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  • US Department of Agriculture Advises on How to Reduce Your Arsenic Intake; Gates Foundation Sponsors First 'Indigenous' Flu Vaccine in India

    1. CHINA: GOVERNMENT SAYS 600K 5G BASE STATIONS TO BE BUILT IN 2021
    2. GERMANY: LANDTAG MEMBER DR. HEINRICH FIECHTNER CASTIGATES GERMAN GOVERNMENT FOR C19 POLICY RESPONSES
    3. INDIA: SERUM INSTITUTE DEVELOPS FIRST INDIGENOUS FLU VACCINE
    4. RUSSIA: AIR CARRIERS DENIED RIGHT TO CARRY THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONS TO RUSSIA (AEROFLOT EXCEPTED)
    5. SCOTLAND: NO OBJECTION FROM DELEGATED POWERS AND COVID-19 COMMITTEES TO SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS RESTRICTIONS
    6. SCOTLAND: PUBLIC ACCESS TO MEETINGS OF THE PARLIAMENT CONTINUES TO BE RESTRICTED
    7. SCOTLAND: SCOTTISH MINISTERS GRANT THEMSELVES EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY TO ENACT EU LAW IN SCOTLAND FOLLOWING BREXIT
    8. UNITED KINGDOM: LICENSE TO KILL?
    9. UNITED STATES: AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE SCIENTISTS RELEASE F1 HYBRID PROGENY OF BLUE CATFISH
    10. UNITED STATES: CHICKEN DIPPED IN PERACETIC ACID ASSESSED FOR CAMPYLOBACTER
    11. UNITED STATES: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE’S OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS NETS OVER $22.7 MILLION
    12. UNITED STATES: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SOUTH BUILDING TO GET $32 MILLION FOR MODERNIZATION
    13. UNITED STATES: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO SPEND ALMOST $100 MILLION ‘INTER ALIA’ TO DETECT AND PREVENT WASTE
    14. UNITED STATES: FURTHER ADVANCES IN EPIGENETICS
    15. UNITED STATES: FURTHER MOVES AGAINST SECTION 230
    16. UNITED STATES: MOVES CONTINUE AGAINST UNTREATED MANURE
    17. UNITED STATES: OVER $56 MILLION OF DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER’S BUDGET TO GO ON CYBERSECURITY
    18. UNITED STATES: PORK’S TO GET JUICIER
    19. UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SENDS BACK “REDLINED” OMNIBUS AND COVID BILLS, CALLS FOR $2000 CHECKS FOR ADULTS, $600 FOR CHILDREN
    20. UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS ‘CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT 2021’ (HR 133) INTO LAW
    21. UNITED STATES: SPENDING ON AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE GROWS $1.41 BILLION TO $1.49 BILLION
    22. UNITED STATES: TOMATOES SPRAYED WITH CHLORINE DIOXIDE HAVE REDUCED POPULATIONS OF SALMONELLA, BUT…
    23. GENERAL: BREASTFEEDING AS LEADING TO LONG-TERM ENHANCEMENT OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
    24. GENERAL: DON’T EAT AFTER 8PM!
    25. GENERAL: EXCESSIVE SANITISATION WARNED AGAINST BY ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP
    26. GENERAL: PRESOAK RICE AND DRAIN WATER TO LOWER YOUR INTAKE OF CLASS 1 CARCINOGEN, INORGANIC ARSENIC
    27. COPYRIGHT NOTICES

    PLEASE CONSULT COPYRIGHT STATEMENTS BELOW. THIS EMAIL DOES NOT REPRESENT AN OFFICIAL VERSION OF ANY LEGISLATION OR ENACTMENTS QUOTED OR CITED. FOR FULL TERMS AND CONDITIONS, PLEASE REFER TO https://www.technicalpolitics.com/tp-insider-terms-and-conditions/

    CHINA: GOVERNMENT SAYS 600K 5G BASE STATIONS TO BE BUILT IN 2021

    “China will build more than 600,000 5G base stations next year”, said Xiao Yaqing, Minister of Industry and Information Technology on 28 December 2020.

    A huge expansion.

    http://english.www.gov.cn/statecouncil/ministries/202012/29/content_WS5fea6187c6d0f725769429c5.html

    GERMANY: LANDTAG MEMBER DR. HEINRICH FIECHTNER CASTIGATES GERMAN GOVERNMENT FOR C19 POLICY RESPONSES

    Dr. Fiechtner, a Member of the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg describes calling up hospital unit which had just been on the news complaining of overcrowding to find that not one of its nineteen ICU beds were being used.

    He continued,

    “And then there’s the whole “infection” narrative and the test. This test isn’t even capable of making the distinction between an active virus and an inactive virus.”

    “I’ve said it before: it’s a killer vaccine It’s a pharmaceutical product for which there isn’t even a toxicology report. It’s just going to be given to people. There’s a possibility that it may cause infertility in women, severe allergic reactions, and you want to inflict this unreasonable imposition upon citizens.”

    “You are destroying an entire country. You are leading people into suffering, panic, ruin and death!

    “Following an enquiry, the answer I received was, “A review of non-pharmacological measures has not been documented. Accordingly, there are no administrative procedures or files pertaining to such results in existence.” The absolute capitulation! What nerve!”

    Translation courtesy:

    INDIA: SERUM INSTITUTE DEVELOPS FIRST INDIGENOUS FLU VACCINE

    “Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan launched the country’s first pneumococcal conjugate vaccine ‘Pneumosil’ developed by Serum Institute of India in collaboration with partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

    https://www.india.com/news/india/pneumosil-centre-launches-first-indigenous-pneumococcal-vaccine-developed-by-serum-institute-4295711/

    RUSSIA: AIR CARRIERS DENIED RIGHT TO CARRY THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONS TO RUSSIA (AEROFLOT EXCEPTED)

    Under a new prohibition, third-country nationals are being given a choice between travelling to Russia from their home country, or flying via Aeroflot.

    Recruitment company, English Nanny explains more, “Say, if you are UK passport holder and you are flying from London to Moscow you can fly with British Airways or Aeroflot. However, you are flying from say, Istanbul you must fly with Aeroflot only; you will be denied boarding Turkish Airlines. […]

    “You must provide a certificate in Russian or English with a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 taken not earlier than 72 hours before the flight departure or else you will be denied transportation.”

    Source: englishnanny.ru.

    SCOTLAND: NO OBJECTION FROM DELEGATED POWERS AND COVID-19 COMMITTEES TO SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS RESTRICTIONS

    “In regulation 3B(1) (temporary modification of restrictions: holiday gatherings) omit “For the period beginning on 23 December 2020 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on 27 December 2020” and substitute “On 25 December”…”

    So one day’s relaxation, instead of five.

    “These Regulations limit the exemptions which allow festive gatherings to apply to the 25th of December, and removes the ability to form a festive gathering in other parts of the UK and Common Travel Area (CTA).”

    And no trips to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Jersey.

    The Delegated Powers and Law Reform (‘DPLR’) Committee considered SSI 2020/452 at its meeting on 22 December 2020 and had no points to raise.”

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/452/made

    SCOTLAND: PUBLIC ACCESS TO MEETINGS OF THE PARLIAMENT CONTINUES TO BE RESTRICTED

    “These suspensions and variations agreed to by the Parliament— … enable the introduction of a remote voting system for meetings of the Parliament … suspend the requirement for public access to meetings of the Parliament and committees … [and] suspend the requirements in relation to the scheduling of Members’, committee and opposition business.”

    SCOTLAND: SCOTTISH MINISTERS GRANT THEMSELVES EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY TO ENACT EU LAW IN SCOTLAND FOLLOWING BREXIT

    The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill provides the Scottish Ministers with the right to impose EU law on Scotland simply by passing regulation.

    “The Scottish Ministers may by regulations- (a) make provision- (i) corresponding to an EU regulation … (iii) to implement an EU directive, … or (b) otherwise make provision for the purpose of dealing with matters arising out of, or related to, the operation from time to time of- (i) any rights, powers, liabilities, obligations or restrictions created by regulations made under this subsection, or (ii) any rememdies or proceedings provided for by those regulations.”

    It provides for Scottish public authorities exceeding their statutory authority:

    “(3) Regulations … may provide for functions of EU entities … to be- (a) exercisable instead by a Scottish public authority (whether or not established for the purpose), or by any person whom the authority authorises to carry out functions on its behalf, or (b) omitted or otherwise differently provided for.”

    Although this is qualified by Section 2(1)(f).

    It’s limitless in the domains it may affect:

    “The purpose of section 1(1) is, AMONG OTHER THINGS, to contribute towards maintaining and advancing standards in relations to the following matters- …”

    And weirdly, it implies the authority to modify primary legislation, by listing primary legislation which may NOT be modified by regulations.

    Part 2, Chapter 2 establishes the a new public authority, Environmental Standards Scotland.

    https://beta.parliament.scot/-/media/files/legislation/bills/current-bills/uk-withdrawal-from-the-european-union-continuity-scotland-bill-2020/stage-3/bill-as-passed-uk-withdrawal-from-the-european-union-continuity-scotland-bill.pdf

    UNITED KINGDOM: LICENSE TO KILL?

    The Scottish Government announces that it is not opposed in principle to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, but will require the Bill “to be substantially changed with far greater independent oversight and additional safeguards, in order for the Scottish Government to reconsider its position and recommend that the Scottish Parliament consent to the Bill.”

    The bill authorises human intelligence sources to commit criminal acts without penalty of law.

    “It will be possible to grant a CCA [Criminal Consent Authorisation] under RIPA where it is necessary in the interests of national security, in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom or for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime or preventing disorder.”

    “The ability to make authorisations will be limited initially to Police Scotland and the Scottish Administration.”

    “The Bill does not specify explicit limits on the types of offences…”

    https://bb.parliament.scot/#20201223

    UNITED STATES: AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE SCIENTISTS RELEASE F1 HYBRID PROGENY OF BLUE CATFISH

    “Over the last 15 years, U.S. catfish production has shifted from predominant use of purebred channel catfish to the production of F1 hybrids between channel catfish and blue catfish. ARS scientists in Stoneville, Mississippi, established the most diverse collection of blue catfish in existence and initiated evaluations of these strains for purebred blue catfish and hybrid catfish performance. Initial research revealed that purebred and hybrid progeny of the Rio Grande strain of blue catfish showed superior growth and meat yield relative to other blue catfish strains. Approximately 10,000 4 to 6-year-old Rio Grande fish, 20,000 2-year-old Rio Grandes, and 100,000 Rio Grande fingerlings will be released to farmers during fiscal 2020.”

    https://www .ars.usda.gov/research/annual-report-on-science-accomplishments/fy-2019/advancing-sustainable-aquaculture-production/

    For context:

    “Catfish is the “king” of U.S. aquaculture in terms of pounds produced and total value. … This southern delicacy is raised in earthen ponds filled with well water and fed a floating, grain-based diet.”

    https://freshwater -aquaculture.extension.org/catfish-farming/

    UNITED STATES: CHICKEN DIPPED IN PERACETIC ACID ASSESSED FOR CAMPYLOBACTER

    “ARS researchers in Athens, Georgia, evaluated the use of a low-pH processing aid and peracetic acid (PAA) applied in either individual- or consecutive-dip treatments to reduce Campylobacter in thighs. Combinations of dual low-pH dips, dual PAA dips, low pH then PAA, and PAA then low-pH were all evaluated against a control of dual buffer dips.”

    More natural approaches also produced results:

    “ARS scientists in Fayetteville, Arkansas, found that plant-based GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status compounds (e.g., carvacrol, caprylic acid, eugenol, beta-resorcylic acid, trans-cinnamaldehyde) and probiotic cultures from Bacillus and Lactobacillus sp. are very effective in reducing the presence of Campylobacter or Salmonella on poultry meat and eggs.”

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/np108/Annual%20Report/NP%20108%202019%20Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf

    UNITED STATES: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE’S OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS NETS OVER $22.7 MILLION

    The Department of Agriculture’s Office of Civil Rights is apportioned $22,789,000, while the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights is apportioned $908,000, with the provision that “salaries and expenses [be made] available to fund up to one administrative support staff for the Office”.

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/133

    “The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR) provides overall leadership, coordination, and direction for USDA’s civil rights programs, including matters related to program delivery, compliance and equal employment opportunity.”

    https://www.usda.gov/oascr/leadership

    The Office comprises two centres – the Centre for Civil Rights Enforcement, and the Center for Civil Rights Operations – and two standalone divisions, the Conflict Complaints Division and the Program Planning and Accountability Division.

    Here’s the remit of the Employment Complaints Division:

    “ECD’s primary mission is to review formal equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints filed against the various sub-agencies and offices of the Department under various Federal anti-discrimination statutes and regulations. …

    https://www.usda.gov/oascr/center-civil-rights-enforcement

    The Employment Investigations Division “… is responsible for ensuring the fair and thorough investigation of EEO complaints …”

    https://www.usda.gov/oascr/center-civil-rights-enforcement

    The Employment Adjudication Division’s mission is “… to independently and objectively analyze the facts and apply the applicable laws to complaints of employment discrimination filed by current and former USDA employees, or applicants for USDA employment, and to then objectively and impartially issue Final Agency Decisions on the merits. EAD also monitors all findings of discrimination, settlement agreements, EEOC and MSPB Orders of Relief to ensure compliance with all terms.”

    https://www.usda.gov/oascr/center-civil-rights-enforcement

    And so on, and so forth.

    Isn’t this in the remit of the EEOC?

    UNITED STATES: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SOUTH BUILDING TO GET $32 MILLION FOR MODERNIZATION

    From the Department of Agriculture’s Budget document:

    “The Budget includes $152.8 million for AG B&F, of which $32 million would continue modernization of the South Building. The budget builds on the funding provided by Congress to continue its multi-year One Neighborhood and headquarters modernization strategy to address critical health and safety and accessibility deficiencies, as well as failing operational systems.”

    https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-fy2021-budget-summary.pdf

    South Building was the largest office building in the world until the completion of the Pentagon, and ranges over seven stories and contains 4500 rooms. In other words $7111 per room, although its clearly not the only source of spending on the building.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Agriculture_South_Building

    UNITED STATES: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO SPEND ALMOST $100 MILLION ‘INTER ALIA’ TO DETECT AND PREVENT WASTE

    The sum of $99,912,000 is appropriated for the Office of the Inspector General includes up to $125,000 “…for certain confidential operational expenses, including the payment of informants…”.

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/133

    “The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts and supervises audits and investigations to prevent and detect … waste …”

    Yeap.

    https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-fy2021-budget-summary.pdf

    UNITED STATES: FURTHER ADVANCES IN EPIGENETICS

    “ARS-supported scientists … performed deep sequencing of genomic DNA in tissues representing the three germ layers during development followed by producing a computer algorithm to identify individual regions that vary in DNA methylation. The nearly 10,000 regions the researchers mapped out … comprise a previously unrecognized level of molecular individuality in humans. Because epigenetic marking of genes has the power to either stably silence or activate them, any disease that has a genetic basis may also have an epigenetic component.”

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/annual-report-on-science-accomplishments/fy-2019/advancing-human-nutrition-research/

    UNITED STATES: FURTHER MOVES AGAINST SECTION 230

    The President of the United States, Donald Trump announced on 27 December 2020:

    “The Senate will start the process for a vote … repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud.”

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-from-the-president-122720/

    For context, (the surprisingly succinct) Section 230 reads:

    “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230

    UNITED STATES: MOVES CONTINUE AGAINST UNTREATED MANURE

    The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has established pathogen reduction performance standards for Campylobacter … on broiler carcasses. Processors may apply antimicrobial processing aids as a spray or immersion to lower contamination on carcasses. In the United States, broiler carcasses are generally sampled by whole carcass rinse, and the potential exists for residual levels of antimicrobial processing aids to be carried over into the rinsate.

    Eeek.

    The Report continues,

    “ARS researchers … demonstrated that unmitigated carryover of antimicrobial treatment can also interfere with the detection and recovery of Campylobacter in broiler carcass rinse samples. Traditional buffered peptone water was tested and found that it did not offer enough neutralizing capability to counteract residual antimicrobial activity of some post-chill processing aids (peroxyacetic acid, cetylpyridinium chloride, acidified sodium chloride, or a blend of acids) to allow full recovery of Campylobacter. A recently reported formulation for a neutralizing buffered peptone water … outperformed the traditional carcass rinse medium and allowed significantly improved recovery of Campylobacter even in the presence of three of the four tested antimicrobial processing aids. Performance of the new carcass rinse medium with the fourth antimicrobial processing aid (acidified sodium chloride) was not different from the traditional formulation. Neutralizing buffered peptone water represents a significant improvement in the broiler carcass rinse method for detecting Campylobacter.”

    Enough to put you off your chicken nuggets.

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/np108/Annual%20Report/NP%20108%202019%20Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf

    UNITED STATES: OVER $56 MILLION OF DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER’S BUDGET TO GO ON CYBERSECURITY

    The Office of the Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is granted not less than $56 million of the $66,814,000 budget of the Office to spend on cybersecurity.

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/133

    UNITED STATES: PORK’S TO GET JUICIER

    “The increased carcass weight resulted in slower rates of loin muscle chilling when carcasses are cooled after slaughter. This, in turn, resulted in loin chops that retained more moisture during cooking and were juicier and more tender.”

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/annual-report-on-science-accomplishments/fy-2019/advancing-sustainable-livestock-and-poultry-production/

    UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SENDS BACK “REDLINED” OMNIBUS AND COVID BILLS, CALLS FOR $2000 CHECKS FOR ADULTS, $600 FOR CHILDREN

    From the White House Press Release:

    “As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child. … On Monday the House will vote to increase payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000.”

    This is being supported by House Democrats.

    Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

    “Now, the President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000, which will be brought to the Floor tomorrow.”

    UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS ‘CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT 2021′ (HR 133) INTO LAW

    “On Sunday, December 27, 2020, the President signed into law:

    “H.R. 133, an Act making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, providing coronavirus emergency response and relief, and for other purposes.”

    HR 133 is 941,833 words long by our reckoning. It’s so large it almost crashed Notepad.

    Unlike Congress, we do plan to read the entire thing. Look out for our HR 133 series in coming emails.

    Firstly, from the United States Senate Glossary:

    “The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, fiscal year 2013 begins on October 1, 2012 and ends on September 30, 2013.”

    Examples of slush are provided throughout this issue.

    UNITED STATES: SPENDING ON AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE GROWS $1.41 BILLION TO $1.49 BILLION

    Over $85 million will go to the Economic Research Service …

    … and $183 million on the National Agricultural Statistics Service …

    … both of which pale into comparison with the $1,491,784,000 to be spent on the Agricultural Research Service.

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/133

    “ARS conducts research to solve technical problems of broad scope and high national priority and provides access to scientific information. ARS’s research covers a wide range of critical problems affecting American agriculture and the Nation as a whole, ranging from animal and crop protection and production to human nutrition, food safety, and natural resources conservation. ARS employs over 6,000 employees and carries out approximately 690 research projects at 90 research locations throughout the Nation and in several foreign countries. ARS includes the National Arboretum and the National Agricultural Library, the Nation’s major information resource on food, agriculture, and natural resource sciences.”

    https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-fy2021-budget-summary.pdf

    Here are examples of where the money’s going:

    Drones were used for microbial water quality assessment in irrigation ponds.

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/np108/Annual%20Report/NP%20108%202019%20Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf

    Rates of salmonella enteritidis are affected by hens’ genetic lines.

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/np108/Annual%20Report/NP%20108%202019%20Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf

    Pickles were pasteurized using “hot-fill” techniques.

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/np108/Annual%20Report/NP%20108%202019%20Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf

    Other examples elsewhere in this issue.

    UNITED STATES: TOMATOES SPRAYED WITH CHLORINE DIOXIDE HAVE REDUCED POPULATIONS OF SALMONELLA, BUT…

    “Results demonstrated that gaseous ClO2 [chlorine dioxide] reduced populations of Salmonella on tomatoes by 99.99 percent and did not significantly affect appearance tomato texture, color, odor, or lycopene and ascorbic acid content.”

    Is it safe?

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/np108/Annual%20Report/NP%20108%202019%20Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf

    GENERAL: BREASTFEEDING AS LEADING TO LONG-TERM ENHANCEMENT OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

    “… bifidobacteria, which are abundant in the infant gut as a result of breastfeeding, may lead to long-term enhancement of the immune system.”

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/annual-report-on-science-accomplishments/fy-2019/advancing-human-nutrition-research/

    GENERAL: DON’T EAT AFTER 8PM!

    “On any given day, almost two-thirds of Americans eat or drink something after 8:00 P.M. This is of concern … because most people generally have consumed enough calories for the day by the end of their evening meals …”

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/annual-report-on-science-accomplishments/fy-2019/advancing-human-nutrition-research/

    GENERAL: EXCESSIVE SANITISATION WARNED AGAINST BY ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP

    Oversanitization “of school surfaces and objects with harsh chemical cleaners … actually poses serious and potentially long-lasting health effects, especially for the young and those with pre-existing conditions.

    “According to the Environmental Working Group, “Cleaning products can release a plethora of chemicals into the air including ones linked to asthma, developmental harm and cancer.” …

    “Any cleaners that use ammonia and chlorine bleach are highly toxic. Those containing hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, sodium or potassium hydroxide, or ethanolamine can cause skin burns, blindness and lung irritation. Air fresheners and scented products can trigger allergies and often contain suspected endocrine disruptors, such as phthalates. …

    “However, natural cleaners with active ingredients like thyme oil and citric acid have been approved for use as disinfectants against SARS-CoV-2 by both Health Canada and the US Environmental Protection Agency and pose significantly less health risks than chemical cleaners.”

    https://children shealthdefense.org/news/editorial/schools-must-go-back-to-normal-in-the-fall-a-scientists-perspective/

    GENERAL: PRESOAK RICE AND DRAIN WATER TO LOWER YOUR INTAKE OF CLASS 1 CARCINOGEN, INORGANIC ARSENIC

    “Rice … contains a much higher concentration of inorganic arsenic (iAs), a Class 1 carcinogen, than other grains or vegetables. ARS researchers in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, developed an effective procedure to reduce iAs levels by first soaking one part rice at 80°C in 10 parts water, which is discarded after 10 minutes, and then cooking the rice in two parts water. On average, a 40 percent reduction in iAs concentration was achieved by this method due to the higher solubility of iAs in the hot water …”

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/np108/Annual%20Report/NP%20108%202019%20Annual%20Report%20Final.pdf

    COPYRIGHT NOTICES

    UK: This email contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0. https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/copyright-parliament/open-parliament-licence/

    US: “With the exception of copyrighted articles, there are no restrictions on the republication of material from the Congressional Record.” https://www.govinfo.gov/help/crec

  • Beware Pelicans High on Domoic Acid whilst Driving Down California Highways; World Leaders Say a Forlorn 'Goodbye' to 2020

    1. BELARUS: LUKASHENKO CELEBRATES BELARUS BECOMING A NUCLEAR POWER
    2. CHINA: XI BIGS UP CHINA’S POSITIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH
    3. DENMARK: A TOUGH YEAR FOR SOUTH SCHLESWIG DANES
    4. ESTONIA: IT’S BEEN A ROUGH ONE, CLEARLY
    5. UKRAINE: PRESIDENT PRAISES NEW FRIENDS, NEW ROADS, ALSO DONBAS AND CRIMEA SHOULD PUT THEIR WATCHES ONTO UKRAINIAN TIME
    6. UNITED STATES: ARE YOU RESPIRATOR-PROOF?
    7. UNITED STATES: BEWARE DOMOIC-ACID AFFECTED PELICANS WHEN DRIVING DOWN CALIFORNIAN HIGHWAYS
    8. UNITED STATES: EPA WANTS YOU TO BUY A MOISTURE METER
    9. UNITED STATES: FISHERIES STOCKS AT RECORD HIGHS
    10. UNITED STATES: HOW TO SPLIT RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOLLOWING DIVORCE OR SEPARATION?
    11. UNITED STATES: MAKING THE CASE FOR MORE SPACE WEATHER RESEARCH FUNDING
    12. UNITED STATES: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION REPORT FROM 1987 ARCHIVED
    13. UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS ANTI-DOPING BILL INTO LAW
    14. UNITED STATES: SABLEFISH STOCKS AND LANDINGS DECLINE, AS DEMAND INCREASES FROM FASHIONABLE RESTAURANTS
    15. UNITED STATES: STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS AUTHORIZED TO CHERRY-PICK SCHOOL YEAR DATA TO BOOST MIGRANT EDUCATION PROGRAM BUDGETS
    16. EUROPEAN UNION, UNITED STATES: REACH OUT OF REACH?

    BELARUS: LUKASHENKO CELEBRATES BELARUS BECOMING A NUCLEAR POWER

    “Belarus has become a nuclear nation, has reached outer space, has launched the production of automobiles and electric cars, has opened a biotechnology company and a missile production facility, has developed IT.”

    “… At a time when people in wealthy countries line up in kilometer-long queues for bread, our farmers have supplied Belarusians with essential foodstuffs.”

    http://president.gov.by/en/news_en/view/new-year-address-25189/

    CHINA: XI BIGS UP CHINA’S POSITIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH

    “China is the first major economy worldwide to achieve positive growth, and its GDP in 2020 is expected to step up to a new level of 100 trillion yuan.”

    Yeah, thanks China!

    “… China has seen breakthroughs in scientific explorations like the Tianwen-1 (Mars mission), Chang’e-5 (lunar probe), and Fendouzhe (deep-sea manned submersible). Construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port is proceeding with vigor.”

    “In 2020, China made the historic achievement of establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieved decisive success in eradicating extreme poverty. We launched the final assault on the fortress of entrenched rural poverty, and cracked this “hardest nut.””

    Something to look out for next year:

    “2021 will see the 100th birthday of the Communist Party of China.”

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202012/31/WS5fedbdc2a31024ad0ba9fe76.html

    DENMARK: A TOUGH YEAR FOR SOUTH SCHLESWIG DANES

    Another New Year’s address was given by Queen Margrethe of Denmark:

    “This year, we were to have celebrated the centenary of the Reunification of South Jutland with Denmark. Like others, I had looked forward to the days of commemoration in July, but the corona epidemic made it impossible. We will now look forward to the coming summer in the hope that we can meet then.

    “Tonight, my thoughts go to the Danes in South Schleswig. Also for people in South Schleswig, this has been a difficult year with a partially closed border. I hope that the new year will bring us back to the close contact we are used to, and which is of so great importance on both sides of the border. …

    “The corona epidemic has also impacted on life in Greenland in the Faroe Islands. Thanks to a great effort and good understanding, both societies have been able to limit the outbreak of the disease. … The tourist industry, which in recent years has come to mean more and more for both societies, has almost ground to a halt – leading to huge economic losses.

    “Next summer, it is my hope to be able to visit both the Faroe Islands and Greenland once again.”

    https://kongehuset.dk/en/news/the-new-years-address-2020-0

    ESTONIA: IT’S BEEN A ROUGH ONE, CLEARLY

    From President Kersti Kaljulaid’s New Year’s address:

    “Inevitably at the end of every year, there will be those for whom the ending year has been sad and difficult. People whose voice is not audible. Loneliness. Loss. Poverty. Evil at home. Bullying at work or at school. Endless care for elderly parents or a disabled child. Disease with a bad prognosis. I hope that in the New Year all of us will have more time to think of those for whom tonight would not be a joyous day even without the worldwide pandemic.”

    https://news.err.ee/1221025/president-s-new-year-s-speech-no-one-is-alone

    UKRAINE: PRESIDENT PRAISES NEW FRIENDS, NEW ROADS, ALSO DONBAS AND CRIMEA SHOULD PUT THEIR WATCHES ONTO UKRAINIAN TIME

    One of the more poignant New Year’s greetings came from the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

    No official translation as yet, but worth watching for the presentation, and the hope of reuniting Ukraine.

    https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppduWDo_b3E

    UNITED STATES: ARE YOU RESPIRATOR-PROOF?

    “Before wearing a respirator, workers must first be medically evaluated using the mandatory medical questionnaire or an equivalent method.”

    “1. Do you currently smoke …

    “2. Have you ever had any of the following conditions? a. Seizures b. Diabetes … c. Allergic reactions that interfere with your breathing d. Claustrophobia … e. Trouble smelling odors …

    “3. Have you ever had any of the following pulmonary or lung problems? a. Asbestosis …

    “4. Do you currently have any of the following symptoms of pulmonary or lung illness? … c. Shortness of breath when walking with other people at an ordinary pace on level ground …

    “11. Do you currently have any of the following vision problems? a. Wear contact lenses …

    “This InfoSheet is not a standard or regulation …”

    Yours to enjoy!

    https://permanent.fdlp.gov/websites/www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3789info.pdf

    UNITED STATES: BEWARE DOMOIC-ACID AFFECTED PELICANS WHEN DRIVING DOWN CALIFORNIAN HIGHWAYS

    Yes.

    Remember Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’?

    It was based on a real event in which the eponymous birds may have been driven mad through consumption of crustaceans made toxic by their consumption of the phytoplankton ‘pseudo-nitzschia’.

    Then, in 2006, this happened:

    “A California brown pelican flew through the windshield of a motorist on the Pacific Coast Highway … likely the result of poisoning from domoic acid …”

    https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna13525699#.VmtONvkrJhE

    So, you might be interested to hear that,

    “Domoic acid, a toxin produced by the phytoplankton Pseudo-nitzschia, exceeded action levels in Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister) and razor clams (Siliqua patula) in Southern Oregon and some areas of Northern California, limiting fishery seasons in those areas.”

    https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo149622/noaa_27303_DS1.pdf

    “Are the birds gonna eat us, Mommy?”

    UNITED STATES: EPA WANTS YOU TO BUY A MOISTURE METER

    Why?

    It takes the guesswork out of knowing if wood is dry, seasoned, and ready to burn
    (below 20% moisture content).

    It’s cheap.

    “… at a hardware store for $15 – $40.”

    Of course, it makes sense to burn seasoned wood rather than greenwood:

    “… less wood to get the same amount of heat …

    Also,

    Split wood dries much faster than cleaner fire with more heat and less smoke [than] whole logs, and smaller pieces burn cleaner.

    But,

    Surely our mothers and fathers just seasoned wood by sticking it in the shed for six months, plus?

    Are we to go out an buy more plastic gadgets imported from China in the interests of environmental protection?

    https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPdf.cgi?Dockey=P1010E3L.pdf

    UNITED STATES: FISHERIES STOCKS AT RECORD HIGHS

    The California Current ecosystem “was strongly impacted by the major northeastern Pacific Ocean marine heat wave of 2013–16 (“the Blob”) and a major El Niño event of 2015–16. We considered late 2016 to 2018 to be “transitional” because many oceanographic indicators appeared to be shifting away from the highly unusual conditions.” p. ix.

    A good year for the anchovies.

    “Northern anchovy … abundances were among the highest ever observed in research surveys off Central and Southern California.”

    Overfishing concerns are diminishing.

    “All federally managed groundfish assessed in recent years have biomass estimates that are safely above the threshold for being declared “overfished …”

    However there were some concerns:

    “… very few krill off of California and Oregon …”

    “… very low numbers of juvenile groundfish …”

    “… below-average coho salmon returns …”

    And,

    “… Pyrosomes … were highly abundant …”

    Also,

    “Fishery landings have been variable over the past five years, although they have declined since a recent peak in 2017. Much of the landings during these recent years can be attributed to strong catches of Pacific hake (Merluccius productus), which made up ~70% of estimated landings in 2019.”

    The full report: https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo149622/noaa_27303_DS1.pdf

    UNITED STATES: HOW TO SPLIT RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOLLOWING DIVORCE OR SEPARATION?

    “In general, ERISA and the Code do not permit a participant to assign or alienate the participant’s interest in a retirement plan to another person. These “anti-assignment and alienation” rules are intended to ensure that a participant’s retirement benefits are actually available to provide financial support during the participant’s retirement years. A limited exception to the anti-assignment and alienation rules is provided for assignments of retirement benefits through qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs).”

    The following guide from 2014 has more:

    https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo145589/qdros.pdf

    UNITED STATES: MAKING THE CASE FOR MORE SPACE WEATHER RESEARCH FUNDING

    A Joint Hearing of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the House of Representatives met on 23 October 2019 to discuss space weather.

    The Fear Factor first.

    “… space weather disturbances can impact major sectors of society, including aviation, electric power, navigational satellites, and emergency management.”

    “Space weather can affect everything from electrical power systems, satellites, aircraft, space operations, including human spaceflight operations, and other ground and space-based systems. … severe space weather events pose a significant threat to our infrastructure, and in turn, to our economy, our national security, and our lives here on Earth.”

    Or, “life on Earth”, perhaps?

    Then there’s this:

    “It was October 17, 2003. I’m on the forecast desk and looking at the sun. There’s no sunspots. We need sunspots typically if we’re going to have big activity. I’ve got customers asking what is space weather going to look like for the next week. I say, well, pretty darn calmlooking right now. One week later we had three Jupiter-sized sunspot clusters. That’s about 10 times the diameter of Earth on the sun. These were intense Carrington-like very large complex sunspot groups. The bottom line is this. We have no real ability to predict that’s going to happen. If we could only understand a little bit about when these sunspots are going to emerge, and when they do start growing, when are they going to stop growing because that happens sometimes, too. We’ll have them grow in 1 day, 2 days later, and then it’s gone, but it is a big, big limitation. People ask us what’s going to happen a week or two from now. Well, we really don’t know at solar minimum, not much sunspot activity, solar max, but we cannot forecast those sunspots. And one last piece, when the sunspots do emerge and we know there’s potential for big eruptions, 5 minutes prior to the eruption, we don’t know it’s about to occur.”

    Eeek!

    So, to the demands,

    “… we need to invest in scientific research and sustained observations.”

    “… we need to understand at a national level what space weather observations and systems are needed.”

    “… we need a strategy …”

    “… we need to do a continued effort to transition our scientific models into operational platforms …”

    “… there is so much research still necessary to get us where we need to be.”

    Leading to the Law of Congress:

    Fear + Ignorance = More Funding

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-116hhrg38122/pdf/CHRG-116hhrg38122.pdf

    UNITED STATES: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION REPORT FROM 1987 ARCHIVED

    “On July 15, 1987 at 6:25 a.m., North Anna Unit 1 experienced a steam generator tube rupture while operating at 100% power. The unit was manually tripped by the operators, and an automatic safety injection actuation occurred on low pressurizer pressure at 6:36 a.m. Safety injection was terminated by the operators at 7:05 a.m. A small radioactive release to the environment occurred via the main condenser air ejector exhaust and the auxiliary feedwater pump turbine exhaust.”

    Subsequently,

    “The licensee downgraded the emergency classification from Alert to Recovery when the unit reached a cold shutdown condition at 1:31 p.m.”

    “In a meeting with industry representatives after the event, licensee management indicated a concern regarding the burden placed on the plant staff by NRC requests for information during the event.”

    https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo149392/Information%20Notice%20No.%2087-58%20Continuous%20Communications%20Following%20Emergency%20Notifications%20NRC.gov.html

    UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS ANTI-DOPING BILL INTO LAW

    “It shall be unlawful for any person, other than an athlete, to knowingly carry into effect, attempt to carry into effect, or conspire with any other person to carry into effect a scheme in commerce to influence by use of a prohibited substance or prohibited method any major international sports competition.”

    And there’s this:

    “There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section.”

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-116publ206/pdf/PLAW-116publ206.pdf

    UNITED STATES: SABLEFISH STOCKS AND LANDINGS DECLINE, AS DEMAND INCREASES FROM FASHIONABLE RESTAURANTS

    “The current study was undertaken … to perform an initial assessment of the financial viability of a sablefish aquaculture industry …”

    “During the 1990s, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, owner of the famed Nobu restaurant in New York City, introduced miso-glazed sablefish as its signature dish, with the dish symbolizing a new direction in Japanese cuisine. In 2007, former Nobu head chef Masaharu Morimoto popularized the dish during an episode of the television show Iron Chef America. More recently, sablefish has gained popularity with American sushi chefs, who consider it a healthier, more environmentally friendly alternative to unagi (freshwater eel)…”

    Yum.

    https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo149618/noaa_27225_DS1.pdf

    Of course, while the Department of Commerce works out how to get cheaper sablefish on to diners’ tables,

    “In compliance with the local mandate, our dine-in service is currently unavailable.”

    https://noburestaurants.com/downtown/contact-and-hours/

    UNITED STATES: STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS AUTHORIZED TO CHERRY-PICK SCHOOL YEAR DATA TO BOOST MIGRANT EDUCATION PROGRAM BUDGETS

    Now to Public Law 116-211,

    “To provide that, due to the disruptions caused by COVID–19, applications for
    impact aid funding for fiscal year 2022 may use certain data submitted in the
    fiscal year 2021 application.”

    The sort of law that few read.

    Section 3 reads,

    “… for the purposes of making determinations under subsections (a)(1) and (f) of such section 1303 for fiscal year 2021 and all subsequent fiscal years for which school year 2019–2020 data would be used in the calculations under section 1303(a)(1) of such Act, the Secretary of Education shall use school year 2018–2019 data or school year 2019–2020 data, whichever data are greater, wherever school year 2019–2020 data would otherwise be required.”

    Hmm.

    That phrase, “… whichever data are greater …”, is a bit of a crude stick.

    The budget for the Migrant Education Program is not entirely inconsequential, $374,751,000 in 2016.

    For reference, Section (a)(1) reads,

    “(a) … each State … is entitled to receive under this part an amount equal to the product of—

    “(1)the sum of—

    “(A)the average number of identified eligible migratory children aged 3 through 21 residing in the State, based on data for the preceding 3 years; and

    “(B)the number of identified eligible migratory children, aged 3 through 21, who received services under this part in summer or intersession programs provided by the State during the previous year; multiplied by …”

    So being able to pick between the higher of the two data is just a bung for state education departments.

    Straws.

    Backs.

    Camels.

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-116publ213/pdf/PLAW-116publ213.pdf

    EUROPEAN UNION, UNITED STATES: REACH OUT OF REACH?

    Some historical background first on legislating for toxins:

    “One of the first laws dealing with toxicology, passed in 82 BCE by the Roman Emperor Sulla, was intended to deter intentional poisonings because women were poisoning men to acquire their wealth.”

    More recently

    “The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was adopted in 1938, following an incident in which the Elixir Sulfanilamide, containing the poisonous solvent diethylene glycol, killed 107 persons, many of whom were children. The need to control chemical contamination was recognized in the 1976 when the U.S. Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to “prevent unreasonable risks of injury to health or the environment associated with the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of chemical substances”.”

    However,

    “TSCA became largely ineffective following court decisions and there is now an effort to pass chemical policy reform legislation. In 2016 Congress passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act [but] … this bill did not go into affect because of changes in the administration and the EPA.”

    While,

    “Europe has moved forward with REACH – Registration Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals, a system that requires testing and evaluation of chemicals before their introduction into commerce.”

    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a6e162f64b05f4a0d859674/t/5fb03e414cb723054188435e/1605385803565/A.small.dose.of.tox+404pp.11.08.20.pdf

    And yet,

    “But of the over 100,000 chemicals present on the EU market today, only a small fraction has been thoroughly evaluated by authorities regarding their health and environmental properties and impacts, and even fewer are actually regulated, e.g. REACH partially restricts or bans some 60 individual chemicals and some groups of chemicals with similar properties, such as carcinogens, mutagens and repro-toxic substances (CMRs).”

    https://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/non-toxic/pdf/NTE%20main%20report%20final.pdf

  • Ray Dalio Sees US Civil War Risk Nearing Parity; India Considers Mining Beaches for Nuclear Fuel

    1. BRUNEI: SULTAN OF BRUNEI BLASTS WORKPLACE DECADENCE AND WEAKNESS
    2. CHAD: CAPITAL N’DJAMENA GOES INTO LOCKDOWN OVER 400 CASES OF C19
    3. FIJI: FRENCH POLYNESIA SENDS HUMANITARIAN RELIEF SHIP TO FIJI FOLLOWING TROPICAL CYCLONE YASA
    4. INDIA: KERALA AND ODISHA BEACHES MAY BE MIND FOR NUCLEAR FUEL
    5. UNITED KINGDOM: FEWER THAN A THIRD OF THOSE ARRESTED FOR TERRORIST-RELATED ACTIVITY END UP BEING CHARGED
    6. UNITED STATES: AIRLINE PASSENGERS UNAWARE OF THEIR RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY
    7. UNITED STATES: CONGRESS BATTLES FOR BETTER BATTLEFIELD PROTECTION
    8. UNITED STATES: CRS REPORT HIGHLIGHTS LIKELIHOOD OF INCREASED SHIPPING AND MINERAL EXTRACTION IN ARCTIC IN COMING YEARS
    9. UNITED STATES: D.C. NATIONAL GUARD ACTIVATED IN RESPONSE TO PROTESTS
    10. UNITED STATES: FIREARMS EXPORTS EXCEED HALF A MILLION FOR THE FIRST TIME IN RECENT DECADES
    11. UNITED STATES: NASA INVESTIGATES MOTION SICKNESS CONCERNS IN URBAN AIR MOBILITY FLYING CAR FUTURE
    12. UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP INVITED TO GAB.COM AFTER TWITTER SUSPENSION
    13. UNITED STATES: RAY DALIO SEES CIVIL WAR RISK AT NEAR 50/50
    14. UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SUSPENDED FROM TWITTER… NOW IVANKA TRUMP’S TWEETS ARE ON THE WHITE HOUSE FRONT PAGE
    15. UNITED STATES: SPACE FLIGHT DOESN’T COME CHEAP. SO WHAT IF YOU COULD JUST BUY OFF-THE-SHELF PARTS?
    16. COPYRIGHT NOTICE

    UK: “Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.”

    BRUNEI: SULTAN OF BRUNEI BLASTS WORKPLACE DECADENCE AND WEAKNESS

    “His Majesty … expresses hope that a working culture of high integrity … will be practised by those serving in the public or private sector.”

    Moreover,

    “His Majesty stresses if the decadence and weakness of ethics and morals in carrying out trust are eliminated, InsyaAllah the country will be safe and always blessed towards success. …

    And in one of the world’s wealthiest nations,

    “His Majesty also touches on food security as a main agenda towards ensuring sufficient supply of basic food. His Majesty adds 2020 was a very challenging year for Brunei Darussalam and the whole world due to the massive impact of the Coronavirus on the world’s socioeconomy development.”

    Eeek.

    http://www.pmo.gov.bn/Lists/2020%20PMO%20News/NewDispForm.aspx?ID=132&Source=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epmo%2Egov%2Ebn%2FLists%2F2020%2520PMO%2520News%2FAllItems%2Easpx&ContentTypeId=0x0100F1B2992133ED444DA8029E024A0779AB

    CHAD: CAPITAL N’DJAMENA GOES INTO LOCKDOWN OVER 400 CASES OF C19

    “Le Ministre d’Etat, Ministre Secrétaire Général de la Présidence de la République a fait parler les chiffres, N’Djaména a enregistré en un mois plus de 400 cas de la COVID-19.”

    In consequence of which,

    “Le Ministre d’Etat, Ministre Secrétaire Général de la Présidence de la République, M. Kalzeubé Payimi Deubet a présidé cet après-midi, une réunion ayant regroupé les ministres chargés de l’application du décret portant confinement de la ville de N’Djaména et renforcement des mesures sanitaires.”

    When do rural places decide they really don’t need the cities for anything? What if farmers and fishermen were all to start working on their laptops?

    https:// presidence.td/confinement-de-ndjamena-le-memsgp-exige-lapplication-strict-du-decret/

    FIJI: FRENCH POLYNESIA SENDS HUMANITARIAN RELIEF SHIP TO FIJI FOLLOWING TROPICAL CYCLONE YASA

    “The consignment comprises of a total 64 tons of relief items, building materials and construction equipment and tools.”

    Good to see Pacific neighbours looking out for each other.

    Although they couldn’t resist a little building back better!

    “He said that the people and the Government of French Polynesia stands in solidarity with the people of Fiji as they aspire to build back better.”

    https://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Centre/News/FRENCH-POLYNESIA-PROVIDES-TC-YASA-RELIEF-ASSISTANC

    INDIA: KERALA AND ODISHA BEACHES MAY BE MIND FOR NUCLEAR FUEL

    Thorium salt nuclear reactors are a particularly interesting potential power source, with lower waste and safety concerns.

    Something that has not escaped the notice of the nuclear scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre:

    “India has a unique position in the world, in terms of availability of nuclear fuel resource. It has a limited resource of uranium but a large resource of thorium. The beach sands of Kerala and Orissa have rich reserves of monazite, which contains about 8 – 10% thorium.

    Thorium can be used to produce nuclear energy, but not directly due to its physics characteristics. It has to be converted to 233U in a nuclear reactor, before it can be used as fuel. … A Three-Stage Indian Nuclear Power Programme has been devised to utilise the available resources efficiently and in a sustainable manner.

    Work on thorium has been carried out right from the inception of our nuclear programme.”

    http://www.barc.gov.in/reactor/tfc.html

    Also, in 2017, the first Thorium Salt Reactors in over forty years in Europe were just turned on in the Netherlands.

    https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-have-conducted-the-first-thorium-salt-experiments-in-over-40-years

    UNITED KINGDOM: FEWER THAN A THIRD OF THOSE ARRESTED FOR TERRORIST-RELATED ACTIVITY END UP BEING CHARGED

    “Of the 215 arrests for terrorist-related activity in the year ending 30 September 2020:

    “62 (29%) resulted in a charge, of which 55 were charged with terrorism-related
    offences.

    Arrests for terrorism-related activity have also just dipped below their ten-year average.

    Incredibly, Algeria leads the way as the self-defined nationality of those non-Brits arrested for terrorist-related activity since 2001:

    Great Britain 2,953
    Algeria 194
    Iraq 173
    Pakistan 170
    Iran 92
    Afghanistan 92
    Somalia 83
    Turkey 81
    India 61
    Sri Lanka 58

    Figures for Great Britain include those of dual nationality, and do not take country of origin into consideration.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/file/942747/police-powers-terrorism-sep2020-hosb3820.pdf

    UNITED STATES: AIRLINE PASSENGERS UNAWARE OF THEIR RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY

    This from a Government Accountability Office Report from September 2020:

    “While regulations limit CBP’s collection of biometric information to certain in-scope foreign nationals entering and exiting the United States, CBP’s biometric entry-exit capabilities may also capture biometric data (facial images) from exempt foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. However, exempt foreign nationals and U.S. citizens are routinely able to “opt out” of using this technology to verify identity and can instead choose a manual check of documentation for identity verification. As such, we refer to individuals from whom CBP collects facial image data as international travelers or travelers throughout this report. Historically, CBP has not collected biometric data from U.S. citizens on arrival or departure from the United States. Currently, U.S. citizens are not exempt from its facial matching capabilities, although they may opt out, because CBP sees facial recognition technology as transforming the identity verification process generally from a manual document check by airline personnel (on exit) or CBP officers (on entry) into an automated process. According to CBP, automated facial recognition for identity verification can help ensure that U.S. citizen travelers are the person they claim to be when they present their passport.”

    Use it, or lose it.

    https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/709107.pdf

    UNITED STATES: CONGRESS BATTLES FOR BETTER BATTLEFIELD PROTECTION

    Some stats:

    “… of the 383 Civil War battlefields identified as national preservation priorities—
    (A) only at 31 battlefields is more than half of the surviving landscape permanently protected;
    (B) at 227 battlefields, less than half of the surviving landscape is permanently protected;
    (C) 65 battlefields have no protection at all; and
    (D) 113 battlefields have been severely hampered by development since the Civil War or are on the verge of being overwhelmed.

    Furthermore,

    “According to the 2007 Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States, prepared by the National Park Service, of the 243 principal Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields identified as national preservation priorities—
    (A) almost 70 percent lie within urban areas as denoted in the 2000 U.S. Census;
    (B) 141 are lost or extremely fragmented, with residential and commercial development being the chief threats;
    (C) 100 other battlefields retain significant features and lands from the period of battle, although on average these battlefields retain only 37 percent of the original historic scene;
    (D) of these 100 surviving but diminished battle landscapes, 82 are partially owned and protected by public and nonprofit stewards, although the extent of that protection varies from site to site;
    (E) 18 are without any legal protection;
    (F) the condition of two battlefields is unknown, with additional research and survey being required to determine their exact location and condition…

    HR 307 has passed the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources.

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CRPT-116hrpt627/pdf/CRPT-116hrpt627.pdf

    UNITED STATES: CRS REPORT HIGHLIGHTS LIKELIHOOD OF INCREASED SHIPPING AND MINERAL EXTRACTION IN ARCTIC IN COMING YEARS

    According to the Report, released earlier today:

    “The diminishment of Arctic ice could lead in coming years to increased commercial shipping on two trans-Arctic sea routes—the Northern Sea Route close to Russia, and the Northwest Passage close to Alaska and through the Canadian archipelago—though the rate of increase in the use of these routes might not be as great as sometimes anticipated in press accounts.”

    Also,

    “Changes to the Arctic brought about by warming temperatures will likely allow more exploration for oil, gas, and minerals.”

    The Arctic is increasingly shaping up to be a forum for Great Powers struggle.

    Read the 142 page report from the Congressional Research Service here:

    https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R41153

    UNITED STATES: D.C. NATIONAL GUARD ACTIVATED IN RESPONSE TO PROTESTS

    “Chairman Milley and I just spoke separately with the Vice President and with Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer about the situation at the U.S. Capitol. We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation. We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities. Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly.”

    https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2464427/statement-by-acting-secretary-miller-on-full-activation-of-dc-national-guard/

    Also,

    “… The law enforcement response will be led by the Department of Justice.”

    An odd choice, perhaps?

    https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2464309/statement-by-jonathan-hoffman-chief-pentagon-spokesman-on-dc-guard-mobilization/

    UNITED STATES: FIREARMS EXPORTS EXCEED HALF A MILLION FOR THE FIRST TIME IN RECENT DECADES

    In 2018, firearms exports were 554,237 units, the highest level since recent records began in 1986 according to the 2020 Firearms Commerce Report.

    Imports meanwhile came in at 4.0 million in 2019 down from their 2016 peak of 5.1 million in 2016. Import applications continued on their long-term downward decline.

    The top five sources of imported firearms were Brazil, Austria, Turkey, Italy and Germany. Handguns represented a majority of imported firearms.

    Overall sales in 2018 were down to 9.1 million from a recent peak of 11.5 million in 2016.

    Texas had the highest number of NFA registered weapons as of April 2020 at 830,109, while Rhode Island had the lowest at 4,784. The country’s most populous state, California had 386,795.

    https://www.atf.gov/file/149886/download

    UNITED STATES: NASA INVESTIGATES MOTION SICKNESS CONCERNS IN URBAN AIR MOBILITY FLYING CAR FUTURE

    The publication of a major literature review suggests that NASA is only beginning to turn its attention to this stuff.

    NASA has been interested in urban air mobility, or flying cars, for a while. The task is complicated by a lack of knowledge of the design of the urban air vehicles (UAVs) themselves.

    Nevertheless,

    “Should motion sickness prove to be an issue, vehicle design modifications such as having passengers face forward, providing additional seat recline, giving each person their own climate control for airflow, perhaps ensuring the horizon is visible to all passengers (reducing visual occlusion by the headrest) and visually stabilizing displays on carry-on devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) may benefit passengers.”

    Forward view is very important for countering motion sickness.

    For more on the topic:

    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20205009977/downloads/NASA_TM_20205009977.pdf

    UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP INVITED TO GAB.COM AFTER TWITTER SUSPENSION

    From the founder, Andrew Torba:

    “I’m going to be upfront with you: I am in the process of connecting with President Trump’s team as we speak. The President’s Gab account is already reserved with hundreds of thousands of followers.

    420,200 to precise.

    Unsurprisingly,

    “We need to massively expand our server capacity and very quickly.”

    https:// news.gab.com/2021/01/06/president-trump-on-gab-com/

    UNITED STATES: RAY DALIO SEES CIVIL WAR RISK AT NEAR 50/50

    In Chapter 8 of his major work, “The Changing World Order”, Ray Dalio discusses the current state of the United States:

    “The United States is now in Stage 5 and has not yet crossed the line into Stage 6 (the civil-war stage). Will populism and fighting between extremists go past the point of no return? Judging by the indicators the honest answer is that it is too close to call. Hardly anyone expects that the US will cross the line to have a civil war/revolution, though it could. Because the United States has a long tradition of working out disagreements within the system, precedent favors making changes within the system. In its 244-year history it has had only one civil war, several rather peaceful revolutions, … so it has shown great capacity to bend without breaking. …

    “The recent elections showed how split the country is—almost 50/50 along seemingly irreconcilable lines. …”

    Grimly,

    The periods of civil war are typically very brutal. Typically early in them these wars are forceful and orderly struggles for power, and as the fighting and emotions intensify and the sides do anything to win, the levels of brutality accelerate unexpectedly so the actual levels of brutality that occur in the Stage 6 civil wars and revolutions will have been considered implausible in Stage 5. … The elites and moderates flee, are imprisoned, or are killed.”

    https://www.principles.com/the-changing-world-order/#chapter9

    UNITED STATES: PRESIDENT TRUMP SUSPENDED FROM TWITTER… NOW IVANKA TRUMP’S TWEETS ARE ON THE WHITE HOUSE FRONT PAGE

    Yeap.

    “@IvankaTrump
    “The Trump Admin’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program has fed over 3.3B meals to families in need, saved jobs & supported our nation’s small farmers. I’m proud to announce that with an addt $1.5B we can continue to feed hungry families through this program during the pandemic.”
    “01/05/2021 12:19 pm

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/

    UNITED STATES: SPACE FLIGHT DOESN’T COME CHEAP. SO WHAT IF YOU COULD JUST BUY OFF-THE-SHELF PARTS?

    NASA has been giving this some thought.

    “The NESC team recognized that government control is not prerequisite anymore for high quality and reliability parts, especially when, in recent years, some manufacturers in commercial industry have developed rigorous process controls driven by advanced technologies and commercial market, often equivalent to or exceeding government controls on MIL-SPEC parts. It is equally important to note that this is not universally the case and may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.”

    More here:

    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20205011579/downloads/20205011579.pdf

    COPYRIGHT NOTICE

    UK: “Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.”

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