A witness in Georgia will be testifying that there were ballots that were different than the official ones.
He will say that the paper is different and the area where you vote is solid grey instead of transparent like the ones the state sent out. He says there were stacks of pristine ballots that appeared to have been marked for Biden by a machine.
Sidney Powell’s lawsuit points out several anomalies of which this is just one, but a very important one. If what he says is true, these ballots were manufactured not by the state, but by someone who wanted to assure that Biden won the election.
The witness claims the ballots did not look like they had ever been handled and the vote could have been added by a copy machine.
Many of the other witnesses claim they saw votes for President Trump were added to the Biden voter pile. Huge stacks of votes were run through the machine and were 100% for Biden and none for our president. That is a mathematical impossibility. Since Powell and Wood only need to prove their case by the preponderance of the evidence, this should be sufficient to affect the election in Georgia.
I noticed that almost all of the ballots I reviewed were for Biden. Many batches went 100% for Biden. I also observed that the watermark on at least 3 ballots were solid gray instead of transparent, leading me to believe the ballot was counterfeit. I challenged this and the Elections Director said it was a legitimate ballot and was due to the use of different printers. Many ballots had markings for Biden only, and no markings on the rest of the ballot.
Another affiant (same witness who gave sworn statement in Wood v. Raffensperger) explained she observed batches of pristine ballots with different texture paper with machine-stamped bubbles that went 98% for Joe Biden:
Most of the ballots had already been handled; they had been written on by people, and the edges were worn. They showed obvious use. However, one batch stood out. It was pristine. There was a difference in the texture of the paper – it was if they were intended for absentee use but had not been used for that purposes. There was a difference in the feel.
These different ballots included a slight depressed pre-fold so they could be easily folded and unfolded for use in the scanning machines. There were no markings on the ballots to show where they had com~ from, or where they had been processed. These stood out.
This is shaping up to be a real knock down drag out fight. Trending today
“Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 – 2020 Regular Session
Posted: November 27, 2020 07:33 PM
From: Senator Doug Mastriano and Sen. David J. Arnold, Jr., Sen. Michele Brooks, Sen. Mario M. Scavello
To: All Senate members Subject: RESOLUTION: Disputing the 2020 General Election
In the immediate future, we will be introducing the following resolution:
WHEREAS, Article I, Section 4, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution empowers state legislatures, including the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to prescribe the “Times, Places, and Manner” of conducting elections; and
WHEREAS, Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution empowers state legislatures, including the General Assembly of the Commonwealth…
Lin is for Lincoln. The soapbox was used as a stand for public speaking.
From the petition-link:
“Take Action: Fight Georgia Fraud!
Support Lin Wood’s Lawsuit Against The Corrupt State of Georgia by Filling Out The Petition Below. Fight Back for Freedom.
We MUST Protect Election Integrity in Georgia
They say that in America, there are four boxes of liberty. The soapbox, the ballot box, the jury box, and the ammo box. When we voted on November 3rd, 2020, we exercised our rights as Georgians and as Americans to make our voices heard via the ballot box, having listened to others make theirs heard all year through the soapbox. We trusted in our elected officials to safeguard that ballot box, such that its results would truly reflect our will as Georgians. However, those officials, either through laziness or incompetence, allowed thieves to steal in…
WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris today announced new members of the White House staff who will serve in senior communications roles. These diverse, experienced, and talented women demonstrate President-elect Biden’s continued commitment to building an administration that looks like America and is ready to deliver results for working families on day one. For the first time in history, these communications roles will be filled entirely by women.
“Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House. I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women. These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better,” said President-elect Joe Biden.
“Our country is facing unprecedented challenges–from the coronavirus pandemic to the economic crisis, to the climate crisis, and a long-overdue reckoning over racial injustice. To overcome these challenges, we need to communicate clearly, honestly, and transparently with the American people, and this experienced, talented, and barrier-shattering team will help us do that. These communications professionals express our commitment to building a White House that reflects the very best of our nation” said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“Today’s appointees are respected communicators with a breadth of experience and a strong commitment to serving the American people. President-elect Biden has a history of advocating on behalf of women in the U.S and around the world and today’s announcement is a continuation of that work, elevating this dynamic team of leaders to senior White House positions. They embody Joe Biden’s commitment to a diverse administration where the voices of all Americans are represented,” said incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
Biographies of the appointees are listed below in alphabetical order:
Elizabeth E. Alexander served as a Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Alexander spent the first years of the Obama-Biden administration as the Press Secretary to Vice President Biden, a role which followed her time as then-Senator Biden’s Communications Director on Capitol Hill. She has worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Washington, DC and Alexandria, Virginia, where she also served as a counselor to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Previously, Alexander worked as Press Secretary for the United Nations Foundation, Press Secretary to Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, Communications Director for Congressman Adam Schiff, and Deputy Press Secretary for Senator Chuck Schumer. Before joining the Biden-Harris campaign, Alexander was a Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting, where she led the firm’s gender inclusion and workplace equality communications offering. Originally from Texas, Alexander is a graduate of Texas A&M University and Georgetown University Law Center. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and two young sons.
Kate Bedingfield served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for the Biden-Harris Campaign. She served as Communications Director for Vice President Biden and as Associate Communications Director, Deputy Director of Media Affairs, and the Director of Response in the Obama-Biden White House. Prior to the Obama-Biden administration, Bedingfield served as Communications Director to U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen on her successful 2008 Senate campaign, Deputy National Press Secretary on the John Edwards for President campaign and Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 when Democrats won back the House. Bedingfield has also served as the Chief Spokeswoman and Vice President of Corporate Communications at the Motion Picture Association of America and as the Vice President of Communications at Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Originally from Georgia, Bedingfield is a graduate of the University of Virginia. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, son and daughter.
Ashley Etienne served as a Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Before that, Etienne served as Communications Director and Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the first woman and person of color to hold the position. Etienne was Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Cabinet in the Obama-Biden administration and also led communications on President Obama’s signature My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Prior to the Obama-Biden administration, she served as Deputy Communications Director and Spokesperson for then-House Democratic Leader Pelosi, Communications Director for House Democrats on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Spokesperson for the Corporation for National and Community Service, and as a Spokesperson in Virginia for the Obama-Biden Campaign in 2008. Etienne has provided strategic counsel to clients while at Dewey Square Group and as president of her own consulting firm, Etienne & Associates. Originally from Texas, Etienne is a graduate of Sam Houston State University and Johns Hopkins University.
Karine Jean-Pierre was Senior Advisor to President-Elect Joe Biden and Chief of Staff to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Prior to her role on the campaign, she served as Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn.org and an NBC and MSNBC Political Analyst. Jean-Pierre served as Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Obama-Biden administration and as Deputy Battleground States Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. She served as Southeast Regional Political Director for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, Deputy Campaign Manager for Martin O’Malley for President, Campaign Manager for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Initiative, and Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Legislative and Budget Affairs for two members in the New York City Council. Previously, she worked at the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics, pushing major companies to change their business practices. Born in Martinique and raised in New York, Jean-Pierre is a graduate of Columbia University.’
Jen Psaki currently oversees the confirmations team for the Biden-Harris Transition. During the Obama-Biden administration, Psaki held several senior roles, including White House Communications Director, State Department Spokesperson under then-Secretary of State John Kerry, Deputy White House Communications Director and Deputy White House Press Secretary during the financial crisis. She is a veteran of three presidential campaigns having served as traveling press secretary during the Obama-Biden campaign in 2008, as traveling press secretary and senior advisor in 2012 and as deputy press secretary for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004. Psaki was a spokesperson at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 when Democrats won back the House of Representatives and has also served as Communications Director to former Congressman Joe Crowley. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Transition Team, Psaki was the Vice President for Communications and Strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a CNN contributor. Psaki is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.
Symone Sanders served as a Senior Advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign. In 2016, Sanders became the youngest presidential press secretary while working on U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s then-presidential campaign. Before joining the Biden-Harris campaign, Sanders was a CNN political commentator and served as principal of the 360 Group LLC, where she provided strategic communications guidance to organizations, businesses, individuals, campaigns and candidates. Sanders is the former chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee and former member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, where she worked to raise the profile of young voices in the fight for juvenile justice reform and bring millennial perspectives to policy conversations. Originally from Nebraska, Sanders is a graduate of Creighton University. She currently lives in Washington D.C. with her partner.
Pili Tobar served as the Communications Director for Coalitions on the Biden-Harris Campaign. Before joining the campaign, Tobar served as the Deputy Director for America’s Voice, where she advocated on behalf of immigrants. She has also served as the Hispanic Media Director for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, National Director of Hispanic Media and Western Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee, Communications Director for Congressman Ruben Gallego, and Communications Director for the Latino Victory Project. Originally from Florida and raised in Guatemala, Tobar is a graduate of the University of Miami. She lives in Washington D.C. with her wife and daughter. Next Post: Biden-Harris Transition Announces COVID-19 Advisory Board Members November 28, 2020Press Releases Biden-Harris Transition Announces COVID-19 Advisory Board Members Next Post
French fashion label Hermès is planning to build Australia’s largest crocodile factory farm, which would imprison up to 50,000 crocodiles at a time—so that their skin can be turned into expensive bags, belts, and other accessories.
Every PETA exposé of the exotic-skins industry has shown that no matter the source—or the “standards” touted by brands—products made from animal skins involve forcing highly intelligent, sensitive animals to endure squalid imprisonment and a violent death.
A PETA eyewitness investigation revealed that alligators on a farm in Texas that supplied an Hermès-owned tannery were kept in fetid water in dank, dark sheds and denied sunshine, fresh air, clean water, and basic medical care. A worker cut into the necks of more than 500 conscious alligators as they struggled to escape. Some were flailing and kicking for minutes after workers tried to kill them.
On a farm in Zimbabwe, tens of thousands of Nile crocodiles were confined to concrete pits from birth to slaughter. Many skins from their stomachs are sent to an Hermès-owned tannery, where they end up becoming items such as handbags that can cost $50,000 or more. It takes two or three crocodiles to make just one handbag.
The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that cramming sick and stressed animals together in unsanitary conditions creates the perfect breeding grounds for dangerous zoonotic disease, which can jump from other species to humans. Conservation experts are warning that the exotic-skins industry fuels the risk of future epidemics—another reason for Hermès to stop selling them.
Please speak out for crocodiles, curious and sensitive animals who just want to be left alone to swim free, build nests, and protect their young. Denying them and other animals their freedom supports speciesism, and we need your help to end it. Urge Hermès to stop selling exotic skins!
Simba from Russia, used as a tourist trap, owner discarded him after breaking his back legs. Taken in by vet @DallakyanKaren, who nursed & loved him. Soon Simba will relocate to a sanctuary in Tanzania, a first for Russia. Thank you so much @DallakyanKaren 🎥 Shelter Saveme pic.twitter.com/WLIIUkZKFj
Tell the State Attorney General of Miami-Dade: Prosecute Horse Killers.
URGENT: There is an underground horse meat industry running rampant. Countless numbers of innocent horses arebeing stolen from their homes, brutally stabbed to death, and butchered for their meat.
Authorities keep dropping the ball, ignoring hard evidence, and letting violent horse killers get away with cold-blooded murder.
Join us to demand that the State Attorney General enforce felony arrests and the prosecution of animal abusers to the fullest degree under the Good Horse Slaughter ACT. Together, we can bring justice to the thousands of family horses being brutally butchered and their meat sold for human consumption.
Tell the State Attorney General of Miami-Dade: we won’t accept this injustice any longer. We demand that these horse killers get put behind bars and throw away the key.
Sign this important petition, and we will send your name along with thousands of others to Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, the State Attorney General of Miami-Dade, so that we can make a bigger impact on your behalf.
Are the wolves of Yellowstone National Park the first line of defense against a terrible disease that preys on herds of wildlife?
That’s the question for a research project underway in the park, and preliminary results suggest that the answer is yes. Researchers are studying what is known as the predator cleansing effect, which occurs when a predator sustains the health of a prey population by killing the sickest animals. If the idea holds, it could mean that wolves have a role to play in limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease, which is infecting deer and similar animals across the country and around the world. Experts fear that it could one day jump to humans.
“There is no management tool that is effective” for controlling the disease, said Ellen Brandell, a doctoral student in wildlife ecology at Penn State University who is leading the project in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. “There is no vaccine. Can predators potentially be the solution?”
Many biologists and conservationists say that more research would strengthen the case that reintroducing more wolves in certain parts of the United States could help manage wildlife diseases, although the idea is sure to face pushback from hunters, ranchers and others concerned about competition from wolves.
Chronic wasting disease, a contagious neurological disease, is so unusual that some experts call it a “disease from outer space.” First discovered among wild deer in 1981, it leads to deterioration of brain tissue in cervids, mostly deer but also elk, moose and caribou, with symptoms such as listlessness, drooling, staggering, emaciation and death.
It is caused by an abnormal version of a cell protein called a prion, which functions very differently than bacteria or viruses. The disease has spread across wild cervid populations and is now found in 26 states and several Canadian provinces, as well as South Korea and Scandinavia.
The disease is part of a group called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, the most famous of which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. Mad cow in humans causes a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and there was an outbreak among people in the 1990s in Britain from eating tainted meat.
Cooking does not kill the prions, and experts fear that chronic wasting disease could spread to humans who hunt and consume deer or other animals that are infected with it.
The disease has infected many deer herds in Wyoming, and it spread to Montana in 2017. Both states are adjacent to Yellowstone, so experts are concerned that the deadly disease could soon make its way into the park’s vast herds of elk and deer.
Unless, perhaps, the park’s 10 packs of wolves, which altogether contain about 100 individuals, preyed on and consumed diseased animals that were easier to pick off because of their illness (the disease does not appear to infect wolves).Coronavirus Briefing: An informed guide to the global outbreak, with the latest developments and expert advice.
“Wolves have really been touted as the best type of animal to remove infected deer, because they are cursorial — they chase their prey and they look for the weak ones,” said Ms. Brandell. By this logic, diseased deer and other animals would be the most likely to be eliminated by wolves.
Preliminary results in Yellowstone have shown that wolves can delay outbreaks of chronic wasting disease in their prey species and can decrease outbreak size, Ms. Brandell said. There is little published research on “predator cleansing,” and this study aims to add support for the use of predators to manage disease.
A prime concern about the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Yellowstone region is the fact that Wyoming maintains 22 state-sponsored feeding grounds that concentrate large numbers of elk unnaturally in the Yellowstone region. And just south of Grand Teton National Park lies the National Elk Refuge, where thousands of animals, displaced by cattle ranches, are fed each winter to satisfy elk hunters and tourists. Many wildlife biologists say concentrating the animals in such small areas is a recipe for the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease.
When cases of the disease among deer ranged from 5 to 50 percent in Wisconsin and Colorado, those states were considered hot spots. But if the disease gets into game farms like the ones in Wyoming, “prevalence rates skyrocket to 90 or 100 percent,” said Mark Zabel, associate director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University.
Prions are especially deadly. Unlike bacteria and viruses, prions can persist in soil for 10 years or more and endure on vegetation. Even if a herd dies out or is culled, new animals moving in can become infected.
The origin of the disease is unknown. Andrew P. Dobson, a professor of ecology and epidemiology at Princeton who has studied predator cleansing, believes the illness is largely the result of ecosystems with too few predators and scavengers.
He speculates that the disease may have come from deer living in proximity to sheep in Colorado or Wyoming, where it was first identified. Sheep have carried scrapie — effectively mad cow disease for sheep — for centuries. Dr. Dobson has theorized that after a contaminated animal died, it may have lain on the ground for a while in the absence of predators and scavengers, which would usually clean up carcasses.
Elk and deer must have calcium, he said, and they may have eaten the bones of a contaminated animal and spread the disease.
The absence of wolves throughout much of the West may also have allowed the disease to take off. “Taking the sick and weak removes chronic wasting disease from the population, because any animal showing any signs of it will get killed and eaten by the wolves,” Dr. Dobson said. “The rest of the carcass gets cleaned up by the coyotes, the bald eagles, ravens and bears.”
“Without predators and scavengers on the landscape, animal components last much longer, and that can definitely have an impact on the spread of disease,” Ms. Brandell said.
Restoring the population of predators in national parks and wild lands would go a long way toward healthier ecosystems with less disease, Dr. Dobson said.
Ken McDonald, chief of the wildlife division of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, expressed doubts that wolves would prevent chronic wasting disease.
“Wolves help remove sick animals, but animals don’t get visibly ill for about 2 years,” he said. “So they are carriers and spreaders but don’t get the classic symptoms.”
Mr. McDonald said that maintaining a large enough wolf population outside of Yellowstone to control chronic wasting disease would require so many wolves that it would be socially unacceptable, especially to ranchers and hunters.
The state’s approach to controlling the disease, he said, is to increase the number of deer that can be killed in places where the disease is growing.
Ms. Brandell, however, said that wolves may detect the disease long before it becomes apparent to people, through smell or a slight change in the movement of prey, which could be beneficial.
November 13, 2020 — Albright’s Raw Dog Food of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is voluntarily recalling 67 cases of Chicken Recipe for Dogs because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
What’s Being Recalled?
The product is labeled Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs and is packaged in 2-pound chubs/rolls (see image above).
Each chub/roll is printed with:
Lot number C000185
Best By 19 May 2021
Product was sold frozen, and was distributed from the company to distributors from 7/8/20 to 8/27/20.
One animal illness has been reported. No human illnesses have been reported to date.
Where Was It Sold?
Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs was distributed in CA, FL, IL, IN, NH, NJ, NV, NY, PA, and TN.
The affected product was also distributed through retail stores, mail order, and direct delivery.
What Caused the Recall?
The problem bacteria was revealed after testing conducted by the FDA.
The problem was confined to this batch and the company has ceased the distribution of the batch as FDA and the company continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.
About Salmonella in Humans
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.
Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms.
Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
About Salmonella in Pets
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.
Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.
If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
What to Do?
Due to the frozen condition of the product, it is possible that retailers and end users may still have the product in their freezers.
Consumers who have purchased Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.
Consumers with questions may contact the company at 260-422-9440 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM ET.
There’s nothing like the heartbreak of losing a pet. After all, these animals are more than just our companions; they’re family.
We know that their time with us is short, and while that’s the poignant reality, it also makes every moment we spend with them a little more special.
The Green-Wood Cemetery in south Brooklyn houses the remains of one of the best boys to have ever lived in New York. His name is Rex, and he’s believed to be buried with his owner, John E. Stow, one of the city’s most prominent fruit merchants who passed away in 1884. Guarding his plot is Rex, who is represented by a bronze statue of his likeness.
While the cemetery houses several famous residents—including artists and musicians such as Leonard Bernstein, Charles Ebbets, and Jean-Michel Basquiat—the dog’s gravesite near the corner of Sycamore and Greenbough Avenues appears to be one of the most-visited tombs in the entire memorial park.
The evidence? The constant pile of sticks and fallen branches placed above his paws. Apparently, people leave them there because they think Rex is still a very good boy, even if he passed away over 100 years ago.
“When it comes to Rex, he obviously stands out. People see him from the road — it’s sort of a prominent spot, right off of the intersection of two roads here,” Stacy Locke, communications manager for Green-Wood Cemetery, told The Dodo.
“It’s right under a tree and there are lots of sticks around,” she added. “People will drop a stick across his little paws. Someone also left a picture of a dog there once, maybe their little pet who passed away, as to say, ‘Rex, look after my little one.’”
The 478-acre cemetery has become a popular destination for people wanting to escape the crowds and enjoy nature trips during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, Rex’s stick collection has grown notably over the past few months, thanks to the visitors who take the time to collect fallen branches around the park and bring it to his tomb.
Although there’s a “bronze likeness of a dog,” atop Stow’s grave, it’s unclear whether Rex was actually buried there with him or not.
“I think people like to believe that there is a dog interred there and there very well might be,” Locke said. “But it’s hard to say.”
Rex’s grave has attracted the attention of people on social media. Many posts on Twitter and Facebook talk about the dog’s famous burial site.
“In Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn there is a gravestone for a dog named Rex. People bring him sticks and place them at his feet because he is still a good boy,” tweeted @KevinTMorales, along with a snapshot of Rex’s statue.
Aside from Rex, another dog in the cemetery gets a lot of love from visitors.
Many beloved pets were buried with their owners before the cemetery’s board of trustees banned animal burials in 1879.
The Green-Wood cemetery remains open to visitors. Guests can book walks or trolleys, depending on what part of history they’d like to explore in the area.
A dog’s love is forever, and they deserve to be honored even in the simplest ways. If ever you visit Green-Wood one of these days, make sure to leave a stick or toy on the resting places of these beloved companions. It’s the only way we can show them our gratitude, even if they’re already up in doggy heaven.
Shark liver oil helps make vaccines more effective, but increased demand for the substance could harm critically endangered species.
By Justin Meneguzzi
PUBLISHED November 13, 2020
Trawling for prey at more than a thousand feet under the surface, the scalloped hammerhead shark relies on a special oil in its liver to survive the crushing pressures of the deep.
Shark liver oil, or squalene, is a fatty substance that provides vital buoyancy for this critically endangered species and many others. But it’s also a lifesaver for humans as a boosting agent in vaccines, called an adjuvant, that improves the immune system and makes vaccines more effective.
One candidate is a vaccine developed in Australia by University of Queensland, in partnership with the Australian biopharmaceutical company CSL and its subsidiary Seqirus. The as yet unnamed vaccine contains the squalene adjuvant MF59, which is sourced from a variety of shark species. It entered human clinical trials earlier this year and, if successful, will result in an initial production of 51 million doses.
Tens of millions of sharks are caught and traded internationally each year—both legally and illegally—the majority for their meat and fins but roughly three million or more for their squalene. It takes the livers of between 2,500 and 3,000 sharks to extract about a ton of squalene.
Conservationists fear that increased demand for squalene for vaccines, among other uses, could further imperil shark species, a third of which are vulnerable to extinction. Today’sPopular StoriesHistory & CultureControversial tunnel under Stonehenge approved over archaeologists’ objectionsScienceIconic radio telescope in Puerto Rico is at risk of collapsingSciencePfizer vaccine results are promising, but lack of data ‘very concerning,’ experts say
Only about one percent of squalene ends up in vaccines, and most goes into cosmetics such as sunscreen, skin creams, and moisturizers. Even so, as the global population booms, the need for vaccines will only increase in coming years, Brendl notes, adding that some medical experts suggest that people will require multiple doses of vaccines against COVID-19.
“We’re not saying that vaccine trials should stop, but if we keep viewing sharks as an easy solution and don’t consider the alternatives that exist, then we’ll just continue to use [squalene] as a template for vaccines,” Brendl says.
In light of declining shark populations, some biotech companies are looking for other sources of squalene. Plants such as sugarcane, olives, amaranth seeds, and rice bran, for instance, all contain the substance. While plant-based alternatives are being tested in studies and clinical trials, regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have yet to approve them as part of a final vaccine product.
‘Livering’—a growing industry
For centuries, people have exploited shark livers for food and energy—liver oil, for example, fueled streetlights across 18th-century Europe. The oil has also long been used in textiles and food coloring, as well as cosmetic products.
Fishermen remove a liver from a shark in Keel Harbour, Ireland, in a historic photo. Photograph by Hulton-Deutsch Collection, CORBIS, Corbis via Getty Images
But it wasn’t until 1997 that Chiron—a former biotech company that’s since been acquired by Novartis—used squalene as an adjuvant in the FLUAD influenza vaccine. Other major pharmaceutical companies, such as GSK and Novartis, began to rely on squalene for their seasonal flu and swine flu vaccines.
While the overwhelming majority of sharks are unintentionally caught by large-scale fisheries pursuing tuna, squid, and salmon, deficiencies in reporting mean it is difficult to disentangle legitimate bycatch from illegal fishing activities. The species of shark being traded is also rarely identified in trade records.
To meet the demand for shark livers, a specialized industry of fishermen, producers, and traders have developed, especially in Indonesia and India. In a process dubbed “livering,” fishermen kill a shark to remove its liver, then throw the rest of the carcass overboard.
In processing centers on land, the livers are minced, boiled, and placed in tanks, where they’re put in a centrifuge to separate the oil from any residue. The oil is then packaged and shipped around the world. One ton of shark liver oil could be worth thousands of dollars, depending on its squalene content. (Learn more about why sharks are overfished for their fins.)
In a 2014 report, the nonprofit WildLifeRisk described a factory in southeastern China that was illegally processing 600 whale sharks—a protected species—and basking sharks a year.
‘Natural white blood cells’
Though all sharks have squalene, fishermen target deep-sea species, which have the biggest livers and thus the highest concentrations of the oil. These sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing because they mature slowly—some take a decade to begin reproducing.
As a result, nearly half the 60 shark species most wanted for their livers—including the scalloped hammerhead, the longfin mako, and the whale shark—are considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the body that sets the conservation status of wild animals and plants.
Many of those species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which restricts or bans fishing of certain marine species such as sharks and rays.
Joanne Cleary,a spokesperson for Seqirus, which uses the squalene adjuvant MF59, told National Geographic that their squalene is sourced from shark species that aren’t protected under CITES. In a follow-up request, Cleary did not say whether Seqirus’ suppliers meet sustainable fishing standards set by the Marine Stewardship Council. (Read how reef sharks are in major decline worldwide.) Sharks 101 Sharks can rouse fear and awe like no other creature in the sea. Find out about the world’s biggest and fastest sharks, how sharks reproduce, and how some species are at risk of extinction.
According to Brendl, of Shark Allies, “just because a fishery avoids protected species doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. Only a handful of species are legally protected, and getting a new one onto protection lists takes years.”
Losing top marine predators, such as the scalloped hammerhead, could be disastrous for the environment, says Austin Gallagher, a National Geographic Explorer and chief scientist at Beneath the Waves, a Virginia-based shark-conservation group.
“Sharks play a crucial role as the natural white blood cells of our oceans,” Gallagher says. “They keep our ecosystems robust by eating other animals that are sick, injured, or not fit to pass on their genes. They’re agents of natural selection in the most poetic way.” (Explore the world of sharks, lords of the sea.)
Purity in question?
Brendl says the onus is on pharmaceutical companies to begin developing viable alternatives to shark squalene to present to regulators. She points out that Novavax, an American vaccine-development company, is already using an alternative squalene adjuvant, Matrix-M, in clinical trials for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Matrix-M is made from the bark of the soapbark tree, which is abundant in Chile.
Though the company has deemed the soapbark adjuvant as safe, it has not yet been evaluated as part of a final product submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Cleary, the Seqirus spokesperson, says that “at this stage, [alternative] squalenes have not been approved by regulators for use in vaccines due to the purity levels required.”
However, the Infectious Disease Research Institute found that pharmaceutical-grade squalene produced by the American biotechnology company Amyris met, and in some cases exceeded, the safety and purity profiles of shark-based squalene, according to Chris Paddon, Amyris’s lead scientist.
Amyris is banking on sugarcane as a solution to shark-based squalene, he says. In southeastern Brazil, the company is growing thousands of acres of the bamboo-like sugarcane to be processed into squalene. Just 24 acres of sugarcane could, in theory, produce enough squalene to support one billion COVID-19 vaccines, (Read why vaccines are so crucial to human health.)
Because growers can control the way sugarcane is grown and harvested, it’s possible to ensure the quality of the squalene, Paddon says. “When you use animal products, there are impurities that come with them because of the environment they’re raised in and the places where they’re processed.” Furthermore, Paddon says, growing sugarcane is also cheaper than catching sharks and removing their livers.
Beneath the Waves’ Gallagher adds the pandemic has heightened public scrutiny of the vaccine-development process and exactly what goes into our medicines.
“One of the other significant things that also has come out of this pandemic,” he says, “has been simply shining a light on the greater environmental issue at hand here, which is the significant loss of sharks from our oceans that is happening at a global scale.”ShareTweetEmailCopy
It was midnight in Velarde, New Mexico, and graduate student Jenna McCullough was in search of dead birds.
She had driven two hours to a site where on the previous day, September 13, journalist Austin Fisher had stumbled upon a mass of deceased birds and posted a video of the grisly scene on Twitter.
When she saw the video, McCullough—who is studying avian genetics and evolution at New Mexico University—thought, “Oh my god, this is such a massive die-off here, just in one little spot.” She had to go investigate herself.
Now in the darkness picking up carcasses, McCullough felt the lightness of the birds. Of course, birds are light—an adaptation that enables flight—but these ones were particularly boney. And there were hundreds of them.
“It was really incredible. I work with dead birds. I see them all the time. But I had never seen just piles and piles of dead birds in one spot,” McCullough said.
Unfortunately, McCullough was not alone in witnessing such a scene this fall. Across New Mexico, similar swaths of dead birds were discovered as part of an unusual mass mortality event that has baffled researchers. Were the mortalities caused by the drought conditions in the Southwest? A recent cold snap? The smoke from wildfires raging in California? Or some other unknown peril?
Each autumn, billions of birds soar south from Canada and Alaska, passing over the southwestern US on their way to overwinter in Central and South America. While migration is always a risky journey, for thousands of birds this year, it was far deadlier than usual.
Birds literally fell from the sky. Others exhibited strange behavior, with species that normally swoop among trees and bushes seen huddling together on the ground, moving slowly as they searched for insects. There were bright-yellow warblers, shimmering swallows, brown sparrows, and other migratory species. Many were insectivores, or insect-eating birds.
I work with dead birds. I see them all the time. But I had never seen just piles and piles of dead birds in one spot.
Researchers have sent carcasses to US Fish and Wildlife laboratories in Oregon and Wisconsin for testing, though results will likely take months. They also put out a PSA for the public to log found dead birds on the iNaturalst app, of which there are currently 980 observations across the western US and into Mexico.
That night in Velarde, McCullough and another graduate student identified 305 dead birds, 258 of which were violet-green swallows. They decided to collect some data for themselves. After weighing the carcasses back at the lab, they found that the average weight of the swallows was 9.5 grams. The birds usually weigh about 14 grams, on average.
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The low weight, indicative of starvation, would have made the birds far more vulnerable to the unusual weather event that struck New Mexico between September 8 and 9, when temperatures dropped over 50 degrees and wind and snow whipped through parts of the state.
“If a lack of food contributed to the mortality event, birds would have less fat and no protection against hypothermia. Indeed, of the hundreds of birds we assessed, none had fat stores on their bodies,” wrote McCullough on the American Birding Association website.
Cold also limits the availability of insects, particularly insects flying through the air, which are the primary food source for aerial insectivores like violet-green swallows.
That’s enough evidence for McCullough to pinpoint weather as the culprit. “Birds with extreme weather events during the height of migration are more susceptible to something like this,” she said. “It’s not a sexy story to sell to newspapers that birds died of something that they routinely die of.”
Yet others suspect that different or additional causes are afoot. The thick wildfire smoke that blanketed California and western states throughout late summer and autumn could have harmed the birds’ lungs. Smoke also decreases visibility for birds. One theory suggests that species may have altered their flight paths away from historically food-rich areas and instead went through the food-scarce Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico.
Or it could be all of the above. Martha Desmond, an ornithologist at New Mexico State University, told the Las Cruces Sun News that “we saw a large number of mortalities leading up to it and following” the September cold snap, “which indicates that there might be multiple stressors coming together.” Rather than distinct events with distinct causes, these multiple stressors may have created the “perfect storm” of perilous conditions for migratory birds this fall.
Please help me save my dad! Eric Pruitt has served his country both in the military and as a contractor overseas for 19 years. He is now facing a death sentence by hanging in a foreign prison over drug charges. I really need your help to get the U.S. President’s administration to see this in order to bring him home.
U.S. civilians serving to protect our country or support our military have been targeted by Kuwaiti police in the past. These charges have often turned out to be false, but only after the U.S. government intervened on their behalf. My dad needs that intervention today because Kuwaiti police planted cocaine and falsely charged him for it.
Death by hanging is inhumane! Even if the death sentence is dropped, a lifetime in prison is certainly not much better, especially for a man who has served his country or for non-violent crimes!
If enough people stand up, my Dad’s life can be saved. I just want him to come home.
Please sign my petition today asking the U.S. President’s administration to demand the release of Eric Pruitt. This will ensure actual justice is served for a Black American Veteran and help bring him back to his family.
This is one of several related comments coming up:
The Chinese, people from India and a lot of other foreigners are all over this and putting in tons of comments. This is one of several related comment deadlines. As can be seen, the foreigners only think of themselves. They don’t think of American workers. Americans need to think of American workers. Americans need to speak up. These foreigners are the folk who hate America First, the foreigners who want to put themselves first in a country which is not their own:
This is a rule that the Trump administration put forth, which is supposed to help reduce H1B immigration abuses/restrict H1B. If Biden-Harris win, they are going to expand this program rather than restrict it…
Following in the spirit of Britain's Queen Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. A boudica.us site. I am an opinionator, do your own research, verification. Reposts, reblogs do not neccessarily reflect our views.