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How Zuckerberg Spent Millions To Get Leftist Hands On The 2020 Elections

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This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations on May 26, 2021.

In the months leading up to November’s election, voting officials in major cities and counties worked with a progressive group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and its allies to create ballots, strategically target voters, and develop “cure” letters in situations where mail-in ballots were in danger of being tossed out.

The Center for Tech and Civic Life, or CTCL, provided millions of dollars in private funding for the elections that came from a $350 million donation from Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The CTCL gave “COVID-19 response” grants of varying amounts to 2,500 municipalities in 49 states.

In exchange for the money, elections divisions agreed to conduct their elections according to conditions set out by the CTCL, which is led by former members of the New Organizing Institute, a training center for progressive groups and Democratic campaigns.

A CTCL partner, the Center for Civic Design, helped design absentee ballot forms and instructions, crafted voter registration letters for felons, and tested automatic voter registration systems in several states, working alongside progressive activist groups in Michigan and directly with elections offices in Georgia and Utah.

Still other groups with a progressive leaning, including the Main Street Alliance, The Elections Group, and the National Vote at Home Institute, provided support for some elections offices.

Facebook, with the CTCL, was also part of the effort, providing a guide and webinar for election officials on how to engage voters. Included were directions to report “voter interference” to Facebook authorities. The company also provided designated employees in six regions of the U.S. to handle questions. Together, the groups strategically targeted voters and waged a voter assistance campaign aimed at low-income and minority residents who typically shun election participation, helping Democratic candidates win key spots all over the U.S.

The little-explored roles of CTCL and other such groups emerged in emails and other records obtained by RealClearInvestigations and public documents secured by conservative litigants and groups, including the Foundation for Government Accountability, which has filed more than 800 public records requests with elections offices accepting the grants.

Previously, the Zuckerberg-funded effort has been described in generally positive terms, notably when NPR reported in December on “How Private Money From Facebook’s CEO Saved The 2020 Election” — in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump’s doubts about the legitimacy of the process, and “Congress’ neglect.”

Conservatives take a more critical view of the effort. “This private funding has never been done before,” said Hayden Dublois, a researcher at the Foundation of Government Accountability. “We hear about dark money and corporations buying ads, but never have we seen hundreds of millions of private dollars going into the conducting of elections. And states didn’t have any laws on the books to stop it.”

Numerous Trump supporters contend that the 2020 presidential election was rigged or even stolen but have produced little concrete evidence to prove it. But their suspicions aren’t likely to be dispelled by the efforts of the private progressive groups, however legal.

They are among other notable instances of monied interests underwriting public governance and affairs for political ends. In 2018, RCI reported that a New York University School of Law program funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg had placed environmentally minded lawyers in the offices of Democratic state attorneys general to challenge Trump administration policies. And examples of private efforts to steer cash-strapped public education are numerous, from the Koch charities on the right to more recent race-conscious programs on the left emphasizing the legacy and centrality of white racism in society.

Zuckerberg did not respond to an emailed request from RCI for comment. In a post-election interview, he praised Facebook’s security work during the election and singled out its policing of “misinformation.” He noted working with polling officials to watch for information that might lead to “voter suppression” and said Facebook had strengthened its enforcement “against militias and conspiracy networks like Q-Anon.”

Facebook has banned Trump from its platform and has delisted individuals — many of them conservatives — for espousing views about the election that it insists are “misinformation.”

‘Curing Absentee Ballots’

According to court documents filed by the Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm, the Zuckerberg-funded CTCL allowed elections departments to use grant money to buy vehicles to transport “voter navigators.” The group filed unsuccessful lawsuits in several states before the election, contending the private funding created unconstitutional public-private partnerships. Several other suits remain active.

The election department in Green Bay, Wisconsin, promised as part of its CTCL grant of $1 million that it would employ the vote navigators to “assist voters, potentially at their front doors, to answer questions … and witnessing absentee ballot signatures,” according to documents filed in legal complaints in Wisconsin by Erick Kaardal, a Minneapolis-based lawyer who has worked on the Thomas More Society lawsuits.

Caleb Jeffreys, one of at least two voter navigators in Green Bay, described his duties as including “curing absentee ballots.” Jeffreys, now a city employee in Green Bay according to his LinkedIn profile, did not respond to an interview request.

Tiana Epps-Johnson, founder of CTCL; Whitney May, director of government services for CTCL; and Hillary Hall, senior adviser to state and local election officials for the National Vote at Home Institute, did not respond to interview requests.

Navigators in Green Bay were also part of voter registration efforts, emails show. They worked closely with a local nonprofit group, which requested that public employees work voter registration events. At least two city employees attended with equipment to conduct voter registration and help people apply for an absentee ballot.

Agents from CTCL trained poll workers in Georgia and paid for other individuals to count and tabulate ballots in Wisconsin, which was won by President Trump in 2016 and President Biden won in November by 20,000 votes.

Emails show that Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, a fellow with the National Vote at Home Institute, directed Green Bay city employees in gathering and counting absentee ballots on Election Day, and that he was granted access by the city to secured areas and served as an on-site contact for the department on election night.

Rubenstein, who did not respond to a call seeking an interview, also provided help in “curing” ballots that were turned in without the appropriate information, including a signature or address.

Dozens of states require voting clerks to inform voters if their ballot has been filled out incorrectly, giving the voter a chance to fix the ballot and have it accepted. In Wisconsin, that practice is encouraged but not mandatory, under the reasoning that it can drain manpower from other tasks.

But with the grant money provided by CTCL, additional manpower made the time-consuming task feasible, freeing up money for more voter recruitment and outreach.

In Lansing, Michigan, the elections department used its $443,000 grant to buy more absentee ballot drop boxes and mail absentee ballot applications to every registered voter.

In Georgia, the grants were used to expand curbside voting and conduct “the necessary voter outreach … to promote absentee voting and encourage higher percentages of our electors to vote absentee,” according to a grant application.

Documents inspected by RealClearInvestigations also showed:

  • In Lowndes County, Georgia, CTCL grant money was used to pay $15,000 in attorney fees through June. A county elections official told RCI that the money was paid to lawyers handling public records requests stemming from the elections, a process that she expects will last into the summer.
  • CTCL was “very lenient regarding what we could spend the money on,” Deb Cox, Lowndes County elections supervisor, said. “They put virtually no restrictions on it as long as it relates to the election.”
  • Mahoning County, Ohio, spent $3,500 on a student to monitor Twitter and Facebook and “report any bad actors that may want to disrupt our operations,” one local official stated in its grant report. Grant money was also spent to produce a training video for elections workers.
  • Election officials in Lorain County, Ohio, paid an $8,100 Verizon bill and spent $24,000 on a van at a local car dealership. The van was used to transport equipment between a warehouse and the elections department, an elections official told RCI.
  • In Boone County, Missouri, the elections department used $3,000 of the COVID grant to make a rap video and buy radio spots. “We did a rap video to appeal to younger, first-time voters,” Brianna Lennon, Boone County clerk, said. “We wanted to keep it popular in a format that would have the most appeal to young voters. “

Elections departments received millions of extra dollars in federal aid in 2020, including $400 million in CARES Act funding and $425 million in federal Help America Vote Act grants.

Despite the influx of public money, elections departments across the U.S. were hamstrung because of the pandemic, said Ben Hovland, a Trump appointee to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which administers grants to the states. Hovland praised the CTCL for providing the money to run elections.

“This was a very unique set of circumstances, and what you heard from election officials was that this [private] money was going for the basics of trying to help people vote, keeping people safe, postage — really the basics,” Hovland said.

He was unaware of the spending on rap videos, trucks, lawyers, vote navigators, and phone bills with the private money.

“That runs contradictory to what I’ve heard from most election officials,” he said. “But every jurisdiction runs their election different, and each has its own way to spend money, so I can’t speak to any of that. It wasn’t federal funds. It wasn’t taxpayer money.”

As to the need for the money, not all jurisdictions that received a CTCL grant used it. The elections office in Miami-Dade County, Florida, received $2.4 million from CTCL, but did not spend it immediately, instead receiving a six-month extension to use the money. Several other municipalities did not spend the entirety of their grants and have received extensions.

Boosting Democratic Turnout

Vote margins in many of the areas receiving CTCL funding showed increased Democratic voter turnout, part of a strategy to boost the margins enough in Democrat-friendly areas to overcome Republican margins.

President Trump took the reliably Republican state of Missouri in 2020, but President Biden increased the Democratic presidential vote and won Boone County by 7,000 votes. Hillary Clinton had a 5,000-vote margin in 2016.

In Webb County, Texas, which received $2.8 million from CTCL, voter registrations increased by 10,000 over 2016. The new recruits in the South Texas county voted for President Biden by a two-to-one margin.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, which received $1.4 million in CTCL funding, Democrats increased voter turnout by 65,458 compared with a 10,564 increase by Republicans in 2020 versus 2016. The state, which trends Democratic, went to Biden.

While seven states have passed legislation this year prohibiting or limiting elections departments from accepting private funding, far more allow it and “it will certainly continue,” said Kaardal, the Minneapolis-based lawyer.

Kaardal contends the plan by these operatives, working in league with some election officials, was to increase the absentee ballot turnout among demographic groups that favored their candidates and to offset the margins by Republicans, typically in areas outside cities.

“It was a pay-to-play scheme, where in exchange for taking this money, the CTCL gets to tell them how to run the election,” he said. “And it will happen again in 2022.”

In Texas, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III, an Obama appointee, ruled in favor of the private funding with a stance that was typical among the judiciary in various federal districts and states.

“Ultimately, plaintiffs complain that people with different political views will lawfully exercise their fundamental right to vote,” Mazzant ruled. “That is not a harm. That is democracy.”

It’s a democracy embraced by elections officials across the U.S. who called the 2020 elections the most secure ever.

Paul Adams, elections supervisor in Ohio’s Lorain County, is eager to accept more private grant money after his department received $435,000 for the fall election.

“If anything like this came along in the future, I would certainly apply,” Adams said. He’s convinced the CTCL is a nonpartisan group trying to make voting safe and easy, and can’t understand why some states are trying to halt private money in public elections.

“I don’t think it’s the grants these people are mad about,” Adams said. “It’s more a matter of where they came from.”


Source: The Federalist

Iran Says IAEA Access to Nuclear Sites Images Has Ended, Extension Possible

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A three-month monitoring deal between Tehran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog expired on Saturday, Iran’s parliament speaker told the country’s state TV on Sunday, adding that access to images of nuclear sites would cease.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, is to hold a news conference on Sunday afternoon. He is in talks with Iran on extending the monitoring arrangement which could have an impact on negotiations between Tehran and six powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, the IAEA said.

“From May 22 and with the end of the three-month agreement, the agency will have no access to data collected by cameras inside the nuclear facilities agreed under the agreement,” state TV quoted Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf as saying.

Iran’s state TV also quoted an unnamed official saying that the agreement between the agency and Tehran could be extended “conditionally” for a month.

“If extended for a month and if during this period major powers … accept Iran’s legal demands, then the data will be handed over to the agency. Otherwise the images will be deleted forever,” according to the member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

Western diplomats have warned that not extending the IAEA deal could seriously harm efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord, which aims to keep Iran from being able to make nuclear arms, which Tehran says it has never wanted to build.

Iran and global powers have held several rounds of negotiations since April in Vienna, working on steps that Tehran and Washington must take, on sanctions and nuclear activities, to return to full compliance with the nuclear pact.

Iran began gradually breaching terms of the 2015 pact with world powers after former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions.

Without commenting on the parliament speaker’s earlier announcement, Iran’s pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Tehran will continue the talks in Vienna “until reaching a final agreement.” He also repeated his statement earlier this week that “Washington has agreed to lift sanctions” on Iran, according to Iranian state media.

However, other parties to the talks and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said earlier this week that some key issues needed further discussions for revival of the nuclear deal.

To pressure President Joe Biden’s administration to return to the nuclear pact and lift sanctions, Iran’s hardline-dominated parliament passed a law last year to end its obligation to allow the IAEA short-notice inspections to check nuclear work is not being covertly put to military ends.

To give diplomacy a chance, the watchdog and Iran agreed in February to keep “necessary” IAEA monitoring and verification activities in the Islamic Republic, although Tehran would reduce cooperation with the agency.

Qalibaf told parliament’s open session, aired by state TV, that Iran’s ultimate authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, backed the law.

“Yesterday it was discussed and the decision was made. The law passed by the parliament will be implemented. The supreme leader has underlined the importance of implementing the law as well,” Qalibaf said.


Source: Newmax

Growing Mystery of Suspected Energy Attacks Draws US Concern

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The Biden administration is facing new pressure to resolve a mystery that has vexed its predecessors: Is an adversary using a microwave or radio wave weapon to attack the brains of U.S. diplomats, spies and military personnel?

The number of reported cases of possible attack is sharply growing and lawmakers from both parties, as well as those believed to be affected, are demanding answers. But scientists and government officials aren’t yet certain about who might have been behind any attacks, if the symptoms could have been caused inadvertently by surveillance equipment — or if the incidents were actually attacks.

Whatever an official review concludes could have enormous consequences. Confirmation that a U.S. adversary has been conducting damaging attacks against U.S. personnel would unleash calls for a forceful response by the United States.

For now, the administration is providing assurances that it takes the matter seriously, is investigating aggressively and will make sure those affected have good medical care.

The problem has been labeled the “Havana Syndrome,” because the first cases affected personnel in 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. At least 130 cases across the government are now under investigation, up from several dozen last year, according to a U.S. defense official who was not authorized to discuss details publicly. The National Security Council is leading the investigation.

People who are believed to have been affected have reported headaches, dizziness and symptoms consistent with concussions, with some requiring months of medical treatment. Some have reported hearing a loud noise before the sudden onset of symptoms.

Particularly alarming are revelations of at least two possible incidents in the Washington area, including one case near the White House in November in which an official reported dizziness.

The new higher number of possible cases was first reported by The New York Times. CNN first reported the case near the White House and an additional incident in November.

Advocates for those affected accuse the U.S. government of long failing to take the problem seriously or provide the necessary medical care and benefits.

“The government has a much better understanding of it than it has let on,” said Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who represents several people affected. Zaid has obtained National Security Agency documents noting it has information dating to the late 1990s about an unidentified “hostile country” possibly having a microwave weapon “to weaken, intimidate, or kill an enemy over time.”

Chris Miller, the acting defense secretary during the last months of the Trump administration, created a Pentagon team to investigate the suspected attacks. That was after he met a soldier late last year who described how, while serving in a country Miller wouldn’t identify, he had heard a “shrieking” sound and then had a splitting headache.

“He was well-trained, extremely well-trained, and he’d been in combat before,” Miller told The Associated Press. “This is an American, a member of the Department of Defense. At that point, you can’t ignore that.”

Defense and intelligence officials have publicly promised to push for answers and better care for people with symptoms. Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Defense Department spokesman, said the causes of any incidents “are areas of active inquiry.” Officials have not identified a suspected country, though some people affected suspect Russian involvement.

CIA Director William Burns testified before Congress that he would make the investigation “a very high priority to ensure that my colleagues get the care that they deserve and that we get to the bottom of what caused these incidents and who was responsible.”

Burns receives daily updates on the investigation, which covers employees who have reported cases this year. He has met with those reporting injuries as have other top CIA officials. The agency has worked to reduce the wait time for its employees to receive outpatient treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The CIA also replaced its chief medical officer with a doctor seen internally as more sympathetic to possible cases.

“We were treated so awfully in the past,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a 26-year CIA veteran who was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury following a 2017 visit to Russia. “Now they’re putting people in place who not only believe us but are going to advocate for our health care.”

One key analysis identified “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy” as the most plausible culprit. Published in December by the National Academy of Sciences, the report said a radio frequency attack could alter brain function without causing “gross structural damage.” But the panel could not make a definitive finding on how U.S. personnel may have been hit.

And a declassified 2018 State Department report cited “a lack of senior leadership, ineffective communications, and systemic disorganization” in responding to the Havana cases. The report says the cause of the injuries was “currently unknown.” The document was published by George Washington University’s National Security Archive.

The report also noted that the CIA ultimately closed its Havana station, a victory for a potential adversary.

Dr. James Giordano, a neurology professor at Georgetown University, consulted with the State Department on the Havana cases and has been briefed on more recent incidents in the U.S. and abroad. In reviewing records of people affected in Havana, Giordano noted evidence of neurological injuries in several people, suggesting they may have been hit with radio waves.

He identified two possible culprits: a device intentionally used to target potential victims or a tool that used directed energy waves to conduct surveillance that may have unintentionally harmed the people targeted. One of the November attacks outside the White House had “substantial similarities” to the Havana cases, Giordano said, adding that he was not authorized by the government to be more specific.

“It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to fake or misrepresent certain findings to objective clinical evaluations,” Giordano said. “I mean, there are certain things you can’t make your nerves do or not do.”

Other scientists remain skeptical. Dr. Robert Baloh of the University of California, Los Angeles, argued that scans of healthy people’s brains sometimes display mini-strokes and that any possible weapon would be too large or require too much power to be deployed without detection.

Baloh said the growing number of cases considered directed energy attacks is actually linked to “mass psychogenic illness,” in which people learning of others with symptoms begin to feel sick themselves.

“Many people are hearing about it and that’s how it gets propagated,” Baloh said.

Lawmakers from both parties are pushing the Biden administration to take this seriously. A bill introduced in both the House and Senate on Wednesday would bolster the payment of disability benefits for traumatic brain injuries suffered in the incidents.

“There’s no greater priority than ensuring the health and safety of our people, and the anomalous health incidents that have afflicted our personnel around the world are of grave concern,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, in a statement. Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee’s top Republican, said the people reporting symptoms “were apparently subject to attack.”

Polymeropoulos, the former CIA officer, said he believed the U.S. would ultimately identify what was behind the incidents and who is responsible.

“The actual intelligence is going to take us to the truth on this,” he said. “If we find that a certain adversary did this, there’s going to be uncomfortable decisions on what to do.”


Source: Newmax

‘Tiktok intifada’: Videos Of Violent Mobs Attacking Jews Sweep The Internet

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As the conflict in the Gaza strip has slowed following a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, violence appears to be ratcheting up in the streets of New York City, Los Angeles, and Florida. A social media campaign urging TikTok users to record and post video footage of themselves beating up Jewish people may have spread across the Atlantic.

The violence began in Israel, according to the UK-based magazine The Spectator. “In Israel last month, a video on the social media platform TikTok encouraged users to film themselves assaulting Orthodox Jews,” reported James Ball.

Last month, Israeli officials arrested two Arab teenagers who slapped two ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews on a train in East Jerusalem, and uploaded video of the incident to TikTok.

“Why would any ordinary person get pleasure from assault?” Ball wrote. “‘There is a competition for likes and views,’ a 15-year-old victim told an Israeli news organisation. ‘A video of an Arab slapping an ultra-Orthodox man will get you both.’”

As the Israel-Gaza conflict intensified this past week, so did attacks on American Jews — many of them recorded and shared widely on social media. Multiple alleged assaults against Jewish people took place nationwide during the Middle Eastern conflicts, often featuring large groups of people said to be Palestinian rights activists.

There were 193 anti-Semitic attacks “in the week after the crisis began,” the Anti-Defamation League reported on Thursday, “up from 131 the previous week,” an increase of 47%.

Two attacks took place late Tuesday night in the same vicinity of Los Angeles. A roving gang of Palestinians were reportedly cruising L.A.’s Beverly Grove neighborhood, yelling anti-Zionist epithets. Eyewitnesses said the men pulled up to the Sushi Fumi restaurant and asked, “Who’s Jewish?” before commencing to attack Jewish men in a violent incident police in Los Angeles are investigating as a potential hate crime.

Footage of another incident was reportedly “shared by the perpetrators themselves, along with security footage.”

“The Zionist flipped us off for supporting Palestine. We went after him,” the video states.

New York City — already home to dozens of anti-semitic attacks this year — also experienced anti-semitic violence throughout the week. As two demonstrations supporting different sides of the conflict converged in Times Square on Thursday night, a truckload of people flying a Palestinian flag reportedly threw two commercial fireworks into the pro-Israeli gathering of mostly Jewish people. The blasts injured a 55-year-old woman, according to the New York Post. A freelance reporter named Oliya Scootercaster uploaded video footage of the altercation, which took place near Manhattan’s Diamond District.

The same evening, in the Diamond District, a crowd of Palestinian supporters surrounded a Jewish man, knocked him to the ground, and beat him in the face with a crutch. “My whole face… felt like it was on fire for hours,” the victim, 29-year-old Joseph Borgen, told local media. Borgen said he “wore my yarmulke, wore my kippah,” but “I never made it to the rally.” He “saw someone start chasing me from behind, and next thing you know, … I was surrounded by a crowd.” Video of that horrifying incident also made social media.

“The chronology of the two videos is unclear,” reported the Times of Israel.

On Friday, the video may have helped land the perpetrator. “23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh was arrested for using a crutch to assault a man in front of 1604 Broadway,” the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force announced May 21 on Twitter. “He’s been charged with hate crime assault 2, gang assault 2, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon.”

Does social media help capture perpetrators by crowdsourcing the ability to identify assailants? Or does the addictive thirst for online affirmation drive people to commit acts of violence they might otherwise not commit? “A recently published study suggests that ‘likes’ on Instagram work in similar ways to the delivery of food to a hungry rat pressing a lever in a Skinner Box,” according to Phil Reed, D.Phil., at Psychology Today. “The faster that ‘likes’ are received, the more postings are made.”

The greater the feedback, the more likely the poster was to follow up with similar content. “Receiving a ‘like’ was related to shorter latencies to make the next post,” Reed wrote.

When the media favor one side of the conflict, viewers may seek to “right the scales” by taking matters into their own hands against anyone associated with the other side — in this case, those associated with the world’s only Jewish state. Meanwhile, the Chinese-owned platform TikTok provides a potential audience of 732 million people searching for a virtual front row seat at a violent altercation — something Balls called the “TikTok Intifada.”

“Welcome to the TikTokisation of global politics,” Ball wrote.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.


Source: Dailywire

White House Advisor Says Getting COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Makes Us All More Attractive’ As Biden Admin Teams With Dating Apps

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On Friday, the White House announced that it has partnered with several major dating apps to encourage people seeking companionship to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Washington Post reported, “Nine dating sites have teamed up with the Biden administration to add features that will let users show they’ve gotten their shots.”

Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor on the nation’s coronavirus response, told reporters on Friday that the effort is intended to target younger Americans. He added, “these sites cater to over 50 million people in the U.S. and are some of the world’s biggest non-gaming apps.”

As demand for the vaccine slows, promotional campaigns are expected to launch on the apps in the coming weeks to help meet President Joe Biden’s goal to inoculate 70% of U.S. adults with at least one COVID-19 shot by July 4.

“Social distancing and dating were always a bit of a challenging combination, but today dating sites like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish, and Badoo are announcing a series of features to encourage vaccinations and help people meet people who have that universally attractive quality: they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19,” Slavitt said.

Slavitt went on to cite data provided by OkCupid that he said found “people who display their vaccination status are 14% more likely to get a match.”

“We have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive: a vaccination.”

National Public Radio reported:

The types of new offerings will vary from site to site. Match, for example, will allow members to add a new “Vaccinated” badge to their profiles and give them a free “boost” to make their profile appear higher up in search results. BLK, the largest dating app for Black singles, will give also offer vaccinated users a boost if they add a “Vaxified” badge to their profiles. Tinder, the dating app with the most U.S. users, will also have vaccinated badges, as well as a new “Vaccine Center” to help connect users with nearby vaccination sites.

The effort to enlist dating apps in the vaccine drive is just one in a series of sometimes unorthodox measures that officials across the country have turned to in order to get more doses into arms. Maine, for example, has offered free hunting licenses to vaccinated residents, while the governor of Ohio has started a $1 million lottery for anyone who’s received at least one dose of a vaccine.

During a White House briefing on Tuesday, Slavitt revealed that his 19-year-old son, Zach, is still experiencing lingering effects from COVID-19 after he first tested positive last fall.

“He’s young and fit and in the prime of his life,” Slavitt said. “But six months later, he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath, and ongoing frequent flu-like symptoms. His hands are cold to the touch. Neither he nor his parents – my wife and I – are sure how long this will last.”

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 161.3 million people, including more than 60% of adults, have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Less than 39% of the total population has been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.


Source: Dailywire

WATCH: Biden Sparks Some Controversy With Comments About Refusing To Seize Reporters’ Records

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Democrat President Joe Biden sparked controversy on Friday with remarks that he made when asked whether he would prevent his Department of Justice from seizing the records of reporters.

“Would you prevent your Justice Department from doing that?” CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked Biden in reference to reporters who had their phone records and emails collected by the U.S. government.

Biden responded by calling it “absolutely, positively wrong.”

“It’s simply, simply wrong,” Biden said.

When asked if he would allow his Justice Department to collect reporter’s records, Biden responded, “I will not let that happen.”

WATCH:

However, journalists and political commentators quickly noted problems with the remarks that Biden had made.

Journalist Yashar Ali highlighted Biden’s previous remarks about not interfering with the work that the Justice Department does.

“Great!” Ali wrote. “But I have a question, how can he promise this definitively while also promising to not interfere?”

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that their Justice Department would be “independent.”

Political commentator Mike Cernovich took a different angle in responding to Biden’s remarks, writing: “President Biden admits that he personally directs DOJ actions and investigations, which is a violation of longstanding democratic norms re: DOJ’s independence.”

Others commentators responded with more wait-and-see reaction and wanted to wait until later before making any judgements, while some took Biden’s comments at face value and declared it a win for the media.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked last week about press freedom, including a question about Julian Assange.

Here’s the exchange that Psaki had with the reporter:

REPORTER: Yes, I do. I’d like to ask about a couple of press freedom issues. On Friday, we learned that the Justice Department, last year, seized the phone records of several Washington Post journalists. The Biden Justice Department defended this, saying that it was the sources they were after, not the reporters.

But there are some press freedom advocates who are pretty concerned about that defense. Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation said that the Biden Justice Department gave a “disturbing defense” of the practice. Bruce Brown, the Executive Director of The Reporters for Freedom of the Press said that it “raises serious First Amendment concerns.”

Do you, as the government’s top press officer, have concerns about reporters’ records being taken, including in this instance?

PSAKI: Well, given this was an action taken by the last administration, and the Department of Justice who oversees, obviously, our legal actions has already spoken to it, I’m not going to have anything additional to add.

REPORTER: The second part on press freedom is — this marked — marks International Press Freedom Day, which was celebrated on Twitter by the secretary of state and the vice president —

PSAKI: Yep.

REPORTER: — who wrote the “free press is critical to democracy.”

The whistleblower Edward Snowden responded by writing out, “This would be more persuasive if the White House [wasn’t] aggressively seeking a 175-year sentence for [a] publisher of award-winning journalism…” He’s referring to WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange.

The Obama-Biden administration was infamous for taking a heavy hand toward reporters and leaks, including taking the Associated Press’ call records and calling a Fox reporter a “possible conspirator.” But the Obama Justice Department decided not to prosecute Assange for fear of setting a precedent that could be used to prosecute journalists dealing with classified information.

In the name of press freedom, will President Biden be intervening in the Assange case to stop the prosecution? Or will he be allowing the Justice Department and the courts to sort this out?

PSAKI: Well, in the name of independent justice, we will allow the Justice Department — encourage the Justice Department to continue to be an independent Justice Department — which I know is different from what we saw over the last four years, so it feels funny to some people.

WATCH:

This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.

The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.


Source: Dailywire

Market Wrap: China Breaks Crypto as Bitcoin Falls to $36K, ETH Drops $300 in Two Hours

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It has been a low-volume Friday to cap an up-and-down week for cryptocurrencies. News out of China had traders hitting the sell button during a two-hour dump before the selling leveled off.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $36,224 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Losing 9.7% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $36,224-$42,163 (CoinDesk 20)
  • Ether (ETH) trading around $2,363 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). In the red 15.5% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Ether’s 24-hour range: $2,363-$2,929 (CoinDesk 20)

Bitcoin slips as volume evaporates

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was down 9.7% as of press time Friday. BTC was below the 10-hour moving average and the 50-day, a bearish signal for market technicians. 

According to spot data from Bitstamp, BTC is headed for its second straight week declining 20% or more, on track for a 37% decline over the two-week period, on a par with March 2020’s market bloodbath. 

The main catalyst for the move down Friday was a statement from a China’s State Council on BTC: “We should crack down on bitcoin mining and trading activities and prevent individual risks from being passed to the whole society.”

Within two hours, bitcoin fell from $41,454 around 14:15 UTC (10:15 a.m. ET) to as low as $36,880, an 11% decrease, based on CoinDesk 20 data. Bitcoin is still falling, at $36,224 as of press time. 

“I expect BTC/USD to range around $38,000 for a while,” said George Clayton, managing partner at investment firm Cryptanalysis Capital. 

After a 2021 record volume day for bitcoin on Wednesday, Friday is shaping up to be a downer heading into the weekend. At around $4 billion Friday, volume has decreased 75% decrease from $16 billion in volume on Wednesday, based on CoinDesk Research’s data on eight major spot bitcoin exchanges.

Anticipating consolidation

Neil Van Huis, director of sales and institutional trading at crypto market maker Blockfills, says “consolidation,” a period of low volume and subsequent price discovery due to lack of liquidity, might be a market factor this weekend. 

“I’m anticipating some consolidation where markets may have previously broken out from,” said Van Huis. “I think the market appears to be digesting the move down in a very fair fashion and we will soon know what it wants to do next.”

Bitcoin options traders don’t know what to do with $50K

In the bitcoin derivatives market over 16,700 BTC is centered on a $50,000 strike price, the highest open interest. However, the split between puts and calls is almost even. A put is a right but not an obligation to sell an asset while a call is the right but not an obligation to buy an asset – both within a specific time frame, known as expiration. 

It’s an intriguing development because bitcoin has not been at the $50,000 price level in over a week and it’s possibly a sign smart options traders are taking both sides of the trade at that level.

“The open interest doesn’t indicate directionality,” noted Vishal Shah, founder of crypto derivatives exchange Alpha5.

ETH volatility up

Since the beginning of April, 30-day volatility for 10 brand-name crypto assets on the CoinDesk 20 have all climbed, including bitcoin. However, it is ethereum classic (ETC) and ether that are in the stratosphere of wild price gyrations. Both assets have over 30-day volatility at 250% as of closing data from Thursday. 

“The part that stands out the most is that volatility has exploded recently, with many assets experiencing over 200% realized, which is huge,” said Rich Rosenblum, president of crypto market maker GSR. “Then, at the same time, BTC volatility is elevated vs. its lull a few weeks ago, but certainly muted relative to the rest, staying at under 100%.”

Greg Magadini, chief executive officer, Genesis Volatility, noted that ETH’s “DVOL” metric, which is a volatility measure similar to traditional markets’ VIX and tracked by options exchange Deribit, is up to 180. It’s record high was Thursday, at 190. He says realized volatility, which is derived from analyzing historical returns, is now priced into the market. 

“Although we’ve come down from peak realized volatility seen in the past few days, over +300%, volatility is known to cluster,” said Magadini. “The options markets are pricing in over +100% implied volatility for all expirations and about 150% for near-dated options.”

Ether dominance dumps

Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was trading around $2,363 as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET), slipping 15.5% over the prior 24 hours. The asset is below the 10-hour moving average as well as the 50-day, a bearish signal for market technicians. 

Ether dumped from $2,740 around 14:15 UTC (10:15 a.m. ET) to $2,426 by 16:15 UTC (12:15 p.m. ET), a $314 decrease based on CoinDesk 20 data. ETH is still slipping, at $2,363 as of press time. 

Nick Mancini, research analyst at crypto sentiment analytics platform Trade the Chain, says major blockchain assets like bitcoin and ether are still seen positively, despite recent price dumps and volatility jumps. 

“Going forward, long-term sentiment scores for most crypto, especially bitcoin and ether, are still high, in the 70s, despite all of the recent turmoil,” Mancini. “which means the bullish thesis remains intact.” 

The bullish thesis may be holding overall, but traders have clearly been losing some interest in ether versus other cryptocurrencies. Ether’s dominance, its share of the greater cryptocurrency market, has started to drop. After hitting a 2021 high of 20.61% May 15, ETH dominance has started to falter, below 18% share and down 2% the past 24 hours as of press time.

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are all red Friday. Notable losers as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

  • aave (AAVE) – 24.8%
  • polkadot (DOT) – 20.8%
  • chainlink (LINK) – 18.6%

Equities:

  • In Japan the Nikkei 225 index ended the day up 0.78% as investors hit the buy button on potential growth stocks as interest rates are expected to remain stable.
  • Europe’s FTSE 100 closed flat, in the red just 0.02% as traders weighed positive U.K. economic data against continued pandemic concerns.
  • In the United States the S&P 500 slipped 0.08%, a relatively flat result, with tech-sector losses mixed in with positive corporate outlooks.

Commodities:

  • Oil was up 3.1%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $63.85.
  • Gold was in the green 0.13% and at $1,879 as of press time.
  • Silver is falling, down 0.80% and changing hands at $27.53.

Treasurys:

  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell Friday to 1.622 and in the red 0.42%.

Source: Coindesk

Uphold Exec Accused of ‘Fraudulently Misdirecting’ $700K in Funds

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Digital finance platform Uphold has dismissed its chief compliance officer, claiming he pocketed corporate and user funds.  

The company said Sameer Ismail, 39, a stalwart of the U.K. crypto scene, had “wrongfully and fraudulently misdirected” corporate and user funds totaling £516,242 (US$732,495), all of which has been replaced.

When asked if he was guilty of stealing any cryptocurrency, Ismail told CoinDesk in a brief phone interview Friday, “I categorically disagree. It’s messy. This allegation of theirs [Uphold’s] was directly in response to me filing a breach of contract against them.” 

Prior to joining Uphold, Ismail held the position of chief compliance officer at Luno (now owned by CoinDesk parent company Digital Currency Group) and chief risk officer at Denmark’s Coinify in 2018.

Ismail was even hired by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to talk about financial crime and appeared on numerous panels to discuss cryptocurrency regulation. At an event organized by the U.K. regulatory body in 2018, he appeared alongside the FCA’s executive director, Christopher Woolard, and City of London Police Financial Intelligence Analyst Fred Ellis.

Uphold said Ismail was put through a U.K. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) record check before joining as an employee, which showed no previous criminal convictions or red flags.

“Bad actors are often difficult to contend with, but we were, with the help of our regulator, able to uncover Mr. Ismail’s deception before he was able to do any significant damage,” an Uphold spokesperson told CoinDesk in an emailed statement, adding:

“We took prompt legal action against Mr. Ismail and reported his actions to the appropriate regulators and police. We engaged a forensic investigator and conducted a thorough review of our policies and procedures.”

Customers suffered zero losses from the fraudulent activity conducted, Uphold said. 

Since the case emerged earlier this year, Uphold said it has “instituted additional layers of stricter controls” to ensure similar attacks won’t happen again. 

Past issues

Ismail’s work history seems to have flown under the radar of firms that later hired him. For instance, Luno, where Ismail worked prior to Uphold, confirmed in an emailed statement that there had been a case involving Ismail and issues around expenses on a company credit card.  

“We do not in general comment on individual employee matters but would like to clarify that in the case in question no cryptocurrency or customer funds were affected, the issue involved personal expense claims on a company credit card,” a Luno spokesperson wrote, adding:

“The case was resolved in November 2020 in a court judgment in Luno’s favor. The judgment is a matter of public record at Birmingham County Court.”

Ismail appears to be something of an expert when it comes to falsifying documents, according to a licensed private investigator who asked to remain anonymous. 

The wayward compliance chief (currently thought to be residing in Dubai) is alleged to have absconded with over 35 BTC, closer to $2 million at the time, according to the investigative source. 

In addition, Ismail is alleged to have photoshopped a fake seizure order from the U.K.’s National Crime Agency (NCA) for £103,000, and also created a fake invoice for a crypto asset license from the FCA for £10,000.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said the investigator. “He used a number of methods such as creating fake email trails from customers requesting for their crypto to be sent to external wallets. These wallets were in fact controlled by Sameer.”

The FCA was contacted but did not respond by press time. The City of London Police declined to comment. 


Source: Coindesk

An Interview With Chainlink’s Sergey Nazarov

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Chainlink is everywhere in the crypto ecosystem. Over the past three years, its underlying oracle technology – a way to feed external data into programmable smart contracts – has been integrated into over 300 projects. It’s become such a critical component of decentralized finance (DeFi) that Vitalik Buterin has called for projects like UNI to convert into competing oracle tokens to help further decentralize the space. 

Meanwhile, Chainlink’s native token, LINK, has grown to become one of the largest cryptocurrencies by market cap. A gang of so-called Link Marines – typically those with financial stakes – prowl Twitter to protect the reputation of Chainlink and its illustrious co-founder, Sergey Nazarov. 

Consensus 2021: Sergey Nazarov will appear at this year’s CoinDesk’s Consensus conference on May 25 to discuss the future of oracle networks and their real-world utility. Register here.

This rapid success, and the bizarre cult behavior surrounding Chainlink, have raised legitimate concerns about the project. Buterin, for one, has said the system lacks a coherent way to penalize bad data providers. The Chainlink team recently released a white paper offering potential solutions here.

Chainlink 2.0 would introduce the concept of “explicit staking” and add a second layer of trusted oracles to supervise the network (more on that below). Though critics have raised flags here as well, it’s hard to argue Chainlink hasn’t found product-market fit. 

Ahead of his appearance at Consensus 2021 I asked co-founder Sergey Nazarov about the challenges facing, and the future of, the multi-billion dollar network. He would only respond to “technical” questions – so no comment on the Marines, the token’s rapid accretion or Buterin’s proposal, unfortunately. Here’s what he said. 

Has your answer to “Could you create a hybrid smart contract to prove someone painted your house the right shade of blue?” changed at all?

You can create a hybrid smart contract around anything that an off-chain data source can prove to be true. While there aren’t many data sources to prove the color of a house today, if there was sufficient demand for data that proves this event it would become available, and a hybrid smart contract could then be efficiently settled based upon that data, after being validated by a decentralized oracle network.  

You’ve mentioned how “hybrid smart contracts” are already revolutionizing DeFi. What’s happening here?

Hybrid smart contracts are the combination of deterministic, on-chain code featuring high reliability, transparency and security, together with the real world’s off-chain events. This is the next step in the evolution of smart contracts as a technology. DeFi is a perfect example. You have financial products that are transparently operated on-chain but require interaction with the off-chain world’s data, such as price data, to come into existence. As more external data is validated and placed on-chain, even more DeFi smart contracts are launched, clearly showing that the number of decentralized services, in this case validated off-chain data delivery, is a key deciding factor in the initial emergence and continued growth of hybrid smart contract ecosystems such as DeFi. 

How are participants in the Chainlink ecosystem incentivized to provide reliable oracle services, and what is the system to disincentivize misinformation? 

The crypto-economic model that secures the Chainlink network is driven by both implicit and explicit incentives. Implicit incentives are also seen in existing networks such as Bitcoin. Miners in the Bitcoin network collectively maintain the security of the protocol as they have a strong economic incentive to uphold the value of their specialized ASIC mining equipment and their future revenue denominated in bitcoin. 

Any malicious activity would lead to a devaluation of their holdings and loss of future revenue, which is how the Bitcoin network has operated without issue for over a decade. Chainlink leverages similar economic incentives to ensure accurate and reliable data is made available to smart contracts across a number of blockchain networks. With regard to explicit incentives, the recent Chainlink 2.0 white paper presented an explicit staking model that significantly increases the crypto-economic security of the network through super-linear staking. 

How does Chainlink benefit from decentralized storage providers like Filecoin? What is stored that wouldn’t already be on a blockchain? 

Between blockchain networks, Chainlink’s oracle infrastructure and decentralized storage providers like Filecoin, a fully decentralized Web 3.0 technology stack is starting to emerge in which smart contracts provide definitive state changes, asset control and private key access. Chainlink oracles power decentralized services for all real-world interactions, and decentralized storage networks provide efficient decentralized storage of data over the long term. Chainlink and Filecoin go very well together; Chainlink enables the input of data into Filecoin for long-term storage, as well as a gateway for smart contracts on various chains to purchase data from Filecoin.

What else are you looking to fund with Chainlink Community Grants? What are the biggest successes of that program?

The Chainlink Community Grant program has already helped support leading ecosystem tools like market.link and reputation.link, while also providing many original research grants for the smart contract ecosystem, numerous native integrations of Chainlink on additional blockchain networks, social impact initiatives for emerging markets across the world and environmental sustainability efforts.

Could you give a little insight into Chainlink’s business development? How closely does Chainlink Labs work with teams on integrations?

As a permissionless framework for building oracle networks, many development teams go on to use Chainlink on their own by referencing the publicly available documentation. Chainlink is an easy system to integrate. However, we are always here to help teams that want to integrate their application with Chainlink and need custom support. We can be reached at [email protected] We have and will continue to help projects create custom oracle networks that are needed for more specialized use cases, whether it’s fetching weather data from a specific geographic region for smart contract insurance agreements or securely connecting existing backend systems to the growing blockchain ecosystem. 

What are you most excited about in crypto?

What excites me most is fundamentally changing the way the world works to improve society in two key ways. 

Firstly, the booms and busts we see with financial markets are based on information asymmetries that benefit the very few who can exploit them. Often, the rest of society is left to foot the bill. This is not right and has to change. Secondly, millions of users across emerging markets still lack basic economic agreements about bank accounts, insurance, global trade and many other contract systems that users in developed markets often take for granted. Hybrid smart contract applications can take the rest of the world from zero to one, regardless of their local system’s failings. This is perhaps the most worthwhile goal in all of contract theory. 


Source: Coindesk