Discover more from Chloe Humbert
Big shots have different goals than the rest of us. Politicians should be representatives, businesses shouldn’t lead, even billionaires can’t seem to buy common sense, and tech won’t save us.
Elite panic is one reason we can’t rely on elite saviors or rich people just making the right decisions on our most existential and practical problems, nor rely on politicians to represent the public interest without considerable pressure from we the people. Change is possible, but we’re going to have to work to make the people in charge do that.
For the police, fear of public chaos outweighed, at least temporarily, concern for possible victims. Before dispatching those casually deputized citizens to keep order in the streets, the Anchorage police chief suspended the search for survivors in damaged buildings. “Arguably, the city was protecting its ruins from looters more conscientiously than it was looking for people trapped in them,” Mooallem writes. Disaster researchers call this phenomenon “elite panic.” When authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself. They clamp down on information, restrict freedom of movement, and devote unnecessary energy to enforcing laws they assume are about to be broken. These strategies don’t just waste resources, one study notes; they also “undermine the public’s capacity for resilient behaviors.” In other words, nervous officials can actively impede the ordinary people trying to help themselves and their neighbors. As in war, the first casualty in disasters is often the truth. One symptom of elite panic is the belief that too much information, or the wrong kind of information, will send citizens reeling.
The external rescuer fantasy is alluring for some, but it’s hopium, especially when it comes to billionaires and the major media they control. We need to demand our government officials represent us, and that means we need to command their attention.We can’t wait for some rich person, celebrity, or a politician to wake up and smell the coffee, because all they’ll do is drink it all themselves until there’s no coffee left at all! Neither extraterrestrials nor AI can be counted on to come through for us. We’ll need to step up.
The people in high places and big positions will never panic over the right things - they do elite panic. Left to their own devices, people in charge panic over the wrong things & try to fix things other than the actual crisis because they’re often more concerned with their own position within the status quo, and are more concerned about the upheaval of the status quo, than the damage that upheaval is causing. Ordinary people tend to respond with the appropriate alarm and an impulse to do a practical emergency response to protect oneself and one’s community, but are often at odds with the status quo in doing so, and are often stymied by the very people who should be providing support and leadership. Recognizing this phenomenon is vital in determining strategies to overcome it.
Only about 2,000 people actually stayed behind in Pompeii to get pyroclasted into a grim posterity, out of around 20,000.The vast majority of those who lived in Pompeii were apparently alarmists who fled the city in an obviously rational fear of a volcano, and so escaped in time and lived out the rest of their lives elsewhere. What led a minority to stay behind? Normalcy bias? Propaganda? Seeing what’s happened in the pandemic, I came to suspect that perhaps elites convinced some essential workers that they needed to stay behind and keep the economy going in Pompeii just in case. We don’t know why those who did stay did so. But of course we don’t ask, in retrospect, why did people flee? We know why people fled - it was a good decision.
And typically communities will make mostly practical decisions if people are not prevented, disempowered and confused, by the powerful interests that compete with our wellbeing. This proclivity of the common citizen rising to the moment was detailed in a piece published early in the pandemic, explaining the real world historical observations of officials panicking after an earthquake in Alaska, while disaster researchers were witnessing “residents calmly, almost cheerfully, pitching in to help.”
Elite Panic PR Spin: A disastrous disaster response that prioritizes controlling messaging & perceptions over implementing actual solutions.
People in charge, politicians and corporate leaders, default to elite panic. Their focus turns to “controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself” and when a corporation is involved in something bad that happens,”often its first move is not to deal with the actual problem, but to manage the negative perception caused by that problem.”
People with power have different priorities - chiefly, maintaining their own power.
Most of these [elites] are just as blindsided by the disasters racking our world as anyone else. Because they’re the kind of people who are capable of taking power they look out for themselves first. And in chaotic and dangerous times they default to what they know best - leaning on culture war bullshit and hiding from scrutiny. The sheer amount of information coming in can be blinding and the best course of action is generally unclear. Elites are actually more likely to be blinded in these situations than the rest of us. A mayor or a president has much more info incoming & his concern is always more complex than what needs to be done to protect people - What is politically safe? What do my donors want? And how will what I do be spun by the media? - are also on his mind. People like us worry will my community & I survive & people like them worry will I lose power? This tug of war between disaster & political experiences between preparing... and protecting your ass leads to a phenomenon called turbo paralysis.
“An abundance of caution” translates to elites being pressured to prioritize human lives over their own interests and… not much liking it.
At the start of the pandemic I remember people in charge - government officials and such - they kept saying the phrase “in an abundance of caution” - as if to say that they were acting with an amount of caution in excess to what they thought was needed.The worst part was that very often it seemed their “abundance of caution” was clearly wholly inadequate.I think some of us misinterpreted the panic of officials scrambling to quiet possible fear as being a sign that they felt humbly not up to the task. But in retrospect that does not appear to be the case. It appears it was pure elite panic. They just simply feared the public more than the disease. So they were trying to “calm people down” with, essentially, dishonesty. Hospitals becoming overwhelmed or people dying wasn’t what they were worried about the most. They were worried workers would actually get treated humanely with safety measures. Someone in a union told me their employer was busy hedging because protecting worker health & safety might set a precedent going forward, and they didn’t want to risk that. Seems plausible.
Even now, hospitalsand nursing homes are messing around and finding out. Healthcare providers followed the politics on unmasking in medical settings simply because Republicans pressured for the end of the Public Health Emergency Declarations, not based on any scientific evidence, against reason, and letters signed by groups of public health professionals stating compelling reasons not to do so, medical doctors raising objections, and protests. Outbreaks predictably follow abandoning infection prevention in hospitals and nursing homes. Nursing home companies with the earliest preventable outbreaks have been given a pass now on legal liability, but they should not get away with repeatedly claiming that nobody could’ve predicted what was absolutely predicted repeatedly. Sweden reimposed mask mandates in hospitals after lifting them and infections surged in August 2022, and the same type of hospital outbreak has been reported in May 2023 in BC Canada. They understand exactly what’s going on. But they fear conservative politicians looking to prove something, or right-wingers taking over an elected hospital board, right-wingers making criminal threats to hospitals when disinformation goes viral online, or maybe even the stray anti-mask loud mouth in a waiting room. They’re more worried about a few unruly members of the public rather than the safety of the majority of their patients and staff. The people in charge already decided they can just not do any safety mitigation in the schools, and then when the workforce is decimated by covid outbreaks, they changed the laws so that they can replace teachers with school bus drivers and cafeteria staff to keep the schools open. Not sure they actually care if the kids learn while they’re there, it just serves a function to do something with the kids. Do we really want to see the solutions that the hospital administrators push through for replacing cardiology staff and ER doctors when they burn through their trained medical staff? They can probably still bill as long as the patient is in the bed, no matter who is standing in for a doctor or nurse. That might seem over the top, but covid contrarian hospital executive employees directly involved with CDC’s ACIP committee are already pushing to get rid of infection control guidelines in healthcare settings, perhaps because it might benefit healthcare provider corporations financially, while public health experts are saying the opposite - that we need CMS to have infection rules, and masks in healthcare. And a surgeon actually mocked hand washing while testifying in Congress.
Elites won’t do the right thing unless they’re pressured by people enough to override other incentives.
People assume if there’s danger, at least the government would surely implement rules to protect us, and to make businesses, especially hospitals, do the right thing. Yet even when they do, they’ve reversed it the minute it inconvenienced big business, and keep pushing for the status quo to benefit the fossil fuel industryand commercial real estate. And that was the case with big tobacco for many years. Money talks, and donors try to call all the shots, as Sut Jhally said, “It's pressure, as always, with money.”
"Many people rationalize that if it were really dangerous the government wouldn't let it be advertised. They are wrong in that thinking. It is dangerous and the government does let it be advertised."
- Rick Pollay, Pack of Lies: The Advertising of Tobacco (1992)
People in charge tend to downplay the ongoing, and even worsening threats to public health, including climate change, gun violence, and disinformation. Even the people supposedly on the side of sense go with half-measures if they even suggest implementing any solution at all.
“Elite panic frequently brings out another unsavory quirk on the part of some authorities: a tendency to believe the worst about their own citizens.”
They have been trying to gaslight uswith a bait and switch from the get go, to quell dissent while maintaining order in what they clearly believed was a temporary problem so they could reassert the status quo controls as quickly as possible. I knew the problem of the pandemic wouldn’t be as temporary as everyone seemed to hope, and it has been very frustrating to watch the people running things scramble to put square pegs in round holes in order to snap things back to normal - whatever that means - even if it means forcing it.
The mayor of Chicago downplayed the situation and the risk in schools, and specifically said it was for not wanting the public to “be fearful” in February 2020.Prioritizing boosting downtown business activity, by pushing for butts in seats downtown for The Economy, has been embraced as a bipartisan goal. It’s hardly even questioned, let alone debated - The Economy comes first. The politicians to this day pressure government employers to force government workers into in-person office work that could and should be done remotely to prevent spread when there’s a pandemic virus circulating and making people sick. The New York City mayor has bragged about pushing city workers into the office, but softened after many fled government work to other remote offerings and the union made demands. In Pennsylvania, right from the get-go some state human services workers were told to report in person, even before any mitigations were available, not even hand sanitizer in those days, let alone masks or vaccines or even sneeze guards. Workers were also not given any clear or appropriate options even as workers got sick in March 2020. Now three years later, Pennsylvania faces a shortage of those same human services workers, right as massive Medicaid reviews need to happen because of the end of the Public Health Emergency declaration - a political decision. They admit the staff shortages are not just about short-staffing, but also the loss of many of the most experienced workers of many years due to a lot of retirements in this pandemic. It might be because higher risk older workers and workers with disabilities were denied reasonable accommodation of telework based on the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s “seniority loophole” excuse. This happened under Democratic Governor Wolf, but I have heard the push to get more senior staff butts in seats downtown for The Economy continues in cities around the state with Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro. The politicians prioritize boosting the economy, and fossil fuel doesn’t like the fact that workers are saving money on commuting costs.
People in charge in various workplaces were willing to risk it all just to halt any diversion from the status quo.Never looking ahead, never adapting to new circumstances. Just balls to the wall for the status quo. And it’s always the people in charge, it’s not ordinary civil servants pushing this bullshit - the rank and file get silenced, and like some at the CDC in 2020, wind up with mental health consequences and grim regrets.
In today’s corporate culture major PR firms promote crisis management as a necessary business expense. Whenever something bad happens to a corporation, often its first move is not to deal with the actual problem, but to manage the negative perception caused by that problem.
-- Toxic Sludge is Good for You 2002
Locally contracted malaria is happening in Florida now, but CNN and Accuweather feel the need to emphasize that it’s rare and mostly comes from going to those other countries.With the Canadian wildfire smoke polluting the air over upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania in June 2023, the National Weather Service Binghamton chose to tweet about the horrendous air quality pollution by mentioning how mild the temperatures will be - mentioning the word “mild” twice in one tweet. It’s interesting how often the word “mild” is used in recent years to portray real danger as benign, which promotes moral disengagement. The S in SARS stands for Severe, yet people in charge wrongly parrot that SARS-COV-2 is “mild” actually. Perhaps not surprisingly, historically, this word “mild” was very much a favoured word of the tobacco industry in their PR and advertising, describing cigarettes as mild “so as not to provoke anxiety about health, but to alleviate it, and enable the smoker to feel assured about the habit and confident in maintaining it over time.”
Ralph Nader asked in June 2023, how long are people going to inhale toxic smoke from the wildfires before they tell their representatives in Congress to send more firefighters to Canada?I guess it depends on how many of us fall for the siren’s song of an external savior, or the chastisement of propaganda stigmatizing precautions and activism as “mental illness" and pushing the ideology that safety is irrelevant.
Private elites panic in even richer ways than public figures.
The most ridiculous assumption to have on this matter is the idea that this elite panic might ONLY pertain to government officials, or even that somehow it’s just a problem with the existence of government. Governing always exists in some form, the question is who is calling the shots. Private actors seem even less accountable to the people they lord over, without enough government regulation. These elites seem even more prone to both panicked adherence to the status quo, and more vigorously shirking responsibility. There’s nothing new under the sun because Elon Musk’s agendas for fixing the future,and indeed all these weirdo quasi-religious future community ideas that appeal to rich tech billionaires, are really a lot like the satire monstrous plans of “The Phone Company” - the creepy villain of the 1967 satire film The President’s Analyst.
Corporate elites are in a tizzy panicking about “quiet quitting” so much that CEOs from Vimeo, Mercer, and Wipro had a weird panel on the topic at Davos. But from Ken Klippenstein’s report, “The 5 Creepiest Moments at Davos”,it’s hard to tell if they were trying to curb “quiet quitting” or telling bosses how to drive people to it. One “solution” they proposed was “conducting hourlong, open-ended meetings with no agenda” - which sounds like it’s straight out of the 1944 OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual on how to disrupt a workplace and hobble an operation’s functioning, and keep MeetingBoy.com stocked up with jokes in the queue. Who needs quiet quitting when you can create loud learned helplessness?
The people in charge, especially private business leaders, are so obviously even more alarmed by the idea that ordinary people, acting for ourselves, would cause them inconvenience, or usurp their power, and this completely dwarfs any concerns they might possibly have about threats to our health, or strangely, even their own.
The OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, was quoted as mocking safety precautions as “pure waste” and making the same nonsensical risk comparisons to “getting out of bed”as the typical covid contrarian in the think tank for big business, parroting PR that insists we must quell perceptions of disaster instead of addressing disasters. There were attempts to warn Stockton Rush about his theranos sub, built with expired carbon fiber, and whatnot. One person warned him that he was mirroring the famous Titanic “she is unsinkable” claim, to which Mr. Rush responded that he was tired of “baseless cries” for safety that “stop innovation” (and reduce profits perhaps). Stockton Rush was also accused of the wrongful firing of an employee who raised safety concerns about the very submarine that later killed the CEO who also has previously been sued for fraud over his sub scheme. This story is almost typical and predictable, just switch out the tech, the promises, and set the story underwater.
At least this should dissuade everyone from the idea that rich CEOs will save us, or will make the right decisions even when their own lives depend upon it. Historically, elites have absolutely ignored possibilities for human advancement, even technological advancement, if it doesn’t personally benefit their power situation, such as how the Roman Empire was capable of a steam engine, but the elites just said, nah.These blustery elites will absolutely break the rules, or fail to embrace good practices, for a chance at preserving power and status, even, apparently, if it winds up with them imploded on the seafloor.
“Too often, the need to “avoid panic” serves as a retroactive justification for all manner of official missteps.”
Some people close to power will gently criticize in a way that preserves the status quo by making excuses for missteps. Such seems the case in a recent book ostensibly about the failures in the response to pandemic in the U.S. The book claims that competence was lacking in the process, rather than recognizing that this abandonment of public health was not just dropping the ball on a “can-do attitude” or flubbing some procedures, but by the deliberate prioritization of economic big money interests over American lives.The authors of the book reportedly embrace that prioritization, and give cover to the elites, who panicked in service to The Economy as a false god, and doomed so many to their graves.
Prominent people are often hesitant to publicly criticize fellow celebrities or other power holders, even when they know better. In the case of the shoddy submarine debacle, The Marine Technology Society sent a harshly worded letter.It seems it’s less common for similarly situated people to sound the alarm, for example the way Brooksley Born did before the subprime mortgage financial crash that caused the Great Recession over a decade ago. It didn’t help her standing with the movers and shakers - she made them angry. Big media never seems to highlight the people who are raising the alarm before the disasters, typically only afterwards. In the case of James Cameron and Bob Ballard and the OceanGate Titan, by the time the media was interested in what they had to say, it was too late to make any difference regarding loss of life by going public with what Cameron described as what would have been a “dissenting voice to the story that was in motion at the time.” They were not platformed on national television with their concerns about bad seamanship before the disaster - and Cameron states he now regrets not trying to do so. And this is all at the same time as a sinking migrant ship with more deaths but that gets less media attention.
These easily preventable debacles happen over and over again, caused by these rarified people. Enron,the Housing Bubble, Boeing, SBF, and Tesla. But we’re still investing public money in a privatized space program and trusting the guy who broke the rules, and bullied authorities, to send staff into an unsafe working environment in 2020 resulting in a significant covid outbreak, and then fired trust & safety staff when he took over a social media platform, just in time for right-wing insurrectionists in Brazil to take advantage.
Those in positions of power and wealth seem somehow incapable of consciously recognizing that community level harm they cause might touch them. Because it so often does not. In some cases they just change the rules to avoid consequences.Some who realize on some level there might be consequences, sometimes get caught up in basing real world moral schemas on weird thought experiments, or indulging paranoid fantasies about AI seeking revenge on them, but also wishcasting about how their money will allow them to escape it. If some of these elites do engage in speculation, they’d rather come up with bizarre convoluted delusions about the future to justify irrational or even immoral behaviour now, such as Longtermism, which is just a repackaging of eugenics that can be marketed to science nerds with tricky sales tactics, such as platforming the Great Barrington Declaration within an astronomy podcast supposedly about gravity that turned into a right-wing rant about Doctor Fauci and a whine-fest about mythical lockdowns and mythical cancel culture. But there were no serious or widespread “lockdowns” in the U.S. - that’s lockdown revisionism. And these days Sunetra Gupta continues devotion to their long disproven natural herd immunity stance, now twisting into pretzels to say that the answer to avoid infection is to be constantly reinfected.
Peter M. Sandman criticized people for supposedly “muzzling” the Great Barrington Declaration adherents.Yet it’s everywhere - the Great Barrington Declaration’s flawed, immoral, and yet, its ineffective recommendations have been embraced by most nations in the world anyhow. That’s the opposite of cancellation. Another opposite is that during the SARS outbreaks, Peter M. Sandman criticized attempts to tamp down concerns as counter productive, saying: “Regardless of the hazard, fear is a tool, not just a problem. The purpose of fear is to motivate precautions – that is, self-protective behaviors that diminish the risk of bad outcomes. To be useful, then, the fear has to outrun the thing that is feared; fear that lags behind its object is useless. Yet somehow the public is being told that it is wrong, irrational, panicky, or hysterical to be fearful of SARS just yet.” Peter Sandman had written very precisely about the impracticality of elites attempting to “allay the public’s fear” in 2003, only to go along years later with hand waving about the supposed shadowbanning of the Great Barrington Declaration.
In Peter Sandman's 1993 book, Responding to Community Outrage: Strategies for Effective Risk Communication, he describes what he calls “the Outrage Factor” - that outrage is key in people’s perception of risk.We give more weight to risks that seem unfair, whereas if they seem like voluntary risks, we consider them more fair, natural, or acceptable. 30 years later our outrage can be so well manipulated on social media that the people who designed social media apps won’t even let their own kids use smartphones, so it’s not hard to see how the anti-vax pilled will come at you with upside down reasoning - they worry about the miniscule risk of the vaccine and minimize grave threats of covid - because heavy social media messaging has whipped people up to be outraged about mandates and propagandized people to think of covid as something of a voluntary choice by “doing your own risk assessment”.
Are we really gonna keep listening to perpetually wrong people with priorities contrary to our well-being?
People have been gaslit by a disinformation campaign driven by big money investment into corporate PR.Clearly there are people like Peter Sandman who understand what’s going on very very well, but strangely he instead promotes the right-wing nonsense censorship claims where all evidence is to the contrary and the so-called cancelled are, as Walker Bragman reports, platformed like nobody’s business. In 1998, Peter Sandman was the keynote speaker at an environmental workshop sponsored by the Australian mining industry, and in the past had clients in petrochemicals and the fossil fuel industry. I don’t know who he’s working for nowadays, what ideologies he might be into, nor what could explain his wishy-washy flip-flopping, but he doesn’t seem consistent.
What is consistent over time is that people with power continue in their attempts to gaslight usabout the pandemic and climate change. The people in power are often not sufficiently moved by our deaths. They don’t even seem to care about us being disabled in numbers which is even making many unable to continue to toil for the false god they call The Economy. The altar we’re meant to kneel before is one of a confidence game in the markets, even though, as Dean Baker pointed out years ago, “Confidence Lags the Economy, It Doesn't Predict It.” The “free market” is “a story for children and elite pundits” - not a real thing.
Human life and the future of a habitable planet requires interventions, like we have done for all of human history. We’ve known for over a 100 years what our destructive interventions have been doing,and the US Congress was informed decades ago in a testimony by Carl Sagan. Elite status as a supposed consequence of natural evolution is a fairytale. Individualism is a myth, eugenics is a pseudoscience, and elite panic is our collective liability.
Do the elites have a plan to save us with interventions? They are playing pretend like it’s a confidence game, and they clearly don’t care about us surviving this house of cards. So we’re supposed to just believe in their inevitable future and leave it to them?
I’m writing to my representatives to impress to them that they should represent us.
Writing Letters to Elected Representatives, a guide - Letters to politicians are some of the easiest and most effective actions many neglect. By CHLOE HUMBERT, JAN 24, 2023 When we write to our representatives, we are not just writing for ourselves. Your representative’s office receives your letter and considers your position and interest in the issue as representative of some number of constituents who feel the same as you do, but did not have the inclination to write at present. They often keep tallies in spreadsheets and track issues. So it’s not just your lonely voice, each person who writes really makes a larger difference than you might expect from one person. Pressure on elected government officials with letter campaigns have shaped the laws that govern our lives and protect us from lies and harm, such as car seat belt laws and even the rule that peanut butter has to be made of peanuts and not full of additives! https://chloehumbert.substack.com/p/writing-letters-to-elected-representatives
Irish Examiner - Warning that coffee could disappear from shelves by 2050 due to climate change. Tue, 28 Feb, 2023 - 12:07 by Sally Gorman Coffee bean farmers are already experiencing serious challenges and it is estimated that by 2050, up to half of the world’s land currently used to farm coffee may be unusable due to floods, droughts and increased temperatures. Fairtrade Ireland executive director Peter Gaynor said: "We could be looking at the end of the much-loved cup of coffee. “Farmers who grow coffee beans are experiencing serious challenges due to many extreme weather events, such as in Kenya, East Africa, which is right now experiencing its worst drought on-record. “A worrying 93% of the Fairtrade coffee farmers in Kenya surveyed are already experiencing the effects of climate change. https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-41081876.html
Sightseeing Tours Italy: Did anyone survive in Pompeii? Archaeologists have determined from past documents and artefacts that there were around 20,000 people living within the city at the time of the eruption. From studying the skeleton remains, they estimated that around 2,000 people died in the eruption. https://www.pompeiitours.it/blog/did-anyone-survive-in-pompeii/
NBC News: Pompeii family's final hours reconstructed. By Rossella Lorenzi, Dec. 11, 2008 75 to 92 percent of the residents escaped the town at the first signs of the crisis https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna28178601
Teams Human: Alarm is appropriate, the volcano is erupting. By Chloe Humbert, Jul 6, 2022 What led that minority to stay behind? Normalcy bias? Propaganda? I wonder if perhaps elites convinced some essential workers that they needed to stay behind and keep the economy going. Perhaps some felt they had no other good option and just hoped for the best. We will never know the exact stories. But we’re seeing ours play out. Somehow those people were convinced staying behind was okay. What we don’t ask in retrospect, notice, is why did people flee? We know why and we understand they were right to do so. We also don’t ridicule them for having been scared into leaving Pompeii - possibly with fear mongering? https://teamshuman.substack.com/p/shame-in-pyroclast
Commentary: Elite Panic vs. the Resilient Populace by James B. Meigs, MAY 2020 Anchorage quickly became a kind of open-air laboratory for testing this public-panic hypothesis. Within 36 hours, a team of scientists arrived to study, not the earthquake itself, but how the local citizens responded to it. Expecting chaos, the sociologists were puzzled to find the residents calmly, almost cheerfully, pitching in to help. Writer Jon Mooallem ably tells this story in his new book, This is Chance! The Shaking of an All-American City, a Voice That Held It All Together. Today, as governments and individuals alike struggle with the pandemic, Mooallem’s book is a helpful reminder that not all solutions need to be implemented by our highest authorities. Ordinary people can make extraordinary contributions—if we trust them. https://www.commentary.org/articles/james-meigs/elite-panic-vs-the-resilient-populace/
Toxic Sludge is Good for You 2002 In today’s corporate culture major PR firms promote crisis management as a necessary business expense. Whenever something bad happens to a corporation, often its first move is not to deal with the actual problem, but to manage the negative perception caused by that problem. https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/41588
WHYY: Coronavirus updates: N.J. school closures ‘inevitable’ as all Pa., Del. schools close for 2 weeks. Gov. Wolf’s decision came during a frenzied afternoon in which counties and districts across the Philadelphia region announced an intent to shutter schools. March 13, 2020 “Public assistance programs can be vital during a public health crisis, and resources are still available to ensure eligible Pennsylvanians are connected to the programs they need,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. She encouraged those who can to use the myCOMPASS mobile app to manage their benefits until the offices reopen for face-to-face meetings at the end of March. https://whyy.org/articles/pennsylvania-now-has-33-confirmed-cases-of-covid-19/
Forbes: Bay Area Hospital Reinstitutes Face Mask Mandate After Covid-19 Outbreak. By Bruce Y. Lee, Apr 22, 2023 A statement from Kaiser Permanente Northern California described the outbreak: “Recently at our Santa Rosa Hospital, more than a dozen out of our approximately 3,500 staff members and some patients have tested positive for Covid-19.” The statement continued with, “In response, effective immediately, physicians and staff are required to mask in the Santa Rosa Hospital and Emergency Department while providing direct patient care. We are requiring all visitors to mask upon entrance to the hospital and throughout their visit.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2023/04/22/bay-area-hospital-reinstitutes-face-mask-mandate-after-covid-19-outbreak/
Star Advertiser - Hilo nursing home outbreak includes 93 COVID cases By Nina Wu May 22, 2023 The Hawaii Department of Health said it was notified in early April of the outbreak at Life Care Center of Hilo, and has been providing technical assistance to the facility. As of today, the facility has reported a total of 93 cases, including 76 residents and 17 staff. One resident who tested positive for COVID died after being transferred to the hospital, according to DOH. After implementing heightened infection prevention measures in consultation with DOH, the number of new cases has slowed. https://www.staradvertiser.com/2023/05/22/breaking-news/hilo-nursing-home-outbreak-includes-93-covid-cases/
Teams Human - Following the Politics instead of Following the Science. Healthcare providers and others are making critical medical decisions about masking based on a political football. By CHLOE HUMBERT, MAR 21, 2023 The evidence is all over the news, typically coming from the hospital spokesperson directly to the reporters, clearly stating that they are not basing their mask protection protocols on any medical concerns or ethical concerns, they’re basing medical decisions on a political football - the ending of the National Public Health Emergency declaration. SSM Health verbatim states their rolling back mitigations is adjunctive to National Public Health Emergency expiring politically. So no science needed for this decision and no medical considerations, let alone the public health concerns of the community? https://teamshuman.substack.com/p/following-the-politics-instead
Becker's Hospital Review - House Republicans introduce 'Pandemic is Over Act' in bid to end public health emergency. By Kelly Gooch - Thursday, January 19th, 2023 Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) introduced legislation Jan. 17 to end the COVID-19 public health emergency. The "Pandemic is Over Act," which is sponsored by more than a dozen other House Republicans, seeks to officially end the public health emergency first declared by HHS in early 2020. The agency has renewed the declaration multiple times in recent years. Most recently, on Jan. 11, HHS extended the public health emergency for an additional 90 days. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/house-republicans-introduce-pandemic-is-over-act-in-bid-to-end-public-health-emergency.html
People’s CDC - Masks in Healthcare - February 23, 2023 REMOVING MASKS IN HEALTHCARE IS DANGEROUS. Clinics and hospitals are sites for COVID patient care, so even if transmission rates are low, they will remain among the most likely locations to encounter people infected with COVID, and also people who are vulnerable to severe disease or death from COVID. Contagion in healthcare settings is already a problem even in well-equipped US academic medical centers.2 Removing masks in healthcare puts both patients and healthcare workers at risk, which could place even more strain on the healthcare system amidst severe staffing shortages. REMOVING MASKS IN HEALTHCARE IS UNETHICAL. Failing to require masks in healthcare settings violates medical ethical principles.3 Patients come to clinics and hospitals to improve their health. Healthcare providers have an ethical responsibility to DO NO HARM and ensure that they do not expose patients to COVID. https://peoplescdc.org/2023/02/23/masks-in-healthcare/
Wisconsin Public Radio - A call to return to masking in health care facilities. Air Date: Thursday, June 1, 2023 Host: Kate Archer Kent Guest(s): Dr. Kaitlin Sundling Producer(s): Joe Tarr Technical Director(s): A. Emily Ralph In recent months, hospitals have stopped requiring people to wear masks in their facilities. We speak with a pathologist who is among many health care workers calling for universal masking in medical facilities because of the risks facing workers and patients. https://www.wpr.org/call-return-masking-health-care-facilities
Teams Human - Demonstrations in DC & Boston - Twitchstream to raise $ for Long Covid research - The masks are sure off, and maybe the gloves too - Walensky steps down, more docs need to step up, WHO sends mixed messages, & Satancon accommodates the high risk at convention in Boston while Boston hospital flat out refuses accommodation requests. By CHLOE HUMBERT, MAY 8, 2023 The Tweet of Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity @MAHealthEquity 5:05 PM · May 4, 2023 - shows a photo of a demonstration outside a hospital, several people on the sidewalk wearing N95 and KN95 masks, 2 people are carrying a big sign that reads Give Us Care, Not Covid! The tweet text reads Today we told MGH to #GiveUsCareNotCovid MGH and the @MassDPH getting rid of masks and pre-procedure COVID testing. This decision is being pushed by hospital administrators and is not safe for anyone. We do not consent. https://teamshuman.substack.com/i/119628672/hospitals-dont-seem-to-care-but-the-people-do-care-about-public-health-in-massachusetts
NBC10 Boston - Boston hospital brings back mask requirement in unit affected by COVID cluster. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center confirmed a cluster of COVID-19 cases among patients and staff, but did not say how many people tested positive. By Michael Rosenfield • Published June 26, 2023 The masking mandate inside hospitals in Massachusetts was, by and large, lifted in May, and face coverings became optional. But now, there's been a cluster of COVID-19 cases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "It's something that could have been completely prevented," said Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Lara Jirmanus. "It's a shame and a pity." A hospital spokesperson says the facility detected a cluster of COVID cases among staff and patients, isolated those patients, and reinstated universal masking in the affected unit. As of Monday night, Beth Israel has not said how many people were diagnosed with COVID, where in the hospital the cluster was identified, or how it spread. Most Massachusetts hospitals lifted their mask requirements when the COVID emergency came to an end. "Some people said, 'Well, we're not totally sure what's going to happen,'" said Jirmanus. "Well, I think we all know what was going to happen. When you take away masks in health care, you have outbreaks." https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/boston-hospital-brings-back-mask-requirement-in-unit-affected-by-covid-cluster/3076733/
Portland Press Herald - Portland nursing home sees surge in COVID-19 cases. Sixty-six cases of COVID-19 have been reported since May 14 among staff and residents at St. Joseph's Rehabilitation and Residence. By Joe Lawlor Posted June 8 2023 St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Residence, a nursing home in Portland, is responding to a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected 34 residents and 32 employees since May 14. Of those who have been infected, 14 residents and three employees remained COVID-positive Thursday afternoon, St. Joseph’s spokesman John Porter said. https://www.centralmaine.com/2023/06/08/portland-nursing-home-sees-surge-in-covid-19-cases/
MCKNIGHT'S LONG-TERM CARE NEWS - Life Care Centers vindicated in early COVID wrongful death case. By Kimberly Marselas, MAY 23, 2023 The plaintiffs had argued that the facility should have updated isolation protocols as early as late February, weeks ahead of when federal regulators issued guidance on COVID infection prevention. “The jury rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that influenza protocols would have prevented COVID-19 from entering our facility and spreading as rapidly as it did,” the company told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News in a statement Monday. https://www.mcknights.com/news/life-care-centers-vindicated-in-early-covid-wrongful-death-case/
Sweden reimposes mask mandate in hospitals as COVID infection surges - Source: XinhuaEditor: huaxia 2022-08-03 Starting from last week, 17 of Sweden's 21 administrative regions reintroduced face mask requirements in hospitals and nursing homes. Swedavia, the company that operates Stockholm's international airport Arlanda and nine other airports, has also reimposed measures to curb infections. As of last Wednesday, all airport staff have to wear face masks. https://english.news.cn/20220803/1f0169babfff4ee2a194f5508c9b6c80/c.html
Burnabynow - Third COVID-19 outbreak in three weeks declared at Burnaby Hospital Fraser Health declared another outbreak on May 11. By Jess Balzer 16 May 2023 Fraser Health says the outbreak was declared on May 11 after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit. A spokesperson told the NOW that seven patients have tested positive for the virus. The unit remains open only to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 60 days. "Upon declaring the outbreak, Fraser Health immediately implemented precautions at the site, including enhanced cleaning to protect the health of all staff, medical staff, and patients," a statement read. https://www.burnabynow.com/local-news/third-covid-19-outbreak-in-three-weeks-declared-at-burnaby-hospital-7008501
NPR All Things Considered - In Florida, 'health freedom' activists exert influence over a major hospital. December 21, 2022, By Zach Hirsch A Florida hospital has become the latest front for political activists eager to challenge protocols for treating COVID. While most of the 6,000 hospitals in the United States are privately-run, about 200 are controlled by publicly-elected board members, according to Larry Gage, former president of the National Association of Public Hospitals. Typically, those elections usually have nothing to do with national politics or culture war issues. But with seats opening on the Sarasota Memorial Hospital's board earlier this year, a group of political activists opposed to COVID protocols saw an opportunity. Now, the hospital has three new board members who question the effectiveness of vaccines and spread medical misinformation. While they're a minority on the nine-person board, their victory has thrown the hospital board's typically quiet meetings into chaos. https://www.npr.org/2022/12/21/1144798353/in-florida-health-freedom-activists-exert-influence-over-a-major-hospital
Vice - Woman Charged With Threatening Boston Children's Hospital Was a Huge Trump Fan “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital. You better evacuate everybody, you sickos.” by Paul Blest September 16, 2022 The FBI arrested and charged a Massachusetts woman with allegedly calling in a hoax bomb threat to Boston Children’s Hospital in August, right after right-wing influencers launched a smear campaign against the hospital for providing gender-affirming care to children and adolescents. https://www.vice.com/en/article/g5vd57/boston-childrens-hospital-bomb-catherine-leavy-arrest
Business Insider - Michigan is allowing school-bus drivers and cafeteria staffers to fill in as substitute teachers, becoming the latest state to expand teaching eligibility amid a nationwide labor shortage. By Sarah Jackson, Dec 29, 2021 "The pandemic has been challenging for our children, teachers, and parents, and our educators have gone above and beyond to ensure Michigan's children have a bright future," Whitmer said in a press release. "Allowing schools to employ school staff that students know as substitute teachers will help keep school doors open and students learning in the classroom the rest of the school year." Michigan is the latest in a string of states making similar changes, in some cases permanent, to make it easier to fill substitute-teacher positions during the labor crunch. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation opening up substitute-teaching positions to retired teachers and eligible college students. In October, Idaho's superintendent Sherri Ybarra told parents she was returning to the classroom herself to fill in as a substitute teacher and asked parents to join her. "Many of our districts and classrooms are open, but these shortages are creating some stressful and fragile situations," Ybarra wrote in a letter to parents. "I am asking parents/guardians and community members around the state to help to fill the substitute teacher and staff shortages necessary to keep our schools open." https://www.businessinsider.com/michigan-lets-school-cooks-bus-drivers-substitute-teach-amid-shortage-2021-12
Erica Shenoy can “read my lips” — I don’t want to risk my health & family to see her face unmasked in person, by Chloe Humbert on Medium - Apr 24 2023 It’s shocking that someone who’s supposed to be knowledgeable about infectious disease wouldn’t understand that endemic disease pretty much means PERMANENT infection controls. Where malaria is endemic, they don’t stop using mosquito nets - the use of mosquito nets is standard - and sometimes mandated in hotels in malaria endemic regions. Where covid is permanently in circulation, masks should then be perpetually mandated in high risk settings and essential services. If you want to get rid of disease control - get rid of the disease. Until that happens, you need to at least use infection control measures. The Associate Chief of the Infection Control Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital should surely know such basic infectious disease protocol. Why doesn’t she? Elimination is one goal that we could have. We did eliminate malaria in the United States. Now, unfortunately mosquito borne illnesses are again a potential, since West Nile Virus was found in mosquitos in the city limits in Scranton Pennsylvania and the news said, “Residents in the community are advised to take precautions when outdoors.” We've had some pretty plentiful mosquitos here the past few years, so I have mosquito nets over a picnic table and over the garden swing in my backyard during summers. Several of my neighbors have invested in netted patio gazebo tents and screened in porches. I’d sure like it if my local officials did something about the mosquito problem, and in fact I have written letters to my local elected officials about this. But people don’t just say ok the mosquitos are here, just get eaten alive this evening, maybe risk febrile fever, or even encephalitis. No, of course not. We take precautions. But Erica Shenoy doesn’t reason that out logically for some reason. Why is that? Is Erica Shenoy part of some PR scheme? As a management level employee of a major hospital, she seems to have a conflict of interest in speaking about public health in the public interest, if she is, in essence, representing an institution. So I have to ask - is she representing a hospital? https://firstname.lastname@example.org/erica-shenoy-can-read-my-lips-i-dont-want-to-risk-my-health-family-to-see-her-face-b08952c75462
Naked Capitalism - CDC’s HICPAC Prepares to Whack More Patients as Infection Control Experts Gather for August 22 Teleconference on Masks - Posted on July 10, 2023 by Lambert Strether In this post, however, I will examine the Committee itself. Personnel, after all, is policy! Here is the roster of HICPAC members: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2023/07/cdcs-hicpac-prepares-to-whack-more-patients-as-infection-control-experts-gather-for-august-22-teleconference-on-masks.html
Public comments at the CDC HICPAC Meeting on June 8th 2023, Health Watch USA “I'm also concerned by undue influence from large hospitals some of whose administrators sit on these committees. With hospitals in an unprecedented budget crisis and losing money canceling procedures due to covid-19 infections being detected in patients, along with the fact that liability waivers are no longer in effect. So patients who are infected with covid-19 may now more easily seek legal recourse if and when they are infected with covid-19 during medical care means that hospitals may be advocating against covid-19 infection control measures because it benefits them financially. This is a potential conflict of interest should be investigated and I would argue that employees of large hospitals should not sit on this committee.” - Lara Jirmanus MD MPH https://youtu.be/L3OQQu1zvzM
People's CDC - Tell the Senate: Medicare should track healthcare acquired COVID and prevent it by requiring masks. Letter campaign to the U.S. Senate to have Medicare prevent nosocomial COVID. May 10, 2023 The policy to end universal masking and hospital pre-procedure COVID testing in healthcare settings is dangerous, unethical, and based on flawed data. A new important study [Pak et al] – showed that COVID infections in hospitals surged after U.K. stopped universal screening on admission. Please join us in sending a clear message to your Senator that you demand them to call on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to require COVID infection control protections and universal masking in healthcare settings, continued reporting of healthcare acquired COVID infections, and to count COVID as one of several other conditions in reducing payments to hospital for healthcare services. Health care is the most essential place to prevent spread of infection, and keeping healthcare settings safe should be a bare minimum of accessibility. https://peoplescdc.substack.com/p/medicare-should-track-hai
People’s CDC - Masks in Healthcare - Published February 23, 2023 As healthcare workers, patients, parents, and caregivers, we at the People’s CDC urge public health officials and healthcare organizations, including hospitals, clinics, physician and dentist offices, nursing homes, and home health care services to require masking in all healthcare settings, and to provide masks (ideally N95 respirators) for everyone in those settings. The revised CDC guidance, which permits patients and staff in healthcare to stop masking when “levels of Community Transmission” are not “high,” is dangerous, unethical and based on flawed data. https://peoplescdc.org/2023/02/23/masks-in-healthcare/
Debunk the Funk with Dr. Wilson, Reacting to the worst select subcommittee ever (w/ Walker Bragman), Mar 14, 2023 "Washing your hands is good. Like Jesus man, how are you a surgeon, and you're advocating against washing hands? It's funny because Kulldorff just said we shouldn't focus on one disease we should focus on all diseases. Well washing hands is just generally good for infectious diseases, it just generally helps prevent it." - Dr. Miller, Debunk the Funk reacting to Marty Makary disparaging hand washing in testimony to Congress in February 2023 https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxG6CeZLjV80xQhJ02tRuhj6bC-ClWWmaE
CMD - How The Koch Network Hijacked The War On Covid By Walker Bragman and Alex Kotch | December 22nd, 2021 Lockdown measures drove down cases in the U.S. and likely saved millions of lives globally. But the decline of in-person shopping and work, combined with factory shutdowns in places like China, disrupted the economy. A 2020 report from the corporate consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found the hardest-hit industries would take years to recover. One sector in particular that took a big hit was the fossil fuel industry. Oil demand fell sharply in 2020, placing the global economy on uncertain footing. Before long, business-aligned groups — particularly those connected to fossil fuels — began targeting the public health measures threatening their bottom lines. Chief among them were groups tied to billionaire Charles Koch, owner of Koch Industries, the largest privately held fossil fuel company in the world. The war on public health measures began on March 20, 2020, when Americans For Prosperity (AFP), the right-wing nonprofit founded by Charles and David Koch, issued a press release calling on states to remain open. https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2021/12/22/how-the-koch-network-hijacked-the-war-on-covid/
Wall Street Journal - Interest-Only Loans Helped Commercial Property Boom. Now They’re Coming Due. Landlords face a $1.5 trillion bill for commercial mortgages over the next three years. By Konrad Putzier, June 6, 2023 Many of the commercial landlords on the hook for the loans are vulnerable to default in part because of the way their loans are structured. Unlike most home loans, which get paid down each year, many commercial mortgages are known as interest-only loans. Borrowers make only interest payments during the life of the loan, with the entire principal due at the end. Interest-only loans as a share of new commercial mortgage-backed securities issuance increased to 88% in 2021, up from 51% in 2013, according to Trepp. Typically, owners pay off this debt by getting a new loan or selling the building. Now, steeper borrowing costs and lenders’ growing reluctance to refinance these loans are raising the likelihood that many of them won’t be paid back. Many banks, fearful of losses and under pressure from regulators and shareholders to shore up their balance sheets, have mostly stopped issuing new loans for office buildings, brokers say. Office and some mall owners are facing falling demand for their buildings because of remote work and e-commerce. https://www.wsj.com/articles/interest-only-loans-helped-commercial-property-boom-now-theyre-coming-due-c3754941
Pack of Lies: The Advertising of Tobacco (1992) "Many people rationalize that if it were really dangerous the government wouldn't let it be advertised. They are wrong in that thinking. It is dangerous and the government does let it be advertised." - Rick Pollay
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Sut Jhally: Are U.S. news organizations getting better or worse in their Middle East reporting? Mar 5, 2022 “I also learned a great deal about what puts pressure on university presidents. I've been teaching at UMass for a while and there's been lots of complaints about me from the kind of the lunatic, right you know from the zionist right. The university president kind of loved that. He was like oh i can protect you against that. But the moment the moment the pressure came from donors, the moment the pressure came from donors, he caved. And so it taught me a lot that the pressure is not just it's right wing pressure - it's pressure from people that really matter. It's pressure, as always, with money.” https://youtu.be/iDn00VSWu5Y
Medical News Today: What is gaslighting? According to the CPTSD Foundation, medical gaslighting is when a medical professional dismisses a person’s health concerns as being the product of their imagination. They may tell the person their symptoms are “in their head” or label them a hypochondriac. According to an article in Politics, Group, and Identities, racial gaslighting is when people apply gaslighting techniques to an entire racial or ethnic group in order to discredit them. For example, a person or institution may say that an activist campaigning for change is irrational or “crazy.” Political gaslighting occurs when a political group or figure lies or manipulates information to control people, according to an article in the Buffalo Law Review. For example, the person or political party may downplay things their administration has done, discredit their opponents, imply that critics are mentally unstable, or use controversy to deflect attention away from their mistakes. Institutional gaslighting occurs within a company, organization, or institution, such as a hospital. For example, they may portray whistleblowers who report problems as irrational or incompetent, or deceive employees about their rights. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/gaslighting
Teams Human - Forcing Normal in the Roaring 2020s. Elite panic kayfabe is timeless but not permanent. By Chloe Humbert, Dec 13, 2022 I’m baffled by this obsession for normal. Normal was not great anyway. Normal led us to this shitshow. And most of the people I personally know would rather not get sick, and are outraged by the idea that ordinary people should be sacrificed on the altar of The Economy, and are expected to do so joyfully. https://teamshuman.substack.com/p/forcing-normal-in-the-roaring-2020s
Chicago Sun Times: Lightfoot accuses CDC of spreading panic about the coronavirus. By Fran Spielman Feb 26, 2020 The city is prepared to implement extreme measures — like quarantines or closing schools — if warranted, but “I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and suggest to the public that there’s a reason for them to be fearful,” the mayor said. https://chicago.suntimes.com/city-hall/2020/2/26/21154698/coronavirus-covid-19-cdc-lightfoot-chicago
The Wrong Impact Research, Chloe Humbert on Medium, June 25 2023 “IMPACT RESEARCH” is some kind of PR firm that seems to be guiding Democratic party elected representatives on the pandemic issues to prioritize business and industry over human health. https://email@example.com/the-wrong-impact-research-f091a0972134
Government Executive: OPM Will End Agencies’ Maximum Telework Status Next Month. The move follows White House guidance last week instructing federal agencies to reduce the use of workplace flexibilities following the end of the COVID-19 national emergency. By Erich Wagner, APRIL 19, 2023 In the days since OMB published its telework guidance, which called on agencies to develop a new system to continuously monitor telework’s positive and negative impacts on service delivery, federal employee groups continued to suggest that while it appears well-meaning and rooted in evidence-based policymaking, the White House should have solicited input from agency HR officials and labor groups earlier in the process. https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2023/04/opm-will-end-agencies-maximum-telework-status-next-month/385387/
Curbed - Eric Adams Sort of Relents on Remote Work. By Clio Chang, June 1, 2023 Eric Adams, who is anti-remote-work and pro-living-in-your-office, has relented on his return-to-office absolutism (sort of). A contract reached earlier this year for members of District Council 37, the city’s largest union of municipal workers, includes a hybrid work plan, and the mayor announced on Thursday that a number of city workers would be able to work from home for up to two days per week. “I have always said that any flexible-work programs the city offers must acknowledge the reality that there are some roles that cannot be performed remotely,” Adams said in a statement. “This new pilot program will protect core services that New Yorkers rely on while offering city workers additional flexibility in their schedules.” The change comes after an exodus of city employees and an ongoing struggle to staff crucial agencies. https://www.curbed.com/2023/06/eric-adams-remote-work-city-employees.html
As cases grow, human service workers say they can’t use COVID-19 leave offered to other state employees. By: Stephen Caruso - April 2, 2020 When Gov. Tom Wolf closed state offices nearly three weeks ago, he promised “a 10 workday paid absence for individuals who don’t have telework capabilities.” The administration has added that the 10 days of leave is also open to workers “if they are quarantined, self-quarantined on the advice of a healthcare provider, or have symptoms related to COVID-19.” But forced to return to their offices by the Wolf administration, several county assistance workers, who process low-income utility, food and medical assistance claims, have contracted the coronavirus. One employee in Scranton has been hospitalized. https://www.penncapital-star.com/working-the-economy/i-just-dont-want-to-infect-anyone-in-the-office-as-case-total-grows-human-service-workers-say-they-cant-use-covid-19-leave-offered-to-other-state-employees/
Dissent Magazine: Belabored Stories: Who Counts as Essential? by Sarah Jaffe ▪ March 24, 2020 “I have read the reports, not just the sound bites, and I know this danger is unlikely to pass within a couple weeks. We need long-term mitigation. Do they plan to just keep replacing people as they get sick, quit in fear or burnout, get quarantined, self-isolate, or die off over the coming weeks or even months?” https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/belabored-stories-who-counts-as-essential
Pennsylvania Health Law Project: Continuous Medicaid Coverage Related to the Pandemic Ends April 1, 01.30.2023 On April 1, 2023, Pennsylvania will be able to terminate people from Medicaid for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began three years earlier. This is because the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, signed into law last month, ends a pandemic-era requirement that states keep most people enrolled in Medicaid regardless of eligibility. https://www.phlp.org/en/news/continuous-medicaid-coverage-related-to-the-pandemic-ends-april-1
Spotlight PA: Pa. faces a shortage of benefits workers as health coverage for thousands is on the line. by Katie Meyer of Spotlight PA | April 3, 2023 Though the department was still sending out reenrollment packets during the pandemic and workers aren’t totally out of practice with the process, Keenan said, things will be very different for caseworkers once they’re actually dealing with people who could lose benefits and need to appeal. “During the pandemic, many CAO staff retired,” Keenan said. “That means that many of the workers are new to the role and inexperienced. On top of that, they’re likely already flooded with work since so many positions remain unfilled.” https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2023/04/pa-medicaid-snap-food-stamps-rollbacks-staffing/
University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Scholarship Repository: A Service of the Joel A. Katz LawLegal Scholarship Repository: A Service of the Joel A. Katz Law LibraryLibrary UTK Law Faculty Publications Fall 2003 The ADA's Reasonable Accommodation Requirement andThe ADA's Reasonable Accommodation Requirement and Innocent Third PartiesInnocent Third Parties Alex B. Long It discusses various situations arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in which the Supreme Court has sought to protect the interests of those whom it has referred to as "innocent third parties."'" Part IV discusses in greater detail cases arising under the ADA that involve roughly the same dynamic, including the Supreme Court's recent decision in US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett,'9 which dealt with the proposed reassignment of an employee with a disability in contravention of an employer's unilaterally- imposed seniority policy. Part IV also considers the competing approaches adopted by various courts in such cases and discusses the lack of overall clarity in the area even after (and perhaps because of) Barnett. Part V explains why a clearer standard is needed and why the focus of that standard should be on the impact that an accommodation will have on other employees. Finally, Part VI suggests a proposed addition to the evolving law concerning the reasonable accommodation requirement that would provide that an accommodation resulting in an adverse employment action for another employee or a violation of another employee's contractual rights is not a reasonable accommodation. https://ir.law.utk.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1352&context=utklaw_facpubs
Office workers are saving real money working from home. Workers in Philadelphia who telecommute are saving $2,161 per year in expenses. By CHLOE HUMBERT, FEB 15, 2023 Large US Cities are Seeing Large Reductions in Spending from WFH days, at Between $2000 to $5000 per Employee in the City Reduction in spending ($ per person per year) by MSA of Current Job. New York NY 4,661 Los Angeles, CA 4,200 Washington, DC 4,051 Atlanta, GA 3,938 Miami, FL 3,323 San Francisco, CA 3,040 Dallas, TX 2,869 Phoenix, AZ 2,757 Boston, MA 2,539 Chicago, IL 2,387 Houston, TX 2,167 Philadelphia, PA 2,161 https://chloehumbert.substack.com/p/wfh-saving-big-money
Belabored Stories: Who Counts as Essential? “Do they plan to just keep replacing people as they get sick, quit in fear or burnout, get quarantined, self-isolate, or die off over the coming weeks or even months?” by Sarah Jaffe - March 24, 2020 Last week, I heard from a Pennsylvania state worker doing public-facing work in the crisis and classified as “essential,” even when the governor ruled that “non-life-sustaining” businesses must close. This worker was worried about their work in what they described as “the kind of open-office call-center floor plan that nobody wants to work in while fearing for a deadly and highly contagious disease like coronavirus, much less with about eighty people in one room.” The vast majority of their work, they said, “can be completed on phone and online, and what little face-to-face interaction there was surely wouldn’t be wanted now.” Yet they were told that working remotely was not an option. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/belabored-stories-who-counts-as-essential
The New York Times: ‘We Were Helpless’: Despair at the C.D.C. as the Pandemic Erupted Current and former employees recall rising desperation as Trump administration officials squelched research into the new coronavirus. By Apoorva Mandavilli, March 21, 2023 All through February 2020, agency scientists had been gathering evidence that the new coronavirus was being spread by people without symptoms. In early March, the C.D.C. said that any employee who had been deployed elsewhere to track Covid-19 must isolate at home for 14 days, whether or not he or she had symptoms. To the scientists gathered outside, trainees in the agency’s vaunted Epidemic Intelligence Service, the implication was clear: C.D.C. leaders realized that the virus was being spread not just by people who were coughing and sneezing, but also by people who were not visibly ill. But the agency had not yet warned the public. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/21/health/covid-cdc.html
Accuweather - Malaria cases in Florida, Texas are first US spread in 20 years, CDC warns. The disease is still quire rare in the country. Typically, if Americans get sick with malaria they’ve caught it while traveling overseas in areas where the mosquito-borne disease is more common. By Jen Christensen, CNN, Published Jun 27, 2023 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning doctors and public health officials about a handful of locally acquired cases of malaria. There hasn’t been a case of malaria caught locally in the U.S. in 20 years. Typically, if Americans get sick with malaria they’ve caught it while traveling overseas in areas where malaria is more common. Malaria is a disease spread when the female anopheline mosquito feeds on a person with malaria and then feeds on another. The mosquito can be found in certain regions in the US, but malaria is still rare in the US. Worldwide there are 240 million cases each year, 95% in Africa. That could change with the climate crisis. Scientists have been warning people that malaria could become more common in the US as temperatures warm. https://www.accuweather.com/en/health-wellness/malaria-cases-in-florida-texas-are-first-us-spread-in-20-years/1549791
NWSBinghamton tweet 9:02 PM · Jun 6, 2023 Smoky conditions and mild temperatures expected to continue tomorrow. Persistent northerly flow will continue to maintain smoky conditions from wildfires in Canada, with the smoke keeping high temperatures on the mild side. #NYwx #PAwx. https://twitter.com/NWSBinghamton/status/1666249254481072129
Moral Sabotage & Community Care Disengaged. Public health has been under attack. Community care and cooperation is natural and desirable. Moral disengagement is anything but normal. By CHLOE HUMBERT - DEC 30, 2022 Euphemistic Language - Using sanitizing terms (eg martyrdom operations) so violent acts are seen as mild or benign. // “Mild” (meaning everything short of being hospitalized in the ICU on a ventilator) “It’s just like a cold” (referring to the first day of symptoms in the acute stage) “It’s no worse than flu” (which does kill some people, but doesn’t cause such a significant increase in cardiac events so it’s not a fair comparison) Long covid “fatigue” mischaracterized as “feeling tired” Brain fog mischaracterized as no worse than being a bit punchy and forgetful. Exit wave (minimizing the significance of human suffering happening) https://teamshuman.substack.com/p/moral-sabotage
Pollay RW, Dewhirst T - The dark side of marketing seemingly “Light” cigarettes: successful images and failed factTobacco Control 2002;11:i18-i31. The international headquarters of B&W's parent firm, British American Tobacco, counselled that new marketing approaches should “create brands and products which reassure consumers, by answering to their needs. Overall marketing policy will be such that we maintain faith and confidence in the smoking habit . . . All work in this area [communications] should be directed towards providing consumer reassurance about cigarettes and the smoking habit . . . by claimed low deliveries, by the perception of low deliveries and by the perception of `mildness'. Furthermore, advertising for low delivery or traditional brands should be constructed in ways so as not to provoke anxiety about health, but to alleviate it, and enable the smoker to feel assured about the habit and confident in maintaining it over time” https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/11/suppl_1/i18
World Health Organization - THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY DOCUMENTS WHAT THEY ARE, WHAT THEY TELL US, AND HOW TO SEARCH THEM A PRACTICAL MANUAL (2002) The WHO Tobacco Free Initiative would like to thank Dr Norbert Hirschhorn for the preparation of this document. Sample quotations from the documents on “light”, “mild” and “thin” cigarettes Communication [:] All work in this area should be directed towards providing consumer reassurance about cigarettes and the smoking habit. This can be provided in different ways, e.g. by claimed low deliveries, by the perception of low deliveries and by the perception of “mildness.” Furthermore, advertising for low delivery or traditional brands should be constructed in ways so as not to provoke anxiety about health, but to alleviate it, and to enable the smoker to feel reassured about the habit and confident in maintaining it over time [emphasis in original]. British American Tobacco, 1977 Bates no. 100427792/7800 https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/43153/9241592907_eng.pdf;jsessionid=A46BF5B37BD48DFDE3646360D253DAEE?sequence=1
Ralph Nader tweet 7:46 PM · Jun 30, 2023 How many families with children have to inhale toxic smoke air throughout this summer before they grab hold of their Senators and Representatives to send more firefighters to Canada and stop using tax dollars to subsidize the giant oil, gas and coal barons? -R https://twitter.com/RalphNader/status/1674927294144745473
Science Based Medicine - Dr. Vinay Prasad echoes a common antivax trope that portrays concern about a deadly disease as irrational fear. Before the pandemic, antivaxxers likened concern about childhood diseases to mental illness. In the age of COVID-19, Dr. Vinay Prasad accuses medicine of “legitimizing” irrational anxiety and says we should treat COVID like the flu—with one telling omission. In a recent paid Substack, he doubles down and accuses physicians and scientists of anxiety disorders that “interfere with people’s lives”. David Gorski on September 19, 2022 I can see one reason why Dr. Prasad might want to target such monitors as an example of “irrational” anxiety, though. Many of the Tweets advocating them tend to recommend them in schools in order to reduce transmission there, and Dr. Prasad and the Brownstone Institute for which he writes have been nothing if not unrelentingly hostile for a long time to masks (which are portrayed as horrifically harmful) and any other COVID-19 mitigations in schools, such as school closures and virtual learning. Of course, the very title of Dr. Prasad’s little rant should tell you what I’m talking about when I point out that “COVID-19 contrarian” doctors often echo antivax talking points. There was a time when I used to give people like Dr. Prasad the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were clueless that the arguments they were making were not new and, prior to the pandemic, had been staples of antivaccine propaganda going back decades. Indeed, on several occasions, that benefit of the doubt led me to state emphatically and unequivocally that, no matter what I thought of him otherwise, I didn’t think that Dr. Prasad is was any way antivaccine. Nearly a year later, I can no longer say this about Dr. Prasad with nearly much confidence as I used to. As for the other “contrarians,” they have been told time and time again, with examples, that these talking points are old antivax tropes. They either refuse to believe or continue to use them anyway. Truly, the “new school” COVID-19 antivaxxers are coming more and more to resemble “old school” antivaxxers from days gone by. The overall message of the post is simple: Anyone who is middle-aged or younger and relatively healthy shouldn’t worry about COVID-19 anymore, and if you continue to take precautions you’re a victim of “irrational anxiety” stoked by the public health infrastructure. In fact, Dr. Prasad suggests that you might even be mentally ill https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/dr-vinay-prasad-echoes-the-common-antivax-trope-of-portraying-a-desire-not-to-catch-a-deadly-disease-as-irrational-and-mental-illness/
DENY, DECEIVE, DELAY Exposing New Trends in Climate Mis- and Disinformation at COP27 (Vol 2) Climate Action Against Disinformation, January 2023 Michael Shellenberger - A longstanding critic of the environmental movement, in and around COP27, Shellenberger focussed on a relatively new line of attack: the supposed link between climate activism and mental illness. He continued to produce high-traction posts attacking renewable energy - a long-standing pillar of his outputs - but content discussing so-called ‘narcissism’ and ‘anxiety disorders’ was more prominent. He also launched attacks against ‘woke’ activists by connecting movements like Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights to psychological disorder. In the process, he has begun to explicitly reference the Great Reset conspiracy and alleged plans for energy and food shortages. https://caad.info/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/DDD_ExposingClimateDisinfo-COP27.pdf
People's CDC - COVID This Week / "Finished" COVID Still Infecting Surprised Americans / June 29, 2023 The camp of COVID minimizers continues its march farther into absurdist territory. Oncologist Vinay Prasad, one of the leading COVID minimizers, declared efforts at masking not only against COVID but the smoke in New York City from the Canadian fires without a randomized controlled study were signs of, quote, “an untreated mental illness plaguing public health,” end quote, as if no intervention could be pursued for each new public health threat we face until such years-long study was completed. That take might speak to the quality of Prasad’s COVID commentaries throughout the pandemic. Prasad’s arguments run in parallel to that of OceanGate CEO Stock Rush, who, in retrofitting his submersible with off-the-shelf, out-of-date parts and no safety beacon, argued safety overrated. https://youtu.be/BAFTjXO5h5w
Salon: How Elon Musk sees the future: His bizarre sci-fi vision should concern us all. Musk is sweet on "longtermism," a vision of deep-future human happiness that's even crazier than you think. By Émile P. Torres, July 17, 2022 In other words, yes, we should worry about nuclear war and runaway climate change, but we should worry just as much about, to put it bluntly, less intelligent or less capable people outbreeding the smartest people. Fortunately, Bostrom continued, "genetic engineering is rapidly approaching the point where it will become possible to give parents the choice of endowing their offspring with genes that correlate with intellectual capacity, physical health, longevity, and other desirable traits." Hence, even if less intelligent people keep having more children than smart people, advanced genetic engineering technologies could rectify the problem by enabling future generations to create super-smart designer babies that are, as such, superior even to the greatest geniuses among us. This neo-eugenic idea is known as "transhumanism," and Bostrom is probably the most prominent transhumanist of the 21st century thus far. Given that Musk hopes to "jump-start the next stage of human evolution" by, for example, putting electrodes in our brains, one is justified in concluding that Musk, too, is a transhumanist. https://www.salon.com/2022/07/17/how-elon-musk-sees-the-future-his-bizarre-sci-fi-vision-should-concern-us-all/
Dave Troy Presents - Against Longtermism with Émile Torres - S1E23 - August 25th 2022 Émile P. Torres: “One way to understand it is, the argument that he presented in a paper titled “Astronomical Waste” - which was actually recently retweeted by Elon Musk just a couple months ago - this assumed in a particular ethical framework called total utilitarianism. And so basically an easy way to understand this theory is to begin with the utilitarian notion of what persons are. So people for total utilitarians are essentially the containers of value. And what is value? Value can be defined in various ways - the simplest way is just pleasure. Pleasurable experiences or happiness. And so people are these containers of pleasurable experiences and the aim then is to maximize the total net quantity of this value in the universe. And one way to do that of course if you have a population, you enhance the quality of life of those individuals. So you make them happier, you know, however one might go about doing that. But so you increase the happiness of those individuals. But another way is to actually increase the number of individuals there are. So if you have more value containers in the future, and if those value containers contain net positive amount of value, then you’ll end up with more total value in the universe. So from the total utilitarian perspective our aim then is to increase the number of these value containers in the future to the limit. You know the more the better. And one way to do that then, which Nick Bostrom discussed in his 2003 paper was to not just colonize space and you know terraform exoplanets, and live as biological beings on these planets spread throughout our future light cone. But also then to convert planets into a material called computronium, which is a configuration of matter that's optimized for computations. And so once you do that you have these planet-sized computers and on these planet size computers you could run simulations. And you could fit way more people, way more value containers, in these simulations than you could just on planets. So the goal then is to, from this total utilitarian perspective, is to colonize space, convert planets into giant computers and simulate trillions and trillions of happy people. That's the way you maximize value. Maximizing value again is our sole moral obligation in the universe.” Dave Troy: “Right and so let's unpack this for people that might have missed you know a key step in there. I mean when you talk about converting a planet into a computing device that is then going to host I guess containers of artificial general intelligence that can basically host the same kind of happiness that a human allegedly can. That's a pretty weird abstraction for like what constitutes useful intelligence or you know a notion of being human or alive or conscious. But yet they're considering this very hypothetical construct as actually putting you know weight on the scale against living breathing people here on planet Earth today in 2022 who have real needs. So let’s not neglect the future computronium AIs that might exist in the future. Am I reading this right?” Émile P. Torres: “Yeah, that’s right. The aim is just to maximize value. And since there could be so many of these individuals in the future living happy lives. As it happens there is almost nothing said about why exactly these individuals, trillions of them, living in computer simulations, would be happy. But the assumption is that they could have these net positive lives, lives that are worthwhile, or lives that are half-decent, and as a result you know you can just end up with this astronomical amount of just impersonal value in the future. And so they would not say that current people don't matter. The thing is that there could be so many more people in the future than there are people in the present by many many orders of magnitude, that the idea was, that the best way to, the thing that you ought to do, is focus on ensuring that these beings come into existence.” https://pod.co/dave-troy/unnamed-1
The President's Analyst, movie review by Roger Ebert February 16, 1968 Writer and director Theodore Flicker's satire is modern and biting, and there are many fine, subtle touches in the film. All of the FBI agents are clean-cut, sharp-jawed, impeccably groomed men of exactly 4 feet, 11 inches tall. And when Coburn is kidnapped by the phone company, there is a nauseatingly pleasant young man who lectures him on why the phone company is his friend. To accompany the lecture, there are animated cartoons like a TV commercial -- but done in a peculiar way so all the little dancing men look uncoordinated. https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-presidents-analyst-1968
Ken Klippenstein: The 5 Creepiest Moments at Davos - The real Davos conspiracy is hiding in plain sight, Jan 20, 2023 Solutions for the scourge of quiet quitting are discussed and include connecting with employees by doing everything from CEOs sending workers video messages — “so you can get their emotion and nuance instead of reading an email,” explains Vimeo CEO Anjali Sudi — to conducting hourlong, open-ended meetings with no agenda; and stressing the business’s contributions to charity in order to motivate employees. Wipro CEO Thierry Delaporte insists that the “number one reason for the people to really be happy at Wipro is the fact that two thirds of the equity ownership goes to a philanthropic trust…and they can take pride [in] that.” The consensus opinion is that company culture is how to keep people from quiet quitting — the obvious solution, better pay, apparently overrated. https://kenklippenstein.substack.com/p/the-5-creepiest-moments-at-davos
1944 OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual UNCLASSIFIED SIMPLE SABOTAGE FIELD MANUAL Strategic Services (Provisional) STRATEGIC SERVICES FIELD MANUAL No. 3 (11) General Interference with Organizations and Production (a) Organizations and Conferences (1) Insist on doing everything through "channels." Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions. (2) Make "speeches." Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your "points" by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate "patriotic" comments. (3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for "further study and consideration." Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five. (4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible. (5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions. (6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision. (7) Advocate "caution." Be "reasonable" and urge your fellow-conferees to be "reasonable" and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on. (8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon. (b) Managers and Supervisors (1) Demand written orders. (2) "Misunderstand" orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can. (3) Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don't deliver it until it is completely ready. (4) Don't order new working materials until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filing your order will mean a shutdown. (5) Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don't get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean in- ferior work. (6) In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines. (7) Insist on perfect work in relatively un- important products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye. (8) Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant. (9) When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions. (10) To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work. (11) Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done. https://regmedia.co.uk/2021/01/05/simple_sabotage_field_manual.pdf
Psychology Today: Learned Helplessness How do we learn to be helpless? Seligman subjected study participants to loud, unpleasant noises, using a lever that would or would not stop the sounds. The group whose lever wouldn’t stop the sound in the first round stopped trying to silence the noise subsequently. Not trying leads to apathy and powerlessness, and this can lead to all-or-nothing thinking. Nothing I do matters. I always lose. This phenomenon exists in many animal species as well as in humans. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/learned-helplessness
Jalopnik - OceanGate CEO Called Safety 'A Waste,' Suit Claimed Titan Sub Was Not Tested Properly. David Lochridge claimed he was wrongfully fired after he raised concerns about safety. By Collin Woodard, Wednesday 21 June 2023 Metro reports that last year, when asked about the safety of the Titan submersible, Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s CEO, said, “You know, there’s a limit. At some point safety just is pure waste. I mean if you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed. Don’t get in your car. Don’t do anything. At some point, you’re going to take some risk, and it really is a risk/reward question. I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules.” https://jalopnik.com/oceangate-ceo-called-safety-a-waste-suit-claimed-titan-1850560257
Dr. Vinay Prasad echoes a common antivax trope that portrays concern about a deadly disease as irrational fear. Before the pandemic, antivaxxers likened concern about childhood diseases to mental illness. In the age of COVID-19, Dr. Vinay Prasad accuses medicine of “legitimizing” irrational anxiety and says we should treat COVID like the flu—with one telling omission. In a recent paid Substack, he doubles down and accuses physicians and scientists of anxiety disorders that “interfere with people’s lives”. David Gorski on September 19, 2022 My overall impression was that these people were not being irrational, just cautious, and that having better ventilation is a good thing, even leaving aside the question of how low your CO2 reading needs to be to decrease the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 to very low levels. I can see one reason why Dr. Prasad might want to target such monitors as an example of “irrational” anxiety, though. Many of the Tweets advocating them tend to recommend them in schools in order to reduce transmission there, and Dr. Prasad and the Brownstone Institute for which he writes have been nothing if not unrelentingly hostile for a long time to masks (which are portrayed as horrifically harmful) and any other COVID-19 mitigations in schools, such as school closures and virtual learning. Of course, the very title of Dr. Prasad’s little rant should tell you what I’m talking about when I point out that “COVID-19 contrarian” doctors often echo antivax talking points. There was a time when I used to give people like Dr. Prasad the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were clueless that the arguments they were making were not new and, prior to the pandemic, had been staples of antivaccine propaganda going back decades. Indeed, on several occasions, that benefit of the doubt led me to state emphatically and unequivocally that, no matter what I thought of him otherwise, I didn’t think that Dr. Prasad is was any way antivaccine. Nearly a year later, I can no longer say this about Dr. Prasad with nearly much confidence as I used to. As for the other “contrarians,” they have been told time and time again, with examples, that these talking points are old antivax tropes. They either refuse to believe or continue to use them anyway. Truly, the “new school” COVID-19 antivaxxers are coming more and more to resemble “old school” antivaxxers from days gone by. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/dr-vinay-prasad-echoes-the-common-antivax-trope-of-portraying-a-desire-not-to-catch-a-deadly-disease-as-irrational-and-mental-illness/
CMD - How Dark Money Shaped The School Safety Debate by Walker Bragman & Alex Kotch, March 8th, 2022 The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing nonprofit heavily funded by the Charles Koch Foundation and Charles Koch Institute, also published articles in March 2020 in favor of using public school funds to pay parents to homeschool their kids. Heritage senior policy analyst Jonathan Butcher wrote a policy brief for the Koch-founded-and-funded Mercatus Center, a free-market think tank based at George Mason University, calling to funnel state funds into for-profit charter school companies providing virtual learning. The message was blasted out by other groups in Koch’s orbit, including his flagship political advocacy outfit, Americans For Prosperity (AFP); the Independent Women’s Forum, a dark money group bankrolled by Koch organizations and the heirs to the Walmart fortune; and the State Policy Network, a web of libertarian state-based policy organizations. But within a few months, the school narrative out of Koch world began to shift, coinciding with growing concerns about labor shortages and changing workplace dynamics caused by nationwide school closures. According to Education Week, a staggering 55.1 million students were impacted by the closures at their peak. The closures meant a loss of childcare for many parents, which contributed to plummeting labor force participation early in the pandemic. https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2022/03/08/how-dark-money-shaped-the-school-safety-debate/
Toxic Sludge is Good for You 2002 In today’s corporate culture major PR firms promote crisis management as a necessary business expense. Whenever something bad happens to a corporation, often its first move is not to deal with the actual problem, but to manage the negative perception caused by that problem. https://www.kanopy.com/en/product/41588
Well There's Your Problem | Episode 135: Project Plowshare - Jun 29, 2023 Autotranscript: by the way that he got he got a deal on it he bought it from Boeing because it was like now unsafe for them to use in planes. yes oh good oh all right that's fine it was expired yes baby let's do it yeah it was uh expired carbon fiber I believe he he mentioned that um you know they did it in conjunction with Boeing and NASA but actually they put it out well it's less safety critical in in cars I don't know actually still kill your ass just as dead yeah see how you do buddy yeah the 4C like head from what I heard chassis bonding problems early on like carbon fiber is very easy to up be very funny if you're just driving along the road you're like Alfa Romeo fails and you just implode https://youtu.be/ek2P-Ui46GE
BBC News US & Canada - Titan sub CEO dismissed safety warnings as 'baseless cries', emails show. By Rebecca Morelle, Alison Francis & Gareth Evans, June 23, 2023 Mr Rush responded that he was "tired of industry players who try to use a safety argument to stop innovation". The tense exchange ended after OceanGate's lawyers threatened legal action, Mr McCallum said. "I think you are potentially placing yourself and your clients in a dangerous dynamic," he wrote to the OceanGate boss in March 2018. "In your race to Titanic you are mirroring that famous catch cry: 'She is unsinkable'". In the messages, Mr Rush, who was among five passengers who died when the Titan experienced what officials believe was a "catastrophic implosion" on Sunday, expresses frustration with the criticism of Titan's safety measures. "We have heard the baseless cries of 'you are going to kill someone' way too often," he wrote. "I take this as a serious personal insult." Mr McCallum told the BBC that he repeatedly urged the company to seek certification for the Titan before using it for commercial tours. The vessel was never certified or classed. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-65998914
Daily Beast - Missing Sub Boss Was Previously Sued for Fraud in Florida. A Florida couple booked for the Titanic trip accused OceanGate Expeditions founder Stockton Rush of “fraudulent inducement” and “unfair and deceptive acts” in a February lawsuit. By William Bredderman, Jun. 20, 2023 In fact, the suit asserts, the date of their trip got postponed first one, then two, then three years, as the rechristened submersible needed to undergo further testing and suffered unspecified “equipment failure.” Further, the Hagles allege their money was in fact not kept in a separate account where they could recover it should OceanGate miss its deadlines. In the end, the company allegedly told the pair they could join a 2021 mission to the Titanic’s sunken hull, but not get a refund. The Hagles argued that Rush violated state fraud and unfair and deceptive practices statutes, and demanded their money back, as well as attorneys fees and other reimbursement for their pains. https://www.thedailybeast.com/missing-sub-boss-oceangate-ceo-stockton-rush-was-sued-for-fraud-in-florida-by-marc-and-sharon-hagle
John Michael Godier’s Event Horizon: Hidden History of the Ancient World with Dr. Garrett Ryan (youtube video / audio podcast) Edited Auto-Transcript: Garrett Ryan: in the Roman World there is no industry catalyzing this development. There are innovators like Heron of Alexandria who have obviously the skills to make machines. The aeolipile heron steam engine is not very efficient in itself but the principles are all there for a practical steam engine. He could have done it if he wanted to but he didn't want to because there was no need for it, there was no demand for it. There are applications certainly for things like it - the English famously the first steam engines are pumping out mines in places like the Midlands and Wales and the Romans had their own deep mines in Spain they could have pumped out with steam engines but they never made that particular leap because there wasn't this culture of innovation there wasn't this drive to incentivize anything like it and so I think it was never likely that the Romans were going to make the leap to a Industrial Revolution just because the people running Society - the whole bent of the culture was towards stasis basically towards keeping things in the status quo keeping things stable and not in funding these madcap ventures. https://youtu.be/B10c2RaTDOg
Learning from the ‘COVID War’ - By Sam Friedman - July 5, 2023 - Bill of Health - The blog of the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School review of the book “Lessons from the COVID War: An Investigative Report” That is, their critique is on process and competence, not on the underlying assumptions of what was done nor on whether the response was organized for the interest of the wealthy, powerful, and white in ways that hurt workers, the poor, members of oppressed racial/ethnic groups, the disabled and the elderly. Since the failure came from not knowing how to get things done, they see a major part of the solution as being the re-creation of the “can-do culture” for which the U.S. used to be famous. They emphasize a “need” for public-private ventures to get things done competently. As they see it, business has the “know-how,” as do certain parts of the military. They recognize the near-certainty of future pandemic outbreaks. They thus point to the need for early detection and tracking systems, and put forward a number of intelligent suggestions for how this might be done more effectively. They state as a main goal in responding to pandemics is getting people back to schools and work as soon as possible. https://blog.petrieflom.law.harvard.edu/2023/07/05/learning-from-the-covid-war/
The Guardian - Titanic submersible: documents reveal multiple concerns raised over safety of vessel. Exclusive: OceanGate founder told Guardian his sub was designed to get ‘very close’ to wreck, after industry leaders urged firm to have it assessed. Jonathan Yerushalmy and Ashifa Kassam, Tue 20 Jun 2023 On Tuesday, the New York Times published a letter written in 2018 by industry leaders in the submersible vessel field, warning Rush of possible “catastrophic” problems with Titan’s development. The Marine Technology Society, an industry group made up of ocean engineers, technologists, policymakers and educators, expressed “concern regarding the development of Titan and the planned Titanic expeditions” and warned against the “current experimental approach adopted by OceanGate”. At issue was whether the Titan vessel would be independently assessed by industry regulators or risk assessors. The Marine Technology Society was critical of OceanGate issuing marketing material that stated the Titan design would “meet or exceed the DNV-GL safety standards” while apparently not intending to have the vessel assessed by that same organisation. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/21/titanic-submersible-documents-reveal-multiple-concerns-raised-over-safety-of-vessel
Marketplace - The warning that went unheeded, Oct 20, 2009 Instead of taking the hint, Born began investigating. She immediately ran up against opposition from the president’s Working Group on financial markets. She even got an angry call from Larry Summers, the Deputy Treasury Secretary. BORN: They were totally opposed to it. That puzzled me. You know, what was it that was in this market that had to be hidden? So, it made me very suspicious and troubled. Summers, his boss at the Treasury Robert Rubin, and Alan Greenspan were big believers in letting the markets look after themselves. Mark Brickell is a former derivatives banker at JPMorgan Chase, and an industry lobbyist. He says Greenspan wanted to regulate over-the-counter derivatives as little as possible. MARK BRICKELL: He had said that he perceived derivatives to be one of the greatest innovations in recent financial history, that the contracts because they helped businesses and banks and governments manage the risks to which they were already exposed more efficiently than they could have done before, were doing something that was useful for the financial system. Where Greenspan saw benefits, Born saw risks. She prepared a document that laid out her concerns. The president’s working group discussed it at an emergency meeting in May 1998. MICHAEL GREENBERGER: I happened to be sitting behind Brooksley and behind Greenspan. Michael Greenberger was one of Born’s aides at the time.GREENBERGER: Greenspan turns to her, she turns to him, his face is red, and he’s clearly quite upset. He was very adamant that this was a serious, serious mistake, that it would cause untold damages to the financial services market and that she should stop and not do this. Undeterred, Brooksley Born published her list of concerns. The members of the Working Group struck back. They insisted Congress shut Born down. Four congressional committees called on her to testify. But they weren’t persuaded. Instead, they stripped the CFTC of its powers to regulate the markets. Born quit. Ten years later, she watched, appalled, as the market collapsed. https://www.marketplace.org/2009/10/20/warning-went-unheeded/
ABC News (video) - 'There is no excuse for what happened here': Director James Cameron on Titanic sub tragedy. Jun 22, 2023 Transcript: “we didn't I don't think we wanted to come forward I got as you did Bob approached by many outlets for comments and it just seemed like speculation even though we felt we knew what the outcome was going to be and it was certainly zero surprise to me today I was even able to visualize the wreck site in my mind over the last few days and and uh you know as described I think it's exactly what we expected but you know I can't imagine what these poor families have been through over the last four days being given false hope here banging noises this and that and um you know it must have been just uh you know horrible for them and I I feel so bad for them but I also felt that uh as as we agreed Bob that it would be insensitive to come forward with a dissenting voice to the to the story that was uh in motion at the time I just wish we could have gotten an ROV to the site much much earlier and gotten eyes on which took four days um and you know this thing just just seemed like a long a prolonged nightmare” https://youtu.be/e9YB31ElEFQ
Reuters - James Cameron says he wishes he'd sounded alarm over lost submersible, By Rollo Ross and Daniel Trotta, June 23, 2023 Movie director and submersible maker James Cameron said on Thursday he wishes he had sounded the alarm earlier about the submersible Titan that imploded on an expedition to the Titanic wreckage, saying he had found the hull design risky. https://www.reuters.com/world/james-cameron-says-he-wishes-hed-sounded-alarm-over-lost-submersible-2023-06-23/
The Guardian - The Greek shipwreck was a horrific tragedy. Yet it didn’t get the attention of the Titanic story. By Arwa Mahdawi, Thu 22 Jun 2023 While it’s only natural to be glued to the Titan story, it’s far from the only recent maritime tragedy in recent weeks. And yet it’s absorbing a disproportionate amount of the world’s attention, empathy and resources. Last Wednesday, one of the worst tragedies that has ever occurred on the Mediterranean Sea took place: a fishing boat carrying about 750 people, mainly Pakistani and Afghan migrants, capsized on its way to Italy. There were 100 children below deck in that ship. One hundred children. The exact number of fatalities is unclear: so far we know that 78 people have been confirmed dead and as many as 500 are missing. Those are heartbreaking numbers and yet hundreds of dead and missing migrants have failed to garner anywhere near the amount of attention from the US media as five rich adventurers. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jun/22/the-greek-shipwreck-was-a-horrific-tragedy-yet-it-didnt-get-the-attention-of-the-titanic-story
Journal of Accountancy - The Rise and Fall of Enron. When a company looks too good to be true, it usually is. BY C. WILLIAM THOMAS, April 1, 2002 In 1985, after federal deregulation of natural gas pipelines, Enron was born from the merger of Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth, a Nebraska pipeline company. In the process of the merger, Enron incurred massive debt and, as the result of deregulation, no longer had exclusive rights to its pipelines. In order to survive, the company had to come up with a new and innovative business strategy to generate profits and cash flow. Kenneth Lay, CEO, hired McKinsey & Co. to assist in developing Enron’s business strategy. It assigned a young consultant named Jeffrey Skilling to the engagement. Skilling, who had a background in banking and asset and liability management, proposed a revolutionary solution to Enron’s credit, cash and profit woes in the gas pipeline business: create a “gas bank” in which Enron would buy gas from a network of suppliers and sell it to a network of consumers, contractually guaranteeing both the supply and the price, charging fees for the transactions and assuming the associated risks. Thanks to the young consultant, the company created both a new product and a new paradigm for the industry—the energy derivative. https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2002/apr/theriseandfallofenron.html
Center for Economic and Policy Research - The Housing Bubble and the Great Recession: Ten Years Later By Dean Baker, September 2018 To understand the depth of the problem created by the collapse of the housing bubble it is only necessary to understand the extent to which the demand generated by the bubble was driving the economy in the years prior to its collapse. The bubble was driving demand through two channels. First, it pushed residential construction to record levels as a share of GDP. https://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/housing-bubble-2018-09.pdf
Democracy Now - Ralph Nader on Corporate Crime, Holding Boeing Accountable for 737 MAX Deaths & Biden’s First Weeks. February 12, 2021 Legendary consumer advocate Ralph Nader says the U.S. is experiencing a “corporate crime wave” and that the Trump administration’s $2.5 billion settlement with Boeing over the manufacturer’s faulty 737 MAX jets amounts to a “slap on the wrist.” Boeing’s faulty planes were involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people in 2018 and 2019, including Nader’s 24-year-old grandniece Samya Stumo. https://www.democracynow.org/2021/2/12/ralph_nader_corporate_crime_wave_boeing
Salon - What the Sam Bankman-Fried debacle can teach us about "longtermism" - I'm not surprised that longtermism led to fraud, corruption and disaster. I'm mostly surprised it wasn't worse. By Émile P. Torres, November 20, 2022 6:00AM For years, I have been warning that longtermism could "justify" actions much worse than fraud, which Bankman-Fried appears to have committed in his effort to "get filthy rich, for charity's sake." Even some within or adjacent to the longtermist community have noted the ideology's potential dangers, yet none of the community's leaders have taken such warnings seriously. To the contrary, critics have been habitually dismissed as attacking a "straw man," or of putting forward their critiques in "bad faith." One hopes the FTX debacle will prompt some serious reflection on why, and how, the longtermist ideology is playing with fire. https://www.salon.com/2022/11/20/what-the-sam-bankman-fried-debacle-can-teach-us-about-longtermism/
Car and Driver - Report: Tesla Autopilot Involved in 736 Crashes since 2019. By Sebastian Blanco, Published: Jun 13, 2023 Tesla's Autopilot software has been involved with more deaths and injuries than previously known: a total of 17 fatalities and 736 crashes since 2019, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyzed by the Washington Post. Officially, Telsa describes Autopilot as "an SAE Level 2 driving automation system designed to support and assist the driver in performing the driving task," as cited by NHTSA. Autopilot is not an autonomous driving technology, but the new numbers suggest people are treating it that way, sometimes resulting in tragedy. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he believes the name is misleading. "I don't think that something should be called, for example, an Autopilot, when the fine print says you need to have your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times," he said. https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a44185487/report-tesla-autopilot-crashes-since-2019/
Business Insider - After Elon Musk opened Tesla's Bay Area factory against local rules, around 450 workers got COVID-19. By Tyler Sonnemaker Mar 12, 2021 Around 450 of the roughly 10,000 workers at Tesla's Fremont, California, factory tested positive for COVID-19 from May to December, The Washington Post reported Friday. Tesla and Alameda County Public Health Department did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Last May, after public health orders required non-essential businesses to shut down in Alameda County, Elon Musk reopened the factory in defiance of those orders. The county eventually reversed course and let the factory restart operations after Tesla sued. But a month later, several Tesla employees tested positive for COVID-19 despite claims from the company's safety chief that there had been "zero COVID-19 workplace transmissions" since the plant reopened. https://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-factory-450-covid-19-cases-after-musk-opened-defying-rules-2021-3
Tech Dirt - As Elon Fires More Trust & Safety Staff, Twitter’s Moderation Efforts Fall Apart - Tue, Jan 10th 2023 10:50am - Mike Masnick Despite having already fired a huge percentage of Twitter’s trust & safety team handling issues around content moderation, including the teams handling child sexual abuse material and election denialism, last week Elon apparently fired another chunk of the team. Just in time for organizers of the insurrection in Brazil to make use of social media to help them organize. https://www.techdirt.com/2023/01/10/as-elon-fires-more-trust-safety-staff-twitters-moderation-efforts-fall-apart/
Reuters - Italy's Berlusconi wins immunity from prosecution - By Phil Stewart - July 22, 2008 The Italian parliament approved a law on Tuesday giving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi immunity from prosecution, a victory for the conservative billionaire who has long complained of being hounded by “biased” prosecutors. Despite protests from the weakened centre-left opposition, the senate gave final approval for legislation halting criminal trials against Italy’s top four elected officials, including Berlusconi, while they are in office. Critics said the measure was custom-designed to rid the 71-year-old media mogul of legal headaches, including a high-profile graft case against him and British lawyer David Mills in Milan. “Citizens have the right to know if their prime minister is or isn’t a criminal,” said centre-left lawmaker Antonio Di Pietro, a former anti-graft magistrate. Anna Finocchiaro, head of the opposition Democratic Party in the senate, said the legislation brought Berlusconi closer to the profile of a sovereign monarch. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-immunity/italys-berlusconi-wins-immunity-from-prosecution-idUSL222100720080722
Current Affairs: The Dangerous Ideas of “Longtermism” and “Existential Risk” - So-called rationalists have created a disturbing secular religion that looks like it addresses humanity’s deepest problems, but actually justifies pursuing the social preferences of elites. By Émile P. Torres, 28 July 2021 Longtermism should not be confused with “long-term thinking.” It goes way beyond the observation that our society is dangerously myopic, and that we should care about future generations no less than present ones. At the heart of this worldview, as delineated by Bostrom, is the idea that what matters most is for “Earth-originating intelligent life” to fulfill its potential in the cosmos. What exactly is “our potential”? As I have noted elsewhere, it involves subjugating nature, maximizing economic productivity, replacing humanity with a superior “posthuman” species, colonizing the universe, and ultimately creating an unfathomably huge population of conscious beings living what Bostrom describes as “rich and happy lives” inside high-resolution computer simulations. This is what “our potential” consists of, and it constitutes the ultimate aim toward which humanity as a whole, and each of us as individuals, are morally obligated to strive. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/07/the-dangerous-ideas-of-longtermism-and-existential-risk
Tech Won’t Save Us with Paris Marx - 22 12 08 [#145] Trusting Tech Billionaires is a Recipe for Disaster - Douglas Rushkoff Wait a minute, I’ve externalized so much that now I’m neck deep in my own externalized harm. I’ve got to get away from this somehow. So they fantasize. Blue Origin getting off the planet — oh, the 8 billion people alive today according to Longtermism. They’re just the larval stage in humanity’s inevitable ascent to the heavens, when the 40 trillion of us spread out through the solar system will matter a lot more than the 8 billion larvae squirming around today. It’s laughable when you realize who they are and how silly they are. There’s a great story in there about a guy who’s really afraid of AI, one of the guys who started one of the main social networks, it was at a Foo camp, the friends of O’Reilly So we’re not allowed to say the names of people who say stuff. But the guy’s asking me: Aren’t you scared? You’ve been posting such negative things about AI on Medium and on Twitter? Aren’t you scared that when the AIs are in charge, they’re going to rub you out? https://techwontsave.us/episode/145_trusting_tech_billionaires_is_a_recipe_for_disaster_w_douglas_rushkoff
Aeon - Against longtermism - It started as a fringe philosophical theory about humanity’s future. It’s now richly funded and increasingly dangerous. By Émile P Torres Yet the implications of longtermism are far more worrisome. If our top four priorities are to avoid an existential catastrophe – ie, to fulfil ‘our potential’ – then what’s not on the table for making this happen? Consider Thomas Nagel’s comment about how the notion of what we might call the ‘greater good’ has been used to ‘justify’ certain atrocities (eg, during war). If the ends ‘justify’ the means, he argues, and the ends are thought to be sufficiently large (eg, national security), then this ‘can be brought to bear to ease the consciences of those responsible for a certain number of charred babies’. Now imagine what might be ‘justified’ if the ‘greater good’ isn’t national security but the cosmic potential of Earth-originating intelligent life over the coming trillions of years? During the Second World War, 40 million civilians perished, but compare this number to the 1054 or more people (in Bostrom’s estimate) who could come to exist if we can avoid an existential catastrophe. What shouldn’t we do to ‘protect’ and ‘preserve’ this potential? To ensure that these unborn people come to exist? What means can’t be ‘justified’ by this cosmically significant moral end? Bostrom himself argued that we should seriously consider establishing a global, invasive surveillance system that monitors every person on the planet in realtime, to amplify the ‘capacities for preventive policing’ (eg, to prevent omnicidal terrorist attacks that could devastate civilisation). Elsewhere, he’s written that states should use preemptive violence/war to avoid existential catastrophes, and argued that saving billions of actual people is the moral equivalent of reducing existential risk by utterly minuscule amounts. In his words, even if there is ‘a mere 1 per cent chance’ of 1054 people existing in the future, then ‘the expected value of reducing existential risk by a mere one billionth of one billionth of one percentage point is worth 100 billion times as much as a billion human lives.’ Such fanaticism – a word that some longtermists embrace – has led a growing number of critics to worry about what might happen if political leaders in the real world were to take Bostrom’s view seriously. https://aeon.co/essays/why-longtermism-is-the-worlds-most-dangerous-secular-credo
Truthdig: Longtermism and Eugenics: A Primer. The intellectual lineage of Nick Bostrom’s retrograde futurism. By ÉMILE P. TORRES, FEB 4, 2023 So far on Earth, there have been about 117 billion humans, which is 117 followed by “only” nine zeros. The future population could absolutely dwarf the total number of people who’ve so far existed. Although our past is pretty “big,” the future could be so much bigger. Sometime around the end of the 2000s, it seems that some effective altruists came across Bostrom’s work and were struck by an epiphany: If the aim is to positively influence the greatest number of people possible, and if most people who could ever exist would exist in the far future, then maybe what we should do is focus on them rather than current-day people. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/longtermism-and-eugenics-a-primer/
Event Horizon: The Problem With General Relativity with Prof. Brian Keating Jan 5, 2023 Auto Transcript: I recently had Jay Bhattacharya on the podcast is an eminent MD PhD at Stanford University and he was the one co-authored of the Great Barrington Declaration that basically advocated for common sense not locking down working on vaccinating the most vulnerable people in society and he was shut down he was investigated he was brought up on suspicious charges by his home institution Stanford University and it was a really a political Witch Hunt for someone who was approaching it purely scientifically as just answering the question what do we know about the efficacy of lockdowns not the vaccine not where did it originate and we can debate all those things and and it was really terrifying to know what he went through which eventually culminated with a email which was unraveled by the foia process Freedom of Information Act in which Dr Anthony fauci and Francis Collins the director of the NIH and the the chairman of the kova task force in 2020 colluded and conspired to quote take down this Lunatic Fringe element which sadly includes even a Nobel Prize winner which was postulating that we shouldn't just have random massive lockdowns https://youtu.be/jI9UsdaiB-k
COVID-19 lockdown revisionism by Blake Murdoch, Timothy Caulfield, CMAJ Apr 2023, 195 (15) E552-E554; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.221543 The term “lockdown” has become a powerful and perverted word in the infodemic about democracies’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown, as used in public discourse, has expanded to include any public health measure, even if it places little to no restriction on social mobility or interaction. For example, a working literature review and meta-analysis on the effects of lockdowns on COVID-19 mortality misleadingly defined lockdowns as “the imposition of at least 1 compulsory non-pharmaceutical intervention.”1 This working paper therefore conflated mandatory isolation for people with confirmed infections and masking policies with heavy-handed limitations on freedom of movement, and since it gained viral fame, it has helped fuel calls for “no more lockdowns.” This working paper has been highly critiqued and is less convincing than comparative assessments of health measures, like the Oxford Stringency Index.2,3 Here, we discuss the spread of misinformation on lockdowns and other public health measures, which we refer to as “lock-down revisionism,” and how this phenomenon has damaged trust in public health initiatives designed to keep people safer. “Lockdowns” Anti-lockdown discourse is common on social media, in political rhetoric and in news articles.4–6 Lockdowns are often framed as a false binary of full lockdown versus no measures. https://www.cmaj.ca/content/195/15/E552#ref-1
Why it's time to end Covid self-isolation. By interfering with the maintenance of herd immunity, measures such as self-isolation actually increase the risk to the vulnerable by Sunetra Gupta, 20 January 2022 The low risk of infection among the vulnerable arises from the maintenance of herd immunity through constant reinfection; any measure that interferes with this actually increases their risk. Self-isolation is a case in point. It may slow the spread of the virus but to what end? http://telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/01/20/time-end-self-isolation/
CIDRAP: COMMENTARY: 8 things US pandemic communicators still get wrong. By Peter M. Sandman, PhD, December 9, 2021 The most dangerous is shutting up the dissenters, or bashing them so badly that potential followers shy away and they can't get a fair hearing. The maltreatment of the Great Barrington Declaration authors comes to mind. The question isn't whether they were right or wrong to oppose last year's lockdowns; the question is whether the mainstream was right or wrong to try to muzzle them. Wrong, I think. Badly wrong. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/commentary-8-things-us-pandemic-communicators-still-get-wrong
“Fear Is Spreading Faster than SARS” – And So It Should! by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard The first half of our title was the headline of a recent New York Times article on SARS. The second half is a risk communication lesson that most health officials and many journalists have been slow to learn. It isn’t only about SARS. Regardless of the hazard, fear is a tool, not just a problem. The purpose of fear is to motivate precautions – that is, self-protective behaviors that diminish the risk of bad outcomes. To be useful, then, the fear has to outrun the thing that is feared; fear that lags behind its object is useless. Yet somehow the public is being told that it is wrong, irrational, panicky, or hysterical to be fearful of SARS just yet. https://www.psandman.com/col/SARS-1.htm
Outrage factor From Wikipedia "Outrage factors" are the emotional factors that influence perception of risk. The risks that are considered involuntary, industrial and unfair are often given more weight than factors that are thought of as voluntary, natural and fair. Sandman gives the formula: Risk = Hazard + Outrage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outrage_factor
The New York Times: A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley By Nellie Bowles, Oct. 26, 2018 The people who are closest to a thing are often the most wary of it. Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their own children anywhere near them. A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high. The debate in Silicon Valley now is about how much exposure to phones is O.K. “Doing no screen time is almost easier than doing a little,” said Kristin Stecher, a former social computing researcher married to a Facebook engineer. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/style/phones-children-silicon-valley.html
Jane Mayer, Dark Money. The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, January 2016 In a 2010 report Greenpeace crowned Koch Industries, a company few had ever heard of at the time, the kingpin of climate science denial. The first peer reviewed academic study on the topic added further detail. Robert Brulle a Drexel University professor of sociology and environmental science discovered that between 2003 and 2010 over half a billion dollars was spent on what he described as a massive campaign to manipulate and mislead the public about the threat posed by climate change. The study examined the tax records of more than 100 non-profit organizations engaged in challenging the prevailing science on global warming. What it found was in essence a corporate lobbying campaign disguised as a tax-exempt philanthropic endeavor. Some 140 conservative foundations funded the campaign, Brulle found. During the 7 year period he studied, these foundations distributed 558 million dollars in the form of 5,299 grants to 91 different non-profit organizations. The money went to think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations, other foundations, and academic and legal programs. Cumulatively this private network waged a permanent campaign to undermine Americans' faith in climate science and to defeat any effort to regulate carbon emissions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Money_(book)
Who What Why: The Loudest Voice: Who Is GOP COVID-19 Expert Jay Bhattacharya by Walker Bragman 03/29/23 The Stanford University professor and co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) — a widely rebuked open letter recommending governments reject broad public health measures in the face of COVID-19 — was a star GOP expert witness at the February 28 hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. He and his fellow GOP experts are all members of the so-called Norfolk Group, an offshoot of the Brownstone Institute, a dark money group that has become a hub for COVID-19 misinformation. Predictably, they spent the hour-long hearing lamenting public health mandates, and claiming to be part of a “censored” opposition to the mainstream narrative. “Public health bureaucrats operated more like dictators than scientists during the pandemic, sealing themselves off from credible outside criticism,” Bhattacharya said. Bhattacharya, who is currently suing the Biden administration over its alleged role in his censorship, should be a familiar name to anyone who read the previous House reports on the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response. He is featured prominently as one of the people whose contrarian and often disastrously wrong takes helped inform one of the world’s worst responses to the pandemic. Readers may also recognize Bhattacharya for his work with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), his Wall Street Journal and Newsweek op-eds, his various speaking engagements, and his frequent Fox News appearances. https://whowhatwhy.org/politics/the-loudest-voice-who-is-gop-covid-19-expert-jay-bhattacharya/
PR WATCH Public Interest Reporting on the PR/Public Affairs Industry - Volume 6, Number 1 First Quarter 1999 Peter Sandman declined to provide a complete client list, but some of his past and present clients include: In the US: ARCO, Chemical Manufacturers Association, Ciba Geigy, Du Pont, Exxon, Intel, Union Carbide, the U.S. Department of Energy (on the Nevada nuclear waste dump), and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (on radon testing in houses and home testing for lead). Global: Shell International. Australia: Western Mining Corporation, Rio Tinto, Placer Pacific, BHP Petroleum, Pasminco, North Ltd, CSR, Energy Resources of Australia, Minerals Council of Australia, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization. NGO’S: Environmental Defense Fund. He has also worked on a range of issues including an E. coli crisis, a labor battle, forestry issues and genetic engineering, but has declined to specify the identities of specific clients on these issues. Sandman is also an advisor to SustainAbility, a British organization led by John Elkington which encourages NGOs to engage with companies embroiled in environmental and human rights controversies. SustainAbility lists among its past and present clients BHP, BP, Ciba-Geigy, Dow Europe, International Paper, Noranda Forest, Procter and Gamble, Rohm and Haas, Weyerhaeuser and NGO groups World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Resource Institute. In Australia, SustainAbility is a business partner of Ecos Corporation, the company of Paul Gilding, former Executive Director of Greenpeace International. Gilding has worked alongside Sandman for clients such as Western Mining Corporation. Past and present clients of Ecos also include chemical companies Dow and Monsanto, and mining companies Suncor and Placer Pacific. https://www.prwatch.org/files/pdfs/prwatch/prwv6n1.pdf
Sinha, G. Alex, Lies, Gaslighting and Propaganda (March 7, 2020). 68 Buffalo Law Review 1037 (2020) It is commonplace to observe that digital technologies facilitate our access to information on a scale unimaginable in previous eras, leading many to call this the “Information Age.” The vaunted advantages of unprecedented data flow obscure a dark corollary: the more modes of engaging with data are available to a people, the more modes are available for manipulating them. Whether through social media, blogs, email, newspaper headlines, or doctored images and videos, the public is indeed bombarded by information, and much of it is misleading or outright false. Much of it, in fact, is propaganda. As the methods for manipulating mass audiences continue to multiply, a clear understanding of the concept of propaganda has never been more relevant. This Article constructs a precise, novel account of propaganda, incorporating notable scholarly insights into the concept as well as the overlooked lessons of the law’s fragmented efforts to regulate it. To bring this new theoretical framework into focus and demonstrate its importance in the Information Age, the Article connects the underlying theory to contemporary communications practices, many of which are enhanced by the availability of new technology. Notably, in doing so, the Article also develops the first systematic account of political gaslighting, which properly understood (and counterintuitively, perhaps) constitutes a form of propaganda. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3550591
Politico: How many Covid deaths are acceptable? Some Biden officials tried to guess. Conversations about what Americans would tolerate didn’t go too far, underscoring the difficulty of explaining when the pandemic will end. By RACHAEL LEVY - 06/06/2022 “They don’t want to say that it’s tolerable for 200 Americans a day to die,” added one of the three people familiar with the matter, who personally discussed the number with administration officials. Still, the discussions represented at least a nascent effort to create a framework for a post-Covid world. One of the three people involved in the conversations last year said it was an effort to gauge what the American public would “tolerate.” “Five hundred a day is a lot. You still have 9/11 numbers in a week,” the person said. “People generally felt like 100 [a day] or less, or maybe 200, would be OK.” https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/06/covid-deaths-acceptable-biden-officials-00037200
Stat News: The NIH has poured $1 billion into long Covid research — with little to show for it. By Rachel Cohrs and Betsy Ladyzhets, April 20, 2023 Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said he expected the NIH would have launched many large-scale trials by now, and that testing treatments should have been an urgent priority when Congress first gave the agency money in late 2020. “I don’t know that they’ve contributed anything except more confusion,” Topol said. Patients and researchers have already raised alarms about the glacial pace of the NIH’s early long Covid efforts. But a new investigation from STAT and the nonprofit news organization MuckRock, based on interviews with nearly two dozen government officials, experts, patients, and advocates, and internal NIH correspondence, letters, and public documents, underscores that the NIH hasn’t picked up the pace — instead, the delays have compounded. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why progress is so stalled, experts and patients involved in the project emphasized, because the NIH has obscured both who is in charge of the long Covid efforts and how it spent the money. https://www.statnews.com/2023/04/20/long-covid-nih-billion/
Brookings: New data shows long Covid is keeping as many as 4 million people out of work by Katie Bach, Wednesday, August 24, 2022 On prevention, some scientists are calling for a second “Operation Warp Speed” focused on nasal vaccines that reliably prevent COVID-19 infection. Until we have such vaccines, it makes good economic sense to encourage or mandate the use of masks, air purifiers, and other interventions known to reduce spread. Even with such prevention options, people will continue to get infected, and some of them will end up with long Covid. We need knowledgeable, affordable health care providers to help them recover, or at least improve. https://www.brookings.edu/research/new-data-shows-long-covid-is-keeping-as-many-as-4-million-people-out-of-work/
Investopedia - Understanding the Consumer Confidence Index By James McWhinney, Updated April 03, 2023, Reviewed by Michael J Boyle, Fact checked by Yarilet Perez The CCI assumes when consumers are optimistic, they will spend more and stimulate the economy, but if they are pessimistic then their spending patterns could lead to a recession. https://www.investopedia.com/insights/understanding-consumer-confidence-index/
Insider - Confidence Lags the Economy, It Doesn't Predict It, by Dean Baker, CEPR, Feb 9, 2012 A NYT Economix blognote told readers that confidence about the economy is up and that this should be reinforcing leading to a stronger economy, as firms invest more and consumers spend more. The chart accompanying the note shows the opposite. The recent levels of the Gallup Economic Confidence Index are getting back or slightly exceeding the peaks hit at the end of 2010, just before the economy nearly ground to a halt, growing just 0.3 percent in the first quarter of 2011. After 6 months of very slow growth, the confidence measure cratered. It has been rising again following the stronger growth of the last two quarters. In short, this confidence measure looks like a very good lagging indicator, one that tells us where the economy was. https://www.businessinsider.com/confidence-lags-the-economy-it-doesnt-predict-it-2012-2
CEPR blog - The Myth of the “Free Market” - June 29, 2023 - by Dean Baker “Free Trade” is a Story for Children and Elite Pundits. The “free trade” deals of the last forty years had little to do with free trade. We did want to remove trade barriers on manufactured goods, in order to subject our manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world. This had the predicted effect of costing us millions of manufacturing jobs, and substantially reducing the pay of the jobs that remained. But we could have made the focus of free trade removing barriers that protected doctors, dentists, and other highly paid professionals from competition with their lower paid counterparts in the developing world. This would have had the effect of reducing jobs and pay for U.S. born professionals. For some reason, this was never a part of our “free trade” agreements. We could speculate this was because the people deciding on trade policy were far more likely to have friends and family members who are highly paid professionals than friends and family members who were autoworkers or textile workers, but that would be rude. In any case, this part of “free trade” deals was about a having a freer trade in a particular sector of the economy, where the predicted and actual effect was to drive down the pay of non-college educated workers. https://cepr.net/the-myth-of-the-free-market/
Union of Concerned Scientists - Climate Science. The science is clear: climate change is happening. We are the cause. We need to act now. Scientists have studied global warming for more than 100 years. Thousands of experts have tested hypotheses, gathered evidence, constructed models, debated results, and reviewed one another’s work. Thousands of papers are written every year, produced from nearly every leading university and research institution on Earth—from Harvard to NASA and the US Department of Defense. The consensus couldn’t be clearer. Climate change is happening. It’s caused primarily by the burning of oil, gas, and coal. If we do nothing, the world will become significantly less habitable. We’ve lost precious time, but if we act now—decisively and dramatically—we still have a chance at avoiding climate change’s most catastrophic impacts. https://www.ucsusa.org/climate/science
Carl Sagan testifying before Congress in 1985 on climate change: It is no good if just one or two major industrial nations take major steps to prevent a major increase. Still further in CO2 and other greenhouse gases because other nations may, through their industrial development, cause the problem by themselves. And not to say that this is inevitable, but just to give an example, the largest coal reserves on the planet are the United States, Soviet Union and China. China is undergoing a very major industrial development, and the burning of coal is certainly something that must be very attractive for the Chinese looking into the future. I would say that there is no way to solve this problem even if the United States and the Soviet Union were to come to a perfectly good accord on this issue without involving China and many other nations that will be developing rapidly in the time period we’re talking about. So here is a sense in which the nations who deal with this problem have to make a change from their traditional concern about themselves and not about the planet and the species—a change from the traditional short-term objectives to longer-term objectives. And we have to bear in mind that in problems like this, the initial stages of global temperature increase, one region of the planet might benefit while other regions of the planet suffer, and there has to be a kind of trading off of benefits and suffering, and that requires a degree of international amity which certainly doesn’t exist today. I think that what is essential for this problem is a global consciousness, a view that transcends our exclusive identifications with the generational and political groupings into which, by accident, we have been born. The solution to these problems requires a perspective that embraces the planet and the future because we are all in this greenhouse together. https://theanalysis.news/carl-sagan-testifying-before-congress-in-1985-on-climate-change/