Futures Recover From Wednesday Rout As Yields, VIX Stabilize
Futures Recover From Wednesday Rout As Yields, VIX Stabilize
Whereas the stock plunge on Tuesday could be blamed on surging rates, the repeat tumble on Wednesday took place as Treasury yields dropped sharply, so with markets at a loss how…
Whereas the stock plunge on Tuesday could be blamed on surging rates, the repeat tumble on Wednesday took place as Treasury yields dropped sharply, so with markets at a loss how to read rate signals, so far this morning S&P e-mini futures have rebounded by 23 points ot 0.5% from yesterday's low just above 4,500 - a key support level according to JPMorgan - as volatility eased and global bond yields appear to have stabilize for now, and hours after China's latest easing measure when Beijing lowered mortgage lending benchmark rates on Thursday as monetary authorities step up efforts to prop up the slowing economy. 10Y Treasuries rose from session lows, last trading at 1.84%, European stocks fluctuated as the dollar index was little changed and crude oil slipped after a three-day rally as gold held around a two-month high.
China's cut to the one-year and five-year loan prime rates (LPR) which lowered the one-year LPR by 10 basis points to 3.70% from 3.80% - the second consecutive monthly cut - and the five-year LPR by 5 basis points to 4.60% from 4.65%, its first cut since April 2020....
... followed surprise cuts by China's central bank on Monday to its short- and medium-term lending rates, and came days after the central bank's vice governor flagged more moves ahead. China's central bank "should hurry up, make our operations forward-looking, move ahead of the market curve, and respond to the general concerns of the market in a timely manner," People's Bank of China Vice Governor Liu Guoqiang said on Tuesday, heightening market expectations for more stimulus.
So as China goes all-in on easing the economy again, western markets are enjoying some of the benefits from the stabilization and seeking a bottom in the recent rout which has pushed the Nasdaq to the worst annual start since 2008.
“There is a certain will to buy a dip in U.S. indices, yet the aggressive hawkish Federal Reserve pricing doesn’t allow the appetite to get restored,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “Strong earnings are the only hope for the equity bulls in the short-run.” Investors awaited data including unemployment claims and Netflix earnings.
The dominant theme for markets remains prospective Fed rate hikes and the possible reduction of its holdings in Treasuries starting later in 2022. The withdrawal of outsized stimulus threatens to inject more volatility across a range of assets.
“The focus of the rates market is still very much on the Fed and the anticipated dual-pronged attack of interest rate rises and balance sheet reduction, all of which we would expect to keep uncertainty levels elevated and volatility bubbling along over the coming weeks/months,” Simon Ballard, chief economist at First Abu Dhabi Bank, wrote in a note.
In premarket trading, automakers and energy companies held declines as crude oil slipped from a seven-year high. Alcoa rose 2.3% after the aluminum producer predicted rising demand and warned that any conflict between Russia and Ukraine could deepen the existing supply constraints for the metal. Other notable premarket movers:
- Ford (F US) drops 2.4% in premarket trading after Jefferies downgrades the automaker to hold from buy with limited scope seen for positive surprises.
- Advanced Micro Devices (AMD US) and NXP Semiconductors (NXPI US) both cut to neutral from overweight at Piper Sandler in note, with downside risks seen for both stocks. AMD slips 1.3% in premarket, NXPI unchanged.
- Casper Sleep (CSPR US) shares jump 12% in U.S. premarket trading, after the mattress retailer said that stockholders approved its merger with Durational.
- Silvergate Capital (SI US) gains 0.8% in premarket following Goldman Sachs analyst William Nance’s upgrade to buy from neutral.
- American Homes (AMH US) is down 4.9% in premarket after launching a stock sale via BofA, JPMorgan, Citi, Morgan Stanley.
- KemPharm (KMPH US) gained 4.6% postmarket after the biopharma company said it’s decided to make KP1077, a treatment for idiopathic hypersomnia, its next lead development candidate.
Investors now await U.S. data including unemployment claims and Netflix earnings after the close. The reporting season so far has been a little bit rocky, and investors need to monitor commentary from companies about price and wage pressures, Rebecca Felton, RiverFront Investment Group senior market strategist, said on Bloomberg Television.
“We do believe stocks can continue to go higher even as the Fed changes policy,” she said, adding corporate profits will still likely beat estimates.
In Europe, gains in the travel and media industries outweighed declines for carmakers and energy companies pushing pulling the Stoxx 600 Index up 0.15% after dropping as much as 0.5%. French semiconductor company Soitec sank 16%, the most in almost two years, after the executive committee at the French semiconductor company released a letter criticizing the board for an “incomprehensible” choice of new chief executive. Alstom SA fell after sales missed estimates. Citigroup has asked London staff to come into the office at least three days a week after the U.K. government ended a work-from-home requirement, with Goldman also telling staff to return.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the ECB has “every reason” not to respond as forcefully as the Fed to soaring consumer prices. The central bank has come under pressure to act, but officials say an interest-rate increase is highly unlikely this year since the current bout of inflation is driven by supply shocks and a spike in energy costs.
Stocks in Asia climbed, ending a five-day slump, as sentiment was boosted by a decline in Treasury yields from recent highs and a cut in China’s lending rates. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.1%, driven by consumer-discretionary and communication-services shares. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index had its best day since July 2020, leading regional benchmarks, and China stocks rose after banks cut borrowing costs, a move set to benefit struggling property developers. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield fell to 1.84%, as traders appeared calmer about the Federal Reserve’s next policy move. Prospects of faster-than-expected tightening hammered Asian equities this week, driving the MSCI Asia Pacific Index into negative territory for the year. “Equity adjustments to higher inflation are driven by higher input costs, interest rates, and higher selling prices,” DBS Bank Strategist Joanne Goh wrote in a note. “Consumer staples goods, which have lower pricing power, would be most affected by rising material costs.” Tencent and Alibaba were among the biggest contributors to the regional measure’s gain Thursday, as China’s internet regulator denied reports of drafting deals-related rules.
Japanese equities closed higher, after a volatile morning session following Wednesday’s selloff, as the market remained wary over Covid-19 infections and U.S. interest-rate hikes. Electronics makers and service providers were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which rose 1%. The benchmark swung between a gain of as much as 1.4% and loss of 0.6% Thursday. Fast Retailing and Sony were the largest contributors to a 1.1% rise in the Nikkei 225, which similarly fluctuated. “Speculation over U.S. rate hikes, inflation concerns spurred by rising oil prices and worry over corporate earnings are things weighing on sentiment,” said Takashi Ito, an equity market strategist at Nomura Securities. Still, “the drop in U.S. equities has softened, and the current situation isn’t likely to develop into any prolonged global stock rout.” Stocks rose in Hong Kong and China after Chinese lenders lowered borrowing costs for a second straight month. U.S. shares fell overnight, with the Nasdaq Composite entering a correction, as investors assessed outlooks for earnings growth amid the potential for monetary policy tightening.
Australian stocks also edged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 index rising 0.1% to close at 7,342.40, recovering from an earlier loss of as much as 0.5% as miners surged. Northern Star was the top performer after it maintained its full-year gold production forecast and issued a 2Q update. Kelsian Group was the worst performer, falling for a third day. Investors also assessed jobs data. Australia’s unemployment rate tumbled to a 13-year low in December, potentially setting the stage for the Reserve Bank to scrap its bond-buying program and bring forward interest-rate increases. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.9% to 12,497.10, notching its lowest close since June.
In rates, Treasuries trade near day’s highs as U.S. trading begins after erasing Asia-session losses, with futures near top of Wednesday’s range. The Treasury curve bull-flattened and the U.S. notes outperformed German and U.K. benchmarks with yields richer by 2bp to 3bp across the curve, spreads within 1bp of Wednesday’s closing levels; 10-year yield near 1.84% outperforms bunds and gilts by 2bp and 1bp. Peripheral spreads tighten at the margin. Bank issuance expected to continue following Wednesday’s jumbo Goldman Sachs deal, which saw swap spreads tighten, adding support for Treasuries. Treasury sells $16b 10-year TIPS new issue at 1pm ET.
In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed as most Group-of-10 peers consolidated while AUD topped the G-10 after Australia’s unemployment rate tumbled to a 13-year low. The Australian dollar touched its strongest level this week after the December jobless rate fell to a 13-year low, beating expectations. Short-end yields climbed amid bets on an early end to RBA’s bond buying. The euro traded in a narrow range around $1.1350; euro-dollar one-week implied volatility, which now captures the next Federal Reserve meeting, rises by as much as 118 basis points to touch 6.16%, the highest since Jan. 7; the relative premium rises above parity for the first time since mid-December and stands around 72 basis points as of 7am London. The pound edged higher against the dollar as Wednesday’s comments from Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey failed to derail market positioning for monetary tightening and sterling resilience. Money markets are close to fully pricing a 25bps hike next month. Norway’s krone was little changed even as the central bank said it’s on track to raise borrowing costs in March, citing a continued upswing in the oil-rich economy and signaling less worry over the resurgent virus. The yen steadied after Wednesday’s advance as traders sought clarity on the direction of the greenback. Benchmark 10-year JGB yields were little changed.
In commodities, crude futures are in the red; March WTI off 0.5% near $85.30, Brent back below $88. Spot gold holds a narrow range close to the top of Wednesday’s sharp rally near $1,840/oz. Base metals trade well, lead by LME nickel.
Looking at the day ahead, data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, December’s existing home sales, and the Philadelphia Fed’s business outlook for January. Meanwhile in Europe, there’s Germany’s PPI for December and the final Euro Area CPI reading for December. From central banks, the ECB will be publishing the minutes from their December meeting. Finally, earnings releases include Netflix, Union Pacific and American Airlines Group.
- S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,540.75
- STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 480.02
- MXAP up 1.1% to 193.34
- MXAPJ up 1.2% to 636.48
- Nikkei up 1.1% to 27,772.93
- Topix up 1.0% to 1,938.53
- Hang Seng Index up 3.4% to 24,952.35
- Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,555.06
- Sensex down 1.1% to 59,457.79
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% to 7,342.39
- Kospi up 0.7% to 2,862.68
- Brent Futures down 0.8% to $87.76/bbl
- Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,839.41
- U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 95.52
- German 10Y yield little changed at -0.02%
- Euro little changed at $1.1349
- Brent Futures down 0.7% to $87.80/bbl
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- The European Central Bank has “every reason” not to respond as forcefully as the Federal Reserve to soaring consumer prices, according to President Christine Lagarde
- Britain’s acute cost-of- living crunch will hit in April, instantly stretching household and company budgets and penalizing the poorest households, many of which have already been most impacted by Covid-19
- President Joe Biden said he thinks Vladimir Putin doesn’t want a full- blown war but will “move in” on Ukraine after amassing 100,000 troops on its border, part of an extraordinarily blunt assessment of Russian intentions and the West’s likely response
- A record-breaking rally in Chinese property bonds petered out on Thursday amid growing investor doubt over how much a reported plan to allow developers greater access to funds from presold homes will benefit distressed firms
- Near-record food costs risk climbing further as surging oil prices boost the appeal of turning more agricultural commodities into biofuels
- Turkey is set to pause its cycle of interest-rate cuts Thursday after a sliding currency and rising global energy prices pushed consumer inflation to its highest level since the beginning of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule
A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk
- US President Biden said he thinks Russian President Putin does not want a full-blown war but thinks Putin will test the West. Furthermore, Biden added that Putin has never seen sanctions like the ones he has promised, while he added that Ukraine joining NATO in the new term is not likely. (Newswires)
- US senior administration official said no option has been taken off the table in terms of sanctions on Russia and the US is prepared to look at sanctions on the largest financial institutions in Russia if there is a Ukraine invasion. Furthermore, the official stated that any move by Russian military to acquire land in Ukraine will merit a severe economic response and the White House also warned that if any Russian military move across the Ukrainian border, it will be met with a swift, severe and united response from US and its allies, while it added that any Russian aggression short of military action will be met with a decisive, reciprocal and united response. (Newswires)
- Russia's Kremlin notes there have been some positive signals on NATO's willingness to discuss some security issues with Russia but they are not fundamentally important to Russia; doesn't rule out a conversation between President Putin and US President Biden at some stage. (Newswires)
- Chinese military said a US warship entered waters near the Paracel Islands without permission, while Chinese forces followed the US ship and warned it to leave. Furthermore, China's military demanded that the US immediately stop such provocations or it will bear serious consequences of unforeseen events. (Newswires)
- Russia, Iran, and China will hold joint naval drills on Friday, according to ISNA. (Newswires)
- North Korea's Politburo meeting on Wednesday which was presided over by leader Kim, called for reconsidering trust building measures due to US hostile policy and ordered to examine a restart of all temporarily suspended activities.
- Asian equity markets eventually traded mostly higher but with price action choppy after US bourses waned.
- ASX 200 (+0.1%) lacked firm direction.
- Nikkei 225 (+1.1%) was choppy on FX fluctuations and positive domestic trade data.
- Hang Seng (+3.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (U/C) benefited from PBoC LPR action in APAC hours.
Top Asian News
- Asia Stocks Snap Rout as China Cuts Lending Rates, Yields Slip
- Fintech Giant Kakao Pay’s Top Execs Quit After Investor Revolt
- BHP Holders Set to Back Single Listing as Miner Mulls M&A
- Bank Indonesia Sends First Hints of Policy Normalization
- Major bourses in Europe are softer, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.2%, in an indecisive morning as initial post-PBoC upside fizzled out with catalysts/drivers minimal.
- US equity futures are firmer, ES +0.4%, picking back up from yesterday's pressure with the NQ +0.7% outperforms amid a pull-back in yields
- European sectors are mixed with Travel & Leisure modestly outperforming while Oil & Gas and Banking benchmarks lagging given crude and yield action respectively.
Top European News
- Valneva Soars After Vaccine Update; Bryan Garnier Says Buy Stock
- Turkey May Spend $3.8 Billion to Boost State Banks’ Capital
- Unilever CEO Misses Out on Advil Just as He May Need It
- Asia Stocks Snap Rout as China Cuts Lending Rates, Yields Slip
- Dollar drifts alongside Treasury yields after solid 20 year auction and ahead of jobless claims, Philly Fed and existing home sales.
- Aussie rules G10 roost as upbeat jobs data leads to more hawkish and aggressive RBA rate and QE expectations.
- Pound retains post UK inflation momentum but wary about further political upheaval, Norwegian Crown slips as Norges Bank sticks to tightening in March script and USD/TRY moves lower on an unchanged CBRT decision which emphasises the aim of prioritising the TRY.
- However, Yuan remains firm after PBoC sets near 4 year high CNY midpoint fix and trims Chinese LPRs.
- WTI and Brent front month futures are choppy intraday; WTI & Brent pivot USD 85.50/bbl and USD 88/bbl respectively.
- Spot gold and silver trade horizontally, but retain the gains derived in yesterday's session.
- LME copper remains supported and is nearing USD 10k/t to the upside once more.
- Kiruk-Ceyhan oil pipeline (150k BPD) has now returned to full capacity, according to Reuters citing a KRG source. (Newswires)
US Event Calendar
- 8:30am: Jan. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 225,000, prior 230,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.56m, prior 1.56m
- 8:30am: Jan. Philadelphia Fed Business Outl, est. 19.0, prior 15.4
- 10am: Dec. Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -0.5%, prior 1.9%; Home Resales with Condos, est. 6.42m, prior 6.46m
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
We're having more operations in my family at the moment than a WWII army general. One of my twins is having two grommets inserted today and the other twin has to have the same procedure soon and I'm leaning towards fresh knee surgery in 10 days time. My wife is the only one holding us all together currently! Talking of which she has already left for the hospital (first time up earlier than me in 11 years of knowing her) and has just WhatsApp-ed to say that I need to put Maisie's hair in a plait before I drop her and one of her brothers off at school given her absence. I didn't have the guts to say that I've no idea how to do this, so I've just spent 5 minutes on YouTube looking into it. So apologies if the EMR is a bit later than it could have been but I had to find out how to plait at 5am.
Sentiment has weaved in and out of positive/negative territory like the most tangled of hairstyles over the last 24 hours but the US session was ultimately defined by the S&P 500 nose diving in the last 45 minutes of trading to end the day down -0.97%. The tech sector was amongst the biggest laggards again (-1.37%) and the bigger tech companies in the discretionary sector (-1.81%) encouraged bigger declines there. Financials (-1.65%) also declined on the back of a flattening yield curve, even if the narrative around financial earnings released yesterday painted a slightly more positive picture than earlier reporters. The S&P is now -5.50% below its peak reached to start the year, while the NASDAQ’s -1.15% decline brings it -10.69% below its all-time high and into correction territory. Tech stocks taking a hit from higher discount rates makes intuitive sense, and the last time the Nasdaq had a -10% correction was February 2021, when real 10yr rates had also sold off around 50bps. Next week we see a slew of tech earnings which have the ability to magnify or reverse the move. Netflix is up today.
Sovereign yields have proved much quieter over the last 24 hours. The treasury yield curve bull flattened, with 10yr yields down a modest -0.9bps to 1.86%, while 2yr yields increased +1.5bps. Policy expectations for this year were left unchanged, the market is still pricing in 4 Fed rate hikes this year, having priced in 1 full additional hike to start the year. Our US economists flag that the risk from here is for even tighter rate policy, see more here.
In Europe it was a very different story however, particularly in the UK where data showed yet another upside surprise on inflation. The latest numbers put CPI inflation at +5.4% in December (vs. +5.2% expected), which marked the fastest pace of inflation since 1992, having surpassed the more recent peaks in both 2008 and 2011. In response, investors moved to dial up the probability of further hikes from the Bank of England, and overnight index swaps are now fully pricing in a 25bp rate hike from the Bank of England at their meeting in 2 weeks’ time, which is in line with our UK economist’s call. As a result, gilt yields rose across the curve as well, with the 10yr yield up +3.9ps to 1.25%, the highest in almost 3 years.
This pattern of higher yields was echoed elsewhere in Europe, where there was a significant milestone reached as yields on 10yr bunds traded in positive territory during the European morning for the first time since May 2019. They did fall back throughout the day, but in closing +0.7bps higher at -0.02%, it still marked the nearest to positive territory that they’d closed since that time. Otherwise on the continent, yields on French OATs (+1.3bps) hit their highest level since April 2019, those on 10yr BTPs (+2.2bps) hit their highest level since June 2020, whilst equities outperformed the US as the STOXX 600 advanced +0.23%.
The main force driving the recent shift from central banks has been the continued persistence of inflation, and developments in commodity markets yesterday suggested there’d be little respite on that front anytime soon. Oil prices continued to advance higher, with Brent Crude up +1.06% to $88.44/bbl, and WTI up +1.79% to $86.96/bbl, which in both cases puts them at their highest levels since 2014, whilst WTI’s gains means that its YTD performance now stands just below +15% after less than 3 weeks of 2022 so far.
Asian markets are stronger overnight after a reduction in Chinese borrowing costs coupled with Japan’s double-digit export growth. The Shanghai Composite (+0.30%) and CSI (+1.11%) are both up after the PBOC cut its one-year loan prime rate (LPR) by 10bps to +3.7% to while the five-year LPR – which is a reference rate for mortgages, was cut by 5bps from +4.65% to +4.6%, the first time since April 2020, as part of the efforts to shore up the economy. Regulators also seem to be easing access to cash for property developers from pre-sold properties in a sign that the authorities want to limit the recent property sector woes.
Elsewhere, the Nikkei (+1.21%) is trading higher after exports in Japan increased for the 10th consecutive month, growing faster than expected (+17.5% y/y) in December (vs +15.9% market expectations) as supply bottlenecks continued to ease in the final quarter of 2021. Although it did follow a +20.5% rise in November. Separately, the Hang Seng (+2.33%) is edging higher, breaking a five-day losing run as China’s easing measures improved investor risk appetite. Meanwhile, the Kospi (+0.49%) is holding in better.
Following on from this, equity futures are indicating a positive start in the DM world with contracts on the S&P 500 (+0.43%) and DAX (+0.27%) pointing higher.
President Biden held his second press conference since taking office at around the US close last night. It came at a crucial juncture for his administration, as he tried to rally support for his social spending agenda, particularly among recalcitrant members of his own party. The presser covered a range of topics, domestic and foreign. The main takeaway was some capitulation on the build back better bill, which Biden admitted would likely need to be broken into smaller chunks to pass, and his hawkish tone on the recent tensions with Russia. He believes Russia will "move in" on Ukraine in some form or another.
Here in the UK there were plenty of political headlines yesterday as Prime Minister Johnson remained under significant pressure from his own MPs following revelations of parties taking place in Downing Street during the lockdowns. Notably, one Conservative MP in a marginal constituency actually defected to the Labour Party, which is the first direct MP defection from the Conservatives to Labour or vice versa in 15 years, and yesterday the Telegraph reported that 11 Conservative MPs had submitted a letter of no confidence in Johnson’s leadership that morning. We don’t know how many have been submitted in total given the letters remain confidential, but a total of 54 are required (or 15% of Conservative MPs) to trigger a formal vote among all Conservative MPs, in which a defeat would mark the end of Johnson’s leadership.
The political developments came as there were further moves to ease Covid restrictions by the government in England, who said that they were no longer asking people to work from home if able to. In addition, they said that from January 27, there’d no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings, and that the NHS Covid pass would only be voluntary. So a reversal of the “Plan B” restrictions that had been put in place at the end of last year, which is occurring as the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations in England fell to a 2-week low yesterday, and the number of patients in a mechanical ventilator bed fell to its lowest since July.
To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, December’s existing home sales, and the Philadelphia Fed’s business outlook for January. Meanwhile in Europe, there’s Germany’s PPI for December and the final Euro Area CPI reading for December. From central banks, the ECB will be publishing the minutes from their December meeting. Finally, earnings releases include Netflix, Union Pacific and American Airlines Group.
“I Couldn’t Remain Silent”: Physician Assistant Fired For Reporting COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events To VAERS
"I Couldn’t Remain Silent": Physician Assistant Fired For Reporting COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events To VAERS
Authored by Matt McGregor via…
Authored by Matt McGregor via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
For her efforts to report injuries to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and to educate others in her hospital system on doing the same, Physician Assistant Deborah Conrad said she was labeled an anti-vaxxer and fired from her job.
Today, the New York-based Conrad tells her story at medical freedom conferences throughout the country, the most recent being one in Mississippi where physicians, scientists, and the vaccine injured warned state lawmakers to pull the COVID-19 vaccines from the market.
Conrad told The Epoch Times she began to see early danger signals in 2021 upon the vaccine rollout, and with that, resistance among her colleagues to report on them.
“After the vaccines came out, there was this uptick in unusual symptoms, some of which I had never seen in my 20-year career,” Conrad said. “In every case, it was in somebody who had received the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Conrad said she had never admitted an adult patient with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) until the COVID-19 vaccines.
“And every patient who came in with RSV was vaccinated for COVID,” Conrad said. “It wasn’t normal.”
Then, there were the adolescents with no previous medical conditions who had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine a week prior and, suddenly, they were struck with pneumonia and not able to function, she said.
“They weren’t able to walk or eat, and they were completely and totally fatigued,” Conrad said.
This was in 2021 before myocarditis was being discussed, so many of those early cases that were probably myocarditis were diagnosed as pneumonia, she said.
“A lot of these myocarditis cases came in with fevers because of this massive inflammatory response that was taking place in the body, so they would be labeled as septic, treated as if we were treating pneumonia or fevers of unknown origin,” Conrad said. “We’d treat them with antibiotics and all sorts of other things, not realizing that they were having heart failure.”
Conrad began reporting to VAERS, which she said was an overwhelming task not made easy by its multiple user-interface complications.
“My entire life had been taken over by doing these VAERS reports by myself,” she said.
In meetings with leadership, she would propose implementing a reporting system and hiring someone to manage the reports, she said.
‘A Hostile Environment’
“They kept telling me we’re looking into it and we’ll get back to you,” Conrad said. “Around April 2021, leadership came back and said no one else is reporting injuries—implying that I was crazy and there was nothing really going on with the vaccines.”
Leadership then audited her reports, she said and concluded that she was overreporting.
“I was then told that by doing VAERS reports and even discussing VAERS that it was an admission that the vaccines were unsafe, so it’s contributing to vaccine hesitancy,” Conrad said.
From there, it became a “very hostile environment” that compelled her to seek legal counsel, who wrote letters to the Department of Health, the CDC, and the FDA.
“No one cared,” Conrad said. “Finally, I had had it. It was so unethical; I couldn’t take it anymore. These VAERS reports are critical to assuring these vaccines are safe for us all. I could no longer be a part of a system that is lying to the American people.”
Conrad decided to become a whistleblower, telling her story on Del Bigtree’s The Highwire, knowing, she said, that it would cost her job.
“I couldn’t remain silent, even if it meant losing my career and everything I worked for,” she said. “I was fired a few weeks later and walked out like a criminal in front of all my peers.”
The initiative and education she had brought forth to report to VAERS were squashed that day, she said.
National Vaccine Injury Act of 1986
According to Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), under the National Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, it’s a federal requirement for health care workers to report vaccine-related adverse events to VAERS.
Fisher, whose son was harmed by the DTP vaccine in 1980, worked with other parents of vaccine-injured children in establishing the NVIC in 1982.
“The 1986 Act was driven by parents of DPT vaccine injured children asking the government to pass legislation to secure vaccine safety informing, recording, reporting, and research provisions in the vaccination system to make it safer, and to create a federal compensation system alternative to a lawsuit against manufacturers of vaccines that injure or kill children,” Fisher told The Epoch Times.
In addition to NVIC arguing that physicians and vaccine manufacturers should be giving informed consent and report injuries, the organization maintained they should also continue to be held accountable in a civil court to serve as an incentive for physicians to administer vaccines responsibly, for manufacturers to produce safer vaccines, and for adequate federal compensation to vaccine-injured children.
Read more here...
Spread & Containment
Air pollution can increase the risk of COVID infection and severe disease – a roundup of what we know
Air pollution can increase COVID risk by weakening our immune defences and exacerbating underlying health conditions.
The early part of the COVID pandemic led to a significant reduction in air pollution in many parts of the world. With lockdowns, travel restrictions and decreased economic activity, there was a noticeable drop in the emission of air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) and particulate matter (PM) that is fine enough to be inhaled.
Changes in air pollution varied depending on the location and the type of pollutant, but reductions were particularly noticeable in cities and industrial areas, where emissions from transport and industrial activities are typically high. In many areas though, air pollution levels quickly increased again as restrictions eased and activity resumed.
Along with having harmful effects on the environment, it’s well established that air pollution can have negative effects on human health, including increasing the risk of respiratory and heart problems and cancers. Emerging research suggests air pollution may also affect the brain and be linked to certain developmental issues in babies. The severity of these health effects can depend on the type and concentration of pollutants, as well as individual factors that affect a person’s susceptibility.
While there has been much focus on the way the pandemic affected air quality, it has also become apparent that air quality affects COVID risk – both in terms of the likelihood of contracting COVID and how sick people get with the infection.
How does air quality increase COVID risk?
Research has shown that long-term exposure to air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter under 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) and NO₂, may increase the risk of COVID infection, hospitalisation, and death.
A study in England, for example, showed long-term exposure to PM2.5 and NO₂ is associated with 12% and 5% increases in COVID cases, respectively, for every additional microgram of PM2.5 or NO₂ per cubic metre of air.
One of the primary ways that air pollution may increase the risk of COVID is by weakening the respiratory system’s defences against viral infections. We know long-term exposure to fine particulate matter that is inhaled can reduce the lungs’ immune responses and cause damage to them, which can make people more vulnerable to respiratory infections like COVID.
Read more: Long COVID linked to air pollution exposure in young adults – new study
Air pollution can also impact the immune system’s ability to fight off viral infections. Exposure to particulate matter, such as PM2.5, has been linked to increased levels of cytokines and inflammation in the body.
Cytokines are signalling molecules that help the immune system fight infections. But high levels can cause a “cytokine storm”, where the immune system overreacts and attacks healthy cells in addition to the virus. Cytokine storms have been associated with severe COVID and a higher likelihood of dying from the disease.
And notably, COVID binds to ACE2 receptors to enter a cell. In studies of animals, PM2.5 exposure has been linked to a significant increase in ACE2 receptors. PM2.5 may therefore increase the probability of COVID entering cells in humans.
Further, air pollution may increase the severity of COVID symptoms by exacerbating underlying health conditions. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to increased rates of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which have been identified as risk factors for severe COVID.
Air pollution may also increase COVID transmission rates by acting as a carrier for the virus. Researchers continue to debate the potential of respiratory droplets from infected people attaching to particulate matter in the air and travelling long distances, potentially increasing the virus’s spread.
How can I reduce exposure to air pollutants?
With all this in mind, reducing air pollution levels may be an important strategy for mitigating the impact of COVID and protecting public health.
This requires a combination of individual actions and collective efforts to address the sources of pollution. There are several ways you can decrease your and others’ exposure to air pollution, including:
Limit outdoor activity during high-pollution days. Check air quality forecasts and limit outdoor activities on “high” days. Try to go outside at times of the day when pollution levels are lower, such as early morning or late evening.
Think about your mode of transport. Using public transport, walking or riding a bike instead of driving can help to reduce pollution levels. If you do drive, try to carpool or use an electric or hybrid vehicle.
Read more: Wuhan's lockdown cut air pollution by up to 63% – new research
Use indoor air filters. Having air filters in your home can help reduce indoor pollution levels. Hepa filters can remove many pollutants, including fine particulate matter. Further, the use of Hepa air systems can successfully filter COVID virus particles from the air.
Samuel J. White advises on air quality and receives funding from Fédération Equestre Internationale.
Philippe B. Wilson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.spread lockdown transmission pandemic wuhan
Antisemitism on Twitter has more than doubled since Elon Musk took over the platform – new research
New research shows that antisemitic posts surged as the ‘free speech absolutist’ took over the social media giant. And it has settled at a higher level…
In the days after Elon Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, the social media platform saw a “surge in hateful conduct,” which its then safety chief put down to a “focused, short-term trolling campaign.” New research suggests that when it comes to antisemitism, it was anything but.
Rather, antisemitic tweets have more than doubled over the months since Musk took charge, according to research that I and colleagues at tech firm CASM Technology and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue think tank conducted. Between June and Oct. 26, 2022, the day before Twitter’s acquisition by Musk, there was a weekly average of 6,204 tweets deemed “plausibly antisemitic” – that is, where at least one reasonable interpretation of the tweet falls within the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of the term as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.”
But from Oct. 27 until Feb 9, 2023, the average was 12,762 – an increase of 105%. In all, a total of 325,739 tweets from 146,516 accounts were labeled as “plausibly antisemitic” over the course of our study, stretching from June 1, 2022 to Feb. 9, 2023.
Finding antisemitism with AI
To identify plausibly antisemitic tweets, my co-authors and I combined 22 published hate speech-identifying algorithms into a single mechanism and used even more machine learning to see which combinations of decisions led to the correct result. We then passed through all tweets – over a million in total – that contained any one of 119 words, phrases, slurs and epithets related to antisemitism.
No such process is perfect. We estimate our model to make a correct decision about 75% of the time. We also no doubt missed some antisemitic tweets not containing any of those 119 key words, as well as those taken down before early December when we collected the data.
We then used an algorithm to draw out 10 different themes of antisemitism seen in the tweets. Some centered around the use of specific antisemitic derogatory epithets. Others alluded to conspiracy theories concerning hidden Jewish influence and control.
Antisemitic tweets directed at Jewish investor and philanthropist George Soros warranted its own category. He was mentioned more than any other person in our data, over 19,000 times, with tweets claiming he was a member of a hidden globalist, Jewish or “Nazi” world order.
Another theme were tweets defending the rapper Ye, formerly Kanye West, who had made a number of antisemitic remarks after he had his account briefly reinstated by Musk.
Our research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, also found around 4,000 of the antisemitic tweets were focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These variously claimed that the conflict was caused by Jews, or that Jews secretly caused the U.S. to support Ukraine. They also contained direct antisemitism directed against the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish.
Musk rolls back content moderation
Musk’s acquisition of Twitter came on the back of what I have observed as a decadelong trend among tech giants to take more responsibility for hate speech, harassment, incitement, disinformation and other harms lurking in the information flowing through their platforms. Over that period, companies such as Facebook and Twitter gradually enacted policies to respond to extremism, hate speech and harassment, or increase “civility,” as Twitter itself described it in 2018, and built out the teams and tools to enforce them.
Musk, a self-professed “free speech absolutist,” pointed the platform in a different direction after taking control. In short order, Twitter’s independent Trust and Safety Council was dissolved, previously banned accounts were reinstated and over half of Twitter’s staff was laid off or simply left – including many of those responsible for enforcing the company’s hate speech policies.
As someone who has tracked hate speech on places like Twitter for around 10 years, I believe the changes to Twitter’s moderation practices are only partly to blame for the jump in antisemitism on the platform.
The media spectacle surrounding Musk’s takeover, along with his very vocal views on free speech, likely also encouraged exactly those people to join or rejoin the platform who had fallen foul of its previous attempts to confront hate. Our research gives some backing to this theory. Some 3,855 accounts we identified as posting at least one plausibly antisemitic tweet joined Twitter in the 10 days after Musk took over. This is, however, only a small proportion of the 146,516 accounts that sent at least one antisemitic tweet over the course of the entire study.
Little effect on curbing hate speech
A surge in hate speech on Twitter was flagged by researchers in the weeks after Musk took over, concerns the billionaire dismissed as “utterly false,” having earlier vowed to “max deboosted & demonetized” hateful tweets.
If Twitter has been de-amplifying antisemitism, our research shows almost no evidence of it. Before Oct. 27, antisemitic tweets received an average of 6.4 “favorites” and 1.2 retweets. Since then, they have averaged 6 “favorites” and 1 retweet. Although such engagement isn’t a perfect measure for visibility, tweets made much less visible to users would generally receive less engagement.
We also attempted to measure takedowns of antisemitic tweets. On Feb. 15, 45 days after we initially collected the data, we tried to re-collect all the tweets we identified as antisemitic. Tweets can be unavailable for lots of reasons, and Twitter’s enforcement is only one of them. Imperfect though this is, it does give us a tentative glimpse of what might be happening in regard to the removal of antisemitic posts. And across those dates, 17,589 antisemitic tweets were taken down – 8.5% of the total.
Rising tide of antisemitism
Our findings come at a time when many fear growing threats to Jewish communities. In 2021, the Anti-Defamation League tracked the highest number of antisemitic incidents – including harassment, vandalism and assaults – in the U.S. since they started tracking numbers in 1979. And this is not just a U.S. phenomenon; in the U.K., the Community Security Trust has recorded a similar spike in anti-Jewish activity, while in Germany, anti-Jewish crimes surged by 29% over the pandemic.
Studying social media has shown me again and again just how powerfully it helps to form the cultures and ideas that underlie its users’ behavior. Ultimately, the proliferation of tweets that hold Jews responsible for all the world’s ills, that circulate dark conspiracies of control and cover-up, or that fire derogatory attacks directed toward Jews, can only support antisemitism online – and in the real world.
Carl Miller is a Partner of CASM Technology and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. They conduct a wide range of public-interest social media research on online harms for a range of philanthropic, foundation and public sector institutions.extremism pandemic germany ukraine
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