At the start of 2022, both Rachel Fulton Brown, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago, and Donald J. Boudreaux, an economics professor at George Mason University, fed up with the draconian dictats and bureaucratic overreach of their respective institutions, published letters openly calling out their universities for their intellectual and moral failures in how they responded to the Covid pandemic.
Fulton Brown’s letter to UChicago president, Paul Alivisatos, and provost, Ka Yee C. Lee, lamented her school’s failure to lead the charge against fashionable Covid mitigation policies, while exhorting the institution to change course, celebrate those who exhibited the courage to “stand for SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY over POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING,” and acknowledge they have “students intelligent enough to see through the gaslighting and fear to the real questions we should be asking about what it means to be a great school.”
Boudreaux’s memo to GMU president, Gregory Washington, highlighted the intellectual bankruptcy and logical inconsistencies of GMU’s then newly announced booster mandate, specifically addressing GMU’s failure to acknowledge natural immunity, the fact that Covid vaccination does not stop the spread of the virus, and that members of the GMU community still freely interacted with the unvaccinated and unboosted off-campus.
By the time Fulton Brown and Boudreaux released their respective letters, both the University of Chicago and George Mason University had been operating with the standard suite of online classes, social restrictions, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements for nearly two years. Both schools justified their policies as being guided by science.
Teaching in the Pandemic Era: masked lectures under hot lights in empty auditoriums
In separate phone interviews, Fulton Brown and Boudreaux related some of their personal experiences teaching under these policies, and how they sometimes found themselves butting heads with administrators at their respective institutions.
At the University of Chicago, Fulton Brown, upon agreeing to teach in-person one semester, initially did so maskless. She was skeptical of the school’s mask policy to begin with. She found something cultish about the practice. She also found it difficult to effectively communicate in one when teaching in a “giant lecture hall” containing approximately eight people in an otherwise empty building.
Furthermore, students generally found it difficult to understand her when she lectured in a mask in that setting.
As one student, Declan Hurley, personally attested in an op-ed for one of UChicago’s student newspapers, The Chicago Thinker, this was especially true for those who were hearing-impaired.
Fulton Brown saw nothing dangerous about what she was doing. For practical reasons, it also made sense. But, before long, Fulton Brown was reprimanded. “The University of Chicago has a policy that people could report infractions,” she explained. “Someone saw me from the hallway and reported me and I got emails from both the dean of my division and the college.”
Fulton Brown’s maskless attire got her called into the principal’s virtual office.
At George Mason University, Boudreaux, who taught online from the start of the pandemic through the end of the 2020-2021 school year, returned to in-person teaching in the summer of 2021, at which time the school did not require him to wear a mask.
However, just before the start of the fall semester, GMU announced a mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.
Given that he teaches large auditorium classes at night under hot stage lights for three hours straight, Boudreaux said, “The thought of teaching with a mask on was just unbearable.” Given that he also has high blood pressure, Boudreaux’s physician also thought it would be ill-advised.
Subsequently, Boudreax requested that GMU administrators let him take the risk as a fully vaccinated adult and teach without a mask. His request though was denied.
Once more, Boudreaux found himself teaching online.
Navigating vaccine mandates and vaccine mandate backlash
Like many universities, both UChicago and GMU issued vaccine mandates in 2021.
UChicago provost, Ka Yee C. Lee, and executive vice president, Katie Callow-Wright, claimed, “The University has determined based on expert guidance that widespread COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to contribute to greater immunity, reduce the likelihood of sudden clusters of COVID-19 on campus, minimize the risk imposed by new variants, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious illness from the virus.”
GMU president, Gregory Washington stated, “Because we will come together as COVID-19 continues to circulate, we have an obligation to maintain a safe environment in which to study, work, and live.”
Both UChicago and GMU also weathered lawsuits over these decrees.
As Jamie Green, a rep from the HFDF, explained in an email, “once we filed, the university was very open to discussions. The university backed down from enforcing the mandate on the plaintiffs.”
However, Green said, UChicago “required a signature to statements with which the plaintiffs did not agree. What was being required was, in essence, compelled speech in order to obtain a religious exemption.”
Among other things, the statements pertained to the purported safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, and the dangers of Covid-19.
Ultimately though, Green stated, “[T]he university allowed the plaintiffs to edit the statement as they wished and sign that.”
At the latter, GMU law professor Todd Zywicki and the New Civil Liberties Alliance successfully challenged GMU’s vaccine requirement, with the university settling before trial, granting him an exemption based on his personal medical history. The settlement, however, did not extend to anyone other than Todd Zywicki.
Both universities also eventually came to issue booster mandates.
UChicago claimed, “[We] rely on consultation from experts from the University of Chicago Medicine, the City, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),” to justify their decision.
GMU assured, “Public health experts have advised that vaccines are still the most effective tools to combat COVID-19.”
Both ultimately incited even greater resistance.
Before long, Fulton Brown and Boudreaux released their respective letters.
The editorial team at The Chicago Thinker published a scathing op-ed which garnered national attention as it excoriated the university for forcing students to receive an “experimental vaccination” despite seemingly limited benefits and potential risks to students.
Boudreaux at GMU found himself fed up, saying “I just basically lost it. I’m not boosted. I had no interest in getting boosted. I don’t want to get boosted as a condition for keeping my job.”
Like Fulton Brown and his GMU colleague, Todd Zywicki, Boudreaux was ready to take his university to court. “I was all prepared to be a plaintiff to resist the booster mandate,” he said.
A lawyer with the NCLA had offered to represent him, Boudreaux stated.
However, before Boudreaux’s case could be brought to court, the issue became moot.
A divergence in policy: GMU reluctantly inches closer to normal while UChicago stays the course
The reason Boudreaux’s legal case became moot was because newly elected Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order prohibiting Covid vaccine requirements for state employees.
Shortly thereafter, Virginia attorney general, Jason S. Miyares, issued a non-binding opinion stating, “Public institutions of higher education in Virginia may not require vaccination against Covid-19 as a general condition of students’ enrollment or in-person attendance.”
Although nonbinding, it did effectively nullify the opinion of the previous attorney general, Mark R. Herring, which was supportive of such mandates. Hence it was sufficient to get several state universities in Virginia, including GMU, to rescind vaccine requirements for students.
Whatever GMU officials actually believed about the science backing their mandates and vaccines being “the most effective tools to combat COVID-19”, it would appear the politics of state leadership superseded all else.
UChicago, located in Illinois where Governor J. B. Pritzker issued an executive order in September 2021 requiring faculty and students at universities to be vaccinated for Covid or undergo weekly testing, still maintains its vaccine and booster mandates.
Whether the continuation of the policy is on account of expert guidance or the executive order remains unknown. What UChicago will do if and when this order is dropped remains uncertain.
In response to an email sent to President Paul Alivisatos of the University of Chicago regarding whether the school intended to maintain its vaccine and booster requirements into the Fall of 2022 and beyond, Gerald McSwiggan, the school’s associate director for public affairs, replied on March 8, “The University has made no announcements on COVID-19 policies for the 2022-23 academic year.”
Whatever UChicago decides to do, its reputation as a university of contrarian free thinkers has definitely taken another hit.
As Hurley from The Chicago Thinker had previously declared with a headline, “In Ending Mandates, George Mason University Picks Up UChicago’s Forfeited Crown.”
Universities follow the politics, not the science
The imagery evoked by Hurley’s headline, although not without its appeal, may give too much credit to the administrators at GMU, however.
The trajectories of Covid policies at the University of Chicago and George Mason University are more similar than they are different. Furthermore, the paths they followed seem all too representative of how most universities responded to Covid.
They were quick to shut down. They imposed authoritarian policies on faculty and students when they reopened. They added additional restrictions when fashionable or mandated by local or state political leaders, with few exhibiting the courage to “stand for SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY over POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING,” or acknowledge they have “students intelligent enough to see through the gaslighting and fear to the real questions we should be asking.”
When restrictions were lifted, it was often only because they were nudged (or required) to do so by politicians – or when said politicians lifted their own orders upon realizing their policies might be costing them politically, as was the case with masks at many schools, including UChicago and GMU.
Throughout the pandemic, many universities claimed some moral or intellectual high ground as they wrapped their decrees and their actions in the language of science and safety.
However, in reality, over the past two years many of these universities revealed themselves to be little more than political actors as intellectually bankrupt as they are morally corrupt.
Tesla Japanese rivals debut concept vehicles in latest challenge
Japanese automakers will unveil their latest all-electric concept vehicles at Japan Mobility Show 2023 in Tokyo.
Most Japanese automakers have been slow to enter the all-electric vehicle market, which doesn't bother Tesla's CEO Elon Musk one bit. The lack of a serious challenge by the Japanese auto industry, including in the luxury market, has allowed Tesla (TSLA) - Get Free Report to dominate deliveries in the global market by hundreds of thousands of vehicles.
Toyota currently only offers one all-electric vehicle, the bZ4X, which retails for about $42,000 and has a 252-mile range. The company's luxury affiliate Lexus does not have an EV on the market yet.
Subaru's only contribution to the EV industry is the Solterra SUV, which retails for about $45,000 and has a 220-mile range.
Nissan, on the other hand, was an innovator in the EV industry with its launch of the Leaf in 2010. The vehicle was the first mass-produced electric vehicle in the world and the top selling EV on the market in its first four years. However, the company's luxury brand Infiniti may not have an EV on the market until 2026.
Some of the leading Japanese luxury automakers, led by Nissan's Infiniti, Toyota's Lexus and Subaru, will reveal their latest battery electric vehicle concepts at the Japan Mobility Show 2023 in Tokyo beginning Oct. 24. The show will be open to the general public from Oct. 28 through Nov. 5 after a couple of press and special invitation days.
Subaru reveals electric sportscar concept
Subaru (FUJHY) - Get Free Report said it will showcase the company's vision of future mobility and communicate its efforts to strengthen its bond with society, as company president Atsushi Osaki on Oct. 25 unveils the Subaru Sport Mobility Concept sportscar model at the show.
"This concept model expresses the enjoyment that Subaru offers in the age of electrification, embodying the pleasure of going anywhere, anytime, and driving at will in everyday to extraordinary environments. Driving with peace of mind allows us to embark on exciting new adventures. This is a battery electric vehicle (BEV) concept that evokes the evolution of the Subaru Sport values," the company said in an Oct. 10 statement.
Subaru's other all-electric showcase at the show will be its first all-electric vehicle, the Solterra ET-HS SUV.
Toyota (TM) - Get Free Report also arrives at the show for an Oct. 25 unveiling of its Lexus lineup of battery electric vehicle concept models, as part of its goal to transform into an all-electric brand by 2035. Lexus is expected to debut a sports car that it has teased for a year, as well as a sports hatchback, Electrek reported.
After viewing the Lexus concept models, guests are invited to try out the company's "Lexus Electrified VR Experience" virtual reality driving simulators, the company said in an Oct. 11 statement. The exhibit will allow visitors to experience a future world of driving where electrification and artificial intelligence technologies help cater to individual customer needs and connect with society. Guests have the opportunity to fully engage in a VR-exclusive setting, enabling them to encounter the personalized driving experience and enhanced lifestyle that Lexus delivers.
Infiniti unveils its first electric vehicle
Nissan's (NSANY) - Get Free Report luxury brand Infiniti on Oct. 24 will debut its first all-electric model, a new concept Vision Qe electric vehicle at the Japan Mobility Show that it expects to be ready to sell to the public in 2026. Infiniti will also showcase other new models at the show as well.
The newly designed Infiniti EV sedan is expected to have a longer wheel base with shorter overhang, new headlight and taillight design, single light strip across the width and a rear resembling a Porsche. The company has said it plans to produce its first electric vehicle at its Canton, Miss., factory, along with a new crossover EV.
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The Myth Of The Invincible Dollar
The Myth Of The Invincible Dollar
Authored by Michael Maharrey via SchiffGold.com,
I write a lot about the national debt.
And most people…
I write a lot about the national debt.
And most people don’t care.
That’s because there’s a widespread belief that the dollar is invincible.
The prevailing attitude is that the US government can borrow and spend indefinitely. After all, it hasn’t caused a problem so far. But a long fuse can burn for a long time before it finally reaches the powder keg.
I don’t know how long we have before the debt bomb explodes, but I do know we get closer and closer every day. And sadly, very few people care enough to address the problem.
The recent government shutdown drama is a case in point.
A stopgap spending deal swept the shutdown threat out of the headlines, but it’s still there lurking in the shadows of the halls of Congress. If lawmakers don’t figure something out by Nov. 17, the government will be forced to shut down.
There isn’t much talk about a shutdown right now, but when people do discuss the possibility, they almost always focus on the mythical crisis that shuttering the federal government might cause. That sidesteps the real problem — out of control government spending.
Conventional wisdom is that Congress needs to do whatever it takes to avoid a shutdown. If that means maintaining spending at current levels or even increasing spending, so be it. The handful of intransigent members of Congress who want to hold out for spending cuts are always cast as the bad guys in this kabuki theater. As economist Daniel Lacalle put it in a recent article published by Mises Wire, “The narrative seems to be that governments and the public sector should never have to implement responsible budget decisions, and spending must continue indefinitely.”
But the whole government shutdown charade is merely the symptom of a much deeper problem. The US government is over $33 trillion in debt. In fact, the Biden administration managed to add half a trillion dollars to the debt in just 20 days.
It’s hard to overstate just how bad the US government’s fiscal situation has become. We have a trifecta of surging debt, massive deficits, and declining federal revenue, and the federal government’s spending addiction is at the root of the problem. Lacalle summed it up this way.
The problem in the United States is not the government shutdown but the irresponsible and reckless deficit spending that administrations continue to impose regardless of economic conditions.”
In August alone, the Biden administration spent over $527 billion. In fact, the federal government has been spending an average of half a trillion dollars every single month.
And there is no end in sight. There is no political will to substantially cut spending. Meanwhile, the federal government is always looking for new reasons to spend even more money. With war raging in the Middle East, there is already a proposal to send aid to Israel and possibly add more aid to Ukraine to that deal.
As Peter Schiff said in a recent podcast, the US can’t afford peace, much less war.
Lacalle summarizes the current fiscal condition of the United States government. It’s not a pretty picture.
In the Biden administration’s own projections, the accumulated deficit between 2023 and 2032 would be over 14 trillion US dollars, assuming that there would be no recession or employment decline. Public debt has risen above 33 trillion US dollars, and the budget deficit in a period of growth and strong job creation is over 1.7 trillion US dollars. As of August 2023, it costs $808 billion to maintain the debt, which is 15% of the total federal spending, according to the U.S. Treasury. Interest rates are rising at the same time as the government rejects all budget constraints. This is a monetary timebomb.”
And as Lacalle pointed out, the government keeps spending no matter what’s happening in the economy. According to government people and their academic support staff, there is never a good time to cut spending.
When the economy grows and there is almost full employment, governments announce more spending because it is ‘time to borrow,’ as Krugman wrote. When the economy is in recession, governments say that they need to spend even more to save the economy. In the process, government size in the economy increases, and record tax receipts are fully consumed in no time because expenditures always exceed revenues.”
The constant borrowing and spending is fueled by the myth that borrowing doesn’t really matter, and the rise in popularity of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) put that myth on steroids.
MMTrs claim that spending doesn’t matter. As Lacalle notes, they even go as far as to claim that the world could “run out of dollars” if the federal government took significant steps to rein in deficit spending causing a “monetary meltdown.”
It is so ludicrous that it should not even have to be discussed. The world does not run out of dollars if the United States government cuts its imbalances. Global dollar liquidity is a result of central bank swaps between monetary institutions. There is no such thing as a global dollar liquidity crisis because of a United States surplus, as we saw when it happened in 2001. Furthermore, the idea that the dollar supply is created only by government deficit spending is insane. This distorted view of the economy places government debt at the center of growth instead of private investment. It tries to convince you that a deficit is always positive and that the only creation of currency must come from unproductive spending, not from productive investment credit growth. Obviously, it is wrong.”
But no matter how loudly contrarians sound the warning, people in the mainstream continue to shrug their shoulders at the mounting debt and ever-growing deficits. They seem to believe that since it hasn’t mattered yet, it won’t matter ever.
The dollar’s status as the global reserve currency enables the US government to get away with a lot. As Lacalle explains, global demand for dollars is still high. The dollar index (DXY) is rising because the monetary imbalances of other nations are larger than the United States’ challenges.
This has lulled Americans into a false sense of security. A lot of Americans, including most in positions of power, seem to think the US can do whatever it wants when it comes to borrowing and spending.
Lacalle makes a sobering point — “All empires believe that their currency will be eternally demanded, until it stops. ”
When confidence in the currency collapses, the impact is sudden and unsurmountable. Global citizens may start to accept other independent currencies or gold-backed securities, and the myth of eternal U.S. debt demand vanishes. Unfortunately, governments are always willing to push the limits of fiscal responsibility because another administration will face the problem. The United States’ rising debt and deficit irresponsibility means more taxes, less growth, and more inflation in the future. Government debt is not a gift of reserves for the private sector; it is a burden of economic problems for future generations. Sound money can only come from fiscal responsibility. Currently, we have none.”
The bottom line is the dollar is not invincible.
The fuse is burning.
Nigerian gov supports AI initiatives with $290K in grants
The recently introduced Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme is designed to facilitate the widespread utilization of AI to drive economic advancement.
The recently introduced Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme is designed to facilitate the widespread utilization of AI to drive economic advancement.
The Nigerian Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, revealed on Friday, Oct.13, that the Federal Government intends to grant a sum of $6,444 (5 million naira) each to 45 artificial intelligence (AI) focused startups and researchers. This figure makes a total of $289,980 (225 million naira) being given out for the purpose of AI.
This information was disclosed by the minister in a post on X. The recently introduced Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme is designed to facilitate the widespread utilization of Artificial Intelligence to drive economic advancement.
As outlined on the scheme's official website, the focal areas encompass Agriculture, Education and Workforce, Finance, Governance, Healthcare, Utility and Sustainability. To be eligible for the grant, applicants are required to form a consortium, comprising a startup or tech company, a researcher from a Nigerian university, or a foreign researcher, as stated by the Ministry.
To support the mainstreaming of the application of Artificial Intelligence for economic prosperity, we’ve launched the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme to fund 45 consortia of startups and researchers to allow them explore further opportunities to deepen their… pic.twitter.com/CaD5Vqs8Du— Dr. 'Bosun Tijani (@bosuntijani) October 13, 2023
Applicants should present a research proposal in line with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy's AI focus areas. Furthermore, they must provide a comprehensive project proposal that highlights the project's potential economic impact in Nigeria.
In addition, a proven track record of excellence in research or entrepreneurship is a requirement. Finally, applicants are expected to publish at least one peer-reviewed article within one year of grant receipt.
In August, the Nigerian government extended an invitation to scientists of Nigerian heritage, as well as globally renowned experts who have worked within the Nigerian market, to collaborate in the formulation of its National Artificial Intelligence Strategy.
The application period commences on Oct.13, 2023, and concludes on Nov. 15, 2023. All submissions should be made through the specified online platform. The Ministry has indicated that a panel of AI specialists will assess the proposals. Those who make it to the shortlist will receive email notifications and be invited for interviews.grants china
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