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DHS Says COVID Misinformation Fuels Terrorism

It’s Friday, February 11th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) DHS Says COVID Misinformation Fuels Terrorism

The Topline: A new bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security on February 7th warns that “false or misleading narratives” about COVID-19 could be fueling terrorism and says those who publicly question the government’s protocols regarding mandates and restrictions are creating a “heightened threat environment.”

Quote Of The Day: “They basically said, we’re watching you. We’re watching everything you put on social media. And then we could label you a terrorist.”

– Kirk Milhoan, a pediatric cardiologist

Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

DHS Bulletin

The advisory warns that “false or misleading narratives,” are “[sowing] discord” and “[undermining] public trust in U.S. government institutions.” It also gives the example of “widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding COVID-19” on social media. The bulletin doesn’t explain exactly what qualifies as Covid misinformation, but mentions vaccine and mask mandates

Homeland Security issued a similar bulletin in August that specifically cited the questioning of vaccine effectiveness as a possible cause of terrorism. The report said extremists may use the “potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.”

Some doctors are questioning DHS’s motivation to issue this bulletin since COVID debates haven’t been the driving factor of widespread and notable violence. Some doctors are also worried that if they gather for a COVID summit to discuss their concerns concerning vaccinations in children or mask efficacy, they could be punished under the auspices that they’re fomenting violence. 

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images

2) Inflation Hits 40-Year High

The Topline: Inflation hit another 40-year high last month with food, gas, energy, and auto prices all up double digits. 

Quote Of The Day: “We’ve simply never pulled down this much inflation without a recession or a major slowdown in the jobs market.”

– Peter Morici, University of Maryland economist 

The Numbers

Inflation increased 7.5% in the past year, and is now at its highest rate in 40 years, according to the latest consumer price data from the Labor Department.

Inflation from December to January was 0.6%, which was the same as the month before and much higher than economists had predicted. This is on top of even larger month-to-month inflation in previous months. For example, there was a 0.9% increase from September to October and 0.7% increase from October to November.

7.5% inflation in one year has essentially made obsolete any pay increases many people may have received. Based on survey data, U.S. companies are expecting to pay an average 3.4% raise to workers this year to compensate, which is less than half of the inflation rate.

Gasoline is up by 40%, energy is up 27%, and basic foods such as meat, fish, and eggs are up 12.2%. There is also an increase of 5.6% for transportation costs. New car prices are up 12.2%, and used cars are up 40.5%.

Potential Causes

There is a general shortage of supplies and workers, which is caused by supply chain breakdowns, unemployment, or resignations, along with high levels of federal spending, with trillions of dollars being artificially pumped into the economy. Interest rates are also low, which impacts inflation.

Job openings in the U.S. are near an all-time high, but a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November alone. Economists say people are quitting because of COVID-19 concerns, child care, burnout, or increased financial security following the pandemic.

Hu Huhu/Xinhua/Xinhua News Agency / Contributor via Getty Images

3) U.S. Wins Gold

The Topline: The Olympics sees allegations of “doping” against a member of Russia’s figure skating team as America takes home multiple golds. 

Doping Scandal

On Wednesday in Beijing, the medal ceremony for the team figure skating event was delayed due to a reported positive drug test from the gold medal-winning Russian team. On Wednesday, it was reported that 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned substance.

According to Russian media, the substance is trimetazidine, used to treat chest pain, and was found in a sample collected two months prior to the Olympics. It’s unclear if its use has any athletic benefit, but Chinese swimmer Sun Yang served a three-month ban for testing positive for the same drug in 2014. 

According to Reuters, “Trimetazidine is listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of metabolic modulators and is prohibited both in and out of competition.” It is used in order to treat severe chest pain, and could improve endurance and increase blood flow.

United States

In the first few days of events, the U.S. team had not secured a gold medal, but that changed on Thursday. 

Snowboarding star Chloe Kim won her second straight gold medal in the women’s halfpipe, scoring a 94 on her first run, and becoming the first American woman to win two gold medals in the halfpipe event. Kim won her first gold medal at the 2018 Games, when she was 17 years old. 

On Thursday, Nathan Chen became the first U.S. men’s Olympic figure skater since 2010 to win a gold medal. Chen claimed the gold days after setting the world-record score with the highest score in the history of the short program, receiving a score of 113.97 from the judges. Chen landed a triple axel and two quadruple jumps in his routine, vaulting the American to the top of the leaderboard. Chen’s performance was a rebound from his result at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, where he was the favorite to win the gold medal but finished in fifth place.

Team US is now in fourth place with 11 total medals, and we now have 4 gold medals in Beijing. On Wednesday, Lindsey Jacobellis won Team USA’s first gold, winning the snowboard cross final. At 36 years of age, She became the oldest female U.S. Olympian to win a gold medal – this is her fifth Olympics. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Pfizer

Next week, advisers for the Food and Drug Administration will determine whether or not to support administering two doses of the COVID Pfizer vaccine to children 6 months to 4 years old. Results from clinical trials of a third dose are not yet in.

GOP

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said this week that if Republicans win the majority in the House this year, he’ll create a committee on China to look into the origins of COVID-19. He also said they would investigate whether the Biden family made millions in deals with the Chinese government while Joe Biden served as vice president.

Joe Rogan

Podcaster Joe Rogan discussed a viral video compilation of him using the “n-word” this week, slamming it on his podcast as a “political hit job.” “You should apologize if you regret something,” he said. “But I do think you have to be very careful not to apologize for nonsense.” 

Superbowl Sunday

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement that a Canadian trucker convoy may spread into the United States.The documents, obtained by Yahoo News, say the convoy could start as soon as Superbowl Sunday and will travel from California to Washington D.C. picking up truckers as they cross the country. The Canadian truckers have blocked border crossings in protest of covid policies.

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