Amazon-owned IMDB steps in to prop up audience rating of Fauci documentary  

A documentary film tracking Dr. Anthony Fauci’s medical career from the AIDS crisis to COVID-19, is creating controversy away from the big screen.”Fauci,” from NatGeo and Magnolia Pictures, hit select theaters Sept. 10 before getting a Disney+ release earlier this month. The documentary lets disparate figures like President George W. Bush, U2’s Bono and Bill Gates praise the 
Infectious disease specialist.
The studios failed to make the documentary’s box office figures available to film industry sites or JustTheNews.com. The vast majority of studios, large and small, routinely share that data, as NatGeo and Magnolia have done on previous releases.
Movie fans then noticed RottenTomatoes.com, arguably the biggest review aggregator site on the web, didn’t initially feature any “audience” reviews of the film.
Mainstream film critics saluted “Fauci,” although most admitted the film served up a hagiography of the 80-year-old bureaucrat. Once audiences started weighing in on the film at Rotten Tomatoes, though, the results were withering. Professional critics gave “Fauci” a 92% “fresh” score, while audiences gave it just a 2% — or “rotten” — rating.
A similar pattern emerged at IMDB.com, a major film and TV reference destination. “Fauci’s” audience rating, on a scale from 1-10, hovered around 1.8. This week, however, the site altered its review algorithm. Now, the audience review tally is a more robust 5.8.
A quick glimpse at the review breakdown, provided by the site, shows the overwhelming number of audience critics gave the film a one-star rating.
The site now features this explanation:
“NOTE: Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.”

JustTheNews.com reached out to IMDB.com, owned by Amazon, to explain what triggered the reappraisal and whether it similarly updated other titles, and why.
The site did not respond. 
Review aggregator sites allow audiences to review product, but the unofficial critics aren’t asked to prove they’ve seen the film in question. That leads to select users treating the function as a way to share a partisan or populist opinion without fairly assessing the film. Some call this trend “review bombing” a movie based on factors beyond its entertainment value or quality.
Netflix scrapped its ratings system four years ago shortly after users torched liberal comic Amy Schumer’s stand-up release “The Leather Special.” The company didn’t officially tie the decision to that reaction.
Rotten Tomatoes stopped allowing audiences to weigh in on a film prior to its release date after users trashed the MCU film “Captain Marvel” in 2019, viewed by some as a feminist lecture.
Fauci isn’t an entertainer, but over the past year-plus he’s attracted both ardent fans and critics alike. The latter may be impacting some of the reviews.
The same, in theory, could lead to the doctor’s admirers counterbalancing that effort, though.
Amazon, which acquired IMDB.com in 1998, is increasingly known for allowing partisanship to impact its decisions. The platform removed “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” from its service during Black History Month earlier this year without warning or explanation. The documentary allows the conservative justice to share his life story largely in his own words.
The company also threatened to block a right-leaning documentary, “What Killed Michael Brown?” before allowing it to stream on its platform. Amazon initially told the director, Eli Steele, the movie didn’t meet the company’s quality threshold initially before backing down.
Sasha Stone, editor of the long-running AwardsDaily.com film site, sees liberal bias in IMDB.com’s review tweak. 
Fauci’s popularity is far greater on the left than the right, with key players like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) routinely excoriating Dr. Fauci for his pandemic advice and alleged funding of controversial “gain-of-function” research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, widely suspected to be the source of COVID-19.
Stone sees a reverse bias on Hollywood review platforms where conservative-friendly content, think 2020’s “Hillbilly Elegy” or Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special, “The Closer,” are concerned.
“They have their verified critics, and they accept their ratings, even though to any objective observer they are not fair evaluations but are completely partisan,” Stone says. “There aren’t enough critics with different points of view from the right to balance things out. Thus, it’s becoming more and more like a public vs. elite critics scenario.”
Even critic Richard Roeper publicly said his fellow critics graded the 2016 “Ghostbusters,” cheered as a feminist achievement due to its all-female leads, on a curve.
Stone says the audience reaction to “Fauci,” whether users have seen it or not, is “an expression of the growing anger at the government’s bungling of COVID,” she says.

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Bah-Humbug Biden? Economic challenges threaten season with delays, shortages and price hikes

A series of economic struggles that have grown increasingly worse this year will likely have a significant impact on the holiday season, many economic experts predict.After President Joe Biden gave remarks from the White House this week, one reporter called out, “Will Christmas presents arrive on time, sir?” The president did not respond to that question or the flurry of others as he walked away from the podium.
That question, though, has become a focal point for many as we head into the holiday season.
“Inflation skyrocketing. Gas prices up. Halloween candy stuck in port,” U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said. “Thanksgiving turkeys more expensive. Christmas presents late. Get ready for a rough holiday season in Joe Biden’s America.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki received a similar question during a briefing this week when one reporter asked if the administration could guarantee that holiday packages would arrive on time.
“We are not the Postal Service or UPS or FedEx; we cannot guarantee,” Psaki said. “What we can do is use every lever at the federal government disposal to reduce delays, to ensure that we are addressing bottlenecks in the system, including ports and the need for them to be open longer hours so that goods can arrive. And we can continue to press not only workers and unions, but also companies to take as many steps as they can to reduce these delays.”
A series of supply chain issues driven largely by COVID-related issues have left many shelves empty around the country, and it’s unclear when those problems will be resolved. With the heightened demand around the holiday season, that could leave Americans in the lurch when they go to get their Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas presents, or any other holiday season necessity.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 remains a threat, with the CDC recently suggesting Americans celebrate a “virtual” Thanksgiving. At the same time, the highest inflation in years means holiday foods and Christmas presents will be more expensive than anytime in recent memory.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index this week, which showed inflation slightly increased from August to September.
“Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 5.4 percent before seasonal adjustment,” BLS said.
Higher inflation means higher prices on a range of goods and services. Those price increases also have been driven by a surge in gas prices in recent months. Fuel price increases trickle down to all kinds of goods because they make it more expensive to transport those goods to market.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released data on another inflation marker, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), this month showing inflation is growing the fastest in 30 years.
“The PCE price index for August increased 4.3 percent from one year ago, reflecting increases in both goods and services,” BEA said. “Energy prices increased 24.9 percent and food prices increased 2.8 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index for August increased 3.6 percent from one year ago.”
That increase in energy prices has shown little sign of receding, meaning Americans may need to budget even more this year for the increased heating costs on top of other expenses.
Psaki said the administration is working on the shortage issue.
“But what we are doing is working to – using every tool at our disposal to ease the impact on the American people, ease the impact on families as we look to the holidays, but certainly beyond that,” she said.
Republicans have lambasted the Biden administration over their response to the shortages.
“Biden was at the beach, Blinken was in the Hamptons, and Psaki was ‘out of the office’ as Americans were trapped in Afghanistan,” senior fellow at the American Conservative Union and former Trump advisor Mercedes Schlapp said. “Buttigieg was MIA during a supply chain crisis.”
The issue may begin to clear up in the weeks to come, but many experts are not that optimistic.
“Americans shouldn’t expect to find everything they wished for under the Christmas tree this year,” said Charles Mizrahi, author of Wall Street Profits for Main Street Investors, and host of the Charles Mizrahi Show. “With limited supply and increased demand, Americans should also expect to pay higher prices for almost everything. This holiday season may not be the happiest time of the year.”

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Chicago mayor, city police union square off in lawsuits over vax mandate

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office is squaring off against a powerful city police union over the city’s vaccine mandate, with both the mayor’s office and the union filing lawsuits to force the other’s hand in the matter. Lightfoot’s office has ordered all city employees to be injected with the COVID-19 vaccine, while Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7 President John Catanzara has urged union members to defy the mandate. 
The FOP lawsuit is attempting to force the city into arbitration over its vaccine reporting requirement, hoping to subject the requirement to a collective bargaining process. 
Lightfoot, meanwhile, is arguing that the union is “engaging in, supporting, and encouraging a work stoppage or strike,” something that is against both state law and the FOP’s contract with the city.

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DHS seeks to track biometric data of workers in order to improve their ‘health and wellness’

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is seeking proposals for a new system that will allow it to track the biometric data of its workers in order to monitor their physical and mental well-being.DHS said in a call for proposals this week that it is looking to “find innovative technological solutions that will improve the overall health and wellness of those consistently placed in high-stress and dangerous conditions” under DHS employment. 
“DHS is seeking capabilities that not only promote intervention action when necessary, but preemptively and in real-time optimize DHS personnel performance and resilience,” the agency added.
The window for proposals for the project extends until next April. 

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Nearly 150 legislators from over three dozen states call for countrywide audit of 2020 election

Dozens and dozens of lawmakers from nearly 40 states are calling for a nationwide audit of the 2020 election and a decertification of election results where they have been called “inaccurately.”The letter, published Friday, is signed by legislators from states including Arizona, North Carolina, Idaho and Kansas; altogether, 136 public officials endorsed its message. 
Noting that the Constitution gives state lawmakers “plenary power…to oversee the election of the president of the United States,” the letter argues that the recent Arizona election audit has indicated a “corrupted 2020 election” and that “all 50 states need to be forensically audited” as a result.

“We call on each state to decertify its electors where it has been shown the elections were certified prematurely and inaccurately,” the lawmakers write.
“If we do not have accurate and fair elections, we do not have a country,” the letter states.

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Italy hit with protests as country implements some of world’s toughest vax restrictions

Italy has been rocked hard by protests this week as it moves to implement severe COVID-19 vaccination restrictions for roughly the country’s entire workforce.Workers in Italy—in both the public and private sectors—are now required to display a “green pass” in order to work; the pass signifies either their vaccination against SARS-Cov-2, a recovery from a recent case of COVID-19, or a negative test. 
Officials had feared that the planned protests might result in widespread industry disruptions around the country, though much of the nation’s commerce continued to function amid the demonstrations. 
The vast majority of residents in Italy above 12 years old have received at least one injection of the vaccine, though several million workers in the country remain unvaccinated. 

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Ill omen for Virginia Democrats as early voting plummets in state’s gubernatorial race

Signs in Virginia suggest Democrats there could be facing a potential defeat in next month’s gubernatorial race as low early voting numbers in the state signal a potential shift toward a Republican advantage.Democrat Terry McAuliffe—a onetime governor of the state—has seen his lead against Republican Glenn Youngkin shrink in recent days, with some polling showing Youngkin holding a lead. 
Low early voting numbers, meanwhile, could further hinder McAuliffe’s efforts in the state. Early voting is generally seen as a key Democratic electoral tool and was viewed as decisive in Joe Biden’s victory during the 2020 election. 
Early voting in Virginia is still much higher than in previous years, but is coming up short compared to expectations. 
McAuliffe, meanwhile, has called in major Democratic players such as President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and Georgia Democratic strategist Stacey Abrams to help get out the vote for him in the race’s final weeks.

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Federal appeals court refuses to block Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement

A federal appeals court has declined to issue an emergency order to stop Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ coronavirus vaccine mandate.A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston didn’t offer an explanation in its one-sentence ruling Friday, but it set the case on a fast track for final resolution.
The Liberty Council, a faith-based organization challenging the mandate, said a decision could be issued as early as next week.
“If it is not favorable, Liberty Counsel will file an immediate protection agreement with the U.S. Supreme Court,” the group said.
Mills, a Democrat, signed an order requiring workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 29. The mandate has an exemption for medical reasons but none for religious objections.
Maine passed a law in 2019 eliminating religious exemptions from vaccines, and voters rejected overturning the law last year, according to the Epoch Times .

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Texas Senate passes bill forbidding student athletes from choosing teams based on 'gender identity'

The Texas Senate this week passed a bill that, if it clears the state House and becomes law, will forbid student athletes from choosing teams based upon their subjective “gender identity.”Bill HB 25 stipulates that schools may not allow students “to compete in an interscholastic athletic competition…that is designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex.”
The law would apply “to any interscholastic athletic competition sponsored or authorized by a school district or open-enrollment charter school.”
The issue of students choosing teams based upon their sense of “gender identity” has become a flashpoint in the culture wars in recent years, with LGBTQ activists arguing that it is a matter of justice and fairness and critics countering that allowing males who identify as girls to compete against female athletes would create an inherently unfair imbalance.
The bill previously passed the Texas House earlier this week; the Senate subsequently passed it, but with some amendments, which the House must sign off on before it heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. 

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Turkey farmers warn that labor shortages could lead to Thanksgiving woes

Some turkey farmers are warning that the labor shortage currently wreaking havoc in many industries could also disrupt traditional American thanksgiving meals.Multiple farmers told CBS 2 Chicago this week that a sharply reduced labor pool may significantly hinder farmers’ ability to get turkeys onto dinner tables in November. 
One turkey grower said that he “usually brings in about 100 temporary workers” to help with the turkey dressing line, but that “right now, he has seven.”
A USDA spokesman, meanwhile, told media this week that an overall turkey shortage was unlikely and that there are turkeys “in abundance” throughout the country.  

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Hollywood ending? Film crews, movie studios reach deal to avert strike

Hollywood’s studios and the unions representing film and television crews reached a deal Saturday evening to avert a strike that would have paralyzed the movie industry just as it rebounds from the pandemic.Facing a Monday deadline, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reached a three-year contract agreement for its 60,000 workers with the entertainment giants.
Jarryd Gonzales, spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press. 
The union’s members still must vote to approve the deal. 

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