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Fauci spars with Republican congressman over when to lift Covid restrictions – live | US news

Biden to deliver remarks on Russia this afternoon

Fauci and Jordan spar over when to lift coronavirus restrictions


Fauci and Walensky sworn in for House subcommittee hearing

A senior member of Japan’s ruling party has said that cancelling the Tokyo Olympics “remains an option” if the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen.

“If it seems impossible to do it any more, then we have to stop, decisively,” Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic party, said in a TV interview that has yet to be aired.

While Nikai did not call for the Games to be called off, his comments are at odds with the united front presented by the Japanese government, Tokyo 2020 organisers and the International Olympic Committee [IOC] – all of which insist that the delayed event will open as planned on 23 July.

The pandemic shows no signs of slowing in several parts of the world, while experts in Japan have warned that the country has entered a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections driven by mutant strains of the virus.

Nikai, a powerful party faction leader who was instrumental in electing Yoshihide Suga as prime minister last year, said cancellation was “of course” an option, telling the TBS network: “If the Olympics were to spread infections, then what are the Olympics for?”

Chauvin will not testify in murder trial and defense rests

Two days before Andrew Yang announced he was running to be New York City’s next mayor, he made a remarkable admission.

As Covid-19 ravaged the city – more than 50,000 people have succumbed to the virus – the tech entrepreneur had left town, retreating to his second home north of New York.

“We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan,” Yang told an interviewer to explain his decision. “And so, like, can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?”

Many New Yorkers couldn’t just imagine it, they had lived it – as Yang’s mayoral rivals were quick to point out. But if New York election watchers were expecting that moment to torpedo Yang’s campaign, they were wrong.

Despite a slew of other missteps – Yang’s ill-advised plan to crackdown on unlicensed street vendors, many of whom are impoverished immigrants, and his enthusiastic National Pet’s Day confession that he had given away his pet dog – Yang has led his Democratic competitors in polling since he announced his candidacy.

So can he win?

Biden announces new sanctions on Russia over election interference

Fauci and Walensky to testify before House amid J&J pause

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Derek Chauvin tells court he will not testify in own defense – live | US news

Good morning, and welcome back to our live coverage of the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Proceedings are entering their 14th day of witness testimony.

We don’t know whether Chauvin will take the stand in his own defense, and we won’t know until it does or doesn’t happen. But judge Peter Cahill’s previous comments about trial scheduling give a sense of a potential time-frame if that were to take place.

Cahill has said several days ago that he expects testimony to end this week and will potentially give jurors the day off Friday, with closings starting on Monday; this would suggest that Chauvin would testify today should he do so.

Chauvin, a white former officer with Minneaoplis’ police department, is standing trial for charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, over the 25 May 2020 death of George Floyd. While arresting Floyd, who is Black, Chauvin pressed his knee against the man’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd, who was pushed against the pavement, subdued in the prone position, died after being restrained.

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty pleas to the counts against him.

As Chauvin’s trial appears to near a close, Minneapolis remains on edge, both due to these proceedings and the police killing of a Black man, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, during a traffic stop in a nearby suburb Sunday night. Former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer Kim Potter was arrested Wednesday on a second degree manslaughter charge, in Wright’s shooting.

Potter resigned from the police department on Tuesday; the department’s chief, who has said that she meant to fire her Taser, not her gun, has also resigned.

Here’s a recap of what happened during Wednesday’s proceedings:

  • Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, called forensic pathologist Dr David Fowler to the stand as an expert witness. Fowler claimed that Floyd might have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning while on the ground, as that his head was near the tail pipe of a police vehicle. “There is exposure to a vehicle exhaust, so potentially carbon monoxide poisoning, or at least an effect of carbon monoxide in his bloodstream,” he testified. Fowler maintained Floyd’s heart conditions, fentanyl and methamphetamine consumption, and possible carbon monoxide poisoning, “all of those combined to cause Mr Floyd’s death”.
  • The prosecution, during cross-examination, pointed out what seemed to be a big problem for this defense theory. The police vehicle would have had to be running to emit carbon monoxide for Floyd to be exposed to it and its possible dangers. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell pushed Fowler to explain whether he could substantiate this. “Cutting even more to the chase, how do you even know the car was on?” Blackwell said. Fowler testified that he “made the observation” of liquid “dripping from a tail pipe”. Blackwell pressed Fowler to explain whether this connection was guess-work. “It’s not an assumption. It was an evaluation which, in my mind, the vehicle was running,” he responded.
  • In what appeared to be a positive turn for prosecutors, Fowler also stated during cross examination that Floyd should have received emergency medical aid on the scene of his arrest. Fowler made this statement after differentiating between death and cardiac arrest. Chauvin’s defense has repeatedly argued that Floyd passed away from an acute cardiac event, which was caused by longstanding heart problems and/or his drug use. By distinguishing between cardiac arrest and death, Fowler enabled more questioning on this topic. Blackwell pressed Fowler on whether immediate medical aid could have prevented cardiac arrest from becoming deadly. “Immediate medical attention for a person who’s gone into cardiac arrest may well have reversed that process,” Fowler commented.
  • Blackwell’s cross examination extensively hammered this point, pushing Fowler to say whether he felt Floyd should have gotten emergency medical aid. “As a physician, I would agree.” Blackwell then said “are you critical” of the fact that Floyd didn’t get this medical attention. “As a physician, I would agree,” Fowler commented.
  • Cahill ruled that Morries Hall, who was with Floyd in the car before his deadly encounter with police, had successfully argued that he could invoke his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. This meant Hall would not take the stand. Hall told Cahill he wouldn’t answer questions, saying: “I’m fearful of criminal charges going forward. I have open charges that’s not settled yet about personal stuff.” Hall’s attorney had contended that even if Hall’s testimony were limited to his being in the car with Floyd, it could expose him to potential drug possession or even third-degree murder charges. Without going too much into the legal weeds, the basic gist of this concern is that one might be held criminally liable for a death in Minnesota if behavior, like drug possession, might have helped cause this death.

That’s it for the moment. We will be back soon as news develops.

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Body-cam footage shows Ohio man killed by police after struggle in hospital | Ohio

Officers conducting a routine pat-down of a man in a hospital emergency room found a gun in his waistband, spurring a struggle over the weapon and a standoff that ended in officers killing him, according to police body-camera footage released on Wednesday.

Officers had been searching Miles Jackson, a black man, at the hospital on Monday in preparation for a custody exchange over warrants he had out for his arrest. Jackson began to struggle with the two officers after one of them felt the gun, video showed.

One of the officers used a stun gun on Jackson after they fell to the floor, while the other attempted to pull Jackson’s hands away from his waistband. A shot can then be heard in the video, apparently from the gun in Jackson’s waistband.

The officer who stunned Jackson took cover outside the room. The other officer appeared to return fire at Jackson once before taking cover behind a hospital bed, video showed.

Officers shouted for minutes at Jackson, 27, to raise his hands and put them on his head. An officer eventually used a stun gun for a second time on Jackson, who was on his side on the hospital room floor. Another shot can be heard in the video before officers opened fire.

Jackson died in the shooting at Mount Carmel St Ann’s hospital in suburban Columbus.

Jackson had apparently been brought to the hospital earlier that day, walked away, and then was found in a nearby bank parking lot. Before Jackson was taken back to the hospital, a Westerville officer patted him down briefly, according to footage from the officer’s body-cam video.

“I’m just going to pat you down real quick, make sure you ain’t got nothing on you, right, no weapons, nothing like that?” the officer said. Jackson repeatedly asked for a cigarette, saying he had anxiety.

Columbus police were called to the hospital because Jackson had outstanding warrants in the city.

Once Jackson was in a room in the hospital’s emergency room, an officer briefly handcuffed his left hand to the hospital bed. A few minutes later, an officer removed the handcuff and began collecting Jackson’s property.

“You don’t have nothing sharp in your pockets, do you?” the officer asked. “Hopefully somebody would have caught that earlier.” About a minute later, a bullet dropped from Jackson’s pants.

“Uh oh. Got a little bullet action,” the officer said calmly as he picked it up. “Don’t see people carrying those around every day.”

Within the next minute, the officer told his fellow officer to get Jackson’s arm around him. “He’s got a gun,” the officer said.

Over about three minutes, officers outside the room shouted dozens of commands at Jackson, lying on the floor, to put his right hand over his head with his left hand. One Columbus officer was still in the room, behind the bed, with his gun pointed in Jackson’s direction, video showed.

“I’m just scared, guys,” Jackson said at one point. Later, he said, “So if I move y’all not going to shoot me. They’re not going to shoot me?” He also told officers he wasn’t going to do anything and that he was leaning on his right hand.

A police officer instructed Jackson again to raise his right hand.

“Slowly put your right hand up in the air. Slowly,” she said. When Jackson said he was putting the gun down, the officer replied, “Do not touch the gun. Let go of the gun and put both of your hands up over your head.”

The second use of the stun gun, the shot and then the police shooting erupted within seconds after her orders, the video showed.

On Wednesday, Westerville’s police chief placed the two officers who initially came into contact with Jackson on administrative leave. He told residents “that if policy violations are found, there will be an appropriate level of accountability”.

Westerville officers Eric Everhart and David Lammert, who are both white, will be on leave while an internal investigation into the shooting is conducted, the department said. But the department’s investigation cannot overlap or interfere with the independent investigation the attorney general, Dave Yost, is conducting, Charles said, so it will be on hold until that is completed.

Columbus police identified the officers in the shooting as Andrew Howe and Ryan Krichbaum, both 15 year veterans of the agency.

Emergency room staff tried to revive Jackson. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, authorities said. No officers, hospital staff or physicians were injured, officials said.

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Covid is ravaging American jails and prisons – and inmates are rightly rising up | Coronavirus

On 4 April, inmates in a St Louis jail commenced an uprising. They smashed windows, chanted, lit fires and hung signs communicating their needs to the outside world. One sign held out of the windows simply read “HELP US”. It is the second uprising at the ironically named St Louis City Justice Center and the fourth major disturbance at the jail within the last year.

Many of the inmates are in pre-trial detention and have been sitting in jail since the beginning of the pandemic without trials or even a timeline for when they should expect trials. Protesters called for court dates and for humane treatment, and a corrections taskforce report from March concluded that those locked inside were feeling isolated from their families and frustrated over the lack of precautions being taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 within the jail. They are not alone; another uprising took place this time last year at a prison in Kansas, and protests have been relatively commonplace across the country as people have worked to expose the hidden hyper-pandemic happening within our nation’s jails, prisons and immigrant detention centers. The United States needs to take this as an opportunity to empty out its criminally overcrowded jails, or continue to perpetuate yet another unforgivable mass atrocity that disproportionately affects immigrants, poor people and Black Americans.

While the pandemic has been particularly brutal in the United States in general, the situation has been much worse for those living in the world’s largest system of incarceration. According to a recent New York Times report, 34 out of 100 people in prisons across the country have contracted the virus, more than triple the rate of the general US population. During the pandemic, an average of seven people locked behind bars have died of Covid-19 every day. One immigration detention center in Virginia saw a nearly 100% infection rate. The real overall numbers are most likely higher due to inconsistent and poor testing measures. Many inmates, like the 3,800 who were infected at the Fresno, California, county jail, have not yet been to trial.

This was the case for Preston Chaney, a 64-year-old Black man who died in a Texas jail because he couldn’t afford $100 bail. In effect, he died because he was too poor to be deemed worthy of survival during a pandemic. According to a report by the University of Texas, 80% of all those who died in Texas county jails were in a similar position to Chaney and those who rose up in St Louis – trapped in a box awaiting trials that they may not live long enough to see. And there are also cases such as Bruce Norris, a 69-year-old Black man in Pennsylvania who was in the process of receiving parole after serving nearly 45 years in prison. He died of Covid before the governor could officially sign off on his release.

Protests demanding the release of people locked inside immigration centers, prisons and jails began almost as soon as the pandemic started. The protests helped define the earliest tactic of the pandemic era, the car caravan. And they have continued throughout the last year, both inside and outside jails like the solidarity protest outside of the St Louis City Justice Center. A memo by Data for Progress reported that the majority of likely voters supported some form of decarceration in response to the pandemic. Contrary to conservative talking points, decarceration is not an unpopular leftist policy; it is a humanitarian demand that most Americans support.

Many local and state governments seemed to follow along with the calls from protesters and public health officials, but those trends have started to reverse. A February article by Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza and Sean McElwee, of the Appeal, covered the return to the pre-pandemic norm:

Florida’s Broward County, which reduced its jail population early in the pandemic to under 3,000 “for the first time in decades,” now has about 3,500 people incarcerated – putting its jails at nearly 80 percent full. Even more dire are the situations in Texas’s Harris County, which has jailed more than 9,000 people and has just 25 beds left, and California’s Los Angeles County, where more people are being held before trial for longer than this time last year, before the pandemic.

Despite the uproar around the death of Preston Chaney, Harris county jail, where he died, is nearly full. And while President Joe Biden is gearing up to vaccinate as many Americans as possible, incarcerated people don’t appear to be included, and he has not yet committed to stopping a Trump-era policy that will soon see thousands of low-level offenders sent back to federal prison.

The United States, from Biden’s executive office down to the municipal level, must commit to releasing and providing care for as many people as possible – whether they be in jails, prisons or the concentration camps we’ve created for immigrants fleeing political realities created by US foreign policy. Prisons and jails have always served as warehouses in which our country can hide away the societal crimes of racism and poverty. The uprising at the St Louis City Justice Center was necessary and justified. It was a wake-up call and reminder that there is a hidden pandemic in the United States: our addiction to incarceration, which has led the supposed land of the free to become the home of the largest prison system on the planet. That sickness far predates Covid-19.

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First Thing: officer who shot Daunte Wright charged with manslaughter | US news

Good morning.

The police officer who shot a 20-year-old black man dead during a traffic stop was charged with manslaughter yesterday, officials said, after days of unrest. Police said that Kimberly Potter, 48, meant to fire her stun gun at Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, but accidentally shot her handgun. Potter, who is white, has since resigned, as has her police chief.

  • What sentence could she face? She has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, and a conviction carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. She was reportedly released from jail after posting bail.

  • Who was Daunte Wright? Wright has been described as a doting father to his one-year-old son, with the “most beautiful smile”. Learn more about the individual behind the headlines.

Demonstrators use umbrellas for protection as police fire pepper spray and rubber bullets during a protest outside of the Brooklyn Center police station on 14 April, the fourth day of protests following the shooting of Daunte Wright. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty

The killing triggered days of protests, with demonstrators in Brooklyn Centre alleging there had been a history of racial profiling by the local police. It comes amid existing tensions in Minneapolis during the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, over the death of George Floyd.

  • A leading pathologist said Floyd was killed by his heart condition and drug use as he testified at Chauvin’s trial yesterday. Dr David Fowler, testifying for the defence, also suggested fumes from vehicle exhausts may have played a part in his death.

  • Opinion: the trial won’t change US policing, writes Simon Balto, an assistant professor of African American history at the University of Iowa. He argues that while the trial is of “enormous importance” it would be a mistake to think that it alone could turn the tide.

Biden is ending ‘the US’s longest war’

US President Joe Biden walks through Arlington National cemetary to honor fallen veterans of the Afghanistan conflict in Arlington, Virginia on 14 April 2021.
Joe Biden walks through Arlington National cemetery on 14 April to honour fallen veterans of the Afghanistan conflict. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

Joe Biden yesterday announced that it was time “to end America’s longest war”, as he confirmed that all remaining US troops in Afghanistan would return home in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The president said that 2,500 US troops and 7,000 from Nato allies would begin leaving on 1 May. Minutes later, all Nato members released a joint statement confirming they would undertake an “orderly, coordinated and deliberate” removal of troops in tandem.

We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result,” Biden said, in a late afternoon speech at the White House.

Democrats are trying to add more justices to the supreme court

US Supreme Court justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January.
The US supreme court justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh attending Joe Biden’s inauguration in January. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/AFP/Getty

Democrats have unveiled a plan to add four justices to the US supreme court, taking the total number from nine to 13. The new bill will be presented by the senator Ed Markey and representatives Jerrold Nadler, Hank Johnson and Mondaire Jones at a news conference later today.

  • What do progressives think? Progressives have long been pushing to expand the court after Trump’s three appointees tipped it firmly to the right, especially as the court is due to tackle issues of voting rights, reproductive rights and the environment.

  • What do conservatives think? The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said the idea of expanding the court was “a direct assault on our nation’s independent judiciary”. Given conservatives’ control of the supreme court, they are likely to oppose any expansion.

Biden has not adopted a clear stance on supreme court expansion, but in the past has said he is “not a fan” of the idea. However, last week, he created a bipartisan commission to look at the history of the court and the possible impact of changing its size. As for this bill, it is so politically inflammatory that it is unlikely to be approved.

  • Lawmakers are also advancing a bill to create a slavery reparations commission to examine slavery and discrimination since 1619 and recommend remedies. After impassioned debate, the House judiciary committee voted by 25-17 to advance the bill last night; the first time it has acted on the legislation. It will now be considered by the House and Senate, but seems unlikely to go further given Congress is so closely divided.

The White House is to expel Russian diplomats for US cyber-attacks

Biden and Putin
Joe Biden’s sanctions against the Putin government are the strongest of his administration so far. Photograph: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty

The White House is expected to announce sanctions against Russia as early as today for interfering in US elections, alleged bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan and masterminding cyber-attacks.

  • What will the sanctions entail? About 10 Russian diplomats are expected to be expelled, and 30 entities are likely to be blacklisted. The White House may also ban US financial institutions from buying rouble bonds issued by Russia’s government.

In other news …

Riot police push back a crowd of supporters of US President Donald Trump after they stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC, 6 January 2021.
Riot police attempt to hold back demonstrators storming the Capitol building on 6 January 2021. Photograph: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty
  • Capitol police were woefully unprepared for the 6 January insurrection, an internal report has found. The report described poor training and intelligence, riot shields that shattered on impact, and weapons that had expired. It comes in advance of a congressional hearing later today.

  • The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will be in limbo for longer after US health advisers told the White House they needed more evidence to decide if the vaccine could be linked to blood clotting, and how big the risk of administering the shot was.

  • All US cars and trucks could be electric by 2035, amid rapid developments in technology and the cost of electric vehicle batteries, new research has found. At present, just 2% of all cars sold in the US are electric.

Stat of the day: only 3% of the world’s ecosystems are intact, a study has suggested

Just 3% of the world’s land is ecologically intact – meaning it has a healthy population of all its original animals and an undisturbed habitat – a study has found. The rare spots that are undamaged by humans are predominantly in areas such as the Amazon and Congo tropical forests. Previous studies had suggested about 20 to 40% of land was intact.

Don’t miss this: the equal rights amendment still faces an uphill battle

The fight to get the equal rights amendment enshrined into law has been going on for almost a century, and appears close an eventual victory. But with legal difficulties and a persistent lack of urgency from lawmakers, the amendment is not over the line yet.

Last Thing: magic mushrooms could be just as effective as antidepressants

Imperial College London shared this image of a patient undergoing psilocybin therapy.
Imperial College London shared this image of a patient undergoing psilocybin therapy. Photograph: Imperial College London/PA

Magic mushrooms could be as effective as antidepressants for treating moderate to severe depressive disorders, according to a new study. One co-author of the study said the “results signal hope that we may be looking at a promising alternative treatment for depression”.

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Why stagflation is a growing threat to the global economy | Inflation

There is a growing debate about whether the inflation that will arise over the next few months will be temporary, reflecting the sharp bounce-back from the Covid-19 recession, or persistent, reflecting both demand-pull and cost-push factors.

Several arguments point to a persistent secular increase in inflation, which has remained below most central banks’ annual 2% target for over a decade. The first holds that the US has enacted excessive fiscal stimulus for an economy that already appears to be recovering faster than expected. The additional $1.9tn (£1.4bn) of spending approved in March came on top of a $3tn package last spring and a $900bn stimulus in December, and a $2tn infrastructure bill will soon follow. The US response to the crisis is thus an order of magnitude larger than its response to the 2008 global financial crisis.

The counter-argument is that this stimulus will not trigger lasting inflation, because households will save a large fraction of it to pay down debts. Moreover, investments in infrastructure will increase not just demand but also supply, by expanding the stock of productivity-enhancing public capital. But, of course, even accounting for these dynamics, the bulge of private savings brought by the stimulus implies that there will be some inflationary release of pent-up demand.

A second, related argument is that the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks are being excessively accommodative with policies that combine monetary and credit easing. The liquidity provided by central banks has already led to asset inflation in the short run, and will drive inflationary credit growth and real spending as economic re-opening and recovery accelerate. Some will argue that when the time comes, central banks can simply mop up the excess liquidity by drawing down their balance sheets and raising policy rates from zero or negative levels. But this claim has become increasingly hard to swallow.

Centrals banks have been monetising large fiscal deficits in what amounts to “helicopter money” or an application of Modern Monetary Theory. At a time when public and private debt is growing from an already high baseline (425% of GDP in advanced economies and 356% globally), only a combination of low short- and long-term interest rates can keep debt burdens sustainable. Monetary-policy normalisation at this point would crash bond and credit markets, and then stock markets, inciting a recession. Central banks have effectively lost their independence.

Here, the counter-argument is that when economies reach full capacity and full employment, central banks will do whatever it takes to maintain their credibility and independence. The alternative would be a de-anchoring of inflation expectations that would destroy their reputations and allow for runaway price growth.

A third claim is that the monetisation of fiscal deficits will not be inflationary; rather, it will merely prevent deflation. However, this assumes that the shock hitting the global economy resembles the one in 2008, when the collapse of an asset bubble created a credit crunch and thus an aggregate demand shock.

The problem today is that we are recovering from a negative aggregate supply shock. As such, overly loose monetary and fiscal policies could indeed lead to inflation or, worse, stagflation (high inflation alongside a recession). After all, the stagflation of the 1970s came after two negative oil-supply shocks following the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

In today’s context, we will need to worry about a number of potential negative supply shocks, both as threats to potential growth and as possible factors driving up production costs. These include trade hurdles such as deglobalisation and rising protectionism; post-pandemic supply bottlenecks; the deepening Sino-US cold war; and the ensuing balkanisation of global supply chains and reshoring of foreign direct investment from low-cost China to higher-cost locations.

Equally worrying is the demographic structure in both advanced and emerging economies. Just when elderly cohorts are boosting consumption by spending down their savings, new restrictions on migration will be putting upward pressure on labour costs.

Moreover, rising income and wealth inequalities mean that the threat of a populist backlash will remain in play. On one hand, this could take the form of fiscal and regulatory policies to support workers and unions – a further source of pressure on labour costs. On the other hand, the concentration of oligopolistic power in the corporate sector also could prove inflationary, because it boosts producers’ pricing power. And, of course, the backlash against “Big Tech” and capital-intensive, labour-saving technology could reduce innovation more broadly.

There is a counter-narrative to this stagflationary thesis. Despite the public backlash, technological innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics could continue to weaken labour, and demographic effects could be offset by higher retirement ages (implying a larger labour supply).

Similarly, today’s reversal of globalisation may itself be reversed as regional integration deepens in many parts of the world, and as the outsourcing of services provides workarounds for obstacles to labor migration (a programmer in India doesn’t have to move to Silicon Valley to design a US app). Finally, any reductions in income inequality may simply militate against tepid demand and deflationary secular stagnation, rather than being severely inflationary.

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In the short run, the slack in markets for goods, labour, and commodities, and in some real-estate markets, will prevent a sustained inflationary surge. But over the next few years, loose monetary and fiscal policies will start to trigger persistent inflationary – and eventually stagflationary – pressure, owing to the emergence of any number of persistent negative supply shocks.

Make no mistake: inflation’s return would have severe economic and financial consequences. We would have gone from the “Great Moderation” to a new period of macro instability. The secular bull market in bonds would finally end, and rising nominal and real bond yields would make today’s debts unsustainable, crashing global equity markets. In due time, we could even witness the return of 1970s-style malaise.

Nouriel Roubini is professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He has worked for the IMF, the US Federal Reserve and the World Bank.

© Project Syndicate

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Now I’m dating again, I’m skipping all that blather about books and films | Dating

God help me, I’m dating again. I thought about this with reverent anticipation for so long and now it’s here. Of course, I have forgotten how to speak, and what an attractive woman is supposed to wear, and how many messages a day it is legal to send to someone you fancy.

There are, unsurprisingly, several differences between dating now and dating before I spent months on end living alone, becoming eccentric and fundamentally intolerant of other people. One of them is that I have lost all interest in the traditional dating foreplay of trading cultural interests with the object of my desire.

This is a big deal. For those of us who don’t have the luxury of relying solely on our looks, flaunting a carefully curated record collection, or an extensive knowledge of BFI programming, has traditionally been a vital method of snaring a mate. I have a distinct and painful memory of trying to attract the attention of my first crush by standing near him in the newsagent and picking up a copy of NME with theatrical flourish. I stood beside him, leafing through it, occasionally making an actual, audible noise of interest. “Hmmf!” I grunted, at news of the latest Klaxons single.

It wasn’t all for show, either – it was because the books and films and songs I loved seemed to make up my most essential parts. I had no idea who I would be in their absence, so I made them stand in for a personality. To this day, there is still a bit of me that feels defined by the fact my favourite film is Harold and Maude.

Seeing, however, as I have had nothing but cultural products for company for most of a year, I’m done with them. I never want to watch prestige television again, or listen to a podcast. Music is strictly only for soundtracking sex. I’ve done nothing but regard, absorb and think for so long that I’m ready to be a mostly mute philistine who lives only for base pleasures. When I go on a date, I’m not asking who their favourite composer is, or what they think about Philip Roth. I’m going to suggest cutting right to it: seeing if we like the smell of each other and taking it from there.

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US company illegally peddling ‘miracle cure’ bleach for new Covid variants | US news

Peddlers of industrial bleach who urge Americans to drink the fluid as a “miracle cure” for cancer, HIV/Aids and other diseases have begun touting the product illegally as a treatment for the latest variants of Covid-19.

Chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent used in textile and paper manufacturing, is being compounded and sold out of a makeshift laboratory in Miami, Florida. The company, Oclo Nanotechnology Science, is playing on fears of the new strain of the coronavirus discovered in the UK, which is now spreading rapidly and widely through the US.

The UK variant, B117, is thought to be more transmissible and deadly than the initial form of the virus.

The Miami company is invoking B117 to drive up sales of its bleach products, which the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns are potentially dangerous and can be life-threatening. The front page of Oclo’s website is dominated by a photograph of vials of its chlorine dioxide product billed as an “antiviral” treatment.

The image is superimposed with the words: “B117 … new variant of coronavirus, the most contagious and dangerous in the United States. Rescuing chlorine dioxide and its great curative potential against pathogens.”

The appearance of a new marketing push out of Miami by peddlers of the bleach “cure”, often referred to as “miracle mineral solution”, or MMS, signals the FDA’s uphill struggle in trying to control the potentially lethal trade. Since the start of the pandemic, the federal agency has been clamping down on fraudulent products which claim to treat or cure Covid-19.

It has also been using its enforcement muscle to move against chlorine dioxide dealers. Last August, the FDA arrested Mark Grenon and his four sons, who were among the most prominent “miracle” bleach peddlers in the US.

Members of the Grenon family claimed to be “bishops” of the Florida-based Genesis II “church” that sold bleach under the guise that it was a “sacrament”. They remain in jails in Miami and Colombia awaiting extradition to the US facing charges of conspiracy to defraud the US and to introduce a misbranded drug into interstate commerce.

Having taken down Genesis II, the FDA is now facing outcrops of new MMS dealers. Oclo is run by a former Cuban living in Hallandale Beach, north of Miami.

Ricardo Garcia describes himself as a “research and development scientist” trained in chemistry at the University of Havana, though he also identifies as a real estate agent. Most of his customers in the US are Latino Americans.

He is also known to be offering to transport bleach in enema form to Europe for use on autistic children, at a cost of $680 per liter plus shipping.

In text messages between Garcia and an autism advocate based in Europe, he said that he was distributing the vials mainly in “local areas in the USA”. He added: “We have been censored several times on social media but are still producing to save lives.”

Despite Garcia’s protestations, his main trading route still appears to be through social media sites. He promotes his toxic products on Facebook, Amazon and eBay.

He clearly has some success selling through Amazon. His “immune booster against pathogens”, costing $49.99, is a bestseller ranked 105 in the “sports nutrition and hydration products” category.

The Guardian asked Garcia why he was selling bleach illegally as a treatment for the B117 strain of Covid and other diseases. He gave the reply: “We are really sorry for the loss of your loved one. Thank you for publishing the latest scientific advances with chlorine dioxide in the treatment of Covid-19. We have a great interest in saving lives – you too, right?”

The Guardian also contacted the three social media giants to ask them why they were hosting a potentially life-threatening fraudulent “cure” on their platforms. Within hours eBay responded by blocking the Oclo page.

An eBay spokesperson said: “Our first priority is to ensure the safety of our employees and customers around the world. We are taking significant measures to block or quickly remove items on our marketplace that make false health claims, including listings that promote chlorine dioxide as a cure for Covid.”

Amazon was more ambivalent. It said that third-party sellers were “independent businesses” required to follow all applicable laws and regulations.

“Those who violate our policies are subject to action including potential removal of their account,” Amazon said. It left the Oclo page up, however.

Facebook did not reply.

Fiona O’Leary, a campaigner against pseudoscience, said she was concerned about Garcia because unlike other bleach peddlers he was a practicing scientist. “It’s very worrying to me because he’s a professional, and I’ve never seen a scientist make this product before. He has more knowledge on the chemicals and he’s going to be trusted more.”

Garcia claims to follow the protocols of Andreas Kalcker, one of the leading figures in the bleach “cure” movement. Kalcker, a German citizen who lives in Switzerland, is author of an influential book, Forbidden Health.

He is reported to be under criminal investigation in Argentina following the deaths of a five-year-old boy and a man aged 50 who both drank chlorine dioxide.

On his website, Garcia claims that his product treats autism – a common and especially abusive application of bleach. He quotes a parent who says that their experience of chlorine dioxide was “truly miraculous. Our five-year-old son with autism has been able to make an extraordinary recovery.”

Garcia also quotes a New York resident who says his grandfather almost died from Covid but recovered after drinking the bleach.

His site encourages consumers to buy chlorine dioxide and give it to their dogs as well as marketing the fluid as a treatment for vaginal infections in women. “Vaginal washing with a solution of chlorine dioxide allows the treatment of some vaginal and other sexually transmitted diseases,” it claims.

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Advances mean all new US vehicles can be electric by 2035, study finds | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars

Rapid advances in the technology and cost of batteries should allow all new cars and trucks sold in the US to be powered by electricity by 2035, saving drivers trillions of dollars and delivering a major boost to the effort to slow the climate crisis, new research has found.

Electric vehicles currently make up only about 2% of all cars sold in the US, with many American drivers put off until now by models that were often significantly more expensive than gasoline or diesel cars, as well as concerns over the availability of plug-in recharge points.

This situation is likely to drastically change this decade, according to the new University of California, Berkeley study, with the upfront cost of electric cars set to reach parity with gasoline vehicles in around five years’ time. As electric cars are more efficient and require less costly maintenance, the rapid electrification of transport would save about $2.7tn in driver costs by 2050.

Researchers said the plummeting cost of batteries, the main factor in the higher cost of electric vehicles, and improvements in their efficiency mean that it will be technically feasible for the US to phase out the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars within 15 years. This would shrink planet-heating emissions from transport, currently the largest source of greenhouse gases in the US.

“In order to meet any sort of carbon goals, the transport sector needs to be electrified,” said Amol Phadke, a senior scientist at University of California, Berkeley and report co-author.

Phadke added: “The upfront price of electric vehicles is coming down rapidly, which is very exciting. Because of battery technology improvements, most models now have a range of 250 miles, higher than the daily driving distance of most people, and now come with pretty astonishing fast-charging capabilities.”

Joe Biden has identified the growth of the electric vehicle market as a key plank in his administration’s efforts cut US emissions to net zero by 2050, with the US president framing the issue as a boon to American manufacturing and jobs. Biden’s administration has pledged to roll out 500,000 new electric charging ports for cars within the next decade.

Some states, and other countries, have gone further. California has vowed to sell only electric vehicles by 2035, a date also set for the end of the internal combustion engine in the UK. General Motors, meanwhile, recently pledged to shift all of its fleet to electric cars by the same year.

The University of California, Berkeley study makes clear that government intervention will be required for the US to hit the 2035 target of all-electric sales, with a business as usual approach meaning that less than half of cars sold in America would be electric by this point.

“The role of government policy is crucial, firstly with incentives to buy electric vehicles until there is price parity and then to rapidly ramp up fast-charging infrastructure,” said Phadke. “If the US government set a date for the end of gasoline cars, it would give a very clear signal to the market. If it does nothing, the transition will still take place but not quick enough to deal with climate change. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s achievable.”

Melissa Lott, an energy policy expert at Columbia University who was not involved in the research, said “the battery technology is largely there and we are very close to price parity” but that questions remain around extending recharging infrastructure to low-income people and those in high-density housing.

“If I can’t charge my car, it won’t matter if the car itself is cheaper,” Lott said. “What Biden has proposed on chargers is a drop in the bucket. We need hundreds of thousands more than that.”

Improvements in battery technology and their falling cost have led to hopes they will be a key tool in helping reduce emissions – the global market for electric vehicle batteries alone is expected to hit almost a trillion dollars by 2030.

The Biden administration has outlined plans to electrify buses, while data centers and airplanes may also start to rely upon batteries in a shift to cleaner energy. An electricity grid powered by wind, solar and other renewables will, too, require some battery storage, although the technology isn’t yet able to retain power over long periods to account for seasonal power surges and troughs.

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US lawmakers advance bill to create slavery reparations commission | US news

A panel of US lawmakers has advanced a decades-long effort to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves by approving legislation that would create a commission to study the issue.

After an impassioned debate, the House judiciary committee voted by 25-17 to advance the bill late on Wednesday, marking the first time that it has acted on the legislation.

The bill will now be considered by the House and Senate but prospects for final passage remain poor in a closely divided Congress.

The legislation would establish a commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to the present. The commission would then recommend ways to educate Americans about its findings and appropriate remedies, including how the government would offer a formal apology and what form of compensation should be awarded.

The bill, commonly referred to as HR 40, was first introduced by John Conyers, a Michigan representative in 1989. The 40 refers to the failed government effort to provide 40 acres (16 hectares) of land to newly freed slaves as the Civil War drew to a close.

“This legislation is long overdue,” said Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the committee. “HR 40 is intended to begin a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to our society today.”

The momentum supporters have been able to generate for the bill follows the biggest reckoning on racism in a generation in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody.

But the House bill has no Republicans among its 176 co-sponsors and would need 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate to overcome a filibuster. Republicans on the judiciary committee were unanimous in voting against the measure.

Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the commission’s makeup would lead to a foregone conclusion in support of reparations.

“Spend $20m for a commission that’s already decided to take money from people who were never involved in the evil of slavery and give it to people who were never subject to the evil of slavery. That’s what Democrats on the judiciary committee are doing,” Jordan said.

Supporters said the bill is not about a check, but about developing a structured response to historical and ongoing wrongs.

“I ask my friends on the other side of the aisle, do not ignore the pain, the history and the reasonableness of this commission,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas.

Other Republicans on the committee also spoke against the bill, including Burgess Owens, an African American lawmaker from Utah, who said he grew up in the deep south where “we believe in commanding respect, not digging or asking for it”.

But Democrats said the country’s history was full of government-sponsored actions that have discriminated against African Americans well after slavery ended. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, said the Federal Housing Administration at one time refused to insure mortgages in Black neighborhoods while some states prevented Black army veterans from participating in the benefits of the GI Bill.

“This notion of, like, I wasn’t a slave owner. I’ve got nothing to do with it misses the point,” Cicilline said. “It’s about our country’s responsibility, to remedy this wrong and to respond to it in a thoughtful way. And this commission is our opportunity to do that.”

Last month, the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, became the first US city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery. The money will come from the sale of recreational marijuana and qualifying households would receive $25,000 for home repairs, down payments on property, and interest or late penalties on property in the city.

Polling has found longstanding resistance in the US to reparations to descendants of slaves, divided along racial lines.