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[Markets] The Regime That Doesn't Care The Regime That Doesn't Care

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Epoch Times,

We’ve all come across warnings against doom scrolling.

This is the practice of waking up in the morning, scouring headlines, seizing on the bad news, and dwelling on the darkness. You do this during downtimes in the day and in the evening. Your mood worsens, permanently.

It cannot be good for the human spirit.

The term implies that we are somehow looking for doom because it gives us a dopamine rush or something. Testing this idea, I’ve variously tried to avoid doing that. But there is a problem. It is impossible to avoid simply because the bad news is so ubiquitous. In fact, I’ve come to distrust any venues that are not reporting it!

Many people have concluded that if we are looking for something other than doom, we should leave what we called “the news” entirely and focus on culture, religion, philosophy, history, art, poetry, or find something practical and productive to do.

I recently met a wonderful Mennonite family living in Amish country in Pennsylvania. They live a completely unplugged life: no cell phones, no internet, no TV. There are only books, community worship, farming, tending to livestock, shopping at local stores, and visiting with neighbors.

I never could have imagined that there would come a time when I would say to those who have completely seceded from modern life: you might be doing it the right way. There is something truly brilliant about the choices you have made.

Sure, they have created a bubble for themselves, one of their own choosing as an extension of their understanding of their faith tradition. One point I observed: they surely seemed happy. Not in a fake way that we see on social media but authentically happy.

Once you leave that world and dip back into normal life, it’s just undeniable. The headlines are filled with tragedy at home and abroad, much of it an outgrowth of population despair. The list is familiar: learning loss, substance addiction, suicide ideation, public and private violence, massive and well-earned distrust of everything and everyone, raging conflict at all levels of society.

It’s hard consolation that so many predicted this outcome of the pandemic response. We knew from the empirical literature that unemployment is associated with suicide, that isolation is connected with personal despair, that loss of community leads to psychopathology, that dependency on substances produces ill health.

So many warned of this outcome from what governments did. In many ways, the world before lockdowns seemed fixable. Afterwards, too much is broken and ruined to imagine redemption.

A good example for me is mainstream corporate media. There was a time when I could listen to NPR or read the New York Times (NYT) and disagree but think: well, that’s a perspective I reject but still I benefit from knowing it. It seemed like we were all part of the same national conversation.

This is no longer true. What made the difference? Probably the realization that they are not just confused or pushing some biased outlook but rather actively covering up and lying. Realizing that is incredibly disorienting.

There is something about pretending that the lockdowns and all that followed were completely normal that discredits them. They do it constantly. Sometimes the media will report on learning loss or the suicide epidemic or rising ill health in the population. But there seems to be this studious attempt to pretend that no one knows why it is happening.

Or my least favorite tactic: pretending as if the pandemic necessitated all this and that it was not an outgrowth of deliberate decision-making on the part of elites.

This stuff makes me want to scream: they locked us down when it was totally unnecessary!

As my friend Aaron Kheriaty often observes, they believe we are stupid. They actually think we cannot make connections, have no memory, no knowledge of anything serious, and will just eat up their porridge of baloney daily while exercising no critical intelligence over any of it.

This rubs me wrong particularly on the subject of the mRNA shots designed to address the virus. We know for certain that they were oversold and failed in all the ways they were supposed to succeed. We are further flooded with evidence of their harms both from personal experience and the scientific literature.

But do we read or hear about this in the legacy media? Absolutely not. Even when it is overwhelmingly clear that the shot should be considered a possible cause in the sudden rise of heart attacks, sudden death, turbo cancers, and maladies of all sorts, this whole subject is somehow unsayable in the corporate media.

The silence on this topic is so conspicuous and apparent that it discredits everything else. And what is the reason for it? Well, pharma advertising provides a stunning 75 percent of revenue for mainline television. That’s an astounding number. The networks are simply not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

That’s true for TV and probably something similar applies to everything else too.

What does this mean for the rest of us? It means that every time we turn on the TV, we are risking getting propagandized by companies that are seriously in league with the government to generate the highest possible revenue stream for themselves regardless of the consequences.

And why zero focus on vaccine injury? Incredibly, the companies themselves are indemnified against liability for any harms they cause. Just think about the implications of this. Even if you know for sure that you have been harmed by a product you were forced or otherwise manipulated to take, there is almost nothing you can do about it.

That’s an incredible fact, and goes a very long way toward explaining the silent treatment.

The discrediting of major media in this context reveals a deeper and more terrifying truth. Much of the elite class of economic and social managers do not have our best interests in mind. Once you realize this, the color of the world changes for you. Once you gain that insight, there is pretty much no going back from it.

Millions have come to this realization over the last four years. It has changed us as people. We desperately want to live normal happy lives but we are overwhelmed by what we’ve learned. It’s like the curtain was pulled back and we have seen what is really going on. The whole of official culture is screaming at us to ignore that man behind the curtain.

I’ve recently taken my own advice and thrown myself into reading history as a refuge. My choice was probably not the best if my goal was to brighten my spirits. I have been reading “The Vampire Economy” by German economist and financier Gunter Reimann, published in 1939 (and which I scanned and uploaded with the author’s permission).

The book was written as the Nazi Party had gained full control of government (and everything else) and the full war in Europe was about to commence with the German invasion of Poland.

Reimann brilliantly dissects the reality of a regime that cared nothing for the spreading suffering of the people.

“Nazi leaders in Germany do not fear possible national economic ruin in wartime,” he writes.

“They feel that, whatever happens, they will remain on top, that the worse matters become, the more dependent on them will be the propertied classes. And if the worst comes to the worst, they are prepared to sacrifice all other interests to maintain their hold on the State. If they themselves must go, they are ready to pull the temple down with them.”

That’s a bracing analysis and it could apply to many regimes in history, not just the Nazis. Indeed, good government in history has rarely been the norm. Power often benefits from suffering. As Americans we are not used to thinking this way about our elites. But it is probably time to realize that this trajectory is very much in play.

This might be the most striking change among millions of Americans over the last five or so years. We’ve come to realize that our leaders in so many sectors of American life (or global life, for that matter) do not favor our best interests. This is a troubling realization but it explains so much. It’s why the elites did not care about the harms of lockdowns or untested shots and are unconcerned about inflation, mass immigration, the rise of crime, squatting and the insecurity of property, exploding government debt, growing population surveillance, or anything like the normal rules of civilized life.

The regime, in the broadest possible way we can conceive of that term, simply doesn’t care. Even worse, it grows and benefits at our expense. They know it. We know it. They like it this way.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/20/2024 - 07:00
Published:4/20/2024 6:16:15 AM
[Markets] N.Y. Gives Trump The Anne Boleyn Treatment N.Y. Gives Trump The Anne Boleyn Treatment

Authored by Richard Porter via RealClear Politics,

Jury selection is underway now complete in the case of The People of the State of New York vs. Donald J. Trump, which alleges that the defendant lied to his own check register, and lied to the general ledger of his own company, when the invoice given to him by his lawyer was paid and recorded by someone else, and that the misstatement he made to himself in his own records was done “with the intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof.”

It is often noted that this is the first time that a former U.S. president is being tried for a crime, although Ulysses S. Grant may (or may not) have been cited for speeding in his carriage. The federal government chose not to prosecute Bill Clinton, who lied under oath during a sexual harassment lawsuit and then dissembled again about sex before a grand jury. Clinton lost his law license, settled the case on unfavorable terms, and was sanctioned by both federal and Arkansas state courts.

So, this is a first. And let’s be honest about who is doing what to whom and why.

The prosecutor elected in New York County of New York state indicted Trump, after Trump announced his 2024 run for president, for allegedly violating New York Penal Laws 175.05 and 175.10 seven years ago.

That local prosecutor, Alvin Bragg, is a member of the Democratic Party – and the voters who elected Bragg and from whom the jury will be chosen support the Democratic Party. In 2016, the people of New York County voted 87% for Hillary Clinton and 10% for Donald Trump, and in 2020, 87% for Joe Biden and 12% for Donald Trump. In other words, the jury pool is chosen from one of the most partisan jurisdictions in the country – a place where almost all the judges are Democrats as well.

So the Democratic prosecutor elected in the second most Democratic county in the United States will try the former Republican president and current putative Republican Party presidential nominee before a Democrat-appointed judge and a jury drawn from a pool 87% of whom voted against him (and who are being asked if they watch Fox News or listen to talk radio in the screening process).

One wonders if the law even matters. But let’s review the two statutes at issue to highlight what the law requires the prosecution to prove. First, the prosecutor must prove that Trump violated the relevant statute, which requires a finding that he falsified business records with intent to defraud – that he “makes or causes a false entry in the business records of an enterprise.”

By the way, falsifying business records in the second degree is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Moreover, New York’s statute of limitations requires that misdemeanor prosecutions be commenced within two years of the commission of the act, meaning that under the last provision, this case should never have been filed.

Bragg elevated this misdemeanor into a felony by including New York  Penal Law 175.10 in the indictment – falsifying business records in the first degree. That statute reads this way:

“A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree, and when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.”

There are other obvious difficulties with this case beyond the credibility of the witnesses (a porn star who denied any affair numerous times and a disbarred lawyer convicted of perjury).

For example, why does the entry in the check register or the general ledger matter at all? When would those entries, as opposed to the allegedly false invoices, be shown to anyone for any nefarious purpose? And were the entries even false? Was there any intent to fool someone to obtain something in making the entries – who was the target of the allegedly false entry in private books and records? If there’s no mark, no victim, then how could there be an “intent to defraud”? Defraud whom? And what is the other crime that the person making the book entry intended to commit or hide? If the other crime is not a New York crime but a federal crime, does every county prosecutor in the United States, including Alvin Bragg, have the jurisdiction to enforce an alleged federal crime indirectly through a state crime?

We shall see.

The political nature of this trial is obvious, and unprecedented in the United States. Even with irrefutable DNA evidence that Bill Clinton committed perjury, the special prosecutor declined to press criminal charges against him. In America’s recent past, prosecutors tended to exhibit a modicum of restraint. Those days are apparently gone.

I reviewed an interesting law review article of political show trials down through history, from the trial of Socrates in Athens to the famous show trials in the 1930s Stalinist Soviet Union, curious to see if I could find historical precedent for this trial.

The closest precedent is probably Anne Boleyn’s trial for adultery in 1536. It was about sex, the trial was in a hostile jurisdiction controlled by her accuser, and the whole point of the exercise was to lop off the head of someone who stood in the way of the regime’s continuity. But that’s what Democrats have lusted for since Donald Trump first arrived on the scene, isn’t it? They made no secret of it.

Richard Porter is a lawyer in Chicago and National Committeeman to the RNC from Illinois.

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/18/2024 - 23:40
Published:4/19/2024 12:12:48 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:4/17/2024 8:27:32 AM
[Markets] House Managers To Deliver Mayorkas Impeachment Articles To Senate House Managers To Deliver Mayorkas Impeachment Articles To Senate

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas at the U.S. Capitol, on April 10, 2024. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Two counts of impeachment against Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, approved on Feb. 13 by the House of Representatives, are to be formally presented to the U.S. Senate today.

Eleven House members previously named as impeachment managers will walk from the lower chamber through Statuary Hall in the Capitol and then to the Senate in a brief ceremony that has been repeated only 17 times since the first Congress in 1789. House Democrats did so twice after impeaching former President Donald Trump in 2020 and 2021.

Eight of the 17 Senate impeachment trials resulted in convictions, while nine ended without convictions. A two-thirds majority of the Senate is required to convict an impeached officer of the federal government. Neither former President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton in 1998, nor President Andrew Johnson in 1868 were convicted.

Senate rules require the House managers to read the two counts in the Senate chamber. Then Senate Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will swear the senators in as jurors. A written summons will be issued to Mr. Mayorkas for him to appear, which he may or may not choose to heed.

The senators will then have an opportunity to adopt rules governing how the trial will be conducted. The rules adopted by the Senate in 1986 were in place for the Clinton and Trump trials.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to enter a motion either to dismiss or table the two impeachment counts against Mr. Mayorkas. Earlier this year, Mr. Schumer described the House impeachment action as a “sham.”

With public anger over the more than 8 million illegal immigrants allowed to enter the country under President Joe Biden, Mr. Schumer is determined to avoid a public trial during which the House managers can be expected to present evidence demonstrating Mr. Mayorkas acted at the direction of the chief executive.

Senate Republicans, led by senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, and Roger Marshall of Kansas will attempt to bring multiple points of order against Mr. Schumer’s motion.

If any one of the GOP points of order is approved by a simple majority of the Senate, the motion will be defeated and the trial will commence. But Ms. Murray is not obligated under Senate rules to recognize any of the senators offering points of order, so none of their objections may be heard on the Senate floor.

Should the Senate trial go forward, the House managers will present their evidence, and defenders of Mr. Mayorkas from among the Senate Democratic majority will respond. At some point thereafter, a rollcall vote will be taken, which is expected to fail to reach the required two-thirds for conviction.

At that point, Mr. Mayorkas will be able to continue performing his duties but he will go into the history books as only the second presidential cabinet member to be impeached.

The first was Secretary of War William W. Belknap, who resigned in 1876 after the House passed five counts of impeachment against him. The Senate failed to convict Mr. Belknap, who was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant.

Article I of the measure accuses Mr. Mayorkas of a “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and claims that “in large part because of his unlawful conduct, millions of aliens have illegally entered the United States on an annual basis with many unlawfully remaining in the United States.”

His refusal to obey the law is not only an offense against the separation of powers in the Constitution of the United States, it also threatens our national security and has had a dire impact on communities across the country,” it reads.

Article II accuses Mr. Mayorkas of breaching the public’s trust by having “knowingly made false statements, and knowingly obstructed lawful oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, principally to obfuscate the results of his willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to the press after the Democratic Party's weekly luncheon at the U.S. Capitol, on March 6, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The 20-page impeachment resolution contains two articles with multiple examples of laws Mr. Mayorkas is alleged to have ignored or refused to enforce and illustrations of his blocking congressional oversight, including not producing requested copies of documents.

Democratic House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), walk out of the Senate Chamber in the Capitol, on Feb. 13, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

The House managers, all Republicans, include Mr. Green, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Reps. Mike McCaul of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, Ben Cline of Virginia, Michael Guest of Mississippi, Andrew Garbarino of New York, August Pfluger of Texas, Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Laurel Lee of Florida.

ZeroPointNow Tue, 04/16/2024 - 10:30
Published:4/16/2024 10:19:52 AM
[Markets] UnitedHealth swings to a loss but stock surges after adjusted profit beats views Health insurer books a near $700 million hit from Change Healthcare hack during the quarter, sees more costs coming Published:4/16/2024 6:54:26 AM
[] You're Not Going to Believe How Much Biden's Student Loan Bribe Will Cost Taxpayers Published:4/13/2024 10:54:16 AM
[World] With French under fire, Mali uses AI to bring local language to students As the popularity of French wanes, RobotsMali is using AI to create books in Bambara. Published:4/13/2024 1:08:04 AM
[Markets] The Political Left Has Proven Beyond A Doubt That They Are Authoritarians The Political Left Has Proven Beyond A Doubt That They Are Authoritarians

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us,

Nearly 20 years ago when I started my work in the independent media the common mantra among my peers was noting the existence of the “false left/right paradigm” – The idea that Democrats and Republicans were essentially the same and were working towards the same exact authoritarian goals. This was before the Ron Paul movement and the libertarian/patriot shift within conservative circles when Neocons (fake conservatives) dominated all Republican discourse.

In the 16 years since there has been some interesting developments at the state level, with a return to true conservative and constitutional principles. Conservative ideals were on the verge of death in the early 2000s, but thanks to Ron Paul and others there has been a resurgence. The false left/right paradigm still applies in many ways and we have to remain vigilant, but the most blatant RINO frauds are quickly losing favor.

Nihilists (and paid federal provocateurs) will constantly claim we aren’t making any progress, but consider this: Decades ago conservatives used to clamor to defend people like John McCain, Lindsay Graham or Mitt Romney, now they despise such fakes (McCain was hated by most conservatives well before he died). Times are changing; this is a fact, and we need to acknowledge the positive move forward.

This is not to say that Americans should rely on politics to fix our national problems, but it would be a lie to claim that there are no political representatives on our side. A common argument against right leaning movements is that conservative ideals are “poorly defined” and that we “don’t stand for anything.” This is simply not true.  In fact, it’s leftists that are constantly changing their positions like they have schizophrenia. Conservatives have been far more consistent in comparison.

The guidelines are relatively easy to understand – Conservatives and liberty activists support a return to constitutional governance, the protection of the Bill of Rights, free markets, meritocracy, the right to choose associations, truth in media, secure borders, the protection of children from exploitation, keeping America out of foreign entanglements, moral and accountable leadership, etc. The degree to which leaders can adhere to these parameters determines how much trust they earn, and trust is the only currency that matters these days.

Do we disagree on certain nuances of these issues? Of course. We aren’t like leftists following a central hive mind, always afraid of being canceled by the mob; we argue. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as we unify on basic tenets and principles.

Democrats (and leftists in general) on the other hand have gone in the complete opposite direction. If there was ever a time when the average leftist and conservative could find common ground, that time was LONG gone. Many leftists used to be pro-individual rights; today they argue incessantly against personal liberty as if it’s dangerous to society. They used to be anti-war; now they froth at the mouth over countries like Russia and press for WWIII without any rational thought. Their methods have become violent, vicious, egregious in execution as they adopt an “ends justify the means” approach.

The political left does not care about what is right. They do not care about what is true. They only care about “winning.”

It is this leftist infatuation with the dark side that is driving the US to the edge of civil war. Would a candidate like Trump be taken as seriously under normal political conditions? It’s hard to say – He wasn’t taken very seriously in 2012. However, when Democrats started to go full bore authoritarian suddenly Trump became very appealing to conservative voters.

Why? Because he represents a big middle finger to the communists, a bull in the china shop. If you want to piss off authoritarian Democrats trying to control what you say and what you think, you put Trump in their faces for another 4 years. Does this fix our underlying national problems? No, not in the slightest. In fact, I still believe Trump distracts patriots from what really needs to be done. I’m convinced that, at this stage, only war will resolve the issue. Voting for Trump is a good way to enrage the woke cry-bullies, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for wanting that, but any real return to honor and order would have to be implemented by the public, not the government.

The deeper problem is one of unavoidable cultural division – Conservatives and patriots cannot live side-by-side with rabid leftists, nor can we accept a leftist controlled government. They have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they intend to destroy every aspect of western culture and institute a regime of oppression.

So much has happened recently that I fear many Americans will become overwhelmed and forget the recent trespasses of leftists.  In case you had any doubts at all or know people that still defend them, here are just a handful of examples of the worst authoritarian crimes committed by Democrats in the past four years alone…

Weaponizing The Legal System Using Selective Prosecution

When Democrats talk about “equity” in criminal justice, what they are referring to is the unbalanced application of law depending on the ethnicity or political beliefs of the people being charged. The most blatant example being the kangaroo court for the Jan 6th event and their attempt to lock up conservative protesters as “insurrectionists.”

Not a single death occurred due to protesters, property damage was minimal and capitol police INCITED the riot by firing rubber bullets and CS gas into the otherwise peaceful crowd. Yet, the protesters were painted by Dems and the media as monsters trying to “destroy democracy.”

Compare this to the Democrat response to the BLM and Antifa riots across the US since 2016 in which dozens were killed, thousands of police injured, billions in property damage and multiple government buildings attacked. These people tried to hold the country hostage, yet, the vast majority of those that were actually arrested were released and never charged by Democrat District Attorneys and prosecutors. The media even portrayed them as heroes.

If Jan 6th had been a far-left protest, there would have been no commission and no one would be in jail for 10-20 years today. There are numerous examples of selective prosecution targeting patriots and the message is clear – “If you defy us in any way, we have no problem misusing the legal system to crush you.”

Pandemic Hysteria And Medical Tyranny

Did some Republicans initially support the covid lockdowns? Yes. When it became clear that covid was a non-threat did they end the lockdowns in their own states? Yes, surprisingly most of them did.

Half the states in the US (all red states) blocked attempts to continue the pandemic lockdowns. These same states also passed legislation to disrupt any future attempts at lockdowns or vaccine passports. And, all the governors and legislators involved were accused by Democrats and the media of “killing Americans” because of their defense of freedom.

In reality, these states along with conservatives across the country defeated a draconian agenda that almost brought the US to the brink of full spectrum medical tyranny. Democrats and globalists tried to use covid as an opportunity to institute sweeping anti-liberty mandates without checks and balances. Some of rules they wanted to put in place included:

  • Forced vaccination.

  • No employment for the unvaccinated.

  • No access to public spaces for the unvaccinated.

  • No access to normal medical treatment for the unvaccinated.

  • House arrest for the unvaccinated.

  • Fines for the unvaccinated.

  • Jail time for people speaking against the mandates or vaccines.

  • Government tracking of the unvaccinated.

  • Taking children away from the unvaccinated.

  • Secret vaccination of children at public schools without knowledge of parents.

  • Mass online censorship of anyone presenting information contrary to the government narrative.

Some Democrats including Biden even threatened to go “door-to-door” to vaccinate individuals, though the official position was that they would instead seek to “make life so hard” for the unvaxxed that anyone in refusal would eventually be forced to comply. Luckily their plans failed.  The CDC published a bunch of unverified stats claiming most Americans were vaccinated, no one took the boosters and the agenda fizzled into the background.  That said, it’s important that we never forget what happened.

The true nature of the political left was exposed from 2020-2023, and the difference between conservatives and leftists was made undeniably clear – Red states were made free. Blue states tried to keep authoritarianism in place. Democrats embraced medical tyranny, conservatives did not. Conservatives left blue states (and blue cities) in droves because they were oppressive, red states gained millions of people and turned a deeper shade of red.  This is reality.

Targeting Children For Indoctrination And Exploitation

There’s no surer sign of authoritarianism than a group that recruits children as foot soldiers using political indoctrination under the noses of parents. Democrats and the woke movement have taken the mask off completely when it comes to America’s youth.

The widespread used of woke symbols such a pride flags in public schools and libraries. The use of drag queen performances (often sexual) as a means to normalize baseless gender fluid theories, mental illness and sexual aberration. State government funding of sexualized content including graphic lessons and books for young kids. The list goes on and on.

I can’t think of anything more insidious and evil as the leftist attempt to hijack American children as a weapon for their political coup. And make no mistake, the woke movement is not a movement for equality, it’s a communist and collectivist insurgency. They see children as tools, not as people.

Democrats are going so far as to pass laws allowing children to engage in sex change procedures including hormone blockers and surgeries without parental consent. This is a monstrous policy that needs to be snuffed out immediately. Children are not capable of consent.

Again, all this is being done in the name of winning. What is moral or ethical never crosses their minds.

Mass Censorship And The Demonization Of “Radical Speech”

Who nominated the Democrats to become the arbiters of acceptable speech? Well, they nominated themselves, and the protections of the 1st Amendment are being quietly degraded every day we allow them to continue acting as if they are the thought police.

The new term being thrown around in 2024 is “radical speech”, meaning any speech that runs contrary to “diversity, equity and inclusion” requirements, or any speech that contradicts the preeminence of the official narrative. Understand that “radical speech” is an arbitrary label; one has to consider what the legitimate consequences are and what the intent is.

For a Democrat, any speech that is detrimental to their goal of extorting public support for their policies suddenly becomes “radical.” The label is designed to elicit images of terrorism and fascism, as if mere words are magical and can compel the public to do great evil without them realizing it. This is childish fantasy based on projection. It’s leftists (collectivists) that believe words have magical powers, and so they put great emphasis on controlling speech in general.

I would partially agree, only in the fact that lies do have power to evoke emotional responses, but the only way to combat lies is with the truth. Anyone who says that the best way to combat lies is to use mass censorship is a liar. Democrats lean heavily on mass censorship, as we have seen with nearly every Big Tech social media platform and corporate news platform in the past few years.

The bottom line is this – When someone tells you exactly who they are, believe them. When a group of people show through a host of actions that they are authoritarians, they should not be allowed anywhere near power. It’s time to rethink our ongoing political relationship here in America and consider whether or not we should continue to live with a political movement that has made it so abundantly clear that they are hostile to freedom.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 04/12/2024 - 23:40
Published:4/12/2024 10:44:55 PM
[] Librarian Encouraged Libraries to Have Books and You Won't Believe What Happened Next Published:4/10/2024 4:27:24 PM
[] Pathetic and Weak: Scrabble Introduces 'Less Competitive', 'More Inclusive' Version for Gen Z Published:4/10/2024 4:04:26 PM
[Markets] Treasury Debt - Pristine Collateral Or A Red Flag Treasury Debt - Pristine Collateral Or A Red Flag

Via Charts and Parts Substack,

Intro

Spoiler alert: we have another red flag in the treasury market.  

The latest talk is to eliminate treasury holdings from the SLR (Supplemental Liquidity Ratio) calculation, which is used to determine how much banks need to set-aside to help “manage risk”.

Seen This Show Before

The Covid crisis brought about market chaos.  To manage the steep and fast decline, The Fed jumped into action and cut rates to zero and birthed QE infinity.  They also eliminated the banks’ reserve requirements.  The rule sounds just like it reads: banks no longer had to hold any reserves against deposit liabilities.  We already know there is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program, so this reckless policy still exists today.

We’ll remind our readers that we try to over-simply to make a point. The system and web of rules are extremely complex, especially when it comes to the plumbing of the treasury market.

Another handout occurred last year when we witnessed more bank failures than the 2008 GFC (Great Financial Crisis).  The big accommodative move to save the system was to allow banks to mark their (treasury) bond portfolio at “par” (100%), to avoid taking portfolio losses.  This was timely and convenient, as the TLT (Treasury Bond ETF) lost roughly 30% in 2022.  As a result of the 2022 bond market route (worst ever), the system is stuck with a pile of losses on the books.

Liquidity vs. Transparency

All these rule changes are meant to help “liquify” the system, thus reduce the odds of a systematic shock of sorts.  But these new rules come at the expense of transparency. We’re never quite sure who is holding what, thus we can lose track of where the land mines reside.

By allowing banks to not “mark-to-market” we lose transparency and more importantly, we lose more price discovery.  Because the government buys their own bonds, long ago we lost price discovery of the most important price of all - interest rates: the price of “money”. 

For 10-years we saw interest rates manipulated lower as debts and deficits soared ever higher.  This meant that the US (and many other countries) were able to borrow at cheaper and cheaper rates, even as their debts and deficits were ballooning.  We will reiterate a favorite C&P quote from a recent presentation, “This is an amazingly simple divergence (rates lower and debt higher) that defies every rule, concept, and bit of logic in financial markets.”

Third Times a Charm

The new SLR rule change could allow banks to be an endless buyer of treasury debt.  

Through that lens, this rule makes a lot of sense.  Especially as treasury issuance is testing the Covid highs even though the emergency is long gone. 

Said another way, we supposedly have a strong economy, yet the Treasury is selling/issuing bonds at a rate last seen during the Covid crisis.

The Close

How convenient for the banks -- to be able to buy treasuries, take no haircut, and not have to worry about mark-to-market losses.  All just in time, as issuances are taking on a life of their own.

It is also worth noting that our deeper dive into The Great Taking revealed that the bond market is also fractionalized (not enough to go around/some bonds held on the books by more than one owner).

It sounds like a risky proposition to keep calling our government bonds “pristine collateral”, “risk-free”, or a “safe-haven asset”.

Tyler Durden Wed, 04/10/2024 - 06:30
Published:4/10/2024 5:38:53 AM
[Markets] Insurers Spy On Houses Via Aerial Imagery, Seeking Reasons To Cancel Coverage Insurers Spy On Houses Via Aerial Imagery, Seeking Reasons To Cancel Coverage

Insurance companies across the country are using satellites, drones, manned airplanes and even high-altitude balloons to spy on properties they cover with homeowners policies -- and using the findings to drop customers, often without giving any opportunity to address alleged shortcomings. 

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase across the country in reports from consumers who’ve been dropped by their insurers on the basis of an aerial image,” United Policyholders executive director Amy Bach tell the Wall Street Journal. Reasons can range from shoddy roofing to yard clutter and undeclared trampolines.  

Much of this surveillance is done via the Geospatial Insurance Consortium, which boasts of its coverage of 99% of the US population.

The Geospatial Insurance Consortium provides imagery insurers use to study roof condition and look for risky property attributes (via GIC)

In pitching its ability to provide high-resolution "imagery and insights" for property reviews, GIC says insurers can use the service to "review risk and exposure on a building such as proximity of vegetation to the structure, whether a roof needs updating, and verify the exact location for a policy." 

“If your roof is 20 years old and one hailstorm is going to take it off, you should pay more than somebody with a brand new roof,” Allstate CEO Tom Willson told the Journal, unapologetically and ominously adding that, where the company's use of digital imagery is concerned, "there's even more to come." 

Wilson framed aerial spying as a pricing issue, but many consumers are finding that companies are using it to suddenly drop their coverage altogether. 

The Journal describes the experience of northern California resident Cindy Picos, who was dropped by CSAA Insurance last month, with the company saying aerial imagery revealed that her roof had aged beyond its life expectancy. She paid for an inspection of her own, which found the roof was good for another decade. CSAA wasn't impressed, and said its decision was final. The firm also refused to share its photos, though it now says it's changed that policy and will let customers see them -- if they ask. 

Another Californian, CJ Sveen, was dropped by AAA Homeowners Insurance after their reconnaissance discovered "clutter" in his yard. An indignant Sveen told ABC7 that he uses his yard as a workshop "Apparently they have some pictures and they noticed clutter. I find that offensive. How dare you judge me because of my stuff!"

In AAA's defense, clutter isn't just about aesthetics. It could present a fire hazard, attract rodents that harm the structure, present a physical danger to visitors, and obstruct firefighters' ability to quickly contain a fire at the premises. 

Would you cover this house? CJ Sveen's homeowners policy was cancelled after aerial imagery captured clutter in his yard

Another California couple had their policy torn up by AAA after overhead photography found their swimming pool had been drained. The aging pair said they emptied it because their grandchildren had grown up and they no longer used it. Empty pools are prone to cracking for lack of counter-pressure from water; they can also "float" up from the earth, creating hazardous conditions. 

Former Michigan Farmers Insurance agent Nichole Brink told the Journal she quit the company last year over her concern that it was aggressively using aerial imagery to chase off customers, and even using shots that were two or three years old. "It’s like they’re using anything as an excuse to get people off their books,” she said. Farmers says it gives policyholders at least 60 days to challenge the company's findings or remedy shortcomings.

It's probably no coincidence that Californians are frequently targeted for non-renewal via overhead spy technology. Insurers are aggressively paring back their business in the state, as the state's thicket of regulations has blocked insurers' ability to adequately charge for coverage in a state cursed by wildfires and earthquakes.  

Last year, for example, State Farm said it would no longer issue new homeowners policies in the Golden State. The, in March, the company took the more draconian step of opting not to renew 72,000 property and commercial apartment policies. AIG bailed on the state in 2022. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 04/08/2024 - 23:20
Published:4/8/2024 10:33:33 PM
[Markets] America Is Hurtling Toward A Full-Blown Hot Civil War America Is Hurtling Toward A Full-Blown Hot Civil War

Authored by Justin Smith via The Burning Platform blog,

It never ceases to amaze me at how little so many people in this country have done to train their minds to critically analyze information. They have eyes to see and ears to see, and yet, somehow the truth of any major issue still seems to evade them, or they simply refuse to recognize the truth with it standing right in front of them, slapping them in the face.

So many things are currently plumb damned fouled up by this Biden regime and going awry on their own through the dynamics set in motion by this anti-American, lawless regime, that it’s nearly impossible to properly address them all in a single commentary. But I’ve tried to give the Reader as comprehensive an assessment as I possibly can with this piece.

Michael Savage, a longtime renown radio host, was fond of noting that “liberalism is a mental disorder” and we’re witnessing the result of its heavy utilization for far too many years without being grounded in common sense and a certain amount of pragmatic realism. And so here we are, on the cusp of the final fall of America, short of a miracle from God or true patriots taking a firm stand with rifles in hand and refusing to give an inch of ground and any further movement towards the new world order desired by our amerikkan commies.

It might sound quaint and out of touch with what some have now accepted as “the new normal”, but I say we should all wrap ourselves in the American Flag and send out the clarion call for a rush of strong, capable men to come to the aid of their country, in a manner as never before.

~ J.O.S.

“I may be crazy. But it’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ Ivor Browne, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University College Dublin [2017]

In an ideal and perfect world, all Americans would be following a righteously guided conscience and their better angels, and they could trust that their elected leaders were doing likewise; but, we live in a far from perfect world or society, and the fools of the country have abandoned Christian kindness, the Golden Rule and humanity for the evil of trans-humanism. Heartwarming words advocating for true freedom and liberty are far and few between in today’s society and political arenas, in a manner not too unlike the years between 1850 and 1860 that led to the Civil War; and tho’ some on both side of the political aisle still exude goodness in a way that makes each day seem a bit brighter, by and large, the Democratic Party has been completely infiltrated by Marxist-Maoist Communists, who are driving the nation towards the darkest tyranny and bloodiest days ever witnessed in America, as they attempt to stamp out the tenderness and beauty in each person’s soul and reduce us all to mere mindless cogs in their authoritarian machine.

Look around. Half or more of America’s citizenry have lost their minds and are six steps or more removed from reality, either due to the mind-numbing communist indoctrination they have absorbed from their “education” in the public school system, something genetic or a trauma from their life, some new maniacal drug that has them hooked and out of their minds, or a combination of all three.

Some would suggest that we set about immediately reforming public education to promote and defend the ideas that originally built America, but we don’t have time to change hearts and minds to counter a movement that started over a hundred years ago and now sits on the cusp of being able to solidify its current stranglehold on America, if the tide swings its way in the 2024 Election or they are able to steal the election through current fraud facilitating mechanisms. Although we can still move to properly educate the next generation in a newly reformed education system or through homeschool, now is the time to organize and assemble those within the country who already know and hold to the truth of American principles and all the freedom and liberty that follow — time to gather our like-minded American patriots and those Lions of Liberty who have had enough of witnessing this America we love so well so sorely abused, put upon and assaulted.

It doesn’t help when we have self-serving, corrupt people in high office promising to save the gullible and ill-informed from their hell and the misery it brings, if only they will support more madness to be placed in U.S. code. Vote for more economy killing “climate change” change regulations and initiatives and “we’ll put more money on your EBT cards, courtesy of Uncle Sam and the American taxpayer”. “Help us make sure the government has the final say over everybody’s children and can kill babies as they exit the birthing canal, and we’ll make certain you get privilege over all other Americans”, one can almost hear Traitor Joe whispering in some dimly lit concert hall. “You can be a champion among champions”, they say — “Let us help you change your gender”.

And if anyone stands in your way in the pursuit of any evil, it is they who will be called evil and fallen upon by the full weight of the U.S. Federal Government.

Oh yea. And as if that isn’t bad enough, Biden is now moving as fast as he can to forgive $144 billion more in student loans. He plans to announce this on Monday, April 8th 2024, and for anyone with eyes to see, this is simply corruption at its worst and Biden buying votes in the upcoming presidential election. What a slap in the face of Americans who couldn’t afford to go to college but now will be forced to bear the tax burden this move will bring.

I see the immorality growing every day, the people who revel in its evil, freaks from some futuristic sideshow that bodes ill and speaks to the destruction of humanity. and with each passing day, I find myself moving farther and farther away from those with whom I have little or nothing in common with, adrift from most of humanity too. Not in any manner that lends itself to any sadness over my situation, but rather as if to say “whew” in a realization of the relief that has come by way of my separation from those I despise most.

It’s sort of like I’m standing on the river bank watching the “ship of fools” sailing over the river falls in denial of their own mortality, thinking their crazy ideas will save them and hold them invincible, or worse, knowing they are going to die and not caring who they drag to Hell along with them. They think we’re crazy for defending America’s righteous and true founding principles and virtues and the liberty associated with them, and we think them mad for denying God, reality and the best mankind has to offer in exchange for an evil, unrestrained, immoral freedom that is no freedom at all, a bringer of Death.

Since 1965, the communists within the federal government, Congress and many state and local governments have essentially separated us and pitted us against one another as one aggrieved group or another, some special interest and through identity politics and racial hatred. They broke us into tribes and acted as if the represented each, all the while setting in place mechanisms that made us serfs to the government, The Leviathan, and reducing us all to poverty as they have gradually destroyed the bulk of the middle class in our country. The Constitution is so degraded and eroded now that any tyrant can impose his will by way of one flourish of a pen, which Traitor Joe has done through 118 executive orders, bypassing Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.

We have a national debt that’s rapidly approaching $35 trillion and counting, that to be sure rests on the shoulders of both parties, but it couldn’t have arrived to this abysmal point without both Marxist-Maoists and RINOs accepting the tenets of the Marxist-Keynesian Modern Monetary Theory and the notion that any one nation could print and borrow an endless supply of money forever without any terrible consequence, which is currently being proven wrong. Our people struggle to pay for food and rent and new high mortgage rates have put home ownership out of reach for this new Generation Z that is coming up and expecting a successful way of life to be attainable in some form or fashion, even tho’ many of them are a great part of the problem, some thirty percent claiming to be either queer themselves or supportive of the LGBTQ sickness running rampant through American society, advocating for every known sexual perversion and deviancy one might care to mention.

Several decades ago, I realized every government in the world was using a Keynesian debt-based system, printing money as if there was no end to real assets or backing for it. Basically, the world had gone mad, as the greed of its so-called “leaders” knew no bounds, and the various governments of the world basically accepted the use of monopoly money. The charade is ongoing and the casino open, that is, ’til those at the very top decide to call in their markers and usher in the final forced phase of The Great Reset.

In 2008, as I watched the near total collapse of our economic system and heard George [Bush] say that we had to temporarily abandon the free market capitalist system in order to save it, I received a strong sense that America may have peaked and was as good as it was going to get from there on out. I had a feeling that things were only going to continue to decline, especially as one major corporation after the next receive a taxpayer funded bailout after being deemed “too big to fail”.

In unbelievable fashion, when the largest economic collapse in U.S. history hit in March 2020, to be followed by the Covid Lockdowns, pushed and kept going for years by traitors to America, such as Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, many of us saw it for the fraud it was. Still, whole swaths of our cultural freedoms and norms were very nearly destroyed, as a timid American people complied, by and large, because they couldn’t simply stand on their hind feet and tell the government despots “NO”. Even now, as many careers no longer exist and jobs are disappearing like cotton-candy on a rainy day, far too many, especially the communists among us, hold to the delusion that all is well and deny that out-of-control spending and massive national debt really do matter for the health of the nation’s economy.

Who could have possibly known at the time — other than those Deep State bad actors behind the curtain — that this was a dire harbinger of things to come and but one of the first precursors to a validation of this current system of economic fascism as the preeminent and defining feature of what everyone still mistakenly calls our “free market capitalist system”. Who knew that — if one believes Obama and now Biden — the cure for debt was more debt; the cure for greed was more greed, and that envy of the neighbors’ possessions was perfectly acceptable, even if one easily walked on over to take them by force, through armed robbery. And who could have foreseen that every Marxist-Maoist of the Democratic Party would become modern day Jezebels, condemning the innocent by way of one false accusation after another, paving the way for a vile new phenomena and way of life for the misguided youth of America.

But never in my wildest imagination did I expect to see every single government institution corrupted to its very core and heavily infiltrated by men and women seeking to destroy traditional America — to “transform America” — and bring great harm to all Americans in the process, as evil was called “good” and good was called “evil”, turning the world upside down as foretold in Isaiah 5:20, as we all witnessed in 2020, driven by the Democratic Party Communists and fascists and globalists of the country, for the most part. Never did I expect to see U.S. science so corrupted and in denial of real science, reality itself, as supposedly “educated” people were soon trying to convince the entire nation that men could really become women and women could become men — that men actually have periods and can have babies.

And as the American people continue to fail to mount a strong and passionate rejection or effective defense against the current climate change directives from the Biden regime, the Biden regime has just recently [January 26th] ordered our international export of natural gas and natural gas extraction to be placed on hold; and it’s still on hold as of this writing [April 5th], while its impact on the environment is further scrutinized. And in the meantime, the movement towards greater control over our society by way of a digital currency is gaining momentum.

I don’t think the Biden regime is going to be able to control much of anything once they completely destroy America’s energy infrastructure and our efficacy as an worldwide energy powerhouse, as we were under the Trump administration. It’s going to be damned difficult to control anything without electricity, fossil fuels or heat, and all hell will be unleashed once Americans start being forced to sit in the dark, shivering in the cold or sweltering in the heat.

When I hear Rachel “Mad-Cow” Maddow and Chris “Cry-baby” Matthews talking about Republicans who support Trump being members of a cult with “crazy ideas”, I think how ironic, that they are perfectly describing themselves and their ilk. They are so insane that they don’t even recognize themselves in that description or what it is that they don’t know; they call themselves “the normal people” as their despot leader, Traitor Joe, dismantles and tears the American republic down around the shoulders of all Americans.

In listening to many proponents of the Democratic Party Communist platform and agenda — Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer for three in particular — I cannot help but wonder when did the wards for the mentally ill release all the inmates. And so here we are in America, where the inmates of mental institutions, federal prisons, Illegal Aliens, drug dealers and sexual deviants and child predators are running the country and the Oval Office today.

I have noted in several past articles, I do believe the “united States” is currently hurling down a path on a fast track to a full blown, hot civil war. What will emerge will either be a nation squashed under an iron-fisted communist government or a people united in freedom and liberty under a limited government, restrained from ever growing or overreaching as the current Federal System has allowed and the Biden regime has done, trampling on the entire Constitution and our Inalienable God-given Rights in the process.

Although I refuse to accept any excuse for the far-reaching, incredible and massive ignorance of so many of my countrymen in this day of the internet and information, with books aplenty in every public library too, there are an unbelievable number who accumulate scores, even hundreds, of bits and pieces of the bigger picture without the ability or the will to put them together to reach any worthwhile conclusion aimed at formulating a proper course of action to resist this current totalitarian-minded movement and save themselves, their families and communities and America herself. They do not currently seem to have any real sense of urgency, unless one looks at leadership in Texas and Florida and the current manufactured border crisis.

Twenty-five state governors stood alongside Governor Abbot of Texas in the border dispute with the Biden regime, and the Governor of South Carolina sent his own National Guardsmen to the border to assist the Texas National Guard and Texas’s various law enforcement agencies who are in this struggle for America’s survival. So although I was speaking of the average citizen in the preceding paragraph, there are some holding key positions who see the rapidly approaching existential threats to all America and are reacting with a high level of urgency and accordingly, using everything within their power to stop this one segment of the madness emanating from the Biden regime.

America has been cleaved into two separate and antithetical ideologies — two opposing worldviews — with the communists and radical takers of the country supporting a dark vision of tyranny and the conservatives and independent producers supporting the light of truth and a vision of freedom and liberty. They are both hanging in the balance and waiting for gravity or some monumental event to throw the lever that moves them to act and take the country by storm, with the Democrats willing to use every illegal means imaginable.

The heavy infiltration of Illegal Aliens from many foreign countries that are unfriendly or outright enemies of America is one more dynamic and issue of concern for all who love America, since they will certainly come down on the side which is trying to destroy America. No one should be oblivious to the fact that various “sleeper cells” of Hamas and Hezbollah have been in America for several decades now. Taken in conjunction with thousands of military aged Chinese men entering the country illegally the coming chaos will be Biblical in proportion to anything we have witnessed in all American history.

Nineteenth century French economist and writer, Frederic Bastiat could have been speaking of America today and the situation She currently finds Herself, as he once stated:

“When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”

Americans from all across the country have either been complicit in this current treason to “fundamentally transform America”, into something strange and foreign to the Founding, or they have simply been so complacent as to allow the country to fall to her enemies-from-within, in a manner that’s proving fairly damned tough to counter for the moment due to a litany of reasons, from lawfare against conservative and independent patriots to the outright targeting of American patriots by the FBI and the DOJ. But basically, the nation is just about to reap the full, terrible consequences of what was sown so many decades ago, and everyone had better prepare as best as they can.

We can’t stop what is headed down the road towards us, no matter if we stopped all unnecessary spending or the invasion at the border today — not if we outlawed all deviancy, abuse of children through gender assignment and men competing in women’s sports, or started drilling for oil and gas like crazy overnight. The die has been cast, and no one single man or woman, sitting in the Oval Office, can change what is coming, not Trump or RFK, JR or anyone else who wants to give it a try.

All good and decent Americans, who can still remember what America used to be or who have been well taught from childhood and know what a great nation — an exceptional nation — She has been in years gone by, will soon be forced to fight against enemies-from-within and foreign enemies supported by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations, so that our friends, families and communities can survive this period and freedom and liberty shall not perish in our land. And as we fight, we must pray and hope that our side emerges victoriously from the din and cacophony of the conflagration and chaos, in order that we may purge the land of those who hate America and restore Her to a land that truly understands what “equality under the law” actually means, to be governed in a manner that actually defends and protects the Inalienable God-given Rights for all, restoring America as something better than She has been in a long, long time.

This is the war that lays ahead of us, looming just over the horizon, and our very lives and the lives of our loved ones depend on our success. The death of America as She has stood is guaranteed, unless liberty-minded patriots rise from the ashes of the next civil war. That is the reality and the future we now must face.

Keep ringing the bell … the Liberty Bell and the sound of Freedom from sea to shining sea.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/06/2024 - 23:20
Published:4/6/2024 10:44:57 PM
[Markets] Combating "Hate": The Trojan Horse For Precrime Combating "Hate": The Trojan Horse For Precrime

Authored by Conor Gallagher via Naked Capitalism,

Philip K. Dick’s 1956 novella The Minority Report created “precrime,” the clairvoyant foreknowledge of criminal activity as forecast by mutant “precogs.” The book was a dystopian nightmare, but a 2015 Fox television series transforms the story into one in which a precog works with a cop and shows that data is actually effective at predicting future crime.

Canada is trying to enact a precrime law along the lines of the 2015 show, but it is being panned about as much as the television series. Ottawa’s online harms bill includes a provision to impose house arrest on someone who is feared to commit a hate crime in the future. From The Globe and Mail:

The person could be made to wear an electronic tag, if the attorney-general requests it, or ordered by a judge to remain at home, the bill says. Mr. Virani, who is Attorney-General as well as Justice Minister, said it is important that any peace bond be “calibrated carefully,” saying it would have to meet a high threshold to apply.

But he said the new power, which would require the attorney-general’s approval as well as a judge’s, could prove “very, very important” to restrain the behaviour of someone with a track record of hateful behaviour who may be targeting certain people or groups…

People found guilty of posting hate speech could have to pay victims up to $20,000 in compensation. But experts including internet law professor Michael Geist have said even a threat of a civil complaint – with a lower burden of proof than a court of law – and a fine could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

While this is a dangerous step in Canada, I also wonder if this is where burgeoning “anti-hate” programs across the US are headed. The Canadian bill would also allow “people to file complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission over what they perceive as hate speech online – including, for example, off-colour jokes by comedians.”

There are now programs in multiple US states to do just that –  encourage people to snitch on anyone doing anything perceived as “hateful.”

The 2021 federal COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act began to dole out money to states to help them respond to hate incidents. Oregon now has its Bias Response Hotline to track “bias incidents.”

In December of 2022, New York launched its Hate and Bias Prevention Unit. Maryland, too, has its system – its hate incidents examples include “offensive jokes” and “malicious complaints of smell or noise.”

Maryland also has its Emmett Till Alert System that sends out three levels of alerts for specific acts of hate. For now, they only go to black lawmakers, civil rights activists, the media and other approved outlets, but expansion to the general populace is under consideration.

California vs. Hate, a multilingual statewide hotline and website that encourages people to report all acts of “hate,” is coming up on its one-year anniversary, reportedly receiving a mere 823 calls from 79% of California’s 58 counties during its first nine months of operation. It looks like the program is rolling out even more social media graphics in a bid to get more reports:

A key question is why states like California are rushing to expand the definition of hate. Officials in the Golden State like Governor Gavin Newsom claimed it was because of a rise in reported hate crimes – up 33 percent from 2020 to 2021. A deeper look at the data, however, shows that Newsom is guilty of cherry picking. From Public:

But convictions of hate crimes have been flat. In 2012 there were 107 hate crime convictions in California. In 2021, there were 109, according to the same data. It’s possible that hate crimes really did rise by 80%, and juries decided not to give prosecutors convictions. …But it’s also possible that convictions stayed the same because there was no increase in prosecutable hate crimes. And it may be that Californian prosecutors simply labeled more crimes as “hate” crimes because they were primed to do so by the media’s 700% – 1,000% increased focus on racism between 2011 and 2020.

I’m likely omitting other states with similar programs, but it’s clear that there is a push across the country. No doubt, these efforts to eliminate hate also have other benefits for the ruling class.

In a state like California or New York, there is the added bonus that the program ends up being a massive giveaway to a key part of the Democratic base – the nonprofit industrial complex that is helping to bring this system into existence.

These programs also help spread fear that hate is around every corner, which could allow for an erosion of rights under the guise of eradicating “hate.”

There’s also the issue of who is providing the definitions for hate that go beyond the laws already on the books for hate crimes. The California Senate Public Safety Committee analysis stated the following about the CA vs. Hate program:

A hate incident is an action or behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

That leads to the question of why the state is encouraging people to report and is collecting information on legally protected “behavior.” And where does the expanded definition come from? The committee stated the following:

Define hate incidents with language provided by the Anti-Defamation League.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is a non-governmental organization based in the US, whose stated mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.”

But there’s a little more to it than that. In May 2022, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, announced that, “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.” He also labeled groups that want equal rights for Palestinians in Israel as “extremists” and likened Israel critics to white supremacists. More from Boston Review:

…the ADL has consistently sought to undermine the left, leveling a charge akin to dual loyalty: that the American left’s calls for redistribution of power, its solidarity with global movements, and its prioritization of people over states threaten the very concept of the state. Indeed the ADL, in addition to its stated mission of shoring up U.S. support for Israel, is deeply loyal to the U.S. state. The second is that the ADL has waged a long, vigorous, and successful campaign, alongside AIPAC, specifically to characterize Arab American political organizing as dual loyalty.

Maybe this isn’t an organization that should be defining hate for US governments. We have the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) for that.

In March South Dakota became the 35th state to codify the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism. The law requires the consideration of the definition of antisemitism when investigating unfair or discriminatory practices.That definition includes the traditional elements of antisemitism but also inserts elements that could move the state of Israel under antisemitic protections. Consider the following from the IHRA’s definition:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

A 2022 UK study published in Springer Nature found the following about the IHRA’s definition:

…pro-Israel activists can and have mobilised the IHRA document for political goals unrelated to tackling antisemitism, notably to stigmatise and silence critics of the Israeli government. This causes widespread self-censorship, has an adverse impact on freedom of speech, and impedes action against the unjust treatment of Palestinians. We also identify intrinsic problems in the way the definition refers to criticism of Israel similar ‘to that leveled against any other country’, ambiguous wording about ‘the power of Jews as a collective’, lack of clarity as to the Jewish people’s ‘right to self-determination’, and its denial of obvious racism.

Despite that effect, and despite the 2021 Hate Crimes Act, which provided more money and more programs to collect data on all “hate incidents,” there are still complaints that it all still isn’t enough because they don’t prevent “hate” but only address what takes place afterwards. To fix that, a precrime system will be necessary.

***

Predictive policing – which uses computer systems to help direct the deployment of police to crime hotspots – has been widely discredited as biased and worthless.

The Markup found that predictive policing does not work – at all. It took a look at efforts by Geolitica, known as PredPol until a 2021 rebrand, and its software that ingests data from crime incident reports and produces daily predictions on where and when crimes are most likely to occur. From The Markup:

We examined 23,631 predictions generated by Geolitica between Feb. 25 to Dec. 18, 2018 for the Plainfield Police Department (PD). Each prediction we analyzed from the company’s algorithm indicated that one type of crime was likely to occur in a location not patrolled by Plainfield PD. In the end, the success rate was less than half a percent.

It is also biased, despite efforts to make it less so. MIT Technology Review points out:

…many developers of predictive policing tools say that they have started using victim reports to get a more accurate picture of crime rates in different neighborhoods. In theory, victim reports should be less biased because they aren’t affected by police prejudice or feedback loops.

But a University of Texas study found this method still led to significant errors:

 For example, in a district where few crimes were reported, the tool predicted around 20% of the actual hot spots—locations with a high rate of crime. On the other hand, in a district with a high number of reports, the tool predicted 20% more hot spots than there really were.

While these predictive policing spatial models prove biased, what if to counter those criticisms you begin to roll out programs to “protect” minorities by preventing hate crimes? Could an approach that treats each individual as a collection of data points (including any “hate incidents”) be predictive of a future hate crime?

Efforts to do just that date back to at least the early 1970s. When UCLA tried to set up a center for the study of violence.The Center for the Long-Term Study of Life-Threatening Behavior was intended to re-think human functioning itself in terms of data and was going to compile behavioral data to understand crimes that were “in formation.”

The center never officially opened its doors, however, as it got caught in the backlash against psychosurgery when groups like the Black Panthers and Nader’s Raiders protested against it.

But the rethink of humans as a collection of data points that can predict crimes in formation never really went away, and is now inching closer to becoming a reality. What is Canada’s proposed law other than a method to use data to measure “dangerousness” and preemptively punish suspects?

As MIT Technology Review pointed out above, there are efforts underway to use victim reports to counteract bias, but the University of Texas study was still trying to use them to predict where a crime might occur and not who might commit the crime.

I should point out that it’s unclear what states are doing with all the info collected from reported hate incidents, particularly the details on the alleged perpetrators. I reached out to the California Civil Rights Division weeks ago to get an answer but have yet to receive a response.

There is a clear line of thinking that these hate incidents can be predictive of future crime, however. That’s what the Canadian bill claims. Back in 2019 NYU researchers claimed to use AI to show that “online hate” could be predictive of offline violence. Could all these efforts to gather data on hate “incidents” be laying the groundwork for precrime detention along the lines of what Canada is attempting?

For those who would like to see the adoption of a precrime system, one of the benefits of focusing on individuals and hate crimes is that it could help diffuse the bias criticism of predictive policing from groups typically suspicious of increased law enforcement powers. Indeed, many of the groups helping to implement the hate incident hotlines in US states are nonprofits focused on minority groups.

As the state efforts above show, the definition of what constitutes a bias or hate “incident” are slippery and many interested parties would like to shape that definition. Again, there are already hate crime laws on the books, and I have yet to encounter an explanation for why these laws are so ineffective that it’s necessary to encourage people to rat on one another in order to gather data on hate incidents.

Placed alongside burgeoning censorship efforts, it begins to make more sense. If we look at Canada’s effort to establish official pre-hate-crime law enforcement, it’s one that would mark the official end of free speech and lead to a dystopian society revolving around the fear of being targeted – either by an individual or AI.

Even without official precrime laws on the books, there are already ways that these efforts to combat “hate” are attempting to stifle speech. Naked Capitalism readers don’t have to look far for errors (or intentional targeting) in this system as Google’s AI targeted this site for “hateful content” among other alleged sins.

And there’s the issue with “hate.” It could mean a racist comment or action; it could also now refer to criticism of Israeli policy or a thought crime against the ruling class. It apparently does not refer to elite policy in California, for example, where the gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest percentiles increased to 15.51 years in 2021 (which seems like the hateful result of hateful policies if you ask me). What happens if Californians begin to make hateful comments about that fact?

We don’t have to only look to fiction like Minority Report for answers. California’s own history provides a great example of the real use of these burgeoning programs to purportedly combat “hate.”

The California Criminal Syndicalism Act of 1919 prohibited speech that suggested the use of violence for political aims. It came at a time when workers were winning important battles in the class war raging across the state. California started locking up Wobblies en masse. As Malcolm Harris describes in his book Palo Alto:

Wobblies filled San Quentin, the Bay Area’s only prison, on bullshit charges that could hold them for up to 14 years. In Southern California, the police teamed with a resurgent KKK to bust the waterfront union, and the IWW was lucky if the cops decided to merely stand by and watch. …By the end of the decade, the state organization was jailed and beaten into submission.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/06/2024 - 11:40
Published:4/6/2024 10:46:56 AM
[Markets] Maybe The Academic Bubble Is Finally Popping Maybe The Academic Bubble Is Finally Popping

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

(Emily Karakis/Unsplash.com)

Commentary

Academia has fallen on hard times, most signified by the disgrace of Harvard. When high-paid, high-status professors are revealed as plagiarists, and then kept on with high six-figure salaries anyway, and when others are fired for opposing inhumane COVID-19 controls, one has to wonder.

Such places have only their intellectual integrity; when that falls, what are they left with other than their $51 billion endowment?

Let’s just use Harvard as a proxy for universities generally. How are they faring these days? Is the generation that is now in a position to decide to attend them—rather than develop an actual skill in a trade—and choose to give up four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars really going to take the bait?

It appears that this is seriously in doubt. The last of the last generation born in the 20th century, so-called Generation Z, has entered college and faces the decision to continue on the path or take a different route. It so happens that skills-based trades are paying huge salaries right now. That’s because there is a massive shortage of people who know how to do stuff.

This happens when you have fifty years in which millions have been trained to be one or another form of “intellectual” (or “mind worker”) even as the market for such “skills” has long been saturated.

Plus the job is awful in any case, contrary to what had long been promised. Most members of the professional managerial class of highly educated desk sitters are wholly miserable people. Most of their lives are spent following orders and fitting into the bureaucracy, with little or no creativity, much less adventure. All you get is a fancy title and some social status within some circles, and even that is changing.

As for academic jobs, truly, do you know a happy and wholly content professor or university administrator? I’ve personally never known any professional more willing to kvetch about his or her job, telling tales of amazing intrigue, perfidy, and backstabbery. One always wants to ask, “Why don’t you leave?” but we know the truth. There is nowhere to go. Academic jobs are hard to come by and extremely difficult to convert from one institution to another.

Such people have no other skills.

It’s about time that young people realize that there are other ways to pursue a career. We might finally have reached the point at which people are going their own way rather than following the prescribed path for the illusion of upward social mobility.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports:

“Long beset by a labor crunch, the skilled trades are newly appealing to the youngest cohort of American workers, many of whom are choosing to leave the college path. Rising pay and new technologies in fields from welding to machine tooling are giving trade professions a face-lift, helping them shed the image of being dirty, low-end work. Growing skepticism about the return on a college education, the cost of which has soared in recent decades, is adding to their shine.

“Enrollment in vocational training programs is surging as overall enrollment in community colleges and four-year institutions has fallen. The number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges rose 16 percent last year to its highest level since the National Student Clearinghouse began tracking such data in 2018. The ranks of students studying construction trades rose 23 percent during that time, while those in programs covering HVAC and vehicle maintenance and repair increased 7 percent.”

Plus, come on, how cool is it to be a welder? That’s amazing. Same with being an electrician, a plumber, a cook, a builder, or just about anything else where you use your hands. These days, the money is great to accompany the adventure. Actually doing things seems to be gaining traction.

For the fourth year, “median annual pay for new construction hires has eclipsed earnings for new hires in both the professional services and information sectors—such as accountants or IT maintenance workers,” the WSJ reports.

Apparently, a major factor here driving this is the pandemic lockdowns in the following sense. Lots of kids saw their parents working from home for two years during this time. Seeing them sit at the dining room table and stare at screens all day, and then interact with colleagues only through more apps and platforms, and then finding out that this is precisely what they do at work all the time, kind of drained away the romance.

Who wants to do that? Let’s just say not everyone.

Plus, it is not unknown to white males that they are not exactly in high demand in a professional workplace beset by diversity, equity, and inclusion preferences for anyone but them. No one wants to be in a profession in which you are discriminated against—and denounced and shamed relentlessly—based on factors you cannot change, such as biology.

Why not get into a field that cares nothing about your sex and race and instead judges you by your skills and character? That seems far more appealing.

The WSJ further reports: “In a survey of high school and college-age people by software company Jobber last year, 75 percent said they would be interested in vocational schools offering paid, on-the-job training. The rise of generative AI is changing the career calculus for some young people. The majority of respondents Jobber surveyed said they thought blue-collar jobs offered better job security than white-collar ones, given the growth of AI.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents in Jobber’s survey said their parents wanted them to go to college. Professions dominated by college-educated workers generally earn more over time. Professional and business services workers, for example, make a median $78,500 compared with $69,200 in construction, according to ADP.”

The point about parents is interesting. I’ve been predicting for decades that the college bubble would pop. But it hasn’t. The reason is parents. They want the best possible path forward for kids. They might not know for sure that a college degree will guarantee a good life, but surely it can help. Plus a degree is something they “can always fall back on.”

You know the line and the intuition. It’s a Boomer-born attitude that comes from the postwar experience with the GI Bill. An entire generation was led to believe that putting newly returned soldiers into college formed the basis of postwar prosperity and put millions into the middle class.

As a result, we’ve had generations of parents who have strongly recommended college to their kids. And they have been willing to pay the big bucks to make it possible, even once it became impossible to “work your way through college.” Parents just kept paying. And then the student loan market fired up to pick up the slack from what the parents could not afford. This saddled at least two generations with six-figure debts as they started their careers.

This entire calculation is a massive error.

What it forgets is that giving up four years between the ages of 18 and 22 sitting at a desk rather than gaining valuable career experience is a massive opportunity cost that comes at the prime of life. Indeed, it sets you back. Then if you end up in a lucrative profession, you still have to take vocational training in the form of professional certifications—the start of your actual education about which no one prepared you.

That’s the major cost of college: what you otherwise would be doing during those four years that you did not do. By comparison even with the dollar expense associated with tuition and books, that’s a huge cost. The ensuing debt, meanwhile, is an egregious way to start off a life.

What exactly would pop this bubble? It would take a generation of kids who decide to defy their own parents’ wishes and pursue a genuine skill rather than waste time memorizing what professors tell them and spitting it back on tests. Is that happening finally? It seems so. Apparently, it was the lockdowns that broke the spell. Kids look at their parents’ boring lives and have decided that they want to do something more interesting.

Good. This college stuff has been the rage since the end of World War II. Despite its persistence, it makes no sense. Before World War II, the pattern for men was to develop skills as a teen, finish one’s education with high school, and start being an adult. For women, it was the same, contrary to myth. They were typically fully employed until marriage and starting a family and then left the workplace to raise a family.

There were outliers, of course, but the pattern generally held, and it worked. As for college and intellectual pursuits, they grew up with civilization itself, but higher education was for a subset of the population that felt the call toward what we used to call the “life of the mind.” It makes no sense to universalize that calling by force.

There are other ways to have a good life besides being able to hang a degree on the wall. Indeed, that piece of paper might not amount to much at all, and come at too high a price.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/04/2024 - 22:20
Published:4/4/2024 9:26:21 PM
[Markets] The Single Wisest Thing You Can Do With Your Money The Single Wisest Thing You Can Do With Your Money

Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

There’s a great deal more to becoming rich than buying the right investments and hoping for the best. The most important element in your strategy to win the battle for investment survival is your own psychology. You’ve heard that your attitude helps your health and your golf score; it’ll also improve your earning power.

It’s not enough to liquidate your past financial mistakes. It’s more important to liquidate counterproductive attitudes, approaches, and methods of dealing with problems. The results that someone gets in life are an indication of how sound his approach toward life is. A sound philosophy of life gives good results. People with chaotic, unproductive, unhappy lives usually don’t have anyone to blame but themselves. They rarely have a strategy for living and thus have no foundation on which to build a strategy for investing.

There’s plenty of good advice available on the subject. Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Ben Franklin’s autobiography, Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking, Frank Bettger’s How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, and Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics are all helpful.

One of the important things about the Greater Depression is that it will give you a chance to put your philosophy of life to the test. Almost anyone can get by in good times, but the years to come will separate the real winners from losers. Many will taste the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat firsthand; they won’t need the vicarious pleasure of Saturday afternoon TV sports to experience life.

There is, of course, no guarantee that just because you’ve developed a workable strategy that you won’t still be a casualty in the battle for financial survival. There is such a thing as plain bad luck. But, as Damon Runyon said, the bread may not always go to the wise, nor the race to the swift, nor the battle to the strong—but that’s the way to bet.

Tilt the odds in your favor by developing pro-survival attitudes, and the law of large numbers will take care of the rest.

There are, of course, an almost infinite number of valid attitudes. Anything that works for you is as good as anything that works for me. But since the next step in the strategy (consolidation) deals with gathering physical goods, I don’t want to leave any false impressions.

You may be able to salt away ten bags of silver, a thousand Krugerrands, and enough food to open a restaurant chain, but that’s not nearly as important as knowing how to get them all back again if you should lose them for any reason.

That’s one thing no one can ever take away from you, and you can never lose: your attitude towards life.

Scrooge McDuck had the right attitude.

One of the most formative stories I’ve ever read was an Uncle Scrooge comic written in 1953 by Carl Barks at Walt Disney Studios.

It finds Scrooge McDuck at play in his binful of money, diving and wallowing in it, doing what he likes best. As he leaves his bin to go out for his daily routine, it turns out that his nephew, Donald Duck, has decided to play a prank on him by putting a fake newspaper on the park bench with the headline “Coins and Banknotes Now Worthless!…Congress Make Fish the New Money of the Land.”

Scrooge sees it and is stunned. All his cash is worthless. He plops against a tree thinking that he hasn’t even one little minnow with which to buy a crust of bread. By the next frame of the comic book, however, the courageous old duck has picked himself up and is ready to get back in the race, saying, “Well, there’s no cause crying over bad luck. I’ll get a job and start life all over again.”

Soon we find him down at the waterfront talking to a fisherman. He offers to paint the man’s boat for a sackful of fish. Scrooge earns his fish and takes them to a clothing store where business is bad. He trades the fish for a raincoat. Back at the waterfront, he trades the raincoat to another fisherman for two sacks of fish.

Since the fish are getting heavy to carry around, Scrooge trades the two bags to a farmer for an old horse, then trades the horse for ten sacks of fish.

By the end of the day, Scrooge has a mountain of fish: three cubic acres’ worth. As much of the new money as he had of the old. He looks at the cold, clammy fish and asks himself…how to count the new money? By the pound or by the inch? How to keep it? And how to spend it before it goes bad?

Sorrowfully he realizes that fish isn’t as nice to play with as his old money. Fish don’t feel good and they smell bad.

All of the sudden, he doesn’t want to be rich anymore. He hires a trucking fleet to take the mountain of fish to Donald, who always wanted to be rich. Donald’s house is buried under dead fish.

Donald’s joke backfired, but Scrooge proved his point: You can start from scratch if you have the right attitude and come out ahead if you play your cards right.

Scrooge didn’t have a fish to his name when he had to start over, a lot less than you’ll have if you liquidate all your unneeded possessions. They’re costing you money, and tying you down. Transform the junk you’ve accumulated into cash, which you can redeploy the way Scrooge McDuck might.

The next step in your plan is to start earning to add to your grubstake—that is, create more money. It was key to Scrooge’s second fortune, and it’s key to yours.

But it’s necessary to have the skills necessary to provide goods and services to others. Scrooge made his fish fortune by his skills at business, but there are thousands of others.

Gaining Skills

One of the most important parts of taking control of your life as a step to prospering in the years to come is to educate yourself and gain skills. That means a lot more than just logging eight years in high school and college. Going to college is one thing, but learning to make money is something else. Most people today appear to believe going to college is necessary for getting ahead. It’s not. It may actually be a hindrance.

A lot of people seem to think that simply going to college will bestow an education. In reality, all most people get is a diploma, which is very different. Eric Hoffer, the San Francisco longshoreman who never completed high school but has written such profound books as The True Believer, is an outstanding example of the difference between going to college and getting an education.

Practical, marketable skills are often better acquired in trade schools, through self-teaching efforts, and through experience working from the bottom up in a field. A lot of teachers who finished first in their class couldn’t run a successful hot dog stand and are hardly in a position to help their students learn survival skills.

It would be a tragic mistake to devote all your resources to accumulating gold, hoarding commodities, devising clever tax schemes, and speculating, to the neglect of much more basic intangibles. The government may negate a lot of your efforts through its inflation, taxes, and regulations. And even if you overcome them, market risk—a bad judgement, an unexpected development, a failed brokerage house—can wipe you out. As can fraud, theft, a fire, or a war.

And in the environment coming up, all of those things and many others like them could be greater dangers than they have been in the past. The only thing that’s permanently secure is what you carry in your head: your attitude, your knowledge, your skills.

Who knows what skills may be required in the years to come? What you’re doing now, be it teaching school, practicing law, laying brick, or selling insurance, may be in low demand. But preparing French cuisine, fixing autos, keeping books, or offering financial counsel may be in high demand. Or perhaps the other way around.

The single wisest thing you can do with your money is not buy gold. It’s to take courses and acquire knowledge in other fields, as unrelated to what you are now doing as possible. Anything related to science, and particularly, technology would seem especially suitable. Computer science, medicine, mechanics, agriculture, and electronics are all going to remain in demand.

In the TV series Star Trek, the supremely knowledgeable Mr. Spock bailed the crew out as often as anyone. It’s hard to imagine him unemployed, for that reason. More knowledge can only increase your understanding of the way the world works now, and if it stops working the way it presently does, you’ll be able to continue. It will then no longer be the end of the world if you lose your present job.

And a lot of people will.

*  *  *

Most people have no idea what really happens when an economy collapses, let alone how to prepare… How will you protect yourself during the next crisis? Legendary speculator Doug Casey’s latest report will show you exactly how. Click here to get it now.

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/04/2024 - 21:00
Published:4/4/2024 8:22:27 PM
[66cb5e59-d720-5313-93a9-15cddc3b986d] Eoin Colfer continues Juniper Lane series with 'Guardians of Cedar Wood' Irish author Eoin Colfer, best known for his 'Artemis Fowl' books, is continuing his Juniper Lane series with 'Guardians of Cedar Wood,' scheduled to be released in 2025. Published:4/4/2024 2:28:27 PM
[Markets] The Great Escape From Government Schools The Great Escape From Government Schools

Authored by Jim Bovard via The Libertarian Institute,

After enduring bullshit school shutdowns during the COVID pandemic, many students concluded that school itself must be bullshit and have skipped attending classes. Government bureaucrats are panicking since subsidies are tied to the number of students’ butts in chairs each day. Duke University Professor Katie Rosanbalm lamented that, thanks to the pandemic, "Our relationship with school became optional."

School absences have "exploded" almost everywhere, according to a New York Times report last week. Chronic absenteeism has almost doubled amongst public school students, rising from 15% pre-pandemic to 26% currently. Compulsory attendance laws are getting trampled far and wide.

The New York Times suggested that “something fundamental has shifted in American childhood and the culture of school, in ways that may be long lasting.” Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker commented, “There is a sense of: ‘If I don’t show up, would people even miss the fact that I’m not there?'” The arbitrary, counterproductive school shutdowns destroyed the trust that many families had in the government education system.

The New York Times reflected the tizzy afflicting education bureaucrats across the land: “Students can’t learn if they aren’t in school.”

Like hell.

So kids are not enduring daily indoctrination to doubt their own genders? So kids’ heads are not being dunked into the latest social justice buckets of fear, loathing, and guilt? So kids are not being drilled with faulty methods of learning mathematics to satisfy the latest Common Core catechism and vainly try to close the “achievement gap”? A shortage of indoctrination is not the same as a shortfall of education.

More than seventy years ago, University of Chicago President Robert Hutchins aptly observed, “The tremendous waste of time in the American education system must result from the fact that there is so much time to waste.” John Taylor Gatto, New York’s Teacher of the Year of 1991 (according to the New York State Education Department), observed, “Government schooling…kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.”

My view on school absenteeism is shaped by my dissident tendencies. Government schooling was the most brain deadening experience in my life. Early in elementary school, I relished reading even more than peanut butter. But I was obliged to put down books and listen to teachers, slowing my mental intake by 80% or 90%. By the time I reached fourth grade, my curiosity was fading.

Between my junior and senior years in high school, I lazed away a summer on the payroll of the Virginia Highway Department. I came to recognize that public schools were permeated by the same “Highway Department ethos.” Teachers leaned on badly-written textbooks instead of shovels. Going through the motions and staying awake until quitting time was all that mattered. Learning became equated with drudgery and submission to bored taskmasters with chalk and erasers.

And then came the wooden stakes hammered home in English classes. Devoting two months to dissecting Hamlet made me damn all Danes, courtiers, and psychoanalysts. The week spent on Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” story made me lust to cast all frogs and folksy nineteenth century authors into hell. The six weeks blighted by Paradise Lost convinced me Samuel Johnson was right: “None ever wished it longer than it is.” Old books, rather than sources of wisdom and inspiration, were mental castor oil—something to forcibly imbibe solely to emit the right answers on the exams.

I spent years mentally idling while teachers droned. As long as the government provided a seat in a classroom, it had fulfilled its obligations. There was never any inkling that later in life, I would need to mobilize every iota of talent I might possess. My brain was like the mythical village of Brigadoon. It showed up once every year or two to take a scholastic aptitude test and then vanished into the mists. Teachers chronically noted on my permanent record “not performing up to potential.” Mysteries never cease. As long as I didn’t fail a grade, I slipped under the radar.

I was never a chronic truant until my family moved to a college town just before the start of my senior year in high school. I missed practically as many classes as I attended that year, scampering over to the nearby Virginia Tech campus. I scrupulously avoided going to a notorious bar—only two blocks away—during school hours. Actually, this was more expediency than principle, since the happy hour with 10-cent beer didn’t commence until after the last class finished.

After my class absences reached a certain threshold, I was sent to the school counselor—a  perfectly coifed 30ish guy with an air of rectitude thick enough to cut with a knife.

He asked why I was skipping out, and I said school was mostly bunk. If I could pass classes without enduring Chinese-water-torture monotony, why stick around?

The counselor declared my attitude unacceptable and urged me to “get involved with the student government to try to fix things.” So I should fizzle away my time propping up the equivalent of the Vichy regime in Nazi-occupied France?!? Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run” line, “Stuck inside these four walls, sent inside forever,” echoed in my head. When misbehaving kids were compelled to stay after school, it was called “detention.” But the entire system was detention, especially for the final year or two.

Boredom vanished from my life almost completely on the day I graduated from high school. My mental vitality surged after I no longer lost the bulk of my days fulfilling “seat time” requirements. Week by week, I began to regain the love of reading that I had lost years earlier.  That made all the difference for my life and writing.

I recognize that many (if not most) of the new chronically absent students are probably putting their free time to good use. But at least teenagers have the chance to discover new books and to awaken their minds in a way that would never occur locked in classrooms. One epiphany is worth a dozen regurgitated exams.

Maybe if politicians ceased treating kids’ minds like disposable resources, more young folks would voluntarily show up for school. But generations of young kids have been sacrificed for whatever fad sweeps political and education activists. The best solution is to enable as many children as possible to exit government schools as soon as possible.

Tyler Durden Wed, 04/03/2024 - 23:40
Published:4/3/2024 11:13:00 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:4/3/2024 7:07:04 AM
[Markets] Squatters' Rights By State Squatters' Rights By State

The debate about squatters' rights in the United States has been heating up to the point where it elicited a response from the Biden Administration this week.

In a statement it said that it was "critical that local governments take action" and that issues over squatters' rights were watched by the administration but considered a local issue.

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz reports, a string of high-profile squatting cases - with many centering on New York City - have made headlines recently. In February, news broke about a New York couple who had purchased a home in the suburb of Queens for long-term use of their disabled son, but was failing to evict a tenant who was a caretaker for the recently deceased former owner and had been expected to move out. However, as he had occupied the house for more than 30 days with alleged permission from the former owner, he couldn't be easily evicted under New York City Law. In another NYC case, squatters are suspected to have killed a 52-year-old woman in March who entered her deceased mother's apartment after having traveled from abroad to hand it over to new tenants.

In the state as a whole, this law is not on the books. 

Like in many states, however, New York’s squatters or adverse possession laws kick in after 10 years and allow a squatter to stake claim to a property after this time period, as seen in data published by the American Apartment Owners Association. 

Cases of squatters earning rights in this context are rare, but not unheard of.

In 2008, Oakland man Steven DeCaprio moved into an abandoned house in the city, fixed it up and successfully sued not only for occupancy, but for ownership in a process called adverse possession. In California, five years of continuous occupation are enough to stake a claim like DeCaprio's but the process is arduous and includes being up to date on tax payments for the property, something that local authorities might not accept.

Not taking into account the additional legal difficulties some claims under squatters rights face, California's required occupancy period is one of the shortest in the country together with Montana's.

Infographic: Squatters' Rights by State | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Periods of seven years are on the books in Arkansas, Florida, Utah and Tennessee, even though the Florida statute will change as of July 1.

Washington's required period is pushed back to seven years as well if property taxes are paid and otherwise it is 10 years, like in several other states including Texas, Oregon, Arizona and South Carolina.

New Jersey and Louisiana employ the longest periods at 30 years.

Tyler Durden Tue, 04/02/2024 - 22:00
Published:4/2/2024 9:09:50 PM
[Markets] Attempted Suicide Rates More Than Double After Gender-Reassignment Surgery: Study Attempted Suicide Rates More Than Double After Gender-Reassignment Surgery: Study

Rates of attempted suicide who identified as transgender more than doubled after receiving a vaginoplasty (surgically turning one's dick into a vagina), according to a peer-reviewed study published in The Journal of Urology.

(Teeradej/Shutterstock)

The study looked at rates of psychiatric emergencies both before and after gender-altering surgery among 869 males who went under the knife, and 357 females who underwent phalloplasty (turning one's vagina into a dick) in California between 2012 and 2018.

While researchers found that rates of 'psychiatric emergencies' were high both before and after gender-altering surgery, suicide attempts were markedly higher among those who received vaginoplasties, the Epoch Times reports.

"In fact, our observed rate of suicide attempts in the phalloplasty group is actually similar to the general population, while the vaginoplasty group’s rate is more than double that of the general population," wrote the author of the study.

Among the 869 patients who underwent vaginoplasty, 38 patients attempted suicide—with nine attempts before surgery, 25 after surgery, and four attempts before and after surgery. Researchers found a 1.5 percent overall risk of suicide before vaginoplasty and a 3.3 percent risk of suicide after the procedure. Almost 3 percent of those who attempted suicide after undergoing vaginoplasty did not present with a risk of suicide prior to surgery.

Among the 357 biologically female patients who underwent phalloplasty, there were six suicide attempts with a 0.8 percent risk of suicide before and after surgery. -Epoch Times

Aside from suicide attempts, the study found that the proportion of those who experienced an emergency room and inpatient psychiatric encounter was similar between the two groups - with 22.2% of vaginoplasty and 20.7% of phalloplasty groups experiencing at least one psychiatric encounter.

According to the study, 33.9% of biological males undergoing vaginopasty would experience a post-surgery psychiatric encounter vs. 26.5% for biological women who underwent phalloplasty, if an episode had occurred before surgery.

That's a lot.

As the Epoch Times notes further:

Suicide Rate 19-Fold Higher

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Dr. Alfonso Oliva, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said research into the psychiatric outcomes and long-term follow-up of those who have sex-reassignment surgery is lacking, but an important paper is worth mentioning. In a 2011 paper published in PLOS ONE, researchers found that people who underwent sex reassignment surgery had substantially higher rates of overall mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity compared with the general population.

It’s hard to refute this paper because it’s a longitudinal study,” Dr. Oliva said. “In Sweden, everyone is in a database, and through diagnosis codes, they’re able to follow what happens to every citizen in terms of their medical history. They waited more than 10 years after people had surgery and found that death by suicide had an adjusted hazard ratio of 19.1.”

You can “quibble” about emergency room encounters, but this study shows that for patients who had transgender surgery, their suicide rate after 10 years was 19-fold higher than the general population, Dr. Oliva said. Additionally, the study excluded people with psychiatric illnesses, so these are individuals thought to have no psychiatric illness outside of dysphoria. 

Surgical Procedures

A phalloplasty is a multistep process undertaken by a biological female who wants to transition to a male, where a penis is created using tissues from the genitals and forearm or thigh. The external genitals, such as the labia or outer labia, are used to create a scrotum, and testicular implants are inserted months later along with an implant that will cause erections.

Vaginoplasty is the most commonly performed gender-reassignment surgery for those with gender dysphoria, with more than 3,000 procedures performed annually. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, vaginoplasty is a surgical procedure that involves removing the penis, testicles, and scrotum to create a vulva and functional vagina. Surgeons typically create a vaginal canal using the skin surrounding the existing penis and scrotum or by using a skin graft from the abdomen or thigh.

A penial inversion is the most commonly performed procedure where the skin is removed from the penis and inverted to form a pouch that is inserted into the vaginal cavity created between the urethra and the rectum. Surgeons then partially remove, shorten, and reposition the urethra and create a labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris.

Another surgical method involves using a robotic system that enables surgeons to reach into the body through a small incision in the belly button to create a vaginal canal. The type of vaginoplasty performed varies among patients. For example, younger patients who have never experienced puberty may have insufficient penile skin to do a standard penile inversion.

“When you take a child who’s about to undergo puberty—and they suggest giving puberty blockers to stop puberty at age 10 to 11 1/2—and when you do that for little boys, they aren’t able to get tissue from the penis and scrotum, so creating a vagina is very difficult,” Dr. Oliva told The Epoch Times. “You have to use tissue from other areas of the body, such as the peritoneum or the colon. Some researchers in Brazil are actually looking into using tilapia fish,” he added.

After a vaginoplasty is performed, the recovery process is extensive and vaginal dilation must be performed at varying intervals throughout the patient’s life.

Vaginoplasty Associated With Serious Risks

In addition to an increased risk of suicide, vaginoplasty is associated with numerous physical complications, including wound separation, vaginal stenosis, hematoma, rectovaginal fistulas, granulation tissue, bleeding, infection, skin or clitoral necrosis, suture line dehiscence (when the surgical incision opens), urinary retention or vaginal prolapse.

According to a 2021 paper in the International Brazilian Journal of Urology, a rectovaginal fistula is the “most devastating complication” of a vaginoplasty that can occur “despite careful technique” and without obvious injury to the rectum.

A rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal connection between the rectum and vagina that can cause fecal incontinence, hygiene issues, vaginal or anal irritation, and potentially life-threatening abscesses and fistula recurrence.

A 2021 review in Andrology found that rates of complications following penile inversion vaginoplasty ranged from 20 to 70 percent, with most of the complications occurring during the first four months following the procedure.

In a 2018 Clinical Anatomy review and meta-analysis, researchers reviewed 125 articles to assess neovaginal complications following surgery. After selecting 13 studies that included 1,684 patients, they found a complication rate of 32 percent, with a reoperation rate of 22 percent for non-esthetic reasons.

“For cosmetic surgery, if the complication rate was more than 2 percent to 3 percent, you wouldn’t have any patients,” Dr. Oliva told The Epoch Times. “These are very high percentage rates that we just accept.”

Dr. Oliva said complications with these surgical procedures are very high and he thinks this is why suicide rates are so high.

People think this is going to solve the problem and it doesn’t,” he said.

A June 2018 paper on postoperative outcomes of 117 patients who underwent vaginoplasty published in the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that 26 percent of patients experienced granulation tissue, 20 percent had intravaginal scarring, and 20 percent experienced prolonged pain.

In a 2017 paper published in The Journal of Urology, researchers followed patients who underwent penile inversion vaginoplasty. Of 330 patients, 95 (29 percent), presented with postoperative complications. Three of those patients developed a rectoneovaginal fistula, and 30 patients required a second operation.

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In a 2016 study published in Urology, researchers retrospectively reviewed clinical records of 69 patients who underwent vaginoplasty from January 2005 to January 2015. Although complications during surgery were not reported, 22 percent of patients experienced major postoperative complications.

“We’ve been transitioning adults in the United States since 2007, but where’s the data from gender identity clinics? Why is nothing published in the United States about long-term function? Why do we have nothing published on sexual function? We should be able to follow that and should be studying it and we’re not,” Dr. Oliva told The Epoch Times. 

*  *  *

Tyler Durden Tue, 04/02/2024 - 19:20
Published:4/2/2024 6:22:25 PM
[Markets] TradFi Vs DeFi: De-Polarizing The Bitcoin 'To The Moon' Or 'Worthless' Battle TradFi Vs DeFi: De-Polarizing The Bitcoin 'To The Moon' Or 'Worthless' Battle

Authored by Omid Malekan, Co-Authored with Ulrich Bindseil, Director General of the European Central Bank

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have always been polarizing, even within the world of economics and finance. This divisiveness, which often pits the crypto faithful against skeptical experts from traditional finance, is unfortunate. Both sides can learn a great deal from each other.

One of us is a Director General at the European Central Bank with a focus on payment systems and market infrastructure.

This past February Ulrich and a colleague published a viral blog post on the ECB website questioning whether Bitcoin had any fundamental value and listing other reasons to be skeptical of its promise as currency. The blog post was a follow-up to an initial critique on the same blog written by Ulrich and his colleague back in 2022.

The other one of us clearly disagrees.

Omid has been working in the crypto industry for years and teaches it at Columbia Business School. As argued on his own blog and in his books, he believes Bitcoin has unique and appealing properties that will eventually make it a backup reserve currency.

And yet: we consider each other friends, colleagues at a distance, and are conducting research together.

We first connected shortly after Ulrich’s initial blog post. Omid presented a list of rebuttals to Ulrich’s arguments — which to his credit Ulrich wanted to hear. Ulrich asked thoughtful questions and volunteered to read Omid’s book. He then invited Omid to present to his colleagues on digital currencies and cited Omid’s writing in his own research. Along the way we learned that we share a passion for the plumbing of finance and the likelihood of it being revolutionized by modern technology.

Unlike Ulrich, other experts in finance often dismiss all blockchain-based innovation, on account of the speculative nature of crypto assets, not to mention the combative nature of crypto believers.

Unlike Omid, many crypto professionals dismiss the most important lessons from the history of finance, dooming themselves to repeat them.

We’ve learned a lot from each other by putting our differences aside. We’ve even discovered that there’s a lot we agree on when it comes to the power of decentralized settlement networks, smart contracts, and tokenization.

We agree that Bitcoin is a novel invention created by a genius, and that it will lead to lasting innovation.

We also think that decentralization comes with major tradeoffs, one of which is a difficulty to evolve.

The next few halvings are going to test Bitcoin’s economic security.

Bitcoin has an illicit use problem. The illicit use of it needs to be addressed — as it needs to be addressed for every other payment solution. Its unique properties require new tools for combating illicit use, but society has to manage the tradeoffs between catching bad actors and censoring good ones. Where to fall on this spectrum is a political decision.

We agree that the energy impact of Bitcoin is significant and must be acknowledged, even as it trends towards renewables. Whether the environmental impact is worth it will ultimately depend on its utility beyond pure speculation. We both think the appeal of Bitcoin is greater in places with high inflation, political oppression, or a lack of basic financial services.

That said, we both think stablecoins might be even more useful to such people for day-to-day use. They might also be disruptive in developed markets as a more sophisticated and programmable payment instrument, one that can be coupled with other tokenized assets to improve capital markets and invent new instruments. [BU1]

Lastly, we both think the high volatility and lack of generally accepted valuation framework of Bitcoin add to the controversy surrounding it. Omid believes that one of his students (or even Ulrich) might someday make a name for themselves by proposing one. Ulrich believes he already found the answer but will try hard to come with a different solution.

Most of all, we both consider ourselves better off for challenging each other’s views and would encourage others to try the same.

Author’s note: This piece was originally written as a back-and-forth debate about Bitcoin before it morphed into the post above. Below is Omid’s rebuttal to Ulrich’s post on the ECB blog as well as Ulrich’s response to the rebuttal. We share this in the spirit of provoking further debate.

Omid Malekan: (emphasis ours)

Whether Bitcoin or any other asset should have value is for markets to decide. The more interesting question — for any asset — is whether there’s utility, but that lives in the eye of the beholder. I have no interest in collectible tennis shoes, but enough other people do for it to have a multi-billion dollar market [source]. My lack of interest is undecisive.

Bitcoin is an algorithmically minted digital currency with its own censorship-resistant payment system. Anyone can use it and be protected from inflation, repression, & forfeiture. This utility isn’t appreciated in the developed world where currencies are stable, and banking reliable. But countless people all over the world lack these financial amenities. Tellingly, Bitcoin adoption is highest in such countries [source].

In an ideal world, nobody would need Bitcoin. But in this one 25 countries are still experiencing double-digit inflation [source] and several had hyperinflation last year [source]. High inflation is often accompanied by financial repression. Bitcoin served as an effective store of value in these countries, despite its volatility.

A skeptic could argue almost any asset — including dollars, stocks, and real estate — do well when currencies collapse. But these assets are often unavailable to ordinary people, or live on untrustworthy infrastructure. Bitcoin has stronger property rights.

As the original blog post points out, those protections have a cost. Bitcoin is too slow and expensive to be used as a day-to-day currency & is seldom used as originally intended. But many technologies evolve beyond their original intent — the internet was original meant for academia and didn’t allow commercial activity until 1993. Tech evolves to serve users, not the other way around.

Bitcoin’s strong protections require energy. Setting aside the nuances, the environmental impact is significant. But many things use a lot of energy when measured in aggregate — like video games or the US Military. The question is whether the benefits are worth the cost. Bitcoin’s are, at least to women in Afghanistan or expats with family in Venezuela. Corporations and governments might someday find similar utility due to rising geopolitical tensions.

Bitcoin’s censorship-resistance does mean that it can be used for illicit activity. But so can smartphones, the internet, or banking. The existing financial system still accommodates significant illicit activity [source] — despite ever tightening restrictions, the cost of which is borne by everyone, including those who can afford it lease, like the underprivileged in so-called high-risk countries. The total amount of illicit activity in Bitcoin fell last year [source], possibly due to new forensic tools built on the transparency of the blockchain. Banking remains as opaque as ever, and fines for AML-violations jumped 50% in 2022. [source]

What do these benefits have to do with people who invest in Bitcoin ETFs? Very little. But it’s perfectly rational for one group of investors to bet that others will appreciate the utility of an asset. People who invest in Lithium ETFs don’t build batteries, they bet that someone else will.

Ulrich Bindseil: (emphasis ours)

Although it would be nice, I fear that the idea of women in Afghanistan improving their conditions with Bitcoin is largely a romantic wish. And if crypto-assets could support them, wouldn’t a US stablecoin relying on a faster, cheaper, and more efficient blockchain not provide a better store of value or payment mechanism than Bitcoin?

One can easily acknowledge that the technical design of the Bitcoin network appears to be a masterpiece. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not already outdated or on its way to being soon. How can the protocol be changed sufficiently to gain the efficiency it needs to survive in the medium term? Wouldn’t substantial changes betray the narrative of Bitcoin being immutable and having a fixed supply, making it indistinguishable from newer cryptocoins, reminding everyone its design is one of countless possibilities, and therefore not scarce?

We admire the technical designs of the 1944 Colossus computer of Max Newman, but it did not have commercial viability for long. Can we really imagine that Bitcoin will be around in 50 years? Why should it, given the incredible pace of change in computing and crypto technology? And if it’s not around in 50 years, can it have value today without remarkable utility? Proof of work has high energy consumption — proof of stake consumes 99% less energy and centralized ledgers even less. The negative climate effects are experienced by everyone, but perhaps they should be charged to Bitcoin holders, most of whom don’t seem to care so long as prices go up. Ironically, many of them only access Bitcoin through centralized intermediaries, as is the case with the official wallet offered by the government of El Salvador [source]

The “HODL” vision of many Bitcoin owners, predicated on ever-higher prices despite so many question marks and no way to derive a fair value, is a poor basis for a trillion-dollar asset. Unlike the technical resilience of the network, it’s inelegant. It leads to endless promotion by large holders who understate the risks, putting other investors at risk. Having a fundamental value anchor for any asset class isn’t just a side issue, it’s a necessary condition for trust.

The worlds of crypto and finance were always going to merge, so we might as well open our minds and learn from each other.

Tyler Durden Tue, 04/02/2024 - 12:40
Published:4/2/2024 11:55:53 AM
[Markets] The Era Of Informed Consent Is Over The Era Of Informed Consent Is Over

Authored by Victor Dalziel via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

In a significant blow to patient autonomy, informed consent has been quietly revoked just 77 years after it was codified in the Nuremberg Code.

(Jan H Andersen/Shutterstock)

On the 21st of December 2023, as we were frantically preparing for the festive season, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final ruling to amend a provision of the 21st Century Cures Act. This allowed

“... an exception from the requirement to obtain informed consent when a clinical investigation poses no more than a minimal risk to the human subject ...” [emphasis added]

This ruling went into effect on January 22nd, 2024, which means it’s already standard practice across America.

So, what is the 21st Century Cures Act? It is a controversial Law enacted by the 114th United States Congress in January 2016 with strong support from the pharmaceutical industry. The Act was designed to

“... accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of 21st-century cures, and for other purposes [?] ...”

Some of the provisions within this Act make for uncomfortable reading. For example, the Act supported:

• High-risk, high-reward research [Sec. 2036].

• Novel clinical trial designs [Sec. 3021]

• Encouraging vaccine innovation [Sec. 3093].

This Act granted the National Institutes of Health (NIH) legal protection to pursue high-risk, novel vaccine research. A strong case could be made that these provisions capture all the necessary architecture required for much of the evil that transpired over the past four years.

Overturning patient-informed consent was another stated goal of the original Act. Buried under Section 3024 was the provision to develop an “Informed consent waiver or alteration for clinical investigation.”

Scholars of medical history understand that the concept of informed consent, something we all take for granted today, is a relatively new phenomenon codified in its modern understanding as one of the critical principles of the Nuremberg Code in 1947. It is inconceivable that just 77 years after Nuremberg, the door has once again opened for state-sanctioned medical experimentation on potentially uninformed and unwilling citizens.

According to this amendment, the state alone, acting through the NIH, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will decide what is considered a “minimal risk” and, most concerning, will determine:

“... appropriate safeguards to protect the rights, safety, and welfare of human subjects.”

Notice the term subjects, not patients, persons, individuals, or citizens... but subjects. In asymmetrical power relationships such as clinician/patient, it is understood that the passive subject will comply with the rulings and mandates of their medical masters. The use of the term subjects also serves to dehumanise. The dehumanisation of populations was a critical component of Nazi human experimentation and, as Hannah Arendt argued, is an essential step toward denying citizens “... the right to have rights.”

This ruling also allows researchers and their misguided evangelical billionaire backers to potentially pursue dangerous experimental programs such as Bill Gates’ mosquito vaccinesmRNA vaccines in livestock, and vaccines in aerosols. This Act encourages these novel and high-risk programs, with medical studies approved as “minimal risk” by the regulators no longer requiring researchers and pharmaceutical companies to obtain patient consent. Yet, the histories of pharmacology and medicine are plagued with clinical investigations and interventions that were thought to pose no more than minimal risk to humans but went on to cause immeasurable pain, suffering, and death.

This amendment represents merely a first tentative step as the U.S. government tests the waters to see what it can get away with. Given the lack of attention this ruling received in both the corporate press and independent media, the government is likely to feel emboldened to widen its scope. Thus, this decision represents the beginning of a chilling revisionism in Western medical history, as patient autonomy is again forsaken.

This ruling, to be actioned by potentially corrupt scientists, health bureaucrats, and captured health and drug regulators, is another step toward a dystopian future unimaginable just five years ago. No doubt the infrastructure to implement this decree is already being constructed by the same groupthink cultists responsible for the nightmarish pandemic lockdowns, continuing to place the pursuit of profit and the greater good above individual choice, bodily autonomy, and informed consent.

From the Brownstone Institute

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/30/2024 - 23:20
Published:3/30/2024 11:08:57 PM
[Markets] What Will The Fed Do Next? What Will The Fed Do Next?

Authored by Louis-Vincent Gave via Evergreen Gavekal blog,

So far this year, we have seen US inflation repeatedly beat expectations, US gasoline prices creep higher, gold break out to new all-time highs, feverish speculation in crypto and parts of the equity market, bonds sell off, and the US dollar roll over. Now copper has suddenly broken out of its recent trading range. And against this benign backdrop, US corporate bond spreads remain tight, despite fears of a US commercial real estate bust and its impact on US regional banks.

Outside the US, Japanese trade unions have secured their biggest pay rise in 33 years. Coming on top of a higher-than-expected PPI reading for February, this points to a more hawkish Bank of Japan and a stronger yen, which implies less deflation and less capital exports from Japan. Meanwhile India, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are booming. And in spite of weak domestic economic data, European stock markets are chugging along nicely.

In short, over the past two months the case for Federal Reserve rate cuts has taken on some serious water. This leaves investors with an important question. What will the Fed do next? Will it try to get ahead of the curve and beat back the expectations of imminent rate cuts that it raised in December? Or will the Fed deliver on the promise of rate cuts, even though the macro backdrop is no longer so supportive of easier policy?

One added complication is the calendar. The Fed will be loath to start a new rate cut cycle in July, smack in between the Republican and Democratic conventions. It will also be loath to start a new cutting cycle in late October, days before the US presidential election. This means that the obvious times for the Fed to start a new rate cut cycle are either in June or in December (unless a Lehman-style or Covid-type crisis forces its hand).

Now, having said all that, one of the first things I was taught as a young cadet at officer school was that “doing nothing” is still “doing something.” In the heat of battle, the temptation is always to freeze and attempt to gather more information before making any decision that could potentially have dire consequences. But the decision to freeze and wait is still a decision—and one that itself can have dramatic implications.

  • If the Fed freezes and does nothing—does not cut rates and lets the reverse repo reservoir drain without adding fresh liquidity—we can probably expect a sell-off in long-dated bonds, especially considering the volume of rollovers and new issuance coming down the pipeline. Few equities, least of all the more richly valued, would respond well to higher bond yields. The US dollar would likely rally, and commodities would struggle.

  • If the Fed, despite the changed environment, goes ahead with rate cuts, precious metals will continue to rally; in the past few sessions, silver has started to show signs of life and seems to be joining gold in a new bull market. Emerging market debt and equities will rally hard. The US dollar will continue to weaken. And commodities will continue to rally.

So let’s weigh the odds, starting with the reasons for the Fed to go ahead and deliver on rate cuts, despite all the recent strong data.

1) Institutional bias. In meeting after meeting, the Fed has made clear its belief that fighting inflation is much easier than fighting deflation. This belief will tend to push the Fed to err on the side of reflation.

2) Credibility fears. After being caught out and changing course in 2019 and again in 2022, Jay Powell probably wants to avoid another flip-flop.

3) Politics. If Powell fails to deliver rate cuts, triggering a bond and equity market crash just before the presidential election, he will never be invited to a dinner party in Washington D.C. again.

4) Treasury capture. In the last couple of months, both Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and President Joe Biden have gone on record to say that the Fed needs to cut rates. In fairness, it probably does need to cut rates if the US treasury is to roll over US$8trn in debt and add another US$2trn on top without difficulty.

5) China fears. The constant Western media drumbeat on China is that the Chinese economy is imploding, that the renminbi is about to devalue, and that China is set to release a deflationary wave around the world that will make the Asian crisis look like a mere ripple. With a backdrop of such fears, you can see why the Fed might want to get few “insurance” cuts under its belt.

Against all these possible reasons to cut, the main reason Fed policymakers might want to sit on their hands is that Powell has made it clear he does not want to be remembered as another Arthur Burns. That’s basically it: the fear of being remembered as Arthur Burns versus the fear of no longer getting invited to D.C. dinner parties.

Looking at copper, gold, bitcoin, the US dollar and others, it increasingly looks as if the market has already decided. The fear of losing the dinner party invites is stronger than the fear of getting a bad rap in the history books. In any case, over the last few years the new motto of public life in Western democracies seems to have become “Après moi, le déluge.” Why expect a change now? The market is likely right to expect an easy Fed—and to position itself for reflation.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/29/2024 - 07:30
Published:3/29/2024 6:57:56 AM
[Science] Smartphones Do or Don’t Harm Kids! So Which Is It? Two new books offer radically different approaches to how people should think about smartphones and social media. Published:3/29/2024 5:32:36 AM
[Markets] Rule By Criminals: When Dissidents Become Enemies Of The State Rule By Criminals: When Dissidents Become Enemies Of The State

Authored by John & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth.”

- Martin Luther King Jr.

When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.

In the current governmental climate, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can easily render you an “enemy of the state.”

The government’s list of so-called “enemies of the state” is growing by the day.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is merely one of the most visible victims of the police state’s war on dissidents and whistleblowers.

Five years ago, on April 11, 2019, police arrested Assange for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

Included among the leaked materials was gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while American air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

There is nothing defensible about crimes such as these perpetrated by the government.

When any government becomes almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting—whether that evil takes the form of war, terrorism, torture, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity—that government has lost its claim to legitimacy.

These are hard words, but hard times require straight-talking.

It is easy to remain silent in the face of evil.

What is harder—what we lack today and so desperately need—are those with moral courage who will risk their freedoms and lives in order to speak out against evil in its many forms.

Throughout history, individuals or groups of individuals have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

Indeed, it is fitting that we remember that Jesus Christ—the religious figure worshipped by Christians for his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection—paid the ultimate price for speaking out against the police state of his day.

A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle. In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had all of the characteristics of a police state: secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

For all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor.  A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state.  Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Much like the Roman Empire, the American Empire has exhibited zero tolerance for dissidents such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning who exposed the police state’s seedy underbelly. Jesus was also branded a political revolutionary starting with his attack on the money chargers and traders at the Jewish temple, an act of civil disobedience at the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.  Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation. 

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.

Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.”  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “submit to your leaders and those in authority,” which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do.

Telling Americans to blindly obey the government or put their faith in politics and vote for a political savior flies in the face of everything for which Jesus lived and died.

Will we follow the path of least resistance—turning a blind eye to the evils of our age and marching in lockstep with the police state—or will we be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood”?

As Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us in a powerful sermon delivered 70 years ago, “This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”

Ultimately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/27/2024 - 23:40
Published:3/27/2024 11:38:29 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:3/27/2024 7:08:47 AM
[Markets] The Canaries In America's Coal Mine The Canaries In America's Coal Mine

Authored by J.Peder Zane via RealClearPolitics.com,

Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump is not the race America needs, but it is the one we deserve.

A political system that has spit out a race few voters want is the perfect symbol of a nation – and a people – bent to the point of breaking.

Biden vs. Trump appears to be a welcome diversion in a country whose government seems unequipped to face its biggest challenges and whose people are increasingly unwilling to take responsibility for their own problems. Eight months arguing about two angry old men – hearing our own side praise us to the hilt while blaming every woe on the other – is time we don’t have to spend confronting our own difficulties.

Historic declines in life expectancy, jaw-dropping rates of obesity, and rising truancy among students are just a few of the ways we the people are running off the rails.

A few others include:

  • In a Wall Street Journal commentary about post-COVID America, Yale University’s Nicholas Christakis observes how “reckless behavior” is becoming epidemic. “Americans gambled a record $66.5 billion in 2023. Compared with 2019, there has been an 18% increase in fatal accidents involving alcohol and a 17% increase in those involving speeding. Over 500 Americans are dying every day from alcohol-related deaths, a 30% increase. Sexually transmitted diseases are rising across the nation, too.”

  • Jonathan Haidt reports in the Atlantic that “rates of depression and anxiety in the United States – fairly stable in the 2000s – rose by more than 50 percent in many studies from 2010 to 2019. The suicide rate rose 48 percent for adolescents ages 10 to 19. For girls ages 10 to 14, it rose 131 percent.” A CNN and Kaiser Family Foundation poll published in 2022 found that more than 20% of adults described their mental health as “fair” or “poor,” and about one-third of adult respondents said they feel anxious much of the time.

  • A 2021 study by the Survey on American Life found that 49% of Americans said they had fewer than three close friends – in 1990 the figure was 27%. That same year 33% of respondents said they had 10 or more close friends; in 2021 that number fell to 13%. The birth rate and rates of marriage – which, when done in tandem, producer happier and more stable parents and children – have long been in decline.

  • Unable to meet its recruitment goals, the Pentagon has repeatedly lowered its standards for physical fitness, mental health, and academic achievement to meet its numbers. “America’s youth are less qualified for service than ever before,” Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Michaelis, commander at Fort Jackson, S.C., was quoted as saying in a Stars and Stripes article published last year. Added Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, “We have a lot of young men and women who want to serve – and they can’t pass the academic requirements or they can’t pass the physical requirements.”

  • The New York Sun reports that many citizens are no longer part of the workforce. “Jobs held by native-born Americans decreased by nearly half a million between January and February of this year, while jobs held by foreign-bornAmericans (both legal and illegal immigrants) spiked to 1.16 million. Looking further back, since January 2020 — just before the pandemic — there has been no growth in native-held jobs, while jobs for foreign-born employees have skyrocketed by more than 3.9 million. … The native-born workforce participation rate of 6 percent is also less than the foreign-born participation rate of 66.6 percent.”

  • The liberal Vera Institute has reported that “the number of women incarcerated in the United States has skyrocketed in the last four decades, increasing 475 percent in 40 years. In 2019, there were more than 231,000 women and girls held in prisons and jails across the country. … 50 years ago, almost 75 percent of counties held not a single woman in jail.” In a similar vein, news reports now routinely carry articles about female teachers accused of molesting students.

These are just some of the canaries in the American coal mine. Together they suggest how – despite the many strengths our nation still possesses – we are unraveling. The government cannot fix most of these problems, which may be why politicians largely ignore them. Such issues must be addressed at that most local of levels – the individual and the family.

It may feel good to complain about the other guy for the next eight months – and heaven knows we have plenty of reason to. But after the November election, all of our problems will remain. It’s long past time we recognized that much of the fault for our deep-rooted challenges lies not in our political stars but in ourselves.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/26/2024 - 15:25
Published:3/26/2024 3:05:21 PM
[Markets] Church Of England Archdeacon Openly Calls For "Anti-Whiteness" Church Of England Archdeacon Openly Calls For "Anti-Whiteness"

Authored by Steve Watson via Modernity.news,

A Church of England archdeacon has been labelled racist after openly calling for “anti-whiteness.”

The Ven Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Archdeacon of Liverpool wrote on X “I went to a conference on whiteness last autumn. It was very good, very interesting and made me realise: whiteness is to race as patriarchy is to gender.”

Threlfall-Holmes, who is white, added “So yes, let’s have anti-whiteness, and let’s smash the patriarchy. That’s not anti-white, or anti-men, it’s anti-oppression.”

I went to a conference on whiteness last autumn. It was very good, very interesting and made me realise: whiteness is to race as patriarchy is to gender.
So yes, let’s have anti whiteness, & let’s smash the patriarchy.
That’s not anti-white, or anti-men, it’s anti-oppression.

— Miranda Threlfall-Holmes (@MirandaTHolmes) March 21, 2024

[Miss Threlfall-Holmes has since switched her X feed to private.]

Anti-whiteness isn’t anti-white? What exactly is it then?

When asked to explain by The Telegraph, Threlfall-Holmes claimed that X is “perhaps not the best place for a nuanced argument,” adding “I was contributing to a debate about world views, in which ‘whiteness’ does not refer to skin colour per se, but to a way of viewing the world where being white is seen as ‘normal’ and everything else is considered different or lesser.”

The backlash was swift:

The Telegraph notes that the conference the Archdeacon is referring to was a day-long “Racial Justice Conference” in Birmingham organised by Reconciliation Initiatives, a charity working in partnership with Coventry Cathedral to help churches “contribute to reconciliation in wider society”.

The report further notes that the conference aimed “To encourage white participants to take next steps in facing their own whiteness, and in addressing institutional racism within Anglican churches and provinces.”

The group is also running a four-week long course titled “Being White” which asks clergy and lay members to consider “the ways we are caught up in a system of white superiority and white advantage in UK society.”

The Church of England has been heavily criticised recently for leaning into this kind of stuff.

The church recently announced it would be hiring a “deconstructing whiteness” officer to form part of a “racial justice unit” being set up by the Diocese of Birmingham.

In 2023 the CofE also established a £100 million fund to “address past wrongs of slavery,” even as some church buildings are literally falling apart.

In 2021, the CofE announced it was introducing quotas for black and ethnic clergy to pave the way for ‘anti-racism training’ in the Church, as well as ‘contextualising church statues that may cause offence.”

The CofE has become so infested with wokery in general to the point that it has considered dropping the phrase “our Father” from the start of the Lord’s Prayer, and instructing clergy to refrain from using male pronouns when talking about God.

Some churches have gone as far as erasing references to the nativity and Jesus in a Christmas carol and replacing them with a celebration of “queer” people.

In July last year, the Church of England refused to define what a woman was, saying they had no definition of it on their books, despite still ostensibly opposing same sex marriage.

Also last year, a vicar was officially rebuked for expressing criticism of the CofE’s decision to appoint a transgender archdeacon, after he noted that the person is “biologically, a bloke.”

*  *  *

Your support is crucial in helping us defeat mass censorship. Please consider donating via Locals or check out our unique merch. Follow us on X @ModernityNews.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/26/2024 - 06:30
Published:3/26/2024 5:40:17 AM
[e48026f1-ea92-536b-93d2-66164e6c210e] 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,' 'Matilda' and other Roald Dahl books that were made into popular movies Roald Dahl's books are the inspiration behind many hit movies. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Matilda" and "The BFG" and others have translated to the big screen. Published:3/24/2024 11:10:30 AM
[Markets] New 'Morally Ambiguous' Star Wars Show Directed By Former Assistant To Harvey Weinstein New 'Morally Ambiguous' Star Wars Show Directed By Former Assistant To Harvey Weinstein

There's a whole lot of former Star Wars fans out there today, and we say "former" because once George Lucas made the fatal (but lucrative for him) decision to sell the franchise to Disney the beloved brand was doomed to lose a majority of its existing audience.  To date, Disney has burned every ounce of fan capital it once had and each successive Star Wars movie and series has performed worse than the the last in terms of box office and viewership.  And, it was all done in the name of going woke.

Disney as a company has become the mascot for "Get Woke, Go Broke" with an extensive list of theatrical and streaming service failures the past few years, and they continue to refuse to learn from their mistakes.  The bottom line?  Legacy companies like Disney are willing to destroy their own brand in the pursuit of political propaganda; they'll keep on pontificating about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion until they are bankrupt.  

Their upcoming Star Wars streaming format release called 'The Acolyte' is expected by many to become the worst woke/feminist disaster in the company's history handling the franchise.  And, it might not be a coincidence that their latest DEI endeavor will be directed by a former assistant to Harvey Weinstein, the very man that the "Me Too" movement was created to admonish.

How aware was Leslie Headland to the casting-couch activities of her boss when she was his assistant?  It's hard to say.  However, Hollywood has determined that her status as a lesbian and queer activist negates any connections she might have had to that ugly association. 

Interviews with Headland suggest she will be bringing all her activism and politics to the latest Disney Star Wars installment along with a predictable interest in making the classic archetypal tale about good and evil "morally ambiguous."  As she notes in the Hollywood Reporter:

"People who are good guys can be bad guys, and people who are bad guys can be good guys. There’s a lot of moral ambiguity, which is why Jodie’s [Turner-Smith] line in the trailer is so important: “This isn’t about good or bad; this is about power and who is allowed to use it.” And I believe, of course, that the Jedi are a benevolent, well-intentioned institution, but they are an institution and they have amassed all the power..."

As with all woke activism, good and evil are considered relative social constructs that don't really exist, and Headland wants to bring that philosophy to Star Wars.  In other words, the Sith might do things that are considered evil, but did you ever ask yourself how they feel about it?  What if they have an emotional justification for their actions? 

Any normal person would say "Who cares?"  But writers and directors with narcissistic tendencies don't understand the world of heroism or moral principle.  They are also incapable of writing from another person's perspective and are only capable of injecting their own views into everything they touch.  Moral ambiguity is a completely counterintuitive interpretation to the symbolism of Star Wars, as well as contrary to what the vast majority of audiences connect with.

The entertainment media is also buzzing with excitement over the amount of LGBT representation in The Acolyte, with a number of gay and trans actors and crew members involved.  Not to mention, the show trailer is noticeably devoid of white male characters; par for the course in today's far-left content.  Kathleen Kennedy's mantra of "the force is female" is heavily present here.  

         

As usual, the show is being sold on the basis of its diversity rather than the merit of its storytelling, with cast and crew asserting that Star Wars is finally "safe for black nerds" and other minorities because now they can see themselves represented on screen.  Of course, if you can't relate to a well written story unless the characters share your skin color or ethnic background, then there's probably something very wrong with you.  

The production is tied directly to Disney's 'The High Republic' book series, which is widely regarded as an epic marketing blunder and dismal seller.  The books showcase an array of leftist ideological concepts that immediately turned off readers, and fans have long suspected that Disney's agenda was to eventually replace all Star Wars lore with High Republic wokism.  Added to the terrible base material is Headland's own fan fiction, which she admits she wrote when she was younger and is at least partially ingrained into the show. 

At this time, The Acolyte trailer has received 366,000 dislikes on YouTube, compared to 160,000 likes and Disney executives are allegedly scrambling to produce positive PR.  Disney denies that their DEI based content has anything to do with the growing public skepticism for the show.  In what has become an endlessly repeating cycle, Hollywood produces woke bomb after woke bomb, refuses to admit that wokeness is the problem, the movies or series are quickly forgotten and then they start all over again.   

Tyler Durden Sun, 03/24/2024 - 08:45
Published:3/24/2024 7:54:34 AM
[Entertainment] Laurent de Brunhoff, artist who made Babar the elephant famous, dies at 98 He popularized a character imagined by his mother and drawn by his father when he was a boy, elevating Babar to global fame through films, TV and books. Published:3/24/2024 3:27:22 AM
[Markets] CIA Secrecy On JFK Points To Criminal Culpability CIA Secrecy On JFK Points To Criminal Culpability

Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

More than 30 years ago, Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. Enacted in the wake of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, which posited that the Kennedy assassination was a regime-change operation on the part of the U.S. national-security establishment, the law mandated that all the assassination-related records of the Pentagon, the CIA, the Secret Service, the FBI, and other federal agencies be released to the public. Having succeeded in keeping their assassination-related records secret for almost 30 years, they didn’t like that at all.

Today — more than 60 years after the assassination — the CIA continues to keep thousands of its assassination-related records secret. Its justification? You guessed it: “national security,” the two most powerful and meaningless words in the American political lexicon. CIA officials maintain, with straight faces, that if those still-secret assassination-related records were released, the United States would fall into the ocean, be taken over by communists, or have its “national security” endangered in some other silly way.

How in the world can “national security” be threatened by the release of records that are more than 60 years old, regardless of what definition is placed on that nebulous term? Indeed, how can any American really believe this nonsense? They obviously take Americans for dupes.

It is a virtual certainty that those still-secret records contain circumstantial evidence that further confirms criminal culpability on the part of the CIA and the Pentagon in the assassination of President Kennedy. After all, the CIA knows that that is precisely what most everyone is thinking with respect to the continued secrecy of those records. Why would the CIA want to leave people thinking that? One reason: Because it’s better to have people thinking that those records contain incriminating evidence rather than knowing that they do.

What could the CIA be hiding with those still-secret records? The answer necessarily has to be speculative in nature, but my hunch is that some of the still-secret information deals with Mexico City, where the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was supposed to have met with Cuban and Soviet officials.

In the immediate aftermath of the assassination, it is obvious that everything went wrong with the Mexico City part of the assassination plot. For example, there were audiotapes that supposedly contained Oswald’s voice and then suddenly there were no such audiotapes. There was a photograph of Oswald except that it was a photograph of someone else.

Why was Mexico City an important part of the assassination plot? As I detail in my newest book on the assassination, An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Storyan essential part of the assassination plot was to frame a communist. This was the height of the Cold War, when most everyone hated and feared the Reds. By framing a communist, the national-security establishment could rest assured that Americans would be reluctant to come to Oswald’s defense or believe anything he said.

Mexico City played an important role in this endeavor. Oswald was ordered to travel to Mexico City, where he was to meet with both Cuban and Soviet officials. In that way, the plotters could definitely tie the future assassin to the Soviet and Cuban communists.

Why would Oswald obey such orders? Because he was an operative for U.S. intelligence. Intelligence operatives follow orders, especially when they’re told that they are part of an intelligence operation.

In fact, in one of its first meetings, Earl Warren, the head of the Warren Commission, told the commission that there was highly discomforting evidence that Oswald was, in fact, an intelligence operative. Once the CIA and the FBI, which, of course, would never lie about such a thing, assured the commission that such wasn’t the case, Warren ordered that the meeting be kept top-secret and never revealed to the American people.

When he was serving in the army, Oswald became fluent in the Russian language. That is not an easy thing to do. It takes language experts, which the U.S. government has. That’s the only way Oswald could have learned to speak fluent Russian while he was in the army.

There is also New Orleans, where Oswald had moved from Dallas prior to his trip to Mexico City. In New Orleans, Oswald spent a lot of effort building up his “pro-communist” persona, especially with the help of an anti-Castro group called the DRE.

Immediately after the assassination, the DRE sent out a press release informing the nation that Oswald was a communist. There is one big important thing about the DRE that the nation did not know and would not know for several decades. It was a CIA-funded and CIA-supervised group. Thus, it was actually the CIA that wanted the nation to know that the president had been killed by a Red.

As JFK researcher Jefferson Morley, who first discovered the CIA’s connection to the DRE, has also discovered, the CIA was secretly monitoring Oswald in the months leading up to the assassination, including secretly reading his mail. Why would the CIA be doing that? Because if one is going to frame a person in a very complex murder plot, one has to be certain that the person being framed doesn’t figure out what is going on.

Will the CIA succeed in keeping its assassination-related records secret forever? Given the overwhelming power that the national-security branch has within the federal governmental structure, it’s a virtual certainty that it will succeed. But what difference does it make? The evidence that was released by the JFK Records Act already proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the Kennedy assassination was a national-security state regime-change operation, especially with respect to the fraudulent autopsy that the military conducted on JFK’s body and the fraudulent copy of the Zapruder film that the CIA produced. (See my books The Kennedy Autopsy and An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story.) The CIA’s still-secret assassination-related records would only add more circumstantial evidence to what we already know.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/23/2024 - 17:30
Published:3/23/2024 4:54:54 PM
[Markets] Sowing The Wind: The New 'Newspeak' Sowing The Wind: The New 'Newspeak'

Authored by Lani Kass via RealClear Wire,

The presidential election is eight months away. Yet the campaign to preclude a second Trump administration is already in high gear. In the course of two weeks, the public was given a preview of the undemocratic, uncouth, racist dystopia MAGA America is doomed to become. Against the backdrop of the most virulent antisemitism sweeping the U.S. in the wake of Hamas’ savagery, the media has chosen to pillory “white nationalism” as the clear and present danger.

First, a new tome, “White Rural Rage,” is hailed by the New York Times as “an important book that ought to be read by anyone who wants to understand politics in the perilous Age of Trump.”

Next, Politico’s Heidi Przybyla proclaims that people who believe human rights come from God are “Christian Nationalists.” She triggers an uproar. Yet she doubles down in an even more incendiary piece: “Christian Nationalism is a political movement. … The thing that unites them … is that they believe our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any earthy [sic] authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God.”

Evidently, people who have read America’s founding document – the Constitution – are a mortal threat to our very survival.

Then, on March 3, CBS’s “60 Minutes” broadcasts a segment about “Moms for Liberty” waging a “campaign to ban books on race and gender from school libraries.” Could “Fahrenheit 451” be far behind?

We are witnessing what Hannah Arendt calls “the atomization of society.” It is a well-tested tactic: Shatter every natural connection in society; twist the language; isolate people from each other. The individual is all alone – an atom. No family, no community, no solace.

Totalitarianism of all stripes finds fertile ground in frightened, isolated individuals. 

Technology accelerates this “atomization.” We relate to each other in “virtual reality.” Our “friends” are on Facebook.

Truth itself is erased, because the Internet offers “facts” to fit any narrative. We have access to unprecedented amounts of information; yet our knowledge and intellectual discourse are beggared. The free market of ideas gives way to mutually reinforcing opinions, shared in closed echo chambers.

To disorient the “atomized” individual still further, “Political Correctness” takes hold. Things which were acceptable yesterday will get you a reprimand today. You’ll be censored online. You learn to obfuscate, because you need your job; you don’t want to be “canceled”; and, most of all, you dread being labeled “racist.” You self-censor – just like in the U.S.S.R.

Soon, a new language takes hold. Not only our pets can be “groomed”; so can our children. We ask about “preferred pronouns.” We learn new words: “cisgender,” “woke,” and “micro-aggression.”

We’re taught that “the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.” And thus, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The term “Newspeak” originated in George Orwell’s novel “1984.” “Newspeak” is a controlled language, designed to limit critical thinking.

In Orwell’s dystopia, “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies. … These contradictions are not accidental; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

In today’s Department of Defense:

Diversity management calls for creating a culture of inclusion in which the diversity … shapes how the work is done. … Although good diversity management rests on a foundation of fair treatment, it is not about treating everyone the same. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for leaders who grew up with the EO-inspired mandate to be both color and gender blind. Blindness to difference, however, can lead to a culture of assimilation in which differences are suppressed rather than leveraged. Cultural assimilation, a key to military effectiveness in the past, will be challenged as inclusion becomes, and needs to become, the norm.

The statement is from the 2011 report of the commission on “Military Leadership Diversity.”

Orwell would be proud.

The report – and the implementing law – are breathtaking in scope and implications. MLDC calls for a fundamental “transformation” of our military – making racial and gender representation a “top defense priority.” This effort continues with a new Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

We know that accentuating what is different among us fosters division and erodes cohesion. Yet we’re told that it’s “diversity” – of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation – that makes our nation prosperous and our military strong.

We try to reconcile this with our motto, “E pluribus unum.” But we can’t reconcile the irreconcilable. This inevitably leads to cognitive dissonance – disorienting, disconcerting, and further “atomizing.”

A new Utopia emerges, wherein there are 57+ genders and men can give birth.

We know that is inconceivable, but it’s all around us – and suddenly we can’t talk to our children anymore. They think we are racist, sexist, transphobic bigots. We feel like aliens – from outer space, not from across the Southern border. “Up is down, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” We are atoms, untethered, disoriented, disconnected.

“And, thus, they had come to a time when no one dared speak his mind.”

Dr. Lani Kass served in the Department of Defense for 30 years. These views are her own.

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/21/2024 - 03:30
Published:3/21/2024 2:41:51 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:3/20/2024 7:07:29 AM
[Markets] From Capitalism To Corporatism From Capitalism To Corporatism

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via DailyReckoning.com,

In the 1990s, it was common to ridicule the government for being technologically backward.

We were all gaining access to fabulous things, including the web, apps, search tools and social media. But governments at all levels were stuck in the past using IBM mainframes and large floppy disks.

I recall the days of thinking government would never catch up to the glories and might of the market itself. I wrote several books on it, full of techno-optimism.

The new tech sector had a libertarian ethos about it. They didn’t care about the government and its bureaucrats. They didn’t have lobbyists in Washington. They were the new technologies of freedom and didn’t care much about the old analogue world of command and control. They’d usher in a new age of people power.

Here we sit a quarter-century later with documented evidence that the opposite happened. The private sector collects the data that the government buys and uses as a tool of control.

It’s determined by algorithms agreed upon by a combination of government agencies, university centers, various nonprofits and the companies themselves. The whole thing has become an oppressive blob.

Money Flows to Power

Here is Google’s new headquarters in Reston, Virginia:

And here’s Amazon’s proposed HQ2, in Arlington, Virginia:

Every major company that once stayed far away from Washington now owns a similar giant palace in or around D.C., and they collect tens of billions in government revenue.

Government has now become a major customer, if not the main customer, of the services provided by the large social media and tech companies. They’re advertisers but also massive purchasers of the main product too.

Show Me the Money

Amazon, Microsoft and Google are the biggest winners of government contracts, according to a report from Tussell. Amazon hosts the data of the National Security Agency with a $10 billion contract, and gets hundreds of millions from other governments.

We don’t know how much Google has received from the U.S. government, but it’s surely a substantial share of the $694 billion the federal government hands out in contracts.

Microsoft also has a large share of government contracts. In 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability contract to Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Oracle.

The contract is worth up to $9 billion and provides the Department of Defense with cloud services. It’s just the beginning. The Pentagon is looking for a successor plan that will be bigger.

Actually, we don’t even know the full extent of this but it is gargantuan. Yes, these companies provide the regular consumer services but a main and even decisive customer is government itself.

As a result, the old laughingstock line about backward tech at government agencies is no more. Today government is a main purchaser of tech services and is a top driver of the AI boom too.

It’s one of the best-kept secrets in American public life, hardly talked about at all by mainstream media. Most people still think of tech companies as free-enterprise rebels. It’s not true.

The same situation of course exists for pharmaceutical companies. This relationship dates even further back in time and is even tighter to the point that there is no real distinction between the interests of the FDA/CDC and large pharmaceutical companies.

Consumer Preference Doesn’t Matter

In this framework, we might also tag the agricultural sector, which is dominated by cartels that have driven out family farms. It’s a government plan and massive subsidies that determine what is produced and in what quantity.

It’s not because of consumers that your Coke is filled with a scary product called “high-fructose corn syrup,” why your candy bar and danish have the same and why there’s corn in your gas tank. This is entirely the product of government agencies and budgets.

In free enterprise, the old rule is that the customer is always right. That’s a wonderful system sometimes called consumer sovereignty. Its advent in history, dating perhaps from the 16th century, represented a tremendous advance over the old guild system of feudalism and certainly a major step over ancient despotisms. It’s been the rallying cry of market-based economics ever since.

What happens, however, when government itself becomes a main and even dominant customer?

The ethos of private enterprise is thereby changed. No longer primarily interested in serving the general public, enterprise turns its attention to serving its powerful masters in the halls of the state, gradually weaving close relationships and forming a ruling class that becomes a conspiracy against the public.

The Old Binaries Have Broken Down

This used to go by the name “crony capitalism,” which perhaps describes some of the problems on a small scale. This is another level of reality that needs an entirely different name. That name is corporatism, a coinage from the 1930s and a synonym for fascism back before that became a curse word due to wartime alliances.

Corporatism is a specific thing, not capitalism and not socialism but a system of private property ownership with cartelized industry that primarily serves the state.

The old binaries of the public and private sector — widely assumed by every main ideological system — have become so blurred that they no longer make much sense. And yet we’re ideologically and philosophically unprepared to deal with this new world with anything like intellectual insight.

Not only that, it can be extremely difficult even to tell the good guys from the bad guys in the news stream. We hardly know anymore for whom to cheer or boo in the great struggles of our time.

That’s how mixed up everything has become. We’ve clearly traveled a long way from the 1990s!

Monetary Corporatism

Of course in 1913, we saw the advent of a particularly egregious public-private partnership with the Federal Reserve, in which private banks merged into a unified front and agreed to service U.S. government debt obligations in exchange for bailout guarantees. This monetary corporatism continues to vex us to this day, as does the military-industrial complex.

How is it different from the past? It’s different in degree and reach.

The corporatist machine now manages the main products and services in our civilian life including the entire way we get information, how we work, how we bank, how we contact friends and how we buy.

It’s the manager of the whole of our lives in every respect, and has become the driving force of product innovation and design. It’s become a tool for surveillance in the most intimate aspects of our lives, including financial information and listening devices we’ve willingly installed in our own homes.

It’s become a main curator and censor of our news and social media presence and postings. It is in a position to say which companies and products succeed and which ones fail. It can kill apps in a flash if the well-placed person does not like what they are doing.

It can order other apps to add or subtract to a blacklist based on political opinions. It can tell even the smallest company to comply or face death by lawfare. It can seize on any individual and make him a public enemy based entirely on an opinion or action that runs contrary to regime priorities.

In short, this corporatism — in all its iterations including the regulatory state and the patent war chest that maintains and enforces monopoly — is the core source of all the current despotism.

COVID: A Trial Run

It obtained its first full trial run with the lockdowns of 2020, when tech companies and media joined in the ear-splitting propaganda campaigns to shelter in place, cancel holidays and not visit Grandma in the hospital and nursing home.

It cheered as millions of small businesses were destroyed and big-box stores thrived as distributors of approved products, while vast swaths of the workforce were called nonessential and put on welfare.

This was the corporatist state at work, with a large corporate sector wholly acquiescent to regime priority and a government fully dedicated to rewarding its industrial partners in every sector that went along with the political priority at the moment.

The trigger for the construction of the vast machinery that rules our lives was far back in time and always begins the same way: with a seemingly inauspicious government contract.

How well I recall those days in the 1990s when public schools first started to buy computers from Microsoft. Did alarm bells go off? Not for me. I had a typical attitude of any pro-business libertarian: Whatever business wants to do, it should do.

Surely it’s up to the enterprise to sell to all willing buyers, even if that includes governments. In any case, how in the world would one prevent this? Government contracting with private business has been the norm from time immemorial. No harm done.

And yet it turns out that vast harm was done. This was just the beginning of what became one of the world’s largest industries, far more powerful and decisive over industrial organization than old-fashioned producer-to-consumer markets.

These gigantic for-profit and public trading corporations became the operational foundation of the surveillance-driven corporatist complex.

What to Do?

We’re nowhere near coming to terms with the implications of this. It goes way beyond and fully transcends the old debates between capitalism and socialism. Indeed that is not what this is about.

The focus on that might be theoretically interesting but it has little or no relevance to the current reality in which public and private have fully merged and intruded into every aspect of our lives, and with fully predictable results: economic decline for the many and riches for the few.

This is also why neither the left nor the right, nor Democrats or Republicans, nor capitalists or socialists, seem to be speaking clearly to the moment in which we live.

The dominating force on both the national and global scene today is techno-corporatism that intrudes itself into our food, our medicine, our media, our information flows, our homes and all the way down to the hundreds of surveillance tools that we carry around in our pockets.

I truly wish these companies were genuinely private, but they’re not. They’re de facto state actors. More precisely, they all work hand-in-glove and which is the hand and which is the glove is no longer clear.

Coming to terms with this intellectually is the major challenge of our times. Dealing with it juridically and politically seems like a much more daunting task, to say the least. The problem is complicated by the drive to purge serious dissent at all levels of society.

How did American capitalism become American corporatism? A little at a time and then all at once.

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/20/2024 - 06:30
Published:3/20/2024 5:55:34 AM
[Markets] "We're One Event Away From A 1970s-Style Stagflation Explosion..." "We're One Event Away From A 1970s-Style Stagflation Explosion..."

Excerpted from 'The Turning Point' report via Larry MacDonald's TheBearTrapsReport.com,

We hear the comparisons more and more; they are growing louder by the week.

“The years 2023-2024 look a lot like 1973-1974.”

The history books remind us,1973’s oil embargo shook the global energy market. It also reset geopolitics, reordered the global economy, and a multipolar world saw energy weaponized. After kissing 6% in 1970, in Q1 of 1973, inflation as measured by CPI danced just below 4%, much like today, central bankers were doing the Michael Jackson moonwalk in celebratory form. Then, in bloodcurdling fashion in late 1974, CPI breached 12%.

“Don’t be silly, 1973 was a far different set up,” we are told.

When it comes to demand on a global stage, 2024 is 2x 1973.

Above all, the U.S. is the largest producer of oil in 2024, not as was the case in 1973, when she was the world’s largest petroleum importer.

At the time, oil was 50% of world energy consumption vs. 1/3 today.

There is just one overwhelming difference today.

In the last 8 weeks, we have seen drone technology knock out

a) parts of Russia’s second largest airport,

b) at least three of Putin’s prize oil refineries,

and c) countless ships in the Suez Canal.

Weaponizing oil in a multipolar world is exponentially more uncertain with James Cameron calling the shots. In October of 1984, he brought us the “Terminator” and opened the world’s eyes to the future of AI and the weaponization of robots. If Vladimir Putin, on the eve of an election, cannot protect his second-largest airport, how can the Saudi’s protect their own crown jewel. Measuring 280 by 30 km (170 by 19 mi) (some 8,400 square kilometres (3,200 sq mi)), it is by far the largest conventional oil field in the world. That’s a lot of ground to protect. We are one event away from a 1970s-style stagflation explosion.

More often than not, recency bias is an investor’s foe. The 2008 and 2020 recessions were similar in that a shock triggered a colossal bond rally along with plunging PMI, ISM and LEI data. It’s more and more apparent by the minute. What we are experiencing today is much more of a 1970s – 1980s recession vintage. An inflation-driven slowdown hits the bottom 60% first, but this time around after the Fed suppressed rates for so, so, so long, higher net worth consumers feel like they died and went to heaven. Revenge consumption has been the economy’s tailwind from those with $1m ($50k annual income vs. $8k in 2021) to $10m ($500k annual income vs. $80k in 2021) in a money market fund. This, plus trillions of fiscal overdosing coming out of Washington have prevented the recession so far, but they have also made inflation’s second act far more certain in a multipolar world.

In this note we breakdown the increasing stagflationary landscape.

By our count, $500B has moved into Oil & Gas and Metals in recent months. Likewise, oil’s risk to inflation expectations, rates and the -- CRE wounded -- super regional banks is accelerating.

What does the world look like if the Fed is forced to ease to protect the banks and the bottom 60% of consumers in an election year -- while inflation is heading north for the summer?

Sticky Inflation

Both CPI on Tuesday and PPI on Thursday came in hotter than expected.

Core CPI rose 3.8% y/y vs +3.7% expected and PPI rose 2% y/y vs 1.9% expected. At the same time, several data points show a slowing economy as well. Retail sales, which were reported simultaneous with the PPI on Thursday, rose 0.6% m/m, which was less than the 0.8% forecast. The prior month was revised lower as well, from -0.8% to -1.1%.

In ANOTHER stagflationary turn, the Empire State manufacturing survey for March also came in well below expectations at -21 vs -7 expected.

The report noted that “Demand softened as new orders declined significantly, and shipments were lower. Unfilled orders continued to shrink. Labor market indicators weakened, as employment and hours worked both decreased. The pace of input price increases moderated somewhat, while the pace of selling price increases held steady”.

BofA in its monthly consumer spending report on Monday said that” consumer spending momentum appears soft, Credit card and debit card spending rose 0.4% m/m, after a 0.3% drop in January.”

Oil – High Impact Far and Wide

The oil heavy CRB touched its highest level since November Friday. Every day the super-regional banks go without rate cuts, the day of reckoning on market-tomarket losses grows closer to a reality. The Fed opened the door to a softer path, just an inch – that has fueled inflation’s Act II.

This has LARGE implications for the banks.

Since January 2023; Zions ZION, Comerica CMA and Truist TFC are underperforming the S&P 500 by close to 50%.

The NYCB failure has regulators at the OCC and FDIC on the lookout for other Mark-to-Market cheaters.

In recent days, we have multiple Ukraine drone attacks on Russian oil refineries, another over the weekend.

A multipolar world takes some of the steering wheel away from the Fed with large implications for the banks.

Multipolar World - Drone Strikes with High Impact

By some estimates, in 2023 the EU imported 130 million barrels of seaborne refined products – mostly diesel – from refineries processing Russian crude.

These purchases were worth an estimated €1.1 billion. With some Russian refineries down, Europe must draw more supply from the West, WTI is more than +13% off February levels, +20% off the December lows.

The refineries that are processing Russian crude oil and exporting to the EU are largely the same ones sending laundered Russian fuel to the UK and US.

The seven largest refineries collectively processed 390 million barrels of Russian crude oil in 2023, valued at an estimated €23 billion. (Global Witness).

Connecting the Dots

Higher rates + higher inflation expectations are leaving a stain here. Some banks desperately need rate cuts.

Where does that leave us?

The anxious bond market is now pricing in just 60% odds a rate cut in June and 72bp of rate cuts in 2024. In the upcoming FOMC meeting, some economists are now forecasting the DOT plot to move from 3 to 2 cuts this year.

It only takes two Committee members to raise their dot for the median dot to go from 3 cuts to 2 cuts for the year.

Odds of Rate Cut

The higher the white line above the lower the June rate cut probability.

We are back where we were in late February, with June rate hike odds at 60%.

(The market prices these odds as an expected move in the Fed Fund futures. So -15bp is a 15bp/25bp=60% chance of a 25bp drop in Fed Funds.)

...

"Funny how Nicky-Leaks only mentions the dovish data, failed to mention the Atlanta Fed sticky CPI data out yesterday which showed nice reacceleration" -- Dallas PM.

*  *  *

Subscribers can read the full 'Turning Point' report from Larry MacDonald's Bear Traps Report here...

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/18/2024 - 15:25
Published:3/18/2024 2:43:36 PM
[Markets] Half Of Downtown Pittsburgh Office Space Could Be Empty In 4 Years Half Of Downtown Pittsburgh Office Space Could Be Empty In 4 Years

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

The CRE implosion is picking up steam.

Check out the grim stats on Pittsburgh.

Unions are also a problem in Pittsburgh as they are in Illinois and California.

Downtown Pittsburgh Implosion

The Post Gazette reports nearly half of Downtown Pittsburgh office space could be empty in 4 years.

Confidential real estate information obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette estimates that 17 buildings are in “significant distress” and another nine are in “pending distress,” meaning they are either approaching foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure. Those properties represent 63% of the Downtown office stock and account for $30.5 million in real estate taxes, according to the data.

It also calculates the current office vacancy rate at 27% when subleases are factored in — one of the highest in the country.

And with an additional three million square feet of unoccupied leased space becoming available over the next five years, the vacancy rate could soar to 46% by 2028, based on the data.

Property assessments on 10 buildings, including U.S. Steel Tower, PPG Place, and the Tower at PNC Plaza, have been slashed by $364.4 million for the 2023 tax year, as high vacancies drive down their income.

Another factor has been the steep drop — to 63.5% from 87.5% — in the common level ratio, the number used to compute taxable value in county assessment appeal hearings.

The assessment cuts have the potential to cost the city, the county, and the Pittsburgh schools nearly $8.4 million in tax refunds for that year alone. Downtown represents nearly 25% of the city’s overall tax base.

In response Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson wants to remove a $250,000 limit on the amount of tax relief available to a building owner or developer as long as a project creates at least 50 full-time equivalent jobs.

It’s unclear if the proposal will be enough. Annual interest costs to borrow $1 million have soared from $32,500 at the start of the pandemic in 2020 to $85,000 on March 1. Local construction costs have increased by about 30% since 2019.

But the city is doomed if it does nothing. Aaron Stauber, president of Rugby Realty said it will probably empty out Gulf Tower and mothball it once all existing leases expire.

“It’s cheaper to just shut the lights off,” he said. “At some point, we would move on to greener pastures.”

Where’s There’s Smoke There’s Unions

In addition to the commercial real estate woes, the city is also wrestling with union contracts.

Please consider Sounding the alarm: Pittsburgh Controller’s letter should kick off fiscal soul-searching

It’s only March, and Pittsburgh’s 2024 house-of-cards operating budget is already falling down. That’s the clear implication of a letter sent by new City Controller Rachael Heisler to Mayor Ed Gainey and members of City Council on Wednesday afternoon.

The letter is a rare and welcome expression of urgency in a city government that has fallen in complacency — and is close to falling into fiscal disaster.

The approaching crisis was thrown into sharp relief this week, when City Council approved amendments to the operating budget accounting for a pricey new contract with the firefighters union. The Post-Gazette Editorial Board had predicted that this contract — plus two others yet to be announced and approved — would demonstrate the dishonesty of Mayor Ed Gainey’s budget, and that’s exactly what’s happening: The new contract is adding $11 million to the administration’s artificially low 5-year spending projections, bringing expected 2028 reserves to just barely the legal limit.

But there’s still two big contracts to go, with the EMS union and the Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Committee, which covers Public Works workers. Worse, there are tens — possibly hundreds — of millions in unrealistic revenues still on the books. On this, Ms. Heisler’s letter only scratched the surface.

Similarly, as we have observed, the budget’s real estate tax revenue projections are radically inconsistent with reality. Due to high vacancies and a sharp reduction in the common level ratio, a significant drop in revenues was predictable — but not reflected in the budget. Ms. Heisler’s estimate of a 20% drop in revenues from Downtown property, or $5.3 million a year, may even be optimistic: Other estimates peg the loss at twice that, or more.

Left unmentioned in the letter are massive property tax refunds the city will owe, as well as fanciful projections of interest income that are inconsistent with the dwindling reserves, and drawing-down of federal COVID relief funds, predicted in the budget itself. That’s another unrealistic $80 million over five years.

Pittsburgh exited Act 47 state oversight after nearly 15 years on Feb. 12, 2018, with a clean bill of fiscal health. 

It has already ruined that bill of health.

Act 47 in Pittsburgh

Flashback February 21, 2018Act 47 in Pittsburgh: What Was Accomplished?

Pittsburgh’s tax structure was a much-complained-about topic leading up to the Act 47 declaration. The year following Pittsburgh’s designation as financially distressed under Act 47 it levied taxes on real estate, real estate transfers, parking, earned income, business gross receipts (business privilege and mercantile), occupational privilege and amusements. The General Assembly enacted tax reforms in 2004 giving the city authority to levy a payroll preparation tax in exchange for the immediate elimination of the mercantile tax and the phase out of the business privilege tax. The tax reforms increased the amount of the occupational privilege tax from $10 to $52 (this is today known as the local services tax and all municipalities outside of Philadelphia levy it and could raise it thanks to the change for Pittsburgh).

The coordinators recommended an increase in the deed transfer tax, which occurred in late 2004 (it was just increased again by City Council) and in the real estate tax, which increased in 2015.

Legacy costs, principally debt and underfunded pensions, were the primary focus of the 2009 amended recovery plan. The city’s pension funded ratio has increased significantly from where it stood a decade ago, rising from the mid-30 percent range to over 60 percent at last measurement.

The obvious question? Will the city stick to the steps taken to improve financially and avoid slipping back into distressed status? If Pittsburgh once stood “on the precipice of full-blown crisis,” as described in the first recovery plan, hopefully it won’t return to that position.

The Obvious Question

I could have answered the 2018 obvious question with the obvious answer. Hell no.

No matter how much you raise taxes, it will never be enough because public unions will suck every penny and want more.

On top of union graft, and insanely woke policies in California, we have an additional huge problem.

Hybrid Work Leaves Offices Empty and Building Owners Reeling

Hybrid work has put office building owners in a bind and could pose a risk to banks. Landlords are now confronting the fact that some of their office buildings have become obsolete, if not worthless.

Meanwhile, in Illinois …

Chicago Teachers’ Union Seeks $50 Billion Despite $700 Million City Deficit

Please note the Chicago Teachers’ Union Seeks $50 Billion Despite $700 Million City Deficit

The CTU wants to raise taxes across the board, especially targeting real estate.

My suggestion, get the hell out...

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/18/2024 - 12:10
Published:3/18/2024 11:31:43 AM
[Markets] "Dramatic Picture For History Books": LNG Tankers Still Absent From Red Sea "Dramatic Picture For History Books": LNG Tankers Still Absent From Red Sea

Ongoing attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on commercial vessels navigating through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait have forced all liquefied natural gas tankers with destinations to Europe and the US to divert routes, which means longer and more expensive routes. 

"This is a dramatic picture for history books. Bookmark it!" Energy Outlook Advisors' Anas Alhajji posted on X. 

Alhajji posted a map showing no LNG tankers transiting the Red Sea, Suez Canal, or the Gulf of Adan.

Using Bloomberg data, Alhajji's map is correct when searching for LNG tankers with an end destination in North America, South America, Central America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Australia, and Oceania. 

Alhajji explained LNG tankers are avoiding the southern Red Sea for two reasons:

  1. Carries are super expensive and fairly new relative to average oil tankers
  2. Insurance premium is very high

Analyst Andreas Steno Larsen responded to Alhajji's post, "Not really news? It has been like that for a while."

However, continuous Houthi attacks disrupting the critical shipping lane, which accounts for 12-15% of global trade and 20% of international container shipping, only indicates that shipping companies must continue to rejigger routes that are more costly and longer. These extra costs will only feed into global inflation. 

With President Biden's Operation Prosperity Guardian mission failing, there is no immediate solution to resolve the Red Sea crisis. 

In a recent interview, former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, Adm. James Stavridis, told Goldman's Allison Nathan, "In my career, I've never seen a higher level of maritime risk than I do today. That owes first and foremost to the return of great power competition, which we thought was basically over when the Soviet Union collapsed." 

Three decades after the Cold War ended, conflicts rage across Ukraine, Gaza, the Red Sea, Myanmar, the Sahel, Sudan, and potentially Taiwan and Iran. The rules-based system of international relations modeled on America's liberal-democratic values is crumbling as the world stumbles into a nascent multipolar era. 

With conflict only expected to worsen, David Asher, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, has warned about increasing risks that Saudi Arabia's refineries could come under drone and or missile attack by Houthi rebels and spark a global financial shock.

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/18/2024 - 04:15
Published:3/18/2024 3:55:18 AM
[] Maryland Bravely Leads the Fight to Keep Porn in Public School Libraries Published:3/16/2024 10:11:07 AM
[Markets] Childless China: Coercive Population Plan Implodes Childless China: Coercive Population Plan Implodes

Authored by John Miltimore via The American Institute for Economic Research,

Kenneth Emde of Minnesota, who came of age during the Swinging Sixties, recently explained why he is childless today.

“I was a college student when I read [Paul] Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb,” he said in a letter published by the Wall Street Journal.

“I took it to heart and now have no grandchildren, but 50 years later the population has increased to eight billion without dire consequences. I was gullible and stupid.”

Emde might have been gullible, but that doesn’t make him stupid. 

Countless people were swept up by the maelstrom of fear created by Ehrlich’s 1968 book, which predicted mass famine due to a coming “population explosion.”

The Population Bomb was omnipresent on college campuses in the late 1960s and early ’70s and received a massive amount of media attention because of its scary subject matter. (Three decades after it was published, I was assigned the book as an undergrad in college.) Ehrlich, who at the time was young, telegenic, and breezily confident, was happy to talk about his book on TV and offer social “remedies.”

His solution to the population bomb began with government-sponsored propaganda designed to convince Americans that no patriotic family would have more than two children (“preferably one”).

“You ought to make the [Federal Communications Commission] see to it that large families are always treated in a negative light on television,” Ehrlich told an interviewer in 1970.

“There ought to be a tremendous amount of television time devoted to spot commercials, the sort we’ve had against smoking.”

If that failed to move the needle, Ehrlich said, the government should use the tax structure to disincentivize women from having children and offer financial bonuses to women who forgo motherhood.

“If that doesn’t work, then you’ll have the government legislate the size of the family,” Ehrlich calmly continued.

“If we don’t get the population under control with voluntary means… the government will simply tell you how many children you can have and throw you in jail if you have too many.”

Watching the interview today, it’s easy to dismiss Ehrlich as a cocky and kooky peddler of Malthusianism, a school of scarcity economics popularized by doomsayer Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), an English economist who made similar dire population predictions in the early 19th century (and, more recently, by Thanos in the Marvel movies.)

Ehrlich’s predictions on population and famine were just as wrong as Malthus’s, and thankfully his ideas were never implemented in the United States.

But others paid attention to Ehrlich’s warnings, and not just college students like Kenneth Emde.

The Origins of China’s One-Child Policy

Seven years after the publication of Ehrlich’s book, a Chinese military scientist named Song Jian visited the University of Twente in the Netherlands as part of an academic delegation to the Dutch university.

During his visit Song met a Dutch mathematician named Geert Jan Olsder who had written papers on population control, including a 1973 paper titled “Population planning; a distributed time optimal control problem.” Much like Ehrlich, Olsder believed that an “optimal” birth rate could be achieved through centralized planning.

“Given a certain initial age profile the population must be ‘steered’ as quickly as possible to another, prescribed, final age profile by means of a suitable chosen birth rate,” Olsder wrote.

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Olsder recalled how he told Song, who’d pioneered China’s anti-ballistic missile system, his research had been inspired by “warnings about finite global resources and how mathematical models could be applied to birthrates.”

The podcast Freakonomics summarized Olsder’s recollection of their first meeting (the men would meet again a few years later in Finland).

“According to Olsder, they went out for beers and talked about population planning,” wrote Bourree Lam.

“Olsder thought nothing of it.”

The meeting apparently had a much deeper impact on Song, whose expertise in cybernetics translated well, he believed, to the field of population modeling. After the trip, Song began working with other scientists on his demographic projections, and by 1980 he was presenting reports to officials of the Chinese Communist Party predicting China would have more than 4 billion people by the approach of the 22nd century.

Susan Greenhalgh, the John King and Wilma Cannon Fairbank Research Professor of Chinese Society in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, traces China’s notorious one-child policy directly to Song.

Writing in The China Quarterly in 2005, Greenhalgh pointed out that elite scientists like Song, aerospace engineer Qian Xuesen, and nuclear physicist Qian Sanqiang had tremendous prestige and influence in China. This gave Song “the scientific, political, and cultural resources and the self-confidence to redefine the nation’s population problem, create a radically new ‘scientific’ solution to it, and persuade China’s leaders that his policy of one child for all was the only way out of China’s demographic impasse.”

If one doubts Greenhalgh’s claims, it’s worth noting that Song himself claimed credit for inspiring China’s one-child policy.

“[Our 1980 projections] shocked the scientific circles and politicians,” he wrote in a 1995 article, “[leading the government to] follow a policy of ‘one child system.’”

China’s One-Child Policy: A Total Failure

Whether there is a straight line from Ehrlich to Olsder to Song is not certain.

What is clear, however, is that Song was a key leader in the Chinese central government’s pivotal meeting in Chengdu in March 1980 to discuss the scope and details of what had already become China’s new policy: citizens should have just one child. (As early as October 1979, Deng Xiaoping, the communist leader of China, had informed members of a British delegation in Beijing of China’s “one-child policy.”)

China’s one-child policy proved to be not just a moral abomination but a total failure, something even Chinese Communist Party officials seemed to recognize long before the policy was officially rescinded in 2016.

Though near-universal one-child restrictions were codified into China’s constitution in 1982, the policy’s history is peppered with rollbacks and exceptions that began as early as 1984. These included allowing some parents to have a second child if the first was a daughter, and allowing exemptions for some provinces and ethnic groups.

By the 2000s, Communist officials seemed to realize they had a new problem on their hands: a birth shortage. Models began to show an ominous drop in population, portending severe economic problems down the road.

More exemptions to the one-child policy followed. Then, in 2015, the Chinese government announced it was lifting its cap to allow two children per family. By 2021, it was three. Soon thereafter there were no procreation restrictions at all.

Today, China’s government is offering various incentives to get citizens to procreate. Researchers at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Victoria University recently told the Journal that China is projected to have just 525 million people by 2100, a collapse of more than 60 percent of its current population (1.4 billion).

“Our forecasts for 2022 and 2023 were already low but the real situation has turned out to be worse,” Xiujian Peng, a fellow at Victoria University who leads research on China’s population, told the paper.

Forced Sterilization and Abortion Quotas

The moral problems with China’s one-child policy were apparent from the beginning.

Though Ehrlich may not have received the memo, international human rights groups since the 1960s had declared in charters that “parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children.” The Communist regime in China cared little for such rights, which resulted in its gruesome and well-documented enforcement practices: forced sterilization and abortion quotas in regions that ignored the policy.

While many people across the world were rightfully appalled by these practices, few today realize how widely these practices were embraced by prominent institutions in the West. 

Ehrlich’s book had created a moral panic. By preposterously predicting that “England will not exist” by 2020 and tens of millions of Americans would soon starve because of unfettered population growth, officials within some of the most powerful institutions in the West — the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the Swedish International Development Authority, and the Rockefeller Foundation — began advocating forced sterilization, a policy supported by Ehrlich.

Douglas Ensminger, a representative of the Ford Foundation in India, worked directly with government officials there to create the infrastructure to forcibly sterilize millions in one of the worst human rights violations in modern history.

According to the BBC, an astounding 6.2 million men — mostly poor ones — were sterilized in a single year, far exceeding any of the sterilization efforts led by the Nazis during World War II.

For various reasons—including the fact that both countries were far poorer and more populous—the population control policies took place in China and India at a scale they did not in the United States. 

This isn’t to say population control efforts didn’t occur in America; they did. But these efforts ran into more resistance in the US (see Buck v. Bell), largely because the American system is designed to curb the erosion of rights that such efforts inevitably require.

The smooth-talking Ehrlich might have been able to convince men like Emde and Ensminger that population control was a moral imperative, much like the brilliant military scientist Song was able to convince Communist officials that unchecked procreation was a dire threat. But widespread population-control policies proved more difficult to sustain in the US and remain a non-starter today at the federal level because of the American system’s emphasis on limited government, individual rights, and the separation of powers.

Where those protections were weaker (in minority communities, prison, and mental asylums) population control “experts” had some success in states pushing sterilization efforts with devastating results.

As recently as the early 2000s, California was running a sterilization program for inmates in state prisons. The American conception of individual rights can be fragile, especially in the face of moral panic created by doomsayers preaching the latest apocalypse.

A Dying Dragon and the Perils of Planning

Despite growing fears in the West of the “Red Dragon Rising,” China’s coming population collapse raises serious doubts about its economic future. The Chinese government’s policies designed to incentivize procreation might manage to reverse the decline, but such an outcome is unlikely.

“History suggests that once a country crosses the threshold of negative population growth, there is little that its government can do to reverse it,” the New York Times recently observed in a report on China’s demographic plight.

That China’s downfall stems from its own collectivist policies is no small irony, but it should come as no surprise. It stems from the same flawed thinking that led to the fall of the last communist empire: the Soviet Union.

Both systems suffered from the fatal conceit that central planners can effectively engineer society if they’re only given the proper coercive tools to do so. 

Central planners are not omniscient, and this is evidenced by China’s own policies.

“In the last 80 years China has swerved from pro-natal sentiment, to anti-natal sentiment, to anti-natal policy, to pro-natal sentiment, and likely to pro-natal policy soon,” wrote economist Peter Jacobsen.

The only thing consistent in China’s schizophrenic approach to population control over the last century is this: central planners, not individual families, get to decide how many children people should have.

Call this what you will, but it’s not science.

“Planning other people’s actions means to prevent them from planning for themselves, means to deprive them of their essentially human quality, means enslaving them,” economist Ludwig von Mises once observed.

China is paying the price for its barbaric and byzantine policies. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/13/2024 - 17:40
Published:3/13/2024 5:01:01 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:3/13/2024 8:09:57 AM
[Markets] Writer Ridiculed For Asking "Where Are The Black People?" In Ancient Japan Samurai Show Writer Ridiculed For Asking "Where Are The Black People?" In Ancient Japan Samurai Show

Authored by Steve Watson via Modernity.news,

A writer for lefty woke outlet Medium is facing ridicule for penning an article complaining about the lack of black actors in a new TV show about Samurai warriors in Japan in the year 1600.

The show, produced by FX, is a remake of the popular Shogun series from 1980, which also featured no black actors.

Because it’s about ancient Japan.

The network’s guide to the series states “FX’s Shogun, based on James Clavell’s bestselling novel, is set in Japan in the year 1600, at the dawn of a century-defining civil war. Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) is fighting for his life as his enemies on the Council of Regents unite against him, when a mysterious European ship is found marooned in a nearby fishing village.”

There are European people in the series too, because Europeans travelled to Japan in boats at that time.

Japanese and Europeans, but no blacks? Medium writer and critical race theorist William Spivey cannot abide that.

He writes “The white characters appearing in the first episodes representing Portugal, Spain, England, and Holland could hardly be deemed heroic. However, the character John Blackthorne, now played by Cosmo Jarvis, is already a pivotal figure and will be a hero, along with several Japanese characters.”

Oh no! the horror.

” I ask the question now that I naively didn’t ask in 1980. Where are the Black people?” he adds.

In Africa, that’s the short answer. But no, Spivey isn’t done. He goes on to claim that there absolutely were black people in Japan in 1600 and some of them were Samurai warriors.

“I don’t ask out of a desire to see representation when it wasn’t historically accurate. I inquire because there were Black people in Japan in 1600 and before, though Japan could teach Florida a thing or two about rewriting history,” he claims.

Spivey continues, “According to multiple sources, one of the early real-life Shoguns, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758–811), was Black, though denied by others. There is a consensus he was something other than pure Japanese, and he is often considered descended from the Ainu, the darker-skinned indigenous people of northern Japan who were subjected to forced assimilation and colonization.”

Not content with that unverifiable and inaccurate claim, he made up a ‘Japanese’ proverb, that goes “For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood.”

Note Spivey’s capitalisation of the word ‘black’. This proverb, if it exists at all which it likely doesn’t, is not referring to black people, but rather darkness of the soul.

Respondents, including black people, pointed out that all of this is nuts and yet another example of the insane fringe effort to blackify history, which has included baseless claims of black ancient Britons, RomansscholarsMesolithic hunter-gatherers, and the list goes on.

*  *  *

Your support is crucial in helping us defeat mass censorship. Please consider donating via Locals or check out our unique merch. Follow us on X @ModernityNews.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/12/2024 - 10:20
Published:3/12/2024 9:46:37 AM
[Ridiculae] Inside a 2074 Climate Fantasy "... We had bigger things to worry about, like whether drag queens should have been allowed to read books to children ..." Published:3/12/2024 12:42:30 AM
[Markets] Gold & Bitcoin At Record Highs Are "Huge Dollar No-Confidence Vote" - Rubino Warns US Financial Death Spiral Is "Inevitable & Imminent" Gold & Bitcoin At Record Highs Are "Huge Dollar No-Confidence Vote" - Rubino Warns US Financial Death Spiral Is "Inevitable & Imminent"

Via Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com.

Analyst and financial writer John Rubino warned nearly four months ago of a “U.S. Financial Death Spiral.”  

This past week, Bank of America caught up to Rubino and issued a warning about a “US dollar death spiral” because the federal government was going deeper in the red by creating “$1 trillion in new debt every 100 days.”  

Maybe this is why gold and Bitcoin have been hitting new all-time highs day after day.  Rubino says, “When a building was worth $200 million and someone sells it for $48 million, that means there is a loss that someone has to take.  Those losses are mostly on the books of regional and local banks.  So, they are in big trouble financially..."

"You will get these massive bank runs that the government will have to step in and bail out.  This is one of many things that will happen in the not-so-distant future.  This will impact government finances in a scary way that will send people’s attention to the currency.  In other words, if we have another $3 trillion bailout on top of everything else that’s going on . . .what is that going to do to the dollar?

...Currencies are being inflated away with all these bailouts, deficits, wars and all these things that are going on that are bad for the currency.  So, people start selling government bonds, which push up interest rates and blows up even more bad real estate and paper . . . until you get a debt spiral, a real live financial death spiral than cannot be fixed...

I was talking to a real estate guy the other day, and he said this is not just inevitable, it is imminent.  It is happening now.  It is happening quickly, and it is going to hit the headlines...

In this case, what is inevitable in commercial real estate is also looking imminent.”

Rubino goes on to say, The numbers are not lost on the guys running the big investment banks and the big media outlets.  They are sitting around, and they are thinking we have to say something about this because this is obviously a very big financial story.  So, we have to report on it.  Finally, the numbers have gotten big enough with the deficits and government interest costs..."

"...that this is a story that cannot be ignored anymore.  It’s got to be pretty far along before they reach that point because they really don’t want to report on this.  To report on this is seen as a betrayal of the establishment, and they are part of the establishment.  They are playing on that team.  The debt numbers are finally big enough that they can’t be ignored anymore, and that implies that we are getting near the end of the road.”

Gold and Bitcoin both hit all-time new highs this past week.  What does it mean?  Rubino explains,

“This means the market is speaking, and it’s concluding these currencies have a problem.  Capital is flowing into the alternatives.  It’s flowing into the old kind of money that has held up for thousands of years like gold or the possible new kind of money like Bitcoin that has come on relatively recently (when compared to gold)...

In either case, it is a vote against the dollar.  When gold and Bitcoin are both spiking, it is a big vote of no confidence in the dollar.

In closing, Rubino says, “There is no way to know how this plays out in the next six months, but this should terrify the central banks."

By the way, the big central banks are behaving as if they are terrified because they are aggressively buying gold.  They have bought about 1,000 tons of gold in each of the last two years.  1,000 tons is a fourth of the gold that comes out of all the gold mines in a given year.  So, that is a major purchase, and they take the gold off the market.  They don’t turn around and sell it.  They put it away as a reserve asset.  The gold is effectively disappearing.  This makes the market even tighter, and this is also part of the reason why gold is going up.”

There is much more in the 42-minute interview.

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with financial writer John Rubino and his new enterprise called Rubino.Substack.com for 3.9.24.

To Donate to USAWatchdog.com Click Here

John Rubino is a prolific financial writer, and you can see some of his work for free at Rubino.Substack.com.  There is even more cutting-edge original information and analysis if you subscribe.

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/11/2024 - 06:30
Published:3/11/2024 5:48:32 AM
[Politics] Exploits of the Ex-Presidents

Increasingly our best works of American history are being authored by writers who've never attended a faculty meeting. Add to that list Jared Cohen, president of global affairs at Goldman Sachs, who has published half-a-dozen books, including the 2017 bestseller Accidental Presidents, which chronicled the men who ascended to the Oval Office after the deaths of their elected predecessors.

The post Exploits of the Ex-Presidents appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:3/10/2024 4:33:09 AM
[Markets] University Of Virginia Spends $20 Million On 235 DEI Employees, With Some Making $587,340 Per Year University Of Virginia Spends $20 Million On 235 DEI Employees, With Some Making $587,340 Per Year

By Adam Andrzejewski of Open The Books substack

The University of Virginia (UVA) has at least 235 employees under its “diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)” banner — including 82 students — whose total cost of employment is estimated at $20 million. That’s $15 million in cash compensation plus an additional 30-percent for the annual cost of their benefits.

In contrast, last Friday, the University of Florida dismissed its DEI bureaucracy, saving students and taxpayers $5 million per year. The university terminated 13 full-time DEI positions and 15 administrative faculty appointments. Those funds have been re-programmed into a “faculty recruitment fund” to attract better people who actually teach students.

No such luck for learning at Virginia’s flagship university – founded by Thomas Jefferson no less. UVA has a much deeper DEI infrastructure.

Reform or abolition must await this summer’s anticipated changes in the school’s Board of Visitors. At least until then, the very highly compensated, generally non-teaching, DEI staffers are safely embedded throughout the entire university – while costing students and taxpayers a fortune.

Our team of auditors at OpenTheBooks.com reviewed the university payroll file for 2023 to sort out the DEI position head counts, compensation, and then estimated the cost of benefits.

Meet The Top Paid DEI Executives

Martin N. Davidson, senior associate dean of the Darden School of Business & global chief diversity officer, earns the most in a DEI role, at $452,000, or $587,340 including benefits. For comparison, Glenn Youngkin, the governor of Virginia earned $175,000.

The second most highly compensated DEI executive is Kevin G. McDonald, the vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion and community partnerships, who takes home $401,465, or an estimated $520,000 with benefits.

Those in DEI leadership roles such as vice presidents, associate/assistant deans, directors, assistant directors and managers earned up to $312,000 last year, or $400,000 with benefits.

When McDonald began in his position in August 2019, he was making $340,000, eligible for a 10-percent bonus every year. His first year, he was given a $25,000 recruitment bonus and up to $30,000 for relocation costs, according to UVA records provided through the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Some of the DEI chiefs have been transparent about their philosophies during their public comments. For example, Rachel Spraker, an assistant vice president for equity & inclusive excellence – where she earned $186,800 last year or $242,840 with benefits – described the opioid epidemic in Appalachia as an example of “white toxicity.”

DEI staff aren’t the only well-paid employees in controversial roles at UVA.

Lanice Avery, an assistant professor of psychology in the departments of Psychology and Women, Gender and Sexuality, makes $102,200 ($132,860 with estimated benefits). She runs the Research on Intersectionality, Sexuality, and Empowerment (RISE) Lab at UVA and writes and speaks about black, female sexuality, and describes herself as a “board-certified sexologist” and speaks online about her orgasms.

UVA’s DEI Infrastructure

What does the DEI bureaucracy do?

There are 187 UVA employees and students dedicated to “assist and monitor all units of the University in their efforts to recruit and retain faculty, staff, and student from historically underrepresented groups and to provide affirmative and supportive environments for work and life…”

Here are some of the university agencies committed to the DEI mission. If you think you are seeing double in this list, you are right:

  • Equity Center (110 employees total: 37 employees +73 students),
  • Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (17 employees +1 student),
  • Multicultural Student Services (6 employees +10 students),
  • Office of Diversity & Engagement (3 employees + 4 students)
  • Center for Diversity (4 students)

Included in the DEI employment roster are another 31 people working in DEI roles sprinkled throughout other departments, including the Urology Department, in Occupational Programs, for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and other areas.

Then, there are another 48 employees and students working in roles related to DEI and advancing equality for women, minorities, etc.

  • Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center (21 employees, including 4 undergrad students/interns)
  • Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (16 employees working on Title IX compliance, sexual misconduct investigations and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, among other things)
  • Office of African American Affairs (4 employees)
  • Center for Global Health Equity (4 employees and 3 student employees working on providing health services to mostly Third World countries)

Not included in the DEI numbers for this investigation were the Women, Gender and Sexuality Department with 10 professors making a collective $857,103 last year ($1.1 million with benefits) and the Psychology Department with 87 employees making $8.4 million ($11 million with benefits).

Adding to the confusion, the university has consistently undercounted DEI staffers in presentations to the public. In April 2023, Kevin McDonald told the New York Times that UVA had only 40 DEI employees. In May 2023, a presentation to the Board of Visitors claimed UVA had only 55 DEI positions.

Even our list of 235 employees is not complete. Here is a great example of an executive with a hidden DEI mission:

Kimberley Barker, Librarian for Digital Life ($80,000, or $104,000 with benefits). Barker isn’t in our database, however, she is the DEI leader for the Health System Library – the “IDEA (Inclusion Diversity Equity Accessibility) lead. Her university bio page lists her as the “Librarian for Belonging and Community Engagement.”

Summary

UVA was founded by Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s work presented the moral case for a common freedom among all men. The university has an historic opportunity to promote the time-tested principles:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

But, instead of working towards the ideal of the Shining City on the Hill under Jeffersonian principles, his university embraced the divisive quotas of the neo-Marxist DEI crowd.

Tens of millions of dollars in student tuition and taxpayer monies are flowing into promoting anti-American notions and radical philosophies that judge the color of one’s skin instead of the content – and competence – of their character.

Students, taxpayers and all who care about learning can look to Florida as the beacon of a new day. Perhaps Virginia, a birthplace of our Constitutional republic, home to birth places of individual rights and freedoms in America, will emulate the model.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 21:00
Published:3/9/2024 8:38:20 PM
[Politics] Irony Alert: RuPaul's Online Bookstore Against Banning Books ... Bans Books From Conservatives Published:3/8/2024 6:14:23 PM
[Markets] "Banning Books Is Never The Answer": RuPaul's "No Censorship" Bookstore Lasted Just Three Days "Banning Books Is Never The Answer": RuPaul's "No Censorship" Bookstore Lasted Just Three Days

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

It took just three days.

After drag performer RuPaul announced the creation of a “no censorship” Allstora bookstore, censorship was back with a vengeance after many on the left learned that free speech meant that opposing views might be sold at the site.  While the sentiment was appealing, it became intolerable when activists noted that a “no censorship” store would mean that they could not censor others.

In the rollout, RuPaul stood in a blue suit before a flag to defy the censors and embrace access to works of different authors and viewpoints. For many of us, it was an exciting moment. The anti-free speech movement on the left has grown exponentially. Now, this iconic figure from the left was taking a bold stand for free speech.

With ten million titles, readers could buy most any book, including writers like Riley Gaines who have challenged transgender theories.

Various sites like National Review have covered the rise and rapid fall of the free speech initiative.

The rollout was promising. Like many of us, the founders objected to book bans across the country. Such bans have been implemented by both the left and the right.

Allstora was founded on the pledge that “We’re a marketplace for all books and all stories, with a focus on elevating marginalized voices.” Co-founder Eric Cervini and drag performer Adam Powell, welcomed visitors to the website with a pop-up message that warned “you may find books you disagree with.”

The site declared “censorship of any book, perspective, or story is incompatible with the survival of democracy.” After all, “banning books is never the answer.”

The pledge was heralded in the media. Many viewed it as a jab at conservatives to show that there is nothing to fear in access to opposing views.

Then someone thought about what free speech means.

Liberal critics raised the alarm that the bookstore would be selling “homophobic,” “transphobic,” and “anti-woke” works.

Drag performer “Lady Bunny” noted that the store would be selling works by figures like Mike Huckabee, Chaya Raichik, and Matt Walsh.

Lady Bunny asked “Why not just stop selling what many on the left consider to be hate speech?”

That is all that it took.

Allstora first implemented a flagging system for offensive books and then just got rid of the no censorship pledge.

While some sites state that Allstora only moved to add disclaimers, it appears that the no censorship pledge is gone and various authors are missing.

I searched for books by writers like Gaines and Matt Walsh and found nothing.

The obvious response to Lady Bunny is that she is the answer to her question. In the name of combatting hate speech, she is embracing the very tool used by the most hateful movements in history from book burning to black listing of opposing views. Censorship becomes insatiable as the list of offensive topics or views grows from transgender politics to climate change to abortion. Every advocacy group finds opposing its own views to be dangerous and harmful.

It is analogous to what Gandhi said about vengeance:  “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” The same is true about censorship. Eventually it leaves the whole world ignorant.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2024 - 11:55
Published:3/8/2024 11:14:48 AM
[Markets] Stretched Markets Hint At A Pause But "No Panic" Stretched Markets Hint At A Pause But "No Panic"

By Michael Msika, Bloomberg Markets Live reporter and analyst

Markets are showing signs of consolidation after a powerful four-month rally on both sides of the Atlantic. Stretched positioning means a breather may be in order, but major reasons to sell are still absent.

Investors have been increasing their exposure to stocks, yet market breadth looks ok, with a still-narrow rally leaving scope for equity gains to broaden out. While the Stoxx 600 is hovering near overbought levels, only about 15% of individual members are actually overbought.

According to Goldman Sachs, this narrow breadth isn’t a worry when looking at history, as the rest of the market tends to catch up with the handful of stocks that have led the rally. Yet, it could trigger some episodes of volatility. 

“Investors sometimes worry that this may pave the way to a market drawdown, but it does not always,” say Goldman strategists including Lilia Peytavin. Twelve-month aggregate equity returns are positive in 71% of instances following narrow rallies, with an average return of about 8%. Still, “when there is a drawdown, it tends to be deeper.”

Looking at our thematics dashboard, there’s been a bit of rotation away from the hedge fund crowded trades and the Magnificent 7 recently, and toward higher risk themes like most shorted, debt sensitivity and high beta. The overall picture is of high upward momentum with more overbought flags appearing.

Things are looking a bit more stretched in futures, with Citi quant strategist Chris Montagu saying investors have a “complete disinterest in taking a bearish view.” Futures positioning reflects markets “that are both extended and turning increasingly one-sided,” he says, adding that bullish positioning in Nasdaq futures is near the highest in three years, while high levels of profit on Euro Stoxx 50 and DAX long positions creates an elevated risk of profit taking.

For Deutsche Bank strategists, equity positioning is “well above average but not yet extreme.” Gains are supported by strong data and rising economic forecasts, while big buyback announcements are spurring demand for stocks, they say. Meanwhile, volatility control funds have continued to increase exposure to equities, something that Tier1Alpha strategists say has been a tailwind.

Vol control funds added an additional $7 billion in buying requirements to their books last Friday, bringing the two-day total to just over $30 billion,” the strategists say, noting this has created an upward bias in a low volatility regime. They expect favorable conditions to remain in place for at least the first half of this week as vol control funds catch up on their residual rebalancing. After that, there may be some modest selling before fresh inflows around the middle of March. 

While there’s no panic out there, risks of a short-term pullback have increased, so thinking about hedging may not be a bad idea, especially as volatility continues to be sold in both the US and Europe. What’s more is that hedging opportunities look attractive, both on a short and longer-term basis.

One-month ATM volatility on both the Stoxx 600 and the S&P 500 is low vs. the past 5-year history, providing cheap hedges in case of a reversal,” according to Goldman strategist Cecilia Mariotti. Meanwhile, Bank of America strategists recommend that investors “lock in long-term lows in US and EU equity volatility where derivatives most underprice markets’ ability to drift.” 

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/07/2024 - 07:20
Published:3/7/2024 6:36:36 AM
[Markets] Alteration Of Gut Microbiota Affects The Severity And Complications Of COVID-19 Alteration Of Gut Microbiota Affects The Severity And Complications Of COVID-19

Authored by Elllen Wan via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Increasing evidence suggests that alterations in the gut microbiota are associated with the development, severity, and sequelae of COVID-19 infection.

In the adult digestive tract, there are approximately 100 trillion microbes, 10 times the number of human cells, and they weigh about 4.41 pounds. These organisms are immune system guardians and can help remove viruses.

(Alpha Tauri 3D Graphics/Shutterstock)

Certain Gut Bacteria Can Inactivate COVID-19 Virus

In a new study published in Cell Host & Microbe, researchers evaluated the impact of gut microbiota composition on respiratory viral infections through animal experiments. The results showed that segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) in the gut could protect mice from viral influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the COVID-19 virus.

Studies have indicated that SFB, whether naturally present or acquired, can combat viral infections with the help of alveolar macrophages in the lungs.

Alveolar macrophages serve as the first line of defense against respiratory pathogens.

In mice that don’t have SFB, these immune cells were rapidly depleted as infection progressed. Conversely, in mice with SFB in the gut, these immune cells underwent alterations to resist the inflammatory signaling induced by the influenza virus. Moreover, alveolar macrophages directly disabled the influenza virus.

Gut-Lung Axis

While the functions of the gut and lungs are different, they share common structural features, as they both develop from the same embryonic tissue. Both the gut and lungs are covered with mucous membranes. These membranes secrete mucin and collectively form a mucosal immune system that defends against pathogens.

As research on COVID-19 progresses, some researchers have noted the bidirectional and complex relationship of the gut-lung axis. Microbiota-derived metabolic pathways can function distally and play a vital role in anti-inflammatory responses in the airways.

The SFB are unlikely to be the only kind of gut microbe capable of affecting the immune cells in the lungs, said Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, a co-senior study author, in a press release.

Dr. Richard Plemper, a co-senior author of the paper, said that among the thousands of microbial species inhabiting the mouse gut, a common commensal microbe significantly impacted respiratory virus infections. He further stated that if these findings apply to human infections, they could have substantial implications for the risk assessment of disease progression in patients.

Research has shown that alterations in the gut microbiota, including changes in specific microbiota species and microbial-derived metabolites, play an important role in regulating the severity and progression of COVID-19 infection and post-recovery complications.

Viral Respiratory Tract Infection Affects the Gut Microbiota

An analysis of fecal samples from 102 patients with severe COVID-19 infection following ICU admission found that decreased concentrations of gut microbiome metabolite—secondary bile acids and desaminotyrosine—were associated with an increased risk of respiratory failure and mortality.

Another study revealed that patients infected with COVID-19 showed a decrease or depletion of bacteria with immune-regulating capabilities in the body, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, as well as some bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families.

Additionally, respiratory virus infections are often observed in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Microbiota analysis of these patients showed that those with reduced levels of commensal bacterial species producing butyrate had a fivefold increase in the progression of viral respiratory tract infections.

Enhancing Gut Health to Build Robust Immunity

The intestinal tract, the largest immune organ in the human body, plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining a robust immune system, and gut immunity is closely linked to our diet.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria for the gut and are relatively safe health supplements. A retrospective cohort study showed that COVID-19 patients treated with probiotics had a shorter time to clinical improvement, including reduced fever, hospital stays, and viral shedding. Another study also indicated that probiotic treatment significantly shortened the duration of diarrhea in critically ill COVID-19 patients.

BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health published a study in 2021 analyzing the effects of dietary habits on COVID-19 infection, severity of symptoms, and duration of the illness.

The study covered 2,884 frontline health care workers from six different countries, investigating their dietary habits and the severity of COVID-19 infection. The results showed that participants who followed either a plant-based or pescatarian diet (where a person doesn’t eat meat but eats fish) had a 59 percent lower odds of developing moderate to severe COVID-19 than those who did not.

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/06/2024 - 22:20
Published:3/6/2024 9:28:43 PM
[Education] Critics of ‘Banning’ Books Are Wrong: They’re Not All Suitable for Kids

Our English teachers taught us to use extreme caution before writing a word such as “always” or “never.” Such totalizing words are rarely accurate, since... Read More

The post Critics of ‘Banning’ Books Are Wrong: They’re Not All Suitable for Kids appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/6/2024 3:29:52 PM
[Markets] NYCB Announces $1BN Equity Infusion, Fmr Tsy Sec Mnuchin Joins Board NYCB Announces $1BN Equity Infusion, Fmr Tsy Sec Mnuchin Joins Board

Update (1410ET): Having seen shares collapse over 40% before being halted for 'news pending', we have the news...

Bloomberg reports that New York Community Bancorp plans to announce an equity investment of more than $1 billion led by Steven Mnuchin’s Liberty Strategic Capital, Hudson Bay Capital and Reverence Capital Partners, according to a spokesperson for the bank.

Liberty will invest $450 million, Hudson Bay $250 million and Reverence $200 million as part of the transaction, the spokesperson said.

In connection with the deal, NYCB will reduce the board to nine members, adding new directors, including Mnuchin and Joseph Otting, former comptroller of the currency.

Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated:

"In evaluating this investment, we were mindful of the Bank's credit risk profile. With the over $1 billion of capital invested in the Bank, we believe we now have sufficient capital should reserves need to be increased in the future to be consistent with or above the coverage ratio of NYCB's large bank peers."

Non-Executive Chairman Sandro DiNello stated,

"We welcome the approach that Liberty and its partners took in its evaluation of the Bank and look forward to incorporating their insights going forward. The strategic investment involving former Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former Comptroller Joseph Otting and Milton Berlinski, along with the other institutional investors is a positive endorsement of the turnaround that is underway and allows us to execute on our strategy from a position of strength. We enter this next chapter with a strong balance sheet and liquidity position supported by a diversified and retail focused deposit base. Our new leadership team, with the support of the reconstituted Board, will continue to take the actions that are necessary to improve earnings, profitability and drive enhanced value for shareholders."

Secretary Mnuchin stated,

"We decided to make this investment because we believe Sandro, alongside new management, has taken the appropriate actions to stabilize the Company and to position NYCB to become a best-in-class $100+ billion national bank with a diversified and de-risked business model that supports long term profitability. We are delighted that former Comptroller Otting will be NYCB's new CEO and believe that the actions taken by NYCB establish a strong foundation for future growth through our new relationship with other new Board members and investors. We are confident that NYCB is poised to generate sustainable shareholder value."

The question, of course, is just how diluted the current equity holders just got...

*  *  *

And the hits just keep coming...

Once the darling of the small banking crisis comeback, New York Community Bancorp has crashed 45% to fresh 30 year lows after The Wall Street Journal reports the bank is seeking to raise equity capital in a bid to shore up confidence in the troubled regional lender.

According to people familiar with the matter, NYCB has dispatched bankers to gauge investors’ interest in buying stock in the company.

There’s no guarantee there will be a deal, or that one would succeed in addressing the bank’s challenges, which as of Wednesday morning had led to a roughly 80% decline in its stock price since January.

This is not a good picture for a bank... Would you hold your deposits there?

Last month, DiNello laid out a series of options the bank could explore to bolster its balance sheet, including selling assets from certain non-core businesses. The bank has also considered turning to newfangled financial instruments that would share the risks of those loans with outside investors, people familiar with the matter said.

As WSJ reports, finding takers for those assets, at least at prices that would make a deal worthwhile, has been challenging and U.S. officials have expressed reservations with banks pursuing credit-risk transfers that would shift the burden of potential losses to entities outside of the regulated banking system.

Finally, as a reminder, NYCB is not alone. The red line below shows 'small banks' are in trouble absent The Fed's BTFP facility...

Oh, and this is fine...

And perhaps that's why the broad regional bank index is also getting hit today...

Beware the Ides of March as RRP liquidity evaporates.

Think this is isolated?

Think again.

As Chris Whalen details below via The Institutional Risk Analyst, the short answer as to what happens next is that we think that the bank may be sold, one way or another. The profitable Flagstar residential servicing business could be offered for sale in order to make a downpayment for the cleanup of the NYCB legacy multifamily portfolio. But in the wake of credit downgrades, NYCB itself may need to be acquired by another bank.

KBW said in a research note that NYCB could tap into its $78 billion in unpaid balances of mortgage-servicing rights to raise capital through a potential sale. The portfolio has a carrying value of $1.1 billion, analysts said. That is a mere downpayment, however, on a larger mess emanating from the bank's impaired multifamily assets.

Without an investment grade credit rating, banks cannot hold escrow balances for conventional or government loans. We cannot see how NYCB keeps the billions in conventional and government escrow deposits long-term. The whole Flagstar servicing platform and more than $300 billion in residential loan servicing, mostly for third parties like nonbank mortgage issuers, needs a new home.

Obviously the shareholders of Flagstar are coming to rue the decision to join forces with NYCB, an under-managed community bank with a portfolio of performing but ultimately unsalable multifamily assets. Thanks to the New York State legislature’s 2019 rent control law, which was supported by Governor Kathy Hochul, all banks in New York City that hold rent stabilized assets on the books are now capital impaired.  Several of these banks in New York City may fail as a result of Albany's actions.

So who might acquire NYCB?

First, we take JPMorgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) off the table. The former is already the largest residential mortgage servicer in the US and the latter is exiting the residential mortgage business with finality. The departure of Wells from residential mortgages is bad news for consumers and cause for glee among progressive cadres in the Biden Administration. In any event, neither bank wants any part of the Ginnie Mae sub-servicing book inside Flagstar.  

Next is Citigroup (C), an intriguing possibility for a bank that badly needs new ideas and revenue streams. Citi has been in and out of residential mortgages for the past 50 years. In the 1980s, Citi introduced the first no-doc mortgage in the US market.

Since subprime consumer credit is a big part of Citi’s business, why not add a good sized residential mortgage business and get back into the housing finance game?  There are few other industry segments that have enough size to matter to Citi. Flagstar is the number two warehouse lender after JPM. Overnight, Citi becomes the top bank servicer in the Ginnie Mae market and a significant issuer of MBS. 

After Citi the obvious candidate for NYCB is U.S. Bancorp (USB), which is now the second largest residential bank loan producer after Chase. Although USB is still digesting the acquisition of Union Bank of California, they are a player in residential servicing and loan administration. USB could easily acquire the NYCB mortgage platform and billions in escrow deposits.

The idea of NYCB losing stable escrow deposits argues against the sale of the Flagstar mortgage platform and in favor of selling or recapitalizing the whole bank. But is this possible short of an FDIC intervention? Again, the actions taken by Albany in 2019 make NYCB and other New York banks unsalable short of an FDIC takeover.

If you are an investor looking at NYCB, the big question is the 40% of total loans and leases in multifamily assets. If NYCB were to either sell or risk-share a substantial portion of the rent stabilized multifamily assets, then the prospects for the business improve significantly. But given the disclosures about weak controls over loan underwriting, investors are going to be very cautious about making any assumptions on valuation. And risk-sharing is not yet broadly relevant for commercial assets.

Looking at the volume of risk-sharing deals done by banks so far, virtually all of the transactions are for consumer facing assets. Banco Santander (SAN) leads the pack on risk sharing auto and consumer loans. Commercial loans are far more difficult.  Western Alliance (WAL) and Texas Capital Bank (TCBI) have done risk sharing deals in prime RMBS and warehouse loans, but commercial mortgages will likely be handled as customized, bespoke arrangements done on single loans.  Selling the loans outright to hard money investors may be easier. 

NYCB might want to consider creating a separate “bad bank” containing rent stabilized assets from the legacy NYCB to put pressure on Governor Hochul and the New York legislature to come and clean up their mess. Indeed, FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg ought to lead that discussion with Governor Hochul. His agency – and all the FDIC insured banks he represents – now hold the bag on billions in eventual losses on rent-stabilized Signature Bank commercial mortgage loans as well as loans held by other banks. The intemperate actions of the State of New York caused these losses. 

We expect to see a number of creative structures being rolled out to address the impairment of multifamily commercial mortgages on the books of US banks. Risk-sharing is useful and can actually reduce the risk weighted assets of a bank and improve capital ratios, but at a cost to the bank in terms of income. Other techniques involve selling the low-coupon mortgage and replacing it with risk-free collateral that generates a similar cash flow, but frees up regulatory capital for other purposes.

Despite the promise of risk-sharing transactions, at the end of the day raising new capital and managing the delinquency may be a better approach. In the case of NYCB, raising new equity is not feasible. Indeed, any prospective buyer may demand some form of loss sharing from the FDIC on the multifamily book. If, for example, we assume a conservative 20% haircut on rent-stabilized buildings in NYC, many of the smaller institutions are insolvent.

That said, we would not be surprised to see an arranged marriage involving NYCB and a larger player that wants a bigger role in aggregating, selling and servicing residential mortgages. Even the likes of Goldman Sachs (GS), which has a significant presence in lending on residential warehouse loans and mortgage servicing rights, might find NYCB a compelling opportunity -- given the proper incentives from FDIC, of course.

Bloomberg columnist Max Abelson wrote an epitaph of sorts for NYCB this week:

"How NYCB got here is a tale of percolating financial risks, changing rules and shifting regulators. New rent restrictions became law in 2019, but instead of acknowledging a hit to its loan book, the bank got bigger. Back-to-back acquisitions, first Flagstar and then parts of Signature Bank, almost doubled the firm's size and set it on a collision course with new rules for banks holding more than $100 billion of assets."

We still own NYCB, but we strongly recommend that our readers stand clear until management gives shareholders a very specific roadmap to recovery. The economics of the bank's multifamily book are gnarly at best. Does the FDIC want to resolve another $100 plus billion asset regional bank? Hell no. Because the mess flows downhill, it may be time for creativity on the part of the FDIC and the State of New York.

FDIC Chairman Gruenberg ought to tell Governor Hochul and New York State to take over the rent stabilized loans from Signature, NYCB and other lenders or face an old fashioned FDIC liquidation as and when any banks fail. The number of public housing units in New York City will soar, placing enormous pressure on the city's finances. If the multifamily building cannot be financed by a bank, then the City of New York likely will end up as the owner.

Imagine if FDIC went "by the book" and next week sold all of the rent stabilized Signature Bank multifamily assets for whatever hard money bid is available. New York would face a political crisis. Governor Hochul and progressives in Albany caused this mess, which now threatens the solvency of a number of New York banks. The State of New York should take ownership of its fine work and repeal the 2019 rent control legislation.

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/06/2024 - 14:10
Published:3/6/2024 1:24:15 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:3/6/2024 7:13:11 AM
[b2aaecf0-666c-574a-ad72-7ee5fdff21c1] Louisiana becomes nation's 28th state with constitutional carry law on the books: 'landmark victory' Republican Lousiana Gov. Jeff Landry signed a permitless carry bill into law on Tuesday, marking the 28th state in the nation with such laws on the books. Published:3/5/2024 11:30:38 AM
[Markets] 'We Have Liftoff!' - Spot Gold Takes Out Record High 'We Have Liftoff!' - Spot Gold Takes Out Record High

Extending their run of the last few days, spot gold prices just exceeded their all-time highs, topping $2140 for the first time in history...

Source: Bloomberg

Source: Bloomberg

What is gold pricing in about future Fed action? Real rates dramatically negative?

Source: Bloomberg

Paging Benoit?

As Egon von Greyerz details in his latest note, "we have liftoff", expect more to come...

All Empires die without fail, so do all Fiat currencies. But gold has been shining for 5000 years and as I explain in this article, Gold is likely to outshine virtually all assets in the next 5-10 years. 

In early 2002 we made major investments in physical gold for our investors and ourselves. At the time gold was around $300. Our primary objective was wealth preservation. The Nasdaq had already crashed 67% but before the bottom was reached, it lost another 50%. The total loss was 80% with many companies going bankrupt. 

In 2006, just over 4 years later, the Great Financial Crisis started. In 2008, the financial system was minutes from imploding. Banks like JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and many others were bankrupt – BANCA ROTTA – (see my article First Gradually then Suddenly, The Everything Collapse

Virtually unlimited money printing postponed the collapse and since 2008 US total debt has almost doubled to $100 trillion

Gold backing of a currency doesn’t always solve a debt problem but it certainly makes it more difficult for the government to cook the books which they do without fail.

BONFIRE OF THE US BUDGET BOOKS

So tricky Dick (Nixon) couldn’t make ends meet in the late 1960s – early 70s partly due to the Vietnam war. 

Thus in 1971 Nixon, by closing the Gold window, started the most spectacular bonfire of the US government budget books. How wonderful, no more accountability, no more shackles and no more gold deliveries to de Gaulle in France who was clever to ask for gold instead of dollars in debt settlement from the US. 

So from August 1971, the US embarked on a money printing and credit expansion bonanza never seen before in history. 

Total US debt went from $2 trillion in 1971 to $200 trillion today – up 100X!

Since most major currencies were linked to the dollar under the Bretton Woods system, the closing of the gold window started a global free for all with the printing press (including bank credit) replacing REAL MONEY i.e. GOLD. 

The consequences of this “temporary” move by Nixon is that all Fiat or paper money has declined by 97-99% since 1971. 

The price of assets have obviously inflated correspondingly. In 1971 total US financial assets were $2 trillion. Today they are $130 trillion, up 65X. 

And if we include off balance sheet assets including the shadow banking system and derivatives, we are looking at assets (which will become liabilities) in excess of $2 quadrillion. 

I forecast the derivative bubble and demise of Credit Suisse in this article (Archegos & Credit Suisse – Tip of the Icebergand also in this one (The $2.3 Quadrillion Global Debt Time Bomb).

HEADS, GOLD WINS – TAILS, GOLD WINS

Luke Gromen in his Tree Rings report puts forward two options for the world economy which can be summarised as follows:

1. Dedollarisation continues, the Petrodollar dies and gold gradually replaces the dollar as a global commodity trading currency especially in the commodity rich BRICS countries. This would allow commodity prices to stay low as gold rises and drives a virtuous circle of global trade.  

If the above option sounds too good to be true especially bearing in mind the bankrupt status of the global financial system, Luke puts forward a much less pleasant outcome. 

And in my view, Luke’s alternative outcome is sadly more likely, namely:

2. “China, the US Treasury market, and the global economy implode spectacularly, sending the world into a new Great Depression, political instability, and possibly WW3…in which case, gold probably rises spectacularly all the same, as bonds and then equities scramble for one of the only assets with no counterparty risk – gold.   (BTC is another.)”

Yes, Bitcoin couldgo to $1 million as I have often said but it could also go to Zero if it is banned. Too binary for me and not a good wealth preservation risk in any case.

As Gromen says, there is a virtuous case and there is a vicious case for the world economy. 

But above both cases shines GOLD!

So why hold the worthless paper money or bubble assets when you can protect yourself with Gold!

FOR THE CBO BAD TIMES DON’T EXIST

The US Central Budget Office – CBO – has recently made a 10 year forecast.

Obviously, the CBO assumes no depression or even a little recession in the next 10 years!

Isn’t it wonderful to be a government employee and have a mandate to only forecast GOOD NEWS!  

And although the CBO forecasts a debt increase of $21 trillion by 2034 to a total of $55 trillion, they expect inflation to stay around 2%!

As I have stated in many articles, the US Federal debt has doubled every 8 years on average since Reagan became President in 1981!

I see no reason to deviate from that long term trend although there can be short term deviations. So based on that simple but historically accurate extrapolation, I could forecast the increase from $10 trillion to $20 trillion debt in 2009 when Obama took over from Bush Jr.

Extrapolating this trend, the US Federal Debt will reach $100 trillion in 2036

With debts and deficits increasing exponentially, it is not unlikely that as inflation catches fire again, $100 trillion Federal Debt will be reached earlier than 2036.

Just think about a big number of bank failures, which is guaranteed, plus major defaults in the $2+ quadrillion derivative market. Against such dire background, it would be surprising if US debt doesn’t go far beyond $100 trillion by the mid 2030s!

 STOCK MARKET BUBBLE & LEADERSHIP SWAPS

Investors and many analysts are still bullish about the stock market. As we know, markets will move higher until all investors, especially retail, are sucked in and until most of the shorts have liquidated their positions.

It has been a remarkable bull market based on unlimited debt creation. Nobody worries about the fact that 7 stocks are creating this mania. These stocks are well known to most investors: Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Nvidia and Tesla. 

These Magnificent 7 have a total market cap of $13 trillion. That is the same as the combined GDP of Germany, Japan, India and the UK! Only the US and China are bigger. 

When 7 companies are greater than 4 of the biggest industrial economies in the world, it is time to fire the management of these countries and maybe do a swap.

 GATES, COOKE, MUSK TAKING OVER GERMANY, UK & FRANCE

What about Germany’s Chancellor Scholz running Amazon. Or Rishi Sunak in the UK being in charge of Microsoft? How long would it take them to destroy these companies? Not many years in my view. They would quickly double the benefits for workers and increase debts to unsustainable levels.  

But Germany and the UK would most certainly benefit from Bill Gates of Microsoft taking on Germany and Tim Cooke of Apple running the UK. They would of course need dictatorial powers in order to take the draconian measures required. Only then could they slash inefficiencies, halve benefits and reduce taxes by at least 50%.

If the entrepreneurs just got a very small percentage of the improvement in the countries’ finances as remuneration, they would make much more money than they are currently.  

Even more fascinating would be to see Elon Musk as French President. He would fire at least 80% of state employees and by doing that he might even get the militant French unions on his side and get the country back on its feet. 

An interesting thought experiment that of course will never happen.

WHY IS EVERYONE WAITING FOR NEW GOLD HIGHS IN ORDER TO BUY???

For almost 25 years I have been standing on a soapbox to inform investors of the importance of wealth preservation.

Still only just over 0.5% of global financial assets have been invested in gold. In 1960 it was 5% in gold and in 1980 when gold peaked at $850, it was 2.7%.

For a quarter of a century, gold has gone up 7- 8X in most Western currencies and exponentially more in weak currencies like the Argentine Pesos or Venezuelan Bolivar. 

In spite of gold outperforming most asset classes in this century, it remains at less than 1% of Global Financial Assets – GFA. Currently at $2,100 gold is at 0.6% of GFA.  

WE HAVE LIFTOFF! 

So gold has now broken out and very few investors are participating. 

This stealth move that gold has made has left virtually every investor behind as this table shows: 

The clever buyers are of course the BRICS central banks. Almost all of their purchases are off market so in the short term it has only a marginal effect on the gold price. 

But now the squeeze has started as my good friend Alasdair Macleod explains so well on King World News. The Comex was never meant for physical deliveries but only for cash settlements. But now buyers are standing for physical delivery. We have also seen last month major exports of gold from the US to Switzerland. These are either Comex 400 ounce bars or US government bars sold/leased and sent to the Swiss refiners and broken down to 1 kg bars for onwards export to the BRICS. These bars will never return again even if they are only leased and not sold. 

The above process will one day bring panic to the gold market as there will be nowhere near enough physical gold for all the paper claims. 

So for any gold investors who don’t hold physical gold in a safe jurisdiction (NOT USA), I suggest that they quickly move their gold to a private vault where they have personal access, preferably in Switzerland or Singapore.

So NO FRACTIONAL GOLD OWNERSHIP, NO GOLD ETFs or FUNDS and NO GOLD IN BANKS!

At least not if you want to be sure to get hold of your gold as the gold squeeze starts. 

GOLD IS ON THE CUSP OF A MAJOR MOVE 

Having just broken out, gold is now on its way to much, much higher levels. 

As I keep on saying, forecasting the gold price is a mug’s game. 

What is the purpose of predicting a price level when the unit you measure gold in (USD, EUR, GBP etc) is continually debasing and worth less every month. 

All investors need to know is that every single currency in history has without fail gone to ZERO as Voltaire said already in 1727. 

Since the early 1700s, over 500 currencies have become extinct, most of them due to hyperinflation. 

Only since 1971 all major currencies have lost 97-99% of their purchasing power measured in gold. In the next 5-10 years they will lose the remaining 1-3% which of course is 100% from here. 

But gold will not only continue to maintain purchasing power, it will do substantially better.  This is due to the coming collapse of all bubble assets – Stocks, Bonds, Property etc. The world will not be able to avoid the Everything Collapse or First Gradually then Suddenly – The Everything Collapse  as I wrote about in two articles in 2023. 

YES, GOLD IS ON THE CUSP OF A MAJOR MOVE AS:

  • Wars continue to ravage the world.

  • Inflation rises strongly due to ever increasing debts and deficits.

  • Currency continues their journey to ZERO.

  • The world flees from stocks, bonds, and the US dollar. 

  • The BRICS countries continue to buy ever bigger amounts of gold.

  • Central Banks buy major amounts of gold as currency reserves instead of US dollars.

  • Investors rush into gold at any price to preserve their wealth. 

GOLD AS CHEAP AS IN 1971 OR 2000

The chart below indicates that gold in early 2020 at $1700 was as cheap as in 1971at $35 and in 2000 at $1700 in relation to money supply.

At this point we do not have an updated chart but it is our estimate that the monetary base has probably kept pace with the gold price meaning that the level in 2024 is similar to 2020. 

So let me repeat my mantra:

Please jump on the Gold Wagon while there is still time to preserve your wealth. 

The coming surge in gold demand cannot be met by more gold because more than the current 3000 tonnes of gold per annum cannot be mined. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/05/2024 - 09:20
Published:3/5/2024 8:32:47 AM
[National Security] Correspondent to Carnage

It's often the case that the most hard-bitten war correspondents write the most heartbreaking books. That's because they go to dangerous battle-zones—with their carnage and destruction—to which the more timorous correspondents hesitate to take themselves. And as a consequence, these toughest of reporters see things that others don't see—others, that is, who aren't themselves trapped in these zones, whether as soldiers in the thick of battle or war-locked civilians on the brink of death. And in telling us about them these reporters rend our hearts.

The post Correspondent to Carnage appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:3/3/2024 4:42:28 AM
[Markets] Futures Fall Ahead Of Key PCE Print Futures Fall Ahead Of Key PCE Print

For the third day in a row, US equity futures dropped and bonds fell as investors braced for a print of the Federal Reserve’s favorite inflation metric, which will help identify the path forward for interest rates. As of 7:45am, futures contracts for the emini S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 both retreated by about 0.2%, off the worst levels of the session. European stocks fluctuated during another crowded day on the earnings calendar, while Asia closed modestly higher. MegaCaps are mixed with NVDA -1.3% and AAPL -0.7%, the largest movers pre-mkt. Bond yields are up 3-6bps as the yield curve bear flattens; the US Dollar is weaker while the yen holds most of the advance spurred by strongest signal yet from Bank of Japan that the end is near for its negative interest-rate policy. The commodity complex is also lower; oil is flat, while bitcoin continues to surge and was last seen around $63,000. Today’s macro data focus includes PCE/Core PCE, jobless claims, and regional activity indicators. While PCE has been de-risked due to the CPI print, there is still potential for volatility given positioning in the bond market. Month-end rebalancing is thought to provide additional pressure on stocks irrespective of PCE.

In premarket trading, cloud software giant Snowflake shares plunge 23% after the company gave a forecast for first-quarter product revenue that is weaker than expected. Analysts noted that the shares were pressured by a combination of CEO Frank Slootman stepping down and a conservative guide. Peers also decline, with MongoDB down 4.2%, and DataDog sliding 3.0%. Elsewhere, WW International, fka as Wight Watchers, shares crasjed 25% after the "health and wellness" company issued full-year revenue guidance that missed expectations. The company also said Oprah Winfrey has decided to not stand for re-election at its annual shareholders meeting in May, having served on the board since 2015. Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • C3.ai (AI US) shares jump 17.58% after the software firm’s third-quarter revenue beat estimates, showing that demand remains robust for its artificial intelligence-related products. Analysts highlighted strength in its subscription revenues, and demand from government clients.
  • CRH (CRH US) shares gain 6.3% in New York premarket trading after the building-materials firm reported “excellent” full-year  results, according to Davy, with UBS highlighting the firm’s strong growth prospects in 2024.
  • Duolingo (DUOL US) shares soar 20% after full-year revenue guidance from the language-learning software company beat expectations, while fourth-quarter earnings per share also surpassed forecasts. A number of analysts lifted their price targets on the stock, noting robust growth in user numbers.
  • HP Inc. (HPQ US) shares fall 3.4% after the computer hardware company reported first-quarter results that missed expectations on key metrics amid ongoing weakness in the market for personal computers.
  • Macy’s (M US) shares dip 0.6% after the department store chain was downgraded to market perform from outperform at TD Cowen, which said the company’s restructuring plans will take some time to drive upside to guidance.
  • Monster Beverage (MNST US) shares advance 5.6% after the energy-drink maker reported fourth-quarter gross margin that beat consensus estimates. Analysts saw the results as solid overall, highlighting the gross margin beat in the quarter, as well as the strong start to the first-quarter.
  • Okta (OKTA US) shares rise 29% after the application software company reported fourth-quarter results that beat expectations. Analysts view the results as a relief in the wake of a recent breach.
  • Paramount Global (PARA US) shares advance 3.9% after the media company reported results that were seen as mixed, although revenue in its direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming business beat expectations.
  • Salesforce (CRM US) shares fall 1.8% after the application software company gave a full-year revenue forecast that was weaker than expected, though analysts said it could be conservative. It also initiated a dividend of 40c/share and increased the share buyback authorization by $10b.

Thursday’s core PCE report, where the core print is expected to rise 0.4% MoM and 2.8% YoY, will likely validate recent commentary from Fed officials showing no rush to ease monetary policy and underscore the twists and turns on the route to the central bank’s 2% inflation target. A higher-than-anticipated reading could undermine expectations for three quarter-point rate cuts by year-end.

"The market always needs to focus on something, and with earnings out of the way and the rates outlook priced in, inflation is the next catalyst,” said Beata Manthey, equity strategist at Citigroup Inc. “It’ll depend on how bad or good the print is today, but when we look at the fundamentals, earnings have shown they’re delivering."

Stocks are rounding off a strong February, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 up more than 4% after excitement around artificial intelligence drove a tech-powered, record-breaking run on Wall Street. MSCI’s global equity index is rising for a fourth month, its longest winning streak since 2021.

For Ulrich Urbahn, head of multi-asset strategy and research at Berenberg, trading on the final day of February is likely to be influenced more by month-end rebalancing than by data, as inflation trends have already been priced into markets following this month’s consumer and producer price reports.

“The focus on PCE ‘because that’s what the Fed cares about’ is valid,” Urbahn said. “But it’s mostly already baked in the cake. Markets will be more affected by some rebalancing flows as equities have hugely outperformed bonds this year.”

New York Fed President John Williams said Wednesday the central bank has “a ways to go,” in its battle against inflation and Atlanta Fed chief Raphael Bostic urged patience in regard to policy tweaks. Meanwhile, traders are currently pricing around 80 basis points of easing by year-end — almost in line with what officials in December indicated as the likeliest outcome. That would equate to three cuts in 2024 — as the Fed moves have historically been increments of 25 basis points. To put things in perspective, swaps were projecting almost 150 basis points of cuts this year at the start of February.

“Fedspeak and economic data so far this week suggest that central bankers remain data-dependent, which raises volatility around key economic data releases, and that inflation seems to be re-accelerating in the short term, which may make it harder to reach the 2% inflation goal,” Kathleen Brooks, research director at XTB, wrote in a note.

European stocks fluctuated during another crowded day on the earnings calendar as traders reduced bets on how fast and far the European Central Bank will lower interest rates this year after a flurry of inflation readings from the region. Moncler SpA rallied after the Italian luxury company beat profit expectations. Air France-KLM slumped after a fourth-quarter loss. The Stoxx 600 added 0.1% with construction, media and retail shares the best performers. Here are the most notable movers:

  • Haleon rises as much as 9%, the most since Dec. 2022, after delivering results that were better than feared, following the weak numbers posted by rival Reckitt yesterday
  • Universal Music Group gains as much as 6.5%, the most since July, after the Amsterdam-listed music and entertainment group impressed with its fourth-quarter earnings
  • Moncler shares rise as much as 6.3%, to the highest since June, after the Italian luxury company reported results that beat estimates
  • Eiffage gains as much as 5.4%, the most since March 2022, as Morgan Stanley flags the infrastructure company’s strong cash generation and in-line earnings performance
  • AMS-Osram shares plunge 45% after a major customer — believed by analysts to be Apple — canceled the Swiss chipmaker’s key project around microLED
  • Howden Joinery rises as much as 8.5%, the most since Dec. 2020, after 2023 results broadly met estimates
  • Drax climbs as much as 8.6% after the UK renewable energy company’s results, which analysts say look solid. Morgan Stanley highlights Drax’s long-term guidance and positive impact
  • Argenx falls as much as 4.5% after it reported full-year results that analysts said weren’t surprising
  • Beiersdorf shares fall as much as 6.1%, their steepest drop since May 2022, after the Nivea maker reported results that RBC described as “disappointing”
  • Technip Energies shares reverse an earlier gain to slip as much as 3.6%, after the France-based engineering and technology company posted a 2023 Ebit beat but issued guidance that missed

In FX, the dollar steadied, while the yen was the best-performing G-10 currency, rising 0.4% versus the greenback, the most in more than a week,  after Bank of Japan Board Member Hajime Takata sent one of the strongest signals yet that the end is near for its negative interest rate policy.

In rates, Treasury yields rose, with the more policy sensitive two-year note up five basis points. 10-year TSY yields last traded around 4.31% near session high, outperforming gilts by around 3bp in the sector; the UK curve cheaper on the day by as much as 7bp in 5-year sector. Yields in Europe climbed after mixed readings on price pressures from France and Spain, with German inflation coming in on the softer side of expectations (CPI printed 0.4% MoM, vs exp. 0.5%, and 2.5% YoY, vs exp 2.6%). Traders reduced bets on how fast and far the European Central Bank will lower interest rates this year after a flurry of inflation readings from the region - Bloomberg Economics still expect euro-area headline inflation to slow on Friday. Short-end bonds are leading a selloff in European government debt. German two-year yields rise 7bps to 2.99%. IG dollar issuance slate empty so far; seven names priced $14.4b Wednesday, taking weekly volume past $50b; issuers paid about 6bps in new-issue concessions on order books said to be 3.8x oversubscribed. Robust calendar could materialize Thursday if inflation readings are benign. US January personal income and spending data at 8:30am New York time include PCE inflation gauge with potential to alter corresponding outlook for Fed.

In commodities, oil prices are little changed, with WTI trading near $78.50. Spot gold falls 0.2%. Bitcoin jumps ~3% and is above $62,000.

Bitcoin continues to march higher and back above the $62k level, after it was revealed that yesterday's record volume surge across the ETF sector led to a record net inflows as demand for crypto just won't slow. Meanwhile, Ether continues to outperform, printing a peak incrementally above USD 3.5k. Elsewhere, Coinbase said all services on Coinbase.com have been restored; after some users reported a zero balance on their accounts.

Looking to the day ahead now, the US economic data calendar includes weekly jobless claims (8:30am), February MNI Chicago PMI (9:45am, three minutes earlier to subscribers), January pending home sales (10am) and February Kansas City Fed manufacturing activity (11am). Fed speakers scheduled include Bostic (10:50am), Goolsbee (11am), Mester (1:15pm, 3:30pm) and Williams (8:10pm). Elsewhere, there’s the February flash CPI inflation prints from Germany and France, along with German unemployment for February, UK mortgage approvals for January, and Canada’s Q4 GDP. From central banks, we’ll hear from the Fed’s Bostic, Goolsbee, Mester and Williams.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 5,065.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 495.04
  • MXAP up 0.4% to 172.73
  • MXAPJ up 0.2% to 524.61
  • Nikkei down 0.1% to 39,166.19
  • Topix little changed at 2,675.73
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.2% to 16,511.44
  • Shanghai Composite up 1.9% to 3,015.17
  • Sensex little changed at 72,263.43
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 7,698.70
  • Kospi down 0.4% to 2,642.36
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 2.49%
  • Euro little changed at $1.0847
  • Brent Futures down 0.4% to $83.32/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.0% to $2,035.55
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.16% to 103.81

Top Overnight News

  • The Supreme Court’s decision to take up Donald Trump’s bid for immunity from criminal prosecution raises the prospect that a trial to hold him accountable for trying to overturn the 2020 election could face a lengthy delay — potentially until after the November election
  • An Illinois judge barred Trump from appearing on the Republican presidential primary ballot, marking the third state to impose such a ban on the former president for his role in the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan 6.
  • Ben Bernanke’s global savings glut is drying up. Long-term interest rates worldwide may be heading higher as a result.
  • China banned a top-performing quant fund from the stock-index futures market and vowed tighter oversight of high-speed trading, expanding a crackdown on computer-driven investment strategies that some have blamed for exacerbating market turmoil
  • Wall Street traders bracing for key inflation data waded through mixed economic figures and remarks from Federal Reserve speakers for clues on the interest-rate outlook.

Earnings

  • Covestro (1COV GY) - Q4 (EUR): adj. EBITDA 132mln (exp. 99mln), Revenue 3.35bln (exp. 3.44bln). Decides not to pay a dividend. Expects economic conditions to remain challenging in 2024. Guides Q1 EBITDA 180-280mln (exp. 204mln). Guides initial FY24 EBITDA 1-1.6bln (exp. 1.36bln), Revenue 14-15bln (exp. 14.7bln). Shares +1.8% in European trade
  • IAG (IAG LN) – FY (EUR): Revenue 29.5bln (exp. 29.4bln), adj. Net 2.66bln (exp. 2.29bln), adj. Operating 3.5bln (exp. 3.5bln). 92% booked for Q1 and 62% for H1. Positive outlook for 2024, expect to generate significant cashflow throughout the year. Shares +1.2% in European trade
  • MTU Aero (MTX GY) – FY23 (EUR): Adj. Revenue 6.3bln (prev. forecast 6.1-6.3bln), Adj. EBIT 818mln (prev. forecast 800mln), Adj. Net Income 594mln (exp. 600mln). Outlook: FY Revenue 7.3-7.5bln, Adj. EBIT margin 12%. Shares -0.5% in European trade
  • Snowflake (SNOW) - Q4 2024 (USD): Adj. EPS 0.35 (exp. 0.18), Revenue 774.7mln (exp. 760.4mln); Q1 product revenue view 745-750mln (exp. 769.5mln), FY25 product revenue view 3.25bln (exp. 3.46bln). (Newswires) Shares -22.8% in pre-market trade
  • Salesforce (CRM) - Shares slipped by 1.6% in afterhours trade as it provided light guidance for the FY. Q4 adj. EPS 2.29 (exp. 2.26), Q4 revenue USD 9.29bln (exp. 9.22bln). Increases share repurchase authorisation by USD 10bln. Initiated a common stock dividend of USD 0.40/shr. Sees Q1 adj. EPS between USD 2.37-2.39 (exp. 2.20), and Q1 revenue between USD 9.12bln-9.19bln (exp. 9.19bln); sees FY25 revenue between USD 37.7bln-38.0bln (exp. 38.6bln). Shares -1.8% in pre-market trade

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

APAC stocks were choppy at month-end after the lacklustre handover from the US ahead of PCE price data. ASX 200 eventually shrugged off the initial indecision and briefly climbed above 7,700 to eke a fresh record high. Nikkei 225 briefly dipped below the 39,000 level amid a firmer currency and hawkish comments from BoJ's Takata, although the index gradually recovered all of its losses in late trade. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were positive with outperformance in the latter which momentarily reclaimed the 3,000 level amid lower yields and after the PBoC voiced support for Shanghai's high-level opening up financially, while it was also reported that China is to crack down on illegal activity to maintain market order. Conversely, the gains in Hong Kong were limited with earnings on the radar.

Top Asian News

  • US limits the sales of Americans' data to China and other rivals with President Biden signing an executive order restricting the ability of data brokers to sell sensitive information abroad, according to WSJ.
  • BoJ Board Member Takata said Japan's economy is at an inflexion point of changing the 'norm' that people think wages and prices are not rising, while he added achievement of the price target is coming into sight despite the uncertainty of the economic outlook. Takata also said need to consider taking a flexible response including exit from monetary stimulus and that momentum is rising in this spring's wage talks with many companies offering higher-than-2023 wage hikes. BoJ Board Member Takata later stated that he would call for a gear shift in policy and not go backwards but added he has not made up his mind yet on a monetary policy decision when asked about whether to end negative interest rates in March or April, while he is not thinking of raising interest rates one after another and said gradual steps will be needed amid mixed circumstances surrounding small firms.
  • RBNZ Governor Orr said as aggregate demand has slowed, it has been harder to pass on cost increases and he is confident the current level of the OCR is restricting demand, while the inflation outlook is very balanced. Orr said the economy has developed as they expected and the latest data confirmed inflation is slowing, while he added the easing of interest rates won't happen anytime soon.

European bourses, Stoxx600 (+0.1%) are mixed and trade has remained rangebound throughout the session; the DAX 40 (+0.4%) outperforms, and continues to trade towards/at ATHs. European sectors are mixed; Construction & Materials takes the top spot, lifted by gains in CRH (+7.3%) post-earnings. Tech is found at the bottom of the pile, with many of the chip names continuing to underperform. US Equity Futures (ES -0.3%, NQ -0.3%, RTY +0.1%) are mostly lower, with trade continuing the downbeat price action seen in the prior session. In terms of individual movers, Salesforce (-1.9%) slipped on its results, which although reported strong metrics, its FY25 guidance missed analyst expectations.

Top European News

  • ECB's Vasle said the ECB is looking at a rate-cutting phase if there are no big surprises and the timing of cuts depends on inflation.
  • ECB will continue to put a 'floor' underneath market interest rates in the years ahead, though banks will have a greater role in determining how much liquidity they want, via Reuters citing sources.
  • UK appoints Clare Lombardelli as the the next BoE Deputy Governor for monetary policy; replaces Broadbent who leaves at the end of June.
  • ECB's Holzmann says a serious discussion at the ECB on rate reductions is unlikely before June, via Politico [published Feb. 28th]

FX

  • DXY is a touch softer as a by-product of JPY strength. DXY has ventured to a low of 103.75, stopping shy of the 200DMA at 103.69 and yesterday's low at 103.60. The fate for the index today will almost certainly be determined by US PCE metrics.
  • EUR marginally gains vs. the USD amid a slew of EZ data with (on balance) firmer regional CPIs taking focus ahead of tomorrow's EZ-wide metrics. EUR/USD mounted yesterday's best at 1.0840.
  • JPY is the standout outperformer across the majors following "hawkish" BoJ comments overnight. This has given JPY some reprieve with USD/JPY pulling back to a low of 149.62 (matches 21DMA) from a high of 150.69. A hot core PCE release could reverse the pair's fortunes and bring attention back to the YTD peak at 150.88.
  • Differing fortunes for the antipodes with AUD/USD back on a 0.65 handle after bottoming out yesterday at 0.6488 post-USD strength. NZD/USD remains above yesterday's 0.6082 trough but is unable to reclaim 0.61 status.
  • PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1036 vs exp. 7.1938 (prev. 7.1075).

Fixed Income

  • The bearish narrative continues for Bunds; French CPI sparked some initial downside, though further hotter-than-expected releases from Spain and Germany (state), firmly guided the hawkish direction. Bunds have been drifting lower and are now at a fresh YTD low at 131.62, with the 10yr yield above 2.5%.
  • USTs are driven by EGBs so far but also potentially positioning into the US January PCE data, which will be gauged to see if it conforms to the hotter narrative of other January pricing metrics; currently holds just above 110-00.
  • Gilt price action conformed with EGBs into the latest BoE mortgage data with no reaction to the numbers despite lending and approvals printing below/above their respective forecast ranges. EGB-driven action has similarly pushed Gilts to a fresh YTD low at 96.83.

Commodities

  • Crude benchmarks are under modest pressure but are comparably contained when judged against Wednesday's whipsaw price action; currently holds around the USD 82/bbl mark.
  • Spot gold is incrementally softer initially benefitting from a weaker Dollar, though now off best levels; USD 2032/oz 50-DMA remains untested with the current low at USD 2034/oz.
  • Base metals are bid and deriving support from USD downside, the overall European risk tone and strength in China.

Geopolitics

  • Japan's top currency diplomat Kanda said using frozen Russian assets for Ukraine must be based on international law and he thinks EU's proposal is along those lines, while he added that Japan strongly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the G20 and that the G7 discussed ways to make use of frozen Russian assets for Ukraine reconstruction.
  • Russian President Putin says "don't they understand there is danger of nuclear conflict?"; on talk of NATO troops in Ukraine, says consequences for the intruders will be more tragic and we have weapon which is able to hit targets on their territory.
  • Ukraine sees a risk of Russia breaking through its defences by the summer unless allies increase supplies of ammunition, according to Bloomberg sources

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: Feb. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 210,000, prior 201,000
    • Feb. Continuing Claims, est. 1.87m, prior 1.86m
  • 08:30: Jan. Personal Income, est. 0.4%, prior 0.3%
    • Jan. Personal Spending, est. 0.2%, prior 0.7%
    • Jan. Real Personal Spending, est. -0.1%, prior 0.5%
  • 08:30: Jan. PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.3%, prior 0.2%
    • Jan. PCE Core Deflator YoY, est. 2.8%, prior 2.9%
    • Jan. PCE Core Deflator MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.2%
    • Jan. PCE Deflator YoY, est. 2.4%, prior 2.6%
  • 09:45: Feb. MNI Chicago PMI, est. 48.0, prior 46.0
  • 10:00: Jan. Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 1.5%, prior 8.3%
    • Jan. Pending Home Sales YoY, est. -4.4%, prior -1.0%
  • 11:00: Feb. Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. -2, prior -9

Central Bank Speakers

  • 10:50: Fed’s Bostic Participates in Fireside Chat
  • 11:00: Fed’s Goolsbee Gives Remarks on Monetary Policy
  • 13:15: Fed’s Mester Speaks on Financial Stability and Regulation
  • 15:30: Fed’s Mester Speaks to Yahoo Finance
  • 20:10: Fed’s Williams Participates in Moderated Discussion

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Happy February 29. I’m hearing lots about how this day happens every four years, but strictly speaking that’s not true. The rule is it’s a leap year if it’s divisible by 4, unless it’s divisible by 100, but not if it’s also divisible by 400. Make sense? So 1700, 1800 and 1900 weren’t leap years, 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 won’t be one. In other words, you get one every 97/400 years rather than 1/4, as the earth’s rotation around the sun is actually a bit less than 365.25 days. This might seem trivial (and you may be right), but the previous Julian calendar hadn’t adjusted for this and had a leap day every four years, hence the shift to the modern Gregorian calendar from the 16th century onwards. But when countries made the adjustment, it meant the date shifted forward. So in Britain, the recorded date went from 2 September 1752 one day to 14 September 1752 on the next, skipping over the 11 calendar days in the middle.

If we missed the next 11 days right now, we’d skip over an awful lot, including the next US jobs report, an array of US primary elections on Super Tuesday, the ECB’s policy decision, Fed Chair Powell’s congressional testimonies, and the UK budget. But today, the main focus will be on the PCE inflation data from the US, which is the measure of inflation that the Fed officially targets, and is therefore closely watched in markets. Readers will remember that a couple of weeks ago, the CPI and PPI inflation reports both surprised on the upside, and the components that feed into the core PCE reading are pointing to a strong print for January. As a result, o ur US economists are expecting core PCE to come in at +0.36% for the month, which if realised would be the strongest monthly print since another +0.36% reading in February last year. So that’s one to look out for as investors seek to gauge the timing of potential rate cuts from the Fed.

Ahead of that, markets in Asia have put in a mixed performance overnight. Chinese equities have advanced, including the CSI 300 (+1.11%) and the Shanghai Comp (+1.00%), and the Shanghai Comp is currently on track to record its best monthly performance since November 2022. But other indices have been more negative, and the Hang Seng is down -0.02%, the Nikkei is down -0.02%, and the KOSPI (-0.49%) has posted larger declines. Futures have also been subdued, with those on the S&P 500 up just +0.05% after yesterday’s decline.

In Japan, sentiment wasn’t helped by the latest industrial production data, which showed a decline of -7.5% in January (vs. -6.8% expected), which is the biggest monthly decline since May 2020. Nevertheless, investors have continued to grow in confidence that the end of the negative interest rate policy could be near, following comments from the BoJ’s Hajime Takata, who said that “my view is that the price target is finally coming into sight”. That’s helped the Japanese Yen to strengthen +0.44% against the US Dollar overnight, whilst 2yr government bond yields are up +2.3bps to 0.18%, which is their highest level since 2011. Moreover, overnight index swaps are now pricing in a 33% chance of a move away from negative interest rates at the next meeting in April, up from 21% the previous day.

Ahead of that yesterday, markets were mostly in a holding pattern, with the S&P 500 (-0.17%) still experiencing little movement since Nvidia’s earnings last week. The latest decline means the index is still on track for a weekly loss, and there were larger falls for the NASDAQ (-0.55%) and the Magnificent 7 (-0.58%). Meanwhile in Europe, the story was also one of losses yesterday, with the STOXX 600 down -0.35%. That said, the DAX (+0.25%) continued to outperform, posting a 6th consecutive advance and closing at a fresh all-time high.

Over on the rates side, the moves were also modest in scope yesterday, though yields did extend moderate declines during the US session. This came even as central bank speakers continued to echo the recent consensus on policy, suggesting that rate cuts are likely to happen over the coming months, but not yet. For instance, Boston Fed President Collins said that it “will likely become appropriate to begin easing policy later this year”, but also that “I want to see more evidence of a sustained trajectory to price stability”. Separately, New York Fed President Williams said that they still had “a ways to go on the journey to sustained 2% inflation”. Meanwhile at the ECB, we heard from Slovakia’s Kazimir, who said in a Reuters interview that for a rate cut, “June would be my preferred date, April would surprise me and March is a no go”. Lithuania’s Simkus made similar comments, saying that “June is really the month to consider the rate cut”. And later in the evening, Germany’s Nagel said that "we can’t make any mistakes in the final stretch of the journey”, suggesting it would be “fatal” if rates were eased too early only for inflation to rebound.

That backdrop saw expectations for rate cuts tick up a little yesterday. For the Fed, investors still expect that June is the most likely meeting for a cut, with futures pricing in a 77% chance of a cut by June (up from 73% the day before). In turn, that helped yields on 2yr Treasuries fell -5.6bps, while 10yr yields were down -3.9bps to 4.265%. Over in Europe the bond rally was more marginal, with yields on 10yr bunds (-0.6bps), OATs (-1.2bps) and BTPs (-1.8bps) all seeing modest declines.

Although yields were falling yesterday, there were fresh signs of an increase in market expectations for US inflation, with the 2yr breakeven up +2.6bps to 2.77%, which is their highest level since March last year. 2yr zero-coupon inflation swaps were also up +3.9bps to 2.43%, the highest since October, so we’re seeing that across several instruments. That came as Brent crude (+0.04%) closed at its highest level since early November, at $83.68/bbl. Moreover, it’s clear that higher oil prices are filtering through into the real economy, and data from the AAA showed US gasoline prices remained at $3.294 per gallon on Wednesday, in line with their level on Tuesday and their highest level since November.

On the data side, yesterday saw a very modest downgrade to US GDP growth in Q4, with the second estimate coming in at an annualised +3.2% (vs. +3.3% first estimate). The release also showed that core PCE prices grew a bit faster than thought in Q4, at an annualised rate of +2.1% (vs. +2.0% first estimate). However, the revisions still left annual GDP growth for 2023 at +2.5%, in line with the initial estimate.

Finally in US political news, congressional leaders agreed a deal yesterday evening to avoid a partial government shutdown that would have started after March 1. The deal would extend funding to March 8 for several departments, and others to March 22.

To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include PCE inflation for January, personal income, personal spending and pending home sales for January, the weekly initial jobless claims, and the MNI Chicago PMI for February. Elsewhere, there’s the February flash CPI inflation prints from Germany and France, along with German unemployment for February, UK mortgage approvals for January, and Canada’s Q4 GDP. From central banks, we’ll hear from the Fed’s Bostic, Goolsbee, Mester and Williams.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/29/2024 - 08:14
Published:2/29/2024 7:15:41 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:2/28/2024 7:10:17 AM
[Markets] The Only Rx For Drug Shortages Is Competition The Only Rx For Drug Shortages Is Competition

Authored by Thomas McArdle via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Price controls lead to shortages. This axiom is as dependable and scientifically absolute as the law of gravity. And it is the case even when the controls are elaborately disguised.

A staff member sorts through drugs while filling a prescription at the Clay-Battelle Community Health Center's pharmacy in Blacksville, W. Va., on March 21, 2017. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

So, when the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reacts to the shortages suffered in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns of vital hospital drugs, including those used in chemotherapy like Methotrexate and fludarabine, by launching a probe of distribution companies, it’s like the Federal Aviation Administration searching for ways of blaming the ground for getting in the way of the jetliner that crashed.

To FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, the solution of shortages is a government investigation that “scrutinizes the practices of opaque drug middlemen.” Presumably, the distribution firms under scrutiny will be Cardinal Health, Cencora, and McKesson, while the collective hospital purchasing firms in the federal viewfinder are likely HealthTrust, Premier, and Vizient.

Demand for these life-saving drugs has been on the increase; no one disputes that. In a market with minimum state interference, such demand would be taken advantage of either by existing producers increasing capacity or by new firms entering the fray to deliver what the buyers are ready and willing to purchase. But when you deny manufacturers the ability to make profits in taking advantage of demand, you make delivery of new supply difficult if not impossible.

Treating health care as a right is a deceptive description of what is actually the removal of the profit motive from the production and delivery of things and services of value. When you do that in any field, you exit the reality of human nature. What, after all, is more valuable than medicines and treatments that maintain your health? And the scientists, physicians, and businesspeople who have the expertise, or even genius, to invent, mass produce, and deliver medical care to patients must expect to be compensated based on market value—which, in bad news for the envious, ends up being many, many multiples of the minimum wage—otherwise they will devote their abilities elsewhere.

In other words, like anything else for sale, health care must be opened to customer scrutiny. When it comes to generic drugs, sadly, owing to the laws on the books, it’s like walking down the aisle at the supermarket and finding all the boxes of cereal or jars of jam identical, except for the price differences. No labels, no brand names, and the brand’s accompanying reputations based on past experience buying them. The healthcare consume—be it a patient, a pharmacist or a hospital—can only make a blind, ignorant-by-design comparison.

The Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984 vastly expanded the production and accessibility of generic medicines by shrinking regulatory delays in the approval of generic versions of patented drugs. Prices of generics plummeted and their use skyrocketed. The main driver was lots of competition among generics.

But sometimes various factors can reduce that competition for certain of the products; narrow profit margins, for instance, can lead to a manufacturer getting out, and—human nature being what it is—the companies remaining finding little reason not to raise their prices, sometimes with the power of a near-monopoly. New suppliers, in the meantime, face massive regulatory hurdles; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a backlog of thousands of applications from generic manufacturers awaiting approval, and the wait time is years. The FDA jealously and outdatedly guards its approval power even though there is no evidence that the drug supply in the United States today is any less safe than that of other developed countries. Approval in those countries should be trusted here when it comes to often vitally needed imported generics, a move that would make more drugs available, lower their prices, and improve the health of Americans.

When in 2022 a labor shortage at Teva Pharmaceuticals caused delay in production of the  generic Adderall, a treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s harsh production quotas imposed on rival manufacturers prevented them from coming to the rescue and making up for loss of supply.

Brookings Institution Center on Health Policy senior fellow Marta Wonsinska notes, “The price pressure on manufacturers is tremendous and certain types of drugs, especially generic sterile injectables, are particularly vulnerable.” This artificial environment in which buyers are forced to choose based only on price, not weighing it alongside quality, is not a true market.

The Obama administration reacted to less serious prescription drug shortages by issuing a directive on Halloween of 2011 that, among other things, ordered the FDA to work with the Department of Justice on any findings of shortages being used for stockpiling and price increases. As with the FTC today, government is always seeking a villain and refusing to gaze into the mirror.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) was long ago complaining of a “gray market” taking advantage of shortages, “with the potential for price gouging” by secondary wholesalers, causing “serious concerns for patient safety.” It was also long ago recommended that PhRMA set out to forestall more government regulation by advocating an industry-?wide policy, by brand-name and generic manufacturers alike, to require purchase only from the manufacturers themselves and sales made only directly to pharmacies and hospitals, thus eliminating the effect on prices of a gray market distribution chain. Pharmacies and hospitals would require documents recording a drug’s distribution route. The industry’s motivation for embracing this idea is the higher revenues for manufacturers that would result, and the increased safety of the drug supply chain.

Returning to the matter of human nature, setting a high price for medicines when the situation allows is not always as crass and greedy as it may sound. About 90 percent of proposed medicines that go through testing ultimately fail to be offered to health providers and patients because they are found to be unsafe or not to affect a cure or a proper treatment. Thus, the cost between invention and sale to the public comes in on average at billions of dollars for each drug. That means that these evil, greedy pharmaceutical companies recoup their astronomical investments from the one in ten medicines that do make it to shelves.

When you turn these firms into villains, declare their profits to be obscene, shake them down and force them to cut their revenues, all you are doing is making them again and again not devote the money needed to bring new cures to patients. And this remains the truth in spite of the fact of their being bad actors—gougers, con artists, and the like—to be found in the field of medicine, as they are to be found in any and every other walk of life.

As the Manhattan Institute’s Tim Rice warns, “With too many barriers to recouping their investments, pharma companies will stop taking risks, and innovation will suffer.”

Having government treat health care as a right renders that care a scarce commodity. The way for the maximum number of patients to receive the highest quality of care,  including highly expensive, innovative drugs, is to accept the real world of profit and price as necessary mechanisms of distribution in a free society, and keep the heavy, self-serving hand of government out as much as possible.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/26/2024 - 20:20
Published:2/26/2024 7:38:05 PM
[Markets] What Is A Christian Nationalist? What Is A Christian Nationalist?

Authored by John Leonard via AmericanThinker.com,

On MSNBC “award-winning investigative journalist” (from Politico) Heidi Przybyla said this recently:

Remember when Trump ran in 2016?  A lot of the mainline evangelicals wanted nothing to do with the divorced real-estate mogul who cheated on his wife with a porn star and all of that, right?  So what happened was, he was surrounded by this more extremist element.  You’re going to hear words like Christian Nationalism, like the new apostolic reformation.

These are groups that you should get very schooled on because they have a lot of power in Trump’s circle. And the one thing that unites all of them because there’s many different groups orbiting Trump but the thing that unites them as Christian nationalists — not Christians by the way, because Christian nationalist is very different — is that they believe their rights as Americans don’t come from any earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress, they don’t come from the Supreme Court, they come from God.

Horrors!  Does this mean that a Christian nationalist believes what the Declaration of Independence said — that our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come not from King George III, but from our Creator?  How does that separate a Christian nationalist from any other ordinary Christian?  What is she trying to say?

Ms. Przybyla continued:   

The problem is that they are determining, man — men — are determining what God is telling them. And in the past, that so-called natural law ... it’s a pillar of Catholicism, for instance, and has been used for good. In social justice campaigns, Martin Luther King evoked it talking about civil rights. But now you have an extremist element of conservative Christians who say this applies specifically to issues like abortion, gay marriage, and it’s going much further than that, as you’re seeing for instance in the ruling in Alabama. The judge is connected to a dominionist faction.

Um...what?  Is Ms. Przybyla trying to say that mainstream Christians support abortion rights and gay marriage, but Christian nationalists do not?

She was referring to the Alabama Supreme Court, which just ruled that human life begins at conception.  How dare the court agree with basic biology and the American College of Pediatricians?  According to a publication by the National Library of Medicine, eighty percent of Americans believe that biologists are the most qualified group to determine when life begins, and ninety-six percent of biologists affirm the view that life begins at fertilization, yet a portion of the American public still demand the right to legally murder their unborn children.

Does a Christian automatically qualify as some sort of religious zealot simply for opposing abortion?  What if he doesn’t oppose the “Plan B” pill?  Can a Christian be patriotic without being called a nationalist?  Can a Christian still sing the patriotic anthem “God Bless America”?  

What is a Christian nationalist?  We still don’t have a real answer.  Perhaps it would be helpful to break the term down into individual words to understand it better.

If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you’re a Christian.  Okay, then...so what is a nationalist?  According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a nationalist is a person who wants his country to be politically independent, or a person who strongly believes that his country is better than others.

Putting the two terms together, we get a follower of Jesus Christ who strongly believes that America is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.  And that’s the problem?

Oh, wait a minute — one of the Alabama justices is accused of being a dominionist.  This is, apparently, a person who seeks to create a nation governed by Christians according to their understanding of biblical law.  Is the justice a dominionist because he quoted from the Bible instead of a biology textbook?  Both basically say the same thing on this issue.

Most Christians I know (and I know more than a few through social media) realize that America was founded not as a Christian nation, but as a secular nation founded by Christians with Christian principles.  Muslims, Jews, and atheists alike have been welcome to participate in our secular government that still operates on Christian principles. 

Obviously, the term “Christian nationalist” is meant to be seen as a pejorative.  It is being used to separate the “good” Christians (those who support abortion and gay marriage) from the bad Christians (actual Christians).  It is a term intended to divide and conquer.

The current problem for those attempting to employ the term to accomplish their nefarious goal of turning Christians on one another is that most people don’t seem to know what a Christian nationalist is.

According to Pew research, roughly twenty-four percent of the American public had a negative opinion of Christian nationalism and predictably said things like, “It is a euphemism for racism and antisemitic fascism; a polite term for a Nazi sympathizer” — but still, more than half of U.S. adults have never even heard of the term.

One of the Christian respondents to the survey shared a starkly different opinion: “It’s a term used to dismiss any Christian because they are dangerous, therefore dehumanize them and make them the enemy.  It should mean a follower of Christ and someone who is patriotic.”

Why was it so important for the Politico reporter to establish that the modern existential threat to the American republic is this largely unheard of “Christian nationalist” movement?  Because this same “journalist” co-authored an article saying that the Trump administration is going to infuse Christian nationalist ideas into their policies because a guy named Russell Vought is under consideration to become Trump’s chief of staff.

If you don’t remember Vought, he’s the guy who famously sparred with Bernie Sanders when Sanders tried to apply a religious litmus test to disqualify Vought from an appointment to the Office of Management and Budget.  According to Ms. Przybyla’s most recent article, “Vought has a close affiliation with Christian nationalist William Wolfe, a former Trump administration official who has advocated for overturning same-sex marriage, ending abortion and reducing access to contraceptives.”

Well, then!  We should burn him at the stake like a heretic, right?  No way should this guy be allowed to serve in the next Trump administration...unless, of course, Trump wants him.

Every Christian (nationalist) should utter just four words sure to send a cold chill through the heart of Ms. Przybyla and her ilk: Make America Great Again.

*  *  *

John Leonard is a freelance writer.  He blogs at southernprose.com.  His books, including The God Conclusion and Atheist’s Prayer, can be found at LeonardBooks.net.

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/25/2024 - 16:20
Published:2/25/2024 3:57:38 PM
[Uncategorized] Book Review: ‘No More Secrets – The Candy Cavern’ by Chaya Raichick

The "Libs of Tik Tok" creator now takes her message to a new medium: Children's books.

The post Book Review: ‘No More Secrets – The Candy Cavern’ by Chaya Raichick first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:2/25/2024 1:20:11 PM
[Culture] From a Broken Home to a Broken Institution

When someone emerges from a challenging childhood to become a successful adult and writes a memoir about the experience, one of two narratives usually emerges: The first, and most lucrative in today’s market, is what might be called the "wallowing" narrative. Such books settle personal and familial scores; recount excessive drug use, promiscuity, and other poor life choices; and leave readers with a voyeurism hangover.

The post From a Broken Home to a Broken Institution appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/25/2024 5:00:03 AM
[Markets] Trump Seeks Dismissal Of Mar-a-Lago Case, Says Jack Smith Lacks Authority Trump Seeks Dismissal Of Mar-a-Lago Case, Says Jack Smith Lacks Authority

Authored by Caden Pearson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Former President Donald Trump filed several motions to dismiss a classified documents case being pursued against him in Florida on Thursday, arguing that, amongst other things, special counsel Jack Smith “lacks the authority” to prosecute the case.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference held at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 8, 2024. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In one of four motions, attorneys for the former president contend that neither the U.S. Constitution nor Congress had officially established the special counsel’s office, rendering Mr. Smith’s appointment invalid.

Furthermore, they argue that the special counsel’s office is being funded “off the books” by the Biden administration.

The motion, which cites the Appointments Clause, argues that Attorney General Merrick Garland did not have the authority to appoint a “like-minded political ally” as special counsel “without Senate confirmation.”

“As such, Jack Smith lacks the authority to prosecute this action,” the motion reads.

President Trump’s lawyers argue that the only remedy is to dismiss the superseding indictment.

The Appointments Clause stipulates that all federal offices, except for the president’s, must be established by Congress and appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. This is with the exception of federal offices created through the Necessary and Proper Clause, which empowers Congress to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested in the government.

“There is, however, no statute establishing the Office of Special Counsel,” the motion reads.

“As a result, because neither the Constitution nor Congress have created the office of the ‘Special Counsel,’ Smith’s appointment is invalid and any prosecutorial power he seeks to wield is ultra vires,” meaning beyond his authority.

Funding of Smith’s Office Challenged

In addition to arguing that Mr. Smith’s appointment was unlawful, the four motions argued that the case should be dismissed on the basis of presidential immunity, the Presidential Records Act, and unconstitutional vagueness.

Mr. Garland appointed Mr. Smith as special counsel on Nov. 18, 2022, to “prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation” into President Trump’s handling of classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

President Trump’s attorneys argue in their Thursday filing that Mr. Smith, at best, is classified as an employee rather than an “officer” under the statutes cited by Mr. Garland in making his appointment, which they say lacks the legal foundation required by the Appointments Clause.

Attorneys for the former president argue that Mr. Smith’s office is drawing from an endless “off the books” pot of money from the Department of Justice (DOJ) instead of the ordinary budget process, in violation of the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution.

President Biden’s DOJ is paying for this politically-motivated prosecution of Biden’s chief political rival ‘off the books,’ without accountability or authorization,” the motion reads.

President Trump’s attorneys, Christopher Kise and Todd Blanche, note in their motion that Mr. Smith’s office spent nearly $13 million in Fiscal Year 2023.

According to the filing, this money did not come from the DOJ’s budget but from the “permanent indefinite appropriation” only available to independent counsels appointed under the Independent Counsel Act or other law—and not to special counsels.

“Smith is not an independent counsel, but the nearly $13 million that Smith spent in Fiscal Year 2023—with no accountability—is more than 10% of the annual budgets of DOJ’s Tax and Environment and Natural Resources Divisions,” the motion reads.

A spokesman from Mr. Smith’s office declined to the comment when contacted by The Epoch Times.

Presidential Records Act, Vague Law, Immunity

In three other motions filed on Thursday, attorneys argue that President Trump is immune from prosecution, had the authority to designate the records as personal while in office, and that Section 793(e) is vague and doesn’t apply to the president.

The former president’s attorneys argue in a motion that he exercised his Article II executive authority to designate the records as personal while still in office and that the Presidential Records Act (PRA) granted President Trump “unreviewable discretion” to do so.

Emphasizing the president’s role as the “constitutional superior of the archivist,” the attorneys assert that President Trump possessed the authority to determine the classification of records during his tenure.

The motion maintains that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds no sway over personal records.

Furthermore, the attorneys assert that the sole recourse available to NARA is through civil enforcement mechanisms, not criminal investigations. They contend that this wipes out the basis for the 32 counts against President Trump outlined in the superseding indictment.

“Accordingly, pursuant to the PRA, the Superseding Indictment must be dismissed,” the motion reads.

President Trump’s attorneys, in a separate motion, asked the court to dismiss counts one through 32, citing the “void-for-vagueness doctrine.” They argue that the law is unclear and, therefore, unconstitutional when applied to President Trump.

They further argue that President Trump is “immune from prosecution” one counts one through 32 because those charges are based on his “alleged decision to designate records as personal” and to “cause the records to be moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago.”

“As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, President Trump made this decision while he was still in office. The alleged decision was an official act, and as such is subject to presidential immunity,” the motion reads.

This report was updated with a statement from Mr. Smith’s office.

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/24/2024 - 21:00
Published:2/24/2024 8:24:00 PM
[Markets] To Understand The Globalists We Must Understand Their Psychopathic Religion To Understand The Globalists We Must Understand Their Psychopathic Religion

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us,

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the western world experienced a sudden burst of open occultism among the ultra-rich elites. The rise of “Theosophy” was underway, becoming a kind of fashion trend that would ultimately set the stage for what would later be called “new age” spiritualism. The primary driver of the theosophical movement was a small group of obscure academics led in part by a woman named H.P. Blavatsky. The group was obsessed with esoteric belief, Gnosticism and even Satanism.

Blavatsky co-founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875, claiming that she had a psychic connection to beings called “the Mahatmas” or “the masters.” These creatures, she asserted, helped her write the foundational books of Theosophy, including ‘The Secret Doctrine.’

I bring up Theosophy and Blavatsky because the movement she helped launch was primarily an elitist one – The spread of occultism in the early 1900s specifically targeted the upper classes and this resulted in many political leaders and financial leaders being involved in obscure organizations with secretive mandates. Such groups have existed in the past, from the Rosicrucians and Freemasons to the alchemists of the Middle Ages who hid their occult beliefs in coded texts. However, never before had they been so public in their efforts.

To their credit, the early theosophists were mostly apolitical (at least outwardly) and they argued against political intrusion into people’s lives. I suspect, however, that this was because at the time western governments revolved around Christian and conservative values. As politicians became more separate from Christianity, the theosophist interest in controlling government grew and the movement became increasingly socialist in practice.

Invariably, these spiritual systems revolved around pagan deities of the past, many Babylonian or Ancient Egyptian in origin. That said, there are also numerous mentions in Theosophy of one figure in particular – Lucifer, also referred to as “the Light Bearer, the angel of light, Prometheus (symbolically), the dragon, the morning star and Satan.” Modern luciferians will consistently deny the the name “Lucifer” has anything to do with the biblical figure of Satan, but this is a lie. Blavatsky herself treats the two figures as synonymous in ‘The Secret Doctrine.’ As she admits in her book:

And now it stands proven that Satan, or the Red Fiery Dragon, the ‘Lord of Phosphorus,’ and Lucifer, or ‘Light-Bearer,’ is in us: it is our Mind…”

Blavatsky, quoting hermetic texts in the Secret Doctrine, also repeats the mantra:

It is Satan who is the god of our planet and the only god…”

Luciferians and occultists will also argue that the Christian Bible only mentions the name “Lucifer” once, and that the two figures are not associated. This is once again a lie by omission. The Bible does in fact mention “light bearer,” the “angel of light” and “the dragon” in reference to Satan on multiple occasions, and all of these names are used by elites to describe the figure they call Lucifer.

As mentioned in Corinthians 11:14 – “And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light…”

In other words, when any elitist group mentions terms such as “light bearer” or Lucifer, they are indeed referring to Satan. It’s not just a matter of archetypal discussion, this is in fact a part of their religion. But in our modern times some people might say “who cares?” It’s all mythical hoodoo and fantasy, right?

I would respond with a question:  Do you think the deeply held religious beliefs of the people with financial and political power matter in how they make decisions?  Wouldn’t their beliefs help explain why they do the things they do?  If you want to know why the globalists are engaged in a very real war on the minds of the masses, you cannot overlook their religious motivations. What seems like fantasy to some is VERY real to the globalists.

For example, many know that the United Nations building in New York has an occult library.  But few people know that it was built by a group called the Lucifer Publishing Company (later changed to Lucis Trust). Lucis Trust cites the writings of HP Blavatsky constantly as the inspiration for their organization. The UN continues to associate with Lucis Trust to this day. The very heart of globalism revolves around luciferian ideals.

It doesn’t matter what you or I think about these things. It doesn’t matter if you see such concepts as metaphorical, or symbolic or imaginary. THEY believe, and so we must explore what these beliefs mean.

Before the 1800s, occultists engaged in luciferianism would have been burned at the stake if discovered. I’m beginning to think that maybe this was the right way to handle such people all along. But to understand why, we have to look at the progression of the religion and why it inevitably leads to moral relativism and social self-destruction.

For the theosophists, Lucifer/Satan is a kind of heroic figure. When they argue that Lucifer is “not Satan,” what they mean is that their version of Satan is different from the version ascribed by Christianity. In other words, imagine a group of people took a famously malicious figure such as Joseph Stalin and then devised an entirely different history for him in which he is a misunderstood philanthropist instead of a genocidal maniac. That’s essentially what luciferianism is.

In the Theosophical magazine titled ‘Lucifer’ published in the 1880s, Blavatsky and her group spend multiple pages trying to separate the term Lucifer from the Devil, while also defending the mythology of the devil and painting him as a character slandered by Christian culture.

In their version of the Genesis story, for example, the serpent was the “good guy” bringing the fruit of knowledge to Adam and Eve. Eve is venerated as a root figure in theosophy and in feminism (a movement the theosophists helped to create), because without Eve the serpent would have never been able to get Adam to consume the fruit.

The fruit as a representation of gnosis (knowledge) is the key to luciferianism and the globalist cult. As many atheists I’ve encountered in the past have argued, isn’t knowledge a good thing? And if God is punishing humanity for consuming knowledge, does that not make him a villain? This argument ignores the underlying theme – Knowledge by itself is not good or evil, but evil thrives when people start to worship knowledge to the detriment of everything else. The application of knowledge without wisdom and moral discipline is dangerous.

As Dr. Ian Malcolm brilliantly asserts in the film Jurassic Park:

Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Luciferians openly admit that the goal of their ideology is to pursue knowledge until human beings become gods. This infatuation with godhood is what leads to great evil; it is a delusion that poisons the mind and encourages morally relative behavior, not to mention a pervasive thirst for power.  Ponder the technological aspect for a moment. Consider the numerous globalist programs to expand artificial intelligence and bring about what they call “transhumanism.” This is a kind of knowledge worship that has terrifying implications for the future.

The integration of technology into the surveillance state to rule over society is bad enough, but what happens when human beings begin integrating technology into their very biology. Will this eventually erase any semblance of what we call “the soul?” After all, machines do not feel, nor do they self reflect on their actions. What happens when humans distort themselves to become more like machines? Will transhumanism become a movement that suffocates all love and empathy, removing moral compass and turning us into a demonic hive-mind devoid of individual thought?

Globalists assert that there is no such thing as the soul, no such thing as individual identity and no such thing as moral compass.  Form their perspective there is no danger of adopting technology as a path to godhood because nothing would be lost; and here we see the true nature of luciferianism at work. A perfect representation of this cancer is World Economic Forum spokesperson Yavul Harari – a man who says the quiet part out loud and promotes the darker tenets of luciferianism regularly.

To grasp what luciferianism is, think of it as the anti-god; a war on nature, or a war on the natural state of humanity disguised as “enlightenment.” This is why globalists try to institute the extreme opposite view of every natural disposition. The notion of human beings as a blank slate that Yuval Harari clings to is one such false narrative. It is a philosophy that has been debunked by endless psychological studies as well as anthropological studies.

From Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell to Steven Pinker and beyond, all scientific evidence suggests that human beings have inherent psychological qualities and characteristics from birth. Some of these are unique to the person, some are universal archetypes and ideas that the majority of people share (such as conscience and moral compass). If we didn’t have these built-in qualities, humanity would have become extinct thousands of years ago. We still don’t know where exactly they come from, we only know that without them we are no longer human.

There is, however, a certain percentage of people (1% or less) that actually do not have these inborn character traits. They are generally known as psychopaths and sociopaths, and their behavior is very similar to that of the globalists. I have long held the theory that the globalist cabal is in fact a cult of higher functioning psychopaths.

Their lack of empathy and conscience, their thirst for godhood and omnipotence, their drive to attain all encompassing surveillance of the population, to know everything about us at all time, to have total control over the environment and society, the narcissistic self image of a supreme ruler who is worshiped by the masses, and the delusion that they will be able to read minds and predict the future. These are psychopathic fantasies, and they are willing to chase these fantasies by any means necessary.

But even psychopaths sometimes need a fundamentalist framework in order to maintain organization and inspire devotion within a group. It makes perfect sense that they would choose luciferianism as their religion.

Their “do what thou wilt” philosophy of hedonism takes the idea of freedom and removes all responsibility – It is a degenerate view of liberty, rather than a principled view. Freedom, they think, is only for people like them; the people willing to desecrate everything in their path and upend the natural order.

As psychopaths, they are devoid of natural inborn contents and are more robotic than human. So, it’s no surprise that people like Harai argue there is no soul, no freedom (for you) and that machines are capable of the same creativity as humans. An empty person with no soul or creativity is going to assume that all other people are empty. An immoral person will also be compelled to prove that everyone else is just as immoral as he is. Or, he will be compelled to prove that he is superior to everyone else because he has embraced his immorality.

Do the elites actually believe in a real “devil” with hooves and horns and a pitchfork? I don’t know. What matters, though, is the philosophical drive of their cultism. Their goal is to convince a majority of the populace that there is no good, and there is no evil. Everything is empty. Everything is relative to the demands of the moment, and the demands of society. Of course, they want to control society, so then everything would really be relative to THEIR demands.

If you want to see something truly demonic, imagine a world in which all inherent truth is abandoned for the sake of subjective perception. A world that caters to the preferences of psychopaths with no ethical imperative. A world where the ends always justify the means. This is the luciferian way, and the globalist way. And no matter how much they deny it, the reality of their beliefs is visible in the fruits of their labors. Wherever they go, destruction, chaos and death follow.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Thu, 02/22/2024 - 23:40
Published:2/22/2024 11:17:15 PM
[Entertainment] 5 utterly addictive new science fiction and fantasy novels New books from Yangsze Choo, Rae Giana Rashad and others explore how clever underdogs manage to endure and heal. Published:2/21/2024 10:05:27 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:2/21/2024 6:07:20 AM
[Review] Ukraine Isn’t Putin’s War—It’s Russia’s War. Jade McGlynn’s books paint an unsettling picture of ordinary Russians’ support for the invasion and occupation of Ukraine. Published:2/21/2024 2:07:38 AM
[Markets] The Rise And Fall Of The Second Amendment The Rise And Fall Of The Second Amendment

Authored by Donald Jeffries via I Protest,

Everyone has undoubtedly heard about the shooting during the Super Bowl victory parade in Kansas City. These victory celebrations always bring the potential for trouble, what with all those young males consuming prodigious amounts of alcohol. And they draw the worst elements; the seemingly perpetually armed gang-bangers.

The shooting has triggered the yawningly predictable response from the “Woke” crowd. Which at this point means nearly our entire government and corporate leadership. One marvels at how many times clueless celebrities can breathlessly tweet out, “We have to do something about this!” or “We are failing the children!” It’s odd how the inanimate object- the gun- is always the Oswald-style patsy in these incidents. Often the names of those wielding the inanimate objects for no good are barely mentioned. Quick; name the Parkland school shooter. The Pulse gay night club shooter. It’s the guns, racist! The tweets in response to this most recent shooting, especially those emanating from the dying embers of Hollywood, are examples of insipid mindlessness. Digital postcards from the Idiocracy.

The text of the Second Amendment itself reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In my book Crimes and Cover-Ups in American Politics: 1776-1963, I devoted a section to the very clear comments by all the Founders, regarding what the Second Amendment actually meant. It would have been nice if they’d worded it better, so there wouldn’t be an opening for the usual suspects to interpret it to suit their agendas. But each and every one of those who ratified it, even the odious, bankers’ stooge Alexander Hamilton, left no doubt in their public comments, that the Bill of Rights protected the individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

It’s ironic that the word “militia” is in there, seeing as how that term has come to be demonized, especially since the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, when Bill Clinton exploited it like a poster child for muscular dystrophy. All the state controlled media has to do at this point is claim some poor sap was associated with some “militia,” and its de facto evidence of guilt. Of something. Anything. James Madison, considered the father of the Constitution, noted in The Federalist Papers that "a standing army....would be opposed [by] militia." He wanted State governments to have the ability to “repel the danger" of a federal army. You know, like the Military Industrial Complex, which he could not have foreseen in his wildest dreams.

Thomas Jefferson in particular was vehemently opposed to a standing federal army. Like the rest of the Founders, he believed it was the responsibility of a citizens militia of ordinary Americans to defend their state, or in the rarest of circumstances, the entire country from an outside threat. He also made it clear that an armed citizenry was the best defense against government tyranny. As president, Jefferson slashed military spending. He noted, “Standing armies [are] inconsistent with [a people’s] freedom and subversive of their quiet.” In 1789, the author of the Declaration of Independence wrote, “There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors….Such an instrument is a standing army." No wonder he’s now a hopeless dead White “racist.”

By the time of Lincoln, our first imperial president, a national military was an unquestioned reality. No more fears about a standing army. Honest Abe instituted the first unconstitutional military draft, resulting in the bloody riots in New York. The immigrants du jour of the day, the Irish, quite naturally objected to being forced to participate in a senseless slaughter they had no historical or cultural association with. Lincoln’s federal army cut a deadly swath through the south, raping, destroying crops, burning homes, and engaging in the boldest larceny in the history of warfare, as they stole every valuable that wasn’t nailed down. For this, all Americans pay homage today. They were great American heroes.

The power of the national military grew, and we eviscerated George Washington’s warnings about “no entangling alliances,” and John Quincy Adams’ admonitions that we not “go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” World Wars I and II were something Jefferson and the other Founders would have mortified by. They would have led chapters of the America First Committee. Another modern hero, Franklin Roosevelt, would have had them “cancelled” and perhaps imprisoned. That precedent had been set when Lincoln imprisoned his dissenters without any due process. Once the Pentagon was built, and the unconstitutional intelligence agencies established, we had something more than a standing army. We had an Occupying Force.

So this clash between individual firearm owners and a national military was inevitable. Individuals were not necessarily going to agree with the policies and actions of this national army, especially when it was given authority to run roughshod over American citizens. Look at what happened to the World War I “Bonus Army,” veterans of that senseless conflict, who naturally objected when their promised “bonus” was denied them. They set up tents on the Capitol, and U.S. forces, led by future superstars Douglas MacArthur and George Patton, defeated them as easily as William Sherman defeated the women and children of the Confederacy. So if you’re in our glorious federal military, don’t complain if they break a promise.

The distinction between Jefferson’s vision of a well armed citizens’ militia, and the modern Military Industrial Complex couldn’t be more obvious. Conservatives, however, generally adore this federal army, and the intelligence agencies that accompany it. They also worship our militarized police forces, and were ecstatic over the implementation of no-knock SWAT team raids on private homes. Until they raided Mar-a-Lago, that is. But all that’s been forgotten. The FBI was not abolished, and the Right seems cool with the Occupying Force again. Exactly how different is a gun aficionado saying “Thank you for your service” from a masochist saying “Thank you, may I have another?”

The individual right to bear arms conflicts with armed (and militarized) police officers, and certainly with the armed forces of the United States, the largest military the world has ever seen. When a citizen has an encounter with a law enforcement officer, regardless of the nature of the “law” they’re enforcing, the Second Amendment disappears. You’re not going to find a case where an armed citizen shot a cop in self-defense, without being prosecuted. It doesn’t matter how unjustified the officer was, the officer is by default considered to be in the right. If you don’t like it, take it to court. Where you will unquestionably lose. The courts are always going to be the final arbiter in any battle between armed citizens and the Occupying Force. And you know what side they’ll be on. Every single time.

It wasn’t until 2008 that the Supreme Court first ruled that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to self-defense in his own home. This hasn’t stopped some unfortunate homeowners, like Byron Smith of Minnesota, from being convicted of murder; he shot two home invaders who proved to be unarmed. Others in similar situations have been charged as well, while in some cases reason still prevails and the homeowner is considered to have acted understandably. From what I’ve heard, you are always considered justified in shooting someone if they are setting fire to your home. How this differs from robbery is something only our esteemed judges can fathom. So if you have a home invader, throw him some matches, and urge him to commit arson. Maybe he won’t understand the nuances of the law.

So here we are today, in America 2.0. The battle lines have been drawn. In this corner, you have the challenger, the Second Amendment. An antiquated notion dreamed up by long dead White “racists.” And in the other corner, you have the Occupying Force, hailing from Washington, D.C., undefeated and untied. Second Amendment activists today concentrate on simply keeping their own weapons. Being able to hunt legally. To go target shooting. There is no emphasis on protection from government tyranny, which was the motivation behind the amendment in the first place. The Occupying Force knows it has nothing to fear from “gun nuts.” They remember the victories at Ruby Ridge. And Waco. And the Bundy ranch, to mention just a few examples.

If all the gun enthusiasts that Hollywood frets over really had government tyranny in mind, like the Founders did, they would have reacted differently during the unconstitutional COVID lockdown. I must have missed all of the standoffs between armed small business owners and the Occupying Force, which was denying them the right to earn a living. Or between concealed carry owners and authoritarian officers demanding they wear a mask, or stop letting their children play in a park. Presumably, the vast majority of those who came to the January 6 Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C. were gun owners. And yet, the authorities couldn’t find a single gun anywhere. That’s not only an odd way to conduct an “insurrection,” it’s indicative of the mindset of most gun activists. Just let me hang my weapons on the wall.

Now, please don’t think I’m suggesting that gun owners take up arms against the government. The military industrial complex would make such a thing impossible, regardless. But if your primary issue is the Second Amendment, you ought to at least acknowledge that its purpose was not to protect your right to hunt, or to target practice. It was as a safeguard against an encroaching, corrupt government. I think that, if enough small business owners had let the authorities know they were armed and ready to defend their livelihood from an out of control Occupying Force, that perhaps the lockdown wouldn’t have been quite as successful. How about armed pastors, defending their right to conduct religious services? You had one half-assed protest in Michigan, which was demonized over a Confederate flag or something.

While the Left wants citizens to be subjected to the mercy of kind-hearted, well-armed police and soldiers, some on the Right want to arm teachers, for instance. Now, having looked at enough TikTok videos to see just how many teachers today are fortunate that the mental institutions have mostly closed, these are the last people on earth I want to be possessing firearms. In school. While my kids are compelled to be there. Can you imagine an unstable, purple haired “educator” becoming irate at a MAGA hat or something? Do you really want that person to have a gun handy? Somehow, I don’t see more guns in schools making things safer.

As always, we didn’t reach this stage overnight. That’s why I focus so much on hidden history. The “loyal” unionists should have realized that by permitting a despot like Lincoln to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and shut down over two hundred newspapers, they were paving the way for future government tyranny. The people who sat idly by while Eugene Debs and the other WWI protesters were ludicrously portrayed as “yelling fire in a crowded theater,” made possible the Orwellian concept of “Hate Speech” which we know and love today. That same generation accepted the ridiculous, anti-liberty figure of “Uncle Sam,” and allowed it to symbolize the growing unconstitutional federal government. The Occupying Force. Really, how different is our Uncle Sam from Oceana’s Big Brother?

World War II- the “good” war. The “greatest generation.” Read what I wrote about their true conduct in Crimes and Cover-Ups. The Korean “conflict,” like every nonsensical American interventionist escapade since then conducted without a declaration of war by Congress, as they’re constitutionally required to do. Now, we’re permitting billions to flow into a Zionist dictator in Ukraine, while American citizens are living in tents and shitting in the street. But all this was possible because the government- through its military industrial complex and its localized police forces- has “the meat,” to quote the Arby’s commercial. There is no limitation on their firearms. No one will accuse them of “stockpiling” weapons, or possessing “illegal” weapons. And our brave police officers must be able to protect themselves. It’s an “officer safety” thing, you wouldn’t understand.

Any discussion of “gun control” from todays Left begins and ends with individual ownership. They don’t talk about “responsible” gun ownership on the part of police forces. Like shooting deaf people in the back when they don’t respond to your orders. Or our increasingly “Woke” military forces. Like killing that wedding party in Yemen was pretty irresponsible, I think. If some lone, deranged individual plowed down a wedding party, do you think he’d ever see the light of day again? But military atrocities are rarely acknowledged, let alone prosecuted. Look what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing to the brave soldiers who played soccer with decapitated heads, or killed a family of civilians. Instead, it was then Bradley Manning, who exposed the atrocities through Wikileaks, that was punished. Along with Julian Assange, who will still probably feel the wrath of a justice-free legal system.

Hollywood doesn’t really have anything against guns. After all, every blockbuster action movie throughout history has featured guns of all varieties front and center. The hero- often played by a hypocritical “liberal” that pontificates about gun control while being protected by armed personal security- can’t beat the armed bad guys without arms of his own. I think that’s kind of what Thomas Jefferson was talking about. If the police and the military are going to have guns, the citizens should be allowed to have them, too. Must be allowed to have them, as all the Founders carefully noted for posterity. That’s one of many reasons the Founders are ignored today, other than to be castigated as worthless, “racist” relics from the stone age.

I would love for there to be a way to destroy every gun in the world, starting with all those controlled by governments. But that isn’t possible. We can even create them on our own now, with those incomprehensible 3-D printers. And how many gun control laws are already on the books? The big cities, where the most gun violence occurs, have the strictest gun laws. As the conservatives accurately point out, the criminals aren’t buying guns legally, and will always find a way to get them illegally. So any restrictions on firearms impacts law abiding citizens exclusively. You know, the ones who are no threat to ever commit a violent crime. And yet, the “Woke” mantra, from Democratic Party politicians to their sycophants in the entertainment world, is that something must be done. For the children! Who they are in favor of aborting or “transitioning.” That’s the only kind of “choice” they support.

That something, of course, is to ban individual ownership of firearms. These “Woke” activists want only the police and the military to have them. Not you. If that doesn’t reflect the most naive trust in authority imaginable, I don’t know what would. And it contradicts the whole spirit of our own fight for independence. The Minutemen. Give me liberty or give me death. Obviously, we could never have seceded from British rule (and yes, that is the proper term), without the possession of firearms. The Shot Heard Around the World couldn’t have happened without a weapon to fire it. King George could have decided to enslave all the colonists, not just the Black ones. And without guns, what exactly could the colonists- our ancestors- have done about it?

I’ve never been a violent person. I don’t understand violence, so I certainly can’t comprehend gun violence. I love peace. Give me the Summer of Love again, without the drugs and the government infiltrators. But the gun “debate” isn’t going to go away until either the Second Amendment is officially abolished, or a majority of the citizens make it known that they will accept no more restrictions on their constitutional right to bear arms. If nothing else, having a well-armed citizenry makes the criminal government think twice before launching yet another unconstitutional act. It’s bad enough living under an Occupying Force when millions of Americans do own firearms. Consider what it would be like without them. Again, I am not advocating violence of any kind. But we must speak out while we still can.

Subscribe to "I Protest" by Donald Jeffries

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/19/2024 - 23:30
Published:2/19/2024 11:27:56 PM
[Navalny, Aleksei A] Inside Aleksei Navalny’s Final Months, in His Own Words Trump. Indian food. Matthew Perry. And books, books, books. Excerpts from letters obtained by The Times show Mr. Navalny’s active mind, even amid brutal prison conditions. Published:2/19/2024 6:08:33 AM
[Markets] FDA Approves First Medication To Treat Severe Frostbite FDA Approves First Medication To Treat Severe Frostbite

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first injectable medication to treat frostbite.

Actelion Pharmaceutical’s Aurlumyn uses main ingredient iloprost to dilate blood vessels and prevent blood from clotting, reducing the risk of finger or toe amputation.

The drug was initially approved in 2004 to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension.

"This approval provides patients with the first-ever treatment option for severe frostbite," said Dr. Norman Stockbridge, director of the division of cardiology and nephrology in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Having this new option provides physicians with a tool that will help prevent the lifechanging amputation of one’s frostbitten fingers or toes."

According to the Epoch Times, the most common side effects are headache, flushing, heart palpitations, fast heart rate, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and low blood pressure.

The medication was studied in a 12-year trial which included 47 adults who had severe frostbite following mountain rescues. The average age of the patients was 33, and each of them had frostbite affecting the feet and hands at high altitude.

Each patient took aspirin and received standard care, while one subgroup took an IV of Aurlumyn for six hours per day for up to eight days. The second group received Aurlumyn plus an unapproved medication, while a third group received other medications not yet approved for severe frostbite.

None of the patients who received Aurlumyn required amputation, vs. 19% in the 2nd group, and 60% in the third group.

As the Epoch Times reports further;

Frostbite can range from mild to severe. In its earliest stage, frostbite is actually known as frostnip. Frostnip does not damage the skin. Likewise, mild frostbite typically does not require medical intervention, as it does not cause permanent damage. Symptoms of frostbite include cold skin or a prickly feeling caused by reduced blood flow. Numbness follows, as well as inflamed or discolored skin. The skin may become stiff or waxy-looking as the frostbite worsens and severe frostbite sets in.

Severe frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissue freeze and blood flow stops. When this happens, amputation is sometimes the only available option. Now, Aurlumyn can be injected into the site to prevent blood from clotting.

While severe frostbite can be a risk in extreme sports like mountain climbing, it is also a risk to homeless populations, children, and older people. Whatever the person’s situation, being out in the cold for prolonged periods increases the risk of frostbite and can worsen the outcome of injuries.

In particular, individuals with certain medical conditions, including peripheral vascular disease, malnutrition, Raynaud’s disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and stroke, are at higher risk of frostbite. Those living at high altitudes or where there is a high wind chill factor are also at heightened risk.

Bringing New Hope to Those in a Tough Situation

The medication’s approval provides an encouraging option for health care providers treating patients with severe frostbite. While additional studies will be required to better understand the long-term impacts and other potential uses of Aurlumyn, the Feb. 14 approval marks a significant milestone in the medical field.

The medication is expected to be available in Spring 2024. Pricing has not yet been set, NewsMax reported.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/19/2024 - 04:45
Published:2/19/2024 5:08:26 AM
[] Food Thread: Meatballs And Gin...A Match Made In Heaven (Not Really) My favorite meatball recipe is by Marcella Hazan, whose cook books are a marvelous introduction to classic Italian cooking, and rather well written to boot. Of course rumor has it that her husband wrote them and she was just... Published:2/18/2024 3:04:00 PM
[Markets] How Progressive Policies Are Designed For Civilizational Suicide How Progressive Policies Are Designed For Civilizational Suicide

Authored by John D. O'Connor via American Greatness,

We all understand, in the timeless words of the poet Robert Burns, that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Most Americans are accustomed to assessing the various failed initiatives of our country’s leaders as well-intended actions that turned out badly. The Vietnam, Afghan, and Iraq wars, the 2008 financial meltdown, and the COVID pandemic overreaction, all in hindsight, can be viewed as simply the unfolding of human stupidity in the contingency of time.

In accordance, it is understandable that many are inclined to believe that our country’s current serious problems are, once again, merely the failed result of well-intentioned policies.

But what if, we ask, seemingly fumbled programs were intended to be the initial throes of civilizational suicide? What if apparent missteps were actually directed at the purposeful destruction of a prosperous, free, safe, and secure society?

As we examine the policies pushed by the Biden administration progressives regarding climate, national security, crime, and the border, we can rationally conclude that they are being purposely implemented to render our society unsuccessful, not successful, in its traditional aims, causing what could be the ultimate destruction of a thriving, liberal enlightenment society.

Let us begin with escalating climate mandates, now reaching gas stoves and tires, seeking the total elimination of fossil fuels. Because our mainstream media, more out of reflexive conformity than malevolence, constantly amplify climate alarmism, most Americans believe climate programs are designed in good faith to protect us from planetary disasters. Climate subsidies are aimed, they are led to believe, at increasing prosperity through good “green” jobs in emerging “green” industries, all part of the supposedly improved “Bidenomics” economy, however counterintuitive many think them to be.

When Biden, immediately upon assuming office, stopped issuing new drilling leases, canceled the Keystone Pipeline, and issued EPA regulations effectively shutting down multiple power plants in the near future, was he, however idealistically, trying to wean our country off of fossil fuels in favor of clean, “renewable” energy? If so, what could be wrong with that?

If the administration had calculated that lost energy from stifling fossil fuel sources could actually be replaced, these initiatives, even if overly optimistic, could be viewed as well-intended.

However, within the climate camp, it has been well known that fossil fuels, which power 82% of world energy needs, cannot conceivably be replaced by renewable energy to any substantial degree. So, as these policies take effect over the coming years, our hospitals and medical centers, relying on petroleum-based plastic furniture, fixtures, and equipment, energy-dependent stainless-steel implements, and high-power physical plants, will be hit hard. Health care costs will soar, while treatment will decrease to emerging society levels. Our food costs, already rising dramatically, will skyrocket as petroleum fertilizer, now tripling yields, becomes economically impractical. Housing costs, dependent on fuel-powered equipment and concrete and steel needing massive energy inputs to manufacture, will put homeownership out of reach for all but the rich and reduce housing to cramped, third-world levels. And, of course, transportation will become an expensive luxury for both people and products.

But isn’t this all meant well? For trusting, uncritical moderates and traditional liberals, yes. For the progressives pulling the strings, no.

Maurice Strong, the Canadian socialist responsible for steering the United Nations into the bureaucratic sinecures of the climate alarmist IPCC, has stated from the outset that his intention is the diminishment of the wealth of the Western industrialized nations, making them more like less-advantaged societies.

Although they tout their certainty, climate warriors conceal that for decades, their computerized GCMs (General Circulation Models) have overpredicted global warming by 300%. Well, they respond when confronted by the knowledgeable, the increased heat was swallowed by the oceans, or perhaps tamped down by those pesky aerosols. They know better, but gullible, well-intentioned believers do not.

Documents from a key IPCC research center in East Anglia, the GRU, reveal the fear of climate activists that the public will learn of the Medieval Warm Period and that its temperatures were warmer than today without any claimed assistance from carbon dioxide. Progressive climatologists, in essence, know they are pushing a canard.

Progressive border policies need little discussion. When Biden was elected, the country was led to believe that he would aim to control the southern border, but do so in a humane, non-Trump manner, no longer putting children in cages (which in truth and in fact were Obama-inspired).

Of course, to any rational observer, it is now clear that the massive invasion at our southern border was intended by progressives. The “great replacement” theory is not needed to prove this invasion intentional, obvious to any observer. Three-star New York hotels and thousand-dollar-a-month payments to migrants? Free health care? These are among the positive incentives to illegally migrate, revealing intentionality after the maligned Trump proved that the border was substantially controllable.

The intended result of mass migration is not just new Democratic voters; the most obvious result. It is, more significantly, a deliberately overwhelming burden on our social welfare system, heretofore supported sufficiently by taxes on a powerful economy. With more unemployment and more burdens on social welfare, the progress of the aspiring poor, primarily minorities, will be crushed. Our society is headed, as intended by progressives, to socialism, which, as Winston Churchill noted, has “as its greatest virtue the equal sharing of misery.”

Moving to national security, the tinderbox of the Middle East was not caused by Trump’s irrational temperament, which, in hindsight, has proven its deterrent value. Rather, putting Obama’s progressive policies on steroids, Biden both directly sent cash to Iran and also removed oil sanctions, giving the country financial power to fund Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and, of course, Iran’s own depredations on U.S. troops. Biden’s special Iran envoy, the pro-Hamas Rob Malley, and other pro-Iran and pro-Hamas officials influence our Middle East policy to intentionally favor our enemies.

But what could be the progressive motive for Iran’s hegemony in the Middle East? Clearly, it is to cause the demise of “right-wing” leadership in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, all American allies, so that the region will be controlled by anti-American repressive regimes. Interestingly, progressives revealed their anti-democratic, authoritarian roots by supporting Mullahs who kill members of the LGBT community and subdue women. Again, Iran’s terrorism is not an unfortunate artifact of balanced statesmanship. Rather, it is intended to exterminate a democratic Jewish society and a Saudi regime seeking to modernize itself. In a remarkable exercise in projection, progressives at the same time deem Trump to be a Hitler stand-in.

Similarly, the cause of increasing crime in our cities is no mystery. Progressives applauded, not decried, the George Floyd mayhem, largely an exercise in looting. Beautiful cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles, all run by progressives, have become dystopian hellholes.

So, sincere, well-meaning liberals should, but generally do not, see that they are being led like lemmings to the sea, toward civilizational suicide, by the progressives they have long trusted as being in the liberal leadership, not the socialist vanguard.

In the nineteenth century, the brilliant French observer of American culture, Count Alexis de Tocqueville, said that democratic despotism would be effectuated, if at all, not by overt state terror but by the infantilization of a trusting population.

The evidence is now clearly established that moderate liberals should face reality and reject the policies of the progressive vanguard, leading them into civilizational suicide.

*  *  *

John D. O’Connor is a former federal prosecutor and the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the author of the books, Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism and The Mysteries of Watergate: What Really Happened.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/16/2024 - 23:00
Published:2/16/2024 10:17:52 PM
[black history month] 10 Must-Read Books By Black Authors Using Fantasy to Explore Black Imagination These are some of the best fantasy books to check out during Black History Month and all year long. Published:2/16/2024 10:54:35 AM
[Markets] Medicine Now Diagnoses The Non-White 'Oppressed' With An Oppressive Case Of 'Weathering' Medicine Now Diagnoses The Non-White 'Oppressed' With An Oppressive Case Of 'Weathering'

Authored by John Murawski via RealClear Wire,

In 1986, an upstart public health researcher named Arline Geronimus challenged the conventional wisdom that condemned the alarming rise of inner-city teen pregnancies. While activist minister Jesse Jackson and health care leaders were decrying the crisis of “babies having babies” as a ghetto pathology, Geronimus contended that teenage pregnancy was a rational response to urban poverty where low-income black people have fewer healthy years before the onset of heart problems, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Although Geronimus’ claims gained little traction at the time, the concept she pioneered – “weathering” – eventually became a foundation for the social justice ideology that is now upending medicine and social policy. She has stated in interviews and in her writings that the term “weathering” was intended to evoke the idea of erosion and resilience.

A white professor at the University of Michigan whom The New York Times hailed last year as an “icon,” Geronimus has combined race theory with data and statistics to argue that the chronic stress of living in an oppressive, white-majority society causes damage at the cellular level and leads to obesity and other health conditions, resulting in shorter life expectancies for African Americans. In more than 130 published studies, she has expanded the weathering hypothesis from an explanation of poverty harming one’s health into a dystopian sociological worldview that identifies middle-class assimilation and professional striving within the “American Creed” of hard work as the silent killers of people of color.

Living life according to the dominant social norms of personal responsibility and virtue is not universally health promoting,” Geronimus wrote in a Harvard Public Health essay last year. “On the contrary: if you’re Black, working hard and playing by the rules can be part of what kills you.”

The subject of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and thousands of citations, the weathering hypothesis is now widely taught in public health schools and accepted as perhaps the most plausible scientific explanation of how American society grinds down black and brown bodies. And the weathering paradox – that “relatively young people can be biologically old” – is now influencing policy decisions at all levels of governance.

Geronimus’ hypothesis was the foundation of many of the policy decisions of the White House COVID-19 health equity task force. In New Hampshire, the governor’s COVID-19 Equity Response Team issued a report and recommendations in 2020, citing weathering (and “racial battle fatigue”) as documented and established realities of American life. Weathering was recently extended beyond American people of color and accepted as evidence in federal courts to win early release of non-white detainees, some as young as their 30s, who were deemed to be prematurely aged and therefore at higher risk for COVID complications.

Some critics are beginning to push back against what they see as the heavy-handed, COVID-era politicization of healthcare. Ian Kingsbury, research director at Do No Harm, a nonprofit that seeks to keep identity politics out of medicine, said the uncritical acceptance of the weathering hypothesis as factual science has created an aura of invincibility.

“Unfortunately, judges and other policymakers look to academic journals to be authoritative and trustworthy voices on what is evidence and what is science,” said Kingsbury. “And so you sneak this stuff in there and, unfortunately, as far as a lot of people are concerned, you’ve created knowledge.”

More broadly, Boston University public health dean Sandro Galea warned in a new book, “Within Reason: A Liberal Public Health for an Illiberal Time,” that his profession has veered into overcorrection and revolutionary excess. Galea doesn’t name names in his book, but he rebukes public health advocates for favoring political narratives over empirical data, denying the reality of social progress, and fixating on a utopian quest “to create a world free of risk.”

Geronimus did not respond to emails requesting an interview for this article.

The rise and reach of Geronimus’ weathering hypothesis – a once obscure and idiosyncratic idea that is becoming conventional wisdom in medicine – provides a window into how activist rhetoric and social justice ideology pioneered by feminist, queer, and critical race theorists are recasting healthcare as a Machiavellian power struggle between the privileged and the oppressed.

The public health field has long focused on “social determinants of health,” such as one’s environment and socioeconomic status, as contributors to health outcomes. The weathering hypothesis takes political empowerment to the next level, by medicalizing social relations and politicizing medicine. Weathering prefigured the recent flood of medical research that centers race in public policy and supplies the rationale for such moves as 265 public authorities declaring racism as a public health crisis; health officials jettisoning colorblindness and prioritizing people of color for COVID vaccinations and heart treatment; and medical schools training future doctors in social justice activism.

In her 2023 book, “Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society,” Geronimus sweeps across time and space, omnisciently diagnosing celebrities and public figures with weathering. She claims it explains why Martin Luther King Jr. had the damaged heart of a 60-year-old when he was assassinated at age 39 and why Fannie Lou Hamer died of breast cancer and complications of hypertension at age 59. She asserts that the trauma of being black in America is one reason why tennis greats Serena Williams had life-threatening blood clots at age 36, and why Arthur Ashe had a heart attack at age 36.

“Success comes at a spectacularly high health cost for those who have to fight the hardest to achieve it in the context of a society that doesn’t value them,” Geronimus stated in her book. “Structural violence is insidious, pervasive, and fateful. It is the fundamental cause of weathering, and it is entirely ignored in the age-washing narrative.”

It is amply documented that African Americans of all social classes have worse health outcomes, earlier onset of chronic diseases, and average life expectancies reported as five to six years less than whites. Weathering science, as Geronimus calls it, measures various biomarkers of what is presumed to be psychosocial stress – such as cortisol levels, telomere lengths, cytokine storms, and allostatic loads – to make the case that on average black adults are as much as 10 years older biologically than white people of a comparable chronological age.

But the data is complicated, requires interpretation, and doesn’t always add up. For example, in a 2021 study, a gerontology scholar at the University of Southern California assessed 13 measures of epigenetic aging. It found that some of the measures indicate accelerated aging among African Americans, while others indicate slower aging for African Americans. Epigenetics refers to the way genes function or malfunction under environmental stress and cultural conditions; most of these “epigenetic clocks” associate accelerated aging with obesity and lifetime smoking. This research, noting “the lack of expected effects of race and ethnicity,” suggests that there is no gold standard for measuring premature aging, and that weathering research is highly sensitive to the variables and measures that researchers select.

Nevertheless, Geronimus compares the African American experience of living and working among white people to the fight-or-flight adrenaline rush of a prehistoric human fleeing a cheetah – except, she says, that a 21st-century black person in a majority white society is trapped in that high-stress mode all day, every day, without reprieve, resulting in a flood of stress hormones that dysregulate the body.

Fluent in the language of social justice activism, Geronimus describes American society as a relentless onslaught of “microaggressions,” “othering,” “existential insults,” “daily indignities,” “voice erasure,” “identity threat” and other forms of “cultural oppression” that lead to early death. In response to those ever-present dangers in “the privileged space known as whiteness,” black people are constantly forced to adopt “high effort coping strategies” that Geronimus describes as “identity management” and “identity safety.” In a 2015 study titled “Black Lives Matter,” Geronimus and her co-authors estimated that racism and weathering caused 2.7 million “excess black deaths” in the United States between 1970 and 2004, a death toll of genocidal proportions.

This one-dimensional way of analyzing social relations has the effect of privileging the stress of those presumed to be oppressed, said Stanley Goldfarb, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school and founder and chairman of the Do No Harm nonprofit.

The problem with the theory is that these hormones and these stress responses don’t know what skin color you have,” Goldfarb said. “The point is: What’s unique about their stress? The point isn’t that stress is bad. The point is you decided that your stress is unique and different from everybody else’s stress.”

Still, weathering is an attractive explanation to researchers because the link between psychosocial stress and physical wear and tear is consistent with lower life expectancy for African Americans and lower-income people.

Moreover, the hypothesis is “very intuitive” to economists because of its similarity to modeling health depreciation, and to social scientists who seek explanations of differential outcomes, said economist Robert Kaestner, a University of Chicago public policy professor who co-authored a weathering study with Geronimus in 2009.

However, weathering studies do not actually measure stress or racism, but only correlate biological metrics back to the weathering hypothesis. The scientific conundrum is that the same biological evidence that supports weathering could also be “consistent with a lot of other things,” Kaestner said in a phone interview. “It’s always a measurement problem.”

Weathering is a hypothesis, still in search of definitive evidence,” Kaestner said. “I’ve never seen one [study] – including my own – where it’s a definitive study that this really is a smoking gun that racism or prolonged psychosocial stress causes adverse health outcomes.”

Stress and racism are assumed as the causes of overeating, smoking and other unhealthy habits, in large part because the public health field and medical research steer clear of explanations that are genetic, biological, behavioral or cultural – which would violate the rule that prohibits blaming the victim.

“That the chronic cascade of stress hormones in the bloodstream may also physiologically propel us toward eating ‘comfort’ foods high in fats and sugars, or to turn to alcohol or other drugs for relief, only makes this problem all the worse,” Geronimus writes in her book.

This leaves only one permissible option: structural oppression. A reader of these studies will be struck by the absence of alternative explanations.

They’re writing a story about weathering. I’m going to leave it at that,” Kaestner said. “It’s a widely held view that this is in fact what’s happening. There’s tons of these correlation studies that really don’t get anywhere near documenting a causal relationship, but if you write enough of them, it becomes conventional wisdom in the public health community.”

Still, the hypothesis can exert hypnotic powers on acolytes. Last year, during a burst of media fascination in Geronimus’s book, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that Geronimus “presents a staggering accumulation of evidence to show how daily discrimination grinds people down and all too often leads to debilitating illness and early death.”

Less than three weeks later, the Guardian ran another article about weathering, in which Geronimus convinced a black reporter that there’s no escape from the weathering trap without restructuring modern societies.

“By the end of our conversation I feel trapped – hyperaware of all the ways my social identity as a member of a black minority exposes me to stressors,” the Guardian writer ruminated. “Am I trapped?”

“I think there are things you can do that will make a difference, but you are stuck being weathered,” Geronimus responded. “And it really will take other kinds of structural changes for weathering not to happen.”

Geronimus asserts that the totalizing nature of white society renders conventional prescriptions for good health – diet and exercise – as naive and possibly dangerous.

“Exercise can be beneficial, but a Black person considering taking a run will be unlikely to forget that Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death while jogging because he was Black,” she writes in reference to a 2020 fatal policing incident in Georgia. “And how can a Black person relax into restorative sleep knowing Breonna Taylor was shot to death by police [in Louisville, Kentucky in 2020] as she slept in her own apartment?”

Geronimus offers one possibility of a safe space for black people in a 2020 study, co-authored by one of her former students. The paper claims that black students who enroll or attend a historically black college or university are shielded from racism and therefore 35% less likely to develop obesity, diabetes or related cardiovascular symptoms than black kids who attend a “predominantly white institution.”

The conclusions are extrapolated from a sample of 727 black participants in a national health survey. The health benefits, she reported, are even more pronounced for black people who grow up in racially segregated neighborhoods – a finding that flies in the face of decades of research that links racial segregation to racial disparities across a wide swath of measures, from education to net worth.

The influence of the weathering hypothesis – especially the claim that racism has profound effects on biology and epigenetics – can even be seen in research that ostensibly challenges Geronimus’ hypothesis.

In 2021, Harvard University sociologist Ellis Monk published a study concluding that black-on-black in-group prejudice – known as “colorism” – can have a pernicious effect on the physical health of African Americans for common conditions and ailments, such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart trouble, vision loss, hearing loss, cancer and kidney problems.

One could interpret colorism as undermining the racial power theories of the weathering hypothesis, but Monk interprets colorism as a form of white supremacy.

One way that white supremacy proceeds, or racial domination proceeds, is by recruiting members of the stigmatized category as agents in the system,” Monk explained in a 2018 colloquium at Harvard, an interpretation repeated in his research. “That’s the way the system works.”

Geronimus’ more recent research concludes that people of color are not the only victims of weathering. She has expanded the hypothesis to include working-class Appalachian whites who experience poverty and social stigma, and to Ashkenazi Jews who were persecuted in Europe or stigmatized by antisemitism in this country. She cites her father as an example, describing how he donned his psychological armor every day to go to work among gentiles at his bench job in a bacteriology laboratory, and died in his 60s of an inflammatory disease that affected multiple organs, including the lungs and heart.

The continued expansion of the weathering hypothesis is gaining traction. Geronimus writes that in 2020 she was asked by immigration attorney Kari Hong to submit expert testimony on weathering in support of early release petitions for immigrant asylum seekers who were being held in detention. Hong argued to federal judges that these foreign-born detainees were “biologically older than their chronological age” and should be released “just as senior citizen detainees.”

According to the New York Times, Hong won early release for “all seven detainees,” based on Geronimus’ weathering testimony. Those cases are sealed under federal court rules, and Hong did not respond to emails, but according to limited public information, most were Hispanic or African. And some were in their 30s and had no symptoms or diagnosis. Although weathering is still most commonly used in connection with African Americans, its expansion to other groups is both true to Geronimus’ original concept and a reflection of her growing influence.

A hypothesis first developed to correct what she saw as moral judgment and victim-blaming of the black underclass developed into an expansive theory of the United States as a soul-crushing, body-destroying totalitarian hellscape she has ominously called “the surround.”

In a 2015 paper she and her co-authors described the “the surround” as a clandestine program of cultural brainwashing that operates by means of “phantasms” that implant a virtual social reality into the brains of unsuspecting victims through the imposition of culture and power.

The paper, does, however, suggest that health equity for the oppressed is attainable through a total immersion in social activism: “Counter narratives, oppositional gaze development (or critical consciousness raising), and protest.”

Ultimately, the subject of weathering is linked to a whole range of progressive moral concerns – from the gender binary to climate change. And the solutions that Geronimus proposes in her book include a return to “collectivism” – in the form of extended, multigenerational, cross-household, women-centered kinship networks.

“Contrary to popular opinion and accepted wisdom,” she writes, “healthy aging is a measure not of how well we take care of ourselves but rather of how well society treats and takes care of us.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/14/2024 - 18:45
Published:2/14/2024 5:46:21 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:2/14/2024 7:19:38 AM
[Markets] Land Of Spooks And Shills And Sheeple Land Of Spooks And Shills And Sheeple

Submitted by Donald Jeffries via "I Protest",

Trust is a rare commodity in today’s world. Maybe it always has been. I remember trusting some older males who were relatives or neighbors, as a child. Then later as an adult, I’d hear from my sister and others about how these fine upstanding men had propositioned them, or touched them inappropriately.

Moral trust is one thing. We all fail to some degree on this count, because we are all sinners. My head will probably always be turned by a good-looking female. It’s just instinctive. I remember a great comedy skit with Richard Pryor, where he was sitting in a crowd with his wife/girlfriend, who was glaring at him, upset over him checking out other women. Then his head turns again, and he tells her, “Can’t you see how strong that shit is? I know you’re gonna be mad, but I still can’t stop it!” While it bothers me when I attend a wedding where the divorced bride’s children from her first marriage are ringbearers or flower girls (mumbling to myself, “I can’t stop thinking she said ‘I do’ to someone else just five years ago’), I understand human weakness. Judge not lest ye be judged.

It’s political trust that’s on my mind. If you listen to me Saturdays at 12 noon on “America Unplugged” with Billy Ray Valentine and Tony Arterburn, you may have heard our discussion this past Saturday on Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin. It was obvious by the comments in the chat, and later on YouTube, that most people disagreed with me. I was arguing that, whatever Carlson’s real motivations, I usually agree with what he’s saying over 90 percent of the time. Yes, I’m aware that his father was the head of Voice of America, and that he once tried to get into the CIA. That he scoffed at 9//1 “truthers” and other “conspiracy theorists.” Maybe his bow tie was too tight. Is he just playing the role of mainstream “skeptic?”

I’m not accustomed to being the least skeptical person in the room about anything. I was a born skeptic. A doubter of all official narratives. But if the alt media is just going to attribute all good reporting, and sensible commentary to a hidden agenda, then what is the point of even addressing any issue? Tucker Carlson, Alex Jones, Rand Paul, RFK, Jr., all compromised. And oddly, they draw the attention (and ire) of many of us trying to provide an alternative to our state controlled media, far more often than the Joy Reids, Sunny Hostins, and Joe Scarboroughs do. Tucker Carlson’s father ran the Voice of America. A pretty, young female intern was found dead in Scarborough’s congressional office in 2001. Isn’t that a bit more incriminating?

Then there is the guy Carlson was interviewing- Vladimir Putin. I don’t have to trust him to agree with his purported comments (and this is assuming they’re being translated accurately) about wanting peace with America. If he really did ban all GMO products, and put out an arrest warrant for any Rothschilds strolling into Russia, isn’t that something we’d all agree with? Maybe he has an agenda, too, but why do we focus so much more on him than say, Angela Merkel or David Cameron? Carlson was blasted from all sides for how he conducted the interview. What was he supposed to ask him? He put Putin on the record. At the very least, we got to see the Russian leader’s impressive knowledge of history. Compare that to our putrid politicians.

In my book Hidden History, I delved into the background of the 1960s counterculture movement. Timothy Leary, the LSD guru who urged the impressionable hippies not to trust anyone over thirty (when he was older than thirty himself), was later outed as working for the CIA. So was Gloria Steinem, the face of “women’s lib” in the sixties and seventies. Her magazine MS was financed by the CIA. Murdered Black Panther Fred Hampton had a bodyguard who was an undercover government operative. So did Malcolm X. The guy cradling Martin Luther King’s head in his hands on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel was an undercover CIA asset. I gave lots of other examples of how undercover plants worked inside the Black Panthers and the Ku Klux Klan.

More than a century ago, Lenin said that the best way to fight the opposition is to lead it. This has obviously been the case in America since at least the 1960s. I haven’t found any evidence, for instance, that the government infiltrated Huey Long’s Share our Wealth movement, or the America First Committee. But in my upcoming book The American Memory Hole, I’ll document the shocking extent to which American capitalism supported and financed the Bolshevik Revolution. There were plenty of spies during the War for Independence and the War Between the States. Things have never been exactly the way they seem.

But if we become too jaded, and don’t trust anyone or anything, then reform becomes impossible. Things can never get better, unless maybe lightning strikes you in a laboratory at midnight, and you develop invulnerable super powers. Then you could adjust the world to your liking. Assuming you have noble intentions, like Superman. Working together is often difficult. Distrust can permeate small businesses and youth sports leagues. People are suspicious of their spouses. They wonder about the motives of the heirs to whatever they have to leave to others. I’ve watched enough Investigation Discovery programs to know that the world is full of husbands, wives, and children who will murder their closest loved ones for a modest inheritance.

I have been told by several people that I can’t be sincere or legitimate, or else I wouldn’t be alive. Think about that; the only way for some people to believe you’re not co-opted is to become part of the Deep State Body Count. Once during an interview, someone in the comments noted that I was wearing a checked shirt, and there was a soccer ball paperweight in the background behind me. This, evidently, demonstrated that I was a high-ranking freemason. Miles Mathis, who has achieved some renown online for his “everything is fake” mantra, once wrote that both Dave McGowan (who was still alive at the time) and I were fake. He called us “ghosts.” Limited hangouts. Controlled opposition. When I emailed him and told him to check out my many video interviews, it didn’t phase him. By the way, he “doesn’t do interviews.”

If I wanted to be cynical, I could name countless high-profile figures in alternative media that I am suspicious about. My spidey sense goes off whenever some character, who has no more charisma or knowledge (and often less) than the rest of us doing anti-establishment podcasts and writing anti-establishment blogs do, attracts a million followers on YouTube. You know who they are. They aren’t entertaining, and provide nothing different than untold numbers of us do. But I don’t just condemn then all with a blanket generalization. Maybe some of them are more interesting than I give them credit for. I’ve never been noted for liking things that become popular. Chicken wings. Gourmet cupcakes. Michael Jackson. “Friends.” “Casablanca.” The mullet. The Rock. The list is endless. I know my tastes are usually different from the masses.

But in our world of often justified hyper paranoia, there should be room for redemption. Why, for instance, do Christians accept that a really bad man named Saul could be converted to St. Paul on the road to Damascus? Is it impossible to imagine that Tucker Carlson could really have been influenced by those he spoke to the past few years, and now honestly believes the government killed JFK, and that Building 7 is significant? Was it only Saul who could be redeemed? Pat Buchanan underwent a similar transformation in the early nineties, when he saw how our trade policies had devastated blue-collar workers in New Hampshire. But no one suspects that he was insincere, or compromised. Is it because Carlson has become much bigger? On the surface, they both seem to have identically transitioned from conservative to populist.

It’s odd that I distrust all institutions, all authority, and yet can still perhaps naively trust individuals. You’d think my affinity for the world’s foremost cynic, Ambrose Bierce, would prevent that. I’ve been burned many times because of this. Women I adored. Men I admired. I did stop lending money to people a very long time ago. That lesson was pretty clear. Like millions of others, I was suckered into voting for Trump in 2016. So I took a chance on the remote possibility that he was sincere to at least some degree. Would it have been better to have voted for Hillary Clinton, the Queen of Corruption? What difference does it make, if they’re not even counting the votes?

I’ve experienced this kind of widespread distrust in the JFK assassination research community. The fractionalization is worse than ever. The few who are trusted are the typical milquetoast, neocon types I have admonished for years. The same huge egos and difficult personalities we see in JFK research dominate other conspiratorial realms, like 9/11 truth. We see them everywhere in the alt media, lording their number of followers and subscribers over lesser mortals like the quarterback and the prom queen do in high school hierarchies. I’ve remarked before on how most of them are harder to communicate with than some genuine show business celebrities. For the record, my publicist was able to get ahold of Tucker Carlson’s producer.

JFK researchers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to discredit conspiracy friendly witnesses. They literally ignore the laughable witnesses whose fanciful and inconsistent testimony was used by the authorities to buttress the official nonsense. Recently, some of them have launched an assault on the late Fletcher Prouty, the individual Oliver Stone based his “Mr. X” character (played by Donald Sutherland) on in JFK. They resent Alex Jones or Tucker Carlson stating publicly that there was a conspiracy, because they despise them personally and hate their politics. They don’t have the same vitriol for the Stephen Colberts and Jimmy Kimmels, who scoff at all “conspiracy theories.” Well, except for “Russiagate.”

But in the alt media, as in society at large, Donald Trump is often the dividing line. Are you fer or agin his overblown personality? Because I belong to the smallest minority group in the world- the Trump Agnostics- I am inevitably caught in the crossfire. I came up with the Trumpenstein Project to explain both my perspective and what I believe was a genuine political psyop of epic proportions. But I still get called a “Trumpster” or a victim of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Trump exemplifies the problem with the alt media, because most of those who are “awake” to any appreciable degree, were or perhaps still are ardent Trump supporters.

Whenever I watch a video or read something I find compelling, I often try to contact the person who was in the video or doing the writing. These are people unknown to the public, and frequently unknown to most in the alt media. They never respond to me. I don’t see them being interviewed elsewhere, so maybe they’re like Miles Mathis, above doing interviews. At least with the likes of me. And, of course, I wonder why these people aren’t shadow banned like me. They’re being allowed to grow a big following. But I don’t reflexively jump to the conclusion that this means they’re all being sponsored by intelligence agencies. Hired to control the “conspiracy” discourse, as Obama’s aide Cass Sustein proposed.

I take people at face value, until proven otherwise. Roger Stone, for example, wrote the Foreword to my most successful book, Hidden History. I cringe at some of the things he says now. But he loved the book, and wrote a glowing Foreword. Whenever he’s mentioned me (which is very, very infrequently), he says complimentary things. Vivek Ramaswamy, suspected by many in the alt media of being the Republicans’ version of Barack Obama, was seen with my book Hidden History on the shelf behind him, while he interviewed Alex Jones. So he may be a disinfo agent, but I didn’t send him my book. What is he doing reading such subversive material? I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t like him just because of that.

Maybe Tucker Carlson is good friends with Don Lemon and Hunter Biden. But he certainly raked them over the coals on his Fox News show. Donald Trump was friends with the Clintons. As Terry Reed (another guy I’d love to interview- amazed he’s still alive- but can’t find contact info) revealed in his book Compromised, seemingly sworn enemies Bill Clinton and Oliver North worked for the same team in Arkansas, when all those drugs were being funneled through Mena Airport. George W. Bush seems to be as fond of Michelle Obama as he was of gay prostitute/fake reporter Jeff Gannon, who visited the White House hundreds of times, including overnight stays. An alleged Mossad operative produced JFK and other Oliver Stone films.

Perhaps no one is above board. Are we all hiding something? I’ve probably revealed too much of myself here on Substack. But I’m an open book. There aren’t any terrible skeletons in my closet. But I’ve had some relatives who worked for the CIA. I live in the same county where their Langley headquarters are. And the Agency’s library was one of the first to order my book Hidden History. So does that make me suspect? As I’ve said, the address of my childhood home was 3333. Hmm. Combined with the checked shirt, and soccer ball paperweight, we might have something there. One of my father’s hot cousins did marry Rutherford B. Hayes III. Maybe Miles Mathis will read this and conclude that I am a Jew, like seemingly everyone else.

I will form an alliance with anyone, if they profess to be working towards something good. I’ll be able to determine pretty quickly if they have a nefarious agenda. I was able to ferret out that conspiracy whereby young, half clothed women friend or follow old guys like me. I never even took them up on their offer to send me pictures. Rob Reiner, for example, is a typically “Woke” leftist. But he’s doing good work on the JFK assassination. If he ever lowered himself to my level, I’d be happy to work with him on that common cause. Julian Assange believes the 9/11 fairy tale. But that doesn’t detract from the great work Wikileaks did, or make him any less of a political prisoner. Rosie O’Donnell is even more “Woke” than Reiner, but she was publicly telling the truth about 9/11, and got essentially “cancelled” because of it.

There are tiers to the alternative media. You can choose to believe or not believe that I am in the legitimate tier, where honest voices struggle to get a larger platform. The one where shadow bans are common. I would be shocked if anyone I associate with regularly in the alt media wasn’t in the legitimate tier, too. Tucker Carlson would be in the top tier of this world, alongside Alex Jones and now Elon Musk. All suspect because of their backgrounds, or in Jones’s case due to his refusal to focus attention on the power that Zionism wields in this country, and stubborn support of Trumpenstein. Harrison Smith told me, however, that Jones never pressures him about what he can and can’t say, and indeed Smith is a very ardent anti-Zionist.

I believe that the information is what’s important, not the personality. I don't care where truth comes from; if it awakens people to the corruption, tyranny, and injustice all around us, then it’s a good thing. Let’s say hypothetically that someone I usually find to be odious, Bill Maher, held up one of my books on television and said, “This is a great book! Read it!” Would I reject that kind of endorsement, because I’ve found Maher to be so offensive so much of the time? Now, of course, Maher is about as likely to do that as Joe Biden is to come out tomorrow and declare that he’s being controlled by the Illuminati. Or that Hillary Clinton will be struck with a sudden pang of guilt and demand to be put in public stocks and pilloried.

Just as the JFK assassination research community will ultimately never threaten that particular official lie because of its continuous dysfunction, the conspiracy analysis media in general, the alt media, will never overtake the state controlled mainstream media because of all the infighting, distrust, and accusations. We have to be able to talk with the Tucker Carlsons and Elon Musks, along with the Flat Earthers and Holocaust skeptics. I can respect all views, unless they advocate murder or extreme violence. The common goal should be for us to make the sleeping Americans realize that there is a vast conspiracy afoot to deny us all our civil liberties, and cover up the multitude of official crimes committed by the conspirators.

Tucker Carlson responded to all the vitriol directed at him by stating, “I'm not defending Russia. I'm defending my own country. A weak central government in [Russia] with the world's largest nuclear stockpile is insane. You're a freaking nutcase. If you desire that, and we are run by nutcases, the president and that poisonous moron to Victoria Nuland.” Sounds reasonable to me. Just about every other mainstream journalist in America 2.0 despises free speech, hates anything virtuous or traditional, and is overtly anti-White. They cheer on political prosecutions and denial of true process. They shill for every discredited government narrative from JFK to the 2020 election. They demonize dissent. Carlson doesn’t do any of that. What is he being paid to promote? That the government killed JFK? That January 6 was a false flag?

I will continue to believe in some things. It certainly seems hopeless, but we have to live our lives as if there is hope. Frank Capra left his impact on me. I still think the Kennedys were heroic figures. We need heroes. Crusaders for liberty and justice. If a politician speaks up for peace, even if they may be betrothed to Israel like all the others, I support them. How could I not? I always support peace. If we micro analyze potential motives, we will probably always find something to question. If you stay committed to the truth, then eventually the disinfo agents will sort themselves out. No one is perfect. I’ve yet to find anyone that I agree with about everything. Well, maybe Huey Long. Just because QAnon was an obvious psyop, that doesn’t mean that there couldn’t someday possibly be some real white hats.

To say that the alt media eats its own is a massive understatement. Too many seem almost to instantly reject anyone who agrees with them. Kind of like Groucho Marx refusing to join any group that would have him for a member. I’m flattered when someone agrees with me, so I simply don’t get this line of thinking. If what they’re saying sounds too good to be true, it probably is, to paraphrase the old chestnut. As I’ve said, I have my own suspicions about many big names in the alt media, but I’d be happy to appear on any of their shows. I’d be courteous and respectful, and I wouldn’t alter my comments. My views are going to be the same, whether I’m ranting on “I Protest,” or being interviewed by Rachel Maddow. Again, it’s the information, stupid.

If accepting people at face value (until proven otherwise) loses me supporters, so be it. I obviously know the names of the high profile swamp creatures, and accept their lifetimes of crime and corruption at face value. If Barack Obama suddenly started singing the praises of Huey Long, I would recognize a psyop. And would understand instantly that there was an obvious nefarious agenda behind it. Tucker Carlson hasn’t demonstrated that he’s a swamp creature, with a record of crimes and perhaps a Body Count behind him. I focus on the obvious villains, both in politics and the kept press. But like JFK noted in his timeless American University “peace” speech, I recognize that people with views I abhor can still love their children.

Mark Lane was my mentor. I patterned my own civil libertarianism after his. He was a Jew. And he later became not only the counsel for the “anti-Semitic” Liberty Lobby, but best friends with the man who headed it, Willis Carto. So does that mean Lane wasn’t a real Jew? Or that Carto wasn’t a legitimate historical revisionist and critic of Israel? Because they were such strange bedfellows, were they both government operatives? I’ve heard from many who suspect Lane was working for the government. Wasn’t he Jim Jones’ attorney? How did he escape the Kool-Aid? Most people are impressed that I was with his Citizens Committee of Inquiry as a teenager, but some snort that I must be a government agent, too.

Ultimately, it all comes down to good versus evil. God versus Satan. I don’t know how many of those supporting a Satanic agenda are actually Satanists. But some are. They flash those unnatural hand signals like someone is ordering them to. But some Satanists probably don’t walk the walk any more than many Christians. That’s why I keep talking about Frank Capra’s film Meet John Doe. People realizing their neighbor is a pretty good person. People coming together for the most basic common purpose; to be good neighbors and try to follow the Golden Rule. I still think national John Doe Clubs could work. But I still have a lot of naive idealism alongside the populism.

It’s good to be skeptical. No one is more skeptical than I am. But we shouldn’t turn away a potential comrade (not to sound like a commie), exclusively because of his background, or what he once said or did. Or because he doesn’t focus on Israel. Or because he doesn’t talk about all the conspiracies we do. Just as in the general business world, or on ridiculous “reality” shows like Big Brother, we can form alliances that are favorable in some sense. To push truths like Oswald being a patsy, or 9/11 being an inside job, or COVID being a giant psyop. To support free speech. The way they do in Congress when they want to push through some awful legislation. I don’t normally quote Rodney King, but can’t we all just get along, people?

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Tyler Durden Tue, 02/13/2024 - 23:40
Published:2/13/2024 11:41:58 PM
[Markets] The Coming 2024 Leftist Election Grift The Coming 2024 Leftist Election Grift

Authored by Daniel Street via American Greatness,

The 2024 U.S. presidential election will likely pit former President Donald J. Trump against current President Joseph Biden in an epic rematch of the 2020 election.  As most Americans know, in 2020, the Democrats and their allies on the far left reached deep into their bag of dirty tricks to put Biden in the White House.  They will undoubtedly pull out all of the stops yet again in 2024.  This time, however, far more people are watching and are aware of the grifts being run in our elections by the left. 

With so many election integrity groups and concerned citizens watching this time around, what will the Democrats do to tilt the results in their favor? 

They have quite a few arrows in their quiver, but virtually every trick relies on one thing: dirty voter rolls.

Voter rolls filled with unqualified voters—for instance, voters without a valid address or with an insufficient or incorrect address—are ready-made for fraud.  A mailed ballot may go out to that person, but if the address is wrong or incorrect, the ballot will not reach the voter.  These “floating ballots” are often gathered and cast as votes illegitimately.  These practices, along with many others, are widely practiced around the country.

Election integrity groups all over America are fighting to clean voter rolls, state-by-state and town-by-town.  Progress has been made.  For instance, election integrity groups worked hard to clean up Wisconsin’s voter rolls after the 2020 election.  Using fractal technology to tie voter rolls to addresses in state property tax databases, phantom voters are being removed from voter rolls throughout the country, making mail in ballot shenanigans more difficult.  In Michigan, an election integrity group puts qualified voter file data at your fingertips, allowing ineligible voter registrations to be readily identified.  These are just a smattering of the efforts going on across the country to clean up voter rolls, but hopefully the point is made: A lot of people are doing good work to try to clean up the voter rolls all over the country.

What is the problem, then?  How will the Democrats and far-left non-governmental organizations (NGOs) tip the scales back in their favor? 

Part of the answer is the National Voter Registration Act(NVRA). This Act is commonly known as the Motor Voter Law, because it mandates states to allow people to register to vote when obtaining a driver’s license.  While this law actually requires states to remove the names of ineligible voters and to maintain “accurate” lists of registered voters and is used by election integrity groups to challenge inaccurate voter rolls, other provisions are problematic.

The NVRA provision presenting the problem in this context is  52 U.S.C. §20507(c)(2)(A)

This provision creates what is known as the “quiet period” in the 90 days leading up to a federal election and prohibits states from “systematically” removing “names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters” during that 90-day window.  As the court observed in Arcia v. Fla. Sec’y of State, 772 F. 3d 1335 (11th Cir. 2014), the NRVA allows three forms of removals in the 90 days before an election: (1) removals at the request of the registrant; (2) removals for criminal conviction or mental incapacity; and (3) removals upon the death of the registrant.  In that case, the court prohibited the Florida secretary of state from systematically removing illegally registered people who were not American citizens in the 90-day “quiet period.”

How will the left seek to take advantage of this 90-day “quiet period” where voters may not be systematically removed from the rolls? 

What happened in Muskegon County, Michigan, in 2020 is illustrative. In October 2020, thousands of voter registration applications were filed in Muskegon County, Michigan.  The city clerk was immediately suspicious, as many of the applications were in the same handwriting and contained incomplete or invalid addresses.  The city clerk reported the matter to local police.  An investigation confirmed many of the registrations were fraudulent and that the company gathering and submitting the registrations worked with Democratic political organizations, including working with the Biden campaign in multiple States in 2020.

The police interview with the contractor’s “compliance officer” was obtained by an independent researcher and released in November 2023.  In it, the employee outlines the problems with “false registrations” that were happening “everywhere,” not just in Muskegon.  Listen to this person’s interview for more on the type of organization this is and how it operates.

Under a provision of the Federal Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. §10307(c), a person who knowingly or willfully gives false information as to his “name, address, or period of residence” to register to vote or “who conspires with another individual” for the purpose of encouraging false registration may be imprisoned for 5 years.  Despite this, no one was prosecuted for the thousands of false voter registrations submitted in Muskegon, Michigan.  In fact, instead of expanding the investigation to other jurisdictions in Michigan as well as into other states, the investigation was shut down, according to news reports.  That does not inspire much confidence in the people in charge of maintaining the integrity of our elections, does it?

In the 90-day “quiet period” established by the NVRA, local election officials are effectively the only screening system in place to block unlawful voter registrations.  While challenging an individual registration remains possible in the 90-day “quiet period,” challenging thousands of registrations submitted on a particular day or series of days will undoubtedly be a prohibited “systematic” challenge.  Do you think these officials in many of the Democrat bastions in big cities would refuse to accept these bogus registrations?  Do you think what happened in Muskegon, Michigan, was an aberration? In jurisdiction after jurisdiction and city after city, piles of fraudulent registration applications will probably be readily accepted.  After all, why not?

The bottom line is that the entire Democrat and far-left get-out-the-vote apparatus will be in overdrive in the 90 days before the 2024 presidential election, submitting as many voter registrations as possible (valid or not) in order to harvest as many ballots as conceivably possible. 

This will be one of the primary battlegrounds that will determine the outcome of the 2024 election.  Is the RNC ready for it? 

If “what’s past is prologue,” the answer is probably not. Election integrity groups are doing what they can, but they will need your help. 

If Americans hope to maintain legitimate elections, 2024 is the time for “all hands on deck.”

*  *  *

Daniel R. Street is an attorney with over 25 years of litigation experience.  He is the author of the Fake News Exposed about Trump book series.  Links to his books, substack, social media and more may be found at his website danielrstreet.com.

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/11/2024 - 23:20
Published:2/11/2024 11:08:47 PM
[Markets] The Geopolitics Of World War III The Geopolitics Of World War III

Authored by Michael Hochberg & Leonard Hochberg via RealClearWire.com,

Introduction

On January 2, 2024, Foreign Minister Israel Katz proclaimed “We’re in the middle of World War III against Iran [led] radical Islam, whose tentacles are already in Europe.”   He claimed that Israel, in engaging in a war against Hamas and other Iranian proxies, was defending “everyone.” Although his rhetoric may seem overblown to many in the United States and Europe, it should not be dismissed out of hand.  Sometimes, regional conflicts, such as the Japanese conquest of Manchuria of 1931-32 or the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, foreshadow dangers that are more geographically extensive and militarily intense.  Do the barbaric events of October 7, 2023, and the Israeli military campaign in Gaza prefigure a broader, global armed conflict?  Or is this merely a local conflict, one that is likely unresolvable short of one side or the other engaging in genocide or ethnic cleansing? 

We have written this paper in a specific context. Over thirty months ago we made a geopolitical prediction regarding the emergence of a global conflict with four fronts.  However, social scientists rarely test their theories by predicting future political events.  Who wants to be characterized as a Jonah or a Cassandra?  As one eminent strategist argued, the future of war (in detail) is unknowable.  And, with perhaps one notable exception, social scientists rarely engage, on a routine basis, in disprovable prediction.  Without predictive tools, social scientists and strategists must rely on intuition, a knowledge of history, and good theories—all of which are often in short supply.

A Four-Front Global War?

On the anniversary of D-day, June 6, 2021, The Hill posted our paper, “Could the United States Fight a Four Front War? Not Today.”  We predicted that several autocratic powers would launch “simultaneous challenges” designed to diminish the power and influence of the United States.  These seemingly distinct conflicts, when viewed from the perspective of Halford Mackinder’s Heartland thesis, should be perceived as separate fronts of a single war by autocratic, territorial powers – either in close cooperation or piggybacking on one or another’s challenge to the established order – on the dominance of the United States and its maritime partners and allies situated along the Eurasian littoral.  We argued that the United States should rebuild its naval capacity, and by implication its military industrial capacity more generally.  Specifically, we wrote: “If we are to avoid a multi-front war, the United States must be ready to fight and win conventional conflicts in several places simultaneously and must invest in strengthening our allies’ ability to defend themselves.”

Written on the eve of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, August 31, 2021, our paper suggested that Vladimir Putin’s Russia might once again attack Ukraine to complete the conquest it had initiated in 2014 and thereby dominate the northern littoral of the Black Sea from Crimea to Moldova. To wit:

Russia continues to threaten Ukraine, aiming to consolidate its conquest of Crimea. When Ukraine surrendered its nuclear arms, the U.S. guaranteed Ukrainian territorial integrity in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Russia has eloquently demonstrated the low value of such guarantees.

Regarding Iran, we argued that:

Rogue autocratic regimes are a growing threat. Iran sponsors Houthi rebels in Yemen, stokes Shi’ite discontent in the Gulf States and Iraq, dominates Lebanon and Syria through Hezbollah, and threatens shipping through the Gulf of Hormuz. Iran, through its many proxies throughout the Middle East, would seek to dominate the region and instigate further attacks by Hamas on Israel. 

Communist China, a new peer adversary for the United States, would be tempted to pile on, seeking to reunify Taiwan with the Mainland as a preliminary to securing control over the South China and East China Seas:

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has declared that Taiwan will be incorporated into China, by force if necessary. China is building a capacity to invade or blockade Taiwan, threatening U.S. reliance on Taiwan for advanced electronics, semiconductors, and as a port to contain Chinese ambitions in the Pacific.

Our intuition suggested that the current administration was squandering a key strategic asset, specifically the deterrence required to cause leaders of autocracies across Eurasia to refrain from testing the resolve of the United States.  More recently, we introduced the concept of ‘distributed deterrence’ as a strategy that the United States could leverage to generate more effective deterrence both quickly and inexpensively.

We offered these predictions in the hope that Western policy makers would strengthen the defenses of our allies in Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and that as a result, deterrence would win the day.  In effect, we were hoping to be proven wrong, as policy makers considered the dangers of a multi-front war in their planning.  Unfortunately, events have begun to unfold as we predicted, because the United States did not act in a timely way to adequately reinforce, train, and support our allies.

Taking Stock

After 30 months, we believe it is now necessary to take stock of our prediction.  To do so is not merely to provide a checklist of what we got right or wrong, but more significantly to offer an assessment of how our understanding of the strategic history of Eurasian autocracies led to these predictions.

The Ukraine Front

The 2014 Russian attack on Ukraine resulted in the conquest of Donbas – a territory along the eastern Ukrainian border with Russia – and the Crimea.  These areas were inhabited largely by ethnic Russians and Russian speakers, though some of them certainly had no desire to be ruled from Moscow.  Putin justified this attack as a response to Ukraine’s assault on a population that wished to remain Russian, in a cultural, linguistic, and ethnic sense.  The Russian failure to capture a land bridge to Crimea from its conquests in Donbas strongly suggested that another campaign would have to be launched to consolidate territory, provide another supply route to Crimea, and forestall a Ukrainian bid to enter the EU and NATO (hereherehere, and here). 

After Russia renewed its war in Ukraine on February 22, 2022, many Western pundits began to speculate on how this second phase would end.  The Russian drive on Kiev, designed to conquer the Ukraine capital, stalled, and then was turned back.  Ukraine forces launched successful counter attacks in the east and south, reconquering some lost territory and fueling a sense that a Ukrainian victory might soon be possible.  Meanwhile, as the United States became more committed to the Ukraine cause, few commentators offered an assessment of what the United States should seek as an outcome in line with its own interests, and what means should be deployed in order to generate such an outcome.  We indicated that there were essentially three geostrategic outcomes (herehere, and here) that should be considered: Sell out Ukraine to turn Russia from an ally of China into a client of the United States, secure a rapid Ukraine victory that would reinforce the international rules based order, or allow a stalemate to emerge that would grind down the Russian military machine.  After explaining the pros and cons for each, we argued that the most desirable outcome, from an American strategic perspective, was a rapid Ukrainian victory that would result in Ukraine retaking both the Russian naval base in Sevastopol and the Crimean bridgehead.  Regardless of the feasibility of reconquering Crimea, the destruction of the Russian Black Sea fleet is highly desirable.

To achieve this goal, the United States had to quickly supply Ukraine with advanced conventional military equipment, including long range missiles that would enable Ukraine’s forces to attack not only the logistics centers deep in Russian territory but also the Russian Navy.  Instead, the Biden administration has released ever more advanced equipment, haltingly and in dribs and drabs, which did not permit the Ukrainian troops to expel Russian forces from Donbas.  What weapons were provided were in many cases deliberately crippled so that they could not be used against Russian territory.  Extensive public discussions have preceded the delivery of advanced weapons systems, which has made it impossible for the Ukrainians to achieve surprise.   Instead of a rapid Ukrainian advance, the current position is one of stalemate, with trial balloons being released for diplomacy (herehere, and here) to restore (a faux) peace to Ukraine.  Initiating talks with Putin at this moment, when he has mobilized more manpower and is negotiating the purchase of weapons from Iran and China, signals Western weakness while emboldening enemies of the United States and disheartening Western allies across Eurasia.  With a significantly larger economy and population base than Ukraine, and with the ability to operate from a geographic shelter where they cannot be attacked, Russia has marked advantages in a long-war scenario.  If Russian propaganda and Western impatience can undermine Western popular support for Ukraine, even maintaining the current stalemate may become impracticable for the Ukrainians.  A steady and assured flow of Western support, including the provision of advanced systems is a necessity for the continued viability of the Ukrainian war effort. 

Hamas-Israel Front

Israel, the United States’ foremost ally in the Middle East, has once again come under attack by Hamas.  In a recent post, we argue that Hamas attacked Israel on the behalf of Iran to derail the Abraham Accords between Israel and the Arabic Muslim countries including, most notably, an upcoming negotiation with Saudi Arabia.  Such was the short-term occasion for the attack; over the medium run, Iran had engaged in a geostrategy of proxy encirclement, at two different scales: the local encirclement of Israel and a wider regional encirclement of Saudi Arabia.

Across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia faces adversaries: Iran and its clients and proxies across the Fertile Crescent – that is the lands from Iraq, through Syria, and on to the eastern Mediterranean coast in Lebanon – and in Yemen, to the south of Saudi Arabia, where the Houthis have launched rockets attacking Saudi pipelines.  Furthermore, Iran has become deeply involved in the civil war in Sudan and has cooperated extensively with Qatar.  Both are major supporters of Hamas, and Iran backed Qatar during the crisis in Qatari relations with Saudi Arabia in 2017.   In addition to this geographically extensive encirclement of Saudi Arabia, there is ongoing effort to encircle Israel: To the North, Iranian proxies in Lebanon (i.e., Hezbollah) and, across the Golan Heights, the client state of Alawite Syria; to the east, the Palestinians in the territories of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority; in Israel, the Arab Israelis as a potential fifth column; and, to the west, in Gaza, the terror group, Hamas.  An Israeli tie to Saudi Arabia would have provided Israel with legitimacy in the Arab Muslim world and, should the Iranians launch an attack on Saudi Arabia or Israel, shared intelligence, technology, and expertise could have contributed to mutual defense.  For the foreseeable future, while the war in Gaza continues, negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to yield any public results.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet recognized in the aftermath of the slaughter of October 7, 2023 that Hamas and Gazan civilians were inspired by a culture of hatred to commit acts of barbarism (herehere, and here) – rape, beheadings, mutilation, kidnappings, etc. – previously deployed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. To respond to this attack along the Gaza frontier, and to cope with the threats emerging on the northern border, on the Golan, and in the West Bank, Israel called up 300,000 reservists.  As of October 8, 2023, Israel’s standing army numbered 169,500, with the reserves numbering 465,000.  This call-up has deleterious economic consequences:  According to the Times of India, “JPMorgan Chase & Co. predicts that Israel's economy may shrink 11% on an annualized basis in the last three months of the year due to the ongoing conflict with Hamas.”  The longer this war goes on, the greater the economic disruption.  The longer the desired political and military outcome, eliminating Hamas in Gaza, remains in doubt, the greater the likelihood that Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies will enter the fray in a significant fashion.  For Israel, deterrence, once lost in Gaza, must be forcefully and unambiguously restored, or its many regional enemies, including the Palestinians on the West Bank and potentially Muslims in Israel itself, may be inspired to launch intifadas, insurrections, and attacks.  For Israel, the attack on 10/7 and its aftermath presented an existential threat, because it altered regional perceptions of the competence of the IDF (contra here).

The Attack on International Shipping

In our prediction, we suggested that the Iranian regime would once again disrupt maritime commerce by attacking international shipping that passed through the Strait of Hormuz.  On January 11, 2024, Iran announced the seizure of a Greek-owned oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, the waterway leading to the Strait of Hormuz.  It is too soon to tell if this event is a one-off or the opening of a campaign. 

However, we did not perceive that the Iranians would prompt the Houthis to disrupt maritime commerce in the Bab al-Mandab, the strait connecting the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.  The Iranians have allegedly supplied the Houthis with advanced weaponry – missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles – for attacking Saudi pipelines and international shipping.  Although the Houthis’ claim to be attacking Israeli shipping in response to the Gaza war, the fact that most of the ships that have been attacked are owned by non-Israeli nationals and are not traveling to or from Israel suggests that these attacks are part of an ongoing Iranian effort to disrupt flows of commerce passing through the Middle East.  Such attacks are particularly harmful to the Egyptian regime, which derives an outsized portion of their revenues from canal fees and associated activity.  Identifying the geographic particular, the disruption at the Bab al-Mandab instead of at the Strait of Hormuz, proved elusive; however, we anticipated the Iranian intention. 

Why did the Iranians turn to the Houthi proxy?  The Iranians may have become more risk averse, acting indirectly through the Houthis; attacks through proxies are less likely to generate repercussions or counterattacks at home, as they are deniable.  Meanwhile Iranian proxies are also engaged in repeatedly attacking U.S. outposts and military bases in Iraq and Syria, and most egregiously the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.  Iran has also issued a threat to attack shipping passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, presumably by mobilizing another proxy in Morocco.  Such geostrategic darts, for want of a better word, thrown at the United States and maritime commerce have demonstrated Iranian opposition to the Israeli war in Gaza and an intent to compromise the passage of shipping over the high seas.  It is unclear whether Iran’s leaders seek to drive the United States out of the Middle East, or whether they intend to draw the United States into a series of local counterinsurgencies against Iranian proxies, which would give Iran immense negotiating leverage.

As of the writing of this essay, these attacks at the Bab al-Mandab have led the United States and the United Kingdom to attack the Houthis, but the maritime coalition has not, as yet, used military force against Iranian interests or facilities to reestablish deterrence with regard to the sponsors of these proxy attacks.  Certainly, these attacks serve to increase open-market prices for oil and gas; this helps Russian economic prospects.  Also, China is likely paying fixed prices for sanctioned Iranian oil coming through the Straits of Hormuz; this likely helps explain why the Red Sea is being closed (to all but Chinese and Russian aligned shipping) but Hormuz has thus far remained open.

What is of utmost importance here is this: the earlier a prediction, the more difficult it is to specify the date and location of any adversarial event, particularly a military attack.  The fact that the Iranians have instigated attacks by Houthis at the Bab al Mandab instead of launching a campaign at Hormuz is less important than having correctly predicted Iran’s intentions amid a multi-front war.  We advanced the claim that the Iranians would once again disrupt international shipping, which they have done through a proxy.  Attacks at any major maritime choke point have consequences for supply chains across the world economy.    

China and the Taiwan Front

The jury is still out regarding a final geopolitical prediction:  Will Communist China resort to armed force to integrate Taiwan?  Recently, the Chinese regime has sent war ships into the seas near Taiwan to demonstrate a capacity to blockade that island.  In addition, Chinese fighter jets have tested Taiwanese aerial defenses, prompting Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng to state, in October of 2022, that “[We] will view any crossing of aerial entities (into Taiwan’s territorial airspace) as a first strike.”  Kuo-cheng subsequently threatened to respond with force. 

CNN recently reported that President Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden, during their summit held near San Francisco on November 15, 2023, that “China’s preference was for peaceful reunification and laid out conditions under which use of force would be utilized.”  CNN failed to report on those conditions or may not have been privy to the specifics; nevertheless, CNN also reported that an unnamed U.S. official indicated that, when Biden suggested that “peace and stability” were U.S. goals for the region, “President Xi responded: Look, peace is all well and good, but at some point we need to move towards resolution more generally[.]” In the run up to the recent election in Taiwan, Beijing urged voters to choose “peace over war.”  The candidate who Beijing perceived as advocating for Taiwanese independence won, and now Xi may believe that China has to make good on the many threats (herehereherehere, and here) issued regarding the Taiwan issue.

Such threats should not be ignored; rather, they must be understood as occurring during an ongoing confrontation with the United States, one that could erupt into another front in a global war should the United States continue dealing ineffectively with the seemingly separate conflicts in Ukraine, the Levant, and at the Bab al-Mandab.  As our prediction indicated, the greater the number of fronts in this emerging global conflict, the more difficult it will be for the United States to prioritize where to send depleted treasure – due in part to the rising national debt – and scarce weaponry – due in part to the failure to maintain an adequate industrial base to produce military hardware. 

Four Fronts, One War

At this point, the Russo-Ukraine war, Hamas’ attack on Israel and the Israeli response, the Houthis’ war against international shipping, and the 100 or more Iranian proxy attacks on American outposts in the Middle East would all suggest that a multifront war has been launched.   Was this multi-front war coordinated, sequenced, or merely the result of opportunism? 

Historians may one day be able to make a definitive determination.  For purposes of figuring out what to do next, this is a distinction without a difference: The perception among the enemies of the West is that the present moment is one in which they have an opportunity to exploit Western distraction and weakness.  What is known now is this: Russia, Iran and China have signed a series of bilateral economic agreements rendering their economies, including weapons acquisitions, more interdependent (herehereherehere and here).  Such economic understandings often undergird emerging alliances. 

For further evidence that the prediction of four fronts is in fact one war, consider the following mutually reinforcing consequences.  The shipments of Ukrainian exports through the Suez Canal have fallen off since the Houthis compromised transport that passes through the Bab al Mandab.  Ukraine’s financial ability to prosecute its war against Russia is thus being impaired.  Russian and Chinese freighters have reportedly been given a free pass through the Red Sea by the Houthis (here), a preferential policy conferring a time and distance advantage over competitors who, to avoid the war zone, transport their cargoes round the Cape of Good Hope to European markets.  Meanwhile, Russian Defense Ministry has reportedly announced a soon-to-be-signed, anti-American, and pro-multipolar pact with Iran.  Meanwhile, the delivery of U.S. military hardware to Ukraine and Israel reduces available equipment for Taiwan.

Will Xi Jinping take advantage of America’s lack of preparedness for a multifront war across the Eurasian rimland?  For our prediction of a four-front war to be fully realized, Communist China would have to blockade or attack Taiwan even as these other conflicts take place, or in their immediate aftermath – once it becomes apparent that the United States lacks the will and/or the capability to respond effectively to yet another threat to the existing order.  At some point, these separate fronts may be perceived as a single world-wide war, though not, as the Israeli Foreign Minister claimed, a world war between the West and radical Islam.  Instead, this world-wide four-front war should be perceived as Eurasian land-power autocracies attacking maritime democracies and their allies, led by the United States. 

Geopolitical Theory of the Heartland

Beyond an intuition born of having read strategic history, what theory informs our understanding of strategic history and the relevant geography?  We rely on geopolitical theory, most notably Halford Mackinder’s theory of the Heartland, to assess the trajectory of events across Eurasia.  Despite differences across Mackinder’s three geopolitical statements (19041919, and 1943), the essential feature of his geopolitical theory is this: With the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the economic isolation imposed on interior Eurasian settlements by virtue of the cost of overland transportation had come to an end.  Until that moment, a vast stretch of territory reaching from the Arctic in the north to the Iranian plateau in the south, from the Lena, Indigirka, and Kolyma River basins in the east and beyond Moscow to the west, was characterized by a shared geographic feature: the rivers in this area flowed north to the frozen Arctic Ocean or south to land-locked seas such as the Caspian Sea.  As a result of this landlocked situation, naval power, exercised by Great Britain or other seafaring nations, had little if any military impact on the course of events in the region Mackinder labeled ‘the Heartland.’  But with the completion of the Railway, Tsarist Russia – and later the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – alone or in an alliance with European or Asian powers, might profoundly influence the course of global events due to access to new sources of minerals, the presence of virgin soil, and demographic expansion.  Ultimately, interior lines of transport and communication for the movement of armies overland across the expanse of the Heartland would enable whichever power occupied the Heartland to project power westward to the European Coastlands, southwestward to Arabia, and south and eastward into the Monsoon Coastland – three of the six natural regions of Eurasia (here and here).

Even more critical was Mackinder’s recognition that World War I led to a potential reshaping of the Heartland as one of these natural regions.  Mackinder posited that the region he labeled the “Strategic Heartland” included contested seas and river basins, as well as land routes suitable for invasion.  Hence, the Strategic Heartland encompassed the natural Heartland, and in Europe, it extended to the Danube Basin, the Black Sea littoral, the eastern stretches of the Northern European Plain, and the Baltic Sea littoral.  For Mackinder, the maritime outposts of naval power, the Black and Baltic Seas, might be turned into “lakes,” should the power occupying the Heartland capture a sea’s littoral through the successful domination by land power. 

Learning From Geopolitical Theory

We learned three lessons from Mackinder’s geopolitical theory.  First, Mackinder’s argument pertaining to the Baltic and Black Seas revealed that threatening or capturing the maritime chokepoints near the Bosporus and Dardanelles or the Kattegat and Skagerrak – the straits north of Denmark connecting the Baltic to the North Sea – was essential to controlling these seas.  By way of a geographic analogy, Mackinder’s theory enables the observer of geopolitics to appreciate how control over the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab compromises freedom of the seas in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea approach to the Suez Canal and may eventually lead to control over the relevant coastlines.  However, modern missile technology requires only proximity to a strategic strait or narrow body of water for sea denial to be effective against commercial shipping (here).

Second, Mackinder’s 1920 Report on the situation in South Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution revealed the strategic importance of Ukraine’s territory.  A major invasion into the Russian cultural and demographic core around Moscow was launched north from Ukraine by the White Russian forces.  In addition, one glance at a “strategic map” of Europe, viewed from high above the Urals, reveals not only the importance of the Northern European plain as an invasion route into Russia but also the southern invasion route from the Crimea.  Before the recent outbreak of war, the United States allegedly began modernizing a Ukrainian naval base located east of Odessa  to accommodate larger warships.  Russian geostrategic planners must consider threats from both directions, particularly if the Baltics and Ukraine are aligned with what they consider to be an adversary.  For restoring the Russian empire and reestablishing Russian status as a great power, the conquest and incorporation of Ukraine is perceived as critical.  Russia seeks to dominate Ukraine for its manpower, its on-shore mineral and off-shore hydrocarbon deposits, its industrial base, its agricultural productivity, and its strategic location.  In geo-economic terms, the ongoing division of the world-economy into a sphere of maritime and the land-based Eurasian territorial powers puts Ukraine in the cross hairs.

Third, America, as the recent holder of the baton of thalassocracy, failed to forestall the formation of a proto alliance of the Heartland Power, Russia, with two powers that straddle the Heartland and the maritime rim, Iran, and China.  In Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919), Mackinder warned of the danger of the Heartland Power gaining control over the Baltic and Black seas and then, at some future date, securing power over Eurasia and Africa:

What if the Great Continent, the whole World-Island [i.e., Eurasia and Africa] or a large part of it, were at some future time to become a single and united base of sea-power?  Would not the other insular bases be outbuilt as regards ships and outmanned as regards seamen?  Their fleets would no doubt fight with all the heroism begotten of their histories, but the end would be fated.

Mackinder feared that the Heartland Power, alone or in alliance with powers controlling portions of the maritime rim of Eurasia, might go to sea, and become an amphibious power. 

Currently, in Ukraine, Russia seeks to reassert control over the northern Black Sea littoral, from Crimea to Moldova, thereby gaining control over the offshore hydrocarbons (here).  China and Iran, with their long coastlines, have decided to become amphibious powers while developing and deploying drones and land-based anti-ship missiles for sea control and denial.  Iran makes modern weapons systems for their Houthi proxies.  China threatens to reintegrate Taiwan, by force, if necessary, perhaps by blockade, even as it asserts exclusive control over the passage of shipping and offshore hydrocarbon deposits in the South China Sea.

NOW WHAT?

What of the near future?  Will there be any further challenges to the United States?  Venezuela placed a referendum in front of its citizenry questioning whether contested territory currently held by Guyana should be reincorporated into Venezuelan territory.  The response was in favor of reincorporation, with Venezuela reportedly mobilizing contingents of its military.  Guyana and Brazil have responded.  A nuclear armed North Korea continues to issue threats in response to alleged American and South Korean provocations.  The Russian regime has imperial ambitions beyond Ukraine.  Should Putin or his successor believe that the conquest of the Baltic States is achievable, it will certainly be attempted.  And there is a final point grounded in a comparative geopolitical speculation: In addition to compromising passage through Bab al-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz, and the threat to shipping via the Strait of Gibraltar, Iran or another power may mobilize a proxy near another maritime choke point – the Strait of Malacca.  Certainly, the autocracies of the world are engaged in gray-zone warfare aimed at undermining Western support for Israel and Ukraine and aimed at mobilizing political extremists of all stripes.  With the very large number of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, any instability in the Middle East can easily produce crippling riots and insurgent or terrorist activity, especially with financial and logistical support from Iran and other regional powers.  Western leaders are beginning to recognize that weakness in dealing with the threats that are already on the table will prompt new challenges in new locations (here and here).

Despite these ominous developments, the United States and its allies have generated one significant success and several potential successes in their attempt to thwart the designs of these autocratic Heartland regimes.  In response to the war in Ukraine, Finland has joined NATO and Sweden’s accession has recently been approved by a parliamentary committee in Turkey (though not yet by the Turkish state).  The anticipated consequence is to turn the Baltic Sea, but for the Russian naval base at Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg, into a NATO dominated lake.  In addition, should Ukraine manage to reverse Russian territorial conquests, secure its independence from Russia, and then join NATO and the EU, these events would represent an extension of European power.  Meanwhile, Ukraine has had great success in driving the Russian Black Sea Fleet out of Crimea and into home ports further from Ukrainian missile launching sites; we have argued that before the war is over, the Ukrainians should be furnished with the means to sink the remainder of the fleet and destroy the shipyards.  Ukrainian successes in attacking the Black Sea fleet have led the Russians to consider building a naval base in Ochamchire, Georgia.   In the Middle East and Arabia, the United States almost succeeded in fostering an extension of the Abraham Accords to include Saudi Arabia.  Finally, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) is a potential maritime alliance of India, Australia, Japan, and the United States that may, in the coming years, act to secure the free passage of shipping in the South China Sea and defend Taiwan.  In short, across the maritime rim of Eurasia, the United States is slowly mobilizing partners and allies that are threatened by the revisionist and revanchist regimes of the Heartland.

Conclusion: Strategy and the Geopolitical Advantage

Our horrifying prediction, which may yet be fully realized, of a four-front war was made by attending to geopolitical theory, strategic history, and an intuition for how events might unfold.  Regardless of whether China undertakes kinetic action against Taiwan, the United States and our allies now need to rush preparations for such a war at the highest possible priority.  As we pointed out in the earlier article, being ready to fight a global, multi-front war is the only way to avert one.

Geopolitics provides the observer of international relations with several advantages.  First, it is an interdisciplinary and integrative field of study that aims to capture aspects of reality that impinge on the evolution of international crises.  Second, it juxtaposes persistent geographic structures, such as landed and maritime locations and activities, with trends and events, placing the ephemeral in the context of the enduring (here).  Third, geography and geopolitics deploy particularizing and generalizing methods to understand the relationships of places to spaces, locations to regions, and nation-states to the international system.  Fourth, geopolitics uses maps, including those generated by geographic information systems, to develop an appreciation of how states transform terrain into more favorable environments for the projection of power amid adversarial relationships, both potential and realized. 

Geopolitics is as old an approach to international conflict as Thucydides, Sun Tse, and Kautilya.   It may be that geopolitical analysis, if properly deployed, gives insight reminiscent of Galadriel’s Mirror, “For it shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be.”

However, despite the advantages offered by geopolitical thought for the development of strategy, Mackinder is explicit (here): “Democracy refuses to think strategically unless and until compelled to do so for purposes of defense.” After at least a generation, now is the moment for Americans to once again use geopolitics to formulate strategy.

*  *  *

Acknowledgements:  The authors thank the speakers and participants in the Mackinder Forum seminars and lectures for sharing their insights.  Professors Brian Blouet, Athanasios Platias, Geoffrey Sloan, and Paul Rahe commented on an earlier draft of this paper.  We are grateful for their thoughtful suggestions.  Errors and misinterpretations remain ours.

Michael Hochberg earned his PhD in Applied Physics from Caltech and is currently a visiting scholar at the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University.  He is the President of Periplous LLC, which provides advisory services on strategy, technology, and organization design.  He co-founded four companies, representing an exit value over a billion dollars in aggregate, spent some time as a tenured professor, and started the world’s first silicon photonics foundry service.  He co-authored a widely used textbook on silicon photonics and has published work in ScienceNatureNational ReviewThe HillAmerican SpectatorRealClearDefenseFast CompanyNaval War College Review, etc.

Leonard Hochberg taught at Stanford University (among other institutions), was appointed a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and co-founded Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (i.e., STRATFOR).  He has published in Social Science HistoryThe Journal of Interdisciplinary HistoryNational ReviewThe HillAmerican SpectatorRealClearDefenseNaval War College ReviewOrbis, etc.   Len Hochberg earned his PhD in political theory and European history at Cornell University.  He is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and serves as the Coordinator of the Mackinder Forum-U.S.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/08/2024 - 23:45
Published:2/8/2024 11:09:11 PM
[Markets] Pentagon Secretly Institutionalized DEI In Its K-12 Public Schools Pentagon Secretly Institutionalized DEI In Its K-12 Public Schools

By Adam Andrzejewski of Open The Books Substack

In a Congressional hearing last spring, Gil Cisneros, then-Under Secretary for Military Readiness, announced that the Pentagon was closing its newly formed Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within its K-12 school system and reassigning its controversial DEI chief after a ten-month internal investigation.

The Pentagon’s climb-down was a big win for OpenTheBooks.com. We had worked alongside whistleblowers, journalists, other investigative non-profits, and ranking members of Congress to expose alleged conflicts of interest, violations of military ethics policies, and radical ideologies being forced on the kids of servicemen and servicewomen.

Today, we are announcing Cisneros was actually faking. The radical curriculum was not dismantled. Instead, it was stealthily embedded into the lesson plans and classrooms throughout the entire school system.

The Pentagon, under Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, is preventing details of their DEI policies from coming to light by abusing the Freedom of Information Act. They bamboozled the public with window dressing in Congressional hearings while forcing woke extremism on the roughly 70,000 children of our military service members.

It’s critical that taxpayers understand the scope of the DEI philosophy within the DoD’s schools – deployed servicemembers often have no alternative but to use the Pentagon-run school system, called the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).

Troubling Curriculum

DOD relentlessly promotes DEI-ideologies to school children of serving families through educational contractors with millions of dollars of taxpayer funding.

Here are some examples of what’s happening in the Pentagon’s schools:

  • Chat rooms to facilitate teacher-student conversations that are closed off to parents about sexuality and gender, and likely without their knowledge or consent.

  • Engaging four-year-olds in LGBTQ+ conversations. Elementary schools are the “perfect time” to “really show students the diversity of the gender expression and gender activity.”

  • Solidarity with the neo-Marxist Black Lives Matter organization to encourage teachers to “challenge our beliefs, examine our own biases, and reflect on how we need to evaluate the structures and systems in our classrooms.”

  • Video content on “dissent” and “equity” to “help educators facilitate classroom conversations and much-needed discussions about implicit bias and systemic racism, human rights, equity, social justice, dissent, protest, and empathy." 

  • Marxist activism to dismantle systems of “power” and “privilege.” Suggesting a refusal to teach a “white-washed” curriculum and instead teach “social justice rather than heroes, holidays, and celebrations.”

  • A teaching handbook that recommends “critical conversations” with students about race, identity, and privilege and the way “injustice” affects our lives and society. These “explicit conversations” provoke “strong emotions” and crying students are expected.

Read the details about these vendors, their payments, and the full background dossier on our investigation here.

Our report on the Pentagon secretly institutionalizing DEI in its K-12 public schools

Transparency Problems

The Pentagon is assiduously attempting to hide its biased left-wing extremist curriculum from public view.  It is deleting public access to links, driving DEI infrastructure underground, and liberally redacting the most basic Freedom of Information Act requests.

For example, OpenTheBooks.com filed a FOIA request for the agency payroll just as we have at nearly 13,000 public schools across America. Stunningly, the DoDEA refused to disclose the individual salaries of its staff, unlike public schools nationwide and almost every other federal agency. No names, job titles, or compensation details on the $1.4 billion payroll.

It’s not just our organization having problems.

In September 2022, The Claremont Institute published a groundbreaking report on left-wing extremism in DoDEA classrooms, called “Grooming Future Revolutionaries.” The report highlighted content from dozens of video presentations from staffers at a 2021 “Equity and Access Summit” discussing what they were doing to turn schoolchildren into social justice activists.

Days later, all videos were taken down from the publicly available links and are no longer accessible. While the agency originally refused to release relevant documents via our FOIA request, we appealed, and the subsequent production confirmed that the videos were taken down in response to the report.

Last spring, at the Congressional hearing, Gil Cisneros announced that the Pentagon was dissolving the DoDEA’s DEI department and reassigning its chief. However, key documents we captured via FOIA suggest that DEI-ethos is still at the core of agency mission.

Here is what we were able to find out:

The Pentagon “integrated” DEI specialists into “four key divisions” in the agency last March while also launching a DEI Steering Committee. The committee is comprised of top executives including the agency’s CEO Thomas Brady, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Academic Officer, and twelve others.  

We sought more information on the steering committee, but our DoD redacted, or, “hid”: 1. member names; 2. agendas, materials, minutes and discussions; and 3. impact the committee is having on the whole education environment at the Pentagon.

The extent of these redactions is so ridiculous that almost every slide from the 14-page slide-deck presented at a committee meeting had been redacted except for the title page and a page defining DEI. 

The only non-executive staffer we can confirm attended these meetings is DEI Specialist Michelle Woodfork. See her redacted slide deck and calendar information here

Screenshot: A DoDEA staffer presentation on Discovery Education resources intended to teach children about social justice activism. Discovery Education received $2.4 million in contract spending from DoDEA since 2019 (see full presentation here). 

Key Quote

During the agency’s 2021 Equity and Access Summit, Woodfork made her devotion to the Pentagon’s DEI initiatives abundantly clear in her presentation:  

“When headquarters published their initiative for REDI [an earlier name for DEI at DoDEA] I got heart palpitations because it felt so affirming of the work I’ve been doing for so long.”

Woodfork’s presentation centered on her then-role as a principal at a Pentagon school, where she led “equity audits” on school materials and practices. 

The background and ideological orientation of Woodfork only underscores the need for the public and DoDEA parents to know who exactly is on this committee, and how much power they have over system-wide education.

Slide from Woodfork’s Equity and Access Summit presentation

Background

DoDEA made headlines in recent years for practices like hiding “gender transitions” from parents, forcing children into “difficult conversations” about race, class, gender, and sexuality, and the antics of a self-described “woke” Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion chief who allegedly hawked her own books to her colleagues.  

DoDEA’s focus on DEI, Thomas Brady said, is compelled by President Biden’s 2021 Executive Order 14035, which among other items charges all agencies with “assessing the current state of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility within their workforces.”

But even before EO 14035, Brady strived to inculcate DEI ideology at the agency, announcing on Juneteenth 2020 that DEI must be “embedded in everything we do.” 

In December 2024 the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden. The law delineates “rights” for the parents of children attending DoDEA schools, authored by Representative Elise Stefanik (NY-21) which will go into effect in two years.

The parental rights include, among other items: 

  • The right to review the curriculum of the school 
  • The right to review all instructional materials used by their students 

While these measures are certainly progress for military families, much can still be obfuscated. Teacher training, such as the Equity and Access Summit, should be included as well. And it is not clear if the full spectrum of tools included, such as the secret LGBT chatrooms, would be disclosed as “instructional materials.”

Moreover, if extremist materials are disclosed, there does not seem to be a recourse for opting children out of these lessons.  

Slide defining the word privilege from Equity and Access summit presentation “REDI to Learn? Building a Common Language” by a DoDEA AVID instructor. The definition can also be found in materials provided during the presentation. Watch the full presentation here.

Conclusion

Secretary Austin and then-Under Secretary Cisneros devoted themselves to hiding their DEI bait-and-switch.

With the fanfare of a Congressional platform, Cisnero sought credit for shutting down DEI. But under our scrutiny, we found DoD instead made DEI a stealth weapon against the kids of our fighting men and women in service to an anti-American neo-Marxist ideology.

We have further found that DoD under Secretary Austin is leveraging public record laws to the hilt to prevent parents and the public from knowing details of its efforts, while spending millions of taxpayer dollars on objectionable content for school children.  

DoDEA did not dismantle its DEI efforts. It redoubled those efforts and added deceit and dissembling to its mix. 

Given DoDEA’s recent history and press regarding extremist content in schools, heads must roll, and the agency must provide full transparency of teaching methods and its DEI-related policy operations.

Parents, taxpayers, and the kids themselves deserve no less.  

Note: We reached out to DoDEA and all educator employees who were quoted or gave presentations as referenced in this article. If they are no longer employed by DoDEA, we couldn’t reach them. We will update our piece if we receive a response.

Furthermore, no employee or vendor is accused of any breach or violation of statute, military policy, or agency policy. In fact, they just might be abiding by agency rules or Biden’s executive order, if anything.

Will Griffin, DoDEA Director of Communications responded to our comment request:

DoDEA remains committed to maintaining a school system where military-connected students can excel and prepare for success in college and careers and where all employees are treated with dignity and respect. We will continue to comply with all applicable Federal laws, Department of Defense policies, and applicable executive orders.

Additional Reading

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/08/2024 - 20:25
Published:2/8/2024 8:21:55 PM
[Podcasts] What’s the Point of Marriage?

Entire books have been written to answer the question of “Why get married?” So, it’s futile to think we can fully address the question in... Read More

The post What’s the Point of Marriage? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:2/8/2024 9:13:10 AM
[Foreign Affairs] French Best-Seller: U.S. Is a ‘Nihilist Empire’

Questioning the pro-American Western orthodoxy is selling books in the Hexagon.

The post French Best-Seller: U.S. Is a ‘Nihilist Empire’ appeared first on The American Conservative.

Published:2/6/2024 11:10:17 PM
[Congress] EXCLUSIVE: Here’s the Book the White House Suggested Amazon Should Ban

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—When President Joe Biden’s White House reached out to Amazon, demanding the bookseller suppress books opposing vaccines amid Biden’s push for... Read More

The post EXCLUSIVE: Here’s the Book the White House Suggested Amazon Should Ban appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:2/6/2024 4:05:28 PM
[] Biden Pressured Amazon to Censor Any Books Departing From the Government's Lying Covid Narratives Oh no some public schools won't be stocking boy-on-boy blowjob comic books for kids...! But let's ignore the Biden Administration leaning on the world's biggest bookseller to keep all adults from buying books whose messages Biden's Stasi find inconvenient and... Published:2/6/2024 2:03:10 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: Jim Jordan reveals emails that show Amazon CAVED to pressure from Biden WH to censor books House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan has just revealed emails that show the Biden White House pressured Amazon to censor books that contained information on vaccines that they didn’t like. Amazon totally caved . . . Published:2/5/2024 6:51:31 PM
[Politics] EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Bowed to White House Pressure to Suppress Books Skeptical of COVID-19 Vaccines

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Amazon yielded to pressure from President Joe Biden’s White House to suppress books that opposed COVID-19 vaccines, according to documents reviewed... Read More

The post EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Bowed to White House Pressure to Suppress Books Skeptical of COVID-19 Vaccines appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:2/5/2024 3:42:46 PM
[ec4cbdba-784a-5b34-bb37-b5809c46a35e] GOP House candidate served on board of prep school pushing controversial LGBTQ, woke books on young students Grey Mills, a Republican North Carolina legislator and congressional candidate, served as a trustee for a prep school that pushed controversial LGBTQ and other woke books on students. Published:2/3/2024 4:56:04 AM
[World] Will Work for Books or, Brother, Can You Spare Some Dostoevsky? Published:1/31/2024 8:39:21 PM
[Markets] 'Independent Contractor' Rule Latest Dumpster Fire Exported From California 'Independent Contractor' Rule Latest Dumpster Fire Exported From California

Authored by Mary Katherine Ham via RealClear Wire,

California is known for many things –  beautiful scenery, surfing, wine, movies, singing raisins. But perhaps its biggest exports now are its failed public policies and the hundreds of thousands of people leaving the state because they cannot live with those policies. 

One of those infamous policies and the havoc it’s bound to wreak has gone national, thanks to labor department rules issued by the Biden administration. A 339-page Department of Labor rule – you can always count on the federal government to keep it pithy – would make it much harder to be an independent contractor or freelance worker in America. Created to replace a simpler Trump-era rule, it’s modeled on AB5, a disastrous 2019 California law that made independent contracting and freelance work so hard to do that it effectively outlawed it in the Golden State. 

That law was so calamitous, despite its advertised intent of ensuring more employment benefits for more workers, even California had to admit it, scrambling to make fixes and hand out hundreds of exemptions to the law. Those exemptions are, of course, based on lobbying and political clout, leaving smaller, unconnected people to languish or leave the state. The list of exemptions is now more than 20 times longer than the original law. Some industries, like freelance transcription services, simply ceased to exist in California, said Karen Anderson, a freelancer who founded Freelancers Against AB5. Small community theaters suffered, unable to afford to make their freelancers into full-time employees, and that was before they got walloped by COVID restrictions. AB5’s opposition has collected the stories of hundreds of Californians and former Californians who had their livelihoods ruined or disrupted by AB5. 

“The chilling effect alone is enough to make a corporation or a business skittish about hiring an independent contractor at all,” Anderson said, noting the same is probably already happening with Biden’s regulation.

It was just a complete and total dumpster fire (in California),” she said.

A study on the employment effects of AB5, by economists at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center quantified the dumpster fire by comparing traditional and self-employment rates in California to other states with less strict independent contracting rules. If the law did what its proponents claimed they wanted, it would have increased traditional employment while decreasing self-employment. Instead, the data showed that “AB5 is significantly associated with a decline in self-employment and overall employment,” suggesting businesses were unable to afford to turn freelancers into full-time employees, and people who wished to do independent contracting were pushed out of the labor market or out of the state.

This shouldn’t come as a great surprise, as the Mercatus study notes these results follow a fairly simple economic principle: “While these regulations provide important benefits to workers, they also increase the cost of labor, which may reduce employment, hours worked, or wages.”

So, why export it to the rest of the American work force, over a third of which did some kind of independent contract work in 2023, according to surveys, amounting to more than 60 million workers?

Gov. Gavin Newsom being Newsom, declared his state’s rolling catastrophe the model for America, and Biden both on the campaign trail and in office, agreed. He pushed the passage of the PRO Act, which mirrors AB5 in California, as part of his attempt to be the “the most pro-union president you’d ever seen.”

Unable to muster support in the Senate to pass the law, the administration turned to its bureaucratic buddies to implement the philosophy from his 2023 Labor Day proclamation – “when organized labor wins, our Nation wins.”

And that’s really the point of these laws. As demands for flexibility and novel work arrangements increase in the modern economy, driven in part by the policies of the pandemic era, fewer Americans work traditional jobs and fewer Americans are in unions. Biden and Newsom want more of them in unions, even if they don’t want to be. Supporters argue these laws simply prevent misclassification of workers, which deprives them of benefits they’re due. But there are already laws on the books to prevent misclassification. It’s no accident that the author of AB5, Lorena Gonzalez, leapt from the legislature to leading the California Labor Federation while California’s enforcer for AB5, Julie Su, is now acting Secretary of Labor. 

“Misclassification is not what this and AB5 are aimed at. What they’re aimed at is millions of other people who have willfully chosen to work independently bc that is what is best suited to their lifestyle,” said Rep. Kevin Kiley of California, who introduced legislation to nullify the rule under the Congressional Review Act and prohibit funding for its enforcement. “It makes absolutely no sense to say that because there are some folks out there who are genuinely misclassified, we should eliminate the rights of tens of millions of others to choose the working arrangements that they desire.”

In the Senate, Sen. Tim Scott introduced the Employee Rights Act, designed to protect modern workers from this type of anachronistic push from an administration beholden to Big Labor.

Some of those workers, in Fight for Freelancers, are suing the Department of Labor to protect their economic liberty. They’re represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which notes “ordinary citizens do not know how to structure their relationships to avoid liability under federal law, giving the government a sword of Damocles it can bring down on the heads of businesses it doesn’t like.”

Yet another perk of Bidenomics.

Mary Katharine Ham is a journalist, author, Georgia Bulldog, and host of her own light-hearted podcast, "Getting Hammered.” She lives in Virginia with her husband, four kids, and a very energetic Belgian Mal, and serves on the board of the Travis Manion Foundation.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/31/2024 - 12:35
Published:1/31/2024 12:08:32 PM
[World] Abcarian: Want a good book? Try one your 9th grader isn't allowed to read

The right-wing hysteria over books with sexual, violent or racial themes is ridiculous. Not that the left, even in California, is entirely innocent

Published:1/31/2024 10:48:05 AM
[Markets] PA Man Posts Video Of Decapitated Father On YouTube During Unhinged Manifesto Rant PA Man Posts Video Of Decapitated Father On YouTube During Unhinged Manifesto Rant

Submitted by blueapples on X

If 2024 is anything like 2020 then the political tensions leading up to this year's presidential election will surely only intensify as the calendar inches closer to November. However, 2024 has a lot to live up to compared to the utter chaos that unfolded in 2020. While this year is unlikely to rival the scale of the chaos that unfolded in 2020, one Pennsylvania man may have lit the fuse needed to heighten hostilities between the right and left by providing the Biden administration with the fodder it needs to ramp up it's vilification of Trump supporters ahead of election day.

Justin Mohn is sure to be painted as the new face of right wing domestic terrorism following his unhinged political manifesto published to YouTube

Following the publication of a 14 minute, 35 second YouTube video in which he aired his grievances against the Biden administration and federal government en masse, Justin Mohn was arrested by Fort Indian Town Gap Police in central Pennsylvania. Mohn took to YouTube to broadcast his political manifesto titled Mohn's Militia - Call To Arms For American Patriots. The video was laden with incendiary rhetoric beckoning violence against the federal government, with fervent criticism of the leftist agenda he deemed was ruining the country. However, that was not the basis of the charges he was arrested for. Instead, Mohn was arrested in connection of the death of his father, Michael, after he began his YouTube broadcast by showcasing the severed head of his father following his decapitation.

According to Mohn, his 68 year-old father Michael had worked for the federal government for 20 years and in that time came to embody the corruption his manifesto deemed was ruining the nation. Mohn opened his video by stating  "This is the head of Mike Mohn, a federal employee of over 20 years and my father. He is now in hell for eternity as a traitor to his country." before bringing his father's severed head wrapped in plastic into the frame. Mohn would go on to characterize the policies of the Biden Administration as acts of treason in their own right, highlighting the country's struggling economy, uncontrolled spending, insurmountable national debt, and failed immigration policy ushering in a "fifth column army of illegal immigrants invading the country", among other examples as facets of a concerted effort to destroy the United States from within.

The video was hosted on Mohn's YouTube channel which only had little more than a couple dozen subscribers before the manifesto was published. Due to the obscure nature of Mohn's channel, his video remained up for 6 hours, amassing nearly 4,800 views before the staff at YouTube which is so regularly engaged in censorship finally took it down. Furthermore, YouTube staff took the escalated measure of terminating Mohn's account, despite the on-going criminal investigation against him.

The remnants of Justin Mohn's YouTube channel

While not much of notoriety had appears on Mohn's YouTube channel before his last video, he had previously authored two books which are listed on Amazon.com. While the first book is innocuously titled Poems I Wrote While Stoned, his other work gives more of an inkling into his political leanings. The second of his published works is titled America's Coming Bloody Revolution, foreshadowing the bloodshed that took place at his father's $390,000 home in Middleton Township, Pennsylvania that Mohn was still presumably living in.

The murder of Michael Mohn was characterized by his son as just that -- an act of bloodshed intended to spark a political revolution. Justin Mohn characterized his father as "a traitor to this country" before opining that his soul was now destined for the innermost layers of hell which were reserved for those guilty of betrayal using language illustrative of Dante's Inferno.

Middletown Township Chief of Police Joseph Bartorilla confirmed a suspect in the death of Michael Mohn was arrested on Tuesday evening, hours before the YouTube video of his son showcasing his father's head video was finally taken offline. Law enforcement did not identify Justin Mohn as the suspect. However, they did confirm that the video was evidence used to make the arrest.

In the wake of a tipping point in which the facade of the Biden administration has come crumbling down faster than the sections of the southern border wall breached by illegal immigrants whose influx has caused a crisis that even staunch democrats can't ignore, the political establishment is grasping for anything they can find to deflect attention away from its failures. Warhawks on Capitol Hill have latched onto an attack killing 3 US servicemen in Jordan in an effort to call for an attack on Iran to steer the spotlight away from the border. However, given the political momentum each of those crises gives to their opposition heading into the 2024 Presidential Election, permanent Washington is desperate for a story they can use to distract from their ineptitude by shifting back to the often used narrative that the gravest danger to the country isn't 4 more years of Joe Biden but the return of Donald Trump. In the past, characterizing supporters of Trump as unhinged white supremacists and right-wing domestic terrorists has served that purpose. While public sentiment supporting that claim has waned, Mohn's deranged political manifesto will surely be used to rekindle that fear mongering.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/31/2024 - 09:15
Published:1/31/2024 8:24:27 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:1/31/2024 7:04:33 AM
[Markets] Meet Amy Pope: The UN's Human-Trafficking Czar Meet Amy Pope: The UN's Human-Trafficking Czar

Authored by Robert A. Bishop via American Thinker,

Meet Amy Pope, an open borders advocate, Obama apparatchik, and an accomplice of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. As the UN's Deputy Secretary of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the preeminent NGO in the field of migration, she plays an integral role in the illegal alien surge at our southern border.

In the Obama regime, as a policy wonk, she held flashy-sounding job titles: DoJ Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Assistant to the President, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, Special Assistant to the President, Transborder Security Director, Interior Enforcement (2010-2016). During Trump's term, she was a partner in the UK Schillings law firm, an Associate Fellow in the UK's Chatham House think-tank, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council (2017-2020). Bonafides of a globalist influencer.

While at Chatham, nonprofit think-tank Migration Policy Institute (MPI) commissioned Pope for a white paper on "Immigration and U.S. National Security." The Institute advocates for permanent legal residence for undocumented immigrants in the United States and global migration policy. Progressive organizations like the Gates Foundation and George Soros Open Society -- the usual suspects -- fund MPI. The report concluded domestic terrorists represent the most significant threat, while asylum seekers pose a relatively low threat.

The primary terrorist threat comes from small pockets of radicalized individuals or “lone wolves,” many of whom were born and raised in the United States or in Europe and would not be obvious targets for exclusion.

Unfortunately, there is also evidence that much-needed resources, political will, and capability are increasingly being siphoned away from addressing meaningful threats to national security and focused on the extremely low threat posed by people seeking asylum, economic advancement, family reunification, or otherwise traveling to the United States.

Is it a coincidence that her conclusion became DHS Secretary Mayorkas's top security priority of domestic violent extremism?

Before the 2020 elections, she appeared before the UK's Oxford Union, the world's most prestigious debating society. She denounced President Trump for his policy on building the border wall and limiting immigration, sanctimonious proclaiming "that this President has failed in every respect to keep the United States safe from harms," the essence of Kafkaesque reasoning.

Pope was a senior advisor on migration with the Biden administration before becoming the Deputy Director for the UN's International Organization of Migration. Last year, the State Department, which provides substantial grants to IOM, successfully campaigned to get her elected to a five-year term as Director General. 

Her coronation occurred at the United Nations 87th Assembly, meeting with world leaders on human mobility to "harness the power of migration," where migration is a powerful driver to fulfill the UN's Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals. She is proud to be moving tens of millions of people from their land of origin to destabilize Western host nations. 

Pope followed up with a victory lap as a panelist on migration at the UN's Climate Change Conference COP28 and the World Economic Forum. Her slogan is "stakeholders around the world," a euphemism for global Marxism. Her ideology is profoundly rooted in the 'America Last' doctrine.

IOM aims to work closely with governments and other United Nations agencies to enable resettlement.  To achieve that goal, it provides migrants with cash-based interventions, supplies, and transit assistance, in addition to coordinating and managing UN way stations like Lajas Blancas and Bajo Chiquito camps in Panama.

Because of unprecedented migration, Pope's bold strategic plan is increasing the 2024 budget to $7.9 billion -- nearly a threefold increase over the 2023 budget. We can be sure that the State Department will help to fill that void.

Pope is subverting American values and principles by facilitating an illegal alien insurgency, unofficially over eight million primarily military-aged males. Destabilizing social order and undermining the rule of law is the definition of an insurrectionist. Ironically, she violates the United Nations’ definition of human trafficking: “The crime of human trafficking consists of three core elements: the act, the means, the purpose.” Defunding the UN and its NGOs will help curtail the global migration flows.

Bob Bishop is a forensic investigator and retired CPA. His social media accounts are LinkedIn, X, and YouTube.

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/29/2024 - 03:30
Published:1/29/2024 3:01:03 AM
[Markets] We Can't Ban Our Way To A Better World We Can't Ban Our Way To A Better World

Authored by Charles Krblich via The Brownstone Institute,

Il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace!

(We need audacity, more audacity, always audacity!)

Georges Jacques Danton

Just a short time ago, on a Saturday, before a flake of snow glistened in the air on the following Sunday, an imminent weather emergency caused New York Governor Kathy Hochul to “ban travel” and postpone the Steelers-Bills super Wild Card game until the following Monday.

Certainly, severe weather is a legitimate reason to cancel or postpone events, and to stridently warn against travel during white-out conditions in a blizzard, but a travel ban?

Banning isn’t limited to travel during white-out conditions in blizzards though.

It is truly a bipartisan pastime.

Ban gas stoves; Ban gas-powered generators; Ban books; Ban misinformation; Ban fake news; Ban gender affirming care; Ban parents from being notified of gender transitions; Ban abortions; Ban the banning of abortions; Ban gasoline powered cars and trucks; Ban the unvaccinated; Ban the unmasked; Ban DEI; Ban gas boilers; Ban coal; Ban nuclear; Ban high-capacity magazines; Ban guns; Ban incandescent lightbulbs...

Those bans are just to fix all of society’s important problems, but there are presumably less important things that need banning as well. What would really help is banning honors classes to produce equity, banning youth tackle football, and even banning sledding! In Canada!

If we pass just a few more laws that ban the things we don’t like and banish the people who support them, utopia will arrive and thou-shalt-not do anything.

Maybe you agree with some of these bans and maybe you disagree with others. Certainly if you have any political leanings at all, some of these bans will find your enthusiastic support and others your passionate fury. The most difficult position to hold is that none of these things should be banned, and people should largely be free to do as they please. That position infuriates everyone!

Yet it is clear beyond any doubt that bans simply don’t work. I was a child during the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. Drugs were banned, and yet always available. Chicago has banned guns for years and yet has incredibly high gun violence. We banned smiles, playgrounds, and normal personal interaction for years in order to ban Covid and we still catch Covid.

Ironically, it is the rebels who pay no attention to the bans that are often celebrated by history. This is true both in real life and in fictional epics familiar to everyone.

In real life, the Russian Samizdat reproduced, often by hand, great works of literature like Doctor Zhivago and The Gulag Archipelago. Much of their work was producing political texts and personal statements – editorials – that often criticized the Soviet Government and offered alternative solutions to the government’s handling of events. The members of the Samizdat faced severe punishment involving torture and death if they were caught, and we celebrate their courage today.

Fictionally, we celebrate the scrappy rebels in the Star Wars franchise, we root for Neo to win back humanity’s freedom from the scourge of the machines in the Matrix franchise, and we feel the passion and duty of Atticus Finch as he does the unthinkable in his society and defends a black man accused of raping a white woman because it’s the right thing to do.

There are so many more examples, but what is important is that in each example there are laws – either written or unwritten – that are being broken in service of true liberalism. In the Samizdat example, there are often steep personal costs paid, but the delusions of the Soviet state eventually faded and the members of the Samizdat became celebrated heroes rather than vicious criminals spreading misinformation.

In each of the stories there is inevitably a society, culture, or villain that is unbearably cruel and filled with hypocrisy and judgment. Whereas the villain wants complete control, abject anarchy, or the banishment of all non-conformers, the heroes always have the strength to follow their own conscience.

Isn’t this the world we live in? Both sides see themselves as the heroes resisting the unbearable cruelty and hypocrisy of the other. To quote Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

They don’t believe in science/progress and are very often misogynistic and racist. It’s a very small group of people, but that doesn’t shy away from the fact that they take up some space.

This leads us, as a leader and as a country, to make a choice: Do we tolerate these people?

What are the means and methods for not tolerating someone? Banishment is, of course, one of them, and thus bank accounts were frozendisabled grandmothers assaulted, and rebel ringleaders jailed. The state does not need Gulags if on one hand they can approve of some riots but use unapproved protests to turn off your ability to bank, transact, work, and live with the flip of a switch.

The last few years have taught us how fast a person can be turned into swine and banished without remorse.

This moral dilemma is highlighted in one of the allegedly “banned” books. “Banned” because it has racist language, yet still freely available in every book store and on Amazon, there is a character who is a strict disciplinarian who often chastises the main character for his recklessness. She is on a mission to ban his audacity and wildness. She desires to “civilize” him.

That is ultimately what banning is trying to bring about: one’s idea of proper civilization.

Yet civilization thrives in the cracks and margins, in the collective behavior of individuals striving to live the lives they desire despite their circumstances. The Samizdat copied the great literature because it was worthwhile, and in our “banned” book, our main character discovers his friend has been betrayed and will be returned to slavery if our character stands by idly.

So Huck Finn, who values his own sense of freedom more than anything, does what we all should do in the face of the “civilizers:” drop our pretenses and say, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”

In doing so, he follows his gut instincts and makes one of the most important moral decisions of his life. Maybe, if we follow that example, we wouldn’t be so concerned with fixing society by banning things like sledding, and would in turn find the lost joy that lives in untamed audacity and recklessness.

*  *  *

Republished from the author’s Substack

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/27/2024 - 23:20
Published:1/27/2024 11:18:09 PM
[] Chaya Raichik Claps Back at Another NBC News Reporter Doing a Hit Piece Published:1/25/2024 4:40:25 PM
[] Two Scenarios That Should Give Republicans Flop Sweat Published:1/25/2024 11:35:37 AM
[094dc469-03d1-5d0b-81f0-7b82b2292a0f] 11 movie adaptations of bestselling books Several of the biggest movies started out as bestselling books. Films like "Harry Potter," "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hunger Games" were all books before hitting the big screen. Published:1/25/2024 8:21:13 AM
[Markets] Dow swings to net loss as sales fall at all of its operating businesses Chemicals company swings to a loss as sales fall and it books a noncash charge to de-risk its pension plan. Published:1/25/2024 6:22:05 AM
[Markets] Escobar: The Ukraine Charade, Revisited Escobar: The Ukraine Charade, Revisited

Authored by Pepe Escobar,

Even if country 404 is utterly defeated in 2024, once again it’s imperative to stress it: this is far from over...

Selected players scattered around the Beltway silos of power, diligently working as messengers for the people who really run the show in the Hegemon, have concluded that a no holds barred confrontation with Russia would lead to the collapse of all of NATO; undo decades of US iron grip on Europe; and ultimately cause the Empire’s downfall.

Playing brinkmanship games sooner or later would meet the indestructible red lines inbuilt in the unmovable Russian object.

US elites are smarter than that. They may excel on calculated risk. But when the stakes are this high, they know when to hedge and when to fold.

The “loss” of Ukraine – now a graphic imperative – is not worth risking the loss of the whole Hegemonic ride. That would be too much for the Empire to lose.

So even as they get increasingly desperate with the accelerated imperial plunge into a geopolitical and geoeconomic abyss, they’re frantically changing the narrative – a domain in which they excel.

And that explains why discombobulated European vassals in NATO-controlled EU are now in total panic.

Davos this week offered bucketloads of Orwellian salad. The key, frantic messages: War is peace. Ukraine is not (italics mine) losing and Russia is not winning. Hence Ukraine needs way more weaponizing.

Yet even Norwegian Wood Stoltenberg was told to toe the new line that matters: “NATO is not moving into Asia. It’s China that is coming close to us.” That certainly adds a new wacky meaning to the notion of moving tectonic plates.

Keep the Forever Wars engine running

There is a total void of “leadership” in Washington. There is no “Biden”. Just Team Biden: a corporate combo featuring low-rent messengers such as de facto neocon Little Blinkie. They do what they’re told by wealthy “donors” and the financial-military interests that really run the show, reciting the same old cliché-saturated lines day after day, bit players in a Theatre of the Absurd.

Only one exhibit suffices.

Reporter: “Are the airstrikes in Yemen working?”

The President of the United States: “Well, when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they gonna continue? Yes.”

The same in what passes for “strategic thinking” applies to Ukraine.

The Hegemon is not being lured into fighting in West Asia – as much as the genocidal arrangement in Tel Aviv, in tandem with US Zio-cons, wants to drag it into a war on Iran.

Still, the imperial machine is being steered to keep the Forever Wars engine running, non-stop, at varying speeds.

The elites in charge are way more clinical than the whole Team Biden. They know they will not win in what will soon be country 404. But the tactical victory, so far, is massive: enormous profits out of the frantic weaponizing; totally gutting European industry and sovereignty; reducing the EU to the sub-status of a lowly vassal; and from now on plenty of time to find new proxy warriors against Russia – from Polish and Baltic fanatics to the whole Takfiri-neo ISIS galaxy.

From Plato to NATO, it may be too early to state it’s all over for the West. What is nearly over is the current battle, centered on country 404. As Andrei Martyanov himself stresses, it was up to Russia, once again, “to start dismantling what today has become the house of demons and horror in the West and by the West, and she is doing it again in a Russian way – by defeating it on the battlefield.”

That complements the detailed analysis expressed on the new hand grenade of a book by French historian Emmanuel Todd.

Yet the war is far from over. As Davos once again made it quite clear, they will not give up.

Chinese wisdom rules that, “when you want to hit a man with an arrow, first hit his horse. When you want to capture all the bandits, first capture their chief.”

The “chief” – or chiefs – certainly are far from being captured. BRICS+ and de-dollarization may have a shot at it, starting this year.

The plutocratic endgame

Under this framework, even massive US-Ukraine corruption involving rings and rings of theft from lavish US “aid”, as recently revealed by former Ukrainian MP Andrey Derkach, is a mere detail.

Nothing has been done or will be done about it. After all, the Pentagon itself fails every audit. These audits, by the way, did not even include the income from the massive multi-billion dollar heroin operation in Afghanistan – with Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo set up as the distribution center for Europe. The profits were pocketed by US intel operatives off the books.

When fentanyl replaced heroin as a domestic US plague, it was pointless to continue occupying Afghanistan – subsequently abandoned after two decades in pure Helter Skelter mode, leaving behind over $7 billion in weapons.

It’s impossible to describe all these Empire-centric concentric rings of corruption and institutionalized organized crime to a brainwashed collective West. The Chinese, once again, to the rescue. Taoist Zhuangzi (369 – 286 B.C.): “You can’t talk about the ocean to a frog living in a well, you can’t describe ice to a summer midge, and you can’t reason with an ignoramus.”

NATO’s cosmic humiliation in Ukraine notwithstanding, this proxy war against Russia, against Europe and against China remains the fuse that could light up a WWIII before the end of this decade. Who will decide it is an extremely rarefied plutocracy. No, not Davos: these are only their clownish mouthpieces.

Russia has reactivated a military factory system at lightning speed – now standing at about 15 times the capacity of January 2022. Along the front line there are about 300,000 troops, plus in the back two pincer armies of hundreds of thousands of mobile troops in each pincer being prepared to create a double envelopment of the Ukrainian Army and annihilate it.

Even if country 404 is utterly defeated in 2024, once again it’s imperative to stress it: this is far from over. The leadership in Beijing fully understands that the Hegemon is such a disintegrating wreck, on the way to secession, that the only way to hold it together would be a world war. It’s time to re-read T.S. Eliot in more ways than one: “We had the experience but missed the meaning, / and approach to the meaning restores the experience.”

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/25/2024 - 02:00
Published:1/25/2024 1:21:12 AM
[Campus Free Speech] [Eugene Volokh] "Yes, the Last 10 Years Really Have Been Worse for Free Speech" (Focusing on Universities) An interesting and, I think, sound analysis by Greg Lukianoff (FIRE), responding to ACLU National Legal Director (and Georgetown law professor) David Cole's review of Lukianoff & Rikki Schlott's The Canceling of the American Mind in the New York Review of Books. An excerpt: [A]fter 9/11 only about three professors lost their jobs for speech… Published:1/24/2024 7:03:28 PM
[Markets] That’s rich: A Richie Rich comic sold for $108,000 last year — more will soon be auctioned off Prices are increasing for the books featuring the beloved ‘poor little rich boy’ character Published:1/24/2024 3:29:58 PM
[] LibsofTikTok Appointed to be Advisor for Oklahoma Library Regarding Appropriate Material for Children;Gay Extremist NBC "Reporter" Immediately Defames Her, Claiming She "Instigated" "Bomb Threats" Here is this extremely biased Professional Homosexual and gay crusader, casually defaming a normal person for not sharing his zeal for children's anal sex comic books. They picked a picture that makes her look fluffy in the neck and jawline.... Published:1/24/2024 11:25:44 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:1/24/2024 7:10:43 AM
[World] Aerospace company RTX rises as Q4 earnings and revenue beat estimates Pratt & Whitney jet engine unit books 25% profit increase after $3B charge earlier in the year Published:1/23/2024 6:40:45 AM
[World] [Eugene Volokh] Are You a Librarian in a Public or School Library? Or Do You Know One Who Might Be Willing to Talk with Me? I'm writing up a longish blog post about some controversies related to the "weeding" of books in public libraries and in public school libraries—which is to say, removal of books from library collections—and I'd love to talk to librarians who actually have some experience with this process. I've reviewed Rebecca Vnuk's The Weeding Handbook and… Published:1/21/2024 12:43:47 PM
[Entertainment] 5 mystery novels to curl up with this winter This season readers can delve into new books from Benjamin Stevenson, Kat Ailes, Laura R. King, CJ Wray and Janice Hallett Published:1/21/2024 5:14:22 AM
[Markets] Advocates Outraged That Feds Asked Banks To Search Customers' 'Religious Texts' Purchases Advocates Outraged That Feds Asked Banks To Search Customers' 'Religious Texts' Purchases

Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Faith leaders and religious liberty advocates are up in arms over news that the federal government encouraged banks and other financial institutions to search customers’ private accounts using the search term “religious texts.”

Tony Perkins (C), president of the Family Research Council, speaks during an interfaith roundtable on the Chinese Communist Party's threat to religious freedom in Washington on July 12, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

The “religious texts” search term was among those federal officials asked financial institutions to use following the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol, a congressional source with direct knowledge confirmed to The Epoch Times on Jan. 18.

Other terms that banks, credit card companies, and financial firms were asked to use in the searches included “MAGA” and “Trump,” according to the House Judiciary Committee. Federal officials at the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department sought the data from such searches as part of their investigation of the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Religious liberty advocates interviewed by The Epoch Times were unanimous in condemning the searches, which were conducted without judicially authorized search warrants.

“This is beyond alarming,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Epoch Times. “If we did a word search in history of the type of activities the Biden administration is engaged in, it would return words like ‘KGB,’ ’totalitarian,‘ ’repressive,’ ‘anti-democratic,’ and ‘grave threat to freedom.’”

Family Research Council is a Washington-based nonprofit advocacy group that works on behalf of traditional values, including and especially defense of the family and religious freedom.

The last place you would anticipate this kind of government intrusion into freedom of speech is America and yet it is rife with this administration and with the ‘deep state,’” Liberty Counsel founder and Chairman Mat Staver told The Epoch Times.

“It is a very serious concern and it should be a serious concern, no matter your political beliefs because if this is permitted, then it just depends on who is in power. This is what despotic governments do to suppress people that they don’t agree with,” he said.

Mr. Staver’s organization, Liberty Counsel, is an Orlando, Florida-based nonprofit religious liberty defense foundation.

‘Mockery of Our Laws’

Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO, and chief counsel for the Plano, Texas-based First Liberty Institute, told The Epoch Times the searches exposed by the House panel represent a threat to religious freedom.

“It’s outrageous and frankly chilling that the federal government may be urging banks to monitor Americans for exercising their religious freedom by simply purchasing a Bible or other religious text,” Mr. Shackelford said.

Weaponizing the federal government against religious Americans freely exercising their constitutionally protected freedom is outrageous and a danger to all our freedoms. It makes a mockery of our laws. When religious people are attacked and religious freedom is not upheld, all other civil liberties—including economic freedom—soon start crumbling.”

“This news should serve as a wake-up call for every American,“ warned Jeremy Tedesco, senior vice president of corporate engagement for Alliance Defending Freedom. ”The revelation that the government is working with financial institutions to flag everyday American citizens as ’threats’ because they shop at Cabelas, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or buy religious texts is terrifying.

“No one should live in fear that law enforcement or a financial service provider will flag their account based on the exercise of their constitutionally protected rights.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in a Jan. 17 statement that the searches were sought by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Stakeholder Integration and Engagement in the Strategic Operations of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in conjunction with the FBI.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) accused the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division of politically based prosecutions while questioning U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke during a House hearing about “Oversight of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division” in Washington on Dec. 5, 2023. (Screenshot via NTD)

Mr. Jordan wrote a Jan. 17 letter to Noah Bishoff, the former FinCEN director who is now the anti-money laundering officer for Plaid Inc., a San Francisco digital financial platform developer and marketer.

According to this analysis, FinCEN warned financial institutions of ‘extremism’ indicators that include ‘transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel areas with no apparent purpose,’ or ‘the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views,’” Mr. Jordan wrote.

“In other words, FinCEN used large financial institutions to comb through the private transactions of their customers for suspicious charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression.”

Officials’ Testimony Sought

Mr. Bishoff was asked to provide testimony to the House Judiciary panel about the searches, as was Peter Sullivan, senior private sector partner for outreach in the Strategic Partner Engagement Section of the FBI.

“Freedom of Religion is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution,” Mr. Jordan told The Epoch Times. “It should frighten every American that the federal government is watching people based on their purchases. This is as wrong as it gets and we will continue to expose this blatant attack on faith and civil liberties.”

In a Jan. 17 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Mr. Jordan explained that Mr. Sullivan’s testimony “will help to inform the [House Judiciary] Committee and Select Subcommittee [on the Weaponization of the Federal Government] about the FBI’s mass accumulation and use of Americans’ private information without legal process; the FBI’s protocols, if any, to safeguard Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights in the receipt and use of such information; and the FBI’s general engagement with the private sector on law-enforcement matters.”

Congressional leaders also told The Epoch Times the searches warrant further investigation and corrective action.

FBI Director Christopher Wray looks over notes as he arrives for a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 10, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) also commented.

The Biden administration is bringing back ‘Operation Chokepoint’ from the Obama-Biden era to weaponize our financial system against their political opponents. House Republicans, under the leadership of Chairman Jordan and the House Judiciary Committee, will not tolerate this un-American abuse of power.” Mr. Emmer said.

He was referring to a Department of Justice investigation in 2013 of firearms dealers, payday lenders, and other businesses thought to be vulnerable to money laundering.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told The Epoch Times that “digging through American citizens’ private financial transactions, based on political phrases, is a clear weaponization of the federal government and those responsible must be held responsible.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the searches “outrageous” and claimed “the Biden administration is using federal law enforcement to engage in financial surveillance of Americans. ... Shockingly, the government is even monitoring people for purchasing religious texts like the Bible. This is an Orwellian invasion of privacy, and it should have never happened in the United States. Biden’s bureaucrats running this horrendous financial surveillance system must be held accountable.”

Similarly, Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) told The Epoch Times: “This is yet another example of the federal government being weaponized against Joe Biden’s political opposition, as well as people of faith. This sort of activity is highly concerning and warrants further investigation. I applaud the House Judiciary Committee for digging into this issue and I look forward to investigators exposing and rooting out this misconduct.”

Tactics of Marxism

Shea Bradley-Farrell is an international development professional and president of the Washington-based Counterpoint Institute for Policy, Research, and Education. She told The Epoch Times that the searches are typical of the control measures used by totalitarian regimes to counter dissidents and other groups not approved by the authorities.

Weaponizing the federal government against private citizens for their political or religious beliefs is straight out of the playbook of Marxism, and was also used to identify, crush, and control the occupied peoples under the communist Soviet Union,” Ms. Bradley-Farrell said.

“As I explain in my book, ‘Last Warning to the West,’ these are totalitarian, police-state tactics used to impose ‘docility, discipline and controllability of subject populations. These are warrantless searches that violate the Fourth Amendment.”

A spokesman for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/20/2024 - 15:10
Published:1/20/2024 2:43:56 PM
[Markets] National Self-Reliance Is On The Rise: China & The US National Self-Reliance Is On The Rise: China & The US

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Balancing globalized trade and capital flows with domestic self-reliance and control of credit and capital is a positive development for everyone.

This week's focus is on self-reliance, a topic of increasing relevance than is more complex that it may seem.

The flip side of the decline of hyper-globalization is the rise of national self-reliance. We can see this dynamic expanding in real time across the globe, particularly in China and the U.S.: though still bound by trillions of dollars / RMB in investment and trade, the two nations are seeking to balance their dependency on the other by increasing their self-reliance with their own resources and technologies.

This reduction of a potent source of instability (dependency) in favor of national self-reliance is a positive development. Just as household self-reliance doesn't mean self-sufficiency (something I explain in Self-Reliance in the 21st Century), national self-reliance doesn't mean self-sufficiency: trade and diplomatic ties with other nations are beneficial, but it doesn't serve anyone's interests to be so beholden to other nations that blackmail become a temptation.

But withdrawing from the world has risks, too. The ideal is a dynamic balance between national interests and global ties that benefit everyone, that is, ties that nurture cooperation and global stability.

In other words, national self-reliance is not a substitute for global engagement and cooperation, it is a stabilizing force that enables beneficial global ties. Dependencies are sources of instability and risk, as each side is under pressure to preserve whatever is viewed as essential, and this tends to increase the risk of rash decisions and actions.

The ideal global arrangement is a transparent flow of ideas and information that enables every participant to adapt to changing conditions. From this perspective, the risk isn't that China seeks to become less dependent on Western technology, i.e. becoming more self-reliant; the risk is China blocking the flow of ideas from outside sources with the Great Firewall. (My sources report no U.S. news sites are available in China except a handful of anti-establishment sites.)

In the long sweep of its history, China has opened to the world and prospered, and then closed itself off and stagnated. A century after the glories of Admiral Zheng He's massive fleet reaching the shores of Africa in the early 1400s, China banned all oceangoing vessels and suppressed maritime trade sought by other nations.

That outside ideas are viewed as potential threats to the domestic status quo is a common feature of history. Many national elites have tried to block ideas and information while seeking to attract technologies and capital, as these benefit not just the domestic economy but the elites' personal wealth and their power base.

Capital and technology are tricky, however. Capital flowing into a developing nation can be beneficial, but it can also overwhelm and exploit the domestic economy, leading to the neo-colonialization of the nation's productive assets. Capital flowing out of a nation with excess savings can be a positive source of investment opportunities, but this draining of capital can also hollow out the economy, especially if it is accompanied by a parallel loss of human capital leaving for better opportunities elsewhere.

Cheap credit looks attractive to credit-starved nations, but it comes with a terrible cost as the debt levels quickly rise to unsustainable levels and both borrowers and lenders are forced to absorb losses and retrench. China is receiving a 21st century education in these dynamics via the Belt and Road Initiative, which has been dialed back as loans sour and asset transfers ignite fears of neo-colonialism from the East.

Technology that's borrowed ends up stagnating unless the entire system that enabled the development of that technology is also imported. The key feature of that technology-engine isn't money, though that is one ingredient; the most important feature is the free flow of ideas and information, unencumbered by elite / political interference.

Balancing domestic self-reliance and global trade and capital / information flows is not easy. Closing the door to outside ideas, capital and information tends to lead to stagnation, while opening the floodgates with no constraints tends to lead to destabilizing dependencies, credit bubbles, exploitation and neo-colonialism.

National self-reliance has spawned an entire vocabulary. In China, President Xi Jinping has called for a "whole-nation approach" to increase domestic production of technology. In the U.S. the vocabulary includes reshoring, onshoring, friend-shoring and strategic alliances.

Hyper-globalization wreaked havoc on many levels in many places. Balancing globalized trade and capital flows with domestic self-reliance and control of credit and capital is a positive development for everyone. A more balanced global economy offers the potential for continued global cooperation and engagement and domestic development for every nation that pursues the dynamic stability of both self-reliance and global engagement.

Gordon Long and I discuss trade and supply chains in depth in our podcast on Self Reliance (45 min).

*  *  *

I began my study of China over 50 years ago when I earned a degree in Philosophy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where I was a student of two widely admired professors of Chinese philosophy, Chang Chung-yuan and Cheng Chung-Ying. It seems to me that Chinese philosophy--Confucianism, neo-Confucianism, Legalism (Mencius et al), Chan Buddhism, Taoism and in the 20th century, China's version of Marxism--remain foundations beneath the great flux of China's often tumultuous history. In this sense, Chinese philosophy is perhaps the ideal path to understanding the history and culture of China.



I haven't maintained a list of the many books I've read on China; I've listed a few below that I recall. Please note that I am not an expert or a scholar, I am merely an informed observer.

1587, A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline

Creativity and Taoism: A Study of Chinese Philosophy, Art and Poetry

The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth

The Man Who Loved China (Joseph Needham)

Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276 (Southern Song Dynasty)

Red Roulette: An Insider's Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today's China

The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes: The Ancient World Economy and the Empires of Parthia, Central Asia and Han China

The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of Tang Exotics

Foreign Devils on the Silk Road 

All the Tea in China

Red Sorrow: A Memoir

The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress: China's Search for Security (Andrew J. Nathan)

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices (Xinren Xue)

Here are a few books which illuminate the complexities of the flow of trade, ideas and capital from the Bronze Age to the present:

The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good

Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History

The Loss of El Dorado: A Colonial History

Tristes Tropiques

The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Vol. 1: The Structure of Everyday Life (Fernand Braudel)

Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Vol. 2: The Wheels of Commerce

Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Vol. 3: The Perspective of the World

*  *  *

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 patreon.com.

Subscribe to my Substack for free

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/19/2024 - 18:20
Published:1/19/2024 5:24:56 PM
[Entertainment] These books prove it’s easy to fall in love with super competent heroes Sometimes the best characters are jerks. These four new sci-fi and fantasy books show why. Published:1/19/2024 7:35:31 AM
[Markets] The Silent Epidemic Eating Away Americans' Minds The Silent Epidemic Eating Away Americans' Minds

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

Billy was a bright 10-year-old boy with two Ivy-League-educated parents. He was book smart—got straight A’s in school—but lacked street smarts.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

He was also a poor sport. Billy would frequently lie and cheat when playing board games or participating in team activities and have full-blown meltdowns when he lost. His friends, who had been with him since kindergarten, began losing patience. His parents recognized that something had to be done.

So Billy’s parents brought him to Dr. Victoria Dunckley, a pediatric psychiatrist specializing in screen use.

After a four-week “screen fast” prescribed by Dr. Dunckley, which eliminated all TVs, phones, and video games, Billy’s problems miraculously cleared up. His parents were so pleased that they decided to maintain the fast.

Six months passed, and Billy’s friends were no longer avoiding him, and his sportsmanship had improved markedly. Billy decided to run for class president and delivered a speech, something that would have previously terrified him.

Billy is one of Dr. Dunckley’s many patients whose mental and behavioral problems disappeared once they eliminated or significantly reduced screen time.

Excessive use of screens has become an epidemic silently eroding lives with little resistance. Gallup’s 2012 survey found that around 60 percent of young adults admit to spending too much of their time on the internet; a subsequent survey estimated that 83 percent of smartphone users say they keep their phone near them “almost all the time during their waking hours.”

Screens can overstimulate our brains, resulting in a perpetual, highly stressed, fight-or-flight state. This then makes us prone to meltdowns, depression, and anxiety when even minor changes in the environment occur.

Rising Problem

The initial link between screen time and poor mental health was spotted through generational studies by Jean Twenge, who has a doctorate in psychology and is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.

“I got used to changes that would grow slowly and steadily over time,“ but then after 2010, ”I started to see some changes that were much more sudden—I had really never seen anything like it,” Ms. Twenge said in a TEDx talk.

Around 2010, social media and internet use saw a dramatic increase, followed by an increase in major depression. (The Epoch Times)

Between 2005 and 2012, the change in rates of depressive episodes in teens aged 12 to 17 barely exceeded 1 percent. However, between 2012 and 2017, there was an almost 4 percent increase.

Additionally, fewer teenagers are going outside or reading books, while their time on social media and the internet is dramatically surging.

In 2008, psychotherapist Tom Kersting, who worked as a school counselor for 25 years, saw a rise in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in children over age 8.

ADHD tends to be detected in early childhood after a child starts school. However, he has witnessed increasingly delayed diagnoses in teenagers and adults. While it could be possible that some of these teens were missed by clinicians when they were young, Mr. Kersting suspects that some developed symptoms of ADHD due to screen use.

ADHD diagnosis has been on the rise. (The Epoch Times)

Around 2012, when 30 percent of teenagers had a smartphone, he started to see rebellious behavior and anxiety disorders becoming more common among children. Young adults and teenagers growing up now also tend to be more antisocial and have reduced emotional resilience, which may be related to insufficient in-person socializing due to spending most of their time behind screens.

It’s not just the amount of time spent in the cyber world,” Mr. Kersting told The Epoch Times, “but also what they missed out on: outside play and social learning.”

During the pandemic, adolescents’ screen time doubled.

Few studies investigated internet addiction in children during the pandemic, but a large study done in adults in 2021 showed that adults who were considered at risk of internet addiction were 2.3 times more likely to have depression and 1.9 times more likely to have anxiety than the general population. Furthermore, people with definite or severe addiction were 13 times more likely to have both depression and anxiety.

Fast forward to post-pandemic times, with teachers reporting that the latest generation—Gen Alpha, also known as “iPad kids”—is aggressive, undisciplined, and regulates emotions poorly in the classroom.

Dr. Clifford Sussman, a psychiatrist specializing in screen addiction, has focused his practice on treating this condition due to increasing need. Especially after the pandemic, “demand for help with this issue exploded,” he told The Epoch Times.

How Screens Hook You

Screen activities—whether they include video games, social media, internet scrolling, or video streaming—offer an escape. These activities are also highly stimulating for the brain due to their bright colors and seamless integration into the virtual world, professor and psychotherapist David Rosenfeld at Buenos Aires University told The Epoch Times.

When presented with anything new and exciting, the brain releases dopamine, and anything that induces dopamine release can be addictive. Dopamine produces a feeling of pleasure, while a drop in it is linked to irritability and poor mood.

Dopamine produces a feeling of pleasure, while a drop in it is linked to irritability and poor mood. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

Screen activities have been designed to capture our attention by feeding us regular doses of dopamine. Like playing an immersive video game, giving you a thrill when you level up, defeat a boss, or find a new item, screens entice you to spend more time in the virtual world.

“Video games are governed by microscopic rules,” Bennett Foddy, who teaches game design at New York University’s Game Center, said in the book “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked” by Adam Alter, as excerpted by The Guardian.

These micro-rules can be a “ding” sound or a white flash whenever a character moves over a particular square and are synced to the player’s actions so they feel they were the one who caused it. This micro-feedback generates a sense of reward, hooking people into continuously playing the game.

This system may also explain why interactive screen activities may be more problematic for children than passive screen activities, like watching TV.

Dr. Dunckley has observed that while two hours of TV is linked to signs of dysregulation in children, only 30 minutes of interactive screen activities is stimulating enough for signs to occur.

Many video games also employ strategies used in gambling, such as loot-box rewards, where players are rewarded at random intervals throughout the game. Since players do not know when the next reward drop will come, they are further compelled to play the game—even if they are not enjoying it.

This strategy came from the works of psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner. Skinner put pigeons in a box with a button, rewarding them with food whenever they pressed it. He found that the pigeons rewarded irregularly were more compelled to press the button than those rewarded with every button press.

This compulsion also exists in humans.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/18/2024 - 23:40
Published:1/18/2024 10:57:31 PM
[Politics] Pennsylvania just LOST in federal court over gun law barring 18-20 yr-olds from carrying in state of emergency Pennsylvania actually had a law on the books that barred 18-20 year-olds from carrying a gun in public during a state of emergency. According to Reuters, “while typically unlicensed individuals could still . . . Published:1/18/2024 9:14:20 PM
[Markets] Legal Blow: Hunter's Defense Hammered By Discovery Of Cocaine On Gun Pouch Legal Blow: Hunter's Defense Hammered By Discovery Of Cocaine On Gun Pouch

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

Attorney Abbe Lowell has faced a series of legal blows in his defense of Hunter Biden, but not quite as literal or lethal as what came this week in his client’s gun prosecution.

After Lowell sought to dismiss the federal indictment as a trumped-up political prosecution, the Justice Department lowered the boom and revealed that Hunter’s gun was found in a pouch covered in cocaine.

The disclosure is devastating for a defense that Lowell just rolled out late last year.

In October, Lowell argued that Hunter had not lied on ATF Form 4473 when he indicated he was not an unlawful user of, or addicted to, narcotics.

“At the time that he purchased this gun, I don’t think there’s evidence that that’s when he was suffering,” he said.

It was a curious shift, since Hunter, President Biden and the media have repeatedly used his addiction to forgive everything from corruption to influence-peddling.

Hunter released a book that had laid the foundation of that defense, and “Beautiful Things” was heralded by many in the press.

Reviews gushed about “an astonishingly candid and brave book about loss, human frailty, wayward souls, and hard-fought redemption.”

The image of a clean, redemptive soul is strikingly out of sync with a gun pouch that was reportedly covered in coke.

What is clear is that the sobriety defense now seems as risky as it is implausible.

In the special counsel’s filing, the court was informed that “an FBI chemist subsequently analyzed the residue and determined that it was cocaine. To be clear, investigators literally found drugs on the pouch where the defendant had kept his gun.”

Hunter bought and possessed the Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver for 11 days between Oct. 12 and Oct. 23, 2018.

That possession ended when his sister-in-law Hallie Biden tossed the firearm into a dumpster in Wilmington, Delaware.

Hallie, the widow of Hunter’s deceased brother, had begun a sexual relationship with him and she apparently became concerned about what he might do with the gun.

According to Hunter’s own memoir, that would make the window of sobriety a mere blink in time for a defense.

The defense will likely challenge the admissibility of police testing due to the gun being tossed into the dumpster.

Of course, Lowell can now argue that Wilmington dumpsters are so saturated with cocaine that any item would come out covered in coke.

It is more likely that they will cite the break in the chain of custody as making the test unreliable and prejudicial.

What is clear is that the sobriety defense now may be as risky as it is implausible.

The government could argue that it should be able to use the testing as circumstantial evidence to rebut the claim or even impeach Hunter if he takes the stand (which seems unlikely).

Hunter wrote about being a crack addict and alcoholic throughout this period, writing in his book that at some points he was “drinking a quart of vodka a day by yourself in a room is absolutely, completely debilitating” as was “smoking crack around the clock.”

The most pressing problem is not the government portraying Hunter as Tony Montana from “Scarface,” it’s Hunter himself.

He’ll have a tough time changing that story now.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/18/2024 - 19:00
Published:1/18/2024 6:33:51 PM
[Markets] Jim Jordan Demands Answers After Biden Admin Caught Flagging "MAGA" And "Trump" To Track Political Opponents' Financial Transactions Jim Jordan Demands Answers After Biden Admin Caught Flagging "MAGA" And "Trump" To Track Political Opponents' Financial Transactions

Jim Jordan, Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on Wednesday, announced that it had obtained documents revealing that federal agencies have flagged financial transactions for financial institutions for people using politically sensitive words such as "MAGA" and Trump."

In a letter to Noah Bishoff - who was a former FinCEN Director (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) - and now an Anti Money Laundering (AML) officer at fintech company Plaid, Inc. Jordan described situations in which Americans buying bibles or shopping at sporting good stores might find their transactions flagged.

New documents obtained by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government reveal that the federal government flagged terms like "MAGA" and "TRUMP" for financial institutions if Americans used those phrases when completing transactions. Individuals who shopped at stores like Cabela's or Dick's Sporting Goods, or purchased religious texts like a bible, may also have had their transactions flagged. This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with and at the request of federal law enforcement, into Americans' private transactions is alarming and raises serious concerns about the FBI's respect for fundamental civil liberties. -Judiciary.house.gov

"The Committee and Select Subcommittee have obtained documents indicating that following January 6, 2021, FinCEN distributed materials to financial institutions that, among other things, outline the 'typologies' of various persons of interest and provide financial institutions with suggested search terms and Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) for identifying transactions on behalf of federal law enforcement," reads the letter.

"These materials included a document recommending the use of generic terms like 'TRUMP' and 'MAGA' to 'search Zelle payment messages' as well as a 'prior FinCEN analysis' of 'Lone Actor/Homegrown Violent Extremism Indicators," the letter continues. "According to this analysis, FinCEN warned financial institutions of 'extremism' indicators that include 'transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel to areas with no apparent purpose,' or 'the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.' In other words, FinCEN urged large financial institutions to comb through the private transactions of their customers for suspicious charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression."

The Committee announced that it's seeking interviews with senior intelligence officials, including Bishoff.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/17/2024 - 19:05
Published:1/17/2024 6:16:23 PM
[World] [Eugene Volokh] Can the Government Say: If You Want to Sell Us These Products, You Must Answer Our Questions About Them? No, said the Fifth Circuit, at least when the products were library books, and the questions were about whether the books included sexual content. Published:1/17/2024 4:17:34 PM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:1/17/2024 7:11:22 AM
[] Falling Down the Rathole of Polyamory Published:1/15/2024 3:44:01 PM
[Markets] Biden Angry With Republicans Trying To Stop Kids Seeing Gay Porn Biden Angry With Republicans Trying To Stop Kids Seeing Gay Porn

Authored by Steve Watson via Modernity.news,

During a radio interview, Joe Biden expressed disbelief that Republicans have a problem with gay porn books being made available to children as young as six years old in schools across the country.

Biden claimed that Republicans are trying to ban books, a tactic that has been repeatedly used to downplay the fact that sexually explicit material and books promoting transgenderism are being placed in school libraries.

“The idea that you can be told that you can’t read certain books. This is the United States of America, for God’s sake!” Biden stated.

He added “These guys are afraid of the truth!”

As we have repeatedly highlighted, the specific books being referred to, titles such as Gender Queer and All Boys Are Blue, contain overtly sexual themes and pornographic imagery.

Even the author of Gender Queer admitted that the book is not suitable for children.

Biden and the Democrats keep pushing the lie that Conservatives are on a quest to ban books.

When asked about the subject, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz claimed that “they’re trying to ban Charlotte’s Web,” which is not true.

We have previously noted that Walz has overseen efforts to enshrine transgender surgery on children as a legal right in his state.

*  *  *

Your support is crucial in helping us defeat mass censorship. Please consider donating via Locals or check out our unique merch. Follow us on X @ModernityNews

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/15/2024 - 12:35
Published:1/15/2024 12:09:06 PM
[World] Sunday Thoughts: 'The Bible Is Good Like That' Published:1/14/2024 11:11:10 AM
[Markets] Ray Epps' 'Sentence' Is "A Thunderous F**k You" To Half Of America Ray Epps' 'Sentence' Is "A Thunderous F**k You" To Half Of America

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Poison Spiders At The Center Of The Web

“The same people accusing Trump voters of subverting democracy are the ones who cheated in every election since the 1960s, lied to get us into half a dozen stupid wars, created Covid in a lab, and then covered that up. You are free to tell them to STFU”

- Peachy Keenan

You know why the judge let provocateur Ray Epps off the hook for his antics before and during the so-called J-6 “insurrection,” don’t you? Well, yes, it was partly because he was acting at the direction of blob officials, most likely the FBI, but possibly the CIA, Defense Intelligence, or some black-box fed outfit no one ever of (but somehow gets half a billion in funding every year). Ol’ Ray, pleaded to one year’s probation (no jail time), 100 hours of community service (checking books out at his local library?), and a $500 fine. Say, what. . . ? A speeding ticket on the Rockville Pike would probably cost you more.

You remember those videos of Ray on the DC street the day before the riot, importuning the crowd, a commanding presence with his military bearing and red hat, six inches taller than most of the other men around him, yelling, “Tomorrow we need to go into the Capitol, into the Capitol!”  At which moment the crowd groaned “no-o-o-o. . . !” and then commenced chanting, “fed. . . fed. . . fed. . . !” They had his number. His use of the word need was especially beguiling, as in, who actually “needed” that to happen?

I’ll tell you one reason Ray didn’t get, like, twenty years, nor two years of pre-trial detention in the reeking, roach-infested DC lockup, or massive fines, like other J-6 defendants: Because he told his handlers in no uncertain terms that he would blow their cover and vivisect them publicly on the whole fed J-6 operation if they so much as made him show up in person for any proceeding - and, of course, he “attended” his sentencing by phone, in a Zoom meeting from a remote location.

Okay, I’ll tell you the actual reason that Ray Epps got the VIP powder puff treatment: It was to give half of America a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. . . the old double-barreled middle finger. . . a thunderous fuck you, with the subtext: we can do anything we want to you and you can’t do anything about it. . . and we can rub your faces in it, too, ho ho. . . and then empty a bed pan over your head in case you’re not feeling sufficiently impotent and humiliated. And the purpose of all that is their hope to foment some act of genuine violent resistance against the blob to justify further lawless persecution of the blob’s enemies. They’re really hoping to set off a civil war to justify martial law in order to ensure a free and fair election.

The judge in the Ray Epps case is. . . wait for it. . . the fabulous judicial utility infielder, James Boasberg, now Chief Judge of the DC Federal District Court, a big cheese. Yes, the same rascal who sat on the FISA Court during the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” shenanigans, when they fed all manner of fake documents to that court to enable the FBI to conduct warrantless surveillance on Donald Trump’s campaign, and then afterwards on his presidency.

It was Judge Boasberg who let FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith off the hook with probation when he was charged with doctoring an email to conceal the fact that FBI target Carter Page had been an active CIA informer in Russia over the years, not just some schlub swanning around the fringe of the Trump Campaign. Getting a FISA warrant on Carter Page was tremendously advantageous to the FBI, because it enabled them to use the “three-hop rule,” meaning they could also surveil anyone else in the Trump retinue who Mr. Page had communicated with by phone or email.

The disposition of Ray Epps’s case also means there will be no further official inquiries into his behavior that fateful day 1/6/21.

The principle of double jeopardy means he can’t be tried for the same thing twice. There will be no further inquiries into what he did that day and on J-6 itself when he appeared at the barricades on the Capitol grounds, apparently goading protesters to bust through them. It’s a dead letter. Chalk up a “W” for the blob

But now, chalk up an “L” for the blob: Fani Willis, the Fulton County (GA) District Attorney, has been caught funneling more than half a million dollars to her love bunny, attorney Nathan Wade, after appointing him “special counsel” in the gigantic RICO case against Donald Trump and eighteen other defendants. Poor optics, as they say, and maybe a good deal more than that — such as prosecutorial misconduct. The fact that the lovestruck pair took Caribbean cruises together with that money may only be a minor part of the story. More will come out when Fani Willis answers the summons she has been served to give a deposition at the request of Joycelyn Wade’s lawyers in the Wades’ ongoing divorce proceeding.

More to the point, both Fani Willis and Nathan Wade (in her service) spent time consulting with lawyers at the White House before they filed charges against Mr. Trump. Mr. Wade was there on May 23 and November 19, 2022 talking to Joe Biden’s White House counsel for sixteen hours. Ms. Willis is shown by White House visitor logs to have been present for five hours a few months later, on February 18, 2023, a week after recommending charges to a Fulton County grand jury. The log states that she spent those five hours with veep Kamala Harris.

I doubt that is who she came to visit.

My guess is that Ms. Willis spent those hours being coached by Deputy US Attorney General Lisa Monaco, possibly joined by Mary McCord, a former head of the DOJ’s National Security division during the “Crossfire Hurricane” years, then “outside counsel” to the first House impeachment committee, then counsel to the House J-6 committee. It was Ms. McCord, in Trump Impeachment # 1, who arranged for then DOJ Inspector General Michael Atkinson to change the whistleblower rules, allowing for hearsay evidence, which gave a green light to NSA mole Eric Ciaramella to report on the infamous Ukraine phone call that he had not personally witnessed (but was fed a story on by Col. Alexander Vindman.) Nice work there. In other words, these two gals, Lisa Monaco and Mary McCord, are the poison spiders in the DOJ web of veteran seditionists.

This week there is also chatter as to whether Special Counsel Jack Smith might ever actually bring an official federal “insurrection” charge against Mr. Trump to facilitate his “branding” so as to get him kicked off the ballot around the country. I doubt that’ll work out for Mr. Smith, too.

If such a matter ever went to trial Mr. Trump would enjoy the right to “discovery” of all sorts of evidence that the DOJ and the FBI would never allow to see the light of day.

So, Jack’s stuck with his lame cases now on the docket which, believe me, will be going nowhere.

*  *  *

Support his blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page or Substack

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/12/2024 - 16:20
Published:1/12/2024 3:44:58 PM
[Markets] Johns Hopkins Rescinds DEI Memo Calling White, Christian, English-Speaking People 'Privileged' Johns Hopkins Rescinds DEI Memo Calling White, Christian, English-Speaking People 'Privileged'

Via The College Fix,

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on Wednesday rescinded an email sent recently from its diversity, equity and inclusion chief that called white, Christian, English-speaking people privileged, among several other “social identity groups,” according to screenshots of the memo posted on X.

Others listed on the privileged list included: able-bodied people, heterosexuals, cisgender people, middle or owning class people, and middle-aged people.

The January 2024 memo was sent Dr. Sherita Golden, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s chief diversity officer and a professor of medicine, who listed “privilege” as the “diversity word of the month.”

It was sent to employees, according to End Wokeness, the X account that posted the screenshots.

The DEI memo stated in part that “privileges are unearned and are granted to people in the dominant groups whether they want that privilege or not, and regardless of their stated intent.”

The post on X went viral — viewed more than 29 million times in the span of 24 hours — and was widely ridiculed.

The top comment stated:

“Black female Chief Diversity Officers are more privileged than nearly everyone covered under that list. They’re paid far more than the average middle class person, and they have the privilege of being hired and treated above criticism because of their race and sex.”

Another popular response stated:

“Middle aged people? So now just being alive makes you an oppressor?”

The post even prompted a reaction from Elon Musk, who stated:

“This must end!”

The backlash prompted Golden to apologize for her memo, a screenshot of which was also posted on X by the End Wokeness account.

She called her letter “overly simplistic and poorly worded” and retracted the memo, which she acknowledged was “hurtful.”

In a statement Thursday to The National Desk, a Johns Hopkins Medicine spokesperson said the memo did not represent its values:

“The January edition of the monthly newsletter from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity used language that contradicts the values of Johns Hopkins as an institution. Dr. Sherita Golden, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Chief Diversity Officer, has sincerely acknowledged this mistake and retracted the language used in the message.”

Johns Hopkins is no stranger to advancing DEI, with anti-racism and racial justice trainings and a recommended reading list of progressive, pro-critical race theory books, for example.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/12/2024 - 12:40
Published:1/12/2024 11:52:12 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post paperback bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:1/10/2024 8:07:07 AM
[Markets] 'Science' In The Service Of The Agenda 'Science' In The Service Of The Agenda

Authored by Robert Malone via The Brownstone Institute,

Starting in the mid-20th century, companies began distorting and manipulating science to favor specific commercial interests.

Big tobacco is both the developer and the poster child of this strategy.

When strong evidence that smoking caused lung cancer emerged in the 1950s, the tobacco industry began a campaign to obscure this fact.

The Unmaking of Science

The tobacco industry scientific disinformation campaign sought to disrupt and delay further studies, as well as to cast scientific doubt on the link between cigarette smoking and harms. This campaign lasted for almost 50 years, and was extremely successful…until it wasn’t.

This tobacco industry’s strategic brilliance lay in the use of a marketing and advertising campaign (otherwise known as propaganda) to create scientific uncertainty and sow doubts in the minds of the general public. This, combined with legislative “lobbying” and strategic campaign “donations” undermined public health efforts and regulatory interventions to inform the public about the harms of smoking and the regulation of tobacco products.

Disrupting normative science has become a de rigueur component of the pharmaceutical industry business model. A new pharmaceutical product is not based on need; it is based on market size and profitability. When new data threatens the market of a pharmaceutical product, then that pharma company will try to sprout the seeds of scientific uncertainty and lack of proof. For instance, clinical trials can be easily coopted to meet specified end-points positive for the drug products. Other ways to manipulate a clinical trial include manipulating the dosing schedule and amounts. As these practices have been exposed, people no longer trust the science.

Fast forward to the present, and the entire industry of evidence-based (and academic) medicine is now suspect due to the malfeasance of certain pharma players. In the case of Covid-19, Pharma propaganda and cooptation practices have now compromised the regulatory bodies controlling the pharma product licensing and deeply damaged global public confidence in those agencies.

We all know what climate change is. The truth is that the UN, most globalists, and a wide range of world leaders” blame human activities for climate change. Whether or not climate change is real or that human activities are enhancing climate change is not important to this discussion. That is a subject for another day.

Most climate change scientists receive funding from the government. So they must comply with the government edict and policy position that human activity-caused climate change is an existential threat to both humankind and global ecosystems. When these “scientists” publish studies supporting the thesis that human activities cause climate change, they are more likely to receive more grant monies and therefore more publications and therefore are more likely to be academically promoted (or at least to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of modern academe).

Those who produce a counternarrative from the government-approved one soon find themselves without funding, tenure, without jobs, unable to publish and unable to procure additional grants and contracts. It is a dead-end career wise. The system has been rigged.

And by the way, this is nothing new. Back in the day, during the war on drugs, if a researcher who had funding by the NIH’s NIDA (National Institute of Drug Addiction) published an article or wrote an annual NIH grant report showing benefits to using recreational drugs, that would be a career-ending move, as funding would not be renewed and new funding would never materialize. Remember, the NIH peer-review system only triages grants; it does not actually chose who receives grant money.

The administrative state at NIH does that! And anything that went against the war on drugs was considered a war on the government. Funding denied. This little truth bomb was conveyed to me – word of mouth – many years ago by a researcher and Professor who specialized in drug addiction research. Nothing printed, all heresay. Because that is how the system works. A whisper campaign. A whiff of a message on the wind.

The ends justify the means.

The new wrinkle in what has now happened with corrupted climate change activism/propaganda/”science” is that the manipulation of research is crossing disciplines. No longer satisfied with oppressing climate change scientists, climate change narrative enforcers have moved into the nutritional sciences. This trend of crossing disciplines portends death for the overall independence of any scientific endeavors. A creeping corruption into adjacent disciplines. Because climate change activists, world leaders, research institutions, universities, and governments are distorting another branch of science outside of climate science. They are using the bio-sciences, specifically nutrition science, to support the climate change agenda. It is another whole-of-government response to the crisis, just like with Covid-19.

Just like with the tobacco industry’s scientific disinformation campaign, they are distorting health research to make the case that eating meat is dangerous to humans. Normal standards for publication have been set aside. The propaganda is thick and easily spotted.

As the NIH is now funding researchers to find associations between climate change and health, it is pretty clear that those whose research is set up to find such associations will be funded. Hence, once again, the system is rigged to support the climate change narrative.

The standard approach for nutritional research is based on a food-frequency and portion questionnaire – usually kept as a diary. The nutrient intake from this observational data set is then associated with disease incidence. Randomized interventional clinical trials are not done due to expense and bioethical considerations.

The problem is that the confounding variables in such studies are hard to control. If obese people eat more, would their intake of meat be more or less in proportion to dietary calories? What do they eat in combination? What about culture norms, combined with genetic drivers of disease? Age? Geo-considerations? The list of confounding variables is almost never ending. Garbage in, garbage out.

We have all witnessed how these studies get used to promulgate one point of view or another.

It’s not just within the context of red meat. The same thing happens over and over. We get dietary recommendations put together by expert committees and the data are reviewed. But when subsequent, so-called systematic reviews of specific recommendations take place, the data don’t meet reliability standards…

Yes, available information is mostly based on studies of association rather than causation, using methods that fall short of proving chronic disease effects, especially in view of the crucial dietary measurement issues. The whole gestalt produces reports that seem very uncertain in terms of the standards that are applied elsewhere in the scientific community for reliable evidence.

Dr. Ross Prentice, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Some Recent “Peer Reviewed” Academic Publications on Climate Change and Diet:

Enter climate change regulations, laws, and goals – such as those found in UN Agenda 2030. Enter globalists determined to buy up farmland to control prices, agriculture, and eating trends. Enter politics into our food supplies and even the science of nutrition What a mess.

Below are some of the more outlandish claims being made in the name of climate science and nutrition. The United Nations’s World Food Program writes:

The climate crisis is one of the leading causes of the steep rise in global hunger.?Climate shocks destroy lives, crops and livelihoods, and undermine people’s ability to feed themselves.?Hunger will spiral out of control if the world fails to take immediate climate action. 

Note that “Climate shocks” have always existed and will always exist. The existence of readily observed (and easily propagandized) human tragedies associated with hurricanes, fires, and droughts are embedded throughout the entire archaeological record of human existence. This is nothing new in either written human history or prehistory. This does not equate to a pressing existential human crisis.

In fact, reviewing the evidence of calories and protein available reveals a very different trend. Over time, per capita caloric and protein supplies have increased almost across the board.

The prevalence of undernourishment is the leading indicator of food availability. The chart below shows that the world still has a significant issue with poverty and food stability, but it is not increasing. If anything, people are better nourished in countries with extreme poverty than they were 20 years ago.

*Note the Covid crisis has most likely exacerbated extreme poverty and undernourishment, but those results for the 2021-2023 years are not (yet?) available.

Despite clear and compelling evidence that climate change is not impacting on food availability or undernutrition, websites, news stories, and research literature all make tenuous assertions about how the climate change “crisis” is causing starvation.

These are from the front search page on Google for “climate change starvation:”

But the actual data documents something different.

This is not to say that that the poorest nations in the world don’t have issues with famine; they do. It is an issue, but not a climate change issue. It is a gross distortion of available data and any objective scientific analysis of those data to assert otherwise.

The best way to stop famine is to ensure that countries have adequate energy and resources to grow their own food supply, and have a domestic manufacturing base. That means independent energy sources.

If the United Nations and the wealthy globalists at the WEF truly want to help nations with high poverty and famine rates and reduce our immigration pressure, they would help them secure stable energy sources. They would help them develop their natural gas and other hydrocarbon projects. Then they could truly feed themselves. They could attain independence.

Famine is not a climate change issue; it is an energy issue. Apples and oranges. This is not “scientific.” Rather, it is yet more weaponized fear porn being used as a Trojan horse to advance hidden political and economic objectives and agendas of political movements, large corporations, and non-governmental organizations.

Facts matter.

*  *  *

Republished from the author’s Substack

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/09/2024 - 17:00
Published:1/9/2024 4:26:39 PM
[Markets] "This Is Not A Time For Us To Have A Mentally-Challenged President" "This Is Not A Time For Us To Have A Mentally-Challenged President"

Authored by Mike McDaniel via AmericanThinker.com,

Joe Biden At Valley Forge: Triumph Of The Shill II

Well, he did it again. 

Speaking near Valley Forge, PA, President Joe Biden delivered a follow up to his red-tinged “Triumph of the Shill” speech. The New York Post explains: 

President Biden kicked off his bid for re-election Friday by deriding former President Donald Trump as a “loser”and calling his bid for a political comeback something out of a “bad fairy tale” Friday — prompting his predecessor to fire back that the 80-year-old is a “true threat to democracy.”

As one would expect on the anniversary of Democrats/socialists/communists’ (D/s/cs) high holy day, we learned, yet again, how very, very close we came to losing America:

Valley Forge “tells the story of the pain and the suffering and the true patriotism it took to make America,” Biden, 81, began his first proper 2024 campaign speech.

“Today, we gather in a new year, some 246 years later, just one day before January 6 — a date forever seared in our memory because it was on that day that we nearly lost America, lost it all.”

Image: Erie Railroad Train Wreck. Wikimedia Commons.org. Public Domain.

I’m sure China, Iran and our other enemies are paying close attention. They don’t need massive militaries with nuclear weapons to conquer America, only a minor riot by unarmed citizens, provoked by the FBI, that lasts an hour or so.

Trump’s assault on democracy isn’t just part of his past, it’s what he’s promising for the future. He’s being straightforward. He’s not hiding the ball,” Biden said.

“His first rally for the 2024 campaign opened with a choir of January 6 insurrectionists singing from prison on a cellphone while images of the January 6 riot playing on the big screen behind him at his rally. Can you believe that? This was like something out of a fairy tale — a bad fairy tale.”

What were those horrid insurrectionists singing? The Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem. The horror.

“Let’s be clear about the 2020 election: Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the outcome — every one. But the legal path just took Trump back to the truth that I’d won the election and he was a loser,” Biden said to hoots and applause.

Gropin’, sniffin’ Joe forgot to mention not a single court actually heard evidence, which makes for rather a dead end “legal avenue.”

He also forgot to mention Trump quietly, and on time, left office as the Constitution requires. What a pathetic dictator.

“Well, knowing how his mind works, he had one act left, one desperate act available to him: the violence of January the 6th,” Biden said, “and since that day, more than 1,200 people have been charged for their assault on the Capitol, nearly 900 of them have been convicted or pled guilty.”

To more cheers, he added, “Collectively to date, they have been sentenced to more than 840 years in prison.”

Rational Americans might think Biden’s glee in destroying the lives of more than 1000 Americans for what amounts to misdemeanor trespassing--normally a ticketable offense--doesn’t really live up to his endless rhetoric about uniting America.

“He calls those who oppose him ‘vermin.’ He talks about the blood of Americans being poisoned, echoing the same exact language used in Nazi Germany.  He proudly posted on social media the words that best describe his 2024 campaign, ‘revenge,’ ‘power,’ ‘dictatorship.’  There’s no confusion about who Trump is and what he intends to do,” Biden said.

“You can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American,” the president added at one point — insisting that unlike Trump “our campaign is about preserving and strengthening our American democracy.”

“The protection and preservation of American democracy will remain as it has been the central cause of my presidency,” Biden went on before turning his wrath on Trump’s allies in Congress.

There it is again: “our American democracy,” by which Biden means a tyranny of the majority. 

The words “constitutional, representative republic,” which is what America is, never escape his lips.

Donald Trump replied:

“This is not a time for us to have a mentally challenged president,” the former president said, adding that “the only insurrection is the insurrection that is taking place at our border where he is allowing millions of people from parts unknown to invade our country at a level far worse than even a military invasion.”

“Biden’s record is an unbroken streak of weakness, incompetence, corruption and failure, other than that he’s doing quite well, isn’t he? That’s a hell of a hell of a list, right? That’s why Crooked Joe is staging his pathetic, fear-mongering campaign event in Pennsylvania today. Did you see him? He was stuttering through the whole thing, he’s going, ‘He’s a threat to Democracy,’” Trump said. 

Biden’s remarks are a preview of his second basement campaign, and a continuing act of desperation.

The 2024 campaign will be one for the record books, if America survives to write them.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/06/2024 - 17:30
Published:1/6/2024 5:01:08 PM
[Markets] "Disturbing": Doctors Call For Withdrawal Of Psychiatry Textbook Promoting 'Gender-Affirming' Care "Disturbing": Doctors Call For Withdrawal Of Psychiatry Textbook Promoting 'Gender-Affirming' Care

Authored by Darlene McCormick Sanchez via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Nearly 170 health professionals have signed an open letter to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) condemning its new “gender-affirming” care textbook as “unacceptable, unethical and unsafe.”

Detransitioners and their supporteres gather outside of the annual conference of the Pediatric Endocrine Society in San Diego, Calif., on May 6, 2023. (John Fredicks/The Epoch Times)

Their open letter to the organization appears on the website of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, a free speech and civil liberties watchdog group. The signatories demand that the APA “explain why it glaringly ignored many scientific developments in gender-related care and to consider its responsibility to promote and protect patients’ safety, mental and physical health.”

The letter calls for the APA to suspend publication of the textbook, “Gender-Affirming Psychiatric Care,” released on Nov. 8. The textbook is intended to be used as a teaching tool for doctors in training.

We seek an unbiased scientific investigation and discussion of the harms and benefits of all types of care offered to those with gender-related distress,” the letter states. “Until those concerns are addressed and the textbook’s errors corrected, we call on the APA for its withdrawal.”

Within 24 hours, more than 700 additional names had been added to the list of signatories.

The APA did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.

Study Findings In Question

The tome’s foreword declares it to be “the first textbook dedicated to providing affirming, intersectional, and evidence-informed psychiatric care for transgender, non-binary, and/or gender-expansive (TNG) people.”

Its 26 chapters are written by 56 authors, 50 of whom either identify as transgender or don’t identify as male or female, according to the foreword.

But other health professionals are questioning the wisdom of relying on the authors’ personal experiences, just because of their gender identities.

They also object to backing up those testimonies with limited scientific studies, some with heartily disputed results.

The textbook also presents neo-Marxist critical theories focused on calling out the so-called oppression of particular identity groups, critics point out.

Yet the textbook will be seen as a gold standard of care because it comes with the considerable clout of the APA behind it, concerned doctors told The Epoch Times.

That’s despite the fact that the textbook presents as evidence some studies that have come under fire for being flawed.

Those include the famous Dutch protocol study that became the basis for recommending puberty suppression, the use of cross-sex hormones, and other “gender-affirmative” procedures for people who identify as the opposite sex.

Transgender activists say puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery can save the lives of gender-confused adults and children who may feel suicidal.

Others dispute that idea. And new research backs up that way of thinking.

A recent Finnish study found that mental health issues for people who medically “transition” continue despite receiving “gender-affirming” care. An analysis of data showed the need for psychiatric care was greater for people with gender dysphoria, both before and after medical transitioning, when compared to a control group.

Millions of Children at Risk

The signature of Dr. Lauren Schwartz, a psychiatrist in Oklahoma, appears first on the letter. She worries that using the textbook to train doctors could lead to harming millions of children, she told The Epoch Times.

She and fellow professionals hope their letter will raise awareness among parents and providers on “how radically the American Psychiatric Association has shifted away from medicine and science in the publication of this book,” she said.

“There are so many false, harmful statements—ones rooted not in medicine or science, but in an inconceivable ideological foundation and medical misinformation, both of which will harm patients and their families,” she wrote in a text message.

Other professionals who signed the letter include psychiatrists Miriam Grossman and Az Hakeem. Both have written books denouncing transgender ideology.

Dr. Grossman, a childhood and adolescent psychiatrist, wrote “Lost in Trans Nation: A Child Psychiatrist’s Guide Out of the Madness.” Her book excoriates gender ideology as a repudiation of reality and a mockery of basic male and female biology. She has been outspoken against transitioning children.

Dr. Hakeem, a London psychiatrist, formerly worked at the Tavistock gender clinic. He is the author of “Detrans: When Transition is Not the Solution,” which argues that no one is born in the “wrong body.”

He maintains that transitioning becomes a “false solution to a different problem” at a time of increasing pressure to affirm a person’s belief that he or she was born the wrong sex.

The idea of affirming gender confusion and medically altering a person’s body to fit a new gender identity is under scrutiny from clinicians and scientists worldwide.

Yet, those methods are recommended by the book’s authors.

Critics of the textbook argue in their letter that reviews of gender-affirming care in Sweden and England also did not support the idea that transitioning improves the mental health of patients.

They point out that the textbook relies on“evidence-informed” information, instead of the scientific standard that typically requires evidence-based information.

And they question why the textbook dismisses the idea of scientific neutrality and depends, instead, on the “lived experiences” and “community impact” of authors who identify as transgender.

A new textbook published by the American Psychiatric Association. (Courtesy of Dr. Lauren Schwartz)

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, board chairman of the Do No Harm organization, said he signed the letter because his organization is concerned about potential harm to children.

New evidence out of Europe indicates that medically “transitioning” children to help them try to resemble the opposite sex is doing more harm than good, he told The Epoch Times.

We don’t have any study that shows that this is long-term beneficial,” he said.

And the Dutch studies finding that “gender-affirming” care helped people with gender dysphoria or confusion were not successfully duplicated by researchers in England, Dr. Goldfarb said.

The newest studies coming out of Europe suggest that what’s best for children with gender dysphoria is intensive, long-term psychiatric care before any medical intervention, he said.

The lack of acknowledgment of the latest scientific research in the textbook is, he said, “quite extraordinary.”

Dangerous Decisions

While adults can make their own decisions, children lack the maturity to make life-altering changes to their bodies, Dr. Goldfarb said. And the risk of harm for children taking puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones is real and serious.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, board chairman of Do No Harm. (Courtesy of Do No Harm)

Puberty blockers stop the development of the sexual reproductive system, meaning children who don’t go through puberty would never fully develop sexuality. They’re also likely to lose the ability to have children, he said.

It sort of depends on how far into puberty they are before they start blocking its progression,” he said. “It depends on how many hormones they take and for how long they take it.”

Dr. Goldfarb and other health professionals objecting to the textbook take issue with the authors’ assertion that puberty blockers for children are “fully reversible.”

And the textbook is “disturbingly nonchalant,” the letter states, about the high rate of mental and behavioral health issues simultaneously affecting people with gender dysphoria. Autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and suicidal thoughts often coincide with gender dysphoria in youths.

The textbook is “disturbing,” said Alan Hopewell, a prescribing neuropsychologist in Texas with experience treating transgender-identifying patients.

He told The Epoch Times, “This is nonsensical gibberish which has no foundation whatsoever in science.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/05/2024 - 05:00
Published:1/5/2024 4:17:00 AM
[] Hello, 911? Kurt Schlichter Obliterates Rachel Bitecofer for Attacking His Military Service Published:1/3/2024 7:07:09 AM
[Entertainment] Washington Post hardcover bestsellers A snapshot of popular books. Published:1/3/2024 7:07:09 AM
[Markets] 2023 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead 2023 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2022, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as the sheer breadth of stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments made 2022 the most memorable year yet in our brief but turbulent history. This proved accurate: while 2023 did have a seemingly endless variety of social, economic, political, geopolitical and of course, financial and market, drama, the unprecedented onslaught of 2022 - which saw both the deadliest and most consequential global war since WWII and a historic inflationary onslaught - simply proved too great to beat.... although we are confident that's only because the newsflow was merely resting ahead of 2024 when, thanks to a record number of elections across the world...

... not to mention what may well be the most consequential presidential election in US history, the coming avalanche of news and propaganda will be sheer insanity, especially since the Fed has made its long awaited dovish pivot without successfully stamping out inflation first. So in retrospect, 2023 being somewhat tame by recent standards may have been a good thing: it allowed everyone to rest ahead of the main event.

And speaking of the worst inflation in 40 years, it didn't take long for our second major prediction to come true: as we said exactly one year ago the "simplest forecast about the coming year is that 2023 will be the year when something finally breaks." That's exactly what happened just three months later when the rapidly rising rates catalyzed the worst banking crisis in the US banking sector since the Lehman collapse. As the Fed raised rates, the value of banks' bond portfolios fell, and those whose balance sheets were smaller - so pretty much all but the "Big 4" - found themselves in a toxic spiral of bank runs and asset liquidations, which culminated with virtually every small and regional bank on the verge of collapse, and some - such as the two largest California banks (those overseen by the "woke" San Fran Fed whose boss is the LGBTQueen of diversity, if not bank supervision, Mary Daly) First Republic, and Silicon Valley bank, as well as NY's premium client-focused Signature Bank - were dragged into the vortex of bank insolvency, leading to over $500 billion in bank assets failing in a matter of days, matching the record from the global financial crisis.

It was this "break" which culminated with the worst bank run and largest bank failures in 15 years - not to mention the overnight failure of Credit Suisse, the 167-year-old second largest Swiss bank that was bought by UBS for pennies (literally) thanks to Swiss taxpayers once again stuck footing the bill and holding the radioactive garbage - that preemptively ended the Fed's tightening cycle (even if rate hikes continued for another 6 or so months, if only for optical reasons) and marked the end of the Fed's reserve reduction...

... which also triggered the start of the next bull market.

Indeed, after bottoming around 3800 on March 10, the Fed's intervention to prevent further bank contagion was all the market needed to know that the "Fed put" had been triggered, and the S&P closed the year 1000 points higher, less than a percent from the all time highs.

Another prediction about 2023 that came true is that as "the past three years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected." And sure enough, books will be written (and certainly articles in the WSJ, Bloomberg and Zerohedge) about just how wrong everyone was: Exhibit A is this Goldman chart from January 2023, showing that "this is arguably the most widely anticipated recession."

Well, 2023 has come and gone and the recession-defining NBER remained quiet, with the US economy seemingly avoiding the contractionary fate of its European peers (at least on a "seasonally adjusted" basis), and as the recession was averted so was the bear market that so many strategists were certain was inevitable. It wasn't just the recession that never officially materialized (hold that thought): as Bloomberg wrote , "all across Wall Street, on equities desks and bond desks, at giant firms and niche outfits, the mood was glum. It was the end of 2022 and everyone, it seemed, was game-planning for the recession they were convinced was coming.... blended together, three calls — sell US stocks, buy Treasuries, buy Chinese stocks — formed the consensus view on Wall Street." And, as always happens, consensus on Wall Street proved to be wrong again.

But was consensus really wrong? As usual, the answer is nuanced, because while on the surface the economy grew at a brisk pace, the reason for this growth was anything but benign, and as we explained in July, the catalyst behind the "miracle of Bidenomics" was a $1 trillion debt-funded "stealth" stimulus which pushed the US budget deficit above its $1 trillion trendline to crisis/wartime levels, up 50% from the previous year, and rising to a mindblowing $2 trillion for fiscal 2023 just behind the covid crisis years of 2020 and 2021.

And while this "era of fiscal excess" as Bank of America's Michael Hartnett laconically called the current period, noting that in the past 12 months the US government has spent $6.6 trillion, would - in theory at least - assure perpetual growth as long as one could issue ever more debt and pretend it was "growth", in 2023 the US finally hit a historic milestone: $1 trillion in interest expense for the first time ever.

That was a huge problem, because once spending on just US interest surpassed the entire US defense budget, people started to notice. It's also why, with 10Y yields hitting 5% and putting the entire "dollar as a reserve currency" monetary hegemonic status quo in jeopardy as runaway debt interest threatened to blow up the perpetual engine that had made US superpower status in the past half century - that would be unconstrained US debt spending - possible, the Fed had no other choice but to pivot dovishly, just as we predicted in the waning days of 2022...

... which is what the Fed did in December 2023 - even as core inflation remains double the Fed's 2% target - prompting speculation that the Fed has stealthily raised its long-standing 2% inflation target to 3% or even 4%, and thereby setting the state for the blow-off top in inflation some time in 2024 as the ghost of Arthur Burns finally comes home to roost in the Marriner Eccles buildng.

Of course, the inevitable end of the inflation story (at least until the much more exciting sequel begins some time in 2024), had profound reverberations elsewhere, and as headline CPI dropped, wage growth - the BLS told us - surpassed inflation for the first time since the post-covid recovery began in the second half of 2020.

While this would be great news for Biden as the 2024 election season kicks off and the "Big Guy" goes all in on his re-election campaign, there was just one problem: people either didn't believe the data or just didn't care. Indeed, most Americans, and especially swing-state voters, remained glum about the economy, and 52% of voters in these states rated the economy “poor” in closely watched polls this fall, with another 29% saying it was “only fair.”

In short, Bidenomics was a dud, which is also why the White House started taking pages straight out of the Goebbels propaganda playbook. Yet what was bizarre if not outright paradoxical, is that US consumer spending remained high, especially on services such as concerts from Beyonce and Taylor Swift to movies like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”

Adding to the puzzle is that just as spending hit all-time highs, consumer confidence plunged to new, record lows.

Many were confused over what accounted for the disconnect: persistently high prices? Recession fears? The “vibecession”? Whatever the explanation, voters’ feelings about the economy, and Joe Biden’s handling of it, will be decisive in the 2024 election, especially now that even the Fed pivoted in a way to tips the scales in Biden's favor, something former NY Fed chief Bill Dudley urged all the way back in 2019.

And speaking of wages overtaking inflation, this summer much of America ground to a halt as tens of thousands of actors and screenwriters went on strike in July, bringing Hollywood to a halt, amid fears that AI will put most of the local "talent" out of job (it will). The strikes were part of a wave of labor activity in the United States this year, including targeted strikes by the United Automobile Workers union. Despite the recent uptick, overall union activity has fallen since the 1970s and ’80s; still the strikes were successful with union workers managing to negotiate solid, double-digit raises for themselves, assuring that inflation's return is just a matter of time.

There was another big driver behind inflation both in 2022 and 2023, as not one but two brutal wars underscored the fragility of the global economic recovery and rewired the world’s trade relationships. For an example look no further than the geopolitics of oil. Prices soared above $120 a barrel after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, then steadily fell amid surging US oil production and signs of a global economic slowdown. Here China's aborted attempt to escape from covid zero with a burst of growth was key... yet Beijing's inability to flood the economy with stimulus was obvious to anyone who had seen China's record 300% debt/GDP ratio: China simply had no more space where to park and hide any new growth, pardon debt.

But while the Ukraine war slowly faded away from the front pages as Zelensky's counteroffensive proved to be a disaster and now US and European officials and the legacy media are openly discussing a negotiated peace as the war's "best" outcome (after blasting it as pro-Putin appeasement just one year ago), it was replaced in October with the violent and dramatic breakout of the most brutal Middle-East conflict in decades, as the Israel-Hamas war raised new fears that oil prices would spike and reignite inflation. Despite shipping snarls in the Red Sea and Suez Canal, those concerns have yet to materialize largely thanks to huge overproduction in the US at a time of rampant shale M&A activity as potential acquisition targets do everything they can to literally flood the market and boost EBITDA and cash flow in hopes of impressing potential suitors. This too shall pass, and very soon.

Until then, however, thanks to the Russia-Ukraine war, India and China have emerged as key beneficiaries. India, profiting from its neutrality, went from buying hardly any Russian oil to buying about half of what the country exports by sea.

Trade between China and Russia has also surged, surpassing $200 billion in the first 11 months of this year while Chinese cars are now flooding Russia.

Not surprisingly, just a few days ago we learned that the Chinese yuan has overtaken the Japanese yen to become the fourth most-used currency by value in global payments.

Of course, it's not just Russia benefiting from China's redirected trade routes: countries like Mexico and Vietnam have also gained ground. And since those countries import mostly intermediate goods from China, American supply chains still remain reliant on Chinese production. In fact, China is now the dominant supplier of industrial inputs across the world.

As other countries have seen a pick up in Chinese trade, China’s share of exports to the United States has fallen in recent years, as a result of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and maintained by Biden even though tensions between the two superpowers stabilized briefly after Biden’s meeting with President Xi Jinping of China on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November... even though Biden again calling Xi a dictator for the second time went over as a lead spy balloon in Beijing, as Anthony Blinken's face made abundantly clear.

Still, there is another reason why the US can’t decouple easily from China: semiconductors. China is a major market for these advanced computer chips, which can be used to power artificial intelligence systems. This fall, the Biden administration tightened its export controls on semiconductors, making it harder for U.S. companies to sell them to China. But big chipmakers like Nvidia are already working on modified chips to sell to Chinese markets, hoping to skirt the restrictions.

And speaking of Nvidia, we would be remiss not to mention the single biggest market narrative - and tech story - of 2023, namely the unprecedented AI mania, which manifested itself in an explosion in the "Magnificent 7" mega tech stocks which now make up a record 30% of the S&P's market cap...

... thanks to a historic outperformance of this group of 7 tech names which doubled their price in 2023 even as much of the rest of the market went nowhere this year, at least until the Fed's dovish pivot, which finally lifted all boats in the last two weeks of the year.

It wasn't just the latest stock bubble however: the world's infatuation with the chatGPT chatbot led to an explosion of investment in generative A.I. start-ups, including Microsoft’s $10 billion backing in OpenAI. Microsoft’s relationship with OpenAI has since come under scrutiny, particularly its role in the reinstatement of Sam Altman as OpenAI’s CEO after a boardroom coup that set off a chaotic five days at the start-up and was a moment of unforgettable drama for nerds everywhere. Whether A.I. remains the market juggernaut it was in 2023 may be decided in the courts: on Dec. 27, The New York Times became the first major American media organization to sue OpenAI and Microsoft over A.I.-related copyright issues, saying in the lawsuit that the companies should be held responsible for the “unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.”

What is just as remarkable is that people actually use ChatGPT or rather chat LGPTQ, since we now have proof that as a large language model it uses data and signal exclusively from hard-liberal and leftist organizations, thus making most of its "answers" false, unreliable, "woke" and generally useless.

And speaking of the latest attempt to control and dominate the conversation, this time using chatGPT, we remind readers that away from markets and geopolitical conflicts, the next most important topic in the past year were the revelations from the Twitter Files and subsequent exposes, all revealing just how little free speech there really is in the so-called land of the free and the home of the First Amendment, and how countless three-lettered, deep-state alphabet agencies - and the military-industrial complex - will do anything and everything to control both the official discourse and the unofficial narrative to keep their preferred puppets in the White House, and keep those they disapprove of - censored and/or locked up, both literally and metaphorically... or simply designate them "conspiracy theorists." None other than Matt Taibbi wrote the best summary of what the Twitter Files revealed, namely America's stealthy conversion into a crypto-fascist state where some unelected government bureaucrat tells corporations what to do and decides the fate of ordinary Americans every single day without any due process:

This last week saw the FBI describe Lee Fang, Michael Shellenberger and me as “conspiracy theorists” whose “sole aim” is to discredit the agency. That statement will look ironic soon, as we spent much of this week learning about other agencies and organizations that can now also be discredited thanks to these files.

A group of us spent the last weeks reading thousands of documents. For me a lot of that time was spent learning how Twitter functioned, specifically its relationships with government. How weird is modern-day America? Not long ago, CIA veterans tell me, the information above the “tearline” of a U.S. government intelligence cable would include the station of origin and any other CIA offices copied on the report.

I spent much of today looking at exactly similar documents, seemingly written by the same people, except the “offices” copied at the top of their reports weren’t other agency stations, but Twitter’s Silicon Valley colleagues: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, even Wikipedia. It turns out these are the new principal intelligence outposts of the American empire. A subplot is these companies seem not to have had much choice in being made key parts of a global surveillance and information control apparatus, although evidence suggests their Quislingian executives were mostly all thrilled to be absorbed. Details on those “Other Government Agencies” soon, probably tomorrow.

One happy-ish thought at month’s end:

Sometime in the last decade, many people — I was one — began to feel robbed of their sense of normalcy by something we couldn’t define. Increasingly glued to our phones, we saw that the version of the world that was spat out at us from them seemed distorted. The public’s reactions to various news events seemed off-kilter, being either way too intense, not intense enough, or simply unbelievable. You’d read that seemingly everyone in the world was in agreement that a certain thing was true, except it seemed ridiculous to you, which put you in an awkward place with friends, family, others. Should you say something? Are you the crazy one?

I can’t have been the only person to have struggled psychologically during this time. This is why these Twitter files have been such a balm. This is the reality they stole from us! It’s repulsive, horrifying, and dystopian, a gruesome history of a world run by anti-people, but I’ll take it any day over the vile and insulting facsimile of truth they’ve been selling. Personally, once I saw that these lurid files could be used as a road map back to something like reality — I wasn’t sure until this week — I relaxed for the first time in probably seven or eight years.

One year later, the legacy media has only gotten worse, with the likes of the NYT, publishers of such tripe seeking to justify an illegitimate and corrupt first crime family, and WaPo spewing propaganda for the corrupt elite, and officially becoming the PR arm of both the White House and the Military Industrial Complex/ US Intel Services/ Deep State. Meanwhile, X (fka Twitter), once the most corrupt and censored social media network in the world, has emerged as a bastion of free speech (Elon even brought back Alex Jones) even as virtue-signaling corporations (who all work in conjunction with the deep state in hopes of getting some fast-track access to those very generous taxpayer-funded government contracts) are doing everything in their power to demonetize and starve the company by pulling their ads; we say this as one of the first media outlets that was dubbed "conspiracy theorists" by the authorities, long before everyone else joined the club. Oh yes, we've been there: we were suspended for half a year on Twitter for telling the truth about Covid, and then we lost most of our advertisers after the Atlantic Council's weaponized "fact-checkers" such as Newsguard put us on every ad agency's black list while anonymous CIA sources at the AP slandered us for being "Kremlin puppets" - which reminds us: for those with the means, desire and willingness to support us, please do so by becoming a premium member: we are now almost entirely reader-funded so your financial assistance will be instrumental to ensure our continued survival into 2024 and beyond.

The bottom line, at least for us, is that the past four years have been a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which makes the dystopian nightmare of 1984 seem more real each day, and we have since taken measures. Three years ago, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us for good. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year when, with the 2024 elections at stake, the deep state will stop at nothing to silence all independent voices.

And why would they: just a few days ago, some woke, unelected Karen in Maine named Shenna Bellows showed just how far the left was willing to go when she decided that it is incumbent upon her - and her alone - to determine what is in the best interest of hundreds of millions of Americans when this secretary of state - not some court, not some group of elected officials - decided to remove Donald Trump from the state’s presidential ballot and disenfranchise half of the country (something democrats have shown a tremendous aptitude for, even as they are more than eager to collect taxes from those who still generate income and pay some of it back to the government as taxes, i.e. mostly republicans). Even a Democratic congressman who voted to impeach Trump over the January 6th riots, quickly issued a statement: "We are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot." Matt Taibbi summarized it best: "Is there any way this ends well? It feels harder and harder to imagine. "

As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from either Putin or the KGB either, sorry CIA) and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine.

Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website.

In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to only accelerate in the coming year especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2023 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch with a ten foot pole, both out of fear of repercussions and because the MSM has now become a PR agency for either a political party or some unelected, deep state bureaucrat, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an information vacuum (in less than a decade, Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of Twitter will seem like one of the century's biggest bargains) and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which established media outlets refuse to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation.

We are grateful that our readers have, for the 15th year in a row, realized that it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news."

* * *

And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 14-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 201020112012201320142015201620172018, 2019, 2020 , 2021 and 2022.

So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year.

  • In 20th spot with 540,000 views, was one of the year's first admissions that - contrary to the prevailing propaganda - the war in Ukraine, which would end up being a $100BN+ and rising drain on taxpayer funds, was not going as widely reported; in fact it wasn't going at all. Indeed, as we observed in "NBC Reporter Goes To Crimea, Shocks Viewers By Telling The Truth" the Deep State's favorite media outlet, MSNBC made the first concession that Zelensky's goal of retaking Crime is unrealistic and dangerous. In response, the establishment reporter immediately wound up on the Ukrainian government’s kill list. But while Ukraine may have succeeded in silencing this one particular pawn, subsequent revelations and an ongoing internal power struggle inside Ukraine, all but guarantee that the war is almost over and that the Biden family's crimes in Ukraine will sooner or later make the light of day .

  • Another topic which none in the media would discuss openly, or truthfully, for fears of retaliation from the deep state was the article that was the 19th most popular of the year. Over 543,000 readers were probably not too shocked to learn that according to famed journalist and Pulitzer prize winner Seymour Hersh, the infamous Nord Stream sabotage of 2022 was yet another CIA covert op, meant to incite an escalation of conflict in the Russian-Ukraine war, and to terminally halt Russian transit of natural gas to Europe. Who benefited? Why the US of course, as shipments of LNG to Europe (as the US stepped in to "generously" replace Russia as a source of gas) blew away all records. In fact, one could argue that the Ukraine war was orchestrated precisely for that one purpose: to ensure that US nat gas exports would boom for years to come courtesy of a captive market, Europe, which would be prevented from importing much cheaper Russian gas for years to come.

  • Almost 5 years after the breakout of the covid pandemic which crippled global economies and led to the injection of tens of trillions in monetary and fiscal stimulus, precipitating the biggest inflationary wave in modern history, there is still no definitive explanation of where the virus came from (or rather, escaped) and why there has been no punishment yet for those Wuhan Institute workers (and those Americans giving them instructions and funding) responsible for countless deaths and millions of businesses shut down. However, when a mysterious Chinese biolab was discovered in a remote California City,  some 543K Zerohedge readers wondered what if any connection this lab in the middle of nowhere had to i) covid, ii) China's bioweapons industry and iii) how many more such labs exist across the US and what exactly are they doing? That was enough to make this bizarre story the 18th most popular on this website in 2023.

  • For the 17th most read article we go to a topic the mainstream media, which sadly has become a PR and Propaganda arm of the White House, the deep state and the military industrial complex, has steadfastly refused the touch namely the unprecedented corruption in the country which the Biden admin and various MIC-adjacent politicians have decided is the newest US state: Ukraine. Early in 2023, we reported that "Ukraine Is Rocked By Corruption Scandal, Wave Of Top Officials Resign: Sports Cars, Mansions & Luxury Vacations As People Suffered", however none of that matters since none of the legacy media dared to expose just who all those tens of billions in US taxpayer funds have gone to. And now, almost a year later, Ukraine is losing the war, Zelensky and his comrades are on slowly but surely on their way out, and yet nobody knows where that $100BN+ in funds have gone. We can certainly hope that one day, long after the biggest money-laundering experiment in modern history is over, forensic historians will trace all that money which is bigger than the GDP of most nations, however - just like the Epstein client list - we doubt it will ever happen.

  • Nearly 560K readers were surprised to learn that the Magic Kingdom has become so expensive, almost nobody can afford to go there any more. Indeed, in 2023 a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland with the whole family has become simply too expensive leading many to ask "Where Is Everyone? Disney World "Just About Empty" as CEO Bob Iger himself admitted customer affordability issues; add the direct consequences of price-gouging families, plus the 'woke' backlash, and you get one of the slowest periods at Walt Disney World in Orlando on July 4 in a decade. Meanwhile the plunge of Disney stock to a decade low coupled with South Park now mercilessly mocking the hollow shell of a woke company, spark some hope that after a wholesale sacking of the incompetent management, the slate may be wiped clean and the company can go back to doing what it does best: not grooming or propaganda but innocent entertainment for generations of children.

  • Confirming yet again that the cover up is always worse than the crime, the 15th most popular post of 2023 with over 560K hits focused on the still unfolding consequences of the biggest story of 2020, namely the unprecedented cover up of the covid "vaccine" as a "Bombshell Vax Analysis Found $147 Billion In Economic Damage, Tens Of Millions Injured Or Disabled." And since the corrupt and captured media still refuses to do its jobs and get to the bottom of who benefited - and what were the full consequences - from rushing the biggest medical experiment in history, it is the independent media, which is increasingly performing the investigative role of the MSM, that will benefit from the corruption and capture that has dominated what was once the fourth estate but is now just a waning shadow of its former formidable self.

  • 2023 was not only a year where many cover-ups were exposed; it was also a year when "something finally broke", and it wasn't just US regional banks: in March, as the world was rocked by a relentless wave of bank runs, the second largest Swiss bank got Lehmaned, and failed over a long weekend, despite obtaining a government backstop just hours earlier as we detailed in "Credit Suisse To Borrow $54BN From SNB To "Pre-emptively Strengthen Liquidity," a story which was read by 572K readers - many of whom current or former Credit Suisse customers - making it the 14th most popular story of 2023. In the end it was not enough, because once confidence in a bank is shaken it never returns, and neither do the deposits that have been pulled... and so less than a week later, Credit Suisse was no more, its existence over after 167 years, with UBS taking over (with the generous funding of Swiss taxpayers) and becoming the most systematically important European bank, one which not even all of Switzerland will be able to backstop during the next banking crisis.

  • With historic presidential elections on deck in 2024, and a repeat of the 2020 violence - where secretive Soros-funded entities funded and encouraged a bloody summer across the US  - virtually assured, it is worth recalling what Tucker Carlson reported a few months ago, namely that the catalyst behind much of the government-encouraged Black Lives Matter violence of 2020, was fake and "The Whole George Floyd Story Was A Lie", a report which was watched and read by nearly 600K people. Unfortunately, with much of the US judicial system in Soros' pocket, and with dozens of big city DAs seeking to decriminalize rioting and theft by the black community, more violence is guaranteed, the only question is what fake pretext the deep state will use this time.

  • On the last day of 2022 we predicted that "2023 will be the year when something finally breaks", and three months later we were proven right, when as a result of soaring rates US regional banks suddenly found that the value of their fixed income collateral was worth far less when marked to market than the deposits it was pledged against, resulting in widespread liquidity and solvency fears, accelerating bank runs and culminating with the second Fed panic since 2008, as "Signature Bank Was Closed By Regulators; Fed, TSY, FDIC Announce Another Banking System Bailout", a reminder to no less than 621K readers that the US financial system was as brittle and unstable as ever despite trillions in liquidity injected into the market and meant only to make the rich richer. Nearly a year later, the regional US bank zombies that would have collapsed in March live on thanks to the Fed's BTFP facility which matures in March, and which if pulled would lead to an even greater crisis in the US banking sector. Ironically that's also when the Fed's Reverse Repo facility is expected to be drained to zero, so if anyone is trying to pin the date of the next financial crisis in the calendar, March increasingly looks like the prime month for that.

  • Following the start of October's Israel-Hamas war, the bloodiest breakout of Middle-Eastern violence in decades, we said that "there is some speculation that Iran may get dragged in with various pro-Israeli hawks claiming that the Hamas attack would have only occurred with explicit Iranian backing." Just a few hours later this was confirmed as we reported in "Iran Helped Hamas "Plot Israel Attack Over Several Weeks", Gave Green Light", the 11th most popular article of 2023, which revealed that "Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’s Saturday surprise attack on Israel and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday", according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah. But while the US would have swiftly retaliated in the past, if only to convince the world that it is still a military superpower, so far the Biden regime has remained silent, terrified of a military response, but not because of some newfound appreciation for state sovereignty or non-intervention, but simply because the president is afraid what a surge in oil and gas prices - which would be an inevitable outcome of Iran getting dragged into the war - would mean for his re-election chances.

  • In case you didn't figure it out by now, 2023 was a year when many cover ups were exposed, and among the most flagrant ones was the leak of the Nashville transsexual shooter's manifesto, which as we revealed in "Biden’s DOJ suppressed the Nashville Transkiller’s manifesto after learning they used Democrat talking points to justify targeting white Christian children", which with over 670K reads was the 10th most popular article of 2023, revealed that Biden’s DOJ suppressed the Nashville Transkiller’s manifesto after learning it used Democrat talking points to justify targeting white Christian children. Of course, the DOJ never had any such qualms when revealing motives from the other side of the political aisle, confirming yet again that there is nothing too low for Biden's weaponized Department of Injustice to stoop below, not even death.

  • Continuing our trek through the top 10 stories of 2023, we next look at the immediate aftermath of the Israel-Hamas war, where just hours after the violence had broken out, the world quickly revealed how little it thought of the Biden administration, and US "superpower status", when as 731K readers found out, "Arab Leaders Refuse To Meet Biden As Protests Rage Around The World." The title is self-explanatory - and an embarrassment to Americans - even if said Americans deserve to know just who is the puppet-master pulling the strings of the senile, demented occupant of the White House.

  • Remember when merely breathing the world "Ivermectin" in the aftermath of the covid pandemic was enough to blacklist you from social media and polite society in perpetuity, and get you branded as a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist for life? Well, if we have learned anything in recent years, is that the time from when an idea emerges as a "conspiracy" to when it is fully confirmed even by the powers that be has shrunk to mere months, and as we reported in "FDA Drops Ivermectin Bombshell", our 8th most popular article of 2023, nearly 740K readers learned from an FDA lawyer that doctors were, in fact, free to prescribe ivermectin to treat COVID-19. The case had been brought by three doctors who alleged the FDA unlawfully interfered with their practice of medicine with the statements. Then a federal judge dismissed the case in 2022, prompting an appeal. “The fundamental issue in this case is straightforward. After the FDA approves the human drug for sale, does it then have the authority to interfere with how that drug is used within the doctor-patient relationship? The answer is no,” Jared Kelson, representing the doctors, told the appeals court. Hilariously, the FDA on Aug. 21, 2021, wrote on Twitter You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” In retrospect it was right: it turned out most people who believed the government's lies were at best sheep.

  • Tragedy rocked the town of East Palestine, Ohio last February when the derailment of a train carrying toxic and carcinogenic compounds resulted in a historic chemical spill and led  to large sections of the town becoming unlivable as reported in "Ohio's Apocalyptic Chemical Disaster Rages On", the 7th most popular story of 2023 with over 755K views. The spill immediately became a political flashpoint, with Donald Trump visiting East Palestine and handed out Make America Great Again hats, telling the crowd: “You are not forgotten.” Unfortunately, the town has certainly been forgotten by the current "president" who to this day has refused to visit the town despite countless promises he would do just that.

  • In many ways, 2023 was the year when alternative, independent media truly took over, and it wasn't just X/Twitter that dominated the news, while being the news: it is also the year when traditional media fell apart, such as the various anchors fleeing the sinking ship that is CNN, but the most vivid example was Tucker Carlson's departure from Fox News - the channel that was only relevant because of Tucker's segment - and the launch of his own media organization. As so many others have found out, media personalities were only allowed to truly speak their minds when separated from the corporations where they operated previously (so as not to offend advertisers), something Tucker understood and laid out in one of his most bombshell interviews, explaining why "Our System Is Collapsing In Real Time", which was also our 6th most read article with 762K reads.

  • Finally, turning to the top 5 articles of 2023, it should not be a surprise that with almost 810K reads, the 5th most popular post of the year was the news that - with the Ukraine war fading from collective consciousness - a major new war had broken out in the Middle East, something we reported in "Israel In State of War With Hamas After Palestinian Militants Launch Unprecedented Incursion."

  • Remember what we said about coverups? Well, it took less than three years from when Hunter Biden's notebook emerged in the media - with the entire deep state apparatus defending it at first, and 51 former CIA spies vowing it was Russian propaganda - until all of its official contents were leaked as we reported in "Trove Of Nearly 10K Hunter Biden Laptop Photos, Docs Appear On Organized Website." Among the contents were not only documented acts of criminal debauchery, but also proof that the Biden family was engaged in flagrant influence peddling on behalf of such foreign regimes as Ukraine and China. Alas, the US justice system is now so corrupt and broken, and the media so captured, this news has seen barely any coverage and follow through; and meanwhile the gutless republican cowards in Congress still refuse to impeach the president despite ample proof - courtesy of his son - of his countless transgressions.

  • With over 875K reads, and clocking in at third spot for 2023, was one of the biggest shockers of the year: the decision by Murdoch and Fox News to sack their only true star, Tucker Carlson; And for what? For daring to speak to truth one too many times as we reported in "Tucker Carlson Fired By Lachlan Murdoch; Here's What We Know." In retrospect, it will be the best thing that happened to Tucker, whose new venture already has well over 100,000 annual subs and growing at a torrid pace. Meanwhile, the biggest winner may well be the US population, which will have one more source of honest, accurate news while the malignant influence of conventional media fades with each passing day.

  • The second most popular story of 2023 was also a freak one: the short-lived attempt by Putin's formerly close friend, Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner private mercenary force, to stage a military coup, yet not really a coup meant to overthrow Putin but instead targeted some of Prigozhin's personal enemies in the top ranks of Russia's army. The "Wagner rebellion" as it became known - and which came shortly after Prigozhin's forces managed to smack down a Ukraine attempt at a counteroffensive earlier this summer - lasted all of a day or so, before it all died down as reported in "Prigozhin 'Exiled' To Belarus In Exchange For Peace, Criminal Charges Dropped: What Was This All About?" the second most popular article of 2023 with nearly 900K reads. To this day there is no coherent explanation behind Prigozhin's actions, and there probably won't be: two months later the plane carrying the mercenary chief exploded. It's still unclear why, but the most amusing theory was the one offered by Putin himself, who claimed that "Wagner leadership got drunk and/or high, then set off hand grenades during the flight."

  • Finally, the top post of 2023 was one which also closed the loop on the top story of 2020: with nearly 1.1 million reads, the most popular article of the year was the "CDC Finally Releasing VAERS Safety Monitoring Analyses For COVID Vaccines." While the article offered lots of data, the bottom line is that the vaccine which the CDC claimed was safe and effective was neither safe nor effective.

And with all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2024, and the next decade?

We don't know: as our frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try, despite repeat baseless allegations that we constantly forecast the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2023 when one year after the entire world realized just how clueless the Fed had been when it called the most crushing inflation in two generations "transitory", it was Wall Street's reputation turn to hit new lows as even Bloomberg listed "Everything Wall Street Got Wrong in 2023", in the process adding strategists and analysts to the clueless ranks of economists, conventional media and the professional polling class, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of both the scientific method and the "expert class" with their catastrophically bungled response to the covid pandemic, and then the response to the response, and so on... We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it.

We do know, however, that with central banks having flip-flopped yet again, and pivoting dovishly even as inflation still rages at 4%, wages - especially for unionized and government workers - growing at a double digit pace, home prices and rents about to lurch even higher, and overall prices stuck at all time highs, the most likely outcome is another surge in inflation and Jerome Powell becoming not the second coming of saint Paul Volcker but of satan Arthur Burns.

But even ignoring the impact on prices, one can't just undo 15 years of central bank mistakes by wishing them away (even if it is an election year); after all it is the trillions and trillions in monetary stimulus, the helicopter money, the MMT, and the endless deficit funding by central banks that made the current runaway inflation possible, the current attempt to stuff 15 years of toothpaste back into the tube, will be a catastrophic failure.

We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will again be revealed as completely naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 15, we will be there to document every aspect of it.

Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2024, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2023 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile (and with the CIA clearly on our ass now) - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken economic, political and financial system.

AI is not completely useless
Tyler Durden Sun, 12/31/2023 - 14:55
Published:12/31/2023 2:29:54 PM
[Markets] The Rise Of Propaganda-Dependent Elites And Lonely Masses The Rise Of Propaganda-Dependent Elites And Lonely Masses

Authored by Robert Malone via Substack,

In my opinion, one of the more important speeches provided at the recent Fourth International COVID/Crisis Summit, held last month in Bucharest Romania, was delivered by my friend and colleague Dr. Mattias Desmet. Many but perhaps not all readers of this substack will be familiar with his groundbreaking synthesis published under the title The Psychology of Totalitarianism.

Others may recall my discussing Mattias’ theories and insights on various podcasts and with Mr. Joe Rogan, and the subsequent censorship response by Google and others when the terms “Mass Formation” and “Mass Formation Psychosis” were suddenly and explosively trending.

Dr. Desmet, Dr. Jill Glasspool-Malone and I have spent many hours together since then, in our home, in his home, in Spain shooting the “Headwinds” films which were broadcast by the Epoch Times, visiting mutual friends, and in conferences such as ICS IV. I worked hard to make it possible for him to attend that meeting while maintaining his teaching schedule.

He writes to me that there has been a concerted effort to convince him that I am “controlled opposition,” and to convince that he should disassociate from me. But, unfortunately for the propagandists and chaos agents, that is unlikely to happen as we have spent these many hours building a collaborative friendship and have been through thick and thin together. I steadfastly supported him through the academic attacks he has had, helped him build his Substack following, and defended him when the Breggins maliciously attacked and defamed him.

These many concerted censorship and defamation attacks have taken a toll on him, as they have on me, but we both remain standing and continue our efforts to discern truth through the fog of the psychological war, the fifth generation warfare, which swirls around us.

Mattias is now focusing on his next book, which looks forward towards how we can win the PsyWay battle for our minds, thoughts, and souls being waged against all of us by globalist Elites. As I listened to his speech at the ICS IV, I was amazed at how his thinking has continued to mature, and by the clarity of his thought and insights.

Strangely, a few minutes into his speech the video feed cut out, and those watching the streaming video were not able to see what I was watching in person. Returning to the United States, his was among the first that I wanted to transcribe and post to this Substack, together with those of MEP Christian TerhesDr. Harvey RischDr. Jill Glasspool-Malone, and Dr. Denis Rancourt. But no one seemed to be able to find or recover video or even audio recordings of Mattias’ speech.

Finally, a recording was identified, and has now been uploaded both above and at the ICS IV website. Since that time, recordings of some of these speeches have been removed from youtube, and there have been efforts by unknown actors to even remove material from the ICS IV website archives. If you are interested in any of this material, you may wish to view and/or download copies sooner rather than later, or they may become scrubbed from digital history as has been happening with so many key resources concerning the global mismanagement of the COVID crisis.

The history of the CIA since its founding is intimately wrapped up in Operation Mockingbird, a concerted campaign continuously developed since the 1940s to control U.S. and global media, reporting (and “reporters”), and academia. Together with MI5/MI6 in the UK, this “Mighty Wurlitzer” has been used to shape a narrative—a series of carefully promoted U.S. Government lies—which have dominated the worldview of literally all Western nation citizens.

As Mattias explains in this lecture, the continuing advancement of these propaganda capabilities has been considered necessary to prop up, “legitimize,” and provide cover for a wide range of nefarious, self-serving actions on the part of a very small group of hereditary “Elites” who have sought to control the peoples, governments, and economies of the world—at the expense of the interests of humanity at large.

The rest of us have paid an enormous price in suffering and psychological damage, which is rooted in a sense of disaffection from each other and society—loneliness.

Perhaps one of the most positive aspects of the COVID crisis is that many, including myself and perhaps also yourself, have become aware that we are being manipulated, lied to, and forced to comply with the wishes of these Globalist Elites who exert their will via force, violence, and coercion on a global scale. The work of reporters Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi (The Racket News) and so many others have picked up where Carl Bernstein once left off in documenting the Censorship-Industrial complex. We now have the documents and receipts demonstrating how thoroughly we have all been played. The question now is what to do about it.

In his speech at ICS IV, Dr. Desmet provides a glimpse into his prescription for healing those of us who have been damaged, and his vision for how we can recover our sovereignty, personal psychological autonomy, and rebuild a more functional society devoid of the nefarious hidden hand of Elite-sponsored propaganda and psychological manipulation.

I heartily recommend reviewing and carefully considering his thoughts, and I eagerly look forward to his new book in which he provides further details.

Dear friends,

A few weeks ago I gave a speech at the fourth International Crisis Summit in the Romanian Parliament. Below you find the text of the speech I prepared and the video recording of the speech I actually gave. I usually don’t prepare a speech, simply because for some reason I never stick to the plan. Ultimately, I always express the words as they come on the spot and at the moment.

This time was no different—the text below and the actual speech are different. That being said, I hope you will read it. In the beginning I repeat some things about totalitarianism that you might be familiar with if you’ve listened to my interviews. But the rest of the text is all about the perversion of political discourse in our society and the need for a new type of politician who leaves propaganda and rhetoric behind and re-appreciates truth speech.

Warm wishes,

Mattias

Prepared Remarks

[ZH: emphasis ours]

Dear members of the Romanian parliament,

Dear audience,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

As some of you might know, I wrote a book, titled “The Psychology of Totalitarianism.” It is about a new kind of totalitarianism that is emerging now, a totalitarianism which is not so much a communist or fascist totalitarianism, but a technocratic totalitarianism.

I have articulated my theory on totalitarianism on so many occasions. I will only present the gist of it here and move on to a problem which is particularly relevant for an address in a political institution such as this parliament: the perversion of political discourse in the Enlightenment tradition.

Here is in a nutshell what I articulated on totalitarianism throughout the last years: totalitarianism is not a coincidence. It is a logical consequence of our materialist-rationalist view on man and the world. When this view on man and the world became dominant, as a spontaneous consequence, a new elite ánd a new population emerged. A new elite that excessively used propaganda as a means to control and steer the population; and a population which lapsed more and more into loneliness and disconnectedness, both from its social and its natural environment.

These two evolutions, the emergence of an elite that uses propaganda and a lonely population, reinforced each other. The lonely state is exactly the state in which a population is vulnerable for propaganda. In this way, a new kind of masses or crowds emerged throughout the last two centuries: the so-called lonely masses.

People fall prey to mass formation to escape a pervasive feeling of loneliness and disconnectedness, induced by the rationalization of the world and the ensuing industrialization of the world and the excessive use of technology. They merge together in fanatic mass behavior because this seems to free them from their lonely, atomized state.

And that is exactly the big illusion of mass formation: belonging to a mass doesn’t liberate a human being from its lonely state. Not at all. A mass is a group that is formed, not because individuals connect to each other, but because each individual separately is connected to a collective ideal. The longer a mass formation exists, the more solidarity they feel for the collective and the less solidarity and love they feel for other individuals.

That’s exactly why in the end stage of mass formation and totalitarianism, every individual reports every other individual to the collective, or to the state, if they think that other individual is not loyal enough to the state. And in the end, the unthinkable happens, with mothers reporting their children to the state and children their parents.

The lonely masses distinguish themselves in several respects from the physical masses of earlier times: they can be much better controlled, they are less unpredictable than physical masses, and they last longer, in particular if they are constantly fed by propaganda through mass media. The creation of long-lasting lonely masses through propaganda was the psychological basis for the emergence of the large totalitarian systems of the 20th century. Only if a mass formation exists for decades can it be made the basis of a state system.

The emergence of lonely masses led to Stalinism and Nazism in the beginning of the 20th century and now it might lead to technocratic totalitarianism. I described the psychological processes involved in the emergence of lonely masses on many occasions, and I won’t repeat it here.

Today, here, in the Romanian parliament, a political institution, I address politicians. I want to tell you that politicians have a particular responsibility in these times of emerging totalitarianism. Totalitarianism, as Hannah Arendt said, is a diabolic pact between the masses and the political elites. Political elites need to contemplate –scrutinize the ethical qualities of their speech. There is something wrong with political discourse. This is what I intend to say: political discourse is perverted.

For instance, we got used to the fact that politicians, once they are elected, never do what they promised to do in their election speeches. How far are we removed from political virtue as described by Aristotle. For Aristotle, the core of political virtue was the courage to speak the Truth, or, to use the Greek term, Parrhesia, bold speech, in which someone says exactly this what society doesn’t want to hear, but which is necessary to keep it psychologically healthy.

I am not so much accusing individual politicians here; I am addressing political culture in general. And even more, I am talking about a perversion that is inherent to the entire tradition of Enlightenment. Our society is in the grip of a specific type of lying, a kind of lying that is historically speaking relatively new, that emerged for the first time after the French Revolution, when the religious view on man and the world was replaced by our current, rationalist-materialist worldview. What am I talking about when I refer to this ‘new kind of lie?’ I am talking about the phenomenon of ‘propaganda.’

Propaganda is everywhere around us. Public space is saturated with it. Recent years have illustrated that abundantly, during the coronacrisis, during the Ukraine crisis, and now, even more clearly, during the coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict on both mainstream and social media.

It is not that I do not understand the motivation of those who choose for propaganda. They often start from good intentions. Or at least: somewhere, they do believe in their good intentions. Read the work of the founding fathers of propaganda, such as LippmanTrotter, and Bernays. They believe that the only way for the leaders to keep control in society and to prevent society of lapsing into chaos is propaganda.

The leaders cannot overtly impose their will anymore to the population. Nobody would accept that within a materialist-rationalist society. Hence, the only way to make the population do what the leaders want, is to make them do what the leaders want without them knowing that they do what the leaders want. In others words: the only way to control the population is through manipulation.

The people in favor of propaganda will argue that we can never tackle the challenges of climate change and viral outbreaks through democratic means. They will ask: ‘Do you think people will voluntarily give up their cars and flying holidays? To escape disaster, we need technocracy, a society led by technical experts, and to install technocracy, we need to mislead the population, we need to manipulate them into technocracy.’

First of all, I want to tell you that I don’t believe technocracy is a solution to the problem. But that’s not what matters most. Let me tell you something: to try to create a good society for the human being through manipulation, is a contradictio in terminis. The essence and core of a good society is exactly the ethical quality of public discourse. Man, in the end, essentially is an ethical being, and to pervert man’s speech is to pervert man itself; to pervert political speech is to pervert society itself.

To give up sincerity in order to create a good society is to try to build a good society by giving up immediately, from the beginning, the essence of a good society (!). Truthful speech is not a means towards an end, it is the end in itself; sincere speech is what makes us human and humane.

This is crucial to understand: propaganda is not a historical coincidence, it is a structural consequence of rationalism. If you consider the psychological structure of our current society, it’s fair to say that propaganda is the major guiding principle. In a remarkable way, the pursuit of rationality during the tradition of Enlightenment didn’t lead to more Truthful speech, as the founding fathers of this tradition believed. Science would replace questionable religious and other myths; society would finally be organized according to reliable information instead of subjective conjectures. Now, a few centuries later, this turned out to be an illusion. There has never been as much unreliable information as now in public space.

The materialist-rationalist view on man and the world, in a strange way, rather led to the opposite of what it expected. As soon as we started to conceive the human being as a mechanistic, biological entity, for whom the highest attainable goal was survival, it became rather unfashionable to try to speak the Truth. Speaking the Truth, the Ancient Greeks knew that very well, doesn’t maximize your chances on survival. The Truth is always risky. ‘No one is hated more than he who speaks the Truth,’ Plato said. Hence, within a materialist-rationalist tradition, speaking the Truth is something stupid to do. Only idiots do it. That’s how the fanatic pursuit of rationality led us astray, straight into the dark wood of Dante, ‘where the right road is wholly lost and gone.’

This materialist-rationalist view on man and the world—why do we actually cling to it? It loves to present itself as the scientific view on man and the world. Let me tell you that this is nonsense. All seminal scientists concluded exactly the opposite: in the end, the essence of life always escapes rationality, it transcends the categories of rational thinking. To name only one major scientist: in the preface of a book of Max Planck, Einstein claimed that it is a mistake to believe that science originates from supreme logical-rational thinking; it originates from what he called a capacity for ‘einfühlung’ in the object one investigates, which means as much as ‘a capacity to empathically resonate with the object you are investigating.’

Rationality is a good thing and we need to walk the path of rationality as far as possible, but it is not the end goal. Rational knowledge is not a goal in itself; it is a stairway to a kind of knowledge that transcends rationality, a resonating knowledge, the kind of supreme intuition the martial arts of the Samurai culture aimed for throughout their technical training. It is at that level that we can situate the phenomenon of Truth.

This brings us closer to an answer to the question: what is the remedy to the disease of totalitarianism? Can we do something about totalitarianism? My answer is simple and straight: yes. The powerless do have power.

Propaganda-induced mass formation is a fake, symptomatic solution for loneliness. And the real solution lies in the Art of Sincere Speech. My next book, which I am writing now, is all about the psychology of Truth. Truth, by definition, from a psychological point of view, is resonating speech, it is speech which connects people, from core to core, from soul to soul, speech that penetrates through the veil of appearances, through the ideal images we hide behind, the imaginary shells we seek refuge in, and reconnects the shivering and disconnected soul of one human being to that of another human being.

Here we observe something crucial: sincere speech is the real cure for loneliness—it reconnects people. As such, it takes away the root cause of the major symptom of our rationalist culture—mass formation and totalitarianism. And at the same time, sincere speech also inhibits this symptom in a more straightforward way. It is well known that, if there are some people who continue to speak in a sincere way when mass formation is emerging, the masses do not go to the ultimate stage where they start to think it is their duty to destroy each and everyone who doesn’t follow the totalitarian ideology.

At every moment we chose to speak out in a sincere way, no matter where this happens, in a newspaper or a television interview, but equally well in the presence of only one other person at the kitchen table or in the supermarket, we help to cure society from the disease of totalitarianism.

You have to take this literally. Society, as a psychological system, is a complex dynamical system. And complex dynamical systems have the fascinating characteristic of so-called sensitivity to initial conditions. To put it simple: the smallest changes in one minor detail of the system affect the entire system. For instance, the smallest change in the vibration pattern of one water molecule in a boiling pot of water changes the entire convection pattern of the boiling water.

Nobody is powerless. And hence, every single one of us is responsible. Each and everyone who speaks a sincere word and succeeds in truly connecting as a human being to another human being, in particular a human being with a different opinion, deserves to be mentioned in the books of history, much more than a president or a minister who engages in propaganda and fails to show the courage to speak sincerely.

The more I study the effects of speech on the human being and on humans living together, the more hopeful I become and the more I see that we will overcome totalitarianism.

We shouldn’t be naïve when we talk about the Truth. Endless are the atrocities in history committed by people who believed they possessed the Truth. Truth is an elusive phenomenon; we can enjoy its presence from time to time, but we can never claim it or possess it.

Sincere speech is an art. An art we have to learn step by step. An art we can progressively master. That’s exactly why I started workshops on the Art of Speech—workshops in which we practice that art in the same perseverant, disciplined way as any other art is practiced.

Practicing this art implies that we overcome our own fanatic convictions, and even more, our own narcissism and ego. Truth speech is this kind of speech which penetrates through what I call ‘the veil of appearances.’ To practice it, you have to be willing to sacrifice your ideal image; your public reputation. That is exactly what the Parrhesia in Ancient Greek culture meant: speaking out, even if you know that those who find their stronghold in the world of appearances will target you.

Truth-telling can make you lose something. That is for sure. But it also gives you something. To be more psychologically precise: Truth speech makes you lose something at the level of the Ego and win something at the level of the soul. I am quite fascinated by the way in which sincere speech leads to psychological strength.

I think Mahatma Gandhi provides us with a splendid historical example. A few years ago, I started to read his autobiography. I did so at the moment I started to realize that the only efficient resistance against totalitarianism is non-violent resistance. Of course this only applies to internal resistance, resistance from within the totalitarian system. External enemies can destroy totalitarian systems from without. That’s for sure.

But internal resistance, as I mentioned, can only be successful if it is non-violent in nature. All violent resistance will rather speed up the process of totalitarization, just because it is always used by the totalitarian leaders to create support in the masses to destroy each and everyone who goes against the system. Once I realized that, I became interested in what Gandhi had to say in his autobiography.

I was happily surprised to see the title: “Experiments on Truth.” And from the first pages, I learned that for Gandhi, the core and essence of non-violent resistance is sincere speech. His entire life, Gandhi tried to improve the sincerity of his speech. He did so in a simple, almost childish and naïve way, wondering every evening how sincere he had spoken that day, where he had lied or when he could have spoken more accurately or sincerely.

And here is something important: in the beginning of his biography, Gandhi mentions something magnificent. He says: I actually had no major talents. I was not handsome as a man, I didn’t have much physical strength, I was not intelligent at school, I was not a good writer, and I was not talented as a speaker. But he had this passion for sincerity and Truth. And this man, devoid of any major talents, but with a passion for sincere speech, this man did something even the strongest army in the world couldn’t do: he kicked out the English of India.

The better you start to see the almost endless horizon of possibilities offered by speech, the more you realize: it is words that rule the world. The human being can use words in a manipulative way, as pure rhetoric, indoctrination, propaganda, or brain-washing trying to convince the Other of something it doesn’t believe in itself. Or it can use words in a sincere way, trying to convey something to a fellow human being it feels inside itself. That is the most fundamental and existential choice human beings face: to use words in one or the other way.

Dear politicians of Romania and abroad, this is what I want to tell you today: it’s time for a metaphysical revolution. And you are ought to play a major role in it. The series of crises our society goes through are nothing else than a metaphysical revolution, which, essentially, boils down to this: the switch from a society that functions according to the propaganda principle to a society that is oriented towards Truth.

We need a new political culture, a culture that re-appreciates the value of Truth Telling. We need a new political discourse, a political discourse that leaves the shallow, hollow rhetorics, and propaganda behind and speaks from the soul, from the heart; we need politicians to become true leaders again, leaders who lead rather than mislead the population.

*  *  *

Watch the full speech below:

*  *  *

Transcript of Speech

(00:12): Some of you might know me. I wrote this book titled The Psychology of Totalitarianism, a book in which I warned about two years ago that we have seen the collapse of fascist and Nazi totalitarianism in the 20th century, but that we might be at risk of ending up in a new kind of totalitarianism now, which is technocratic in nature, technocratic totalitarianism. I’m sure I’m telling nothing new to the people here, but for some other people this was quite shocking. Meanwhile, they banned my book at the Ghent University where I work as a professor from using it in my classes. So it’s a little bit strange to ban a book on… In which there is one for totalitarianism at the university, but they did so.

(01:05): Well, I will tell you in a nutshell what my final analysis was on totalitarianism. I concluded in my book that totalitarianism ultimately is rooted in our materialist rationalist view on man and the world, which emerged or became dominant in our society about two centuries ago, and which put in motion at least two processes, one at the level of the elite and one at the level of the population. The new elite that emerged starting from the French Revolution onwards, I think made excessive use of propaganda to keep control over society. And throughout the last 200 years, propaganda became ever and always more important for the elite to steer society, to keep control of the population. And you can explain that which I won’t do now.

(02:10): But in a psychological way, this is a straightforward consequence of a rationalist view on man in the world, I think the fact that the elite used more and more propaganda. And at the same time at least as important, was that there was a very strange evolution at the level of the population, the psychology of the population. Throughout the last few hundreds of years, more and more people started to feel lonely. They started to feel disconnected, disconnected from their fellow human beings and disconnected from their social environment. And the combination of the two, the emergence of an elite which used more and more propaganda and the emergence of a lonely population reinforced each other in a strange way. The lonely state, if a population is in a lonely state, then she is extremely vulnerable for propaganda.

(03:07): So we had on the one hand, an elite who used more and more propaganda, who relied more and more on propaganda to keep control in the population, which became more and more vulnerable to it. And it was this combination of this elite and this population that led to what Hannah Arendt called the diabolic pact between the masses and the elite, the diabolic pact that ended up in the emergence of a completely new kind of state in the 20th century, the totalitarian state. That’s in a nutshell my analysis of the problem we find ourselves in now. And at the moment, I’m writing a new book in which I do not so much focus on the problem, but in which I try to focus on the solution.

Can we do something about it? Can we do something about this emergent totalitarianism? I think we can. I really believe we can. And the longer I think about it, the more convinced I am that we can and that we shall find a solution. I think to put it in a nutshell, very concisely, totalitarianism in the first place is a psychological problem. It’s a psychological problem and the solution at a psychological level for totalitarianism is the rediscovery and the reappreciation in our culture, which is sick of propaganda, this new kind of lie that emerged about two centuries ago. Before the French Revolution, there was no such thing as propaganda as we know it now. Well, the solution for the disease of this society in a certain way, it’s very logical, is the rediscovery and the reappreciation of what I call truth-telling, true-speech, sincere-speech. My new book is about the psychology of truth, psychology of sincere-speech, and you can clearly see that truth-speech in the first place is resonating speech.

(05:00): It’s a kind of speech that connects people from soul to soul, from core to core. I will describe this in a very technical and concrete manner in my new book. So in this way you can see two things. If you consider mass formation and totalitarianism to be the ultimate symptom of our enlightenment tradition, the ideology of reason, of our rationalist view on men in the world, then you can see that truth-speech or sincere-speech both inhibits the symptom and takes away the root cause of the symptom. And there’s a respect that it’s well known since the 19th century that if a mass formation, the crowd formation emerges in a society. And there are people, there are some people who continue to speak in a sincere way and they will usually not succeed in waking up the masses, but they will make sure that the masses don’t go to this ultimate stage where they start to be convinced that they have to destroy and eliminate each and every one who doesn’t go along with them.

(06:06): That’s the first thing. Sincere-speech, you can understand that logically and you can prove it empirically inhibits the symptom, it inhibits mass formation. And at the same time, true-speech as a kind of resonating speech, as a kind of connecting speech takes away is the real solution for the root cause of the problem, namely the loneliness. True-speech, sincere-speech is what really connects people to each other. Mass formation in the first place seems to take away the loneliness. Lonely people become sensitive and vulnerable for mass formation because as soon as they start to belong to a mass, they feel not lonely anymore. But that’s an illusion.

(06:53): A mass is a group that is formed not because individuals connect to each other, but because they all connect to a collective ideal. And the longer the mass formation exists, the more solidarity is sucked away from the relationship between individuals and injected in the relationship between the individual and the collective, meaning that in the end people feel much, much more love and solidarity for the collective than for other individuals. And in the final stage, this leads to this jarring situation in which parents start to report their children to the state. And the other way around, children start to report their parents to the state just because even the solidarity with their parents becomes less strong than the solidarity with the collective. So you can understand that perfectly if you understand the psychological mechanism of mass formation.

(07:49): I think that the better you understand the psychological mechanisms involved, the better you see that truth-speech or sincere-speech indeed is the solution and that we are all responsible for contributing to the solution to the problem of totalitarianism. Society as a psychological system is always a complex dynamical system, literally. And complex dynamical systems in nature always have this fascinating characteristic of sensitivity to initial conditions, meaning that at a small change in a minor detail of the system has an impact on the entire system. For instance, a small change in the vibration pattern of one water molecule changes the entire convection pattern in a boiling pot of water. And in the same way, a minor sincere word spoken will have an impact on the entire society.

(08:51): So we all have the responsibility to speak out and no matter where. We can do it in a television program, in a newspaper, but also at the kitchen table and in the supermarket. Also there, we will have an impact on the entire system. We can all contribute to the solution. We shouldn’t feel powerless. We all have power and that makes us all responsible. We should all do our best no matter where we are to speak out in a sincere way and maybe to really try to learn the art of truth-speech. I don’t think we should think in a naive way about truth. Thinking in a naive way about truth has caused a lot of trouble in this world, I think. Truth is something elusive, something that we can be in the presence of for a moment, but that we can never possess. Truth-speech is an art, an art we can learn and we should try to learn it because I think it’s the only way out of totalitarianism. If you want to… One of the best examples, I think one of the most inspiring examples at that level is Mahatma Gandhi, I think.

(10:00): A few years ago I started to be interested in nonviolent resistance because I know that resistance inside of a totalitarian system can only be successful if it is nonviolent. That’s something very typical for resistance against totalitarian systems. And that’s why I started to read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. And the first thing I learned there was that Mahatma Gandhi considered sincere-speech to be the core and the essence of nonviolent resistance. And he mentioned something wonderful in the introduction of his book. He says, “I had no major talents at all. I was not handsome, I was not physically strong, I was not intelligent at school. I was not a good writer and I was not a good speaker, but I had this passion for truth-speech,” He said, for sincere-speech. And time and time again, day after day, he tried to become more honest and more sincere every evening, admitting for himself. If he lied that day or if he could have been spoken in a more sincere way, then he did.

(11:01): And in this way, this man, without any great talent became the most powerful man of India. He did something that even the strongest army in the world couldn’t do at that moment. He kicked out the English of India and that’s what we can do as well. Even a small minority of us is sufficient if we are determined and dedicated to truth and to sincerity, to break the power of the most impressive propaganda system the world have ever seen. We can and will and must do it. I think there are very hopeful historical examples of minorities, of people who changed the world, who changed the world.

(11:40): I’d like to give only one example, Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher thought that 100 people had been sufficient to change medieval society in the society of the Renaissance. The same can happen now. We are at the verge of a big metaphysical revolution, I think to use a concept of Michel Houellebecq. A revolution, which in the end boils down to this. We have to change from a society which is based on the organizing principle of propaganda, to society which is based on the organizing principle of sincerity. And I think each and every one of us who is here can contribute to it. And I hope we will all do so. Thanks.

Tyler Durden Sun, 12/31/2023 - 07:00
Published:12/31/2023 6:03:35 AM
[] EMT 2024 Eve Happy New Year. Buckle in. I suspect this year is going to be one for the history books.... Published:12/31/2023 5:02:28 AM
[Markets] Whistleblower Docs Expose Key Tactics Of The Censorship Industrial Complex: Matt Taibbi Whistleblower Docs Expose Key Tactics Of The Censorship Industrial Complex: Matt Taibbi

Authored by Ella Kietlinska and Jan Jekielek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Documents recently provided by a whistleblower reveal offensive tactics used by government and outside organizations to counter and preempt the spreading of undesirable information, said independent journalist Matt Taibbi.

Mr. Taibbi and journalists Michael Shellenberger and Alex Gutentag recently exposed a new set of documents from the Cyber Threat Intelligence League (CTIL), an “anti-disinformation” group that waged an aggressive information operation on the public.

The new documents, dubbed the “CTI files,” analyzed tactics used against foreign terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, that can now be applied domestically to prevent unwanted information from being published, Mr. Taibbi said in an interview for EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program.

Journalist Matt Taibbi testifies at the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government hearing on “The Twitter Files” in Washington on March 9, 2023, in a still from video. (House Judiciary Committee/Screenshot via NTD)

The CTI files referred to these tactics with the military term “left of boom action” and justified their usage by the danger posed by somebody like former President Donald Trump, the journalist said.

Mr. Taibbi previously investigated and disclosed some of the “Twitter Files” after tech billionaire Elon Musk acquired Twitter in October 2022 and allowed Mr. Taibbi and other designated journalists to query the company’s internal files.

The Twitter Files show how Twitter, a major social media platform for political speech, had been intertwined with the censorship industrial complex to suppress or remove under government pressure content on various subjects, including irregularities in the 2020 elections, mail-in voting issues, and various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government censorship apparatus partnering with academia, nongovernmental organizations, and private research institutions is often called the “censorship industrial complex.”

Preemptive Tactics

CTIL was supposed to be a volunteer organization with a goal to identify misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Taibbi said, but “in reality, you got under the hood—they were interested in basically any topic.”

CTIL described on its website its main goals, which included protecting the medical sector and life-saving organizations worldwide from cyberattacks and cyber threats—mainly related to the COVID-19 pandemic—and making them resilient to disinformation.

While the Twitter Files revealed that Twitter used defensive tactics to control the information posted on its platform, such as censorship and de-amplification, the CTI files show the organization resorted to offensive tactics like burner phones, creating sock puppet accounts, and infiltrating groups, Mr. Taibbi said.

The CTI files also revealed “a sort of a handbook manual on how to create false identities online,” he added.

Other tactics described in the CTI documents included putting financial pressure on disfavored groups through requests to cut off their banking services or even directly going to merchandising outlets to try to stop them from selling their wares, Mr. Taibbi explained.

Such tactics are “the offensive information operation,” he pointed out.

From ‘Counterterrorism to Counter-Populism’

In a report on Substack, Mr. Taibbi wrote that the CTI files exposed that in 2019, “U.S. and UK military and intelligence contractors led by a former UK defense researcher, Sara-Jayne ‘SJ’ Terp, developed the sweeping censorship framework. These contractors co-led CTIL.”

Officially established in March 2020, CTIL grew to more than 1,400 volunteers from almost 80 countries, according to the group’s inaugural report.

Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Chris Krebs speaks during the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity Summit in New York City on July 31, 2018. (Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

In April 2020, CTIL partnered with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to stop malicious cyber activity related to COVID-19, the then-director of CISA announced on Twitter.

Mr. Taibbi said that the sudden emergence of “all of these anti-disinformation groups,” both in government and in civil society, did not occur by accident. He believes that their appearance coincides with the development of the internet and its huge democratizing force in the world that created “all sorts of political energy” that was uncontrollable and gave rise to the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Tea Party, and the Arab Spring.

In 2015 and 2016, a series of events took place that the national security establishment considered very troubling, such as Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to a Labour Party leadership position in the United Kingdom, Mr. Taibbi said.

Both Mr. Corbyn and Mr. Sanders were left-wing populist politicians who gained popularity among young voters.

To the national security establishment, all these events were “illegitimate threats of the same type ... that they had been dealing with overseas,” so it directed its efforts inward from counterterrorism to counter-populism, Mr. Taibbi explained.

The structures built to counter online activity overseas were effective to counter groups like Al-Qaeda, and ISIS, but once that massive structure is turned inward against the country’s own domestic population, it operates with no legal oversight and “it creates all kinds of questions that are kind of horrifying,” Mr. Taibbi said.

“And they’re not even in the same ballpark as the First Amendment.”

Media Competition Versus Shared Endeavor

The training materials included in the CTI files intended for people who are going to review domestic speech featured a quote from the joint chiefs of staff, “talking about how you have to use certain tactics to defeat your enemy,” Mr. Taibbi said. Thus, trainees learned to treat other Americans as the enemy, he added.

This is the mindset of people inside the political establishment in the West, which can be viewed as “a sort of loose confederation of institutions” like media platforms, government, and civil society organizations, he pointed out.

He cited Luke Harding, a journalist at The Guardian, who described such formation as “the shared endeavor” in his article reviewing a book about Bellingcat, a platform for online investigations.

The author of the book believes that “rivalry between media titles is a thing of the past. The future is collaboration, the hunt for evidence a shared endeavor, the truth out there if we wish to discover it,” Mr. Harding wrote.

However, Mr, Taibbi argued that America’s founders “envisioned the press to be an adversarial institution, by its nature.” The concept of the shared endeavor is completely opposite of the founders’ view, he explained.

Americans view “the clash of institutions and the clash of ideas as a good thing,” the journalist said.

“We all think differently, we live differently, we have different faiths, but ultimately, we arrived at a good place together. That system has worked incredibly well in America for hundreds of years.”

Replacing this concept with the other idea, like a shared endeavor, is “authoritarian in nature and ultimately anti-democratic. And it begins with speech,” Mr. Taibbi pointed out.

“There’s a reason that speech is the first guarantee in the Constitution. Because without it, none of the other rights really work.”

Malinformation

Another shift in the information policy is to evaluate information “according to where it rests on the narrative, as opposed to whether it’s true or false,” Mr. Taibbi said.

It is a new concept that defines as disinformation anything that, for example, promotes COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, he said.

“A true story about somebody dying of myocarditis after getting a shot” could be categorized as a form of disinformation, even if that person might be pro-vaccine, because it might cause other people not to get the vaccine, he explained.

It’s what they would call malinformation,” he said.

CISA defines malinformation as information “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.”

Mr. Taibbi cited the Virality Project at Stanford University, which proposed addressing the issue of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy through suppressing or disseminating information in order to shape public opinion.

In February 2022, the Virality Project released a report “with unique insights from real-time monitoring of anti-vaccine narratives across social media platforms.”

The report proposed two approaches for social media platforms to boost preferred authoritative content: “first, raising up authoritative voices by elevating them in search results or on dedicated information carousels or tabs, and second, deplatforming those who repeatedly spread false and misleading information.”

The logo of the social network Instagram is seen on a smartphone, in Toulouse, France, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

For example, Pinterest “only surfaces content from leading public health institutions such as the CDC and WHO,” the report said.

Twitter deplatformed President Trump after the 2020 election along with 70,000 other accounts as “harmful sources,” according to the report.

Facebook removed Instagram accounts that belonged to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Del Bigtree’s “HighWire” talk show after they expressed their critical views on COVID-19 vaccines, the report stated. They had 799,000 and 162,000 followers, respectively, according to the report.

Mr. Kennedy is the founder of Children’s Health Defense and, at that time, served as the organization’s chairman of the board and chief legal counsel.

Mr. Bigtree is a filmmaker, investigative medical journalist, and the host of “The HighWire” talk show.

The job of a traditional journalist is to discern what is true and what is not, said Mr. Taibbi, adding that he was raised as a traditional journalist.

Once it’s true, we put it out there, and then it’s up to you what to do with it.

However, the new approach is to focus on “motive, intent, and likely impact, as opposed to the true/false dichotomy,” Mr. Taibbi said. The factuality issue has become secondary.

“That’s very dangerous,” he said.

Petr Svab contributed to this report.

Tyler Durden Sat, 12/30/2023 - 16:20
Published:12/30/2023 3:38:24 PM
[Markets] Break The Cycle: In 2024, Say No To The Government's Cruelty, Brutality, & Abuse Break The Cycle: In 2024, Say No To The Government's Cruelty, Brutality, & Abuse

Authored by John and Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.

- Edmund Burke

Folks, it’s time to break the cycle of abuses—cruel, brutal, immoral, unconstitutional and unacceptable—that have been heaped upon us by the government for way too long.

Here’s just a small sampling of what we suffered through in 2023.

The government failed to protect our lives, liberty and happiness. The predators of the police state wreaked havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government didn’t listen to the citizenry, refused to abide by the Constitution, and treated the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers shot unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents—including local police—were armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies were allowed to fleece taxpayers. Government technicians spied on our emails and phone calls. And government contractors made a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

The president became more imperial. Although the Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents have claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill. The powers amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whoever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability. The presidency itself has become an imperial one with permanent powers.

The cost of endless wars drove the nation deeper into debt. Policing the globe and waging endless wars abroad hasn’t made America—or the rest of the world—any safer, but it has made the military industrial complex rich at taxpayer expense.

The courts failed to uphold justice. Time and time again, the Supreme Court failed to right the wrongs being meted out by the American police state. A review of critical court rulings over the past decade or so, including some ominous ones by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order and protecting the ruling class and government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The Surveillance State rendered Americans vulnerable to threats from government spies, police, hackers and power failures. Thanks to the government’s ongoing efforts to build massive databases using emerging surveillance, DNA and biometrics technologies, Americans became sitting ducks for hackers and government spies alike. Billions of people have been affected by data breaches and cyberattacks. On a daily basis, Americans were made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to navigate an increasingly technologically-enabled world. The Department of Homeland Security, which has led the charge to create a Surveillance State, has continued to deploy mandatory facial recognition scans at airports and gather biometric data on American travelers. Police were gifted with new surveillance gadgets. The Corporate State tapped into our computer keyboards, cameras, cell phones and smart devices in order to better target us for advertising. Social media giants such as Facebook granted secret requests by the government and its agents for access to users’ accounts. And our private data—methodically collected and stored with or without our say-so—was repeatedly compromised and breached.

Mass shootings claimed more lives. Mass shootings have taken place at churches, in nightclubs, on college campuses, on military bases, in elementary schools, in government offices, and at concerts. In almost every instance, you can connect the dots back to the military-industrial complex, which continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives.

The rich got richer, and the poor went to jail. Not content to expand the police state’s power to search, strip, seize, raid, steal from, arrest and jail Americans for any infraction, no matter how insignificant, the courts continued their practice of jailing individuals who are unable to pay the hefty fines imposed by the American police state. These debtors’ prisons play right into the hands of those who make a profit by jailing Americans.  This is no longer a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is fast becoming a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations,” and its rise to power is predicated on shackling the American taxpayer to a debtors’ prison guarded by a phalanx of politicians, bureaucrats and militarized police with no hope of parole and no chance for escape.

“Show your papers” incidents skyrocketed. We are not supposed to be living in a “show me your papers” society. Despite this, the U.S. government has introduced measures allowing police and other law enforcement officials to stop individuals (citizens and noncitizens alike), demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless searches, and interrogations.

Free speech was dealt one knock-out punch after another. Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors (and championed by those who want to suppress speech with which they might disagree) conspired to corrode our core freedoms, purportedly for our own good. On paper—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—we are technically free to speak. In reality, however, we were only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—allowed. The reasons for such censorship varied widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of free speech.

Police became even more militarized and weaponized. Despite concerns about the government’s steady transformation of local police into a standing military army, local police agencies continued to acquire weaponry, training and equipment suited for the battlefield. There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines.

Schools turned into prisons. So-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers, turned schools into prisons and young people into prisoners.

The government waged a renewed war on private property. The battle to protect our private property has become the final constitutional frontier, the last holdout against our freedoms being usurped. We no longer have any real property rights. That house you live in, the car you drive, the small (or not so small) acreage of land that has been passed down through your family or that you scrimped and saved to acquire, whatever money you manage to keep in your bank account after the government and its cronies have taken their first and second and third cut…none of it is safe from the government’s greedy grasp. At no point do you ever have any real ownership in anything other than the clothes on your back. Everything else can be seized by the government under one pretext or another (civil asset forfeiture, unpaid taxes, eminent domain, public interest, etc.).

The plight of the nation’s homeless worsened. In communities across the country, legislators adopted a variety of methods (parking meters, zoning regulations, tickets, and even robots) to discourage the homeless from squatting, loitering and panhandling. One of the most common—and least discussed—practices: homeless relocation programs that bus the homeless outside city limits.

The government waged war on military veterans. The government has done a pitiful job of respecting the freedoms of military veterans and caring for their needs once out of uniform.