The 2020 election’s unnerving end: vandalism, acts of intimidation and riot prep.

first_img– Advertisement – Presidential elections always provoke anxiety, but this year’s campaign is closing on an especially unnerving note, with reports of pre-election vandalism, the boarding-up of stores in anticipation of rioting and the specter of voter intimidation.On Monday morning, officials arriving at the Democratic headquarters in Harris County, Tex., found the locks on the front door sealed with glue, and slogans and blobs of red paint smeared on windows.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – On Monday, the F.B.I. confirmed that its San Antonio office was investigating an incident in which a caravan of Trump supporters surrounded a Biden campaign bus on Friday — an act of intimidation that President Trump praised on Twitter.In New York City, the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue, which have wowed tourists for decades, were boarded up on Monday morning. SoHo, where trendy shoppers once flocked to glittering stores, echoed with the sound of hammers. On the sidewalk outside the Disney Store in Times Square, workers attached plywood to the storefront.The sea of plywood stretched into more modest commercial districts in the Bronx and Brooklyn, and even to Washington, where in recent days the ominous precaution has been evident all across downtown, fanning out several blocks from the White House, spreading around Capitol Hill, transforming the nightlife corridors of 14th Street and Adams-Morgan and reaching up into the suburbs. – Advertisement –center_img The preparations reflected a broader national anxiety surrounding the contest between Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., and the growing fears that no matter who wins, the aftermath of the election could include violence.The weekend saw tensions flare up. In North Carolina on Saturday, the police used a chemical spray to disperse a get-out-the-vote rally. On Sunday, cars and trucks with Trump flags halted traffic on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey and jammed the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in New York’s northern suburbs, and a pro-Trump convoy in Virginia ended in a tense shouting match with protesters as it approached a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond.States are already on alert. On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts ordered 1,000 members of the National Guard to be on standby. In Oregon, which has seen months of sporadic unrest, Gov. Kate Brown ordered the state National Guard to remain on standby in case violent protests erupt.“We know that there are some people who might use peaceful election night protests to promote violence and property destruction,” Ms. Brown said Monday. “That behavior is not acceptable.” On Sunday, students at George Washington University received an email headlined “We Suggest Preparing for the Election Day Period as you Would for a Hurricane or a Snowstorm.” Reporters at The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau were issued gas masks and orange bike helmets marked “press.” It appeared that nearly every CVS, Walgreens and 7-Eleven within at least a mile or so of downtown was being heavily fortified. In the suburbs of Pittsburgh, aides to Representative Conor Lamb, a Democrat, arrived at their storefront office to a similar scene: It was defaced with a red hammer-and-sickle sign and the words, “Don’t vote! Fight for revolution.”Police said they were investigating both incidents but had not yet identified any perpetrators.Throughout the country, business owners and government officials — from the managers of Saks Fifth Avenue to the president’s staff — were bracing for potential acts of vandalism or violence based on the outcome, or lack of an outcome.last_img read more

‘Great British Bake Off’ Finalist Luis Troyano Dies at 48

first_imgGreat British Baking Show Finalist Luis Troyano Dies at 48Luis Troyano Courtesy of Luis Troyano/TwitterThe Great British Bake Off’s Luis Troyano died at the age of 48 after battling esophageal cancer.“We are deeply saddened to hear that Luis Troyano has passed away,” the show’s official Twitter page announced on Tuesday, November 3. “It was a huge honour and pleasure to have him in the Bake Off Tent for Series Five. Our condolences and thoughts go out to his friends and family.”- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Kibel also shared a link to a Just Giving fundraiser page in Troyano’s memory to help raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.The page included a message from the late star that read: “A special thank you to Macmillan Cancer Support, East Cheshire Hospice and the NHS including Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust for trying to save my life and their tireless work to try and eliminate cancer. But more importantly a massive thank you to all the amazing professionals who really did try their absolute best for me, showed me absolute compassion and gave me more time than what was seemingly possible. I thank you sincerely.”- Advertisement – Upon hearing the sad news, many stars from the baking series shared their well wishes for Troyano’s family.“So sad to hear the news about Luis .. he was a fantastic baker and will be missed by all in the Bake Off team,” longtime judge on the show Paul Hollywood wrote via Instagram. “My thoughts are with his family #ripluis #gbbo #series5finalist.”Fellow season 5 finalist Richard Burr shared a photo of the pair at the Reality Television Awards while honoring his friend.“I feel lucky to have had such good mates to marvel at the craziness of short-term fame and long-term friendship,” he captioned the photo. “I will miss you Luis.”Chetna Makan, who also competed against the graphic designer turned baker, posted a photo of Troyano playing guitar in the kitchen after his passing. “Hope you get to play the best music and bake the most precise cakes up there!” she captioned the snap.Season 7 winner Candice Brown paid tribute to Troyano, tweeting, “The bake off family will miss you Luis. A real gent and a pleasure to know. Sending so much love and strength to your friends and family.”Listen to Us Weekly’s Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories! The Bake It Great author was a runner-up on season 5 of the baking show, which began in the U.K. and later came to the U.S. and renamed The Great British Baking Show.The baker’s manager, Anne Kibel, confirmed Troyano’s passing via Twitter and revealed that he died last week after fighting cancer.“Sadly, my lovely client lost his brave fight against Oesophageal cancer last week. A fantastic man with a love of baking that saw him get to the finals of GBBO, write a wonderful book, Bake It Great and do so much more,” she wrote on Tuesday. “Always in our thoughts.”- Advertisement –last_img read more

Big investors see a great backdrop for stocks as election results roll in

first_imgMarket participants had largely priced in a so-called blue wave ahead of the election. Along with a bigger stimulus, some investors believed it could also lead to tougher regulations on tech and energy companies as well as higher taxes.With a split government, however, those worries would fall significantly. And a Biden presidency likely wouldn’t escalate the China trade war, which has caused volatility in the markets, especially among tech stocks.“What I like about the Biden win now … is we don’t get Biden; we get Biden lite,” Kevin O’Leary, chairman of O’Shares ETFs, told CNBC’s “Halftime Report” on Thursday. “That means no dramatic tax increases, nothing happens in the regulatory environment [and] no Green New Deal.”This would be “just a slight change in course without any drama and tragedy in terms of massive changes,” he added.According to NBC News projections, Biden was just 17 Electoral College votes away from defeating Trump. However, key battleground states Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina have not been called for either candidate yet.Meanwhile, it was becoming increasingly likely that Republicans would maintain a majority in the Senate as more votes were counted.“I think a purple Congress is a much better outcome than a straight blue wave,” said Jon Najarian, co-founder of and a CNBC contributor. This “just takes the level of risks down substantially and that’s why you’re seeing money flow back” into equities.Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world. – Advertisement – Stocks have rallied in the two sessions since Election Day. On Thursday alone, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 400 points, putting it on track for its best weekly performance since April along with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite.Into the election, Treasury yields were rising on the expectation a so-called blue wave formed by a Democratic president and Congress would lead to a huge fiscal stimulus, among other spending programs. Yields sharply reversed lower following the election.- Advertisement – Big-money investors are growing more excited about the stock market as the U.S. election results keep rolling in.CNBC’s Scott Wapner spoke with some major investors who told him we could be on the cusp of a great scenario for stocks as former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump and Republicans are expected to keep control of the Senate.With government divided like this, these investors are growing more confident that taxes won’t rise sharply. One investor also told Wapner a split government means there won’t be any massive government spending “to make the bond market go crazy.”- Advertisement –center_img “Fearless Girl”, a bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbalthe, is seen with a voting sticker in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the Wall Street Financial District of Manhattan on November 4, 2020 in New York.Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images – Advertisement –last_img read more

Clare Crawley’s Ex-Fiance Benoit Reacts to Dale Moss Engagement

first_img– Advertisement – “Congratulations @ClareCrawley and @DaleMoss13!!!” he captioned the post. “Clare, you deserve all the best!! Sooo happy for you.”Clare Crawley's Ex-Fiance Benoit Reacts to Her Engagement to Dale MossCourtesy of Benoit Beausejour-Savard/InstagramBeauséjour-Savard also commented on Crawley’s proposal photo via Instagram. “You deserve all the love and happiness!! Happy for you two,” he wrote.The Canada native met Crawley on The Bachelor Winter Games, which aired in 2018, and proposed to her during the live finale. However, the pair called it quits two months later.- Advertisement – Beauséjour-Savard has been supportive of Crawley’s search for love on The Bachelorette. In March, he shared a supportive message to his ex after she was announced as the new leading lady.Clare Crawley's Ex-Fiance Benoit Reacts to Her Engagement to Dale MossBenoit Beausejour-Savard. Courtesy of Benoit Beausejour-Savard/Instagram“Congratulations to this gem!! She will be an amazing Bachelorette,” he wrote via Instagram at the time. “She is smart, fun, strong, knows what she wants and most importantly, she will call out the guys messing around!! Hell yeah!!”Beauséjour-Savard even filmed a segment with Crawley that was supposed to air during the season premiere, but it was ultimately cut. ABC executive Rob Mills tweeted in October that they “didn’t have time for the footage.” However, Beauséjour-Savard thought producers wanted to portray Crawley in a negative light.- Advertisement – “She has some good qualities than right now what we’ve seen it’s only [the] drama part,” he said on Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti‘s “Almost Famous” podcast in October. “Clare is a really deep person. She likes to get to know you on a really deeper level, which is not showing at all.”Crawley and Moss’ whirlwind romance on The Bachelorette concluded with the hairstylist professing her love for Moss after two weeks of filming. The former NFL player reciprocated her feelings and got down on one knee during Thursday’s episode.The couple left the show together, paving the way for Tayshia Adams to step in as the next Bachelorette.Listen to Here For the Right Reasons to get inside scoop about the Bachelor franchise and exclusive interviews from contestants No hard feelings? Clare Crawley‘s ex-fiancé, Benoit Beauséjour-Savard, weighed in on her getting engaged to Dale Moss and cutting her Bachelorette journey short.The Bachelor Winter Games alum, 33, shared a photo via his Instagram Story on Thursday, November 5, of Moss, 31, proposing to Crawley, 39, just four episodes into season 16.- Advertisement –last_img read more

Solar stocks are a good bet even with a divided Congress, analysts say

first_img– Advertisement – Solar stocks are bouncing as investors bet that the industry can perform even if president-elect Joe Biden faces a divided Congress.The industry’s growth over the last four years under the Trump administration demonstrates that favorable economics is what’s driving solar. While a united political environment would, of course, speed the adoption of renewables, analysts say that at the end of the day the so-called “blue wave” is far from a make-or-break for the industry. (This story is for CNBC PRO subscribers only.)- Advertisement –center_img Robert Nickelsberg | Getty Images News | Getty Imageslast_img read more

SpaceX capsule with 4 astronauts docks at space station

first_imgThis is the second astronaut mission for SpaceX. But it’s the first time Elon Musk’s company delivered a crew for a full half-year station stay. The two-pilot test flight earlier this year lasted two months.The three Americans and one Japanese astronaut will remain at the orbiting lab until their replacements arrive on another Dragon in April. And so it will go, with SpaceX — and eventually Boeing — transporting astronauts to and from the station for NASA.This regular taxi service got underway with Sunday night’s launch.- Advertisement – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 15, 2020. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission is the first crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.Gregg Newton | AFP | Getty Images Hopkins and his crew — Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi — join two Russians and one American who flew to the space station last month from Kazakhstan. Glover is the first African-American to move in for a long haul. A space newcomer, Glover was presented his gold astronaut pin Monday. SpaceX’s newly launched capsule with four astronauts arrived Monday at the International Space Station, their new home until spring.The Dragon capsule pulled up and docked late Monday night, following a 27-hour, completely automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.“Oh, what a good voice to hear,” space station astronaut Kate Rubins called out when the Dragon’s commander, Mike Hopkins, first made radio contact. The linkup occurred 262 miles (422 kilometers) above Idaho.- Advertisement – The four named their capsule Resilience to provide hope and inspiration during an especially difficult year for the whole world. They broadcast a tour of their capsule Monday, showing off the touchscreen controls, storage areas and their zero gravity indicator: a small plush Baby Yoda.Walker said it was a little tighter for them than for the two astronauts on the test flight.“We sort of dance around each other to stay out of each other’s way,” she said.For Sunday’s launch, NASA kept guests to a minimum because of coronavirus, and even Musk had to stay away after tweeting that he “most likely” had an infection. He was replaced in his official launch duties by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, who assured reporters he was still very much involved with Sunday night’s action, although remotely.As they prepared for the space station linkup, the Dragon crew beamed down live window views of New Zealand and a brilliant blue, cloud-streaked Pacific 250 miles below.“Looks amazing,” Mission Control radioed from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.“It looks amazing from up here, too,” Hopkins replied.center_img Crew-1 mission astronauts (L to R) Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, walk out of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building en route to launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 15, 2020.Gregg Newton | AFP | Getty Images – Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

Half of US flu vaccine supply suddenly not available

first_imgOct 5, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The vaccine supply for the soon-to-begin influenza season is suddenly in serious condition with news that Chiron Corp., maker of about half the US supply, has been ordered to stop production by British health authorities and will not be shipping its doses.The reason for the 3-month cessation of Chiron’s manufacturing license is unclear at this point. The company, based in Emeryville, Calif., and producing its Fluvirin vaccine in Liverpool, England, announced in late August that shipment of a small portion of its vaccine would be delayed because of contamination problems. Just last week, however, Chiron President and CEO Howard Pien reassured a Senate subcommitte that shipping would begin shortly and that his company’s supplies would arrive in time for this season’s vaccinations.Then, early this morning US health officials were contacted with news that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the British counterpart of the US Food and Drug Administration, had suspended Chiron’s license.Chiron was to supply 46 to 48 million of the 100 million total doses of flu vaccine ordered for this year’s vaccination program. Aventis Pasteur is to supply about 52 million doses of its Fluzone vaccine. MedImmune, maker of FluMist inhalable vaccine, will supply about 1.5 million doses. Although some Fluvirin has been received in the United States, none has been distributed.In the 2003-2004 flu season, 87 million doses were made available. This supply proved to be inadequate when cases began occurring early and public demand soared—thus the 100 million planned doses this year.A statement issued by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier today says that contingencies for the unexpected shortage are being pursued and that the immediate focus will be on getting vaccine to those most vulnerable. “We will need the help of the public, the public health community and the medical community to make sure that the vaccine goes to those who truly need it most,” the release states.In a press briefing this afternoon, Centers for Disease Control Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH, and National Center for Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthonly Fauci, MD, said that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) had been convened this morning to make recommendations on how the approximately 50 million doses of flu vaccine now expected should be distributed.The ACIP recommendation is that the normally targeted groups for flu vaccination—those 65 years of age and over, pregnant women, and people 2 to 64 with certain chronic medical condition—should get it. In addition, healthcare workers and children aged 6 to 23 months, who have been newly targeted this year, should be vaccinated. Gerberding pointed out that the Chiron situation does not affect vaccinations for young children, as the pediatric vaccine is made by Aventis.Healthy children over 23 months as well as healthy adults under 65 should defer getting vaccinations until such time as it can be determined that there is a surplus above that needed for the groups above, Gerberding said.She further noted that public health officials have “taken steps today and before today” to deal with a shortage, stating that CDC had already been working on contingency plans in case there were further issues with the Chiron dosages or other unforeseen problems with the planned supply. She said CDC was “disappointed but not unprepared” and that everyone should “take a deep breath, this is not an emergency.”Fauci said that a new focus is being put on finding ways to make the flu vaccine supply more flexible and consistent. Currently, the virus used for influenza vaccines is grown in chicken eggs, so the process must start several months before vaccine is needed and the exact formulation is arrived at using virus strains that circulated in the past flu season. Fauci mentioned the process of reverse genetics for arriving at vaccine formulations and cell culture–derived vaccines as examples of important avenues of research that could imrpvoe upon vaccine reliability. He also said that preliminary findings suggesting that half-strength doses of flu vaccine might be protective in some groups are promising.When asked whether the 50 million doses of vaccine now expected would be enough for the populations ACIP is targeting, Gerberding said that about 180 million people make up these groups but that “we never vaccinate all those.” Patterns of actual vaccination from the past plus the fact that the Chiron vaccine doesn’t affect the pediatric population’s needs, she said, suggest that the now-limited supply may be sufficient.Infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, concurred with HHS and CDC recommendations, telling CIDRAP News that “In order to assure coverage of those at highest risk of serious complications [of flu], we’re going to have to make sure the vaccine we do get is used very wisely.”Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, publisher of this Web site, said the occurrence of the Chiron situation, this year in particular as concern builds over a possible influenza pandemic arising from the avian flu outbreaks in Asia, “underscores critical gaps in our vaccine delivery infrastructure. . . . When this serious situation can arise in a ‘routine’ influenza season, just imagine if we suddenly have a pandemic influenza strain to deal with,” he saidAt today’s press conference, Jesse Goodman, MD, MPH, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said that FDA experts are leaving tonight for England to confer with MHRA and review that agency’s detailed report of what led to their decision on Chiron. They will also visit the manufacturing plant in Liverpool.See also:Oct 5 HHS press briefing [Transcript]HHS Oct 5 press release 5 ACIP interim vaccine recommendations for 2004-2005 influenza season Web page on preventing influenza 27 CIDRAP News story about Chiron delaylast_img read more

Canada says cattle from BSE cow’s birth herd pose little risk

first_imgJan 28, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Canada’s investigation of its second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) recently concluded with a finding that at least 110 cattle in the infected cow’s birth group died or were slaughtered before that case came to light.Although those cattle might have been exposed to feed that contained infective material, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said they represent very little risk to public health. The few cattle from the birth cohort that were still living were tested and found to be free of BSE, or mad cow disease.The CFIA said BSE prevalence in Canada is low, and most cattle are slaughtered before they are old enough to have infective levels of BSE. Also, BSE studies in a number of countries have shown that finding more than one case of BSE in a birth cohort is rare.The end of the case investigation was announced Jan 21. Investigation of Canada’s third BSE case, which was disclosed Jan 11, is still under way.The second case was in a Holstein cow in northern Alberta that was found unable to walk on Dec 17, 2004. Euthanization and testing led to the confirmation of BSE in the cow on Jan 2.Investigators determined that the cow had been born in October 1996 and had been given feed containing cattle meat-and-bone meal in the spring of 1997. Later that year, as a BSE precaution, both Canada and the United States banned the practice of putting protein from cattle and other ruminant animals into feed for ruminants.Investigators also found that the cow’s birth cohort—cattle born on the same farm and within 1 year before or after it was born—numbered 135 animals. Nine of these were found to be still living; they were euthanized and subsequently tested negative for BSE. Of the other 126 cattle, the CFIA determined that:Five had died of causes unrelated to BSE on the original farm110 had died elsewhere or had been slaughteredSix had been exported to the United States for slaughterFour were untraceable because of missing recordsOne had tested negative for BSE in November 2004 as a result of routine BSE surveillanceIn describing any health risk related to the cow’s birth cohort as low, the CFIA said, “The prevalence of BSE in North America is low and the vast majority of cattle slaughtered in Canada are young cows, considerably less likely to develop infective levels of the disease. All cattle exhibiting symptoms consistent with BSE have been, and continue to be, diverted from the food system.”The agency also said, “Finding more than one case of BSE in a birth cohort is rare. This has been consistently shown internationally, even in the United Kingdom during the height of their BSE epidemic. It has also been demonstrated in all investigations completed to date in North America.”The infected cow had had calves in 2003 and 2004, and the investigation determined that both had died of causes unrelated to BSE, the CFIA said.The agency also concluded that the amount of BSE infectivity in the feed the cow consumed was probably very small, because the cow didn’t become visibly ill until it was 8 years old. A long incubation time implies that the dose of infective material was small, the statement indicated.Concerning the third BSE case, the CFIA said on Jan 21 that 33 cattle from the infected cow’s birth cohort had been tested and found to be free of BSE. The animal was an Alberta beef cow just under 7 years old.The agency said it had begun reviewing Canada’s feed controls and would report the results by the end of February. It also said the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Food and Drug Administration planned to review Canada’s feed controls starting this week. The two reviews would, “where practical, proceed in concert,” but are not explicitly linked, the agency said.The USDA so far has stood by its plan to reopen the US border to live Canadian cattle in March. The agency banned the importation of live Canadian cattle when the first Canadian BSE case was discovered in May 2003. The two latest cases in Canada emerged shortly after the USDA announced the reopening plan, and some groups have called on the agency to postpone the move. The plan is to admit cattle that are under 30 months old and destined for slaughter before they reach that age.last_img read more

Afghanistan confirms new H5N1 outbreaks

first_imgFeb 23, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Afghanistan confirmed yesterday that poultry deaths at two farms in the eastern part of the country were caused by highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza.The outbreak killed 73 backyard poultry, including turkeys, the country’s veterinary chief wrote in a report submitted yesterday to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The affected farms were in Nangahar and Kunar provinces, about 100 miles from Kabul, the capital. The OIE report said the outbreak began Feb 12.Afghanistan’s last confirmed outbreak occurred in April 2006; the country has reported no human H5N1 cases.Meanwhile, in Russia H5N1 avian influenza has been detected in birds in more Moscow districts, bringing the total to eight, according to an Associated Press (AP) report published yesterday. The report quoted Nikolai Vlasov, head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s agricultural oversight agency.Vlasov said increased awareness about bird flu had produced a rush of calls from people reporting bird deaths.Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said on Feb 21 that at least 333 domestic birds had died since Feb 9 and that 1,833 more had been culled at eight locations outside Moscow, the AP report said.In other avian flu news, European Union member states plus Iceland and Norway are 2 to 3 years away from being prepared for an influenza pandemic, according to a 39-page report released yesterday by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).ECDC Director Zsuzsanna Jakab said in a press release that health authorities in the EU have put major efforts into pandemic preparations since 2005. “This has been an almost unprecedented response to a threat that has yet to come,” she said.The member countries’ pandemic preparation accomplishments, according to the report’s executive summary, include producing and beginning to implement national preparedness plans and investing in influenza research. Some countries are building stockpiles of antiviral medications, and most have systems in place to detect and investigate initial cases of pandemic flu.In addition, the EU and the World Health Organization (WHO) have collaborated on pandemic preparedness workshops and on standardizing methods of assessing preparedness. Also, the EU conducted a pandemic simulation exercise involving all members in November 2005.The ECDC identified five key challenges for the years ahead, according to the report. They include integrating planning within countries, making national plans operational at the local level, coordinating plans between countries, improving prevention of seasonal flu, and expanding flu research from basic science into areas such as seasonal flu prevention and vaccine development.”The challenge now is for governments and EU bodies to sustain the momentum for a further two or three years, to do the work identified in this report,” Jakab said. “If this is done, then EU countries will be in a position to respond well to a pandemic.”See also:OIE reports on Afghani outbreakFeb 22 ECDC press release read more

Seesaw your way through ambivalence

first_img(CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing) – Most people think about possible future pandemics—when they think about them at all—with a good deal of ambivalence. To communicate with ambivalent people, you need to understand the ‘risk communication seesaw.’Whenever people are ambivalent about something, communication happens as if on a seesaw.Suppose I am simultaneously drawn to two beliefs, “X” and “Y,” even though they are somewhat incompatible. I can’t decide which side to come down on. Then you come along and insist on X. Immediately I start focusing on Y. I let you represent the X half of my ambivalence while I stand tall for the Y half—and at least for the moment I stop feeling ambivalent.Ambivalent people, in other words, tend to have a paradoxical response to other people’s opinions. If I have no strong opinion on X versus Y, I’m likely to accept yours. If I have one strong opinion, either X or Y, I’m likely to stick to it regardless of what you say. But if I have two strong opinions fighting it out inside my head, I’ll probably lean toward the one you’re neglecting.Think of it as a seesaw. Once they have adopted this seesaw response, ambivalent people do what they have to do to keep the seesaw balanced. If you say X, I’ll go for Y. If you say Y, I’ll pick X. If your position is halfway between X and the fulcrum, I’ll sit halfway between Y and the fulcrum. If you move closer to the fulcrum from your side, I’ll move closer from my side. If you move out toward your edge, I’ll move out toward mine.People are very likely to be ambivalent about the risk of a pandemic. So when you’re talking to them about a possible pandemic, it helps to know how to manage the seesaw.The most fundamental pandemic-related seesaw is alarm versus reassurance. When the next pandemic arrives, will it be mild or severe? Before it happens, should I be complacent or should I start seriously preparing?If your pre-pandemic communications are overly reassuring, ambivalent people will have the predictable paradoxical response: They’ll get more frightened (and they’ll lose faith in you). If your communications sound too alarmist, on the other hand, your stakeholders may end up contemptuous of the issue (and of you) and unwilling to take precautions.Two strategies to tryRight now, while you’re trying to arouse concern, you have two good communication strategies at your disposal.The first strategy is to say very scary things a little too calmly. Remember, you’re trying to alert people. You want to motivate them to take precautions and to support the precautions you’re proposing to take. So you need to tell them scary things. But your audience is ambivalent about the pandemic risk. If you tell them scary things in an overemphatic, overinsistent, haranguing tone, they’re all too likely to decide that you’re just an alarmist with a pandemic obsession. So you know you have to locate yourself somewhere on the calm side of the seesaw.In a nutshell: Give people the information they need to get more alarmed than you sound, so they conclude that you’re not taking the pandemic risk quite as seriously as you should.This strategy is fundamental to your seesaw dialogue with senior management. You’re much better off if your boss keeps urging you to do more than if you’re constantly urging your boss to let you do more. But it’s also a crucial strategy for talking to employees, to customers, and to acquaintances at parties.The second good pre-pandemic seesaw strategy is to balance on the fulcrum, to encourage your stakeholders to share the planning dilemma with you. In a May 2005 speech, for example, Australia’s Tony Abbott, Minister for Health and Ageing, said: “If a deadly flu pandemic ever seems imminent, no preparations will be enough. But if the current bird flu outbreaks in Asia gradually subside, the government’s investment in a stockpile [that is] likely to be time-expired in 5 years will be the health equivalent of a redundant weapons system.”Adjusting your locationLater, after your stakeholders are more concerned, you may want to relocate on the seesaw.For example, suppose a pandemic strikes but it looks like it’s going to be a mild one. You may need to keep people calm by giving them reassuring information. But your seesaw management expertise tells you that it would be a mistake to come across as too unworried. That would leave people alone with their worries. Instead of reassuring them, it could actually alarm them further.That’s the mistake Christine Todd Whitman made on Sep 18, 2001, one week after the 9/11 attacks. In her role as administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, she wanted to help people who lived or worked near ground zero feel that they could safely resume their lives. So she announced: “I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, DC, that their air is safe to breathe…”Two years later, the EPA inspector general criticized this statement as excessively reassuring, given the information available at the time it was issued. In reality, it wasn’t reassuring at all, though clearly it was meant to be. In real time, New Yorkers responded to Whitman’s over-reassurance by becoming more alarmed about air quality.The seesaw-savvy solution when you want to reassure: Give people reassuring information—but do so while sounding not very reassured yourself. Give them the information they need to conclude that you’re overreacting a little. Obviously, this is exactly the opposite of my advice when you’re trying to raise some alarm. It’s the same seesaw, but you’re picking a different seat.Lessons from a nuclear accidentIn the days after the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear power plan accident, for example, the Pennsylvania Department of Health was worried that radioactive iodine-131 (I-131) from the accident might contaminate local milk. In a series of news releases, the department kept saying that it was testing local milk for I-131 and so far the milk was clean, but it was still worried about possible future contamination and urged the public to avoid local milk for a bit longer. By the time the health department finally concluded that the local milk posed no I-131 risk, the public had long since reached the same conclusion. People were calmly waiting for worrywart health officials to catch up.Alarm versus reassurance isn’t the only pandemic-related seesaw. I’ll talk about some others in my next column.An internationally renowned expert in risk communication and crisis communication, Peter Sandman speaks and consults widely on communication aspects of pandemic preparedness. Dr. Sandman, Deputy Editor, contributes an original column to CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing every other week. Most of his risk communication writing is available without charge at the Peter Sandman Risk Communication Web Site, which includes an index of pandemic-related writing on the site.last_img read more