Creative Room 4 Talk Wed, 21 Jul 2021 22:43:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Creative Room 4 Talk 32 32 Governor Newsom signs law to strengthen the state’s film and television industry, create good jobs and promote a diverse workforce Wed, 21 Jul 2021 22:10:39 +0000

Legislation invests $ 330 million to expand the state’s film and television credit program to retain and attract production jobs

Key industry supports communities statewide with billions in wages and income to help fuel post-pandemic recovery

The legislation includes provisions to increase the diversity of the workforce and to create a pilot skills training program

LOS ANGELES – In a push for California’s economic recovery, Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed legislation investing $ 330 million to expand the success of the film and television tax credit program, which targets to retain and attract productive jobs and economic activity across California – generating nearly $ 18 billion in production spending for the state to date.

Along with representatives from movie studios, labor leaders and lawmakers, the governor signed SB 144 – co-authored by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), MP Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and Congresswoman Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) – now at the historic Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood. The legislation expands the current film credit program with an increase of $ 180 million over two years and a one-time additional incentive of $ 150 million to be used over several years for the construction of certified film soundstages – by building an infrastructure of studio to keep pace with growth in production. With new diversity work plan provisions and a pilot skills training program, the legislation is creating expanded career opportunities for more Californians.

“California’s iconic entertainment industry is a point of pride that creates significant income and opportunity for workers, businesses and communities across the state,” Governor Newsom said. “Today’s investments ensure that film and television production will continue to fuel California’s comeback through thousands of good jobs right here in the Golden State, training opportunities to increase access and focus. on promoting diversity and inclusion for a workforce that better reflects our vibrant communities. . “

A key economic engine, the California film and television industry provides more than 134,000 production-related jobs, more than 83,000 distribution-related jobs and more than 643,000 jobs created by suppliers and related companies. The Film and Television Tax Credit program has provided $ 335 million to 48 projects since the start of the pandemic. Twenty-seven television series have moved to California from other states and nations since the program launched in 2009.

“These strategic investments reaffirm Golden State’s role as a leading player in the global entertainment industry – a vital sector that represents billions in wages and revenues for workers and businesses in California,” said the director of the governor’s office for business and economic development (GO-Biz) Dee Dee Myers. “The Film Tax Credit program has already provided $ 335 million to support projects statewide since the onset of the pandemic, boosting local economies and helping to fuel our national recovery. With a new forward-looking incentive to modernize studio infrastructure, this package will help keep cameras working in our state in the future. “

Governor at round table with film and television industry leaders

Governor Newsom signs legislation to expand film and television tax credit program alongside film studio representatives, union leaders and lawmakers

SB 144 requires recipients of the existing film credit program and new infrastructure incentive to provide aggregate data on the diversity of their workforce, including gender and racial origin, and submit a plan working at the California Film Commission identifying diversity goals.

“The bill signed today by Governor Newsom builds on the success of California’s film and television production tax credit program and ensures that the film, television and streaming industry continues to grow. ‘to be a dynamic part of the California economy,’ said the president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association. Charles Rivkin. “The SB 144 preserves both recurring and relocated TV and streaming series, creates a new program that encourages private investment in sound stage construction and sets new benchmarks and commitments on diversity. “

“I am incredibly grateful for Governor Newsom’s leadership and for his commitment to the entertainment industry. He understands that it is a vital economic engine for California and a big part of the vitality of my district, ”said Senator Portantino. “The investment in building new sound stages is a critical addition to our efforts to increase filming in our Golden State. Modernizing our studio infrastructure and meeting diversity goals will ensure that future entertainment careers flourish in California and that generations of people across the country continue to view our state as the entertainment capital of the world.

Legislation ensures that the construction of new sound stages supports high road jobs by demanding prevailing wages and setting labor standards for construction and ongoing maintenance. By creating pathways for more Californians to access jobs in the film and television industry, the California Film Commission will implement a pilot program to provide technical training to people from underserved communities.

The Entertainment Union Coalition, which represents the members of the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, California IATSE Council, LiUNA! Teamsters Local 724 and Local 399 also praised the new “SB 144 Enhances and Enhances California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program which, since its inception, has created 156,000 jobs. distribution and teamwork and generated $ 18.4 billion. in direct income for our State. SB 144 guarantees that our members can continue to work in California and that more productions can shoot here for decades to come. “

For the full text of the bill, visit:


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Women in Communication launches a book club | Culture & Leisure Wed, 21 Jul 2021 21:32:00 +0000

The Santa Barbara Association for Women in Communication (AWC-SB) launched Books for Breakfast, an informal summer discussion group of books aimed at helping participants become better communicators. The next unhosted event will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on August 11 at the Caje Coffee Roasters, located at 1316 State St. (across from the Arlington Theater). Meetings are free.

The August book is “Ladies Get Paid: The Ultimate Guide to Breaking Barriers, Owning Your Worth and Taking Control of Your Career,” by Claire Wasserman.

“Ladies Get Paid” is an organization that defends the professional and financial advancement of women. This book follows real women who face a variety of professional challenges, from salary negotiations to office politics. The book provides practical tips and usable tools that empower women to gain the recognition and rewards they deserve and ensure that other women are rewarded as well.

The book is also a summer selection for the AWC National Book Club. AWC members can participate in a discussion with the author at a Zoom event on July 29. Visit for more details

For more information on any of these events, email Carolyn Jabs at

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Guarantee the eligibility of the subject matter of the patent for Blockchain Tech – surative Wed, 21 Jul 2021 20:52:00 +0000
Law360 (July 21, 2021, 4:52 p.m. EDT) – Few technical papers, especially those published under a pseudonym, have garnered as much interest from the inventive community and investors as Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper in 2008, “Bitcoin: A Peer – Electronic money-to-peer system”,[1] which essentially launched the bitcoin and cryptocurrency industries and laid the groundwork for the explosion of emerging blockchain-related technologies, such as smart contracts and distributed applications.

As emerging blockchain-related technologies have gained momentum, corresponding patent filings on these technologies have kept pace. As shown in the graph below, which shows published patent filings around the world that use the word ‘blockchain’, the past decade has seen an exponential increase in …

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Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on the future of Belarus and its place in it Wed, 21 Jul 2021 20:41:17 +0000

Wed Jul 21, 2021

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on the future of Belarus and its place in it

Ukraine Alert
Doug Klain

“I’m not asking [the United States] to support me I ask [it] to support democratic values, ”said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus, during her first working visit to Washington, DC, to meet with senior US government officials.

“It is understandable for America. We share common values ​​like rule of law, human rights, democracy. The fight is now in Belarus locally, but it is the problem of the whole world” , she continued.

Tsikhanouskaya sat in person for an Atlantic Council homepage event hosted by the Council’s Eurasia Center, where she was interviewed by PBS NewsTime Chief Correspondent Amna Nawaz and was joined by US Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher and Deputy Director of the Eurasia Center Melinda Haring. The event came a day after Tsikhanouskaya met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other State Department officials, and hours before his meetings with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and members of Congress.

Asked by Nawaz what she expects from the Biden administration, Tsikhanouskaya replied “Maximum pressure and maximum support for civil society in Belarus”, especially Belarusians who are still working to document human rights violations and crimes committed. by Belarusian authorities.

“Send a clear message that the independence of Belarus is the highest value and Belarus is not [up for deals]. No one can sign an agreement with Lukashenka at the moment because he is illegitimate.

watch the event

Tsikhanouskaya rose to prominence by challenging longtime Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the run-up to the country’s 2020 presidential election. When her husband, political blogger Siarhiy Tsikhanouski, was jailed by the government for attempting To challenge Lukashenka for the presidency, Tsikhanouskaya, an English teacher with no political experience, showed up and ran in her husband’s place.

Lukashenka stole the elections and forced Tsikhanouskaya to flee the country when she probably won. Belarusians took to the streets in droves in protests that immobilized the country for months and faced severe beatings and detentions by police, torture and assaults in prisons, as well as one of the harshest authoritarian repressions in years.

Today, Tsikhanouskaya heads the Handover Coordination Council which works to rally the international community to support the Belarusian people and hold Lukashenka accountable.

“Our goal is to organize new free and fair elections in Belarus and to observe [the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] or different organizations to keep people’s right to vote, ”Tsikhanouskaya said.

But as the face of the democracy movement in Belarus and the biggest voice against Lukashenka, would Tsikhanoskaya represent herself for the presidency?

“I am not going to participate in new elections,” she told Nawaz. “My only mandate is… to bring our country to new elections. But I never wanted to be in power.

Since fleeing Belarus and finding refuge in Lithuania, Tsikhanouskaya has struck a balance by using her newfound importance to elevate the issues facing Belarusians – especially the more than 550 political prisoners still locked up, including her husband – while maintaining that success will mean she will stray far from the leadership role she now occupies.

One of the biggest concerns Tsikhanouskaya faces is the ability of the democratic movement to maintain itself. As Belarusians took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands last year, the combination of massive state violence and a brutally cold winter limited large-scale protests.

“Has the enthusiasm gone? Did Loukachenka win? Nawaz asked.

“Of course, people have gone to fight on an underground level… People continue to fight, even though we cannot come out so massively,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “It’s bravery. When you are attacked, oppressed, but keep fighting. People understand that they can be detained at any time, you can be kidnapped on the streets just because of the color of your socks or because you have participated in peaceful protests. [last year], but you go out and do something.

“This is why, in my meetings, I urge countries to: ‘Do not lead a policy based on images, lead a policy based on values”. Don’t think that if you don’t see these huge protests, people have lost their intention of changing. Of course not.”

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Another key question is what a future Belarusian state will look like on the world stage. To stay in power, Lukashenka relied heavily on the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin as Western leaders berated him. What does Moscow want in Belarus and how essential is Putin’s support for the Lukashenka government?

“Putin supported Lukashenka after a fraudulent election because the Kremlin did not expect such an uprising from the Belarusian people either,” Tsikhanuskaya said. “It’s a real shame, because we have a wonderful relationship with the Russian people. Lukashenka is not all of Belarus, he is just one person.

“I have a question,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “Why are we talking about Russia in this case? This is not a fight between the West and the East, our fight is between the past and the future. It is a fight within our country to give people the right to choose who they want. “

“Our country is in crisis, and if Russia wants to play a constructive role, it is enough not to interfere in the politics of our country.”

At the end of the conversation, Tsikhanouskaya left for the White House to meet with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, then to Capitol Hill where she met the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other members of Congress. , and later with USAID administrator Samantha. Power.

While his appearance on the Atlantic Council came on the third day of his trip, Tsikhanouskaya also plans to travel to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles for other meetings.

Doug Klain is a program assistant at the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council. Find him on Twitter @DougKlain.

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]]> 0 Indian intelligence services are in the midst of a dangerous crisis Wed, 21 Jul 2021 10:04:00 +0000

Giuseppe Mazzini eagerly opened his mail and carefully searched the envelopes for poppy seeds and grains of sand. There were none. The great Republican agitator and journalist, father of a united Italian nation, enemy of the European aristocracy, had just denounced the first biggest surveillance scandal in the modern world. The British Imperial Secret Police, acting at the request of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, had read Mazzini’s correspondence. The missing poppy seeds, planted inside the envelopes by Mazzini himself, blew up their operation.

As India grapples with revelations that its government – and those of nine other countries – may have spied on politicians, journalists and human rights activists, the Mazzini scandal of 1844 offers important lessons on the dangers to constitutional democracies of illegal intelligence operations.

For generations, in all countries, governments have argued that such surveillance is necessary to defend the state against subversion and terrorism. Experience, however, has shown that the lack of democratic control over espionage degrades intelligence services and undermines the states they seek to defend.

Since 2018, credible suspicions exist that India is among the customers served by cyber-Israeli. This year, surveys by the University of Toronto’s CitizenLab found that Pegasus used, among other things, a server named Ganges to operate against targets in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. the Revelations of the Pegasus project have now given an overview of who these targets were.
In the absence of a court ruling or legal disclosure, there is no way of knowing for sure whether India National Organization for Technical Research—Which serves the advanced electronic intelligence needs of the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis wing, and other agencies — was among NSO’s clients. The government’s reluctance to open a police investigation into hacking citizens’ phones – a criminal offense – raises obvious questions, however.

There are three reasons why government opacity does not serve the interests of the state, intelligence services, or Indian citizens. Instead, it should be an opportunity – however, embarrassing for political leaders – to establish democratic oversight and standards for intelligence services.

First, the use of NSO’s services demonstrates that India’s technical espionage capabilities are anemic, the result of decades of poor leadership and planning. NSO’s services have been hired by countries like Azerbaijan, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia, which lack significant technological resources, and not by major nation states.

In recent months, Russia and China have demonstrated their ability to target hardened government networks in the United States, using more sophisticated technologies than those offered by NSO. The United States, as the revelations of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 showed, has been able to monitor digital networks around the world. A 1998 European Parliament survey demonstrated that the US Echelon network targets not only national security concerns, but also allied trade secrets and technologies.

New Delhi has long understood that it has to catch up, but the results have not been rosy. In 2018-2019, the government significantly increased the budget of the National Security Council to Rs 841.73 crore, of which Rs 715.89 crore was to be invested in communication and intelligence projects by Indian tech start-ups. The money, however, has not been spent for the most part.

Knowing that all but a few projects would likely fail, bureaucrats refused to approve the high-risk spending, fearing further criminal investigations and investigations. For 2019-2020, the budget of the National Security Council has been reduced to Rs 152 crore.

India has turned to vendors like NSO, revealing its own vulnerabilities. On the one hand, there is no way to know whether NSO has hijacked data – or products – from Indian operations to other clients or intelligence services. More damaging still, India’s lack of independent offensive capabilities suggests a similar lack of defensive capabilities. In other words, India has few means to monitor and detect attacks on communications of its senior officials by foreign intelligence services.

These vulnerabilities are not abstract. In 2019, it was discovered that North Korean hackers were stealing Indian nuclear secrets. The hacker targeted the laptops used by the former head of the Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Anil Kakodkar, and the former head of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Council, SA Bhardwaj.

Correcting these vulnerabilities is not impossible, but it will not happen due to the institutionalization of a system of perverse incentives, the second key problem facing intelligence. Instead, politicians have been seduced by the temptation to illegally use the Secret Service as a tool against opponents, primarily to collect gossip of no conceivable strategic value. This is also suitable for leaders of the intelligence community, for whom gossip and political intrigue is a means of garnering influence from national leaders.

The problem dates back decades. In 1963, for example, the Intelligence Bureau ordered the Gujarat police to open surveillance against the Swatantra Party, a right-wing party opposed to the ruling Congress. In response to questions from the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Balwantrai Mehta, the Union Minister of the Interior replied that it was necessary to monitor people “who usually oppose the policies of the government of the day”.

From the 1970s, the role of the Intelligence Bureau in political surveillance – often of questionable legality – gradually expanded, with successive directors of the Intelligence Bureau becoming involved in government efforts to undermine opponents.

These operations were to bring considerable discredit to the Intelligence Bureau during the 1955-1977 state of emergency. The LP Singh committee, set up to reflect on reforms, is still secret but has reportedly neither attributed personal responsibility for violations of the law by the intelligence services, nor measures to reform these organizations. Wiretapping scandals have been a regular and depressing feature of India’s political scandal; Pegasus’ presentation marks the deepening of this toxic quagmire.

As a result, the Intelligence Bureau continues to devote a substantial part of its resources to gathering political intelligence. This moves away from the resources already requested. The government has committed Rs 2,575 crore funding to the organization for 2019-2020, which is less than a third, for example, of Rs 7,497 allocated to Delhi Police alone. A tiny fraction of that – Rs 83.5 crore – will be available for capital investment.

The resources of the Intelligence Office contrast sharply with those of the main Western intelligence agencies; the Federal Bureau of Investigations, with a much smaller role, has requested $ 9.6 billion in funding for fiscal 2020.

In 2013, Parliament was informed that some 8,000 positions within the organization were vacant, out of an authorized workforce of 26,867. Things have not changed much. Although it is difficult to estimate precise figures, out of around thirty officials at the level of joint directors (the critical level of the higher executive authority), only nine operate in areas of national security such as the fight against terrorism. .

Experts have long understood these problems. As the highly regarded bureaucrat NN Vohra noted, there is also no “mechanism to assess the productivity of our two umbrella intelligence agencies.” In an article, current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval called for a debate to shape “new doctrines, suggest structural changes, aim for value for money, and consider the administrative and legislative changes needed to empower people. intelligence agencies ”. None of this has been done.

The third problem, and the key to solving the first two, is the most important: the misuse of the state’s espionage capabilities against citizens threatens the regime itself. Governments in democracies have imposed legislative oversight and accountability on intelligence services. Their intelligence services are among the best in the world, but not tools of despotism, as in China, Russia or Saudi Arabia.

Following the revelation of the Mazzini scandal, MEPs noted that the unbridled surveillance of the intelligence services had eroded trust in society, the cornerstone of politics. In addition, they limited the positive impact of the revolutionary technology, the penny postage system which had for the first time allowed transparent and private communication across the UK. Lord Chief Justice Robert Denham approved, attacking the state for breach of privacy without just cause.

Then-Home Secretary James Graham backed down: In a nation beset by mass working-class movements and political radicalism, unrestricted intelligence gathering was needed. This is the same argument as the one advanced today, but it entails significant costs.

In most democracies, the last century has seen important milestones in bringing accountability and transparency to the functioning of intelligence. the United States Senate Churches Committee Inquiry highlighted the abuse of intelligence capabilities against the country’s own citizens; significant restrictions were imposed. France, Britain and Germany all have strict legislative control. It didn’t end the abuse, but it does create a framework to check for abuse when it occurs.

India’s intelligence status quo perpetuates the worst possible worlds, providing a haven for incompetence and criminality, deterring reform, and subverting national institutions. Little attention: Former labor minister Manish Tewari, who introduced a private member’s bill to provide oversight, has been ignored by his own party, let alone the government. The real revelation from Pegasus is this: Indian intelligence is in a state of dangerous crisis, which threatens our republic.

—Praveen Swami is Group Advisory Editor, Network18.

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Colorado Edition: Mask Communication | KUNC Wed, 21 Jul 2021 00:01:00 +0000

Today in Colorado Edition: As parents, students and staff prepare for the upcoming school year, some COVID-19 guidelines for classrooms remain to be determined. We hear the latest news and explore how returning to our favorite pre-pandemic activities is more difficult for people with compromised immune systems, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. We are hearing about the increase in the number of non-police crisis response teams statewide, including Denver, which has just approved more funding for their program. And, we discuss the response to a new state law that prohibits the use of Native American images in school mascots.

Among today’s guests: Chalkbeat Colorado journalist Yesenia Robles; and Colorado Sun writer Sue McMillin. Today’s show also features reporting from KUNC mental health reporter Leigh Paterson; and Maggie Mullen of the Mountain West News Bureau.

The Colorado edition is made possible through the support of our KUNC members. Thank you!

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O’Toole (@ ErinOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman. Our production team includes Tess Novotny (@tess_novotny), Alana Schreiber (@ayyschreib) and Rae Salomon (@ raedear1). KUNC News Director Brian Larson is our executive producer. Web was edited by digital publisher Jackie Hai.

Our musical theme was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music from the show by Blue Dot Sessions.

The Colorado Edition of KUNC is a news magazine that takes an in-depth look at the issues and culture of northern Colorado. It’s available on our website, as well as iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can listen to the show on KUNC, Monday to Thursday at 6.30 p.m., or Tuesday to Friday at 8.30 a.m.

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Afghan turmoil intensifies as US withdrawal hits 95% Tue, 20 Jul 2021 21:42:00 +0000

NEW YORK – It was a grueling weekend for Zalmay Khalilzad.

The 70-year-old leading man in the Biden administration for the stabilization of Afghanistan after the US withdrawal had seen his efforts of several months almost bear fruit. The peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government was back on track, although both sides halted before hostilities ceased.

But with the Taliban’s rapid progress across the country and the takeover of vital border crossings, coupled with reports of destroyed infrastructure and atrocities committed against prisoners and civilians by both sides, Khalilzad would settle for a modest but significant victory: a rare joint statement issued by the Taliban and Kabul, agreeing to continue talks. The goal of a ceasefire on the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which began on Tuesday, has not been met.

As the United States remains committed to leaving Afghanistan completely by August 31, Khalilzad’s mission has become even more urgent. The US central command announced Tuesday that 95% of the withdrawal, which the Pentagon calls “retrograde”, had already been completed.

The update came amid turbulent days for Afghanistan and its neighbors.

Khalilzad had little time to savor even his minor victory. Just hours after Sunday’s joint statement in Qatar, Washington’s regional peace envoy, officially called the United States Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, found himself on another mission and flight. unexpected.

Zalmay Khalilzad: The US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation has embarked on a flurry of diplomacy. © Reuters

He was on his way to Pakistan, where another fence was to be repaired after the Afghan ambassador’s daughter was kidnapped and “severely tortured” while in Islamabad, according to the Afghan foreign ministry. Kabul recalled its ambassador from the Pakistani capital during the same weekend.

The Pakistani government, which has long been accused of providing sanctuary for the Taliban, was furious at Kabul’s reaction. Officials told Khalilzad they were still investigating the kidnapping, which they called a “hybrid war” by India and “misinformed Afghan brothers.”

The government also said Kabul should consider sacking its ambassador to Islamabad, adding that the Taliban’s rapid advances in Afghanistan were a result of the lack of will and ability of Afghan forces to fight, as well as the withdrawal of the United States and of NATO.

Afghan headaches continue for US President Joe Biden, with former President George W. Bush now opposing the withdrawal. (Photo courtesy of the White House)

But overall, the political and military leaders of the nuclear-weaponized Islamic republic believe they have paid their dues by bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Americans, a multi-year process that has enabled in Washington to get out of Afghanistan.

Pakistani diplomats take credit for an important statistic that they cite to their American counterparts: since the American peace agreement with the Taliban in February 2020, no American soldiers have been killed on Afghan soil.

For Pakistan, it is unacceptable that Washington still wants Islamabad to do more, and that the rulers in Kabul – many of whom were refugees in Pakistan among the 3 million others it has welcomed since the Soviet invasion of the country. Afghanistan in the 1980s – were not grateful.

Imran Khan of Pakistan: Prime Minister met US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on July 19. © Reuters

An official photo released by Pakistan on Monday showed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s harsh meeting with a gentle-looking Khalilzad. Khan, a former movie star-like cricket star, looked defiant as he lectured America’s top diplomat in the region: We’ve done enough, was the message. And since we’re going to clean up this mess anyway, the others should do their part as well.

The same day, 3,000 km away, another leader with regional ambitions and interests to claim Afghanistan spoke.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the insurgents should “end their brothers’ occupation of land,” while downplaying the Taliban’s warning of the consequences if Turkish troops, the only NATO force to be volunteering to stay in Afghanistan to run the Kabul airport, don’t go.

Erdogan’s actions to hold the fort in Afghanistan show that he wants Ankara, and not Islamabad, New Delhi, Tehran or any other regional power, to be the guardian of the war-torn country. He said Turkey will be the “most reliable country” the United States can count on once it leaves.

But there is also a broader strategic reason. While Turkey’s purchase of Russian arms triggered Washington sanctions in 2019, analysts assume Erdogan is hoping to gain Washington’s trust and regain legitimacy through the Kabul airport mission.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping was embroiled in turmoil in western China at the start of the weekend after nine Chinese engineers involved in a Belt and Road project were killed in an attack on a bus in northern Pakistan last week. This has been added to the tally of attacks on Chinese targets by terrorist groups which Pakistan claims are based in Afghanistan.

Xi told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he hoped “the Afghan side will strengthen the protection of Chinese citizens and organizations in Afghanistan.”

He was not the only one to call for the cessation of hostilities.

As Ghani’s presidential palace came under rocket attack on Tuesday morning at the start of Eid, no less than 15 diplomatic missions, mostly European NATO members and including the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany and France urged the Taliban to end the attacks.

“The Taliban offensive is in direct contradiction with their claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict and with the Doha peace process,” their statement read.

But a senior Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “you don’t stop firing when you win. And the Taliban win.”

The view from Kabul is also dismal.

“With their campaign in the north and against major trade routes, the Afghan Taliban are trying to put coercive pressure on the Afghan government, perhaps in the hope of inducing a political collapse of the republic,” Asfandyar Mir said. , a South Asian analyst. from Stanford University which is currently researching the insurgency in Kabul.

“It is possible that the Taliban will eventually attempt a military takeover, but before that they will turn to coercive options that add further pressure and avoid a military campaign in major provincial capitals. Of course, the Afghan army remains politically coherent and it will not retreat as quickly as the Taliban seem to assume. “

In the United States, the mood is different. So far, the military withdrawal, announced by President Joe Biden on April 14, enjoys bipartisan support.

A Reuters / Ipsos poll last week showed that only three in ten Democrats and four in ten Republicans believe US troops should stay.

But dissenting opinions are emerging. Over the weekend, in a rare interview, former President George W. Bush called the US withdrawal a “mistake”, saying: “I fear that Afghan women and girls suffer indescribable harm.”

Also over the weekend, retired Army General David Petraeus, who commanded the Afghanistan-Iraq-focused US Central Command and was President Barack Obama’s CIA chief, told US media that the situation is “more and more serious with each passing week.”

“I am afraid that we are looking back and regret the decision to withdraw,” he also said.

“The start of what is going to be a pretty brutal civil war, massive ethnic and sectarian displacement, the assassination of government officials, millions of refugees flocking to other countries, especially Pakistan,” Petraeus told CNN. “We will see the return of Al-Qaida and the Islamic State, although I see no immediate threat to US internal security in this regard.”

Additional reporting by Jack Stone Truitt in New York

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Handling magnets in search of fusion | MIT News Tue, 20 Jul 2021 20:40:00 +0000

“You get the high field, you get the performance. “

Principal scientist Brian LaBombard summarizes what could be considered a guiding philosophy behind the design and engineering of fusion devices at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC). From 1972 with the Alcator A tokamak, passing through Alcator C (1978) and Alcator C-Mod (1991), the PSFC used magnets with high fields to confine the hot plasma in compact and efficient tokamaks. Joining what was then the Plasma Fusion Center as a graduate student in 1978, just as Alcator A was finishing its run, LaBombard is one of the few to have worked with every iteration of the high-field concept. Now he has turned his attention to PSFC’s latest fusion venture, a fusion energy project called SPARC.

Designed in conjunction with Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), an MIT spinoff company, SPARC uses new high-field high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets to achieve fusion that will produce net energy gain. Some of these magnets will wrap toroidally around the donut-shaped vacuum chamber of the tokamak, confining fusion reactions and preventing damage to the walls of the device.

The PSFC has spent three years researching, developing and manufacturing a scale version of these toroidal field (TF) coils – the Toroidal Field Model Coil, or TFMC. Before TF coils can be built for SPARC, LaBombard and his team must test the model coil under the conditions they will experience in this tokamak.

HTS magnets must be cooled to remain superconducting and to be protected from the heat generated by the current. For the tests, the TFMC will be enclosed in a cryostat, cooled to the low temperatures necessary for the eventual operation of the tokamak and charged with current to produce a magnetic field. How the magnet reacts when current is supplied to the coil will determine if the technology is in place to build the 18 TF coils for SPARC.

A success story

That LaBombard is part of the next PSFC merger project is not unusual; that he is involved in the design, engineering and testing of magnets. Until 2018, when he was leading the R&D research team for one of the magnet designs being considered for SPARC, LaBombard’s more than 30 years of famous research focused on other areas of the question of fusion.

As a graduate student, he was acclaimed early on for the research he reported in his doctoral thesis. Working on Alcator C, he made groundbreaking discoveries in plasma physics in the “borderline” region of the tokamak, between the edge of the fusion core and the wall of the machine. With typical modesty, LaBombard attributes part of its success to the fact that the subject was not well studied and that the Alcator C provided measurements not possible on other machines.

“People knew the border, but no one really studied it in detail. On Alcator C, there were some interesting phenomena, like marfes [multifaceted asymmetric radiation from the edge], being detected for the first time. This prompted me to perform very detailed boundary layer measurements that no one had ever seen before. It was a whole new territory, so I made a splash.

This splash established him as a leading investigator in the field of limit plasmas. After a two-year stint at the University of California at Los Angeles working on a plasma wall test facility called PISCES, LaBombard, who grew up in New England, was happy to return to MIT to join the new PSFC Alcator C-Mod project. .

Over the next 28 years of the construction and operation phase of C-Mod, LaBombard continued to make revolutionary contributions to the understanding of tokamak on-board and divertor plasmas, and to the design of internal components capable of survive harsh conditions and control plasma, including the vertical target of C-Mod. plate divertor and a unique divertor cryopump system. This experience led him to design the “X-point target divertor” to handle extreme fusion power exhausts and to offer a national advanced derivative tokamak (ADX) experience to test such ideas.

From the start, LaBombard’s real passion was to create groundbreaking diagnostics to unveil boundary layer physics and guide graduate students to do the same: an Omegatron, to measure the concentrations of impurities directly in boundary plasma, solved with respect to charge / mass; fast scanning Langmuir-Mach probes for measuring plasma fluxes; a Shoelace antenna to provide insight into on-board plasma fluctuations; the invention of a Langmuir mirror probe for real-time measurements of high bandwidth plasma turbulence.

Change side

His expertise established, he could have continued this focus on the edge of plasma through collaborations with other laboratories and the PSFC. Instead, he finds himself on the other side of the vacuum chamber, immersed in the design and technology of magnets. When challenged to find an effective HTS magnet design for SPARC, he and his team were able to come up with a winning strategy, one that seemed most likely to achieve the high compact field and high performance for which PSFC tokamaks are known.

LaBombard is spurred on by his new leadership and excited about the upcoming TFMC test. His new role takes advantage of his training in physics, electricity and magnetism. It also supports his passion for designing and building objects, which he perfected as an apprentice at his machinist father’s high school and professionally explored building systems for Alcator C-Mod.

“I consider my main role to be to make sure that the TF coil operates electrically, as it is supposed to,” he says. “So it produces the magnetic field without damaging the coil. “

A successful test would validate understanding of how the new magnet technology works and prepare the team to build magnets for SPARC.

Among those overseeing TFMC test hours will be graduate students, current and former, who will remind LaBombard of his own days as a student working on Alcator C and his years supervising students on Alcator C-Mod.

“These students were directly involved in the Alcator C-Mod. They would step in, make things happen – and as a team. This team spirit really allowed everyone to surpass themselves.

“And looking at when SPARC was taking shape, you could see that at all levels, from new to young, they really got involved in the spirit of Alcator – recognizing the plasma performance that can be made possible by a high magnetic fields. “

He laughs, looking to the past and to the future.

“And they bring it to SPARC.”

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New York hits $ 1.2 billion settlement between drug distributors over opioid epidemic Tue, 20 Jul 2021 18:32:00 +0000 The country’s three largest drug distributors have agreed to pay New York State up to $ 1.2 billion to settle an ongoing lawsuit accusing the companies of helping fuel widespread opioid addiction, as negotiators move closer to a broader national resolution of thousands of similar lawsuits.

McKesson Distributors Corp.

, AmerisourceBergen Corp.

and Cardinal Santé Inc.

have been on trial since late June alongside four other companies in a case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk. Distributors, although not known, are among the most profitable businesses in the country and serve as intermediaries for everything from prescription drugs to medical supplies.

“While no amount of money will ever make up for the millions of addictions, the hundreds of thousands of deaths or the countless communities decimated by opioids, that money will be vital to preventing any future devastation,” said Ms. James.

The New York deal was announced as negotiators finalized the outlines of a $ 26 billion deal between the states and the three distributors and Johnson & Johnson.

The deal would pave the way for an end to more than four years of litigation over the liability of drug distributors and drug companies for an epidemic of opioid addiction that federal data has shown has killed nearly half a million people. people in the United States from 1999 to 2019.

AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson jointly said Tuesday that the New York settlement is an “important step” towards reaching the broader agreement. Although they dispute the allegations made against them in the lawsuit, “they believe this resolution will allow companies to focus their attention and resources on the safe and secure delivery of drugs and therapies while providing significant relief to affected communities. “the companies said.

Tuesday’s settlement with New York represents an acceleration of what the state would have received under the $ 26 billion deal.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs representing thousands of local governments and some states said in a media appeal on Tuesday that negotiations were continuing around the clock to reach the terms of the national deal. The settlement would include money distributed over more than a decade, as well as the creation of a clearinghouse to help distributors spot and stop orders for suspicious drugs.

“We hope we’re in the very, very final stages,” said Paul Geller, a Florida lawyer who represents several cities and counties and has helped lead the talks. “We are dealing with the most complex constellation of cases we have ever seen… We are all distressed by every sentence, every comma. ”

A group of state attorneys general first announced the contours of a settlement with distributors and Johnson and Johnson in October 2019. Since then, lawyers have spent thousands of hours in meetings and on phone calls to clarify the details of an agreement that could ultimately involve the majority of states and local governments across the nation. For a period over the past year, the main lawyers involved have met on Zoom every night at 8 p.m., including holidays, Mr Geller said.

A bipartisan group of 10 state attorneys general, including those from Ohio, North Carolina and Massachusetts, said on Tuesday that “Our negotiations are progressing well and are potentially on the verge of an end.”

Once the terms are codified, the agreement sets in motion another delicate phase of the litigation. States can choose to sign or reject the conditions to continue to assert their claims in court. States that agree to the terms will then have incentives to involve their local counties and cities, which were also complainants.

The more states and communities that participate, the more the $ 26 billion will be paid, lawyers said Tuesday. Businesses can always back out if too many states and communities choose to go their own way.

The attorney’s fees and expenses will represent $ 2.5 billion of the settlement funds, an amount that plaintiffs attorney Joe Rice said on Tuesday was a fair payment for attorneys who invested 1.5 million dollars. hours in business.

The four companies in the current deal are not the only ones facing opioid litigation, but they are among the most important and profitable targets of the lawsuits. Settlement talks will then turn to companies like AbbVie Inc.

Allergan and Teva Pharmaceutical Unit Ltd.

Rice said Tuesday. In 2019, Teva publicly offered to provide overdose medication as part of a settlement, but Rice said the offer was unattractive to them.

A spokeswoman for Teva said the company is actively negotiating and remains committed to its donated drug offering, which it says provides a holistic approach to help resolve the opioid epidemic. Representatives for AbbVie did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The national pharmacies that have been sued, Rice said, have yet to engage in talks and the plaintiffs’ attorneys are preparing for a pharmacy-specific lawsuit slated for October.

The New York trial was originally scheduled to include drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and four national drugstore chains. These companies have settled in and avoided the uncertainty of a jury trial, with J&J agreeing to pay $ 263 million.

The cash from the distributors will flow to New York State starting at two months and will continue for the next 17 years, the state attorney general’s office said. The state said the majority of funds would be directed to communities in New York City that have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

The companies have largely denied the allegations in the opioid lawsuits, saying they sell and distribute federally regulated products that meet a medical need. At the same time, some companies, such as J&J, have stopped selling opioids, and most of those sued have acknowledged the public health crisis and said they are working on ways to be part of a solution.

In New York City, three lesser-known drugmakers and a smaller distributor have yet to settle and are still on trial in proceedings that were originally scheduled to last four months. Two more opioid lawsuits heard only by judges are pending elsewhere in the country: one in West Virginia federal court against the three drug distributors and another against four drugmakers in California state court .

The opioid crisis

More WSJ coverage on the devastating effects of addiction, selected by editors

Write to Sara Randazzo at

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Leftist Castillo faces divided nation as Peru’s next president Tue, 20 Jul 2021 08:00:55 +0000

(Bloomberg) – Peru Pedro Castillo, a rural labor activist from a Marxist party, will take the reins of a deeply divided country after being declared president-elect after weeks of counting, prosecution and allegations of fraud.

The result, announced Monday evening by the Peruvian electoral authorities, will help dispel the uncertainty that has gripped the Andean nation since the second round of June 6. But that leaves Castillo, a highland teacher with no previous national politics experience, with the daunting challenge of trying to bridge an array of political, economic and geographic divisions exposed by the election.

Castillo, 51, who was virtually unknown six months ago, narrowly defeated right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, leader of the country’s most powerful political clan. After alleging fraud and calling for numerous votes to be quashed, Fujimori said she would accept the authorities’ decision even though she called her opponent’s proclamation “illegitimate”.

Speaking immediately after the decision, Castillo thanked the Peruvian people and called for national unity, sending a special message to his main political opponent.

“I call on Ms. Fujimori not to erect more barriers on this path,” he told a crowd of supporters from a balcony in a building in downtown Lima. “Let’s no longer have obstacles to move this country forward.

He quickly received congratulations from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro.

READ MORE: Elites tremble as Peruvian left expresses anger over rising inequality

When he takes office on July 28, Castillo will inherit a traumatized nation. Peru has suffered the highest death rate in the world from Covid as well as a deeper economic slump than any other major economy in the Americas. The country has also experienced exceptional political volatility, with three presidents in just over a week last year.

Castillo ran on the slogan “More poor in a rich country” which means that the nation’s vast mineral wealth should benefit ordinary people. He swept through the rural and Andean regions of the country, while Fujimori won the capital Lima and the coastal towns to the north.

He says he will focus on education and health, making him the face of the resurgent left in Latin America and a symbol of growing disenchantment with elites in the wake of the pandemic’s ravages.

Investor fears

Castillo won by 50.1% to 49.9%, and Fujimori’s party alleged irregularities and attempted to overturn votes deemed fraudulent. The United States and the European Union said the ballot was clean.

His election initially scared investors, but the country’s bonds and currency rallied after he appointed mainstream economists as advisers and pledged to respect the autonomy of the central bank.

Read more: Peru’s Castillo has a Marxist and a fiscal hawk in the inner circle

Its chief economic adviser, Pedro Francke, has called for fiscal prudence and inflation targeting, and opposes the nationalization of companies. But the Marxists of Castillo’s Free Peru party will try to get him to follow a more radical path.

Castillo’s ability to govern is likely to be hampered by his limited support in Congress, which is dominated by the center-right. He will face not only opposition but the very real threat of impeachment, which was used to topple former President Martin Vizcarra.

His narrow victory, however, represents one of the most meteoric political journeys in recent history. Castillo has gone from a little-known union organizer just a few months ago to the head of a country of 32 million people struggling with one of the worst periods in its history.

Disgust of voters

His promises to raise corporate taxes, curb big business and inject 20% of economic output into social welfare struck a chord with the rural poor. But those same policies, and the roots of his political party, worried investors, accustomed to Peru being one of the continent’s most dynamic and reliable economies, even in the midst of political crises.

While his Peru Free Party was founded by a Marxist neurosurgeon who praised autocrats like Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Castillo tried to distance himself from the party’s radicals.

During the campaign, Castillo crisscrossed the country wearing a large straw hat, riding on horseback at the polls and dancing with his supporters. He carried a giant pencil to signify his interest in education. On April 11, he beat 17 other candidates to win the first round.

(Updates with challenges starting in the second paragraph.)

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