In Google’s early years, users would type in a query and get back a page of 10 “blue links” that led to different websites. “We want to get you out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible,” co-founder Larry Page said in 2004.
Today, Google often considers that “right place” to be Google, an investigation by The Markup has found.
We examined more than 15,000 recent popular queries and found that Google devoted 41 percent of the first page of search results on mobile devices to its own properties and what it calls “direct answers,” which are populated with information copied from other sources, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.
When we examined the top 15 percent of the page, the equivalent of the first screen on an iPhone X, that figure jumped to 63 percent. For one in five searches in our sample, links to external websites did not appear on the first screen at all.
A trending search in our data for “myocardial infarction” shows how Google has piled up its products at the top. It returned:
- Google’s dictionary definition.
- A “people also ask” box that expanded to answer related questions without leaving the search results page.
- A “knowledge panel,” which is an abridged encyclopedia entry with various links.
- And a “related conditions” carousel leading to various new Google searches for other diseases.
All of these appeared before search results by WebMD, Harvard University, and Medscape. In fact, a user would have to scroll nearly halfway down the page—about 42 percent—before reaching the first “organic” result in that search.
Google’s decision to place its products above competitors’ and to present “answers” on the search page has led to lawsuits and regulatory fines. A number of websites said it killed their revenues—and their companies. Founders of both innovative startups and companies that had been around for a decade or more told The Markup that once Google started placing its product first, they didn’t stand a chance.
Travel research firm Skift wrote in November that the entire online travel industry is suffering. “The fact that Google is leveraging its dominance as a search engine into taking market share away from travel competitors is no longer even debatable.”
The choice to highlight its own products has been deliberate: Internal emails unearthed by the European Commission in an antitrust investigation show Google staffers discussing the need to place its comparison-shopping product at the top of the search results to garner traffic. An email the following year noted traffic to the retooled product had more than doubled from four million to 10 million visits, and “most of this growth is from improved google.com integration.”
Sally Hubbard, an expert on antitrust and technology companies with the Open Markets Institute, said Google’s decisions in search have huge implications. “Imagine you go to the library, and the card catalog is picking and choosing what book to get based on what makes the library the most money.”
Google makes five times as much revenue through advertising on its own properties as it does selling ad space on third-party websites.
In a written statement, Google spokesperson Lara Levin took issue with The Markup counting “answers,” related queries, and similar results as “Google” in our analysis.
“Providing feedback links, helping people reformulate queries or explore topics, and presenting quick facts is not designed to preference Google. These features are fundamentally in the interest of users, which we validate through a rigorous testing process,” she said. “Sometimes, the most helpful information will be a link to another website—other times, it will be a map, a restaurant listing, a video or an image.”
Levin called The Markup’s methodology “flawed and misleading.” She criticized it for being “based on a non-representative sample of searches” and said using Google Trends makes it more likely that results would include Google “knowledge panels” than a random sample would. However, Google has not publicly released a random sample of searches for research.
In response to Page’s 2004 quote about the company’s mission to get people “out of Google,” Levin said times have changed: “As a search engine, Google’s mission is to quickly direct searchers to great information, wherever that information is, as Page went on to explain. At that time, that generally meant to direct people from search results to websites. As search technologies have developed, that’s not always the best way to assist people.”
She did not answer questions about whether those changes present the search engine with a conflict of interest.
Nearly nine in 10 U.S. web searches are performed on Google.
The effects of placing its own products on the search page can be stark: In the nine years since Google Flights and Google Hotels launched, those sites have become market leaders. They garnered almost twice as many U.S. site visits last year as each of their largest competitors, Expedia.com and Booking.com, even though we found Google Flights doesn’t always show users all the options.
“Google makes the most money when, long term, they can addict searchers to their platform,” said Rand Fishkin, a search engine analyst and frequent Google critic who found that 12 percent of real-world clicks on the search results page go to Google properties. “If Google can train you, don’t go to Genius.com, don’t go to TripAdvisor, don’t go to the restaurant’s website, just come to Google—always come to Google—then they win.”
Levin said some regulators have defended the company’s practices, pointing to the Federal Trade Commission’s 2013 ruling that highlighting its products on search “could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google’s product”; and a U.K. High Court finding in 2016 that returning Google Maps for location queries was not an abuse of market dominance.
Although the FTC decided not to take legal action, as Google notes, it did require the company to change some practices. Google agreed to allow websites to opt out of having their content scraped for Google Flights, Google Hotels, and local business listings.
And at least some FTC staffers had concluded that Google’s boosting its own properties in search rankings “led to a significant decrease in traffic for the websites of many vertical competitors,” according to an internal FTC report, half of which was accidentally provided to The Wall Street Journal. At the time, Google responded, “Speculation about consumer or competitor harm turned out to be entirely wrong.”
Levin said the company “continues to engage” with regulators conducting myriad active probes of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Fifty U.S. attorneys general are currently investigating its ads and search business for potential antitrust violations. The Federal Trade Commission is examining past acquisitions by tech companies, including Google, for harm to competition. Politico reported that the Department of Justice will file an antitrust lawsuit against the company soon. The European Commission, which has already issued three multibillion-dollar fines against Alphabet for antitrust violations since 2017, launched a preliminary investigation into Google for Jobs in 2019.
“Google helped build the free internet. And now they’re helping dismantle what they built,” said Chris Cummings, CEO of Curiosity Media, which owns the translation website SpanishDict.com.
The site provides free translations and dictionary entries, many written by linguists and translators, he said. It is ad-supported and needs web traffic to survive. For years, he said, it grew as Google grew. But then Google began giving the top spot in searches to Google Translate, which is automated and asks users for corrections.
“The big loss is for consumers,” he added, “because nobody thinks that Google Translate is the most accurate translator.”
He said data from the Google Search Console tool for websites shows SpanishDict gets as high as 80 percent or more of the clicks when it’s the top result but only 2 percent when Google Translate appears above it.
“If we’re only getting 2 percent of the click-through, there’s no business to run here. We only exist because there are still some queries where they don’t put their stuff at the top,” he said. He said Google’s actions “have affected our ability to invest in the future.”
Levin did not respond to questions about Google Translate or its effect on SpanishDict.
SpanishDict.com showed up three times in our sample, each time below either Google Translate or Google’s dictionary.
Pushed Down the Page
To determine the amount of space Google dedicates on the search page to direct answers and its own products, we built a custom scraper to gather all trending Google searches for two months, starting in November 2019. Then we built another scraper to run the searches as they would appear on mobile devices, where the majority of searches now occur. We wrote more than 1,000 lines of code to parse and analyze the resulting dataset, which contained more than 1 million rows.
We found that the majority of links to and results for non-Google sites were pushed down to the bottom-middle of the page, where data shows users are less likely to click.
We categorized search results into four types: Google, non-Google, ads, and AMP, a web format created by Google four years ago. AMP pages are hosted by Google but created and monetized by publishers.
AMP has been controversial, with some publishers and developers saying it gives Google too much control over the web. The company tells website owners that using it makes them eligible “for more prominent presentation of thumbnail images in search results and in the Google Discover feed.” Because AMP has some features of a Google result and some features of a non-Google result, we gave it its own category.
Levin objected to that decision, saying AMP results should be non-Google. “Those are outbound links to publishers and other web creators. To suggest otherwise is not factual,” she said. She also said our results may be heavy on AMP content because our sample, Google Trends, leans toward breaking news, which triggers “top stories” carousels. The news stories in those carousels were often delivered in AMP in our data.
Direct answers include “featured snippets,” which excerpt content from websites, and “knowledge panels,” which show summaries and facts drawn from the “knowledge graph,” Google’s fact database curated from other sources. They also include weather, sports statistics, and dictionary definitions. All of these appeared on the first search results page, typically at the top, without the need to click through.
Google acknowledged in written comments to Congress last fall that one major reason people end a search is because Google’s modules provided the answer on the search page.
In our sample, Google featured its dictionary definitions before Urban Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Dictionary.com, Wikipedia, Merriam Webster, and Investopedia, among others. And searches for song titles typically returned a YouTube video in the top spot, followed by the lyrics, displayed in full on the search results page.
Levin said Google does not give preference to YouTube, its subsidiary. Recent tests by The Wall Street Journal found that it did.
The quantity of Google results in some searches in our sample was quite large. A search for the Shania Twain song “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” which was trending during our study, returned the following on the first page: links to four YouTube videos in various positions on the page; a box labeled “about” with some hyperlinked facts that led to new Google searches; a box labeled “people also search for,” which led to a new Google search; and a “people also ask” box. Together, direct answers and results leading to Google products took up 67 percent of the first search results page for that query. Non-Google results took up only 22 percent of the page.
Even some of the “traditional” results that appeared after the Google results in that query were touched by its hand. Genius.com and Biography.com’s results were delivered in AMP.
Competing with Advertisers
Travel websites are among those who say they have suffered from Google Search’s preferential treatment of Google products. TripAdvisor, which laid off 200 workers in January, pointed to Google “siphoning off quality traffic that would otherwise find TripAdvisor” as its “most significant challenge.”
In queries for specific airlines that appeared in our sample, Google presented Google Flights at the top of the results page, before links to the airlines’ own websites. A search for “nonstop flight” also returned Google Flights in the top spot, above competitors.
And travel sites aren’t just Google’s competitors; they’re also its customers. Together, Expedia and Booking spent $5.8 billion on Google advertising in the 12 months ending in September 2019, according Skift, the travel research firm.
“When they compete against their advertisers … I think it’s bad practice,” Barry Diller, chairman of Expedia Group, said during an earnings call in February in which he called Google an “existential” threat.
In the industry, Google Flights is not seen as the best product. It did not crack the top 10 of Frommer’s 2020 ranking of airfare search engines, for instance.
The Markup found that Google Flights did not always display the cheapest fares or all available flights, even when those fares and flights showed up in ITA Matrix, which is powered by the same software Google acquired in 2010 and used to launch Google Flights.
For example, a search on Google Flights for a one-way flight from Billings, Mont., to London’s Heathrow on Feb. 19 showed the cheapest flight was $1,068. The same search on Orbitz turned up a flight for $772, while ITA Matrix offered $766.69.
And when The Markup searched for a one-way flight from Morgantown, W.Va., to New York City on Feb. 21, Orbitz produced a long list of results, including a three-hour-and-40-minute journey that combined flights from Southern Airways and American Airlines with a stop in Pittsburgh for $253.47. The same search on ITA Matrix showed the same flight at a different time for $242.40. But a Google Flights search showed nothing: “Aw snap, no results.”
The hours of the Vichy regime forever sully French history and insult the French past and traditions. President Jacque Chirac on July 17, 1995 confessed that the criminal folly of the Nazi occupiers was seconded by the French state. In his new book, The King of Nazi Paris, Christopher Othen recounts the sordid Gothic horror story of a group of malefactors, a gang of criminals, crooks, pimps, corrupt and disgraced police, mafiosi, fallen celebrities, fake aristocrats, pimps, gold traffickers, even a former captain of the French national football team, who worked for the Nazis during World War II against the French resistance. Villains had come out of the shadows of the Paris underworld and played a role during the Occupation, aiding the Nazis at a time when France was a disoriented and confused country.
The Carlingue gang, sometimes known as the Bande de la Rue Lauriston, or Bonny-Lafont, was a major criminal organization under the Occupation. The name Carlingue, the cabin of an aircraft, implies it was an organization of structure and strength. The criminal activity of the gang included looting property — especially of Jewish goods — gold deals, stolen art, protection rackets, but it is most notorious for treason, torture, and murder of members of the French resistance on behalf of the Nazis.
The Nazi handlers allowed the Carlingue gang, said to number 30,000, immunity in return for part of the profits obtained by the gang’s activities and for information supplied. Some of the gang were given Gestapo identity cards to avoid arrest. The gang was not interested in Vichy’s plans for a New France. Nor were they motivated for ideological reasons or pro-Nazi sympathies, but by self-interest, greed, and contempt for conventional morality. Indeed, the investigation of enemies of the Nazi occupiers was a distraction from the main objective, making money.
However, this gang, formed by intervention of the Nazi Reich Main Security Office (RHSA), to conduct counterinsurgency against the French Resistance, became responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of resistance fighters tortured to get information and murdered. The known tortures included the “bathtub,” submerging an individual in a bath filled with ice cold water until he was pulled out by the hair, the use of portable batteries attached to testicles or nipples, the tearing of nails, the filing of teeth.
At a four-story building with high ceilings and large salons, number 93, rue Lauriston in the prestigious 16th arrondissement in Paris, a plaque is placed in homage to the “Resistants tortured on this site during the Occupation, 1940-44, by French people, auxiliary agents of the Gestapo named Bonny-Lafont.” The building is close to the former headquarters of the Nazi organizations, the Wehrmacht and the Sicherheitsdienst, intelligence agency of the SS.
The leader of the group was Henri Chamberlin, a social misfit who was abandoned as a child and spent a number of years in prison, a petty criminal in the Paris underworld whose life was changed by a chance encounter in a prison camp. He was a petty criminal who had served several prison terms became the most powerful crook in the country. In the disoriented and confused France after its defeat in the war. Chamberlain asked the Abwehr which occupied Hotel Lutetia for work. At age 38 he became a German agent, and in summer 1942 he was officially named agent BOE43 and given Gestapo yellow identity cards with Nazi eagle stamps. Chamberlin adopted the pseudonym Henri Lafont. He was made a citizen of the German Reich, and an officer in the Wehrmacht.
Lafont was a powerful figure, combining various attributes — charisma, intimidation, use of violence – along with immediate access to Abwehr, the German military intelligence agency that reported directly to the German High Command.
Lafont had cordial relations with the principle personalities of the Vichy regime and French collaborators, having tactical meetings not only with Vichy leader Pierre Laval, but Marcel Deat, head of the anti-Semitic National Popular Rally (RNP), and Joseph Darnand, head of the Milice and a Waffen SS officer. He could spring people from prison by a telephone call. As a spymaster, he gave information directly to local Gestapo agents. He probably had more influence with the Nazis than did Laval. Lafont protected the Duc d’Ayen, whom the Gestapo wanted killed; instead Lafont used him to blackmail the Paris Gestapo. He protected the Peugeot factory. He appeared to be uneasy hunting down French patriots, and had little interest in anti-Semitism, as shown by his protection of Joseph Joinovoci, a corrupt Jewish scrap-metal dealer. At times, Lafont had delusions of ambitions, thinking he might become police prefect of Paris.
Lafont was joined by Pierre Bonny, once the best known, if notorious and corrupt, policeman in Paris. Bonny had been involved in sensational cases: the Guillaume Seznec case where Bonny was accused of falsifying evidence; the Alexander Stavisky case of January 1934; and Albert Prince , adviser to the Paris Court of Appeal, whom he may have assassinated. Bonny was involved in blackmailing criminals, and those officials caught with prostitutes. In 1935 Bonny was jailed for three years for corruption.
Lafont was the French Godfather. He was approached by people paying respect, he arranged protection, he settled disputes. Even Maurice Chevalier came to ask a favor since he had been criticized for performing in some Occupation revues, though he was hiding a Jewish family in the free zone. Lafont helped Violette Morris, the troubled bisexual race-car driver and prominent athlete and cigar smoker, and collaborator. Lafont protected the notorious serial killer doctor Marcel Petiot. Among Lafont’s recruits was the celebrated football player, Alex Villaplane, the first player of North African origin to represent France.
Lafont bankrolled a production of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Though he lived in a world of double crossers, spies, and informers, he prospered and became accustomed to the high life, traveling in a white Bentley, wearing an SS Hauptsturmfuhrer uniform as well as the best clothes, dining at Maxim’s and restaurants serving sole and pressed duck and oysters. He was a lover of orchids, and a host of lavish parties with socialites, young actresses, business people, press barons, and German officers. Women with titles and pedigrees fell into his bed.
The Bonny-Lafont gang looted property, especially Jewish property, made gold deals, were involved in the protection racket, traded on the black market, stole art, and most important infiltrated resistance groups, and caused the death of their members. Lafont had ambitiously planned to enlist 50,000 North African, POWs from German camps, into a private army he would control. Instead, a paramilitary group, Brigade Nord-Africain, was created in January 1944 by Lafont and the Algerian nationalist and anti-Semite Mohamed el-Maadi. It was composed of Muslims recruited among North Africans living in France, mostly in Paris, to fight against the French Resistance. In reality, they were more criminals and murderers, more engaged in atrocities against civilians, than in fighting the Resistance.
With the Allied invasion of France, life changed for heroes and villains. Ernest Hemingway was at the Ritz, Edith Piaf was singing at Ciro’s, the 16th arrondissement restaurant, U.S. and UK troops were dining free at the Tour d’Argent. As the Allied troops were nearing Paris, Lafont ordered the dismantling of Carlingue, the files were burned, and members of the gang fled. Lafont was arrested living on a farm, and sent on trial at which a host of issues were discussed: spying for the Abwehr, a mission to Algiers, the Duc d’Ayen affair, theft of silverware from the U.S. embassy, the Brigade Nord-Africain, and the arrests and murders for the Gestapo.
The jury on December 12, 1944 found Chamberlin-Lafont and his associates guilty and sentenced them to death. Charles de Gaulle, then head of the Provisional Government of France, denied clemency. The French courts of justice executed 1,500 between October 1944 and January 1951, Chamberlin-Lafont was among them on December 26, 1944. He had three lives; orphan, criminal, power player in Occupied Paris. His time was up: “I bet on a bad horse. I lost, the time of holding four aces in my hand is over.”
Here’s the good news for opponents of lockdowns and mask mandates: They don’t work. However, that is also the bad news. Because they don’t work, politicians who have seized power by executive fiat for months on end can continue promulgating even more life-altering rules, precisely because the original ones never worked!
Americans are now facing this predicament: The more the effectiveness of these executive policies is disproven, the more the politicians use that lack of results as a pretext for even more rules. Thus, if stay-at-home orders failed to work as promised, they demand mask-wearing. If mask-wearing was in place for months and still didn’t work, which has been the case in most hot spots, then they mandate mask-wearing in personal homes in Broward County, Florida, and for two-year-olds in Baltimore County, Maryland. Because you know, the only possible explanation for continued spread of a virus that is not deadly for most people is that two-year-olds weren’t wearing masks. Never mind studies from nearly every major European country showing kids, particularly young kids, do not contribute to community spread, even if masks did work.
Speaking of European countries, it’s time to dispel one of the more popular myths propagated by our new dictators. We are constantly being lectured to by the “experts” that America didn’t have enough of a lockdown and that is the reason why we are still seeing a spread of the virus while Europe seems to be done with it. A new eye-opening analysis from the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) shows that America had just as severe a lockdown as most European countries and in fact had a longer-lasting lockdown than every country except for England.
The accusation that America didn’t lock down enough is based on three premises – that we locked down later than Europe, didn’t lock down as hard, and reopened earlier. As Phillip Magness of AIER proves using the University of Oxford’s stringency index of lockdowns, all three are untrue.
Using a scale of 1-100, Oxford researchers gave one point to each country for a list of 17 policies that they implemented during the epidemic and tracked that aggregate score over time.
As you can see, after achieving a 72.69 score on March 21, we have essentially plateaued for months. The reality is that most of America, including many states with surges in cases, have been locked down the entire time and remain essentially locked down.
As Magness observes, the U.S. was well within the median of Europe’s score:
At its peak, the US stringency index reached comparable levels with Great Britain (75.93), Belgium (81.48), the Netherlands (79.63), Germany (73.15), Norway (79.63), Denmark (72.22) and Switzerland (73.15). Among comparable developed nations, only Italy, France, and Ireland topped the 90 point mark on the index.
What about the start time? Was America late to the party relative to the European countries?
Of these countries, almost all imposed their most stringent policies at exactly the same time – the week surrounding the March 16th release of the Imperial College report, which also corresponded with the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration on March 11th. Only Italy – an early hotspot – preceded this wave of lockdowns, having imposed them in late February.
Thus, America started when everyone else did – except for Italy – and achieved essentially the same lockdown score within a week.
But here’s the real kicker: the myth of the great American reopening. Not only did the reopening in most places in the U.S. not begin before most European countries, but the reopening in Europe has been much more encompassing to this very day.
As of July 4th and even with slow reopenings underway in most states, the stringency index shows that the United States (68.89) as a whole still remained under heavier restrictions than any country in Western Europe except for the comparably-shuttered United Kingdom (69.91).
Hence, after causing so much collateral damage, lockdowns don’t even work to stop the spread! America is locked down and has been the entire time.
Take Switzerland, for example. It opened up much earlier than the U.S. and is now at a 36.57 index, almost half that of the U.S.
Then, of course, there is Sweden, which never achieved more than a 46 index.
The results? Sweden is essentially done with the virus.
In America, the virus continues to spread, despite a much more severe lockdown than Sweden and a much longer one than nearly every European country.
Even the few states that opened up in late April or early May are clearly not responsible for the spread, because the virus did not spread during the key weeks following the reopening. The timing of the spread in southern states is much more in line with the rioting and protests, which would explain why we had a resurgence that Europe, thus far, has not seen on a large scale.
Also, let’s not forget that most states that reopened still had very strict rules in the urban areas that have seen most of the new cases, such as Miami-Dade County. Both Miami and Los Angeles have seen a surge in cases following long-standing mask requirements:
On the other hand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Belarus, Norway, and France never had compulsory mask rules, and yet they appear to be done with the epidemic, at least for now. Whereas countries in Asia with near universal mask-wearing, such as Hong Kong and the Philippines, are seeing new waves of the virus.
Kim Kardashian has broken her silence on Kanye West’s ongoing bipolar disorder episode.
On her Instagram Story, Kardashian, 39, shared she felt the need to comment on her husband’s health because of “the stigma and misconceptions about mental health” as he goes on Twitter tirades about his family, divorce and her friendship with Meek Mill.
“As many of you know, Kanye has bi-polar disorder. Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand,” she wrote. “I’ve never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I am very protective of our children and Kanye’s right to privacy when it comes to his health. But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health.”
Kardashian also explained that families who struggle with someone who suffers from mental illness are “powerless unless the member is a minor.”
“People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual themselves have to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard family and friends try,” she continued.
The E! reality star defended her husband, 43, and said he can often be misunderstood, especially when it comes to his words and actions that “can cause strong opinions and emotions.”
“He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder,” she wrote. “Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words do not align with his intentions.”
Kardashian ended her message asking fans for compassion and empathy and thanked everyone who expressed concern for West’s wellbeing.
Most notably, she signed her message Kim Kardashian West.
“She is staying focused on helping him and his health right now,” a source close to Kardashian also told Page Six on Wednesday. “There’s no conversation about divorce.”
With a surge in COVID-19 cases being traced back to Bahamians traveling from the United States, the Bahamas has announced a two-week lockdown of the island of Grand Bahama, which is leading a wave of new infections after being coronavirus free for months.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, speaking before a cabinet meeting Tuesday, said the lockdown will take effect at 7 p.m. Thursday and run until 5 a.m. August 7.
He added that effective 6 p.m. Tuesday, all domestic flights in and out of Grand Bahama will cease. The Royal Bahamas Defense Force, Minnis warned, will also form a perimeter around the island to prevent any boats from leaving or entering the island.
The new restrictions come as the Bahamas prepares to re-institute a nationwide travel ban against commercial flights from the United States beginning at midnight Wednesday. Visitors traveling on pleasure crafts, yachts and private aircraft with nine seats or less from the U.S. less will still be permitted, along with commercial flights from Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom.
All visitors are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 10 days of travel from an accredited laboratory to gain entry into the country.
“Epidemiological control of the virus in Grand Bahama requires adherence to strict shelter in place to prevent and control the spread, which will worsen if preventive measures are not taken quickly and adhere to,” Minnis said.
After more than two months of not recording any cases of COVID-19, Grand Bahama has “seen a significant increase in cases,” Minnis said. “The island has been classified as a COVID-19 hotspot by health officials.”
As of Monday, Grand Bahama accounted for 59 of the Bahamas’ 153 COVID-19 infections. Minnis said 51 of the cases were recorded after the Bahamas fully reopened its borders to international travel on July 1.
“Outside of New Providence, Grand Bahama now has the largest number of recorded cases in the Bahamas,” he said. “The number of confirmed cases is expected to increase if much of the population continues to fail to practice recommendations for physical distancing, wearing protective face coverings and frequent and thorough hand washing.”
Like most countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, the Bahamas closed its borders in March to control the transmission of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. But as soon as the restrictions were lifted, Bahamians, who frequently traveled to Miami for everything from cars to food, hopped aircraft and flew to Florida, where the number of cases of COVID-19 has been rapidly increasing. Health officials have said the new infections have been traced back to people traveling to the U.S.
Minnis said he made the decision for a lockdown and other restrictive measures based on the advice of health officials and after 20 new cases were confirmed on Grand Bahama on Monday.
“A lockdown like this is not something that would have been preferred. But it is absolutely necessary because things will get much worse on Grand Bahama if we don’t take this strong measure now,” Minnis said.
In recent days, a seven-member team from the ministry of health has been mobilized on Grand Bahama to assist with identification, testing and contact tracing.
The Bahamas government this week also launched a pre-clearance center at several South Florida airports, including Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, for private planes to limit contact with Bahamian customs agents and other workers in the country. By being pre-cleared in the United States, private plans can fly directly to their island destination without any additional formalities.
“Well, you know, one of the problems that I think we have is a lot of these sensitive topics we do not want to address but we do not want to address these sensitive topics so what we try to do is water them down and shout people down,” he said, per Fox News.
Walker, who just so happens to be a supporter of President Trump, challenged the decision of the NBA and NFL to put the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on their fields, courts and sports jersey and made a case that “some people may not believe in BLM.”
“I’m not sure what they stand for,” he said, “so how could the NFL say we will support BLM or we will do this here without having the players to say what they want because you cannot put that on a player who may disagree with you,” Walker explained.
Cuban said the decision by the NBA to paint it on several courts was driven by player requests.
“Wait, wait, no, no,” Walker interjected. “I think Mark is totally correct. We have to address it but you don’t address it by saying we will do it without knowing what it is you are doing. No one is coming up with solutions like we will put BLM well…,” he trailed off.
“Not to question you, Mark, but do you know what the organization stands for? Besides saying, Black Lives Matter. Because I say one of the things that we have to address is Americans’ lives matter.”
“Herschel, they’re not mutually exclusive,” Cuban fired back. Every life matters but when someone is in trouble you address them first. The Black community has had issues and I think, you know, systemic racism has been here for generations and it’s not going away unless we do something about it.”
Rioters Tear Down Statue and Erect BLM Statue, Here’s What Happened
Rioters have been vandalizing and tearing down statues all across America of those individuals who they claim to be racists.
But that has all been just a front. That’s not really what’s going on, because they’ve been tearing down statues of Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists, as well as decapitating a statue of Jesus.
This article may sound as though it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I promise you that it is 100% the truth.
If you live in the state of California, I would seriously consider finding somewhere else to live because things may get really bad very soon (as though things weren’t bad enough already).
Black Lives Matter Leader Faces Child Porn Charges, Now We Know Why They Want To Defund The Police
Christopher DeVries is one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police movement.
DeVries, who worked at the Municipal Budget Committee for the town of Conway, New Hamshire, was arrested on six counts of possession of child sex abuse images.
Dr Fauci Claims New York is the Model to Follow – ‘They Did it Correctly’
Despite leading the country in deaths by a substantial margin, Dr Fauci claims New York is the model to follow when it comes to the virus.
Con Man Michael Avenatti Unable to Pay Legal Fees According to His Lawyer
According to his California attorney, Michael Avenatti is completely broke and unable to pay his legal fees, according to a report from Fox News.
A motion was filed by Dean Steward on Saturday which provided details about the tax woes of Avenatti and requests taxpayer assistance to help him cover his costs.
Cocoa Beach Police Officer Adrian Kosicki was walking along the beach with his wife on Thursday when they noticed a shark approaching the boy in the shallows just offshore, police wrote on Facebook.
Police shared a bystander’s video showing a shark fin cutting through the water’s surface as it swims toward the boy.
“Hey buddy! Hey, there’s a shark right there,” an onlooker says before another shouts, “There he is!”
The quick-thinking Kosicki jumped into the water and grabbed hold of the boy, dragging him through the surf toward shore as the shark swam “dangerously close,” police said. Kosicki and the boy reached the safety of the beach as the shark swam within just feet of them, according to the video.
The species of shark wasn’t immediately clear.
“We’re certainly not marine biologists, educated and trained to differentiate between the various species of sharks, their respective feeding habits and aggressiveness near swimmers,” police wrote. “We just do what we do best — protect the public from harm.”
Florida sees the most shark attacks during the months of July, August, September and October, when the water temperature rises and human activity increases in the waters, the Brevard Times reported.
Brevard County, where Cocoa Beach is located, has Florida’s second highest number of shark attacks behind Volusia County, according to the paper. Volusia County, home to Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach, is known as the shark bite capital of the world.
“Thanks to Adrian, we’ll never know what that shark’s intentions were, and that little boy will forever have a pretty cool story to tell,” police said. “Great job!”
Picture yourself watching Michael Jordan from Row 1 courtside with no fans in the building, just you sitting virtually alone with an unobstructed view of the greatest basketball player of all time.
Now picture sitting on the glass to witness Wayne Gretzky play, no one sitting in front of or around you as the greatest hockey player of all time performs his magic on ice.
Sitting in the dugout and watching Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron hit home runs.
Standing on the sideline watching Tom Brady or Joe Montana engineer a two-minute drill.
Or being courtside with no one around you watching Roger Federer or Serena Williams play.
Such was the scene at the Memorial Tournament’s opening round Thursday with Tiger Woods playing in his first tournament in five months — in front of no spectators for the first time in his career.
At 1:17 p.m., an announcer at the first tee barked out Woods’ name to introduce him to the smattering of tour officials and media who were on hand for his tee time alongside No. 1 ranked Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.
And all you heard was, well, nothing.
No roar. No clapping. No knuckleheads bellowing, “Get in the hole’’ or “You da man’’ as he teed off.
It was silent.
It was weird.
As Woods, McIlroy and Koepka walked off the first tee and toward the adventures of their respective rounds, the only sounds you heard were the players’ clubs quietly clanking inside their bags as their caddies trudged on in the 90-degree heat.
Under normal circumstances, which is to say no pandemic restrictions and 30,000 fans at the event, the buzz around these three heavyweights of the game playing in the same group would be palpable. Thousands would have lined both sides of the fairways at the ropes.
The theater without the buzz of the fans as dulled to a degree, but it was fascinating nonetheless — despite the fact that none of the three made a significant charge up the leaderboard.
Woods, with a birdie on 18, finished with a 1-under 71 to stand in a tie for 18th while McIlroy was the low man in the group at 2-under and Koepka posted an even-par 72.
But the chance to see Woods so up-close in a major-championship-like field was unique. It’s something people would pay a lot of money for, and that privilege was not lost on the few who were in attendance.
“The energy wasn’t the same without the fans,’’ Woods said after his round. “That certainly was noticeable, mostly different. [But] I still felt the same eagerness, edginess, nerviness starting out, and it was good. It was a good feel. I haven’t felt this in a while.’’
Woods hadn’t played in a tournament since he finished last in the Genesis Invitational in February. Thursday marked 151 days since he’d last played in competition. He was 2-under after three holes, but failed to capitalize on it. Still, considering the layoff and the difficult conditions, it was a decent start.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played,’’ Woods said. “I got off to almost an ideal start and got a feel for the round early. I just didn’t make anything today. I had looks at birdies, but I really didn’t make much.
“I was very pleased the way I drove it, my feel for my irons. I just didn’t quite hit the putts hard enough. Most of my putts were dying, didn’t quite have enough oomph to it. I was a little bit rusty, but felt like overall it was a good start.’’
Woods, playing in his first tournament since before COVID-19 put a halt to all sports and has prohibited spectators from attending golf tournaments, said before the tournament that he’d spoken to some fellow players who’ve been playing the past month to pick their brain about pandemic-age golf.
Australia’s Victoria state on Friday reported a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases while neighbouring New South Wales said it was banning dancing, singing and mingling at weddings as authorities struggle to contain a new wave of infections.
Victoria, which has forced nearly 5 million people in the country’s second most populous state into a partial lockdown for more than a week, said it has found 428 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, most from community transmission.
Such is the size of the Victoria outbreak, Australia on Friday posted its second biggest one-day rise in new COVID-19 infections, with 438 cases.
It was largest 24-hour spike since late March, when most cases detected in Australia were people returning from overseas.
The findings stoked expectations Victoria will be forced to implement tougher restrictions on its residents, which in turn will damage Australia’s national economy.
“We are in the fight of our lives,” Victoria state’s Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos told reporters in Melbourne.
Australia has recorded just over 11,000 cases of COVID-19.
The death toll rose to 116 after the death of three people in Victoria on Friday, still well below many other countries.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government will provide any assistance needed, as he urged against panic.
“We would not have expected to see the results of the lockdown measures put in place in Victoria as yet,” Morrison told reporters.
NO DANCING, NO MINGLING
The surge in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, however, has stirred concerns of a national second wave, with state Premier Daniel Andrews urging all state residents to wear masks when outside.
Previously only those around the state capital, Melbourne were asked to cover their face.
“These are large numbers today, that is disturbing,” Australia’s acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters in Canberra.
“Be patient… we are starting to get on top of the situation in Victoria.”
Neighbouring states have closed internal borders closures and renewed social distancing restrictions.
New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, said it has found eight cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, mostly from community transmissions believed to have emanated from Victoria.
NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said new restrictions will be imposed from next week.
Funerals and places of worship will be allowed no more than 100 people. Venues must also ensure they have 4 square metres of space per patron.
Weddings in the state will be capped 150 people, Berejiklian said, and they must remain seated.
“No dancing, no singing, no mingling,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
Less than a month ago, Australia was widely heralded as a global leader in combating COVID-19.
But security lapses in Victoria led to people returning from overseas spreading the virus, prompting an inquiry into how the state went from the brink of eradicating the virus to soaring infection numbers.
State Premier Andrews is under mounting pressure, with one of Australia’s biggest selling tabloid newspapers running a front page with the headline: “Dan-made disaster.”
The surge in COVID-19 cases dents any hope of a quick economic rebound in Australia.
Damaged by national social distancing restrictions imposed in March, Australia is on course for its first recession in nearly three decades, while unemployment has hit a 22-year high, data showed on Thursday.
Australia’s hopes to begin a “travel bubble” with neighbouring New Zealand also appear to be delayed. Australia and New Zealand had hoped to open their borders to each other in September.
When it comes to homeland defense, most people immediately think about the military. But what if the biggest threat to this nation’s safety and well-being has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or foreign militias? What if the biggest threat is invisible?
The State of Federal Cyber Security
The United States of America has been and continues to be a shining beacon of freedom throughout the world. Despite the whiny voices of millions of young people and radical left-wing activists who lack historical context to understand the incredible beauty and novelty of what we have in the U.S., we’re currently living in the most successful nation the world has ever seen. (In terms of wealth, freedom, and opportunity.) That’s a fact that’s rather hard to deny.
And guess what everyone else wants? A taste of what we have.
This leads adversaries, onlookers, and even certain “allies” to target our great nation. And one of the primary means of attack in the 21st century is via cyber channels. Yet up until recently, the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure was soft and poorly-supported. (This is a clear strike against the previous administration — but that’s an entirely different discussion.)
“America’s networks are threatened daily by criminals, terrorists, and foreign adversaries. In the face of growing threats, the federal government has the responsibility to do its part to ensure America has the best cybersecurity in the world,” writes Grant Schneider, Federal Chief Information Security Officer and Senior Director for Cybersecurity Policy under President Donald Trump. “Failures to prioritize cybersecurity by both government and industry have left our Nation less secure.”
In light of this, President Trump unveiled America’s new cybersecurity strategy in 2018 – the first one in more than 15 years.
“This Administration will not treat cyberspace as a separate arena. Instead, we are integrating cyber into all elements of national power,” Schneider continues. “Structuring the National Cyber Strategy around the four pillars of the National Security Strategy reflects and advances and this approach.”
According to the new National Cyber Strategy, the four pillars are as follows:
- Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life
Cybersecurity risks will be managed in such a way that they increase the resilience of the nation’s various information systems. This is being done by taking steps to secure various federal networks and improve incident reporting.
- Promote American Prosperity
The objective is to preserve America’s influence in the technological ecosystem, pursue cyberspace development, and enhance efficiency at all touchpoints. This supports the digital economy and develops an elite cybersecurity workforce.
- Preserve Peace Through Strength
Cybersecurity is all about identifying, countering, disrupting, degrading, and deterring any cyberspace activities that run contrary to our national best interests. This is done by increasing knowledge of threats and responding with proactive defenses.
- Advance American Influence
The fourth pillar aims to preserve the “long-term openness, interoperability, security, and reliability of the internet,” which continues to support America’s best interests.
But this was just the start of the Trump administration’s focus on federal cybersecurity. He’s also moved the needle on grooming a talent-rich cyber workforce. Here are a few of the details:
- President Trump has signed an Executive Order that encourages the creation of programs to grow and strengthen the cybersecurity workforce on an ongoing basis.
- The administration has developed a rotational program that allows federal employees to expand cybersecurity skills and expertise through temporary reassignments.
- The administration has established the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Awards, which recognize excellence in both elementary and secondary school educators who teach cybersecurity content to students.
- As President Trump explains, “America built the internet and shared it with the world; now we will do our part to secure and preserve cyberspace for future generations.”
Practical Ways to Further Strengthen Federal Cybersecurity
Federal cybersecurity has improved by leaps and bounds over the past four years, but there’s still a long way to go. So without further ado, let’s explore some of the practical ways we can continue to improve our efforts and protect against hostile adversaries who want to compromise our freedoms through targeted attacks on our nation’s technological infrastructure.
- Educate and Empower
The federal government can only do so much. The power has been – and always will be with the American people. The more the government can do to educate and empower private businesses and individuals to strengthen their own individual cybersecurity efforts, the stronger the nation will be as a whole.
For example, an increased emphasis on firewalls and how they monitor and filter income and outgoing network traffic could do wonders for the security of individual businesses. The same goes for a focus on multi-factor authentication with social networking platforms and other services with large user bases.
- Hold Foreign Powers Accountable
Technology has changed so rapidly over the past few years that the international rules regarding cybersecurity are hazy and incomplete — especially when it comes to cyberespionage. If the U.S. wants to do anything about this, it has to solidify ground rules and hold foreign powers accountable when they break them.
- Garner Support of Allies
Cyberspace transcends geographical borders, which means it can’t be controlled by any single nation or state. This increases the need for cooperation with allies and interests. Forming some sort of coalition with other countries could strengthen our own national security, while also improving international security in the process.
- Tap the Private Sector
Our nation’s most innovative work comes from the private sector. This is something the government needs to recognize and respect. Through government grants and sponsorships, it’s possible that Silicon Valley and techpreneurs could come together to create the next big wave of cybersecurity technology to benefit both the private and public sectors.
What Does the Future Hold?
While it feels like the internet is all we’ve ever known, the truth of the matter is that it’s still relatively young. In 25 or 30 years, we’ll look back at 2020 as still being in the “infancy stage” of the internet. And having said that, it’s impossible to know what the future might hold.
Cyberattacks and cyberdefenses have changed rather dramatically over just the past three to five years. Trying to project what will happen over the next decade is an impossible and foolish proposition. But we do know one thing: the government must continue to invest in national cybersecurity to protect our great country against dangerous external attacks that threaten to compromise the fabric of our nation.