Most Opioid Settlement Funds Aren’t Going to Addiction Services – Reason.com

Attorneys general from across the country reacted to the opioid crisis by taking big pharmaceutical companies to court. The fund they won, they promised, would be spent on addiction services, thus working to end the crisis. “This settlement helps hold these companies accountable for their role in contributing to the opioid epidemic and will provide Floridians struggling with opioid addiction the services they need to recover,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared in July, after agreeing to a massive settlement with the McKesson Corporation.

But that’s not how the story has been working out.

Since 2011, the United States has seen spikes in fentanyl overdoses. They killed an estimated 93,000 people in the last year alone. The popular media narrative is that this crisis was caused by Purdue pharma’s OxyContin and the company’s marketing push to use addictive opioids to treat chronic and acute pain. This wrongly puts the blame on patients while ignoring public health authorities’ role in creating this addiction epidemic. Nor does it recognize how public health agencies (in particular, the FDA) made an addiction crisis lethal by forcing Purdue to reformulate oxycontin to be abuse-deterrent, thus pushing millions of casual drug users onto more dangerous black-market substances. Nevertheless the pharma-only narrative has been a winner in court. Thousands of state and local governments have sued pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, winning billions.

The largest of these settlements is this year’s McKesson/AmerisourceBergen/Cardinal Health settlement, worth $26 billion. Their alleged transgression, which the companies still dispute, is to not do enough to stop suspicious opioid orders. When the settlement is finalized, it will account for most of the 3,000 or so opioid lawsuits nationwide and will be the second largest settlement in U.S. history—with a whopping $2.3 billion allocated for lawyer fees and expenses.

Then there’s the $12 billion settlement with Purdue pharma, over the company’s negligence and mismarketing of Oxycontin and other drugs. Under the bankruptcy settlement terms, Purdue is dissolved, its assets are now managed by a public benefits firm, and the former owners (the Sackler family) are on the hook for $4.5 billion. Both settlements provide some protection from future litigation. However, the Justice Department is apparently miffed the Sacklers will not see jail time and is threatening to hold the Purdue settlement up. Even still, this is one of the most punitive settlements in legal history.

“As opioid settlements are reached, we must learn from the missed opportunity with tobacco,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D–Ill.) wrote in Stat News earlier this year. “That means dedicating the funds from opioid settlements to build the public health systems our nation needs to respond to the opioid crisis and prevent future addiction.”

But due to the separation of powers established in the Constitution, courts cannot dictate much about how the states use litigation settlement funds. Unless specified otherwise by state law, those funds are at the discretion of the state attorneys general, who must vet the funds for use in the general budget. Fighting addiction with settlement funds is a lie, and it always was.

This isn’t the first time this con has been played. The largest settlement in U.S. history was the 1998 tobacco master settlement, which cost American tobacco companies $206 billion. Then as now, the narrative said the government was getting big bucks to stop America’s cigarette habit. Despite those assurances, 98 percent of those funds ended up in states’ general budgets.

Durbin and other politicians promise that this time it will be different. So far, 19 states have passed legislation designating settlement money as special funds, with another nine legislating allocation agreements. But those bills sound better than they really are.

For an example, look at Colorado

The Colorado Memorandum Agreement, which is more detailed than most states’ measures, states how opioid settlement funds are to be divvied up. State coffers will receive 10 percent of the funds, then 20 percent for local governments. The lion’s share, 60 percent, will go to different regions, whose leadership and advisory groups will—with broad discretion—determine how to spend the funds. Of the $400 million in settlement money coming their way, Coloradans can only be sure that $40 million, just 10 percent, will go towards “opioid abatement infrastructure projects.”

Even then, it’s unclear how that money will be spent and how effective it will be. While addiction experts generally favor harm reduction, state leaders of both parties are prone to advocating heavy-handed law enforcement policies, such as mandatory drug courts and further surveillance of physicians and patients. And even if you could push aside the drug crusaders, an anti-addiction policy might mean anything.

Consider just a sampling of the “anti-addiction” policies those settlements are funding. In West Virginia, addiction services mean more in education spending; in Oklahoma, it means more money for corrections. Oregon likes medical research and equity; Connecticut is particular to social services. In Minnesota, the focus is on non-narcotic pain treatments. Michigan’s plans include efforts to help new mothers.

And there’s a bigger problem: There is little to stop states from using those funds according to the established parameters, then shifting the regular budgeted funds elsewhere. After the McKinsey settlement, then–New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo notified the Office of Addiction Services and Supports that of the state’s $32 million share, $21 million will be going to the state’s general fund.

It could get worse. In 2007, then–West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin tried to use settlement funds from Purdue Pharma to purchase a gubernatorial helicopter. Who knows what misappropriations could be on the way now? The public reaction to the misallocation of funds from the tobacco master settlement will be nothing compared to the angry response from the families of opioid overdose victims when they realize the healing and justice promised to them was a sham.



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Millions of unvaccinated Ontarians to be banned from services: What are the rules?

TORONTO (LifeSiteNews) – Effective September 22, the Canadian province of Ontario will be implementing vaccine passport measures. Currently, almost 80 percent of residents ages twelve and up have taken both jabs, which leaves 20 percent of vaccine-eligible Ontarians banned from a variety of “non-essential” services.

With almost thirteen million people over the age of twelve in the province, millions of Ontarians will be barred from accessing a host of businesses and activities.  

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the implementation of a vaccine segregation policy on September 1.  The provincial government has released a set of guidelines for business that explains how the government is expecting the passports to be implemented and enforced. The document is a summary of legislation laid out under the Reopening of Ontario Act (ROA). 

The document stipulates that applicable businesses are required to comply with the guidelines, and failure to comply with the policy could result in fines as low as $750 and $1000 for individuals and corporations respectively. Maximum penalties can be in the hundreds of thousands, with potential jail time. 

Business and organizations are also responsible to ensure that the information is collected accurately. Patrons will only be allowed full access if they show proof of identity and certification of their vaccination. 

Patrons will be required to provide their medical information to the employees, who in all likelihood have no medical training, or they will be turned away. The businesses that collect the medical information from residents have been instructed by the government that they will “not retain any information provided by a patron.” 

— Article continues below Petition —

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People of goodwill can disagree about the safety, efficacy and religious implications of a new vaccine for the coronavirus.

But, everyone should agree on this point:

No government can force anyone who has reached legal adulthood to be vaccinated for the coronavirus. Equally, no government can vaccinate minors for the coronavirus against the will of their parents or guardians.

Please SIGN this urgent petition which urges policymakers at every level of government to reject calls for mandatory coronavirus vaccination.

Fear of a disease – which we know very little about, relative to other similar diseases – must not lead to knee-jerk reactions regarding public health, nor can it justify supporting the hidden agenda of governmental as well as non-governmental bodies that have apparent conflicts of interest in plans to restrict personal freedoms. 

The so-called “public health experts” have gotten it wrong many times during the current crisis. We should not, therefore, allow their opinions to rush decision-makers into policies regarding vaccination.

And, while some people, like Bill Gates, may have a lot of money, his opinion and that of his NGO (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) – namely, that life will not return to normal till people are widely vaccinated – should not be permitted to influence policy decisions on a coronavirus vaccination program.

Finally, we must also not allow the rush by pharmaceutical companies to produce a new coronavirus vaccine to, itself, become an imperative for vaccination.

Unwitting citizens must not be used as guinea pigs for New World Order ideologues, or Big Pharma, in pursuit of a vaccine (and, profits) which may not even protect against future mutated strains of the coronavirus.

And it goes without saying that the production of vaccines using aborted babies for cell replication is a total non-starter, as the technique is gravely immoral.

However, if after sufficient study of the issue, a person who has reached the age of majority wishes to be vaccinated with a morally produced vaccine, along with his children, that is his business.

But we cannot and will not permit the government to make that decision for us.

Thank you for SIGNING and SHARING this petition, urging policymakers at all levels of government to reject mandatory coronavirus vaccination.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Bill Gates: Life won’t go back to ‘normal’ until population ‘widely vaccinated’ – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bill-gates-life-wont-go-back-to-normal-until-population-widely-vaccinated

COVID-19 scare leads to more digital surveillance, talk of mandatory vaccine ‘tattoos’ for kids’ – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/covid-19-scare-leads-to-more-digital-surveillance-talk-of-mandatory-vaccine-tattoos-for-kids

Trudeau says no return to ‘normal’ without vaccine: ‘Could take 12 to 18 months’ – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/trudeau-says-no-return-to-normal-without-vaccine-could-take-12-to-18-months

Trudeau mulls making coronavirus vaccine mandatory for Canadians – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/trudeau-mulls-making-coronavirus-vaccine-mandatory-for-canadians

US bishop vows to ‘refuse’ COVID-19 vaccine if made from ‘aborted fetal tissue’ – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishop-vows-to-refuse-covid-19-vaccine-if-made-from-aborted-fetal-tissue

** While LifeSite opposes immorally-produced vaccines using aborted fetal cell lines, we do not have a position on any particular coronavirus vaccines produced without such moral problems. We realize many have general concerns about vaccines, but also recognize that millions of lives have been saved due to vaccines.

*** Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Presently, the verification of medical status will take place by showing the establishment requisite documentation, but the Ontario government stated: “Ontario will develop and implement an enhanced digital vaccine certificate with unique QR (Quick Response) code and accompanying verification application that will allow users to securely and safely verify their vaccination status when scanned.” 

The policy also states that for a limited time period (September 22 – Oct 13), people may provide a negative antigen test result if they are not vaccinated but wish to attend a social gathering/reception associated with a wedding or funeral.  

There are no religious or conscience exemptions to the policy, and only under extremely rare scenarios can someone obtain a medical exemption. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has urged doctors to be highly selective about who physicians supply exemptions to. 

One physician – who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of professional condemnation – told LifeSiteNews that Ontario doctors have effectively been told to deny medical exemptions unless “absolutely necessary.” When asked what that would entail, he explained that in his estimation, they are only allowed to exempt someone from the jab if he or she has a serious and specific allergy to the contents of the shot, or if the first jab caused obvious injury. 

The following is a list of businesses and organizations that will require vaccine passport for entry: 

  • Indoor areas of meeting and event spaces: includes banquet halls and conference and convention centers (with limited exceptions) 
  • Indoor and outdoor areas of food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs and other similar establishments – excludes deliver and takeout 
  • Indoor areas of restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments without dance facilities – excludes outdoor areas (i.e. patios) 
  • Indoor areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including waterparks, and personal fitness training: includes gyms, fitness/sporting, recreational facilities, pools, leagues sporting events, waterparks, and indoor areas of facilities where spectators watch events 
  • Indoor areas of casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments, concert venues, theaters, and cinemas 
  • Indoor areas of horse racing tracks, car racing tracks, and other similar venues 

Workers, contractors, repair workers, volunteers, and others who are not entering as patrons are exempt from the necessity to show proof of vaccination. People may also enter any of the aforementioned establishments without proof of being double-jabbed if they wish to use the washroom or have to walk through an establishment to get outside. They may also enter any establishment to pay for or buy a specific product, as long as they do not stay in the establishment as a patron normally would.

The policy requires everyone over the age of twelve to provide proof of vaccination to access the various services, except in sports and recreational facilities, where patrons between the ages of twelve and eighteen are permitted without vaccination certification. This only applies to those partaking in a sporting event, but not to spectators. 

It is not stated in the policy how businesses are expected to enforce the measures. With the amount of people who may come and go in an establishment at a given time, it will not be practical for employees to diligently enforce the segregation mandate at all times. As this is another policy under the ROA, it is not under the normal jurisdiction of Ontario police forces, which has caused one police spokesman to express that things are unclear at this point. 

Joe Couto, communications director with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said police forces would wait for calls to come in related to the policy before deciding whether to redeploy or adjust resources. 

“The question I’ve been asked is, are police going to be needing new resources or shifting resources to deal with the rollout of certification,” he said. “The short answer to that is, we really don’t know, because the province is still developing not only its policies, but how it will actually practically work.”

When the province of Ontario announced random stops as part of a “stay at home” order in the spring, most police forces in the province clarified that they would not participate in any random stops for reasons pertaining to lockdown measures. One news report stated that police officers rarely got involved in lockdown-related infractions, and very few businesses faced any legal backlash for defying orders in most places. 



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US Citizenship and Immigration Services Announces New Requirement for Unvaccinated Immigrants


News



 September 14, 2021 at 1:38pm


Immigrants will need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to apply for welfare benefits in the U.S. starting on Oct. 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Tuesday.

Immigrants who will require medical examinations to access benefits including lawful permanent residency and green cards will need a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of their appointments, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The agency made the change to be in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for those who perform medical exams.

“That update requires applicants subject to the immigration medical examination to complete the COVID-19 vaccine series (one or two doses, depending on the vaccine) and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon before completion of the immigration medical examination,” USCIS said in a statement.

Immigrants may be able to avoid getting vaccinated to access benefits if they are too young or have a medical condition that prevents them from getting the vaccine.

Trending:

$181 Million Settlement Means Americans in 24 States Who Bought Chicken Between 2009 and 2020 Could Be Eligible for Payout

The immigrants could also avoid vaccination if doses are in limited supply in the region and waiting would cause a “significant delay” if they waited to receive a shot.

“In general, individuals applying to become a lawful permanent resident, and other applicants as deemed necessary, must undergo an immigration medical examination to show they are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds,” according to USCIS.

Immigrants can apply for “individual waivers based on religious beliefs or moral convictions” on a case-by-case basis.

Content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of the DCNF’s original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

A version of this article appeared on the Daily Caller News Foundation website.



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Work from home Alberta Health Services worker facing forced vaccination

A while back, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told Rebel News reporter Adam Soos that his government is not just against vaccine passports, but that the premier would actively oppose them.

So why is an Alberta government agency, Alberta Health Services, mandating COVID vaccines for employees and contractors?

The person you will meet today — although this person must remain anonymous so they don’t lose their job — isn’t anywhere near the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus the media keeps telling us is raging in Canadian hospitals. Instead, this person works in IT, from home and has done so since March 2020.

So why does this person need a jab to keep their job? Who is Alberta Health Services worried about? Their Amazon delivery man? Maybe the cat?

It’s outrageous that anyone should be forced to take experimental medicine just to be able to earn a living and pay the bills, while the economy is a mess from rotating lockdowns. But it’s more insane to find out that even people who work from home combating computer viruses (not real viruses) have to submit to private medical procedures too, just because they get a paycheque from the government.

That’s why we are helping this AHS IT professional fight their vaccine passport. Rebel News has put them in contact with a top-notch lawyer, Chad Williamson from Williamson Law, to fight this attempt at a coerced inoculation in court.

Our anonymous client is one of the strategic and selective legal battles chosen by expert lawyers across the country to challenge the legality and constitutionality of vaccine passports for all of us. Chad Williamson is the lawyer who just beat seven of Justin Trudeau’s legal mercenaries in Federal Court when the Liberals’ hand-picked debates commission tried to block Rebel News from asking questions at the recent federal leaders’ debates. You can see Chad’s winning work at www.LetUsReport.com.

All this is to say: Chad’s the best and will fight like a lion.

If you would like to contribute to the legal fight against medical segregation and the invasion of privacy that vaccine passports are bringing to Canada, please donate at www.FightVaccinePassports.com. All donations qualify for a charitable tax receipt from the registered Canadian charity, The Democracy Fund.





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“We’ve Spent Over $97 Billion Dollars because of Climate Change!” Angry Biden Screams During Visit to California’s Office of Emergency Services (VIDEO)




“We’ve Spent Over $97 Billion Dollars because of Climate Change!” Angry Biden Screams During Visit to California’s Office of Emergency Services (VIDEO)


















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House GOP Financial Services Members Call on Yellen to Testify About Billions in Undistributed Rental Assistance

Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee want Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to testify before the panel to explain why billions in federal aid have failed to reach the majority of tenants and have created billions in backlog owed to landlords.

“Many of us also believe that Secretary Yellen has failed to take responsibility for the program’s failures and shortcomings, disregarding requests to have opportunities to have these questions addressed to her by this committee and by others, and by allowing her to bypass the statutory obligations to testify,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) during a hearing on Friday.

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

According to data released by the Treasury Department at the end of July, close to 90 percent of the federal rental money allocated to state and local governments has not been distributed, which translates into almost $40 billion not reaching the intended recipient.

Huizenga and his colleagues say that the legislation introduced by Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), while good in its intent, might negatively impact landlords and create more red tape in getting the rental assistance to renters.

“And, frankly, many of us believe that instead of fixing the program, the proposed changes would create even more bureaucracy, add new burdens, and will scare off more landlords, steer funds away from COVID impacted low-income households, and remove protections to combat fraud,” added Huizenga.

However, Waters said her legislation will help hasten the distribution of rental assistance.

“I’m very concerned about data showing that state and local governments have only used 11 percent of the $46.6 billion in emergency rental assistance funds that are available. There’s no question that the funds are not reaching landlords and renters quickly or widely enough,” said Waters at the hearing Friday.

Waters has put forth legislation in an effort to expedite payments getting to renters and landlords. Waters said in a Dear Colleague letter that her legislation—which will be put before the committee for a vote on Sept. 13—would require grantees “to accept the self-attestation of a tenant and to provide assistance directly to tenants in certain circumstances.”

Waters also said her bill would permit landlords to “directly apply for back rent after providing notice to their tenants that they intend to apply” and instruct the Treasury Department and “grantees to conduct additional outreach to prospective tenants and landlords.”

(L-R) Rep. Patrick T. McHenry gives an American flag that flew at half-mast during his memorial to Franklin Graham as the casket of American evangelist Billy Graham exits the East Steps out of the U.S. Capitol after Lying in Honor in the Capitol Rotunda, in Washington, D.C., on March 1, 2018. (Tasos Katopodis-Pool/Getty Images)

Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have called on states, municipalities, and local agencies to speed up the distribution of the aid to prevent thousands from being evicted. The Finance Services Committee hearing Friday was an attempt by lawmakers to find out how they can streamline the distribution process going forward.

Ranking Member of the committee Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said he has filed a discharge petition so that his bill H.R. 3913, the Renter Protection Act, can get on the House floor for a vote because the bill would otherwise be blocked by Democrats.

“Due to the Biden Administration’s mismanagement and Congressional Democrats’ inaction, American families have been left twisting in the wind. Republicans have been offering a commonsense solution for months—the Renter Protection Act—to fix the ERA (Emergency Rental Assistance) programs, make mom-and-pop property owners whole, and end the threat of eviction,” said McHenry in a press statement.

McHenry’s bill would require the treasury to disburse all remaining ERA program funds within 30 days of the bill becoming law; require that all unused ERA money is used for back-rent by those impacted by the pandemic, and reinstate the Dec. 31, 2021 deadline for cities and states to distribute all ERA funds.

Gerald Winn, the CEO of Winn Companies, laid out four points that would help alleviate the financial burden landlords are facing because of undistributed rental money.

“It would be informed consent as opposed to signatures by the tenant to apply on behalf, it would be bulk applications that landlords are able to submit, and that are mandated to be approved by the ERAP administrators, rather than just encouraged, a combining of the two programs to cut out bureaucracy,” Winn told the committee at the hearing Friday.

Winn continued, “And I would say really the fourth one, would be to make sure that when a unit is vacated that, that unit is still eligible for rental assistance because that is where a lot of the outstanding delinquencies are.”

Masooma Haq



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Canadian Blood Services requires employees to be vaccinated only against COVID-19

Canadian Blood Services — Canada’s blood donor authority in all provinces and territories except Quebec — has stated that it will require all employees, volunteers and contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or else face termination.

The organization confirmed to Rebel News that they require only vaccination against COVID-19, and not against any other infectious diseases. 

In an email sent to employees, the organization’s management warns that they have until October 31 to get the jab:

“Without a recognized medical exception, those who choose not to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 31 will no longer be employed by Canadian Blood Services. 

By October 31,2021, we expect all Canadian Blood Services employees, including fee for service contractors, to be fully vaccinated (meaning two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccination).

Any employee who has not indicated any effort toward getting vaccinated (either partially or fully) by October 31, 2021, will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence for 10 days.

During this 10-day leave of absence, Canadian Blood Services will do whatever we can to address any outstanding questions or concerns around the vaccine. We will support (to the extent that is reasonable) all employees with impediments they’ve experienced toward being vaccinated.

After this 10-day leave of absence, employees who still choose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, will be terminated from employment at Canadian Blood Services.” 

In comments made to Rebel News, Canadian Blood Services confirmed the veracity of the email and stated that COVID-19 is the only infectious disease for which they have a mandatory vaccination policy.

In their comments, the organization states:

“Because of the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and its potential detrimental effects on our workforce and essential operations, we will only collect the status of COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Canadian Blood Services did affirm that medical and religious exemptions from getting the vaccine will be respected, stating that they will “accommodate employees who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine, based on recognized medical/legitimate human rights grounds,” and that they “will support (to the extent that is reasonable) all employees with challenges they’ve experienced toward being vaccinated.”

When asked whether they can afford to terminate employees without staffing shortages affecting Canada’s blood supply, the organization had this to say:

“Our hope is that we will maintain our employees through this change and that everyone who is able chooses to get vaccinated, and thereby continues to contribute to the essential work Canadian Blood Services does every day… We are optimistic this policy won’t have significant effects on our operations.  If we experience departures due to this policy, we will be prepared to continue delivering essential products to patients.”

Do you oppose vaccine passports in Canada? Go to FightVaccinePassports.com to sign our petition, share with us your forced vaccination story and donate to help fund our legal battles against vaccine passports across Canada.





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Senate Armed Services to hold 1st hearing on Afghanistan withdrawal

The Senate Armed Services Committee announced its first public hearing on the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, with top officials slated to testify before the panel on Sept. 28. 

The hearing comes as the administration has faced a slew of bipartisan criticisms over the exit, with members on both sides of the aisle raising concerns over national security, the safety of Americans and Afghan allies left behind and the humanitarian implications that have resulted in the wake of the swift Taliban takeover.

Questions have been raised over why the Biden administration did not heed warnings from the intelligence community that the Afghan government was at high risk of falling to the Taliban without the support of US troops and why they opted to leave the Bagram Air Base before all Americans were evacuated. 

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) said it’s the duty of Congress to ensure accountability.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and US Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie have been called to testify before the panel. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is slated to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the exit next week. 

“Although we have completed the withdrawal of American military personnel and over 100,000 civilians from Afghanistan, I remain deeply concerned about the events that accompanied our withdrawal and the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) said in a statement issued Thursday.

“It is the duty of Congress — and the Senate Armed Services Committee in particular — to hold hearings to learn lessons from the situation in Afghanistan and ensure accountability at the highest levels.”

US Army Gen. Scott Miller, the former top US commander in Afghanistan has been called to testify.
US Army Gen. Scott Miller, the former top US commander in Afghanistan, will brief the panel before the hearing.
Alex Brandon/Getty Images

Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) praised Reed’s decision to hold a hearing providing oversight on the crisis, and called for those responsible to be held accountable. 

“I’m grateful to Chairman Reed for prioritizing these critical oversight hearings on Afghanistan — the first of what I will expect to be many hearings and briefings to review and determine what happened, who should be held accountable, and how we move forward,” he said in a statement.

“The American people, our service members past and present, our allies and partners around the world and the Afghans who bravely helped us deserve this transparency and accountability.”

Ahead of the hearing, members of the panel are expected to receive a closed-door briefing from Gen. Scott Miller, who previously served as the commander of US forces in Afghanistan. 



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No More Free Speech! Amazon Web Services to Proactively Remove More Content

Amazon Web Services is preparing to remove even more content that violates its rules. The company infamously deplatformed the entire Parler social media platform earlier in 2021 and could now apply those same rules to other companies.

The future of the internet looks grim as Amazon reportedly prepares to wage a figurative war with content contrasting the company’s woke far-left narrative. “Amazon.com Inc plans to take a more proactive approach to determine what types of content violate its cloud service policies, such as rules against promoting violence, and enforce its removal, according to two sources, a move likely to renew debate about how much power tech companies should have to restrict free speech,” reported Reuters on Thursday.

The news outlet emphasized how much impact Amazon’s new direction could have on the future of the internet: “It could turn Amazon, the leading cloud service provider worldwide with 40% market share according to research firm Gartner, into one of the world’s most powerful arbiters of content allowed on the internet, experts say.”

Andy Jassy, who led the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) division as it essentially deplatformed Parler from the internet, took over as Amazon’s CEO after Bezos stepped down. Jassy has been a part of AWS since its early days and reportedly helped grow AWS into a $40 billion business.

Reuters explained how the moderation overhaul will be implemented with a new wave of employees: “Over the coming months, Amazon will hire a small group of people in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division to develop expertise and work with outside researchers to monitor for future threats, one of the sources familiar with the matter said.”

An AWS spokesperson reportedly explained to Reuters directly that the approach will ostensibly be used to stop illegal activity: “‘AWS Trust & Safety works to protect AWS customers, partners, and internet users from bad actors attempting to use our services for abusive or illegal purposes. When AWS Trust & Safety is made aware of abusive or illegal behavior on AWS services, they act quickly to investigate and engage with customers to take appropriate actions.’”

The same spokesperson later included a key denial: “‘AWS Trust & Safety does not pre-review content hosted by our customers. As AWS continues to expand, we expect this team to continue to grow.’”

The Verge explained how a proactive approach to content moderation will be a critical game changer for Amazon Web Services:

The company has long maintained an Acceptable Use Policy for AWS, which forbids using the service for computer intrusions, spam, or the promotion of violence or other crimes. But enforcement of those terms has been largely reactive, often relying on external user reports to identify prohibited content. While the policy itself will not change, the aggressive enforcement approach will put AWS in the same category as major platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Amazon at (206) 266-1000, or by mail to 410 Terry Avenue North Seattle, WA 98109, and demand that Amazon support the ideals of the First Amendment. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.



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Judicial Watch Sues Health and Human Services for Director Francis Collins’ Emails about Gain of Function Research, Hydroxychloroquine, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for all emails National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins related to gain of function research, hydroxychloroquine and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-02302)).

This lawsuit was filed after the National Institutes of Health failed to respond to a June 8, 2021, FOIA request for:

All emails sent to and from Director Francis Collins related to “gain of function”, “hydroxychloroquine”, “HCQ”, and/or “Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

When challenged about whether the National Institutes of Health supported gain of function research, Collins released a statement on May 19, 2021, claiming:

Based on outbreaks of coronaviruses caused by animal to human transmissions such as in Asia in 2003 that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and in Saudi Arabia in 2012 that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have for many years supported grants to learn more about viruses lurking in bats and other mammals that have the potential to spill over to humans and cause widespread disease. However, neither NIH nor NIAID have ever approved any grant that would have supported ‘gain-of-function’ research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans.

An August 26, 2021, report by the Washington Post claims the NIH has been funding gain of function research for years. According to the report:

In the United States, NIH Director Francis S. Collins and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have led the federal funding and oversight of gain-of-function research.

Eight years ago, Collins and Fauci helped put in place high-level reviews and other safeguards in response to concerns raised by Relman [David A. Relman, a Stanford University physician and microbiologist] and aides to President Barack Obama, who were alarmed by what they saw as insufficient scrutiny of the research with ferrets. The NIH leaders and the Department of Health and Human Services pledged to subject the work to increased transparency and vetting. This included forming a review group of federal officials — known informally as a “Ferrets Committee” — to vet proposed projects for safety and worthiness.

However, Collins and Fauci in recent years have helped shape policy changes, directly and through their aides, that undercut the committee’s authority, according to federal documents, congressional testimony and interviews with dozens of present and former officials and science experts.

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Since then, the experiments have continued to unfold amid secrecy, and HHS, which administers the review committee, has kept its work confidential: No agendas, meeting minutes or other records of its proceedings are public. Even the names of the federal officials assigned to serve on the committee, which has spanned the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, are kept secret

On Sunday, March 7, 2021, Collins argued to CBS News that hydroxychloroquine was a “bust:”

“Basically it was a bust … maybe it got in the way of trying other kinds of repurposed drugs. All the enthusiasm about hydroxychloroquine was basically dependent on anecdotal reports,” Collins said. “And that did leave everybody with kind of a sour taste in their mouths … we had to get over that. I think we’re over it now.”

“The NIH is in full cover-up mode about the COVID-19 controversies and politics. Where are the emails?” asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

On August 25, 2021, Judicial Watch made public 129 pages of records from HHS that included an “urgent for Dr. Fauci” email chain which cites ties between the Wuhan lab and the taxpayer-funded EcoHealth Alliance. The government emails also reported that the foundation of U.S. billionaire Bill Gates worked closely with the Chinese government to pave the way for Chinese-produced medications to be sold outside China and help “raise China’s voice of governance by placing representatives from China on important international counsels as high level commitment from China.”

In July, Judicial Watch obtained records from NIAID officials in connection with the Wuhan Institute of Virology revealing significant collaborations and funding that began in 2014. The records revealed that NIAID gave nine China-related grants to EcoHealth Alliance to research coronavirus emergence in bats and was the NIH’s top issuer of grants to the Wuhan lab itself.

Also in July, Judicial Watch uncovered CDC records revealing that Facebook coordinated closely with the CDC to control the COVID narrative and “misinformation” and that over $3.5 million in free advertising has been given to the CDC by social media companies.

In June, Judicial Watch announced that it filed FOIA lawsuits against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the State Department for information on the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Also in June, Judicial Watch obtained records from HHS revealing that from 2014 to 2019, $826,277 was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research by the NIAID.

In March, Judicial Watch publicly released emails and other records of Fauci and Dr. H. Clifford Lane from HHS showing that NIH officials tailored confidentiality forms to China’s terms and that the WHO conducted an unreleased, “strictly confidential” COVID-19 epidemiological analysis in January 2020. Additionally, the emails reveal an independent journalist in China pointing out the inconsistent COVID numbers in China to NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects Lane.

In October 2020, Judicial Watch uncovered emails showing a WHO entity pushing for a press release, approved by Fauci, “especially” supporting China’s COVID-19 response.

 

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