that he believed that Jonestown was a massive mind control experiment and that the CIA and military intelligence was involved in the program.''
The nexus of Obama's almae matres: Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard, as well as that of his parents, the University of Hawaii, in the CIA's mind control, behavioral modification, and mass hypnosis projects is deeply troubling. The fact that Obama has failed to provide a full accounting of his past academic and professional employment history, coupled with the presence of a major CIA presence within his and his parents', grandparents', and step-father's backgrounds opens up the real possibility that Obama was, to use the CIA's own term, ''nurtured,'' for a higher calling. Obama told the nation that his would be the most open and transparent in recent recent history. However, Obama's biography and those of his parents and guardians are full of more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. It is well past time for the President to make good on that promise and fully release his past academic, passport, employment, and overseas travel records.
After eight brutal years of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the nation was ready for any change. Unfortunately, the CIA, through LOOKING GLASS, MK-ULTRA, ARTICHOKE, PANDORA, and other behavioral science programs were ready to answer the call. The CIA answered the call with Obama and most of us bought him and his ''Hope and Change'' propaganda fecundity ''nurtured'' by CIA programs going back some sixty years.
September 7, 2010
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has some twenty years experience in security issues. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation. Madsen was a Senior Fellow for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy public advocacy organization. Visit his website.
May 22, 2020 | Judicial WatchJudicial Watch Lawsuit Forces Release of Infamous FBI Memo Used to Launch Obama Administration's Spy Operation on President Trump's 2016 CampaignJudicial Watch Sues to Stop Governor Newsom's ''Vote by Mail'' MandateUN's U.S.-Funded COVID-19 Response Promotes AbortionTrump's Big Bet on Virus Drug Gets PersonalMemorial Day '' Why We Fight
Judicial Watch Lawsuit Forces Release of Infamous FBI Memo Used to Launch Obama Administration's Spy Operation on President Trump's 2016 Campaign
In a major development, Judicial Watch forced the declassification and release of an FBI memo or ''electronic communication'' (EC) that officially launched the counterintelligence investigation, termed ''Crossfire Hurricane,'' of President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
We obtained the document that disgraced FBI official Peter Strzok wrote in our FOIA suit against the FBI and DOJ for: ''The Electronic Communication that initiated the counterintelligence investigation of President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.'' (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-02743)).
The redacted document details seemingly third hand information that the Russian government ''had been seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President.'' The document also alleges Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos claimed to an unnamed party that ''they (the Russians) could assist the Trump campaign with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.''
The document notes, ''It was unclear whether he [Papadopoulos] or the Russians were referring to material acquired publicly of [sic] through other means. It was unclear how Mr. Trump's team reacted to the offer. We note the Trump team's reaction could, in the end, have little bearing of what Russia decides to do, with or without Mr. Trump's cooperation.''
The document is dated July 31, 2016. Here is the text of the ''electronic communication'':
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONElectronic Communication
Title: Crossfire Hurricane Date: 07/31/2016
Cc: [Redacted]Strzok Peter P II
From: COUNTERINTELLIGENCE[Redacted]Contact: Strzok Peter P II, [Redacted]
(U/ /) Legat [Redacted] information from [Redacted] Deputy Chief of Mission
Synopsis:(U/ /) Legat [Redacted] received information from the [Redacted] Deputy Chief of Mission related to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's website/server.
Details:(S/ /[Redacted] On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, Legal Attach(C) (Legat) [Redacted] was summoned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) for the [Redacted] who will be leaving [Redacted] post Saturday July 30, 2016 and set to soon thereafter retire from government service, advised [Redacted] was called by [Redacted] about an urgent matter requiring an in person meeting with the U.S. Ambassador. [Note: [Redacted]. The [Redacted] was scheduled to be away from post until mid-August, therefore [Redacted] attended the meeting.
(S/ [Redacted]) [Redacted] advised that [Redacted] government had been seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President. One of the people identified was George Papadopolous (although public media sources provide a spelling of Papadopoulos), who was believed to be one of Donald Trump's foreign policy advisers. Mr. Papdopoulos was located in [Redacted] so the [Redacted] met with him on several occasions, with [Redacted] attending at least one of the meetings.
(S/ [Redacted]) [Redacted] recalled [Redacted] of the meetings between Mr. Papdopolous and [Redacted] concerning statements Mr. Papadopolous made about suggestions from the Russians that they (the Russians) could assist the Trump campaign with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton. [Redacted] provided a copy of the reporting that was provided to [Redacted] from [Redacted] to Legal [Redacted]. The text is exactly as follows:
(S/ [Redacted]) 5. Mr. Papadopolous [Redacted] also suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama). It was unclear whether he or the Russians were referring to material acquired publicly of through other means. It was also unclear how Mr. Trump's team reacted to the offer. We note the Trump team's reaction could, in the end, have little bearing of what Russia decides to do, with or without Mr. Trump's cooperation.(End Text)
(s/ [Redacted][Redacted](s/ [Redacted] Legat requests that further action on this information should consider the sensitivity that this information was provided through informal diplomatic channels from [Redacted] to the U.S. Embassy's DCM. It was clear from the conversation Legal [Redacted]had with DCM that [Redacted] knew follow-up by the U.S. government would be necessary, but extraordinary efforts should be made to protect the source of this information until such a time that a request from our organization can be made to [Redacted] to obtain this information through formal channels.
(S/ / ) Based on the information provided by Legat [Redacted] this investigation is being opened to determine whether individual(s) associated with the Trump campaign are witting of and/or coordinating activities with the Government of Russia.
And so the document ends.
No wonder the DOJ and FBI resisted the public release of this infamous ''electronic communication'' that ''opened'' Crossfire Hurricane '' it shows there was no serious basis for the Obama administration to launch an unprecedented spy operation on the Trump campaign. We now have more proof that Crossfire Hurricane was a scam, based on absurd gossip and innuendo. This document is Exhibit A to Obamagate, the worst corruption scandal in American history. This document shows how Attorney General Barr and U.S. Attorney Durham are right to question the predicate of this spy operation.
Included with each of our July, 2019 FOIA requests to the FBI and DOJ, which led to the production of this Electronic Communication document, was an April 2018 letter from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to the DOJ concerning a congressional subpoena for the same record.
The DOJ initially provided the Intelligence Committee a heavily redacted copy of the Electronic Communication it sought. Only after the Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena did the DOJ, on April 10, 2018, provide a less redacted version, which has not been released publicly.
The DOJ IG also referenced and quoted the EC in its December report on FISA abuse targeting President Trump and Carter Page. The IG report, FBI texts, and testimony show President Obama was aware of Crossfire Hurricane.
We had previously received a production of 144 pages of emails between Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page in which the Electronic Communication was discussed.
On July 31, 2016, Strzok sent an email under the subject line ''Opening EC'' to Jonathan Moffa, a deputy assistant director in the bureau's Counterintelligence Division, Lisa Page and an unidentified FBI Office of General Counsel official.
Strzok: Hey just realized I need a succinct statement for the Opening EC. To open bidding I propose: [redacted]. Comments, please.Moffa: I would recommend: [redacted].Page: I like Jon's additions and subtraction.Strzok: Thanks. So: [redacted].
We're now seeing the corrupt origins of Obamagate.
Judicial Watch Sues to Stop Governor Newsom's ''Vote by Mail'' Mandate
Judicial Watch just sued in federal court to stop the special, statewide vote-by-mail mandate issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include former U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (a candidate in the upcoming November election) and individual California voters from across the political spectrum. We filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento against Gov. Newsom and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (Darrell Issa, et al. Gavin Newsom, et al. (No. 2:20-cv-01044)).
Our complaint argues that Newsom's Executive Order N-64-20, requiring all California counties to conduct all-mail ballot elections, violates the U.S. Constitution and California state law. According to the U.S. Constitution, only state legislatures may determine the ''Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives,'' and only state legislatures may establish the manner in which electors to the Electoral College are appointed. The lawsuit points out that ''[n]either defendant in this case is a 'Legislature,''' as required under the Constitution, and ''[t]he California Legislature never delegated to [Newsom] its authority under the Elections Clause or Electors Clause to regulate the manner of conducting elections for senators, representatives, or presidential electors.''
We also contend that Newsom's mandate violates the California Voter's Choice Act of 2016, which grants counties the option to qualify for and opt in to a system of mail-in voting. We argue that the law reflects the legislature's deliberate choice to delegate to each county the decision about whether to qualify and opt in to the all-mail ballot system. During the March 3, 2020 primary election, only 15 of California's 58 counties qualified and opted-in to the all-mail balloting system.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs will be harmed by Newsom's mandate for all-mail voting because it imposes an entirely new election system that ignores the extensive qualifications required by California law before a county can opt in to all-mail balloting. We argue its plaintiffs will be at risk of having their votes thrown out or diluted by invalid votes under Newsom's illegal system, and that Mr. Issa will have to expend additional resources to respond to the illegal mandate during his campaign.
Governor Newsom's vote-by-mail mandate is unconstitutional and may cause the votes of countless voters to be thrown out or not counted. California law prohibits blindly mailing out ballots to every registered voter in the state. This scheme raises the risk of Election Day chaos as well as voter fraud.
In 2018, California settled a federal lawsuit with Judicial Watch and began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County's voter rolls. Judicial Watch late last year sent notices to 11 additional California counties warning them of voting list maintenance issues. Judicial Watch recently sued North Carolina and Pennsylvania to force them to clean up their voter rolls.
Whether abortion should be considered essential during the current health crisis has been hotly contested. Now it seems that the United Nations, using your tax dollars, has decided that indeed abortion is essential. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.
Always seizing opportunities to advance its leftist agenda, the United Nations (UN) is capitalizing on the coronavirus to promote sexual and reproductive health services'--including abortion'--by classifying them as ''essential'' healthcare in pandemic recovery efforts. Why should American taxpayers care? Because the United States is funding the endeavor and, in fact, is the largest donor of the UN program conducting the multi-billion-dollar initiative called COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). In a tedious 80-page document, the world body offers details of its costly project to counter the public health and humanitarian consequences of the crisis. It includes categorizing sexual and reproductive health services on the same level of importance as malnutrition, sanitation, shelter, essential healthcare and food insecurity.
Since a large chunk of the American tax dollars flow into UN coffers via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the head of the agency fired off a letter to the UN Secretary General blasting the COVID-19 response plan for advancing access to abortion as an ''essential service.'' Besides donating a whopping $3.5 billion to UN health and humanitarian assistance in 2019, USAID has so far been the largest contributor to the global COVID-19 response by pledging more than $1 billion to the cause. In the letter USAID Administrator John Barsa directs UN Secretary General Ant"nio Guterres to stay focused on life-saving interventions such as the delivery of essential health care and food to address shortages that could represent a second, deadly impact of the pandemic in many countries.
''The UN should not use this crisis as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an essential service,'' Barsa writes. ''Unfortunately, the Global HRP does just this, by cynically placing the provision of sexual and reproductive health services on the same level of importance as food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation.'' Barsa continues by writing: ''Most egregious is that the Global HRP calls for the widespread distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion supplies, and for the promotion of abortion in local country settings.'' The Trump administration's USAID administrator proceeds to ask the UN chief to remove references to sexual and reproductive health and its derivatives from the Global HRP and ''drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN's priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.''
A Cuban American who grew up in south Florida, Barsa continues by noting that ''under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump, the United States has made clear that we will never tire of defending innocent life.'' The USAID chief reminds that during President Trump's address to the 74the UN General Assembly, the commander-in-chief warned the UN that it has no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life. ''Indeed, the UN should not intimidate or coerce Member States that are committed to the right to life,'' Barsa writes. ''To use the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to pressure governments to change their laws is an affront to the autonomy of each society to determine its own national policies on health care. The United States stands with nations that have pledged to protect the unborn.'' Barsa also reveals that UN member countries are deeply divided over the use of the term ''sexual and reproductive health'' and its derivatives. ''It is among the most polarizing issues raised in UN negotiations,'' Barsa cautions, adding that ''now is not the time to add unnecessary discord to the COVID-19 response.''
In the HRP's introduction, Guterres makes it clear that the UN is hitting up member nations, especially the U.S., for more money, by calling on all donors and partners to maintain core support for the most vulnerable. ''To divert funding from humanitarian needs at this time would create an environment in which cholera, measles and meningitis would thrive, even more children would become malnourished, and the narratives of violent extremists would take deeper hold,'' Guterres writes. ''It would also extend the breeding ground for the coronavirus disease itself.''
Trump's Big Bet on Virus Drug Gets Personal
President Trump seems to enjoy jousting with the media. Recently he sent heads exploding by announcing that he is taking the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.
Trump has touted this drug since the pandemic began '-- it is a leader's role to seek out solutions and nudge people toward those that are promising. All the handwringing in the media and the enclaves of experts is just Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has an interesting update on Trump and this drug in his Investigative Bulletin.
Judicial Watch has been closely following the saga of President Trump and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HC). We get a lot of mail on the subject. We've long considered it a bold gamble and a winning bet. On Monday, the president took it to another level, announcing that he himself had been taking the drug.
Heads promptly exploded across the liberal universe. Nancy Pelosi denounced the president for being ''morbidly obese'' (he's not) and ''taking something that has not been approved by the scientists.'' Longtime Trump antagonist Joe Scarborough called the president a liar, saying he is ''not taking hydroxychloroquine.'' Chuck Schumer said he did it ''to divert attention from all the bad things happening.'' Medical professionals rushed in. Trump was setting an ''irresponsible'' example, said Dr. Scott Solomon of Harvard Medical School. There are ''serious hazards'' to HC, said Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic. You get the idea.
Yesterday, the president said he would soon stop taking HC, but point made'--and it's a good one. Trump correctly views himself as a frontline leader in the battle against Covid-19. That's the context for understanding his latest move.
The key word is ''frontline.''
Here's what Trump said about HC on Monday:
''You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers, before you catch it. The frontline workers, many many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it'.... Frontline workers take it. A lot of doctors take it. I take it.''See his full remarks here. Trump repeatedly returns to the theme of HC as an aid to frontline personnel'--doctors, nurses, emergency workers, cops, firefighters'--and as a prophylactic. He notes that HC can be effective ''especially early on'' in the course of the virus. It shows promise ''as a preventative.''
And in fact there are numerous examples from around the globe indicating that HC might benefit frontline personnel and help fight the early stages of the virus. A recent NYU study, for example, found promising results. We noted in an earlier report that Turkey has thrown HC at everyone with the virus and claims a death toll lower than the global average. In March, India approved HC for its frontline personnel. Our mailbox at Judicial Watch is filled with accounts from frontline personnel about the positive impact of HC.
The Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and many other organizations have warned about dangerous possible side effects to HC, including serious heart issues. These are important warnings. And other studies have found no benefit from the drug or are inconclusive.But this is life in wartime and an existential threat to the Trump Presidency. As we've noted before, the HC episode plays to some of Trump's most successful political instincts: his preference for non-traditional channels, distrust of experts, deregulatory impulses, showmanship, and use of the media. It will be months, if not years, before the scientific consensus is settled on the use of HC in the battle against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that Trump's bold gamble on HC is still paying off. On Monday, he pushed a big pile of chips to the center of the table and came up a winner.Those of us who live in the real world are grateful this drug exists, that doctors doing battle with the virus discovered that it could be effective, and that our President publicized it.
Memorial Day '' Why We Fight
Memorial Day helps our nation focus on the ultimate sacrifice of untold numbers of fellow Americans '' Americans who gave their lives to preserve and defend our God-given freedoms and our constitutional republic.
As we honor those heroes next week, I'd like to draw your attention again to the Veterans Day speech given in 1985 by then-President Ronald Reagan. Much of his speech applies to Memorial Day, especially this portion, which remains timely today:
And the living have a responsibility to remember the conditions that led to the wars in which our heroes died. Perhaps we can start by remembering this: that all of those who died for us and our country were, in one way or another, victims of a peace process that failed; victims of a decision to forget certain things; to forget, for instance, that the surest way to keep a peace going is to stay strong.
Weakness, after all, is a temptation '-- it tempts the pugnacious to assert themselves '-- but strength is a declaration that cannot be misunderstood. Strength is a condition that declares actions have consequences. Strength is a prudent warning to the belligerent that aggression need not go unanswered.
Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we're little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God's first intellectual gift to man: common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.
We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds.
I'd like to think many Americans have ''clear eyes and brave minds'' and these patriots desire the same qualities in our political and judicial leaders. It certainly reflects Judicial Watch's modest approach to our efforts.
Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day!
Until next week,
Judge Emmet Sullivan Hires ''High-Powered'' DC Lawyer to Represent His Interests in Flynn Case'... | The Last Refuge
The Washington Post headline reads (emphasis mine): ''Federal judge hires high-powered D.C. attorney to defend his actions in Flynn case.'' Which gives some insight into the framework and purpose of this event, and how it reached the WaPo narrative engineers.
The Washington Post is, as an institution, adverse to the interests of Michael Flynn. So this story, specifically the events behind the story, are written in a posture to aid Judge Sullivan and oppose Flynn. Keep that in mind (I'll explain after).
Judge Sullivan has hired a high profile DC lawyer to assist him in responding to the inquires of the DC circuit:
WASHINGTON DC '' ['...] In a rare step that adds to this criminal case's already unusual path, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has retained Beth Wilkinson to represent him in defending his decision to a federal appeals court in Washington, according to a person familiar with the hire who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
['...] Wilkinson, known for her top-notch legal skills and get-results style, is expected to file a notice with the court in the coming week about representing the judge. She declined to comment when reached Friday evening. Sullivan also declined to comment through his office.
['...] A federal judge doesn't typically hire private counsel to respond to an appeals court, and yet so much about Flynn's case has been a departure from the norm.
['...] Flynn's lawyers then accused Sullivan of bias and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to intervene. On Thursday, that higher court took the extraordinary step of ordering Sullivan to answer within 10 days. The court also invited the Justice Department to comment.
['...] Wilkinson, a go-to advocate for prominent officials snared in major Washington investigations and high-stakes legal battles, now joins the fray. (read more)
I'm not going into the weeds to outline the motives of of Beth Wilkinson. Suffice to say the reason she is considered 'high-profile' or 'high-powered' is because of her connections to the DC system; a political system that frequently becomes enmeshed with the legal system. Beth Wilkinson is well-connected; that's the part that matters.
A federal judge hiring a well connected lawyer to write his response to a DC circuit court appeals panel is the part that's interesting. There's no guarantee the appeals court will accept such a response; but that's also another issue. Bottom line: Judge Sullivan is importing a lawyer to represent his interests. Very unusual.
CTH readers are smart; aware and smart enough not to get stuck in the weeds; so lets stay elevated on this and look at the whole picture. Consider this decision by Judge Emmet Sullivan through the prism of recent events surrounding Flynn:
'... The DOJ, joined with the defense position and filed an unopposed motion to drop the case against Michael Flynn.
'... A USAO from Missouri, Jeff Jensen, has discovered a trail of internal evidence pointing toward a corrupt originating prosecution for the case against Flynn. Mr. Jensen has been revealing those documents and providing them to the court (and defense).
'... Meanwhile DNI Ric Grenell has declassified and revealed documents showing a corrupt intent by the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) against Michael Flynn.
'... Just yesterday (5/22/20) the FBI Director announced an internal investigation into officials inside the FBI for wrongful conduct specifically as it relates to a corrupt operation, now discovered and public, against Michael Flynn.
Additionally, we shall not play games and ignore the obvious.
Judge Emmet Sullivan is well aware of the reason why former Judge Rudolph ''Rudy'' Contreras was recused from the Flynn case; only days after accepting the first plea agreement, and less than 72 hours after the Peter Strzok and Lisa Page text messages publicly surfaced.
Lisa Page: ''Rudy is on the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]! Did you know that?'' ''Just appointed two months ago''''..
Peter Strzok: ''I did. We talked about it before and after. I need to get together with him.'''...
On November 30th, 2017, Mike Flynn signed a guilty plea; ostensibly admitting lying to investigators. The plea was accepted by Judge Rudolph ''Rudy'' Contreras; who is also a FISA court judge. Six days later, December 7, 2017, Judge Contreras ''was recused'' from the case without explanation.
If the conflict -which required recusal- existed on December 7, 2017, wouldn't that same conflict have existed days earlier on November 30th?
The same DC circuit now ordering Judge Sullivan to explain his decision-making, is the same DC circuit that previously recused and replaced Judge Contreras from the Flynn case. None of this, including the specific tone of the panel in their order, is disconnected from the larger background.
So when we take everything in total, the decision by Sullivan to hire a high-profile and well connected DC lawyer to represent his interests in the Flynn case'.... well, it looks to me like Sullivan just hired himself a defense attorney.
The phase of the ''resistance'' that federal Judge Emmet Sullivan was participating in, and had a role to play, is now almost totally engulfed in sunlight. With few options for deniability and justification remaining, Sullivan has hired himself a lawyer.
Adam Schiff Asks DNI To Declassify Flynn's Phone Calls With Russians | Zero Hedge
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cal), the House Intelligence Committee chairman sent a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell asking him to declassify transcripts of Michael Flynn's phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and any reports summarizing their calls.
The Intelligence Community (''IC'') protects the identities of Americans who are referenced in intelligence obtained from lawful collection against authorized foreign targets that it disseminates to its customers through intelligence reports. IC elements do so by ''masking'' the U.S. person information in the intelligence report in a manner that protects those U.S. persons' privacy. U.S. officials who are authorized recipients of these intelligence reports and who are charged with protecting national security may request, through a standardized process and with an appropriate and validated justification, the underlying U.S. person information that has been replaced by a generic descriptor (such as ''U.S. person 1 ''). The IC elements review those requests to validate the requester's need to know this sensitive information before releasing that U.S. person information to the requester.
As you must now be aware, authorized U.S. officials make these requests so they can better understand specific intelligence reports and properly evaluate threats to our national security. The established procedures for doing so safeguard the privacy of Americans, while at the same time enabling U.S. officials to protect national security by requesting the U.S. person information that reveals who may be in harm's way, who may be engaged in acts that threaten the country, or who, wittingly or unwittingly, may be acting to further the interests of foreign adversaries and, therefore, pose a counterintelligence risk or threat.
In late 2016 and early 2017, as the scope of Russia's sweeping and systemic interference in our election was coming into focus, dozens of officials from across the U.S. government were briefed on intelligence reports on foreign actors that contained masked U.S. person information. As the list you declassified shows, these officials, either directly or through their IC briefers, submitted requests to understand who the U.S. person or persons were who were referenced in these reports on foreign targets. The masked U.S. persons referenced in these reports were revealed to be Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Flynn, who served as an advisor to candidate and then President-elect Donald Trump''even as Lt. Gen. Flynn was working as an unregistered agent of a foreign government seeking to influence U.S. policy through at least mid-November 2016. National Security Agency (''NSA'') Director General Paul Nakasone's May 4, 2020 response to your request, which you declassified, confirmed that each of the U.S. officials who requested the masked U.S. person information was ''an authorized recipient of the original report'' and the requests to reveal the masked U.S. person information were ''approved through NSA's standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request.''
As detailed in charging documents and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, during this timeframe, the IC also became aware of Lt. Gen. Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding, among other things, sanctions that the United States had recently imposed on Russia as a penalty for its interference in the 2016 presidential election. Lt. Gen. Flynn did not disclose these communications with the Russian Ambassador to the outgoing administration, despite the long-established principle that the United States has only one government at a time.
In January 2017, Lt. Gen. Flynn lied about the content of these communications to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and-after he began serving as President Trump's National Security Advisor-to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (''FBI''). This created a clear and untenable counterintelligence and national security risk for the United States. As witnesses testified to the Committee, the Senate, and to Special Counsel Mueller, Lt. Gen. Flynn's readily provable lies provided the Russians leverage over the new National Security Advisor because they knew he was lying about the substance of his conversations with Ambassador Kislyak. Lt. Gen. Flynn, himself, later pleaded guilty under oath-twice-to lying to the FBI about these communications. Even President Trump publicly explained at the time, ''I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI.''
Your decision to declassify the list of executive branch officials that you requested NSA compile, and then asked that NSA revise to your specification, is without precedent. It was a transparent political act-in an election year and during a pandemic, no less-in which you used the authorities of your position to insinuate wrongdoing by officials who acted appropriately in requesting the identity of masked U.S. persons to better understand foreign intelligence reports. This is inconsistent with the oath and obligations of an acting Director of National Intelligence. Selective declassification for political purposes is inappropriate, corrupt, and undermines public confidence in the IC as an apolitical pillar protecting the country regardless of the political affiliation of its Executive Branch customers.
To ensure a transparent and complete public record free of political manipulation, the Committee therefore requests that you or your successor:
Declassify and make publicly available any intelligence report or transcript concerning conversations between Lt. Gen. Flynn and former Russian Ambassador Kislyak. These communications have been the subject of thorough law enforcement investigation and criminal proceedings, and no national security rationale remains to suppress these records on classification grounds.
Produce to the Committee in full, consistent with 50 USC §3092(a)(2),9 the underlying intelligence reports that were the subject of U.S. person identity requests revealed in General Nakasone's May 4, 2020 memorandum to you, as well as the rationale for your decision to request and then declassify the list of officials.
Declassify and make publicly available, with appropriate redactions to protect sensitive sources and methods, these same underlying intelligence reports, so that the public can understand why so many U.S. officials from across the government independently sought to learn the identity of a masked American, who would tum out to be Lt. Gen. Flynn, who was communicating with or referenced by lawful targets of foreign intelligence collection.
In a timely response, Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell on Friday implied that he plans to release the transcripts of December 2016 phone calls between former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Grenell, who took over as acting DNI in February and will be replaced by Representative John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) - whom the Senate voted Thursday to confirm - has declassified and released a number of documents related to the Russia probe during his time in the role.
As Tara Reade's Expert Witness Credentials Are Questioned, So Are Verdicts - The New York Times
Tara Reade, who has accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of sexual assault, served as an expert witness in domestic violence cases for nearly a decade. Credit... Max Whittaker for The New York Times Published May 21, 2020Updated May 22, 2020, 9:24 a.m. ET
Defense lawyers in California are reviewing criminal cases in which Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of sexual assault, served as an expert witness on domestic violence, concerned that she misrepresented her educational credentials in court.
Then known as Alexandra McCabe, Ms. Reade testified as a government witness in Monterey County courts for nearly a decade, describing herself as an expert in the dynamics of domestic violence who had counseled hundreds of victims.
But lawyers who had faced off against her in court began raising questions about the legitimacy of her testimony, and the verdicts that followed, after news reports this week that Antioch University had disputed her claim of receiving a bachelor's degree from its Seattle campus.
The public defender's office in Monterey County has begun scrutinizing cases involving Ms. Reade and compiling a list of clients who may have been affected by her testimony, according to Jeremy Dzubay, an assistant public defender in the office.
Roland Soltesz, a criminal defense lawyer, says he believes Ms. Reade's testimony made a significant difference in the outcome of the 2018 trial of his client Victoria Ramirez. Both Ms. Ramirez and her co-defendant, Jennifer Vasquez, received life sentences for attempted murder, arson and armed robbery.
''People have been convicted based upon this, and that's wrong,'' said Mr. Soltesz, adding that he ''could care less about the politics of this whole thing.''
Ms. Reade has accused Mr. Biden of assaulting her in the Senate complex in 1993, placing his hand under her dress and penetrating her with his fingers. Mr. Biden flatly denies her accusation.
Questions about Ms. Reade's education background were first reported by CNN.
Ms. Reade told The New York Times that she had obtained her degree through a ''protected program'' for victims of spousal abuse, which, court records show, she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband in the mid-1990s. That history, she said, caused her to change her name, leading to confusion about her status at the school. She later received a law degree from Seattle University.
But an Antioch spokeswoman, Karen Hamilton, told The Times that while Ms. Reade had attended classes, she was certain Ms. Reade had not received a degree.
Image Mr. Biden, pictured in 1994 discussing the Violence Against Women Act. He has flatly denied the sexual assault allegation. Credit... John Duricka/Associated Press In her testimony in the 2018 trial, Ms. Reade was questioned about her degree by Mr. Soltesz. She testified that she received a liberal arts degree, as was stated on her r(C)sum(C) provided by the district attorney's office. ''The focus was political science,'' she said, according to a trial transcript.
Ms. Reade also told the court that she was currently a substitute teacher but had worked in domestic violence prevention for more than two decades and testified in more than 20 cases. Her career began, she said, in Mr. Biden's office.
''I was a legislative assistant,'' she said, according to the testimony. ''He worked on the Violence Against Women Act, the federal act.''
Staff lists published in 1993 show Ms. Reade listed as a staff assistant, a different position from the legislative assistant job she cited in her testimony. Both titles are common in congressional offices, with legislative assistant indicating a slightly more senior post that involves working on policy. In multiple interviews, Ms. Reade described her duties as managing the interns, never mentioning any direct work on the Violence Against Women Act.
In an interview, Mr. Soltesz described Ms. Reade as ''well spoken'' and ''a good witness on the stand,'' and said he was impressed by her experience with Mr. Biden.
But both Mr. Soltesz and Scott Erdbacher, the lawyer for Ms. Vasquez, raised objections to Ms. Reade's testimony, according to the transcript, saying they were skeptical that her work experience qualified her as an expert. The judge overruled them.
Now, Mr. Soltesz says he is exploring whether he can reopen his case. On Wednesday evening, he emailed a network of more than 100 public defenders, alerting them to questions about Ms. Reade's background and credibility.
Monique S. Hill, a lawyer in another domestic violence case in which Ms. Reade served as an expert witness, said she also saw grounds to challenge the conviction.
''Had I had the information that I have now, this case, in my mind, would have gone differently,'' said Ms. Hill, who served as a public defender.
The Monterey County chief assistant district attorney, Berkley Brannon, said that if Ms. Reade had misrepresented her academic credentials, the office would alert all defense lawyers involved in cases that featured her as an expert.
Image Ms. Reade earned credits from Pasadena City College before studying at Antioch University. Antioch disputes Ms. Reade's account that she received a degree from the university. Credit... Emily Berl for The New York Times ''That would absolutely be of concern to us, and it's something that the defense attorneys would need to know about,'' he said. ''We don't want people that we call lying about anything.''
He said the office would not make any move to contact defense lawyers until it was satisfied that she indeed had not obtained her bachelor's degree. And, speaking hypothetically, he said that the extent to which a false academic claim would affect the cases she participated in would depend on how material her testimony was to the outcome.
The Sixth District Appellate Program, a state-funded public interest law firm that represents low-income clients in the region, is also reviewing all the cases involving Ms. Reade.
Ms. Reade maintains that she has an undergraduate degree, saying the school has no record of her graduating because of special arrangements put in place to protect her from her ex-husband. She sent The Times a screenshot of a transcript showing her with 35 course credits, her department as ''BA Completion'' and nothing listed under ''date conferred'' or ''degree conferred.'' According to the photo, she entered school on Oct. 2, 2000.
Credits from her earlier studies at Pasadena City College were linked to her old social security number and name '-- the same one she now uses '-- making her worried that her ex-husband could find her and her daughter, she says. To protect her identity as a survivor of domestic abuse, Ms. Reade says she received her degree through the private assistance of the school's then-president, Tullisse Murdock. She says she never received a diploma or requested one since she was ''fast-tracked'' to law school.
''The president took it from the registrar and did it herself for complete confidentiality,'' she said in an interview.
But Ms. Hamilton, the Antioch spokeswoman, told The Times that it had spoken with Ms. Murdock, and that there was no such special arrangement with Ms. Reade. It takes 180 credits to graduate, and students earn up to a maximum of 45 for life experience or prior studies, according to the school's website.
Seattle University School of Law confirmed that Ms. Reade graduated with a J.D. degree in 2004. The school only considers accepting students with bachelor's degrees, according to its website. But it would not share what degree Ms. Reade presented with her initial application, citing federal privacy standards.
Lying in court is generally considered to be a crime, though one that can be hard to prosecute. To be considered perjury, usually the false statement has to be a knowing lie.
Even if Ms. Reade was not found to have perjured herself, exaggerating qualifications as an expert witness could be grounds for reversal of a verdict.
''An expert can only testify in certain circumstances,'' said Mark J. Reichel, a criminal defense lawyer based in Sacramento who formerly worked as a federal public defender. ''One of them is that they have expertise above the regular person. The jury is entitled to hear your qualifications.''
Updated May 21, 2020
White House and Republican officials are quietly looking at the likelihood of a pared-down Republican National Convention in the late summer. Get an email recapping the day's news Download our mobile app on iOS and Android and turn on Breaking News and Politics alerts Listen to our podcast, The Field, on Apple Podcasts and Spotify
Testing & Tracing
US To Launch Massive COVID Vaccine Test, Involves Over 100,000 "Volunteers" | Zero Hedge
In keeping with the NY Times' Editorial Narrative on climate change (''every story is a climate story''), Henry Fountain writes this piece: 'Expect More': Climate Change Raises Risk of Dam Failures. It carries the sub-title ''Engineers say most dams in the United States, designed decades ago, are unsuited to a warmer world and stronger storms.''
The story is the sad tale of the dual dam failures in Michigan '' the Edenville Dam failed and the resulting downstream flow overtopped the Sanford Lake Dam situated 10 miles further downstream on the Tittabawassee River.
Don't know where that is?
About 65 miles north of Lansing.
Fountain reports: ''The dam that failed in Central Michigan on Tuesday gave way for the same reason most do: It was overwhelmed by water. Almost five inches of rain fell in the area in the previous two days, after earlier storms had saturated the ground and swollen the Tittabawassee River, which the dam held back.''
I give Fountain some credit for his clear statement:
''No one can say yet whether the intense rainfall that preceded this disaster was made worse by climate change.''
The facts do not deter Fountain from then claiming '' using the magic ball of ''experts'' '' that:
''But global warming is already causing some regions to become wetter, and increasing the frequency of extreme storms, according to the latest National Climate Assessment. The trends are expected to continue as the world gets even warmer.
That puts more of the nation's 91,500 dams at risk of failing, engineers and dam safety experts said.''
He then quotes Amir AghaKouchak, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California, Irvine ''We should expect more of these down the road, It's unfortunate but this is what the trend is going to be. '.... Overall, he and others say, dams in the United States and elsewhere are unprepared for the changes coming in a warming world.''
This string of expert logic goes like this:
A single dam failed in rural Michigan because it received too much water coming downstream.Some places in the U.S. are getting wetter and some places are getting drier (ref: the latest National Climate Assessment).In the future, some places will continue to get wetter and some places will continue to get drier (and some places, oddly, will remain the same).Therefore: ''More'' of the 91,500 dams in the United States are at risk of failing. Gotta love those experts.
What's the real story here? Despite spinning to story to gloom-and-false-doom, as his editors require, Fountain at least admits, halfway through the story:
The dam, at Edenville Township, about 30 miles upstream from Midland, had severe design problems: It had been cited for having spillways that were inadequate to handle a maximum flood, whether affected by climate change or not. '.... But the Edenville Dam was hardly alone in being outdated, with design or maintenance deficiencies or other problems that might make it unsafe. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its latest report card on infrastructure in 2017, gave the nation's dams a ''D'' grade.
As was the case with the Oroville Dam (and subsequent posts) in California in 2017, an emergency that forced the evacuation of 188,000 people, the problem was not just ''too much rain''. There were design flaws and mismanagement of the water flows. They had not planned properly even for the present, no less predicted maximum stream flows.
Fountain unfortunately links to a model-driven study that he claims: '''...found that human-caused warming had increased early season runoff in the Sierra Nevada, contributing to the high water levels at the dam.''
''This study investigates temperature impacts to snowpack and runoff'driven flood risk over the Sierra Nevada during the extremely wet year of 2016''2017, which followed the extraordinary California drought of 2011''2015. By perturbing near'surface temperatures from a 9'km dynamically downscaled simulation, a series of offline land surface model experiments explore how Sierra Nevada hydrology has already been impacted by historical anthropogenic warming and how these impacts evolve under future warming scenarios.''
We already know that good snowpack years followed by early and warm springs cause heavy run-off '' more run-off, less soaking in '-- which is generally good for California's reservoirs.
Stream flows, higher or lower, are caused by weather. Long-term averages are considered climate.
This flood event on the Tittabawassee River:
[ link ]
For the Tittabawassee River, the recent event was a record, but we find that the historical crests (highest flood waters) have, as usual in climate science journalism, been neglected and left out of the report in favor of alarming news about the present.
20 Highest Historic Crests '-- Tittabawassee River at Midland
35.05, 05/20/2020 '' This recent event.
I could find no reliable historical precipitation records for Central Michigan, though there is some observational evidence that the spring season has been wetter in recent years, but we can see that flood events are spread out over the decades, and happen every couple of years.
So '' what is the real problem that resulted in this disaster for so many residents and businesses in the Midland area?
GREED: ''The wrestling match among four communities in Michigan's heavily flooded areas, state and federal officials, and Boyce [Boyce Hydro Power LLC] goes back several years. The company and the community have been trying to get the other to pay for improvements as far back as 2012.''
And self-interest: ''When Boyce stopped generating power at the Edenville Dam, which is on the border of Midland and Gladwin counties, the company let the water level on Wixom Lake fall. Four area homeowners associations that had banded together to form the Four Lakes Task Force crafted a plan to have the two counties buy out Boyce and give oversight of the dams to the task force'.... ''People were upset because they couldn't use the lake the way they wanted to,'' said Stacy Trapani, a spokeswoman for Four Lakes.'' [ link ]
In short, everyone '' local, state, federal and corporate officials knew that the dam was unsafe and would not stand up to a major flood event. But no one wanted to pay for the needed upgrades to make it safe. Local residents were upset when the power company used the water in the lakes to make electricity as that caused the water levels to fluctuate and interfered with their recreational boating and marinas '' thus they advocating for leaving the lakes full.
These two overlapping and competing interests caused a disaster '' not the weather, not the climate, not climate change.
[Editing Note: Several editing errors were corrected 2145 ET 22 May 2020 ]
# # # # #
And that's the news for the day'....
I have not mentioned the other factors that generally add to the flooding of America's rivers '' dredging, diking, narrowing of the stream bed and other human interference with Nature's unavoidable need to let water flow downhill. You can bet there is a some of that on the Tittabawassee River as well.
# # # # #
Iran's President calls for national crypto mining strategy
The Cryptocurrency Post '' Chairing Iran's monetary coordination base camp '' a course for the national financial technique '' not long ago, Rouhani told authorities from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), vitality office and data and correspondence innovation services that they expected to devise another national strategy for crypto mining, including guideline and mining income, Iranian news site ArzDigital detailed Wednesday.
The news comes scarcely two days after the Iranian parliament distributed a bill proposing to apply the nation's severe outside trade and cash carrying guideline to cryptographic forms of money. The new parliamentary law would likewise require crypto trades working in the nation to initially enlist with the CBI '' perhaps in a transition to attempt to forestall an excessive amount of capital leaving the nation.
Punishments for carrying in Iran can incorporate fines and detainment.
Only months prior, the organization of U.S. President Donald Trump raised worries that Iranians were utilizing advanced resources so as to go around sanctions.
Iran was one of the principal nations to authoritatively perceive digital currency mining as a genuine industry back in July 2019. The administration currently gives mining licenses, giving organizations the option to mine and afterward auction any computerized resources created. An industry report in January said Iran had given more than 1,000 such licenses in its initial a half year.
Iran at present has a 4% share in bitcoin's complete hashrate, as per the Bitcoin Mining Map, more than twofold what it was toward the start of September 2019.
It's indistinct why Rouhani needs Iranian authorities to return to bitcoin mining guideline. With the clampdown on esteem leaving the nation, as cryptographic forms of money, it's conceivable the President needs to guarantee excavators, as well, aren't removing their cash from the administration's grip.
In the coronavirus pandemic, cash is a scary concept - Los Angeles Times
''This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.'' That's what it says right under ''Federal Reserve Note'' and ''The United States of America.''
But legal tender won't be accepted to play at one of the city of Los Angeles' dozen public golf courses. Or for the $15 charge to enter the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Arcadia. More than 30 Armstrong Garden Centers around California also ask for ''touchless'' payment options, as does the Beehive clothing boutique in Manhattan Beach and the Munch Company sandwich shop in South Pasadena.
The almighty dollar has lost some of its might in the time of COVID-19. While most struggling businesses will take payment in any form to make ends meet during the economic downturn, a minority reject cash, fearing that it could be a transmission vehicle for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Some experts predict that the pandemic will accelerate a steady flight by American consumers away from dollars and cents.
''This crisis is clearly pushing us even farther away from using cash in our everyday legal transactions,'' said Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economics professor and author of ''The Curse of Cash.'' ''And it's for obvious reasons. No one wants to touch something you or someone else just touched. That's not going to change any time soon.''
Maricela Moreno, a cashier at El Tarasco in Marina del Rey, dries the disinfected dead presidents on a paper towel before returning them to the cash drawer.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Dollars remain in record circulation around the world, in part as a perceived safe haven for investors and, not infrequently, according to Rogoff, as the preferred vehicle for money launderers and tax evaders. But on Main Street, the use of greenbacks makes some retailers and customers flinch, and contrary to popular belief, there is no federal law that requires businesses to accept bills and coins, according to the Federal Reserve's website.
Noshi Sushi in Koreatown, a cash-only business for decades, has begun taking ATM and credit cards and now completes nearly half its transactions with plastic, said manager Jacky Gomez.
At a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Manhattan Beach, cashier Jennai Dreger notices how cash often comes scribbled with notations. ''People put down their phone numbers and I see the area codes are from all over the place,'' said Dreger. ''And, I'm like, 'OK, this money has been everywhere.' ''
She much prefers the no-touch transactions when customers use the coffee chain's mobile phone app. ''I don't have to touch their money. I don't have to touch their card. I don't have to touch anything. The only contact is between the scanner and their phone,'' Dreger said. ''And I am like, 'Yes!' ''
Sinnaca Bell of South Los Angeles delivers food for Postmates. He has noticed even before the COVID crisis how cash would be stained, sometimes with what looked like blood. ''If you have Venmo, or anything like that, you use it,'' said Bell, 41. ''Most people don't really want to deal with cash.''
There has not been specific research on the danger of the coronavirus being transmitted via cash. A National Institutes of Health study found that SARS-CoV-2 remained infectious on cardboard for up to 24 hours. But germs picked up from surfaces can be eliminated by thorough hand washing. The primary means of transmission remains through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
That doesn't make cash any less creepy to many of the consumers and workers who handle bills, with no way of knowing who has touched them before.
Kay Nam, owner of Current Events newsstand in Manhattan Beach, said she serves customers every day who leave cash and coins rather than take the money, and potential germs, with them.
''With the virus, some people don't want to touch money at all,'' said Nam, whose family has owned the business for 22 years. Some loyal customers also want to leave their change to help support a local business, including one regular who pays $20 for his $2.50 newspaper. Says Nam: ''There are a lot of good people out there.''
Good intentions don't equal safety, though, and most cashiers said they wash their hands routinely, sometimes after every transaction. Or they apply regular shots of hand sanitizer.
Maricela Moreno wipes down a counter at El Tarasco. She laughs a bit at her money laundering (the literal and legal kind, that is) but adds: ''Why not? Just to be safe.''
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
At El Tarasco, a Mexican food joint in Marina del Rey, cashier Maricela Moreno goes a step further. She takes each new bill offered to her and sprays it down with alcohol. She leaves the dead presidents lying atop a paper towel until they have dried, before returning them to the cash drawer.
Moreno laughs a bit at her money laundering (the literal and legal kind, that is) but adds: ''Why not? Just to be safe.''
A shift to other forms of payment has been encouraged by government agencies, such as the California Department of Public Health, which suggests the use of debit and credit cards. Reopening plans for multiple counties also recommend ''contactless'' payment systems.
The retreat of cash comes with an advance of electronic payment systems such as Square, created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, and PayPal, also the parent of Venmo.
PayPal added an average of 250,000 new accounts a day through April and now has 325 million active accounts worldwide, up from 277 million accounts a year ago. More than half of its accounts are in the United States.
''I think what's happened with the pandemic is it's taken a three- to five-year time frame that it would have taken for digital payments to hit a tipping point and fast-forwarded it to reach that tipping point literally within months,'' PayPal Chief Executive Daniel Schulman said in an interview.
Although some older consumers had clung to cash, the digital pay platform now sees the 50-plus age group as its fastest-growing demographic. ''Before it used to be cash or checks. Now they are going to a payment platform to send money to the grandkids,'' Schulman said.
Some businesses prefer cash to reduce charges from bank card companies. They also don't suffer a tremendous penalty for holding the money outside of banks, for a time, because low interest rates would generate almost no growth. But there are hidden costs, like the higher rates of insurance paid by companies that carry lots of currency.
Much of the demand for cash in the United States comes from businesses that also save by underreporting their income and thus illegally reducing their taxes, said Harvard's Rogoff. His 2016 book concluded that about 15% of individual federal taxes are never paid, even after audits, amounting to a $500-million-a-year loss for the U.S. Treasury.
While many hail the shift to a cashless economy, others say that it raises equity concerns, because the poorest Americans have no access to digital alternatives. Much of the world, led by Scandinavia and Japan, has moved to ensure that virtually their entire populations have access to online payments. China introduced a digital currency this spring in four cities, paving the way to its becoming perhaps the world's first cashless society.
But a survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. found that roughly 6% of the U.S. population, about 14.1 million adults, doesn't have a checking or savings account, and thus can't access funds online. That gap will have to be closed if America is ever to come closer to a cashless future.
Acknowledging the ''bankless'' community, San Francisco last year passed a measure requiring all businesses to keep taking cash. The policy remains in place, despite the pandemic.
For now, many businesses just want to reassure customers that their transactions won't come freighted with a load of microscopic intruders.
''We don't know when it will be time to take cash again,'' said John Chen, owner of the Munch Company. ''For right now, we just avoid contact. It's a good thing for everyone. We keep everyone safe and happy.''
Times staff writer Sarah Parvini contributed to this story.
VIDEO-Erin O'Toole on Twitter: "Justin Trudeau doesn't want Canadians to see this. ððWill you help us get the truth out? https://t.co/ogmrM4FES6" / Twitter
@Dean_Winnipeg @ErinOTooleMP how's this Erin....O OH !
View conversation · Stephen Best @ BestStephen
19h Replying to
@ErinOTooleMP How viable, I wonder, would the Alberta oil sands be if not for Chinese and Saudi Arabian investment.
View conversation · NS Dave @ dave1oakns
18h Replying to
@BestStephen @delarunwoman @ErinOTooleMP Tar sands oil is about the most expensive to produce in the world.As the world moves to other energy sources, the time is rapidly coming to let that industry die a natural death.
View conversation · Greg Michaels @ kootenaygreg
19h Replying to
@ErinOTooleMP Wait till they start buying up Kenney's new coal mines.
@kootenaygreg @ErinOTooleMP I guess Erin doesn't need the pipelines to the west now that China isn't going to be LPG & oil customer any more. As they've bought into the oil patch, they will be suing CDA as per the treaty Erin & Harper signed allowing them to do it.
View conversation · Greg @ greg_scott84
19h Replying to
@ErinOTooleMP @WeAreCanProud What garbage!!! Do not listen to this pied piper, he's a blue Globalist, just as Trudeau is a red Globalist.Erin will NEVER talk about the bigger picture or the root of our problems. He'll dance around the UN Sustainable Development Agenda and blame everything on Trudeau.
View conversation · BWheat @ bucwheat1
14h Replying to
@greg_scott84 @DonnaReiter6 and
2 others The problem is... all the parties are globalists... you vote for the status quo... time to tear it down and rebuild, with power to the people! They pay, they are the CEO! Elected officials are ''employees''
View conversation ·
VIDEO-Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) on Twitter: "President @realDonaldTrump says he doesn't think Joe Biden remembers what he did yesterday https://t.co/qesVGyDPFm" / Twitter
Atlantic Council senior fellow, Congressional candidate, and Russia conspiracy theorist Evelyn Farkas is desperately trying to salvage her reputation after recently released transcripts from her closed-door 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed she totally lied on national TV.
In March of 2017, Farkas confidently told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski: "The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would not longer have access to that intelligence."
Except, during testimony to the House, Farkas admitted she lied. When pressed by former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on why she said 'we' - referring to the US government, Farkas said she "didn't know anything."
In short, she was either illegally discussing US intelligence matters with her "former colleagues," or she made the whole thing up.
Now, Farkas is in damage control mode - writing in the Washington Post that her testimony demonstrated "that I had not leaked intelligence and that my early intuition about Trump-Kremlin cooperation was valid.' She also claims that her comments to MSNBC were based on "media reports and statements by Obama administration officials and the intelligence community," which had "began unearthing connections between Trump's campaign and Russia."
Farkas is now blaming a 'disconcerting nexus between Russia and the reactionary right,' for making her look bad (apparently Trey Gowdy is part of the "reactionary right" for asking her who she meant by "we").
Attacks against me came first on Twitter and other social media platforms, from far-right sources. Forensics data I was shown suggested at least one entity had Russian ties. The attacks increased in quantity and ferocity until Fox News and Trump-allied Republicans '-- higher-profile, and more mainstream, sources '-- also criticized me.
Trump surrogates, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson have essentially accused me of treason for being one of the ''fraudulent originators'' of the ''Russia hoax.'' -Evelyn Farkas
She then parrots the Democratic talking point that the attacks she's received are part of Trump's larger "Obamagate" allegations - "a narrative that distracts attention from his administration's disastrous pandemic response and attempts to defect blame for Russian interference onto the Obama administration" (Obama told Putin to 'cut it out' after all).
Meanwhile, Poor Evelyn's campaign staff has become "emotionally exhausted" after her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts have been "overwhelmed with a stream of vile, vulgar and sometimes violent messages" in response to the plethora of conservative outlets which have called her out for Russia malarkey.
There is evidence that Russian actors are contributing to these attacks. The same day that right-wing pundits began pumping accusations, newly created Russian Twitter accounts picked them up. Within a day, Russian ''disinformation clearinghouses'' posted versions of the story. Many of the Twitter accounts boosting attacks have posted in unison, a sign of inauthentic social media behavior.
We assume Zero Hedge is included in said 'disinformation clearinghouses' Farkas fails to expound on.
She closes by defiantly claiming "I wasn't silenced in 2017, and I won't be silenced now."
No Evelyn, nobody is silencing you. You're being called out for your role in the perhaps the largest, most divisive hoax in US history - which was based on faulty intelligence that includes crowdstrike admitting they had no proof of that Russia exfiltrated DNC emails, and Christopher Steele's absurd dossier based on his 'Russian sources.'
VIDEO -Changing Facts! Testing AntiBodies - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak '-- 5/21/2020 - YouTube
Thailand began testing a vaccine against the coronavirus on monkeys on Saturday (May 23) after successful trials in mice. Edward Baran reports.
WorldThailand begins coronavirus vaccine trials on monkeysDeath toll in Pakistan plane crash reaches 97Easing lockdown, Spain to reopen for tourism in JulyUK's Johnson resists calls to sack aide accused of lockdown breachRussian villagers living in shadows of past pandemicsUK brings in mandatory quarantine for arrivalsIndigenous leaders: stop oil drilling in the AmazonA digital 'immunity passport' is tested, with cautionHong Kong could host mainland intelligence basesSouth Korea's advanced virus-tracking raises privacy fearsPIA plane carrying 99 crashes in KarachiU.S. demands immediate start to WHO reviewSocial distancing circles marked out at San Francisco parkSocial distancing circles marked out at San Francisco parkEmergency services rush to Pakistan plane crashPro-democracy lawmaker warns of ''end of Hong Kong'''Our houses are gone': Kenya suffers devastating floodsItalian restaurant offers touch-free menusPlane crashes in Pakistan with around 100 on boardKhashoggi family forgives those who killed their fatherfor-phone-only for-tablet-portrait-up for-tablet-landscape-up for-desktop-up for-wide-desktop-up
.@JoeBiden on @breakfastclubam: Only a couple things everybody has in common in jail: 1) victims of abuse or their mother was 2) can't read 3) they don't have any job skills pic.twitter.com/iDPvkx4SvE
'-- America Rising (@AmericaRising) May 22, 2020
Imagine how crazy this man is when this doesn't even get any attention because of the other comment he made in the interview.
Via Daily Caller:
Former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that something everybody in jail has in common is that they ''can't read.''
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told popular radio host Charlamagne Tha God that people in jail were ''victims of abuse'' and lack ''job skills,'' while discussing prison reform.
''Only a couple things everybody has in common in jail,'' Biden said. ''One is they were the victims of abuse or their kids were, or their mother was. Number two: can't read. Number three: they don't have any job skills, they were in a position where they didn't get a chance.''
VIDEO - Opus 222 Liars and Bad Choices | Steve Pieczenik Talks
Opus 220 Little Richard Rest in Paradise May 10, 2020
I love Rock and Roll! I really loved Little Richard! May he always be remembered for his genius and his spirit. Related Articles
OPUS 215 Update on CoVid Crisis Apr 25, 2020
Here's an update on crisis and leadership. Trump has done a great job yet the #FakeNews portrays the opposite. I can tell who reads/listens to #MockingbirdMedia AND who is smart enough to ignore it. https://stevepieczenik.com/product/am... Related Articles
OPUS 214 Trump cleanses America! Apr 14, 2020
Hear me loud and clear! Trump2020 is cleaning out the disease of corruption, sex trafficking, drug trafficking and CCP funded institutions. He has the List and now its time to get #BacktoWork! There will be troublemakers but #America is strong. I know what I am...
OPUS 212 This is War! Trump Wins! Apr 8, 2020
ChiComs are liars and this is WAR! The main player are communist Chinese but there are plenty of other villians that shall be called out later. Xi is weak but desperate. Hear me out. Wondering how I know these things, hear my life...
OPUS 212 Trump Leads thru Crisis! Apr 6, 2020
Thank God for #Trump's steadfast leadership during Crisis especially considering the unjust treatment by Mockingbirdmedia and the quack doctors who r paid off by big pharma and worse... I am a Board Certified Physician and I know a crisis when I see one...
OPUS 211 Fauci and Pope CoVid Opportunists! Mar 31, 2020
Fauci and Pope Francis are both opportunists who are corrupted by their own schemes and handlers. I am calling them both out! Never let a good crisis go to waste. I think Trump movement sees thru this charade. Who the hell am I to say this? Buy my audiobook and get #truth while u self-quarantine.
OPUS 210 GET BACK to WORK! Mar 30, 2020
America! Get back to work! Stop with this #FearFactor #Fauci BS. Forget the #FakeNews and forget the bloated #CDC #HHS. This is a classic FF look at history and look a #realscience. I am a doctor and my brother is a microbiologist. Hear me...
VIDEO - Professors working with China are 'selling out the American people,' says Cabot Phillips
Eduardo Neret Digital Reporter @eduneret on May 23, 2020 at 11:30 AM EDT Campus Reform Editor-in-Chief Cabot Phillips appeared on Fox News to discuss the latest updates on Chinese influence on college campuses.Phillips highlighted Chinese funded Confucius Institutes and professors accused of lying about their ties to China.Campus Reform Editor-in-Chief Cabot Phillips detailed the extent of Chinese influence on college campuses in a recent appearance on Fox News at Night with Shannon Bream.
Phillips told Bream and viewers about the 75 Confucius Institutes at higher education institutions across the country.
"We need to dissuade professors from using taxpayer dollars and searching abroad for the highest bidder and selling out the American people..."
"Confucius Institutes are Chinese Communist Party centers on college campuses," Phillips explained. "They purport to teach Chinese language and culture to students on campus, but the Chinese minister of propaganda openly admits they are propaganda centers hoping to influence the curriculums on campus and to make sure they're controlling the narrative around the Chinese government."
Later in the interview, Phillips explained the other aspect of Chinese influence which involves the Chinese Communist Party "essentially buying research from American professors."
[RELATED: WATCH: China expert says communist regime unlike anything 'since the Third Reich']
[RELATED: Head of Harvard chemistry charged with lying about ties to university in Chinese coronavirus hub]
"We've seen...a dozen [professors] in the past year or so that have been caught using federal research dollars to conduct research here in America and then turning around and selling it to the Chinese Communist Party secretly."
Phillips called for accountability from lawmakers and for more awareness of China's influence on campus.
"Any professor that's caught should be held accountable to the furthest extent of the law," Phillips said. "We need to dissuade professors from using taxpayer dollars and searching abroad for the highest bidder and selling out the American people in exchange for a fat payday from the Chinese Communist Party."
For more coverage of the China threat on American college campuses, visit campusreform.org/china. Follow the author of this article on Facebook: @eduneret and Twitter: @eduneret
VIDEO - Chris Wallace Completely Debunks Bogus Mail-In Voter Fraud Claims | Crooks and Liars
On today's Fox News America's Newsroom, toady Ed Henry questioned Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about Trump's attacks against all forms of mail-in voting in upcoming elections.
Trump hasn't found a conspiracy that he doesn't admire and then promote.
''There really is no record of massive fraud, or even serious fraud, from mail-in voting,'' Wallace said.
He continued, "There's no indication that mail-in voting as opposed to in-person voting tends to favor one party over another. If anything, it tends to favor Republicans. --- who historically have tended to vote most often by mail, are elderly people, people over 65. And they tend to vote more Republican than Democratic."
After Ed Henry brought up Texas Governor Abbott's idiotic complaints about failed deliveries on some Amazon packages, Wallace quickly swatted that aside.
''What he's basically saying is you can't trust the U.S. Mail," Wallace said. "The history is that mail-in ballots are honest, and there is very, very little indication of fraud."
Wallace pointed out that billions of votes are cast in our elections, yet barely a thousand cases have been reported.
The idea of massive voter fraud is another conspiracy theory contrived by Trump months before the 2016 election to at first blunt his possible loss and then because he lost the popular vote by over 2 1/2 million votes in the general election, he used that as the reason he got trounced.
If anything, hiring Kansas' Kris Kobach, who has made his career out of bogus voting fraud claims proved that they don't exist any more than unicorns and the flying spaghetti monster does.
But grifters gotta grift.
VIDEO - Symone Sanders Flattens Chuck Todd's Effort To 'But Her Emails' Biden | Crooks and Liars
Chuck Todd tried to ask a question of Joe Biden's senior aide, Symone Sanders, who could run intellectual and political circles around him even when she strolls slowly, and he face-planted spectacularly. Todd played some extremely gentle criticism of Biden's remarks by Patrick Gaspard, (President Obama's political director) regarding an interview on The Breakfast Club. Then Todd proceeded to downplay Biden's record (a record Gaspard openly extolled) by saying, "But what about his silly-old-timer talk?"
Before he could even finish his poorly thought out question, she cut him off and said, essentially "I am not doing this."
TODD: And Symone, let me put the question to you this way. I know you have Joe Biden's record. And you have a long list of when he goes off the cuff he seems to speak with sort of an older generation stereotype at times in some of this stuff. When you've been around him, what would be your explanation to someone who might --
SANDERS: Chuck, I'm not going to do this: I'm not going to do this.
TODD: Why does this happen?
SANDERS: I'm not going to do this. Because let me be really clear. Vice President Biden absolutely has a respect level for all people around him for voters across this country. Young people. Older voters. Voters of color, Black people, Latino voters, indigenous, Asian-American, Pacific Islander. So I'm not going to even traffic in any hypothetical conversation about if he is sensitive enough.
Look, there are real issues that we have to address in this country. And Vice President Biden has been speaking directly to the voters even well before the coronavirus crisis on those issues. He is going to meet people where they are. The fact that we can even talk about an interview on The Breakfast Club is because Vice President Biden went there to have that conversation. If you watch the interview, they talk about the fact that they need to talk some more. That Charlamagne says he should come to New York.
And so this isn't a question about whether -- this isn't a question about whether Vice President Biden has the sensitivity. This is truly a question about in this race what we have is a question about leadership, about who is ready to lead and able to lead for all Americans. But who also has a plan for those folks. Who can put their money where their mouth is. Put their plans where their mouth is and not just offer lip service to a community. And Vice President Biden's record speaks to that. He's not offering lip service. He's offering results. That stands in stark contrast to what we're seeing from this White House.
Look, I know President Trump and his allies like to talk a lot about their criminal justice reform efforts. They have yet to allocate ONE PENNY from their budget to the First Step Act. Let's put our money where our mouth is. Let's not talk about platitudes. Let's talk about the plans we have and how we turn the plans into actionable items. Joe Biden has led when it comes to a recovery for Americans. Take it back to the Recovery Act. He will do so in the Biden recovery. That is a recovery that will specifically speak directly to the African-American community.
Chuck Todd tried his damndest to "BUT HER EMAILS" Biden's age and generation-speak, when we are in the fight for our nation's life. She puts him out of his misery, so he doesn't have to finish whatever it is he was trying to ask. That was exceedingly kind of her, but it's also possible she couldn't take any more of his twisting in the wind trying to put together what was likely going to be a totally stupid, and possibly racist question.
The Hill on Friday spoke with Anthony Fauci Anthony FauciREAD: The Hill's interview with Anthony Fauci On The Money: Jobless rate exceeds 20 percent in three states | Senate goes on break without passing small business loan fix | Biden pledges to not raise taxes on those making under 0K Overnight Health Care: Fauci on why a vaccine by end of year is 'aspirational' | Trump demands governors allow churches to open | Birx says DC metro area has highest positivity rate MORE , director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation's top infectious disease expert. The following transcript is edited only to clarify The Hill's questions.
I want to start with progress on developing a vaccine. You've said that, starting in January, we were 12-18 months away from a vaccine, but now we hear some people saying there may be a vaccine by the end of the year. Is that realistic?
In January, when we first began the development of one of the candidates, one of the several candidates, I had said that we would hope by carefully but nonetheless quickly going through the various steps without compromising safety or scientific integrity, I felt that within a year to a year and a half, we very well might have a vaccine that is available for deployment. I said that in January, and a year from January is December.
I think with the way things are progressing now and the fact that we're going to be proceeding from one step to the other with risk for investment but not risk for the patients '-- in other words, in the standard way you develop a vaccine, you do not make major investments in the next step until you are fairly sure that the prior step works and you are satisfied with it. If you jump ahead and at least prepare and make investments, for example preparing sites for trial and even beginning to produce vaccine before you even know it's safe and effective, that you're taking a risk, and the risk is a financial risk, it's not a safety risk. If you do that, you can cut down by several months the process of getting vaccines available as opposed to waiting until you're fairly sure everything works and then beginning for example manufacturing the doses. When you start manufacturing them ahead of time, then the risk is financial, because if it works, you've saved a lot of time. If it doesn't, then you've invested money you're not going to recoup. I think when you put those things together, again with good attention to safety and scientific integrity, it is conceivable that if things work out right, you could have a vaccine that could be ready to be deployed by the end of the year, the beginning of 2021.
That is assuming that the vaccine works. We're talking timetables that any time you develop a vaccine, you always remember, you always have a question that you may not get an effective vaccine. Even if you do everything right and you do everything on time, there's no guarantee you're going to have an effective vaccine. So when we talk about having a vaccine that might be available in December or January, that's assuming that the vaccine is actually effective.
What does it mean to "have" a vaccine? How many doses need to be developed, distributed or administered before we can legitimately say it's available? World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the virus won't be defeated until everyone in the world has access to a vaccine.
That's the reason why you need not only multiple shots on goal with multiple companies involved is because it increases the chance that you're going to have more than one successful vaccine, but also if you need multiple companies with all of their capabilities producing a vaccine to have vaccine that's not only enough for us here in the United States but also for the rest of the world. We're not alone on this planet. There are a lot of other countries and nations and regions that would need vaccines.
I'm fairly certain that the idea if you ramp up production and start months ahead of time, like this summer, instead of waiting until the late fall and early winter, which would delay the availability of doses and drugs that if you started reasonably soon as we enter into the late spring, early summer and as we get into the phase three trial, that you could have 100 million doses by the end of the year and maybe a couple of hundred million doses by the beginning of next year. I mean that's aspirational. The companies think that they can do that with the right financial backing.
How concerned are you about the strength of the supply chain necessary to distribute a vaccine '-- the vials, needles, syringes, et cetera?
In this process, this rapid approach toward a vaccine '-- it was given the name Operation Warp Speed. I'm a little concerned by that name because it can imply by warp speed that you're going so fast that you're skipping over important steps and are not paying enough attention to safety, which is absolutely not the case. But in this program of hastening the development of the vaccine, it's something that we do feel actually is feasible to get the kinds of doses that you would need.
As part of that program, we've employed a person, a general in the United States Army, Gustave Perna, who is really very very highly regarded in military circles for his ability to do things like supply chain and distribution and things like that.
The debate in Congress lately has been over the economic side of the recovery. What do you want to see from Congress to address the public health side of the crisis?
Congress has been extraordinarily generous in giving to the CDC and to the NIH and to the other agencies of the federal government enough resources to be able to do the job that we're being challenged to do. The Congress, the Senate and the House, both sides of the aisle have been extremely generous from the public health standpoint, as well as the economic.
Just from observing the amount of investment to help the economy recover has been extraordinary. And similarly they've made major investments in having us be able to do our work in public health and biomedical research.
The Senate is in D.C., but the House is voting remotely. Should lawmakers be coming to D.C. or is that too much of a risk?
I would leave that both to their own discretion and the advice of the House and Senate physician, rather than my opining about what they should or should not do. They have good medical advice and they should follow that medical advice.
CDC did not issue guidance on reopening churches and houses of worship. How would you advise houses of worship to reopen safely?
There are guidelines in general that are given about reopening that can be applied to houses of worship. I wouldn't say there are no guidelines there, there are some general guidelines for that, and it's done in the same measured way that we do opening other areas where there's congregation. You have to be careful, it depends on the particular state, city, region, county that you're in and what the dynamics of the outbreak are. So if you're in an area where there's relatively little infection, as there are in certain regions of the country, versus an area where there is still a high degree of infection, how you approach what you do in houses of worship really varies. You want to make sure that you have good physical distance, wearing a mask where appropriate when you cannot separate yourself from an individual physically, all of those things are a combination of what is already in the guidelines as well as common sense.
Were you surprised to hear President Trump Donald John TrumpREAD: The Hill's interview with Anthony Fauci Trump's routing number revealed as press secretary announces he's donating quarterly salary to HHS: report Former White House aide won M contract to supply masks amid pandemic MORE is taking hydroxychloroquine?
I'm not going to comment on that.
What's the best role for antibody testing now? Should we be relying on antibody testing as a metric for reopening?
I think we have to be careful because we want to make sure when we do antibody testing that we have tests that have been validated and that are reliable. The other thing is that we have to be careful because we do not know at this time what a positive antibody test means. It certainly does mean that you've been exposed and that it's likely that you've recovered, particularly if you are without symptoms. The durability of the antibody response, the degree of protection that you get, the relationship between the type of antibody, and whether you are or are not protected and for how long are still things that are open questions that we are examining to see if we can add some solid science to it.
Certainly the suggestion is that if you have recovered and you have antibody positivity, that you at least for a reasonable period of time you are protected. That's the assumption. The assumption is probably correct, but we haven't definitively proven it yet. So I believe that antibody tests have value in getting a feel for what the penetrance of the infection was in society. You could easily figure that out by finding out how many people actually were exposed and infected by doing an antibody test. That you can determine and that would be important in giving you an idea about how much undetectable infection there was in society. Because the significant number of infections, the person remains asymptomatic. You would not know that unless you do various surveillance studies, and one of the ways to do a surveillance study is by doing screening with antibody tests.
Some states are reopening without meeting CDC's guidelines. Does that concern you?
It is prudent for states who are at various levels of infection to follow the guidelines that have come out about reopening or opening America again. And that is to get past the gateway criteria and then go into the various phases at the rates that are prescribed by the guidelines. Obviously if some states don't do that, there is always a risk that you may have a resurgence. Hopefully if there is the states at least have the capability of addressing that by having the manpower, the tests and the process in place to identify, isolate and contact trace. So hopefully they will have that in place to prevent significant resurgence.
Much of the federal response has been to let the states act on their own. Has that hindered the federal response? Without national guidelines, how can we be sure every state is reporting and following the same metrics?
The system in our country is that the federal government provides general guidance, general direction, and backs up with resources, where necessary, the states. But the states have the discretion of the pace at which they are going to make this attempt to reopen. There are a set of guidelines they can follow, but there's a certain amount of discretion because it isn't one-size-fits-all. We have a big country and we have varying degrees and dynamics of the outbreak in different parts of the country. And although the federal government does provide backup and support and guidance, ultimately the states are the ones that make that decision.
The United States is closing in on 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. How do you assess where we are on the epidemiological curve?
One of the things that is going to be important is that as we open up and try to get back to some degree of normality and pull back on the mitigation is what is our capability? And I hope it's intact. I believe it is in certain areas. What is our capability of being able to respond to the inevitable blips that you will see when you pull back on mitigation, and the workforce that can do it to be able to identify, isolate and contact trace. If we have that in place and it's good, then there will not be a significantly larger number of infections. If we don't handle that well, we could have even more infections than the models are projecting.
One of the models that I was quoting back then was saying there would between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths, and we're very close to having 100,000 right now. Hopefully it doesn't get significantly more than that, but that will depend on how well we respond to the inevitable rebounds that you will see as you pull back. If you respond well, you may keep that number relatively low.
When was the last time you were tested? How often are you tested?
I've been testing negative a lot. What's today? Friday? Yesterday, I was negative.
Have you been surprised by the role politics is playing in this outbreak? Even a virus has become a political football in our hyperpartisan times.
I try to dissociate myself from that, and do what I've done all along, is to try and give the best public health advice and guidance based on data, based on science and based on evidence. I've always done that and I've successfully been able to stay out of some of the political whirlwind that happens all the time.
I'm not surprised this is a political situation. It happens, I mean it isn't the first time that it's happened, but I try to dissociate myself with that.
You've become more visible than ever, even more so than during Ebola or H1N1. Has that changed your daily life in any way?
It's kind of transformed my daily life into 20-hour days, 18- and 19-hour days, quite intense. As it should be, because this is a very serious problem and we feel a great deal of responsibility to get this right for the health and safety of the American public.
Do you see a possibility for major pro sports leagues to play games this year, even without fans?
I think there is. Several of the major league organizations, baseball, football, soccer are all trying to do something in a way that would be safe for the players, safe if there are any spectators. Certainly the first line would be that these sports where you could televise it and the people can get the benefit of seeing the sport without necessarily congregating in a stadium or an arena. I think the various major league sports are trying to be creative keeping in mind that their first responsibility, that is the safety of the players and the personnel, and also if there are fans, the safety of the fans.
I can't predict with any certainty what's going to be able to be done but I can tell you that there's a great deal of discussion to see if in fact we can get some sports events during this year.
The coronavirus has disproportionately hit African Americans and other minority communities. How do we use the crisis to address historical health disparities?
I hope that we take the lesson that we're learning from COVID-19 to refocus on the things that we've known all along, that there are significant health disparities that we need to address. A bright light gets shined on that when you're in a crisis situation the way we are now, when you see these very disturbing numbers of African Americans and other minorities again bearing the brunt of the burden of disease. And I hope that when we get this COVID-19 under control, we don't forget about the fact that we still need to address these health disparities, which will be there unless we address them.
How long do you envision staying in your position? Have you considered retiring?
No, I haven't thought about retiring. I've got too much work to do right now.
VIDEO - NEW ZEALAND YOU CANNOT SHOP UNLESS YOU ARE TRACED! COMING SOON (Mirrored) - YouTube
The Confederacy of Dunces can't even do its own propaganda without messing up. And of course the administration blamed the media for their own incompetence, saying "leave it to the media to find a shameful reason not to simply report the facts, focusing instead on whether the check is real or not.''
Source: The Guardian
Efforts to highlight Donald Trump's largesse during his time in office have backfired after his press secretary appeared to display the US president's personal bank details to the world.
At a press conference on Friday, Kayleigh McEnany announced that Trump would donate his quarterly pay cheque to the Department of Health and Human Services to ''support the efforts being undertaken to confront, contain and combat the coronavirus''. So far, so laudable.
However, when she held up the $100,000 cheque for White House reporters to see, it came complete with all Trump's banking details.
An administration official told the New York Times mock cheques were never used in the briefing, with a White House statement saying, ''Today his salary went to help advance new therapies to treat this virus, but leave it to the media to find a shameful reason not to simply report the facts, focusing instead on whether the check is real or not.''
Having such details puts a bank account at risk of hacking or use by others. The relevant details in the cheque have been cropped out of the picture used in this story.
Mike Chapple, a teaching professor of information technology at the University of Notre Dame, told the newspaper that this showed why large promotional cheques were used for TV. ''They're not only a nice prop onstage, but they also omit the sensitive account information that normally appears at the bottom,'' he said. ''The rest of us should play it safe and keep our account numbers to ourselves.''
VIDEO - Al Sharpton Calls Biden's Comments 'Ludicrous,' Inappropriate' | Weasel Zippers
USS Portland (LPD-27) successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a Solid State Laser. US Navy Image
Amphibious ship USS Portland (LPD-27) shot down a drone with a laser weapon during a first-of-its-kind at-sea test of the Navy's high-energy laser weapon system.
The Navy is currently developing and testing a portfolio of laser weapons, some of which are more powerful but only suited for ships with greater power-generation capabilities, like the San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks (LPD-17), while others are less powerful but could be fielded on a greater variety of ships, including the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
In this test, Portland fired its high-power laser weapon at an unmanned aerial vehicle while operating off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on May 16, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced in a news release today.
''By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,'' Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland, said in the news release.
''The Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator is a unique capability the Portland gets to test and operate for the Navy, while paving the way for future weapons systems,'' he added. ''With this new advanced capability, we are redefining war at sea for the Navy.''
Portland, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, was tapped in 2018 to be the first ship to test the Solid State Laser '' Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0 at sea. This second iteration of SSL-TM, which is ultimately expected to become a 150-kilowatt laser weapon, draws from lessons learned from Office of Naval Research (ONR) demonstrations and testing that date back to 2011. The original 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System (LaWS) was used by interim afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations from 2014 to 2017 to gather data and lessons learned on how the system performed in an operational setting.
This follow-on SSL-TM has challenged scientists to made advances in areas like the beam director and spectral beam combining, which takes many lasers of different wave lengths and creates a more powerful beam by ''ganging them up,'' Frank Peterkin, the Navy's senior technologist for directed energy, told USNI News last year.
The weapon had been undergoing testing at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, Calif., where engineers could test subsystems to reduce risk before sending the weapon system to conduct land-based testing and then the at-sea testing on Portland.
The Navy is also working on a less powerful laser weapon, the High Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS), which is planned to reach 60 kw and could be installed onto ships like today's fielded destroyers that have less power margin to add in new systems. The Navy is also pursuing an Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN) that would not be used to knock down incoming threats but would rather be a non-lethal option to warn away enemy craft approaching a U.S. warship.
In addition to Northrop Grumman's work on the SSL-TM on board Portland, Lockheed Martin is also pursuing a 150kw laser weapon. The Navy announced earlier this year that it would put a laser weapon '' an early version of this weapon system, still at a lower power level, USNI News understands '' on USS Little Rock (LCS-9), a Littoral Combat Ship deploying to U.S. 4th Fleet later this year.
VIDEO - (4) socially distant rendon on Twitter: "Not even SNL could not write something as ridiculous as this actual, real news report from my local station https://t.co/VVTziwuyOd" / Twitter
impromptu press conference in which President Trump declared places of worship essential during the pandemic, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany delivered a
scorching presentation to the White House Press Corps on Friday - after accusing them of failing to do their jobs regarding 'Obamagate.'
"Did anyone take it upon themselves to pose any questions about Michael Flynn and unmasking to President Obama's spokesperson?" she asked.
One journalist stammers, "but buh but Flynn's name wasn't mas--"
To which McEnany cut back in, continuing "So I would like to lay out a series of questions and perhaps, if I write them out in a slide format - maybe we're visual learners and you guys will follow up with journalistic curiosity."
She then played four slides with questions to ask:"Why did the Obama Admin use opposition research, funded by a political organization and filled with foreign dirt to SPY ON MEMBERS OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN?""Why was Lt. Gen. Micahel Flynn UNMASKED by Obama's Chief of Staff, Joe Biden, Susan Rice, and others?""Why was Flynn's identity leaked - A CRIMINAL ACT - to the press?""Why did the DOJ learn about the FBI's interest in Flynn's conversations with the Russian Amb. from a CONVERSATION WITH OBAMAin the Oval Office?"Watch:
VIDEO - Biden Says ''No'' When Asked If His Plan Is Called ''Lift Every Voice'''... | Weasel Zippers
The chosen keynote speaker for Columbia Law School's commencement address this year was presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. While he avoided mentioning President Donald Trump directly, Biden hinted at his disapproval of the president through politically motivated statements. In making claims such that government officials are ''abusing their powers," Biden refrained from using Trump's name.
Throughout the speech, Biden asserts that America needs societal, cultural, and judicial reforms. He goes on to speak about the coronavirus situation, referencing bot the economic detriment and staggering death toll.
''The very people tasked with enforcing the rule of law are abusing their powers, protecting their friends, and weakening the very principles that make our country work.''
[RELATED: Biden's 'you ain't black' if you vote Trump comment a reminder of past 'racist' quotes]
Here's what he said:
''The very people tasked with enforcing the rule of law are abusing their powers, protecting their friends, and weakening the very principles that make our country work.''
''Your generation has come of age in a nation at war, in deep recession, with mass shootings, and now a pandemic.''
''Turn trauma, chaos, and cruelty into a greater measure of healing, progress, and hope for the future."
''See COVID-19 as a force majeure that compels us to rewrite the social contract...''
''Set the terms for an economy, healthcare system, education system, immigration system, and a justice system that uplifts more people of every race, gender, and generation.''
[RELATED: VIDEO: Students appalled by footage of 'creepy' Joe Biden touching women]
''Build a truly representative democracy with more facts than lies, less money and more people in the voting process.''
''Win the race against climate change by writing the laws and structures and the deals.''
''For the women who make up a majority of your class, follow trailblazers from your school'--Motley, Ginsburg'--to protect your rights, to make your voices heard, and transform the bar and bench in ways that are necessary and long overdue.''
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KestecherLacey
VIDEO - Coronavirus: Dr. Anthony Fauci says staying closed for too long could cause 'irreparable damage'
Stay-at-home orders intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus could end up causing "irreparable damage" if imposed for too long, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC on Friday.
"I don't want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go," Fauci said during an interview with CNBC's Meg Tirrell on "Halftime Report."
He said the U.S. had to institute severe measures because Covid-19 cases were exploding then. "But now is the time, depending upon where you are and what your situation is, to begin to seriously look at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try to get back to some degree of normal."
However, Fauci also cautioned states against reducing social distancing measures too quickly, adding they must take "very significant precautions."
"In general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way," he said. "There are obviously some situations where people might be jumping over that. I just say please proceed with caution if you're going to do that."
Fauci has been criticized in recent days by Republicans, including U.S. lawmakers Rand Paul and Andy Biggs, for making comments appearing to advocate for keeping some businesses closed longer.
Just last week, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned members of Congress that the United States could face even more "suffering and death" from the coronavirus if some states rush to reopen businesses too early.
It could also hinder states "on the road to try to get back to an economic recovery," he testified at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on May 12. "It would almost turn the clock back rather than going forward. That is my major concern."
The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China, less than five months ago, has infected more than 1.5 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. States have started the process of reopening their economies after being shut down for weeks.
In a separate interview with NPR earlier in the day, Fauci said it was "conceivable" that the U.S. could begin to roll out a coronavirus vaccine by December.
He told CNBC that biotech firm Moderna's vaccine data, released earlier this week, was very encouraging.
Moderna has been fast-tracking work with the National Institutes of Health to develop a vaccine.
On Monday, the company released data from its phase one human trial on its potential vaccine, showing all 45 patients enrolled produced binding antibodies seen at similar levels of people who have recovered from the virus.
The vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies, which researchers believe are important to protect against the virus, for eight of the patients whose data was available so far. Data on neutralizing antibodies for the remaining patients is expected to come out later.
"We still have a long way to go obviously," Fauci said Friday. "There are so many things that need to be done. We're going to go quickly into a phase three trial probably in the beginning of the summer, sometime in July."
Correction: White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to CNBC on Friday. An earlier version misstated the day.
VIDEO - Joe Biden Says He Will Raise Taxes Even If The Economy Is Still In The Midst Of The Pandemic | Weasel Zippers
Joe Biden returned to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night for a conversation, and once again, a comedian asked better questions than most professional journalists.
"After the Obama-Biden administration took power in 2009, there was a lot of criticism that y'all didn't investigate some of the activities of the Bush administration, and it was felt that it was time perhaps to move on and heal the country, especially in a time of economic crisis like that,'' Colbert said.
''Would the Trump administration be investigated for some of their behavior? Because there are some fragrantly corrupt actions being taken by the Trump administration. Can you say now that you would be open to investigation of the people who have danced with the law if not been proven to have broken it?''
Biden said what he always says.
''Number 1, I will appoint an inspector general to take a look at where every single dollar in the stimulus package and whatever recovery occurs, if it does, between now and January. '... I think there's too many cozy relationships out there," he said.
''In terms of having the Justice Department go look at an individual or whatever, the Justice Department is not my lawyer. This Justice Department has turned into the president's private lawyer. He is, or she is, the people's lawyer '-- the people's lawyer '-- not answerable to the president saying, 'I want you to investigate so-and-so.'''
''I will lay out broad assertions about 'take a look at the antitrust laws '-- are they being applied? '-- take a look at the following things.' But the idea of saying, 'I want you to go take a look at' '-- uh, I'm not going to name '-- but somebody in the administration '...''
''Pompeo, I would say '-- just pick a name out of the hat,'' Colbert urged him.
''There's a couple I could pick. But that's not what I'll do. That will be for the professionals in the Justice Department,'' Biden said.
They also discussed the veepstakes.
"What I'm looking for [is] somebody who can complement or make up for shortcomings. You want to have somebody who feels completely comfortable disagreeing with you," he said. (Can you imagine? That's just crazy talk!)
Colbert tried to get Biden to admit Amy Klobuchar is in the running to be his Vice President.
"No one has been vetted," Biden said.
VIDEO - Biden Denies the Blackness of Any Black Voters Who Won't Vote For Him - American Greatness
During an skyped interview on a New York City radio talk show Friday, Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden belittled any black voters who would not vote for him.
''If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black,'' Biden told Charlamagne, the black host of the New York City-based Breakfast Club radio show.
Somewhat taken aback, Charlamagne shot back, ''it don't have nothin' to do with Trump. It has something to do with I want something for my community.''
''Look at my record man!'' Biden interjected. ''I extended the Voting [Rights Act] 25 years! I have a record that is second to none! The NAACP's endorsed me every time I've run. I mean'--come on! Take a look at the record!''
Biden had earlier told the host that there are ''multiple black women being considered'' for the position.
Senator Tim Scott, (R-S.C) took offense to Biden's apparent denial of his blackness.
''Wow!'' he exclaimed on Fox Business upon hearing the comments. ''That is the most arrogant, condescending comment I've heard in a very long time and that's saying something.''
The man who sponsored and led the charge to enact the 1990's crime bill that locked up more African American males than any other piece of legislation, and President Trump comes along and through his criminal justice reform corrects the absolute mistakes made by Joe Biden! For him to make such an arrogant, ridiculous comment! If you look at the numbers, 1.3 million African Americans voted for Trump. He's saying to 1.3 million African Americans that you're not black? Who in the heck does he think he is?!
''That is the most arrogant, condescending comment I've heard in a very long time," @SenatorTimScott says in response to Joe Biden saying he's not really Black.
"He's saying that 1.3 million African-Americans, that you're not Black? Who in the heck does he think he is?'' pic.twitter.com/HtNNQkIxTQ
'-- Trump War Room '' Text TRUMP to 88022 & get the APP (@TrumpWarRoom) May 22, 2020
The Trump Campaign was quick to respond to the comments:
Today, @JoeBiden said #YouAintBlack '' typical white liberal! pic.twitter.com/3MQFkiaX7j
'-- Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) May 22, 2020
WATCH: Joe Biden gets confused, says "I'm going to beat Joe Biden." pic.twitter.com/uu23tbMt9Q
'-- Trump War Room '' Text TRUMP to 88022 & get the APP (@TrumpWarRoom) May 22, 2020
VIDEO - (1) Grace ð-- on Twitter: "Nudging the Herd With Cass Sunstein https://t.co/ZJCJTDCglb" / Twitter
This week the SUNDAY WIRE broadcasts LIVE on ACR with host Patrick Henningsen covering the top stories in the US, Europe and internationally. This week we continue our commentary on the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis and the great social engineering experiment known as 'lockdown', as governments continue to double-down on a policy decision which looks certain to be the biggest epic failure in modern history. New economic figures are in which now
See More point to a global depression, with central banks printing money like there's no tomorrow, and governments saying that the people must pay the bill through higher taxes and spending cuts over the coming decades. In the second hour, we'll connect with special guest, independent researcher, David Crowe, to discuss his recent analysis of the COVID-19 RT-PCR RNA testing, as well the efficacy of COVID antibody testing '' how accurate they are and how this paradigm could affect governments' policies and society going forward. In the final segment we'll also talk with SUNDAY WIRE Roving Correspondent for Culture & Sport, Basil Valentine, and ACR's Hesher for the latest on US states lifting lockdowns this week. All this and much, much more. Enjoy the show'...
VIDEO - Zuckerberg: 50% of Facebook employees could be working remotely
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said he predicts that 50% of the company's employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years.
"We're going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale," Zuckerberg said.
The company will begin allowing certain employees to work remotely full time, he said. Those employees will have to notify the company if they move to a different location by Jan. 1, 2021. As a result, those employees may have their compensations adjusted based on their new locations, Zuckerberg said.
"We'll adjust salary to your location at that point," said Zuckerberg, citing that this is necessary for taxes and accounting. "There'll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this."
Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is going to "aggressively" ramp up its hiring of remote workers, and the company is going to take a "measured approach" to opening up permanent remote work positions for existing employees.
Zuckerberg made his prediction on his weekly livestream with employees, telling them that this decision should help the company improve its employee retention, and it will allow Facebook to hire from talent pools that previously wouldn't consider moving to big cities to work for the company. Additionally, this decision will allow Facebook to improve the diversity of its workforce and spread economic opportunity across more places.
"When you limit hiring to people who either live in a small number of big cities or are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, different backgrounds or may have different perspectives," Zuckerberg said.
Currently, 95% of Facebook's employees are working remotely, Zuckerberg said. A survey conducted by Facebook found that 50% of employees said they were as productive working from home as they were at the office, Zuckerberg said. Among Facebook employees, 40% said they were extremely, very or somewhat interested in full-time remote work, and among that subset of employees, 75% said they were either pretty confident or they might move to a different city if they could work remotely, Zuckerberg said.
"It's somewhat of an unfortunate and unsustainable setup for people to have a lot of these jobs they have to move to a small number of big cities," Zuckerberg said.
To start, Facebook will allow existing employees to request permanent remote work if they meet specific criteria. This includes experienced employees, those with strong recent performance, employees on teams that support remote work and employees who get approval from their group leaders, Zuckerberg said. This will not include employees who are recent graduates, he said.
Facebook is the latest company to announce a decision to continue supporting remote work. This follows similar decisions by companies like Twitter, Square and Shopify.
Zuckerberg's announcement comes as Facebook unveiled new features for Workplace, the company's enterprise communication software. Boosted by the coronavirus pandemic, Workplace has grown its base from 3 million paid users in October to 5 million, the company announced Thursday.
Following Zuckerberg's announcements, Facebook's share price was up for the second day in a row, rising nearly 1%, despite the rest of the market being mostly down.
VIDEO-James Woods on Twitter: "Stacey Abrams wants illegal aliens to be able to vote because it would balance ''white people.'' If she is Joe Biden's running mate, she will be president within a year, if he's elected. Watch for yourself. https://t.c
@RealJamesWoods Ya know, as I watch this I can think of 20 people I can pick from those I follow on Twitter, (including you, James) that would make a better candidate than Stacey. Keep under-estimating the American people, guys....
VIDEO-New Zealand PM Ardern floats '4-day week' as a way to help the economy after coronavirus - CNN
Hong Kong(CNN Business) The four-day work week has been touted as a way to improve work-life balance. Now it's getting a boost from New Zealand's leader, who recently raised the idea as one that might help the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a Facebook Live video posted earlier this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared the suggestion while discussing ways to revive domestic tourism in her country. Over the last few months, the coronavirus crisis has forced people around the world to lock down and decimated global demand for travel.
"I've had lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day week. Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees," Ardern said.
However, the idea has merit in that it might give domestic travelers "flexibility in terms of their travel and their leave," she added. Ardern noted that 60% of New Zealand's tourism industry comes from locals.
"There's lots of things we've learnt about Covid and just that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that," she continued.
The prime minister encouraged employers to consider allowing more flexible work set-ups '-- including remote work and putting in longer hours on fewer days '-- if possible, "because it certainly would help tourism all around the country."
Four-day work weeks have become more popular recently as employers explore whether a tighter schedule can boost productivity.
New Zealand's own government is no stranger to the idea of an alternative working schedule. Since 2018, several government agencies have signed up to pilot a program called "flexible work by default," which directs employers to give their workers more freedom in various ways.
While it's up to each participating agency to decide what that arrangement looks like, the government has outlined several possibilities '-- including allowing people to adopt shorter work weeks, "such as 40 hours over four days, or a nine-day fortnight."
In 2018, New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian, which helps customers manage their wills and estates, also held a two-month trial of the concept. The firm said it was so successful, it wanted to make it permanent.
By working just four days a week, employees all reported higher productivity, better work-life balance and reduced stress, according to the firm, which had around 240 staffers.
"It was just a theory, something I thought I wanted to try because I wanted to create a better environment for my team," founder Andrew Barnes told CNN Business at the time. "They went beyond my wildest dreams."
Big businesses elsewhere are also starting to jump on the bandwagon. Last year, Microsoft ( MSFT ) took up the idea as the company's team in Japan experimented by shutting down its offices every Friday in August, and giving all employees an extra day off each week.
The results were promising: While the amount of time spent at work was cut dramatically, productivity '-- measured by sales per employee '-- went up by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year, the company said.
As a result, Microsoft announced that it would follow up with another experiment in Japan, and also asked other companies to join the initiative.