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The Pronk Pops Show 1389, January 31, 2020, Story 1: United States Declares Public Health Emergency for Novel Coronavirus (2019 n Cov) Not Spreading In United States — The Real Threat is Influenza Type B Epidemic Becomes Pandemic –10,000 Plus Americans Have Already Died From Flu in 2019 — Videos — Story 2: World Health Organization Declares Global Health Emergency for Coronvirus — Videos — Story 3: Airlines Ban Flights To and From China — Videos — Story 4: Senate Votes 51 to 49 to Reject Calls For New Witnesses and Documents in Trump Impeachment Trial — Senate Expected To Vote For Trump Acquittal Wednesday, 5 February — Videos

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Story 1: United States Declares Public Health Emergency for Novel Coronavirus (2019 n Cov) — The Real Threat in Influenza Type B Epidemic Becomes Pandemic — Videos — 

Wuflu Live

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Things You Should Know About the Novel Coronavirus

China Is “The Central Threat”: Pompeo | Coronavirus Doctors Targeted!

Death toll continues to rise in China as countries scramble to tackle coronavirus outbreak

11 confirmed US coronavirus cases, experts warn of pandemic | ABC News

Coronavirus Outbreak: Interview with Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Health

Coronavirus: Death toll rises as virus spreads to every Chinese region – BBC News

China’s coronavirus cases now outnumber its cases of SARS

U.S. to officially declare ‘public health emergency’ for novel coronavirus

Why The White House Just Declared A National Health Emergency

‘We’re basically at a pandemic now’: Mayo Clinic physician on coronavirus

Coronavirus Continues Spreading Fast — How Bad Will It Get?

Flu season: Nearly 10 million sickened so far

Powerful flu strain leading to spike in children’s deaths

4-year-old loses vision in fight with the flu l ABC News

Public Health Response to Severe Influenza

Jan 23, 2018

Spanish Flu: a warning from history

100 years ago, celebrations marking the end of the First World War were cut short by the onslaught of a devastating disease – the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Its early origins and initial geographical starting point still remain a mystery but in the Summer of 1918, there was a second wave of a far more virulent form of the influenza virus than anyone could have anticipated. Soon dubbed ‘Spanish Flu’ after its effects were reported in the country’s newspapers, the virus rapidly spread across much of the globe to become one of the worst natural disasters in human history. To mark the centenary and to highlight vital scientific research, the University of Cambridge has made a new film exploring what we have learnt about Spanish Flu, the urgent threat posed by influenza today, and how scientists are preparing for future pandemics.

PrepTalks: John M. Barry “The Next Pandemic: Lessons from History”

Interview – John M. Barry – The Great Influenza

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John Barry: The Pandemic Risk

1918 Flu Pandemic

1918 Spanish Flu historical documentary | Swine Flu Pandemic | Deadly plague of 1918

The 1918 Pandemic: The Deadliest Flu in History

 

US bars foreigners coming from China for now over virus fear

The United States on Friday declared a public health emergency and took drastic steps to significantly restrict entry into the country because of a new virus that hit China and has spread to other nations.

President Donald Trump has signed an order that will temporarily bar foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days. The new restrictions, which take effect at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, were announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who is coordinating the U.S. response.

“It is likely that we will continue to see more cases in the United States in the coming days and weeks, including some limited person-to-person transmissions,” Azar said. “The American public can be assured the full weight of the U.S. government is working to safeguard the health and safety of the American people.”

Americans returning from China will be allowed into the country, but will face screening at select ports of entry and required to undertake 14 days of self-screening to ensure they don’t pose a health risk. Those returning from Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

Beginning Sunday, the U.S. will also begin funneling all flights to the U.S. from China to seven major airports where passengers can be screened for illness.

The virus has infected almost 10,000 people globally in just two months, a troublesome sign that prompted the World Health Organization to declare the outbreak a global emergency. The death toll stood at 213, including 43 new fatalities, all in China.

A public health emergency in the U.S. allows the government to tap additional resources to send to states, such as emergency funding and if necessary drugs or equipment from the national stockpile, and to suspend certain legal requirements.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that while the risk in the U.S. is low, “I want to emphasize that this is a significant global situation and it continues to evolve.”

There are seven cases of this virus in the U.S. and all were travelers except for a Chicago man who caught it from his wife, who had been in China.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious diseases chief at the National Institutes of Health, said one reason the U.S. stepped up its quarantine measures was an alarming report from Germany that a traveler from China had spread the virus despite showing no symptoms. Fauci contrasted it with the response to recent outbreaks of Ebola, which can’t be spread unless someone is very ill.

At the same time, federal health authorities were recognizing that the test they’re using to detect the virus isn’t always dependable. Redfield said when it was used on some of the people currently in isolation, they’d test positive one day and negative another.

Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University expert on public health law, said putting a large number of people under quarantine “is virtually unprecedented in modern American history.”

Declaring a public health emergency “gives HHS added powers, and is warranted. Quarantine of those returning from Hubei is also reasonable given the high risk of exposure to coronavirus in that province,” he said.

He did note that travelers from other parts of China don’t pose as high a risk. “We need to use the least restrictive measure necessary to safeguard the population,” Gostin said.

Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun offered America’s “deepest compassion” to the Chinese, noting that the deadly outbreak came during the peak of their holiday season, when everyone would ordinarily be celebrating and not living in fear of contracting the virus.

Biegun said the U.S. is working hard to find donors of supplies and making arrangements for a “robust effort to help the Chinese people get their arms around this outbreak.”

The announcement came hours after the State Department issued a level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory, the highest grade of warning, and told Americans in China to consider departing using commercial means. “Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the advisory said.

Hours later, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines announced they were suspending all flights between the U.S. and China, joining several international carriers that have stopped flying to China as the virus outbreak continues to spread.

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials issued a two-week quarantine order for the 195 Americans evacuated earlier this week from the Chinese city of Wuhan, provincial capital of Hubei province. It was the first time a federal quarantine has been ordered since the 1960s, when one was enacted over concern about the potential spread of smallpox, the CDC said.

None of the Americans being housed at a Southern California military base has shown signs of illness, but infected people don’t show symptoms immediately and may be able to pass on the virus before they appear sick.

One of the evacuees, Matthew L. McCoy, a theme park designer who lives in China, said the group was very relieved by the quarantine order.

“All of us really want to stay here and make sure we’re all medically clear and the public safe,” he said from the military base.

China counted 9,692 confirmed cases Friday, the vast majority in Hubei province.

The National Health Commission reported 171 cases of people who have been “cured and discharged from hospital.” WHO has said most people who got the illness had milder cases, though 20% experienced severe symptoms. Symptoms include fever and cough, and in severe cases, shortness of breath and pneumonia.

China has placed more than 50 million people in the region under virtual quarantine.

American Airlines said it was halting all flights starting Friday and running through March 27. Delta plans to wait until Feb. 6 to suspend China operations to help travelers in China leave the country. It said the stoppage will continue through April 30. United Airlines announced that it will suspend flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu but continue flights to Hong Kong.

The U.S. screening airports are John F. Kennedy International in New York, San Francisco International in California, Seattle-Tacoma International in Washington, O’Hare International in Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International in Georgia, and Daniel K. Inouye International in Hawaii.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average skidded more than 600 points Friday as the outbreak continued to widen, stoking fears that the travel restrictions and other uncertainties caused by the health emergency in the world’s second-largest economy could dent global growth.

Since China informed WHO about the new virus in late December, at least 23 countries have reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading among people in China, and WHO noted with its emergency declaration Thursday it was especially concerned that some cases abroad also involved human-to-human transmission. It defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that poses a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. “Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”

A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. The announcement also imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries.

The last time the U.S. government ordered a quarantine was in 1963 when a woman named Ellen Siegel was held in quarantine for up to 14 days because she did not present a valid certificate of vaccination against small pox. Siegel had visited Sweden when it still had a case of smallpox and although she had been revaccinated about two months earlier, the vaccination was said to be unsuccessful.

On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it was authorizing the departure of family members and all non-emergency U.S. government employees from Beijing and the consulates in the cities of Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang. Staff from the Wuhan consulate departed earlier this week.

The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution related to logistical disruptions stemming from restricted transportation and availability of appropriate health care,” the embassy said.

Mike Wester, a businessman in Beijing who has lived in China for 19 years, said he has no plans to leave.

“I feel safer self-quarantining myself here at home than I do risking travel,” Wester said.

He pointed to potential risks from crowds at airports and being required to remove a mask for passport and security checks.

Japan and Germany also advised against non-essential travel and Britain did as well, except for Hong Kong and Macao. Popular holiday and shopping destination Singapore barred Chinese from traveling there, becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to do so.

Tedros said WHO was not recommending limiting travel or trade to China.

“There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” he said. He added that Chinese President Xi Jinping had committed to help stop the spread of the virus beyond its borders.

Although scientists expect to see limited transmission of the virus between people with close contact, like within families, the instances of spread to people who may have had less exposure to the virus is worrying.

In Japan, a tour guide and bus driver became infected after escorting two tour groups from Wuhan. In Germany, five employees of a German auto parts supplier became ill after a Chinese colleague visited, including two who had no direct contact with the woman, who showed no symptoms of the virus until her flight back to China. On Friday, Germany confirmed a sixth case, a child of one of the people already infected.

“That’s the kind of transmission chain that we don’t want to see,” said Marion Koopmans, an infectious diseases specialist at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands and a member of WHO’s emergency committee.

The new virus has now infected more people globally than were sickened during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus. Both are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that can cause the common cold.

https://apnews.com/9e22f8aabe2f454593b9f9b4c67eb31f

Coronavirus 2020 Outbreak: Latest Updates

photo of coronavirus

This article was last updated on Jan. 31, 2020.Jan. 24, 2020 — News about the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, is changing rapidly. The respiratory infection, which is closely related to SARS and MERS, has been spreading across China, and cases have been diagnosed in several other countries, including the United States. We’ll provide the latest updates on cases, deaths, travel restrictions, and more here.

What is the latest news?

Foreigners who have traveled to China in the past two weeks will be barred from entering the United States, the government said Friday, as the White House declared a national public health emergency over the new coronavirus.

As part of that proclamation, any citizen returning to the U.S. who have been to Hubei province in China in the past 14 days will be under mandatory quarantine for 14 days, which is thought to be the incubation period for the virus. Any citizen who’s been to the rest of China within the past 2 weeks will get a health screening when they get back to the U.S. They’ll then be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Their movements will be monitored.

These restrictions take effect beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday.

“The actions we have taken and continue to take compliment the work of China and the World Health Organization to contain the outbreak within China,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

“This is a significant global situation, but I want to emphasize at this time that the risk to the American public is low,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the strict precautions are warranted because of “the issue now with this is that there are a lot of unknowns.”

He pointed out that the number of cases “has steeply inclined each and every day.”

We now know for certain that a person without symptoms can transmit the disease, Fauci said.

A new case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, describes how a woman from China infected 4 co-workers at a German company before she showed any symptoms of the disease herself.

The U.S. measures follows the WHO’s declaration on Thursday that the 2019-nCoV outbreak is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC and come the same day the CDC issued federal quarantine orders for all 195 U.S. citizens who recently returned to the U.S. after living in China. The quarantine will last 14 days from the date the plane left Wuhan.These are the first federal quarantine orders issued in 50 years, the last coming in the 1960s for smallpox evaluations, CDC officials said.The CDC’s move follows a quarantine issued by Riverside County, CA, after one of the passengers tried to leave March Air Reserve Base Wednesday morning without being cleared by health officials.“This legal order is part of an aggressive public health response, the goal of which is to prevent, as much as possible, community spread of this novel virus in the United States,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.”If we take strong measures now, we may be able to blunt the impact of the virus on the United States,” she said.Better to over-prepare, she said.”We are preparing as if this were the next pandemic. But we are hopeful still that this is not, and will not be the case.”Health officials also clarified the distinctions between isolation and quarantine. Isolation is used to keep a person who’s already sick from infecting others. Quarantines restrict the movement of someone who is exposed, but not yet sick.

How many people have been diagnosed with the virus, and how many have died?

According to European CDC, the majority of the confirmed cases – 9,723 – are in China. Another 11 cases are confirmed outside of China in 20 countries. Countries with the most confirmed cases include Thailand and Japan with 14 each. All reported deaths have been in China, and include 17 healthcare workers. Several media outlets are reporting the first two confirmed cases in the U.K. in members of the same family. These cases are not yet reflected in the CDC numbers.

What do we know about cases in the United States?

The six U.S. cases are in Illinois, Washington, California and Arizona. The CDC in total has 241 persons under investigation for coronavirus from 36 states. In addition to the 6 confirmed positive, 114 have tested negative.

On Thursday, a man in Illinois became the first case of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the U.S, the CDC said. He is the sixth confirmed case in the country overall. The man in the most recent case in Illinois is the husband of a Chicago woman diagnosed with the virus after returning from Wuhan. He is hospitalized in isolation and is stable. His wife, who is in her 60s, is also in isolation and in good condition. The Chicago Department of Public Health reported that she had visited China in December and returned to Chicago earlier this month.

In all other U.S. cases so far, patients had recently traveled to Wuhan.

Worldwide there are now more than 9,900 cases and 222 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. While the majority of cases center in China, it has been found in the U.S. and these countries: Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Macau, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, France, Canada, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany, India, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Finland, Sri Lanka, Italy, and Great Britain. There have been no deaths outside China.

California has two patients, one in Los Angeles County and one in Orange County. The patient from Orange County is a man in his 50s. He is in a local hospital in isolation and is in good condition, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Los Angeles County officials did not provide additional details about the patient there.

Arizona’s Department of Health Services said its patient is a Maricopa County resident and member of the Arizona State University community who did not live in student housing. The patient is not severely ill and is being kept in isolation.

The first U.S. patient is a man in his 30s from Washington state. He had traveled from Wuhan and entered the country before the screening was in place. He started having symptoms and contacted his doctor. He is in good condition and is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center.

The CDC is prioritizing the testing based on a person’s risk.

Nancy Messonnier, MD, Director of the agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said they had posted the blueprints for their diagnostic test on a public server and were working “as fast as we can” to get test kits out to states.

Right now, all the testing for the new coronavirus is taking place at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta.

What are public officials doing to contain the virus?

Fears about the virus’ spread led the World Health Organization on Thursday to declare the outbreak a global public health emergency. Soon after, the U.S. State Department issued a level 4 travel advisorytelling people not to travel to China because of the outbreak.

The CDC and State Department have issued strong warnings about travel to and from China, and several airlines, including Delta, United and American, have announced they are ending service to China until the outbreak wanes.

But, commercial flights continue to come and go between the U.S. and China, and the CDC said it was currently evaluating whether or not to restrict the movement of passengers coming in on those flights.

“At this point we’re evaluating the appropriate strategy in light of the new information. There’s really nothing new to share at this point,” said Martin Cetron, MD, Director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at CDC.

Chinese officials have shut down all public transportation to 10 cities, affecting 35 million people. The first was Wuhan, which has a population of about 11 million. In Wuhan, that includes buses, subways, trains, and the airport.

On Wednesday, CDC medical officers and others met a group of about 210 U.S. citizens evacuated from China. Their plane landed at March Air Reserve Base in California, where the evacuees will be monitored for coronavirus symptoms for several days. Anyone showing signs of the disease will be taken to the hospital. The passengers are not officials quarantined for up to two weeks.

In the U.S., the number of airports that will screen passengers from China for symptoms has expanded to 20.

When did the outbreak start?

China first reported the outbreak in Wuhan on Dec. 30, 2019.

Is travel to China safe?

The U.S. State Department issued a level 4 travel advisory telling people not to travel to China because of the outbreak. Some cities in China, such as Wuhan, are closed to travelers.

Travelers who do go should:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals, animal markets, and products that come from animals.
  • Wash their hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if that’s not available.
  • Seek medical care right away for a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Tell a health care professional about any travel.

What are the symptoms, and how is the virus diagnosed?

China created a test for the virus and shared that information with other countries. The CDC has developed its own test.

Symptoms include a fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. They may appear 2 to 14 days after you’re exposed to the virus.

What is the source of the virus, and how is it spread?

Health officials are not sure of the source of the virus yet or how easily it can spread. Coronaviruses are found in many different animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. One research paper also suggested snakes as a possible source. The new virus may be linked to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan that has since been closed

The virus can spread from person to person. Health officials are seeing this happen most often where people are close together and in health care settings. To date, 16 health care workers have been infected.

The CDC believes that severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), two other types of coronavirus, are spread through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no vaccine, but the National Institutes of Health is working on one and hopes to begin testing in several months. That testing would be for safety. If it’s safe, there would be testing to see how well it works.

How is it treated?

There is no specific treatment for the virus. Patients are generally given supportive care for their symptoms, such a fluids and pain relievers. Hospitalized patients may need support with breathing.

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200124/coronavirus-2020-outbreak-latest-updates

Coronavirus

coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous. Some types of coronaviruses are serious, though. About 858 people have died from Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In April 2014, the first American was hospitalized for MERS in Indiana and another case was reported in Florida. Both had just returned from Saudi Arabia. In May 2015, there was an outbreak of MERS in Korea, which was the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian Peninsula. In 2003, 774 people died from a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. As of 2015, there were no further reports of cases of SARS.But In early 2020, following a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).Often a coronavirus causes upper respiratory infection symptoms like a stuffy nose, cough, and sore throat. You can treat them with rest and over-the-counter medication. The coronavirus can also cause middle ear infections in children.

What Is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but we don’t know where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape. Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans.

Most coronaviruses spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do: through infected people coughing and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as doorknobs that infected people have touched.

Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child. In the United States, coronaviruses are more common in the fall and winter, but anyone can come down with a coronavirus infection at any time.

Common Symptoms of Coronavirus

The symptoms of most coronaviruses are similar to any other upper respiratory infection, including runny nosecoughingsore throat, and sometimes a fever. In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.

https://www.webmd.com/lung/coronavirus#1

Dow plummets 600 points in worst day since August as coronavirus fears grow

Stocks fell sharply on Friday, wiping out the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s gain for January, as investors grew increasingly worried about the potential economic impact of China’s fast-spreading coronavirus.

The Dow dropped 603.41 points, or 2.1%, to 28,256.03 in the 30-stock average’s worst day since August. The S&P 500 had its worst day since October, falling 1.8% to 3,225.52. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.6% to 9,150.94.

On Friday, the U.S. declared the coronavirus a public health emergency within the country. Delta, American and United suspended all flights between China and the U.S.

The virus, which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has now spread to at least 18 other countries and has dampened sentiment over global economic growth. China’s National Health Commission confirmed on Friday that there have been 9,692 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 213 deaths.

CH 20200131_biggest_dow_drops.png

“There’s fear going into the weekend,” said Ilya Feygin, senior strategist at WallachBeth Capital. “The theme coming into this year was the Fed and Trump are going to bail us out of any problems, but the virus is something neither one can do anything about. That’s a reason to become more fearful.”

Las Vegas Sands, a proxy stock for the coronavirus given the company’s exposure to the Chinese market, fell more than 1%. Airline stocks such as American and United dropped more than 3% each while Delta slid 2.4%. Travel stocks also got hit as the Trump administration imposed tighter travel restrictions to China.

The WHO recognized the deadly pneumonia-like virus as a global health emergency on Thursday, citing concern that the outbreak continues to spread to other countries with weaker health systems. WHO’s designation was made to help the United Nations health agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus has added another headwind to the near-term outlook for stocks,” said Peter Berezin, chief global strategist at BCA Research, said in a note. “Viruses often become less lethal as they mutate because a virus that kills its host is also a virus that kills itself. Unfortunately, in a world of mass travel, a virus can spread across the globe before it has time to lose potency.”

RT: Coronavirus: Thai Airways disinfecting airplane 200128
Members of the Thai Airways crew prepare themselves before disinfecting the cabin of an aircraft of the national carrier during a procedure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, January 28, 2020.
Athit Perawongmetha | Reuters

Caterpillar shares fell 3% after the industrial giant’s CEO warned about “global economic uncertainty” in the company’s latest quarterly earnings report, in part a reference to the virus. Caterpillar also issued disappointing earnings guidance for 2020.

On the positive side, Amazon shares surged 7.4% after the company posted a quarterly profit and revenue that easily beat analyst expectations. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud business, saw stronger-than-expected revenues.

Investors are nearly halfway through the corporate earnings season. More than 70% of the 226 S&P 500 companies that have reported have beaten analyst earnings expectations, FactSet data shows.

Volatile January

The major averages saw an uptick in volatility this month as investors grappled with rising tensions between Iran and the U.S., trade worries with China and the recent coronavirus scare.

The S&P 500 closed marginally lower for January, snapping a four-month winning streak. The Dow also had its first monthly loss since August. The Nasdaq posted a 2% gain in January, its fifth-straight monthly advance.

The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered to be the best fear gauge in the market, rose to just around 19 this month from 13.78, a gain of more than 37%.

Stocks could face some seasonal headwinds next month. February has not been the market’s best month historically. Data from The Stock Trader’s Almanac shows the S&P 500 averages a gain of just 0.1%. Investors will also face a number of obstacles in the new month, including worries over how the U.S. presidential election shakes out. Coronavirus fears could also persist in February.

“That’s going to hurt China,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT. “For an economy that is increasingly trying to transition to the consumer, it’s definitely a headwind.”

“When you start seeing real actions on the part of multinational companies, as well as people trying to put a number on it, it’s no longer something that is not going to have an impact at all,” Martin said.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/31/stock-market-wall-street-in-focus-after-coronavirus-declares-global-emergency.html

Disease Burden of Influenza

Each year CDC estimates the burden of influenza in the U.S. CDC uses modeling to estimate the number of influenza illnesses, medical visits, flu-associated hospitalizations, and flu-associated deaths that occur in the U.S. in a given season. The methods used to calculate these estimates are described on CDC’s webpage, How CDC Estimates the Burden of Seasonal Influenza in the U.S.

CDC uses the estimates of the burden of influenza in the population and the impact of influenza vaccination to inform policy and communications related to influenza.

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How CDC Estimates the Burden of Flu

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Why CDC Estimates the Burden of Flu

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Past Season Estimates

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Frequently Asked Questions about Estimated Flu Burden

Preliminary In-season Disease Burden Estimates

man writing on a printed chart with coffee in his hand

Weekly preliminary cumulative in-season estimates of flu cases, medical visits, hospitalizations for the 2019-2020 season.

Flu Burden Averted from Vaccination

woman getting vaccine

CDC estimates the burden of flu and the impact of annual flu vaccination in the U.S using a model that estimates the numbers of flu illnesses, medical visits and hospitalization prevented by vaccination.

Figure 1: Estimated Range of Annual Burden of Flu in the U.S. since 2010

The burden of influenza disease in the United States can vary widely and is determined by a number of factors including the characteristics of circulating viruses, the timing of the season, how well the vaccine is working to protect against illness, and how many people got vaccinated. While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year.

CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.

Table 1: Estimated Influenza Disease Burden, by Season — United States, 2010-11 through 2018-19 Influenza Seasons

Symptomatic Illnesses Medical Visits Hospitalizations Deaths
Season Estimate 95% U I Estimate 95% U I Estimate 95% U I Estimate 95% U I
2010-2011 21,000,000 (20,000,000 – 25,000,000) 10,000,000 (9,300,000 – 12,000,000) 290,000 (270,000 – 350,000) 37,000 (32,000 – 51,000)
2011-2012 9,300,000 (8,700,000 – 12,000,000) 4,300,000 (4,000,000 – 5,600,000) 140,000 (130,000 – 190,000) 12,000 (11,000 – 23,000)
2012-2013 34,000,000 (32,000,000 – 38,000,000) 16,000,000 (15,000,000 – 18,000,000) 570,000 (530,000 – 680,000) 43,000 (37,000 – 57,000)
2013-2014 30,000,000 (28,000,000 – 33,000,000) 13,000,000 (12,000,000 – 15,000,000) 350,000 (320,000 – 390,000) 38,000 (33,000 – 50,000)
2014-2015 30,000,000 (29,000,000 – 33,000,000) 14,000,000 (13,000,000 – 16,000,000) 590,000 (540,000 – 680,000) 51,000 (44,000 – 64,000)
2015-2016 24,000,000 (20,000,000 – 33,000,000) 11,000,000 (9,000,000 – 15,000,000) 280,000 (220,000 – 480,000) 23,000 (17,000 – 35,000)
2016-2017 29,000,000 (25,000,000 – 45,000,000) 14,000,000 (11,000,000 – 23,000,000) 500,000 (380,000 – 860,000) 38,000 (29,000 – 61,000)
Preliminary estimates* Estimate 95% UI Estimate 95% UI Estimate 95% UI Estimate 95% UI
2017-2018* 45,000,000 (39,000,000 – 58,000,000) 21,000,000 (18,000,000 – 27,000,000) 810,000 (620,000 – 1,400,000) 61,000 (46,000 – 95,000)
2018-2019* 35,520,883 (31,323,881 – 44,995,691) 16,520,350 (14,322,767 – 21,203,231) 490,561 (387,283 – 766,472) 34,157 (26,339 – 52,664)

* Estimates from the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons are preliminary and may change as data are finalized.

Figure 2: Estimated U.S. Influenza Burden, By Season

Influenza Chart Infographic Influenza Burden ChartDownload Flu Burden PowerPoint Presentation Slides ppt icon[PPT – 1 MB]

Supporting Research

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

 

Influenza

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Influenza
Other names Flu, the flu
EM of influenza virus.jpg
Influenza virus, magnified approximately 100,000 times
Specialty Infectious disease
Symptoms Feverrunny nosesore throatmuscle and joint painheadachecoughingfeeling tired[1]
Usual onset One to four days after exposure[1]
Duration ~1 week[1]
Causes Influenza viruses[2]
Prevention Hand washinginfluenza vaccinesurgical masks[1][3]
Medication Neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir[1]
Frequency 3–5 million severe cases per year[1]
Deaths Up to 650,000 respiratory deaths per year[4][1]

Influenza, commonly known as “the flu“, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus.[1] Symptoms can be mild to severe.[5] The most common symptoms include: high feverrunny nosesore throatmuscle and joint painheadachecoughing, and feeling tired.[1] These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week.[1] The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks.[1]In children, there may be diarrhea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults.[6] Diarrhea and vomiting occur more commonly in gastroenteritis, which is an unrelated disease and sometimes inaccurately referred to as “stomach flu” or the “24-hour flu”.[6] Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumoniasinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.[2][5]

Three of the four types of influenza viruses affect humans: Type A, Type B, and Type C.[2][7] Type D has not been known to infect humans, but is believed to have the potential to do so.[7][8] Usually, the virus is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes.[1] This is believed to occur mostly over relatively short distances.[9] It can also be spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus and then touching the mouth or eyes.[5][9] A person may be infectious to others both before and during the time they are showing symptoms.[5] The infection may be confirmed by testing the throat, sputum, or nose for the virus.[2] A number of rapid tests are available; however, people may still have the infection even if the results are negative.[2] A type of polymerase chain reaction that detects the virus’s RNA is more accurate.[2]

Frequent hand washing reduces the risk of viral spread.[3] Wearing a surgical mask is also useful.[3] Yearly vaccinations against influenza are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for those at high risk,[1] and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for those six months of age and older.[10] The vaccine is usually effective against three or four types of influenza.[1] It is usually well-tolerated.[11] A vaccine made for one year may not be useful in the following year, since the virus evolves rapidly.[1] Antiviral drugs such as the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir, among others, have been used to treat influenza.[1]The benefit of antiviral drugs in those who are otherwise healthy do not appear to be greater than their risks.[12] No benefit has been found in those with other health problems.[12][13]

Influenza spreads around the world in yearly outbreaks, resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 290,000 to 650,000 deaths.[4][1] About 20% of unvaccinated children and 10% of unvaccinated adults are infected each year.[14] In the northern and southern parts of the world, outbreaks occur mainly in the winter, while around the equator, outbreaks may occur at any time of the year.[11] Death occurs mostly in high risk groups—the young, the old, and those with other health problems.[1] Larger outbreaks known as pandemics are less frequent.[2] In the 20th century, three influenza pandemics occurred: Spanish influenza in 1918 (40–50 million deaths), Asian influenza in 1957 (two million deaths), and Hong Kong influenza in 1968 (one million deaths).[15] The World Health Organization declared an outbreak of a new type of influenza A/H1N1 to be a pandemic in June 2009.[16] Influenza may also affect other animals, including pigs, horses, and birds.[17]

File:Wikipedia-VideoWiki-Influenza.webm

Video summary (script)

Contents

Signs and symptoms

Most sensitive symptoms for diagnosing influenza[18]
Symptom: sensitivity specificity
Fever 68–86% 25–73%
Cough 84–98% 7–29%
Nasal congestion 68–91% 19–41%
  • All three findings, especially fever, were less sensitive in people over 60 years of age.

Symptoms of influenza,[19][20] with fever and cough the most common symptoms.[18]

Approximately 33% of people with influenza are asymptomatic.[21][22]

Symptoms of influenza can start quite suddenly one to two days after infection. Usually the first symptoms are chills and body aches, but fever is also common early in the infection, with body temperatures ranging from 38 to 39 °C (approximately 100 to 103 °F).[23] Many people are so ill that they are confined to bed for several days, with aches and pains throughout their bodies, which are worse in their backs and legs.[24]

Symptoms of influenza

It can be difficult to distinguish between the common cold and influenza in the early stages of these infections.[29] Influenza symptoms are a mixture of symptoms of common cold and pneumonia, body ache, headache, and fatigue. Diarrhea is not usually a symptom of influenza in adults,[18] although it has been seen in some human cases of the H5N1 “bird flu”[30] and can be a symptom in children.[26] The symptoms most reliably seen in influenza are shown in the adjacent table.[18]

The specific combination of fever and cough has been found to be the best predictor; diagnostic accuracy increases with a body temperature above 38 °C (100.4 °F).[31] Two decision analysis studies[32][33] suggest that during local outbreaks of influenza, the prevalence will be over 70%.[33] Even in the absence of a local outbreak, diagnosis may be justified in the elderly during the influenza season as long as the prevalence is over 15%.[33]

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains an up-to-date summary of available laboratory tests.[34] According to the CDC, rapid diagnostic tests have a sensitivity of 50–75% and specificity of 90–95% when compared with viral culture.[35]

Occasionally, influenza can cause severe illness including primary viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia.[36][37] The obvious symptom is trouble breathing. In addition, if a child (or presumably an adult) seems to be getting better and then relapses with a high fever, that is a danger sign since this relapse can be bacterial pneumonia.[38]

Sometimes, influenza may have abnormal presentations, like confusion in the elderly and a sepsis-like syndrome in the young.[39]

Emergency warning signs

Signs of dehydration

  • (in infants) Far fewer wet diapers than usual[40]
  • Cannot keep down fluids
  • (in infants) No tears when crying.

Virology

Types of virus

Structure of the influenza virion. The hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins are shown on the surface of the particle. The viral RNAs that make up the genome are shown as red coils inside the particle and bound to ribonuclearproteins (RNP).

In virus classification, influenza viruses are RNA viruses that make up four of the seven genera of the family Orthomyxoviridae:[41]

These viruses are only distantly related to the human parainfluenza viruses, which are RNA viruses belonging to the paramyxovirus family that are a common cause of respiratory infections in children such as croup,[42] but can also cause a disease similar to influenza in adults.[43]

A fourth family of influenza viruses was identified in 2016 – Influenza D.[44][45][46][47][48][49][50] The type species for this family is Influenza D virus, which was first isolated in 2011.[8]

Influenzavirus A

This genus has one species, influenza A virus. Wild aquatic birds are the natural hosts for a large variety of influenza A.[51] Occasionally, viruses are transmitted to other species and may then cause devastating outbreaks in domestic poultry or give rise to human influenza pandemics.[51] The influenza A virus can be subdivided into different serotypes based on the antibody response to these viruses.[52] The serotypes that have been confirmed in humans are:

Influenzavirus B

Influenza virus nomenclature (for a Fujian flu virus)

This genus has one species, influenza B virus. Influenza B almost exclusively infects humans[52] and is less common than influenza A. The only other animals known to be susceptible to influenza B infection are the seal[58] and the ferret.[59] This type of influenza mutates at a rate 2–3 times slower than type A[60] and consequently is less genetically diverse, with only one influenza B serotype.[52] As a result of this lack of antigenic diversity, a degree of immunity to influenza B is usually acquired at an early age. However, influenza B mutates enough that lasting immunity is not possible.[61] This reduced rate of antigenic change, combined with its limited host range (inhibiting cross species antigenic shift), ensures that pandemics of influenza B do not occur.[62]

Influenzavirus C

This genus has one species, influenza C virus, which infects humans, dogs and pigs, sometimes causing both severe illness and local epidemics.[63][64] However, influenza C is less common than the other types and usually only causes mild disease in children.[65][66]

Influenzavirus D

This genus has only one species, influenza D virus, which infects pigs and cattle. The virus has the potential to infect humans, although no such cases have been observed yet.[8]

Structure, properties, and subtype nomenclature

Influenzaviruses A, B, C, and D are very similar in overall structure.[8][67][68] The virus particle (also called the virion) is 80–120 nanometers in diameter such that the smallest virions adopt an elliptical shape.[69] The length of each particle varies considerably, owing to the fact that influenza is pleomorphic, and can be in excess of many tens of micrometers, producing filamentous virions.[70] However, despite these varied shapes, the viral particles of all influenza viruses are similar in composition.[71] These are made of a viral envelopecontaining two main types of glycoproteins, wrapped around a central core. The central core contains the viral RNA genome and other viral proteins that package and protect this RNA. RNA tends to be single stranded but in special cases it is double.[72] Unusually for a virus, its genome is not a single piece of nucleic acid; instead, it contains seven or eight pieces of segmented negative-sense RNA, each piece of RNA containing either one or two genes, which code for a gene product (protein).[71] For example, the influenza A genome contains 11 genes on eight pieces of RNA, encoding for 11 proteinshemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), nucleoprotein (NP), M1 (matrix 1 protein), M2NS1 (non-structural protein 1), NS2 (other name is NEP, nuclear export protein), PA, PB1 (polymerase basic 1), PB1-F2 and PB2.[73]

Hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) are the two large glycoproteins on the outside of the viral particles. HA is a lectin that mediates binding of the virus to target cells and entry of the viral genome into the target cell, while NA is involved in the release of progeny virus from infected cells, by cleaving sugars that bind the mature viral particles.[74] Thus, these proteins are targets for antiviral drugs.[75] Furthermore, they are antigens to which antibodies can be raised. Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on antibody responses to HA and NA. These different types of HA and NA form the basis of the H and N distinctions in, for example, H5N1.[76] There are 18 H and 11 N subtypes known, but only H 1, 2 and 3, and N 1 and 2 are commonly found in humans.[77][78]

Replication

Host cell invasion and replication by the influenza virus. The steps in this process are discussed in the text.

Viruses can replicate only in living cells.[79] Influenza infection and replication is a multi-step process: First, the virus has to bind to and enter the cell, then deliver its genome to a site where it can produce new copies of viral proteins and RNA, assemble these components into new viral particles, and, last, exit the host cell.[71]

Influenza viruses bind through hemagglutinin onto sialic acid sugars on the surfaces of epithelial cells, typically in the nose, throat, and lungs of mammals, and intestines of birds (Stage 1 in infection figure).[80] After the hemagglutinin is cleaved by a protease, the cell imports the virus by endocytosis.[81]

The intracellular details are still being elucidated. It is known that virions converge to the microtubule organizing center, interact with acidic endosomes and finally enter the target endosomes for genome release.[82]

Once inside the cell, the acidic conditions in the endosome cause two events to happen: First, part of the hemagglutinin protein fuses the viral envelope with the vacuole’s membrane, then the M2 ion channel allows protons to move through the viral envelope and acidify the core of the virus, which causes the core to disassemble and release the viral RNA and core proteins.[71] The viral RNA (vRNA) molecules, accessory proteins and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase are then released into the cytoplasm (Stage 2).[83] The M2 ion channel is blocked by amantadine drugs, preventing infection.[84]

These core proteins and vRNA form a complex that is transported into the cell nucleus, where the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase begins transcribing complementary positive-sense vRNA (Steps 3a and b).[85] The vRNA either is exported into the cytoplasm and translated (step 4) or remains in the nucleus. Newly synthesized viral proteins are either secreted through the Golgi apparatus onto the cell surface (in the case of neuraminidase and hemagglutinin, step 5b) or transported back into the nucleus to bind vRNA and form new viral genome particles (step 5a). Other viral proteins have multiple actions in the host cell, including degrading cellular mRNA and using the released nucleotides for vRNA synthesis and also inhibiting translation of host-cell mRNAs.[86]

Negative-sense vRNAs that form the genomes of future viruses, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and other viral proteins are assembled into a virion. Hemagglutinin and neuraminidase molecules cluster into a bulge in the cell membrane. The vRNA and viral coreproteins leave the nucleus and enter this membrane protrusion (step 6). The mature virus buds off from the cell in a sphere of host phospholipid membrane, acquiring hemagglutinin and neuraminidase with this membrane coat (step 7).[87] As before, the viruses adhere to the cell through hemagglutinin; the mature viruses detach once their neuraminidase has cleaved sialic acid residues from the host cell.[80] After the release of new influenza viruses, the host cell dies.

Because of the absence of RNA proofreading enzymes, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase that copies the viral genome makes an error roughly every 10 thousand nucleotides, which is the approximate length of the influenza vRNA. Hence, the majority of newly manufactured influenza viruses are mutants; this causes antigenic drift, which is a slow change in the antigens on the viral surface over time.[88] The separation of the genome into eight separate segments of vRNA allows mixing or reassortment of vRNAs if more than one type of influenza virus infects a single cell. The resulting rapid change in viral genetics produces antigenic shifts, which are sudden changes from one antigen to another. These sudden large changes allow the virus to infect new host species and quickly overcome protective immunity.[76] This is important in the emergence of pandemics, as discussed below in the section on epidemiology.

Mechanism

Transmission

When an infected person sneezes or coughs more than half a million virus particles can be spread to those close by.[89] In otherwise healthy adults, influenza virus shedding (the time during which a person might be infectious to another person) increases sharply one-half to one day after infection, peaks on day 2 and persists for an average total duration of 5 days—but can persist as long as 9 days.[21] In those who develop symptoms from experimental infection (only 67% of healthy experimentally infected individuals), symptoms and viral shedding show a similar pattern, but with viral shedding preceding illness by one day.[21] Children are much more infectious than adults and shed virus from just before they develop symptoms until two weeks after infection.[90] In immunocompromised people, viral shedding can continue for longer than two weeks.[91]

Influenza can be spread in three main ways:[92][93] by direct transmission (when an infected person sneezes mucus directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person); the airborne route (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting) and through hand-to-eye, hand-to-nose, or hand-to-mouth transmission, either from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact such as a handshake. The relative importance of these three modes of transmission is unclear, and they may all contribute to the spread of the virus.[9] In the airborne route, the droplets that are small enough for people to inhale are 0.5 to 5 μm in diameter and inhaling just one droplet might be enough to cause an infection.[92] Although a single sneeze releases up to 40,000 droplets,[94] most of these droplets are quite large and will quickly settle out of the air.[92] How long influenza survives in airborne droplets seems to be influenced by the levels of humidity and UV radiation, with low humidity and a lack of sunlight in winter aiding its survival.[92]

As the influenza virus can persist outside of the body, it can also be transmitted by contaminated surfaces such as banknotes,[95] doorknobs, light switches and other household items.[24] The length of time the virus will persist on a surface varies, with the virus surviving for one to two days on hard, non-porous surfaces such as plastic or metal, for about fifteen minutes on dry paper tissues, and only five minutes on skin.[96] However, if the virus is present in mucus, this can protect it for longer periods (up to 17 days on banknotes).[92][95]Avian influenza viruses can survive indefinitely when frozen.[97] They are inactivated by heating to 56 °C (133 °F) for a minimum of 60 minutes, as well as by acids (at pH <2).[97]

Pathophysiology

The different sites of infection (shown in red) of seasonal H1N1 versus avian H5N1. This influences their lethality and ability to spread.

The mechanisms by which influenza infection causes symptoms in humans have been studied intensively. One of the mechanisms is believed to be the inhibition of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) resulting in lowered cortisol levels.[98] Knowing which genes are carried by a particular strain can help predict how well it will infect humans and how severe this infection will be (that is, predict the strain’s pathophysiology).[64][99]

For instance, part of the process that allows influenza viruses to invade cells is the cleavage of the viral hemagglutinin protein by any one of several human proteases.[81] In mild and avirulent viruses, the structure of the hemagglutinin means that it can only be cleaved by proteases found in the throat and lungs, so these viruses cannot infect other tissues. However, in highly virulent strains, such as H5N1, the hemagglutinin can be cleaved by a wide variety of proteases, allowing the virus to spread throughout the body.[99]

The viral hemagglutinin protein is responsible for determining both which species a strain can infect and where in the human respiratory tract a strain of influenza will bind.[100] Strains that are easily transmitted between people have hemagglutinin proteins that bind to receptors in the upper part of the respiratory tract, such as in the nose, throat and mouth. In contrast, the highly lethal H5N1 strain binds to receptors that are mostly found deep in the lungs.[101] This difference in the site of infection may be part of the reason why the H5N1 strain causes severe viral pneumonia in the lungs, but is not easily transmitted by people coughing and sneezing.[102][103]

Common symptoms of the flu such as fever, headaches, and fatigue are the result of the huge amounts of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines (such as interferon or tumor necrosis factor) produced from influenza-infected cells.[29][104] In contrast to the rhinovirus that causes the common cold, influenza does cause tissue damage, so symptoms are not entirely due to the inflammatory response.[105] This massive immune response might produce a life-threatening cytokine storm. This effect has been proposed to be the cause of the unusual lethality of both the H5N1 avian influenza,[106] and the 1918 pandemic strain.[107][108] However, another possibility is that these large amounts of cytokines are just a result of the massive levels of viral replication produced by these strains, and the immune response does not itself contribute to the disease.[109] Influenza appear to trigger programmed cell death (apoptosis).[110]

Prevention

Vaccination

Giving an influenza vaccination

The influenza vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, children aged less than five years, the elderly, health care workers, and people who have chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDSasthmadiabetesheart disease, or are immunocompromised among others.[111][112] The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the influenza vaccine for those aged six months or older who do not have contraindications.[113][10] In healthy adults it is modestly effective in decreasing the amount of influenza-like symptoms in a population.[114] In healthy children over the age of two years, the vaccine reduces the chances of getting influenza by around two-thirds, while it has not been well studied in children under two years.[115] In those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease vaccination reduces exacerbations,[116] it is not clear if it reduces asthma exacerbations.[117] Evidence supports a lower rate of influenza-like illness in many groups who are immunocompromised such as those with: HIV/AIDScancer, and post organ transplant.[118] In those at high risk immunization may reduce the risk of heart disease.[119] Whether immunizing health care workers affects patient outcomes is controversial with some reviews finding insufficient evidence[120][121] and others finding tentative evidence.[122][123]

Due to the high mutation rate of the virus, a particular influenza vaccine usually confers protection for no more than a few years. Each year, the World Health Organization predicts which strains of the virus are most likely to be circulating in the next year (see Historical annual reformulations of the influenza vaccine), allowing pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines that will provide the best immunity against these strains.[124] The vaccine is reformulated each season for a few specific flu strains but does not include all the strains active in the world during that season. It takes about six months for the manufacturers to formulate and produce the millions of doses required to deal with the seasonal epidemics; occasionally, a new or overlooked strain becomes prominent during that time.[125] It is also possible to get infected just before vaccination and get sick with the strain that the vaccine is supposed to prevent, as the vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective.[126]Vaccines can cause the immune system to react as if the body were actually being infected, and general infection symptoms (many cold and flu symptoms are just general infection symptoms) can appear, though these symptoms are usually not as severe or long-lasting as influenza. The most dangerous adverse effect is a severe allergic reaction to either the virus material itself or residues from the hen eggs used to grow the influenza; however, these reactions are extremely rare.[127]

A 2018 Cochrane review of children in good general health found that the live immunization seemed to lower the risk of getting influenza for the season from 18% to 4%. The inactivated vaccine seemed to lower the risk of getting flu for the season from 30% to 11%. Not enough data was available to draw definite conclusions about serious complications such as pneumonia or hospitalization.[115]

For healthy adults, a 2018 Cochrane review showed that vaccines reduced the incidence of lab-confirmed influenza from 2.3% to 0.9%, which constitutes a reduction of risk of approximately 60%. However, for influenza-like illness which is defined as the same symptoms of cough, fever, headache, runny nose, and bodily aches and pains, vaccine reduced the risk from 21.5% to 18.1%. This constitutes a much more modest reduction of risk of approximately 16%. The difference is most probably explained by the fact that over 200 viruses cause the same or similar symptoms as the flu virus.[114] Another review looked at the effect of short and long term exercise before the vaccine, however, no benefits or harms were recorded.[128]

The cost-effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccination has been widely evaluated for different groups and in different settings.[129] It has generally been found to be a cost-effective intervention, especially in children[130] and the elderly,[131] however the results of economic evaluations of influenza vaccination have often been found to be dependent on key assumptions.[132][133]

Infection control

These are the main ways that influenza spreads

  • by direct transmission (when an infected person sneezes mucus directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person);
  • the airborne route (when someone inhales the aerosols produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting);
  • through hand-to-eye, hand-to-nose, or hand-to-mouth transmission, either from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact such as a hand-shake.

Reasonably effective ways to reduce the transmission of influenza include good personal health and hygiene habits such as: not touching your eyes, nose or mouth;[134] frequent hand washing (with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand rubs);[135] covering coughs and sneezes; avoiding close contact with sick people; and staying home yourself if you are sick. Avoiding spitting is also recommended.[136] Although face masks might help prevent transmission when caring for the sick,[137][138] there is mixed evidence on beneficial effects in the community.[136][139] Smoking raises the risk of contracting influenza, as well as producing more severe disease symptoms.[140][141]

Since influenza spreads through both aerosols and contact with contaminated surfaces, surface sanitizing may help prevent some infections.[142] Alcohol is an effective sanitizer against influenza viruses, while quaternary ammonium compounds can be used with alcohol so that the sanitizing effect lasts for longer.[143] In hospitals, quaternary ammonium compounds and bleach are used to sanitize rooms or equipment that have been occupied by people with influenza symptoms.[143] At home, this can be done effectively with a diluted chlorine bleach.[144]

Social distancing strategies used during past pandemics, such as closing schools, churches and theaters, slowed the spread of the virus but did not have a large effect on the overall death rate.[145][146] It is uncertain if reducing public gatherings, by for example closing schools and workplaces, will reduce transmission since people with influenza may just be moved from one area to another; such measures would also be difficult to enforce and might be unpopular.[136] When small numbers of people are infected, isolating the sick might reduce the risk of transmission.[136]

Diagnosis

29 yr old with H1N1 confirmed

There are a number of rapid tests for the flu. One is called a Rapid Molecular Assay, when an upper respiratory tract specimen (mucus) is taken using a nasal swab or a nasopharyngeal swab.[147] It should be done within 3–4 days of symptom onset, as upper respiratory viral shedding takes a downward spiral after that.[39]

Treatment

People with the flu are advised to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco and, if necessary, take medications such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) to relieve the fever and muscle aches associated with the flu.[148][149] In contrast, there is not enough evidence to support corticosteroids as add on therapy for influenza.[150] It is advised to avoid close contact with others to prevent spread of infection.[148][149] Children and teenagers with flu symptoms (particularly fever) should avoid taking aspirin during an influenza infection (especially influenza type B), because doing so can lead to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease of the liver.[151] Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics have no effect on the infection; unless prescribed for secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia. Antiviral medication may be effective, if given early (within 48 hours to first symptoms), but some strains of influenza can show resistance to the standard antiviral drugs and there is concern about the quality of the research.[152] High-risk individuals such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems should visit the doctor for antiviral drugs. Those with the emergency warning signs should visit the emergency room at once.[40]

Antivirals

The two classes of antiviral drugs used against influenza are neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivirzanamivirlaninamivir and peramivir) and M2 protein inhibitors (adamantane derivatives).[153][154][155]

Neuraminidase inhibitors

Overall the benefits of neuraminidase inhibitors in those who are otherwise healthy do not appear to be greater than the risks.[12] There does not appear to be any benefit in those with other health problems.[12] In those believed to have the flu, they decreased the length of time symptoms were present by slightly less than a day but did not appear to affect the risk of complications such as needing hospitalization or pneumonia.[13] Increasingly prevalent resistance to neuraminidase inhibitors has led to researchers to seek alternative antiviral drugs with different mechanisms of action.[156]

M2 inhibitors

The antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine inhibit a viral ion channel (M2 protein), thus inhibiting replication of the influenza A virus.[84] These drugs are sometimes effective against influenza A if given early in the infection but are ineffective against influenza B viruses, which lack the M2 drug target.[157] Measured resistance to amantadine and rimantadine in American isolates of H3N2 has increased to 91% in 2005.[158] This high level of resistance may be due to the easy availability of amantadines as part of over-the-counter cold remedies in countries such as China and Russia,[159] and their use to prevent outbreaks of influenza in farmed poultry.[160][161] The CDC recommended against using M2 inhibitors during the 2005–06 influenza season due to high levels of drug resistance.[162]

Prognosis

Influenza’s effects are much more severe and last longer than those of the common cold. Most people will recover completely in about one to two weeks, but others will develop life-threatening complications (such as pneumonia). Thus, influenza can be deadly, especially for the weak, young and old, those with compromised immune systems, or the chronically ill.[76] People with a weak immune system, such as people with advanced HIV infection or transplant recipients (whose immune systems are medically suppressed to prevent transplant organ rejection), suffer from particularly severe disease.[163] Pregnant women and young children are also at a high risk for complications.[164]

The flu can worsen chronic health problems. People with emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthma may experience shortness of breath while they have the flu, and influenza may cause worsening of coronary heart disease or congestive heart failure.[165] Smoking is another risk factor associated with more serious disease and increased mortality from influenza.[140]

According to the World Health Organization: “Every winter, tens of millions of people get the flu. Most are only ill and out of work for a week, yet the elderly are at a higher risk of death from the illness. We know the worldwide death toll exceeds a few hundred thousand people a year, but even in developed countries the numbers are uncertain, because medical authorities don’t usually verify who actually died of influenza and who died of a flu-like illness.”[166] Even healthy people can be affected, and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age. People over 65 years old, pregnant women, very young children and people of any age with chronic medical conditions are more likely to get complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, bronchitissinus, and ear infections.[167]

In some cases, an autoimmune response to an influenza infection may contribute to the development of Guillain–Barré syndrome.[168] However, as many other infections can increase the risk of this disease, influenza may only be an important cause during epidemics.[168][169] This syndrome has been believed to also be a rare side effect of influenza vaccines. One review gives an incidence of about one case per million vaccinations.[170] Getting infected by influenza itself increases both the risk of death (up to 1 in 10,000) and increases the risk of developing GBS to a much higher level than the highest level of suspected vaccine involvement (approx. 10 times higher by recent estimates).[171][168]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Children of any age with neurologic conditions are more likely than other children to become very sick if they get the flu. Flu complications may vary and for some children, can include pneumonia and even death.”[172]

Influenza encephalitis MRI

Neurological conditions can include:

  • Disorders of the brain and spinal cord
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy (seizure disorders)
  • Stroke
  • Intellectual disability
  • Moderate to severe developmental delay
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal cord injury

These conditions can impair coughing, swallowing, clearing the airways, and in the worst cases, breathing. Therefore, they worsen the flu symptoms.[172]

Epidemiology

Seasonal variations

Seasonal risk areas for influenza: November–April (blue), April–November (red), and year-round (yellow).

Influenza reaches peak prevalence in winter, and because the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have winter at different times of the year, there are actually two different flu seasons each year. This is why the World Health Organization (assisted by the National Influenza Centers) makes recommendations for two different vaccine formulations every year; one for the Northern, and one for the Southern Hemisphere.[124]

A long-standing puzzle has been why outbreaks of the flu occur seasonally rather than uniformly throughout the year. One possible explanation is that, because people are indoors more often during the winter, they are in close contact more often, and this promotes transmission from person to person. Increased travel due to the Northern Hemisphere winter holiday season may also play a role.[173] Another factor is that cold temperatures lead to drier air, which may dehydrate mucus particles. Dry particles are lighter and can thus remain airborne for a longer period. The virus also survives longer on surfaces at colder temperatures and aerosol transmission of the virus is highest in cold environments (less than 5 °C) with low relative humidity.[174] The lower air humidity in winter seems to be the main cause of seasonal influenza transmission in temperate regions.[175][176]

However, seasonal changes in infection rates also occur in tropical regions, and in some countries these peaks of infection are seen mainly during the rainy season.[177] Seasonal changes in contact rates from school terms, which are a major factor in other childhood diseases such as measles and pertussis, may also play a role in the flu. A combination of these small seasonal effects may be amplified by dynamical resonance with the endogenous disease cycles.[178] H5N1 exhibits seasonality in both humans and birds.[179][180]

An alternative hypothesis to explain seasonality in influenza infections is an effect of vitamin D levels on immunity to the virus.[181] This idea was first proposed by Robert Edgar Hope-Simpson in 1965.[182] He proposed that the cause of influenza epidemics during winter may be connected to seasonal fluctuations of vitamin D, which is produced in the skin under the influence of solar (or artificial) UV radiation. This could explain why influenza occurs mostly in winter and during the tropical rainy season, when people stay indoors, away from the sun, and their vitamin D levels fall.

Epidemic and pandemic spread

As influenza is caused by a variety of species and strains of viruses, in any given year some strains can die out while others create epidemics, while yet another strain can cause a pandemic. Typically, in a year’s normal two flu seasons (one per hemisphere), there are between three and five million cases of severe illness and around 650,000 deaths worldwide,[4][1][183] which by some definitions is a yearly influenza epidemic.[1] Although the incidence of influenza can vary widely between years, approximately 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations are directly associated with influenza every year in the United States.[184][185] One method of calculating influenza mortality produced an estimate of 41,400 average deaths per year in the United States between 1979 and 2001.[186] Different methods in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a range from a low of about 3,300 deaths to a high of 49,000 per year.[187]

Roughly three times per century, a pandemic occurs, which infects a large proportion of the world’s population and can kill tens of millions of people (see pandemics section). One study estimated that if a strain with similar virulence to the 1918 influenza emerged today, it could kill between 50 and 80 million people.[188]

Antigenic shift, or reassortment, can result in novel and highly pathogenic strains of human influenza

New influenza viruses are constantly evolving by mutation or by reassortment.[52] Mutations can cause small changes in the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase antigens on the surface of the virus. This is called antigenic drift, which slowly creates an increasing variety of strains until one evolves that can infect people who are immune to the pre-existing strains. This new variant then replaces the older strains as it rapidly sweeps through the human population, often causing an epidemic.[189] However, since the strains produced by drift will still be reasonably similar to the older strains, some people will still be immune to them. In contrast, when influenza viruses reassort, they acquire completely new antigens—for example by reassortment between avian strains and human strains; this is called antigenic shift. If a human influenza virus is produced that has entirely new antigens, everybody will be susceptible, and the novel influenza will spread uncontrollably, causing a pandemic.[190] In contrast to this model of pandemics based on antigenic drift and shift, an alternative approach has been proposed where the periodic pandemics are produced by interactions of a fixed set of viral strains with a human population with a constantly changing set of immunities to different viral strains.[191]

The generation time for influenza (the time from one infection to the next) is very short (only 2 days). This explains why influenza epidemics start and finish in a short time scale of only a few months.[192]

From a public health point of view, flu epidemics spread rapidly and are very difficult to control. Most influenza virus strains are not very infectious and each infected individual will only go on to infect one or two other individuals (the basic reproduction number for influenza is generally around 1.4). However, the generation time for influenza is extremely short: the time from a person becoming infected to when he infects the next person is only two days. The short generation time means that influenza epidemics generally peak at around 2 months and burn out after 3 months: the decision to intervene in an influenza epidemic therefore has to be taken early, and the decision is therefore often made on the back of incomplete data. Another problem is that individuals become infectious before they become symptomatic, which means that putting people in quarantine after they become ill is not an effective public health intervention.[192] For the average person, viral shedding tends to peak on day two, whereas symptoms peak on day three.[21]

History

Etymology

The word Influenza comes from the Italian language meaning “influence” and refers to the cause of the disease; initially, this ascribed illness to unfavorable astrological influences. It was introduced into English in the mid-eighteenth century during a pan-European epidemic.[193] Archaic terms for influenza include epidemic catarrhla grippe (from the French, first used by Molyneaux in 1694),[194] sweating sickness, and Spanish fever (particularly for the 1918 flu pandemic strain).[195]

Pandemics

The difference between the influenza mortality age distributions of the 1918 epidemic and normal epidemics. Deaths per 100,000 persons in each age group, United States, for the interpandemic years 1911–1917 (dashed line) and the pandemic year 1918 (solid line).[196]

Thermal imaging camera and screen, photographed in an airport terminal in Greece during the 2009 flu pandemic. Thermal imaging can detect elevated body temperature, one of the signs of swine flu.

The symptoms of human influenza were clearly described by Hippocrates roughly 2,400 years ago.[197][198] Although the virus seems to have caused epidemics throughout human history, historical data on influenza are difficult to interpret, because the symptoms can be similar to those of other respiratory diseases.[199][194] The disease may have spread from Europe to the Americas as early as the European colonization of the Americas, since almost the entire indigenous population of the Antilles was killed by an epidemic resembling influenza that broke out in 1493, after the arrival of Christopher Columbus.[200][201]

The first convincing record of an influenza pandemic was of an outbreak in 1580, which began in Russia and spread to Europe via Africa. In Rome, over 8,000 people were killed, and several Spanish cities were almost wiped out. Pandemics continued sporadically throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, with the pandemic of 1830–1833 being particularly widespread; it infected approximately a quarter of the people exposed.[194]

The most famous and lethal outbreak was the 1918 flu pandemic (Spanish flu pandemic) (type A influenzaH1N1 subtype), which lasted from 1918 to 1919. It is not known exactly how many it killed, but estimates range from 50 to 100 million people.[196][202][203] This pandemic has been described as “the greatest medical holocaust in history” and may have killed as many people as the Black Death.[194] This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate of up to 50% and the extreme severity of the symptoms, suspected to be caused by cytokine storms.[203] Symptoms in 1918 were so unusual that initially influenza was misdiagnosed as dengue, cholera, or typhoid. One observer wrote, “One of the most striking of the complications was hemorrhage from mucous membranes, especially from the nose, stomach, and intestine. Bleeding from the ears and petechial hemorrhages in the skin also occurred.”[202] The majority of deaths were from bacterial pneumonia, a secondary infection caused by influenza, but the virus also killed people directly, causing massive hemorrhages and edema in the lung.[204]

The 1918 flu pandemic was truly global, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. The unusually severe disease killed between two and twenty percent of those infected, as opposed to the more usual flu epidemic mortality rate of 0.1%.[196][202] Another unusual feature of this pandemic was that it mostly killed young adults, with 99% of pandemic influenza deaths occurring in people under 65, and more than half in young adults 20 to 40 years old.[205] This is unusual since influenza is normally most deadly to the very young (under age 2) and the very old (over age 70). The total mortality of the 1918–1919 pandemic is not known, but it is estimated that 2.5% to 5% of the world’s population was killed. As many as 25 million may have been killed in the first 25 weeks; in contrast, HIV/AIDS has killed 25 million in its first 25 years.[202]

Later flu pandemics were not so devastating. They included the 1957 Asian Flu (type A, H2N2 strain) and the 1968 Hong Kong Flu (type A, H3N2 strain), but even these smaller outbreaks killed millions of people. In later pandemics antibiotics were available to control secondary infections and this may have helped reduce mortality compared to the Spanish flu of 1918.[196]

Known influenza pandemics[206][207][208] (

)

Name Date Subtype People infected (est.) Deaths Case fatality rate Pandemic Severity Index
1889–1890 flu pandemic
(Asiatic or Russian Flu)[209]
1889–1890 H3N8 or H2N2 ? N/A 1 million 0.15% N/A
1918 flu pandemic
(Spanish flu)[210]
1918–1920 H1N1 33% (500 million)[211] 20 to 100 million 2–3%[212] 5
Asian Flu 1957–1958 H2N2 8-33% (250–1000 million[213]) 1 to 1.5 million <0.2%[214] 2
Hong Kong Flu 1968–1969 H3N2 7-28% (250–1000 million[215]) 0.75 to 1 million <0.2%[216] 2
Russian flu 1977–1978 H1N1 N/A N/A N/A N/A
2009 flu pandemic[217][218] 2009–2010 H1N1/09 10–200 million[219] 105,700–395,600[220] 0.03%[221] N/A
Seasonal flu[t 1] Every year mainly A/H3N2,A/H1N1, and B 5–15% (340–1000 million)[222] 290–650,000/year[223] <0.1%[224] N/A
  1. ^ Not necessarily pandemic, but included for comparison purposes.

The first influenza virus to be isolated was from poultry, when in 1901, the agent causing a disease called “fowl plague” was passed through Chamberland filters, which have pores that are too small for bacteria to pass through.[225] The etiological cause of influenza, the virus family Orthomyxoviridae, was first discovered in pigs by Richard Shope in 1931.[226] This discovery was shortly followed by the isolation of the virus from humans by a group headed by Patrick Laidlaw at the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom in 1933.[227] However, it was not until Wendell Stanley first crystallized tobacco mosaic virus in 1935 that the non-cellular nature of viruses was appreciated.

The main types of influenza viruses in humans. Solid squares show the appearance of a new strain, causing recurring influenza pandemics. Broken lines indicate uncertain strain identifications.[228]

The first significant step towards preventing influenza was the development in 1944 of a killed-virus vaccine for influenza by Thomas Francis, Jr. This built on work by Australian Frank Macfarlane Burnet, who showed that the virus lost virulence when it was cultured in fertilized hen’s eggs.[229] Application of this observation by Francis allowed his group of researchers at the University of Michigan to develop the first influenza vaccine, with support from the U.S. Army.[230] The Army was deeply involved in this research due to its experience of influenza in World War I, when thousands of troops were killed by the virus in a matter of months.[202] In comparison to vaccines, the development of anti-influenza drugs has been slower, with amantadine being licensed in 1966 and, almost thirty years later, the next class of drugs (the neuraminidase inhibitors) being developed.[231]

Society and culture

Influenza produces direct costs due to lost productivity and associated medical treatment, as well as indirect costs of preventative measures. In the United States, seasonal influenza is estimated to result in a total average annual economic cost of over $11 billion, with direct medical costs estimated to be over $3 billion annually.[232] It has been estimated that a future pandemic could cause hundreds of billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs.[233] However, the economic impacts of past pandemics have not been intensively studied, and some authors have suggested that the Spanish influenza actually had a positive long-term effect on per-capita income growth, despite a large reduction in the working population and severe short-term depressive effects.[234] Other studies have attempted to predict the costs of a pandemic as serious as the 1918 Spanish flu on the U.S. economy, where 30% of all workers became ill, and 2.5% were killed. A 30% sickness rate and a three-week length of illness would decrease the gross domestic product by 5%. Additional costs would come from medical treatment of 18 million to 45 million people, and total economic costs would be approximately $700 billion.[235]

Preventative costs are also high. Governments worldwide have spent billions of U.S. dollars preparing and planning for a potential H5N1 avian influenza pandemic, with costs associated with purchasing drugs and vaccines as well as developing disaster drills and strategies for improved border controls.[236] On 1 November 2005, United States President George W. Bush unveiled the National Strategy to Safeguard Against the Danger of Pandemic Influenza[233] backed by a request to Congress for $7.1 billion to begin implementing the plan.[237] Internationally, on 18 January 2006, donor nations pledged US$2 billion to combat bird flu at the two-day International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Influenza held in China.[238][239]

In an assessment of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic on selected countries in the Southern Hemisphere, data suggest that all countries experienced some time-limited and/or geographically isolated socio/economic effects and a temporary decrease in tourism most likely due to fear of 2009 H1N1 disease. It is still too early to determine whether the H1N1 pandemic has caused any long-term economic impacts.[240]

Research

Dr. Terrence Tumpey examining a laboratory-grown reconstruction of the 1918 Spanish flu virus in a biosafety level 3 environment.

Research on influenza includes studies on molecular virology, how the virus produces disease (pathogenesis), host immune responsesviral genomics, and how the virus spreads (epidemiology). These studies help in developing influenza countermeasures; for example, a better understanding of the body’s immune system response helps vaccine development, and a detailed picture of how influenza invades cells aids the development of antiviral drugs. One important basic research program is the Influenza Genome Sequencing Project, which was initiated in 2004 to create a library of influenza sequences and help clarify which factors make one strain more lethal than another, which genes most affect immunogenicity, and how the virus evolves over time.[241]

The sequencing of the influenza genome and recombinant DNA technology may accelerate the generation of new vaccine strains by allowing scientists to substitute new antigens into a previously developed vaccine strain.[242] Growing viruses in cell culture also promises higher yields, less cost, better quality and surge capacity.[243] Research on a universal influenza A vaccine, targeted against the external domain of the transmembrane viral M2 protein (M2e), is being done at the University of Ghent by Walter FiersXavier Saelens and their team[244][245][246] and has now successfully concluded Phase I clinical trials. There has been some research success towards a “universal flu vaccine” that produces antibodies against proteins on the viral coat which mutate less rapidly, and thus a single shot could potentially provide longer-lasting protection.[247][248][249]

A number of biologics, therapeutic vaccines and immunobiologics are also being investigated for treatment of infection caused by viruses. Therapeutic biologics are designed to activate the immune response to virus or antigens. Typically, biologics do not target metabolic pathways like anti-viral drugs, but stimulate immune cells such as lymphocytesmacrophages, and/or antigen-presenting cells, in an effort to drive an immune response towards a cytotoxic effect against the virus. Influenza models, such as murine influenza, are convenient models to test the effects of prophylactic and therapeutic biologics. For example, lymphocyte T-cell immunomodulator inhibits viral growth in the murine model of influenza.[250]

Other animals

Influenza infects many animal species, and transfer of viral strains between species can occur. Birds are thought to be the main animal reservoirs of influenza viruses.[251] Most influenza strains are believed to have originated after humans began their intensive domestication of animals about 10,000 years ago.[252] Sixteen forms of hemagglutinin and nine forms of neuraminidase have been identified. All known subtypes (HxNy) are found in birds, but many subtypes are endemic in humans, dogshorses, and pigs; populations of camelsferretscatssealsmink, and whales also show evidence of prior infection or exposure to influenza.[61] Variants of flu virus are sometimes named according to the species the strain is endemic in or adapted to. The main variants named using this convention are: bird fluhuman fluswine fluhorse flu and dog flu. (Cat flu generally refers to feline viral rhinotracheitis or feline calicivirus and not infection from an influenza virus.) In pigs, horses and dogs, influenza symptoms are similar to humans, with cough, fever and loss of appetite.[61] The frequency of animal diseases are not as well-studied as human infection, but an outbreak of influenza in harbor seals caused approximately 500 seal deaths off the New England coast in 1979–1980.[253] However, outbreaks in pigs are common and do not cause severe mortality.[61] Vaccines have also been developed to protect poultry from avian influenza. These vaccines can be effective against multiple strains and are used either as part of a preventative strategy, or combined with culling in attempts to eradicate outbreaks.[254]

Bird flu

Flu symptoms in birds are variable and can be unspecific.[255] The symptoms following infection with low-pathogenicity avian influenza may be as mild as ruffled feathers, a small reduction in egg production, or weight loss combined with minor respiratory disease.[256] Since these mild symptoms can make diagnosis in the field difficult, tracking the spread of avian influenza requires laboratory testing of samples from infected birds. Some strains such as Asian H9N2 are highly virulent to poultry and may cause more extreme symptoms and significant mortality.[257] In its most highly pathogenic form, influenza in chickens and turkeys produces a sudden appearance of severe symptoms and almost 100% mortality within two days.[258] As the virus spreads rapidly in the crowded conditions seen in the intensive farming of chickens and turkeys, these outbreaks can cause large economic losses to poultry farmers.

An avian-adapted, highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 (called HPAI A(H5N1), for “highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1”) causes H5N1 flu, commonly known as “avian influenza” or simply “bird flu”, and is endemic in many bird populations, especially in Southeast Asia. This Asian lineage strain of HPAI A(H5N1) is spreading globally. It is epizootic (an epidemic in non-humans) and panzootic (a disease affecting animals of many species, especially over a wide area), killing tens of millions of birds and spurring the culling of hundreds of millions of other birds in an attempt to control its spread. Most references in the media to “bird flu” and most references to H5N1 are about this specific strain.[259][260]

HPAI A(H5N1) is an avian disease and there is no evidence suggesting efficient human-to-human transmission of HPAI A(H5N1). In almost all cases, those infected have had extensive physical contact with infected birds.[261] H5N1 may mutate or reassort into a strain capable of efficient human-to-human transmission. The exact changes that are required for this to happen are not well understood.[262] Due to the high lethality and virulence of H5N1, its endemic presence, and its large and increasing biological host reservoir, the H5N1 virus was the world’s pandemic threat in the 2006–07 flu season, and billions of dollars are being raised and spent researching H5N1 and preparing for a potential influenza pandemic.[236]

Chinese inspectors on an airplane, checking passengers for fevers, a common symptom of swine flu

In March 2013, the Chinese government reported three cases of H7N9 influenza infections in humans. Two of whom had died and the third was critically ill. Although the strain of the virus is not thought to spread efficiently between humans,[263][264] by mid-April, at least 82 persons had become ill from H7N9, of which 17 had died. These cases include three small family clusters in Shanghai and one cluster between a neighboring girl and boy in Beijing, raising at least the possibility of human-to-human transmission. WHO points out that one cluster did not have two of the cases lab confirmed and further points out, as a matter of baseline information, that some viruses are able to cause limited human-to-human transmission under conditions of close contact but are not transmissible enough to cause large community outbreaks.[265][266][267]

Swine flu

In pigs swine influenza produces fever, lethargy, sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing and decreased appetite.[268] In some cases the infection can cause abortion. Although mortality is usually low, the virus can produce weight loss and poor growth, causing economic loss to farmers.[268] Infected pigs can lose up to 12 pounds of body weight over a 3- to 4-week period.[268] Direct transmission of an influenza virus from pigs to humans is occasionally possible (this is called zoonotic swine flu). In all, 50 human cases are known to have occurred since the virus was identified in the mid-20th century, which have resulted in six deaths.[269]

In 2009, a swine-origin H1N1 virus strain commonly referred to as “swine flu” caused the 2009 flu pandemic, but there is no evidence that it is endemic to pigs (i.e. actually a swine flu) or of transmission from pigs to people; instead, the virus spreads from person to person.[270][271] This strain is a reassortment of several strains of H1N1 that are usually found separately, in humansbirds, and pigs.[272]

References…

Further reading

External links

Classification
External resources

 

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By Andrew Duehren

 

Senate Republicans rejected Democrats’ demands to call new witnesses and documents in President Trump’s impeachment trial, clearing the way for an acquittal on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges next week.

The 51-49 vote late Friday afternoon represented a major victory for Republican leadership, which has sought to complete the trial as quickly as possible and avoid testimony that could be politically damaging. Democrats had spent weeks calling for the Senate to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton and other officials, seeking testimony about Mr. Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit him politically.

Two Republicans, Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, joined every Democrat to vote for the Senate to call in new witnesses. The GOP controls 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats.

Under a separate resolution that Republicans approved along party lines, the impeachment trial will break for the weekend and resume Monday at 11 a.m. EST for four hours of arguments. After those arguments, the trial will adjourn again, giving senators the opportunity to speak on the floor about the charges before returning for a vote on the articles of impeachment at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Democrats shortly after the vote on witnesses suggested that any acquittal of Mr. Trump would be tainted.

“America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to the responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) told reporters. Democrats also offered a series of amendments to the rules again calling for evidence and each failed.

Democratic hopes to extend the trial were dashed in the final 24 hours before the vote, when two Republicans who were on the fence about new evidence said they would oppose the motion. Late Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said he believed the president acted improperly but that his actions didn’t rise to impeachable conduct. And on Friday, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she didn’t “believe the continuation of this process will change anything.”

The two announcements sealed the motion’s fate.

The delay until next week will place Mr. Trump’s fate in an unusual procedural purgatory. While he is all but certain to be cleared of impeachable offenses in the Republican-controlled Senate, he may have to wait days before an official acquittal, during a hectic time in U.S. politics.

Voters in Iowa will caucus on Monday in the first contest of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, in which several members of the Senate are competing, and Mr. Trump is set to give his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Republicans said holding the vote on Wednesday was the easiest way to reach the preordained conclusion without a time-consuming procedural battle with Democrats.

“The outcome is certain but the pain and suffering are optional. We decided to eliminate as much of the optional pain and suffering as possible,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.)

“It’s a fait accompli,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said. “We know how it’s going to turn out.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) called the president before he introduced the resolution setting the vote for Wednesday, said a person familiar with the matter, and Mr. Trump signed off on it.

One idea floated at a closed-door GOP meeting late Friday was that if the final impeachment vote is delayed until Wednesday, Mr. Trump could request to move the date of his State of the Union until after that vote, two people familiar with the matter said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) would need to formally extend an invitation for a new date.

While a simple majority was necessary to consider more evidence, two-thirds of the Senate would be needed to vote to convict Mr. Trump for him to be removed from office.

The question of bringing in new evidence was at the heart of the nine days of arguments and questioning, pitting Democrats—who want to acquire additional material to bolster their case—against Republicans who have sought to quickly vote to acquit Mr. Trump.

In their final arguments on Friday, Democrats warned that moving forward with the trial without considering additional evidence could set a dangerous precedent for future attempts at Congressional investigations into the executive branch.

“This will set a new precedent, this will be cited in impeachment trials from this point until the end of history,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who served as the lead impeachment manager. “If the Senate allows President Trump’s obstruction to stand, it effectively nullifies the impeachment power. It will allow future presidents to decide whether they want their misconduct to be investigated or not.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with his chief of staff after Friday’s Senate vote. PHOTO:JACQUELYN MARTIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Republicans and White House lawyers sharply criticized Democratic demands for evidence in the Senate trial, arguing that House Democrats should have collected material when they were conducting the investigation in their chamber. Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin warned that the Senate should not “prolong matters further by trying to redo work that the House failed to do.”

Democrats pointed out that House committees issued 71 categories of document requests or subpoenas last year to the White House and other parts of the executive branch but that the White House blocked all of the requests.

Revelations last Sunday about Mr. Bolton’s unpublished book fueled efforts to open the trial to additional evidence. In leaked manuscript,

Mr. Bolton wrote that Mr. Trump told him he was freezing security aid to Ukraine until it opened investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and other matters. Mr. Bolton had said he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

The charge that Mr. Trump linked the hold on roughly $400 million in security aid this summer to opening investigations was at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. Mr. Trump has denied that the two were related, saying he held the aid to both investigate corruption in Ukraine and ensure other countries were contributing to its defense; he has called the impeachment case against him a partisan attack. The aid was released in September amid bipartisan complaints from Congress.

Mr. Trump and his allies have argued that it was corrupt for Mr. Biden during the Obama administration to seek the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had once investigated a Ukrainian gas company where Mr. Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board. Mr. Biden sought the prosecutor’s removal as part of a broad international effort to combat corruption in Ukraine. The Bidens have denied any wrongdoing. Hunter Biden has said it was poor judgment on his part to serve on the Burisma board, which paid him $50,000 a month, while his father was involved with Ukraine policy as vice president.

Testimony from Mr. Bolton is one piece of evidence Democrats have demanded in the Senate trial. They have also sought a trove of documents from the administration and the testimony of several other top administration officials, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

While the first article of impeachment accuses Mr. Trump of abusing his power when he requested the investigations, the second charges him of obstructing Congress when the administration didn’t turn over material to the House impeachment inquiry.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-impeachment-trial-senators-vote-on-witnesses-11580508468

 

https://www.bea.gov/news/2020/gross-domestic-product-fourth-quarter-and-year-2019-advance-estimate

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The Pronk Pops Show 1272, June 11, 2019, Story 1: President Trump vs. Creepy Sleepy Dummy 1% Biden vs. Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) (Booker, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, Harris, Klbuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren) — Videos — Story 2: Trump’s Political Pander to Corn Farmers With Enthanol Policy — Videos — Story 3: Stock Market Heading For Historic High — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump vs. Creepy Sleepy 1% Biden vs. Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) (Booker, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, Harris, Klbuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren) — Videos —

 

MENTALLY WEAK: President Trump SLAMS Joe Biden in BLISTERING News Conference

Trump calls Biden a ‘dummy’ as he heads to Iowa

Trump takes aim at Biden ahead of dueling Iowa rallies

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 36% who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing and 40% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -4. (see trends).

Regular updates are posted Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily email update).

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump’s job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports’ Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, please send e-mail to beth@rasmussenreports.com.

20-Jan-1705-May-1721-Aug-1706-Dec-1727-Mar-1812-Jul-1825-Oct-1819-Feb-1911-Jun-190%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%www.RasmussenReports.comTotal Approve (Trump)Total Approve (Obama)

-420-Jan-1705-May-1721-Aug-1706-Dec-1727-Mar-1812-Jul-1825-Oct-1819-Feb-1911-Jun-1910%20%30%40%50%60%www.RasmussenReports.comStrongly DisapproveStrongly Approve

Some readers wonder how we come up with our job approval ratings for the president since they often don’t show as dramatic a change as some other pollsters do. It depends on how you ask the question and whom you ask.

To get a sense of longer-term job approval trends for the president, Rasmussen Reports compiles our tracking data on a full month-by-month basis.

Rasmussen Reports has been a pioneer in the use of automated telephone polling techniques, but many other firms still utilize their own operator-assisted technology (see methodology).

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Results are also compiled on a full-week basis and crosstabs for full-week results are available for Platinum Members.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/prez_track_jun11

 

Right Direction or Wrong Track

40% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Monday, June 10, 2019

Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending June 6.

This week’s finding remains unchanged from a week ago. Prior to this, that number had been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December to 31% by the end of January. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama’s last full year in office.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from June 2-6, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/right_direction_wrong_track_jun10

 

Tldr: Biden leads in Iowa, but Buttigieg and Warren show strength

Our new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom’s new Iowa caucuses poll conducted by Selzer and Co. shows Joe Biden at 24%, Bernie Sanders at 16%, Elizabeth Warren at 15%, Pete Buttigieg at 14% and Kamala Harris at 7% among likely caucusgoers.

It’s the first high quality Iowa poll conducted since Biden entered the race and shows him in a tenuous position. Buttigieg and Warren are doing better than other polls in the state have suggested.

Sanders is not in great shape for someone with near universal name recognition.

Here are a few other takeaways from the poll:

  • This is our first poll taken that weighs in-person and virtual caucusgoers as 90% and 10% of the total respectively. This follows a rule change that allows for caucusgoers to vote virtually.
  • No candidate greatly seems to benefit from this change, though virtual caucusgoers are allotted fewer delegates (10%) than the expected percentage of caucusgoers who say they will virtually caucus at this point (28%).
  • It’s not just the topline that’s good for Buttigieg and Warren. Among those who can form an opinion of a given candidate, both are tied for the best very favorable rating among in-person caucusgoers.
  • Biden’s very favorable rating among caucusgoers is 34% among in-person caucusgoers, which actually trails Warren’s 38%.
  • A look back previous Democratic caucuses (1988, 2004 and 2008) with polling at this point similar to what it is now shows the eventual winner was ahead one of three times. This suggests we have a long way to go.

https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/cnn-poll-iowa-joe-biden-2020-democrats/index.html

 

Story 2: Trump’s Political Pander to Corn Farmers With Enthanol Subsidies and Mandates — End All Subsidies and Mandates — Videos

See the source image

President Trump visiting Iowa ethanol plant

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Farm State Senators Questioning the White House RFS Strategy

The RFS Hurts Small Businesses

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An Update on the Renewable Fuel Standard

Ten years of the Renewable Fuel Standard

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Pros and Cons of Ethanol in Motor Vehicle Gas Explored

Inconvenient Fact: Support for Ethanol Mandates Crumbling

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Trump Hearts Ethanol | The Ethanol Effect

 

Trump’s ethanol move delivers gift to corn country

Updated 

President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to expand sales of corn ethanol on Tuesday, delivering a gift to farm state Republicans a month before the midterm elections.

The move ends months of bitter behind-the-scenes fighting between corn backers and the oil industry over Trump’s calls to increase ethanol sales, and it could benefit Iowa’s Republican governor, who is trailing her Democratic challenger in the polls, as well as at least two Iowa House incumbents who are also vulnerable. But the oil industry’s most powerful trade group immediately said it will fight to block the action.

“We want to get more fuel into the system,” Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One to travel to a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “This is great for our farmers, and it’s a promise I made during the campaign, and as you know I keep my promises.”

EPA expects to finish a rule by the beginning of June to allow year-round sales of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol content, an increase over the 10 percent blends that are sold at most gas stations around the nation. The sale of the blends, known as “E15,” is currently prohibited during the summer months in several states because of Clean Air Act restrictions, and corn growers have long sought to expand sales of the higher concentrations.

“This is a big deal,” said Jeff Navin, a Democratic former aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and former chief of staff in the Obama administration’s Energy Department. “It’s not something that makes a front page of East and West Coast newspapers, but it’s something that farmers watch closely. I’m sure the political team and elected officials in Iowa told [Trump] he has to do something to staunch bleeding.”

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), along with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) joined Trump in the Oval Office for his announcement, which the White House did not publicly broadcast.

“This is a very good victory for agriculture, a very good victory for workers at our 50 ethanol plants in Iowa and other states. it’s a very good victory for the environment and everything about this is good, good, good,” Grassley said in a video posted on Instagram.

Trump has previously called for increased sales of ethanol, which consumes about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop. He strongly backed the biofuel during the 2016 campaign, a stance that appealed to Midwestern farmers who helped carry him to victory but who have been battered by his trade war and retaliatory tariffs from countries angry over his steel and aluminum tariffs.

But the U.S. oil industry has staunchly opposed increasing ethanol sales, and it has pressed for EPA and Congress to overhaul the federal biofuels mandate that Congress first created in 2005 to help reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. The mandate requires oil refiners to blend specified volumes of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supply, and to purchase biofuels credits that are traded in a market that has been plagued by fraud.

Trump has personally sought to mediate the dispute, which has pitted ethanol backers like Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has pressed the president to grant concessions to the oil industry. But despite a half dozen Oval Office meetings with Trump and several months of study by EPA and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, oil refiners will receive only modest changes in how regulators handle the biofuel credits.

“The president has repeatedly stated his support for the [ethanol program],” the White House official told reporters Monday. “He thinks that it’s good to have domestically produced energy here and he thinks it will be good for the agriculture industry as well as the economy overall.”

The oil industry had benefited from the more than two dozen waivers that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt granted to refineries that allowed them to ignore the mandate that they blend the corn-based fuel with gasoline. But that angered farm groups, who said it reduced the requirement for ethanol by billions of gallons.

Now, Trump may be trying to make it up to Iowans and come to the aid of a friendly governor before the 2020 Iowa caucuses. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who took the post after Gov. Terry Branstad became Trump’s ambassador to China, is currently trailing her Democratic challenger, businessman Fred Hubbell, by 3.5 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Trump has twice before promised to expand E15 sales, most recently in July, and Tuesday’s move was warmly welcomed by the industry.

“It’s hard to find the proper adjectives to describe how exciting it is to see year-round E15 move forward,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “We have worked non-stop on this issue for seven years while the unjustified restrictions hampered retailers from offering E15.”

Most U.S. gasoline sold in the U.S. is E10, meaning it contains 10 percent ethanol, though the 15 percent ethanol is sold by many retailers, particularly in big corn-producing states. Trump, who cannot change the policy through an executive order, has now ordered acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to issue a waiver to the rules specifically for E15 to allow year-round sales.

The White House sought to mollify refiners by ordering Wheeler to alter the trade of biofuels credits, called Renewable Identification Numbers, that oil processors must purchase to show they are complying with the law. Independent refiners have long looked for ways to lower the cost of compliance and to increase transparency in that market. The new measures include limiting the credit purchases to refiners and ethanol importers, as well as requiring individuals holding more than a certain number of credits to disclose their holdings publicly.

Refiners will also now have to prove compliance with the program quarterly rather than annually, and EPA will limit how long companies other than refiners and importers can hold credits.

“President Trump has made strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard an important priority of this administration,” EPA spokesman John Konkus said in a statement, referring to the ethanol program by its formal name. “He is fulfilling his promise by providing clear policy direction that will expand opportunities for our nation’s farmers, provide certainty to our refiners and bolster the United States’ role as a biofuels powerhouse. EPA will follow the president’s direction and proceed as expeditiously as practicable.”

Ethanol proponents say the rule will give gas station owners the incentive to install the equipment to sell the higher biofuel blends, which would increase sales of ethanol.

“We’re very excited to hear the president’s upcoming announcement,” Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol trade association, said in a statement. “He knows farmers are hurting and they want action on E15 in time for the next summer driving season. Year-round sales of E15 nationwide could deliver demand for two billion bushels of American corn and help restore growth in rural communities.”

Oil companies, who would prefer to see congressional efforts led by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) develop a comprehensive legislative overhaul to the mandate, believe Trump’s new policy is “wrongheaded” and the transparency policies don’t compensate them enough.

“We just don’t think it rises to the significance of issuing the E15 waiver, and therefore it’s no deal at all, from our standpoint,” said Frank Macchiarola, vice president of downstream and operations for the American Petroleum Institute. “From a legal standpoint, we don’t think EPA has the authority to issue the E15 waiver, [and] we will aggressively be looking at all of our potential options moving forward with respect to challenging this decision.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/08/trump-ethanol-corn-831493

 

 

Time to Repeal Ethanol Subsidies

The federal government provides an array of subsidies to increase the consumption of biofuels such as corn ethanol. The subsidies include tax breaks, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. The government also imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuels.

A new study at DownsizingGovernment.org describes the damage caused by these policies. Subsidies and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) harm taxpayers, motorists, consumers, and the environment.

The study by Nicolas Loris argues that Congress should end its intervention in the biofuels industry. It should terminate subsidies and repeal the RFS. Individuals and markets can make more efficient and environmentally sound decisions regarding biofuels without subsidies and mandates.

Investor Carl Icahn said that the RFS has created a bureaucratic market in tradable credits full of “manipulation, speculation and fraud” with the potential to “destroy America’s oil refineries, send gasoline prices skyward and devastate the U.S. economy.”

That language is probably too strong, but federal ethanol policies really are stupid. President Trump says that he wants to cut unneeded regulations and wasteful subsidies. The RFS and biofuel hand-outs would be good policies to target.

So for an interesting read illustrating the craziness of special-interest policies in Washington, check out “Ethanol and Biofuel Policies.” The next time you are at the gas station and see that “E10” sticker on the pump, remember that a tag team of D.C. politicians and corn farmers are picking your pocket.

https://www.cato.org/blog/time-repeal-ethanol-subsidies

Downsizing the Federal Government

YOUR GUIDE TO CUTTING FEDERAL SPENDING

Ethanol and Biofuel Policies

  • Nicolas Loris
February 9, 2017

The federal government provides an array of subsidies to increase the consumption of biofuels such as corn ethanol. The subsidies include tax breaks, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. The government also imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuels. Biofuel supporters said that these policies would reduce gas prices, strengthen the economy, and benefit the environment, but none of those promises have turned out to be true.

The problem is not with the voluntary use of biofuels in the marketplace, but rather policies that mandate and subsidize biofuels. That top-down approach has harmed consumers, damaged the economy, and produced negative environmental effects. Even within the agricultural community, federal biofuel policies have adversely affected livestock producers and other businesses.

Congress should end its intervention in the biofuels industry. It should terminate subsidies and repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Individuals and markets can make more efficient and environmentally sound decisions regarding biofuels without subsidies and mandates.

What Are Biofuels?

Biofuels are derived from biological matter. Producers ferment sugar (sugarcane and sugar beets) and starch products (corn and potatoes) to create bioalcohols, and they ferment oilseed crops (soybeans and sunflower seeds) and animal fats to create biodiesel.

Ethanol, the most common biofuel, is mainly made from corn in the United States. Before federal subsidies and mandates were put in place, ethanol was already used as an additive to gasoline, allowing it to burn cleaner and more efficiently. The use of biofuels is not new, and it did not originally stem from government policies. A century ago, Henry Ford had planned for the Model T to run on ethanol, and Rudolf Diesel showcased a diesel engine that ran on peanut oil.1

Today, fuel suppliers mix biofuels into gasoline and diesel at blending stations. Most vehicles can handle gasoline blended with at most 10 percent ethanol (E10). In 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a blend of up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) for vehicles in model year 2001 and newer, but that mix is damaging to engines in older vehicles.2 Possible engine harm, automobile warranty concerns, and a lack of infrastructure have delayed adoption of E15.3 A further concern is that higher ethanol blends are harmful to the smaller engines in lawnmowers, motorcycles, and boats.4Another fuel blend is E85, which contains from 51 percent to 83 percent ethanol and is used in flexible-fuel vehicles.5

The federal government distinguishes between conventional (first-generation) biofuels and advanced (second-generation) biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol. Producers create advanced biofuels from nonfood parts of crops and other biomass such as leaves, switchgrass, algae, and woodchips. However, developing commercially viable fuel from these sources has proven to be very difficult.

Federal Biofuel Policies

The federal government has supported biofuels for decades. Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses have put in place a variety of subsidies—including tax credits, import tariffs, grants, loans, and mandates—to increase the production, sale, and use of biofuels.

In response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, Congress passed the first ethanol tax credit in the Energy Tax Act of 1978. Later legislation, including the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, and the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, introduced or expanded subsidies for biofuels. Farm bills in 2002, 2008, and 2014 also added and expanded biofuel programs. Today, there are at least 11 different federal subsidy programs for biofuels providing loans, grants, and other benefits.6

However, the most important component of federal biofuel policy is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It mandates that billions of gallons of ethanol be blended into gasoline and diesel fuel each year. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated the sale of oxygenated fuels in some regions of the country, and that “kicked off the modern U.S. ethanol industry growth.”7 Then the Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated that increasing amounts of renewable fuels be mixed into America’s fuel supplies over time, primarily corn-based ethanol. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 greatly increased the mandated quantities.

Under the 2007 law, there must be 36 billion gallons of biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supplies by 2022. No more than 15 billion gallons of that can be corn-based ethanol, and 21 billion gallons must be from advanced biofuels. After 2022 the EPA is granted authority to set annual targets.

The RFS is causing major economic and compliance problems. One problem is that cellulosic biofuel is supposed to be 44 percent of the total mandate by 2022, but actual production of these advanced fuels is far below expectations and running into major technical setbacks.8 In 2017 production of cellulosic biofuel will be just 1.6 percent of the 19 billion gallons of the overall biofuels mandated under the RFS.9

A broad range of groups oppose the RFS mandate, including environmental groups, anti-poverty groups, most economists, energy companies, and many farm groups. The RFS is opposed by the National Chicken Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Milk Producers Council, and others.10It is also opposed by the American Petroleum Institute, National Resource Defense Council, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Environmental Working Group, and Oxfam.11

Despite the opposition, the biofuel lobbies have so far held sway in Congress. Over time, however, opposition to the RFS has increased as the negative economic, technical, and environmental effects have become more obvious. The RFS is a failed experiment. Congress should recognize its mistake before more damage is done and repeal the mandate.

Such a reform would not end the biofuels industry. Some biofuels are cost competitive with traditional fuels and make a useful addition to gasoline mixed in at small levels. In the year before the government mandated ethanol use, American companies produced more than 81 million barrels of ethanol.12 Used at a modest level, ethanol is a cost-effective oxygenate for gasoline, meaning an additive that improves efficiency and helps meet fuel emissions requirements. A study by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture estimated that with no RFS and no ethanol tax credit, demand for corn ethanol would have been 4.3 billion gallons in 2014, or about 30 percent of actual corn ethanol production that year.13

By ending federal subsidies and mandates, biofuels use would decline to efficient levels that maximized consumer benefits. Agriculture and food markets would benefit from the elimination of distortions that biofuel mandates are creating. The most competitive elements of the biofuels industry would survive and thrive in a free market.

The following sections discuss how current biofuels policies increase costs for drivers, raise food prices, and harm the environment.

Increase Costs for Drivers

Ethanol is not a good substitute for regular gasoline because it contains less energy. Ethanol has only two-thirds the energy content of regular gasoline.14 Drivers get fewer miles per gallon the higher the share of ethanol and other biofuels mixed into their tanks.

During times of high gas prices, ethanol may appear less expensive. But after adjusting for the energy content difference, higher concentrations of ethanol in fuel costs more. As an example, the national average price of regular gasoline in February 2016 was $1.71 per gallon and E85 was $1.52 per gallon.15 But adjusting for E85’s lower energy content pushed the price up to the equivalent of $1.99 per gallon at the time. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the overall energy content of fuel at the pump fell 3 percent between 1993 and 2013 as mandated ethanol use increased.16

The additional cost of ethanol varies depending on current ethanol and gasoline prices. But, in general, the higher the ethanol content, the lower is gas mileage, and the more drivers must spend to go the same distance. Motorists can spend hundreds of dollars more per year running common flexible-fuel vehicles on E85 instead of regular gasoline blended with E10.17

Raise Food Prices

Ethanol production uses a large share of America’s corn crop and diverts valuable crop land away from food production. The resulting increases in food prices have hurt both urban and rural families. Families with moderate incomes are particularly burdened by the higher food prices created by federal biofuel policies. Higher corn prices also hurt farmers and ranchers who use corn for animal feed. Higher food prices caused by biofuel policies also hurt low-income families in other countries that rely on U.S. food imports. U.S. corn accounts for more than half of the world’s corn exports.18

Almost 40 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop has been used for ethanol in recent years, up from about 13 percent when Congress mandated the original quota in 2005.19 The remaining 60 percent is used for food, animal feed, and exports. In 2012 the amount of corn used to produce ethanol in the United States exceeded the entire corn consumption of the continent of Africa and of any single country except China.20

The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that “increased corn prices draw land away from competing crops, raise input prices for livestock producers, and put moderate upward pressure on retail food prices.”21 These negative effects were particularly apparent during the 2012 drought in the United States, which destroyed crops, drove corn prices up 33 percent, and heightened concerns that the RFS was diverting food to fuel.22Since corn is an ingredient in many foods, and an important feedstock for animals, many in the food industry (from cattle and chicken farmers to restaurant associations) complained about the mandate’s effect on food prices.

In 2012 the governors of Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming petitioned the EPA for a waiver of the RFS in order to reduce corn prices, but the EPA denied the request.23 Yet according to a study by economists at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the drought’s impact on corn prices could have been “fully negated” by reducing the RFS by 23 percent that year.24

A number of studies have examined the link between biofuels policies and global food prices, as well as the adverse consequences on the world’s poorest citizens. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ActionAid, World Resources Institute, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Bank have all identified higher food prices as a negative effect of biofuel policies.25

The magnitude of the RFS’s effect on the prices of corn and other farm products is difficult to determine precisely, but the direction of the impact is clear. The RFS has increased demand for corn and pushed up prices. One study by University of California at Davis economists found that the RFS increases corn prices by 30 percent, while a Heritage Foundation study found the increase to be 68 percent.26 The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that economists “are nearly universally agreed that the strong, steady growth in ethanol demand for corn has had an important and sustained upward price effect, not just on the price of corn, but in other agricultural markets including food, feed, fuel, and land.”27

Proponents of the RFS and biofuel subsidies argue that the policies support economic growth in rural communities. Actually, the policies support corn growers at the expense of other rural industries such as livestock production, which use corn as animal feed.

In the future, biofuels may make more economic sense than they do today and become a preferred fuel choice by Americans in open markets. But current policies that mandate the increasing use of biofuels are imposing large costs on motorists, harming food consumers and livestock producers, and damaging the overall economy.

Harm the Environment

Supporters of biofuel subsidies and the RFS claim that the policies create environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But most evidence now indicates that biofuel policies do not reduce such emissions or benefit the environment overall.

Here are some of the factors to consider regarding biofuels and the environment:

  • Biofuel policies draw additional land into agricultural production. After accounting for this land-use conversion, the additional use of fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides, as well as the fossil fuels used for production and distribution, biofuel production is quite carbon intensive.28
  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that converting noncropland to production of corn ethanol released at least 17 times more emissions than the amount of reduced carbon dioxide emissions by the use of biofuels.29
  • University of Michigan Professor John DeCicco found that even without accounting for indirect land use changes, biofuels increase the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere compared to regular gasoline.30
  • Despite once hailing biofuels as a tool to mitigate climate change, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now acknowledges that biofuels policies negatively affect the lives of the poor, distort land use, and may have negative environmental consequences.31
  • A study by Iowa State University researchers concluded that the increased production of biofuels generated by government policies has led to environmental harm from the use of fertilizers and land-use conversion for agricultural production, which can result in increased soil erosion, sedimentation, and nitrogen and phosphorous runoff into lakes and streams.32

Ethanol does have benefits as a fuel additive to help gasoline burn more cleanly and efficiently. However, in a report to Congress on the issue, the EPA projected that nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, ground-level ozone, and ethanol-vapor emissions, among other pollutants, would increase at different points in the production and use of ethanol.33

Many types of agricultural production affect the natural environment, both positively and negatively. Almost all industrial output has some unwanted effects, whether air pollutants or discharges into water systems. But those effects are not a reason to eliminate market activities that generate net value overall. The problem with biofuel policies is that they are both harmful to the economy and they have negative environmental effects. Biofuel policies were sold as being “green,” but today’s high levels of subsidized biofuel use does not benefit the environment.

Renewable Fuel Standard

The RFS illustrates the folly of trying to centrally plan energy markets. Current rules require a steadily increasing share of biofuels in gasoline until 2022. In 2016 ethanol exceeded 10 percent of all U.S. gasoline sales for the first time. Petroleum refiners are now coming up against a “blend wall” such that further biofuel increases will begin causing harm to vehicle performance and damage to engines and catalytic converters.

The RFS is also a bureaucratic nightmare. The 2007 law created separate requirements for different classes of biofuels, including conventional, advanced, cellulosic, and biomass. It also created a greenhouse gas accounting system because each fuel generates different lifecycle emission amounts. There are special rules for crops on forested areas and federal land, and there are complex procedures for the EPA to follow in setting each year’s mandated amounts.

For fuel refiners, the RFS has created a complicated system of credits and credit trading. Each refiner in the United States must have a certain percentage of its domestic sales contain blended ethanol, called a renewable volume obligation (RVO).34 But refiners have an option to meet part of their requirement by buying credits rather than blending more ethanol. In order to track this, the EPA requires a renewable identification number (RIN) to account for the amount of biofuel reaching the market and to make sure refiners blend enough ethanol. Refiners can hold on to these credits to meet their RFS requirement or they can purchase RIN credits from other refiners. Different RIN prices exist for different forms of biofuels.

Since refineries now face the blend wall, increased trading for RIN credits has caused the price of the credits to spike from pennies previously to more than a dollar in 2013 and then back up to nearly a dollar in 2016.35 The system also generates abuse as refineries buy fake credits with made-up RINs. Investor Carl Icahn says that “RINs have turned into a $15 billion market full of manipulation, speculation and fraud.”36 A report by a former head of EPA’s criminal investigations, Doug Parker, found that fraud in the RINs market could be as high as $1 billion.37 Parker concluded that the RFS program was “a ripe target for massive fraud and illicit gain.”38

Overmandating—requiring the use of more ethanol than can be blended—and forcing the purchase of RINs, could cost consumers billions of dollars at the pump.39 The consulting firm NERA warned that attempting to hit the original RFS targets in 2022 would result in severe economic harm:

When the required biofuel volume standards are too severe, as with the statute scenario, the market becomes disrupted because there are an insufficient number of RINs to allow compliance. “Forcing” additional volumes of biofuels into the market beyond those that would be “absorbed” by the market based on economics alone at the levels required by the statute scenario will result in severe economic harm.40

Federal mandates to continually increase biofuel use make no sense partly because we do not know the overall level of fuel demand in the future. If fuel demand is flat due to higher vehicle fuel efficiency, the blend wall problem will persist. Flexible-fuel vehicles capable of using E85 offer little economic relief for the blend wall. Demand for these vehicles is very low, and drivers who own flexible-fuel vehicles often fill their tanks with E10 because the energy content is higher than E85.

Proponents of the RFS pointed to oil price volatility as a reason to support federal policies. But in free markets there is nothing wrong with energy price changes, which work to balance supplies and demands. Besides, the passage of the RFS has done little to curb the effects of oil price volatility. And furthermore, ethanol is subject to its own price volatility. As CRS noted of a 2008 price spike, “The experience of $7.00-per-bushel corn, albeit temporary, shattered the idea that biofuels were a panacea for solving the nation’s energy security problems and left concerns about the potential for unintended consequences from future biofuels expansion.”41

While corn-based ethanol has kept up with mandates so far, the production of other biofuels has not. The production of cellulosic ethanol, made from nonfood sources, is nowhere near meeting targets, even though the RFS mandates 16 billion gallons to be used by 2022. High capital costs and difficulty in scaling up cellulosic biofuel conversion plants have prevented advanced biofuels from becoming economically viable.

The EPA has had to reduce Congress’s original annual quotas for cellulosic ethanol because not enough was available on the market. The EPA adjusted Congress’s first cellulosic target from 100 million gallons in 2010 to just 6.5 million. However, even the adjusted mandate was a stretch compared with reality; in fact, zero gallons were produced that year and the following one.42 For 2017 the EPA has set the target for cellulosic ethanol at 311 million gallons and total advanced biofuels at 4.28 billion gallons.43

Refiners have had to pay millions of dollars in waiver credits or surcharges for failure to comply with the EPA’s minimum volume requirements. Refiners pass these costs onto consumers. In January 2013 the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology,” and that the RFS target was an “unreasonable exercise of agency discretion.”44 It vacated the cellulosic ethanol requirement required by the RFS for the year 2012. The EPA has since proposed future cellulosic mandates that are equally out of touch with market realities.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2016 that the RFS was creating big winners and big losers among companies because of the buying and selling of RINs:

Environmental regulations designed to boost the amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply have inadvertently become a multibillion-dollar windfall for some of the world’s biggest oil companies.

Companies including Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and BP PLC could reap a total of more than $1 billion this year by selling the renewable fuel credits associated with the ethanol program…

For other companies, especially smaller refiners, the rules have had the opposite effect, forcing them to spend hundreds of millions to buy credits to comply.45

Carl Icahn, who is a part owner of a refinery that is bearing heavy costs, complained that “a shadowy, unregulated trade in electronic credits called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) threatens to destroy America’s oil refineries, send gasoline prices skyward and devastate the U.S. economy.”46 Icahn wants policymakers to reform the RFS, but for all the reasons discussed here, it should be completely repealed.

Policy Reforms  

The political tide is turning against ethanol and biofuels as more experts and policymakers are recognizing the shortcomings of federal policies. Biofuel policies promised a lot of benefits, but they have delivered more harm than good. While some farmers and agribusinesses gained, taxpayers, motorists, food consumers, livestock producers, and the environment have been harmed. Furthermore, the federal mandate is generating vast bureaucracy, imposing major losses on some refiners, and generating widespread fraud and abuse.

The administration should work with Congress to:

  • Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Biofuels existed before the RFS, and biofuels would remain after repealing it to the extent that they were economically viable. Repealing the mandate would create a more efficient biofuels market based on entrepreneurial initiative rather than government dependence.
  • Eliminate biofuels subsidy programs. Congress should repeal all the biofuels spending programs that have been included in farm bills and other bills, including grant and loan programs.
  • Allow producers and consumers to drive innovation. Make broad reforms to the energy sector to level the playing field between producers, fuels, and technologies. Congress should allow consumers to choose their favored fuels for transportation and other uses within open and competitive markets.

 


Nicolas Loris is an economist at the Heritage Foundation.

https://www.downsizinggovernment.org/ethanol-and-biofuel-policies

Ethanol fuel in the United States

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Blender fuels pump in 2012 selling the standard E10 ethanol blend together with E15, E30 and E85 in East Lansing, Michigan

Ethanol fuel production by state

The United States became the world’s largest producer of ethanol fuel in 2005. The U.S. produced 13.9 billion U.S. liquid gallons (52.6 billion liters) of ethanol fuel in 2011,[1] an increase from 13.2 billion U.S. liquid gallons (49.2 billion liters) in 2010, and up from 1.63 billion gallons in 2000.[2] Brazil and U.S. production accounted for 87.1% of global production in 2011.[1] In the U.S, ethanol fuel is mainly used as an oxygenate in gasoline in the form of low-level blends up to 10 percent, and to an increasing extent, as E85 fuel for flex-fuel vehicles.[3]

The ethanol market share in the U.S. gasoline supply grew by volume from just over 1 percent in 2000 to more than 3 percent in 2006 to 10 percent in 2011.[1][4][5] Domestic production capacity increased fifteen times after 1990, from 900 million US gallons to 1.63 billion US gal in 2000, to 13.5 billion US gallons in 2010.[4][6] The Renewable Fuels Association reported 209 ethanol distilleries in operation located in 29 states in 2011, and 140 under construction or expansion as of December 2011, that upon completion, would bring U.S. total installed capacity to 15.0 billion US gallons. Most expansion projects are aimed to update the refinery’s technology to improve ethanol production, energy efficiency, and the quality of the livestock feed they produce.[1]

By 2011 most cars on U.S. roads could run on blends of up to 10% ethanol(E10), and manufacturers had begun producing vehicles designed for much higher percentages. However, the fuel systems of cars, trucks, and motorcycles sold before the ethanol mandate may suffer substantial damage from the use of 10% ethanol blends. Flexible-fuel cars, trucks, and minivans use gasoline/ethanol blends ranging from pure gasoline up to 85% ethanol (E85). By early 2013 there were around 11 million E85-capable vehicles on U.S. roads.[7][8] Regular use of E85 is low due to lack of fueling infrastructure, but is common in the Midwest.[9][10] In January 2011 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a waiver to allow up to 15% of ethanol blended with gasoline (E15) to be sold only for cars and light pickup trucks with a model year of 2001 or later. The EPA waiver authorizes, but does not require stations to offer E15. Like the limitations suffered by sales of E85, commercialization of E15 is constrained by the lack of infrastructure as most fuel stations do not have enough pumps to offer the new E15 blend, few existing pumps are certified to dispense E15, and no dedicated tanks are readily available to store E15.[11][12][13]

Ethanol production was expected to continue to grow over the next several years, since the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required 36 billion US gallons of renewable fuel use by 2022. The target for ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks was 16 billion US gallons a year. The corn ethanol target was 15 billion US gallons by 2015.[14][15] Ethanol industries provided jobs in agriculture, construction, operations and maintenance, mostly in rural communities.[16]

In early 2009 the industry experienced financial stress due to the effects of the economic crisis of 2008. Motorists drove less, gasoline prices dropped sharply, capacity rose and less financing was available.[17][18][19]

Historically most U.S. ethanol has come from corn and the required electricity for many distilleries came mainly from coal. Debate ensued about ethanol’s sustainability. The primary issues related to the large amount of arable land required for crops and ethanol production’s impact on grain supplyindirect land use change (ILUC) effects, as well as issues regarding its energy balance and carbon intensity considering its full life cycle.[20][21][22][23][24][25] Recent developments with cellulosic ethanol production and commercialization may allay some of these concerns.[26]

Contents

History

Typical label at the gas pumps warning drivers of ethanol content up to 10%, used as oxygenate additive instead of MTBEMiamiFlorida.

In 1826 Samuel Morey experimented with an internal combustion chemical mixture that used ethanol (combined with turpentine and ambient air then vaporized) as fuel. At the time, his discovery was overlooked, mostly due to the success of steam power. Ethanol fuel received little attention until 1860 when Nicholas Otto began experimenting with internal combustion engines. In 1859, oil was found in Pennsylvania, which decades later provided a new kind of fuel. A popular fuel in the U.S. before petroleum was a blend of alcohol and turpentine called “camphene“, also known as “burning fluid.”[citation needed] The discovery of a ready supply of oil and unfavorable taxation on burning fluid made kerosene a more popular fuel.

In 1896, Henry Ford designed his first car, the “Quadricycle” to run on pure ethanol.[27] In 1908, the revolutionary Ford Model T was capable of running on gasolineethanol or a combination.[27][28][29] Ford continued to advocate for ethanol fuel even during the prohibition, but lower prices caused gasoline to prevail.[27]

Typical manufacture’s warning placed in the fuel filler of U.S. vehicles regarding the capability of using up to E10, and warning against the use of blends between E20 and E85.

Gasoline containing up to 10% ethanol began a decades-long growth in the United States in the late 1970s. The demand for ethanol produced from field corn was spurred by the discovery that methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) was contaminating groundwater.[27][30] MTBE’s use as an oxygenate additive was widespread due to mandates in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1992 to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. MTBE in gasoline had been banned in almost 20 states by 2006. Suppliers were concerned about potential litigation and a 2005 court decision denying legal protection for MTBE.[citation needed] MTBE’s fall from grace opened a new market for ethanol, its primary substitute.[27] Corn prices at the time were around US$2 a bushel.[citation needed] Farmers saw a new market and increased production. This demand shift took place at a time when oil prices were rising.

The steep growth in twenty-first century ethanol consumption was driven by federal legislation aimed to reduce oil consumption and enhance energy security. The Energy Policy Act of 2005required use of 7.5×109 US gal (28×106 m3) of renewable fuel by 2012, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 raised the standard, to 36×109 US gal (140×106 m3) of annual renewable fuel use by 2022. Of this requirement, 21×109 US gal (79×106 m3) had to be advanced biofuels, defined as renewable fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%.[15][31][32]

Recent trends

U.S. fuel ethanol
production and imports
(2000–2011)[1][33]
(Millions of U.S. liquid gallons)
Year Production Imports Demand
2000 1,630 n/a n/a
2001 1,770 n/a n/a
2002 2,130 46 2,085
2003 2,800 61 2,900
2004 3,400 161 3,530
2005 3,904 135 4,049
2006 4,855 653 5,377
2007 6,500 450 6,847
2008 9,000 556 9,637
2009 10,600 193 10,940
2010 13,230 10 13,184
2011 13,900 160 n/a(1)
Note: Demand figures includes stocks change and
small exports in 2005.
(1) Exports in 2011 reached a record 1,100 billion gal.[1]

Graph of monthly production and net imports of fuel ethanol in the U.S. 1993–2012. Data from EIA

The world’s top ethanol fuel producer in 2010 was the United States with 13.2 billion U.S. gallons (49.95 billion liters) representing 57.5% of global production, followed by Brazil with 6.92 billion U.S. gallons (26.19 billion liters), and together both countries accounted for 88% of the world production of 22.95 billion U.S. gallons (86.85 billion liters).[2] By December 2010 the U.S. ethanol production industry consisted of 204 plants operating in 29 states,[4][6] and 9 plants under construction or expansion, adding 560 million gallons of new capacity and bringing total U.S. installed capacity to 14.6 billion U.S. gallons (55.25 billion liters).[6] At the end of 2010 over 90 percent of all gasoline sold in the U.S. was blended with ethanol.[4]

Production[edit]

Most of the ethanol consumed in the US is in the form of low blends with gasoline up to 10%. Shown a fuel pump in Maryland selling mandatory E10.

Beginning in late 2008 and early 2009, the industry came under financial stress due to that year’s economic crisis. Motorists drove less and gasoline prices dropped sharply, while bank financing shrank.[17][18][19] As a result, some plants operated below capacity, several firms closed plants, others laid off staff, some firms went bankrupt, plant projects were suspended and market prices declined.[17][18][19] The Energy Information Administration raised concerns that the industry would not meet the legislated targets.[17][34]

As of 2011, most of the U.S. car fleet was able to run on blends of up to 10% ethanol, and motor vehicle manufacturers produced vehicles designed to run on more concentrated blends. As of 2015, seven states – MissouriMinnesotaLouisianaMontanaOregonPennsylvania, and Washington – required ethanol to be blended with gasoline in motor fuels.[35] These states, particularly Minnesota, had more ethanol usage, and according to a source at Washington University, these states accumulated substantial environmental and economic benefits as a result.[36] Florida required ethanol blends as of the end of 2010,[37] but has since repealed it. Many cities had separate ethanol requirements due to non-attainment of federal air quality standards.[38] In 2007, Portland, Oregon, became the first U.S. city to require all gasoline sold within city limits to contain at least 10% ethanol.[39][40] Chicago has proposed the idea of mandating E15 in the city limits, while some area gas stations have already begun offering it.[41][42]

Expanding ethanol (and biodiesel) industries provided jobs in plant construction, operations, and maintenance, mostly in rural communities. According to RFA the ethanol industry created almost 154,000 U.S. jobs in 2005, boosting household income by $5.7 billion. It also contributed about $3.5 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.[16]

The return on investment (ROI) to upgrade a service station to sell E15 is quick given today’s markets. Given ethanol’s discount to gasoline and the current value of RINs, retailers offering mid-level ethanol blends like E15 can quickly recoup their investments in infrastructure. Federal, state and local incentives and grant programs are available in most areas, and would further help reduce the cost of equipment and installation. E15 is a higher octane fuel, it is currently available in 29 states at retail fueling stations. E15 was approved for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012.

E85 vehicles

Typical labeling used in the US to identifyE85 flexible-fuel vehicles. Top left: a small sticker in the back of the fuel filler door. Bottom left: the bright yellow gas cap used in newer models. E85 Flexfuel badging used in newer models from Chrysler (top right), Ford(middle right) and GM (bottom right).

E85 fuel dispenser at a regular gasoline station, Washington, D.C..

FordChrysler, and GM are among many automobile companies that sell flexible-fuel vehicles that can run blends ranging from pure gasoline to 85% ethanol (E85), and beginning in 2008 almost any type of automobile and light duty vehicle was available with the flex-fuel option, including sedansvansSUVs and pickup trucks. By early 2013, about 11 million E85 flex-fuel cars and light trucks were in operation,[7][8] though actual use of E85 fuel was limited, because the ethanol fueling infrastructure was limited.[43]

As of 2005, 68% of American flex-fuel car owners were not aware they owned an E85 flex.[9][10] Flex and non-flex vehicles looked the same. There was no price difference. American automakers did not label these vehicles.[10][44] In contrast, all Brazilian automakers clearly labeled FFVs with text that was some variant of the word Flex. Beginning in 2007 many new FFV models in the US featured a yellow gas cap to remind drivers of the E85 capabilities.[45][46] As of 2008, GM badged its vehicles with the text “Flexfuel/E85 Ethanol”.[47][48] Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimated that in 2009 only 504,297 flex-fuel vehicles were regularly fueled with E85, and these were primarily fleet-operated vehicles.[49] As a result, only 712 million gallons were used for E85, representing just 1% of that year’s ethanol consumption.[50]

During the decade following 2000, E85 vehicles became increasingly common in the Midwest, where corn was a major crop.

Fueling infrastructure has been a major restriction hampering E85 sales.[43] As of March 2013, there were 3,028 fueling stations selling E85 in the U.S.[14] Most stations were in the Corn Belt states. As of 2008 the leading state was Minnesota with 353 stations, followed by Illinois with 181, and Wisconsin with 114. About another 200 stations that dispensed ethanol were restricted to city, state and federal government vehicles.[43]

E15 blend[edit]

E15 warning sticker required to be displayed in all fuel dispensers selling that blend in the U.S.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid fuel filler cap showing a warning regarding the maximum ethanol blend allowed by the carmaker, up to E10 gasoline. The warning label indicates that ethanol blends between E15 to E85 shall not be used in this vehicle.

In March 2009 Growth Energy, a lobbying group for the ethanol industry, formally requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the ethanol content in gasoline to be increased to 15%, from 10%.[51] In October 2010, the EPA granted a waiver to allow up to 15% blends to be sold for cars and trucks with a model year of 2007 or later, representing about 15% of vehicles on the roads.[11][12] In January 2011 the waiver was expanded to authorize use of E15 to include model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles. The EPA also decided not to grant any waiver for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver. According to the Renewable Fuels Association the E15 waivers now cover 62% of vehicles on the road in the country.[13][52] In December 2010 several groups, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, filed suit against the EPA in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[53] In August 2012 the federal appeals court rejected the suit against the EPA ruling that the groups did not have legal standing to challenge EPA’s decision to issue the waiver for E15.[54][55] In June 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from industry groups opposed to the EPA ruling about E15, and let the 2012 federal appeals court ruling stand.[56]

According to a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 2012, only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the U.S. roads in 2012 are approved by manufacturers are fully compliant with E15 gasoline. According with the Association, BMWChryslerNissanToyota, and Volkswagen warned that their warranties will not cover E15-related damage.[57] Despite the controversy, in order to adjust to EPA regulations, 2012 and 2013 model year vehicles manufactured by General Motors can use fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol, as indicated in the vehicle owners’ manuals. However, the carmaker warned that for model year 2011 or earlier vehicles, they “strongly recommend that GM customers refer to their owners manuals for the proper fuel designation for their vehicles.” Ford Motor Company also is manufacturing all of its 2013 vehicles E15 compatible, including hybrid electrics and vehicles with Ecoboost engines.[8] Also Porsches built since 2001 are approved by its manufacturer to use E15.[57] Volkswagen announced that for the 2014 model year, its entire lineup will be E15 capable.[58] Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced in August 2015 that all 2016 model year Chrysler/FiatJeepDodge and Ram vehicles will be E15 compatible.[59]

Despite EPA’s waiver, there is a practical barrier to the commercialization of the higher blend due to the lack of infrastructure, similar to the limitations suffered by sales of E85, as most fuel stations do not have enough pumps to offer the new blend, few existing pumps are certified to dispense E15, and there are no dedicated tanks readily available to store E15.[11][12] In July 2012 a fueling station in Lawrence, Kansas became the first in the U.S. to sell the E15 blend. The fuel is sold through a blender pump that allows customers to choose between E10, E15, E30 or E85, with the latter blends sold only to flexible-fuel vehicles.[60] This station was followed by a Marathon fueling station in East Lansing, Michigan.[citation needed] As of June 2013, there are about 24 fueling stations selling E15 out of 180,000 stations operating across the U.S.[56]

As of November 2012, sales of E15 are not authorized in California, and according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the blend is still awaiting approval, and in a public statement the agency said that “it would take several years to complete the vehicle testing and rule development necessary to introduce a new transportation fuel into California’s market.”[61]

Legislation and regulations

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, directed DOE to assess the feasibility of using intermediate ethanol blends in the existing vehicle fleet.[62] The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) evaluated the potential impacts on legacy vehicles and other engines.[62] In a preliminary report released in October 2008, NREL described the effects of E10, E15 and E20 on tailpipe and evaporative emissions, catalyst and engine durability, vehicle driveability, engine operability, and vehicle and engine materials.[62][63] This preliminary report found that none of the vehicles displayed a malfunction indicator light; no fuel filter plugging symptoms were observed; no cold start problems were observed at 24 °C (75 °F) and 10 °C (50 °F) under laboratory conditions; and all test vehicles exhibited a loss in fuel economy proportional to ethanol’s lower energy density. For example, E20 reduced average fuel economy by 7.7% when compared to gas-only (E0) test vehicles.[62]

The Obama Administration set the goal of installing 10,000 blender pumps nationwide by 2015. These pumps can dispense multiple blends including E85, E50, E30 and E20 that can be used by E85 vehicles. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a rule in May 2011 to include flexible fuel pumps in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This ruling provided financial assistance, via grants and loan guarantees, to fuel station owners to install E85 and blender pumps.[64][65]

In May 2011 the Open Fuel Standard Act (OFS) was introduced to Congress with bipartisan support. The bill required that 50 percent of automobiles made in 2014, 80 percent in 2016, and 95 percent in 2017, be manufactured and warrantied to operate on non-petroleum-based fuels, which included existing technologies such as flex-fuel, natural gashydrogenbiodieselplug-in electric and fuel cell. Considering the rapid adoption of flexible-fuel vehicles in Brazil and the fact that the cost of making flex-fuel vehicles was approximately $100 per car, the bill’s primary objective was to promote a massive adoption of flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on ethanol or methanol fuel.[66][67][68]

In November 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency opened for public comment its proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol required in the US gasoline supply as mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The agency cited problems with increasing the blend of ethanol above 10%. This limit, known as the “blend wall,” refers to the practical difficulty in incorporating increasing amounts of ethanol into the transportation fuel supply at volumes exceeding those achieved by the sale of nearly all gasoline as E10.[69][70]

Contractual restrictions

Gasoline distribution contracts in the United States generally have provisions that make offering E15 and E85 difficult, expensive, or even impossible. Such provisions include requirements that no E85 be sold under the gas station canopy, labeling requirements, minimum sales volumes, and exclusivity provisions. Penalties for breach are severe and often allow immediate termination of the agreement, cutting off supplies to retailers. Repayment of franchise royalties and other incentives is often required.[71]

Energy security

Ethanol fuel plant in West Burlington, Iowa.

One rationale for ethanol production in the U.S. is increased energy security, from shifting supply from oil imports to domestic sources.[31][72] Ethanol production requires significant energy, and current U.S. production derives most of that energy from domestic coal, natural gas and other non-oil sources.[73] Because in 2006, 66% of U.S. oil consumption was imported, compared to a net surplus of coal and just 16% of natural gas (2006 figures),[74] the displacement of oil-based fuels to ethanol produced a net shift from foreign to domestic U.S. energy sources.

Effect on gasoline prices

The effect of ethanol use on gasoline prices is the source of conflicting opinion from economic studies, further complicated by the non-market forces of tax credits, met and unmet government quotas, and the dramatic recent increase in domestic oil production.[75] According to a 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis, ethanol, and biofuel in general, does not materially influence the price of gasoline,[76] while a runup in the price of government mandated Renewable Identification Number credits has driven up the price of gasoline.[77] These in contrast to a May, 2012, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development study which showed a $0.29 to $1.09 reduction in per gallon gasoline price from ethanol use.[78]

The U.S. consumed 138.2×109 US gal (523×106 m3) of gasoline in 2008, blended with about 9.6×109 US gal (36×106 m3) of ethanol, representing a market share of almost 7% of supply by volume. Given its lower energy content, ethanol fuel displaced about 6.4×109 US gal (24×106 m3) of gasoline, representing 4.6 percent in equivalent energy units.[15]

The EPA announced in November, 2013, a reduction in mandated U.S. 2014 ethanol production, due to “market conditions.” [79][80]

Tariffs and tax credits

Since the 1980s until 2011, domestic ethanol producers were protected by a 54-cent per gallon import tariff, mainly intended to curb Brazilian sugarcane ethanol imports. Beginning in 2004 blenders of transportation fuel received a tax credit for each gallon of ethanol they mix with gasoline.[81][82] Historically, the tariff was intended to offset the federal tax credit that applied to ethanol regardless of country of origin.[83][84] Several countries in the Caribbean Basin imported and reprocessed Brazilian ethanol, usually converting hydrated ethanol into anhydrous ethanol, for re-export to the United States. They avoided the 2.5% duty and the tariff, thanks to the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and free trade agreements. This process was limited to 7% of U.S. ethanol consumption.[85]

As of 2011, blenders received a US$0.45 per gallon tax credit, regardless of feedstock; small producers received an additional US$0.10 on the first 15 million US gallons; and producers of cellulosic ethanol received credits up to US$1.01. Tax credits to promote the production and consumption of biofuels date to the 1970s. For 2011, credits were based on the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, and the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.[31]

A 2010 study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that in fiscal year 2009, biofuel tax credits reduced federal revenues by around US$6 billion, of which corn and cellulosic ethanol accounted for US$5.16 billion and US$50 million, respectively.

In 2010, CBO estimated that taxpayer costs to reduce gasoline consumption by one gallon were $1.78 for corn ethanol and $3.00 for cellulosic ethanol. In a similar way, and without considering potential indirect land use effects, the costs to taxpayers of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through tax credits were about $750 per metric ton of CO2-equivalent for ethanol and around $275 per metric ton for cellulosic ethanol.[31]

On June 16, 2011, the U.S. Congress approved an amendment to an economic development bill to repeal both the tax credit and the tariff, but this bill did not move forward.[81][82] Nevertheless, the U.S. Congress did not extend the tariff and the tax credit, allowing both to end on December 31, 2011.[86][87] Since 1980 the ethanol industry was awarded an estimated US$45 billion in subsidies.[86]

Feedstocks

Corn

Corn is the main feedstock used for producing ethanol fuel in the United States.[27][88] Most of the controversies surrounding U.S. ethanol fuel production and use is related to corn ethanol’s energy balance and its social and environmental impacts.[citation needed]

Cellulose

Cellulosic sources have the potential to produce a renewable, cleaner-burning, and carbon-neutral alternative to gasoline.[citation needed] In his State of the Union Address on January 31, 2006, President George W. Bush stated, “We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks or switchgrass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.”

On July 7, 2006, DOE announced a new research agenda for cellulosic ethanol. The 200-page scientific roadmap cited recent advances in biotechnology that could aid use of cellulosic sources. The report outlined a detailed research plan for additional technologies to improve production efficiency. The roadmap acknowledged the need for substantial federal loan guarantees for biorefineries.

The 2007 federal budget earmarked $150 million for the research effort – more than doubling the 2006 budget. DOE invested in enzymaticthermochemicalacid hydrolysis, hybrid hydrolysis/enzymatic, and other research approaches targeting more efficient and lower–cost conversion of cellulose to ethanol.

The first materials considered for cellulosic biofuel included plant matter from agricultural waste, yard waste, sawdust and paper. Professors R. Malcolm Brown Jr. and David Nobles, Jr. of the University of Texas at Austin developed cyanobacteria that had the potential to produce cellulose, glucose and sucrose, the latter two easily converted into ethanol. This offers the potential to create ethanol without plant matter.[citation needed]

Sugar

United States fuel ethanol
imports by country (2002–2007)[89]
(Millions of U.S. liquid gallons)
Country 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
Brazil 188.8 433.7 31.2 90.3 0
Jamaica 75.2 66.8 36.3 36.6 39.3
El Salvador 73.3 38.5 23.7 5.7 6.9
Trinidad and Tobago 42.7 24.8 10.0 0 0
Costa Rica 39.3 35.9 33.4 25.4 14.7

Producing ethanol from sugar is simpler than converting corn into ethanol. Converting sugar requires only a yeast fermentation process. Converting corn requires additional cooking and the application of enzymes. The energy requirement for sugar conversion is about half that for corn.[citation needed] Sugarcane produces more than enough energy to do the conversion with energy left over. A 2006 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report found that at market prices for ethanol, converting sugarcane, sugar beets and molasses to ethanol would be profitable.[90] As of 2008 researchers were attempting to breed new varieties adapted to U.S. soil and weather conditions, as well as to take advantage of cellulosic ethanol technologies to also convert sugarcane bagasse.[91][92]

U.S. sugarcane production occurs in FloridaLouisianaHawaii, and Texas. The first three plants to produce sugarcane-based ethanol were expected to go online in Louisiana by mid-2009. Sugar mills in LacassineSt. James and Bunkie were converted to sugarcane ethanol production using Colombian technology to enable profitable ethanol production. These three plants planned to produce 100×106 US gal (380×103 m3) of ethanol per year within five years.[92][93][94]

By 2009 two other sugarcane ethanol production projects were being developed in Kauai, Hawaii and Imperial Valley, California. The Hawaiian plant was projected to have a capacity of between 12–15 million US gallons (45×103–57×103 m3) a year and to supply local markets only, as shipping costs made competing in the continental US impractical. This plant was expected to go on line by 2010. The California plant was expected to produce 60×106 US gal (230×103 m3) a year and it was expected in 2011.[91]

Presidents George W. Bush and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during Bush’s visit to Brazil, March 2007.

In March 2007, “ethanol diplomacy” was the focus of President George W. Bush’s Latin American tour, in which he and Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, promoted the production and use of sugarcane ethanol throughout the Caribbean Basin. The two countries agreed to share technology and set international biofuel standards.[95] Brazilian sugarcane technology transfer was intended to permit various Central American, such as HondurasEl SalvadorNicaraguaCosta Rica and Panama, several Caribbean countries, and various Andean Countries tariff-free trade with the U.S., thanks to existing trade agreements. The expectation was that such countries would export to the United States in the short-term using Brazilian technology.[96]

In 2007, combined exports from Jamaica, El Salvador, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica to the U.S. reached a total of 230.5×106 US gal (873×103 m3) of sugarcane ethanol, representing 54.1% of imports. Brazil began exporting ethanol to the U.S. in 2004 and exported 188.8×106 US gal (715×103 m3) representing 44.3% of U.S. ethanol imports in 2007. The remaining imports that year came from Canada and China.[89]

Other feedstocks

Cheese wheybarleypotato waste, beverage waste, and brewery and beer waste have been used as feedstocks for ethanol fuel, but at a far smaller scale than corn and sugarcane ethanol, as plants using these feedstocks have the capacity to produce only 3 to 5 million US gallons (11×103 to 19×103 m3) per year.[88]

Comparison with Brazilian ethanol

Sugarcane ethanol has an energy balance 7 times greater than corn ethanol.[97] As of 2007, Brazilian distiller production costs were 22 cents per liter, compared with 30 cents per liter for corn-based ethanol.[98] Corn-derived ethanol costs 30% more because the corn starch must first be converted to sugar before distillation into alcohol.[83] However, corn-derived ethanol offers the ability to return 1/3 of the feedstock to the market as a replacement for the corn used in the form of Distillers Dried Grain.[27] Sugarcane ethanol production is seasonal: unlike corn, sugarcane must be processed into ethanol almost immediately after harvest.[99]

Comparison of key characteristics between
the ethanol industries in the United States and Brazil
Characteristic Brazil U.S. Units/comments
Main feedstock Sugar cane Corn Main cash crop for ethanol production, the US has less than 2% from other crops.
Total ethanol fuel production (2011)[1] 5,573 13,900 Million U.S. liquid gallons
Total arable land[100] 355 270 Million hectares. Only contiguous U.S., excludes Alaska.
Total area used for ethanol crop (2006)[27][100] 3.6
(1%)
10
(3.7%)
Million hectares (% total arable)
Productivity[27][97][100][101] 6,800–8,000 3,800–4,000 Ethanol yield (liter/hectare). Brazil is 727 to 870 gal/acre (2006), US is 321 to 424 gal/acre (2003–05)
Energy balance (input energy productivity)[27][27][83][102] 8.3 to 10.2 1.3 to 1.6 Ratio of the energy obtained from ethanol/energy expended in its production
Estimated greenhouse gas emission reduction[20][24][27] 86–90%(1) 10–30%(1)  % GHGs avoided by using ethanol instead of gasoline, using existing crop land, without ILUC effects.
EPA‘s estimated 2022 GHG reduction for RFS2.[103] 61%(2) 21% Average % GHGs change as compared to gasoline and considering direct and indirect land use change effects.
CARB‘s full life-cycle carbon intensity[21][104] 73.40 105.10(3) Grams of CO2 equivalent released per MJ of energy produced, includes indirect land use changes.[24]
Estimated payback time for greenhouse gas emission[22] 17 years(4) 93 years(4) Brazilian cerrado for sugar cane and US grassland for corn. Land use change scenarios by Fargione et al.[23]
Flexible-fuel vehicles produced/sold
(includes autos, light trucks and motorcycles)[105][106][107]
16.3 million 10 million All fleets as of December 2011. The Brazilian fleet includes 1.5 million flex fuel motorcycles.[108][109][110]
USDOE estimates that in 2009 only 504,297 flex-fuel vehicles were regularly fueled with E85 in the US.[49]
Ethanol fueling stations in the country 35,017
(100%)
2,749
(1.6%)
As % of total gas stations in the country. Brazil by December 2007,[111] U.S. by May 2011.[14] (170,000 total.[44])
Ethanol’s share within the gasoline market[5][112][113][114] 50%(5) 10% As % of total consumption on a volumetric basis. Brazil as of April 2008. U.S. as of December 2010.
Cost of production (USD/US gallon)[97] 0.83 1.14 2006/2007 for Brazil (22¢/liter), 2004 for U.S. (35¢/liter)
Notes: (1) Assuming no land use change.[24] (2) Estimate is for U.S. consumption and sugarcane ethanol is imported from Brazil. Emissions from sea transport are included. Both estimates include land transport within the U.S.[103] (3) CARB estimate for Midwest corn ethanol. California‘s gasoline carbon intensity is 95.86 blended with 10% ethanol.[21][104] (4) Assuming direct land use change.[23] (5) If diesel-powered vehicles are included and due to ethanol’s lower energy content by volume, bioethanol represented 16.9% of the road sector energy consumption in 2007.[115]

Environmental and social impact

Environmental effects

Energy balance and carbon intensity

Until 2008, several full life cycle (“Well to Wheels” or WTW) studies had found that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions as compared to gasoline. In 2007 a team led by Farrel from the University of California, Berkeley evaluated six previous studies and concluded corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by only 13 percent.[116][117][118] However, a more commonly cited figure is 20 to 30 percent, and an 85 to 85 percent reduction for cellulosic ethanol.[117][119] Both figures were estimated by Wang from Argonne National Laboratory, based on a comprehensive review of 22 studies conducted between 1979 and 2005, and simulations with Argonne’s GREET model. All of these studies included direct land use changes.[118][120]

The reduction estimates on carbon intensity for a given biofuel depend on the assumptions regarding several variables, including crop productivity, agricultural practices, and distillery power source and energy efficiency. None of these studies considered the effects of indirect land-use changes, and though their impact was recognized, its estimation was considered too complex and more difficult to model than direct land use changes.[117][121]

Effects of land use change

Summary of Searchinger et al.
comparison of corn ethanol and gasoline GHG emissions
with and without land use change
(CO2 release rate (g/MJ))[24][122]
Fuel type
(U.S.)
Carbon
intensity
Reduction
GHG
Carbon
intensity
ILUC
Reduction
GHG
Gasoline 92 92
Corn ethanol 74 -20% 177 +93%
Cellulosic ethanol 28 -70% 138 +50%
Notes: Calculated using default assumptions for 2015 scenario for ethanol in E85.
Gasoline is a combination of conventional and reformulated gasoline.[122]

Two 2008 studies, both published in the same issue of Scienceexpress, questioned the previous assessments.[23][24][123] A team led by Searchinger from Princeton University concluded that once direct and indirect effect of land use changes (ILUC) are considered, both corn and cellulosic ethanol increased carbon emissions as compared to gasoline by 93 and 50 percent respectively.[24] The study limited the analysis to a 30-year time horizon, assuming that land conversion emitted 25 percent of the carbon stored in soils and all carbon in plants cleared for cultivation. Brazil, China and India were considered among the overseas locations where land use change would occur as a result of diverting U.S. corn cropland, and it was assumed that new cropland in each of these regions correspond to different types of forestsavanna or grassland based on the historical proportion of each natural land converted to cultivation in these countries during the 1990s.[24]

A team led by Fargione from The Nature Conservancy found that clearing natural lands for use as agricultural land to produce biofuel feedstock creates a carbon debt. Therefore, this carbon debt applies to both direct and indirect land use changes. The study examined six scenarios of wilderness conversion, Brazilian Amazon to soybean biodiesel, Brazilian Cerrado to soybean biodiesel, Brazilian Cerrado to sugarcane ethanol, Indonesian or Malaysian lowland tropical rainforest to palm biodiesel, Indonesian or Malaysian peatland tropical rainforest to oil palm forest, and U.S. Central grassland to corn ethanol.[23]

Low-carbon fuel standards

On April 23, 2009, the California Air Resources Board approved specific rules and carbon intensity reference values for the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that was to go into effect on January 1, 2011.[124][125][126] The consultation process produced controversy regarding the inclusion and modeling of indirect land use change effects.[127][128][129][130][131] After the CARB’s ruling, among other criticisms, representatives of the ethanol industry complained that the standard overstated the negative environmental effects of corn ethanol, and also criticized the inclusion of indirect effects of land-use changes as an unfair penalty to home-made corn ethanol because deforestation in the developing world had been tied to US ethanol production.[125][132][133][134][135][136][137] The emissions standard for 2011 for LCFS meant that Midwest corn ethanol would not meet the California standard unless current carbon intensity is reduced.[124][135][137][138]

A similar controversy arose after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published on May 5, 2009, its notice of proposed rulemaking for the new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).[139][140][141] EPA’s proposal included the carbon footprint from indirect land-use changes.[142][143] On the same day, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Directive with the aim to advance biofuel research and commercialization. The Directive asked a new Biofuels Interagency Working Group comprising the Department of Agriculture, EPA, and DOE,[144][145] to develop a plan to increase flexible fuel vehicle use, assist in retail marketing and to coordinate infrastructure policies.

The group also was tasked to develop policy ideas for increasing investment in next-generation fuels, and for reducing biofuels’ environmental footprint.[144][145][146]

In December 2009 two lobbying groups, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy, filed a lawsuit challenging LCFS’ constitutionality. The two organizations argued that LCFS violates both the Supremacy Clause and the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, and “jeopardizes the nationwide market for ethanol.”[147][148] In a press release the associations announced that “If the United States is going to have a low carbon fuel standard, it must be based on sound science and it must be consistent with the U.S. Constitution…”[149]

On February 3, 2010, EPA finalized the Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS2) for 2010 and beyond.[150] EPA incorporated direct emissions and significant indirect emissions such as emissions from land use changes along with comments and data from new studies.[151] Adopting a 30-year time horizon and a 0% discount rate[103] EPA declared that ethanol produced from corn starch at a new (or expanded capacity from an existing) natural gas-fired facility using approved technologies would be considered to comply with the 20% GHG emission reduction threshold.[151] Given average production conditions it expected for 2022, EPA estimated that corn ethanol would reduce GHGs an average of 21% compared to the 2005 gasoline baseline. A 95% confidence interval spans a 7-32% range reflecting uncertainty in the land use change assumptions.[103]

The following table summarizes the mean GHG emissions for ethanol using different feedstocks estimated by EPA modelling and the range of variations considering that the main source of uncertainty in the life cycle analysis is the GHG emissions related to international land use change.[152]

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Life cycle year 2022 GHG emissions reduction results for RFS2 final rule[152]
(includes direct and indirect land use change effects and a 30-year payback period at a 0% discount rate)
Renewable fuel pathway
(for U.S. consumption)
Mean
GHG emission
reduction(1)
GHG emission
reduction
95% confidence
interval(2)
Assumptions/comments
Corn ethanol 21% 7–32% New or expanded natural gas fired dry mill plant, 37% wet and 63% dry DGS it produces, and employing corn oil fractionation technology.
Corn biobutanol 31% 20–40% Natural gas fired dry mill plant, 37% wet and 63% dry DGS it produces, and employing corn oil fractionation technology.
Cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass 110% 102–117% Ethanol produced using the biochemical process.
Cellulosic ethanol from corn stover 129% No ILUC Ethanol produced using the biochemical process. Ethanol produced from agricultural residues does not have any indirect land use emissions.
Notes: (1) Percent reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions compared to the average lifecycle GHG for gasoline or diesel sold or distributed as transportation fuel in 2005.
(2) Confidence range accounts for uncertainty in the types of land use change assumptions and the magnitude of resulting GHG emissions.

Water footprint

Water-related concerns relate to water supply and quality, and include availability and potential overuse, pollution, and possible contamination by fertilizers and pesticides. Several studies concluded that increased ethanol production was likely to result in a substantial increase in water pollution by fertilizers and pesticides, with the potential to exacerbate eutrophication and hypoxia, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.[153][154][155][156]

Growing feedstocks consumes most of the water associated with ethanol production. Corn consumes from 500–2,000 litres (110–440 imp gal; 130–530 US gal) of water per liter of ethanol, mostly for evapotranspiration.[153] In general terms, both corn and switchgrass require less irrigation than other fuel crops. Corn is grown mainly in regions with adequate rainfall. However, corn usually needs to be irrigated in the drier climates of Nebraska and eastern Colorado. Further, corn production for ethanol is increasingly taking place in areas requiring irrigation.[153] A 2008 study by the National Research Council concluded that “in the longer term, the likely expansion of cellulosic biofuel production has the potential to further increase the demand for water resources in many parts of the United States. Biofuels expansion beyond current irrigated agriculture, especially in dry western areas, has the potential to greatly increase pressure on water resources in some areas.[154]

A 2009 study estimated that irrigated corn ethanol implied water consumption at between 50 US gal/mi (120 L/km) and 100 US gal/mi (240 L/km) for U.S. vehicles. This figure increased to 90 US gal/mi (210 L/km) for sorghum ethanol from Nebraska, and 115 US gal/mi (270 L/km) for Texas sorghum. By contrast, an average U.S. car effectively consumes between 0.2 US gal/mi (0.47 L/km) to 0.5 US gal/mi (1.2 L/km) running on gasoline, including extraction and refining.[155]

In 2010 RFA argued that more efficient water technologies and pre-treated water could reduce consumption.[88] It further claimed that non-conventional oil “sources, such as tar sands and oil shale, require far more water than conventional petroleum extraction and refining.[88]

Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. standard agricultural practices for most crops employ fertilizers that provide nitrogen and phosphorus along with herbicidesfungicidesinsecticides, and other pesticides.

Some part of these chemicals leaves the field. Nitrogen in forms such as nitrate (NO3) is highly soluble, and along with some pesticides infiltrates downwards toward the water table, where it can migrate to water wells, rivers and streams. A 2008 National Research Council study found that regionally the highest stream concentrations occur where the rates of application were highest, and that these rates were highest in the Corn Belt. These flows mainly stem from corn, which as of 2010 was the major source of total nitrogen loading to the Mississippi River.[154]

Several studies found that corn ethanol production contributed to the worsening of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. The nitrogen leached into the Mississippi River and out into the Gulf, where it fed giant algae blooms. As the algaedied, it settled to the ocean floor and decayed, consuming oxygen and suffocating marine life, causing hypoxia. This oxygen depletion killed shrimpcrabsworms and anything else that could not escape, and affected important shrimp fishing grounds.[153][154][156]

Social implications

Effect on food prices

Some environmentalists, such as George Monbiot, expressed fears that the marketplace would convert crops to fuel for the rich, while the poor starved and biofuels caused environmental problems.[123][157][158][159][160] The food vs fuel debate grew in 2008 as a result of the international community‘s concerns regarding the steep increase in food prices. On April 2008, Jean Ziegler, back then United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, repeated his claim that biofuels were a “crime against humanity“,[161][162] echoing his October 2007 call for a 5-year ban for the conversion of land for the production of biofuels.[163][164] Also in April 2008, World Bank President Robert Zoellick stated that “While many worry about filling their gas tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs. And it’s getting more and more difficult every day.[165][166][167]

Corn is the main feedstock for the production of ethanol fuel in the U.S.

A July 2008 World Bank report[168] found that from June 2002 to June 2008 “biofuels and the related consequences of low grain stocks, large land use shifts, speculative activity and export bans” accounted for 70–75% of total price rises. The study found that higher oil prices and a weak dollar explain 25–30% of total price rise. The study said that “…large increases in biofuels production in the United States and Europe are the main reason behind the steep rise in global food prices.”[169][170] The report argued that increased production of biofuels in these developed regions was supported by subsidies and tariffs, and claimed that without such policies, food price increases worldwide would have been smaller. It also concluded that Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol had not raised sugar prices significantly, and recommended that both the U.S. and E.U. remove tariffs, including on many African countries.[168]

An RFA rebuttal said that the World Bank analysis was highly subjective and that the author considered only “the impact of global food prices from the weak dollar and the direct and indirect effect of high petroleum prices and attribute[d] everything else to biofuels.”[171]

A 2010 World Bank study concluded that its previous study may have overestimated the impact, as “the effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought, but that the use of commodities by financial investors (the so-called ”financialization of commodities”) may have been partly responsible for the 2007/08 spike.”[172]

A July 2008 OECD economic assessment[173] agreed about the negative effects of subsidies and trade restrictions, but found that the impact of biofuels on food prices was much smaller. The OECD study found that existing biofuel support policies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by no more than 0.8 percent by 2015. It called for more open markets in biofuels and feedstocks to improve efficiency and lower costs. The OECD study concluded that “…current biofuel support measures alone are estimated to increase average wheat prices by about 5 percent, maize by around 7 percent and vegetable oil by about 19 percent over the next 10 years.[174]

The 2008 financial crisis illustrated corn ethanol’s limited impact on corn prices, which fell 50% from their July 2008 high by October 2008, in tandem with other commodities, including oil, while corn ethanol production continued unabated. “Analysts, including some in the ethanol sector, say ethanol demand adds about 75 cents to $1.00 per bushel to the price of corn, as a rule of thumb. Other analysts say it adds around 20 percent, or just under 80 cents per bushel at current prices. Those estimates hint that $4 per bushel corn might be priced at only $3 without demand for ethanol fuel.“.[175]

See also

Further reading

  • Duffield, James A., Irene M. Xiarchos, and Steve A. Halbrook, “Ethanol Policy: Past, Present, and Future,” South Dakota Law Review, 53 (no. 3, 2008), 425–53.

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_the_United_States

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mueller-fishing-tina-toon.jpg (2040×1553)See the source imageSee the source image

 

Story 1: Special Counsel Mueller’s Prosecutors Getting Desperate For Cooperative Convicted Criminals Composing (Lying About Trump) — Conspiracy to Suborn Perjury For No Jail Time For Cooperative Convicted Criminals — Absolutely No Evidence Trump “Colluded” With Russian Government — Waste of $40 Million of Taxpayers Money  —  Videos —

See the source imageImage result for robert mueller, donald j. Trump and michael cohenSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

752. SUBORNATION OF PERJURY

To establish a case of subornation of perjury, a prosecutor must demonstrate that perjury was committed; that the defendant procured the perjury corruptly, knowing, believing or having reason to believe it to be false testimony; and that the defendant knew, believed or had reason to believe that the perjurer had knowledge of the falsity of his or her testimony.

To secure a conviction for subornation of perjury, the perjury sought must actually have been committedUnited States v. Hairston, 46 F.3d 361, 376 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 116 S.Ct. 124 (1995). The underlying perjury must be proved under the standards required by the applicable perjury statute. Thus, if section 1621 applies to the underlying perjury, the two witness rule must be met, but not if section 1623 applies to the underlying perjury. United States v. Gross, 511 F.2d 910, 915 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 924 (1975). Physical coercion need not be proven in prosecutions for subornation of perjury. United States v. Heater, 63 F.3d 311, 320 (4th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 116 S.Ct. 796 (1996). Conspiracy to suborn perjury may be prosecuted irrespective of whether perjury has been committed. The two witness rule does not apply in conspiracy prosecutions. Solicitation of perjured testimony also may be prosecuted as obstruction of justice irrespective of whether the perjured testimony took place. United States v. Silverman, 745 F.2d 1386, 1395 (11th Cir. 1984).

Because the crime of subornation of perjury is distinct from that of perjury, the suborner and perjurer are not accomplices; however, a person who causes a false document to be introduced through an innocent witness can be held liable as a principal under 18 U.S.C. § 2(b). United States v. Walser, 3 F.3d 380, 388 (11th Cir. 1993).

The attorney’s ethical obligations when confronted by a client who wishes to testify falsely are discussed at length in Nix v. Whiteside, 475 U.S. 157 (1986). See also Rules 1-102, 4-101 and 7-109 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Canons 1, 4, and 7, and Ethical Consideration 7-26.

[cited in JM 9-69.200]

https://www.justice.gov/jm/criminal-resource-manual-1752-subornation-perjury

See the source image

Hannity: Mueller memos have nothing on Trump

Sean Hannity 12/7/18 [FULL] | Breaking Fox

News December 7, 2018

Tucker Carlson Tonight [12AM] 12/7/18 Breaking News Today December 7, 2018

Michael Cohen sentencing memo formally accuses Donald Trump of directing criminal conspiracy to a…

‘Substantial’ prison term recommended for Michael Cohen

Watch Live: Prosecutors file sentencing memo for Michael Cohen

Ex-CIA official on Mueller: Size 16 shoe is about to drop

Special counsel to reveal new details on Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort

Robert Muller suggest no jail time for Michael Flynn

Nunes reacts to new evidence of FISA abuse in FBI emails

Prosecutors demand Michael Cohen spend four to five YEARS in prison for trying to ‘influence the election from the shadows’ at the ‘direction’ of Trump – who insists report ‘totally clears’ him

  • President’s former lawyer should get 51-63 months, according to prosecutors, for a range of crimes including tax evasion and campaign finance violations
  • Sentencing memo from New York prosecutor says Michael Cohen coordinated with the president to pay off two women so their stories of affairs were buried
  • Says Cohen tried to ‘influence the election from the shadows’ and claims he didn’t help Special Counsel Robert Mueller enough to justify leniency
  • Mueller, though, spells out four ways Cohen was helpful and says a judge should sentence him to concurrent prison terms in two cases

A federal prosecutor told a judge on Friday that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen should spend between 51 and 63 months in prison for a range of federal crimes including tax evasion and violating campaign finance laws.

He tried to ‘influence the election from the shadows,’ according to Robert Khuzami, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, by arranging payoffs to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in order to avoid October-surprise embarrassments for then-candidate Donald Trump.

Khuzami wrote that Trump was directly involved in the efforts. The president tweeted an hour after the document was filed in New York. that it ‘[t]otally clears the President. Thank you!’

Cohen has helped Special Counsel Robert Mueller with ‘information that assisted … in ongoing matters,’ according to Khuzami’s sentencing recommendation memo.

But the level of cooperation, he wrote, was too small to warrant more than token leniency. And Cohen, he revealed, made an ‘affirmative decision not to become’ a cooperating witness.

A separate memo from Mueller covering a different case in Washington, D.C. related to an aborted attempt to build a Trump Tower in Moscow spells out a greater level of assistance, saying it is sufficient to warrant sentences that run concurrently.

The New York sentencing recommendation tells a story of Cohen working ‘in coordination with and at the direction of’ Donald Trump – by his own admission – to arrange for the National Enquirer to buy the rights to the two women’s stories and ‘kill’ them, preventing media exposure of their claims.

David Pecker, a longtime Trump friend who was CEO of the National Enquirer’s parent company, got an immunity deal from Mueller to divulge his part in the plot.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen should spend between 51 and 63 months in federal prison, according to a prosecutor's memo

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen should spend between 51 and 63 months in federal prison, according to a prosecutor’s memo

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York wrote that Cohen worked at the direction of President Donald Trump in 2016 to arrange payments to two women for the purpose of keeping their sexual affair allegations from becoming public before the election

Trump tweeted barely an hour after prosecutors filed their court statement about Cohen that it 'totally clears' him

Trump tweeted barely an hour after prosecutors filed their court statement about Cohen that it ‘totally clears’ him

Special Counsel Robery Mueller spelled out in a separate memo four ways in which Cohen has been helpful to his Russia probe

Cohen ‘coordinated his actions with one or more members of the campaign,’ according to the memo, ‘including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.’

And as a result, ‘neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election.’

The president said this week in a tweet that Cohen should ‘serve a full and complete sentence.’

In Mueller’s case, filed just last month, the special counsel alleges that Cohen has admitted lying about his efforts and timing on the Trump Tower Moscow plan, and alleges that he briefed Trump about the project’s status in 2016.

Cohen told investigators that the entire projet was scrapped before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary inJanuary 2016. In fact, however, negotiations related to the proposal were going on through the time of the July Republican National Convention.

Mueller charged Cohen with a felony for lying to his investigators, but said he was truthful in six other sessions where government lawyers plied him with questions.

Mueller’s seven-page memorandum says the former Trump fixer ‘provided information about his own contacts with Russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts.’

As one example, he cited Cohen’s willingness to discuss a November 2015 discussion with ‘a Russian national who claimed to be a “trusted person” in the Russian Federation.’ That person, he wrote, offered to help create ‘synergy’ with Trump ‘on a government level.’

At the time, Trump was slicing his way through the Republican primary field.

Cohen told Mueller’s team that his Russian contact proposed arranging a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying ‘that such a meeting could have a “phenomenal” impact “not only in political but in a business dimension as well”.’

The Michael Cohen sentencing memorandum from a federal prosecutor in New York recomments 51 to 63 months in prison

The Michael Cohen sentencing memorandum from a federal prosecutor in New York recomments 51 to 63 months in prison

Felix Sater (right) is pictured with Donald Trump and Soviet-born Turkish real estate developer Tevfik Arif at the Trump Soho launch party in 2007; Sater was allegdely Michael Cohen's link to the Kremlin

That, he wrote, was a reference to the Moscow Trump Tower proposal. Cohen never followed up, and the project was never built.

Other testimony has revealed that Trump campaign advisers discussed a separate meeting between Trump and Putin in 2016, and that Cohen spoke to a Kremlin official about a possible Trump-Putin meeting after the Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

There have been suggestions over the years that the two men met in Moscow during the Trump-run Miss Universe pageant in 2013, but that claim has not been substantiated.

The Russian contact who offered to be Cohen’s go-between in late 2016 is believed to be Felix Sater, a former mobster who pleaded guilty in 1998 to his involvement in a Russian Mafia-led $40 million stock fraud scheme.

Mueller also wrote that Cohen helped his office with information about ‘discrete Russia-related matters’ that he obtained ‘by virtue of his regular contact with [Trump Organization] executives during the campaign.’

And Cohen provided ‘relevant and useful information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017–2018 time period.’

Khuzami’s much longer 40-page sentencing memo in the New York case, however, downplays the level of help Cohen may have provided.

‘Cohen’s description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others,’ Khuzami wrote. ‘To be clear: Cohen does not have a cooperation agreement.’

He’s lying’ Trump bashes Michael Cohen over guilty plea
Former Playboy model Karen McDougal (left) and porn actress Stormy Daniels (right) both claimed to have slept with Donald Trump in the past, but the government says Cohen coordinated with Trump to make sure the women were paid for their silence – in effect a pair of massive campaign contributions designed to save the election for Trump

Condemning Cohen’s end-around attempt to influence the 2016 election, Khuzami wrote that ‘[w]hile many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.’

‘He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1,’ he added, referring to President Trump.

‘Cohen, an attorney and businessman, committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends,’ he wrote.

‘Now he seeks extraordinary leniency – a sentence of no jail time – based principally on his rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes; his claims to a sympathetic personal history; and his provision of certain information to law enforcement.

‘But the crimes committed by Cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life (and was evidently hidden from the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf).’

By BENJAMIN WEISER, MAGGIE HABERMAN and MARK MAZZETTI
a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Michael Cohen, who was President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer for more than a decade, leaving federal court in Manhattan last week after a guilty plea.© Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times Michael Cohen, who was President Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer for more than a decade, leaving federal court in Manhattan last week after a guilty plea.

Federal prosecutors on Friday mounted a scathing attack on Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, rejecting his request to avoid a prison term and saying that he had “repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.”

The prosecutors said Mr. Cohen deserved a “substantial” prison term that would most likely amount to roughly four years.

Mr. Cohen, 52, is to be sentenced in Manhattan next week for two separate guilty pleas: one for campaign finance violations and financial crimes charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, and the other for lying to Congress in the Russia inquiry, filed by the Office of the Special Counsel in Washington.

Prosecutors in Manhattan said the crimes Mr. Cohen had committed marked “a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life,” and though he was seeking a sentence of no jail time for providing assistance to the government, he did not deserve much leniency.

In a lengthy memo to the judge, William H. Pauley III, prosecutors wrote that Mr. Cohen was motivated by “personal greed” and had a “rose-colored view of the seriousness of the crimes.”

[Read the federal prosecutor’s memo ahead of Michael Cohen’s sentencing in Manhattan.]

They once again emphasized that Mr. Cohen had implicated the president in his guilty plea, writing that Mr. Cohen “played a central role” in a scheme to purchase the silence of two women who claimed to have affairs with Mr. Trump, so they would not speak publicly during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” the prosecutors wrote. “Individual-1” is how Mr. Trump is referred to in the document.

Mr. Cohen’s actions “struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency,” the prosecutors wrote, adding that he “sought to influence the election from the shadows.”

At the same time, the special counsel’s office released its own sentencing recommendation to the judge for Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea for misleading Congress.

The special counsel seemed to offer a more positive view of Mr. Cohen’s cooperation with the Russia investigation, saying he “has gone to significant lengths to assist the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

[Read the Office of the Special Counsel’s memo.]

The special counsel’s memo revealed a new detail about Russian efforts to influence the Trump campaign. It said Mr. Cohen had told prosecutors about a meeting that appeared to be the earliest-known contact between a Russian and a campaign adviser in the months after Mr. Trump announced his bid for the presidency.

In November 2015, as discussions about a possible Trump Tower Moscow project were gaining momentum, Mr. Cohen told prosecutors he was approached by a Russian claiming to be a “‘trusted person’ in the Russian Federation,” who offered “synergy on a government level” with the Trump campaign.

The individual, who was not named, pushed for a meeting between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Such a meeting, he said, could have a “‘phenomenal’ impact ‘not only in political but in a business dimension as well.’”

Mr. Cohen told the special counsel’s team that he never followed up on the invitation.

Mr. Cohen has emerged as one of the biggest threats to Mr. Trump’s presidency, providing the special counsel’s office and prosecutors in Manhattan with material in dozens of hours of interviews. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties to the Trump campaign.

On Tuesday, Mr. Mueller asked a judge in Washington to impose little or no prison time on Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, saying that he had provided substantial assistance to his office’s Russia investigation. Mr. Flynn faces up to six months in prison under federal guidelines after pleading guilty to one count of lying to the F.B.I.

In the Manhattan plea in August, Mr. Cohen implicated Mr. Trump in hush-money payments to two women — Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model — to conceal affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump.

On Nov. 29, Mr. Cohen entered his second plea, revealing in court that Mr. Trump had been more involved in discussions over a potential deal to build a tower in Moscow than was previously known. He also said those discussions had continued until June 2016, well after Mr. Trump had clinched the Republican nomination and only five months before the election.

Mr. Trump’s interest in building a Trump Tower Moscow led Mr. Cohen to make numerous inquiries with Russian officials and other Kremlin-linked figures about the feasibility of the project, raising the possibility that the negotiations might have given the Russians leverage over Mr. Trump when he was running for president.

In Mr. Cohen’s own sentencing memo, his lawyers disclosed that their client had consulted with White House staff members and Mr. Trump’s “legal counsel” — without identifying the lawyer — as he prepared for his false congressional testimony.

Mr. Cohen said in court that he lied “out of loyalty” to Mr. Trump and to be consistent with his “political messaging.”

Mr. Cohen’s cases have been consolidated before Judge Pauley in Manhattan.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers, Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, have asked Judge Pauley to allow Mr. Cohen to avoid a prison sentence, citing his cooperation with Mr. Mueller even though he never signed a formal cooperation agreement.

They also portrayed him as a remorseful man whose life had been shattered by his relationship with Mr. Trump. They said Mr. Cohen had lost friends and professional relationships and wanted to confess his crimes, serve any sentence imposed and begin his life anew.

Under federal guidelines, Mr. Cohen faces about four to five years in the Manhattan case and up to six months in Mr. Mueller’s case. But the guidelines are not binding, and Judge Pauley will decide the final sentence.

Follow Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman on Twitter: @benweisernyt and @maggieNYT.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/michael-cohen-trump%E2%80%99s-ex-fixer-should-get-prison-term-of-about-4-years-prosecutors-say/ar-BBQEjEQ

Mueller’s End Game Is Starting to Come Into View

by Nancy LeTourneau

Special Counsel Robert Mueller

According to Michael Isikoff, Donald Trump and his enablers might finally be getting their wish, because the whole Mueller probe could be coming to an end very soon.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors have told defense lawyers in recent weeks that they are “tying up loose ends” in their investigation, providing the clearest clues yet that the long-running probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election may be coming to its climax, potentially in the next few weeks, according to multiple sources close to the matter.

The new information about the state of Mueller’s investigation comes during a pivotal week when the special counsel’s prosecutors are planning to file memos about three of their most high profile defendants — former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

A Flynn sentencing memo is due Tuesday, and memos about Manafort and Cohen are slated for Friday. All three documents are expected to yield significant new details on what cooperation the three of them provided to the Russia investigation.

Before getting to the important news on what all that means, let’s put to rest the idea that this has been a “long-running probe.” Keep in mind that Mueller has been investigating one of the most significant criminal allegations in this country’s history: whether or not an adversarial foreign government attempted to interfere in a presidential election, as well as a possible conspiracy with one of the candidates who went on to be president. With that in mind, the folks at FiveThirtyEight developed a helpful chart to compare both the timing and results of this probe with those of previous administrations.

If Mueller is, indeed, “tying up loose ends,” this investigation will not only be the most consequential, but the shortest in recent history.

Besides reporting that the Mueller investigation might be coming to a conclusion soon, Isikoff notes that the special counsel will be releasing reports for the sentencing hearings of Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort this week. All three have pleaded guilty to crimes in exchange for their cooperation and will soon be sentenced.

However, the special counsel has accused Manafort of violating his agreement by lying to investigators. As part of their status report, prosecutors wrote that “The government will file a detailed sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the plea agreement herein.” That is the document Mueller will be filing on Friday.

There was some speculation about whether or not that document would be made public. Isikoff broke the news:

Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, confirmed to Yahoo News on Monday that the Manafort memo “will be public,” although he added there could be some portions that are redacted or filed as a sealed addendum.

To casual observers, Robert Mueller has run a tight ship when it comes to leaks and played his cards pretty close to his vest. But there’s been an ongoing discussion among lawyers that when he has produced documents in this case, they have been what is often referred to as “speaking indictments.”

Those waiting for Mueller to issue some massive, 9/11 Commission–style report at the end of the investigation often overlook the sheer volume of detailed information Mueller has pushed into public view already. Nearly every court document he has filed has been what lawyers call a “speaking indictment,” going into deeper detail and at greater length than is strictly needed to make the case for the criminal behavior charged.

The most specific example of that is the indictment filed against the Russians.

It is unclear precisely why Mueller is using speaking indictments, but people familiar with their use suspect he wants to use them to tell the public more about what his investigation believes happened in the 2016 election.

It could also be a way for Mueller to fire warning shots at people he might want to target.

The 29-page document charging a dozen Russian intelligence officers in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee that was unveiled by the special counsel last month fits the description of a speaking indictment.

These indictments contain a high level of detail and go well beyond the constitutional requirements of laying out the essential facts of the offense charged. It also gives the defendant enough notice and specificity to mount a defense.

If Mueller uses the same strategy in the sentencing reports, this could be the way he releases many of his findings to the public without giving Trump, his lawyers or Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker the opportunity to stop him. That was the conclusion many people reached from his most recent status report on Manafort.

It is worth keeping in mind that Mueller and his team can read the news and learned about the strategy Trump and his lawyers had adopted along with the rest of us.

President Donald Trump and his lawyers have made a strategic calculation that their fight against special counsel Robert Mueller is more political than it is legal.

They’re banking that the lead Russia investigator will follow long-standing Justice Department practice that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and that the only real threat to Trump’s survival is impeachment.

So long as that theory holds, Trump’s plan is to forcefully challenge Mueller in the arena he knows best — not the courtroom but the media, with a public campaign aimed at the special counsel’s credibility, especially among Republican voters and GOP members of Congress.

If Mueller issues “speaking indictments” in his sentencing reports on three of the most influential people in Trump’s campaign—Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort—he will demonstrate that he knows how to play that game as well. Both the obstruction of justice and conspiracy case will be put out to the public and, now that Democrats control the House, will be followed up with investigations, possibly leading to impeachment.

So hold on to your hats, folks. This could be the beginning of the end game.

https://washingtonmonthly.com/2018/12/04/muellers-end-game-is-starting-to-come-into-view/

Story 2: Department of Justice/FBI Attorney Blocked Comey From Answering Congressional Questions About FBI Clinton E-Mail Investigation and FISA Warrant Applicationand Renewal Thereby Stonewalling Congress — Videos —

Tom Fitton reacts to Comey’s closed-door testimony

Trey Gowdy on his plans going into the Comey hearing

Issa: FBI attorney blocked Comey from answering questions

BREAKING: James Comey Says Mueller Investigation Is Going Extremely Well

Gaetz shares what he learned from the Comey hearing

Comey Testifies Before Congress, Has Message For Trump

 

Ex-FBI director Comey grilled again in US Congress

Former FBI director James Comey was interviewed in a closed-door session by US lawmakers, amid mounting intrigue over the investigation into possible contacts between President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia

Former FBI director James Comey was interviewed in a closed-door session by US lawmakers, amid mounting intrigue over the investigation into possible contacts between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia

Former FBI director James Comey testified before US lawmakers for the first time in over a year Friday, with much of the discussions centering on Hillary Clinton’s email use.

The closed-door grilling came amid mounting intrigue over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow.

Comey had pleaded for a public hearing after he was subpoenaed by the outgoing Congress in November, but House Republicans including some of Trump’s allies insisted on a private session before the judiciary and oversight committees.

Comey was questioned as part of a Republican-led House inquiry into possible Russian interference, and Clinton, who lost to Trump in 2016, featured prominently.

“Hillary Clinton’s emails, for heaven’s sake,” Comey said after testifying for six hours. “I’m not sure we need to do this at all.”

Clinton had set up a private email server before becoming secretary of state in 2009.

Republicans seized on the revelation years later, saying she broke department protocol by using a private email account while a government official in order to hide sensitive correspondence.

The issue became a flashpoint of the 2016 race.

Republicans exited Friday’s session complaining that Comey lawyers shut down certain avenues of questioning.

Comey disputed that but gave a rationale for why he would not publicly discuss some elements.

“The FBI, for understandable reasons, doesn’t want me talking about the details of the investigation that is still ongoing, and began when I was FBI director,” he said.

In May 2017 Trump abruptly sacked Comey, who was the senior official leading a criminal investigation into possible collusion with Moscow.

Three months earlier the president met privately with Comey and urged him to end the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn, a move that many Democrats interpreted as obstruction of justice.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” and on Friday unleashed a Twitter tirade against Mueller, Comey and other current and former officials tied to the Russia probe.

“Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest,” Trump tweeted.

Comey said a testimony transcript will be published 24 hours after his interview. Republicans want him to return for further testimony in two weeks, a final effort to advance their probe.

House control shifts to Democrats in January, and incoming Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said he would shut down the probe into FBI behavior because it was merely an effort to “cast aspersion on the real investigation, which is Mueller.

Story 3: Chief of Staff John Kelly Expected To Resign and Replaced by Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff — Videos

See the source imageSee the source image

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is ‘expected’ to resign as soon as TODAY after Trump completely stopped speaking to him – and Pence chief of staff will replace him

  • Sources told DailyMail.com that Kelly is ‘expected’ to leave the White House before the end of the year, and the announcement could come as soon as Friday
  • His presumed replacement is Nick Ayers, the young chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence
  • Ayers is a 36-year-old political wunderkind; Kelly is a 68-year-old decorated vet
  • Trump and Kelly are no longer on speaking terms
  • President has been telling aides to reach out to Ayers if they need things  
  • Friday White House senior staff dinner was to serve as an appreciation event for Kelly and other departing senior officials, but news leaked first to CNN

White House insiders expect Chief of Staff John Kelly to resign in the coming days.

Sources told DailyMail.com that Kelly, a decorated Marine Corps general brought in last year, is ‘expected’ to leave the White House before the end of the year, and the announcement could come as soon as Friday.

His expected replacement is Nick Ayers, the young chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.

A source familiar with the situation told DailyMail.com on Friday morning that a dinner at the White House in the evening for senior staff was supposed to serve as an appreciation event for Kelly and other departing senior officials.

‘They were trying to give John the out he deserved for his service to the country. That was the plan,’ the person said.
White House insiders expect Chief of Staff John Kelly to resign in the coming days
White House insiders expect Chief of Staff John Kelly to resign in the coming days
The president is no longer on speaking terms with Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general

The president is no longer on speaking terms with Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general

Now, that timeline has likely been expedited —Trump could make the announcement as soon as Friday.

The news comes as CNN reported that Kelly is no longer on speaking terms with President Donald Trump.

The decorated veteran participated in a handful of Oval Office meetings on Thursday, a source told DailyMail.com on Friday, adding that he and Trump didn’t interact before or afterward.

Trump and Kelly ‘know that they are 17 months into what has been a very tumultuous relationship. It is no longer seen as sustainable by either party,’ CNN reported Friday morning.

‘Their relationship has deteriorated so much in the last couple weeks, where John Kelly’s job security has essentially been seen as permanently in danger.’

The Daily Caller, a favored Trump news outlet, reported Friday that an unnamed source had said the idea of an impending Kelly resignation was ‘absolutely untrue,’ and that the chief of staff had merely taken a day off.

A source confirmed to DailyMail.com that Ayers is the president's choice to succeed him

The website’s editorial director, Vince Coglianese, is the son of U.S. Marine Corps Major General Vincent A. Coglianese, who is in charge of Marine Corps Installations Command.

Another source told DailyMail.com that the dinner on Friday night would be hosted in the White House residence by the president and first lady. The person said that it is a holiday party for staff, just like the one the first couple hosted last Christmas.

It was not described on the president’s daily guidance as a holiday party. The closed-press event was listed as a ‘dinner’ with senior White House staff.

Axios also reported Friday what administration insiders have said for weeks: Ayers will likely take over for Kelly whenever he leaves.

A source confirmed to DailyMail.com that Ayers is the president’s choice to succeed him.

The president has been telling people for the past several days to call Ayers if they have a request. The directive has spread so far that senior aides are no longer regarding Ayers’ ascension as a secret, an insider said on Friday morning.

‘John wanted to stay, but he has a broken relationship with the president, so bad you just can’t keep him,’ the person told DailyMail.com of the president’s claims this fall that Kelly was staying.

Trump announced during a senior staff meeting in July that he had asked Kelly to stay through the 2020 election, and that he agreed

Trump announced during a senior staff meeting in July that he had asked Kelly to stay through the 2020 election, and that he agreed.

The two men discussed a commitment at the time for Kelly to agree to run the West Wing until 2024 if Trump were to win a second term.

Since then Trump has backtracked, arguing at a post-election news conference that people leave and it can’t be helped.

‘As we make changes, we’ll sit down and talk to you about it. I mean, there’s no great secret. A lot of administrations make changes after midterms. I will say that, for the most part, I’m very, very happy with this Cabinet. We’re doing a great job,’ the president said.

Pressed to confirm that Kelly is staying, Trump said, ‘People leave. I haven’t heard about John Kelly. But, no, people — people leave. They come in, they’re here. It’s a very exhausting job.’

He went further in a ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview later in the month, in which he admitted: ‘There are certain things that I don’t like that he does.’

‘There are a couple of things where it’s just not his strength. It’s not his fault. It’s not his strength,’ he asserted.

Trump said at ‘some point’ the retired marine general ‘is going to want to move on.’ He maintained that it is possible that Kelly would stay through 2020 but backed off the initial pledge that

Kelly jokes about White House move: ‘God is punishing me’

He had insisted in October, as the White House attempted to project confidence in advance of the mid-terms, that he was not going to ditch Kelly for Ayers or other rumored candidates for the job.

Trump brought a New York Magazine reporter into the Oval Office for a parade of denials that ended with Kelly and Ayers giving each other a bear hug.

Since the election, the relationship between Trump and Kelly has apparently soured.

In a hint that Kelly was on his way out, deputy chief of staff Zachary Fuentes, started putting out feelers for a new job, Politico reported this week, circulating his resume to the Department of Defense and other Cabinet agencies.

Kelly has clashed with top Trump advisers inside and outside the White House, getting into West Wing screaming matches with the national security adviser and others.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6471487/White-House-Chief-Staff-John-Kelly-expected-RESIGN-soon-Trump-stopped-speaking-him.html

Story 4: President Trump Nominates Heather Nauert as United States Ambassador to United Nations — Videos

Trump confirms he’s nominated Bill Barr for AG, Heather Nauert U.N. Ambassador

Trump names William Barr as Attorney General, Heather Nauert as UN ambassador

[youtub3e=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqCwAmZyXJo]

Donald Trump Nominates State Dept. Spokesperson Heather Nauert As UN Ambassador | NBC Nightly News

Trump to pick Heather Nauert as next UN ambassador

Heather Nauert reportedly offered UN Ambassador job

Trump picks ‘very smart, very quick’ State Department spokeswoman and former Fox anchor Heather Nauert to replace Haley as UN ambassador – but the position will be downgraded

  • President Trump named State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as the next ambassador to the United Nations 
  • Nikki Haley has held the position since the beginning of the Trump administration and will finish out the year
  • Nauert, whose nomination will require Senate confirmation, is a former Fox News Channel correspondent and anchor
  • She was shocked when she learned she would go from press flack to diplomat and recommended a colleague for the job instead before accepting
  • Position was Cabinet-level for Haley but will be downgraded for Nauert 

President Donald Trump named State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as the ambassador to the United Nations on Friday.

He told reporters at the White House that she is ‘very talented, very smart, very quick. And I think she’s going to be respected by all.’

The president said Nauert is ‘somebody that we know very well’ and ‘has done a great job’ as the State Department’s press secretary.

Nikki Haley has held the UN post since the beginning of Trump’s administration and said she would stay in the job through the end of the year.

Nauert will not enjoy nearly as much power as Haley, however, with a source confirming that the position is being downgraded. It will no longer be a Cabinet-level post.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert (left), pictured on October 18 with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will be a top diplomat in 2019 as she becomes the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert (left), pictured on October 18 with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will be a top diplomat in 2019 as she becomes the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

Nauert (left) was a Fox News reporter and anchor before entering the Trump administration

Nauert (left) was a Fox News reporter and anchor before entering the Trump administration

Trump told reporters on Friday that he had made up his mind about the ''very talented, very smart, very quick' Nauert

Nauert must win the approval of the U.S. Senate, even so. The post is still an ambassadorship, and that requires Senate confirmation.

Republicans will hold a majority of seats in the upper chamber – 53 – after January all but assuring that Nauert will win the appointment.

She said early Friday in a tweet that she is ‘humbled’ by the promotion to UN ambassador.

‘Thank you, Mr. President, for your confidence in me. I am humbled by your intent to nominate me as USUN Ambassador and, if confirmed, look forward to continuing the outstanding job Amb. Haley has done representing your Administration and the American people,’ she said in her statement.

Nauert is a former Fox News Channel correspondent and anchor who has no prior political or policy-making experience.

Before becoming the front-runner for the United Nations post, she had been a rumored contender for White House press secretary.

She became the State Department spokeswoman in April 2017, and earlier this year was named the acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6471935/Trump-picks-smart-quick-Heather-Nauert-replace-Nikki-Haley-ambassador.html

 

Story 5: Federal Bureau of Investigation Should Reopen Investigation of Clinton Foundation Based on Whistle-Blower Evidence — Videos

Sean Hannity 12/6/18 – Hannity Fox News December 6, 2018

Sean Hannity 12/7/18 [FULL] | Breaking Fox News December 7, 2018

Report: FBI raids home of Clinton Foundation whistleblower

Did John Huber ignore complaints from Clinton whistleblowers?

 

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Feds received whistleblower evidence in 2017 alleging Clinton Foundation wrongdoing

When a House subcommittee chairman bangs his gavel next week to convene an unprecedented investigative hearing into the Clinton Foundation, two questions will linger as preeminent: Is the Clinton family charity really the international do-gooder that earned a perfect four-star rating from Charity Navigator, or does it suffer from corruption and illegalities as conservatives allege? And if it is the latter, how much evidence of wrongdoing does the government possess?

The answer to the first question is that the foundation and its projects reported collecting about $2.5 billion to help global crises, from AIDS to earthquakes, even as its own auditors, lawyers and employees privately warned of problems over the years.

The answer to the second question may reside in 6,000 pages of evidence attached to a whistleblower submission filed secretly more than a year ago with the IRS and FBI.

That evidence was assembled by a private firm called MDA Analytics LLC, run by accomplished ex-federal criminal investigators, who alleged the Clinton Foundation engaged in illegal activities and may be liable for millions of dollars in delinquent taxes and penalties.

In addition to the IRS, the firm’s partners have had contact with prosecutors in the main Justice Department in Washington and FBI agents in Little Rock, Ark. And last week, a federal prosecutor suddenly asked for documents from their private investigation.

The 48-page submission, dated Aug. 11, 2017, supports its claims with 95 exhibits, including internal legal reviews that the foundation conducted on itself in 2008 and 2011.

Those reviews flagged serious concerns about legal compliance, improper commingling of personal and charity business and “quid pro quo” promises made to donors while Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

The submission also cites an interview its investigators conducted with Andrew Kessel that quotes the foundation’s longtime chief financial officer as saying he was unable to stop former President Clinton from “commingling” personal business and charitable activities inside the foundation and that he “knows where all the bodies are buried.”

“There is probable cause that the Clinton Foundation has run afoul of IRS rules regarding tax-exempt charitable organizations and has acted inconsistently with its stated purpose,” MDA Analytics alleged in its submission. “The Foundation should be investigated for all of the above-mentioned improprieties. The tax rules, codes, statutes and the rule of law should and must be applied in this case.”

Current and former Clinton Foundation sources confirm that CFO Kessel met with MDA investigators in late 2016 and subsequently was interviewed by FBI agents in 2017. But they insist he did not implicate former President Clinton or the foundation in any illegality.

They also acknowledge that the internal reviews cited in the submission were authentic and did in fact flag issues that the foundation has tried to address, including major governance changes made public in 2013.

“The Clinton Foundation has been one of the most heavily scrutinized charitable organizations in the world, and subjected to outrageous, politically motivated allegations that have been proven false time and time again,” the foundation said in a statement. “Critics continue to resurrect these false claims to try to damage the reputation of the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation. The fact is, the Clinton Foundation has demonstrably improved the lives of millions of people across America and around the world, while earning top ratings from charity watchdog groups in the process.”

MDA’s partners include experts whose work ranged from compliance by private Wall Street firms to Drug Enforcement Administration money-laundering investigations, terrorism-financing probes and U.S. attorney prosecutions. They specifically created the firm to investigate 501c3 charities. The firm wasn’t hired by clients but, rather, conducted its research on the Clinton Foundation at its own expense with the hope that its whistleblower submission might result in a government reward if the IRS substantiated wrongdoing and recovered tax dollars.

The IRS sent multiple letters in 2017 and 2018 to MDA Analytics, confirming it had received the submission and it was “still open and under active investigation.” But, shortly before last month’s election, the agency sent a preliminary denial letter indicating it did not pursue the allegations for reasons that ranged from a lack of resources to possible expiration of the statute of limitations on some allegations.

I asked a half-dozen former federal investigators to review the submission and key evidence; all said the firm’s analysis of tax-exempt compliance issues would not be that useful to federal agencies that have their own legal experts for that. But they stressed the evidence of potential criminality was strong and warranted opening an FBI or IRS probe.

“It is a very good roadmap for investigation,” said retired FBI supervisory agent Jeffrey Danik, a prior practicing certified public accountant who helped the bureau make some of its most complex financial fraud and terrorism cases during a 29-year career.

“When you have the organization’s own lawyers using words like ‘quid pro quo,’ ‘conflicts of interest’ and ‘whistleblower protections,’ you have enough to get permission to start interviewing and asking questions,” he said.

Danik said the only investigative challenge is that some documents assembled by the private investigators are marked as attorney-client privileged and federal agents might need special permission to use them.

“Given that [special counsel Robert] Mueller got the OK to investigate Michael Cohen and his attorney-client communications with President Trump, I imagine that hurdle could be overcome under the crime-fraud exception,” he said.

The whistleblower submission’s public emergence comes at a sensitive time, as President Trump has taken to Twitter in recent months to decry a lack of action by his Justice Department against the Clintons.

And a GOP-led congressional subcommittee, led by Rep. Mark Meadows(N.C.), is planning to hold a hearing next week to review the work of John Huber, the special U.S attorney named a year ago to investigate all things Clinton.

That hearing is designed to determine how much money and resources Huber has dedicated to the investigation and whether any action might be expected on issues that long have concerned conservatives, including Hillary Clinton’s transmission of classified information over an insecure private email server and the foundation’s activities.

A prosecutor working for Huber called MDA Analytics last week, seeking copies of their evidence, according to sources. The firm told the prosecutor that the FBI has possessed the evidence in its Little Rock office since early 2018, the sources said.

Some evidence that MDA investigators cited is public source, such as internal foundation reviews hacked in 2016 and given to WikiLeaks. Other materials were provided to the investigators by foreign governments that have done business with the charity, or by foundation insiders.

One of the nonpublic documents is an interview memo the MDA Analytics investigators penned after meeting with Kessel in late November 2016 at the Princeton Club in New York City.

Kessel told those investigators that “one of the biggest problems was Mr. Clinton’s commingling and use of business and donated funds and his personal expenses,” according to the whistleblower submission.

“There is no controlling Bill Clinton. He does whatever he wants and runs up incredible expenses with foundation funds,” states a separate interview memo attached to the submission.

“Bill Clinton mixes and matches his personal business with that of the foundation. Many people within the foundation have tried to caution him about this but he does not listen, and there really is no talking to him,” the memo added.

The memo also claims Kessel confirmed to the private investigators that private lawyers reviewed the foundation’s practices — once in 2008 and the other in 2011 — and each found widespread problems with governance, accounting and conflicts of interest.

“I have addressed it before and, let me tell you, I know where all the bodies are buried in this place,” the memo alleges Kessel said.

Foundation officials confirm Kessel attended the meeting but declined to describe what was discussed, except to say Kessel “strongly denies that he said or suggested that the Clinton Foundation or President Clinton engaged in inappropriate or illegal activities.”

“Mr. Kessel believed he was meeting an old professional acquaintance who was looking for business from the Foundation,” the foundation said in a statement.

MDA Analytics said it stands by the information it submitted to the IRS and can prove its accuracy.

The comments attributed to Kessel track closely to statements employees and executives of the foundation made during the 2008 and 2011 internal legal reviews.

For example, the 2008 review written by a private lawyer named Kumiki Gibson, who was hired by the foundation to study its governance, directly flagged concerns about improper commingling of charitable and private business.

“The work of the Foundation and the President are intertwined in a way that creates confusion at, and undermines the work of, the Foundation at virtually every level,” Gibson wrote, warning that such commingling poses “reputational and legal challenges, and with confusion, inefficiencies and waste.”

Specifically, the memo warned the foundation had not created policies and procedures “required by law” and that some of its leaders “appear to have interests that do not always align with those of the Foundation.”

It also raised the possibility of illegal activities, saying the foundation and its managers held an “anti-compliance attitude” and that there were lower-level employees who “begged” for whistleblower protections after witnessing “less than fully compliant behavior or even worse are asked to participate in or condone it.”

The 2011 review conducted by the law firm Simpson Thacher raised similar concerns about legal compliance and noted that auditors in 2009 and 2010 had found “material weaknesses,” such as a lack of governing board meetings and unsigned board minutes.

That report alleged some foundation workers “abuse expense privileges” and others suffered conflicts of interest, especially as the foundation solicited large donations from countries with business interests before Hillary Clinton at the State Department. “It appears conflicts are not timely disclosed” and “when staff becomes aware of conflicts they are unsure how to raise and clear these conflicts,” the report warned.

The report even raised the possibility that donors were expecting favors at State or from the former president’s government connections in return for money.

“Some interviewees reported conflicts of those raising funds or donors, some of whom may have an expectation of quid pro quo benefits in return for gifts,” the lawyers warned.

The whistleblower submission cited many of the same concerns as the internal legal reviews, but also alleged that evidence from foreign governments showed that some charity transactions were commercial in nature and therefore should have been taxed.

The evidence amassed by the private investigators should give Congress plenty to explore at its hearing next week, and put the Trump Justice Department on the spot to answer what it has done to address concerns that the foundation’s lawyers raised and the private investigators uncovered.

Quid pro quo donations, a culture of noncompliance, travel abuses and commingling of personal with charitable business are serious issues, especially when Americans trusted the Clinton Foundation to spend $2.5 billion tax free in the name of charity.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/420131-feds-received-whistleblower-evidence-in-2017-alleging-clinton-foundation

THREE whistleblowers hand over hundreds of documents ‘showing the Clinton Foundation misused funds and made quid-pro-quo promises to donors about access to Hillary’

  • Mark Meadows, who is involved in a probe into the Clinton Foundation, says three people have come forward with hundreds of pages of potential evidence 
  • Says they hint at a misuse of funds and quid-pro-quo promises made to donors
  • It was also revealed that another whistleblower gave 6,000 pages to the FBI 
  • Investigative hearing will take place in the House of Representatives next week 

Three whistleblowers have come forward with hundreds of pages of evidence suggesting wrongdoing at the Clinton Foundation, a Republican congressman says.

Mark Meadows, head of the House Oversight Subcommittee, said the documents suggest misappropriation of funds and quid-pro-quo promises made to donors during Hillary’s time as secretary of state.

Meadows spoke to Fox News about the documents ahead of an investigative hearing on the Clinton Foundation which is due to take place next week.

Three whistleblowers have handed over hundreds of pages of documents which could indicate misuse of funds and promises made to donors while Hillary was Secretary of State (file image)

The hearing will review evidence collected by U.S. Attorney John Huber, who was tasked with investigating the Foundation by ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

It comes after The Hill reported that 6,000 pages of evidence on the Clinton Foundation was secretly handed to the FBI and IRS last year.

The papers allege that the Foundation engaged in illegal activities and may be liable for millions of dollars in delinquent taxes and penalties.

The documents also showed commingling of personal and Foundation affairs, especially by former President Bill Clinton, according to The Hill.

The evidence was compiled by a firm called MDA Analytics LLC and included a submission by another whistleblower. 

A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation said at the time: ‘The Clinton Foundation has been one of the most heavily scrutinized charitable organizations in the world, and subjected to outrageous, politically motivated allegations that have been proven false time and time again.

‘Critics continue to resurrect these false claims to try to damage the reputation of the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation.

Mark Meadows, head of the House Oversight Subcommittee, spoke out about the documents ahead of a hearing into the Foundation which is due to take place next week

‘The fact is, the Clinton Foundation has demonstrably improved the lives of millions of people across America and around the world, while earning top ratings from charity watchdog groups in the process.’

Meadows has previously raised questions about a large drop in funds donated to the Foundation after Hillary lost her 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump.

Donations fell from $63 million in 2016 to $27 million in 2017.

He said: ‘The remarkable significance of the drop in Clinton foundation donations raises grave concerns their operations were not above board as the American people have been led to believe.

‘Whenever we look at the possibility of ‘pay to play’ by government officials, current or former, it demands answers–and anyone who uses public office to sell access for their own financial benefit must be held accountable.’

Meadows is a close ally of Donald Trump who has called for investigations into his former Democrat opponent.

The Clinton Foundation defended itself against the allegations, saying the fall in donations was due to the Clinton Global Initiative shutting down.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6470709/Whistleblowers-hand-hundreds-documents-Clinton-Foundation-wrongdoing.html

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