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[Markets] "Presidential" DeSantis Dominates Debate With "Glib" Newsom But, "Watch Out, He's Coming" "Presidential" DeSantis Dominates Debate With "Glib" Newsom But, "Watch Out, He's Coming"

While we seem to be heading for a rematch between Biden and Trump in the 2024 US presidential election, Fox hosted a debate between Governor Gavin Newsom (Democrat, California) and Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican, Florida), which can either be seen as an early presidential debate for 2028 or a debate between two reserve-candidates for 2024.

DeSantis probably hoped to boost his chances in the current Republican primaries, after Nikki Haley’s campaign to be the main challenger to Trump has gained momentum.

And indeed, the Red State vs. Blue State debate between Govs. DeSantis and Newsom was truly a sight to behold.

As Matt Margolis writes at, it was amusing to see how DeSantis was armed with the facts, and Newsom was so impotent that he simply refused to answer question after question, instead choosing to launch into generic talking points, avoiding the substance of the issues being discussed.

Time after time, he was presented with raw data - facts comparing California and Florida - on migration, crime, jobs, COVID, etc., and Newsom’s response each time was to simply deny the facts and make up his own story.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a debate where a person evaded questions as much as Gavin Newsom did Thursday evening.

For someone who is routinely hailed as an expert debater and suave politician, he made it clear that he couldn’t defend the indefensible.

While there were a number of good lines, The Epoch Times' Nathan Worcester and T.J. Muscaro highlight the five key takeaways from the 2028 dress-rehearsal (perhaps):

Interstate Migration

Early in the debate Mr. Newsom and Mr. DeSantis sparred over the rate of migration to and from their respective states.

The exchange began after Mr. Hannity asked about the high rates of outmigration from California and some other blue states. Meanwhile, Florida and some other red states have grown.

“He’s the first governor to ever lose population,” Mr. DeSantis said of Mr. Newsom.

“I think California has more natural advantages than any state in the country. You almost have to try to mess California up,” he said.

The California governor claimed that over the last two years, there were “more Floridians going to California than Californians going to Florida.”

“That’s gonna be fun to fact check,” he added.

But U.S. Census data show that more Californians have moved to Florida than vice-versa in 2021 and 2022.

Some fact-checkers have asserted that California’s state executive was referring to migration per capita rather than the raw numbers.

Whatever the case may be, the Fox News-hosted event allowed refugees from the Golden State to say their piece. At a press conference prior to the Thursday night spectacle, seven new Floridians told reporters why they had departed from the Golden State.

"In 2022 we had had enough," said Steve Grossi, a law enforcement officer who spent a few years with the Sutter County Sheriff's Department near Yuba City, California.

"We were fed up. We were angry. We were scared. It was so bad that we can no longer survive here. The California that we once knew no longer existed,” he added.


Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Newsom also focused on the difference in their state's tax policies. Mr. Hannity opened with statistics from the Tax Foundation, which showed Florida's taxes alongside California's.

Florida features a lower sales tax (6 percent compared to California's 7.25 percent), lower gas tax (35.23 cents per gallon compared to California's 77.9 cents per gallon), and a lower corporate income tax (5.50 percent compared to California's 8.84 percent). Florida also boasts no individual income tax, while California features a maximum 13.3 percent income tax rate.

The Sunshine State only out-taxes the Golden State in terms of property taxes 0.91 percent on average compared to California's 0.75 percent.

Mr. Newsom said that his state had the highest income tax rate rather than the highest state income taxes, which was a "foundational, fundamental difference." He argued that states like Florida tax lower-income earners more than he does in his state.

"How many people wanted to go to California because they pay less taxes," Mr. DeSantis asked. "I have not seen that."

They come to Florida, he said, for lower taxes.

Mr. DeSantis also emphasized the fact his state has no state income tax, and the sales tax in place is still lower than that of California.

Pandemic Policy

Mr. Newsom also questioned Mr. DeSantis’s actions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Florida governor broached the issue when Mr. Newsom brought up Disney. The corporation, long a cornerstone of the state’s economy, has been at odds with Mr. DeSantis over the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act.

“I think that’s an interesting point with Disney because I had Disney open during COVID, and we made them a fortune, and we saved a lot of jobs. You had Disney closed inexplicably for over a year,” the Florida governor said.

Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California, was shuttered for 13 months.

“In the past year, Anaheim has been through one of the most challenging years in its history,” Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster told The Epoch Times in 2021.

Mr. Newsom soon fired back, arguing that the governor’s record was less liberty-oriented than he let on.

“You passed an emergency declaration before the State of California did,” he said.

Mr. DeSantis declared a public health emergency regarding COVID-19 on March 1, 2020. Mr. Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency over the coronavirus just days later, on March 4, 2020.

Other topics included COVID-19 death rates in the two states as well as the impact of lockdowns on education.

A National Bureau of Economic Research report card found that California had the least in-person learning of any state in the nation during the 2020–2021 school year, at just 19.2 percent. They outpaced the District of Columbia, in which just 5.8 percent of learning was in person that school year.

Parents Rights Bill

The governors also shared their views on parental rights when it comes to education and LGBT influence on kids.

Mr. DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Bill during his first term as governor. It was labeled by dissenters as the "Don't Say Gay Bill." The law prevented matters of gender identity and sexual orientation from being taught to kids in kindergarten through third grade and prohibited schools from defying parents and hiding information from them when it comes to affirming a child's gender identity.

The Florida law was written in response to national concerns about LGBT indoctrination in schools and attempts elsewhere to shut parents out of what happens when their children are in school.

"What we've said in Florida is it's inappropriate to tell a kindergartener that their gender is a choice," Mr. DeSantis said. "It's inappropriate to tell second graders that they may have been born in the wrong body. Now California has that. They want to have that injected into the elementary school."

Mr. DeSantis brought a copy of a page from one of these books showing examples of explicit sexual acts, partly censored for the TV audience.

The Republican then pointed to a California law that allows minors to travel to the state for transgender procedures.

"If you’re a parent in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina, your minor child can go to California without your knowledge or without your consent and get hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and a sex change operation," Mr. DeSantis said. "That is extreme. That is an assault on parents’ rights."

Meanwhile, Mr. Newsom accused Mr. DeSantis of being on a "banning binge" and that he "demeans" the LGBT community through his policies.

"What you're doing is using education as a sword for your cultural purge," the California governor said.


Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Newsom also debated crime and shootings.

The quality of life differences between the two states were a constant undercurrent of the debate.  Again – like a San Franciscan using the poop map app – Newsom repeatedly side-stepped the issue, baldly claiming California’s crime and homelessness issues are not really that bad and Florida has a city with a lot of murders, more than “even San Francisco.”

Mr. Hannity had asked about the higher rate of violent crime in California as compared to Florida, comparing two figures that combined homicide, rape, and other offenses in a single year.

But Mr. Newsom reframed the topic by narrowing it. He pointed out that Florida has a higher murder rate than California. Indeed, the homicide death rate in Florida was higher than that of California in 2021 according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts have questioned the utility of comparisons of murder rates between states.

“State-level data is not very useful. States have both urban and rural areas—and policing is a local decision in cities, which tend to be Democratically controlled even in Republican states,” economist John Lott told The Epoch Times in 2022.

“People are leaving California in droves largely because public safety has collapsed,” Mr. DeSantis asserted, claiming that the state has “basically legalized retail theft.”

In California, stealing items under $950 is just a misdemeanor. The Hoover Institution’s Lee Ohanian has argued that the standard means “shoplifting is now de facto legal in California.”

Mr. Newsom also took issue with Mr. DeSantis’s past talk of pardoning people arrested in connection with the protests and riots in Washington on Jan. 6. While much of his rhetoric seemed to be aimed at a broader audience than liberal Democrats, the California governor and possible future presidential candidate didn't shy away from more politically charged language when describing those individuals.

“I love this guy talking about ‘Backing the Blue’ when you dangled pardons for January 6th insurrectionists,” Mr. Newsom said.

*  *  *

Donald Trump's name was only invoked in the debate when Gavin "DeSantis Is Being Mean to People" Newsom used it to ridicule DeSantis. 

Finally, as Paula Bolyard writes at, when all was said and done, both men performed well, although Newsom frequently relied on lies to make his points.

I admit I'm biased, but Newsom came across as smarmy and artificially enhanced (by Botox and whatnot), even trotting out a fake Southern accent several times during the debate. At certain points, it felt like he was trying to channel Bill Clinton, which was super weird. 

DeSantis looked competent and was confident he was on the right side of every policy issue discussed. He apologized for nothing and was consistent in calling out Newsom's incompetence and malfeasance. 

In the post-game show, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the debate proved that "Democrats are from Mars and Republicans are from Venus." 

He said DeSantis was "very practical, very focused on people's daily lives," while Newsom's "whole message was identity politics." 

"I thought Governor DeSantis did a pretty good job tonight defending his state and his record," he added. He gave the Florida governor a B+ for his factual performance but a B- because he didn't look Newsom in the eye enough. He gave Newsom a "D in terms of mangling the facts." 

Democrat operative Harold Ford gave both a B+ and praised DeSantis's performance. 

Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz said DeSantis looked "presidential" and "his disposition and demeanor were spot on."

He predicted that the Florida governor would rise in the polls as a result of his performance. 

Former Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of Newsom, "In terms of being glib, yeah, I would give him an A."

She gave DeSantis an A but warned that Newsom is "a sharp messenger." "Watch out, he's coming," she added. 

Newsom swears (pinky promise!) that he's not running a shadow campaign for president, but the only person who believes that whopper is the doddering Joe Biden. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/01/2023 - 09:25
Published:12/1/2023 8:30:38 AM
[Markets] Entire Board Of Major UK Charity Sacked For Being White Entire Board Of Major UK Charity Sacked For Being White

Authored by Steve Watson via

A major charity in the UK has dismissed its entire board claiming that they are all too “white and privileged”.

The Daily Mail reports that The Tudor Trust, which has a net worth of £288million and gives away around £20 million a year, is ‘rethinking’ its future, pledging to be a “more diverse group” and to put “social justice and anti-racism” at the centre of its activity.

After offing the entire board based on their skin colour, remaining staff have been mandated to to undergo training in ‘racial justice’ and ‘white supremacy culture’, according to the report.

White staff were reportedly separated from black, Asian and other minority ethnic staff and given separate training on “the different characteristics of racism born of Britain’s colonial history, as well as the white supremacy culture that prevails”.

The charity, founded in 1955, conducted an internal “anti-racist review” overseen by interim director Raji Hunjan (pictured above) and issued a press release describing the move as “a journey towards a better understanding of the history of racism”.

The charity claims the move was inspired by Black Lives Matter protests.

A statement by the Tudor Trust noted “We recognise that we live in a society that is shaped by white privilege and racism. We also acknowledge that being a family Trust has given rise to a trustee board that is almost entirely white and privileged. While the profile of the staff of the trust is more diverse, we recognise that, throughout the organisation, most of us do not have experience of what it means to be discriminated against because of our colour.”

The Telegraph also reports that the charity has employed Cadence Partners, an “inclusive recruitment” consultancy agency, to help hire new staff. The company prides itself on “building talent pipelines” for “minority ethnic, disability, gender, LGBTQ+”, and refers to revolutionary Marxist Angela Davis as “a voice for social justice”.

Another organisation that has been consulted is the Power & Integrity project, which claims that “colonialism, patriarchy, and racism intersect and underpin unjust societal ‘norms’” which act to maintain “existing privilege”.

An advert seeking new trustees states candidates should have a “strong personal commitment to justice, diversity, equity and inclusion,” and have some “expertise in anti-racism, equity and inclusion”.

The ad for a new Chair Designate says applicants should have a “deep understanding of social and racial justice, and experience of applying this to systemic change”.

In the meantime, all grants going to good causes, previously around 250 grants a year, averaging £80,000 each, have been halted for the past year and a half.

Sterling work, you must agree.

*  *  *

Your support is crucial in helping us defeat mass censorship. Please consider donating via Locals or check out our great merch.

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/01/2023 - 03:30
Published:12/1/2023 3:15:05 AM
[Markets] Unrealized Losses At US Banks Exploded In Q3 Unrealized Losses At US Banks Exploded In Q3


Unrealized losses on securities held by US banks exploded by 22% in the third quarter.

Of course, unrealized losses don’t really matter — until they do.

This is yet more evidence that the financial crisis that kicked off last March continues to bubble under the surface.

Unrealized losses, primarily on US Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities rose by $126 billion in Q3 and now total $684 billion, according to the FDIC’s quarterly bank data release.

Current unrealized losses are only slightly below the record set in the third quarter of 2022. This reflects the fact that the FDIC took over three failed banks earlier his year and ate their unrealized losses when it sold the banks’ assets, thus wiping them from the books.

Unrealized looses on securities are divided between two accounting methods.

  • Unrealized losses on held-to-maturity (HTM) securities jumped by $81 billion to $391 billion.

  • Unrealized losses on available-for-sale (AFS) securities jumped by $45 billion to $293 billion.

It’s important to understand these are only paper losses. Ostensibly, the banks will hold these bonds until maturity and then will be paid their face value. If it plays out this way, there won’t be any real losses.

The problem is that these unrealized losses drastically decrease a bank’s liquidity. If it has to sell bonds in order to raise capital, the bank will experience significant losses. This is exactly what took down Silicon Valley Bank last March.

Here’s what happened.

SVB sold a large portion of its bond portfolio at a $1.8 billion loss. At the time, SVB CEO Greg Becke said the bank made the sale “because we expect continued higher interest rates, pressured public and private markets, and elevated cash burn levels from our clients.”

The bank bought the bonds when interest rates were low. As a result, the $21 billion available for sale (AVS) bond portfolio was not yielding above cash burn. Meanwhile, rising interest rates caused the value of the portfolio to fall significantly. The plan was to sell the longer-term, lower-interest-rate bonds and reinvest the money into shorter-duration bonds with a higher yield. Instead, the sale dented the bank’s balance sheet and caused worried depositors to pull funds out of the bank.

WolfStreet explained more generally how these “irrelevant” unrealized losses can suddenly become relevant.

Banks, via a quirk in bank regulations, don’t have to mark these securities to market value, but can carry them at purchase price. The difference between market value and purchase price is the ‘unrealized gain or loss’ that the bank must disclose in its quarterly financial filings, so that we the depositors can see them and get spooked by them and yank our money out, us billionaires and centimillionaires first, on the two fundamental principles of investing: 1, he who panics first, panics best; and 2, after us the deluge.”

The Federal Reserve set up a bailout program to allow banks to deal with this problem. Instead of selling bonds at a loss, cash-strapped banks can go to the Fed’s Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) and borrow against them “at par” (face value). This allows banks to use these undervalued assets to raise cash (at least temporarily) without realizing big losses on their balance sheets.

As unrealized losses rise, banks continue to tap into this bailout program more than nine months after the crisis kicked off.

Total outstanding loans in the BTFP program jumped by just over $5 billion in November alone.

In effect, the Fed managed to paper over the financial crisis with this bailout program.

It basically slapped a bandaid on it. But it has not addressed the underlying issue – the impact of rising interest rates on an economy and financial system addicted to easy money.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/30/2023 - 14:20
Published:11/30/2023 1:39:35 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:11/29/2023 7:20:04 AM
[Markets] Von Greyerz: The Financial System Has Reached The End Von Greyerz: The Financial System Has Reached The End

Authored by Egon von Greyerz via,

The world is now witnessing the end of a currency and financial system which the Chinese already forecast in 1971 after Nixon closed the gold window.

Again, remember von Mises words: “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion.”

History tells us that we have now reached the point of no return. 

So denying history at this point will not just be very costly but will lead to a total destruction of investors’ wealth.


History never lies but politicians do without fail. In a fake system based on false values, lying is considered to be an essential part of political survival. 

Let’s just look at Nixons ignorant and irresponsible statements of August 15, 1971 when he took away the gold backing of the dollar and thus all currencies. 

Later on we will show how clearsighted the Chinese leaders were about the destiny of the US and its economy.  

So there we have tricky Dick’s lies. 

  • The suspension of the convertibility of the dollar in 1971 is still in effect 52 years later.

  • As the dollar has declined by almost 99% since 1971, the “strength of the economy” is also declining fast although using fiat money as the measure hides the truth.

  • And now to the last lie: “Your dollar will be worth as much tomorrow”. Yes, you are almost right Dick!  It is still worth today a whole 1% of the value when you closed the gold window. 

The political system is clearly a farce. You have to lie to be elected and you have to lie to stay in power. That is what the gullible voters expect. The sad result is that they will always be cheated.


So in 1971 after Nixon closed the gold window, China in its official news media the People’s Daily made the statements below:

Clearly the Chinese understood the consequences of the disastrous US decision which would destroy the Western currency system as they said:

  • Seriousness of the US economic crisis and decay and decline of the capitalist system

  • Mark the collapse of the monetary system with the US dollar as its prop

  • Nixon’s policy cannot extricate the US from financial and economic crisis

I am quite certain that the US administration at the time ridiculed China’s official statement. As most Western governments, they showed their arrogance and complete ignorance of history. 

How right the Chinese were. 

But the road to perdition is not immediate and we have seen over 50 years the clear “decline of the capitalist system”. The end of the current system is unlikely to be far away.

Interestingly it seems that a Communist non-democratic system is much more clairvoyant than a so called Western democracy. There is clearly an advantage not always having to buy votes.


As the whole currency system is about to implode,  it is in my view totally irrelevant where the US dollar is heading short term measured against other fiat currencies. 

The dilemma is that most “experts” use the Dollar Index (DXY) as the measure of the dollar’s strength or weakness.  This is like climbing the ladder of success only to find out that the ladder is leaning against the wrong building. 

To measure the dollar against its partners in crime (the other fiat currencies) misses the point as they are all on the way to perdition.

So the dollar index measures the dollar against six fiat currencies: Euro, Pound, Yen, Canadian Dollar, Swedish Kroner and Swiss Franc. The Chinese Yuan shines in its absence even though China is the second biggest economy in the world. 

But here is the crux. The dollar is in a race to the bottom with 6 other currencies. 

Since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971 all 7 currencies, including the US dollar, have declined 97-99% in real terms. 

Real terms means constant purchasing power. 

And the only money which has maintained constant purchasing power for over 5,000 years is of course gold.

So let’s make it clear – the only money which has survived in history is GOLD! 

All other currencies have without fail gone to ZERO and that without exception. 

Voltaire said it already in 1729:


And that has been the destiny of every currency throughout history. 

Every single currency has without fail gone to ZERO. And this is where the dollar and its lackeys are heading. 

To debate if a currency, which has fallen 98.2% in the last 52 years, is going to strengthen or weaken in the next year or two is really missing the point. 

It is virtually 100% certain that the dollar and all fiat money will complete the cycle (which started in 1913 with the creation of the Fed) and fall the remaining 1-3% to ZERO.

But we must remember that the final fall involves a 100% loss of value from today. 


So to debate whether the dollar index which today is 103, will reach 150 first as my good friend Brent Johnson argues in his Dollar Milk Shake Theory or that it will fall from here as my colleague Matt Piepenburg contends, really misses the point. 

There is no prize for coming first to the bottom. The dollar is down almost 99% in real terms since 1971. So it has a bit over 1% to fall to reach ZERO. 

And history tells us that the final fall is INEVITABLE. 

So why worry if the Dollar or the Euro becomes worthless first? It really is a mute point. 

Brent Johnson and Matt Piepenburg recently had a debate on Adam Taggart’s new platform “Thoughtful Money”. Adam is an outstanding host with great speakers and both Brent and Matt were superb in their presentation of the arguments for or against the dollar. But even though they both like and understand gold, they got a bit too caught up in the dollar up or down debate rather than focusing on the only money which has survived in history. Still, I know that they both appreciate that gold is the ultimate money. 


The world’s reserve currency has had a sad performance based on lies, poor real growth, all due to a mismanaged economy based on debt and printed money. 

So although most currencies have lost 97-99% in real terms since 1971 there are shining exceptions. 

When the gold window was closed in 1971 I was working in a Swiss bank in Geneva. At the time, one dollar cost Swiss Franc 4.30. Today, 52 years later, one dollar costs Swiss Franc 0.88! 

This means that the dollar has declined 80% against the Swiss Franc since 1971.

So a country like Switzerland with virtually no deficits and a very low debt to GDP proves that a well managed economy with very low inflation doesn’t destroy its currency like most irresponsible governments. 

The Swiss system of direct democracy and people power is totally unique and gives the people the right to have a referendum on almost any issue they choose. 

This makes the people much more responsible in their choices as a winning vote on any issue becomes part of the constitution and cannot be changed by government or parliament. Only a new referendum can change such a decision. 


Swiss Debt to GDP is around 40%. This was the level of US debt back in 1971 before the gold window was closed. 

As the graph below shows, US debt to GDP is now 132%. In 2000 it was 55%. 

132% debt to GDP is the level of a Banana Republic which is frantically trying to survive by printing and borrowing ever increasing amounts of worthless fiat money.  

So debt to GDP is now reaching the exponential phase. I have explained the final phases of exponential moves in many articles like here.

Since there is no intent or possibility to reduce the US deficit, the likely deficit for next fiscal year is most probably in excess of $2 trillion and that is before any bad news like higher inflation, higher interest rates, bank failures, more war, more QE etc. 

As I discussed in a recent article,“THE CYCLE OF EVIL”the world is today facing unprecedented risks of a magnitude never before seen in history. 


The combination of geopolitical and financial risk makes wealth preservation an absolute necessity. 

Most asset markets look extremely vulnerable be it stocks bond or property. Few investors understand that current asset prices are in cloud cuckoo land as a result of an unprecedented credit expansion. 

Personally I think we are now at a point when asset markets could tank. 

At the same time gold looks ready to soon break out of its consolidation since 2020. 

Once gold leaves the $2,000 level behind, the move is likely to be fast. 

Silver will most probably move twice as fast as gold.

But this is not a question of price and speculation. No, it is all about risk and wealth preservation. 

So short term timing is irrelevant. The next few years will be about financial survival. 

Sadly most investors will buy the dips in conventional asset markets like stocks and lose most of their gains in the last few decades. 

As gold is insurance against a rotten financial system it must be acquired and owned outside a fragile banking system which is unlikely to survive in its present form. 

Here are a few of the SINE QUA NON (indispensable conditions) for gold ownership:

  • Gold must be held in physical form. No funds, ETFs or bank held gold. 

  • The investor must have direct access to his own gold bars/coins. 

  • Any counterparty must be eliminated whenever possible. 

  • Gold must be stored in ultra safe vaults outside the banking system. 

  • Gold should not be stored in a major city.

  • Gold must be insured.

  • Only gold that you are prepared to lose should be stored at home. 

  • Gold should be stored outside your country of residence and in a gold friendly jurisdiction.

  • The country where the gold is stored must have a long history of democracy, political stability and peace.  

As we are approaching one of the most precarious times in history both financially, socially, politically and geopolitically, Wealth Preservation in the form of gold and some silver will make the difference between financial survival or ruin.

As always, most important in life is looking after family and helping friends.  

And remember that in the difficult times ahead there are many wonderful things that are free like nature, books, music, sports etc. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 11/28/2023 - 06:30
Published:11/28/2023 5:41:30 AM
[Gear] 6 Best Amazon Kindle Cyber Monday Deals (2023) Amazon's Kindles make it easier to access all your favorite books. They're on sale right now. Published:11/27/2023 2:14:57 AM
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[Culture] Thomas Sowell, Still on Solid Ground

In economics, the law of diminishing returns states that the benefits gained from an enterprise will be proportionally smaller the more money, time, or energy is invested in it.

Thankfully this is not true in the realm of ideas, as the career of the economist Thomas Sowell attests. Now 93 years old and the author of more than 40 books, Sowell’s most recent contribution, Social Justice Fallacies, tackles the many misguided social experiments of the past few decades and their often-malign fallout.

The post Thomas Sowell, Still on Solid Ground appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:11/25/2023 4:50:15 AM
[Markets] Professors: Free Speech And Intellectual Diversity Are Not Essential To Higher Education Professors: Free Speech And Intellectual Diversity Are Not Essential To Higher Education

Authored by Jonathan Turley via,

In “The Indispensable Right,” I discuss how academics are now leading an anti-free speech movement on campuses that challenges the centrality (or even the necessity) of free speech protections in higher education. The latest such argument appeared this month in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Two Arizona State University professors — Richard Amesbury and Catherine O’Donnell — wrote that free speech concerns yield too much to the “right wing” and that free speech should not be given the protection currently afforded by universities and colleges. Indeed, they argue that free speech may be harming higher education by fostering “unworthy” ideas.

Amesbury teaches religious studies and O’Donnell teaches history at ASU. They wrote an article titled “Dear Administrators: Enough with the Free Speech Rhetoric! It Concedes Too Much to the Right-Wing Agenda.”

The two academics challenge the long-held view of the centrality of free speech to higher education. Notably, many of us have been alarmed by the erosion of free speech on our campuses, but Amesbury and O’Donnell seem to worry that there is still too much protection for opposing views. Worse yet, they suggest that the free speech objections are often part of a right-wing funded agenda.

In fairness, to the two professors, they do not reject the overall value of free speech, but challenge “the assumptions that free speech is a cardinal virtue of higher education, and that colleges should aspire to a diversity of opinions.” They insist that higher education is about finding truth and that means that false ideas are inimical to our mission as educators. Indeed, they question the need for “intellectual diversity”:

Our contention is that calls for greater freedom of speech on campuses, however well-intentioned, risk undermining colleges’ central purpose, namely, the production of expert knowledge and understanding, in the sense of disciplinarily warranted opinion. Expertise requires freedom of speech, but it is the result of a process of winnowing and refinement that is premised on the understanding that not all opinions are equally valid. Efforts to “democratize” opinion are antithetical to the role colleges play in educating the public and informing democratic debate. We urge administrators toward caution before uncritically endorsing calls for intellectual diversity in place of academic expertise…

A diversity of opinion — “intellectual diversity” — isn’t itself the goal; rather, it is of value only insofar as it serves the goal of producing knowledge. On most unanswered questions, there is, at least initially, a range of plausible opinions, but answering questions requires the vetting of opinions. As some opinions are found wanting, the range of opinion deserving of continued consideration narrows.

As a threshold matter, what is so striking about this argument against intellectual diversity is that it is made at a time with little such diversity in most departments. Seeking a wider range of viewpoints on departments does not “concedes too much to the right-wing agenda.” It acknowledges a growing problem across higher education, It is an educational agenda that has prompted many of us to raise the reduction of intellectual diversity.

We have already seen faculties purged of conservative and libertarian colleagues. We previously discussed how surveys at universities show a virtual purging of conservative and Republican faculty members.  For example, last year, the Harvard Crimson noted that the university had virtually eliminated Republicans from most departments but that the lack of diversity was not a problem.  Now, a new survey conducted by the Harvard Crimson shows that more than three-quarters of Harvard Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences faculty respondents identify as “liberal” or “very liberal.” Only 2.5% identified as “conservative,” and only 0.4% as “very conservative.”

Likewise, a study by Georgetown University’s Kevin Tobia and MIT’s Eric Martinez found that only nine percent of law school professors identify as conservative at the top 50 law schools. Notably, a 2017 study found 15 percent of faculties were conservative. Another study found that 33 out of 65 departments lacked a single conservative faculty member.

Compare that to a recent Gallup poll stating, “roughly equal proportions of U.S. adults identified as conservative (36%) and moderate (35%) in Gallup polling throughout 2022, while about a quarter identified as liberal (26%).”

Even with this purging of departments, Amesbury and O’Donnell still worry that intellectual diversity could be maintained as a goal in higher education. They are not alone in this view. As we have previously discussed, some professors reject the notion that campuses should protect the free speech rights of those who are . . . well . . . wrong.

For example, after many of us expressed disgust at the treatment of a federal judge shouted down by Stanford law students, Professor Jennifer Ruth wrote a column in the Chronicle of Higher Education heralding their actions. It is an extension of her book It’s Not Free Speech: Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom (with Penn State Music Professor Michael Bérubé) declaring certain views as advancing “theories of white supremacy” and thus having “no intellectual legitimacy whatsoever.” Once declared as harmful, it is no longer free speech and therefore worthy of censorship or cancellation. It is that easy.

These academics reject the long-held view that higher education rests on the preservation of intellectual diversity and free inquiry, as discussed in the famous Kalven Report.

In 1967, the University of Chicago assembled a committee to study academic freedom and free speech that would become one of the most important projects in modern higher education. It became known as the “Kalven Committee” after its chair, the great law scholar Harry Kalven, Jr. The report contained an eloquent and profound defense of diversity of thought and expression that seems utterly abandoned by many today. It was cited by the Stanford Law Dean in her letter to the law students and stated in part:

“From time to time instances will arise in which the society, or segments of it, threaten the very mission of the university and its values of free inquiry. In such a crisis, it becomes the obligation of the university as an institution to oppose such measures and actively to defend its interests and its values.”

Amesbury and O’Donnell reject the precept that departments should foster intellectual diversity since “accepting this role for the humanities and social sciences, however, means that their faculties risk losing the ability to judge any ideas (or proposed curricula or public programming) unworthy of sponsorship.”

It is a rationalization for the current echo chamber of higher education. Of course, many of these academics would be outraged if conservatives were to take hold of faculties and start to exclude their views as “unworthy.” Indeed, that was once the response to far left professors like critical legal scholars and socialists. Now, however, the left has control of these departments and has declared opposing views to be unworthy of protection.

One can certainly understand the appeal of this argument to many faculty and publications like the Journal of Higher Education. By simply declaring opposing views “unworthy” or wrong, you relieve yourself of any obligation to allow such opposing views on faculties or in publications.

We saw the impact of this orthodoxy during the pandemic.

For example, the media, academic departments, and government agencies allied to treat anyone raising a lab theory as one of three possibilities: conspiracy theorist or racists or racist conspiracy theorists. Academics joined this chorus in marginalizing anyone raising the theory. One study cited the theory as an example of “anti-Chinese racism” and “toxic white masculinity.”

As late as May 2021, the New York Times’ Science and Health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli was calling any mention of the lab theory as “racist.” Conversely, one former New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade chastised his former colleagues for ignoring the obvious evidence supporting a lab theory as well as Chinese efforts to arrest scientists and destroy evidence that could establish the origin.

Others in academia quickly joined the bandwagon to assure the public that there is no scientific basis for their theory, leaving only racism or politics as the motivation behind the theory. In early 2020, with little available evidence, two op-eds in The Lancet in February and Nature Medicine went all-in on the denial front.

The Lancet op-ed stated, “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin.”

No reference to the lab theory was to be tolerated. When Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) merely mentioned the possibility in 2020, he was set upon by the usual flash media mob. The Washington Post ridiculed him for repeating a “debunked” coronavirus “conspiracy theory.”

In September 2020, Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a virologist and former postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hong Kong, dared to repeat the theory on Fox News, saying, “I can present solid scientific evidence . . . [that] it is a man-made virus created in the lab.” The left-leaning PolitiFact slammed her and gave her a “pants on fire rating.”

Academics were stripped of their positions on leading boards and suspended from social media, including professors  who co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration. The Declaration advocated for a more focused Covid response that targeted the most vulnerable population rather than widespread lockdowns and mandates. Many are now recognizing the basis for those views and questioning the efficacy and cost of the massive lockdowns as well as the efficacy of masks or the rejection of natural immunities as an alternative to vaccination.  Federal agencies now accept the lab origin theory. Yet, these experts and others were attacked for such views just a couple years ago and their views were deemed “unworthy” by many for schools or publications.

The problem with rejecting intellectual diversity is that it fosters orthodoxy and ignorance. Rejecting opposing views certainly can advance careers. There are more opportunities for the compliant or the orthodox. Professors face less challenge or contradiction in their own writings.  Promotions, speaking engagements, and publishing opportunities are certainly enhanced with the elimination of colleagues with opposing views.

However, the result is the gradual death of higher education. It is evident in the rising intolerance shown on our campuses for opposing views and increasing demands for censorship and blacklisting. It is the triumph of the majority, but it looks more like an academic mob. Once all of the “unworthy” thoughts and faculty are purged, what is left appears more like indoctrination than education.


Professor O’Donnell has responded to this column and I appreciate her willingness engage us on the blog. I also wanted to share a response to her arguments.

Here is her comment:

“I appreciate your attention to the piece Richard and I recently wrote. Our argument is not that free speech is unimportant. Nor do we argue against a diversity of ideas. And we certainly never suggest that ideas should go unquestioned: to the contrary, we make the same point that you do, which is that ideas must face scrutiny, competition, and skepticism if knowledge is to advance. Our argument is two-fold. First, that universities should have a more modest sense of their role in society. Free speech is important, we argue, for a vibrant public sphere. The distinguishing value of higher education, however, is academic freedom – the freedom to participate without hindrance in the disciplinary processes by means of which knowledge can be sifted from mere opinion.

This means that rather than seeking to be an all-encompassing speech forum, universities should instead embrace their limited role as places of scholarship, learning, and teaching, with the pursuit of truth at their core. Second, we argue that “free speech” and “intellectual diversity” – exactly because one is so easily chastised for questioning them – have become gates through which unexamined orthodoxies, buoyed by government or donor influence, enter universities and take root. Imperfect as academia is, we’ve found that our critics come up with examples of how, when disciplinary processes are pursued, knowledge does advance. You observed that legal theories that were once absent from academia entered the mainstream; new legal theories will emerge to displace those now at center stage if disciplines undertake their role of questioning and vetting. That displacement can’t happen if their adherents can simply appeal to “intellectual diversity” for their protection. Another critic pointed out that eugenics was once important to some university departments. Precisely, we say. Scholarship informed by the tragic moral understanding that followed WWII, eventually displaced eugenic pseudoscience. Eugenics could now be reinserted into universities under the banner of free speech or intellectual diversity. We can all surely agree that this is not desirable. And if we agree to that, perhaps we can move past the assertion that the mere invocation of free speech and intellectual diversity must always capture the moral and intellectual high ground.”

I must confess that I remain skeptical. Professor O’Donnell explains that “[t]his means that rather than seeking to be an all-encompassing speech forum, universities should instead embrace their limited role as places of scholarship, learning, and teaching, with the pursuit of truth at their core.”

This is a common defense against academic diversity. No one is seriously questioning the role of universities as places of scholarship or learning. The issue is the dramatic reduction of conservative, libertarian, or even dissenting faculty at many schools. While raising such concerns can be dismissed as “a right-wing agenda,” there are a host of polls and surveys showing students and faculty are reporting a lack of tolerance or diversity of thought in classrooms. When these concerns are raised, the mantra is that we have not hired conservative or libertarian scholars because their views lack merit or intellectual vigor.

For example, Above the Law Senior Editor Joe Patrice ddefended “predominantly liberal faculties” and argued that hiring a conservative professor is akin to allowing a believer in geocentrism to teach.

Professor O’Donnell also notes that “we argue that ‘free speech’ and ‘intellectual diversity’ … have become gates through which unexamined orthodoxies, buoyed by government or donor influence, enter universities and take root.” The dominance of the left found in these surveys is not due to “unexamined orthodoxies.” It is due to the dismissal of opposing views as “unworthy” and not “intellectually rigorous.” That rationale has been used to purge faculties of most conservatives. Most faculties run from the left to the far left. There is no explanation other than to claim that no sufficiently qualified conservative, libertarian, or dissenting candidates applied. Years go by for many schools without a single qualified candidate with conservative or dissenting views on major issues. In the meantime, states are expected to continue to fund schools that often exclude the values and views of the majority of the taxpayers.

The disconnect defies logic. For example, half of the judges and roughly half of the populace hold fairly conservative views on constitutional issues. Half of Congress hold such views. However, only a small percentage of conservative faculty (if any) can be found at most law schools. That is not due to these views being “unexamined.” Likewise, it is relatively rare to have opposing views on gender identity, climate control, abortion, social justice issues found on many campuses. Indeed, faculty with such views have been subject to cancel campaigns and university investigations.

Professor O’Donnell adds that “You observed that legal theories that were once absent from academia entered the mainstream; new legal theories will emerge to displace those now at center stage if disciplines undertake their role of questioning and vetting.” However, this blog is full of accounts of dissenting faculty being removed from publications, societies, and faculties. The political orthodoxy that has taken hold of our campuses has made it far less likely that such views can be fairly presented.

None of this is, as claimed, is offered to use of free speech or intellectual diversity to push a “right-wing agenda.” These are questions that have long been raised and remain, even after this column, unanswered.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/24/2023 - 17:00
Published:11/24/2023 4:28:19 PM
[Gear] TK Best Amazon Kindle Black Friday Deals (2023) Reading is the best hobby, and Kindles make it easier to access all your favorite books. Published:11/23/2023 10:02:36 PM
[Markets] America’s Runaway Debt Scenario: $1,000,000,000,000 In Interest America’s Runaway Debt Scenario: $1,000,000,000,000 In Interest

Authored by Petr Svab via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. federal government has borrowed so much money that, over the past year, it has had to spend one-fifth of all the money it collected just on debt interest—which came to almost $880 billion.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images, Shutterstock)

Americans paid some $450 billion less in income taxes for the year, trapping the government in the pincers of a fiscal crunch.

The country teeters on the brink of a debt spiral that could devolve into a fiscal crisis or hyperinflation, several economists told The Epoch Times.

The problem is serious because, any way you cut it, taxpayers are paying interest on the mountain of debt that has been accumulated,” said Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University. “In short, they are paying something for nothing.”

Congress must dramatically curb deficit spending to instill confidence in investors—who seem to be losing faith in America’s ability to satisfy its obligations, some suggest.

“Deficit spending by the U.S. government is in a runaway scenario," said Mark Thornton, a senior fellow at the classical liberal Mises Institute. "The amount of money that they're borrowing is at extremely elevated levels and there doesn’t seem to be any regulation or even mild attempts to curb the spending side of the fiscal equation.”

The U.S. Treasury building in Washington on March 13, 2023. The Treasury joined other government financial institutions to bail out Silicon Valley Bank's account holders after it collapsed. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Gigantic Debt

Government debt stood above $33 trillion in fiscal year 2023 (the 12 months that ended on Sept. 30). That’s about $1.7 trillion more than the year before. Interest on the debt has been growing steadily for decades, although at a relatively slow pace to about $570 billion in 2019 from about $350 billion in 1995—an annual increase of some 2 percent.

With the explosion of government spending during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, the debt cost has skyrocketed by more than 50 percent between 2019 and 2023. Over the past year, it has already surpassed the entire military budget.

The cost is expected to keep growing as old debt issued at low interest rates matures and is rolled over into higher rates.

While the government pays some of the interest to itself, as it holds about 20 percent of the debt in various trusts and funds, interest from that portion of the debt is supposed to pay for future expenses of programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

That money is already slated to go out the door. It just hasn’t gone out the door yet,” said E.J. Antoni, an economist and research fellow at conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.

“It’s not as if the government has that cash on hand to spend.”

Even with that income counted in, the Medicare Hospital Insurance and Social Security funds are expected to run out of money in about 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The National Debt Clock in Washington on Nov. 13, 2023.(Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Who Pays?

Proponents of large government deficit spending have argued that servicing the debt isn’t much of a worry since the Fed can print the cash necessary to cover the interest or even buy up the debt. The Treasury would then pay the interest on the debt to the Fed, which would then use the money to cover the cost of its operations and send the surplus back to the Treasury. The government would, in effect, pay the interest to itself.

Indeed, about 20 percent of the government debt is held by the Fed already.

However, the reality doesn’t necessarily follow this logic.

“The Federal Reserve doesn’t actually make money anymore," Mr. Antoni said. "They lose money because so much of the Treasuries that they have on the books right now [were] purchased in 2020 and even early 2021 when rates were near zero, so those assets are earning almost nothing,"

Anything the Fed does collect on its portfolio, it immediately pays out to banks and money market funds in interest on reserves and reverse repurchase agreements. The point of those operations is to stem inflation—“keeping liquid cash locked in its vaults so that it can’t multiply in the banking system,” he said.

These operations now cost the central bank some $700 million per day, forcing it into a “huge deficit,” Mr. Antoni said.

“It’s not sending Treasury a dime.”

For the same reason, the Fed seems to lack the appetite for more government debt. Over the past year and a half, it has been slowly reducing its debt holdings, siphoning cash out of the market to curb inflation.

“Any time the Fed buys something, they do it with money that’s being created for that purpose,” he said.

“The Fed actually doesn’t have an account with any balance. Their checking account literally has zero balance so when they sell an asset, the money that goes into that account is extinguished. When they buy an asset, the money that comes out of that account is just created.”

If the Fed were to buy more debt, it would increase the money supply, summoning the specter of inflation even as it’s trying to banish it.

“We would be right back on the inflation treadmill,” Mr. Antoni said.

Bad Credit?

If the government wants to borrow without worsening inflation, it needs to find somebody to buy the debt with existing dollars.

Until recently, that hasn’t been a problem. Despite offering measly interest, U.S. Treasurys served as a safe haven investment—a hedge against risk and an indispensable collateral in complex investment schemes in financial markets.

U.S. Treasurys were seen as the safest asset. And increasingly that’s not the case today,” Mr. Antoni said.

In August, the Fitch rating firm downgraded U.S. debt to AA+ from AAA.

On Nov. 9, the Treasury had the worst auction of 30-year Treasurys in more than a decade as investors demanded a premium to buy the bond. Demand was down by almost 5 percent from the month before.

On Nov. 10, Moody's, another rating firm, lowered the U.S. debt outlook to “negative” from “stable,” arguing that polarization in Congress is likely to thwart fiscal reforms.

“People are increasingly realizing today [that U.S. Treasurys] aren’t safe at all,” Mr. Antoni said.

He pointed out that “violent changes” in monetary policy can dramatically affect bond prices.

Nobody would pay the full price of a bond that pays 2 percent annual interest when the Treasury now offers plenty of bonds that pay 5 percent.

“If you bought a government bond, for example, in 2020, it’s lost about half of its value, so you just can’t sell it," Mr. Antoni said. "You’re essentially stuck with that low rate of return."

Accounting for inflation, the older bonds are now, in fact, losing their owners money, but at least they return something.

“That’s still typically better than the losses you would take if you sold it outright,” he said.

Then, there’s the default risk. Investors are aware that the government will likely one day be unable to pay its debts. So far, that hasn’t been much of an issue, partly because of the “greater fool strategy,” as he put it.

“'I’m betting that there’s a bigger fool out there who, after I want to sell, is still willing to buy, even though that Doomsday, if you will, is right around the corner,'” he said, summing up the strategy.

“That may sound silly, but there are plenty of investors and investments that operate on that principle.”

The cooling of demand for the 30-year bonds may be a sign that investors are gradually losing confidence that such a fool will be available over the long haul. The Treasury seems to be responding by offering more of the shorter maturity bonds, according to Mr. Antoni.

Yet inflation poses a similar risk to a default, he said, noting that the dollar has lost about 17 percent of its value over the past few years.

“It’s the same as if the Treasury were to turn around and only pay 83 percent of the bondholders and tell the other 17 percent to go pound sand,” he said.

All these factors seem to be souring investor confidence in the bonds. And once spoiled, investor trust is hard to restore, according to Mr. Hanke.

The US Treasury Department building in Washington on Jan. 19, 2023. The Treasury announced it had begun taking measures to prevent a default on government debt. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Tyler Durden Thu, 11/23/2023 - 17:45
Published:11/23/2023 5:11:06 PM
[Markets] Celebrating Thanksgiving Then And Now Celebrating Thanksgiving Then And Now

Authored by Jeff Minick via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

On Oct. 3, 1789, America’s new president, George Washington, designated the last Thursday in November of that year a day of “public thanks-giving” for the new republic and its Constitution. However, the concept didn't stick.

A family enjoys Thanksgiving dinner together, just as many generations did before them. (Biba Kayewich)

Sarah Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” had labored for years to make Thanksgiving a national event. Finally, in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln revived President Washington’s day of gratitude. This time, the idea stuck.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt made November’s fourth Thursday an official national holiday intended “to thank the Giver of all good for our national blessings.” In 1939, to extend the holiday shopping season so as to help battle the ongoing Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to a week earlier. This shift of dates met with resistance, and in 1941, he signed a bill officially declaring the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving today remains centered on gratitude, family, and food, yet there were moments in our history when circumstance and custom shaped this holiday in unusual ways. Here are some memories from the past that might enlighten and enliven our own celebrations this year.

Good Times

At the beginning of the 20th century, American pride and confidence in itself were at a peak, and the lavish Thanksgiving dinners of the wealthy reflected the country’s abundance. The 1900 “Thanksgiving Dinner” menu for New York’s Park Avenue Hotel offered patrons their choice of such foods as oysters, creamed fresh mushrooms on toast, boiled Kennebec salmon, saddle of lamb with kidney beans, potted quail, diamondback terrapin, Rhode Island turkey, ribs of prime beef, and much more, including a sizable array of vegetables, potato dishes, desserts, candies, cheese, nuts, rum, and coffee.

Meanwhile, that same year, Good Housekeeping magazine offered its subscribers a menu more in keeping within the means of a middle-class American family of the time, with fare more familiar to us today: cranberry sauce, turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. By then, clearly, these foods had become as much a part of Thanksgiving as they are today.

President Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House, and two Thanksgiving stories from his presidency tell us a little about the man and his times. In 1902, carpenters and painters were pushing to finish work on the White House’s West Wing. When the president learned that these men were laboring away on Thanksgiving Day, he insisted that they put down their tools and enjoy some of the food being prepared in the White House kitchen.

Two years later, the Boston Herald, no friend of President Roosevelt’s, reported that upon receipt of the Thanksgiving turkey from Rhode Islander Horace Vose, the president had released the turkey from its cage and then gleefully cheered as his young children chased the bird all over the White House lawn, shouting, plucking its feathers, and running the poor creature nearly to death. Some Americans expressed astonishment and dismay that President Roosevelt, a lover of wildlife, would allow this behavior.

As it turned out, the story was an utter fabrication. The bird had arrived dressed and ready for the kitchen stove, and President Roosevelt's secretary furiously condemned the attack from the paper. For the rest of his presidency, he refused to have anything to do with the Boston Herald.

Nothing new here. Some in our news and social media still commit this same sort of "fowl."

Tough Times

In “What Thanksgiving Dinner Looked Like During the Great Depression,” Kirstie Bingham writes that in 1933, turkey was $0.23 a pound. Today, that pound will cost the consumer about $1.27. The turkey from a century ago sounds cheap until Ms. Bingham reminds us that the hourly wage at the time, for those who could even find work, was about $0.53 and that a Thanksgiving dinner for six would cost approximately $5.50, which could easily equal 10 hours of work or more.

So those folks, as some of us may do this year, substituted less expensive foods for Thanksgiving. Old chickens were cooked slowly to tenderize the meat. Oyster stew was exchanged for side dishes such as sweet potatoes. Cheap canned vegetables such as peas and green beans were added to the Thanksgiving fare. An Indiana cream pie, known popularly as “Hoosier cream pie” and consisting mainly of milk, sugar, and butter, was substituted for the more expensive pumpkin pies.

For these families, the menu changed, but the Thanksgiving spirit lived on.


World War II brought new challenges to chefs and celebrants. Though factories and farms were soon booming, shortages limited access to certain foods, and gas rationing meant that visits with Grandma might be impossible. With so many men overseas and in military camps, many households also saw some empty chairs around the dining room table.

Yet Americans endeavored once again to brighten the holiday. Vegetables grown in “victory gardens” were canned and made their way to the kitchen. If there were bases nearby, soldiers were often invited into homes for the season’s big meal. The United Service Organizations (USO) and other volunteer organizations worked hard to make Thanksgiving special for soldiers stateside. In Olympia, Washington, for instance, the high school’s YMCA club, along with various churches, organized ecumenical Thanksgiving services to raise money for prisoners of war, while the USO club held Thanksgiving Day buffets along with games and a dance.

Thanksgiving from the war years was also commemorated in Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom From Want,” which many of us today simply call the Thanksgiving painting. Here, Rockwell depicts a joyful family gathered around a table just as the turkey is being served. The painting was immensely popular, with millions of reproductions, and reminded both civilians and soldiers what they were fighting for.

By November 1944, it was clear that America and her allies were winning the war. Aware of the cost and the sacrifices still being made by so many Americans, one newspaper editorialized the following at Thanksgiving: “Above all, let us be grateful not only for the success of our cause, but for the courage and sacrifices of our brave sons, brothers, and husbands that made the victories possible.

“And then we must always be grateful for tomorrow when life will resume its normal course and time mercifully will heal the wounds of mankind.”

In that editorial is the word that belongs with Thanksgiving as surely as turkey and backyard football games: grateful.

Thanking the Thankful

President Washington asked America to give thanks after 14 years of upheaval and war. President Lincoln issued his proclamation in the middle of the bloodiest war that our country has ever fought. Our recent ancestors celebrated Thanksgiving through a decade of hard times, and then through four more years of a horrible world war that left hundreds of thousands of families bereft over the death of a loved one.

Now, we’re the ones living in a moment of history when trials again plague our country, so that when we gather for Thanksgiving this year, we may have trouble summoning gratitude and appreciation. We may be thankful for our friends and family, but we look around the table at our children and grandchildren and rightly wonder what sort of world they’ll inherit.

Maybe, then, this is a good year to pause, look over our shoulders, and thank the thankful of earlier generations. Maybe if we remember the gratitude that they felt and expressed, and their tenacity in the face of their own trials, we might better remember the blessings in our own lives, and so add to our store of strength and courage.

When I started counting my blessings,” said songwriter and singer Willie Nelson, “my whole life turned around.”

That’s a step in the right direction.

And Thanksgiving is tailor-made for those acts of gratitude.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/23/2023 - 11:15
Published:11/23/2023 10:37:23 AM
[billionaire] 3 Books Recommended By Bill Gates This Holiday Season—Plus Music and a Netflix Show Bill Gates's top picks of books, music and Netflix shows of 2023. Published:11/23/2023 7:33:21 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers Here is a snapshot of the most popular fiction and nonfiction books in the last two weeks. Published:11/22/2023 7:06:20 AM
[Markets] David Stockman On Washington's Fiscal Doomsday Machine David Stockman On Washington's Fiscal Doomsday Machine

Authored by David Stockman via,

Here’s one that will make your hair stand on end: The US Treasury closed the books on FY 2023, bringing the four-year cumulative deficit to $9.0 trillion!

That’s right. During the last 1,461 days (FY 2020 thru FY 2023), Uncle Sam has generated $6.2 billion of red ink each and every day including weekends, holidays and snow-days. For anyone keeping score at home, that’s $4.2 million of red ink per minute.

For the purpose of perspective, here’s how long it took to generate the first $9 trillion of US government debt: It took all of 43 presidents and 219 years to reach $9 trillion of public debt in July 2007. So the national debt clock has now accelerated to hyper-drive.

Market Value of Public Debt Outstanding, 1940 to July 2007

And, yes, we do mean accelerate. It turns out that when you remove the budgetary Mickey Mouse from the numbers, the federal deficit for FY 2023 clocked in at over $2.0 trillion, or double the comparable level in FY 2022. The reported numbers, of course, do not look quite as alarming, posting at $1.4 trillion last year and $1.7 trillion this year.

But as The Wall Street Journal cogently explained recently, that comparison is very misleading because it includes a $380 billion budgetary shuffle between the two years. It seems that Sleepy Joe’s student debt cancellation got recorded as a cost in September 2022, but then got canceled by the courts in FY 2023, turning it into a giant “savings”!

When the Biden administration announced its plan to forgive federal student debt held by 40 million Americans in September 2022, it logged the long-term cost of the program, $379 billion, on the budget all at once, even though effectively no money was spent on it that year… But in June 2023, the Supreme Court tossed the debt-cancellation program, meaning most of that money wouldn’t actually be spent. Rather than update last year’s deficit numbers, though, the Treasury recorded the changes as a $333 billion spending cut in August 2023.

We do not use the Mickey Mouse epithet lightly, but surely booking the next 50 years of student loan repayments during the single month of August 2023 amounts to exactly that. Still, the “Joe Biden” thing behind the teleprompter has the audacity to keep making the hideous claim that he has been slashing the federal deficit!

Actually, Biden is surrounded by the usual Keynesian suspects when it comes to fiscal policy, but even they did not historically recommend a dramatic increase in the deficit at a time of so-called full employment, when the official unemployment rate is just 3.8% and the economy is still straining under severe labor shortages. Indeed, the $2.0 trillion cash deficit for FY 2023 amounted to 7.5% of GDP — a level that was supposed to happen only at the very dark bottom of an unusually bad recession.

Needless to say, these dismal fiscal figures are just one more indictment of the baleful rule of Washington’s Uniparty. When they get done funding the nation’s $1.3 trillion Warfare State, ring-fencing $4.2 trillion per year of Social Security, Medicare and other sacrosanct entitlements, filling up the pork barrels of domestic discretionary spending to the brim, warding off any and all ideas about raising revenues and facing the music on the exploding cost of net interest on the public debt, you get a four-year $9 trillion warm-up for an even greater tsunami of red ink in the years just ahead.

Indeed, that’s now baked into the cake. The world is on the verge of breaking out into a hot war in the Middle East, and Ukraine is hanging by a thread, both owing to the neocon perfidy of the last several decades. So the $1.3 trillion comprehensive national security budget (Department of Defense, International security assistance and operations and Veterans) is going nowhere except up. Way up.

Likewise, Donald Trump has a virtual lock on the Republican nomination even if he ends up behind bars before November 2024. So, his new GOP 11th commandment will prevail. Namely, do not touch Social Security or Medicare, even though they will cost $34 trillion over the next decade, their trust funds will be insolvent by the early 2030s and trillions of those benefits represent pure transfer payments, not a return on payroll taxes contributed by beneficiaries over their working lifetimes.

As to the “pork” in the small (less than 15%) part of the budget called “non-defense discretionary spending,” the Washington GOP has already signed its confession papers. Between FY 2017 (Obama’s last budget) and FY 2021 (Trump’s final budget), this fiscal component soared from $610 billion to $895 billion. That’s a 47% gain at a time when the GOP controlled the veto-pen in the White House and one or both houses of Congress.

And then you get to the real skunk in the woodpile — namely, the soaring cost of debt service owing to the long-delayed but not nearly finished normalization of interest rates.

If there were ever any doubt that Washington was wandering about in financial la-la land thanks to the Fed’s drastic suppression of interest rates, the data for the weighted average cost of debt service should resolve the matter.

As it happened, on the eve of FY 2020 and the aforementioned $9 trillion public debt explosion that followed, the federal debt held by the public had already more than tripled, from $5 trillion in late 2007 to nearly $17 trillion at the end of FY 2019. Owing to the Fed’s heavy foot on interest rates, however, the weighted average interest rate on the federal debt was just 2.5% on September 30, 2019.

Then came the $9 trillion borrowing explosion, but mirabile dictu (wonderful to relate), the cost of servicing the federal debt just kept on sinking. By early March 2022, when the Fed finally pivoted to inflation fighting, the weighted average interest rate reached just 1.56%!

That’s right. Washington was in the midst of the greatest spending and borrowing frenzy in recorded history, but thanks to the Fed, the average yield on the public debt had declined by 40%.

Reality has interposed itself painfully ever since. By the end of August 2023, the weighted carry cost was up to 2.92%. Accordingly, the annualized run rate of federal interest expense soared from $578 billion in Q3 2019 to $910 billion in Q2 2023. That’s a 57% gain, but it is barely a warm-up for what’s coming down the pike.

Virtually every maturity of Treasury paper from 30-day bills to 30-year bonds is currently trading at +/- 5.0%, meaning that when current outstandings roll over, debt service will rise by a further $500 billion per year, even before new trillions are added to the total of Uncle Sam’s debt load.

And besides that, 5% is surely not the ultimate limit on Treasury yields. Given runaway public borrowing and the nation’s historically low savings rate, the average yield on the public debt is likely heading even higher. And there won’t be any rescue from the Fed this time, either, because inflation isn’t collapsing, meaning that a new cycle of “easy money” has only faded further down the horizon.

In this context, the core economic policy platform of the Washington GOP is a tale straight from fantasyland. That is to say, even as they want even more for the Warfare State and are loudly taking a powder on the Welfare State, they still feel compelled to demand that the Trump tax cuts be permanently extended when they expire in 2025.

That would cost a cool $3.5 trillion in foregone revenue over the next decade, and that’s on top of the $25 trillion of new debt built in under current policy for the 10-year budget window ahead.

In short, the Uniparty has seconded the nation’s finances to a fiscal doomsday machine that is literally unstoppable.

*  *  *

Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the trajectory of this trend in motion. The best you can do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. Most people have no idea what really happens when a currency collapses, let alone how to prepare… How will you protect your savings in the event of a currency crisis? This just-released video will show you exactly how. Click here to watch it now.

Tyler Durden Wed, 11/22/2023 - 07:30
Published:11/22/2023 6:40:44 AM
[Markets] US Has Highest-Ever Childhood Vaccine Exemption Rate In History US Has Highest-Ever Childhood Vaccine Exemption Rate In History

Authored by Marina Zhang via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours)

The United States now faces its highest-ever childhood vaccine exemption rate in history, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published on Nov. 10.

A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle on March 20, 2019. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

Before the pandemic, the United States had maintained nearly 95 percent nationwide vaccination coverage for 10 years.

Yet between 2020 and 2021, vaccine coverage in kindergarten-aged children fell to 94 percent; between 2021 and 2022, it dropped to 93 percent.

It is not clear whether this reflects a true increase in opposition to vaccination, or if parents are opting for nonmedical [vaccine] exemptions because of barriers to vaccination or out of convenience,” the report authors concluded.

“Whether because of an increase in hesitancy or barriers to vaccination, the COVID-19 pandemic affected childhood routine vaccination,” they continued.

Post-COVID Skepticism Spilling Into Vaccine Skepticism

Dr. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, was concerned that people's skepticism toward the current COVID-19 vaccines may have also affected their attitude toward conventional vaccines, leading to the decline in CDC-recommended and state-required vaccinations, as recently reported by the CDC.

He suggested that the CDC's initial delayed recognition of myocarditis as a COVID vaccine side effect in adolescents and young adults, coupled with the agency's encouragement to vaccinate, as one example of what may be contributing to people's distrust.

I think those [vaccination] recommendations were well-intentioned,” he said, but the slow acknowledgment of side effects may have left some people with a perception that the CDC was “not completely forthcoming.

Pediatrician Dr. Mark Barrett said that the current trend is likely caused by people distrusting recommendations from the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and even their doctors.

“I feel parents are doing their own research,” he wrote to The Epoch Times via email.

Pediatrician Dr. Derek Husmann said that children having the lowest risk of severe COVID-19 gave parents and pediatricians a unique perspective, making them question the broad need for vaccines.

“The pediatricians’ perspective is pretty significantly different—in reference to the COVID pandemic—than a physician who takes care of adults,” Dr. Husmann said, “because the pediatric population was at essentially zero risk of death or serious complications from COVID infection.

According to the CDC website dashboard, deaths from COVID-19 make up about 3 percent of all deaths, but the percentage is even smaller in children.

“There was a perceived conflict between the information that COVID was less serious in children, yet the vaccine was recommended for them. This was never satisfactorily explained or resolved,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy in the Infectious Disease Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, wrote to The Epoch Times.

California pediatrician Dr. Samara Cardenas said that the public slowly came to realize the COVID-19 vaccines were not safe nor effective as initially promised, and this may have also prompted parents to question the need for routine vaccinations.

“[In California], if you’re not vaccinated, they won’t even take a medical exemption. So I have quite a few patients asking about homeschooling rather than vaccinating their children,” she said.

“There has been this incredible increase in homeschooling since the COVID pandemic, and so that may have falsely inflated the vaccine rates in the [report],” added Dr. Husmann, who is based in rural Texas.

Conventional Vaccines vs. COVID-19 Vaccines

Some doctors are now troubled by the risks posed by declining rates of conventional vaccinations and the potential for increased outbreaks due to vaccine-preventable diseases like polio.

Dr. Meissner said, "At this time, it is important for parents to consider a distinction between the benefits versus risks of the pediatric COVID vaccines and other childhood vaccines that have successfully controlled many infectious diseases."

Dr. Schaffner agreed, adding that children are encouraged to get immunized against COVID-19 and that more public health work is needed to encourage conventional vaccine takeup.

“Measles, polio, diphtheria, for example, are vague concepts to [parents]. And so, these diseases are not known, therefore not respected or even feared, leading to questions about the vaccine,” Dr. Schaffner said.

“I tell current medical students that before we had measles vaccine available in the United States, back in the 1960s, there were 400 to 500 children that died annually in the United States, secondary to measles and its complications,” he explained. “Their jaws drop. They have no idea.”

However, some doctors have become more cautionary about childhood vaccine recommendations, fearing denial and the potential coverup of side effects.

“There is a potential public health concern when children remain fully unvaccinated for all traditional childhood vaccines,” pediatrician Dr. Renata Moon, who previously worked as a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, wrote to The Epoch Times. “[But] the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘what safety data do we have for each childhood vaccine?’

“Many parents who used to follow the traditional childhood vaccination schedule have stepped back from vaccinating their children altogether. They have lost trust in recommendations from public health agencies and are taking a ‘safer to wait’ approach,” she added.

Dr. Cardenas echoed Dr. Moon with a similar statement. “I used to be 100 percent vaccinated,” she said, adding that the COVID era has made her realize she needs to do more research, and has similarly taken the safer-to-wait approach for now.

Dr. Husmann added that immunization does not guarantee a complete elimination of outbreaks, explaining that there have been measles outbreaks among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

In 2003, a measles outbreak occurred in a highly vaccinated boarding school in Pennsylvania. The school had a vaccination rate of 95 percent. Out of nine laboratory-confirmed cases of measles, only two were unvaccinated.

Other cases demonstrate the opposing scenario. In December 2022, a measles outbreak occurred in central Ohio. The jurisdiction estimated an immunization rate of 80 percent to 90 percent, yet of the 73 children infected, most (67) were unvaccinated.

The centuries-long recommendation to vaccinate stems from the notion that there is no trade-off for immunity against infectious disease. However, Drs. Husmann and Cardenas argue that childhood vaccines may also present long-term risks that are not well-known and rarely discussed.

Safety of Childhood Vaccines Scrutinized

Recently, childhood vaccines have faced renewed scrutiny. These include the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP) vaccines for their links to autism and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for its links to encephalitis.

Yet long-term vaccine safety data and vaccine studies are lacking, and this applies to all vaccines on the market.

For instance, the Haemophilus influenzae B vaccine (Hib), a four-dose series approved for infants and children aged 2 months to 5 years, had safety monitoring for only 30 days post-vaccination. The package insert for Infanrix, a DTaP vaccine, states that adverse reactions were monitored for only four days after vaccination.

In 2013, the National Vaccine Program Office commissioned the former Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee, now the National Academy of Medicine, to reexamine the evidence supporting safety claims for the CDC's childhood vaccine schedule.

The committee found that "few studies have comprehensively assessed the association between the entire immunization schedule or variation in the overall schedule” and health outcomes, and "no study has directly examined health outcomes" the way the committee was charged to address.

The committee further stated that no studies have been conducted “to determine the long-term effects of the cumulative number of vaccines or other aspects of the immunization schedule.”

While no long-term randomized, controlled trials exist for any vaccines, extensive research has compared vaccinated populations to unvaccinated. Randomized placebo-controlled trials are considered the gold standard in testing treatments.

A 2017 pilot study led by professor Anthony Mawson at Jackson State University compared vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated children aged between 6 and 12.

The researchers found that while fully and partially vaccinated children had significantly fewer cases of chickenpox and pertussis, they had 30 times greater odds of being diagnosed with allergic rhinitis and around four times greater odds of having allergies, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. They also had about five times the odds of having a learning disability and almost four times the odds of having a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Mr. Mawson’s second study compared children who were unvaccinated, vaccinated, and vaccinated with preterm birth, which is a risk factor for neurodevelopmental deficits. The vaccinated children had almost thrice the odds of neurodevelopmental disorders, while preterm and vaccinated children had 14.5 greater odds of neurodevelopmental disorders than unvaccinated.

A 2020 study led by Brian Hooker, professor emeritus of biology at Simpson University, compared data of vaccinated and unvaccinated children collected from three different medical practices. The authors found that vaccinated children had nearly 4.5 greater odds of asthma and over twice the odds of developmental delays and ear infections.

Since these studies are not randomized and controlled, they do not indicate a causal relationship but suggest potential health concerns.

The study findings suggest that children may be trading long-term health for infectious disease immunity, Dr. Husmann said.

“We think that we’re making a choice between immunization and maybe some short-term adverse reactions like pain, swelling, fever, fussiness, or not feeling well for a few days,” Dr. Husman said, “but we are also giving your child a significantly increased risk of a whole host of chronic health conditions, including, autism, seizures, and asthma.

“You really don’t know if it’s worth it to try to prevent an incredibly rare infectious disease and put your child or yourself at risk of a chronic illness.”

An Opportunity for Safer Vaccines

While Dr. Husmann questions the safety of vaccines, he is keeping an open mind about adequately tested and safe vaccines in the future.

“I do not [want my patients to be] necessarily anti-vaccine; what I want them to be is vaccine freedom-friendly … I want my patients to be open and accepting of any vaccine that is truly safe and effective.”

Similarly, Dr. Cardenas agreed that it is a good thing that parents are proactively learning about these medications.

“Everybody should get instructed and educated on what is happening when you are being injected or even when you’re getting medicines. You should ask your doctor, what is this for? What are the side effects? I think the public is beginning to do that, and I think it is very good.”

Tyler Durden Sun, 11/19/2023 - 23:55
Published:11/19/2023 11:13:51 PM
[] We Got a Tough Guy Here: Levar Burton Threatens Moms for Liberty at National Book Awards Published:11/17/2023 3:39:52 PM
[Markets] Exposing Our Fed-Driven Bubble Economy Exposing Our Fed-Driven Bubble Economy

Authored by David Gordon via the Mises Institute,

David Stockman served for a short while as budget director during Ronald Reagan’s first term as president, but he soon resigned owing to Reagan’s refusal to cut government spending. He has since that time worked as a private investment adviser, at which difficult profession he has been highly successful, and he has written a number of books, among which the monumental Great Deformation (Public Affairs Press, 2013), is the most notable. The Great Money Bubble contains many vital lessons about money and macroeconomics, and in what follows I’ll discuss a few of these. But I’m not able to assess one part of the book.

Stockman identifies a common failing in Keynesian economics and in the monetarism of Milton Friedman and his disciple Ben Bernanke, the most popular alternative to Keynesian economics among mainstream economists. According to both of these doctrines, it is necessary to raise aggregate demand to boost employment during a depression, with government spending, according to Keynes, and with monetary expansion, according to Friedman. Stockman denies the need for the government to manage, holding that the free market can take care of itself. He says:

As a congressman from Michigan in the late 1970s. . . . I didn’t think it was the role of politicians to second-guess economic data . . . that resulted from the interactions of millions of workers, employers, entrepreneurs, savers, investors, and speculators on the free market. Decades later, I still don’t. Indeed, the idea that market-driven GDP should find its own natural level without a heavy-handed assist from the government was then and remains today the opposite of the reigning orthodoxy. Rather than vibrant, free, productive capitalism, that orthodoxy sees the U.S. economy as a self-contained, hermetically sealed system that is always badly malfunctioning and forever falling short of its potential, thereby requiring constant external stimulus from Washington via its fiscal and central banking branches. . . . That wasn’t remotely true even a half century ago when the U.S. economy was more inward looking, but it’s utterly preposterous today. That’s because the domestic U.S. economy is self-evidently wide open to the overpowering influences of global trade, capital flows, and the relative labor and production costs everywhere on the planet, all at once.

One way in which critics of the free market argue for the need for government intervention is to challenge the argument that the market will adjust to a decrease in demand by lowering wages, thus staving off unemployment. The critics allege that wages are “sticky” downward (i.e., that employers are reluctant to lower them and employees to accept them). But, Stockman says, this is for the most part false. “The only shred of truth in the ‘sticky’ wages and price argument pertains to wage rates set by quasi-monopoly unions in the heavy industrial sectors such as steel, autos, chemicals, and textiles during the decades immediately after World War II.”

Stockman makes two claims in the passages just quoted which need to be distinguished. One is that the free market doesn’t require government management to deal with economic downturns. The other is that government intervention to secure a desired level of employment will fail because the US economy (and presumably other economies as well) isn’t isolated in the way that would be required for the intervention to succeed. The claims are different because the first could be false while the second is true. That is, it is possible that the free market is incapable of dealing with prolonged unemployment but that the government cannot remedy this. This would be rather like suffering from an incurable illness, a sad but not impossible state of affairs. Fortunately, the free market can indeed cope with unemployment.

But what about the Great Depression? Doesn’t the collapse of the banking system in the dark years between 1929 and 1933 show that the government needs to stimulate the economy during especially bad times? A simple response to this contention is that a central bank system controlled by the government, as was already in place in 1929, would not exist in a free market. Stockman goes beyond this response by challenging the customary account directly: contrary to Milton Friedman, there was nothing amiss in the alleged “collapse” of the banking system at all. Stockman explains, in his typically forthright way:

In summary, the “deflation” that Friedman decried was not caused by Fed actions from 1929 to 1933. Instead, it represented the necessary work of a free market healing itself. The shrinkage of the bloated banking system and overextended credit, which essentially peaked in 1929, was really nothing more than a belated and old-fashioned purge of monetary inflation that had originated in the Great War, a process that the world at that time well understood and had experienced following previous conflicts dating back centuries. In short, the years 1929 to 1933 did not prove that capitalism had some kind of deflationary death wish or that gold-backed money inherently causes economic contraction, such that it can only be cured by central bankers astutely managing a fiat money supply.

Stockman is not yet finished. He also maintains that by abandoning sound money, Franklin Roosevelt spoiled the natural process of market healing:

But by then, the “natural” part of the Great Depression—the purge of World War I and roaring ’20s excesses—was over. In fact, industrial production bottomed in the second quarter of 1932 and began a normal rebound thereafter, one that finally brought national output back to its 1929 precrash level by the second quarter of 1935.

For Stockman, inflationary expansion is a supreme economic evil, one that was widely recognized “until the official adoption of 2 percent inflation targeting in 2012, though informally followed during the Bernanke-Greenspan years in the decade prior.” Before that, he says, “all inflation—of goods, services, and assets—was viewed as bad.”

Stockman argues that unsustainable asset inflation has occurred in many prominent companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Walmart, and he suggests that investments in them should be liquidated. This is the part of the book that I mentioned earlier that I’m unable to assess. Stockman is right that an inflationary boom cannot be sustained forever, but I have no idea when it will end or how investors should cope with asset inflation. I would think it a good idea for investors to pay heed to Stockman, but I cannot go beyond that. I can say with confidence that Stockman has made a devastating case against the macroeconomics of Keynes and Friedman.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/16/2023 - 07:20
Published:11/16/2023 6:33:14 AM
[Entertainment] Some books are meant to be reread. Here are 22 I would turn to again. Why bother with books that are new — or new to you? There’s so much value — and joy — in returning to old favorites. Published:11/16/2023 5:13:07 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:11/15/2023 7:03:38 AM
[Markets] Europe Is Burning Europe Is Burning

Authored by Joel Kotkin via The American Mind,

The only lessons the Old World offers to America these days are cautionary.

Ever since the earliest days of the Republic, American intellectuals, artists, and statesmen looked to Europe for models. Conservatives felt attracted to the continent’s sense of continuity and tradition, and as the base for Christianity. More recently, progressives saw in European social democracy and globalist pacifism a role model to be embraced.

Yet today Europe seems not much of a model for much of anything outside of museums, charming cathedral towns, and terrific food. The notion that Europe represents the future, nurtured by the likes of Mitterrand advisor Jacques Attali, Jeremy Rifkind’s utopian European Dream, and the American journalist T.R. Reid’s 2005 The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy, seem utterly delusional.

A common theme in the early years of the millennium was that Europe was on the verge of global resurgence while America was in decline. Europe’s eventual stagnation, as many conservatives point out, can be in part traced to an ever expanding high-tax welfare state that generally absorbs roughly ten more percentage points of GDP than in the U.S. But this is not the only explanation. Some of the moderately better off European economies, like Denmark and Sweden, are welfare states but manage to outperform the rest.

The real problem is civilizational. Europeans are unwilling to preserve their industrial base and control their borders, leaving the continent increasingly weak and largely defenseless. The leaderless American empire may be creaking, but Europe is in worse shape, hemmed in by dismal demographics, high taxes, suffocating regulation, and an entrenched bureaucracy that makes California seem like a libertarian paradise.

Europe’s decline can be seen in its rapidly shrinking portion of the global economy. It is hard to find any indicator that the continent is gaining global market share as money continues to pour into the U.S. For the last 15 years, European wages have fallen while those in the U.S. have continued to rise; the eurozone economy grew about six percent, measured in dollars, compared with 82 percent for the U.S., according to International Monetary Fund data.

European quality of life is dropping, its industrial base eroding, and there seems little promise of future improvement. Europe now lags in virtually every major advanced industry, from software and space to automobiles. Of the top 50 tech firms only three are located in Europe; the list is dominated largely by the United States with China second. Foreign investment has plummeted and by 2022 accounted for $100 billion less than the U.S.

Much of this decline is self-inflicted, which suggests some valuable lessons for us. A critical problem lies in E.U. climate policy, which has tended to be more extreme, and widely implemented, than in a more divided, decentralized United States. These policies are already eroding food production and sparking higher prices. Developing nations need more food production from exporters, but by Europe’s banning or restricting critical fertilizers, or the enforced culling of herds, they will have to get it elsewhere. This comes at a time when Europe’s old African and South American colonies are losing interest in ties with France and Britain and increasingly look elsewhere, notably China and Russia, for capital, goods, and natural resource development.

Climate catastrophism has also cripped Europe’s energy supply. To meet utopian “net zero” standards, Europe seems, as one observer put it recently, on course for “energy suicide.” The effect of the Ukrainian war has already affected European natural gas prices, but the current conflict is adding more pain. The U.S. is now the world’s biggest liquid natural gas (LNG) exporter while green policies leave Europe ever more exposed. Since October 6, prices at the benchmark TTF gas hub in Holland have soared, selling for about $51 per million Btu. That same quantity of gas at Henry Hub in Louisiana sells for about $2.90. Where will Europe have to turn for future gas supplies? Some Europeans may prefer kowtowing to Qatar, the ally of Iran and Hamas, then bending down to unruly Texans.

The great bastion of European competence, Germany, is clearly unraveling. Germany’s strategy of dependence on U.S. military, Russian energy, and Chinese customers has blown up in their faces, as the U.S. faces defense overstretch, Russian gas heads to China and other more dynamic markets, and the Chinese, once seen as ideal customers for high-end German engineered products, are becoming both reluctant customers and stronger competitors. Germany is now on the verge of losing much of its industrial base, notably in chemicals and autos, including its vaunted mittlestand, in large part due to high energy prices and a diminishing workforce.

German industry must now cope with tech products and electric vehicles built in the world’s leading GHG producer. The power of technology to transform an economy—or leave it behind—also is apparent when comparing the trajectories of Germany and the U.S. over the past 15 years. During that period, the U.S. economy, driven by a boom in Silicon Valley, expanded by 76 percent to $25.5 trillion. Germany’s economy grew by 19 percent to $4.1 trillion. In dollar terms, the U.S. added the equivalent of nearly three Germanys to its economy over that period.

Yet perhaps even more troubling may prove Europe’s experience with immigration. Europe, like the U.S., is swamped with refugees, mainly from destitute countries. Opposition to this unregulated tide—what Le Figaro calls “Le menace islamiste”—is widely dismissed as racist and even criminal. Even before the outbreaks of pro-Hamas sentiment roiled Paris this month, violent protests already had become common and increasingly hostile to the secular state. It is now clear that some of these newcomers have brought with them a strain of Islamic fundamentalism and antisemitism that is far more threatening than anything experienced here.

In the short run, opposition to Israel from the Left, from neo-Marxists to Greens, seems likely to boost the political power of Islamism across Europe, notably in France, while further weakening national as well as European institutions. Across the continent, one sees the growth of ghettos that now contain a permanent underclass who embrace lawless nihilism, compounded by Islamist ideology. European cities were once largely safe and clean but are now dirty and graffiti-scarred, although still less lethally dangerous than their American counterparts. Some cities, like Marseilles, are now better known for random crime and decay than for their Mediterranean charm.

To a long-civilized people used to a degree of civility and respect for law, scenes of French off-duty cops being assaulted are an affront. The increased dominance of large cities by often violent, perennially angry youths, largely from Muslim countries, has the whole continent on edge. Even Sweden, long the Valhalla of progressive fantasies, has been forced to call out the army to tamp down violence in immigrant-dominated areas, where native Swedes are essentially barred.

The opposition to unrestrained immigration has terrible implications for the center-left, whose multicultural ideology in unraveling. The postwar dream that immigrants would relieve the continent of its labor shortages while gradually assimilating to local culture has not panned out. Immigrant workers either lack the skills or cannot penetrate the continent’s often difficult regulatory environment. Even famously liberal countries like Denmark are mandating integration, and openly seek to break up immigrant-dominated clusters by bulldozing social housing.

Immigration is also sparking a powerful right-wing resurgence. Victor Orban, the bete noire of progressive Europe, now has company in the form of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and perhaps a future President Marine Le Pen. It has also nurtured an upsurge of far-right sentiment in Germany, where refugee populations are soaring.

The rise of the nationalist Right is widely denounced in the media, but it largely represents less  expansive chauvinism than a last desperate attempt to restore a semblance of traditional values, notably belief in the past and religion. As the Guardian noted five years ago, a majority of young adults in 12 European countries have no faith; one scholar noted that many young Europeans “will have been baptized and then never darken the door of a church again. Cultural religious identities just aren’t being passed on from parents to children. It just washes straight off them.” According to Pew, for example, Christianity will be the minority faith across Britain and in some other European countries by 2050.

Far more than the U.S., Europe is ill-suited for diversity, as these countries are closely tied to their indigenous population and tradition. The “melting pot,” also under assault in the U.S, never really worked in Europe since the growth of Middle Eastern Muslim immigration. And with extraordinarily low birthrates among indigenous Europeans, these unintegrated populations—the drivers of the current upsurge in antisemitism—will surely grow as a percentage of the population.

If there’s hope it lies in resurgent pushback, both on climate policies in many countries and on unrestricted immigration, both in Germany and on the eastern frontier of the E.U.

Given the struggles in Europe with the consequences of contemporary progressivism, Americans should think twice about adopting their current “solutions.” Without some radical readjustment, Europeans face a dismal future, one that we should not want to replicate on this side of the Atlantic.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

Tyler Durden Wed, 11/15/2023 - 05:15
Published:11/15/2023 4:39:16 AM
[Markets] Speculator Or Investor? What’s The Difference? Speculator Or Investor? What’s The Difference?

Authored by Lance Roberts via,

Are you an “investor” or a “speculator?” 

Over the last month, we have discussed the “false market narratives” that push investors to make portfolio mistakes. Such is why we previously discussed the “Investing Rules” needed to navigate volatile markets.

This past week, on the #RealInvestmentShow, we discussed the difference between being an investor, like Warren Buffett, and a speculator, which is both you and I.

In today’s market, the majority of investors are simply chasing performance. However, why would you NOT expect this to happen when financial advisers, the mainstream media, and Wall Street continually press the idea that investors “must beat” some random benchmark index from one year to the next?

But this defines the difference between being a “speculator” or an “investor?” 

Graham And Carret

If you were playing a hand of poker and were dealt a “pair of deuces,” would you push all your chips to the center of the table?

Of course not.

The reason is you intuitively understand the other factors “at play.” Even a cursory understanding of the game of poker suggests other players at the table are probably holding better hands, which will rapidly reduce your wealth.

More importantly, just like a game of poker, as individuals buying a few company shares, we have ZERO control over how that company manages its finances, makes decisions, or conducts its business. As such, we are “betting” on an unknowable future outcome with only a basic understanding of the risks involved.

Therefore, as individuals, we are “speculators” in the financial markets, and as such, we must focus on the management of the risks to allow us to “stay in the game long enough” to “win.”

“Philip Carret, who wrote The Art of Speculation (1930), believed “motive” was the test for determining the difference between investment and speculation. Carret connected the investor to the economics of the business and the speculator to price. ‘Speculation,’ wrote Carret, ‘may be defined as the purchase or sale of securities or commodities in expectation of profiting by fluctuations in their prices.’”Robert Hagstrom, CFA

Chasing markets is the purest form of speculation. It is simply a bet on prices going higher rather than determining if the price being paid for those assets is selling at a discount to fair value.

Benjamin Graham and David Dodd attempted a precise definition of investing and speculation in their seminal work Security Analysis (1934).

An investment operation is one which, upon thorough analysis, promises safety of principal and a satisfactory return. Operations not meeting these requirements are speculative.”

There is also an essential passage in Graham’s The Intelligent Investor:

“The distinction between investment and speculation in common stocks has always been a useful one and its disappearance is a cause for concern. We have often said that Wall Street as an institution would be well advised to reinstate this distinction and to emphasize it in all its dealings with the public. Otherwise the stock exchanges may some day be blamed for heavy speculative losses, which those who suffered them had not been properly warned against.”

Indeed, in today’s world of chasing markets from one year to the next, the meaning of being an investor has been lost. However, the following ten guidelines from legends of our time will hopefully get you back on track and turn you from being a speculator to a successful investor.

10-Investing Guidelines From Legendary Investors

1) Jeffrey Gundlach, DoubleLine

“The trick is to take risks and be paid for taking those risks, but to take a diversified basket of risks in a portfolio.”

This is a common theme that you will see throughout this post. Great investors focus on “risk management” because “risk” is not a function of how much money you will make but how much you will lose when you are wrong. As a speculator, you can only play if you have capital.

Be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. One of the best times to invest is when uncertainty and fear are the highest.

2) Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates

“The biggest mistake investors make is to believe that what happened in the recent past is likely to persist. They assume that something that was a good investment in the recent past is still a good investment. Typically, high past returns simply imply that an asset has become more expensive and is a poorer, not better, investment.”

Nothing good or bad goes on forever. The mistake that investors repeatedly make is thinking, “This time is different.” The reality is that it will change despite whatever mainstream narrative is permeating headlines. The rule that never changes is that “what goes up must and will come down, and vice versa.”

Wall Street wants you to be fully invested “all the time” because that is how they generate fees. However, as an investor, it is crucially important to remember that “price is what you pay, and value is what you get.” 

Speculators don’t care about value. Investors do.

3) Seth Klarman, Baupost

“Most investors are primarily oriented toward return, how much they can make and pay little attention to risk, how much they can lose.”

The most significant risk in investing is investor behavior driven by cognitive biases. “Greed and fear” dominate the investment cycle of investors, ultimately leading to “buying high and selling low.”

4) Jeremy Grantham, GMO

“You don’t get rewarded for taking risk; you get rewarded for buying cheap assets. And if the assets you bought got pushed up in price simply because they were risky, then you are not going to be rewarded for taking a risk; you are going to be punished for it.”

Successful investors avoid “risk” at all costs, even if it means underperforming in the short termThe reason is that while the media and Wall Street have you focused on chasing market returns in the short term, ultimately, the excess “risk” built into your portfolio will lead to abysmal long-term returns. Like Wyle E. Coyote, chasing financial markets will eventually lead you over the cliff’s edge.

5) Jesse Livermore, Speculator

“The speculator’s deadly enemies are: ignorance, greed, fear and hope. All the statute books in the world and all the rule books on all the Exchanges of the earth cannot eliminate these from the human animal….”

Allowing emotions to rule your investment strategy is, and always has been, a recipe for disaster. All great investors follow a strict discipline, process, and risk management diet. The emotional mistakes show up in the returns of individual portfolios over time. (Source: Dalbar)

6) Howard Marks, Oaktree Capital Management

“Rule No. 1: Most things will prove to be cyclical.

Rule No. 2: Some of the greatest opportunities for gain and loss come when other people forget Rule No. 1.”

As with Ray Dalio, realizing nothing lasts forever is critical to long-term investing. To “buy low,” one must first “sell high.” Understanding that all things are cyclical suggests that investments become more prone to declines after long price increases.

7) James Montier, GMO

“There is a simple, although not easy alternative [to forecasting]… Buy when an asset is cheap, and sell when an asset gets expensive…. Valuation is the primary determinant of long-term returns, and the closest thing we have to a law of gravity in finance.”

“Cheap” is when an asset sells for less than its intrinsic value. “Cheap” is not a low price per share. When a stock has a very low price, it is usually priced there for a reason. However, a very high-priced stock CAN be cheap. Price per share is only part of the valuation determination, not the measure of value itself.

8) George Soros, Soros Capital Management

“It’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.”

Regarding risk management, being right and making money is great when markets are rising. However, rising markets tend to mask investment risk that is quickly revealed during market declines. If you fail to manage the risk in your portfolio and give up all of your previous gains and then some, you lose the investment game.

9) Jason Zweig, Wall Street Journal

“Regression to the mean is the most powerful law in financial physics: Periods of above-average performance are inevitably followed by below-average returns, and bad times inevitably set the stage for surprisingly good performance.”

The chart below shows the 3-year average of annual inflation-adjusted returns of the S&P 500 to 1900. The power of regression is seen. Historically, when returns exceeded 10%, it was not long before they fell to 10% below the long-term mean. Those reversions were devastating to investor’s capital.

10) Howard Marks, Oaktree Capital Management

“The biggest investing errors come not from factors that are informational or analytical, but from those that are psychological.”

The biggest driver of long-term investment returns is the minimization of psychological investment mistakes.

Baron Rothschild once said, “Buy when there is blood in the streets.” This means that when investors are “panic selling,” you want to be the one they sell to at deeply discounted prices. Howard Marks expressed the same sentiment: “The absolute best buying opportunities come when asset holders are forced to sell.”


As an investor, it is simply your job to step away from your “emotions” and look objectively at the market around you. Is it currently dominated by “greed” or “fear?” Your long-term returns will depend significantly on how you answer that question and manage the inherent risk.

“The investor’s chief problem – and even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” – Benjamin Graham

As I stated at the beginning of this message, “Market Timing” is ineffective in managing your money. However, as you will note, every great investor throughout history has had one core philosophy in common: the management of the inherent risk of investing to conserve and preserve investment capital.

“If you run out of chips, you are out of the game.”

Tyler Durden Tue, 11/14/2023 - 20:25
Published:11/14/2023 7:50:34 PM
[] Singer 'Pink' Cries About the 'Banned Books' in Florida, Even Though NONE of Them Are Banned Published:11/14/2023 5:12:00 PM
[Entertainment] The 10 best mystery novels of 2023 Richard Osman, Brendan Slocumb and Elly Griffiths are among the authors whose books kept us happily guessing whodunnit this year. Published:11/14/2023 6:07:21 AM
[Entertainment] The 10 best graphic novels of 2023 A woman tries to reconnect with her lost family, Roz Chast explores the kingdom of dreams and more in these remarkable books. Published:11/13/2023 11:37:40 AM
[Markets] What It Feels Like To Survive An IED Blast What It Feels Like To Survive An IED Blast

Authored John J. Waters via, (emphasis ours)

The following is an excerpt from River City One: A Novel (Knox Press; November 7, 2023).

I’m laughing now because I can still see him. He’s got his helmet on, the chinstrap dangling and tobacco spit coming off his lip. I tell you the right side of his face was blown up like a puffer fish. He kept himself grungy, so unclean that you’d think not even the bad guys would touch him. Maybe that’s why I liked him being nearby, because I thought it would keep me safe or something.

I was walking fourth in line that day and one place ahead of West, who was smack in the middle. “You’re in my world today, Sir—you know the drill.” He was the guy everybody wanted in charge of the patrol, so I did as he said.

We set off single file, like a group of schoolchildren walking across the playground, one right after another. It had rained the night before so the ground was thick with mud. It felt like I was walking through peanut butter, every step sucking at the bottoms of my boots. The point man had the metal detector stuck out in front of him, waving it back and forth like a flashlight in the dark. We only walked where the metal detector allowed us, each man planting his foot into the footprint of the man in front of him and that was how it worked: one footprint at a time, hoping the ground wouldn’t give out from underneath.

I can’t remember what I was thinking about before it happened. The weight of my pack, maybe, how it felt like carrying a limp body on my shoulders, that’s how heavy the gear felt. I wasn’t thinking about fighting. I was uncomfortable but not afraid. “Keep up, Sir. Speed is the name of this game,” was the last thing West said.

We crested the hill and were approaching the plateau.

Halfway to the center, there was a flash of white light, then heat, a wave of fire that burned the hair off the back of my neck. I felt something kick the side of my head and then, all of a sudden, I’m sitting on the ground. I feel the force of the blast on every part of my body, like a punch to the head and ribs at the same time. One second passes. My first thought is, “I’m dead.” Another second passes. I hear rocks and debris, clumps of mud splattering onto the ground around me. The air is reddish brown, a fog, like I’m inside a filthy cloud, picking wet mud out of the inside of my nose and spitting it from my mouth. More seconds pass. My conscious self slams back inside my head and I realize for the first time that I’m alive. I have memory. I remember I was walking, that I’m with my team and we’re near the end but we’ve been hit by something. More time passes. My ears are ringing and I notice that my head hurts, like I haven’t had a cup of coffee for the first time in months, and the ache is enough to make me stretch my forehead and close my eyes. A doctor told me later that the blast from twenty pounds of explosives shattered my eardrum, but for now, I’m just drifting in and out of focus. I hear voices, the sounds coming from a tunnel, inside a shaft. They’re getting louder as the sound expands, but still I’m staring into the fog and seeing nothing until I turn to see what’s going on behind me.

“I’m good!” I scream at the outline of a figure, sweeping my hands over my legs and in front of my face, then my chest. “I’m okay,” I whisper to myself. I made it. I look behind me and finally see the image of someone emerging through the fog. “Hey, buddy. I made it,” I call out. He’s quiet, just sitting there. His back is stiff and perfectly upright, like he’s just chilling, and I think to myself, “Hell of a time to sit around, isn’t it?” He’s holding something in his hands—a helmet turned upside down like a bowl with a bootlace hanging out of it, and it’s odd. I push myself to my feet so that I can stand above him and then I understand. West isn’t sitting. His upper body is planted in the mud, like he’s sprouting up out of the dirt, right up from his ass, and there’s something black and red tucked inside the boot he’s cradling in his helmet. I keep staring at the boot in his hands.

“My mind flips back to something I heard. “Sir, my orthotics don’t fit these issue boots, so I’m gonna need to buy a special pair. Check out this sweet-ass pair of boots.” The only dude in the platoon with boots that looked like Air Jordans. It’s his left foot he’s holding in that helmet, the tan leather is a dark red color, but otherwise in perfect condition. The toe box and throat of the boot are plump. The laces are tied.

He couldn’t have been more than five feet away. I dream about it sometimes at night, reaching for his tourniquet off the front right shoulder of his plate carrier, fingers dancing across the stub of his right thigh before I rip my own tourniquet off my plate carrier, fastening it across what little is left of his left leg, doing what I can to stop the bleeding. I do it right every time in my dream, but it didn’t happen like that. Seconds passed and I didn’t move. More seconds passed and I couldn’t move. Eventually, the lead man in the column is there in front of me, giving the aid I’d plotted out in my head but hadn’t been able to deliver.

Have you ever had that dream where you’re playing a basketball game and you steal the ball? There’s nothing but open court between me and the basket. Not a single defender stands in my way. Sometimes my legs are rubber, other nights they’re wood. He bled out on the helicopter, arteries sliced just as clean as cut grass is what the medic told us, said it was a “victim-operated IED.”

Victim-operated, like West had decided to kill himself when he stepped on the pressure plate, when he stepped into my footprints.

We both stepped on the plate. Only West was able to operate the bomb that killed him.

John J. Waters graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He served in the Marine Corps on deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He lives with his family in Nebraska, where he was born.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/10/2023 - 23:40
Published:11/10/2023 10:55:47 PM
[Markets] Princeton Professor Calls Sex with Animals "Thought-Provoking" Princeton Professor Calls Sex with Animals "Thought-Provoking"

Authored by Eric Lundrum via American Greatness,

On Wednesday, a professor at Princeton University tweeted that he considered the idea of humans having sex with animals to be “thought-provoking.”

According to the Daily Caller, Peter Singer is a bioethics professor at Princeton’s University Center for Human Values.

He also describes himself as an animal rights activist, having written such books as “Why Vegan? Eating Ethically,” and “Animal Liberation Now.”

In the tweet in question, Singer posted a link to a journal article titled “Zoophilia is Morally Permissible,” which he described as “thought-provoking” and said “challenges one of society’s strongest taboos.”

This piece challenges one of society’s strongest taboos and argues for the moral permissibility of some forms of sexual contact between humans and animals. This article offers a controversial perspective that calls for a serious and open discussion on animal ethics and sex ethics,” Singer posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The article, written under the pseudonym “Fira Bensto,” declares that there is “nothing wrong” with humans having sex with animals. It was first published in October in the “Journal of Controversial Ideas.”

“Sex with animals is a powerful social taboo that exposes its practitioners to utmost indignation and stigma,” the article reads in part.

“Zoophilia is one of the few sexual orientations (along with e.g. necrophilia or pedophilia) that remain off­-limits and have been left aside from the sexual liberation movement in the past fifty years. I would like to argue that this is a mistake. There is in fact nothing wrong with having sex with animals: it is not an inherently problematic sexual practice.”

Singer has voiced other bizarre opinions in the past, including arguing that people should avoid eating meat in order to prevent global warming and to encourage a more “humane” treatment of animals.

“The year of the first Earth Day, 1970, was the year I stopped eating meat,” Singer once wrote in the New York Times.

“I didn’t do it to save the Earth, but because I realized that there is no ethical justification for treating animals like machines for converting feed into meat, milk and eggs.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/10/2023 - 10:52
Published:11/10/2023 10:01:48 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:11/8/2023 7:02:48 AM
[Markets] Woke Teachers Trying To Ban Classic Novel From Schools To "Protect Students" Woke Teachers Trying To Ban Classic Novel From Schools To "Protect Students"

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

The Washington Post reports that “progressive” teachers in in Washington state are attempting to get To Kill a Mockingbird, authored by Harper Lee, banned in schools in order to “protect students.”

The report notes that The Mukilteo School District teachers are adamant that the classic novel, published in 1960, is “outdated and harmful.”

Set in the deep South during the Great Depression, the book deals with themes of racial injustice, gender roles, and rape to name a few. While it was awarded the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was voted the best book of the past 125 years by New York Times readers in 2021, it has long been criticised for use of racial slurs by characters, with critics also suggesting the novel relies too heavily on stereotypes.

The report notes that “Students shared their discomfort with the way the 1960 novel about racial injustice portrays Black people,” adding “One Black teen said the book misrepresented him and other African Americans… Another complained the novel did not move her, because it wasn’t written about her — or for her.”

The Post adds that another student “spoke about how a White teen said the n-word aloud while reading from “Mockingbird,” disobeying the teacher’s instructions to skip the slur.”

The teachers filed a motion challenging the place of the novel on the list of approved books, and successfully got it removed from ninth-grade classes.

“To Kill A Mockingbird centers on whiteness,” the teachers wrote, further claiming that “it presents a barrier to understanding and celebrating an authentic Black point of view in Civil Rights era literature and should be removed.”

Commentators note that while the novel might contain ‘difficult’ themes, it has a place in history, adding that it’s not explicit sexual material or gay porn, which has been found and challenged in many schools, prompting leftists to accuse conservatives of pushing ‘book bans’.


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Tyler Durden Mon, 11/06/2023 - 19:40
Published:11/6/2023 6:48:19 PM
[Markets] The Great Reset, Part 1: The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse The Great Reset, Part 1: The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse

Authored by Simon Elmer via,

‘The technologies at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are connected in many ways — in the way they extend digital capabilities; in the way they scale, emerge and embed themselves in our lives; in their combinatorial power; and in their potential to concentrate privilege and challenge existing governance systems.’

- Klaus Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 2018

The Wikipedia entry for the Great Reset, the first part of which is quoted in a blue panel as a corrective to any mention or discussion of this term on YouTube, reads as follows:

The Great Reset Initiative is an economic recovery plan drawn up by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was launched in June 2020, with a video featuring the then Prince of Wales Charles released to mark its launch. The initiative’s stated aim is to facilitate rebuilding from the global COVID-19 crisis in a way that prioritizes sustainable development.

The initiative triggered a range of diverse conspiracy theories spread by American far-right and conservative commentators on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Such theories include that the COVID-19 pandemic was created by a secret group in order to seize control of the global economy, that lockdown restrictions were deliberately designed to induce economic meltdown, or that a global elite was attempting to abolish private property while using COVID-19 to enslave humanity with vaccines.

I am not an American, have never belonged to any far-right organisation, my views are not conservative with either a big or a little ‘c’, and I have published a number of articles arguing against the conspiracy theory of history; but I have also argued that a virus with the infection fatality rate of seasonal influenza never constituted anything approaching a ‘pandemic’; that lockdown restrictions were imposed not to induce the ‘meltdown’ of the economy but, to the contrary, to insulate the real economy from the $12 trillion of quantitative easing created to bail out the collapsing financial sector between September 2019 and April 2022; and that, far from attempting to ‘abolish’ private property, the stakeholder model of capitalism promoted by the World Economic Forum and implemented by its corporate partners under the umbrella of ‘sustainable development goals’ is designed to privatise national assets, natural resources and, ultimately — as Klaus Schwab openly advocates — the existing system of governance in the West.

In this respect, the Wikipedia entry is exemplary of how the accusation of ‘conspiracy theory’, illustrated with extreme or inaccurate or just plain ridiculous examples (‘enslave humanity with vaccines’) to which very few people subscribe, works to discredit and dismiss by association any and more rational criticisms of the global technocracies, international companies and national governments that, in the wake of multiple manufactured ‘crises’, have taken into their control the institutions, procedures and platforms by which a political, scientific and media consensus is reached.

Strange as it may seem, however, this grudging concession of the existence of a global economic plan, its origins in a corporate think-tank and its support by the now Head of State of the UK is an age away from the vociferous denials and mocking denunciations of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’ that were hurled at anyone who dared even to refer to the ‘Great Reset’ in the first year of lockdown. These only gradually diminished when someone pointed out that the term was openly used on the website of the World Economic Forum and had provided the title of the book published by its founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab, in July 2020, barely 4 months since the ‘pandemic’ was declared by the World Health Organization.

And while the accusation of conspiracy theory is still used to silence anyone who attributes anything other than purely beneficent motives to the 1,200 banks, asset managers, information technology conglomerates, media corporations, energy utilities, industrial manufacturers and other companies that, on the same day the ‘pandemic’ was declared, formed themselves into a ‘COVID-19 Action Platform’, the term itself is now more or less openly used by politicians, civil servants, corporate CEOs, marketing executives, digital engineers, journalists, activists and other promoters of what the World Economic Forum calls ‘stakeholder capitalism’.

It’s hard to say which term is more likely to attract censure and censorship when used by those not authorised to do so, but the most accurate description of the Great Reset — and the one most suppressed by those overseeing its implementation — is that it is the historical shift from the economic, political and social paradigm by which the West has been governed for the past forty years into stakeholder capitalism. As the emerging political economy of the West, this seeks to merge the separation of powers between executive, legislature and judiciary on which Western democracy has been founded into a technocratic form of governance that will signal the end of politics, properly speaking, insofar as politics designates — at least in principle — a space of debate, contestation, representation and accountability.

For Schwab, whose latest book is titled Stakeholder Capitalism, this merger represents a revolution from shareholder capitalism, in which individual economies overseen by national governments were run for the benefit of company shareholders, into a global economy governed by the same companies, but ostensibly for the benefit of all, inclusively, sustainably, profitably. The investment in which these multinational companies hold a stake, therefore, is the world itself. ‘A global economy that works for progress, people and the planet’ is the subtitle of Schwab’s book, which like those preceding it doesn’t lack in ambition, hubris and a complete disregard for anything one could call democratic process, accountability or a mandate from those it claims to benefit.

If we were to pick a starting date for this revolution in Western capitalism, whose economic forces lie in the neoliberal revolution of the late 1970s and the rise of finance capitalism as the dominant economic model of the West, it began in September 2019 with the spike in interest rates in the US repurchase agreement market that triggered the latest Global Financial Crisis, and to which the lockdown of the real economies of global capitalism in March 2020 was the concerted response. My two collections of essays, Virtue and Terror and The New Normal, written between March 2020 and October 2021 when the UK was still ruled by emergency powers under lockdown restrictions, sought to describe this first phase of the Great Reset, its legislative frameworks and economic motivations.

My argument in this book is that we have now moved out of the first phase of this revolution, whose trajectory and precedents I described in The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State, and into the second phase. In its sequel, The Great Reset: Biopolitics for Stakeholder Capitalism, I try to articulate what this new phase is and what it means for us. Hopefully — and what hope we have is one of the questions this book tries to address — by understanding this new phase of the Great Reset better, we will be able to offer more resistance to its enforcement than we managed in its first phase, which was met with almost universal credulity, compliance and collaboration.


A lot of things have changed in the UK and across the Western World since, in March 2022, the coronavirus-justified restrictions on our human rights and civil liberties began to be lifted; but that doesn’t mean, as too many opposed to lockdown initially thought, that the Great Reset of Western capitalism for which those restrictions laid the ground is over. Far from it. To emphasise how far from over the Great Reset is, I have referred to this new phase as the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’. This is not only for dramatic effect but also because it gravitates around four apparatuses of biopower, not all of which are new, but which are being implemented simultaneously and are, indeed, dependent on each other for their implementation. Much of this book is about this interdependence, which Schwab refers to as their ‘combinatorial power’.

But what is ‘biopower’?

It’s a term I’ve been using since we were first locked in our homes on the justification of stopping the spread of the coronavirus, and I’ve made many attempts to describe it — which I shall continue to do, no doubt, because it is under its paradigm that the world is now governed and will be for the foreseeable future. The term was first introduced into political discourse by the French philosopher and historian, Michel Foucault, who died in 1984. As Professor of the History of Systems of Thought at the Collège de France, Foucault explored its genesis in his lecture series of 1975-1979. But he first used the term in his published work in The Will to Knowledge, where, in the pages titled ‘Right of Death and Power over Life’, Foucault described the movement from a juridical to a biopolitical paradigm of governance:

Another consequence of this development of bio-power was the growing importance assumed by the action of the norm, at the expense of the juridical system of the law. Law cannot help but be armed, and its arm, par excellence, is death; to those who transgress it, it replies, at least as a last resort, with that absolute menace. The law always refers to the sword. But a power whose task is to take charge of life needs continuous regulatory and corrective mechanisms. Such a power has to qualify, measure, appraise and hierarchise, rather than display itself in its murderous splendour; it does not have to draw the line that separates the enemies of the sovereign from his obedient subjects; it effects distributions around the norm. I do not mean to say that the law fades into the background or that the institutions of justice tend to disappear, but rather that the judicial institution is increasingly incorporated into a continuum of apparatuses (medical, administrative, and so on) whose functions are for the most part regulatory. A normalising society is the historical outcome of a technology of power centred on life.

Foucault viewed the rise of biopower and the technologies of its implementation within a historical context that began around the time of the French Revolution of 1788, and which he associated with the First Republic’s formulation of human rights. It was through these rights that the state first assumed its duty and its right to defend, but also to control, not only the life but also the quality of life of its citizens: our health, our bodies, our needs, our happiness — which have most recently been condensed into the new category of our ‘well-being’. For Foucault, this represented a historical shift from the legislative power by which the sovereign and his government had authority over the life and death of his subjects, and within which laws have a purely punitive function that sets restrictions and obligations which, if broken, have penalties up to and including death, into a biopolitical paradigm, within which the technologies of power qualify, measure, appraise and hierarchise the life of the citizen.

This shift has parallels with what is happening now largely in the West under the banner of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, by which the new apparatuses of biopower and the technologies of which they dispose will qualify our access to what were previously the universal, indivisible and inalienable rights of citizenship; measure our levels of compliance with regulatory and corrective mechanisms that have not been written into any laws; appraise us through a system of surveillance and monitoring justified by ‘crises’ whose very existence it prohibits us from questioning; and, by doing so, will produce a new hierarchy of Social Credit rated according to our levels of obedience not only to the by-now familiar regulations of the Global Biosecurity State but also to new actions of the norm extending into every aspect of our lives.

It’s important to bear in mind that the shift Foucault described is an historical one that happened over several hundred years; but history does not move at an even pace, and at times of social and political revolution — such as the one the West entered in March 2020 — what might otherwise have taken a century to unfold can be implemented in a decade or less. We’ve seen this demonstrated most materially in the succession of industrial revolutions that the People’s Republic of China has undergone in the space of 70 years, but which took the UK, by contrast, 250 years or more. Moreover, the shift from a juridical to a biopolitical paradigm does not happen all at once and definitively. Just as there are emergent social, political, legal and technological forces in any given society, so too there are residual elements formed under earlier economic models that continue to play a role.

Under lockdown, for example, Western capitalism was governed — if we can use this word to describe the vast levels of theft of the future wealth of its populations — under a State of Emergency whose legal precedents can be traced back to the French Revolution. But now, as we have emerged out of lockdown to be plunged into a biopolitical paradigm of governance, that juridical framework of human rights, legislative oversight, judicial appeal, media scrutiny of government and democratic accountability to the electorate — all of which utterly failed to defend what democracy we had — is being replaced — again, not completely but to a further and greatly expanded degree — by the technologies of biopower.

To recall, briefly, the juridical framework by which we were ruled for two years in the UK, and which continues to implement the biopolitical framework within which the apparatuses of biopower are being implemented, since March 2020 the following Acts and Statutes have been made into UK law:

  • The Coronavirus Act 2020, whose 384 pages, 102 provisions and 29 schedules went through just one week of reading and three days of debate in Parliament before, according to a convention agreed to by Her Majesty’s Opposition, being ‘nodded through’ by MPs rather than approved by a democratic vote.

  • 580 coronavirus-justified Statutory Instruments made into law at a rate of 6 per week, 537 of which were only laid before Parliament after they came into force.

  • The Health and Care Act 2022, which furthered the privatisation and outsourcing of the National Health Service while granting the Secretary of State authority over its procurement.

  • The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, which empowers the police to impose conditions on demonstrations, effectively banning protest in the UK. It also permits the police to have access to our private education and health records, and criminalises trespass on privately-owned land.

  • The Judicial Review and Courts Act 2022, which empowered the law courts to suspend and limit challenges by UK citizens to the legality of, and redress for, the decisions and actions of the UK Government and other public bodies.

  • The Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which empowers the Home Secretary to revoke, without prior notification, the British citizenship of anyone who is not born in the UK, who is of dual nationality, who is judged to be a threat to national security, or whose behaviour is deemed to be ‘unacceptable’.

  • The Elections Act 2022, which made voter ID a requirement for voting, setting another precedent for the implementation of a system of Digital Identity in the UK.

  • The Public Order Act 2023, which further increases the powers of police to criminalise protest through extending stop and search powers to allow police to search for and seize objects that may be used in the commission of a protest-related offence; as well as issuing Serious Disruption Prevention Orders.

  • The Online Safety Act 2023, whose title, like that of most UK legislation, means the opposite of the powers it makes into law, and which in this case requires the providers of online platforms to censor and impose restrictions on what we can and cannot say, write, watch, read and hear online in compliance with the dictates of Ofcom, the UK Government and, ultimately, the transnational technocracies in which it has membership. Fines for non-compliance are set at up to £18 million or 10 per cent of global turnover.

  • The Energy Bill 2023, when made into law, will amend existing legislation to empower the Government to regulate and fine those responsible for the supply, transport, storage, safety, performance, consumption and disposal of energy for failing to comply with the restrictions consequent upon the drive to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. This include the installation of smart meters in all homes and businesses by the end of 2025, with non-compliance incurring a fine up to £15,000 or imprisonment for 1 year.

Significantly, the bulk of these Parliamentary Acts, as distinct from the Statutory Instruments under which we lived during lockdown, were made as the regulations for the latter were revoked, with the remainder made into law this year. We haven’t, therefore, moved out of a juridical framework — ‘incorporated’ is the word Foucault uses to describe this transition — and which is not, moreover, limited to the legislation I’ve listed here.

But what I want to focus on in this book is the incorporation of the judicial institution, which this legislation is clearing the legal barriers to, into what Foucault called the regulatory apparatuses of biopower.

These — my Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — are:

Most citizens of the UK — if we can still call ourselves that — will have heard of some or all of these. It’s safe to say that, after two years of lockdown and the threat of what were called ‘vaccine passports’, everyone in the UK will know something about Digital Identity. But few, perhaps, will be aware of the programme of eco-austerity imposed by the UN’s Agenda 2030 and 2050, even though all will be familiar with the claims of the environmental activists that receive promotion in our media that only the world’s richest individuals and institutions can buy. Fewer still will have heard of the World Health Organization’s Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response Treaty, or of the Bank of England’s plans for a Central Bank Digital Currency. But the problem, as it was under lockdown, is that as soon as the plans and intentions of the so-called global elite become sufficiently public for opposition to them to gain critical mass, the media — both mainstream and social — first dismisses that knowledge as a conspiracy theory and then — as we saw with the leaked text messages of Matt Hancock about the Government’s use of terror to enforce compliance from the British people — the actual import of those plans are displaced onto mundane concerns.

As examples of which — and which I discuss in greater detail in my book — what concerns there have been around the Pandemic Treaty and Central Bank Digital Currency have been about the UK’s loss of national sovereignty, or elderly people who don’t have a bank account or smartphone being excluded, or not being able to give spare change to beggars. Time and again we are told that CBDC is merely another form of digital payment and not appreciably different from existing bank cards; or that the WHO Treaty will simply make us more prepared for the next pandemic and therefore must be a good thing — except to those who denied the existence of the last one. Similarly, what concerns have been expressed about Agenda 2030 is that the corporate influence on the UN might be inhibiting its implementation of Net Zero rather than, as is the case, driving it to their own ends.

To use a word that is as abused as any other these days, this is ‘disinformation’, created and disseminated to inform the public just enough to allow us to inform ourselves no further, and to comfortably dismiss anyone who does as a conspiracy theorist. The truth, which this book sets out to demonstrate, is that these four regulatory apparatuses of biopower are going to fundamentally, and in certain aspects irreversibly, change the social contract between the British people and the state.

Crucially, in this book I show how all four of these regulatory apparatuses — the discourses justifying them, the institutions formulating them, the programmes implementing them, the legislation imposing them, the agendas requiring them, the treaties agreeing to them and the technologies enforcing them — are all interdependent on each other. Indeed, as instruments of the new totalitarianism I discussed in The Road to Fascism, they couldn’t be other than part of a totalising system of surveillance, control and domination.

The Book of Revelation was written around 90 A.D., almost two thousand years ago, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse it announced appeared, respectively, wearing a crown, wielding a sword, carrying a scales and bearing the name of death. The emblems and technologies of power have changed since then, but the means by which the powerful seek to control us remain the same today: by conquest of a people, by waging war, by economic destitution, and by causing plagues and famine. The difference is, now it’s being done, under the beneficent hand of stakeholder capitalism, ‘for our own good’.

In Part 2 of this article, I will look at the consequences of incorporating the legal framework within which the rights of citizenship have been written into law into regulatory apparatuses through which the obligations of biosecurity are enforced by the state.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/04/2023 - 23:55
Published:11/4/2023 11:06:52 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:11/1/2023 7:42:48 AM
[Markets] CA Funding LGBTQ+ Group Fighting Parental Notification CA Funding LGBTQ+ Group Fighting Parental Notification

Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClear Wire,

Over the summer, when a Southern California school board opposed a new state-determined social studies curriculum that included a bio of slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a threatening tweet calling out the school board president by name.

“This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn,” Newsom tweeted. “Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention. Stay tuned.”

Newsom followed up the vague warning with a far more tangible one. In a subsequent statement, the governor labeled the board’s reluctance to accept the curricula an act of “hate” and announced a $1.5 million fine for what he described as a “willful violation of the law.” He also threatened a lawsuit and a state Justice Department civil rights investigation. 

Demagogues who whitewash history, censor books, and perpetuate prejudice must never succeed,” Newsom added. “Hate doesn’t belong in our classrooms, and because of the board’s majority’s antics, Temecula has a civil rights investigation to answer for.”

Komrosky and other members of the school board for the Temecula Valley Unified School District were concerned about Milk’s well-documented relationship with a 16-year-old boy when he was in his 30s. He and other board members labeled Milk a “pedophile” and didn’t want his bio included in a supplemental curriculum for certain grade levels. 

After Newsom’s threat of legal action, the school board began to waver. Komrosky called an emergency Friday meeting that stretched late into the night and partially backed down, agreeing to accept the textbooks but putting off a decision on the 4th-grade lessons on civil rights, including the gay rights movement, until the board and parents could review it further.

The confrontation spurred weeks of headlines, with members of the LGBTQ+ community praising the governor’s actions while parents’ rights groups bemoaned the top-down threats from the highest level of state government. 

The Democrat-controlled state legislature last month passed a bill that would legalize hefty state fines for school boards that reject state-determined curricula and other state policies. The state attorney general also sued a different school district in Chino for requiring parents to be notified when their children begin identifying as a different gender in California public schools.

In mid-October, a judge sided, at least temporarily, with the state, and granted a preliminary injunction against the parent notification policy until he makes a final decision.

Over the last several months, the school board clashes have fueled a series of protests and rallies at the state Capitol in which parents, students, pastors, and school board members have accused the Newsom administration and the state legislature of keeping secrets from parents and undermining their ability to care for and oversee their children.

On the other side of the debate are Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who argue that the school boards are trying to ban textbooks teaching diversity. They also assert that students in the state public elementary schools who are changing their gender have a right to privacy from their parents who could try to stop them from transitioning – or worse – use physical force as punishment for doing so.

Amid the furor on both sides of the school board controversies, in late August, Newsom announced the latest round of grants to support an effort to combat hate crimes against transgender, Muslim, and black people after the attorney general’s office found a 20% increase in such crimes across the state in 2022.

Among the taxpayer-funded grants is $630,000 to Equality California, an LGBTQ+ group fighting alongside Thurmond against school boards’ parental notification policies and their ability to object to diversity-oriented curricula.

Over the last four years, the state has provided $400 million in federal grants to fund security measures for faith-based organizations and other nonprofits, and $196 million in grants to local organizations focused on preventing hate crimes and supporting survivors. The funding is taking place as the state is running a $31.5 billion budget deficit, up from $22.5 billion projected in January.

The state recently awarded this year’s nearly $91.5 million in “Stop the Hate” grants to more than 170 community groups after at least two disturbing incidents that police say were motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ views and racism.

In August, a San Bernardino store owner was murdered after an argument over a rainbow “pride” flag hanging outside her store, and an Oakland elementary school was evacuated after receiving a bomb threat that police said was racially motivated.

Newsom last week also approved $10 million in funds to boost the presence of police at synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship as tensions have flared over the possibility of local violence stemming from the Israel-Hamas war.

Allowing all places of worship to receive the funds to boost security appears even-handed and proactive at a time of rising tensions and threat levels.

But the “Stop the Hate” grant to Equality California has sparked criticism from opponents that Newsom is inappropriately using state taxpayer funds to assist the top LBGTQ+ organization fighting parents over school board policies.

According to the California Department of Social Services, which issued the grants, the grants “may” fund various services and programs, including those providing mental health and legal services for victims and their families. The website also says funds could go to prevention services, including “arts and cultural work, youth development, senior safety and escort programs, safety planning, training and cross-racial alliance work.”

Equality California has been at the center of the fight for protecting children’s right to change genders without their parents’ knowledge in public schools across the state. The group has fiercely opposed the parental rights movement, labeling it homophobic and transphobic, and argues that notifying parents amounts to “forcibly outing” gender-transitioning children, which could lead to physical or emotional harm for these young people who already experience higher rates of depression, mental health, self-harm, and suicide than their peers.

Equality California staff have attended school board meetings and appeared alongside Thurmond as he answers questions from the press. The group’s staffers were among pro-LGBTQ+ advocates whom a Chino school board removed from a meeting along with Thurmond after he spoke against a proposed district policy that would require schools to inform parents if their students were changing their pronouns or asking to use different gendered facilities.

Because money is fungible, and the grant can help offset costs for the organization’s other work, parental rights advocates have argued that the grant is inappropriately boosting the group’s lobbying efforts opposing parental rights policies at local school boards.

According to its 2021 tax filings with the IRS, the most recent available, Equality California Institute spent more than $400,000 on lobbying the state legislature and received nearly $6 million in revenue for that year alone.

Carl DeMaio, a conservative radio talk show host in California who is gay, was the first to take issue with the Equality California grant in a post on his website, arguing that it was one of several designed to give a financial edge to left-leaning groups, such as Equality California, that actively engage in politics by endorsing candidates and other political activities.

For instance, the group endorsed Thurmond’s reelection last year, lauding him for “personally intervening” in a school board fight in Chino and working “diligently alongside Equality California to counter the attacks against our trans and gender-nonconforming youth, in particular, and we could not ask for a better ally and champion for all California students.” It’s unclear if that endorsement came directly from the Institute or another part of Equality California’s nonprofit organization.

There’s nothing wrong with these far-left groups engaging in political advocacy. It’s their First Amendment right, but not with my tax dollars,” DeMaio told RealClearPolitics. “This is the oldest scam going on in California politics right now. It’s the utilization of taxpayer money to subsidize Democrat and left-wing political organizations.”

“If the National Rifle Association or the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation were receiving taxpayer money, the left and the media would be lighting their hair on fire, but here in California, you have political groups getting money from the government, and no one bats an eye,” he added.  

Equality California spokesman Jorge Reyes Salinas says the Institute does not engage in political work, as DeMaio alleges, and stressed that the entire grant is devoted to supporting the state’s “Stop the Hate” program.

“Equality California Institute’s Stop the Hate program is a tool to ensure that LGBTQ+ Californians know about and have access to culturally responsive resources on hate crimes and bystander intervention,” he said in a statement to RCP. “Through outreach and partnerships, this program aims to advance education on how to curb the sharp increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in California.”

Newsom’s office did not respond to RCP’s inquiries about the grant.

Lance Christensen, a former state legislative staffer who ran for California superintendent of schools as a Republican last year, now serves as the vice president of education policy and government at the conservative California Policy Center. The Center is one of the main groups backing the parental rights policies in school boards across the state. 

Christensen argues that the deck is heavily stacked against his side because parents are already fighting the deep-pocketed teacher unions who back many of the policies parents’ rights groups have tried to fight, including extended COVID school shutdowns that kept students in virtual learning longer than many other states.

On top of that, the leaders of Equality California, which is more ideologically aligned with the Democrats who run the state, “feel like it’s their right and duty to extract money from taxpayers to help amplify their views,” he argued.

The fact of the matter is, most parents are well aware of the positions these groups have,” he said. “They just aren’t aware that their tax dollars are going to subsidize these activities.” 

Equality California has backed a raft of pro-LGBTQ+ bills that Newsom signed into law in late September, including several measures the governor’s office has said are designed to “better support vulnerable youth.” Among the new laws is one that would require courts to keep all petitions for a change of gender identity in public documents, including those filed by minors, confidential. 

The group also strongly backed the Transgender, Gender-Diverse and Intersex Youth Empowerment Act, which would have required judges to consider whether parents have affirmed the gender identity of their children in custody disputes.

While Newsom said he shares the commitment to advance transgender rights, he vetoed that bill in mid-September, arguing that it would inappropriately change legal standards for another branch of government.

Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics' White House/national political correspondent.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/31/2023 - 19:05
Published:10/31/2023 6:34:52 PM
[Markets] The Counterculture Everyone Forgot The Counterculture Everyone Forgot

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Rather than mocking the Counterculture, we would benefit from re-acquiring its values that favored frugality and the ownership of skills, work, enterprise and land.

Mention the Counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, and the memory stored in popular culture is of drug-dazed, half-naked hippies dancing to rock music. There was a slice of that, to be sure, but there was much more that's largely been forgotten:

The Counterculture was primarily a response to the meaningless debt-dependent consumerism that had already taken hold of our society and economy. The core values of the Counterculture Everyone Forgot were:

1. Learning how to make and repair things oneself

2. Frugality

3. Rejection of debt

I submit that the value of these life precepts will become increasingly visible and necessary. As I've explained before, reliance on debt incentivizes the most destructive and unsustainable traits of human nature: choosing the painless, sacrifice-free option of pushing costs into the future, the removal of any incentive to become more productive and efficient, and the optimization of the illusion that the future will painlessly be able to not just service the current mountain of debt but an entire mountain range of debt that will pile up as our borrowing increases.

The emptiness and meaningless of consumerism has reached levels which are now actively destroying our health, as I laid out in gory detail in The Profitable Destruction of Americans' Health. The optimization of maximizing profit via monopoly/cartel profiteering, planned obsolescence and shrinflation (getting less while paying more) has stripped products and services of durability, so everything we buy is on a conveyor belt to the Landfill--the perfection of our Waste Is Growth Landfill Economy.

This conveyor belt of squandered wealth looks sustainable as long as debt can skyrocket at near-zero rates of interest. But those days are gone, never to return. Borrowing more money now costs money, and so long after the unrepairable, low-quality gew-gaw is rotting away in the landfill, the debt used to purchase it lives on, eating the borrower alive.

The secular bible of the Counterculture was the Whole Earth Catalog, a collection of quality American-manufactured tools and products designed for durability and productive use. In other words, things that aren't consumed, they're used to generate value. This concept has largely been lost: human beings are not productive beings, we're consumers, whose very identity anf existence flows from buying more of everythingI shop, therefore I am.

The depravity of borrowing money to squander on things of questionable or temporary value was visible 60 years ago, and the depravity will soon consume all those who believe this system is sustainable. What's the opposite of a depraved dependence on debt to buy stuff of questionable or temporary value? Buying tools with cash and learning how to use them to create value for oneself, one's household and one's community, and consume / share / sell what one produces.

The Counterculture questioned the value of debt and consumerism, and sought to return to the bedrock skills and values of the pre-debt/consumerism era. These included frugality--waste not, want not--in service of saving up and paying cash for everything rather than borrowing money, and in reducing dependence on the exploitive system of labor, where one sells their time (i.e. their life) for the dubious benefits of a wage.

The favored Counterculture alternative was to own your own work, own your own tools and own your own land. And by "own" we mean "own free and clear," i.e. zero debt.

One of the more popular books of the Counterculture era was How to Live on Nothing (1/1/71), an exaggeration of course, but nonetheless it offered a practical guide to spending as little as possible, for it was understood that frugality equals freedom and debt equals servitude.

In my own work, I've strived to offer alternatives to piling up debt / servitude. My book Get a Job, Build a Real Career describes an alternative to accepting a lifetime of debt /servitude for a university degree of questionable value--learn how to accredit yourself.

My book Self-Reliance in the 21st Century lays out a framework for increasing self-reliance by reducing exposure to systemic fragilities and vulnerabilities, and assembling real-world skills and assets rather than pile up more debt or depending on a government funded by debt.

Our first house was a micro-house constructed with hand tools as there was no electrical service onsite. Those who know how can do quite a bit with a sharp handsaw and other basic tools. A few years later, when we were 26 years of age, we built a "real house" ourselves, subcontracting the electrical and plumbing asd required by local building codes. We took out a local bank loan for $5,000 to finish the house and paid it off in less than two years. (In today's money, that's $17,500.) Then the house was ours, free and clear.

Frugality in service of saving and paying cash for durable value really is freedom. So is knowing how to do things so you don't have to pay others to do what you could have done yourself.

Rather than mocking the Counterculture, we would benefit from re-acquiring its values that favored frugality and self-reliance, the ownership of skills, work, enterprise and land, sharing knowledge with others and a rejection of debt as needless servitude.

These values don't disappear with financial success, for they are the bedrock of financial success. Here are my work slippers and my dress slippers, for going out into the world looking my best:

*  *  *

My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century. Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

Become a $1/month patron of my work via

Subscribe to my Substack for free

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/30/2023 - 19:00
Published:10/30/2023 6:06:57 PM
[Markets] Gold's About To Have Its Day: Jim Grant Warns No One's Prepared For "Higher Yields For Much, Much, Much Longer" Gold's About To Have Its Day: Jim Grant Warns No One's Prepared For "Higher Yields For Much, Much, Much Longer"

Authored by Christoph Gisiger via,

The world is experiencing a historic surge in interest rates. Jim Grant, editor of «Grant’s Interest Rate Observer», believes the turmoil could be the beginning of a multi-decade bear market in bonds.

In this in-depth interview, he explains what the risks are – and where opportunities arise.

The spike was unexpected: In the US, the yield on 10-year treasuries is rising rapidly toward 5%, the highest level since 2007. From Europe to Japan to Australia, long-term interest rates are also trending upward almost everywhere in the world. There is much speculation about the causes. What is clear, however, is that this shock will not be without consequences.

«It raises the interesting possibility that we are embarked on a new bond bear market,» says Jim Grant, editor of the iconic investment bulletin «Grant’s Interest Rate Observer». «Bonds are unusual in the world of financial assets as their prices historically tend to trend in generation-length intervals; something we don’t see so much in stocks or commodities», he adds.

In this in-depth interview with The Market NZZ, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, the seasoned expert on financial history explains what persistently higher interest rates could mean for investors, what risks are associated with this new environment and where long-term opportunities arise.

«I think gold ought not to trade as an inflation hedge, but as an investment in monetary disorder of which we surely have enough in the world»: Jim Grant.

Mr. Grant, «Grant’s Interest Rate Observer» is celebrating its 40th anniversary. What are you currently observing in connection with the massive surge in interest rates that the financial markets are experiencing?

Well, we certainly have something to observe. It’s been a long time, so I would say a couple of things. One is that the movement from interest rates bordering on nothing to interest rates knocking on the door of normal – that speed of rise – is something we have rarely, if ever, seen before. It’s like a car going from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds. So this is a very rapid and, one might conjecture, a very disruptive rise because it has been so fast.

How can this turmoil in the bond market be put into historical perspective?

It raises the interesting possibility that we are embarked on a new bond bear market. Bonds are unusual in the world of financial assets as their prices historically tend to trend in generation-length intervals; something we don’t see so much in stocks or commodities.

How did such generational cycles play out in the past?

In the United States, bond yields fell from around the end of the Civil War for 35 years to the end of the 19th century. Then, they rose very gradually for 20 years, whereupon they fell again from around 1921 to 1946. Next, the great post-war bond bear market began, taking yields all the way up to 15% in 1981. After that, the great bond bull market started that took yields down to 1% in 2021. Of course, in Europe and Japan yields on shorter-dated securities fell even well below zero, to the tune of $16 trillion of securities were priced to yield less than nothing.

What can be derived from this for today’s environment?

Going back about 150 years, there has been a succession of bond bull and bear markets, each one at least 20 years in length. So perhaps since 2021 we have begun a lengthy excursion to the upside in yields – and if that’s the case, the catch phrase ought to be not «yields for longer», but «yields for much, much, much longer». Then again, nothing says this exercise in pattern recognition necessarily guarantees any future outcome. But for what it is worth, this is one way to frame this most violent and dramatic rise in bond yields.

Why do you think a new cycle may have begun in the bond market?

Here’s one way to think about it: In 1981, President Reagan saw that the air traffic controllers’ union was threatening to strike. So he warned them not to strike, arguing it’s against the public and it’s illegal. The air traffic controllers struck anyway, so Reagan fired them all and brought in new ones. That was about the time when interest rates peaked. It was a marker of the times. Back then, we didn’t know that this was the end of a 45-year bond bear market. It was a symbolic end: President Reagan broke this important union. It was a change; it was like commodity prices breaking in 1980.

And what does this have to do with the current situation?

Fast forward to today, another President, Joe Biden, goes out to Detroit. He walks the picket line in solidarity with the strikers of the auto union, encouraging them: «Hang in there, you got it!» To me, that is another sign of the times, another kind of omen. So it might just be that we are embarked on rates much, much, much higher for much, much, much longer. And, it might just be that we are embarked on not just a cycle of inflation but an age of inflation.

So should we expect further tremors in the bond market?

We’ve just talked about how fast this bond bear market we’re hypothesizing about has been to date. But we haven’t talked about the tempo. For instance, at the beginning of the previous bond bear market in 1964, it took ten years for the yield on long-dated treasuries to go from 2¼% to 3¼%. So nothing says that the current rate of speed is going to continue. As a matter of fact, it can’t continue because otherwise rates would need three digits to write them down. So based on form, on the historical precedent, the tempo is going to be very measured at times. In other words, it might just be that for a certain time, the bond market won’t be very dramatic at all. Yet, it won’t go back to 2%, which will be good for some people, not good for others, but in any case, very different from what we’ve seen over the last four decades.

What are the consequences of this fundamental change for investments?

During the course of not one investment career, but rather one and a half investment careers, the whole world has become accustomed to interest rates basically only going in one direction. Of course, there was plenty of volatility along the way, but persistent, if not continuous declines in rates have been the norm for the careers and investment minds of most living human beings. Consequently, expectations are deeply embedded in our collective psyche that rates do one thing, which is to decline. Yet here we are, observing them go up. So it’s no wonder that many people don’t exactly want to believe it. It’s highly irregular, and not at all in the way of our collective experience going back many, many years.

So how will this change the environment for investment?

During the great protracted bond bull market beginning in 1981, bonds and stocks could reliably be expected to move inversely from one another: Stocks would go up, bonds down, and vice versa. As a result, bonds provided a nice hedge or cushion to one’s equity exposure. That was the case for a long time, and it was especially attractive when bonds were yielding something. Indeed, long-dated treasuries yielded 14% as recently as 1984, and as much as 10% as recently as 1987. So for many of the past forty years, bonds not only provided a portfolio balance, but also delivered a substantial measure of interest income along the way.

And today?

This advantageous arrangement ended, or at least became much less advantageous, during the long period of zero percent rates and QE: Bonds yielded very little and might have provided some cushion, if stocks decline. But there was no great interest income for a long time from one’s bond position. Today however, there is a possibility that bonds and stocks could decline at the same time, as was the case for many years in the last bond bear market, beginning in the late Sixties and continuing into the early Eighties. So correlations could change. The popular 60/40 portfolio could deliver disappointing returns, rather than persistently attractive ones – and that too would be a big change in the investment weather.

That’s not exactly an uplifting outlook.

This is not to say that in a time of persistently rising yields, there aren’t some distinct advantages from the saver’s, the long-term investor’s point of view. One of the classics of fixed income investing is a book called «Inside the Yield Book» by Martin Leibowitz and Sidney Homer. It came out at a time when yields were printed and bound in books, before the digital era, the Bloomberg era. Chapter one of the 1972 edition of «Inside the Yield Book» is entitled «Interest on Interest». It describes the arithmetic of a bond investor investing semi-annual coupons at rising rates of interest, pointing out that interest on interest for long periods can contribute as much as one half of the total return. It points out further that in times of rising yields, the yield to maturity is going to be higher than the yield at which you purchased the bond because you will be investing not at the coupon rate, but at ever increasing rates.

How exactly does this compounding effect work?

Let’s say, you buy a 6% bond maturing in thirty years. In a bond bull market with continually declining interest rates, you reinvested that 6% coupon in ever lower rates and thereby ever lower returns. So the yield to maturity was not 6%, but something less than that. Now, imagine you purchase that same security today in an environment with persistently, if not continuously rising rates over the next thirty or forty years. The rate you earn on that coupon won’t be 6%. It’s likely to be something higher, and therefore your yield to maturity is going to be better than 6%.

So a bear market in bonds also brings benefits?

Indeed. For investors, it opens up another new vista to come: opportunities for interest on interest. Of course, this does not apply to people who need coupon income to pay their rent and buy their groceries. But for savers, for pension funds, for sovereign wealth funds, for people who are in the business of reinvesting their interest income this is a not-disadvantageous thing, this bond bear market. But again, to re-emphasize: This is all hypothetical, I don’t want to sound like some cocksure dogmatic prophet, which I assure you I am not.

But let’s assume you are correct in your thesis on the future development of interest rates. In principle, do bonds therefore offer an attractive alternative to equities in the portfolio?

Yes, what is old will be new again. Bonds really earn something besides nothing or less than nothing which was the case for a long time. But as mentioned earlier, it’s going to take some time getting used to it. So far, the stock market pretends not to notice. This seems surprising. As we point out in a recent issue of «Grant’s», the volatility of the bond market is very elevated, whereas the volatility of the stock market is very subdued. So you have to ask yourself: How can complacency reign in junior securities, when anxiety is the mood in the market of senior securities? This doesn’t make intuitive sense.

Where could the pressure of rising rates cause major problems?

I suspect that this most sudden and even violent lurch higher in interest rates is going to test financial structures that came into being during the period of very low nominal interest rates. Think of what all came into being, when money was proverbially free from 2010 to 2021: Cryptocurrencies flourished, dito venture capital and private equity. There were no constraints on sovereign debt issuance, so public credit was expanded dramatically. Interest expense seemed to be forever minimal and not worrisome because, after all, rates would never rise. To some degree, the entire world was capitalized on the expectation of extremely low interest rates.

And how do things look now?

All that has changed, but not in the expectations yet. I think people are still trying to deal with the shock of the perception of the possibility of much higher rates for a long time. Not every company has had to refinance so far, not every private equity company has met a hostile reception in the credit markets, and not every country has had to face the consequences of a potentially ruinously high national invoice for interest expense. All this is still in the making. So I’m not so quick to believe that this rise in rates, as dramatic as it has been, is going to be solitary or helpful just to savers. No, I think it’s a much, much deeper phenomenon and we’ll learn more about it in the coming fiscal quarters and years. That’s for sure.

With the crisis facing British pension funds and the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, we have already seen two situations with major turmoil. Do you expect further stress in the system?

Who knows, but the protracted selloff in US treasuries is properly raising concerns that the March regional banking crisis never ended but only took the summer off. All-time low interest rates beguiled, seduced and even coerced people into doing things they would not have done perhaps except for interest rates that were not the product of the marketplace but rather the product of the models of the central bankers of the world. The problem with 4%, 5% and 6% interest rates today is not 4%, 5% and 6% on their face. The real problem is the preceding regime of zero percent rates, and the debt accumulation that those rates fostered and brought into being.

Then again, interest rates could also fall again. Or to put it another way: What are the specific forces that could foster a long bear market in bonds?

One cause might be an embedded, what they call, structural inflation. If inflation is part of the times, the spirit of the age, that could be one driver. Another cause could be a deterioration of public credit. For a long time, the United States has been in the privileged position of being the one and only superpower and the issuer of the one and only reserve currency of the world. But in its humanity, America is not so very different from other countries.

What do you mean by that?

Essentially, the privilege of consuming much more than you produce is sort of the poisoned chalice gift of a reserve currency. It’s like saying: All right, you can pay your bills in your currency you alone can produce and the world will accept it because of your evident strength and enterprise and power. If Uganda, Britain, Singapore or even Switzerland was given this privilege, I imagine any other country would have done the same. But what we have done in America is that we brought up immense net international debts and very large domestic sovereign debts. So altogether a lot of debts, financed with the dollar which – as we convinced ourselves – is kind of the Coca-Cola or Microsoft of monetary world brands. That’s a very seductive thing to have come to believe.

So the dollar as the world’s reserve currency is proving to be a curse?

When we speak about the troubles in public credit, that’s another way of saying there are more bonds on offer than are demanded at prevailing rates of interest. The United States has been downgraded by Standard & Poors’ and by Fitch, and Moody’s maybe would prefer to do the same. America is a Triple-A country in many respects. The Statue of Liberty, the Declaration of Independence, you can’t downgrade those. It’s part of the whole business model of this country, and it’s a pretty good business model. But financially speaking, we have taken advantage of these things; the things that make America truly what it is – not the financial gimmicks that make us more encumbered than we ought to be.

Nevertheless, the US economy is doing remarkably well by international comparisons. This is despite the fact that virtually everyone had feared that the economy would cool down significantly as a result of rising interest rates.

I thought that combination of an inverted yield curve and the contraction of monetary growth together were pretty strong signals of a pending recession. So again, it turns out there are no surefire indicators. But obviously, a recession will come at some time, and I think it will have its origins in the unhealthy capital structures caused by the suppression of interest rates and the distortion that suppression has brought about over the course of more than a decade. To me, that’s going to be the proximate cause of the next financial difficulties, being part and parcel of the next recession.

What is the best way to navigate this environment as a European investor based in Zurich, for example?

I would think that you would continue to look at companies in a company-by-company way. However, you would not be ignorant of the fact that the spread between the American equity market cap and the market cap of the rest of the world is at a record high. So everyone owns America already, and has been well paid for that. But it’s a big world, and there might be opportunities elsewhere as well as in America.

Where else do you spot attractive opportunities for investments?

Here’s a question: When you’re looking around for a currency, if you want to hold money in some form, are you really sure you want to hold it in dollars, or in competing fiat currencies? In this regard, I might have mentioned gold once or twice before in our previous conversations. So I would say to the gnomes of Zurich: Don’t forget what got you here! Don’t turn your little backs on gold. But seriously, I think that gold is going to have its day. It really has not had its day yet, as I see it.

Gold has experienced a strong surge in recent weeks. What speaks for further gains?

I think gold ought not to trade as an inflation hedge, but as an investment in monetary disorder of which we surely have enough in the world. So it’s a question of getting people interested in the problem, and then in the solution. If you want to go back and look at the long cycles, it might just be that the fifty odd years since the end of Bretton Woods and the end of the dollar’s convertibility to gold, that that cycle is ending. It might be that paper money in the historians’ retro perspective views will seem to have been a failure and that the world is going to charge back on unconstrained central bank credit creation and unconstrained sovereign borrowing. Maybe, that’s one way to look at it. It’s the way I tend to look at these things: longer-term, historical trends – and fifty years in the history of money is about the blink of an eye.

Tyler Durden Sun, 10/29/2023 - 18:40
Published:10/29/2023 5:59:22 PM
[Markets] March 9, 2022... Will Live In Infamy March 9, 2022... Will Live In Infamy

Authored by James Rickards via,

Where were you on March 9, 2022, when President Biden signed the death warrant on American freedom?

On that day, in a hushed ceremony at the White House without the approval of Congress, the states or the American people, Biden signed into law Executive Order 14067.

Buried in his order are a few paragraphs, titled Section 4. The language in Section 4 makes Order 14067 the most treacherous act by a sitting president in the history of our republic.

That’s because Section 4 sets the stage for legal government surveillance of all U.S. citizens, total control over your bank accounts and purchases and the ability to silence all dissenting voices for good.

In this new war on freedom, they aren’t coming for your guns. No, they’re thinking much bigger than that.

They’re coming for your money.

And it’s already started. These efforts are stepping up and taking on a nefarious tone that also involves surveillance and loss of our freedoms under the guise of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), or Biden Bucks as I call them.

If you had asked me about this two years ago, I would have said the U.S. is taking a rather studious approach to it. It was too important to not be involved in, but the U.S. did not seem to be in any hurry to actually implement it.

There were studies, and I would have said my estimate at the time would have been, “OK, China has it. Europe, maybe another year. The U.S. might be three or four years down the road because the dollar’s too important. They don’t want to race into it. They want to get it right. There are a lot of ways to mess it up.”

But that’s changed under Joe Biden.

Biden has now fast-tracked this thing.

We’ve moved pretty quickly from what I would call a research phase to an implementation phase. So I give it the name Biden Bucks, because Joe Biden will prove to have been responsible for actually implementing this at a very quick tempo in the United States.

NOT Cryptocurrencies

CBDCs are digital money, not cryptocurrencies. The differences between CBDCs and crypto are important.

Cryptocurrencies are recorded on a blockchain, which is a particular type of ledger that shows every transaction ever made in each currency.

Cryptos also claim to offer anonymity and decentralization, which are said to be virtues but are actually fatal flaws because the “anonymity” is a greater cover for crime and fraud.

I worked with the U.S. Strategic Command to unravel crypto ownership when Isis was using digital tokens to finance its caliphate in 2015–2016. It’s not easy to pierce the veil, but it can be done.

By contrast, CBDCs do not use blockchain; they have a digital ledger accounting system, but it’s not a blockchain. They’re the opposite of decentralized; they are highly centralized under the control of a single issuer, usually a central bank.

There’s no anonymity. The issuer knows every account holder and every transaction — that’s the whole idea.

CBDCs are promoted on the idea that transactions are faster, cheaper and more secure when all money is digital and controlled by a government.

Compared with credit cards, debit cards, wire transfers, Venmo and PayPal, that may be true. Those systems have multiple intermediaries and layers of fees, so CBDCs may actually be able to streamline payments and make the payment system more efficient.

But while the government positions CBDCs as a benefit to consumers in performing transactions, including faster settlements, better security, ease of use and transaction costs that are lower than with cash, it’s also crucial to think through the implications of the technology and how it could negatively affect the economy and our individual rights.

The Death of Privacy

The first part of the hidden agenda is to eliminate cash. If you’re the government and you want the central bank digital currency to succeed, you have to eliminate cash because it’s your competition.

Cash is anonymous. If you pay for something with cash, the purchase can’t be directly tied to you. That’s not true of Biden Bucks.

The government knows exactly what you’re buying, to whom you’re making donations and (by extension) what you’re reading based on which books you buy, etc.

That means we’ve come very far down the road toward thought control, censorship and selective law enforcement against political enemies.

It’s a government that looks like the state ruled by Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The government might want to freeze your account, they might want to seize your assets, they might want to put an expiration date on your money.

Imagine you get paid and the government says, “OK, you got the money. Nice job, but that money is going to evaporate or disappear if you don’t spend it in the next six months.” How’s that for a stimulus program?

None of these things is possible if there’s cash around. But if you get rid of cash and force everyone into a digital system, then you can do these kinds of things.

That means fiscal policy can actually be dictated by Biden Bucks. With total control of your money, the government can conduct fiscal policy at will.

What if the government wanted to stimulate the economy and increase the amount of consumer spending? They could simply send you a letter that states, for example, “You must spend $200 in the next 30 days or we will take $100 out of your account as a penalty.”

As most citizens will not want to risk losing $100, they will spend the amount requested and create stimulus in the economy as the government had wanted.

This could also work in the opposite direction. Say the government wanted to cool down the economy and not have as much money in circulation. They could encourage savings by requesting a certain balance in your account be kept and not spent.

If you went under that set balance, a penalty would be triggered.

Private Banks Are Pushing CBDCs

All that being said, the digital takeover of the financial system is not an all-or-nothing event, and it will happen in stages and not all at once. When the CBDCs are finally rolled out, it may be a bit of an anticlimax if private companies have already eliminated cash and invaded privacy on their own.

For example, the Italian bank Intesa SanPaolo has begun forcing customers to use an all-digital mobile phone service with no ability for customers to visit a branch or interact with a human bank official.

This is exactly what the world of CBDCs will be like except that a private bank will be doing the dirty work and not waiting for a government mandate. The CBDC effort in Europe will inevitably involve the European Central Bank (ECB) since they are the issuer of the euro and will be in charge of the digital ledger of transactions.

Still, private banks are not waiting for the ECB and are laying the groundwork today for a world without cash or human bankers.

All that’s left is a digital ledger and total surveillance of everything you do.

Again, the endgame for CBDCs would closely resemble George Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four. It would be a world of negative interest rates, forced tax collection, government confiscation, account freezes and constant surveillance.

You might not be able to fight back easily in the world of Biden Bucks, but it can be done.

There is one nondigital, nonhackable, nontraceable form of money you can still use.

It’s called gold (and silver). I urge you to get your hands on some while you still can.

Tyler Durden Sun, 10/29/2023 - 10:30
Published:10/29/2023 10:07:48 AM
[Markets] Silence Around Surgical Errors Is Jeopardizing Patients, Experts Say Silence Around Surgical Errors Is Jeopardizing Patients, Experts Say

Authored by Amy Denney via The Epoch Times (Emphasis ours),

Follow the entire  "What You Need to Know About Surgery" series here.

In this series, we’ll share how to determine if your surgery is right for you, how to ask the right questions, and what you can do to prepare and recover optimally

There’s a certain logic to doctors who don’t disclose their mistakes: their reputation, discipline, and the looming threat of medical malpractice lawsuits incentivize silence. However, patients display an unexpected silence about their own suffering—even when they know mistakes have been made.


Both problems undermine a patient-focused environment and stifle error reporting that could reduce medical mistakes.

The thought of medical errors isn’t likely to be on patients' minds as they’re wheeled into an operating room, according to research by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and National Patient Safety Foundation.

In fact, these watchdog groups discovered in their poll of 2,536 adults that nearly two-thirds of Americans don’t believe medical errors are likely to happen to them. The harsh reality is that 21 percent have experienced at least one.

Patient advocacy groups are convinced that speaking up about errors can actually make a difference in lowering systemic risks for everyone who needs surgery. However, many patients don't report mistakes even when they become aware that an error is responsible for their present suffering.

Among the most egregious surgical errors are receiving the wrong operation, having surgery on the wrong body part, having something left inside the body, or surgery for a diagnosis that wasn’t correct to begin with.

A Major Cause of Death

It’s been 24 years since the Institute of Medicine’s “To Err is Human” report was published, drawing broad attention to medical mistakes that kill up to 98,000 Americans annually. The exact number of deaths is controversial, mostly because there isn't a standardized way to collect and report this kind of data. Death certificates don't reliably code medical errors leading to death, further obscuring the problem.

A 2016 study found about 250,000 deaths annually are due to medical error, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States, where it’s more problematic than other developed countries.

Louise Aron was injured during surgery—her small intestine was nicked during a liver stent procedure—and she died shortly afterward. Though she had stage 4 colon cancer, the surgery wasn't considered high-risk. The mistake prompted the surgical team to suture her and transfer her to immediate hospice care.

Her daughter, Dr. Rosia Parrish, told The Epoch Times that she’s still overwhelmed with regret and sorrow and has yet to review the medical records to understand how the situation was handled.

“The sudden shift to hospice was heartbreaking, as the surgery was initially expected to be life-saving or at least life-extending, but it did not achieve either of these outcomes,” she said. “In hindsight, I wish we had chosen a top-tier hospital, even if it meant traveling farther.”

Not all errors result in tragedy. Most surgical errors are “near misses,” events that could have harmed a patient but by chance or mitigation did not. Surgery accounts for about a quarter of medical errors, but others might involve care received before or after an operation. For instance, medication, communication, and infection are common sources of mistakes outside a surgeon’s purview.

Regardless of who’s to blame, the lack of accountability—or even acknowledgment—breaks a learning feedback loop that protects patient safety in the future and reduces major catastrophes.

Patients Expect Errors, Not Lies

Perhaps the irony of medical errors is that honesty turns out to be the best policy for hospitals, doctors, and sometimes even patients.

A great deal of research shows that patients who are told about mistakes are more likely to follow medical advice, and continue with care while being less likely to seek malpractice lawsuits, according to “Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses.”

Patients have the right to know; patients and the public strongly desire disclosure. Failure to disclose mistakes and unanticipated outcomes limits opportunities for evaluation of systems and processes, and for sharing knowledge gained by publishing safety alerts across organizations, conducting educational sessions, modifying practice, and offering opportunities for improved performance,” the book states.

Dr. Parrish found herself once again facing the horrors of surgical complications a year after her mother’s death when she had an emergency cesarean birth.

In this case, the staff didn’t thoroughly review her medical history. Dr. Parrish experienced cardiomegaly (enlarged heart), postpartum hypertension, and nocturnal hypoxia—a condition characterized by low nighttime oxygen levels.

She used an oxygen tank for more than a month, had a series of pulmonology and cardiology appointments for several years, and continues to have no nerve sensation above and below her c-section scar.

In stark contrast to her mother’s death after which there were no apologies, Dr. Parrish’s hospital provided exceptional postoperative care with additional visits and even provided her with internal medical records that were not part of her file. Apologies facilitated healing.

“I worked with them for approximately six months, and their support was invaluable,” she said. “In my case, there were apologies from my main surgeon, who acknowledged the shortcomings of the surgery and the birth. I also processed my birth with my team of midwives as well.”

The Problem With ‘I’m Sorry’

Many states have “apology laws,” which are designed to allow for honest communication between physicians and injured patients.

However, the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics said they don’t go far enough. For instance, few states have laws protecting expressions both of sympathy and of fault from being entered into medical malpractice lawsuit evidence. This puts an unofficial gag on doctors, it said.

On the other hand, only 10 states even require physicians to disclose an error to the patient. Some doctors hide behind the fact that the definition of “medical error” is vague.

Adverse events are a type of injury that often happens in surgical treatment that isn’t really caused by the underlying medical issue of the patient. Adverse events are preventable, but not all are the result of an error, according to medical error and prevention training for clinicians. Preventable adverse events occur when there is a “failure to follow accepted practices.”

There are 29 “serious reportable events,” dubbed “never events” for the fact that they should never happen to patients. The list was created in 2006 by the National Quality Forum.

In Search of Better Surgical Centers

Not all hospitals embrace safety enhancements, nor do they rapidly apply new findings found to lower errors. Several volunteer reporting systems have cropped up in an effort to get the stakeholders in the health care system to change their behavior.

That allows patients to get a glimpse of the safety environment before they schedule surgery. The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization for health care consumers and purchasers, started publicly acknowledging in a searchable database those hospitals that respond to never events in their facilities by:

  • Reporting the event to at least one reporting program: The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), a state reporting program, or a patient safety organization.
  • Performing a root cause analysis.
  • Waiving all costs related to the never event and refraining from seeking reimbursement from the patient or a third-party payer.
  • Apologizing to the patient and/or family affected.

Sincere apologies can bridge broken trust. Evidence shows patients are most angry when nobody takes responsibility for an adverse event, according to LeapFrog.

“Hospitals often fear that issuing a formal apology opens up a door for malpractice suits. Ironically, research indicates that malpractice suits are often the result of a failure on the hospital’s part to communicate openly with the patient and apologize for its error,” according to LeapFrog.

The Terror of Errors

In Linda Kehart’s case, errors seemed probable but the situation was full of ambiguity, which can be the case with surgery. Risks are heightened when patients are under anesthesia.

In such situations, the only witnesses to errors are the health care team. Fear of negative consequences—retribution, job security, malpractice lawsuits, and reputation damage—might mean providers only report those errors associated with harm or those that can't be “covered up,” according to “Patient Safety and Quality.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Kehart woke up in an intensive care unit unable to get answers for why she was there after a standard stent procedure.

She was told she needed a longer hospital stay. She thought she overheard someone mention that she had coded—medical language for a cardiac arrest. There was also talk amid staff of contrast dye allergy listed on her chart that she repeatedly told them was an error. Despite large teams of clinicians going in and out of her room, nobody seemed interested in anything she asked.

“This nurse gets three inches from my face and says, ‘Mrs. Kehart, I want you to listen to us, be quiet, and do what we say.’ I said, ‘Excuse me. I may be old but I’m not stupid. Let’s talk about what’s happening.’ And they wouldn’t. They said I had to stay but they wouldn’t tell me why,” Ms. Kehart recalled.

Frustrated by the lack of transparency, she demanded to be discharged. The hospital refused to let her leave in a wheelchair and made her sign paperwork, which later disappeared, on which she wrote that nobody would answer her questions about what transpired during her surgery.

“I expect the care to come from qualified professionals and caring to come from everyone associated with anyone who becomes involved in the health care system. I find both of those challenging right now,” said Ms. Kehart, whose career involved work improving access to health care.

The Power of Being Heard

She used her connections and story to challenge the local system. She had never met her surgeon prior to the procedure, and later discovered she had an arterial hematoma, an injury to a blood vessel in her neck. One hospital administrator did ask her to write about how the ordeal made her feel so he could use the example with residents that he teaches.

I appreciated that attitude. I still have a lot of stress,” Ms. Kehart said. “I’ve had a lot of surgeries, but I’ve never had any worries before. It’s scary now.”

Most patients don’t believe filing reports will make a difference. Four in 10 of those who didn’t report medical errors in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) poll said they didn’t know how to.

Confusion is understandable. There is no universal system that patients can use for reporting errors. Most states have few guidelines, and the burden of creating a system for reporting errors falls on each individual hospital or health system.

Errors can be reported to the state public health department and the state medical licensing board to make a complaint about a physician, as well as to the Joint Safety Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits hospitals and is responsible for patient safety.

There are some voluntary reporting systems, too, such as the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, which takes complaints related to medication errors from patients and health care providers.

Uneducated Patients Perpetuate Harm

The burden of patient safety requires a buy-in from the entire surgical team, according to Dr. P.F. Stahel, who authored an essay on patient safety for Bone and Joint. 

Patients are perhaps the less obvious stakeholder, but Dr. Stahel and patient safety groups agree that not speaking up about medical mistakes is a contributing factor to the proliferation of errors.

Research has found that patients who are involved in their care, ask questions, and speak up—having high “health literacy”—can help minimize errors.

However, recognizing when an error has occurred can be challenging. Only one-third of patients have been told that a mistake occurred to them, according to IHI data.

And nearly half of American adults have trouble understanding or using health care information, according to an Institute of Medicine report. This becomes a stumbling block to improving care quality and reducing health costs.

“At some point, most individuals will encounter health information they cannot understand,” according to a statement about the report. “Even well-educated people with strong reading and writing skills may have trouble comprehending a medical form or doctor's instructions regarding a drug or procedure.”

Empowering Patients to Reduce Surgical Errors

The Joint Commission launched its “Speak Up” program in 2002 in an effort to raise health literacy.

Among its surgical-related advice:

  • Ask about safety, including requesting that the area on your body being operated on gets marked.
  • Tell a health care professional if you think they are confusing you with another patient.
  • Notice whether caregivers have washed their hands, and don’t be afraid to remind them.
  • Make sure nurses and doctors check your wristband identification before treatment or medication.
  • Write down and keep important information they’ve shared with you.
  • Ask a family member or friend to be your advocate.
  • Ask your surgeon if a “timeout” is performed before surgery. These help mitigate errors by pausing so the team can double-check vital information.

Read the entire  "What You Need to Know About Surgery" series here.

Tyler Durden Sun, 10/29/2023 - 09:20
Published:10/29/2023 8:49:26 AM
[Markets] Hamas’s October 7 Attack: Discourse In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence Hamas’s October 7 Attack: Discourse In The Age Of Artificial Intelligence

Authored by Ofira Seliktar via RealClear Defense,

Hamas’s massacre of Israeli civilians, known as ‘Black Sabbath,’ caught virtually everyone by surprise, even though the group had a long history of violence. One reason for this situation is the lack of information on several aspects of Hamas’s modus operandi. The resulting lacuna has biased the algorithms underpinning search engines that drive artificial intelligence (AI) on the subject.

The AI Challenge

The prominence of AI has profoundly and irrevocably changed the human discourse. From its inception on Google and other search engines to the most recent iteration of chatbots such as ChatGPT or Bard, complex algorithms have increasingly driven this process.

A large literature, mostly highly specialized, has analyzed numerous possible biases of the AI discursive products. Bias is created when one idea/topic/concept is disproportionally weighted against another. Faulty algorithms can introduce bias and need to be adjusted. But other issues are also at play.

  • Choosing representative data to correct for bias is also recommended, but in cases where voluminous data is generated on a daily basis over extended periods of time, such remedies are not practical. Experts point out biases which occur when there is imbalance in available data, in the sense that certain topics are overrepresented, whereas information on others hardly exists.
  • Quality of data in the discourse varies from rigorous research appearing in respectable academic publications to conspiracy theories found in niche outlets and social media. The sheer magnitude of ideas/topics/concepts in the discursive universe makes it hard to evaluate their quality. As a rule, discerning players in the discourse shy away from outlandish conspiracy theories, but evaluation of the in-between narratives is exceedingly hard.
  • Relations and causations between variables, two distinctive concepts, are regularly confused in discursive practices, creating a host of fallacies and biases in the narrative. When correlation is mistaken for or misrepresented as causation, it generates a “reality” that does not exist.

These three sources of bias helped to mask Hamas’s true character as a savage terror group, with many adopting the narrative of a national resistance group fighting to liberate Palestinians from “Israel’s oppression.”

Hamas’s ‘Black Sabbath’ Attack: The Current Problem

Israel’s standing in the discursive universe has deteriorated dramatically in the past three decades. As a result of delegitimization and vilification, the view of Israel as a colonial -apartheid state which suppresses and physically eliminates Palestinians is quite common. Much of this view is a byproduct of the neo-Marxist, critical theory paradigm which has dominated social science. The paucity of contradictory ideas has aggravated the bias. Past remedies to correct the imbalance such as creating Israel studies programs have fail to address the problem.

Constructing Israel as an illegitimate colonial-apartheid enterprise had legitimized terrorist violence under the category of “national resistance.”  Although Hamas and its junior partner Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have been considered terror groups in many Western jurisdictions, their true goal of eliminating Israel was hidden because of the AI-driven distortions of the narratives.

Correcting the Imbalance

Four issues need to be addressed to correct the imbalance.

Hamas as ISIS: Comparisons between the two groups surfaced soon after the attack but were of rhetorical-declarative nature. Only a handful of reports provided some background facts, often confusing or incorrect. In reality, the military wings of Hamas and the PIJ followed the modus operandi of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Palestinian terrorist who split from al Qaeda and was sheltered by Iran before moving to Iraq. IRGC-QF helped al Zarqawi to found the Islamic State (later ISIS) where he implemented the techniques of two books known as the “the jihadist bibles:” Jurisprudence of Blood (Masail fi Figh al-Dima) and Management of Savagery. The writings provided an Islamic justification for inflicting extreme violence on enemies such as beheadings and burning alive. These savage spectacles were said to attract maximum international attention.

Hamas’s strategy of embedding: the turning of civilians into human shields. Although several commentators have pointed out that the population of Gaza is used to defend the military wing of Hamas and PIJ, the discourse is not systematic and confined mostly to the description of the suffering of the civilians. The IRGC-QF doctrine of using human shields was based on Brigadier General S. K. Malik’s The Koranic Principle of War. Adopted to asymmetrical conflicts, it stipulated that embedding among non-combatants could level the playing field when engaging Western armies obligated to follow the humanitarian laws of war. The doctrine was successfully tested during the 2006 Lebanon War where Hezbollah used public and private spaces to house military assets and launch attacks. Critically, medical authorities, on order of Hezbollah and Hamas, refused to provide separate numbers of civilian and terrorist deaths.

Because of International Humanitarian Law that strives to protect non-combatants, embedding caused Israel reputational damage, made worse by Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s staging of alleged catastrophes.

Hamas as a parasitic organization feeding on the civilian population. It has been widely known that Hamas has diverted billions of dollars of international support to build a one-of-a-kind military complex in the Gaza Strip. In addition, equipment like water pipes were repurposed to make rockets. However, the true scope of the parasitic enterprise and the depth of its corruption has not been systematically studied. In a telling example, a journalist commenting on Israeli bombing of the Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, lamented the destruction of the “beating heart” of Gaza. In actuality, Rimal, known as the Beverly Hills of Gaza, houses the Hamas and PIJ elite and their families in extreme luxury.

The study of the highly corrupt governance and financial system presided over by Hamas is urgently needed. Judging by the case of Hezbollah, Iran- created prototype of a parasitic organization, finding information would be challenging but absolutely essential.  

Performative and Elimination Antisemitism: Iran is the largest producers of antisemitic content in the world. The material, translated into thirty-six languages, ranges from classic antisemitic treatises popular in Nazi Germany, the writings of Muslim Brothers Hassan al Bana and Sayyed Qutb, to assorted modern conspiracy theories. Despite considerable variety, the messaging is the same: Jews and their collective embodiment, Israel, are dangerous to the human race and must be exterminated. Calls to destroy Israel, also known as the Little Satan, occur daily; the prophetically minded Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei used verses from the Koran to calculate the exact day of Israel’s demise. A digital clock was erected in Tehran counting down the time. Iran’s proxies have propagated the same themes.

Although scholars and lay observers have debated the meaning of this extreme manifestation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism, most argue that the phenomenon is performative, in essence, a rhetorical strategy to increase domestic legitimacy or compete with the Sunnis in the Middle East. Only a small minority holds that the Islamist theocracy (and its proxies) is eliminationist, that is, given the opportunity would annihilate the Jews and Israel. Hamas atrocities on the Gaza border communities should be reexamined within the context of eliminationist antisemitic ideology produced and disseminated by Iran.


Historically, the discourse on Hamas and Israel has been replete with bias. Prominent ideas, topics, and concepts have been promoted to vilify Israel, Jews, and the Zionist cause while glorifying the “legitimate” struggle and acts of savagery committed by Hamas. This discourse is reinforced by AI algorithms which, as noted, deepen the bias. What has been ignored in the past should be crucial in the construction of the current narrative, specifically, the origins of Hamas’ savage tactics, its use of human shields, its parasitic relationship to the inhabitants of Gaza, and the antisemitic attacks launched by Iran. In each instance, corrective measures are suggested to redress the imbalances to better inform the participants in the discursive community.

Ofira Seliktar is Professor Emerita of Political Science at Gratz College, Melrose Park, PA. Previously, she was Scholar in Residence at the Middle East Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania.

This essay is based on the author’s work:  "Slaying the Little Satan: Iran’s War against Israel," in progress: "Iran, Revolution and Proxy Wars," Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, co-authored with Farhad Rezaei; and “Is Iran’s Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism Eliminationist or Performative: A Question for the Nuclear Age,” Israel Affairs, 2022.

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/28/2023 - 23:20
Published:10/28/2023 11:26:13 PM
[philanthropy] Bill Gates Turns 68: His Top 10 Quotes on Money, Success and Life Bill Gates is an avid blogger and social media user, recommending books every Christmas and hosting "Ask Me Anything" sessions once a year on Reddit. Published:10/28/2023 7:11:07 AM
[Education] Iowa Governor Rips Media for Wrongly Describing Keeping Sexually Explicit Material Out of Schools as Banning Books

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is pushing back against claims from some in the media that an education bill she signed into law back in late... Read More

The post Iowa Governor Rips Media for Wrongly Describing Keeping Sexually Explicit Material Out of Schools as Banning Books appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:10/27/2023 11:35:16 AM
[Gear] Best Cocktail Gear: Shakers, Strainers, Juicers, and More (2023) Steal the show at your next party with a display of cocktail mixology mastery with the right bar tools, books, and glassware. Published:10/26/2023 5:18:54 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:10/25/2023 8:09:59 AM
[Markets] Biden Administration Runs Third-Largest Budget Deficit In History Biden Administration Runs Third-Largest Budget Deficit In History

Authored by Michael Maharrey via,

The Biden administration ran a $1.695 trillion budget deficit in fiscal 2023. It was the third-largest deficit in US history. The only time the US government ran bigger deficits was during the COVID years of 2020 and 2021.

The government closed out the year with a $170.98 billion deficit in September, according to the final Monthly Treasury Statement of the fiscal year. That was more than double the projection.

The deficit would have been even higher had it not been for an accounting move in August that reversed student loan forgiveness.

Last year, the Treasury expensed $333.65 trillion for the student loan forgiveness plan signed by President Biden. When the Supreme Court struck the scheme down, the Treasury had to reverse that expense. That means the actual shortfall was more than $2 trillion this year — $3 trillion higher than the official numbers.

The 2023 budget shortfall was bigger than any run during the Obama administration during the Great Recession, and yet this economy is supposedly strong. Typically, strong economies result in smaller deficits as tax revenue rises.

That was not the case in fiscal 2023. Federal Receipts fell by 9.3% to $4.44 trillion.

The federal government enjoyed a revenue windfall in fiscal 2022. According to a Tax Foundation analysis of Congressional Budget Office data, federal tax collections were up 21%. Tax collections also came in at a multi-decade high of 19.6% as a share of GDP. But CBO analysts warned it won’t last. And government tax revenue will decline even faster as the economy spins into a recession.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was quick to blame falling tax receipts for the big deficit and said it underscores “the importance of President Biden’s enacted and proposed policies to reform the tax system.

But the big problem is on the spending side of the ledger. Strong receipts last year papered over the spending problem.

The US government blew through $6.13 trillion in fiscal 2023. That was down slightly from last year’s total expenditures, but the numbers were skewed by student loan forgiveness accounting. If you factor out the reversal of student loan forgiveness, the Biden administration spent $6.46 trillion in fiscal 2023, an 8.8% year-over-year increase in actual spending.

The Biden administration already wants more money. The president recently proposed a $100 billion aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other “national security” priorities.

Keep in mind that the feds now have a credit card with no limit.

And despite the caterwauling of a few Republicans, virtually nobody in Washington DC is interested in addressing this spending problem.

The fundamental issue wasn’t that the US government didn’t have enough money. The fundamental problem was, and still is, that the US government spends too much money. Despite the pretend spending cuts, the debt ceiling deal didn’t address that problem. Even with the new plan in place, spending will go up. And it’s already historically high. That means big budget deficits will continue and the national debt will mount.

Meanwhile, the national debt blew past $33 trillion on Sept. 15. Just 20 days later, it pushed about $33.5 trillion. In other words, the Biden administration added half a trillion dollars to the debt in just 20 days.

It’s easy to finger-point at President Biden and blame him for the spending problem, but this isn’t exclusive to the current administration. Trump also borrowed and spent like the proverbial drunken sailor.

To put the deficit in perspective, prior to the pandemic, the US government had only run deficits over $1 trillion four times — all in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Trump almost hit the $1 trillion mark in 2019 and was on pace to run a trillion-dollar deficit prior to the pandemic when the US supposedly enjoyed the “best economy” ever. The economic catastrophe caused by the government’s response to COVID-19 gave policymakers an excuse to spend with no questions asked. Now the Biden administration has settled into the new status quo – running  ’08 financial crisis-like deficits every single year.


This rapid increase in the national debt is happening during a time of sharply rising interest rates. This is a big problem for a government that primarily depends on borrowing to pay its bills.

Interest expense rose by 23% to $879 billion. Net interest, excluding intragovernmental transfers to trust funds, rose by 39% to $659 billion. Both of those numbers broke records.

Gross interest payments amounted to 3.28% as a share of gross domestic product, according to a Treasury Department official quoted by Reuters. That was the highest since 2001. The net share of interest expense came in at 2.45%, the highest since 1998.

The average interest rate on the debt is now at the highest level since 2011, coming in at 2.92% as of the end of August. But that’s still relatively low, and the debt is more than double what it was back in the good ol’ days of 2011.

Meanwhile, the average interest rate is poised to climb rapidly. A lot of the debt currently on the books was financed at very low rates before the Federal Reserve started its hiking cycle. Every month, some of that super-low-yielding paper matures and has to be replaced by bonds yielding much higher rates. That means interest payments will quickly climb much higher unless rates fall.

To give you an idea of where we’re heading, T-bills currently yield about 5.5%, the two-year yield is over 5% and the 10-year currently yields close to 5%.

Rising interest rates drove interest payments to over 35% as a percentage of total tax receipts. In other words, the government is already paying more than a third of the taxes it collects on interest expense.

If interest rates remain elevated, or continue rising, interest expenses could climb rapidly into the top three federal expenses. (You can read a more in-depth analysis of the national debt HERE.)

Peter Schiff provided some context in a tweet.

US debt was 119% of GDP in 1946. Budget surpluses in 4 of the next 5 years reduced it to 68% by 1953, the largest was 4.3% in 1948, the equivalent to $1.16 trillion in today’s dollars. The same reduction today requires about $30 trillion of tax hikes and spending cuts by 2030.”

In his podcast, Schiff called this a “fiscal timebomb in the process of exploding.”

It’s a compounding situation. We have to borrow the money to pay that interest. Every nickel that the government pays in interest on the debt it has to borrow. All that additional borrowing adds to the national debt, which then has to be financed at a higher rate.”

If the national debt climbs to $40 trillion (and given the current deficits it won’t take long) and interest rates remain at 5% (which Jerome Powell says will be necessary to tackle inflation) interest payments on the debt alone would skyrocket around $2 trillion per year. That means that even if the US government balanced the budget so receipts covered all spending minus interest payments, we’d still be facing a $2 trillion annual deficit.

Of course, there won’t be a balanced budget. So, let’s assume the federal government can maintain the current deficit level of around $1 trillion annually (minus interest expense). Even with this overly optimistic scenario,  the Treasury would be running a $3 trillion annual budget deficit. (That’s the current $1 trillion deficit plus $2 trillion in interest expenses.)

And the most likely scenario is spending will continue to climb, along with the budget deficits. There’s no telling how high the annual deficits could run.

This is a fiscal powder keg. All it needs is a match.

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/23/2023 - 17:40
Published:10/23/2023 4:58:57 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones closes 190 points lower, S&P 500 books longest losing streak of 2023 Dow Jones closes 190 points lower, S&P 500 books longest losing streak of 2023 Published:10/23/2023 3:50:03 PM
[Markets] Von Greyerz: 'What A Bloody Mess!' Von Greyerz: 'What A Bloody Mess!'

Authored by Egon von Greyerz via,


What a bloody mess! Well, economic collapses and wars always are.

But sadly it will become a lot messier!

We now have two dangerous wars, maybe we will have a global war. We have a coming collapse of stock markets and debt markets and a banking system which probably will not survive in its present form. 

But there is always another side of the coin.

There will be opportunities of a lifetime not just to preserve your wealth but also to amass an incredible fortune. More later. 


Oil and gold are best friends.

As the chart of the Gold – Oil ratio for 50 years shows, below, gold and oil move very much in tandem within a narrow range.

So if oil now goes up due to the Middle East crisis, gold will follow. 


As if all the above wasn’t bad enough, adding a Middle East war to this makes the crisis properly global and the step toward a Global or World War is very short even dangerously short

We thought we had enough trouble with climate change, ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), wokeness with 27 genders and canceling history, forced vaccines and lockdowns, high taxes, high inflation and debt that can never be repaid. 

Hard to understand what happened to the world since I was born 78 years ago. 

Add to that incompetent governments in the entire Western World and not a single statesman around. All of that is more than most people can cope with. 

The US government and Biden have no policy, no ideology. They have also lost their manufacturing base and their military power is declining rapidly. 

On top of that, the US is also spending money like a drunken sailor who will never sober up but only spend or drink more to drown his ever increasing debts and sorrows. 

And then we started to get used to the “local” war in Ukraine which the poor Ukrainians could never win against a superpower. 

We are now talking about the greatest uncertainties in my 78 year lifetime which started at the end of WWII 1945. 

No one can predict where the current two wars will lead, although our worst fears can sadly be realised sooner than anyone could believe. 

At this stage we cannot say if these crises will lead to a major destruction of the fabric of the world and the death of many, many people. 

But what we can say with much greater certainty is that economic and financial risk is now at a level which is likely to lead to the destruction of wealth on a level never before seen in history. 

I was born right in between the end of WWII in Europe and before it ended in the Far East. So I naturally don’t remember anything from that era. My father was an officer in the Swedish army at the time and Sweden unofficially assisted Norway which was occupied by the Germans.

But I can well remember my early life in Sweden which was a prosperous and stable country with a homogenous population. The 1950s were a period when church doors were open and the church silver could be left unprotected. Today, the copper roof, the gates and anything of value is long gone. Obviously the silver is either locked in or stolen. Police and teachers were greatly respected with ethical and moral values very high. Now people swear and spit at them.

But the stability of the early 1950s (except for the Korean War) soon led to wars in Vietnam, Middle East etc with the invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Yom Kippur in 1973 being the first Palestine conflict I can remember. Petrol prices in the UK where I lived at the time were 7.5 pence per litre. 

That was the first major oil crisis I experienced. Today petrol in the UK is £1.90 per litre and unlikely to stay that low for long. But a 26X increase in the last 50 years of petrol (US gasoline) is probably going to be seen as a bargain in a few years time. 

let’s start with your most important decision which you need to take toDAY 

Buy as much physical gold as you can afford and then buy much more.

We have warned investors for some time that the Everything Bubble will turn into the Everything Collapse

Well that time is now coming very soon. 

The current pattern of the Dow looks very similar to October 1987. If that is correct, a stock market crash could be imminent. 

Stocks will be down 70-90% or more, in real terms, before this crisis ends.

Most bonds will become worthless, even Sovereign bonds. 

Higher rates and defaults will see to that. 

So get out of all general stock and all bond investments if you want to have any money left at the end of the coming calamity. 

Interest rates will continue the long term, 20-30 year uptrend, obviously with corrections. No one will want to lend to a drunken sailor who can never get sober. Defaults and a banking crisis will lead to higher debts and higher rates. But the US with record borrowings can’t afford the rising interest costs. The dollar will be sacrificed. 

So in all a perfect but vicious debt and currency cycle leading to guaranteed perdition. 

The only question is how long it takes. 


We have been advising investors to hold important amounts of physical gold for wealth preservation purposes since the beginning of 2002. Since that time gold is up 6-8 times in most major currencies and much more in weaker currencies. 

But as I keep telling colleagues and investors, gold’s real journey hasn’t started yet

What I often tell our clients is that they mustn’t wish for gold to go up substantially.

Because when gold goes to the levels which I now feel certain it will, the quality of our lives will be considerably worse than today. 

The factors that will fuel gold’s rapid rise to new substantially higher levels are obvious:


It is both fascinating and frightening to follow how regional disputes lead to superpowers quickly taking sides and lobbying or forcing its allies to follow suit. 

There are always two sides to a dispute. One of my very important principles is that before you judge someone, you must walk three moon laps in his moccasins. (An old American Indian saying).  But sadly most people including superpowers totally ignore such advice. The Russian argument is that the Minsk agreement was meant to avoid a deepening of the dispute and should have been followed. The US side is that Russia must be stopped at any price and Germany separated from a dangerous rapprochement with Russia. And Europe was given no choice but to follow the US. 

As Bush Jr said to congress in 2001: 

“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists!”

The sanctions are severely affecting Germany and most of Europe but the worst consequences are still to come this winter. The Middle East conflict is likely to make the consequences exponentially greater. 

Like with all wars, ordinary people on either side don’t want it.  And democracy doesn’t exist when a nation goes to war. Both Ukraine and the US went to war without the consent of either the people or their parliaments. 

THAT IS HOW WARS AND WORLD WARS START – Idiosyncratic leaders with sycophantic lieutenants take erratic decisions without understanding the consequences. 


And when the leader is past his sell by date it makes the whole process utterly dangerous. 

Everybody gets old and I am no spring chicken either. But if for whatever reason I don’t have the wits to resign when I should, I hope that my wife and my team will tell me so.


Even more dangerous when an unaccountable and unidentifiable group takes all the decisions. 


As Heraclitus, the greek philosopher said 2,500 years ago:

“Change is the only constant in life.”

Modern Ukraine was occupied by a number of different people throughout history like the Scythians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Huns and the Slavs as well as the Mongols. Later Poland and Lithuania and the Ottomans were involved. In 1709 the Swedish King Charles the XII lost against Peter the Great of Russia due to the Great Frost (the coldest winter in 500 years) which weakened the Swedish Army just like during the Napoleon and Hitler invasions. 

So Ukraine is hardly a stable country with deep roots and a homogenous people.

The same with Palestine, the Land of Israel, the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity which has been controlled by, among all, Ancient Egypt, the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, Muslim Caliphates, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire after WWI. In 1948, Britain divided the region into Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. 

The history is too long and complex to delve into the details here but suffice it to say that the modern split of the region has created a constant period of dispute (constant change again), misery, wars and deaths. 

No one is prepared to wear the other side’s moccasins and the situation could now escalate to a world war between the Muslim world and the West. This is likely to result not just in a major war but also terrorism around the world. 

Just like in Ukraine, the US and the West are more likely to send money and weapons to the Middle East rather than to peace makers. 

It is unfathomable that the West chooses war over peace. This certainly does not bode well for a peaceful solution to the two conflicts.


Since most wars in modern times involve oil, the current ones are no exception. 

There are two major camps controlling the global oil supply.

Around 22 million barrels of oil go through the Strait of Hormuz between Dubai and Iran. 

It would be virtually impossible to prevent Iran from blocking this area off, stopping all shipments of oil and gas, if necessary with the help of Russia. 

That would turn off 22 million barrels of oil or 23% of global supply. Enough to make the oil price go to $500 – $1,000 and paralyse the world. 


I have since the 1990s been certain that the world economy would end in a debt and currency collapse. That is a very obvious projection since history always repeats itself, or rhymes, and every economic period in history ends this way. 

The difficulty is to time the cycle but as I often stress, exact timing is less important. The key is to prepare early and buy the fire insurance or protection well before the fire starts. 

So whether we call it a Fourth Turning like Neil Howe or a debt and currency collapse like von Mises, the end result is the same and devastating. 

When I discuss my economic scenario most people (but obviously not our clients) call me  pessimist or a prophet of doom and gloom. 

But I am an optimist and consider life to be a wonderful journey. The key is to help other people, family, friends, and clients. Real happiness is making other people happy. It clearly doesn’t always work with people who believe you are a prophet of doom and gloom. But it does work extremely well for people who need help. 

So enjoy life with family, friends, nature, music, books etc for as long as you can. Remember that the quality of your life is determined by how you deal with adversity. 


Our good friend Jim Sinclair died last week of a heart attack. Since the 1970s he has been one of the foremost gold experts in the world. He traded the whole run from $35 in the early 70s to $850 in 1980 where he got out making substantial returns.

Above all Jim was Mr Gold with a superb understanding of the world economy, markets, politics, wealth preservation and of course gold. 

Many people around the world followed his wisdom through his website JS Mineset.

I had the privilege of meeting Jim many times around the world. He was always gracious with his advice and support. He often told investors to “Go to Egon” and posted both my mobile number and private email on his site. At times we were totally inundated with potential clients. He had a tremendous following.

We will miss you greatly, Jim. I know that you wanted to experience the coming surge in gold that took longer than many of us expected. But you always knew that this move was inevitable. Still, your legacy will certainly be with the whole gold community and we will send you thankful thoughts regularly as gold continues to move up.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/19/2023 - 06:30
Published:10/19/2023 5:48:40 AM
[Markets] Some Call It Conspiracy Theory, Part 1 Some Call It Conspiracy Theory, Part 1

Authored by Iain Davis via,

There are certain assumptions that are applied to anyone labelled a “conspiracy theorist”—and all of them are fallacies. Indeed, the term “conspiracy theory” is nothing more than a propaganda construct designed to silence debate and censor opinion on a range of subjects. Most particularly, it is used as a pejorative to marginalise and discredit whoever challenges the pronouncements and edicts of the State and of the Establishment—that is, the public and private entities that control the State and that profit from the State.

Those of us who have legitimate criticisms of government and its institutions and representatives, who are therefore labelled “conspiracy theorists,” face a dilemma. We can embrace the term and attempt to redefine it or we can reject it outright. Either way, it is evident that the people who weaponise the “conspiracy theory” label will continue to use it as long as it serves their propaganda purposes.

One of the most insidious aspects of the “conspiracy theory” fabrication is that the falsehoods associated with the term have been successfully seeded into the public’s consciousness. Often, propagandists need do no more than slap this label on the targeted opinion and the audience will immediately dismiss that viewpoint as a “lunatic conspiracy theory.” Sadly, this knee-jerk reaction is usually made absent any consideration or even familiarity with the evidence presented by that so-called “lunatic conspiracy theorist.”

This was the reason why “conspiracy theorist” label was created. The State and its propagandists do not want the public to even be aware of inconvenient evidence, let alone to examine it. The challenging evidence is buried under the “wild conspiracy theory” label, thereby signalling to the unsuspecting public that they should automatically reject all of the offered facts and evidence.

There are a number of components that collectively form the conspiracy theory canard.

Let’s break them down.

  • First, we have a group of people who supposedly can be identified as conspiracy theorists.

  • Second, we have the allegation that all conspiracy theorists share an underlying psychological weakness.

  • Third, conspiracy theory is said to threaten democracy by undermining “trust” in democratic institutions.

  • Fourth, conspiracy theorists are purportedly prone to extremism and potential radicalisation.

  • Fifth, conspiracy theory is accused of not being evidence-based.

According to the legacy media, there’s a link between so-called “conspiracy theory” and the “far right” and “white supremacists.” Guardian columnist George Monbiot, for example, wrote that:

[. . .] conspiracism is fascism’s fuel. Almost all successful conspiracy theories originate with or land with the far right.

Apparently, this is a common belief held by people who imagine that “conspiracy theory” exists in the form they have been told it exists. It is also a bold claim from an alleged journalist. There is no evidence to support Monbiot’s assertion.

Numerous studies have tried to identify the common traits of conspiracy theorists. These studies tend to initially identify their subject cohort simply through opinion surveys. If, for example, someone doesn’t accept the official accounts of 9/11 or the JFK assassination, the researchers label them “conspiracy theorists.”

Probably the largest demographic study of these alleged “conspiracy theorists” was undertaken by political scientists Joseph Uscinski and Joseph Parent for their 2014 book American Conspiracy Theories. They found that “conspiracy theorists” could not be categorised demographically.

Ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, employment and economic status and even political beliefs were not indicative. The only firm trait they could isolate was that conspiracy theorists, so-called, tended to be slightly older than the population average—suggesting, perhaps, that scepticism of State narratives increases with life experiences.

Professor Chris French made this observation, as reported by the BBC in 2019:

When you actually look at the demographic data, belief in conspiracies cuts across social class, it cuts across gender and it cuts across age. Equally, whether you’re on the left or the right, you’re just as likely to see plots against you.

This is not to deny that a minority of conspiracy theories are promoted by people on the far right of the political spectrum. Nor that some on the far left don’t advocate other similar theories. A few “conspiracy theories” can be considered “racist” and/or “antisemitic.” But there is no evidence to support the allegation that “conspiracy theorists,” when compared to the general population, are any more or less likely to hold extreme political beliefs or promote extremist narratives.

George Monbiot is certainly not alone in his views, but his published opinion—namely, that conspiracy theories “originate with or land with the far right”—is complete nonsense. So let’s discard his claim right now as ignorant claptrap.

George Monbiot – claptrap

Monbiot’s allusion to “conspiracism” relates to the alleged psychological problems that supposedly lead people to become “conspiracy theorists.” The “conspiracism” theory is a product of the worst kind of junk science. It is primarily based upon the notoriously flaky discipline of experimental psychology.

One of the seminal papers informing the theory of “conspiracism” is Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories (Wood, Douglas & Sutton, 2012). The researchers asked their “conspiracy theorist” subjects to rate the plausibility of various alleged conspiracy theories. They used a Likert-scale, where 1 is strongly disagree, 4 is neutral, and 7 is strongly agree. Some of the “theories” the subjects were asked to consider were contradictory.

For example, they asked the subjects to rate the plausibility of the notions that Princess Diana was murdered and that she faked her own death. Using this methodology, the researchers concluded:

While it has been known for some time that belief in one conspiracy theory appears to be associated with belief in others, only now do we know that this can even apply to conspiracy theories that are mutually contradictory.

But the researchers did not ask their subjects to exclude mutually contradictory theories—only to rate the plausibility of each individually. Thus, there was nothing in their reported findings to support the conclusion they unscientifically reached.

Subsequent research has highlighted how ludicrous their falsely named “scientific conclusion” was. Yet, despite being roundly disproved, the erroneous assertion that conspiracy theorists believe contradictory theories simultaneously is repeated ad nauseam by the legacy media, politicians and academics alike. It forms just one of the groundless truisms spouted by those who spread the “conspiracism” myth.

One of the most influential scholars—if not the most influential—in the field of conspiracy research is political scientist Joseph Uscinski. Like many other of his peers, he has tried to differentiate between evidence-based knowledge of real or “concrete” conspiracies, such as Iran-Contra or Watergate, and what scientific researchers allege to be the psychologically flawed and evidence-free views held by so-called “conspiracists.”

Uscinski cites the work of Professor Neil Levy as definitive. In Radically Socialized Knowledge and Conspiracy Theories, Levy stated:

The typical explanation of an event or process which attracts the label “conspiracy theory” is an explanation that conflicts with the account advanced by the relevant epistemic authorities. [. . .] A conspiracy theory that conflicts with the official story, where the official story is the explanation offered by the (relevant) epistemic authorities, is prima facie unwarranted. [. . .] It is because the relevant epistemic authorities — the distributed network of knowledge claim gatherers and testers that includes engineers and politics professors, security experts and journalists — have no doubts over the validity of the explanation that we accept it.

Simply put, the scientific definition of “conspiracy theory” is an opinion that conflicts with the official narrative as reported by the “epistemic authorities.” If you question what you are told by the State or by its “official” representatives or by the legacy media, you are a “conspiracy theorist” and, therefore, according to “the Science™,” mentally deranged.

All related “scientific research” on conspiracism and claimed conspiracy theory starts from the assumption that to question the State, the Establishment or the designated “epistemic authorities” is delusional. As hard as this fact may be for many to accept, the effective working definition of “conspiracy theory” in the scientific literature is “an opinion that questions power.”

Clearly, this definition is political, not scientific. The supposed underlying psychology of “conspiracism,” which allegedly induces people to engage in “conspiratorial thinking,” is an assumption stemming from the academic’s political bias in favour of the State and its institutions. It has absolutely no scientific validity.

In his 1949 essay Citizenship and Social Class, sociologist T. H. Marshall examined and defined democratic ideals. He described them as a functioning system of rights. These rights include the right to freedom of thought and expression, including speech, peaceful protest, freedom of religion and belief, equality of justice, equal opportunity under the law, and so on.

Most of us who live in what we call representative democracies are familiar with these concepts. “Rights” and “freedoms” are often touted by our political leaders, academia and the legacy media as the cornerstones of our polity and culture. The entire purpose of representative democracy, it is alleged, is to empower “we the people” to hold decision-makers to account. “Questioning power” is a foundational democratic ideal.

If we accept the working scientific definition of “conspiracy theory,” then its inherent questioning of power and overt challenge to authority embodies perhaps the most important democratic principle of all and forms the bedrock of representative democracy. It is not unreasonable to aver that representative democracy cannot possibly exist without “conspiracy theory”—again, as it is defined in the scientific literature. As we can see, the claim that “conspiracy theory” threatens democratic institutions is without merit.

Representative democracy is not founded on public trust in the State, in its agents or in its representatives. On the contrary, representative democracy is built upon the right of the people to question the State, its agents and its representatives.

Autocracies and dictatorships demand public “trust.” Democracies do not. In a representative democracy, “trust” must first be earned and, through their actions, State institutions must constantly maintain whatever trust the public originally chose to invest in them. Wherever and whenever that “trust” is no longer warranted, the people who live in a democracy are free to question, and ultimately dissolve, State institutions they don’t trust.

Trust is not a democratic principle. Questioning power is.

Consider that, according to State institutions like the United Nations (UN),

Conspiracy theories cause real harm to people, to their health, and also to their physical safety. They amplify and legitimize misconceptions [. . .] and reinforce stereotypes which can fuel violence and violent extremist ideologies.

This is a wholly misleading statement. It is disinformation.

The most violent act imaginable, and the most extreme ideology of all, is war and the all-out commitment to it. Full-scale war is possible only when a State declares it. International war is solely within the purview of one entity: the State. Wars are frequently justified by the State using lies and deception. Furthermore, the ideology of war is unwaveringly promoted by the legacy media on behalf of the State.

To be clear: the UN alleges that when ordinary men and women from across all sectors of society—representing all races, economic classes and political views—exercise their democratic right to question power, they are expressing opinions that “fuel violence and violent extremist ideologies.”

For such an extraordinary, apparently anti-democratic allegation to be considered even remotely plausible, it must be based upon irreproachable evidence. Yet, as we shall see, the UN’s claim is not based on any evidence at all.

In 2016, UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson issued a report to the UN advising its member states on potential policies to counter extremism and terrorism. In his report, Emmerson noted the lack of a clear, agreed-upon definition of “extremism.” He reported that different UN member states defined “extremism” based upon their own political objectives and national interests. There was no single, cogent explanation of the “radicalisation” process. As he put it:

[M]any programmes directed at radicalisation [are] based on a simplistic understanding of the process as a fixed trajectory to violent extremism with identifiable markers along the way. [. . .] There is no authoritative statistical data on the pathways towards individual radicalisation.

A year later, in 2017, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) delivered its report, “Countering Domestic Extremism.” The NAS suggested that domestic “violence and violent extremist ideologies” were the result of a complex interplay between a wide gamut of sociopolitical and economic factors, individual characteristics and life experiences.

The following year, in July 2018, the NAS view was reinforced by a team of researchers from Deakin University in a peer-reviewed article, “The 3 P’s of Radicalisation.” The Deakin scholars collated and reviewed all the available literature they could find on the process of radicalisation that potentially leads to violent extremism. They identified three main drivers: push, pull, and personal factors.

Push factors are the structural factors that propel people towards resentment, such as State repression, relative deprivation, poverty, and injustice. Pull factors are factors that make extremism seem attractive, like ideology, group identity and belonging, group incentives, and so on. Personal factors are individual character traits that make a person more or less susceptible to push or pull. These include psychological disorders, personality traits, traumatic life experiences, and so on.

Presently, the UN maintains that its report, Journey To Extremism in Africa, is “the most extensive study yet on what drives people to violent extremism.” In keeping with all previous research, the Africa report concluded that radicalisation occurs through an intricate combination of influences and life experiences.

The myriad of contributory factors to the radicalisation process according to the UN’s “most extensive study.”

Specifically, the report noted:

We know the drivers and enablers of violent extremism are multiple, complex and context specific, while having religious, ideological, political, economic and historical dimensions. They defy easy analysis, and understanding of the phenomenon remains incomplete.

In its report called “Prevention of Violent Extremism“—published in June 2023—the UN noted that “deaths from terrorist activity have fallen considerably worldwide in recent years.” Yet, in its promotional literature for the same report, the UN claimed that the “rise of violent extremism profoundly threatens human security.”

How can the UN have it both ways? How can it be that a “rise of violent extremism” correlates with a considerable reduction in terrorist activity and associated deaths? This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

And remember that in the Africa report, which the UN currently calls its “most extensive study yet,” the UN acknowledged that the causes of radicalisation “are multiple, complex and context specific” and “defy easy analysis.”

This thoroughly refutes the manifest ease with which the UN proclaims, without cause, that so-called conspiracy theories “fuel violence and violent extremist ideologies.” This begs the question: what on Earth does the UN think “violent extremism” is, if not terrorism?

The bottom line is that, by its own admission, the UN has absolutely no evidence to support any of its “conspiracy theory” assertions. Rather, the UN is simply making up its entire “conspiracism” thesis from whole cloth.

In reality, so-called “conspiracy theorists” are overwhelmingly ordinary people with legitimate opinions that span a wide range of issues. Their opinions do not lead them to adopt extremist ideologies or to commit violent acts. There is no evidence at all to support this widely promulgated contention.

Nor are alleged “conspiracy theorists” a unique group of malcontents with psychological problems. The only defining characteristic these people possess is that they exercise their right to question power.

They do not seek to undermine democracy but, rather, exercise the rights and freedoms that democracy is supposedly based upon. It is this behaviour that the State deems unacceptable and that leads the State and its “epistemic authorities,” including the legacy media, to label them “conspiracy theorists.”

This observation in no way implies that the conspiracy theorists are always right. Conspiracy theories can be bigoted. They can be ridiculous. They may lack supporting evidence. They may cause offence. And they are sometimes just plain wrong. In other words they are just like any other opinion. But, equally, there is nothing inherently inaccurate or dangerous about every opinion labelled “conspiracy theory.”

There is only one way to ascertain if an alleged conspiracy theory is valid or not: examine the evidence. Unfortunately, the conspiracy theory label was created specifically to discourage people from looking at the evidence.

There are countless examples of the conspiracy theory or theorist label being used to hide evidence, obscure facts and deny legitimate concerns.

In Part 2, we will look at a few of these examples and explore the wider geopolitical context in which the conspiracy theory label is deployed.

*  *  *

If you value what Iain does then please consider supporting his work

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/19/2023 - 00:00
Published:10/18/2023 11:25:05 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:10/18/2023 8:17:45 AM
[Markets] BofA Reports Best Ever Q3 Earnings Even As Held-To-Maturity Losses Soar By $26 BIllion To Record HiIgh BofA Reports Best Ever Q3 Earnings Even As Held-To-Maturity Losses Soar By $26 BIllion To Record HiIgh

Bank of America, the second largest US bank, was the latest big money-center bank to report earnings this morning, and in keeping the trend started by JPM, Wells and Citi last Friday, it not only beat expectations, but reported Q3 numbers that were the strongest in at least seven years as net interest income topped analysts’ estimates as the lender continues to reap the benefits of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes and market swings.

Here are the highlights:

  • Q3 revenue $25.17BN, up 3% YoY from $24.5BN and beating exp. of $24.94BN
  • Q3 EPS $0.90, up 11% YoY from $0.81, and beating exp. of $0.82

“We added clients and accounts across all lines of business,” CEO Brian Moynihan said adding that "we did this in a healthy but slowing economy that saw US consumer spending still ahead of last year but continuing to slow.”

Looking at the bank's Q3, here too it beat expectations across the board

  • Return on average equity 11.2%, estimate 10.2%
  • Return on average assets 0.99%, estimate 0.89%
  • Return on average tangible common equity 15.5%, estimate 14%
  • Basel III common equity Tier 1 ratio fully phased-in, advanced approach 13.5%, estimate 13.2%
  • Standardized CET1 ratio 11.9%, estimate 11.7%
  • Efficiency ratio 62.6%, estimate 62.9%

We'll look at BofA's non-interest income in a second but first this is how the bank took advantage of its massive balance sheet:

  • BofA reported net interest income of $14.53BN, up from $13.9BN a year ago and beating estimates of $14.22BN.
    • BofA's Net interest yield of 2.11% increased 5 bps YoY and also increased 5 bps from 2Q23 and also beating the 2.06% median estmate; Excluding GM, net interest yield dropped from 2.65%  to 2.64%

Looking at the bank's charge offs, which will be a closely watched topic since Bank of America has one of the highest carried Held to Maturity losses of all banks, the bank reported net charge-offs of $931 million, below the estimate of $995.4 million while the provision for credit losses rose to $1.23 billion, but below the estimate $1.3 billion. Unlike JPM, BofA actually built reserves for future losses to the tune of $303 billion, "driven primarily by credit cards" which together with CRE is emerging as the biggest threat to the financial system. Some more details:

  • Total net charge-offs of $931MM increased $62MM from 2Q23, but below the estimate $995.4 million
    • Consumer net charge-offs of $804MM increased $84MM, driven primarily by higher credit card losses
    • Credit card loss rate of 2.72% in 3Q23 vs. 2.60% in 2Q23; 4Q19 pre-pandemic loss rate of 3.03%
    • Commercial net charge-offs of $127MM decreased $22MM, driven by lower losses in Commercial Real Estate
  • Net charge-off ratio of 0.35% increased 2 bps from 2Q23 and remained below pre-pandemic levels; 4Q19 NCO ratio 0.39%
  • Provision for credit losses of $1.2B;
    • Net reserve build of $303MM in 3Q23, driven primarily by credit card
  • Allowance for loan and lease losses of $13.3B represented 1.27% of total loans and leases
    • Total allowance of $14.6B included $1.4B for unfunded commitments

Some more details:

  • Nonperforming loans (NPLs) increased $0.7B from 2Q23, to $4.8B, driven primarily by Commercial Real Estate
  • Commercial reservable criticized utilized exposure of $23.7B increased $2.3B from 2Q23, driven primarily by Commercial Real Estate

And another way to visualize the deteriorating credit card and CRE trends on the BofA balance sheet.

Of course,  the one line item everyone will be asking about is the bank's $131.6BN in HTM losses, which increased by $26BN from last quarter and is now the highest in BofA history!

Another look at the balance sheet reveals average loans and leases of $1.05 trillion, in line with the estimate of $1.05 trillion...

... while deposits were unchanged at $1.88 trillion, above the estimate of $1.77 trillion, but down from $1.96 trillion a year ago.

As has been the case lately, every bank is finally doing what we have been showing since 2012 when JPM's excess deposits led to the London Whale disaster, and is disclosing how it is handling its "excess deposits over loans" which these days are mostly parked in deeply underwater (but HTM) treasuries. Here are the details:

  • Deposits in excess of loans grew from $0.4T in 3Q19 and peaked at $1.1T in 4Q21; remained above $0.8T in 3Q23
  • Excess deposits stored in cash and investment securities
    • 53% HTM and 47% cash and AFS in 3Q23
    • Cash levels remained well above pre-pandemic levels ($157B in 3Q19)
  • AFS securities mostly hedged with floating rate swaps; duration less than 0.5 years and marked through AOCI1 and regulatory capital
  • Invested net $33B in short-term US Treasuries in 3Q23
  • HTM securities were $603 billion; these declined $80B since peaking at $683B in 3Q21; down $40B vs. 3Q22 and $11B vs. 2Q23. This is where all the deeply underwater TSY and MBS holdings are found.
    • MBS  of $474B down $11B vs. 2Q23; $129B UST / other flat
    • Valuation declined 13% vs. 3Q22, as mortgage rates ended 3Q23 at highest level in almost 23 years

Turning to BofA's Global Markets trading desk, the bank reported trading revenue ex DVA at $4.42BN, up 8% and beating the $4.16BN expected.

  • FICC trading revenue excluding DVA $2.72 billion, beating estimates of $2.62 billion, and above the $2.57BN from a year ago, "driven by improved trading in credit and mortgage products, partially offset by weaker trading in currencies and rates"
  • Equities trading revenue excluding DVA $1.70 billion, also beating estimates of $1.54 billion, and also above the $1.54BN from a year ago, "driven primarily by an increase in client financing activities"
  • The average VaR dropped notably from 117 a year ago and 76 in Q2 to just 69 in Q3
  • On the expense side of the ledger, noninterest expense in global market, of $3.2B increased 7% vs. 3Q22, driven by investments in the business, including people and technology.

Taking a quick look at the company's expenses, BofA reported that non-interest expenses rose 3.5% from a year earlier to $15.8 billion. Costs have been a focal point for investors, with persistent inflation putting pressure on spending and spurring wage growth. Analysts had expected a 3.3% increase. Broken down, compensation and benefits rose to $9.55 billion from $9.4 billion, above the estimated $9.34 billion; Other expenses dropped from $6.6BN to $6.3BN, resulting in an efficiency ratio of 63%, down from 64% but up from 62% a year ago.

The stronger than expected results offered another look at how US consumers and businesses are faring as the Fed leaves borrowing costs higher for longer than economists had predicted. Last week, JPM, Wells Fargo and Citi beat analysts’ expectations for net interest income and raised their forecasts for the remainder of the year.

Shares of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank which were down 19% this year through Monday, rose 0.7% to $27.19 at 8 a.m. in early New York trading as attention has yet to turn to the aggressive deterioration in the bank's books.

The company's full Q3 presentation is below (pdf link)

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/17/2023 - 08:13
Published:10/17/2023 7:31:10 AM
[Markets] The Greatest Hoax Of All Time The Greatest Hoax Of All Time

Authored by 'Mr. E' via,

Follow Mr. E on Substack and Twitter!

It should come as no surprise to anyone following my work when I say that both mainstream and alternative media are, to a very large extent, part of the controlled dialectic put forth by the ruling class. It helps to maintain a division of society, promulgated by useful idiots and true believers of either side’s dogma.

Malcolm X’s famous quote applies:

The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.

It behooves everyone to have a healthy skepticism of whatever they hear no matter the outlet. But even more concerning to you is when they all begin to push the same narrative. In this report you’re going to see just how much effort some are willing to exert in the maintenance of a popular scapegoat – the Freemasons.

In the days following the breakout of violence in Israel and Gaza Greg Reese, producer of the popular Reese Report, published a video outlining the contents of a letter allegedly written by Freemason Albert Pike on August 15, 1871. The very same letter was reported on in rapid succession by mainstream outlets The Daily Star, Daily Mail,, and in 2016. A South African newspaper also reported on it in 2013.

All these reports make mention that this letter “allegedly” exists, but none went so far as to even attempt to confirm this. They didn’t investigate the sources, and merely uncritically repeated something that appeared too good to be true.

The Devil in the Nineteenth Century

We must go back over 130 years to get to the bottom of this story, and it all begins in France with a man named Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, better known as Léo Taxil. Born in 1854 he was placed in Jesuit seminary school, where he came to be disillusioned with the Catholic faith and religion in general.

Léo Taxil circa 1880, from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Eventually becoming a writer, he targeted Christianity with scathing critiques such as The Holy Pornographers: Confession and Confessors and The Pope’s Mistresses. He even ventured into satirical pieces like The Life of Jesus, making a mockery of the immaculate conception, and The Amusing Bible. In 1884 he wrote The Secret Loves of Pope Pius IX, which is exactly what the salacious title suggests and eventually led to accusations of libel.

Also in 1884, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical on Freemasonry where he declared:

The race of man, after its miserable fall from God … separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth … The other is the kingdom of Satan … At every period of time each has been in conflict with the other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons and of warfare, although not always with equal ardour and assault. At this period, however, the partisans of evil seems to be combining together, and to be struggling with united vehemence, led on or assisted by that strongly organized and widespread association called the Freemasons. No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself. They are planning the destruction of holy Church publicly and openly, and this with the set purpose of utterly despoiling the nations of Christendom, if it were possible, of the blessings obtained for us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Perhaps swayed by this polemic, Taxil announced he had converted back to Catholicism in 1885 and set to work on an entirely different literary endeavor with a new target, the Freemasons. Over the next several years he published Les Mystères de la Franc-Maçonnerie, a four-volume history of Freemasonry containing curious-but-unsourced accounts of eyewitness’s participation in strange rites. The books were sensational and Taxil even had an audience with Pope Leo XIII himself to congratulate him on all his good works exposing the dastardly plans of the Freemasons.

The best was yet to come, however, when he teamed up with Dr. Karl Hacks to write the two-volume Le Diable au XIXe Siècle, published in 1892 and 1894, telling the insider tale of one Diana Vaughan in the words of Doctor Bataille. The lurid details of her account boggle the mind. She was a member of the Palladium Rite, under the command of Albert Pike, where she was involved in ritual orgies and blood sacrifices. They would summon demons in physical form, and she was even betrothed to one of them.

Chapter 25 of the second volume is entitled “Plan of the Secret Chiefs,” and it purportedly contains the text of a plan written on August 15, 1871, by Albert Pike and the leadership of the Palladium Rite, detailing their plan for the destruction of Roman Catholicism. The description of the final coup-de-grace contains a paragraph that has gone on to be legend:

Therefore, when the autocratic Empire of Russia will become the citadel of papist adonaism, we shall unleash the revolutionary nihilists and atheists, and provoke a formidable social cataclysm, which will demonstrate clearly to the nations, in all its horror, the effect of absolute unbelief, mother of savagery and of the bloodiest disorder. Then everywhere, the citizens, obliged to defend themselves against the mad minority of revolutionaries, will exterminate these destroyers of civilization; and the countless disillusioned adonaites, whose deist soul have up until that time remained without a compass, thirsting for an ideal, but not knowing which God is worthy of tribute, will receive the True Light, by the universal manifestation of the pure Luciferian doctrine, at last made public, an event that will arise from a reactionary movement following the destruction of atheism and adonaism, together at the same time vanquished and exterminated.

Catholics fell in love with Taxil’s work, and a Catholic journalist by the name of Abel Clarin de la Rive became friends with Taxil, believing unreservedly in his revelations about the Masonic threat the Church faced. Taxil authorized de la Rive to publish a quote by Albert Pike alleged by Diana Vaughan, Taxil’s whistleblower, in his 1894 book La Femme et l’Enfant Dans la Franc-Maçonnerie Universelle:

That which we must say to the world is that we worship a god, but it is the god that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees: The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him?

Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods; darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue, and the brake to the locomotive.

Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil.

The assault upon Freemasonry drew intense criticism from their ranks, as well as from other esoteric societies. In 1896 Arthur Edward Waite, a British poet and mystic who wrote extensively on the occult, published Devil Worship in France, a comprehensive refutation of Taxil’s allegations.

By 1897 everyone was becoming impatient with Taxil, whose stories had been growing ever more radical and grotesque. They wanted to meet Diana Vaughan, in person, and Taxil eventually obliged.

The Confession

On the evening of April 19, 1897, Taxil held a press conference at the Hall of the Geographic Society in Paris. Many reporters, Catholic priests, Freemasons, monks, and other illustrious figures from around the world were in attendance. After raffling off a typewriter used by Diana Vaughan (the winner being M. Ali Kental, Editor of Ikdam, at Constantinople), Léo Taxil finally addresses his audience.

He reveals there is no Dr. Karl Hacks, there is no Dr. Bataille, there is no Diana Vaughan, there is no Palladium Rite.

“There wasn’t the least masonic plot in this story,” he says, and denies that his conversion to Catholicism was in earnest – all part of the prank, to win the Church’s trust and approbation. Diana Vaughan was a real person, but she was only his typist and collaborator in this colossal fraud designed to deeply embarrass the Catholic Church and become the crown jewel of his anti-clerical work.

Slandering Freemasons was the best way to establish the foundations of the colossal prank of which I savored all the suave happiness in advance. – Léo Taxil

After explaining in immense detail how everything he published on Freemasonry over the last 12 years was a monumental hoax, Taxil concludes his press conference saying, “You were told that Palladism would be knocked down today, better still, it is annihilated, it is no more,” and that “Palladism is now dead for good. Its father just murdered it.” The audience erupts calumniously, with Catholics hissing and screaming, a priest mounts a chair to try and maintain order, and it becomes obvious why Taxil had the attendees check their walking sticks at the door – some would certainly have beaten him to death on the spot.

They ought to have known better, though, as Taxil’s extensive use of the Baphomet throughout the entirety of his hoax was a dead giveaway that not all was as it seemed. Created several decades prior by another Frenchman, Éliphas Lévi, it was clearly stated in the book in which it first appeared that it was not a representation of a demon or the devil, but something far more complex and esoteric. Ultimately, it was Lévi’s attempt at rehabilitating the image of the extinct Knights Templar, who were massacred by the Catholic Church in the year 1312 after a campaign of blood libel, and false confessions obtained by gruesome tortures. Nevertheless, it found great use being circulated by others like Taxil and de la Rive as a demonic idol.

The shock of Taxil’s confession, the entirety of which was published in Parisian newspaper Le Frondeur on April 25, 1897, rocked the world. The same day Le Père Peinard, a weekly Parisian journal for anarchists, published a detailed recounting of the event.

Here is but a sampling of other stories published about Taxil’s infamous confession:

Taxil further elaborated on the intentions behind his grand hoax in a 1906 interview in Volume XXIV of The National Magazine:

The public made me what I am; the arch-liar of the period, for when I first commenced to write against the Masons my object was amusement pure and simple. The crimes I laid at their door were so grotesque, so impossible, so widely exaggerated, I thought everybody would see the joke and give me credit for originating a new line of humor. But my readers wouldn’t have it so; they accepted my fables as gospel truth, and the more I lied for the purpose of showing that I lied, the more convinced became they that I was a paragon of veracity.

Then it dawned upon me that there was lots of money in being a Munchausen of the right kind, and for twelve years I gave it to them hot and strong, but never too hot. When inditing such slush as the story of the devil snake who wrote prophecies on Diana’s back with the end of his tail, I sometimes said to myself: “Hold on, you are going too far,” but I didn’t. My readers even took kindly to the yarn of the devil who, in order to marry a Mason, transformed himself into a crocodile, and, despite the masquerade, played the piano wonderfully well.

One day when lecturing at Lille, I told my audience that I had just had an apparition of Nautilus, the most daring affront on human credulity I had so far risked. But my hearers never turned a hair. “Hear ye, the doctor has seen Nautulius,” they said with admiring glances. Of course no one had a clear idea of who Nautilus was, I didn’t myself, but they assumed that he was a devil.

Ah, the jolly evenings I spent with my fellow authors hatching out new plots, new, unheard of perversions of truth and logic, each trying to outdo the other in organized mystification. I thought I would kill myself laughing at some of the things proposed, but everything went; there is no limit to human stupidity.

Taxil would die ten months later in March 1907. In November of the same year the Sydney-based Catholic Press published an anonymous letter eulogizing Taxil as “The World’s Worst Liar,” and that he had “died despised by those who had known him and by the great world he had cheated,” while calling him a “horrible buffoon,” whose “thrilling fairy tale under the guise of fact took the Catholic world by storm.” More accurately, however, they also called his hoax “the most successful fraud of the nineteenth century,” something Taxil certainly would have taken as a compliment.

It was Taxil’s intent to exploit people’s tendency towards confirmation bias in his hoax, which had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. However, what he didn’t foresee was that the egos of his victims were so big that they would carry on pushing his fabrications as if nothing had happened. Confession or not, it had to be true.

The World in Chaos

With World War I kicking off in 1914, followed by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, people were scrambling for a coherent explanation of why so much chaos was being sown around the world. In 1920 a book called The Cause of World Unrest emerged attempting to explain it all. It was an anonymous compilation of essays originally published in the London Morning Post in July of the same year.

In one of the essays we find Taxil’s magisterial hoax cited as truth, describing the chapter already mentioned above from Le Diable au XIXe Siècle about the written plan drawn up on August 15, 1871 by the fictitious Palladian Rite for global destruction. A familiar paragraph from the so-called plan is reproduced in The Cause:

That is why, when the autocratic Empire of Russia will have become the citadel of Papal Christianity (adonaisme papiste), we shall unchain the revolutionary Nihilists and Atheists, and we shall provoke a formidable social cataclysm, which will demonstrate clearly to the nations, in all its horror, the effect of absolute unbelief, mother of savagery and of the most bloody disorder. Then, everywhere, the citizens, obliged to defend themselves against the mad minority of revolutionaries, will exterminate these destroyers of civilization, and the multitude, disillusioned of Christianity, whose deist soul will up to that moment be without compass, thirsting for an ideal, but not knowing where to bestow their worship, will receive the True Light, by the universal manifestation of the pure Luciferian doctrine, at last made public, a manifestation which will arise from the general movement of reaction following the destruction of Atheism and Christianity, both at the same time vanquished and exterminated.

There is no mention of Taxil’s sensational confession in the pages preceding or following the reproduction of this part of the hoax. It does say in The Cause that this quote and the document it allegedly comes from could be a hoax, but that it nevertheless is quite prophetic.

But was it really? The rising tide of revolutionary socialism in the late 19th century was surely no stranger to Taxil. Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto had been in circulation for decades prior to Taxil creating the hoax, and bloody revolution was already being openly discussed. It was only a matter of where it would first emerge, and popular locations for that had already been determined to be Russia or Germany.

The Cause would go on to be used in the 1925 book called The Mystery of Freemasonry Unveiled, published by Cardinal Caro y Rodriguez of Chile. In it, the Cardinal uncritically repeats what he found in The Cause, reproducing verbatim the same paragraph from Taxil’s hoax. How a Catholic Cardinal would not know this was a fabrication is surprising seeing that he would have been nearly thirty years old at the time of Taxil’s confession and by then already an ordained priest.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/16/2023 - 23:55
Published:10/16/2023 11:16:25 PM
[Books] Mearsheimer’s Rationality

Despite the obvious general interest of any further commentary on the Ukraine crisis from Mearsheimer, How States Think is about as inside baseball as pop-academic books come.

The post Mearsheimer’s Rationality appeared first on The American Conservative.

Published:10/15/2023 11:05:10 PM
[Uncategorized] Project Veritas Sues To Get Copyrights On James O’Keefe’s Books

First Amended Complaint adds new claim: "Project Veritas is entitled to a declaration that it is the real copyright holder in Breakthrough, American Pravda, and American Muckraker," and wants "disgorging all income received by O'Keefe" from those books.

The post Project Veritas Sues To Get Copyrights On James O’Keefe’s Books first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:10/15/2023 9:12:45 PM
[Markets] 5 Signs That Gold Will Increasingly Flow To The East 5 Signs That Gold Will Increasingly Flow To The East

Authored by Ronni Stoeferle via,

The reshaping of the world economy and the global (political) order is in full swing.

It is a long process, the concrete outcome of which is uncertain in advance and associated with numerous imponderables. Nevertheless, there are powerful factors, such as the shift in economic, demographic and military weight, that are driving the readjustment in the (geo)political arena. And this readjustment is also reflected in the change in gold flows. They are increasingly shifting from West to East, since “Gold goes where the money is,” as James Steel pointedly put it.

1. The central banks of the states of the East are among the strongest buyers of gold – also within the West

This is also reflected in the continuing enthusiasm of central banks for gold, especially in non-Western countries. 2022 saw the largest purchases of gold by central banks since records began more than 70 years ago, at 1,136 tons. The first half of 2023 saw a continuation of this trend. Despite a weaker second quarter, central bank purchases in the first half of the year set a new half-year record. Central banks increased their gold reserves by a total of 378 tons from January to June. The previous half-year record from 2019 was thus slightly exceeded. China made the largest purchases, followed by Singapore, Poland, India and the Czech Republic. So even in the West, it was countries in the East that made additional purchases.

The following chart shows the extent to which institutional demand for gold has shifted to the East. It compares the cumulative gold sales of Western central banks with the cumulative gold purchases of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO or SOC) since 2001.

Looking at the BRICS, we also see a striking overlap, with central banks from four of the five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – buying a cumulative 2,932 tonnes of gold over 2010–2022.

2. Holdings of US Treasuries are reduced

In turn, the BRICS continue to reduce their share of the soaring US government debt. In other words, gold is becoming more and more interesting as a reserve asset because US Treasuries have been becoming less and less interesting as a currency reserve for more than a decade. The militarization of money by freezing Russia’s foreign exchange reserves just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022 added emphasis to this process, but did not kick it off.

The BRICS now hold only 4.1 percent of all US government debt, compared with 10.4 percent in January 2012. That is a decline of more than 60 percent. The rest of the world has reduced its exposure to US government debt by much less. In January 2012, the rest of the world held 22.0 percent of all US government debt on their books; currently, they hold 19.3 percent. That is a decrease of more than 12 percent.

3. The East is expanding its infrastructure for gold trading

However, the East is not only stocking up on gold and mining gold itself on a large scale. China and Russia have ranked among the top 3 gold producing nations for years.

Countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates and even Russia are expanding their gold trading infrastructure. This is to establish a permanent infrastructure for the detour of gold trading from gold trading centers in the West such as London, New York and Zurich. This testifies to the changing understanding of roles: The East increasingly no longer sees itself as a customer of Western infrastructures, but offers the infrastructure itself.

Key developments include:

  • SGE & SFO NRA: Cooperation between the Chinese and Russian gold markets

For some time now, China and Russia have been working hard to link their gold markets through cooperation between the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) and the Russian financial authority, the National Financial Association (NFA). The NFA is a Russian professional association representing the entire Russian financial sector, including the Russian precious metals market.

In the face of Western sanctions, Russian gold exports to China have already surged since mid-2022. As three Russian banks – VTB, Sberbank and Otkritie – are already members of the SGE International Board of the SGE, which was founded in 2014, this cooperation between the gold markets of Russia and China is likely to intensify in the future.

  • Memberships in gold-related institutions

As gold flows from west to east and the importance of eastern gold markets increases, these markets will also have greater representation and influence in the global institutions that represent the gold market, such as the LBMA and the World Gold Council (WGC).

In 2009, only six Chinese refineries were on the LBMA’s Good Delivery List, but now there are thirteen. While just 15 years ago there was only one regular (full) member of the LBMA from China, the Bank of China, there are now seven. China’s growing influence is also reflected in the World Gold Council. In February 2009, only one Chinese gold producer was a member of the WGC; now there are four.

  • India International Bullion Exchange (IIBX)

In addition to its sophisticated OTC gold trading market, India has also established a trading infrastructure for gold futures contracts on the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX). In July 2022, the India International Bullion Exchange (IIBX), supported by the Indian government, was officially opened for trading spot gold contracts backed by physical metal. IIBX is located in a special economic zone in GIFT City in the Indian state of Gujarat, and the gold underlying the contracts is stored there. One goal of IIBX is to allow qualified buyers to import gold directly into India without the need for banks or authorized agencies. So far, however, trading volumes have been minimal.

  • Establishment of a Moscow World Standard

At the end of February 2022, when sanctions against Russia were imposed by the West immediately after the start of the Ukraine war, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) excluded the three Russian banks VTB, Sovkombank and Otkritie. A few days later, the LBMA removed all six Russian precious metals refiners from the LBMA Good Delivery List and the CME Group followed suit, removing the same refiners from the list of approved COMEX refiners.

As a result, Moscow announced in July 2022 that a new infrastructure for precious metals trading independent of the LBMA and COMEX would be established. According to Moscow, this is intended to break the supremacy of London and New York in global precious metals pricing. This proposal calls for the introduction of a Moscow World Standard (MWS) for precious metals trading, similar to the LBMA’s Good Delivery List, the establishment of a new international precious metals exchange in Moscow based on the MWS, the Moscow International Precious Metals Exchange, and the creation of a new gold price fixing based on the MWS so as to establish gold prices and reference prices different from those of the LBMA and COMEX.

4. Private gold demand shifts to the east

EAST’S increased interest in gold is also evident in the non-governmental sector. Chinese consumer demand, for example, increased from 292.6 tons to 824.9 tons (2022) since the turn of the millennium. This is an increase of 181%. Annual consumer demand in India has also increased since the turn of the millennium, albeit from an already high level in 2000. China and India, which together accounted for only 28.7% of consumer demand in 2000, account for almost half of global consumer demand (48.4%) in 2022 and together acquired 1,600 tons of gold last year.

Source: World Gold Council, Incrementum AG

Recent developments point in the same direction. In the first eight months of the current year, Asian gold ETFs increased their holdings by 7.7%, while North America and Europe recorded outflows of 2.3% and 6.1%, respectively. Significantly, in the bars and coins demand segment, Turkey and Iran replaced Germany and Switzerland in the top 5 in the first half of the year. China now leads this sub-segment of gold demand – in the first half of 2022, Germany was still in the lead – followed by Turkey, the US, India and Iran. This is because while demand for bars and coins in Turkey shot up from 9.5 tons to 47.6 tons in the second quarter of 2023, it fell by around three quarters in Germany.

5. The price of gold in currencies of the East has increased significantly

As of the end of September, gold was 14.6% higher in Indian rupees than at the beginning of 2022, 18.0% higher in Chinese renminbi, 34.3% higher in Russian rubles, 22.1% higher in South African rand (all left-hand side) and 114.0% higher in Turkish lira (right-hand side). Gold thus impressively demonstrates its value-preserving properties in difficult (geo)political and macroeconomic situations in these countries.

The significantly increased premium on the gold price in China since July is an unmistakable sign that there is a structural shortage of gold in the Chinese market and thus an expression of the strong demand for gold in the Middle Kingdom, which is struggling with profound economic problems.


This shift in demand from West to East can be observed not only among governments or government-related entities, but also among institutional and private investors. Gold is flowing to where it is most valued and where economic prosperity and savings rates have increased. In the medium term, the shift in demand should therefore find support from the higher growth prospects in Asia and the Middle East. “Ohne Geld, ka Musi” (“Without money, no music”) – this is how the vernacular formulates this economic truism in German. And as the IMF’s most recent economic growth forecast indicates, the sub-region of emerging and developing Asia will grow at a projected 5.2% this year and 4.8% next year, while the West will grow much less strongly. This will also lead to a shift in influence on pricing from West to East.

Tyler Durden Sun, 10/15/2023 - 10:30
Published:10/15/2023 10:34:37 AM
[Entertainment] How the creator of ‘Maus’ became an unlikely book challenge warrior Art Spiegelman, the lauded creator of the Pulitzer-winning Holocaust memoir “Maus,” shares why illustrated books are such a target for removals. Published:10/13/2023 9:08:42 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:10/11/2023 8:31:53 AM
[] The Left Wants You to Think the Right Wants to Censor Everybody Published:10/10/2023 4:44:24 PM
[Markets] The Many Flavors Of Doom The Many Flavors Of Doom

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Change the incentives and feedback loops and you change the flavor of Doom we're about to be served.

There are many flavors of Doom, and new flavors are being introduced at a dizzying rate. We've gone from chocolate and vanilla (thermonuclear war and mass starvation) to if not quite 31 flavors, certainly a colorful array of options.

Climate change has been quite the rage (ahem), but war is rapidly increasing its share of the doom mindspace.

The competition includes both ends of the spectrum: Doom Porn and Empty Optimism. On the Doom Porn end, there's the crowd favorites (Zombie Apocalypse, nuclear war Apocalypse, climate Apocalypse, etc.) which feature the complete collapse of human civilization, and on the other end, the magical thinking of Empty Optimism, which features fantasies of everyone flitting about in electrified car-helicopters and abundance so cheap that it's basically free to the entire world.

The reason why the flavors of Doom are enduringly popular is human history offers a plentitude of examples of collapse and very few of abundance so cheap that it's basically free. Civilizations tend to expand up to the carrying capacity of available resources, and then something or other slides down the slippery slope and resources are no longer available at prices that are affordable to the masses.

I've often recommended books exploring the dynamics of decline / collapse, including:

The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History

The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization

Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History (2016)

End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration (2023)

The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire

The Collapse of Complex Societies

Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

The Fall of the Roman Empire

The fall of the Roman Empire: a new history of Rome and the Barbarians

Global Crisis: War, Climate Change, & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

There are many others, of course, but these ten offer a fairly comprehensive overview of historically grounded Doom.

Two things are generally overlooked in Doom Porn: feedback loops and self-interest. Collapse doesn't serve the interests of everyone enjoying the relative security of stability, and so they will devote themselves to staving off collapse. As for feedback, collapse tends to occur when the forces of positive feedback--feedback that is self-reinforcing--overwhelms negative feedback--feedback that arises in response to positive feedback. For example, higher concentrations of CO2 cause higher rates of growth in flora, which increases their uptake of CO2.

In human history, collapse often seems to occur as self-reinforcing positive feedback or polycrisis overwhelm the system's buffers and stabilizing efforts. I discussed the role of polycrisis in Western Rome's collapse in Why Rome Collapsed: Lessons For the Present (8/11/23, first sent to subscribers).

To reduce costs, systems are optimized for a specific set of conditions and challenges. Redundancy has a cost, but the value of redundancy (for example, having two eyes) far outweighs the modest expense. On the other hand, we don't place two engines in vehicles in case one fails because the cost is simply too high and the payoff too meager.

The same is true of buffers such as stores of grain and energy, cash in savings accounts, etc. Buffers tend to be maintained for "normal" drawdowns / crises: levees are maintained for "normal" floods, for example, and the sacrificing of consumption to build up cash savings is limited to stashing enough cash to tide the entity / household through a "normal" drawdown.

The longer the "good times" of stability and a scarcity of crises, the greater the pressure to further reduce redundancies and buffers. Why maintain a full reserve of grain, energy, water, etc. when it's never tapped? And so the pleasures and conveniences of consumption today override the expensive prudence of reserves.

Institutional expertise in dealing with polycrisis also atrophies as the experienced managers retire. The Old Breed who had actually managed the chaotic response to polycrisis are gone and so the institutional memory of that experience has faded.

Instead, managers do more of what's failing, not only because their experience is that "this will be enough to solve the crisis" but also because any larger, more comprehensive response will demand sacrifices of financially-politically powerful constituencies who will resist making any sacrifices until it's too late.

In other words, clinging to the magical thinking that a modest, no-sacrifices-necessary response will be enough to restore stability is a core cause of collapse. This is of course an extremely compelling form of denial, a topic I recently explored in The Peculiar Power of Denial (9/18/23): we don't want to deal with chaotic multiple crises, so we wave a magic wand and declare that a "normal" response will be enough, blind to the potential of the tepid "normal" response to make things even more destabilized and precarious.

In my book Global Crisis, National Renewal, I argue that no nation clinging to the current waste is growth / landfill economy will survive the emergent global polycrisis. Only those nations that embrace a set of values other than maximizing waste in the name of an illusion of "growth" and boosting the financial gains of elites will have the means necessary to adapt and emerge not just as survivors but as more adaptable and resilient.

One of the more amusing flavors of Doom is the one hawking the fantastic possibilities of getting rich as the financial world collapses around us. What makes this amusing is "wealth" in any form only retains its viability in an intact system / civilization. Once the system disintegrates, there's no mechanisms left to protect and make use of the "wealth." Consider the caches of gold coins that were buried in past eras of tumult: they're still in the ground because whomever buried them was unable to return to unearth the wealth.

Then there's the little matter of governments desperate for revenues pursuing desperate measures, first reducing the masses to impoverishment, then consuming the middle class and then finally, everyone beneath the top 0.01%, who find barbarians at the gates of their sprawling estates once the state's ability to protect them decays.

History is replete with examples of governments taking a wide variety of extraordinary measures in polycrisis, for example closing stock markets for months, as in World War I, confiscating gold, and so on. The US already considers any income earned anywhere on the planet as taxable, and wealth is nothing but stored income.

The approach favored by the elite is to push any haircut on the powerless masses, but this stops working when the powerless have no more hair to cut. Then this offloading of sacrifices to the powerless triggers social disorder of the kind that can't be quelled with the usual bread and circuses kibble tossed to the restive crowd.

History suggests a corollary to the "get rich in the crash" scenario: whatever form of wealth emerges unscathed will immediately be targeted for expropriation by the state, which is after all an organization whose Prime Directives are 1) survival and 2) expanding control / power.

All get rich and stay rich strategies presume the state will fail to expropriate the piled-up wealth because of some "normal" hindrance such as "the money is in a British tax haven." That has certainly worked wonders to date, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and governments devoted to protecting the super-wealthy from any sacrifices for the common good tend to fall in favor of governments that see the stashed plunder of the super-wealthy as ill-gotten and illegitimate, that is, not just ripe for expropriation but expropriation is the only right and moral option.

Apparently the super-wealthy fear their security guards may conclude their salaries are peanuts compared to the potential of transferring their employers' wealth by, ahem, more direct means. Once expropriation is understood as the only right and moral option, then the Earth shifts beneath the feet of the status quo.

Another interesting flavor of Mild-Spicy Doom is The Great Reset, a mythological event that magically maintains the status quo as-is: the bottom 50% own virtually nothing that generate unearned income and the top 1% own a third and the top 10% own 90%.

In this scenario, there's a brief spot of bother--a bank holiday, etc.--and then a new currency is issued, and the powerless masses trudge off to work as usual while the top 0.1% resume their pathological drive to maximize their gains by any means available.

This is certainly a pleasant fantasy, but it overlooks the inconvenient reality that this Great Reset has already happened, not as a one-off bank holiday but as a 15-year slow drip transfer of wealth and income from the bottom 80% to the top tiers.

The disempowerment and impoverishment of the masses resulting from the coming Great Reset has already happened. You'll own nothing (of real value) is already the reality for the bottom 60%. This suggests the next Great Reset will be more or less the opposite of the envisioned Version2.0 of the status quo.

A rebalancing of consumption, efficiency, debt writedowns, wealth and income can be managed such that sacrifices are distributed to those with an excess available for sacrifice, i.e. the top 1%, who will still be doing just fine if their share of the nation's wealth was reduced from over a third (35%) to say, 10%.

Such a rebalancing would reduce extremes and positive feedback, reduce waste and enable greater investment in the common good of efficiency, durability, resilience and the values / skills I describe as Self-Reliance, a set of values and skills that are scale-invariant, meaning they benefit the entire spectrum, from households to communities to regions to nations.

Change the incentives and feedback loops and you change the flavor of Doom we're about to be served.

*  *  *

My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century. Read the first chapter for free (PDF)

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Tyler Durden Tue, 10/10/2023 - 15:20
Published:10/10/2023 2:55:19 PM
[World] BOOK REVIEW: 'The Plague of Models' The fact that a studious work is not available on Amazon is enough to pique curiosity. After all, Amazon usually gives the public access to nearly all books, including those on the extreme left and extreme right. Published:10/9/2023 4:36:18 PM
[Markets] Feds Spent $3.3 Billion On Furniture During Pandemic Years Feds Spent $3.3 Billion On Furniture During Pandemic Years

Authored by Adam Andrzejewski via Open The Books,

KEY TAKEAWAY: As Congress fights overspending, we want to show that members are appropriating, wasting and sometimes hiding massive amounts of money from the taxpayers.

For instance, in 2021, at the peak of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent $237,960 on solar powered picnic tables. We wonder if they included a social distancing app.  The State Department dialed up nearly $120,000 brand-new Ethan Allen leather recliners for its embassy in Islamabad. 

Top 10 federal agencies spending on furniture during the pandemic years.

The feds spent $26 million on furniture for their conference rooms, while their meetings were held on ZOOM. Spending included $700,000 by the Securities and Exchange Commission for their New York regional office conference room.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) spent nearly $250,000 on a conference room “refresh” with expensive, high-end Herman Miller furniture. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) purchased $284,000 in Herman Miller furniture for their headquarters conference center.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation spent $14.4 million on new furniture for its 1,000 employees – that’s $14,400 per employee.

Environmental Protection Agency downsized its 300,000 square foot office space in Philadelphia -- but upsized the furniture. It used relocation as a license to redecorate $6.5 million on high end furniture when moving into smaller space at Four Penn Central.

WHAT WE FOUND: Despite federal employees working from home, the agencies continued to splurge on furniture purchases.

There was no material difference in the amount federal agencies collectively spent on office furniture between the years 2018 and 2022.

Kept spending on furniture during pandemic despite work from home mandates.

Here is how individual agencies break out:

  • Transportation used just 9% of its office space – but spent $55 million on furniture.

  • Agriculture used just 9% of its office space as well. It spent $57 million on furniture. 

  • General Services Administration also hit 9% usage. And it found… $308 million for furniture.

  • Veterans Affairs used just 16% of its office space but spent $428 million on furniture.

  • Defense used 23% of its space and spent $1.2 billion on furniture. Had it occupied 100%, would it have spent $4.8 billion?

  • Justice used 35% of its offices yet spent $408 million on furniture. State spent $302 million. Homeland Security spent $156 million. 

Low utilization rates were attributable to the following factors: increased number of staff working remotely, outdated building configurations, historic utilization problems, and a reluctance for agency leaders to share space with other agencies.  

Most of the major federal agency headquarters are one quarter full or less, and none are at 50 percent capacity or more, according to the report.  

Remote work has surged at federal agencies since the pandemic began. A Federal News Network survey conducted in November 2022 found 60 percent of federal employee respondents were working completely remotely, 33 percent had a hybrid situation, and the rest worked in office.  

The Biden administration has urged agencies to reduce telework ‘aggressively’ in a recent email from White House chief of staff Jeff Zients to Cabinet officials.

Congressional Republicans have renewed requests for information from agency officials about telework policies.

In May 2022, House Republicans introduced the Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems (SHOW UP) Act, which would have required agencies to return to pre-pandemic telework levels.

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/07/2023 - 09:55
Published:10/7/2023 9:22:25 AM
[Markets] "As I Look Into The Future, I See Anarchy" "As I Look Into The Future, I See Anarchy"

Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance

One of my favorite investors that I love reading and following, Harris Kupperman, has offered up his thoughts on what his next big bet could be.

Harris is the founder of Praetorian Capital, a hedge fund focused on using macro trends to guide stock selection.

Harris is one of my favorite follows and I find his opinions - especially on macro and commodities - to be extremely resourceful. I’m certain my readers will find the same. I was excited when he offered up his latest thoughts, published below (slightly edited for grammar, bold emphasis is QTR’s).

Please be sure to read both my and Harris’ disclaimers, located at the bottom of this post.

The Great Macro Dreamscape Part 1

In late March of 2020, one of the greatest wealth transfers of my lifetime began. It remade our world—or at least it remade my world. Those who recognized Covid as a hoax, were there to reap the rewards. Others who cowered in fear, were my victims. While I pressed the accelerator on exposure and risk, others sought safety in rapidly depreciating cash, or worse, shorted risk assets while they hid from benign germs. Our disparate account statements stand witness to the decisions we each made.

Now, as we enter the great macro dreamscape, I realize that Covid was simply a warm-up for what seems almost inevitable. Rarely has the world’s only superpower undergone a self-immolation of its multi-faceted role in the global order.

Gone are our desires to be the global hegemon, support the world’s reserve currency, or even be seen as a respected adult. As we’re increasingly banished to the kid’s table of global discourse, the macro landscape is spiraling at an ever-faster pace. Our bond market is drifting off, doomed by our precarious fiscal balances. Our place in the world is questioned after Afghan goat herders and then Russian convicts faced off against our military machine with great success.

Meanwhile, our institutions, long hailed globally, descend into corruption, nepotism and incompetence. America isn’t dead, but it needs to be totally reinvented. However, that’s all in the future; as macro investors, we only deal in the present. Nothing is carved in stone, but the outcomes, while path-dependent are increasingly becoming unavoidable.

Empires rise and fall. They follow an arc. The path downward can be graceful, or clumsy—gradual or sudden. This uncertainty is what creates the current opportunity. Meanwhile, the inevitability of this path, sets in action one of those rare wealth transfers that comes along only once or twice in an investor’s career.

I intend to take more than my fair share. I intend to be a pig at the trough.

As an inflection trader, with a focus on second-tier macro trends, I suffered through the 2010s. It was a miserable time for investors like me. Sure, I made a bunch of money, I cannot cry too hard, but it was tough to squeeze Alpha from stone. The trends were mere whispers, and the rewards weren’t always discernable.

I had to hop around, scavenge at opportunities, and suffer through long periods with little to do. It was frustrating—especially as the Globalist Cucks hid out in large cap tech stocks, that seemed to appreciate endlessly, with single-digit realized volatility.

Then Covid came along, awakening all the dormant imbalances in the global order. The overreaction of governments finally tipped things out of stasis. For a fleeting moment, there was a fissure in the universe. They opened the skies and money rained down upon my portfolio. I grabbed it until my arms grew so tired that I couldn’t reach out and grab any more. I literally had to force myself to stay in the game, to stay engaged, to focus and push the envelope—especially after the boredom of the prior decade. I also knew it wouldn’t last—I had to maximize the opportunity.

50% OFF ALL SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscribe and get 50% off and no price hikes for as long as you wish to be a subscriber.

Then, the mana became scarce. Opportunity disappeared. Tech resumed its dominance and inflections became rare. I’ve spent the past six quarters wondering if we’re back in the narrative of the past decade, or just traipsing through an extended intermission.

I’m increasingly of the view that we’re in the eye of the storm, a moment to catch one’s bearings and reassess everything that was previously upheld as the truth. The rules are no longer the rules.

The Globalists have tried to resurrect their eminence following the Peak Globalist cluster-fuckery that was Covid. Yet, in the process, they’ve shattered their own image, while not realizing it. That revelation is still oncoming. Now freed from a need to uphold their aura of magnanimity, they’ll unleash their most insidious and aggressive attacks on the natural order.

This will be their final undoing, accompanied first by great suffering for those who are not part of their clique. There is no retreat for the Davos Crowd, they will only push forward, their evil will metastasize. Fortunately, it’s impossible to be a diabolical leader when the peasants laugh at your acronyms and meme your propaganda. The world simply will not congeal to their mold. The tussle to win at all costs will consume them and the nations that they represent.

Today’s malaise in equity markets is simply an echo bubble; peak beneficent Globalism has already passed us by. Soon, it all comes crumbling down. There’s nothing to replace it. Rather, there’s a fight amongst those who’d gladly inherit the world—yet none are particularly ready to bear that mantle.

Now, as I look into the future, I see anarchy. Said another way, I see opportunity. Covid was the dry run. Now we’re into the main event. Will the US go down in a supernova of stupid? Or will we stand and fight?

Will we cower from carbon and affix rainbows to every physical structure, defying the laws of progress? Or will we get on with it and try our best to avert the tailspin? I have no answers, but I know storm clouds when I see them; the storm wall is visible and approaching. How our leaders face these demons, or incite them in fury, will set the tone for this decade’s capital markets.

I’m not here to say what’s right or wrong. I’m merely focused on the mission at hand. I’m an observer of events, a trader of markets. I believe we’re now entering the golden age of global macro.

Old orders are collapsing, pulled down by the weight of their hubris. New orders aren’t yet ready to take their place. Chaos is the eager ally of traders with an open mind. Great traders have a fluidity that adjusts to new realities, while conjuring visions of tail events. I expect a proper clusterfuck, full of fury, violence and volatility. While I recognize the suffering that this will bring, I also know that my mission is to stretch my arms out wide and grab as much as I can.

It’s about to rain opportunity for Macro traders. Unfortunately, it won’t be wealth creation, it will be a wealth transfer. This isn’t my choice, I’m simply a creature of the environment thrust upon me. Those who are ill prepared, are about to be victimized by those who not only understand what’s coming but have educated themselves on how to profit from it. This is my moment!

War, famine, pestilence, and other biblical plagues are mere phenomena when compared to the pernicious nature of inflation. Unless you’ve lived in a country with persistent inflation, you cannot understand how it works, how it infects society, or how it re-orients prior relationships amongst the political class, the economy and capital assets. Books are mere curios; they cannot really explain the social effects of inflation, the lives destroyed by bad decisions, nor those who profited through it. You need to see it yourself; you need to experience it. Inflation is the great leveler.

My focus in college was late Roman decline. I am a fatalist at heart—Gibbon was the relative optimist. At the same time, I see opportunity everywhere. Many will say, “then why don’t you just buy gold?” That’s the lazy man’s hedge for what’s coming. Hugo Stinnes is the man to study, not the parasites selling you collapsing mining schemes.

Come along on this journey into the abyss of the socialist nation-state in its death-rattle. New worlds will be formed. New rules invented. A new hope. But first, the walls must tumble around us. We cannot get too many steps ahead in this adventure. The extreme amplitude of opportunities, the binary nature of bad decisions, they all haunt me, as I know what’s coming.

When you’re treading on the quicksand of a collapsing global order, every trade may be your last. One cannot get distracted—one must stay focused. A better world will come out of the ashes. I want to invest in that world. Investing in chaos has a melancholy to it. However, I’m a trader—I trade the world that I see. That world is shifting and fast. Castles are crumbling. Everything we’ve held sacred in finance is turning upside down. The pace of change will now accelerate, the oddity, the confusion, the old rules vaporizing—they’ll bury speculators who cannot adapt. I plan to prosper.

The next few years will be when winners simply keep winning, because they’re grounded in history, with a healthy dose of cynicism and libertarian ethos. The many will grab for wealth, yet mostly end up with fistfuls of rapidly depreciating sand. Last generation’s winners will surrender everything. The laws of finance and even nature itself will be re-invented. Open your mind to the possibilities. You are on this phantasmal voyage; even if you try and disembark—the choice isn’t yours. It’s simply part of the cycle. Instead, embrace it. Prepare for it. Love it.

It’s about to get wild…

I’ve waited my whole life for this. I’ve studied. I’ve prepared. I’m ready. Bring it on!

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QTR’s Disclaimer: I am an idiot and often get things wrong and lose money. I may own or transact in any names mentioned in this piece at any time without warning. Contributor posts and aggregated posts have not been fact checked and are the opinions of their authors. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks or securities, just my opinions. I often lose money on positions I trade/invest in. I may add any name mentioned in this article and sell any name mentioned in this piece at any time, without further warning. None of this is a solicitation to buy or sell securities. These positions can change immediately as soon as I publish this, with or without notice. You are on your own. Do not make decisions based on my blog. I exist on the fringe. The publisher does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in this page. These are not the opinions of any of my employers, partners, or associates. I did my best to be honest about my disclosures but can’t guarantee I am right; I write these posts after a couple beers sometimes. Also, I just straight up get shit wrong a lot. I mention it twice because it’s that important.

Harris’ Disclaimer: Past performance of Praetorian Capital Fund LLC and its feeder fund Praetorian Capital Offshore Ltd. (collectively, the “Funds”) is not indicative of future results. No representations or warranties of any kind are made or intended, and none should be inferred, with respect to the economic return or the tax consequences from a potential investment in the Funds. Each investor should consult their own counsel and accountant for advice concerning the various legal, tax and economic matters concerning their investment. The information provided herein does not constitute an offer to sell an interest in the Funds. Such offer can only be made to qualified investors pursuant to the Funds’ Confidential Private Placement Memorandum (“Offering Memorandum”), the Subscription Documents relating thereto and the Limited Liability Company Agreement, as applicable, which set forth the complete terms of the offer. 

No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made or can be given with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information found within this website. Certain information constitutes “forward-looking statements” about potential future results. Those results may not be achieved, due to implementation lag, other timing factors, portfolio management decision-making, economic or market conditions or other unanticipated factors. Nothing contained herein shall be relied upon as a promise or representation whether as to past or future performance or otherwise. Please read Harris’ full disclaimer here.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/05/2023 - 19:00
Published:10/5/2023 6:31:55 PM
[Markets] Central Bank Gold Buying Continued To Sizzle In August Central Bank Gold Buying Continued To Sizzle In August


Central bank gold buying continues to sizzle.

Central banks globally added a net 77 tons to their reserves in August, according to the latest data compiled by the World Gold Council.

It was the third straight month of net purchases. Over the last three months, net gold buying by central banks totaled 219 tons.

In March, April and May, central banks reported net gold sales, primarily due to Turkey selling 160 tons of gold over that three-month period. According to the World Gold Council, this was a specific response to local market dynamics and didn’t likely reflect a change in the Turkish central bank’s long-term gold strategy.

Turkey returned to buying gold in June and added another 14.7 tons in August, joining China, Poland and Uzbekistan as the biggest buyers for the month.

According to the World Gold Council, the Turkish government reinstated gold import quotas in early August. There was some speculation that domestic shortages could lead to central bank gold sales to meet demand, but this clearly wasn’t the case.

The People’s Bank of China ranked as the largest buyer in August, adding 28.9 tons of gold to its holdings. It was the 10th consecutive month of buying for the Chinese central bank. China is the largest gold buyer year-to-date, having increased its official reserves by 166 tons since the beginning of the year and 217 tons since it resumed official purchases last November. The People’s Bank of China now officially holds 2,165 tons of gold, making up 4% of its total reserves.

China has a history of adding to reserves and then going silent.

The People’s Bank of China accumulated 1,448 tons of gold between 2002 and 2019, and then reported nothing for more than two years before resuming reporting last fall.

Many speculate that the Chinese continued to add gold to its holdings off the books during those silent years.

In fact, there has always been speculation that China holds far more gold than it officially reveals. As Jim Rickards pointed out on Mises Daily back in 2015, many people speculate that China keeps several thousand tons of gold “off the books” in a separate entity called the State Administration for Foreign Exchange (SAFE).

Last year, there were large unreported increases in central bank gold holdings.  Central banks that often fail to report purchases include China and Russia. Many analysts believe China is the mystery buyer stockpiling gold to minimize exposure to the dollar.

The National Bank of Poland added 14.9 tons of gold to its reserves. That brings its year-to-date total to 88 tons.

In the fall of 2021, Bank of Poland President Adam Glapinski said the central bank planned to add 100 tons of gold to its reserves in 2022. It’s unclear why the bank didn’t follow through, but it is now just 12 tons short of that stated goal.

When he announced the plan to expand its gold reserves, Glapinski said holding gold was a matter of financial security and stability.

Gold will retain its value even when someone cuts off the power to the global financial system, destroying traditional assets based on electronic accounting records. Of course, we do not assume that this will happen. But as the saying goes – forewarned is always insured. And the central bank is required to be prepared for even the most unfavorable circumstances. That is why we see a special place for gold in our foreign exchange management process.”

India has been buying relatively small amounts of gold for the last four months. The Reserve Bank of India increased its holdings by 1.9 tons in August.

The RBI added 7 tons in Q1. Since resuming buying in late 2017, the Reserve Bank of India has purchased over 200 tons of gold. In August 2020, there were reports that the RBI was considering significantly raising its gold reserves.

Russia reported a 3.1-ton increase in its gold reserves. This brings the country’s gold holdings back to where they were at the beginning of the year. Russia was a big buyer prior to its invasion of Ukraine. Last month, there were reports that Russia would recommence the buying of foreign currency and gold in the coming months, but there were few details about the plan.

Uzbekistan has cycled back to buying with an 8.7-ton gold purchase.  It is not uncommon for banks that buy from domestic production – such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – to switch between buying and selling.

Kazakhstan reported a small half-ton purchases in August.

Three other central banks bought gold in August.

  • The Czech Republic – 1.7 tons

  • Kyrgyz Republic – 0.7 tons

  • Singapore – 1.6 tons

There were no significant sales reported in August.

Bloomberg reported that Bolivia “monetized” 17 tons of its gold reserves between May and August following the enactment of a law authorizing the central bank to utilize its gold reserves. But according to the World Gold Council, it’s unclear what is meant by “monetize.” Currently, data Central Bank of Bolivia gold reserves is not available after April.

The WGC characterized central bank gold buying as “healthy.”

Even accounting for the net sales earlier in the year, the pace of buying so far this year suggests that we are on course for another strong annual total.”

Even with Turkey’s big sales earlier this year, net central bank gold purchases totaled 387 tons through the first half of the year. That was the highest first-half total since the organization started compiling quarterly data in 2000. This continued the trend of increasing gold reserves we saw last year.

Total central bank gold buying in 2022 came in at 1,136 tons. It was the highest level of net purchases on record dating back to 1950, including since the suspension of dollar convertibility into gold in 1971. It was the 13th straight year of net central bank gold purchases.

According to the 2023 Central Bank Gold Reserve Survey recently released by the World Gold Council, 24% of central banks plan to add more gold to their reserves in the next 12 months. Seventy-one percent of central banks surveyed believe the overall level of global reserves will increase in the next 12 months. That was a 10-point increase over last year.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/05/2023 - 09:25
Published:10/5/2023 8:40:41 AM
[c1f50503-cd67-5e3f-9ede-c395e5927082] Why book banning must end: Ignorance is not bliss Book banning must end because ignorance is not bliss. Author Alice Faye Duncan's favorite teacher taught her that students must have books that challenge them so they can learn. Published:10/5/2023 4:08:50 AM
[Uncategorized] Recycling 500 Year Old Scams Five hundred years ago experts predicted London was about to drown.  The same scam continues today. Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions – Google Books Climate change could flood London any time after 2030, warns expert – PMC Published:10/5/2023 12:02:24 AM
[World] Parents objecting to pornographic material in school libraries aren't 'book banners' Randi Weingarten, president of America's second-largest teachers union, didn't even wait for Banned Books Week to begin before posting on X: "Texas teacher fired for reading Diary of Anne Frank to class - THIS Speaks for itself!!!" Published:10/4/2023 2:27:34 PM
[Markets] Biden's "Secret Money Machine": New Book Delves Into Hunter's China-Linked Partnership With University Of Delaware Biden's "Secret Money Machine": New Book Delves Into Hunter's China-Linked Partnership With University Of Delaware

While the general public is well aware of allegations against the Biden family involving international influence-peddling schemes, bribes from Ukrainian oligarchs, and attempts to write off prostitutes on tax returns, major facets of the first family's sphere of wealth and influence have gone largely unreported.

According to a wide-ranging new book by Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, who collaborated with researchers from investigative journalist Peter Schweizer's multiple books (perhaps most notably, "Clinton Cash"), the Biden family has a second, virtually unknown institute. And much like the widely-reported Penn-Biden Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware - established on the same day as UPenn's, resulted in a flood of Chinese money into said institutions.

"The key players at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute were either Biden family members, people with deep ties to China, or both," writes Marlow.

Modeled after the Clinton Global Initiative, the University of Delaware Biden Institute was referred to as Hunter's "baby" by his aunt and former Joe Biden campaign manager, Valerie Owens (who now chairs the Biden Institute).

On December 11, 2018, the University of Delaware announced that it was naming its public policy school after Vice President Biden. Emails show that this move was orchestrated by members of UD’s Biden Institute. It was on the day of the announcement that Hunter Biden received a text message from his aunt and former Joe Biden campaign manager, Valerie Owens (who chairs the Biden Institute), crediting him for the deepening partnership with between the Biden family and the university: “Bravo Hunter—UD was your baby and you made sure I was part of it.

The University of Delaware Biden Institute was Hunter’s “baby.” And this was the type of baby the family most certainly was not going to ignore. -Breitbart

What's more, the UD Biden Institute became home to at least 12 future Biden administration appointees, including soon-to-be senior Biden advisor Mike Donilon and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, while UD President Dennis Assanis would be named to Biden's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

But perhaps most intriguing is that soon after forging its partnership with the Bidens, the University of Delaware (UD) disclosed receiving funds from China.

Assanis notably "has deep and long-standing ties to China," according to Marlow, who reports that in addition to serving as the founding director of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center and Clean Vehicle Consortium (CERC-CVC) since 2003, Assanis has served as both a guest professor and an advisory professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - which has a partnership with the Chinese military, and which has been identified as the source of cyberattacks on American companies.

President Joe Biden delivers the commencement address at the University of Delaware graduation ceremony in Newark, Delaware, on May 28, 2022. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

And then the Chinese funds start flowing...

As Marlow reports;

The University of Delaware had never disclosed receiving funds from China until April 2018, when it accepted over $3.2 million for a contract with an unnamed Chinese entity. This came two months after the Penn Biden Center opened its DC office. Then, in December 2018, UD received $1.9 million from an unnamed Chinese entity. In 2019, UD received another $625,000 from China. In 2020, UD initiated three contracts with the Chinese entities and received over $1 million in funds. In sum, UD has received over $6.7 million from unnamed Chinese sources, including a substantial amount from the Chinese government.

All these funds started flowing to UD after the Biden Institute was announced and increased immediately after the launch of the Penn Biden Center.

In addition to the obvious pay-for-play implications, the influx of Chinese money is even more alarming in light of UD's thirty-seven international partnerships with Chinese universities - including several which are involved in the development of Chinese military technology.

Concern over UD's relationship with Chinese entities is such a concern that on Feb. 8, 2022, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote Assanis to ask him to terminate the institution's academic and research partnership with Xiamen University, an active component of the CCP military-industrial complex, and which allegedly conspired with Huawei to perform corporate espionage against a US semiconductor start-up. According to the report, UD has worked with at least four other universities linked to CCP defense laboratories.

The Clinton model...

For those who don't know, the Bidens are prolific plagiarists. Their institutes at the University of Delaware / UPenn appear to be no exception.

In April 2016, Hunter emailed (and met with) talent agent Craig Gering of the Creative Artists Agency about then-VP Joe Biden's future after he leaves office. According to "confidential notes" taken by Gering, the two discussed the possibility of Hunter serving in the Penn Biden Center's DC office - which Gering described as having a "Focus on foreign policy. In addition to the institute at U of Penn, the school has an existing office in DC that will be expanded to house a DC office for VP Biden (and Mike, Hunter and Steve?). Operates like The Clinton Global Initiative without the money raise."

"Yes," Hunter replied. "in theory that's the way I would like to see it shake out--- BUT please keep this very confidential between us because nothing has been set in stone and there's still a lot of sensitivity around all of this both internally and externally. He hasn't made any decisions and this could all be changed overnight."

And while there may not have been a 'money raise' like CGI, it's now been established that both universities saw an influx of Chinese money following the establishment of the Biden entities.

As Marlow notes;

CGI claims it convenes “established and emerging global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” according to its website, but functionally, it was an easy way for the Clintons to reap donor funds to leverage relationships with celebrities and major corporations to boost their profiles all the while promoting their own cultural and political agenda items. Donations to CGI dried up when it came under media scrutiny from Schweizer and others for soliciting millions of dollars from foreign governments and businesses—the same governments and businesses that received favorable treatment from the Obama administration during Hillary’s tenure as secretary of state. -Breitbart

Most recently, CGI rebooted in 2022 (after shutting down in 2016 when Hillary Clinton lost the election and donor funds dried up), and has now set its sights on Ukraine.

The big question then becomes - what did Gering mean by "Wealth Creation" in his email to Hunter, listed after his summaries of the various Biden family matters the two discussed? Was it in relation to the UD/UPenn centers? Was it Hunter's 'art' career that's been the focus of speculation over pay-for-play?

Whatever it was, the Biden family launched several entities as the Clinton charities began to fold up shop, one of which Hunter's CAA pal described as operating "like the Clinton Global Initiative."

*  *  *

Check out Marlow's new book, Breaking Biden: Exposing the Hidden Forces and Secret Money Machine Behind Joe Biden, His Family, and His Administration.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/04/2023 - 13:25
Published:10/4/2023 12:36:28 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:10/4/2023 7:07:37 AM
[Markets] Which New World Order Are We Talking About? Which New World Order Are We Talking About?

Authored by Jeff Thomas via,

Those of us who are libertarians have a tendency to speak frequently of “the New World Order.”

When doing so, we tend to be a bit unclear as to what the New World Order is.

Is it a cabal of the heads of the world’s governments, or just the heads of Western governments?

Certainly bankers are included somewhere in the mix, but is it just the heads of the Federal Reserve and the IMF, or does it also include the heads of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, etc.?

And how about the Rothschilds? And the Bundesbank—surely, they’re in there, too?

And the list goes on, without apparent end.

Certainly, all of the above entities have objectives to increase their own power and profit in the world, but to what degree do they act in concert? Although many prominent individuals, world leaders included, have proclaimed that a New World Order is their ultimate objective, the details of who’s in and who’s out are fuzzy. Just as fuzzy is a list of details as to the collective objectives of these disparate individuals and groups.

So, whilst most libertarians acknowledge “the New World Order,” it’s rare that any two libertarians can agree on exactly what it is or who it’s comprised of. We allow ourselves the luxury of referring to it without being certain of its details, because, “It’s a secret society,” as evidenced by the Bilderberg Group, which meets annually but has no formal agenda and publishes no minutes. We excuse ourselves for having only a vague perception of it, although we readily accept that it’s the most powerful group in the world.

This is particularly true of Americans, as Americans often imagine that the New World Order is an American construct, created by a fascist elite of US bankers and political leaders. The New World Order may be better understood by Europeans, as, actually, it’s very much a European concept—one that’s been around for quite a long time.

It may be said to have had its beginnings in ancient Rome. As Rome became an empire, its various emperors found that conquered lands did not automatically remain conquered. They needed to be managed—a costly and tedious undertaking. Management was far from uniform, as the Gauls could not be managed in the same manner as the Egyptians, who in turn, could not be managed like the Mesopotamians.

After the fall of Rome, Europe was in many ways a shambles for centuries, but the idea of “managing” Europe was revived with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The peace brought an end to the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) in the Holy Roman Empire and the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic. It brought together the Holy Roman Empire, The House of Habsburg, the Kingdoms of Spain and France, the Dutch Republic, and the Swedish Empire.

Boundaries were set, treaties were signed, and a general set of assumptions as to the autonomy within one’s borders were agreed, to the partial satisfaction of all and to the complete satisfaction of no one… Sound familiar?

Later, Mayer Rothschild made his name (and his fortune) by becoming the financier to the military adventures of the German Government. He then sent his sons out to England, Austria, France, and Italy to do the same—to create a New World Order of sorts, under the control of his family through national debt to his banks. (Deep Throat was right when he said, “Follow the Money.”)

So, the concept of a New World Order has long existed in Europe in various guises, but what does this tell us about the present and, more important, the future?

In our own time, we have seen presidents and prime ministers come and go, whilst their most prominent advisors, such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, continue from one administration to the next, remaining advisors for decades. Such men are often seen as the voices of reason that may be the guiding force that brings about a New World Order once and for all.

Mister Brzezinski has written in his books that order in Europe depends upon a balance with Russia, which must be created through the control of Ukraine by the West. He has stated repeatedly that it’s critical for this to be done through diplomacy, that warfare would be a disaster. Yet, he has also supported the US in creating a coup in Ukraine. When Russia became angered at the takeover, he openly supported American aggression in Ukraine, whilst warning that Russian retaliation must not be tolerated.

Henry Kissinger, who has literally written volumes on his “pursuit of world peace” has, when down in the trenches, also displayed a far more aggressive personality, such as his angry recommendation to US President Gerald Ford to “smash Cuba” when Fidel Castro’s military aid to Angola threatened to ruin Mr. Kissinger’s plans to control Africa.

Whilst the most “enlightened” New World Order advisors may believe that they are working on the “Big Picture,” when it comes down to brass tacks, they clearly demonstrate the same tendency as the more aggressive world leaders, and reveal that, ultimately, they seek to dominate. They may initially recommend diplomacy but resort to force if the other side does not cave to “reason” quickly.

If we stand back and observe this drama from a distance, what we see is a theory of balance between the nations of Europe (and, by extension, the whole world)—a balance based upon intergovernmental agreements, allowing for centralised power and control.

This theory might actually be possible if all the countries of the world were identical in every way, and the goals of all concerned were also identical. But this never has been and can never be the case. Every world leader and every country will differ in its needs and objectives. Therefore, each may tentatively agree to common conditions, as they have going back to the Peace of Westphalia, yet, even before the ink has dried, each state will already be planning to gain an edge on the others.

In 1914, Europe had (once again) become a tangle of aspirations of the various powers—a time bomb, awaiting only a minor incident to set it off. That minor incident occurred when a Serbian national assassinated an Austrian crown prince. Within a month, Europe exploded into World War. As Kissinger himself has observed in his writings, “[T]hey all contributed to it, oblivious to the fact that they were dismantling an international order.”

Since 1648, for every Richelieu that has sought to create a New World Order through diplomacy, there has been a Napoleon who has taken a militaristic approach, assuring that the New World Order applecart will repeatedly be upset by those who are prone to aggression.

Further, even those who seek to operate through diplomacy ultimately will seek aggressive means when diplomatic means are not succeeding.

A true world order is unlikely.

What may occur in its stead would be repeated attempts by sovereign states to form alliances for their mutual benefit, followed by treachery, one- upmanship, and ultimately, aggression. And very possibly a new World War.

But of one thing we can be certain: Tension at present is as great as it was in 1914. We are awaiting only a minor incident to set off dramatically increased international aggression. With all the talk that’s presently about as to a New World Order, what I believe will occur instead will be a repeat of history.

If this belief is correct, much of the world will decline into not only external warfare, but internal control. Those nations that are now ramping up into police states are most at risk, as the intent is already clearly present. All that’s needed is a greater excuse to increase internal controls. Each of us, unless we favour being engulfed by such controls, might be advised to internationalise ourselves—to diversify ourselves so that, if push comes to shove, we’re able to get ourselves and our families out of harm’s way.

*  *  *

Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey just released Surviving and Thriving During an Economic Collapse an urgent new PDF report. It explains what could come next and what you can do about it so you don’t become a victim. Click here to download it now.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/04/2023 - 03:30
Published:10/4/2023 3:14:40 AM
[Markets] Trump, Newsom, And DeSantis - The Odd Throuple Trump, Newsom, And DeSantis - The Odd Throuple

Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClear Wire,

Appearing at the annual California Republican Party convention Friday, former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took an unusual political tack: They not only heaped scorn on President Biden and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, but on the state of California itself.

California really is the petri dish for American liberalism,” DeSantis told a dinner crowd of some 350 Republicans at the Anaheim Marriott. “What Biden is doing are things that California was doing many years ago. What California is doing now is likely what a second Biden term would do, or God forbid, Kamala Harris, or God forbid, Newsom himself.”

A few hours earlier, at a sold-out luncheon with a crowd four times as large, Trump used his singular rhetorical style to make similar assertions. Expanding the hit list beyond Biden and Newsom to four members of California’s congressional delegation (Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Maxine Waters), Trump said, “Guess who is running your state? Bad people. It’s becoming a symbol of our nation’s decline.”

Warming to the subject matter, Trump continued: “Gavin Newsom and the far-left Communists in Sacramento…San Francisco and L.A., cities which are absolutely being destroyed rapidly on a daily basis, have given you sanctuary cities, wide open borders, vast homeless encampments, and out-of-control taxes.”

The former president also referred to Biden and his administration’s economic advisers as “lunatics,” vowed that if returned to the White House he’d investigate the “Marxist monsters unleashing mayhem” on the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and called Newsom an “environmental maniac.” When it came to California’s governor, however, Trump’s heart didn’t quite seem to be in it. He quickly amended his statement to say that Newsom was appeasing California’s environmentalists “for political reasons,” adding as an aside that as president he and Newsom had worked well together.

Trump expressed no similar sentiment for his fellow Republican who occupied the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, whom he ridiculed in a lengthy riff about the time DeSantis asked for Trump’s endorsement in his first gubernatorial election. A member of Congress at the time, DeSantis was trailing far behind in the GOP primary. After he endorsed DeSantis, his campaign started soaring, Trump recalled.

“I said, 'Let’s do it,' and this guy went up like a rocket,” Trump said, claiming that he, not DeSantis, was responsible for turning Florida Republican red. Trump also boasted about receiving more than a million votes more than DeSantis did in 2020.

Trump went on to wallow in his irritation at DeSantis’ “no comment” response to a reporter’s question last year about a presidential run. “That means he's running!” Trump said. “And I started hitting him very early. I hit him hard, and he’s crashing like a bird seriously wounded in flight.”

If Trump sounded like he was making up for lost time, there was a reason: He skipped Wednesday’s debate at the scenic Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and he wasn’t able to immediately rebut criticism from DeSantis and Chris Christie implying that Trump was wimping out.

Moreover, even before the debate, DeSantis sensed it would be nearly impossible to break out of the bickering pack of seven Republican candidates, all desperate to shed their second-tier status and cut into Trump’s gaping lead.

So with the focus of the political world on California, Team DeSantis released a campaign ad a day before the debate teasing the real showdown he’s counting on to change his trajectory: a mano a mano cage match between himself and Gavin Newsom over their ideals, ideology, and records as mega-state governors.

After rattling off a series of comparisons between the state of Florida and California on violent crime, government deficits, and the economy, the ad wraps up with the words “Revival vs. Decline” flashing on the screen in bold letters against black-and-white images of a sunglass-clad DeSantis staring down a scowling Newsom.

Florida vs. California, conservative vs. progressive – It’s the debate we should be having at the national level,” the ad quotes Fox Business host Stuart Varney intoning.

Actually, it is the debate Americans are already having – with the two governors leading the conversation joined by Trump, who likes taking pointed potshots at both Newsom and DeSantis. But there is a wrinkle, as is almost always the case with The Donald. Trump’s penchant for making all politics personal means that the three-way conversation has the feel of a tag-team wrestling match that doesn’t break along party lines: DeSantis is fighting them both.

For his part, Newsom noticed DeSantis’ pre-debate trolling – and responded with some of his own. California’s governor played the smart-alecky host showing up at the Republicans’ Wednesday debate where he extolled California’s weather, lauded the scenic Reagan library, and jousted good-naturedly with Fox News host Sean Hannity about California’s sky-high gasoline prices. Then he got down to business, taking dead aim at DeSantis. As Newsom worked the post-debate spin room, he heckled DeSantis for “taking the bait” and agreeing to the faceoff, set to take place Nov. 30 with Hannity moderating.

DeSantis looks small debating a California governor that’s not running for president,” Newsom told a throng of reporters. “He’s getting smaller by the day.” Newsom also indicated that the animus between him and DeSantis is genuine, calling Florida’s governor a “liar” and a “hypocrite” who bullies “marginalized communities.”

Newsom insists he’s not running for president himself – at least not in this cycle – but that hasn’t stopped the swirling speculation that he’s operating a shadow campaign and is ready to jump in if Biden isn’t able to answer the bell. On Friday night in Anaheim, DeSantis fired back, hitting Newsom and Biden on gas prices, stubborn inflation, and what he cast as a collapse of the American Dream. For the first time in the history of the Golden State, he told the crowd in the Anaheim Marriott ballroom, more Americans were leaving California than arriving. Many of them were arriving in Florida he added, appreciative of lower taxes and an absence of Democrats trying to micromanage their lives.

“To me, the debate about what state is governed better, Florida or California, that debate has already been answered by people voting with their feet,” DeSantis said. Speaking less than a mile from the entrance of Disneyland, DeSantis began his speech with a puckish reference to his prominent role in the culture wars as the nemesis of the Disney Company.

It was this battle that prompted Newsom to throw down the gauntlet last year when he went up on Florida airwaves targeting DeSantis’ war on woke and his socially conservative policies on abortion and public-school curriculum.

“Freedom, it’s under attack in your state,” Newsom argued in the spot. “Republican leaders – they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors.”

DeSantis returned the favor earlier this year when visiting  San Francisco, a city Newsom ran for two terms as mayor, and touring the city’s homeless encampments in the Tenderloin district, a denizen of fentanyl dealing and overdoses. He then tweeted out photos of tents and squalor, labeling the city a “dumpster fire.” 

DeSantis seems to like his chances in a battle against Biden or Newsom, but that might be fantasy land. The massive obstacle in his path isn’t a Democratic president or a Democratic governor. It’s the most recent Republican president.

In recent weeks, the gap between Trump and DeSantis has grown to a chasm, increasing as each criminal indictment against the former president has piled up at his feet. Trump is now 43.9 percentage points ahead of DeSantis in the RealClearPolitics Average of polls, a 27-point jump in six months.

That gap was on full display at the California GOP convention. Trump, the political reality TV star, attracted a larger crowd than DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy combined. He relished the attention, captivating his audience with his fiery freewheeling riffs, humorous jabs, wild exaggerations, and appalling insults.

Trump spent the first 10 minutes telling  the largely supportive audience that he would have won California – a state he lost by more than 5 million votes in 2020 – if not for a “rigged election.” The former president also promised to take on “ultra-left-wing liars, losers, creeps, perverts and freaks” that, he said, “are devouring the future of this state like a swarm of locusts.”

When it comes to rampant smash-and-grab thefts undermining retail businesses from here to Philadelphia, Trump offered a simple but shocking solution. “We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store – shot,” Trump said.

He promised to stand up to “crazy Nancy Pelosi,” who he said had “ruined San Francisco,” then shifted to mock her husband, who was a victim of a brutal attack in the family’s San Francisco home last October.

“How’s her husband doing, anybody know?” he asked a crowd that laughed uncomfortably in response. “And she’s against building a wall at our border, even though she has a wall around her house – which obviously didn’t do a very good job.”

Although Trump put most of the blame for the country’s ills on Democrats, toward the end of his remarks he punched hard at DeSantis too. 

“I’m the only candidate that [Biden and the Democrats] don’t want to run against – they’ll take DeSanctimonious in about two seconds,” he remarked.

He then rattled off the results of the most recent Morning Consult poll, showing him with 63% support nationwide compared to 12% for DeSantis. And in a recent CNN poll, DeSantis fell to fifth place in the New Hampshire primary, Trump jeered.

Here in California, Trump holds an enormous, nearly 50% lead over DeSantis in the primary. Thanks to a new change in state Republican election rules, which the Republican National Committee still must approve, if Trump wins more than 50% of the March 5 primary vote, he would secure all 169 of the state’s delegates. If no candidate hits that threshold, delegates will be awarded proportionally.

By now, DeSantis is accustomed to Trump’s slings and arrows. In the ballroom Friday night DeSantis seemed more relaxed and natural, sprinkling his remarks with quotes from Reagan and offering Reaganesque flourishes about American renewal and this generation’s “rendezvous with destiny.” He appeared to acknowledge his underdog status in the race but also his commitment to soldier on in what he described as a moral obligation to reverse the country’s trajectory.

DeSantis also seemed slightly amused by all of Trump’s attention earlier in the day.

“I understand that one of my residents was here earlier saying that he turned Florida red,” he remarked. “All I will say is, Ronald Reagan made the point [that] there’s no limit to what you can do when you don’t care who gets the credit. I just wish if he was the one that turned Florida red, that he wouldn’t have turned Georgia and Arizona blue because that’s not been good for us at all.”

In an earlier Friday interview, DeSantis addressed Newsom’s attempt to ridicule him for agreeing to debate in the first place and brushed it off as disingenuous campaign jousting.

“You know Sean [Hannity] asked him to debate. He said yes. So, then he asked me,” DeSantis recounted. “I’m like, ‘I’ll do it. Let’s do it.’ And now he’s acting like ‘Why do you want to debate me?’ Well, I’m debating you because you asked to do it, so let’s go and get it done.”

“I do think it will be good, it will be instructive,” he added. “These are the types of debates America really needs to have.”

Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics' White House/national political correspondent.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/03/2023 - 21:45
Published:10/3/2023 9:02:35 PM
[Markets] For Some, Open Border Chaos Is The Goal For Some, Open Border Chaos Is The Goal

Authored by Pete McGinnis via,

Beware, the crisis at the southern border may be much worse than it appears...

Free Apple watches, bus and plane tickets all across the continental United States, and sophisticated lawyers standing by to counsel migrants on how to best navigate border officials’ scrutiny of asylum on the occasions when they are actually required to defend their asylum claims. These benefits being offered to illegal border crossers have left the public shocked, angry, and in many cases, feeling the issue closer to home than ever before. Many cities and states have also been overwhelmed as the consequences of the crisis have migrated well beyond the southern border states. Recently, New York City Mayor Eric Adams made news when he emphatically declared that the now-regular stream of migrants into the Big Apple “will ruin the City!”

It’s not just local budgets and social services that are being squeezed to the breaking point, although those are nothing to sneeze at and will have to be addressed. The increase in crime may be the biggest concern. Violent crime rates are up, and violent incidents are prominent on the nightly news. Less visible are the other criminal enterprises causing ripple effects. Human trafficking has gained more attention as its shocking reality is (very) slowly exposed. The recently released independent film, “The Sound of Freedom,” struck a chord for this very reason – human trafficking is striking too close to home for most Americans’ peace of mind. 

Then there are the drugs. The opioid epidemic has gotten substantially worse in the last few years, with annual overdose deaths, after a slight decline from 2017 through 2019, increasing dramatically in the last several years. As if this isn’t bad enough, the opportunities for smuggling in other illegal contraband have increased as well.

Experts speculate that the drug cartels have collaborated with hostile actors, including Chinese Communists, to further take advantage of what they (rightly) view as a U.S. government intent on not enforcing the laws at our southern border. Notably, illicit tobacco and vaping products appear to have become a prime fundraising target for the burgeoning Chinese drug cartel alliance. While teenage vaping and flavored tobacco products have become a major concern for federal regulators, it is projected that most vaping products being sold are illegal and that 90% of the vaping products originate in China. Ironically, the reaction of federal authorities and policymakers has been to propose more prohibitions on legal products – overwhelmingly used by adults and lifetime smokers to transition away from cigarettes – rather than addressing the source of the problem: the flood of illegal products through our open border. It’s another example of the dangers that come from a dysfunctional government.

To elaborate, federal tobacco regulators appear set on using the robust cartel-supported black market in vaping products aimed at kids to further their long-time prohibitionist agenda (and one of Michael Bloomberg’s favorite pet projects). These regulatory efforts have been bolstered by user-fee supported special interest groups who fund splashy ad campaigns highlighting teen vaping use as the basis for their actions. Yet, the regulatory agenda seeks to outlaw a whole host of products used by adults, for which abolition seems certain to offer an even greater market opportunity for the Chinese drug cartel alliance and likely to increase access to illicit products by youth.

This may be a shocking observation to some, but this example and others indicate that senior government officials may see the lawlessness stemming from the border as a feature rather than a bug. Take Claire Trickler-McNulty, the Biden administration’s assistant director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Officials like Ms. Trickler-McNulty appear set on turning law enforcement agencies into social services organizations. Before joining the Biden administration, Trickler-McNulty worked for an organization that advocated for the abolition of the agency she now helps lead – in the spirit of the “defund the police” movement. Unsurprisingly, the overrun southern border has given her social service aspirations lots of prospective “clients” seeking federal assistance.

While Trickler-McNulty has faced criticism for the so-called transition from a traditional law enforcement focus, she appears unfazed. The same could also be said of her former employer, Kids in Need of Defense, a major recipient of George Soros’s Open Society Foundation that has also benefited handsomely from its influential role in the Biden administration’s open border policy with a $13 million contract.

The ways in which American families and businesses are being harmed by the open border policies could fill volumes. But it’s clear that state budgets, neighborhood safety, and our children’s futures are all being endangered while the drug cartels and our most powerful foreign adversaries become enriched and empowered. Instead of using these tragedies to advance the special interest agendas of Michael Bloomberg and George Soros, perhaps we could all agree that the American chapter on human trafficking, opioids, and open borders should be relegated to the history books.

Pete McGinnis is director of communications at the Functional Government Initiative.

Tyler Durden Sun, 10/01/2023 - 19:50
Published:10/1/2023 7:21:43 PM
[Markets] Satanic Pedophile Extortion Cult Uncovered By FBI After NY Arrest Satanic Pedophile Extortion Cult Uncovered By FBI After NY Arrest

A November 2021 arrest in Queens, New York led to the discovery of a satanic cult of pedophile extortionists known as 764, which has been linked to significant criminal activity around the globe. The organization, which goes byseveral aliases, was uncovered by the FBI while investigating alarming posts on social media made by 23-year-old Angel Almeida of Astoria, Queens, The Guardian reports.

Prosecutors allege Almeida convinced a girl to cut herself, record the act on camera and send it to him. Photograph: Department of Justice

Almeida was flagged to the FBI by an anonymous tipster who was concerned over his social media accounts, which contained images of violence against children and animals. In one post, he expressed support for Charleston mass-murderer Dylann Roof. Another post showed him talking around with a shotgun while wearing a "a skull mask and crossed bandoliers of rifle ammunition across his chest with a flag in the background featuring an Order of Nine Angles symbol."

Almeida served 18 months in prison for third degree burglary in 2018, and was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was detained in Brooklyn's metropolitan detention center. In February 2023, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment on child pornography and exploitation charges related to his involvement in the cult, as well as hundreds of thousands of digital files recovered from his residence.

In new charges, Almeida is accused of coercing a teenage girl into having sex with an older man, and convincing another girl to cut herself on camera and send it to him.

In one post, Almeida posts "For the 2k pedophile haters," showing his finger over the trigger guard of a Taurus handgun.

When the FBI searched his New York apartment, they found a 9mm handgun, ammunition, books pertaining to the Order of Nine Angles (a satanic occultist group). They also found a flag with the insignia of a US -9A offshoot, the Tempel ov Blood, according to a November 2021 detention memorandum.

The most telling item was an O9A “blood covenant” featuring a blood-smeared drawing of a hooded figure with glowing red eyes surrounded with sigils for four O9A deities and the caption Vindex, Nythra, Satan and Abatu. At the bottom of the page is an oath: “A covenant signed in blood. May the DEVIL walk with you always – SATANAE MANIBUS” (“by Satan’s Hand” in Latin). Similar indicia have been found in possession of O9A-influenced killers in Britain and Canada. -The Guardian

According to the agency, the group is "deliberately targeting minor victims on publicly available messaging platforms to extort them into recording or livestreaming acts of self-harm and producing child sexual abuse material."

Using manipulative tactics, the gang operated on several platforms, including Roblox, Discord, Twitch and SoundCloud - but the group's main platform has been Telegram.

764 uses "threats, blackmail and manipulation" to convince underage victims to record videos showing acts of self-harm, animal cruelty, sexual acts and even suicide. The footage is then circulated among members, who then further exert control over the victims. Members share "gore" videos depicting all sorts of horrific acts, in order "to gain notoriety and rise in status within their group."

Documents and sources familiar with 764 indicate the group is an offshoot of the Order of Nine Angles (O9A), a violent, subversive amalgam of esoteric Hitler worship, Satanism and Wiccan tenets that American authorities recognize as a terrorist ideology and that has been connected with murders and attempted terrorist attacks in countries including the US, Britain, Germany, Canada and Russia. -The Guardian

In one case, a German teenager allegedly connected to the group was accused of murdering his foster family in Romania, according to Der Spiegel and Libertatea.

Several books connected to satanism were also recovered.

The Stain Account

According to the detention memorandum:

Law enforcement also reviewed the publicly accessible portions of an Instagram profile with the name “Stain_Lord_352” (the “Stain Account”). That review revealed that Almeida acknowledged that the account belonged to him, admitted to owning and took pictures with a firearm, posted pictures depicting violence against animals, and threatened violence against police if they attempted to apprehend him. For example, on or about November 2, 2021, Almeida posted on the Stain Lord Account a photograph of a masked individual holding a firearm with the same mask and Order of Nine Angles flag depicted in photographs on the Sargent Account, which also appears to be the same mask that Almeida purchased from Amazon in June 2021 and had shipped to his residence.

Hardcore Kiddie Fiddler

In November 2021, Almeida posted a photograph of an individual in front of a Nazi flag while wearing a shirt that reads "Kiddie Fiddler," and standing in front of a sign that rads "I'M ADDICTED TO HARDCORE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY."

Earlier this month, Almeida was deemed fit for trial despite repeated violent behavior in the courtroom - including attempts to attack a DOJ staffer as well as his own court-appointed counsel, his fourth attorney since his 2021 arrest. His trial is currently scheduled for December 4. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 14:25
Published:9/30/2023 1:38:19 PM
[Markets] 10 Numbers Which Prove That The US Economy Has Hit A Major Pivot Point 10 Numbers Which Prove That The US Economy Has Hit A Major Pivot Point

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

During the summer, many of the experts repeatedly assured us that the U.S. economy would be able to avoid a recession, but now reality is setting in. 

Credit conditions continue to tighten, home sales are falling, credit card losses are exploding, stores are closing all over the country, and the number of bankruptcies is rising to very alarming levels.  Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to become more and more suffocating.  If you have a gut feeling that very hard times are on the horizon, you are definitely not alone.  As you will see below, a staggering 71 percent of all Americans currently believe that America is on the wrong track, and our economy is one of the biggest reasons why they feel this way. 

The following are 10 numbers which prove that the U.S. economy has hit a major pivot point…

#1 Consumer confidence was down more than expected this month…

The confidence of American consumers slipped this month, particularly about the future, as expectations persist that interest rates will remain elevated for an extended period.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 103 in September from 108.7 in August. Analysts were expecting a smaller decrease, to a reading of 105.

#2 The Conference Board’s index that measures future expectations has actually dropped below a level that historically signals “a recession within a year”

Most troubling was the decline in the index measuring future expectations, which tumbled to 73.7 in September from 83.3 in August. Readings below 80 for future expectations historically signal a recession within a year.

#3 With mortgage rates at suffocating levels, sales of new homes in the U.S. fell 8.7 percent last month

New home sales dropped in August from the month before, as mortgage rates topped 7% and rose to the highest levels in more than 20 years.

Sales of newly constructed homes fell 8.7% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 675,000 from a revised rate of 739,000 in July, according to a joint report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau.

#4 A record high percentage of U.S. consumers are indicating that credit conditions are getting tighter

American consumers are worried about access to credit amid persistently higher interest rates and tighter standards at banks, according to a New York Federal Reserve survey released Monday.

Respondents indicating that the ability to get loans, credit cards and mortgages is harder now than it was a year ago rose to nearly 60%, the highest level in a data series that goes back to June 2013. The results were part of the New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations for August.

#5 Credit card losses are increasing at the fastest pace in 30 years

Credit card companies are racking up losses at the fastest pace in almost 30 years, outside of the Great Financial Crisis, according to Goldman Sachs.

Credit card losses bottomed in September 2021, and while initial increases were likely reversals from stimulus, they have been rapidly rising since the first quarter of 2022. Since that time, it’s an increasing rate of losses only seen in recent history during the recession of 2008.

It is far from over, the firm predicts.

#6 At this point, things are getting so bad that even the Federal Reserve is laying off about 300 workers

At a time when mainstream economists and FOMC policymakers are betting the farm on a “soft landing” for the US economy, an unexpectedly hard signal was just issued by none other than the Fed itself: for the first time in over a decade, the US central bank announced it would cut about 300 people from its payroll this year, a rare reduction in headcount for an organization that has grown steadily since 2010 – after all, it takes if not a village (with its own police force), then certainly thousands of workers to come up with catastrophically wrong economic forecasts and to keep the money printer primed and ready to pump out a few trillion at a moment’s notice.The nu

#7 The number of bankruptcy cases in the United States has increased on a year over year basis for 13 months in a row

Data released Tuesday showed that Americans filed more than 39,000 bankruptcy cases in Aug. 2023, an 18 percent increase from the same time last year.

The data released by Unusual Whales details how, along with personal bankruptcy filings, there were more than 41,600 new bankruptcy cases recorded in August, including for businesses. This marks the thirteenth consecutive month that bankruptcy filings have shown a year-over-year increase under the Biden administration’s embarrassing and dangerous economic policies.

#8 Goldman Sachs is warning that America’s strategic oil reserve has hit a 40 year low

America’s emergency oil stockpile has plunged to 40-year lows. The shrinking Strategic Petroleum Reserve is limiting Washington’s ability to shield consumers from the fallout of Saudi Arabia’s aggressive supply cuts, according to Goldman Sachs.

“At this point, US energy policy has fewer bullets left. It has less levers left in its policy toolkit,” Daan Struyven, head of oil research at Goldman Sachs, told CNN in a phone interview.

That’s one reason Goldman Sachs expects oil prices to stay high, averaging $100 a barrel this time next year. Triple-digit oil would boost already-high prices at the pump, worsening inflation and potentially influencing the 2024 race for the White House.

#9 It is being projected that the price of oil could eventually reach 150 dollars a barrel.  Needless to say, such a development would radically change our economic outlook…

That’s Doug Lawler, chief executive of Continental Resources, the shale-drilling giant controlled by billionaire Harold Hamm, telling Bloomberg News on Monday that crude prices are set to remain elevated and could press to the $120- to $150-a-barrel range without new production.

#10 A new NBC News poll has found that 71 percent of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track…

The 71% of Americans in our latest NBC News poll saying the country is headed in the wrong direction is the eighth time in the last nine NBC News surveys dating back to Oct. 2021 when the wrong track has been above 70%.

And the one exception was in Sept. 2022, when it was 68%.

We have never before seen this level of sustained pessimism in the 30-year-plus history of the poll.

For more than a year, there has been speculation about when the next wave of our economic crisis would arrive.

Well, it appears that it is here.

The months ahead promise to be very challenging, and the long-term outlook is even worse.

2024 is certainly shaping up to be quite a year.

Economic conditions will be deteriorating just as we head into the most tumultuous election season that we have ever witnessed.

Stay safe out there, because things will soon start getting really crazy in this country.

*  *  *

Michael’s new book entitled “End Times” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on, and you can check out his new Substack newsletter right here.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 09:20
Published:9/30/2023 8:48:23 AM
[Markets] Cruise operator Carnival books first quarterly profit since onset of pandemic Cruise operator Carnival books first quarterly profit since onset of pandemic Published:9/29/2023 8:59:41 AM
[Markets] Boston University Will Investigate Kendi Center After Ignoring Questions For Years Boston University Will Investigate Kendi Center After Ignoring Questions For Years

Authored by Matt Lamb via The College Fix,

After ignoring questions about Ibram Kendi’s work for years, Boston University will now look into management at the Center for Antiracist Research.

Boston University will investigate the center’s “culture and its grant management practices,” following complaints. The center reportedly raised $55 million, which includes at least $10 million from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“To ensure its long-term impact and sustainability, Kendi made the decision to restructure the center to create a residential fellowship program for antiracist intellectuals, creators, and students,” BU announced on Sep. 21.

“He announced the layoffs as part of the restructuring (19 staff people were laid off, leaving a staff at the center of 15 to 17 people moving forward).”

This comes not only after Professor Saida Grundy first raised concerns in 2021, according to the student newspaper, but after The College Fix and other media outlets have questioned Kendi’s output.

BU said it “recognize[s] the importance of Dr. Kendi’s work and the significant impact it has had on antiracist thinking and policy” and looks forward to working with him on the inquiry. But Kendi’s “work” has often been lacking and other joint ventures with the professor have fallen through.

Most recently, and just prior to the public implosion of the center, The Fix reported that Kendi had not written an academic paper in the past four years. The Aug. 21 article noted he had written at least two children’s books in the same period.

In March 2021, The Fix asked “What exactly does Ibram Kendi do all day,” following original Fix reporting that found the center director had made at least $300,000 lecturing on how America is racist.

The Fix also questioned a promised “Racial Data Lab” in January 2021 that was supposed to be a partnership between Professor Azer Bestavros and the center. When asked for comment on the tracker, Bestavros said it had nothing to do with his work. “Your questions are not about my work or my research,” he said at the time in an email.

The Fix asked him if he had any concerns about Kendi’s ability to follow through on projects – media reporting had shown he failed to deliver on a similar racial data tracker, instead relying on volunteers with The Atlantic. Yet, Kendi cited the “COVID Racial Data Tracker” as an accomplishment of the center in his Sep. 22 statement.

Bestavros did not reply to requests for comment six months later, nor did Kendi’s team. The Fix frequently reached out to Boston University, including spokesman Colin Riley, and other Kendi associates for comments over the course of two articles on Kendi’s tracker and a third one about the now-ended relationship with The Boston Globe.

The Fix reached out to at least seven different Kendi associates or representatives a total of twenty times for just those three articles. In all cases, requests for comment were ignored or not substantially answered.

Kendi did comment on the situation in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

While acknowledging “missteps” he also played his favorite card, saying that “[l]eaders of color and women leaders are often held to different standards” and called his center’s work “crucial” for “antiracist” efforts.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/28/2023 - 19:00
Published:9/28/2023 6:19:56 PM
[Quick Takes] California Gov. Newsom Signs Law Giving ‘State More Power Over Local School Boards’

"A small group of extremists has sought to divide communities by advancing policies to ban books related to civil rights for communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community"

The post California Gov. Newsom Signs Law Giving ‘State More Power Over Local School Boards’ first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:9/28/2023 11:57:47 AM
[Gear] Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight 4 Plus Review: Waterproof E-Reader With Buttons The Nook Glowlight 4 Plus has a large screen and a headphone jack. You also have to download free library books like a caveman. Published:9/28/2023 7:12:46 AM
[Argument] Why the Iraq War AUMF is Still Dangerous Legislation authorizing the 2003 war is still on the books—and alarmingly open-ended. Published:9/28/2023 2:40:11 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:9/27/2023 7:09:19 AM
[c02c8e1b-b004-5c77-8ea7-fc1516398ceb] King Charles’ relationship with Queen Elizabeth was nearly destroyed by Camilla affair: author The paperback version of Andrew Morton's "The Queen" is available in bookstores. He's written books on Princess Diana, Meghan Markle and Princess Margaret. Published:9/27/2023 1:23:45 AM
[] Children's book author says 'parental rights really anger me' Published:9/26/2023 5:08:44 PM
[Markets] Watch: Border Patrol Boss Admits Agency Cannot Protect US Because They're Forced To Process So Many Illegals Watch: Border Patrol Boss Admits Agency Cannot Protect US Because They're Forced To Process So Many Illegals

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Jason Owens, the new head of the Border Patrol has warned that the agency is unable to protect Americans from “hardened criminals” smuggling in weapons, drugs and gang members because it is so overwhelmed with processing thousands of illegal immigrants every day.

Appearing on ABC News, Owens stated that the Border Patrol cannot lawfully send back people illegally trying to enter the country over the Southern border, and has to “enforce the laws that are on the books.”

“In terms of flow and the threats that we’re seeing with Fentanyl and with the criminal organizations that are our adversary, it’s about as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” Owens urged.

He continued, “This isn’t sustainable. This is up-and-down the system, everybody is overwhelmed. Even the government of Mexico, which have been great partners for us, the U.S. Border Patrol, a lot of times our facilities are already over capacity.”


House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner blasted the Biden administration Sunday, charging that they are “encouraging” unsustainable surges at the border.

The GOP Rep. said that “the manner in which they have — have provided assistance to migrants, not really communicating that our borders should be closed. Instead, have encouraging an open border policy.”

“You know, this is a national security and an economic security threat. On national security, we’ve seen individuals on the terrorist watch list be apprehended. We certainly see fentanyl and other drugs coming across the border. On economic security, you even have the mayor of New York saying that it’s destroying his city,” Turner added.

He added that “the Biden administration just in the last 10 days took action to give 200,000 Venezuelans temporary protective status, which includes that they cannot be deported and work privileges.”

“If we had the right policies, they wouldn’t be here. By providing them these — the open assistance, what you’re seeing is an encouragement for others to come,” he further asserted.


Less than a quarter of American voters approve of Biden’s handling of the border, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.


*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Mon, 09/25/2023 - 12:45
Published:9/25/2023 11:49:08 AM
[Markets] BRICS Will Change The World... Slowly BRICS Will Change The World... Slowly


BRICS, the organization that is hardly noticed in the West, more than doubled its membership at the end of August – something is happening.


It seems to be more a rule than an exception that the most important changes in the history of financial systems either go completely unnoticed or the vast part of the public – including financial experts and investors – does not grasp the importance of such transformations.

There are several examples for this claim: On December 23, 1913 the Senate passed and President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act. The FED being as “federal” as “Federal Express”, a private bank whose shareholder register is not open to the public, rules the world since 1913. The date of December 23 was wisely chosen since the public and most politicians were too engaged in Christmas preparations to realize that this event would change the order of America and then the world forever. 

When Richard Nixon, on August 15, 1971, “temporarily” closed the gold window, the Sunday afternoon TV shows got interrupted – among else the TV series “Bonanza” – to inform the American people of his decision. Although, this event was called the Nixon Shock, people did not seem to grasp the importance of this deed. 

Lastly, the famously brilliant Henry Kissinger managed to make a deal with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in 1974, which gave the US unlimited financial and, therefore, geopolitical power by creating the Petrodollar, banishing the danger stemming from a U.S. dollar that was backed by nothing, by backing it with U.S. military might in exchange for nearly unlimited investments in U.S. bonds.

Now, on August 22, BRICS, an organization, which does not gather a lot of attention in the Western media, announced that, apart from the five countries, whose initials gave it its name (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), BRICS welcomed six new members (Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) to join BRICS by January 1, 2024; therefore, BRICS becoming BRICS 11. 

In this article, let us first quickly look at some facts & figures of BRICS 11. Then, we shall explore the history of the current financial system and it’s becoming in detail in order to appreciate its importance to U.S. power in the period from World War II to the present. Then we shall look at the way the U.S. abused the inherent privileges of this system, which is one reason that led to the current rise of BRICS. Finally, we shall try to answer the question whether the events of August 2023 have the potential to change the world or whether it will be one more fruitless endeavor of emerging market nations to stand-up against the Collective West.

Origin of BRICS

The term BRIC was coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in a 2001 paper where he explained the future economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

In 2006, the BRIC countries met for the first time on the fringes of the UN-General Assembly in New York. A first formal meeting took place in Yekaterinburg in 2009. The aim of this initially loose community was to improve cooperation among its members. In 2010, South Africa joined, which means that this organization has since been called BRICS. This August the number of its members more than doubled and we shall call it now BRICS 11.


With regard to the most important economic indicators such as population, GDP (PPP), oil, natural gas and gold production, naked figures show that BRICS 11 is much stronger with regard to any of these indicators than G7 (Table 1).

These figures on their own should be a wake-up call to all the people, experts, politicians and investors who still seem to believe that it is sufficient to judge the financial world from a pure western perspective. 

There are a few points I would like to draw the attention to of the readers regarding the way these naked figures could and should be read and interpreted. However, I am fully aware that I can only give you a glimpse at the reality and this exercise herein is of a very limited nature indeed. 

Regarding GDP, I use purchase power adjusted figures. Why? – If you use the U.S. dollar as a tally to measure GDP, ask yourself the simple question: If I want to measure financial punch, does it matter whether, e.g., a Big Mac costs twice as much in U.S. dollar terms in one place than in the other? – In my opinion it does. The Big Mac Index should be reason enough to use PPP-adjusted figures when comparing GDP figures. The reason that Western outlets use the non-adjusted figures is pure marketing masking the debasement of the U.S. dollar and appearing stronger than one is – propaganda.

Regarding oil production figures, we should consider the following facts when assessing them: Firstly, although the U.S. is still the largest oil producer in the world with a share of about 18% of world production, the U.S. are also the largest oil consumer, using-up more than 20% of world consumption. Therefore, the U.S. are at this time not even able to cover their own consumption. Secondly, the large oil-producing members of BRICS 11 have a big influence – or better – control over OPEC. Therefore, BRICS 11 will also rule OPEC and, therefore, control the price and distribution of oil, which has not been given the nick name “Black Gold” without good reason. Thirdly, the production cost of U.S. oil are about 2.5 times higher than the production cost of Saudi oil. 

Regarding natural gas one should note, that with the accession of Iran into BRICS, the two largest natural gas producers worldwide are joint members of BRICS: Russia and Iran. The largest non-BRICS gas producer is the (still) U.S. allied Qatar. BRICS is, therefore, also a powerhouse regarding natural gas indeed.

Regarding gold, it should shortly be mentioned that China and Russia are number 1 and 2 respectively regarding global gold production. Gold I mention in here since there is a rather good chance that – somewhere in the future – gold will again play a major role in future money systems, being the only manner to discipline central bankers who basically only did one thing since 1914 – printing money, debasing the U.S. dollar and cynically claiming to protect the currency. There are a lot of people in the West who actually claim that gold is a pet rock. These people do not understand the history of the past 4’000 years where gold was always king. The mere fact that Nixon abolished the gold standard in order to avoid bankruptcy is not a good argument against gold, but should be one in its favor. 


Bretton Woods

In order to grasp the importance of the rather swift developments around BRICS and the rationale behind it, we shall look at the present system of the financial corset so imposed by the U.S. on the rest of the world. How did the U.S. achieve such dominance, how the hegemon behaved since, and finally the probability of a change of the system. 

In 1944, the Americans reached the pinnacle of their power. They dominated the war effort together with the Russians, possessed 22,000 tons of gold, and the American industry produced 70% of the world’s manufactured goods. That is how complete dominance looks like: Military dominance, industrial dominance and gold – he who has the gold makes the rules. 

On top of these facts, the Americans – as ever – being the undisputed masters of marketing, persuaded the Europeans to believe that it was actually the U.S. who liberated Europe from the evil Mr. Hitler. This was a diplomatic master stroke since cold facts and figures clearly showed that the Russians bore the largest chunk liberating Europe from the Nazis. The Russians decimated the German Wehrmacht in the East and – in this endeavor – killed around 5 times more German soldiers than all western allies together at the western front. This very ability of marketing and deception by the United States would serve them well until the present day. 

Against such an overwhelming power, based on the three pillars of military might, industry and gold, the entire rest of the world – whether friend or foe – did not stand a chance to have any influence worth mentioning on influencing US intentions. 

The Bretton Woods system was thus an emanation of absolute U.S. power and not – as portrayed in history books – a mechanism negotiated by the victorious powers of World War II in an atmosphere of friendly partnership. 

Bretton Woods also sealed the demise of the British Empire by giving the Americans absolute power through pegging the currencies of 44 member states to the U.S. dollar, which in turn came out as the only currency of the world backed by gold. 

The British Empire on which the sun finally set, proposed a system that involved the introduction of an international settlement currency called the Bancor. This idea by John Maynard Keynes foresaw the Bancor being used as an international unit of account to which participating currencies would have been pegged. The value of the Bancor itself was to be backed by gold. The gold-backed Bancor would have served as the unit of account. A fair system giving a chance to countries with merit, leading to a multipolar world. However, a multipolar world was the last thing the Americans intended to build – they wanted to become the hegemon and achieved their goal; the British had not a snowball’s chance in hell with their – in my opinion – great idea. 

The Bretton Woods system gave all member states the contractual right to exchange the U.S. dollar they held for physical gold at a fix rate of U.S. dollar 35 per ounce of gold. Therefore, the Bretton Woods system should have forced the Americans to behave fiscally disciplined so that all member countries would keep confidence in the U.S. dollar believing that the U.S. dollar was indeed as good as gold.

The Americans, however, as the world power and hegemon, did not care one iota about the interests of their partners and, starting in the 1960s, printed more and more U.S. dollars to finance the Vietnam War and the Great Society project initiated by President Johnson. Both, the costs of the Vietnam War as well as the Great Society Project, the largest social program of the USA up to that time, whose main goal was to completely eliminate poverty and racial injustice, got completely out of hand.

The French were the first to realize that the U.S. dollar was losing value due to American money printing and began to exercise their contractual right to exchange their U.S. dollars for physical gold. Others followed suit. The Americans’ huge gold hoard melted away like butter in the sun. While the USA had more than 22,000 tons of gold at the end of the war, it was only over 8,000 tons in 1971.

On August 15, 1971, all major television stations in the U.S. interrupted their Sunday afternoon programming and President Nixon addressed the nation. He claimed that the speculators were waging an all-out war against the U.S. dollar and that he had thus ordered the U.S. dollar to be defended against these speculators. He informed the American people that he had instructed the treasury that the convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold be temporarily suspended. 

This all sounded very patriotic, but it was a complete lie. The speculators Nixon decried were actually member states of the Bretton Woods system who had realized that the Americans had ripped them off and were merely exercising their contractual right to exchange a debasing U.S. dollar for gold as stipulated in the Bretton Woods agreements. Nixon thus committed nothing less than breach of contract. The members of Bretton Woods were cheated and left sitting on their paper dollars being barred from getting their contractually stipulated gold.

Petrodollar – an exorbitant privilege

The deceived members of Bretton Woods decided not to hand over a declaration of war to the Americans, but kept silent like sheep and made a fist in their pockets. They probably believed that the Americans had dug their own grave by breaking the treaty. 

However, they had not reckoned with the brilliant Henry Kissinger. The man was sent by Richard Nixon on Mission Impossible to save the Dollar. Kissinger convinced Saudi King Faisal to sell his oil exclusively in U.S. dollars and to invest the proceeds in American government securities. In return, smart Henry promised Faisal military protection. Other countries and commodities followed. Like Houdini, Kissinger freed the U.S. from a dire situation by making the impossible possible. Mission accomplished: The Petrodollar was born. 

Now, if almost the entire world uses a single currency – the U.S. dollar – for almost all trading activities, all countries are obliged to hold this currency in reserve to pay their bills. These countries do not hold the reserves in cash, but invest them in American government securities to earn a return on their reserve holdings. In this way, the Americans managed to create the largest bond market in the world. It should be noted that the U.S. dollar is a product like any other, whose price is subject to the law of supply and demand. The U.S. dollar is not bought because it is a good investment in itself nor do most buyers purchase American products. No, U.S. dollars are required in order to buy nearly any product around the globe. This unjustifiably strengthens the price of the U.S. dollar. Why unjustifiably? – Other countries need to produce something worth buying that will hold up in the world market to keep their currencies valuable – the U.S. do not. 

If now the whole world has to hold U.S. dollars and holds them in American government securities, the American government finances itself very cheaply because the price of American bonds does not depend on the strength of the American economy, but is based on compulsory buying due to the Petrodollar system – ingenious. 

To put it bluntly, the U.S. could thus afford everything for over 50 years, because the bills were paid by others. Imagine a guy who goes shopping with a credit card that has not limit. He has a big mouth, buys everything he wants and never pays the credit card bill, but owes the money to those who sell him the goods, the latter never getting paid but receive an IOU only.

Only due to this – for the U.S. – brilliant system were the Americans able to increase their deficits to levels which can only be described as mind boggling: When Roland Reagan took office, US-debt was below 1 trillion, now it stands at over 33 trillion. Any other nation would have collapsed since nobody would dare to put money in such a black hole – but the whole world has to keep buying U.S. dollars due to the Petrodollar system. So, now we know how the U.S. could cultivate a lifestyle at the expense of others for over 50 years that in no way correlates with the performance of its economy. This great lifestyle is based only on the compulsion of the rest of the world to hold U.S. dollars. Giscard d’Estaing called this advantage an exorbitant privilege – rightly so.

Petrodollar, a geopolitical power tool abused by the U.S.

When it came to maintaining their privilege, the U.S. showed little squeamishness if anyone dared to break away from the Petrodollar regime. In recent history, two examples may be mentioned. We all remember the second Iraq war, when it was claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that this put the USA in danger. Despite a unambiguous report from the UN that there were no weapons of mass destruction or even a single hint that they existed, the Americans attacked Iraq anyway in order to rid the world of the evil Saddam Hussein and bring peace and freedom to the Iraqis. A big lie. Weapons of mass destruction were not to be found in Iraq; half a million civilians were killed – their relatives were certainly thrilled about this kind of democratic gift that the U.S. forced upon them. The reason for the Iraq war was a different one: the Petrodollar. Saddam Hussein – we don’t need to dwell on his qualities as a human being here – wanted to sell his oil not only in U.S. dollars but also in Euros. That was his death sentence. Anyone who claims otherwise is either ill-informed, naive or lying. The facts are on the table.

President Gaddafi ruled Libya with a strong hand for decades. He made Libya the richest country in Africa with an excellent infrastructure. Whether Colonel Gaddafi was a do-gooder or not is also not a topic of this discussion. Gaddafi also had a plan to get away from the U.S. dollar: He wanted to create the Gold Dinar to free Africa from the shackles of the Petrodollar. This, too, did not go over well with the Americans. The result was a dead Gaddafi and a completely destroyed country.

These two examples bring us to the geopolitical might the U.S. draws from the Petrodollar.  It is important to know that only the U.S. Federal Reserve can actually hold U.S. dollars. Every bank in the world that offers U.S. dollar accounts ultimately only has a booking entry for a U.S. dollar amount and a contractual claim against the US central bank. This also explains that any payment made in U.S. dollars goes through the U.S. Thus, the Americans can single-handedly cut off any party – be it a country or an individual – from the U.S. dollar or freeze or seize a party’s U.S. dollars holdings.

The U.S. has been using this tool systematically since World War II with countries deemed worthy of being punished or destroyed economically, e.g., the U.S. sanction Cuba for over 60 years or Iran for over 40 years.

This use of force was justified by the USA with flimsiest arguments like communism, terrorism, war crimes etc. Whether the accusations were or are true or not, is completely irrelevant, because the judge sits in the U.S. and the legal basis is force. Depending on the decade you live in, you gets the label of communist, terrorist, drug dealer if you have the audacity to disagree with the hegemon. And the lapdogs such as the European “rulers” agree with the empire and serve as its willing assistants.

When the Americans impose such sanctions, they regularly threaten any party that does business with the sanctioned party with sanctions as well. These so-called secondary sanctions work since most international business is transacted in U.S. dollars and the respective companies – banks, commodity buyers, industrial suppliers – have no choice, but to comply.

A lot of people in the world are of the opinion that the U.S. are not behaving fairly towards the rest of the world and completely abuse their exorbitant privilege they possess with the Petrodollar.

This concludes our journey into the world of the Petrodollar and brings us to the reasons why BRICS want to say goodbye to the U.S. dollar, as the U.S. has overstepped the mark. After the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West, led by the U.S., not only slapped Russia with a flurry of sanctions that has no equal in history, but also froze the foreign currency reserves of the Russian Central Bank. Shortly thereafter, discussions began as to what the West intended to do with the funds. After the freeze, the robbery is now being discussed.

I strongly believe that with the freezing of the reserves of the Russian Central Bank, the U.S. triggered a reaction they did not expect. Huge nations like India and China became suddenly concerned that the freezing of Russian Central Bank assets set a precedent and could also happen to them, especially in the more than tensioned geopolitical situation of today where anybody who cares can easily observe that the strategy of weakening Russia is only a pre-course of the battle the U.S. will lead against China. This is also the reason that BRICS seems to speed-up the process. Apart from the current 11 members of BRICS around 40 further nations applied to join.

The trigger for the attack on the petrodollar

This concludes our journey into the world of the Petrodollar and brings us to the reasons why BRICS want to say goodbye to the U.S. dollar, as the U.S. has overstepped the mark. After the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West, led by the U.S., not only slapped Russia with a flurry of sanctions that has no equal in history, but also froze the foreign currency reserves of the Russian Central Bank. Shortly thereafter, discussions began as to what the West intended to do with the funds. After the freeze, the robbery is now being discussed.

I strongly believe that with the freezing of the reserves of the Russian Central Bank, the U.S. triggered a reaction they did not expect. Huge nations like India and China became suddenly concerned that the freezing of Russian Central Bank assets set a precedent and could also happen to them, especially in the more than tensioned geopolitical situation of today where anybody who cares can easily observe that the strategy of weakening Russia is only a pre-course of the battle the U.S. will lead against China. This is also the reason that BRICS seems to speed-up the process. Apart from the current 11 members of BRICS around 40 further nations applied to join.


We have now seen that the might of the U.S. and the fate of their economic well-being very much hinges on the Petrodollar and that the American leadership is very well aware of this fact, crushing anybody who dares not to use the U.S. dollar in international trade. 

In my opinion, however, the U.S. government misjudges its own leverage to put fear into other nations at this time. The Petrodollar system only works as flawlessly as it did in the past as long as the U.S. were able to control the world with mere threats, which were – once in a while – kinetically executed as it was the case with Iraq and Libya. However, the embarrassing retreat from Afghanistan did not help the U.S. to be seen as the military force they like to portray. The loss of influence over Saudi Arabia and Iran is a painful geopolitical sign for U.S. foreign policy. The peace reached between Saudi Arabia and Iran and then between Saudi Arabia and Syria is not only an economic disaster to the U.S. regarding oil, but a geopolitical catastrophe regarding U.S. influence in the Middle East. With these peace makings, the U.S. have been deprived of their ability to play out the strategy of divide et impera since the U.S. cannot manipulate these countries anymore and it seems that the U.S. are not feared anymore. As a group the middle east nations became too powerful and do sell their commodities in other currencies other than the U.S. dollar – a scenario which was completely unthinkable just a few years ago. 

BRICS 11 will have one immediate consequence: Their members will not use the U.S. dollar when trading among each other. This is a huge problem for the U.S. since these countries will reduce their U.S. dollar holdings and therefore, the refinancing of the U.S. budget becomes a problem, leading to higher interest rates, which will in turn lead to higher inflation and a further debasement of the U.S. dollar because what cannot be raised in the international markets has to be printed. 

The much-discussed introduction of a new settlement currency based on gold within BRICS is not a necessary element to de-dollarization. Such introduction faces substantial hurdles also due to the heterogeneity of the BRICS members. However, the consequences for the U.S. dollar will be immediate and problematic to the U.S. 

We explained the vast power of the United States since World War II. It is in my opinion a myth that the U.S. hegemony is based on its military might. Far more important is their financial hegemony which – at least until now – allowed the U.S. to more or less control the world with a relatively small army and 9 aircraft carrier groups who regularly, as a show of force, bomb the hell out of small countries which do not have air forces or air defense systems to stand a chance against U.S. force. The whole U.S. power is based on the Petrodollar – that is my belief.


There are authors who predict a quick demise of the Petrodollar and, therefore, of the American financial hegemony, which in turn will lead to the demise of the U.S. as the undisputed geopolitical world leader. Fact is, that a substantial part of the world will avoid using the U.S. dollar in trade. This development has already started. Therefore, the trend is set. However, it is in my opinion impossible to make any prediction as to the speed and timing of this trend. The proclaimed goal of BRICS and other organizations of the Global South, such as SCO, EEU, the Arab League and OPEC is to build a multipolar world. This seems to be a realistic goal. However, one should also take into consideration, that the larger these organizations become, the more heterogeneous they become and the difficulty of implementation of a common course of action will rise in line with the number of the respective members. Lastly, I would like to draw the attention to one historical fact a lot of people are not aware of. When the U.S. were at the peak of their might and forced Bretton Woods on the rest of the world, it still took 12 years until the U.S. dollar overtook the British pound in international trade in 1956. Some trends may be irreversible – but they take time. 

*  *  *

This article appeared in English in the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report by Swiss financial expert Marc Faber and in abbreviated form on September 21, 2023 in the print edition of Weltwoche and on Weltwoche Online in German.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/25/2023 - 00:20
Published:9/25/2023 12:15:47 AM
[Markets] Poland's PM Warns Zelensky "Never Insult" Polish People Again Poland's PM Warns Zelensky "Never Insult" Polish People Again

"I… want to tell President Zelenskyy never to insult Poles again, as he did recently during his speech at the UN," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at an election rally on Friday, Polish national news agency PAP reported.

This came days after Morawiecki announced, "We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons." 

Zelensky had during his UN address to the general assembly in New York blasted the "political theatre" around grain imports. It was seen as a swipe at Warsaw, given he was chastising those who Ukraine sees as helping the Russian cause. The spat was very bad timing for Zelensky given he's currently in North America to rally the US and Canada behind staying the course in supporting Kiev - meaning more money, and more advanced weapons.

NurPhoto via Getty Images file

And the Ukrainian leader had more to say in Canada where he met with PM Justin Trudeau and spoke before the House of Commons

"You help either Ukraine or Russia. There will be no mediators in this war. By weakening assistance to Ukraine, you will strengthen Russia."

"And a powerful Russia and what to expect from it… I think history in books and witnesses has long since answered this question. If someone wants to take a risk, fine, weaken assistance to Ukrainians," he said, according to a statement posted on the Ukrainian president’s website.

Poland was not mentioned directly in these comments, nor before the UN General Assembly, but the message was clear.

Still, Poland has sought to cool the ratcheting tensions with Kiev, with President Andrzej Duda saying in separate comments Friday that Poland is still a staunch supporter of the Ukrainian cause amidst the Russian invasion. 

Poland led a handful of eastern European countries, including Hungary and Bulgaria, in extending a controversial Ukrainian grain import ban which they say harms local farmers.

"I have no doubt that the dispute over the supply of grain from Ukraine to the Polish market is an absolute fragment of the entire Polish-Ukrainian relations," Duda said. "I don’t believe that it can have a significant impact on them, so we need to solve this matter between us."

The Poland-Ukraine rift has without doubt contributed to a general cooling of "blank check" support to the Zelensky government, and this comes in the context of a failing Ukrainian counteroffensive. 

Still, the official Polish government position remains that it will "continue to back Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO and the EU."

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 07:35
Published:9/24/2023 6:46:09 AM
[Markets] The Censorship Industrial Complex Exposes The Kleptocracy's True Intentions The Censorship Industrial Complex Exposes The Kleptocracy's True Intentions

Authored by Mitch Nemeth via The Mises Institute,

In the past decade, the growth of the Internet and social media has brought with it a dramatic uptick in populist sentiment.

Legacy institutions have declared war against populism, referring to its claims as “misinformation” or “disinformation” and calling on the government or government-adjacent actors (herein referred to as “the censors”) to clamp down on such claims as they spread across the Internet like wildfire.

The censors rarely decline these opportunities to silence criticism, justifying the censorship as a matter of “national security.”

More than other Western nations, the United States champions freedom of speech.

But it has frequently failed in its aspirations, beginning in 1798 with the Alien and Sedition Acts.

There are countless examples since then of the US failing to adhere to its core value system, too many to recount in one brief article.

The Internet Lets Claims Spread Like Wildfire

Beginning with the Arab Spring in 2010, the extent to which social media could foster grassroots campaigns against perceived tyranny or injustice became increasingly apparent. Martin Gurri, a former CIA analyst, has commented on such phenomena at length in his book, The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millenium.

The nation-state correctly perceives in revolutions a threat to its existing foundations and deploys various methods to crush dissent. Western nations do not typically deploy the military against the masses or declare martial law. The US has taken a different but directionally similar approach, whereby law enforcement and intelligence agencies form cozy partnerships with private actors, such as social media platforms, financial institutions, and other digital intermediaries.

After the Great Recession, populist movements, like Occupy Wall Street on the Left and the Tea Party movement on the Right, garnered dramatic support across Western nations. As with most populist movements, a significant number of the activists embraced ideas branded as “conspiracy theories” by the established order. Rather than examining these allegations, the established order preferred to label the entire movement “crazy” or “conspiratorial.”

Since the movements began, there has been a significant convergence of Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party thought leaders. It is no coincidence that, despite their different politial affiliations, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, and Michael Shellenberger often sound like Tucker Carlson, Dan Bongino, and Donald Trump when it comes to criticizing the government and legacy institutions.

Each of these men has been personally targeted by the censorship industrial complex.

The Twitter Files Expose the Censorship Racket

On March 9, 2023, Michael Shellenberger delivered his testimony to the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which he titled “The Censorship Industrial Complex.” In sixty-eight pages, Michael Shellenberger outlines how “Americans taxpayers are unwittingly financing the growth and power of a censorship-industrial complex run by America’s scientific and technological elite.” He also discusses how the Twitter Files documents “have revealed a large and growing network of government agencies, academic institutions, and nongovernmental organizations that are actively censoring Americans citizens, often without their knowledge.”

In his testimony, Shellenberger aptly describes the censorship industrial complex as “a network of ideologically-aligned government, NGO, and academic institutions that discovered over the last few years the power of censorship to protect their own interests against the volatility and risks of the democratic process.” This contention strongly rebuts the ridiculous claim made by corporate media outlets that censorship is often necessary to “protect our democracy.” For legacy institutions, an apparent devotion to democracy is often little more than a cover for kleptocracy, something Fred Siegel touches on in The Revolt against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class.

On August 7, 2023, Michael Shellenberger’s Substack exposed the censorship racket between Facebook executives and the White House. The authors note that “newly released internal emails show that Facebook executives felt pressure to comply with White House demands in order to resolve a European Union ban on the social media company’s ability to transfer the data of European users to its servers in the United States.” In the past few years, the European Union has taken a heavy-handed regulatory approach toward US-based social media platforms. These platforms relied on the US to advocate for them during the negotiation of the EU-US Data Privacy Framework. Without a clear, negotiated framework, these firms would feel significant financial pressure. As the authors of the Substack article note, “The series of events suggests a quid pro quo. Facebook would bow to White House requests for censorship in exchange for its help with the European Union.”

In the past decade, the censorship industrial complex has gained considerable momentum and institutional support. Elite support for censorship is so entrenched that the Harvard Kennedy School published a commentary in September 2022 titled, “Mis- and disinformation studies are too big to fail.” While Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has dimmed opportunities for the censorship industrial complex, there is still much to be done.

In February 2021, an article in Time described a “shadow campaign” that manipulated the 2020 election in the legacy institutions’ preferred direction.

If activists are to dismantle the censorship industrial complex, they must do more than expose the machinery—they must win elections.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 00:05
Published:9/23/2023 11:30:13 PM
[] American Library Association president thinks libraries need to be a site of socialist organizing Published:9/23/2023 4:12:55 PM
[World] Gita Mehta, literary chronicler of modern India, dies at 80 She explored the country’s history and culture in five novels and nonfiction books, including “Karma Cola” and “Snakes and Ladders.” Published:9/22/2023 6:51:59 PM
[Markets] Author Of 'Gender Queer' Book Found In Schools Says "I Don't Recommend This Book For Kids" Author Of 'Gender Queer' Book Found In Schools Says "I Don't Recommend This Book For Kids"

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

The author of the book titled ‘Gender Queer’, one of the controversial LGBTQ+ materials featuring explicit images that has cropped up again and again in schools has stated that the book is not meant to be available for young children.

Maia Kobabe, who identifies as non-binary told the Washington Post that her book is aimed at “older teens,” not kindergarten aged kids.

“It keeps being called a children’s book … but I think that’s coming from a misreading of the comic-book form. ‘Gender Queer’ is a comic, and in full color, but that doesn’t mean it’s for children,” Kobabe stated.

“I originally wrote it for my parents, and then for older teens who were already asking these questions about themselves. I don’t recommend this book for kids!” she said in the interview published last week.

The comments come after GOP Senator John Kennedy read aloud graphic excerpts during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing:

Kennedy read “I got a new strap-on harness today. I can’t wait to put it on you. It will fit my favorite dildo perfectly. You’re going to look so hot. I can’t wait to have your c**k in my mouth. I’m going to give you the blow job of your life. Then I want you inside of me.”

“The words you spoke are disturbing, especially coming out of your mouth, it’s very disturbing,” Illinois Secretary of State Alexander Giannoulias told Kennedy in response.

The book is one of several that have prompted outrage and protests among parents as it features graphic illustrations of sex between two men, use of sex toys, oral sex, and masturbation, among other things.

Passages from the book have been read out by parents during school board meetings, in some cases leading to them being shut down and asked to leave.

The Gender Queer book was also cited by Chelsea Clinton in tweets defending the use of such material in schools:


*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 09/22/2023 - 17:00
Published:9/22/2023 4:17:26 PM
[Markets] The Valorization Of The Tyrants The Valorization Of The Tyrants

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Epoch Times,

This is surely one of the strangest twists in official narratives in perhaps hundreds of years. The bad guys have been christened as the good guys, and the good guys have been purged, deplatformed, canceled, and demonized.

It’s a turn of events none of us could have imagined back in 2020. It cries out for an explanation. I truly fear knowing the answer as to why.

Just consider the fate of former New Zealand Prime Jacinda Ardern.

She locked down her country, trampling all rights of the people under the guise of controlling the spread of a virus. You could not go to church. You could not be unmasked. You could not leave the country and return. No one could travel there without official permission.

As bad as the United States and Europe were during this period, New Zealand was worse, and it was backed up by speech controls. Anyone protesting the policies was risking everything. And when the vaccine came along, Ardern outright said it: the people who get it will have rights but those who do not will not. It was a new biomedical caste system.

Eventually, the country did open. Now speakers decrying the whole period are attracting audiences in the thousands, and Ardern is widely unpopular. Her successor who continues to defend all this despotism is under a cloud and also deeply unpopular. The tables have completely turned. Of course the virus came anyway, as it must, so the junta that did this has turned their attention to climate change, the defense of censorship, and the escalation of the Russia/Ukraine war.

Five years ago, anyone would have supposed that a leader that acted this way would live in shame. I certainly assumed so. My supposition is that Ardern had made horrific misjudgments and would be widely decried as a confused tyrant. She would live out her days in disrepute, surely.

The opposite has happened. She is now the subject of celebratory biographies. She is lauded by mainstream media. She addressed the United Nations last year in a speech that was an open call for a new global censorship regime. True, the fact-checkers disagree with this interpretation. Instead she was merely calling out “the weaponization of free speech societies and platforms by misinformation agents.”


In any case, in my imagination, I could not have dreamed up a specimen of error and tyranny more deserving of devaluing than Jacinda Ardern. Everything she did during the COVID era flies in the face of values that the West has held for almost a thousand years since the Magna Carta.

But I was wrong. Completely. I underestimated just how broken the world is. Instead of being disgraced, she is enjoying not one but two fellowships at Harvard University where she enjoys massive prestige and adoration by faculty, staff, and students. To me, this seems like the Twilight Zone—an ending to the story that I could not have imagined. Are we supposed to be against segregation, house arrest, forced medical treatments, locking people in nations, and censorship? I thought at least we would agree on that much. Apparently not. Apparently, it is the opposite. Everything that I believed was deprecated is exalted and all the public virtues I believed we extolled are now denounced.

It’s not just Ardern. The whole tiny but global junta that imposed all these policies seemed to be enjoying a glorious send-off by the entire establishment, even though they have been 100 percent wrong about everything. Fauci’s successor is Fauci II, and same with Walensky’s successor at the CDC. And the media propagandists who for three years lied to the public about lockdowns, masks, school closures, and shots are now writing books that are calling people like me the bad guys!

I almost cannot imagine that this has happened and I cannot fathom why.

As another example, the New York Times op-ed page has carried an amazing and very long article by Yoel Roth, the former chief censor of Twitter 1.0 before he was summarily fired by Elon Musk. The Times let him tell his tale of woe on how oppressed and beaten down he is merely for enforcing trust and safety. He was only doing his job to stop online lies!

The Twitter Files revealed that the company was obeying government priorities and blocking and throttling content that took issue with COVID policies, questions surrounding election integrity, and vaccine effectiveness. Roth, in cooperation with federal agencies, set himself up as the arbiter of truth and arguably distorted information flows based on his personal bias.

Like Ardern, I might have expected that he would retire from public life and deploy his considerable communication for a small company somewhere. But I was wrong again. Instead he holds a coveted position at the University of Pennsylvania and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For that matter, Anthony Fauci himself is enjoying a comfy sinecure at Georgetown University.

This is not just about how high-end academia has become a haven for woke politics, censorship, and wildly pro-statist thinking across the board. That battle seems to have been won by the bad guys perhaps two decades ago. The problem is much larger. It has to do with the entire academic, corporate, political, and deep-state establishment that was heavily involved in imposing a despotic turn for the entire globe.

They are right now in the business of protecting their own, trolling the rest of us by granting awards and honors to the absolute worst offenders of core Western values. It’s like the world has been turned upside down. As grim as I believed the lockdowns that began in March 2020 were, and as much as I expected some terrible economic and cultural fallout from that period, I never would have imagined that the lockdowners and mandaters would be riding high at 42 months of this.

And at the very same time, the purges of the people who were right all along are continuing at a furious pace. Every day, we observe sneaky attacks on the greatest champions of basic liberties on which I thought everyone agreed back in 2019. Every unflattering bit of personal information on the resistors is fair game, amplified by the media, and then realized in the form of demonetizations by Big Tech, the courts, and the professional circuit generally.

The battle lines are very clear and only one side stands for the rights and liberties for which humanity worked for a millennium. The other side stands for controls, impositions, divisions, surveillance, censorship, degrowth, and corporate cartelizations. Can someone explain to me why we are supposed to think that the bad guys are now the good guys? In short, how can we account for the valorization of tyrants?

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/21/2023 - 23:40
Published:9/21/2023 11:47:55 PM
[Markets] AI, Critical-Thinking, & The Future Of Freedom AI, Critical-Thinking, & The Future Of Freedom

Authored by Emile Phaneuf III via The American Institute for Economic Research,

University professors around the world are struggling to adapt to a student body that is, for the first time in history, able to generate essays and conduct other sophisticated tasks in just a few seconds by ordering an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot such as ChatGPT to roll up its digital sleeves and do the dirty work.

Since ChatGPT’s launch, I took the general viewpoint that higher education would eventually have to come around to allowing students to use such technologies as just another tool for research and writing, just as calculators are usually considered fair game in math classes.

I was then delighted to stumble upon the AI chatbot policy of Stephen Hicks, Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University in Illinois. His policy reads as follows:

I encourage you to use ChatGPT.

It is a powerful new research tool. Anything that enables you to learn faster and become more skillful is to be embraced.

At the same time, a tool is not a substitute for your own self-development. As a student, your goal is to acquire as much new knowledge as you can and to become skillful with every useful learning tool available. The goal is for you to become knowledgeable and wise, and for you to become excellent at research and judgment.

Metaphorically: Become a lean, mean learning machine. And make that a personal goal and a matter of honor.

If you are taking this course for credit, it is your responsibility to demonstrate that the work you submit is your own. There are many ways to do that, and you and I can consult individually to determine which way is best for you.

Stephen R. C. Hicks
Professor of Philosophy

As you see, while Hicks recognizes the importance of the students’ own individual self-development, he still embraces an important disruptive technology that can push beyond the more laborious traditional methods of researching and writing.

This reminds me of my 7th grade math teacher. She was an elderly lady who was often capable of working out long division math problems in her head, and she recounted stories of people she knew in her youth who were even more capable. (We, her students, worked it out on paper). Given that she grew up before the launch of the pocket calculator, her more advanced quantitative skills revealed the extent to which she was a product of her time. Similarly, as a student during middle school, I was (I believe) better at spelling than I am now, but then software (word processors) disrupted that with spell check. “Spelling Bees” seemed to disappear as I got older. While I am more reliant on spell check than I was in my younger years, it seems that this has freed up both cognitive space and time for me to be able to focus on more advanced (and less mundane) tasks. This phenomenon was articulated beautifully by Alfred North Whitehead:

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

It seems to me that perhaps, for the first time ever, it could be critical thinking itself that is disrupted (at least at scale; a calculator does the same at a much smaller scale).

A new problem for freedom?

If I am correct that AI will disrupt critical thinking itself, then it appears that we have a new potential threat to a free society. Consider, for a moment, the motto of the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala:

The education and spreading of ethical, judicial, and economic principles of a society of free and responsible persons

Being free and responsible comes with an implied necessity for a citizenry capable of thinking for itself. But if I am correct that AI is on its way to disrupt critical thinking itself, then new generations of people may never learn critical thinking in the first place. If a free society requires a citizenry of free and independent thinkers, the future of freedom is confronted with a new problem. 

Or, perhaps that worry is overly pessimistic. The way I see it, a combination of at least a couple of things is likely to happen. Upon first glance, they may seem at odds, but we could see that in some way one is true, while in another way, the other is simultaneously true. 

  1. Critical thinking is diminished because of an overreliance on AI. AI here, over the long-term, serves as a crutch. (This is the main concern I raise in this article). 

  2. Critical thinking reaches new heights, aided by AI.

What remains of raw, mere-human critical thinking (without aid of AI) will likely need to be channeled into a certain healthy distrust for the biases of the AI bots and their developers, and into understanding the incentives under which the developers (and those who financially support them) operate.

Whatever the outcome, let’s hope that AI (on the whole) works to serve as a tool for the betterment of the human condition, allowing for “a society of free and responsible persons.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/20/2023 - 19:40
Published:9/20/2023 7:06:15 PM
[Entertainment] ‘Game of Thrones’ author and others accuse ChatGPT maker of ‘theft’ in lawsuit A new lawsuit led by prominent novelists alleges OpenAI illegally used their books to train its AI tools. Published:9/20/2023 5:54:27 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:9/20/2023 7:06:27 AM
[Markets] New Study Detects Spike Protein 6 Months After COVID-19 Vaccination New Study Detects Spike Protein 6 Months After COVID-19 Vaccination

Authored by Megan Redshaw via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines is “broken down within a few days after vaccination and doesn’t last long in the body”—a position it has adhered to since the pandemic's beginning, despite research suggesting otherwise (pdf). The CDC refers to mRNA as “messenger RNA,” whereas regulatory documents and Pfizer refer to the mRNA in COVID-19 vaccines as “modified RNA.”

Yet a new study published on Aug. 31 in Proteomics Clinical Applications found spike protein in the biological fluids of people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine six months after vaccination, suggesting mRNA may be integrated or retranscribed in some cells.

The study group included 20 subjects who received two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, 20 who were unvaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19 or antibodies indicating they had previously been infected, and a control group of 20 unvaccinated participants who tested positive for COVID-19.

Researchers then tested to differentiate synthetic spike proteins originating from mRNA vaccines from natural spike proteins in biological fluids, such as blood, urine, saliva, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids of study participants and monitored vaccine-induced spike protein following vaccination.

Spike Protein From mRNA Differs from Post-Infection Spike Protein

According to the study, spike proteins originating from the translation of mRNA vaccines differ from natural spike proteins that circulate in biological fluids post-infection because two proline amino acids replaced the amino acids lysine and valine to help stabilize the synthetic spike generated by vaccination. This double amino acid variation removed a tryptic digestion site (a necessary part of protein absorption) on the natural spike protein. Because of this, researchers said it is possible to differentiate between natural and synthetic spike protein in biological fluids using tryptic digestion followed by mass spectrometry analysis.

Utilizing these techniques, researchers detected specific fragments of synthetic spike protein in about 50 percent of subjects who received mRNA vaccines. The synthetic spike protein was detected from 69 to 187 days following vaccination. All samples from the unvaccinated control group were negative, including the 20 individuals who had tested positive after contracting COVID-19.

3 Hypotheses for Persistent Synthetic Spike Protein in Vaccinated

Based on the results of the study, researchers suggested three possible hypotheses to explain why synthetic spike protein persisted in the vaccinated:

  • The mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines may be integrated or retranscribed in some cells.
  • Pseudouridines at a particular sequence position may induce the formation of a spike protein, although the researchers stated this was a remote possibility.
  • The mRNA-containing nanoparticles may be picked up by bacteria ordinarily present at the basal level in the blood and produce spike protein.

Although researchers said all three hypotheses need further study, they concluded that their initial observations could aid in an individual’s decision about whether to take boosters.

Other Studies

In a recently published paper in Biomedicines, data show the design of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines allows uncontrolled biodistribution, durability, and persistent bioavailability of the spike protein inside the body after vaccination.

The lipid-nanoparticle matrix permits widespread biodistribution of mRNA gene codes to cells in most or all organs” and could potentially damage tissues and cause disease, researchers concluded.

A study published in November 2021 in the Journal of Immunology found exosomes expressing spike protein 14 days after vaccination with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. A spike protein increase was observed four months following the second vaccine dose and increased following booster doses.

In a January 2023 study published in the Journal of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, researchers found full-length or traces of SARS-CoV-2 spike mRNA in some patient samples up to 28 days after COVID-19 vaccination, indicating prolonged spike protein production.

A study published in March 2022 in Cell found vaccine mRNA in lymph nodes on days 7, 16, and 37 following vaccination, with lower but still appreciable levels at day 60. Immunohistochemical staining for spike antigen in mRNA-vaccinated patient lipid nanoparticles in some individuals showed an abundant amount of spike protein 16 days after the second dose, with spike antigen “still present as late as 60 days post-second dose,” researchers said.

A Pfizer Japanese biodistribution study showed COVID-19 vaccine spike protein can travel from the injection site through the blood and accumulate in organs and tissues, including the spleen, bone marrow, liver, adrenal glands, and ovaries. Vaccine mRNA was present from the day of vaccination and persisted in the bloodstream for weeks after vaccination.

CDC Says Vaccines Do Not Affect DNA, Despite Conflicting Evidence

The CDC, in addition to claiming mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines quickly break down within the body, also states on its website that these vaccines “do not affect or interact with our DNA”—the genetic material contained within the nucleus of cells—because these vaccines do not “enter the nucleus of the cell.”

The agency says “messenger RNA” COVID-19 vaccines work by “delivering instructions (genetical material) to our cells to start building protection” against SARS-CoV-2, and that the body discards all vaccine ingredients after producing an immune response just as it discards “any information cells no longer need.” According to the CDC, this process is a “part of normal body functioning.”

The current analysis and previous studies challenge this position. A February 2022 study published in Current Issues in Molecular Biology shows reverse transcription of vaccine mRNA into DNA using human liver cell lines. Additional studies have shown RNA from SARS-CoV-2 can be reverse-transcribed and integrated into the genome of cultured human cells—and expressed in patient-derived tissues or by virus-infected cells.

To date, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data on mRNA COVID-19 vaccines is limited. Pharmacokinetics is the study of how the body responds to administered substances throughout the entire duration of exposure. Pharmacodynamics assesses the drug’s effect on the body more closely. Understanding how long spike protein is produced by the body and how long it is present in biological tissues could explain the unprecedented number of adverse events that appear to be associated with the spike protein produced by vaccines.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/20/2023 - 03:30
Published:9/20/2023 2:33:37 AM
[Markets] Competition Is Demonized, Participation Trophies An Acceptable Norm? Not In This Man's World Competition Is Demonized, Participation Trophies An Acceptable Norm? Not In This Man's World

Authored by Frank Bill via SOFREP,

Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.  -Bruce Lee

Over the past several years, a trend has emerged to label anything that deals with men, exercise, and masculinity as toxic.

In July of 2023, MSNBC reshared a year-old-tweet by extremism expert Cynthia Miller-Idrissthat she penned in March of 2022, sounding the alarm that young men were being radicalized and recruited through encrypted chat groups, they’re ‘lured with health tips and strategies for positive physical changes.’ Researchers reported this as “fascist fitness.”



The author goes on to mention that physical fitness has always been central to the far right, referencing Mein Kampf and Hitler’s fixation with boxing and jujitsu. The author goes on to claim that far-right groups are setting up mixed martial arts and boxing gyms in Ukraine, Canada, and France.

Mrs. Cynthia Miller-Idriss speaks of extremism and fitness as it connects to an obsession with the male body, training, masculinity, testosterone, strength, and competition. She talks of how combat sports are appealing to the far right because fighters are trained to accept physical pain, become warriors, and embrace solidarity, heroism, and brotherhood. I’m guessing she thinks that when a person, male or female, joins a CrossFit gym, a powerlifting gym, boxing, Muay Thai gym, or jujitsu school, a community from all walks of life, the bonds and confidence they build there is supposed to be a form of extremism.

She sums this up by going full-on crazy Charles-Manson-Helter-Skelter, saying, “It’s championed as a tool to help fight the ‘coming race war’ and the battles that will proceed it.

Hard men learn to do hard things. Suck it up. SOFREP original illustration.

The author’s article delivered backlash from the likes of Podcaster Joe Rogan, an avid strength trainer and jujitsu practitioner who tweeted, ‘Being healthy is “far right.” Holy fuck. Then, the comment section exploded.

Considering I’ve never been an avid gym member (I go to the local gym when I’m on vacation), but I’ve had a home gym, been strength training with Olympic weights and body weight calisthenics all of my life since age 11, as a kid I looked up to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Reg Park, Clint Eastwood, and Sylvester Stallone. I grew up on the pugilism of pro boxing, being motivated by everyone from Jack Johnson, James Braddock, Muhammad Ali, to Arturo Gatti. That doesn’t include my training in Martial Arts from age 12 until my mid-30s. Being influenced by men like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Jackie Chan. Men who overcame adversity through their chosen training. Why? One might ask, because fitness requires effort, goal setting, discipline, and a resilience of self. These guys didn’t get participation trophies. They earned their way in life while overlooking negativity.

Stand back, or you could be splattered with testosterone. SOFREP original illustration.

Does that make me a racist? No, it does not. I’ve taught, studied, and trained in many disciplines throughout my life, including Korean Tae Known Do, Traditional Chinese Kung Fu, Western and Eastern Boxing, Brazilian Jujitsu, and Jeet Kune Do with all creeds and colors of people.

White supremacy was never part of the curriculum. Community, bonding, and hard work were front and center.

Fitness is the single most important daily endeavor that a person can embark upon. Movement molds a person into a better person. Creates discipline. Promotes health, mental and physical.

Examples from influencers/authors/podcasters such as Jocko Willink, Joe Rogan, Cameron Hanes, Mike Rowe, Joe DeSena, and David Goggins, though sometimes extreme, promote leadership, positivity, and goodwill. And no-nonsense motivation to be a little better each and every day. And they give back to their community.

Discussing what society has lost with retired Strength and Conditioning Coach Jim Steel from the University of PA, we narrowed it down to the simplistic: people have gotten away from the rewards of hard work. A stronger mind, a stronger body, and a positive attitude. In other words, society no longer realizes our country wouldn’t be where it is without overcoming negativity and putting in the hard work to create better men. Men who built roads, bridges, and infrastructure. Farmed land to produce food. Fought in wars. Battled racism. Every person who succeeds in life has had obstacles to overcome to get to where they’re at.

Sadly, in this day and age, we’re the one country that can complain and criticize how free we are. And about the men who fought for this freedom.

Why not consider this? Another friend, Strength and Conditioning coach Zach Even-Esh, writes a daily newsletter. They’re informative and inspirational; one of the issues he’s encountered over the past 10-plus years when training younger athletes is the average teenager can’t do 10 pull-ups or push-ups. As a people, we’re letting our kids proceed backward.

Competition is demonized. Victimhood and participation trophies have become the acceptable norm, and kids have become weaker.

This carries over to becoming an adult. Testosterone levels in men have declined. Gen Z and millennials have lower testosterone when compared to their predecessors. Declining about 1% per year since 1980. Why is this? Many factors. Eating too much processed/junk food (fast food, chips, soda, white sugar). Stress from jobs that require less movement than in the past, like sitting behind a desk and staring at a monitor for hours on end. Mental health issues. Tight underwear. Not smoking (nicotine raises T; I don’t condone smoking). Not getting enough sleep. Oh, and men don’t get enough movement throughout their day. They don’t exercise. And guess what could curb or even eliminate all of these issues and raise men’s testosterone: exercise. Lifting weights, calisthenics, or bodyweight movements. Getting outdoors and getting your Vitamin D from sunlight, from daily walks, sprints, or push mowing your lawn. Getting eight hours of sleep. And eating real food.


Look, men have egos, and they have testosterone; that’s what makes us men. But in this day and age, we’re constantly being labeled as toxic. No wonder there’s a decline in testosterone. It’s the pampering of culture, the removal of hard work and grit. Doing hard things.

To paraphrase JFK, “We chose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” SOFREP original illustration.

Growing up in a blue-collar family, my father was constantly helping his in-laws on their farm, providing for my mother and me but also for his mother and his community of friends. He served in the Vietnam War as a Combat Engineer. He worked three jobs and took care of our home, and he was humble.

We’ve simplified life and removed effort and dedication. Commitment. Discipline. Work ethic. Goals. And most of all, pride. We’ve replaced it with excuses and weakness.

My advice to young men, stay off of social media and turn your phone off. Start journaling. Set daily goals. Read books. Learn a skill. Help others. Get outdoors. Go walking or hiking daily.

Lift weights, do bodyweight exercises, or join a gym. Quit making excuses. You’re not a victim.

Every man who’s succeeded in life did it by working hard and being dedicated. Regardless of how they were treated, shunned, or turned down, they did it by being resilient. It’s called being a man.

If you are enjoying this piece, why not subscribe to SOFREP + and have access to tons more great content, like this: Lions Led by Political Lambs: Why an Absence of Military Leaders is an Invitation for Enemies

SOFREP and Frank Bill go together like ribs and BBQ sauce. Click on the links to check out more of his fantastic body of work: The Ravaged, with Norman Reedus; the novels Back to the Dirt (May 2023), The Savage and Donnybrook, the latter of which was turned into a film in 2018; and the story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana, one of GQ’s favorite books of 2011 and a Daily Beast best debut of 2011. – GDM

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/20/2023 - 00:05
Published:9/19/2023 11:55:33 PM
[Markets] Sperry: Did Hunter Biden Lie In His Own Memoir To 'Protect The Family'? Sperry: Did Hunter Biden Lie In His Own Memoir To 'Protect The Family'?

Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClear Wire,

In a raft of glowing reviews, Hunter Biden’s 2019 memoir “Beautiful Things” was celebrated as an “unflinchingly honest” (Entertainment Weekly), “confession and an act of contrition” (Guardian), that was “candid” and “doesn’t hold back details” (New York Times) of his substance abuse and broken relationships.  

While describing the book as an “unvarnished confessional,” the Washington Post exalted it as a “harrowing, relentless and a determined exercise in trying to seize his own narrative from the clutches of the Republicans and the press. 

In the years since, testimony from a former business partner, Devon Archer, and newly disclosed emails indicate that the president’s son’s memoir was an exercise in spin rather than truth-telling, especially concerning his father’s role in his foreign business dealings, which are now the subject of a House impeachment inquiry. That evidence shows how the Bidens used the memoir to create a politically charged narrative – one largely embraced by the mainstream media – that distorted the truth to protect the family.  

On page 118, for example, Hunter writes that after accompanying then-Vice President Joe Biden to China on Air Force Two in 2013, he merely introduced his father to a well-connected Chinese investor. It was a quick greeting that lasted just long enough for a handshake. “While we were in Beijing, Dad met one of Devon’s Chinese partners, Jonathan Li, in the lobby of the American delegation’s hotel, just long enough to say hello and shake hands,” Hunter wrote. “Li and I then headed off for a cup of coffee.” 

The account seems to comport with now-President Biden’s repeated denials that he discussed business with his son or had any substantive involvement with his partners. 

However, Archer told a different story to U.S. lawmakers during a deposition earlier this year. “Jonathan Li and [Vice] President Biden had coffee,” Archer said, according to a recently released transcript of his interview with the House Oversight Committee. “They had coffee in Beijing,” he recalled, suggesting there may have been talk about their business relationship.

Li would later offer Hunter a 10% stake worth potentially millions in a Chinese investment fund controlled by the state Bank of China. The fund, BHR Partners, is based in Beijing. 

Archer’s testimony included other details ignored or distorted in the memoir. He said the vice president called Hunter while he was meeting with Li in Paris, and Hunter put his father on speakerphone so he could join their conversation. And in early January 2017, while Biden was still in the White House, Hunter arranged for his father to write letters of recommendation for Li’s son and daughter to Ivy League colleges. 

Before committee lawyers began questioning Archer during the July 31 closed-door hearing, they warned him that providing false testimony could subject him to criminal prosecution for perjury. Hunter, in contrast, was under no such legal peril while writing his manuscript.

The same Oversight panel that quizzed Archer will now lead a formal impeachment inquiry, announced this month by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, to investigate whether Biden used his office to enrich his family. Investigators are weighing subpoenaing Hunter Biden, which makes examining his claims in his memoir highly instructive as to his and his father’s credibility. They're also tracing millions of dollars wired from China into a maze of accounts that ended up in the hands of Hunter and several other Biden family members, belying claims by the president that Hunter received no money from China. 

Hunter also raked in millions from Ukraine while his father was “point man” for Ukraine policy as vice president. 

Hunter addresses the controversy in the sixth chapter of “Beautiful Things,” describing the allegation that he traded on his father’s influence in Ukraine to land an unusually lucrative five-year stint on the board of the corrupt Ukraine energy giant Burisma Holdings as “the decade’s biggest political fable.” 

He insisted neither he nor his father, who as vice president husbanded Ukraine’s new regime, did anything criminal or corrupt. “There is, in short, no there here,” Biden wrote. 

Hunter then explained how he came to serve on the Burisma board, raking in $83,000 a month despite having no experience in the energy sector. Biden claimed that Archer, his international consultancy partner, brought Burisma into their business orbit after first meeting Burisma’s founder in Kyiv. 

“During one such trip to Kyiv, he met Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner and president of Burisma,” Biden said. “After returning from Kyiv, Devon told me about his talk with Zlochevsky.” 

But Archer, who served on the Burisma board alongside Biden, relayed a different account to Congress, testifying he first met the Russian-tied Ukrainian oligarch in Moscow, not Kyiv. 

In fact, Archer said he sat down with Zlochevsky in the Russian capital on the same day that Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. “It was just me meeting [with him],” Archer added. Within days, Burisma asked him to join the board. And Hunter Biden came aboard shortly thereafter. 

Archer's disclosure that their relationship with Burisma was hatched in Moscow is at odds with the political narrative President Biden has carefully crafted, demonizing Russia as Enemy No. 1 of America and NATO. Hunter’s telling of the genesis, with the initial meeting with Zlochevsky taking place in Ukraine’s capital, is far more palatable. 

Hunter wrote that he only agreed to accept Zlochevsky’s offer in order to enable Ukraine to strengthen its energy independence from Russia. He said the prospect of helping build a “bulwark" against Russian oil and gas imports assuaged “whatever dissonance I might have felt between idealism and generous compensation.” He said he was more interested in “fighting" for the Ukrainian people against an aggressive neighbor, which aligns his employment with Burisma with his father’s pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia stance. 

Having a Biden on Burisma’s board was a loud and unmistakable fuck-you to Putin,” Hunter maintained. 

But according to Archer’s testimony, Burisma hired them in part to help expand its energy operations outside of Ukraine – particularly in the U.S., where the energy industry is heavily regulated by the federal government, and having such politically connected Americans on the board was valuable to the oil and gas conglomerate. Plus, he and Hunter were motivated by the windfall Burisma was paying them: “It was a million dollars per year [apiece] on the board contracts,” Archer confirmed. 

Hunter further contends in his memoir that his father didn’t know about his joining the Burisma board until he read about it in the Wall Street Journal on May 13, 2014. But White House emails show the vice president’s staff was coordinating damage control weeks earlier when the news first broke in the foreign press.  

And Archer testified that a month earlier, he had met with Vice President Biden in his White House office with Hunter, who had arranged the meeting. Their high-level pow-wow took place on April 16, the day after records show Archer received his first payment from Burisma. 

It’s not clear what the trio discussed in Biden’s office, but Hunter had emailed Archer a Burisma strategy memo just three days earlier. Also on April 13, Hunter had emailed Joe Biden’s best friend Ted Kaufman and the vice president’s then-deputy counsel Alex Mackler to discuss Ukrainian politics. On April 21, Biden visited Ukraine to offer energy and economic aid. 

But that’s not the biggest whopper Hunter apparently told about Burisma in his book. On page 127, he claimed: “No one at Burisma had even hinted at wanting me to influence the [Obama-Biden] administration.” 

Several Burisma emails to Hunter, along with Archer’s congressional testimony, put the lie to this claim. 

On May 12, 2014, for instance, Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi sent an “urgent" email to Hunter – who by then was officially on Burisma’s payroll – demanding to know “how you could use your influence to convey a message / signal, etc. to stop what we consider to be politically motivated actions.” At the time, Ukrainian prosecutors were aggressively investigating Burisma for corruption. 

Several months later, in the spring of 2015, Pozharskyi emailed Hunter to thank him for giving him the “opportunity to meet with your father and spent [sic] some time together.” Archer confirmed that the then-vice president sat down for dinner with the Burisma official and others at the Cafe Milano in D.C. the previous evening. The meeting, long denied by Biden officials, was held in a private room in the back of the restaurant. 

In late 2015, after Viktor Shokin took over the prosecutor general’s office in Ukraine and turned the screws on Burisma, Pozharskyi again turned to Hunter Biden for assistance. 

Archer testified that Hunter called his father to help deal with Shokin's investigation at both Pozharskyi’s and Zlochevsky's request following a Burisma board meeting at the Four Seasons in Dubai on Dec. 4, 2015. 

“They were getting pressure and they requested Hunter, you know, help them with some of that pressure," Archer said, explaining the pressure was coming “from Ukrainian government investigations into Mykola [Zlochevsky].” 

Archer suggested their benefactors wanted Hunter to use his influence with the vice president to get Kyiv to take "the heat" off Burisma. He testified he did not overhear Hunter's phone call, but noted “he called his dad.” 

At the time, Hunter Biden was not registered as a foreign agent as required by federal law when lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of a foreign entity. Federal prosecutors revealed at a recent court hearing that Hunter is actively under investigation for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law that was used to prosecute several Trump advisers.  

Two days after the Dubai phone call, Biden flew to Kyiv and warned the Ukrainian president that he had to fire Shokin or he wouldn't get a promised $1 billion in aid. Three months later, after withering pressure from Biden, Shokin was removed from office. 

“[Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko fired me at the insistence of the then-Vice President Biden because I was investigating Burisma," Shokin said in a recent Fox News interview. 

In his memoir, Hunter maintained that his father had Shokin ousted because he wasn’t doing enough to tackle corruption, which matches the current spin of the White House. 
“A priority for my dad was the ouster of the country’s prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, for his failure to adequately investigate corruption,” he wrote. “Among the high-profile companies that Shokin was criticized for not pursuing: Burisma.” 

In effect, Hunter implied he relished more criminal scrutiny for his own employer, an odd position to take particularly given the millions he was getting paid. But as Archer testified, it’s simply not true.

Democratic counsel for the Oversight Committee tried to get Archer to agree with the White House spin that Shokin’s firing was “bad for Burisma ... because they had Shokin under their control.” 

“No,” Archer said. “Burisma never informed me of that.” 

Quite the opposite, he said, Burisma viewed Shokin as a threat after the prosecutor seized its founder Zlochevsky’s assets, including his house and cars. 

If Shokin was not in fact soft on Burisma and Joe Biden did not press for his ouster to better fight corruption, it would seem to leave just one possible reason for his ham-fisted demand: to protect Burisma for the sake of his son – and the millions he was hauling in. 

House impeachment investigators want to know whether Biden engaged in a quid pro quo: shaking down Ukraine’s former president for a political favor that would benefit his son by threatening to withhold a U.S.-backed aid package from the country. According to one Republican staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, they also want to know if Joe Biden or his staff helped Hunter draft the chapter of his book, titled “Burisma,” or had a hand in editing it. 

“Beautiful Things” was published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which had no comment. Hunter’s attorney Abbe Lowell did not reply to requests to speak about the discrepancies in his client’s book.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/19/2023 - 20:45
Published:9/19/2023 7:59:57 PM
[Markets] The Coming Collapse Of The Global Ponzi Scheme The Coming Collapse Of The Global Ponzi Scheme

Authored by George Ford Smith via The Mises Instititute,

It won’t be long before governments around the world, including the one in Washington, self-destruct.

Strong words, but anything less would be naïve.

As economist Herbert Stein once said, “If something cannot go on forever, it has a tendency to stop.” Case in point: fiat money political regimes. Interventionist economies of the West are in a fatal downward spiral, comparable to that of the Roman Empire in the second century, burdened with unsustainable debt and the antiprosperity policies of governments, especially the Green New Deal.

In the global Ponzi scheme, thin air and deceit substitute for sound money. As hedge-fund manager Mitch Feierstein wrote in Planet Ponzi, “You don’t solve a Ponzi scheme; you end it.” Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff

...made some of their investors a whole lot poorer, but the world didn’t come crashing down as a result.

For that?—?for a Ponzi scheme that would threaten to bankrupt capitalism across the entire Western world?—?you need people much smarter than Ponzi or Madoff. You need time, you need energy, you need motivation. In a word, you need Wall Street.

But Wall Street alone doesn’t have the strength to deliver a truly cataclysmic outcome. If your ambition is to create havoc on the largest possible scale, you need access to a balance sheet running into the tens of trillions. You need power. You need prestige. You need a remarkable willingness to deceive. In a word, you need Washington.

As Gary North wrote in a brief review of Feierstein’s book, “The central banks have colluded with the national governments in order to fund huge increases of national debt, beyond what can ever be paid off. In other words, [Feierstein] has described government promises as part of a gigantic international Ponzi scheme.”

In a recent interview, Peter Schiff, who was laughed at when he predicted the economic meltdown of 2007–9, said interest on the federal debt alone “will be about a trillion by the end of this year. By the end of next year [it will reach] two trillion dollars—and that’s if interest rates don’t go up. . . . This is a huge debt bomb that’s going to explode.”

Ultra-high corporate and credit card debt, along with bank insolvency sustains his argument for a coming collapse, the polar opposite of Biden’s economic dream.

Along with this, Reuters notes that the spread between two- and ten-year Treasuries is at the deepest inversion since 1981. Rarely has an inverted yield curve not signaled a recession.

Can Jerome Powell and his advisors steer the economy into a soft landing? Not this time. “The only landing possible is a crash, where everyone on board dies,” Schiff recently tweeted.

Ponzi and Madoff went to jail for their schemes, but how do you prosecute governments for theirs? Prosecution implies being a part of government. And with rare exceptions such as Ron Paul, those who go into government believe gold is a barbarous relic and the Fed is a good thing that just needs a little government tinkering. So, the guilty will go unpunished, unless public outrage misguidedly turns to nonjudicial violence. The rest will be too busy trying to survive and protect those they care about.

The War on Being Human

A study of history, including US monetary history, makes clear that the state is not in the business of securing our liberty. As the previous nine hundred plus days have made clear, any defense of “liberty” would likely be regarded as hate speech. Instead, we are inundated with the feel-good words of diversity, equity, and inclusion along with the fear-driven campaigns of climate change and killer covid. Challenge any of it and you’re demonized—or worse.

But the state can’t do anything significant without monopolizing money, and the Orwellian central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will be the latest installment to control the monetary system. The new FedNow payment system with its emphasis on user convenience is providing the framework and psychological grooming for CBDCs.

The Shadow Superpower

We can stop this from happening. Two states, Florida and Indiana, have effectively banned CBDCs as money in those states. Other states will likely follow. The government will outlaw cash at some point, but those who use it now are casting a vote against CBDCs.

Many people will turn to barter, some using barter metals, and to the shadow economy. If this sounds desperate, consider how the global black market in 2011 was the world’s fastest-growing economy. Sometimes referred to as System D, it features both the usual, small transactions of flea market trades or workers looking for employment in the parking lots of home improvement stores and also larger, international trades. David Obi, a Nigerian, relying on his cell phone and his own initiative, contacted a Chinese firm to have small diesel-powered generators shipped to his home country, where electric power is often scarce: “Like almost all the transactions between Nigerian traders and Chinese manufacturers, it was also sub rosa: under the radar, outside of the view or control of government, part of the unheralded alternative economic universe of System D.”

Friedrich Schneider, research fellow at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, whose expertise is in off-government economies and who coauthored The Shadow Economy, found that System D is growing faster in many countries than the officially recognized gross domestic product. If System D were an independent nation, it would be the second-largest economy in the world.


The future is undecided, but we can help determine the outcome if we take responsibility for it. Wikipedia defines System D as “a manner of responding to challenges that require one to have the ability to think quickly, to adapt, and to improvise when getting a job done.” In this sense success has always depended on System D, with or without government.

The American term for it is life hack, “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.” Whatever you call it, it describes a spirit all of humanity needs to adopt if we are to survive the coming collapse of government Ponzi schemes.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/18/2023 - 11:55
Published:9/18/2023 11:28:55 AM
[Markets] Get Woke, Go Broke: Ibram X. Kendi's Foundation Firing 33% Of Employees Get Woke, Go Broke: Ibram X. Kendi's Foundation Firing 33% Of Employees

Authored by Monica Showalter via American Thinker,

Wokesterism is all over, yet as corporation after corporation has learned the hard way, stoking racial or other grievance-group resentment doesn't actually add value, and in fact is a very good way to go broke.

Therefore, money is drying up for corporations that embrace it, and the cash they dole out to downstream institutions, such as universities, think tanks, activist groups, and big white-shoe foundations. The Bud Light fiasco pretty well shows what happens to those who dive in to embrace woke.

It's not just scandal-plagued groups like Black Lives Matter, which has done little but riot in cities (hitting black-owned businesses hard) and feather its leaderships' nests, that has suddenly seen both a drop in public support and incoming funds.

Now it's the fancy stuff, the university think tanks, such as Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research, led by Ibram X. Kendi, which is seeing big layoffs.

According to the Washington Free Beacon:

The Boston University Center for Antiracist Research is firing between 15 and 20 employeesSemafor reported Thursday. Kendi launched the center in June 2020 at the height of the movement to defund police in the wake of the death of George Floyd. It employed 45 people as of August, according to a since-deleted page on the center’s website reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

Kendi has built a lucrative career teaching people about "antiracism," defined as "the practice of actively identifying and opposing racism." He received a $625,000 MacArthur "Genius" grant in 2021 and charges $20,000 for speaking engagements. His books Antiracist Baby and How to Be Antiracist have landed on the New York Times best-seller list. Kendi has argued the United States is an inherently racist country, asserted that police "inherently are harmful," and called for a constitutional amendment to ban "racial inequity over a certain threshold, as well as racist ideas by public officials.

Kendi is a big one, the granddaddy of all things woke, the intellectual locus of wokery. He's perfected the art of wokecraft, having written a series of bestsellers mau-mauing whitey liberals with titles such as "Antiracist Baby" and "How to be an Antiracist," sold at places like Target, doing the act Shelby Steele once described as offering "absolution" to guilt-beaten whites for their immutable, inborn, incurable, racism, and making bank while he's at it. America is a flawed, racist country from its very start, and for which there is no cure.

The Beacon said it was unable to find the exact reason for the layoffs, but did note that public polls were showing a dropoff in public support for woke organizations, which has cut into donations for wokester groups and reduced corporate giving to foundations and academic institutions.

Woke organizations of all sorts are now being affected -- Black Lives Matters is losing donations. Bigfoot foundations such as those run by the Soros family and Mark Zuckerberg are laying off staff. Corporations themselves have been getting rid of DEI departments, too. Obviously, that may be at least one reason why even woke Boston University is reducing the ever-expanding grievance group industry within its think tanks.

As for why the public is not responding to grievance clarion calls, well, perhaps it's because thus far these woke groups who offer themselves as the solution to all things racist, haven't fixed anything by stoking rage and grievance politics. All they have proven adept at is raking in political spoils for themselves and mau-mauing their donors, making all sides angrier. People get tired of that. If they can't fix a problem they claim to see all over, and can only make it bigger, then it's time to go. That's the American way and try as they might, they aren't going to stop that.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/17/2023 - 16:20
Published:9/17/2023 3:33:53 PM
[Entertainment] Writers Michael Chabon, David Henry Hwang Sue Meta & OpenAI -- Class-Action Copyright Claim on Thousands of Books Michael Chabon attends the premiere of CBS All Access' "Star Trek: Picard" at ArcLight Cinerama Dome on January 13, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
A group of writers headed by celebrated novelist Michael Chabon and Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang are suing Facebook parent Meta as well as ChatGPT maker OpenAI, alleging in two separate suits that their artificial intelligence platforms engaged in copyright violations with tens of thousands of books.
Published:9/16/2023 11:19:36 PM
[Markets] Here's The Climate Dissent You're Not Hearing About Because It's Muffled By Society's Top Institutions Here's The Climate Dissent You're Not Hearing About Because It's Muffled By Society's Top Institutions

Authored by John Murawski via RealClear Wire,

As the Biden administration and governments worldwide make massive commitments to rapidly decarbonize the global economy, the persistent effort to silence climate change skeptics is intensifying – and the critics keep pushing back. 

This summer the International Monetary Fund summarily canceled a presentation by John Clauser, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who publicly disavows the existence of a climate “crisis.” The head of the nonprofit with which Clauser is affiliated, the CO2 Coalition, has said he and other members have been delisted from LinkedIn for their dissident views.  

Meanwhile, a top academic journal retracted published research doubting a climate emergency after negative coverage in legacy media. The move was decried by another prominent climate dissenter, Roger Pielke Jr., as “one of the most egregious failures of scientific publishing that I have seen” – criticism muffled because the academic says he has been blocked on Twitter (now X) by reporters on the climate beat. 

The climate dissenters are pressing their case as President Biden, United Nations officials, and climate action advocates in media and academia argue that the “settled science” demands a wholesale societal transformation. That means halving U.S. carbon emissions by 2035 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 to stave off the “existential threat” of human-induced climate change. 

In response last month, more than 1,600 scientists, among them two Nobel physics laureates, Clauser and Ivar Giaever of Norway, signed a declaration stating that there is no climate emergency, and that climate advocacy has devolved into mass hysteria. The skeptics say the radical transformation of entire societies is marching forth without a full debate, based on dubious scientific claims amplified by knee-jerk journalism.  

Many of these climate skeptics reject the optimistic scenarios of economic prosperity promised by advocates of a net-zero world order. They say the global emissions-reduction targets are not achievable on such an accelerated timetable without lowering living standards and unleashing worldwide political unrest.  

What advocates of climate action are trying to do is scare the bejesus out of the public so they’ll think we need to [act] fast,” said Steven Koonin, author of “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters.”  

“You have to balance the certainties and uncertainties of the changing climate – the risks and hazards – against many other factors,” he adds. 

These dissenters don’t all agree on all scientific questions and do not speak in a single voice. Clauser, for example, is a self-styled “climate denialist” who believes climate is regulated by clouds, while Pielke, a political scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and Bjørn Lomborg, the former director of the Danish Environmental Assessment Institute, acknowledge humans are affecting the climate but say there is sufficient time to adapt. The dissenters do, however, agree that the public and government officials are getting a one-sided, apocalyptic account that stokes fear, politicizes science, misuses climate modeling, and shuts down debate.  

They also say it is a troubling sign for scientific integrity that they are systematically sidelined and diminished by government funding agencies, foundation grant-makers, academic journals, and much of the media. Delving into their claims, RealClearInvestigations reviewed a sampling of their books, articles, and podcast interviews. This loose coalition of writers and thinkers acknowledges that the climate is warming, but they typically ascribe as much, if not more, influence to natural cycles and climate variability than to human activities, such as burning fossil fuel.  

Among their arguments:  

There is no climate crisis or existential threat as expressed in catastrophic predictions by activists in the media and academia. As global temperatures gradually increase, human societies will need to make adjustments in the coming century, just as societies have adapted to earlier climate changes. By and large, humans cannot control the climate, which Pielke describes as “the fanciful idea that emissions are a disaster control knob.” 

Global temperatures are increasing incrementally, and have been for centuries, but the degree of human influence is uncertain or negligible. Climate skeptics themselves don’t agree on how much humans are contributing to global warming by burning fossil fuels, and how much is caused by natural variability from El Niño and other cycles that can take centuries to play out. “The real question is not whether the globe has warmed recently,” writes Koonin, “but rather to what extent this warming is being caused by humans.” 

Rapidly replacing fossil fuels with renewables and electricity by mid-century would be economically risky and may have a negligible effect on global warming. Some say mitigation decrees – such as phasing out the combustion engine and banning gas stoves – are not likely to prevent climate change because humans play a minor role in global climate trends. Others say mitigation is necessary but won’t happen without capable replacement technologies. It’s unrealistic, they say, to force societies to rely on intermittent energy from wind and solar, or wager the future on technologies that are still in experimental stages.   

The global political push to kill the fossil fuel industry to get to “net zero” and “carbon neutrality” by 2050, as advocated by the United Nations and the Biden administration, will erase millions of jobs and raise energy costs, leading to a prolonged economic depression and political instability. The result would be that developing regions will pay the highest price, while the biggest polluters (China and India) and hostile nations (like Russia and Iran) will simply ignore the net-zero mandate. This could be a case where the cure could be worse than the disease.  

• Despite the common refrain in the media, there is no evidence that a gradually warming planet is affecting the frequency or intensity of hurricanes, storms, droughts, rainfall, or other weather events. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has expressed low confidence such weather events can be linked to human activities. Still, “it is a fertile field for cherry pickers,” notes Pielke.  

Extreme weather events, such as wildfires and flooding, are not claiming more human lives than previously. The human death toll is largely caused by cold weather, which accounts for eight times as many deaths as hot weather, and overall weather-related mortality has fallen by about 99% in the past century. “People are safer from climate-related disasters than ever before,” statistician and author Bjørn Lomborg has said

Climate science has been hijacked and politicized by activists, creating a culture of self-censorship that’s enforced by a code of silence that Koonin likens to the Mafia’s omerta. In her 2023 book, “Climate Uncertainty and Risk,” climatologist Judith Curry asks: “How many skeptical papers were not published by activist editorial boards? How many published papers have buried results in order to avoid highlighting findings that conflict with preferred narratives? I am aware of anecdotal examples of each of these actions, but the total number is unknowable.” 

Slogans such as “follow the science” and “scientific consensus” are misleading and disingenuous. There is no consensus on many key questions, such as the urgency to cease and desist burning fossil fuels, or the accuracy of computer modeling predictions of future global temperatures. The apparent consensus of imminent disaster is manufactured through peer pressure, intimidation, and research funding priorities, based on the conviction that “noble lies,” “consensus entrepreneurship,” and “stealth advocacy” are necessary to save humanity from itself. “One day PhD dissertations will be written about our current moment of apocalyptic panic,” Pielke predicts.  

• The warming of the planet is a complicated phenomenon that will cause some disruptions but will also bring benefits, particularly in agricultural yields and increased vegetation. Some climate skeptics, including the CO2 Coalition, say CO2 is not a pollutant – it is “plant food.”  

Curry, the former Chair of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, expresses a common theme among the climate refuseniks: that they are the sane, rational voices in a maelstrom of quasi-religious mania.  

In the 1500s, they used to drown witches in Europe because they blamed them for bad weather. You had the pagan people trying to appease the gods with sacrifices,” Curry said. “What we’re doing now is like a pseudoscientific version of that, and it’s no more effective than those other strategies.’ 

The climate change establishment occasionally concedes some of these points. No less an authority than the newly appointed head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has urged the climate community to cool its jets: “If you constantly communicate the message that we are all doomed to extinction, then that paralyzes people and prevents them from taking the necessary steps to get a grip on climate change,” Jim Skea recently said to German media. “The world won’t end if it warms by more than 1.5 degrees [centigrade]. It will however be a more dangerous world.”  

In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee in June, Pielke said human-caused climate change is real and “poses significant risks to society and the environment.” But the science does not paint a dystopian, catastrophic scenario of imminent doom, he added.  

“Today, there is general agreement that our current media environment and political discourse are rife with misinformation,” Pielke testified. “If there is just one sentence that you take from my testimony today it is this: You are being misinformed.” 

Still, the overwhelming impression conveyed is one of impending disaster, with the menace of global warming rhetorically upgraded in July by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to “global boiling.” Climate scientists announced in July that the planet is the hottest it’s been in 120,000 years, an old claim that gets recycled every few years. Meanwhile, three vice-chairs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of mass starvation, extinction, and disasters, saying that if the temperature rises 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels, “children under 12 will experience a fourfold increase in natural disasters in their lifetime, and up to 14% of all species assessed will likely face a very high risk of extinction.”  

Many of these predictions are based on computer models and computer simulations that Pielke, Koonin, Curry, and others have decried as totally implausible. Koonin’s book suggests that some computer models may be “cooking the books” to achieve desired outcomes, while Pielke has decried faulty scenarios as “one of the most significant failures of scientific integrity in the twenty-first  century thus far.” Curry writes in her book that the primary inadequacy of climate models is their limited ability to predict the kinds of natural climate fluctuations that cause ice ages and warming periods, and play out over decades, centuries, or even millennia.  

Another critique is the use of computer models to correlate extreme weather events to multi-decade climate trends in an attempt to show that the weather was caused by climate, a branch of climate science called climate attribution studies. This type of research is used to bolster claims that the frequency and intensity of heat waves, floods, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events could not have happened without climate change. An example is research recently cited by the BBC in an article warning that if the global temperature rises another 0.9 centigrade, crippling heat waves that were once exceedingly rare will bake the world every two-to-five years.  

One question looms: Does a warming climate contribute to heat records and heat waves, such as those that were widely reported in July as the hottest month on record and taken as overwhelming proof that humans are overheating the planet? The United States experienced extreme heat waves in the 1930s, and the recent spikes are not without precedent, climate dissenters say. Pielke, however,  concedes that IPCC data signal that increases in heat extremes and heat waves are virtually certain, but he argues that the societal impacts will be manageable.  

Koonin and Curry say that the global heat spikes in July were likely caused by a multiplicity of factors, including an underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic explosion last year that increased upper atmosphere water vapor by about 10%, a relevant fact because water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas. Another factor is the warming effect of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which has shifted to an active phase recently.  

Koonin says that greenhouse gas emissions are a gradual trend on which weather anomalies play out, and while it’s tempting to confuse weather with climate, it would be a mistake to blame July’s heat waves on human influence.  

The anomaly is about as large as we’ve ever seen, but not unprecedented,” Koonin explained on a podcast. “Now, what the real question is, why did it spike so much? Nothing to do with CO2 – CO2 is … the base on which this phenomenon occurs.” 

Climate dissent comes with the occupational hazard of being tarred as a propagandist and stooge for “Big Oil.” Pielke was one of seven academics investigated by a U.S. Congressman in 2015 for allegedly failing to report funding from fossil fuel interests (He was cleared). A New York Times review of Lomborg’s 2020 book, “False Alarm,” described it as “mind pollution.” 

Climate advocates see climate skepticism as so dangerous that Ben Santer, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, publicly cut ties with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory two years ago after the federal research facility invited Koonin to discuss his skeptical book, “Unsettled.” Santer, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, said allowing Koonin’s views to go unchallenged undermined the credibility and integrity of climate science research. For similar reasons, the IMF postponed Clauser’s July presentation so that it could be rescheduled as a debate.  

Another critique: scientists arbitrarily forcing the facts to fit a prescribed catastrophic narrative, often by ignoring plausible alternative explanations and relevant factors. That’s what climate scientist Patrick Brown said he had to do to get published in the prestigious journal Nature, by attributing wildfires to climate change and ignoring other factors, like poor forest management and the startling fact that over 80% of wildfires are ignited by humans. Brown publicly confessed to this sleight-of-hand in a recent article in The Free Press.  

“This type of framing, with the influence of climate change unrealistically considered in isolation, is the norm for high-profile research papers,” Brown wrote. “When I had previously attempted to deviate from the formula, my papers were rejected out of hand by the editors of distinguished journals, and I had to settle for less prestigious outlets.” 

These frustrations serve as a reminder that the world has entered what the United Nations and climate advocates call the make-or-break decade that will decide how much the Earth’s temperature will rise above pre-industrial levels. This decisive phase is “unfolding now and will intensify during the next several years,” according to Rice University researchers. “Accordingly, what happens between now and the late 2020s, in all likelihood, will fundamentally determine the failure or success of an accelerated energy transition.” 

In response to this call for global action, political leaders in Europe and North America are vowing to reengineer their societies to run on wind, solar, and hydrogen. In this country, California is among a dozen states that have moved to ban the sale of new gasoline-engine cars in 2035, while states like Virginia and North Carolina have committed to carbon-free power girds by mid-century.  

In the most detailed net-zero roadmap to date, the International Energy Agency in 2021 identified more than 400 milestones that would have to be met to achieve a net-zero planet by mid-century, including the immediate cessation of oil and gas exploration and drilling, and mandated austerity measures such as reducing highway speed limits, limiting temperature settings in private homes, and eating less meat.  

In the IEA’s net zero scenario, global energy use will decline by 8% through energy efficiency even as the world’s population adds 2 billion people and the economy grows a whopping 40%. In this scenario, all the nations of the world – including China, India, Russia, and Saudi Arabia – would have to commit to a net-zero future, generating 14 million jobs to create a new energy infrastructure. Nearly half the slated emissions reductions will have to come from experimental technologies currently in demonstration or prototype stages, such as hydrogen, bioenergy, carbon capture, and modular nuclear reactors. Reading this bracing outlook, one could almost overlook the IEA’s caveat that relying on solar and wind for nearly 70% of electricity generation would cause retail electricity prices to increase by 50% on average and destroy 5 million jobs, of which “many are well paid, meaning structural changes can cause shocks for communities with impacts that persist over time.”  

A critique of the IEA’s scenario issued this year by the Energy Policy Research Foundation, a think tank that specializes in oil, gas, and petroleum products, warned of “massive supply shocks” if oil supplies are artificially suppressed to meet arbitrary net zero targets. The report further stated that “if the world stays committed to net zero regardless of high costs – the recession will turn into an extended depression and ultimately impose radical negative changes upon modern civilization.” (Disclosure: The report was commissioned by the RealClearFoundation, the nonprofit parent of RealClearInvestigations.) 

Already, societies have fallen behind their emissions reduction targets, and it’s widely understood that fast-tracking net zero is an unattainable goal. Transforming existing energy infrastructures within several decades would require installing the equivalent of the world’s largest solar farm every day, according to the International Energy Agency. Carbon-free energy accounts for only 18% of total global consumption, and fossil fuels are still increasing, according to a recent analysis. The IEA reported this year that investments in oil exploration and drilling have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, while global coal demand reached an all-time high last year. Globally nations are spending more on clean energy than on fossil fuels, but fossil fuels are still vital to economic growth; for instance, the IEA noted that 40 gigawatts of new coal plants were approved in 2022, the highest figure since 2016, almost all of them in China.  

We live in this world of exaggerated promises and delusional pop science,” Vaclav Smil, the University of Manitoba environmental scientist and policy analyst, told The New York Times last year. “People don’t appreciate the magnitude of the task and are setting up artificial deadlines which are unrealistic.” 

A government push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting back on livestock farming has led to public protests in the Netherlands, a conflict over resources that Time magazine predicts will spread elsewhere: “This may be just the beginning of much wider global unrest over agriculture. Scientists say dealing with climate change will require not just gradual reform, but a rapid, wholesale transformation of the global food system.”  

Climate dissidents say what happened in the Netherlands is a foretaste of the political backlash that is inevitable when net-zero policies start becoming implemented and people have to travel across state lines to buy a gasoline-powered car.  

The urgency is the stupidest part of the whole thing – that we need to act now with all these made-up targets,” Curry said. “The transition risk is far greater than any conceivable climate or weather risk.” 

To Koonin, these challenges indicate that the catastrophic climate narrative will collapse when put to the test of practicality and politics. The more sensible route, he said, is a slow-and-steady approach.  

“There’s going to be a deep examination of science and the cost-benefit issues,” he said. “We will eventually do the right thing, but it’s going to take a decade or so.” 

John Murawski reports on the intersection of culture and ideas for RealClearInvestigations. He previously covered artificial intelligence for the Wall Street Journal and spent 15 years as a reporter for the News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) writing about health care, energy and business. At RealClear, Murawski reports on how esoteric academic theories on race and gender have been shaping many areas of public life, from K-12 school curricula to workplace policies to the practice of medicine.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/16/2023 - 23:20
Published:9/16/2023 11:03:25 PM
[Markets] Canadian School Purges Books Published Before 2008 In Bid For 'Inclusivity' Canadian School Purges Books Published Before 2008 In Bid For 'Inclusivity'

In a quest to be more "inclusive," a Canadian school board in Mississauga, Ontario has decided to purge its library of all books published before the year 2008.

Grade 10 student Reina Takata took this photo of the bookshelves in her Mississauga high school's library in her first week back to school this fall. Takata and others are concerned about a seemingly inconsistent approach to a new equity-based book weeding process implemented by the Peel District School Board last spring. (Reina Takata)

Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, 'burned' roughly 50% of its library book, including Harry Potter and the Hunger Games series, as part of a new "equity-based book weeding" implemented by the Peel District School Board earlier this year, according to the CBC.

The board insists it was following a wider directive from the Minister of Education to make learning resources more inclusive and reflective of the community.

Yes, a library with empty shelves sounds very inclusive...

Also purged were classics  like "The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank" and iconic children’s books like "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

Dianne Lawson, a member of Libraries not Landfills, says teachers told her The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle were removed from their school libraries as part of the PDSB weeding process. (Nicole Brockbank/CBC)

When asked WTF, the school board has been notably evasive, refusing to address whether books are being removed solely based on their publication date. Their statement, which claims books are removed if they are "damaged, inaccurate, or not checked out often," doesn't check out whatsoever.

10th-grade student of Japanese descent Reina Takata worries that significant portions of her heritage could vanish with this book purge.

"Authors who wrote about Japanese internment camps are going to be erased," she warned.

Official backpedaling

Given the mounting backlash, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce finally weighed in, condemning the practice as "offensive, illogical, and counterintuitive." He has since ordered the board to cease the book removals immediately.

The larger issue here is the increasing trend of over-correction in the name of "wokeness," often leading to the vanishing of history, culture, and nuanced discourse. At what point does the push for equity turn into a frenzy of historical whitewashing? Erindale Secondary School may have given us the answer: when you arbitrarily remove 50% of your library in the name of inclusivity, you're probably doing it wrong.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/16/2023 - 21:35
Published:9/16/2023 8:44:29 PM
[41e23377-92eb-5e90-95be-8aedcce7a8af] Biden admin hires czar to monitor school book ban: 'Threat' to students The Biden Department of Education has hired a czar to monitor efforts to implement "book bans" in schools across the country concerning controversial books. Published:9/15/2023 10:15:13 PM
[Markets] Death By A Thousand Cuts: The Many Ways Our Rights Have Been Usurped Since 9/11 Death By A Thousand Cuts: The Many Ways Our Rights Have Been Usurped Since 9/11

Authored by John & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

- Abraham Lincoln

Those who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed that the government exists at the behest of its citizens. It is there to protect, defend and even enhance our freedoms, not violate them.

Unfortunately, although the Bill of Rights was adopted as a means of protecting the people against government tyranny, in America today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

In the 22 years since the USA Patriot Act—a massive 342-page wish list of expanded powers for the FBI and CIA—was rammed through Congress in the wake of the so-called 9/11 terror attacks, it has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The Patriot Act drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments—the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments—and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well.

The Patriot Act also redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience are now considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

The Patriot Act justified broader domestic surveillance, the logic being that if government agents knew more about each American, they could distinguish the terrorists from law-abiding citizens—no doubt a reflexive impulse shared by small-town police and federal agents alike.

This, according to Washington Post reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr., was a fantasy that “had been brewing in the law enforcement world for a long time.” And 9/11 provided the government with the perfect excuse for conducting far-reaching surveillance and collecting mountains of information on even the most law-abiding citizen.

Federal agents and police officers are now authorized to conduct covert black bag “sneak-and-peak” searches of homes and offices while you are away and confiscate your personal property without first notifying you of their intent or their presence.

The law also granted the FBI the right to come to your place of employment, demand your personal records and question your supervisors and fellow employees, all without notifying you; allowed the government access to your medical records, school records and practically every personal record about you; and allowed the government to secretly demand to see records of books or magazines you’ve checked out in any public library and Internet sites you’ve visited (at least 545 libraries received such demands in the first year following passage of the Patriot Act).

In the name of fighting terrorism, government officials are now permitted to monitor religious and political institutions with no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing; prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government has subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation; monitor conversations between attorneys and clients; search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without showing probable cause; and jail Americans indefinitely without a trial, among other things.

The federal government also made liberal use of its new powers, especially through the use (and abuse) of the nefarious national security letters, which allow the FBI to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies at the mere say-so of the government agent in charge of a local FBI office and without prior court approval.

In fact, since 9/11, we’ve been spied on by surveillance cameras, eavesdropped on by government agents, had our belongings searched, our phones tapped, our mail opened, our email monitored, our opinions questioned, our purchases scrutinized (under the USA Patriot Act, banks are required to analyze your transactions for any patterns that raise suspicion and to see if you are connected to any objectionable people), and our activities watched.

We’re also being subjected to invasive patdowns and whole-body scans of our persons and seizures of our electronic devices in the nation’s airports. We can’t even purchase certain cold medicines at the pharmacy anymore without it being reported to the government and our names being placed on a watch list.

In this way, “we the people” continue to be terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance by a government that cares nothing for our lives or our liberties.

The bogeyman’s names and faces have changed over time (terrorism, the war on drugs, illegal immigration, a viral pandemic, and more to come), but the end result remains the same: in the so-called name of national security, the Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded with the support of Congress, the White House, and the courts.

A recitation of the Bill of Rights—set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, vaccine mandates, lockdowns, and the like (all sanctioned by Congress, the White House, and the courts)—would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

What we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Sadly, most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights.

Here is what it means to live under the Constitution, with the nation still suffering blowback from the permanent state of emergency brought about by 9/11 and COVID-19.

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind, assemble and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. To the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.

Despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being persecuted for exercising their First Amendment rights and speaking out against government corruption. Activists are being arrested and charged for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. Protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” And under the guise of “government speech,” the courts have reasoned that the government can discriminate freely against any First Amendment activity that takes place within a so-called government forum.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Essentially, this amendment was intended to give the citizenry the means to resist tyrannical government. Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against red flag gun laws, militarized police, SWAT team raids, and government agencies armed to the teeth with military weapons better suited to the battlefield.

The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly training like the military, acting like the military, and posing as military forces—complete with heavily armed SWAT teams, military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or encroaching on your private property unless they have evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and has been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of governmental police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance (corporate and otherwise), and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. Certainly, if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears. However, as a growing number of citizens are coming to realize, the power of the jury to nullify the government’s actions—and thereby help balance the scales of justice—is not to be underestimated. Jury nullification reminds the government that “we the people” retain the power to ultimately determine what laws are just.

The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether.

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so.

As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress and the courts.

Thus, if there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded.

It was no idle happenstance that the Constitution, which was adopted 236 years ago on Sept. 17, 1787, opens with these three powerful words: “We the people.” As the Preamble proclaims:

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

In other words, it’s our job to make the government play by the rules of the Constitution.

We are supposed to be the masters and they—the government and its agents—are the servants.

We the American people—the citizenry—are supposed to be the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity.

Still, it’s hard to be a good citizen if you don’t know anything about your rights or how the government is supposed to operate.

As the National Review rightly asks, “How can Americans possibly make intelligent and informed political choices if they don’t understand the fundamental structure of their government? American citizens have the right to self-government, but it seems that we increasingly lack the capacity for it.”

Americans are constitutionally illiterate.

Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights. And our educational system does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Teachers and school administrators do not fare much better. A study conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis found that one educator in five was unable to name any of the freedoms in the First Amendment.

Government leaders and politicians are also ill-informed. Although they take an oath to uphold, support and defend the Constitution against “enemies foreign and domestic,” their lack of education about our fundamental rights often causes them to be enemies of the Bill of Rights.

So what’s the solution?

Thomas Jefferson recognized that a citizenry educated on “their rights, interests, and duties”  is the only real assurance that freedom will survive.

From the President on down, anyone taking public office should have a working knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and should be held accountable for upholding their precepts. One way to ensure this would be to require government leaders to take a course on the Constitution and pass a thorough examination thereof before being allowed to take office.

Some critics are advocating that students pass the United States citizenship exam in order to graduate from high school. Others recommend that it must be a prerequisite for attending college. I’d go so far as to argue that students should have to pass the citizenship exam before graduating from grade school.

Here’s an idea to get educated and take a stand for freedom: anyone who signs up to become a member of The Rutherford Institute gets a wallet-sized Bill of Rights card and a Know Your Rights card. Use this card to teach your children the freedoms found in the Bill of Rights.

A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to do more than grouse and complain.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, “we the people” have the power to make and break the government.

The powers-that-be want us to remain divided over politics, hostile to those with whom we disagree politically, and intolerant of anyone or anything whose solutions to what ails this country differ from our own. They also want us to believe that our job as citizens begins and ends on Election Day.

Yet there are 330 million of us in this country. Imagine what we could accomplish if we actually worked together, presented a united front, and spoke with one voice.

Tyranny wouldn't stand a chance.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/13/2023 - 23:40
Published:9/13/2023 11:20:37 PM
[Markets] The Fed Is Losing Money And You're Going To Foot The Bill The Fed Is Losing Money And You're Going To Foot The Bill

Authored by Michael Maharrey via,

The Federal Reserve is losing money.

That means the American taxpayer is losing money.

In most instances, a business bleeding red ink has a big problem and could ultimately go under. Not so for the Fed. In fact, losing money isn’t a problem for the central bank at all. But it is a big problem for the US government.

According to the Federal Reserve’s quarterly report for Q2, the central bank reported a loss of $57.3 billion through the first half of the year. The Fed is on pace to lose over $100 billion in 2023.

Rising interest rates are a big problem for the Fed, as they are for other banks. The central bank earns interest income on the bonds it holds on its balance sheet. But the Fed also pays out interest to other financial institutions that park money there. The bonds it bought during multiple rounds of quantitative easing (QE) and still holds on its balance sheet were relatively low-yielding. But with rates much higher today, it is paying out interest at a much higher rate.

According to the Fed report, as of June 30, the central bank held roughly $5.5 trillion in US Treasuries with an average yield of 1.96%. It also held $2.6 trillion of mortgage-backed securities with an average yield of 2.20%. Meanwhile, the average interest rate the Fed paid on money it held, along with repo agreements and other operations averaged around 5%.

It’s also important to note that the Federal Reserve has shed almost $1 trillion from its balance sheet in quantitative tightening.

The results were predictable. Through the first half of the year, the Federal Reserve reported $88.4 billion in interest income. But it paid out $141.8 billion in interest expense. That adds up to a lot of red ink.

It’s also interesting to note that like many commercial banks, the Fed has substantial unrealized losses. If you mark all of the bonds held by the Fed to market value, the loss on paper is over $1 trillion. That’s more around 23 times the value of the central bank’s stated capital.

Bond portfolio losses are exactly what kicked off the financial crisis last March.

But none of this matters to the central bankers at the Fed.

Big Losses! So What?

The last time the Fed reported net operating losses was in 1915.

To put this net loss in perspective, the largest yearly gain over the last 10 years was in 2021 when the Fed reported a $104 billion net income. In other words, the central bank is on pace for a loss as large as the biggest gain in at least a decade.

Who suffers when the Federal Reserve loses money?

In most cases, a business feels the pain when a business loses money. But when the Fed loses money, the US government feels the pain. And ultimately, you and I foot the bill.

Under the Fed’s charter, the Fed remits its profits to the US Treasury. This helps pay down the massive federal budget deficits. When the Fed loses money, the Treasury loses its payday. That means even bigger budget deficits.

Bigger deficits mean the government has to raise taxes or borrow even more money. Either way, we pay. You either get a bigger tax bill or you pay the inflation tax when the Fed prints money to monetize the debt.

But what about the Fed? Isn’t losing money a problem for the central bank?

It certainly would be for a normal bank. But the Fed isn’t a normal bank.

As Mises Institute Senior editor Ryan McMaken put it, “The de facto reality of the Federal Reserve is that it is a government agency, run by government technocrats, that enjoys the benefits of being subject to very little oversight from Congress.”

If a normal business loses money, it must cut costs, sell assets, borrow money, or take other actions to stop the losses. If it loses enough money, it will eventually eat away at the company’s assets. If this goes on long enough, the company will become insolvent. Sustained losses ultimately mean bankruptcy.

The Fed doesn’t have to do any of these things. In fact, it can lose money year after year and go right on doing business as if there were no losses.


Because we live in a world where the Federal Reserve gets to make its own accounting rules. And according to its own accounting rules, any net loss magically turns into a “deferred asset.”

[I]n the unlikely scenario in which realized losses were sufficiently large enough to result in an overall net income loss for the Reserve Banks, the Federal Reserve would still meet its financial obligations to cover operating expenses. In that case, remittances to the Treasury would be suspended and a deferred asset would be recorded on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet.”

Under this scheme, an operating loss does not reduce the Fed’s reported capital or surplus. The bank simply creates an “asset” on its balance sheet out of thin air equal to the loss and business continues as usual. (This is kind of like money printing.) As losses mount, the size of this “asset” will grow.

There is no limit to the size of this “deferred asset” and no time limit on its existence.

Once the Fed returns to profitability, it will retain profits in order to reduce the amount of this imaginary asset. In other words, the US government won’t get any money from the Fed until this “asset” is zeroed out. At that point, the Fed will resume sending money to the federal government.

This has no real impact on the Fed, but it does mean the US government will see a long-term reduction in revenue resulting in a budget deficit higher than it otherwise would have been as long as the Fed is losing money.

A recent article by Alex Pollock published by the Mises Wire breaks it down using the Fed’s most recent balance sheet.

The CQFR reports a total capital of about $42 billion ($35.6 billion of paid-in capital from the member commercial banks and $6.8 billion of retained earnings, called “surplus”). But note: This total capital is much less than the $57 billion reported loss for the six months of 2023, to which must be added the loss for the later months of 2022 of $17 billion. This total $74 billion of accumulated losses by June 30 must be subtracted from the retained earnings and thus from total capital. But the Fed does not do this—it misleadingly books its losses as an asset (!), which it calls a “deferred asset”– a practice highly surprising to anyone who passed Accounting 101. Why does the Fed do this? Presumably it does not wish to show itself with negative capital. However, negative capital is the reality.

Here are the combined Fed’s correct capital accounts as of June 30, based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. They result in a capital of negative $32 billion:

Paid-in capital            $36 billion

Retained earnings   ($68 billion)

Total capital               ($32 billion)

I sure do wish I could use my own accounting system when doing my taxes. But alas, I’m not special.


This isn’t good news for a government already buried in debt and running massive budget deficits month after month. It means the US government will have to borrow even more money that the Fed will ultimately have to monetize.

This is yet another reason the Fed’s inflation fight is doomed to fail. Raising rates and shrinking its balance sheet to tame the inflation dragon means more federal government debt. That puts more pressure on the central bank to prop up the government’s borrow-and-spend policies. At some point, the Fed will be forced to cut rates and return to QE in order to manipulate the bond market so the government can keep borrowing. In other words, it will have to create more inflation.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/13/2023 - 14:45
Published:9/13/2023 2:35:28 PM
[Culture] Quan Millz Was the Biggest Mystery on TikTok. Until Now The prolific street-lit author’s X-rated books went viral on TikTok. Many believed he was a white writer profiting on Black culture. That was just the beginning. Published:9/13/2023 9:23:07 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:9/13/2023 7:05:55 AM
[Markets] Here's How I Lost Out on a $2.3 Million Investment. Can You Avoid My Mistake? Books by John Grisham, Danielle Steel, and Stephen King topped various best-seller lists. On June 22, I bought 100 shares of Apple Computer -- now Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) -- at $49 apiece, spending a total of $4,900 plus the trading commission of $54. On Aug. 28, I sold 100 shares of Apple Computer at $45 per share, netting roughly $4,450. Published:9/13/2023 4:25:25 AM
[Markets] Flash Mob Robberies Are Not "Just Kids From Social Media", They're Organized Crime Flash Mob Robberies Are Not "Just Kids From Social Media", They're Organized Crime

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

There’s an epidemic spreading across America, and it isn’t the one the mainstream media is talking about. It’s the epidemic of flash mob robberies. This is not only causing problems due to the violence and trauma inflicted on those present during the event. It’s also driving up costs even further in a nation facing unprecedented inflation.

According to Loss Prevention Magazine, each event costs retailers approximately $700,000 for every billion dollars in sales, and it’s happening almost daily.

A lot of people seem to brush off flash mob robberies as a bunch of kids who got together through social media getting out of hand. But they’re symptoms of a bigger rot: organized crime and neutered criminal justice policies that are spreading across our country fast.

What’s a flash mob robbery?

If you haven’t heard of these, you may be wondering what a flash mob robbery is.

 A flash mob robbery is a form of organized crime that occurs when groups of people suddenly enter a store, steal as many items as possible, and vanish as quickly as they appear. For those around them, it’s often terrifying and disturbing. The schemes are usually thought out via social media and executed within a matter of minutes. The groups typically disguise themselves by wearing masks, hoodies, or gloves. Often, aggressive behavior is used and causes those who are present great distress.

The trend began in California, but it’s important not to think, “Oh, I’m safe because I don’t live in California.” It’s beginning to spread outside of the state because of several reasons.

1.) Nobody stops them. People in retail outlets just stand back for their own safety. (Most locations require employees to do this.)

2.) On the off chance the criminals are caught, they’re generally released within a matter of hours because of bail reform.

It may just be a big city problem right now, but I am certain we’ll see this spread more and more as the criminally inclined – or even younger folks in general – see others getting away with it with no consequences.

Best Buy has previously cited organized retail crime as the reason their profits have continued to dip.

It’s not just kids out for kicks.

Before we start dumping on the younger generation, however, it’s important to note that, in many cases, this is organized crime. According to the GVWire:

The flash mobs are usually organized by local people who recruit their crews and send them to steal specific merchandise requested by criminal organizations throughout the country, said Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail.

Those who do the stealing get paid between $500 and $1,000 to take as much as they can and bring it back to organizers who ship it to other parts of the country.

“Crew bosses organize them, they’ll give him the crowbars, and in some cases even rent them cars, or provide them with escape routes or a list of products to actually go out and steal. It looks very chaotic but it’s actually very well organized,” Dugan said.

The flash mobs are a symptom. The organizers are the illness.

It’s not just high-end luxury stores either.

The Los Angeles Daily News cited a podcast when explaining the issue in a recent article.

However, according to the National Retail Federation, high-end stores with luxury items represent the minority when it comes to targets for organized retail crime.

“(Organized retail crime) groups also target everyday consumer goods,” David S. Johnston, vice president of asset protection and retail operations with the federation, said in a video the organization made on retail crime. “They have a preference (for) goods of lesser value with an increased resale value.”

Some then sell the stolen merchandise to individuals or a group, called a “fence” by law enforcement, through online marketplaces, swap meets or seemingly legitimate businesses, CHP officials said. The buyers may or may not be aware the items they purchase were stolen.

The LADN continues to explain:

LAPD has dealt with groups of high school kids overwhelming convenience store clerks for several years, but said these flash mobs are well-planned and organized.

“They’ve cased it out, they’ve looked at it, they get it over with quickly,” Pitcher added. “It’s different from the thrill of doing it for public consumption.”

Organized retail crime rings target items that are difficult to track and are easily resold. Stolen items such as Tide detergent, baby formula, cosmetics, Louis Vuitton handbags and vitamins that once were hawked at flea markets or street corners are now fenced online by gangs to raise money for their activities, said Rachel Michelin president and CEO of the California Retailers Association.

“What we are seeing is more sophistication,” Michelin said. “We see a lot more recruiting; they recruit street gangs, the homeless. They will pay them 100 bucks to go in and steal.”

In many cases, the suspects – almost all wearing hoodies and masks – have been in and out in between two and four minutes, Pitcher said. Police are also learning most of the getaway vehicles are either rented under fictitious names, or “cold plated”, meaning they’re affixed with license plates that don’t match the vehicle’s registration, most likely because a thief has stolen a license plate off another car.

Store security isn’t really much help, as the numbers are so overwhelming, and they are restricted by laws that don’t allow them to use force in the protection of merchandise.

Bystanders, whether they’re store staff or shoppers, are encouraged by law enforcement and management to “be good witnesses” and not do anything to prevent the thefts.

What can be done?

Until these crimes are prosecuted and the organizers sniffed out, there’s little that can be done to prevent the ongoing spread of flash mob robberies. Weak policies that allow criminals to leave after being arrested with zero-dollar bail offer little in the way of deterrence.

Mall and retail security expert David Levenberg and Ben Dugan, president of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, talked to The AP about it:

“Crew bosses organize them. They’ll give him the crowbars, and in some cases even rent them cars, or provide them with escape routes or a list of products to actually go out and steal. It looks very chaotic, but it’s actually very well organized,” Dugan said.

“We’re not talking about someone who needs money or needs food. These are people who go out and do this is for high profit, and for the thrill,” he said.

In some cases, though, the thieves may be copycats rather than people working with organized networks, Levenberg said. He said the thieves may be thinking: “‘Did you see what happened in San Francisco? Let’s go to the Grove and do it.’”

And while smash-and-grab thefts are occurring nationwide, Levenberg said cities with progressive prosecutors — like Los Angeles and San Francisco — are especially hard-hit because the punishments for perpetrators are not as harsh as in other cities.

“The consequences are minimal, and the profits are substantial,” said Levenberg, founder of Florida-based Center Security Services.

There’s not a lot that can be done on the personal end to prevent such crimes.

  • Retailers are advised not to put expensive goods near windows or exits and to focus employees on keeping customers safe rather than interacting with thieves.

  • The other important factors are installing district attorneys who are tough on crimes like this. These modern catch-and-release policies don’t work, and we’re seeing what happens when laws are not enforced with enough deterring factors to make people think twice.

  • The other side of the coin is that you should be careful what you buy off websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Those bundles of laundry soap you’re getting for a dime might not be as appealing if you realize they could be stolen goods.

If you’re present at a flash mob robbery, think carefully before engaging. Personally, I’m not putting myself or my family at risk to engage with a group of 20+ people intent on stealing someone else’s merchandise. You may feel differently, but it’s essential that you don’t put other innocent people in harm’s way to confront a group of criminals.

*  *  *

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterestGabMeWeParlerInstagram, and Twitter.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/12/2023 - 22:05
Published:9/12/2023 9:27:27 PM
[Politics] ‘I … Kissed Him While He Masturbated’: Lawmaker Reads Aloud From Pornographic ‘Kids’ Books at Senate Hearing

Editor’s note: This article includes quotes from books with graphic sexual descriptions. Sen. John Neely Kennedy read from pornographic books at a Senate hearing on... Read More

The post ‘I … Kissed Him While He Masturbated’: Lawmaker Reads Aloud From Pornographic ‘Kids’ Books at Senate Hearing appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:9/12/2023 4:52:31 PM
[Politics] Aaron Ruper is SHOCKED to hear such filth on the Senate floor, but it's okay in your kids' classroom Published:9/12/2023 12:59:52 PM
[Markets] Influencing Innovation: The Most Talked About Jackson Hole Paper Influencing Innovation: The Most Talked About Jackson Hole Paper

By Jean-Laurent Cadorel of Exante Data

  • Monetary policy matters in the short-run through its impact on asset prices, demand, and activity;

  • Yet in the long run the economy is assumed to gravitate towards some “natural” rate of activity independent of such monetary actions;

  • A growing number of researchers are asking, however, whether monetary policy can have hysteresis effects and impact the natural rate through innovation activity.

THIS YEAR’S Jackson Hole gathering was themed “structural shifts in the global economy.” Policymaker speeches garnered the most attention, of course. But there were also the usual academic contributions. And of these perhaps the most talked about was Monetary Policy and Innovation by Yueran Ma of the University of Chicago and Kaspar Zimmermann of the Leibniz Institute for Financial Research.

Ma and Zimmerman argue monetary policy can have hysteresis effects on the economy through the financing of innovation; lower innovation can lead to lower growth and less desirable macroeconomic outcomes. The authors show this empirically using monetary shocks constructed à la Christina Romer and David Romer and a variety of measures of innovation in the United States. They find statistically significant and economically large effects using local projections.

This result matters because it changes central bank calculus. For example, Taylor Rules implicitly assume the natural rate of interest is independent of the rate of interest set by the central bank—the natural rate being that “ground out” by frictionless markets, per Milton Friedman’s analogue in unemployment. And it is assumed the central bank anchors the money rate of interest to the natural rate of interest (per Woodford). So if economists now show monetary policy impacts the natural rate, Taylor Rules may need some rethinking: how can we target a natural rate of interest using a money rate if the latter impacts the former?


Over the second half of the last century, macroeconomics has come to a compromise between the extreme (Keynesian) view than monetary policy is ineffective (in a liquidity trap) and monetary policy is all that matters (the extreme monetarist view). Today, it is generally understood that monetary policy has short-run effects but is neutral in the long run—Patinkin’s classical dichotomy prevails.

Discussions about monetary policy have therefore focused on its short-run impact while natural forces are expected to do their work on the supply side of the economy.

The paper by Ma and Zimmerman is part of a small but growing body of work interested in possible longer-term consequences of monetary policy which may operate through innovation and technological progress. They adopt a New Keynesian perspective with endogenous total factor productivity (TFP). Monetary policy influences firms’ incentives to develop and implement innovations.

For example, following monetary policy contractions, reductions in aggregate demand can decrease profitability and incentives for innovation. Tighter financial conditions and lower risk appetite can decrease funding for innovation. A slower pace of innovation may then have lasting effects.

This paper tests the effects of monetary policy on innovation activities, using a variety of metrics of innovation: aggregate investment in intellectual property (including R&D) from national accounts, the R&D spending of public companies, and measures based on VC investment and patent filing.


The authors observe meaningful changes in innovation activity in the years following monetary policy shocks. First, investment in intellectual property products (IPP) in the national accounts (NIPA) declines by about 1 percent. The magnitude is comparable to the decline in traditional investment in physical assets. R&D spending in Compustat data for public firms declines by about 3 percent.

Second, VC investment is more volatile, and declines by as much as 25 percent at a horizon of 1 to 3 years after the monetary policy shock. Third, patenting in important technologies measured by Bloom et al. (2023) declines by up to 9 percent 2 to 4 years after the shock. Patenting in other technologies declines by less than patenting in important technologies according to the importance classification in Bloom et al. (2023).

An aggregate innovation index constructed by Kogan et al. (2017) using estimates of the economic value of patents also declines by up to 9 percent. Based on this paper’s output and total factor productivity (TFP) sensitivity to the aggregate innovation index, a 9 percent decline in the index can contribute to 1 percent lower real output and 0.5 percent lower TFP 5 years later.


For the transmission mechanism from monetary policy to innovation activities, Ma and Zimmerman find indications that both demand and financial conditions are relevant.

First, by decreasing demand, monetary policy tightening can reduce the profitability of developing new products and the incentives to innovate (Shleifer, 1986; Fatas, 2000; Comin and Gertler, 2006; Benigno and Fornaro, 2018). In the data, they observe a stronger decline in both R&D and patenting in more cyclical industries. They also observe that patenting declines after monetary policy tightening among both public and private companies, and among both large and small public companies. To the extent that large public firms have abundant financial resources, the slowdown of innovation activities among these firms is likely driven by reduced demand.

Second, monetary policy tightening can affect financial conditions and reduce the appetite for risk-taking (Bauer, Bernanke, and Milstein, 2023; Kashyap and Stein, 2023). In the data, they observe that VC investment for both early-stage and late-stage startups declines after monetary policy tightening. To the extent that early-stage startups are still in the product development phase and may not have products coming to the market immediately, reduced funding could reflect less appetite for investing in risky endeavors.


The Ma and Zimmerman contribution is an important empirical counterpart to recent papers exploring the possible longer-term consequences of monetary policy, which may operate through the influence of monetary policy on innovation and technological progress (Stadler, 1990; Moran and Queralto, 2018; Modery et al., 2021; Grimm, Laeven, and Popov, 2022; Amador, 2022; Fornaro and Wolf, 2023; Jordà, Singh, and Taylor, 2023).

The authors document the response of innovation to monetary policy using a collection of measures.

The results suggest that monetary policy could have a persistent influence on the productive capacity of the economy, in addition to the well-recognized near-term effects on economic outcomes. Rising interest rates since 2022 and a substantial decline in venture capital investment highlight how relevant these issues are. Recent breakthroughs in AI raise the hope that another technological revolution could be on the horizon.

What does this mean for policy? The authors argue their contribution does not imply monetary policy should be more dovish. A number of economic observers have highlighted the misallocation of capital (excessive housing construction) or the emergence of asset bubbles (in debt markets, housing, and cryptocurrencies) due to the low level of interest rates.

Striking the right balance between these two sides requires evidence and the authors contribute a persuasive set of results to the debate. But as they also point out. it is possible that the effects of monetary policy on innovation cancel out over the complete cycle. So, for now, the policy conclusions are not clear.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/10/2023 - 19:30
Published:9/10/2023 6:44:48 PM
[Markets] The New Authoritarian Agenda Revealed (Globalism Rebranded) The New Authoritarian Agenda Revealed (Globalism Rebranded)

From Brandon Smith

In July of last year as the hype surrounding the Covid pandemic was finally dying out, I came across a video promoting a barely publicized project called the “Council for Inclusive Capitalism.”

The group, headed by Lynn Forester de Rothschild, is the culmination of decades of various globalist agendas combined to represent the ultimate proof of conspiracy.

Remember when people used to say that global governance by elitists was a paranoid fantasy?

Well, now it’s openly admitted reality.

The CIC is intimately tied to institutions like the World Economic Forum (WEF), the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but it is primarily an attempt to link all these organizations more closely to the corporate world in an open display of cooperation. The group pushes the spread of what they call “Stakeholder Capitalism.” This is the notion that international corporations are obligated to engage in social engineering. That’s another way of saying that corporations are required to manipulate citizens and governments with economic punishments and rewards.

We witnessed this agenda in action during the Covid lockdowns and the rush to enforce vaccine passports. These efforts would not have been possible without the cooperation of major corporate chains working hand-in-hand with national governments. Luckily, the strategy failed as local governments and the public fought back.

We have also seen stakeholder capitalism on display in the push for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) guidelines among major companies. Most readers are probably familiar with ESG at this point, but keep in mind, the public was oblivious to the terminology until the past 2 years. Globalists have been developing ESG rules since 2005. As Klaus Schwab of the WEF notes in his book Stakeholder Capitalism:

The most important characteristic of the stakeholder model today is that the stakes of our system are now more clearly global. Economies, societies, and the environment are more closely linked to each other now than 50 years ago. The model we present here is therefore fundamentally global in nature, and the two primary stakeholders are as well.

…What was once seen as externalities in national economic policy making and individual corporate decision making will now need to be incorporated or internalized in the operations of every government, company, community, and individual. The planet is thus the center of the global economic system, and its health should be optimized in the decisions made by all other stakeholders.

The carrot and the stick

ESG was intended to be the tool that globalists and governments would use to force companies into the stakeholder capitalism model. It is a kind of social credit system, but for companies. The higher a company’s ESG score, the more access to capital and lending they would have (easy money).

Modern ESG started out in 2005, initially focused on climate controls – influencing corporations to participate in the carbon credit marketplace or face additional taxation.

But, by 2016 it became something else. ESG widely adopted woke politics including Critical Race Theory, feminism, trans ideology, various elements of Marxism, etc.

This was the modern ESG that all of us are aware of today. It was an attempt to incentivize the business world to bombard the populace with woke messaging 24/7, and it worked, for a little while anyway.

The exposure of ESG is perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of the alternative media. It was proof that the “woke-ification” of our economy and society was not the result of some grassroots activist movement or the natural evolution of civilization. No, everything woke was a product, forced into existence by corporate and globalist interests.

It is with some disappointment I’m sure that Lynn Forester de Rothschild admitted the defeat of ESG at the B20 Summit in India recently. Though, as is usually the case, Rothschild admits that the goal will be to replace the term “ESG” with something else that the public is not as privy to while continuing to institute social credit scoring for companies as a means to dominate them.

It is typical for globalists to re-brand their projects whenever they get exposed. It’s merely a way to throw the public off the scent. However, I don’t think this tactic is going to work anymore. Researchers are locked on to the ESG dynamic and changing the name will not help the establishment avoid scrutiny.

Globalists go on the defensive

I want to point out here that there has been a dramatic shift in globalist circles towards a defensive posture, rather than the offensive posture they held a couple years ago. Apparently, something went very wrong for them during Covid. They were brazen with their rhetoric not long ago, basically admitting their intentions to establish a global authoritarian system. Now they are sheepish and much more careful in the things they say.

To this end, most of the honest discussion on globalism is no longer found in the statements of the WEF or the halls of the Davos forums. Rather, the true agenda is discussed at less prominent climate change events such as B20 in India or the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in Paris which I covered in July. These are the events where globalists now feel increasingly free to talk about what they really want.

Another admission by Rothschild at B20 should be noted as she suggests that Biden’s “Inflation Reduction Act” is one of the best representations of incentivizing climate controls.

This just confirms what we already suspected; the Inflation Reduction Act had nothing to do with inflation. Rather, it was a way to divert taxpayer funds into government subsidies for carbon taxation and green tech. Taking money out of your pocket and handing it over to corporations who toe the ESG line.

The CIC wants to dictate global mandates that force companies to adopt ESG-like policies using trillions of dollars in climate funds ($7 trillion per year, to be exact).

Think of it this way:

  1. Any company that “volunteers” to use less efficient green tech and to promote climate ideology gets access to government funds – they get rewarded.

  2. Any company that refuses to go along with the plan will ultimately face heavy taxation while trying to compete with their subsidized peers – they are forced out of business.

Sound familiar? It’s not your imagination…

This is, essentially, the early stages of a global communist/collectivist economic regime.

“Inclusive capitalism” is a hoax

And here we get to the crux of the issue.

  • There is no “inclusive capitalism.”

  • There is no “stakeholder capitalism.”

  • There is no “ESG.”

  • Climate change is not an existential threat.

  • Covid was never as severe as they wanted you to think.

What do these things have in common? All of these issues represent smoke and mirrors, a way to distract the populace from the root intent to create total centralization in the hands of a select few elites. The prize for them is to convince the public to embrace economic micromanagement. This is what ESG was all about. This is what Inclusive Capitalism is all about.

The globalists want to hand-pick winners and losers. Worse still, they want to use your money to reward the faithful and punish the skeptical. Their goal is to build a global economic panopticon, an unescapable prison where every transaction is monitored, evaluated, authorized or denied and (of course) recorded.

central bank digital currency (CDBC) is a crucial milestone in their progress toward this goal. Just imagine how much easier this will be when the 100 or so largest, most influential corporations in the world are on-board and enthusiastic about such a development…

I wrote about this not long ago:

All privacy in trade will be gone, except for those people engaging in barter, black markets and commodity-based transactions. This is one of the main reasons global central banks have persistently killed the idea of intrinsically-sound money, like physical gold and silver, for the last 50 years. Remember, barter and black markets are more or less by definition off the books. Untaxed, unregulated and untrackable.

But don’t be misled – this is much more than an issue of privacy.

Implementation of CBDCs would also mean that ownership of money and the ability to transact, to participate in the economy, will become privileges, not rights.

In communist China, use of digital payments is tied to a social credit system. Want access to your checking and savings accounts? Better not say anything critical of the Party, or you could be reported by a neighbor (or a stranger) using the tattletale function on their smartphone. Digital money can disappear in seconds. Want your money back? Prove that you are “loyal” to the Party. There are many subtle levels between “upstanding citizen” and “outlaw,” though, and the CCP adjust their citizens’ financial statuses constantly. Bad social credit might mean taxis won’t even stop for you. That you’re prevented from purchasing from upscale shops. (Insufficiently healthy? Your e-yuan won’t even let you buy junk food at 7-11. Seriously!) The citizen is guilty until proven innocent.

Once the economy is locked into an ideological prison and access to private trade can be denied by a handful of bureaucrats working with corporations, the establishment then has the means to dictate all of society.

Our behaviors, our beliefs, our principles, our morals.

For if the government has the power to determine whether you and your family eat or starve, they have the power to compel you to do anything.

This is why owning untraceable, intrinsically valuable physical precious metals is crucial to your own personal liberty. Today, now, while you still can, diversify your savings with an alternative form of money that will always be accepted, without question, anywhere in the world.

There’s a reason the globalists hate gold and silver. They’re virtually the only financial assets you can own that are “off the books.” Just as untrackable as cash (they hate cash, too, but not as much) and, better yet, uninflatable, unhackable and free from central bank meddling.

Fight the globalist agenda every step of the way. And make sure that, no matter what, you and your loved ones can endure their tyranny without compromising your beliefs.

*  *  *

High inflation means your 401(k) or IRA will be worth less, potentially much less, when you retire. Personally, I recommend a Gold IRA for the ultimate retirement security. To see why, Click here to get a FREE info kit from Birch Gold Group about Gold IRAs. (This comes with NO obligation or strings attached.)

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/08/2023 - 23:40
Published:9/8/2023 10:49:58 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey On The 2024 Election Doug Casey On The 2024 Election

Authored by Doug Casey via,

International Man: President Biden is running for reelection in 2024.

However, many Americans are questioning Biden’s physical and mental faculties. He appears half asleep on many occasions—often forgetting his train of thought or stumbling on his words.

Biden will soon be 81, making him the oldest president in US history.

What’s your take?

Doug CaseyThe very fact that he’s supposedly even contemplating running in 2024 is further proof that he’s non compos mentis. He’s so far gone that he doesn’t even realize what an embarrassment he is. But it’s not a question of his age, per se.

A lot of people in their eighties are sharp as a tack. Age slows you down, true. But if you’ve gained wisdom through many years of experience, you can still play the game. The problem with Biden isn’t so much that he’s decrepit and feeble—although those things are highly undesirable in a national leader. It’s that he lacks any semblance of ability, has no judgment, and is devoid of morality and ethics. The world is asking: How degraded are the American people that they could not just elect but are thinking of reelecting, such a pathetic shell?

Trump is only four years younger, but he appears hale and hardy. All this should be academic, however. It should, ideally, make little difference who the president is.

Switzerland is the most prosperous country in Europe, and nobody knows or cares who the president of Switzerland might be. It would be nice if the president of the US was nothing but a figurehead, someone respectable to set a moral tone and give a good example. Perhaps that’s the biggest reason Biden shouldn’t run. He’s almost the antithesis of a role model. Although admittedly superior to his thoroughly degenerate son, who he once identified as the most intelligent man he knew.

International Man: Despite the countless indictments against him, Donald Trump is still the frontrunner for the Republican ticket with an enormous lead.

What’s your perspective on Trump this time around?

Doug Casey: I did an interview here in 2016 when he first talked of running—and nothing has changed.

He has absolutely no philosophical core; he flies by the seat of his pants. Trump is popular because he’s a traditionalist and a nationalist. He wants the US to return to the values of a kinder and gentler era. However, he’s not a libertarian. He has no understanding of economics, as evidenced by the fact that he wants massive duties on imports. He has no fear of gigantic deficits. He’s fine with borrowing even more money. He’s quite willing to put on regulations when he arbitrarily thinks it’s a good idea.

At a time when the US is collapsing in on itself, bankrupt, crime-ridden, and overtaken by crazy wokeness, I believe most people would prefer a traditionalist—at least someone who’s not a Jacobin looking to overturn the whole basis of society. I hasten to add that Biden himself isn’t even the real problem—as degraded as he is—it’s the people who manipulate the doddering old fool. His cabinet and top officials are an assortment of criminal personalities. They are, without exception, stupid, incompetent, and/or psychotic. That’s a radical statement, but I believe it’s factual. The overweight tranny sporting an admirals costume while masquerading as a woman is far from the worst of the bunch.

At least Trump is something of an outsider. The people in the evil party hate him simply because he’s an outspoken traditionalist who resonates with the hoi polloi. They suffer from what’s known as “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

I’m not really a fan of Trump, except for the fact that he’s a traditionalist. It’s interesting that the people who do hate him, hate him just because he’s a traditionalist. I see zero evidence that he’s a criminal. He is just a successful self-promoter, a celebrity who made some money in real estate and has genuine concerns about his country. Plus, he’s very entertaining—that actually counts for something.

International Man: Now that actual libertarians seem to be running the Libertarian Party, do you see anything interesting coming from them in 2024?

Doug Casey: I neither follow nor care about the Libertarian Party. It only counts because it’s registered to run candidates in all 50 states. None of them have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning more than a local race for dogcatcher. That said, the major parties will each try to use it to draw votes from the other party. That was the case in 2016 when Johnson/Weld got 4.5 million votes, 3.3% of the total. That’s a big deal in a close election.

Except for Ron Paul and Harry Browne, who intelligently used the election as a bully platform to spread the philosophy, the Libertarian Party’s candidates have been non-entities. I’m sure that’ll be the case this year as well.

In fact, they’re worse than just narcissistic non-entities. Their 2016 candidate, Gary Johnson, was just a good-natured pothead who somehow got elected governor of New Mexico. He picked William Weld, ex-governor of Massachusetts and a classic Deep State operative, as his VP. How did that ever happen?

I understand the Libertarian Party has evicted the party-archs who promoted that ticket. I used to say, if you’re going to vote, at least vote Libertarian as a protest vote. But it really is a wasted vote from every point of view these days. Not that it really matters. I understand the arguments why you should vote, but the fact is that your vote counts about as much as a grain of sand on a beach, especially if the election is rigged.

International Man: Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, suggested a Trump/RFK ticket would win in a massive landslide.

Presuming the DNC rigs the primary against RFK Jr., what role do you see him playing in the general election?

Doug Casey: They’re both outspoken and very entertaining—90% of politics is entertainment. They mostly agree on Covid, which is wonderful. They’re both anti-war. They’re both anti-Deep State.

It’s possible that Bannon’s right; the public would love two refreshing semi-outsiders. But it would probably be like taking a couple of cats and tying their tails together.

Kennedy, as I explained before, is basically an old-style “reasonable” Democrat. He believes in a “safety net” (i.e. welfare), regulation, the green agenda, and the rest of it. So does Trump, to a great extent. It’s not that Bannon’s wrong; it’s just that the two of them would always try to overshadow each other. But at least they’re not woke Democrats…

In my view, the Republicans are the stupid party, and the Democrats are the evil party. Given a chance between stupid and evil, you should probably go for stupid. They might be less destructive. Although perversely, since stupidity is amorphous, illogical, and unpredictable, they could be just dangerous in a different way. It’s a classic Hobson’s Choice.

International Man: What sort of dirty tricks do you see occurring in the run-up to the 2024 election?

Is it possible the Deep State will find a way to cancel the election if it isn’t going their way?

Doug CaseyYou may recall that in 2016, I placed a money bet that, against all odds, Trump would win. In 2020, I gave six reasons why the Democrats would win.

So I’m foolishly starting to think I’m a handicapper of the how hoi polloi will vote. Or at least who’s best at fixing an election.

The Democrats might win simply because the American electorate has become so corrupt; they accept socialism in principle. In addition, the Dems currently control the apparatus of the State and are aggressively using it to cement themselves in power.

They’re actual Jacobins, Neo-Marxists, and will do anything to stay in office. Like the way, they’re prosecuting Trump in four different jurisdictions for scores of nonsensical, fabricated charges. They’re attempting to bankrupt him with legal fees, de-legitimize him with unthinking voters, and tie up his time so it’s impossible for him to campaign.

This is the type of thing, like the extraordinary sentences handed down for the Jan 6 protests, that goes on in Third World countries. Serious MAGA people could go wild. It’s possible that we won’t even have an election in 2024, as outrageous as that sounds.

The Dems can’t run Biden. It’s egregious elder abuse; the old criminal is just a shell of a man. Nor can they run the cackling, dim-witted Kamala, even though many black people will predictably cry racism in today’s environment. She’s a parody of herself.

So, who can the Democrats run? Michelle Obama? She is way too much of a hot potato ultra-leftist. Another option is Gavin Newsom, who’s undistinguished by anything except being good-looking and running California into the ground. I don’t see anybody else with name recognition.

There are several other huge X factors. Between now and the election, we’re very likely to have a financial and economic crisis. The Greater Depression could well up from under the surface and explode like a volcano, creating chaos. The military crisis in the Ukraine could spin out of control into an actual war against Russia. The US continues to antagonize China, a big wild card. And Washington seems to be plumping for a war in North Africa.

Perhaps most important is the fact that the red people and the blue people in the US actually hate each other. It’s much more serious and widespread than any culture clash we had in the past, including the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It could lead to something resembling a civil war. The US Government itself is losing legitimacy with wide swaths of domestic and foreign public opinion. I know it’s outlandish to consider seriously, but is it possible that we could wind up with a military government in the US?

Although the US military has become corrupt and is also collapsing on itself, it’s about the only government institution that Americans still trust. In a time of chaos, when neither party can put forward a candidate, we could get a general as a (temporary) solution. Likely an opportunistic leftist like the recently defrocked Petraeus.

It’s a reasonably safe bet that 2024 is not going to be just a bad year but one for the record books.

*  *  *

Disturbing economic, political, and social trends are already in motion and now accelerating at breathtaking speed. The risks that lie ahead are too big and dangerous to ignore. That’s exactly why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released a free report with all the details on how to survive an economic collapse. It will help you understand what is unfolding right before our eyes and what you should do so you don’t get caught in the crosshairs. Click here to download the PDF now.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/08/2023 - 21:00
Published:9/8/2023 8:19:33 PM
[Markets] Gingrich On American Despotism: They Censored The Truth And Printed Lies About Biden Gingrich On American Despotism: They Censored The Truth And Printed Lies About Biden

Authored by Newt Gingrich via The American Spectator,

We are faced with a totalitarian cancer that will have to be confronted and defeated at every level.

Author’s Note: The complex patterns that have led to the greatest crisis of constitutional government and rule of law since the Civil War are far bigger, involve far more people, and are ultimately more dangerous to American freedom than the personal dishonesty and criminality of the Biden family. This “American Despotism” series in The American Spectator will provide a clear history of the weaponization of government, which has violated the Constitution and corrupted the rule of law. While each article will be complete and stand-alone, together they will combine to fully describe the patterns that now threaten to destroy the foundation of individual freedom — the hallmark of the American system.

America is now in the deepest, most dangerous constitutional crisis since the hostility in the 1850s that led to secession and civil war.

This constitutional crisis is so widespread and threatening that House Republicans must dramatically widen their investigations. Hunter Biden and President Joe Biden are only a tiny part of a spiderweb of corruption, dishonesty, criminal behavior, and state weaponization. The rule of law is steadily being replaced by a frightening new rule of power.

Of course, it is important to get to the bottom of the Biden corruption. It is critical that we understand how a drug-addicted, out-of-control drunk with no business experience attracted millions of dollars from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Romania, and Communist China. It is vital to learn what involvement the then–vice president and now-president had in the scheme. It seems clear President Biden was doing favors for foreign billionaires while publicly claiming he knew nothing of his son’s business dealings.

House Republicans must recognize, however, that they are currently focused on one tree in a forest of illegality and totalitarian behavior. A powerful and growing faction of the American Left would undermine the Constitution, turn the government into an instrument of coercing Americans to do what it wants, and use the law as a weapon to destroy its political opponents.

The Problem Is Much Bigger Than Hunter Biden

Most of modern American history can only be understood within this broader system of coercion and corruption. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden are major players — but they are supported by a cast of hundreds and possibly thousands of eager totalitarians ready to impose their views on the American people. These would-be coercers have been enriching themselves with impunity because they know their establishment allies will never question them or hold them to account.

If you think I am exaggerating the distance between normal Americans and the totalitarians of the left, consider the reality in which we are all living. 

A clear example of this split is the 84 percent who believe parents have the right to know what is being taught to their children in school. Meanwhile, teachers unions oppose parental rights, and the FBI investigates concerned parents as potential terrorists. This is a clear example of the left-wing minority’s effort to use government to force extreme cultural and societal change.

One of the great questions for our generation is whether a ruthless minority weaponizing government and destroying the American rule of law can use sheer force and threat of force to make Americans accept things in which they do not believe.

We established America’s New Majority Project to find and develop a set of issues on which most Americans agree. We were delighted to find a wide range of issues that have 70 percent to 90 percent support. 

For example: 

  • 83 percent prefer to identify themselves as Americans rather than by their racial or ethnic backgrounds.

  • 82 percent prefer free-market capitalism to big-government socialism.

  • 79 percent believe that people who believe in the values found in the Bible have the right to express them publicly.

  • 74 percent believe able-bodied adults should have to work to receive taxpayer-funded benefits such as food stamps, health care, or welfare.

If you go to our website, you will see a huge majority of Americans favor positions for which they would be canceled, ridiculed, fired, or even prosecuted by the current coercive left-wing dominated system.

Instead of having a government that serves the American people, we have degenerated into a government that wants the American people to serve and obey it. All of this has led to the rule of law being replaced by the rule of power.

The warnings in George Orwell’s 1984, Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and virtually all the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn seem to all be coming true. A startling movement of totalitarian thought and behavior control is growing. It is eager to use government and the threat of prosecution to coerce the rest of us.

The Corruption Goes Deeper Than We Think

While focusing on Hunter Biden’s laptop and the trails of foreign corruption leading to President Biden, we have missed the vastly bigger, more frightening, and far more complex story of illegal and anti-constitutional behavior undermining the American system of law.

The turning point for me was reading Andy McCarthy’s remarkable book Ball of Collusion. Published in 2019, it should have been required reading for every American before the 2020 election. McCarthy is a solid professional prosecutor with almost two decades of experience in the Justice Department. He was the lead prosecutor in the trials of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing terrorists.

He used his prosecutorial skills to take apart the entire effort to tie candidate- and then-President Donald Trump to Russia. The Russian hoax was a deliberate lie funded by the Clinton campaign and seized upon by the FBI and the CIA. It was an opportunity for the system in power to defeat a candidate it didn’t like. After the lie failed to defeat Trump as a candidate, it was used to hamstring his presidency.

Ball of Collusion was a stunning revelation to me. I knew a lot about the general story — and had lived through it — but I had never connected the dots in such a methodical way. McCarthy’s research convinced him that the conspiracy to destroy Trump involved much more of the government than I would have thought possible. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope that suddenly came into focus. 

Ball of Collusion opened a whole new line of thinking for me. Suddenly, many of the things I have lived through in American politics started to fit the pattern of corruption and coercion — Clinton’s cattle futures windfall, Lois Lerner’s weaponization of the IRS (on the advice of federal prosecutor Jack Smith), and the flagrant corruption of the Clinton Foundation. 

Some policy decisions made by then–Secretary of State Clinton — including permitting the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium to a Russian company that gave the Clinton Foundation a $2.3 million gift — made sense in this pattern. I then thought about Smith’s legal attack on Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (which was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court because Smith lied to the jury about the law). Unsurprisingly, this is the same Smith the Biden administration picked to attack Trump ahead of the 2024 election. The list goes on and on.

Importantly, McCarthy focused on a Jan. 5, 2017, meeting in which then-President Barack Obama personally coordinated the joint FBI–CIA effort to cripple and derail the Trump administration. It became clear to me this was an absolute smoking gun of guilt. The incumbent president of the United States openly coordinated the law enforcement and intelligence agencies in a deliberate, methodical effort to hinder the next president of the United States. It was an act verging on treason. Once I understood that Obama was capable of this level of viciousness and dishonesty, a lot of other things began to fall in place.

The Obama administration’s treatment of the Benghazi attack that killed an American ambassador was one example. Susan Rice appeared on five national news shows the Sunday after the attack to repeat a narrative that was completely false and misleading. After all, Sept. 11, 2012, was close to the election. Obama did not want Americans to understand that an Islamist terrorist group had just killed an American ambassador and three other Americans. That would have deflated the Obama triumphalism that asserted killing Osama Bin Laden had ended the terrorist threat.

Given Obama’s willingness to corrupt the Justice Department and the intelligence community, it is little wonder that Clinton deleted 33,000 emails and had her staff destroy her hard drive with a hammer. She knew she was never going to be prosecuted. The fix was in. In the post-Obama world, Democrats do not get prosecuted, and Republicans do not get protected. The sickness has become more institutional than personal. There are entire networks of people willing to lie for the Left and against the rest of us.

An Example of Corruption: The Biden Laptop Story

Consider the remarkable story of the Hunter Biden laptop. On Oct. 14, 2020, the New York Post broke the story about the laptop and its amazing revelations about international business deals and corrupt personal behavior on a grand scale. Within hours, the social media giants — advised by the FBI that the story might be a Russian disinformation effort — blocked the nation’s oldest and fourth-largest newspaper from being seen on the internet.

With a presidential debate coming up, the collective advocates of the left went to work. Within five days of the Post story, on Oct. 19, 2020, Antony Blinken (now secretary of state) got 51 former intelligence officials to sign a letter saying — with no evidence — that the Hunter Biden laptop was probably Russian disinformation.

During the presidential debate three days later, Joe Biden smugly said:

Look, there are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what this, he’s accusing me of is a Russian plan. They have said that this has all the characteristics — four/five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except him and his good friend Rudy Giuliani.

What could have been a devastating disclosure about the Biden family’s corrupt behavior was turned into a non-event through censorship and lying. Even as president, how could Trump successfully discredit 51 intelligence officials in the middle of a debate — especially when most Americans did not know what he was talking about because the laptop story had been censored and suppressed?

And make no mistake: The laptop story would have made an impact. According to pollster John McLaughlin, “36% of Biden’s voters were not aware of Hunter’s laptop and if they had been, enough Biden voters would have left Biden so that Trump would have won AZ, GA, PA and WI.”

The Obama-created weaponized system had survived the Trump presidency. Within a few days, it could develop and validate a complete lie with professional legitimacy committed to defeating Trump and electing Biden.

On the Edge of the Totalitarian Takeover

The more you study these various events, the more you realize that there are entire systems and cultures of dedicated totalitarians who recognize that a Trump presidency could be a disaster for their worldview. 

Their hatred and fear of Donald Trump is not a function of his personality or his tweets. They would hate and fear any candidate who was serious about disrupting the patterns of institutional corruption, coercion, and power. They would be equally offended by anyone who stood for a color-blind America or recognized two definable sexes. They would despise anyone who thought America was a good country (which, coincidentally, includes 88 percent of Americans).

Once you accept that we are dealing with much more than a few corrupt people, you begin asking a lot of questions. Why is the hatred so intense? Why do they think they can get away with blatant corruption? Why do they have contempt for the rule of law and relish the rule of power? Why are they so willing to coerce their fellow Americans to change their deeply held beliefs?

If you simply Google “the totalitarian impulse,” you will be stunned at the number of sophisticated, intelligent people who have been writing about it. There is a clear and growing understanding among many smart people that we are on the edge of a totalitarian takeover of our culture, institutions, and lives. It really is the greatest crisis of our constitutional system, individual liberty, and the rule of law that we have faced in 160 years.

I am writing this series about the weaponization of government and American despotism because I realized that the story is so complex, has such a long development time, and involves so many people that a clear narrative must be developed. The more you study modern American government, the more you realize that totalitarian efforts are all around us — and they have been winning on many fronts.

The Alinskyian Roots of American Totalitarianism

Behind the movement is a powerful belief system that opposes the American system of constitutional law. It is hostile to American history and patriotic pride, contemptuous of the American people, and dedicated to seizing power through any means. 

The historic roots of this American despotism can be found in the French Revolution. That movement held a passion for uprooting and replacing everything (including the calendar). Its roots can also be found in Leninism and its effort to create a New Soviet Man to replace the failed types of personalities that it found occupying Russia before the revolution. The origins of rising totalitarianism can also be found in Maoism and its mass brainwashing, enforced conformity, groupthink, and the need to purge yourself of sins by confessing in front of the community.

However, there is also a powerful American source for this totalitarian drive to remake America. That drive can be found in the writings and teachings of Saul Alinsky. Obama and Clinton were both students of Alinsky or his disciples. 

Obama’s first job in Chicago was with an Alinsky institution. He learned how to be a neighborhood organizer from the Alinsky disciples. This was so alien to our way of thinking that, in 2008, only Sean Hannity understood how deeply radical Obama was. The rest of us translated neighborhood organizer into something like a Boys and Girls Club worker. I am embarrassed to admit that even though I had studied all the major modern revolutions — and had read Alinsky — the concept of an Alinsky disciple pretending to be a pleasant, harmless, normal politician was too wild for me to grasp at the time.

Clinton knew Alinsky. She met with him and wrote her senior thesis about him. She agreed with his aims but thought his strategies were impractical. She wanted to change America from within — not by agitating from without.

Biden was just a lucky local politician from a small state. He was only a moderate Democrat when he got elected to the Senate at 29 years old in 1972. He was not particularly intellectual, but he was a chameleon. As the Democratic Party moved to the left, so did he. He also understood from watching Clinton and others that you could be corrupt — the Obama-politicized Justice Department would never bother you. He saw his chance, and he took it.

The Biden investigation will inevitably grow until all the horrors of the corruption, government weaponization, and destruction of the rule of law become known to the American people.

However, it is vital we understand that the Biden family corruption is a small piece of the larger crisis of our constitutional system. We are faced with a totalitarian cancer that will have to be confronted and defeated at every level. The Bidens’ corruption is merely a symptom.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/07/2023 - 16:20
Published:9/7/2023 3:33:57 PM
[Markets] The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Extinction Itself The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Extinction Itself

Authored by James George Jatras

A version of this presentation was given to the Ron Paul Institute's Scholars Seminar on Sept. 1st in Washington, DC.

Today it’s hard for anyone under the age of 50 to appreciate how genuine and pervasive was fear of a nuclear holocaust during the Cold War between the US- and Soviet-led blocs.

Books, movies, and TV both reflected and stoked popular anxiety about the possible “end of civilization as we know it.” The heyday for this was in the 1950s and 1960s, with books like The Long Tomorrow(1955) and On the Beach (1957, with a 1959 film adaptation), and films like Fail Safe, Seven Days in May, Dr. Strangelove (all in 1964, while the real-life scare of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was fresh in people’s minds).

There appeared to be a bit of a lull during the 1970s era of US-Soviet détente under Nixon, Ford, and Carter, perhaps also reflecting elite sympathy for socialism and an expected future convergence between the ideological groupings, which on a basic level shared the same globalist, materialist values. But nuclear terror returned with a vengeance in the 1980s – for example, The Day After (1983) and the animated When the Wind Blows (1986). And who can forget (certainly no male person!) the delightful Nena’s 1983 music video Neunundneunzig Luftballons.

The Left, both in the United States and worldwide, was unanimous that Ronald Reagan, a self-confessed anti-communist, was a reckless cowboy who wanted to blow up the planet. As that great philosopher, Sting, put it in his 1985 song, “The Russians”:

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the president?
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe anymore
Mister Reagan says, "We will protect you"
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

The irony is that Reagan’s own views were hardly different from the ones the song sought to promote. As he stated jointly with Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev that very same year, 1985: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” a view that prevailed until the USSR imploded just a few years later.

We live in a very different world now, where the prospect of nuclear annihilation barely registers with anyone.

Just as big earthquakes are often preceded by foreshocks, major wars are frequently heralded by smaller conflicts. Before World War One: the Franco-German Morocco crises (1906 and 1911), the Italo-Turkish War (1911-12), the two Balkan Wars (1912, 1913). Before World War Two: the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-37) and, the most famous pre-conflagration rumble of them all, the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

Today, we are looking at a possible regional war in West Africa, centering on American and French demands that “democracy” be restored in Niger. (As one Indian publication put it, “Death follows Victoria Nuland”) Then, of course, there’s China/Taiwan.

But the obvious Spanish Civil War-rank conflict of the moment is Ukraine.

I don’t think we need to go into all the details of how we got here, but just in brief:

  • Relentless NATO expansion after 1991;
  • The 2014 US- and EU-backed coup that overthrew Victor Yanukovich, followed by the Russian annexation of Crimea and the new Kiev regime’s launch of a war to repress rebellions in the Russian-speaking east and south of the country;
  • The 2015 Minsk agreements, which provided for Ukraine’s neutrality and decentralization, and for reintegration of the rebellious areas with protections of their language and culture – agreements that both Ukrainian and European former officials have admitted they never intended to implement, seeing them only as a delaying ruse for building up a force capable of conquering the Donbas;
  • A relentless program of Ukraine’s NATO-ization in all but name under Obama, Trump, and Biden; and
  • Washington’s peremptory rejection of Moscow’s 2021 ultimata to the United States and NATO to resolve the conflict diplomatically, with the hope that Russia, baited into an incursion into Ukraine, would be bled white in an Afghanistan-style insurgency and by crushing sanctions that would “turn the ruble into rubble,” pancake Russia’s economy, and lead to regime change in Moscow.

Oops. Russia’s expected ruin didn’t happen. Even the mainstream media cheerleaders of only a fortnight ago now admit that Ukraine is losing, assigning the blame not to the geniuses that thought up this strategy (if it can be called that) but to Ukraine’s being too “casualty averse” – even as that country is turning into one vast graveyard. There’s speculation that some in Washington and other western capitals are seeking an “off-ramp” – if for no other reason than the need to focus on the really big show, a looming war with China. Some suggest that in the end, we’ll just walk away, consigning Ukraine to the Memory Hole along with Afghanistan. All that’s left then is for GOP neocons to whine that the Biden Administration was too stingy with their aid and “lost Ukraine” while they gear up for the main event in the western Pacific.

Personally, I don’t think that will happen. Nobody cares about Afghanistan but the Afghans, but if Washington walks away from Ukraine it’s effectively conceding that the US, through NATO, no longer is the security hegemon of Europe. That means the effective end of NATO, in fact if not in name; and where NATO goes, its concubine, the European Union, won’t be far behind.

More to the point, though, the notion that this will soon end with a whimper misses the whole point. None of this is really about Ukraine, which is just an expendable tool to hurt Russia. (Maybe the Poles or Lithuanians or Romanians are eager to volunteer for the job once we’re fresh out of Ukrainians.) Ukraine is just a variable; the constant is Ruthenia delenda est. Russia must be destroyed.

Gilbert Doctorow, a noted observer of Russian affairs, likens the current situation to that of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign depicted by Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace. Today as then, what happens next will be less due to this or that policymaker making this or that bad decision. Rather, “the precondition for war is the near universal acceptance of the logic of the coming war.”

What is that logic today? It’s simple: the ruling circles in the United States (needless to add, with their sock puppets in western capitals) are utterly, unselfconsciously convinced that they are the living embodiment of all virtue, truth, and progress in what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described as the “replication of the experience of Bolshevism and Trotskyism” – to cite Reagan, morphing ourselves into a new Evil Empire in place of the old one. As neocon kingpins William Kristol and Robert Kagan put it in their 1996 manifesto, the policy of the United States in the coming era must be one of “benevolent global hegemony” intended to last – well, forever. Its moral content is exemplified, on the one hand, by US support for subjugation of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and, on the other, the spectacle of a transgender US serviceperson acting as a PR official for the Ukrainian military declaring that “we’re human,” and the Russians “most definitely aren’t.”

As I like to say: there’s no Transatlanticism without transgenderism.

Unsurprisingly, regarding their alleged lack of human-ness, the Russians disagree. But who cares what they think? Our leaders see not only Putin but Russians in general as an obstacle to the radiant future, where every knee will bow before the sacred rainbow flag.

Sun Tzu says “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” The Russians more or less know themselves. They kind of know us, but not as well as they think they do, with rather a tendency to project normalcy onto fundamentally abnormal people. On the other hand, our rulers – dangerous people whose levels of arrogance and ignorance defies description: monkeys with nuclear hand grenades – know neither themselves nor the Russians.

On top of that, as Doctorow further observes, the mechanisms that lent some stability and restraint to the US-Soviet standoff are now all but gone, rendering the once-“unthinkable” of the 1950s’ nuke horror films all-too-thinkable today:

‘… no one wants war, neither Washington nor Moscow. However, the step-by-step dismantling of the channels of communication, of the symbolic projects for cooperation across a wide array of domains, and now dismantling of all the arms limitation agreements that took decades to negotiate and ratify, plus the incoming new weapons systems that leave both sides with under 10 minutes to decide how to respond to alarms of incoming missiles—all of this prepares the way for the Accident to end all Accidents.  Such false alarms occurred in the Cold War but some slight measure of mutual trust prompted restraint. That is all gone now and if something goes awry, we are all dead ducks.’

“No one wants war.” A similar thought was expressed by Hermann Göring, when he was on trial at Nuremberg:

Of course the people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. … But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

So I guess Doctorow is a bit off the mark in suggesting that “no one wants war.” Clearly, somebody wants war. A lot of very important “somebodies” wanted this war in Ukraine. They wanted war in the Balkans in the 1990s. They wanted war in Afghanistan, Iraq (twice!), Libya, Yemen, Syria, and a dozen places in Africa where we have almost no idea what’s going on.

“All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked…” I can’t help but think of the meme with two blank-face NPCs, one wearing a pink knit hat mindlessly repeating “Russia! Russia! Russia!,” the other with a red MAGA hat chanting “China! China! China!” Between them is the seal of the CIA with the eagle saying, “Yes, yes, my pretties. That’s it. That’s it.”

Here we are, 60 years after the fact, with the growing recognition by even the most spoon-fed normies that the CIA had something to do with the assassination of Jack Kennedy. In fact, we have here today perhaps the foremost authority on the topic, Mr. Jacob Hornberger. Yet doubting our rulers’ truthiness still is treated as a thought crime. A little while ago, Vivek Ramaswamy was the target of a media hate fest for (in the words of The New Republic) “spout[ing] conspiracy theories about January 6 and 9/11.” Oh no! “Conspiracy theories”! (Or, as they are known when they turn out to be true, “spoiler alerts.”) The heretic Ramaswamy evidently believes – shocking as this sounds – that our government has not been entirely honest about these matters. He must be a dupe for the Russians! Or for the Chinese! – which The New Republic also implies.

You may have heard some people compare the “lawfare” being directed against Donald Trump, with the evident aim of eliminating the likely opponent next year of the desiccated-husk-of-Hunter-Biden’s-dad (assuming ol’ Joe will be the Democratic nominee, which I don’t), to the behavior of a banana republic. This is a gratuitous insult to the friendly spider-infested nations to our south!

I recently suggested to a sober observer of public affairs that the strategic goal is keeping Trump off the ballot in one or more must-win states for him, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, to which he responded: “That’s a recipe for civil war.” (I tried to imagine what Republicans taking to the streets would look like. A mob of decrepit Boomers rolling their motorized wheelchairs down to the corner and burning down the post office?) Anyway, taking him out via lawfare seems to be Plan A. If that fails – well, Plan B would get us into Mr. Hornberger’s area of expertise.

The term “cold” civil war, a war that might possibly turn “hot,” has become a commonplace in American discourse. So has the expression “national divorce.” In 1861 Americans both North and South worshipped the same God, read the same Bible, honored the same Founding Fathers, claimed fidelity to the same Constitution. In today’s America, we can’t even agree on our pronouns or on what a “woman” is, much less on what it means to be an American. We are moral aliens to one another, indeed enemies. What actually holds the former American republic together? “Muh Constitution”? “Muh democracy”?

Keep in mind, we’re not talking about a mere political crisis that will get solved in an election or two. Not even about political and constitutional collapse, or even a financial and economic calamity – that’s coming too, in part because of the impact of the Ukraine war on the dollar-denominated global system – but a fundamental challenge to the social fabric itself, and not just in the United States.

A watershed was passed with covid and the measures – the lockdowns, the masks, social distancing and monitoring, the clot shot, censorship of dissent, all combined with a pervasive, inescapable external and internal panopticon: as the troubadour of transhumanism Yuval Harari writes, “we are seeing a change in the nature of surveillance from over the skin surveillance to under the skin surveillance” – supposedly intended to deal with a virus, accomplishing within a few short months what decades of climate hysteria could not, summed up under the moniker “the Great Reset” and its ubiquitous slogan “Build Back Better.”’

Taken together what we’re experiencing has all the appearance of a controlled demolition of all established human interactions in anticipation of their replacement by something we are assured by our betters will be an improvement. The contours of the “new normal” in the post-American America hurtling in our direction have already become so familiar as to need little elaboration:

  • Infringement of traditional liberties based on “keeping us safe”;
  • “Cancel culture”;
  • Blurring of the lines between Big Government, Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Data, etc., amounting to corporate state capture; and, not directly based on supposed anti-virus measures but closely tracking with them,
  • Joint government and corporate promulgation of socially destructive, historically counterfeit ideologies (“intersectionality,” LGBTQI+++, feminism, multiculturalism, “critical race theory,”), with principal targeting of children subject to sexualization and predation by those expressing what were once quaintly known as abnormal appetites and identities.

These so-called “values” – which, remember, are effectively the official ideology of the West, which we seek “benevolently” to impose on the rest of the world, by force if necessary – in turn accelerate longstanding trends towards infertility and demographic collapse pointing to thinning the human herd and replacement via post-human society, transhumanism, and bio-engineering. This is not just “political” but a strike at the heart of human existence: the spiritual, moral, and even biological basis for marriage, family formation, and production of the next generation. In a word: depopulation.

A few years ago, His Royal Highness, the late Prince Philip of the United Kingdom, perhaps half in jest delivered this thigh-slapper: “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation.” Some of you may have heard of groups like Extinction Rebellion and BirthStrike: “Are you terrified about the future that lies ahead for contemporary and future youth? Do you want to maximize your positive impact on the Climate Change Crisis? You can protect children while fighting climate change and systematic corruption by refusing to procreate!” Makes perfect sense: preserve a better planet for future generations by eliminating future generations. It reminds me of Otto von Bismarck’s comparing the idea of preventive war to committing suicide out of fear of death. (That’s not as abstract as it might sound. Recently a young woman in Canada seeking help for depression and suicidal ideation was advised by hospital staff that she might be interested in their tried and Trudeau-ed “Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID)” euthanasia program. Tempted to kill yourself? Let us help you!) 

But why stop at half measures? The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, VHEMT (pronounced “vehement,” according to their website): “We’re the only species evolved enough to consciously go extinct for the good of all life, or which needs to. Success would be humanity’s crowning achievement. May we live long and die out.”

Maybe they’re on to something! In his landmark work The Socialist Phenomenon, the late Russian mathematician and student of history Igor Shafarevich took note of what he believed is a collective human death impulse:

The idea of the death of mankind—not the death of specific people but literally the end of the human race—evokes a response in the human psyche. It arouses and attracts people, albeit with differing intensity in different epochs and in different individuals. The scope of influence of this idea causes us to suppose that every individual is affected by it to a greater or lesser degree and that it is a universal trait of the human psyche.

This idea is not only manifested in the individual experience of a great number of specific persons, but is also capable of uniting people (in contrast to delirium, for example) i.e., it is a social force. The impulse toward self-destruction may be regarded as an element in the psyche of mankind as a whole. [ … ]

In the Freudian view (first expressed in the article “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”), the human psyche can be reduced to a manifestation of two main instincts: the life instinct or Eros and the death instinct or Thanatos (or the Nirvana principle). Both are general biological categories, fundamental properties of living things in general. The death instinct is a manifestation of general “inertia” or a tendency of organic life to return to a more elementary state from which it had been aroused by an external disturbing force. [“Dust thou art, unto dust shalt thou return.”] The role of the life instinct is essentially to prevent a living organism from returning to the inorganic state by any path other than that which is immanent in it.

Marcuse [Shafarevich refers here to Herbert Marcuse, theorist of the Frankfurt School, known for his adaptation of the theory of class conflict in classical Marxism to other social divides, notably in the area of sex, setting the stage for “intersectionality”] introduces a greater social factor into this scheme, asserting that the death instinct expresses itself in the desire to be liberated from tension, as an attempt to rid oneself of the suffering and discontent which are specifically engendered by social factors.

With the failure of the Ukrainian offensive, Moscow now faces a dilemma. Do they move decisively to impose a military solution that ends the war, or do they continue to show restraint in the hopes that somebody, somewhere – Kiev, Washington, London, Brussels – decides it’s time to sue for peace? Keen not to take a precipitous step that might bring about a direct clash of NATO and Russian forces, so far they’ve opted for the latter – I repeat: so far.

The West faces its own dilemma. Do our rulers concede defeat, which effectively means the end of the Global American Empire (the GAE)? Or do they drag things out as long as possible, hoping Moscow will fall for another Minsk-type ceasefire, with the Kremlin playing the part of Charlie Brown taking another run at kicking the football, having been promised that this time we’ll keep our word? Or, mistaking Russian restraint for weakness, do they push the envelope by inserting a “coalition of the willing” into western Ukraine, challenging Russian naval forces in the Black Sea, encouraging and equipping the Ukrainians to step up attacks on Moscow and other Russian cities, staging some sort of false flag of the type that has proved so effective in other conflicts? In other words, do we double down? That’s in addition to opening up other asymmetrical theaters in the Balkans, Syria, Iran, the Taiwan Strait, and elsewhere.

In mistakenly projecting a rational actor mentality onto their opponents, the Russians seem to be acutely aware of the legitimate concern that decisive military action on the ground could panic NATO and trigger an uncontrolled escalation. They seem oblivious to the contrary concern, that, by holding back and waiting for a reasonable dialogue that will never take place, they are in effect encouraging their adversary to stage one reckless provocation after another – in the sustained belief that some deus ex machina can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat – resulting in the very uncontrolled escalation that Moscow seeks to avoid.

Even these speculations assume that the miserable specimens of humanity calling the shots in Western capitals would only risk a direct conflict but would not deliberately choose it. But is that assumption correct? As Doctorow notes, the old Cold War restraints have broken down. Maybe demonstration of a teeny-tiny, low-yield nuke is just the thing to show that non-human Vladof Putler that the GAE is serious!

What could possibly go wrong?

Recently on his podcast Judge Andrew Napolitano showed part of a computer simulation of a US-Russia nuclear exchange in which the initial toll on the US population was only (“only”!) about nine percent, while on Russia it was around 62 percent. (Given that Russia has more warheads than we do, I don’t know how they came up with that, but I didn’t conduct the simulation.)  Is it so impossible that somewhere, somebody might look at those data and decide it’s a tolerable tradeoff? (Later on, the simulation has pretty much everyone on earth starving to death from nuclear winter, with agriculture in the northern hemisphere unviable for several years. Now there’s a way to resolve both global warming and supposed overpopulation with one stroke! Hey, VHEMT, have we got a concept for you!)

Whether or not these dolts manage to kill us all, either by deliberate action or through sheer incompetence, it’s hard to escape the notion that we are approaching the edge of some profound historical moment that will have far-reaching, literally life and death consequences, both domestically and internationally. In the period preceding World War I how many Europeans suspected that their lives would soon be forever changed—and, for millions of them, ended? Who in the years, say, 1910 to 1913, could have imagined that the decades of peace, progress, and civilization in which they had grown up, and which seemingly would continue indefinitely, instead would soon descend into a horror of industrial-scale slaughter, revolution, and brutal ideologies?

Which brings us to my parting admonitions to your predecessors in this seminar, which I see no need to change:

My young friends, the impact any one of us can expect to have in the face of world-historic trends before which the fates of nations and empires fly like leaves in the autumn winds is vanishingly small. Already baked into the cake will be, I believe, hardships for you that we’ve become accustomed to think only happen to “other people” in “other countries” far away, not seen here since the Revolution and the Civil War, or maybe in isolated instances during the Great Depression: financial and economic disruption and, in some places, especially in urban areas, collapse; supply chains, utilities, and other aspects of basic infrastructure ceasing to function (what happens in major cities when food deliveries stop for a week?), even widespread hunger; rising levels of violence, both criminality and civil strife. These will be combined, paradoxically, with the remaining organs of authority, however discredited, desperately cracking down on the enemy within – no, not on murderers, robbers, and rapists, but on “science deniers,” “religious fanatics,” “haters,” “conspiracy theorists,” “insurrectionists,” “gun nuts,” “purveyors of “medical misinformation,” Russian or Chinese “stooges,” and, of course, “racists,” “sexists,” “homophobes,” and so forth. It’s the late Samuel Francis’ “anarcho-tyranny” nightmare come to life with a vengeance.

Nevertheless, for what it is worth, I put before you three practical tasks for your consideration.

Firstly, be vigilant against deception, in a day when assuredly evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. Admittedly, this is a tough one, given the ever-present lying that surrounds us and the suppression of dissent. Try to sift truth from falsehood but don’t become obsessed because, in many cases, you won’t be able to be sure anyway. Focus most on what’s proximate to you and on the people most important to you. … Be skeptical – about everyone. … There may be a cost. As Solzhenitsyn said, “He who chooses the lie as his principle inevitably chooses violence as his method.”

Secondly, as stewards of every worldly charge placed on us by God and by other people—as fathers and mothers, as husbands and wives, as sons and daughters, as neighbors, as students, as workers, as citizens, as patriots—we must prudently care for those to whom we have a duty within the limited power and wisdom allotted to us. Start with yourselves. Be as self-sufficient as possible. Get involved in your community; that leftist slogan is actually a good one: think globally, act locally. Befriend your neighbors. Learn a real skill – electricity, plumbing, carpentry. Farm! Don’t go to law school, for goodness’ sake. Get in shape. Eat and sleep right. Have plenty of the essentials: food, fuel, gold, ammunition. Learn to shoot. Limit computer and phone time. Experience nature. Cultivate healthy personal relationships – real ones, not virtual ones. Marry young, have kids, lots of them – especially women, don’t get seduced by all that “career” nonsense. Nobody on his or her deathbed ever said, “Gosh, I wish I’d spent more time at the office.” Read old books. Cultivate virtue. Go to church.

Simply being what used to be considered normal and leading a productive life is becoming the most revolutionary act one can perform. With that in mind, find the strength to be revolutionaries indeed! In the face of the culture of death and extinction, choose to affirm life.

You’ve seen the meme: Hard times create strong men; Strong men create good times; Good times create weak men; Weak men create hard times. Well, take it from the weakling Boomer generation that brought them to you: the hard times, they is a-coming. But they won’t last forever. If you live through them – and some of you will not – we’ll see what possibilities, as of now literally unimaginable, might then exist. But you will need to be personally fit to take advantage of them. You will also need to be part of some kind of sustainable community of likeminded people.

Thirdly, for those of you who are believers, particularly Christians, we must pray without ceasing, firm in faith that, through whatever hardships may lie ahead, even the very hairs of our head are all numbered, and the final triumph of Truth is never in doubt.

Thank you, and good luck. You’re going to need it.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/06/2023 - 23:45
Published:9/6/2023 10:50:39 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:9/6/2023 7:10:48 AM
[Markets] The Global War On Thought Crime The Global War On Thought Crime

Authored by David James via The Brownstone Institute,

Laws to ban disinformation and misinformation are being introduced across the West, with the partial exception being the US, which has the First Amendment so the techniques to censor have had to be more clandestine.

In Europe, the UK, and Australia, where free speech is not as overtly protected, governments have legislated directly.

The EU Commission is now applying the ‘Digital Services Act’ (DSA), a thinly disguised censorship law. 

In Australia the government is seeking to provide the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with “new powers to hold digital platforms to account and improve efforts to combat harmful misinformation and disinformation.”

One effective response to these oppressive laws may come from a surprising source: literary criticism. The words being used, which are prefixes added to the word “information,” are a sly misdirection. Information, whether in a book, article or post is a passive artefact. It cannot do anything, so it cannot break a law. The Nazis burned books, but they didn’t arrest them and put them in jail. So when legislators seek to ban “disinformation,” they cannot mean the information itself. Rather, they are targeting the creation of meaning. 

The authorities use variants of the word “information” to create the impression that what is at issue is objective truth but that is not the focus. Do these laws, for example, apply to the forecasts of economists or financial analysts, who routinely make predictions that are wrong? Of course not. Yet economic or financial forecasts, if believed, could be quite harmful to people.

The laws are instead designed to attack the intent of the writers to create meanings that are not congruent with the governments’ official position. ‘Disinformation’ is defined in dictionaries as information that is intended to mislead and to cause harm. ‘Misinformation’ has no such intent and is just an error, but even then that means determining what is in the author’s mind. ‘Mal-information’ is considered to be something that is true, but that there is an intention to cause harm.

Determining a writer’s intent is extremely problematic because we cannot get into another person’s mind; we can only speculate on the basis of their behaviour. That is largely why in literary criticism there is a notion called the Intentional Fallacy, which says that the meaning of a text cannot be limited to the intention of the author, nor is it possible to know definitively what that intention is from the work. The meanings derived from Shakespeare’s works, for example, are so multifarious that many of them cannot possibly have been in the Bard’s mind when he wrote the plays 400 years ago. 

How do we know, for example, that there is no irony, double meaning, pretence or other artifice in a social media post or article? My former supervisor, a world expert on irony, used to walk around the university campus wearing a T-shirt saying: “How do you know I am being ironic?” The point was that you can never know what is actually in a person’s mind, which is why intent is so difficult to prove in a court of law.

That is the first problem.

The second one is that, if the creation of meaning is the target of the proposed law – to proscribe meanings considered unacceptable by the authorities – how do we know what meaning the recipients will get? A literary theory, broadly under the umbrella term ‘deconstructionism,’ claims that there are as many meanings from a text as there are readers and that “the author is dead.” 

While this is an exaggeration, it is indisputable that different readers get different meanings from the same texts. Some people reading this article, for example, might be persuaded while others might consider it evidence of a sinister agenda. As a career journalist I have always been shocked at the variability of reader’s responses to even the most simple of articles. Glance at the comments on social media posts and you will see an extreme array of views, ranging from positive to intense hostility.

To state the obvious, we all think for ourselves and inevitably form different views, and see different meanings. Anti-disinformation legislation, which is justified as protecting people from bad influences for the common good, is not merely patronising and infantilising, it treats citizens as mere machines ingesting data – robots, not humans. That is simply wrong.

Governments often make incorrect claims, and made many during Covid. 

In Australia the authorities said lockdowns would only last a few weeks to “flatten the curve.” In the event they were imposed for over a year and there never was a “curve.” According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020 and 2021 had the lowest levels of deaths from respiratory illness since records have been kept.

Governments will not apply the same standards to themselves, though, because governments always intend well (that comment may or may not be intended to be ironic; I leave it up to the reader to decide). 

There is reason to think these laws will fail to achieve the desired result. The censorship regimes have a quantitative bias. They operate on the assumption that if a sufficient proportion of social media and other types of “information” is skewed towards pushing state propaganda, then the audience will inevitably be persuaded to believe the authorities. 

But what is at issue is meaning, not the amount of messaging. Repetitious expressions of the government’s preferred narrative, especially ad hominem attacks like accusing anyone asking questions of being a conspiracy theorist, eventually become meaningless.

By contrast just one well-researched and well-argued post or article can permanently persuade readers to an anti-government view because it is more meaningful. I can recall reading pieces about Covid, including on Brownstone, that led inexorably to the conclusion that the authorities were lying and that something was very wrong. As a consequence the voluminous, mass media coverage supporting the government line just appeared to be meaningless noise. It was only of interest in exposing how the authorities were trying to manipulate the “narrative” – a debased word was once mainly used in a literary context – to cover their malfeasance. 

In their push to cancel unapproved content, out-of-control governments are seeking to penalise what George Orwell called “thought crimes.”

But they will never be able to truly stop people thinking for themselves, nor will they ever definitively know either the writer’s intent or what meaning people will ultimately derive.

It is bad law, and it will eventually fail because it is, in itself, predicated on disinformation.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/05/2023 - 23:40
Published:9/5/2023 10:48:42 PM
[Markets] Oklahoma School Hires Drag Queen Principal Once Arrested For Child Porn, Drugs Oklahoma School Hires Drag Queen Principal Once Arrested For Child Porn, Drugs

Authored by Debra Heine via American Greatness,

A “drag” performer arrested 22 years ago for possessing both child pornography and illicit drugs has been hired to be the school principal of an Oklahoma City elementary school, and the school district is defending its decision.

Dr. Shane Brent Murnan, 52, the new elementary school principal at John Glenn Elementary, had his personal devices confiscated by police in 2001 on suspicion of possession of child pornography, V1SUT reported on Substack. Almost 20 years later, he was investigated for another crime, according to a 2020 court filing.

Police arrested the then-30-year-old in August 2001 after a Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) search recovered four deleted images of children engaged in sex acts, according to court records. Police also found 6 grams of marijuana in his home. Murnan, at the time, was a fifth-grade teacher at Stillwater’s Will Rogers Elementary School. After the arrest, school officials suspended Murnan and he resigned in May 2002.

“From there, some unexplainable legal wrangling began in which Payne County Special Judge Phillip Corley ruled that prosecutors had not proven Murnan had possessed child pornography, claiming it could not be definitively proven the children in the photos were underage,” V1SUT reported.

Payne County prosecutors appealed Corley’s decision and prevailed in the Payne County Appeals Court.

In direct contradiction to the earlier ruling, Appeals Court Judge Dave Allen stated in his decision: “It is clear from a review of the pictures that they do represent child pornography”.

Later on, however, Payne County District Judge Donald L. Worthington reversed the reversal, dismissing the child porn charge.

Payne County prosecutors gave up, choosing not to appeal. In the end, it appears there was never any disagreement about the existence of the pornographic photos on Murnan’s computer, yet the charge was dropped. Was this a behind-the-scenes plea agreement to allow Murnan to accept only the drug charge (marijuana) and retain his teaching certificate?

Murnan’s record was expunged in October of 2003 after his short probation period on the drug charge. He spent the next several years creating his “Shantel Mandalay” persona and entering crossdressing pageants such as Miss Gay Oklahoma, V1SUT reported.

Last April, he posted a picture of himself dressed like the Easter Bunny on his “Shantel Mandalay” Facebook page with a message about his previous bad choices and the joys of being an educator.

On his drag queen Facebook page, Murnan posts many pictures of himself in and out of drag cavorting with other drag queens and young homosexuals at drag events and in gay bars.

“When my little sister wants a present for her birthday, I do my best to make it happen,” Murnan wrote in the caption for the picture below.

From 2007-2015, Murnan was back in the classroom, teaching at a small elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma, V1SUT reported. From there, he moved to the much larger Oklahoma City Public Schools district as teacher, teacher trainer/instructional coach, and eventually assistant principal at Prairie Queen Elementary School.

Prairie Queen is an underperforming school that serves a population that is 82.3 percent Hispanic and 96.5 percent economically disadvantaged. Most parents speak limited English and 69 percent of students are English language learners. These are vulnerable kids.

In 2018, Murnan reportedly cofounded Oklahoma City Drag Queen Story Hour, Inc. and began promoting the child-grooming library events throughout the state.

The organization teamed with the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System during the COVID pandemic and Murnan’s Shantel Mandalay persona was featured online reading to a target audience of young  children through the library’s Facebook events.

In September of 2020, during Murnan’s time at Prairie Queen Elementary School, the state entered a Criminal Probable Cause Initial Filing for an undisclosed crime with Murnan as the defendant. That case was assigned to Judge Kevin C. McCray.

Now, three years later, the Oklahoma City Public Schools district hired Murnan to be in charge of John Glenn Elementary School in the Western Heights School District (WHSD) in the southwest part of the OKC metro area.

The district of approximately 2,750 students has been in turmoil since 2021 when the state temporarily took over due to years of financial mismanagement and noncompliance. To simplify, the district gets a lot of funds, spends significantly more than the state average and continues to fail children.

The student population at John Glenn Elementary School is “majority Hispanic, English language learners and overwhelmingly economically disadvantaged,” according to V1SUT.

In a letter to the school’s parents, Brayden Savage, superintendent of Western Heights Public Schools, addressed the district’s controversial hiring decision.

“I am writing to address a concern you may read about on social media,”  Savage wrote in the letter obtained by the Daily Caller. “We understand the situation may cause concerns and questions among parents, staff, and community members.”

According to news reports at the time, those charges were dismissed by the court, and the record of the charges has been expunged,” the letter continues. “Since that time, Dr. Murnan has continued to be certified as an elementary school teacher and principal, including having his certificate renewed in April of 2023 and signed by State Superintendent Ryan Walters. The State Department of Education would have conducted another felony background check upon renewing his certification.”

Savage said that at the time of “recommendation,” the district gave its school board “all of the information” it had regarding Murnan and the board then voted to approve his hiring.

He told parents that the district followed “usual hiring practices” in vetting Murnan, checking references and conducting a felony criminal background check.

Please know we are aware of the situation and handling this matter with the utmost attention and care,” Savage wrote.

In a statement to Crisis in the Classroom (CITC) Thursday, the Oklahoma State Department of Education said “anything that might expose kids to inappropriate sexual content at school is cause for serious concern to parents,” and that the department is “looking into all accusations and will take any necessary action to protect kids.”

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters issued a strong statement on X Friday condemning WHSD’s hiring of Murnan.

This is completely unacceptable,” Walters said. “We know that radical gender theory has been a direct assault on our kids and we can’t allow this in our schools.”

The superintendent said school districts need to do a better job vetting educators to make sure they reflect “Oklahoma values.”

“No one want’s to send their kid to school knowing that they could be exposed to this radical gender theory in any capacity,” he added. “This woke war on our kids has to stop.”

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/03/2023 - 20:00
Published:9/3/2023 7:31:23 PM
[] Woke Editing Is Censorship, And Censorship Is An Attack On Free Speech, Which Is An Attack On ALL Of Our Freedoms This isn't a particularly elegant or impressive defense of artistic freedom from censorship, but the point Anderson is trying to make is valid; bowdlerized versions of anything....books or movies or paintings or speeches on soapboxes in the town square...are anathema... Published:9/3/2023 11:05:57 AM
[Markets] Why You Are Feeling So Much Poorer Why You Are Feeling So Much Poorer

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via The Epoch Times,

We are living through the largest pillaging of the American middle class in a half-century. It’s not in the headlines. This is extremely strange. In fact, this might be the first and only article you have read about it. This could be for a reason. If people knew what was happening to them, they would begin to feel very restless, even furious. Some people among the ruling class do not want that.

The Biden administration trumpets its economic achievements. It’s mind-boggling. Call it trolling. Call it gaslighting. Call it whatever you want but you know it is untrue.


Let’s look at the facts.

What do you spend money on month-to-month? It’s rent or your mortgage, food at home or out, utilities, and gas. Those are the basic categories. The Consumer Price Index includes far more than that, some items you do not purchase and some that are going up far less than others. So let’s look at government numbers on what you actually purchase; that is, the items and services that you consume that dominate part of your income. And let’s stretch that back three years.

Everything is going up and up and has been for three years. Looking at the items on which you actually spend money, we find increases between 18-plus percent to 22-plus percent. Let’s say we average it all out at 20 percent.

Now let’s look at real disposable income, which is income left over after expenses adjusted for inflation. That result is an increase of a pathetic 3 percent compared with three years ago. The stimulus payments felt great at the time but those are long gone, essentially a head fake. So your income demands are up 20 percent whereas your leftover cash is barely up at all. That’s essentially a disaster for your standard of living.

In short, you have been robbed.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

The causal reasons are many but mainly trace to the 43 percent increase in the money supply in the same period, which ate the value of the dollar with a lag. On top of that, supply chains broke, industry was consolidated, commercial freedom wrecked, and labor markets were forcibly disrupted.

Now, let’s compare this to what everyone recognizes as the great inflationary disaster of the postwar period, which is 1978 to 1982. These were the times when the Fed and government pillaged the public, drained away the value of savings and capital, and forced a reorganization of family life. At the end of this period, the average American household went from living off of one income—realizing the American dream—to having two incomes in the household. That happened in 1985 when two-income households became the norm.

At the time, this was called emancipation of women but, looking back, we can see that this was clearly propaganda to cover up an economic disaster. Gender discrimination in the workplace hasn’t really been a major issue for most of the 20th century. Back in the mid-1920s, if you look at unmarried women without children after the age of 18, the employment rate in the city was generally 80 percent. These women left the workforce upon marriage to focus on children and the household whereas the men bore the obligation of providing for the whole.

That was the way we lived until the great inflation. That’s what changed everything. After that, households had to have two incomes to live well instead of one, meaning that one partner had to go to the office rather than tend to the household or otherwise pursue the good life. That the ruling class was able to fob this off as some kind of new liberty (for women) is a tribute to the power of ideologically driven lies.

How do our times compare to then? Well, in three years, we’ve seen the value of the dollar fall 20 percent in terms of what you actually spend money on while income has barely gone up at all. During the great disaster of 43 years ago, this exact same phenomenon occurred over two years rather than three like our own times. In other words, the mass thievery in our times is taking place 50 percent slower than it happened last time. But it is happening nonetheless.

Is it any better if the bus rolls over you slowly or more quickly? It happens either way. That you lose 17 percent of your income in three years or two, what does it really matter? It is only valuable to our ruling-class masters in terms of the extent to which the public complains. A population pillaged slowly—like the frog boiling slowly—is very liable to complain a bit less. Still, the reality is the same.

The great inflation fundamentally changed life in America. We were never the same, economically or culturally. And that raises the real question: what is the current round of thievery going to do to this generation? I wish I had the answers. I don’t really know but we are seeing population-wide demoralization, ill-health, lack of ambition, substance abuse, and widespread despair. However this ends, it’s not going to be good.

Can this be turned around? Yes, but it won’t be easy. It will require massive changes in public administration the likes of which we’ve never experienced. No candidate for office at any level is prepared for what is necessary to reduce the debt, contain the Fed, defang the administrative bureaucracy, reduce the tax burden, and make the American dream affordable again. We are nowhere near speaking the truth at this point.

The emergency, however, is real. A people dealing with growing and relentless improvement, from powers out of their control, can be unpredictable. At a very minimum, it means more crime, more cultural anomie, more distrust, and growing anger. Some leader needs to channel this into a positive and constructive direction else we are doomed to suffer another round that will make the great inflation of the late 1970s look like a mere foreshadowing.

Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.
Tyler Durden Thu, 08/31/2023 - 21:00
Published:8/31/2023 8:14:42 PM
[Markets] : Here’s where UBS’s profit of $29 billion ranks Granted, it was more an accounting quirk rather than hard money entering its coffers, but UBS's $28.88 billion profit in the second quarter was one for the record books. Published:8/31/2023 5:05:49 AM
[Markets] An Important Lesson From Chicago On Confronting The Enemies Of Free Speech An Important Lesson From Chicago On Confronting The Enemies Of Free Speech

Submitted by Mark Glennon of Wirepoints

The modern left’s assault on free speech is perhaps the most terrifying element of the madness we have succumbed to for the simple reason that democracy is meaningless without it. The assault has been largely successful. Voices that should be heard are muzzled and, more insidiously, countless other voices are frightened into silence.

We see that suppression routinely. Too often, readers here tell us of being intimidated into silence by the cancel mob, a mob now controlling much of our government. The iron boot of government on one’s throat is no small matter: Fear of the cost of litigating against a government intent on suppressing free speech is particularly intimidating.

That intimidation must come to an end. Help is often available – a resource you should prize. A number of law firms specializing in free speech are now available, pro bono – free or at reduced cost. And they are winning, thanks to federal courts that still recognize the First Amendment right to free speech.

A Chicago company’s free speech case is an illustration.

Townstone Financial is a smallish, Chicago-based home mortgage originator. It marketed itself primarily through a weekly one-hour show on AM 560 called The Townstone Financial Show. They discussed issues of interest to homebuyers and offered advice to listeners and callers, sometimes getting into topics like crime, policing, movies and the like.

In 2020, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) sued Townstone claiming that the company violated a fair lending law by discriminating against African-Americans.

However, the CFPB never alleged any case of Townstone discriminating on mortgage applications.

Instead, the CFPB said Townstone discriminated through its marketing in its radio show by “discouraging” applications from Blacks. The CFPB’s evidence was a handful of comments on the show made over a four-year period representing perhaps 10 minutes of air time out of about 10,000 minutes.

Some of those comments might be regarded as offensive or in bad taste. They referred to a particular Jewel food store at Clark and Division Streets in Chicago as “Jungle Jewel” and included talk of certain Black areas having “hoodlum weekend” and approaching “a real war zone” or as “crazy” and places “to be driven through quickly” while avoiding eye contact.

But the CFPB did not produce even one example of anybody being discouraged from applying with Townstone. Nor, according to Townstone’s lawyers, has the company ever received any complaint about its show.

The comments from the show cited by the CFPB were taken out of context and meant little, Townstone believed. For example, the “Jungle Jewel” was commonly called that by people in the area, and referred to as such even by a Black blogger, who called it “a socioeconomic nightmare and a haven for street crazies.”

As Towntone’s lawyers later argued, if speech like Townstone’s is illegal, what wouldn’t violate the law? “Are creditors permitted to talk about crime at all? Education? Homelessness? Welfare? Poverty? Income distribution? Are they permitted to criticize the Black Lives Matter movement? Support the police? Criticize the Catholic Church about child abuse scandals? Support the BDS movement? Criticize the BDS movement? Support abortion rights? Oppose immigration?”

The lawsuit threatened to entirely destroy Townstone.

Its owner decided to fight.

But how do you fight against the government, which has unlimited resources?

Enter the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit with free speech expertise, which represented the company.

A federal court in Chicago threw out the CFPB’s lawsuit in February. However, the ruling was based mostly on the court’s conclusion that the CFPB had authority only to regulate actual discrimination in lending, not marketing conduct that might be deemed “discouraging.” The court therefore didn’t need to get to the First Amendment defense.

However, the CFPB has now appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, so the free speech defense is being raised again, and Townstone is getting still more help. Among the other firms filing amicus — friend of the court — briefs are Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, America’s Future, Free Speech Coalition, Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, U.S. Constitutional Rights Legal Defense Fund, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Lawyers from one of those firms, Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, were guests on our podcast last year discussing legal issues with the University of Illinois’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies and Gov. Pritzker’s gas tax signage law.

It’s amicus brief in Townstone’s case summarizes it nicely: “Congress has not deputized CFPB as the ‘Tasteful Joke Police,’ nor would the First Amendment permit that delegation…. By conflating candid discussions of crime with the disparagement of African-American communities, CFPB seeks to do just that. Under the First Amendment, it cannot.”

If you think Townstone’s case or other First Amendment cases you’ve heard about are isolated examples, you are dangerously uninformed.

The assault on free speech is massive. Much of the government, social media and the press are partners in the Censorship Industrial Complex. That term was coined by Michael Shellenberger, who laid out 56 pages of evidence in congressional testimony last year. The Missouri v Biden case, now on appeal and likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, is already blowing the lid off much of the unholy alliance. Read about the massive evidence of record, discussed in the trial court’s Independence Day order.

And if you think the assault on free speech isn’t ongoing in Illinois, you are again dangerously uninformed. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul essentially thumbed his nose at the First Amendment when he personally drafted the Illinois law targeting alleged pro-life “misinformation” given out by crisis pregnancy groups near abortion clinics. A federal judge ridiculed it and enjoined its enforcement earlier this month. Chalk up that victory to another of the pro bono law firms available to help on First Amendment issues, the Thomas More Society.

Gov. JB Pritzker “is gaining a reputation as a hard-left culture warrior who is happy to silence political opponents,” as the Wall Street Journal recently said. “Pritzker apparently thinks that invoking the name Trump is a justification to get away with saying or doing anything. Not under the U.S. Constitution,” wrote the Journal.

He told CNN, “There ought to be a private right of action for anybody that’s dissuaded or told something that’s false, that’s the important thing.” That would be flagrantly unconstitutional.

Under the guise of banning book bans, the General assembly passed and Pritzker signed a bill delegating control over what books libraries carry to a group run by an open Marxist. Most recently, they passed an “anti-doxing” law that flies in the face of textbook First Amendment law, as we explained here.

Illinois Senators Durbin and Duckworth have been among the progressives jawboning tech platforms to do more censorship. And Illinois Congressman Sean Casten introduced a bill to strip courts of the power of judicial review — their power to declare laws invalid as violations of the First Amendment, or anything else.

Do not stand silent when your right to free speech is suppressed. Know that quality legal firms are often available for free. There are more beyond those I’ve mentioned here.

The assault on free speech must be defeated at all cost. Do your part.

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/30/2023 - 18:20
Published:8/30/2023 5:25:05 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:8/30/2023 7:05:44 AM
[Markets] California AG Sues SoCal School District For 'Outing' Trans, Pronoun Students To Parents California AG Sues SoCal School District For 'Outing' Trans, Pronoun Students To Parents

California attorney general Bob Bonta has filed a lawsuit against a Southern California school district over a recently adopted policy that requires schools to notify parents if their children change their gender identification or pronouns.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta

"It tramples on students' rights," said Bonta, who's seeking a court order to immediately halt the Chino Valley Unified School district from what he called "forced outing" of transgender students that violates their civil rights, NBC Los Angeles reports.

The move comes after Chino Valley Unified, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, adopted the policy following a shift in leadership on the school board. Other Southern California districts have adopted similar policies and Bonta said he believes they will also be affected by this litigation, though they are not named in the suit.

In a response for a request for comment, the district's director of communications said the district was not notified of the filing until after news organizations reported on the lawsuit. The district had not been provided an opportunity to examine the lawsuit Monday morning.

So - schools are allowed to hire queer activist teachers and feature books with leather-bound gay grandfathers making out, but if they let parents know that their child is pursuing an alternative lifestyle - the state will sue them.

"At this time, the District is working with its legal counsel to review the lawsuit and its contents," Director of Communications Andi Johnston said in an email. "Prior to the filing, District personnel had been working with complete transparency in providing Attorney General Bonta’s office with requested documents and records. Superintendent Enfield spoke with the DOJ’s legal counsel weekly to confirm the District was providing requested files, which had changed several times from the original subpoena."

The state's lawsuit argues that the policy discriminates against transgender and 'gender non-conforming' students, and is in violation of the state constitution which requires equal protection for all students (from their own parents?) regardless of their gender expression, sexual orientation, or identity.

"Every student has the right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity – regardless of their gender identity," Bonta said in a statement. "We’re in court challenging Chino Valley Unified’s forced outing policy for wrongfully and unconstitutionally discriminating against and violating the privacy rights of LGBTQ+ students. The forced outing policy wrongfully endangers the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of non-conforming students who lack an accepting environment in the classroom and at home. Our message to Chino Valley Unified and all school districts in California is loud and clear: We will never stop fighting for the civil rights of LGBTQ+ students."

Parents, meanwhile, say they have a right to know the decisions their children are making at school.

Tyler Durden Tue, 08/29/2023 - 20:25
Published:8/29/2023 7:45:22 PM
[Markets] Tucker Carlson Apologizes To Hungary On Behalf Of America, Slams 'Disgusting' US Ambassador Over Lack Of Diplomacy Tucker Carlson Apologizes To Hungary On Behalf Of America, Slams 'Disgusting' US Ambassador Over Lack Of Diplomacy

Tucker Carlson flew to Hungary last week where he gave two powerful speeches - apologizing for the United States' lack of diplomacy and its "cultural imperialism."

Carlson started by apologizing on behalf of the United States after US Ambassador David Pressman, a gay activist, lectured the Hungarian government over LGBTQ rights.

"The point of diplomacy is not to hector other nations for its own sake," said Carlson. "To show up in someone else's country and scream at them because they're different from you."

"I'm not in the habit of apologizing for the United States. In fact, I don't think I ever have, but the behavior of the American ambassador to Hungary makes me want to apologize," said Carlson. "It's disgusting and inexcusable. It's also so far from the norms of diplomacy in my country that it's hard for me to believe that David Pressman is actually doing what he's doing.

"And so for a creep like David Pressman, who is not a diplomat - who's a political activist and Biden donor - to show up in your country and lecture you about your culture, and threaten you because you do things differently from the way they do things where he lives... hurts the United States and is a grave embarrassment to me as an American, and an outrage to me as someone who pays his salary. It's disgusting."

Hungary under Orbán has been tightening laws targeting LGBT propaganda. Currently same-sex couples in Hungary aren't allowed to adopt children, and changing genders is also illegal. Pressman, meanwhile is a gay human rights lawyer and California-born former aide to former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Earlier this year, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto slammed Pressman, saying he was way out of line.

Carlson also criticized America's 'cultural imperialism,' insisting that larger countries have a responsibility not to force their ideologies or lifestyles onto smaller ones, and that this behavior undermines the notion of self-determination.

"That is not the basis of a successful Empire," he said.

"Everybody wants Freedom everyone understands the concept of self-determination," said Carlson, adding "Hungary isn't hassling anybody else; Hungarians have views, your government has views."

Carlson then warned: "It's the ones who tell you the 180 degree opposite of the truth who you need to be careful of and they're the ones who will enslave you."

He also warned NATO... "The world is reseting completely. The post-war order is collapsing. NATO is going to collapse. NATO cannot stand long term."

In closing, he recommended reading books.

"The most important thing I ever did other than get married was read books not tweets, not electronic but paper books in traditional form and read them every day," said Carlson, pondering whether the decline in reading is responsible for the clouding of the world's collective wisdom.

He then conveyed a message to the West...

"What Hungary is saying to the West is we want to be part of the West... maybe don't push your garbage on us so aggressively," he said - in essence, that Hungary doesn't want to be an island, it wants to participate in Western civilization but without the oppressive force of cultural changes that don't align with its values.

Watch the entire speech below:

Carlson's speech echoes some of what he told a crowd in Esztergom, Hungary two years ago, when he told the crowd that the US media landscape lacks objectivity, and discussed the importance of respecting culture, history, and beauty in society. Carlson views these elements as essential for human happiness and effective governance, something he thinks Hungary has managed better than the U.S.

"If you disobey the political orders from the ruling party they'll shut you down," Carlson said (prior to being shut down).

Carlson was particularly struck by Hungary's stance on migration. "Hungary stood alone essentially in saying you know no thanks, and that struck me as a totally legitimate thing to do," he said, referring to the Orban's decision to block migrants from entering the country.


Tyler Durden Tue, 08/29/2023 - 06:55
Published:8/29/2023 6:04:32 AM
[Markets] Alabama Ready To Be First To Kill Inmate By Forced Breathing Of Nitrogen Alabama Ready To Be First To Kill Inmate By Forced Breathing Of Nitrogen

Alabama is ready to pioneer a new means of executing convicts -- by forcing a condemned man to breathe pure nitrogen. 

That man is Kenneth Eugene Smith. Now 58, Smith was convicted in 1988 for killing the wife of a preacher -- in a murder-for-hire scheme initiated by that preacher, who hoped to cash in on a life insurance policy and pay off his debts. The victim, Elizabeth Sennett, was found dead in the couple's home on Coon Dog Cemetary Road in rural Colbert County, having been bludgeoned with a fireplace tool and stabbed nine times in what was supposed to look like a home invasion.  

Smith and his partner in crime carried out the murder for payments of just $1,000 each. That partner was executed in 2010. The preacher spared everyone the legal hassle: After investigators honed in on him, he confessed to his sons and their families that he'd had an affair and hired the killers -- then immediately strolled to his old pickup truck, sat in the front seat and shot himself, fatally. 

Kenneth Eugene Smith was convicted of murdering a preacher's wife after the preacher hired him to carry out the hit for just $1,000

An attempt to execute Smith via lethal injection in 2022 was called off when executioners struggled to insert an IV tube into his vein. Now the Alabama attorney general is ready to give it another go, this time using "nitrogen hypoxia." On Friday, AG Steve Marshall asked the Alabama Supreme Court to set a date. 

While colorless, odorless nitrogen comprises 78% of the air we breathe daily, breathing 100% nitrogen will theoretically cause the prisoner to first pass out and then die.

“Placed into a pure nitrogen environment, the convict would be unconscious within a minute (possibly even after a breath or two) and would be dead soon after,” Charles Blanke, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, told Fox News. “Its failure rate, that is, cases in which the prisoner survives, would likely be much lower than what we see with current death penalty methods.”

Alabama's execution chamber at Holman Correctional Facility (Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser)

Alabama has yet to provide details on its planned methodology -- for example, whether inmates would be placed in a gas chamber or simply fitted with a special mask. If it's the latter, a good seal is essential to ensure the death isn't prolonged by oxygen in the execution room. 

The nitrogen hypoxia method has been on the books in Alabama since 2018.  Oklahoma and Mississippi have likewise authorized the method, but none have used it yet. Lethal injections have proven increasingly problematic, owing to shortages of the drugs used in the process.

Those shortages are driven in part by manufacturers not wanting their product used to kill people -- even the most evil ones. In 2011, Hospira, the only domestic producer of one of three lethal-injection ingredients -- sodium thiopental -- stopped making it. In 2012, the FDA made it illegal to import the drug to be used in executions. 

Preacher Charles Sennett hired Smith and another man to violently kill his wife, Elizabeth (WAAY31)

Given its novelty, nitrogen hypoxia will be ripe for legal challenges on behalf the condemned.  "No state in the country has executed a person using nitrogen hypoxia and Alabama is in no position to experiment with a completely unproven and unused method for executing someone," Equal Justice Initiative attorney Angie Setzer told Associated Press.

Alabama doesn't have to prove the humanity of nitrogen execution. "The burden is on the condemned inmate to show that it is torturous rather than the burden being on the state to show that it’s not,” said Richmond University law professor Corinna Barrett Lain in an interview with Scientific American. Lain's choice for most humane method? Firing squad. 

Alabama death row inmates are literally lining up to be polished off via nitrogen. In legal action dating back five years, several inmates have sued to be killed that way, rather than lethal injection. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 08/26/2023 - 21:00
Published:8/26/2023 8:44:59 PM
[Markets] Parents Can't Opt Children Out Of LGBT Lessons: Judge Parents Can't Opt Children Out Of LGBT Lessons: Judge

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Parents are not able to opt their children out of lessons featuring LGBT content, a federal judge has ruled.

Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a file image. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Parents sued Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland over the lessons after officials revoked their opt-out policy over the large number of opt-out requests. Parents said the failure to provide opt-outs forced them to give up their religious beliefs or seek alternative schooling.

U.S. District Judge Deborah Boardman, though, said the parents had not shown the policy would “result in the indoctrination of their children or otherwise coerce their children to violate or change their religious beliefs.”

“With or without an opt-out right, the parents remain free to pursue their sacred obligations to instruct their children in their faiths,” Judge Boardman, an appointee of President Joe Biden, said in a 60-page ruling denying a request for a preliminary injunction. “Even if their children’s exposure to religiously offensive ideas makes the parents’ efforts less likely to succeed, that does not amount to a government-imposed burden on their religious exercise.”

Montgomery County Public Schools is one of the largest school systems in the country, with some 160,000 students.

Montgomery County officials said in a statement that the school district "remains committed to cultivating an inclusive and welcoming learning environment and creating opportunities where all students see themselves and their families in curriculum materials.12 hours ago."

"We also will continue to adhere to our responsibility to include instructional materials that reflect the diversity of the local and global community by exploring the aspirations, issues, and achievements of women and men, people with disabilities, people from diverse racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as those of diverse gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation," officials said.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who adhere to Islam or Christianity, said the ruling was wrong.

“The court’s decision is an assault on children’s right to be guided by their parents on complex and sensitive issues regarding human sexuality,” Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, and one of the lawyers, said in a statement. “The School Board should let kids be kids and let parents decide how and when to best educate their own children consistent with their religious beliefs.”

Plaintiffs plan to appeal Judge Boardman's ruling and expect oral arguments to take place at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the fall.

Judge Boardman said that the appeals court has not yet addressed whether mandatory lessons in public schools might burden the religious exercise of students or parents, but that rulings from other courts support the idea that "the mere exposure in public school to ideas that contradict religious beliefs does not burden the religious exercise of students or parents."

That includes Mozart v. Hawkins County Board of Education, a 1987 decision in which an appeals court found that students were compelled to violate their religious convictions but that they were not required to affirm their belief or disbelief in any of the ideas, like evolution, promoted in the curriculum.

More on Case

Montgomery County officials introduced 13 new books featuring LGBT characters at the start of the 2022–23 school year. They said the books were introduced because a review of its curriculum found it lacked representation of LGBT people.

The books have been used in lessons for children as young as 3, prompting concerns from parents, teachers, and principals.

"It is problematic to portray elementary school age children falling in love with other children, regardless of sexual preferences," a group of principals said in a memorandum to the district that was revealed in the litigation.

"Family life isn’t taught until fifth grade, but a second grade book uses terminology such as cisgender or transgender," the memo also stated.

Teachers were also instructed to tell students that "when we're born, people make a guess about our gender" and that sometimes, the guess is "wrong," according to other documents made public in the case.

Judge Boardman acknowledged that the guidance document for teachers contained answers that "could be interpreted to promote a particular view as correct," but added, "they are not required answers, and they are outliers among the suggested answers that do not promote a particular view."

Parents were able to have their children excluded from lessons featuring the books initially, but officials informed them on March 23 that further requests would not be entertained "for any reason."

The change stemmed from the large number of parents who requested opt-outs, Niki Hazel, a district official who oversees curriculum, said in a court filing.

"Individual principals and teachers could not accommodate the growing number of opt out requests without causing significant disruptions to the classroom environment and undermining MCPS’s educational mission," Ms. Hazel said.

Other officials have said that children who are LGBT or have LGBT family members were hurt when other students left the classroom when the controversial materials were read.

Plaintiffs argued that revoking opt-outs violated state law and the U.S. Constitution and that hurt feelings were not an adequate reason to change the policy.

Tyler Durden Sat, 08/26/2023 - 16:30
Published:8/26/2023 4:08:13 PM
[Markets] Denmark Caves, Restores Blasphemy Prosecutions Denmark Caves, Restores Blasphemy Prosecutions

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

In 2017, Denmark took a historic step in favor of free speech by rescinding its blasphemy law as 334 years.

For those of us in the free speech community, it was an important moment in Europe where free speech is being rapidly reduced.

Now, however, the liberal government is moving to reinstate the blasphemy crime with a new law barring the burning of the Qur’an, the Bible, and other religous texts.

The country already has an abusive law criminalizing offenses against foreign nations by publicly insulting them, including flag burnings. That law will be extended to religious books.

Minister of Justice Peter Hummelgaard adopted the same thread-worn rationalizations to curtail free speech. He simply dismissed that burning such books is free speech, dismissing such protests as “meaningless insults which have no other purpose than to create discord and hatred.”  Speech crimes are often pushed by those who disagree with the content of opposing speech as “meaningless.”

Despite the growing anti-free speech movement in the United States, the Constitution still protects such protests, including the burning of the American flag.

In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is considered one of the core cases defining free speech in the United States. Brennan was joined by Marshall, Blackmun, Scalia, and Kennedy (Kennedy wrote a concurrence). I agree with the decision as did conservatives like Scalia. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a powerful concurrence where he famously stated:

Justice Kennedy

“For we are presented with a clear and simple statute to be judged against a pure command of the Constitution. The outcome can be laid at no door but ours. The hard fact is that sometimes we must make decisions we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result. And so great is our commitment to the process that, except in the rare case, we do not pause to express distaste for the result, perhaps for fear of undermining a valued principle that dictates the decision. This is one of those rare cases.

Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.”

The same is true with the burning of religious or culture symbols. 

I find such acts reprehensible, but they are clearly conveying a political or religious viewpoint.

Nevertheless, the left in Denmark are now embracing on a new age of censorship and speech criminalization.  The country will now create an amorphous crime for those who show “improper treatment of objects with religious significance.” The vagueness is by design. Citizens will not know what may be considered such improper treatment and thus a chilling effect will curtail future political speech.

The reversal in Denmark illustrates the dire situation for free speech in Europe and the growing danger here in the United States.

Tyler Durden Sat, 08/26/2023 - 07:00
Published:8/26/2023 6:34:43 AM
[World] BOOK REVIEW: 'Life Sentence' Mark Bowden is perhaps best known for books about the military, such as "Black Hawk Down," but he has also written several books about crime. Published:8/24/2023 5:04:28 PM
[] Police remove man from school board meeting for reading from a book in the library Published:8/23/2023 8:09:21 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:8/23/2023 7:16:16 AM
[Markets] NHS Gender Clinic Slammed For Approving Hormones & Mastectomy For Female Patient With 14 Mental Health Disorders NHS Gender Clinic Slammed For Approving Hormones & Mastectomy For Female Patient With 14 Mental Health Disorders

Authored by Thomas Brooke via Remix News,

A taxpayer-funded gender identity clinic in Britain has been heavily criticized for approving testosterone treatment and a double subcutaneous mastectomy on a female patient who had been diagnosed with 14 separate mental health disorders.

The Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), based at London’s Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, is due to close down next year after staff blew the whistle on how the service was being run and a Care Quality Commission inspection of the clinic ruled it “inadequate,” expressing significant concerns over “clinical practice, safeguarding procedures, and assessments of capacity and consent to treatment.”

Further details of individual case files are rarely available; however, a recent lawsuit against the clinic has exposed one example of the concerns over the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.

It relates to a claim brought by a 22-year-old who argued that healthcare professionals at the clinic failed to comply with statutory duties towards transgender young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

During the judgment delivered on Aug. 11, it is stated that the claimant, who was born a female but now identifies as a male, has a total of 14 diagnosed mental health disorders “and continues to have complex needs.”

“His difficulties have been medically described as Mild Mental Retardation, Attachment Disorder, Emotion Dysregulation, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (“ODD”) and (Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”), dyslexia, severe anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) and low self-esteem,” the judgment by Mrs Justice Foster DBE read.

It further recounted the claimant’s troubled upbringing, explaining the claimant, who had been a patient at the clinic since the age of 14, is illiterate and was raised initially by his mother who was a recovering drug addict and was subjected to domestic violence from a young age.

The claimant lived in numerous locations across England during his childhood and attended eight separate primary schools before going into the care system at the age of 13.

He has been known to mental health services since the age of 12.

The decision by the gender clinic to approve life-changing hormone therapy and surgery for an individual with such complex mental health disorders was criticized by Conservative peer Zac Goldsmith, who called for the “utterly barbaric” professionals involved to be “locked up.”

The case was also condemned by anti-trans British pressure group, Transgender Trend, and Gender Critical Autistics (GCA), a group for autistic adults and the parents of autistic children who have concerns about gender identity and transgender activism on the rights of other groups, which described the case as “shocking.”

The closure of the Tavistock clinic was delayed back in May until March next year when it will be remodeled and replaced by two regional hubs.

It continues to treat around 1,000 patients on its books, but no new first-patient appointments will be made until the new hub opens. It is understood that several thousand children are on waiting lists for gender-related treatment after an influx in referrals in recent years.

Tyler Durden Wed, 08/23/2023 - 03:30
Published:8/23/2023 3:17:38 AM
[Entertainment] 9 things to know before watching ‘Ahsoka,’ the new Star Wars series A new Star Wars show is coming to Disney Plus, and it features characters from the expanded universe of books, movies and comics. Here’s what you need to know about “Ahsoka.” Published:8/22/2023 11:09:21 AM
[a4c54248-8b3f-5703-a0af-149b45ad0dd2] Chip Roy, GOP colleagues sound alarm over CCP-linked money reportedly going to NIH employees Texas Rep. Chip Roy led a letter with 14 of his House GOP colleagues to the acting NIH director regarding the recent Open The Books report revealing foreign payments to employees. Published:8/21/2023 12:49:24 PM
[Markets] Feminist UCSF School Of Medicine Professor Says Children Can Be "Gender Minotaurs" Feminist UCSF School Of Medicine Professor Says Children Can Be "Gender Minotaurs"

A feminist medical school professor has dialed up the crazy to "11" last week, coming out and saying that children no longer have to identify as just women or men, but that they can also identify as gender minotaurs.

The doctor, Diane Ehrensaft, says she supports a "gender revolution". And don't worry, it's not like she's in a position of prominence anywhere important, she's just director of mental health and chief psychologist at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital gender development center and a professor at UCSF School of Medicine, Fox News reports

Her specialties include pediatric "gender-affirmative care for transgender and gender-expansive patients", the report says. 

In a presentation reviewed by Fox News Digital, Ehrensaft said that children could identify as "gender hybrids" which include a creature called a "gender minotaur". She also said kids can "change their genders by season" and "can have different identities depending on their location," Fox News reported

In 2018, she stated: "I totally agree we are in the midst of a gender revolution and the children are leading it. And it's a wonderful thing to see. And it's also humbling to know [children] know more than we do about this topic of being gender expansive."

She has said that she believes the "gender revolution" is the next phase of the women's revolution that took place in the 1960s. "Now, we've got genders moving boulders, and it makes a lot of people nervous," she added. 

A promotion for the 2018 event she spoke at, at the San Francisco public library, said: "Each person's web will change over time as they age. What's Your Gender? Don't answer until you hear all your options… Ehrensaft wants you to get off the binary measurement scale." 

She said: "And as you know, language is political. So what's good today will be politically incorrect tomorrow. So we'll just keep changing as we go. This is a whole group of kids you all should know about." 

"A boy… twirled [in my office]… and said to me, 'You see, I'm a Prius… I'm a boy in the front, and I'm a girl in the back." 

She concluded: "I started meeting a whole bunch of other gender hybrids. And so we have the gender Prius, we have a gender Minotaur. And most of the kids who are gender minotaurs love mermaids. So make sure you have a lot of mermaid books. If you really you think about it, it works."

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/21/2023 - 06:55
Published:8/21/2023 6:07:25 AM
[Markets] When Baseballs & Guitars Say More Than Pundits When Baseballs & Guitars Say More Than Pundits

Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via,

Before I got the invite to a swank prep-school out East, I used to spend my Spring afternoons on a baseball diamond not too far from the home field of Derek Jeter, who was still playing local ball in Kalamazoo while I was harboring high-school fantasies of playing for the Detroit Tigers.

Glory Days, Simple Lessons

Those were dreamy days of young fantasy. Alas, the Tigers never called, so I hit the books rather than the minor leagues and never looked back.

But like all old men with “glory days” memories, sports taught me a lot of metaphorical lessons.

Like having a team ringer who could hit or pitch years ahead of his time (or for you football/soccer folks, a deadly striker).

Even before the first inning was over, we all knew the harsh pleasure or pain of either: 1) having a “ringer” on our team, or 2) facing one on the other team.

In short, if one team had the most obvious “heat” (or unstoppable striker), it was the team that was going to win.

It was simply the Realpolitik of sports.

Thus, if we were playing against a Derek Jeter (or a Lionel Messi), we all silently knew the game’s outcome before we bravely trotted onto the infield.

Or to put it even more realistically, if my high school baseball team ever had to play the NY Yankees, there was not a snowball’s chance in H.E. double toothpicks that we were going to win that game.

This is fairly easy to grasp. Even our coach (McKenzie) would/could admit such hard truths.

The Debt Endgame is Obvious

Oddly, however, when it comes to US debt levels, and hence the end-game for US credit markets, rates, currencies and Fed policy, almost no one wants to see or admit the obvious.

That is, if we were to compare the Fed’s war against inflation to a baseball game, Powell’s odds are about as good as my Michigan high school team (The Lakeshore Lancers) beating the NY Yankees.

And here’s a few (and otherwise obvious) reasons why.

The Ignored Downgrade

Fitch just downgraded Uncle Sam’s IOUs from AAA to AA+.

For now, it seems no one cares. That is, most still think the Lancers can beat the Yankees.


Because the NY Times, the Wall Street JournalBloomberg and the Financial Times are all doing a wonderful, timely and concerted job of telling average Americans not too worry, as recession and inflation fears are now largely behind us.

Alas, has Powell beaten the Yankees?


A Lying Chorus

Whenever I see a discredited cabal of media sell-outs all telling me at once not to worry, I start, to well…worry.

After all, when an FBI can have Facebook remove posts about vaccine facts or CNBC starts ignoring alternative views on a neocon war in the East, I tend to get skeptical of the “official version” of just about anything and everything.

What these esteemed financial media “experts” are failing to tell you is that the recent (and ignored) Fitch downgrade was premised upon the fact the America’s debt to GDP ratio (125%) is just too high.

In fact, it suggests that Johnson & Johnson or Microsoft have less a chance for defaulting on their debts than the United States.

What our media guides are also failing to mention is that the Fitch downgrade of 2023 was preceded by a similar S&P Rating downgrade in August of 2011.

Two Downgrades, Different Signals

What’s different about the August downgrade of 2023, however, is that Uncle Sam’s debt levels are much higher (scarier) than in 2011.

In fact, bond demand (as measured by the TLT) actually rose by 25-30% after the 2011 downgrade!


See for yourself:

This was because folks still believed the US of A and its IOUs were simply too big to fail and that such “risk-free” Treasury bonds were a safe-haven in any storm.

By 2014, however, the rest of the world was singing a different tune.

When adjusted for inflation, then as now, those so called “risk-free-returns” were nothing more than “return-free-risk,” which is why foreigners have been net-sellers of Uncle Sam’s IOUs ever since…

And what is even more interesting about the downgrade of 2023 is the fact that more Americans are finally catching on to this.

That is, and unlike the 2011 response to the S&P downgrade, the 2023 downgrade led to a dumping rather than buying of those very same (and increasingly downgraded) IOUs.

Again, see for yourself:

Main Street Finally Catching On?

What these charts are saying is that Americans are slowly starting to see the end-game of our debt-strapped American baseball team.

For decades, our dads and grand-dads have taught us to seek bonds as protection in dangerous times.

That is why US retail investors and US banks have either been suckered (on Main Street) or forced (at the bank level) to buy Uncle Sam’s promissory notes for decades with blind faith in DC’s ability to, well, beat the NY Yankees

In 2023, however, more folks are distrusting what is an essence a negative-returning 10Y UST (i.e., what the fancy lads call “negative term premiums”), which means US bonds aint our dad’s (or grand-dad’s) “safe-haven” anymore.

Powell Running Out of Good Pitches

This, of course, poses a real problem for Powell’s baseball game against inflation, for Powell has no good fastballs left, just a weak curve ball (Fed’s balance sheet) and a crappy slider (rate manipulations).

That is, whenever the bond market runs out of liquidity (as he saw in the repo crisis of 2019, the UST crash of 2020 or the recent bank failures of 2023), Powel only has two choices/pitches to work with, namely:

  1. Do nothing (and watch bonds tank, rates spike, deflation rip, economies crumble and markets frog boil toward implosion), or

  2. Reach for that magical mouse-clicker at the Eccles Building and print more fiat money (and hence monetize Uncle Sam’s debt with inflationary bravado).

Powell’s Endgame vs. Powell’s Fantasy

For me, the end-game is clear.

In fact, I see it as clearly as if my Lake Shore Lancers were forced to play 9 innings against Jeeter’s Yankees, namely: “We’re gonna lose this game.”

For now, we are only in the first innings of this painful and embarrassing contest.

Powell, having broken the middle class, a number or regional banks and the normal shape of a robust yield curve, is already declaring victory over inflation and recession (along with a chorus of “yes-sayers” from the WSJ to the FT) and continuing his higher-for-longer fantasy of rising rates into the greatest debt bubble of world history.

How’s that for fantasy?

Maybe I should I try out for the Yankees myself?

Ignoring the Ringer (and the Math)

But what Powell (and the consensus-driven markets) aren’t seeing is the ringer on the other team—namely the fast-ball reality of simple math.

That is, as Powell raises rates, the cost of Uncle Sam’s debt has now crossed the Rubicon of payable.

Ironically (and sports are full of ironies), Powell’s war against inflation is in fact going to end up being inflationary, as the only way to inevitably and eventually pay the interest expense alone on Uncle Sam’s $33T deficit is via a money-printer.

And that, folks, is inflationary (what the fancy lads call “fiscal dominance”), which is bad for long-dated IOUs but good for gold.

Thus, and regardless of current headlines, bullish fantasy and media-ignored credit downgrades, I see yields on sovereign 10-years going higher for longer, which is not a view shared by consensus or those who even feel that a great high school team can beat the Yankees.

The Hopeful Crowd

Of course, there are those who may feel and hope that Powell and his squad of weak-armed experts can get US debt to GDP levels from 125% to 80% (which is the only ratio where normalized rate hikes work) by cutting spending costs.


In that case, Powell and his equally weak teammate at the US Treasury Department (Yellen) or perhaps even Joe Biden, with his 20 MPH mental fast-ball at the White House, can sit down and decide where the USA is willing to tighten its belt.

Will it be by cutting entitlement spending?

Good luck staying in office with that game plan…

Will it be via military cuts?

Those who truly run DC from the Pentagon are not likely to agree…

Or perhaps there are still those deluded fans in those high-school bleachers who think Powell can grow his way out of a 125% debt to GDP ratio?


Well, mathematically (just saying), such a gameplan would require 6 consecutive years of 20+% GDP growth, something which can (and will) NEVER happen in a high-rate baseball field.

The Angry Crowd

Thus, the only way to “grow,” and the only way to save Uncle Sam’s unloved bond market, is via liquidity, and that liquidity ain’t coming from GDP, tax receipts or 20% economic growth.


It’s gonna come from a Fed mouse-clicker. Trillions of fiat Dollars—and that folks, IS gonna be inflationary, and it’s gonna crush the guy on the street, farm or high-school coaching staff.

In short, Powell’s fight against inflation is just in the 3rd inning.

In the end, inflation and negative real rates are the only pitchers/options left in Powell’s weak bullpen (short of a deflationary depression), which means, alas, he won’t be winning this game in the 9th inning.

Of course, such baseball metaphors, math, policy and inflation/deflation cycles aren’t easy to time with precision nor be understood with fancy Wall Street lingo by every Jane or Joe on Main Street.

Afterall, not everyone has the time or luxury to debate monetary policy (or baseball memories) when they are just struggling to make a car payment or fill their gas tanks (and those prices are going to go higher) as the BLS fudges the math on inflation data or the NBER tweaks its comical (and lagging) recession indicatorfor political rather than transparency motives.

But whether one be carrying a baseball bat or a guitar, it’s becoming clear from Farmville Virginia to Stevensville Michigan that something is “broken in the force.”

As distrust of a weaponized media, Dollar and justice system collides