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Thu, 29 Oct 2020
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Don't believe the polls - Trump is 'winning bigly'

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump
We predict that President Trump is going to win the 2020 presidential election — and win big.

While the majority of the polls suggest that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading, or at best that it's close, those polls suffer from at least three problems.

First, the tone of the questions. There is significant evidence from behavioral psychology that suggests that the way a question is framed predetermines the range of potential answers. In fact, Gallup has found that respondents can answer very differently to questions with the same topic even in the same survey based on the language that's used. And the use of metaphors can even dwarf the importance of preexisting differences between Republicans and Democrats.

One of the reasons respondents do that is because of a tendency to give socially desirable answers, which was the case especially during the 2016 election. Most people don't like confrontation, so the easiest, albeit not necessarily the best, solution is to avoid it. Right now, saying that you're voting for Trump/Pence is often not the socially desirable answer. In fact, a recent poll by the Cato Institute suggests that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that the political climate is sufficiently harsh that they don't want to give their genuine opinion about politics.

Arrow Down

China's top censor orders another crackdown on dissent

cellphone censorship
© Bitter Winter
While Facebook readies emergency measures to halt the spread of viral election day misinformation, contributing to a bout of social media hysteria that is starting to feel vaguely reminiscent of the perturbation that preceded Y2K, the censors over in Beijing are as busy as ever.

Reuters reports that China's "top cyber authority" has declared that it will carry out a "rectification" of China's mobile internet browsers. The campaign is a response to concerns about "chaos" in terms of information being shared online.

Doesn't sound too different from what's happening over at Twitter and Facebook. But we digress.

Anyway, the Cyberspace Administration of China, or CAC - the regulator in question - has told mobile browser owners that they have until Nov. 9 to finish a "self examination" (sounds fun) and rectify any previously unaddressed "problems."


Flu vaccine deaths: South Korea scrambles to control panic, says any link is 'coincidental'

flu shot
© Reuters
Flu shot administered in a hospital in Seoul.
Numbers plummet with public concern following a number of deaths.
South Korean officials are scrambling to contain widespread public panic sparked by news reports of deaths thought to be linked to influenza vaccines, with President Moon Jae-in urging calm and saying any link was merely coincidental.

Over the past two weeks, 59 post-vaccination deaths have been reported, mostly involving those in their 60s or older with pre-existing health conditions.

Alarmist news headlines since the first death was reported on October 16 have deterred many people from getting vaccinated, and the Korea Medical Association recommended a temporary suspension of the flu shots.

Comment: See also:


Wales bans smoking in playgrounds, school grounds and hospitals

Smoking ban in Wales
© Getty Images
A ban on smoking in playgrounds, school grounds and hospital sites in Wales will begin next March.

Councils will have powers to issue fixed-penalty notices for breaches of the law, the Welsh Government said.

It means smokers at hospital will need to leave the grounds to have a cigarette. Smoking rooms in hotels will also be banned in 2022.

Senedd members backed the measure in a vote on Tuesday night, with 45 politicians voting for the regulations.

The law makes Wales the first country in the UK to ban smoking in playgrounds and school grounds.


Anti-cop protesters leave trail of destruction in Downtown Brooklyn

vandalized Bank of America Brooklyn anti-cop protest
© Kenneth Bachor/NY Post
A vandalized Bank of America at Court Street and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn
Dozens of marching protesters were arrested in Brooklyn on Tuesday night after clashing with NYPD cops and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake in response to the Philadelphia police shooting death of an armed black man.

About 200 protesters met in Fort Greene Park before snaking their way through the streets, vandalizing police vehicles, torching an American flag and igniting at least one rubbish fire during their travels, according to footage posted to social media by video journalist Issa Khari.

"Burn the precinct to the ground, every city, every town!" the group, mainly clad in black, chanted as they marched near Boerum Place and Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

Near Willoughby and Jay streets, several protesters chucked rocks and bottles at police officers, sources said. Others in the group wielded pieces of wood.

Nearby, a man in the crowd stole a pumpkin off the steps of a brownstone and hurled it at a car windshield.


Female prisoner suing UK govt after claiming sexual assault by transgender inmate

prison security cameras
© Reuters / Darren Staples
A female prisoner is suing the UK government in an effort to ban some trans women from all-female prisons, after claiming she was sexually assaulted by a biologically male inmate who had not undergone gender reassignment surgery.

A judicial review of the lawsuit, launched on Wednesday, will last about two days, and could overturn the government policy allowing biological men to be housed in women's prisons if they have procured a gender recognition certificate.

Before being placed in the Downview women's prison in Surrey, the alleged attacker was previously convicted of rape as a man, according to Keep Prisons Single Sex, a campaigning group supporting the claimant. Despite the past conviction, the trans woman was still placed in an all-female environment.

The legal action will specifically challenge the lawfulness of placing transgender women who have been convicted of sexual and violent offences in women's prisons.

Eye 2

US sex cult leader Keith Raniere receives 120-year sentence

Keith Raniere court room sketch
© Reuters
A courtroom sketch shows Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere during his sentencing hearing at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in New York, on Oct 27, 2020
A "self-help" guru convicted of running a cult-like organisation of sex slaves who were branded with his initials was sentenced to 120 years in prison by a New York judge Tuesday (Oct 27).

The effective life sentence for Keith Raniere, 60, comes after he was found guilty of coercing women into having sex with him as the charismatic leader of Nxivm, a life-coaching group that attracted a coterie of rich and famous devotees.

Followers signed up for US$5,000, five-day self-help courses, but some were then financially and sexually exploited and forced to follow a restrictive diet, as Raniere - known as "Vanguard" - exerted control, his six-week trial heard.

He established a faction within the group called DOS, a pyramid structure in which the women were "slaves" and "Grand Master" Raniere sat at the top.



'Violent' riots 'with looting' erupt in Philadelphia after police shooting - father speaks out to ask for end to of rioting

riots philadelphia october 2020
© Gabriella Audi/AFP via Getty Images
Philadelphia erupted in riots after the shooting of Walter Wallace
Widespread rioting and looting rocked Philadelphia on Tuesday after police shot a man earlier this week who allegedly approached them while carrying a knife and did not obey orders to drop the weapon.

CBS Philadelphia reporter Joe Holden reported that law enforcement officials said the situation that unfolded last week was a "total loss" and had "rapidly gone downhill."

Comment: The elevation of a black man to the status of martyr, who was brandishing a weapon and then shot by police:
Philadelphia Police Sergeant Eric Gripp told the media that the officers were called to a home for a man with a weapon. Once they arrived at the scene, they were met by Wallace Jr., who was brandishing a knife. The man ignored the officers' orders to drop the weapon and "continued to follow them around several vehicles that are over there," Gripp said.

A graphic video posted on social media shows Wallace Jr. quickly walking towards two officers while a woman, identified in the media as his mother, tries to stop him. The officers shout "Put the knife down!" before firing multiple shots at the man, who immediately falls to the ground and remains motionless.

An attorney representing Wallace Jr.'s family said Tuesday that before the encounter, they called for an ambulance because he was having a mental health crisis.
The National Guard was called out to quell the violence:
Governor Tom Wolf directed the state's National Guard to deploy to assist local law enforcement "in protecting life, property and the right to peacefully assemble and protest," public affairs officer Lieutenant Colonel Keith Hickox said in a statement, giving no specifics for the number of troops mobilized.

The deployment comes after a chaotic night of protests and rioting in Philadelphia over the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old black man officers claim was armed during the encounter. The ensuing unrest saw looting, vandalism - including a wave of ATM bombings - clashes with law enforcement that left dozens of officers injured and acts of arson around the city, which continued into Tuesday morning.

"We were hoping that we won't have any repeat of what we've seen last night and we're taking every precaution that we can," Philadelphia's Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney said after the Guard deployment was announced.

While police commissioner Danielle Outlaw warned of "additional incidents of civil unrest" by Tuesday night, Hickox said the Guard troops would arrive in the city in the next 24 to 48 hours, suggesting the deployment may not arrive in time to preempt a second round of rioting.

Outlaw said police were staging at "key locations" around the city to respond to any reports of violence. Aerial footage taken on Tuesday afternoon showed a heavy police presence in one intersection, with many officers clad in riot helmets.
The father of the shooting victim, Walter Wallace, Sr., has called for a halt to the riots:
The father of a man killed by Philadelphia police officers on Tuesday made an appeal for an easing of tensions amid the second night of protests sparked by his son's death.

"I don't condone no violence — tearing up the city, looting in the stores — and all this chaos," Walter Wallace Sr. said on Tuesday. "I need everybody to have respect for my family and my son to stop this violence and chaos."

The elder Wallace then pleaded for justice for his son and urged protesters to come together instead of harming the family.

"People have businesses and we all got to eat ... So, why would we hurt the resources that we have in our community instead of binding together?" he said. "It's an SOS to help not to hurt and cause no chaos — violence, looting, fires — because I wasn't brought up like that."

Chart Pie

UK: Nine in ten police forces haven't fined anyone for breaking Covid face mask laws

UK police face masks
© European Press Agency
Police forces are failing to hand out penalties for not wearing face coverings with 90 per cent not issuing a single one since masks were made compulsory in shops and indoor locations, it has been revealed.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced plans three months ago to make face coverings mandatory in shops and supermarkets from July 24.

It became mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport from June 15 and he also announced masks would have to be worn at various indoor settings.

The police and Transport for London officers were told they have the powers to enforce fines of £200, which would be reduced if paid within 14 days, for the first offence, with repeat offenders seeing their fine doubled at each offence.


Indian pharmaceutical company set to test Russian Covid-19 vaccine reports cyberattack

Covid 19 vaccine
© Sputnik/Vladimir Pesnya
The Dr Reddy's Laboratories pharmaceutical company, which was just given a green light to begin trials of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 in India, said on Wednesday that its IT systems had been attacked by hackers earlier in the month, possibly resulting in a breach of personal data.

"On 22nd October 2020, we experienced an information security incident and consequently isolated the impacted IT services. This incident involved a ransomware attack. We promptly engaged leading outside cybersecurity experts, launched a comprehensive containment and remediation effort and investigation to address the incident," the company said in a report on its latest consolidated financial results.

The company's internal investigation has not yet established if the breach of data due to the cyberattack included any personally identifiable information, according to the report.