Sunday, July 31, 2022


 SOCIAL MEDIA GIANTS ACTIVELY AIDED CDC CENSORSHIP: A treasure trove of documents obtained by the America First Institute and shared with the Washington Free Beacon make clear the active partnership between Facebook, Twitter and Google with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in censoring what the government viewed as “misinformation” about COVID-19.

“Over the course of at least six months, starting in December 2020, CDC officials regularly communicated with personnel at Twitter, Facebook, and Google over ‘vaccine misinformation.’ At various times, CDC officials would flag specific posts by users on social media platforms such as Twitter as ‘example posts,'” according to Joseph Simonson.

One of the many emails included among the documents is an email that “shows a senior CDC official appeared at Google’s 2020 ‘Trusted Media Summit.’ The conference, according to its website, was ‘for journalists, fact-checkers, educators, researchers and others who work in the area of fact-checking, verification, media literacy, and otherwise fighting misinformation.'”

Americans Likely to Be Tracked for CO2 Emissions Under SEC’s New Climate Rule: Consumers’ Research

Will Hild, executive director of Consumers' Research, in an interview with NTD's "Fresh Look America" on July 12, 2022. (NTD/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Americans Likely to Be Tracked for CO2 Emissions Under SEC’s New Climate Rule: Consumers’ Research

By Harry Lee and Paul Greaney

Will your CO2 emissions data be collected and reported to the government in the near future? A consumer rights group said that a new rule proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would lay the groundwork for doing so.

On March 21, the SEC proposed a rule titled “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors” (pdf). The nearly 500-page rule would require SEC registrants—mostly public companies, investment advisers, and broker-dealers—to report certain climate-related information including their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The GHG emissions are categorized into three scopes. Scope 1 is the registrant’s direct GHG emissions. Scope 2 is its indirect GHG emissions from purchased electricity and other forms of energy. Scope 3 is indirect emissions from upstream and downstream activities in a registrant’s value chain.

“Scope 3 requires these companies to estimate the carbon output of the use of their product by the consumer, which means they’re going to have to go out into the field and talk to consumers,” Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, America’s oldest consumer protection organization, said in an interview with NTD’s “Fresh Look America” program on July 12.

“Let’s say you bought an internal combustion engine lawnmower. The lawn mower company will need to know how many times you mow your lawn. They’re going to have to go out and ask people that and research that. And so you could see how this starts to lay the groundwork for scoring actual individual people’s activities,” said Hild.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s GHG inventory guidance, Scope 3 has 15 categories such as “purchased goods and services,” “use of sold products,” “upstream and downstream transportation and distribution,” “employee commuting,” and more.

“I do think it’s a rather frightening development, especially to come out of that Securities Exchange Commission, which shouldn’t be involved in any of this, to be laying the groundwork for something like that, and for having companies try and track that,” said Hild.

For example, a car company might add a tracker to the car to know the monthly mileage, said Hild.

“It’s not that outlandish to think that in order to keep themselves safe from securities plaintiffs attorneys, they’re going to engage in almost levels of surveillance around the way that products are used,” said Hild. “So they can say with some level of certainty that their estimations of CO2 Scope 3 output are accurate.”

‘Incredible’ Burden

Hild said Consumers’ Research opposes the rule because it would hurt individual investors and consumers.

“It’s bad for actual retail investors, people consuming investment products, funds, brokerage services, and seeking a return in the stock,” said Hild.

“This is a massive expense. It’s being added to the annual reporting requirements of publicly traded companies,” said Hild, noting the expense would reduce the returns of these companies, especially small-cap companies.

Hild said many companies looking to go public might be scared away because of the cost and go to a venture capitalist or a hedge fund for funding. That’s another harm to individual investors because they would lose opportunities.

Epoch Times Photo
Vehicles driving along the I-95 in Miami, Fla., on Jan. 10, 2022. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“So we think retail investors are hurt. But maybe more importantly, this is going to dramatically increase costs for consumers as they purchase products and services in the market,” said Hild. “Because it’s going to burden these companies with a regulatory burden. It’s also going to try to punish them for the supposed CO2 emissions of the products that they sell.”

“It is an incredible increase in the regulatory burden that the SEC is placing on public companies. If you add up every regulation that the SEC has ever put as far as disclosures on public companies, this is larger than the regulatory burden of all those other regulations. This is the largest thing they’ve ever done.”

The rule would also force public companies’ suppliers to provide all CO2 emissions-related information, even if they’re not publicly listed.

“It’s the SEC forcing effects onto companies that are not publicly traded, which is supposed to be outside the purview of the SEC. So this is a huge increase in the SEC’s effect on the markets, its effect on investors, and to reach into our daily lives,” said Hild.

ESG Scores ‘Similar’ to China’s Social Credit System

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. The ideas have become critical criteria for evaluating an enterprise’s long-term environmental, social, and governance risks. Hild said the proposed rule is an ESG-style policy and ESG scores are “similar” to China’s social credit scores.

China’s social credit system is notorious for quickly advancing from a banking and financial credit rating tool to a comprehensive government surveillance system.

Institutions and companies have developed different ESG rating systems to rank companies with ESG scores. But some experts have warned that personal ESG scores would soon follow.

Epoch Times Photo

In December, Doug Craddock, a FICO analyst, predicted that in 2022 “there will be an increased focus on developing new data assets such as individual carbon profiles.” FICO is a consumer credit rating agency.

“Over the longer term, we expect that ESG and climate risk evaluations will become an integral element of credit risk and affordability assessments,” added Craddock.

“I think it is highly likely that within the next two years, you’re going to see financial institutions start to use a personalized social credit score of some kind to make decisions about things like your access to loans, your interest rate, or whether you’re eligible for insurance coverage,” said Justin Haskins, director at The Heartland Institute.

In March, Standard & Poors, one of the world’s top credit rating companies, announced that ESG scoring would be expanded beyond company ratings to include U.S. states.

“The term has no real definition,” said Hild. “You can pretty much grade companies any way you want.”

Polarizing Views

Hild said the radical left had pushed the rule.

“This is exclusively the domain of the progressive left, and really its most radical wing. It was pioneered by them,” said Hild. “If you look at the ESG metrics and their goals, they pretty much line up entirely with what the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would want.”

The SEC has received a significant amount of comments during the public comment period that ended last month. The SEC may take months to review the comments before announcing its final decision.

Environmental groups, some government agencies, Democratic senators and House representatives, and some Democratic governors strongly support the rule. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked the SEC to adopt it “as proposed” in a co-signed letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler on June 17.

On the other hand, dozens of GOP senators, over 100 GOP House members, and dozens of GOP governors voiced their “significant concern” over the proposed rule, asking the agency to rescind the rule immediately.

“This sweeping, close to 500-page proposed rule is unnecessary and inappropriate, exceeds the SEC’s mission and expertise, will harm consumers, workers, and the entire U.S. economy at a time when energy prices are skyrocketing, and hijacks the democratic process in determining U.S. climate policy,” 12 GOP senators led by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said in a June 15 letter to Gensler (pdf).

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who won the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency case in the Supreme Court on June 30, sent in an additional comment (pdf) along with 23 state attorneys general on July 13, saying the high court confirmed in the case that “Congress—not a federal administrative agency—has the power to decide major issues of the day.”

Epoch Times Photo
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey speaks at an event in Inwood, W.Va., on Oct. 22, 2018. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“If the Commission insists on taking the same inappropriate course, we will be ready to act once again. We urge you to save everyone years of strife by abandoning the Proposed Rule,” said the attorneys general. The 24 attorneys general sent in their initial comment on June 15 (pdf).

An SEC commissioner also disagrees with the rule.

Hester Peirce, a Trump appointee and the lone Republican commissioner currently serving on the SEC, voted against the rule in March and issued a statement. All three Democratic commissioners voted for it.

“Let us be honest about what this proposal is really trying to do. Although styled as a disclosure rule, the goal of this proposal—as with other climate disclosure efforts—is to direct capital to favored businesses and to advance favored political and social goals,” Peirce said in her statement.

The SEC hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

COVID's Good News

COVID's Good News

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

At least the pandemic had a silver lining.

It taught parents that there are better alternatives to government schools.

When COVID hit, bureaucrats in control were eager to close schools. Many closed them if just one child tested positive, even though COVID is little threat to kids. 

Union teachers seemed eager to be paid not to work. Los Angeles teachers secured a contract that said they will “not be required to teach classes using live video conferencing,” and won’t be required to “provide instruction more than four hours a day.” Nice work if you can get it.

More than a million parents chose to leave the government system. They spent their own money to educate their children in private and religious schools.

Others tried home schooling.

Many had been skeptical but now discovered that their kids learned more, and their family life was enriched by teaching at home. The education establishment sneers at home schooling, but home-schooled students, even though they are more likely to be poor, score 30% higher on SAT tests. They also do better in college, and they are less likely to drink or do drugs.

Finally, even within government systems, school choice grew.

Kansas and Missouri expanded access to charter schools.

Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Dakota, Utah and Tennessee expanded Education Savings Accounts, which help parents try private schools.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed “the most expansive school choice legislation in the nation.” It gives money to families that families can spend on private school, home schooling, micro schools, tutoring or any other educational service that meets the needs of kids. Any kid can qualify. The state simply gives the family what they would have spent in the public school (up to $7,000). That’s much more generous and simpler than other states choice plans.

In San Francisco, voters recalled three school board members. Apparently voters did not like that they kept public schools closed and, instead of figuring out how to reopen, obsessed over renaming schools called Washington or Lincoln.

In Virginia, voters rejected governor Terry McAuliffe after he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” His opponent, Glenn Youngkin, said, “Parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.” Youngkin won.

“For far too long in K-12 education, the only special interest group has been the teachers unions,” wrote the Reason Foundation’s Corey DeAngelis in The Wall Street Journal. “Now, there’s a new interest group — parents. They are never going to unsee what they saw in 2020 and 2021, and they’re going to fight to make sure they never feel powerless when it comes to their children’s education again.”

Of course, union leaders hate the choice movement. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten calls it racist. “The real ‘pioneers’ of private school choice were the white politicians who resisted school integration,” she wrote. Today’s choice programs are “polite cousins of segregation.”

But that’s nonsense.

Related: Public Schools Are Cesspools of Debauchery

“Don’t tell me school choice is racist!” says Denisha Merriweather, founder of the new group Black Minds Matter. “[Choice opponents] are implying that parents, especially lower-income, black parents, should stay trapped in public schools that have failed their children for decades … We need a new system … empowered by parents.” 

School choice increases diversity, adds Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center’s Center for Education. “Modern-day school vouchers lead to more ethnic and racial integration in the schools, not less.” 

One poll showed that 74% of African Americans and 71% of Latinos support school choice.

Choice opponents are mostly unions, establishment Democrats and frightened suburban Republicans.

But now lots of innovation has begun. 

One example: Stop Foundation 4 Education gives awards to educational innovators. Its $10 million will go to nonprofits, entrepreneurs and community organizations that provide more educational options. Recipients include Rock by Rock, an education software company, and STEMuli, a game-based learning company.

School choice is good for everybody but unions, socialist bureaucrats and the tired education establishment.  

It’s one good thing accidently created by the pandemic.

This Is Joe Biden’s Recession

This Is Joe Biden’s Recession

Even the media can’t save Joe Biden from himself

On Thursday, the United States economy shrunk for a second quarter in a row.

We’re now in a recession. At least, what “experts” are calling a “technical” recession.

After a 1.6% decline in Q1, gross domestic product (GDP) fell at a 0.9% annualized rate, fueled mostly by out-of-control inflation resulting from Biden’s spending, energy, and foreign policies.

Of course, we already knew this. After all, these measurements are all retroactive — indicative of a time period that has already passed. Moreover, the Biden administration already knew this, demonstrated by their sudden attempt to shift the goalposts by redefining what a recession is…as if they can escape the voluntary impoverishment of the American people through a lexicographical technicality.

After all, in the words of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, we are not in a recession. We’re simply in a “period of transition in which growth is slowing.”


The concerning pattern here, though, is the mainstream media’s utter willingness to embrace Democratic Party talking points in their coverage of the slow collapse of the U.S. economy. Given that two consecutive periods of negative growth should signal calamity given the strength of the economy on Biden’s first day in office, the media’s framing of the issue is truly dumbfounding. 

  • CNN: “US economy contracts again, fueling recession fears”

  • CNBC: “GDP fell 0.9% in the second quarter, the second straight decline and a strong recession signal”

  • BBC News: “US economy shrinks again ringing recession alarms”

  • USA Today: “Economy shrank 0.9%, marking second straight contraction and raising recession worries”

  • Los Angeles Times: “U.S. economy shrank in second quarter, fueling recession fears”

  • Bloomberg: “US Economy Shrinks for a Second Quarter, Fueling Recession Fears”

And then there’s the “screw you, peasants” response from The Atlantic, with “How to Be Happy in a Recession.”

Isn’t it strange how they’re all essentially the same headline? Yes, the economy shrunk, but it’s not a real recession! Almost like they’re parroting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who said that he does not “think the U.S. is currently in a recession and the reason is there are too many areas of the economy that are performing too well.”

Would they be quite as forgiving if Joe Biden was, say, a Republican? After all, here are just a few headlines from the same mainstream media following the voluntary economic shutdown under Donald Trump in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 — a global pandemic — as opposed to the man-made economic suicide of Biden’s administration.

  • The New York Times: “U.S. Economy Plunged Into Recession in February”

  • NPR: “It's Official: U.S. Economy Is In A Recession.”

  • Los Angeles Times: “U.S. economy, in clear sign of recession, shrinks 4.8% in first quarter due to coronavirus”

And what did Jerome Powell say at the time? “We may well be in a recession.”

Yes, the recession of 2022 is different in many ways from the recession of 2020. But while the numbers imply that 2020 was worse, it’s important to understand that 2020’s recession was fueled almost entirely by the collapse of the worldwide economy due to (bad) COVID-19 policy.

Meanwhile, when the economy should be rampaging back to full strength following the removal of many of these policies, we’re staring down the barrel of recession and stagnation.

In that way, 2022’s recession is worse because it’s a recession Biden chose.

Follow Ian Haworth on Twitter, and subscribe to his upcoming show, “Off Limits with Ian Haworth”.