Home Blog

Officers and paramedics charged in death of Elijah McClain

0

A grand jury has returned a 32-count indictment against officers and paramedics involved in the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who was put in a chokehold by Aurora police and injected with a sedative during an August 2019 arrest, Colorado’s attorney general announced Wednesday. The charges include manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

McClain’s death gained widespread attention last year amid a national reckoning on police brutality and racial injustice that followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In June 2020, Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser launched an independent investigation into McClain’s death, and in January announced a grand jury would determine whether the officers and paramedics involved should be charged. A local district attorney had in 2019 declined to file charges, citing inconclusive evidence surrounding how McClain died.

Elijah McClain photo
Elijah McClain

Mari Newman


Weiser on Wednesday said two Aurora police officers, Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema, former police officer Jason Rosenblatt and Aurora Fire and Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lieutenant Peter Cichuniec have been charged with one count each of manslaughter and one count each of criminally negligent homicide. Two of the officers face additional assault and crime of violence counts, and the two paramedics also face assault counts, in addition to counts of recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon — the sedative ketamine. 

In addition, the paramedics face assault counts related to “intentionally causing stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical or mental impairment or injury” by administering ketamine to McClain without consent, for a purpose other than lawful medical treatment.

“Nothing will bring back my son, but I am thankful that his killers will finally be held accountable,” McClain’s father LaWayne Mosely said in a statement released to the Denver Post through his attorney, Mari Newman.  

McClain had been walking home from a convenience store wearing a ski mask when someone called 911 to report a suspicious person. Three arriving officers tried to arrest the unarmed man, using a carotid hold — a technique where pressure is placed on both sides of the neck — and tackling him to the ground. Aurora Fire Department personnel later injected him with the sedative ketamine. He suffered a heart attack and was later removed from life support.

Another independent investigation into McClain’s death, which was conducted by a consulting firm and wasn’t tasked with determining whether criminal wrongdoing occurred, found in February that officers used force or threat of force “nearly constantly” against McClain in the 18 minutes from the time police first approached him until he was placed on a gurney to be transported to the hospital. The officers justified the use of force by saying McClain resisted and showed extraordinary strength, but body cam audio portrayed a starkly different scenario, the report said.

“The audio captured by the body worn camera contains two sharply contrasting narratives — on the one hand, Mr. McClain pleading, apologizing, and expressing pain, and on the other hand, the officers continuing to perceive resistance,” the report found.

The report found that officers took McClain into custody within seconds of their interaction with him, failed to assess whether there was reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime had occurred, and continued to use force against McClain after it was justified. It found paramedics who responded didn’t didn’t immediately provide care to McClain, accepting the officers’ suggestion that he was experiencing “excited delirium” without evaluating him. Paramedics also overestimated McClain’s weight before administering the ketamine, affecting the weight-based calculation for dosage, the report found.

“Our department has the solemn duty to prosecute this case. Make no mistake, we recognize that this case will be difficult to prosecute — these types of cases always are,” Weiser said. “Our goal is to seek justice for Elijah McClain, for his family and friends, and for our state. In so doing, we advance the rule of law ad the commitment that everyone is accountable and equal under the law.”

Weiser said McClain “was a son, a nephew, a brother and a friend” who was only 23 when he died.

“He had his whole life ahead of him, and his family and friends must now go on and live without him,” Weiser said. “His death is a loss to all of us.”

In a statement released to CBS Denver, the Aurora Police Association said “our officers did nothing wrong.”

“McClain died due to a combination of exertion due to his decision to violently resist arrest and a preexisting heart condition,” the statement said. “He was alive and talking when the officers turned him over to EMS. There is no evidence that our officers caused his death.”

The three officers involved in McClain’s death were removed from patrol duty in June 2020. One, Rosenblatt, was later fired when he texted “haha” in response to a photo of other officers mimicking the chokehold used on McClain. The officers who took the picture were also fired.

Weiser’s office is continuing to investigate whether the Aurora Police Department has a pattern or practice of violating citizens’ civil rights.

No Azerbaijani citizens among victims of armed incident in Russia

0

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept. 20

Trend:

There are no Azerbaijani citizens among those killed in the armed incident that recently took place in Russian Perm city, Leyla Abdullayeva, spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, told Trend.

According to Abdullayeva, no information has been received that there are citizens of Azerbaijan among the killed and wounded.

“The issue is under the control of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia,” she added.

On the morning of September 20, an armed incident took place at the Perm State University, as a result of which at least six people died, and another 28 people were injured. The shooter was neutralized by a traffic police officer who arrived at the place of the incident.

Home season: Team India to play 4 Tests, 3 ODIs and 14 T20Is | Cricket News

0
NEW DELHI: The Indian cricket team will play 14 T20 Internationals and just four Tests at home between November 2021 and June 2022 as the BCCI announced its international itinerary, which features just three ODIs.
The teams that will visit India during the eight-month period are New Zealand (in November-December), West Indies (in February, 2022), Sri Lanka (February-March 2022) and South Africa (in June, 2022).
In between in December-January, India will be touring South Africa and the IPL will happen between April-May.
Against New Zealand, India will be playing two Tests and three T20Is while West Indies are due to play three ODIs and five T20Is.

Sri Lanka will play two Tests and three T20Is while South Africa will come for the shortest tour where they will play five T20Is in a space of 10 days.
“We have kept 14 T20Is because we have another T20 World Cup in Australia in a year’s time and we need to have adequate matches before the big event,” a BCCI official said.
The four Test matches will be held at Kanpur and Mumbai for the New Zealand series while Bengaluru and Mohali will host Sri Lanka in the traditional format.
As per the rotation system, most of the cities will be getting the 17 white-ball games that have been scheduled.
Jaipur, Ranchi, Lucknow, Vizag, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Cuttack, Trivandrum, Chennai, Rajkot, Delhi have all got matches.

climate pledge: HP, Procter & Gamble join companies pledge to cut emissions

0
Computer-maker HP, consumer goods business Procter & Gamble and coffee capsule company Nespresso have joined a corporate pledge to sharply cut their greenhouse gas emissions over nearly two decades.

The Climate Pledge, a grouping of companies and organizations spearheaded by Amazon, said Monday that it has signed up 86 new members for its voluntary measures. In total, the group now has 201 members with global annual revenues of more than $1.8 trillion, it said.

Other new members include telecoms company BT, truck-maker Scania and the Selfridges department store chain.

Together, the companies aim to cut almost 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2040 — more than 5% of the current global total.

While the group’s members are encouraged to eliminate as many emissions as possible, those that can’t be avoided need to be completely offset in the next two decades. That means paying for measures to ensure as many emissions are absorbed by then as the companies continue to emit.

Scientists say the world needs to achieve net zero’ emissions by 2050 if it wants to meet the Paris climate accord’s goal of keeping temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times.

Team Anarchy crowned champions of COD Mobile World Championship 2021: Europe Playoffs

0

The COD Mobile World Championship 2021: Europe Playoffs has ended. In the finals, Team Anarchy defeated Stamina Esports (STMN) to win the championship.

While the odds were stacked against Anarchy, they came out on top to take home the regional championship. The MVP for the event was Anarchy’s Quique, with 363 frags and a respawn kill ratio of 1.42.


Europe Playoffs

Stamina Esports had an exceptional start as they beat three teams to win the upper bracket finals of this COD Mobile event. In contrast, Anarchy fell short in their second round. As a result of their semifinal defeat to Oxygen Esports, Anarchy was demoted to the lower bracket.

Two wins in the lower brackets allowed them to reach the lower bracket finals, where they met Oxygen again. The momentum was with Anarchy as they whitewashed their previous vanquishers.

Due to STMN winning the upper bracket finals, the grand finals was stacked against Anarchy, as to win the tournament, they needed to defeat STMN twice. They pulled this feat off in the end with aplomb.

COD Mobile WC Europe Playoffs results
COD Mobile WC Europe Playoffs results

Match standings (All matches were played in a best-of-five format):

Upper Bracket Finals: STMN Esports vs Oxygen Esports: 3-0

  • Map 1: Standoff — Hardpoint — 150-87
  • Map 2: Firing Range — Search and Destroy — 6-3
  • Map 3: Crossfire — Domination — 150-92

Lower Bracket Finals: Team Anarchy vs Oxygen Esports: 3-0

  • Map 1: Takeoff — Hardpoint — 150-144
  • Map 2: Hackney Yard — Search and Destroy — 6-2
  • Map 3: Standoff — Domination — 150-85

Grand Finals: Team Anarchy vs STMN Esports

Match 1: Team Anarchy vs STMN Esports: 3-1

  • Map 1: Raid — Hardpoint — 150-79
  • Map 2: Standoff — Search and Destroy — 6-4
  • Map 3: Firing Range — Domination — 150-48
  • Map 4: Summit — Hardpoint — 150-48

Match 2: Team Anarchy vs STMN Esports: 3-0

  • Map 1: Summit — Hardpoint — 150-148
  • Map 2: Firing Range — Search and Destroy — 6-2
  • Map 3: Raid — Domination — 150-123
Anarchy vs SMNT ESports Grand Finals standings
Anarchy vs SMNT ESports Grand Finals standings

COD Mobile World Championship finalist from EU region

The top 2 qualified for the COD Mobile World Championship Finals. Nova Esports already qualified by winning the COD Mobile Masters Europe.

  1. STMN Esports
  2. Anarchy
  3. Nova Esports EU

Prize pool distribution of COD Mobile: Regional Playoffs EU

The prize pool of the regional playoffs was $50,000.

  • 1st Place (Champion): $15,000 – Anarchy
  • 2nd Place (1st Runners-Up): $10,000 – STMN Esports
  • 3rd Place: $8,000 – Oxygen Esports
  • 4th Place: $5,000 – QLASH Spain
  • 5th Place: $3,500 – Ranked Warrior
  • 6th Place: $3,500 – Bunker Esports
  • 7th Place: $2,500 – Tragik Esports
  • 8th Place: $2,500 – Alternate

Thirteen out of sixteen finalists for the COD Mobile World Championships have been selected. The two top Chinese teams and the SEA champion will join the world championship in the coming weeks.


Harry Kewell: Barnet sack manager after seven winless games in charge

0
Harry Kewell
Harry Kewell has completed a full season in charge at just one of the four clubs he has managed

Barnet have sacked manager Harry Kewell after only seven games in the job.

The 42-year-old failed to win any of his matches in charge of the Bees, who have lost five times and drawn twice in the National League this season.

Barnet are second from bottom of the table, with Dover – who started the season with a 12-point deduction – the only side below them.

Former Liverpool and Leeds winger Kewell has also managed Notts County, Oldham and Crawley Town.

“It was clear how much Harry Kewell wanted to have a positive impact, but ultimately the results and the poor start to the season have dictated our decision,” Barnet’s head of football Dean Brennan said in a statement.

“The plan for this season was for Barnet FC to be challenging in the top half of the table and that is still very much our aim.”

Struggling Bees look for another manager

Kewell’s assistant Paul Butler is also leaving the club, with Brennan taking over the first team temporarily and becoming the sixth person to be in charge of Barnet in 2021.

Tim Flowers began the year in charge but parted company in March, with Paul Fairclough and Gary Anderson each having a spell as caretaker boss before Simon Bassey became interim manager in April until the end of last season.

Having reached the play-offs after finishing seventh on average points in the Covid-19-affected 2019-20 season, Barnet struggled last term and finished third from bottom, only escaping relegation because the leagues below the National League were declared null and void for a second season because of the pandemic.

Kewell, who won the 2005 Champions League with Liverpool and played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Australia, said he would put “the club back on the right path and get going back in the right direction” when he took over in June.

But a 5-0 opening day defeat by former club Notts County set the tone for a difficult spell at The Hive, with draws away at Solihull Moors and at home to Eastleigh the only bright points in a season that has seen the Bees score seven goals and concede 19. They have found the net once in three home matches.

Kewell has won 38 games and lost 57 in a managerial career that began in 2017 at Crawley Town.

He led the club to a 14th-placed finish in League Two in his only full season in charge before leaving for Notts County, where he lasted 14 matches at the start of a season which ended with them being relegated from League Two.

Kewell returned to management at the start of last season with Oldham, winning 17 of 41 games until his sacking in March.

Around the BBC - SoundsAround the BBC footer - Sounds

Cheers and Jeers: Monday

0

Ten years ago today, the U.S. Army became the first military branch to officially announce that “Today marks the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve.” And since then, Tony, we’ve done a lot more than just parades:

»  We lost the war in Afghanistan.

»  We turned Iraq over to Iran sympathizers.

»  We abandoned our Kurdish allies.

»  We’ve bombed and killed more civilians than we can count.

» We’ve moved at a snail’s pace to deal with the epidemic of heterosexual male servicemembers sexually assaulting female servicemembers. 

»  And a whole bunch of military veterans, including sitting senators and representatives, took part in or actively supported, at the urging of a two-bit grifter president who frequently called servicemembers who died while protecting their country “losers” and “suckers,”  an attempt to overthrow the United States government.

See? Even with the DADT repeal, the military didn’t skip a beat. So I’ll tell ya what, Tony. Next time you plan on opening your big mouth to say something stupid like allowing gays in the military will lead to “just parades”? Don’t.  (Although that sure would be a refreshing change.)

And now, our feature presentation…

Cheers and Jeers for Monday, September 20, 2021

Note: Always get anything agreed to on a Monday in writing.  Can’t trust that day.  —Judge Judy

InternationalDayofsignlanguages.png
4 days!!!

By the Numbers:

Days ’til International Day of Sign Languages: 4

Days ’til the debut of Apple TV’s The Problem with Jon Stewart: 10

Increase in retail sales last month versus July: 0.7%

Increase in retail sales versus a year ago: 15.5%

Number of recreational visits to Yellowstone National Park last month, a record for the month of August: 920,000

Time it takes for sunlight to reach the earth: 8 minutes, 20 seconds

Percent chance that a Republican will compare apples to oranges during any given political policy discussion: 99.2%

Puppy Pic of the Day: Want a souvenir from the historic Inspiration4 space flight and also support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital? Your own space puppy awaits adoption…

JEERS to the loneliest place on earth. Imagine being one of the jailed January 6th insurrectionists, and turning on the TV Saturday afternoon to see how many thousands—tens of thousands! of your fellow red-hatted freedom fighters showed up at the Capitol to demand your immediate release and exoneration, only to see that almost no one showed up. Man, talk about a bummer. But, there it is, guys and gals: your rescue party…

September18rally.jpg

Even worse: the files that were baked into in all the cakes delivered to the incarcerated cultists over the weekend were just thumb drives containing the Hamster Dance. Man, you give the MyPillow guy one job…

CHEERS to gravity-defiance but in reverse. You can seal it in the history books, folks. (Well, at least until Texas decides that Critical Space Theory is demonic and must be purged from all the history books, but I digress.) A quartet of lucky ducks went up into the cosmos in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, circled the globe at an altitude higher than the Space Station, and then safely splashed down on Saturday, making them the first all-civilian gaggle (Pod? Colony? Pack? Pillaging horde?) to emulate Mercury astronaut John Glenn’s landmark feat 60 years ago:

The group’s space trip ended with a splashdown at about 7:07 p.m. EST in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida. …

SpaceXInspiration4splashdownSeptember2021.jpg

After Crew Dragon splashed down, it was hoisted onto the deck of SpaceX’s Go Searcher support ship and hazards, like any leftover toxic hypergolic propellants, were cleared before the hatch was opened. After a brief checkup from a physician, the four-person crew climbed out of their scorched Crew Dragon capsule and prepped for a helicopter flight back to the mainland.

Those four are now the luckiest civilians on Planet Earth today. Mainly because they can now win every single family or workplace argument with: “Oh yeah? Well have you been to outer space? I have!” I hate to admit it, but…they’ve got a point.

JEERS to the nexus of fear and politics. On today’s date in 2001, Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania was named by President Bush to head the new Office of Homeland Security. During his tenure the color-coded terror alert system was created and, depending on which Tom Ridge you believe, the system was either manipulated by the Bush administration to influence the outcome of the 2004 election or not manipulated by the Bush administration to influence the outcome of the 2004 election.  Hint: The second Tom Ridge tied up the first Tom Ridge and locked him away in the attic with a rubber ball in his mouth and he was never seen again.

BRIEF SANITY BREAK

END BRIEF SANITY BREAK

CHEERS to world peace…or a semi-close approximation thereof. If it’s autumn in New York, that means it’s General Assembly time! All the leaders of the universe are assembling at the United Nations for the 76th time in the annual contest to see which one can be the biggest public nuisance.

United-Nations-Building-Exterior-NYC.jpg
True Fact: The land for the United Nations building was donated by me without regard for its net worth. Also I paid for the third flagpole from the left.

This year’s event likely won’t be nearly as looney-toons as it was back when we had some real unstable goofballs wandering the hallways: Hugo Chavez (dead), Muammar Ghaddafi (dead), Mahmud Ahmadinejahd (now working the fry vat at the Tehran McDonald’s), Donald Trump (wedding crasher), and even Benjamin Netanyahu (now blessedly powerless and facing possible prison time for crimey stuff). Maybe that Brazilian wacko—who intends to show up unvaccinated—will drop some jaws, who knows. But perhaps the lack of nutty showboaters might mean something constructive may actually get done—a boy can dream.

Then, as custom now dictates, the General Assembly will close the session later this week with their time-honored tradition: the annual shredding of the diplomats’ unpaid parking tickets.

CHEERS to filling in for your boss. On this date in 1881, Chester Alan Arthur of the gilded and foppish Republican party was sworn in as the 21st president of the United States, following the unexpected meeting of an assassin’s bullet and James Garfield’s spine. (Or, more accurately, Garfield’s spine and his medical team’s unwashed hands.)

Arthurbath.jpg
Arthur

The Chicago Tribune wrote of Arthur what it could easily be writing today about our previous president: “It requires a great deal for him to get to his desk and begin the dispatch of business. Great questions of public policy bore him. No President was ever so much given to procrastination as he is.” In Arthur’s defense, he suffered from an energy-robbing condition called Bright’s Disease, and he died of it shortly after leaving the White House. Trump, on the other hand, suffers from an even worse condition. It’s called Being Donald Trump Disease.

Ten years ago in C&J: September 20, 2011

JEERS to the end of an era. Inevitable but still unbelievable: as of Sunday, Borders Books & Music has ceased to exist. You can read all about it. Sadly, not at Borders.

And just one more…

CHEERS to our battered, bruised, and brittle parchment of liberty. I’m told it’s unconstitutional to allow a year to go by without acknowledging Constitution Day. So here we are, just a few days late. It was 234 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by delegates from 12 states. And you can thank a wily West Virginia Democrat for keeping it top-of-mind:

Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and learn more about our founding document.

Senator Byrd once said, “Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world.” … In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution.

Fun facts:

» At 81, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, and at 26 Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest.

U.S.Constitutiontake1forATT.png
Someone take that poor thing to OfficeMax and laminate it.

» The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping.

» More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty three have gone to the states to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.

» The boogers stuck to the document represent the Dred Scott, Bush v. Gore and Citizens United decisions, along with the language about the electoral college.

Got what it takes to be a constitutional scholar? Take the 10-question quiz here and the 50-question mega quiz here.

It should be noted that Republicans care very deeply about the Constitution, and pledge to fight tooth and nail for every single word. But, oddly, only During Democratic presidencies.

Oh, and apparently Canada is voting in elections today. May the best Justin Trudeau win. Have a tolerable Monday. eh. Floor’s open…What are you cheering and jeering about today?

Today’s Shameless C&J Testimonial

Pope Francis said Wednesday he didn’t understand why people refuse to splash in the Cheers and Jeers kiddie pool, saying “humanity has a history of friendship with Bill in Portland Maine,” and that serene discussion about rubber duckies was necessary to help them.

—AP

Outback tourism in Queensland lures school groups

0

Published on : Monday, September 20, 2021

Outback tourism in Queensland lures school groups

When a south-east Queensland school’s annual year 6 trip to Canberra got dampened by COVID-19, they resorted to a last-minute switch to the outback.

There are more flies in the western Queensland town of Longreach, located more than 1,000kms north-west of Brisbane. However, surprisingly, the kids were not complaining about the switch.

Camden Park Station’s Dan Walker — better known as ‘Outback Dan’ — enlightened children about life on the land as well as the outback essentials of swag constructing, whip cracking, damper making, and building bonfire before a night camping out under the stars.

“You can really resonate with those kids, their eyes are opened up, there’s a bit of saying of disconnect to reconnect,” he said.

For the tourism market, South-east school groups are just one of the new demographics that prior to the pandemic remained dominated by grey nomads.

Mr. Walker explained that families, travel groups, and couples who love travel overseas were travelling out west for the first time.

“Definitely there’s been a big change in the visitors to Longreach and the outback, and what they are experiencing here is world-class … the grey nomads are still coming, which is lovely to see, but we’ve got a wider market now,” he said.

Posts

Tags: queensland

Of Course We Should All Get Boosters

0

The hubbub for the past few weeks in the U.S. has been all about whether or not the government should recommend that people get booster shots for Covid-19. Conflicting messages have emerged, with some officials saying boosters will be recommended, and others saying boosters are unnecessary or premature.

Just this past Friday, an expert panel at the FDA recommended boosters for people over 65 and for immunocompromised people, but not for anyone else.

But here’s the thing: boosters obviously help to fight Covid-19. In all the objections I’ve read, I can’t find any credible scientific or medical reason not to get a booster. All else being equal, you should get a booster vaccine, probably around 6-8 months after your second shot (if you had a 2-shot vaccine).

The confusion–and the arguments–derive from that little phrase I threw in there, “all else being equal.” You see, it’s really not controversial that a booster vaccine provides better immunity against an infection. We already have boosters for other vaccines, and there’s a wealth of very strong evidence showing that they work. For the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, we have some early data showing that they, too, provide an excellent boost in antibody levels, which means (almost certainly) that the recipients of the boosters have better protection against Covid-19.

Indeed, a just-published Israeli study shows that in people over 60, the risk of severe disease drops nearly 20-fold and the rate of infection drops by a factor of 11 after a booster shot. (The study only looked at people over 60 because they were the only ones who got boosters.)

So yes, boosters work. The best arguments against them, scientifically, are that we don’t yet know exactly how well they work. That’s merely because these vaccines have only existed for a short time, so of course we haven’t had time to collect much data. But all the data that we do have is positive. So I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that the evidence in favor of boosters is only going to get stronger.

But all else is not equal. What’s not equal is access to the vaccines. In the U.S., we have an excess supply, so much that pretty much anyone can get a vaccine by simply walking into one of several national-chain pharmacies, without even making an appointment. And that includes those who want a third shot (an unauthorized booster).

Meanwhile, though, many countries still face a severe shortage of vaccines. In most of Africa, for example, only 1-2% of people have received even one dose of any vaccine. Just this week, President Biden authorized a purchase of 500 million Pfizer vaccines that the U.S. will ship to other countries, and we’re going to need more. The pandemic is a worldwide crisis, and as long as the virus is circulating widely in any country, it is a threat to everyone.

Thus the argument against boosters is not a scientific one. The argument is really about where to ship the vaccines that we have. For example, as several vaccine experts wrote in this Lancet article last week, “even if some gain can ultimately be obtained from boosting, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated.”

The only problem with that statement is the use of “even if”: we already know that boosting almost definitely provides a benefit, so they should have acknowledged that fact.

So the question about boosting really should be a different one: what should the U.S. do with its abundant vaccine supply? Should it allow people to get a booster shot, which is clearly beneficial? Or should we make sure those shots go to people who haven’t yet been vaccinated at all?

It’s perfectly reasonable to argue, as some have, that we should get first shots into people’s arms before we start administering 3rd shots. If the choice is 1st shot versus booster, then yes, we need people to get their first shot. But that doesn’t justify any statements playing down the benefits of booster shots.

And is that really the choice? Well, no. At the moment, the U.S. is wasting millions of shots per month, most of them in retail pharmacies that aren’t using their full supply. The vaccines expire quickly, and it’s simply impossible to manage the supply so that all doses are used. At a minimum, we could offer the extra doses (at the end of each day, say) as 3rd shots to anyone who wants them. The alternative is to throw them away.

So to the public health authorities who are saying “no” or “not yet” to boosters: cut it out! You know very well that boosters almost certainly work, and you also know that in a year or two, we’ll likely be recommending boosters for everyone. When that time rolls around–and it will–people will be asking, quite reasonably, why you are contradicting yourself? And you can be sure that the anti-vax crowd will queue up every quote they can find in which government officials expressed any doubt about boosters.

We saw a near-identical version of this scenario play out very early in the pandemic, only then it was over masks. In early 2020, few prominent public health officials in the U.S. made ill-advised statements that people shouldn’t wear masks. They were worried that we didn’t have an adequate supply of masks, but they knew perfectly well that masks helped prevent transmission of the virus. Even so, they made statements casting doubt on masks, thinking that this would help preserve the very limited (at that time) supply. Those statements were truly damaging, and they contributed to the toxic anti-mask movement in the U.S. today.

The same thing seems to be happening again. The public health experts speaking out against boosters are worried about the supply of vaccines. So they are making statements casting doubt on the efficacy of boosters, statements that are potentially very damaging. For example, the recent Lancet piece states that “currently available evidence does not show the need for widespread use of booster vaccination.” But in the same article they admit that widespread boosting “might ultimately be needed because of waning immunity.”

Vaccine booster shots work, and the experts know it. To fight this pandemic, we need more vaccines, including boosters. We don’t need more misinformation.

What does Facebook mean when it says it supports “internet regulations”?

0

Erin Simpson, associate director for technology policy at Washington, D.C.–based think tank The Center for American Progress, had a message for Facebook. Last year, she co-wrote a pair of reports advising major social media platforms, like Facebook, on how to better address the twin crises of election delegitimization and health misinformation.

But Facebook has also been pushing a message at her.

For more than a year, Simpson had been noticing ads pop up with the same phrasing: Facebook “supports updated internet regulations,” the ads always said.

The ads appeared in podcasts and on TV. A few months ago, when she went to the grocery store to make a copy of a key, Simpson was startled to see that even the key copying machine was flashing the message.

“These ads follow me everywhere,” Simpson said.

“How is it here? I’m at Safeway and it’s on the key copying machine. It’s taunting me.”

For years, Congress has debated how to best regulate the tech giants that hold an increasing amount of control over human communication. But no comprehensive legislation dictating their behavior has been passed in a generation. According to a slew of ads like the one Simpson saw, along with public statements, blog posts, op-eds, and congressional testimony from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook would very much like to change that. The company, which spent $2.26 billion on advertising last year, has maintained a consistent public message: Facebook is not the one slowing down internet regulation in this country, and the company would certainly welcome reasonable curbs on its power.

Key copying enthusiasts and members of Congress aren’t the only targets for this message. Facebook has peppered its own platform with a PR campaign aimed at users.

The Markup has seen the ads turn up repeatedly on the Facebook feeds of our Citizen Browser panel, a group of some 1,800 users that automatically share their news feed data with us. Of the 1,000 most common ads appearing on our panelists’ feeds between Nov. 1, 2020, and Aug. 27 of this year, just one ad was from Facebook itself: “It’s been 25 years since comprehensive internet regulations were passed,” the text of the ad says. “It’s time for an update.”

Targeting information collected by Citizen Browser showed the ads were aimed at users interested in “politics” and, where additional ideological targeting was available, largely to “people in the USA who are likely to engage with liberal political content.”

But why is Facebook pushing for “regulations” that would curb its own power, and what exactly are the regulations it supports?

The ads are not explicit, but proposals and pieces of proposals laid out on Facebook’s regulations hub, which is linked in the Facebook ads, as well as in op-eds and congressional testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, offer some insight into what Facebook wants. Facebook also provided additional materials directly when The Markup reached out for information.

In short, Facebook’s proposals seem to consist largely of implementing requirements for content moderation systems that Facebook has previously put in place, potentially forcing competitors to do work Facebook has already done. While there are instances, in some cases, of Facebook asking for guidance on how certain thorny questions should be handled, most of Facebook’s proposals seem unlikely to fundamentally change how the company itself does business.

For skeptics about Facebook’s efforts, like Nathalie Maréchal, who does work on platform accountability at the New America Foundation’s Ranking Digital Rights project, the biggest problem with Facebook’s proposals are the things it doesn’t mention—the nonpolitical advertising that is the core of Facebook’s business.

“The bigger picture here is that as long as everyone is focused on user content and all of its discontents, we are not talking about advertising. We are not talking about the money,” Maréchal explained. “It’s a PR blitz to get lawmakers and other policy-adjacent people to believe that Facebook is not standing in the way of change.”

Why is Facebook saying it wants regulation?

Surveys show Americans are broadly supportive of imposing new regulations on social media platforms. For example, a recent Morning Consult poll found that more than three-quarters of Democrats and more than half of Republicans would back legislation holding platforms accountable for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.

Lawmakers around the country have taken notice of that sentiment. There were 31 state-level bills introduced this year regarding digital privacy. Lawmakers in 18 states have introduced bills this year that would penalize social media platforms for taking down political content, most of which were introduced after former president Donald Trump was suspended from the major social media platforms for provoking violence in the wake of the 2020 election.

There’s also been action at the federal level, with legislation like Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ben Luján’s Health Misinformation Act or Sens. Brian Schatz and John Thune’s Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act. Last year, the House Antitrust subcommittee issued a blistering report calling out Facebook for anti-competitive practices, and the Biden administration has pursued ongoing investigations into the company’s practices.

Regulation, it seems, is in the air. Facebook, experts say, has a strong incentive to get out in front of it while also steering the conversation about new rules to the areas where it’s comfortable seeing tighter government controls and away from areas where it isn’t.

“Facebook is just reading the tea leaves,” Simpson said. “And they’re trying to put themselves in a position where they think they would have some credibility in the legislative conversation by saying that they’re interested in policy—not that they’re reflexively against it.”

When The Markup reached out to Facebook asking for details on its regulatory proposals, spokesperson Rachel Holland replied with a statement highlighting how Facebook developed its moderation processes.

“Facebook regularly works with external stakeholders when developing our Community Standards to balance competing interests, such as freedom of expression, safety, and privacy,” Holland said. “Depending on the topic, we will continue to work with subject matter experts, civil society organizations, and law enforcement, among others, to develop robust content policies that keep communities safe and apply to a global user base.”

Facebook isn’t the first technology company to publicly push for greater regulation. Microsoft, for example, has been a major supporter of tighter regulations on the use of facial recognition technology. A law passed in the company’s home state of Washington last year regulating facial recognition technology was sponsored by a lawmaker who literally worked for Microsoft.

Facebook spent nearly $20 million lobbying the U.S. government last year, making it the sixth-highest spender of any organization. However, Sen. Mark Warner, who has introduced severalbills about regulating big tech platforms, said Facebook hasn’t been doing a lot of the things savvy corporations do when they want their favored legislation passed.

“There’s no doubt that Facebook, like other industry giants, knows exactly what it takes to get a bill passed and signed into law. Unfortunately, despite a pervasive ad campaign designed to tout its support for updated internet regulations, Facebook’s proactive engagement has been limited and it has continued to sponsor a number of groups focused on undermining regulatory proposals,” Warner told The Markup. “As we continue to try to bring internet law into the 21st century, I invite Facebook to engage meaningfully with my office on this complex issue.”

Facebook’s  campaign is more than political; it’s public relations, said Matt Navarra, a U.K.-based social media consultant who produces a newsletter and podcast about social platforms. Facebook’s decision to go directly to the public with its legislative message, in addition to its lobbying, he said, is part of a larger shift in brand marketing, largely enabled by social platforms like Facebook.

“It wasn’t so many decades ago that if a company had a big issue it was trying to influence, it would just stick to the usual routes of lobbying ministers and making their products seem super amazing,” Navarra explained. “Now it’s easy to build a community around a cause and activate people. We’ve seen a shift in how people communicate and engage with each other because of those platforms, and that’s led to a shift in why companies want to reach consumers with these messages.”

What exactly is Facebook proposing?

Facebook’s ad campaign centers on the Communications Decency Act. The 1996 law has a provision, Section 230, which makes websites generally not liable for the content posted by users and provides the legal basis platforms use to justify their content moderation policies. Section 230 is widely considered the guiding legal principle for the modern internet; since many people across the political spectrum have qualms about the modern internet, Section 230 has become something of a flashpoint.

Facebook’s ads, which often at least obliquely reference Section 230, wisely don’t mention many of the specific reasons people might be upset enough with Facebook to desire new rules governing its conduct. Instead, the ads focus on the law’s age. The quarter-century since its passage is an eternity in internet years.

In testimony before Congress in March, Zuckerberg proposed that the law should be updated to require tech platforms to have certain content moderation policies and systems in place to catch “unlawful content and activity on their platforms.” If those systems exist, platforms can continue to enjoy all the protections—meaning essentially zero liability for anything that’s posted on their platforms—of Section 230.

He went on to ask Congress to pass legislation to “bring more transparency, accountability, and oversight to the processes by which companies enforce their rules about content that is harmful but legal.”

While Zuckerberg’s testimony doesn’t go into detail, proposals in Facebook’s public-facing policy documents, conveniently, mostly happen to be things that Facebook already put in place following public pressure. Some are things already required of the company by laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

These processes, outlined here, include:

  • Allowing users to report problem content and having a content moderation program in place—both of which Facebook alreadydoes.
  • Having some form of external body evaluate content moderation standards and also provide oversight on enforcement decisions. Facebook already has an oversight board.
  • Publishing content moderation standards, which Facebook began doing after those standards were leaked to The Guardian.
  • Providing transparency into how content moderation standards are set, which Facebook has done since 2018 by publishing the minutes of the internal meetings where its content policy is set (although those minutes were eventually replaced by glossy, less informative slide presentations).
  • Giving users input on content rules, which Facebook at least ostensibly does through its “Stakeholder Engagement” process.
  • Allowing affected users to appeal content moderation decisions, a process Facebook implemented in 2018.
  • Requiring responses to all user-initiated content reports, which Facebook users can track the status of on the platform.
  • Notifying users when their content is removed, which Facebook does.
  • Disclosing publicly aggregate content enforcement numbers, which Facebook has been doing quarterly for years, with companies potentially getting hit with more oversight or even sanctions if the prevalence of offending content on their platform hits a certain threshold.

The documents in Facebook’s regulation hub also spell out a handful of things Facebook doesn’t want to see in new rules.

The company says it is against requiring platform moderators to pre-approve user content before it can be posted, short time frames for taking down content, the criminalization of misinformation, and any kind of specific product design mandates. Facebook also says that, ideally, any content moderation requirements should scale up with size, giving smaller platforms more leeway than larger ones.

Facebook singled out existing proposals for regulating political ads to combat foreign interference—the DETER Act and the Honest Ads Act—as ones it supports, although, as Quartz reported, Facebook simultaneously claimed to back the Honest Ads Act in public while lobbying against its passage in private.

The company favors passing federal privacy legislation modeled very closely on privacy rules already on the books in Europe. “I believe it would be good for the internet if more countries adopted regulation such as GDPR as a common framework,” Zuckerberg wrote in a 2019 Washington Post op-ed.

In that same op-ed, he supported requiring platforms to have data portability, which is the idea that, as Zuckerberg wrote, “if you share data with one service, you should be able to move it to another.”

An element of data portability is mandated as part of the GDPR and the CCPA, and in the op-ed, Zuckerberg highlighted Facebook’s support for the Data Transfer Project, an open-source initiative creating a common framework for sharing user data among online service providers. Facebook has a tool for users to port things like their photos and posts but doesn’t currently offer the ability to move users’ friends lists to other services, as some have called for as a way to more meaningfully increase competition.

In addition to requiring some measure of data portability, Facebook said it hopes the government provides guidance on some of the privacy issues surrounding moving data across platforms, particularly when moving one person’s data also involves transferring information about other users. For example, what happens if someone ports their friends list from a social network where people can go by pseudonyms to one where everyone uses their real name? That could expose people’s real identities without their consent.

Daphne Keller, director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, said this desire for clarity is likely born out of regulatory inconsistencies surrounding data portability under E.U. law that the company wouldn’t want to see replicated under U.S. law. “They wanted people to stop asking them for incompatible things, for someone with authority to tell them what the real answer is,” Keller said. “They don’t care what it is. They just want someone to decide so they’re not in an impossible position.”

Could passing Facebook’s proposals actually be harmful? 

Offering already implemented policy changes, said Maréchal of Ranking Digital Rights, lets Facebook crowd out tougher legislation, like a proposed bill that would require transparency in targeted digital advertising. The bill, which has not yet come up for a vote, popped up in May in the wake of Facebook’s cutting off access to NYU researchers studying ad targeting on the platform. Many of Facebook’s now favored policies, Maréchal noted, were pushed by public interest groups over the course of a decade before Facebook finally implemented them. “They’re conceding on a point that they’ve already lost,” she said.

And new regulations might very well hurt competitors more than they hurt Facebook.

Even just dragging GDPR across the pond from Europe, as Facebook suggests, would trigger significant compliance costs from U.S. companies. While major players with big European footprints, like Facebook and Google, have GDPR compliance all squared away, Keller notes that many other U.S. firms would almost certainly have to invest significant resources to survive an investigation by European regulators.

Scaling these requirements up as companies grow, as Facebook suggests, is a common feature in this type of legislation.

However, Aaron Mackey, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has written critically about Facebook’s proposals, worries that setting up a regulatory framework where the end goal is to be like Facebook directly encourages an internet where everything works like Facebook.

“Not every large social media service desires or aspires to be like Facebook or even aspires to monetize their users in a certain way. That’s a problem too, this idea that the law should be modeled off of one individual company and the way they have developed their business model,” Mackey said. “There are a lot of for-profit or community-led or individual-led user-generated services and social networks that don’t have that model and they don’t aspire to be like Facebook.”

Facebook’s proposals haven’t seemed to gain much traction on Capitol Hill. After Zuckerberg put forward these ideas in congressional testimony earlier this year, Politico talked to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who were deeply skeptical of his intentions.

“Mark Zuckerberg knows that rolling back section 230 will cement Facebook’s position as the dominant social media company and make it vastly harder for new startups to challenge his cash cow,” Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat who was an original author of Section 230, told Politico.

“Section 230 reform will hit Facebook regardless of what these self-interested Silicon Valley CEOs want,” concurred Republican senator Marsha Blackburn, also to Politico. “Big Tech only wants reform when it bolsters their power at the expense of competitors.”

Additional reporting by Corin Faife

This article was originally published on The Markup by Aaron Sankin and was republished under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license.