|Posted on March 30, 2020 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
The Monsanto company name has become so strongly associated with being an enemy of nature that a tribunal in The Hague once called for a law making "ecocide" a crime.
Widely used Monsanto weed-killer Roundup is in the cross-hairs of a first-of-its-kind civil lawsuit in the United States, where jurors will be asked to decide whether it gave a school groundskeeper terminal cancer.
Monsanto's controversial chemical legacy came with the deal when the company was recently acquired by Germany-based Bayer for more than $62 billion.
Founded in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto early on made the artificial sweetener saccharin. The company began producing agrochemicals in the 1940s.
Monsanto was one of the companies which produced a defoliant dubbed "Agent Orange," which has been linked to cancer and other diseases, for use by US forces in Vietnam but denies responsibility for how the military used it. The company also made insecticide DDT.
After it was introduced in the United States as Roundup in the mid-1970s, the use of the glyphosate—which is sprayed on food crops but also widely used outside of agriculture, such as on public lawns and in forestry—soared across the globe.
The company began genetically modifying plants, making some resistant to Roundup.
There was a dramatic jump after the introduction in 1996 of genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" crops, such as soybean and maize, that survive glyphosate while it kills weeds.
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, produced by an array of companies since Monsanto's exclusive patent expired in the year 2000.
It is the subject of conflicting scientific studies as to whether it causes cancer.
The herbicide has been accused of damaging the environment, contributing to the disappearance of bees and being an endocrine disruptor.
The chemical has also been used as a pesticide for decades, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency website.
Bayer announced in June that it would get rid of the Monsanto company name after the merger, while brand names on products would remain.
The San Francisco trial of Roundup and its possible carcinogenic effects is the first litigation of its kind against the company to make it to trial.
In 2012, Monsanto negotiated a $93 million settlement to settle a case with the West Virginia town of Nitro, where a plant making a main Agent Orange ingredient once operated.
The municipality accused the plant of being behind health problems faced by people in the community.
A French court in 2012 found Monsanto to be liable in the case of a farmer who said he suffered neurological problems after inhaling the company's Lasso weed killer.
Monsanto has appealed the finding on points of law.
Meanwhile, Monsanto's genetically modified seeds have triggered concerns and legal challenges in Europe and the United States.
Last year, a citizen court consisting of panel of professional judges in The Hague (Netherlands) found Monsanto guilty at a mock trial of human rights violations for harm caused by chemicals.
What became referred to as the "Monsanto Tribunal," in a purely advisory opinion, called for stronger laws protecting people and the environment from corporations, and a prosecutable crime of "ecocide."
Monsanto has always denied any link between disease and glyphosate, a substance classified as carcinogenic in the US state of California.
Monsanto now employs 20,000 people around the world and generates $15 billion in annual revenue.
|Posted on March 12, 2020 at 8:25 PM||comments (1)|
As I remember reading in 2019,Japan came out with proof that washing hands with only water does far more in prevention when it comes bacteria on surfaces,pathogens,and health issue related to what travels in the air when the sick group is exhaling or inhaling virus particles.
Washing hands with soap or sanitizers scrubs away the good bacteria on our bodies that combat the viruses largely stemming around bad germs or bacteria on surfaces on global scale.
In other words avoid man made products and use only what god gave you on planet earth to combat the virus,germs,and all things bad in category of virology that make us sick.-
New research: Hand sanitizers no match for Influenza-A
A squirt of hand sanitizer may be giving you a false sense of health security.
Author: Craig Hotvedt
Published: 9:26 AM PDT September 20, 2019
Updated: 4:00 PM PDT September 21, 2019
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — So your co-worker is a coughing, sneezing mess who should have stayed home. Used tissues pile up in his trash bin. You can’t even imagine what lurks on his keyboard or phone. And he's NOT the only one.
Question is, how do you keep yourself from becoming the infected with the crud making the rounds at work?
For many, the answer is to quickly reach for the bottle of hand sanitizer. But new research out of Japan shows that bottle may be providing a false sense of security if the co-worker is infected with influenza-A, a strain of the flu.
Researchers from Kyoto Profectural University of Medicine have been testing the effectiveness of ethanol-based hand sanitizers. Their findings show it takes four minutes of rubbing ethanol-based sanitizers on your hands before the influenza-A virus is killed.
Lead researcher Ryohei Hirose, PH.D., MD, says influenza-A viruses that are coughed up by an infected person are encased in a mucus. Scientists found ethanol-based hand sanitizers need four minutes to cut through the mucus coating.
On the other hand, the research team says hand washing for at least 30 seconds, even without soap, is more effective at eliminating the spread of influenza-A virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say regular hand washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
RELATED: VERIFY: Is hand sanitizer as effective as washing your hands?
"You're scrubbing your hands, you've got running water, you're sort of breaking the little bonds that the bacteria or the virus make with your skin cells and they're just being flushed away," said Dr. Craig Hedberg with the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, as to why hand washing is so effective.
Dr. Hedberg says this study doesn't necessarily mean you have to ditch the hand sanitizer, just know that it is not a replacement for washing your hands.
"If you're in a setting where you can't wash your hands, it gives you some protection. It's an additional thing you can do to fill the gap," he said.
There is a right and wrong way to wash your hands. The CDC video on the right way can be seen on the agency website.
The Japanese study was published this week by the journal mSphere.
|Posted on March 12, 2020 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Jul; 10(7): 1333–1334.
Zygmunt F. Dembek,* Dennis G. Cochrane,† and Julie A. Pavlin
To the Editor: As public health practitioners directly involved in constructing, maintaining, and interpreting syndromic disease surveillance systems, we offer the following comments on the Buehler et al. article, "Syndromic Surveillance and Bioterrorism-related Epidemics" (1). In general, this article was well-crafted. It reviewed the potential for syndromic surveillance to detect various diseases of bioterrorism, specifically an anthrax event based on the inhalational anthrax cases of 2001. However, the reader may conclude that hospital-based syndromic surveillance is potentially ineffective and unproven.
Buehler et al. describe how, within 18 hours, a presumptive diagnosis of anthrax would prompt a full-scale response. We think that functional syndromic surveillance can respond to the rapid onset of hospital-based disease. To isolate and positively identify Bacillus anthracis from a blood culture would take ≈48 hours. Syndromic surveillance should detect a large number of cases within 24 hours. A fully functional hospital syndromic surveillance system that uses automated analysis (such as the daily emergency department–based surveillance with SaTScan in New York City) should identify a substantial increase in a relevant syndrome within 12 to 24 hours after data submission (2). A continued daily rise in any disease category would most certainly set off alarms in a syndromic surveillance network. If active statewide laboratory surveillance is included in syndromic surveillance, such as the gram-positive rod surveillance conducted in Connecticut (3), this surveillance should rapidly detect even single cases of anthrax concurrent with the presumptive diagnosis within the hospital.
The authors also state that syndromic surveillance would not detect outbreaks too small to trigger statistical alarms. The combination of active and passive surveillance in the hospital admissions–based syndromic surveillance in Connecticut allows a number of syndromes to be tracked immediately upon notification; these syndromes include pneumonia and acute respiratory disease in healthcare workers admitted to a hospital, all disease clusters, and fever with rash illness. This system is very flexible, and active surveillance of other syndromes can be quickly instituted as required. This active surveillance component has been proven useful. The first 2 of Connecticut's 17 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus during 2002 were discovered in August when a health director, who regularly monitored the syndromic admissions data for the hospital in his municipality, requested immediate West Nile virus testing from the hospital's infection-control department when he received two late summer reports of neurologic illness.
Buehler et al. state that specificity for distinguishing bioterrorism-related epidemics from more ordinary illness may be low because the early symptoms of bioterrorism-related illness overlap with those of many common infections. Illness specificity can be modulated within a syndromic surveillance system by making changes in the definition of the information requested, the method of analysis used, or by incorporating varying amounts of active surveillance into a passive reporting system. In Connecticut, annual rates of hospital admissions for pneumonia and respiratory illness have significantly increased (>3 standard deviations) during winter months. These increases have corresponded temporally with peaks in laboratory-confirmed influenza reports and in our state-based and the national sentinel physician influenzalike illness reports. Similarly, in the military-based syndromic surveillance system, respiratory outbreaks are detected by monitoring routine outpatient visits and pharmacy prescriptions. Absolute numbers of visits, as well as percentage of visits, to primary care clinics for influenzalike illness provide up-to-date information on respiratory disease conditions at military installations in both active-duty personnel and family members.
Connecticut has added additional active surveillance categories to its syndromic surveillance for potential SARS cases by gathering extensive data on all healthcare providers hospitalized with respiratory illness. In the absence of an identified pathogen, the entire United States was conducting syndromic surveillance for SARS during the spring of 2003.
What are existing alternatives to rapid, patient-based reporting through syndromic surveillance for bioterrorism and emerging illness? Will individual physicians (i.e., the "astute clinicians") truly recognize an increase of nonspecific symptoms among their patients in time to warn public health authorities of an impending bioterrorism event? During the past 4 years in the U.S. military population, unless disease was extremely severe with high rates of hospitalization, virtually no outbreaks of infectious diseases detected by syndromic surveillance were reported to public health officials, even when effective preventive measures existed. Our experience leads us to encourage states and municipalities to develop functional, patient-based syndromic surveillance systems and discover both their limitations and their possibilities.
Suggested citation for this article: Dembek ZF, Cochrane DG, Pavlin JA. Syndromic surveillance [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2004 Jul [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1007.031035
1The opinions and assertions in this article are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or as necessarily reflecting the views of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, or the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
1. Buehler JW, Berkelman RL, Hartley DM, Peters CJ. Syndromic surveillance and bioterrorism-related epidemics. Emerg Infect Dis. 2003;9:1197–204. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
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Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Jul; 10(7): 1333–1334. » Syndromic Surveillance
Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Jul; 10(7): 1333–1334.
James W. Buehler,corresponding author* Ruth L. Berkelman,* David M. Hartley,† and Clarence J. Peters‡
Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer
In reply: The thoughtful letter of Drs. Dembek, Cochrane, and Pavlin draws attention to several key themes emerging in the ongoing dialogue about the utility and role of syndromic surveillance. First, as illustrated by their work, the growing body of experience in conducting syndromic surveillance should advance this dialogue beyond the hypothetical framework described in our manuscript to a more evidence-based assessment of epidemic detection. Second, in the absence of a bioterrorism-related illness since 2001, the utility of syndromic surveillance for detecting naturally occurring events is coming into greater focus, particularly for detecting the onset of anticipated seasonal upswings in infectious diseases, including West Nile virus disease, gastrointestinal illness, and influenza.
Syndromic surveillance coupled with follow-up investigations can assist clinicians by alerting them to communitywide problems likely to be manifest among their patients. This recognition may occur at the hospital level, as reported by Dembek et al. in the initial recognition of West Nile virus disease in Connecticut in 2002, or at the community level, as illustrated by public health alerts in New York City to notify clinicians about viral gastrointestinal illness (1). Multiple studies have documented that newer syndromic surveillance systems can recognize the onset of the annual influenza season (2), but it is not clear what these systems add to existing syndrome-based systems that track "influenzalike illness" as part of a larger array of influenza-specific surveillance methods. While Dembek et al. note that syndromic surveillance has detected multiple outbreaks that would have been otherwise unrecognized, Sichel et al. observed that syndromic surveillance did not detect outbreaks recognized through more traditional means (1). This discrepancy emphasizes the need to further assess the characteristics of epidemics and surveillance systems that favor detection by using syndromic methods.
We recommend distinguishing between the increasing practice, prompted by concerns about bioterrorism, of syndromic surveillance for epidemic detection and the longstanding and common practice of using syndrome-based case definitions in public health surveillance. Such case definitions have been used in situations in which a wide net is cast to identify potential cases of a particular disease (e.g., acute flaccid paralysis as part of global efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis , liver disease associated with a new therapy for latent tuberculosis infection , and inhalational anthrax in New Jersey in 2001, after bioterrorism-related cases were clinically detected ), when resource and infrastructure constraints do not allow routine use of laboratory-based definitions (e.g., surveillance for sexually transmitted diseases in infrastructure-weak countries ), and when surveillance is initiated for a new disease of unknown origin (e.g., toxic shock syndrome , AIDS , and severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS] ). Although SARS surveillance did not represent syndromic surveillance according to this distinction, relationships between health departments and hospitals, fostered in establishing syndromic surveillance, likely facilitated SARS surveillance.
New guidelines offer an approach for evaluating syndromic surveillance systems, including what is learned from follow-up of statistical alarms and whether syndromic surveillance or other methods lead to the earliest detection of outbreaks (10). These guidelines also provide a framework for modeling exercises to test syndromic surveillance under various bioterrorism scenarios, supplementing experience gained from real-life, but typically less severe, seasonal illness or community epidemics. Eventually, this information should be useful in developing guidance for health departments seeking to determine whether and how to implement syndromic surveillance.
Suggested citation for this article: Buehler JW, Berkelman RL, Hartley DM, Peters CJ. Syndromic surveillance [response to letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2004 Jul [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1007.040125
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7. Osterholm MT, Forfang JC. Toxic-shock syndrome in Minnesota: results of an active-passive surveillance system. J Infect Dis. 1982;145:458–64. 10.1093/infdis/145.4.458 [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
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|Posted on March 10, 2020 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
(In my professional opinion when reading this article from China,the one responsible for outbreak of COVID-19 is China/France and that's sad that a country may want to go to war. But if we work together we can conquer evil in the world.
USA must stop being PC when it comes to students at Sino-French laboratory with China labs experimenting with deadly viruses like Ebola and Coronavirus that gets out of control and loose into the public atmosphere,we must hold all countries and individuals accountable globally who partaked in playing god that led to the monster getting set loose from the vials.)
- Poppen Report
China's first bio-safety level 4 lab put into operation
Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-04 19:49:18|Editor: Xiang Bo
BEIJING, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- China has opened its first bio-safety level four laboratory, capable of conducting experiments with highly pathogenic microorganisms, according to the national health authority on Thursday.
Wuhan national bio-safety level four lab of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Wuhan P4 lab) is part of Sino-French cooperation in prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases, said the Department of Health Science, Technology and Education with the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Level four is the highest bio-safety level, used for diagnostic work and research on easily transmitted pathogens which can cause fatal disease, including Ebola virus.
The Wuhan P4 lab will conduct research in anti-virus drugs and vaccines.
|Posted on March 7, 2020 at 2:15 PM||comments (1)|
Search to prevent next human pandemic
*Global Virome Project hunting for more than 1m unknown viruses
*Why bats carry diseases without getting sick, by researchers
To play good defense against the next viral pandemic, it helps to know the other team’s offense. But the 263 known viruses that circulate in humans represent less than 0.1 percent of the viruses suspected to be lurking out there that could infect people, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science.
The Global Virome Project, to be launched in 2018, aims to close that gap. The international collaboration will survey viruses harbored by birds and mammals to identify candidates that might be zoonotic, or able to jump to humans. Based on the viral diversity in two species known to host emerging human diseases — Indian flying foxes and rhesus macaques — the team estimates there are about 1.67 million unknown viruses still to be discovered in the 25 virus families surveyed. Of those, between 631,000 and 827,000 might be able to infect humans.
The $1.2 billion project aims to identify roughly 70 percent of these potential threats within the next 10 years, focusing on animals in places known to be hot spots for the emergence of human-infecting viruses. That data will be made publicly available to help scientists prepare for future virus outbreaks — or, ideally, to quash threats as they emerge.
"It is ambitious,” says Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance in New York City and a member of the Global Virome Project’s steering committee. But it’s more cost effective to head off pandemics than to deal with the aftermath, he says. “We believe we’re going to get ahead of this pandemic threat.”
Meanwhile, bats drink blood and dwell in caves, but they are perhaps most feared as vectors of disease.
While Ebola would kill a person within days, a bat could carry the virus for years without triggering any symptoms – transmitting it to humans along the way.
Now, for the first time, researchers have offered an explanation: the tiny flying mammals have the same immune pathway as humans, but it is dampened.
It means that pathogens trigger an immune response in humans that can prove fatal, but in bats their systems are tuned to such a low level that they are protected from disease but barely respond to it.
The secrets behind the vampire bats’ ability to survive on such an unusual diet – which is poor in nutrients and carries the risk of transmitting disease – has eluded scientists.
This week, researchers revealed new insight on the adaptations that opened the door to the bizarre diet, in what experts say is a ‘big evolutionary win.’
"Vampire bats have an ‘extreme’ diet, in the sense that it requires many adaptations in the organism,” lead author Lisandra Zepeda Mendoza, a biogeneticist at the University of Copenhagen, told AFP.
To better understand how these creatures are able to survive only on blood, an international team of scientists analyzed the genome of the common vampire bat along with its microbiome.
They discovered that the vampire bat’s microbiome is unlike carnivorous, insectivorous, and frugivorous bats.
Adaptations in the genome and microbiome linked with processes in metabolism and the immune system were dramatically different than the other species.
Vampire bats are equipped with a high number of protective bacteria, which produce antiviral substances to shield them from pathogens, they found.
The new study by Wuhan Institute of Virology in China is the latest in a recent slew of developments in bat research.
In 2016, scientists sequenced the bat genome for the first time, revealing that bats have the lowest number of interferons (virus-fighting proteins) of any mammal species, but that those proteins remain ‘active’ even when they aren’t diseased.
Earlier this week, Danish scientists revealed they had mapped the genome of the vampire bat to show that their unique microbiome allows them to live exclusively off blood without side effects.
Now, the Chinese team has looked at 30 bats from various sub-types to find that their STING-interferon pathway, present in all mammals, is unlike any other.
The STING (STimulator of INterferon Genes) pathway is overly heightened in humans with autoimmune diseases. It triggers an overt reaction to external elements in the body – or things the STING perceives as external elements – which cripples the sufferer.
Comparing bats with 10 other mammal types, including humans and cats and dogs, the researchers found the vilified creatures have the weakest STING of all, giving them an effective defense against disease.
"We believe there is a balance between bats and the pathogens they carry,” says senior author Peng Zhou.
"This work demonstrated that in order to maintain a balance with viruses, bats may have evolved to dampen certain pathways.”
He added: “In human history, we have been chasing infectious diseases one after another, but bats appear to be a ‘super-mammal’ to these deadly viruses.”
Zhou believes this is likely the result of the creatures evolving to be more resistant to disease, since they fly, have long lives and are exposed to many pathogens.
"Adaptation to flight likely caused positive selection of multiple bat innate immune and DNA damage repair genes,” Zhou suggested.
Source: The Guardian
|Posted on March 6, 2020 at 5:45 PM||comments (0)|
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 12, 2017
Remarks by the President and the Vice President in Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden
State Dining Room
3:50 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hey! All right, that's enough. Don't want to embarrass the guy. (Laughter.)
Welcome to the White House, everybody. As I have already delivered my farewell address, I will try to be relatively brief. But I just wanted to get some folks together to pay tribute to somebody who has not only been by my side for the duration of this amazing journey, but somebody who has devoted his entire professional life to service to this country, the best Vice President America has ever had, Mr. Joe Biden. (Applause.)
This also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our bromance. (Laughter.) This has been quite a ride. It was eight and a half years ago that I chose Joe to be my Vice President. There has not been a single moment since that time that I’ve doubted the wisdom of that decision. He was the best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people. This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service. This is somebody the people of Delaware sent to the Senate as quickly as they possibly could. (Laughter.)
Elected at age 29, for more than a dozen years apiece he served as chair or ranking member of the Judiciary and Foreign Relation Committees. Domestically, he championed landmark legislation to make our communities safer, to protect our women from violence. Internationally, his wisdom and capacity to build relationships that shaped our nation's response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, to counterterrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan.
And for the past eight years, he could not have been a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we've made. He fought to make college more affordable and revitalize American manufacturing as the head of our Middle Class Task Force. He suited up for our Cancer Moonshot, giving hope to millions of Americans touched by this disease.
He led our efforts to combat gun violence, and he rooted out any possible misappropriations that might have occurred. And as a consequence, the Recovery Act worked as well as just about any largescale stimulus project has ever worked in this country. He visited college after college -- and made friends with Lady Gaga (laughter) -- for our "It's On Us" campaign against campus sexual assault. And when the Pope visited, Joe was even kind enough to let me talk to His Holiness, as well. (Laughter.)
Behind the scenes, Joe's candid, honest counsel has made me a better President and a better Commander-in-Chief. From the Situation Room to our weekly lunches, to our huddles after everybody else has cleared out of the room, he's been unafraid to give it to me straight, even if we disagree -- in fact, especially if we disagree.
And all of this makes him, I believe, the finest Vice President we have ever seen. And I also think he has been a lion of American history. The best part is he's nowhere close to finished. In the years ahead, as a citizen, he will continue to build on that legacy, internationally and domestically. He’s got a voice of vision and reason and optimism, and a love for people. And we're going to need that spirit and that vision as we continue to try to make our world safer and to make sure that everybody has got a fair shot in this country.
So, all told, that’s a pretty remarkable legacy. An amazing career in public service. It is, as Joe once said, a big deal. (Laughter and applause.) It is.
But we all know that, on its own, his work -- this list of accomplishments, the amazing résumé -- does not capture the full measure of Joe Biden. I have not mentioned Amtrak yet or aviators. (Laughter.) Literally. (Laughter.)
Folks don't just feel like they know Joe the politician, they feel like they know the person -- what makes him laugh, what he believes, what he cares about, and where he came from. Pretty much every time he speaks, he treats us to some wisdom from the nuns who taught him in grade school -- (laughter) -- or from an old Senate colleague.
But, of course, more frequently cited -- Catherine and Joseph, Sr., his mom and dad: "No one’s better than you, but you're better than nobody." (Laughter.) "Bravery resides in every heart, and yours is fierce and clear." “And when you get knocked down, Joey, get up -- get up." (Laughter.) “Get up.” (Applause.)
That's where he got those broad shoulders. That's where he got that Biden heart. And through his life, through trial after trial, he has never once forgotten the values and the moral fiber that made him who he is. That's what steels his faith in God, and in America, and in his friends, and in all of us.
When Joe talks to autoworkers whose livelihoods he helped save, we hear the son of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his kids that he had lost his job.
When Joe talks about hope and opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so that he could be there to tuck his kids into bed.
When Joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young boy who used to stand in front of the mirror, reciting Yeats or Emerson, studying the muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter.
And when Joe talks to Gold Star families who have lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit; another father of an American veteran; somebody whose faith has been tested, and who has been forced to wander through the darkness himself, and who knows who to lean on to find the light.
So that’s Joe Biden -- a resilient, and loyal, and humble servant, and a patriot. But most of all, a family man. Starts with Jill, "Captain of the Vice Squad." (Laughter.) Only the Second Lady in our history to keep her regular day job. (Applause.) Jill says, teaching isn't what she does, it's who she is. A few days after Joe and I were inaugurated in 2009, she was back in the classroom teaching. That's why when our administration worked to strengthen community colleges, we looked to Jill to lead the way.
She's also traveled the world to boost education and empowerment for women. And as a Blue Star mom, her work with Michelle to honor our military families will go down in history as one of the most lasting and powerful efforts of this administration.
Of course, like Joe, Jill's work is only part of the story. She just seems to walk this Earth so lightly, spreads her joy so freely. And she reminds us that although we’re in a serious business, we don't have to take ourselves too seriously. She's quick with a laugh or a practical joke, disguising herself as a server at a party she once hosted -- (laughter) --to liven the mood. She once hid in the overhead compartment of Air Force 2 to scare the senior staff. (Laughter.) Because why not? She seems to have a sixth sense of when to send a note of encouragement to a friend or a staffer, a simple thank you or a box of macaroons.
She is one of the best, most genuine people that I've met not just in politics, but in my entire life. She is grounded, and caring, and generous, and funny, and that's why Joe is proud to introduce himself as "Jill Biden's husband." (Laughter.)
And to see them together is to see what real love looks like -- through thick and thin, good times and bad. It's an all-American love story. Jill once surprised Joe by painting hearts on his office windows for Valentine's Day.
And then there are these Biden kids and grandkids. They’re everywhere. (Laughter.) They’re all good-looking. (Laughter.) Hunter and Ashley, who lived out that family creed of raising good families and looking out for the least of our brothers and sisters. Beau, who is watching over us with those broad shoulders and mighty heart himself -- a man who left a beautiful legacy and inspired an entire nation. Naomi, and Finn, and Maisy, and Natalie, and little Hunter -- grandchildren who are the light of Joe's eyes, and gives him an excuse to bust out the squirt gun around the pool. (Laughter.) This is the kind of family that built this country.
That's why my family is so proud to call ourselves honorary Bidens. (Laughter.) As Yeats put it -- because I had to quote an Irish poet, and Seamus Heaney was taken -- (laughter) -- "Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”
Away from the camera, Jill and Michelle have each other’s backs just as much as when they're out championing our troops. Our girls are close, best friends at school, inviting each other for vacations and sleepovers. Even though our terms are nearly over, one of the greatest gifts of these past eight years is that we're forever bonded as a family.
But, of course, I know that the Obamas are not the only ones who feel like they're part of the Biden clan because Joe’s heart has radiated around this room. You see it in the enduring friendships he’s forged with folks of every stripe and background up on Capitol Hill. You see it in the way that his eyes light up when he finds somebody in a rope line from Scranton. (Laughter.) Or just the tiniest towns in Delaware. (Laughter.) You see it in the incredible loyalty of his staff, the team who knows that family always comes before work because Joe tells them so every day, the team that reflects their boss’s humble service. Here in this building where there have been no turf wars between our staffs because everybody here has understood that we were all on the same mission and shared the same values, there has just been cooperation and camaraderie. And that is rare. It’s a testament to Joe and the tone that he’s set.
And finally, you see Joe’s heart in the way he consoles families, dealing with cancer, backstage after an event; when he meets kids fighting through a stutter of their own, he gives them his private phone number and keeps in touch with them long after. To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully.
As one of his long-time colleagues in the Senate, who happened to be a Republican, once said, “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you got a problem. He's as good a man as God ever created.”
So, Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country, and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I’d like to ask the military aide to join us on stage.
For the final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Applause.)
And for the first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my three most recent successors reserved for only three others: Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, and General Colin Powell.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.
Will the aide please read the citation.
MILITARY AIDE: Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. In a career of public service spanning nearly half a century, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has left his mark on almost every part of our nation, fighting for a stronger middle class, a fairer judicial system and a smarter foreign policy; providing unyielding support for our troops; combatting crime and violence against women; leading our quest to cure cancer; and safeguarding the landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from corruption.
With his charm, candor, unabashed optimism, and deep and abiding patriotism, Joe Biden has garnered the respect and esteem of colleagues of both parties, and the friendship of people across the nation and around the world. While summoning the strength, faith and grace to overcome great personal tragedy, this son of Scranton, Claymont, and Wilmington has become one of the most consequential Vice Presidents in American history, an accolade that nonetheless rests firmly behind his legacy as husband, father, and grandfather.
A grateful nation thanks Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. for his lifetime of service on behalf of the United States of America.
(The Medal of Freedom is presented.) (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President. (Applause.) Please, please, thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Please. Thank you.
Ricchetti, you're fired. (Laughter.) For the press, Ricchetti is my chief of staff. (Laughter.)
I had no inkling. I thought we were coming over, Michelle, to -- for you, Jill, and Barack and I and a couple of senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.
Mr. President, you got right the part about my leaning on Jill. But I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room. I look around the room, and I see great friends like Ted Kaufman, who has been -- has so much wisdom. Guys like Mel Monzack. I look around here and I’m startled. I keep seeing people I don't expect. Madam President, how are you? Mr. President, look at my new boss over there. (Laughter.)
But you know, I get a lot of credit I don't deserve, to state the obvious and -- because I’ve always had somebody to lean on. From back that time in 1972, when the accident happened, I leaned on -- and I mean this in literal sense; Chris knows this -- Dodd knows this, and Mel knows this, and Ted knows this -- I leaned on my sons Beau and Hunter. And I continue to lean on Hunter who continues to in a bizarre kind of way raise me. I mean I’ve leaned on them.
And, Mr. President, you observed early on that when either one of my boys would walk in the room, they’d walk up and say, Dad, what can I get you? Dad, what do you need?
And then Jill came along, and she saved our lives. She -- no man deserves one great love, let alone two. And -- but everybody knows here, I am Jill’s husband. Everybody knows that I love her more than she loves me. (Laughter.) With good reason. (Laughter.) And she gave me the most precious gift, the love of my life, the life of my love, my daughter, Ashley.
And I continue to lean on the family. Mr. President, you kidded me once. You heard that the preparation for the two debates -- vice presidential debates that I had -- I only had two that Beau and Hunt would be the last people in the room. And Beau would say, look at me, Dad. Look at me. Remember, remember home base. Remember.
And the Secret Service can tell you, Mr. President, that Beau and Hunt and Ashley continue to have to corral me. We were at one of the national parks, and I was climbing up on top of a bridge to jump off the bridge with a bunch of young kids. And I hear my sons yelling, Dad, get down. Now! (Laughter.) And I just started laughing so hard I couldn’t stop. And I said, I was just going to do a flip -- a full gainer off here.
He said, Dad, the Secret Service doesn't want you up there. Dad. Look at me, Dad. (Laughter.)
So we've never figured out who the father is in this family. (Laughter.)
And, Mr. President, you know that with good reason there is no power in the vice presidency. Matter of fact I just did for Nancy Pelosi’s daughter a reading of the Constitution. You probably did one for her. And they had me read the provisions relating to the vice presidency in the Constitution. And there is no inherent power, nor should there be.
But, Mr. President, you have more than kept your commitment to me by saying that you wanted me to help govern. The President’s line often -- other people don't hear it that often, but when someone would say, can you get Joe to do such and such. He says, I don't do his schedule. He doesn't do mine.
Every single thing you've asked me to do, Mr. President, you have trusted me to do. And that is -- that's a remarkable thing. I don't think according to -- I see the President of Georgetown here, as well. I don't think according to the presidential, vice presidential scholars that kind of relationship has existed. I mean, for real. It’s all you, Mr. President. It’s all you.
The reason why when you send me around the world, nothing gets -- as my mom would say, gets missed between the cup and the lip, it’s because they know when I speak, I speak for you.
And it’s been easy, Mr. President, because we not only have the same political philosophy and ideology, I tell everybody -- and I’ve told them from the beginning. And I’m not saying this to reciprocate. I’ve never known a President and few people I’ve ever met my whole life -- I can count on less than one hand -- who have had the integrity and the decency and the sense of other people’s needs like you do.
I know you were upset when I told the story about when Hunt and I were worried that Beau would have to -- that he would, as a matter of honor, decide he had to step down as attorney general while he was fighting his battle because he had aphasia. He was losing his ability to speak, and he didn't want to ever be in a position where to him everything was about duty and honor.
And I said, and he may resign. I don't know I just have the feeling he may. And Hunt and I had talked about this. And I said, he doesn't have any other income, but we're all right because Hunt’s there, and I can sell the house.
We were having a private lunch like we do once a week. And this man got up, came over, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, don't you sell that house. You love that house.
I said, it’s no big deal, Mr. President. He said, I’ll give you the money. We’ll give you the money. Promise me, promise me you won’t sell that house.
I remember when Ashley, Mr. President, we were in the Oval, and Ashley was in an elevator, and the elevator plummeted to the -- she was with a group of people -- I forget which building in Philadelphia, and it plummeted to the ground. And immediately the Service was worried that she may have been badly hurt. And I got up to take the call, and you didn't let up until you made sure your service followed through and made sure everything was all right.
But you know, Mr. President, we kid about both about marrying up. We both did, that kind of thing. But the truth of the matter is -- I said this to Michelle last night. Michelle is the finest First Lady in my view that has ever served in the office. There’s been other great First Ladies, but I really genuinely mean it. (Applause.)
When I got to meet Michelle’s brother, and he told me about how you guys were raised, and I got to know and love your mom, if your mom -- were your mom 15 years older, she could have been my mom. Literally, the way you were raised, the way we were raised, there wasn’t any difference. And I knew that this decision to join you, which was the greatest honor of my life, was the right decision on the night we had to go and accept the nomination, the formal -- we’d be nominated at the convention. And Finnegan, who is now 18 years old, was then 10 years old. And she came to me, and she said, Pop, is it okay if the room that we're in -- Finnegan, Maisy, and Naomi -- that we have the beds taken out. And I said, why? She said, maybe the Obama girls and your brothers’ children, maybe they would come down, all sleep together in sleeping bags. (Laughter.) And I give you my word as a Biden, I knew when I left to go to the convention, open that door, and saw them cuddled together, I knew this was the right decision. I knew it was the right decision. I really did. Because, Mr. President, the same values set -- the same values set.
Folks, you know, I joke with my staff that I don't know why they pay them anything, because they get to advise me. (Laughter.) Let me explain what I mean by that. As the President of the University of Delaware, where my heart resides, and my home campus of Delaware, as he can tell you, it's -- I get to give you advice. I get to be the last guy in the room and give you advice on the most difficult decisions anyone has to make in the whole world. But I get to walk out, and you make it all by yourself. All by yourself.
Harry Truman was right about the buck stopping at the desk. And I've never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never once doubted, on these life and death decisions, I never once doubted that your judgement was flawed -- not once. Not once.
And we've disagreed, and we've argued, and we've raised our voices, one of which we made a deal we'd be completely open like brothers with one another. But, Mr. President, I watched you under intense fire. I will venture to say that no President in history has had as many novel crises land on his desk in all of history. The Civil War was worse, the World War Two was worse, but, Mr. President, almost every one of the crises you faced was a case of first instance -- a case of first instance. And I watched that prodigious mind and that heart as big as your head -- I've watched you. I've watched how you've acted.
When you see a woman or man under intense pressure, you get a measure -- and you know that, Michelle, and your daughters know it, as well. This is a remarkable man. And I just hope that the asterisk in history that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country. (Applause.)
You know, I can't let a comment go by without quoting an Irish poet. (Laughter.) Jill and I talk about why you were able to develop the way you developed and with the heart you have. Michelle and I have talked about it. I've confided in Michelle, I've gone to her for advice. We've talked about this man. You give me insight. And I think it's because -- Mr. President, you gave me credit for having understanding other people's misery and suffering. Mr. President, there is not one single, solitary ounce of entitlement in you, or Michelle, or your beautiful daughters -- and you girls are incredible, you really are. That’s not hyperbole, you really are. Not one ounce of entitlement.
And Seamus Heaney in one of his poems said -- (laughter) -- when you can find someone who says it better, use it. He said, you carried your own burden and very soon, your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared. You carried your own burdens, and very soon, the creeping symptoms of privilege disappeared.
Mr. President, you have sometimes been like a lone wolf, but you carried yourself in a way that’s pretty remarkable. The history of the journey -- your journey -- is something people are going to write about a long time, and I’m not being solicitous when I say this. And you’re so fortunate, both of you, to have found each other because all that grounding, all that you have, made this guy totally whole. And it’s pretty amazing.
Mr. President, this honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it’s a reflection on the extent and generosity of your spirit. I don’t deserve this, but I know it came from the President’s heart. There is a Talmudic saying that says, what comes from the heart, enters the heart. Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart -- you and your whole family, including Mom -- and you occupy it. It’s an amazing thing that happened. I knew how smart you were. I knew how honorable you were. I knew how decent you were from the couple years we worked in the Senate, and I knew what you were capable of. But I never fully expected that you’d occupy the Bidens’ heart, from Hunter, to Ashley, my sister, all of us. All of us.
And Mr. President, I’m indebted to you. I’m indebted to your friendship, I’m indebted to your family, and as I’ll tell you -- I’ll end on a humorous note. We’re having a lunch -- lunches, and mostly it’s what’s ever in either one of our minds. We’ll talk about family an awful lot. And about six months in, President looks at me, he said, you know, Joe, you know what surprised me? How we’ve become such good friends. (Laughter.) And I said, surprised you? (Laughter.)
But that is candid Obama, and it’s real, and, Mr. President, you know as long as there’s a breath in me, I’ll be there for you, my whole family will be, and I know, I know it is reciprocal. And I want to thank you all so very, very, very much. All of you in here. (Applause.)
4:27 P.M. EST
|Posted on October 27, 2019 at 5:25 PM||comments (4)|
Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and his threats hold a lot of sway
Information Liberation - NOVEMBER 19, 2018
Democrat Senator Mark Warner on CNBC Friday lambasted Google for not doing enough to censor YouTube, which he said is a hotbed for “radicalization,” but offered praise to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for being “aggressive in moving to work with us.”
Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and his threats hold a lot of sway.
From the Free Beacon:
Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) on Friday criticized tech companies for providing a platform for radicalization and foreign interference.
The social media network Facebook has come under scrutiny recently for how, according to multiple reports, it failed to address Russian interference in the 2016 election. Asked about whether Facebook’s issues overshadowed other tech companies’, Warner said the worst problems stem from Google and its subsidiary YouTube.
The real disappointing company, as well, has been Google,” he said. “Google didn’t even send a senior leadership person to our committee.”
“As more and more evidence comes out that the real place where fake accounts are manipulating, where a lot of the foreign activity–not just Russian, but Chinese, Iranian and others–have headed is on the YouTube platform, where more radicalization goes on than, frankly, on Facebook,” he added.
Though he wouldn’t let Twitter off the hook, Warner said he gives Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey “credit” because “he’s in recent months been more aggressive in moving to work with us on policy solutions.”
As I reported earlier this month, just days before the midterms Jack Dorsey banned some 10,000 accounts at the request of the partisan Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
A report in The New York Times last week said that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — whose daughter Alison works at Facebook — told Warner to “back off” of Facebook:
Back off, [Schumer] told Mr. Warner, according to a Facebook employee briefed on Mr. Schumer’s intervention. Mr. Warner should be looking for ways to work with Facebook, Mr. Schumer advised, not harm it. Facebook lobbyists were kept abreast of Mr. Schumer’s efforts to protect the company, according to the employee.
Earlier this year, Democrat Chris Murphy reacted to Big Tech’s coordinated banning of Infowars by demanding more censorship across the board, insisting “the survival of our democracy depends on it.”
|Posted on October 27, 2019 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
Minority Report reality: London Police test Precrime software
Chris Burns - Oct 30, 2014,
A 20-week study in London just completed this week utilized predictive software to spot potential gang-related crimes before they happen. Using software developed by Accenture, this project targeted individuals across all known gangs in each of London’s 32 boroughs. “Our goal,” said James Slessor, Managing Director of Accenture’s policing and public safety business, “was to provide MPS with an unprecedented level of insight and intelligence to help them continue to reduce gang-related crimes in the city.” With analytics information in hand, the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was able to assess the likelihood of known individuals re-offending.
This system is delivered through Accenture Analytics, this part of Accenture Digital, and made use of data from various crime reporting and criminal intelligence systems used by the MPS. This data was analyzed and used to predict future crime. Risk scores were generated for known previously-offending individuals for committing violent crimes in the future.
Speaking with the BBC on the program, Accenture head of public safety analytics Muz Janoowalla suggested that “You’ve got limited police resources and you need to target them efficiently.”
Sarah Samee, a spokeswoman for the Met’s Trident Gang Crime Command spoke up on the subject as well.
“It’s previous offending and various different sources that are used for intelligence, in terms of who they are involved with and who they associate with,” said Samee. “For example if an individual had posted inflammatory material on the internet and it was known about to the Met – one gang might say something about another gang member’s partner or something like that – it would be recorded in the Met’s intelligence system.”
Accenture has worked on similar programs with police units in Singapore and Spain. Analytics tools used to identify potential hotspots in known offending groups.
So while this is a bit of a radical move by the Metropolitan Police Service in London, it’s not exactly Precrime as Philip K Dick suggested it would be. This is not Minority Report, it’s only really a bunch of analytics applied intelligently.
|Posted on October 27, 2019 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
While visiting Turkey this week, President Barack Hussain Obama, the multicultural Superman for the globalised world, proclaimed: "The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans," despite a recent ABC/Washington Post poll showing 48% of Americans hold an unfavourable opinion of Islam, the highest unfavourablity rating since 2001.
With his inaugural world tour, President Obama's rhetoric hopes to repair and rebuild diplomatic bridges with Muslim countries recklessly abandoned by George Bush's aggressive, Yosemite Sam foreign policy – one which resulted in heightened animosity, mutual mistrust, and civilian causalities written off as collateral damage. However, perhaps the frayed relationship with Muslim citizens at home in the US should also be considered.
After avoiding Muslim American organizations, mosques and high profile leaders like the plague during his campaign, Obama now embraces them under his United Colours of Benetton tent by stating: "Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country. I know, because I am one of them."
|Posted on May 22, 2019 at 11:40 AM||comments (5)|
India’s Digi Yatra biometric flight boarding set to launch
Feb 22, 2019 | Chris Burt
Air travel passengers in India are about to be able to board flights using facial recognition instead of physical documents as the Digi Yatra initiative is ready to go live at the end of February in select airports, according to The Hindu Business Online.
SITA is in talks to provide its Smart Path biometric technology for Digi Yatra to several airlines and airports in India, the Business Online reports. Smart Path integrates with government systems and databases for passenger authentication, making it appropriate for linking Digi Yatra to Aadhaar, and both Orlando and Miami airports have plans to extend Smart Path to other airlines in the near future, according to SITA’s Vice President for the Indian Subcontinent, Eastern and Southern Africa, Maneesh Jaikrishna.
“Leveraging India’s national Aadhaar biometric identity system with our proven common-use and Smart Path technology, SITA will be able to deliver a seamless biometric experience across all airlines and airports,” Jaikrishna says.
Digi Yatra, which was previously expected to launch in April of this year, will be available at Bengaluru ad Hyderabad airports, while the government-run Varanasi, Pune, Kolkata and Vijayawada airports have previously been reported to be among those participating in the initial roll-out.
The Airports Authority of India recently announced plans to deploy biometric kiosks to busy areas to make Digi Yatra enrollment and identity verification convenient for travelers.