Maine can bar religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandate, judge rules

Oct 13 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge ruled on Wednesday that Maine can bar religious exemptions to its requirement that healthcare workers in the state get vaccinated against COVID-19, a day after a judge ordered New York to allow such exemptions to its mandate.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy in Bangor, Maine, said the healthcare workers who brought the case have not been prevented from staying true to their religious beliefs, although refusing the vaccine will cost them their jobs.

The workers also failed to show Maine officials were motivated by an improper animus toward religion or that the state lacked a compelling reason to impose the vaccine requirement, said Levy, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama.

“All Maine healthcare workers have the legal right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincerely held religious beliefs and forcing COVID shots without exemptions is unlawful,” said Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal advocacy group that represented the workers.

The group filed an appeal with 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston and requested the ruling be put on hold during the appeal process.

COVID-19 vaccines have become highly politicized in the United States, where only 66% of Americans are vaccinated, well short of the initial goals of the Biden administration.

Maine Governor Janet Mills announced her state’s mandate on Aug. 12, and workers have until Oct. 29 to comply.

Exemptions were allowed for medical reasons. Unlike most states, Maine does not allow for religious or philosophical exemptions to vaccine requirements.

The plan was challenged by a group of healthcare workers who said they opposed COVID-19 vaccines because some vaccines were developed from cell lines of aborted fetuses. The workers also sued several healthcare companies where they work.

Maine removed religious exemptions from mandated vaccines in 2019 and voters overwhelming rejected a referendum challenging the law last year. As a result, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is consistent with state law and does not single out religion, Levy said.

By comparison, he said New York’s mandate originally allowed religious exemptions and then removed them as the deadline neared. New York also allows religious exemptions to other mandated shots, Levy said. read more

At least 24 states have imposed vaccine requirements on workers, usually in healthcare.
Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; additional reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston Editing by Noeleen Walder, Marguerita Choy and Bill Berkrot

 

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Education One Army corps sees data education as the foundation of AI-enabled targeting — FCW

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U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornets during exercise Scarlet Dragon on Oct. 7, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

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One Army corps sees data education as the foundation of AI-enabled targeting

By Lauren C. Williams
Oct 13, 2021

U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornets during exercise Scarlet Dragon on Oct. 7, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornets over the Atlantic as part of the 18th Airborne Corps’ Scarlet Dragon exercise on Oct. 7, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Expanding data education has proven to be foundational and a defining metric as the U.S. Army tests artificial intelligence to improve weapons targeting.

Col. Melissa “Molly” Solsbury, the chief data officer for the 18th Airborne Corps and director for Project Ridgway, said one of the most important lessons learned since the first Scarlet Dragon experiment last year has been establishing a solid data education base starting with data training in order to meet its goal of speeding up the time it takes for weapons systems to accurately find, lock in and attack a target with support from artificial intelligence.

“Don’t start with buying the widget, start with trying to think through how you learn to use the widget, how do you create an appreciation for data if you’re moving toward data centric warfare,” Solsbury told reporters Oct. 11 during the annual conference for the Association of United States Army in Washington, D.C.

The 18th Airborne Corps, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., recently completed its latest Scarlet Dragon exercise Oct. 7 — a live-fire demonstration that incorporates artificial intelligence to process and select targets from satellite imagery and send that data to operators on the ground.

AI is being used to address some of the slowest legs of the kill chain process, such as detecting a target via commercial satellites using “electro optical or from synthetic aperture radar to do very quick detects and then get those to any number of the participants” which could be ground, air or maritime assets, Solsbury said.

The Scarlet Dragon exercises began in November 2020, and nearly a year later its fourth iteration featured joint capabilities and participation from each of the military branches and commercial partners.

The exercise also highlighted communications and network challenges.

“With more data comes more bandwidth requirements, so that’s probably the foundational problem that we have,” Solsbury said, adding that a recent communications exercise helped illuminate how much data was needed and where the data needs to go.

“We started to really realize that things like synthetic aperture radar and things like constrained comms and operating within an environment that is really a disadvantage to comms…I think we’ve really started to appreciate the value of those,” Solsbury said.

“Those were three learning points where maybe we didn’t have either the bandwidth or the comms that we needed, we started to say okay how can we really focus on that as a training objective. Same with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) — we’ve taken some really powerful steps forward over the last couple of months and I think that by 2022 we’re going to be in a pretty good place with our capabilities with SAR.”

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor’s in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.

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Education Education Station wellness check on students back in classroom

In honor of World Mental Health Day, 3News talks to local mental health experts about how students have been handling being back in school amid the pandemic.

CLEVELAND — This week, the globe observed World Mental Health Day, which is a perfect time for Education Station to check in with our students on how they’re handling being back in school during COVID.

Northeast Ohio’s mental health workers and school officials say children, overall, are happy to be back to the classroom this school year. However, it doesn’t come without student anxiety.

“They weren’t working extensively for 3-4 hours a day, but then suddenly [have] to go back into a brick and mortar school building for 6-8 hours a day” Akron Public Schools Psychologist Dr. Erich Merkle said. “We all got used to being at home with our immediate family.”

The transition from primarily being around family and home-schooled for a year and a half to being around hundreds of students, faculty and staff again has been tough for many kids socially and academically. Some are dealing with anxiety about health and safety and, in some cases, grief.

“Dealing with potential loss or ongoing illness from COVID or other conditions or even, unfortunately, deaths in the family is something we see in students,” Merkle explained. “Add to that being back in school.”

According to research conducted, in part, by the CDC’s COVID Response Team, one in 515 US children has lost a caregiver to COVID. That’s more than 140,000 children, with nearly 70% being children of color.

“Certainly, if there’s been loss, there’s depression,” Merkle told 3News.

“During the pandemic last year, we know that kids’ mental health suffered across the board,” Dr. Jane Timmons-Mitchell, associate clinical professor with Case Western Reserve University, added. Now this year, going back to school, for most kids, is, of course, a huge adjustment.”

To help with that adjustment, in honor of World Mental Health Day this week, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital launched a campaign to get mental health resources in 1-million classrooms across the country, including every classroom in Ohio. The transition back to the classroom may take some time to fully set in with many students, but experts say, overall, it’s been a welcomed change.

“For the majority of children, they are delighted to be back to school, even if they’re masking or have plexi-glass around them or whatever,” says Case Western Reserve Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Eileen Anderson.

“They’re happy to be back with friends. Kids crave structure,” says Timmons-Mitchell.

Experts say it’s important to remember that anxiety, emotional fatigue, and expressing fears of the unknown all are normal responses to abnormal circumstances. It could take well into the school year for children to fully adjust to being back to school.

“For K through 2nd graders, they have had the most unusual school experience. Think about it – the pandemic has been the majority of their academic life,” says Merkle.

If you do notice any extreme changes in your child, or your child is having an unusually hard time adjusting to life back in the classroom, visit the National Children’s Hospital website for more on their On Our Sleeves mental health services for students.

More ‘Education Station’ coverage from January Keaton:

 

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Justice Clarence Thomas Bestselling Memoir “My Grandfather’s Son” Released as Audiobook and on Kindle

Justice Clarence Thomas gives listeners and readers a glimpse into his astonishing journey from poverty in Pinpoint, Georgia to the United States Supreme Court in his New York Times bestselling memoir “My Grandfather’s Son” now just released as an Audiobook and on Kindle. This inspirational memoir reflects the ultimate American journey, as Justice Thomas recounts his life journey, touching on the adversity he experienced early in life, through rebellion as a college student, a return to faith and a law career that led to his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The new audio book offers readers to hear the usually silent Justice reading his memoir directly.

Praise for Justice Thomas’ “My Grandfather’s Son”:

Mark Paoletta, former White House lawyer who worked on confirmation: “Justice Thomas’ memoirs are a riveting story of a true American hero, whose journey took him from abject poverty in the segregated Deep South to the United States Supreme Court. As Justice Thomas said when he was nominated, ‘Only in America.’ I am thrilled that new readers, young and old, will hear Justice Thomas tell his inspiring story, now available for the first time in these new formats.”

Carrie Severino, former Justice Thomas Supreme Court clerk: “My Grandfather’s Son was published the year I clerked for Justice Thomas, and I remember how amazing it was to hear his voice telling those stories. I’m thrilled that his inspiring personal story will now be even more broadly available. This is a must-read American Dream story about how a young boy, abandoned by his father and raised in poverty, reached highest levels of his profession and became the intellectual leader of the Supreme Court.”

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Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says Technology Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says

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Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says

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Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says
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(Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banking co-head Dan Dees said the firm’s dealmakers are looking for opportunities in all areas of technology as companies emerge from the pandemic era.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, quantum computing and synthetic biology are among areas for investment, Dees said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang to be aired Wednesday. He also pointed to “places of overlap” between tech and traditional industries such as finance, real estate and health care.

“We’re doubling down on everything in technology right now,” Dees said. “It’s such an exciting time.”

Startups are growing more quickly than ever and demanding attention from investment bankers earlier in their existence, he said. Some fledgling firms become “important companies to us and to our franchise” within two or three years of their founding.

“We realized these companies were starting small and getting big very, very fast — and we had to go earlier and earlier into their life cycle to start building relationships,” Dees said. Goldman is “trying to treat technology the way the economy treats technology, which is having it be pervasive in all of our groups and infiltrate every group.”

Fintech has potential to disrupt traditional finance, and New York-based Goldman is looking for ways for automation to handle “the menial stuff” and let bankers focus on “the meaningful stuff.” To build relationships, advise clients and structure deals, the bank relies on its workforce, he said.

Investment banking is “‘human-heavy stuff and we need more and more people to do it, given the current pace of business,” Dees said.

Direct Listings

Dees said it’s “fantastic” that some firms are turning to non-traditional methods to access public markets. Direct listings and special purpose acquisition companies are part of a “broad slate” of tools that Goldman can offer to clients, as well as a conventional initial public offering, which he said is still the most popular avenue.

“More companies are still choosing the traditional path of the traditional IPO,” Dees said. “I don’t believe the traditional path is broken.”

With the lifting of more and more pandemic restrictions, Dees said he’s looking for investment-banking activity to remain strong. He expects an accelerated pace of companies being formed and that firms will be looking for deals to get bigger or shed non-core operations.

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©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Justice Clarence Thomas Bestselling Memoir “My Grandfather’s Son” Released as Audiobook and on Kindle

Justice Clarence Thomas gives listeners and readers a glimpse into his astonishing journey from poverty in Pinpoint, Georgia to the United States Supreme Court in his New York Times bestselling memoir “My Grandfather’s Son” now just released as an Audiobook and on Kindle. This inspirational memoir reflects the ultimate American journey, as Justice Thomas recounts his life journey, touching on the adversity he experienced early in life, through rebellion as a college student, a return to faith and a law career that led to his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The new audio book offers readers to hear the usually silent Justice reading his memoir directly.

Praise for Justice Thomas’ “My Grandfather’s Son“:

Mark Paoletta, former White House lawyer who worked on confirmation: “Justice Thomas’ memoirs are a riveting story of a true American hero, whose journey took him from abject poverty in the segregated Deep South to the United States Supreme Court. As Justice Thomas said when he was nominated, ‘Only in America.’ I am thrilled that new readers, young and old, will hear Justice Thomas tell his inspiring story, now available for the first time in these new formats.”

Carrie Severino, former Justice Thomas Supreme Court clerk: “My Grandfather’s Son was published the year I clerked for Justice Thomas, and I remember how amazing it was to hear his voice telling those stories. I’m thrilled that his inspiring personal story will now be even more broadly available. This is a must-read American Dream story about how a young boy, abandoned by his father and raised in poverty, reached highest levels of his profession and became the intellectual leader of the Supreme Court.”

SOURCE My Grandfather’s Son

 

 

 

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Rio Tinto targets low-carbon steel production with new technology Technology Rio Tinto targets low-carbon steel production with new technology

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Home Technology Rio Tinto targets low-carbon steel production with new technology
Rio Tinto targets low-carbon steel production with new technology

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Rio Tinto targets low-carbon steel production with new technology
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MELBOURNE, Australia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rio Tinto is progressing an innovative new technology to deliver low-carbon steel, using sustainable biomass in place of coking coal in the steelmaking process, in a potentially cost-effective option to cut industry carbon emissions.

Over the past decade, Rio Tinto has developed a laboratory-proven process that combines the use of raw, sustainable biomass with microwave technology to convert iron ore to metallic iron during the steelmaking process. The patent-pending process, one of a number of avenues the company is pursuing to try to lower emissions in the steel value chain, is now being further tested in a small-scale pilot plant.

If this and larger-scale tests are successful, there is the potential over time for this technology to be scaled commercially to process Rio Tinto’s iron ore fines.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott said, “We are encouraged by early testing results of this new process, which could provide a cost-efficient way to produce low-carbon steel from our Pilbara iron ore.

“More than 70 per cent of Rio Tinto’s Scope 3 emissions are generated as customers process our iron ore into steel, which is critical for urbanisation and infrastructure development as the world’s economies decarbonise. So, while it’s still early days and there is a lot more research and other work to do, we are keen to explore further development of this technology.”

Rio Tinto’s process uses plant matter known as lignocellulosic biomass, instead of coal, primarily as a chemical reductant. The biomass is blended with iron ore and heated by a combination of gas released by the biomass and high efficiency microwaves that can be powered by renewable energy.

Rio Tinto researchers are working with the multi-disciplinary team in the University of Nottingham’s Microwave Process Engineering Group to further develop the process.

The University’s Head of Department, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Professor Chris Dodds, said, “It is really exciting to have the opportunity to be part of a great team working on a technology that, if developed to commercial scale, has the potential to have a global impact through decarbonising key parts of the steel production process.”

The use of raw biomass in Rio Tinto’s process could also avoid the inefficiencies and associated costs of other biomass-based technologies that first convert the biomass into charcoal or biogas.

Lignocellulosic biomass includes agriculture by-products (i.e. wheat straw, corn stover, barley straw, sugar cane bagasse) and purpose-grown crops, which would be sustainable sources for the process.

Importantly, the process cannot use foods such as sugar or corn, and Rio Tinto would not use biomass sources that support logging of old-growth forests.

Simon Trott said, “We know there are complex issues related to biomass sourcing and use and there is a lot more work to do for this to be a genuinely sustainable solution for steelmaking. We will continue working with others to understand more about these concerns and the availability of sustainable biomass.”

If developed further, the technology would be accompanied by a robust and independently accredited certification process for sustainable sources of biomass.

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Technology White House OSTP Casts Wide Net for Biometric-Fueled ID Technology – MeriTalk

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White House OSTP Casts Wide Net for Biometric-Fueled ID Technology – MeriTalk
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The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is seeking information from both the public and private sector on how biometric data is being used for identification purposes, according to a request for information (RFI) OSTP recently posted on the Federal register.

The White House is looking for any past deployments, trials, proposals, or pilots, as well as any current uses of biometric tech for “identity verification, identification of individuals, and inference of attributes including individual mental and emotional states,” according to the RFI.

“To date, attention and legislation around AI-enabled biometric technologies has largely focused on the specific case of facial recognition technology used to identify individuals in law enforcement and in public and private settings,” the RFI states. “However, there are a growing number of domains that are beginning to make use of biometric information for identification or inference of emotion, disposition, character, or intent.”

Among the burgeoning uses the White House is looking into are things like using facial recognition to control initial or continued access to things like schools, housing, jobs, and other resources; inference of intent in public places; facial or voice recognition in education, employment, and advertising; the use of gait recognition in healthcare; and keystroke analysis to determine cognitive analysis or mood.

The RFI looks to understand the potential concerns around the use of biometric data for identification purposes, while also acknowledging some of the benefits of using such technologies.

“Many concerns have been raised about the use of biometric technology, ranging from questions about the validity of the underlying science; differential effectiveness, outcomes, and harms for different demographic groups; and the role of biometric systems in increasing the use of surveillance technologies and broadening the scope of surveillance practices,” the RFI says.

“Nonetheless, biometric technologies are often presented as a cheaper and more reliable form of identification, and as effective aids in clinical settings for diagnosis and therapeutic use, in addition to their use in public safety such as for finding missing persons and combating child trafficking,” the RFI continues.

OSTP is providing ample time for comments, with any public comments due January 15, 2022.

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Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says

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Home Technology Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says
Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says

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Goldman Is ‘Doubling Down’ on Technology Investing, Dees Says
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(Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banking co-head Dan Dees said the firm’s dealmakers are looking for opportunities in all areas of technology as companies emerge from the pandemic era.

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Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, quantum computing and synthetic biology are among areas for investment, Dees said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang to be aired Wednesday. He also pointed to “places of overlap” between tech and traditional industries such as finance, real estate and health care.

“We’re doubling down on everything in technology right now,” Dees said. “It’s such an exciting time.”

Startups are growing more quickly than ever and demanding attention from investment bankers earlier in their existence, he said. Some fledgling firms become “important companies to us and to our franchise” within two or three years of their founding.

“We realized these companies were starting small and getting big very, very fast — and we had to go earlier and earlier into their life cycle to start building relationships,” Dees said. Goldman is “trying to treat technology the way the economy treats technology, which is having it be pervasive in all of our groups and infiltrate every group.”

Fintech has potential to disrupt traditional finance, and New York-based Goldman is looking for ways for automation to handle “the menial stuff” and let bankers focus on “the meaningful stuff.” To build relationships, advise clients and structure deals, the bank relies on its workforce, he said.

Investment banking is “‘human-heavy stuff and we need more and more people to do it, given the current pace of business,” Dees said.

Direct Listings

Dees said it’s “fantastic” that some firms are turning to non-traditional methods to access public markets. Direct listings and special purpose acquisition companies are part of a “broad slate” of tools that Goldman can offer to clients, as well as a conventional initial public offering, which he said is still the most popular avenue.

“More companies are still choosing the traditional path of the traditional IPO,” Dees said. “I don’t believe the traditional path is broken.”

With the lifting of more and more pandemic restrictions, Dees said he’s looking for investment-banking activity to remain strong. He expects an accelerated pace of companies being formed and that firms will be looking for deals to get bigger or shed non-core operations.

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Glenfiddich sera le premier partenaire à commercialiser un whisky rare via NFT avec BlockBar, la première plateforme NFT

Glenfiddich, la marque de Single Malt Scotch Whisky la plus récompensée au monde, s’est associée à BlockBar, le premier marché de jetons non fongibles (NFT) pour les vins et spiritueux de luxe, pour lancer une série de 15 NFT de liqueur en édition limitée. Chaque NFT correspond à une bouteille physique exceptionnelle d’un Single Malt Scotch Whisky de 46 ans d’âge, vieilli en fût d’Armagnac, vendu par Glenfiddich.

Les jetons sont proposés exclusivement par la plateforme NFT innovante de BlockBar, qui permet à Glenfiddich de numériser et de vendre des spiritueux exclusifs sous forme de NFT directement aux consommateurs, que ce soit à des fins de consommation personnelle, de collection ou d’investissement. En achetant le NFT, l’acheteur peut alors devenir le propriétaire du produit physique du monde réel représenté par le NFT, le NFT servant de reçu numérique qui vérifie la propriété de l’acheteur et l’authenticité du produit. L’acheteur a le choix à tout moment de revendre ou de transférer le NFT par le biais de la plateforme BlockBar ou de l’échanger contre la version physique. Les avantages de l’achat ne s’arrêtent pas là ; BlockBar est également chargée de stocker le produit et, sur demande, de le livrer à l’acheteur.

Doug Bagley, directeur commercial de William Grant & Sons, commente le partenariat : « Glenfiddich ne cesse de repousser les limites de l’innovation dans le domaine du whisky et cet état d’esprit se répercute sur les partenaires. Nous sommes fiers d’être la première marque de spiritueux de luxe à être disponible sur BlockBar au moment du lancement. BlockBar apporte un niveau élevé d’authenticité à notre marque via sa plateforme NFT exclusive et crée un club d’élite de collectionneurs distingués avec lesquels nous sommes ravis de bâtir des relations à long terme. »

En utilisant la plateforme NFT de pointe de BlockBar pour acheter le whisky de Glenfiddich, les acheteurs peuvent être assurés que leurs comptes ne seront pas compromis et que leurs NFT ne seront pas volés, car les jetons sont protégés par l’infrastructure de conservation des actifs numériques de FireBlocks et la technologie de conformité de Chainalysis.

« Il s’agit d’un exemple exceptionnellement rare du Glenfiddich 1973, un whisky de 46 ans d’âge qui a passé plus d’une vingtaine d’années dans un fût d’armagnac, conférant un état d’esprit idéal pour le lancement exclusif NFT de Glenfiddich sur BlockBar » déclare Brian Kinsman, maître de chai de Glenfiddich.

La première série de Glenfiddich NFT sera lancée le 19 octobre 2021, selon le principe du premier arrivé, premier servi. Les acheteurs peuvent acheter les NFT auprès de BlockBar avec de l’Ethereum (ETH) ou par carte de crédit.

« BlockBar valorise la transparence, l’authenticité et l’assurance qualité, et notre partenariat avec Glenfiddich, le summum des spiritueux haut de gamme, est le partenaire idéal pour marquer le lancement de notre mission visant à rapprocher les mondes physique et numérique du luxe » a déclaré Dov Falic, PDG de BlockBar. « Nous sommes extrêmement fiers d’offrir la toute première plateforme de vins et spiritueux entièrement authentifiés, destinée directement aux consommateurs, via une place de marché NFT. C’est une période passionnante et capitale pour les communautés de la crypto, du NFT et des vins et spiritueux de luxe, et nous avons hâte d’annoncer de nombreuses autres sorties exclusives dans les années à venir. »

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