"Into The Trash It Goes": Snowden Slams CIA-Funded "Encrypted" App Wicker

"Into The Trash It Goes": Snowden Slams CIA-Funded 'Encrypted' App Wicker In 1999, the CIA created In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit investment firm that invests in high-tech startup companies focused on increasing the capacity of US intelligence agencies. The fund has been notable for funding Google and Palantir at very early stages, bringing us to the latest possible investment into encrypted messaging platform Wickr.  Vice's Motherboard was first notified by Jack Poulson, executive director of Tech Inquiry, about In-Q-Tel's From 990 filed in the fiscal year ending in March 2020. The form details compensation paid to outside contractors and mentions a $1.6 payment to Wickr but doesn't explain if it was an investment or a purchase order.  But deeper within the form, a section reads: "The hallmark of IQT's strategic an agile model is the development effort—aka work program—where the company collaborates with the startup to tailor a company's technology to specific government requirements and invests funds towards that work program." Motherboard spoke with Carrie Sessine, senior vice president of marketing and communications at In-Q-Tel, and asked more about the funds sent to Wickr.  "In-Q-Tel is a prolific strategic investor, making more than 50 investments each year. Our website features the majority of our portfolio investments. There will always be companies that are not announced publicly, which is common practice in the investment community. In-Q-Tel serves multiple agencies committed to national security including the CIA, FBI, NSA, NGA, NRO, DHS (specifically Customs and Border Protection), DIA, and Air Force," Sessine said.  However, Wickr's funding profile is nowhere to be found on In-Q-Tel's public portfolio section on its website. In June, Amazon Web Services announced it acquired Wickr. Amazon has been known to have cloud contracts with the CIA.  More questions than answers remain about In-Q-Tel's $1.6 million injection into the end-to-end encrypted messaging app.  Interesting to note that the CIA had invested $1.6million into Wickr, the encrypted messaging software that organized crime groups used white labelled in Anom phone devices, later discovered to be a sting operation run with US Law Enforcement agencies. — Hacker Fantastic (@hackerfantastic) October 12, 2021 Edward Snowden responds to Wickr's CIA funding by tweeting: "Into the trash it goes." No, I don't use Wickr. The point is that in 2021, you can't credibly purport to provide a secure app when you a) take money from the CIA and b) literally give the CIA a seat on your board of directors. ayfkm? — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 13, 2021 Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 22:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

A Message To Fauci: You Are In No Position To Dictate The "Greater Good"

A Message To Fauci: You Are In No Position To Dictate The "Greater Good" Authored by Brandon Smith via, How does a fraud like Anthony Fauci find himself in the highest paid position in US bureaucracy? Well, Fauci’s career is a rather shocking testament to the reality of our government and our era – The more corrupt you are the more favors and promotions you will receive. Fauci is well known as a shameless opportunist among many within the medical research community. For example, the creator of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test, Kary Mullis, had nothing but disdain for Fauci. Mullis was an interesting figure who valued scientific honesty above all else. He often warned that his PCR test could be exploited to inflate infection numbers by identifying remnants of a virus in person’s body without distinguishing whether or not they are actually “infected” (sick). Sadly, his test is no be used in this exact manner today to exaggerate infection rates of the covid-19 virus. In interviews Mullis has referred to Anthony Fauci as a “liar”, arguing that he is a bureaucrat that “doesn’t know anything about anything”. Mullis noted that people like Fauci have an agenda that is outside of the public good, and that they have no problem misrepresenting the science to the populace to achieve their goals. It should also be noted that YouTube has made it their mission to consistently erase any traces of the Mullis interviews mentioning Fauci from their website. It is also not surprising that Fauci’s rampant fear mongering over AIDS in the 1980’s has gone mostly unmentioned by the mainstream media. His claim that 1 in 5 heterosexual Americans would be dead from AIDS by 1990 has been summarily memory-holed and the guy is treated like a scientific genius by the journalistic community in 2021. If there is any justice in this world then Fauci should really go down in history as one of the primary initiators of the Covid pandemic, being that he was the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that funded Gain of Function research on corona-viruses at the Wuhan Lab in China. This is the same research that Fauci blatantly lied about to congress on multiple occasions. And, the Wuhan lab is the same lab that evidence suggests was the ground zero source of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is important to note that it was Fauci and the NIH that LIFTED the ban on gain of function research on deadly viruses in 2017, and it was well known around this time that the Level 4 Wuhan lab in China was not secure. If anyone is responsible for global covid deaths, it is Fauci, the Chinese government and anyone else involved in that gain of function research which is primarily used to WEAPONIZE viruses under the guise of creating “therapeutics.” Gain of function research was originally banned under the Biological Weapons Convention which went into effect in 1975, unless it was being used for therapeutics. Now ALL gain of function research that is revealed publicly is labeled as therapeutics even if it is actually designed to produce biological weapons. This is sometimes referred to as “dual use research.” The prevailing narrative continues to be that even if the virus came from the Wuhan lab then it was surely an accident. I continue to believe according to the available evidence that Covid-19 was deliberately released in order to create a global crisis which could then be exploited by the establishment to introduce extreme controls over the populace to the point of medical totalitarianism. But of course, there is no smoking gun to prove this, only common sense. If we take the notorious Event 201 into account things get a little weird. Event 201 was a war game held by the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its claimed purpose was to simulate the effects of a deadly coronavirus pandemic “spread by animals” to humans and to develop the policies governments and their corporate partners should employ to deal with it. Interestingly, this simulation was held in October of 2019, only two months before the REAL THING happened. Nearly every policy suggested by the participants of Event 201 has now been adopted by most governments, including the social media censorship campaign against anyone that questions the origins of the virus and the safety of the experimental mRNA vaccines. Anthony Fauci and friends…. WEF founder Klaus Schwab was quick to announce at the start of the pandemic that Covid-19 was the “perfect opportunity” to launch the “Great Reset”, which is a globalist plan to completely erase free market systems and replace them with a highly centralized socialist framework. The WEF envisions a world in which carbon related power is banned, all financial transactions become digital and are monitored and controlled by central authorities, and they have even suggested that one day people will “own nothing and be happy”. This is a reference to the so-called “shared economy” of the future, where the concept of personal property is abolished and all people will live in communal housing collectives where necessities are rationed or rented out to them by the government. Something must have went wrong with covid, however, because the Event 201 death estimates for such a virus were around 65 million within the first year of the outbreak. This of course never happened with Covid-19. So, the resistance to the mandates has been high, or much higher apparently than the globalists expected. They have been forced to engage in an endless fear campaign for the past 18 months over a virus with a mere 0.26% median death rate. It is a virus that well over 99.7% of all people will survive and it has an extremely low chance of long term effects on those who do actually end up hospitalized. In the majority of states the hospitalization rates are between 10-35 people for every 100,000 people infected. These numbers come from the CDC and the medical establishment at large, yet they are ignored by propagandists like Fauci, just as Fauci has continued to ignore natural immunity as a factor in covid mandates. It might seem bizarre to almost any scientist, doctor and virologist not paid by the government, but Fauci has argued that natural immunity should be ignored when compared to vaccination. Multiple studies from around the world now show that natural immunity is up to 27 times more effective at preventing covid infection than the vaccines, but those with natural immunity are considered a threat to others under the new mandates unless they are also vaxxed. This simply makes no sense from a scientific perspective until you realize that the mandates are not about science, they are about authoritarianism. Fauci is the US front man for a campaign of medical tyranny being imposed in every nation; this is why he does not care about natural immunity. The idea of it is inconvenient to his narrative, so he pretends it is inconsequential. It is perhaps ironic that Fauci himself is becoming inconsequential as he is slowly fading away from the media limelight. I have noticed that ever since the NIH gain of function information was released to the public Fauci has been in the media less prominently. A documentary produced by National Geographic and soon to be distributed by Disney+ portrays the conman as a misunderstood savior and is sure to be a trash fire. That said, it does represent a clear last-ditched effort to save the man’s false reputation. There is a good reason for all of this. Fauci’s distaste for personal freedom has been well documented and is making him extremely unpopular. He even recently argued on CNN in favor of vaccine mandates using this perverse position: “There comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision for the greater good of society.” Fauci and his globalist ilk can be distilled down to this single mantra: Do as you are told for the greater good. But who gets to determine what the “greater good” is? Isn’t it disturbing that it’s always the same elitists that end up in that position? I know that leftists in particular love the idea of the vaccine mandates and worship Fauci, and they say we skeptics should “listen to the science”, but Fauci is not a scientist, he’s a door-to-door salesman, and as I’ve noted above the REAL science does not support the arguments for forced vaccinations or lockdowns. Hell, I keep asking the same questions on the mandates in these articles and not a single leftists or pro-vax proponent has come up with a valid or logical response, but out of morbid curiosity I would love to see Fauci give his answers: 1) Covid has a median death rate of only 0.26%, so why should we take ANY risk on an experimental mRNA vaccine with no long term testing to prove its safety? 2) Why not give support to the 0.26% of people actually at risk from dying due to covid instead of spending billions of dollars on Big Pharma producing a rushed vaccine that you plan to force on the 99.7% of people who are not at risk? 3) In majority vaccinated countries like Israel, over 60% of covid hospitalizations are fully vaccinated people. The exponential rise of fully vaccinated patients in multiple nations suggests that the vaccines do not work. Why should we take a vaccine that has been proven not to be effective? 4) If you believe the vaccines actually do work despite all evidence to the contrary, then why should vaccinated people fear anything from unvaccinated people? How are we a threat to them? 5) If the vaccines don’t work, then doesn’t this mean the mandates are pointless and the people that are most safe are the people with natural immunity? Shouldn’t we be applauding the naturally immune and encouraging treatment instead of useless vaccination? 6) Since the vaccines actually don’t work according to the data, isn’t it time to stop blindly dismissing treatments like Ivermectin and focus on trials and studies that research these alternatives? Why the vitriolic propaganda campaign to label Ivermectin nothing more than “horse paste” when it is actually a long used Nobel Prize winning treatment for human ailments? Is it because the experimental covid vaccines would lose their emergency authorization status under the FDA if effective treatments exist? 7) Why are government funded scientists so keen on defending Big Pharma to the point of ignoring all data that contradicts their claims? Are you just embarrassed of being wrong, or are you corrupt? 8) Who decided you are qualified to determine what constitutes the “greater good?” Globalists and errand boys like Fauci will never be able to answer these questions without twisting the narrative. They will say “What about the 700,000 dead in the US?” to play on the idea that the freedom minded lack empathy for their fellow man. Of course, around 40% of those deaths are patients from nursing homes with preexisting conditions, so we have no idea if they died from covid or from their previous ailments. Also, millions of people die every year from a plethora of communicable diseases including the flu and pneumonia, and we never tried to lock down the entire country and crush people’s civil rights because of this. If we maintained a running tally of flu and pneumonia deaths year after year as we are doing with covid, then the ever increasing number of bodies would seem just as forbidding. Society cannot function when it is preoccupied with death. Yes, around 0.26% of people die from covid, but life goes on for everyone else. Our freedoms are more important than your irrational fears. Our freedoms are more important than globalist agendas for centralization. Our freedoms ARE the greater good. Without them our society dies, and as our society dies millions more people will die from the inevitable collapse and tyranny that will follow; far more than will ever die from covid. This is why nothing Fauci says has any relevance to us. He is so transparent in his corruption that he might as well be invisible. We will continue to ignore his declarations and admonitions and we will continue to fight back against the vaccine passports and restrictions. When all is said and done, if Fauci, Biden and other globalist puppets try to use force to impose their agenda upon us then there will come a day very soon when they will be held accountable for their crimes against humanity, and then they will wish they were invisible. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/08/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 8th, 2021

The woman who went public about Pinterest"s workplace problems created a handbook to help tech workers safely become whistleblowers

Tech whistleblowers are all over the news. The decision to go public or leak info is risky so a new handbook by Pinterest's whistleblower offers advice. Ifeoma Ozoma Adria Malcolm A new handbook for would-be whistleblowers provides key insight about the daunting process. The project is the work of Ifeoma Ozoma, the former Pinterest whistleblower, and several other groups. The handbook offers guidance on finding a lawyer, understanding nondisclosure agreements and other issues. Whistleblowing has increasingly dominated the news cycle in Silicon Valley's high-stakes tech industry, from spectacular meltdowns like Theranos to the ongoing drumbeat of internal reckoning among management at Facebook. But while the results of blowing the whistle on an employer make headlines, how the person behind the story decided to come forward is, for most people, a mystery.A new guide released today aims to change that. Dubbed the "Tech Worker Handbook," the comprehensive collection of resources offers insight into each step of the whistleblowing process, from potential legal ramifications to working with reporters and security measures to consider.The project, spearheaded by Pinterest whistleblower Ifeoma Ozoma, includes research and resources from The Signals Network, an international nonprofit that encourages transparency and supports whistleblowers working with the press, and Lioness, a PR firm working as a conduit between employees with stories to tell and journalists, among others. The effort is funded by the Omidyar Network's tech accountability fund.At its core, the project aims to help tech workers who are considering coming forward with important information to make more informed decisions, Ozoma told Insider. "Preparedness is power," Ozoma explained, adding that would-be whistleblowers "should not have to rely on whisper networks" to figure out how to contact a journalist, an employment attorney or a government regulator.Ozoma is quick to point out that the website isn't meant to be a "how-to" with step-by-step instructions for coming forward with stories of wrongdoing or misconduct in the workplace, but rather a compendium of information that every tech worker should have access to, just like the handbook employers provide workers with when they start a job.One of the key portions of the handbook dives into nondisclosure agreements and cites Insider's groundbreaking story on the subject over the summer, which found that NDAs originally designed to protect confidential business information are often so broad in Silicon Valley that they can prohibit an employee from saying virtually anything about their workplace.The story also revealed a great deal of confusion among tech workers: more than two-thirds of the employees who shared copies of nondisclosure agreements with Insider said they weren't exactly sure what the documents prevented them from saying - or whether even sharing them was a violation of the agreement itself.Read Insider's groundbreaking investigation into NDAs here: We reviewed 36 NDAs from major tech companies and discovered how far Silicon Valley's giants will go to silence and control their employeesSome of the people involved in creating the handbook emphasized that while tech workers may be aware of the myriad groups and organizations that exist to help support them, the right decision for one worker may look completely different from another. "There's no one recipe to become a safe whistleblower," said Delphine Halgand-Mishra, executive director of The Signals Network. "You need to make your own decision based on your risk appetite." For tech workers who have decided to come forward to the media with a story - like former Facebook employee Frances Haugen did recently with the Wall Street Journal for the paper's high-profile "Facebook Files" series - there are a whole host of considerations to make, said Ariella Steinhorn, founder of Lioness. These include using encrypted communication methods and thinking through what documentation could be used to prove that claims a whistleblower makes are indeed true. The process can be daunting, Steinhorn said, which is partly why the handbook highlights case studies showing the impact that whistleblowers have had over the years, including spurring personnel changes at large companies to new laws enacted at both the state and federal level."You can get really in the weeds about the mechanics of [whistleblowing]," Steinhorn said, adding that for many tech workers, keeping in mind the reason why they are coming forward is crucial. "It's important to be able to show people how change happens."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

Biden slams "irresponsible" Republican effort to block an increase to the debt limit, potentially pushing the US to an unprecedented and catastrophic default

Biden said on Saturday that "everybody is frustrated" following a week of setbacks and squabbles over the debt limit and his economic agenda. US President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual briefing by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on preparations for Hurricane Ida, in the South Court auditorium of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images President Joe Biden said Republican efforts to block an increase of the debt ceiling would be "irresponsible." Congress has about two weeks to raise or suspend the debt ceiling to avert what could be a catastrophic hit to the economy. Biden also said he was confident he could get his economic agenda passed after a week of squabbles over its size and scope. See more stories on Insider's business page. President Joe Biden said on Saturday that Republican efforts to block the US' ability to pay its bills on time would be "unconscionable."Congress has about two weeks to raise or suspend the debt ceiling to avert what could be a catastrophic hit to the economy, ranging from delays in Social Security checks to seniors, turmoil in financial markets, cuts to safety net programs, and even a spike in interest rates. Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have signaled they could try to block the effort to lift the debt ceiling and torpedo Biden's economic goals. McConnell has remained adamant that raising the debt limit is something only Democrats must do. The US has never before defaulted on its debts."I hope that Republicans won't be so irresponsible as to refuse to raise the debt limit and to filibuster," Biden told reporters on Saturday. "That would be totally unconscionable. That's never been done before."Raising the debt ceiling allows the US government to pay back what it owes, and the limit had to be lifted this year regardless of Biden's spending plans. Democrats are pressing Republicans to help raise it, arguing another $7.8 trillion in debt was racked up under President Donald Trump. Republicans also raised or suspended the debt limit three times under the Trump administration.Democrats' best bet for lifting the debt ceiling on their own is reconciliation, an arduous, time-consuming procedure governed by strict budgetary rules. It also allows certain bills to be passed with just a 50-vote majority.Biden said on Saturday that "everybody is frustrated" following a week of setbacks and squabbles over the debt limit and his economic agenda, but he added that he's confident both an infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion social spending bill will ultimately be passed by Congress.Democrats need to keep the government funded while also keeping their promises to pass a $550 billion investment in US roads, bridges, and railroads as well as funding for childcare, healthcare, and fighting climate change. Two moderate Democratic senators are uneasy with the magnitude of the proposed changes and want the $3.5 trillion social spending bill to be trimmed.Biden said he is "going to work like hell to make sure we get both these passed," adding that both plans have the support of a majority of Americans."There's nothing in any of these pieces of legislation that's radical, that is unreasonable," he said, adding he would travel the country to win more support for both bills. "I believe I can get this done."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 2nd, 2021

10 Things in Politics: Pelosi delays infrastructure vote

And Congress was able to keep the government open. Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go - click here for iOS and here for Android. Send tips to's what we're talking about:Nancy Pelosi bails on a vote for Biden's bipartisan infrastructure billTaxpayers are still cutting government checks to Stephen MillerCongress was able to keep the government openWith Phil Rosen. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2019. Win McNamee/Getty Images 1. ALL DAY LONG: Infrastructure week is still going. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed a vote on President Joe Biden's nearly $1 trillion infrastructure plan in the face of a large progressive revolt. Biden and the White House wanted the legislation to show that Washington could still act in a bipartisan way. The story now, however, is Democratic infighting.Here's where things stand this morning:Neither side has blinked: House progressives hijacked the infrastructure debate amid worries that centrists would either abandon or cut Biden's massive $3.5 trillion social-spending plan after the smaller infrastructure deal passed. Politico cited sources saying that party leaders sought to persuade centrist Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to agree to a $2.1 trillion package, rather than $3.5 trillion. So far, the centrists aren't budging.Manchin's earlier suggestion sparked outrage: Manchin had earlier answered repeated calls for him to be more specific by saying he supported a $1.5 trillion spending plan, a massive $2 trillion cut to the White House's original proposal. Progressives were aghast at the offer. "It would mean decimating vital, important programs for working families," Sen. Bernie Sanders told The Washington Post of what would be cut if Manchin got his way.The White House remains closely involved: Biden's economic agenda remains at stake. Susan Rice, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, was among top advisors who met with top congressional Democrats into the night, The New York Times reports.Infrastructure week isn't over yet: It is Friday, but thanks to Congress' quirky procedures it's still Thursday in the House. Centrist lawmakers had insisted on voting on the infrastructure proposal by Thursday, so technically Pelosi could still check that box. Leaving the Capitol, Pelosi told reporters, per Roll Call, that the two sides were "not trillions of dollars apart." She then said there would be a vote Friday.Progressives celebrated after the vote was delayed: Pelosi has a reputation for strong-arming legislation across the finish line. Often, this has meant flattening progressives in her path. Reporters and commentators said it was a rare win for liberal rank-and-file members.Rep. Ilhan Omar spiked the football after one of her colleagues' predictions didn't come true: Ilhan Omar/Twitter But it's clear some of their colleagues are miffed: "When Iowans tell me they are sick of Washington games, this is what they mean," Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa told The Times. "All-at-once or nothing is no way to govern."2. Congress was able to keep the government open: Infrastructure, of course, wasn't Congress' only focus on Thursday. Just hours before a government shutdown would have begun, Biden signed a continuing resolution that keeps the US government funded until December 3. The short-term extension passed the Senate in a 65-35 vote, and the House later approved it in a 254-175 vote. Only 34 House Republicans joined every House Democrat in voting for the measure. But Washington isn't out of the woods. A debt default still looms in 18 days. The former White House aide Stephen Miller is still getting government paychecks. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky 3. Taxpayers are still cutting government checks to Stephen Miller: Miller - the chief architect of the Trump administration's immigration policies and one of the most polarizing figures in Donald Trump's circle - is one of 14 staffers still on the government payroll because of his work in Trump's official office. Like all former presidents from recent decades, Trump has a government-funded annual budget to pay staff members who assist with his postpresidential affairs. Unlike his predecessors, Trump appears to be gearing up for another White House run. Read more about the key staffers in Trump's orbit.4. Justice Samuel Alito slams criticism of Texas decision: Alito said it was "false and inflammatory" for critics to argue the Supreme Court violated Roe v. Wade by allowing Texas' antiabortion law to take effect. He also turned his ire on journalists and politicians for the use of the term "shadow docket" to describe how the court had increasingly made important decisions outside the typical oral-argument process. "This portrayal feeds unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court," Alito said. More on his comments, which came just a day after senators held a hearing on the expanding use of the shadow docket. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures 5. Scarlett Johansson and Disney have reached a settlement: Johansson had sued Disney over its distribution of Marvel's "Black Widow." She argued that the company's decision to release the film simultaneously on its Disney+ streaming platform and in theaters violated her contract and cost her millions in income. The settlement's terms haven't been disclosed.6. USPS is slowing down mail delivery starting today: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's plan for overhauling the US Postal Service is expected to slow delivery for many Americans, CBS News reports. Critics say the slower standards could cause some Americans to miss bill payments along with other problems. Among the changes, CBS News wrote, "Americans should now expect that letters and other mail could take up to five days to reach their destinations, and vice versa." One expert said mail delivery would now be slower than in the 1970s.7. Janet Yellen wants to scrap the debt ceiling: The Treasury secretary told lawmakers "it's very destructive to put the president and myself, the Treasury secretary, in a situation where we might be unable to pay the bills." More on Yellen's support for getting rid of the debt ceiling.8. Gov. Kristi Noem ditches Corey Lewandowski: The South Dakota governor said she would stop working with the former Trump advisor following reports that Lewandowski faced accusations of sexual harassment against a GOP donor, The Washington Post reports. Trump is also said to have cut ties with his first campaign manager. Charles Herbster, a GOP gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska, also said he was asking Lewandowski to step back from his campaign, per The Post. More on the fallout for a once prominent Trump aide.9. Americans who aren't eligible for COVID-19 boosters are still getting them: Pharmacies and doctor's offices around the US are doling out third vaccine doses with no questions asked, even for people who aren't supposed to be getting boosters yet, The Wall Street Journal reports. Many places have not asked for proof of eligibility or confirmation before administering boosters. See whether you're one of 60 million Americans eligible for another jab. Northern State Mental Hospital. Nomad_Photo/Shutterstock 10. Want to get spooked for Halloween?: From hotels to homes to churches, Insider compiled a list of the most haunted places to visit in every state. There's an old county jail you can visit in Florida to see spirits of people held there, or maybe you fancy a visit to the Ax Murder House in Iowa. Wherever you are in the country, you have local haunts nearby. See Insider's full list of the most haunted places in the US.Looking for a challenge to start your day? Try your luck at today's Insider Crossword.Today's trivia question: Speaking of Halloween, who was the first first lady to decorate the White House for the scary occasion? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at's answer: Teddy Roosevelt's children opened a small chain of coffee shops in New York.That's all for now! Enjoy your weekend, especially if you have nothing planned.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 1st, 2021

Trump slams Hollywood for giving best picture to a foreign film. But the man who funded its Oscar run is a car tycoon from Texas.

President Trump lamented Oscar voters’ recent decision .....»»

Category: topSource: washpostFeb 21st, 2020

Hollywood IATSE union closes tentative deal with studios to avert industry-wide strike

The crew members' union had authorized a potential strike after months of failed negotiations with the AMPTP over pay disparities and working conditions on set. Crew on the New York City set of "And Just Like That..." the follow-up series to "Sex and the City" in September. James Devaney/Getty Images Hollywood's crew members' union reached a tentative deal with the studios late Saturday. The deal secured many IATSE demands, including longer rest periods and higher wages. Terms of the deal need to be ratified by IATSE members before Sunday to avoid a strike on Monday. Negotiators for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) settled on a deal on Saturday to avert a potential industry-crippling workers' strike."Everything achieved was because you, the members, stood up and gave us the power to change the course of these negotiations," leaders of Hollywood's 13 local unions said in a statement to their members. "Our solidarity, at both the leadership and rank and file level, was the primary reason that no local was left behind and every priority was addressed.""This is a Hollywood ending," said IATSE International President Matthew Loeb. "Our members stood firm. They're tough and united."The proposed three-year contract, which would affect 40,000 union members, included the following:• Living wage achieved• Improved wages and working conditions for streaming• Retroactive scale wage increases of 3% annually• Employer-funded benefits for the term• Increased meal period penalties including prevailing rate• Daily reest periods of 10 hours without exclusions• Weekend rest periods of 54 and 32 hours• Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday as a holiday• Diversity, equity and inclusion initiativesThe individual locals will be updating members on more specifics in the coming days, IATSE added.The unions entered 11th-hour virtual marathon meetings late on Friday, according to Variety, with AMPTP President Carol Lombardini addressing details surrounding problematic working conditions in the industry. Lombardini and Loeb came to an agreement on multiple fronts, understanding the repercussions a crew member strike would have on the industry as it recovers from COVID-19 shutdowns.Industry sources also told Variety that Walt Disney Television chief Peter Rice was among those present at the meeting who helped bridge the gap between the two parties.IATSE union members have pushed for longer rest breaks as well as higher wages for lower-paid crafts, after multiple accounts of dangerous working conditions spread via social media, sparking support from the industry's actors, directors, and writers, among others.Saturday's agreement was met with cautious optimism from the industry and IATSE union members, with many praising the efforts of the union over the past weeks, and others saying they expected more from the negotiations."Just confirmed with an IATSE member that they received an email from their Local that a deal has been made!" wrote #PayUpHollywood co-founder Liz Hsiao Lan Alper in a tweet. "IATSE members, I hope like hell you [got] much of what you deserve.""I'm excited if IATSE members are excited," actress Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted. "This is their new contract potentially. They get to decide if what's being offered is what they need to feel safe, well-paid and respected.""Good for IATSE for standing your ground," tweeted actor Patton Oswalt. "And don't forget we got your back anytime you need us #IASolidarity.""I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it, to be honest," Matt Schouten, a digital imaging technician in IATSE's local 600, told Insider. "At least preliminarily, some of the things that they're mentioning - it seems pretty basic. I think a lot of members were expecting to get more out of the negotiation ... I know already there's a few people that have expressed concern, but it's good to see that they're making progress."-Matthew Federman (@matthewfederman) October 17, 2021 -Travis Helwig (@travishelwig) October 17, 2021Capturing some of that concern was a tweet from Franklin Leonard, the founder of the Black List and a prominent voice for equity in Hollywood. After tweeting about the deal, he added, "Fascinating that leadership is hanging a mission accomplished banner and so many members have jumped in my mentions to assert that they are not a fan of this deal. Genuinely curious how representative of the rank and file they are."-Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) October 17, 2021Many comments on the @IA_stories Instagram account, where crew members have shared tales of difficult working conditions, were skeptical or critical of the agreement outlined Saturday night.Ninety-eight percent of IATSE members voted to authorize a strike in October. The IATSE and AMPTP resumed bargaining negotiations last week after the Loeb announced the former would go on strike unless the parties could reach a deal by the weekend. Negotiations have gone on since July, with the threat of an impending strike hanging overhead.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider5 hr. 13 min. ago

MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV

     This week, we speak with Soraya Darabi, who is co-founder and general partner at TMV, an early-stage venture firm that has funded a broad range of startups. Darabi is also the founder of Transact Global and host of the podcast “Business Schooled.” She previously served as manager of digital partnerships and social… Read More The post MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV appeared first on The Big Picture.      This week, we speak with Soraya Darabi, who is co-founder and general partner at TMV, an early-stage venture firm that has funded a broad range of startups. Darabi is also the founder of Transact Global and host of the podcast “Business Schooled.” She previously served as manager of digital partnerships and social media at The New York Times. She discusses how the firm invests in “Non-Obvious” founders. There are market inefficiencies in this overlooked segment of entrepreneurs, while in Silicon Valley, there is both efficiency and similarity that lowers the probability of successful innovation. She also explains some of the advantages that being a successful entrepreneur lends to her as a venture capitalist. Investing in seed rounds in places from Baltimore to Austin, being persistent in areas overlooked by others gives her access to deals in start-ups that are both cheaper and at lower capital requirements than perhaps places like SIlicon Valley or NY require. A list of her favorite books is here; A transcript of our conversation is available here Monday. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Sukhinder Singh Cassidy author of “Choose Possibility” hailed as one of the Top 100 People in the Valley by Business Insider and a Power Woman by Elle. She has 25 years of experience founding, scaling, and advising companies like StubHub! Google, Amazon, and Yodlee. Thoughts?     Soraya Darabi Favorite Books   The post MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPicture15 hr. 0 min. ago

New York reports a record 15 cases of a rare disease linked to rat urine in 2021, as vermin complaints flood in

Rats have been terrorizing New Yorkers even more than usual this year. In 2021, New York has recorded 15 cases of leptospirosis, a rare, potentially fatal disease that comes from exposure to rats. A jagdterrier holds a dead rat in its mouth after hunting it in a dumpster in lower Manhattan on May 14, 2021. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images New York has recorded 15 cases of leptospirosis, and one death, in 2021. The rare disease comes from exposure to rats. Three of the people infected were experiencing homelessness. To help drive down the city's rat problem, a volunteer group of dog-owners go rat hunting on Friday nights. Rats have been terrorizing New Yorkers even more than usual this year, teaming up in clan warfare during the food-scarce days of strict Covid lockdowns and harassing sidewalk diners once the city began opening up.And this year, more New Yorkers have been falling seriously ill from a rare but potentially fatal bacterial disease called leptospirosis, which is spread through exposure to rats, and specifically through contact with rat urine or contaminated water.Last month, the city's health department reported 14 cases of leptospirosis - an unusually high number since just New York has documented a total of 57 cases in the 15 years since 2006 - and alerted healthcare providers to be on the lookout for symptoms. Of the first 14 cases, 13 people were hospitalized with acute renal and hepatic failure, and one person died as a result of an infection, the alert said. Last week, there was a 15th case. That person appears to have recovered, the health department told Insider. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee to be the next mayor of New York, holds a bag of rat poison in 2019. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images The disease is treatable with antibiotics and some people won't experience any symptoms, though one in ten cases progress to severe complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Every year, there are roughly 150 cases of nationwide, according to the CDC, with most cases occurring in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. The last time leptospirosis made news in New York was in 2017, when a cluster in the Bronx landed three people in the emergency room - sparking a wave of media coverage and criticism of the city's rat mitigation efforts. A 46-year-old man who worked in a meat processing facility had been hospitalized for muscle pain and shortness of breath after cutting his hand at work. He eventually developed the first documented case of testicular swelling associated with leptospirosis.The two others lived or worked on the same block where the first man worked. Of the three, two recovered and one person died, the city said at the time.A few months later, New York issued a veterinary medical alert when dogs started falling ill, some of which were believed to have slurped contaminated water in standing puddles while taking walks during the unusually warm winter.There are about 16 cases of canine leptospirosis a year in New York, according to a surveillance report. Canine cases do not predict where human cases will occur, and while canine to human transmission is possible, no case has ever been documented in New York. Climate change, homelessnessThe 15 cases of leptospirosis reported this year came from all over the city. The city's health department says it can't say for certain what's behind the higher number of cases.Climate change is a likely driver, since warm, moist environments contribute to higher rates of leptospirosis. "Changes in climate that allow bacteria to persist could contribute to an increase in human cases," a health department spokesperson told Insider this week.The spokesperson said that none of the leptospirosis cases had been traced to the widespread flooding in September from Hurricane Ida. Similarly, no infections had been linked to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Housing insecurity also puts people at greater risk of coming in close contact with rats and contaminated water. Three of the people infected this year were experiencing homelessness, and all of the local infections recorded in the health department's database since the year 2000 involved a person who was experiencing poverty. A health department notice about rat control is seen on a street in Brooklyn on June 16, 2017. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images Dr. Robert Glatter, a physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said leptospirosis frequently goes undiagnosed because it affects vulnerable populations who often can't access healthcare. "The main issue for practicing physicians in big cities is to know about the disease, and then consider it in patients presenting with certain risk factors such as poverty or homelessness," he said in an email. A task for SisyphusBrown rats, sometimes known as Norwegian rats, have been a fixture of New York City since they began arriving on boats from Western Europe in the 1700s. In 2014, statistician Jonathan Auerbach estimated that there were about 2 million rats in New York, which is about a quarter the size of the city's human population.There's no reliable headcount of New York City rats and how many of them carry the disease. Dr. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University epidemiologist who co-authored a 2014 study on pathogens including leptospirosis in New York rats, said that the best thing the city can do is invest in rodent control. The city spends millions of dollars a year getting rid of rats. There's even a regular "Rat Academy," which is aimed at turning community members into soldiers in the war on rats. (It will be held virtually this year, starting Oct. 21, and you can register here.) But as Joseph Lhota, who was known as the city's "rat czar" in the 1990s, put it once: "Anybody who's in charge of eradicating rats in New York knows exactly what Sisyphus felt like." A poster of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is seen on a street where trash bags have been left out for collection during the Covid19 pandemic in June 2020. Noam Galai/Getty Images Just a few months after the 2017 outbreak in the Bronx, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio demanded "more rat corpses" and announced a $32 million anti-rat plan on top of the city's regular sanitation budget. This included $8.8 million for new trash compactors and another $16.3 million to put down concrete "rat pads" over the dirt, basement floors at the city's public housing units with the worst rat issues.But then came Covid. While it appears that the widespread closures of restaurants and bars in March of 2020 helped to depress the number of rats scampering through the city, New York's vermin population appears to have more than recovered, says Dr. Robert Corrigan, a New York urban rodentologist who has guided several mayors on their anti-rat initiatives.Rat complaints to New York's 311 hotline dipped down during 2020, the first year of the pandemic, and have increased by 20% so far in 2021, for a total of almost 20,000 complaints. That coincided with a $45.6 million sanitation department budget cut, which reduced trash pick up around the city, including a 25 percent reduction in the areas identified by de Blasio's plan for rat mitigation.Last week, a resident from Mariana Bracetti Plaza in the East Village - one of the developments included in de Blasio's anti-rat plan - posted a video to Instagram that went viral. In it, rats were plundering the pile of trash outside her window so voraciously that it woke her up.A spokesperson for the New York Housing Authority said that inspectors had responded to the infestation and that no recent leptospirosis infections had been reported at its properties. Richard Reynolds holds two dead rats hunted by his Jadterrier. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images A Batman for New York's rat-averseRichard Reynolds knows all too well the problem of rats repeatedly returning to a pile of garbage.Reynolds leads a double-life: By day, he's an American Kennel Club certified dog show judge. By night, he runs a volunteer group of rat-hunting dog-owners, becoming a version of Batman responding to calls from desperate city residents. He gets complaints from public housing projects "constantly," often to the same trash cans.Most Friday nights, for over thirty years, he makes the trip into New York from his home in New Jersey to lead rat-hunting trips with his terriers. The resulting spectacle is not for the squeamish, as fresh blood streams from the dogs' mouths and maggot-infested rat carcasses are dragged out into the open. Reynolds says he's never had a dog get sick as long as he's been hunting rats."You can tell when you see a pile of dead rats if they look sick and dehydrated, they probably have lepto," Reynolds said. "Our dogs walk right past those rats." Richard Reynolds with other members of the volunteer R.A.T.S. squad in lower Manhattan. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images Like others, Reynolds is well aware that ridding New York City of rats is an uphill battle. "If you have two rats today, you'll have 24,000 rats a year from now if there's enough trash for them to eat," he said. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt20 hr. 1 min. ago

J&J boosters are on the horizon for everyone who got that shot - regardless of age, job, or health

Millions of Americans are likely to get Johnson & Johnson boosters now that the FDA's expert panel has unanimously recommended it. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna's booster shot applications, which the FDA authorized only for certain groups, J&J's extra dose will be available to anyone who received the first shot once it's authorized. Brendan McDermid/Reuters An FDA expert panel on Friday unanimously recommended the authorization of a J&J booster shot. If approved, the booster will be available to anyone who received the J&J shot. J&J recipients had felt in the dark and ignored by public-heath authorities for months. The roughly 15 million Americans who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are poised to be eligible to roll up their sleeves for a second dose. On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration's expert panel voted unanimously to recommend the authorization of J&J's booster shot.Unlike Pfizer and Moderna's booster shots, which the FDA greenlit only for certain groups, J&J's extra dose would be recommended to anyone who got the first shot, regardless of their age, occupation, or health status, once it's authorized. The FDA panel's recommendation is a bit of good news after J&J's single-dose vaccine suffered a kind of fall from grace during its rollout. At one point, a factory error led vaccine ingredients to be improperly mixed, and then the CDC issued a pause on the vaccine while it examined the risk of an an extremely rare blood clot condition. Regulators later added a warning label for women under 50. After that, recipients waited through months of silence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA about the possibility of J&J boosters. All the while, health officials regularly updated Americans about the possibility of third Pfizer and Moderna doses. Finally, in late September, J&J released trial results showing that two doses of its vaccine led to 94% protection against mild to severe COVID-19, up from the 74% efficacy found in the trial of its single shot. The data, which was not peer reviewed, put a two-shot J&J vaccine on par with Pfizer and Moderna's mRNA vaccines. Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine was designed to be a one-and-done single shot. But boosters are likely on the way. Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images The FDA found a few issues with those results, however. On Wednesday, the agency released documents that suggested J&J's booster shot application lacked sufficiently robust clinical trial data. In addition to using a low sensitivity lab test in its trial, the FDA found, J&J's application included a study of just 17 participants who'd gotten boosters after six months - a very small sample size.But J&J submitted stronger evidence, including a dataset of 16,000 participants, in support of giving booster shots after two months. (That dataset has not yet been independently reviewed by the FDA, however.)Another factor for J&J recipients to consider is that despite the FDA committee's unanimous recommendation in favor of a booster shot, it appears that mixing and matching vaccines - topping off one dose of J&J with a Pfizer or Moderna shot - may trigger a better immune response than two J&J doses.A preprint study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and released on Wednesday, looked at 458 people who had been vaccinated with one of the three US vaccine brands, then gotten a mix-and-match booster. Researchers found that J&Jers who got a J&J booster saw a 4.2-fold boost in neutralizing antibody levels, on average. By comparison, J&Jers who were topped off with a Moderna or Pfizer dose saw 76-fold and 35-fold increases in their antibodies, respectively. "What the study shows is that regardless of what an individual received originally, getting boosted with one of the three vaccines that we evaluated, the one from Moderna, the one from Janssen, the one from Pfizer, led to good antibody responses in each of the groups," Dr. Robert Atmar, an infectious-disease professor at Baylor College of Medicine who led the study, previously told Insider.Hilary Brueck, and Andrew Dunn contributed reporting.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

NuCypher soars 1,134% in a single day as the altcoin touches $2 billion market valuation

While NuCypher celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday, there was no indication as to what developments drove a surge in demand for the altcoin. Drew Angerer/Getty Images NuCypher soared as much as 1,134% on Friday as the altcoin touched a $2 billion market cap.The decentralized threshold cryptography network celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday.The surge made NuCypher the 79th largest cryptocurrency, according to CoinMarketCap.Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.NuCypher, a little-known altcoin that bills itself as a decentralized threshold cryptography network, soared as much as 1,134% on Friday.The surge catapulted NuCypher's market valuation to more than $2 billion from about $200 million as one-day volume exploded 18,266% higher, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The altcoin hit a high of $3.58 before paring its gains by about 50% to $1.80.While NuCypher celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday, there was no clear indication as to what developments drove such a sharp surge in demand for the altcoin, which is now the 79th largest cryptocurrency by market value."One year ago today the NuCypher network launched. Since then, thousands of stakes and dozens of dapp developers have discovered threshold cryptography," NuCypher's Twitter profile said Friday morning.The surge in NuCypher came as bitcoin continued its October rally and hit $60,000 amid ongoing speculation that the SEC may be close to approving the first bitcoin futures ETF.NuCypher has 687.5 million coins in circulation and a max supply of 3.9 billion coins. NuCypher, which is built on the ethereum network, serves as an encryption service for public blockchains and offers end-to-end encrypted data sharing on public blockchains and decentralized storage solutions.NuCypher's white paper was first published in 2017, and the altcoin began trading on October 15, 2020, at a price of $0.23 and a market valuation of $2.4 million. Coinmarketcap Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Bernie Sanders slams the "corporate elite" like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, who "love the idea" of paying less in taxes

Sen. Sanders called out lobbyists for stalling Democrats' social-spending bill so that billionaires wouldn't pay their fair share in taxes. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Joshua Lott/Getty Images Sen. Bernie Sanders called out billionaires and lobbyists for stalling Democrats' social-spending bill. He wrote in an op-ed that people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos "love" paying less in taxes. The bill would raise the corporate tax rate and lower drug prices for Americans, which the wealthy and Big Pharma oppose. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders isn't holding back his thoughts on why Democrats still haven't come to an agreement on their $3.5 trillion social-spending bill. In a recent opinion piece, he unleashed on lobbyists and billionaires who oppose the spending."The corporate elite seem to love the idea that billionaires have a lower effective tax rate than nurses or teachers and that, in a given year, there are dozens of profitable corporations that don't pay a nickel in federal income tax," Sanders wrote in an op-ed for Fox News.Sanders has also recently criticized centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema's opposition to the price tag of President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion social-spending package, which includes measures like affordable childcare and free community college. He's held several press conferences, venting his frustration at the slow movement of a bill he shepherded as chairman of the budget committee. His Wednesday op-ed called for "Democratic unity," but he wasn't vague on indicating who he thinks is to blame for the stalling of the package.Sanders referenced Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as owning more wealth than the entire bottom 40% of the US population and wrote they, along with other billionaires, are "vigorously opposed" to the Democrats' legislation that would raise the corporate tax rate and hold the wealthiest people accountable for paying their fair share in taxes. He also called out lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry, private health insurance companies, and the fossil fuel industry for persuading some lawmakers to oppose the passage of the bill. Insider reported last week that Sanders accused Manchin and Sinema of selling Biden's agenda out to Big Pharma, saying during a press briefing to "take a hard look" at the lawmakers' campaign-finance reports."See where they get their money, how many of them get their money from the pharmaceutical industry, and the executives there," Sanders said. "And I think there will be a direct correlation."Democrats are in the process of negotiating what will make it into the final version of their social-spending bill, and given Manchin and Sinema's stance they will not support a $3.5 trillion price tag, measures will have to be cut. Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported on what those measures could be: free community college, child tax credits, affordable housing, and more. But Sanders has remained adamant that Democrats should not cave to what two members of the party want, putting measures like free community college and lower prescription drug prices at stake."Will all Democrats stand together to protect the interests of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Will all Democrats stand together to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry, and wealthy campaign contributors?" Sanders wrote. "I certainly hope so." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 14th, 2021

With Help From a Beer Maker, There’s a New Front Opening in the Battle Over School Masks

The owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company is using money from the super PAC he launched to fund lawsuits that would force Wisconsin schools to require masks in class Shannon Jensen was diligent about making sure her sons wore masks to school when classes resumed in September. Other parents in Waukesha, Wis., weren’t. And three weeks after school opened, Jensen’s eldest son, who was seated next to an unmasked classmate who had COVID-19 symptoms, fell ill with the virus. Soon, another of her boys had tested positive, according to a lawsuit that marks a new twist in the ongoing battle over what schools should be doing to protect children from the coronavirus. While parents across the country have filed lawsuits against states and school districts to protest mask mandates, Jensen, with backing from a local beer maker, is suing to force all of Wisconsin’s school districts to require masks and other safety measures in classrooms. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Her lawsuit, filed Oct. 6, is one of two being funded by the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC over schools’ handling—or alleged mishandling—of in-person learning during the pandemic. Kirk Bangstad, who owns the brewery and who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat against a Republican incumbent in the Wisconsin State Assembly last year, calls this “the boldest project we’ve ever taken on.” “We’re not looking for damages. We’re looking for a judge to basically place an injunction on school districts who aren’t following the CDC guidelines for masking, social distancing, contact tracing and quarantining in schools,” says Bangstad, who has raised more than $50,000 through the super PAC to fund the lawsuits. “We’re not looking for money.” Courtesy Kirk BangstadKirk Bangstad, whose Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is backing lawsuits demanding schools require masks to stem the spread of COVID-19. The legal battle brewing Bangstad launched his super PAC in January, but before then, his brewery’s political leanings were clear. It has offered a “Biden Beer” (marketed as “inoffensive and not bitter”), a “Bernie Brew” and a stout honoring Vice President Kamala Harris, described as “the strongest beer we could make.” “We’d like to see a lot more progressive organizations and politicians join us on the battlefield against these wild-eyed regressive school boards.”Both lawsuits accuse the plaintiffs’ local school districts of “recklessly refusing to implement the reasonable and scientifically supported COVID-19 mitigation strategies,” alleging they failed a duty to keep students safe and “threw students into a COVID-19 ‘snake pit.’” Bangstad is seeking class-action status for the suits, aiming to force every school district in the state to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. (The CDC recommends that all students and staff wear masks in school, regardless of vaccination status, and recently published two studies showing that schools without mask requirements were more likely to have virus outbreaks than schools with mask mandates.) More than 850,000 students attend the state’s public K-12 schools. Bangstad’s advocacy began when he closed his brewpub in September 2020 because of business challenges during the pandemic and pivoted to selling beer. “I started a super PAC as part of that pivot, with the aim of raising money to make Wisconsin more progressive, so we’d never have to face a Donald Trump again,” he says. While he doesn’t have children of his own, he recently turned his attention to the “fast and furious onslaught” of conservative protests against school boards around the country and in his own state. “We’d like to see a lot more progressive organizations and politicians join us on the battlefield against these wild-eyed regressive school boards,” Bangstad wrote in a blog post about the lawsuits, encouraging others to sue their local school board if their kids contract COVID-19, or organize a recall of school board members who oppose mask mandates. Paul Hennessy—SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images A protester outside the Volusia County School Board in Deland, Fla., on Sept. 14, 2021. The school board voted 3-2 to modify its mask mandate to allow parents to opt out of the requirement for their children. ‘Outbreak in the classroom’ Jensen, whose sons attend Rose Glen Elementary School, sent her children to school in person last year when the school district required masking, temperature checks and contact tracing. Those rules were lifted this school year, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. School started on Sept. 1, and Jensen says in the lawsuit that her sons all wore masks to school. On Sept. 17, the suit says, a child in her eldest son’s classroom who had not been wearing a mask was sent home with symptoms of COVID-19. Two days later, Jensen’s son tested positive for the virus and missed six days of school with no virtual learning option while Jensen quarantined him at home in the basement, apart from his brothers. According to her legal declaration included with the lawsuit, four students in her eldest child’s classroom tested positive for COVID-19, and one of her other sons also contracted the virus. “I’m primarily hearing a lot of frustration that school boards and school districts are not taking fairly reasonable steps to protect students.”“It appeared there was an outbreak in the classroom and a substantial delay in notifications going out to the parents,” Jensen said. “The School District of Waukesha’s refusal to implement reasonable COVID-19 mitigation strategies, not only affected our immediate family, but if we had been notified sooner of my oldest son’s close contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19, we could have prevented possible further community spread of the virus.” James Sebert, superintendent of Waukesha schools, and Joseph Como, president of the Waukesha Board of Education, declined to comment. The second lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin by Gina Kildahl, whose son attends Fall Creek Elementary School in Fall Creek, Wis. Two of his classmates tested positive for COVID-19, at least one of whom didn’t wear a mask in school, and Kildahl’s son tested positive days later on Sept. 27, according to the lawsuit. Kildahl chose to quarantine him, and he missed two weeks of school. Leaders of the Fall Creek school district and board of education did not respond to requests for comment. Frederick Melms, an attorney representing Jensen and Kildahl, says he’s heard from parents in other states who are interested in taking similar legal action. “I’m primarily hearing a lot of frustration that school boards and school districts are not taking fairly reasonable steps to protect students,” he says. On social media, some have criticized Bangstad for using his super PAC to get involved in local school debates and accused him of using the litigation to promote his own beer. But he says it hasn’t bothered him: “If my beer sells well because I’m advocating to help keep kids healthy, then f-ck yeah.”    .....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 14th, 2021

White River Bancshares Co. Earns $1.93 Million, or $1.99 Per Diluted Share, in Third Quarter 2021; Results Highlighted By Double Digit Loan and Deposit Growth Year-Over-Year; Book Value Increases to $81.47 Per Common Share

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Oct. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- White River Bancshares Company (OTCQX:WRIV), (the "Company") the holding company for Signature Bank of Arkansas (the "Bank"), today reported net income increased 67.4% to $1.93 million, or $1.99 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2021, compared to $1.15 million, or $1.19 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2020. In the prior quarter, the Company earned a record $2.08 million, or $2.14 per diluted share. In the first nine months of 2021, net income more than doubled to $5.56 million, or $5.73 per diluted share, compared to $2.56 million, or $2.64 per diluted share, in the first nine months of 2020. All financial results are unaudited. "We achieved the highest third quarter earnings in the company's history, fueled by strong revenue generation, double digit loan and deposit growth year-over-year and an expanding net interest margin," said Gary Head, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest growing markets in the United States, and we are taking advantage of this growth by capturing market share and expanding our balance sheet while looking for new opportunities." "Another highlight of the quarter was the Board's decision to pay an annual cash dividend of $0.50 per share," Head continued. "The dividend is a testament to the strength of our core banking activities and financial performance of our franchise. We are pleased that our earnings growth provides us the opportunity to both begin this dividend program and support future growth at the Bank." "Deposit balances remained at record levels at the end of September, with new customer relationships contributing to strong quarterly deposit growth," said Scott Sandlin, Chief Strategy Officer. "Part of our success in gathering new low-cost deposits has been our enhanced marketing initiatives that emphasize full banking relationships. Our banking teams have done an excellent job of offering deposit products to compliment every lending relationship, as noninterest bearing deposits are up 56.4% year-over-year." "During both rounds of Federal funding, we were active with helping our customers receive PPP loans from the SBA," said Jeff Maland, Chief Risk Officer. "Over the course of the two rounds of PPP lending, we funded 433 PPP loans totaling $29.0 million to both existing and new customers. At quarter-end, only 90 PPP loans totaling $6.2 million remained on the books, as a majority of these loans were forgiven during the prior quarter. We have also done an excellent job of replacing PPP loans with new loan originations, with heavy demand for new home loans, and construction and land development loans." Third Quarter 2021 Financial Highlights: Third quarter net income increased 67.4% to $1.93 million, or $1.99 per diluted share, compared to $1.15 million, or $1.19 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2020. Annualized return on average assets was 0.95%, compared to 0.61% in the third quarter a year ago. Annualized return on average equity was 9.80%, compared to 6.34% in the third quarter a year ago. There was no provision for loan losses in the third quarter or second quarter of 2021. This compares to a $300,000 provision in the third quarter of 2020. Net loans increased 12.5% to $661.7 million at September 30, 2021, compared to $588.4 million at September 30, 2020. Total deposits increased 16.9% to $739.7 million at September 30, 2021, compared to $632.5 million a year ago. Noninterest bearing deposits increased 56.4% to $263.5 million at September 30, 2021, compared to $168.5 million a year ago. Nonperforming assets totaled $149,000, or 0.02% of total assets at September 30, 2021, compared to $400,000, or 0.05% of total assets, at September 30, 2020. Book value per common share increased to $81.47 at September 30, 2021, from $75.17 a year ago. Total risk-based capital ratio was 12.84% and the Tier 1 leverage ratio was 10.89% for the Bank at September 30, 2021. Income Statement "The changes we have made in investments and funding mix has reduced our dependency on internet CD's and FHLB advances. We are now primarily funding loan growth with low-cost deposits, which helped our net interest margin expand 31 basis points during the quarter," said Brant Ward, Chief Operating Officer. The Company's NIM improved to 3.64% in the third quarter of 2021, compared to 3.33% in the third quarter of 2020, and expanded eight basis points compared to 3.56% in the prior quarter. In the first nine months of 2021, the net interest margin improved 13 basis points to 3.67%, compared to 3.54% in the first nine months of 2020. Third quarter net interest income increased 17.7% to $7.1 million, compared to $6.0 million in the third quarter of 2020. Total interest income increased 3.4% to $8.1 million in the third quarter of 2021, from $7.9 million in the third quarter of 2020. Total interest expense decreased by 42.7% to $1.1 million in the third quarter of 2021, from $1.9 million during the third quarter of 2020. In the first nine months of 2021, net interest income increased 13.5% to $20.9 million, compared to $18.4 million in the first nine months of 2020. Noninterest income increased 36.7% to $1.7 million in the third quarter of 2021, compared to $1.2 million in the third quarter a year ago. The Company benefitted from higher wealth management fee income, steady service charges and deposit fees and substantially higher secondary market fee income compared to the third quarter in the prior year. In the first nine months of the year, noninterest income increased 45.2% to $5.1 million, compared to $3.5 million in the first nine months of 2020. Noninterest expense increased to $6.2 million in the third quarter of 2021, compared to $5.4 million in the third quarter of 2020. Higher commissions due to increased revenues in our lines of business along with ancillary costs related to our core conversion and new branch contributed to the increase during the third quarter of 2021. Balance Sheet Total assets increased by 15.1% to $866.1 million at September 30, 2021, from $752.6 million at September 30, 2020, and increased 6.8% compared to $810.7 million at June 30, 2021. Cash and cash equivalents increased to $77.5 million at September 30, 2021 from $49.6 million a year ago. Investment securities increased to $84.7 million at September 30, 2021 from $70.4 million a year ago, as the Company actively moved cash balances into better yielding investment securities during the quarter. Loans, net of allowance for loan losses, increased 12.5% to $661.7 million at September 30, 2021, compared to $588.4 million a year ago, and increased 2.8% compared to $643.6 million three months earlier. Through the close of the first round of the PPP program on August 8, 2020, the Bank had funded approximately 274 PPP loans totaling $20.7 million to both existing and new customers. Through the close of the second round of the PPP program on May 31, 2021, the Bank had funded approximately 159 PPP loans totaling $8.3 million. As of September 30, 2021, no PPP loans from round one, and $6.2 million in PPP loans from round two, remained on the books. Deposit balances remained at record levels, with new customer relationships contributing to strong quarterly deposit growth. Total deposits increased 16.9% to $739.7 million at September 30, 2021, compared to $632.5 million a year ago and increased 7.8% compared to $685.9 million at June 30, 2021, with noninterest bearing deposits increasing 56.4% to $263.5 million at September 30, 2021, compared to $168.5 million a year ago. FHLB advances totaled $16.1 million at September 30, 2021 from $17.2 million at September 30, 2020. Total stockholders' equity increased 8.3% to $78.9 million at September 30, 2021, from $72.8 million at September 30, 2020 and increased 1.9% when compared to $77.4 million at June 30, 2021. Book value per common share increased to $81.47 at September 30, 2021 from $75.17 at September 30, 2020, and $79.91 at June 30, 2021. Credit Quality "We continue to be encouraged by the overall asset quality of our loan portfolio, including minimal nonperforming assets as of quarter end," said Maland. "Additionally, we no longer have any loans on deferral at September 30, 2021 from the payment forbearance agreements we had made with some customers experiencing financial hardship at the early onset of the pandemic."   Due to excellent credit quality and a strong allowance for loan losses, the Company reported no provision for loan losses in both the third quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2021. This compares to a $300,000 provision for loan losses during the third quarter of 2020.   Nonperforming loans totaled $149,000 at September 30, 2021. This compared to no nonperforming loans at June 30, 2021, and $200,000 in nonperforming loans at September 30, 2020. Nonperforming assets were $149,000 at September 30, 2021, compared to no nonperforming assets at June 30, 2021, and $400,000 in nonperforming assets at September 30, 2020. Total nonperforming assets were 0.02% of total assets at September 30, 2021, 0.00% at June 30, 2021, and 0.05% at September 30, 2020. The allowance for loan losses was $8.6 million, or 1.28% of total loans, at September 30, 2021, when excluding the $6.2 million of PPP loans, which are 100% guaranteed by the SBA. This compared to $8.4 million, or 1.39% of total loans, at September 30, 2020. Net loan charge-offs were $81,000 in the third quarter of 2021, compared to net loan recoveries of $3,000 in the second quarter of 2021, and net loan charge-offs of $169,000 in the third quarter of 2020. Capital The Bank's capital ratios continued to exceed regulatory "well-capitalized" requirements, with a Tier 1 leverage ratio estimate of 10.89%, Common equity Tier 1 capital ratio of 11.69%, Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 11.69% and Total capital ratio of 12.84%, at September 30, 2021. About White River Bancshares Company White River Bancshares Company is the single bank holding company for Signature Bank of Arkansas. Both are headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Bank has locations in Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville, Rogers and Brinkley, Arkansas. Founded in 2005, Signature Bank of Arkansas provides a full line of financial services to small businesses, families and farms. White River Bancshares Company (OTCQX: WRIV), trades on the OTCQX® Best Market.   About the Region White River Bancshares Company is located in thriving Northwest Arkansas in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA. The region is home to the corporate headquarters for Walmart Stores Inc, Sam's Club, Tyson Foods, Simmons Foods, and J.B. Hunt Transport. Hundreds of other market-leading companies including Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola and Rubbermaid maintain offices in the region in order to maintain their relationships with the locally-based Fortune 500 companies. Northwest Arkansas is also home to the state's flagship public educational institution, The University of Arkansas and its Sam M. Walton College of Business. The region has seen significant growth in its medical and arts infrastructures with the continued expansion of Washington Regional Medical System, Northwest Medical System, Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas and Arkansas Children's Hospital Northwest. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Walton Arts Center have led the expansion of the arts. Northwest Arkansas has been repeatedly recognized in recent years as one of the best places to live in the country and remains one of the nation's fastest-growing regions. Forward Looking Statements This press release contains statements about future events. These forward-looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions of management of the Company and the Bank and describe our future plans, strategies and expectations, can generally be identified by use of forward-looking terminology such as "may," "will," "believe," "plan," "expect," "intend," "anticipate," "estimate," "project," or similar expressions or the negative of those terms. Our ability to predict results of future events and the actual effect of future plans or strategies are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those predicted in such forward-looking statements. Factors that could have a material adverse effect on our operations and future prospects or that could affect the outcome of such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, changes in interest rates; the economic health of the local real estate market; general economic conditions; credit deterioration in our loan portfolio that would cause us to increase our allowance for loan losses; legislative or regulatory changes; technological developments; monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, including policies of the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board; the quality or composition of our loan and securities portfolios; demand for loan products in our market areas; deposit flows and costs of capital; competition; retention and recruitment of qualified personnel; demand for financial services in our market areas; and changes in accounting principles, policies, and guidelines. These risks and uncertainties should be considered in evaluating forward-looking statements, and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. The Company does not undertake and specifically declines any obligation to publicly release the result of any revisions that may be made to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of such statements or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events.                                               Contact: Scott Sandlin, Chief Strategy Officer   479-684-3754 WHITE RIVER BANCSHARES COMPANY   CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS   September 30, 2021, June 30, 2021 and September 30, 2020                     UNAUDITED   September 30, 2021     June 30, 2021   September 30, 2020                   ASSETS                     Cash and due from banks $ 77,451,337     $ 40,761,741     $ 49,636,364     Federal funds sold     68,441       140,154       -                       Total cash and cash equivalents   77,519,778       40,901,895       49,636,364                       Investment securities   84,719,875       87,703,034       70,375,655     Loans held for sale   7,300,173       4,754,632       10,689,131     Loans, net of allowance for loan losses   661,748,201       643,628,102       588,429,575     Premises and equipment, net   25,202,545       24,531,056       24,030,438     Foreclosed assets held for sale   100       100       200,100     Accrued interest receivable   2,336,515       2,171,138       2,581,457     Deferred income taxes   1,899,258       1,863,572       1,480,231     Other investments     2,899,285       2,896,985       2,888,585     Other assets       2,507,609       2,288,891       2,296,588                             $ 866,133,339     $ 810,739,405     $ 752,608,124                       LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY                     Deposits:                 Demand deposits - non-interest bearing $ 263,531,523     $ 211,286,665     $ 168,518,880       - interest bearing   254,579,040       250,458,669       179,409,301     Savings deposits     23,631,159       22,772,238       16,688,392     Time deposits - under $250M   104,817,483       109,170,757       151,198,785         - $250M and over   93,112,785       92,205,366       116,721,324                       Total deposits   739,671,990       685,893,695       632,536,682                       Federal Home Loan Bank advances   16,095,431       16,843,983       17,161,929     Notes payable       10,791,724       10,785,412       10,766,607     Accrued interest payable   352,228       227,688       689,096     Other liabilities     20,348,822      .....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaOct 14th, 2021

Metro Phoenix Bank Reports Earnings of $1,927,000, or $0.51 per Diluted Share in 3Q 2021; Loan Growth (Net PPP) Is Flat at 0.70% for the Quarter; Asset Quality Remains Strong as Non-Performing Asset Ratio Is 0.00%

PHOENIX, Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- MPB BHC, INC. (OTC:MPHX), the holding company for Metro Phoenix Bank ("Bank"), announced net income for quarter ending September 30, 2021 of $1,927,000, or $0.51 per diluted share, up from $1,703,000, or $0.45 per diluted share in second quarter 2021. Net income increased 18.88% from $1,621,000 in the third quarter of 2020. Metro Phoenix Bank's third quarter earnings reflect the positive impact of a fully funded allowance for loan & lease losses (ALLL) and strong SBA lending activity. Stephen P. Haggard, Bank President and Chief Executive Officer stated, "Although net loan growth was flat for the quarter, the lending team has done a very good job in protecting our baseline earning asset level while a commercial loan rate-refinance frenzy is occurring in our market. We will win on some of these and lose on some, but at this time we are maintaining a pricing discipline to keep our cumulative year-to-date net interest margin north of 4.00%. I believe that we are positioned well to hold off additional margin compression as we have deep vertical expertise in SBA lending and Outdoor Media lending, which are both more inelastic when it comes to interest rate sensitivity. However, that definitely is not the case when it comes to owner-occupied commercial real estate and quality C&I lending, which are both experiencing aggressive pricing competition. "At this stage, the remaining PPP loans are essentially a non-factor on the Bank's loan portfolio and income statement. We currently have less than $11 million on the books and we anticipate our PPP portfolio will be retired by year end. "Asset quality remains unchanged and the Bank is operating with an ALLL that has a surplus, or unallocated balance in the reserves. The portfolio appears to be performing well in light of the recent disruption created by the COVID-19 Delta variant. Mitigating the impact of the Delta surge is the fact that Arizona has essentially remained opened for business throughout this pandemic, which has led to robust economic growth for most well-managed and well-capitalized small- to medium-sized businesses and commercial real estate projects; staffing & supply chain issues appear to be the two common denominator threats affecting future operations. "In summary, our loan pipeline remains healthy, but production needs to account for new loan growth as well as replacing the payoffs that are occurring due to rate-refinance activity and underlying real estate loan collateral being sold in a very favorable cap rate market. Nonetheless, loan opportunities remain abundant as MPB focuses on continued quality loan growth." Third Quarter 2021 Highlights Net Income for the quarter was $1,927,000 or $0.51 per diluted share. ROA of 1.85% for the quarter ROE of 18.96% for the quarter NIM of 3.72% for the quarter, with the cost of funds increasing to 0.30%; relatively unchanged when compared to the linked quarter cost of funds of 0.29%. SBA Gains on Sale of $827,361 for the quarter. Provision Expense of $0 for the quarter. Efficiency Ratio of 50.27% for the quarter. Loan growth (net PPP) of 0.70% for the quarter. Deposit growth of 4.13% for the quarter. Non-Performing Asset Ratio is 0.00%, no significant change from the linked quarter. Balance Sheet Total assets grew by 4.04% to $411.4 million at September 30, 2021 and increased 27.07% compared to $323.8 million a year ago. Total loans decreased by 2.31% to $283.4 million at September 30, 2021 and increased 10.40% compared to $256.7 million a year ago. Excluding PPP loans of $10.9 million at the end of 3Q, loans increased 0.70% compared to 2Q and increased 26.80% compared to a year ago. Total deposits increased by 4.13% to $366.4 million at September 30, 2021 and increased 30.53% compared to $280.7 million a year ago. The allowance for loan losses totaled $3.755 million at September 30, 2021, or 1.32% of total loans. Excluding the PPP loan balance of $10.9 million, an adjusted allowance for loan losses equates to 1.38% of total loans. No material changes have occurred in the reported credit quality of the loan portfolio since the preceding quarter. Shareholders' equity increased to $41.37 million at September 30, 2021, from $39.45 million the preceding quarter and increased 10.67% compared to $37.38 million a year ago. At September 30, 2021, book value and tangible book value were $11.88 per share compared to $11.32 per share at June 30, 2021 and $10.74 per share a year ago. Capital Management The Bank's capital ratio exceeded the regulatory guidelines established under Section 201 of the Economic Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. Effective January 2020, community banks are tested for capital health based on a single capital ratio, the Community Bank Leverage Ratio (CBLR). The Bank reported the following capital ratio: Regulatory Capital Ratios Bank09/30/21 Regulatory Minimum Requirement Community Bank Leverage Ratio 9.95% 8.50% About the Company Metro Phoenix Bank, Inc., established in 2007 and headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, is a full-service community bank that caters to small- to mid-sized businesses and real estate professionals. MPB offers commercial clients a variety of services ranging from Commercial Real Estate Lending, Outdoor Media Lending, SBA financing solutions, and a robust treasury management platform that includes a Homeowners Association (HOA)/Property Management specialty program. The bank holding company (MPB BHC, INC.) is traded over the counter as MPHX. For additional information, visit: Forward-looking Statements This press release may include forward-looking statements about Metro Phoenix Bank. These statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the following factors: competition, fluctuations in interest rates, dependency on key individuals, loan defaults, geographical concentration, litigation and changes in federal laws, regulations, and interpretations thereof. All forward-looking statements included in this press release are based on information available at the time of the release. Metro Phoenix Bank assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement. Unaudited Summary Financial Information (dollars in thousands, except per share data or noted otherwise) For the Three months For the Nine months ended September 30, ended September 30, Year-End 2021 2020 2021 2020 2020 Summary Income Data.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaOct 14th, 2021

Arizona sets new venture capital investment record following strong third quarter

As the world continues to shake off the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic impacts, venture capitalist dealmakers have been busy funding deals like never before. During the third quarter, venture capitalists funded 41 deals in Arizona worth more than $566 million, according to the new Venture Monitor report from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. The strong third quarter figures have pushed Arizona to a combined investment total of $979.5 million this year, which is a record….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 14th, 2021

Taibbi: Konstantin Kilimnik, Russiagate"s Last Fall Guy, Speaks Out

Taibbi: Konstantin Kilimnik, Russiagate's Last Fall Guy, Speaks Out Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News, On Real Time With Bill Maher two Fridays ago, I fumbled and deflected politely over a Russiagate question, instead of going full cage match. The segment went off the rails beginning with this exchange: MAHER: You compared it to WMDs. You said, the Russia connection with Trump is this generation’s WMD. I don’t think that’s an accurate analogy, because there were no WMDs. But there was collusion with Russia. TAIBBI: Really? Where? MAHER: Where? The Senate Intelligence Committee, run by Republicans, who are if anything slavish to Trump, their report said, “The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a ‘grave’ counterintelligence threat.” First of all, that quote isn’t from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report from last August. It’s actually a paraphrase of the report from an Associated Press article, “Trump campaign’s Russia contacts ‘grave’ threat, Senate says,” which reads: WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave” counterintelligence threat, a Senate panel concluded Tuesday… The real SSCI quote is a little different: Taken as a whole, Manafort's high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat. By all rights, Russiagate should be dead as a serious news story. But as the Real Time episode showed, “collusion” is still alive for some, and the bulk of the case essentially rests now upon the characterization of one person from the above passage as a Russian agent: a former aide to Paul Manafort named Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik is a Ukrainian-American who’d served in the army and was hired to work as a translator at the American-funded International Republican Institute in Moscow beginning in the mid-nineties. In 2005, he left the IRI to go work for Paul Manafort, who was advising future president Viktor Yanukovich and the “Party of Regions” in Ukraine. As it happens, Kilimnik worked at the IRI in Moscow during the same time I lived in that city in the nineties and early 2000s. In fact, he was well-known enough in that small expatriate community that in the space of a day last week I was able to reach, through mutual acquaintances, five of Kilimnik’s former colleagues, including three from the IRI and one from the U.S. State Department, to whom he was a regular and valuable contact (the Senate investigators left that fact out). I also called Kilimnik and had two lengthy interviews with him. Why bring this up? Because in that little flurry of calls, I did more actual work on Konstantin Kilimnik than either the Special Counsel or SSCI researchers, who ostensibly spent thousands of man-hours investigating him. Kilimnik being a spy wouldn’t just mean that the Trump campaign had been penetrated. It would mean the same thing for the IRI, which was chaired by late Senator and leading proponent of the Russiagate theory John McCain at the time. More to the point, it would also be disastrous for the State Department, and particularly for the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, whose staffers placed great trust in “KK” as a regular source. The FBI’s own declassified reports show Kilimnik met with the head of the Kiev embassy’s political section “at least biweekly” during his time working with Manafort and Yanukovitch, adding that he “displayed good knowledge and seemed to know what was going on,” and came across as “less slanted” than other sources, among many other things. This fits with what I was told by multiple former colleagues of Kilimnik’s, that staffers in the Kiev embassy valued his analyses above those of some Americans in Yanukovitch’s orbit. (A third former co-worker was a little more blunt about what he heard, saying the Kiev embassy was “sucking his dick”). They also show the embassy was so intent on protecting Kilimnik’s identity as a State Department source that they pulled his name out of diplomatic cables sent home: Kilimnik says he “played a certain role in communication with the Western embassies in Kiev” both before and after the “Euromaidan” Revolution in 2014. “I tried to draw attention to facts about thugs attacking TV channels and opposition politicians, and things like [an arson attack against “InterTV” in 2016],” he says, adding that he “naively thought the West would stand for media freedom and protecting rules for fair play in politics, like it has for many years.” The only reason nobody’s asked the Senate Committee why Kilimnik’s alleged spy status doesn’t also represent a “grave” embarrassment to, say, the U.S. State Department is because our press corps is the most dogshit on earth (more on that in a moment). Special Counsel Robert Mueller claimed the FBI spoke to an IRI employee who said Kilimnik was “fired from his post because his links to Russian intelligence were too strong.” Though not all the IRI staffers I reached liked Kilimnik, each found the idea that he might be a spy alternately ridiculous and baffling. Multiple ex-colleagues said they believed he was fired for “moonlighting,” i.e. because he’d already started working for Manafort. “I was actually moonlighting. It was a funny story,” Kilimnik says (for a more complete explanation, see the Q&A below). As to the idea that it was known around the IRI office that Kilimnik had intelligence ties, one former senior IRI official said, “I think whoever said that, that’s someone trying to feel more important in retrospect,” adding that the idea that he was “some GRU plant from years gone by” was questionable because the Russians “didn’t know their right from their left back then, and the IRI could not described as a high-value target.” The official concluded: “I find the notion that Kilimnik is now this big figure remarkable.” None of former employees of the Moscow IRI office I spoke with had been contacted by any American investigator, including Mueller. Then there’s the matter of the suspect himself. Question to Kilimnik: how many times was he questioned by American authorities, with whom he was so familiar — remember he met with American officials “at least biweekly” at one point pre-Trump — during the entire Russiagate period? “Not a single person from the U.S. Government ever reached out to me,” Kilimnik says. Nobody from the Office of the Special Counsel, the FBI, or the Senate Intelligence Committee ever contacted him? “Not once,” Kilimnik says. “Nobody from Mueller’s team reached out to me, literally nobody.” In reaching Kilimnik last week I also became just the second American reporter, after Aaron Maté of RealClear Investigations and Grayzone, to call Kilimnik for comment on the Senate report. Virtually every American news organization or TV commentary program has in the last year repeated accusations against Kilimnik made by either the Senate Intelligence Committee or the U.S. Treasury Department, which earlier this year called him a “Russian Intelligence Services agent” in an announcement of sanctions against Russia. It was once normal practice in American media to give people a chance to respond to serious allegations, but no longer, apparently. “Zero. Zero,” says Kilimnik, when asked how many American media outlets called him after the release of the Senate report. Incidentally, Kilimnik isn’t hiding under a snow-covered trap door at a secret FSB installation outside Izhievsk. He’s in an apartment in Northwest Moscow, where anyone could find him. “Everybody knows my phone number. It was in Mueller’s reports,” he says. “But I got no questions. I mean, a lot of people know how to find me. I guess they just didn’t care.” Kilimnik was even on the list of 16 entities and 16 individuals the Treasury just this year said “attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the leadership of the Russian Government.” That’s the 2020 election, not the 2016 election, meaning the one that came after the Senate report. “The US actually sanctioned me for interference in 2020 elections,” Kilimnik says. “I would not be able to say why. I’d love to know. I’ve been sitting in fucking Moscow, in my backyard, and feeding squirrels. Must have been some sort of interference.” The aforementioned Maté published photos of Kilimnik’s passport that appear to show he entered the U.S. on a visa stamped in a regular Russian passport on October 28, 1997. This is the same date the Senate committee said he was entering the United States on a diplomatic passport. The Senate also said Kilimnik met with Manafort in Spain in 2017, which he denies. “I’ve never been to Spain,” Kilimnik laughs. “I haven’t been there. Let them prove I’ve been there.” Another thing that came up on Real Time was the idea that we shouldn’t dismiss the monetarily tiny Russian Facebook campaign — featuring classics that ironically read like Real Time bits, with images of Jesus pleading with American voters, “Struggling with addiction to masturbation? Reach out to me and we’ll beat it together” — because “9/11 didn’t cost much either”: I oversold things on the air, talking about how the Internet Research Agency only spent $100,000, as only $44,000 of that was before the campaign. More importantly, only a tiny percentage of ads qualified as coherent propaganda. I’d wager few Americans have actually read through all these ads, which have messages like, “Tell me once again that there’s no such thing as white privilege,” “Stop Trump and his bigoted agenda!”, and “Share the experience and the challenges of the black hair industry.” Overall, for 2016, they read like a creepy, overambitious parody of woke culture, with a tinge of Charlie Manson’s “Helter Skelter” plan thrown in. Whatever it is/was, it’s pretty far from 9/11: Kilimnik stands accused of helping Evil Von Putin aim this high-tech weapon. How? Senate investigators said, “Manafort briefed Kilimnik on sensitive Campaign polling data and the Campaign’s strategy for beating Hillary Clinton.” What was sensitive about it? “That’s bullshit. There was nothing that resembled ‘sensitive’ polling data,” Kilimnik says. “I would get two figures maybe once a month, not every day, not every week.” Two figures — meaning two pages? “Two digits,” he says. “Like, ‘Trump 40, Hillary 45.’ That’s all I would get, nothing more. So I don’t understand how this is sensitive data.” Kilimnik was getting his information from former Trump deputy campaign chief Rick Gates, who was directed to send the data to Kilimnik by Manafort. None other than Rachel Maddow once called Gates “Mueller’s star cooperating witness.” I called Gates last week and asked: what was he passing to Kilimnik? “Top-line data, and I want people to understand what that means,” he says. “It was like, ‘Ohio, Clinton 48, Trump 50,’ Or, ‘Wisconsin, Trump 50, Clinton 42.’ The sources were a combination of things like RealClear Politics and occasionally some numbers from [Republican pollster] Tony Fabrizio. But it was all just top-line stuff.” Gates’s story is that Manafort was passing this data back to people like his longtime sponsors, the Ukrainian barons Rinat Akhmetov and Sergei Lyvochkin, because “Paul was just trying to show that Trump was doing well,” as “Paul was just trying to do what he’s always done,” i.e. trying to show how valuable he could be. For those disinclined to believing the Gates or Kilimnik version of events, remember that neither Mueller nor the Senate Intelligence Committee could come up with a different one. Apart from adding “sensitive” to their description (Mueller just called it “internal polling data”), the Senate never offered evidence that Kilimnik was getting more than those few numbers. As to why Kilimnik was sent this information, this is what the Senate had to say: The Committee was unable to reliably determine why Manafort shared sensitive internal polling data or Campaign strategy with Kilimnik. Manafort and Gates both claimed that it was part of an effort to resolve past business disputes and obtain new work with their past Russian and Ukrainian clients by showcasing Manafort's success. Why “sensitive?” The Committee was “unable to reliably determine” why, having no idea what Kilimnik did with those numbers. But they were sure enough it was bad to conclude it represented a “grave counterintelligence threat.” Kilimnik is roughly the twentieth suspect in a long list of alleged secret conduits that across five years have already been tried out and discarded by pundits and investigators alike as “smoking gun” links between Trump and Putin. An abbreviated list: There was a Maltese professor named Josef Mifsud and a young Trump aide named George Papadopoulos, former Trump adviser Carter Page, an alleged “secret server” supposedly pinging between Trump and Alfa Bank, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser J.D. Gordon, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, real estate developer Felix Sater, another Russian who approached Trump people claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton named Henry Oknyansky, a Russian firm called Concord Consulting, plus Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, and many others. The pattern with all of these “smoking gun” cases was the same. At first, there would be a great press hullaballoo, complete with front-page media profiles and heated straight-to-camera monologues at the tops of cable commentary shows over “Breaking News” chyrons: Freakouts would be long, but months or years later, narratives would collapse. Ambassador Sergei Kislyak was everyone’s favorite suspect in the summer of 2016 for having done everything from rig the Republican convention platform to turning Sessions into a spy, but then Mueller quietly said Kisylak’s interactions with Trump officials in those months were “brief, public, and non-substantive.” Reporters howled that Christopher Steele was right about Cohen meeting Russian hackers in Prague to help rig the 2016 race, and even claimed (see above) that Mueller was about to release evidence of it any minute, until Mueller said flatly, “Cohen… never traveled to Prague.” The saddest case involved Carter Page. Steele’s Dossier identified Page — not Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, or even Donald Trump — as the mastermind of the Wikileaks leak: The aim of leaking the DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks during the Democratic Convention had been to swing supporters of Bernie SANDERS away from Hillary CLINTON and across to TRUMP… This objective had been conceived and promoted, inter alia, by TRUMP’s foreign policy adviser Carter PAGE… Steele also had Page negotiating a massive bribe via the oil company Rosneft in exchange for the dropping of sanctions, and acting as the personal intermediary between Paul Manafort and the Kremlin. Page, not knowing he was being spied upon, told an FBI informant that August that he had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort, even going so far as to complain that Manafort never answered his emails. The FBI sat on this information, and wrote up a secret surveillance warrant application that read: Sub-Source reported that the conspiracy was being managed by Candidate’s then campaign manager, who was using, among others, foreign policy advisor Carter Page as an intermediary… It wasn’t until the report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz came out in December of 2019 that the world found out that the FBI not only “did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page,” but had covered up Page’s history as an informant for the CIA, very much like the Senate and the Treasury are now covering up Kilimnik’s status as a U.S. State Department source. Kilimnik is just the last person on the list, and he’s conveniently in Moscow, unlikely to ever come back here to defend himself. As such, he’s the perfect fall guy for the marooned-Japanese-soldier-type holdouts on Russiagate who think the collusion narrative is still viable. More from Kilimnik: TK: You were described by the Senate Intelligence Committee as a “Russian Intelligence Officer.” Are you one? Konstantin Kilimnik: I have not had any relationship with any intelligence agency. Not with U.S. intelligence, not the Ukrainian, Russian, Zimbabwean, whatever. I’m a consultant who has worked for many years running elections in Ukraine. I just haven’t had any relationship with any intelligence, and haven’t seen any facts proving otherwise. I think the investigation was so politically charged from the beginning, that they just needed to find a Russian body that they could just put as much dirt as possible on. Ultimately, nobody is going to care, because all the Russians are considered to be bad anyhow, they’re all spies. TK: The intelligence community in the U.S. seems unanimous in their conclusion that Russians interfered in the 2016 and 2020 elections. Did they not? Konstantin Kilimnik: I don’t think Russians interfered… I know that runs counter to all the conclusions of the intelligence community and all that country to all the intelligence and press and all that. And maybe there were other efforts, as well. But, I was not involved in any of that. There was a lot of misinformation, just because the public wanted someone, and I just happened to be that person thrown into the mix. If I had Hungarian citizenship or any other citizenship, of course, people would not have given my name. They just needed the Russian connection, and I happened to be that unfortunate Russian connection. TK: The Mueller report claims an IRI employee believed you were “fired from his post because his links to Russian intelligence were too strong.” Others say you were “moonlighting.” Why did you leave the IRI? Konstantin Kilimnik: I was actually moonlighting. It was a funny story. I was looking for ways to move on, because by 2005 I had been at IRI for 10 years. Some time in mid-2004 an old IRI pal, Phil Griffin, reemerged and proposed a well-paying job of going to Ukraine and writing analyses of what was going on during the Orange Revolution, for Manafort. So, I went there after not having been to Ukraine for over 10 years. I was ecstatic about Kiev and got seriously interested in what was going on politically… Manafort, Griffin and I (as a translator) went to Donetsk in, I think, November 2004 to meet some guy I had no previous knowledge of (who turned out to be Rinat Akhmetov’s closest confidant, Borys Kolesnikov). Manafort and he spoke for several days and got convinced that the “Donetsk guys” were not even close to being thugs they had been portrayed by the Western media to be. I went back a couple of times to translate for these meetings, which I thought were not in any conflict with my work at IRI Moscow. Then, the government in Ukraine changed. [Viktor] Yuschenko became the President, Manafort was in negotiations about the contract, and I almost forgot about my short translation jobs. In April 2005, we were at an IRI retreat, and my boss, director of Europe and Eurasia programs Steve Nix got a tip from the new President’s office that “Donetsk thugs” were looking to hire an American consultant, and that a guy who seemed to work at IRI was helping in the process. Steve, who was very pro-Yuschenko, completely freaked out, and accused me of working for criminals. I said that a) I was doing this in my free time, 2) this did not conflict in any way with my job at IRI Russia, and 3) maybe things are not so straightforward in Ukrainian politics, and there are no guys in black and white hats, but mostly gray hats. He disagreed and demanded I resign, which I did. TK: The Senate claims you met Manafort in Spain in 2017. Did you? Konstantin Kilimnik: I have never been to Spain. (laughter)...I have not been there. They can’t prove that. And yet they’ve inserted that. And yet, that’s central to what they’re saying. Europe is specific place in terms of passports and immigration. To cross the border, you have to give your fingerprints, and upon any re-entry too. If I went to Spain, I can guarantee that, first of all, Europe keeps a record of that. They would say that I have crossed the border at a certain time in a certain place. And that would be okay because, again, it’s all tied to the fingerprints. You cannot get into the EU without this. You can’t fake it. So let them prove it. TK: You’ve been accused of obtaining that “sensitive polling data” for Oleg Deripaska. Was that right? Konstantin Kilimnik: No, Deripaska was a Russian businessman. I actually didn’t have any contact with him. There were Ukrainian businessmen and Ukrainian politicians in 2016 who were in opposition, and who were actually under pressure from Petro Poroshenko’s government. Naturally, for them, any change, opening a channel into the U.S. Government, that for them would have been a great thing. So that’s why they were interested in the outcome of the elections. There was no Russian connection whatsoever. If there were, they would have a record of me talking to Deripaska or visiting him.TK: You never had any contact with Deripaska? Konstantin Kilimnik: No, I haven’t met him since, I’m afraid to be exact, but like 2006, I think was the last time I saw him. I was translating for Manafort. But after that, Manafort spoke to him himself, because Deripaska spoke the language by then. And there was no need for me. Part 2 of my interview with Konstantin Kilimnik is coming later this week. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 21:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

Victor Davis Hanson: The Left Got What It Wanted - So Now What?

Victor Davis Hanson: The Left Got What It Wanted - So Now What? Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via, There is no schadenfreude in seeing the Left destroy everything it touches - because its claws tear all of us as well... What was the purpose for the insane opposition of the Left between 2017 and 2021? To usher in a planned nihilism, an incompetent chaos, a honed anarchy to wreck the country in less than a year? Then No sooner had Donald Trump entered office than scores of House Democrats filed motions for impeachment, apparently for thought crimes that he might, some day, in theory, could possibly commit. Foreign Policy published an article by a liberal Obama Administration lawyer outlining all the ways to remove an elected president as soon as possible—including consideration of a military coup.  The FBI and the entrenched bureaucrats at the Justice Department continued their prior failed efforts during the campaign to seed the lies of the fabricated Steele dossier and Fusion GPS. A 22-month-long and $40 million hoax ended with the special counsel himself, a doddering Robert Mueller, swearing under oath that he essentially knew nothing about the dossier or Fusion GPS—the twin catalysts that had prompted his very own investigation.  Fired FBI Director James Comey—a lion on Twitter, and a lamb when under oath—on over 240 occasions testified to the Congress that he either did not know or could not remember, when asked details about the collusion fraud that the philosopher G-man had helped perpetuate.  No one worried about the weaponization of government. So, we went right from the nefarious legacy of John Brennan (who lied under oath to Congress twice), James Clapper (who lied under oath to Congress once), James Comey (who leaked confidential presidential memos), Andrew McCabe (who gave false testimony to federal investigators), Lisa Page (who was fired from the special counsel’s legal team for various unprofessional conduct), Peter Strzok (about whom there is not enough space to detail his transgressions), and the now convicted felon Kevin Clinesmith onto the next round of impeachments.  Two of them followed. Neither was conducted by a special counsel. There was no array of witnesses, no prosecutorial report. Much less were there formal charges of a specific high crime or misdemeanor, or bribery or treason, as specified by the Constitution.  In the end, both farces ended in trials—but not before the Left had established lots of baleful precedents. Impeachment is now simply a tool to embarrass a president in his first term when he has lost the House. A Senate trial could hound an innocent president, even as a private citizen out of office. And a chief justice need not preside over the Senate trial. If and when Joe Biden loses the House, the Left should applaud any attempt to impeach him—given it established the new model of opposition. Of the January 6 debacle, we were not told that it was a riot involving lawbreakers who would be punished. Instead, we were lied to that it was an “armed insurrection,” a “coup,” and “a rebellion” of massive proportions.  Our esteemed retired military and civil libertarians who had damned the mere thought of using federal troops to quell the prior four summer months of continuous rioting were suddenly happy to see 25,000 federal soldiers patrol Washington to hound out fantasy second-wave insurrectionists. In Animal Farm fashion, there were now to be good federal troops deterring mythical violent domestic extremists, but bad federal troops who should never stop real, ongoing mayhem in the streets. It mattered nothing that “armed” in the case of January 6 meant that no firearms were used or even found among the protestors. No one was charged with conspiracy, insurrection, or racketeering. But many were placed in solitary confinement without specific charges being filed—to the utter delight of liberal groups like the ACLU and human rights organizations. The FBI—recently known mostly for spreading Hillary Clinton’s campaign collusion hoax—found no premeditated grand plot. The remaining media narratives were also untrue: Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick was not murdered, but died tragically of a stroke the next day. Five persons were not “killed.” Four who died were Trump supporters. Only one of the five deaths occurred at the hand of a known other—a 14-year military veteran, unarmed, 110-pound female Ashli Babbitt. She was fatally shot while attempting to enter through a window of the Capitol by a law-enforcement officer—to the frequent approbation of the left-wing commentariat. The officer’s name was hidden for months from the public—something conspicuously uncharacteristic in other cases where law enforcement officers are involved in shooting unarmed suspects.  Videos surrounding the entire melee still have been repressed. They likely will never be released. That infamous day remains in dire contrast to the prior 120 days of continuous rioting, looting, and arson. In the election-year summer 2020, federal courthouses and iconic buildings were torched. Nearly $2 billion worth of property was destroyed and 28 were killed.  Yet current Vice President Kamala Harris rallied the public to help bail out the arrested. And the architect of the “1619 Project” reassured Americans that crimes against property like arson and looting are not really violence per se. The weeks of “spontaneous” mayhem magically vanished after November 3, 2020. Note that esteemed medical professionals argued that BLM protestors who flooded the streets were exempt from quarantine, social distancing, and mask requirements, given their higher morality. There are now good riots and bad ones, and noble sustained silence about a noble officer who lethally shoots an unarmed suspect, and noble immediate outing of an ignoble officer who lethally shoots an unarmed suspect. These were merely the main media distortions and fixations over the last four years. We forget the daily craziness such as a president’s calls to foreign heads of state routinely leaked or the FBI director passing on confidential memos of private presidential conversations to the liberal press, or the “whistleblower” who was not a whistleblower as much as a Democratic operative. The media nadir came when the press bellowed that Trump had overfed a fish. An array of retired four-stars damned their president as Hitlerian, Mussolini-like, and deserving an early exit from office. Their superior morality naturally excused them from abiding by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The New York Times falsely identified a minor Trump Administration bureaucrat (“anonymous”) as a major conservative truth-teller—once he thrilled the media by lying that a large, morally superior, inside cabal was devoted to obstructing the implementation of a president’s orders. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to an active FBI lawyer bragged of joining the “Resistance,” with plenty of conspiratorial retro-accusations that the 2016 election was “rigged.” All that was a warm-up for the plague year in which Donald Trump was blamed for every COVID death. His medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci was deified, due largely to his coy opposition to the president he was supposed to serve.  Both the current president and vice president had, less than a year ago, urged Americans not to be vaccinated, given their own reluctance to take a “Trump” vaccine. At least the anti-vaxxers had consistent opposition to the experimental inoculations; in contrast, the anti-Trumper anti-vaxxers merely saw sabotaging the 2020 vaccination program as necessary to be in a position to claim it as their own in 2021. Now What did all that madness achieve? Mostly, the first election in U.S. history in which over 100 million ballots were not cast on Election Day. Strangely, with such an avalanche of ballots, the usual error rate of absentee balloting dived from around 2-4 percent to 0.2-0.4 percent. You see, when we suddenly must count tens of millions more paper ballots then it becomes easier, not harder, to spot errors. So, the Left won its Pyrrhic victory.  The nation was done with the demonized Trump and now the Left controlled the presidency, and both houses of Congress. Somnolent Ol’ Joe Biden from Scranton pledged to heal the nation as he overturned his predecessor’s supposedly disastrous policies and went on a rampage of slandering his opponents. If Donald Trump was once damned as non compos mentis, the same media and academic accusers kept mum as Biden shuffled, fell, went mute, slurred words, and went off on angry, disjointed, and incoherent riffs. What followed was a concerted effort to destroy the Trump record: the greatest level of combined annual natural gas and oil production in any nation’s history, record low minority unemployment and near record peacetime, general unemployment, a border secure and illegal immigration finally under control, and a New Middle East in which Israel and its Arab enemies concluded neutrality pacts. China was put on notice for its past mockery of global norms. Inflation was low, growth was good. “Stagflation” was still a rarely remembered word from the past. And again, what was all that Pavlovian nihilism to achieve?  Within eight months the following was finalized: Joe Biden utterly destroyed the idea of a border. Some 2 million were scheduled to cross illegally in the current fiscal year. The sheer inhumanity of deplorable conditions at the border surpassed any notion of the “cages” Donald Trump, in fact, had inherited from the humanitarian Barack Obama.  A war almost immediately broke out in the Middle East, once Biden distanced the United States from Israel and rebooted the radical Palestinian cause.  The Taliban defeated the 20-year effort of the United States in Afghanistan, in the most humiliating withdrawal of the American military in over 45 years. Tens of billions of dollars of abandoned military equipment now arm the Taliban and have turned Afghanistan into a world arms mart for terrorists. Iran is emboldened and speeds up its nuclear proliferation efforts. China brags that the United States has been Afghanistanized and will not defend its allies, Taiwan in particular.  At home, gas prices have soared. Prior trillion-dollar deficits now seem financially prudent in comparison to multitrillion-dollar red ink. The nation is more racially polarized than at any time in the last half-century. A bleak and venomous woke creed has outdone the hate and fear of the McCarthyism of the 1950s, as it wages war on half the nation for various thought crimes and the incorrect idea that the United States was, is, and always will be a kind and humane place. More will likely have died each day from COVID by year’s end during the Biden first 12 months than during Trump’s last 12 months. That statistic perhaps might have been meaningless had Biden himself not demagogued the idea that a president is strangely responsible for all pandemic deaths on his watch.  But then again, Biden had warped the pandemic narrative only after he had inherited the Trump vaccination program (17 million vaccinated by Inauguration Day). Biden was wrongly and prematurely convinced that vaxxes were a permanent prophylaxis to any sort of COVID variants that would simply disappear once he took office. Depending on the occasion, Biden claims none, or just 4 million, were vaxxed until he took office, as truth and fantasies waft through his cloudy cognition. With Biden came not just woke polarization, stagflation, a subsidized ennui that erodes the work ethic, and selective nonenforcement of existing laws: Worse, still, we got a bankrupt ideological defense of these insanities. Critical legal theory, critical race theory, and a new monetary theory were all dreamed up by parlor academics to justify the nihilism.  Did America ever believe that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would trash his commander in chief as Hitlerian to journalist hitmen, or allegedly denounce news organizations as “terrorists,” or interrupt the chain of command on a prompt by the Speaker of the House, or warn the Chinese military that he believed there was enough instability in the White House to justify a promise to warn of any impending U.S. military action against Beijing deemed offensive? Was General Milley suffering from the very “white rage” he sought to ferret out? With Biden, China is now omnipresent in the halls of power. A task of our chief COVID advisor, Anthony Fauci, seems to be to deny repeatedly that his stealthy funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan virology lab in China had anything to do with the likely accidental release of a likely human engineered and energized coronavirus. Americans still cannot even imagine that their government might have helped subsidize the plague germ that has wrought such havoc upon them. Meanwhile the president’s son still owns a 10 percent cut in a communist Chinese government-affiliated financial venture, apparently due to his prior drug-addled record of financial mismanagement. The media still insists Hunter Biden’s laptop was “Russian disinformation,” while his paint-by-numbers art is auctioned off to foreign lobbyists expecting a return of the old days when Hunter and Joe grandly arrived on Air Force Two to do their bidding.  What did the Left leave as the proper model for conservatives now to deal with Biden?  Impeach him when he loses the House? Get a special counsel, lavish said counsel with $40 million, a dream team of right-wing lawyers, and 22 months to find real Chinese collusion?  Start seeding a conservative version of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and an “anonymous” whistleblower inside the Biden octopus?  Get retired four-star generals on TV to swear Biden is a Chinese “asset,” or have them retweet the idea of sending Biden supporters to China, or swear that he is a fascist? Bring back Woodward and Bernstein to find out whether Biden, Inc. ever paid taxes on all that Chinese and Ukrainian cash?  Call in the ubiquitous Dr. Bandy X. Lee from Yale to administer the Montreal Cognitive Assessment to prove that Biden can distinguish a camel from an elephant or a train from a bike or count backwards from five?  Will the Right prod General Mark Milley’s replacement to collude with soon-to-be Speaker Kevin McCarthy and call the Russians to warn them that Biden is demented, democracy is “messy,” Kamala Harris is crazy, and thus Moscow might need a warning from us about any Biden preemptive aggression? And what of the people who voted for this change and the media that empowered it? In the latest Quinnipiac poll, known for its liberal affinities, Biden now earns a 38 percent approval rating. We should add a few extra negative points given media bias. Do they suffer buyer’s remorse or angst that they were lied to by the hard Left that Joe Biden was cognizant and not a mere vessel for a two-year push for overt socialism? Meanwhile the media is reduced to explaining why an undocumented activist has an understandable right to chase a liberal Democratic senator into a public restroom, hector her, and then video her as she enters a stall to relieve herself and then post the grotesqueness on the internet—a felony in the state of the Arizona, though just part of the “process” for the president of the United States. We could call the above insanity nemesis for woke hubris. Or maybe it is karma, “payback’s a bitch,” or “what goes around comes around.” But there is no schadenfreude in seeing the Left destroy everything it touches—because its claws tear all of us as well. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 20:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

NIH-Backed Study Finds Moderna, Pfizer Boosters Work Best

NIH-Backed Study Finds Moderna, Pfizer Boosters Work Best After months of dithering about the potential safety risks of mixing and matching various approved COVID vaccines, a long-running NIH-sponsored study has found that patients can safely and effectively receive booster shots from any of the major approved vaccines, even as the FDA's vaccine advisory committee has sounded lukewarm about the prospect of approving booster jabs for all adults over the age of 18. According to Bloomberg, the complicated 9-arm trial involved over 450 people and measured the effects from giving a booster shot of the Moderna, Pfizer, BioNTech or J&J vaccines to those who had originally gotten a different vaccine. The data showed that the new jabs increased patients' levels of neutralizing antibodies, sometimes by more than would be expected if they received a third jab of the same vaccine they had received initially. "These data suggest that if a vaccine is approved or authorized as a booster, an immune response will be generated regardless of the primary Covid-19 vaccination regimen," the researchers said in their conclusion. In the abstract from the preprint of the study (which can be found on the researchers claimed they were embarking on this research because of the persistent breakthrough infections that continue to occur in some patients. While "homologous" mRNA booster jabs have received approval in some jurisdictions (Israel, and now the EUA, are now allowing some patients to receive a third dose of whatever initial jab they received) In total, 458 individuals were enrolled: 154 received mRNA-1273 (Moderna), 150 received Ad26.CoV2.S (J&J), and 154 received BNT162b2 (Pfizer) booster vaccines. The study was sponsored and primarily funded by the NIH. Participants were divided into nine groups with roughly 50 volunteers in each. Those who initially got the two-dose Moderna vaccine got either another Moderna shot, a Pfizer shot or a J&J shot as a booster four to six months after their primary immunization. People who got the two-dose Pfizer vaccine got either another Pfizer shot or a Moderna or J&J booster. And people who got the one-shot J&J vaccine, either got another J&J shot, or a Moderna or Pfizer booster. Antibody levels were then measured at two weeks and four weeks after the booster dose. Data showed that homologous boosters increased neutralizing antibodies by 4.2-20-fold while heterologous boosters created an increase of 6.2-76-fold. The conclusion: Conclusion: "Homologous and heterologous booster vaccinations were well-tolerated and immunogenic in adults who completed a primary Covid-19 vaccine regimen at least 12 weeks earlier." Notably, the study found that for patients who initially received the J&J jab, switching to an mRNA jab (Pfizer's or Moderna') for the booster dose might afford them better protection. Regardless of the initial jab, Pfizer and Moderna boosters appeared to work best. More detail about the study are expected Friday afternoon during a meeting of an FDA advisory panel, where researchers conducting the trial are scheduled to give a presentation on their early findings. A panel will also meet Thursday to deliberate over Moderna's application for booster-jab approval. Find the full pre-print below: 2021.10.10.21264827v1.full by Joseph Adinolfi Jr. on Scribd Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 21:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

Scientists gave J&J vaccine recipients different booster shots in a highly anticipated trial, and found they got a much better immune response with Moderna and Pfizer

A J&J booster gave a 4-fold jump in antibodies, but those who got Moderna or Pfizer boosters in the mix-and-match trial saw up to 76-fold increases. A vial of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen's) Covid-19 vaccine. Eduardo Sanz/Europa Press via Getty Images People who got the J&J vaccine may get a better immune response from a Moderna or Pfizer booster, a major new study suggests. J&J recipients generated far more antibodies after a Moderna or Pfizer shot, instead of a second J&J jab. However, higher levels of antibodies do not necessarily mean a person is more protected from the coronavirus. The first US study to mix and match boosters of Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 shots is out, and it looks like you can boost any US-authorized vaccination with any other vaccine safely - though boosting J&J with Moderna or Pfizer may prompt a stronger immune response, at least initially.The new study, funded by the US National Institutes of Health, showed first and foremost that mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines is a perfectly safe thing to do. "What the study shows is that regardless of what an individual received originally, getting boosted with one of the three vaccines that we evaluated, the one from Moderna, the one from Janssen, the one from Pfizer, led to good antibody responses in each of the groups," lead study author Dr. Robert Atmar from Baylor College of Medicine told Insider, shortly after his new data was released on Wednesday. The mix-and-match study enrolled 458 people from 10 different medical centers across the US who were each fully vaccinated with Moderna's, Pfizer's, or J&J's [Janssen] vaccine. Volunteers then got boosted with one of those three shots, yielding nine different mix and match combinations. Researchers tested the blood of those volunteers periodically throughout the next month, comparing their levels of virus-fighting proteins called neutralizing antibodies. The study provides some of the clearest evidence yet that all the booster shots - Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J - increase antibody levels, but that a booster from Moderna's or Pfizer's vaccine yields a stronger response than another J&J jab. (It's similar to what researchers in Europe have found boosting AstraZeneca's vaccine with Pfizer.)People who got their first shots from J&J saw the strongest responses from Pfizer or Moderna boostsThe clearest improvement in neutralizing antibody responses - which are an imperfect, but easy-to-test proxy for measuring initial vaccine-induced immunity - came from people who initially got J&J's vaccine.In this group, a J&J booster shot raised neutralizing antibody levels by 4.2-fold on average. But J&J recipients who got a Moderna shot instead saw a 76-fold increase in antibodies, and a Pfizer booster yielded a 35-fold jump. The differences between these groups were statistically meaningful, meaning it's highly unlikely they are a product of chance. Chanei Henry, senior research coordinator of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, prepares a COVID-19 vaccine during the mix and match trial. Baylor College of Medicine The researchers warn that with only roughly 50 people in each group, this study is too small to fairly compare different vaccine booster combinations side by side, and the trial's limited follow-up time (of just one month) doesn't tell us how durable each booster's protection may be in the long run. Atmar cautioned that this study was "not designed to really make comparisons between different groups," but instead "to provide data rapidly for public health decisions."Still, he acknowledged, "the natural thing" people do "is to want to make comparisons." And the tables show stark differences: Heterologous SARS-CoV-2 Booster Vaccinations - Preliminary Report The same trends above held true for neutralizing antibody titers, a more durable (though still not perfect) picture of vaccine-induced immunity. Heterologous SARS-CoV-2 Booster Vaccinations - Preliminary Report Antibodies are not everything when it comes to immunityAtmar cautioned that this does not mean we all need mRNA boosters. "I don't think we're going to want to end up boosting people every six months," he said. While antibodies are a key part of the body's initial immune response, there are other long-term components of immune memory, like the cellular immune response, which weren't measured in this study. As far as side effects are concerned, by far the most common complaint post-booster was some mild arm pain, which more than 70% of patients in all mix and match groups experienced.Health regulators will vote on boosters this week and nextThe highly-anticipated study is some of the most compelling research on the safety and immunogenicity of boosters. And it comes at a critical time, too: An FDA expert panel will meet Thursday and Friday to discuss Moderna and J&J boosters, while a CDC panel convenes on the same issue next week. (Third doses of Pfizer were OK'd by both last month.) J&J's booster shot application has already fallen under FDA scrutiny, with the agency's scientists highlighting a lack of robust clinical trial results supporting a booster at six months.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 13th, 2021

Satellite photos show more construction at military base where US has "serious concerns" about China"s presence

Cambodia has said little about what happening at the base, worrying the US, which suspects it may be preparations for a Chinese military presence. Cambodian navy personnel on a jetty at Ream naval base during a government-led media tour, July 26, 2019. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP via Getty Images Cambodia appears to have continued construction at its Ream naval base in August and September. The work worries the US government, which suspects it may be preparation for China's military to use the base. Cambodia's government has said little about the intent of the work, reflecting frustration with US policy there. Cambodia continued construction work at its Ream naval base in August and September, advancing projects that the US suspects could support a Chinese military presence in a strategically valuable corner of Southeast Asia.Satellite photos taken by Maxar and Planet Labs and published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative show that two new buildings were built on the north end of the base between August 9 and 22. The coast alongside the buildings was also cleared of vegetation. Two new buildings constructed at Ream, seen on October 3, 2021. CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Maxar In late August, workers began building a road from the base's southeast gate to the area on the coast where the new buildings are located.August also saw Cambodia begin clearing a path branching off the new roadway toward area that was cleared and surrounded by a fence in 2019. It's unclear what that fenced-in area will be used for, according to the AMTI, which is part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. New road clearing at Ream Naval Base, seen on October 3, 2021. CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Maxar Work on the new road was ongoing as of early October and appears to be headed toward a new building on the coast.A line of trees was cleared before construction of that building, which at 40 feet by 26 feet is smaller than the other new buildings. New construction at Ream Naval Base, seen on October 3, 2021. CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Maxar South of that new building, another line of trees on the coast has been cleared and a new channel has been dug.That work took place near the former site of the Tactical Headquarters of the National Committee for Maritime Security, a US-funded building that was officially opened in 2012 and unexpectedly demolished in September 2020.Another US-funded building nearby, the Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat maintenance facility, completed in 2017, was torn down in October 2020. New construction at Ream Naval Base, seen on October 3, 2021. CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Maxar The demolition and construction have stoked concerns about a 2019 report of a secret deal with China allowing Beijing to station military personnel, store weapons, and dock warships at Ream.Cambodian officials admit China is backing work at the base, including dredging to make the port deeper, but say there is no such deal and that China won't have a military presence there.The two buildings built in August are next to two buildings built between April and May, which were finished days before Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman arrived on an official visit.While there, Sherman "expressed serious concerns" about China's "military presence and construction of facilities" at the base.After the visit, a State Department spokesperson told Insider there was "substantial open-source evidence" that China is working on "a major renovation project" at Ream, "which credible reports suggest will include an area under the exclusive control" of China's military.The lack of transparency, shifting explanations, and rapid construction "fuel suspicions that the upgrades there are intended for China's benefit as much as Cambodia's," ATMI said earlier this year. The US-built Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat Ramp and Boat Maintenance Facility at Ream Naval Base in July 2017. Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific/Facebook The situation at Ream reflects Cambodian frustration with the US.Washington has emphasized values such as human rights in its dealings with Phnom Penh, in contrast to its embrace of Vietnam and Thailand, where US strategic interests appear to outweigh those values, according to Charles Dunst, an associate with Eurasia Group's Global Macro practice.This has "alienated" Prime Minister Hun Sen, who once partnered with the US on counterterrorism and other issues "but resents being treated differently than his neighbors," Dunst told Insider.China has offered Sen, in power since 1985, strong political support and extensive aid and investment; some observers have described Sen as an authoritarian in the one-party state. In return, "China gets economic access to the country, political backing ... and, increasingly, military cooperation, as evinced by Chinese construction and potential control over Ream," Dunst said.The State Department did not immediately respond on Wednesday when asked about the latest construction, but a US embassy spokesman there said Cambodia "has not been fully transparent about the intent, nature, and scope of this project" or about the involvement of China's military."The Cambodian people deserve to know more about the project at Ream and to have a say in this type of military agreement," the spokesman said. Cambodian naval personnel with journalists during a government-led media tour of the Ream naval base, July 26, 2019. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP via Getty Images A military outpost in Cambodia wouldn't give Beijing new power-projection capabilities in the South China Sea, and the maritime geography around Ream likely limits what kind of naval forces can operate there.But military access to Ream or nearby sites could allow China to project power, especially air power, into the Gulf of Thailand and waterways connecting the South China Sea and Indian Ocean in ways it hasn't been able to before.Such access would also add to China's "military presence in the Parcel and Spratly Islands to draw a perimeter around mainland Southeast Asia," which could allow Beijing to counter US efforts to reach Taiwan with support in a crisis, Dunst said."Cambodia, once singled out as a strategically unimportant country that Washington could target with a values-based foreign policy, has become strategically important once again," Dunst told Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 13th, 2021