The Dangers Of A Central Bank Digital Currency | ZeroHedge

10-03-21 04:08:00,

Authored by Daniel Lacalle,

In recent weeks Jerome Powell at the Federal Reserve and Christine Lagarde at the European Central Bank have commented on the likelihood of implementing digital currencies in the next years. The positives have been well explained. More transparency, ease of use and lower cost.

The European Central Bank has stated that “a digital euro would guarantee that citizens in the euro area can maintain costless access to a simple, universally accepted, safe and trusted means of payment. The digital euro would still be a euro: like banknotes but digital. It would be an electronic form of money issued by the Eurosystem (the ECB and national central banks) and accessible to all citizens and firms. A digital euro would not replace cash, but rather complement it. The Eurosystem will continue to ensure that you have access to euro cash across the euro area. A digital euro would give you an additional choice about how to pay and make it easier to do so, contributing to financial inclusion alongside cash”.

In the United States, many voices call for a digital dollar to compete with China’s yuan. However, the US dollar is already the world reserve currency, it is used in more than 80% of global transactions while the yuan is used in less than 4%, according to the Bank of International Settlements (the total is 200% as each transaction involves two currencies), and most payments and transfers are already electronic. The euro is the second most used currency and is also mostly through electronic transfers. One can say that the US Dollar and the euro are already “digital”.

All this sounds good. So, why should we worry about a central bank “digital currency”?

There are important risk factors to consider.

The first one is privacy. The central bank would control almost all transactions in a currency and have all the information of how deposits and savings are kept. The gradual implementation of the central bank digital currency would involve important risks of privacy but also concerns about the central bank controlling the amount of savings and their form. A central bank that controls all transactions and how savings are kept is also able to act against those savings by “dissolving” them with monetary policy.

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The Dangers Of Keeping The Schools Closed

15-07-20 07:51:00,

Authored by Ethan Yang via The American Institute for Economic Research,

As the school year approaches, there is much consideration over whether or not to close the K-12 system in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. These concerns come from a wide variety of constituencies, from parents to public officials to teachers. However, much like the overall discussion regarding COVID-19, this proposal is ill-informed and will likely lead to unintended consequences that will be far more severe than the problem it seeks to address.

School Closures Are a Time-Sensitive Policy

One of the first points to consider when approaching the question of closing schools is timing. Yale University sociologist Nicholas Christakis, a proponent of school closure, warns that although the policy could be beneficial it must be done very early. Furthermore, although Dr. Christakis certainly supports school closure if done at the correct time, he acknowledges that now

“It’s sort of closing the barn door after the cow is gone.”

This maneuver, even for those that support it, will be incredibly difficult to do effectively and the appropriate time to even consider this policy may well have been in January, not July. 

It also seems that proponents of school closure seem to misunderstand the purpose of their proposal. Italian epidemiologist Marco Ajelli tells NPR

“Closing schools can buy time and delay the peak of an epidemic.”

Unfortunately, that time has passed as well. Much like anything concerning COVID-19 and epidemiology, we cannot be certain that closing schools will actually delay the peak of an epidemic. Even if it is an effective policy measure, school closures are not intended for simply reducing cases amongst children; they are a way to buy time to prepare for the climax of an outbreak. 

As outlined by Dr. Christakis’s sentiments, the time for this conversation should have been months ago. It may have been an effective policy to buy time for hospitals to retool and prepare for the outbreak but that has since been accomplished, although rather sloppily. The peak of the pandemic has passed, COVID-related deaths have dramatically decreased, and hospitals are far more prepared than they were months ago. 

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The Dangers of COVID-19 Surveillance Proposals to the Future of Protest – Activist Post

30-04-20 09:32:00,

By Matthew Guariglia

Many of the new surveillance powers now sought by the government to address the COVID-19 crisis would harm our First Amendment rights for years to come. People will be chilled and deterred from speaking out, protesting in public places, and associating with like-minded advocates if they fear scrutiny from cameras, drones, face recognition, thermal imaging, and location trackers. It is all too easy for governments to redeploy the infrastructure of surveillance from pandemic containment to political spying. It won’t be easy to get the government to suspend its newly acquired tech and surveillance powers.

When this wave of the public health emergency is over and it becomes safe for most people to leave their homes, they may find a world with even more political debate than when they left it. A likely global recession, a new election season, and re-energized social movements will provide an overwhelming incentive for record numbers of people to speak out, to demonstrate in public places, and to demand concessions of their governments. The pent-up urge to take to the streets may bring mass protests like we have not seen in years. And what impact would new surveillance tools, adopted in the name of public health, have on this new era of marches, demonstrations, and strikes?

The collection and sharing of phone location data that was sold and deployed in order to trace the spread of the virus could be used by a reigning administration to crack down on dissent. The government and vendors have yet to make a convincing argument for how this measure would contribute to the public health effort. Indeed, they cannot, because GPS data and cell site location information are not sufficiently granular to show whether two people were close enough together to transmit the virus (six feet). But this data is sufficiently precise to show whether a person attended a protest in a park, picketed in front of a factory, or traveled at night to the block where a dissident lives.

Many other technologies that should never be deployed to prevent the spread of the virus would also harm free speech. Vendors are seeking to sell face recognition cameras to the government to alert authorities if someone in mandatory quarantine went grocery shopping.

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The Hidden Dangers of Flavored Products in Health and Fitness

03-03-20 11:00:00,

By Valeria Arroyo-Agüero

Most people who are attuned to health and wellness news are certainly aware of the vast change in consumer habits we have seen surrounding a host of chemical additives proven to be in our food. People have become increasingly conscious of the negative health effects of chemicals such as endocrine disruptors, artificial colors and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and even genetic modification of our food – especially when it comes to their children.

This has led companies as large and diverse as General Mills, Pizza Hut, Baskin-Robbins, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts and more to alter their products and menus to appeal to the growing consumer base who are trying to be as healthy as possible, even when consuming fast food, snacks and the occasional treat.

At the same time, however, there has been an equal push by many companies to try and cash in on this trend toward consumer awareness and health by obfuscating their ingredients through terms that sound healthy, but might be completely the opposite. One of the greatest threats is contained in the term “naturally flavored.” This, among many other marketing techniques, becomes especially important in the areas of more intense fitness that often relies upon supplementation to optimize one’s gains in the gym. Unflavored protein powder and products which can properly withstand heightened scrutiny are going to be part of the next phase of awareness as people begin drilling down behind the marketing and opportunism in the health and fitness industry. Let’s look at some of the hidden “gems” we all should become aware of.

Firstly, it is important to realize that the FDA has permitted food manufacturers to restrict listing the actual chemicals that often appear in food. These dangerous chemicals hide behind the general term “artificial flavors.”  As proof of this, in 2018 the FDA decided to ban 7 synthetic food additives after a lawsuit from environmental groups. As NPR reported at the time:

Ever heard of these food additives? Synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone, or pyridine?

These compounds can help mimic natural flavors and are used to infuse foods with mint, cinnamon and other flavors.

You’ve likely never seen them on food labels because food manufacturers are permitted to label them simply as “artificial flavors.”

This is,

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The Dangers of Synthetic Biology: A Biotech Firm Made a Smallpox-like Virus on purpose. Nobody Seems to Care – Global Research

24-02-20 06:54:00,

In 2017, the virologist David Evans made headlines when he used synthetic biology to recreate the extinct horsepox virus, which is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, a disease eradicated in 1980. Evans and his team, ordering the genetic material they needed through the mail, reportedly spent $100,000 on the research, an amount that seems small given the momentous implications of their work. “No question. If it’s possible with horsepox, it’s possible with smallpox,” German virologist Gerd Sutter told Science magazine in a press account of Evans’s work. A number of biosecurity experts and even The Washington Post editorial board joined him in voicing their concerns. Given the reaction Evans met, one might expect the news that yet another microbe related to the smallpox virus had been synthesized to set off similar alarm bells.

Yet when the American biotech company that funded Evans’s horsepox work, Tonix Pharmaceuticals, announced this January that it had successfully synthesized just such a microbe, vaccinia, no one seemed to take note.

Since the World Health Organization eradicated the smallpox-causing variola virus from nature, the only known samples of it have been held in two high-security facilities in the United States and Russia. But developments in synthetic biology, a field which includes the art and science of constructing viral genomes, have made it possible to create the smallpox virus in a lab. While there’s no evidence that anyone has done that yet, as Tonix’s work indicates, researchers are inching incredibly close to that line. Before it was eradicated, smallpox was responsible for 300 million deaths in the 20th century. The re-introduction of the disease—through negligence or malice—would be a global health disaster.

Tonix announced the new synthetic vaccinia virus quietly, burying the news in a press release for a poster that the firm presented at the American Society for Microbiology’s annual biodefense science and policy conference. The poster focused on the progress the company was making in testing Evans’s synthetic horsepox virus for use as a vaccine against smallpox, which Tonix calls TNX-801. Current smallpox vaccines are based on live vaccinia virus that is grown using cell culture technology.

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