Boundaries Blur: Mega-regions and Quarantine Power Clash

The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017 discussed the Great American Divide, focusing on the impact of state boundaries on aspects such as voting power, employment benefits, taxes, and education opportunities. Researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Sheffield proposed a new perspective, suggesting that economic “mega-regions” better represent the interconnectedness of communities in the modern era. These mega-regions, which highlight the economic connections between different areas, are argued to be the real units that make up the U.S. economy. This concept gained attention from organizations like the Brookings Institution and the Regional Plan Association, as well as private sector leaders in metro areas.

In legal news, a New York Appellate Court has upheld the government’s authority to isolate and quarantine individuals with highly contagious diseases. This decision, enacted under emergency authorization powers, has raised concerns about potential consequences for American liberty. The State now has the power to lock up or lockdown individuals without proof of illness or exposure to a communicable disease, with no clear process for getting out of quarantine. This development underscores the importance of Separation of Powers and the growing lack of trust in elected leaders, government agencies, and pharmaceutical and tech companies.

The relevance of the 2014 documentary “CITIZENFOUR,” which exposed the surveillance activities of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), has been highlighted in the context of increased censorship, surveillance, and harassment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of artificial intelligence to monitor social media and online content, leading to censorship based on keywords, is a growing concern. The documentary emphasizes the need to actively reject the surveillance system and prioritize freedom and privacy.

In related news, the collection and surveillance of DNA have been discussed in the context of COVID vaccine passports and the collection of DNA samples by the FBI. The potential misuse of DNA data to target ethnic minorities or conduct biowarfare, and the lack of privacy rules regarding DNA, are among the concerns raised. The CDC’s Traveler-based Genomic Surveillance program and the involvement of Ginkgo Bioworks in biosecurity and public health initiatives were also mentioned.

In financial news, the top trade ideas for 2024 include fiat alternatives such as Bitcoin and gold. Despite underperforming in 2022, both Bitcoin and gold had a strong performance in 2023. The de-dollarization trend is a global phenomenon, and the traditional 60/40 portfolio may be showing signs of cracking. The central banks’ interest in gold and BlackRock’s warming up to Bitcoin are significant developments.

In environmental news, Chevron was working to recover operations at a refinery in Richmond, California, after a power cut triggered the release of large flames and black smoke. The Bay Area Air Quality agency asked residents to avoid smoke exposure, highlighting the potential health risks associated with sulphur dioxide exposure.

Finally, a Grattan Institute report has revealed a drop in the number of Australians getting vaccinated against COVID-19, shingles, and other serious diseases. The report calls for a reset of national immunisation strategies to target more high-risk groups and proposes a vaccine ‘surge’ before winter to ensure as many people are protected as possible. The report also highlights the need for more funding for immunisers and community groups to reach people in aged care homes, some cultural groups, indigenous Australians, and homeless people.

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