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ICE fast-tracked the release of immigrants "on their deathbeds" so that they wouldn"t die under the agency"s watch, per internal emails obtained by LA Times

Per the Los Angeles Times, the 16,000 documents it obtained highlight a pattern of ICE shifting responsibility for immigrants who are deathly ill. A meal for an ICE detainee at the Adelanto Immigration Detention Center, in Adelanto, California.Lucy Nicholson/Reuters Internal emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times showed ICE rushing to release deathly ill detainees. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the ACLU claims that ICE has repeatedly served parole papers at hospitals. The ACLU claims that the practice means that the agency is avoiding realistic detainee death numbers. Over the last few years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have released ill immigrant detainees days before their eventual deaths, according to internal emails newly obtained by the Los Angeles Times.The American Civil Liberties Union also filed a sweeping lawsuit in 2021 on behalf of the families of immigrants detained by ICE who claim their relatives had rushed releases due to illness.The 16,000 documents obtained by the LA Times are part of the outlet's ongoing public records lawsuit against the agency. The outlet says the documents highlight a pattern of the agency skirting responsibility for immigrants in poor health housed in government facilities as well as contracted facilities.Johana Medina Leon, a transgender immigrant and nurse technician from El Salvador, was initially held in the Otero County Processing Center in New Mexico and her health plummeted a month after being detained, according to the LA Times report.Medina Leon had marked her requests for help as "urgent," per the LA Times.It took close to six weeks for Medina Leon to get access to medical care to treat what was later revealed as sepsis in an autopsy. When Leon finally had access to a doctor, she was discharged from the facility in less than six hours, emails showed.According to the LA Times, on May 28, 2019, ICE's field medical coordinator gave the go-ahead to release the sick inmate. "If this detainee were to become further seriously ill there is a potential for a poor outcome," the official said in the email obtained by the LA Times. A second official chimed in, per the report, that her "vitals do not look good."According to the report, Medina Leon was presented with her parole paperwork at the El Paso hospital that she was rushed to, and in the internal investigation into her death, an ICE agent noted that he had never released a detainee at a hospital.By that evening, she was officially no longer in ICE custody, according to the emails. On June 1, Medina Leon died at the hospital. Management and Training Corporation, the private prison group which operates the Otero facility, told Insider in an email that "MTC follows federal HIPPA patient privacy laws and does not comment on specific medical cases.""We take the medical care of detainees very seriously," the company added. "We adhere to ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) including ensuring detainees have access to appropriate and necessary medical, dental, and mental health care, including emergency services. We further follow PBNDS standards for the prevention, screening, and treatment of infectious diseases."According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of Medina Leon and three other detainees, Medina Leon's rushed release was not the first time the agency rushed to release critically ill detainees so as to not inflate their deaths in detention figures.At the time of Medina Leon's death, ICE said they took detainee health seriously and that her death was "another unfortunate example of an alien who enters the United States with an untreated, un-screened medical condition."ICE did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. ICE told the LA Times that the agency "takes very seriously the health, safety, and welfare of those in our care, including those who come into ICE custody with prior medical conditions or who have never before received appropriate medical evaluation or care."In 2019, the year Leon died outside of ICE care, the agency reported nine deaths.According to the agency's public data, ICE reported 18 deaths in detention in 2020, and five the following year. In 2022, the agency claims that there have been no deaths in their facilities while factoring in the thousands of detainees under their watch and with consistent COVID-19 outbreaks in facilities.The ACLU's lawsuit is seeking records about detainees in poor health who the ACLU believes may have had rushed releases, and is interrogating why the agency is "choosing to release people from custody who are on their deathbeds while they're hospitalized," ACLU attorney Eunice Cho told LA Times.The ACLU did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.The class-action suit claimed that Martin Vargas Arellano, a 55-year-old booked in Adelanto, California, in 2020, alerted officials about his "diabetes, hypertension, gout, and hepatitis C," asking for a release because he was immunocompromised and worried about COVID-19.According to the lawsuit, he contracted COVID-19 in March 2021 and had a stroke at the detention facility. He was then transferred to a local hospital, still in ICE custody. Three days before he died in the hospital, ICE served him his release papers. Arellano was also not counted in ICE's deaths in detention for the year and the agency did not notify his family or attorney of his death, according to LA Times. His family and attorney learned of his death after reaching out to the coroner's office and filing a missing person's report.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 13th, 2022

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations, Six years ago, before Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country, the Ukrainians bet that a Hillary Clinton presidency would offer better protection from Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though he had invaded Crimea during the Obama-Biden administration, whose Russian policies Clinton vowed to continue. Working with both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign, Ukrainian government officials intervened in the 2016 race to help Clinton and hurt  Donald Trump in a sweeping and systematic foreign influence operation that's been largely ignored by the press. The improper, if not illegal, operation was run chiefly out of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, where officials worked hand-in-glove with a Ukrainian-American activist and Clinton campaign operative to attack the Trump campaign. The Obama White House was also deeply involved in an effort to groom their own favored leader in Ukraine and then work with his government to dig up dirt on – and even investigate -- their political rival. Ukrainian and Democratic operatives also huddled with American journalists to spread damaging information on Trump and his advisers – including allegations of illicit Russian-tied payments that, though later proved false, forced the resignation of his campaign manager Paul Manafort. The embassy actually weighed a plan to get Congress to investigate Manafort and Trump and stage hearings in the run-up to the election. As it worked behind the scenes to undermine Trump, Ukraine also tried to kneecap him publicly. Ukraine's ambassador took the extraordinary step of attacking Trump in an Op-Ed article published in The Hill, an influential U.S. Capitol newspaper, while other top Ukrainian officials slammed the GOP candidate on social media. Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. attacked Trump in an Op-Ed weeks before the 2016 election. At first glance, it was a bad bet as Trump upset Clinton. But by the end of his first year in office, Trump had supplied Ukrainians what the Obama administration refused to give them: tank-busting Javelin missiles and other lethal weapons to defend themselves against Russian incursions. Putin never invaded on Trump's watch. Instead, he launched an all-out invasion during another Democratic administration – one now led by President Biden, Barack Obama's former Vice President, whose Secretary of State last year alarmed Putin by testifying, “We support Ukraine's membership in NATO.” Biden boasted he’d go “toe to toe” with Putin, but that didn't happen as the autocrat amassed tanks along Ukraine’s border in response to the NATO overtures. The Ukrainian mischief is part of Special Counsel John Durham’s broader inquiry – now a full-blown criminal investigation with grand jury indictments – into efforts to falsely target Trump as a Kremlin conspirator in 2016 and beyond. Sources say Durham has interviewed several Ukrainians, but it’s not likely the public will find out exactly what he's learned about the extent of Ukraine’s meddling in the election until he releases his final report, which sources say could be several months away. In the meantime, a comprehensive account of documented Ukrainian collusion – including efforts to assist the FBI in its 2016 probe of Manafort – is pieced together here for the first time. It draws from an archive of previously unreported records generated from a secret Federal Election Commission investigation of the Democratic National Committee that includes never-before-reviewed sworn affidavits, depositions, contracts, emails, text messages, legal findings and other documents from the case. RealClearInvestigations also examined diplomatic call transcripts, White House visitor logs, lobbying disclosure forms, congressional reports and closed-door congressional testimony, as well as information revealed by Ukrainian and Democratic officials in social media postings, podcasts and books. 2014: Prelude to Collusion U.S. envoys Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt helped bring to power Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, right. (AP) The coordination between Ukrainian and Democratic officials can be traced back at least to January 2014. It was then when top Obama diplomats – many of whom now hold top posts in the Biden administration – began engineering regime change in Kiev, eventually installing a Ukrainian leader they could control. On Jan. 27, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt phoned Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at her home in Washington to discuss picking opposition leaders to check the power of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom they believed was too cozy with Putin. “We’ve got to do something to make it stick together,” Pyatt said of a planned coalition government, adding that they needed “somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing.” Nuland responded that Biden’s security adviser Jake Sullivan had just told her that the vice president – who was acting as Obama’s point man in Ukraine – would give his blessing to the deal. “Biden’s willing,” she said. But they agreed they had to “move fast” and bypass the European Union. “Fuck the EU,” Nuland told the ambassador, according to a leaked transcript of their call. Hunter Biden: His father helped engineer the rise of an amenable Ukrainian leader who would later fire a prosecutor investigating the son.   Nuland’s role in the political maneuvering was not limited to phone calls. She traveled to Kiev and helped organize street demonstrations against Yanukovych, even handing out sandwiches to protesters. In effect, Obama officials greased a revolution. Within months, Yanukovych was exiled and replaced by Petro Poroshenko, who would later do Biden’s bidding – including firing a prosecutor investigating his son Hunter. Poroshenko would also later support Clinton's White House bid after Biden decided not to run, citing the death of his older son Beau. The U.S. meddling resulted in the installation of an anti-Putin government next door to Russia. A furious Putin viewed the interference as an attempted coup and soon marched into Crimea. Nuland is now Biden’s undersecretary of state and Sullivan serves as his national security adviser. Whispering in their ear at the time was a fiery pro-Ukraine activist and old Clinton hand, Alexandra “Ali” Chalupa. A daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Chalupa informally advised the State Department and White House in early 2014. She organized multiple meetings between Ukraine experts and the National Security Council to push for Yanukovych’s ouster and economic sanctions against Putin. In the NSC briefings, Chalupa also agitated against longtime attorney-lobbyist Manafort, who at the time was an American consultant for Yanukovych's Party of Regions, which she viewed as a cat’s paw of Putin. She warned that Manafort worked for Putin’s interests and posed a national security threat. At the same time, Chalupa worked closely with then-Vice President Biden’s team, setting up conference calls with his staff and Ukrainians. Another influential adviser at the time was former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who provided Nuland with written reports on the Ukrainian crisis and Russia that echoed Chalupa’s warnings. Nuland treated them as classified intelligence, and between the spring of 2014 and early 2016, she received some 120 reports on Ukraine and Russia from Steele. 2015: The Move Against Manafort Commences Paul Manafort: Targeted by Chalupa over work for the ousted Ukrainian president and ties to Trump. (AP) In April 2015, the DNC hired Chalupa as a $5,000-a-month consultant, according to a copy of her contract, which ran through the 2016 election cycle. (Years earlier, Chalupa had worked full-time for the DNC as part of the senior leadership team advising Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.) After Trump threw his hat in the ring in June 2015, Chalupa grew concerned that Manafort was or would be involved with his campaign since Manafort had known Trump for decades and lived in Trump Tower. She expressed her concerns to top DNC officials and “the DNC asked me to do a hit on Trump,” according to a transcript of a 2019 interview on her sister’s podcast. (Andrea Chalupa, who describes herself as a journalist, boasted in a November 2016 tweet: “My sister led Trump/Russia research at DNC.”) Chalupa began encouraging journalists both in America and Ukraine to dig into Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine and expose his alleged Russian connections. She fed unsubstantiated rumors, tips and leads to the Washington Post and New York Times, as well as CNN, speaking to reporters on background so a DNC operative wouldn’t be sourced. “I spent many, many hours working with reporters on background, directing them to contacts and sources, and giving them information,” Chalupa said. But no reporter worked closer with her than Yahoo News correspondent Michael Isikoff. He even accompanied her to the Ukrainian Embassy, where they brainstormed attacks on Manafort and Trump, according to FEC case files. Chalupa was also sounding alarm bells in the White House. In November 2015, for example, she set up a White House meeting between a Ukrainian delegation including Ukraine Ambassador Valeriy Chaly and NSC advisers – among them Eric Ciaramella, a young CIA analyst on loan to the White House who later would play a significant role as anonymous "whistleblower" in Trump’s first impeachment. In addition to Putin’s aggression, the group discussed the alleged security threat from Manafort. Chalupa was back in the White House in December. All told, she would visit the Obama White House at least 27 times, Secret Service logs show, including attending at least one event with the president in 2016. Eric Ciaramella (middle right) across from Ukrainians in a June 2015 meeting at the White House, flanked by Biden security adviser Michael Carpenter and Ciaramella's NSC colleague Liz Zentos. (unknownukraine.com) January 2016: High-Level Meetings With Ukrainians in the White House On Jan. 12, 2016 – almost a month before the first GOP primary – Chalupa told top DNC official Lindsey Reynolds she was seeing strong indications that Putin was trying to steal the 2016 election for Trump. Emails also show that she promised to lead an effort to expose Manafort – whom Trump would not officially hire as his campaign chairman until May – and link him and Trump to the Russian government. That same day, Chalupa visited the White House. A week later, Obama officials gathered with Ukrainian officials traveling from Kiev in the White House for a series of senior-level meetings to, among other things, discuss reviving a long-closed investigation into payments to American consultants working for the Party of Regions, according to Senate documents. The FBI had investigated Manafort in 2014 but no charges resulted. One of the attendees, Ukrainian Embassy political officer Andrii Telizhenko, recalled Justice Department officials asking investigators with Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or NABU, if they could help find fresh evidence of party payments to such U.S. figures. (Three years later, Democrats would impeach Trump for allegedly asking Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, Joe Biden.) The Obama administration’s enforcement agencies leaned on their Ukrainian counterparts to investigate Manafort, shifting resources from an investigation of a corrupt Ukrainian energy oligarch who paid Biden’s son hundreds of thousands of dollars through his gas company, Burisma. “Obama’s NSC hosted Ukrainian officials and told them to stop investigating Hunter Biden and start investigating Paul Manafort,” said a former senior NSC official who has seen notes and emails generated from the meetings and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Suddenly, the FBI reopened its Manafort investigation. “In January 2016, the FBI initiated a money laundering and tax evasion investigation of Manafort predicated on his activities as a political consultant to members of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian politicians,” according to a report by the Justice Department’s watchdog. The White House summit with Ukrainian officials ran for three days, ending on Jan. 21, according to a copy of the agenda stamped with the Justice Department logo. It was organized and hosted by Ciaramella and his colleague Liz Zentos from the NSC. Other U.S. officials included Justice prosecutors and FBI agents, as well as State Department diplomats. The Ukrainian delegation included Artem Sytnyk, the head of NABU, and other Ukrainian prosecutors. Ciaramella was a CIA detailee to the White House occupying the NSC’s Ukraine desk in 2015 and 2016. In that role, Ciaramella met face-to-face with top Ukrainian officials and provided policy advice to Biden through the then-vice president's security adviser Michael Carpenter. He also worked with Nuland and Chalupa.Ciaramella was carried over to the Trump White House. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, he would later anonymously blow the whistle on Trump asking Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to help “get to the bottom of” Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election, a phone call that triggered Trump’s first impeachment by a Democrat-controlled House. Ciaramella’s former NSC colleague Alexander Vindman leaked the call to him. Vindman, a Ukrainian-American, is also aligned with Chalupa. (Vindman is now back in the news for his demands that the United States provide more active military support to Ukraine and his insistence that Trump shares great blame for the war.) As Manafort drew closer to Trump, Obama officials zeroed in, and the FBI reopened a closed 2014 probe. (Justice Department Office of the Inspector General) February 2016: Obama White House-Ukraine Coordination Intensifies On Feb. 2, two weeks after the White House meetings, Secret Service logs reveal that Ciaramella met in the White House with officials from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, which would later provide the FBI highly sensitive bank records on Manafort. (In addition, a senior FinCEN adviser illegally leaked thousands of the confidential Manafort records to the media.) On Feb. 9, less than a month after the White House summit, Telizhenko, who worked for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with Zentos of the NSC at a Cosi sandwich shop in Washington, according to emails obtained by the Senate. It's not known what they discussed. In addition, on Feb. 23, the two emailed about setting up another meeting the following day. “OK if I bring my colleague Eric, who works on Ukraine with me?” Zentos asked Telizhenko, apparently referring to Ciaramella. In the emails, they discussed the U.S. primary elections, among other things. NSC's Zentos and Ukraine's Telizhenko would meet and correspond numerous times during 2016. (HSGAC-Finance Committee Hunter Biden Report) Telizhenko would later testify that Ambassador Chaly had ordered him then to “start an investigation [into the Trump campaign] within the embassy just on my own to find out with my contacts if there’s any Russian connection that we can report back.” He suspects the Ambassador delivered that report to Chalupa and the DNC. Chalupa visited the White House on Feb. 22, entrance records show, just days before the second meeting Telizhenko had planned with Zentos. March 2016: Chalupa Engineers Manafort Messaging Assault With Ukrainians After Manafort was named Trump campaign chair, the campaign against him went into overdrive. New York Times On March 3, Zentos and Telizhenko planned to meet again, this time at a Washington bar called The Exchange. According to their email, Zentos wrote, “I’ll see if my colleague Eric is up for joining.” The pair also met the next day at Swing’s coffee house in Washington. After the meeting, Telizhenko emailed Zentos seeking a meeting with senior Obama NSC official Charlie Kupchan, an old Clinton hand who was Ciaramella’s boss on the Russia/Ukraine desk. Kupchan is an outspoken critic of Trump who has made remarks suggesting what countries “can do to stop him” and “protect the international institutions we’ve built .” Zentos and Telizhenko also met on March 10, patronizing the Cosi coffee shop again. On March 24, 2016, four days before the Trump campaign announced that it had hired Manafort, Chalupa met at the Ukrainian Embassy with Ambassador Chaly and his political counselor Oksana Shulyar, where they shared their concerns about Manafort, according to Politico. When news broke on March 28 that Manafort was joining the Trump campaign, Chalupa could hardly contain herself. “This is huge,” she texted senior DNC officials. “This is everything to take out Trump.” She immediately began circulating anti-Manafort memos, warning the DNC of the “threat” he posed of Russian influence. The next day, March 29, she briefed the DNC communications team about Manafort. They, in turn, hatched a plan to reach out to the Ukrainian Embassy to get President Porochenko to make an on-camera denouncement of Manafort and feed the footage to ABC News, where former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos works as a top anchor. On March 30, Chalupa fired off an email to Shulyar, her contact at the Ukrainian Embassy: "There is a very good chance that President Poroshenko may receive a question from the press during his visit about the recent New York Times article saying that Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort as an adviser to his campaign and whether President Poroshenko is concerned about this considering Trump is the likely Republican nominee and given Paul Manafort’s meddling in Ukraine over the past couple of decades,” Chalupa wrote. "It is important President Poroshenko is prepared to address this question should it come up. In a manner that exposes Paul Manafort for the problems he continues to cause Ukraine." Within minutes of sending the email, Chalupa wrote the DNC’s communications director Luis Miranda, “The ambassador has the messaging.” Then she reached out to a friend in Congress, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, about holding hearings to paint Manafort as a pro-Kremlin villain. April 2016: Chalupa Solicits Ukrainian Dirt on Trump, His Campaign, and Manafort Though accounts differ, Chalupa discussed Trump dirt with Ukrainian representatives. Federal Election Commission American presidential campaigns aren't supposed to work with foreign governments to dig up dirt on their political opponents. Geneva Convention rules bar diplomats from becoming entangled in their host country’s political affairs, particularly elections. There are also federal laws banning foreign nationals from engaging in operations to influence or interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes. In 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government for that purpose. But just weeks after Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign, the Ukrainian Embassy appeared to be working with the Clinton campaign to torpedo him and the campaign. Emails reveal that Chalupa and Shulyar, a top aide to Ambassador Chaly, agreed to meet for coffee on April 7, 2016, at Kafe Leopold, a restaurant near the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington. (Chalupa had paid a visit to the White House just three days earlier.) One of the purposes of the meeting, according to FEC case files, was to discuss Manafort and the danger he allegedly posed. They were joined at the café by Telizhenko, who said he was working on a “big story” on Manafort and Trump with the Wall Street Journal. In a sworn 2019 deposition taken by the FEC, Telizhenko alleged that Chalupa solicited “dirt” on Trump, Manafort, and the Trump campaign during the meeting. Telizhenko also testified that Chalupa told him that her goal was “basically [to] use this information and have a committee hearing under Marcy Kaptur, congresswoman from Ohio, in Congress in September and take him off the elections." Telizhenko later approached Ambassador Chaly about the DNC representative's overtures and he responded: “Yes. And I know that this is happening. You should work with her." After speaking with Chaly, Telizhenko claims that he went back to Shulyar who instructed him to help Chalupa. “I went to Oksana and said, ‘Like what are we doing?’” he testified. " And she told me, ‘You have to work with Chalupa. And any information you have, you give it to me, I’ll give it to her, then we’ll pass it on later to anybody else we are coordinating with.’” Less than a week later, on April 13, Telizhenko met again with White House official Zentos, email records reveal. Telizhenko said he resigned the next month because of concerns regarding his embassy’s work with Chalupa and the Clinton team. In her sworn account of the meeting, Chalupa acknowledged discussing Manafort and the “national security problem” he allegedly presented, but denied asking the embassy for help researching him. She allowed that she “could have mentioned the congressional investigation … that I had talked to Marcy Kaptur,” but maintained she couldn't recall trying to enlist the embassy in the effort. Shulyar, however, clearly recalls that Chalupa sought the embassy’s help warning the public about Manafort – including pitching stories to the press and lobbying Congress, according to a 2020 written statement to the FEC. An “idea floated by Alexandra Chalupa was that we approach a co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus to initiate a congressional hearing on Paul Manafort,” Shulyar said, though she denied the embassy acted on the idea. Around the same time, two Ukrainian lawmakers – Olga Bielkova and Pavlo Rizanenko – visited the U.S. and met with journalists, as well as a former State Department official with close ties to Sen. John McCain – David Kramer of the McCain Institute. Kramer would later leak the entire Steele dossier to the media. The meeting was arranged by major Clinton Foundation donor Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch who lobbied Clinton when she was Obama’s secretary of state. Bielkova was also connected to the Clinton Foundation, having once managed a Clinton Global Initiative program for Ukrainian college students. While Clinton was at Foggy Bottom from 2009 to 2013, Ukrainians gave more money – at least $10 million, including more than $8 million from Pinchuk – to the Clinton Foundation than any other nationality including Saudi Arabians. Pinchuk's donation was a down payment on an astounding $29 million pledge. On April 12, 2016, Bielkova also attended a meeting with Ciaramella and his NSC colleague Zentos, head of the Eastern Europe desk, according to lobbying disclosure records. In late April, Chalupa helped organize a Ukrainian-American protest against Manafort in his Connecticut hometown. Activists shouted for Trump to fire Manafort, whom they called “Putin’s Trojan Horse,” while holding signs that read: “Shame on Putin, Shame on Manafort, Shame on Trump” and “Putin, Hands Off the U.S. Election.” Chalupa also organized social media campaigns against Manafort and Trump, including one that encouraged activists to share the Twitter hashtags: “#TrumpPutin” and "#Treasonous Trump." Also that month, Chalupa reached out to Yahoo News reporter Isikoff to pitch a hit piece on Manafort. She connected him with a delegation of Ukrainian journalists visiting D.C. Isikoff would later be used by Steele to spread falsehoods from his dossier. May-June 2016: Manafort Dirt Spreads In a May 3 email, Chalupa alerted DNC communications director Luis Miranda and DNC opposition research director Lauren Dillion that there was “a lot more [dirt on Manafort] coming down the pipe[sic].” Chalupa told them the dirt has “a big Trump component” and would “hit in the next few weeks.” It’s not clear if she was referring to the notorious "black ledger” smear against Manafort, who was promoted to campaign chairman on May 19, but a story about it was brewing at the time. On May 30, Nellie Ohr, an opposition researcher for the Clinton-retained firm Fusion GPS, emailed her husband, Bruce Ohr, a top official at the Justice Department who would become a prime disseminator of the Steele dossier within the government, and two federal prosecutors to alert them to an article indicating NABU had suddenly discovered documents allegedly showing Manafort receiving illicit payments. Amid the flurry of anti-Manafort activity, Zentos met again with Telizhenko on May 4, records show. And Chalupa visited the White House for a meeting on May 13. Chalupa paid another visit to the White House on June 14, Secret Service logs show. On June 17, Ciaramella held a White House meeting with Nuland and Pyatt of the State Department to discuss undisclosed Ukrainian matters. In late June, the FBI signed an evidence-sharing agreement with NABU, less than two months before the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency released what it claimed was explosive new evidence on Manafort. July 2016: Ukrainian Officials Attack Trump Publicly Chalupa continued to pow-wow with the Ukrainian Embassy and got so cozy with officials there that they offered her a position, which she declined, as an “embedded consultant” in the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That same month, high-ranking Ukrainian officials openly insulted Trump on social media in an unusual departure from normal diplomacy. For instance, Ukraine Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov tweeted that Trump was a “clown” who was “an even bigger danger to the U.S. than terrorism.” In another July post, he called Trump “dangerous for Ukraine.” And on Facebook, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk warned that Trump had “challenged the very values of the free world." (After Trump upset Clinton, Avakov and other officials tried to delete their statements from their social network accounts, saying that they had been wrong and had rushed to conclusions.) “It was clear that they were supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy,” Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Artemenko told Politico. “They did everything from organizing meetings with the Clinton team to publicly supporting her to criticizing Trump." While attending the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Chalupa spread the scurrilous rumor that Manafort was the mastermind behind the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and that he “stole" her and other Democrats’ emails. She later told her sister’s podcast that she had reported her conspiracy theory to the FBI, eventually sitting down and meeting with agents in September to spin her tale of supposed espionage (the Senate has asked the FBI for copies of her interview summaries, known as FD-302s). Chalupa also prepared a report for the FBI, as well as members of Congress, detailing her Russiagate conspiracy theories, which Mueller later found no evidence to support. In addition, Chalupa helped spread a false narrative that Trump removed a reference to providing arms to Kiev from the Republican platform at the party's convention earlier that month. Internal platform committee documents show the Ukraine plank could not have been weakened as claimed, because the “lethal” weapons language had never been part of the GOP platform. The final language actually strengthened the platform by pledging direct assistance not just to the country of Ukraine, but to its military in its struggle against Russian-backed forces. August-September 2016: The Phony Manafort Ledger Leaks  A page released by Ukrainian authorities from the fake Manafort ledger. New York Times/NABU In another attempt to influence the 2016 election, Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko leaked to the U.S. media what he claimed was evidence of a secret handwritten ledger showing Manafort had received millions in cash from Yanukovych’s party under the table. He claimed that 22 pages of the alleged ledger, which contained line items written by hand, had mysteriously appeared in his parliament mailbox earlier that year. Leshchenko would not identify the sender. A fuller copy of the same document showed up later on the doorstep of a Ukrainian intelligence official who passed it to NABU, which shared it with FBI agents stationed in Kiev. Leshchenko and NABU officials held press conferences declaring the document was “proof" of Manafort corruption and demanding he be “interrogated.” The Clinton campaign seized on the story. In an Aug. 14 statement, campaign manager Robby Mook stated: “We have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine.” He demanded Trump "disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort's and all other campaign employees' and advisers' ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities." But there was a big hole in the story. Though Manafort was a consultant to Yanukovych's party, he was paid by wire, not in cash, casting serious doubt on the ledger’s authenticity. Another problem: the ledger was alleged to have been kept at party headquarters, but rioters had destroyed the building in a 2014 fire. Leshchenko admitted that he had a political agenda. He told The Financial Times at the time that he went public with the ledger because “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy.” He added that most of Ukraine’s politicians are “on Hillary Clinton’s side." Leshchenko also happened to be "a source for Fusion GPS,” as Nellie Ohr confirmed under questioning during a 2019 closed-door House hearing, according to a declassified transcript. Fusion was a paid agent of the Clinton campaign, which gave the private opposition-research firm more than $1 million to gin up connections between Trump and Russia. Fusion hired Steele to compile a series of “intelligence” memos known as the dossier. As a former MI6 operative, Steele gave the allegations a sheen of credibility. FBI counterintelligence veteran Mark Wauck said the dossier and the black ledger both appear to have originated with Fusion GPS, which laundered it through foreigners who hated Trump – Steele and Leshchenko. "The ledger and the dossier are both Fusion hit jobs,” Wauck said. “The two items shared a common origin: the Hillary campaign’s oppo research shop." In an August 2016 memo written for Fusion GPS, “The Demise of Trump’s Campaign Manager Paul Manafort,” Steele claimed he had corroborated Leshchenko’s charges through his anonymous Kremlin sources, who turned out to be nothing more than beer buddies of his primary source collector, Igor Danchenko, a Russian immigrant with a string of arrests in the U.S. for public intoxication, as RealClearInvestigations first reported. Danchenko had worked for the Brookings Institution, a Democratic think tank in Washington that Durham has subpoenaed in connection to its own role in Russiagate. Danchenko was indicted last year by Special Counsel Durham for lying about his sources, including one he completely made up, as RCI reported. “YANUKOVYCH had confided in PUTIN that he did authorize and order substantial kick-back payments to MANAFORT as alleged,” Steele claimed in the unsubstantiated report, citing “a well-placed Russian figure” with knowledge of a "meeting between PUTIN and YANUKOVYCH” allegedly “held in secret” on Aug. 15. As a paid informant, Steele had long reported to the FBI about alleged corruption involving Yanukovych. The FBI used his Clinton-funded dossier as a basis to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump adviser Carter Page, including the false claim that Page acted as an intermediary between Russian leadership and Manafort in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” that included sidelining Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue. Steele also falsely claimed that Page had helped draft the RNC platform statement to be more sympathetic to Russia’s interests by eliminating language about providing weapons to Ukraine, according to a report by the Department of Justice's watchdog. In fact, Page was not involved in the GOP platform. The misinformation came from Danchenko’s fictional source. Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson worked closely with the New York Times on the Manafort ledger story. In his book, “Crime in Progress,” Simpson boasts of introducing Leshchenko to the Times as a source, who ended up providing the paper some of the dubious ledger records. On Aug. 19, Manafort stepped down from the Trump campaign the day after the Times reported what it had been fed by the anti-Trump operatives. In effect, Ukrainian government officials tried to help Clinton and undermine Trump by disseminating documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and telling the American media they were investigating the matter. In 2018, a Ukrainian court ruled that Leshchenko and NABU’s Sytnyk illegally interfered in the 2016 U.S. election by publicizing the black ledger. Among the evidence was a recording of Sytnyk saying the agency released the ledger to help Clinton’s campaign – “I helped her,” Sytnyk is recorded boasting. But the damage was done. The Ukrainians, along with Chalupa and the Clinton camp, achieved their goal of undermining the Trump campaign by prompting Manafort’s ouster though they never proved he was colluding with the Russians. Neither did Special Counsel Mueller. In fact, Mueller did not use the ledger to prosecute Manafort after a key witness for the prosecution told him it was fabricated. “Mueller ended up dropping it like a hot potato,” Wauck said.  Ukraine’s neutrality in the election was also called into further question that September, when Porochenko met with Clinton during a stop in New York. He never met with Trump, who appeared to get the cold shoulder from the Ukrainian leader. In statements following Trump’s surprise victory over Clinton in November, Ukraine’s embassy has denied interfering in the election and insisted that Chalupa was acting on her own. Epilogue After Trump won the election in spite of her efforts to sabotage him, Chalupa predicted: “Under President Trump, the Kremlin could likely invade U.S. allies in Europe without U.S. opposition.” Not only did Russia not invade Europe “under Trump,” it didn’t even invade Ukraine. Rather, the invasion came under Biden, whose campaign Chalupa supported. Yet she continues to blame Trump. Recent tweets show a still-obsessed Chalupa has not dialed back her extremist views about Trump or Manafort, whom she believes should be prosecuted for “treason." In a Feb. 28 post on Twitter, for example, Chalupa claimed that Putin installed “a puppet regime in the U.S. with the help of Paul Manafort.” The previous day, she tweeted, “We had a Putin installed Trump presidency.” A day before that, she wrote: “Now would be a good time to release the Putin-Trump treason calls.” And on Feb. 25, Chalupa tweeted another wild conspiracy theory: "It’s important to note that Putin’s imperial aspirations are of a global criminal empire, as we saw when he installed Donald J. Trump president and tried to turn the U.S. into a Russian satellite state." Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma"s Political Reach

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma's Political Reach Authored by Rebecca Strong via Medium.com, They keep telling us to “trust the science.” But who paid for it? After graduating from Columbia University with a chemical engineering degree, my grandfather went on to work for Pfizer for almost two decades, culminating his career as the company’s Global Director of New Products. I was rather proud of this fact growing up — it felt as if this father figure, who raised me for several years during my childhood, had somehow played a role in saving lives. But in recent years, my perspective on Pfizer — and other companies in its class — has shifted. Blame it on the insidious big pharma corruption laid bare by whistleblowers in recent years. Blame it on the endless string of big pharma lawsuits revealing fraud, deception, and cover-ups. Blame it on the fact that I witnessed some of their most profitable drugs ruin the lives of those I love most. All I know is, that pride I once felt has been overshadowed by a sticky skepticism I just can’t seem to shake. In 1973, my grandpa and his colleagues celebrated as Pfizer crossed a milestone: the one-billion-dollar sales mark. These days, Pfizer rakes in $81 billion a year, making it the 28th most valuable company in the world. Johnson & Johnson ranks 15th, with $93.77 billion. To put things into perspective, that makes said companies wealthier than most countries in the world. And thanks to those astronomical profit margins, the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry is able to spend more on lobbying than any other industry in America. While big pharma lobbying can take several different forms, these companies tend to target their contributions to senior legislators in Congress — you know, the ones they need to keep in their corner, because they have the power to draft healthcare laws. Pfizer has outspent its peers in six of the last eight election cycles, coughing up almost $9.7 million. During the 2016 election, pharmaceutical companies gave more than $7 million to 97 senators at an average of $75,000 per member. They also contributed $6.3 million to president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. The question is: what did big pharma get in return? When you've got 1,500 Big Pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill for 535 members of Congress, it's not too hard to figure out why prescription drug prices in this country are, on average, 256% HIGHER than in other major countries. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2022 ALEC’s Off-the-Record Sway To truly grasp big pharma’s power, you need to understand how The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works. ALEC, which was founded in 1973 by conservative activists working on Ronald Reagan’s campaign, is a super secretive pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists — including in the pharma sector — hold confidential meetings about “model” bills. A large portion of these bills is eventually approved and become law. A rundown of ALEC’s greatest hits will tell you everything you need to know about the council’s motives and priorities. In 1995, ALEC promoted a bill that restricts consumers’ rights to sue for damages resulting from taking a particular medication. They also endorsed the Statute of Limitation Reduction Act, which put a time limit on when someone could sue after a medication-induced injury or death. Over the years, ALEC has promoted many other pharma-friendly bills that would: weaken FDA oversight of new drugs and therapies, limit FDA authority over drug advertising, and oppose regulations on financial incentives for doctors to prescribe specific drugs. But what makes these ALEC collaborations feel particularly problematic is that there’s little transparency — all of this happens behind closed doors. Congressional leaders and other committee members involved in ALEC aren’t required to publish any records of their meetings and other communications with pharma lobbyists, and the roster of ALEC members is completely confidential. All we know is that in 2020, more than two-thirds of Congress — 72 senators and 302 House of Representatives members — cashed a campaign check from a pharma company. Big Pharma Funding Research The public typically relies on an endorsement from government agencies to help them decide whether or not a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective. And those agencies, like the FDA, count on clinical research. As already established, big pharma is notorious for getting its hooks into influential government officials. Here’s another sobering truth: The majority of scientific research is paid for by — wait for it — the pharmaceutical companies. When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published 73 studies of new drugs over the course of a single year, they found that a staggering 82% of them had been funded by the pharmaceutical company selling the product, 68% had authors who were employees of that company, and 50% had lead researchers who accepted money from a drug company. According to 2013 research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Law, even when pharma companies aren’t directly funding the research, company stockholders, consultants, directors, and officers are almost always involved in conducting them. A 2017 report by the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ also showed that about half of medical journal editors receive payments from drug companies, with the average payment per editor hovering around $28,000. But these statistics are only accurate if researchers and editors are transparent about payments from pharma. And a 2022 investigative analysis of two of the most influential medical journals found that 81% of study authors failed to disclose millions in payments from drug companies, as they’re required to do. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry has been climbing every year since 2006, according to a John Hopkins University report, while independent studies have been harder to find. And there are some serious consequences to these conflicts of interest. Take Avandia, for instance, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithCline (GSK). Avandia was eventually linked to a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure. And a BMJ report revealed that almost 90% of scientists who initially wrote glowing articles about Avandia had financial ties to GSK. But here’s the unnerving part: if the pharmaceutical industry is successfully biasing the science, then that means the physicians who rely on the science are biased in their prescribing decisions. Photo credit: UN Women Europe & Central Asia Where the lines get really blurry is with “ghostwriting.” Big pharma execs know citizens are way more likely to trust a report written by a board-certified doctor than one of their representatives. That’s why they pay physicians to list their names as authors — even though the MDs had little to no involvement in the research, and the report was actually written by the drug company. This practice started in the ’50s and ’60s when tobacco execs were clamoring to prove that cigarettes didn’t cause cancer (spoiler alert: they do!), so they commissioned doctors to slap their name on papers undermining the risks of smoking. It’s still a pretty common tactic today: more than one in 10 articles published in the NEJM was co-written by a ghostwriter. While a very small percentage of medical journals have clear policies against ghostwriting, it’s still technically legal —despite the fact that the consequences can be deadly. Case in point: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Merck paid for 73 ghostwritten articles to play up the benefits of its arthritis drug Vioxx. It was later revealed that Merck failed to report all of the heart attacks experienced by trial participants. In fact, a study published in the NEJM revealed that an estimated 160,000 Americans experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Vioxx. That research was conducted by Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, who understandably concluded the drug was not safe. But the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, which not only was responsible for initially approving Vioxx but also regulating it, tried to sweep his findings under the rug. "I was pressured to change my conclusions and recommendations, and basically threatened that if I did not change them, I would not be permitted to present the paper at the conference," he wrote in his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony on Vioxx. "One Drug Safety manager recommended that I should be barred from presenting the poster at the meeting." Eventually, the FDA issued a public health advisory about Vioxx and Merck withdrew this product. But it was a little late for repercussions — 38,000 of those Vioxx-takers who suffered heart attacks had already died. Graham called this a “profound regulatory failure,” adding that scientific standards the FDA apply to drug safety “guarantee that unsafe and deadly drugs will remain on the U.S. market.” This should come as no surprise, but research has also repeatedly shown that a paper written by a pharmaceutical company is more likely to emphasize the benefits of a drug, vaccine, or device while downplaying the dangers. (If you want to understand more about this practice, a former ghostwriter outlines all the ethical reasons why she quit this job in a PLOS Medicine report.) While adverse drug effects appear in 95% of clinical research, only 46% of published reports disclose them. Of course, all of this often ends up misleading doctors into thinking a drug is safer than it actually is. Big Pharma Influence On Doctors Pharmaceutical companies aren’t just paying medical journal editors and authors to make their products look good, either. There’s a long, sordid history of pharmaceutical companies incentivizing doctors to prescribe their products through financial rewards. For instance, Pfizer and AstraZeneca doled out a combined $100 million to doctors in 2018, with some earning anywhere from $6 million to $29 million in a year. And research has shown this strategy works: when doctors accept these gifts and payments, they’re significantly more likely to prescribe those companies’ drugs. Novartis comes to mind — the company famously spent over $100 million paying for doctors’ extravagant meals, golf outings, and more, all while also providing a generous kickback program that made them richer every time they prescribed certain blood pressure and diabetes meds. Side note: the Open Payments portal contains a nifty little database where you can find out if any of your own doctors received money from drug companies. Knowing that my mother was put on a laundry list of meds after a near-fatal car accident, I was curious — so I did a quick search for her providers. While her PCP only banked a modest amount from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, her previous psychiatrist — who prescribed a cocktail of contraindicated medications without treating her in person — collected quadruple-digit payments from pharmaceutical companies. And her pain care specialist, who prescribed her jaw-dropping doses of opioid pain medication for more than 20 years (far longer than the 5-day safety guideline), was raking in thousands from Purdue Pharma, AKA the opioid crisis’ kingpin. Purdue is now infamous for its wildly aggressive OxyContin campaign in the ’90s. At the time, the company billed it as a non-addictive wonder drug for pain sufferers. Internal emails show Pursue sales representatives were instructed to “sell, sell, sell” OxyContin, and the more they were able to push, the more they were rewarded with promotions and bonuses. With the stakes so high, these reps stopped at nothing to get doctors on board — even going so far as to send boxes of doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” to unconvinced physicians. Purdue had stumbled upon the perfect system for generating tons of profit — off of other people’s pain. Documentation later proved that not only was Purdue aware it was highly addictive and that many people were abusing it, but that they also encouraged doctors to continue prescribing increasingly higher doses of it (and sent them on lavish luxury vacations for some motivation). In testimony to Congress, Purdue exec Paul Goldenheim played dumb about OxyContin addiction and overdose rates, but emails that were later exposed showed that he requested his colleagues remove all mentions of addiction from their correspondence about the drug. Even after it was proven in court that Purdue fraudulently marketed OxyContin while concealing its addictive nature, no one from the company spent a single day behind bars. Instead, the company got a slap on the wrist and a $600 million fine for a misdemeanor, the equivalent of a speeding ticket compared to the $9 billion they made off OxyContin up until 2006. Meanwhile, thanks to Purdue’s recklessness, more than 247,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2009. And that’s not even factoring in all the people who died of heroin overdoses once OxyContin was no longer attainable to them. The NIH reports that 80% of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. Former sales rep Carol Panara told me in an interview that when she looks back on her time at Purdue, it all feels like a “bad dream.” Panara started working for Purdue in 2008, one year after the company pled guilty to “misbranding” charges for OxyContin. At this point, Purdue was “regrouping and expanding,” says Panara, and to that end, had developed a clever new approach for making money off OxyContin: sales reps were now targeting general practitioners and family doctors, rather than just pain management specialists. On top of that, Purdue soon introduced three new strengths for OxyContin: 15, 30, and 60 milligrams, creating smaller increments Panara believes were aimed at making doctors feel more comfortable increasing their patients’ dosages. According to Panara, there were internal company rankings for sales reps based on the number of prescriptions for each OxyContin dosing strength in their territory. “They were sneaky about it,” she said. “Their plan was to go in and sell these doctors on the idea of starting with 10 milligrams, which is very low, knowing full well that once they get started down that path — that’s all they need. Because eventually, they’re going to build a tolerance and need a higher dose.” Occasionally, doctors expressed concerns about a patient becoming addicted, but Purdue had already developed a way around that. Sales reps like Panara were taught to reassure those doctors that someone in pain might experience addiction-like symptoms called “pseudoaddiction,” but that didn’t mean they were truly addicted. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that this concept is legit, of course. But the most disturbing part? Reps were trained to tell doctors that “pseudoaddiction” signaled the patient’s pain wasn’t being managed well enough, and the solution was simply to prescribe a higher dose of OxyContin. Panara finally quit Purdue in 2013. One of the breaking points was when two pharmacies in her territory were robbed at gunpoint specifically for OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue pled guilty to three criminal charges in an $8.3 billion deal, but the company is now under court protection after filing for bankruptcy. Despite all the damage that’s been done, the FDA’s policies for approving opioids remain essentially unchanged. Photo credit: Jennifer Durban Purdue probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if it weren’t for an FDA examiner named Curtis Wright, and his assistant Douglas Kramer. While Purdue was pursuing Wright’s stamp of approval on OxyContin, Wright took an outright sketchy approach to their application, instructing the company to mail documents to his home office rather than the FDA, and enlisting Purdue employees to help him review trials about the safety of the drug. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA have access to at least two randomized controlled trials before deeming a drug as safe and effective, but in the case of OxyContin, it got approved with data from just one measly two-week study — in osteoarthritis patients, no less. When both Wright and Kramer left the FDA, they went on to work for none other than (drumroll, please) Purdue, with Wright earning three times his FDA salary. By the way — this is just one example of the FDA’s notoriously incestuous relationship with big pharma, often referred to as “the revolving door”. In fact, a 2018 Science report revealed that 11 out of 16 FDA reviewers ended up at the same companies they had been regulating products for. While doing an independent investigation, “Empire of Pain” author and New Yorker columnist Patrick Radden Keefe tried to gain access to documentation of Wright’s communications with Purdue during the OxyContin approval process. “The FDA came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest thing, but we don’t have anything. It’s all either been lost or destroyed,’” Keefe told Fortune in an interview. “But it’s not just the FDA. It’s Congress, it’s the Department of Justice, it’s big parts of the medical establishment … the sheer amount of money involved, I think, has meant that a lot of the checks that should be in place in society to not just achieve justice, but also to protect us as consumers, were not there because they had been co-opted.” Big pharma may be to blame for creating the opioids that caused this public health catastrophe, but the FDA deserves just as much scrutiny — because its countless failures also played a part in enabling it. And many of those more recent fails happened under the supervision of Dr. Janet Woodcock. Woodcock was named FDA’s acting commissioner mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. She would have been a logical choice, being an FDA vet of 35 years, but then again it’s impossible to forget that she played a starring role in the FDA’s perpetuating the opioid epidemic. She’s also known for overruling her own scientific advisors when they vote against approving a drug. Not only did Woodcock approve OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, but she also gave the green light to several other highly controversial extended-release opioid pain drugs without sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy. One of those was Zohydro: in 2011, the FDA’s advisory committee voted 11:2 against approving it due to safety concerns about inappropriate use, but Woodcock went ahead and pushed it through, anyway. Under Woodcock’s supervision, the FDA also approved Opana, which is twice as powerful as OxyContin — only to then beg the drug maker to take it off the market 10 years later due to “abuse and manipulation.” And then there was Dsuvia, a potent painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine and 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to a head of one of the FDA’s advisory committees, the U.S. military had helped to develop this particular drug, and Woodcock said there was “pressure from the Pentagon” to push it through approvals. The FBI, members of congress, public health advocates, and patient safety experts alike called this decision into question, pointing out that with hundreds of opioids already on the market there’s no need for another — particularly one that comes with such high risks. Most recently, Woodcock served as the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, overseeing COVID-19 vaccine development. Big Pharma Lawsuits, Scandals, and Cover-Ups While the OxyContin craze is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile examples of big pharma’s deception, there are dozens of other stories like this. Here are a few standouts: In the 1980s, Bayer continued selling blood clotting products to third-world countries even though they were fully aware those products had been contaminated with HIV. The reason? The “financial investment in the product was considered too high to destroy the inventory.” Predictably, about 20,000 of the hemophiliacs who were infused with these tainted products then tested positive for HIV and eventually developed AIDS, and many later died of it. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson was slapped with a series of lawsuits for illegally promoting off-label use of their heartburn drug Propulsid for children despite internal company emails confirming major safety concerns (as in, deaths during the drug trials). Documentation from the lawsuits showed that dozens of studies sponsored by Johnson & Johnson highlighting the risks of this drug were never published. The FDA estimates that GSK’s Avandia caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. Internal documents from GSK prove that when they began studying the effects of the drug as early as 1999, they discovered it caused a higher risk of heart attacks than a similar drug it was meant to replace. Rather than publish these findings, they spent a decade illegally concealing them (and meanwhile, banking $3.2 billion annually for this drug by 2006). Finally, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study linked Avandia to a 43% increased risk of heart attacks, and a 64% increased risk of death from heart disease. Avandia is still FDA approved and available in the U.S. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at that time, for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and promoting off-label uses of its drugs. Specifically, a former employee revealed that Pfizer reps were encouraged and incentivized to sell Bextra and 12 other drugs for conditions they were never FDA approved for, and at doses up to eight times what’s recommended. “I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives,” the whistleblower said. When it was discovered that AstraZeneca was promoting the antipsychotic medication Seroquel for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, the company was hit with a $520 million fine in 2010. For years, AstraZeneca had been encouraging psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe Seroquel for a vast range of seemingly unrelated off-label conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness. AstraZeneca also violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to spread the word about these unapproved uses of Seroquel via promotional lectures and while traveling to resort locations. In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion fine for bribing doctors by flying them and their spouses to five-star resorts, and for illegally promoting drugs for off-label uses. What’s worse — GSK withheld clinical trial results that showed its antidepressant Paxil not only doesn’t work for adolescents and children but more alarmingly, that it can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in this group. A 1998 GSK internal memo revealed that the company intentionally concealed this data to minimize any “potential negative commercial impact.” In 2021, an ex-AstraZeneca sales rep sued her former employer, claiming they fired her for refusing to promote drugs for uses that weren’t FDA-approved. The employee alleges that on multiple occasions, she expressed concerns to her boss about “misleading” information that didn’t have enough support from medical research, and off-label promotions of certain drugs. Her supervisor reportedly not only ignored these concerns but pressured her to approve statements she didn’t agree with and threatened to remove her from regional and national positions if she didn’t comply. According to the plaintiff, she missed out on a raise and a bonus because she refused to break the law. At the top of 2022, a panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and GE Healthcare, which claims they helped finance terrorist attacks against U.S. service members and other Americans in Iraq. The suit alleges that from 2005–2011, these companies regularly offered bribes (including free drugs and medical devices) totaling millions of dollars annually to Iraq’s Ministry of Health in order to secure drug contracts. These corrupt payments then allegedly funded weapons and training for the Mahdi Army, which until 2008, was largely considered one of the most dangerous groups in Iraq. Another especially worrisome factor is that pharmaceutical companies are conducting an ever-increasing number of clinical trials in third-world countries, where people may be less educated, and there are also far fewer safety regulations. Pfizer’s 1996 experimental trials with Trovan on Nigerian children with meningitis — without informed consent — is just one nauseating example. When a former medical director in Pfizer’s central research division warned the company both before and after the study that their methods in this trial were “improper and unsafe,” he was promptly fired. Families of the Nigerian children who died or were left blind, brain damaged, or paralyzed after the study sued Pfizer, and the company ultimately settled out of court. In 1998, the FDA approved Trovan only for adults. The drug was later banned from European markets due to reports of fatal liver disease and restricted to strictly emergency care in the U.S. Pfizer still denies any wrongdoing. “Nurse prepares to vaccinate children” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to dive a little further down the rabbit hole — and I’ll warn you, it’s a deep one — a quick Google search for “big pharma lawsuits” will reveal the industry’s dark track record of bribery, dishonesty, and fraud. In fact, big pharma happens to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government when it comes to the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law.” During our interview, Panara told me she has friends still working for big pharma who would be willing to speak out about crooked activity they’ve observed, but are too afraid of being blacklisted by the industry. A newly proposed update to the False Claims Act would help to protect and support whistleblowers in their efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies liable, by helping to prevent that kind of retaliation and making it harder for the companies charged to dismiss these cases. It should come as no surprise that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and a flock of other big pharma firms are currently lobbying to block the update. Naturally, they wouldn’t want to make it any easier for ex-employees to expose their wrongdoings, potentially costing them billions more in fines. Something to keep in mind: these are the same people who produced, marketed, and are profiting from the COVID-19 vaccines. The same people who manipulate research, pay off decision-makers to push their drugs, cover up negative research results to avoid financial losses, and knowingly put innocent citizens in harm’s way. The same people who told America: “Take as much OxyContin as you want around the clock! It’s very safe and not addictive!” (while laughing all the way to the bank). So, ask yourself this: if a partner, friend, or family member repeatedly lied to you — and not just little white lies, but big ones that put your health and safety at risk — would you continue to trust them? Backing the Big Four: Big Pharma and the FDA, WHO, NIH, CDC I know what you’re thinking. Big pharma is amoral and the FDA’s devastating slips are a dime a dozen — old news. But what about agencies and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)? Don’t they have an obligation to provide unbiased guidance to protect citizens? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. The WHO’s guidance is undeniably influential across the globe. For most of this organization’s history, dating back to 1948, it could not receive donations from pharmaceutical companies — only member states. But that changed in 2005 when the WHO updated its financial policy to permit private money into its system. Since then, the WHO has accepted many financial contributions from big pharma. In fact, it’s only 20% financed by member states today, with a whopping 80% of financing coming from private donors. For instance, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now one of its main contributors, providing up to 13% of its funds — about $250–300 million a year. Nowadays, the BMGF provides more donations to the WHO than the entire United States. Dr. Arata Kochi, former head of WHO’s malaria program, expressed concerns to director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in 2007 that taking the BMGF’s money could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences” including “stifling a diversity of views among scientists.” “The big concerns are that the Gates Foundation isn’t fully transparent and accountable,” Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told Devex in an interview. “By wielding such influence, it could steer WHO priorities … It would enable a single rich philanthropist to set the global health agenda.” Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Take a peek at the WHO’s list of donors and you’ll find a few other familiar names like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. The NIH has the same problem, it seems. Science journalist Paul Thacker, who previously examined financial links between physicians and pharma companies as a lead investigator of the United States Senate Committee, wrote in The Washington Post that this agency “often ignored” very “obvious” conflicts of interest. He also claimed that “its industry ties go back decades.” In 2018, it was discovered that a $100 million alcohol consumption study run by NIH scientists was funded mostly by beer and liquor companies. Emails proved that NIH researchers were in frequent contact with those companies while designing the study — which, here’s a shocker — were aimed at highlighting the benefits and not the risks of moderate drinking. So, the NIH ultimately had to squash the trial. And then there’s the CDC. It used to be that this agency couldn’t take contributions from pharmaceutical companies, but in 1992 they found a loophole: new legislation passed by Congress allowed them to accept private funding through a nonprofit called the CDC Foundation. From 2014 through 2018 alone, the CDC Foundation received $79.6 million from corporations like Pfizer, Biogen, and Merck. Of course, if a pharmaceutical company wants to get a drug, vaccine, or other product approved, they really need to cozy up to the FDA. That explains why in 2017, pharma companies paid for a whopping 75% of the FDA’s scientific review budgets, up from 27% in 1993. It wasn’t always like this. But in 1992, an act of Congress changed the FDA’s funding stream, enlisting pharma companies to pay “user fees,” which help the FDA speed up the approval process for their drugs. A 2018 Science investigation found that 40 out of 107 physician advisors on the FDA’s committees received more than $10,000 from big pharma companies trying to get their drugs approved, with some banking up to $1 million or more. The FDA claims it has a well-functioning system to identify and prevent these possible conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, their system only works for spotting payments before advisory panels meet, and the Science investigation showed many FDA panel members get their payments after the fact. It’s a little like “you scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back once I get what I want” — drug companies promise FDA employees a future bonus contingent on whether things go their way. Here’s why this dynamic proves problematic: a 2000 investigation revealed that when the FDA approved the rotavirus vaccine in 1998, it didn’t exactly do its due diligence. That probably had something to do with the fact that committee members had financial ties to the manufacturer, Merck — many owned tens of thousands of dollars of stock in the company, or even held patents on the vaccine itself. Later, the Adverse Event Reporting System revealed that the vaccine was causing serious bowel obstructions in some children, and it was finally pulled from the U.S. market in October 1999. Then, in June of 2021, the FDA overruled concerns raised by its very own scientific advisory committee to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm — a move widely criticized by physicians. The drug not only showed very little efficacy but also potentially serious side effects like brain bleeding and swelling, in clinical trials. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a Harvard Medical School professor who was on the FDA’s scientific advisory committee, called it the “worst drug approval” in recent history, and noted that meetings between the FDA and Biogen had a “strange dynamic” suggesting an unusually close relationship. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told CNN that he believes the FDA started working in “inappropriately close collaboration with Biogen” back in 2019. “They were not objective, unbiased regulators,” he added in the CNN interview. “It seems as if the decision was preordained.” That brings me to perhaps the biggest conflict of interest yet: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID is just one of many institutes that comprises the NIH — and the NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine — as well as thousands more pharma patents to boot. The NIAID is poised to earn millions of dollars from Moderna’s vaccine revenue, with individual officials also receiving up to $150,000 annually. Operation Warp Speed In December of 2020, Pfizer became the first company to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine. EUAs — which allow the distribution of an unapproved drug or other product during a declared public health emergency — are actually a pretty new thing: the first one was issued in 2005 so military personnel could get an anthrax vaccine. To get a full FDA approval, there needs to be substantial evidence that the product is safe and effective. But for an EUA, the FDA just needs to determine that it may be effective. Since EUAs are granted so quickly, the FDA doesn’t have enough time to gather all the information they’d usually need to approve a drug or vaccine. “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Event” by The White House is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla has said his company was “operating at the speed of science” to bring a vaccine to market. However, a 2021 report in The BMJ revealed that this speed might have come at the expense of “data integrity and patient safety.” Brook Jackson, regional director for the Ventavia Research Group, which carried out these trials, told The BMJ that her former company “falsified data, unblinded patients, and employed inadequately trained vaccinators” in Pfizer’s pivotal phase 3 trial. Just some of the other concerning events witnessed included: adverse events not being reported correctly or at all, lack of reporting on protocol deviations, informed consent errors, and mislabeling of lab specimens. An audio recording of Ventavia employees from September 2020 revealed that they were so overwhelmed by issues arising during the study that they became unable to “quantify the types and number of errors” when assessing quality control. One Ventavia employee told The BMJ she’d never once seen a research environment as disorderly as Ventavia’s Pfizer vaccine trial, while another called it a “crazy mess.” Over the course of her two-decades-long career, Jackson has worked on hundreds of clinical trials, and two of her areas of expertise happen to be immunology and infectious diseases. She told me that from her first day on the Pfizer trial in September of 2020, she discovered “such egregious misconduct” that she recommended they stop enrolling participants into the study to do an internal audit. “To my complete shock and horror, Ventavia agreed to pause enrollment but then devised a plan to conceal what I found and to keep ICON and Pfizer in the dark,” Jackson said during our interview. “The site was in full clean-up mode. When missing data points were discovered the information was fabricated, including forged signatures on the informed consent forms.” A screenshot Jackson shared with me shows she was invited to a meeting titled “COVID 1001 Clean up Call” on Sept. 21, 2020. She refused to participate in the call. Jackson repeatedly warned her superiors about patient safety concerns and data integrity issues. “I knew that the entire world was counting on clinical researchers to develop a safe and effective vaccine and I did not want to be a part of that failure by not reporting what I saw,” she told me. When her employer failed to act, Jackson filed a complaint with the FDA on Sept. 25, and Ventavia fired her hours later that same day under the pretense that she was “not a good fit.” After reviewing her concerns over the phone, she claims the FDA never followed up or inspected the Ventavia site. Ten weeks later, the FDA authorized the EUA for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Pfizer hired Ventavia to handle the research for four more vaccine clinical trials, including one involving children and young adults, one for pregnant women, and another for the booster. Not only that, but Ventavia handled the clinical trials for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. Jackson is currently pursuing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Pfizer and Ventavia Research Group. Last year, Pfizer banked nearly $37 billion from its COVID vaccine, making it one of the most lucrative products in global history. Its overall revenues doubled in 2021 to reach $81.3 billion, and it’s slated to reach a record-breaking $98-$102 billion this year. “Corporations like Pfizer should never have been put in charge of a global vaccination rollout, because it was inevitable they would make life-and-death decisions based on what’s in the short-term interest of their shareholders,” writes Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. As previously mentioned, it’s super common for pharmaceutical companies to fund the research on their own products. Here’s why that’s scary. One 1999 meta-analysis showed that industry-funded research is eight times less likely to achieve unfavorable results compared to independent trials. In other words, if a pharmaceutical company wants to prove that a medication, supplement, vaccine, or device is safe and effective, they’ll find a way. With that in mind, I recently examined the 2020 study on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to see if there were any conflicts of interest. Lo and behold, the lengthy attached disclosure form shows that of the 29 authors, 18 are employees of Pfizer and hold stock in the company, one received a research grant from Pfizer during the study, and two reported being paid “personal fees” by Pfizer. In another 2021 study on the Pfizer vaccine, seven of the 15 authors are employees of and hold stock in Pfizer. The other eight authors received financial support from Pfizer during the study. Photo credit: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash) via Unsplash As of the day I’m writing this, about 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 76% have gotten at least one dose. The FDA has repeatedly promised “full transparency” when it comes to these vaccines. Yet in December of 2021, the FDA asked for permission to wait 75 years before releasing information pertaining to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including safety data, effectiveness data, and adverse reaction reports. That means no one would see this information until the year 2096 — conveniently, after many of us have departed this crazy world. To recap: the FDA only needed 10 weeks to review the 329,000 pages worth of data before approving the EUA for the vaccine — but apparently, they need three-quarters of a century to publicize it. In response to the FDA’s ludicrous request, PHMPT — a group of over 200 medical and public health experts from Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, and other institutions — filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the FDA produce this data sooner. And their efforts paid off: U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman issued an order for the FDA to produce 12,000 pages by Jan. 31, and then at least 55,000 pages per month thereafter. In his statement to the FDA, Pittman quoted the late John F. Kennedy: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” As for why the FDA wanted to keep this data hidden, the first batch of documentation revealed that there were more than 1,200 vaccine-related deaths in just the first 90 days after the Pfizer vaccine was introduced. Of 32 pregnancies with a known outcome, 28 resulted in fetal death. The CDC also recently unveiled data showing a total of 1,088,560 reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 28, 2022. That data included 23,149 reports of deaths and 183,311 reports of serious injuries. There were 4,993 reported adverse events in pregnant women after getting vaccinated, including 1,597 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. A 2022 study published in JAMA, meanwhile, revealed that there have been more than 1,900 reported cases of myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle — mostly in people 30 and under, within 7 days of getting the vaccine. In those cases, 96% of people were hospitalized. “It is understandable that the FDA does not want independent scientists to review the documents it relied upon to license Pfizer’s vaccine given that it is not as effective as the FDA originally claimed, does not prevent transmission, does not prevent against certain emerging variants, can cause serious heart inflammation in younger individuals, and has numerous other undisputed safety issues,” writes Aaron Siri, the attorney representing PHMPT in its lawsuit against the FDA. Siri told me in an email that his office phone has been ringing off the hook in recent months. “We are overwhelmed by inquiries from individuals calling about an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. By the way — it’s worth noting that adverse effects caused by COVID-19 vaccinations are still not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are protected under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which grants them total immunity from liability with their vaccines. And no matter what happens to you, you can’t sue the FDA for authorizing the EUA, or your employer for requiring you to get it, either. Billions of taxpayer dollars went to fund the research and development of these vaccines, and in Moderna’s case, licensing its vaccine was made possible entirely by public funds. But apparently, that still warrants citizens no insurance. Should something go wrong, you’re basically on your own. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine business model: government gives them billions, gives them immunity for any injuries or if doesn't work, promotes their products for free, and mandates their products. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is our current reality. — Aaron Siri (@AaronSiriSG) February 2, 2022 The Hypocrisy of “Misinformation” I find it interesting that “misinformation” has become such a pervasive term lately, but more alarmingly, that it’s become an excuse for blatant censorship on social media and in journalism. It’s impossible not to wonder what’s driving this movement to control the narrative. In a world where we still very clearly don’t have all the answers, why shouldn’t we be open to exploring all the possibilities? And while we’re on the subject, what about all of the COVID-related untruths that have been spread by our leaders and officials? Why should they get a free pass? Photo credit: @upgradeur_life, www.instagram.com/upgradeur_life Fauci, President Biden, and the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky all promised us with total confidence the vaccine would prevent us from getting or spreading COVID, something we now know is a myth. (In fact, the CDC recently had to change its very definition of “vaccine ” to promise “protection” from a disease rather than “immunity”— an important distinction). At one point, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and former Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared a social media campaign with misleading messaging that the vaccine was “approved by the FDA” and “went through the same rigorous approval process that all vaccines go through,” when in reality the FDA only authorized the vaccines under an EUA, and the vaccines were still undergoing clinical trials. While the NYS DOH eventually responded to pressures to remove these false claims, a few weeks later the Department posted on Facebook that “no serious side effects related to the vaccines have been reported,” when in actuality, roughly 16,000 reports of adverse events and over 3,000 reports of serious adverse events related to a COVID-19 vaccination had been reported in the first two months of use. One would think we’d hold the people in power to the same level of accountability — if not more — than an average citizen. So, in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy, should we “cancel” all these experts and leaders for their “misinformation,” too? Vaccine-hesitant people have been fired from their jobs, refused from restaurants, denied the right to travel and see their families, banned from social media channels, and blatantly shamed and villainized in the media. Some have even lost custody of their children. These people are frequently labeled “anti-vax,” which is misleading given that many (like the NBA’s Jonathan Isaac) have made it repeatedly clear they are not against all vaccines, but simply making a personal choice not to get this one. (As such, I’ll suggest switching to a more accurate label: “pro-choice.”) Fauci has repeatedly said federally mandating the vaccine would not be “appropriate” or “enforceable” and doing so would be “encroaching upon a person’s freedom to make their own choice.” So it’s remarkable that still, some individual employers and U.S. states, like my beloved Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to enforce some of these mandates, anyway. Meanwhile, a Feb. 7 bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicates that if you spread information that undermines public trust in a government institution (like the CDC or FDA), you could be considered a terrorist. In case you were wondering about the current state of free speech. The definition of institutional oppression is “the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” It is defined as occurring when established laws and practices “systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups.” Sound familiar? As you continue to watch the persecution of the unvaccinated unfold, remember this. Historically, when society has oppressed a particular group of people whether due to their gender, race, social class, religious beliefs, or sexuality, it’s always been because they pose some kind of threat to the status quo. The same is true for today’s unvaccinated. Since we know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID, however, this much is clear: the unvaccinated don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of their fellow citizens — but rather, to the bottom line of powerful pharmaceutical giants and the many global organizations they finance. And with more than $100 billion on the line in 2021 alone, I can understand the motivation to silence them. The unvaccinated have been called selfish. Stupid. Fauci has said it’s “almost inexplicable” that they are still resisting. But is it? What if these people aren’t crazy or uncaring, but rather have — unsurprisingly so — lost their faith in the agencies that are supposed to protect them? Can you blame them? Citizens are being bullied into getting a vaccine that was created, evaluated, and authorized in under a year, with no access to the bulk of the safety data for said vaccine, and no rights whatsoever to pursue legal action if they experience adverse effects from it. What these people need right now is to know they can depend on their fellow citizens to respect their choices, not fuel the segregation by launching a full-fledged witch hunt. Instead, for some inexplicable reason I imagine stems from fear, many continue rallying around big pharma rather than each other. A 2022 Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports survey of Democratic voters found that 59% of respondents support a government policy requiring unvaccinated individuals to remain confined in their home at all times, 55% support handing a fine to anyone who won’t get the vaccine, and 48% think the government should flat out imprison people who publicly question the efficacy of the vaccines on social media, TV, or online in digital publications. Even Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Photo credit: DJ Paine on Unsplash Let me be very clear. While there are a lot of bad actors out there — there are also a lot of well-meaning people in the science and medical industries, too. I’m lucky enough to know some of them. There are doctors who fend off pharma reps’ influence and take an extremely cautious approach to prescribing. Medical journal authors who fiercely pursue transparency and truth — as is evident in “The Influence of Money on Medical Science,” a report by the first female editor of JAMA. Pharmacists, like Dan Schneider, who refuse to fill prescriptions they deem risky or irresponsible. Whistleblowers, like Graham and Jackson, who tenaciously call attention to safety issues for pharma products in the approval pipeline. And I’m certain there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry, like Panara and my grandfather, who pursued this field with the goal of helping others, not just earning a six- or seven-figure salary. We need more of these people. Sadly, it seems they are outliers who exist in a corrupt, deep-rooted system of quid-pro-quo relationships. They can only do so much. I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine or booster doses. What you put in your body is not for me — or anyone else — to decide. It’s not a simple choice, but rather one that may depend on your physical condition, medical history, age, religious beliefs, and level of risk tolerance. My grandfather passed away in 2008, and lately, I find myself missing him more than ever, wishing I could talk to him about the pandemic and hear what he makes of all this madness. I don’t really know how he’d feel about the COVID vaccine, or whether he would have gotten it or encouraged me to. What I do know is that he’d listen to my concerns, and he’d carefully consider them. He would remind me my feelings are valid. His eyes would light up and he’d grin with amusement as I fervidly expressed my frustration. He’d tell me to keep pushing forward, digging deeper, asking questions. In his endearing Bronx accent, he used to always say: “go get ‘em, kid.” If I stop typing for a moment and listen hard enough, I can almost hear him saying it now. People keep saying “trust the science.” But when trust is broken, it must be earned back. And as long as our legislative system, public health agencies, physicians, and research journals keep accepting pharmaceutical money (with strings attached) — and our justice system keeps letting these companies off the hook when their negligence causes harm, there’s no reason for big pharma to change. They’re holding the bag, and money is power. I have a dream that one day, we’ll live in a world where we are armed with all the thorough, unbiased data necessary to make informed decisions about our health. Alas, we’re not even close. What that means is that it’s up to you to educate yourself as much as possible, and remain ever-vigilant in evaluating information before forming an opinion. You can start by reading clinical trials yourself, rather than relying on the media to translate them for you. Scroll to the bottom of every single study to the “conflicts of interest” section and find out who funded it. Look at how many subjects were involved. Confirm whether or not blinding was used to eliminate bias. You may also choose to follow Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s rule whenever possible: that means avoiding a new drug until five years after an FDA approval (not an EUA, an actual approval) — when there’s enough data on the long-term safety and effectiveness to establish that the benefits outweigh the risks. When it comes to the news, you can seek out independent, nonprofit outlets, which are less likely to be biased due to pharma funding. And most importantly, when it appears an organization is making concerted efforts to conceal information from you — like the FDA recently did with the COVID vaccine — it’s time to ask yourself: why? What are they trying to hide? In the 2019 film “Dark Waters” — which is based on the true story of one of the greatest corporate cover-ups in American history — Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott says: “The system is rigged. They want us to think it’ll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies. Not the scientists. Not the government. Us.” Words to live by. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

Futures Rebound Fizzles On Slowing iPhone Demand, Omicron Fears

Futures Rebound Fizzles On Slowing iPhone Demand, Omicron Fears U.S. index futures regained some ground alongside Asian markets while European stocks slumped to session lows in a delayed response to yesterday's late Omicron-driven US selloff, as markets remained volatile following the biggest two-day plunge in more than a year, spurred by concern about the omicron coronavirus variant and Federal Reserve tightening. Investors await data for unemployment claims, as well as earnings from companies including Dollar General and Kroger. Tech is the weakest sector, dropping in sympathy after Apple warned its suppliers of slowing iPhone demand. Nasdaq futures pared earlier gains of up to 0.8% to trade down 0.1% while S&P futures are only 0.2% higher after rising as much as 0.9%. While the knee-jerk reaction of stock investors may “continue to be to take profits before the end of the year,” there is “plenty of liquidity available to drive stock prices higher as dip-buyers enter the market,” Ed Yardeni wrote in a note. The U.S. economy grew at a modest to moderate pace through mid-November, while price hikes were widespread amid supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book survey Tuesday. Cruise-ship operator Carnival jumped 3.8% in premarket trading, while Pfizer and Moderna fell as the World Health Organization said that existing vaccines will likely protect against severe cases of the variant. Boeing contracts gained 3.4% after a report that the flagship 737 Max aircraft has regained airworthiness approval in China. With lots of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and Fed policy, the size of potential market swings is still considerable.  Here are some other notable premarket movers today: Apple (AAPL US) shares fell 1.8% in premarket trading after the iPhone maker was said to tell suppliers that demand for its flagship product has slowed. Wall Street analysts, however, remained bullish. U.S. stocks tied to former President Donald Trump rise in premarket trading following a report his media group is in talks to raise new financing. Digital World Acquisition (DWAC US) +24%, Phunware (PHUN US) +38%. Katapult (KPLT US) shares sink 14% in premarket after the financial technology firm said its gross originations over a two-month period were lower than 2020 levels. Vir (VIR US) shares jump 8.1% in premarket trading after its Covid-19 antibody treatment, co-developed with Glaxo, looked to be effective against the new omicron variant in early testing. Snowflake (SNOW US) is up 17% premarket following quarterly results that impressed analysts, though some raise questions over the data software company’s valuation. CrowdStrike (CRWD US) shares jumped 5.1% in premarket after it boosted its revenue forecast for the full year. Square’s (SQ US) shares are 0.4% higher premarket. Corporate name change to Block Inc. indicates “a symbolic rebirth,” according to Barclays as it shows a broader set of possibilities than those of a pure payments company. Okta’s (OKTA US) shares advanced in postmarket trading. 3Q results show the cybersecurity company is well- positioned to deliver growth, even if some analysts say its guidance looks conservative and that its growth was not as strong as in prior quarters. The Omicron variant also hurt risk appetite, making the safe-haven bonds more attractive to investors, pushing yields down - although yields picked up again in early European trading. Volatility in equity markets as measured by the Vix hit its highest since February on Wednesday, before easing on Thursday, but remained well above this year’s average and almost twice as high as a month ago. Investors are braced for volatility to continue through December, stirred by tightening central-bank policies to fight inflation just as the omicron variant complicates the outlook for the pandemic recovery. The recent market turmoil may offer investors a chance to position for a trend reversal in reopening and commodity trades, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. "Investors will need to maintain their calm during a period of uncertainty until the scientific data give a clearer picture of which scenario we face," said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management in Zurich. “This, in turn, will help shape the reaction of central bankers." Also weighing on stock markets, and flattening the U.S. yield curve, were remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said that he would consider a faster end to the Fed's bond-buying programme, which could open the door to earlier interest rate hikes. In his second day of testimony in Congress on Wednesday, Powell reiterated that the U.S. central bank needs to be ready to respond to the possibility that inflation does not recede in the second half of next year. read more "In this past what we’ve seen is central banks using COVID as an excuse to remain dovish, and what we're seeing is central banks turn hawkish despite rising concerns around COVID, so it is a bit of a shift in communication," said Mohammed Kazmi, portfolio manager at UBP.  That said, the market is now so oversold, this is where we usually see aggressive dip-buying. In Europe, tech companies were the worst performers after Apple warned its component suppliers of slowing demand for its iPhone 13, the news dragged index heavyweight ASML Holding NV more than 4%. Meanwhile, travel shares were among the worst performers as the omicron variant continued to pop upin countries around the world, including the U.S., Norway, Ireland and South Korea. The Euro Stoxx 50 dropped as much as 1.7% while the Stoxx 600 Index fell 1.5%, extending declines to trade at a session low, with all sectors in the red and led lower by technology and travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 Technology Index slumped as much as 3.9%, the most in two months. Vifor Pharma surged by a record 18% following a report that Australia’s CSL is in advanced talks to acquire Swiss drugmaker. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Vifor Pharma shares rise as much as 18% on a report that Australia’s CSL is in advanced talks to acquire the Swiss-based drug maker and developer while working with BofA on a A$4 billion funding package. Argenx jumps as much as 9.5% after Kepler Cheuvreux upgrades the stock to buy, saying the biotech company is on the brink of launching its first commercial product. Duerr gains as much as 7.2%, most since Aug. 10, after Deutsche Bank upgrades to buy and sets aa Street-high PT of EU60 for the German engineering company, citing the digitalization of the industry. Daily Mail & General Trust rises as much as 3.9% after Rothermere Continuation raised its bid for all DMGT’s Class A shares by 5.9% to 270p a share in cash. Klarabo surges as much as 54% as shares start trading on Nasdaq Stockholm after the Swedish property company raised SEK750m in an IPO. Eurofins Scientific declines for a fourth session, falling as much as 3.2%, as Goldman Sachs downgrades the company to neutral from buy “following strong outperformance YTD.” Deliveroo drops as much as 6.4% after an offering of 17.6m shares by CEO Will Shu and CFO Adam Miller at a price of 278p a share, representing a 4.2% discount to the last close. M&S falls as much as 3.4% after UBS cut its rating to neutral from buy, citing limited upside to its new price target as well as “little room for meaningful upgrades.” Earlier in the session, Asian stocks erased an earlier loss to trade slightly up, as traders continued to assess the potential impact of the omicron virus strain and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep inflation in check.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2% after falling 0.4% in the morning. South Korea led regional gains, helped by large-cap chipmakers, while Japan was among the worst performers after the government dropped a plan for a blanket halt to all new incoming flight reservations. Asia’s equity benchmark is still down about 4% so far this year after rebounding in the past two sessions from a one-year low reached earlier this week. Despite the region’s underperformance against the U.S. and Europe, cheap valuations and foreign-investor positioning have prompted brokerages including Credit Suisse Group AG and Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. to turn bullish on Asia’s prospects next year. “Equity markets continue to play omicron tennis and traders looking for short-term direction should just wait for the next virus headline and then act accordingly,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda Corp. “Volatility, and not market direction, will be the winner this week.” Chinese technology shares including Alibaba Group Holding slid after Beijing was said to be planning to close a loophole used by the sector to go public abroad, fueling concern over existing overseas listings. Japanese equities declined, following U.S. peers lower after the first American case of the omicron coronavirus variant was confirmed. Electronics makers and telecoms were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 0.5%. SoftBank Group and TDK were the largest contributors to a 0.7% loss in the Nikkei 225.  The S&P 500 posted its worst two-day selloff since October 2020 after the first U.S. case of the new strain was reported. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that officials should consider a quicker reduction of monetary stimulus amid elevated inflation. “Truth is, there’s probably a lot of people who are wanting to buy stocks at some point,” said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management. “But, with omicron still an unknown, people are responding sensitively to news development, and that’s keeping them from buying.” India’s benchmark equity index climbed for a second day, led by software exporters, on an improving economic outlook and as investors grabbed some beaten-down stocks after recent declines. The S&P BSE Sensex Index rose 1.4% to close at 58,461.29 in Mumbai, the biggest advance since Nov. 1. Its two-day gains increased to 2.5%, the most since Aug. 31. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also surged by a similar magnitude. All of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. were up, led by a gauge of utilities companies. “India underperformed the global markets in recent weeks. Investors are now going for value buying in stocks at lower levels,” said A. K. Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Market Services. The Sensex gained in three of the past four sessions after plunging 2.9% on Friday, the biggest drop since April. The rally, however, is in contrast to most global peers which are witnessing volatility on worries over the spread of the omicron variant. High frequency indicators in India, such as tax collection and manufacturing activities, have shown robust growth in recent months, while the country’s economy expanded 8.4% in the quarter ended in September, according to an official data release on Tuesday. Mortgage lender HDFC contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 3.9%. Out of 30 shares in the index, 27 rose and three fell. In rates, trading has been relatively quiet as bunds and gilts bull steepen a touch with risk offered, while cash TSYs bear flatten, cheapening ~5bps across the curve.Treasuries retraced part of yesterday’s rally that sent the benchmark 30-year rate to the lowest since early January. A large buyer of 5-year U.S. Treasury options targets the yield dropping around 17bps. 5s10s, 5s30s spreads flattened by ~1bp and ~2bp to multimonth lows; 10-year yields around 1.43%, cheaper by more than 3bp on the day while bunds and gilt yields are richer by ~1bp. Front-end and belly of the curve underperform vs long-end, while bunds and gilts outperform Treasuries. With little economic data slated, speeches by several Fed officials are main focal points. Peripheral spreads tighten with 10y Spain outperforming after well received auctions, albeit with a small size on offer. U.S. economic data slate includes November Challenger job cuts (7:30am) and initial jobless claims (8:30am) In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell to a day low in the European session and the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as most crosses consolidated in recent ranges. Two-week implied volatility in the major currencies trades in the green Thursday as it now captures the next policy decisions by the world’s major central banks. Euro- dollar on the tenor rises by as much as 138 basis points to touch 8.22%, highest in a year; the relative premium, however, remains below parity as realized has risen to levels unseen since August 2020. The pound rose along with some other risk- sensitive currencies following the British currency’s three-day slump against the dollar. Long-end gilts underperformed, leading to some steepening of the curve. The yen fell for the first day in three while the Swiss franc fell a second day. The Hungarian forint rose to almost a three-week high after the central bank in Budapest raised the one-week deposit rate by 20 basis points to 3.10%. Economists in a Bloomberg survey were evenly split in predicting a 10 or 20 basis point increase. The Turkish lira resumed its slump after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly replaced his finance minister amid deepening rifts in the administration over aggressive interest-rate cuts that have undermined the currency and fueled inflation. Poland’s central bank Governor Adam Glapinski sent the zloty to a three-week high against the euro on Thursday with his changed rhetoric on inflation, which he no longer sees as transitory after prices surged at the fastest pace in more than two decades. Currency market volatility also rose, with euro-dollar one-month volatility gauges below Monday's one-year peak but still at elevate levels . "Liquidity in some areas of the market is still quite poor as people grapple with this news and as we head towards year-end, a lot of it is really liquidity driven, which is leading to some volatility," said UBP's Kazmi. "Even in the most liquid market of the U.S. treasury market we've seen some fairly large moves on very little newsflow at times." In commodities, crude futures extend Asia’s gains. WTI adds 2.2% near $67, Brent near $70.50 ahead of today’s OPEC+ meeting. Spot gold finds support near Tuesday’s, recovering somewhat to trade near $1,774/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME aluminum drops as much as 1.1%, nickel, zinc and tin hold in the green Looking at the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include the Fed’s Quarles, Bostic, Daly and Barkin, as well as the ECB’s Panetta. Data releases include the Euro Area unemployment rate and PPI inflation for October, while there’s also the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, the OPEC+ group will be meeting. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.7% to 4,540.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.0% to 466.37 MXAP up 0.2% to 192.07 MXAPJ up 0.7% to 629.36 Nikkei down 0.7% to 27,753.37 Topix down 0.5% to 1,926.37 Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 23,788.93 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,573.84 Sensex up 1.3% to 58,436.52 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.1% to 7,225.18 Kospi up 1.6% to 2,945.27 Brent Futures up 2.4% to $70.53/bbl Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,771.73 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.03 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.35% Euro little changed at $1.1320 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said she’s “very open” to scaling back the Fed’s asset purchases at a faster pace so it can raise interest rates a couple of times next year if needed A United Nations gauge of global food prices rose 1.2% last month, threatening to make it more expensive for households to put a meal on the table. It’s more evidence of inflation soaring in the world’s largest economies and may make it even harder for the poorest nations to import food, worsening a hunger crisis Germany is poised to clamp down on people who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19 and drastically curtail social contacts to ease pressure on increasingly stretched hospitals Some investors buffeted by concerns about tighter monetary policy are turning their sights to China’s battered junk bonds, given they offer some of the biggest yield buffers anywhere in global credit markets Pfizer Inc. says data on how well its Covid-19 vaccine protects against the omicron variant should be available within two to three weeks, an executive said GlaxoSmithKline Plc said its Covid-19 antibody treatment looks to be effective against the new omicron variant in early testing A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded tentatively following the declines on Wall St where all major indices extended on losses and selling was exacerbated on confirmation of the first Omicron case in the US, while the Asia-Pac region also contended with its own pandemic concerns. ASX 200 (-0.2%) was subdued amid heavy losses in the tech sector and with a surge of infections in Victoria state, although downside in the index was cushioned amid inline Retail Sales and Trade Balance, as well as M&A optimism after Woolworths made a non-binding indicative proposal for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries. Nikkei 225 (-0.7%) weakened after the government instructed airlines to halt inbound flight bookings for a month due to fears of the new variant and with auto names also pressured by declines in monthly sales amid the chip supply crunch. KOSPI (+1.6%) showed resilience amid expectations for lawmakers to pass a record budget today and recouped opening losses despite the record increase in daily infections and confirmation of its first Omicron cases, while the index also shrugged off the highest CPI reading in a decade which effectively supports the case for further rate increases by the BoK. Hang Seng (+0.6%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.1%) were choppy following another liquidity drain by the PBoC and with tech pressured in Hong Kong as Alibaba shares extended on declines after recently slipping to a 4-year low in its US listing. Beijing regulatory tightening also provided a headwind as initial reports suggested China is to crack down on loopholes used by tech firms for foreign IPOs, although this was later refuted by China, and the CBIRC is planning stricter regulations on major shareholders of banks and insurance companies, as well as confirmed it will better regulate connected transactions of banks. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher as prices tracked gains in global counterparts and amid the risk aversion in Japan, although prices are off intraday highs after hitting resistance during a brief incursion to the 152.00 level and despite the marginally improved metrics from 10yr JGB auction. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Swing as Investors Weigh Omicron Impact, Fed Views Apple Tells Suppliers IPhone Demand Slowing as Holidays Near Moody’s Cuts China Property Sales View on Financing Difficulties Faith in Singapore Leaders Hit by Record Covid Wave, Poll Shows Bourses across Europe have held onto losses seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 -1.4%; Stoxx -1.2%), as the region plays catchup to the downside seen on Wall Street – seemingly sparked by a concoction of hawkish Fed rhetoric and the discovery of the Omicron variant in the US. Nonetheless, US equity futures are firmer across the board but to varying degrees – with the cyclical RTY (+1.1%) and the NQ (+0.3%) the current laggard. European futures ahead of the cash open saw some mild fleeting impetus on reports GlaxoSmithKline's (-0.3%) COVID treatment Sotrovimab retains its activity against Omicron variant, and the UK MHRA simultaneously approved the use of Sotrovimab – but caveated that it is too early to know whether Omicron has any impact on effectiveness. Conversely, brief risk-off crept into the market following commentary from a South African Scientist who warned the country is seeing an exponential rise in new COVID cases with a predominance of Omicron variant across the country – with the variant causing the fastest ever community transmission - but expects fewer active cases and hospitalisations this wave. Back to Europe, Euro indices see broad-based losses whilst the downside in the FTSE 100 (-0.7%) is less severe amid support from its heavyweight Oil & Gas sector – the outperforming sector in the region. Delving deeper, sectors see no overarching theme nor bias – Food & Beverages, Autos and Banks are towards the top of the bunch, whilst Tech, Telecoms, and Travel &Leisure. Tech is predominantly weighed on by reports that Apple (-2% pre-market) reportedly told iPhone component suppliers that demand slowed down. As such ASML (-5.0%), STMicroelectronics (-4.4%) and Infineon (-3.6%) reside among the biggest losers in the Stoxx 600. Deliveroo (-5.3%) is softer following an offering of almost 18mln at a discount to yesterday's close. In terms of market commentary, Morgan Stanley believes that inflation will remain high over the next few months, in turn supporting commodities, financials and some cyclical sectors. The bank identifies beneficiaries including EDF (-1.5%), Engie (-1.2%), SSE (-0.2%), Legrand (-1.3%), Tesco (-0.5%), BT (-0.8%), Michelin (-1.6%) and Sika (-0.9%). Top European News Shell Kicks Off First Wave of Buybacks From Permian Sale Omicron Threatens to Prolong Pain in Bid to Vaccinate the World Apple, Suppliers Drop Premarket After Report Demand Slowed Valeo, Gestamp Gain After Barclays Raises to Overweight In FX, currency markets are still in a state of flux, or limbo bar a few exceptions, and the Greenback is gyrating against major peers awaiting the next major event that could provide clearer direction and a more decisive range break. Thursday’s agenda offers some scope on that front via US initial jobless claims and a host of Fed speakers, but in truth NFP tomorrow is probably more likely to be influential even though chair Powell has effectively given the green light to fast-track tapering from December. In the interim, the index continues to keep a relatively short leash around 96.000, and is holding within 96.138-95.895 confines so far today. JPY/CHF - Although risk considerations look supportive for the Yen, on paper, UST-JGB/Fed-BoJ differentials coupled with technical impulses are keeping Usd/Jpy buoyant on the 113.00 handle, with additional demand said to have come from Japanese exporters overnight. However, the headline pair may run into offers/resistance circa 113.50 and any breach could be capped by decent option expiry interest spanning 113.60-75 (1.5 bn). Similarly, the Franc has slipped back below 0.9200 on yield and Swiss/US Central Bank policy stances plus near term outlooks, and hardly helped by a slowdown in retail sales. GBP/CAD/NZD - All firmer vs their US counterpart, though again well within recent admittedly wide ranges, and the Pound perhaps more attuned to Eur/Gbp fluctuations as the cross retreats to retest 0.8500 and Cable rebounds to have another look at 1.3300 where a fairly big option expiry resides (850 mn). Indeed, Sterling has largely shrugged off the latest BoE Monthly Decision Maker Panel release that in truth did not deliver any clues on what is set to be another knife-edge MPC gathering in December. Elsewhere, the Loonie is straddling 1.2800 with eyes on WTI crude ahead of Canadian jobs data on Friday and the Kiwi is hovering above 0.6800 after weaker NZ Q3 terms of trade were offset to some extent by favourable Aud/Nzd headwinds. AUD/EUR - Both narrowly mixed against US Dollar, with the Aussie pivoting 0.7100 in wake of roughly in line trade and retail sales data overnight, but wary about the latest virus outbreak in the state of Victoria, while the Euro is sitting somewhat uncomfortably on the 1.1300 handle amidst softer EGB yields and heightened uncertainty about what the ECB might or might not do in December on the QE guidance front. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are firmer intraday as traders gear up for the JMMC and OPEC+ confabs at 12:00GMT and 13:00GMT, respectively. The jury is still split on what the final decision could be, but the case for OPEC+ to pause the planned monthly relaxation of output curbs by 400k BPD has been strengthening against the backdrop of Omicron coupled with the coordinated SPR releases (an updating Rolling Headline is available on the Newsquawk headline feed). As expected, OPEC sources have been testing the waters in the run-up, whilst yesterday's JTC/OPEC meetings largely surrounded the successor to the Secretary-General position. Oil market price action will likely be centred around OPEC+ today in the absence of any macro shocks. WTI Jan resides around USD 66.50/bbl (vs low USD 65.41/bbl) whilst Brent Feb briefly topped USD 70/bbl (vs low USD 68.73/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold has eased further from the USD 1,800/oz after failing to sustain a break above the 50, 100 and 200 DMAs which have all converged to USD 1,791/oz today. LME copper is on the backfoot amid the cautious risk sentiment, with the red metal back under USD 9,500/t but off overnight lows. US Event Calendar 7:30am: Nov. Challenger Job Cuts -77.0% YoY, prior -71.7% 8:30am: Nov. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 240,000, prior 199,000; 8:30am: Nov. Continuing Claims, est. 2m, prior 2.05m 9:45am: Nov. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 52.2 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap With investors remaining on tenterhooks to find out some definitive information on the Omicron variant, yesterday saw markets continue to see-saw for a 4th day running. Following one of the biggest sell-offs of the year on Friday, we then had a partial bounceback on Monday, another bout of fears on Tuesday (not helped by the prospect of faster tapering), and yesterday saw another rally back before risk sentiment turned sharply later in the day as an initial case of the Omicron variant was discovered in the US. You can get some idea of this by the fact that Europe’s STOXX 600 (+1.71%) posted its best daily performance since May, whereas the S&P 500 moved from an intraday high where it had been up +1.88%, before shedding all those gains and more to close -1.18% lower. In fact, that decline means the S&P has now lost over -3% in the last two sessions, marking its worst 2-day performance in over a year, and this heightened volatility saw the VIX index close back above 30 for the first time since early February. In terms of developments about Omicron, we’re still in a waiting game for some concrete stats, but there was positive news early on from the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, who said that they think vaccines “will still protect against severe disease as they have against the other variants”. On the other hand, there was further negative news out of South Africa, as the country reported 8,561 infections over the previous day, with a positivity rate of 16.5%. That’s up from 4,373 cases the day before, and 2,273 the day before that, so all eyes will be on whether this trend continues, and also on what that means for hospitalisation and death rates over the days ahead. Against this backdrop, calls for fresh restrictions mounted across a range of countries, particularly on the travel side. In the US, it’s been reported already by the Washington Post that President Biden could today announce stricter testing requirements for arriving travellers. Meanwhile, France is moving to require non-EU arrivals to show a negative test before arrival, irrespective of their vaccination status. The EU Commission further said that member states should conduct daily reviews of essential travel restrictions, and Commission President von der Leyen also said that the EU should discuss the topic of mandatory vaccinations. There was also a Bloomberg report that German Chancellor Merkel would recommend mandatory vaccinations from February 2022, according to a Chancellery paper that they’d obtained. That came as Slovakia sought to incentivise vaccination uptake among older citizens, with the cabinet backing a €500 hospitality voucher for residents over 60 who’ve been vaccinated. As on Tuesday, the other main headlines yesterday were provided by Fed Chair Powell, who re-emphasised his more hawkish rhetoric around inflation before the House Financial Services Committee. Notably he said that “We’ve seen inflation be more persistent. We’ve seen the factors that are causing higher inflation to be more persistent”, though yields on 2yr Treasuries (-1.4bps) already had the shift in stance priced in. New York Fed President Williams echoed that view in an interview, noting it would be germane to discuss and decide whether it was appropriate to accelerate the pace of tapering at the December FOMC. 10yr yields (-4.1bps) continued their decline, predominantly driven by the turn in sentiment following the negative Omicron headlines. That latest round of curve flattening left the 2s10s slope at its flattest level since early January around the time of the Georgia Senate race that ushered in the prospect of much larger fiscal stimulus. In terms of markets elsewhere, strong data releases helped to support risk appetite earlier in yesterday’s session, with investors also looking forward to tomorrow’s US jobs report for November that will be an important one ahead of the Fed’s decision in less than a couple of weeks’ time. The ISM manufacturing release for November saw the headline number come in roughly as expected at 61.1 (vs. 61.2 expected), and also included a rise in both the new orders (61.5) and the employment (53.3) components relative to last month. Separately, the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November likewise came in around expectations, with a +534k gain (vs. +526k expected). Staying on the US, one thing to keep an eye out over the next 24 hours will be any news on a government shutdown, with funding currently set to run out by the weekend as it stands. The headlines yesterday weren’t promising for those hoping for an uneventful, tidy resolution, as Politico indicated that some Congressional Republicans would not agree to an expedited process to fund the government should certain vaccine mandates remain in place. An expedited process is necessary to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week, so one to watch. After the incredibly divergent equity performances in the US and Europe, we’ve seen a much more mixed performance in Asia overnight, with the KOSPI (+1.09%), Hang Seng (+0.23%), and CSI (+0.23%) all advancing, whereas the Shanghai Composite (-0.05%) and the Nikkei (-0.60%) are trading lower. In terms of the latest on Omicron, authorities in South Korea confirmed five cases, which came as the country also reported that CPI in November rose to its fastest since December 2011, at +3.7% (vs +3.1% expected). Separately in China, 53 local Covid-19 cases were reported in Inner Mongolia, whilst Harbin province reported 3 local cases. Looking forward, futures are indicating a positive start in the US with those on the S&P 500 (+0.64%) pointing higher. Back in Europe, sovereign bonds lost ground yesterday, and yields on 10yr bunds (+0.5bps), OATs (+1.1bps) and BTPs (+4.2bps) continued to move higher. Interestingly, there was a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with the gap between both Italian and Spanish 10yr yields over bunds reaching their biggest level in over a year, at 135bps and 77bps, respectively. Another factor to keep an eye on in Europe is another round of increases in natural gas prices, with futures up +3.42% to their highest level since mid-October yesterday. Lastly on the data front, the main other story was the release of the manufacturing PMIs from around the world. We’d already had the flash readings from a number of the key economies, so they weren’t too surprising, but the Euro Area came in at 58.4 (vs. flash 58.6), Germany came in at 57.4 (vs. flash 57.6), and the UK came in at 58.1 (vs. flash 58.2). One country that saw a decent upward revision was France, with the final number at 55.9 (vs. flash 54.6), which marks an end to 5 successive monthly declines in the French manufacturing PMI. One other release were German retail sales for October, which unexpectedly fell -0.3% (vs. +0.9% expected). To the day ahead now, and central bank speakers include the Fed’s Quarles, Bostic, Daly and Barkin, as well as the ECB’s Panetta. Data releases include the Euro Area unemployment rate and PPI inflation for October, while there’s also the weekly initial jobless claims. Lastly, the OPEC+ group will be meeting. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 07:57.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 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

10 Things in Politics: Big Tech"s private partnerships with ICE

And President Joe Biden isn't ruling out a US debt default. 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 bgriffiths@insider.com.Here's what we're talking about:Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have taken advantage of a commonly used but little-known tool to quietly enter dozens of contracts with ICE and CBPThe Facebook whistleblower is set to testify before CongressThese 37 millennials are the new Supreme Court clerksWith Phil Rosen. A CBP Air And Marine Predator drone. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images 1. INSIDER INVESTIGATION: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have repeatedly used a common tactic to sidestep public scrutiny and work with US immigration agencies, an Insider investigation found. This work also illustrates the long reach of tech companies into the immigration system.Here are the details from Insider's investigation:How intermediaries are side-stepping public scrutiny: Take Amazon and its AWS cloud technology: Insider obtained documents showing that AWS is already used in several Immigration and Customs Enforcement databases and programs that are otherwise not mentioned in public procurement records. Third-party companies sold AWS to ICE, but experts say Amazon would still be aware of what's going on.Some contracts are for professional tools like Google Workspace: The AWS contracts in question are related to important ICE databases. For instance, AWS is used to support ICE's Investigative Case Management system (ICE's main law-enforcement database) and Student and Exchange Visitor Program Portal (which stores information on student visitors to the US).This business raises questions about some of the companies' previous pledges: Google, in particular, said after several employee protests that it would not work on immigration-enforcement contracts with ICE or CBP.But …: Google was involved in at least four contracts with CBP, all through third-party contractors, when Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian told employees the company's tech wouldn't be used for immigration enforcement at the southern border. (Google declined to comment on the record.)Read more about Insider's investigation, including how employees of the companies are reacting to what my colleague dug up.2. Biden says he can't guarantee there won't be a debt default: President Joe Biden told reporters it's up to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on whether the US breached the debt ceiling in less than two weeks. McConnell has insisted that since Democrats control Congress they alone should be responsible for raising the debt ceiling. Republicans are set to block a debt-ceiling vote on Wednesday for this reason. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is insisting the issue must be resolved "by the end of this week." More on the economic brinksmanship just days away from catastrophe.3. Facebook whistleblower is set to testify before Congress: The former product manager Frances Haugen is expected to tell lawmakers that Facebook's products "harm children, stoke division," and "weaken our democracy." Her appearance comes just days after she revealed on "60 Minutes" that she was the main source behind the internal documents The Wall Street Journal used in a series about problems inside Facebook. Here's how you can watch it. Members of the Supreme Court posing for a group photo on April 23. Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool 4. These 37 millennials are the new Supreme Court clerks: Of this year's 37 Supreme Court clerks, nearly a third graduated from Yale Law School. Others come from the University of Chicago Law School and Harvard Law School. At least seven clerks were in The Federalist Society, reflecting the court's conservative majority. And three clerks are graduates of Hillsdale College, a small conservative school in Michigan. Read more about the clerks who are set to be the most powerful lawyers, judges, and politicians in the US.5. Francis Collins is resigning as NIH head: Collins, a 71-year-old physician, has served at the National Institutes of Health for nearly three decades and has led the agency for 12 years. His departure had been planned for a while, Politico reports. The White House has increasingly used Collins in its pandemic plan to talk about vaccines and its booster strategy. More on the news.6. Facebook says it has identified the cause of its widespread outage: The social-media giant attributed the massive ​​global outage that took its services and internal communications tools offline for several hours to a "faulty configuration change" to its routers. Facebook said it had "no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime." Here's a breakdown of what happened.CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost more than $6 billion as shares in the company tanked.7. Biden kicks off efforts to tout his spending plan: Biden is traveling to Michigan today to talk up his $3.5 trillion social-spending plan after weeks of Democratic infighting over the size and scope of the president's proposal, the Associated Press reports. Biden has already signaled that a final deal will most likely cut trillions off of the top number. The White House is eager to change the subject and to get back to the transformational details - such as how the bill would change America's safety net.A reminder: Here's what's in the $3.5 trillion plan, at least for now.8. Attorney general pledges DOJ will address threats against school officials: Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI and US attorneys' offices to meet with officials throughout the country to address increasing harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school-board members, teachers, and workers. The rising threats and sometimes even violence at school-board meetings is usually centered on COVID-19 policies. More on what the federal government is doing.9. Fed may release its long-awaited paper on central-bank digital currencies soon: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has said such currencies could eliminate the need for so-called stablecoins, though an expert told Insider these would complement, rather than compete with, private cryptos. Bank of America described the transformative potential of digital assets as "difficult to overstate," and movement by the Fed may be coming within days. Here's what to look out for. AP Photo/Steven Senne 10. William Shatner plans to boldly go where none of his costars have gone before: After decades of playing Captain Kirk, Shatner plans to travel to space in Blue Origin's second space-tourism launch. The trip, scheduled for next week, is set to make Shatner, 90, the oldest person to travel into space.Today's trivia question: Monday marked the anniversary of the start of the construction of Mount Rushmore. While not publicly accessible, what is located behind Lincoln's head that somewhat fulfills one of Gutzon Borglum's original plans? Email your answer and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.Yesterday's answer: Justice Neil Gorsuch is the first former Supreme Court clerk to serve on the high court alongside his former boss. Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. The pair briefly served together before Kennedy retired.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 5th, 2021

When Amazon drones crashed, the company told the FAA to go fly a kite

Amazon is pushing to launch the first version of its drone program by mid-2024, and aims to expand test deliveries to 1,300 customers this year. An early version of an Amazon drone flies in front of the company logo.Peter Endig/picture alliance via Getty Images Amazon has tried to avoid federal investigations of some of its drone crashes, according to federal documents obtained by Insider. At least eight Amazon drones have crashed during testing in the past year, Insider previously reported. Amazon has been expanding its drone delivery tests and hopes to make an early version available to customers by mid-2024. Amazon's Prime Air autonomous drone delivery program has tried to put off federal investigations into some of its drone crashes by claiming that the company has the authority to investigate its own crashes, according to federal documents obtained through a public records request. The company has also been slow to turn over data related to crashes, the documents show. On at least two occasions, inspectors for the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drone flights, were surprised to learn that Amazon had moved crash evidence, which an inspector said inhibited at least one of the investigations, according to the documents. During another investigation, Amazon told the FAA that the agency's involvement was unnecessary.At least eight Amazon drones crashed during testing in the past year, Insider previously reported, including one that sparked a 20-acre brush fire in eastern Oregon last June after the drone's motors failed. Taken together, the documents suggest that Amazon has at times begrudged federal inspections of its experimental drone crashes. These findings come as the company seeks FAA approval to fly its drones in residential areas ahead of a potential mid-2024 customer debut.Regulatory delays could "totally disrupt" that timeline, the company told FAA officials in a Zoom call with the agency earlier this year, according to the FAA's notes on that call. An Amazon spokesperson said that Insider's characterization of the FAA documents was "misleading and inaccurate." Prime Air "has complied with all incident reporting, investigation, and other applicable regulatory requirements," the spokesperson, Kelly Nantel, said. "Over the last seven years, the FAA has never taken an enforcement action against Prime Air, and has awarded us an air carrier certificate to enable commercial deliveries — showing that our comprehensive process has met the FAA's high bar."Amazon's former retail chief Jeff Wilke showed off a Prime Air drone model at the 2019 Re:Mars robotic conference.JORDAN STEAD/ AmazonSince launching in 2013, Prime Air has been beset by delays and missed deadlines. The division has been under recent pressure to deliver results. Executives earlier this year concluded the seven years the team had spent on R&D had failed to produce "a delivery service that could be safely operated over populated areas," Insider previously reported. Prime Air VP David Carbon, a former Boeing executive, has spent the past two years pushing the division to complete testing needed to obtain regulatory approval for its autonomous drones. But changing goals, frequent delays, and a shifting culture has led to low morale, employee burnout, and an attrition rate as high as 70% on the company's test team, Insider previously reported. Some employees have left amid concerns about Prime Air's safety culture, Bloomberg reported last month. Amazon has taken so long to unveil its drone delivery program because its engineers are "working to solve complicated problems and are committed to extensive testing to ensure our drone delivery service is safe and reliable. Doing so involves meeting very high internal, technical, and regulatory bars," Nantel said. An FAA inspector spars with AmazonTo adhere to its timeline of unveiling drone delivery by 2024, Amazon needs a suite of FAA approvals within the next two years. The approvals would allow the drones to fly beyond the sight-lines of Prime Air operators and observers, over cities and towns, and to take off and land in close proximity to people, according to internal company documents obtained by Insider.Obtaining those approvals requires the FAA to sign off on the drones' safety. Amazon, however, has insisted the FAA did not need to be involved in investigating the cause of some of its drone crashes, according to public records.Last July, Amazon told an FAA inspector who had been sent to investigate crashes at Amazon's drone test site in Pendleton, Oregon, that the agency's involvement was unnecessary because Amazon was conducting its own crash investigations, the inspector, Jim Holden, wrote in notes appended to two crash reports. An FAA spokesperson said the agency has the ultimate authority to investigate aircraft crashes when it decides it is necessary to do so. Amazon's spokesperson did not respond to questions about jurisdiction over crash investigations.The company also seemed reluctant to release details about crashes, Holden wrote. In one report, he noted that he was still waiting for "photos and information" about a crash a month after it occurred. Holden wrote in the same report that Amazon's representative had tried to put off the crash inspection by saying he had a dentist appointment.In a separate report, Holden noted that he was prompted to make an in-person visit to the crash site in order to "remedy" Amazon's "slow and cautious release of details about incidents." Amazon was "confused as to why we are looking into" drone crashes "in so much detail," Holden wrote, speculating that "Amazon legal is likely communicating their concerns of our elevated involvement directly to FAA Headquarters personnel." An FAA spokesperson declined to comment on the agency's communications with Amazon. Reached by phone, Holden declined to respond to questions.Amazon at least twice removed drone wreckage before the FAA could investigate, according to the documents. Last July, during an inspection related to a drone that had dropped 120 feet out of the sky, Holden asked to see the remains of the drone's motor and propeller, central and sensitive parts of the machine. He reported that the "motor and propeller had been removed by the engineers and sent to Seattle for THEM TO INVESTIGATE," the all-caps a departure from the style of the rest of his reports. Two months earlier, Amazon had also removed wreckage of a drone that had crashed due to a propeller failure. Investigation of that crash site "was not possible," the inspector noted in that instance, and reminded Amazon that crash debris "should not be disturbed or moved until after release of wreckage" by federal regulators. An earlier model of Amazon's Prime Air drone.Amazon Prime AirAn Amazon spokesperson said it is now the company's practice to notify the FAA before moving crash wreckage. Motor and propeller failures have been the cause of many of Amazon's recent drone crashes, according to seven federal crash reports reviewed by Insider, as well as two former Prime Air employees. In the fiery crash last June, Amazon's 89-pound drone plummeted 160 feet to the ground "in uncontrolled free fall," according to an FAA crash report. An "intense lithium battery fire quickly consumed the aircraft," and the fire spread to the field where the drone had crash-landed, the report added. The municipal fire department contained the blaze, according to a fire report from the incident.Companies and regulators expect some experimental aircraft to crash during testing, where the machines are pushed to their limits. "With rigorous testing like this, we expect incidents like these to occur, and we apply the learnings from each flight towards improving safety overall," Nantel said. Amazon tests its drones "over a controlled, unpopulated area," Nantel said, and "no people or property were harmed in the process." Internally, Prime Air recognizes that in order for autonomous drone delivery to catch on, customers must perceive it to be safe. "Safety is paramount" is the first of Prime Air's seven organizational tenets. Prime Air's first major public-facing test of its capabilities comes this fall, when the company expects to begin dropping Amazon packages to 1,300 test customers in Texas and California. Prime Air has previously only delivered packages to a handful of customers in a small-scale pilot program, largely in Oregon.Do you work at Amazon? Got a tip? Contact reporter Katherine Long on the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-206-275-9280) or email (klong@insider.com). Reach out using a non-work device.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider4 hr. 16 min. ago

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute, Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory, part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. [W]hen Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system... They want to overthrow it altogether, period. Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war? ... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda... After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words... [suggest] to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. In February, [Biden] had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years..., have a bigger arsenal than ours. ...we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare....They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue.... China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy..., that the status of Taiwan is unresolved.... that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no ... solutions that are "undangerous." ...The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments..... We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse... I do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets.... Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians.... We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China.... This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑averse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. Unfortunately..., we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. [W]e should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. From October 2020 to October 2021, more than 105,000 Americans died from fentanyl -- which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans... we have to change course. I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. I would... just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China.... State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war?... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. All the conditions for history's next great war are in place. Jim Holmes, the Wiley Professor at the Naval War College, actually talks about this period as being 1937. 1937 was the year in which if you were in Europe or America, you could sense the trouble. If you were in Asia in 1937, you would be even more worried, because that year saw Japan's second invasion of China that decade. No matter where you lived, however, you could not be sure that the worst would happen, that great armies and navies around the world would clash. There was still hope that the situation could be managed. As we now know, the worst did happen. In fact, what happened was worse than what anyone thought at the time. We are now, thanks to China, back to 1937. We will begin our discussion in Afghanistan. Beijing has had long‑standing relations with the Afghan Taliban, going back before 9/11, and continuing through that event. After the US drove the Taliban from power and while it was conducting an insurgency, China was selling the group arms, including anti‑aircraft missiles, that were used to kill American and NATO forces. China's support for killing Americans has continued to today. In December 2020, Indian Intelligence was instrumental, in Afghanistan, in breaking up a ring of Chinese spies and members of the Haqqani Network. The Trump administration believed that the Chinese portion of that ring was actually paying cash for killing Americans. What can happen next? We should not be surprised if China gives the Taliban an atomic weapon to be used against an American city. Would they be that vicious? We have to remember that China purposefully, over the course of decades, proliferated its nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan and then helped Pakistan sell that Chinese technology around the world to regimes such as Iran's and North Korea's. Today, China supports the Taliban. We know this because China has kept open its embassy in Kabul. China is also running interference for the Taliban in the United Nations Security Council. It is urging countries to support that insurgent group with aid. It looks as if the Taliban's main financial backers these days are the Chinese. Beijing is hoping to cash in on its relationship in Central Asia. Unfortunately, there is a man named Biden, who is helping them. In early August, Biden issued an executive order setting a goal that by 2030, half of all American vehicles should be electric‑powered. To be electric‑powered, we need rare earth minerals, we need lithium. As many people have said, Afghanistan is the Saudi Arabia of rare earths and lithium. If Beijing can mine this, it makes the United States even more dependent on China. It certainly helps the Taliban immeasurably. Unfortunately, Beijing has more than just Afghanistan in mind. The Chinese want to take away our sovereignty, and that of other nations, and rule the world. They actually even want to rule the near parts of the solar system. Yes, that does sound far‑fetched, but, no, I'm not exaggerating. Chinese President Xi Jinping would like to end the current international system. On July 1, in a landmark speech, in connection with the centennial of China's ruling organization, he said this: "The Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, with their bravery and tenacity, solemnly proclaim to the world that the Chinese people are not only good at taking down the old world, but also good in building a new one." By that, China's leader means ending the international system, the Westphalian international system. It means he wants to impose China's imperial‑era notions of governance, where Chinese emperors believed they not only had the Mandate of Heaven over tianxia, or all under Heaven, but that Heaven actually compelled the Chinese to rule the entire world. Xi Jinping has been using tianxia themes for decades, and so have his subordinates, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who in September 2017 wrote an article in Study Times, the Central Party School's influential newspaper. In that article, Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy ‑‑ a "thought" in Communist Party lingo is an important body of ideological work ‑‑ Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy made innovations on and transcended the traditional theories of Western international relations of the past 300 years. Take 2017, subtract 300 years, and you almost get to 1648, which means that Wang Yi, with his time reference, was pointing to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which established the current system of sovereign states. When Wang Yi writes that Xi Jinping wants to transcend that system, he is really telling us that China's leader does not want sovereign states, or at least no more of them than China. This means that when Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system so it is more to their liking. They want to overthrow it altogether, period. China is also revolutionary with regard to the solar system. Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory. In other words, as part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea: theirs and theirs alone. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. Let us return to April 2021. Beijing announced the name of its Mars rover. "We are naming the Mars rover Zhurong," the Chinese said, "because Zhurong was the god of fire in Chinese mythology, " How nice. Yes, Zhurong is the god of fire. What Beijing did not tell us is that Zhurong is also the god of war—and the god of the South China Sea. Is Xi Jinping really that bold or that desperate to start another war? Two points. First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. The second point is that the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. On the first point, about our enemy status, we have to go back to May 2019. People's Daily, the most authoritative publication in China, actually carried a piece that declared a "people's war" on the US. This was not just some isolated thought. On August 29th 2021, People's Daily came out with a landmark piece that accused the United States of committing "barbaric" acts against China. Again, this was during a month of hostile propaganda blasts from China. On the August 29th, Global Times, which is controlled by People's Daily, came right out and also said that the United States was an enemy or like an enemy. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda. The question is, should we be concerned about what China is saying? After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words are significant. The strident anti‑Americanism suggests to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do. Jim Lilley, our great ambassador to Beijing during the Tiananmen Massacre, actually said that China always telegraphs its punches. At this moment, China is telegraphing a punch. That hostility, unfortunately, is not something we can do very much about. The Chinese Communist regime inherently idealizes struggle, and it demands that others show subservience to it. The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. That is evident from what the Chinese are saying. In March of 2021, China sent its top two diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, to Anchorage to meet our top officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Yang, in chilling words, said the US could no longer talk to China "from a position of strength." We saw the same theme during the fall of Kabul. China then was saying, "Look, those Americans, they can't deal with the insurgent Taliban. How can they hope to counter us magnificent Chinese?" Global Times actually came out with a piece referring to Americans: "They can't win wars anymore." We also saw propaganda at that same time directed at Taiwan. Global Times was saying, again, in an editorial, an important signal of official Chinese thinking, "When we decide to invade, Taiwan will fall within hours and the US will not come to help." It is probably no coincidence that this propaganda came at the time of incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. We need to be concerned with more than just the intensity and with the frequency of these flights, however. We have to be concerned that China was sending H‑6K bombers; they are nuclear‑capable. Something is wrong. Global Times recently came out with an editorial with the title, "Time to warn Taiwan secessionists and their fomenters: war is real." Beijing is at this moment saying things heard before history's great conflicts. The Chinese regime right now seems to be feeling incredibly arrogant. We heard this on November 28th in 2020, when Di Dongsheng, an academic in Beijing, gave a lecture live-streamed to China. Di showed the arrogance of the Chinese elite. More importantly, he was showing that the Chinese elite no longer wanted to hide how they felt. Di, for instance, openly stated that China could determine outcomes at the highest levels of the American political system. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden is reinforcing this notion. China, for instance, has so far killed nearly one million Americans with a disease that it deliberately spread beyond its borders. Yet, what happened? Nothing. We know that China was able to spread this disease with its close relationship with the World Health Organization. President Trump, in July of 2020, took us out of the WHO. What did Biden do? In his first hours in office, on January 20th, 2021, he put us back into the WHO. In February, he had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." Then there's somebody named John Kerry. Our republic is not safe when John Kerry carries a diplomatic passport, as he now does. He is willing to make almost any deal to get China to sign an enhanced climate arrangement. Kerry gave a revealing interview to David Westin of Bloomberg on September 22, 2021. Westin asked him, "What is the process by which one trades off climate against human rights?" Climate against human rights? Kerry came back and said, "Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations." Tough choices? We Americans need to ask, "What is Kerry willing to give up to get his climate deal?" Democracies tend to deal with each other in the way that Kerry says. If we are nice to a democracy, that will lead to warm relations; warm relations will lead to deals, long‑standing ties. Kerry thinks that the Chinese communists think that way. Unfortunately, they do not. We know this because Kerry's successor as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in February 2009, said in public, "I'm not going to press the Chinese on human rights because I've got bigger fish to fry." She then went to Beijing a day after saying that and got no cooperation from the Chinese. Even worse, just weeks after that, China felt so bold that it attacked an unarmed US Navy reconnaissance vessel in the South China Sea. The attack was so serious that it constituted an act of war. The Chinese simply do not think the way that Kerry believes they do. All of this, when you put it together, means that the risk of war is much higher than we tend to think. Conflict with today's aggressor is going to be more destructive than it was in the 1930s. We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years, as some experts think, have a bigger arsenal than ours. China has built decoy silos before. We are not sure they are going to put all 345 missiles into these facilities, but we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. This, of course, calls into question their official no‑first‑use policy, and also a lot of other things. China will not talk to us about arms control. We have to be concerned that China and Russia, which already are coordinating their military activities, would gang up against us with their arsenals. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. It also shows that in hypersonic technology, which was developed by Americans, China is now at least a decade ahead of us in fielding a weapon. Why is China doing all this now? The country is coming apart at the seams. There is, for instance, a debt crisis. Evergrande and other property developers have started to default. It is more than just a crisis of companies. China is basically now having its 2008. Even more important than that, they have an economy that is stumbling and a food crisis that is worsening year to year. They know their environment is exhausted. Of course, they also are suffering from a continuing COVID‑19 epidemic. To make matters worse, all of this is occurring while China is on the edge of the steepest demographic decline in history in the absence of war or disease. Two Chinese demographers recently stated that China's population will probably halve in 45 years. If you run out those projections, it means that by the end of the century, China will be about a third of its current size, basically about the same number of people as the United States. These developments are roiling the political system. Xi Jinping is being blamed for these debacles. We know he has a low threshold of risk. Xi now has all the incentive in the world to deflect popular and regime discontent by lashing out. In 1966, Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic, was sidelined in Beijing. What did he do? He started the Cultural Revolution. He tried to use the Chinese people against his political enemies. That created a decade of chaos. Xi Jinping is trying to do the same thing with his "common prosperity" program. The difference is that Mao did not have the means to plunge the world into war. Xi, with his shiny new military, clearly does have that ability. So here is a 1930s scenario to consider. The next time China starts a conflict, whether accidentally or on purpose, we could see that China's friends -- Russia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan -- either in coordination with China or just taking advantage of the situation, move against their enemies. That would be Ukraine in the case of Russia, South Korea in the case of North Korea, Israel in the case of Iran, India in the case of Pakistan, and Morocco in the case of Algeria. We could see crises at both ends of the European landmass and in Africa at the same time. This is how world wars start. *  *  * Question: Why do you believe China attacked the world with coronavirus? Chang: I believe that SARS‑CoV‑2, the pathogen that causes COVID‑19, is not natural. There are, for example, unnatural arrangements of amino acids, like the double‑CGG sequence, that do not occur in nature. We do not have a hundred percent assurance on where this pathogen came from. We do, however, have a hundred percent assurance on something else: that for about five weeks, maybe even five months, Chinese leaders knew that this disease was highly transmissible, from one human to the next, but they told the world that it was not. At the same time as they were locking down their own country ‑‑ Xi Jinping by locking down was indicating that he thought this was an effective way of stopping the disease -- he was pressuring other countries not to impose travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China. It was those arrivals from China that turned what should have been an epidemic confined to the central part of China, into a global pandemic. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare. This was, for instance, in the 2017 edition of "The Science of Military Strategy," the authoritative publication of China's National Defense University. They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. Remember, Xi Jinping must be thinking, "I just got away with killing eight million people. Why wouldn't I unleash a biological attack on the United States? Look what the virus has done not only to kill Americans but also to divide American society." A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. Question: You mentioned 1939. Taiwan is the Poland of today. We get mixed signals: Biden invites the Taiwanese foreign minister to his inauguration, but then we hear Ned Price, his State Department spokesman, say that America will always respect the One‑China policy. Meaning, we're sidelining defending Taiwan? Chang: The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue. China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy, which is different. We recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China. We also say that the status of Taiwan is unresolved. Then, the third part of our One‑China policy is that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. In other words, that is code for peace, a peaceful resolution. Our policies are defined by the One‑China policy, the Three Communiques, Reagan's Six Assurances, and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our policy is difficult for someone named Joe Biden to articulate, because he came back from a campaign trip to Michigan, and he was asked by a reporter about Taiwan, and Biden said, "Don't worry about this. We got it covered. I had a phone call with Xi Jinping and he agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement." In official US discourse, there is no such thing as a "Taiwan agreement." Some reporter then asked Ned Price what did Biden mean by the Taiwan agreement. Ned Price said, "The Taiwan agreement means the Three Communiques the Six Assurances, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the One‑China policy." Ned Price could not have been telling the truth because Xi Jinping did not agree to America's position on Taiwan. That is clear. There is complete fuzziness or outright lying in the Biden administration about this. Biden's policies on Taiwan are not horrible, but they are also not appropriate for this time. decades, we have had this policy of "strategic ambiguity," where we do not tell either side what we would do in the face of imminent conflict. That worked in a benign period. We are no longer in a benign period. We are in one of the most dangerous periods in history. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. Question: You think he is not saying that because he has no intention of actually doing it, so in a way, he is telling the truth? Chang: The mind of Biden is difficult to understand. We do not know what the administration would do. We have never known, after Allen Dulles, what any administration would do, with regard to Taiwan. We knew what Dulles would have done. We have got to be really concerned because there are voices in the administration that would give Taiwan, and give other parts of the world, to China. It would probably start with John Kerry; that is only a guess. Question: You mentioned earlier the growing Chinese economic problems. Would you use taking action on the enormous trade deficits we run with China to contribute to that problem? Chang: Yes, we should absolutely do that. Go back to a day which, in my mind, lives in infamy, which is January 15th, 2020, when President Trump signed the Phase One trade deal, which I think was a mistake. In that Phase One trade deal, it was very easy for China to comply, because there were specific targets that China had to meet in buying US goods and services. This was "managed trade." China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments. That means, they have dishonored this deal in a material and significant way. If nothing else, China has failed to meet its Phase One trade deal commitments. We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse: for instance, these Chinese anti‑lawsuit injunctions, which they have started to institute. We need to do something: China steals somewhere between $300 to $600 billion worth of US intellectual property each year. That is a grievous wound on the US economy, it is a grievous wound on our society in general. We need to do something about it. Question: As a follow‑up on that, Japan commenced World War II because of the tariffs Roosevelt was strapping on oil imports into Japan, do you think that might well have the same effect on China, where we do begin to impose stiffer tariffs on American imports? Chang: That is a really important question, to which nobody has an answer. I do not think that China would start a war over tariffs. Let me answer this question in a different way. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no good solutions. There are no solutions that are "undangerous." Every solution, going forward, carries great risk. The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. The point is, we have no choice right now. First, I don't think the Chinese were ever going to honor the Phase One agreement . This was not a deal where there were some fuzzy requirements. This deal was very clear: China buys these amounts of agricultural products by such and such date, China buys so many manufactured products by such and such date. This was not rocket science. China purposefully decided not to honor it. There are also other issues regarding the trade deal do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets, which is what the Phase One deal also contemplated. Goldman Sachs ran away like a bandit on that. There are lot of objections to it. I do not think we should be trading with China, for a lot of reasons. The Phase One trade deal, in my mind, was a great mistake. Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. Question: Concerning cybersecurity, as we saw in the recent departure of a Pentagon official, ringing the alarm on how we are completely vulnerable to China's cyberattacks. From your perspective, what would an attack look like on China that would hurt them? What particular institutions would be the most vulnerable? Is it exposing their secrets? Is it something on their financial system? Is it something on their medical system or critical infrastructure? What does the best way look like to damage them? Also, regarding what you mentioned about Afghanistan, we know that China has been making inroads into Pakistan as a check on American hegemony in relationships with India and Afghanistan. Now that the Afghanistan domino is down, what do you see in the future for Pakistan's nuclear capability, in conjunction with Chinese backing, to move ever further westward towards Afghanistan, and endangering Middle East security? Chang: Right now, India has been disheartened by what happened, because India was one of the main backers of the Afghan government. What we did in New Delhi was delegitimize our friends, so that now the pro‑Russian, the pro‑Chinese elements in the Indian national security establishment are basically setting the tone. This is terrible. What has happened, though, in Pakistan itself, is not an unmitigated disaster for us, because China has suffered blowback there. There is an Afghan Taliban, and there is a Pakistani Taliban. They have diametrically‑opposed policies on China. The Afghan Taliban is an ally of China; the Pakistani Taliban kill Chinese. They do that because they want to destabilize Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Beijing supports Islamabad. The calculation on part of the Pakistani Taliban is, "We kill Chinese, we destabilize Islamabad, we then get to set up the caliphate in Pakistan." What has happened is, with this incredible success of the Afghan Taliban, that the Pakistani Taliban has been re‑energized -- not good news for China. China has something called the China‑Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of their Belt and Road Initiative. Ultimately that is going to be something like $62 billion of investment into Pakistani roads, airports, electric power plants, utilities, all the rest of it. I am very happy that China is in Pakistan, because they are now dealing with a situation that they have no solutions to. It's like Winston Churchill on Italy, "It's now your turn." We should never have had good relations with Pakistan. That was always a short‑term compromise that, even in the short term, undermined American interests. The point is that China is now having troubles in Pakistan because of their success in Afghanistan. Pakistan is important to China for a number of reasons. One of them is, they want it as an outlet to the Indian Ocean that bypasses the Malacca Strait -- a choke point that the US Navy ‑‑ in their view ‑‑ could easily close off, which is correct. They want to bypass that, but their port in Gwadar is a failure in many respects. Gwadar is in Pakistan's Baluchistan. The Baluchs are one of the most oppressed minorities on earth. They have now taken to violence against the Chinese, and they have been effective. Pakistan is a failure for China. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. Trade is really what they need right now. Their economy is stalling. There are three parts to the Chinese economy, as there are to all economies: consumption, investment, and net exports. Their consumption right now is extremely weak from indicators that we have. The question is can they invest? China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. We have extraordinary supply chain disruptions right now. It should be pretty easy for us to make the case that we must become self‑sufficient on a number of items. Hit them on trade. Hit them on investment, publicize the bank account details of Chinese leaders. All these things that we do, we do it all at the same time. We can maybe get rid of these guys. Question: In the Solomon Islands, they published China's under-the-table payments to political figures. Should we do the same thing with China's leaders? Chang: Yes. There is now a contest for the Solomon Islands, which includes Guadalcanal. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians. This was really good news. We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. Why don't we publish their payments to politicians around the world? Let's expose these guys, let's go after them. Let's root out Chinese influence, because they are subverting our political system. Similarly, we should also be publishing the bank account details of all these Chinese leaders, because they are corrupt as hell. Question: Could you comment, please, on what you think is the nature of the personal relationships between Hunter Biden, his father, and Chinese financial institutions. How has it, if at all, affected American foreign policy towards China, and how will it affect that policy? Chang: There are two things here. There are the financial ties. Hunter Biden has connections with Chinese institutions, which you cannot explain in the absence of corruption. For instance, he has a relationship with Bohai Harvest Partners, BHR. China puts a lot of money into the care of foreign investment managers. The two billion, or whatever the number is, is not that large, but they only put money with people who have a track record in managing investments. Hunter Biden only has a track record of being the son of Joe Biden. There are three investigations of Hunter Biden right now. There is the Wilmington US Attorney's Office, the FBI -- I don't place very much hope in either of these – but the third one might actually bear some fruit: the IRS investigation of Hunter Biden. Let us say, for the moment, that Biden is able to corrupt all three of these investigations. Yet money always leaves a trail. We are going to find out one way or another. Peter Schweizer, for instance, is working on a book on the Biden cash. Eventually, we are going to know about that. What worries me is not so much the money trail -- and of course, there's the art sales, a subject in itself, because we will find out. What worries me is that Hunter Biden, by his own admission, is a troubled individual. He has been to China a number of times. He has probably committed some embarrassing act there, which means that the Ministry of State Security has audio and video recordings of this. Those are the things that can be used for blackmail. We Americans would never know about it, because blackmail does not necessarily leave a trail. This is what we should be most concerned about. Biden has now had two long phone calls with Xi Jinping. The February call, plus also one a few months ago. We do not know what was said. I would be very worried that when Xi Jinping wants to say something, there will be a phone call to Biden, and it would be Xi doing the talking without note takers. Question: Please tell us about the China desk over the 30 years, the influence of the bureaucracy on politics; what can they affect? Chang: I do not agree with our China policy establishment in Washington, in general, and specifically the State Department and NSC. This a complicated issue. First, there is this notion after the end of the Cold War, that the nature of governments did not matter. You could trade with them, you could strengthen them, and it would not have national security implications. That was wrong for a number of reasons, as we are now seeing. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China. You hear this from Blinken all the time: "We've got to cooperate where we can." It is this formulation which is tired, and which has not produced the types of policies that are necessary to defend our republic. That is the unfortunate thing. This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. We Americans should be upset because we have a political class that is not defending us. They are not defending us because they have these notions of China. George Kennan understood the nature of the Soviet Union. I do not understand why we cannot understand the true nature of the Chinese regime. Part of it is because we have Wall Street, we have Walmart, and they carry China's water. There are more of us than there are of them in this country. We have to exercise our vote to make sure that we implement China policies that actually protect us. Policies that protect us are going to be drastic and they will be extreme, but absolutely, we have now dug ourselves into such a hole after three decades of truly misguided views on China, that I don't know what else to say. This is not some partisan complaint. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, all have truly misguided China policies. I do not know what it takes to break this view, except maybe for the deaths of American servicemen and women. Question: Is the big obstacle American businesses which, in donations to Biden, are the ones stopping decoupling of commerce, and saying, "Do not have war; we would rather earn money"? Chang: It is. You have, for instance, Nike. There are a number of different companies, but Nike comes to mind right now, because they love to lecture us about racism. For years they were operating a factory in Qingdao, in the northeastern part of China, that resembled a concentration camp. The laborers were Uighur and Kazakh women, brought there on cattle cars and forced to work. This factory, technically, was operated by a South Korean sub‑contractor, but that contractor had a three‑decade relationship with Nike. Nike had to know what was going on. This was forced labor, perhaps even slave labor. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. One of the good things Trump did was, towards the end of his four years, he started to vigorously enforce the statutes that are already on the books, about products that are made with forced and slave labor. Biden, to his credit, has continued tougher enforcement. Right now, the big struggle is not the enforcement, but enhancing those rules. Apple and all of these companies are now very much trying to prevent amendment of those laws. It's business, but it's also immoral. Question: It is not just big Wall Street firms. There are companies that print the Bible. Most Bibles are now printed in China. When President Trump imposed the tariffs, a lot of the Bible printers who depended on China actually went to Trump and said, "You cannot put those tariffs in because then the cost of Bibles will go up." Chang: Most everyone lobbies for China. We have to take away their incentive to do so. Question: What are the chances that China's going to invade Taiwan? Chang: There is no clear answer. There are a number of factors that promote stability. One of them is that, for China to invade Taiwan, Xi Jinping has to give some general or admiral basically total control over the Chinese military. That makes this flag officer the most powerful person in China. Xi is not about to do that. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑adverse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. The reason we have to be concerned is because it is not just a question of Xi Jinping waking up one morning and saying, "I want to invade Taiwan." The danger is the risk of accidental contact, in the skies or on the seas, around Taiwan. We know that China has been engaging in hostile conduct, and this is not just the incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. There are also dangerous intercepts of the US Navy and the US Air Force in the global commons. One of those accidents could spiral out of control. We saw this on April 1st, 2001, with the EP‑3, where a Chinese jet clipped the wing of that slow‑moving propeller plane of the US Navy. The only reason we got through it was that George W. Bush, to his eternal shame, paid China a sum that was essentially a ransom. He allowed our crew to be held for 11 days. He allowed the Chinese to strip that plane. This was wrong. This was the worst incident in US diplomatic history, but Bush's craven response did get us through it. Unfortunately, by getting through it we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. One of these incidents will go wrong. The law of averages says that. Then we have to really worry. Question: You don't think Xi thinks, "Oh well, we can sacrifice a few million Chinese"? Chang: On the night of June 15th, 2020, there was a clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers in Ladakh, in the Galwan Valley. That was a Chinese sneak attack on Indian-controlled territory. That night, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China did not admit to any casualties. The Indians were saying that they killed about 45 Chinese soldiers that night. Remember, this was June 15th of 2020. It took until February of 2021 for China to admit that four Chinese soldiers died. TASS, the Russian news agency, recently issued a story reporting that 45 Chinese soldiers actually died that night. This incident shows you how risk‑averse and casualty‑averse the Chinese Communist Party is. They are willing to intimidate, they are willing to do all sorts of things. They are, however, loath to fight sustained engagements. Remember, that the number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is not to take over Taiwan. The number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is to preserve Communist Party rule. If the Communist Party feels that the Chinese people are not on board with an invasion of Taiwan, they will not do it even if they think they will be successful. Right now, the Chinese people are not in any mood for a full‑scale invasion of Taiwan. On the other hand, Xi Jinping has a very low threshold of risk. He took a consensual political system where no Chinese leader got too much blame or too much credit, because everybody shared in decisions, and Xi took power from everybody, which means, he ended up with full accountability, which means -- he is now fully responsible. In 2017, when everything was going China's way, this was great for Xi Jinping because he got all the credit. Now in 2021, where things are not going China's way, he is getting all the blame. The other thing, is that Xi has raised the cost of losing a political struggle in China. In the Deng Xiaoping era, Deng reduced the cost of losing a struggle. In the Maoist era, if you lost a struggle, you potentially lost your life. In Deng's era, if you lost a struggle, you got a nice house, a comfortable life. Xi Jinping has reversed that. Now the cost of losing a political struggle in China is very high. So there is now a combination of these two developments. Xi has full accountability. He knows that if he is thrown out of power, he loses not just power. He loses his freedom, his assets, potentially his life. If he has nothing to lose, however, it means that he can start a war, either "accidentally" or on purpose. He could be thinking, "I'm dying anyway, so why don't I just roll the dice and see if I can get out of this?" That is the reason why this moment is so exceedingly risky. When you look at the internal dynamics inside China right now, we are dealing with a system in crisis. Question: China has a conference coming up in a year or so. What does Chairman Xi want to do to make sure he gets through that conference with triumph? Chang: The Communist Party has recently been holding its National Congresses once every five years. If the pattern follows -- and that is an if -- the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party will be held either October or November of next year. This is an important Congress, more so than most of them because Xi Jinping is looking for an unprecedented third term as general secretary of the Communist Party. If you go back six months ago, maybe a year, everyone was saying, "Oh, Xi Jinping. No problem. He's president for life. He's going to get his third term. He will get his fourth term. He will get his fifth term, as long as he lives. This guy is there forever." Right now, that assumption is no longer valid. We do not know what's going to happen because he is being blamed for everything. Remember, as we get close to the 20th National Congress, Xi Jinping knows he has to show "success." Showing "success" could very well mean killing some more Indians or killing Americans or killing Japanese or something. We just don't know what is going to happen. Prior to the National Congress, there is the sixth plenum of the 19th Congress. Who knows what is going to happen there. The Communist Party calendar, as you point out, does dictate the way Xi Jinping interacts with the world. Question: Going back to the wing-clip incident, what should Bush have done? Chang: What Bush should have done is immediately demand the return of that plane. What he should have done was to impose trade sanctions, investment sanctions, whatever, to get our plane back. We were fortunate, in the sense that our aviators were returned, but they were returned in a way that has made relations with China worse, because we taught the Chinese regime to be more aggressive and more belligerent. We created the problems of today and of tomorrow. I would have imposed sanction after sanction after sanction, and just demand that they return the plane and the pilots. Remember, that at some point, it was in China's interests to return our aviators. The costs would have been too high for the Chinese to keep them. We did not use that leverage on them. While we are on this topic, we should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. In one year, from 2020 to 2021, nearly 80,000 Americans died from fentanyl, which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans. China is killing us. We have to do something different. I'm not saying that we have good solutions; we don't. But we have to change course. Question: Biden is continuing this hostage thing with Huawei, returning the CFO of Huawei in exchange for two Canadians. Have we taught the Chinese that they can grab more hostages? Chang: President Trump was right to seek the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies. Biden, in a deal, released her. She did not even have to plead guilty to any Federal crime. She signed a statement, which I hope we'll be able to use against Huawei. As soon as Meng was released, China released the "two Michaels," the two Canadians who were grabbed within days of our seeking extradition of Meng Wanzhou. In other words, the two Michaels were hostages. We have taught China that any time that we try to enforce our own laws, they can just grab Americans. They have grabbed Americans as hostages before, but this case is high profile. They grabbed Americans, and then they grabbed Canadians, and they got away with it. They are going to do it again. We are creating the incentives for Beijing to act even more dangerously and lawlessly and criminally in the future. This has to stop. Question: On the off-chance that the current leader does not maintain his position, what are your thoughts on the leaders that we should keep an eye on? Chang: There is no one who stands out among the members of the Politburo Standing Committee. That is purposeful. Xi Jinping has made sure that there is nobody who can be considered a successor; that is the last thing he wants. If there is a change in leadership, the new leader probably will come from Jiang Zemin's Shanghai Gang faction. Jiang was China's leader before Hu Jintao, and Hu came before Xi Jinping. There is now a lot of factional infighting. Most of the reporting shows that Jiang has been trying to unseat Xi Jinping because Xi has been putting Jiang's allies in jail. Remember, the Communist Party is not a monolith. It has a lot of factions. Jiang's faction is not the only one. There is something called the Communist Youth League of Hu Jintao. It could, therefore, be anybody. Question: Double question: You did not talk about Hong Kong. Is Hong Kong lost forever to the Chinese Communist Party? Second question, if you could, what are the three policies that you would change right away? Chang: Hong Kong is not lost forever. In Hong Kong, there is an insurgency. We know from the history of insurgencies that they die away -- and they come back. We have seen this in Hong Kong. The big protests in Hong Kong, remember, 2003, 2014, 2019. In those interim periods, everyone said, "Oh, the protest movement is gone." It wasn't. China has been very effective with its national security law, but there is still resistance in Hong Kong. There is still a lot of fight there. It may not manifest itself for quite some time, but this struggle is not over, especially if the United States stands behind the people there. Biden, although he campaigned on helping Hong Kong, has done nothing. On the second question, I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. The third thing, I would do what Pompeo did, just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China. We have taught the world that we are afraid of dealing with the Chinese. State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Tyler Durden Sun, 05/01/2022 - 23:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 2nd, 2022

Abcam Plc Results for the 12- and 18-month periods ended 31 December 2021

Growing demand for Abcam's portfolio of in-house products drives calendar 2021 revenues up by 22% at constant exchange rates Acquisition of BioVision completed 26 October 2021 CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom, March 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Abcam plc (NASDAQ:ABCM, AIM: ABC)) (‘Abcam', the ‘Group' or the ‘Company'), a global leader in the supply of life science research tools, today announces its final results for the 18-month period ended 31 December 2021 (the ‘period'). The Group's accounting reference date changed from 30 June to 31 December during the year1, therefore these financial statements report on both a 12- and 18-month period. SUMMARY PERFORMANCE £m, unless stated otherwise   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)(‘CY2021') 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)(‘CY2020')   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited) Revenue   315.4 269.3   462.9 Adjusted gross profit margin*, %   72.2% 70.0%   71.8% Reported operating profit   7.1 1.0   24.4 Adjusted operating profit**   60.4 50.6   95.5 Adjusted operating margin, %   19.2% 18.8%   20.6% Share-based payments related to pre-CY2021 schemes   (12.9) (13.3)   (22.0) Like-for-like adjusted operating profit (post share-based payments related to pre-CY2021 schemes)***   47.5 37.3   73.5 Like-for-like adjusted operating margin***, %   15.1% 13.9%   15.9% Net (Debt) / Cash****   (24.1) 211.9   (24.1) * Excludes the amortisation of the fair value of assets relating to the inventory acquired in connection with the acquisition of BioVision. ** Adjusted figures exclude impairment of intangible assets, systems and process improvement costs, acquisition costs, amortisation of fair value adjustments, integration and reorganisation costs, amortisation of acquisition intangibles, share-based payments and employer tax contributions thereon, the tax effect of adjusting items and credits from patent box claims. Such excluded items are described as ‘adjusting items'. Further information on these items is shown in note 4 to the consolidated financial statements. *** In previous reporting periods, share-based payments have not been included within adjusting items. With the approval of the Profitable Growth Incentive Plan (‘PGIP') during CY2021, management considers it to be more appropriate and more consistent with its closest comparable companies to include all share-based payments in adjusting items. To aid comparison with our previous presentation of results, we have included the adjusted operating margin in the table above on a like-for-like basis, excluding this change (‘Like-for-like'). **** Net Cash comprises cash and cash equivalents less borrowings. CY2021 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS1,2 Revenue growth of +22% (+17% reported) at constant exchange rates, compared to CY2020, including a 1%pt contribution from the acquisition of BioVision +38% total in-house CER revenue growth (including Custom Products & Licensing3 and   £2.6m of incremental revenue from BioVision) (+32% reported) Revenue from in-house products and services contributed 61% of total revenue (including Custom Products & Licensing3 and £2.6m of incremental revenue from BioVision) Adjusted2 gross margin increased by over 200 basis points to 72.2% (CY2020: 70.0%), benefiting from the contribution of higher margin in-house products and volume leverage resulting from the increase in revenue Adjusted2 operating profit of £60.4m (excluding share-based payments), equating to an adjusted operating margin of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%) Adjusted2 operating margin on a like-for-like4 basis improved over 300 basis points to 16.5% in H2 '21 (Jul-Dec), from 13.3% in H1 '21 (Jan-Jun) Statutory reported operating profit increased to £7.1m from £1.0m in CY2020 Net cash inflow from operating activities increased to £62.9m (CY2020: £58.9m) BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTS Focus on serving customers' needs globally as research activity levels continued to normalise and demand for Abcam products increased Positive customer transactional Net Promotor Score ('tNPS') of +56 (CY2021) and product satisfaction rates at all-time highs Completed the acquisition of BioVision, Inc (‘BioVision'), a leading innovator of biochemical and cell-based assays, in October 2021, for cash consideration of $340m (on a cash free, debt free basis) High employee engagement, with the business ranked in the Top 5 in the Glassdoor UK Employees' Choice Awards in January 2022, for the second year running Strengthened and expanded leadership in commercial and operational teams with senior hires in Commercial, Brand, China, and Supply Chain Expanded the Group's global presence, with the opening of new and enlarged sites in China, the US (Massachusetts, California, Oregon), Singapore, and Australia Upgraded supply chain systems at three locations, implemented new data architecture, and began transition to a new e-commerce platform, with completion of the digital transformation due in 2022 Completed the secondary US listing on Nasdaq's Global Market in October 2020 (supplementing existing listing on AIM on the London Stock Exchange) Expanded Asia, digital, and life science industry experience on the Board of Directors, with the appointments of Bessie Lee, Mark Capone and Sally Crawford, as Non-Executive Directors SHARE TRADING, LIQUIDITY AND LISTING Following our listing on Nasdaq in October 2020, the number of Abcam shares traded as ADSs on Nasdaq has doubled. While only 10% of our shares trade in the US market, it represents 25% of liquidity The Board continues to review options to increase share liquidity and intends to consult with shareholders on these options in due course CY2022 GUIDANCE Global lab activity continues to recover, though some uncertainty remains CY2022 trading performance YTD is in line with our expectations Expect total CER5 revenue growth of c.20% (including BioVision) with mid-teens organic CER revenue growth Expect continued adjusted gross margin improvement from the contribution of higher margin in-house products and full year impact of the BioVision acquisition Expect total adjusted operating cost growth (including depreciation and amortisation) at mid-teens percentage, as we slow rate of investment and leverage recent investments LONG TERM GOALS TO CY2024 CY2024 revenue goal target range increased by £25m to £450m-£525m, adjusted to incorporate BioVision6 and current operating performance Adjusted operating margin and ROCE targets remain unchanged Commenting on today's results, Alan Hirzel, Abcam's Chief Executive Officer, said: "I am grateful to everyone at Abcam for their dedicated effort through this most challenging time and thank our customers and partners for their ongoing trust and support. We have had another successful year operationally and financially despite the ongoing challenges. As we look ahead to 2022, we expect to create more innovation and success out of the past two years of investment as we installed elements of Abcam's long term growth strategy. The scientific community remains our guide and with their support we are becoming a more influential and trusted brand globally." Analyst and investor meeting and webcast: Abcam will host a conference call and webcast for analysts and investors today at 13:00 GMT/ 09:00 EDT. For details, and to register, please visit corporate.abcam.com/investors/reports-presentations A recording of the webcast will be made available on Abcam's website, corporate.abcam.com/investors Notes: On 2 June 2021, Abcam announced that it had changed its accounting reference date from 30 June to 31 December. Following this extension, these financial statements are for the 18-month period ended 31 December 2021. To assist understanding of the company's underlying performance, like-for-like financial information for the 12-month periods ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') and 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020') have also been provided. These results include discussion of alternative performance measures which include revenues calculated at Constant Exchange Rates (CER) and adjusted financial measures. CER results are calculated by applying prior period's actual exchange rates to this period's results. Adjusted financial measures are explained in note 2 and reconciled to the most directly comparable measure prepared in accordance with IFRS in note 4 to the interim financial statements. Custom Products & Licensing (CP&L) revenue comprises custom service revenue, revenue from the supply of IVD products and royalty and licence income. In previous reporting periods, share-based payments have not been included within adjusting items. With the approval of the Profitable Growth Incentive Plan (‘PGIP') during CY2021, management considers it to be more appropriate and more consistent with its closest comparable companies to include all share-based payments in adjusting items. To aid comparison with our previous presentation of results, we also calculate adjusted operating margin on a like-for-like basis, excluding this change (‘Like-for-like'). Average CY2021 exchange rates to GBP as follows: USD: 1.378; EUR: 1.159, RMB: 8.891, JPY: 150.7 Last 12-month BioVision recurring revenues of £17.8m at point of acquisition, adjusted for non-recurring COVID-19 related revenues, and sales to Abcam during that period. The information communicated in this announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014. For further information please contact: Abcam + 44 (0) 1223 696 000 Alan Hirzel, Chief Executive OfficerMichael Baldock, Chief Financial OfficerJames Staveley, Vice President, Investor Relations       Numis – Nominated Advisor & Joint Corporate Broker + 44 (0) 20 7260 1000 Garry Levin / Freddie Barnfield / Duncan Monteith       Morgan Stanley – Joint Corporate Broker + 44 (0) 207 425 8000 Tom Perry / Luka Kezic       FTI Consulting + 44 (0) 20 3727 1000 Ben Atwell / Julia Bradshaw   This announcement shall not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. This announcement is not an offer of securities for sale in the United States, and the securities referred to herein may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Any public offering of such securities to be made in the United States will be made by means of a prospectus that may be obtained from the issuer, which would contain detailed information about the company and management, as well as financial statements. Forward Looking StatementsThis announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any express or implied statements contained in this announcement that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements, including, without limitation statements of targets, plans, objectives or goals for future operations, including those related to Abcam's products, product research, product development, product introductions and sales forecasts; statements containing projections of or targets for revenues, costs, income (or loss), earnings per share, capital expenditures, dividends, capital structure, net financials and other financial measures; statements regarding future economic and financial performance; statements regarding the scheduling and holding of general meetings and AGMs; statements regarding the assumptions underlying or relating to such statements; statements about Abcam's portfolio and ambitions, as well as statements that include the words "expect," "intend," "plan," "believe," "project," "forecast," "estimate," "may," "should," "anticipate" and similar statements of a future or forward-looking nature. Forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, including, without limitation: a regional or global health pandemic, including the novel coronavirus ("COVID-19"), which has adversely affected elements of our business, could severely affect our business, including due to impacts on our operations and supply chains; challenges in implementing our strategies for revenue growth in light of competitive challenges; developing new products and enhancing existing products, adapting to significant technological change and responding to the introduction of new products by competitors to remain competitive; failing to successfully identify or integrate acquired businesses or assets into our operations or fully recognize the anticipated benefits of businesses or assets that we acquire; if our customers discontinue or spend less on research, development, production or other scientific endeavours; failing to successfully use, access and maintain information systems and implement new systems to handle our changing needs; cyber security risks and any failure to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of our computer hardware, software and internet applications and related tools and functions; we have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and failure to comply with requirements to design, implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could have a material adverse effect on our business; failing to successfully manage our current and potential future growth; any significant interruptions in our operations; if our products fail to satisfy applicable quality criteria, specifications and performance standards; failing to maintain our brand and reputation; our dependence upon management and highly skilled employees and our ability to attract and retain these highly skilled employees; and the important factors discussed under the caption "Risk Factors" in Abcam's prospectus pursuant to Rule 424(b) filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on 22 October 2020, which is on file with the SEC and is available on the SEC website at www.sec.gov, as such factors may be updated from time to time in Abcam's other filings with the SEC. Any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement speak only as of the date hereof and accordingly undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Abcam disclaims any obligation or undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, other than to the extent required by applicable law.The Group has changed its year end to December 31 and, as a result, this year's results present an 18-month accounting period, which ended on 31 December 2021. The comparison to the previously reported 12 months ended 30 June 2020 presents substantial period-on-period increases due to the longer period of account in the current reporting period and provides little helpful insight into the underlying performance of the business. To provide more useful commentary, both the CEO and CFO reviews largely focus on the financial and operating performance of the business in the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') compared to the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020'). The audited financial statements in the back of this report contain statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 and a comparison to the year ended 30 June 2020. CEO Report Moving forward with courage and hope As we continue to grapple with the challenges of our times, I am convinced that for all of us in the science community, the only way to move forward is with courage and hope. Over the last several decades, the positive impact of life science on the human condition has been profound. For example, across every income level and every country where there has not been a catastrophe, life expectancy has increased by nearly 20 years since the 1960s. Life science, medical discovery and innovation have been central to this health and social progress. In the last two decades, since the sequencing of the human genome, research in life sciences has more than doubled, and with it the potential to make even more progress. New discoveries can take 10 years or more to make a tangible difference and I am hopeful that our children will reap greater benefits in health and lifespan in the years to come. As I think about these inspiring achievements, alongside the development of our own business, I am determined to ensure Abcam continues to innovate and play a key role in helping our customers reach their scientific and career goals. We remain resolutely focused on enabling scientists to make breakthroughs faster, with better quality research tools and a passion for collaboration. It won't stop there either. We see a greater role for Abcam to accelerate the transition of discovery to clinical and social impact. I have always believed in the power of collaboration and the global response to the pandemic has shown the benefits of such collaboration. With the challenges ahead we will find ways for researchers, funders, publishers, tools companies, translational researchers, clinicians, diagnostics companies, pharmaceutical companies, and regulators to work together in common purpose as one. Improvements our business has made in product performance and consistency and our expanding network of commercial relationships are significantly reducing the time from first discovery to a better patient outcome. We look to put more effort toward this collaborative approach as we build our business. This collaborative spirit is also championed within our teams. Efforts we have been making to improve inclusion and diversity have amplified more voices through groups led by our people and outreach activities in our communities. Despite everything we faced in 2021, and the disturbing geopolitical aggression in Europe at the start of 2022, we see this period as an exciting time for proteomics research. I remain confident that Abcam is well positioned to influence and improve the journeys from discovery to impact, while sustaining value creation for all stakeholders. Our performance We achieved the major strategic, operational and financial goals we set for the business in the period and continued to make significant operational changes and to implement our growth strategy. Feedback from our customers was excellent, with a customer tNPS of +56 (CY2021). Sales of our in-house products grew strongly as we scaled up our capability here. Because these are sold at a higher margin, we started to feel the benefits of increased operational leverage. The business transition to 2024 is nearly complete and we will soon be able to fully reap the benefits of what we have been building over recent years.   Indeed, the biggest contributor to Abcam's growth and value and the main reason why we are winning more market share is the portfolio of proprietary products developed and manufactured at Abcam. This burgeoning in-house library of recombinant antibodies, immunoassays, conjugation products, proteins, and cell lines is offering customers the right products, to the right pathways, with a promise to go the distance from discovery to clinic. Customer demand for this portfolio drove in-house product revenue to £174m in CY2021 (CY2020: £129m), equivalent to 41% annual CER growth (36% excluding BioVision). Our investment of 14% of revenue (own product) back into R&D (including capitalised product development) is helping us sustain the growth and higher customer satisfaction in these areas. The BioVision acquisition in October 2021 added one of our largest suppliers to the in-house portfolio, with strengths in biochemical and cell-based assay kits. Business integration is moving ahead as planned and we expect it to provide further innovation opportunities within this portfolio. Risks around the global pandemic remain – as evidenced by the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021 – but data suggests that overall lab activity increased consistently during 2021 in our largest markets. Progress toward our strategic goals We aim to deliver consistent, durable growth and performance in a responsible way. Despite the continued disruption of COVID-19, we have seen sustained progress during the period as we continue to deliver on the growth strategy announced in November 2019. Strategic KPI performance (in-house product revenue growth and customer transactional net promotor score) was positive, feedback on our products has never been stronger, and we continue to make market share gains worldwide. At the same time, we are focused on ensuring the significant investment made in our innovation capabilities, systems and processes, facilities, and people support our long-term growth aspirations. As we seek to further strengthen our position as the partner of choice for our customers and partners, we have made further progress against each of the following strategic goals to drive sustained organic growth set out in 2019: 1. Sustain and extend antibody and digital leadership 2. Drive continued expansion into complementary market adjacencies 3. Build organisational scalability and sustain value creation Innovation and our impact on scientific progress Our product portfolio enables breakthrough proteomics discovery by our customers and partners. They are working to innovate and discover proteomic mechanisms such as the role of signaling and regulatory proteins in biological pathways – ultimately leading to diagnostics and treatments for diseases such as cancer and immune deficiency disorders. Their success depends on rigorous product performance and reliability, and it's these factors that continue to guide our innovation efforts. Since 2019, we have put more resources into innovating faster in antibodies and immunoassays, and we have complemented these areas with new product categories such as conjugation kits, proteins/cytokines, engineered cell lines, and now a range of BioVision cellular and biochemical assays. In total, new products introduced since 2019 represented approximately 7% of 2021 revenue (CY2021) and our own-product revenues (including Custom Products & Licensing) contributed over 60% of total revenue in the last 12 months. We are confident that our customer data insights and our approach to innovation and marketing underly this strong growth driver from internal innovation. In CY2021, our teams developed and launched over 2,500 high-quality antibody products, including recombinant RabMAb antibodies, antibody pairs, SimpleStep ELISA kits and new formulations that enable faster labelling and assay development. These new product introductions combined to meet two objectives for our new product development: fill unmet needs in research and increase product quality. As we have developed our high throughput innovation capability, we have also made bolder moves to delist third party supplied product that doesn't meet our customer quality needs. Together, these actions have substantially improved Abcam's quality and our overall brand preference. According to the most recently available industry data, these innovations and other initiatives have led Abcam to become the most cited antibody company. Abcam products were cited more than 70,000 times in scientific journals in 2020 and the business now has a citation share of over 22%, up approximately two percentage points on the previous year (source: CiteAb, based on over 300,000 recorded citations for 2020 as of February 2022). Most importantly, we have seen a continued strengthening of customer feedback during the period, with product satisfaction rates at all-time highs (rolling 12-month period to 31 December 2021). Extending Abcam's leadership in research antibodies has provided a strong foundation to expand into adjacent product categories used in protein research. We took our first adjacent product category move in 2014 with the introduction of proprietary immunoassays. In total these (non-primary antibody) product categories now contribute over 30% of total revenue. In CY2021, total CER revenue growth from these categories was 32% demonstrating the progress made developing these capabilities and the growing customer interest in these high-quality product portfolios. Other, newer product categories have had less time to develop than either our antibody or immunoassay portfolio, but we are seeing similar growth performance and opportunities here. Extending the impact of our innovation through partnership and collaboration Across the translational research, drug discovery and clinical markets, we are focused on strengthening our position as a leading discovery partner to organisations looking to access high quality antibodies and antibody expertise for commercial use within their products and assays – a philosophy we refer to as ‘Abcam Inside'. The period has seen good progress in this regard, with continued growth in the adoption of our products for use on third party instrumentation platforms, or by partners for their use in the development of clinical products. We established several new platform partnerships during the period while significantly expanding existing co-development programmes with current partners, including recently announced strategic partnerships with Alamar and Nautilus Biotechnology. We also grew our specialty antibody portfolio – signing 85 new outbound commercial agreements in CY2021 with organisations that have the potential to lead to new diagnostic or therapeutic tools in years to come. To date, approximately 1,000 of our antibodies are now validated for commercial use on third party platforms or as diagnostic tools, with over 3,000 more currently undergoing evaluation by our partners. We believe both areas remain significant long-term opportunities for the Group. Building a scalable enterprise Over the last two years our teams have been putting ideas, know-how, and capital to work installing new capabilities as we build scalability into our operational infrastructure, including our manufacturing and logistics footprint and IT backbone and digital capabilities to support our growth. At the same time, global supply chains have faced significant challenges primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These additional pressures have been resolved by additional investment in manufacturing equipment and processes, while also introducing additional shift patterns in order to achieve better use of our resources. Further progress is expected as we pursue changes to our processes, including quality control, kit development and logistics as well as benefits expected from our integrated business planning process. We also completed several important global footprint initiatives in the period, with site moves or upgrades completed in Boston, Fremont, and Eugene in the USA; Hangzhou and Shanghai in China; Adelaide in Australia; Amsterdam in the Netherlands as well as relocating our Hong Kong operations to Singapore. These initiatives enable more efficient customer service, manufacturing, supply chain and logistics processes; create additional capacity needed to meet our growth objectives; and reduce risks that were identified in our ongoing risk management process. Across our IT and digital infrastructure, roll-out of the final stages of our ERP renewal programme continued, covering manufacturing and supply chain. Systems have now been successfully deployed across the Group's major manufacturing hubs, with final deployments in other small sites due for completion in 2022. At the same time, development of the next generation of our customer-facing digital platform has continued. The new platform is being designed to enable a step change to the customer experience, supporting dynamic content, a more personalised experience and driving enhanced search and traffic. Beta-testing in select markets was launched during the year and we remain on track to launch the new site in 2022. Sustaining social and financial value creation Our impact flows from our vision and purpose, which ultimately lead to a positive impact on the world: helping the scientific community accelerate breakthroughs in human healthcare. The more successful we can be as a business, therefore, the greater the difference we can make in the world. Our vision to be the most influential life sciences company comes with a commitment to the highest ethical standards, not just in our own conduct, but across our value chain. We have made further progress against each of our four priority areas (those seen as most important to sustaining value creation, namely: Products; People; Partners; and Planet) and were pleased to be ranked first by Sustainalytics, a leading ESG ratings agency, across its universe of more than 1,000 healthcare companies globally. Full details of our commitments, performance and progress will be provided in our 2021 Impact Report to be published in April and made available on our corporate website (corporate.abcam.com/sustainability). Of course, the ability of Abcam and our industry to continue to thrive will depend on future generations of scientists and so it's exciting to see that more young people than ever are taking STEM subjects. I am proud of Abcam's support in this area through our work with In2Science UK and The Henrietta Lacks Foundation. We have also made significant progress on our diversity and inclusion during the period. A new D&I strategy was launched alongside the establishment of multiple Employee Resource Groups, an enhanced family leave policy, and the introduction of diversity and inclusion targets that are tied to senior management compensation. These and other initiatives ensure that we are building an exceptional workplace for our teams, and it was pleasing to once again be recognised by Glassdoor as one of the top 5 employers in the UK in 2021. Attractive outlook We remain on track to achieve the five-year plan that we set out in 2019. In 2022, we will complete a few large-scale tasks to help us scale the business over the next decade. Once those are complete, the agenda for the year will largely focus on refining what we have installed, learning from the market, and making adjustments to drive double digit revenue growth and improve profit margins. With the addition of BioVision and adjustments for ongoing revenue, plus our confidence in the performance of the business, we have raised our revenue target for 2024 to a range of £450m-£525m, representing growth rates that are two to three times our underlying market and reflect the durable growth of Abcam. None of this attractive outlook could happen without great energy and effort by everyone involved. I thank our colleagues for their unwavering dedication, our customers for the trust they place in us, and our board of directors and our shareholders for their continued support. Alan HirzelCEO CFO Report The Group has changed its year end to 31 December. As a result, this year's results will present an 18-month accounting period, which ended on 31 December 2021. As a result, the comparison to the previously reported 12 months ended 30 June 2020 presents substantial period-on-period increases due to the longer period of account in the current reporting period and provides little helpful insight into the performance of the business during 2021. In order to provide a more useful comparison, this review largely focuses on the comparison of the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (‘CY2021') to the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (‘CY2020'). The audited financial statements in the back of this report contains the statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 and a comparison to the year ended 30 June 2020. In preparing the CY2020 and CY2021 balances, the Group has applied consistently its accounting policies as disclosed within note 1. Although CY2020 and CY2021 are not audited financial periods within these financial statements, the balances have been extracted from the Group's underlying accounting records and reconciled in line with previously disclosed statements. For further information on the composition of CY2020 and CY2021, refer to the ‘Basis of preparation' section in the back of this report. The CFO's Report and Financial Review includes discussion of alternative performance measures which are defined further in the Notes to the Preliminary Financial Information. These measures include adjusted financial measures, which are explained in note 1b and reconciled to the most directly comparable measure prepared in accordance with IFRS in note 4. Further detail on the Group's financial performance is set out in the Preliminary Financial Information and notes thereto. Constant exchange rates ("CER") growth is calculated by applying the applicable prior period average exchange rate to the Group's actual performance in the respective period. Continued strong performance The Group reported revenue for CY2021 of £315.4m (CY2020: £269.3m), a CER growth rate of 22%. This figure includes a contribution of approximately one percentage point, or £2.6m, from BioVision following the acquisition's completion on 27 October 2021. Growth in revenue from our own, in-house (catalogue) products was 41% (CER) for CY2021, including a four-percentage point contribution from BioVision. While laboratories continued to relax COVID-19 related restrictions during the period, and data indicates overall lab activity levels increased through 2021, activity had not fully returned to pre-COVID levels by the end of the period due to the emergence of the Omicron variant in late 2021. Adjusted operating profit (before all share-based payment costs) for CY2021 was up 19%, to £60.4m (CY2020: £50.6m). This equates to an adjusted operating profit margin (excluding share-based payments) of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%). After share-based payment charges related to share incentive schemes in force prior to the start of the year, of £12.9m, like-for-like adjusted operating profit was £47.5m, equivalent to an adjusted operating profit margin of 15.1% (CY2020: 13.9%). Total revenue and adjusted operating profit for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was £462.9m and £95.5m respectively. The Group's statutory results for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 are covered in more detail in our audited financial statements contained herein. Investing in future growth Despite the disruption inflicted on our customers and industry by COVID-19, the long-term opportunities for growth across our markets continue to strengthen and, consistent with the strategic plans we set out in November 2019, we have further invested in our business through the period to capture these opportunities. Our global team increased to approximately 1,750 colleagues by the end of 2021 (31 December 2020: 1,600) and, overall, total adjusted operating costs in CY2021 rose 21% to £167.3m. We also committed a further £47m in capital expenditure (net of landlord contributions) during CY2021 to growth and scaling opportunities across the business, including capitalised product innovation, global footprint enhancements – including the opening of our flagship US site in Waltham, Massachusetts – and the implementation of the final stages of our ERP implementation. Underpinning our invest-to-grow strategy is our robust balance sheet and financial position. Net cash generation from operating activities increased to £62.9m in CY2021 (CY2020: £58.9m) and we ended the period with a small net debt position of £24.1m. Operational leverage and increased profitability As expected, over the last two years the Group's profit margins have been suppressed by the effects of both COVID-19 and the implementation of the Group's five-year growth plan. Many of our major investment plans are now substantially complete, and as we look forward, we expect to see the rate of investment reduce and the resultant delivery of operational leverage as the value of our investments are realised. We are pleased with the progress made over the most recent six-month period, where our adjusted operating margin (excluding share-based payments) was 20.3% as compared to 17.8% for the first six months of CY2021 (or 16.5% in H2 compared to 13.3% in H1 on a ‘like-for-like' basis, including share-based payments relating to pre-2021 share plans). As we look forward, we expect this operating leverage to continue to levels consistent with those levels laid out in our five-year growth plan, with a goal to reach over 30% in CY2024. Acquisition of BioVision In July 2021, we announced the signing of an agreement to acquire BioVision for $340m on a cash-free, debt-free basis. The purchase closed in October 2021, and we are now working on the integration, building on our combined expertise, and enhancing our presence in cell based and metabolic assays. To support the financing of the acquisition, we drew down approximately £120m on our revolving credit facility in October 2021. US Nasdaq listing The Group successfully added a secondary US listing on Nasdaq in October 2020, supplementing its existing admission to trading on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market whilst raising approximately £127m ($180m). The listing supports the Group's plans to enhance liquidity in our shares, attract a greater number of US-based life science and growth investors and provide the Group with an acquisition currency in the US market. We were pleased with the demand for the offering from long-term, life science investors. Interest has grown since, with the number of American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in issue doubling. The board continues to review options to increase share liquidity and to ensure investor demand is met, and intends to consult with shareholders on these options in due course. Outlook, 2022 guidance and long-term goals to 2024 We have made good progress in many areas during the year and our top line performance has seen good momentum coming out of the pandemic. Whilst short-term returns on our core business have inevitably been reduced by COVID-19 and our investments, I am confident in a continuation of the trajectory we have seen over the last six months, and the potential return our organic and inorganic investments will generate over the medium- and long-term. CY2022 Guidance Global lab activity continues to recover, though some uncertainty remains, with trading performance in the first two months of CY2022 in line with our expectations. For CY2022 overall, we currently estimate total reported revenue to increase by approximately 20% on a constant exchange rate basis, including the impact from the acquisition of BioVision, with organic CER growth of mid-teens. We expect continued adjusted gross margin improvement through CY2022, due to the contribution of higher margin in-house products and the full year effect of BioVision transaction. Total adjusted operating costs (including depreciation and amortisation) are expected to grow at a mid-teens percentage rate, as we slow the rate of investment and leverage our recent investments. Long-term goals to CY2024The Group expects to deliver improving operating leverage as the pace of investment graduates. We are increasing our 2024 revenue goal by £25m to £450m-£525m, adjusting to incorporate BioVision and our current operating performance. Our adjusted operating margin and ROCE targets remain unchanged. This commentary represents management's current estimates and is subject to change. See the Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements on page 3 of this release. Summary Performance   Reported Results   Adjusted Results   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31Dec 2021(unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31Dec 2020 (unaudited) £m Revenue 462.9 260.0 315.4 269.3   462.9 260.0 315.4 269.3                     Gross profit 329.2 180.2 224.6 188.5   332.3 180.2 227.7 188.5 Gross profit margin (%) 71.1% 69.3% 71.2% 70.0%   71.8% 69.3% 72.2% 70.0%                     Operating profit 24.4 10.4 7.1 1.0   95.5 54.0 60.4 50.6 Operating profit margin (%) 5.3% 4.0% 2.3% 0.4%   20.6% 20.8% 19.2% 18.8%                     Earnings per share                   Basic earnings / (loss) per share 7.7p 6.0p 1.9p (0.4)p   33.2p 20.5p 20.8p 18.0p Diluted earnings / (loss) per share 7.6p 6.0p 1.9p (0.4)p   32.9p 20.3p 20.6p 17.8p                     Net (debt)/cash at end of the year1 (24.1) 80.9 (24.1) 211.9   (24.1) 80.9 (24.1) 211.9 Return on Capital Employed 3.1% 1.6% 0.9% 0.1%   12.0% 8.3% 7.6% 6.6% 1. Excludes lease liabilities Calendar Year Results The Group has prepared the following Calendar Year results to enable a more consistent like-for-like review of the trading performance of the business. The Calendar Year results are an Alternative Performance Measure and cover the trading period for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (CY2021) compared with the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (CY2020). The basis of preparation applied to the Calendar Year results together with a reconciliation to the Group's Statutory IFRS Results are provided at the end of this report. Consolidated statement of profit and loss for the 12 months ended 31 December   CY2021(unaudited)   CY2020(unaudited) £m Adjusted Adjusting items Reported   Adjusted Adjusting items Reported Revenue 315.4 - 315.4   269.3 - 269.3 Cost of sales (87.7) (3.1) (90.8)   (80.8) - (80.8) Gross profit 227.7 (3.1) 224.6   188.5 - 188.5 Selling, general and administrative expenses (150.6) (39.1) (189.7)   (120.6) (23.9) (144.5) Research and development expenses (16.7) (11.1) (27.8)   (17.3) (25.7) (43.0) Operating profit 60.4 (53.3) 7.1   50.6 (49.6) 1.0 Finance income 0.3 - 0.3   0.4 - 0.4 Finance costs (2.7) - (2.7)   (3.6) - (3.6) Profit / (loss) before tax 58.0 (53.3) 4.7   47.4 (49.6) (2.2) Tax credit / (charge) (10.8) 10.5 (0.3)   (8.8) 10.1 1.3 Profit / (loss) for the financial period 47.2 (42.8) 4.4   38.6 (39.5) (0.9) Consolidated cashflow statement for the 12 months ended 31 December £m CY2021(unaudited) CY2020(unaudited) Operating cash flows before working capital 68.2 63.0 Change in working capital 4.0 (7.8) Cash generated from operations 72.2 55.2 Income taxes paid (9.3) 3.7 Net cash inflow from operating activities 62.9 58.9 Net cash inflow / (outflow) from investing activities (291.5) (153.7) Net cash inflow from financing activities 111.4 116.0 Net (decrease) / increase in cash and cash equivalents (117.2) 21.2 Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period 211.9 189.9 Effect of foreign exchange rates 0.4 0.8 Cash and cash equivalents at end of the period 95.1 211.9       Free Cash Flow * 6.0 5.6 * Free Cash Flow comprises net cash generated from operating activities less net capital expenditure, cash flows relating to committed capital expenditure and outflows in respect of lease obligations Financial review Revenue   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 Jun 2020 (audited) £m   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m 12 month % Change CER CY2021 % Split** Catalogue revenue by region               The Americas 163.7 96.8   112.4 95.3 26% 38% EMEA 121.5 68.4   82.3 73.2 15% 28% China 84.4 39.1   57.1 42.7 34% 19% Japan 28.4 18.8   18.6 19.3 5% 6% Rest of Asia Pacific 34.8 20.0   23.4 21.0 17% 8% Catalogue revenue sub-total* 432.8 243.1   293.8 251.5 22% 100% In-house catalogue revenue* 245.0 114.4   171.5 128.8 39% 58% Third party catalogue revenue 187.8 128.7   122.3 122.7 4% 42%                 Custom products and services 8.4 6.3   5.7 5.7 6% 30% IVD 8.9 4.7   6.3 5.9 15% 33% Royalties and licenses 10.2 5.9   7.0 6.2 20% 37% Custom Products & Licensing (CP&L) sub-total 27.5 16.9   19.0 17.8 14% 100%                 BioVision 2.6 -   2.6 -     Total reported revenue 462.9 260.0   315.4 269.3 22%   * Includes BioVision product sales sold through Abcam channels post closing of the transaction on 26 October 2021 but excludes incremental BioVision sales sold through non-Abcam channels of £2.6m. ** Numbers may not add up due to rounding In the 18-month statutory reporting period ended 31 December 2021, the Group generated revenue of £462.9m, which represents an increase of 78% on the results for the 12 months ended 30 June 2020, reflecting the extended accounting period. The Directors believe underlying business performance is better understood by comparing the performance for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 (CY2021) and the 12 months ended 31 December 2020 (CY2020). In CY2021 revenue was £315.4m, representing CER growth of 22% and reported growth of 17%, after a 5%pt headwind from foreign currency exchange. The acquisition of BioVision added approximately 1%pt to revenue growth. Revenue growth continues to be driven by a recovery in laboratory activity from the depressed levels experienced in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and by increasing demand for our growing portfolio of in-house products. Catalogue revenue grew 23% CER in CY2021 compared with CY2020 (18% reported), with revenue growth from our in-house products of 41% CER including BioVision (35% reported) or 36% CER excluding BioVision. Except for Japan, which suffered greater COVID-19 related disruption, all major territories grew at double digit rates, with China, which now accounts for 19.4% of revenue, the fastest growing region with CER growth of 34%. Custom Products & Licensing (‘CP&L') revenue, rose 14% on a CER basis (7% reported). Within CP&L, IVD and royalty and license sales grew double digit on a CER basis as the number of out-licensed products and commercial deals continues to grow, whilst custom projects returned to growth as customer activity levels improved following a more muted period of activity due to COVID-19. Gross margin   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)% 12 months ended 30 Jun 2020 (audited)%   12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)% 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)% Reported Gross Margin 71.1 69.3   71.2 70.0 Amortisation of fair value adjustments 0.7 -   1.0 - Adjusted Gross Margin 71.8 69.3   72.2 70.0 Reported gross margin for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was 71.1%. Reported gross margin for the period was impacted by the fair value adjustment of BioVision inventory following the acquisition, totaling £6.0m. Approximately half, or £3.1m, of this cost was amortised in the period, with the balance of £2.9m to be amortised in CY2022. Before this impact, adjusted gross margin for CY2021 increased by just over 2 percentage points to 72.2% (CY2020: 70.0%), reflecting a favourable movement in product mix towards high margin in-house products, as well as volume leverage resulting from the increase in revenue. In-house product sales (including CP&L revenue) contributed 61% of total revenue in CY2021 (CY2020: 54%). Operating profit Operating profit for CY2021 increased to £7.1m (CY2020: £1.0m). Adjusted operating profit for the same 12-month period increased to £60.4m (CY2020: £50.6m), representing an adjusted operating profit margin of 19.2% (CY2020: 18.8%) reflecting the Group's planned investment, the impact of COVID-19, and the step up in depreciation and amortisation. The calculation of adjusted operating profit has been updated to exclude share-based payments of £20.0m and £13.3m in CY2021 and CY2020 respectively. A reconciliation between reported and adjusted operating profit is provided in note 4 to the financial statements. Reported operating profit for the 18 months ended 31 December 2021 was £24.4m (12 months to 30 June 2020: £10.4m). Operating costs and expenses   Reported   Adjusted*   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated) £m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited) £m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m   18 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (audited)£m 12 months ended 30 June 2020 (audited, restated)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2021 (unaudited)£m 12 months ended 31 Dec 2020 (unaudited)£m Selling, general & administrative (263.3) (131.5) (189.7) (144.5)   (211.5) (111.5) (150.6) (120.6) Research and development (41.5) (38.3) (27.8) (43.0)   (25.3) (14.7) (16.7) (17.3) Total operating costs and expenses (304.8) (169.8) (217.5) (187.5)   (236.8).....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMar 14th, 2022

Cop Who Killed Ashli Babbitt Was Cleared Of Criminal Wrongdoing Without Interview

Cop Who Killed Ashli Babbitt Was Cleared Of Criminal Wrongdoing Without Interview Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations, When U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd went on “NBC Nightly News” to tell his side of shooting and killing unarmed Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt, he made a point to note he’d been investigated by several agencies and exonerated for his actions that day. “There’s an investigative process [and] I was cleared by the DOJ [Department of Justice], and FBI and [the D.C.] Metropolitan Police,” he told NBC News anchor Lester Holt in August, adding that the Capitol Police also cleared him of wrongdoing and decided not to discipline or demote him for the shooting. Above, Lt. Michael Byrd, the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, told NBC News he gave fair warning, but under penalty of perjury he refused to say anything to investigators. Byrd then answered a series of questions by Holt about the shooting, but what he told the friendly journalist, he likely never told investigators. That’s because he refused to answer their questions, according to several sources and documents reviewed by RealClearInvestigations. Ashli Babbitt: Her family calls the rushed Byrd investigation a “whitewash" and a "coverup" of misconduct by the officer.  Maryland MVA/Calvert County Sheriff's Office/AP In fact, investigators cleared Byrd of wrongdoing in the shooting without actually interviewing him about the shooting or threatening him with punishment if he did not cooperate with their criminal investigation. “He didn’t provide any statement to [criminal] investigators and they didn’t push him to make a statement,” Babbitt family attorney Terry Roberts said in an RCI interview. “It’s astonishing how skimpy his investigative file is." Roberts, who has spoken with the D.C. MPD detective assigned to the case, said the kid-glove treatment of Byrd raises suspicions the investigation was a “whitewash.” The lawyer's account appears to be backed up by a January 2021 internal affairs report, which notes Byrd "declined to provide a statement,” D.C. MPD documents show. Terry Roberts, Babbitt family attorney:  “It’s astonishing how skimpy his investigative file is." Roberts & Wood Asked about it, a D.C. MPD spokeswoman confirmed that Byrd did not cooperate with internal affairs agents or FBI agents, who jointly investigated what was one of the most high-profile officer-involved shooting cases in U.S. history. “MPD did not formally interview Lt. Byrd,” deputy D.C. MPD communications director Kristen Metzger said. And, “He didn’t give a statement while under the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation.” Lt. Michael Byrd: Pistol drawn in the House chamber just before the Babbitt shooting. Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News After Byrd declined to cooperate with D.C MPD Internal Affairs Division’s investigation, which was led by Det. John Hendrick, his case eventually was turned over to the USCP for a final administrative review of whether or not his actions conformed with department policies and training. Still, USCP concluded in August that “the officer’s conduct was lawful and within department policy.” The agency launched its administrative investigation after the criminal investigation was closed. In April, within four months of the shooting, Byrd was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Justice Department, which declined to impanel a grand jury to hear evidence in a departure from other lethal police-shooting cases involving unarmed citizens. Taking deadly aim: Byrd was cleared after refusing to answer investigators' questions. nbcsandiego.com Justice ruled there “was not enough evidence” to conclude Byrd violated Babbitt’s civil rights or willfully acted recklessly in shooting her.  Byrd remains the commander in charge of security for the House of Representatives. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department would comment on whether they pressed Byrd after he insisted on remaining silent. The D.C. police force, which shares some jurisdiction with the Capitol Police, takes the lead in internal affairs probes like this one. Roberts questioned how investigators could find that Byrd acted in self-defense and properly followed his training procedures, including issuing warnings before shooting Babbitt, since he refused to talk about it while the investigation was open -- and his statements, unlike those made to NBC, would have been taken under penalty of perjury. “How would they know if they never interviewed him?” he said, adding that it’s not enough to say an officer did nothing wrong without showing how it reached such a finding. Troy Nehls, Texas Republican and former sheriff: “Many officers in the USCP I have spoken to believe the investigations of Lt. Boyd were dropped because of his position and other political considerations." nehls.house.gov By avoiding an interrogation, he said Byrd avoided saying anything that could have been used to incriminate him, including making false statements to federal agents, which would be a felony. Remarkably, he did not formally invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, according to people familiar with his case, which makes the reluctance of authorities to lean on him or sanction him for not cooperating all the more puzzling. By law, federal agencies can use leverage short of termination, such as an unwelcome duty reassignment, to persuade employees to cooperate with investigators. Byrd was put on paid administrative leave during the investigative process. Byrd waited to speak publicly until after his statements could no longer be used against him in a criminal probe. The heavily promoted NBC “exclusive” told only his account of what happened with no opposing viewpoints. “I believe I showed the utmost courage on Jan. 6,” Byrd said. In defending his actions, Byrd told Holt things he evidently wouldn’t tell investigators, including his claim that he shot as “a last resort” and only after warning Babbitt to stop. However, documents uncovered by Judicial Watch reveal that eyewitnesses — including three police officers at the scene — told investigators they did not hear Byrd give Babbitt any verbal warnings prior to firing, contradicting what Byrd told NBC. The Babbitt family has maintained that the rushed investigation amounted to a "coverup" of misconduct by the officer. It says the federal probe was conducted under political pressure, arguing that Byrd was not put through the normal rigors of a police shooting investigation to avoid making a martyr of Babbitt, an avid Donald Trump supporter. An Air Force veteran from California, Babbitt died while wearing a Trump flag as a cape. The former president has demanded the Justice Department reinvestigate her death. Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas, a former sheriff, argued Babbitt’s shooting should have been presented to a federal grand jury. “This case was mishandled from the very beginning,” the Republican lawmaker told the U.S. attorney who led the probe for the Justice Department in a recent letter. In a separate letter to the Capitol Police chief, Nehls wrote: “Many officers in the USCP I have spoken to believe the investigations of Lt. Boyd were dropped because of his position and other political considerations." Use-of-Force Experts Skeptical Some use-of-force experts are skeptical Byrd did the right thing, even after watching his largely sympathetic NBC interview. “The limited public information that exists raises serious questions about the propriety of Byrd’s decision to shoot, especially with regard to the assessment that Babbitt was an imminent threat,” said police consultants and criminologists Geoffrey Alpert, Jeff Noble and Seth Stoughton in a recent Lawfare article.“We have serious reservations about the propriety of the shooting,” they wrote. They said they doubted Byrd’s claims that he reasonably believed Babbitt “was posing a threat” and had the ability and intention to kill or seriously injure Byrd or other officers or lawmakers and therefore had to be stopped with lethal force. They noted that he admitted to Holt that he never actually saw Babbitt, who stood 5-foot-2 and weighed 110 pounds, brandish a weapon. Babbitt was shot by Byrd a year ago when she and other pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol amid efforts to stop Congress from certifying the state results of the 2020 election of Joe Biden. They sought to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from Arizona and other states, where narrow results were challenged by Trump and his lawyers over allegations of voter fraud and other election irregularities.Roberts and the Babbitt family are preparing to sue Byrd and the Capitol Police in a wrongful-death claim seeking at least $10 million in damages. Asked why his client chose not to go on the record and cooperate with investigators, Byrd’s attorney, Mark Schamel, declined comment. In an earlier interview, Schamel maintained the shooting was justified and that there is no basis for a civil case against his client. The federal investigation of the lethal shooting was marked by secrecy and other irregularities. Unlike other officers involved in fatal shootings of unarmed civilians, Byrd was long shielded from public scrutiny after shooting Babbitt as she tried to climb through a broken window of a barricaded door at the Capitol. For eight months D.C. police officials withheld Byrd’s identity, first revealed by RealClearInvestigations, and they have not released a formal review of the shooting, or the 28-year veteran's disciplinary records. Nor did the Capitol Police hold a briefing on Babbitt's death. Records uncovered by Judicial Watch reveal authorities ordered her body cremated two days after the shooting, without her husband's permission. No Babbitt probe yet: Chairman Bennie Thompson, left, with Republicans Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger. AP/Scott Applewhite Meanwhile, the feds have thrown the book at suspected Jan. 6 rioters — publicly identifying them on a Justice Department website — and are still engaged in a national manhunt for suspects. More than 725 defendants have been charged mostly for relatively minor offenses ranging from trespassing to disorderly conduct.So far, the select House committee set up to investigate the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol has not explored the most lethal violence that occurred that day. Byrd was responsible for the only shot fired during the riot – all other armed officers showed restraint, including 140 who were injured confronting rioters -- and Babbitt was the only person directly killed on that day. Like the other rioters, she carried no firearm — no guns were recovered from the Capitol. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has pledged to “investigate fully the facts and circumstances of these events.” Asked if the police shooting is on the agenda for public hearings planned for this winter, or whether it will be addressed in a final report scheduled for release before November’s congressional elections, a committee spokesman declined comment. Trump and GOP leaders have accused the panel, which is composed of seven Democrats and two Republicans, of trying to damage pro-Trump Republicans ahead of the midterms by claiming they helped orchestrate an “insurrection” and continue to pose "a threat to democracy." ‘Point-Blank Range’ Unlike in a criminal investigation, there is no right to remain silent in a civil case. Wrongful-death litigation claiming negligence may hinge on whether Byrd warned Babbitt before opening fire on her. Roberts said Babbitt, a former military police officer who served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, would have complied with commands to stop and peacefully surrendered had Byrd or other Capitol officers attempted to arrest her. But he said additional eyewitnesses he’s interviewed say Byrd never gave her such verbal commands. He said Babbitt wasn’t even aware that the officer was nearby because he was positioned in a doorway of a room off to the side of the Speaker’s Lobby doors. Byrd, whose mouth was covered with a surgical mask, took aim outside her field of vision and fired as her head emerged through the window. Roberts compared her shooting to an “execution.” “Killing her by shooting her at point-blank range was completely unnecessary,” he said. “This alone renders the shooting legally unjustified.” Roberts pointed out that Byrd had mishandled his firearm in the past. He was the subject of a previous internal investigation for leaving his loaded service pistol in a Capitol restroom. It’s not clear if he was disciplined. At the time, the lieutenant reportedly told officers he would not be punished due to his high rank, which he kept despite the incident. But in the NBC interview, he said he was “penalized” for the 2019 misstep, without elaborating. A USCP spokeswoman declined to respond to repeated requests for information about any discipline administered for his misconduct. Byrd could not be reached for comment, but in the NBC interview he denied receiving special treatment. “Of course not,” he said. “No way." Before filing a lawsuit naming a federal agency, Roberts has to send a formal complaint for a claim for “damage, injury or death” — known as a federal form SF-95 — to USCP and wait for a response. He sent the notice in May and is still waiting for the Capitol Police to reply. “We have received the SF-95 from Ms. Babbitt’s family attorney,” USCP General Counsel Tad DiBiase confirmed to RCI in an email. He declined to say how the department plans to respond: “I cannot comment on that." In the meantime, Roberts said he is interviewing witnesses and also building a case from documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act.“I am still reviewing records obtained in FOIA action and there are more coming,” he said. “I am in no rush." Tyler Durden Wed, 01/12/2022 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 13th, 2022

We Analyzed the Emissions 4 Families Generated in a Week. Here’s What We Learned About Living Greener

If 2021 was one of our last, best, chances to save the planet, it was also the year that we bought lots and lots of stuff, cooped up at home and frustrated with the pandemic. That shopping acted counter to the goal of reducing our carbon footprint; consumption drives about 60% of greenhouse gas emissions… If 2021 was one of our last, best, chances to save the planet, it was also the year that we bought lots and lots of stuff, cooped up at home and frustrated with the pandemic. That shopping acted counter to the goal of reducing our carbon footprint; consumption drives about 60% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, as the factories that make our stuff and the ships and trucks that bring it to us generate emissions, not to mention the emissions caused by mining for raw materials and farming the food we eat. Amazon alone reported in June that its emissions went up 19% in 2020 because of the boom in shopping during the pandemic. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Still, it can be hard, as an individual or a family, to care enough to change habits. Buying things has become one of the few sources of joy for many people since COVID-19 began sweeping the globe—and shopping online has become necessary for people trying to stay at home and avoid potential exposure. But goods are so cheap and easily available online that it feels harmless to add one more thing to your shopping cart. Convincing yourself to be environmentally conscious in your shopping habits feels a bit like convincing yourself to vote—obviously you should do it, but do the actions of one person really matter? As I kept buying things that I thought I needed while cooped up at home, I wondered: how much was my shopping, individually, contributing to climate change? Those pairs of extra-soft sweatpants, those reams of high density rubber foam that I use to baby-proof my apartment, those disposable yogurt bins and takeout food containers, all made from plastic and paper and other raw materials; was I—and other U.S. families spending so much money on stuff—making it that much harder to reach the COP26 goal of preventing warming from going beyond 1.5°C? Read more: Our Shopping Obsession is Causing a Literal Stink In order to estimate the carbon footprint of the shopping habits of families like mine, I asked four families in four cities—Denver, Colo., Atlanta, Ga., San Francisco, Calif., and Salem, Mass.—to track their spending the week beginning on Cyber Monday, Nov. 29, so I could try to determine what parts of their holiday spending were most harmful to the environment. I chose to calculate their carbon footprint rather than other impacts like the amount of water used to make the products they bought because scientists agree on the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to protect the planet’s future.   Courtesy photoThe baby in the Salem family opens a holiday gift. Measuring one’s carbon footprint is difficult, especially because much of the environmental impact from spending is upstream, at the factories that burn fossil fuels to make cars, for example, and at the farms that raise cows for our consumption and release methane. So I asked for help from David Allaway, a senior policy analyst at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, who has been working for years to calculate the carbon footprint that comes from consumer spending. To figure out how much the consumption habits of Oregonians contribute to climate change, and what the state should be doing to remedy this, Allaway commissioned the Stockholm Environment Institute to produce the first state-level analysis of the environmental footprint of Oregon’s consumer spending in 2011. This analysis, called consumption-based emissions accounting, roughly estimates the emissions that come from consumer purchases in 536 different categories, including things as specific as beef cattle, books, and full-service restaurants. It counts the emissions of all purchases by consumers, regardless of where those emissions were created—in Mexico, picking, packing, and shipping bananas; in Saudi Arabia, drilling for and refining petroleum. Allaway has refined the analysis since then and completed it again in 2015. Allaway agreed to use the model he has honed to calculate the carbon footprint of these four families, based on how much money they spent in each category. The families sent me their expenses, excluding housing, and I entered them into the categories in Allaway’s model. This is, of course, an inexact model: The families only tracked one week of spending, and their spending was self-reported, so it’s possible they missed an expense or two. Still, the estimates give a good overview of the emissions driven by the behavior of different families. They only tracked one week of spending, and I prorated their electricity and power costs, so this is still an inexact calculator. A family might spend a lot one week and not much the following week. Still, the estimates give a good overview of just how much of a difference individuals can make in reducing their carbon footprint, and they shed light on exactly how our spending drives emissions. Although many consumers have a lot of guilt about disposing of things once they’re done with them, whether it be plastic packaging or a shirt that they’ve worn a few times and then stained, we just looked at consumption. That’s because the emissions from the disposal of goods is tiny compared to the emissions created from producing something in the first place. “By the time you purchase something, 99% of the damage has already been done,” Allaway told me. This means that the “reduce” part of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” is the most important. Read more: How American Consumers Broke the Supply Chain Buying less stuff is a piece of reducing emissions, but families can most reduce their carbon footprints through their eating and travel habits. The Denver family, which is vegetarian and has solar panels on their roof, had a significantly smaller footprint than the others. The families that ate beef and dairy and that bought plane tickets were responsible for the most emissions. There’s a reason the Swedish have a word “flygskam,” or “flight shame”: one flight can cancel out the most tightfisted family’s progress for a week. In general, spending on services and experiences, like concert tickets or museum subscriptions, is more environmentally friendly than spending on goods, because part of what you are paying for is labor. Allaway estimates that every $100 spent on materials accounts for about three times more emissions than $100 spent on services. Of course, there are exceptions—spending $100 on a steak dinner for two could have higher emissions than spending $100 on groceries to make a vegan meal at home. A few more quick caveats: these are all families with annual incomes of more than $100,000, and I sourced them from friends of friends and social media. They are all white, which is the group that is responsible for the highest levels of consumption in the U.S., and as a result, the most emissions. TIME agreed to use only their initials and the cities in which they live in order to encourage them to openly share their consumption habits without fear of being shamed for their purchases. The results varied widely, from a family in San Francisco that had a weekly carbon footprint of 1,267 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent—about the same as driving from New York to San Francisco in a gas-powered car—to the family in Denver whose weekly carbon footprint was just 360 kgCO2, the equivalent of driving from Denver to Tucson. Here are their detailed weekly breakdowns. The Family That Spends a Lot Online A.S. + W.H. Location: Salem, Mass. Children: 1-year-old Combined household income: about $200,000 Total emissions: 819 kgCO2e   This family spent about $2,800 for the week and had a carbon footprint of 819 kgCO2e, the equivalent of a passenger car driving 2,058 miles, according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. That’s the same as they would have emitted from driving from Salem, Mass. to Charleston, S.C., and back. A.S and W.H. own their home in the coastal community of Salem, Mass. and have a baby daughter. Before becoming parents, the couple was used to buying things and using them for years. But they’re finding that as their daughter grows, their pace of shopping has sped up. “One of the things that makes having a baby so wasteful is that you need something, and when you need it, you need it urgently,” A.S. told me. “You need it for three weeks, and then you don’t need it anymore.” Online shopping has been a source of contention for the couple; W.H. buys almost everything online, which his spouse thinks creates needless waste. The two have asked their extended family to cut back on buying goods and to gift them experiences or services instead, but relatives have been resistant to change. Their biggest single source of consumption-based emissions from the week, 138 kgCO2e, came from buying stuff online. They spent $298.99 for gifts for two family friends: two subscription boxes from Little Passports, which will send the recipients crafts, puzzles and books about different locations around the world for a year. This falls into the “dolls, toys, and games” category, which means the emissions-per-dollar would have been calculated the same regardless of what dolls, toys, and games they bought. Most of the emissions in this category come from the factories that make this stuff, rather than the materials mined or produced to create them, Allaway said, so it wouldn’t really matter environmentally whether they bought these toys at Amazon, Walmart or at a local toy store. They also bought a $269.20 wall sconce, a purchase that created 105 kgCO2e. Aside from those purchases, their biggest emissions came from the food they ate—specifically beef and dairy products. A.S. and W.H. had a pizza dinner with family during the week and a few snacks and coffees at local restaurants; all meals out, whether sit-down or take-out, are categorized as services. But they did buy around $40 worth of ice cream, yogurt and cheese, and they participated in a food share that provided them with around $28 of red meat (the protein changes every week.) Dairy and beef cause a lot more emissions than vegetables; the family spent roughly the same amount on vegetables and on dairy products, but the dairy was responsible for more than double the emissions as their veggies. The couple told me that they’ve been trying to cut back on dairy but have had a hard time finding an environmentally-responsible alternative; almond milk uses up crucial water, for example, and coconut milk requires a lot of emissions-heavy transport to get from where coconuts are grown to New England. They also wonder whether cutting back on things they enjoy is worth the sacrifice. Spending $30 on beef produces about 47 kgCO2e, which is the same as driving about 120 miles. Why should they stop buying cheese if their neighbor is driving that far to commute to and from work every week? “That’s one of the big pieces of friction between me and my husband,” A.S. told me. “I think he sees this as too big of a problem for any individual behavior to change.” The Family That Eats Out a Lot M.C. and N.A. Location: Atlanta, Ga. Children: 14 months and 3 ½ years old Combined household income: $100k-$200k Total emissions: 757 kgCO2e   This family spent about $1,361 for the week and had consumption-based emissions of 757 kg CO2e, the same as if they’d driven a car 1,902 miles, according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. That’s the distance from Atlanta to Las Vegas. The Atlanta family’s emissions came in slightly lower than the Salem family’s. M.C. told me that this week was atypical for them because they usually buy diapers and fill up on gas, and they didn’t do either this week. They did eat out a lot—they were surprised by how much, once they started counting, but because of the way Allaway’s model works, restaurants are a lower-emissions way to spend money than buying a lot of goods. (The model doesn’t account for what you eat at a restaurant, but since so much of a restaurant’s bill is for service, rather than a tangible product, the spending often creates lower emissions.) M.C. told me that because they’re in their car so much, they often stop by quick-service restaurants like Chick-Fil-A to get a fast dinner if they don’t have time to prepare something at home. The pandemic has made them feel guilty about the environmental repercussions of eating out so much, because even sit-down restaurants serve food on disposable plates, with plastic utensils. But their biggest source of emissions for the week was something out of their control—electricity generation. Their electricity bill is about $200 a month but can be as high as $500 in the summer and winter, the family told me. I prorated that to $50 a week, which led to 254 kg CO2e, one of the highest single weekly sources of emissions for any family. (That’s the equivalent of a car driving from New York to Detroit.) The Atlanta and Denver households had higher emissions from their electricity and natural gas bills than the other two families in part because these regions are more reliant on coal-fired power plants, Allaway said. N.A., who works in finance, takes public transit to work, and the family has been trying to move away from spending money on things and toward spending on experiences. But something like cutting back on red meat or being more conscious about the products they buy can be hard, M.C. said. She has enough going on already. “With two little kids, I don’t think about it,” she said. The Family That Travels A.A. and M.T. Location: San Francisco Children: 18 months Combined household Income: more than $300,000 Total emissions: 1,267 kg CO2e   The wealthiest families create the most emissions, and that was certainly true with the San Francisco family, which was the highest-earning of the four families and which generated the highest emissions: the equivalent of driving from San Francisco to Miami. A.A. told me she thought the family had been buying way too much stuff online, and they did buy more stuff online than any of the other families —$60 on clothes from Target, $23 for a baby float on Amazon, $48 for diapers on Amazon, $21 for baby wipes. They also shopped at brick and mortar stores—$26 at a local bookstore, $37 at CVS for razors and snacks, $18 at a local hardware store. And they spent a lot on restaurants—about $300 in total. But none of those purchases drove the bulk of their emissions. Instead, that came from a $400 purchase of two round-trip airline tickets from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which created 436 kg CO2e, the single largest emissions from any purchase of the four families for the week. Because prices were discounted when they bought the tickets, that’s probably a low estimate of the emissions from their flight; the emissions calculator run by myclimate, an international nonprofit, estimates that a roundtrip flight for two between those two cities would generate 614 kg of CO2e, more than the 333 kg the family would have created by driving. (Taking a train would have lowered their emissions further, but also would have taken 12 hours one way.) They also spent $400 on hotel reservations, leading to 123 kg CO2e. This is intuitive—we all know that flying creates a lot of emissions. But it was illuminating to see just how much more it creates than other things do. That one trip to LA bumped the family’s emissions from 708 kg in the week to 1,276. A.A. told me they haven’t flown much since the pandemic started and bought the tickets to attend a close friend’s wedding. In the last two years, they’ve flown far less than they did before the pandemic and before having children. Instead, they’ve stayed home and explored San Francisco, or driven to destinations within an hour or two. They say they feel lucky to be able to do that where they live and will think twice before buying plane tickets on a whim going forward, but that unless costs go up, it may be hard to resist a getaway. The Family That Buys Used M.C. and N.A. Location: Denver Children: 9, 7, and 4 years old Combined household income: More than $200,000 Total emissions: 360 kg CO2e The Denver family has been trying to be more environmentally-conscious for years, and they had the lowest emissions, despite having the most family members (although they were the only family without a kid in diapers.) Their emissions were far lower than those of the other three families, adding up to the equivalent of a drive from Denver to Tucson. They do just about everything they can do to reduce emissions: M.C. doesn’t eat meat or cook it at home; her husband and children only eat meat if it’s served at a friend’s house. The family tries to avoid dairy products (one of the items they bought this week was vegan “egg”nog); they buy used clothes from ThredUp; their home has solar panels. M.C. said the family has always been conscious about reducing waste but became more serious about it a few years ago; when all their friends were moving to the suburbs, they moved to a more urban area of Denver, where N.A. could walk to work. “The driving we were doing was more impactful than the plastic wrap on a bag of pasta,” M.C. said. The couple knew they would have to make some sacrifices when they had children, but they didn’t want to give up on their environmental goals. They decided to wrest control over what their life looked like. “We realized that we could make some more intentional choices, set up our life in a way that not only decreased environmental impact, but also made our life happier,” she said. They enjoy being able to walk to so many places. M.C. has really never liked meat; she would occasionally cook it for her kids but stopped doing so three years ago. They’ll treat themselves to real cheese or real eggnog occasionally, but usually they go vegan. Their biggest emissions came from their use of natural gas—they spend about $44 a month on natural gas, despite their solar panels. Because solar power is so variable—it may be sunny one day, and then cloudy for a week—most systems that run on renewables like solar also use some natural gas. Still, the Denver family avoided a lot of emissions in places where other families didn’t. They spent $156 on clothes, but all from ThredUp, a used clothing site, which generated only 17 kg CO2e, according to Allaway’s estimates. The San Francisco family, by contrast, spent $61 on new clothes, which resulted in 26 kg CO2e. (Allaway’s model treats used goods as having a very low carbon footprint because it assigns the carbon footprint to the previous user, who bought them new; but buying used clothes does have some carbon footprint since the clothes are transported from the warehouses where they’re stored.) M.C. said she knows her kids might resist wearing used clothes as they get older and that there may be a day when they don’t want Christmas gifts from the thrift store. But they’re trying to teach their children not to be consumed by materialism, she said. She wants them to find happiness from something other than new things. When I asked M.C. if she thought her sacrifices were worth it, she said yes. Her family’s choices allow the couple and their children to focus on relationships, she said. She hopes she has motivated some friends and family to change their behavior, too. But ultimately, it’s about being aware of the urgency of environmental awareness, she said. “By trying to reduce my own emissions, that helps me stay in touch with the broader issues and think about the ways I can be an advocate for change in the areas that really will have an impact,” she said. What Your Family Can Do Of course, the emissions that the Denver family saved compared to the San Francisco family would be wiped out by one individual taking an hourlong flight on a private jet. It can be hard to rationalize making dramatic behavioral changes when reducing individual emissions can feel fruitless. Even the annual emissions of the San Francisco family—around 66 metric tons of CO2—pale in comparison to the electricity use of just one U.S. supermarket over the course of a year: 1,383 metric tons of CO2. But changing your behavior is not fruitless, Allaway says. Individuals by themselves might not be able to make enough of a difference to prevent the worst effects of climate change, but collective action—lots of individuals working together—might. Still, many of our preconceived notions about what to buy can be wrong. In the winter, Oregon consumers who buy tomatoes from nearby British Columbia have a bigger carbon footprint than those who buy tomatoes from faraway Mexico, because the Canadian tomatoes are grown in power-hungry greenhouses, Allaway has found. Out-of-season apples from New Zealand may have less of a carbon footprint than local apples that have been put in cold storage for months. Coffee beans delivered in a fully recyclable steel container have a higher climate impact than beans delivered in non-recyclable plastic because of the steel container’s weight. There are behavioral changes you can make that will almost certainly lower your emissions. You can reduce your driving and flying. You can switch to renewable energy. You can buy lighter goods, which use less materials than heavyweight goods, and buy things that have to travel a smaller distance to get to your home (although that in itself is hard to parse out, because a “locally-made” toy may have been created from materials imported from China, which negates the benefits of buying something local). You can buy things that are made from plants rather than animals, and buy used goods whenever possible. (Of course, there’s a caveat there, too—buying a used car that is a gas guzzler would be worse than buying a new electric vehicle.) But if you’re trying to choose individual products that were created with lower emissions, you’ll have a tough task ahead of you. Right now, one of the only ways to know which products have the lowest carbon footprint is to read their life cycle assessment, which is a document that measures their environmental impact from cradle to grave. In Europe, many companies also offer Environmental Product Declarations, which are abbreviated versions of life-cycle assessments, says Sarah Cashman, director of Life Cycle Services at ERG, an environmental consulting group. These documents are hard to decipher, dotted with words like “eutrophication potential,” (the nutrient runoff from farming or manufacturing). EPD InternationalA chart in a 49-page diaper environmental product declaration document There is no report card that lets customers easily see which products are made, transported, and sold with lower emissions than others. Amazon has tried to start labeling some products as “climate-pledge friendly” so that shoppers can choose green products that have received a third-party sustainability certification from a qualifying organization. But even that puts a lot of burden on a consumer to read every label on every item that they buy. So much responsibility for creating less waste has already fallen onto the consumer that asking them to take one more step, as the families above said, is too much. There is a solution, though. Consumers can demand more from companies, who can take on the responsibility of lowering emissions for the products they make every step of the way. The supply chains of eight global industries account for more than 50% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Boston Consulting Group. There are companies that already have a head start. Patagonia says that 86% of its emissions come from the raw materials it uses and their supply chains, and through its Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility Program, it is aiming to use only renewable or recycled materials to make its products by 2025. Most companies won’t do this unprompted, but if consumers start shopping at places that are reducing emissions in their supply chain, companies will start looking at their supply chains in order to stay in business. A database of companies that are legitimately working on this would be a good first step. It may feel like there’s nothing you can do as an individual or as a family, but collective action could look like millions of families preferring to shop at places that are working to dramatically reduce emissions in their supply chain. Buying less may not be an option for many families, but Americans have proved, if nothing else, that they know how to shop smart.  .....»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 6th, 2022

Political potholes await Buttigieg as he starts a new year implementing Biden"s infrastructure law

Pete Buttigieg will be delivering hundreds of billions of dollars in grant money for roads, bridges, ports, and tunnels. Sounds easy? It's not. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined President Biden and other officials during the White House signing ceremony for the bipartisan infrastructure law.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg enjoyed his best political year in 2021. Experts say 2022 will be harder for Buttigieg to navigate as he implements the infrastructure law. If Republicans win back the House, he could get buried in document requests and scandals. When he visited the White House in November for the signing of the bipartisan infrastructure law on the South Lawn, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood huddled with the current occupant of his old Cabinet agency.But amid the celebratory atmosphere and some 800 guests, LaHood had advice—and a warning—for Pete Buttigieg that laid bare the stakes of this political moment for the former 2020 presidential contender."Pete, you got to be the decider," LaHood told him, referencing the hundreds of billions of dollars in grant money that Buttigieg will soon be delivering around the country for big projects like roads, bridges, ports, and tunnels. "Take all the recommendations you want, but in the end, you have to make the decision on every one of these grant programs and projects, because if they're going to be successful, President Biden will get the credit. If they're not successful, you're going to get the criticism."  History is replete with examples of Cabinet officials getting caught in the bureaucratic muck and seeing their career paths go haywire because of it: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, spent much of her 2016 presidential campaign answering for her time in the Obama administration. That's why LaHood was talking to Buttigieg and suggesting he assemble a task force within his department of political and career staffers, as well as an infrastructure coordinator, that can be his eyes and ears for any potential obstacles. Buttigieg knows he'll be held to a high standard, and appears to have taken the advice to heart. Even before the law's passage, he held an internal DOT town hall focusing on implementation. In the weeks following, he would act on most if not all of LaHood's suggestions, setting up a DOT working group while partnering with another former mayor—Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans—who is serving as Biden's senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator. In the post, the White House said, Landrieu would "oversee the most significant and comprehensive investments in American infrastructure in generations." (Landrieu and Buttigieg have been allies; the fellow former mayor endorsed Buttigieg's unsuccessful 2017 bid to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee; the White House declined to make Landrieu available for an interview.) But Buttigieg is also well aware of the political stakes he's facing at the moment. "He knows he's very vulnerable over the next year," a person close to Buttigieg told Insider. Buttigieg got off to a fast start in 2021By almost any measure, 2021 was a banner year for Buttigieg. In February, Biden's former 2020 Democratic primary rival had become the first openly gay Cabinet secretary to be Senate-confirmed. At the apogee of his still-young political career, Buttigieg, who turns 40 on January 19, has ensconced himself as one of the most visible members of the administration, racking up appearances on cable news, Sunday shows, and even late-night television. He's also saturating local media markets through his travels to red states and blue states. He's built bipartisan relationships with members of Congress via some 300 calls to secure the bipartisan infrastructure law's passage, according to his office. He's jet-setted to Glasgow for COP26, the United Nations climate summit, posing with former President Barack Obama. Buttigieg even enjoyed the global release of an Amazon documentary chronicling his 2020 presidential campaign. And the supply chain crisis some expected to delay Christmas gifts never quite materialized. Buttigieg in mid-December toured the Georgia Ports Authority's Garden City Terminal in Savannah, Georgia. The supply chain crisis has largely not prevented Christmas gifts from arriving on time, though Buttigieg has said this is not a "mission accomplished" moment.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesEven at the mercy of the most partisan members of the GOP, Buttigieg's Midwestern demeanor and McKinsey-honed competency haven't attracted the kind of heat-seeking GOP missiles elicited by other Cabinet secretaries. In October, a Punchbowl News analysis showed that only one Congressional Republican had called for his resignation, fewer than any other Biden Cabinet member. However rosy 2021 proved to be for Buttigieg, 2022 could prove a bumpier road for the Rhodes Scholar, as his day job turns from selling the infrastructure bill to steering its implementation. With $550 billion in new infrastructure spending about to go out the door, Buttigieg faces a series of potential political pitfalls in the coming months—including learning how to say "no" to projects that don't make the cut, according to experts in both congressional oversight and transportation policy. In many ways, Buttigieg's political career is just beginning. But the coming years could test his mettle more than the crucible of a 2020 presidential campaign ever did.Buttigieg's political exposureFollowing the infrastructure law's passage, Buttigieg finds himself as a possible target of both the right and the left. Democrats—particularly those in the party's progressive wing—may quibble with some of Buttigieg's moves, said Beth Osborne, a former Obama-era DOT hand and one of Buttigieg's former presidential campaign advisers. She told Insider she's disappointed in the infrastructure legislation that finally passed, based on its delivered-versus-promised impact on climate change and Black citizens of historically divided communities. "He does have a very hard job because he's made promises," said Osborne, director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group for more equitable transportation policies, who last spoke with Buttigieg by phone in February after his Senate confirmation. (Through a round of grants issued to projects to two dozen states in June, Buttigieg's DOT considered climate change and racial equity in their analysis of each project's merit). Osborne added: "I think he needs to be careful about the promises he's making when he's dependent on people who might not have the same priorities he has." That's because much of the law's provisions around reconnecting communities historically divided by highways or railways allow states discretion on how to spend it — something not likely to happen in red America. Take remarks by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate in 2024, for instance.Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Arizona Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema listen during a November roundtable about infrastructure and supply chain problems at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona.AP Photo/Jonathan J. CooperIn November, DeSantis derided Buttigieg's talk of using infrastructure to help end systemic racism. "I heard some stuff, some weird stuff from the Secretary of Transportation trying to make this about social issues," DeSantis said. "To me, a road's a road." Ahead of 2024, rejecting such moves from Buttigieg's DOT appears poised to become a litmus test for any GOP presidential candidates who serve now as governors, as accepting Medicare expansion did for 2016 Republicans.GOP oversight coming soon?Buttigieg also needs to be mindful of Capitol Hill and the prospect that Republicans could be wielding subpoena power and the ability to drive the investigative agenda should they win back control of the House or Senate in November.Recent history suggests he has reason to be concerned. Several experts pointed to the Obama-era Solyndra scandal, which saw the FBI launch a criminal investigation of the California manufacturer of solar cells that had connections to an Obama donor. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 despite receiving $528 million in government-backed loan guarantees via the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While its downfall was the byproduct of rapidly-changing global market conditions for renewable energy products, Solyndra nonetheless exposed the previous Democratic administration to oversight-hungry Republicans who held countless hearings aimed at embarrassing the president and some of his most prominent Cabinet members. If Republicans take back the House in November, they are likely to ramp up oversight on Buttigieg much the same way their predecessors did with Obama and Solyndra. In a statement to Insider, House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer said Republicans plan to keep close watch over the infrastructure law's implementation, even as they're in the minority. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is also telegraphing that GOPers will take a tougher approach on oversight should they win the majority, having already sent the Biden administration preservation requests for documents related to the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal. Such actions remain little more than talking points unless House Republicans control the chamber and have subpoena power. A DOT spokesperson said the agency isn't tracking any preservation notices—legal requests to keep documents that may later lead to oversight investigations—at this time.  "It is unclear how these taxpayer dollars will be used, and as we have seen in the past with debacles like Solyndra, there is plenty of room for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement," Comer told Insider. Solyndra was written off in many quarters at the time as a manufactured scandal. But it still drew blood, putting the Obama White House on the defensive and creating a literal campaign backdrop for Mitt Romney and Republicans to use in their ultimately unsuccessful bid to stop Obama's second term. Most relevant for Buttigieg, Solyndra also tarnished the reputation of Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who was one of the celebrity members of the Democratic president's Cabinet as the secretary of energy. In the same way the 2009 Recovery Act put Chu's Energy Department at the center of its plans to overhaul the economy, more than half of the bipartisan infrastructure law falls under the aegis of DOT. And Democratic and Republican veterans of political battles around the implementation of Obama's Recovery Act—the most analogous cash infusion into public projects to the infrastructure law—paint a picture of a perilous path ahead for Buttigieg, particularly if Republicans take back the House amid the 2022 midterm elections. "He basically has now until the fall campaign season to go out there and get the nice and easy press," a veteran of the Obama administration's efforts to promote and defend the Recovery Act told Insider. "And then the waters are going to get a lot rougher."Mitt Romney in May 2012 held a news conference outside the shuttered Solyndra solar power company's manufacturing facility in Fremont, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesDOT staffing up by the hundredsThere's a big incentive for GOP lawmakers to score political points at Buttigieg's expense and try to sully his future political prospects in the long term, said Kurt Bardella, who handled press for Rep. Darrell Issa when he chaired the House Oversight Committee and led one of two big GOP congressional investigations into Solyndra. To prepare, Buttigieg seems to have followed LaHood's advice down to the letter. The administration and the DOT have been staffing up. Working with Landrieu will be Katie Thomson, Amazon's former vice president and associate general counsel for worldwide transportation and sustainability. In the new year, she will return to DOT as director of the bipartisan infrastructure law implementation."She understands transportation. She understands people," said a DOT veteran who worked with her during the Obama administration when she served as the department's general counsel under LaHood. A DOT spokesperson told Insider there are plans to hire hundreds of additional staffers to implement the law. According to the DOT spokesperson, Buttigieg also joins weekly calls with Landrieu and his Infrastructure Implementation Task Force. Buttigieg recently invited Landrieu to join a DOT staff call to discuss next steps and take questions from political appointee staff about implementation, the spokesperson said. And the secretary established an internal working group that meets weekly. Ultimately, Buttigieg is the one who will become the decider on infrastructure projects nationwide. And that puts Republicans in position to comb through every aspect of the various projects' backgrounds for threads on which to pull and cause problems for one of the most well known members of the Biden Cabinet. "The Republican effort will be merciless and repetitive because they see him as a threat," Bardella said. "They see him as someone that they need to attack and that puts some dents in his armor because they see him as a potential and future adversary. It will be a hyper-political and partisan effort, and it will be a relentless smear campaign designed to try to injure the political future of the secretary." The Democratic strategist who helped guide the Obama administration through Solyndra said it's almost impossible for Buttigieg and his team to prepare for the storm that's coming.Every single day for a year-and-a-half, a reporter from a Washington newspaper would email him at 3:30 p.m. with a new trove of documents among millions selectively released by the Republican Solyndra investigators, he recalled. The reporter wanted a reaction for a story that was going to run by 4:30 p.m, acknowledging that he still has "nightmares about the daily routine." "I don't know that he or the people around him are really prepared for that level of oversight or scrutiny," the Obama veteran of Solyndra said. "That's not even a knock on him. There's no way you could be, having lived through it."What's more, the Democratic strategist said, Landrieu may not fully insulate Buttigieg from all the blowback in an investigation. "What's gonna end up happening is that you're going to have a big push to spend the money," he said. "And then at that point, once the money is out the door, Mitch Landrieu's portfolio will either evolve or move, or he'll be less front and center. The folks who are gonna be left behind are the heads of the agencies that are implementing and overseeing these grants. So when they find the inevitable scandal, because there will be one—manufactured or not— Mitch will probably be gone. It will be on Pete or whichever agency is in the crossfire, but most likely Transportation."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 3rd, 2022

You"d Better Watch Out: The Surveillance State Has A Naughty List, And You"re On It

You'd Better Watch Out: The Surveillance State Has A Naughty List, And You're On It Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “He sees you when you’re sleeping He knows when you’re awake He knows when you’ve been bad or good So be good for goodness’ sake!” - “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” Santa’s got a new helper. No longer does the all-knowing, all-seeing, jolly Old St. Nick need to rely on antiquated elves on shelves and other seasonal snitches in order to know when you’re sleeping or awake, and if you’ve been naughty or nice. Thanks to the government’s almost limitless powers made possible by a domestic army of techno-tyrants, fusion centers and Peeping Toms, Santa can get real-time reports on who’s been good or bad this year. This creepy new era of government/corporate spying—in which we’re being listened to, watched, tracked, followed, mapped, bought, sold and targeted—makes the NSA’s rudimentary phone and metadata surveillance appear almost antiquated in comparison. Consider just a small sampling of the tools being used to track our movements, monitor our spending, and sniff out all the ways in which our thoughts, actions and social circles might land us on the government’s naughty list. Tracking you based on your health status. In the age of COVID-19, digital health passports are gaining traction as gatekeepers of a sort, restricting access to travel, entertainment, etc., based on one’s vaccine status. Whether or not one has a vaccine passport, however, individuals may still have to prove themselves “healthy” enough to be part of society. For instance, in the wake of Supreme Court rulings that paved the way for police to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” government agencies are preparing to use virus-detecting canine squads to carry out mass screenings to detect individuals who may have COVID-19. Researchers claim the COVID-sniffing dogs have a 95% success rate of identifying individuals with the virus (except when they’re hungry, tired or distracted). These dogs are also being to trained to ferret out individuals suffering from other health ailments such as cancer. Tracking you based on your face: Facial recognition software aims to create a society in which every individual who steps out into public is tracked and recorded as they go about their daily business. Coupled with surveillance cameras that blanket the country, facial recognition technology allows the government and its corporate partners to identify and track someone’s movements in real-time. One particularly controversial software program created by Clearview AI has been used by police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to collect photos on social media sites for inclusion in a massive facial recognition database. Similarly, biometric software, which relies on one’s unique identifiers (fingerprints, irises, voice prints), is becoming the standard for navigating security lines, as well as bypassing digital locks and gaining access to phones, computers, office buildings, etc. In fact, greater numbers of travelers are opting into programs that rely on their biometrics in order to avoid long waits at airport security. Scientists are also developing lasers that can identify and surveil individuals based on their heartbeats, scent and microbiome. Tracking you based on your behavior: Rapid advances in behavioral surveillance are not only making it possible for individuals to be monitored and tracked based on their patterns of movement or behavior, including gait recognition (the way one walks), but have given rise to whole industries that revolve around predicting one’s behavior based on data and surveillance patterns and are also shaping the behaviors of whole populations. One smart “anti-riot” surveillance system purports to predict mass riots and unauthorized public events by using artificial intelligence to analyze social media, news sources, surveillance video feeds and public transportation data. Tracking you based on your spending and consumer activities: With every smartphone we buy, every GPS device we install, every Twitter, Facebook, and Google account we open, every frequent buyer card we use for purchases—whether at the grocer’s, the yogurt shop, the airlines or the department store—and every credit and debit card we use to pay for our transactions, we’re helping Corporate America build a dossier for its government counterparts on who we know, what we think, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time. Consumer surveillance, by which your activities and data in the physical and online realms are tracked and shared with advertisers, has become big business, a $300 billion industry that routinely harvests your data for profit. Corporations such as Target have not only been tracking and assessing the behavior of their customers, particularly their purchasing patterns, for years, but the retailer has also funded major surveillance in cities across the country and developed behavioral surveillance algorithms that can determine whether someone’s mannerisms might fit the profile of a thief. Tracking you based on your public activities: Private corporations in conjunction with police agencies throughout the country have created a web of surveillance that encompasses all major cities in order to monitor large groups of people seamlessly, as in the case of protests and rallies. They are also engaging in extensive online surveillance, looking for any hints of “large public events, social unrest, gang communications, and criminally predicated individuals.” Defense contractors have been at the forefront of this lucrative market. Fusion centers, $330 million-a-year, information-sharing hubs for federal, state and law enforcement agencies, monitor and report such “suspicious” behavior as people buying pallets of bottled water, photographing government buildings, and applying for a pilot’s license as “suspicious activity.” Tracking you based on your social media activities: Every move you make, especially on social media, is monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line. As The Intercept reported, the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies are increasingly investing in and relying on corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior. This obsession with social media as a form of surveillance will have some frightening consequences in coming years. As Helen A.S. Popkin, writing for NBC News, observed, “We may very well face a future where algorithms bust people en masse for referencing illegal ‘Game of Thrones’ downloads… the new software has the potential to roll, Terminator-style, targeting every social media user with a shameful confession or questionable sense of humor.” Tracking you based on your phone and online activities: Cell phones have become de facto snitches, offering up a steady stream of digital location data on users’ movements and travels. Police have used cell-site simulators to carry out mass surveillance of protests without the need for a warrant. Moreover, federal agents can now employ a number of hacking methods in order to gain access to your computer activities and “see” whatever you’re seeing on your monitor. Malicious hacking software can also be used to remotely activate cameras and microphones, offering another means of glimpsing into the personal business of a target. Tracking you based on your social network: Not content to merely spy on individuals through their online activity, government agencies are now using surveillance technology to track one’s social network, the people you might connect with by phone, text message, email or through social message, in order to ferret out possible criminals. An FBI document obtained by Rolling Stone speaks to the ease with which agents are able to access address book data from Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage services from the accounts of targeted individuals and individuals not under investigation who might have a targeted individual within their network. What this creates is a “guilt by association” society in which we are all as guilty as the most culpable person in our address book. Tracking you based on your car: License plate readers are mass surveillance tools that can photograph over 1,800 license tag numbers per minute, take a picture of every passing license tag number and store the tag number and the date, time, and location of the picture in a searchable database, then share the data with law enforcement, fusion centers and private companies to track the movements of persons in their cars. With tens of thousands of these license plate readers now in operation throughout the country, affixed to overpasses, cop cars and throughout business sectors and residential neighborhoods, it allows police to track vehicles and run the plates through law enforcement databases for abducted children, stolen cars, missing people and wanted fugitives. Of course, the technology is not infallible: there have been numerous incidents in which police have mistakenly relied on license plate data to capture out suspects only to end up detaining innocent people at gunpoint. Tracking you based on your mail: Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service, which has been photographing the exterior of every piece of paper mail for the past 20 years, is also spying on Americans’ texts, emails and social media posts. Headed up by the Postal Service’s law enforcement division, the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) is reportedly using facial recognition technology, combined with fake online identities, to ferret out potential troublemakers with “inflammatory” posts. The agency claims the online surveillance, which falls outside its conventional job scope of processing and delivering paper mail, is necessary to help postal workers avoid “potentially volatile situations.” Fusion centers. Smart devices. Behavioral threat assessments. Terror watch lists. Facial recognition. Snitch tip lines. Biometric scanners. Pre-crime. DNA databases. Data mining. Precognitive technology. Contact tracing apps. What these add up to is a world in which, on any given day, the average person is now monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears. Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother. Every second of every day, the American people are being spied on by a vast network of digital Peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, surveillance, digital stalking and the data mining of the American people—weapons of compliance and control in the government’s hands—add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence. In an age of overcriminalization, mass surveillance, and an appalling lack of protections for our privacy rights, we can all be considered guilty of some transgression or other. So you’d better watch out—you’d better not pout—you’d better not cry—‘cos I’m telling you why: this Christmas, it’s the Surveillance State that’s coming to town, and you’re already on its naughty list. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/24/2021 - 21:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 24th, 2021

The 56 best last-minute gifts for college students, from portable photo printers to the comfiest sheets

The best gifts for college students are practical and fun. Here are 56 gift ideas from a recent college graduate. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Staples The best gifts for college students are practical, fun, and time-saving. I'm a current college student, and I put together this list of 50+ gift options any student would appreciate. Need more gift ideas? Check out our gift guides for toddlers, teens, and pretty much everyone. As a college student, there are just a few things we want: clear skin, job security, and to have some fun. Some gifts can help with this. Others can't, but they're still nice to have for how much they make our lives easier.College students today are in a unique position in life between (probably) getting little sleep, taking classes while working, and taking care of themselves throughout everything. This is especially important to keep in mind when thinking about gifts.One thing this list assumes is that the student you're thinking about already has basics like a shower caddy, lanyard for their student ID, and laundry basket that can hold several weeks of dirty clothes at time. Instead, this list is full of gifts that'll be like the cherry on top to whatever they already have.Check out all 56 gifts for college students:A more modern card game for nights in and partiesAmazonWhat Do You Meme?, available at Amazon, $29.99College students today are of the meme generation, so this game will be highly appreciated. This set includes 75 of the funniest memes plus 360 caption cards to make the wonkiest combinations for a game during study breaks or chill wine nights.One of the easiest ways to find your favorite fragranceScentbirdScentbird 6-month subscription, available from Scentbird, $84Finding a fragrance that speaks to you is an unspoken step in finding your style. But buying a bunch of different scents can take a long time and cost a lot. Scentbirds is a perfume and cologne discovery subscription that helps you find your favorite perfumes by sending monthly options based on your preferences.A sunrise alarm clock for a gentle wakeup, no phones involvedSuzy Hernandez/InsiderHatch Restore, available on Amazon, $129.99Using your phone as an alarm clock makes it a lot easier to start scrolling on your phone first thing in the morning, which isn't the healthiest habit. A sunrise alarm clock can help your student have a much better start to their day than immediately checking emails or scrolling on Instagram. The Hatch Restore is a great sunrise alarm option with a ton of special features, and the iHome Zenergy Dream Mini ($69.99) is the best option on a budget.One of the nicest, most classic notebooks everMoleskineMoleskine Classic Notebook, available on Amazon, $20.34Moleskine journals have a history of belonging to creatives and being the place where great ideas and art begin. If the student you're thinking of is a writer, for example, a Moleskine journal is a perfect gift to let them know you support them. These are also stellar for note-taking.An air fryer for the snack loverAmazonThe Philips Premium TurboStar Air Fryer, available at Walmart, $249.35Air fryers have been all the buzz for how they can turn just about anything into a warm, crispy delight. Plus, they save a ton of time, which every college student can appreciate. The Philips Premium TurboStar Air Fryer is one of the best air fryers on the market today.There's some controversy about how good air fryers actually are, so you can also think about gifting a toaster oven.A good wallet to hold their cards, cash, and keep their student ID handyVera BradleyMicrofiber Zip ID Wallet, available at Vera Bradley, $10Vera Bradley's Zip ID Wallet is a great option for students who have to frequently show or swipe their student ID but don't need an overstuffed bifold. The O-ring is a convenient and sturdy place to hold all their keys. It also makes it easy to clip the wallet into their other bags like a purse or backpack.A steady supply of healthier (and still very tasty) snacksThrive Market1-Year Membership + $25 Shopping Credit, available at Thrive Market, $64.95College students live off good food and snacks. Gifting a subscription to Thrive Market means access to healthier snacks, which leads to feeling more energized and better studying.A long-lasting backpack that'll look good on campus, in the airport, and at job interviewsHerschelLittle America Backpack, available at Herschel, $109.99Typical backpacks work great for class, but what about everything that happens outside of class? Having a sturdy backpack that's well-suited for traveling and job interviews helps a ton. Herschel's Little America ($109.99) is a great option because it's versatile, sturdy, and stylish. Similarly, the Dagne Dover backpack ($200) is specifically designed for a woman's body and is made to store everything you need and go anywhere you go. productsIf the student is a total tote person and doesn't touch backpacks, the Longchamp Le Pliage Shoulder Bag ($155) is a staple for students and young workers alike.An aroma diffuser to set the moodGrove CollaborativeGrove Collaborative Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffuser, $39.95An aroma diffuser delivers calming, in-home aromatherapy and is a great fragrance option for dorms where candles usually aren't allowed. This one from Grove Collaborative diffuses essential oils for up to five hours at a time, has LED light options, and elegantly blends into any room thanks to its minimalistic ceramic design.A weighted blanket that'll change the way you sleepTranquilityTranquility Weighted Blanket, available at Target, $49Every college student ever has needed better sleep. Weighted blankets apply a calming pressure on you, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up more rested. The great thing about Tranquility's weighted blanket is how perfectly-sized it is to move from bed to couch, how it's sized to fit a standard dorm twin XL bed, and how easily washable it is.A foolproof planner to keep everything in orderDay DesignerWeekly Planner, available on Day Designer, $59A planner keeps them organized between all their assignments, exams, events, and so much more. Day Designer makes luxurious planners that students love. Planners come in daily or weekly options which each have space for all your checklists and schedules plus extra pages for goal setting, future planning, and notes.The most comfortable socks college students can ownBombasWomen's Ankle Sock 4-Pack, available at Bombas, $47.50Men's Ankle Sock 4-Pack, available at Bombas, $47.50Bombas makes the best socks on the market. They benefit from upgrades like a supportive honeycomb stitch, blister tabs built into ankle-height styles, and a Y-stitched heel and "invisitoe" that minimizes annoying bumps. Even if it seems like socks aren't an exciting gift, comfort is pretty much always a hit in college. Plus, for every pair purchased, Bombas donates a specially designed sock to someone in need.A cult-favorite tumbler to keep their drinks just the right temperature for hoursHydro FlaskHydro Flask 40 oz.Water Bottle, available at Hydro Flask, from $37.46This HydroFlask will keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours with the lid on, perfect for when they need coffee for a long night studying.Great coffee from all over the world to help them stay energizedAtlas Coffee ClubAtlas Coffee 3-month Subscription, $55If they drink coffee, they'll likely drink a fair amount of it during college. And it's really nice to have a good cup. Atlas Coffee is a monthly subscription that's sort of like a worldwide coffee tour — bringing the best single-origin coffee (with a postcard from its origin country) to your door. They'll also get brewing tips and flavor notes. A book that helps them build good habits and break bad onesAmazonAtomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, available at Amazon, $11.98Many college students are trying to map out what they want out of life and how to build the habits that get them where they want to go. In the popular book "Atomic Habits," James Clear, an expert on habit formation, teaches practical strategies for building lasting habits (and ditching detrimental ones). Popular wireless over-ear headphones for quality noise-canceling during studying and working outAmazonBeats Solo3 Wireless Noise Cancelling On-Ear Headphones, available at Amazon, $129.95If there's one thing every college student needs, it's good wireless headphones. This Beats pair has rich sound and up to 40 hours of listening time. And if they let the battery run out, a five-minute charge converts to three hours of playback.If they're a runner and need something lightweight and in-ear, you should opt for Jaybird Vista.An inexpensive way to get the iced coffee they love at homeAmazonTakeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker, available on Amazon, $24.99If the student you're thinking of drinks coffee — and there's a very good chance they do — having access to one of the best cold brew contraptions will be a gift that keeps on giving. A cold brew machine means you can go 4-5 days in a row without brewing another pot. It's also easy to clean. Find a full review here.A waterproof speaker that can bring the bassJBLJBL FLIP5 Bluetooth Speaker, available at B&H Photo, $129.95A Bluetooth speaker is a must-have: it helps set the mood for study nights and helps bring the party to life whenever you're hosting. JBL's Flip 5 speaker is the best choice. It has vibrantly booming bass, lasts for up to 12 hours without a charge, and is waterproof.Clothes and shoes for their upcoming interviews and presentationsEverlaneThe Oversized Blazer, available at Everlane, from $185Rebecca Allen Classic Pump, available at Nordstrom, $165Other Stories Wool Coat, available at Other Stories, $279College is full of big meetings, big presentations, and nerve-wracking interviews. For days when sweatpants aren't an option and something more formal is needed, these are some great options for women's staples. We've also created a list of our personal favorite workwear stores — plus the best styles to buy from each one. A nice watch they can wear to internshipsMVMTGunmetal Sandstone, Men, available at MVMT, $138Lexington, Women, available at MVMT, $128MVMT makes beautiful watches for men and women at great prices, and they feel more contemporary to wear than most on the market. It's a versatile, sentimental gift you can feel good about giving because you know they'll feel good — and perhaps more put-together — wearing it. One of the best tablets, which makes note-taking, entertainment, and everything else so much betterBest Buy2021 Apple iPad, available at Amazon, $479 If you go on a college campus today, you'll probably see iPads all over the place — and for a good reason. These slim rectangular boxes are bundles of joy for students. They make note-taking, e-reading, Netflix, and leisure drawing easy to do all in one place. The new 256GB iPad ($479) will make an unforgettable gift. If you want to take it up a notch, the highly-coveted and ultrafast 11" iPad Pro ($899) is even better.If they already have an iPad, you can think about getting them an Apple Pencil ($129), which will level up their gadget even more.A key-, wallet-, and iPhone-finderAmazonTile Mate with Replaceable Battery, 4-Pack, available at Amazon, $69.99You can't go wrong with a tracker for their keys, wallet, or phone. The Tile Mate is compact, thoughtful, and useful for everyone — especially an oft-frazzled college student. A bed frame that can easily move with themLauren Savoie/InsiderThuma Bed Frame, available at Thuma, from $995A good bed frame is the foundation of good sleep and this one by Thuma features interlocking Japanese joinery that makes it incredibly sturdy but easy to disassemble, move, and store. It's a great option for young adults on the move, especially if they're moving into older or smaller buildings. The most popular FitbitFitbitFitbit Charge 4 Fitness Activity Tracker, available on Amazon, from $122.21The Charge 4 offers stellar activity tracking (average and current pace, heart rate zones, calories burned, etc.) in a smaller footprint than a smartwatch and at a budget-friendly price point. Plus, it has a week-long battery life.A smartphone-sized travel photo printerStaplesFujifilm Instax Mini Link Bluetooth Photo Printer, available at Target, Apple, and Best Buy, from $99.95Mini portable Bluetooth printers make turning iPhone photos into tangible memories quick and easy — which is especially convenient for decorating their room. All they'll have to do is download the app (which also has internal PhotoShop elements and features like themed stickers and collages) and connect via Bluetooth. *This product is currently out of stock. Their favorite comfort foodsGoldbellyGoldbelly food gifts, available from $25Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration.A media streamer that transforms a normal TV into a smart oneAmazonRoku Ultra 4K/HDR/HD Streaming Player, available at Amazon, $69Most college students aren't forking over a monthly payment to cable. This streaming player is, overall, the best one you can buy, and it transforms an otherwise ordinary TV into one that can stream shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Prime Video, and others all in one spot.  One of the all-time best facial cleansers for a clean and effective routineFOREOLuna 2 Facial Cleansing Device, Men, available at FOREO, $169.95Luna 2 Facial Cleansing Device, Women, available at FOREO, $169.95FOREO's cult-favorite Luna 2 cleansing device gently and effectively cleans with thin, antimicrobial silicone touch points, and it removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup residue without irritating the skin. Plus, it's 100% waterproof and the battery life lasts for a few months per charge. Find a full review from a female reporter and a male reporter here.A 10-minute breakfast that will save them money and timeAmazonDash Rapid Egg Cooker, available at Target, $15.99The Dash Rapid Egg Cooker looks gimmicky but is actually deceptively useful. It's compact and makes virtually every kind of egg (hard-boiled, poached, scrambled, or an omelet) perfectly, and in under 10 minutes. Trendy and convenient Apple AirPodsAppleApple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case, available at Best Buy, $149.99If you're after the title of their favorite relative of the year, here's a good place to start. AirPods are both easy to use and functional as well as trendy. The newer generation of AirPods can be purchased on Amazon for $200, but we also liked the earlier generation (which is slightly cheaper).A comfy Patagonia pullover they'll rely on a lotPatagoniaLightweight Synchilla Snap-T Pullover, Men, available at Patagonia, $119Women's Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece, available at Patagonia, $119It's a good bet that many of their peers will also have this Snap-T pullover from Patagonia. It and the Better Sweater are long-held favorites, and both are comfortable classics that they'll no doubt come to rely upon. A Patagonia sweater is also a particularly good gift for students who are invested in sustainability. The company has been turning plastic bottles into polyester for its clothing since 1993, and continues to do so today.The world's comfiest shoesAllbirds/InstagramWool Runners, Men, available at Allbirds, $98Wool Runners, Women, available at Allbirds, $98Startup Allbirds makes wildly popular shoes out of soft, sustainable materials. Their Runners made of super-soft merino wool have been nicknamed "the world's most comfortable shoes." You can find a full review here. A portable projector that's the size of a soda canAmazonAnker Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector, available at Amazon, $299.99Anker's Nebula Capsule is a powerful and versatile mini projector, and its portability makes it a great option for college students who want a cozy movie-viewing experience in the comfort of their own room. It's 1 pound and the size of a soda can, but it has surprisingly crisp image quality and 360-degree sound. It's also quiet and has a continuous playtime of four hours. Find a full review here.College merchandise for school spiritAmerican EagleShop American Eagle's Tailgate ApparelParticularly if they're going to a school with a big sports team, you can be sure they'll both need and appreciate all the fan gear. A great game for a night in with friendsAmazonCards Against Humanity, available at Amazon, $25Grab a fun card game they'll inevitably end up pulling out to play with friends on the weekend nights and snow days. Check out What Do You Meme, too.A Brooklinen gift card for really nice sheetsBrooklinenGift Card, available at Brooklinen, from $50Few things sound so nice as comfortable, beautiful sheets that you don't need to buy for yourself. Brooklinen is one of our favorite startups to shop at, and we ranked their sateen cotton sheets (from $122) the best luxury sheets you can buy.A funny but useful book full of expert and student advice on everything from finances to relationships and dorm lifeAmazonThe Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College, available at Amazon, $10.19For everything from sharing a bathroom with 40 strangers to social network do's and don'ts, this funny but useful New York Times bestseller runs the gamut. A monthly subscription of personalized new makeup, haircare, and skincare samples delivered to their doorBirchbox Man/InstagramBirchbox Three Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $45College students like to look and feel good, but tight budgets aren't conducive to trying a lot of new, (and often expensive) grooming products. Birchbox sends samples of new and beloved products once a month, so they can test out new finds and discover products they may want to buy a full size of in the future. It's also just fun to get a monthly gift that's all about them. An Echo Dot with a built-in clockAmazonEcho Dot 4th Gen with Clock, available on Amazon, $34.99The newest Echo Dot is more convenient than ever. The all-new design features a larger speaker for better audio, a digital clock to display the time and timer countdowns, and all of Alexa's other skills. A savvy suitcase for traveling on holiday breaksAway/FacebookCarry-On, available at Away, from $225Away's hyper-popular suitcases deserve their hype. Their hard shell is lightweight but durable, their 360-degree spinner wheels make for seamless traveling, and the external (and ejectable and TSA-compliant) battery pack included can charge a smartphone five times over so they never have to sit behind a trash can at the airport for access to an outlet again. It's also guaranteed for life by Away. Find our full review here.We also recommend Calpak. A book about capitalizing on the huge choices to make in your 20sAmazonThe Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now, available at Amazon, $3.62The decisions you make in your 20s can greatly impact the rest of your life. The best defense is a good offense and your grad should know now, before any life-altering events crop up, how to get the most out of their "defining decade."An Amazon Prime membershipTommaso Boddi / Getty ImagesGift an Amazon Prime membership, $119An Amazon Prime membership is one of those things that immediately makes life easier and ultimately better. If you decide to gift one, the recipient will enjoy free two-day shipping; access to the Prime Now app, which provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items; Prime Video, Amazon's streaming video service; Prime Music; the Kindle Lending Library; Prime Reading; Prime Audible Channels; unlimited photo storage, and more.If you want to see how Amazon Prime ($119 for the year) actually gives you a lot more than free shipping, you can read about the benefits of the service here.A candle to remind college students of their favorite place or hometownAmazonHomesick Scented Candle, available at Uncommon Goods, $34If they're away from family or friends, a reminder of home is a wonderful thing to have around. The best electric toothbrushAmazonOral-B White Pro 1000, available at Best Buy, $39.99We rated this the best electronic toothbrush you can buy. Childlike cereal for adultsMagic SpoonFour Flavors, available at Magic Spoon, $39Magic Spoon is a new "childlike cereal for adults" that's high in protein and low in sugar — and all four flavors are delicious. Here's one way to show college kids it's completely possible to transition to adulthood without losing all the joy of being a kid. You can read more in a personal review here. Framed memoriesFramebridgeGift Card or Frame a Memory, available at Framebridge, from $25Help them honor some of their best memories — whether it's from friends now studying across the country, family, or best-loved locales. Framebridge is relatively affordable, but decor is one of the luxuries plenty of college students shirk to save elsewhere — even though it can make their home a much more inviting, happy place.A monogrammed leather shave bag so students can keep all their things in one placeLeatherologyLeatherology Small Shave Bag, available at Leatherology, from $90 (available for monogram for $10)The dreaded truth of college is that you'll most likely need to schlep your shower belongings to a communal area if you live in the dorms. No one wants to rely on a plastic shower caddy to do that. Grab them a leather shave bag that they'll use for years to come — they probably wouldn't justify the expense on their own, and they'll be grateful to have it. If you're looking for a chic aesthetic, Dagne Dover also makes a great neoprene toiletry bag named the Hunter (from $35) that's built to accommodate makeup. If they have a lot of toiletries, you'll probably want to get the large size for $55.The most comfortable lounge pants we've ever tried for lazy weekend morningsMeUndiesThe Lounge Pant, Men, available at MeUndies, $68The Lounge Pant, Women, available at MeUndies, $68MeUndies is a popular LA startup that makes some of the most comfortable underwear we've ever tried. Their lounge pants, however, are the real hidden gem — perfect for lounging around on weekend mornings, and they're sleek enough to avoid feeling too unkempt.The best pillow you can buyCoop Home GoodsPremium Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow, available at Coop Home Goods and Amazon, from $63.99Make sure they're optimizing their sleep with the best pillow you can buy. Thanks to the shredded memory foam, they'll get the support and comfortable "sinking in" sensation of a traditional memory foam pillow, but none of the excessive heat or firmness that can be a problem with solid foam. Read more in our Buying Guide here.A gift card to ClassPass so they can go to tons of boutique fitness classes without the expenseClassPass/InstagramGift Card, available at ClassPass, from $50Boutique fitness classes are expensive. ClassPass makes them less so. If they like to be active, are looking for a newfound favorite class, or like yoga as much as boxing classes, this is a great gift they'll actually use — and applies to virtual classes until in-person ones are safe again.A custom poster of their favorite placeGrafomapGift a customized Grafomap poster, from $49Commemorate their college town, hometown, or favorite place in the world with this customizable graphic map so they can keep it with them wherever life takes them.A hyper-useful extra-long, reinforced phone chargerAmazonNative Union 10-Foot Extra-Long Charging Cable with Leather Strap, available at Amazon, $34.99If they're going to be tethered to devices, you may as well give them a long leash. This long charging cable means no matter where one is, they'll have power — and they won't have to sit at the foot of their bed to reach it. A gym bag that can transition to a professional settingNordstromHerschel Supply Co. Novel Duffel Bag, available at Nordstrom, $90Just like bringing a beat-up JanSport everywhere, lugging an old nylon gym bag isn't ideal for anyone looking for versatile use. Herschel Supply Co. makes reliable, long-lasting bags, and this one has a separate compartment for gym or dress shoes. A microwave-safe ramen cooker for the most stressful or time-crunched nightsAmazonRapid Ramen Cooker, available at Amazon, $10.99There will be plenty of late nights filled with cheap and tasty ramen. If they're going to eat it anyway, at least let them make it quickly and perfectly every time.A super soft throw blanket they'll find themselves cocooned time and time againAmazonBEDSURE Sherpa Fleece Blanket, available at Amazon, from $26.99Grab their favorite candy, this sherpa-lined fleece blanket with over 4,400 five-star reviews on Amazon, and a Hulu gift card to make their nights in actually fun.Gift cards — perhaps the best gift you can give a cash-strapped college studentWhole Foods Market FacebookWhat a stressed, broke college student needs most is money and probably a hug. If you're looking for a way to gift maximum convenience, gift cards are a surprisingly thoughtful way to do that — either for their favorite restaurant, transportation, school books, or music to keep them occupied during long study hours. Check out more gift card gifts here. Everything: Visa Gift Card / Amazon Gift Card / Gift Amazon Prime MembershipCoffee: Starbucks Gift CardSchool books: Amazon Gift Card Entertainment: Netflix Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / Sling Gift Card / StubHub gift cardTransportation: Uber Gift CardDecoration: Framebridge Gift CardFurniture: Amazon Gift Card / Wayfair Gift CardMusic: Spotify Gift CardSheets: Brooklinen Gift CardGroceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift CardClothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift CardTech: Best Buy Gift CardTravel: Delta Gift Card / Airbnb Gift CardRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 16th, 2021

BP’s CEO Is Trying to Convince the World He’s Serious About Going Green

(To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nothing in Bernard Looney’s youth suggested that he would find himself, at 50, leading one of the world’s biggest oil giants at the most tumultuous moment in its history. The CEO of the 112-year-old British company was raised in… (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nothing in Bernard Looney’s youth suggested that he would find himself, at 50, leading one of the world’s biggest oil giants at the most tumultuous moment in its history. The CEO of the 112-year-old British company was raised in relative poverty on a farm in rural Ireland, and joined BP straight out of college 30 years ago. Then he rose through the ranks, and nailed the top job in February 2020. Now he says he is determined to remake BP entirely. Just weeks after becoming chief exec. last year, Looney announced the company would cut its oil and gas production by 40% by the end of this decade, plow billions into solar, wind and other renewables, and roll out electric-vehicle charging points at its convenience stations worldwide. By 2050, he says, BP will zero out its polluting carbon emissions—a whopping 415 million metric tons a year in 2019. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Climate activists are deeply skeptical, fearing Looney is tinkering at the edges, and claiming big loopholes in his plan; they hear echoes of BP’s failed attempt in the 1990s to ramp up clean energy, when it dropped its old name British Petroleum. Such skepticism was underlined in October, when the organizers of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow rebuffed requests of BP and other oil companies to formally join the massive confab of governments, businesses, and climate activists. BP’s plans, they said, did not match the climate goals. Looney says he understands the doubts, but insists he is “all in,” to use one of his favorite phrases. On November 22, he sat down with TIME in his sleek executive offices on London’s St. James’s Square, to explain the reach—and limitations—of his strategy, and to describe the immense complexity in resetting the company’s direction after a century of putting carbon into the atmosphere. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.) Some might say it’s an unenviable job leading a Big Oil company now. You’re the villain in the climate debate. We must change. We have to lean into the transition. We must give society what it wants and needs, and that is clean, reliable, affordable energy, and to do that, we have to change. And of course, we want to change and we want to change because our employees are part of society too. They have children, they have neighbors, they have friends. They want to make a difference in the world. And we also believe in this. And it’s an enormous business opportunity for us, because trillions of dollars are going to get spent rewiring and replacing the Earth’s energy system. So yes, it is complex. Yes, there are times when it is hard. But tell me something in life that was worthwhile, that was neither complex nor hard. People are skeptical that you are actually for real. We understand why people feel like that. They see us as part of the problem, not part of the solution. I believe that we are and will be and need to be part of the solution. I would go further and say that if BP doesn’t transition, the world won’t transition. Energy is where the emissions are. Tesla sells close to a million cars a year today. The world needs 70 million cars a year. Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault-Nissan: They make 30 million cars a year. When they go electric, the world goes electric. When companies and sectors like BP start to transition, the world will transition. You just cannot scale and build enough green companies fast enough at the pace enough to make the difference. Even so, climate activists say that word “ambition” is a fuzzy word. It’s not a real commitment. Any objective person would struggle to say we are not all in on this. We took the painful decision to cut our dividend in half last year. We wrote off over $20 billion worth of assets last year that we said neither should be produced nor could be produced. We took the difficult decision to have 10,000 people leave the organization. We are reallocating capital. We are increasing our spend. We are the only company who said that they’re going to reduce their production of oil and gas. We’re not doing this to window dress and we’re not greenwashing. We’re trying to do what is the right thing for our company, for its stakeholders and importantly, for its shareholders. Environmentalists say that’s all very well, but this does not include, for example, your joint venture with [Russian oil giant] Rosneft, which is a considerable amount of BP’s production—something like a third, I believe. It’s about a million barrels a day, about a third. We’ve been absolutely transparent. We said we will reduce our production by 40%. If you include Russia, it’s 28%—still a huge amount. It’s not like we control Rosneft. We’re a 20% shareholder. You would you be surprised to hear that Rosneft’s greenhouse gas intensity per barrel of oil is lower than BP’s. They have a plan to eliminate routine flaring. They’re reducing emissions as we speak. The question is, is the world better off by BP being there or not? It’s the same argument I would use for an investor: An investor has a choice to divest from BP or invest in BP. Some people feel that they should divest, they feel that’s the right thing for the world. I think many people feel they should divest. BP is hardly alone in this. Many people, many funds, endowments, are basically getting out of fossil fuel companies. How worrying is that for you? I can assure you that is not the right thing. Our shareholders own our company. We listen to our shareholders. The way to bring about change is to invest and make your views known. We need people to back the agenda that we’re on. A transition like this is going to be messy, it’s going to be complex. It does not lend itself to a simple, ‘Who’s good, who’s bad? Who’s green, who’s not?’ There is no simple solution here. The best thing you can do for climate is to invest in a carbon-intensive company like BP and back them going green. We’re going to reduce our emissions by between 35% and 40% by 2030. We’re going to invest 10 times more in low carbon than we do today by 2030, eight times by 2025. We’re going to install 70,000 charging points for electrification. We have the scale and the resources and the cash flows and the skills to do that. But you are also in the next several years adding barrels. If I read the the third-quarter results correctly, there has been an increase in production. I read that you have added 900,000 barrels a day. Yes, between 2016 and 2021, five years. We brought on seven projects this year, and we will bring on projects next year, and the year after. We will start up new oil fields and we will invest in new oil fields, but only the ones that have the best carbon intensity, only the ones that have the best economics, the shortest paybacks, the highest returns. But we will do that because we have a three-part strategy: Part one is resilient hydrocarbons. Part number two is convenience and mobility. Part three is low carbon energy. So part one of our strategy is hydrocarbons and will be for decades to come. We’re not shying away from that. Any scenario has oil and gas in the system in 2050. Our job is to produce those hydrocarbons with the lowest possible emissions. Oil and gas will continue to be needed. People may not like to hear that. It may be an unpopular truth. We will do that and we will use those cash flows to help us make the transition. We will continue very clearly to sanction and develop new oilfields. The existing oil fields decline, and some of them decline very quickly. So net-net our production goes down by 40% through this decade: 20% by 2025, 40% by 2030. The International Energy Agency projects something like 20 million barrels of oil a day global consumption by 2050. That’s a fraction of current demand. Yes, 80% less. Very, very much smaller. We’ve projected [BP’s production will be] 1.5 million barrels a day by 2030, down from 2.6 million today. Our focus is on is developing reserves on two criteria: How do we produce barrels with the lowest possible environmental footprint? Number two: What produces the best returns. We will invest in only the best because less barrels will meet those investment thresholds. Does this mean that from your reserves of 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent, a chunk of that will never be touched, that it will remain in the ground? We’ve said things like we are no longer going to explore into new basins for exploration, right? We are no longer going to enter a new country to find the next giant oilfield. But, for example, you are in Norway. So you are going to explore new oil prospects in Norway, correct? We have a joint venture in Norway, and they will develop new oil fields. And BP will explore for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, where we have existing infrastructure: It’s been growing and it will grow. It was a great success story for America and the world, and we believe we can grow it over the next three to four years. But that doesn’t mean that the overall picture doesn’t decline. That’s what we mean by “high grading.” We will develop the best barrels, will make the portfolio higher value. How much of your overall greenhouse gas emissions targets will rely on things like carbon capture and storage technology, which climate activists see as not a solution? We can do what we’ve set out to do between now and 2030 without using carbon capture. Beyond that, we believe that the world will need sort of every tool available to it to meet its net-zero. In the longer term, things like natural climate solutions, things like carbon capture and storage will be a very big part. What about offsets, like planting trees? That’s what I mean by natural climate solutions. Planting trees or preventing trees from being cut down. There is no silver bullet. I wish there was. The world is going to have to use every tool to help it get there. People like Mark Carney, Prince Charles, activists that I’ve spoken to, Conservation International, these people believe that this is part of the solution and it will be part of our toolkit in the medium term. The barrels where we have existing infrastructure are very positive, because you’re not having to build new infrastructure and start up new facilities. So places like the Gulf of Mexico will be very important to the company for a very long time to come. Our position in the onshore in the United States is very important to the company for a long time. We’re mainly in Texas. But you will still be exploring and producing new fields. It is a three-part strategy and there is not a light switch. We cannot turn off the business that generates the cash flow overnight. There is 100 million barrels a day being used in the world today. BP produces about 2.5 million barrels a day right now. If BP is somehow removed from the system, the 100 million demand isn’t going to go away. People still need the product they need. And you would somehow have just removed one of the greatest contributors for positive change. Why would you want to do that? What you really want to do is back those people, to make the transition a real success. But you can’t do it overnight. You simply cannot flick a switch. The market has not been particularly giddy with enthusiasm about your strategy. Why do you think that is? I don’t know. You tell me. Well, look, I think this is a big change. The most important part of our strategy is what we call performing while transforming. You have to do multiple things at once. It’s about reducing emissions, and it’s about growing cash-flow. It’s about purpose. We just had our third quarter in a row of strong results. Our business is running really, really well. I was struck by the testimony of oil executives before the U.S. Congress in late October. The whole framing of that was this is like the Big Tobacco testimony, which was so memorable. Hollywood movies were made of it. Firstly, what’s it like to be compared to Big Tobacco in the media? I think the provision of energy to the world is a very, very different proposition to tobacco. The energy that the world has consumed over the last many, many decades has brought about enormous increases in standards of living. So that’s how I think about it. Talking of that, climate activists say the industry never deals with its historic carbon emissions, and the fact that they have taken so much out of the world’s carbon budget. It has been a century. Aside from transitioning to green energy now, is there also a kind of debt to be paid to the planet? I’m not the best person to ask about that. What I can tell you is that in 1997, BP’s chief executive Lord Browne gave a speech at Stanford University, where he was the first leader in our industry to acknowledge that there was a link between human activity and carbon emissions. And if you look at the work that we have done since then, including investing $10 billion and writing off most of it between 2000 and 2010, because we were simply too early, the world wasn’t really ready for renewable energy. We established an internal emissions trading system. We’ve been doing everything that we can to put this on the agenda and be do something about it. We have both an opportunity and a responsibility to help the world transition. I actually believe that with the thousands of engineers and the thousands of scientists and one of the world’s largest trading organizations and decades of experience in the energy markets, we actually can help. Society wants reliable, affordable, clean energy. This is not easy when you have wind, solar, hydro, natural gas, nuclear in the mix. Somebody has to take those forms of energy and knit them together to give a hospital or give a data center what it needs. Think about it. We spent decades going offshore, drilling for oil, finding it, building big facilities, producing it, refining it, putting it into our retail network into your car. We’re going to take offshore wind. We’re going to build that. And this time we’re going to generate electrons rather than molecules, and we’re going to take those electrons in our energy system, take them to our charging network, and put them into your car. I am thinking of buying a car, trying to figure out what to get. Will you buy an electric vehicle? I think it may be a hybrid. The hybrid is a nice representation of a world in transition. You mentioned your trading business, which is a big business. The 40% cut in oil and gas production does not include that. How much of your oil and gas is from trading, selling oil and gas that other producers drill? I don’t have a number in terms of volume. A barrel might change hands 10 times. That’s why we focused on our aim, which is the oil and gas that we take out of the ground and introduce to the world. We’re going to reduce it by 40%. I genuinely believe that if we stick to our plot, and perform while we transform, that’s the formula for success. It’s not one at the expense of the other. We have to do both. Shareholders like what we’re doing. And increasingly, they understand it and back it. Moody’s credit agency published a report in October saying the oil and gas industry has a high probability for default, because they are the least prepared for the energy transition. Even if you are a standout in the industry, are you concerned that investors, that a major credit rating agency, sees the oil and gas industry as just not the place to put your money? Well, allow me to make the value argument. Oersted used to be an oil company called the Danish National Oil Company. It transformed itself from being an oil and gas company into being the world’s largest offshore wind company, and in the process, its value went up by 30 or 40 times. We are at the beginning of a journey that will take time. That has the potential to create enormous amounts of value for our shareholders who invest in us. Good for the world and good for the bottom line. You think you can convince the young generation of that? You talk to our employees, talk to our own young people. They’re very committed. They know this transition is not a light switch. It’s going to be hard work......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 6th, 2021

90+ Black Friday deals you can still get today: Dyson Airwrap, AirPods Pro, Roomba vacuums, and more

Black Friday is over, but you can still find deals just as good as Black Friday all over. Save on top buys from Walmart, Target, Nordstrom, and more. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Apple; Amazon; Target; Nordstrom; Kohl's; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderBlack Friday 2021 is over, but that doesn't mean it's too late to save big. Tech, home and kitchen, beauty and fashion, and health and fitness are all seeing huge discounts, making it a great chance to shop for gifts and big purchases. Insider Reviews works year-round to test products and track prices so we can offer expert buying advice during peak shopping periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.Plenty of retailers started offering big discounts before Black Friday, so don't be surprised if popular items like Apple's AirPods Pro headphones and Instant Pot pressure cookers begin to sell out as the holiday shopping weekend continues. That said, we've seen a few products go out of stock briefly only to return a few hours later.Below, we've selected the best deals we've found during the Black Friday 2021 weekend, with prices from multiple retailers so you can compare and choose. We'll be adding new deals to the list on a regular basis through Cyber Monday, November 29.Check out our comprehensive list of Black Friday sales across the net, from startups to retailers.You can also find the best deals at specific stores like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Nordstrom.Here are 18 more Black Friday deals under $50 that are still up for grabs.Best Black Friday 2021 tech dealsApple AirPods ProThe Apple AirPods Pro look and sound better than previous-generation AirPods. Plus, they have noise cancellation built right into them and integrate perfectly with other Apple devices. $169.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $249.99 | Save 32%$189.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $249.99 | Save 24%$189.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $249.99 | Save 24%$209.00 FROM B&HOriginally $249.00 | Save 16%$399.99 FROM WALMARTRoku Streambar 2020Too much clutter under the TV? The interesting Roku Streambar combines all of the features of a Roku 4K player with a compact soundbar.$79.98 FROM AMAZONOriginally $129.99 | Save 38%$79.98 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $129.99 | Save 38%$79.98 FROM TARGETOriginally $129.99 | Save 38%$99.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $129.99 | Save 24%Google Nest Hub (2nd gen)The Google Nest Hub is a smart display with a unique Sleep Sensing feature to help you monitor your sleep habits. $49.99 FROM KOHL'SOriginally $99.99 | Save 50%$49.98 FROM WALMARTOriginally $99.98 | Save 50%$49.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $99.99 | Save 50%Apple Watch Series 7Much more than a timepiece, the Apple Watch can also be used for keeping track of workouts, making phone calls, sending text messages, setting timers and alarms, counting calories, and more.$379.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $399.00 | Save 5%$379.99 FROM WALMARTOriginally $399.00 | Save 5%$399.00 FROM APPLEApple Watch SE (40mm, GPS)With a recent Apple processor and many of the same features as the Series 7, the Apple Watch SE is a great budget-friendly option.$219.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $279.00 | Save 21%$279.00 FROM APPLEOriginally $279.00 | Save 0%Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (40mm)The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the obvious choice for Android users looking for a comprehensive, quality, premium smartwatch experience. However, it's a shame that the ECG feature is limited specifically to Samsung phone owners. $199.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $279.99 | Save 29%$199.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $249.99 | Save 20%$229.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $279.99 | Save 18%MasterClass 2-for-1 membershipGet two MasterClass subscriptions for the price of one! Each subscription gets you access to all of MasterClass, so you can watch or sample unlimited celebrity and expert-led classes across a wide range of topics.$180.00 FROM MASTERCLASSOriginally $360.00 | Save 50%Sony WH-1000XM4Sony's WH-1000XM4 are our go-to pair of headphones when we look for a balance of sound quality and noise-cancelling performance.$248.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $349.99 | Save 29%$248.00 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $349.99 | Save 29%$249.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $349.99 | Save 29%Bose QuietComfort 45The QuietComfort 45 have a refreshed design with improved noise cancelling and better battery life.$279.00 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $329.00 | Save 15%$279.00 FROM BOSEOriginally $329.00 | Save 15%$279.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $329.00 | Save 15%Apple AirPods (3rd Gen)Apple's third-generation AirPods offer longer battery life, a MagSafe charger, water resistance, and support for spatial audio. $154.99 FROM MICRO CENTEROriginally $179.99 | Save 14%$179.00 FROM APPLE$169.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $179.00 | Save 5%$179.00 FROM BEST BUY$174.98 FROM WALMARTApple Airpods (2nd Generation)You’ll need to pick up your pair from your local Micro Center, but this is a solid deal price for the second-generation Apple AirPods. You can often find them discounted as low as $120, making this extra $5 drop noteworthy. $104.99 FROM MICRO CENTEROriginally $129.99 | Save 19%$114.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $129.99 | Save 12%$114.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $129.99 | Save 12%$119.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $129.99 | Save 8%Apple MacBook Air (M1)The latest MacBook Air released in late 2020 gains Apple's new M1 processor, which brings impressively fast performance and long battery life, for under $1,000, making it the best Apple laptop overall.$899.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $999.99 | Save 10%$999.00 FROM APPLE$899.00 FROM B&HOriginally $999.00 | Save 10%Apple MacBook Pro with M1 Processor (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB)Apple's latest MacBook Pro with the M1 processor is leaps and bounds beyond its predecessor, but the Intel MacBook Pro still has some tricks.$1199.00 FROM B&HOriginally $1299.00 | Save 8%$1299.00 FROM APPLELG 65-inch C1 OLED 4K TVLG’s C1 is one of the best 4K TVs you can buy. The OLED panel delivers incredible image quality with an infinite contrast ratio. This deal price matches the lowest we’ve seen so far.$1796.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $2499.98 | Save 28%$1796.99 FROM WALMARTOriginally $2499.98 | Save 28%Samsung 65-inch Q60A QLED 4K TVSamsung's Q60A is the company's less expensive lineup of premium QLED TVs. $849.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $999.99 | Save 15%Amazon Fire TV 50" Omni SeriesAmazon launched its own smart TVs in fall 2021 and the Omni Series boasts features like hands-free Alexa support and video calling along with the latest Fire TV software.$359.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $509.99 | Save 29%Amazon Echo (4th Gen)The latest Echo speaker from Amazon takes on a spherical design for more effective room-filling audio. $59.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $99.99 | Save 40%$59.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $99.99 | Save 40%$59.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $99.99 | Save 40%Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MaxThe Fire TV Stick 4K is designed to be 40% more powerful than Fire TV Stick 4K. It also adds Wi-Fi 6 support.$34.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $54.99 | Save 36%$34.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $54.99 | Save 36%$34.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $54.99 | Save 36%Ring Video Doorbell (2020)The latest affordable Video Doorbell model from Ring features 1080p recording and improved motion tracking. It's a great deal if you're looking to start adding smart devices to your home. Orders made now will be fulfilled in 6 to 7 weeks.$79.98 FROM AMAZONOriginally $99.99 | Save 20%Amazon All-New KindleThe Kindle allows users to download hundreds, if not thousands, of books straight to the device. This model has a front light that makes it better-suited for night time reading.$49.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $89.99 | Save 44%Vizio Elevate 5.1.4 SoundbarVizio's Elevate soundbar offers a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos experience with performance that rivals many full-fledged home theater systems.$798.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $1099.99 | Save 27%$799.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $1099.99 | Save 27%Yamaha YAS-209 SoundbarYamaha's YAS-209 offers great sound, Amazon Alexa support, and well-balanced functionality for a reasonable price. $299.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $349.99 | Save 14%$299.95 FROM AMAZONOriginally $349.95 | Save 14%Logitech C922x Pro Stream WebcamYou'll also want a decent webcam and mic if you want to be seen on screen, and provide commentary for your gaming.$74.98 FROM AMAZONOriginally $99.99 | Save 25%$79.98 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $99.99 | Save 20%Microsoft Surface Pro 7The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is sleek and portable with excellent performance for on-the-go use — making it still the most premium 2-in-1 tablet to date.$999.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $1329.00 | Save 25%GoPro Hero 10 BlackThis video and still camera has similar capabilities to larger variants, while maintaining the small go-anywhere form-factor it's known for.$349.98 FROM GOPROOriginally $499.99 | Save 30%Best Black Friday 2021 kitchen dealsKitchenAid KFC3516ER 3.5 Cup Food ChopperThe KitchenAid KFC3516ER 3.5 Cup Food Chopper is ideal and convenient for small prepping needs. The size makes it easy to store away or keep on your counter, and the Cyber Monday price makes it easy on your wallet. $39.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $54.99 | Save 27%$39.99 FROM KITCHENAIDOriginally $54.99 | Save 27%Ninja Professional Kitchen System BlenderThe Ninja Professional Kitchen System is a powerful blender that transforms into a food processor or a personal blender with just the swap of an attachment.$99.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $199.99 | Save 50%Ninja Professional Plus Food ProcessorThe Ninja Professional Plus makes food prep fast and easy with presets for chopped vegetables, shredded cheese, more.$79.98 FROM KOHLSOriginally $119.99 | Save 33%Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus BreadmakerThis bread machine kneads thoroughly, bakes evenly, and, unlike many of its competitors, turns out standard-sized loaves. $217.99 FROM BED BATH & BEYONDOriginally $359.99 | Save 39%$359.99 FROM ABTDrinkMate Beverage Carbonation MakerIf you'd like to add fizz to more than just water, consider the Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker, which can carbonate everything from juice to wine.$79.95 FROM AMAZONOriginally $95.93 | Save 17%Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill with Air Fryer, Roast, Bake & DehydrateThe Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 has five functions, including grill, bake, and dehydrate. Its temperatures range between 105°F to 500°F, giving it a lot of versatility in cooking options. Many of the parts are dishwasher safe for easier cleanup. $169.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $229.99 | Save 26%$209.99 FROM KOHL'SOriginally $249.99 | Save 16%Vitamix Explorian BlenderThe renewed Vitamix Explorian is pre-owned, but every bit as good as new and comes with a 90-day Amazon Renewed Guarantee on top of a 3-year full warranty.$289.95 FROM TARGETOriginally $449.99 | Save 36%$289.95 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $345.99 | Save 16%Instant Pot Duo Plus Pressure Cooker BundleThis bundle is a Target exclusive, and it includes an extra silicone egg rack and stainless steel steam rack for your pressure cooking needs. It’s only $60 right now — an excellent value for such a multifunctional kitchen appliance.$59.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $129.99 | Save 54%Our Place Always PanOur Place's Always Pan is multi-functional nonstick pan that's taken the internet by storm. It promises to replace eight different pieces of cookware in your kitchen. It can function as a steamer, saute pan, frying pan, and more. $99.00 FROM OUR PLACEOriginally $145.00 | Save 32%Cuisinart Chef's Classic 17-Piece Hard-Anodized Cookware SetThis nonstick set includes nine different pans, lids to match, and a steamer for a total of 17 pieces. $219.99 FROM KOHL'SOriginally $399.99 | Save 45%Keurig K-Mini Single Serve Coffee MakerThe slim 6- to 12-ounce coffee maker will fit neatly on any kitchen counter and save energy with the auto-off feature after brewing.$49.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $89.99 | Save 44%$49.99 FROM THE HOME DEPOTOriginally $79.98 | Save 37%Bodum Chambord French PressThe Bodum Chambord is about as timeless as French presses get. It's unfussy and operates smoothly, and replacement parts (screens, braces, etc.) are affordable and easily attainable. $25.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $38.00 | Save 34%Best Black Friday 2021 home dealsDyson Airwrap Complete StylerDyson Airwrap Complete Styler is engineered for multiple hair types and styles. Featuring Coanda air styling and propelled by the Dyson digital motor, users can curl, wave, smooth and dry with no extreme heat.$399.99 FROM NEW EGGOriginally $499.99 | Save 20%$549.00 FROM SEPHORA$549.95 FROM DYSON$549.99 FROM ULTA$549.99 FROM BEST BUY$549.00 FROM AMAZONChewy Pet ProductsFor Cyber Monday, Chewy is offering $30 off purchases of $100 or more. This is only for select products, including food, treats, beds, and more.$70.00 FROM CHEWYOriginally $100.00 | Save 30%Dyson Outsize Absolute+The Dyson Outsize Absolute+ is ideal for whole home, deep cleaning with its full-size dustbin and large cleaner head. $749.99 FROM DYSONOriginally $899.99 | Save 17%Dyson V8 AbsoluteBuilt with a soft roller head for hard floors and a motorized cleaner head for carpets, the Dyson V8 Absolute handles all surfaces efficiently.$399.99 FROM DYSONOriginally $449.99 | Save 11%Dyson Cyclone V10 AbsoluteEquipped with a sensor to detect the difference between carpets and hard floors, the Cyclone V10 Absolute is the perfect vacuum cleaner for any room in the house. We've seen it go for as low as $350 before (it's usually $550), but during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you'll get it for $400 while supplies last.$499.99 FROM DYSONOriginally $549.99 | Save 9%Drinkwell Two-Gallon Pet FountainThis two gallon pet drinking fountain is the perfect accessory to make sure your dog or cat (or both) are drinking enough water.$59.95 FROM AMAZONOriginally $74.95 | Save 20%Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set (Queen)If you take your sleep comfort seriously, the pampering touch and good looks of Brooklinen's Luxe Sheets will have you sleeping like a baby.$140.00 FROM BROOKLINENOriginally $175.00 | Save 20%$140.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $175.00 | Save 20%Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 15C MAXQuiet, slim, and powerful, the eufy RoboVac 15C Max is a solid investment if you're looking for a robot vacuum. It's already very affordable at retail price, but you can also often find it on sale, making it an even better deal.$169.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $279.99 | Save 39%$169.99 FROM EUFYOriginally $249.99 | Save 32%iRobot Roomba i3+ (3550) Robot VacuumThe i3+ costs considerably more than your average robot vacuum, but it also does a lot more than the average robot vacuum. It develops personalized cleaning schedules and empties itself. $399.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $599.00 | Save 33%$399.99 FROM IROBOTOriginally $599.99 | Save 33%$399.99 FROM THE HOME DEPOTOriginally $565.47 | Save 29%$399.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $599.99 | Save 33%Shark ION Robot® Vacuum RV750This is one of the cheapest smart vacuums we've seen to date – this far out from the official launch of Walmart's sale. It's tough to imagine this getting much cheaper during the deals event, so it might be wise to act quickly.$143.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $299.99 | Save 52%Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot VacuumThe  Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System thoroughly cleans floors as opposed to pushing a wet cloth around. When paired with the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum, the two make easy work of time-consuming chores.$499.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $749.99 | Save 33%$799.99 FROM BEST BUYBissell SpinWave Robot VacuumThe Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories. The company is also committed to helping homeless pets and helps them find loving homes. $249.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $399.99 | Save 38%$299.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $399.99 | Save 25%Dewalt Atomic 20-Volt Max Compact Drill/Impact Combo Kit This 20-Volt MAX Brushless Compact 2-Tool Combo Kit includes 1 cordless Drill/Driver, 1 cordless Impact Driver, two 20-Volt MAX Lithium Ion Batteries, 1 charger, and a carrying bag. $149.00 FROM THE HOME DEPOTOriginally $229.00 | Save 35%Best Black Friday 2021 gaming dealsNintendo Switch Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Digital Download)The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, but still remains one of the best Switch games out there. Right now, a physical copy is selling for $40, which is a solid price on this rarely discounted game.$35.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $59.99 | Save 42%Nintendo Switch Fire Emblem: Three Houses"Fire Emblem: Three Houses" is a turn-based war strategy game that encourages you to build relationships with your soldiers and master your tactics on the battlefield. $35.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $59.99 | Save 42%$34.99 FROM GAMESTOPOriginally $59.99 | Save 42%$39.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $59.99 | Save 33%$39.88 FROM WALMARTOriginally $59.99 | Save 34%Nintendo eShop $50 Gift CardThe Nintendo eShop is the best place to shop for digital copies of Nintendo's games. This gift card is the perfect gift or investment for anyone with a Nintendo Switch. Better still, Nintendo's eShop offers several sales throughout the year. This means, patient shoppers can double their savings.$45.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $50.00 | Save 10%$50.00 FROM BEST BUY$45.00 FROM NEWEGGOriginally $50.00 | Save 10%Xbox Game Pass for PC (3-Month Membership)Typically, you can get a 3-month Game Pass subscription for $30. Right now, it's only $20, a solid deal. This is the PC version, which gets you EA Play, exclusive member discounts, and unlimited to access to over 100 games. $1.00 FROM MICROSOFTOriginally $29.99 | Save 97%$19.98 FROM AMAZONOriginally $29.99 | Save 33%$19.98 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $29.99 | Save 33%PlayStation Plus 12-Month SubscriptionPlayStation Plus allows gamers to play online, nets them special discounts in the PlayStation Network store, and subscribers get free games each month that remain available as long as the PlayStation Plus subscription is active. $36.99 FROM CDKEYSOriginally $59.99 | Save 38%$39.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $59.99 | Save 33%$39.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $59.99 | Save 33%Microsoft Xbox Series S|X Wireless ControllerThis latest-gen Xbox gamepad is the best Microsoft has ever made, and during Cyber Monday, shoppers can save $20 on this recently released controller.$49.99 FROM MICROSOFTOriginally $59.99 | Save 17%$54.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $59.99 | Save 8%$49.00 FROM GAME STOPOriginally $54.99 | Save 11%$52.99 FROM WALMARTOriginally $59.99 | Save 12%Death Loop for PlayStation 5“Death Loop” is an unusual first-person shooter that challenges players to escape a day-long time loop by assassinating specific targets. The game is a great pick for fans of spy movies, sci-fi, and creative gunplay.$29.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $59.99 | Save 50%Call of Duty Vanguard for PlayStation 4The latest Call of Duty game is now on sale for $20 off, just a few weeks after its release.$39.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $59.99 | Save 35%$44.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $59.99 | Save 25%Logitech G305 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming MouseCompact and portable, the Logitech G305 is great to take on the go. It's best if you prefer smaller mice and right now it's only $40, a great price drop from a typical selling price of $50.$29.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $59.99 | Save 50%$29.99 FROM WALMARTOriginally $48.97 | Save 39%Nintendo Switch Ring Fit Adventure"Ring Fit Adventure" for the Nintendo Switch uses the exclusive "Ring-Con" attachment and a leg strap to track movement and provide resistance for workouts. The game also includes an adventure mode. Right now, it's selling for $55 at Target and Amazon, $25 off its usual price and the lowest price we've ever seen on this game.$54.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $79.98 | Save 31%$54.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $79.98 | Save 31%$54.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $80.00 | Save 33%$54.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $79.98 | Save 31%Best Black Friday streaming dealsHulu Monthly Subscription (Deal)Save a huge 85% on an ad-supported Hulu subscription for an entire year. That amounts to just 99 cents per month. This deal is live until Monday, November 29. $0.99 FROM HULUOriginally $6.99 | Save 86%Philo TVIf you want your streaming service to cost less per month than a single trip for the family to Starbucks, Philo TV is made with you in mind.$5.00 FROM PHILOOriginally $25.00 | Save 80%Disney Plus Free Trial with Amazon Music UnlimitedNew Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can get six months of Disney Plus for free when they sign up. Current Music Unlimited members can get three months of Disney Plus. Music Unlimited costs $8 a month for Prime members or $10 a month without Prime.$0.00 FROM AMAZONAmazon Prime Video Channel Add-OnsPrime Video subscribers can choose from a variety of channel-add ons including Starz, Showtime, Paramount+, AMC+, Discovery+, and more.$0.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $10.99 | Save 91%YouTube PremiumYouTube Premium lets you stream videos and music on YouTube without any ads. The service also features exclusive programs.FREE FROM YOUTUBEOriginally $11.99 | Save 100%Best Black Friday health & fitness dealsTheragun PROThe Theragun Pro is our top pick: a powerful, customizable, and durable massager that's worth every bit of its $600 price tag. $399.99 FROM TARGETOriginally $599.99 | Save 33%$399.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $599.00 | Save 33%$399.00 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $599.00 | Save 33%$399.00 FROM THERABODYOriginally $599.00 | Save 33%23andMe Ancestry + Health KitThe 23andMe DNA Ancestry + Health Kit tells you which illnesses you're predisposed to and gives you a full look at your ancestry.$99.00 FROM AMAZONOriginally $199.00 | Save 50%$99.00 FROM 23ANDMEOriginally $199.00 | Save 50%AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity TestThe Ancestry DNA Origins + Ethnicity Test gets you access to the largest customer database, which means more detailed results and more family matches.$49.00 FROM ANCESTRYOriginally $99.00 | Save 51%$49.00 FROM WALMARTOriginally $99.00 | Save 51%Fitbit LuxeThe Fitbit Luxe is the company's latest fitness band that comes with a sleek design and advanced health features like stress management and the ability to measure heart rate variation.$99.99 FROM KOHL'SOriginally $149.99 | Save 33%$99.95 FROM FITBITOriginally $149.94 | Save 33%$99.95 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $149.94 | Save 33%Mirror from lululemonThis isn't just a mirror. It's a cardio class, it's a yoga studio, it's a boxing ring, it's your new personal trainer, and it's so much more. For Cyber Monday, Mirror is on sale for $500 with the code "CYBERMONDAY20"$995.00 FROM MIRROROriginally $1495.00 | Save 33%Hydro Flask 32-Ounce Wide Mouth This bottle has all the hallmark features of a Hydro Flask water bottle — 12-24 hours of temperature retention, powder color coating that won't chip or fade with time, a silicone twist top — with the very convenient wide mouth for easy pouring and drinking.$33.71 FROM HYDRO FLASKOriginally $44.95 | Save 25%Amazon HaloAmazon's Halo fitness tracker can analyze the tone of your voice to help you understand how you sound to others.$54.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $99.99 | Save 45%LifeSpan TR1200i Folding TreadmillThe TR1200i is the baby sister of our top pick for a folding treadmill, the TR300i, with fewer built-in training programs and fewer fancy features like manual instead of digital buttons. But it's nearly the same size, has the same motor, and the same shock absorption — but for significantly cheaper.$899.00 FROM LIFESPANOriginally $1199.00 | Save 25%Best Black Friday style & beauty dealsDyson Airwrap Complete StylerDyson Airwrap Complete Styler is engineered for multiple hair types and styles. Featuring Coanda air styling and propelled by the Dyson digital motor, users can curl, wave, smooth and dry with no extreme heat.$399.99 FROM NEW EGGOriginally $499.99 | Save 20%$549.00 FROM SEPHORA$549.95 FROM DYSON$549.99 FROM ULTA$549.99 FROM BEST BUY$549.00 FROM AMAZONL.L.Bean Wicked Good Slippers - Men'sThis shearling-lined, leather-bottom slipper is one of the best men's slippers we've ever tried.$75.65 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $89.00 | Save 15%L.L.Bean Wicked Good Shearling-Lined Slides - Women'sThese ridiculously-cozy, shearling-lined slides are easy to slip on and off, and keep your feet toasty around the house.$67.15 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $79.00 | Save 15%L.L.Bean Toddlers' Wicked Good SlippersEverything we love about L.L.Bean's Wicked Good Slippers — but mini. These shearling-lined, leather-soled booties will keep kid's feet, sizes 3-10, toasty around the house and in a stroller.$33.96 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $39.95 | Save 15%Lululemon Hooded Define JacketA fan-favorite, now with a hood. Between the technical fabric and a do-anything fit, it's easy to see why this one's a hit. Right now you can save up to 50% on this versatile piece, but sizes are selling out quickly. $64.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $128.00 | Save 50%Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise TightLululemon is, in many ways, the genesis of athleisure, so it's not surprising that the company has an edge in the space.$69.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $98.00 | Save 30%Lululemon Metal Vent Breathe Short SleeveLululemon Metal Vent Breathe Short Sleeve $49.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $78.00 | Save 37%Bombas Women's Gripper Slipper (Sherpa Lined) 2-PackA mix between socks and slippers, Bombas' Gripper Slippers include a cozy sherpa lining and sole grippers to prevent slips. $72.95 FROM BOMBASOriginally $96.00 | Save 24%Columbia Men's Lake 22 Down Hooded JacketThis water-resistant jacket is stocked with 650-fill power down insulation, zippered hand pockets, and a structured hood to keep you zipped up and toasty through any winter weather.$69.98 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $140.00 | Save 50%Levi's 501 Original Fit JeansA blank canvas for self-expression, featuring the iconic straight fit and signature button fly.$58.80 FROM LEVI'SOriginally $98.00 | Save 40%Adidas Climacool VentoThe Adidas Climacool Vento features a highly breathable mesh upper to help keep your feet cool.$98.00 FROM ADIDASOriginally $140.00 | Save 30%Nike Adapt Auto MaxThe Nike Adapt Auto Max uses advanced technology to automatically form to your foot without laces.$286.63 FROM NIKEOriginally $400.00 | Save 28%Nike Space Hippie 01The Nike Space Hippie 01 is made from 50% recycled materials and features a lightweight, track-inspired look.$77.58 FROM NIKEOriginally $130.00 | Save 40%Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear FoundationFor a matte, but not stone-like complexion, try Fenty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation.$27.00 FROM SEPHORAOriginally $36.00 | Save 25%$27.00 FROM FENTYOriginally $36.00 | Save 25%Crocs Classic Clog (Unisex)The shoe that really started it all, the Classic Clog is comfortable, breathable, and easy to slip on whenever. With over 20 fun colors to choose from, you can’t go wrong.$39.99 FROM CROCSOriginally $49.99 | Save 20%$27.45 FROM AMAZONDagne Dover Indi Diaper BackpackDagne Dover's Indi Diaper Backpack adds a stylish neutral flair while holding every basic essential.$160.00 FROM DAGNE DOVEROriginally $200.00 | Save 20%Everlane Glove Boot ReKnitEverlane's Glove Boot is a sleek boot made with stretchy, sustainable knit fabric and a walkable heel for all-day comfort. $46.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $115.00 | Save 60%OutdoorVoices The Exercise DressOutdoorVoices makes a few of our favorite athleisure items, and they're another example of a company that can balance form and function.$75.00 FROM OUTDOORVOICESOriginally $100.00 | Save 25%Rough Linen St. Barts Linen RobeThe Rough Linen St. Barts Robe is made from top-notch linen that offers a light feel and a cool, casual look.$131.93 FROM ROUGH LINENOriginally $167.00 | Save 21%Kiehl's Since 1851 Avocado Nourishing Hydration MaskWinter is coming, and Kiehls' Avocado Mask is here to provide your skin with hydration all season long. This nourishing treatment infuses your face with avocado and evening primrose oils, offering sumptuous moisture after just one use. Plus, it's green tint is a total throwback. You can save 50% on a jar during Black Friday sale. $22.50 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $45.00 | Save 50%$22.50 FROM MACY'SOriginally $45.00 | Save 50%Giorgio Armani Lip Magnet Liquid LipstickA liquid lip color that gives you a super matte look, but it's so light it feels like a lip stain. The formula is highly pigmented, smudge-resistant, and comfortable on your lips.$19.00 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $38.00 | Save 50%Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow DefinerThere's a reason why Anastasia Beverly Hills' Brow Definer is a favorite among beauty editors. The angled applicator allows you to sketch on hair-like strokes, providing you with a natural-looking fill every single time. The Definer is on sale during Nordstrom's Black Friday sale, and it's one of the best prices we've seen for this cult-favorite product. You can shop it in every color for just $16. $16.10 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $23.00 | Save 30%Nike Sportswear Essential Fleece PantsMade from soft fleece material, these sweats are perfect for everyday comfort.$48.00 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $60.00 | Save 20%Thread & Supply Double Breasted PeacoatThis peacoat from Thread & Supply is a classic with a twist. The oversized buttons extend up the lapel to the collar, giving you the option to bundle up if necessary. And if you don't love it in black, never fear — you can save 31% on this coat in black, camel, or light gray. $39.90 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $58.00 | Save 31%True & Co. True Body Triangle Convertible Strap BraletteThe convertible straps on this wireless bra can be worn either straight or crisscrossed, and the smooth material appears invisible under clothes.$30.80 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $44.00 | Save 30%Spanx Faux Leather LeggingsMade with the same level of support as its signature shapewear but with a little extra stretch, these leggings are designed to not only make you look great but feel great, too. $78.40 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $98.00 | Save 20%$78.40 FROM SPANX Originally $98.00 | Save 20%Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise TightLululemon is, in many ways, the genesis of athleisure, so it's not surprising that the company has an edge in the space.$69.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $98.00 | Save 30%Chaps Mens Long Sleeve Button DownMade from an easy-to-care-for cotton blend and a dose of stretch, this men's button-down shirt will keep you looking polished all day.$19.98 FROM WALMARTOriginally $60.00 | Save 67%Nine West Car Coat CardiganThi cozy topper is part coat, part cardigan, and will keep you warm all winter. Save an extra 15% on this cardigan with the code ENJOY15 at checkout.$21.24 FROM KOHL'SOriginally $60.00 | Save 65%Black Friday 2021 FAQSWhat is Black Friday?Black Friday is an annual sales event that traditionally happens at the end of November, marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The savings event is one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year — sales are so high that the day can push a retailer into "the black," or solvency.We've been seeing noteworthy price drops for the entire month of November, with all-time lows cropping up more and more as the day gets closer.When is Black Friday 2021?Black Friday is always the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, Black Friday fell on November 26. However, we're seeing Black Friday-caliber deals continue even after Black Friday.Retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy have already kicked off their Black Friday sales, days before the holiday itself.What time did Black Friday start?Technically speaking, Black Friday started at 12:00 a.m. local time on November 26 for online retailers. However, Black Friday sales started whenever each retailer decided their deals will go live.A handful of retailers, like Walmart and Amazon, started early and have extended sales past Black Friday.What time do stores open on Black Friday weekend?Here are the opening times for the major retailers we're tracking throughout Black Friday weekend. Keep in mind that you can shop all the retailers below, plus others like Amazon, around the clock online.Apple: Varies by store, check store hours here.Bed Bath & Beyond: 6 a.m.Best Buy: 5 a.m.Dick's Sporting Goods: 5 a.m.The Home Depot: 6 a.m.Kohl's: 5 a.m.Lowe's: 6 a.m.Macy's: 6 a.m.Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack: Varies by store, check store hours here.Sephora: Varies by store, check store hours here.Target: 7 a.m.Ulta Beauty: 6 a.m.Walmart: 5 a.m.How long do Black Friday sales last?Don't be fooled by the name that suggests Black Friday is a single day. It's most definitely not. It's more like a shopping season that begins in early November. There are still Black Friday deals available right now.What should you buy on Black Friday?Since it falls a few weeks before the gift-giving season, Black Friday provides excellent opportunities to buy and save on all your holiday gifts before the last-minute rush. It's nearly guaranteed that you'll get great value for your money on certain products during Black Friday weekend — but some items tend to see better discounts at other times of the year. If you go in knowing what you're looking for, you're less likely to be ripped off by a fancy-looking coupon or to spend money on products you don't need.Shoppers saw tons of great deals — including so-called "doorbusters" — online before and early on in Black Friday. During the event, prices drop to all-time lows, often beating out prices we see over the course of the year. The sale covers every product category: tech, home and kitchen, fashion, and smart home. This Black Friday, we've seen similar offers to the ones we saw on Amazon Prime Day, except more wide-ranging.We recommend focusing on the following product categories if you want the best deals: TVsSmart home devicesGaming consoles and video gamesKitchen appliancesHistorically, Black Friday has been a great time to purchase big-ticket electronics — especially larger TVs. Whether you're looking for a top-of-the-line Samsung set or LG OLED, or a budget-friendly TCL or Hisense model, Black Friday weekend still has several deals.Much like Amazon Prime Day, we saw tons of discounts on smart home products last Black Friday. Amazon Echo products dropped to their lowest prices ever, plus we saw several discounts and bundles on Google's recently released products.This Black Friday we have seen discounts on the latest Xbox and Playstation games. While we didn't see any markdowns on new consoles last year, we did see a few bundles crop up and we've seen more of them in 2021. If you're looking for a kitchen upgrade, Black Friday is a great time to shop. We saw big discounts on Instant Pot pressure cookers, KitchenAid appliances, pots and pans, plus everything else you'll want for the upcoming holiday season.Of course, the deals found during Black Friday are incredibly wide-ranging. There have also been several deals on diapers, toilet paper, and other household essentials.Is Black Friday or Cyber Monday better?It's complicated, and it matters less every year.For those unfamiliar, Cyber Monday traditionally comes three days after Black Friday, on Monday. However, we've seen Black Friday and Cyber Monday slowly merge and expand to a weeklong, or even a month-long affair. Different products receive better discounts on each day, and the deals that each retailer offers will vary.A good rule of thumb to follow: If you think you see a good deal, (e.g., one we recommend) create the order as soon as possible. While you can always cancel or return a product, it's impossible to take advantage of an inactive, or expired deal.Suppose you purchase a discounted product during Black Friday and see a more significant markdown at another retailer come Cyber Monday. Don't sweat it.You can ask the original storefront to match the price (some automatically refund you the difference), or you can return or cancel the order, then place a new order with a better price. Some orders won't even ship during the weekend, which makes it easy to cancel orders.For those who can shop in-person during Black Friday weekend, we've found that it's better to shop that way in these situations:For expensive productsFor major storesFor this year's productsWhat stores have Black Friday deals still? Outside of a few notable exceptions like REI, nearly every major retailer and direct-to-consumer company is offering markdowns during the event. We've seen deals from Walmart, Best Buy, Dell, Amazon, Adorama, Lowe's, The Home Depot, and more.As we do every Black Friday, we are sifting through all of the offers and rounding up the best deals from your favorite retailers.Are there be Black Friday shipping delays?Shipping delays and major shopping holidays go hand in hand, and this year is no exception. Supply chain issues are cropping up, but they probably won't ruin your Christmas. To be safe, try buying your gifts as early as possible to avoid stock issues. With so many deals rolling out early, that's easier than ever.When did Black Friday ads come out?Black Friday ad scans are now available, including Walmart, Kohl's, Macy's, Amazon, and Target. For the full list of available ads, check out the catalog compiled on BlackFriday.com.Best Black Friday Deals we saw last yearLast year, we rounded up the best Black Friday deals we could find. Some of the best deals we found discounted many products over 50% with hundreds of dollars in savings. Here are some of the best markdowns we saw last year. iRobot Roomba 675 robot vacuum was $179 on Amazon, originally $229.LG 75" 80 Series smart webOS TV was $999 at Best Buy, originally $1,499.Insignia 24-inch Fire TV was $100 from Amazon, originally $170.Lenovo smart clock was $35 from Best Buy, originally $80.Samsung 1TB internal SSD was $100 from Walmart, originally $280.How we select the best Black Friday dealsWe only choose products that meet our high standard of coverage and that we've either used ourselves or researched carefully.We'll compare the prices among top retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart and include only the deals that are better than all others offered (not including promotional discounts that come from using certain credit cards). All deals will be at least 20% off, with the occasional exception for products that are rarely discounted or provide an outsize value.Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 27th, 2021

Fusion GPS interview with House panel leaves huge pile of breadcrumbs for Trump-Russia investigators

President Donald Trump listens as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson speaks during an event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Washington.Associated Press/Evan VucciThe House Intelligence Committee released the transcript of its interview with Glenn Simpson, the cofounder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS.The transcript left a massive pile of breadcrumbs for Trump-Russia investigators to sift through as they pursue their probe into Russia's election interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.Editor's note: This article was updated after a Nov. 3, 2021 federal indictment accused Igor Danchenko, a Russia expert who contributed to the so-called Steele dossier, of lying to investigators about receiving information from Sergei Millian. Millian repeatedly denied he was a source for any material in the dossier.The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released the transcript of the panel's November interview with Glenn Simpson, the cofounder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The House investigators' line of questioning touched upon subjects that the Senate Judiciary Committee did not delve into, largely due to a shift in focus spearheaded by the committee's top Democrat, Adam Schiff. Rather than home in on the nature of Simpson's relationship with Christopher Steele — the former British intelligence officer hired by Fusion to research Trump's Russia ties — Schiff and his Democratic colleagues asked Simpson pointed questions about Russian money laundering, Russian organized crime, and whether Trump could be susceptible to Russian blackmail.The result was a long trail of breacrumbs for investigators probing Trump's relationship with Russia."You mentioned that you'd done a lot of work as a journalist in terms of Russian organized crime, financial crimes, organized crime more generally," Schiff said. "What can you tell us about how the Russians launder their money and whether that was an issue of concern during the first phase of your work for Free Beacon?"Fusion GPS was first hired by the conservative Washington Free Beacon in late 2015 to conduct opposition research on Trump. The research was later funded by the DNC via the law firm Perkins Coie. "I guess the general thing I would say is that, you know, the Russians are far more sophisticated in their criminal organized crime activities than the Italians, and they're a lot more global," Simpson replied. "They understand finance a lot better. And so they tend to use quite elaborate methods to move money...I mean, if you can think of a way to launder money, the Russians are pretty good at it."Glenn Simpson.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/APSimpson explained that "real estate deals" were a common Russian method of hiding and moving money. Asked whether Fusion had found "evidence" of corruption and illicit finance related to the purchase of Trump properties, Simpson replied that his firm had seen "patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering."Schiff pounced: "What facts came to your attention that concerned you that the buying and selling of properties - the buying and selling of Trump properties might indicate money laundering?" he asked."There was -- well, for one thing, there was various criminals were buying the properties," Simpson replied. "So there was a gangster -- a Russian gangster living in Trump Tower."The gangster went by Taiwanchik, and he'd been running a "high-stakes gambling ring" out of Trump Tower, Simpson said. The gangster also "rigged the skating competition at the Salt Lake Olympics" and sat in the VIP section of the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013 along with Trump "and lots of other Kremlin biggies," Simpson said.Panama, Toronto, Scotland and IrelandAsked whether the Russian government would have been aware of the Russian mafia's efforts to move or hide money in Trump properties, Simpson replied: "The Russian mafia is essentially under the dominion of the Russian Government and Russian Intelligence Services.""And many of the oligarchs are also mafia figures," he continued. "And the oligarchs, during this period of consolidation of power by Vladimir Putin, when I was living in Brussels and doing all this work, was about him essentially taking control over both the oligarchs and the mafia groups. And so basically everyone in Russia works for Putin now." Other concerning patterns, Simpson said, included "fast turnover deals and deals where there seemed to have been efforts to disguise the identity of the buyer."Specifically, he said, "a project in Panama, the one in Toronto. Those both got a lot of fraud associated with them, a lot of fraud allegations, a lot of activity that I would say smacks of fraud, and a lot of Russia mafia figures listed as buyers who may or may not have actually put money into it." NBC News reported in November that Trump's Panama hotel had organized crime ties. Donald Trump (2nd L) poses with his children Donald Jr. (L), Ivanka and Eric (R) during a news conference to mark the opening of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto April 16, 2012.Mike Cassese/ReutersA Russian state-owned bank under US sanctions, whose CEO met with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner in December 2016, helped finance the construction of the president's 65-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto.The bank, Vnesheconombank, or VEB, bought $850 million of stock in a Ukrainian steelmaker from the billionaire Russian-Canadian developer Alexander Shnaider, who was constructing the hotel at the time. Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier asked Simpson about Schnaider during the interview."Schnaider had no previous hotel or condo development experience," she said. "His most apparent qualification seemed to be that he made a lot of money quickly." Simpson called Schnaider among "the most interesting" of the Trump-Russia characters, noting that his father-in-law was a "very important figure in the history of the KGB-Mafia alliance.""I think that there is a lot of information to be had from Canadian law enforcement and from Belgian law enforcement about some of these characters," Simpson said.Simpson said Trump's golf courses in Scotland and Ireland were also "concerning" because financial statements obtained by Fusion showed "enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources.""At least on paper it says it's from The Trump Organization, but it's hundreds of millions of dollars," Simpson said. "And these golf course are just, you know, they're sinks. They don't actually make any money."GOP Rep. Tom Rooney said "the story about [Trump] financing Doonbeg in Ireland through money that we can't really trace but has sort of the fingerprints of Russian mobsters" was "fascinating."Doonbeg is the home of Trump's hotel and golf course in Ireland."If we knew that Donald Trump was working with the Russian mafia to fund Doonbeg in Ireland, then there's no way he would be President," Rooney said. "So, I mean, that's why it's so fascinating."Roger Stone, Julian Assange, and Nigel FarageSchiff asked Simpson later whether he uncovered "any information regarding a connection between Trump or those around him and Wikileaks" — the self-described radical transparency organization founded by Julian Assange that published emails Russia had stolen from the Democratic National Committee."Roger Stone bragged about having his contact," Simpson replied, referring to Stone's public comments about having an intermediary with Assange. "We tried to figure out who the contact was."We started going into who Stone was and who his relationships were with, and essentially the trail led to sort of international far right. And, you know, Brexit happened, and Nigel Farage became someone that we were very interested in, and I still think it's very interesting."Farage is a British politican who headed the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP) from 2006-2009 and again from 2010-2016. Farage spearheaded the Brexit movement."So I have formed my own opinions that went through - that there was a somewhat unacknowledged relationship between the Trump people and the UKIP people and that the path to Wikileaks ran through that," Simpson said. "And I still think that today."Donald Trump and Nigel Farage.Nigel Farage/TwitterSchiff then asked whether the data company Cambridge Analytica, whose parent company is based in the UK, was the link between the Trump campaign and the Brexit campaign.Simpson replied that the billionaire Mercer family, which has been credited with paving the way to Trump's victory, were "signficant" — moreso than Cambridge Analytica, which he said may have been "selling snake oil."Simpson also mentioned a "Bannon Stone associate" named Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, an American associated with UKIP who he believed was "a significant figure in this.""Were you able to find any factual links between the Mercers and Assange or Wikileaks or Farage?" Schiff asked.Simpson pointed to Farage's trips to New York, and said he had been told, but had not confirmed, that "Nigel Farage had additional trips to the Ecuadoran Embassy...and that he provided data to Julian Assange.""What kind of data?" Schiff asked."A thumb drive," Simpson replied.'It appears the Russians...infiltrated the NRA'Speier went on to ask Simpson why Russia seemed so interested in the National Rifle Association.A McClatchy article published on Thursday morning revealed that the FBI is investigating whether Russian money flowed into the NRA via a Kremlin-linked banker named Alexander Torshin, which was then donated to the Trump campaign. "It appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA," Simpson said. "And there is more than one explanation for why. But I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations."Simpson said Fusion spent "a lot of time investigating Mr. Torshin," who is "well known to Spanish law enforcement for money laundering activity."Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses members of the National Rifle Association during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016.Reuters/John Sommers II"He is one of the more important figures, but, you know, another woman with whom he was working, Maria Butina, also was a big Trump fan in Russia, and then suddenly showed up here and started hanging around the Trump transition after the election and rented an apartment and enrolled herself at AU, which I assume gets you a visa," Simpson said.Maria Butina has attempted to build a pro-gun movement in Russia, where gun laws are strict and there is little interest by Russian citizens — and Russian President Vladimir Putin — to loosen them.Butina was a former assistant to Torshin and reportedly claimed at a post-Election Day party that she had been a part of the Trump campaign's communications with Russia, according to The Daily Beast.The Agalarovs, Kaveladze, and Crocus GroupSchiff asked Simpson what he knew about Trump's relationship with Aras Agalarov, the Russian-Azerbaijani billionaire who helped bring Trump's Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013.Simpson replied that the Agalarovs started operating in the US "around the time of the fall of the Soviet Union and are associated with people who are connected to previous episodes of money laundering that are serious." "Knowing what you do about the Agalarovs, what do you think is the significance of the fact that the – that Aras Agalarov was responsible, at least according to these public emails, for setting up the meeting at Trump Tower?" Schiff asked, referring to the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower between top Trump campaign officials and several Russian nationals. "I think it's a reasonable interpretation that that was a Russian Government-directed operation of some sort, based on what I know now," Simpson replied.Russian real estate developer Aras Agalarov (L) talks with his son, singer Emin Agalarov, during a news conference following the 2013 Miss USA pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 16, 2013.Thomson ReutersHe left another clue: "I think this tax court case involving the Agalarovs is an important document. I think that there's – I guess going back to your subpoena question, I also – you know, the Crocus Group has a much longer history in the United States than people realize, and I think there's all kind of good documents." The Crocus Group is Agalarov's development company. Simpson said that Irakly Kaveladze, a representative of Aras Agalarov and his son, Emin, is another important player."I think that there is a lot to find out about Kaveladze," Simpson said. "But I have a little bit of knowledge of Kaveladze and a little bit of knowledge of the Agalarovs. Kaveladze surfaced in a previous money laundering investigation. I think there is more information about that money laundering investigation in the possession of the government than just the GAO report."Kaveladze was implicated in a Russian money-laundering scheme in 2000, during which investigators found that several Russians and Eastern Europeans had formed shell companies and used them to move money through American banks.Kaveladze has long served a far more important role than just a translator for the Agalarovs. He is the vice president of Crocus Group, and he met with Trump in 2013 during the Miss Universe pageant (Kaveladze can be seen standing behind Emin Agalarov as he speaks with Trump in a video taken in Moscow in 2013.)Simpson also suggested that the committee examine the travel histories of Trump's children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, "and whether they had other meetings with Russians." "And specifically, the connections between the Abramovichs and Ivanka and Jared is something that requires looking into, if it hasn't been," Simpson said, referring to Roman Abramovich and Jared Kushner.Dmitry Rybolovlev and Igor SechinSteele told a reporter in December that investigators examining Trump's Russia connections needed "to look at the contracts for the hotel deals and land deals" that Trump had pursued with Russian nationals."Check their values against the money Trump secured via loans,"  Steele told The Guardian's Luke Harding. "The difference is what's important."Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev that has come under scrutiny by the special counsel Robert Mueller.Simpson emphasized the suspicion surrounding that home sale during his interview."When we first heard about it, it didn't fit with my timeline of when Trump seemed to have gotten deeply involved with the Russians," Simpson said. "Later, as I understood more, I began to realize that I actually was in the sort of first trimester of the Trump-Russia relationship, in that it actually fit in pretty well with some of the early things that had happened."Dmitri Rybolovlev of Russia, President of AS Monaco Football Club attends Monaco's Ligue 1 soccer match against Paris St Germain at Louis II stadium in Monaco March 1, 2015.Reuters/Eric GaillardRybolovlev, a multibillionaire who was an early investor in one of the world's most lucrative fertilizer companies, bought a Palm Beach property from Trump for $95 million in 2008, two years after Trump put it on the market for $125 million; Trump had purchased it for $41 million in 2004.Rybolovlev has never lived in the mansion and has since torn it down, but an adviser, Sergey Chernitsyn, told Business Insider last year that there was "every prospect that this investment will turn out to be profitable."Rybolovlev's cash infusion into Trump's bank account is believed to be the most expensive home sale in US history. According to PolitiFact, 2008 was the year Trump Entertainment Resorts missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment and later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reorganize.Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, told Prospect Magazine in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."What lingers for Trump may be what deals — on what terms — he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money" when other banks would not loan to him, Dearlove said.Simpson said his view of Rybolvlev's importance changed as he began to learn more about him."In particular, I didn't know in the early period that he was closely linked to Igor Sechin, and that, in fact, he was accused of essentially destroying an entire city environmentally with his potash mining operations," Simpson said.Sechin is the CEO of Russia's state oil company, Rosneft,Rybolvlev "managed to get out of it and walk out of Russia with billions of dollars with the apparent assistance of Sechin and Sechin's people," he continued. "And subsequently, received a report from a Russian émigré who is familiar with these events that...there were political or corruption aspects to that."Additionally, Simpson said, he was "intrigued" by Rybolovelv's travel in August 2016 and the extent to which it coincided with Kushner and Ivanka Trump's travel around the same time."Cohen and Ivanka and Jared and Trump, and I can't remember whether Manafort's in this mix too, are all in the Hamptons area in August, and Dmitry Rybolovlev's plane is somewhere nearby, and flies to Nice," Simpson said, referring to the Trump Organization's lawyer Michael Cohen and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort."And then most of these guys sort of fall off the radar and then, you know, I think it's the 12th of August, Rybolovlev's plane lands in Dubrovnik, and Jared and Ivanka surface in Dubrovnik," he said. "And I don't know how they got there or whether they got there on his plane."Sergei Millian and Michael CohenSimpson mentioned in his testimony that Fusion GPS had begun to scrutinize another trip Trump Organization representatives took to Moscow to promote a vodka brand. That trip was organized by Sergei Millian, the Belarus-born businessman who worked with the Trump Organization."When we looked at him, we found that he ran a sort of shadowy kind of trade group called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, which is -- Russians are known to use chambers of commerce and trade groups for intelligence operations," Simpson said.Sergei Millian at an event following Trump's inauguration on January 20th.Screenshot/FacebookMillian, who changed his name when he arrived in the US from Siarhei Kukuts to Sergei Millian, founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in 2006 and has described himself as an exclusive broker for the Trump Organization with respect to the company's potential real-estate dealings in Russia.He attended several black-tie events at Trump's inauguration, and told the Russian news agency RIA that he had been in touch with the Trump Organization as late as April 2016. He was also photographed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016 with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a longtime business associate of Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort.It was around that time that Millian's organization, the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, was looking for "delegates" to attend the Russian Oil & Gas Forum in Moscow.But Millian appears to have begun downplaying his ties to the Trump Organization after Western reporters started digging into Trump's Russia ties last summer.Contrary to what he told RIA, Millian told Business Insider in an email earlier this year that the last time he worked on a Trump-brand project was "in Florida around 2008." He did not respond to a request to clarify the discrepancy.Millian had two different resumes, according to Simpson: "In one resume he said he was from Belarus and he went to Minsk State, and then in another he was from Moscow and went to Moscow State," Simpson said. "In one he said he worked for the Belarussian Foreign Ministry; in the other, he said he worked for the Russian Foreign Ministry."Additionally, Millian "was connected to" Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen.Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal lawyer, arrives in Trump Tower in New York City.Stephanie Keith/Reuters"Michael Cohen was very adamant that he didn't actually have a connection to Sergie, even though he was one of only like 100 people who followed Sergi on Twitter," Simpson said. "And they -- we had Twitter messages back and forth between the two of them just - we just pulled them off of Twitter." Cohen acknowledged to Business Insider earlier this year that Millian emailed him during the campaign. But he said he rarely if ever responded to the emails and stopped communicating with Millian in November 2016. Simpson said Fusion came to understand more about Cohen as they continued their research."We gradually began to understand more about ·Michael Cohen, the President's lawyer, and his background, and that he had a lot of connections to the former Soviet Union, and that he seemed to have associations with organized crime figures in New York and Florida, Russian organized crime figures," Simpson said.The Center for National Interest and trips to HungarySchiff asked Simpson whether there were other issues that came to his attention that were not contained in the Steele dossier "that you think we ought to be aware of that you either were able to substantiate in part, or you were not able to fully investigate."Simpon brought up the Center for the National Interest and its president and CEO, Dimitri Simes — a Russian expat described by Simpson as "a suspected Russian agent" known to the FBI.A biography of Simes on the Center's website says he was selected to lead the Center by former President Richard Nixon, "to whom he served as an informal foreign policy advisor and with whom he traveled regularly to Russia and other former Soviet states, as well as Western and Central Europe.""There are a number of Russian defectors who, I think, maybe could speak to that," Simpson said, referring to Simes and the Center for the National Interest."I think there are some records around that might reflect some of that," he continued. "And I think that is — given their fundamental role in creating the Trump foreign policy, I think that is a really important area."Simpson also pointed to "a lot of unexplained travel by various people" associated with Trump to Hungary, whose president Viktor Orban "is essentially a Putin puppet," Simpson said.Orban has ushered in a new era of anti-migrant, pro-Russia policies since taking office in 2010.Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU, "has a big station" in Hungary, too, Simpson said.Among the Trump associates who traveled to Hungary: Sebastian Gorka, "about three times," Simpson noted. Gorka was reportedly wanted by Hungarian police on gun-related charges, BuzzFeed reported on Thursday.Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and JD Gordon also traveled to Hungary in 2016. "I guess this is transitioning into another area, if you are interested in looking at things, is, you know, the European travel of certain people. And I would include Jared and lvanka in that," Simpson said.Read the full transcript below: Simpson testimony by natasha on Scribd Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 16th, 2021

26 best tech gifts for women that she"ll love this holiday season

Tech devices make great gifts. These are the best tech gifts for women that she'll actually want to get this holiday season. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. The Fitbit Versa 3 makes a great gift for women who want a fitness tracker that doubles as a smartwatch. Fitbit Tech products make great gifts for anyone and everyone - including the women in your life. Ahead of Black Friday, we've found some incredibly useful tech gifts that will best fit her life and style. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. Gift-giving season is upon us again, and so is the mad scramble to find the perfect present for everyone on your list. Luckily, there are tons of worthwhile gadgets to choose from when coming up with the most ideal gifts for the women in our lives. Forget cute power banks that only have enough juice for one charge, rechargeable heating pads dressed up as llamas that don't really give off enough heat, and jewelry health trackers that don't really work. Women lead busy lives, and they need tech gifts that are reliable, robust, and most importantly, useful and practical. So, if you are seeking the best tech gifts for your wife, daughter, sister, mother, or friend, let us be your guide.From budget options that will set you back less than $50, like a phone wallet, to more expensive items that she'll never stop using, like a compact e-reader, we found the best tech gifts for women this holiday season. A phone wallet and grip PopSocket PopWallet+ Grip, available at PopSocket, from $25While we do love those adorable PopSockets, especially because they're great for preventing our phones from dropping on our faces, we've found the brand's PopWallet+ Grip to be much more useful. She's not just getting a phone grip here; she's getting a phone grip that's attached to a card holder designed to fit up to three credit cards. And, it's just the ticket for traveling light while running quick errands, going to a concert, or going on a hike. It's incredibly secure as well so she'll never have to worry about her cards popping out. A compact streaming device Steven Cohen/Insider Roku Streaming Stick 4K, available at Amazon, from $29.00These days, most of us have smart TVs, but if she needs a standalone streaming player, we adore Roku's new Streaming Stick 4K thanks to its affordable price and simple interface. This is a quality all-in-one streamer that doesn't feel premium in our pockets and comes in a very compact package. This device will let her stream 4K HDR content with Dolby Vision, use voice commands to conveniently find content, and even connect to her Google Assistant or Alexa smart speaker. Plus, because it's so compact, she can take it while traveling and stream anywhere. A leather wireless charger Courant Courant wireless chargers, available at Courant, $56 to $122.50Wireless chargers don't have to be ugly or boring. Courant's wireless chargers and wirelessly charging battery packs are sophisticated and beautiful. They're covered in leather and come in a few classy colors, including off white, black, rose, and light blue. We've used these chargers ourselves, and we're certain she'll love them. We particularly like the catch-all that has a space for keys, wallets, jewelry, and any other small items she may have. You can also personalize it with a short phrase. A funky gaming headset Roccat Roccat Elo 7.1 Air, available at Amazon and Roccat, $79.99For the gamer in your life, we love the Roccat Elo 7.1 Air headset, which looks and feels just as good as it sounds. With its suspension strap headband, soft memory foam ear cushions and lightweight design, she can play for hours without experiencing fatigue. Luckily, it delivers great sound quality, terrific 3D surround sound, and a long battery life of up to 24 hours.  Oh, and it comes in two different colors, with the white version being incredibly appealing. Though what makes it even more so is Roccat's AIMO illumination RGB lighting. A smart display Google Google Nest Hub Max, available at Target, $229If the lady in your life is invested in Google's smart home ecosystem, she'll appreciate having easy control for all her connected devices from this handy 10-inch HD screen. The Google Nest Hub Max also lets her do video calls with loved ones, jump on company video conferences, and access her calendar so she stays right on schedule with her day. A cleaner mode of transport Segway Segway Ninebot ES2, available at Amazon, from $549.99Green commutes are great for running quick errands or just getting a bit of fresh air without taking the car or the metro. For the woman in your life who's all about sustainability, she might just appreciate this solid e-scooter. The Segway Ninebot ES2 is a great time saver with its 12.4 mph top speed and its battery life is rated for up to 13.7 miles.  A solid tablet for reading, productivity, and entertainment Apple iPad 10.2, available at Apple, from $329While most of us use our phones for almost every digital interaction and distraction these days, sometimes a 6-inch screen won't cut it. Apple's newly updated base-level $329 iPad is an excellent gift for anyone seeking a tablet that can do just about anything. This iPad has a sharp display, ultrawide front camera, long battery life, and much-improved performance (for its price) for anyone in your life that's looking for that bridge between their phone and their laptop.  A high-tech hair dryer that delivers salon-like results at home Ebay Dyson Supersonic, available at Dyson, $399.99It may be expensive, but reviews suggest this futuristic hair dryer is worth splurging for. Dyson's Supersonic measures air temperature over 40 times per second to prevent heat damage and operates much more quietly than other hair dryers. But what really makes the Dyson Supersonic worth the high price, is its results. Not only does it dry hair significantly faster than the average hair dryer, but it's also probably the closest thing you'll get to a professional blowout at home. Check out our guide to the best hairdryers in 2021 A stylish keyboard that makes you feel productive Azio Azio Izo Wireless Keyboard, available at Azio, $139.99We've tested our share of keyboards, but we haven't found anything so stylish and retro-looking as Azio's new Izo Wireless Keyboard. It comes in three different colors: white, rose and blue. It also has pearl-colored keycaps, gold trimmings, and 21 backlight modes to choose from — just what every office setup needs to spruce it up. But, it doesn't go by looks alone. Those keys are extremely satisfying to type on, the keycaps themselves are dipped at the center to keep fingers in place, and there's a handy volume knob included. If she spends most of her days typing away at her desk, she'll love opening this present. A smart herb garden Aerogarden AeroGarden Harvest, available at Walmart and Amazon, from $89.97Who doesn't love fresh herbs? AeroGarden's Harvest herb garden isn't super high-tech, but it is techy in that it uses hydroponics to grow delicious herbs and other produce quickly without much effort on her part. All she has to do to get her herbs growing is pop the seed pods in the planter, give it water regularly, and add the included plant food now and then. The planter does the rest, providing light on a schedule, moving the water, and alerting her when it needs more. In our tests, we had great success with this garden, and we're sure she will, too. A portable safe to keep your valuables… well, safe Trova Trova Go, available at Trova, $199Stowing your valuables to keep them away from petty thieves isn't the most glamorous activity, especially when you're traveling. But, Trova Go makes it look so elegant. This robust yet stylish portable safe stores her cash, credit cards, jewelry and other small valuables and keeps them locked in until she opens it with a four-digit pin or her biometric login via the Trova app. That ensures that nobody else can open it (unless they have the pin). The Trova app even has a locator so she can figure out where the device is last seen if someone did attempt to steal it. It's kind of ingenious. A Tile Bluetooth tracker for everything Amazon Tile trackers, available at Tile, from $23.99Everyone has lots of things to keep track of in their lives, and it can be easy to, well, lose track. That's where Tile Bluetooth trackers come in. She can throw one of these on her keys or in her wallet so that she never has to go scrambling for one of those things when it's time for work or an appointment. Tile sells a variety of models in different sizes and form factors.  A cool, artistic smart light Nanoleaf Nanoleaf Lines, available at Nanoleaf, from $199.99Nanoleaf is basically the smart wall light brand that launched a thousand other smart wall lights, and it remains unbeatable. Just in time for the holidays, it added a new model to the family. Instead of wall panels, it went with light bars, appropriately christened Nanoleaf Lines. Available now for preorder and slated for release in late November, these gorgeous looking light bulbs are modular, can display over ​​16 million colors, boast music syncing, and are compatible with all smart home ecosystems — just the ticket to give her home a stylish yet functional flair. A heated vest to keep you warm all-day ewool ewool Pro+ Heated Vest, available at ewool, $478Layers in the wintertime are absolutely required, but so is this brilliant vest from ewool. We've all wished we could wrap ourselves in our heated blankets while out and about during those brisk winter days, and ewool's battery-powered heated vest, the Pro+ Heated Vest, feels like a dream come true. It boasts up to seven hours of battery life and offers a fit so comfortable and stylish she wouldn't even feel the battery and heater inside. If its juice runs out, she could always connect it to a 12V DC power source while the battery recharges. It's just the perfect present this cold holiday season.  An affordable soundbar with Dolby Atmos Soundcore Soundcore Infini Pro, available at Amazon and Soundcore, $219The Soundcore brand produces solid audio solutions, from headphones to soundbars, without the steep price tag. And, if you want an affordable way to add Dolby Atmos to her home theater, the Soundcore Infini Pro might just be your best bet. For how much it costs, this soundbar genuinely feels premium with a lightweight design and a solid build. It sounds great as well, and has enough volume to cover a relatively large room. Its features are just as fancy: 4K HDR and Dolby Vision pass-through, an HDMI ARC port, Bluetooth 5 connectivity, and of course, Dolby Atmos. A fitness tracker that's also a smartwatch Fitbit Fitbit Versa 3, available at Fitbit, $229.95The Fitbit Versa 3 is the best-looking fitness tracker Fitbit has made to date. It looks a bit like a more angular Apple Watch and you can choose from a lot of different bands to personalize it to match her style. The Versa 3 has smartwatch features and apps, but it's best at fitness tracking and keeping tabs on workouts. An instant camera Kodak Kodak Step Touch Instant Print Digital Camera, available at Kodak, $129.99For the woman in your life who loves taking photos, Kodak's Step Touch Instant Print Digital Camera is a step up from Fujifilm's offerings. It prints 2 x 3 sticky-backed images to satisfy her need for instant gratification. However, as a proper digital camera, it also comes with a few other features, notably 1080p video recording capabilities, a 3.5-inch LCD screen, up to 256 GB microSD card support, and Bluetooth connectivity. So, it not only prints memories; it captures and stores them as well. A pretty phone case Case-Mate Case-Mate Phone Cases for iPhone and Samsung, available at Amazon, from $5Case-Mate has a huge range of cases for iPhones and Samsung phones, so you're sure to find one that matches her style. Whether she wants a classic slim leather case, a clear case, or one that's bedazzled, full of glitter, or covered in real pressed flowers, Case-Mate has an option. The most popular e-reader You first have to find your Kindle email address to be able to send emails to your Kindle. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider Kindle, available at Amazon, $89.99Amazon's Kindle is a great e-reader on a budget. The text isn't as crisp or bright as it is on more expensive models, but the device offers a lot of value for the price. Amazon has an unrivaled selection of ebooks available for download and she can get free ebooks or borrow library books on the Kindle. We tested this ebook reader, and consider it one of the best ones you can buy. A good-looking smartwatch Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider Apple Watch SE, available at Best Buy, from $279The Apple Watch SE is Apple's budget-friendly smartwatch model. It comes in several great finishes including a classic Rose Gold one and she can choose from many different watch band options to suit her style. The 40mm casing is also perfect for smaller wrists. Beyond beauty, the Apple Watch has serious brains, too. It can track fitness, monitor her heart rate and health, and buzz with important notifications. A brilliant bracelet that keeps you nice and toasty this winter Embr Embr Labs Wave 2, available at EmbrLabs, $349Sometimes, you come across a device that you never knew you needed until it came along. Such is the case with Embr Labs' cooling and warming wristband. This bracelet keeps you nice and cool during hot days and warms you up when it's freezing out by giving you precisely calibrated cooling or warming sensations on your wrist. If that sounds impossible to you, trust us: we didn't believe it at first either until we used it at an outdoor concert at night and it chased away the chills. This thing works, and she'll absolutely love using it. A beautiful wireless charger Anker Anker 623 2-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charger, available at Amazon and Anker, $79.99With the launch of Apple's MagSafe-capable iPhones, Anker is upping its game with a line of attractive wireless solutions aptly called MagGo. There are several chargers in this line, including a MagSafe portable charger, all of them coming in several gorgeous colors (including Lilac and Misty Blue). But, our current favorite is the compact Anker 623 2-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charger, which literally puts her iPhone 12 or 13 (as well as AirPods Pro) on a pedestal so she can conveniently access it while it's charging. The MagSafe part even turns 360-degrees for landscape and portrait orientations. A pair of touchscreen gloves that are actually warm Ugg UGG Touchscreen Compatible Gloves, available at UGG, $165Touchscreen gloves aren't always attractive, but Ugg makes some very nice ones with genuine leather and shearling for warmth and style. These gloves will make it easy for her to use her phone no matter how cold it gets outside. A mega-popular smart speaker Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider Amazon Echo, available at Amazon, $99.99If she doesn't have a smart speaker yet, the Amazon Echo will be a game-changer. This speaker has Alexa inside so she can ask it to play music, answer questions, order products, play games, and so much more. If she has some smart home gadgets, Alexa can control many of those, too. We reviewed the latest version and think it's the best one yet. A pair of truly wireless earbuds Apple AirPods (3rd Gen), available on Best Buy and Apple, $179When it comes to convenience, true wireless earbuds are the best. AirPods are very popular with iPhone users since they're designed to pair with Apple's smartphones so seamlessly. They look fairly subtle compared to many other bigger earbuds, and they're incredibly easy to use. What's more, Apple's finally updated them, giving them a fresher look, a longer battery life, and a few new features like spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, sweat and water resistance, and a MagSafe Charging Case. If she loved her old AirPods, she's going to love these even more. A smart mug that keeps drinks hot Simon Hill/Business Insider Ember Mug 2, available at Best Buy, $129.99With the app-controlled Ember Mug 2, her favorite hot drink will never get cold again. In the app, she can choose the exact temperature she likes her beverage to be at for drinking, and the mug will keep it at that temperature for up to 80 minutes per charge. The mug itself is made of stainless steel that's been coated in ceramic. We tested the mug and found it to be a life-changer. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 9th, 2021

Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower

    Now that’s a rock star. You remember rock stars, don’t you? Probably not if you’re a millennial or younger. Rock stars were musicians who channeled the truth, who stood up to corporations and bad behavior around the world. They were explicit, not complicit. And they and their messages were so powerful that money… Read More The post Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower appeared first on The Big Picture.     Now that’s a rock star. You remember rock stars, don’t you? Probably not if you’re a millennial or younger. Rock stars were musicians who channeled the truth, who stood up to corporations and bad behavior around the world. They were explicit, not complicit. And they and their messages were so powerful that money rained down upon them. But it hasn’t been that way for a very long time. First we had MTV. Which soon made looks more important than the music. Good luck getting signed if you weren’t beautiful. They had whole teams of people to help write your songs, to groom you, because there was big money at stake, and the executives wanted it. That big money was based on technology, i.e. the CD, which sold for two times viny and cassettes, yet to “help the format” artists halved their royalties, with promises they would be raised once the CD got traction, and this never happened. It was a game, the major labels, MTV, radio and print media were in cahoots. They built beautiful stars, who became more and more vapid. And then came the internet. The paradigm was blown apart. But within the last decade a new order has been established, akin to the old one, but this time on steroids. Now the major labels sign very few acts, and don’t release any music from said acts until they’re sure they’re going to be hits. Furthermore, they have untold power at the streaming services, because they provide the lion’s share of their product, not only new music, but catalog, which represents in excess of 50% of streaming by everybody’s calculation. So every major label priority gets priority at the streaming service. It’s put on banners, it’s put on playlists, it’s given a chance. Good luck with your indie record. And as was proven in the movie business over the last forty-odd years, if you don’t have a library/catalog you can’t pay the bills, you end up selling or going out of business, because it’s the already paid-for assets that generate reliable income at essentially no cost while you do your best to make new hits. And now it’s even easier, it used to be impossible to get all your catalog in the retail store, you’d be lucky to get a greatest hits package, but today every one of the label’s owned songs appears on streaming services, and a lot of the past is better than what we’ve got today, but no one on the inside will say so. And don’t expect a whistleblower in the music business, where loyalty is everything. So “The Wall Street Journal” did a series on Facebook based on documents received from a whistleblower. But not only were the lengthy, detailed articles behind a paywall, they were in print, and most people don’t read, at least not beyond the headlines and captions on news or social media sites. It was big news amongst the intelligentsia, but that leaves out most Americans. But today the whistleblower went on “60 Minutes”: Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: The 60 Minutes Interview. It’s less than fifteen minutes, you can afford the time, and it’s fascinating. First and foremost Ms. Haugen. She’s a 37 year old woman. She’s the antithesis of Elizabeth Holmes. She’s the antithesis of today’s social media influencers, the Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian paradigm, where it’s only the exterior that counts and money trumps everything. Haugen went to the not even 25 year old Olin College, an engineering specialty school, and ultimately got an MBA at Harvard. Should you listen to the uneducated nitwit in your neighborhood or Ms. Haugen? It’s no contest. “Ms. Haugen was initially asked to build tools to study the potentially malicious targeting of information at specific communities.” That’s from the one hour old “Wall Street Journal” article on Frances Haugen, now that she’s revealed herself, they’re detailing her history. You can read about it here: “The Facebook Whistleblower, Frances Haugen, Says She Wants to Fix the Company, Not Harm It – The former Facebook employee says her goal is to help prompt change at the social-media giant” But that’s behind a paywall. It took twenty five years, but that’s where the internet is going, I point you to this article centered around Patreon in “Bloomberg Businessweek”: “Patreon Battles for Creators by Investing in Original Content – Ahead of a potential IPO, the $4 billion startup is transforming itself as competition from tech giants intensifies” It used to just be Patreon. Then came Substack. Now all the usual suspect platforms want to be gateways for content provided by citizens that sits behind paywalls so the creators can get paid. So what we’ll end up with is a bunch of niche creative providers, forget whether they get paid or not, who will reach tiny slivers of the public as the big outlets get bigger, then again will the big outlets gain dominance? This is still up in the air. Sure, the “New York Times” has just under 10 million subscribers, but we live in a country of 330 million, and those subscribers aren’t all Americans. Ditto music, the big acts might be bigger than the indies, but in the aggregate, the indies are quite large. Never mind that there’s only so much money to go around. Everybody wants to get paid, they’re sick of giving it away for free, they’re going behind paywalls. And if you don’t pay, soon you’ll be in the dark. But not on Facebook or Instagram, because there you’re paying with your attention, the time you’re logged-on, during which they can serve you advertising. That’s right, Facebook changed the algorithm a couple of years back such that content that delivered a reaction was favored. Because you’d interact with said content and you’d stay on longer, it was a win for Facebook, but a loss for society. Haugen says that Facebook turned on safety systems before the 2020 election, but once the contest was over, they turned them off, end result being the 1/6 insurrection. That’s what everybody was saying on Workplace, the Facebook intranet where everything was available to everybody. So Haugen wanted to move to Puerto Rico. Facebook said she couldn’t work there. So Haugen decided to quit. But during the month she transferred her projects to new people, she downloaded as much information as she could from Workplace. She was stunned what she could see and she was stunned that no one saw her looking, especially in areas outside her purview. Bottom line, Facebook commissioned internal studies that detailed over and over again the negative effects of the service. Instagram’s negative influence on teenage girls. The trade of drugs and human beings in plain sight. How people who posted frequently or were famous were whitelisted and could say anything with impunity. And then she contacted the SEC and provided this information to “The Wall Street Journal.” Now what happens? Well, even Haugen says that breaking up Facebook wouldn’t work. She says there must be governmental regulations because the company prioritizes profits over safety. But it’s worse than that. Facebook is not a manufacturer of physical goods. Half of the world is on Facebook, and the bottom line is the service is now out of the control of the company. As bad as it is in America, it’s a free-for-all in most countries. And, once again, it’s Europe cracking down on the service, saying it’s interfering with government, not the U.S. “a betrayal of democracy.” That’s what Haugen says about Facebook turning off its restrictions after the election. And democracy does hang in the balance. It’s been three and a half years since the Cambridge Analytica story broke, but now the anti-Facebook movement is gaining momentum. But don’t expect Workplace to be available to all Facebook employees in the future, they’re gonna close that loophole posthaste, never mind already shutting down internal operations that deliver information the brass doesn’t want to hear. If you don’t hear it, it doesn’t exist, right? Wrong! But you knew that. But you also thought the power resided in the public. Like yesterday’s inane anti-abortion/women’s rights marches. I sympathize with the sentiment, but not the method. We marched all the way through Trump’s term, did it make a difference? Of course not. It’s the twenty first century, not the twentieth. Battles are fought online. That’s where you make your statements and organize, a person behind a computer is much more powerful than a person at an evanescent rally. But really, we need the big players, the government, the investors to get involved or no change happens. I wish it were otherwise, but it’s not. That’s what voting rights are all about. At least you get a say in theory, but if the rules make it too hard for many to vote, and a partisan legislature is in charge of the results, irrelevant of the public’s will, look out. This is what is happening right now. And what is everybody doing? Looking to make a buck for themselves. Everybody’s deep in their hole, trying to elbow out others to get ahead. They’ve got contempt for others, there is no common good. That’s what “Squid Game,” the most popular show in the world, is all about. It’s not a revelation, it’s reality. People will do anything to survive, to keep the world running how they want it to. Meanwhile, people are addicted to social media. At least there are alternatives to Amazon, but no boycott of the operation has ever worked. But California has instituted warehouse workplace rules targeting Amazon. Good luck working in another state. Where odds are you’re going to get hurt, with repetitive stress injuries if nothing else. Oh, Amazon provides aspirin and band-aids, but the truth is you’re just a cog in the system, disposable, while the company and Wall Street make ever more money. That’s another message of “Squid Game.” So one individual has already had a huge impact. What are the odds other major tech companies will be reaching out to hire her? NADA! She’s white hot, untouchable, let’s hope she gets a big whistleblower settlement, but even if she does, that takes years. Meanwhile, our nation, our world, is being run by a college dropout with tunnel vision. And his number two is leaning into him, not the public at large, screw the public, it’s all about money, isn’t that the essence of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos? But there’s a lot more truth in “Squid Game” than any of today’s music. And the goal of “musicians” today is to sell out to the corporation, or become a corporation, to sell crap to brain dead listeners. That’s to be lauded? No, Frances Haugen is to be lauded. She will be remembered, the Spotify Top 50 will not. Because Haugen did something important, took a stand, risking her career, her future. Who else is doing this? And if this were the pre-internet era, this “60 Minutes” story would be known by essentially every citizen, if they didn’t see it, they’d hear about it, but “60 Minutes” no longer has that kind of reach, nothing on network TV does anymore. Then again, Facebook hate knows no political boundaries, it can appeal to both right and left. But not really. Did you see that YouTube shut out anti-vaxxers? Trump wants back on Twitter. Trump had more reach than anybody in the world, now it’s been scaled back, but he’s already convinced his troops that Democrats are socialists who will ruin society and they must fight to protect their way of life, however bogus it might be. That’s what 1/6 was about. And the word was spread on Facebook. And despite all the doublespeak of Nick Clegg and the rest of the Facebook press team, we know it’s true. In reality, Mark Zuckerberg needs to lose his job. He can keep his money, but he can’t have his hands on the steering wheel of Facebook anymore. But that would require the board to have balls, which it doesn’t possess. Unlike Uber, where Travis Kalanick was exiled for bad behavior, Facebook throws off a ton of money, and since profits are everything, there is no change unless the government insists. But you can’t get agreement on anything in D.C. And not only is there no longer any trust in Congress, there’s no trust in the Supreme Court. And Ted Cruz is single-handedly holding up the appointment of 59 ambassadors, how does that help us exactly? But welcome to the modern world. Where what happens online supersedes everything else. And it happens so fast that elected officials cannot keep up with it. And the internet itself is fluid, so you end up playing a game of Whac-A-Mole. Meanwhile, China is clamping down. But Evergrande has revealed the country’s economic underpinnings are shaky. But Xi is trying to minimize the bad influences of the internet, he’s trying to tamp down celebrity culture, he’s trying to return China to the past, and ultimately that will never work. What did the Rascals say? “People everywhere just want to be free”? But things have to get really bad before they react. They’re really bad at Facebook. This is the first shoe dropping. What’s next? ~~~ Visit the archive: — Listen to the podcast: — @Lefsetz — Subscribe to the LefsetzLetter The post Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 11th, 2021