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15 Central Albertans in hospital – COVID19 Update from Mike York

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The Central Zone has had an increase of 68 active cases. In conjunction with 27 new recoveries from the virus, there are now 604 active cases in total. (41 more than 24 hrs. ago)
Now 15 people are in hospital, (3 more than yesterday) none of these people are currently in ICU.
In the city of Red Deer, 4 new cases and 10 recoveries since yesterdays report. We therefore have a decrease of 6 active cases in the city leaving us currently at 112 active cases.
Have a great weekend, keep up the good work in Red Deer folks!

-Moved to Red Deer in the fall of 1972. -Worked with developmentally challenged at Michener Centre for 11 years. -Part of the business community for 30 years running restaurants, and courier services. -Father of 4 children -Currently work at Leon's Furniture in Red Deer (6 years)

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COVID-19

House COVID Committee Confirms What We Have Long Suspected — The Feds Really Hate Transparency

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By ADAM ANDRZEJEWSKI

 

Last week details emerged from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, confirming what government transparency advocates long suspected: Federal bureaucrats are purposefully stonewalling the American people’s right to know about their government.

Republican Kentucky Rep. James Comer, who chairs the full House Oversight and Accountability Committee, read from an email that Dr. David Morens, a top aide to Dr. Anthony Fauci, sent claiming that a staffer inside the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had shown him how to erase records requested by the public.

He was corresponding with Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, the organization that used tax dollars to fund controversial gain-of-function research in Wuhan, where the COVID outbreak began. The Department of Health and Human Services has since suspended funding of EcoHealth Alliance.

Morens wrote: “I learned from our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) lady here how to make emails disappear after I am FOIA’d, but before the search starts. So, I think we are all safe. Plus, I deleted most of those earlier emails after sending them to Gmail.”

The implications for government transparency are enormous. How often do NIH staffers conceal what they do with our tax dollars? Why did a FOIA officer feel empowered to assist subjects of FOIA requests? How else do FOIA offers interfere with these requests? Has this behavior spread to the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies?

Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com can speak to the problem. We have spent years — and gone to court — to force NIH to reveal the royalties paid to government scientists through medical innovation licensing.

When Americans are considering a drug or therapeutic recommended by public health officials, they deserve to understand all the financial stakes at play. Were any decision makers receiving payments? Were they continuing more lucrative research at the expense of other public health solutions?

For many, the question looming largest has been whether the relentless COVID vaccine push was driven by a potential windfall for NIH and certain scientists there.

When we first filed a FOIA, the agency ignored us and then refused to release the information.

After suing, NIH was required to release the information and began doing so incrementally due to the high volume of data. Tallied from 2009 through 2020, it amounted to an enormous sum–over $325 million paid by private companies to NIH and its scientists over 56,000 transactions.

Previously, we’d also discovered that Dr. Fauci, the face of the nation’s COVID response, was the highest compensated bureaucrat in the country. He out-earned President Biden. He out-earned his own boss, then-Acting NIH Director Lawrence Tabak.

Along with Fauci, who scoffed at concerns about royalty payments, Tabak faced questions from Congress.

In a March 2023 budget hearing, Rep. John Moolenaar told Tabak an obvious truth: every single, secret royalty payment represents a potential conflict of interest.

“To me, one of the biggest concerns people had during this last couple years is: Were they getting truthful information from their government? Could they trust what people were saying about the medicines? To me, that creates a very disturbing appearance.”

“The idea that people were getting a financial benefit from certain research that was done and grants that were awarded, that to me is the height of the appearance of a conflict of interest,” Moolenaar concluded.

The lawmaker urged NIH to make the money trail more transparent.

It was Tabak in the hot seat again last week, as Comer recited Morens’ outrageous email message.

Was the behavior he described consistent with NIH policy, Comer asked? “It is not,” Tabak responded flatly.

Did the FOIA team at NIH help its colleagues avoid transparency? “I certainly hope not,” Tabak offered.

Hope doesn’t suffice in this situation. It demands that lawmakers strengthen transparency law, update it for the 21st century and create some consequences for bad actors.

There are a few primary ways bureaucrats and decisionmakers violate the spirit of the law.

First, they overuse a series of exemptions designed to protect national security secrets or privacy laws. Too much is omitted through these exceptions; the American people deserve the full truth.

When documents are produced, they’re too often rendered useless through excessive redactions. We’re still fighting in real time to get more pieces of the royalty puzzle revealed.

Next, unreasonable delays are blamed on staffing levels, while many FOIA-related roles sit open. Agencies must prioritize filling those seats and Congress should appropriate more of them as needed.

Finally, we have the behavior Morens describes. A post facto effort to simply abscond with the information. It’s not just a policy violation but an affront to the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act. What consequences do these staffers ever truly face?

Until we get serious about protecting transparency, “FOIA lady” will be a duly anonymous symbol of what many have suspected: government employees hustling to cover their tracks.

Adam Andrzejewski is founder & CEO of OpenTheBooks.com, the nation’s largest private database of public spending.

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Fauci’s Top Advisor May Have Illegally Evaded Records Requests, Experts Say

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By ROBERT SCHMAD

 

“These revelations are startling,” Judicial Watch senior attorney Michael Bekesha told the DCNF. ” It appears as though Dr. Morens and maybe others at NIH sought to circumvent, if not violate, the law by using personal email accounts and deleting emails.”

A top advisor for former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci may have illegally taken actions to avoid records requests, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

David Morens, a former senior adviser to Fauci, both deleted emails to evade Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and told people multiple times to contact him at his personal email address to get around such requests, according to emails released by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. Morens, in his emails, also suggested that Fauci used his private email address to conduct government business.

“This is very illegal,” Matthew Hardin, a lawyer specializing in issues related to FOIA, told the DCNF.

“The Federal Records Act has strict requirements for preserving agency records in the agency’s custody for various reasons, including for purposes of facilitating the agency’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act,” he continued. “This means that anybody conducting agency business through a ‘secret’ back channel or through Gmail is still creating a federal record, even if they are wrongfully concealing that record on a personal account instead of the government’s custody.”

In addition to using his private email address to communicate with others with the express purpose of getting around FOIA requests, Morens instructed others to reach Fauci at a private address for similar reasons.

In an April 2021 email to Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, Morens said that there is “no worry about FOIAs” as he can “either send stuff to Tony [Fauci] on his private email, or hand it to him at work or at his house.”

“He is too smart to let his colleagues send him stuff that could cause trouble,” Morens continued.

“These revelations are startling,” Judicial Watch senior attorney Michael Bekesha told the DCNF. ” It appears as though Dr. Morens and maybe others at NIH sought to circumvent, if not violate, the law by using personal email accounts and deleting emails.”

Bekesha said Morens’ conduct could run afoul of the Federal Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Daszak’s EcoHealth has received scrutiny for working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which some have posited was where the COVID-19 pandemic originated. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Energy now both believe that COVID-19 likely emerged from a Chinese lab. EcoHealth was cut off from federal funding on May 15 in part due to issues with its monitoring of work done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

 

Beyond using personal emails to evade possible FOIA requests, Morens also said that he worked with his agency’s FOIA office to delete records of his communications.

“[I] learned from our foia [sic] lady here how to make emails disappear after I am foia’d [sic] but before the search starts, so [I] think we are all safe,” Morens wrote in a February 2021 email. “Plus [I] deleted most of those earlier after sending them to gmail [sic],” he continued.

Morens sent multiple emails between June 2020 and October 2021 suggesting that he’d deleted his government communications. “We are all smart enough to know to never have smoking guns, and if we did we wouldn’t put them in emails and if we found them we’d delete them,” he said in one email.

“The right of citizen access and the transparency of public records is constitutional and enshrined in Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution—within the powerful Appropriations clause,” Open The Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski told the DCNF. “Such an important and significant admission of the destruction of public records begs a non-partisan, criminal investigation,” he continued.

“The question now is how often are the feds working to hide or destroy information that belongs in the public record? Is it limited to the public health complex, or is it happening all over the government?”

If Morens deleted his emails to evade FOIA, Hardin says that could constitute “destroy[ing] government property.”

Michael Chamberlin, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, told the DCNF that “federal employees are obligated to preserve federal records” and that “destroying records for the express purpose of evading FOIA is a blatant and egregious violation of this obligation and should be treated as such.”

Morens also claimed to have a “‘secret’ back channel” to Fauci, a statement he walked back during congressional testimony on Wednesday by saying that he was only joking. Morens said during his testimony he did not recall sending information related to COVID-19 to Fauci’s personal email address, but that it’s possible he did so at some point.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which the NIAID operates within, declined to comment on the specifics of Morens’ emails.

“HHS doesn’t comment on personnel matters,” a spokesperson for the department said. “HHS is committed to the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act and adherence to Federal records management requirements. It is HHS policy that all personnel conducting business for, and on behalf of, HHS refrain from using personal email accounts to conduct HHS business,” they continued.

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