Fact check: Did Biden ‘destroy’ 11,000 Keystone Pipeline jobs? :: WRAL.com

img ]

President Joe Biden spent his first day in the White House signing a spate of executive orders aimed at undoing the policies of the Trump administration. One of them sparked outrage on Facebook over its effect on American jobs.

On Jan. 20, Biden signed an order that revoked the permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. In a Facebook post published the same day, one user said the move would cost thousands of jobs.

“By revoking the Keystone pipeline permit, Biden is destroying 11,000 jobs and roughly $2 billion in wages,” the post says. “Democrats couldn’t even get through Day 1 without killing jobs for middle class Americans.”

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.

We’ve seen several similar posts offer other figures for how many jobs were lost as a result of Biden’s executive order, ranging from 12,000 to 83,000. So we wanted to take a closer look.

TC Energy Corp., the Canadian company that owns the Keystone XL pipeline with the Alberta government, has said more than 1,000 people are out of work because of Biden’s executive order. The 11,000 and $2 billion figures cited in the Facebook post are estimates published by the company, but most of the jobs would be temporary.

We reached out to the user who published the post for their evidence, but we didn’t hear back.

What Biden’s order does

The Keystone XL pipeline is an international project years in the making. Without support from the U.S. government, it’s effectively halted.

The 875-mile pipeline would carry a heavy crude oil mixture from Western Canada to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with another leg stretching to Gulf Coast refineries.

Biden’s order revokes the permit that was granted March 29, 2019, by then-President Donald Trump on the grounds that it is harmful to the environment.

While an 11-volume State Department report on the Keystone XL pipeline found in 2014 that it would not significantly contribute to carbon pollution, critics say the project threatens Alberta’s rivers and forests. And the project has become a symbol for the political debate over fossil fuels.

The Obama-era State Department had denied TC Energy’s request for a permit in 2015. Trump revived hopes for the project once he took office, ultimately approving it with an executive order. Construction began in April 2020, but that same month, a federal court said that the project had to go through a full endangered species review. TC Energy appealed the ruling, but the Supreme Court upheld it in July.

Before Biden signed his executive order, only a 1.2-mile section of the pipeline had been completed in Montana near the U.S.-Canada border.

‘Thousands’ of lost jobs, but most are temporary

Over the past several years, we’ve fact-checked many claims that the Keystone XL pipeline would create thousands of American jobs. Several of them lack context about the duration and nature of these positions, and this Facebook post is similar.

In a Jan. 20 statement, TC Energy said Biden’s order “would directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers.” It did not specify exactly how many jobs would be lost.

President Richard Prior told the Associated Press that the layoffs would number more than 1,000. We reached out to TC Energy for more information, but we haven’t heard back.

The 11,000 figure in the Facebook post appears to stem from an Oct. 28 press release on the pipeline’s website.

In October, TC Energy awarded contracts to six American union contractors to build the Keystone XL pipeline in three states in 2021. Those contractors were “responsible for hiring 7,000 union workers.”

“When combined with additional 2021 contracts to be announced later, the total number of American union workers constructing Keystone XL in 2021 will exceed 8,000 and $900 million in gross wages,” the release said. “In total, Keystone XL is expected to employ more than 11,000 Americans in 2021, creating more than $1.6 billion in gross wages.”

That’s close to what the State Department found in its 2014 report.

In the report, the agency wrote that 10,400 estimated positions would be for seasonal construction work lasting four to eight-month periods. Since the State Department defines “job” as “one position that is filled for 1 year,” that would equate to approximately 3,900 jobs over a two-year period.

In short: Most of the estimated jobs were temporary.

The State Department forecasted that no more than 50 jobs, some of which could be located in Canada, would be required to maintain the pipeline. Thirty-five of them would be permanent, while 15 would be temporary contractors.

We reached out to the White House for a comment, but we haven’t heard back.

PolitiFact ruling

A Facebook post says that Biden’s executive order revoking the Keystone XL pipeline “is destroying 11,000 jobs.”

That number is an estimate, and the claim lacks context about the longevity of Keystone jobs.

TC Energy said more than 1,000 people are out of work because of Biden’s executive order. In October, the company said it expected to employ more than 11,000 Americans in 2021 and generate more than $1.6 in gross wages.

But both TC Energy and the State Department have said the majority of those jobs would be temporary. A 2014 report found that the company would need only 50 employees to maintain the Keystone XL pipeline once it’s finished, 35 of them permanent.

Temporary jobs are still jobs. But this post could leave the wrong impression without full context. We rate it Half True.

No, COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause sterility

img ]

The Statement

A Facebook meme shared by an Australian user claims that “becoming sterile is almost a certainty” for those who receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

“Get the COVID Vaccine but remember the following,” reads the January 23 post. It goes on to list 11 points, which includes a claim that vaccines “(have a) 10-15% chance of adverse effects and increase risk of HIV”.

The post finishes by saying, “Congratulations! You’re immunised…against a virus you had 99.9% chance of surviving.”

At the bottom of the post is an attribution to the Twitter handle for Rashid. A Buttar, a former army surgeon and promoter of conspiracy theories. He also posted the meme on Facebook, attracting more than 250 shares at the time of writing.

A meme claims “becoming sterile is almost a certainty” for those who receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Analysis

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in countries such as Australia or the United States will result in sterility, with a number of women involved in clinical trials conceiving after receiving the treatments.

In the United States, the first COVID-19 vaccine granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate on December 11, 2020 with an EUA granted to the Moderna vaccine candidate on December 18.

Australia’s health regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), gave provisional approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in January. It is due to be rolled out in February, while the AstraZeneca vaccine candidate continues to undergo review.

The claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility in women has been advanced by German physician Wolfgang Wodarg and Michael Yeadon, a former Pfizer employee, who asked Europe’s health regulator, the European Medicines Agency, to delay clinical trials and approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The pair claimed the vaccine would induce the formation of antibodies against proteins such as syncytin-1, which is involved in the development of the placenta in humans.

However, Dr Alex Polyakov, a fertility specialist from Melbourne IVF and a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, told AAP FactCheck there is “absolutely zero evidence” that COVID-19 vaccines have any impact on fertility.

“I don’t see a physiological way for the vaccines to have any impact. All the vaccines do is create immunity to the virus so it interacts with the immune system, but it doesn’t really interact with the reproductive system,” he said in a phone interview.

Dr Polyakov said there is evidence to suggest that a severe COVID-19 infection could affect sperm count in men, but it is unclear at this stage whether this is a permanent issue.

“You could argue that vaccinating against COVID and preventing infection with the virus would save the male fertility,” he said.

“The vaccine development was very quick and to assess someone’s fertility takes at least six months to a year and that simply hasn’t been done. So there is no evidence at this point that vaccines have any effect (on fertility) at all, and I think it’s extremely unlikely.”

In a television interview, Dr Mark Trolice, the director of Florida-based Fertility CARE and professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, described the claim as baseless.

“There was a scientist in Germany that suggested there was a similarity in the genes of the COVID virus and the cells that make the placenta. There is minimal, if (any) similarity, and the vaccine is not directed at that gene protein anyway,” he said.

In Pfizer’s vaccine trial, four pregnancies were reported in women who received the immunisation before their last period (page 41), while two pregnancies were reported in women who received the immunisation before their last period during Moderna’s trial (page 45). Both results were in line with results in the placebo groups.

In a fact sheet, Pfizer said there was no data to suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine caused infertility.

“It has been incorrectly suggested that COVID-19 vaccines will cause infertility because of a very short amino acid sequence in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 that is partly shared with a protein in the placenta called syncytin-1,” it said.

“From a scientific perspective, the differences between the two sequences are quite significant, making it very unlikely our vaccine could generate a response that would harm the placenta.”

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked claims surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and infertility. Similar posts have been debunked by fact checkers here, here, here, here and here.

The claim of a 10 to 15 per cent chance of adverse effects stemming from the vaccines has been previously examined. Experts told AAP FactCheck that regulators focus on the incidence of serious adverse events, particularly those that could potentially be life-threatening, rather than the total number of adverse events – which are mainly mild and transient, commonly involving symptoms such as pain at the injection site.

Moderna reported five serious adverse events related to the vaccine out of more than 15,000 recipients (page 32). Pfizer reported three serious adverse events related to the vaccine out of more than 18,000 recipients (page 40). There were three severe adverse events reported as being possibly related to the AstraZeneca vaccine from more than 12,000 recipients.

The Facebook post also lists a previously debunked claim overestimating the survival rate for those who become infected with COVID-19.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility, experts say.

Manipulated image claims CNN reported imminent end to Ugandan leader’s long rule

img ]

Manipulated image claims CNN reported imminent end to Ugandan leader’s long rule

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

An image shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims to show a CNN broadcast reporting the imminent end to Uganda’s “dictatorship” under long-serving President Yoweri Museveni, in favour of a political movement led by musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine. However, AFP Fact Check found the image is a hoax.

“Uganda’s dictator Yoweri Museveni’s 33 year dictatorship is coming to an end, thanks to PeoplePower, a movement led by Robert Kyagulanyi (BobiWine) (sic),” reads the breaking news banner purportedly broadcast on CNN.

The image, shared in this Facebook post, includes a headshot of the network’s news anchor Anderson Cooper and an inset of Wine.

A screenshot of false Facebook post, taken on October 7, 2020

The opening line of the post reads: “Ugandans wake up if foreigners can notice this what about you the citizens of this country.”

The same image was shared here on Facebook.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is expected to seek a sixth term in office next year after receiving the endorsement of his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party in June. The former rebel leader is facing a challenge from pop star Bobi Wine and his People Power movement.

Meme generator site

A reverse image search on Google found that the image of Anderson set against the blue backdrop is available on meme generator site Imgflip.

A screenshot of Imgflip website sharing Anderson’s template

The site features samples of other memes generated with the same template.

A screenshot of sample memes featuring the Anderson Cooper template, taken on October 8, 2020

In the Museveni posts, the headline font and spacing differ from CNN’s official style. The text also contains grammatical errors such as the conjoining of the names “Bobi Wine” and “People Power”.

A search on CNN for the keywords “Yoweri Museveni” and “dictator” led to this report of Wine referring to Museveni as a dictator and asserting that the Ugandan leader must be ousted by the People Power movement.

But while there have been other news reports labelling Museveni a dictator, the CNN visual was a hoax.

AFP previously debunked another manipulated headline using Cooper’s on-air image.