Report: More than 75% of Americans Allowed to Vote by Mail in 2020 Election

More than 75 percent of Americans will be allowed to vote by mail in the 2020 presidential election scheduled for November, according to a report from the New York Times on Tuesday.

The Times‘ analysis stated that if turnout increases as predicted, an estimated 80 million mail ballots would be delivered to election offices later this year, more than double the number of ballots that were returned four years ago.

Every state has some sort of mail voting, but this year 24 states, along with the District of Columbia have welcomed mail ballots.

In nine states, along with Washington D.C., registered voters will be mailed a ballot before the election. Voters in 33 states will be allowed to cast an absentee ballot with no excuse needed. In eight states, voters will be mailed an application to request an absentee ballot. In 25 states, voters are required to obtain an application for an absentee ballot themselves. In another eight states, voters will be required to have an excuse, other than coronavirus, to vote absentee.

According to the Times, states that allow residents to vote by mail saw a higher turnout during the caucuses and primaries.

Over the last year, the conversation regarding vote by mail has shifted into one of partisanship. Republicans, for the most part, oppose the process, while Democrats are in full support of it.

Democrats have noted that a vote by mail process would be suitable in November as the coronavirus continues to spread. President Trump disagrees.

President Donald Trump has questioned the safety and security of the process, saying it could lead to such problems as election fraud. Trump also accused Democrats of “meddling” and said voting by mail makes it easier for foreign actors to interfere with our election process.

In a July statement to Fox News, the United States Postal Service ensured that no mail-in ballots would be compromised.

“The Postal Service is committed to delivering election mail in a timely manner … the Postal Service’s financial condition is not going to impact our ability to process and deliver election and political mail,” the USPS stated.

Source: Breitbart

Stanford Scientists Take Next Step in Brain-Machine Interface Research

In 2005, scientist and futurist Ray Kurweil raised eyebrows with his explosive book The Singularity is Near. Concerning the possibility that humans will “transcend biology,” Kurzweil noted: “The singularity will be a merger of our bodies + minds with our technology. The world will still be human, but transcend our biology’s roots. There will be no distinction between human and machine — nor between physical and virtual reality. If you wonder what will remain unequivocally human, it’s this quality — our species inherently seeks to extend its physical and mental reach beyond current limitations.”

Such claims had been made before, but Kurzweil foresaw it coming not in some distant future, but in the relative near term. Since publication of the book, artificial intelligence and several related technologies have made dramatic and sometimes troubling advances, and Kurzweil himself is now working on a follow-up book titled The Singularity is Nearer, set to debut in 2021.

It is debatable if Kurzweil’s singularity is achievable within the next few decades, but scientists are, in fact, making discoveries that seem to augur for the eventual merger of human biology with machines. An example is recent work carried out by researchers at Stanford University and described in a paper published in the journal Nature Materials. The paper describes the creation and testing of technology for artificial neural networks (ANNs) aimed for use in brain-machine interfaces, specifically the creation of “hardware ANNs that can both directly interface with living tissue and adapt based on biofeedback.”

Describing the research, Stanford News Service said the research was focused on testing a “biohybrid version” of an artificial synapse to demonstrate that it can communicate with living cells.

“This paper really demonstrates the unique strength of the materials that we use in being able to interact with living matter,” Alberto Salleo, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and co-author of the paper, told Stanford News Service. “The cells are happy sitting on the soft polymer. But the compatibility goes deeper: These materials work with the same molecules neurons use naturally.”

In biological systems, neurons communicate across synapses using chemical signaling that triggers and modifies electrochemical activity in neurons. The “biohybrid” developed by the researchers integrates with this biological system.

“In a biological synapse, essentially everything is controlled by chemical interactions at the synaptic junction. Whenever the cells communicate with one another, they’re using chemistry,” Scott Keene, a graduate student at Stanford and co-lead author of the paper, said, according to Stanford News Service. “Being able to interact with the brain’s natural chemistry gives the device added utility.”

The researchers tested their approach using rat neuroendocrine cells that release dopamine, a neurotransmitter. They also stressed that their research remains at a very early stage.

“It’s a demonstration that this communication melding chemistry and electricity is possible,” Salleo admitted. “You could say it’s a first step toward a brain-machine interface, but it’s a tiny, tiny very first step.”

Still, in their paper, the researchers emphasized the future impact of their discovery.

“By mimicking the dopamine recycling machinery of the synaptic cleft,” they wrote, “we demonstrate both long-term conditioning and recovery of the synaptic weight, paving the way towards combining artificial neuromorphic systems with biological neural networks.”

There are many, many steps to go before Kurzweil’s predicted “singularity.” This, however, appears to be one such step.

Dennis Behreandt is a research professional and writer, frequently covering subjects in history, theology, and science and technology. He has worked as an editor and publisher and is a former managing editor of The New American.

Source: The New American (Donate)

Report: New drug-pricing data shows stunning hikes—one whopping 667% increase

Big Pharma’s business model is working great…for them.  They are racking in billions getting people hooked on their drugs and then hiking the prices up 667% in some cases. According to ARS Technica, new drug-pricing data is showing massive and stunning hikes. One drug’s price has risen by a whopping 667%. This price hike is well over the cost of inflation.  By law, drug makers are required to report their price increases quarterly. This is the first report from the new law and includes data on drugs that had price increases of 16% or more over their January 2017 prices. Drugmakers are also required to provide reasons as to why they’re driving up costs.1

Pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices on hundreds of drugs at rates well over that of inflation, according to a newly released report on drug-pricing data.

The data was made public thanks to a mandate from a California transparency law passed in 2017. Under the law, drug makers are required to report their price increases quarterly. This is the first report from the law and includes data on drugs that had price increases of 16% or more over their January 2017 prices.

The hikes in these cases are to the wholesale acquisition cost, which is the list price for wholesalers—they may not reflect how much patients will pay out of pocket. Still, they can add to overall healthcare spending and drive up the costs of insurance.

Under the 2017 law, drug makers are also required to provide reasons as to why they’re driving up costs.

Between 2017 and the first quarter of 2019, drug makers reported hundreds of price hikes. The report focuses on trends for a little over a thousand drugs. The median price increase overall was 25.8%. Generic drugs, specifically, had higher increases, with a median rise of 37.6%.

But some drugs stood out for having exorbitant hikes, as Kaiser Health News pointed out. A liquid version of generic Prozac (fluoxetine) went from $9 to $69 just in the first quarter of 2019—a 667% increase. The reason given was new production costs.

Likewise, a generic medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) called guanfacine, went from about $29 to $87 in the first quarter of 2019, a more than 200% increase.

Guanfacine’s maker, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, also listed production costs as a reason for the hike, as well as “market conditions.”

The data shows that “even at a time when there is a microscope on this industry, [drug makers are] going ahead with drug price increases for hundreds of drugs well above the rate of inflation,” Anthony Wright told KHN. Wright is the executive director of the California advocacy group Health Access.

Wright noted that the new reporting offers progress toward making drug pricing transparent. But critics note that it still doesn’t reveal the true reasons drug makers are raising prices—whether there are drug shortages or changes in competition—and what the changes mean for patients.

The reporting also faces challenges. The drug-maker industry group, PhRMA, has filed a lawsuit to overturn California’s law. And earlier this month, the state of Nevada issued fines on drug makers for failing to comply with its drug pricing law, which passed in 2017.

Report: Young Iraqi Girls sold for Sex in Temporary ‘Pleasure Marriages’ That can Last as Little as an Hour

  • Shia clerics were filmed offering brief marriages in a BBC documentary in Iraq
  • One claimed there was ‘no problem at all’ with ‘marrying’ girls as young as nine 
  • Undercover With The Clerics – Iraq’s Secret Sex Trade is on BBC iPlayer 

Young Iraqi girls are being sold for sex in temporary ‘marriages’ that can last as little as an hour, a BBC documentary has revealed.

Shia clerics were filmed offering ‘pleasure marriages’ in which men, usually banned from having sex outside marriage, can pay a dowry for an interim wife.

One cleric claimed it would be ‘no problem at all’ to marry girls as young as nine under Islamic law.

The practice is banned in Iraq but eight out of 10 Shia clerics who were approached were willing to carry it out – and one of them even offered to help procure young girls, the BBC News investigation found.

The religious rite dates back centuries, partly intended to allow men to have a legitimate relationship while away from their wives.

However, some Iraqi men and Shia clerics are now abusing it to give a veneer of legitimacy to child prostitution.

One cleric in Karbala, an important religious site in Iraq, told the undercover BBC journalist that girls as young as nine could be subject to the procedure.

‘According to Sharia, there’s no problem,’ he said, when asked if it was acceptable to conduct a temporary marriage with a young girl.
When the reporter voiced concern that he was exploiting the girl, the cleric told him: ‘No way’.

Another cleric, also filmed secretly, was asked if a temporary marriage with a 13-year-old virgin would be permissible under Islamic law.
‘Just be careful she doesn’t lose her virginity,’ the cleric replied, suggesting other forms of sexual interaction instead.

Read More at The Daily Mail

Report: ‘Nonpartisan’ Group Aiding Lawyers for ‘Whistleblower’ Tied to Democrats, Far-Left Organizations

Whistleblower Aid, a small nonprofit helping the lawyers for the so-called whistleblower at the center of the impeachment movement targeting President Donald Trump, is heavily tied to far-left activist organizations and Democratic politics.

One of the co-founders of Whistleblower Aid previously worked at several liberal activist organizations financed by billionaire activist and Democratic Party megadonor George Soros. The other co-founder currently leads a separate organization that boasts on its four-person advisory board John Podesta, who led Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, served as Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton and founded the Soros-funded Center for American Progress pushing a progressive agenda.

Working with the so-called DC whistleblower’s lawyers, Whistleblower Aid set up a GoFundMe page seeking to raise funds for the purported whistleblower’s defense. The page already brought in some $206,225 with a goal of raising $300,000. John Tye, co-founder of Whistleblower Aid, told Fox News that he is working with the so-called whistleblower’s lawyers at the Compass Rose Legal Group.

“We are very proud to be supporting this whistleblower. It is a very stressful thing to be a whistleblower,” he said.

Tye did not immediately return a Breitbart News interview request.

Anti-Trump language scrubbed

Whistleblower Aid was founded in September 2017 in the wake of Trump’s presidency to encourage government whistleblowers to come forward.

When Whistleblower Aid was first formed, the main banner for the mission statement of its website contained clearly anti-Trump language.

“Today our Republic is under threat. Whistleblower Aid is committed to protecting the rule of law in the United States and around the world,” read the previous statement which can still be viewed via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

That part of the mission statement received attention in the conservative media.

The sentence “today our Republic is under threat,” has since been scrubbed from the website.  The mission statement now only reads, “Whistleblower Aid is committed to protecting the rule of law in the United States and around the world.”

Speaking to the Washington Post just after Whistleblower Aid’s founding, co-founder Tye claimed, “This is not a partisan effort,” and then went on to express seemingly partisan alarm about Trump.

Tye continued, “At the same time, yes, the rule of law starts with the office of the president. Like many other people, we are definitely concerned about things that are happening in the administration. The decision to fire [FBI Director] James Comey. The lack of transparency. A lot of people have questions about whether this administration respects the rule of law.”

Upon its founding, Whistleblower Aid actively sought to attract the attention of Trump administration government employees by reportedly blasting advertisements for its whistleblower services on Metro trains, using mobile billboards that circled government offices for 10 hours a day, and handing out whistles on street corners as a gimmick to gain attention.

Far-left ties, Democrat links

Tye himself is a whistleblower. He is a former State Department official who went public in 2014 about U.S. government electronic surveillance practices.

Tye’s bio on Whistleblower Aid’s website brandishes his work for far-left groups.

The bio reads:

Mr. Tye has worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Avaaz, and also Southeast Louisiana Legal Services as a Skadden Fellow. He was on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is known for its anti-conservative stance and controversially publishes a “hate map” listing groups that warn about radical Islam such as Jihad Watch, the Clarion Project, the Center for Security Policy. On that same “hate map” are racist extremist organizations like Global Crusaders: Order of the Ku Klux Klan and United Klans of America.

Tye’s other former employer, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is financed heavily by Soros and is known for its hyper-partisan liberal activism.

Avaaz, a radical group where Tye served as campaign and legal director, describes itself as a “global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.” The group has repeatedly engaged in anti-Israel activism.

Channeling the mantra of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, Avaaz says it aims to “organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.”

Avaaz was founded in 1997 by the Soros-funded, partisan MoveOn.org organization and by the Soros-funded Res Publica activist group.

Tax forms from Soros’s Open Society document donations to Res Publica specifically earmarked for support to Avaaz. Res Publica oversees Avaaz activism.

The same year that Whistleblower Aid was founded, Avaaz’s former general counsel and campaign director, Ian Bassin, in 2017 formed United to Protect Democracy. The latter is a grouping of former top lawyers for the Obama administration working to utilize legal advocacy methods to oppose Trump’s policies.

Bassin’s United to Protect Democracy works in partnership with the Brennan Center for Justice, located at NYU School of Law. The Brennan Center is heavily financed by Soros’s Open Society Foundations and is the recipient of numerous Open Society grants.

Whistleblower Aid, meanwhile, was co-founded by attorney Mark S. Zaid.

Zaid doubles as Executive Director and founder of the James Madison Project, which says it seeks to promote government accountability. John Podesta is a member of the Project’s four-person advisory board.

Common funding themes

Whistleblower Aid’s ties to Soros funding and far-left groups furthers a theme of such organizations being closely linked to numerous aspects of the so-called whistleblower’s complaint.

Some of those common threads run through an organization repeatedly relied upon in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint and are tied to CrowdStrike, the outside firm utilized to conclude that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers since the DNC would not allow the U.S. government to inspect the servers.

CrowdStrike founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

The Atlantic Council is funded by and works in partnership with Burisma, the natural gas company at the center of allegations regarding Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Breitbart News reported that a staffer for Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence took a trip to Ukraine last month sponsored and organized by the Atlantic Council think tank. Schiff’s office denied any impropriety.

The Schiff staff member, Thomas Eager, is also currently a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Congressional Fellowship. Burisma in January 2017 signed a “cooperative agreement” with the Council to sponsor the organization’s Eurasia Center.

Besides Burisma funding, the Council is also financed by Google as well as Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc. and the U.S. State Department.

Google Capital also led a $100 million funding drive that financed Crowdstrike directly.

Google, Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Fund and an agency of the State Department each also finance a self-described investigative journalism organization repeatedly referenced as a source of information in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint alleging Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 presidential race.

The charges in the July 22 report referenced in the so-called whistleblower’s document and released by the Google and Soros-funded organization, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), seem to be the public precursors for a lot of the so-called whistleblower’s own claims, as Breitbart News documented.

One key section of the so-called whistleblower’s document claims that “multiple U.S. officials told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of other Zelensky advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov.”

This was allegedly to follow up on Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in order to discuss the “cases” mentioned in that call, according to the so-called whistleblower’s narrative. The complainer was clearly referencing Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate the Biden corruption allegations.

Even though the statement was written in first person – “multiple U.S. officials told me” – it contains a footnote referencing a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

That footnote reads:

In a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 2019 and met with Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelensky adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir.

The so-called whistleblower’s account goes on to rely upon that same OCCRP report on three more occasions. It does so to:

  • Write that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko “also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney General Barr on these matters.”
  • Document that Trump adviser Rudi Giuliani “had spoken in late 2018 to former Prosecutor General Shokin, in a Skype call arranged by two associates of Mr. Giuliani.”
  • Bolster the charge that, “I also learned from a U.S. official that ‘associates’ of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team.” The so-called whistleblower then relates in another footnote, “I do not know whether these associates of Mr. Giuliani were the same individuals named in the 22 July report by OCCRP, referenced above.”

The OCCRP report repeatedly referenced is actually a “joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, based on interviews and court and business records in the United States and Ukraine.”

BuzzFeed infamously also first published the full anti-Trump dossier alleging unsubstantiated collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee and was produced by the Fusion GPS opposition dirt outfit.

The OCCRP and BuzzFeed “joint investigation” resulted in both OCCRP and BuzzFeed publishing similar lengthy pieces on July 22 claiming that Giuliani was attempting to use connections to have Ukraine investigate Trump’s political rivals.

The so-called whistleblower’s document, however, only mentions the largely unknown OCCRP and does not reference BuzzFeed, which has faced scrutiny over its reporting on the Russia collusion claims.

Another listed OCCRP funder is the Omidyar Network, which is the nonprofit for liberal billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Together with Soros’s Open Society, Omidyar also funds the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which hosts the International Fact-Checking Network that partnered with Facebook to help determine whether news stories are “disputed.”

Like OCCRP, the Poynter Institute’s so-called news fact-checking project is openly funded by not only Soros’ Open Society Foundations but also Google and the National Endowment for Democracy.

CrowdStrike and DNC servers

CrowdStrike, meanwhile, was brought up by Trump in his phone call with Zelensky.

According to the transcript, Trump told Zelensky, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people…The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

In his extensive report, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller notes that his investigative team did not “obtain or examine” the servers of the DNC in determining whether those servers were hacked by Russia.

The DNC famously refused to allow the FBI to access its servers to verify the allegation that Russia carried out a hack during the 2016 presidential campaign. Instead, the DNC reached an arrangement with the FBI in which CrowdStrike conducted forensics on the server and shared details with the FBI.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI registered “multiple requests at different levels,” to review the DNC’s hacked servers. Ultimately, the DNC and FBI came to an agreement in which a “highly respected private company”—a reference to CrowdStrike—would carry out forensics on the servers and share any information that it discovered with the FBI, Comey testified.

A senior law enforcement official stressed the importance of the FBI gaining direct access to the servers, a request that was denied by the DNC.

“The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” the official was quoted by the news media as saying.

“This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier,” the official continued.